Dr. Laura: Drugs that affect the microbiome

Drugs are one of the major factors that affect the microbiome. The impacts vary depending on the drug and duration of treatment.

The environmentfoodstress and drugs  all contribute to changes in the microbiome. This is why it is important to recognize and address any contributors that cause troubles.

Clinical intake and tests flushes out root causes and provide clarity. 

Why should I care?

Unique patterns in the microbiome link to different diseases. An unhealthy microbiome links to depression, anxiety, autistic disordersvitamin and mineral status (nutrient absorption)hormone production,  eczemadiabetes, obesity, arthritis and inflammatory bowel psoriasis and other autoimmune, conditions, heart healthcholesterolnon-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), diseases.  Research continues to expand this list.  

What is the microbiome?

The human microbiome exists in the gastrointestinal/urogenital tract and the skin. The trillions of cells that make up our microbiome actually out number the human cells that we have in our body by tenfold. Are we microbes having a human experience?

Healthy microbiome?

A healthy regular stool is not always indicative of a healthy microbiome. History of autoimmune conditions, food sensitivity, sugar cravings, gas, pain, bloating, bad breath, candidiasis, brain fog, mood changes, weight issues, skin issues, joint pain, trauma, stress, headaches, use of birth control or other hormones, frequent use of antibiotics and certain drugs can all be factors or indicators of microbiome disruption. 

What drugs affect the microbiome?

Your microbiome may be out of balance if you are currently, or have history of taking, any of the following drugs:

  • Antibiotics
  • Cancer Therapies
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidiabetic drugs
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • GI disorder drugs
  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Anti-psychotic drugs
  • Anti-coagulants
  • Hormones: estrogen, birth control, thyroid hormone

Find out more…tests available

One helpful test to look at the key players of the microbiome is the comprehensive stool and parasitic analysis. Knowledge of the landscape certainly helps streamline the treatment. 

Food sensitivities often rise when the microbiome is off balance. It is important to recognize the foods that are bothersome. Then remove them for a while and do the work to remove unwanted microbes and replace with healthy ones while repairing the gastrointestinal tract lining. Protocols are patient specific based on the microbiome the lining of gastrointestinal tract and the overall health of the patient. 

Dr. Laura M. Brown ND is a Naturopathic Doctor with a functional medicine approach. She is a Certified Gluten Practitioner, a HeartMath Certified Practitioner and is a graduate of Adapt Level 1 at Kresser Institute of Functional Medicine. Essentially, Dr. Brown helps people better digest their food and the word around them. More at www.naturalaura.ca and  www.forwardhealth.ca

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: Wheat & Gluten Sensitivity Testing

WHEAT & GLUTEN SENSITIVITY TESTING

There are over 100 proteins in wheat, which includes gluten, but is not limited to gluten.

Every time any of us eats gluten, some damage is done to the small intestinal lining. For most, it recovers and repairs in about twenty minutes . For those who are genetically susceptible it may take up to five hours. Then the next meal comes. Over time, repeated meals containing gluten repeat the damage, with little time of repair and recovery and eventually the body cannot keep up. Some trigger point of stress or illness may make it more difficult for the recovery. Then the signs and symptoms may show up. Not everyone has traditional symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, bowel issues, pain, gas, or bloating. Some have apparently no symptoms at all.

Gluten sensitivity plays a role in things like:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • autism
  • schizophrenia
  • cerebellar ataxia
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • fertility
  • autoimmunity
  • celiac disease
  • dermatitis herpatiformis
  • polymyalgia

 

A lot of gastroenterologists know how to screen for celiac disease, they’ll typically test for antibodies to alpha-gliadin, transglutaminase-2, maybe if they’re current with the scientific literature they’ll also screen for antibodies to deamidated gliadin and endomysium.

If some of these tests are positive, then they might do a biopsy to determine if there is damage in the small intestine. If the tests are negative, the patient’s generally told that they don’t have celiac or gluten intolerance and that’s as far at it goes.

However, research shows that people can and do react to several other components in wheat above and beyond alpha-gliadin, the fraction of wheat that is involved in the pathogenesis of celiac disease, and these include other epitopes of gliadin like beta-gliadin, gamma-gliadin and omegagliadin; glutenin, which is the other major half of the wheat protein; wheat germ agglutinin, which is a lectin in wheat; gluteomorphin; and deamidated gliadin. What’s more, people can react to other types of tissue transglutaminase, aside from tGT-2, including type 3, which is primarily found in the skin, and type 6, which is primarily found in the brain and nervous system tissue.

