ARE YOU SEEING THE LIGHT?

ARE YOU SEEING THE LIGHT?

Are you seeing the light? I am concerned that we all are getting exposed to too much ‘bad’ light, such LED, fluorescent and blue light.

We all need lightLight comes in many forms and is important for our health and wellbeing. Every function of the body is light dependent. But….many people now spend much time indoors with artificial light. This light is so different from our natural sunlight and when we are overexposed our health begins to suffer.

LED light is the light most devices use, such as TV’s, computers and smartphones, and this LED emits a ‘blue violet ‘ lightBlue light is similar to UV light and can be harmful to our eyes. It penetrates deep into the retina of our eyes. We are also exposed to this blue light from low wattage LED lights and compact fluorescent lamps many people use indoors.

Studies have shown too much of this blue light can lead to insulin problems, obesity and mood disturbances. (1)

Blue light also suppresses melatonin production and can affect our quality of sleep or even cause insomnia.

The ‘Review of Optometry’ (2), states that;

“ Over time, our eyes are exposed to various sources that emit this blue-violet light (e.g., the sun, LED lighting, CFLs). Combine that with the use of tablets, TVs, computer screens and smart phones, and there’s no doubt our exposure to blue-violet light is on the increase. This cumulative and constant exposure to the blue-violet light is going to accumulate over time and has the potential to cause damage to the retinal cells, which is going to slowly lead to retinal cell death and can in turn lead to AMD ‘’ (age related macular degeneration)

The healthiest lights to use indoors are incandescent and halogen lights, says Dr. Jacob Liberman, a light pioneer.

And the good news is you can get blue light filters for your devices such as computers and smarphones. I have recently downloaded f.lux on my laptop and I don’t even notice it. It’s also free! Iris is another company that offersblue light filters (free and paid) with a good reputation. I chose f.lux as it was easier to understand and download!

Protective eye glasses are also available. Please read this article for more information about blue light and eye protectionhttp://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/blue-light.htm

I hope you get a good nights sleep and look after your eyes!

PARASITES…..THE ENERGY VAMPIRES!

PARASITES…..THE ENERGY VAMPIRES!

” Parasites, the hidden epidemic”

Parasites. The mere word can make you cringe or shudder! But many people are infected with them. Could parasites be the underlying cause of your fatigue and other health issues such as leaky gut, food intolerances, Irritable bowel syndrome, skin condition or allergies?

Parasites can contribute to many health ailments such as chronic allergies including hives, food allergies, chronic candidiasis (candida), asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome and Inflammatory bowel diseases .

Over my 17 years seeing patients in clinic I have found parasites becoming a lot more common. A lot more people are affected now days and there are a wide range of symptoms they can cause, and also many diseases they can contribute to. Fatigue, teeth grinding, nausea and flatulence are some of the ‘vague’ symptoms that parasites can cause.

Most people think of tapeworms when worms are mentioned, the type you can see and can cause an itchy anus! But there are many other microscopic worms which also live on our blood and other parts of the human body.

Two of the most common parasites Blastocystis hominis  (BH) and Dientamoeba fragilis (D fragilis) can be the cause of irritable bowel syndrome. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance of the intestinal microbiome, and low grade inflammation are common in parasitic infections. D. fragilis can be a common cause of travellers diarrhoea.

Giardia intestinalis is another common parasite that is found in contaminated food or water and can be asymptomatic, or cause watery diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramping. Giardia can cause gluten intolerance.

” Over 130 different “hidden invaders” can account for over 385 diseases. Chronic fatigue and candida can be a case of chronic giardia. Food and environmental allergies disappear when worms are eliminated. ”  (1)

Dr. Jay Davison says that parasites can house other bacteria, viruses and also Lymes disease! Parasites also absorb heavy metals, they absorb toxins like a sponge! (2)

We can be infected by parasites from food, water and can they also be airborne, which is a bit scary.  Animals, especially dogs, cats and rabbits have parasites and can transmit them to humans. Tapeworms are a common one that dogs carry and can be transmitted to us. It’s a good idea to not let your dog lick your face!

As mentioned earlier on of the most common invaders are Blastocystis hominis and they usually coincide in the human body with candida and bacteria. It can cause intermittent symptoms such as allergies, bowel problems and skin problems and will show up when your body is under stress and the immune system is weakened.  People with grain intolerances or allergies commonly are infected with BH.

Exterminate, exterminate!

There are many herbs and formulation that are effective for eliminating parasites. It is important to take them for long enough though, as they can be hard to eliminate. Probiotics, digestive enzymes with betaine HCL, and boosting your immune system will help.

And very importantly, you need to change the terrain by improving your health and body through a healthy diet. This must be more alkaline and include as much fresh foods as possible. You can include pumpkins seeds, carrots, onion and garlic to help eliminate them. Its suggested to avoid all sugars, this includes in dairy (lactose), alcohol, fruit (fructose), breads and other processed foods as they will make you more acidic, which will help assure the parasites continue to exist. Parasites love sugar!

If you suspect you have parasites or have a health condition that is unresolved and you think it possibly could be linked to worms, please come and see me! I can detect parasites in the live blood analysis in my clinic.

References

 

Has winter got you SAD?

Has winter got you SAD?

HAS WINTER GOT YOU SAD?

Do you get sad and down in winter? In Australia, about 1 in 300 people are effected by seasonal affective disorder affects (1). Especially in the southern states of Australia where there is less winter sun and cooler temperatures in winter.

SAD is also known as ‘winter blues’ and is a mood disorder that affects people in the winter months when there is less sunlight. These people get down and depressed in the winter months, have less energy and sleep for longer than usual. They may also experience weight gain, mood swings irritability, have appetite changes and be hypersensitive. Withdrawing from social situations is also common

BUT…. Did you know that you can also get the opposite in summer? When there is more sun and longer daylight hours some people experience more anxiety and energy and less sleep. Melatonin is our sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain.

In the colder winter months, the reduction in sunlight means our melatonin is produced earlier in the day and sometimes its production is also prolonged in the mornings. This upsets our ‘ circadian rhythm’ which is our internal 24 hour sleep/ wake cycle. Research suggests that SADs is to do with the delay in our circadian rhythm. These changes in melatonin also influence our serotonin levels which is our ‘happy ‘ hormone and in turn influences our mood.

More on Melatonin ….. for more than just sleeping……..

Melatonin also regulates core body temperature, is immune enhancing and has antioxidant properties. Most people are familiar with it helping lessen jet lag whilst traveling.
It treats age related insomnia and improves sleep efficiency in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Hungtinton’s diseases.
It also reduces blood pressure in people that are hypertensive (already have high blood pressure. )
(2)

C’MON….GET HAPPY AGAIN!   Natural Treatment options…..

