The article, A Tale of Two Exams, by Judie Harvey, explores another option to your usual mammogram. The relatively recent discovery of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have elicited fear in many. Some of whom have tested positive for one of the mutated genes have opted for bilateral mastectomy, where other less drastic options are available. With a mutated gene increase in radiation, that comes with more frequent mammograms, can be dangerous. Thermography provides a healthy alternative. Read this article to learn about Judie Harvey’s experience and her comparison between two exams- mammograms and thermograms.
Is mammography or thermography better for you?I recently had the most civilized medical test to scan the health of my breasts called a thermogram. Perhaps the best part of having the thermogram was getting the results. They told the tale of my unique body! Can you imagine that?The test results were clear and conclusive. I wasn’t a statistic or a woman falling into a category who now required another procedure or treatment because that’s the way “we” handle women with your condition. Can you imagine that?If you can’t, or if you’re curious to know more, I hope my tale of two breast exams—the mammogram and the thermogram—will educate and entertain.
“Miss Harvey, there’s an abnormal image on your mammogram. We’d like you to come back for another mammogram and then possibly a sonogram to confirm our findings.” Super! I really enjoyed getting the first mammogram. It’s great to be in a room buzzing with radiation with a perfect stranger who’s been trained to torture my body. The Spanish Inquisition would have ended much sooner if there’d been a mammography machine available to squeeze the living daylights out of someone’s breasts (or testicles).
But the first exam wasn’t that bad. Sure, a perfect stranger touched my breasts, laying them into a tray and squashing them a couple of different ways to see just how flat she could get them. Unpleasant, but the only truly awkward moment was when she asked me the date of my last mammogram. The radiologists in this huge radiology practice in Bethesda, Maryland, where they flatten at least 300 pairs of breast a day, like to compare the films. I felt just the tiniest hesitation telling the technician it had been twelve years. I knew she’d probably have to sit down to catch her breath. I didn’t want her to flinch or twitch uncontrollably when she pushed the button on the X-ray machine. It would only mean more images for me to endure.
“Twelve years? Why have you waited so long?” she asked, trying not to admonish me. Simple. Every time I have this test, you find something because I have lumps and bumps. And every time you find something, I have to have it pushed and pulled like taffy and then stuck with needles and biopsied. I responded, “I just know my breasts are normal and healthy.” I had told my doctor the same thing. He appealed to me, wanting me to know for sure, so I went.
She looked at me like I had two heads and said, “You know that having an annual mammogram is the best way to prevent breast cancer,” leaving off the rest of the sentence—from killing you.
I scheduled the second exam and got to wait in the special room with all the other scared women. They looked tense and nervous, and I guessed that theirs were extremely suspicious lumps. I figured mine couldn’t be all that bad, since they’d waited three weeks to bring me in for a follow up. In the radiology practice I go to, which is really quite nice and very professional, you leave the office after your first mammogram without knowing the results. When you get called back, you get to see the radiologist, ask questions, and grin and bear it while another perfect stranger mashes every single sensitive spot on your breasts during a mammogram and sonogram.
Fast forward. There are two lumps and a cyst, likely nothing because cancer doesn’t typically present with “friends” (other breast anomalies that are close to each other). But my doctor and the radiologist have to be sure. I’ve started down the path, and now I’m on the assembly line. Next stop—core needle biopsies.
On the day of the procedure, I’m taken to a very clean room by the nurse assisting the doctor. She explains the procedure: local anesthetic, lots of jabbing with a spring-loaded needle. About what I expect, until she tells me about the titanium clip (sometimes called a chip). Apparently, they’ve just passed a new procedure in their practice mandating that a small titanium clip be inserted into any mass that’s biopsied. The nurse says not to worry, it’s the same material they use to make mechanical hips and it almost never goes off when you go through security at the airport. What a relief!
When I tell her that I don’t really want the clip and would prefer to just stick with what God gave me, I feel a little tension from her. Oh dear, not another patient that won’t comply is written prominently in her eyes. I know I’m probably going to have to break out “the mommy stare”—a look I’ve perfected that has literally brought grown men to their knees—in order to get out of the clip thing.
“But, it’s required,” she said. “It’s part of the procedure. Then, after we place the clips in your breast we’ll take you for another mammogram.” And how painful will that be? “We have to make sure the clips are in the right place. This is the best way to track what we’ve done so you don’t have to have any unnecessary biopsies.” Like the ones I’m having now?
