Having just written a post about the adrenal-thyroid connection, I received a few questons about ways to support the adrenal glands. So today I’m going to give you 5 simple ways to support adrenal health. [Read more…]
Did you know that the common Strep bacteria can cause neurological issues in kids, including behavioral issues, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, vocal and motor tics, mood changes and more? This is due to an abnormal immune response to the bacteria, which provokes an auto-immune response. If your child had abrupt onset of aggressiveness, defiance, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or other behavioral symptoms like anxiety and depression, they might have developed this disorder known as PANDAS. PANDAS and it’s impact on behavior in kids is an area that is still being explored – but as awareness grows, more children are getting the help they need.
Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus Infection, or PANDAS, may develop in children creating a wide symptomatic picture. Criteria for PANDAS includes an abrupt onset of symptoms in children before puberty, with parents often being able to recall a specific time that their child’s behavior had begun to change.
Presence of significant obsessions, compulsions, and/or tics seemingly pop up out of nowhere, which is a major diagnostic criterion for PANDAS. Other symptoms include emotional lability, deterioration in academic performance, personality changes, bedtime fears, bedwetting, fidgeting, sensory defensiveness, irritability, impulsivity, and distraction.
Research is showing that this disease process is 3X more common in young boys than girls. Group A Beta Hemolytic Streptococcus is the main bacterial offender, and symptoms usually appear within 6 weeks of infection.
How Does Strep Infection Become Auto-immune?
The auto-immune response happens through a process of molecular mimicry. What that means is that the strep bacteria start to take on some of the properties of our own cells, and our immune system gets confused as to who is the good guy (our own tissues) and who is the bad guy (the bacteria).
Our immune system creates antibodies against the strep bacteria. One of the parts of the bacteria that is tagged by our immune system has resemblance to a component of our neuronal cell membranes. Therefore, our immune system, despite trying to do the right thing, starts seeing our neuronal cell membranes as problematic and attacking them too. And that’s how strep bacteria can produce neurological problems.
Why do some children develop PANDAS while others do not?
This is a multi-faceted question, but it is hypothesized that children are more vulnerable based on the integrity of their blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is one of our defense systems to keep harmful substances out of the brain. If it is weakened, then those antibodies that have been created can more easily penetrate and have access to the neuronal tissues that they can react against, and thus damage. Toxicity is one of the major factors that weakens the blood-brain barrier; inflammation is another. Gluten can increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier through increasing production of zonulin, a substance that makes the gut lining and the blood-brain barrier more leaky. You can read more about zonulin and the brain here.
If this sounds like your child, and you want to learn more about PANDAS including testing and treatment options, you might be interested in my new course, Five Infections That Can Cause Behavioral Issues in Children. Strep/PANDAS is one of the five covered, along with Candida, Clostridia, Borrelia (Lyme disease), and Bartonella.
I’ve written a couple of articles now about a patient of mine, Mrs R, and her story of recovery; in particular, her mindset around her recovery. Today I am happy to post another piece of her writing. It focusses on gratitude. More and more I am realizing that gratitude is the key to happiness. If we are grateful, no matter what the circumstances might be, it puts us in a place of contentment, openness and receptivity. I hope that this patient’s story of gratitude touches you and helps you to see the beauty and blessings in your own life. [Read more…]
I feel like thyroid problems get a lot of attention – many of us recognize the problems of low thyroid function, including fatigue, constipation, depression, weight gain, and dry skin and hair. Being that thyroid hormones are metabolic hormones, many of us women secretly hope for a thyroid problem, because it would explain these sneaking pounds we’ve accumulated; and subsequently we hope that thyroid treatment might help shed them away without too much extra effort on our part (oh wait, maybe that was just me.) We often don’t think about the adrenal-thyroid connection. [Read more…]
Candida overgrowth can be a significant barrier to weight loss. Candida is a naturally occurring yeast in the intestinal tract, and is vital for healthy digestion. However, when Candida overgrowth occurs, it can create problems, both with digestive function (gas, bloating etc) and more systemically with fatigue, headaches, brain fog and so on. Candida overgrowth can prevent weight loss, mostly through setting us up for eating and drinking too much of the wrong things.
In looking at the association between Candida and weight gain, the first thing we need to examine is the fuel source for yeast (and subsequently Candida). Yeast feeds off sugar – that is its preferred fuel source. Subsequently an individual with a hefty yeast overgrowth is going to crave sugars and carbs, as that is what the yeast is craving.
