Bringing you the latest on important topics impacting your health and well-being.
Your good health matters
Poor digestion? Trouble handling fatty foods? Poor energy? Blood lipid levels getting worse? High blood pressure? Though there can be many reasons for these issues, it could pay to start treating the gall bladder better. After so many miles, a car benefits from an induction service, where internal components are cleaned out. Likewise your gall bladder can benefit from being cleaned out. Thin, smooth bile works much better than thick sludge. Too much sludge and stones and you may have your gall bladder taken out! The thing is, I have met people with no gall bladder who still complain of gall bladder- sounding issues, often the same complaints they had before the gall bladder was taken out. What do you do to prevent these problems? Maintenance with nutrition.
Do this protocol every 2 months:
Mix 2 cups finely grated raw beets with fresh lemon juice. Add two tablespoons extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. Eat half of this between breakfast and lunch, and the other half between lunch and dinner. Do this for ten days. Repeat in 2 months.
The beets have betaine, which is great for inflammation, blood pressure and blood vessel health (remember the betaine-homocysteine lowering effect). Beets do have natural sugar though, so if you believe you need to do this but are diabetic, ask me about great alternatives. So, don’t be “melancholic” (black bile), clean your human machine and feel better.
Affecting arthritis with nutrition
Affecting arthritis with nutrition.
In keeping with the idea that internal inflammation can manifest in different ways and seems to be a culprit behind many chronic diseases, it becomes apparent that nutrition is a key in managing these types of inflammatory disorders, such as arthritis.
It would appear, both from research and from clinical observation, that arthritis is related to gastrointestinal health. Consider for instance that 5-10% of ankylosing spondylitis cases also have a GI disorder such as Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis. Also a much larger percentage of ankylosing spondylitis patients have subclinical gut inflammation as shown by endoscopic findings.
All this means that arthritis then should be helped by helping the GI system. And in fact, arthritis patients who use the probiotic Lactobacillus casei report better symptom control.
Other supplements to consider for arthritis are vitamin A, vitamin D, and Omega 3 fatty acids. As far as fatty acids are concerned, it is also important to limit the omega 6’s. Look at the list and see which one you get more of.
Omega 3- fish oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil.
Keep in mind subjects took 3 grams of fish oil for at least 12 weeks before joint swelling and stiffness decreased.
Also useful is vitamin B6, which can lower pro-inflammatory compounds IL-6 and TNF-alpha. 100 mg of B6 for 12 weeks was needed to affect a change on arthritis with B6. (Due to possible neurotoxicity, I would not recommend going over 100 mg of B6, and also lowering to 50 mg after the initial 12 weeks, for a maintenance phase. Individual needs vary and nutrient testing gives best custom info.)
Many arthritis patients will have lower than normal zinc levels. Zinc can reduce internal inflammation by altering histamine release.
And why is it so important to treat arthritis with nutrition instead of just using drugs? Because that is how your body prefers it, and there is just no fooling nature. One potent drug for arthritis is methotrexate. This drug actually raise homocysteine levels, which is a marker of internal inflammation. Corticosteroids, also used for pain, can lower absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and cause a need for higher levels of folate, vitamin D, B6, C and protein.
In finding the best outcomes for chronic problems such as arthritis, an individualized nutrition profile test can be very helpful.
Hello all, it is time to talk about the mitochondria again. I just finished a short seminar with a doctor from Spectracell labs, and as usual I will share the important take home points. First off as you know, mitochondria are very important organelles inside most of our cells. They have been receiving attention in recent years due to their important roles in cellular health. These organelles produce energy (the ATP molecule, produced by aerobic respiration), store calcium, detox ammonia (especially in the liver), and help form blood components and hormones. The idea realized lately is that if mitochondria die, cells die. Mitochondria are a big deal.
The goals of studying mitochondria are to eliminate dysfunctional mitochondria, support healthy mitochondria, and protect against damage to mitochondria. There seem to be five main factors that lead to mitochondria dysfunction.
1-nutritional deficiencies within the cell
2-too much fructose and high fructose corn syrup and carbs in general
3-infections and microbes
4-zenobiotics: antibiotics, sulphites, pharmaceuticals
5- oxidative stress: the wear and tear from free radicals (which can be managed)
Some health issues from unhealthy mitochondria include gastrointestinal distress, cardiovascular myopathy, obesity, epilepsy, cancer and diabetes to name a few.
Some ways to help your mitochondria. First, it seems exercise culls the dysfunctional mitochondria, helping your body replace with healthy organelles instead. Most effective for this effect is short, higher intensity exercise, or interval training. This seems more effective than long drawn out exercise such as long distance running. Second, intermittent fasting is helpful. One full day of fasting reduces dysfunctional mitochondria in half.
Some chemicals and medications are able to damage your cellular energy makers. Roterone (Monsanto’s Round Up) stops the electron transport chain inside the mitochondria. Yes, Monsanto is actually hurting you at the aerobic respiration level. Cyanocobalamin ( a synthetic vitamin B12) also hinders the function of mitochondria. (At Tampa Bay Acu Health and Spine, we only use methylcobalamin, the form your body naturally forms and prefers). So get your B-12 from food sources and methylcobalamin supplements only. Now for antibiotics. If you didnt have enough reason to avoid these, here is another. Ciprofloxacin causes significant damage to your cellular energy makers.
Ever take cipro and feel wiped out? Cipro also causes achilles tendon damage, but any antibiotic is harmful to your mitochondria. Never forget that antibiotic means anti-life.
Now for the good news. SOD (super oxide dismutase) protects your energy makers. SOD has been shown to help protect against ALS, Alzheimers, premature aging and cancer. But SOD needs copper, zinc and manganese to function.
Glutathione, the master antioxidant in your body, also protects against damage to your mitochondria. To make glutathione, your body needs selenium, and the amino acids cysteine, glutamine, and glycine.
