WELCOME TO RECENT ARTICLES. HERE ARE SOME ARTICLES WITH LINKS ON:
1. PREPARING FOR A POTENTIAL PANDEMIC- NATURAL REMEDIES FOR INFLUENZA
2. NEW ADVANCES IN DETOXIFICATION
3. A DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN AGAINST NATURAL MEDICINE?
4. SUN & SUPPLEMENTS TO TREAT PAIN & PREVENT CANCER & HEART DISEASE
5. PREVENTING & TREATING COLDS & FLU
6. LYME DISEASE DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
7. BEE VENOM THERAPY
8. MERCURY TOXICITY AND DETOXIFICATION
9. STAYING HEALTHY IN A TOXIC WORLD
PREPARING FOR A POTENTIAL PANDEMIC- NATURAL REMEDIES FOR INFLUENZA
There is justifiable concern about a coming worldwide epidemic (or pandemic)
of a virulent strain of influenza that could kill millions of people. Such a
pandemic will occur when a strain of bird flu that humans are not immune to mutates
into a form that is transmissible from person to person. It is not so much a
question of if this will happen as of when it will happen.
The flu strain mutates each year, and scientists must predict which strains
will be prevalent to prepare an effective vaccine. The vaccine which is available
this season does not offer protection against the strain that could cause a pandemic,
so hopefully a pandemic will not occur this year, allowing scientists and
manufacturers more time to prepare.
Influenza is caused by a virus. People tend to use the term “flu” casually for
a wide variety of viral infections, but true influenza is a serious illness. Symptoms
include fever, sore throat, muscle aches, runny nose, headache, cough and fatigue.
Symptoms often come on suddenly. Perhaps the best description of what it feels like
to have true influenza is one I learned in medical school, that it feels like you’ve
been hit by a truck. The vast majority of people who get influnza recover fully, but,
on average, influenza causes approximately 36,000 deaths and 148,000 hospitalizations
each year in the United States. More than 90% of influenza-related deaths are in people
aged 65 years or older.
While the infuenza vaccine can be life-saving for some individuals, it is not
without risk. In the short-term, immune function is significantly lowered in the week
or so following vaccination. While one will not get the flu from he traditional flu
vaccine, one is at higher risk of picking up another type of infection shorlty after
vaccination. And getting the flu vaccine does not guarantee one will not get the flu,
though it does decrease the liklihood (depending to some degree on how accurate
manufacturers were at predicting a season's strains, though even a vaccine for the strain
you are exposed to does not guarantee you won't get infected) and if one does get the flu
it tends to be less severe. Of greatest concern is that the injectable influenza vaccines
still contain mercury and aluminum as preservatives. Hugh Fudenberg, MD, the world's leading
immunogeneticist and 13th most quoted biologist of our times, has found that if an
individual had five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the years studied), his/her
chances of getting Alzheimer's Disease is ten times higher than if they had one, two or no
shots(anyone who has had more than 2 flu shots or other mercury-laden vaccines might benefit
from chelation therapy to decrease their loads of mercury and other heavy metals).
A new inhaled form of influenza vaccine, FluMist,does not contain mercury, but it is a
live virus, a weakened form of the influenza virus, which can actaully cause flu-like
symptoms and is contagious. One can find an informative article about potential FluMist
hazards by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny at http://friendsoffreedom.org/article.php?sid=2282.
If a person gets influenza they develop a natural immunity to it that lasts for several
years. While the flu virus mutates and changes to different strains every year, it tends to
be similar enough from year to year that one can maintain immunity for several years after
getting the flu. However, a pandemic occurs when there is a major change in the influenza
virus, leading to a form that no one is immune to. The avian flu which threatens to become
a pandemic is also especailly virulent, causing a higher death rate than typical flu strains.
Ultimately, our success in fighting any infection depends on the strength of our immune system,
and there are many ways to enhance and suport our immune function.
If a pandemic does occur this year, there are many steps one can take to prevent and
fight the flu. Of course, these steps are also useful for the normal outbreaks of colds and
flu as well. The first step is avoiding contact with those who are ill, frequently washing
hands after potential contact with sources of germs, and avoiding touching one’s nose and
mouth with one’s hands (if, indeed, there is a pandemic, our government is making plans to
quarantine those who are contagious).
Numerous research studies confirm that psychological stress significantly increases
our susceptibility to infection. My favorite strategy to reduce stress is adopting an
attitude of acceptance, understanding that the difficulties we encounter are challenges
from which we can learn and grow. Living in the here and now as much as possible reduces
our stress. Other invaluable stress reduction techniques include meditation, prayer,
exercise and talking to and seeking support from friends and family. Sometimes we find we
have taken on too many responsibilites and can find ways to lessen our loads. Some people
will experience less stress if they don’t watch the news. When we are experiencing undue
stress it may be benefical to take adaptogenic herbs, such as Holy Basil (which reduces a
common physiological response to stress, elevated cortisol; in turn, elevated cortisol
lowers immunity), Rhodiola, and Siberian Ginseng. People who are under stress often are
deficient in magnesium, and taking a magnesium supplement (such as magnesium citrate,
glycinate or taurinate) in doses of 400 mg/day can be helpful.
Physical stress also lowers immunity. A common source of stress is an unhealthy diet.
The amount of sugar in a can of soda (even if it’s organic!) significantly reduces the
function of crucial white blood cells called neutrophils for many hours, opening the door
to infection. Alcohol and fried foods also reduce immunity. Other factors that lower
resistance include deficient vitamins and minerals, exposure to environmental toxins such
as cigarette smoke, perfumes, pesticides and exhaust fumes, and not getting adequate sleep.
