Two years ago I stopped getting mammograms. I’m not afraid of mammograms (although placing my breasts between two glass plates like a cheese melt isn’t exactly enjoyable), I don’t bury my head in the sand of health denial. I don’t think I’m invincible.
At this writing I’m 48. That’s 16 years of radiation exposure with a tool research indicates isn’t catching the cancers we want to catch very well and paradoxically, has a high rate of false positives. This uunnecessarily scares women which leads to undue emotional distress and unnecessary pokes, prods and potentially dangerous needle biopsies (more on that in my linked article).
My decision to ditch mammograms came after over two years of research and conversations with my certified breast thermographer.
Ultimately however, I decided to stop getting mammograms after reading advice from a well-known natural health physician, Dr. Joseph Mercola. Dr. Mercola is my natural health go to guru, as is Dr. Christine Northrup. Neither speculate with loose-lipped quackery. Both back their recommendations with long-time credible peer-reviewed research.
It’s never easy to go against the norm of mainstream medicine especially if you’ve had an abnormal finding. Suddenly you panic and your doctor becomes your savior to soothe your frazzled nerves. Whatever they say — is golden. Moreover, who has the emotional energy or time to argue a case for breast cancer screenings that are outside the norm?
Who wants to?
Do it anyway. And here’s why.
It’s time for a radical paradigm shift about how we view breast health.
- First is to focus on prevention.
- Second, we really need to treat all breast cancers? Some resolve on their own and to poke and biopsy and compress increases the risk of spreading cells.
- Third, each woman’s screening should be customized to her individual risk factors.
- Fourth, mammograms, based on long term findings, should no longer be considered the gold standard for breast cancer screening.
- Last, breast thermography’s ability to detect physiological changes has improved radically and along WITH MRI/doctor’s exam, offers a highly effective and safe (but of course not bullet-proof approach and the MRI “dye”/contrast carries risk) screening.
“In fact, a study published in 2009 in the Journal of Medical Systems and the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed reported that thermography aided by the latest analytical software sensors is 94.8 percent accurate – or nearly twice as effective as mammography! With more and more recent studies supporting these numbers, it has to make you wonder what the FDA is thinking by refusing to admit the good that it is.” Dr. Joseph Mercola. “The Breast Cancer Breakthrough that’s Making Experts Angry.”
From my article: “Why I’m opting out of mammograms and doing this breast cancer screening instead.” Please read to get the full story.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Healers heal with more than their medicine. Bedside manner sinks into our reactive minds and cells and makes a difference – Laura
This summer at the beach I found out I had the dreaded shingles (Here’s my shingles story and how I got rid of this nasty crud).
I’m 47ish, healthy and not under extreme stress. My case was fortunately mild, likely caused by adrenal fatigue diagnosed recently. I felt pretty sh…..y for a while. But what I want to ponder in this post is how we’re treated by medical professionals, our healers. Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and the like.
Respect them I always say, and they will more than likely respect you.
Some do, some don’t. It’s all about the white coat ego my friend, the ego.
What I know after 25 years and moving radically (but not blindly) away from mainstream medicine and into holistic/integrative, is many in the medical DO NOT LIKE to be questioned, ever.
I once had a male Ob-Gyn ask me, “Who let you get a mammogram at 30?”
Hellooo mister doctor man who doesn’t own breasts. My girl body. When we’re talking penis and prostate health, you pick your tests on that one.
I’m adopted. No family history. Also, a doctor found a lump on my ride breast in my twenties and referred me to an oncologist (fibrocystic, benign thank God). Later another doc suggested I get a mammo at 30 (now I don’t get mammos I do MRI’s and thermograms in lieu of the radiation and compression, but that’s another story).
Mr. No Early Mammo doc and I had a few restrained but defensive words. He said these kinds of too soon tests were a burden on the system. In not exact words I said his attitude was a burden on me.
Dare to question the great white coat and you just might get your bold little hand slapped for straying outside the lines.
Please believe me that I don’t go into my appointments ready for battle with any doctor. I smile and say hello, nice to meet you. I’m respectful and eager, sometimes supremely nervous until what I say to my doctor has her treating me a like a five year old who needs to behave.
Talk down to me and oh, it’s on. Continue reading….
I recently did my breast screening. Three-prong approach. No mammogram.
