Tonic. Homeostatic modulator. These terms and concepts, which have a long tradition in herbal medicine (and let’s be clear, were considered yet another example of the wishy-washiness of the modality) are being appropriated by some areas of mainstream medicine right now. Cheer up ‘leaky gut’, you’re no longer alone! And arguably misappropriated by the public’s very ‘lay’ interpretation of the science on medicinal cannabis and its subsequent elevation to panacea, of late.
“So many of my patients are telling me they’re taking Cannabis now, just as a tonic”, says yet another practitioner to me recently, “No, not for pain, they’re young and fit but they take it because it’s a homeostatic regulator!!”
The capacity to maintain homeostasis, and particularly in the face of adversity or imbalance, is a sign of the vitality of the individual, according to what I remember from naturopathic philosophy (and have truly taken on and observed firsthand)…so just back up there a tad and explain to me how this one herb proposes to do this for everyone on a one-size-fits-all-fashion? As confessed in an earlier communication, I am a cannabis convert. But only in the sense of appreciating the niche areas where it is likely to offer true therapeutic benefits. I still have the words of warning from the brilliant Professor Michael Lintzeris, the Director of the Drug & Alcohol Services, South East Sydney Local Health District; Conjoint Professor, Division of Addiction Medicine etc., ringing in my ears, pleading with health practitioners to not ‘fall’ for cannabis in the way we have previously ‘fallen’ (so far and landed so badly) for the panaceas of the past: opiates and benzodiazepines. Most notable major omission for me, in an otherwise rigorous scientific debate of late, is any discussion about its potential for impacting fertility.
I’ve been aware of the potential negative effect on male fertility, in particular, for over a decade and while we undoubtedly need more targeted research on this topic to reach a consensus, the evidence base to date points to lower LH +/- testosterone and impaired sperm quality and motility. Certainly not perhaps what tonic-seeking patients know they’re signing up for.
There is in fact evidence to suggest ‘sperm under the influence’…’lose their way’ and are less effective at finding and fertilising the egg. Sorry but the image always makes me chuckle…stoned sperm. ‘Hey, dude where’s my egg?!’ style. But it’s not funny when impaired fertility is a problem affecting so many these days, and we still are guilty of over-focusing on ‘her’ and under-assessing ‘him’…and lo and behold it could be his chronic cannabis use to blame. We had a case recently, years of unprotected sex, daily cannabis, no baby, no dots connected. We may think this is a handy incidental contraceptive for young men sitting on couches with cones (one mum recently said as much to me) but for the rest…?
Getting Men’s Hormones Right
As practitioners we should know as much about investigating and treating male hormone imbalances as we do female ones, yet this is often not the case. While we are increasingly aware of everyone’s exposure to lifestyle & environmental endocrine disruptors and the fragility of the HPO axis, we sometimes fail to recognise that the reproductive health of our male patients is equally under threat. This is clearly demonstrated by generally diminishing levels of testosterone amongst men and increasingly early onset of andropause. These issues then become barriers to achieving success in other health areas with your clients, mood, metabolism, fertility and beyond. Learn more here
I’d love to continue this conversation with you…
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My current count is about 13. Lucky for some? Patient advocate, referral point, primary prescribing practitioner, behavioural change motivator, wise business counsel, good empathetic listener, fearless myth buster, researcher, head chef to a group of nats…that’s the toughest hat right there, right?! 🤣
While there is a concern in naturopathy and integrative health that we increase our own load due to our eclecticism – I see this as a strength & part of the appeal.
But it does warrant regular review.
I semi-regularly cry-out, “I just want a normal job, you know 9-5, clock on, clock off.” To which anyone who knows me tends to drop to the floor in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. They’re right of course, I do not have the temperament or the ability to be sufficiently single-minded to work at Coles. And the reality is I do feel privileged and satiated by wearing all my different hats bar just a couple…but this is par for the course and part of the important reflective process we should all continually undertake in our careers: Which hat no longer fits me? Which gives me a bit of headache? We can then re-orient our work and our businesses in a way that tries to reduce, or remove altogether, our time spent in these roles.
“I am completely over giving 101 dietary advice!” I wish I had a holiday for every time I’ve heard a nat with more than 10 yrs experience say that!
“Oh the never ending story of answering my inbox!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” is another one on high rotation in our ranks.
