Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Theories behind PANDAS and why I think this happened to us

A perfect storm Inflammation (Sam suddenly started drinking milk, something she had never done before which we know she is sensitive to = immunological activation + inflammation).  This also affected her gut health which is strongly correlated with immune and neurological function.

Sam caught Strep which began molecular mimicry and overactivation of the immune system.  Molecular mimicry is when antibodies intended for foreign proteins and invaders may cause lesions and pathology in healthy tissue (nerve cells). These now act as ‘neurotoxins’ in the brain.

 “PANDAS is believed to be caused in part by molecular mimicry – the neurological symptoms being a result of GABHS antibodies acting against an individual’s basal ganglia and neural tissue”

General stress so that there are less resources available for the body to deal with the gut, immune and inflammation issues mentioned above.  High cortisol levels and hormones in general (starting grade 6 – I took Sam to Universal studios for her birthday Sept. 15th – 18th, so the stress of coming back to reality, starting Grade 6, so many kids / social situation to deal with after the summer of general ease, school work, hormones etc).

Energetically, some would (and have) say this happened for my journey to be a better doctor and Naturopath.  Navigating the school and medical system to access resources, REALLY understanding what parents are going through, and I'll admit, it's been a while since we've been gluten and dairy free, so even navigating the grocery stores.  I 'know' what to do yes, but the learning curve of applying it all again.

The plan
1.      Anti-microbials
2.      Anti-inflammatory lifestyle (no gluten, no dairy, no corn, no sugar)
3.      Treat the gut
4.      Decrease neurotoxins
5.      Anxiety strategies

6.      Home schooling for 4-6 weeks (who knew YRDSB did this)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A glimmer of hope through the hell – PANDAS confirmed

For the past 4 weeks, my family has been living through hell.  Our strong, independent daughter had turned into a scared, aggressive ‘wild animal’ overnight.  Each morning I would wake in a panic, what would this day bring?  The psychologists assured me forcing her to school each day was necessary, “you must fight anxiety with exposure, even if for 30 minutes” – but each exposure made the situation worse.  She went from extreme depression, to extreme anxiety to panic, aggression and opposition defiance, the symptoms getting worse.  Planning the follow day became a nightmare, would she go to school? what class? we can’t leave her alone so who will take off work?  I stopped booking patients and making any plans.  And although “mental health affects us all, let’s talk” is a common slogan – the stigma and embarrassment makes it hard to talk about.  I’m a Naturopath who FOCUSES on anxiety, how can my own child be this out of control?  How could I not have seen the signs?  From someone who never takes their children to the doctor I was having 3-4 appointments weekly with different specialists, private school, home schools, teachers – anything to help us dig ourselves out of the hell and start on a new path. 

It took 3 weeks before I could even start to tell my friends and family about what we were going through.  Finally, I broke down in tears in front on a colleague and friend, who once I told my story said “Deb – your daughter has PANDAS.  Test her for strep”.  A few days later, sure enough, Samantha tested positive for streptococcus.  Thank god there is a reason for this extreme abnormal behaviour, PANDAS is now part of my story, Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus’. 

We begin treatment today and the research and battle begins.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Are you full of Cr@#p? Step one to Healthy Living: Robust Digestion

In order to produce heart beat, breaths, energy in the form of ATP (the list goes on) our body is constantly producing waste, toxic waste*.  Good news, our bodies are also constantly eliminating this waste.  as long as Good In = Bad out all is well and we are in ‘homeostasis”.  But, in most of us, our BAD IN is on the rise.  I used to ask my patients how many bowel movements they had per day, looking for the perfect answer of 2-3 a day, 1 after each meal, and so rarely got it, that I now ask, “How many bowel movements do you have a week”.  With 5 now the norm.  Quite literally my friends, we are now a society that is full of crap.

 Why is this the case?  Poor food choices, inflammation, dysbiosis, slowing down of our metabolism, slowing down of our organ processes, inefficient elimination pathways producing generally sluggishness.  And for those of you thinking, oh, all I need is a coffee (or a glass of milk…or any substance typically on the ‘food that causes inflammation and sensitivities list) and I’m as regular as clock work – think again.  That coffee does the trick because it is irritating the mucous membranes, causing inflammation – so yes, its helping to some degree, but it is not indicative of a healthy robust digestive system. 

The first step for any wellness program is to create a healthy digestive track, with a minimum of 2 bowel movements daily, well formed, no heart burn, or gas, or bloating – even if those things are now ‘common’ doesn’t mean that that in normal.

Examples of potentially dangerous toxins / free radicals: *Ammonia, aldehydes, alcohols, hydroxyl radical, superoxide anion radical, hydrogen peroxide, oxygen singlet, hypochlorite, nitric oxide, homocysteine, cardon dioxide, bilirubin, adducts (often implicated in Fatty Liver disease).

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Eating a healthy diet, exercising and still not losing weight?

We have always known that stress leads to weight grain, and at the very least inability to lose weight.  Knowing that cortisol  is our body's 'stress hormone' it has taken a big part of the blame so far, but now we can add another stress hormone to the list of culprits - ANGPTL8 or betatrophin.

A new study shows that stress causes a hormone ANGPTL8, also knows as betatrophin to be release.  Betatrophin is a protein that regulates fat metabolism by decreasing the expression of a fat fighting enzyme, called adipocyte triglyceride lipase.

Just one more reason that stress management is so important when it comes to weight loss, as are setting realistic expectations.  I see so many patients come into my office who are exhausted, stressed out and anxious, but what they want to work on is weight loss.

It's pretty hard to talk someone who is hell bent on trying to lose weight to switch their focus to increasing energy and stress management, but it's all about removing the root cause, and once the root cause is discovered and removed, results will follow.