I told her again that I didn’t want or need any tracking devices—I’m not an endangered animal in the wild. And I calmly told her, since she’d obviously lost sight of the fact, that it was my body so it really should be my choice. She told me they can’t do the biopsies unless I agree to the clips. I tell the poor woman, who’s just following the protocol, that I am happy to leave without having the biopsies.
We agreed to have the doctor come in. And he made a good point. Having the clip helps the breast surgeon zero in on cancerous tissue, which makes the recovery process easier after a lumpectomy. But then he said that women with lots of lumps sometimes forget what’s been biopsied. Really? Who are these women? I’m not likely to forget my last biopsy—even with a lot of therapy. It also helps the radiologist read your next mammogram and eliminate unnecessary stress for the patient. Can’t you just write it down?
I looked into his eyes using the mildest version of my mommy stare. He had a tray full of needles and other sharp objects, and was going to use them shortly. One was a needle full of local anesthesia, and I wanted that! So I explained that I didn’t want the clips and was prepared to leave. He said I was lucky I hadn’t scheduled the procedure a few days later (in 2009) when the procedure would be required. He also “let me slide” because he was pretty sure that my lumps were nothing to worry about. We went ahead with the biopsies. Darn, that felt good having you use my breast for a dartboard!
Of course, I thanked the radiologist for his work when I left. He was very kind, and I was sure he did a good job. I knew my OB/GYN would be happy I complied. I put up with pain and extensive bruising for about a week. Everything turned out normal.
About eight months later, I entered a cozy center near Baltimore. I was met by my thermographer (thermography technician) and taken to a comfortable room. I could tell right away she was caring and professional, and this helped me relax a little.
I knew about thermography. Thermography is a non-invasive procedure that was approved by the FDA as an adjunctive breast cancer screening test in 1982. When you get a thermogram, the thermographer uses a thermal imaging camera to capture the amount of heat on the body’s surface. The test picks up anomalies or dysfunction in the body by measuring heat, and it’s most commonly used to measure thermal activity in the breasts. If there’s heat, this can indicate cellular change, cellular activity, and inflammation—often the precursor to cancer. According to studies, thermography doesn’t mistake fibrocystic masses with worrisome masses as often as mammography does.1This means you can improve the health of your breast tissue long before you would actually develop cancer.2
Given my history of fibrocystic breasts, a lumpectomy at age 17, and multiple biopsies, I was curious to see if there would be heat where these masses were or had been. I, like most women, also have some spots in my breasts that hurt from time to time, and I was curious to see if those spots would be warmer than the normal tissue.
When the thermographer greeted me, she told me I would be having a thermogram of my entire upper body. What a nice surprise! Then a thermologist, an M.D. trained in thermology, would read the digital images taken by the thermographer. The doctor would look at a number of areas, including my sinuses, jaw, and gums; my thyroid and lymph glands in the neck and armpits; the muscles in my back and neck; my entire digestive system, including my gall bladder, liver, kidneys, colon, and stomach; oh—and my breasts!
The thermographer gave me very comprehensive medical history forms. In addition to indicating my previous breast or other surgeries or biopsies, she also had me indicate any area of pain or concern on a chart. There were also extensive questions about the health of my upper body. The information helps the thermologist better interpret the results. What? No one incites panic in this model? Can this be real medicine?
Certain things interfere with the test results. You’re told not to bathe, shave, or use deodorants within four hours of the imaging, so I showered, etc., the night before. You’re not supposed to use creams or makeup on the day of the imaging either, but since I didn’t know I would be having an image of my head I went there in makeup. Smelly, hairy, and makeup free? I don’t think so! Thankfully, perfume doesn’t interfere with the results. You’re also not allowed to sunbathe or have body work, like massage or chiropractic manipulation, within a certain number of days before the exam.
I was taken to a dark room where I slipped into a gown, leaving my clothes on from the waist down. When the thermographer returned to the room, she took the images of my head, neck, chest, and back first, while I remained clothed from the breasts down. I stood a few feet from a machine that reminded me of an old fashioned camera on a tripod. When the thermographer took a picture, the thermal image came up immediately on a computer, with different colors indicating the intensity of the heat. The thermographer told me not to be concerned by what I saw or to try to make sense of it. Still, it did kind of make sense—and it was fascinating.