Numerous nutrients, including Vitamin A, C, E, B complex, zinc and magnesium are essential
for proper immune function. While it is best to obtain these from our diet, the vast majority
of people’s diets lack optimal nutrient levels. I advise taking at lest 1,000 mg of Vitamin C
twice a day and a quality multivitamin as an insurance policy (there are a couple of
world -class supplement manufacturers in Santa Cruz county, Rainbow Light and Source Naturals,
both of which make excellent multiples).
There are many other nutrients and herbs that can boost immunity. Medicinal mushroom
extracts such as maitake and shiitake, herbal tonics like astragalus and garlic, colostrum
and a colustrum extract known as transfer factor, and specially processed whey protein can
be great immune boosters.
An incipient infection can often be headed off at the pass with intensive measures. At
the first sign of illness I advise taking 2,000-4.000 mg of Vitamin C every hour until one
gets loose stools. High doses of echinacea, propolis, zinc lozenges, Yin Chiao (a Chinese
herbal formula) and drinking lots of water can help. Oscillococcinum (a homeopathic
remedy) can help head off influenza. Getting adequate rest is essential.
If we become ill, there are a variety of anti-viral medicines and supplements that can
be helpful. Tamiflu is a new prescription medicine that can help, but it is currently in
short supply. Older anti-viral drugs like Symmetrel can also help. Many herbs have anti-viral
actions. Sambucol, an extract of elderberry, has been proven effective for treating influenza.
Gan Mao Ling, a Chinese herbal formula, contains anti-viral herbs. Oregano oil, olive leaf
extract, lomatium and colloidal silver are widely available natural anti-viral agents.
Andrographis, another Chinese herb, can quickly boost immunity and speed recovery, as can thymus
glandular extracts (I especially recommend ProBoost (which you can learn more about at
http://www.proboostmed.com/), a sublingual thymus hormone powder).
Homeopathy can be remarkably effective for treating influenza. Patients who were treated
homeopathically in the great flu pandemic of 1918-1919 had much lower mortality rates. When there
is an epidemic, homeopaths usaully are able to identify a homeopathic remedy that is very
effective in treating that epidemic, so if a pandemic occurs our local homeopaths (including
myself) should be in a position to help many people. Acupuncture can also be helpful.
High doses of intravenous Vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals can be very effective in
treating serious acute viral infections. At our clinic we often give people 50 grams of vitamin C
intravenously over a couple hours, which can be extremely effective for treating serious viral
infections. Colloidal silver given intravenously can also help acute viral infections, as can
intravenous dilute solutions of hydrochloric acid.
While conventional antibiotics do not help influenza, some people develop bacterial pneumonia
after influenza, in which case antibiotics could be life saving.
Because influenza symptoms come on quickly and because it is best to treat it aggressively
as soon as possible, it is wise to have at least some potential flu remedies on hand at home.
Even if (hopefully) a pandemic does not strike soon, these remedies may still prove useful for
winter colds and the normal annual influenza outbreaks. I have prepared some home flu-preparation
kits containing some of my favorite remedies, which will soon be available for purchase through
our office. Details will soon be available here within a few days.
Several useful articles on natural therapies for influenza can be found at http://www.healthy.net/scr/condition.asp?ConditionId=168
NEW ADVANCES IN DETOXIFICATION
One of the main underlying causes of illness is toxicity. As our external world becomes increasingly more
polluted we are all affected, but a commonly overlooked source of toxicity is biotoxins, extremely toxic
substances produced by mold, fungi and bacteria in our external and internal environments. Such toxins
often bind to the membranes of our cells, resulting in a wide variety of disturbances that often result in
neurological symptoms including problems with memory and concentration, tingling and numbness, disturbed
vision and hearing, insomnia, anxiety and depression. They also result in our blood becoming thick and more
likely to clot, impairing circulation through capillaries and interfering with the delivery of oxygen and nutrients
to all of our organs.
I thus recommend that everyone take at least 2-3 weeks to do an internal cleansing program each year.
According to Chinese medicine spring is the optimal time of year to detoxify, as it is the season when our livers
can best handle the stress of detoxification. As we detoxify, toxins leave our tissues, entering our bloodstream
and going to the liver. If we do not provide careful support to our organs of detoxification we can become more
ill during this process.
Detox programs involve limiting our diets to primarily organic fruits and vegetables while making sure we
support our detox systems with specific nutrients, herbs and homeopathics while drinking lots of pure water,
doing intestinal cleansing, and stimulating our lymphatic systems. I wrote basic guidelines for this in columns last
spring which I have republished just below this article.
As vital as such a program is, it is often insufficient for those suffering from significant toxicity with heavy metals
and neurotoxins/biotoxins. Patricia Kane is a nutrition researcher and leading expert on fatty acids who has developed
a promising new approach to reducing our load of neurotoxins.
Dr. Kane’s protocol involves assessing the level of neurotoxins with a simple non-invasive Visual Contrast Sensitivity
test, and evaluating fatty acid levels in the membranes of red blood cells. Most people have suboptimal ratios of omega 6
to omega 3 fatty acids and accumulation of unhealthy very long chain fatty acids called renegade fats.
Treatment involves oral supplementation with essential fatty acids and phosphatidylcholine, a key component of cell
membranes. Renegade fats are broken down by giving butyric acid. A key part of her program is to give intravenous
phosphatidylcholine and glutathione, a crucial antioxidant that binds to heavy metals and other toxins. Innovative physicians
have added chelating agents such as DMPS and EDTA to her protocol.