Doctor exam, breast thermography and an ultrasound in two weeks. NO mammogram unless my thermography comes back suspicious and even then, I might opt for an MRI.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t think big business is trying to screw us at every turn. I do think many lack a corporate conscience, that profit trumps full disclosure. There exists a well-oiled machine in the health care world to feed the pockets of the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, often at the expense of patients’ health. The solution is to stay informed.
There’s an enormous price to be paid for walking lockstep with even the most well-intentioned, likeable, loveable, “I’ve always loved my doctor” medical practitioner. Question. Ask. Get what you pay for. Respect. Professionalism. Competence. Cutting edge. Nothing less.
Conventional OR holistic medicine, know what you’re getting into regarding medications, supplements, herbs, medical procedures and screenings. Research the pros and cons. Natural is not always “safer.”
For traditional medicine check out:
For alternative and integrative medicine check out:
Christine Northrup (women’s health)
Women in balance (women’s health)
Dr. Mercola writes in his online article Can You Cut Your Breast Cancer Risk by Skipping Mammograms?
Analysis of 30 Years of Breast Screening Shows Mammograms Do More Harm than Good
Instead of mammo, he offers a prevention approach below: Before reading however, please note that a three-pronged screening approach is ideal.1. Exam by doctor 2. Structural: MRI (ideally, if not an MRI an ultrasound, if not then mammo, although this is debatable and certainly not annually. 3. Functional: Breast thermography by certified breast thermographer. (IACT (International Academy of Clinical Thermology) Board Certified Medical Thermographer, CTT, specializing in women’s breast health.)
“In the largest review of research into lifestyle and breast cancer, the American Institute of Cancer Research estimated that about 40 percent of US breast cancer cases could be prevented if people made wiser lifestyle choices.6, 7 I believe these estimates are far too low, and it is more likely that 75 percent to 90 percent of breast cancers could be avoided by strictly applying the recommendations below.
- Avoid sugar, especially fructose. All forms of sugar are detrimental to health in general and promote cancer. Fructose, however, is clearly one of the most harmful and should be avoided as much as possible.
- Optimize your vitamin D. Vitamin D influences virtually every cell in your body and is one of nature’s most potent cancer fighters. Vitamin D is actually able to enter cancer cells and trigger apoptosis (cell death). If you have cancer, your vitamin D level should be between 70 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D works synergistically with every cancer treatment I’m aware of, with no adverse effects. I suggest you try watching my one-hour free lecture on vitamin D to learn more.
Remember that if you take oral vitamin D3 supplements, you also need to increase your vitamin K2 intake, as vitamin D increases the need for K2 to function properly. See my previous article What You Need to Know About Vitamin K2, D and Calcium for more information. Please consider joining one of GrassrootsHealth’s D*Action’s vitamin D studies to stay on top of your vitamin D performance. For more information, see my previous article How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help You Optimize Your Health.
- Get plenty of natural vitamin A. There is evidence that vitamin A also plays a role in helping prevent breast cancer.8 It’s best to obtain it from vitamin A-rich foods, rather than a supplement. Your best sources are organic egg yolks,9 raw butter, raw whole milk, and beef or chicken liver.
- Lymphatic breast massage can help enhance your body’s natural ability to eliminate cancerous toxins. This can be applied by a licensed therapists, or you can implement self-lymphatic massage. It is also promotes self-nurturance.
- Avoid charring your meats. Charcoal or flame broiled meat is linked with increased breast cancer risk. Acrylamide—a carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted or fried—has been found to increase breast cancer risk as well.
- Avoid unfermented soy products. Unfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human estrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.
- Improve your insulin receptor sensitivity. The best way to do this is by avoiding sugar and grains and making sure you are exercising, especially with Peak Fitness.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. This will come naturally when you begin eating right for your nutritional type and exercising. It’s important to lose excess body fat because fat produces estrogen.
- Drink a half to whole quart of organic green vegetable juice daily. Please review my juicing instructions for more detailed information.
- Get plenty of high quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer.
- Curcumin. This is the active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations can be very useful adjunct in the treatment of breast cancer. It shows immense therapeutic potential in preventing breast cancer metastasis.10 It’s important to know that curcumin is generally not absorbed that well, so I’ve provided several absorption tips here.
- Avoid drinking alcohol, or at least limit your alcoholic drinks to one per day.
