December 3, 2018

500 The Last Post [3 Dec 2018]

After 500 articles over almost 10 years I am retiring this newspaper column. I’ve enjoyed writing them and, as I often say, it forced me to learn something every week.

All 500 articles will still be available on their archived blog at or from my website The online versions often have additional information that there wasn’t room for in the newspaper plus links to sources and more information. They are sorted by date and searchable by key words. I may occasionally add new articles to the blog or new comments to existing articles.

I have avoided writing exclusively about products or services that I sell – many of the articles are on “free” concepts like sleep and exercise. In most cases I have offered my take on the subject under discussion. And whenever possible I have tried to inject a little humor to add interest to otherwise boring subjects.

Here are some of the ideas I have tried to share with you over the years:
• the importance of diet in health and disease
• new or unusual products or treatments
• summaries of interesting articles and books that I came across
• concepts like the placebo effect, mitochondria, microbiome, brain-gut axis, and determinants of health
• the latest research on natural health topics
• the validity of research for many diets, nutrients and supplements (and that this information is too often ignored by the medical industry)
• the built in bias in the health industry favoring patentable drugs over non-patentable (mostly natural) products
• that not everything you read on health (natural or otherwise) is true

Thank you for reading my articles, and thanks to those who came in and told me that it was the first thing you looked for when you opened the Eagle. My hope is that you will continue to refer to these articles and use them as a springboard for further exploration of your topics of interest.

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

November 26, 2018

499 The Starch Diet [26 Nov 2018]

Years ago I learned that to get a balanced view we need to read widely, especially in the field of natural health. Writers focus on one nutrient or diet and make it sound like the most important or only logical choice. Only by reading many different authors can we begin to see the whole picture. That’s what I have tried to bring to you over the past 10 years writing these articles.

A case in point is Dr. John McDougall’s 2013 book The Starch Solution (read the first chapter here). McDougall advocates a diet rich in starchy foods like grains, legumes, potatoes and sweet potatoes, along with plenty of vegetables and fruit, while eliminating meat, dairy, processed foods and most oils. This is in sharp contrast to the currently popular low-carb high-fat paleo and keto diets.

McDougall observed that when people from other countries with a traditional starch based diet who were trim and healthy moved to the USA and adopted an American diet, they became obese and developed western diseases. The immigrant grandparents remained slim and healthy; their children were overweight and unhealthy; and the grandchildren obese and sick – the opposite of what we would expect. He believed the difference was the increased meat and dairy in their diets.

Over four decades Dr. McDougall developed his diet and helped thousands of patients regain their health. McDougall claims that a diet rich in starch:
• Allowed humans to move beyond the tropics and to develop our large brains;
• fuelled the rise of civilization and fed the Greek and Roman armies;
• Healthy populations around the world get most of their calories from starch;
• will let you lose excess weight almost effortlessly;
• will improve your blood pressure and cholesterol;
• will prevent diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis;
• will make you feel, function, and live better;
• will help save the planet (beef produces 14X more greenhouse gases than potatoes per calorie); and
• will significantly reduce your grocery budget.

I believe that minimally processed starchy foods are part of a healthy diet but I’m not sure I’d take it to the extreme that McDougall does eliminating all animal products. His diet does provide a welcome balance to the high-fat keto diets but I’d like to see some good research supporting his health claims.

Next week – The Last Post. I’m retiring this column after #500.

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

November 19, 2018

498 Alkaline Water [19 November 2018]

I have wanted to write about the acid-alkaline balance for years but didn’t feel I understood it well enough. A recent article by Dr. Joseph Mercola on, “Alkaline Water or Hydrogen Water” covered one aspect of the topic.

Alkaline water is made by a device that separates the water into acid and alkaline fractions by electrolysis. Promoters tell you to drink the alkaline water and feed the acidic water to your plants. They claim that the alkaline water will alkalize your (too-acidic) body providing many health benefits including prevention or treatment of arthritis, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

In his article Mercola points out that these health claims are not substantiated by research. Most studies show no benefit and the few that do were poorly designed. Mercola explains that because it isn’t buffered, alkaline water is neutralized by the stomach acid, not the other way around.

Mercola isn't the only one that believes alkalized water is overrated. Ryan Andrews of PrecisionNutrition reviews the evidence for several health claims and rates the evidence for it - mostly "weak" or "speculative".

Perceived benefits by the users could be attributed to the minerals in the water (mostly calcium, potassium and magnesium) or the placebo effect, but it turns out that it is the dissolved hydrogen (H2) gas produced during electrolysis. Mercola and his guest, hydrogen expert Tyler W. LeBaron, then discuss the research on the health benefits of molecular hydrogen gas. I encourage you to watch the entire fascinating interview.

Studies of supplemental antioxidants have had mixed results with some studies showing significant harm. That’s because while free radicals are harmful to the cell’s membranes, mitochondria and DNA, some are also used as signaling molecules in the cell. H2 is a potent antioxidant but selectively goes after the most toxic radicals like hydroxyl and superoxide. More importantly, H2 enhances production and activation of our cells’ other cyto-protective antioxidants like glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase, but only as needed. Learn more about hydrogen water research at the Molecular Hydrogen Institute website.

Mercola ends by explaining the difference between hydrogen (H2) water and 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and showed that H2O2 cannot convert into H2. He emphatically warns “never ingest hydrogen peroxide”– it should be only used externally or for household cleaning.

It was refreshing to see Dr. Mercola warn against a natural health fad that has little research to support it. Evidently he doesn’t sell alkalizing water filters!

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

November 12, 2018

497 Water Memory and Homeopathy

I first wrote about Homeopathy nine years ago [#36 Homeopathy, 2 Nov 2009] and explained its two paradoxical principles: that “like cures like”, and the more dilute the remedy, the stronger its effect.

Because these principles are opposite of conventional medicine, homeopathy is often maligned as having a placebo effect at best. An example is this quote from a Scottish “bioethics expert”: Homeopathy is utterly implausible. Homeopathic preparations are so thoroughly diluted that they contain no significant amounts of active ingredients, and thus can have no effects on the patient’s body.

Surprisingly, some water science physicists believe there is a plausible explanation for homeopathic medicines. They have shown that the preparation of homeopathic remedies – successive dilution and shaking – does indeed alter the structure of the water in such a way that it can carry medicinal information. Two Nobel Laureates and other eminent scientists recently presented at a London conference titled New Horizons in Water Science – The Evidence for Homeopathy?

Brian Josephson of the U. of Cambridge said that liquid crystals, which can maintain an ordered structure while flowing, support homeopathic theory. He went on to explain that biomolecules (such as hormones) also function at very dilute solutions and can operate at a distance by electromagnetic signaling rather than chemical bonding. Josephson poked fun at critics of homeopathy, saying that chemical analysis of homeopathic remedies tell you no more about their properties than chemical analysis of a CD will tell you about the music on it.

Vladimir Voeikov from Moscow State University described decades of research in Russia on the biological effects of ultrahigh dilutions. Dr. Gerald Pollack, professor of bioengineering at U. of Washington, Seattle, and author of The Fourth Phase of Water, presented his research on the crystal-like structure of water on membrane surfaces. The other Nobel winner Luc Montagnier ended his presentation by saying “It [homeopathy] is not pseudoscience. It’s not quackery. These are real phenomena which deserve further study.”

I don’t begin to understand the physics of water memory but if these scientists insist that there is something to it, it would be sheer arrogance (and ignorance) on my part to claim otherwise.

Source: Water and Homeopathy, Oct 31, 2018

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

November 5, 2018

496 Miller’s Review [5 Nov 2018]

Vaccines have been thoroughly tested for safety, reactions are rare, and no published studies show vaccines cause harm. That is the position of the pharmaceutical industry, our governments, and their health organizations. But is it true?

A recent book by Neil MillerMiller’s Review of Critical Vaccine Studies – 400 Important Scientific Papers Summarized for Parents and Researchers” (mentioned in last week's post "The Wakefield Study") summarizes research that your pediatrician or community health nurse won’t tell you about (and most likely are unaware of themselves). These studies are published in peer-reviewed medical journals and all 400 provide evidence questioning the safety or efficacy of vaccinations. Here are just a few examples.

