Should You Take Probiotics?

good bacteria, bad bacteria and probiotics

What are Probiotics?

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as:
“Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host”
By this definition, there are 3 key components to probiotics:
1. They must be alive
2. They have to be dosed in adequate amounts
3. And they must be bacteria of the type that confer a health benefit

Live Probiotics

Good probiotics are often pricey. They may cost extra but you can be assured that you are getting living and viable probiotics whereas some less expensive products may only contain dead bacteria. A trick to watch out for: probiotic labels that say “x billion viable/live bacteria at time of manufacture.” What the product contained at time of manufacture is completely irrelevant. It’s what they contain when you consume them that matters. What this “guarantee” is really saying is “we’re not sure how much will survive until you take them.” The better manufacturers will usually test their products for at least 6 months beyond the expiry date to ensure that you are still getting living bacteria in the amount claimed on the label when you take it. What the label should say is “guaranteed to contain x billion live or viable bacteria at time of expiry”. See the difference? Knowing that some will die off between manufacture and the time that you take them, the good manufacturers will put extra in when they make it and test it beyond the time of expiry to ensure that even if some did die off, there is still the amount stated on the label when the bottle expires.

Number of Bacteria in Probiotics

The bacteria in probiotics are listed as CFU, which stands for “colony forming units”. It means how many bacteria are in the product that can then reproduce to form a little colony. One or two billion bacteria or CFU’s per serving just doesn’t cut it. When it comes to good bacteria the higher the amount per serving the better. I would typically recommend a product that contains 35-50 billion bacteria per capsule and a wide range of species from the ones listed below. Over 100 trillion bacteria of 500 different species live in a healthy human gut, if you want to have an impact, you need to add more than a drop in the bucket.

Probiotics that Give a Health Benefit

There are a few manufacturers promoting something called “soil based organisms” that are supposed to be what we naturally would have inhabiting our guts if we were eating fresh food plucked from the ground. There has been very little research supporting their use and a few case studies of people who were severely immune compromised and suffered life threatening infections after consuming these products. There is a plethora of research and human experience showing the health benefits of probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium lactis.

What are the Health Benefits of Probiotics?

Here are the benefits of healthy good bacteria in our digestive tract:
1. Diarrhea prevention, especially when taking antibiotics
2. Colorectal cancer prevention
3. Immune system regulation and enhancement
4. Asthma and allergy prevention
5. Prevention of infection in the gut by harmful organisms like Salmonella, Shigella, H pylori, yeast etc
6. Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
7. They provide the host with vitamins B12 and K
8. They appear to help with insulin resistance in diabetics and in women with gestational diabetes

Probiotic Foods

Certain foods are known to be rich in probiotics. These are fermented foods and many cultures have their own version. Dairy-based foods that contain probiotic bacteria include kefir and yogourt. Non-dairy probiotic foods include fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kim chi, miso and tempeh. Do these food probiotics work? Research has been done on ingestion of bean and soy tempeh to determine their effect on gut bacteria. Soy tempeh stimulates most the growth of Bifidobacterium bacteria, while bean tempeh stimulates that of Escherichia coli. While it is good to eat probiotic-rich foods for daily gut maintenance, when taking an antibiotic, I would always encourage people to take a good quality probiotic supplement. That way we know exactly how many beneficial bacteria they are getting and of what kind. A serving of commercial yogourt may only contain 1 billion bacteria per serving where just one probiotic capsule would contain 50-100 times that much.

How Often to Take Probiotics

Whether to take probiotics and if so, how much and how often is subject to debate. Definitely any time you need to take antibiotics, you should take a good quality probiotic while taking the antibiotics and for at least two weeks afterward to prevent potentially serious side effects of taking antibiotics.

Because of the potential for numerous health benefits of taking probiotics, for most people they should be a regular part of their health maintenance program. Whether that means taking them every day, or taking them for 2-3 months out of every year, may be more to do with individual preference than scientifically proven value. I do encourage people who take probiotics daily, to try to vary the product and strains that they are taking in order to maintain the diversity of gut bacteria that seems to help promote good health.