Next, I dropped my gown for five images of the breast and lymph in the chest and armpits. Because it was dark in the room and she never touched my breasts, I felt that my privacy was being respected. One of the images required my putting one hand behind my head, elbow out. “I feel like a pinup girl, but in a good way,” I joked. I was proud and happy to have breasts, not terrified that they were unhealthy.
Finally, she did the abdomen. She didn’t like the results at first and asked me to stand with my arms away from my body so I could adjust to the temperature of the room. She explained that it only takes about one minute to adjust to the temperature in the room. She stepped out of the room for a moment, and this was the only awkward moment for me. I felt a little silly holding my arms up and away from my body, since I was standing there half naked. While waiting, I noticed that the room was the perfect temperature and nothing like the radiology group’s setting, which can only be likened to a meat locker. The thermographer said that they intentionally pick a temperature that’s comfortable.
The entire exam took about fifteen minutes.
A few weeks later, the internist at the Wellness Center called me to go over my results. Normally she just sends a letter outlining the findings, however, I had arranged for a consultation. I was so impressed with her knowledge, caring, and the practical, healthy solutions she offered. Again, I felt like a unique individual rather than a random pawn on a huge medical assembly line unable to move forward without “their” stamp of approval. The thermogram provided insight into my health issues.
We talked a little about my thyroid. I had had it tested recently, and it was a little low. The doctor told me she saw dysfunction and asked me if I had a history of thyroid disease. I had been taking medication for a while, but stopped when it made me jittery. She recommended a different medication and told me something very interesting: Thermography often gives her better information on how the thyroid is functioning than blood work does. So, if her patient’s blood work for the thyroid is normal, but her patient is experiencing symptoms that would indicate thyroid dysfunction, she’ll send them for a thermogram (with their permission). The doctor said she often will see positive changes in the follow up thermogram of the thyroid that never show in the blood work, even when the patient has taken thyroid medication for a few months.
She also explained that the thermologist looks for asymmetry from side to side. For example, my right armpit had more heat than the other. This can be explained by the detoxification and restoration process that occurs in this area (the lymph). Because my right breast had been biopsied, this explained the additional heat.
So what about my breasts? Well, they are perfectly normal. Yahoo! There’s no heat or indication of cellular anomalies at all where I have lumps or have had surgeries. In fact, the doctor told me she is extremely happy when test results show breasts as healthy as mine.
I was so grateful to have had a test that was perfect for a woman with fibrocystic breasts and absolutely no family history of breast cancer. I would return for a follow up thermogram in three months to establish my baseline, and then once every year or so after that. It was such an empowering experience.
Ah—but that means the biopsies I had in December were unnecessary. So were the mammograms I was told to have in my twenties and all the previous biopsies, with the exception of the lumpectomy I had as a teenager. Yikes.
What an awful realization. In an effort to take the best care of me that they could, my doctors put me through a lot of unnecessary pain, expense, and worry. Plus, how can being poked and jabbed and squashed be good for breast tissue?
Then something happened I never would have expected. I went from being happy that all of my breast tissue was normal to wondering if I could trust the thermogram completely. Maybe I felt like a fool for having put my body through all that. Maybe I was just programmed to think that my breasts weren’t healthy until my mammogram said they were.
So I talked to the doctor. She agreed that because our society places such importance on the mammogram, it might be hard for some women to trust the thermogram at first, even though the technology has been around since the 1950’s and over 800 studies have been published proving its efficacy. The doctor said that for these women, she recommends they use the thermogram in conjunction with their mammogram until they can feel completely comfortable. The doctor is sure that once a woman sees the changes that the thermogram picks up from test to test, and how it is completely unique to her, she will be both thankful and trusting of thermography.
That’s certainly the way I feel.
- Find a thermography center near you at BreastThermography.com or The International Academy of Clinical Thermography
- Cometa Wellness Center
- Arora, N., et. al, 2008. Effectiveness of a noninvasive digital infrared thermal imaging system in the detection of breast cancer, Am J Surg, Oct;196(4):523-6.
- Gros, C., Gautherie, M., 1980. Breast thermography and cancer risk prediction,
Article and picture from http://www.drnorthrup.com/members/guest_author.php?id=317
The proper dosage of nutrients can improve the function of neurotransmitters that control mood.This article shows how fats are good for your brain and gives the essential directions for what supplements to take in order to improve the workings of your brain.