Dr. Kane has seen excellent clinical responses to her program in many patients with a wide variety of serious conditions
which are difficult to treat, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS
(Lou Gehrig's Disease), Autism, and Lyme Disease. I have been impressed with both her results and the results of other
physicians who have been using her approach and am now just beginning to try it with some of my most challenging patients.
I’ll report on my results in the future.
Those who wish to learn more about this can go to http://www.detoxxbox.com/main/articles/townsend_info.htm,
www.detoxxbox.com and to http://www.chronicneurotoxins.com/.
A DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN AGAINST NATURAL MEDICINE?
In recent months the newspapers and newscasts have reported on research study after
study purporting to prove the ineffectiveness of many popular natural therapies. From
reading the headlines, one would conclude that Vitamin E is not only ineffective but
dangerous, that calcium does not prevent osteoporosis, glucosamine and chondroitin do
not help arthrits, saw palmetto does not help prostate enlargement, low fat diets do not
benefit health, and lowering homocysteine does not prevent heart disease. However, all
of those conclusions would be incorrect. The aforementioned studies all have significant
flaws in their design and/or interpretation.
The first broadside in the recent attacks on supplements were the studies claiming that
Vitamin E was not only not beneficial but could be dangerous. These studies had several
flaws, the most significant of which is that they primarily used synthetic dl-alpha
tocopherol versus natural d-alpha tocopherol with mixed tocopherols. Synthetic Vitamin
E is only half as potent as the natural form, and taking solely alpha tocopheol (natural
or synthetic) reduces the levels of other forms of VItamin E such as gamma tocopherol,
which may be hazardous. Also, the patients in these studies were already crtitically
ill. Numerous studies giving natural mixed tocpherols to relatively healthy people have
shown tremendous benefits time and time again.
A study in the February 2006 New England Journal of Medicne claimed that women who
took calcium and vitamin D did not obtain any protection against hip fracture, but this
study had many flaws. Patients in the placebo group were allowed to take multivitamins
with calcium, Vitamin D and other bone-protecting nutrients. 40% of those who were
given Calcium and Vitamin D did not acheive adequate compliance (did not take their
supplements regularly) but were still included in the study. The form of calcium given
was calcium carbonate, which is notoriously difficult to absorb, and the amount of Vitamin
D given was only 400 IU, whereas many experts now advise 2000 IU. Despite these
flaws, those in the treatment group still had 29% fewer hip fractures than the placebo
group! Even the very mainstream Osteoporosis Education Project said “a more careful look
at the study suggests that the headlines are misleading and that calcium and Vitamin D are indeed
helpful in preventing osteoporotic fractures.)
In February the media also reported that Glucosamine and Chondroitin were ineffective
in treating arthritis. Once again, this study was both poorly designed and analyzed. The
biggest problem was that Glucosamine Hydrochloride was studied rather that
Glucosamine Sulfate, which has been shown to be more effective in previous studies.
Despite this flaw, the study actually found that for patients with moderate to severe
osteoarthritis, the combination of Glucosmaine and Chndroitin reduced pain about 25%
and helped even more than the popular arthritis drug celebrex, to which it was
compared. The study also concluded “treatment with chondroitin sulfate was associated
with a significant decrease in...joint swelling, effusion or both.” Results would likely
be more impressive if they used the optimal form of glucosmine.
Another recent study claimed saw palmetto did not help reduce symptoms of prostate
enlargement, despite numerous previous studes which have found that it does. In this
study patients with extremely enlarged prostates were studied, but given the same dose
that is used for mild to moderate enlargement. While it is possbile that saw palmetto is
not effective for severe prostate problems, it might well be effective in higher doses.
While it is possible that saw palmetto is not effective for severe prostate problems,
even the head of this study states “it is reasonable to try a higher saw paletto dose.”
Another February study claimed to find that low-fat diets do not protect women against
heart atacks, strokes or cancer. However, this study did not differentiate which type of
fates were being consumed, failing to distinguish between healthy fats such as Omega
3’s and toxic fats such as trans fatty acids. Also, only one in 7 women assigned to the
low-fat group adequately followed a low-fat diet and the study was based on responses to
questionnaires, which have been demonstrated many times to be quite unreliable.
Still another recent study found that lowereing homocysteine, a toxic product of
metabolism associated with increased cardiovascular risk, did not lower risk of a heart
attack. The biggest flaw of this study is that all of the participants had already
suffered a heart attack. This might be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are
out. There is still every reason to believe that lowering homocyteine can help revent initial
heart attacks, but one would never know this from reading the headlines.
Due to the large number of “negative” studies coming out recently, many proponents of
alternative medicine suspect that there is an organized effort being made to discredit
complementary/alternative medicine. Pharmaceutical companies make billions and billions of
dollars and feel threatened when people start using inexpensive unpatentable natural
remedies instead of expensive patented phamaceuticals to treat their maladies. Most of
the authors of these studies received significant funding from the pharmaceutical
indusrty, representing a significant conflict of interest. Also of interest, many of the
negative “scare headlines” started with misleading press releases from Federal
Agencies. The bottom line is one should not believe everything they read, and the next
time you see a study claiming to discredit a natural theory, read the whole article.
Often the last paragraph or two will include a comment or two from scientists who question its
validity and point out its flaws.
SUN & SUPPLEMENTS TO TREAT PAIN & PREVENT CANCER & HEART DISEASE
As we are now in winter, the darkest time of year, its a good time
to reflect on the crucial role of sunlight on health and a simple
measure everyone can take to compensate for lack of sun.