- Breastfeed exclusively for up to six months. Research shows breastfeeding can reduce your breast cancer risk.
- Avoid wearing underwire bras. There is a good deal of data that metal underwire bras can heighten your breast cancer risk.
- Avoid electromagnetic fields as much as possible. Even electric blankets can increase your cancer risk.
- Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Breast cancer is an estrogen-related cancer, and according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. (There are similar risks for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which are also comprised of synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.)
If you are experiencing excessive menopausal symptoms, you may want to consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy instead, which uses hormones that are molecularly identical to the ones your body produces and do not wreak havoc on your system. This is a much safer alternative.
- Avoid BPA, phthalates and other xenoestrogens. These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk
- Make sure you’re not iodine deficient, as there’s compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with breast cancer. Dr. David Brownstein,11 author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells.
For more information, I recommend reading Dr. Brownstein’s book. I have been researching iodine for some time ever since I interviewed Dr. Brownstein as I do believe that the bulk of what he states is spot on. However, I am not at all convinced that his dosage recommendations are correct. I believe they are too high.”
It astounds me how many people today are desperate for help to manage their long-time anxiety and depression.
Many people have been caught, some for decades, in a medication loop with their doctors. Numerous physicians with the best intentions, simply practice what they know — conventional symptom-based medicine, rather than applying a functional, holistic and integrative approach to treating their patients.
We are complex beings, mind and body. You can NOT separate the two for how they affect each other. It is I believe, impossible.
Because most doctors based on their schooling, focus on conventional treatments rather than integrative approaches, patients suffer needlessly for years. Their health, job and relationships spiral down, and in the most severe cases of mood disorders — suicide sometimes becomes the final solution.
A firm belief you deserve to feel good is the best springboard toward finding answers, towards solving any problem.
Woman desperate for help off the anti-anxiety medication rollercoaster
Recently a woman from Canada named Lisa emailed me. She explained that she’s been on a roller-coaster of anxiety-depression medication for years. She had great success managing her anxiety with cognitive therapy but due to life stresses, Lisa had setbacks. Over time she gained 150 pounds and was at the end of her rope. Today, back on track, she’s 26 pounds away from her goal weight, weaning off two medications and in search of a natural approach to help her replace the GABA meds long relied on. She told me one of her doctors had her stop her benzodiazepine meds cold turkey, a dangerous protocol that sent her brain into a serious tailspin.
After reading a few of my GABA articles, Lisa asked me in an email, for my advice. I told her I wasn’t a doctor; I don’t claim to have the answers to managing mood disorders or that my answers are vetted for 100% accuracy, but I do extensively research what I write from peer-reviewed sources (Pub-med etc).
And more, I offer what I’ve learned through my own experience. Ultimately however, people have to do their own homework.
My advice to anyone trying to recover from anxiety, panic, depression and insomnia
Wow. It sounds like you’ve been through it.
Of course I’m not a doctor but I have spent a fair amount of time, over 10 years, researching natural mood and hormone balancing, largely because I suffered with fibromyalgia (no longer) and monthly mood swings (PMS, PMDD) the result of a long-time benign pituitary disorder and other factors.
More recently I came out of a very serious bout of unexplained insomnia that led to panic, mild depression and overall misery. The bottom line for what steers my work is I believe we are supposed to feel good. Anything less is unacceptable.
I try so hard to find answers, to steer my own well-being rather than “accept” from doctors quasi-solutions — as so many of us have come to expect, particularly as we age.
Brain “hiccups” or imbalances are the result of the interplay of one or several hereditary, chemical, environmental (food allergies etc.), and psychological factors (stress, bad childhood, trauma), and I might add recovery is also contingent upon — attitude.
We breed what we believe.
The combination of all these factors can have a complex and cascading effect on your health. Yet, any imbalance can be cured or at least managed with more effective and safer treatment protocols than long-term meds — or “learning to live with it.”
The traditional approach of trying various medications is often a band-aid until the underlying causative factors are uncovered and addressed:
- Neuroendocrine (hormones – neurotransmitters, the Hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA axis) feedback system)
- Psychological stressors (work, relationships, childhood trauma, crisis)
- Environmental (food sensitivities, chemical, pollen etc.) U subscribe to a holistic approach for healing and in some cases to integrative healing (low dose traditional meds in conjunction with natural therapies).