Cautions

The above strains of probiotic bacteria are generally considered safe, even for infants. The primary contraindications for probiotic use would be:
1. Someone who is severely immune compromised such as a transplant recipient, someone very elderly or very sick, or a patient undergoing cancer treatment.
2. Using soil-based probiotics in any of the above patients and possibly in the general population as there isn’t sufficient safety and efficacy data.

With about a hundred published studies per year, there is new information being revealed every day about the health benefits of taking probiotic supplements. With almost no downside, and plenty of potential benefits, probiotics are a worthwhile addition to your health regimen.

Oh and by the way, a class action lawsuit was filed and won against Dannon/Danone in January 2008 in which the company stood accused of spending $100 million promoting clinical benefits of Activia and DanActive that its own tests had disproved. To add to that, Bifidus Regularis is a made-up name by Danone for Bifidobacterium animalis. Commercial yogurt is not an adequate means to obtain good bacteria.

Our naturopathic doctors are experts on which probiotics may work best for your particular problem as well as how to heal a whole host of gut issues.  Book an appointment now. 

What’s the Best Detox for Your Body?

pic showing the best detox motivation

Is Your Body Overloaded with Toxins? What is the Best Detox Solution?

Your body is a miraculous thing. For all its parts and abilities there are corresponding systems designed to monitor what they’re experiencing.  Your body can decide whether what it is experiencing is beneficial or detrimental and then make appropriate adjustments to maintain balance.

You may mention your circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary, lymphatic, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, or urinary system in conversation when someone asks how you are.  Symptoms from these systems give us a sense of how well we are (or are not) at any given time.

What’s Happening When You’re Not Feeling Well?

When you’re unwell, understanding systemic symptoms can help you to determine where to look for the underlying issues. Skin breakouts, hair thinning or falling out, or nail splitting can be signs of poor digestive or liver health. Signs like feeling sluggish, heavy, uncomfortable, or constipated tell us that there’s something less than ideal going on in your body. It becomes important to look at the organs that support our body and keep them functioning optimally, especially when they’re showing us signs that all is not well.

Your organs help your body to maintain overall health, and of course organs like the heart, brain, and lungs are responsible for some of the most vital functions of life. Without them, well – we wouldn’t be here! But, your organs do other important jobs as well, such as neutralizing and eliminating toxins and irritants. The organs that help the most with these functions are the lungs, the skin, the digestive tract, and most importantly: the liver and the kidneys. When you start tracing symptoms to the organs that should help prevent them, you can start to make the connections to underlying organ weakness.

How Does Your Body Cope When Faced with Toxins?

The simple answer? Detoxification. One of the things your body is especially good at is sweeping out any toxic elements and chemicals that can compromise your health. That’s a big part of what your organs are designed to do.

However, not all toxins are equal and of course, there are many factors that can affect how the body responds to them at any given time. Also, toxins don’t come from only one source. In fact, the definition of a ‘toxin’ is surprisingly simple and broad: anything that the body doesn’t find useful or that harms its integrity is toxic to the body. The fact is, we’re combating toxins all the time.

The most common types of toxins we all encounter regularly come from poor diets, poorly digested, fermented food, medications, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, environmental toxins like air and water pollution, smoke, pesticides and herbicides. This toxic burden is an inescapable part of urban life, and we know it can sound pretty depressing!

When subjected to all of these forms of toxins at once – as most of us are – it’s easy to see how our bodies can become inundated with chemicals that need to be removed. It’s also easy to understand why, even though we might be doing everything we can to sustain a healthy lifestyle and keep our toxin-fighting organs in prime condition, our bodies sometimes need help in this respect.

How Do I Know if I’m Overloaded with Toxins?

