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Posts Tagged ‘digestive disorders’

The word “detoxify” has become somewhat of a buzz word in the natural health field. Many patients ask about it, and so I will share some thoughts on it. As you probably suspect, detoxification is a general term that refers to the body breaking down potentially toxic chemicals and eventually excreting them from the body. According to Chris Astill-Smith, DC, DIBAK, there are more than 75,000 synthetic chemical that exist.

There are five major organs of detoxification: 1) the liver, 2) the kidneys, 3) the colon (large intestine), 4) the skin, and 5) the lungs. Of these five organs, most people are aware that the liver is a major, if not the major organ of detoxification. Therefore, I’ll focus on the liver’s role and function in this process.

The liver has 2 major phases of detoxification: creatively named, “phase 1” and “phase 2”. There is actually a “phase 3” that is being talked about, but let’s keep it simple.

First of all, there are 2 main classifications of toxins: endogenous (those created within the body) and exogenous (those from outside the body or the environment). Endogenous “toxins” (or biochemicals that need to be cleared or detoxed) mainly consist of neurotransmitters, hormones, eicosanoids, certain fatty acids, and retinoids. Exogenous toxins (or xenobiotics) are just about every man-made chemical or pollutant (including drugs, cancer-causing chemicals, pesticides, etc.). Interestingly, Dr. Bruce Ames says that 90% of the body’s detoxification processes probably deal with toxins that are endogenously produced.

Many, but not all toxins are fat-soluble. Therefore, many toxins are stored in fat cells. So a person who has more (essentially excess) fat, could mean they have more toxins. And very often, as I frequently see, the body needs to shed those toxins before it is capable of shedding the excess fat. Regardless, the main purpose of the liver’s detox phases is to make a toxin more water-soluble in order for it to be excreted effectively. That said, some toxins will stay in fat tissue indefinitely if they are not converted to a water-soluble form.

I’ll keep it simple (so not entirely precise) and say that phase 1 deals with making a toxin water-soluble, in order for phase 2 to be able to rid it from the body. Keep in mind that many chemicals are actually MORE toxic after they go through phase 1. That is, they can then be considered carcinogenic (or cancer-causing) after phase 1 detox whereas if left “alone” they were only potentially carcinogenic. So a deficit in phase 2 detox can be extraordinarily dangerous. Then again, a problem with phase 1 detox can also cause a host of problems.

The bottom line here is that you need precise nutrients for each phase in order to detox effectively. Here they are (although there may be a few more than listed).

Phase 1:
Vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12; folic acid; glutathione (made of the 3 amino acids; cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine); branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine); flavanoids (found in many fruits and vegetables); and phospholipids (fat-derived chemcials).

In order to protect the body from the damaging effects of toxins that are in the intermediate stage; which have gone through phase 1 but not yet phase 2, we need: Vitamins A, C, and E; along with (minerals) selenium, copper, zinc, manganese; coenzyme Q10; thiols (found in garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.); and bioflavanoids (found in fruits and vegetables).

Phase 2: the amino acids (or building blocks of protein): glutathione, glycine, taurine, glutamine, ornithine, and arginine

Again, there may be some more nutrients that are helpful, but if you cover your bases with those mentioned, chances are your liver will be well-equipped to handle most, if not all toxins. Please note that phase 1 mainly consists of B-vitamins, phase 2 mainly amino acids (essentially protein), and the “in-between” stage needs mainly antioxidants.

Unfortunately, there is no one nutrient that can take care of everything. Therefore, the most important nutrient that one needs in order to detox effectively is the one they are deficient in.

A thorough history, and in-office applied kinesiology methods can be effective in helping determine what nutrients may help you. There are also many laboratory tests that can help determine what you need most to detoxify effectively.

Many symptoms and conditions can be traced back to an inability to detoxify effectively, so delving into them all would seem a bit over the top. Simply cover your bases with a good whole-food diet containing adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats. By the way, drinking organic vegetable juice(s) on a daily basis is by far one of the best ways to up-regulate detoxification. Don’t forget the protein though.

