Question: I am 58 and have had a year or more of more serious colds and flu with complications like chest infections, other minor infections and inflammatory conditions more notable than previously in relation to RSI, foot injury etc. I have also had shingles for the first time. All of this has meant my exercise has been sporadic at best. I eat a healthy diet without gluten and refined flours and take a good range of supplements including low levels of natural hormones.
After a long period of working inside with computers a vitamin D test about 2 years ago revealed a quite serious deficiency and I was put on supplementation. A retest 12 months ago showed normal levels. I did not discuss suspending supplementation before the test but had done so briefly on a 'gut feeling'. I have continued Vitamin D supplementation since.
Could there be a connection between the ongoing vitamin D supplementation and what seems like increased inflammation and/or lowered immune system?
Answer: The active form of vitamin D is called 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D and there is no question that this form of the hormone, as vitamin D is actually a hormone, stimulates the immune system. However, when you take vitamin D, there is one hypothesis which states that this supplementary form of the hormone might actually be interfering with the action of 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, undermining its immune-stimulating function.
This same hypothesis states that bacteria are attempting to derail 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D in order to survive in our bodies, as this hormone is one of the major pillars of the immune system. One way to assess if this is happening is to have a blood test which measures 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D and the storage form of vitamin D called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Unfortunately this is not a test that is carried out by most doctors who only measure 25-hydroxyvitamin D and then make an assessment, usually concluding, possibly erroneously, that there is a deficiency, based on the lone measurement of this form of the hormone.
Once you have had both forms tested and you find that levels of 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D are unduly high while those of 25-hydroxyvitamin D are low this can support the notion that either bacteria or yeasts and fungi are interfering with the actions of 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D. The solution is not necessarily supplementation with vitamin D, which might raise 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, but might do little to activate 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, already present in excess. A more appropriate plan of action would be to target bacteria and fungi and reduce their inhibitory effects, which would then re-invigorate the immune-boosting capacity of 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D.
Question: I am a 58 year-old woman with stomach cancer. I have had an operation and my doctors are treating me with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I have seen a naturopath who has prescribed herbal remedies, which have helped with me swallowing, as well as vitamins and antioxidants. When I told my cancer specialist about this he said that all these therapies will interfere with my medical treatment and that I should stop taking them while I was receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Do you have any opinion on this?
Answer: The vast majority of evidence shows that vitamins, herbal treatments and antioxidants don’t actually interfere with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The studies show that those who have taken these do just as well, if not better, than those who don’t. One review has demonstrated that the use of antioxidants actually enhanced the effectiveness of standard therapies while diminishing adverse effects and protecting normal tissues. Patients who took supplemental antioxidants, and other supplemental nutrients, had improved survival. The authors of this review concluded: “None of the trials reported evidence of significant decreases in efficacy from antioxidant supplementation during chemotherapy.” Many studies showed that antioxidant supplementation was associated with “increased survival times, increased tumor responses, or both, as well as fewer toxicities than controls.”
Moreover those who take antioxidants, vitamins and herbal medicines have far less side-effects from conventional medical treatments and therefore are more able to complete their treatments. There is evidence that a combination of vitamins C, E and natural β-carotene at high doses has the power to eliminate cancer cells, whereas a low dose multivitamin supplement might actually help cancer cells to survive. Indeed, low doses of individual dietary antioxidants may also stimulate the proliferation of some cancer cells. Therefore, it is likely that recommendation of low doses of multiple vitamins containing low doses of micronutrients including antioxidants after therapy may increase the risk of recurrence of the primary tumor among those who are in remission.
Question: I have hormonal issues along with underactive thyroid, digestive issues (have just been treated for helicobacter) and extremely tired. I am working full time and have 3 adult children, still at home, so really need more energy and vitatily for them, as well as myself. I cannot even think of doing any exercise, as just too tired all the time. I have spent a lot of money and hours looking a remedies - herbs, vitamins and bio-identical hormones, oroxine and armour thyroid. Had a lot of tests done with doctors and other practioners saying they can help - but nothing has changed.
