Category — 02 - Diet and Nutrition
Many people often ask me whether natural healing approaches including diet, supplements, etc. can help with their symptoms. Sometimes it’s just one symptom, and other times it’s a laundry list, but it may include acid reflux, irritable bowel, eczema, migraines, arthritis, fatigue, frequent colds, PMS, high blood pressure, sinusitis, anxiety, depression, hair loss, etc., etc…
So in order to begin with a rational approach, rather than to just throw whatever tools we have at the symptom, hit-or-miss, we need to understand what a symptom is and what’s required in each case.
A symptom or condition is simply the outer effect of some deeper cause, not the cause itself. And that causative level needs to be understood in terms of our life force. The life force actually has two aspects, rather like the relationship between yin and yang.
One aspect of the life force is quantitative and involves processes that need to be balanced, in certain amounts. This is where you need to fill a deficiency or remove an excess of something, and this is the realm of what we call Therapeutic Regimen, or dynamic regimen. It includes diet, nutrition, detoxification, water intake, sleep, and other lifestyle issues that impact health.
For some people, this first category—regimen—is all they need. They may simply have some imbalances that need to be corrected, and the appropriate, individualized regimen accomplishes that.
If a person has no problematic symptoms, they still need proper regimen to maintain their health. And when the body is stressed with with symptoms, we obviously need proper diet, nutrition, water, sleep, etc. So, individualized regimen is always the first step for everyone.
Dynamic regimen provides the foundation that you need for maintaining or restoring your health.
The other aspect of the life force is qualitative. This is the realm of true disease (and we use the term in a very specific way, not as conventional medicine does). When there is a disturbance in this area, it could involve emotional disturbances, shocks and traumas, infectious diseases, drug effects, and inherited predispositions to disease.
So, symptoms could be stemming from imbalances, or diseases, or both. Now it becomes clearer that to simply target the symptom and try to suppress it is not going to resolve the real problem.
Once the appropriate regimen is underway, some people need to go on for further treatment to remove deeper disease disturbances. Then I refer people for treatment with the Heilkunst system of medicine (which includes homeopathy but is much more comprehensive).
The causes may be very different for each person with the same type of symptom. For example, for one person with fatigue symptoms, regimen may be all they need to come back to balance. For another person, regimen is the foundation but they also need treatment to remove various deeper disturbances that are contributing to it.
Let’s take an example of a skin rash. For one person, the rash could be related to a food allergy; for another person it’s emotional issues; and for another person it could have been triggered by a vaccination or other trauma. Each case could have several causative factors, and each would need to be treated differently.
But the nutrition/regimen has to be there, in any case, to correct imbalances and support the healing process, fill deficiencies, balance the metabolism, help with detoxification and rebuilding new tissue, etc.
I can’t guarantee that nutrition and regimen will be the whole solution for a chronic health problem. But there can’t be a whole solution without it.
January 14, 2010 No Comments
We all know about side effects of drugs (which are really primary effects, but the ones we don’t like). But rarely do we hear about the toll that drugs can take on the body as they rob us of important nutrients. Often, the drug creates a nutrient deficiency which produces a symptom, the same symptom that the drug is supposed to treat!
An example of this is statin drugs given to treat or prevent cardiovascular disease. Statin drugs deplete the body of CoQ10, which is an essential nutrient for heart muscle. A deficiency of CoQ10 over a period of time can lead to angina or heart attack! So the drug actually can cause the problem it’s supposed to be treating.
Below is a list of many of the nutrient depletions caused by various drugs, so you can consider supplementing accordingly. Of course, the issue of how to supplement requires a more comprehensive look, but this is a guideline you can use. Generally, most of the drugs in the same class of drug will have the same nutrient depeletion effect.
I’ll include some common herbs as well, because herbs even though they’re generally safer and have less adverse effects than pharmaceutical drugs, also have medicinal effect and do have an effect on certain nutrients.