And one last thing: if you have a toxic colon, you may have to deal with that before your liver can get up to speed. I say this because one of the liver’s main functions is to detox the colon. I encourage you to read this article related to digestive health.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

Sources: http://www.metabolics.com/

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The phrase: “Death begins in the colon”, coined by Nobel Prize winner professor Elie Metchnikoff, is a well known one; at least amongst my peers and I. I’m not sure who originally coined the 4 R’s approach to digestive disorders, but it is certainly a great way to help someone gain optimal digestive health. The 4 R’s are: 1) Remove. 2) Replace, 3) Re-inoculate, 4) Repair. I’ll discuss each individually.

1) Remove – This refers to removing food allergens, sugar (in most forms), alcohol, artificial sweeteners and colors, and perhaps even gluten from the diet. Additionally, “removal” of pathogens such as: (an overgrowth of) yeast, parasites, harmful bacteria, viruses, protozoa, etc. is part of the “remove” step. This can be accomplished through the making healthy food choices and taking specific nutritional and/or herbal formulas.

2) Replace – This refers to “replacing”, really adding the biochemicals (via dietary supplements) necessary to digest food. For example, one may need digestive enzymes (to break down fat, carbohydrates, and protein) and/or hydrochloric acid to help with digestion of protein in the stomach, among other important reasons.

3) Re-inoculate – This step involves adding beneficial flora (or gut bacteria) in the form of dietary supplements. This helps to ensure the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the digestive tract is balanced in a healthy way. Often, there will be an overgrowth of organisms (those mentioned in step 2), that necessitates “re-inoculation” of good bacteria into the intestines. There are purportedly about 500 different species of bacteria residing in the gut. The common ones you’ve probably heard of are acidophilus and bifidus. These bacteria perform so many important functions that the topic deserves an article of its own.

4) Repair – This refers to repairing the structural integrity of the stomach and digestive tract. The digestive lining is easily irritated, especially from food allergens and foreign (natural or artificial) chemicals. The small intestine lining specifically tends to lose its integrity easily and can result in a condition known as “leaky gut syndrome”. This is when the cells that create the barrier against food getting into the bloodstream become damaged, thus allowing large undigested food particles (and chemicals) to be released systemically. As a result, the body can mount an immune response in reaction to these “foreign” and undigested chemicals causing a whole host of symptoms, especially allergic reactions leading to systemic inflammation. There are a variety of remedies that address this situation.

In my experience each individual does not necessarily need to go through all of these steps in order to feel better. However, implementing at least one (usually 2-3) can be the difference between success and failure. Changing the diet alone is usually not sufficient enough to feel and function better, especially if the condition is chronic.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The amount of stress and ability of your body to adapt to it will determine how it affects your health and well-being.

We have 2 adrenal glands that sit atop each of our kidneys and are sometimes referred to as the “stress glands”, because they secrete stress hormones (cortisol) and neurotransmitters (adrenaline and noradrenaline). They also produce sex hormones (estrogen testosterone, etc.), electrolyte-balancing (aldosterone) hormones, and the “anti-aging” hormone DHEA.

All of these biochemicals contribute significantly to blood sugar and pressure regulation, electrolyte and fluid levels, inflammation levels, immune system response, sleeping patterns, mood changes, bone turnover rate, and more.

There are 5 main categories of stressors that the adrenals (and the rest of the body) must respond to. These include:

1) structural: any injury, compromising musculoskeletal condition, etc.
2) chemical: nutrient deficiencies or excesses, exposure to exogenous (external) or endogenous (internally produced) toxins, etc.
3) mental/emotional: fear, worry, panic, anxiety, etc.
4) thermal: extreme temperatures
5) electromagnetic radiation: cell phones and towers, computers, our environment
environmental factors like noise, etc. may also be considered stressors.

Fortunately, we can put ionizing radiation (nuclear reactor and weapon-type) aside; as it is rarely confronted.

Hans Selye, a doctor who studied the stress response extensively, reported 3 phases in which the body reacts to stress. This is known as the General Adaptation Syndrome.

