Depression.

Depression is a common condition that according to the DSM iv can give rise to:

  1. Poor appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain.
  2. Insomnia or excessive sleeping habit.(hypersomnia)
  3. Physical hyperactivity or inactivity.
  4. Decreased interest or pleasure in  usual activities or decrease in sexual drive.
  5. Loss of energy. Fatigue.
  6. Feeling worthless–guilty and ashamed of being a loser.
  7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate.
  8. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

Studies:

An American Government study that was ran in the Washington Post stated “Antidepressants fail to cure the symptoms of major depression in half of all patients with depression, even if they get the best care. Antidepressants have serious side effects that include suicidal thoughts, weight gain and personality changes.”

Another study compared a group of people with depression who were divided into 4 groups. The first group was put on antidepressants alone. The second group had psychotherapy alone. The third group had to work out with exercise coaches twice a week. The forth group was the control group and they were put on a placebo alone. The study continued for a year. After the first month the group doing exercise had the best results by far, next came the placebo group, then the psychotherapy group and lastly the group on medication. The results stayed the same for the rest of the year. The results are a quite a shocker!

What is Depression:

Almost everyone has at some point in their lives experienced “the blues”. We all feel sad in the face of significant loss, whether that is the loss of a job, a loved one, or an adored animal companion. Watching the news or reading the newspaper on most days is enough to trigger  the blues. True depression is much more serious than a temporary disappointment or sorrow. People who are depressed can feel a profound and persistent sadness in the absence of an identifiable external cause. The symptoms extend beyond melancholy mood to sleep disruption and loss of appetite and energy. It affects the whole body, changing the way we think and behave, often damaging our physical health as well as our emotional state. It can leave us debilitated, unable to work, maintain relationships, or deal with other responsibilities. Although external factors play a role, depression and other mood disorders arise primarily from subtle imbalances in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Depression can strike all ages and races, both sexes and all socioeconomic groups. Twice as many women suffer from depression as men. Millions of depression cases are never diagnosed or treated. Untreated major depression can last for 6 months to a year, with recurrences becoming more frequent and severe. Major depression is the leading cause of disability in society and ranks just behind high blood pressure as the most common chronic condition doctors see. Every year many people commit suicide as a result of depression. The condition costs society a fortune.Depression is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed problems. Many doctors treat the obvious  symptoms of depression, such as poor appetite, insomnia, and headaches, but overlook the real problem. Left  untreated, depression can become more frequent and severe, leading to physical and emotional suffering, loss of job and relationships, and even to suicide.

Medical textbooks describe depression as a mood disorder, lasting at least 2 weeks, that produces exaggerated, inappropriate feelings of sadness, worthlessness, emptiness and dejection. To feel upset because of a job layoff, a broken marriage, a bankruptcy, or the loss of a loved one is a normal response to an unhappy event. Our feelings of sadness are proportional to our loss and this reactive depression goes away with time. Major depression often strikes for no apparent reason. It doesn’t seem to be caused by outside events. The black mood grows from within. This darkness can last for weeks, months, or even years, making it impossible for us to carry on our normal lives. Symptoms may include:

  • Profound, persistent sadness.
  • Profound, persistent irritability.
  • Unexplained crying.
  • Loss of self esteem.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, pessimism, worthlessness. guilt and emptiness.
  • Dwelling on past mistakes.
  • Changes in sleeping patterns.
  • Changes in eating habits.
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss.
  • Restlessness.
  • Unexplained headaches, stomach upset, or other physical problems that are not helped with standard treatment.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Loss of interest in sex.
  • Loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Memory difficulties.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • A slow down in in physical movements.
  • Fatigue.
  • Thoughts of suicide or death.
  • Suicide attempts.

The symptoms may come in any combination. Mildly depressed people may gain weight as they seek comfort in favorite foods, while those more profoundly depressed may lose weight as sadness deadens their appetites. Sleep patterns may also be affected this way. Some depressed people have difficulty falling or staying asleep, while others sleep more than usual and awaken feeling tired.

Causes of Depression:

We know that several neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) including dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin help regulate our moods and keep us happy. Depressed people tend to have lower levels of these three. Why do these mood regulators fall in some people, but not in others? Genetics plays a role. Depression tends to run in families. Men with chronic low cholesterol tend to depression. Many environmental toxins can trigger depression. People who are pessimistic, easily overwhelmed by life or have low self esteem are more likely to suffer from depression. Some people have large reserves of happy neurotransmittors in their brains that keep them safe while others  have just enough to barely keep a smile on their faces. Biochemistry plays a huge role in the condition. If you have large reserves of certain nutrients, you get through troubling times with minimal difficulties. Stress is linked to depression. Certain states of immunological signaling can lead to depression.

Prescription Medication:

Doctors and psychiatrists have numerous drugs at their disposal. I will name some of them and their common side effects:

Tricyclic antidepressants:headache, dry mouth, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, fatigue, weakness, drowsiness, nervousness, anxiety, excessive sweating, tremor, insomnia, weight gain, “sweet tooth”

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors(MAOIs): dizziness, restlessness, tremors, dry mouth, constipation,difficult urination, blurred vision, “sweet tooth”.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs):nausea, diarrhea, nervousness, anxiety, drowsiness, insomnia, headache, increased sweating, increased or decreased appetite, and decreased sexual drive.

Antidepressant medications, while helpful to some people, are not panaceas. Some studies have shown that drugs are of no value in about one third of depression cases while the above mentioned studies found this to be the case in half the people treated. When you have one problem, why complicate matters by taking toxic chemicals?

Nutrition and Depression:

Many factors can contribute to the development of depression. In some cases it is mainly biochemical and this should be checked via blood and or hair analysis. A person with MTHFR could be a prime candidate for nutrient deficiency caused depression. Check up on this as a possibility. Psychological issues may predispose another individual to depression. What triggers your tendency to depression ? Is it a stressful event, a bereavement, loss of a job or breakup of a relationship. Counselling is a way of investigating what the emotional triggers are.

