Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Role of bodywork in Integrative Medicine

"What do you mean by bodywork?"

This is one of the most frequent questions I receive in my practice - what do you mean by bodywork.  

The importance of bodywork as a part of general maintenance cannot be overstated, and the topic is so vast I almost don’t know where to begin.  First, let’s clarify what I mean by bodywork: chiropractic, therapeutic massage, acupuncture and oriental massage, bioenergetics, feldenkrais, and yoga therapy are just the tip of the body-work iceberg and play an important role in both the healing process and general preventive maintenance.

In the beginning…One of the basic tenants in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is the adage “Where there is blockage, there is pain.” We learned it on our first day of graduate school, and continued to hear it throughout our education.  From the standpoint of classical acupuncture, whenever the free-flowing nature of qi is blocked or moved from its natural
course, it will accumulate and cause pain or internal disease.  To keep things simple, we will discuss a few basic reasons for this:  excess, deficiency and stasis/stagnation.  You may find it helpful to keep in mind the idea of a stream bed for this principle.

Picture, if you will, a mountain stream with ample water running through it so that the water moves freely, and is clean, clear; it stays within its natural boundaries, and it is fresh – nourishing to what surrounds it.  This is a good metaphor for the movement of qi through the body in the absence of disease.   Now a river at the end of the summer or during times of drought has less volume moving in thecreek bed; it pools up in places because there is not enough water to push through the rocks, due to a deficiency.  When water pools, it becomes stagnant (with all the bugs and scum floating on the top).  Now translate this principle into the human body:  when there is a deficiency of qi so that there is not enough to flow through its natural course, it will pool and stagnate.  If left unattended, it will
accumulate to cause pain or disease (maybe that is our layer of scum at the top of
the pool…)

Similarly, a creek bed in the springtime after the snow melt will often overflow the banks, with water flooding outside the normal course.  This is due to too much water flowing through the river bed, causing flooding and damage to the surrounding area.  This also results in stagnation – only this time due to an excess, which also will cause pain or disease if left unattended. 

The purpose of regular bodywork is to ensure that the body’s vital energy moves in its proper direction, that there is enough of it so that things do not pool up and become stagnant, or overflow and cause ‘flooding.’   How much and what type of bodywork to get may seem confusing, but there are some general concepts to keep in mind that may be helpful when exploring this for the first time. 

Structural IntegrityFans of Star Trek (my favorite analogy) will have heard about ‘structural integrity’.  in terms of the ship staying in one piece.  Our physical body is similar to the Enterprise – it is the vessel for our travels though time and space.  In this case, I
define structural problems as musculoskeletal (and joints).  The large muscle groups support the alignment of the body: the quadriceps, periformis, psoas, and hamstrings support the alignment of the pelvis, the erector spinae on either side of the spinal column help maintain the spine in its proper curvature, shoulder and cervical muscles connect in the neck region.  While it may be obvious that sprain/strain, insufficient exercise, injury and trauma will cause these muscle groups to move out of balance (resulting in inflammation and pain), you may not understand that it also takes qi or vital energy to hold bones and muscles in their proper alignment, not just strength and flexibility.   It is how someone with a TCM diagnosis of kidney deficiency may have mild low back pain as a symptom.  The
vital energy of the kidneys (separate from Kidney organ function) help to strengthen that area of the body.  It is also why someone with an excess of liver qi may experience sharp pain down the sides of the legs – the energetics of this organ influence this region of the body.  Because a long-term deficiency or excess can result in a structural problem even in the absence of an injury, regular bodywork is essential to maintaining structural integrity.

In my private practice, I use acupuncture and oriental medicine to regulate qi flow,
since it is wonderful for relieving the pain of stagnation whether it caused by
excess or deficiency (usually things are a mixture of both).  We build up the body
when there is not enough “water” moving through the stream, and drain areas
when there is too much.  Generally, my patients with chronic back pain often
require a structural adjustment from a chiropractor followed by deep tissue
massage or acupuncture to breakup the scar tissue or muscle tension that moved
the vertebrae out to begin with.  The muscles of the body have memory – and it
takes time and physical manipulation to coax them back into proper alignment,
and relieve the pain of inflammation.

How quickly someone responds to treatment is a mixture of things:
•        How long have you had the condition?
•        How severe is the problem?
•        How healthy were you to begin with?  Do you have an underlying internal
condition that hampers your recovery?
•        Are you willing to take supportive measures such as yoga and strength
training to prevent recurrences?

For patients who are particularly deficient from chronic endocrine disorder such as
hypothyroid or diabetes, immuno-compromised, or undergoing multiple drug
regimens, it will take longer to experience physical relief because the body is often
too weak to hold itself together properly for any length of time.  It is why you may
feel really good for a day or two after a treatment, only to find the body returning
to the old pattern a few days later.  Rest assured it is a good sign - your body is
responding to treatment.  The muscles have just not healed enough to stay in
their proper position.