Phase 1 – The Alarm Phase: this refers to the  body responding via a “fight-or-flight” response.  This is generally considered a normal adaptation to stress and causes the major hormones (cortisol and DHEA) to increase at normal levels. Additionally, adrenaline and noradrenaline output is increased. These hormones and neurotransmitters are designed to help the body by increasing heart rate and blood pressure; increasing the respiration rate; shunting blood away from the digestive tract to the brain and muscles instead – thus allowing the individual to “flee” from the stressful event. Think of running away from a saber-toothed tiger. That is what this system is designed to respond to. Everyday “tigers” in the “developed” world equate to every day stress responses as described above. Typically, this is a short-lived stressor and normally functioning response.

Phase 2 – The Resistance Phase: this phase is incorporated during and after  prolonged bouts of stress. Cortisol tends to rise and DHEA tends to be suppressed. This stage may begin after one bout of stress that is never resolved or after the accumulation of many small day-to-day stressors. If, or when this stage begins depends on a number of individual factors.

Phase 3 – The Exhaustion Phase: this is characterized by low levels of the stress hormone cortisol and DHEA. Essentially, this occurs when a person is so drained and exhausted that they have lost most of their ability to adapt to stressors (of any kind).

Behaviors, signs, symptoms, and conditions resulting from (or being exacerbated by) stressed adrenal glands will vary individually but generally include: high or low blood pressure, blood sugar imbalances (esp. hypoglycemia), fatigue and chronic fatigue, depression, eating disorders, panic and/or anxiety attacks, infertility and male/female hormonal imbalances, sleep disorders, low back pain and neck pain, PMS and menopausal symptoms, weak/lax ligaments, irritability, osteopenia and osteoporosis, food cravings, dizziness (esp. when rising from a seated or lying position), swelling and fluid retention, dehydration, heart palpitations, fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders, fat deposition in the abdomen (or central obesity), depressed immune system, insulin resistance, sluggish digestion and/or digestive disorders, etc..  The list continues…

One major complication that results from adrenal stress syndrome of any degree is blood sugar imbalances – because of the problems that can cause. Adrenal stress can cause blood sugar imbalances through hormone fluctuations from stressors; or it can result from hormone fluctuations in response to blood sugar imbalances (caused by poor food choices and nutrient deficiencies).

So either way you look at it… You can’t “fix” the adrenals if you don’t “fix” the blood sugar, and you can’t “fix” the blood sugar if you don’t “fix” the diet (and lifestyle).

By the way, when encountered with “stressful” situations, please remember that it is not the situation that is the “problem” as much as it’s the individual’s response to the situation. I’ll have more on how to help adrenal stress syndrome in future articles.

Selye’s description of changes in body function is a good starting point to understanding adrenal stress syndrome, but many times there is a wide array of variations. And his description may be seen as rudimentary to some.

Fortunately, specific testing of these hormones and neurotransmitters is now possible through “functional medicine” laboratories. Standard laboratory evaluations usually only pick up “outright” adrenal gland diseases, such as Addison’s disease. More people most likely suffer from functional adrenal gland imbalances as opposed to pathological ones. Tests to identify adrenal hormone output should be as commonplace as a CBC (complete blood count) in my opinion.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiologist

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If you haven’t read my articles titled “Stomach and heartburn symptoms – aka GERD” or “Digestion – the importance of hydrochloric acid“, I recommend you start there. You may be tired of hearing about this by now, however I obviously find digestion extremely important. As with all things in life, I feel we should get the basics down first. And I believe the major nutritionally-related basics are: 1) proper digestion and absorption (assuming there is adequate nutrient intake from whole foods), 2) sufficient amounts of pure, clean water, and 3) maintenance of optimal blood sugar levels. If you can get those three things right, you’ll prevent a lot of health problems. So, this article deals with #1.

Obviously, acid-stopping medications stop your body’s production of (normal and necessary) hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach. Today I’ll talk about the consequences of those medications; which also relates to the consequences of low amounts of HCl, even if you’re not taking medication. And believe me, it is a very prevalent problem, and can easily go unnoticed because you will not always have overt digestive symptoms. Now I’ll discuss the main problems associated with  too little stomach acidity.