As we said before: the body is constantly detoxifying – day in, day out, all day and all night! Our organs are designed to do just that to keep us healthy but who hasn’t been super stressed out and resorted to a poor diet or more frequent glasses of wine? Who hasn’t experienced an illness that compromised their health to the point where they just don’t seem to fully recover? These are just some instances when toxin overload may contribute to ill health.  Sometimes toxins that we experience daily become a combined, overwhelming force while at other times we experience a mix of toxins in particularly high doses. Ongoing situations like this can lead to chronic toxin overexposure and inadequate elimination.

Are you overloaded with toxins? Ask yourself these questions:  

  1. Do you have persistent brain-fog, lack of focus, mental clarity, or migraines?
  2. Do you have ongoing fatigue, muscle aches or pains, general lack of motivation or feelings of depression that just won’t go away?
  3. Have you noticed an increase in body odour, foul fecal odour, pungent or bad breath?
  4. Are you experiencing skin reactions or acne in ways you haven’t before?
  5. Have you recently become newly sensitive to chemicals, fragrances, or scents?
  6. Have you developed new allergies of any kind?
  7. Are your periods excessively heavy or painful?

These are just some of the common changes that you might notice and they’re some of the ways your body is trying to tell you that it’s overwhelmed with toxins.

Do Detox Diets Work?

A handful of clinical studies have shown that commercial detox diets enhance liver detoxification and eliminate persistent organic pollutants from the body. Better quality studies still need to be done, but from our clinical experience, we’ve seen numerous patients improve by assisting their bodies to remove toxins. Organic pollutants have been implicated in the development of inflammatory conditions, obesity and diabetes.

What is the Best Detox?

Some basics for the healthy ongoing elimination of toxins:

  1. Stay hydrated.  Water intake helps your body flush waste out through your kidneys.
  2. Increase your fibre intake.  Consuming lots of vegetables and legumes and moderate amounts of fruit help your body to excrete toxins through regular bowel movements.
  3. Lemon water.  Drinking a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning helps to get bile moving that carries waste out of your liver.
  4. Eat a healthy, whole foods diet including organic foods as much as possible to reduce your toxic burden.

Advanced liver detox techniques

Healthy liver detoxification requires specific vitamins and minerals to allow for efficient function of phase I and phase II liver detoxification.  These include indole-3-carbinol, vitamin B6, B12, magnesium, L-5MHTF and calcium-d-glucarate.  Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts help supply these nutrients.  Our naturopathic doctors can provide expert advice about dosing for these and other natural supplements for doing the best detox cleanse.

Accessory nutrients that are also needed for healthy liver detoxification include alpha lipoic acid, n-acetyl cysteine, Vitamins A, C and E, glutathione, selenium, glycine, taurine and glutamine.

When you’re experiencing symptoms that may be related to toxins, it’s the right time to visit our clinic for help. We can help reactivate your body’s natural defence mechanisms so that you can experience optimal health every day. Sometimes, our organs need extra help in their work combatting toxins. We have lots of solutions to help you ensure that toxins are kept at bay and that your organs are happy, healthy, and strong.

What About Those Detox Kits?

A detox kit would not be what we would recommend to support healthy liver detoxification.  Mainly these kits contain fibre supplements, laxative herbs and small doses of herbs like milk thistle and dandelion.  Fibre supplements and laxative herbs only make you poop more.  More frequent bowel movements do not mean more efficient liver function.  Milk thistle is useful for regenerating liver cells when your liver has been injured, think of conditions like cirrhosis or hepatitis.  Rebuilding your liver won’t hurt, and may help, but as a low dose ingredient in these kits, it’s not enough to accomplish much.  Dandelion is used to help your liver make more bile and empty that bile out of your gallbladder into your small intestine.  This helps to carry waste out of your liver.  But, in order for there to be waste to carry out, your liver has to break toxins down, that is where we want to support the liver in phase I and phase II liver detoxification so that you can carry waste out through bile.  If you have regular bowel movements, you are making and excreting bile.  Bile is part of the process that helps to keep bowels regular.

Looking for the best detox diet?

You can download a free 6-day meal plan by clicking here.

Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca and we’ll be happy to have a detailed consultation with you to find the right pathway to your optimal health.

