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What Are Autoimmune Disorders?

bad and good bacteria

Immune system disorders cause abnormally low activity or over activity of the immune system. In cases of immune system over activity, the body attacks and damages its own tissues (autoimmune diseases). Immune deficiency diseases decrease the body’s ability to fight invaders, causing vulnerability to infections.

In response to an unknown trigger, the immune system may begin producing antibodies that instead of fighting infections, attack the body’s own tissues. Treatment for autoimmune diseases generally focuses on reducing immune system activity. Examples of autoimmune diseases include:

 

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  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). People with lupus develop autoimmune antibodies that can attach to tissues throughout the body. The joints, lungs, blood cells, nerves, and kidneys are commonly affected in lupus. Treatment often requires daily oral prednisone, a steroid that reduces immune system function.

 

image of gut

 

 

 

 

  • Guillain-Barre syndrome. The immune system attacks the nerves controlling muscles in the legs and sometimes the arms and upper body. Weakness results, which can sometimes be severe. Filtering the blood with a procedure called plasmapheresis is the main treatment for Guillain-Barre syndrome.

 

  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. Similar to Guillian-Barre, the immune system also attacks the nerves in CIDP, but symptoms last much longer. About 30% of patients can become confined to a wheelchair if not diagnosed and treated early. Treatment for CIDP and GBS are essentially the same.

gut & brain

 

  • Psoriasis. In psoriasis, overactive immune system blood cells called T-cells collect in the skin. The immune system activity stimulates skin cells to reproduce rapidly, producing silvery, scaly plaques on the skin.

 

 

  • Graves’ disease. The immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to release excess amounts of thyroid hormone into the blood (hyperthyroidism). Symptoms of Graves’ disease can include bulging eyes as well as weight loss, nervousness, irritability, rapid heart rate, weakness, and brittle hair. Destruction or removal of the thyroid gland, using medicines or surgery, is usually required to treat Graves’ disease.

 

 

 

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Antibodies produced by the immune system attack the thyroid gland, slowly destroying the cells that produce thyroid hormone. Low levels of thyroid hormone develop (hypothyroidism), usually over months to years. Symptoms include fatigue, constipation, weight gain, depression, dry skin, and sensitivity to cold. Taking a daily oral synthetic thyroid hormone pill restores normal body functions.

progression

 

  • Myasthenia gravis. Antibodies bind to nerves and make them unable to stimulate muscles properly. Weakness that gets worse with activity is the main symptom of myasthenia gravis. Mestinon (pyridostigmine) is the main medicine used to treat myasthenia gravis.

 

 

  • Vasculitis. The immune system attacks and damages blood vessels in this group of autoimmune diseases. Vasculitis can affect any organ, so symptoms vary widely and can occur almost anywhere in the body. Treatment includes reducing immune system activity, usually with prednisone or another corticosteroid.

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7 Signs and Symptoms You Have Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Leaky gut - Dr. Axe If you’ve been around the natural health world very long, you’ve probably heard of a condition known as leaky gut syndrome. It sounds pretty gross, but it’s an important enough problem to consider. There are several leaky gut symptoms to be aware of, which is particularly important since leaky gut is associated with dozens of related conditions and diseases.As more Americans are affected by poor diet choices, chronic stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalance, it appears that the prevalence of leaky gut has reached epidemic proportions. The medical profession is just now agreeing this condition may even exist, which is especially shocking to me because “intestinal permeability” (another name for leaky gut) has been discussed in the medical literature for over 100 years!

Why should leaky gut syndrome concern you? Recently leaky gut has been called a “danger signal for autoimmune disease.” (1) If you’re wondering if you may be experiencing leaky gut, the first thing to do is access your symptoms. Keep in mind that it’s very common for people on a Standard American Diet to struggle with poor gut function and high levels of inflammation — but just because digestive issues and autoimmune conditions are common doesn’t make them “normal”!

In this article, I’ve outlined a brief description of common leaky gut syndrome seen in people struggling with this condition. Can you heal leaky gut syndrome? As you’ll learn about below, there are four steps I recommend taking in order to repair leaky gut, which includes removing trigger foods from your diet, taking beneficial supplements and rebalancing your microflora with probiotics.


What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, said, “All disease begins in the gut.” More than two millennia after his death, scientific research has now proven he was onto something all those years ago. For over three decades, study after study has been published (several thousand articles exist to date) discussing our growing understanding of immunity, gut function and how modern diets and lifestyles negatively contribute to overall health by damaging our digestive system.

I (and many others in the medical field) refer to this particular phenomenon as leaky gut syndrome. In the medical literature, leaky gut is also referred to as “intestinal hyperpermeability.”

What Causes Leaky Gut?

The intestines are protected by a single layer of specialized epithelial cells that are linked together by tight junction (or TJ) proteins. Leaky gut symptoms are a consequence of intestinal tight-junction malfunction.