As an aside, the mind-gut connection is regularly ignored as a potential contributor to mood disorders. Food sensitivities, chronic gut inflammation, can wreak havoc on the brain. A good probiotic is useful (Jarrow etc.) as well as digestive enzymes — but food sensitivity or allergen avoidance is ideal.
When I was suffering from insomnia it threw me into a panic, the result of my brain getting out of whack from severe sleep deprivation, high cortisol and an adrenal imbalance. After weeks of doing extensive (and desperate!) research I found a website called Integrative Psychiatry, a company located in Sarasota, Florida.
IP offers tests for various functions involved in mood, sleep and cognitive/attention issues. Many companies offer self-testing that includes a print out to explain your results, but IP also offers a one hour consult over the phone with a Physician’s Assistant who explains implications and suggested treatments.
Admittedly, their solutions are tied to purchasing their products but I trust the company’s recommendations I received – it worked.
IP’s testing and supplements are expensive, unfortunately, but if you contact IP they’ll help you pinpoint which test(s) can address your specific issues, and you can shop the supplements online in search of better value.
Lisa, shame on the doctor who told you to cold turkey benzo’s, that advice wasn’t only ignorant — it was irresponsible. The nurse at IP suggested I take a low dose of Klonapin to sleep and while I only took it for for two weeks she told me to wean off it gradually.
Kavinace supplement for anxiety, panic, sleep and to wean off benzodiazepene drugs
Among other things, she suggested I try Kavinace which contains a derivative of GABA found to be more effective than straight GABA supplements or L-theanine. It also contains Taurine. It’s non-addictive and non-habit-forming, although I suspect all supplements have at least some potential to habituate. I can’t say if that’s the case for Kavinace.
Kudos to you for practicing yoga. Yoga’s been proven to increase GABA in the brain so it’s a great idea to incorporate this ancient practice into your mind-body balancing journey.
Holistic healing requires a gradual sleuthing process to pinpoint causes. Once you nail down the underlying causes (not the least of which is a belief that you CAN recover and that you DESERVE to feel good) recovery is INEVITABLE.
Lisa, I hope some of my suggestions help. Holistic healing can sometimes take longer than a shot-gun approach of rotating medications but holistic and integrative medicine offers an effective, safer, LONG term approach to healing and well-being.
I suggest you:
a) Test for underlying causes
b) Taper your benzos using 1-2 capsules of Kavinace as needed
c) Get an IP consultation to discuss your test results
d) Don’t underestimate the potential for a food sensitivity which increases inflammation in the body, elevates histamine in the brain (an excitatory neurotransmitter) and can contribute to or exacerbate an anxious state.
e) Continue with cognitive therapies and mind-body work (yoga).
f) Perhaps find a belief system that resonates within you — mine is Law of Attraction. Whether it is God, nature, or some spiritual force, having a belief in a good and divine power can be quite comforting and empowering.
All the best. To feeling good.
You might think your kids are getting enough vitamin D but a 2009 study published in Pediatrics found that 9 percent of kids ages 1 to 25 were deficient in vitamin D and 61 percent were low. The researchers linked their findings to increased cardiovascular risk.
Kids with levels less than 30 ng/mL of vitamin D were more likely to have low serum calcium and HDL (good cholesterol) and higher blood pressure…
Research findings suggest that low levels of vitamin D may contribute to Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases. This inexpensive vitamin, actually a hormone, may alleviate Crohns symptoms in some patients. And because Crohns often has a genetic components, taken prophylactically, vitamin D may prevent Crohn’s’ siblings and offspring from manifesting the disease.
Crohn’s is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation and ulcers (open sores) along the innermost layer of the digestive tract. Inflammation can appear along the entire gastrointestinal tract (from the mouth to anus), although the majority of cases involve the small intestine or the first part of the large intestine. The cause of the disease is largely unknown; although genetic and environmental factors may play a role.
Vitamin D, in its active form (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D), is a hormone that binds to receptors in the body’s cells. Despite the name, vitamin D is actually a secosteroid hormone that targets over 2000 genes. Vitamin D has been shown to have a positive effect on bone health, the immune system, helping prevent some cancers, and reducing inflammation.