Many common serious health problems are associated with lack of sun
exposure. For example, both high blood pressure and death from heart
disease increase in the winter months and are more common at higher
latitudes. The farther one lives from the equator the greater the
incidence of multiple sclerosis. Lack of exposure to sunlight increases
the risk of death from the most common fatal cancers, including breast,
colon, lung, prostate, uterine, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. And many
people become depressed due to lack of sun in the winter, a condition known
as seasonal affective disorder.
How does sunlight play a role in so many conditions? While sunshine affects
us in many ways, the most important known effect is in enabling us to produce
Vitamin D. Low levels of Vitamin D have been correlated with increased risk
of the aforementioned conditions. If we get plenty of sunshine during the
summer we can produce adequate levels of Vitamin D. However, during the winter
months at the latitude of Northern California, even spending all day sun bathing
in the nude won't result in adequate Vitamin D production because of low levels
of ultraviolet light reaching us. If the sun is not strong enough to cause a tan,
it wont stimulate adequate Vitamin D production.
It is well known that Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to absorb and utilize
calcium, but recent research shows it plays many other crucial roles. A study in
Minnesota showed that 93% of patinets with perisstent nonspecific musculoskeletal
pain were defiecient in Vitamin D. Another study found that 83% of patients with
low back pain were deficient. Treating them with 5,000-10,000 units of Vitamin D
reduced or eliminated pain in over 95% of these patients.
Vitamin D can significantly lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance
and reduces blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D
supplementation in infants and children reduces the incidence of type 1 diabetes
by about 80%. There is research showing low Vitamin D can cause seizures and
taking Vitamin D reduces seizure frequency. Some people have less frequent and
severe migraine headaches when taking Vitamin D. Vitamin D has been shown to be
more effective than sunlight in treating season affective disorder.
Vitamin D also may play a role in inflammatory and autoimmune disease. Low levels
are common in people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves disease and other
autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D reduces exacerbations of multiple sclerosis.
Supplementation also reduces C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.
While the RDA of Vitamin D is a paltry 400 IU, recent research suggests adult
srequire 3,000-5,000/day. The optimal form to take is Vitamin D3, also known as
cholecalciferol. A blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D can show ones status, with
levels below 20 mg/ml showing clear deficiency, levels below 40 suboptimal, and
optimal levels being 40-65. It is possible to become toxic from too much Vitamin D,
but most adults would have to take massive doses for months to become toxic.
However, some people are hypersensitive and can become toxic at lower doses.
4,000 units/day is safe for most adults. One expert estimates between 23,000 and
47,000 cancer deaths might be prevented each year in America by taking adequate
levels of Vitamin D.
A wonderful extensive review of recent research on Vitamin D can be found at
PREVENTING AND TREATING COLDS AND FLU
As cold and flu season returns, there is much we can do to boost immujne function
and prevent illness. We are frequently exposed to viruses and bacteria,
but if our immunity is strong we can avoid infections. Many people are concerned about
the shortage of flu vaccine this year, but flu vaccine is far from fool-proof
(for example, last year's flu vaccine was largely ineffectvie against the
predominant strain of flu). Additionally, flu vaccine contains thimerosal,
a preservative that contains mercury. Thhere is evidence that those who get
frequent flu vaccinations have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's
disease, most like as a result of their exposures to mercury. There are many
ways to prevent and treat influenza other than getting flu vaccine. Of course,
avoiding contact with those who are ill, frequently washing hands after potential
contact with sources of germs, and avoiding touching one's nose and mouth with
your hands can reduce the chances of contagion.
Numerous research studies confirm that psychological stress significantly
increases our susceptibility to infection. My favorite strategy to reduce
stress is adopting an attitude of acceptance, understanding that the
difficulties we encounter are challenges from which we can learn and grow.
Living in the here and now as much as possible reduces our stress. Other
invaluable stress reduction techniques include meditation, prayer, exercise,
and talking to and seeking support from friends and family.
Physical stress also lowers immunity. A common source of stress is an
unhealthy diet. The amount of sugar in a can of soda (even if its organic!)
significantly reduces the function of crucial white blood cells called
neutrophils for many hours, opening the door to infection. Alcohol and
fried foods also reduce immunity. Other factors that lower resistance
include deficient vitamins and minerals, exposure to environmental toxins
such as cigarette smoke, perfumes, pesticides and exhaust fumes, and not
getting adequate sleep.
Some people get frequent infections because of chronic stresses to the
immune system, including allergies to mold, dust and pollens, food allergies,
chronic viral infections, or chronic intestinal imbalances including yeast
and parasite infections. Many people who have been treated with antibiotics
multiple times develop imbalances of intestinal flora, causing lowered
immunity. Other prescription medicines such as steroids and anti-inflammatory
drugs directly and indirectly suppress immune function. Heavy metal toxicity
also suppresses immunity.
Numerous nutrients, including Vitamin A, C, E, B complex and zinc are essential
for proper immune function. While it is best to obtain these from out diet
the vast majority of peoples diets lack optimal nutrient levels. I advise
taking at lest 1,000 mg of Vitamin C twice a day and a quality multivitamin
as an insurance policy.
There are many other nutrients and herbs that can boost immunity. Medicinal
mushroom extracts such as maitake and shiitake, herbal tonics like astragalus
and garlic, colostrum and a colustrum extract known as transfer factor, and
specially processed whey protein can be great immune boosters.
An incipient infection can often be headed off at the pass with intensive
measures. At the first sign of illness I advise taking 2,000 mg of Vitamin C
every hour until one gets loose stools. High doses of echinacea, propolis,
zinc lozenges, Yin Chiao (a Chinese herbal formula) and drinking lots of water
can help. Oscillococcinum (a homeopathic remedy) can help head off influenza.
Getting adequate rest is essential.
