Probiotics

About Hormones and Hormone Problems

I had just finished a talk, and as usual, folks were milling around looking to get some questions answered. A woman named Nancy steps out of the crowd. She’s in her early 50’s with a whole slew of symptoms that I’ve heard many times before; Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and anxiety. Her moods are swinging like a cheap screen door in a winter storm and loss of libido may end her marriage. She’s carrying an extra 30 pounds of body weight, and no matter how she changes her diet, she can’t drop them.

Hormones and Hormone ProblemsShe, of course, knows it’s her hormones. At least that’s what she tells me. But when I ask her what exactly she means by hormones she really can’t come up with much of an answer. That’s because she has little understanding of what is meant by this catch-all term “hormones”, and Nancy isn’t alone. Women like Nancy come up to me after every presentation that I do. I receive letters, take phone calls, and answer texts and messages on this subject many times a week.

Modern scientific understanding of hormones is over a hundred years old, but do a random survey amongst your non-medical friends to see how many people could really explain what a hormone is and/or what it does. Probably not many, if any. How can we really understand how to address hormone related health issues without having a basic grasp of what these things are and how they work.

In order to understand hormones, we have to understand cells which are best thought of as little extraordinary animals. Each one of these creepy-crawly blobs of goo, so tiny it takes 1000 to make an inch, is studded with hundreds of thousands of sub-microscopic switches called receptors. When these switches are activated, stuff happens.

A hormone is nothing more than a chemical that activates those switches. It’s a bit more complicated in the sense that there are different hormones for different switches and because combinations of hormonal switches get activated simultaneously, but, in essence, it’s just a question of switches and chemicals, i.e. the hormones that activate them.

Because the body’s functions all result from the activities of cells, if it’s happening in the body, it’s happening because of hormones. Hormones can be thought of as messages; the very word “hormone” is Latin for: “I arouse to activity”. That means that we are healthy (or not) because of hormones. In fact, from a physical perspective, we are everything we are because of hormones. To say you have a hormone problem when you are sick is like saying you have a money problem when you’re broke. Or a mechanical problem if your car breaks down. Of course, it’s true, but it’s tautological (saying the same thing twice in different words) and not helpful for taking care of the problem.

We have two major types of hormones. One type is fast-acting and rapidly broken down. These are substances that activate quick biochemical functions such as nerve firings, muscle contractions, and various secretions in response to food or some kind of irritant. These quick acting hormones have names like “prostaglandins” and “leukotrienes,” and they live fast and die young. They allow cells to respond to their environment in a speedy fashion, and they’re quickly broken down. In the brain, these hormone chemicals are called neurotransmitters, and they’re associated with various moods and brain functions.
When most people talk about hormones and hormone problems, most of the time they are referring to the second type, more long acting hormone substances called steroids, typically the so-called male hormone testosterone and the so-called female hormone estrogen. I say “so-called” because it’s somewhat of a misunderstanding to refer to these hormones in this sex-specific fashion as both genders produce both substances. Nonetheless, despite the fact that there are dozens upon dozens of various hormone substances in the body, when women blame their hormones, they’re usually referring to estrogen; likewise, when males talk about theirs, they typically mean testosterone.

So, if you’re a guy or a gal and you want to work on your hormones (testosterone or estrogen), what can you do? Well, probably the most important step you can take to return these two steroid substances back to their appropriate levels and potency is pay attention to intake of fatty foods and fat absorption. Steroid hormones are all derived from cholesterol which is a major component of fat-dense foods like eggs and dairy and organ meats, so making sure you’re getting enough of these types of foods can be helpful. You, of course, want to make sure that you’re absorbing these substances in the intestine as well. That means after you eat your omelet, cheese, and liver, you use digestive enzymes, lecithin, and apple cider vinegar– all of which can improve the body’s ability to absorb and utilize their cholesterol content.

Nutrients can help too. Below are 13 nutritional supplements that can help improve steroid hormone health:

Probiotics – 10 billion units/multiple strains daily
Magnesium Chelate -1000-2000mg daily
B-100 Complex – 2-3 tablets daily
Vitamin C -1000-3000mg daily
Omega-3’s – 1-2 grams daily
Evening Primrose Oil – 1-2 teaspoonsful daily
Zinc Picolinate – 50mg daily
Selenium Chelate -400mcg daily
Vitamin A -20,000 iu daily
Vitamin E -400 iu daily
Vitamin D – Sunlight 5000 iu daily
Pregnenolone -100mg daily
Choline – 100-200mg daily

 

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Keratin

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Keratin, the hard protein that gives hooves and horn and feathers and scales and claws their tough, solid quality is a critical component of human skin as well. In fact, the surface of human is in effect coated with a super-thin layer of the resilient and protective substance.

