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When Things Are Falling Down

November 19, 2015

Tags: order, herbs, movement, water, abdomen, aging, amalaki, antibiotic, antibiotic resistance, anus, ayurvedic, bacteria, balance, bastard myrobalan, bathroom, bibhitaki, bladder infection, bladder wall, birthing, bloating, bowel movement, child birth, comfort, complications, constipation, corn silk, cramps, cranberry, curse, diarrhea, death, diabetes, discomfort, Emblica officinalis, essential oil, eye, fatigue, female affliction, fluids, gastro-intestinal tract, germ, haritaki, India, Indian gooseberry infection, intercourse, internal organs, invasive procedure, Kegel exercises, kidney infection, medical advance, mesh, microbiome, olive oil outcome, pelvic muscles, perineum, pessary, plumbing, preventing falls, private parts, probiotic, prolapse, prophylaxis, rosemary, sepsis, sexual muscles, standing on one leg, surgery, susceptibility to infections, Terminalia bellirica, Terminalia chebula, thyme, toilet, triphala, urinary tract infection - recurrent, usnea, UTI, uva ursi, vulva, water - running, sanitation, side-effects, vagina, vaginal probiotics, washing hands, weight gain, When Things Are Falling Down, wiping, World Toilet Day, worst case scenario, yellow myrobalan

Today is World Toilet Day, and most writers today will talk about the importance of hygiene – which is indeed more valuable than all the other medical advances combined, in my opinion. Every person in the world deserves running water and good plumbing, and so many don’t have it: 2.4 billion people worldwide lack access to decent sanitation!

But the things I am want to talk about are internal organs, and when they fall, or droop, physicians call it prolapse. It is, of course, a female affliction (curse?). Often it results from child births (and I wonder if modern medicine that wants to speed up the birthing process, has given us more prolapses – we never will be seeing a study about this, I fear). Prolapse can be uncomfortable when you walk, and even hurt outright. But the worst part is that they might cause recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). There’s the connection to toilets, when you are running to the bathroom twenty times a day, and the whole middle of your being hurts like hell.

Recurrent UTIs are dangerous because a simple bladder infection can rise into the kidneys and eventually even leading to sepsis (an infection of the whole body), and at its worst, death. And death doesn’t seem to be the worst outcome: The many courses of antibiotics – often the doctor tells the patient that they have to be on antibiotics for the rest of their lives to prevent the worst case scenario – damage the precious bacteria in the intestines, and lead to all sorts of complications: weight gain, susceptibility to other infections, fatigue, bloating, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, and so on. The last few years has brought us so many studies about the microbiome (the beneficial bacteria in our bowels) that it is hard to exaggerate its importance to your health. And every course of antibiotics will damage that healthy balance in your belly. - Hear that I am not altogether against antibiotics; they have saved lives (mine, for instance). But they can have grave side-effects, notably now antibiotic resistance.

Conventional medicine recommends, besides Kegel exercises, surgery. Particularly, the insertion a special mesh down there to keep organs up, has not been very successful; women are suing the manufacturer in droves, and the mesh has been abandoned. But since every surgery carries a risk of infection and death with it – and repairing prolapse might make symptoms worse – surgery should be your last resort. You could also insert a pessary into your vagina to provide structural support. It works for some women.

Here are the natural alternatives to invasive procedures; combined – can make a huge difference in the discomfort or comfort you feel in your most private area:

1. Standing on one leg whenever you think of it – while brushing your teeth, waiting for the bus, chopping an onion. This will strengthen your pelvic (and sexual) muscles – and is not as boring as Kegel exercises. It is also good exercise for your legs and good for balance – very important to prevent falls when you get older.
2. Inserting vaginal probiotics every evening into your vagina.
3. Oral probiotics. They heal your bowels after a course of antibiotics, and have shown to decrease the number of recurrent urinary tract infections prophylactically.
4. Washing your hands after each bowel movement religiously and then pampering your private parts (wipe from the front to the back - vulva to perineum to anus; never the other direction!) with a mixture of olive oil and a few drops of an essential oil like rosemary or thyme; they are antibacterial. Make sure you always wash your hands and use essential oil before you, for instance, insert the nightly vaginal probiotic capsule. It is tiny, and no, it won’t interfere with intercourse.
5. Taking triphala, the ayurvedic herb, which will prevent constipation. Naturally, if your problem is diarrhea, don’t take triphala on top of it. Triphala is an ancient combination of three Indian herbs: Amalaki or Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki or bastard myrobalan (Terminalia bellirica), and Haritaki or yellow myrobalan (Terminalia chebula). Triphala is actually a balm for the gastro-intestinal tract, and is also good for your eyes. Besides it works against diabetes.
6. Take a zinc supplement to boost your immune system.
7. Prophylaxis with cranberry, uva ursi, usnea, corn silk, and so on, if needed every day. Especially after sex. Cranberry prevents bacteria to latch onto your bladder wall, so they are flushed out easier.

Women and their doctors often think that prolapse is an inevitable part of aging. It shouldn’t be! - Happy Toilet Day!

Today is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day!

September 13, 2012

Tags: food, order, Today is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day!, book, wheat, diabetes type II, diabetes type I, gluten intolerance, blindness, kidney failure, amputations, neurological damage, brittle diabetes, hospital, diabetes, end-organ failure, gym, garden, cello, a walking after dinner, exercises, writing a book, fresh food, fish, meat, dairy, sugar, sweetener, trans-fats, processed food, gluten, daily bread, evolution, genes, monotheism, hunter and gatherer, eating nibbling, Nature, holy, cattle, sheep, husbandry, religion, rules, timetables, schedules, Kellogg – Will Keith (1860-1951), breakfast, cornflakes, industrialization, prosperity, scarcity of food, adaptation, calories, burger, obesity, celiac disease, diarrhea, skin rash, bloating, neurologic, psychiatric, symptoms – gluten-related, gluten intolerance, under-diagnosed, lectins, Fertile Crescent, Mesopotamia, seeds, digestion, arthritis, depression, heart disease, cancer, celiac, wisdom of the body, toxicity of wheat, morphine-like substances, brain, longing, cocaine, heroin, agriculture, extinction, monotheism, guilt, over-hunting, ice-age, bison, elephant, deer, cow, gruel, ploughing, farming, corn, sugar, addiction, starvation, bread, pizza, cake, cookie, muffins, vegetables, addictive food, wheat kernel, harvest, milling, minerals, flour - white, diseases, vitamins, iron, flour - “fortified”, root vegetable, celiac, rye, barley, oats, dinkel, kamut, grains, hulls, waste, starch, bread - sprouted, gluten, sprouting, degenerative diseases, wheat, dairy, sugar, trans-fats, redemption, plant food, vegetables, herbs, fruit, beans, nuts, fish, rabbit