These ‘lost loves’ and potential disproportionate time wasters should never be ignored & simply endured but should instead be met…head on. The more I hear about different practice models & observe my own business over 20+years, the more I can see that when a practitioner is losing too much time or job satisfaction, wearing some of these hats that no longer fit, the less financial growth and sustainability their practice model holds. I know…them’s fighting words! Anyway, I’ll be talking about this and the delicate balance of our mild super-powers V our soft underbelly at Vicherbs monthly meet-up Sept 26th if you live in Melbourne and want to come along the join in the conversation. I think it’s a good one that we need to keep having.
2020 Group Mentoring Program Applications Open in October!
The Group Mentoring program provides integrative nutrition practitioners with monthly sessions of the most accelerated form of post-graduate education and clinically relevant skill development. Join this online 12 month program of like minded professionals and work with Rachel through real clinical cases and questions presented by each member in a collegiate setting. If you know you want in for next year already, get ahead of the queue and email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Rachel’s mentor program is something I look forward to each month and I feel very privileged to be one of her mentees (or mintees as she likes to call us). Each session is action packed with so much information shared that my brain gets a lot of dopamine hits! Rachel has a rare talent of teaching in a way that makes the most complicated information easy to understand, and even fun! The learning doesn’t stop after each mentor session. The group, including Rachel, will share research and continue to follow the cases shared. Amazing value for money. I know this is something I will want to do my whole career…there is always something more to be learned.”
VINKA WONG | Clinical Nutritionist, New Zealand
Histamine, Oxalates & Nickel…any of which may be at fault when your patient reports they experience adverse reactions from eating them. The same can be said for legumes, with a few extra contenders thrown in like oligosaccharides for those farty on FODMAPs. Additionally, in either case, there could be a bona fide allergy (IgE) or an intolerance (IgG) at play. Tricky, right?
I hear from practitioners often, though, that their interpretation of food reactions like these are at risk of being 1 dimensional, like a food word association game: tomato = histamine; legumes = FODMAPS; gluten = NCGS.
The labyrinth of possible pathways for food reactions is just that, a labyrinth!! So, we have to always be on our toes and try and approach each case methodologically.
I outlined how to approach this in clinic in A Guide to Investigating Food Reactions, released earlier this year. We cover a lot in this 2hr recording, but let’s face it, it’s an area that needs yet more time and a field that we never stop learning in. Next week, as part of our UU30 series on Getting to the Guts of Joint Pain, we need to take a little scenic detour along Oxalate Boulevard! Keep your eyes open peeps, because our very own food prescriptions tend to be full of them!! Not naming any names….berries, green smoothies, sweet potato &…
Need to catch up on investigating adverse food reactions??
Elimination of suspected food culprits in most situations is only a short term reliever, not an appropriate long term solution, so to optimise results we need to know the real mechanism of action. The majority of these, of course, stem from the gut, but being able to elucidate exactly which of the many things that can go wrong there, is going wrong and therefore what foods are problematic until we address this, is the key. This 2hr mp4 is all about the bigger picture and helping you find method in the madness that can be the adverse food reactions landscape.
Integrative Psychiatry is an inspiring area to work in & its evidence base, acceptance and recognition of potency is rapidly growing & offering more patients, more. Going beyond the ‘neurotransmitter imbalance model’ for each presenting diagnosis helps us to see the unique mix of biological & psychological drivers in each individual who presents seeking our help. However sometimes I believe, we find ourselves falling into looking through the lens of just another short-list of alternate models: What kind of methylation imbalance does this person have? What sort of Zn, Cu issues?
While I am so grateful for having learned these tools and watched them be very successful in a portion of my mental health clients, they are simply not the answer for everyone. We need to keep our thinking and practices dynamic and up to date, to reflect the incredible increase in research in new areas of integrative psychiatry, such that more of our patients can benefit and that we can continue to think beyond the box…even if that box itself was originally so progressive!
What do you know, for example, about abnormal purine metabolism in mania and using serum urate as a BPAD prognostic marker in depressed patients? Think you can simply be guided by the reference range provided, think again. What could good old LFTs reveal about our patient’s mental health vulnerabilities and what have we potentially misunderstood about copper in this area, particularly in children?
I appreciate Zinc’s role in mental health as much as the next integrative practitioner. Okay, given my 20K word thesis manifesto, more. But increasingly I am seeing mental health patients who need treatment with different tools. This upcoming ACNEM Mental Health Module in Perth is on point: thinking outside of, outside the box!
