• Health/ Homocysteine

    Cholesterol is no longer the bad guy!

    February is Heart Health Month and we finally see the end of Cholesterol being the bad guy. For over 50 years the Medical Profession and Governments have been telling us that we must cut down our saturated fats and cholesterol if we want to avoid obesity, heart attacks and strokes but in a dramatic turnaround they are now conceding that they were wrong. Heart disease is still a leading cause of death worldwide and obesity is far worse a problem than it was, we now have other major health concerns that have been accelerating like Diabetes, Autism, Dementia, Alzheimers, Autoimmune disease, GERD, Cancer and Chronic Fatigue – could there be a link? Could going low fat for 50 years be a causative factor?

    Cholesterol is essential, it is needed by every cell in our bodies. Here are some of the things that it does:-

    • It strengthens and protects the cell membranes -which could be vital in protecting us against diseases like Cancer and Alzheimer’s
    • It is a building block for the manufacturing of Vitamin D in the body – essential for our immune system.
    • It is essential to our neurotransmitters, nervous system and brain.
    • It enables the liver to make Bile Acids that break down fats and help us to absorb the vital fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Bile acids are essential for good digestion and transit time.
    • It is the base for all the steroid hormones; oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, aldosterone and Cortisol

    Our bodies manufacture Cholesterol in the liver, approximately 2,000 mgs a day. If we deprive ourselves of cholesterol in the diet then the liver tries to make more. It also makes more in response to inflammation within the body in an attempt to protect and heal cells. The average daily intake of Cholesterol from food is 200-400 mgs.

    So have we been trying to look after our heart at the expense of the rest of our body? YES.

    Should we be eating eggs, quality real meat, liver, butter, ghee, duck and goose fat, coconut oil, olive oil? YES.

    Should you be concerned if your cholesterol is high? YES because it shows that you have inflammation in your body, not that you had bacon for breakfast.

    What should we be doing to cut down our health risks for all these diseases?

    • Do not eat low-fat and fat-free processed food
    • Do not consume bad Cholesterols and other fats that have been changed by processing as in processed meats, margarines, corn oil, trans -fats, hydrogenated fats, rapeseed and sunflower oil that contain inflammatory Omega -6
    • Cut down all sugars: sodas, sweeteners, fruit juice and alcohol
    • cut out all gluten grains and products
    • get your Homocysteine blood levels checked and if it is high it means that your methylation processes are not working well and therefore you may be low on Glutathione which is the body’s strongest antioxidant. If so take a Homocysteine lowering supplement that contains methyl group nutrients – Betaine, choline, methionine, Vitamin B6, B12 and Folic Acid.
    • Help your body deal with detoxification and inflammation by eating healthy foods like Beets and carrots, Tomatoes, spinach, cabbage and Avocados that all contain Glutathione or help the body produce it.
    • Eat non-farmed fish and seafood often
    • Use Celtic Sea salt to help get 80+ good minerals into your diet and not just sodium and notice how much better your food tastes.
    • Get plenty of Magnesium into your body by diet, supplements, Magnesium Spray or Magnesium Bath Flakes.
    • STATINS are not necessary in the majority of cases – discuss with your Doctor and read more about these.

    I know it is difficult to comprehend, after all this time, that we no longer need to eat low cholesterol and that we can tuck in to eggs and bacon, good quality steak, chicken, pork, lamb, duck, venison because animal fats do not cause heart disease.  We can eat Avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, butter and ghee.

    I made all these changes and:-

    1. I enjoyed my food so much more
    2. was never hungry between meals
    3. became more flexible
    4. had more energy.
    5. I also lost 1 stone in weight from all the right places
    6. no more joint pain.

    Food with natural fat in it tastes so much better. The Paleo Diet is the easy way to get recipes and ideas but we don’t actually need to go back to the Paleolithic era we only need to go back to the 1940’s-1950’s diet basics and home cooking with lots of fresh vegetables. We also need to support sustainable farming, biodiversity, and buy more seasonal products and locally produced foods so we support our local economies. Go out and forage in your local neighbourhood instead of relying on the supermarket for everything and try new things, food should be enjoyable not just a necessity.

    Good fresh food gives us vitality and health.

    Processed, factory food gives us inflammation and a poor quality of life.

    Listen to your body.

     

    Click here to visit bodykind

     bodykind stock several good Homocysteine lowering supplements and Magnesium products plus Omega 3 oils.

  • Adrenal Fatigue/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ Fibromyalgia/ ME/ Nutritional Medicine

    ADRENAL FATIGUE – the road to recovery.