Not that I should luxuriate in writing blogs while I am finishing my diabetes book, but to call attention to the problems with wheat – on this occasion I just have to do it.

Since this is my big theme presently, let me roll up the whole gluten conundrum from the diabetic side: Ninety percent of people with diabetes type II are overweight; ten percent are not. Now – what gives the ten percent their diabetes?

Genes, of course. But genes account only for part of the puzzle. Most slim diabetics have either type I diabetes (which I will not discuss here), or they have gluten intolerance. Disclosure: I am one of those ten percent, and while I don’t yet have full-blown diabetes with all the dismal consequences down the road like blindness, kidney failure, amputations, neurological damage, my number always hover at the upper border of normal or the low border of diabetes. For somebody who has brittle diabetes and ends in the hospital frequently, this seems a good place to be, and sure it is. BUT: By the time people are diagnosed with diabetes, a good third already shows sign of end-organ failure. Which means: They really already have advanced disease. I don’t want to wait doing nothing and closing my eyes.

So, what do I do? I move, for starters. I don’t go to the gym, but I work in the garden, play my cello, go for a walk after dinner with my husband, and do tiny exercises every time I get up from my chair during my long writing sessions (aaah – writing a book about health is not such a healthy thing, after all).

And I eat healthily. Fresh vegetables, fresh herbs, some fish, much less meat (but meat I do eat – and recommend), no dairy, no sugar, no sweeteners either, no trans-fats, and basically, nothing processed.

But back to gluten. We pray for our daily bread – and are not aware how recent the “daily bread” was invented – not longer than five to ten thousand years. Which is nothing in terms of evolution and our genes. Actually, our “daily bread” is around not much longer than monotheism – the belief in a single, singular god. I find that interesting: When we were hunter and gatherers, eating and nibbling and plucking from Nature wherever we went, we had multiple gods – the ones that were hidden in the groves, in the deep lakes, in the skies – and everything was whispering to us: Holy, holy, holy.

Then agriculture was invented with cattle and sheep husbandry, and we learned to sow and to reap, and suddenly there was that one stern god over us, telling to adhere to his rules – one obviously needs rules and timetables and schedules and order to be a farmer.

Forward a few thousand years to Mr. Kellogg, who gave us our breakfast cornflakes, and modern scientists who gave as bigger kernels of wheat, and then all the abundance that came with industrialization and prosperity – and here comes the modern American wave of obesity and diabetes. Where for millions of years always was scarcity – and that is what our bodies were adapted to for millions of years – now we can get the whopping calories of a burger for one dollar. Without to move out into the woods and hunt and gather.

If gluten is at the root of those ten percent of slim diabetics – so what! you exclaim, because you are fighting the pounds for most of your life. Gluten makes a few of us very sick – with celiac disease. Gluten makes a lot of us fat, with sickness down the road from the excess pounds.

Celiacs have no immune tolerance for gluten; they might get diarrhea, skin rashes, bloating, and all kinds of weird symptoms – including neurologic and psychiatric. Half of the symptoms are not showing in the belly, which is one reason gluten intolerance is still one of the widely under-diagnosed disease – even that the last ten years has turned the tide a bit.

The funny thing is: Wheat does not want to be eaten. Like basically all nuts and seeds, the wheat grain contains a family of compounds called lectins that are there to protect the grain from being eaten. The wheat plant has no interest, so to speak, to be gobbled up and extinguished. On the other hand, from the wheat’s point of view, of course, it is extremely advantageous that farmers everywhere now growing this seed that originally had a very narrow distribution, namely the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia. Somehow we managed to spread it more or less worldwide – or did the plant entice us to do its business?

Not sure. But nuts and seeds contain lectins that hinder digestion and make people sick with arthritis, depression, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and so on – the celiac who runs to the bathroom ten times a day is only the tip of the iceberg. And it shows the wisdom of our bodies: To get rid as fast as possible of a toxic substance.

Wheat is addictive – it contains morphine-like substances that play with your brain and your longings just as cocaine and heroin do. I always picture how the first farmers, sitting placidly and satisfied in their hovels, invited the last hunters who came in from another fruitless hunt for something to eat (the rise of agriculture happened parallel to the extinction from overhunting the very large ice-age mammals – they had bison the size of elephants, and deer like cows at that time. The rise of monotheism happened at the same time … did we feel guilty for the overhunting??). The hunters got their bowl of gruels or their flat breads; it must have seemed heaven to them. As they never got enough of it, they came back for more and more, until they one day decided to plough a piece of land, and settle down as farmers themselves.

So, if you want to get healthy and/or slim, you first have to break the wheat (and corn! And sugar! But those are other topics …) addiction. You don’t die of starvation, if you leave out bread and pizza and cakes and cookies and muffins. You just get healthier. The food to eat: Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. And some brown rice, as rice does not seem so addictive as wheat. It just doesn’t taste so yummy, yummy that you want more and more of it.

In all of this, I haven’t even talked about what they do nowadays once the too-big, overinflated-by-starch wheat kernel is harvested: They mill it and grind it and take the good stuff out, namely the coarse outer layers that contains vitamins and ls . The make white flour from naturally brown flour, and because it is known that white flour contains nothing healthy and leads to deficiency diseases down the road, the “fortify” the flour with vitamins and iron.