Remember that alcohol dulls our inhibitions, but it is a depressant in the long run. Limit yourself to one drink a day if you use it as a relaxant. What is your daily intake of caffeine? There are many sources of caffeine commonly used eg coffee, tea, cool drinks, chocolate/cocoa and many over the counter medications. Poor nutrition is often a cause among the poor and elderly people. Different nutrients play a role in regulating mood. A deficiency in a few nutrients can cause depression. In a British double-blind study of hospitalized elderly patients, supplementation with a daily protein/micronutrient drink improved symptoms of depression.

Reactive Hypoglycemia:

There is a direct link between mood and blood sugar balance.The more uneven your blood sugar supply, the more your mood goes up and down. A high sugar intake has been implicated in aggression, problems concentrating, fatigue, anxiety and depression. The body often tries to raise blood sugar by increasing cortisol. Elevated cortisol can cause depression. Insulin resistance can contribute to neurotransmitter deficiencies leading to depression. People who eat a lot of bread and or other carbohydrates (pasta, rice, cakes, puddings) may have depression. Fructose and lactose malabsorption should be considered as a potential contributing factor in patients with depression. Malabsorbed sugars in the gut block tryptophan absorption in the gut, thereby decreasing serotonin synthesis.

Aspartame and/or Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) consumption have been reported to cause depression in individuals.

Candida:

A diagnosis of candidiasis should be considered in depressed patients who have had recurrent vaginal yeast infections or a history of treatment with antibiotics, oral contraceptives or systemic glucocorticoids.

Homocysteine:

Those with high levels of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid found in the blood, will have double the rate of depression present. This goes more for women than men. The ideal level is below 7. Homocysteine  levels indicate how good your body is at methylation, a critical  biochemical process in the brain and body. The nutrients that help normalise overmethylation and high homocysteine are B2, B6 (P5P form), B12 (methyl form), Folic Acid (methyl form), Zinc Picolinate, Magnesium Glycinate and TMG while undermethylators need other nutrients. Read my blog on methylation on this site for further information.

Allergies:

Ensure that food allergies are not the cause of depression. Environmental chemicals can also result in depression. Petrochemical byproducts can cause depression.

Natural Supplements that Fight Depression:

Scientific studies and clinical experience show that natural remedies and supplements can help alleviate depression. Do not try all of these at once. It is best to try one at a time and estimate how much it is working. In cases of extreme sadness or hopelessness seek help immediately. I usually test to see which of these are needed by the individual from the very outset. I have not given any doses because that is a totally individual matter. For example SAMe or Tryptophan may help some individuals or hinder healing. This is because  we are all biochemically different and it is risky to self medicate or try to work out dosages on your own after reading an article such as this. Dosage needs to be tailored to your needs and feedback should be carefully monitored.

  • SAMe-can be stimulating and should be used with caution in those with bipolar disorder, hyperactivity or schizophrenia.
  • L-Tryptophan .Do not conbine these with SSRI antidepressants. You could end up making too much serotonin.
  • 5-HTP
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folic Acid-the 5-MTHF form, not normal folic acid which is synthetic.
  • Vitamin B6
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Chromium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Thiamine-B1
  • Vitamin B3
  • D and DL-Phenylalanine
  • Inositol
  • Choline
  • L-Carnitine
  • NADH
  • Acetyl-L- Carnitine
  • Selenium
  • Lithium
  • L-Glutamine
  • Phosphatidyl Serine
  • DMAE
  • Hormones.Levels of thyroxine, Progesterone, Pregnenolone, Testosterone DHEA and melatonin need to be checked out. Bio identical hormones may be needed to raise lowered hormone levels.
  • Herbs: St Johns Wort, Bacopa Monniera, Damiana, Kava kava, Oat extract, Passion flower, Schisandra, Siberian ginseng, Skullcap, Valerian, Withania, Ginkgo Biloba, Rhodiola Rosea, Bach Flower Remedies.

 

Exercise:

Cardiovascular exercise, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, pilates can be very helpful. Spending time outdoors has been shown to dramatically improve people’s mood and significantly reduce symptoms of depression. Outdoor activities could be just about anything, from walking a nature trail to gardening or simply taking your exercise outdoors. Tai chi and Qi gong are traditionally practiced outdoors.

Meditation and Relaxation:

Calm and balance the stressed individual.

EFT / Tapping:

EFT is a powerful self help method based on research showing that emotional trauma contributes to mental disease. Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, the body can often rebalance itself and accelerate healing. EFT can detoxify emotional baggage and reprogram the way your body responds to emotional stressors. An EFT study involving 30 moderately to severely depressed college students was conducted. The depressed students were given four 90 minute EFT sessions. Students who received EFT showed significantly less depression than the control group when evaluated three weeks later. I prefer to combine EFT with journaling, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga exercises, CBT and NLP.

Bodywork:

Massage, shiatsu, acupuncture, kinesiology, reflexology, polarity, quantum touch, reiki and many other hands on body techniques help depression.

Sunlight and Sunbathing:

These have proven to be very helpful to some individuals.

Homeopathy:

An  approach which has different remedies for different kinds of individuals. Aurum metallicum is an example of one such remedy.

 

With so many natural healing approaches available, people have many avenues open to them when dealing with depression. In my experience drug treatments are rarely needed if natural healing methods are used properly. Trust and patience make all the difference to the outcomes of the treatments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aging.

 

The quality of our lives is what is most important. We all want that inner glow that shows health of body, mind and spirit. Grey hair and wrinkles can be a crown of maturity demonstrating that lifes’ hardships have been endured. They do not necessarily indicate poor health.There is a lot you can do to slow the effects of aging on your body.

Continue reading Aging.

Acidity. Acid Reflux. Heartburn. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).Natural Remedies

Heartburn. Acid Reflux. GERD. Indigestion.

This blog covers the above problems in the following order:

What it is.

Symptoms.

Diagnosis.

Causes: Overeating rich food, alcohol, cool drinks/sodas, smoking, trigger foods, lying down after meals, obesity, grains/carbs, pregnancy and the pill, gallbladder problems, tight clothes around the waist, exercise soon after eating, eating close to bedtime, stress, constipation, heavy metals, hurried meals, eating unripe fruit, food intolerance, H Pylori, hydrochloric acid deficiency while advertising is telling you the opposite, aluminium pots/utensils and medications, NSAIDS/aspirin, hiatus hernia, bad food combining and spices.