KeratinThe 22 square foot organ called the skin is composed of layers and skin cells are born in the bottom layer and they gradually rise to the top. Skin cells are technically called keratin-o-cytes which is the Latin term for “cells that make keratin”.
Skin cells or keratinocytes are born in the bottom layer of the skin and they gradually rise to the top becoming more and more filled with keratin. As they’re rising to the top they’re shriveling up too. Interestingly as the keratinocyte journeys upwards it produces a complex mixture of non-keratin amino acids called the Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF) that act as a water attractant to help maintain skin moisture. By the time a skin cell has made it from the bottom layer to the top layer it is shrunken and filled with keratin and NMF to the point where it is not much more than a little speck of the hard protein and water trapping amino acids.

Sometimes skin cells will make way too much keratin. They’ll basically overproduce the stuff and you can little hard bumps called milea or keratosis, which is medical talk for excessive production of keratin. Excessive keratin can also clog pores and cause pimples to form.

If you have tiny little bumps on the skin, milea or keratosis, or your dealing with troublesome acne, one of the most functional ways to deal with the problem is to use topical vitamin A, especially retinoic acid (brand name Retin-A) or retinol. Even application of the mildest form of Vitamin A, retinyl palmitate can be helpful. Taking a couple 10,000 iu capsules a day is probably good idea too. You can apply apple cider vinegar or a 10 percent solution of glycolic acid directly on the skin, too. Correcting fat malabsorbtion problems with supplemental digestive enzymes, probiotics, lecithin and bile salts can help clear skin up, too.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Destroying Cancer Cells

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Cancer is a sign of a body, tissues and cells that have been abused for decades. And, because cancer cells are OUR very own cells (dysfunctional, delinquent, and perverted as they may be), anything that “kills” cancer cells is in essence suicide medicine that ultimately kills the very body it is supposedly healing! That’s why chemotherapy is such a miserable experience and is rarely effective. The idea of using supplements to address what is essentially a trashed out biological system (I don’t mean to be mean or graphic, but think putrid, fetid, stinky landfill) is naive and simplistic, and like trying to eliminate the horrific smell of a sewage dump with a stick of incense. And herbal formulas like Hoxsey, Essiac and Cantron (which bills itself as an “amazing bio-electrical wellness formulation”) etc., while generally non-toxic, are not much more effective.

Destroying Cancer CellsHealthy cells become cancer cells as a survival mechanism in response to long-term deprivation of oxygen and energizing nutrients which leads to an inability to produce energy AND eliminate toxins. The net result is a starved, suffocated, and toxic cell and ultimately multiple cells, then tissues and organs. The hallmark signs of a cell gone cancerous, i.e. rapid chaotic growth/division and the greedy utilization of sugar and nutrients, represent a cell’s desperate attempt to survive under conditions of toxicity, nutrient deficiency and oxygen deprivation.

Because this process takes many years to develop, reversal while certainly possible (according to medical researcher Anthony Campbell www.acampbell.org.uk over 20 research articles on spontaneous remissions are available on Medline), for the most part effectively addressing the scourge of cancer requires converting the body’s biochemical environs to a state that is non-conducive to carcinogenesis. Thus, hawking herbs and supplements or dispensing medical poison to “cure” the condition by (supposedly) destroying cancer cells is ignorant at best and exploitative and predatory at worst. Not that there aren’t charlatans and hucksters everywhere who will be glad to exploit the sick, scared, desperate, innocent, and gullible by selling “magic” cancer-“killing” formulas. As always Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware)!

On the other hand, using supplements (especially intravenously), food/diet, oxygenation, and other health strategies are important for providing the body with what it needs to maintain its health, vigor, immunity and defense systems. This includes the use of vitamin C, glutathione-building NAC and glutamine, organic cold-processed whey protein, fermented foods, probiotics, and essential fats. Also, The Mighty 90 essential nutrients, fasting, CRON (Calorie Restriction Optimum Nutrition) Diet, laying off sugar and processed supermarket and restaurant foods are also advisable.