Believe me, nothing is as well “fortified” as the original grain. I mean the really “original” grain which we cannot retrieve anymore because the first grains were so puny – not much more then a few hard nibs in your mouth while you were searching for the really belly-filling rabbit or root. If you want to do wheat at all (and if you are a celiac, you can’t have it ever again! Also not rye and barley; perhaps not even oats), at least stick to dinkel and kamut, some of the older grains. Not as old to go back to the dawn of times, but going back a few thousand years, to the first cultured strains. They contain more hulls and “waste”, less gluten and starch. You also can try sprouted breads where most of the gluten has been used up in the process of sprouting.

Our modern degenerative diseases have to do with mostly four culprits: Wheat, dairy, sugar, trans-fats. Our redemption lies in the plant world: vegetables, herbs, fruit. A few beans, a few nuts. Some fish. And occasionally … a rabbit.

Herb Of The Year 2011: Horseradish

May 7, 2011

Tags: herbs, food, antibacterial, apples, Armoracia rusticana, asparagus - white, Belgian endive, boiled beef, bones - strong, breakfast, bronchitis, calcium, Chinese rice soup, chives, comfort, condiment, congee, dandelion, death, decoration, diarrhea, digestive, dinner, disorientation, enzyme, fever, frosts, garden, garden pest, gastro-intestinal irritation, Germany, ginger, grape leaves, green tea, harvest, healing purposes, Herb Day, herbal tea, Herb Of The Year 2011 - Horseradish, herbs - cleansing spring, hors d’oeuvres, horseradish, horseradish root, horseradish as poison, horseradish peroxidase, hot bath, International Herb Association, International Herb Day 2011, invigorating, Japanese tea - ground, lunch, macha, magnesium, mint, Natural Medicine, nausea, neighborhood, neurobiology, olives - chopped, olive paste, overdosing on fresh horseradish, phosphorus, potassium, potatoes - mashed, potluck party, pungent, resveratrol, rice crackers, rice vinegar, robustness, sauerkraut, sesame - black, sinusitis, spring, stinging nettle, sweating, taste, taste buds, toxic compounds, urinary tract infection, volatile oils, vomiting, weakness, weed, wild garlic

This should be the International Herb Day 2011 – but it seems several organizations compete with their dates.

So, I am making it my own Herb Day. I started the day with an herbal tea from stinging nettle, dandelions, ginger, chives, mints, and a dash of green ground Japanese tea called macha - to open my eyes.

My breakfast consisted of – you know my routine by now - congee (Chinese rice soup from brown rice) with sauerkraut and pickled grape leaves. They are my own harvest from last year, just cooked in rice vinegar and frozen, high in resveratrol, and a real pest in the garden! What is more delightful to find a way to turn an annoying weed into a delicious food!

For lunch I had olive paste on black sesame rice crackers.

For dinner I am invited to a neighborhood potluck party, and I will bring hors d’oeuvres: Olive paste (can be substituted with chopped olives, on Belgian endive and/or apples slices, topped with leftover pieces of white asparagus and chives from the garden.

The uses for herbs are unlimited: as condiment, as decoration, for healing purposes, for taste in food and comfort in a hot bath. This year, the International Herb Association made horseradish the herb of 2011 – don’t try it in your bath, though!

Horseradish root, grated has the familiar pungent taste which goes well with bland fish or bland meats – in Germany we use it with boiled beef, which is a boring a dish as one can imagine. With horseradish, it suddenly is exciting for the taste buds. Serve it fresh mashed potatoes, made from scratch.

What makes Armoracia rusticana, as it is known in Latin, so pungent are its volatile oils. They also give it its healing properties: antibacterial, digestive. It certainly gives your sinuses a good blow-out. It is also used in urinary tract infections and bronchitis, and promotes sweating in a fever, which can be beneficial. And in Natural Medicine we view it – together with stinging nettle, dandelion, chives, wild garlic, and others – as one of the essential cleansing spring herbs.

Horseradish also contains potassium, and an interesting enzyme – horseradish peroxidase, now used widely in neurobiology. Magnesium, calcium, phosphorus are building strong bones. That does not mean you should gorge on it – a little goes a long way; too much would be a poison. Overdosing on fresh horseradish (cooking destroys the toxic compounds) shows in gastro-intestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, sweating, and disorientation, and possible death.

Before I knew that it would become famous this year, namely in the winter, I planted a horseradish root in a pot. For months, it did nothing, as eagerly as I observed the phallic thing for signs of life. Then, after I had put it outside when there were still frosts expected, I noticed it had developed side-shoots. And as soon as the rain stops today I will plant it in a bigger container. It would be unwise to plant it in the garden as it is a tough customer and prone to spreading robustly. – Perhaps that was one of the reasons our forefathers recognized it as one of those invigorating plants with which we might fight dwindling health.

Nobody Wants To Talk About Poop

October 23, 2010

Tags: food, cat, bloating, bowel, constipation, corn, cramps, defecation, diarrhea, diet, digestion, dry food, feces, heartburn, intestines, laxative, litter box, nutrition, pet food, pets, poop, Nobody Wants To Talk About Poop, probiotic, SAD (Standard American Diet), sores – mouth, stomach pain, stool – smell, stool - consistency, toilet, waste products, wheat

When we come back from traveling, our cat’s litter box usually is a mess.

Sorry, I bring up this stinky subject – but it has relevance not only for cats and pets, but also for humans.

Of course, bodily waste products don’t smell like roses. But they also should not smell THAT disgustingly. If they do – in pets and people – chances are something is wrong with the digestive tract.

Now the hardest part is to compare your bowel movements with everybody else’s because we usually are discrete about our defecation results. We don’t know how other people smell or look … in the toilet bowl.

Feces definitely should not reek that it turns one’s stomach. The smell should make you want to flush the toilet – not to run away. And stool should not float, nor should it be excessively sticky, large, or gray-colored.