These tight junctionsare the gateway between your intestines and your bloodstream. They control what is allowed to pass into the bloodstream from your digestive system. More than 40 different TJ proteins have now been recognized to play a role in gut health. Tight junctions have a very precise job — they have to maintain the delicate balance between allowing vital nutrients to enter your bloodstream, while remaining small enough to prevent xenobiotics (disease-causing compounds from your diet or lifestyle) from passing out of your digestive system into the rest of your body. (1)

Here’s how a report published in the journal Frontiers in Immunologydescribes the pathology of leaky gut: (2)

The intestinal epithelial lining, together with factors secreted from it, forms a barrier that separates the host from the environment. In pathologic conditions, the permeability of the epithelial lining may be compromised allowing the passage of toxins, antigens, and bacteria in the lumen to enter the bloodstream creating a ‘leaky gut.’

When you have leaky gut, certain tiny particles that should never be able to enter your bloodstream start to make their way through. There’s also commonly abnormalities in the gut stemming from antimicrobial molecules, immunoglobulins and cytokine activities. This presents a major problem, as the vast majority of your immune system is found inside the gut.

The result? A disruption of acute inflammation, and sometimes autoimmune reactions. A normal part of your immune response that serves to fight infections and diseases winds up over-performing, leading to chronic inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases.

Some of the underlying causes of leaky gut include:

  • Genetic predisposition — certain people may be more predisposed to developing leaky gut because they are sensitive to environmental factors that “trigger” their bodies into initiating autoimmune responses.
  • Poor diet — especially a diet that includes allergens and inflammatory foods such as un-sprouted grains, added sugar, GMOs, refined oils, synthetic food additives and conventional dairy products.
  • Chronic stress
  • Toxin overload — including high drug and alcohol consumption. We come into contact with over 80,000 chemicals and toxins every single year, but the worst offenders for causing leaky gut include antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin and NSAIDS. I recommend buying a high-quality water filter to eliminate chlorine and fluoride and look to natural plant-based herbs to reduce inflammation in your body.
  • Bacterial imbalance — also called dysbiosis, which means an imbalance between beneficial and harmful species of bacteria in your gut. A large body of evidence now shows that gut microbiota is important in supporting the epithelial barrier and preventing autoimmune reactions. At least 10 percent of all gene transcriptions found in intestinal epithelial cells that are related to immunity, cell proliferation and metabolism are regulated by gut microbiota.

pre+probiotics pixies

 

How Serious Is Leaky Gut Syndrome?

Well, according to a 2014 review of the facts and research about intestinal permeability (among other sources), the chronic condition of hyperpermeability is linked to numerous symptoms and health conditions.

What are the symptoms of leaky gut? Some of the most prominent signs you may have leaky gut include: (3)

  • Gastric ulcers
  • Infectious diarrhea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis)
  • Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Celiac disease
  • Esophageal and colorectal cancer
  • Allergies
  • Respiratory infections
  • Acute inflammation conditions (sepsis, SIRS, multiple organ failure)
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions (such as arthritis)
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Obesity-related metabolic diseases (fatty liver, Type II diabetes, heart disease)
  • Autoimmune disease (lupus, multiple sclerosis, Type I diabetes, Hashimoto’s, and more) (4)
  • Parkinson’s disease (5)
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (6)
  • Propensity towards weight gain or obesity (7)

While these diseases are linked to leaky gut syndrome, it hasn’t been proven that there is a causal relationship; in other words, it’s not yet established that leaky gut causes any of these conditions, just that people who have leaky gut are more likely to have a number of other health problems. So while the scientific evidence has not yet proven that intestinal hyperpermiability (leaky gut syndrome) is actually responsible for these conditions, it strongly suggests that leaky gut and other dysfunctions tend to occur simultaneously. (8)


7 Leaky Gut Symptoms and Signs

How do you know if you have leaky gut? Below you’ll find seven leaky gut symptoms and early occurring conditions that may point to an issue with your gut health.

1. Food Sensitivities

Because of the onslaught of toxins that enter the bloodstream, the immune systems of people with intestinal hyperpermeability are on overdrive mass-producing various antibodies, which may make their bodies more susceptible to antigens in certain foods (especially gluten and dairy). In studies involving rats and human children, leaky gut and food allergies have been linked. (9, 10) Allergies are believed to be one of the most common leaky gut symptoms.

2. Inflammatory Bowel Disease 

Researchers from Hungary uncovered in 2012 that elevated gut permeability is oftentimes localized to the colon in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. (11) As far back as 1988, scientists suggested that Crohn’s disease may be more of a risk for people with leaky gut. (12)

A small study (observing 12 patients) discovered that zinc supplementation may help resolve the tight junction dysfunction in these cases, although more research is required on a larger scale to confirm these results. (13)

3. Autoimmune Disease

Zonulin is the only physiological modulator of intercellular tight junctions described so far that is involved in trafficking of macromolecules and, therefore, in tolerance/immune response balance. When the finely tuned zonulin pathway is deregulated in genetically susceptible individuals, both intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory, and neoplastic disorders can occur.