While the above only speaks to what I’m presenting, I know Dr. Sanjeev Sharma will also be sharing his wealth of individualised management insights and he’s a big fan of addressing Chronic MIld Metabolic Acidosis as an early treatment objective. Maybe we all need to hear why? And I am so looking forward to getting a PTSD update from Christabelle and hear all about the research into therapeutic keto-diets in psychiatry from Cliff Harvey…haven’t read all those papers to know which conditions and when this approach shows merit? No, most of us haven’t. That’s the point of outsourcing our up-skilling to colleagues who we know are across these more than us and to boot have the clinical experience to ‘make real the research’. As I’ve said before, given the content of this upcoming ACNEM Mental Health program, I wish I wasn’t presenting really, so I could just kick back and take it all in, uninterrupted. But alas, I have some important new information on reading basic bloods through a mental health lens to share! I really hope to see you all there. Let’s get out of the rut of 3-4 nutritional approaches to mental health and make the most of the explosion of research and shared clinical experience.
ACNEM Face-to-Face Training
Fremantle, 27-28 July 2019 at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle by Rydges
Oh and while you’re here…did you know the research into both beta-casomorphins and IgG casein reactions in relation to certain mental health diagnoses has taken some giant steps forward in the last couple of years? You should. Milk Madness is back and it’s via two distinct mechanisms – identifying which might be at play in your patients & correct management is now clearer than before. Want to get up to date in this area of mental health – check out our UU30 recordings: Milk Madness part 1 & part 2
Remember biochemical individuality folks? That great core underpinning principle of naturopathic & integrative nutrition. We should always keep this in front of mind, when something utterly fabulous for absolutely everyone pops its head up. Like every month or so, in the area of health, correct?
Fasting, in all its forms, is having a lot of time centre-stage right now. What a novel & truly prehistoric notion in this era of food 24/7! I get it and I agree, most of us would do much better by regularly moving out of the top paddock.
BUT…and there has to be a but…or we are no longer treating the individual…
Some of whom, due to specific conditions or biochemical tendencies, do utterly horribly with any sort of prolonged periods between feeds. I already have a hit-list of conditions where fasting and food restriction is a no-no…then I saw a set of labs the other day from a patient who self-initiates regular, 4-6 day fasts during one of said fasts,whose alarming results jumped out in bold, italicized CAPITALS, illuminated itself in neon pink and reminded me to remind you! This patient’s (extended) fasting labs went a little like this… total bilirubin 48 (normally 15 umol/L), bicarbonate 18 (normally 26 mmol/L), corresponding anion gap 20 (normally 12), uric acid 0.62 (normally 0.4 mmol/L). Are you thinking what I am thinking B1?
So here’s my hit-list of ‘fasting = foe’ for – still subject to case by case assessment (of course!! because we treat the individual, right?!)…but
- Any individual with a history of, or currently risk factors for, disordered eating, e.g. orthorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, anorexia
- Gilbert’s Syndrome
- Low T3 – thyroid ‘hibernation’
- Anxiety and PTSD
- Drug addiction
- Children, pregnant women, the elderly…of course!
In short: any patient whose condition or biochemistry may be too negatively impacted even in the short term by any of the following: higher cortisol release, significant slowing of phase II detoxification, or radically elevated acidosis, should step away from the fast and towards the fridge! 🙂 🙂
Got any you want to add to this list?
What’s this you say about a hibernating thyroid?
Thyroid hibernation produces a low T3 value coupled with a ‘lowish’ TSH and typically a clinical picture of hypothyroidism. As the practitioner we are faced with the conundrum of how to effectively ‘wake up’ the pituitary which appears to be sleeping on the job. This audio connects up the dots between this type of thyroid dysfunction, dietary patterns, restrictive eating (including a history of eating disorders), carbohydrate intake and disturbed iodine nutrition of the thyroid gland. This pattern is increasingly seen in practice and this audio is a must for anyone working in the area.
Do you know that saying, ‘mind your Ps and Qs?’ It basically means mind your manners and I heard that a lot as a kid 😉 But what we really need to hear now, as practitioners and promoters of healthy eating and wellness is really, Mind your P’s and P’s because a lot of biggest health consequences of any diet are determined by the balance or imbalance of two major players; protein and potassium. We’re always looking for simpler ways to enable patients and ourselves to be able to both recognise the strengths and weaknesses of their diets and, better still, apply a simple method to making better choices moving forward. Eyeballing the protein and potassium rich sources in any diet speaks volumes about other essential dietary characteristics and the likely impact of diet on health – and getting the relationship between these two right should be a goal for us all.
“World Health Organization (WHO) Dietary Targets for Sodium and Potassium are Unrealistic”, reads the recent headline from yet another study finding that humans would rather challenge the solid science of human potassium requirements than acknowledge the urgent need to turn this ship of fools around!