1. EXERCISE
US research showed that walking 3 times a week for 30 minutes if you are depressed can make you feel less depressed. I would recommend if you suffer from SADS you exercise every day and outdoors so then you get natural sunlight and vitamin D as well. Sunlight stimulates the pineal gland in the brain to produce melatonin at night time to induce sleep and regulates our circadian rhythm.

2. LIGHT THERAPY
A dose of sunlight first thing in the morning can help with our serotonin and melatonin production and set our body clock or circadian Rhythm.
The more we are exposed to sunlight the more serotonin we produce which can stave off day time melatonin and depression. Melatonin makes us feel sleepy and is produced as the sun goes down.
Research has shown that 15 minutes of blue light therapy is equivalent to 2 hours of natural sunlight. Blue light is used as research has found that this specific colour light stimulates the part of our retina which differentiates night time from day time. You can read more about this HERE.
http://psycheducation.org/…/blue-light-is-the-light-that-m…/
Jeff Collings, clinical director of sleep and snoring solutions company MCS Australia, recommends busy office workers getting little to no natural light keep a blue light box on their desk.
“A ten minute burst when you are feeling a little low can really perk you up. The light works instantly and is completely natural.”
Bright white “full spectrum” light at 10,000 lux, blue light at a wavelength of 480 nm at 2,500 lux or green (actually cyan or blue-green) light at a wavelength of 500 nm at 350 lux are used, with the first-mentioned historically preferred. (3)
For comparisons on the different types of light therapies available, check outhttp://light-therapy-lamps-review.toptenreviews.com/.
Pub med have many research papers on Light therapy and depression.

Have a look at this one “The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: a review and meta-analysis of the evidence”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0021785/
Professor Trevor Norman is a psychiatrist in Melbourne and he says research into bright light therapy has offered the most hope. “In one study at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, they found sitting in front of a bright fluorescent light effectively reduced symptoms.” (4)

3. TO SUPPLEMENT OR NOT TO SUPPLEMENT?

HERBS
A study showed that St. Johns wort improve the condition in those who regularly experienced winter depression. Is has been shown to be more effective in conjunction with light therapy. Other adrenal and adpatogen hebs can lift mood and help us feel more alive in the winter months. These include the ginsengs, Siberian and panax, and other herbs to keep in mind are Rhodiola and Withania. Withania is one of my favourite herbs. It helps us with moods, sleeping, reduces anxiety and has mild antidepressant qualities.

VITAMIN D and ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

If you are getting less sunlight then you may be vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is important for all round brain health as vitamin D receptors in increase nerve growth in the brain. Optimal levels are at least 100 mol/l. As vitamin D is fat soluble taking it with fats will increase its absorption. Omega 3 fatty acids are also important for brain health. These fats found in fish oil help stabilise moods and emotions.

5HTP
5HTP or 5 – hydroxytryptophan, an activated form of the amino acid tryptophan, is the precursor to serotonin, along with co factors vitamin B6, magnesium and folate. This is a practitioner only product and is best discussed with your naturopath.

MELATONIN
Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) have found that melatonin, a naturally occurring brain substance, can relieve the doldrums of winter depression, known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. I would not recommend this in all cases.

4. GET YOU GUT HEALTH RIGHT!!
The majority of serotonin is produced in our gut. So it’s imperative to have a good balance of the gut flora. Eating a healthy diet of fresh foods with plenty of vegetables will help our gut produce more of the good bacteria. You may crave carbohydrates and processed foods but they will only encourage growth of the bad bacteria and result in less serotonin production. A good quality probiotic will be valuable here.

A combination of different therapies is suggested to counteract SADS and I would recommend that if you suffer from this, that you exercise and get sunlight daily at the very least.

REFERENCES

1- http://www.smh.com.au/…/sad-b…/2006/07/05/1151779007605.html
2 Sleep, health and consciousness, a physicians guide. Reza Samvat and Henry Oseki.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_affective_disorder
http://www.smh.com.au/…/sad-b…/2006/07/05/1151779007605.html

Co Q 10 for energy

Co Q 10 for energy

Co enzyme Q 10. Heard of it? Many people have . Or have you recently heard of the active form, Ubiqiunol ? This active form is more easily used by the body.

But what is it I hear you ask and what does it do ??? It’s an enzyme that is naturally produced in each of our cells in our body to PRODUCE ENERGY. This is important! Otherwise our cells won’t function and we end up with disease.

Co-Q10 is produced in the ‘mitochondria’ of each cell of your body, which is like the  ‘engine ‘of our cells. This is where 80% of our cells energy is produced. Co Q 10 is needed for our muscles to function normally and is most concentrated in the heart muscle. Also in the liver and kidneys.  It is also an anti oxidant, which means it can protect our cells from damage and protects us from free- radicals. This potential ‘damage’ could be from chemicals, viruses, hormones, medications poor diet and ageing.

Studies have shown Co Q 10 to be low in people with Chronic fatigue syndrome. (CFS) and fibromyalgia. (1)

The levels in your body can be reduced due to pharmaceutical drug use, ageing, disease or genetic failure. The medications which affect its production are the oral contraceptive pill, statins (for lowering cholesterol) and therefore reduce the serum levels of Co enzyme Q10. It is highly recommended if you are on a statin to take Co Q10 concurrently.

This wonderful enzyme can increase stamina and endurance and protects our cardiovascular system and our HDL, or good cholesterol. It has also been found to neuroprotective activity, which means it protects our nerve cells from damage.

“ Co Q0 10 has also been used to treat neuromuscular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease. Huntington’s Disease and more” (2)

And I think I mentioned before in one of my videos, it can slow down wrinkle formation as it slows down ageing! Yay for that!

Co1 10 can be used in high cholesterol, hypertension, chronic fatigue syndrome, to reduce the risk of dementia and other diseases.  Even if your energy is a bit lower than it used to be, you may find it very helpful. I personally would suggest that everyone over the age of 40 takes it!

Food sources of Co Q10 include beef, chicken, peanuts, almonds and oily fish such as ocean salmon and sardines.  Cooking destroys some of it and beef being the richest food source, contains roughly 2.6 mg in a serve that is about the size of a card deck. (3)  To get the therapeutic benefits you need to be taking much more than that in a supplemental form, from 100 mg upwards.

And please, if you are on any medications or have any serious medical conditions and you are considering taking Co Q10, you will need to check with me, or your health practitioner for any contraindications.

Here is to more stamina and a longer life!

REFERENCES

  • Myamae T, Seiki M, Naga T, et al. Increased oxidative stress …..amelioration of hypercholesterolemia and fatigue ….. Redox Rep. 2013 (12-19).
  • 2- Salama , N, Yuan TF, Machado s, et al. Co-eznyme Q 10 to treat neurological disorders 2013 August 641-664
  • http://www.livestrong.com/article/397604-vegetables-with-the-highest-source-of-coenzyme-q10/
FATIGUE AND ANXIETY….. IS IT YOUR THYROID??

