Dr. Laura: Can Fasting Heal Auto Immune Disease?

Fasting is known to initiate cellular clean-up, reduce inflammation, heal leaky gut and reset the immune system. What better formula could we ask for when it comes to autoimmune disease?

Can Fasting Really Help AutoImmune Suffering?

After a recent talk at Goodness Me! I did on the safety of fasting, I was left with more questions on how fasting could help those suffering with autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s, celiac, diabetes type I, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the interim I have played with intermittent fasting over the past couple of months and my body says “thank you!” My digestion has not been this good for years and the persistent scalp psoriasis has all but disappeared. Even when I eat tomatoes, a common trigger for me. It seems anacdotal, however fellow colleagues in the the functional medicine industry like Mark Hyman, Amy Myers, and Courtney Sperlazza all agree.

What Kind of Fasting?

There are many kinds of fasting. We fast when we exclude a single food or types of foods from our diet. So the 30-day reset with no grains, sugar or dairy is a type of fast. This is a good start. The Ketogenic diet is a type of fast too. A Keto diet for a while may be helpful because it switches the body from a carb burning engine to a fat burning engine. But here I am talking about intermittent and more extended fasts to give complete
digestive rest
. When the body is not busy digesting and sorting out where to use or store the blood sugar, it can focus on cellular clean up and repair. Of course when you do eat, nutrient dense foods are a must because you are eating less overall and will need to pack the nutrients you need into less meals. If you are sensitive to foods, like tomatoes, dairy, wheat and sugar for me, that doesn’t mean I go back to eating them all the time. If at all. My excuse was I was in beautiful Italy and learning to make a succulent Bolognese sauce.

Can Anyone Fast?

No. Fasting isn’t for everyone. Not for children or pregnant mothers, those who are malnourished or those with anorexia or bulimia – that’s just playing with fire. Fasting also has to be monitored if you are on medications or have certain medical conditions. Medical complications include gout, cardiac arrhythmia, and postural hypotension.

How Long to Fast?

There is nothing written in stone about the perfect length of fast. And if you ever feel nauseous, dizzy or unwell you should eat. This isn’t about starvation. It’s about digestive rest. It’s about resetting insulin sensitivity and the immune system. Also, we know where the food is and have access to it if we need it. So it’s not starvation.

What Foods are Allowed?

As I mentioned above there are no real rules and there are many different  types and lengths of fasts. If you are on the thinner side and can’t stand to loose some weight, then you better consider bone broth fasts, where there are some nutrients and fat going in. If you have a little loving around that waist line, you likely can feed off that for a while and have coffee, tea and of course LOTS OF WATER.

For more information on whether fasting is right for you, and how to do it, book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown ND. 519.826.7973.

 

Dr. Laura: Cough and Cold Relief, Naturally.

Naturopathic medicine offers much in line with cough and cold relief. The common cold and sinusitis are classic respiratory tract illnesses.

Respiratory Tract

The respiratory tract can be affected by many different cold viruses which  cause coughs due to inflammation, pain, and irritating mucous. The typical respiratory virus lasts 7-10 days.

Prevention

  • wash hands
  • avoid cross contamination
  • strengthen immune

First line is prevention. Washing hands regularly with soap and water is key. Also keep unwashed hands away from common sites of viral and bacterial entry: the nose, eyes, ears and mouth. Medicinal mushrooms, herbal formulas geared to the immune system, garlic, vitamin C may all be used to help strengthen the immune system.

Early signs

At early signs of throat tickles or glandular reactions, there are homoepathics and essential oils, mineral and botanical sprays that can nip things before they take off. Wet socks can also be helpful to boost white blood cells.

Naturopathic Treatments for Cough and Cold

Relieve blocked sinuses

There are acupuncture points to help balance heat and cold in the body, as well as ones that activate and release the sinuses. Even a single treatment can provide significant relief. At home hydrotherapy is always useful. A nasal saline rinse, wet socks or steam inhalation can all help you breath and sleep better at night and breathe better through the day. Steam inhalation with essential oils of thyme, lavender or eucalyptus allows antimicrobials to come in direct contact with the respiratory tract mucosa and the heat will help loosen the mucous. Herbal remedies blended to suit the symptoms of the cold and cough are very helpful to reduce the severity and duration. They offer antimicrobial factors, reduce inflammation and soothe irritated tissues. Mucolytics are neutracueticals which help break up mucous. Dr. Laura will work with you to find the best combination of remedies for you.

