Tag Archives: Diabetes

Taking psychiatric meds? How to protect yourself from side effects.

Along with frequently described mood  or antidepressant medications, what else can a person do to protect themselves from accumulating brain tissue loss and losing brain function?

For the folks suffering from disabling episodes of psychosis, mania and depression, the right psychiatric  medications are a godsend. There are many people who attribute their ability to continue working and leading a normal life to their  medications along with therapy. It is thought that for some people, these brain illnesses are associated with degeneration of brain cells. While every case may be different, often dysfunction in the brain occurs along with  dysfunction in the body. After all, every part of our body is connected.

We are seeing increases in autoimmune disorders, food allergies, gut problems, arthritis, asthma, skin disorders, depression and sleep disorders. For some people, some of these problems may be due to the same culprit. There is much discussion now about the role of diet and gut dysfunction in the emergence of mood disorders.

So, would it make sense to identify and eliminate the culprit(s) and replace lost or missing nutrients that are known to be essential for brain health? How about looking at non-prescription supplements and foods that help the brain? In the December, 2016 issue of Current Psychiatry, Dr. Henry A. Nasrallah, writes about supplements that can help protect the brains of folks who are experiencing brain problems which show up as mood or cognitive disorders.

Some antidepressants, mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics may not only decrease troubling symptoms but may also have a protective effect on the brain.

There is an additional step that your doctor can take to help you protect your brain from the “destructive processes that accompany acute episodes of psychosis, mania and depression”.

Some of the supplements mentioned are:

Omega-3 fatty acids – Found in fish oil supplements have been shown in research studies to help reduce the effects of mood disorders and psychosis when used in addition to medications as well as a general supplement to protect brain health. Check out http://www.VitalChoice.org

Caffeine –  Thought to be neuroprotective and to aid in preventing mood and memory dysfunction. Not necessarily good for anxious clients but helpful for those with psychosis or mood disorders.

Vitamin D3 –  A deficiency of this essential vitamin (the status of most people living north of North Carolina and especially of people experiencing psychotic and mood disorders)  has been associated with depression, Alzheimer’s, autism and schizophrenia.  Supplementation with natural vitamin D (inexpensive over the counter) is said to protect the brain and the body against basic illnesses.

Nicotine (in the form of nicotine gum or nicotine patches) can help with cognitive processing (thinking), stress and cell health.

Melatonin – is an antioxidant, supportive to the immune system which reduces brain inflammation.  Especially for diabetics or those with metabolic syndrome, melatonin is felt to be protective of brain tissue.  Melatonin is considered an over the counter supplement that is helpful for sleep problems.  For those taking Synthroid,  melatonin use needs to be discussed with your pharmacist or physician.

N-acetylcysteine – is a powerful antioxidant for the brain, especially during a psychotic episode

Minocycline – An antibiotic that has been shown in studies to have protective effects on the brain as an additional treatment in schizophrenia

Lithium – usually used to treat mania in dosages of 900 to 1500 mg/d has been found to prevent progression of “amnestic mild cognitive impairment” to full dementia when taken in doses as low as 1 mg/d.

Erythropoietin (limited use due to some black-box warnings)

Cox-2 inhibitors: anti-inflammatory drug helpful in acute psychosis usually associated with neuro-inflammation.

Talk to your provider about adding these supplements to your psychiatric medication

Source: Current Psychiatry,  Are you neuroprotecting your patients? 10 Adjunctive therapies, Henry A Nasrallah, MD, Vol. 15, No.12, December 2016

 

Feel-Good Food That’s Good for your Brain

Let’s face it,,,,,everytime you feed your body, you feed your brain. A well-fed brain can think clearly, make great decisions, handle stress and remember well.

A poorly-fed brain can’t remember, is impatient, is stuck in a cloud and can’t make decisions. Everything you eat affects you, so don’t you want to pick the best foods?

What’s really the best food?
Who knew that the best foods for you, now that you know the food pyramid misses the mark, are, u name it:  good ole greens, beans and veggies as close to fresh picked as you can get them. Organic produce is important because pesticides are potent cancer causers. With the widespread marketing of GMO foods (genetically-modified (Frankenfood) fruits and vegetables), it is doubly important that black folks and urban neighborhoods don’t become dumping grounds for pesticide-laden, old, poorly regulated and nutrient poor foods.