FATIGUE AND ANXIETY….. IS IT YOUR THYROID??

Did you know your thyroid gland can cause fatigue if it’s under active, and fatigue and anxiety if it over active? Regularly I see patients more often with sub clinical hypothyroidism, where the thyroid is functioning sub optimally.  If the TSH, or ‘thyroid stimulating hormone’ in your blood, tests between 2 and 5, (this number starts at 0 and can reach over 100), Doctors will tell you it’s okay. Your TSH levels should ideally be between 1 and 2. Commonly TSH is tested in isolation, but always should be tested alongside Free T3 and Free T4 (more about these hormones later). Your thyroid can be under active for years before it shows in blood tests and eventually becomes a full blown thyroid disease.

Your thyroid can be slightly underactive and still produce concerning symptoms for you. Have you been suspecting it’s your thyroid when all you get from your Doctor is – ‘its fine’ ? TSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland (in the brain) as a response to thyroid hormones. If your thyroid hormones are too low, then the pituitary will respond by producing more TSH which will stimulate the thyroid to try and produce more thyroid hormones.

What does your thyroid gland actually do?

The thyroid glands hormones regulate oxygen use and basal metabolic rate (BMR), cellular metabolism, growth and development. The thyroid regulates the metabolism by stimulating protein synthesis and the use of glucose for energy. Its hormones play an important role in the maintenance of normal body temperature and accelerate body growth especially the growth of nervous tissue. They also increase triglyceride (a type of fat) breakdown and excretion of cholesterol. (1). Commonly, people with high cholesterol have thyroid issues.

If hormone levels drops below normal, metabolism inside your cells slows down and energy levels drop. If the hormones become too high, the metabolism and all the body processes speed up. The thyroid also affects the body’s sensitivity to adrenal hormones.

“both the glands produce hormones that regulate our energy levels. In a simplified sense, the thyroid gland sets our “idle” level or our baseline energy level, and the adrenal glands acts as the accelerator for our energy level when demand is higher”

Dr. Banks, Endocrine specialist, USA

For more information on the adrenal glands please see my blog ‘3 stages of adrenal dysfunction and what to do about it’.

 The main Thyroid hormones

 TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone, which is produced by the Pituitary gland in the brain. TSH acts on the thyroid gland which produces the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, using the nutrients tyrosine and iodine.

TBG is thyroid binding globulin which carries T4 and T3 to the tissues to exert their metabolic effect.

T4 is thyroxine (contains 4 molecules of iodine), the ‘inactive’ thyroid hormone which is the precursor to T3 or reverse T3

T3 is Triiodothyronine (contains 3 molecules of iodine), the ‘active’ hormone is produced when the body needs energy, by removing  an iodine atom From T4, it then becomes  T3. T3 is 5 to 7 times more biologically active than T4.

RT3 is reverse T3, an inactive form of T3, which is made by the body to tone down energy. If reverse T3 is too high it binds up your ‘active’ Free T3, which can cause symptoms of hypothyroidism despite a normal thyroid function test.

TRH is thyrotropin releasing hormone which is released by the hypothalamus gland in the brain. It monitors the levels of thyroid hormones in the body and acts on the pituitary gland to produce TSH.

Thyroid diagram

Brain… thyroid …action !

The hypothalamus (part of the brain that regulates the autonomic nervous system and endocrine glands) monitors the thyroid hormones and produces TRH, which then acts on the pituitary gland (also in the brain) to produce TSH. TSH acts on the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4. Nutrients used during this process are iodine and tyrosine. T4 is then converted to T3 by deiodinase enzymes, which depend on adequate selenium in the body. This happens mainly in the liver but also in the gut, muscles, brain and the thyroid gland. TBG carries T4 and T3 into the tissues where they become free T3 and Free T4, then binding to thyroid hormones receptors (THR’s ) and exert their metabolic effect.

(3)

Common symptoms of an underactive thyroid

The symptoms are very important, the most common being fatigue, poor concentration, feeling mentally groggy, weight gain, dry skin, cold hands and feet, constipation, depression, high cholesterol, high estrogens, heavy periods, hair loss, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia and insomnia. Some people experience a tight feeling around the throat or have frequent throat or lost voice issues. Their reflexes can be slow and they can feel cold all the time or have an intolerance to cold. Some people also get pain or joint stiffness and numbness / tingling in hands and feet including Carpel tunnel syndrome.

Children with hypothyroidism have symptoms that are not as specific as adults, but mainly are fatigue, brain fog and hair loss.

When testing for hypothyroidism it is best to use the basal body temperature test and also look at the blood test results.

How to do ‘The basal body temperature test.’

Take your temperature on waking each morning for at least 5 days. Lying very still in bed for around 10 minutes with a thermometer under your arm. If its digital don’t turn it on until the 10 minutes is up. If its mercury then shake it down the night before. The reading shouldn’t be below 36.4 degrees Celsius. If it is consistently then your thyroid is underactive.

If the temperature is consistently low I usually suggest my patients have a blood test to check TSH, Free T3, Free T4 and reverse T3. A more comprehensive test may involve the thyroid auto antibodies, urinary iodine, homocysteine (an amino acid produced in the body from methionine, another amino acid), serum selenium and plasma zinc.

The overactive thyroid or underactive thyroid…. or both??

I have had an under active and over active thyroid gland at the same time, during a period of high stress in my life. I went from having a racing heart and anxiety to feeling depressed and flat as a tack. Fortunately naturopathy offers effective support for thyroid disorders. It was resolved very quickly with all the right lifestyle changes and the right remedies.

If the thyroid is inflamed or if the immune system decides to attack it, it becomes a form of thyroiditis. A common form is Hashimoto’ disease, where the body produces antibodies against the thyroid tissue. A common trigger is stress and leaky gut, or an existing auto immune disease such as celiac disease. The thyroid becomes inflamed and over produces hormones then eventually becomes under active. Grave’s disease is another auto immune thyroid disease which causes the thyroid to produce too many thyroid hormones.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

According to research, 95% of hypothyroid cases are due to Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune thyroid condition. The immune system attacks the thyroid gland and eventually the thyroid loses the ability to produce hormones and hypothyroidism develops. This can take years and in some cases the thyroid can be overactive for a short period of time, but doesn’t last long as it soon becomes underactive. Hashimoto’s is diagnosed by a high level of TSH, low T3 and T4 and the presence of antibodies. The two main anti bodies are TPO (thyroid peroxidase antibodies) and TGAb (Thyroglobulin antibodies). Hashimoto’s is often associated with gluten intolerance and/or celiac disease, so a gluten anti body blood test is also warranted. Vitamin D levels may also be low.