Relieve cough

  • Herbal remedies to soothe and reduce inflammation of mucous membranes
  • Homeopathic remedies prescribed for the specific nature

As mentioned above, custom blended herbal and homeopathic remedies can reduce the intensity and duration of the respiratory virus. Often, in upper respiratory tract infections, it is the post nasal drip of mucous from the sinuses that produces the cough. In lower respiratory tract infections, there is also irritating mucous involved. In both cases, it is important to treat the mucous congestion as mentioned above and soothe the tissues.

Treat lingering cough

  • Nebulized Glutathione

Nebulized or inhaled glutathione may be helpful to nourish and restore respiratory tract tissue. It is useful in any trauma to respiratory tract including smoke and fume inhalation and treatment can reduce and even avoid the post viral cough. Glutathione offers antioxidant protection and immune support while avoiding influence on plasma levels.

Alterations in the levels of glutathione in the lung and alveoli are widely recognized in many inflammatory lung diseases. Glutathione in the lining fluid of the lower respiratory tract is the first line of defence against oxidative stress.

 

Dr. Laura M. Brown ND

 

References:

The treatment of pulmonary diseases and respiratory-related conditions with inhaled (nebulized or aerosolized) glutathione. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007;5(1):27-35.

https://ndnr.com/bacterialviral-infections/post-viral-cough-clinical-considerations/

Dr. Laura: Why Estrogen Makes You Stressed

How estrogen impacts stress

High levels of estrogen might increase your levels of stress. It clogs up the detoxification pathways and leaves neurochemicals in the body for too long. A build up of neurochemicals can make a person angry, irritable, anxious or exhibit compulsive symptoms.

The detoxification processes affected by high levels of estrogen:

  1. Methylation
  2. Breakdown

Methylation

Methylation keeps cells from oxidizing, aging, or simply “going bad”. Too much or too little methylation is linked to multiple diseases and cancer. Methylation aids in DNA and RNA synthesis, cell differentiation, neurotransmitter synthesis and metabolism, detoxification, hormone clearance, energy production, nerve conduction and histamine clearance.

Methylation is provided by foods that offer sources of B6,B12, zinc and folate (lots of vegetables, fruits, seafood, red meat, nuts & seeds). The MTHFR (methyl folate reduction) gene’s activity is observed through genetic and organic acid tests. Homocysteine can also be a blood biomarker for how well the methylation cycle works.

Breakdown of neurotransmitters

COMT Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) is one of several enzymes that degrade the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. COMT is heavily influenced by levels of estrogen. When the estrogen is high, the COMT is slowed down.

MAO, or monoamine oxidase, is an enzyme that affects the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

When we think of estrogen, we often think of females with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and peri-menopausal women. These are times when the estrogen surges and drops, inflicting mild to severe mood swings.

Estrogens are not only a female concern. There are increased levels of estrogens in males and females due to environmental factors.

Xenoestrogens are not natural forms of estrogen and the body has difficulty eliminating them. Xenoestrogens come in the form of birth control pills, flame retardants, BPA, pesticides, heavy metals, aluminum, lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium.

Increased xenoestrogens puts an increased toll on our COMT and MAO. When the COMT and MAO are busy with excess estrogen and  xenoestrogens it makes it more difficult for them to do their everyday job of clearing catecholamines, or brain chemicals like dopamine and adrenaline. When dopamine and adrenaline hang out for too long, the body endures long standing experiences of stress. This is why estrogen detoxification and support of methylation, COMT and MAO activity in general can lead to less anxiety and aggravation.

How well does your methylation, COMT and MAO work?

Find out how your hormones influence your levels of stress through blood,  dried urine, and salivary tests available with Dr. Laura:

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND works with her patients to help them understand their genetic tendencies and educates on how to prevent disease, reduce experiences of stress and live with energy.

Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Quick + Easy Ways To Incorporate Wellness Into Your Week

With all of the go, go, go that comes with being a busy, working woman, sometimes our own health falls to the wayside. We get it, not everyone has the time to hit a two-hour Pilates class every day…we certainly don’t! We’re all about striking a balance here and figuring out simple ways to improve our health on the daily. Let’s keep it simple and dive right into our five quick and easy wellness tips to improve your week.

easy wellness tips

Increase Your Intake of Hydrating Foods

Every wellness article you read is going to tell you to drink your body weight in water, and you should! But just in case you’re not the best at guzzling gallons of water in one sitting, try snacking on it! Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and zucchinis are about 95 percent water. Increase your intake of these tasty snacks and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. We also love mixing in a shot of this hydrating inner beauty boost into our water!

Micro-Dose Your Vitamin D

Set a timer on your phone, write it on your to-do list, do whatever you need to do to incorporate fresh air into your day. Before lunch each day, head outside for a 15-minute walk and soak up the sunshine. Fifteen minutes may not sound like much, but it’s enough to get your blood pumping and also shift your mindset. Pencil in a minimum of one walk per day, but if you can swing more, do it!

Eat Mindfully

So many of us (*guilty hand raised*) eat like it’s just something else to check off our to-do list. We often eat our lunch at our desk in front of a computer, or at home in front of the television. This often leads to overeating or mindless snacking! When it’s time to eat a meal, choose somewhere intentional to sit that doesn’t involve devices with screens. This will help you feel mindful as you eat, breathing between bites, and taking note of when your body is satisfied.

Try Dry Brushing

Never heard of dry brushing? It has a surprising number of benefits, including lymphatic system stimulation. The lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and transporting waste to the blood. Dry brushing can stimulate the lymphatic system as it stimulates and invigorates the skin. It helps with everything from improving the appearance of skin to supporting digestion. Try our favorite brush here

Do Bedtime Yoga

This is one of our favorite ways to end the day. You literally do yoga in your bed, what could be more relaxing? We follow this routine, but feel free to find one that you look forward to doing each night!

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: Epstein Barr Virus Linked to Several AutoImmune Diseases

The Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) we know mostly as “mono” yields connections to several autoimmune diseases.

Who Gets EBV?

More than 90% of the world’s population is infected with EBV. The age of contraction varies and for many it lays dormant for years. Like other human herpes forms of virus (EBV is HHV4), it reactivates in times of stress or trauma. Typical symptoms are what you hear from the college student and their “kissing disease” – tired, sleep a lot, muscle aches and pains, swollen glands/lymph nodes, altered sense of taste and the list goes on.

It seems that if such a large percentage of the population has EBV, it’s easy to pin it to any disease. Recent research at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital sheds some light on how EBV affects our genome.

What Diseases Link to EBV?

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Celiac Disease
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Graves and Hashimotos thyroiditis

“This discovery is probably fundamental enough that it will spur many scientists around the world to reconsider the role of this virus in these disorders,” said John Harley, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Autoimmune Genomics and Etiology (CAGE) at Cincinnati Children’s.

How does EBV Increase Risk for Autoimmunity?

EBV alters the human DNA in ways that weaken the immune system’s ability to combat certain diseases. We all have imperfect genes with variances called SNP’s (pronounced “snips”) that may give us advantage or risk over others in certain situations. EBV tends to change the genetic transcription of DNA to suit its own vitality and puts us more at risk for certain diseases.

What Can Increase the Risk of EBV Sickness?

  • Stress
  • Trauma
  • Poor nutrition
  • Eating the wrong foods
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor  sleep
  • Lack of spiritual connection

More research is required in this area of science for our full understanding of how to combat this detrimental virus. A Naturopathic Doctor like Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help balance lifestyle, diet, nutrition and immune boosting profile to keep the Epstein Barr and other forms of Human Herpes Virus (warts, shingles, cold sores) dormant in your system. Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can also order and inert genetic tests to help you evaluate your risk for certain autoimmune diseases. Knowing your risk factors can contribute to proactive wellness plan that is tailored specifically to you.

 

Dr. Laura: How does your thyroid function?

Feeling tired, loosing hair, bring fog, brittle nails, constipated,  periods heavy and cholesterol rising? Perhaps your thyroid is to blame.

What does thyroid hormone do?

Thyroid hormone keeps:

  • our metabolism humming
  • hair and skin smooth and silky
  • muscles and tendons well lubricated
  • mood bright
  • digestion moving along
  • brain firing on al cylinders
  • LDL cholesterol at healthy levels

How do you measure thyroid function?