This large study, conducted over 18 countries, involving over 100 thousand individuals, reported that 0.002% met these targets. That’s 1 person in 50,000. Now, the researchers’ response to this is that we should lower our dietary potassium expectations….such that the targets are more achievable and so that (frankly) we are less perpetually disappointed in ourselves and our terrible food choices. Wha???? Back up there. The WHO guidelines, just like any other nutrition authority, derived these minimum amounts from a thorough review of the science that speaks to our physiological requirements and the level of nutrients that have been shown to be associated with health. Australia’s own fairly conservative NHMRC suggests even higher amounts for good health! Perhaps rather than revise the established dietary targets we should revise what we’re putting in our mouth!
So where does protein come into this? Well one of the most important and central nutrient dynamics is the balance or imbalance of our intake of both. And in this regard, yet again, we have a surprising lot in common with plants! Whether you’re trying to understand optimal nutrition conditions for growth (nitrogen alone won’t get a plant there, nor protein alone in a human) or the intricacies and nuances of finely tuning our physiological processes such as cardiovascular function, renal health, blood glucose management etc. the answer lies in a happy marriage between these two.
In this area of nutrition, we should be listening most closely in fact to renal specialists/researchers. These ‘undercover’ protein and potassium experts have been talking about this for a long time and in particular, in my humble opinion, Lynda Frassetto has lead that charge for decades. If you haven’t read much on this issue and want somewhere to start at least, jump into her pivotal paper from 2001 which eloquently explains why the human design can not shoulder a potassium shortfall…well not without causing real health problems…like the ones we’re seeing in record numbers currently and why the protein potassium balance of any diet is a major health determinant. That’s why giving ourselves and our patients the knowledge and the tools (yes lovely shiny meaningful infographics included!!), to quickly determine their protein potassium balance, are so necessary and important.
Thanks to Frassetto and many other researchers’ work, looking at food through this protein potassium lens has sharpened my focus and I think it’s about time we all took a good look 🙂
Check out the latest UU30 to hear the latest information…
The health consequences of any diet are largely determined by the balance or imbalance of two major players & proxy markers; protein and potassium. When it comes to this area of nutrition, we should be listening more closely to renal specialists whose research shows why the human design cannot support a potassium shortfall and the health consequences of this. Whether you’re trying to understand optimal nutrition conditions for growth (nitrogen alone won’t get a plant there, nor protein alone in a human) or the intricacies and nuances of finely tuning our physiological processes such as cardiovascular function, renal health, blood glucose management etc. the answer lies in a truly happy marriage between our intake of these two. These recording comes with a clinical resource tool to help you quickly identify the dietary protein:potassium balance for your clients.
How often were we told this in our training? And how often have we found this to be true in practice? And now suddenly, it seems, the medical researchers (at last!) are rapidly coming around to this core concept?? Our microbiome is suddenly the hottest property on the body block, and it seems every interested party is shouting, ‘Buy!Buy!Buy!’ As integrative health practitioners, of course, we had a major head-start, not just by appreciating the gut’s central positioning in the whole health story (iridology beliefs, maps & teasers aside!!) but also a heads-up about the damage the western diet, our medication exposures and lifestyle tend to wreak upon it. A favourite quote of Jason Hawrelak’s by Justin Sonnenburg, “The western diet starves your microbial self”, underscores the significance of just one element of this impact. And…are we all clear that the increasing number of patients reporting adverse food reactions, once again, overwhelmingly are a response to aberrant processes in the GIT?
Sounds silly it’s so obvious right, but it’s easy to get distracted & misattribute blame…for example, it’s the food that’s the problem. Well yes in a minority of situations interactions between someone’s genes, immune system and a particular food turns something otherwise healthy into something pathological, but for the majority, the food itself & in others is healthy, & could be beneficial to this individual, if only we could resolve their GIT issues…like FODMAPs for example.
Not the problem, just the messenger.
So if the ‘problem food’ is just the messenger, what’s the actual message we need to understand? Is it that this patient has medication, disease or otherwise induced hypochlorhydria, impairing ‘chopping up’ of potential antigens implicated in immune mediated food reactions? Or is that this person’s got fat maldigestion &/or malabsorption so that in addition to not tolerating fats, they may experience dietary oxalate intolerance to boot? Or are the food reactions the result of altered microflora changing what we can and can’t digest (via their critical contribution) & absorb?
So what message does the presence of IgG antibodies to consumed foods send us about the state of someone’s gut? It’s telling us 2 things: this individual exhibits abnormal intestinal permeability & currently in the context of this leaky gut, these foods may constitute a barrier to resolving this & other symptoms as well.