Eating gluten may trigger this dangerous cascade. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers have uncovered that gluten “activates zonulin signaling irrespective of the genetic expression of autoimmunity, leading to increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules.” (15)

The good news is that, at least as far as leaky gut plays a role in autoimmune conditions, it is reversible and could potentially alleviate some of these problematic immune responses. (16)

4. Thyroid Problems 

One of the autoimmune diseases that leaky gut syndrome may directly affect is Hashimoto’s disease. (17) Also known as “chronic thyroiditis,” this disorder is displayed with hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), impaired metabolism, fatigue, depression, weight gain and a host of other concerns.

5. Nutrient Malabsorption

In my own patients, I’ve observed various nutritional deficiencies resulting from leaky gut, including vitamin B12, magnesium and digestive enzymes. Those common nutrient deficiencies are one reason why many functional medicine practitioners prescribe a whole-food multivitamin in addition to probiotics for people suffering leaky gut problems.

6. Inflammatory Skin Conditions 

First described over 70 years ago, the gut-skin connection theory has described how intestinal hyperpermeability can cause a slew of skin conditions, particularly acne and psoriasis. (18) Creams and drugs with endless lists of (sometimes dangerous) side effects are often prescribed for these skin disorders, yet there has been evidence for several decades that part of the root cause might exist in the gut.

7. Mood Issues and Autism

According to a study published in the journal Neuroendocrinology Letters, leaky gut has been shown to cause various neurocognitive disorders. For example, the inflammatory response characteristic of intestinal hyperpermeability triggers the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals that are thought to induce depression. (19)

A study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience described the “vicious circle between immune system impairment and increasing dysbiosis that leads to leaky gut and neurochemical compounds and/or neurotoxic xenobiotics production and absorption.”

The authors go on to describe findings from a number of studies that point to their theory thatautism may be connected to problems in the gut microbiome, particularly within the first year of life. (20) It is actually a common hypothesis in modern science that leaky gut is strongly related to autism. (21)


What the Medical Community Has to Say About Leaky Gut Syndrome

Do most conventional doctors support the idea that leaky gut is real?

WebMD refers to leaky gut as “something of a medical mystery.”(22) This isn’t surprising, since it’s not a diagnosis that most doctors have been taught in medical school. “From an MD’s standpoint, it’s a very gray area,” says gastroenterologist Donald Kirby, MD – Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic. In his opinion, “Physicians don’t know enough about the gut, which is our biggest immune system organ.” (21)

To make matters worse, government agencies have also contributed to the confusion. According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), “There is currently little evidence to support the theory that a porous bowel is the direct cause of any significant, widespread problems.” (23)

Yet, not everyone agrees. A roundtable review quotes the researchers at seven different European universities in 2014 agreeing upon the following: (24)

Alteration of the gut barrier seems to have multiple consequences facilitating the onset of a variety of diseases depending on other hits and on genetic or epigenetic constellations, respectively. The growing significance of the gut barrier and bacterial translocation raises the questions of how we can improve gut barrier functions and gut microbiota.

So while it’s encouraging that science is coming around to leaky gut syndrome being a real problem, we are by no means at a point where there are standard diagnostic tools for testing and treating leaky gut.

In the Western/conventional medical world, if there are no standard diagnostic criteria for a disease, then there are no specific therapies or treatments available. Moreover, if there are no “proven” treatment models, then most MD’s are left with no other choice than to follow what they believe to be the “safe path” and prescribe drugs that only treat leaky gut symptoms. For example, medications (like proton pump inhibitors or antacids) can be used to manage symptoms like acid reflux medications but these drugs don’t solve the root problem.

Because much of the medical community denies leaky gut’s very existence, it’s critical that you understand what leaky gut is and what to look out for in case you or a loved one is affected by it. The good news is that many functional and integrative medicine practitioners have a greater understanding of this condition than they did even a decade ago. They are much more likely to help you determine if you are suffering from leaky gut syndrome and to give you tools to help repair your gut.


How Do You Get Rid of Leaky Gut?

Now that we’ve been talked about leaky gut symptoms, causes and opinions, let’s talk about how to test for and repair leaky gut.

How do you test for leaky gut?

Several leaky gut syndrome tests are available that can help confirm a diagnosis and point you in the right treatment direction. Tests are helpful for identifying specific sensitivities and uncovering which types of toxins or deficiencies are contributing to your symptoms. Leaky gut tests include:

  • Zonulin or Lactulose Tests
  • IgG Food Intolerance Test
  • Stools Tests
  • Organic Acid Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies Tests
  • Lactulose Mannitol Test

What leaky gut treatments are available?

cl basic kit $225

After years of research and patient care, Avisae has developed a gut protocol process for helping to heal leaky gut. . If you’re concerned that you or a loved one may have leaky gut symptoms, I encourage you to read the detailed instructions, food suggestions and recommended leaky gut supplements listed in this article.