Few studies compare vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. One such was published just last year comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated 3 to 5 month olds in the West African country of Guinea-Bissau during the introduction of DPT and oral polio vaccine in the early 1980s. The study found the death rate of all causes was a shocking five times higher in the DPT vaccinated group (keep in mind that these African infants may be malnourished and in a previously unvaccinated population so the results may not translate to North America). Previously a live measles vaccine was withdrawn after clinical trials in West Africa found that it, along with DPT, increased mortality 33% in children 4-60 months of age.

Since 1986 the American Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has received over 500,000 reports of adverse reactions to vaccinations, with 30,000 added each year. A study of this data analyzed 38,000 severe reactions (involving hospitalization or death) and found a statistically significant increase in risk as the number of simultaneous vaccines given increased, from one right up to eight.

A CDC study found that the increased risk of autism for boys getting the MMR before age 36 months was 1.69 times higher than those who got their shot after 36 months; for African American boys the rate was 3.36 times higher. The data were manipulated to hide these findings and the study concluded there was no link.

To make informed decisions about your family’s health you need all the information. This book, Miller’s website, and other resources like the National Vaccine Information Center will complement the information you receive from your doctor or health nurse.

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

October 29, 2018

495 The Wakefield “Study” [29 October 2018]

Almost everyone has heard of Andrew Wakefield, the British gastroenterologist who wrote a fraudulent study in 1998 linking vaccines and autism. Wakefield was accused of falsifying data and having undisclosed financial conflicts of interest. In 2010 the Lancet retracted his paper and he lost his license to practice.

The conventional position is that vaccines have been thoroughly tested with no link ever found with any health problem including autism. The retraction of Wakefield’s study is considered further proof that any vaccine-autism link has been totally debunked.

But is all of that true?

First, the 1998 Lancet paper was not a “study”, it was a “case study”. A case study is merely a reporting of one or a group of patients with unusual symptoms. It does not make any claims or even propose a hypothesis. You can read the entire retracted paper here. The paper’s conclusion read “We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases [8 of 12], onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps and rubella immunization. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.

As to the fraud charges, David Lewis, a research microbiologist with the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington, reviewed Wakefield’s files regarding the Lancet paper and concluded that Wakefield had not intentionally misinterpreted the data, and that the BMJ’s fraud theory was “more tabloid news than science”. Wakefield has written a book (2010) called “Callous Disregard” in which he tells his side of the story.

In any case, the Wakefield paper is hardly the only evidence for vaccine safety concerns. A recent book by Neil Miller “Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccine Studies – 400 Important Scientific Papers Summarized for Parents and Researchers” summarizes research that you won’t find on the CDC website. Many show increasing risk of adverse reactions with vaccinations at an earlier age and with multiple vaccinations (both of which were a concern of Wakefield’s). We’ll look at some of these next week.

Whether you think Wakefield is a discredited fraud or a demonized hero, you can’t fault him for asking for more research into such an important health issue.

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

October 22, 2018

494 Nitrates and Mania [22 Oct 2018]

A connection between nitrates in processed meats and mania has been accidentally discovered. Mania is a psychiatric disorder associated with hyperactivity, euphoria and insomnia. The link appears to be the effect of nitrates on gut bacteria.

I have previously written about the connections between gut bacteria and brain function [#320 Our Gut Microbiome & Our Brain; #422 The Brain-Gut Axis; #425 Autism and Gut Bacteria].

The nitrate connection was discovered in a study by Johns Hopkins published this July in Molecular Psychiatry. The study of more than 1000 people found that those hospitalized for an episode of mania were 3.5 times more likely to have eaten nitrate-cured meats prior to hospitalization. This finding was statistically significant. No association with other foods or other psychiatric disorders were found.

Animal studies were conducted to follow up on this association. Rats fed the equivalent of a human eating a wiener or one stick of beef jerky daily developed hyperactivity and sleep disorders within two weeks. The control group, fed the same food but nitrate free exhibited normal behavior. Differences were found in the bacteria living in their intestines, and in molecular pathways known to be implicated in bipolar disorder. It would appear that the nitrates change the gut microbiome which affects brain function triggering mania in susceptible individuals.

The same research group had published a study in 2017 with the finding that a probiotic supplement reduced the incidence of delusions and hallucinations in schizophrenic patients. They were also less likely to be rehospitalized following a manic episode. The study was too small to recommend it as a treatment just yet, but it does provide more evidence for the influence of the gut microbiome on mental health.

One of the researchers, Emily Severance, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, wrote:
The mental health field is in desperate need of new treatments for psychiatric disorders… The tiny living organisms that make up the human microbiome and the overwhelming evidence for a gut-brain axis together represent a new frontier for schizophrenia research.
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 15, 2018

493 The Cochrane HPV Review [15 Oct 2018]

I have previously written about bias in health science: #204 Scientifically Proven? about the built in bias in medical research; #429 Confirmation Bias and #456 Cognitive Dissonance about everyone’s bias in dealing with new information that conflicts with our beliefs; and #383 Blocking the Truth and #469 CFS – The Cover-Up about the CDCs questionable actions. So I wasn’t that shocked to read the 2015 book Vaccine Whistleblower – Exposing Autism Research Fraud at the CDC by Kevin Barry. But I was really saddened to learn of recent occurrences at Cochrane.

Cochrane (formerly the Cochrane Collaboration) is a highly renowned network of scientists from around the world that publish hundreds of meta-analyses using the highest standards of evidence-based medicine. Cochrane has maintained its very high reputation for integrity – until now.

In May of this year Cochrane published a review of the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is associated with (but not proven to cause) cervical cancer. The review looked at 26 studies and gave the vaccine a strongly favorable report.

In July Peter Gøtzsche, a Danish researcher, Cochrane board member, and a founder of the Cochrane Collaboration in 1993, along with two colleagues wrote a critique of the review “The Cochrane HPV vaccine review was incomplete and ignored important evidence of bias” which was published in BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. Among the criticisms were: the review missed nearly half of the eligible studies; all of the studies selected used another vaccine as a placebo; women with a history of immunological or nervous system disorders were excluded (but are freely given the vaccine); all of the studies were industry funded; adverse effects were incompletely assessed; and serious conflicts of interest were not revealed.

The critique concluded “We do not find the Cochrane HPV vaccine review to be “Trusted Evidence” [Cochrane’s motto] as it was influenced by reporting bias and biased trial designs [and] … does not meet the standards for Cochrane reviews…”.

Instead of redoing the review to a higher standard, Gøtzsche was expelled from the board. In protest, four other scientists on the 13 man science board resigned (read their letter here).

Sadly it seems that, at least for certain health topics, there is no one left we can trust.

Sources: "Cochrane Board Expels Critic of Group's HPV Vaccine Review" Medscape 17 Sept 2018. If link doesn't work, copy and paste
"Leading Institution for Science-Based Health Advice Implodes After Industry Bias is Revealed" 3 Oct 2018

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 8, 2018

492 Serrapeptase Studies [8 Oct 2018]

I have previously written about the amazing properties of serrapeptase [#442]. A recent article by Robert Redfern in Naturally Health News #32 (pages 12-13) outlines published studies on 10 conditions which benefit from serrapeptase, summarized below.

• Alzheimer’s Disease. A 2013 animal study found that serrapeptase and nattokinase improved certain physiological markers for Alzheimer’s, showing promise as a therapeutic treatment.
• Breast Engorgement. A 1989 controlled study found that, compared to placebo, serrapeptase reduced breast engorgement by 85% vs 60% for “moderate” improvement, and 23% vs 3% for “marked” improvement.
• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A preliminary trial in India in 1999 showed significant improvement with 20 mg per day serrapeptase in 65% of 20 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome.
• Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis, Mucus Reduction, Sinusitis. A 1972 Japanese study found that serrapeptase helped clear mucus in patients with bronchial asthma. In a 1982 animal study Serrapeptase decreased viscosity and increased volume of mucus expelled. A 1990 study showed that serrapeptase reduces the viscosity of nasal mucus making it easier to expel.
• Inflammation. A 2008 animal study from India showed that serrapeptase is an effective treatment for inflammation and works synergistically with aspirin.
• Postoperative Swelling. A 2008 study of 24 adults having a molar extraction found that serrapeptase significantly reduced pain and swelling for 7 days post-surgery.
• Wound Healing. A 2011 animal study found that serrapeptase improved wound healing

The uses of serrapeptase fall into several broad categories. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. It thins mucus making it easier to expel from the lungs, bronchi and sinuses. In wound healing serrapeptase dissolves dead tissue and prevents adhesions from forming, thus improving range of motion during rehabilitation (perfect following a knee or hip replacement).