We’ve recently released the mp4 (that’s audio plus the movie version of the slideshow so grab your popcorn…that’s if you don’t have a corn issue!) of A Guide to Investigating Adverse Food Reactions – What’s IgG got to do with it? which details the science behind IgG, including debunking, the incorrect debunking of IgG food antibody testing!! But more than this, it overviews the whole maze of adverse food reactions, articulates a logical investigative path for practitioners through this maze, and helps us to really understand that finding the food(s) responsible for a patient’s symptoms is not the final destination..and can be in fact a distraction, if we don’t cut to the chase and find out the why…and funnily enough…my dear old iridology teachers and colleagues...it almost always comes back to the gut 😉
Confronted with the possibility of adverse food reactions in an increasing number of our patients can be an overwhelming prospect, in terms of accurately identifying and understanding the faulty mechanism underpinning these aberrant responses to healthy foods. Elimination of culprits in most situations is only a short term reliever, not an appropriate long term solution, so to optimise results we need to know the real mechanism of action. The majority of these, of course, stem from the gut, but being able to elucidate exactly which of the many things that can go wrong there, is going wrong and therefore what foods are problematic until we address this, is the key. This 2hr mp4 is all about the bigger picture and helping you find method in the madness that can be the AFR landscape. Along the way, we detail the science of where IgG reactions fit into this and it’s a fascinating story that just might be the missing puzzle in your leaky gut patients.
and watch this presentation now in your online account.
How long? How long must we sing this song? I’m feeling a bit 80s anthemic and righteous. It turns out that patients’ bowel movements could be improved by using a foot stool?!! Who said that??
Only every naturopath, ever. Right?
But now medical researchers are singing the praises of the Stool Stool too…sorry, I mean the ‘defaecation postural modification device’…because lo and behold a new study of over 1000 bowel movements revealed using a stool to elevate your feet while on the toilet improved the speed and ease, improved full emptying, reduced the strain etc of laxation, >70% of the time, even in ‘healthy, non-constipated patients’. There’s a quick video you can watch to get across this groundbreaking research, or you can read the full article here. I’ve been educating patients about this for about 20 years and it never fails to revolutionise their world!
It would seem that elevating your feet results in straightening “the unnatural bend in the rectum that occurs when sitting on the toilet by placing the body in the squatting position nature intended”…hang on a second…who’s calling what unnatural???…I think the highfalutin anti-anatomical bathroom contraption, we westerners call a toilet, wins the ‘unnatural’ crown!
Next thing you know there’ll be a study that tells us squatting to have babies makes more sense that lying on your back…right?! 🙂
Love talking all-things Stool?
Fabulous Farty Fibre is a previous UU30 recording. Rachel at her warmest and funniest reminds us that fibre is a critical component to good nutrition and is often overlooked, partly due to the popularity of paleolithic and no grain diets. This UU30 details the important functions of different types of fibre and therefore the importance and therapeutic applications for fibre diversity.
Forever fascinated by the neurobiology of various mental health presentations, addiction included, two medical news items caught my attention this week. If you’ve ever heard me speak on addiction, in somewhat simplistic terms, it is very much about the reward centre of the brain and how strongly all recreational drugs hit on this. Think rats tapping levers with their feet to continually self-administer cocaine…to the exclusion of all else….kind of magnitude of reward hits. You may have also heard me quote or misquote (!) someone famous who once said something to the effect of….and I am totally paraphrasing poorly here: if we can’t seek pleasure legitimately, we will seek it illegitimately.
So this story from ABC news about a Newcastle addiction group support program showing some early signs of greater retention and engagement and therefore potential success with addicts…because they incorporate prizes…well that makes so much sense!
The article is important to read in its entirety as it creates the context – especially for many people suffering from addiction who tell tragic stories of lives where the only rewards/prizes and even gifts they’ve ever known, being drug-related – even from a young age. So to normalise reward to some extent, and give individuals an experience of constructive legitimate versions of this, is actually desperately needed and ground-breaking.
How can we incorporate some element of this in our interactions with these patients?
The second ABC news item touts ‘a new generation drug that restores balance to the brain’ but is actually just a teaser about…wait for it…cue stage right…a not so old favourite…N-acetyl cysteine! Although this is effectively a recruitment drive for methamphetamine addicted individuals into a new 12 week trial of NAC, run by the National Drug Research Institute, taking place in Melbourne, Geelong and Wollongong, it gives NAC a great wrap and rationale for being a good adjunct in addiction, of course. Just a reminder folks that naturopaths belong on that multi-modality health care team for people struggling with addiction, and we do have some potent therapies to contribute.