“Optimizing Neurotransmitter Production with Nutrients
Just about everyone knows that nutrition affects our risk of heart disease and many other health problems. But it’s easy to miss the connection between food, certain nutrients, and brain health. Quite simply, nutrients form the foundation of our brain chemistry and, specifically, the neurotransmitters and other compounds that govern our moods.
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that keep our moods on an even keel. They also help us adapt to changing situations. For example, experiences from sex to grief affect neurotransmitter levels. However, if our neurotransmitters are out of balance, they can lead to depression, anxiety, or addictions.
Most of the major neurotransmitters—serotonin is perhaps the best known one—are built on a foundation of amino acids (protein building blocks) and vitamins and minerals. Fats also play a huge role in brain chemistry and neurotransmitters. I refer to all of these nutritional building blocks as “neuronutrients.”
Fats Are Good for Your Brain
Used as a putdown, the term “fat head” should actually be a compliment. That’s because the brain consists of 60 percent fat, including cholesterol, phospholipids, and essential fatty acids. Myelin, the protective sheath that wraps around neurons and nerves, consists of 70 percent fat. In fact, one of the myelin fats is oleic acid, which is also found in olive oil and avocados.
Cholesterol. So often maligned, cholesterol is essential for brain development and normal brain function. The blood-brain barrier prevents the transport of dietary cholesterol into the brain, so the brain must make its own. One of the key building blocks of cholesterol is coenzyme A, which itself is dependent on the presence of adequate pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).
The brain is actually the most cholesterol-rich organ and contains about 20 percent of the body’s total cholesterol. It is needed to form dendrites (the branches that extend outward from neurons) and synapses (the connections between neurons). A lack of brain cholesterol leads to the breakdown of dendrites and synapses, blocked communication between neurons, and decreased plasticity (or adaptability) of synapses.
Essential Fatty Acids. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fats play essential roles in the developing brains of infants, but the omega-3s appear to exert a more positive effect in adulthood. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are required for the normal development of the brain, eyes, and nervous system. Arachidonic acid, which can be pro-inflammatory, is also needed for normal brain development in infancy.
EPA and DHA, abundant in fish oils and some types of vegetarian omega-3 supplements, are incorporated into the membranes (walls) of brain cells, where they enhance the activity of genes involved in neurotransmitter activity and connections between brain cells.[i] Considerable research has found that EPA and DHA benefit a wide range of mood problems, including depression, bipolar disorder, poor memory, impulsiveness, hostility, and physical aggressiveness. [ii] [iii] [iv] [v] Try: 1-3 grams of omega-3s daily.
Phospholipids. The two principal dietary phospholipids are phosphatidylserine (combining a phosphorus-containing fat with the amino acid serine) and phosphatidylcholine (combining a phosphorus-containing fat with the B-vitamin choline). Both phospholipids are incorporated into the fatty membranes of brain cells, where they enhance communication between cells. They can also improve memory and mood and might slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. [vi] [vii] [viii] [ix] [x] A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that a combination of EPA, DHA, and phosphatidylserine improved attention span in hyperactive children.[xi]
Try: Lecithin granules contain large amounts of phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine, although both phospholipids are available as standalone supplements.
The ideal state of mind is probably one in which we respond appropriately to different situations, without experiencing extremes or mood disorders. Supplements can serve a number of important roles. They form the chemical substrates, or foundations, for more complex brain chemicals. They can enhance weak biochemical pathways, what some nutritionally-oriented physicians have called “precursor therapy.”
Serotonin. This neurotransmitter has anti-depressive, anti-anxiety, and sleep-promoting benefits—it is one of the body’s key calming neurotransmitters. Serotonin is built on the amino acid L-tryptophan. With the help of vitamin B6, L-tryptophan gets converted to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). In the next step, vitamins C and B3 help complete 5-HTP’s conversion to serotonin. Try: 500 mg of L-tryptophan, or 50 mg of 5-HTP, one to three times daily.
Melatonin. Although melatonin is technically a hormone, it interacts with both hormones and neurotransmitters. The body makes it from serotonin through a series of chemical reactions, and some of these reactions depend on the presence of folate. (Methylfolate is the active form of the nutrient.) Melatonin suppresses the activity of stimulating neurotransmitters, partly by counteracting cortisol, the stress hormone made by the adrenal glands. Try:250 mcg to 5 mg about an hour before bed. Start at a low dose and slowly increase to find the right dosage for you; you’ve taken too much if you’re groggy the next morning.