Answer: It is possible that the real underlying hormonal imbalances have not been identified. Often compromised adrenal function and diminished cortisol production needs to be addressed before other hormonal problems can be managed. Examining the four pillars of health outlined in 'You have the power' might help to make it easier to uncover what is going wrong with regard to your lack of energy.
Question: Your book ‘Eternal Health’ has had a positive impact on my quality of life & thanks! My girlfriend suffers the pains, weight gain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia, which I believe is heightened by her taking over 9 different drugs a day. Can you suggest any natural remedies that might help? Are any of your programs designed to help sufferers of fibromyalgia?
Answer: Fibromylagia and fatigue with associated weight gain can be so debilitating that it is not surprising that doctors have rushed to medicate your girlfriend. There is evidence that those who suffer from fibromyalgia have heightened pain sensitivity as well as the fact that descending inhibitory pathways from the brain aren’t able to blunt the pain response. This might have something to do with the neurotransmitter or brain chemical called serotonin, which is involved in mediating or reducing the experience of pain but has become dysfunctional, possibly due to biochemical activation of antagonistic pathways that are set in motion by an inflammatory process.
Inflammation is a state referring to an ongoing elevated immune sensitivity that has adverse effects on brain structure and function. Evidence from scanning shows that those who suffer from fatigue tend to have a degree of grey matter loss. What inflammation does is suppress the formation of new nerve cells and inhibit the establishment of connections that nerves have with each other. Aside from disturbing brain function which intensifies pain sensitivity inflammation might also be directly damaging to parts of the body which are associated with fibromyalgia pain.
Inflammation might also compromise the production and function of hormones leading to fatigue and this includes hormones such as thyroid hormones, cortisol, growth hormone and vitamin D.
The principal question then becomes: What triggers inflammation? Here a host of viruses, fungi and bacteria have been implicated including candida albicans, the herpes simplex and Epstein Barr viruses, helicobacter pylori found in the stomach and a number of others. There is some evidence that while targeting these organisms the immune system inadvertently homes in on the self, leading to what is known as an autoimmune process and diminished production of hormones.
There are a number of other factors that lead to inflammation including allergies to foods, the presence of heavy metals like aluminium, lead and mercury, raised levels of a substance called homocysteine, obesity itself and excess free radical stress.
Studies also show that fibromyalgia patients have low levels of zinc and magnesium. Iron and copper might be elevated or depressed. Raised iron and copper levels increase free radical levels.
There is scientific evidence that the following helps to manage fibromyalgia: applying cream containing 0.025% of the active capsicum constituent capsaicin 4 times daily to tender points for 4 weeks, malic acid with magnesium, 5-hydroxytrytophan which increases serotonin, balneotherapy with mineral baths, taking gamma-hydroxybutyrate orally, which seems to help reduce pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances as well as taking SAMe.
Aside from these remedies reducing inflammation, treating its underlying cause, optimizing hormone levels and immune system function and balancing mineral status, might lead to significant reductions in pain, without the need for so many medications and you would need to find a physician who is familiar with this approach, if you are going to help your girlfriend wean off her medications.
Question: My 69 year-old mother experienced breathing difficulties & heaviness in chest about 4wks ago. 2 wks ago she started experiencing extreme erratic blood pressure fluctuations. Doctors are not sure what's causing it. In a space of a month she cannot even go walking or stay by herself for long as when she gets sudden changes she gets dizzy, confused, foggy and feels very ill. She takes cholesterol medication, Cartia, magnesium, vitamin D, fish oil & now blood pressure medication but only 1/2 tablet at a time as it tends to drop it too suddenly. Do you have any suggestions as to what tests she can have to find out what is happening to her?