Despite our best efforts we may still get sick. This is not necessarily a bad
thing. Homeopaths and naturopaths believe there is often a useful purpose to
having an acute infection. It stimulates our immune system and is a way for
our body to detoxify. Sometimes it is natures way of telling us to slow down.
Bacterial infections such as strep throat and bacterial pneumonia respond well
to antibiotics, but common viral infections such as colds and bronchitis are
not helped by antibiotics. My favorite treatment for acute infections is
homeopathy, which can be remarkably effective. Acupuncture and herbs can also
be helpful (a Chinese herb called Andrographis is one of many that can help boost
immunity and speed our recovery).High doses of intravenous Vitamin C with other
vitamins and minerals can be very effective for serious infections. Sambucol, an
extract of elderberry,has been shown to be effective for treating influenza.
Several useful articles on natural therapies for influenza can be found
Lyme Disease Invades Santa Cruz
by Randy S. Baker, MD
Lyme Disease is sometimes called the Hidden Epidemic and the Great Imitator. Until a couple of years ago I believed it was uncommon in our area. Two patients with chronic fatigue and joint pains insisted I test them for Lyme. When both tested positive, I began to realize Lyme was far from uncommon in our area. Since then, my associate, Cindy Quattro, and I have diagnosed many patients with Lyme Disease. Most of these people were previously diagnosed with conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis and had not suspected the underlying cause was Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria transmitted by the deer tick. A recent study found that 17.8% of deer ticks in Nisene Marks carry this bacteria. Some researchers feel that Lyme may also be transmitted by mosquitoes, fleas, and mites, but this is not widely accepted. There is also good evidence that Lyme may be sexually transmitted, passed to babies in utero, and passed via blood transfusions. No one knows how many Americans are infected, but estimates range from 2 million to as high as 20 million.
Acute Lyme Disease is characterized by a classic rash with a bullseye pattern surrounding the site of a tick bit. However, only about half of patients with Lyme develop this rash, and about one third of patients with confirmed Lyme do not recall a tick bite. Other acute symptoms include fever and a flu-like illness.
After this, Lyme Disease progresses to a chronic phase. Characteristic symptoms include fatigue, migratory joint pains and swelling (especially the large joints), muscle aches, temporomandibular joint pain, jawbone and tooth infections, heart arrhythmias and insomnia. Lyme also can cause a wide variety of neurological symptoms, including Bells Palsy, poor memory and concentration, fluctuating vision, tingling and numbness. Brain MRIs of Lyme patients can be indistinguishable from the MRI appearance of Multiple Sclerosis. A respected colleague, Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, Ph.D., has found that about half of patients diagnosed with MS actually have Lyme Disease. Some patients diagnosed with ALS have been found to have Lyme.
Both the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease are very controversial. The test that most doctors rely on to screen for Lyme, the ELISA, is positive in less than half of patients with Lyme. Thus, many patients who suffer from Lyme are told they dont have it on the basis of this inaccurate test. A much more sensitive test is the Western Blot but some patients with Lyme may have negative tests. Experts differ in opinions as to how to interpret test results and what constitutes a positive test. Some labs are much more accurate and reliable than others. IGeneX Lab in Palo Alto is one of the best labs for Lyme testing.
If one is fortunate enough to be diagnosed and treated within a few weeks of being exposed to the Lyme bacteria, it will usually respond to three weeks of doxycycline, an antibiotic. However, most cases of Lyme are not diagnosed until years after exposure. The standard treatment recommendation is antibiotics for four weeks, but many Lyme specialists feel that antibiotics for at least six months, and sometimes even for years, are necessary. Often these are powerful antibiotics that must be given by intravenous or intramuscular injection and which cause significant side effects. Of greater concern, many patients are not cured despite this intensive treatment.
Lyme Disease is best treated with a holistic approach. Usually Lyme patients have multiple stresses on the immune system. My first step is to identify and treat other immune stressors, such a tick-transmitted coinfections such as Babesia and Ehrlichia, intestinal imbalances such as parasites, yeast and bacterial dysbiosis, and chronic bacterial, viral and fungal infections (such as dental infections and sinusitis). Many Lyme patients also have toxicity from mercury and other heavy metals.
Immune suppression is common in Lyme patients. Dr. Raphael Stricker has found that most Lyme patients have low activity of a subset of Natural Killer Cells. Immune function can be boosted via proper nutrition, herbs and supplements such as transfer factor and medicinal mushrooms. Intravenous vitamins, acupuncture, homeopathy and mind-body techniques can also boost immunity.
Many practitioners have found herbs to be as effective as antibiotics in treating Lyme. Cats Claw has been getting lots of publicity based on a recent research study suggesting that a special variety free of tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids works better than antibiotics. Artemesia, long used in Chinese medicine, and garlic are also helpful. Some practitioners are also finding success with colloidal silver, given orally and intravenously.
Bee venom therapy (discussed in my June column) is another powerful weapon against Lyme. Bee venom contains mellitin, a chemical that inhibits the growth of the Lyme bacteria at a concentration lower than any known drug. Bee venom is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent which can ameliorate painful joints and muscles common in Lyme patients. I have had Lyme patients experience tremendous long-lasting relief after as little as two injections.
Homeopathy can be another powerful therapy for Lyme. Patients who took antibiotics for years with only limited improvement have had their symptoms totally resolve by using classical homeopathy.
Many practitioners are also finding hyperbaric oxygen therapy to be a useful adjunct in treating Lyme. This is not yet readily available in our area.