General practitioners assess Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), and if it is out of range, T4 and T3 is measured. Sometimes an ultrasound is done to visualize the size and health of the gland, to assess nodules or help diagnose thyroid cancer.  Naturopathic doctors, functional medicine doctors and endocrinologists will be more likely the ones to run a full thyroid panel (freeT4, freeT3, TSH, TPO, Anti-Thyroglobulin and reverse T3).

How does the body naturally balance thyroid hormone?

T3 is the active hormone in the body and is made from T4. Although the T4 is made in the thyroid, conversion to T3 happens mostly in the liver and the gastrointestinal tract.   A normal functioning thyroid gland works with the hypothalamus in the brain using a negative feedback system to indicate when there is enough active thyroid hormone in the system.

How does the medical doctor balance thyroid?

Traditionally synthroid or levothyroxine is prescribed to treat inadequate levels of thyroid hormone and treatment is geared to reach a desired TSH level. Direct T3 therapy (Cytomel) is rarely prescribed due to lack of research and clinical experience. Typically the family doctor will  treat to normalize the TSH, but recent research, and numerous patient complaints may indicate that this is not enough.

More research is required to support T4 and T3 combination therapy, whether it is levothyroxine plus cytomel or natural desiccated thyroid, alone or in combination.

Research finds TSH monitoring is not enough to determine adequate thyroid functioning and some medical doctors agree a 4:1 ratio of T4:T3 predicts patient satisfaction and better health.

What does the naturopathic doctor do to balance the thyroid?

Naturopathic doctors seek to support the thyroid in making T4 and the body’s ability to convert the T4 to the active form of thyroid known as T3.   A naturopathic doctor offers support to people on pharmaceuticals like synthroid or levothyroxine, and is also able to additionally or solely prescribe advice for nutraceutical  support and natural desiccated thyroid.

A naturopathic doctor will:

  • look at the full thyroid panel
  • adrenal health
  • cholesterol panel
  • sex hormone health
  • the function of the liver
  • health of gastrointestinal tract,
  • nutrient balance of things like selenium, zinc, iron and iodine

How is cholesterol linked to thyroid function?

T3 levels are also inversely linked to LDL Cholesterol. When thyroid levels are low, LDL cellular reception is reduced, leaving more LDL in the blood stream.  Emerging research finds treatment with T4 alone (synthroid, levothyroxine) does not always correct the high levels of cholesterol induced by poor thyroid function. Rising levels of LDL cholesterol in peri-menopausal women with symptoms of fatigue should trigger an investigation into the balance of T4 and T3, not just TSH.

What drives T3 levels down?

  • Body shuttles T3 to reverse T3 in times of starvation and stress
  • Poor feedback function in the hypothalamus
  • Thyroiditis
  • High levels of natural and environmental estrogens
  • Epstein Barr Virus

T3 levels are increasingly challenged as xenoestrogens (environmental contaminants) rise in developed countries.  Peri-menopausal women also experience challenges. This is because estrogen (unopposed by progesterone as ovulation slows down), or estrogen mimickers like xenoestrogens (from plastics, pesticides and insecticides) have the ability to bind up Thyroid Binding Globulin and somehow affect the T4 to T3 conversion ratio. Some research points to Epstein Barr Virus impacting the genome and ultimately the function of the thyroid.

For more help optimizing your thyroid function, book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.

 

Dr. Laura: Is Fasting Safe?

Fasting is part of the human existence for thousands of years. As you will learn in this article, not only is it safe, it has numerous health benefits.

Image result for empty plate

What is fasting?

There are many ways people approach a fast. It is simply a period of not eating. It may be done weekly until you reach your health targets, seasonally, or a couple times a year. Water intake is necessary during periods of fasts, as our bodies can do without calories, but not without water. Many choose to fast overnight (most common) from dinner to breakfast, or 7pm to 7am – a 12 hour fast. Then “break-fast” is just that, it breaks the fast. Recently it has gained more popularity and there are different lengths of fasts.

  • intermittent fast, lasting 12-20 hours
  • 24 hour fasts
  • 36 hour fasts
  • extended fasts

Sometimes on the intermittent fasts, people will have a coffee or tea and water while they are not eating. If you truly wish to detoxify, caffeine free is the way to go. So herbs in water or  lemon certainly is less stimulating. For others they choose to incorporate bone broth, which really has proteins and fats in it, but can be suitable for introductory fasting and digestive rest.