So, what had happens with our tomcat Otto when we travel? A kind neighbor comes over to feed him. To make it not too complicated for her, we switch to commercial – mostly dry – food. Commercial food contains all kinds of substances unhealthy for a cat, especially wheat and corn products. Predictably, every time our Otto gets extremely stinky on that kind of nutrition.

It takes only a few days and my self-cooked meals that his litter box s ias unobtrusive again as it usually is: His intestines heal, obviously.

What constitutes a healthy bowel? Once a day, at least, one should have a bowel movement. If you don’t have one every day, don’t reach for the laxative. Look instead into what you are eating. Do you eat enough vegetables? Leave out sugar, trans-fats and dairy. And don’t eat what your body tells you hurts it: Stomach pain, heartburn, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, sores in your mouth – they are not cause for embarrassment but they all are signs that something is wrong with your digestion.

SAD – the Standard American Diet – is not healthy for people’s bowels. And commercial pet food – even the so-called “natural” and “scientific” - are not healthy for your pets’.

P.S. Taking a probiotic does not make up for a lousy diet, but helps reestablishing bowel health.

Gluten-Related Symptoms and Diseases

September 24, 2010

Tags: order, abdominal pain, acanthosis nigricans, Addison’s disease, ADHD, alcoholism, alkaline phosphatase (bone) elevated, allergic rhinitis, alopecia areata (patchy hair loss), amenorrhea (absence of menstrual period), anemia, anemia – iron deficiency, anemia – refractory, anemia - vitamin B12 deficiency, anti-endomysium antibodies (EMA), anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA), anti-tissue-transglutaminase antibodies (tTG), antiphospholipid syndrome (frequent miscarriages and other problems), anxiety, aortic vasculitis, apathy, aphthous ulcers, appetite – poor, arthritis, arthritis – enteropathic, arthritis - juvenile idiopathic, asthma, ataxia, ataxia - progressive myoclonic, atherosclerosis, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), autism, learning disorders, autoimmune cholangitis, autoimmune diseases, autoimmune hepatitis, autoimmune thyroid disease, balding – premature, bipolar disorder, Bitot’s spots (foamy patches on whites of eye), bleeding – unexplained, blepharitis, bloating, blurred vision, bone fracture, bone pain, brain atrophy, brain fog, bronchiectasis, cachexia (general wasting), calcium – low, cancer - small cell of the esophagus, cancer (adenocarcinoma) of the small intestine, cancer of the esophagus, cancer of the pharynx, Candida infections – recurrent, cardiomegaly, casein intolerance, cataracts, cerebral perfusion abnormalities, cheilosis (cracked lips and corners of mouth), cholesterol – low, chorea, chronic bullous dermatosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, common variable immunodeficiency, complications during pregnancy – labor - delivery and post-partum period, congenital anomalies, constipation, copper deficiency, coronary artery disease, cortical calcifying angiomatosis, cow mill “allergy”, cutaneous vasculitis, cutis laxa, cystic fibrosis, dairy intolerance, delusions, dementia, depression, dermatitis herpetiformis, dermatomyositis, diabetes Type I, diabetes Type II, diarrhea, disorientation, Down syndrome, dry eyes, duodenal ulcers, dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods), dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse), dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), early menopause, easy bruising, ecchymosis, eczema, edema, Enteropathy Associated T-cell Lymphoma (EATL), epilepsy, erythema nodosum, esophageal motor abnormalities, eyes – dry, eyes – bloodshot, erythema elevatum diutinum, failure to thrive, fatigue, fatty liver, folic acid (folate) deficiency, food allergies - blood-mediated and cell mediated, food cravings, gall bladder – impaired motility, gas, gastric emptying – delayed, gastritis, GERD - Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease, glucose abnormalities - too low or too high, gluten, Gluten-Related Symptoms and Diseases, Grave’s Disease, growth retardation, gums – bleeding and swollen, hair loss, hallucination, headache, heartburn, heart disease, hemochromatosis, hemosiderosis - idiopathic pulmonary, hepatic granulomatous disease, high blood pressure, homocysteine elevated, hyperactivity, hyperkeratosis – follicular, hyperparathyroidism, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, hypocalciuria, hypogonadism, hypoparathyroidism, hyposplenism (atrophy of spleen), hypothyroidism, hypotonia, ichthyosis – acquired, pulmonary hemosiderosis – idiopathic, IgA deficiency, IgA nephropathy, impotence, inability to concentrate, infertility, insomnia, intrauterine growth retardation, iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy – severe, irritable bowel syndrome, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, keratomalacia, kidney stones, lactose intolerance, lassitude, late menarche (late start of menstrual periods), leaky gut syndrome, liver enzymes elevated, loss of memory, lymphadenopathy, lymphoma - B-cell non-Hodgkin’s, lymphoma - cryptic intestinal T-cell (refractory sprue), lymphoma – non-Hodgkin, macroamylasemia, macrocytosis (red blood cells larger than normal), macrolipasemia, magnesium - low, malabsorption, melanoma, memory loss, migraine, miscarriage, monoarthritis – recurrent, multiple sclerosis (MS) – a possible link, muscle pain and tenderness, muscle spasms and cramps, muscle wasting, muscle weakness, nail problems, nausea, nervousness, neuropathy – peripheral, neutropenia (low white blood cells), nightblindness, nosebleeds – unexplained, obesity, occult blood in stool, ocular myopathy, osteitis fibrosa, osteomalacia, osteomalacic myopathy, osteonecrosis, osteopenia, osteoporosis, pancreatic insufficiency (poor digestion), panic attacks, parathyroid carcinoma, penicilllin V impaired absorption, phosphorus – low, pityriasis rubra pilaris, plasma proteins low, Plummer-Vinson Syndrome, PMS, pneumococcal septicemia, pneumonia – recurrent, polyglandular syndrome, polymyositis, potassium - low, premenstrual syndrome, primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, prolactinemia, prothrombin time prolonged, prothrombinemia, prurigo nodularis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, puberty – delayed, purpura – idiopathic thrombocytopenic, rhabdomyolysis – hypokalemic, rheumatoid arthritis, rickets, sarcoidosis, Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders, scleroderma, seborrhea, short stature, Sjögren’s syndrome, skin rash – itchy, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, smell - loss of, sperm abnormalities, spina bifida, sprue – refractory (see: gluten), steatorrhea (pale, malodorous, floating, hard-to-flush stools), stomach ulcer, stroke – premature, sugar intolerance, swelling, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), taste - loss of, tetany, thrombocytopenic purpura – idiopathic, thyroid disease - juvenile autoimmune, tongue – red and/or burning, tremors, tuberculosis - increased susceptibility to, Turner’s syndrome, urinary tract infections – recurrent, urticaria - chronic hives, uveitis, vaginitis, vasculitis, vasculitis of the CNS (Central Nervous System), vitiligo, volvulus (twisted intestines), vomiting, weight gain – unexplained, weight loss – unexplained, xerophthalmia (dry eyes), zinc – low