Conventional Medicine/Drug approach. Side effects.

Natural Treatment.

What it is:

Most people experience heartburn/acid reflux from time to time. Heartburn is the painful price you pay for having a love affair with food that does’nt love you back or from eating in a hurry when under stress. It is common in our modern world. When heartburn is ongoing and occurs more than twice a week, it is labeled GERD.

Heartburn and GERD refer to the back-up of stomach acid into the oesophagus accompanied by burning and pain. Frequent heartburn can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Chronic  GERD accompanied by continued inflammation in the oesophagus can lead to more serious complications, such as bleeding, ulcers, scarring and cellular changes. Ulcers and bleeding in the oesophagus can make it hard to swallow. The worst case scenario is the condition  called Barrett’s oesophagus which may  lead to oesophageal cancer. Although this was a rare cancer, it is currently one of the most rapidly increasing cancers there is. I think this is linked to the enormous amount of people using GERD medication at present.  If it is apparent that you are at risk of Barrett’s oesophagus, your doctor or a specialist can examine the state of your oesophagus through a narrow tube called an endoscope.

GERD is caused when the sphincter (ring of muscle at the lower end of the throat or oesophagus called the LES) becomes abnormally relaxed, allowing the acidic contents of the stomach to flow back or ‘reflux’ into the throat. The sphincter muscle should pinch itself shut, preventing stomach acid from surging upwards. GERD can happen to anyone, at any age. It can scar the oesophagus and can even make its way into the lungs and cause asthma-like symptoms.

Symptoms:

  • Heartburn 101: A burning sensation and pain in the stomach and / or chest behind the breastbone within an hour or two after eating.(The pain of stomach or duodenal ulcers tends to increase on an empty stomach and is often relieved by eating). It can be a burning or tightening sensation. Bending over or lying down can make it feel worse. Although heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, some of the symptoms are similar to those of a heart attack and often puts people in the emergency room after the Christmas feast for example. Heartburn once or twice a week is common and not dangerous. It is very common in pregnant women.According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month.  You may be able to manage your heartburn by reducing stress and the speed at which you eat, losing weight, stopping smoking, eating less fried/fatty foods, avoiding spicy or acidic foods, cutting out sodas and carbonated sugary cool drinks and using a natural antacid like bicarbonate  of soda or baking soda.  If you need antacids daily, then something is not right! Has the pattern of your heartburn changed? Do you wake up at night with heartburn? Has your heartburn led to difficulty swallowing (feeling as if there is a lump in your throat), hoarseness, laryngitis, cough, sinus, earache, bad breath or breathing difficulty? If over the counter meds and natural remedies do not work,then it is time to see a practicioner. because you may have chronic ongoing heartburn or GERD that can eventually lead to more serious problems.
  • Regurgitation. The acid reflux may reach the throat and mouth causing a bitter or sour taste  and may even cause dental problems.
  • Occasionally breathing difficulties  like dry cough, sore throat, sinus and asthma occur.
  • Hoarseness due to irritation of the larynx.
  • Belching/burping, nausea and hiccups
  • Bloating.

Diagnosis: 

In patients with symptoms that suggest uncomplicated GERD (heartburn and/or regurgitation often occuring after meals and aggravated by lying down or bending over, with relief obtained from antacids), the recommended course of action is treatment for GERD with a trial of acid-suppression chemicals or natural remedies.

Self-assessments can be useful in diagnosing uncomplicated GERD. The GERD questionnaire (GerdQ) is a simple, easily interpreted six question assessment of GERD symptom frequency. It is easily googled. In one study of 300 patients, GerdQ gave results similar to the diagnostic accuracy achieved by gastroenterologists.  Further diagnostic testing is only recommended if the patient does not respond to acid-suppression therapy or natural methods of controlling GERD. Tests for GERD may include:

Barium oesophagram. It is not accurate at diagnosing mild reflux.

Upper GI Endoscopy

Oesophageal pH monitoring. This is the most objective method to document reflux conditions and how severe they are and moniter response to treatment.

I would also check for food allergies which can increase the incidence of eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) and its symptoms which resemble GERD. Also check for hiatus hernia,  H. pylori infection,  hypochlorhydria, peptic stricture, barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal cancer if necessary.

Causes:

  •  Usually triggered by over eating large or rich meals with a high  fat content. The reflux tendency increases when the stomach is over-full, leading to increased pressure.
  • Drinking alcohol. Red wine,white wine and beer are the worst.
  • Fizzy(carbonated), sugar laden cool drinks/sodas.
  • Smoking irritates the oesophagus and weakens the LES-lower oesophagus sphincter.
  • Certain trigger foods include chocolate, citrus fruits, fried foods, peppermint (which in the right dose can help and in excessive amounts can cause the problem ), spicy foods, onions, tomatoes and caffeine eg in coffee.
  • Physical position can cause reflux symptoms. Lying down after medium to heavy meals.  Bending forward and lifting heavy objects after eating can cause reflux.
  • Obesity also increases pressure on the stomach, causing the contents of the stomach to travel up into the throat more easily.
  • Eating grains also causes pressure on the diaphragm  because of fermentation in the intestines and promotes reflux tendency. Very often low stomach acid + bacterial overgrowth + maldigested carbohydrate contribute to the perfect storm of GERD.
  • The same thing happens during pregnancy. Pressure is exerted on the stomach because there is less and less room for the stomach to expand.  In addition, estrogens can weaken the oesophageal muscle. Women who are pregnant or those taking birth control pills are more prone to heartburn.
  • Gallbladder problems.
  • Wearing tight clothes around the waist during the day or in bed.
  • Exercise too soon after eating.
  • Eating too close to bedtime. Eat 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  • Stress and tension + lack of sleep can increase acid production. When stressed, adrenaline and cortesol slow the digestion and also make you more likely to swallow air while eating. Deal with stress, meditate, relax, do deep slow breathing or have a massage, body stress release, chiropractic, shiatsu or other relaxing treatment. Thoracic spinal alignment problems alter nerve and blood supply to the digestive organs.
  • Constipation.
  • Heavy metal poisoning.
  • Eating in a hurry or not chewing enough.
  • Drinking with meals dilutes digestive juices and can promote heartburn and indigestion.
  • Eating unripe fruit can cause heartburn.
  • Allergies or intolerance to foods like gluten or dairy products.
  • H.Pylori and Hydrochloric Acid: More than 50% of the world population is infected with H.pylori. Prevalence of the infection goes up 1% with every year of life. Approximately 80% of 80 year olds are infected with H.pylori.This bacteria suppresses stomach acid secretion. That is the only way it can survive in an otherwise hostile acidic environment. It can survive without causing symptoms. Treatment with antibiotics increases stomach acidity and is a help. I would prefer to treat it with natural remedies of course. Recent studies suggest that the secretion of stomach acid doesn’t decrease with age and that the trend is actually to increase, especially in men. Along comes H.pylori and it reverses the increase in stomach acids because it decreases acid production for its survival. Acid suppressing drugs increase gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) and reduce acidity thereby making the stomach susceptible to H.pylori invasion. This triggers the vicious cycle of low stomach acid>> heartburn>> acid suppressing drugs>> H.pylori infection>> further reduced stomach acidity>> chronic heartburn and GERD.  H.pylori infection is associated with the ever increasing risk of stomach cancer. Poorly absorbed grains and pulses produce hydrogen gas in the intestines. This gas is the preferred energy source for H.pylori. These high levels of gas are also associated with other nasty bugs like Salmonella, E. coli and Campylobacter jejuni which cause diarrhoea. Excessive fructose+ fiber and starch found in grains like wheat and pulses increase hydrogen production, H.pylori and other bad bacteria thereby increasing heartburn,  GERD and many other problems. It makes sense to minimize sugar, fructose, grains and pulses.
  • Deficiency in hydrochloric acid or enzyme deficiencies as explained by Dr Wright et al:  The symptom of both excess and deficient stomach acid can be heartburn.Dr Jonathan Wright  states in his book “Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You” that heartburn and GERD are almost always caused by a lack of stomach acid, rather than an overproduction of it. Dr Wright says : When we carefully test people over age forty who’re having heartburn, indigestion and gas, over 90% of the time we find inadequate acid production by the stomach. In Wright’s 25 years of conducting these tests, he found very few people with excess stomach acid. Excess stomach acid is only found in a few rare  conditions like Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. GERD is hardly ever associated with too much stomach acid. Wright further states: In 24 years of nutritionally oriented practice, I’ve worked with thousands of individuals who’ve found the cause of their heartburn and indigestion to be low stomach acidity. In nearly all these folks, symptoms have been relieved and digestion improved when they’ve taken supplemental hydrochloric acid and pepsin capsules. Having read this years ago, i adopted the same approach to patients with GERD and had  complete success using supplements of HCL/pepsin plus a no grain, low sugar/fructose diet. In the book Heartburn Cured, Dr. Robillard points out that though microbes are able to metabolize proteins and even fats, their preferred energy source is carbohydrate. The fermentation of carbohydrates that  haven’t been digested properly produces gas. The resulting gas increases intra-abdominal pressure, which is the driving force behind acid reflux and GERD. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies are not interested in cures because they are not profitable. It is more lucrative to sell drugs that people have to take for the rest of their lives than it is to promote dietary and supplemental changes that would cure the problem. Therefore drug companies, knowing the truth, continue to sell billions of dollars worth of antacids to an unsuspecting public. Helicobacter pylori (which used to be called campylobacter) can also cause a chronic low-level inflammation of the stomach lining and is a big factor contributing to acid reflux. There are over 16,000 articles showing that suppressing stomach acid does not treat the problem. It only treats the symptoms. When you suppress the amount of acid in your stomach, you decrease your body’s ability to kill the helicobacter bacteria.  That makes the condition worse and perpetuates the cycle. Some studies show acid secretion declines with age while others show the opposite. In my opinion there is also the impact of sugars, poisons in our drinking and cooking water, aluminium kitchen utensils,  mental/emotional stress,  GMO foods, pesticides, fertilizers ( ie non organically grown food) upsetting/stomach acids and destroying bowel flora that is resulting in general malnourishment and indigestion. It is well established in medical literature that the risk of GERD increases with age. If heartburn were caused by too much stomach acid, we would see teenagers taking antacids instead of older people.  Ask the man in the street what causes heartburn and the answer given will be  “too much stomach acid”.  Most adverts on TV and in magazines tell us that our stomach acid needs suppressing.  There’s a problem with this theory. The incidence of heartburn and GERD increases with age. In fact if we were healthy, our digestive acids would be going up with age. This would keep heartburn and bad bacteria at bay. A combination of factors mentioned in this blog contribute to eosophageal reflux and that causes the burning sensation whether there is too much gut acidity or not. Advertising vastly oversimplifies a complex problem.  In one study researchers found that over 30% of men and women past the age of 60 suffer from atrophic gastritis, a condition marked by little or no stomach acid secretion. Another study found that 40% of women over the age of 80 produce no stomach acid at all. When i explain this to people, they ask “why do my antacid drugs provide relief?”  Reducing or eliminating stomach acid with drugs does relieve the symptoms, but it is crucial to understand that any amount of acid in the oesophagus is going to cause problems.  The delicate lining is not protected against acid like the stomach lining is. You do not have to have excess acid in your stomach to have heartburn. Symptom relief does not imply that the underlying cause of the problem is being addressed. Western medicine focuses on suppression of symptoms without paying attention to what is causing the symptom in the first place. The misguidedness of this approach is clearly shown by the use of acid inhibiting drugs to treat heartburn and GERD. Both of these problems can caused by multiple factors. Not only do these drugs fail to cure  GERD, but they will make the underlying condition of low stomach hydrochloric acid and pepsin worse. This leads to a lifelong use of these medications. This is good for the drug companies and bad for the public. Curing a disease means eliminating its true cause. When cured the symptoms of a disease do not return once the treatment is removed. This is not the case for the majority of drugs. As soon as the patient stops taking them, the symptoms return with a vengence.  Often they end up worse than before  they began the drug. Cures are not profitable. It’s much more lucrative to sell drugs that people have to take for the rest of their lives than it is to promote dietary and or lifestyle changes that would cure the problem.
  • Aluminium pots or cooking utensils/materials. I personally suffered from heartburn all my life until i did away with all aluminium (pots, aluminium foil, non stick pots and the like) in the kitchen. Also avoid juices that have been packaged in cartons with aluminium and plastic linings or wines in similar cartons.
  • People with illnesses like cancer often have excessive acid in their systems and too little stomach acid. It should be the other way around.
  • Those who eat lots of cooked and processed foods often suffer from dyspepsia.
  • NSAIDS like aspirin and ibuprofen can cause heartburn. Blood pressure medication also irritates the gut lining.
  • People with hiatus hernia often experience heartburn. The condition involves part of the stomach protruding through the diaphragm and gets trapped in the oesophagus. One study showed that 57% of heartburn sufferers had hiatus hernias, while almost half had damage to the esophageal lining. People with hiatal hernia can have reflux of partially digested food along with stomach acid and other fluids.The pain can be intense.
  • Bad food combining can lead to indigestion or heartburn. Eating fruits with protein and carbohydrates with protein  can lead to digestive problems.
  • Raw spices are a lot easier to digest than cooked spices. A good example is cayenne pepper. Cooked cayenne can cause heartburn and stomach ulcers, while raw cayenne can actually heal ulcers.