Another potential benefit of serrapeptase is as an anti-atherosclerotic for clearing blocked arteries, but there have been insufficient studies on its effectiveness to recommend it.

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 1, 2018

491 Healthy or High? 1 Oct 2018

On the same day later this month that recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada, health products with extracts of cannabis – including non-psychoactive hemp – will become prescription only.

Back in June, Health Canada issued a notice of intent to add phytocannabinoids to the Human and Veterinary Prescription Drug List (PDL) effective October 17, 2018. This means that all products containing CBDs (the pain-relieving, health-boosting ingredients) as well as THC (the psychoactive ingredient) will require a doctor’s prescription.

After that date, to legally use the health promoting hemp extracts you will need to go through your doctor and jump through all the hoops required to get a medical marijuana prescription. But that’s just a nuisance – the real problem is that the most effective products will likely no longer be available in Canada, either by prescription or at the local cannabis store.

The safest, most effective hemp extracts are made from hemp stalks by solvent-free raw CO2 extraction, are THC-free, and contain the full gamut of cannabinoids including the amazingly beneficial beta-caryophyllene (BCP) [see #461]. As a review, here are some of the benefits of cannabinoids:

• Modulates inflammation
• Boosts immune function
• Improves circulation
• Supports the nervous system
• Relieves stress and anxiety
• Promotes detoxification
• Improves neurological function and repairs nerve damage

I expect that the cannabis products that will be available through prescription will be solvent-extracted and contain concentrates of only the most common cannabinoids – cannabidiol (CBD) and/or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). And I strongly doubt that healthful extracts will be sold through the cannabis stores. I won’t go into the effects of smoking cannabis but I believe it’s not the safest way to obtain the benefits of the cannabinoids.

So our federal government in its “wisdom” is limiting the availability of health-promoting extracts while opening the door to the unhealthy practice of smoking pot. In short, we can get high but not healthy.

I have a limited supply of the hemp extract products on hand – stock up while you can. And if you think this policy is wrong-headed, tell your MP.

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

September 24, 2018

490 Liposomal Glutathione [24 Sept 2018]

The company that makes the liposomal vitamin C that I wrote about last week also makes several other liposomal products. The one that caught my attention is glutathione.

Back in 2015 I wrote several columns on glutathione: #304 Glutathione; #318 How to Raise Glutathione, #319 Increasing Glutathione – Who Can Benefit? Glutathione has several properties that make liposomal glutathione an amazing product.

Glutathione (GSH) is the most important antioxidant in our cells. It protects our mitochondrial and nuclear DNA from free radical damage, helps the liver detox chemicals, boosts the immune system, and slows or even reverses aging. Glutathione declines as we age and with illness. Anything we can do to increase our cellular glutathione levels will improve our health in many different ways.

The problem is in supplementing glutathione. If we take it orally, as in a capsule, it is broken down in our digestive tract before it can be absorbed. So we are left with supplementing the precursors (“building blocks” that make up a biochemical) and cofactors (nutrients required in the synthesis of a biochemical) [see #318], and hoping that our cells will use these nutrients to manufacture glutathione.

One of the most limiting precursors is the amino acid cysteine. Like glutathione, cysteine is broken down in the digestive tract so must be supplemented in one of two special forms: N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC); or cystine (occurring in specially prepared whey).

Liposomal glutathione avoids these problems entirely. As with vitamin C, the phospholipid balls protect the glutathione in the digestive tract and facilitate its absorption through the gut walls into the blood and from there into the cells.

Why is increasing glutathione so important? In his book “Master Defender” Dr. Thomas Levy summarizes the benefits this way: Research conclusively shows that boosting GSH levels can defend the body against free radicals, toxins, poisons, ionizing radiation, microorganisms (including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites), emotional stress, physical stress, and premature aging.

Both the liposomal Vitamin C and Glutathione come in a box of 30 packets. Each contains a thick viscous liquid which is squeezed into a small glass of water or flavored liquid and swallowed quickly. The taste is a little unpleasant but the results will be deliciously wonderful.

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

September 17, 2018

489 Liposomal Vitamin C [17 Sept 2018]

A problem with vitamin C is its low bioavailability. With oral supplements some of the vitamin C is broken down by stomach acids before it even reaches the small intestine. An active transporter is required to move vitamin C across the intestinal wall into the blood stream. This transporter is dose-dependent - at low doses of up to 180mg about 70-90% of vitamin C is absorbed into the bloodstream; at higher doses above 1000mg (1g) it is less than 50%. At doses between 5g and 10g daily, abdominal cramping and diarrhea may occur creating an upper limit to daily oral dosage of C. Even then, only a percentage of vitamin C is absorbed from the blood stream into the cells. This absorption into the cells is inhibited by high blood glucose, so is even more a problem for diabetics.

For certain therapeutic purposes much higher doses of vitamin C are required. One way around this is intravenous vitamin C (IVC). This is expensive and requires supervision by a trained health professional, so is used only for serious conditions like cancer [see #375], sepsis [#436], polio [#23], and other serious viral infections.

Now there is another form of vitamin C that allows high doses, is relatively inexpensive, and can be administered at home. It’s called liposomal vitamin C.

With liposomal C, the vitamin is encapsulated inside a tiny phospholipid ball which provides several advantages: 1) it protects the vitamin C from breakdown in the stomach; 2) it increases the absorption from the intestine into the blood stream; 3) it increases the absorption into the cells; and 4) it does so very quickly. Nearly all of the liposomal C ingested makes its way quickly into the cells where it is needed. In this regard liposomal C is superior to IVC which increases C in blood plasma but then relies on transporters to get it into the cells.

The phospholipid coating itself is used by the body to repair or build new cell membranes. It is because the coating is similar to cell membranes that it passes quickly and easily through the intestinal wall and then again through the cell membranes into the cells without the need for active transporters.

The big advantage of liposomal vitamin C is that it allows you to take, and absorb, a high dose of C when you need it, without experiencing intestinal discomfort. It’s perfect for fighting a cold or the flu, if you’re a smoker or subject to second-hand smoke, if you are diabetic, or for those days when you're under a lot of stress.

I have just found a Canadian supplier so will soon have it on the shelf. It comes in packets of 1000mg which you add to water and drink. I’ll be the first to try it and let you know what it does for me.

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

September 10, 2018

488 Exogenous Ketones [10 Sept 2018]

A few weeks ago I wrote about the recent popularity of ketogenic diets [#482 30 July 2018]. These are very low carb diets with either low dietary fat for weight loss or higher dietary fat for other purposes. With both types of ketogenic diets, the main fuel burned for energy is fat – either your own stored fat or fat you eat. The metabolic state of burning fat for fuel is known as ketosis because the fat is first converted to ketones which are then converted to ATP energy in the cells’ mitochondria.

More recent is the promotion of ketone supplements – called exogenous ketones as opposed to endogenous ketones produced within the body. These supplements are purported to have similar benefits to ketogenic diets, but without the dieting. The theory sounds attractive but I’m not buying it. I believe it is the diet, with the reduction of carbs leading to a reduction in blood insulin levels, which provides most of the benefits. The ketones are just a byproduct of the process.

There may however be some benefits from ketone supplements. In a post on the blog The Diabetes Coach, titled “Are Exogenous Ketones Beneficial for Blood Sugar?” Dr Brian Mowll suggests that ketones enhance insulin sensitivity. He cites a small study from Oxford which showed lower glucose spikes with an oral glucose tolerance test for the group who had consumed a ketone drink.

But another ketogenic diet study, with obese diabetics, that Mowll cites as support that ketones increase insulin sensitivity did not include a ketone supplement. There is no evidence that it was the ketones, not the ketogenic diet itself, which provided the benefits.

In any case, if weight loss is the goal, adding extra fat or taking ketone supplements will only reduce the amount of body fat burned. And that, after all, is the whole idea.