Bottom line: if you are dealing with cancer or any other degenerative state, rather than thinking of killing or curing, consider supplementing and making lifestyle choices (including spiritual, mental and emotional techniques) and doing what it takes to create a healthy body and biochemical environment in a manner that is no different than addressing the needs of a well body that is not confronted with a disease condition.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Lupus is a Disease of the Immune System

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Lupus is a non-tissue specific (it can show up in many parts of the body) autoimmune disease with broad based symptoms, the most common of which is a butterfly shaped pattern of redness that appears on the face. At one time physicians used to believe it was caused by a bite from a wolf (lupus is the Latin word for “wolf). Today doctors and other medical geniuses will tell you that there is no known cause, but I’m only a simple little pharmacist so I’m going to tell you that there is. Lupus is a disease of the immune system. It represents a characteristic immune system malfunction called autoimmunity, which simply means the body’s defensive chemistry turns on itself (auto = “self”). According to the Lupus Foundation website the symptoms of lupus “mysteriously” show up. They claim that they are “devoted to solving the mystery of lupus”. Oh really? Well, perhaps they should listen to The Bright Side where we talk about the real causes of lupus and other autoimmune diseases, which is quite obviously a jacked up and malfunctioning immune system. The only mystery is what exactly is it that is causing this hyperactive and misguided immune initiation.

Lupus is a Disease of the Immune System

Drawing of the typical “butterfly rash” found in lupus. By National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Ok, good question. What is it that causes a confused defensive response? That is, a defensive response that instead of focusing its wrath on an enemy instead turns its considerable biochemical firepower on the organism that it’s supposed to be defending. Well, in order to answer that question we have to understand where in the organism the immune system is located.
The vast majority of the immune system, anywhere from 70 to 80 percent, is located in a specialized tissue of the digestive tract. It’s technically called “Gastro Intestinal Lymphoid Tissue”, or GALT, and it’s responsible for initiating all immune responses to troublesome foods that pass through the digestive tube called the intestine. The most significant GALT response involves increasing the permeability of the digestive lining thereby allowing immune cells, which live in the blood, to have access to said troublesome food.

Unfortunately this permeability of the digestive lining is a two way street. In addition to allowing immune system cells to enter into the intestine from the blood, it unfortunately also permits food particles to enter into the blood from the intestine. Big problem!

Once food particles enter into the blood, a second defensive response is then initiated within the blood. And now we really have problems! The immune system is intelligent; it learns and “remembers”. Foods have a chemical constituency and the immune cells learn to respond to and can “remember” the specific chemical constituency of a food particle. Once the offending food structure is “remembered”, the immune system will become activated by ANY similar chemical structure. In other words, it will attack any substances with that same or a similar chemical constituency. Because chemical constituencies are consistent throughout nature and biology, there are many organs and systems in the body that “look” like foods that the immune system has learned to react to. The immune system will then react to those tissues too. If, for example, the immune system learns to react to a chemical structure in hamburger particles that have entered in to the blood AND those hamburger chemical structures are similar to patterns of chemicals in the skin, the immune cells can (cross-) react to the skin, in addition to hamburger. Thus will be born an autoimmune disease of the skin perhaps psoriasis or vitiligo or scleroderma. If you’re eating soy and a defensive response is triggered, the immune system can learn to respond that troublesome legume’s chemical makeup. Soy’s chemical structure may resemble the structure of the thyroid, which can then become a victim of the immune activity that was supposed to be defending the body from soy. That’s called autoimmune disease of the thyroid, or Hashimoto’s Disease, which is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. If you eat bread or pasta and a wheat particle get into the blood, the immune system can learn to react to the chemical makeup of the wheat particle. Wheat particles may resemble the chemical structure of the intestine, and voila, autoimmune disease of the intestinal lining which is known as Celiac Disease. Sometimes learned immune reactions to food can affect connective tissue which provides structural support for everything in the body. If this occurs the disease is given the term “lupus”, which is essentially an autoimmune disease that can affect anything, including the joints, kidneys, lungs, blood and heart. In other words lupus can be a big autoimmunity mess!