1) An inability to properly digest proteins will likely occur.
Proteins become denatured in your stomach which allows for their eventual complete digestion. However, the stomach must have a highly acidic pH in order to accomplish this. Lack of digestion of protein will present two main problems.
First, your body may be compromised in synthesizing neurotransmitters, hormones, antibodies, hair, skin, nails, muscle etc.. That is because all of those biochemicals and tissues require amino acids to be made. Amino acids are the “building blocks” of protein. Think of a chain with links; the whole chain would be called protein, and all the individual links called amino acids.
Second, your muscles will breakdown if you do not have adequate protein available. Muscles contain abundant amounts of protein, hence the density of protein in animal meats. So, your body will “rob Peter to pay Paul” if you are not supplying adequate amounts of protein. That is, your body will literally breakdown your muscles in order to get the necessary amino acids (protein) used in making the substances mentioned above. And you still may not make everything necessary through this route. Regardless, you will literally tear your body down. Now imagine you were strength training as well – not a good combination.

2) Proper acidity in the stomach acts as an antiseptic.
Essentially, the highly acidic environment kills pathogens. What happens if we don’t kill pathogens? Of course, we get infections of varying sorts. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, acid-blocking drugs cause an increased incidence of pneumonia. Now, there is controversy over this issue, as some studies did not find these same results. However, two researchers conducted an analysis of a number of studies and DID in fact a find an increased risk of infection with the use of acid-stopping drugs. By now though, there is probably another study refuting that and showing no effect from the drugs.

[As a quick aside – you can probably take almost any medical research study finding, then sit down on Google® for 15 minutes, and find another study that refutes those findings. That just seems to be how scientific research is. Also, it is often not possible to find out who funded a particular study. Anyway, read this on how scientific, science really is. But that story is really nothing compared to this popular story about a well-known drug company and it’s now banned deadly, drug. One more, then enough about the politics behind research.]

Regardless of whether you are susceptible enough to have these possible side-effects like pneumonia. Time and time again, I find that patients have sub-clinical symptoms that resemble gastrointestinal tract infections (and other seemingly unrelated symptoms) and can possibly be the cause of their acid-stopping medications. In particular, side-effects of some acid-stopping medications include the following: headache, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and rash. I would think of dysbiosis (or microbial imbalance in the gut) with every one of these symptoms. Additionally, About.com reports the symptoms of low stomach acid (not necessarily from drugs) as: “diarrhea, steatorrhea, macrocytic anemia, weight loss, protein-losing enteropathy, abdominal discomfort or bloating and reflux. Deficiencies in certain nutrients may result in limb weakness, memory or mood changes, numbness and tingling in the limbs or other symptoms”.

3) Reduced mineral absorption.
Most research refers to the inhibition of calcium absorption from acid-blocking drugs. Some studies report a higher incidence of hip fracture (because of low bone-mineral density); especially if these drugs are taken in high doses. Well, this clearly points out that acid-blocking drugs affect calcium utilization. You may not fracture your hip, but osteopenia and osteoporosis may certainly be a result. Also, I frequently find that abnormalities in calcium metabolism cause musculoskeletal conditions. Muscle cramps and bursitis are the most common that I see. Also, these problems can then cause or exacerbate other musculoskeletal conditions.

I hope you found this article informative. And I hope that if you or someone you know is taking one of these drugs, it had better be absolutely necessary; and other therapies to reduce the side-effects should be implemented. And please remember that you should never discontinue taking a drug prescribed by your physician without consulting with them first.

By the way, this is not a complete list of side-effects. But that’s good enough for now.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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Digestive problems are one of the most common conditions I see in my patients. And they are usually one of the easiest to “fix”. Now I want to discuss one possible reason that people can have faulty digestion, related to hydrochloric acid (HCl).

The chemical aspect of digestion begins in the mouth with salivary enzymes contacting food and beginning the breakdown process. It would certainly be feasible to argue that digestion actually begins in the brain when we first look at appetizing food and begin to salivate. Regardless, I will focus this article on the role and critical importance of HCl as it relates to the digestive process in the stomach.