One challenge to Lyme treatment is Herxheimer or "die-off" reactions, which are a flare of symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and joint pains as a result of toxins produced as the Lyme bacteria die. Supporting the liver and other organs of detoxification with herbs, homeopathics, acupuncture and nutrients can ameliorate these symptoms.
Having Lyme Disease can be very stressful. Stress reduction, psychosocial support and mind-body therapies are also an important part of a holistic approach to treatment.
There is a huge amount of information on Lyme disease available on the internet. A great place to start is www.ilads.org (this is the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society). The article below this one has a link to Dietrich Klinghardt's protocal for treating Lyme Disease with bee venom and other natural substances. www.dr-zhang.com has information on treating Lyme Disease with Chinese herbs. www.samento.com.ec has a lot of information on Cat's Claw and Lyme Disease.
www.jnutra.com has fascinating information on innovative natural treatments for Lyme Disease that are helping some of my patients (not many of them have tried them yet but we will be checking them out).
You can find a new fascinating article on Lyme by Dietrich Klinghardt, Lyme Disease: A Look Beyond Antibiotics by going to http://www.neuraltherapy.com/articlesProtocols.asp and clicking on the appropriate link. HTere are some other great articles there as well. Happy surfing...
Bee Venom Therapy for Arthritis, Lyme Disease, MS and More
By Randy S. Baker, MD.
Like many physicians, I have long heard about the use of bee venom to treat arthritis, but I was not inspired to try it until last spring, after attending a seminar on neural therapy (more on this in a future column) with Dietrich Klinghardt, MD., PhD. Dr. Klinghardt has been utilizing bee venom in his practice for nearly 20 years and seeing great results in treating not only a variety of arthritic conditions but multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease and many other conditions.
Apitherapy, the therapeutic use of bee venom, has been known in folk medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, discovered serendipitously when people suffering from arthritis were stung by honey bees and discovered that their symptoms miraculously abated. There are many documents of people with crippling arthritis being cured after being stung. This led a few bold doctors to keep beehives so they could perform apitherapy by holding a bee with tweezers over a painful joint and inducing it to sting.
Fortunately, it is much easier to administer bee venom therapy today. I obtain pure bee venom from Michael Simics, who collects bee venom from apiaries in British Columbia in midsummer, when it is at its peak potency. Mr. Simics uses a device that induces the bees to sting and collects venom without them losing their stingers and dying. The bee venom is then mixed with procaine, a local anesthetic, which minimizes the discomfort of the venom, and injected just under the skin.
Allergic reactions to bee venom administered this way are rare; Dr. Klinghardt hasnt had one patient have a serious reaction in nearly 20 years. Most people with a history of bee allergy were actually stung by yellow jackets or wasps and do not have problems with honey bee venom. Nonetheless, apitherapy always starts with a small test dose and the dose is gradually increased over time, with treatment for allergic reactions readily at hand. The most common side effect is itching.
Analysis of bee venom has found it contains a rich mixture of potent biochemicals, including hyaluronidase, phospholipase A, apamin and nerve growth factor. The largest component is mellitin, a potent anti-inflammatory that inhibits the growth of Borrelia, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, at a concentration lower than any pharmaceutical agent.
No treatment works well for everybody, but I have been impressed with the ability of bee venom to relieve symptoms in the vast majority of patients I have treated. I have seen it dramatically relieve joint pain in patients with Lyme disease and various forms of arthritis. I have seen it speed the healing of whiplash injuries, help with pain from herniated discs, and relieve chronic back pain following laminectomy (back surgery). Treatment is given once or twice a week. Some conditions improve with just one or two treatments, while others require a few months.
While my experience with apitherapy is limited, Dr. Klinghardt has found it useful in treating fibromyalgia, post-herpetic neuralgia, vertigo, gout and multiple sclerosis. A recent research study confirmed its effectiveness in multiple sclerosis.
Apitherapy holds great promise for safe and effective relief of many forms of chronic pain, as well as Lyme disease and MS. More information on apitherapy can be found at www.beevenom.com, www.apitherapy.org and http://www.neuraltherapy.com/a_lime_disease.asp (an article on treating Lyme Disease with Bee Venom).
Mercury Toxicity Update
One of the hottest topics this past year has been heavy metal toxicity, especially mercury toxicity. I’ve written about this in the past, but there are new approaches to diagnosis and treatment that merit revisiting this topic.
Mercury is one of the most toxic substances known to man. Due to itsomnipresence in our environment, we all have mercury in our bodies. According to the World Health Organization, “it is not scientifically possible to get a level for mercury in blood or urine below which mercury-related symptoms will not occur”. The symptoms of mercury toxicity are many and varied. Common symptoms include fatigue, weakness, memory loss, depression, irritability, dementia, tremor, headaches, high blood pressure, arthritis, immune suppression, hair loss, kidney disease andinfertility.
Mercury strongly affects the brain and nervous system. Researchers have found evidence linking mercury toxicity with neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s,multiple sclerosis, ALS and Parkinson’s disease. Mercury toxicity may be associated with the rising incidence of childhood neurologic disorders including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disorders.
Coal-burning plants and incinerators release mercury into our atmosphere. Huge quantities of mercury also leak into our environment as a byproduct of an outmoded (but still widely used) method of chlorine production, which could be completely prevented if this method was banned. Mercury rains into oceans, lakes and rivers where bacteria convert it to methylmercury (an especailly toxic form)
and it concentrates up the food chain, reaching potentially dangerous levels in predator
fish, especially swordfish, shark and mackerel, and to a lesser extent in tuna, seabass and
halibut (salmon, sole, sardines and shrimp are among seafood with relatively little mercury). Those eating fish high in mercury frequently can develop serious mercury toxicity. Another source of mercury is thimerosol, a preservative in many vaccines. Infantsgetting all recommended vaccines until recently received doses of mercury in the first 6 months of life far exceeding the level of mercury considered safe by the EPA. In 2000 theFDA advised (but did not mandate) reducing or eliminating thimerosol in
vaccines. While many vaccines have been reformulated without mercury, many vaccines including
influenza and diphtheria-tetanus still contain thimerosol.