The basic steps to healing leaky gut are as follows:

  1. REMOVE foods and factors that damage the gut.
  2. REPLACE these with healing foods as you follow an anti-inflammatory leaky gut diet.
  3. REPAIR the gut with specific leaky gut supplements like butyric acid.
  4. REBALANCE your microbiome with probiotics (beneficial bacteria). This is key because bacteria in your gut are a major component of the intestinal barrier. They help promote resistance to the colonization of harmful or pathogenic bacteria species by competing for nutrients. Gut microbiota also regulate the digestion and absorption of nutrients and help supply epithelial cells with energy.
Two of the most commons questions people ask are: “What can I eat if I have leaky gut syndrome? And what should I NOT eat when I have leaky gut?”
If you’re struggling with leaky gut or other GI issues, remove processed foods— including un-sprouted grains, added sugar, GMO’s, refined oils, synthetic additives and conventional dairy products. A healing leaky gut syndrome diet includes foods like:
  • Bone broth
  • Raw cultured dairy (like kefir, yogurt, amasai, butter and raw cheeses)
  • Fermented vegetables and other probiotics foods. Probiotics may help reverse leaky gut by enhancing the production of tight junction proteins that defend against intestinal permeability.
  • Coconut products
  • Sprouted seeds (like chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds)
  • Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, especially salmon and other wild-caught fish
  • Herbs and spices
  • Other nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods like grass-fed beef, lamb, other fresh veggies and most fruits, apple cider vinegar, sea veggies, and other superfoods

Final Thoughts on Leaky Gut Syndrome

image of gut

  • Leaky gut syndrome is classified by malfunction in the intestinal tight junctions in the digestive tract, allowing larger-than-usual particles to pass from the digestive system into the bloodstream. When this occurs, the balance of inflammatory immune responses is disrupted, leading to chronic inflammation and poor immunity.
  • Although no causal relationships have yet been officially established, leaky gut is correlated with a large number of issues and diseases, including digestive disorders, depression, autism, celiac disease, autoimmune disease and more.
  • Common leaky gut symptoms include: food sensitivities, digestive issues, autoimmune disease, thyroid dysfunction, nutrient malabsorption, inflammatory skin conditions and brain-related issues such as depression and autism.
  • Leaky gut syndrome is not a recognized diagnosis in the medical community yet — but I’m confident it will be recognized someday, due to the vast body of research that has already been conducted.
  • If you suffer from any leaky gut symptoms, I encourage you to consult with your naturopathic doctor about options for treatment. Many of my patients have seen improvements when adjusting to a healing diet, rather than a disease and inflammation-causing one. In addition, there are helpful dietary supplements many people implement to support better gut health.

 

Depression: It’s Your Serotonin.

“Depression is a serious medical condition that may be due to a chemical imbalance, and Bliss adaptogen mist works to correct this imbalance.”

Bliss_1ozBostonRound

Herein lies the Serotonin Myth

As one of only two countries in the world that permits direct to consumer advertising, you have undoubtedly been subjected to promotion of the “cause of depression.” A cause that is not your fault, but rather, a matter of too few little bubbles passing between the hubs in your brain! Don’t add that to your list of worries, though, because there is a convenient solution awaiting you at your doctor’s office.

What if I told you that, in six decades of research, the serotonin (or norepinephrine, or dopamine) theory of depression and anxiety has not achieved scientific credibility.

You’d want some supporting arguments for this shocking claim, so here you go:

The Science of Psychiatry?

Rather than some embarrassingly reductionist, one-deficiency-one-illness-one-pill model of mental illness, contemporary exploration of human behavior has demonstrated that we may know less than we ever thought we did.  And that what we do know about root causes of mental illness seems to have more to do with the concept of evolutionary mismatch than with genes and chemical deficiencies.

In fact, a meta-analysis of over 14,000 patients and Dr. Insel, head of the NIMH, had this to say:

“Despite high expectations, neither genomics nor imaging has yet impacted the diagnosis or treatment of the 45 million Americans with serious or moderate mental illness each year.”

To understand what imbalance is, we must know what balance looks like, and neuroscience, to date, has not characterized the optimal brain state, nor how to even assess for it. In a review of serotonin theories of depression, Andrews et al. turn the paradigm on its head and conclude:

we propose that depressed states are high serotonin phenomena, which challenges the prominent role the low serotonin hypothesis continues to have in depression research (Albert et al., 2012). We also propose that the direct serotonin-enhancing effects of antidepressants disturb energy homeostasis and worsen symptoms. We argue that symptom reduction, which only occurs over chronic treatment, is attributable to the compensatory responses of the brain attempting to restore energy homeostasis.

In this paper, they work to deconstruct our indoctrination around serotonin as a “happy chemical”, and elucidate its complex role in redirecting energy production when a creature is under duress. It is only when we perturb the system with medication that the body’s response can sometimes result in a chemically adaptive state, that is temporary, at best (accounting for relapse rates, while on medication, of up to 60%). Even this analysis is a theoretical offering in the service of challenging the dominant paradigm.