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

September 3, 2018

487 Fitbit Data Study [3 Sept 2018]

Do you wear a Fitbit? One of those wrist bands that records your heart rate, activity and sleep? Millions of people do and Fitbit recently looked at 150 billion hours of data to see what it could tell us about our health. Since this only includes people who own a Fitbit, the data may not apply to everyone. And relax, the data is anonymous – the researchers know your location, gender, age, height, weight, activity level, sleep habits, and continuous pulse rate, but not your name.

From previous studies we know that resting heart rate (RHR, measured in beats per minute) is a significant measure of our overall health. Most people fall in the range of 60 to 100, with athletes 40 to 50. The Copenhagen Heart Study found that, compared to someone with an RHR of under 50, your risk of death from heart disease is twice as high if your RHR is 80 and three times as high if over 90. A study from China found that for every RHR increase of 10, the risk of developing diabetes increased 23%.

This is what the Fitbit study learned:
• As we age, our RHR increases to a peak about age 40-50, then continuously declines from there for unknown reasons.
• On average, women have a higher rate than men, by 5 beats at age 20, and 2 to 3 beats from age 35-80. This is because women have smaller hearts.
• The optimal Body Mass Index (BMI) for heart function seems to be 20 to 25. RHR increases with increasing BMI above or below that range.
• RHR decreases with exercise (no surprise). After 300 minutes a week (an hour daily for 5 days), however, the decrease is small.
• The reduction in RHR from exercise declines with age. Increasing activity by 3 hours a week will lower your RHR by about 7 beats in your 30s, 40s and 50s, but only by 4 beats in your 60s and 3 beats in your 70s. Still, this shows that getting more active is beneficial at any age.
• Sleep lowers your RHR but only to an average of 7 hours after which it rises again. So get your sleep, then get out of bed and get moving!
• There are other unknown factors affecting heart rate. For the same activity level, the average RHR in the USA is 3 beats higher than Italy, and Canada is 2.5 beats higher than Ireland. Perhaps it’s our junk food diet?

See "Fitbit's 150 billion hours of heart data reveal secrets about health" by David Pogue, yahoo Finance, 27 Aug 2018 for more details and graphs that reveal these trends.

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

August 27, 2018

486 Keeping It Off [27 August 2018]

Most dieters will agree that it’s easier to lose weight than to keep it off. Once we have achieved our goal weight we tend to revert to our old eating habits and the pounds start creeping back on. Remember, weight gain is normal and natural. Here are some strategies for maintaining our desired weight:
Have a Plan – just like in the weight-losing phase, having a plan directs and motivates us to achieve our new objective.
Accountability – keep in close contact with your coach through the first year post diet – weekly the first few months, then monthly for the rest of the year. Then check in a few times a year as needed.
Journaling – several studies show that keeping a food journal increases our rate of successfully keeping the weight off. It increases our awareness of what we are eating; helps identify problem habits, and creates accountability (even if just to our self).
Exercise daily – with a ketogenic diet, exercise is not necessary for losing fat weight, but it is very important in maintaining our weight. Resistance training exercises (lifting weights) increases muscle mass, further improving our body fat ratio.
Choose Healthy Foods – strictly limit simple carbs; choose healthy fats; eat sufficient high quality protein (more on this another week)
Proper Food Combinations – separate carb-rich and fat-rich meals
Some Quick Tips
o Start the day with a hearty breakfast.
o Don’t shop on an empty stomach.
o Eat mindfully, especially snacking.
o Control food portions; resist second helpings.
o Hot meals are more filling than cold.
o Stay hydrated – drink at least 2 liters of water daily.
o Use alcohol with moderation
o Get enough sleep.
Reward yourself – each month you meet your maintenance target, treat yourself with something non-fattening like a night out, massage or pedicure.
Reboot your metabolism for a few weeks every year with the ketogenic diet to return to your desired weight.

Further reading:
"How to keep weight off forever" WebMD
"Ten Habits of People Who Lose Weight and Keep it Off"

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

August 20, 2018

485 Inherited Stress [20 Aug 2018]

There’s an old joke that insanity is hereditary – you get it from your children. What parent hasn’t at some point exclaimed “You kids are driving me crazy!” Less funny perhaps, but more fascinating is what scientists have learned recently about heredity and health. Dr. Emeran Mayer, devotes Chapter 5 of his 2016 book “The Mind-Gut Connection” to the effects of early life experiences on gut-brain communication.

Stressful family events during childhood, in the womb, or even prior to conception, can affect our health in surprising ways: lowering our tolerance to stress; increasing our risk for anxiety, depression, digestive disorders like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), diarrhea or constipation; and causing unhealthy changes to our gut microbiome. Babies born to highly stressed mothers have lower birth weights and are more prone to infections. Brain scans of adults with significant adverse childhood experiences (death of a parent, divorce, abuse, etc.) show abnormalities in brain structure and function.

In animal studies baby rats who were neglected or whose mothers were stressed, developed health problems similar to anxiety, depression, and addiction, while the nurtured pups developed into relaxed normal adult rats. The nurtured pups grew up to be nurturing mothers while the neglected pups became neglecting mothers. This wasn’t just learned behavior – it was hard wired into their hormonal and neurological systems during infancy.

These changes can be passed on to the second and third generation by a process called epigenetics [see #269 May 2014]. Epigenetics is the study of markers that turn genes on or off while leaving them intact. If this happens to reproductive cells, these markers can be passed on to your children.

How can we apply this information to improve our children’s health? First, minimize maternal stress during pregnancy and early childhood (easier said than done – refer back to the first line!). This is where Dad’s support is critical. Secondly, provide a loving secure home for the kids from birth through their teens. Thirdly, ensure the children’s microbiomes are as healthy as possible (more on that in a future article). Finally, don’t blame yourself for your kids’ health problems – blame your parents! [smile!]

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

August 13, 2018

484 Our Complex Gut [13 August 2018]

In grade school health we were taught that our digestive system was a fairly simple “food processing machine” comprised of a handful of organs. Food entered at one end, a variety of digestive juices were added along the way, nutrients were extracted, and the leftover waste expelled out the other end. Scientists are just now discovering how complex our digestive system really is.

Dr. Emeran Mayer in his 2016 book “The Mind-Gut Connection – how the hidden conversation in our bodies impacts our mood, our choices, and our overall health” shares what cutting-edge science has learned about the connections between our gut, our brain, and our microbiome. This adds to previous articles I wrote about the brain-gut axis: #320 in May 2015 and #422 in May 2017.

First, the gut has its own nervous system, sometimes called the “second brain”. The enteric nervous system (ENS), as it is properly named, rivals the spinal cord for number of nerve cells – some 50-100 million. The ENS makes the gut the largest sensory organ of the body – covering an area the size of a basketball court.

The gut contains more immune cells than in all the rest of the body. There is a good reason for this – the gut is exposed to more pathogenic microbes than any other system. It can identify and destroy a pathogenic species out of the approximately 1,000 species that may exist in our gut.

The gut contains more endocrine cells than in all the other endocrine glands put together – adrenals, thyroid, pituitary, etc. The gut produces and stores 95% of the body’s serotonin, the neurotransmitter that controls our mood, sleep, appetite, and pain sensitivity.

Then there is the microbiome. Technological advances in DNA testing over the past few decades has allowed us to identify the thousands of microbial species that typically inhabit our body. There are about as many microbial cells in and on our body as there are human cells (if you include the red blood cells). By weight our microbiome is more massive than our brain. And since there are over 1,000 species, their collective genes outnumber our own a hundred fold.

These gut systems communicate with the brain in different ways. The large vagus nerve directly connects the gut and the brain. The hormones and neurotransmitters produced by the cells in the gut wall, and the metabolites produced by the microbes, can travel by the bloodstream to the brain. Mayer calls this complex three-way communication system the “Gut-Microbiome-Brain Axis”.

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

August 6, 2018

483 The Placebo Effect [6 Aug 2018]

In the first few chapters of her 2016 book “Cure – a Journey into the Science of Mind over Body”, Jo Marchant explores the placebo effect.

The placebo effect is stronger and more widespread than I had realized. An enlightening example was the 1996 discovery that the enzyme secretin dramatically improved some autistic children, which when tested (in 1999) was found to work no better than a placebo. It did work, but so did the placebo (a saline injection); both groups improved significantly.