    Fatigue

    Adrenal fatigue – how to diagnose and get on the road to recovery. Adrenal fatigue is now more usually recognised as a dysfunction of the HPA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis) because of the complex influences and feedback between these three endocrine glands. The Hypothalamus sends messages from the brain to the Adrenal glands, the Pituitary gland and other organs and is responsible for energy levels, body temperature and Circadian Rhythms. The Pituitary Gland is a pea sized gland that produces hormones essential for growth, fluid balance and reproduction. The Adrenal glands sit just above each kidney and produce steroid hormones such as Cortisol, DHEA and sex hormones plus stress hormones like adrenaline and dopamine.

    Anyone who has been ill for a long time, suffered prolonged levels of high stress, has an autoimmune disease or diseases (having one predisposes you to getting others) or has Chronic fatigue syndrome always has a degree of Adrenal Fatigue and HPA Dysfunction. The Adrenal Glands make our natural anti-inflammatory, Cortisol, so when they are under-performing the body is likely to be suffering from severe inflammation and potentially degenerative disease,as well as poor blood sugar control and stress control. NB. If you have already been prescribed NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for your joint pain or inflammation then please read all this information and decrease the drug use asap. These drugs and the gastric protector drugs that are given with them, have many unwanted and even dangerous side effects especially to the digestive lining. They can also affect your absorption of vital nutrients and so lead to more disruption of body symptoms. It is always much better to treat the source of the problems and not just treat the symptoms.

    The symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue will vary with the degree of malfunction of these glands and also may involve some dysfunction of the Thyroid gland as well. (more on that later). You may have some symptoms but still be able to function on a daily basis or have extreme, bed ridden, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

    Symptoms:-

    • low Blood pressure and frequently Postural Hypo-tension – where blood pressure falls on standing up.
    • decreased tolerance to cold
    • Cold hands and feet – often turning white with bluish nail bases.
    • shakiness
    • dizzy spells, feeling faint
    • increased allergies
    • general feeling of exhaustion
    • weakness of ligaments and muscle fatigue
    • low mood/depression/mood swings
    • cravings for salty or sweet food
    • problems controlling blood sugar
    • lower immunity to infections
    • poor sleep quality
    • over-active brain late evening or at night
    • Adrenaline up/ sex hormones down – irritability, depression, anxiety and menstrual problems in women.
    • sensitivity to loud noises
    • palpitations
    • thin, easily broken nails, sometimes with vertical ridges

    If you have a good few of these symptoms and you go to your General Practitioner they may test you and tell you that you don’t have Cushing’s syndrome or Addison’s disease and so therefore there isn’t anything wrong. Most of us know when there is and you can do plenty to fix it either by yourself or with the help of a Functional Medicine Doctor or Nutritionist. It may be possible to obtain an ASI (saliva test) that will be an indicator of the degree of Adrenal exhaustion but saliva tests only tests for free cortisol which is about 3-5% and the amount within the tissues could high and therefore urine tests can be much more accurate. It is important to treat all aspects of this complex system

    • by stress reduction
    • blood sugar regulation
    • Gut dysfunction
    • nutritional supplementation.

    Treatment

    It is essential to get enough Vitamin C on a daily basis as a water soluble vitamin that is not stored in the body or made in the human body (but is in other animals). You need a good source of vitamin C that is easily absorbed and that comes with Bioflavinoids and you have to take a supplement of 2-3,000 mgs to reach a therapeutic dose and cannot initially rely on diet alone. Some people can tolerate the more acidic versions but others may need the buffered versions (sodium ascorbate) and the most neutral for acidity is Sodium Citrate. With some acidic Vitamin C you can reach a intolerance level where you get loose bowel movements and then you have to reduce the dose to your own tolerance level.

    Licorice Root an adaptogenic herb that increases the level of circulating cortisol by reducing its breakdown. We are dealing with people who generally have Low Blood pressure with Adrenal Fatigue so in this case it is OK to take the normal Licorice Root. If you have other underlying health problems that cause you to have High Blood pressure then you need to take the Deglycyrrhized (DGL) type which does not raise blood pressure. It is a good idea to monitor your blood pressure while taking Licorice Root, especially lying and standing B/P so that you can vary the dose according to your results. When your blood pressure is consistently at about 120/90 then you can reduce the dose and monitor the effect. If you have an infection or a relapse in your condition it is often wise to increase the dose for a period of time to help your body cope.

    Celtic Ocean sea salt and drinking enough water will help normalise Blood pressure and provide essential minerals for good glandular function. Or Sizzling Minerals from Simply Naturals that are 75 Plant based minerals.

    Vitamin B Complex 50 mgs which has already been included in supplements recommended but especially B5 (Pantothenic Acid) as a deficiency results in adrenal atrophy. This vitamin is also found in cauliflower, broccoli, salmon, liver and sweet potatoes that are encouraged on the detox diet. Latest research shows that people with certain genetic make-up or problems utilising artificial vitamins may be better taking natural, plant source B Vitamins.