The pH (i.e.: acidity, neutrality, or alkalinity) of  gastric (stomach) acid should normally be between 1.5-3.5, according the National Institutes of Health, some sources report an even lower pH. This is the most acidic area in our body and is a result of HCl. There are other components of gastric acid, mostly water, but let’s focus on HCl. I’ll now discuss the four roles HCl plays in the stomach. Two roles relate directly to digestion and the other two indirectly.

1) Hydrochloric acid denatures proteins. Essentially, it cleaves the bonds and basically “melts” the proteins. This is what it is generally thought to do, but there is more. [By the way, undigested proteins tend to result in allergic reactions, as the body can’t recognize the substance (when undigested) and the immune system then “attacks” it causing the reaction]

2) Hydrochloric acid also activates a substance called pepsin, via its conversion from a substance called pepsinogen. It is pepsin that mainly digests the protein we eat. Protein is critical for just about everything in our body and every cell in our body; namely collagen, elastin, hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, antibodies, hair, skin, nails, and muscle; and other bodily functions.

3) Indirectly HCl assists digestion further down the gastrointestinal tract by acting as antiseptic in the stomach. This occurs through literally killing microorganisms that exist in the food we eat. These organisms can come from the handling of food, natural organisms that may be present on raw food, and the unfortunate result of spoiled, semi-spoiled or uncooked meat and fish. Hydrochloric acid will also assist in the prevention of food fermentation that may occur in the dark, moist environment of the stomach. This function of HCl is of critical importance in order to prevent food-poisoning, and clinical or sub-clinical occurrence(s) of yeast, bacterial, viral, parasitic, and protozoal infections – which all happen to be a very common cause of digestive distress.

4) Lastly, HCl allows for proper mineral absorption as it assists in ionizing minerals, like calcium and magnesium to name a few. Minerals are necessary for many functions in the body, especially as catalysts to enzymes that run the important biochemical reactions that take place every second in our body. Additionally, they contribute to structural formation, as in bone.

A need for hydrochloric acid supplementation is definitely one of the most common things I see in patients. Especially those patients who complain of digestive difficulties like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, yeast overgrowth (even vaginal), and even heartburn. Additionally, patients who complain that they “lost the taste” for meat tend to need HCl as well. Lastly, it should be investigated in everyone with mineral deficiency symptoms, especially osteoporosis. Bone actually has more protein than calcium. To date, I’ve literally only had one patient say that he felt a slight uncomfortable sensation from HCl supplementation, but nothing serious at all according to him. He was willing continue but I chose to have him stop it and use supplements to increase his HCl production instead. This leads me to my next point on how we make HCl.

Here’s how it’s formed. By the way, it takes more energy to make HCl in the body than any other chemical. Additionally, the mineral zinc is absolutely necessary to make it. Hydrochloric acid production is formed by the interaction of carbon dioxide and water, which is mediated by an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase, which is zinc-dependent. As a result, I always supplement zinc when I find a patient needs HCl, and then eventually wean them off the HCl. By the way, a generally accepted reliable indicator of the need for more zinc is white spots on the finger nails. I can’t find conclusive scientific evidence for this, however, I’ve had personal experience with it and also with my patients. Also, chloride is necessary, so don’t be overly afraid to consume sodium chloride (salt) unless it is necessary as determined by your doctor. I find more people need extra salt that not (for reasons beyond the scope of this articles.

One last thing, if HCl supplementation causes irritation to the stomach, or burning in the stomach, you can simply drink down a glass of water and baking soda in order to neutralize the acid right away. Again, I’ve only had it happen to one patient and he felt he didn’t even need the water and baking soda to relieve the discomfort as it was so mild. Warning: if you have been prescribed an acid-blocking medication, you should NOT take supplemental HCl before consulting with the physician who prescribed it. If you take over-the-counter acid-blockers, you should also consult a physician about your problem, as it may be more serious than you think. And remember, those medications were probably prescription-only before they went over-the-counter.