Are there benefits to fasting?

  • weight loss
  • reset insulin sensitivity
  • digestive rest
  • more powerful than low carb, ketogenic diets alone
  • protects from illness and maintains wellness
  • provides spiritual cleansing or purification
  • no cooking, cleaning, or grocery shopping!
  • mental clarity
  • overcome stubborn weight plateaus

Will I get hungry?

Hunger may set in, same as if you were at work and didn’t get a break and had to wait to eat, same experience – you push it through till it’s time to eat. But you should never feel nauseated, ill, dizzy or faint. If you do really feel the intense need to eat, it’s easy – you eat. Then you could try the fasting again next week.

Fasting will switch you body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. If your body is primed to burn carbs, you will need to get over the initial bout of strong carb cravings before the fat burning kicks in.

What do I eat when I am not fasting?

What you eat when you are not fasting depends on the reasons for your fast. If you are trying to loose weight or reset your insulin sensitivity, then a ketogenic diet may be best. For those on a digestive fast, re-introduce with easy to digest and simple combinations of foods. A spiritual fast? Then you likely just go back to your regular way of healthy eating. Regardless, you do no want to eat to make up for the time you fasted: that’s counterproductive. If you are doing one or two 24 hours fasts per week (having a couple one meal a day kind of routine), then when you are eating regular on the other days, eat the most healthy vibrant life-filled food that you can. Avoid things that are packaged or processed to get the most nutrition you can on the days you eat.

When is fasting not safe?

Fasting is not safe for the following people:

  • children aged 18 or under
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • thin, weak or feeble
  • nutritionally deficit

Fasting needs to be medically monitored for the following people:

  • those with gout
  • those taking medications
  • if you have type 1 or 2 diabetes
  • those with gastro reflux disease

For questions or advice on what kind or whether fasting is right for you, book an appointment to review with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND. (519) 826-7973.

References:

Fun Jason. 2016. The complete guide to fasting. Victory Belt Publishing. Las Vegas.

Dr. Laura: Ear Wax Facts

Earwax, (medically known as cerumen auris) is a protective normal secretion from a skin gland in the external ear canal. Some people make more earwax than others. Certain habits or careers may put an individual more at risk for earwax impaction.

 

Do you wear earphones, earplugs hearing aids or use Q-tips?

Do you have dizziness,  ear pain, itchy ears, or hearing loss?

If so, you may have earwax impaction.

Image result for ear wax impaction
picture from hearingaiddoctors.com

What is earwax?

  • 60% skin cells that have shed from the area
  • 12–20% saturated and unsaturated long-chain fatty acids
  • 6–9% cholesterol

What is the purpose of earwax?

  • Lubricates the external auditory canal
  • Protects particles from reaching and damaging the eardrum
    • Traps dust, small particles and insects
  • Provides antimicrobial protection (acidity, fatty acid and lysosome)
    • Protection bacteria and fungal infections

What is earwax impaction?

Image result for ear wax impaction

  • Earwax impaction is one of the most common ear problems
  • When earwax accumulates in the canal and, on otoscopic inspection, blocks the view of the external canal or tympanic membrane
  • When the use of ears swabs or other devices in effort to clear the ear push the earwax deeper into the ear
  • Chronic use of hearing aids, earplugs, headphones, can also push the earwax further into the ear and prevent the natural migration outward
  • Excessive earwax production can also worsen with anxiety, fear and stress, and aging
picture from journals.sagepub.com

What are the symptoms of earwax impaction?

  • Irritation of the ear
  • Sensation of an ear blockage
  • Reduce sense of hearing
  • Earache
  • Noise in the ear or head
  • Dizziness

How to clear out earwax?