Your brain uses a compound called acetylcholine for memory and for pain control. Acetylcholine is made from phosphatidylcholine, which your body makes from dietary choline. You can get choline form wheat germ, turkey heart, turkey liver, beef liver, eggs and pork.
All of the nutrients discussed above can be tested for metabolic activity within your cells with micronutrient testing, done at Tampa Bay Acu Health and Spine.
So in summary, it is important to get regular interval training, do periodic fasts, optimize your nutrition, avoid antibiotics at all costs, avoid HFCS and corn syrup, eliminate all refined carbohydrates, and if possible, find out your vitamin, mineral, amino acid and antioxidant status at TBAHS.
Men, this article summarization is for you. It is time to face the music. And women, you know you are gonna have to share this with your man, because if I know people, he is probably not as pro active as you are. It is time to talk about the prostate.
Prostate cancer is 27% of all male cancers and the second leading cause of cancer death in men in this society (1). A large study done in the January 2016 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition with 26, 346 participants showed that men who are vegan have an approximate 35% less chance of developing prostate cancer. Now, if you are not willing to become vegan, the good news is you can still make some crucial changes and reap big benefits.
Some major factors that help reduce chance of prostate cancer are reducing animal fat intake, so eating leaner meats (primarily chicken and fish). Another big one is avoiding fried foods. Of course increasing Omega 3 fatty acids is also a big factor. The following foods are very noteworthy as well.
Some foods with anti cancer properties- the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy.) These have the sulphoraphanes that have anti cancer effects. Then there are tomatoes, which have lycopene which demonstrates anti cancer effects. Next beans and peas, which have lignins, phytates and protease inhibitors, which show anti cancer properties.
Now for green tea- it has polyphenols which have shown the ability to prevent the progression of precancerous prostate lesions (2,3). Now for pomegranate juice- 8 oz of this juice daily helps lower PSA levels in advanced cases of prostate cancer(4). Then there is ground flaxseed, which has phytoestrogens which have shown the ability to slow the replication of prostate cancer cells. (5).
Your general diet, these specific foods, and lifestyle make a real difference in this serious, prevalent condition. Be proactive and get healthy.
Summarized from article “Prostate Cancer Risk” in Acupuncture Today, August 2016 by Dr. James Meschino DC, MS.
1. Tantamango-Bartley T, Knutsen SF, Knutsen R, et al. Are strict vegetarians protected against prostate cancer? Am J CLin Nutr. 2016; 103(1) : 153-160
2) McLarty J, Bigelow R, Smith M et al. Tea polyphenols decrease serum levels of prostate- specific antigen, hepatocyte growth factor, and vascular endothelial growth factor in prostate cancer patients and inhibit production of hepatocyte growth factor and vascular endothelial growth facto in vitro. Cancer Prev Res J. 2009; 2:673.
3) Bettuzzi S, Brausi M, Rizzi F et al. Chemoprevention of Human Prostate Cancer by Oral Administration of Green tea catechins in volunteers with high grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia: A preliminary report from a one year proof of principle study. Cancer Res. 2006; 66: 1234.
4) J. Pantuck, N. Zomorodian, M. Rettig, W.J. Aronson, D. Heber, A.S. Belldegrun. “Long term follow up of phase two study of pomegranate juice for men with prostate cancer shows durable prolongation of PSA doubling time”. Journal of Urology 2009; 181 (4): 295.
5) Demark-Wahnfried W. Flaxseed supplementation (Not Dietary fat restriction) reduces prostate cancer proliferation rates in men presurgery. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2008; 17 (12):3577-87.
Some nutritional considerations for diabetes:
-Chromium helps insulin attach to cell receptors, which increases glucose uptake into cells. Chromium deficiency can cause insulin resistance.
-Biotin stimulates the Beta cells of the pancreas to secrete insulin in response to rising glucose levels.
-Magnesium deficiency lowers insulin sensitivity. (Don’t get magnesium deficient).
-Zinc is used for the production, storage and secretion of insulin. Zinc protects the beta cells of the pancreas from damage.
-Lipoic acid improves glucose uptake into skeletal muscle. Good for diabetic neuropathy.
-Cysteine is an amino acid that is needed to produce glutathione. The beta cells of the pancreas are vulnerable to oxidative stress (free radical damage), but glutathione protects the beta cells from this damage. Cysteine increases the antioxidant protection.
-Co10 protects the kidney from diabetic related damage.
-Glutamine helps regulate insulin secretion after meals. (By way of stimulating glucagon-like peptide 1).
– Carnitine reduces pain from diabetic neuropathy and improves insulin sensitivity.
-Inositiol may treat diabetic neuropathy.
-Vitamin C lowers HbA1c.
-Vitamin E protects pancreatic beta cells from oxidative stress.
-Vitamin D lowers risk of inflammation of pancreatic bets cells.
-Vitamin B3 (niacin) is part of glucose tolerance factor which facilitates insulin binding.
-Vitamin B12 gets depleted by the diabetes drug metformin, so B12 deficiency is common among diabetics.
Asthma and Nutrition
Nutrition plays a large role in chronic asthma treatment, let me give you some info on individual nutrients that are involved.
Vitamin C- This is important because we know that oxygen radical are involved in the pathophysiology of asthma, and vitamin C is an antioxidant. Vitamin C can also have an antihistamine effect, but it can take 1000 mg a day to do so. (If this is an issue, dont worry, there are antioxidant effects described from other sources below). Vitamin C can raise the FEV1 (forced expiratory volume, a breathing test) in asthmatics.
Niacinamide- this vitamin can inhibit damage to cells in the respiratory passages, and lowers histamine release. Higher serum niacin levels have less amounts of wheezing.