A good rule of thumb is to allow one month of regular treatment (regular meaning 2x per week) for every month you have had the condition.  Multiple modalities, such as massage with acupuncture and chiropractic will generally yield faster results that are more complete, because  you are addressing several aspects at the same time – bones (chiropractic), muscles (deep tissue massage), pain/ inflammation/ weakness and atrophy (acupuncture and oriental medicine) . 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Financial Freedom is an Envelope Away

( While seemingly off topic, this is a loose transcription of a Finance Course I recently taught at the local Acupuncture School.  Enjoy!)

When I first began working in the finance industry prior to becoming an acupuncturist, I worked with a financial planner whose approach to money management was rooted in the principles of Debtors Anonymous.  Its precepts espouse mindfulness, living on a disciplined budget, incurring no further debt.  Pretty typical for most folks who follow Dave Ramsey or Suzy Ormand's philosophy.  What perhaps separates the DA program from others is the insistence that pleasure and savings must be included in your spending plan, and that as you pay down debt, you don't just roll over the additional cash flow to paying down your next vendor, you in fact spread the wealth to your other categories like vacation, hobbies, savings, educational goals, with an eye to never incurring more debt.  In short, it focuses much more on creating a LIFE as opposed to eliminating debt.  

I have fundamental issues with many of the financial pundits because their focus is on eliminating debt as fast as possible, with not enough attention being given to creating a meaningful budget that can be sustained LONG TERM.  It is almost as if the fact that we have incurred the debt means that we have to wear the proverbial hair shirt and live a Spartan existence devoid of pleasure and beauty until we are debt free and earn the right to have joy in our lives again.  

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
(Remember what happened to Jack Nicholson in The Shining?  Exactly.)

But all work and debt repayment ALSO makes Jack a whim based crazed shopper, leading to impulse purchases and buyer's remorse.  An emergency fund of only $1000 (another Ormand/Ramsey rule) even for a single person is ridiculously small.  (4 tires, a canine UTI, and an unexpected new windshield last year took care of mine last year).  

As a small business owner (firmly steeped in the principles of DA) I didn't know that to begin a business requires capital and that in fact 5 years into my practice I would have over $30K in business start up debt.  Stuff happens, clinics fail or move, cash flow is dicey the first 5-10 years, economic down turns happen.  In fact, I was my own worst enemy in terms of self-flagellation with regard to carrying business debt.  But being steeped in mindfulness in spending, once cash flow was established, those balances were put on automatic payments and basically forgotten about.  I turned my attention to cash flow and creating wealth and in order to do that, I had to include a basic principle that is overlooked by most of financial planners: PAY YOURSELF FIRST.

You are more important than your credit card (or other kinds) of debt.  You, your family, your life.  And in my experience, an eye to wealth creating brings in more wealth.  I had to take my mental focus OFF the debt repayment, and I keep those payments low enough to PAY MYSELF FIRST so that by the time I paid off all my start up debt, I also had a decent amount in savings (which then got used during the downturn in 2009 and 2010, so grateful I had it). 

I didn't start this practice until I had been in practice at least 6 years, and I wish I had done it sooner.  Things are often sporadic in terms of cash flow in a new business, and I tended to squirrel money away in fits and starts rather than in a systematic payment. Things really changed when I started paying myself on the first with an automatic draw into my savings account.  And while it may sound crazy, somehow there was always money remaining at the end of the month even though I took out a chunk for myself and the IRS. This was my first step toward wealth accumulation.

Somewhere in this process, I had the great good fortune to read a book by 
Dr. John Di Martini, noted author and new-age philosopher of sorts, which lifted the emotional charge I had to my business debt years ago and changed everything.  Instead of castigating myself for the CC debt I had engendered starting my business, I needed to reframe how I saw the credit card companies.   These companies (namely Citibank, Chase and MasterCard) were in fact my investors:  they believed in me enough to supply me with the capital I needed to grow my business at a time where no one else would. 

Now you can be cynical about these companies and complain about interest payments, etc. but the fact of the matter is that new business owners do not qualify for business financing through the SBA unless they have been successfully turning a profit for two years and have at least 50K in capitol reserves.  Sorry, but if I had that kind of operating capitol back in the early days, I WOULD NOT NEED THE CREDIT CARDS.

The fact is that Citibank and Chase loaned me that money, and this simple change in perspective allowed me to stop blaming myself and feeling guilt.  I shifted my focus to gratitude that I had been able to have that capitol when I needed it, and gratitude is an incredibly powerful tool in terms of attracting more abundance.   I took advantage of teaser rates and balance transfers as I paid down the balances, but I took my focus OFF the interest I was paying and looked more to creating a sustaining and meaningful budget which supported my life.  Even now that all that is long since paid off, my budget hasn't really changed much in the last 5 years, since my basic needs are being met (I added opera lessons).  Now my attention has turned to long term savings and repayment of student loans.  

I have counseled dozens of students, friends, and colleagues in what I call the "Come-to-Jesus-talk-about-money-and-finance,"  and professionally lecture on these principles at the graduate level.  What I have discovered is that almost no one is taught sound principles about how to handle money in a powerful and confident manner.  The biggest mistakes I see in working with individuals and families is under-budgeting in areas such as food, household or lack of emergency fund, and many times trying to pay down debt too fast.

