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.

Should You Take Probiotics?

good bacteria, bad bacteria and probiotics

Not Sure Which Probiotics to Buy?

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as:

“Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host”

So there are 3 key components to this definition:

  1. Live
  2. Adequate amounts
  3. They must be bacteria of the type that confer a health benefit

Live Probiotics

The probiotics we recommend(Progressive, Genestra, Natren) fall into the category of some of the priciest probiotics going, but, they are worth the extra cost because you can be assured that you are getting live, viable probiotics whereas some of the other products will contain only dead bacteria. A trick to watch out for: probiotic labels that say “x billion viable bacteria at time of manufacture.” What they 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 on the label.  The label will specify this by saying “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

1 or 2 billion bacteria per serving just doesn’t cut it, when it comes to good bacteria the higher the amount per serving the better. Over 100 trillion bacteria of 500 different species live in the 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 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 tons of research and human experience showing the health benefits of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacteria infantis and Bifidobacterium lactis.  There is one soil based product that we have had good experience with called Prescript Assist.

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 Salmonella, Shigella, H pylori, yeast etc
  6. Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  7. Provide the host with vitamin B12 and K
  8. Moderation of immune system function to prevent severe complications
    from H1N1

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. 

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.