Another example is the surgical technique vertebroplasty (essentially gluing cracked vertebrae) which in a controlled study was found to be no better than placebo (a sham surgery). Again both groups improved significantly in mobility and pain relief.

So the placebo effect is more than just random improvement – there is a measurable beneficial effect due to patients’ expectations. And studies are discovering physiological changes in the body in response to these expectations which likely account for most of the favorable results. Some examples: a Parkinson’s drug placebo increases dopamine production; and a placebo pain killer increases production of endorphins (our body’s natural painkillers). Patients aren’t imagining the improvements – they are real.

The benefits of placebos are, however, limited to effects the body can control. A placebo can reduce pain, anxiety and depression, improve sleep, and lower blood pressure, but can’t replace insulin, shrink a tumor or lower cholesterol.

The author believes that any benefits from many alternative medicines and treatments like homeopathics and Reiki are due to the placebo effect. But she also reports that half of 53 surgical procedures studied in 2014, and most antidepressant drugs like Prozac, work little better than placebo. Valium for example only works if the patients know they are taking it. These drugs are still being marketed, and vertebroplasty surgery is still being performed. The author even proposes prescribing placebos, with the patients’ knowledge, in certain cases.

I’d love to see more controlled studies of natural products to learn how well they really work compared to conventional treatments. But I would still sell products that proved no better than placebo – if the customer asked for them and it was safe to do so. Why not harness the power of the mind to improve our 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.

July 30, 2018

482 Ketogenic Diets [30 July 2018]

Ketogenic diets (keto for short) have become popular lately for weight loss and other reasons. I have run a weight loss clinic based on a 30 year researched, medically designed, ketogenic protocol for eight years now. While it’s possible to do a ketogenic diet on your own, there are significant challenges to consider.

The objective of the diet is to put your body into a state of ketosis in which fat is burned for energy instead of carbs. This is achieved by keeping total dietary carbs strictly below about 40g per day. Any more than that is just a low carb diet, not a ketogenic diet, and will prevent fat burning while starving your body for calories. See #290 “Low Calorie Balanced Diet” Oct 2014.

Getting adequate protein without the carbs is a challenge. Ideally we need 0.5g of protein for each pound of lean body weight. For me with a healthy weight of 200 lbs my protein intake should be at least 100g.

Another challenge is getting nutrients like vitamins and certain minerals. To remain in ketosis, whole food groups must be eliminated including dairy, fruits, grains and many vegetables. Supplementation of vitamins, calcium, magnesium and potassium is a must. For this reason, a ketogenic diet is not recommended for long term, unless designed for a medical reason such as epilepsy, cancer or Alzheimer’s. For weight loss, stick to it to reach your goal weight, then transition to a healthy maintenance diet.

Other challenges you may face while on a ketogenic diet include: temporary hormone changes affecting menstruation, hair loss, or unwanted hair growth; fatigue from low blood pressure or low blood sugar; headaches from low blood pressure or electrolyte imbalances; and the need to see your doctor to periodically adjust dosage of medications for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.

Our weight loss clinic can help you with all these challenges. It provides a wide variety of low carb, high-quality protein, foods and lists of vegetables to use and avoid. We monitor your weight loss and lean loss weekly to ensure that you are in ketosis and are not burning muscle. And we can guide you through any problems that may arise along the way. There are many benefits to a ketogenic diet besides fat loss, such as normalization of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and reduction in inflammation, as long as it is done correctly and safely.

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

July 23, 2018

481 Chronic Fatigue – another perspective [23 July 2018]

Back in April of this year I wrote about a possible viral cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as described in a book by Judy Mikovits called “Plague – One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”. Another book, “Cure – a Journey into the Science of Mind over Body” by Jo Marchant (2016) explores the placebo effect and other examples of the mind controlling the body. One chapter approaches CFS from this perspective.

Regular fatigue, as experienced by athletes and mountain climbers, has a strong psychological factor. The old theories that fatigue occurs when the muscles are depleted of oxygen or flooded with lactic acid have been disproven. A new theory proposes that a “central governor” in the brain protects us by convincing us to quit while we still have some energy in reserve for a possible emergency.

Applied to CFS, the theory suggests that some trigger (often a viral infection) messes up the central governor’s settings, leaving the victims feeling too fatigued to do much of anything. A series of clinical studies, followed by a larger controlled study in 2011, found that graded exercise therapy (GET) to slowly increase activity, and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to change the patients thinking about their condition, were both moderately helpful in reducing fatigue and improving disability scores. A total of 641 CFS patients, divided into four groups, were followed for a year. The pacing therapy group had no better results than the control which got routine medical care. After one year 22% of the patients in the CBT and GET groups had recovered, compared with 8% of the pacing therapy and control groups.

The reaction to this study was immediate and furious by CFS patient groups who rejected the implication that their condition was “all in their head”. A later re-analysis of the data by other scientists found the recovery rates to be less than 5% for all groups and not statistically different.

The original study’s senior author, Peter White of London, England, sees the problem as the current mindset that illnesses are either biological or psychological, when in fact there should be no such divide. The mind strongly affects the body and, as we have seen in the past few articles, biochemistry definitely affects the mind. White argues: CFS isn’t either biological or psychological; it’s both.

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

July 16, 2018

480 Alzheimer’s [16 July 2018]

Bear with me for one more article from William J. Walsh’s book Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain. Walsh devotes Chapter 9 to Alzheimer’s disease.

Walsh first describes the discovery of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and outlines the four stages from Early Warning Signs to Advanced AD, and explains the two main types – Familial and Late-Onset. He comments on the role of genetics and epigenetics – certain gene mutations significantly increase the risk, but not to 100%.

Walsh then discusses risk factors including age (more than 90% of cases are diagnosed after age 70); head injuries (have you seen the movie “Concussion”?); education (higher education lowers the risk); mental and physical activity (both lower the risk); alcohol use (a glass or two of wine lowers the risk, excess use increases it); toxic metal exposure (particularly mercury), and deficiencies of zinc and certain vitamins.

Walsh then outlines the various causation theories for Alzheimer’s: low acetylcholine activity; amyloid plaque formation; tau protein tangles; inflammation; oxidative stress; and metal metabolism imbalances. As with depression, schizophrenia and autism, Walsh favors the nutrient imbalance theory.

In a 2003 study of metal concentrations in brain tissue, Walsh found very high copper/zinc ratios in AD brains but not in the controls. Australian research showed that excess copper increases beta amyloid plaque formation. The two enzymes that manage copper – metallothionein (MT) and Cu/Zn SOD – are both depleted in AD brains. In addition to regulating copper levels, MT helps keep toxic metals out of the brain and acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting the brain from free radical damage. MT’s functions require the cofactors glutathione, selenium and zinc.

Walsh has patented a protocol for promoting metallothionein production in Autism and Alzheimer’s. The formulation includes 22 biochemical factors known to enhance the production and function of metallothionein. About 70 of the first 100 AD patients he has put on the program reported improvements in memory and stabilization of progression for several years. This is more than any other treatment for AD can claim, however the protocol is still considered unproven until larger controlled studies can be done.

Here is a short YouTube interview with Dr. Walsh on the topic of Alzheimer's and nutrition.

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

July 9, 2018

479 Biochemistry of Behavior [9 July 2018]

In his book Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain, William J. Walsh devotes Chapter 8 to behavior disorders and ADHD.

Walsh believes that progress in criminal rehabilitation has been hampered by the belief that violent criminals are the result of poverty, child abuse, bad parenting and broken homes. He writes “most children with terrible behavior were born with chemical imbalances that predispose them to this conduct. Flawed life circumstances can aggravate this condition, but the underlying cause is usually bad brain chemistry.

Walsh’s introduction to the biochemistry of behaviors began in the 1970s while studying ex-convicts with a history of violence. He and his colleagues discovered a high incidence of trace mineral abnormalities in the violent group, especially the copper/zinc ratio. Carl Pfeiffer learned of this research and tested 500 people with behavioral disorders at his Princeton, NJ center. Pfeiffer found a high incidence of high blood histamine, high urine pyrroles, and zinc deficiency. Pfeiffer developed a nutrient protocol to normalize the chemistry but found that adult criminals were, as Walsh put it, “prone to noncompliance”. He had much better success in treating children with behavioral problems.