Part of the dilemma is that the sugar/ carb phenomenon is a catch-22. Yeast feeds off sugar, so a diet high in sugars and carbs will perpetuate Candida overgrowth; and yet Candida overgrowth will set of cravings for more sugars and carbs. See how this might be a hard cycle to break?
Furthermore, yeast will crave not only sugar, but more yeast. What is alcohol? Sugar and yeast. And a bunch of empty calories. I know many individuals who crave wine or beer – not because they have a drinking problem – but because they have a yeast overgrowth and they’re predisposed to that because of it. High yeast foods can be a trigger also – vinegars, mushrooms, breads to name just a few.
Anti-fungal treatment can often help curb cravings for sugars, carbs and alcohol, and these are three things that will be very helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. Also, treating yeast overgrowth can help reduce intestinal bloating which makes one more feel more rotund, even if it’s not true body fat. Addressing yeast overgrowth will also boost energy levels making exercise a more viable and appealing proposition.
Candida overgrowth also compromises proper absorption of nutrients. It is associated with “leaky gut”, which means the gap between the intestinal cells widens. This then leads to nutrients not being well absorbed, as well as larger-than-normal food molecules escaping into the blood stream triggering immune reactions and inflammation.
Addressing Candida overgrowth can be done through diet, although even the most rigid anti-Candida diets are rarely enough to eradicate the problem. The more balanced option is moderate dietary modifications, coupled with anti-fungal remedies, which can range from herbal medicines all the way through to strong prescription medicines. Many people find that once yeast overgrowth is addressed, cravings for sugars and carbs are reduced and weight loss is much easier.
Herbal teas are a great way to get water in without the caffeine of green and black tea, and they usually have medicinal properties that can be utilized for your health. There are many herbal teas for digestive health, that are beneficial whether you’ve just eaten too much dinner at your favorite restaurant, or if you have digestive ailments that need support. Here is a list of some of my favorites: [Read more…]
The skin is the largest organ of the body and is responsible for a significant amount of the body’s elimination processes (approximately one quarter each day). The skin and the lungs are often forgotten when we discuss detoxification, with the liver and kidneys receiving most of the attention. Granted, most medications clear through the liver and/or kidneys, however the skin, with its porous structure and vast surface area, should not be forgotten. Dry skin brushing is a great detoxification helper and can be done in just a few minutes a day at home. [Read more…]
For a lot of people, meat is a key part of their daily dinner menu that they just won’t give up. Interestingly enough, the USDA recently found that beef and pork consumption in the U.S. has decreased over the past decade. However, the U.S. is still among the countries with the highest rate of meat consumption in the world. I don’t think that meat is inherently bad at all. But with meat being such a prominent part of our diet, it is important to keep your health and well-being in mind while planning your meals. Here are a few tips for making smarter choices when eating meat. [Read more…]
Oil pulling in an ancient Ayurvedic ritual that serves to help detoxify the teeth and gums, leading to improvements in overall health. There is quite a close relationship between one’s oral health and one’s overall health, so detoxifying the mouth can make a real positive impact on wellbeing. In other words, the benefits of oil pulling are not limited to the mouth!
Oil pulling involves swishing oil around the mouth, and between the teeth, finally spitting out the oil (never swallowing it). Safflower and sunflower oils have been used in the past; nowadays olive oil and coconut oil seem to be more popular. I suggest using coconut oil as it has medium chain triglycerides which can inhibit Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria that causes cavities. It can also help prevent thrush, which is an overgrowth of Candida albicans in the mouth. You would want to choose an organic, unrefined coconut oil such as Spectrum brand. [Read more…]
Last week I wrote about my perspective on recovery from Lyme disease and some of the dynamics of that. If you missed it you can read it here. A few days later, I was at my office and a couple I have been treating for some time came in for an appointment. The wife, Mrs R, is in remission; her husband Mr. R is on his way but not quite there yet. They read my post and it sparked a conversation between us, and I asked her to write a couple of paragraphs for me because I just love her story, her outlook and her spirit. She has truly used Lyme disease as a tool of empowerment. She has worked really, really hard in her recovery, and has been rewarded with not only remission, but a higher level of health than she started with because of the changes that she made along the way in order to get well. So here is “Recovery From Lyme: a Patient Story.” [Read more…]