    Probiotics are extremely beneficial for improving gut function and boosting the Immune System. I recommend a six day course of Elixa Probiotic that is much stronger and with more beneficial strains than other makes.

    Zinc and Magnesium may also be needed in doses higher than can be obtained in your diet. Magnesium is well absorbed through a spray onto the skin which is a good way to take it if you hate swallowing too many pills or are having trouble sleeping and it will act as a relaxant prior to bed.

    Some Siberian Ginseng or even Panax Ginseng(which is considered stronger) may help some people as these are adaptogenic herbs but they may not suit everyone and I would not introduce them until you have established the other treatments for a while and are showing improvement. Equally I wouldn’t recommend Ashwaganda or Rhodiola or Astragalus for people who have autoimmune disease because they are very stimulating to the immune system as a whole.

    Rest and relaxation are vital to lowering stress levels, reducing inflammation and improving Adrenal Function. Try some guided Meditation tapes or Apps and find one that suits you. Gentle yoga, Tai Chi or stretching or having a massage could be beneficial. Avoid bright lights or electronic devices in the evening to promote the hormones that aid sleep. Spending time with pets or in Nature and getting some sun exposure is extremely beneficial. Avoid anything that causes anxiety or stress like watching the News, taking on other peoples problems etc. and aim for extreme self care and calm.

    Controlling your blood sugar by eating frequently and including some protein with each meal plus eating more vegetables and less processed carbohydrates and less fruit and sugar is essential for helping your relaxation and sleep. Cortisol is one of the ways our bodies control blood sugar. When blood sugar drops because cortisol can no longer maintain it effectively the Adrenals produce more adrenaline which also activates the nervous system that makes us alert. Waking at regular times in the night (typically about 4am!) is frequently a sign of these rises in adrenaline. This should stabilise with the detox diet and supplements listed above and can be helped by eating some protein before bed and just a couple of Brazil nuts or a piece of cold meat might help.

    Also see the Post on The Thymus gland and the immune system where Licorice root and similar nutrients also help.

    Click here to visit bodykind

  • hormones

    Hormone Havoc

    We have a generation of people who have been poisoned by artificial hormones, hormone havoc. From their teenage years many women have taken ‘the pill’ were initially delighted that they were able to gain control over such an important part of their lives. It did liberate women to a certain point, but then enslaved them again when some discovered that they couldn’t conceive naturally after taking it or that later in life they suffered from hormonal imbalances and cancer.

    The artificial hormones we have been taking by the ton are excreted in urine and become environmental poisons within our food and water chains so that not just the women suffer – men are getting more breast, testicular and prostate cancer, than ever before. It is time to stop. Our systems have been unbalanced by these foreign hormones so we often need help to detox and get back on track.

    So, where did it all go wrong?

    Normally Oestrogen and Progesterone are finely balanced in the human body. Oestrogen is not a single hormone but a group of at least 24 types. It is not merely a ‘sex’ hormone and there are oestrogen receptors throughout the whole body including the vital organs, brain,heart and liver. Some of these oestrogen hormones are stimulating and some protective. We know that Oestriol E3 – the type that is most dominant during pregnancy – is cancer protective whereas Oestradiol E2 is the one predominantly implicated in increased cancer risk. Progesterone is made from a sterol called Pregnenolone which is made from Cholesterol. It is made in the ovaries of  menstruating women, in small amounts by the adrenal glands in both sexes and in the testes in men. It is a precursor of testosterone, all the important adrenal cortical (stress and anti-inflammatory) hormones, and also of oestrogen. Besides its main functions during conception and pregnancy Progesterone has many intrinsic effects on metabolism, cell oxygen levels, cancer prevention, normalising levels of blood sugar, zinc & copper, blood clotting and it is a natural antidepressant.

    Oestrogen stimulates cells called osteoclasts that travel through bone removing the old, weakened bone and leaving little spaces behind. Progesterone stimulates cells called osteoblasts that fill the holes with new bone and the whole balanced system supports repair and ongoing strengthening of our bones. Osteoporosis is bone loss due to a relatively high level of osteoclasts (oestrogen) activity without the balancing effect of osteoblasts from progesterone.

    For years the pharmaceutical industry has focused on talking  about and  replacing oestrogen in the body and ignored progesterone. Progesterone cannot be given by mouth as it is rapidly broken down in the liver and by injection it is locally irritating and painful.

    When they first gave women artificial oestrogen, usually Premarin that came from horses urine, sales rocketed over about 5 years. Then it was discovered that a percentage of women were developing  Endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the womb). This doesn’t happen in women who have balanced hormones and so a synthetic drug called progestogen was added to try to balance the synthetic oestrogen.