Walsh furthered this research over the next three decades, testing 10,000 patients with behavioral disorders and 5,600 with ADHD. He found chemical abnormalities in 94% of the behavior disorder group and 86% of the ADHD group. There was a strong correlation between certain biochemical imbalances and specific behavioral disorders. For example 90% of “Intermittent explosive disorder” children had a very high Cu/Zn ratio along with high urine pyrroles.

Walsh found that the three major subtypes of ADHD also have a specific chemical signature. For example most “Predominantly impulsive and hyperactive” children have a copper overload and zinc deficiency with low dopamine and high norepinephrine and adrenalin activity. Drugs like Ritalin effectively increase dopamine, but nutrient therapy to correct the copper/zinc imbalance may be as effective with fewer side effects.

Walsh sums it up: “The best way to reduce crime and violence is to identify children with antisocial tendencies and to provide effective treatment before their lives are ruined.”

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

July 2, 2018

478 Autism [2 July 2018]

William J. Walsh devotes Chapter 7 of his book Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain to autism.

Two factors point to an epigenetic cause of autism. There is a definite genetic factor since the probability of a second twin having autism if the first one does is 60-90% for identical twins but less than 10% for fraternal twins. It’s not purely genetic, however, or the risk would be 100% for identical twins.

Secondly the increase in rates – from 3 per 10,000 in the 1940’s and 50’s, to more than 1 per 100 now – is too rapid to have a purely genetic cause. Improved diagnosis cannot explain all of the increase since it has continued to increase after 1990 when autism became well recognized. Furthermore, until 1960 nearly all cases exhibited symptoms from birth, but now about 80% are regressive where the child develops normally to age 1.5 or 2 with a sudden decline in functioning.

There must be some environmental change involved. Autism can best be explained by an epigenetic error during gestation which predisposes the child to autism, plus some environmental insult (the technical term) by age 3 which triggers the regression. As Walsh puts it: In essence, autism appears to be a gene programming disorder that develops in undermethylated persons who experience environmental insults that produce overwhelming oxidative stress.

Like schizophrenia and depression, autism has distinct chemical abnormalities. These include: deficiencies of zinc, magnesium, selenium, vitamins A and B6; elevated copper, mercury, lead and other toxic metals; elevated urinary pyrroles; undermethylation; and low glutathione levels. Gastro-intestinal disorders are very common, usually with dysbiosis (unhealthy gut bacteria).

Walsh rejects the belief that autism is incurable. In his experience, aggressive bionutrient therapy by age 4 provides the most complete recovery, but progress can be made at any age (he reported a 17 year old girl who started speaking after two months of treatment). Without treatment the conditions often remain permanent and very disabling. The objective of bionutrient therapy is to restore the biochemical imbalances, reduce oxidative stress, and heal the digestive tract. Again this therapy is best done under the supervision of experienced professionals.

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

June 25, 2018

477 Depression Biotypes [25 June 2018]

In his book Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain, William J. Walsh describes the five major depression biotypes that he discovered over 20 years collecting data on nearly 3,000 depressive patients. Like the schizophrenia biotypes discussed last week, each depression biotype has its own unique biochemistry, neurotransmitter imbalances, symptoms and characteristics. Walsh also outlines the nutrient therapy protocols he developed to correct the imbalances.

Undermethylated depression (38%) is characterized by reduced serotonin and dopamine activity. Patients tend to be high achievers and perfectionists, with a high tendency to suicide. SSRI meds offer some improvement. Beneficial nutrients include SAMe and methionine. Avoid folate, choline, and certain other nutrients.

Folate deficiency depression (20%) is characterized with elevated serotonin and dopamine. Patients tend to also have anxiety and ADD, and frequently have food and chemical sensitivities. They are intolerant to SSRI antidepressants (sometimes suicidally), antihistamines, SAMe and methionine. They improve with folic acid and certain other nutrients, and need to avoid tryptophan, 5HTP and some others.

Copper overload depression (hypercupremia) (17%) is characterized by elevated norepinephrine and reduced dopamine activity. These are usually women, often with a history of post-partum depression. They may also have anxiety, sleep disorder, childhood hyperactivity, tinnitus and estrogen intolerance (birth control pills, chocolate worsens depression). Nutrient therapy includes zinc, manganese, and several antioxidant nutrients.

Pyrrole disorder depression (15%) is characterized by reduced serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Depression is often severe with anxiety, low stress tolerance and extreme mood swings. Improvements are rapid with nutrient therapy including B6 or P5P, zinc, selenium, and manganese.

Toxic metal overload depression (5%) weakens the blood-brain barrier, disables brain antioxidants, and damages the myelin sheath. Nutrient treatment may include EDTA chelation and supplementation of vitamins and minerals which will depend on the metals involved, usually lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

The takeaway lesson here is that there are several conditions usually lumped together as “depression”, each with a different cause. It is critical to know the biotype because the commonly prescribed serotonin enhancing drugs work well on a few types, don’t work on a few others, and can be fatal for another. A good case history and a few blood tests can determine which group a depressive patient is in and therefore which therapy protocol is most likely to benefit.

The second lesson is that there are nutrient therapies that effectively correct the imbalances without the usual side effects of the psychiatric drugs.

Again, like with the schizophrenias, diagnosis and nutrient therapy should be undertaken only under the supervision of an experienced professional.

Next week: autism.

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

June 18, 2018

476 The Schizophrenias [18 June 2018]

In his book Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain, William J. Walsh refines Carl Pfeiffer’s biotypes of schizophrenia, and describes each in some detail as to symptoms, chemistry, and their nutrient therapy.

Walsh’s schizophrenia biotypes are (with % of occurrence):
• Overmethylation (42%)
• Undermethylation (28%)
• Pyrrole disorder (20%)
• Gluten intolerance (4%) – see Grain & Our Brain [#240 Oct 2013]
• Other (6%) – porphyria, cerebral allergy, polydipsia, thyroid deficiency; homocysteinuria and drug-induced.

The overmethylated biotype is the most common. It is characterized by auditory hallucinations, severe anxiety, paranoia, hyperactivity and depression, and is often diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. Signs include elevated serum copper, low blood histamine, and low basophil count; with high dopamine and norepinephrine activity. Patients often have an adverse reaction to SSRI drugs or SAMe, but improve with benzodiazepines and lithium. Biochemical therapy includes zinc, manganese and vitamins B10 (folic acid), B3 (niacin), B6, B12, C and E.

The undermethylated biotype is characterized by delusions, OCD, high anxiety, and catatonic behavior, and is usually diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder or delusional disorder. Signs include low methyl/folate ratio, high histamine (subject to seasonal allergies), high basophil count, and low SAMe/SAH ratio; with low activity of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Patients respond well to SSRIs and antihistamines but not to benzodiazepines or folic acid. Biochemical therapy includes SAMe, methionine, calcium, magnesium, zinc, serine and vitamins A, B6, C, D and E.

The pyrrole disorder biotype (also called “Mauve” from the purple color of urine) is characterized by extreme mood swings, severe anxiety, low tolerance to stress, light or noise, and a combination of delusions and auditory hallucinations. A common diagnosis is rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. Signs include very high pyrroles in the urine, severe deficiencies of zinc and B6, deficiencies of biotin and arachidonic acid, and depleted glutathione. Patients exhibit severe oxidative stress and low activity of glutamate and GABA. Biochemical therapy includes zinc, B6, and evening primrose oil.

Biochemical therapy involves high doses of certain minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients, and is different for each biotype. Diagnosis and treatment should only be undertaken by an experienced professional.

Next week – biochemical classification of depression.

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

June 11, 2018

475 Biochemical Imbalances in the Brain [11 June 2018]

In his book Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain, William J. Walsh stated that he considers the greatest achievement of Dr. Carl Pfeiffer to be his discovery of different biochemical types of schizophrenia, each with distinctive symptoms and blood and urine chemistries. Pfeiffer had also developed effective nutritional therapies for each biotype. Over the last three decades Walsh refined these biotypes and their biochemical therapies.