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Research

Klein AV, Kiat H. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Dec;28(6):675-86. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12286. Epub 2014 Dec 18.

Migraines: Why Are You Still Suffering?


woman with migraines

Why Do You Get Migraines?

What Causes Migraines?

There are a number of potential causes of migraines:

  1. Excessive histamine
  2. Excessive inflammation
  3. Food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities
  4. Neurotransmitter imbalance
  5. Hormone imbalance

How Do You Know if a Headache is a Migraine?

Migraine symptoms include: nausea and/or vomiting, pain behind one eye, pain in your temples, visual changes like seeing spots or auras, sensitivity to light and/or sound, and/or temporary vision loss [see your MD ASAP if you have this symptom].

How Long Does a Migraine Last?

A typical migraine can last from 4 to 72 hours.

The Natural Treatment Approach to Migraines

  1. Reduce histamine – correct diet, increase vitamin C
  2. Support the adrenal glands – vitamin B5, B6, C, magnesium, zinc, ashwaganda, panax ginseng, rhodiola, schisandra, gotu kola.
  3. Test for and remove IgG and IgA food sensitivities.
  4. Balance neurotransmitters by providing the appropriate precursor vitamins, minerals and amino acids (B6, magnesium, tryptophan, tyrosine).
  5. Balance hormones – correct diet, provide indole-3-carbinol, 5MTHF, P5P, magnesium, B12, and glucarate for liver detoxification.

Histamine

Excessive blood histamine levels may be a factor in migraines. Histamine is a substance released by cells known as mast cells and is also present in certain foods. Histamine from food sources are normally broken down in the gut by an enzyme known as DAO or Diamine Oxidase.  Some people are genetically programmed to make inadequate levels of DAO. Stabilizing mast cells to reduce histamine release, lowering intake of high histamine foods and supplementing DAO enzyme may help histamine related migraines.

Dietary histamine: Avoid citrus fruit, stored, fermented, canned, aged and/or pickled foods.

Antihistamine: Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine and supports the adrenal glands and healthy, more stable blood veins and arteries.

Blood tests: tryptase and diamine oxidase (DAO).

Adrenal glands

The adrenal glands are your body’s internal corticosteroid source.  As such, they play a role in moderating inflammation and migraine prevention. Depletion of critical nutrients for adrenal function due to malabsorption, excessive excretion due to stress, or poor diet may lead to altered HPA axis function or corticosteroid production, contributing to migraines. Adrenal supportive nutrients include vitamin B5, B6, C, magnesium, and zinc.  Herbs demonstrated to support the body’s adaptation to stress include Panax ginseng, eleuthrococcus, ashwaganda and licorice root.

Blood tests that may elucidate issues with the adrenals include DHEAs, testosterone, a.m. and p.m. cortisol levels.

Test for and Remove IgG and IgA Mediated Food Sensitivities

The exclusion of IgG mediated food sensitivities has been shown to significantly improve symptoms for sufferers of migraines and IBS. An association between celiac disease (IgA antibodies to gluten) and migraine in adults has also established.

Blood test: IgG and IgA food sensitivity testing

Neurotransmitters and Migraines

Research has also suggested a connection between neurotransmitter levels such as serotonin and migraine.   SSRI type medications are often tried as a solution.  Many of the patients that I see don’t like these medications due to their side effects of weight gain, low libido and feeling emotionally flat. As an alternative to this approach, I recommend vitamin B6 and magnesium as co-factors for the production of serotonin. Magnesium may also help relax muscle tension and calm the nervous system.

Blood test: Spectracell Micronutrient Analysis

Migraines and Hormones

Hormone imbalance can influence susceptibility to migraines. Estrogen dominance in women often precipitates premenstrual migraines.  Supporting liver detoxification of estrogen, including environmental estrogens, helps relieve menstrual migraines.

Blood tests: DHEAs, testosterone, estradiol, LH, FSH, progesterone, prolactin

What other treatments help migraines?

Other effective natural medicine therapies for migraines include: chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, acupuncture and craniosacral therapy.