For most people the main source of mercury exposure is dental amalgam fillings,composed of about 50% mercury mixed with silver, tin, copper and zinc. Modern research has shown that mercury is continually released from amalgams in the form of vapor. Chewing food, brushing teeth and drinking hot liquids increases vapor release six-fold. Mercury vapor absorbs into the blood and is transported to our tissues. Multiple autopsy studies have shown that the higher the number of amalgams one has, the higher is the concentration of mercury in the brain, nerves, pituitary gland, kidneys and other
organs. The level of mercury in aborted fetuses (and presumably newborn babies) correlates with the number of amalgam fillings the mother has. The use of amalgam fillings has been banned or severely limited in many countries, including Germany, Austria, Sweden and Norway. Incredibly, despite growing evidence to the contrary, the American Dental Association still maintains that amalgams
are safe and thousands of dentists still routinely put mercury into patients’ mouths. Fortunately,
there are safe alternatives to amalgams and a growing number of dentists practice mercury-free dentistry.
References and further information on mercury in seafood can be found at
http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/press/mercury; on thiomersol at http://www.909shot.com and
amalgams at http://www.holisticmed.com/dental/amalgam.
Next month I will discuss new developments in diagnosing and treating mercury toxicity.
MERCURY DETOXIFICATION (4/04)
Last month, I discussed the growing problem of mercury toxicity. The main sources of
mercury exposure are dental amalgam fillings and seafood. Mercury accumulates in
seafood after being released into our environment from the burning of coal. I have just
learned that an even greater source of mercury being released into our environment is a
by-product of an outdated method of chlorine manufacturing (which is not being regulated by the EPA).
We all have some mercury in our systems, but the higher the level the more likely itwill result in the wide range of adverse effects ranging from fatigue to neurodegenerativedisease. However, it is not easy to determine how much mercury is within our bodies. Blood tests reveal how much mercury we have been exposed to in recent months but tells us nothing about past exposures. Elevated levels in hair are suggestive of mercury toxicity, but could also be due to external contamination. Because hair is a route of mercury excretion, and some people have poor mechanisms of excretion, it is possible to have high levels of mercury with very low levels in one’s hair.
The test that is most valuable in assessing the toxicity of mercury and other heavy
metals is a provocative challenge test. This involves taking a single dose of a medicine
that chelates (binds to) mercury and other metals. One then collects urine for the next six hours, which is tested for levels of heavy metals. While opinions vary as to which
chelating agent is best, I have found a drug called DMPS to be the most safe and effective.
If one is found to have high levels of mercury, it is imperative to detoxify with,care. Mercury tends to accumulate in our brain, liver and kidneys. As one mobilizesmercury to eliminate it, it is a hot potato that can cause damage as it moves out of ourbodies. How to best accomplish this is controversial, as various authorities on the subjectmhave highly contradictory protocols for mercury detox. I have studied with many of the leading experts in the field, and feel the protocols developed by Dietrich Klinghardt, M.D.,Ph.D., are the safest and best thought-out.
If one still has amalgam fillings, the first step in detoxifying mercury is to havethese fillings removed and replaced with less toxic alternatives. It is crucial to have this done by a dentist trained in proper protocols for safe amalgam removal, as it is impossible to remove amalgams without temporarily increasing the mercury in our systems. Taking proper supplements and herbs during the process of amalgam removal is also important. Intravenous vitamin C drips can be very helpful immediately following amalgam removal.
Once amalgams are removed, I advise a program of detoxification involving a variety of supplements including chlorella, cilantro, whey protein, selenium and omega 3 fatty acids, as well as occasional doses of DMPS. Useful adjunctive measures include proper diet, lymphatic massage and homeopathy. It usually takes between 6 and 24 months to safely detoxify someone who is toxic with mercury.
Here is a link to an excellent article on mercury detoxification, http://www.mercola.com/article/mercury/mercury_elimination.htm, written by Dr. Klinghardt and Joseph Mercola D.O. Here is a link to A Comprehensive Review of Heavy Metal Detoxification and Clinical Pearls from 30 Years of Medical Practice by Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD, http://www.neuraltherapy.com/heavyMetalDetox.doc. If it asks you to log in, just click on "cancel" and the article should appear (it is a MS documnet, so may not work on Macs...)
As we are approaching spring, which is the optimal season for detoxification, I will
discuss approaches to doing a personal general cleansing program next month.
Staying Healthy in a Toxic World (4/20/04)
Our world is becoming increasingly toxic. The U.S. produces over 6 billion pounds of pollutants every year, more than 20 pounds for every man, woman and child. Every person on earth has numerous toxins including mercury, lead, DDT, PCBs and dioxins - even new born babies who are exposed in utero. Environmental toxins contribute to the cause of numerous diseases including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, attention deficit disorder and autism.
I recommend that everyone do a 1-3 week cleanse to detoxify at least once a year. Spring is the optimal season to detoxify. Most people feel more clear and energetic after a cleanse, and symptoms such as headaches, allergies, muscle and joint pains, and abdominal distress often improve. Most people lose 5-10 pounds as well.
During a cleanse we avoid toxins while supporting our organs of detoxification. In the past, people would cleanse by fasting. However, in modern times fasting is dangerous. As we detoxify, toxins leave our tissues and re-enter the bloodstream. If we dont detoxify slowly while supporting our organs of detoxification, we can become more sick and toxic.