If you’ve been diagnosed with lupus (or any other auto immune disease) there are NO curative medications. But that’s not a problem because immune system issues need not be medical issues. By definition, an immune health condition is a defensive (immune) response to an offending agent. An immune (and autoimmune) disease means we’re doing something that is activating the immune system. Best bet is to figure out what the heck we’re doing to activate the immune system and then STOP DOING IT! Clue: it usually involves food. Eliminate foods that cause any digestive distress. Using nutrition to build up the digestive tract is also important. Probiotics are always helpful. Glutamine powder can help rebuild the digestive lining, and polysaccharides from aloe, noni and ocean vegetation can have a wonderful soothing and supporting effect for digestive tissue. And strengthening the immune system with Vitamins E, C, and A; and minerals like selenium and zinc is a good idea for any autoimmune or immune health condition.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Asthma Epidemic

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Get ready for another epidemic! According an article posted on cnn.com the annual “September Asthma Epidemic” (their words, not mine) is coming, although the only evidence they cite are clinical studies that have shown the greatest number of hospitalization due to asthmatic attack are highest 17 days after labor day. Whether an epidemic is on the way or not may be up to conjecture, but what is not debatable is the well-documented fact that asthma is a big and getting bigger problem. From 2001 to 2010, the asthma incidence increased almost 15 percent. By 2009, asthma accounted for nearly 3,400 deaths, nearly 480,000 hospitalizations, 1.9 million emergency department visits, and 8.9 million physician office visits.

Asthma Epidemic

By BruceBlaus (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Asthma, which affects almost 13 percent of adults, and over 29 million Americans at least once in their lives is best thought as an inflammatory condition of the airways. The airways are the passageways where air, or more specifically oxygen, gets transferred into the blood. The net effect is an obstruction or a blockade of oxygen which causes the wheezing and shortness of breath, and a sense of suffocation that occurs with a asthmatic attack. The key word in the above description is inflammatory, which alludes to the microscopic blockages where inhaled oxygen from the air we breathe is transferred to the blood.

And inflammation? Well, that’s always the manifestation of a jacked-up immune system. ALWAYS! I can think of no more fundamental concept in all of physical health. Inflammation is the way a defensive (immune) response shows up; a defensive response to some kind of stressor. And a defensive/stress response means something is getting into the body or something is happening to the body that the body perceives as an attack. In order for a DEFENES-ive response to be initiated there has to be a preceding OFFENSE-ive agent; And the main routes for an offensive agent to get into the body for a defensive response to be triggered, such as those observed with an ordinary asthmatic attack, are typically through the lungs (they are breathed in) or the digestive system (they are eaten). In the case of exercise induced asthma the stress results from the need to heat and humidify large amounts of air that enter into the lungs during exercise.

So what’s an asthmatic to do? Though the medical treatments of choice are inhalers, which are usually some kind of steroid type drug or a nervous system agent that dumbs down respiratory responsiveness or suppresses immunity. Pharmacological intervention is not without toxicity or side effects. The questions for asthmatics are: Do you really want to suppress the immune system that is so essential for protecting the body from the environment assaults, animate and inanimate Or, do you really want to dial down your nervous system that distributes the electrical energy that runs our bodies and brains?

In my opinion the best way to deal with asthma is to take a healthy, natural and multi-pronged approach. In the case of asthmatic attacks that are directly caused by something you’re eating, obviously you want to eliminate those kinds of foods. Dairy and grains are likely suspects. Sometimes legumes, including peanuts and soy, can be problematic. Even vegetables can induce an asthmatic attack in those who are predisposed. Be especially careful of the nightshades which include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers.

In addition to avoiding foods that can trigger asthmatic attacks it’s important to reduce the load on the immune system, from non-triggering substances that simply burden the immune system without directly causing respiratory symptoms. If there are predisposing immune loads(mostly problem foods), these can contribute to the signs of inhalation asthma albeit without directly causing asthmatic symptomology. Even if it doesn’t seem like there is a connection between foods and asthmatic symptoms, foods can still PREDISPOSE even if they don’t immediately CAUSE an asthmatic attack. This is kind of tricky, because the connection between predisposing factors that weaken the immune system or burden the immune AND immediate triggers might not be obvious. You might think your asthmatic symptoms are the result of exposure to pollen, not realizing that the pollen is merely the trigger and the cause is really an overburdened immune system that is struggling to keep up with food allergens or toxins that are getting into the body on a regular basis, even if they are not causing immediate symptoms or problems. I call it the “straw-that-breaks-the-camel’s-back” effect where the inhaled substance is not the actual cause but merely the “straw-that-breaks-the-camel’s-back”. What’s worse, if you have an immune system that is burning through nutrients or if you are malnourished, either because you’re not absorbing or nor getting nutrients this undernutriation can also be a contributing factor.