DRUG TYPE NUTRIENTS IT DEPLETES
|Female hormone replacement||magnesium, B-6|
|Statin drugs (cholesterol lowering)||coQ10, B-12, folic acid|
|Cardiac glycosides (digoxin)||calcium, magnesium|
|Diuretics||calcium, coQ10, folic acid, electrolytes|
|Antacids||B-12, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron|
|Proton-pump inhibitors||B-12, folic acid, D, iron, zinc, EFA’s|
|Aspirin||C, folic acid, iron, aminos/proteins|
|Diabetic meds||coQ10, B-12|
|Anti-depressants||coQ10, B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, folic acid|
|Oral contraceptives||B-2, B-6, B-12, folic acid, C|
|Corticosteroids (prednisone, etc.)||C, D, folic acid, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc,
|Laxative herbs (aloe, cascara, senna, etc.)||electrolytes, many vitamins, essential fatty acids|
|Herbal diuretics||B-1, B-6, C, co-Q10; electrolytes|
|vit A, B-complex, iron, potassium|
February 17, 2009 2 Comments
Many people have asked me what I think of Dr. Mercola’s recent caution against cod liver oil (CLO). CLO is one of the most important supplements, containing essential nutrients for the immune system, and is one of the few “one-size-fits-all” that almost everyone can benefit from.
Especially in the winter months, most of us are deficient in vitamin D, and we need the form that nature provides in CLO. Naturally many people were confused about this sudden change of view, since Dr. Mercola is so well respected in the natural health field.
So I thought I’d give you my thoughts on this issue and point out some of the fallacies I see in the kind of analysis that Dr. Mercola is relying on here. It’s an important case in point. This is not to detract from Dr. Mercola’s very useful information but to illustrate the problem with following “what the authorities say.”
Most of us who keep our eye on the natural health field are familiar with Dr. Mercola and his informative website and newsletters. I would point out that his approach although it’s “alternative” in a sense is still grounded in allopathic medicine, and I also think that his promotion of supplements is potentially a conflict of interest.
Dr. Mercola started selling the tanning machines that promote vitamin D production in the body, at the same time that he began cautioning against the use of CLO, which is an important source of natural vitamin D. The reason he gives for his caution against CLO is the high ratio of vitamin A to vitamin D that some of the CLO products have. There have been studies showing that vitamin A can be toxic at high levels. He also talks about some CLO manufacturers adding synthetic vitamins to their CLO.
I see several flaws in this argument.
One is that there are CLO products that don’t have the high vitamin A/D ratio that he’s talking about, and that don’t add any extra synthetic vitamin A. There’s no reason to blame all CLO prodcucts for the problem with only some of the products.
The studies showing vitamin A toxicity were done withsynthetic vitamin A, and common sense tells us that the body is going to complain about that at high levels! But he’s jumping on the allopathic bandwagon there with the idea that vitamin A is problematic. Vitamin A supplements may also compete with sales of cardiac drugs, so in the world of Big Pharma-driven medicine, that may be part of the bias against it.
We know that native people ate very high amounts of these fat-soluble vitamins in natural form, for ages, and Dr. Mercola doesn’t address this contradiction to his argument.
In place of the vitamin D from CLO, Dr. Mercola recommends his tanning bed, and in place of the omega-3 fatty acids in CLO he recommends his proprietary krill oil. The question that remains to be answered is, is his particular krill oil, or krill oil as compared with other fish oils, actually so much more effective? Is there real grounded evidence behind the claims?
I use and recommend high-vitamin CLO (Green Pastures brand) and then because it’s low in omega-3 oils, additional fish oil can be taken.
Recently Dr. Mercola’s site seems to be throwing so much information at his readers in a way that focuses on quantity of information rather than deeper understanding. These recommendations such as with CLO are usually based on meta-analyses of data, which are not reliable.
Pharma has coopted so much of the natural medicine field in ways that most practitioners aren’t even aware of. Most natural medicine practitioners are still using a basically allopathic model and promoting less toxic methods on top of that, instead of shifting their paradigm entirely.
So as it is with everything, we have to use our own critical thinking and not trust any authority figure blindly. Usually when some new recommendation is based on a new “study,” it’s pretty easy to find the fallacies on closer look at the study itself. Even at first glance, when Dr. Mercola talked about the high levels of vitamin A, I checked my bottle of CLO, and it just didn’t add up.
My recommendation: Keep reading Dr. Mercola’s newsletter and website! He’s uncovering and distilling a lot of valuable information.
The lesson is that the truth doesn’t come from “authority figures” anymore. We can’t shift our allegiance from the allopaths over to the naturopaths. We have to let go of blind allegiance, develop our own discernment and think for ourselves.
When any health authority, natural or otherwise, refers to a “study,” we need to look critically at that study and see if the analysis is sound. It takes practice, but that’s the price in this new world where independent thinking is the ticket!