Food distributors know that they can unload lower quality foods in urban and immigrant neighborhoods. (Check the expiration labels on the food products that you buy. For unpackaged foods use your eyes and your nose. If you can smell the fish counter or the meat section from the front of the store, maybe you should go somewhere else. )

What to look for
Now is the time to look for the stickers on fresh produce that says “Organic” or has a five digit code that begins with a number 9.  Let the manager at your local market know that you want high quality, organically grown, fresh produce. If a few people ask, they can order it for their produce section. Look for farmers markets with produce that is often picked the same day or the day before. Pay a little bit more or check out your local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to buy a “farm-share” where you’ll get weekly deliveries of freshly harvested veggies from May to November for a lump sum payment. Check the prices of several farms but this usually averages $40 a week for the growing season for a family of four. They usually deliver to a drop off point like a church,  school or farmers market.

In the end, it’s less expensive
Fresh produce can be quickly cooked into a meal for 25% of the cost of processed, prepared foods and have four times the nutrition because it hasn’t been processed, baked, boiled, colored, preserved and sometimes, dried for packaging.

Follow health-conscious sister/brother bloggers
Vegan and healthy food bloggers, like Tracye McQuirter, will give you the details, recipes, facts and motivation for cooking up delicious, nutritious, “skintastic” and age defying meals!

Coconut oil for alcoholism

A former alcoholic who researched a solution to the unbearable cravings for alcohol that ruined his personal life, Dr. Robert Hershline, found relief from a simple, natural nutrient.

“He started taking coconut oil daily and within four days experienced the same sense of relief from symptoms that he got from alcohol.”

In his book, The Coconut Oil Miracle, he shares his insights into the conversion of medium-chain fatty acids (essential to brain function) in coconut ketones into fuel for the brain. Through the regular consumption of coconut oil, “the brain’s conditioned dependence on acetic acid and desires for alcohol can be broken”.

In a recent study review in The Well Being Journal, Bruce Fife, ND and certified nutritionist, stated that blood ketone levels can be raised to therapeutic levels by taking 5 to 6 tablespoons of coconut oil daily.  Consumed with foods, three 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons doses could be consumed daily.

Consumers of coconut oil stress that one should look for extra virgin, cold-pressed, organic coconut oil. Try coconut oil spread with nut butter on sprouted bread or on steamed carrots, added to a smoothie or used in low temperature cooking to saute vegetables.

References

1. Hershline, R. Why Do I Drink?: The Role of Brain Metabolism, Published by Robert Hershline, Hilton Head Island, SC 2013

2. Fife, Bruce. “Coconut Ketones: A New Approach to Alcoholism“.  Well Being Journal, November/December, 2013: 9-14.

Fight dementia & Alzheimer’s: Dump the bread

Renowned neurologist, David Perlmutter, says that it’s neither consistent with reality nor current science to deny the negative effects of bread, cereals, pasta and other wheat products on brain health. He says that he feels “we owe it to the public to tell them that gluten, carbohydrates and sugar represent a modern brain threat”. He notes that medications for many common brain disorders are detrimental to health, especially for children. He notes that we do not understand the long term consequences of medication for ADHD kids, for example.

Dr. Perlmutter points out that he puts nearly all of his patients on a gluten free diet because of the overwhelmingly positive results.

Women taking antidepressant medications are 45% more likely to have a stroke and increase their risk of death by 32%, statistics that Dr. Perlmutter calls “horrifying”. If you are depressed he points to a study that claims it increases the risk of having gluten sensitivity by 230%. Movement disorders, like Parkinson’s and others, have been powerfully responsive to the removal of gluten from the diet.

Dr. Perlmutter is a board-certified neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. He is the author of “Grain Brain” (#1 New York Times bestseller), “The Better Brain Book”,  and “Power Up Your Brain”. Website: http://www.drperlmutter.com

No Amount of Alcohol is Safe

The 2014 World Cancer Report from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concludes that no amount of alcohol is safe.  This, despite the fact that consumers have come to believe in the concept of “Responsible drinking”.

Even Light Drinking Puts You at Risk
Most people think that a couple of drinks nightly are good for heart health and overall well being but that appears to be a misconception. While research shows that the more alcohol a person drinks, the higher the risks of cancer, even one glass a night, especially when combined with smoking, is associated with breast cancer, for example.

In a meta-analysis of 222 studies comprising 92,000 light drinkers and 60,000 nondrinkers with cancer, it was estimated that in 2004 worldwide, 5000 deaths from oropharyngeal cancer, 24,000 from esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and 5000 from breast cancer were attributable to light drinking. Light drinking was not associated with cancer of the colon-rectum, liver or larynx.