Image result for tympanic membrane
healthy ear canal and tympanic membrane
  • DO NOT use Q-tips! They tend to push the ear wax deeper into the canal.
  • Naturally, the earwax dries up and there is a migration of skin cells that helps port the dried up was out of the external canal, much like a conveyor belt
  • Assisted action of clearing out by the action of chewing and talking
  • There are products that may soften the wax however this should only be done under medical supervision.
  • It is best to have the ears looked at with an otoscope to see if there is indeed a build up and if the tympanic membrane is intact
  • Candling is not recommended as it has not shown to be overly effective and can often lead to burns, wax left behind in the ear, irritation of the external ear canal and occasional temporary hearing loss.
  • Ear irrigation is a safe and effective way to clear out earwax, so long as the tympanic membrane is intact.
  • Professional irrigation can be more effective than self-irrigation as it include the visualization of the health of the external canal and tympanic membrane before and after treatment.

Laura M. Brown, ND

provides a basic ear inspection and ear irrigation service

within a 15 minute appointment. Call (519) 826-7973

Image result for ear wax irrigationpicture from earwax treatment.com

References

Adegbiji WA, Alabi BS, Olajuyin OA, Nwawolo CC. Earwax Impaction: Symptoms, Predisposing Factors and Perception among Nigerians. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. 2014;3(4):379-382. doi:10.4103/2249-4863.148116.

Daniel F. McCarter MD, A. Ursulla Courtney, MD, and Susan M. Pollart, MD, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia. Am Fam Physician. 2007 May 15;75(10):1523-1528.

Rafferty J, Tsikoudas A, Davis BC. Ear candling: Should general practitioners recommend it? Canadian Family Physician. 2007;53(12):2121-2122.

 

Dr. Laura: Long Term Effects of Cortisol and Stress

Cortisol is released in a daily rhythm, but also in response to stress. Ever wonder what are the long term effects of cortisol (stress) in the body?

picture from  philosophytalk.org

Long term danger can be perceived in the form of anything that takes away our freedom, feeling unloved, feelings of insecurity, projecting into the future something that is not true, as if it were and  fear-based memories for future survival so as to avoid any repeat of traumatic events.

Cortisol is not all bad, it has some daily and life-saving functions. The problems lies when the body gets stuck in fear gear, cannot return to its natural state of homeostasis and subsequently has difficult with rest and digestion.

Normal Cortisol Function

Cortisol hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is released twice a day with blood levels peaking in the morning, and rising slightly again in mid afternoon.

Throughout the day, cortisol:

  • Helps provide energy; maintains blood glucose
  • Suppresses nonvital organ systems to provide energy to the brain, nerves and muscles
  • Is a potent anti-inflammatory hormone
  • Prevents widespread tissue and nerve damage associated with inflammation

Short Term Stress Response

In response to a moment of physical or emotional shock or trauma, the body releases three main chemicals: epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. In the short term, these chemicals trigger a series of events in the body to promote survival including anti-inflammatory actions and activation of energy to flee from the danger. Short term response has a clear purpose to better outcome (safety, life).

Once the epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol are released into the blood flow,

  • heart rate increases
  • blood pressure increases
  • respiration rate increases
  • arteries vasoconstrictor & release sweat.
  • pupils dilate
  • Pro inflammatory response so as to destroy antigens, pathogens, or foreign invaders; adrenoreceptor antagonists have been shown to inhibit stress-induced inflammation and cytokine production by blocking the proinflammatory effects of norepinephrine.

Long Term Cortisol Danger

Body’s release

When the brain feels you are in danger on an ongoing basis, cortisol release goes into overdrive. This can be things that threaten our survival like financial concerns, relationship problems, too many commitments, feelings of bitterness towards others, anger, resentment, being unhappy with yourself, lack of faith, hope, love, fear of loosing something you treasure… the list can go on.

Basically the body gets stuck in some type of survival mode. It is then difficult to re-establish to its natural balance.

Medications

Long term medications that end on “-sone” are often producing similar effects to cortisol in the body. These are drugs that suppress the immune system like prednisone, hydrocortisone.

Cortisone type drugs are used to treat pain, allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or breathing disorders.

Be sure to also be aware of information on cortisone drug side effects. 

  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle wasting
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hyper irritability
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Vascular fragility including easy bruising
  • Striae or redish stripes over the lower abdomen (thinning of the skin structures)
  • Suppressed immune system, make it easier to get infections
  • Central obesity

If you feel like you are “always on” , have difficulty digesting food or feel “tired and wired”, chances are you are running the meter up on cortisol. As you can see the long term effects are not favourable for good health.