GABA. Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is both an amino acid and a calming neurotransmitter. The brain can make it from either glutamate or L-glutamine, and GABA production depends on vitamins B3, B6, and B12. GABA helps the brain filter out nonessential sensory information, sort of like blocking out background noise. [xii] By doing this, it allows the brain to deal with the most important sensory information, leading to improved mental focus and reduced anxiety. People with anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, epilepsy, and schizophrenia often have low levels of GABA. Try: 500 mg one to three times daily.
L-Theanine. Although L-theanine is not technically a neurotransmitter, it has neurotransmitter-like effects. It is an amino acid found almost exclusively in the leaves of Camellia sinensis, the source of green, black, and oolong teas. L-theanine boosts the brain’s levels of alpha waves, which promote a combination of relaxation and mental sharpness, similar to the effects of meditation. [xiii] [xiv] increase brain levels of GABA. Theanine remains intact through digestion, and its effect on brain waves generally occurs within 30 to 40 minutes of consumption. Its benefits may last as long as 12 hours. Try: 50-100 mg one to three times daily.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC). This antioxidant influences several neurotransmitter pathways, including glutamate (and therefore GABA) and dopamine. Based on a growing body of research, NAC may be the most important single nutrient for controlling addictive behaviors. NAC supplements can greatly reduce cravings for cocaine, interest in gambling, and might even lessen the desire for alcohol. Other studies have found that it is especially helpful in resolving obsessive-compulsive behaviors, including nail biting, hair pulling, skin picking, and self-mutilation. [xv] [xvi] [xvii] [xviii] [xix] [xx] [xxi] [xii] Try: 500-600 mg, two to four times daily, with or without food.
Most of the body’s natural “uppers” share the same nutritional foundation—specifically, the amino acid L-tyrosine. L-tyrosine plays roles in several major biochemical pathways that affect mood. Because of this common foundation, I’ll offer dosage recommendations at the end of this section.
L-Dopa. The pharmaceutical version of L-dopa is often used to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, the body can make its own L-dopa if it has adequate amounts of the correct building blocks. L-tyrosine needs folic acid, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) to make L-dopa.
Dopamine. With the help of vitamin B6, L-dopa gets converted to dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is our pleasure and “natural high” neurotransmitter. On the positive side, it helps people focus their attention and enjoy pleasurable experiences. Enjoying sex and experiencing a “shopper’s high” are both related to elevated dopamine levels. Low dopamine levels are often found in people with sleep disorders, apathy, depression, and heightened sensitivity to pain.
But excessive dopamine can play a role in drug addiction and risk taking. Cocaine blocks the normal breakdown of dopamine, leading to high levels of this stimulating neurotransmitter. Similarly, methamphetamine acts like a super-dopamine and also reduces serotonin transport in the brain by at least half. With high dopamine and low serotonin activity, it’s impossible to feel calm.
Norepinephrine. The brain converts dopamine to norepinephrine, also known as noradrenaline. Vitamins C and B6, along with copper, are needed for this conversion. Norepinephrine plays key roles in upbeat moods, wakefulness, motivation, sexual arousal, learning, and memory. Low norepinephine levels can be a factor in mood disorders, fatigue, lack of ambition, excessive sleep, depression, and anorexia. Meanwhile, high levels can contribute to anxiety, insulin resistance (prediabetes), obesity, feelings of stress, and high blood pressure.
Epinephrine. Also known as adrenaline, epinephrine serves as a stress hormone and neurotransmitter. Faced with danger or stress, epinephrine almost instantly sharpens the mind, boosts blood sugar, and primes muscles for a “fight-or-flight” response. Excess adrenaline can be a factor in anxiety, hyperactivity, and feelings of stress. Meanwhile, low levels may result in fatigue, weight gain, poor concentration, and adrenal insufficiency (i.e., weak adrenal glands and a poor response to stress).
Try: Depression and other problems discussed in this section may respond to L-tyrosine and supportive nutrients. One approach would be to take 500 mg of L-tyrosine 15 minutes before consuming anything except water in the morning and, later, a high-potency multivitamin. For the occasional “blue” day, take 500 mg of L-tyrosine in the morning along with a vitamin B12 tablet dissolved under the tongue. Large amounts of L-tyrosine may raise blood pressure.
Finally, there’s intriguing research showing that gut health—and probiotics—can influence moods. Kirsten Tillisch, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, recently found that women consuming “live bacteria” probiotics did a far better job of coping with stress and anxiety when compared with women who ate yogurt without live bacterial cultures.[xxiii] When shopping, look for products with a diversity of bacterial species.