Answer: A part of the brain called the hypothalamus influences the cardiovascular system via chemical and nerve connections sending instructions to the heart, adrenals, kidneys, and vasculature and all these factors together with genetic influences determine blood pressure. Hormones such as vitamin D and thyroid hormones also influence blood pressure. Having the right nutrients is fundamental to the making of hormones. My suggestion is that you find a physician who is aware of all these factors and how to assess them. Evaluating cortisol production, which is mostly manufactured by the adrenals, but also in other parts of the body, can be done by means of saliva testing. In order to assess vitamin D status your mother would have to stop taking vitamin D and fish oil for at least a month and then have both vitamin D hormones measured including 25-OH vitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Question: I am a 56 year-old woman and wonder how you can fix- cure- or stop the pain of endometriosis. I haven’t had a period for 4mths but have bad pains around the time of my cycle. I have had my appendix out (at xmas 2010) and at that time they found the endometriosis, my appendix had ruptured and then got a very bad infection. Last night I ended back at emergency, with this very bad lower pain and they came up with endometriosis, and I’m sure they will treat it with estrogen and progesterone! Is this a good or not?
Answer: New research links leaking of potassium from the wall of the bladder with the pain you might be experiencing. Exactly how this can be treated is not exactly clear. In other words the pain you might be experiencing may not be caused by endometriosis. You would need to make your doctor aware of this research. Conventional treatment would look at hormonal treatment but there is a review which endorses the use of antioxidants to manage endometriosis, as this is viewed as a free radical driven disorder.
Question: I am a 39 year-old woman with an underactive thyroid and an ANA titre of 1280 suggesting lupus, which I have no real symptoms of? I also have a strep infection with results of anti-streptolysin-O of 420 and a anti-streptoccal DNase B of 160. I feel like nobody can give me an answer as to what’s going on and need a plan of action? My doctor told me to give up gluten, coffee, bread, alcohol and cigarettes and my naturopath suggested I take fish oil, vitamin C, B vitamins and vitamin D. What do you suggest?
Answer: It is possible that the strep bacteria is switching on your immune system and that this could lead to an attack on your thyroid as well. Treating the infection might resolve your problem and here antibiotics or natural remedies such as the herbs Echinacea and olive leaf might prove to be effective.
Question: I am a 54 year-old woman and have recently had a blood test & it came back with a high reading of 9.2 for the parathyroid and this week had a blood test for calcium level. I am going overseas in 4weeks. Is there anything I can do to ease the symptoms of been so tired and low energy levels. I have been to see you a number of years ago with great results and will be coming back to see you after I come back from holidays.
Answer: You might have a growth on your parathyroid glands which raises your calcium levels and this can lead to fatigue. You would need to have this assessed by your doctor.
Question: I have been diagnosed with menopause and oestrogen deficiency. I bought your book 'You Have The Power' and am trying to treat myself as I have not yet found a doctor who is progressive. I take CO Q10, antioxidants, hawthorne,magnesium and arginine. I want to try Triest and want to know what you suggest?
Answer: Triest is the combination of the three female hormones; oestrogen, oestrone and oestriol. Your body actually uses oestrogen to make the other two hormones suggesting that taking all three might not be necessary. In terms of treating menopausal symptoms like hot flushes and changes in mood, using hormones such as oestrogen have been found to be the most effective. I always warn women taking hormones in whatever form, about the risk of breast cancer, with these. Some advocate the use of progesterone with oestrogen, as progesterone protects against breast cancer, but my research indicates that this is not entirely true.
Question: I’ve started taking egg lecithin with meals to help with fat digestion – will this do the same job as bile salts? Also I’ve had hair analyses for over ten years now showing high levels of mercury. I used to have a lot of fillings and crowns with amalgam. I’ve since had these removed but still can’t get rid of the mercury out of my system. I’ve taken “Chelatox,” a natural product, which removes mercury, on and off – should I try it again or do you know of something else that would help detox the mercury?
Answer: Lecithin is part of bile and you can try this to help with digestion of fats. With regard to assessing your mercury status it might be helpful to find a physician who can do an intravenous DMPS challenge test to assess how much mercury is still in your system. DMPS chelates or binds mercury. If your body is still carrying a large mercury reserve then taking another substance called DMSA helps to remove mercury. As part of this treatment using intravenous vitamin C and glutathione can also help remove mercury from cells. The route of excretion produced by this technique is significant elimination via the colon and thus in the stool. However, there remains the potential problem of reabsorption of the mercury from the gut, after it has been dumped by the gall bladder. This may be prevented by taking oral Calcium EDTA and DMPS or chlorella and/or chitosan. High doses of selenium can also be used to reduce the toxicity of mercury remaining in the body.