If you need help with migraines, click here to book an appointment.

References:

  1. Johnston CS, Martin LJ, Cai X. Antihistamine effect of supplemental ascorbic acid and neutrophil chemotaxis. J Am Coll Nutr. 1992 Apr;11(2):172-6.
  2. Alstadhaug KB. Histamine in migraine and brain. Headache. 2014 Feb;54(2):246-59.
  3. Aydinlar EI, Dikmen PY, Tiftikci A, Saruc M, Aksu M, Gunsoy HG, Tozun N. IgG-based elimination diet in migraine plus irritable bowel syndrome. Headache. 2013 Mar;53(3):514-25.
  4. Cristofori F, Fontana C, Magistà A, Capriati T, Indrio F, Castellaneta S, Cavallo L, Francavilla R. Increased prevalence of celiac disease among pediatric patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a 6-year prospective cohort study. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Jun;168(6):555-60.
  5. Gabrielli M, Cremonini F, Fiore G, Addolorato G, Padalino C, Candelli M, De Leo ME, Santarelli L, Giacovazzo M, Gasbarrini A, Pola P, Gasbarrini A. Association between migraine and Celiac disease: results from a preliminary case-control and therapeutic study. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Mar;98(3):625-9.
  6. Woldeamanuel Y, Rapoport A, Cowan R. The place of corticosteroids in migraine attack management: A 65-year systematic review with pooled analysis and critical appraisal. Cephalalgia. 2015 Jan 9.
  7. McMullen MK, Whitehouse JM, Towell A. Bitters: Time for a New Paradigm. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:670504.
  8. Dakshinamurti S, Dakshinamurti K Antihypertensive and neuroprotective actions of pyridoxine and its derivatives. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2015 May 11:1-8.
  9. Mauskop A, Varughese J. Why all migraine patients should be treated with magnesium. J Neural Transm. 2012 May;119(5):575-9.
  10. Patacchioli FR, Monnazzi P, Simeoni S, De Filippis S, Salvatori E, Coloprisco G, Martelletti P. Salivary cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulphate (DHEA-S) and testosterone in women with chronic migraine. J Headache Pain. 2006 Apr;7(2):90-4. Epub 2006 Mar 31.

 

 

Glutathione

glutathione molecule

What is Glutathione? 

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

It is a substance produced naturally in your liver and is a powerful antioxidant, considered to be the mother of all antioxidants (antioxidants help prevent oxidation and aging).  It is made from three amino acids: glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine.  One of the primary functions of glutathione is cellular detoxification.

Why is glutathione important?

Healthy blood levels are important for protection from heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s and aging in general.  Reduced levels occur with aging and are associated with increased oxidative damage.

How do I get glutathione?

Foods contain it and there are glutathione supplements, however, most of what is orally ingested gets broken down in the digestive tract and so it doesn’t have an impact on increasing your blood levels.  For this reason, taking supplements is likely a waste of money, even liposomal glutathione. Consuming the above amino acids may assist your liver in producing more if you need it. Food sources of glutathione include: spinach, asparagus, avocado, squash, okra, cauliflower, broccoli, walnuts, garlic and tomatoes.

How else can I raise my blood level?

There are a number of supplements that have been shown to help raise levels in the blood, including:
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Milk Thistle
  • MSM
  • Melatonin
  • Curcumin

Your body can also recycle existing glutathione with the help of following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamins: C, E, B vitamins, active folic acid (L-5MTHF)
  • Minerals: selenium, zinc, vanadium, magnesium

Too Much of a Good Thing?

There is some research that has found higher levels of glutathione in cancer cells.  It may be that the cells have increased their own level as a means of protecting themselves from damage by chemotherapeutic agents or it may be that cancer cells are trying to keep themselves from undergoing normal cell demise known as apoptosis.

Should you supplement with glutathione?

I would say no, for the reasons I have already mentioned: it’s poorly absorbed and broken down in the gut and until we fully understand why glutathione is higher in cancer cells, it may be best to avoid artificially increasing it.  Use of some of the above supplements that help support healthy internal production or recycling seems like safer options.