If this is you, the gluten you eat may affect your brain or your skin, or maybe your muscle, but you will be completely missed by conventional testing. I emphasize – just because the two markers your conventional doc tests your for come back negative, it does not mean you are not free from wheat related damage. Also, just because you do not have symptoms you think are related to wheat, doesn’t mean you are free from its (potential) body-wide damage.

How do I find out?

Enter Cyrex Array 3 testing. It is the most comprehensive form of wheat sensitivity testing available today. It involves a simple blood test and will test for the two markers your conventional doctor sends for plus 22 other markers.  You’ll have to confirm this at time of testing as pricing can vary. You will need an appointment with Dr. Laura M Brown, ND, Certified Gluten Practitioner, before and after your test. Dr. Laura will help interpret the test and proved direction for next steps. Dr. Laura has extended training in diagnosing and treating gluten related disorders.

Now it is important to note that Cyrex Array 3 will not diagnose Celiac, only the gold standard of positive intestinal biopsy will prove that, but it can tell you how strong the markers related to Celiac or other forms of non-celiac gluten sensitive (NCGS).

 

Here’s what the test results look like:

 

Test Prep:

 

This is a blood test that measures antibodies. As such, in order to improve the accuracy of

your test results, you must ensure adequate exposure to wheat beginning 25 to 30 days

before you schedule your blood draw.

Exposure to wheat allows your body to form antibodies if you do have sensitivity. Avoiding wheat before this test could cause a false negative result, meaning that the test states you are not sensitive to wheat when you actually are intolerant.

 

 

For more information visit www.cyrexlabs.com or book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND at Forward Health.

 

Dr. Laura: Surprising Number of Conditions Linked to Celiac Disease

I just received this post… hot off the press from the World Congress of Gastroenterology. We learn about all the conditions that are linked to Celiac disease. This means if you have migraines or anxiety attacks, more people with Celiac have them than not. Or, if you have a specific type of rash called dermatitis herpatiformis, you are pretty well guaranteed to have celiac. Have a look at the chart below and see if you have any of the following conditions and then look at the odds ratio that you may have Celiac Disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition related to the ingestion of gluten, or wheat. Wheat has over 100 proteins in it and gluten and gliadin are just two of these proteins. Your body can launch an immune attack to any of these proteins, then these could cross react with tissues in your body including your brain, liver, pancreas, skin muscles, or as in Celiac, your small intestinal villi. If your villi are damaged, then you are not absorbing vitamins, minerals and nutrients. So this can additionally lead to things like B12 deficiency (depression, brain fog, neuropathy) iron deficiency (dizzy, weak, pale), or osteoporosis.

Conventional medical testing will look at 2 markers for these proteins immune reactions. Functional Medical tests that I run will cover 24 markers, including these 2 from conventional means. You have to pay for both tests out of pocket, so I figure you may as well run the more complete test to get the bigger picture of what’s going on in your body. The broader testing means we can catch wheat related diseases – non-celiac gluten related disorders like cerebellar ataxia (problems with balance and walking) or wheat addiction (it’s like opioid addiction!) or tell it if is reacting with you muscles (polymyalgia?) or skin.

Table 1. Prevalence of Diagnoses in People With and Without Celiac Disease (P < .0001 for All)

Diagnosis With Celiac Disease, % Without Celiac Disease, % Odds Ratio
Migraine 18.6 4.1 5.5
Anxiety disorder 25.9 8.7 4.0
Arthritis 28.9 8.4 4.9
Dermatitis herpetiformis 1.3 0.0 4563.5
Liver disease 23.2 4.2 7.1
Gastroesophageal reflux disease 36.8 13.0 4.5
Eosinophilic esophagitis 0.6 0.1 8.8
Atrophic gastritis 3.9 0.1 8.0
Glossitis 0.4 0.1 4.4
Pancreatitis 15.8 0.7 25.0
Disorder of the pancreas 17.2 1.1 19.0
Cerebellar ataxia 0.1 0.0 4.1
Autism 4.0 0.2 19.9
Colitis 25.9 4.2 8.4
Turner syndrome 0.1 0 17.8
Down syndrome 0.6 0.1 8.1
Common variable immunodeficiency 0.2 0.0 10.2

Gluten: More danger than we thought

Gluten is more than a digestive disrupter

A review of research from the past 50 years revels a link of gluten to chronic disease. It is now accepted that gluten sensitivity can affect body wide functions.

Intake of gluten may impact body function and lead to chronic diseases.