A couple of years back I was asked to deliver an educational session to a group of hospital based mental health specialists on the merits of NAC. My favourite question/comment at the end of my detailed presentation from a very experienced psychiatrist was, “Well if N-acetyl cysteine is so good for mental health…why haven’t I heard about it before now?!”
I hope they follow the ABC news 🙂
Want to Get Up Close to N-acetyl Cysteine in Mental Health? Previous ideas regarding the pathophysiology of mental illness have been profoundly challenged in recent times, particularly in light of the limited success of the pharmaceuticals that ‘should have worked better’ had our hypotheses been correct. Novel drivers such as oxidative stress, inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction are on everyone’s lips and N-acetyl cysteine is in prime position in this new landscape, to be a novel and effective therapy for mental illness. This presentation brings you up to date with the current NAC research in a large number of mental health conditions & translates this into the clinical context.
I was lucky enough to hear Jason Hawrelak’s excellent presentation at the Australian Naturopathic Summit last weekend, titled: A Case of Blastocystis Infection – Or Is It? Timely, highly valuable, immediately usable, provocative education (just how I like it 😉 ) on how perhaps often Blasto is playing the scapegoat for another condition/cause of patients’ GIT symptoms. During this case study, Jason detailed the shonky diagnostic work-up of his current patient by a naturopath 12 years prior…that naturopath was him.
There was so much to love about his telling of this case study and the discourse around it but here are my Top 3 Takes:
- None of us know everything or practice perfectly but rather we do what we do, until we know to do differently…even Jason 😉
- As there are 9 strains of B.hominis found in humans and many of these are in fact benign commensals, even perhaps important ‘apex predators’ for the microbiome, attributing someone’s health problems (digestive or otherwise) to the presence of this parasite should in fact be a diagnosis of exclusion…always asking yourself first, what else could it be?? e.g. coeliac, SIBO, food reactions etc etc
- The cost of being a ‘premature evaluator’, to your patients and to yourself, can be very high…
If you’ve not seen Kitty Flanagan’s skit on current coffee culture...it’s essential viewing. In true Kitty-fashion, she wants to simplify coffee ordering down to 2 basic lines – White or Black – says all our pretentious coffee orders; macchiato, skinny, decaf, half strength, latte etc can essentially be reduced down to a much faster 2 queue system. But she’s forgotten the line for taking your coffee rectally. Sorry – did I make you just spill your coffee? Knowing How across health trends Kitty is, she’ll add this 3rd queue soon, if the number of patients asking me about this or telling me they’re already doing it. Now, while enemas had a place in naturopathic history, my training never covered them and, consequently, I’ve never included them in my practice. But the more hype I heard around coffee enemas specifically, the more I thought we better find out as much as we can, so at least we can better inform ourselves and our patients. And of course the monkey on your back, called FOMO, jumps up and down, incessantly asking, “Are you (and your patients) missing out on an amazing therapy?”
The first patient who told me they were using coffee enemas daily was a celeb. A very anxious one. Who also told me she couldn’t possibly drink chai let alone coffee because of the caffeine. This had me a bit stumped…I knew she wasn’t inserting decaff up there and I thought…well given the colon is SUCH an absorptive surface surely this is why she reported feeling, ‘so energised, more clear headed’ etc. with every enema?
But I wanted to find out for sure (more…)
I’ve had my nose in all the research on Gilbert’s Syndrome again..watch this space…in the interim just thought I’d share this image and a couple of important details I may not have been able to convey when you last heard me talk (very fast!) about this important and common polymorphism:
- While the incidence is approximately 10% of Caucasian population, rates are heavily influenced by ethnic background and the highest rates (up to 1/4) are seen in Middle Eastern populations
- Gone are the days of thinking this condition only effects bilirubin levels and the enzyme responsible for its clearance – more recent research has shown over 3/4 of patients with Gilbert’s Syndrome have multiple SNPs that compromise clusters of enzymes within the glucuronidation pathway – with varying patterns – this goes a good chunk of the way to explaining the variability we see in bilirubin levels and symptom pictures across patients all deemed to have Gilbert’s Syndrome. This also explains why figures of reduced glucuronidation activity vary anywhere between 10% less to 90% less! It depends on your cluster..but the average reduction is around 50%
- UGT enzymes, the ones affected in Gilbert’s, are also expressed all the way down the GIT and constitute important food and drug handling. These UGTs are most active in the small intestines,as you can see above, but may explain why Gilbert’s patients are ‘more sensitive’ to medications than just paracetamol!