Look for other indicators of immune activation. Skin problems, rashes, frequent colds, autoimmune disease are all signs. If you have any of these symptoms associate with them foods and eliminate those foods. And if you don’t have any of those symptoms, then look for digestive difficulties. And really look. Bowel movement issues and gas are especially good clues. So is heart burn. If you have any of these symptoms connect them to food and eliminate those foods. This will decrease the burden on the immune system and reduce the “straw-that-breaks-the camel’s-back-effect”.

And don’t forget to add in the digestive support nutrients including probiotics, digestive enzymes with food, glutamine powder, juices of aloe vera and noni. There are also important nutrients for the lungs and blood and immune system. Magnesium is an asthmatic’s best nutritional friend. It can help relax constricted blood vessels and strengthen the immune system too; use 1000-2000mg of the glycinate form. Vitamin C is especially important for lung health. I’d be using 100-5000 mg a day. Vitamin E is also an important respiratory nutrient. Use the tocotrienol form, 400 IU daily, for best results. Vitamin E’s cousin, CoQ10 can be helpful, use the oil soluble gel-caps and take 100mg a day. And don’t forget about Vitamin D which can provide respiratory health benefits and beef up a burdened immune system. Sun exposure is always the best way to get your Vitamin D, but if you prefer to go the supplement route, take 5,000 to 10,000 IU. And always balance out your Vitamin D supplementation with Vitamin A, which can provide its own respiratory health benefits. I’d be taking 20,000 IU of Vitamin A at least 4 or 5 days a week. It’s stored in liver so missing a day or two isn’t going to hurt. Don’t forget your EFAs especially Omega-3 s from fish oil which can have wonderfully beneficial benefits for addressing the inflammation associated with asthma. Finally, in addition to supporting digestive health, probiotics can strengthen the immune system and keep it from being so sensitive and jumpy. Take 80 billion units a day and look for products that contain multiple strains of good bacteria.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Vitamin A Part 2

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Athletes take note:  Vitamin A can improve performance and provide tremendous benefits because it helps increase protein synthesis from muscle cells.  This means Vitamin A is one of the most important nutritional supplements for weight lifters and body builder and anyone interested in improving athletic performance.  And you don’t have to be pumping iron or running a marathon to benefit; the increased protein synthesis cans also improve vitality and energy and day to day strength for sedentary couch potatoes too.

Vitamin A Part 2

By Martin Doege (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps the most well-known role for vitamin A involves vision.  Some of the Vitamin A you ingest ends up in your eyes where it acts to turn light into our reality (!).  In other words, if you think see the world through rose colored glasses think again.  You actually observe the world through lenses made up of (partially, at least) of Vitamin A! From a historical perspective, the most significant sign of a lack of Vitamin A was night blindness, which can which can ultimately result in total blindness.  This was noted as early as 3500 years ago by ancient Chinese and Egyptian physicians used Vitamin A-rich fish liver oil as a treatment and cure.  The health of the cornea also depends on Vitamin A and deficiencies can lead to swelling, inflammation and ultimately ulceration and blindness.

It’s also important for the immune system.  While most people think of Vitamin Cwhen it comes to warding off colds and supporting the body’s defenses, as it turns out Vitamin A plays even more significant anti-pathogenic, anti-toxin role.  In addition to having an enhancing effect on specific antibodies, the workhorses of immunity, Vitamin A upregulates the body’s non-specific, general resistance to infection.  Dr. Robert Atkins, of Atkins Diet fame recommended taking extremely high doses (up 100,000 i.u., 50 times RDA) to be taken (along with Vitamin C and Zinc) at the first sign of a cold.

Finally, no discussion on Vitamin A would be complete without mentioning its non-essential cosmetic properties.  Topical Vitamin A is one of the most important and powerful anti-wrinkle ingredients you could every use.  The same connective tissue and protein stimulating properties you can get from eating or supplementing with Vitamin A can be targeted to the skin by directly applying the stuff.  It’s so effective at driving protein and collagen synthesis that it’s regulated by the FDA as a drug.  The brand name for this prescription Vitamin A cream as most people know is Retin-A and it contains just .01 to 1 percent retinoic acid (the most potent form of Vitamin A)  and that’s all you need to use just a few times a week to have noticeably smoother, healthier and younger looking skin.