February 7, 2009 No Comments
The key to understanding the blood pressure issue is that blood pressure is a biological marker, a non-specific indicator, not a disease or an entity to treat. But what we have is the treatment of abstractions, numbers that mean very little by themselves. It’s similar to the way that the public education system “teaches to the test” — we have medicine treating to the test, by the numbers.
The reference range for what’s considered “normal” is arbitrarily defined and keeps narrowing so that just about every adult can fit into some category of hypertension or pre-hypertension and given drugs. The “diagnosis” of hypertension rarely even includes any understanding of causative factors which might indicate different treatments for each individual, but the drugs are usually given in a rather hit-or-miss fashion.
There are so many factors that can cause false high readings, so the measurement itself isn’t reliable even if we were to assume that the test might be meaningful. We’re not cookie-cutter people, and blood pressure naturally fluctuates throughout the day under normal circumstances, and is supposed to rise under stress. But the one snapshot reading while under the influence of white-coat syndrome doesn’t represent anything that can be interpreted meaningfully.
Killing the messenger by lowering blood pressure usually doesn’t accomplish anything, and creates iatrogenic disease. Although sometimes the messenger itself can become dangerous and needs to be dealt with while the source of the problem is also being addressed. When blood pressure drugs are used judiciously in this way, they can be useful, but the majority of blood pressure lowering drugs are given irrationally.
“The diet-heart idea (the idea that saturated fats and cholesterol cause heart disease) is the greatest scientific deception of our times.” –George Mann, MD, former Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee; heart disease researcher
The cholesterol deception is politically driven like the blood pressure issue, and the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are among the most expensive drugs on the market. No wonder it’s so important to get everyone on them! The studies that the medical establishment have used to connect high cholesterol to heart disease were flawed, and there’s really no evidence that high cholesterol is a medical problem.
Cholesterol is actually needed for hormone production, brain and nervous system function, and low cholesterol is much more of a problem than high. Cholesterol is protective of the artery walls, and the notion that the buildup of plaque causes atherosclerosis is unfounded. There’s never been any correlation seen between high cholesterol levels, even the dreaded LDL, and athersclerosis.
There’s a hypothesis that atherosclerosis is infectious in origin and that LDL cholesterol helps to inhibit dangerous bacteria. I would look to the reason why the bacteria are there in the first place and not blame the bacteria necessarily, but it’s clear that LDL is no culprit.
So when blood pressure or cholesterol are thought to be high, first we need to look at whether it really is high enough to be a meaningful indication, or whether what we’re looking at is normal fluctuation. When blood pressure and cholesterol are elevated beyond normal fluctuations, this is really an indication of the body’s effort to maintain homeostasis in the face of certain underlying disturbances. So neither hypertension nor hypercholesterolemia are actual diseases, but rather they should be seen as signs of some underlying disease(s) or imbalance that need to be addressed. Bringing the numbers down without addressing the underlying cause is often unwarranted.
The problem with statin drugs
The cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, besides depleting needed cholesterol, deplete many other important nutrients. The main nutrient depletions are COQ10, essential fatty acids, folic acid and vit B12.
CoQ10 depletion weakens the heart muscle, and can lead to congestive heart failure, angina or myocardial infarction. CoQ10 improves the efficiency of the heart and reduces hypertension, so CoQ10 depletion could have a range of adverse cardiac effects, as well as weakness of other muscles.
CoQ10 deficiency can also lead to gum problems (and gum health can improve amazingly with CoQ10 supplementation!)
In addition to the CoQ10 depletion, the bile acids are also reduced, so that the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, F, K) may not be able to function properly. Lowering of cholesterol could lead to deficiency symptoms of those vitamins as well.
The bottom line here is that statin drugs interfere with the metabolism of ALL fats. The essential fatty acids are necessary for so many hormonal functions, bone health, the nervous system, etc.. And fats in general are necessary for brain function - no wonder that so many people on statin drugs are declining in cognitive function.
If you’re on these drugs and you want to come off them, work with a skilled naturopathic or nutritional physician to do this safely and assess your individual needs. Professional support is advisable, but you can be part of the decision making process and ultimately make your own choices. There’s more to the issue than “The number is high; we need to put you on a drug!”
For more information:
Cholesterol and Health
The Benefits of Cholesterol
Why the Treatment of Hypertension Has Become Such a Deplorable Fiasco
Dispel the Myths: High Cholesterol is Not to Blame for Heart Disease
June 6, 2008 2 Comments