Mental health depends on a balance of the neurotransmitters, especially serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Their concentration is largely regulated by special large molecules in the cell membrane called transporters which allow the neurotransmitters to be reused, a process called reuptake. The synthesis of transporters is in turn regulated by the relative amounts of methyl (CH3) and acetyl (CH3CO) attached to the DNA of the respective genes. The methylation and acetylation processes are strongly influenced by the presence of certain nutrients: folate (B10) and niacin (B3) promote acetylation (which enhances gene expression) while methionine and SAMe promote methylation (which inhibits gene expression). Walsh writes:
“After 25 years of searching, we finally have a convincing explanation for the apparent effectiveness of the folate, niacin, and methylation therapies developed by Abram Hoffer and Carl Pfeiffer”.
In addition to over or under-methylation, Walsh observed other biochemical imbalances that occur in unusually high frequencies in many completely different mental disorders: copper overload, B6 deficiency, zinc deficiency, oxidative stress overload, amino acid imbalances, essential fatty acid imbalances (especially DHA deficiency), and toxic overload (heavy metals, pesticides). He realized that what these had in common was playing a role in the synthesis or function of neurotransmitters.

The levels of these nutrients are well-regulated for most people, but genetic or epigenetic abnormalities can result in a deficiency or overload. Walsh found that providing the missing nutrients in appropriate doses, while slower to take effect, worked as well or better than psychiatric drugs but without the undesirable side effects.

Next week – the schizophrenias.

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

June 4, 2018

474 Biochemical Therapy [4 June 2018]

In previous articles on nutrition and mental health [#297 8 Dec 2014 “Mental Health Revolution”; #300 5 Jan 2015 “Medicate or Nutrate?”; and #317 4 May 2015 “Nutritional Psychiatry”] I argued that it was time for another revolution in mental health treatment. A recent book by William J. Walsh (revised 2014), Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain, indicates that this revolution is well on its way.

Walsh worked closely with Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, a pioneer in nutritional treatment of mental illness and the first to recognize that there were different biochemical types of schizophrenia (in my personal reference library I have a 1970 copy of Pfeiffer’s book The Schizophrenias, Ours to Conquer). Walsh went on to refine both the diagnosis and nutritional treatment (which he calls biochemical therapy) of mental illness based on recent research. His book Nutrient Power summarizes many decades of research and tens of thousands of cases.

Brain biochemistry is highly complex. More than 100 different neurotransmitters are active in the brain, and mental health depends on their proper function at the nerve synapses. Each neurotransmitter depends on numerous nutrients for its synthesis and function. Special proteins called transporters embedded in the nerve cell membranes allow the neurotransmitters to be reused. Epigenetics – inheritable environmental factors which control gene expression – plays a critical role in the production of neurotransmitters and transporters. The presence or absence of certain nutrients or toxins turns on or off the genes which produce these critical proteins.

Walsh cautions readers not to try this therapy without supervision by an experienced medical professional. There are many different biochemical imbalances which cause mental illnesses, and specific tests and history analysis are required to determine which are involved and therefore which treatment to use. Too much of a nutrient, for example folate, can be as harmful as not enough. In Walsh’s words:
The challenge is to carefully identify the specific nutrient overloads and deficiencies possessed by an individual and to provide treatments that normalize blood and brain levels of these chemicals with rifle-shot precision. This is the essence of biochemical therapy.
I find this book fascinating and will share more from it in coming weeks.

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 28, 2018

473 The Missing Vitamins [28 May 2018]

We all know about vitamins A, C, D, E and K and the B vitamin family of B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin). Did you ever wonder what happened to the missing vitamins F through J and Bs 4, 8, 10 & 11?

The early and mid 20th century was an exciting time for nutritional science. New vitamins and their deficiency diseases were being discovered every decade. The deficiency diseases, like scurvy and beriberi, were, of course, known for centuries but their causes remained elusive. Part of the problem was that a disease caused by NOT eating something was unheard of. The discovery of microbes as a cause of disease was well accepted by then (although that too was a hard sell in its day – see my story about Semmelweis, #021 July 2009) and all diseases were thought to be caused either by a pathogen or a toxin.

By 1912 (the year biochemist Casimir Funk coined the term “vitamine”) the idea was just starting to become accepted that scurvy, rickets, beriberi and pellagra were each caused by a deficiency of some unknown substance. The next few decades led to the discovery and naming, in alphabetical order of discovery, of the current family of 13 vitamins. To be classed as a vitamin it must meet two criteria: 1) be essential for health; and 2) not be synthesized in the body so must be obtained through diet.

The missing letters and numbers are compounds that were initially thought to be a new vitamin but turned out not to be. Vitamin F turned out to be essential fatty acids which were given their own nutrient class. Vitamin G was vitamin B2; and vitamin H was B7. Vitamin I was a nickname for the drug ibuprofen, so was passed over in the naming sequence. Vitamins J and L were found to be synthesized by the body. Vitamin M turned out to be B9. Vitamins O, P, S and U are all also synthesized by the body. Similarly vitamins B4, B8, B10 and B11 were also disqualified from vitamin status due to synthesis in the body.

To complete this discussion, pseudovitamins are a small group of compounds that act like vitamins but don’t meet the strict definition. This group includes inositol, choline, lipoic acid and PABA. A good B complex supplement will include all or most of these.

Source: Accidental Medical Discoveries – How Tenacity and Pure Dumb Luck Changed the World. Robert W Winters, MD, 2016

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 21, 2018

472 Preserving Muscle [21 May 2018]

A few weeks ago [#470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly] I mentioned several supplements that help preserve or rebuild muscle in the elderly. Let’s take a closer look at these.

The first is protein powder. Whey works best and is fine for nearly everyone even those with dairy issues. A whey protein will increase muscle, improve liver and kidney function, and increase white blood cell and lymphocyte count (reducing colds and flu infections by half).

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are special amino acids that do not require processing in the liver so can be used without stressing the liver or kidneys. They are particularly beneficial in preventing muscle loss in elderly or ill people and in enhancing healing of injuries including burns. BCAAs are available in tablet or powder form.

We usually think of creatine as a supplement for athletes and body builders but it is also beneficial for maintaining muscle in the elderly. Dr. Philip Rouchotas believes everyone over 70 should be supplementing with creatine daily. It will even prevent muscle atrophy in a limb that is in a cast from a fracture. Creatine is especially beneficial for neurodegenerative diseases. It will slow the progression and improve survival in ALS, and in Parkinson’s will improve upper body strength, improve mood, and most significantly slow the requirement for increasing doses of dopamine. A low dose of 2.5 g per day is perfectly safe for the kidneys.

Exercise, both aerobic and resistance, is essential in building and maintaining muscle, but without the above nutrients will not be nearly as effective. In one study adding whey protein doubled the amount of muscle gain from resisted exercise. Exercise of course has many other benefits which I have previously discussed including cancer prevention [#361] and increased life expectancy [#420].

But building muscle is only half the equation of strength. The other half is energy, which is produced in the mitochondria of our cells. B vitamins (or a good multi), coenzyme Q10, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine will all improve energy in the elderly; see my articles on mitochondria for more on these.

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 14, 2018

471 The Mediterranean Diet [14 May 2018]

In two recent articles [#464 Heart Health Protocol and #470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly] I mentioned that the Mediterranean Diet is the basis of the protocols recommended by Dr. Philip Rouchotas ND of the Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario. Let’s examine it more closely this week.

While potential benefits of what came to be known as the Mediterranean Diet (MD) were reported in the 1960s and 70s, it was the Lyon Diet Heart Study, published in 1999, that brought it widespread recognition. This study followed 605 people with existing heart disease for 4 years, comparing the Mediterranean Diet with the American Heart Association’s then-recommended STEP 1 diet. The MD group had 56% lower risk of all cause death and 67% reduction in risk of cardiovascular-related complications. In comparison, beta blocker drugs reduce all-cause mortality by 22% and fish oil by 25%.

Surprisingly it wasn’t until 2013 that the Mediterranean Diet was tested for prevention of cardiovascular disease in the general population. This study published in the New England J of Med in 2013, followed 7,447 people randomized to two variations of the Mediterranean Diet and a control for 5 years. The MD groups had 28% and 30% lower risk of major cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke).

So what is the Mediterranean Diet? It is usually shown in the form of a pyramid (click here or drop in and ask me for a printed copy). At the base is physical activity and enjoyment of food with others – a great start!