A New England Journal of Medicinereview on Major Depression, stated:

” … numerous studies of norepinephrine and serotonin metabolites in plasma, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid as well as postmortem studies of the brains of patients with depression, have yet to identify the purported deficiency reliably.”

The data has poked holes in the theory and even the field of psychiatry itself is putting down it’s sword. One of my favorite essays by Lacasse and Leo has compiled sentiments from influential thinkers in the field – mind you, these are conventional clinicians and researchers in mainstream practice – who have broken rank, casting doubt on the entirety of what psychiatry has to offer around antidepressants:

ItsNotSerotonin-3

 

Depression is Not About Low Serotonin

In the 1950s, reserpine, initially introduced to the US market as an anti-seizure medication, was noted to deplete brain serotonin stores in subjects, with resultant lethargy and sedation. These observations colluded with the clinical note that an anti-tuberculosis medication, iproniazid, invoked mood changes after five months of treatment in 70% of a 17 patient cohort. Finally, Dr. Joseph Schildkraut threw fairy dust on these mumbles and grumbles in 1965 with his hypothetical manifesto entitled “The Catecholamine Hypothesis of Affective Disorders” stating:

“At best, drug-induced affective disturbances can only be considered models of the natural disorders, while it remains to be demonstrated that the behavioral changes produced by these drugs have any relation to naturally occurring biochemical abnormalities which might be associated with the illness.”

Contextualized by the ripeness of a field struggling to establish biomedical legitimacy (beyond the therapeutic lobotomy!), psychiatry was ready for a rebranding, and the pharmaceutical industry was all too happy to partner in the effort.

Of course, the risk inherent in “working backwards” in this way (noting effects and presuming mechanisms) is that we tell ourselves that we have learned something about the body, when in fact, all we have learned is that patented synthesized chemicals have effects on our behavior. This is referred to as the drug-based model by Dr. Joanna Moncrieff. In this model, we acknowledge that antidepressants have effects, but that these effects, in no way are curative or reparative.

The most applicable analogy is that of the woman with social phobia who finds that drinking two cocktails eases her symptoms. One could imagine, how, in a 6 week randomized trial, this “treatment” could be found efficacious and recommended for daily use and even prevention of symptoms. How her withdrawal symptoms after 10 years of daily compliance could lead those around her to believe that she “needed” the alcohol to correct an imbalance. This analogy is all too close to the truth.

No Intervention Creates Better Outcomes

Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Carlat has said: “And where there is a scientific vacuum, drug companies are happy to insert a marketing message and call it science. As a result, psychiatry has become a proving ground for outrageous manipulations of science in the service of profit.”

So, what happens when we let drug companies tell doctors what science is? We have an industry and a profession working together to maintain a house of cards theory in the face of contradictory evidence.

We have a global situation in which increases in prescribing are resulting in increases in severity of illness (including numbers and length of episodes) relative to those who have never been treated with medication.

To truly appreciate the breadth of evidence that states antidepressants are ineffective and unsafe, we have to get behind the walls that the pharmaceutical companies erect. We have to unearth unpublished data, data that they were hoping to keep in the dusty catacombs.

A now famous 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine by Turner et al sought to expose the extent of this data manipulation. They demonstrated that, from 1987 to 2004, 12 antidepressants were approved based on 74 studies. Thirty-eight were positive, and 37 of these were published.  Thirty-six were negative (showing no benefit), and 3 of these were published as such while 11 were published with a positive spin (always read the data not the author’s conclusion!), and 22 were unpublished.

In 1998 tour de force, Dr. Irving Kirsch, an expert on the placebo effect, published a metaanalysis of 3,000 patients who were treated with antidepressants, psychotherapy, placebo, or no treatment and found that only 27% of the therapeutic response was attributable to the drug’s action.

This was followed up by a 2008 review, which invoked the Freedom of Information Act to obtain access to unpublished studies, finding that, when these were included, antidepressants outperformed placebo in only 20 of 46 trials (less than half!), and that the overall difference between drugs and placebos was 1.7 points on the 52 point Hamilton Scale.  This small increment is clinically insignificant, and likely accounted for by medication side effects strategically employed (sedation or activation).

When active placebos were used, the Cochrane database found that differences between drugs and placebos disappeared, given credence to the assertion that inert placebos inflate perceived drug effects.

The finding of tremendous placebo effect in the treatment groups was also echoed in two different meta-analysis by Khan et al who found a 10% difference between placebo and antidepressant efficacy, and comparable suicide rates. The most recent trial examining the role of “expectancy” or belief in antidepressant effect, found that patients lost their perceived benefit if they believed that they might be getting a sugar pill even if they were continued on their formerly effective treatment dose of Prozac.