Worldwide, Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is considered a serious problem by the World Health organization.  Because of its growth stimulating properties, children are especially susceptible to the negative health impacts of VAD. According to the World Health Organization, deficiencies in Vitamin A affect nearly 250 million preschoolers; it’s the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and it increases the risk of disease and death from serious infections. In addition to visual problems some of the indicators of VAD include dry eyes, skin conditions including acne and dermatitis and decreased resistance to infections and chronic colds and respiratory conditions.

Luckily, while Vitamin A deficiency is relatively common in undeveloped countries, in the United States and Europe full blown deficiencies are rare. Yet, it’s safe to say, most people could benefit from extra Vitamin A taken as a nutritional supplement. This critical nutrient is important for bone and eye health, the immune and reproductive systems and it helps keep skin looking soft, supple, and blemish-free. It acts synergistically with thyroid hormone and helps the body use protein and iron more efficiently. If you’re deficient in Zinc or if you have problems absorbing fats, you’re probably not getting the benefits you need from this versatile and very important vitamin.

Vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk for Vitamin A deficiency which is only found in animal products. Eggs, beef organ meats and dairy are nature’s richest sources of Vitamin A and especially high concentrations are found in liver and kidney.  Non-meat eaters (as well as carnivores that want make sure they’re getting enough) may want to consider supplementation with 20,000 international units a day.  The RDA for Vitamin A is a paltry 5000 i.u., but daily doses as high as 50,000 iu have been used for short periods of time for treating acne and heavy menstrual bleeding.  In one study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 1993,la whopping 300,000 iu daily dose was used to suppress the formation of tumors in lung cancer patients.

While Vitamin A is only found in animal products, many fruits and vegetables do produce a “phyto” version of this important nutritional molecule.  It’s called beta carotene and can be obtained via dark green leafy vegetables as well as red and orange fruits veggies like cantaloupe, carrots, pumpkins and squash and sweet potatoes.  Kale and turnip greens are particularly good source of beta carotene which is essentially 2 molecular chunks of Vitamin A stuck together to form what can be considered pre-vitamin A.   Beta carotene conversion to Vitamin A requires enzymes and effective biochemistry and depending on the health of the individual this may or may not occur.

Last, but most certainly not least, Vitamin A absorption requires bile and that means you want your gall bladder, and hundreds of thousands of patients lose theirs every year.  Liver disease, which affects 30 percent of Americans, can mess up the body’s ability to process Vitamin A too.  Pretty much anything that impairs fat absorption, including pancreatic insufficiency, small intestine inflammation and lymphatic congestion, can have a negative impact on the body’s ability to process and utilize vitamin A from foods and even supplements. If you suspect any issues with fat malabsorbtion or you are sans gall bladder, you might want to think about taking a vitamin A supplement and eating vitamin A rich foods with fat absorption aids such as lecithin, digestive enzymes, pancreatic enzymes, bile salts, probiotics and apple cider vinegar.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Adult Persistent Acne or APA

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

SUMMARY

  • Millions of Americans have Adult Persistent Acne
  • APA? Think adrenal and ovary/testes hormones
  • Causes as always: digestive, insulin, blood sugar, adrenal stress
  • Ovarian involvement sometimes results in cysts in the ovaries.  This condition is called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Symptoms include obesity, blood pressure issues fertility development of body hair, loss of head hair and oily skin and blemishes
  • For all APA use nutrition, diet and lifestyle strategies, they work!

 

Think zits are for kids?  Think again!  According to The International Dermal Institute between 40 and 55 percent of the adult population age 20-40 have with low grade, persistent acne and oily skin.That means millions of unfortunate Americans and what’s even more disconcerting is the fact that dermatologists who refer to this condition as Adult Persistent Acne (APA) are, for the most part, impotent and clueless when it comes to addressing this difficult and unpleasant skin condition.  The accepted medical protocols for dealing with APA remain mired in the tired antiquated, decades-old saws of steroids and antibiotics or worse barbaric deep chemical peels using toxic substances and potential carcinogens  like croton oil, phenol or aminolevulenic acid.

Adult Persistent Acne APAWhen it comes to the biology of APA, no health condition screams adrenal and reproductive gland dysfunction louder. Both the adrenals as well as the ovaries/testes produce substances that regulate the skin oil production, pigmentation and skin cell growth that are the hallmark features of adult acne.