Trace the trail
Actually, due to the carcinogens in alcohol – some which are formed naturally in the process of creating alcohol – sites in the body which are more likely to develop cancer are exactly the sites that alcohol reaches first as it travels through the body. While hard liquor was most damaging to the esophagus where fine cilia are most sensitive to ethanol found in hard liquor, the further alcohol travels through the body, the less the effects.

Other cancers that were found to be directly caused by wine, beer and spirits, along with hard liquor are cancers of the: mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon-rectum, liver and female breast. A significant connection was found between alcohol consumption and pancreatic cancer.

Strong links have also been made between drinking and leukemia, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina and skin. Researchers note that fewer studies have looked at those connections. Dr. J. Rehm, the lead on the IACR study says, “For the cancers that have been identified as being causally (not casually) linked with alcohol, we are absolutely certain that alcohol causes these cancers.

Alcohol contains lots of carcinogens
Alcoholic beverages can contain at least 15 carcinogenic compounds, including acetaldehyde, acrylamide, aflatoxins, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, ethanol, ethyl carbamate, formaldehyde, and lead. Ethanol is the most important carcinogen in alcoholic beverages. How the body breaks down ethanol is determined by your genetic profile.

There are many other factors that determine how and whether alcohol leads to cancer in individuals. For example, in some people due to their genetic profile, the ethanol in alcohol interferes with their ability to obtain folate from their diet. In breast cancer, alcohol increases estrogen levels and overstimulates breast cells. It is also thought that alcohol may increase the absorption of carcinogens in cigarettes. Because of this smoking and drinking is considered “a particularly dangerous mix”.

Avoidance of cigarettes and alcohol could prevent up to 80% of oral cancer cases and 90% of laryngeal cancer cases.

The amount counts
When it comes to the notion of one glass with dinner being helpful to heart health, more is not better; in fact, more is dramatically worse. Heavy alcohol use causes hypertension, atrial fibrillation, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, and nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy.

This is a special concern for young drinkers where “binge-drinking” is popularized. The young more  frequently suffer the adverse consequences of acute intoxication (accidents, violence, and social problems). In fact, among males aged 15-59 years, alcohol abuse is the leading risk factor for premature death.

With what is known now about alcohol causing so many cancers, the question should be similar to that for lung cancer. When we hear of someone dying of lung cancer we almost automatically ask, “Did they smoke?” When we hear of someone getting breast cancer now, perhaps we should also ask, “Do they, or did they, drink?”

While this may be disheartening news for those of you who feel the work week was created so that you can hit the bars on the weekend, there are other options. Researchers have found that people respond well to knowledge about their risks and begin changing habits. One of the best options can be found in the other activity that many clubs provide: dancing. Great for the heart and great for the spirit. No alcohol required! Music alone is known to effect the brain and start the endorphins flowing (free, too!). Many alcohol screening tools are available. Behavior change and positive effects have been observed in adolescents, adults, older adults, and pregnant women following alcohol screening and brief interventions aimed at reducing alcohol intake.

While physicians were recommended to “Investigate new drugs that mimic the milder effects of alcohol”, we’ve heard of some things even closer and more natural to Mother Earth. No, not marijuana, but natural, non-addictive herbs that are not known to damage brain cells – herbs like lemon balm, chamomile, mint, etc. or herbal preparations like Perfect Calm or St. John’s Wort (Read up on combinations to avoid and don’t use if you are taking antidepressants,  psychotropic medications, etc. Be aware that in the same way that alcohol affects each person differently, so do herbs.) Check our posts for more articles on natural relaxants – coming up.

References
Rehm J, Shield K. Alcohol consumption. In: Stewart BW, Wild CB, eds. World Cancer Report 2014. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2014.

Lachenmeier DW, Przbylski MC, Rehm J. Comparative risk assessment of carcinogens in alcoholic beverages using the margin of exposure approach. Int J Cancer. 2012;131:E995-E1003. Abstract

Seitz HK, Becker P. Alcohol metabolism and cancer risk. Alcohol Res Health. 2007;30:38-41, 44-47.

Hamid A, Wani NA, Kaur J. New perspectives on folate transport in relation to alcoholism-induced folate malabsorption-association with epigenome stability and cancer development. FEBS J. 2009;276:2175-2191. Abstract

Al-Sader H, Abdul-Jabar H, Allawi Z, Haba Y. Alcohol and breast cancer: the mechanisms explained. J Clin Med Res. 2009;1:125-131.

O’Keefe JH, Bhatti SK, Bajwa A, DiNicolantonio JJ, Lavie CJ. Alcohol and cardiovascular health: the dose makes the poison…or the remedy. Mayo Clin Proc. 2014;89:382-393.