October 26, 2015

342 Toxic Chemicals and Reproductive Health [26 Oct 2015]

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) released a report October 1, 2015, on the threat to human health posed by exposure to chemicals. Reproductive health professionals witness first-hand the increasing numbers of health problems facing their patients due to exposure to chemicals. Here are a few quotes from the report:

• Exposure to toxic environmental chemicals during pregnancy and breastfeeding is ubiquitous and is a threat to healthy human reproduction. …even small exposures to toxic chemicals during pregnancy can trigger adverse health consequences.

• Miscarriage and still birth, impaired fetal growth, congenital malformations, impaired or reduced neurodevelopment and cognitive function, and an increase in cancer, attention problems, ADHD behaviors, and hyperactivity are among the list of poor health outcomes linked to chemicals such as pesticides, air pollutants, plastics, solvents and more…

• In the US alone more than 30,000 pounds of chemicals per person are manufactured or imported and yet the vast majority of these chemicals have not been tested.

• …international trade agreements weaken controls and regulations designed to protect communities from toxic chemicals.

• Exposure to toxic environmental chemicals is linked to millions of deaths and costs billions of dollars every year.

• The cost of childhood diseases related to environmental toxins and pollutants in air, food, water, soil, and in homes and neighborhoods was calculated to be $76.6 billion in 2008 in the United States.

• We are drowning our world in untested and unsafe chemicals and the price we are paying in terms of our reproductive health is of serious concern.

The FIGO report was authored by a group of physicians and scientists from the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Read the press release and full report at www.figo.org. Next week – tips on how to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 19, 2015

341 Vitamin D for Breastfeeding [19 Oct 2015]

Human breastmilk is known to be extremely low in vitamin D, so supplementation of 400 IU vitamin D is recommended for exclusively breastfed babies in Canada and the USA. But is this an inherent flaw in mother’s milk or an inadequate dietary recommendation of the vitamin for the mother? A randomized controlled trial recently published in the prestigious journal Pediatrics set out to answer that question.

The study started with 334 mother-infant pairs who were exclusively breastfeeding. In Group 1 both mother and infant were given 400 IU of vitamin D; in Groups 2 and 3 the mother was given 2,400 or 6,400 IU respectively and the infants none. Blood levels were tested at baseline, 4 months and 7 months. Interestingly the 2,400 IU group was stopped by the ethics committee after 4 months because too many of the infants were still D deficient. At the end of the study the infants from Group 3 had D levels equal to those in Group 1 who were supplemented with 400 IU.

The study concludes:
“Maternal vitamin D supplementation with 6400 IU/day safely supplies breast milk with adequate vitamin D to satisfy her nursing infant’s requirement and offers an alternate strategy to direct infant supplementation.”
Maternal supplementation has the added benefit of ensuring the mother has adequate D levels too.

I previously wrote about vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy [#160], referring to a study that found that its highest dosage (4,000 IU) was still insufficient to prevent the baby from being born with a D deficiency. I earlier wrote [#117] about cases of infantile rickets misdiagnosed as child abuse where babies with broken bones are taken into custody and the parents charged with abuse.

This study shows that the Canadian RDA for vitamin D at 600 IU for both pregnancy and lactation is an order of magnitude (10X) too small. The upper limit is set at 4,000 IU, and warns of possible adverse effects beyond that. Is there really evidence for this concern? In the Discussion section of this study the authors state:
“...during the past decade [in] several studies…involving several thousand patients… not a single adverse event has been attributed to vitamin D supplementation at the doses ranging from 2000 to 6400 IU/day".
Government organizations like Health Canada have been slowly raising the recommended levels of vitamin D as evidence mounts. This well-designed study should nudge this movement along another notch.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 12, 2015

340 NISA – A Different Kind of Massage [12 Oct 2015]

I just came back from a four day training workshop learning the massage technique called NISA (Neuromuscular Integration and Structural Alignment).

NISA works on the fascia – the layers of connective tissue under the skin and around each muscle. One of the functions of fascia is to allow glide between different muscles, allowing them to function independently. Fascia is often more responsible than tight muscles in causing pain, limited mobility and postural imbalance.

Here is how the course description puts it:
“The NISA process releases fascial adhesions; it stretches, frees, & clears the tissue. The softened layers of fascia, having regained their flexibility and elasticity, permit improved structural alignment and body mechanics. It provides long-lasting changes to chronic postural habits, and most clients feel increased range of motion and less restriction after one or two treatments.”
Fascial massage is different from Swedish or other forms of massage. Most massage techniques are aimed at releasing tight muscle and are ineffective in treating problems in the fascia. The NISA technique uses less lubricant so instead of gliding over the skin we move the skin to address the underlying fascia.

Fascial massage can be incorporated into regular massage treatments on small problem areas but are more effective when applied to large areas. This is due to the interconnectedness of fascia. For example, shoulder pain could be caused by a restriction in the fascia of the opposite hip. A series of 12 one-hour treatments is required to thoroughly treat the entire body but one or two one-hour treatments on the affected area will still accomplish much.

We also learned new techniques of assessment for body structure and balance – to identify where work is needed and to monitor improvements with treatment.

After four days of being worked on from head to toe (during exchanges with the other massage therapists taking the workshop) I feel looser, lighter, and taller (not sure if that’s a good thing?). I stand and sit straighter. My left knee doesn’t bug me when riding my bicycle. And my lower back doesn’t bother me as much as it had been.

Now I’d like to share what I’ve learned to help your body feel and function better than you believed it ever could.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. See this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.

October 5, 2015

339 Vitamin B12 – the Cobalamins [5 Oct 2015]

B12 is the most structurally complex of the vitamins and the only one which contains a trace mineral – cobalt – which gives it its scientific name cobalamin. That’s the reason cattle are given cobalt, usually in the form of blue salt blocks, so their gut bacteria can synthesize B12 for them. Human gut bacteria may produce some B12 but rarely enough. Thus we need to obtain B12 from our diet.

In order to be absorbed in the small intestine, B12 from our food requires a special enzyme, called “intrinsic factor”, which is produced in the stomach. Some people do not produce enough intrinsic factor, resulting in a B12 deficiency called pernicious anemia. This is overcome with a special sublingual form that is absorbed directly in your mouth, bypassing the digestive tract.

There are three forms of B12 found in supplements.

• Cyanocobalamin is the cheapest form so the most common in multi vitamins. It contains a toxic cyanide group which the body must dispose of after converting it to methylcobalamin. It is safe at normal doses but is not recommended for high dose supplementation.

Methylcobalamin is the biologically active form which protects nerve cells from degenerative damage in neurological disorders such as MS, Alzheimer’s and glaucoma. It is better absorbed and retained than cyanocobalamin and is non-toxic so is safe even at high doses. A quick test for the quality of a multivitamin or B complex is to check the form of B12 in it!

• Hydroxocobalamin is a special form that is well absorbed and is easily converted to the active forms. It is sometimes used in cases of cyanide poisoning to help detoxify and excrete cyanide – by IV for acute toxicity and by supplementation for chronic low-level toxicity. Cyanocobalamin is first converted into hydroxocobalamin and then into either of the active forms – methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin. Adenosylcobalamin is readily stored (in the liver) and is the form used in mitochondria for energy production.

B12 plays many roles in our metabolism some of which involve the TCA cycle of energy production in our mitochondria which I wrote about in January 2015 (#302). In March of 2014 (#257) I wrote about B12 deficiency symptoms and the importance of supplementation for brain health.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.