Have Hope

Don’t give up hope, however. The first step is to recognize what is stressing you out. This is more than relationships, it can be pain, inflammation, poor diet, lack of sleep, poor coping mechanisms or genetic wrinkles.

Resolution doesn’t happen overnight but can be improved on a steady course of treatment over time.  Treatment will look at things like sleep hygiene, a healthy diet, the right amount and type of exercise,  and new perspectives on managing yourself in relationships with yourself and others.

The Last “Peace”

Need more peace in your life?  Join me at Goodness Me! on Sept 19th in a presentation on Anxiety Antidotes.

 

References:

Constanzo LS. 2011. BRS Physiology Fifth Edition. Walters Kluwer|Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Philadelphia.

Hannibal KE, Bishop MD. Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation. Physical Therapy. 2014;94(12):1816-1825. doi:10.2522/ptj.20130597.

Wright H. 2009. A More Excellent Way. Whitaker House. Pennsylvania.

Dr. Laura Shares: GUT Viruses Implicated in Parkinson’s Disease

This article on the link between viruses found in the gastrointestinal tract and Parkinson’s Disease is from www.medscape.com

Gut Viruses a Potential Trigger for Parkinson’s Disease?

Pauline Anderson

July 19, 2018

Shifts in gut bacteriophages, viruses that infect and replicate within bacteria, are implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD), new research suggests.

“Most likely, bacteriophages are previously overlooked triggers for the development of Parkinson disease in some patient populations,” lead author George Tetz, MD, PhD, head of R&D at the Human Microbiology Institute, a not-for-profit scientific research organization in New York City, and of the Tetz Laboratories, told Medscape Medical News.

Dr George Tetz

Although the results need to be confirmed, they open the door for discussing bacteriophages as a novel therapeutic target and diagnostic tool for patients with PD, said Tetz.

The study was published online July 17 in Scientific Reports.

Incidence Rising

The incidence of PD is on the rise in the Western world, with a higher prevalence among white men.

PD symptoms of tremors and motor symptoms are mainly related to depletion of dopamine in the striatum. The hallmark pathological signs of PD are Lewy bodies, which have a main component of α-synuclein protein.

While genetic risk factors contribute to PD, about 90% of PD cases are attributed to environmental factors. Up to 75% of patients have gastrointestinal (GI) abnormalities that can precede motor symptoms by many years.

Given the influence of gut bacteria on human health and the early involvement of GI microbiota in PD, the concept that the microbiota-gut-brain axis plays a role in PD has recently emerged.

The human GI tract houses bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses, including bacteriophages, which outnumber other viral and bacterial species.

How bacteriophages negatively affect health has recently gained scientific interest.

“These bacterial viruses can lead to the death of bacterial populations,” said Tetz.

He and his team previously showed that bacteriophage administration can cause shifts in mammalian microbiota, leading to increased intestinal permeability and triggering chronic inflammation.

Gut bacteria may be implicated in PD through several pathways. One such pathway outlined by the authors involves the enteric nervous system (ENS), which  that is in constant direct communication with the brain through the vagus nerve.

Vagus Nerve a Disease Pathway?

According to the model of gut-originating, inflammation-driven PD pathogenesis, PD starts in the ENS and spreads through the vagus nerve to the central nervous system.

This concept is confirmed by the presence of α-synuclein aggregates in myenteric neurons of the ENS before the onset of PD motor symptoms, the authors note.

An unrelated 2016 study, reported by Medscape Medical News, showed that truncal vagotomy, or removal of the vagus nerve, was associated with a reduced risk for PD.

The authors of that study concluded that this finding suggests Parkinson’s pathology may ascend from the gut to the brain via the vagus nerve.

In the new study, Tetz and colleagues note that changes in the composition of gut microbiota may cause alterations in the intestinal barrier function and permeability, affecting both the immune system and the ENS.

The new analysis was based on another study that included 31 patients, mean age about 65 years, with early-stage PD and 28 sex- and age-matched people without PD.

The patients with PD had not yet been treated with L-dopa. This, said Tetz, is very important.

“It’s well-known that the administration of dopamine in Parkinson’s disease patients leads to a significant shift of the microbiome.”

Patients with chronic and inflammatory GI diseases and those using laxatives, immune suppressants, or antibiotics in the past 3 months were excluded from the study.