Taken orally, vitamin D is absorbed with fat through the intestinal walls as well as in the fat cells of the liver, skin, brain and bones, in amounts sufficient for many months. While not readily available in foods, vitamin D is made in large quantities when sunlight strikes bare skin which is why a deficiency is more common in the winter. Other factors contribute to low vitamin D including malabsorption, common in people with an inflammatory bowel disease. Vitamin D production is also affected by anything that blocks ultra violet light including skin pigment, smog, fog, sunscreen, windows and hats.
Vitamin D Deficiency, Crohn’s and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Researchers in a 2009 report wrote that “Western studies show that up to 65 per cent of patients with Crohn’s disease have low serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D concentrations, and 45 per cent of these patients have metabolic bone disease.” In the study, scientists found that vitamin D levels were significantly lower among patients with Crohn’s disease compared to subjects the same and age and gender. Further, D levels in patients with Crohn’s disease were lower in those with severe disease activity and less sun exposure.
In a 2010 study, Dr. John White and his team found evidence to suggest that sufficient vitamin D may counter the effects of Crohn’s disease. Although the researchers were initially studying the effects of D on cancer; the results consistently pointed to D’s impact on the immune system, specifically on the innate immune system, the process that acts as the body’s first defense against microbial invaders, “It’s a defect in innate immune handling of intestinal bacteria that leads to an inflammatory response that may lead to an autoimmune condition,” White explains.
Several other studies suggest a link between vitamin D and inflammatory bowel disease, including a 2006 finding out of Ireland. Researchers found that a high proportion of Crohn’s patients had some level of vitamin D deficiency during late-wintertime. The researchers suggest people with Crohn’s consider taking supplemental vitamin D, particularly patients with small intestinal involvement, quit smoking, get adequate but responsible exposure to summer sunlight, and maintain a body mass index in the normal range.
Vitamin D and Innate Immunity
Vitamin D’s role in intestinal health is believed to involve the beta defensin 2 gene, a gene coding for an important defense molecule of the body. Defensins are part of the arsenal of weapons used by the human immune system. Patients with Crohn’s disease of the colon (colonic CD) have a lower level of beta-defensins in the mucous membranes. Beta defensin encodes an antimicrobial peptide and the NOD2 gene that alerts cells to the presence of invading microbes. If NOD2 is deficient or defective, it can’t attack invaders in the intestinal tract.
An international research team with the Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart and the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg discovered a possible cause of the chronic inflammation. They believe Crohn’s patients have one less copy of the protective beta-defensin 2 gene which may be associated with a lower production of the endogenous antibiotic and therefore, lower defensin level. A lower defensin level causes the protective intestinal mucous membrane to become so porous that bacteria can attach to and invade the mucous membrane, which leads to the typical inflammatory hot spots of Crohn’s disease.
Implications for Vitamin D and Inflammatory Diseases
Dr. White believes these findings have significant implications for Crohn’s patients and their families, “Siblings of patients with Crohn’s disease that haven’t yet developed the disease might be well advised to make sure they’re vitamin D sufficient. It’s something that’s easy to do, because they can simply go to a pharmacy, health food store, or online and buy vitamin D supplements. The vast majority of people would be candidates for vitamin D treatment,” he writes.
Click Here for Vitamin D Supplements
Marc J. Servant, a professor at the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Pharmacy and study collaborator agrees. “This discovery is exciting, since it shows how an over-the-counter supplement such as vitamin D could help people defend themselves against Crohn’s disease,” he says. Although researchers believe many people in the general population are low in vitamin D, patients with Crohn’s disease or other inflammatory bowel disease may be particularly vulnerable to a deficiency.
“Crohn’s Disease: One Gene Copy Too Few Leads To Weakened Defense,” Medical News Today. Accessed April 15, 2010.http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/47508.php
Gilman J, Shanahan F, Cashman KD, “Determinants of vitamin D status in adult Crohn’s disease patients, with particular emphasis on supplemental vitamin D use.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006 Jul.
Joseph AJ, George B, Pulimood AB, Seshadri MS, Chacko A. “25 (OH) vitamin D level in Crohn’s disease: association with sun exposure & disease activity. “ Indian J Med Res. August 2009.
White, JH et al., “Direct and indirect induction by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 of theNOD2/CARD15-beta defensin 2 innate immune pathway defective in Crohn’s disease.” The Journal of Biological Chemistry. January, 2010.