Conventional Medicine

Drug companies in America make more than $13 billion a year selling acid suppressing medications. Nexium, the most popular acid stopping medication brought in $5.1 billion in 2006 alone. That makes it the second highest money earning drug after Lipitor.The last thing they want is for doctors and their patients to learn how to treat heartburn  and GERD without drugs. Most medical research is sponsored by drug companies. They will not reveal that the problems can be  prevented and solved by diet, lifestyle and natural remedies.

Antacids: They neutralize excess stomach acid for a short period of time. Side effects: possible rebound acid,meaning the stomach produces more acid when the  treatment is discontinued.Antacids reduce the absorption of B vitamins and minerals.

Histamine-2  Receptor Antagonists. Block the receptor for histamine in the stomach  to reduce the secretion of acid. Side effects with long term use:  headache, muscle aches, rashes, mental disorientation and bone degeneration.

Proton Pump Inhibitors: If you have heartburn, acid reflux or GERD, peptic ulcers or other acid related problem, you have probably been given a prescription for a proton pump inhibitor , like Prilosec, Prevacid, or Nexium. They are the most prescribed drugs in the world. They are very dangerous. When or if you stop taking them, they cause the very symptoms that they are supposed to stop (rebound acid hypersecretion ). Studies show that up to a third of people taking PPIs continue to refill their prescriptions without an apparent need for them. This is because they have severe withdrawl symptoms when they stop taking the drug and presume that they need more of the drug to get by. This illustrates a vicious cycle of tolerance and dependency on these drugs. Hence the increasing sales of these drugs. Acid-reducing drugs are the opposite of what most people with acid reflux need. You should never stop taking proton pump inhibitors cold turkey. You have to wean yourself off them gradually or else you’ll experience a severe rebound of your symptoms and the problem may end up being worse than before you started taking the medication. Ideally, you lower the dose than you’re on now and gradually decrease your dose. Once you get down to the lowest dose of the proton pump inhibitor, you can start substituting with an over the counter H2 antagonist or natural remedy. Then gradually wean off those over the next several weeks.

Side Effects:

 

Stomach acid does not exist just to punish you for eating Indian food or drinking wine. Acid is in the stomach because it is supposed to be there. It is found in all vertebrates. While it isn’t necessary for life,it is certainly needed for health. There is great misunderstanding about the role of stomach acid. This is because drug companies insist that stomach acid is not essential. Therefore millions of people take acid suppressing drugs without understanding the causes of heartburn and GERD and the risk of serious, life threatening conditions that comes with PPI’s.

There are four primary consequences of acid stopping drugs:

1. Increased bad bacterial overgrowth. eg. Salmonella, Campylobacter, Cholera, Listeria, Giardia, C. Difficile. This can occur in the stomach and other parts of the intestine. Bacterial overgrowth leads to poor digestion of carbohydrates, gas, pressure on the lower oesophageal sphincter, heartburn and GERD. Some researchers now believe that Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is caused by bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (SIBO). In 2002, a study performed in Los Angeles found that 71% of GERD patients tested positive for IBS- double the percentage seen in non-GERD patients being examined. I feel that acid suppressing drugs are not only causing chronic stomach and oesophageal problems, but IBS and other digestive ailments as well. H.pylori and bacterial overgrowth in the intestines appear to be related. Bacterial overgrowth causes maldigestion of carbohydrates, which in turn produces gas. The gas increases pressure in the stomach, causing the LES to malfunction, allowing acid from the stomach to enter the oesophagus producing heartburn and GERD.

2.Bacterial overgrowth has a number of effects including impaired nutrient absorption. And as acid declines, absorption of nutrients becomes impaired.Acid-suppression therapies can interfere with the absorption of nutrients that require stomach acid for proper digestion, such as iron, zinc(needed for immune defence,tissue growth and lots more), calcium(needed for bones, teeth and many other functions),  magnesium and vitamins A, E,  B2, B6, B12(needed for nerve activity+brain function) and folic acid(needed to protect cardiovascular system and prevent birth defects). In one study, the incidence of iron deficiency anemia secondary to chronic PPI usage has increased up to five-fold. This iron deficiency leaves the body’s tissues starving for oxygen. Elevated homocysteine ( a risk factor for cardiovascular disease) has been associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Chronic high dose PPI or H2 blocker usage can more than double the risk of potentially deadly hip fracture  by impairing calcium absorption and bone metabolism. Impaired calcium absorption can  disrupt calcium balance and contribute to cardiac conduction problems.The risk of a bone fracture has been estimated to be over 40% higher in patients who use these drugs long term. Homocysteine levels should be assessed as well, because lowered absorption of vitamin B2,  B6, B12 and folic acid can increase homocysteine levels and no one needs that to happen to them. There is a 60% increase in heart attacks in people who use proton pump inhibitors. The above facts are the reason why these drugs are only approved for short term use. The rebound/withdrawl symptoms account for people staying on them.