When starting a mindfulness approach to budgeting, I have found the following tools helpful:
  1. BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET:   Create a savings and spending plan for yourself which includes categories for every aspect of your life.  Jerry Mundis' book "How to Get out of Debt, Stay out of Debt and Live Prosperously" is one of the best books I have ever read on the principles of DA and creating a spending plan, and you can buy a copy used for $1 at Amazon here. He demonstrates how to create a working savings and spending plan which includes both paying yourself first and disciplined debt repayment.  I include categories like vacation savings, gift savings, beauty products, clothing, emergency, pet, entertainment.
  2. Keep a spending journal.  Yes, until you have this down, write down every single purchase for one month. It can be illuminating.  One of my former students was lucky enough that her parents covered her tuition and rent while she was in school. She had basically no financial aide.  She took out some student loan money near the end of school to help cushion the cost of board exams and licensing, and actually ran out of money before the end of term.  I had her go through three prior months of bank statements and list every single purchase.  She came back shocked that she had spent over $6000 going out and drinking beer, a new surf board, impulse road trips, etc.  A spending journal is essential if you don't know where your money has gone.
  3. CUT UP or freeze your cards in a block of ice. (really) I rarely make impulse purchases with cash.
  4. If you don't have 2-3 months of expenses in savings, PAY YOURSELF FIRST until you do.   Keep your debt payments smaller, and create a cushion.  Once that is established, THEN you can focus on paying down the remainder of the debt.  Sitting in the discomfort of carrying debt is also a crucible of sorts, a means of transformation in itself.  "But what about the interest," you ask.  Fugedaboutit!  At least until you have some savings.  Paying yourself first is more important and sets the stage to avoid future debt. (An exception is if you are over your limit and incurring overance charges.)
  5. LIVE on CASH:  If you have trouble with impulse purchases or going over your budget, consider moving to the envelope method in terms of your personal budget.  On the 1st (or the 15th or whatever your pay period is), consider putting cash in envelopes for each of your categories.  I have used this meethod for years and rarely have issues with it.  If there is a month where I splurged on a pedicure, or dinner out, then it may been to come out of another envelope.  If I don't use the money, I carry it over to the next month.   Folks who have big families with kids and pets  also know that unexpected expenses come up with greater frequency so need to allow for that in their budgets.  
  6. When it all become too much, and paying down that bill looks never ending, like my student loans do at times, I have to remind myself to stay in the moment.  The truth is I have enough to last me until I go to bed tonight;  I have a warm bed to sleep in and a roof over my head, running water.  It's a good day, better than for many people in the world.  I am one of the lucky ones.  
I had to be careful not to let the budget become a tool for rigidity or deprivation.  This is a plan, not a sacred tomb found in a burning bush. I have made big financial mistakes (especially in business, yikes!), and if I learn from them then so much the better.  My financial mistakes ironically are sources of unbridled mirth when my former students do the same thing, and I like to think that the fact that I can laugh about it now (when I wept about this 10 years ago) is healing of a different sort.  We all make these mistakes.  We are ALLOWED TO.  
    Perhaps the biggest difference that I learned in the DA program (as opposed to other types of financial approaches) was that miracles happen when we become clear in our approach to money,  regardless of our spiritual path.  But the miracles I experienced were not rooted in the airy-fairy  "I created my vision board and now it will all manifest effortlessly."  No, these miracles were borne out of hard work, sacrifice, and not a little nail biting.   They say courage is just fear that has said its prayers, well I say AMEN brothers and sisters.  Unexpected windfalls and cash flow happened sometimes in the nick of time, and sometimes things got paid off even sooner than I had budgeted.

    For me, moving to a minimalist lifestyle includes an exploration of what is meaningful to me and creating a life that supports that.  It seems that financial clarity was part of that journey even before I started giving stuff away, so I am curious to see how this may change in the future as I strive to simplify further. 

    Tuesday, July 21, 2015

    And then there were seven.....

    Socks that is.

    I think I understand why a move toward minimalism seems to take a year or so, or at least many months.  I think it is because our senses get refined: the more stuff we unload, the more clearly we see what is around us.  It becomes easier to question "Why am I hanging on to that and what purpose does it serve?"

    My most recent epiphany was in my underwear drawer.  Now in terms of full disclosure, I have had a completely unusable underwear drawer for over a decade (although to put things in perspective, one of my patients asked recently  "You only have one drawer for your delicates?" so maybe not so bad.)

    Ok how many drawers should I have?  

    With a less than 500 sq. foot apartment, drawer space is a premium, but again, since it is an unusable drawer filled to the brim with I don't know what, isn’t it wasted space?  I rarely find socks that match (even though I just washed and matched them – and yes, in the winter I often wear unmatched socks in my boots L).  The good (and boring) undies (you know your favorites) are on top of the ones you never wear (seductive but uncomfortable).