The largest, non-industry funded study, costing the public $35 million dollars, followed 4000 patients treated with Celexa (not blinded, so they knew what they were getting), and found that half of them improved at 8 weeks. Those that didn’t were switched to Wellbutrin, Effexor, or Zoloft OR “augmented” with Buspar or Wellbutrin.

Guess what? It didn’t matter what was done, because they remitted at the same unimpressive rate of 18-30% regardless with only 3% of patients were in remission at 12 months.

How could it be that medications like Wellbutrin, which purportedly primarily disrupt dopamine signaling, and medications like Stablon which theoretically enhances the reuptake of serotonin both work to resolve this underlying imbalance? Why would thyroid, benzodiazepines, beta blockers, and opiates also “work”? And what does depression have in common with panic disorder, phobias, OCD, eating disorders, and social anxiety that all of these diagnoses would warrant the same exact chemical fix?

Are There Alternative Options?

As a holistic clinician, one of my bigger pet peeves is the use of amino acids and other nutraceuticals with  “serotonin-boosting” claims. These integrative practitioners have taken a page from the allopathic playbook and are seeking to copy-cat what they perceive antidepressants to be doing.

The foundational “data” for the modern serotonin theory of mood utilizes tryptophan depletion methods which involve feeding volunteers amino acid mixtures without tryptophan and are rife with complicated interpretations.

Simply put, there has never been a study that demonstrates that this intervention causes mood changes in any patients who have not been treated with antidepressants.

In an important paper entitled Mechanism of acute tryptophan depletion:is it only serotonin?, van Donkelaar et al caution clinicians and researchers about the interpretation of tryptophan research. They clarify that there are many potential effects of this methodology, stating:

In general, several findings support the fact that depression may not be caused solely by an abnormality of 5-HT function, but more likely by a dysfunction of other systems or brain regions modulated by 5-HT or interacting with its dietary precursor. Similarly, the ATD method does not seem to challenge the 5-HT system per se, but rather triggers 5HT-mediated adverse events.

Andrews goes further to include this interpretation in a long list of arguments against the role of low serotonin in depression (Box 1).

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 8.23.06 AM So if we cannot confirm the role of serotonin in mood and we have good reason to believe that antidepressant effect is largely based on belief, then why are we trying to “boost serotonin”?

Why Your Prescription Never Expires

All you have to do is spend a few minutes on http://survivingantidepressants.org/ or http://beyondmeds.com/ to appreciate that we have created a monster. Millions of men, women, and children, the world over are suffering, without clinical guidance (because this is NOT a part of medical training) to discontinue psychiatric meds. I have been humbled, as a clinician who seeks to help these patients, by what these medications are capable of. Psychotropic withdrawal can make alcohol and heroin detox look like a breeze.

An important analysis by the former director of the NIMH makes claims that antidepressants “create perturbations in neurotransmitter functions” causing the body to compensate through a series of adaptations which occur after “chronic administration” leading to brains that function, after a few weeks, in a way that is “qualitatively as well as quantitatively different from the normal state.”

Changes in beta-adrenergic receptor density, serotonin autoreceptor sensitivity, and serotonin turnover all struggle to compensate for the assault of the medication.

Andrews calls this “oppositional tolerance,” and demonstrate through a careful meta-analysis of 46 studies demonstrating that patient’s risk of relapse is directly proportionate to how “perturbing” the medication is, and is always higher than placebo (44.6% vs 24.7%). They challenge the notion that findings of decreased relapse on continued medication represent anything other than drug-induced response to discontinuation of a substance to which the body has developed tolerance. They go a step further to add:

“For instance, in naturalistic studies, unmedicated patients have much shorter episodes, and better long-term prospects, than medicated patients. Several of these studies have found that the average duration of an untreated episode of major depression is 12–13 weeks.”

Harvardresearchers also concluded that at least fifty percent of drug-withdrawn patients relapsed within 14 months. In fact:

“Long-term antidepressant use may bedepressogenic . . . it is possible that antidepressant agents modify the hardwiring of neuronal synapses (which) not only render antidepressants ineffective but also induce a resident, refractory depressive state.”

So, when your doctor says, “You see, look how sick you are, you shouldn’t have stopped that medication,” you should know that the data suggests that your symptoms are withdrawal, not relapse.

Longitudinal studies demonstrate poor functional outcomes for those treated with 60% of patients still meeting diagnostic criteria at one year (despite transient improvement within the first 3 months). When baseline severity is controlled for, two prospective studies support a worse outcome in those prescribed medication:

One in which the never-medicated group experienced a 62% improvement by six months, whereas the drug-treated patients experienced only a 33% reduction in symptoms, and another WHO study of depressed patients in 15 cities which found that, at the end of one year, those who weren’t exposed to psychotropic medications enjoyed much better “general health;” that their depressive symptoms were much milder;” and that they were less likely to still be “mentally ill.”

I’m not done yet.

In a retrospective 10-year study in the Netherlands, 76% of those with unmedicated depression recovered without relapse relative to 50% of those treated.