It’s important to remember that the same blood that flows through your heart and lungs also flows through your brain. If it’s rich in nutrients, it helps feed the normal activities of your brain—supporting good moods and cognition. However, if you lack good nutrition, your brain cannot function at optimal levels.
None of this means that everyday events don’t affect our moods—stress at home, work, traffic, the death of loved ones, and various frustrations can and do influence our moods. The bigger problems, however, are chronic mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety. Events can trigger changes in brain chemistry, which may then be sustained through poor eating habits. In addition to a diet rich in quality protein and vegetables and low in carbs, neuronutrients can help us achieve a healthy balance of neurotransmitters, ensuring a happy and well-functioning brain. “
Recent studies have come to find that melatonin, a naturally occurring chemical that is known to help with sleep, can also help with digestive health issues. IBS, acid reflux, and their correlation with melatonin are two of the issues being studied. Read this article to further discover the possible benefits associated with melatonin.
“Melatonin, commonly known as a sleep aid, is proving its worth in digestive health issues. You’ve probably heard of melatonin. It’s the hormone made in the brain that helps us sleep and maintains our body’s natural clock, or circadian rhythm. But did you know that it is also found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and helps regulate and promote healthy digestion? In fact, the gut does not depend on the brain for melatonin. It makes its own.
It was discovered that the brain makes melatonin in 1958, but it wasn’t until nearly 20 years later, in 1977, that melatonin was detected in the mucous membrane of the GI tract. Researchers found that food triggers melatonin production in the gut, some of which enters the blood stream. This may explain the drowsy feeling you get after you eat a large meal.
Although the pineal gland in the brain releases a surge of melatonin at night, primarily to help us sleep, during the day, the gut maintains baseline levels of melatonin. Depending on the time of day, GI tract melatonin concentrations may be 10 to 100 times higher than in blood.
Melatonin and IBS
It really should come as no surprise that melatonin helps regulate activity in the digestive tract. People always report a circadian (daily) rhythm to their bowel habits; melatonin is what drives the clock that controls these rhythms. Melatonin also helps regulate peristalsis, the contraction of muscles that moves food through the digestive system. Additionally, it reduces spasms, normalizes transit times, and aids motility, or movement, through the GI tract. These properties suggest melatonin as a possible treatment for treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In a small clinical trial of 18 patients with IBS, each patient received either 3 mg of melatonin or a placebo for eight weeks. Those receiving melatonin significantly improved their overall IBS scores — 45 percent compared to 16 percent in the placebo group. Improvements in quality of life scores were about 44 percent in the melatonin group and about 15 percent in the placebo group. Though a small group to gather data from, the improvements are significant.
Melatonin and Acid Reflux
Perhaps one of the most exciting applications of melatonin for digestive issues is with reflux disease. An article published in the Journal of Pineal Research brought this idea to our attention in May 2006. The article told the case of a 64-yearold woman whose gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms responded favorably to a formula containing 6 mg of melatonin. Later that year, the same journal published a paper comparing the action of this melatonin formula against omeprazole, the most commonly prescribed drug for acid reflux. Researchers gave the melatonincontaining supplement to 176 patients and 20 mg doses of omeprazole to another 175 patients. According to the lead researcher, all 176 patients who received the melatonin supplements reported a complete regression of symptoms after 40 days of treatment. Only 115 subjects, or 66 percent, of the patients taking omeprazole reported similar improvement. These results are almost too good to believe.
This has led us to shift the way we treat reflux disease in our practice. We now encourage patients who complain of chronic reflux disease to try nightly doses of melatonin, often 6 mg before bed for two months.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure how the melatonin works, but one theory is that it inhibits nitric oxide production, which prevents relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, thus preventing acid reflux. Additionally, melatonin appears to be protective to the mucosal tissues of the upper digestive tract.
Melatonin may also be of benefit in treating diseases of the upper GI tract including bacterial, fungal, or viral infections in the mouth, and for healing tooth extractions, periodontal disease, and oral cancers. I’m waiting for some company to create a “nighttime” toothpaste with melatonin.