In my experience, digestive symptoms of any sort are quite prevalent. This includes but is not limited to bloating, gas, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation to name the most common. Why those symptoms exist in the first place is key to “fixing” them. And they are also usually the easiest to “fix”. But 90% of the time, the patient must alter their diet. Very often, HCl supplementation is one of the main solutions. But HCl is NOT always necessary. By the way, many, many, many chronic (or acute) low back pain tends to be the result of a dysfunctional digestive system and vice versa. Typically the back pain tends to be dull, achy, diffuse and worse in the morning. Hope this helps!

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

Some of this information came from Chris Astill-Smith, DO, DIBAK – and biochemist.

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According the Associated Press (AP), every single fish tested from nearly 300 streams in the US were found to be contaminated with the toxic metal mercury.  However, “only about a quarter had mercury levels exceeding what the Environmental Protection Agency says is safe for people eating average amounts of fish”.  The EPA states on their website that “a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children’s proper growth and development”.  And then go on to say the following “women and young children in particular should include fish or shellfish in their diets due to the many nutritional benefits”.  “For most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern.”  “Yet, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child’s developing nervous system.”  Finally they state the obvious – “The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish.”

Some more specifics of what the EPA has to say: “Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.  Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.  Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.  Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (“white”) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.  Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don’t consume any other fish during that week.”

Before I continue on the dangers of ingesting mercury, I want to mention how mercury winds up in fish to begin with.  Basically, it is from coal-burning power plants that emit smoke stacks of pollution.  These emissions obviously get into the air and then settle into the oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, and ground near this water.  Oh wait, I presume the mercury in that pollution must also get into our reservoirs, but I haven’t seen that mentioned.  Perhaps because people are focusing on fish, when it comes to mercury.  Anyhow, the legislation that was supposed to be implemented forcing companies to control those emissions has been disgustingly delayed.  About.com had an article stating this: “By law the Environmental Protection Agency is obligated to require power plants to cut roughly 90 percent of their emissions of mercury and other toxic pollution by 2008. Instead, in March 2005 the agency let polluters off the hook, requiring much smaller reductions and giving electric companies more than two decades to accomplish them. What’s more, the agency essentially allowed polluting companies to do nothing for the next 12 years.”  Please see the link as there are more facts about fish and not just the politics behind the pollution.

Mercury is known to be extremely toxic to the nervous system in particular.  The EPA states that mercury can cause harm to the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system in people of all ages.  For fetuses, infants, and children the major effect is impaired neurological development.  Lastly, the EPA says (and I can’t get over this one!): “In addition to the subtle impairments noted above (referring to the previous sentence), symptoms of methylmercury poisoning may include; impairment of the peripheral vision; disturbances in sensations (“pins and needles” feelings, usually in the hands, feet, and around the mouth); lack of coordination of movements; impairment of speech, hearing, walking; and muscle weakness. People concerned about their exposure to methylmercury should consult their physician.”  Bold type-face, underlining, and statement in parentheses added by me.

OK, now I’ll comment.  How does the EPA know what’s safe for you?  What symptoms must occur for certain amounts to be considered unsafe?  Also, I unfortunately can’t find information on how they determined safe levels, and of course, the state of the health of those people (presuming tests were done on humans?).  Please comment if you know.  But regardless, do they know the toxic burden (of all toxins) that already exists in you?  Do you know?  Remember, we ALL have some level of a toxic burden of chemicals and metals in us; from simply breathing the air, consuming conventionally grown foods, etc….the list is endless.  Do you have all the necessary nutrients to drive the kidney detoxification pathways?  We often think of the liver as the main detox organ, however, toxic metals are water-soluble and will be excreted through the kidneys into the urine.  As an aside, any time I find a patient’s most “stressed” organ(s) to be the kidneys or bladder, I think toxic metals first.