- And are you still thinking you need to run an $$$ gene test to confirm your Gilbert’s hunch in a client whose bilirubin sits consistently high normal or high? Think again… here’s a great little diagnostic short-cut that even the Royal College of Pathologists Australasia cites as sufficient evidence to confirm the polymorphism:
In the face of elevated total bilirubin levels and in the absence of liver pathology or increased haemolysis to explain this..”If the diagnosis is uncertain the serum bilirubin fasting level can be measured and should exceed the non-fasting level by >50%.”
Nice. So that means you only need to demonstrate that the patient’s fasting total bilirubin levels go up by at least 50% compared with their fed levels and BINGO you have your diagnosis. Much easier. Oh and this image comes from an interesting paper from Tukey & Strassburg 2001 – but is probably not for the faint-hearted 😉
Stay tuned for more 🙂
Just new to this condition and need a soft place to land with understanding Gilbert’s Syndrome? This previous UU30 is just the thing! Affectionately called Gilbert’s Girls because in particular it details a set of twins with this condition, this short audio explains the basics about this common polymorphism and why we tend to see a lot of patients who have this…even if no one has pointed it out to them yet! You could be the first to provide them with this important understanding about how genetics is impacting their detox pathways, changing their sex hormone handling and perhaps setting them up for both mental health issues and some serious upset guts! Better still, what to do once we have that diagnosis.
Help!!! I’m about to share the stage at the 3rd International Acid-Base Symposium on the 25th-27th Jun, with the best acid-base researchers in the world, all of whom I actively stalk (well read and recite everything they’ve ever published but close enough!) I’m terrified and excited in equal doses…but urgently need to change my presentation approach because until now I’ve had the privileged position of simply fulfilling the town-crier role, announcing far and wide the findings of their incredible research into acid base physiology and their findings about impact of chronic mild metabolic acidosis. But I can’t quote Arnett to Arnett! I can’t tell Dawson-Hughes about the incredible insights of Dawson-Hughes’ large body of work in this area! Oh my Goodness (cue, shaking knees), I’m going to meet Thomas Remer…of Potential Renal Acid Load Formula Fame!!
Yes, my partner is a musician and through him I have brushed shoulders with all kinds of famous…but nothing that has made my heart beat quite this fast!
Must buy an autograph book for them to all sign.
Joking (kind of). (more…)
Quite the month for it, I hear. My inbox has run hot with practitioners deeply concerned about some serious finger pointing that’s been going on.
The fingers in these instances have belonged to medical practitioners and the direction they’re all pointing, is seemingly at any complementary medicine their shared patient is taking.
Here’s a couple of good examples: “Your high blood pressure is the result of the combined mineral formula you’re taking!” These were the words of a GP to a 50 something female patient when he discovered she was taking a calcium, magnesium, potassium containing formula. The patient was hypertensive at the initial appointment, at which time the naturopath encouraged her to actually seek review, assessment and prescription of an anti-hypertensive, however the patient declined. The nutritional prescription was recommended in response to high acidity (raised anion gap) and prematurely low GFR (impaired renal function). Patient’s HBP continued to be problematic so the next doctor she sees, points the finger and says, it must be this product!
Would anyone like to explain that to me? In fact, that was my advice back to this very concerned and understandably rattled practitioner…just to cordially request the GP to outline the mechanism by which this might occur. (more…)
“I always give some Glutamine to heal their leaky gut”
Cue pained expression on my face. No, I’m not a fan. I take that back, I have no problem with the amino acid itself and I’m still in awe of its incredible multifaceted role in the gut. What I do have a giant issue with is the mismatch between everything we are being told Glutamine is going to help our patients with, and the dosages that apparently will do that, and the reality. I know, I’m attacking the Holy Grail of Gut Health 101….right? But it’s time to set the record straight. Firstly, where’s the evidence at in terms of Glutamine interventions in GIT pathology, particularly in relation to reducing excessive intestinal permeability and improving lining integrity Well if you’re a rat – Good news! Rats’ GITs have a greater dependence on Glutamine than ours, a deficiency of this amino produces clear reproducible negative effects and supplementation fixes these brilliantly!
But if you’re treating humans not rats – well – the evidence & the case for Glutamine for the Gut is not so straight forward or impressive. (more…)
I promised I would keep all you fellow desk workers posted. Over 6 months has passed since I started standing for work….and I LOVE IT!