    So as I de-clutter and “de-own” as Josh Becker likes to call it, a come-to-Jesus moment of truth took place with my underwear, a divinely inspired moment of clarity.   I turned it over on the bed like my grandmother used to do when we were kids if it wasn’t tidy enough,  while my dog Piglet looked on with interest, hoping for her chance to steal the socks.

    I took out 7 pairs of socks, one for every day in winter.  I saved a few of pairs of gym/tennis socks since sometimes you do wear more than a pair in a day. One pair of panty hose in black and white.  One slip.  One cami.  Bras in the front.
    (OMG I can FIND them, and who knew I had 5?).

    Out went all the unmatched socks, the silly Christmas socks which I never wear (did I really need 6 pair with various kinds of snowmen?).  Ditto the uncomfortable underwear that promised so much but never actually delivered (you hear me Victoria’s secret?), all the tights and panty hose left over for a corporate life I no longer have. I don’t like to waste things so many of these items stayed regardless of the fact that I live in San Diego where open toed shoes are de rigour 9 months out of the year.  (But I might need them someday…)

    Out went the extra jammies, I kept the newest.  The extra camis, the extra tee shirts and mis-matched workout clothes.  Everything paired down to 2.  My drawers are basically now only half full.

    There is actually a bottom of the drawer visible.

    Now if I don’t do laundry weekly there will be no socks or undies to wear, and putting the clothes away is a pleasure simply because they all fit without me stuffing them in.

    I finally have an underwear drawer that would make Grandma proud.

    Sunday, July 19, 2015

    Buyers Remorse

    Buyers remorse seems to be a common affliction for aspiring minimalists.  As we start to go through the towering heaps, regret for the wasted money is inevitable.  I am no exception.   I have been moving in this direction for a long time, and being mindful about purchases is a long-time habit, so I have been paring down my wardrobe in particular for the last few years.  Insightful advice about purchases, such as "If it's a maybe, it's a no"  have already prevented me from some unnecessary items over the last few years. Likewise, recognizing that if I need something, and buy something on sale which fills the need, but in fact wasn't what I wanted, I tend not to ... (wear it, use it, insert verb here)

    Surprisingly this lesson was inspired by a gift from my sister a few years ago.  In one of her many travels to southern California for work, she brought me a very generous gift.  Someone had gifted her a Coach bag (actually two of them) and she did not like the color of one of them so gave it to me.  I thought she was crazy, it was gorgeous, a perfect color, perfect size.  She was also honest enough to acknowledge that she wasn't going to use it since she had one she liked better.

    Ok can I just say.....  I. Love. This. Bag.  Perfect travel size, goes with all my stuff (or what's left of it), fits all essentials in the plane, really classy for going out.

    And I would never have bought one for myself.  (It's a  COACH, and I am an acupuncturist. Not in the budget). 
    ( I buy bags on clearance from Ross or JC Penney's).

    As I began clearing out my closets over the last few months, again With an eye to rigorous honesty about my stuff, I realized that in the last couple of years since receiving said bag, that I only use a few of them.  My coach bag of course, a few others for every day, one basic black for dress-up.  That was it.  All of the others, nada.  Zip. Zilch.  Zero.  Little to no use.

    (aarrgghh, Melting.  Regret.
    Here starts the buyers remorse, since 10 cheap bags more than makes up for that nice bag).

    Minimalism is not about cheap, not about punishment or going without.  It IS about looking at what adds value to our life and pleasure, and personal freedom.  And exploring how much of my time am I willing to trade for that freedom.

    As a small business owner, I have already been doing that for years, specifically the idea of time for money.   Since I am in solo practice with limited staff, there is a physical limit to the number of clients I can see per day, per hour.  How many patients per hour does it take to pay for that purchase, and is it worth it?  More often than not, my time was more valuable to me than going to that store on a crowded weekend to save $15.  So I have been headed here for a while.  However, we get into habits, or go unconscious in certain areas of our life, or get seduced by pithy advertising campaigns that promise so much and rarely deliver.  I am no exception.  That next great thing in fact did not change my life.

    So what did I do with this realization?   (squirm)  

    I gave most of the bags to friends, and donated the rest.  Most of these were brand new, rarely if ever used.  The look on the face of the folks at Goodwill was utter shock.  Who gives away that kind of nice stuff?

    My shame has been mitigated by their pleasure, knowing someone will use them with joy.  
    And hopefully I won't jump down that rabbit hole again.  

    Buy one thing of value, use it with gratitude until it wears out.  Replace with one. 
    Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

    Thank you "Auntie" Kiki for a timeless lesson.  

    Stuff and Nonsense

    Apropos of nothing, first let me say that I LOVE this ad.  The Kona Brewing ad campaign  isn’t just clever, (they get people like me to giggle even though I don’t drink beer)  it is downright brilliant and a call to mindfulness.  Why not make 1 hour sad hour and the rest 23 happy?  Genius.

    For all its cuteness, this ad begs attention to some more fundamental questions:

    What is it all for?
    How much do I really need?
    What is the meaning of life?