Question: I am a woman in my seventies and have had pains in my legs for quite some while now, I had an ultrasound and it was found I had atherosclerotic disease within posterior tibial, artery anterior tibial arteries in particular, also a 50% to 75% stenosis. Is this a serious problem and is there any natural product that will clear it up? I suffer PTSD and have for a number of years. I am now getting help. Could this have caused the leg problem with all the stress I have had this is causing more worry. I do have a good diet with no junk food and I take a few vitamins.
Answer: The severity of the blockage to your blood vessels really depends more on how much this degree of documented obstruction actually incapacitates you, compromises your mobility and leads to discomfort. Chelation therapy, which is the use of substances purported to re-open your blood vessels and reduce the amount of blockage that inhibits blood flow, has been used by many doctors and there are many anecdotal reports that this is successful. However a rather scathing review, which you can read in detail at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2438277/?tool=pubmed, is extremely critical of these claims, suggesting that chelation therapy should not be used to treat blocked arteries.
Question: I am experiencing a most unpleasant wooshing noise in my ears at night and feel hypertensive when I lie down. I have no symptoms in the day and my BP is 125/76. What supplement helps with this, extra magnesium perhaps?
Answer: You might be describing a condition known as tinnitus. Scientific research is yet to uncover the cause of this and a range of disorders have been invoked as possible precipitating events. Hormonal imbalances, including over and under-active thyroid hormone production, raised insulin and blood sugar levels and temporomandibular joint dysfunction, are among the many plausible, but yet to be confirmed causes of tinnitus, outlined in a useful recent review, which you can find here n.b5z.net/i/u/10124624/f/Tinnitus_2011.pdf
Memozeal is a natural product, which contains a herb called vinca minor, that has some utility for managing tinnitus. Magnesium does have the potential to be brain protective and improve the patency of blood vessels and there is some research showing that it helps to reduce the middle ear damage associated with noise-induced hearing loss, but the evidence is limited for treating tinnitus.
Question: I don’t think I need HRT because I am through the unpleasant symptoms of menopause but I am committed to anti aging and looking my best. I have read that HRT protects against macular degeneration and memory loss so would you say HRT is essential for anti-ageing? I am proud of looking about 10 years younger than I am and have almost no wrinkles at all-but from what I read HRT prevents signs of ageing and that includes wrinkles. It’s not about vanity-I don’t feel old and I don’t want to look old before my time.
Answer: A recent clinical study, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2868389/?tool=pubmed, shows that hormone replacement might indeed be protective against macular degeneration.
A large-scale clinical study shows that taking vitamin B6 50 mg daily in combination with vitamin B12 1000 mcg and folic acid 2500 mcg, significantly reduces the risk of developing macular degeneration in women. Those who consume higher amounts of lutein, found in vegetables like spinach, have a reduced risk of developing macular degeneration. For those who already have macular degeneration taking vitamin E 400 IU orally, plus elemental zinc 80 mg, vitamin C 500 mg, and beta-carotene 15 mg daily, goes some way to halting the progression of this disorder. With regard to treating and slowing the progression of wrinkles and skin ageing, together with preserving memory, preventing dementia and heart disease, ‘You have the power,’covers these issues.
There are clinical trials which show that gingko biloba can help to improve circulation in those suffering from vascular disease. This herb is found in Memozeal.
There is some evidence that ongoing stress associated with raised levels of the hormone cortisol are connected with vascular disease.
Question: I have hoarseness in my voice. I have used antibiotics along with prednisolone, 5mg, but not cured, also use steaming with menthol crystals. I have no pain in my throat, only hoarseness. What would you suggest as an alternative treatment?
Answer: This is something that you have to get your doctor to assess, as there could be an anatomical or medical reason for your hoarseness. Reflux is a possibility as well, especially if this problem is long standing.