Here are the pros I can wax lyrically about so far:
- Back ache from long days at the computer, gone…seriously
- I am more energised about coming to work, starting work, staying at work…because I am not sitting! YAY! I move around…everyone I meet with on Skype will vouch for that!
- I am fitter & stronger as a result of standing for approx. 35hrs a week ( I know this because it took a while to develop this…after the first 2 slightly grueling weeks!)
- At the end of a long day/week, my mental fatigue and physical fatigue finally match – which means I am no longer brain-dead but in desperate need of a run around the block! The previous mismatch used to make winding down etc hard
- I get to actually walk my constant talk to patients about being active, avoiding sitting etc. Soooooo much better than sitting there for client after client and saying…’you know you really should move more!’
- And at the end of a big day…sitting never felt so good…it’s been restored as the luxury item it should be 😉
Here are the cons I can also attest to: (more…)
And then you don’t, right? Because if my experience is anything to go by, there are some patients that just don’t respond to the usual iron repletion strategies. Depending on how low their ferritin is, this can then precipitate ‘practitioner panic’ (we’ve all had it right?!) where we’re inclined to go higher & higher with the dose and number of doses per day. Typically, this also fails. I hear about this from other practitioners all the time and I see the ‘normal’ doses of iron sneaking up and up. Remember the days when we couldn’t get a non-pharmacy supplement with over 5mg elemental iron in it and now we have > 20mg? But still, I hear you say, this fades into insignificance when you think about the standard medical model for iron correction which provides 100-200mg/day and you’re right.
Gee… after hundreds of years of knowing about this deficiency and being the most common deficiency word-wide, you’d think we had our supplemental regime nailed.
But that’s where you’d be wrong. (more…)
May was the month of teenage girls presenting with severe digestive problems, especially ‘food intolerances’, leading to avoidance of specific foods and at times significantly reduced food intake overall. As integrative health practitioners, validating and creating insight for clients on the nature and source of their food reactions is our bread and butter, right? Is it wheat? Dairy? Gluten? FODMAPs? Salicylates? Oxalates? We are not surprised by how many ‘sick’ patients we see in spite of a theoretically ‘healthy diet’ – healthy for others perhaps but not for the individual in front of you, right? But what if I told you that each of these teenage girls had a BMI < 18 kg/m2, does that change your opinion about your role? Would you assess, monitor and manage these teenage girls differently? You should.
Take the example of one of my clients: 14yo female with a BMI 16.3, who had her first confirmed food reaction under 2yo with failure to thrive, which was attributed by a paediatrician & dietitian at the time to severe salicylate sensitivity. She underwent jejunal biopsy at 3yo for suspected coeliac disease, due to ongoing concerns and a primary relative with CD but it was NAD. In the 11 years since, there have been a couple of other digestive diagnoses based on solid evidence, such as mainstream stool PCR testing. So surely, the fact that she is underweight & that she skips lunch at school due to digestive discomfort is proportionate and explained by her organic digestive issues. Or is it? (more…)
Got any patients on Natural Thyroid Extracts (NTE)? Me too…and I am finding it’s on the increase. What’s the deal? What do we need to understand about this form of thyroid replacement therapy to best monitor and manage those patients already on it or contemplating taking it? Does it really offer advantages to all hypothyroid patients or just to a subset of those and how would we recognise these people who might benefit the most?
NTE are marketed as being superior to synthetic thyroxine primarily based on the fact that they provide the patient with some T3 as well as T4 and in addition to that, being extracts of pig thyroid glands, there are other thyroid and iodine based actives e.g. mono and diiodotyrosine, present in the extracts. So in essence this is giving us more iodine and more of the other ingredients we need to make our own thyroid hormones. Based on this, many proponents of NTE say this is a major advantage over synthetic thyroxine replacement because it is more ‘holistic’ and it supports the patient’s gland in its own hormonogenesis. (more…)
I just want to scream with joy…and then keep on screaming with utter frustration! Last week I presented the culmination of months of work looking into the extraordinary manifold relationships between thyroid health, fertility, pregnancy & post-partum health for mum and bub.
The findings are breathtaking: whether it’s about being able to put thyroid Abs firmly on the ‘Must Screen’ list for preconception care, given their ability to double-quadruple the rate of early miscarriage or their propensity for triggering post-partum thyroiditis in 50% of women who possess them or being able to state emphatically that maternal low iodine (prior to conception as well as during pregnancy) remains the number one risk for the thyroid’s healthy transition to pregnancy. The evidence is overwhelming that we need to pay very close attention to the thyroid. (more…)