    Maybe not in so many terms, but it manages to at least get you thinking.  How much of our freedom are we sacrificing to our stuff, our pursuit of stuff (physical stuff, emotional stuff, existential stuff like love, security, health) and our organizing of our stuff?  And what is the price for that freedom? 

    My students and some of my patients, know I am exploring the concepts of minimalism as part of an ongoing inner dialog about the meaning of life, my purpose here, where can I find balance (or is there balance?)  This is due, in part, to treating some incredibly sick people in the clinic, and a peri-menopausal hormone-induced existential crises.

    Recently inspired by swapping out some old furniture and the opportunity to repaint and de-clutter, in the last 12 weeks, I have been “moving without moving” as I like to call it.  And while I have not taken the “pack-your-entire apartment-and-only-keep-what you need for 30 days, donate the rest”  plunge as aspiring minimalists espouse, I am giving every single thing in my life a level of scrutiny not even encountered in my last move across country  (Did I REALLY pay someone to move this from New York? What was I THINKING?).

    As I strive for rigorous honesty in my possessions inventory, it is amazing the mind-tape which proclaims that I might need this someday,  frequently referred to as the "just-in-case" items.  When preparing to donate several hundred dollars of beautiful clothing which I have not used or worn in a decade (I no longer work in the finance industry or at a major university), the voice loudly insists that I may need that sweater in case global warming changes the ocean currents, plunging us into a new ice age (I live in San Diego).  Likewise the sleeping-bag-with-arms inspired coat that was my outerwear when I lived in the big apple.  I am learning that it is important to give this voice a platform instead of suppressing it.  It is a protective voice born of deprivation, stress, years of not getting basic needs met.  In short, it is trying to keep me safe.

    The problem with these inner voices is that we seldom question the truth in our running dialog. 

    Moving toward a minimalist lifestyle seems to be, for me at any rate, part of being mindful.  I frequently remind my patients that not everything we believe is the truth (this usually in response to some health practice they have been following which does them no benefit and wastes time and/or money). Likewise, not everything I think about stuff and security is true.

    What are the essentials?

    So many of the minimalist-inspired blog talk is about a return to basics or exploring what is essential for them.  Again, those values are individual and should not be judged.  The idea is to do-away with things (stuff) that interferes with those essentials.  Hmmmm…
    Essentials in  my life that are important and give value and meaning to my life, and these are in no particular order:

    Meaningful work
    Personal growth
    Spiritual path
    Maintenance of health – body, mind, spirit
    Financial clarity

    Note that work is only part of this long list and yet it takes up 90% of my time, and has for the last 17 years, leaving precious little leftover for the rest.  Interesting that lots of “things” isn't part of the list, neither is home ownership at this point.  

    In reading the wonderful essays from Josh and Ryan on “The”, both of them had “soul-sucking” jobs at which they both excelled leaving them with little to no time for the rest of their lives along with mountains of personal debt (in spite of 6-figure salaries).  

    As an acupuncturist  I don't make a lot of money, so living within my means has been a long-time habit.  But can I do better?  Can I pare things down further to allow more freedom for what is important to me?

    Let's see.....

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    The Link between Celiac and ADHD

    There's evidence suggesting that gluten sensitivity may be at the root of many neurological and psychiatric conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

    What is gluten?
    It's a protein found in wheat grain and part of "gluey" proline and glutamine rich proteins known as prolamines. Prolamines are found in all cereal grains, even rice, corn and oats, but only wheat, and to a lesser extent rye, spelt and einkorn, are assosiated with the serious neurological and autoimmune reactions often linked to autism spectrum disorder.

    Gluten is only found in wheat species. Spelt or einhorn gluten has dramatically lower antigenicity of common wheat (Triticulum aestivum) that is used in bread products. Other cereal grasses have what are known as prolamines (proline-glutamine rich proteins) with rye containing secalin, barley containing horedin, etc, but they have very little cross-reactivity with antigens associated with wheat intolerance.

    It has long been known that people with celiac disease are also more likely to suffer from ADHD, another condition that is heavily influenced by dietary habits.

    However, while the treatment of celiac disease is a completely gluten-free diet, with ADHD the most oft-cited dietary villain is sugar, whereas grains are often overlooked (even though they act much like sugar in your body).

    It turns out, though, that there may be a closer link between the symptoms of celiac disease and ADHD than was previously recognized, and that connection is gluten.

    A Gluten-Free Diet May "Cure" ADHD
    Many children with ADHD do not respond well to most grains, especially wheat. This could be because they have full-blown celiac disease, which impacts an average of one out of every 133 people in the United States (although some studies have found that this number may be as high as 1 in 33 in at-risk populations) -- or because they have a less obvious condition known as gluten sensitivity.

    People with gluten sensitivity, which may comprise 10 percent of the U.S. population or more, experience many of the same symptoms as celiac disease causes, including headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, gas and more, but may be unaware that the culprit triggering these symptoms is wheat and other gluten-containing grains. It's also very possible to have celiac disease and not know it … as researchers state, "in many cases, the disease may be clinically silent despite manifest small bowel mucosal lesions."