Grave’s disease

This is the most common form of overactive thyroid and accounts for 85% of all hyperthyroidism cases. (4)

Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disease. The immune system produces an antibody that attacks or stimulates the thyroid gland to produce high levels of thyroid hormones. This toxic level of thyroid hormones is called thyrotoxicosis. These people can have symptoms which include extreme anxiety, protruding eyes and cardiac issues. Blood tests involved in diagnosing this disease are Low TSH, High levels of Free T3 and free T4 and thyroid stimulating auto antibodies (TSI). TPO antibodies may also be present.

 Overactive thyroid symptoms.

If the thyroid hormone levels are too high, some of the following symptoms may be present.

Hair loss

Anxiety

Nervousness, shortness of breath

Bulging eyes (in Grave’s disease)

Rapid heart beat

Diarrhoea/ loose stools

Weight loss

Being over sensitive to heat.

Hand tremors

Sometimes a goitre is present (see below),

Insomnia

Increased appetite and increased sweating.

Poor concentration

Light or absent menstruation/periods

Goitre and Thyroid nodules

A goitre is an enlarged thyroid gland and is a symptom of many thyroid disorders. Commonly it is because of inadequate iodine intake which causes low levels of thyroid hormones and the stimulation of TSH can cause enlargement of the gland. Nodules can be part of a multi nodular goitre.

There are many types of thyroid nodules and they are more common in women and in people with iodine and selenium deficiencies. They can also be caused by inflammation of the thyroid gland (as in Hashimotos), radiation or chemical exposure. The four types of single nodules are fluid filled cysts, benign adenoma, slow growing adenoma and rarely a cancerous adenoma. Most nodules are symptomless, but some such as the ‘hot nodules’ which produce thyroid hormones cause the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Some cysts can also cause neck symptoms such as trouble swallowing and change in your voice.

What affects the thyroid gland?

  • BPA; Bisphenol A, the main source is from plastics but also receipts
  • Chemicals such as organo chlorides (in herbicides and pesticides), PCB’s and PBDE’s , (polychlorinated bisphehyl and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in plastics, adhesives, insulating materials, flame retardants, carpets and upholstery)
  • Chlorine and fluoride in drinking water and fluoride also in toothpaste
  • Goitrogen foods such as unfermented soy products and uncooked cruciferous vegetables
  • Antidepressants
  • HRT or the contraceptive pill, estrogen being the main offender here
  • Heavy metals such as mercury from dental fillings, lead from car fumes and water pipes, and cadmium from car fumes, pesticides and in white flour products.
  • Stress and extreme emotions.
  • The thyroid can be effected if there are problems with expressing oneself

Thyroid function is easily impaired by chronic stress and adrenal fatigue as well as iodine deficiency (which is common in Australia), a high intake of goitrogenic foods, radiation, exposure to toxins and autoimmune thyroid disease. (2)

The thyroid and cardiovascular system.

People with Low T4 / thyroxine levels have slower methylation ability as it slows down MTHFR. MTHFR is an enzyme which breaks down folate into its biologically active form. This leads to an increase in homocysteine, a part of the methylation cycle which if high long term, can cause cardiovascular problems.

Methylation is a metabolic process which happens in every cell of our body and more than a billion times per second. It affects our body’s ability to produce and regulate chemicals, hormones and to switch genes on and off. It is involved in production of neurotransmitters and DNA repair and detoxification.

Thyroid solutions

Your symptoms and type of thyroid disorder, whether full blown or subclinical, are treated individually. Having the guidance of a naturopath is very important whether you are already being treated by a medical doctor or not.

Part of the support is not just for symptoms but for the reasons behind the type of thyroid disorder. Treating and improving gut function is very important for all thyroid disorders. Leaky gut is commonly associated with Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s, so this needs to be quickly addressed. Nutrient deficiencies also need to be addressed.

Food sensitivities and allergies need to be tested and eliminated. A Gluten free diet is very important to follow in autoimmune disease. Dairy free is also recommended as the casein (milk protein) can produce inflammation and/or immune system problems for many people.

Stress needs to be reduced or avoided, and this includes toxins/ chemical exposure, avoidance of known allergens, overwork and lack of sleep. It is very important to always support the adrenal gland function, at some stage the liver support and even a detox may be needed. .

There are many herbs and nutrients which can help normalise the thyroid and can stand alone or support any medical treatment.

If you suspect thyroid dysfunction, start with your basal body temperature test and then have blood tests. It is important to catch it early to avoid harmful bodily effects it can exert.

I have helped many patients with thyroid disorders over the last 17 years. If you would like my guidance, please book for a consultation. for those of you not in South Australia, I also offer phone or Skype consultations! 

  • References
  1. Principles of anatomy and physiology. Tortora and Grabowski. Thyroid gland, p 520-525
  2. Biopractica Thyroid webinar notes
  3. The importance of Adrenal and Thyroid health – Eagle Professional natural medicine
  4. Your thyroid problems solved – Dr. Sandra Cabot.

 

Boost your immune system and avoid illness

Boost your immune system and avoid illness

Do you get sick constantly, or as soon as someone with a sniffle looks at you? Do you work in an environment where illness is shared and you feel like you are always exposed to germs? You can naturally boost your immune system and avoid getting sick this season.

To vaccinate or to not vaccinate? 

Do you really need to get a flu vaccine?? They can make you sick, suppress your immune system and contain some toxic substances such as thimerosal (a mercury derivative) and formaldehyde!
If you are sick already or if your immune system is poor, then having flu’ vaccine can be dangerous and can make you very sick. So just be aware! For more info check out Dr. Mercola’s very informative article here;
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/31/flu-vaccination-epa-safety-limit-for-mercury.aspx

A healthy gut for a healthy immune system
80 % of the immune system relies on a healthy gut. Take a good quality probiotic and prebiotic. There are certain bacterial strains that are particularly good to boost the immune system.

Eat more raw, natural and alkaline foods 
Bugs thrive in an acidic and unhealthy terrain; meaning the fluids of your body. An acidic environment lets these pathogens thrive! So even though you may feel like eating junk when you are sick, eating more alkaline foods makes it harder for the bugs to survive. As a general guide, fruit and vegies are alkaline and animal foods and processed foods are more acidic. And I am talking about ‘alkaline digestive’ , meaning they become alkaline after digestion.

Add fresh garlic, ginger and other fresh herbs to your meals. They are naturally antimicrobial, which means they fight the bad bugs.

Boost your immunity with vitamins and herbs
Preventative herbs include astragalus you can take this long term, and echinacea- you should only take this short term, but these can both prevent you from getting sick in the first place. If you can spend more money (and find them), then reishi and shiitake mushroom supplements are amazing immune boosters! Vitamins C and D are particularly important for the immune system and to help fight viruses and bacteria. Zinc is an important mineral for the immune system. Many people are zinc deficient.