B6- the active form of B6 in the body is pyridoxal 5-phosphate (PLP). Asthmatics have lower amounts of this vitamin compared to non asthmatics. 50 mg of pyridoxine, 2 times a day, resulted in less asthma flare ups and less wheezing. It is also important to know that use of the theophylline bronchodilator lowers levels of the active form of B6 (PLP), due to depletion due to theophylline metabolism.
B12- Some asthmatics claim that they are “tired all the time”. Asthma tends to deplete B12, and the ones with fatigue may need to be checked and treated with B12. Use of a proton pump inhibitor increases B12 deficiency as well.
Vitamin D- Important in immune function and could have a role in development in asthma, per Spectracell laboratories.
Magnesium- Low Mg levels are common in asthma, and lowest in severe cases. A large study in England with 2.633 people showed that higher intakes of Mg were associated with higher FEV1 breathing scores.
Zinc- Asthmatics have lower plasma zinc levels. Zinc deficiency hinders the immune system. (Switches Th1 response to Th2 response). Zinc deficiency also lowers NK Cell activity. (immune blood cells).
Selenium- We need selenium to make glutathione peroxidase, which protects against oxidative damage. Asthmatics tend to have lower selenium levels, higher oxidative activity (from free radicals), and less activity from glutathione peroxidase (a protector against free radicals).
NAC- N-Acetyl cysteine. A precursor to glutathione. An antioxidant, but also a compound that reduces mucous. One of the more important supplements in the battle against asthma.
CoQ10- Decreases histamine release from lungs.
Tryptophan- This amino acid converts to serotonin, which leads to broncho-constriction. A low tryptophan diet can help some asthmatics.
Probiotics- Lactobacillus rhamnosus gg and lactobacillus F19 may reduce allergic sensitization.
Quercetin- Helps with histamine reaction and reduces hyperreactivity of airways.
Also, asthmatic people should avoid food allergens, stay hydrated, and limit sodium intake.
If you know someone who struggles with asthma, share with them and let them know that nutrient testing at Tampa Bay Acu Health and Spine can find deficiencies that contribute to asthma.
Did you think you were entirely human?
Well you are not. None of us are, and thank goodness. (Yes I have been delving into one of my favorite subjects again, the GI flora. ) We know that our bacterial flora are very important because they are a part of our immune system and they can synthesize certain vitamins for us, but their integral symbiotic relationship and usefulness is still being learned.
There are helpful bacteria in all parts of the intestines, but the highest concentration is in the large intestine. We have up to 500 species of bacteria in us, and their total cell numbers are more than our total human cell numbers. Any inflammatory conditions of the GI affect our microflora. Conditions such as IBS, Celiac, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis.
And why is that a problem? Because disruptions in our bacterial counterparts lead to problems that seem far removed from the GI. Problems such as joint pain, eye issues, ankylosing spondylosis. (Current Rheumatology Reports, March 2013). Yes, lactic acid producing probiotics demonstrate immune regulating and anti-inflammatory effects.
How anti-inflammatory? Here’s a useful example: mothers who take probiotics during pregnancy and lactation have babies with less risk of eczema. (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2012).
In other examples, people with many varied health issues, including RA, can often improve with probiotic use.
A loss of probiotic flora with inflammation can lead to the varied problems listed above, but often starts with what is now termed leaky gut. Needless to say it is very important for our health to prevent this. Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, is often the initiator for problems like allergies, asthma, even autism. Some factors that promote leaky gut are gliaden (gluten), also stress, infections, medications like anti biotics. even heavy long term exercise without adequate nutritional support.
There are some fundamental nutrients to consider in reducing intestinal permeability. The first and foremost is the amino acid glutamine. This amino acid supports GI lining repair, is the main fuel used by GI cells for energy, and when deficient, is shown to increase leaky gut. Zinc also helps stop leaky gut, and it is needed to make many enzymes used in the GI system. Next is vitamin A, which is needed for epithelial (cells that line surfaces) repair.
Some other considerations are not using stomach acid blockers for any significant period of time, and controlling stress.
It is a big problem and getting bigger, so I have to share some important info from an article from “Acupuncture Today”, January 2017.
There are many potential reasons for the accelerating rate of Alzheimers, some of them having to do with low fat diets and possibly drugs such as statins and benzodiazepines. From the 1960’s until now, cholesterol was demonized as a huge danger.
Actually, cholesterol is 25% of the human brain by mass, so probably not the anti-christ of foods after all. Also saturated fats were demonized, but it seems unnecessarily so. In fact, Pacific Islanders, who may get up to half their calories from coconut oil (a high saturated fat food) have historically had almost no heart disease.
One in four Americans over 55 are taking statin drugs, which may be a factor in the rise of Alzheimers. Even more directly, the British Medical Journal states that taking benzodiazepines for more than three months is associated with a 51% increase in risk of Alzehimers. (Don’t take benzos. Do meditation, exercise, positive neurolinguistic programming, acupuncture.)
Enter Coconut oil. This oil has largely medium and short chain fatty acids. The medium chain fatty acids form ketones, which are able to be a direct fuel source for brain cells. (This is important because brain cells can become insulin resistant also, leading to a chain of events that cause Alzheimers.) So coconut oil can fuel brain cells (ketones naturally can cross the blood-brain barrier), it has phenolic acid which is a strong antioxidant, and it has lauric and capric acid which can help reduce insulin resistance. Coconut oil- it is a hero in the war against illness. To aid in your battle against Alzheimers, also use the detox from heavy metals on this blog, avoid cooking in aluminum, consume high antioxidant foods (such as turmeric, garlic, rosemary, blueberry), exercise your mind and body, control stress, and ask your natural health physician about specific nutraceuticals for antioxidant activity to help the brain. Please share this with anyone with Alzheimers in their family.
Measuring cardiovascular risk
Cardiovascular Risk Factors.