It also gives one more argument for stress reduction.  I have recently started getting my patients to spend a few minutes each day doing HeartMath breathing using the EmWave pro.  I first read about HeartMath from an author writing about Weight loss, how he has his patients do heart math breathing before each meal.  If you haven't had a chance to do it, come on in to the clinic and give it a try.

BBA Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids February 2016: 1861(2); 130-137

Thursday, November 19, 2015

No Fish Oil or Green Leafy Vegetables?!!

 A patient came to see me today who has metabolic syndrome, the whole gamut of high waist: hip ratio, high blood pressure, fatty liver and diabetes.  She told me she had seen a dietitian who told her to avoid fats – including omega 3 FISH OIL, and to not have any green leafy vegetables.  I’m shocked that in today’s society, we know the fat myth has been debunked numerous times, yet, low fat, high grain diets are still being touted as the healthiest – even to diabetic patients!

Every cell in the human body is surrounded by fat – we NEED fat!  Fat then goes on to make our prostaglandins, our leukotrienes and our hormones.  Not only a vital part of communication, but 60% of the dry weight of the brain is fat, our nerves need fat to transmit signals and yes, its an energy source as well. 

Each one of us is different, and there is no one size fits all diet.  This patient was feeling constantly light headed and hungry with this low protein, low fat, high grain diet – and no wonder, the foundation of each meal was grains – oatmeal for breakfast and “whole grain” bread for lunch and dinner.  As a diabetic patient, with blood type O, the high grain diet is not in her best interested.  A higher protein, higher ‘healthy’ fat diet is needed for optimal health. 

There have definitely been patients who I have taken off raw green leafy vegetables for one reason or another.  But diabetes, high blood pressure and fatty liver were not the reasons.  Green leafy vegetables reduce toxins in the liver and promote liver enzyme production.    Liver enzymes protect the liver and rid it of foreign particles, including toxins and fat deposits. Salad greens--dandelions, endive and chicory--and artichokes stimulate bile flow in the liver. Bile is the secretion that assists the body with fat digestion.

So yes, enjoy your avocado, olive oil, and green leafy vegetables with fatty liver – your liver will thank you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Brain Plasticity and Deep Meditation / Mindfulness

Countless studies are now showing us, that through mental training the brain can permanently be altered, a process now referred to as top-down plasticity (Begley, 2007).

Since my undergraduate work was in Genetics and Molecular biology, I have enthusiastically followed the epigenetics research, how environmental conditions can play a significant role in whether you will or will not get a specific disease – it’s not all in the genes, but rather in the gene expression.

Interestingly, the brain is no different.   Gene expression is turned on by novelty and surprise, thus, deep meditation or hypnosis (a state of altered brain wave patterns) can stimulate neurogenesis and the building of new neural pathways, hence, insight.

I guarantee you've experienced this yourselves.  You’ve spaced out for a few minutes, when all of a sudden a brilliant insight pops into your mind – that ‘spaced out’ feeling you experienced was a trance or hypnotic state.  As a matter of fact, the average person moves through natural neural rhythms of arousal to relaxation 12 times a day.

Mindfulness, deep meditation or hypnosis is a method to quickly induce the brain circuitry for plasticity.  PET scans show thought during deep relaxation, the left pre frontal lobe is activated and the right pre frontal lobe activity decreases.  The left pre-frontal lobe is associated with positive feelings, while the right with anger and anxiety.

Using this knowledge, experiments have been conducted on patients with anxiety, depression and OCD, all showing significant improvement when mindfulness techniques were included in treatment.

I’m a sucker when it comes to positive genetic changes in the brain, and love meditation but don’t have the time for it, nor do most of my patients – thus, my keen interested in hypnotherapy. Almost finished my 100 hours training, and can’t wait to start making positive change with my patients.
Dr. D

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sick Fat - The link between gut health, inflammation and metabolic challenges

Consider for a moment – your fat.  The fat around your belly, thighs, breasts, arms – this is not inert, benign tissue, this is a function organ, influencing your endocrine and immune system.

Which fat is the most problematic?  Let’s have a look at each kind:

1.       Subcutaneous fat – upper arms, back, legs, buttocks and subcutaneous abdominal fat – more benign, little harmful immune or metabolic effects

2.       Visceral fat – apple shaped, deep, around organs, men with ‘hard’ bellies – highly inflammatory and very biologically active fat

When fat cells become enlarged, their oxygen supply becomes inadequate, the cells begin to release hormones such as leptin – making you hungry and immune cells infiltrate, causing free fatty acids to be released into the body causing inflammation.  Since we know that almost all chronic degenerate disease is in an inflammatory, acidic environment, this isn’t just a, on no, I have to loose a few pounds problem, this become as a serious health risk and its dubbed – SICK FAT.

Do you have sick fat?  Consider your waist circumference to estimate your visceral or belly fat.Ideally, a waist circumference of < 70-75 cm in women and less than 75- 80 cm.

All you skinny people, don’t think you’re automatically off the hook.  “skinny fat” was a term coined for those who are metabolically obese, but normal weight.  So assessing actual fat levels is important for optimal health.

Why is this worth talking about.  Because, it means that your body’s fat is making you sick, it’s changing the way your immune system is responding to stimuli and leaving you primed for illness.  FAT cells release hormones (yup, its not just the brain or sex organs) which lead to this cycle of hunger, immune activation and increased fat.  It even causes a reallocation of nutrients, so even though you may think you’re getting enough nutrients from your daily multi, they’re not going where you need them to, leaving you fat yet undernourished!

The good news – there is a way to stop the cycle.  The link between gut health, inflammation and metabolic challenges is clear and resolvable.