References:

Yilin Liu, Annastasia S. Hyde, Melanie A. Simpson, and Joseph J. Barycki. Emerging regulatory paradigms in glutathione metabolism. Adv Cancer Res. 2014; 122: 69–101.

Matthew Butawan, Rodney L. Benjamin, and Richard J. Bloomer. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017 Mar; 9(3): 290.

Antonio Carrillo-Vico, Patricia J. Lardone, Nuria Álvarez-Sánchez, Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez, and Juan M. Guerrero. Melatonin: Buffering the Immune System. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Apr; 14(4): 8638–8683.

Jianguo Lin, Youcai Tang, Qiaohua Kang, Yunfeng Feng, and Anping Chen. Curcumin inhibits gene expression of receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) in hepatic stellate cells in vitro by elevating PPARγ activity and attenuating oxidative stress. Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Aug; 166(8): 2212–2227.

Gut Health

how to heal your gut

How to Heal Your Gut

Many of the disorders that our naturopathic doctors frequently treat, are related to poor gut health including autoimmune disorders, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, recurrent infections, low immune function, inflammatory bowel disease, acne, hormone imbalance, irritable bowel syndrome and yeast infections.

Patients suffering from these conditions will often have gut overgrowth of yeast, harmful bacteria and parasites, inadequate beneficial bacteria, inflammation, small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) and leaky gut. Healing gut issues requires a multi-pronged and stepwise approach:

  1.  Remove food sensitivities that are weakening the immune system and damaging the intestinal lining.
  2. Remove any harmful organisms that are damaging the gut.
  3. After the two above steps, then we can repair the gut lining.

Supplements to Repair the Gut Lining

L-glutamine – L-glutamine is an amino acid that is an important fuel for cells that line the digestive tract.
Vitamin A – Vitamin A is vital to the health of mucous membranes – the tissue that lines the digestive and respiratory tracts.
N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG) – This is a different glucosamine from the one that is used for arthritis. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in inflammatory bowel disease.
Zinc carnosine – A special form of zinc that helps increase antioxidants in the gut and protect the lining of the stomach and digestive tract from damage.
Aloe vera – The gel from inside the aloe plant helps protect the lining of the digestive tract from damage.
Citrus pectin – Research has shown that pectin can help the lining of the digestive tract heal from injury.
Research:

Rolandelli RH, Koruda MJ, Settle RG, Rombeau JL. The effect of enteral feedings supplemented with pectin on the healing of colonic anastomoses in the rat. Surgery. 1986 Jun;99(6):703-7.

Azuma K, Osaki T, Kurozumi S, Kiyose M, Tsuka T, Murahata Y, Imagawa T, Itoh N, Minami S, Sato K, Okamoto Y. Anti-inflammatory effects of orally administered glucosamine oligomer in an experimental model of inflammatory bowel disease. Carbohydr Polym. 2015 Jan 22;115:448-56. doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2014.09.012. Epub 2014 Sep 21.

Beaufrère AM, Neveux N, Patureau Mirand P, Buffière C, Marceau G, Sapin V, Cynober L, Meydinal-Denis D. Long-term intermittent glutamine supplementation repairs intestinal damage (structure and functional mass) with advanced age: assessment with plasma citrulline in a rodent model. J Nutr Health Aging. 2014 Nov;18(9):814-9. doi: 10.1007/s12603-014-0468-6.

Lan A, Blachier F, Benamouzig R, Beaumont M, Barrat C, Coelho D, Lancha A Jr, Kong X, Yin Y, Marie JC, Tomé D. Mucosal healing in inflammatory bowel diseases: is there a place for nutritional supplementation? Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015 Jan;21(1):198-207. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000177.

Werawatganon D, Rakananurak N, Sallapant S, Prueksapanich P, Somanawat K, Klaikeaw N, Rerknimitr R. Aloe vera attenuated gastric injury on indomethacin-induced gastropathy in rats. World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Dec 28;20(48):18330-7. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i48.18330.