Full force- Treating a cold or flu 
You should start boosting up your supplements as soon as you have that slightest feeling you may be coming down with something. You can take them every 3 to 4 hours.  Echinacea can be taken for all types of colds and flu’s and andrographis is another great herb for all symptoms of colds and flu’s. Golden seal is very good for sinus infections and treating diarrhoea and reducing mucus production. Elderberry is found in conjunction with these herbs to help reduce symptoms and coughs respond well to herbs such as thyme, mullein, lime flower, marshmallow and licorice root (but not the lollies!). Sore throats respond well to an echinacea and zinc gargle, if you get the good stuff it also has  numbing effect. No need for those horrible chemical throat lozenges!

Did you ever have Glandular fever??
If you had glandular fever or know that you have been exposed to the Epstein barr virus (EBV) , the virus that causes glandular fever,  then it can become active again at any stage of your life. If you suffer general fatigue with or without slightly swollen glands, then the virus probably has become active again. When you are healthy and in balance the EBV lies dormant in your body. A bit like the cold sore virus, as they are both herpes type viruses. The adrenal glands are affected by EBV, so I generally support the immune system and the adrenals when EBV is suspected. This needs a multi – pronged approach and seeing a naturopath for a personalised treatment plan is warranted.

If you would like some help boosting your immune system then please contact me for an in clinic or Skype consultation

You can phone me on 0419 106 019 or email me at kated@katedrivernaturopath.com.au

Reflux, GERD and PPI’s

Reflux, GERD and PPI’s

Proton pump inhibitors, or PPI’s block the gastric acid secretion in your stomach. Nexium and Losec are some common names for this drug. Doctors commonly prescribe PPI’s for symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and stomach ulcers. Unfortunately, many of these people with reflux actually have low stomach acid to begin with. I have seen a lot of cases of reflux clear up when a person diet is cleaned up.

Long term use can impair your digestion of food, lead to nutrient deficiencies, cause fatigue and leave you more prone to other health issues.

When you take this medication, it suppresses the production of acid in your stomach. This means you don’t digest you foods efficiently and they ‘ ferment’  in your bowels. They also lower the production of acid in your intestines, letting opportunistic pathogens (bacteria) overgrow, including Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli. Should this continue long term it can lead to SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

And think about it, if it inhibits absorption, then nutrients become malabsorbed. In particular the nutrients most effected are;

Magnesium

Calcium

Vitamin B12

Iron

Zinc

Folate

Chris Kresser, a very knowledgeable functional medicine practitioner in the US has discussed this topic quite extensively on his website in 4 different articles. You can start reading here: https://chriskresser.com/what-everybody-ought-to-know-but-doesnt-about-heartburn-gerd/

Medicine.com  says:

‘PPIs may increase the risk of Clostridium difficile infection of the colon. High doses and long-term use (1 year or longer) may increase the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures of the hip, wrist, or spine. Prolonged use also reduces absorption of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin).

Long-term use of PPIs has also been associated with low levels of magnesium (hypomagnesemia). Analysis of patients taking PPIs for long periods of time showed an increased risk of heart attacks.

Therefore, it is important to use the lowest doses and shortest duration of treatment necessary for the condition being treated. ‘  (1)

PPI’s have also been shown to harm the kidneys (2) and  impair cognitive function. Long term use has been linked to an increase in a risk of dementia. (3)

50 % of the population have the bacteria H. pylori living in their stomachs, and some may experience acid reflux or burning in the stomach and nausea. Lowering the stomach acid by taking PPI’s lets the bacteria thrive and can lead to worsening of symptoms.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

If you value your health, when you look at long term consequences, most people would want to get off of this drug altogether. If you choose to do so, consult your Doctor, do it very slowly and make sure you have changed your diet and consulted a naturopath to help you with your diet and alternative natural supplement support.

Clean up your diet.

The biggest offenders here are white flour products especially bread, sugar, rich or fried/fatty foods, coffee and alcohol.  In many cases, avoiding these foods as much as possible can eliminate reflux altogether.

 Supplements

If you are really are one of a few that have stomach acid, then a mineral / magnesium supplement and herbs such as licorice and meadowsweet reduce stomach acid and inflammation effectively. Slippery elm also has a lovely soothing effect and can help heal and protect the digestive mucosal lining. Stress reduction and support for the nervous system is also recommended.

If you are low in stomach acid then digestive enzymes with betaine hydrochloride is important. These are taken with meals. Making sure you chew slowly and relax when you are eating helps you digest more efficiently.

Other supplements can include liver support and probiotics.

If you need support with any of these issues or reflux symptoms, please contact me for a consultation.

REFERENCES

1 http://www.medicinenet.com/proton-pump_inhibitors/page2.htm#what_are_the_side_effects_of_proton_pump_inhibitors_ppis

2 http://jasn.asnjournals.org/content/early/2016/04/13/ASN.2015121377

3 http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/2487379

Detox your home and body. A short guide to natural alternatives.

Detox your home and body. A short guide to natural alternatives.

A few of you have asked what alternatives to use to replace mainstream chemicals, so I thought I would write a short list. You can Google anything nowadays, so I am sure you will find plenty more!

Garden and bugs

A great bug deterrent for plants is a mix of garlic, grated soap, chilli flakes, mixed in water and use in spray bottle on your plants. White vinegar on its own or with soap flakes, sprayed directly onto weeds can ‘wither’ them within a few hours.

Some plants are not as susceptible to vinegar. A waxy coating or a “hairy” (fuzzy) surface may interfere with the absorption of the vinegar. This is the type that would suffer more by adding the soap to a vinegar weed killer recipe. (1)

If you can pull out your weeds it is much better for our soil and our health.

To deter flies coming in your house try putting basil plants near the doors. There are also some great bug zappers, fly traps and mosquito deterrents and zappers available in camping stores and online.

House Cleaning

White (home brand) vinegar, Its antibacterial, antifungal, inhibits mould, and has been shown to kill the Flu virus. Anti bacterial sprays and soaps don’t do this. They just break down the natural barrier of your skin and expose you to some nasty toxins. There are some great natural antibacterial soaps and hand washes based on olive leaf extract and tea tree oil and other essential oils. Lemon essential oil is highly antibacterial and clove essential oil is great for killing mould (be careful with this one as its pretty potent).

Bi carb soda is great for dirt you have to ‘scrub” and mixed with white vinegar makes a pretty potent cleaner!

White vinegar and newspaper makes a great glass and mirror cleaner! You probably already know that one…..

If you would prefer to buy one, the ‘Eureka’ eucalyptus and citrus spray is a great multi purpose cleaner. Its great for bathrooms and cleaning tables. I use it in my clinic and it smells great! It doubles up as a relief of aches and pains and can be sprayed onto cuts to disinfect them.