The 1980’s were great, but we can’t stay there forever. Knowledge, science, and research move forward every year, as does empirical evidence. This is certainly the case when it comes to our knowledge of dietary factors and heart disease risk. You see in the 1980’s, the understanding of heart disease risk was really just beginning and much of the information spewed then was a knee jerk reaction to new found discoveries which had yet to be really understood.
Today, tons of work has been done to try to control cholesterol and LDL levels. However, we are discovering that there is more to the equation than just these two villainized components. Some experts say that total cholesterol and even LDL make no difference in heart disease risk. We know that our bodies use cholesterol to try to patch damage to the lining of our blood vessels. In my opinion, not enough attention has been paid to how to prevent the damage to blood vessels in the first place. Fortunately, other people thought the same thing before me and we do know there are certain markers of damage to watch for. Three of the main ones are C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and fibrinogen.
C-reactive protein is produced in our liver and is known to rise with inflammation. Inflammation in the arteries is associated with increased risk of heart disease, heart attack (MI), and stroke. A physicians health study with 18,000 subjects showed that increased CRP meant a 3X higher risk of heart attack. What affects CRP levels in the blood? Diet seems to be the largest risk factor. As expected, processed and artificial foods raise CRP. Other bad habits are stress, toxins, and lack of exercise. No surprise there, we know those factors are bad for the heart. The only news here is that these effects can be, to a certain degree, measured in terms of overall inflammation.
Another factor to watch for is homocysteine. Homocysteine is a metabolite of the breakdown of amino acid methionine. So we naturally produce homocysteine. Its just that it seems we produce more when we are unhealthy. Newer epidemiological data suggests that levels over 6.3 micromoles/L are linked with higher risk of heart attack (Life Extension magazine, 1999). The Linus Pauling Institute says that Higher homocysteine levels are a risk factor for coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis and thromboemolism (“The vascular toxicity of homocysteine and how to control it”, Linus Pauling Institute). So how can we reduce homocysteine levels?
First, homocysteine can be converted to safe by-products with an enzyme called CBS (cystathionine beta synthase) ( Linus Pauling Institute). But this enzyme needs vitamin B6 to work. ( Remember, b vitamins are enzyme catalysts). This may be a reason why people who are b vitamin deficient have higher rates of CV disease. So B6 and the other b- vitamins are a good idea. I recommend using B6 food sources such as lean meat, mushrooms, yams, broccoli, turnip greens and sunflower seeds. Another way to lower homocysteine is through foods that have betaine. Betaine, also known as TMG, has the ability to re convert homocysteine to methionine. Beets are perhaps the best known source of betaine. Interestingly (at least to me), traditional Chinese medicine has always said that beets strengthen the heart. Once again, traditional empirical evidence supports modern nutrition science, or vice versa. Regardless of how you choose to see it, beets help the heart, so put some in your juicers at home.
The next factor to watch for heart health is fibrinogen. This is a plasma protein produced in the liver and is involved in clot formation. It is then a naturally produced and needed protein, but risk arises when it is higher than needed. Several epidemiological studies show that fibrinogen is a major independent risk factor (Vascular Medicine, 1997; 2(2): 115-25). Some foods to help modulate the effects of higher fibrinogen are omega 3 fatty acids and garlic (both blood thinners you’ll notice). In my opinion garlic is underestimated, as it has many positive mechanisms. A trial was done that examined the effects of garlic on plaque development on carotid and femoral arteries in subjects for 4 years. Increases in plaque volume was significantly slowed by garlic, and in some cases was reversed. (Koscielny, J. et al. Atherosclerosis 1999; 144(1): 237-249.
There are more risk factors for heart disease, such as magnesium and free testosterone, but being aware of emerging evidence is helpful in lowering your overall risk. You don’t have to use 1980’s information to assess your heart health.
Homocysteine, C reactive protein and fibrinogen lab work is available through Tampa Bay Acu Health and Spine.
According to the Mayo clinic, migraines are characterized by intense throbbing or pulsating sensations in the head, and often have nausea and vomiting as well as extreme sensitivity to light and sound. The pain may last from hours to days. Some migraine sufferers may have sensory warning symptoms, referred to as an aura. These may include flashes of light, and motor and verbal disruptions. There can also be blind spots or tingling in the arms and legs.
The Mayo clinic also describes Four (4) stages of migraines events.
1-Prodrome stage: Patient may have constipation, depression, food cravings, hyperactivity, irritability, and neck stiffness.
2- Aura stage: patient may have nervous system symptoms that may include flashes of light, sensory changes, motor and verbal changes. Most migraine sufferers do not have the full aura stage.
3- Attack stage: The head pain occurs from 4 to 72 hours.
4-Postdrome: The patient may feel drained and washed out. Patient may have deep sleep after the attack.
According to the American Headache Society (AHS), susceptibility to migraines appears to be hereditary. The causes of migraine are being studied, and the latest research points to a series of neurological changes. The AHS reports that there is a correlation between the activation of the trigeminal nerve causing a series of events in the meninges and the brainstem and a migraine attack. Migraine pain shows evidence of inappropriate activation of both primary afferent neurons and higher order neurons. These events may cause blood vessel dilation, which aggravates the pain and causes more nerve activation.
Migraines also have a pain known as allodynia. Allodynia is described as a pain, usually on the skin, where pain does not logically need to be. In migraine sufferers, there is allodynia on the forehead and forearms.
A study has shown that peripheral pain receptors, such as those on the forearms, seem to trigger neurons in the head, leading to migraine pain. The fact that pain may occur on the forehead and forearm in migraine sufferers, and that it may precipitate a migraine, is very interesting to us when we consider how acupuncture treats migraines. These areas happen to be where acupuncture points are found that address migraine type pain. There are major points on the outside of the forearms (between the radius and ulna) that are used for, among many things, all types of headache. Also, points on the forehead itself are useful for treating headache. These acupoints have a long history of consistent results in treating a variety of conditions and illnesses. It would seem modern research and acupuncture practice overlap each other here, as is the case often times.