    But the psychological and behavioral symptoms of ADHD are now overlapping so often with those of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity that it's recommended "celiac disease … be included in the ADHD symptom checklist." This suggestion was prompted by a new study, which found people with ADHD who tested positive for celiac disease improved significantly after following a gluten-free diet for at least six months. The researchers noted:

    "After initiation of the gluten-free diet, patients or their parents reported a significant improvement in their behavior and functioning compared to the period before celiac diagnosis and treatment … "

    It may sound strange to you that eating a grain that wreaks havoc on your gut would manifest as symptoms related to your brain, rather than your digestion, but grains are inherently pro-inflammatory and will worsen any condition that has chronic inflammation at its root -- and not just inflammation in your gut, but anywhere in your body. Chronic inflammation in your body can wreak havoc in your brain, and the importance of reducing inflammation when dealing with mental health issues is well known. It is very common for people to experience a wide variety of mental health and emotional improvements upon eliminating gluten from their diet.

    Why Even Whole, Sprouted Wheat is a Problem
    I recommend that everyone following my beginner nutrition plan eliminate all gluten from their diets, whether or not they have celiac disease or ADHD, because many experience health improvements upon doing so. Among the most important foods to avoid are those gluten-containing grains that contain gliadin molecules, such as wheat.
    When gliadin in the wheat protein complex (containing over 23,000 proteins) activates the protein zonulin in the gut, it opens up the gaps between the enterocytes causing an influx of improperly digested wheat proteins and stomach bacteria.
    Therefore regardless of your sensitivity level to the wheat proteins, gliadin opens up a pandora's box of intestinal permeability, and subsequent systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation.

    Wheat also contains high amounts of wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), a glycoprotein classified as a lectin, which is largely responsible for many of wheat's ill effects. Other grains high in lectins include rice, spelt, and rye. Interestingly enough, the highest amounts of WGA is found in whole wheat, including its sprouted form, which is touted as being the most healthful form of all.

    Lectins are actually designed to withstand degradation through a wide range of pH and temperatures, which is why sprouting, fermenting and cooking will NOT negate its ill effects. WGA lectin is particularly tough because it's actually formed by the same disulfide bonds that give strength and resilience to vulcanized rubber and human hair.

    Furthermore, because lectins are so small and hard to digest, they tend to bioaccumulate in your body, where they can interfere with biological processes. WGA is particularly troublesome in this regard. Studies indicate it has a number of health-harming characteristics and activities:

    Pro-inflammatory--WGA stimulates the synthesis of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers (cytokines) in intestinal and immune cells, and has been shown to play a causative role in chronic thin gut inflammation. Immunotoxicity--WGA induces thymus atrophy in rats , and anti-WGA antibodies in human blood have been shown to cross-react with other proteins, indicating that they may contribute to autoimmunity. In fact, WGA appears to play a role in celiac disease (CD) that is entirely distinct from that of gluten, due to significantly higher levels of IgG and IgA antibodies against WGA found in patients with CD, when compared with patients with other intestinal disorders.

    Neurotoxicity-- WGA can cross your blood-brain barrier through a process called "adsorptive endocytosis," pulling other substances with it. WGA may attach to your myelin sheath and is capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor, which is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain target neurons. Excitotoxicity-- Wheat, dairy, and soy contain exceptionally high levels of glutamic and aspartic acid, which makes them all potentially excitotoxic. Excitotoxicity is a pathological process where glutamic and aspartic acid cause an over-activation of your nerve cell receptors, which can lead to calcium-induced nerve and brain injury. These two amino acids may contribute to neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Huntington's disease, and other nervous system disorders such as epilepsy, ADD/ADHD and migraines.

    Cytotoxicity—WGA has been demonstrated to be cytotoxic to both normal and cancerous cell lines, capable of inducing either cell cycle arrest or programmed cell death (apoptosis). Disrupts Endocrine Function—WGA may contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and leptin resistance by blocking the leptin receptor in your hypothalamus. It also binds to both benign and malignant thyroid nodules, and interferes with the production of secretin from your pancreas, which can lead to digestive problems and pancreatic hypertrophy.

    Cardiotoxicity—WGA has a potent, disruptive effect on platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1, which plays a key role in tissue regeneration and safely removing neutrophils from your blood vessels. Adversely effects gastrointestinal function by causing increased shedding of the intestinal brush border membranIt is my sincere hope that people will begin to realize that drug therapy, if at all necessary, should be a very last resort, after all other options have been exhausted, when it comes to behavioral problems such as ADHD. The first route of treatment should actually be dietary changes, including:

    •Eliminate most grains and sugars, including fructose, from your child's diet. Grains and sugars both tend to cause allergies in sensitive individuals. Even organic, whole, sprouted grain can cause problems in many children so it would be wise to give them a "grain holiday" and see if their behavior improves.

    •Replace soft drinks (whether diet and regular), fruit juices, and pasteurized milk with pure, clean non-fluoridated water.