Gluten may:

  • impair nutrient absorption
    • lead to a cascade of neurological, bone, brain, and thyroid problems
  • increase inflammation in the brain
    • contribute to brain fog, dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • impair blood glucose control
    • aggravate mood, appetite, diabetes
  • stop your feeling of being full
    • lead to eating more than you need, weight gain
  • stimulate an immune attack on
    • fibrous sheath on the muscle
    • myelin sheath of the nerves
    • & much, much more

Not even a tummy ache

Most patients who present with neurological or other organ manifestations of gluten sensitivity have no gastrointestinal symptoms.

Gluten could affect you or someone you love.

Empower your health with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.

Complimentary education talk at Goodness Me!

Wednesday January 18th 6:30-8pm.

Free Meal!

Well, free of gluten and perhaps more…

When Gluten Free Is Not Enough

Are you or someone you know sensitive to gluten and have cut it out and still have issues with pain, headaches, bran fog, joint pain, diarrhea, constipation, or general fatigue?

Not so nice…

Gluten is known to cross react with cow’s milk, milk chocolate, milk butyrophilin, whey protein, casein, yeast, oats, corn, millet, instant coffee and rice. That means if you eat any of these foods, even if you are gluten free, your body could be reacting to those foods as well.

Gut Permeability

If you have a gluten related disorder or Celiac disease and you have cut out gluten but not worked on healing the gastrointestinal lining, then you may have what is called “Leaky Gut”. There are steps to take to heal the lining and restore the natural mucosa. Sometimes once you heal the leaky gut, you are able to tolerate some of the foods to which you grew sensitive. If you are Celiac or gluten sensitive, gluten free will always be a part of your lifestyle.

Food Sensitivity Testing

Food Sensitivity testing is a great way to find out the resistance your body has to different foods. It provides the means for a guided elimination diet. Or you can simply cut out the potential offenders and re-introduce them one at a time and see how you feel.

 

Move forward with your health.

Dr. Laura M. Brown ND is trained and certified to help those with gluten related disorders, Celiac disease and the related testing, diagnosis, lifestyle design, education and nutritional support.

 

References:

A. Vojdani and I. Tarash, “Cross-Reaction between Gliadin and Different Food and Tissue Antigens,” Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol. 4 No. 1, 2013, pp. 20-32. doi: 10.4236/fns.2013.41005.

Why wheat makes me eat…constantly

Wheat Makes Me Eat

Before I knew I had serious gluten issues, I always wondered why when I ate cereal or bread, I just couldn’t seem to stop. I always wanted more and was never really satisfied. Since I have been off gluten for more than 5 years, I can say that I can eat a salad with meat, fish or poultry with some great olive oil and be totally satisfied. What gives?

The research that I found today really zeros in on one reason why this constant and never ending craving for food can occur.

It’s not about will power

Weight management is not about will power.

It can be about the choices in the kind of food you eat.

Foods like gluten, for example can uncouple your natural mechanism to tell you that you are full.

Digested wheat gluten inhibits satiety

Leptin is a hormone released in digestion.

Leptin is responsible for sending a message to the brain that we have had enough to eat.

When leptin signals to the brain are impaired,  weight gain and obesity is often a result.

Recent research illustrates that  wheat gluten prevents leptin from binding to its own receptor, thus preventing the brain from receiving the signal that you are full.

Want to learn more information on gluten sensitivity?

If you are interested, email drlaura@forwardhealth.ca

From the heart, mind and research of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

 

 

Fatigued? Could your Iron be low?

Fatigued?

Low iron could be part of the root cause of your fatigue. It could be a matter of absorption, health of the red blood cell, or compounding factors like thyroid, poor sleep, and related heart issues. ™There is preliminary evidence that iron supplementation might improve unexplained fatigue in non-anemic women. Low iron is one of the top reasons for fatigue, but it is not the only reason. Dr. Laura M. Brown ND can help you dig into the root cause of your fatigue.

Get help now.

Who is at Risk?

  • menstruating women
  • vegan and vegetarians
  • high performance athletes
  • those with Celiac, gluten sensitivity, Crohn’s or colitis
  • long term use of proton pump inhibitors
  • H.Pylori infection
  • internal bleeding of any kind

Food Sources of Iron

™Food Sources: meats of all kinds, liver and organ meats (animal sources best absorbed), kelp, legumes, tofu, whole grains, molasses, nuts and seeds, wheat, millet, dark leafy greens, sardines, prune juice and oysters.