To put it simply and concisely, the symptoms of adult persistent acne are a classic case of hormone pathology.  And, hormone pathology is itself more often than not a reflection of digestive and blood sugar problems.

Food toxins and allergies can result in malabsorbtion of raw materials for hormone production In fact, one of the more poorly recognized causes of APA is food intolerance and digestive issues.  If you find that in addition to problem skin you have digestive health issues, including loose stools and/ or constipation, chronic heartburn bloating, gas, or simply general gastrointestinal discomfort and unpleasantness AND you’re breaking out, the chances are pretty good that you’re dealing with some kind of digestive related skin condition.  And once the digestive distress becomes long-term and chronic you’re very possible that you’ll end up dealing with adrenal stress which can then function as a secondary cause of problem skin.  This is especially likely if your facial blemishes appear as rashy and diffuse (spread out all over the face) and if they are showing up on the back or chest or other non-facial parts of the body.

Then there’s blood sugar connection to adult acne.  Elevations in insulin, the sugar controlling hormone are often involved in the development APA.   Once the blood sugar system become overwhelmed, the adrenal activity is unregulated. Many of the more common features of adult persistent acne, especially skin oiliness and hyper-pigmentation are a common sign of adrenal hormone activation.

Even more significant, the dermal distress of APA is more than merely an unsavory superficial skin condition.  The hormone pathology behind the appearance of blemishes, dark spots and oily patches can be the harbinger of much more serious health issues to come.  Because the gland chemicals that are involved in causing adult acne are largely cleared by the lymphatic system, it’s like likely the over the long haul APA can result in congestion in this significant circulatory conduit for biochemical waste.  Because the lymphatic system is charged with eliminating the acne-inducing toxic and old hormones over time congestion of lymph fluid is likely to occur.  Clogging of the lymphatic system may then manifest as immune activity and inflammation and causing even more adult acne, hyper-pigmentation and oiliness.  Ultimately lymphatic congestion can wreak even worse biochemical havoc; liver disease, heart disease and cancer are just some of the ways lymphatic congestion can show up.

As mentioned previously, the hormone issues associated APA may be related to blood sugar dysfunction.  And because of the close connection between blood sugar and female reproductive hormones, women are especially prone to blood sugar induced APA.  Over the course of years and decades of sugar abuse (the average American consumes nearly half a pound a day, far more than the human body is supposed to handling) chronic elevations in insulin are likely.  Insulin as growth inducing substance stimulates cell growth and division.  In the ovaries this rapid cell growth and division can cause cysts.  Ovarian cysts produce symptom hormones and this can be especially problematic for some women.   In fact, elevations ovarian hormones the resulting symptoms, collectively known as Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) include weight gain, hair loss and the oily skin and blemishes associated with adult persistent acne.

If you are one of the many unfortunate sufferers of APA don’t despair.  Because ultimately acne like all skin and health conditions is a biochemical/nutrient problem, there are many biochemical/nutrient strategies(as opposed to pharmaceutical) for dealing with APA. Below are my Top 17nutrients and strategies for addressing adult persistent acne:

1)    Zinc Picolinate ( 50mg a day) – best taken with 2mg of Copper chelate, important for blood sugar control as well as hormone production and balance

2)    Vitamin A (20,000 iu a day) – premier skin vitamin stabilized the growth of skin cells and sebum (skin oil) producing cells too

3)    Vitamin B5 (1000-200mg three times a day taking each dose with the entire B-complex) – key vitamin for skin oils and adrenal gland hormones

4)    Vitamin B3 (timed release 100-300 mg daily,taking each dose take with the entire B-complex) – anti-inflammatory, improves blood sugar control

5)    NAC (500-1000mg) a day – important liver support nutrient, improve hormone processing

6)    Selenium Monomethionine (600mcg a day) – detoxification of old hormone

7)    Glutamine (1000 mg a day) – general detoxification and anti-inflammatory properties

8)    MSM (2000mg a day) – detoxification, improve hormone elimination

9)    Vitamin C (5000-10,000 mg a day) – the “primal panacea”, good for everything.  Involved in hormone production as well as blood sugar chemistry

10)   Probiotics (80 billion units of multiple strains) – improves fat metabolism, detoxification and hormone processing

11)    Vitamin E (400 iu a day) – dramatic anti-inflammatory and healing properties