Nearly one in one hundred people have gluten intolerance (gluten enteropathy, sprue, celiac sprue). In only fifty percent of them does the disease show with gastro-intestinal symptoms - the rest has non-intestinal symptoms.

Be aware that many of these symptoms can also have other causes - this list does not replace a doctor who sees you!

• Abdominal pain
• Acanthosis nigricans
• Addison’s disease
• Alcoholism
• Alkaline phosphatase (bone) elevated
• Allergic rhinitis
• Alopecia areata (patchy hair loss)
• Amenorrhea (absence of menstrual period)
• Anemia
• Anemia – iron deficiency
• Anemia - refractory
• Anemia - vitamin B12 deficiency
• Anti-endomysium antibodies (EMA)
• Anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA)
• Anti-tissue-transglutaminase antibodies (tTG)
• Antiphospholipid syndrome (frequent miscarriages and other problems)
• Anxiety
• Aortic vasculitis
• Apathy
• Aphthous ulcers (mouth sores)
• Appetite – poor
• Arthritis
• Arthritis – enteropathic
• Arthritis - juvenile idiopathic
• Asthma
• Ataxia
• Ataxia, progressive myoclonic
• Atherosclerosis
• Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
• Autism, learning disorders
• Autoimmune cholangitis
• Autoimmune diseases
• Autoimmune hepatitis
• Autoimmune thyroid disease
• Balding – premature
• Bipolar disorder
• Bitot’s spots (foamy patches on whites of eye)
• Bleeding – unexplained
• Blepharitis
• Bloating
• Blurred vision
• Bone fracture
• Bone pain
• Brain atrophy
• Brain fog
• Bronchiectasis
• Cachexia (general wasting)
• Calcium – low
• Cancer - small cell of the esophagus
• Cancer (adenocarcinoma) of the small intestine
• Cancer of the esophagus
• Cancer of the pharynx
• Candida infections – recurrent
• Cardiomegaly
• Casein intolerance (cow mill “allergy”)
• Cataracts
• Cerebral perfusion abnormalities
• Cheilosis (cracked lips and corners of mouth)
• Cholesterol - low
• Chorea
• Chronic bullous dermatosis
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Colitis
• Common variable immunodeficiency
• Complications during pregnancy, labor, delivery and post-partum period
• Congenital anomalies
• Constipation
• Copper deficiency
• Coronary artery disease
• Cortical calcifying angiomatosis
• Cow mill “allergy”
• Cutaneous vasculitis
• Cutis laxa
• Cystic fibrosis
• Dairy intolerance
• Delusions
• Dementia
• Depression
• Dermatitis herpetiformis
• Dermatomyositis
• Diabetes Type I
• Diabetes Type II
• Diarrhea
• Disorientation
• Down syndrome
• Dry eyes
• Duodenal ulcers
• Dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods)
• Dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse)
• Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
• Early menopause
• Easy bruising
• Ecchymosis
• Eczema
• Edema
• Enteropathy Associated T-cell Lymphoma (EATL)
• Epilepsy
• Erythema nodosum
• Esophageal motor abnormalities
• Eyes – dry
• Eyes - bloodshot
• Erythema elevatum diutinum
• Failure to thrive
• Fatigue
• Fatty liver
• Folic acid (folate) deficiency
• Food allergies - blood-mediated and cell mediated
• Food cravings
• Gall bladder – impaired motility
• Gas
• Gastric emptying – delayed
• Gastritis
• GERD - Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease
• Glucose abnormalities - too low or too high
• Grave’s Disease
• Growth retardation
• Gums – bleeding and swollen
• Hair loss
• Hallucination
• Headache
• Heartburn
• Heart disease
• Hemochromatosis
• Hemosiderosis - idiopathic pulmonary
• Hepatic granulomatous disease
• High blood pressure
• Homocysteine elevated
• Hyperactivity
• Hyperkeratosis - follicular
• Hyperparathyroidism
• Hypertension
• Hyperthyroidism
• Hypocalciuria
• Hypogonadism
• Hypoparathyroidism
• Hyposplenism (atrophy of spleen)
• Hypothyroidism
• Hypotonia
• Ichthyosis - acquired
• Pulmonary hemosiderosis - idiopathic
• IgA deficiency
• IgA nephropathy
• Impotence
• Inability to concentrate
• Infertility (in both sexes)
• Insomnia
• Intrauterine growth retardation
• Iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy - severe
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
• Keratomalacia
• Kidney stones
• Lactose intolerance
• Lassitude
• Late menarche (late start of menstrual periods)
• Leaky gut syndrome
• Liver enzymes elevated
• Loss of memory
• Lymphadenopathy
• Lymphoma - B-cell non-Hodgkin’s
• Lymphoma - cryptic intestinal T-cell (refractory sprue)
• Lymphoma – non-Hodgkin
• Macroamylasemia
• Macrocytosis (red blood cells larger than normal)
• Macrolipasemia
• Magnesium low
• Malabsorption
• Melanoma
• Memory loss
• Migraine
• Miscarriage
• Monoarthritis – recurrent
• Mouth sores
• Multiple sclerosis (MS) – a possible link
• Muscle pain and tenderness
• Muscle spasms and cramps
• Muscle wasting
• Muscle weakness
• Nail problems
• Nausea
• Nervousness
• Neuropathy - peripheral
• Neutropenia (low white blood cells)
• Nightblindness
• Nosebleeds – unexplained
• Obesity
• Occult blood in stool
• Ocular myopathy
• Osteitis fibrosa
• Osteomalacia
• Osteomalacic myopathy
• Osteonecrosis
• Osteopenia
• Osteoporosis
• Pancreatic insufficiency (poor digestion)
• Panic attacks
• Parathyroid carcinoma
• Penicilllin V impaired absorption
• Phosphorus - low
• Pityriasis rubra pilaris
• Plasma proteins low
• Plummer-Vinson Syndrome
• PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
• Pneumococcal septicemia
• Pneumonia – recurrent
• Polyglandular syndrome
• Polymyositis
• Potassium - low
• Primary biliary cirrhosis
• Primary sclerosing cholangitis
• Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
• Prolactinemia
• Prothrombin Time prolonged
• Prothrombinemia
• Prurigo nodularis
• Psoriasis
• Psoriatic arthritis
• Puberty - delayed
• Purpura – idiopathic thrombocytopenic
• Rhabdomyolysis - hypokalemic
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Rickets
• Sarcoidosis
• Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders
• Scleroderma
• Seborrhea
• Short stature
• Sjögren’s syndrome
• Skin rash – itchy
• Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
• Smell - loss of
• Sperm abnormalities
• Spina bifida
• Sprue - refractory
• Steatorrhea (pale, malodorous, floating, hard-to-flush stools)
• Stomach ulcer
• Stroke – premature
• Sugar intolerance
• Swelling
• Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
• Taste - loss of
• Tetany
• Thrombocytopenic purpura – idiopathic
• Thyroid disease - juvenile autoimmune
• Tongue – red and/or burning
• Tremors
• Tuberculosis - increased susceptibility to
• Turner’s syndrome
• Urinary tract infections - recurrent
• Urticaria - chronic hives
• Uveitis
• Vaginitis
• Vasculitis
• Vasculitis of the CNS (Central Nervous System)
• Vitiligo
• Volvulus (twisted intestines)
• Vomiting
• Weight gain – unexplained
• Weight loss – unexplained
• Xerophthalmia (dry eyes)
• Zinc - low