‘Eco store’ are a natural range of cleaning products and include dishwashing and clothes detergents.

Soaps

Most soaps contain animal fats (sodium tallowate) and synthetic fragrances. Not really that nice to rub all over your body. There are now some great natural soaps in the supermarkets. I prefer the coconut oil based ones, but olive oil and goats milk soaps are also very soothing and nourishing for the skin. Dr. Bronner’s do an organic range of soaps and skin care. Check out:

http://www.drbronner.com.au/

 

Skin care

The one big thing to avoid in skincare and make up is parabens. They have been shown to contribute to cancers. Try and avoid any long sounding chemical names. A must have is ’The Chemical Maze’ book. This pocket seized book has a comprehensive listing of chemicals in food, cosmetics and household products , analyses them and tells us what the potential sides affects can be. Get it at Booktopia here: http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-chemical-maze-bookshelf-companion-bill-statham/prod9780957853584.html?source=pla&gclid=CN_x8-XJttACFQqAvQod6kgGUQ

I have come across some great natural skin care over the years, and it just keeps getting better! Depending on your skin and your needs you can choose from Antipodes, who also have a completely natural face moisturiser with sunscreen. They have a range that suits every skin type. I also love the local ‘Renew me’ natural anti-aging skincare range for mature skin, made in Adelaide and available only online.

A range of body moisturisers I like are Avalon organics , Weleda and Dr. Bronners. Trilogy do the best hand cream I have ever come across- their ‘Ultra Hydrating hand cream “. For anyone that washes their hands a hundred times a day like me and needs to give them extra hydration.

And talking about washing hands, avoid those antibacterial washes. Apart from making bacteria more resistant, they destroy the natural barrier and of your skin, causing a ‘leaky ‘ skin barrier which is more susceptible to dermatitis. Look for a natural pH balanced hand wash. The best I have found is Melrose liquid castile soap was made from lots of lovely organic oils such as olive and flaxseed.

Cosmetics

There are a lot of mineral make ups out there. Beware of the powders as they clog your pores. Try the liquid minerals from Inika, a fairly new and organic range of make up. I am using it right now and find its great! I also love Young Blood and Vani -T (also local). Miessence also have a range of very pure makeup, skin care and toothpaste.

Pure by phytocare make a great Papaya ointment for lips and cracked irritated skin. This one doesn’t have any petrochemicals in it like the Lucas paw paw has (the one in the red tube).

Sunscreens without the nasties

Moogoo have a great sunscreen with an SPF of 40+. UV natural have a range from sports to baby. You cant go past the popular coconut oil , although I would not recommend to rely on it if you are in the sun for hours on end. But it acts as a natural sun protectant and the more you use it, the more effective it becomes.

Deodorants

I really love the Biologika organic range of deodorants. They smell divine! They double up as perfumes as the essential oils they use are quite strong. But there are plenty of others that are natural and aluminium free. You can also use essential oils instead of perfumes, and make up your own unique scent with a mixture of a few of them.

Toothpaste

Vicco , Miessence and My magic mud are some great natural toothpastes, free of chemicals and fluoride. They are great for sensitive teeth also.

Water filters

Watersco. Australia have great portable water filters. They get rid of 99.9% of fluoride and alkalise your water. There are also Alkaway filters and for plumbed under the sink filters ‘Wellness Filters’ are very good.

There are a huge amount of natural alternatives out there, to help make ourselves healthier and create a healthier, safer planet to live on.

 

REFERENCES

 

1 http://www.garden-counselor-lawn-care.com/vinegar-weed-killer.html

Toxins…..should you be aware?

Toxins…..should you be aware?

I was going for my morning jog down to the beach today, like I do every day (but sometimes it’s a bike ride on the beach or inside Pilates when it’s  raining ) and it is the most beautiful spring day we have had so far. Fresh air in my lungs, about to get the sea air into my lungs.  A man was in his front yard spraying weed killer (glyphosate) everywhere. And when I say everywhere, he wasn’t spot spraying he was spraying the whole lawn. So I ran down a side street to get away from this poison.

Such as downer, but the good thing is it has inspired me to write a blog on toxins! Well, some of them anyway….

PESTICIDES

Pesticides are chemicals which destroy the cells or nervous system of a living thing, be it a weed or an insect. It makes sense it can affect the cells and nervous systems of any living thing!

When I worked in a naturopathy clinic in the Adelaide hills I saw some of the most unhealthiest people from farms and vineyards who regularly used chemicals on their gardens, crops, vineyards and around their own homes.

The Australian department of health have warned the public about the use of pesticides,

please see the excerpt below. The first sentence is a bit scary!

Disadvantages of using pesticides

  • If pesticides are not used correctly, they can affect human health or cause serious injury or death to the pesticide operator, other people or household pets.
  • Pesticides can also directly affect other non-target animals. For example, a gardener spraying his garden to kill caterpillars will probably also kill harmless ladybird beetles and praying mantises.
  • If pesticides are used incorrectly or applied wrongly, they may find their way into places where they are not wanted, for example, they might be washed into rivers or into the soil.
  • Pesticides can enter the food chain

And here is a Government list of pesticides and their trade names https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/publications/ocp-trade-names

1  WEED KILLERS / ROUND UP / GLYPHOSATE

Glyphosate (Round Up) is a chemical used in weed killers that has been around since the 1970’s. This was after DDT was banned. DDT has been found to be effecting the environment 20 years later (1)

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-16/councils-still-using-herbicide-that-probably-causes-cancer/7168464

The Environmental health association or EPA, have been long interested in the reduction of chemicals in your environment. This link tells about the so called ‘inert’ chemicals have been proven to kill human cells

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/roundup-weed-killer-is-toxic-to-human-cells.-study-intensifies-debate-over-inert-ingredients

And if you think it is safe, think again. We were once told asbestos and DDT was safe and look at what has happened years later. They are both now banned worldwide because they are dangerous. Also, Monsanto, the people who make these chemicals are one of the biggest companies in the world (who produce GE/ GMO seeds and Round Up ) they clearly have the money to make it sound safe and try and stop any bad press. (and I am sure no one can afford to sue them, as they a multi billion dollar corporation).

2 FLY SPRAY AND INSECT SPRAYS and DEET

Fly sprays are used regularly by many people without a thought. Permethrin is a common ingredient in fly and surface sprays and has been found to a potential endocrine disruptor and to be mutagenic in humans (2)

It is a very wise idea to use fly spray when only absolutely necessary, as there are many natural options available such as fly traps and insect ‘zappers’.

Brad the ‘bug man’ from March Biological control says;

‘ Was using chemical sprays ever safe? Certainly not. Sure the fly sprays don’t affect us right away like it affects the flies and other insects. But when fly spray is used, we do inhale it and repeated use of it enables the toxic chemicals to accumulate in our body till it reaches an amount when it will affect us. ‘ (3)

DEET which is a common ingredient in mosquito repellents, is absorbed through the kidneys and skin and its highly toxic with repeated usage.