    •Increase omega-3 fats by taking a high quality animal-based omega-3 oil. Research has confirmed that animal-based omega-3 fat can improve the symptoms of ADHD more effectively than drugs like Ritalin® and Concerta®. In my view, krill oil is the best option for this. It contains essential EPA and DHA in a double-chain phospholipid structure that makes it far more absorbable than the omega-3s in fish oil.

    •Minimize your use of nearly all processed fats, especially trans fats as they disrupt nerve cell intercommunication.

    •Avoid all processed foods, especially those containing fructose, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, which may trigger or worsen symptoms. Gluten is also commonly hidden in processed foods like ready-made soups, soy sauce, candies, cold cuts, and various low- and no-fat products, as well as refined grain products like bread, pizza crust, pasta, cookies and pastries.

    I also recommend you have your child follow a gluten-free diet to see if this eliminates their symptoms. Your best bet when deciding to eliminate gluten is to primarily base your diet on lean proteins, vegetables and raw dairy products, as described in my nutrition plan, and stick with the grains, seeds and flours available that are naturally gluten-free.
    This includes:
    Rice Corn (only eat organic, non-GM corn)
    Quinoa Sorghum
    Soy (but I don't recommend eating this for other reasons) Flax and amaranth seed
    Buckwheat and millet do not contain the gliadin molecule that can provoke the inflammatory reaction from gluten. Therefore, they are usually safe to eat as well.

    Gluten-free options are becoming much more in demand and as a result are showing up in grocery stores, restaurants and from caterers. But keep in mind, particularly if you are relying on processed gluten-free foods, that cross-contamination can and does occur, most likely during processing, and many companies simply aren't testing to make sure the final product is still gluten-free.

    Finally, the benefits of a gluten-free diet do not always appear overnight. Some do experience improvements rapidly, but in others it can take 9 to 12 months before the lining of your small intestine is fully healed. Generally, allow 6 to 9 months of following a gluten-free diet before you expect symptoms to resolve.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    The Stunning Effect of This Single Vitamin on CANCER...

    In  scathing commentary about Big Pharma in America and the for-profit drug industry, Dr. Mercola discusses the effect of the cancer industry and the profit motive.   Now I think it is far too simplistc to say that the right version of D3 is the amazing cure-all that Mercola espouses.  But most of us don't have this level of corruption in the psyche, which is why it is inconceivable to think that this information could be surpressed.  Most of my fellow doctors would do pretty much anything to help their patients get well, but you are far more profitable as a sick person than maintaining  your health.  MDs do not get paid for this by the way, the drug companies do....    
    Read on McDuff.... 

    What if a cure for cancer has been right here all along? What if the very agency charged with protecting your health is the one keeping you from that cure?

    A Lawless, Rogue Agency Out of Control
    Ten years ago a former New York State assemblyman, Daniel Haley, wrote a scathing exposé on how the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) systematically shuts the door on effective and non-toxic products, many for cancer.

    The FDA is the chief agency in charge of protecting and promoting Americans' health and safety. But in 10 stunning, true stories in his book, "The Politics of Healing," Haley describes how the FDA has suppressed and banned natural health cures – eight of them for cancer. He later wrote about two additional cancer cures that worked, which the FDA also disallowed.

    The FDA even admitted that one of these treatments, discovered by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, was successful with some of the most incurable forms of cancer. I shared this with you in a recent article that showed his film, but stories like this are far too common, and you can't help but wonder how many people have died while the FDA denied them cancer treatments that work.

    Haley brazenly calls the FDA a rogue, out of control agency that has lied in Congressional testimonies, deliberately falsified data, and destroyed evidence to prohibit cures like Burzynki's from coming to market. The FDA's loyalties are to the drug industry, not to individuals, Haley says.
    His claims mirror those of Dr. David Graham, who once worked in the FDA's Office of Drug Safety. In 2004 Dr. Graham blew the whistle on six drugs that were harming people, including Vioxx, but instead of acting on his warnings, Graham's superiors pulled him off his job. He fought back in a PBS television special when he told how he'd been chastised at the FDA for thinking the FDA served the public. The "FDA is there to serve the drug industry," Graham said his supervisors told him.

    'Virtually Every' Drug Company Now Targeting Cancer Therapies
    Today, the FDA continues to serve its client, Big Pharma, by making sure that toxic chemotherapy, along with surgery and radiation, are the only cancer treatment options legally available to you. This industry is huge, with 139 cancer treatment drugs in the pipeline just for women alone. All told there are over 900 experimental cancer therapies under investigation. No wonder so many pharmaceutical companies are ramping up their cancer drug research!

    According to the New York Times:
    "Virtually every large pharmaceutical company seems to have discovered cancer, and a substantial portion of the smaller biotechnology companies are focused on it as well. Together, the companies are pouring billions of dollars into developing cancer drugs."

    Note they said drugs, not cures. That's because this industry isn't set up for a cure, even though they say that's what they're looking for. It's also why economic forecasts predict 20 million new cancers by 2025, with the $50 billion-a-year cancer treatment business increasing by 15 percent a year. Pfizer alone projects its annual cancer drug returns will be $11 billion by 2018.