To analyze the study participants’ fecal samples, researchers used metagenomics analysis and a unique algorithm developed by the authors to quantify bacterial and phage content. They also examined the phage/bacteria ratio.

Environmental Origin?

Under normal circumstances, this ratio is 1, which means one bacterium has one bacteriophage inserted in its genome, said Tetz.

“Alterations of this ratio represent an increase of bacteriophages, and as a result, lead to a decrease of bacterial populations that are killed by these bacteriophages.”

The investigators found a significant between-group difference in the phage/bacterial ratio for Lactococcus (lactic acid bacteria). There was more than a 10-fold decrease in Lactococcus species  in patients with PD compared with controls.

Lactococcus plays an important role in the metabolism of neurotransmitters, including dopamine. It also regulates intestinal permeability, another factor implicated in PD pathogenesis.

Despite the “striking” depletion of Lactococcus species in patients with PD, the total number of respective Lactococcus phages was about the same between the PD and control groups, the investigators report.

To investigate this discrepancy and a possible role of bacteriophages in the depletion of Lactococcus, the researchers divided Lactococcus phages into two clusters: strictly virulent (lytic), which can lead to the death of bacterial populations, or temperate. They compared the distribution of these two types between patients with PD and controls.

In the control group, the number of the lytic and temperate phages was similar, whereas in the PD group, most lactococcal phages were strictly virulent.

Tetz noted that the increase in these strictly lytic phages was accompanied by a decrease of Lactococcus bacteria. This, he said, suggests that the depletion of Lactococcus in patients with PD could be caused by lytic phages.

It’s not clear why the patients with PD had increased levels of lytic phages — whether, for example, it was from diet or a particular genetic susceptibility. This question must be addressed in further experiments, which are already in the planning stages, said Tetz.

However, he believes that the appearance of these lytic phages is most likely due to some external factor. The fact that these phages are lytic, meaning they enter microbiota, lead to the death of the bacterial population, and don’t persist for long in the gut, “would suggest that it’s something that originates from the environment.”

Dairy to Blame?

He noted that the type of phages that were increased in patients with PD in the study are found in yogurt and other dairy products. But he said it’s too early to conclude that such products play any role in PD.

The investigators believe that boosting Lactococcus bacterial species, or preventing a drop in levels, may prove useful in halting the development of PD.

But he stressed the importance of “diagnosing the death of the Lactococcus population at the appropriate time — before and not after the development of the disease.”

While it’s still unclear whether changes in dairy food consumption, or use of supplements, would change the gut Lactococcus population, fecal transplants are an intervention under active investigation.

However, Tetz believes that to be successful, such transplants would likely need to involve a limited number of bacterial species.

“There are a lot of drawbacks to regular fecal transplants, especially in the elderly population,” said Tetz. “It can lead to unpredictable shifts of the microbiome,” so new methods and new algorithms need to be developed “to make it safer.”
In light of these new results, bacteriophages should be added to the list of possible factors associated with the development of PD, the authors note.

They add that gut phagobiota composition may serve as a diagnostic tool as well as a target for therapeutic intervention.

The research team has also investigated the role of bacteriophages in type 1 diabetes. Tetz said the results “have revealed a striking difference” in children with this autoimmune disease.

Gaining Momentum

Commenting on the findings for Medscape Medical News, Michael S. Okun, MD, professor and chair of neurology, University of Florida, Gainesville, and medical director, Parkinson’s Foundation, said the idea that change in the gut microbiome and bacterial content may be important to PD is “gaining momentum.”

The new study, which is “novel” in that it analyzed the phage/bacteria ratio in study participants, contributes useful information on the topic, said Okun.

“There were possibly important shifts in the phage/bacteria ratio in lactic acid bacteria potentially important to dopamine and to intestinal permeability.”

The depletion in Lactococcus was “intriguing” as previous studies have linked dairy products to development of PD, said Okun.

However, he warned that the new study needs to be interpreted carefully because all the patients with PD were drug naive and there were only 31 of them.

Okun agreed with the authors that it would be “speculative” to use this information “as a direct link” to the cause of or potential treatments for PD.

“Understanding the microbiome in Parkinson may unlock new diets or treatment approaches, or even help current medications and therapies work more effectively, but much more research will be required.”

Tetz and Okun have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Sci Rep. Published online July 17, 2018. Full text

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