Deters A1, Zippel J, Hellenbrand N, Pappai D, Possemeyer C, Hensel A. Aqueous extracts and polysaccharides from Marshmallow roots (Althea officinalis L.): cellular internalisation and stimulation of cell physiology of human epithelial cells in vitro. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jan 8;127(1):62-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.09.050. Epub 2009 Sep 30.

Ueda K, Ueyama T, Oka M, Ito T, Tsuruo Y, Ichinose M. Polaprezinc (Zinc L-carnosine) is a potent inducer of anti-oxidative stress enzyme, heme oxygenase (HO)-1 – a new mechanism of gastric mucosal protection. J Pharmacol Sci. 2009 Jul;110(3):285-94. Epub 2009 Jun 19.

Boron

the element boron increases free testosterone

UnBoring Boron

Boron is a trace mineral found in almonds, walnuts, avocados, broccoli, pears, prunes, honey, oranges, onions, chick peas, carrots, beans, red grapes and red apples.

What Does Boron Do for Me?

This trace mineral has research showing that it is beneficial for improving free testosterone levels, preventing osteoarthritis, reducing symptoms of menopause, preventing blood clots, reducing psoriasis and reducing inflammation by decreasing TNF-alpha.

How Much Boron Should I Take?

As with any supplement, dosage needs to be individualized to the person. It’s not one size fits all and there are potential risks associated with taking it. Supplementation with it appears to be safe, but appropriate doses may be anywhere from .7 mg to 10 mg per day.

What are the Side Effects of Taking Boron?

Side effects of excessive intake of it include skin inflammation and peeling, irritability, tremors, convulsions, weakness, headaches, depression, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms.

Who Shouldn’t Take Boron?

This trace mineral shouldn’t be taken by women who are pregnant/breastfeeding (except in the amounts contained in a prenatal multivitamin), children, people with hormone sensitive conditions and people with kidney disease.

Our naturopathic doctors are the experts as to what supplements are most appropriate for you, which brands are the best quality and how to safely use supplements. Book a consultation to discuss diet, vitamins, minerals, herbs and acupuncture with one of our licensed and experienced ND’s.

Boron Research:

Naghii MR, Mofid M, Asgari AR, Hedayati M, Daneshpour MS. Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2011 Jan;25(1):54-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2010.10.001. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Zofková I1, Nemcikova P, Matucha P. Trace elements and bone health. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2013 Aug;51(8):1555-61. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2012-0868.

Nikkhah S, Dolatian M, Naghii MR, Zaeri F, Taheri SM. Effects of boron supplementation on the severity and duration of pain in primary dysmenorrhea. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2015 May;21(2):79-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2015.03.005. Epub 2015 Apr 4.

Get off Antidepressants

woman who wants to get off antidepressants

How to Get off Antidepressants

In practice, I see a number of patients who are on antidepressants but don’t want to be for various reasons. Some don’t feel that they are effective, others feel that they are no longer warranted, others are coming for fertility treatment and don’t want to be on medication during pregnancy, some prefer to take a more natural, holistic approach and others find the side effects unbearable.

Regardless of the reason for wanting to come off, there are a number of naturopathic options that can help with discontinuing anti-depressant therapy. This should only be undertaken under the supervision of your medical doctor and a naturopathic physician.

Firstly, weaning off of anti-depressants needs to be done very slowly, sometimes using dosages that are not available and need to be custom compounded. In patients who have been on anti-depressants longer term (more than a year or two), tapering off may take 6-24 months.

Secondly, there are several medications that are NOT safe to use together with herbal antidepressant alternatives like St. John’s Wort. These include: antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors/SSRI’s), benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety), warfarin, statins, verapamil, digoxin, and oral contraceptives.