Iron Absorption

Iron absorption depends on proper stomach acid and the ability for the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to absorb. The body will only absorb what iron it needs, and pass the rest along in the stool. Animal based heme (iron) is best absorbed. Vegetable based iron sources are absorbed at a fraction of animal based sources. If there are stomach acid issues, like an H.Pylori infection or prolonged use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s), or issues with the GI lining like in Celiac, Crohn’s or Colitis, then absorption of iron and other vital nutrients may be impaired.

Your iron could be low if you have these symptoms:

™Fatigue, weakness

™Dizziness, especially on rising quickly

™Shortness of breath on exertion, chest pain

™Headache

™Coldness in your hands and feet

™Pale skin, tongue, conjunctiva

™Brittle nails

™Swelling or sore tongue, cracks at side mouth

™Enlarged spleen, frequent infections

Why do I feel this way?

™Iron is also a cofactor in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. This is why low iron has the potential to contribute to low mood.

Iron deficiency may affect selenium absorption, which could then affect thyroid hormone production. Low thyroid function can can contribute to a state of fatigue.

™Iron deficiency can also cause restless legs, contributing to poor sleep, which means less healing in sleep, more hormonal imbalance and compounded issues of fatigue.

If you don’t have enough hemoglobin-carrying red blood cells, your heart has to work harder to move oxygen-rich blood through your body. This can lead to arrhythmias, murmur, enlarged heart, or even heart failure.

Iron is used to make the hemoglobin complex on the red blood cells.

™If your red blood cells are breaking down or not enough are made, you will not have the ability to use the iron to make the hemoglobin.

™There are four “parking spots” for Oxygen and carbon dioxide on your red blood cells – this is the iron binding capacity or “TIBC” you see on your blood work.

™When the TIBC is high you iron might be low.

Sometimes serum iron is fine but the ferritin is high. The body squirrels away iron when there is an infection. This is because virus and bacteria use iron to help replicate. What a smart body we have!  Inflammatory factors of infection and low iron contributes to fatigue.

 

Diagnosing Low Iron

Clinical presentation (your signs and symptoms) are the first clue to low iron. A simple blood test including a CBC and Iron Panel will help dig into the root cause of your fatigue. Further exploration and tests may be required to diagnose other contributing factors of health as mentioned above. A naturopathic doctor is always on the look out for the true root cause of your health concerns.

™CBC – complete blood count

–Number, size of red blood cells (RBC) (iron def. anemia red blood cells are smaller than normal)

–Number, size of white blood cells

–Number of platelets

–Reticulocyte count – immature RBC – tells if bone marrow production rate of RBCs is normal

–Hemoglobin- iron rich protein on your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues and carbon dioxide away

–Hematocrit – measures how much space your red blood cells take up in your blood

™Serum iron – amount of iron in your blood. Not always indicative of the total amount of iron in your body.

™Serum ferritin – think tin is something you store things in– this is your iron storage.

™Transferrin – trans for transfer – this protein carries iron in your blood

™TIBC – measures how much of the transferrin is around and not carrying any iron

Dr.  Laura M. Brown, ND 

Psoriasis and other Autoimmune Conditions

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disorder typically identified by reddened dry skin that becomes progressively flaky and scaly as well as painful and itchy. Usually the plaques are found on extensor surfaces such as elbows, knees and scalp.

psoriasis medscape

The immune system is involved in this inflammatory condition. Quite often once one autoimmune disease is had, others will evolve as well. Autoimmune means that the body’s defense system is attacking the body it lives in. It is hypervigilant. There is likely some genetic susceptibility in the individual, followed by an incident where the immune system launched a defense against a foreign molecule that had some resemblance to the molecules of the body. Now, when the immune system sees that near match it sends out its troupes and ends up destroying the tissues of its own body.

Autoimmune diseases can affect the heart, brain, nerves, muscles, skin, eyes, joints, lungs, kidneys, glands, the digestive tract, and blood vessels. Among others, it is the underlying mechanism of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Celiac, Crohn’s, Sjogren’s, Type I Diabetes and Psoriasis.

On Wednesday, July 27 at 6:30 in the Goodness Me! classroom at the corner of Gordon and Wellington St. in Guelph, join Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND to learn some of the underlying mechanisms of autoimmune diseases and the natural approaches for treatment. In this session, Dr. Laura M. Brown ND, will share her experience with research in Iceland’s geothermal psoriasis treatment centre and will address natural treatments options for those suffering with autoimmune diseases.

Register here.

picture from Medscape.com