A cleansing diet avoids foods that tend to be toxic as well as foods that are difficult to digest or are commonly allergenic. The most common allergens are dairy, eggs, wheat and other glutinous grains, (rye, oats, and barley), soy, corn, peanuts and almonds. Those with arthritis should also avoid citrus and nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers). One should generally avoid foods of animal origin, with the possible exception of organic chicken, wild salmon, sardines, and purified fish oil. Thus, a cleansing diet is primarily organic fruits and vegetables and non-glutinous grains (rice, millet, quinoa and amaranth), as well as beans, seeds, olive oil, flax oil, and hempseed oil, sunflower oil and coconut oil. Many foods can be eaten raw. Steaming is a great and simple method to prepare vegetables.
After starting on this diet, one may go even deeper by having only raw fruits and vegetables. However, if avoiding protein foods for more than a couple of days it is wise to take about 30 grams of protein as a rice protein powder. Our body needs this much protein each day, and if we dont get it from our diet our muscles start to break down.
The most important organ of detoxification is the liver. We can support our livers detoxification functions by getting adequate protein, taking antioxidants including Vitamin C (1000-2000 mg 3x/day, Vitamin E (400-800 i.u./day) and a good multivitamin. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc.), onions and garlic support the liver, as do a wide variety of herbs including milk thistle seed, dandelion root, burdock, and chrysanthemum. I recommend ProGreens, a powdered mix of superfoods, herbs and probiotics (acidophilus, bibidobacteria etc.) available at my office, and Mediclear by Thorne Research, Fast and Be Clear by Allerg Research Group, or Ultraclear by Metagenics as well-designed rice protein powders with added vitamins, minerals, nutrients and herbs intended to support a cleansing program. These are also available through my office.
The liver excretes toxins into the intestines. It is important to keep the intestines moving. Fiber such as psyllium and ground flax seeds, triphala (3 ayurvedic fruits) and laxative herbs like senna, cascara sagrada, turkey rhubarb and aloe can be used to insure at least 2 bowel movements a day. One of my favorite products is Tricleanse by Planetary Formulas, formulated by local herbalist Michael Tierra, which contains Triphala, fiber and other herbs (and, you guessed it, we carry it at our office). Chlorella binds to toxins, preventing their reabsorption into the bloodstream. Probiotics such as acidophilus and bifidus are also beneficial. Many practitioners advise enemas and colonics as part of a cleanse. This may be especially helpful for those with chronic gastrointestinal distress.
One can help the kidneys detoxify by drinking lots of purified or quality spring water. Toxins are also excreted by the skin and through our lymphatic channels. Massage (especially lymphatic massage), dry skin brushing, moderate exercise, hot baths and saunas facilitate this process.
One of the most crucial parts of a cleanse is coming out of it. After a week of avoiding potentially allergenic foods one should reintroduce one food each day. How one feels within hours of adding back a food provides a good clue as to how well one tolerates it. Food allergies can cause virtually any symptom, from fatigue and spaciness to headaches, muscle and joint pains, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, anxiety, depression, etc. When we eat a food we are allergic to on a regular basis, the symptoms may be low-grade and hard to associate with that food, as they may not occur until the next day. When we have avoided an allergenic food for a week or more, the reactions tend to be more dramatic and obvious, often occuring shortly after the challenge. If you challenge with a food and feel worse afterwards, but are unsure if your symptoms were caused by that food, it is wise to avoid that food for at least 4 more days and then reinroduce it again to see if you get a consistent reaction.
It is important to get plenty of rest during a cleanse. Other useful adjuncts include acupuncture and homeopathy. It is common to feel worse the first few days of a cleanse, but feeling really bad is a sign one is detoxifying too rapidly or not adequately supporting their organs of detoxification. Anyone with significant health problems should not undertake a cleansing program without the support of a qualified practitioner.
An extensive and excellent artticle on Detoxification by my friend and colleague Elson Hass MD, from his highly recommeded book Staying Healthy With Nutrition, is available online here: http://www.healthy.net/asp/templates/article.asp?pageType=article&Id=1558.
As I am writing this I am on the second week of my annual cleanse and am feeling more light and clear. The first few days were a bit of a challenge, but now most of my cravings for the foods I am avoiding have disappeared. Good luck to those who try a cleansing program!
Here are a couple of recipes for healthy eating year-round:
Randy's Organic Super Spring Salad:
Lots of spring lettuce mix
Several thin slices of red onion (slice, then cut each slice into 2-4 sections)
Slices of avocado
Finely chopped red cabbage
Sunflower sprouts and/or "Micro Mix" (by New Natives, available at our local farmers markets and health food stores)
Pecans and/or walnuts
Sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds
(Of course, its not necessary to have all of these ingredients, but I find the more you have the more satisfying and exciting it is! )
Mix all together in a large bowl, top with flaxseed oil, hempseed oil or sunflower oil and balsamic vinegar. Or, make a slighty more elaborate dressing by adding a bit of salt, pepper, garlic, and chopped fresh rosemary or other fresh herbs to the oil and vinegar.
QUICK AND EASY STEAM POT
Boil water in a steamer
Add several slices of red onion
After a few minutes add fresh fish (I recommend grenadier (a local rockfish), or sole, or fresh or frozen shrimp)
After a couple of minutes add sugar snap peas, and/or green beans
Cook another 2-3 minutes, then pour the contents of the steamer into a bowl. Squeeze some lemon and/or add a bit of habenero sauce or tamari sauce and enjoy!!!