Next is plant foods. Daily, each meal should be based around a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. Olive oil and nuts are an important source of fats.

The third step is fish and seafood to be eaten often, at least twice a week.

Fourth is poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt, in moderate portions, daily to weekly.

Finally, at the top is red meat and sweets, to be used sparingly.

Drinking sufficient water is important. Wine is allowed in moderation.

The Mediterranean Diet is very general, so can be customized to your family’s tastes and preferences. In my opinion the significant lessons are: eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains and seeds; replace most red meat with fish and seafood; and restrict sugar and other refined carbs.

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 7, 2018

470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly [7 May 2018]

In a recent webinar Dr. Philip Rouchotas ND of the Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario, shared his nutritional protocol for his elderly patients, especially those with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, MS, and Parkinson’s, and those with mild cognitive impairment or traumatic brain injury. He believes most people over 60, and everyone over 70, will experience rapid and significant benefits from this program.

The base of the program is the Mediterranean Diet (more on this another week) along with physical exercise (aerobic and resistance) and mental exercise (chess, bridge, video games).

Step 1 deals with nutritional deficiencies which are “epidemic” among North American seniors for three main reasons: loss of appetite (they eat less); change in appetite (they prefer saltier, fattier, less nutrient-dense foods); and digestive impairment (they absorb fewer nutrients). Step 1 supplements:
• A good multivitamin with trace minerals and activated B’s
• Whey protein (30g) – prevents muscle loss; halves number of viral infections (colds)
• Creatine (2.5g) – prevents muscle loss (even while in a cast); with Parkinson’s slows requirement for increasing dopamine dose
• Fish Oil (1000-2000mg total EPA + DHA) – a 2:1 ratio works best

After a few months on Step 1 the elderly should have regained some strength and be ready to add a few more products from Step 2 to further improve their health:
• CoQ10 (100mg x2) – improves mitochondrial function, increases energy for muscle and brain function
• Acetyl-L-Carnitine (2g) – cofactor in mitochondria, necessary for burning fat for energy; doubles survival time in ALS patients
• Melatonin (as needed up to 20mg) – nerve cell antioxidant, benefits elderly even if sleep is not an issue
• Ginkgo biloba (120-240mg) – use if meds allow (blood thinners are a contraindication); improves cerebrovascular function (blood flow to the brain)
• Lion’s Mane (1g x2) – prevents cognitive impairment due to amyloid beta plaque; improves brain function in Mild Cognitive Impairment

I appreciate that Dr. Rouchotas’ protocols are backed with multiple human (not just animal) placebo-controlled studies so we can be confident in their safety and effectiveness. I plan to write more about some of these products in future articles.

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

April 30, 2018

469 CFS – the Cover-Up [30 April 2018]

Last week I explained how Dr. Judy Mikovits discovered a likely viral cause for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and I hinted at a cover-up. What happened and why?

Shortly after the publication of her 2009 Science paper, Dr. Mikovits turned her attention to autism. She became curious about a possible connection between CFS and autism when her preliminary data found a higher than expected number of children with autism among CFS patients and families. She speculated (publicly) that if children were asymptomatic carriers of the XMRV virus, a vaccination could trigger the sudden development of the disease. Retroviruses like to hide in the B and T lymphocytes, the very cells that vaccinations are designed to stimulate. This effect is well known for the HIV virus – babies born to HIV positive mothers must be treated with anti-viral drugs before their first vaccination.

In September 2011 Mikovits was suddenly fired from her position as Research Director at Whittemore Peterson Institute. A few weeks later she was arrested and her home searched (without a warrant), accused of stealing her research notebooks (which she was required by federal law to maintain and protect). She was held for five days in jail without bail or a formal charge ever being laid.

The Science study was retracted in September 2011 and an editorial was published discrediting her work (which included the police mugshot from her arrest). The CDC quickly initiated a follow-up study to confirm her findings. Mikovits protested that it was deliberately designed – in choice of subjects, handling of blood samples, and in the narrow control standard – to avoid finding a retrovirus in CFS patients. The best way to test for contamination would be to retest the same patients using her meticulous methodology, but this was not done. She was disappointed but not surprised when the studies found no correlation and concluded (erroneously she believes) that her previous study samples were contaminated. Another study had already confirmed her findings but it too was discredited and later retracted.

This raises the question: why would research institutions not want to find a viral cause of CFS? Possibly fear of public panic or class action lawsuits. But I suspect the reason is that it offers a plausible explanation for the connection between vaccinations and autism. What happened to Dr. Mikovits was, in her own words, “… a clear message to anyone in research who dared stand by data that revealed an inconvenient truth about corruption in public health.”


Book: Plague – One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases. Kent Heckenlively and Judy Mikovits, 2014

Hillary Johnson, Discover magazine March 2013 Chasing the Shadow Virus

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

April 23, 2018

468 A Viral Cause for CFS? [23 Apr 2018]

Last week I described chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and wrote that officially there is no known cause or cure. But is that true?

In their 2014 book Plague – One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases, Kent Heckenlively and Judy Mikovits tell the story of the discovery and cover-up of a possible cause (and cure) for chronic fatigue syndrome.

In 2006 Judy Mikovits, a virus research scientist with 30 years’ experience in studying HIV/AIDS, accepted a position in Nevada to study chronic fatigue syndrome. She immediately noticed several similarities between CFS and AIDS and began to suspect a viral cause. In both diseases an impaired immune system allows a wide variety of “opportunistic” infections; both have a high incidence of normally rare cancers; and both show abnormal brain scans and have similar biomarkers such as high cytokine production. Mikovits discovered a retrovirus infection in 67% of CFS sufferers and in 4% of healthy controls. She published her findings in 2009 in the prestigious journal Science.

This particular virus, called XMRV, is a mouse retrovirus, meaning that it originated in mice but had mutated and could now infect humans. XMRV had been associated with prostate cancer since 2006 (but has since been dismissed as a causative factor). The first CFS outbreak in the USA occurred in 1934-5 among the doctors and staff of the Los Angeles County Hospital after receiving a polio vaccine grown on mouse tissue. In the late 1970’s and early ’80’s pockets of CFS began showing up in cities across the country and then around the world. Today an estimated 20 million people world-wide suffer from the condition.

Patients and their families were hopeful that this discovery would lead to a cure or at least a more effective treatment. Alas this was not to be. For various reasons (to be covered next week) the medical research community turned on Mikovits, discredited her and her research, and reverted to the “no known cause” for CFS. The situation has not changed since, leaving at least one more generation of CFS patients to suffer needlessly.

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

April 16, 2018

467 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome [16 Apr 2018]

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a complex disorder involving extreme fatigue. There is no definitive test for CFS – it is diagnosed by eliminating all other possible causes.

CFS can be very debilitating. One researcher compared it to end stage AIDS or advanced cancer, except that the victims can survive for years or even decades. Because they don’t die as quickly as in AIDS or cancer (and they have no energy to promote their cause), CFS research has not received the same attention. The majority of victims are female which may contribute to the dismissal of CFS by many government health organizations as psychological (“all in your head”).

The main symptoms and signs of CFS include:
• Extreme fatigue which does not improve with rest
• Even mild exercise worsens fatigue for more than 24 hours
• Brain fog – loss of memory and/or concentration
• Poor sleep quality
• Muscle and joint pain; headaches

Some characteristics of CFS that suggest an infectious not psychological cause:
• It appeared suddenly in the late 1970s, previously unrecorded
• Appears in clusters at different locations and times
• Sore throat and enlarged lymph nodes
• Opportunistic infections indicating an impaired immune system
• Much higher than normal incidence of certain rare cancers
• Abnormal brain scans resembling AIDS related dementia

CFS is much more widespread than one would expect given its low priority for research. Hillary Johnson writes “ME is now the most common chronic disease most people have never heard of until they acquire it.” CFS affects an estimated 20 million world-wide with more than 2 million in the USA (more than breast and lung cancer, AIDS, and MS combined).

The cause of CFS is officially “unknown”; a combination of factors is suspected possibly including genetic, viral/microbial, social and psychological. There is no known cure; treatment focuses on symptom relief.

Next week: XMRV – the cause of CFS?

Mayo Clinic website
Health Canada website
book Plague – One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases. Kent Heckenlively and Judy Mikovits, 2014

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