I will add to this list as I come across new links –keep checking!

Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

September 6, 2010

Tags: food, order, water, allergy - blood-mediated, allergy - cell-mediated, apple, allergies – fast and slow, autoimmune disease, back pain, blood test for allergies, cancer, chocolate, citrus, constipation, corn, craving, dairy, depression, diabetes type II, diarrhea, drugs – medical, eggplant, eggs, flavor enhancers food allergy, food colorings, food intolerance, fruit, gluten, heartburn, HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), infection, irritable bowel syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome?, joint pain, lectins, mental fog, MSG, nightshades, nuts, obesity, pain, peanut, peppers - bell and hot, pills, potato, preservatives, prescription medication rash, recreational drugs, runner’s diarrhea, seafood, skin problem, skin test for allergies, soy, stomach ache, stool – floating, thirst – excessive, tomato, yeast

In my thirty years in medicine, I have never diagnosed anybody with “irritable bowel syndrome.”

Not that I didn't want to make the diagnosis. But it always seemed to be the last resort - if there wasn't a better explanation for the patient's symptoms. And there always was.

If my patients came with the label, I quietly looked for a more appropriate diagnosis, mostly some kind of food intolerance and/or infections. And if they came with any of the myriad of gastrointestinal complaints, they deserved a thorough workup.

Food allergies: Physicians differ between food allergies and food intolerance. For the patient the difference is minimal: The only action that will help is leaving out the offending food.

Allergies are mediated either through blood – then they show up in blood tests. Or they are cell-mediated, which means they can’t be detected by blood tests; skin prick test is the way to go then.

If you usually feel good (or even just better) in the morning before you eat, food problems are likely. – Floating stools point to a food culprit, too.

There are rare and dangerous diseases, therefore a doctor should eliminate serious diagnoses. But this is what you can do yourself:

• Write a food journal. Everything that goes into your mouth should go in here – including beverages, pills and chewing gum. A pattern might become clear once you regularly record everything.
• In my experience, these are the most common food offenders: dairy, soy, nuts, gluten, corn – especially HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), nightshades (tomato, potato, eggplant, bell and hot peppers), citrus, seafood, lectins, food colorings, preservatives, flavor enhancers (like MSG), eggs, apples and other fruit, chocolate (though probably less common than people think – it usually are the non-cacao ingredients that cause trouble), yeast. And don’t forget: prescription medication! Recreational drugs.
• Read labels! Of course, foods without labels – like kale and carrots – are healthier anyway because only processed food is required to be labeled.
• Has anybody in your family a bowel disease? You might have the same.
• Jot down pains, headache, heartburn, stomach ache, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, blurred vision, slow urination, skin rashes, blocked nose or ears,
• Don’t eat after dinner – and don’t have dinner late. The sheer bulk in your stomach may create the discomfort; besides it prevents the cell repair that should be taking place nightly – but can’t happen when your body is busy digesting.
• Are you very thirsty – especially during and after a meal? That might be a sign of a food allergy. Don’t suppress your thirst – this is how your body gets rid of the offending food: by diluting it.
• If you suspect food allergies, leave out the whole list above plus whatever you suspect for a week. Then one by one, every few days reintroduce another food from the list. – Sometimes only repeated exposure shows the problem – that happens mostly with cell-mediated allergies.
• Blood-mediated allergies are the quick ones – that can bring you to the emergency room - like peanuts. Never try to force your body into accepting any food that it doesn’t want!
• Slow allergies make you sick over time – by the chronic inflammation in your body. That causes for instance cancer in the long run.
• Take a probiotics regularly. I personally like Primal Defense (this is not an endorsement – only an idea to start with. Begin with a small dose, slowly take more. If a probiotic does not agree with you, change the brand.
• Most people benefit from fish oil – to counteract the constant inflammation that comes with food allergies.
• Chew well.
• Eat vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. Not only are they good for you – they also seem to cause fewer allergies.
• Serious runners suffer from a curious disease called “runner’s diarrhea” (about fifty percent of them.
• Obesity might be a sign for food allergies: We tend to crave exactly the foods that are worst for us.
• And most importantly: Don’t eat it if it hurts you!