“ It’s a scary chemical, and it’s definitely to be used only as a last resort, if at all, to protect yourself from insect bites” said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, based in Minnesota. (4)

I think that’s enough said to encourage people not to use it.

3 WHITE ANT KILLER

This is a personal story for me. I became very ill when I was exposed to white ant treatment (done against my will as I was not the owner of the house ) in a home I was living in some time ago. It affected my nervous system so much I could hardly walk for 2 or 3 months. It was debilitating and similar to Multiple Sclerosis. It was frightening. It made me very concerned that it may happen to others.

There are a few commonly used white ant treatments which are all considered toxic to humans.  This information from the government will tell you how toxic these chemicals are. Some are highly toxic. Check this out!

http://www.public.health.wa.gov.au/cproot/1791/2/Approved_Pesticides_for_Termite_Treatments.pdf

PERFUMES AND COSMETICS

Our skin is our biggest organ. So it makes sense not to cover it in chemicals! We absorb everything we put on our skin. Did you know before a woman leaves the house in the morning she can potentially expose herself to around 100 chemicals. This is from soaps, hair products, perfumes, deodorant or antiperspirants, skin care and make up! Then hopefully she doesn’t get into a brand new car as it will out gas formaldehyde (nervous system toxin) and plasticisers (hormone disruptors) for up to a year. Keep your windows down if this is you! A good tip is to place cut up onions around the car to absorbs the outgassing. Weird I know, but it really works….

Parabens in cosmetics are now well known as contributing to cancer. These chemical are used as a preservative and can be called anything from ‘methylparaben’ to ‘butylparaben’.

Aluminium is used in antiperspirants. It gets absorbed directly into the lymphatic system and has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. See more at Pub Med https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12123643 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9575492.

CHLORINE and FLUORIDE IN WATER

Chlorine and  fluoride are known are ‘ halogens’ and both Inhibit the absorption of iodine. Iodine deficiency is leading to more people becoming pre-disposed to thyroid gland dysfunction or disease and to some cancers.

Chlorine is a pesticide and its sole purpose is to kill living organisms. When we consume water containing chlorine, it destroys cells and tissue inside our body. Dr. Robert Carlson, a highly respected University of Minnesota researcher whose work is sponsored by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, sums it up, “the chlorine problem is similar to that of air pollution” and adds that “chlorine is the greatest crippler and killer of modern times!” (5)

‘Research conducted on the health effects of chlorinated drinking water have demonstrated a variety of toxicity issues. Several studies have found that communities using chlorinated or chloraminated drinking water have an increased risk of bladder, kidney, and rectal cancers ‘(6)

Hopefully you filter your drinking water so you don’t ingest chlorine, but what about showering or bathing In it? Studies show that we absorb up to 50 times more chlorine through our lungs and skin than when we drink it.

“The steam we inhale while showering can contain up to 50 times the level of chemicals than tap water, due to the fact that chlorine and most other contaminants vaporize much faster and at a lower temperature than water. Inhalation is a much more harmful means of exposure since the chlorine gas (chloroform) we inhale goes directly into our blood stream”. (7)

HEAVY METALS

We are all going to get exposed to heavy metals unwillingly, whether we like it or not.  Petrol fumes contain lead or cadmium and even some light globes contain mercury!

But willingly, you have a choice. Heavy metals we can avoid are found in makeup/ cosmetics (especially the well-known brands), Dental amalgam fillings, in some fish and our water supply.

The law states that mercury is not allowed to be placed in landfill because of its toxicity, yet its placed into our teeth!

Mercury is also found in some vaccinations in the form of thimerosal (8) along with formaldehyde (commonly found in flu’ vaccinations).

We all know the incidences or cancer are a lot higher in places like Port Pire and Broken Hill from lead exposure. Lead is known to be unsafe in any levels in the body. This link will show you the evidence

https://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?q=lead+health+effects&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiZt_S-lJTQAhWBkJQKHRMHCowQgQMIGDAA

Arsenic is found in insecticides and pesticides. (9)  It’s worth buying organic produce for that reason, especially rice which is very high in arsenic. (unless of course its organic, which is very readily available in supermarkets).

 PLASTICS AND BPA

Most people know about BPA nowadays. Or have at least seen the BPA free bottles you can buy everywhere. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a well know endocrine (hormone system) disruptor. But plastics still contain other chemicals that are harmful such as phthalates and diethylstilbestrol which can leach from the plastics especially with heating.  Cling wrap is also toxic and the chemicals can leach into your food. See this article for more information.

https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/food-warnings-and-safety/plastic/articles/plastics-and-food

THE ALTERNATIVES MEAN BETTER HEALTH FOR EVERYONE AND OUR ENVIRONMENT !

There are also many chemicals in household cleaning products and clothes detergents. If you are using a highly perfumed clothes ‘brightening and whitening’ detergent, then it is being absorbed from your clothes through your skin. Some use very fine glass crystals that make the clothes appear brighter. This can irritate the skin and break down its natural barrier. Household cleaning products commonly contain ammonium and bleach which are toxins I would suggest to avoid. There are so many natural alternatives, even white vinegar and Bi-carb soda do the trick for most cleaning jobs!

Will you re-assess your chemical exposure? There are so many natural alternatives nowadays that it would be healthier and wiser to reduce your exposure to chemicals.  After all, we are killing our planet, but in the meantime, we are killing ourselves with toxin overload. Some scientists are predicting that we are sending ourselves into extinction as a human race…….now that is scary……

Supermarkets and health food shops all have natural alternatives to these chemical laden products. They are easy to find, and even easier online! This company has a passion for it

https://australia.melaleuca.com/

And for people who have the time and love ‘do it yourself’ for natural recipes check out Australia’s  Shannon Lush at    http://shannonlush.com/

For anyone that is interested to find out more and maybe explore the option of doing a detox (and I don’t mean starving yourself), then please come in for a consultation and I will give you a complimentary book, “ Your guide to detox” .

You can contact me on 0419 106 019 or at kated@katedrivernaturopath.com.au

REFERENCES

1 http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2007/10/09/2054547.htm

2 http://www.dontspraycalifornia.org/Permethrin%20Safety%20Review.htm

3 http://marchbiological.com/how-dangerous-can-fly-spray-be/

4 https://www.organicconsumers.org/old_articles/bodycare/deet.php

5 METAGENICES DETOX GUIDE

6 & 8  http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/chlorine-cancer-and-heart-disease/

7 https://chriskresser.com/is-your-daily-shower-making-you-sick/

8 http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/MERCURY.htm

9 http://familywellnesshq.com/heavy-metals-sources-toxicity/

 

 

Leaky gut and the gut brain connection

Leaky gut and the gut brain connection

Gut feelings”…………

“I’ve got a gut feeling about this”. We have all used this expression at some stage of our lives. There is a real relevance to this as our gut really does influence our feelings!

