May 30, 2016

371 Lyme Disease [30 May 2016]

Lyme disease is a serious illness caused by a spirochete bacterial infection (Borrelia burgdorferi) carried by the Black-Legged (Deer) tick. The most common tick in Saskatchewan is the American Dog (Wood) tick, but deer ticks do occur (less than 1%), especially in the south of the province, and with warmer winters will likely increase.

Cases of Lyme disease in Canada increased from 128 in 2009 to over 700 in 2015. The official Saskatchewan count for Lyme disease is 4 patients in the past 10 years. But because of the strict definition used in the province, the actual number of cases is much higher, and most of them believe they contracted the disease in the province.

Treatment by antibiotics at an early stage is usually effective but the disease is notoriously hard to diagnose and too many patients have gone misdiagnosed for years. The chronic stage can be debilitating and very hard to treat.

The classic sign of bullseye rash may occur in less than 10% of cases. In more than 50% of cases there may not be any rash. Initial symptoms are sore throat, headaches, congestion, pain and stiffness, all of which resemble a cold or “flu”.

The lab test used in Canada (for borrelia antibodies) is notorious for false negatives, especially in the first month. So even if your test is negative, you may still have Lyme disease. Tests in the US are more accurate but still not 100%.

Dr. Ted Cormode, a retired MD whose daughter had Lyme disease, argues that calling Lyme disease hard to diagnose is just an excuse for missed diagnoses. He believes that improved education of health care providers is required and that early diagnosis and treatment based on signs, symptoms and history (rather than depend on lab tests) will greatly improve outcomes for Lyme disease victims.

As always, the best treatment is prevention. When walking in tall grass or under trees, tuck in your pant legs and do a thorough examination of yourself, your children and pets when you come in. Remember even tiny ticks can transmit disease. Use an effective insect repellent with DEET, or essential oils known to deter ticks like rose geranium and cedarwood.

See the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation website for more information on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

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

May 16, 2016

370 Fibromyalgia [16 May 2016]

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a poorly understood condition. In fact it wasn’t generally accepted as a “real” condition until 2002 when a brain imaging study provided objective evidence that pain was processed differently in the brain of those with FM. Fibromyalgia overlaps the fields of rheumatology, neurology, sleep disorders, and pain, so there is no one medical field dedicated to its research.

Dr. Ginevra Liptan is a medical doctor who developed Fibromyalgia as a medical student and specializes in its treatment. In a May 5 2016 article on she discusses fibromyalgia from the perspective of both physician and patient.

Fibromyalgia has three groups of symptoms – widespread muscle pain and stiffness, chronic fatigue, and brain fog. Liptan describes the development of FM this way:
A chronically activated stress response wreaks havoc by preventing deep sleep and keeping muscles tense, leading to pain and tenderness; impairing digestion and energy production; and throwing hormones out of balance…ultimately [causing] the pain sensing nerves to increase the volume of their signals.”
She adds “This deep sleep starvation contributes to the fatigue, muscle pain, and foggy thinking.”

In another post, Dr. Amy Myers gives 10 possible root causes for fibromyalgia.

There is still no cure for Fibromyalgia but the following will greatly reduce the symptoms:

• Restoring normal deep sleep is the first essential step [see #105, #350]
• Diet changes and supplements to reduce inflammation [see #217, #294, Amy Myers]
• Supplements to support mitochondrial energy production [see #302]
• Support adrenal and thyroid function if required
• A detox cleanse may prove beneficial
• Ensure Vitamin D levels are in the optimum range [see #295]
• Magnesium, especially the L-Threonate form, is important
• 5HTP and SAMe supplements reduce pain, fatigue and muscle stiffness
• Malic acid is a natural anti-inflammatory which is particularly helpful for FM
• Aerobic exercise has been shown to relieve pain and depression
• Massage therapy can reduce muscle pain, improve sleep and reduce stress

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

May 9, 2016

369 Sleep & Cancer [9 May 2016]

Lack of quality sleep has long been associated with higher risks of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Now a number of studies have linked poor sleep with increased risk of, or poorer outcomes with, cancer in both men and women.

• A study published in Am Acad of Sleep Med, May 2014, found that sleep efficiency, defined as the ratio of time asleep to time spent in bed, is predictive of survival time for women with advanced breast cancer. The mechanism is unclear but it likely involves the immune system or hormone stress response.

• A study from U. Washington published in Am Acad of Sleep Med, June 2015, found that short sleep and frequent snoring was associated with poorer breast cancer survival.

• A study from Iceland published in May 2013 found that insomnia – trouble falling asleep and staying asleep – doubled the risk of prostate cancer (researchers ruled out insomnia caused by enlarged prostates getting the men up in the night).

• Other studies have found higher risk of breast or prostate cancer among shift workers, whose sleep is regularly disrupted.

• A study published in Cancer, February 2011, found that getting less than 6 hours of sleep increased the risk of colorectal adenomas (a type of colon cancer) by almost 50%.

• A mouse study from Spain suggests a possible mechanism for poor sleep resulting in worse outcomes with cancer. Obstructive sleep apnea is known to cause intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen levels) which is known to promote the growth of blood vessels in tumors. This could also explain why exercise and not smoking, both of which increase oxygen levels, improve cancer outcomes (European Assoc. of Urology, March 2016).

All this should be a wake-up call for the importance of sleep! (sorry, just had to get that in). We carry a variety of natural sleep aids that are non-habit forming and help you wake up refreshed and ready to face the day. Have a good sleep, everyone!

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.

May 2, 2016

368 Irritable Bowel Syndrome [2 May 2016]

April was IBS Awareness Month, a topic I have been neglecting for a while. Better late than never!

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder of the colon (large intestine). Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease involves inflammation and is more serious (which I will discuss another time).

There are many possible causes of IBS. A GI tract infection (“food poisoning”) can trigger IBS. Severe stress can also trigger it or make it worse. Antibiotics can kill off the good gut bacteria allowing pathogens (including the yeast Candida albicans) to flourish.

There are several key components to dealing with IBS.
• Reduce stress.
• Temporarily avoid foods to which you may have a sensitivity – dairy, cereal grains, and caffeine.
• Chew your food thoroughly and take digestive enzymes.
• Reduce sugar, fatty foods and processed meats. Temporarily eliminate cruciferous vegetables and onions and garlic which are high in sulfur and could trigger IBS.
• Take a good multi-strain probiotic. Eat cultured vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi. Better yet make your own (see #326).
• Add fiber to improve elimination and feed the beneficial intestinal flora.
• Ensure you are drinking enough water.
• Give your gut a treat with soothing herbs like marshmallow root, slippery elm, fenugreek, skullcap, peppermint and fennel.
• Supplement with the amino acid L-Glutamine and the monosaccharide N-Acetyl-D-Glucosamine (NAG), both needed for healing the gut lining.

I have several formulas developed specifically for helping with IBS. A shelf-stable probiotic with L-glutamine is a convenient way to get both those nutrients. Another company has several supplement formulas for IBS – a combination of 26 herbs to soothe and support the colon; a formula with glutamine, NAG, and a few more herbs, to help the colon heal; and a line of high potency probiotics.

These tips and supplements should go far in relieving the symptoms of IBS and healing the gut.

Wikipedia IBS
Wikipedia NAG
Mayo Clinic IBS Definition
Naka ProPB7
Renew Life: IBS Tips
Renew Life IntestiNew
Renew Life Intestinal Bowel Support
Watson, Brenda ND, 2002, Renew Your Life – Improved Digestion and Detoxification

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