3. Decreased resistance to most infections. eg. pneumonia, tuberculosis, typhoid, dysentery, candida. One of the roles of stomach acid is to provide defense against ingested pathogens. Therefore, reductions in stomach acid due to PPI usage can lower resistance 4 fold to intestinal infections from Salmonella, Campylobacter and Clostridium difficile. Probiotics may prove a useful adjunct to PPI therapy.

4.Increased risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Long term use of acid suppression drugs may also be a risk factor for food allergies. In one study, more than 27% of GERD patients tested positive for food allergies. Avoiding allergenic foods resulted in significant improvement of GERD  symptoms. Additionally, if you fail to digest and absorb your food properly, you will not only increase your risk of stomach atrophy but also nearly every other chronic degenerative disease.

  • Problems associated with low stomach acid:
  • The following conditions are associated with very low stomach acid:
  • Stomach cancer.
  • Allergies
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Depression, anxiety, mood disorders
  • Pernicious anaemia
  • Skin diseases including acne, dermatitis, eczema and urticaria
  • Gall bladder disease and gallstones
  • Autoimmune diseases, such Rheumatoid arthritis, and Graves disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome(IBS), Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Type 1 diabetes

Another major problem with PPI drugs is that they are often taken for much longer periods than recommended, which could compound their potential for causing side effects. PPI’s are approved for use for 14 days at a time, no more than three times yearly, but many patients take these drugs semi-permanently.

Further considerations:

Oestrogens can weaken the oesophageal hiatus muscle which keeps stomach acids in the stomach. Women who are pregnant and women who take birth control pills that contain oestrogen and progesterone are therefore more likely to suffer from heartburn.

People who have chronic diseases like cancer often have very acidic systems plus inadequate gastric acid. This can lead to heartburn.

Many over the counter antacids contain aluminium salts. Avoid these, as they can damage the brain and mess up memory and nerve transmission.

According to the Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, excessive use (more than 3 grams a day ) of the stomach acid suppressant medication cimetidine may cause impotence or breast enlargement in men as well as damage to the stomach lining + an increase in the risk of benign or malignant tumors.

One study showed that 57% of heartburn sufferers had hiatal hernias, while almost half had damage to the oesophageal lining and 6% had developed Bartletts oesophagus, which is a cancer risk.

If you are taking any medications, ask your doctor if heartburn may be a side effect of the drugs.

Natural Treatment of heartburn and GERD:

Heartburn and GERD are not caused by too much stomach acid. They are usually caused by too little stomach acid and bacterial overgrowth in the stomach and intestines.

Before I give you a long list of natural remedies for the conditions, here is the basic strategy that is going to be generally used. Firstly reduce the factors that promote bacterial overgrowth and low stomach acid. Secondly replace stomach acid. Also supply the necessary nutrients and enzymes as supplements that aid digestion and are necessary for health.Third step is to replace and restore the beneficial bowel bacteria or flora. Forth task is to heal the mucosal lining of the gut. I help my patients decide which of these strategies each individual needs based on the tests that I carry out. I will list way more healing strategies here than any one person will need. What works for one person may not work for another. For example a small glass of red wine before a meal may relax one person and improve their digestion, while it may make another person worse or even cause heartburn in their bodies.

Heartburn:

Symptoms: A burning sensation in the stomach and/or the chest that occurs when hydrochloric acid from the stomach backs up into the oesophagus.

Causes: Stress,  excessive consumption of spicy, rich, fatty or fried foods, alcohol, coffee, citrus, chocolate, hiatus hernia, ulcers, gallbladder problems, allergies and enzyme deficiency.Yeast overgrowth from antibiotic usage, overeating and poor food combinations (Fruit should not be eaten after eating proteins or grains. Proteins should not be eaten with carbs.Protein is best with raw and cooked veg. Smoking can also cause heartburn.

Foods:Avoid onions, chocolate, citrus fruits, coffee, alcohol, spicy foods, fried foods, tomato sauce,cool drinks/sodas, grains/flour products, milk, cheese and puddings.