One way this happens is through the vagus nerve. This nerve joins your brain to your intestines, and along the way connects other organs also, such as the heart. It is one of the largest nerve systems in our body, second to the spinal cord. The vagus nerve influences our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the  ‘rest and digest’ part of our nervous system.

This ‘enteric nervous system’ of the intestines is known as the second brain

gut brain diagragm

Stress, fatigue and anxiety reduces vagal nerve activity. When there is poor vagal nerve activity this manifests as low digestive enzymes secretion and therefore poor digestion of foods and poor gallbladder function. This poor gut function then leads to overall inflammation in the body and this inflammation inhibits vagal activity. It’s a vicious cycle! It can lead to IBS symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome) with symptoms such as erratic bowel movements, bloating, flatulence and intestinal cramps.

Poor vagal activity               →                          Decreased gut, pancreatic and  gallbladder function

↑                                                                                                                                                                  ↓

Mental health disorder              →           POOR BRAIN   FUNCTION                      decreased gut immune system & intestinal blood flow

↑                                                                                                                                                       ↓

Leaky blood brain barrier                                     ←                                    pathogenic gut bacteria

and activation of microglial cells                                                                 leaky gut, low grade inflammation

*Microglial cells are immune cells which can cause inflammation of the brain.

Leaky gut …. Leaky brain

Leaky gut or intestinal permeability is when your small intestine becomes more permeable and unwanted molecules are absorbed back into the blood stream instead of being excreted. This is a leaky gut barrier.

This is more prevalent today and I see it regularly in my clinic.

Leaky gut  can be caused by;

  • food allergies or intolerances
  • intestinal dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria in bowels)
  • pathogens such parasites, bacteria or candida
  • from frequent antibiotic use
  • ongoing severe stress
  • poor dietary choices.
  • Poor digestion and/or low stomach acid
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Frequent NSAIDS, antacids or aspirin use

Leaky gut leads to inflammation which can increase production of  cortisol (from the adrenal glands) and reduces the function of the inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA, which makes us feel calmer. Therefore leaky gut can lead to anxiety. It can also result in  poor sleep, reduced production of serotonin and melatonin (our sleep hormone) and chronic pain.

The inflamed brain, anxiety, fatigue and poor memory

Leaky gut can cause symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and even depression.

These symptoms occur when the leaky gut causes inflammation in the body, and this inflammation can access the brain (the blood brain barrier)  and lead to negative brain and mood health. If this is ongoing it reduces brain cell function. If it happens in the hippocampus of the brain, this contributes to low mood and cognitive function, therefore memory is affected.

“Inflammatory, toxic and oxidative stressors that arise from leaky gut can deteriorate blood brain barrier integrity. This allows the passage of unwanted compounds into the central nervous system, setting off a cascade of damaging reactions”. (1)

An example of this is the high levels of ‘MMP -9’s’ in people with schizophrenia and depression. MMP-9  is ‘matrix metalloproteinase -9’ which is a specific proteolytic enzyme which breaks down the ‘extracellular matrix’ (the complex meshwork which fills the space between the cells of your body’s tissues).

Leaky gut breaks down tryptophan, which is an amino acid needed for the production of serotonin (our happy hormone) and melatonin (our sleep hormone). You produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in your gut. It also activates our HPA axis, which is the communication of the hypothalamus, pituitary  (glands of the brain) and the adrenals.   Which can over activate the production of cortisol and adrenalin, leading to anxiety.

Over exercising is a form of inflammation which can contribute to leaky gut. So if you have a leaky gut then reduce your exercise to light to moderate.

When homocysteine levels are high, as mentioned in my previous blog on MTHFR, this results in inflammation and MMP-9 and increases intestinal permeability (yes, the leaky gut again!). This high homocysteine can be linked to having the MTHFR gene mutation.

What to do

Treat leaky gut with change of diet and lifestyle, antimicrobials, pre and probiotics and gut healing supplements. As treating leaky gut is quite complex and individualised to each person, consulting a naturopath is the best course of action here. Anti inflammatory herbs such as curcumin (in turmeric) and fish oils can be taken.

Reduce stress, anxiety and reduce exercise if there is too much.

Stimulate the vagus nerve. You can do this by singing loudly, gagging (even though not fun), gargling several times a day, with coffee enemas (not for everyone) and yoga. You could try the following exercise;

Yoga poses for digestion and vagus nerve stimulation

Kneel on a yoga mat with your buttocks on your heels. Put a rolled blanket on your lap and let it rest against your lower abdomen. Inhale to lengthen your spine and then exhale and lean forward over the blanket. Try to reach forward far enough so that you ribs are over the top of the blanket. Slowly walk your fingers forwards reaching your head down towards the mat. Breathe fully and stay in the pose as long as you like. To exit the pose just walk your hands back into a seated position.

Also deep breathing, in for three and out for five, shuts off the sympathetic nervous system ( the ‘flight and fright’) and allows for vagal activation (which activates the parasympathetic nervous system to do with – resting and digesting!)

Diet

If you have a leaky gut then adhering to an anti inflammatory gluten and dairy free diet for at least 6 weeks is recommended. I also suggest the avoidance of all sugars and processed foods. Anti inflammatory diet would contain oily fish, nuts and seeds, organic eggs, lots of organic vegetables, some fruit and limited gluten free grains such as organic brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa (they are really seeds).

Gluten has been shown to harm the gastrointestinal tract, brain and nervous system. A third of people with gluten sensitivity show no symptoms. Wheat is especially highly processed now days and it is harder to digest.

Eliminate known allergens and food sensitivities or test for these. You can also try an elimination diet and slowly introduce one food at a time to observe reactions.

Mood and gut health, to sum up…

Having and maintaining a good bacterial balance in the gut will improve;

  • Digestion and nutrient uptake
  • The immune system
  • neurotransmitter production (ie serotonin)
  • protection against toxic agents and heavy metal toxicity that can reduce mental and cognitive health
  • prevention leaky gut
  • prevention of local infections which can cause mood imbalances

As it is a two way street, anxiety and stress can cause leaky gut and leaky gut can cause anxiety and low mood. Re-establishing the microflora (the good bacteria) in the intestines plays an the important role of maintaining healthy moods in the long term.

If you suspect you have a leaky gut or are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, please contact me for a consultation.

References

Biological mood management and mental health. Stacey Jarvis.

Dr. Sircus “The function of the vagus nerve”

(1) FX Medicine spring 2014. ‘The state of mind – How gut health affects the brain’. Bioceuticals trade manual

The digestive and renal systems ; Henry Oseiki and Fiona Meeke