Unlike the mess of contradictory studies around short-term effects, there are no comparable studies that show a better outcome in those prescribed antidepressants long term.

First Do No Harm

So, we have a half-baked theory in a vacuum of science that that pharmaceutical industry raced to fill. We have the illusion of short-term efficacy and assumptions about long-term safety. But are these medications actually killing people?

The answer is yes.

Unequivocally, antidepressants cause suicidal and homicidal behavior. The Russian Roulette of patients vulnerable to these “side effects” is only beginning to be elucidated and may have something to do with genetic variants around metabolism of these chemicals.  Dr. David Healy has worked tirelessly to expose the data that implicates antidepressants in suicidality and violence, maintaining a database for reporting, writing, and lecturing about cases of medication-induced death that could make your soul wince.

What about our most vulnerable?

I have countless patients in my practice who report new onset of suicidal ideation within weeks of starting an antidepressant. In a population where there are only 2 randomized trials, I have grave concerns about postpartum women who are treated with antidepressants before more benign and effective interventions such as dietary modification and thyroid treatment. Hold your heart as you read through thesereports of women who took their own and their children’s’ lives while treated with medications.

Then there is the use of these medications in children as young as 2 years old. How did we ever get the idea that this was a safe and effective treatment for this demographic? Look no further than data like Study 329, which cost Glaxo Smith Klein 3 billion dollars for their efforts to promote antidepressants to children. These efforts required ghost-written and manipulated data that suppressed a signal of suicidality, falsely represented Paxil as outperforming placebo, and contributes to an irrepressible mountainofharm done to our children by the field of psychiatry.

RIP Monoamine Theory

As Moncrieff and Cohen so succinctly state:

“Our analysis indicates that there are no specific antidepressant drugs, that most of the short-term effects of antidepressants are shared by many other drugs, and that long-term drug treatment with antidepressants or any other drugs has not been shown to lead to long-term elevation of mood. We suggest that the term “antidepressant” should be abandoned.”

So, where do we turn?

The field of psychoneuroimmunology dominates the research as an iconic example of how medicine must surpass its own simplistic boundaries if we are going to begin to chip away at the some 50% of Americans who will struggle with mood symptoms, and 11% of whom will be medicated for it.

There are times in our evolution as a cultural species that we need to unlearn what we think we know. We have to move out of the comfort of certainty and into the freeing light of uncertainty. It is from this space of acknowledged unknowing that we can truly grow. From my vantage point, this growth will encompass a sense of wonder – both a curiosity about what symptoms of mental illness may be telling us about our physiology and spirit, as well as a sense of humbled awe at all that we do not yet have the tools to appreciate. For this reason, honoring our co-evolution with the natural world, and sending the body a signal of safety through movement, diet, meditation, and environmental detoxification represents our most primal and most powerful tool for healing.

 

 

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bliss™adaptogen mist

Avisae OptimALL Nutrition™ bliss™ adaptogen mist is unique formula that helps reset your body’s serotonin pathways for improved mood, better sleep and increased focus.


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  • Improved Mood and Optimism*
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  • Lessened Stress & Anxiety*

 

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SUGGESTED USE:

Take one application of 6-10 sprays orally each day as needed.

 

 

Neutron Analysis on Glaucoma Drugs Offers Clues for Cancer Targets

Glaucoma Drugs Offers Clues About Enzyme Targets for Aggressive Cancers

New insights from neutron analysis of glaucoma drugs and their enzyme target may help scientists design drugs that more effectively target aggressive cancers.

A team of researchers led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used neutron macromolecular crystallography to investigate the different states of three glaucoma drugs as they interact with the targeted enzyme, human carbonic anhydrase II (hCA II).

“Our goal was to observe differences in the presentation of three clinically used glaucoma drugs while they are bound to the hCA II enzyme,” said Andrey Kovalevsky, an instrument scientist at ORNL and a senior co-author of the study. “By looking at how well these drugs target hCA II in protonated, neutral and deprotonated states, we hoped to obtain insights that would make it possible to improve these medicines so they can better target enzymes linked to cancer.”

Protonation refers to the presence, addition or loss of a proton, which gives the drug a neutral, positive or negative charge, respectively. Altering a drug’s charge could change its ability to recognize and bind with its target protein and consequently, its effectiveness.

The study, published in the journal Structure, found that temperature, pH, and the electrical charge of the three glaucoma drugs affected their ability to target and bind with the hCA II enzyme.

“This discovery was really a proof of principle for us,” said Robert McKenna, a professor at the University of Florida and a senior co-author of the study. “It opened our eyes to how changes in temperature and pH can impact the protonation state of the drug, which in turn makes it more or less effective.”

New information about the hydrogen-bonding networks that make up the active site of hCA II may help other scientists develop new and better drugs for cancer treatment. The family of hCA enzymes contains similar proteins, such as hCA IX and XII, that are associated with aggressive breast cancers, such as triple negative breast cancer.