A Word of Caution
Melatonin should be used very cautiously or not at all with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Although several papers have suggested it could be useful in treating these diseases, there are two case reports that suggest the need for caution. One report involves a patient with Crohn’s disease and a second describes a patient with ulcerative colitis. Both patients got much worse after they started taking melatonin. In both cases the patients were taking a similar combination of drugs: salicylazosulfapyridine, corticosteroids, plus the melatonin. Although each of these drugs may be useful separately, when taken together they may provoke unwanted reactions.
Night Light Suppresses Melatonin
If melatonin is beneficial for all of these conditions, one wonders if the incidence of reflux and other gastrointestinal conditions correlates with melatonin levels?
Sure enough, gastrointestinal diseases correspond with melatonin levels, which correspond with nighttime light exposure. It is important to note that nighttime light exposure suppresses melatonin; this can be seen in night workers. For example, women who work night shifts make less melatonin compared to those who work during the day. And people suffering from shift work sleep disorder — the diagnostic name for complaints that stem from working either night shifts or swing shifts — have a higher than average incidence of gastrointestinal disorders. The strongest correlation is with peptic ulcer disease.
While it is a great convenience to be able to turn lights on at night, our illuminated lifestyle may have inadvertently caused a hormone deficiency that has affected our health. Knowing this opens the possibility of correcting a range of gastrointestinal conditions.
References available on request.”
Heather Pratt explores the various connections of the gut to the rest of our bodies. Read this article to discover the most dangerous health food and how to build your defenses up.
“Okay, so there is not a direct physical connection between the knee bone and the gut, but believe it or not, there is a connection. Actually there is a connection between the health of your digestive tract and nearly every other system in your body. Healthy digestion determines how well nutrients are absorbed and how effectively wastes are eliminated (which in itself has broad reaching implications for overall health), but there are reasons beyond nutrient absorption that gut health influences whole body health, and can ultimately play a role in the development of disease.
In a healthy person, the foods you eat are broken down into their most basic parts (amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals) in the intestines before being absorbed by the body. However, when the integrity of the intestines is compromised, some food may be left undigested, and those undigested particles can cross into the blood stream causing the body to mount an immune response against itself. This condition is called leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability. Healthy gut bacteria are also affected, with bad bacteria outnumbering beneficial bacteria; an abundance of bad bacteria can damage the intestinal lining further. Increased intestinal permeability has been associated with nearly every autoimmune disease, from type I diabetes to lupus to rheumatoid arthritis.
So what causes this damage to occur in the intestines? There are many contributing factors – antibiotic use, stress, environmental toxins, excessive alcohol consumption, and common medications, including OTC pain relievers and birth control pills. Another often overlooked contributing factor may come as a surprise since it is so abundant in our diets. That culprit is grain – especially gluten-containing grains.
Our Most Dangerous Health Food
We are constantly told to eat more whole grains for health, but in reality, grain-based foods (even whole grains) can be a major culprit in damaging the intestinal lining. The gluten-containing grains (wheat, spelt, rye, barley, kamut, and triticale) appear to be especially problematic, with wheat in the lead because it is so omnipresent in the American diet. The gluten proteins, especially gliadin, activate an enzyme known as zonulin, which appears to increase intestinal permeability. This opens the “gates” to allow other undigested proteins to slip past the barrier, creating food sensitivities to not only gluten, but possibly other foods such as dairy and soy. All grains – even gluten-free ones – and casein, a protein found in dairy, contain compounds that could potentially be problematic for intestinal health.
Building Your Defenses
Once gut damage has occurred there is hope for healing the intestinal barrier and calming the accompanying inflammation and immune response, but it does take some work. The number one thing to do is to remove the offenders. Eliminate any foods you suspect to be problematic, starting with grains and dairy. If you choose to leave any non-gluten grains in your diet (quinoa, rice, buckwheat), proper preparation through techniques such as soaking, sprouting, and fermenting are important. And try implementing my three favorite gut healers into your daily life.
Bone Broth – Broth made from the bones of naturally-raised animals is rich in minerals and collagen, which helps heal the intestinal lining. Collagen contains the amino acids proline, which the body uses to make connective tissue for healing, and glycine, which increases gastric acid secretions. The amino acid glutamine is also found in bone broth and is used by intestinal cells as fuel. Homemade broth also helps to stimulate the digestive juices, which enhance the absorption of proteins, while soothing and healing the intestinal mucosa. Don’t be tempted to use store bought stocks and broths though, the magic comes from the long cooking and proper preparation.