What can someone who suffers from migraines do on their own to try to help? The following are some acupoints that can be pressed, massaged or squeezed to help reduce the severity or frequency of migraines.
GB 20- In hollow at either side of base of skull, roughly between back of ears and center of back of neck. Using thumbs, which will slide down right into the point, press-knead into the hollow for a minute or two.
UB2- At the small indentations on the eyebrow where the bridge of the nose meets the inner eyebrow. Press-knead with finger tips here for minute or two.
LI4- The center of the muscle that forms a web between the thumb and the knuckle of the index finger. Find a slightly sensitive area here, and gently but firmly squeeze and manipulate for a minute, each hand.
Lv3- At the top of the foot, in the valley between the first (large) toe and the second toe. ( This part is usually covered by the “v” of a flip flop sandal). Place the heel of one foot on top of the other foot, and briskly rub the heel on the foot for a minute. Do both sides.
When doing these acupressure exercises, it is best to remember that results come when you also practice deep, calm breathing, practice in a calm quiet place and do them as part of a regular routine for your health. I hope you find this helpful, and best wishes and health to all! Thank you,
Stephen Dell-Jones, DOM Fu Hsing Acupuncture
Approaches and Strategies
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disorder affecting the Central Nervous System. MS patients have a loss of the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve cells. This demyelination occurs in the white matter of the brain, spinal cord, and in the optic nerves (1). It is this change to the myelin that causes the signs and symptoms such as weakness, numbness, loss of balance, double vision, or urinary urgency or hesitancy. MS is diagnosed only when there are two or more different regions of the central white matter shown to be affected at different times.
The illness may take different forms- usually there is a long interval of months or years after the first episode before symptoms return. This is known as a relapsing-remitting form of the disease. In other patients, there is a steady deterioration, this is a secondary progressive illness. In fewer patients, the symptoms develop steadily and disability develops at an earlier stage. This is a primary progressive form of the illness (1).
Western medicine has various drugs that are designed to slow down the progression of this disease, but there are other interventions an MS patient may take. These complementary options can be used alongside any standard treatment already in use, and are regarded as healthy and safe practices for anyone. Two valuable options in particular are nutrition and acupuncture.
Acupuncture for Multiple Sclerosis
Acupuncture has a long history of treating many health disorders. Acupuncture is most commonly done by inserting thin, sterile needles onto certain acu-points located all along the body, and this is a time honored system to treat many diseases. For neurological illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis however, a different and more effective method can be used-scalp acupuncture. In scalp acupuncture, the needles are placed just under the skin on the head in order to stimulate certain representative areas of the cerebral cortex. This helps allow the patient’s body to gain control over such issues as numbness, pain, spasms, weakness, and balance problems. Scalp acupuncture has been shown in clinics to be the most successful method for treating problems associated with MS (2). Another advantage of scalp acupuncture for disorders of a neurological nature is that the patient will usually know if the treatment is working for them within two or three sessions.
Nutrition and Multiple Sclerosis
Another very important aspect of care for the MS patient is nutrition. There are certain supplements that have been researched and show promise in the treatment of neurological diseases and MS. Most notably these are essential fatty acids and antioxidants. It has been observed that many MS patients have a deficiency of fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is found in nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and has properties that reduce inflammation. There are some studies that show that individuals who have MS experience less severity and duration of relapses when taking linoleic acid (3). A useful dose of linoleic acid is had by taking one tablespoon of fresh flax oil with a meal, once per day. Other people with MS find that they do better with oils such as borage seed oil or evening primrose oil, which have GLA, another important fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. As with any oil, for best health benefits try to use recently cold pressed oil, and keep it cool and shielded from light.
Other beneficial fatty acids are the omega-3 fats, most notably found in cold water fish. One study in the Journal of Autoimmune Disorders found that omega-3 fatty acids are capable of preventing a disruption in the blood brain barrier, thus keeping inflammatory agents out of the central nervous system(4). Remember that MS is believed to be caused, at least in part, by inflammation in the central nervous system. Another study states that omega-3’s are helpful to prevent neurological disorders (5). For these and many other health benefits, omega-3 fatty acids are a great addition to the diet of those controlling MS.
There are other dietary factors a person with MS should consider as well. First is that MS patients seem to have a higher rate of sensitivity to gluten, the protein found in wheat and many grains. A gluten free diet may be helpful, particularly if the patient tests positive for antibodies to gluten. Secondly is that MS patients also tend to have more chronic infections of Candida Albicans, a yeast overgrowth. Dietary modification and treatment for this may be helpful as well.
Chinese Dietary Therapy and Multiple Sclerosis
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is said the nerves are governed by the liver. In TCM, foods which nourish the liver are leafy green vegetables, mung beans, millet, seaweed, wheat grass, chlorella, and organic animal liver. Interestingly, today we know these foods happen to be sources of superoxide dismutase (SOD), the enzyme that controls free radicals and reduces inflammation (6). Remember that free radical damage seems to play a role in MS development. So whether you like traditional views of therapeutic foods, or modern research on micronutrients, the good news is they ultimately seem to agree. In any case the foods listed above and all other whole fresh vegetables are helpful for people who happen to have MS.
Also within TCM, the signs and symptoms of paralysis and spasms are typically diagnosed as “wind”. While this may seem like a simplified diagnosis, many controlling and contributing factors are recognized for each diagnosis in Chinese medicine. Methods of controlling “wind” are herbal medicine, diet, and acupuncture. Foods that TCM says reduce” wind” are celery, basil, sage, fennel, ginger, anise, oats, pine nut and coconut (6). Foods that may contribute to “wind” are eggs and crab, and should be limited in cases with spasms or paralysis.
The person with MS has challenges, but hopefully also sees these strategies and tools as ways to help their health. With the right balance of these methods alongside their conventional therapy, they should be more empowered to maintain their health and lifestyle.