Unfortunately, you can even have a bowel disease without any gastrointestinal complaints: About fifty percent of gluten intolerance (celiac sprue) patients never notice anything wrong with their belly. But they might have joint or back pain, diabetes, autoimmune disease, mental fog, depression – and a host of other problems.

Soaking and Sprouting

August 2, 2010

Tags: food, water, agricultural revolution, allergy, amaranth, animals - prehistoric, antinutrients, bean dishes, bloating, Brazil nut, bread - daily, calcium, calories, cavemen, colitis, cooking, dairy, deer, diarrhea, digestibility, digestion, famines, fermented foods, flavonoids, food allergies, fowl, fruit, gastro-intestinal tract, game, genetics, grains, greens, grubs, hunters and gatherers, indigestion, lectins, leftovers, legumes, lentils, mammoth, milk, minerals, mung beans, nuts, pigs, polyphenols, population growth, protease inhibitors, phytates, raw foods, roots, seeds, snacks, soaking, Soaking and Sprouting, sprouting, sprouting jar, sprouts - commercial, starvation, stomach - upset, World hunger

“Give us our daily bread” is a prayer. If somebody is out there to listen to this prayer, He seems to prefer to listen to First-World supplicants; the Third World does not need to apply, apparently.

World hunger is appalling, but perhaps it is beneficial that not all people get to have their daily bread. Because our staple bread, surprisingly, contains ingredients that might hurt you.

All seeds – including grains, legumes and nuts – contain indigestible parts. It is a survival strategy for seeds: They don’t want to be eaten, they want to germinate and build new life.

About five to ten thousand (depending on where people lived) years ago, the agricultural revolution happened. Suddenly we were eating grains (the other part of the agricultural revolution was coaxing cows into give up their milk for human consumption). When people still were hunters and gatherers, grains barely ever showed up in their meals – grains then were trifling kernels, not worth the effort. Cavemen ate greens, roots, nuts, small fruit (big fruit are the result of modern hybridization), game, fowl and grubs – whatever was available. Not much was available, so famines and starvation were frequent – especially after mankind had successfully hunted to extinction the huge animals that populated the world in prehistoric times: huge deer, woolly mammoths, giants pigs, and so on.

Agriculture was a step forward. It provided more calories, and reliably so. More children could survive; populations slowly increased.

But grains come with a price: They contain antinutrients (such as lectins, phytates, protease inhibitors) that have negative health consequences. These ingredients interfere with the successful uptake of important molecules – mostly minerals, like calcium – and they are harsh on the gastro-intestinal tract. As they are indigestible, eating them can lead to upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea, even colitis.

But things are never easy: Polyphenols and flavonoids are also antinutrients, and we surely want those in our daily fare (though not in overdose).

Antinutrients can be destroyed or at least reduced by cooking, sprouting and fermentation. About fermentation and its benefits we have already talked. We also discussed raw foods-only diets, and that cooking makes more nutritional components available.

Soaking and sprouting is a method still not used widely enough. I can't marvel enough that the simple fact of adding water to a seed will make it easier to digest (be aware that for some people it is not enough to eliminate the digestive problems). Store-bought sprouts in the past have occasional had problems with germs, alfalfa and soy bean sprouts, for instance - a good reason to do it at home. Just keep your (simple) equipment clean. There are a few tricks for different sprouts from amaranth to Brazil nuts, from mung beans to lentils which I don’t want to discuss here – information is easily found on the Internet.

This is my stress-free methods: Soak in clean water overnight. There are plastic jars available at health food stores with sieves of different sized hole, for small and bigger seeds. One can also just (and perhaps healthier without plastics leaching out) use glass jars and paper towels and/or cheese cloth for straining.

Pour off the water next morning, rinse in clean water (repeatedly, if the water is cloudy) and let stand for sprouting (or beginning to sprout). Eat your sprouts during this day. For me it works – without being too meticulous about it. I like sunflower, flax, sesame, almonds. Make sure you start with seeds that have not been irradiated, roasted, salted or processed in any way; organic is preferable. Make sure you don’t let them sprout for too long, they might get bitter. Experiment with different soaking/sprouting times. Anything longer than two, utmost three days can lead to mold – discard it. Always clean jars and sieves thoroughly.

Add sprouted seeds and nuts to bean dishes, leftovers and as snacks.

If you seem to have “allergies” to every single nut or seed there is, try removing antinutrients by soaking and sprouting. After all, yours might not be a real allergy, you might just not be able to digest certain indigestible food ingredients. Which is determined by genetics.

Bowel Health I: Probiotics

June 9, 2010

Tags: order, food, acne, addiction, advertisements, antibiotics, arteries - clogging of, arthritis, barley, bitters, boredom, bowel health, Bowel Health I: Probiotics, casein, cholesterol - high, colon cancer, dairy, dementia, depression, diabetes type II, diarrhea, frustration, gluten, gut, heart, heart attack, Helicobacter pyloris, high blood pressure, inflammation, intestines, joints, kidneys, mineral absorption, multivitamin, nutrition, oats, obesity, opioids, pancreatitis, probiotic, psoriasis, rye, Standard American Diet (SAD), stroke, urinary tract infection, vegetables, vitamin absorption, wheat

In Natural Medicine, we work with the four elimination organs: kidneys, bowels, lungs and skin. If one is blocked or diseased, the body as a whole suffers.