  • First put out the fire. Immediate relief can come from neutralizing the trapped stomach acids in the oesophagus. This can be done with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in luke warm water when there is actual heartburn. The best time to use bicarb is up to half an hour before a meal and 2 hours after a meal. Taking it with or soon after a meal is not good for digestive secretions of the stomach and food nutrients will not be well absorbed. If you have raging heartburn right after a meal, then it is called for. Other ways of trying to put out the fire of inflammation are green drinks made from barley or wheat grass.
  • Chlorophyl is particularly healing for inflamed areas.
  • Aloe vera gel or juice in its pure state will also put out the fire and heal ulceration. This is the soothing healing part of the aloe. Do not confuse this with the laxative aloe bitters. Many commercial aloe drinks are full of sugar and artificial additives.
  • Calcium carbonate, chelate or glycinate can neutralize gastric acid and promote muscle tone.
  • Magnesium oxide,chelate or glycinate will do the same as calcium plus it functions as an antispasmodic in the gut area.
  • Sodium Alginate derived from seaweed forms as viscous gel that floats on top of the gastric contents like a raft and physically inhibits the reflux of gastric contents. It works better than an antacid.
  • Lukewarm water plus apple cider vinegar and/or lemon juice also counteracts heartburn. It can be taken several times a day.
  • Herbs will get rid of acidity and speed up the healing process:
  • Meadowsweet tea settles the stomach and reduces excess acidity.
  • Chamomile tea is anti spasmodic and anti inflammatory and calming to the digestive tract.
  • Digestive demulcents protect irritated or inflamed tissue,eg  Comfrey root, flaxseed, chia seed, irish moss, licorice root (if you have high blood pressure,use the DGL form of licorice which does not affect high blood pressure), marshmallow root, slippery elm bark, mullein leaf or flowers are all good for ulcerated tissue in the stomach region.
  • Glycyrrhizinic acid in licorice root is anti inflammatory, anti allergic, anti gastric ulcer, antihepatitis and antihepatotoxic. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL is a beneficial product for heartburn and GERD with no known side effects. DGL protects the digestive tract from corrosive stomach acids. It leads to an improved stomach environment. A double blind study on ulcer patients demonstrated a statistically significent reduction in ulcers. DGL accelerates healing of the stomach, oesophagus and mucous membranes. For reflux and support of the lining of the stomach, chew two 380mg tablets 3-4 times daily between or before meals. Since my blood pressure is low, I use normal licorice extract in a liquid concentrate. This is good for both adrenals and thyroid and has a host of other benefits.
  • A quarter teaspoon of goldenseal tincture or extract in 3 tablespoons of water can give relief in 15 minutes. It acts as an antibacterial + astringent + tonic for the mucous membranes lining the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Betaine Hydrochloride.
  • Astaxanthin.
  • Chutneys.
  • Fermented Vegetables.
  • Folate and other B vitamins.
  • Vitamin D.
  • Kefir / sour cream / Yogurt.
  • Fresh juice made from carrots, pineapple, cabbage, papaya and apples heal and soothe after a bout of heartburn. The enzyme rich juices containing papain, bromelain.
  • L glutamine and pectin taken on an empty stomach heal stomach, intestines and colon. I think of it as the carpenter of the bowels and is helpful fixing leaky gut and ulcers. Cabbage juice is an old remedy for gastric ulcers and it is rich in L glutamine.
  • A 24 hour fast helps to cleanse acid wastes and rests and heals the oesophagus and digestive tract. Bicarbonate of soda may be drank during the solid food fast. Green drinks, herb teas, and clear vegetable broth may be drank during the fast.
  • Ginger root juice,chunks, tea or powder absorbs excess stomach acid. Ginger has been found to have a gastro protective effect by blocking acid and suppressing helicobacter pylori. According to a 2007 study, it is far superior to lansoprazole for preventing the formation of ulcers, exhibiting six to eight fold greater potency over the drug. This is not surprising since the root has been traditionally used for gastric disturbances since ancient times.

 

Age Spots. Natural Remedies

 

AGE SPOTS

 

Age Spots:

Large brown splotches usually on the face and hands are the result of sun damage. They can appear anywhere on the body as it ages. They are also called liver spots. They are harmless, but can be a sign of more serious problems. They are the result of a buildup of wastes known as lipofuscin accumulation, a by product of free radical damage in skin cells, brain and liver cells. They are indicative of free radical intoxication of the body and may affect many internal structures as well .

Melanin, Age-Related Skin Discoloration, And Pigment-Fading Compounds

  • Melanin is the skin’s color-providing pigment that offers protection against damaging UV rays.
  • As we age, melanin-producing melanocytes become victim to chronic sun exposure, inflammation, free radicals, and hormonal changes.
  • These factors increase activation of a key enzyme called tyrosinase. This leads to the overproduction of melanin, which causes its uneven distribution in the epidermis.
  • The outward appearance of hyperpigmentation soon follows, typically as age spots, freckles, and melasma.
  • As safety concerns mount for the traditional therapy hydroquinone, scientists have zeroed in on three safer alternatives.
  • Alpha-arbutin increased skin lightness 60% over hydroquinone and 25% over kojic acid in human volunteers in one month.
  • Phyllanthus emblica extract deactivates tyrosinase to enhance skin lightness and reduce the appearance of freckles.
  • Niacinamide blocks melanin transfer to the outer layers of the skin, which has been shown to decrease facial hyperpigmentation and improve melasma.
  • Marked changes in the skin’s primary pigment melanin results in undesirable hyperpigmentation that can add years to your perceived age. Fortunately, a topical cream has been formulated with the three natural compounds that show comparable skin lightening effects to hydroquinone without the serious side effects. Three ingredients, alpha-arbutin, Phyllanthus emblica extract, and niacinamide, beneficially modulate melanin synthesis and transfer to reduce the visual appearance of age spots, freckles, and melasma. This translates into more even-toned, radiant, younger-looking skin.

Other Causes:

Poor diet,  smoking, alcohol consumption, poor liver function, lack of exercise, oxidized seed oil consumption and excess sun exposure all contribute to their formation.

External treatment :

Aloe-break off one of the leaves and apply the juicy gel to the age spots twice a day.  Also apply vitamin E oil after sun bathing. Bulbinella can be used in the same way.

Buttermilk. Coat a cotton ball with buttermilk and dab it on the age spots morning and night daily .

Yogurt and honey. Together they make a natural bleach. Blend one part yogurt and one part honey. Apply with fingertips. Let it dry thoroughly and remove .

The formation of lipofuscin is associated with a deficiency of a number of important nutrients, including, including vitamin E, selenium, glutathione, chromium, and dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE).

Internal treatment :

Zinc-80 mg daily

Anti oxidant formula

B complex .

Vitamin C complex with bioflavanoids

Probiotics .Vitamin E .

Calcium and magnesium .

Vitamin D3

Pantethine

Grape seed extract .

L-carnitine .

Carnosine.

Burdock ,milk thistle , and red clover all clean the bloodstream. Ginseng and licorice, and green tea.

Ginkgo-antioxidant .

Emu oil-external .

Food : eat lots of raw food, nuts and seeds.  No animal protein for one month, no caffeine, fried foods, saturated fats, red meat, processed foods, sugar and tobacco,

Do a liver detox :use lemon juice, black radish,  carrot and beetroot juice, dandelion root and distilled water.

Limit sun exposure .

 

 

Acne. Natural Remedies

ACNE

 

An eruption of spots on the skin ,caused by overactivity of the sebaceous glands .Usually found on the face , neck,shoulders and back .