How a Naturopath Can Help you Get off Antidepressants

To help with weaning off of anti-depressants, we will often make dietary changes to support the brain and nervous system, introduce lifestyle changes like stress reduction, meditation, yoga, and exercise, and use nutritional supplements like fish oil, B vitamins, magnesium and protein to support normal brain function. Herbs may be used to reduce anxiety (Passionflower, valerian, lemon balm, oatstraw, skullcap), improve resilience to stress (rhodiola, ashwagandha, schisandra) and improve mood. Some may require a gradual weaning on as the anti-depressant dose is being reduced. Because of the risk of interactions with anti-depressants or other medications, herbs should only be used for this under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor.

Acupuncture can be used to help with weaning off of antidepressants as it can help to “raise the spirit qi”.

For advice about how to get off antidepressants, book a consultation with one of our naturopathic doctors.

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

References:

Jane Clewes, MA A Case Report of Onset of Tinnitus Following Discontinuation of Antidepressant and a Review of the Literature. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2012; 14(1): PCC.11br01218.

Davis SA, Feldman SR, Taylor SL. Use of St. John’s Wort in potentially dangerous combinations. J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Jul;20(7):578-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2013.0216.

CoQ10

structure of CoQ10
What is CoQ10?

CoQ10, also known as coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone, is a naturally-occurring compound found in every cell in the body and is vital for healthy heart and muscle function, among other things.

Why is Coenzyme Q10 Important?

CoQ10 plays a key role in producing energy in the form of ATP in the mitochondria – the energy powerhouse of the cell. Every cell in your body needs adequate levels of this coenzyme to have sufficient energy to work properly. Low levels of CoQ10 have been found in patients with heart failure, cardiomyopathy, Parkinson’s disease and those on cholesterol lowering medications called statin drugs.  CoQ10 supplementation has been proven to improve these conditions as well as helping diabetics improve their blood sugar control and blood pressure and topical application can help with periodontal (gum) disease.

Statin medications can reduce levels of ubiquinone, and cause fatigue, muscle pain, muscle tenderness, muscle weakness, night time cramping, and tendon pain.  We always recommend supplementation if you are taking statin drugs.

Recent research has also suggested a role for CoQ10 in infertility.

Best Food Sources of CoQ10 (mg per serving)

Pork heart (24 mg)

Beef heart (4.8 mg)

Chicken leg (2.0 mg)

Herring (0.7 mg)

Trout (1.1 mg)

What are the Best CoQ10 Supplements?

Not crazy about those food options? Quality supplements are available through excellent manufacturers like Metagenics, Douglas Labs and Xymogen.  Metagenics has formulated a nanomicelle CoQ10 that delivers 1,000 times smaller molecules than other formulas, which places the active ingredient closer to cell membranes. It has been demonstrated in a study to be more bioavailable, increasing plasma levels by 25-50%, so less supplementation is required.  Douglas Labs offers a lozenge that may help gum disease.  Xymogen’s CoQMax has been shown in clinical trials to be over eight times more absorbable than powdered CoQ10 and more than twice as bioavailable as other oil-based or so-called “nano”-dispersed formulas on the market.

CoQ10 References:

Skarlovnik A, Janić M, Lunder M, Turk M, Šabovič M. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation decreases statin-related mild-to-moderate muscle symptoms: a randomized clinical study. Med Sci Monit. 2014 Nov 6;20:2183-8. doi: 10.12659/MSM.890777.

Wang LW, Jabbour A, Hayward CS, Furlong TJ, Girgis L, Macdonald PS, Keogh AM. Potential role of coenzyme Q10 in facilitating recovery from statin-induced rhabdomyolysis. Intern Med J. 2015 Apr;45(4):451-3. doi: 10.1111/imj.12712.

Ben-Meir A, Burstein E, Borrego-Alvarez A, Chong J, Wong E, Yavorska T, Naranian T, Chi M, Wang Y, Bentov Y, Alexis J, Meriano J, Sung HK, Gasser DL, Moley KH, Hekimi S, Casper RF, Jurisicova A. Coenzyme Q10 restores oocyte mitochondrial function and fertility during reproductive aging. Aging Cell. 2015 Oct;14(5):887-95. doi: 10.1111/acel.12368. Epub 2015 Jun 26.