Thank you for your interest in this article. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Stephen Dell-Jones, AP, DOM
1) McPhee, Stephen; Papadakis,Maxine; Rabom, Michael; 2012 Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. Fifty First edition. McGraw Hill Medical, New York pg.983-985.
2) Hao, Jason; Hao, Linda Lingzhi; 2008, Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis by Scalp Acupuncture, Acupuncture Today, 2008, 9(4).
3) Royal College of Physicians (UK) 2004, Multiple Sclerosis-National Clinical Guideline for Diagnosis and Management in Primary and Secondary care.
4) Shinto, L.; Marracci,G; Bumgarner,L.; Yadam,V; 2011 The effects of omega 3 fatty acids on matrix metalloproteinase-9 production and cell migration in human immune cells: implications for multiple sclerosis. Journal of Autoimmune Disorders 2011 10(4061).
5) Mazza,M; Pomponi,M; Janiri,L; Bria,P; Mazza,S; Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants in neurological and psychiatric disease. 2007 Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 2007. 31 (1) 12-26.
Pitchford, Paul, 2002, Healing with Whole Foods, Third Edition, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley California pgs.170-174, 328-329.
Bone health: the other part of the equation
An overview of contributing factors to the prevention and treatment of Osteopenia and Osteoporosis, by Stephen Dell-Jones, DOM.
There is a major public health problem facing Americans, one that can result in a complete decline in an individual’s health, as well as hospitalization, need for long term care, and loss of independence. The problem is osteoporosis and osteopenia. While everyone has become aware of the meaning of osteoporosis, osteopenia refers to a condition of low bone mineral density, not yet low enough to be labeled osteoporosis. Both are highly affected by diet, lifestyle, supplements and exercise. We will review the prevalence of osteoporosis, consequences from the disease, current methods of prevention, and other possibilities that can be employed.
From 2005 to 2006, 49% of women over 50 years old had osteopenia, and 10% had osteoporosis at the neck of the femur bone (Looker,et al., 2010). Thirty percent of men over 50 had osteopenia, and 2% had osteoporosis at the neck of the femur (Looker et al., 2010). It is important to realize that the most common osteoporosis related fracture sites are the vertebrae (compression fracture), hip (femur neck), and wrist (Kotz et al., 2004). The overall lifetime risk for a woman having an osteoporosis related fracture is 39.7% (Kotz et al., 2004). If these numbers are not sobering enough by themselves, consider that a bone fracture in an older person will cause hospitalization, and may possibly require long term care. Many elderly people never return to an independent life after an event like this. The time to prepare for this type of problem is not when you are elderly, it is now. Let us now look at not only current recommendations but also newer research on prevention of bone loss.
When we think of bone health, the first nutrients to come to mind are calcium and vitamin D. Bones are made with calcium, and we also need vitamin D to help us absorb calcium. These two nutrients have been of primary concern when dealing with bone health. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 1200 mg of Calcium daily for men over 71 years old and women over 50. For men under 71 and women under 50 it is 1000 mg per day. They also recommend 800 IU of vitamin D daily for men and women over 50, and 400-800 IU for men and women under 50. Two researchers wrote in the Journal of Current Osteoporosis Reports that having good nutritional status, consuming calcium and vitamin D, and avoiding excess alcohol is associated with better bone health (Levis & Lagori, 2012). Avoiding excess sodium is also beneficial (Miggiano & Gagliard, 2005). These are the main standard recommendations for prevention and management of osteoporosis. Certainly when these are not enough, there are medications that are often prescribed. However, medications commonly have side effects, and osteoporosis drugs are no exception. Using certain supplements could be a healthier alternative.
One such supplement is menaquinone, or vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is found in very small amounts in meats, dairy, and in larger amounts in some fermented foods like natto (fermented soy). Also, our intestinal bacteria produce vitamin K. According to a research study on vitamin K2, adding it to a dietary program that already included vitamin D and calcium reduced the lifetime probability of a fracture by another 25% (Gajic et al. 2012). Another study found that adding K2 to a diet already supplemented with calcium and vitamin D added more bone mass density to the lumbar vertebrae compared to subjects who took the same level of calcium and vitamin D alone (Kanellakis et al., 2012). Remember that one of the major three types of osteoporosis related fractures is compression fractures of the vertebrae.
The study concluded that vitamin K2 created a more favorable bone metabolism (Kanellakis et al., 2012). Likewise, the Journal of Environmental and Public Health included a study with vitamin K2, which found that subjects who were either of normal bone density or already osteoporotic, and took a regimen of vitamin D3, K2, strontium, magnesium, and DHA (omega three fatty acid), had improved bone mineral density. The interesting fact here is that the results were as good, or better, than taking bisphophonates, a commonly used osteoporosis drug (Genuis & Bouchard, 2012). Also of note is that the protocol worked well for patients who had previously had poor outcomes with the bisphosphonates. These findings suggest that Vitamin K2 should be a part of an osteoporosis prevention or treatment plan. The amounts used were approximately 180 ug (micrograms). It should be noted that vitamin K contributes to blood clotting, so those on a blood thinner should inform their prescribing physician of any changes in diet and supplements.
Another newer consideration regarding bone health is how the collagen in bone affects its health, strength and resistance to fracture. Bones are actually 30% collagen, a very important structural protein in the body. In bone, the collagen forms a framework for the attachment of calcium and other minerals (Brylka et al., 2010). The organized arrangement of mineral crystals depends on the collagen, and without adequate collagen, there will be less place for calcium to adhere to, thus lower bone mass overall. It has always been known that bones are not made of minerals alone, but now the importance of the collagen content and quality is being more closely evaluated. According to the Journal of Osteoporosis International, bone strength is affected not just by mineral density, but by geometry and shape of bone, microarchitectural factors in the bone, and the collagen (Viquet-Carrin et al., 2006). Another study states that the loss of collagen from the bone is highly correlated with bones being more susceptible to breaking from stresses (Nyman & Makowski , 2012). This would seem to be at least partially because it is the collagen that provides flexibility to the bones.