My points above are meant to reflect the concept that you probably won’t experience the above OVERT and OBVIOUS symptoms of mercury toxicity as reported by the EPA, by consuming fish alone.  That is from my personal experience with patients.  The problem arises when people have sub-clinical symptoms from mercury toxicity.  These might include fatigue, irritability, “foggy-headedness”, depression, anemia, hypothyroidism, digestive complaints, and more.  Sub-clinical mercury (or other toxic metal) toxicity often results in the scenario of: “Mr./Mrs. Smith, all of your tests came back normal”. Let me expand on this.  It will be extremely uncommon for a person to have mercury levels elevated in their blood.  To date, out of literally hundreds of patients of I’ve seen with mercury-related symptoms, or other toxic metals, ONLY 1 actually showed elevated levels on blood tests.  And this is how conventional doctors often go about checking for it.  The problem is often that the metals get lodged into the cell/soft tissues and don’t get fully released into the bloodstream.  When in the cells/soft tissues, they can cause impairments of normal functioning leading to the above symptoms.  Fortunately, there are functional lab tests (especially urine) that can be used to detect levels of metals in the soft tissues.  Even though urine is a reflection of blood, the test involves “provoking” the metals out of the cells to get an accurate measurement of total body burden in the soft tissues.

The amount of mercury-laden fish you can consume without harm or causing symptoms will depend on a variety of factors; mainly your current “toxic-burden” and detoxification abilities.  And as you know, your symptoms may already be stemming from mercury (or other toxic metal) exposure; so perhaps you shouldn’t consume any fish at all.  It would be prudent to have functional (in-office and lab) tests performed to find out!  Lastly, I have helped many patients with symptoms related to toxic metal exposure by correcting simple and easily identifiable nutrient deficiencies, and education on avoiding further exposure.

I still can’t understand why some practitioners in the dental community consider it OK to put mercury in their patients’ mouth!!!  By the way, there is a right way and a wrong way to have mercury amalgams removed.  It can be more harmful to have mercury fillings removed, when done “improperly”.  Feel free to e-mail me if you have concerns about that.

One more thing.  You may go “MAD” if you are exposed to too much mercury.  The phrase “mad as a hatter” comes from the hat-making industry dating back to the 1800’s when some hat-makers apparently went “mad” because of breathing mercury fumes from a solution they used to make fur into felt.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

I’ll never forget when a patient told me that as a child, her doctor had “diagnosed” her with a “nervous stomach”.  She had been struggling with digestive complaints since she was 6 or 7 years old.  The symptoms included abdominal pain, indigestion, bloating, and alternating constipation and diarrhea.  After many years, she decided she wanted a second opinion on what was wrong.  Good for her.  She consulted with another doctor over a decade later and that doctor stated (according to the patient) “you don’t have a nervous stomach, you have an irritable bowel”.  Phew, problem solved.  “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” was the new finding.  OK, now what?  (I honestly don’t know, because she moved out of town very shortly after she came to see me.)  OK, so what does a doctor (and patient) do now that the sun is shining on what the problem “really” is?

My point here is that changing the diagnosis from “nervous stomach” to “irritable bowel syndrome” (IBS) does very little to help.  Please don’t get me wrong, I am not against the use of diagnosing conditions.  It can be (and often is) quite necessary to name a condition.  For example: stroke, appendicitis, aneurysm, myocardial infarction (heart attack), pneumonia, Lyme disease, and many, many others.  That’s because they need emergency medical help or have specific necessary treatments at the onset.  The problem arises when we lump symptoms together and don’t attempt to figure out the process.  Why don’t we diagnose the process and NOT the symptoms.  Even by definition, medical physicians call IBS a “functional digestive disorder”.  So why not thoroughly evaluate their digestive function with what we know (and are even taught in medical textbooks) about digestion.  You’ll soon see that we will be much better off by thinking in those terms.  I’m not a big fan of the approach that says: let’s name it; then we can have a tailored treatment regimen or medication for it.  If you really want to name it, that’s fine, but it’s time to stop treating symptoms (and this goes for much more than IBS).

Before I go further, I’d like to make it cleat that I do NOT diagnose “irritable bowel syndrome”.  For one, I don’t find it of any help, and two, my license does not allow me to.  However, I find I’m better off that way.  Because I’m more concerned with the question of “Why?”, than “What?”.  The symptoms are a good guide, but you can’t stop there by simply throwing a name at them.  Especially in a condition like IBS, where very often the patients have similar symptoms with a different cause.