    The Truth about Vitamin D
    Everyone's talking about vitamin D right now, especially since the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) updated their recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for it. The truth is that most Americans are deficient in vitamin D, and studies show that vitamin D supplementation can both prevent and kill many infections and diseases, including cancer.

    Vitamin D isn't actually a vitamin, although scientists refer to it as such. It's actually a steroid hormone that you get from sun exposure, food sources and/or supplementation. The term refers to either vitamin D2 or D3, but according to the National Vitamin D Council, D3 (chemical name 25-hydroxy vitamin D) is real vitamin D, and is the same substance produced naturally through your skin by sun exposure.

    Older research appears at odds on whether your body cares which form of D it's getting. But a study in the January 2011 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that D3 is 87 percent more effective than D2, and is the preferred form for treating vitamin D deficiency. It's measured in international units (IU's) in nanograms per milliliter, or ng/mL. The Vitamin D Council believes that a person's D3 levels should be at least 50 ng/mLfor your body to function properly. (To determine whether you might be deficient, you need to get your vitamin D levels tested, and ideally, you'll want to get tested regularly thereafter to ensure you're maintaining optimal levels year-round.)
    Fourteen famous vitamin D researchers gave the FNB this information, but the FNB apparently ignored the information that the researchers presented because their "updated" RDA levels ended up being so pitifully low that it's doubtful it can significantly impact Americans' deficiency, let alone fight off diseases like cancer and heart disease.

    Experts Protest 'Impossible' New RDA Levels
    Depending on your age, the new recommendations are 600 to 800 IUs a day for adults and between zero and 600 IUs a day for children. The FNB also said that taking vitamin D in amounts of 10,000 IUs or more could be dangerous – but that's ridiculous, seeing that a 30-minute dose of sunshine can give an adult more than 10,000 IUs! Since countless studies indicate that much higher levels of vitamin D are required for optimal health, it's no surprise that experts lost no time denouncing the FNB's recommendations.
    "It's almost impossible to significantly raise your vitamin D levels when supplementing (at the FNB levels)," the Vitamin D Council posted on its website.

    Hidden Agendas and Conflicts of Interest
    Suspecting that conflicts of interest and hidden agendas played a part in this, the Vitamin D Council filed Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests so they could examine the FNB's notes on the process. They're still waiting on an answer, but I'm wondering if it doesn't have something to do with the fact that over 1,350 clinical trials on vitamin D are currently being conducted by major drug companies, all based on the prevention or cure of many illnesses and diseases, including 388 for cancer.

    Yes, cancer.

    From breast to prostate, to colorectal to brain cancers, and even basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer), Drug companies such as Pfizer and Merck are currently either sponsoring or collaborating on clinical trials based on the premise that vitamin D administered orally, intravenously or topically (for skin cancer) may either prevent or cure cancer. Cancer foundations and institutes are all in on the clinical study game as well, such as the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health. Even the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs are studying ways to prevent and cure cancer with vitamin D!

    What's really interesting is that several of these studies are using vitamin D in amounts of 50,000 IUs a day or more – which flies strongly in the face of the FNB's claims that self-supplementing with 10,000 could be dangerous to your health. Since recent studies show that supplements of up to 40,000 IUs a day don't appear to be toxic, and that doses as low as 400 IUs a day are too low to even maintain skeletal health, let alone prevent cancer.

    The FDA's Definition of Drug vs. Supplement
    Over 800 studies already show that vitamin D could have cancer-prevention and/or treatment possibilities. But the problem is that it's a natural substance that can't be patented as a simple supplement, meaning there's no real revenue in it, compared to a prescription brand drug. That's why many drug studies involving vitamins of any kind hinge on how the FDA defines drugs and supplements.

    A drug is defined as a product meant for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of a disease. A supplement is defined as a product that is meant to simply "supplement" or "enhance" a normal diet within the daily allowances recommended by the FDA. Drugs – and retailers who sell supplements are not allowed to tell you that vitamin D can possibly "prevent, mitigate or cure" cancer without having the FDA accuse them of selling a drug that hasn't been approved through the proper FDA process.

    Again, Follow the Money if You Want to Know the Truth
    That process of getting a drug to market costs an average $359 million and takes nearly 10 years– with a good portion of the money going directly to the FDA through user fees. Over the years these fees have become a major funding source for the FDA. What drug companies get in return is faster FDA reviews and drug approvals.

    As a result, a kind of you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours scenario has ensued, with drug companies maintaining major leverage over the FDA when it comes to protecting their revenue sources, including making sure the $60 billion-a-year supplement business doesn't get in the way of drug sales. The history of FDA laws and regulations on file at Harvard Law School, explains how years ago an FDA task force long ago established this policy
    "… to ensure that the presence of dietary supplements on the market does not act as a disincentive to drug development."

    So how does this relate to too-low RDA levels for vitamin D?
    Let's look at the clinical trials shows that most of them involve "high-potency" D3 supplements, which puts them in the drug category if it turns out they can mitigate, treat or cure cancer. And that means they can be patented – and sold to you as prescriptions at sky-high prices.