Bones are not completely hard, rigid structures but instead flex slightly. Collagen provides both flexibility and frame for mineral bonding. Researchers have shown that the collagen molecules not only attract calcium phosphate to them, but also help arrange the calcium into parallel sheets (Brylka et al., 2010) This is how bones form minerals into a specialized lattice for strength. Clearly, collagen is important and it would be beneficial to minimize collagen loss. However, collagen loss begins sooner than mineral loss, as early as age 21. Also, until recently, there was no known way to prevent or reverse this loss because collagen is a protein and merely ingesting it would cause it to be broken down. What is needed is a method of stimulating our own production of collagen. There is a naturally occurring molecule that was believed to do just that, orthosilicic acid (OSA). The problem was that it was unstable and would be of no value to us if ingested. Now, however, OSA can be stabilized by choline, a natural compound needed to build cellular membranes. Choline-stabilized OSA, or ch-OSA, is showing good results in increasing bone collagen and thereby overall bone mass (Specter et al., 2005; Specter et al. 2008 ).
In conclusion, it is important to maintain our bone health as much as possible, especially for women who are more at risk as shown above. Using calcium and vitamin D is paramount, but the whole picture also involves vitamin K2, a ch-OSA collagen generator, a diet that promotes good nutrition status, regular weight bearing exercise, moderate exposure to sunlight for vitamin D, smoking cessation, and reduction of alcohol, sodium, caffeine and soda drinks.
Thank you very much for your interest in my article. If you have any questions, by all means feel free to contact me.
Stephen Dell-Jones Dipl. Ac, DOM
Gajic-Veljanoski, Bayourni, Tomlinson, Khan, and Cheung (2012). Vitamin K Supplementation for the primary prevention of osteoporotic fractures: is it cost effective and is future research warranted? Osteoporosis International, 23(11), 2881-92.
Gennis, Bouchard (2012). Combination of micronutrients for bone study: bone density after micronutrient intervention. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012:354151.
Kanellakis, Moschonis, Fento, Schaafsma, van den Huevel, Papaioannou, Lyritis, Manios (2012). Changes in Parameters of bone Metabolism in postmenoapusal women following a 12 month intervention period using dairy products enriched with Calcium, Vitamin D, and phylloquinone(K1) or menaquinone-7(K2): the postmenoapusal Health Study II. Calcified Tissue International, 90(4), 251-62.
Krista Kotz, Stephanie Deleger, Richard Cohen, Alisa Kamigaki, John Kurata (2004). Osteoporosis and health related quality of life outcomes in the Alameda county study population. Preventing Chronic Disease. 1(1)
Anne Looker, Joseph Melton, Tamara Harris, Lori Borrund, John Shepherd (2010).
Prevalence and trends in low femur bone density among older US adults: NHANES 2005-2006 compared with NHANES III. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 25(1)p. 64-71.
Miggiano and Gagliardi (2005). Diet, Nutrition and Bone Health. Clinica Terapeutica. 156(1-2) p. 47-56.
Nudelman, Dieterse, George, Bomans, Friedrich, Brylka, Hilbers, deWith, Sommerdijk (2010). The role of collagen in bone apatite formation in the presence of hydroxy apatite nucleation inhibitors. Nature Materials, 9,1004-1009.
Nyman, Makowski (2012). The contribution of the extracellular matrix to the fracture resistance of bones. Current Osteoporosis Reports, 10(2) 169-177.
Silvina, Levis, Violet, and Lagori (2012). The role of diet in Osteoporosis Prevention and Management. Current Osteoporosis Reports. 10(4) pg 296-302.
Specter et al. (2005). Effect on bone turnover and bone mineral density of low dose oral silicon as an adjunct to calcium and D3 in a randomized, placebo controlled trial. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 20(1).
Specter et al. (2008). Choline stabilized orthosilicic acid supplementation as an adjunct to calcium and D3 stimulates markers of bone formation in osteopenic females: a randomized, placebo controlled trial. Musculoskeletal Disorders, 9(85)
Viquet-Carrin, Garnero, Delmas (2006). The role of collagen in Bone Strength. Osteoporosis International, 17(3) 319-36.
It is again that time of year when some people may prepare themselves for colds and flu. Everyone is very aware of the standard flu shot, but how aware are we of the details?
The effectiveness of the flu shot does not extend beyond three or four strains of virus that are expected to be common in the season. This may be why the vaccination sometimes has no helpful effect.
Of even more concern should be some of the substances used in the flu vaccine, such as formaldehyde, mercury, and polysorbate 80 (PS80). According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mercury can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system (EPA.gov, 2012). PS80 has been associated with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). “On rare occasion they may develop GBS in the days or weeks after vaccination” (CDC.gov, 2012). GBS is a disorder that causes the immune system to attack its own nerve cells, possibly resulting in paralysis; these effects could last a few weeks or are sometimes permanent.
This season, one may want to consider a safer, more natural way to protect themselves from the flu. One such method is the use of a homeopathic preparation that is specifically designed to stimulate the body’s own defense mechanisms on a complete systemic level. Just a few convenient daily oral dosages of “Immunexx” can strengthen the defenses your body normally has against colds and flu.
The advantages? First, no potentially hazardous components. Second, activation of defense against a much wider spectrum of germs (viruses, bacteria, etc.). Third, enhancement of your health instead of gradual decline from accumulation of contaminants.
Contact me to pick up your flu protection today.
Not all vitamin E is equal
There has been conflicting evidence about the protective effects of vitamin E on cancer. One reason for this seems to be that while vitamin E may act as an antioxidant and reduce mutations that lead to cancer, for already formed cancer cells vitamin E may confer its antioxidant activity to the cancer cells and actually protect the cancer. And some studies have shown that vitamin E supplementation was not effective in the prevention of cancer.