3D Structures of Brinzolamide and Dorzolamide

“We want to exploit the difference in charge, pH and temperature to see if we can design drugs that are more effective at targeting these enzymes,” said Kovalevsky. “If we can understand binding at the atomic level, we can redesign drugs and turn them into stronger and more selective ‘magnets’ that will be attracted to cancer-associated enzymes. Such drugs would be much more effective at killing cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unhurt, which significantly reduces side effects for patients.”

Many scientists have used X-ray crystallography to analyze the structures of hCA enymes, but these studies lack complete atomic information on drug binding because of X-rays’ inability to visualize hydrogen atoms abundant in proteins and enzymes.

Neutrons are sensitive to lighter elements, so they provide much more detailed information on the location of hydrogen atoms. Seeing hydrogen is critical to studying protonation states of an enzyme and ligand–a molecule that binds to a biological macromolecule–and to analyzing the architecture of hydrogen-bonding networks. Neutrons also offer other experimental advantages.

“When you use neutron diffraction you don’t have radiation damage, so you can do your study at room temperature,” said McKenna. “In addition, freezing crystals may alter the drug and enzyme, introducing a false view into the study, while room temperature studies more closely resemble the environment the drug will be used in.”

Digest issues we can help!

 

bliss™adaptogen mist

Avisae OptimALL Nutrition™ bliss™ adaptogen mist is unique formula that helps reset your body’s serotonin pathways for improved mood, better sleep and increased focus.


Key Benefits

  • Improved Mood and Optimism*
  • Modulates Emotional Energy*
  • Rejuvenated Sleep Patterns*
  • Sharpened Mental Focus*
  • Normalized Libido & Sexual Performance*
  • Lessened Stress & Anxiety*

 

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pre+probiotics™ pixie

Love your Gut! Avisae OptimALL Nutrition™ pre+probiotics™ pixie is a proprietary synbiotic blend that’s scientifically formulated to balance your gut-bacteria.


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  • Shelf Stable – No refrigeration required

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digestwel+™ chewable enzymes

Love your gut! Avisae OptimALL Nutrition digestwel+ chewable enzymes is a unique formula of supplementary enzymes that helps your body’s gastrointestinal tract efficiently digest all types of food.* 


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  • Improves digestive function*
  • Reduces gastric reflux and intestinal discomfort*

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optimal toning formula

A proprietary blend that helps your body’s metabolism work more efficiently. Supported by science these unique ingredients focus on helping you achieve a healthy weight when combined with diet and regular exercise.


Key Benefits

  • OptimALL Nutrition MetaBIOlize™ – Promotes Efficient Metabolization of Fats & Carbohydrates
  • OptimALL Nutrition ThermoSaf™ – A Safe Ingredient Formula That Supports thermogenesis for a more efficient use of calories
  • Helps appease appetite
  • Supports Healthy Blood Sugar Levels


optimal toning formula

A proprietary blend that helps your body’s metabolism work more efficiently. Supported by science these unique ingredients focus on helping you achieve a healthy weight when combined with diet and regular exercise.


Key Benefits

  • OptimALL Nutrition MetaBIOlize™ – Promotes Efficient Metabolization of Fats & Carbohydrates
  • OptimALL Nutrition ThermoSaf™ – A Safe Ingredient Formula That Supports thermogenesis for a more efficient use of calories
  • Helps appease appetite
  • Supports Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

 

Eating More Fruit and Vegetables Linked to Less Stress (Food) — Uncover reality

Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is associated with less stress, according to new research from Edith Cowan University (ECU). The study examined the link between fruit and vegetable intake and stress levels of more than 8,600 Australians aged between 25 and 91 participating in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) Study […]

Eating More Fruit and Vegetables Linked to Less Stress (Food) — Uncover reality

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Fruits Part 2 — Be Inspired..!!

Fruit mostly ripens due to the release of the plant hormone ethylene, which is a gas. Most fruits will give this off more and more as they ripen and especially in a warmer environment (which is why you put fruit in the fridge if you want it to slow the hell down and stop ripening). […]

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Fruits Part 2 — Be Inspired..!!

Study Warns Of ‘Oxygen False Positives’ in Search For Signs of Life on Other Planets (Planetary Science) — Uncover reality

Oxygen in the atmosphere may not be an entirely reliable ‘biosignature,’ but there are ways to distinguish false positives from signs of life, scientists say In the search for life on other planets, the presence of oxygen in a planet’s atmosphere is one potential sign of biological activity that might be detected by future telescopes. […]

Study Warns Of ‘Oxygen False Positives’ in Search For Signs of Life on Other Planets (Planetary Science) — Uncover reality

The Letter ‘B’: Science

Bismuth: Until 2003, scientists considered bismuth the element with the highest atomic number to be stable; but, they’ve since determined that it is actually radioactive. Slightly… with a half-life of over ten trillion years; so, unless you plan to expose yourself to it until entropy reverses itself and most stars have flickered and gone out, […]

The Letter ‘B’: Science
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