Again, I do NOT treat IBS, nor do I treat bowels, and I especially don’t treat irritable bowels!  I treat PEOPLE!  And people have debilitating symptoms that can be helped when you start with the questions: “Why are the symptoms there?”, and “How do we get rid of them?”.  That is: “What processes are malfunctioning, and how can we return them to balance in the most efficient way possible?”

Let’s move forward.  I won’t bore with the technical diagnostic criteria.  They are called the Rome III criteria, and can be found on the the foundation’s website by clicking here if you are interested.

OK, let’s talk about some of the symptoms of IBS to start off.  Essentially, they include abdominal pain, bloating and discomfort (not necessarily outright pain).  Additionally, some people have constipation, diarrhea, or alternate between the two.  These symptoms may subside for a few months, or they may worsen over time.

Researcher have not pinned down a specific cause for IBS.  Remember, a syndrome is simply a grouping together of objective signs and subjective symptoms.

Let’s move on to the conventional treatments.  By the way, some of the above information was derived from The National Digestive Disease Information Clearing House (NDDIC).  The NDDIC has this to say about treating IBS: “Medications are an important part of relieving symptoms. Your doctor may suggest fiber supplements or laxatives for constipation or medicines to decrease diarrhea, such as Lomotil or loperamide (Imodium). An antispasmodic is commonly prescribed, which helps to control colon muscle spasms and reduce abdominal pain. Antidepressants may relieve some symptoms. However, both antispasmodics and antidepressants can worsen constipation, so some doctors will also prescribe medications that relax muscles in the bladder and intestines, such as Donnapine and Librax. These medications contain a mild sedative, which can be habit forming, so they need to be used under the guidance of a physician.”

“A medication available specifically to treat IBS is alosetron hydrochloride (Lotronex). Lotronex has been reapproved with significant restrictions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for women with severe IBS who have not responded to conventional therapy and whose primary symptom is diarrhea. However, even in these patients, Lotronex should be used with great caution because it can have serious side effects such as severe constipation or decreased blood flow to the colon.”

“With any medication, even over-the-counter medications such as laxatives and fiber supplements, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. Some people report a worsening in abdominal bloating and gas from increased fiber intake, and laxatives can be habit forming if they are used too frequently.”

“Medications affect people differently, and no one medication or combination of medications will work for everyone with IBS. You will need to work with your doctor to find the best combination of medicine, diet, counseling, and support to control your symptoms.”

They also speak a lot about how changing one’s diet and stress management can have help relieve the symptoms, which I think is of prime importance.  Please see their site by clicking on the link above, if you are interested in more of what they have to say.

untitled-31OK, here is my approach with patients who complain of symptoms that are similar to IBS. Again, I do NOT treat IBS, I treat people.

First things first! I always start with a thorough history from the patient.  And from there, I will check all of the following.

1 – I’ll check for cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic, extremity, rib, cranial, and TMJ “misalignments”.  Remember, your nervous system function determines your involuntary functions (along with your endocrine/hormonal system).  If we can get the joints functioning and moving properly, we can help get the nervous system to function properly.

2 – Then I look to where digestion begins (in the mouth), by checking the pH (acid or alkalinity) of the saliva.  Digestion really begins when you think about and look at the food you are going to eat – let’s leave that aside.

3- I look to stomach function for an excessive or decreased (most common) amount of “stomach” (or hydrochloric) acid.

4 – Next, we move on to the small and large intestines (I don’t combine them, but for simplicity I will right now).  A problem in these organs typically results from lack of digestive enzymes (could really a pancreas or stomach problem), malabsorption; an overgrowth of yeast, fungus, mold, bacteria, viruses, pollens, parasites, and/or protozoa; chemicals (environmental, food additives, etc.) and toxic metals.  Keep in mind that any of the above can reside anywhere in the digestive tract.

5 – Food intolerances

6 – Eating habits

7 – Stress and/or emotional factors

8 – Additionally the liver, gallbladder, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, and other organs and glands can play a role – (anything can cause anything).  Typically I will assess these through the correlations between muscles and organs/glands, the acupuncture system, and laboratory analysis – i.e.: blood, urine, saliva, etc..

9 – Also, I’ll look to identify nutritional deficiencies related to the above issues.

I hope this helps to get you thinking!

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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