12)   Isolate and eliminate problem foods (dairy, grains eggs and legumes are BIG problem foods; ANY vegetable can be a trigger as well)

13)   Eat lots of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy) – improves hormone processing and detoxification.  Steam lightly if you have any thyroid issues

14)   Reduce intake of insulin spiking foods

15)   Reduce intake of ALL foods caloric intake, fasting can have a dramatic impact

16)   Slow down and deepen breathing, deep diaphragmatic breathing techniques daily to improve adrenal function

17)   Exfoliate and cleanse daily 2% salicylic acid toners and cleanser.  Keeping excess skin oils off of the face is important.  These secretions from oil glands, technically called sebum undergo chemical when they’re exposed to air that can cause inflammation and increase zittiness.  Proper and regular exfoliation will assure that potential poor clogging dead skin cells are removed off of the skin surface.

18)   Use Retinoic Acid cream or gel!!  It is by far and away the most important topical skin product you can use.   It improves all markers of skin health including hyper-pigmentation, oily skin and blemish formation.  It’ll even prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.

 

 

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Warfarin Toxicity

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Of all the deadly health destroying poisonous drugs in the pharmacy, it would be difficult to come up with one that has more toxicity than warfarin. Traditionally used as rat poison, warfarin (brand name Coumadin), which claims 4 million patient/victims in the United States, (over 1 percent of the American public!) is used by physicians to keep the blood in a fluid state.

Blood clotting is serious business and according to the National Blood Clot Alliance as many as 2 million of them occur every year, with up to 300,000 of them fatal. Thus the rational for the use of powerful blood thinning gents like warfarin would seem to be sound. After all, what’s wrong with a little rat poison if it keeps the blood in a fluid state and reduces the risk of a potentially life-threatening clot? The problem is, the clotting mechanisms of the blood are intricate and sophisticated. Coagulation is a tightly regulated biochemical function and to override these mechanisms requires some serious chemical poison. Warfarin ToxicityThrowing a pharmaceutical monkey wrench into this highly controlled system is a dangerous proposition and indeed the line between desired blood thinning effects and adverse reactions, toxicities and even death is razor thin.

Not to worry though, for now our friends in the world of pharmaceuticals have come to the rescue. Yesterday the FDA announced their latest drug approval for “Kcentra” a new pharmaceutical marketed by CSL Behring, specifically mandated to stop severe bleeding associated with the use of warfarin. Great, now we have another drug to take care of the side effects of an original drug. Although no mention in the FDA press release is made of the side effects of Kcentra, you can bet they will occur and they will be significant. According to CSL Behring, some potential problems associated with the use of their new drug include stroke, pulmonary embolism, and deep vein thrombosis, in addition to more mundane side effects like headache, nausea/vomiting, joint pain and low blood pressure.

Blood delivers oxygen and nutrients and its facile movement through the body is an absolute requirement for good health. If the body has initiated blood clotting chemistry inappropriately something is seriously amiss. Thus clotting usually involves a response to some kind of emergency condition such as a surgery, wounding, lack of nutrition, hypoxia (low oxygen) or the entrance of toxicity (e.g. from food, cigarette smoke or drugs) into the sacred sanctum of the blood.

That means the best way to keep blood in its optimum fluid state is to make sure you’re doing everything you can do to stay healthy. First of all it’s imperative, as always, that a priority is placed on digestive wellness. Nothing will cause the blood to clot faster than the entrance of food particles through a leaky gut. Make sure you’re staying away from problem foods, using probiotics, glutamine powder and apple cider vinegar. Digestive enzymes can provide a one-two anti-clotting punch. When taken with food they can improve digestion and reduce the likelihood of undigested food particles getting into the blood. And when taken on an empty stomach they can actually help dissolve clots and thin the blood. Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids have blood thinning properties, and timed-release niacin, while not directly thinning the blood, can have a blood vessel opening effect that may improve circulation. And perhaps the most important strategy for maintaining blood fluidity involves oxygen. A couple of minutes of deep breathing is always a good idea, even if you don’t have blood clotting problems. And, if your blood is tending to get sticky it can be a life-saver. If you have a smart phone, you may want to invest in a deep breathing app like “Breathing Zone” or “My Calm Beat”. Even something as simple as a daily two or three minute bounce on a mini-trampoline can be a helpful drug and doctor free strategy for keeping blood circulating and flowing efficiently.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Toxic