    So then the Oestrogen myth was up and running. Supposedly the panacea for all women’s problems, it would keep them young, healthy and feminine for years. Many doctors even “threatened” their patients ominously with predictions of heart disease and osteoporosis if they didn’t take HRT, regardless of any predisposition for either, mine certainly did.

    Now women are becoming more informed and frequently choosing alternatives to synthetic hormones. There are many good books on this subject, (see links) and some people do well with herbal remedies, diet and lifestyle changes. if your body is showing signs of oestrogen dominance (or unopposed oestrogen) then you may benefit from a natural progesterone cream that is simply massaged into the skin. It is well absorbed this way and can redress the balance gradually over a few weeks or months.

    Symptoms of Oestrogen Dominance

    • Acceleration of the aging process
    • Allergies
    • Auto-immune disease like Lupus
    • Breast tenderness
    • Decreased sex drive
    • Depression
    • Fatigue
    • Fat gain – especially around the abdomen, hips and thighs
    • Fibrocystic breasts
    • Foggy thinking
    • Headaches
    • Low blood sugar
    • Increased blood clotting and risk of DVT or Stokes
    • Infertility
    • Irritability
    • Memory Loss
    • Miscarriage
    • Osteoporosis
    • Premenopausal bone loss
    • PMS
    • Thyroid disfunction that mimics hypothyroidism
    • Cancer of Uterus or Breast
    • Fibroids
    • Water retention and bloating

    Western women tend to have a 10 – 15 year period prior to menopause when they are oestrogen dominant they are suffering from many of these symptoms and some doctors are giving them more oestrogen. Much research and many books have been written  on this subject over the last 25 years but still women are being diagnosed and treated with the wrong hormones and many of them are suffering from breast cancer.

  • Integrated Medicine

    Do no harm while healing.

    It is so important to do no harm while healing. As stated in my profile, I have always been a bit at odds with the medical profession. In the early years of my training I could see the point of the discipline and order but not of the lack of personal involvement with the patients. The only time we got to talk with them was while giving a bed bath.( What’s that? I hear some of you say.) Now it is frequently a bowl of lukewarm water plonked on their table and the curtains pulled round.

    Patients were usually too intimidated to talk to the doctors during ward rounds unless asked a direct question. When I was training for my General nursing at Charing Cross Hospital, London, being a teaching hospital it would sometimes be difficult to get all the doctors around the bed because there were so many of them.

    I don’t want to be all negative so I will say that one good thing that used to happen was that whenever anyone was prescribed antibiotics they were always given a Vitamin B complex. It was known that antibiotics kill off the good bacteria in the gut and that this can lead to diarrhoea or a sore mouth and that this simple action can prevent those side effects. Why don’t they do this now, when antibiotics are even stronger? Vitamin B and Acidophilus protects the immune system.

    Over the years there have been some memorable, personal occasions where I have lost faith in the safety of prescribing. At one time I was feeling very unwell and my GP prescribed Premarin (an oestrogen taken from horses urine – more on this in another blog!). She said she thought I was in early menopause due to having a hysterectomy several years before. When I went back after 1 month, not feeling much better, she doubled the dose. This started to give me some bad side effects, one of which was extremely lumpy and painful breasts – for which my GP prescribed Tamoxifen (an anti-oestrgen drug). I looked at her in disbelief and then suggested that it would probably be best if I just stopped taking the oestrogen – she didn’t agree but I did it anyway.

    A much more serious error occurred when my mother was prescribed Methotrexate (a chemotherapy drug) by a Consultant Rheumatologist. Folic Acid is essential for many functions within the body and it is well known that it has to be given to people who are on Methotrexate to prevent serious side effects but the Consultant omitted it from the prescription. This was not noticed by her GP or pharmacist for over a year and it certainly contributed to her death from heart failure.

    OK, we can’t always know if we have been prescribed incorrectly but we know if we are feeling worse rather than better and if this is the case we should clearly tell the doctor. If we suffer side effects we should ask if there is an alternative and not accept even more drugs to disguise the side effects.

    Always remember that the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors states that “they should do no harm” and this should apply to all medical and health professionals.

    Confession: For three years I persuaded my mother to take Echinacea for a couple of weeks whenever she was flying over to visit. Every time she developed a severe cough and felt unwell and we thought that she easily picked up viruses on the plane. Then on one occasion it did not resolve and she was admitted to hospital in the UK with breathing difficulties. They diagnosed Pulmonary Fibrosis and a young, Chinese Junior doctor, who had taken her history pointed out that anyone with Auto-immune disease, like Rheumatoid Arthritis, should not take immune stimulants like Echinacea because it makes their condition worse. I didn’t know this and neither did any of the other doctors but I have since researched it thoroughly and found it to be true. Sorry Mum.

    http://www.nutrasanus.com/echinacea.html

    http://www.medherb.com/92ECHAUT.HTM