Unpasteurized Sauerkraut – All fermented foods (miso, yogurt, kefir, kimchi) can be of benefit when healing the gut because they are all a great source of probiotics; however, sauerkraut is a truly exceptional fermented food for healing the gut. Not only does it supply good bacteria, it is made from cabbage, which happens to be a good source of compounds that calm inflammation, and the amino acid glutamine, which intestinal cells use as food to regenerate. It must be unpasteurized, so look for it in the refrigerated section.
Clarified Butter (Ghee) – Butter is a great source of butyric acid, which can be used by the cells of the large intestine as fuel to aid in recovery. Ghee is an excellent choice because the milk solids have been removed, significantly decreasing the allergen potential. Most dairy sensitive individuals can use it without trouble.
Connecting the dots of total body health really does lead back to the health of the digestive system, so take care of your precious digestive tract so it can take care of you.”
For anyone that wants to an at home supply of naturally anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiseptic resources, this article starts you with five. Pharmacy drugs may cover up your symptoms but these natural resources work with your body’s natural processes to purify at the cellular level and are a great preventative strategy.
“(NaturalNews) For the health of the nation to change, individuals must stop relying on pharmacies and must instead start creating their own farmacies at home.
While pharmacies carry drugs that cover up symptoms, a personal farmacy provides beneficial herbs, spices, roots, vegetables, nuts, fruits, barks, clays, seaweeds and berries that come straight from a garden or are wild crafted from nature. These natural substances don’t block normal bodily functions like pharma drugs do, but instead work in a purifying way at the cellular level without bringing all the harmful side effects. These natural substances are curative in a way that works with the body’s natural processes. More importantly, using natural substances is a great prevention strategy.
Naturally anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiseptic, the following five natural resources are a must-have for any home farmacy. This beginner’s list contains five staple, go-to detoxifiers that are perfect in the fight against toxins, cancer and disease.
One: Apple cider vinegar with the mother
Apple cider vinegar is an inexpensive go-to remedy with a multitude of uses. As a daily tonic, a couple of teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a shot of water before meals provides necessary nutrients, probiotics and enzymes which aid in proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Apple cider vinegar is only medicinal when the “mother” is still intact. Unlike processed vinegars, which have been distilled and stripped of beneficial nutrients and enzymes, raw apple cider vinegar contains the “mother,” which is a stringy, web-like substrate that floats in the vinegar. This “mother” passes on gut-friendly bacteria and pro-digestive enzymes. ACV is quick to cure stomach ailments and alkalize the body to prevent disease.
Two: Turmeric, curcumin
Turmeric, containing the active ingredient curcumin, is an anti-inflammatory, blood-purifying powerhouse. Many studies now report curcumin’s skin-protecting, cancer-killing properties. Safe, effective and affordable, turmeric should be purchased from an organic source and utilized weekly as a great preventative medicine and cooking spice. As a natural detoxifier, turmeric cleanses the blood, purifying the liver and kidneys in the process. Used externally, it can remove boils. Used internally, it can aid in removing cysts.
Three: Bentonite clay
Bentonite clay comes from the Earth and can be mixed in water to form a paste. Used externally, it can be applied and wrapped on skin conditions like poison ivy to help draw the poison out. Under normal circumstances, bentonite clay can be used as a facial mask to cleanse the pores, as well as stopping stinky foot odor and diaper rashes, to name a few benefits. Internally, bentonite clay is a natural colon cleanser. With its strong negative ionic charge, it attracts heavy metals, toxins, harmful bacteria and pesticides, removing them safely from the body in bulk off of cached colon walls.
Four: Zeolite clinoptilolite
Many companies now sell zeolite clinoptilolite in easy-to-use bottles. The best forms of zeolite are in micronized form. The micronized dispersion method allows tiny lava mineral zeolites to travel with water into the hard to reach cells of the body. Zeolite attracts and traps heavy metals and radioactive particles that have been stored up in the cells of the body. With the toxins now trapped in zeolite’s dynamic structure, they are then flushed out of the body through body’s waste systems. Zeolite is great to have during a time of toxin exposure and is great for anyone wanting to detoxify regularly from constant environmental exposure to pollutants.
Five: Activated charcoal
Activated charcoal comes in a black powder and can be mixed in water to form a paste for external cleansing purposes. As a natural astringent, it can be diluted in water and consumed for internal detoxification. During a time of foodborne illness, chemical or drug poisoning, activated charcoal should be used first to help remove the poison and bacteria from the body. Activated charcoal should be in every emergency kit. It is quick and effective.