A potential problem with these studies, however, is that they were evaluating dl-alpha tocopherol acetate, a synthetic form of vitamin E. Not all forms of vitamin E interact the same way in the body. Some researchers believe that the synthetic form may slow down the antioxidant function by taking binding sites that would have been available for natural E, d-alpha tocopherol.
However, a form of vitamin E known as vitamin E succinate (alpha tocopheryl succinate) actually targets cancer cells with its own special attack. It triggers the production of free radicals inside cancer cells, triggering cell death, while being non toxic to healthy cells. Clinical trials are showing this advantage of succinate that other vitamin E forms did not seem to have. Vitamin E succinate does not have antioxidant activity of its own, but during the digestive process, some succinate is enzymatically converted to d-alpha tocopherol, which does have antioxidant activity.
So if you are going to supplement with vitamin E, you may want to consider using the succinate form. 400 IU is currently being recommended in light of these newer insights on vitamin E.
summarized from “Vitamin E Succinate continues to show impressive Anti-Cancer properties”, Dr. James Meschino, Acupuncture Today, March 2016.
Arthritis and natural medicine
Arthritis is a very common health condition that must have been an issue for people as long as we have been around. The term arthritis simply means, “joint inflammation”. There are various types of arthritis and a variety of contributing factors, but we will look at some natural and alternative methods to deal with the joint pain and discomfort of arthritis in general. These methods are acupuncture, nutrition and also a relatively newer but promising method called biopuncture.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, arthritis has traditionally been referred to as bone “bi”, or bone pain. In the Chinese view, environmental factors such as damp, cold, heat and wind “invaded” the body’s joints and caused the pain. Thus chronic joint pain that was made worse with cold damp weather and improved with the application of heat was called “cold damp bi”. Likewise if someone’s pain was made worse with hot damp weather, but relieved with a cold compress it was called “damp heat bi”. There are of course other signs and symptoms that correspond and match the description, such as “damp heat bi” also having redness around the joint and more pronounced swelling. To our modern minds these diagnosis may seem foreign, but today many arthritis sufferers will still agree that factors like dampness and temperature seem to govern their condition. Regardless of how we label the disorder, the methods found back then to treat the joint pain, such as acupuncture, still work today.
Acupuncture is a medical system that has evolved for over two thousand years in Asia, and therefore has a long track record of treating many disorders, including arthritis. Today acupuncture involves inserting very thin, single use, sterile needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy, or chi. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, the body has many points on its surface that lie on a network of channels. Our body’s energy, or chi, flows along these channels which also flow through our internal organs. Points on the channels can be manipulated with acupuncture needles and this has several effects such as regulating the neuroendocrine systems of the body and reducing pain. Traditionally it was said that acupuncture “moves qi and blood”, implying that it helps the circulation, and this effect is helpful in all painful conditions including arthritis.
Newcomers to acupuncture naturally ask questions like, “Does acupuncture hurt?” The answer is that acupuncture is quite comfortable, and done by a licensed acupuncturist is free from serious risk. It helps to remember that an acupuncture needle is so thin it can easily fit inside a hypodermic needle, making insertion far less of an ordeal than getting a standard injection. Modern medicine gradually confirms acupuncture’s role in pain management, and today it is being utilized and covered by insurance for this purpose. However, acupuncture is only a part of Chinese Medicine. Another ancient method the Chinese used was food therapy.
The Chinese always observed how the inherent qualities of foods affected the human condition, and for arthritis, certain foods were recommended and not recommended. For example, it was recorded that foods like spinach, beet greens, plums, tomato, bell peppers and eggplant could worsen chronic joint pain.
Today we know that the former three contain oxalic acid, which aggravates arthritis, and the latter three are nightshades, which are said also to aggravate arthritis. Many people make a conscious effort to eat healthy foods , but may not be utilizing the best options for their condition. For example, in my experience some people with arthritis may tell me that they eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, such as spinach, tomatos and plums. But when they change those fruits and vegetables to cabbage, celery, wheatgrass and cherries, their arthritis begins to alleviate. In my own practice, I feel it is important to give a patient all the possible tools they could need to help themselves along with the treatments in the office. Other foods to avoid in arthritis are chard, rhubarb, cranberries, and of course alcohol, coffee and refined sweeteners. Some foods that are helpful are omega 3 fatty acids from fish oils, flax oil, kelp, chives, grapes, scallions and spirulina. While diet is always an important factor, some people may have deeply seated cases that may require faster acting treatment for relief. One such method to give fast acting results is biopuncture.
Biopuncture is a method that combines homeopathy and acupuncture to provide a potent, natural and effective treatment. In a biopuncture treatment, a small amount of a sterile, homeopathically prepared liquid is injected into an acupuncture point. To treat an arthritic joint, the point chosen would be adjacent to or over the joint. The homeopathic solution injected is a composite containing many ingredients, each designed to help reduce inflammation and benefit the structures of the joint. Some of the more familiar ingedients in the preparation could include the herb arnica montana, and cartilage for example.
When ingredients are homeopathically activated, they stimulate the body to heal. The key in homeopathy is not the quantity but the type of substance used. When the homeopathic liquid is injected into an arthritic joint, the benefit of regular acupuncture combines with the benefit of the homeopathic ingredients. Biopuncture has been used safely and effectively in Europe for over two decades, and has the advantages of high patient tolerance and virtually no drug interaction. In my own practice, I have used biopuncture on long standing cases of arthritic pain and seen major reductions in the pain in relatively short periods of time. Between food therapy, Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and biopuncture, chronic joint pain can usually be handled naturally.
Stephen Dell-Jones is a licensed Acupuncturist and Nationally Board Certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine. He practices in the Tampa Bay, Florida area at Tampa Bay Acu Health and Spine.