Question: I am 49 and was diagnosed with stage 3 high grade breast cancer in late 2009, had a double mastectomy, countless bouts of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and now take arimidex due to now having been in menopause 12 months. I also take inderal for migraines and a sinus tachycardia with no cause found and an occasional imigran. This semester at university I've been barely scraping a pass and my concentration, cognition and memory is not what it was. Firstly I am wondering if I'm experiencing a low grade depression rather than "chemo brain" and whether St Johns Wort would help? My main symptom is the cognition, slightly reduced pleasure in previously enjoyed activities, little interest in making the effort with people at work who aren't willing to make the effort and I’m more sensitive. I was also wondering if there any other natural therapies I could take to help brain function as I don't want any cognitive problems to spoil my much wanted and enjoyed job.
Answer: You could try St John’s Wort and see if it helps together with a brain boosting formulation like Memozeal. However it might be more advantageous to look at all those factors that affect brain function and emotional states including food allergies, nutritional deficiencies and here protein, essential fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron are important, hormonal imbalances investigating thyroid hormones and cortisol status, digestive capacity and liver detoxification function, as well as factors like inflammation, excessive free radical stresses and homocysteine. In other words it’s complicated, if you really want to get to the underlying causes of your problems, but worth it, once you find the kind of practitioner who knows how to investigate these issues.
Question: I would like some information on hiccups which my dad who is 62 yrs-old has more often.
Answer: Hiccups that are ongoing can be caused by reflux, as well as a heart or kidney condition, so it’s best you get your father’s doctor to do a thorough investigation of his cardiovascular system. I have found that hiccups can also be related to candidiasis or a yeast overgrowth indicating that if your father craves sugar and eats a lot of foods that contain yeast, going on a yeast and sugar-free diet would be beneficial.
Question: I have been diagnosed with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis and trigger finger. I have had injections. I have now been advised to have an operation for trigger finger and wrist pain is bad. I am not coping very well, as I have also been told to have a lower back operation, where I may not sit comfortably again. I cannot stand for more than a few minutes but have no pain sitting. I am 78 and alone and I cannot move comfortably from room to room.
Answer: Physiotherapy might help your wrist discomfort as well as your back problem. This sounds like an awful predicament as far as your back and movement are concerned. I once had a patient who was incapacitated with back pain and could hardly move. He took natural anti-inflammatories and pain relief medication in natural form and managed to recover.
Question: I've had my gallbladder removed and ever since have had difficulty digesting fats. I am concerned that my body is deficient in the fat soluble vitamins. Re vitamin D, I have a great deal of difficulty keeping my levels up. Do you recommend bile salts - if so where do I get them.
Answer: The gallbladder concentrates and makes bile much more effective. Although some physicians suggest that digestion is not compromised, as bile is still produced, in reality this is not the case and supplementation with bile salts would be useful. There are many sites and companies located on the web which provide bile salt products. Make sure you have a physician who knows how to assess vitamin D status by measuring the active form of vitamin D, which is 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D. Most doctors don’t measure this form of vitamin D.
Question: You have been recommended to me, as I have been looking for a holistic doctor who can assist my husband and I with aging issues. My husband has had an enlarged prostate for more than five years now and has had energy and libido problems for many years as well. He is 65 years-old, still working and very active, but falls asleep in front of the TV every night and certainly does not have any energy for me. (Mind you I fall asleep most nights as well and I am only 56). He has seen a specialist who did a biopsy quite a few years ago and it was inconclusive ( being very invasive and not a pleasant experience). He recommended keeping an eye on it and doing regular biopsies. Would really like him to try something holistically as I feel we do not really have to go through all this negative aging process if we find the right help.
Answer: Hormone imbalances can lead to prostate problems, as oestrogen levels rise, while those of testosterone diminish. Research on rats has found that elevated oestrogen and low testosterone can lead to inflammation of the prostate, similar to the inflammation found in men with prostatitis. It is also possible that the immune system, usually designed to defend the body, inadvertently attacks the prostate. The reason for this has yet to be defined. There are a host of events which could trigger the immune system to attack the self including food allergies, heavy metal toxins, stress, hormonal imbalance, nutrient deficiencies and the overgrowth of yeasts otherwise known as candidiasis. All of these would need to be investigated by a health practitioner. With regard to your husband’s vitality the same hormone and immune issues that are compromising his prostate might be limiting his energy and this would need medical evaluation.