Causes:

-Acne is most common at puberty due to increased levels of the male sex hormone testosterone . Although men have higher levels of testosterone than women , during puberty there is an increase of testosterone in both sexes , making girls in this age group just as susceptible to acne .Testosterone causes the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum .

-Stress.When you are under stress,your body releases high levels of hormones to help you handle the situation.One of these hormones is cortisol , which triggers the pancreas to pump glucose into the bloodstream.Cortisol aggravates the sebaceous glands under the skin , which , in turn produce excess sebum,an oily substance designated to lubricate the skin.

-Congestion of the liver.It may even be caused by falling in love ! The strong emotion brings on a natural cleansing process of the liver.

-In young girls it may be accompanied by delayed menstruation , resulting from hormone imbalance .

-Another cause can be makeup clogging the skins breathing ability and causing allergic reactions.

-Bacteria ,corticosteroids , lithium carbonate , coal tar derivatives  ,iodine , over-washing and repetitive rubbing can cause acne .

Dietary factors:  avoid carbohydrates and or sugars-acne patients’ skin glucose tolerance is significantly impaired-acne may be called “skin diabetes “.Insulin resistance must be treated by chromium supplementation and cutting out carbs and sugars.Eliminate transfatty acids-cooked fats and oils and high fat foods .

Treatment:

Avoid the sun .Overexposure to the sun can worsen acne .

Use non allergic cosmetics sparingly .

-External: tea tree oil can be as effective as benzoyl peroxide.Dab the essential oil onto the trouble spots 3 times a day.Use comfrey or calendula soap for washing the face .Alpha Lipoic Acid cream helps repair facial skin as does ester C cream.

Add a few drops of  the following essential oils to hot water for a  facial steam:bergamot,chamomile,lavender , petigrain ,geranium or lemongrass .These may also be well diluted in a vegetable-oil base to massage into the skin .

Internal:

Agnus castus or chasteberry capsules or tea regulates hormones.2 cups of the tea is enough.Herbalists have been using this herb to regulate hormones for centuries.If your skin erupts in unsightly bumps when you are having your period or you notice acne like changes in your skin during menopause ,try sipping 1-2 cups of the tea a day .

Vitamin B6- helpful for women with premenstrual acne due to effect on steroid hormone metabolism .50-100 mg daily .

Pantothenic acid.2 –10 grams in divided doses with meals induces regression of lesions without side effects.

MSM.2000-3000mg daily detoxify skin .

Blood cleansing herbs can be taken 3 times a day between meals as tea , tincture or capsules for a few weeks.Burdock root ,cleavers ,Echinacea ,milk thistle ,yellow dock ,dandelion ,red clover are some examples of liver cleansing and blood cleansing herbs .

Either consult a  homeopath for constitional treatment or look the following up in a homeopathic materia medica,calc sulph,silicea,sulphur ,kali bromatum ,pulsatilla ,antimonium crudum ,arsenicum album ,psorinum or carbo veg .

Zinc-30mg two or three times a day .Reduces inflammation and aids healing .

Vitamin A: 10,000 to 30,000 iu three times per day

Chromium Picolinate:200 mcg with each meal

Vitamin E 400 iu per day with selenium 200 mcg per day.

Omega 3 oils: 3,000-6,000 mg per day divided over mealtimes.

Alpha Lipoic Acid capsules 200-500mg daily .

Drink plenty of water to help keep your skin from drying out.

Bowel detox and repopulation are necessary in some persistent cases .

I use colloidal silver and or the rife machine for bad infections  instead of anti biotics ./

Vitamin B complex-important for  healthy skin tone and is an anti stress nutrient for the nerves .

Chlorophyll-cleansing and prevents infections .

Vitamin C—reduces inflammation and promotes healing .

Vitamin D-promotes healing .

Abscess. Natural Remedies

NATURAL CURES FOR COMMON AILMENTS

 

 

                                                               ABSCESS

 

An abscess is formed when pus accumulates in a tissue, organ, or confined space in the body due to infection. Infections are the most common human disorders and can be produced by bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. A boil is an external abscess. The area may become swollen, inflamed, hot, red and tender. It may result in fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever and chills. The material inside it consists of living and dead white blood cells, dead tissue, bacteria and/or toxins, which need to be eliminated by the body. An acute abscess generally responds to treatment within a few days. A chronic abscess is more resistent, the damage is more widespread and takes longer to treat. As with acne, high blood sugar levels are usually present. Avoid sugars.

Treatment:

Go on a green juice fast for 1-3 days.

-Bromelain the enzyme from pineapples together with pancreatin the digestive enzyme both help clean the bloodstream. Take 3 of each three times a day away from food.

-Herbs that clean the bloodstream are: Echinacea, goldenseal, olive leaf, poke root ,chaparral, dandelion, milk thistle, burdock root, cayenne, red clover, yellow dock, chlorella and green juice.  Taken in tea or capsule form a few times a  day away from meals .

-Poultices made from lobelia and slippery elm bark or chickweed, marshmallow root and plantain are soothing and draw out toxins .

-Hydrogen peroxide 40% food grade – one teaspoon to a half cup of distilled water is a good mouthwash for dental abscess or can be administered into the ear for an ear abscess.

-Drinking lots of distilled water plus fresh lemon juice is a good way to alkalize the system .

-Tea tree oil applied externally is a natural antiseptic that will destroy bacteria and prevent infection from spreading .

-Consuming  lots of raw onions and garlic are a help in combating infection.

-Warm epsom salt  baths help .

-If an abscess opens and begins to drain ,keep the area clean using diluted hydrogen peroxide and or external compresses of chamomile and lavender essential oils.

-Zinc 30-90 mg per day helps fight infection .

-Vitamin C 5-20 grams helps fighting and healing .

-Vitamin E promotes healing.400iu daily

-Vitamin B Complex aids in healing .

-Vitamin A.50,000 iu daily for about a week .

-MSM.detoxifies the system.

-Colloidal silver helps fight infection .

Homeopathy: Apis 6. Belladonna 6. Calc Sulph6. Hepar Sulph6. Silica 6. See which of these best fit your symptoms. Take 3 times a day or every hour if needed.