With the Standard American Diet (SAD), foremost our bowels are ailing. We live in a state of constant intestinal inflammation – and from there the infliction moves to skin (pimples, psoriasis), brain (depression, stroke, dementia), joints (arthritis), heart (heart attack, clogging of arteries. The two diseases that are “systemic”, namely affecting about every single organ in the body, are diabetes and obesity – and they are linked, as we know.

It is not difficult to conclude that the only remedy that will work, is cleaning up our act of how we eat – but for some people, this seems extremely hard. While there a several reasons to collude in making us overeat like advertisements, genetics, boredom, frustration, depression – the biggest reason is addiction. If one does not understand that food can be addictive, one cannot learn to avoid the offending foods like the pest.

Two of the main food culprits – I have mentioned them before – are gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats) and casein (dairy). Interestingly, they are chemically related. Interestingly, both are broken down into opioids – compounds that make you feel good and make you crave more.

To improve bowel health, we have to eat better – and the better eating mostly consists of vegetables, vegetables, vegetables (see, how I am repeating myself). Bitters help better digestion.

Aside from improved nutrition, a daily probiotic may be your best bet for bowel health. Probiotics are healthy bowel bacteria. Probiotics are live microorganisms – bowel bacteria – that belong in your intestines, but are not there because they have been killed off by antibiotic use (which you might have ingested without knowing with animal products) and/or poor diets.

These are the benefits which you might gain from a healthy gut flora: Reduced inflammation across the board, enhanced resistance to all kinds of infections like diarrhea, urinary tract and Helicobacter pylorus infections, increased mineral and vitamin absorption, protection against colon cancer, lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol – to name a few.

Probiotics are not for very small children (before their first birthday) or for patients with acute pancreatitis. Initially, probiotics might cause mighty rumbling in your bowels – so start low, with one capsule/pill per day, and slowly work your way up. If one brand does give you indigestion, try another one. And the more you can down (and afford), probably the better; think about reforesting: taking one capsule can be likened to planting a single tree.

We know that probiotics work – but we don’t know how. One study seemed to suggest that it does not matter whether the bacteria are alive or dead – they worked anyway. And they don’t seem to have lasting effects – only as long as one takes them.

But if you take a single natural supplement, forget multivitamins – take a probiotic!

Food “Allergies”, Anyone?

April 29, 2010

Tags: food, allergy, arthritis, asthma, bleeding gums, bloating, cramps, breast soreness, bulemia, bursitis, celiac disease (see: gluten), coffee, corn, cravings, dairy, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, eczema, eggplant, eyes - itchy, fatigue, food allergy, Food “Allergies” - Anyone?, food intolerance, food sensitivities, gluten, gluten enteropathy, headaches, heartburn, interstitial cystitis, itch, joint pains, listlessness, low blood pressure, migraines, mouth sores, muscle weakness, nightshades, nuts, obesity, pain, peppers, phlebitis, potato, sinus problems, skin problems, sprue (see: gluten), tendinitis, thirst - excessive, tickling in throat, tomato, urine flow - slow, wheat

What we often call food “allergies” might be forms of intolerance with different pathways, physiologically speaking. The poisonous effect of wheat gluten in gluten enteropathy worked via a different mechanism than dairy-induced asthma; or the poison ivy dermatitis; or likely immune-complex regulated arthritis. Science has not totally elucidated these mechanisms; food “allergy” might be the incorrect term but has become common.

The diagnosis is difficult to make and to confirm; but if you don’t even think of allergy, the diagnosis can’t be made. Many physicians are not trained in this. However, you might need professional help if self-observation does not solve the problem. Since all of these conditions can also be caused by far more serious diseases, by all means work with your doctor.

Here is a list of signs that should make you wonder if you have an unrecognized food issue:

Food cravings: The more you like a food the more likely it is that you are allergic to that food. The more frequent you eat a certain food or a food group the more likely is that you will develop an allergy to it.

Fatigue: After a meal you are tired. We all are tired after a heavy meal; but if you are extremely tired even after a smaller meal you should search for an allergy.

Abdominal discomfort after a meal - often within minutes but unfortunately it can even take a day or two - you feel bloated and distressed in your stomach. Diarrhea is already a more severe sign and, if chronic or intermittently recurrent, should be evaluated by a physician. Heartburn seldom is recognized as stemming from food allergies – but it often goes away when you stop eating nightshades (tomato, bell and hot peppers, eggplant, potato), nuts or dairy.

Weakness: About fifteen minutes after a meal lift your arms: If they feel heavy or ache more than usual - compared how light you felt in the morning - this might be a case of allergy.

Musculo-skeletal system: joint, tendon and muscle problems, bursitis, etc. Leave out nuts and dairy. Get evaluated for celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

Mouth: Burning in your mouth, tickling in your throat or sores in your buccal mucosa or on your tongue might signal an allergy.

Bladder: Slow flow of urine can be a sign of food allergy, due to a swelling of the urethra. Or burning of the urethra in males. Or recurrent signs of urinary tract infections – with or without bacteria growing out in culture. Irritable bladder (interstitial cystitis) might respond to leaving out coffee and certain foods.

Thirst! If you are thirstier than other people – always running around with a water bottle in your hand – think allergy.

Other diseases and complaints that might be caused - but not necessarily - by food allergies headaches, asthma, swollen glands, bleeding and inflamed gums, abdominal discomfort and bloating, diarrhea, skin problems and itching of perfectly normal looking skin, recurrent infections (sinus, UTI, etc.), itchy eyes, listlessness and mild depression, obesity and bulimia, anal itch and/or rashes, low blood pressure, dizziness, breast pain - a long list that is probably longer, recurrent phlebitis.

Most common food "allergies" I have encountered in patients: dairy, nightshade (tomato, potato, eggplant, all peppers except black pepper, chili, cayenne, paprika), nuts, wheat, corn, beef, food dyes and food preservatives. But basically every food can become a culprit. If you have pinpointed one food item as allergenic for you, compare it with other items in the same botanical family (like nightshade).
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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