Researchers have uncovered a signaling mechanism that occurs within the excess abdominal fat of obese people and is associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Fatty liver disease however, may be more likely the root cause of these metabolic disorders, an earlier study suggests.
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar Supported by Research
While it may be too early to make vinegar a weight loss staple, the evidence is promising. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry(1) found that vinegar helps prevent the accumulation of body fat.
Lab mice fed a high-fat diet along with acetic acid, gained significantly less body fat (up to 10 percent less) than mice fed a high fat diet without acetic acid. Researchers believe acetic acid turns on genes that produces proteins involved in breaking down fats, which in turn suppresses body fat accumulation.
Lower Blood Sugar
Several small sample studies showed that vinegar lowers glucose levels in the body and increases insulin sensitivity, issues of particular concern for people at risk for or managing, type 2 diabetes. Insulin sensitivity is the body’s ability to handle excess sugar after eating high glycemic index foods, foods that cause sharp spikes and drops in blood sugar. Insulin sensitivity is one measure of someone’s risk for heart disease; the more sensitive someone is, the lower their risk for heart problems.
Results from a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition(2) found that vinegar lowered glucose and insulin levels in healthy subjects and increased their feeling of being full.
In a study published in Diabetes Care conducted by the Arizona State University’s Department of Nutrition(3), researchers divided 29 subjects into three groups: people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes; prediabetics; and healthy subjects. Each group consumed vinegar before eating a high carbohydrate test meal. Subjects in all three groups showed improved blood glucose levels and increased sensitivity to insulin compared to the control group who did not consume vinegar.
Researchers in the 2009 study, “Preliminary evidence that regular vinegar ingestion favorably influences hemoglobin A1c values in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus,(4)” compared the affect of the acetic acid found in vinegar, a dill pickle and a commercial vinegar pill on hemoglobin A1c in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Hemoglobin A1c is a measure of how much sugar has been around in the body for the preceding three months, a more accurate measure of sugar levels than the finger stick. Results showed Hemoglobin A1c values dropped with the vinegar but increased with the commercial vinegar pill and the dill pickle.
Reduce Blood Pressure
Gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in creating a state of focused calm, has been shown to also decrease blood pressure.(5,6). In a study conducted in Japan,(7) researchers measured the effect of adding GABA to vinegar on people with mild or moderate hypertension (high blood pressure).
After a pre-treatment period of two weeks, subjects with mild or moderate hypertension drank fermented drinking water with vinegar mixed with a flavoring base of fish flakes (dried bonito), with or without GABA added (in the form of sodium glutamate). Blood pressure rates dropped in both the GABA and the non-GABA groups, suggesting vinegar was the compound that lowered the subjects’ blood pressure.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Form, Dose & Warnings
Dr. Mercola, a physician, health and nutritional expert, suggests in his article, “Apple Cider Vinegar: Healing Wonder or Hype,” that people use apple cider vinegar, and in the form that is murky and brown. “Organic, unfiltered and unprocessed apple cider vinegar has a tiny, cobweb-like substance floating in it, called the “mother,” which indicates good quality,” Dr. Mercola explains. “Since the benefits of the apple cider vinegar are still being studied, there is no clear-cut guide on how to take it.” One or two tablespoons before a meal is generally the reccomended dose.
Dr. Mercola warns that because apple cider vinegar is extremely acidic to dilute it with water or juice. Straight cider ingested over time can harm tooth enamel or the tissues of the mouth and throat. An excess can also lead to low potassium levels and lower bone density.
While more research needs to be done on the health benefits, dosing and long term effects of vinegar, studies suggest the acetic acid in vinegar can lower fat accumulation, reduce blood pressure, hunger and glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity, issues of importance to pre-diabetics and people with type 2 diabetes.
Photo credit: Andy Roberts Photo
Kondo et al. “Acetic Acid Upregulates the Expression of Genes for Fatty Acid Oxidation Enzymes in Liver To Suppress Body Fat Accumulation.” Journal of Agricral and Food Chemistry, 2009.
E. Östman, E et al, “Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005.
Johnson, CS, Kim, CM, Buller, AA, “Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes,” Diabetes Care, January 2004
Johnston CS, White AM, Kent SM, “Preliminary evidence that regular vinegar ingestion favorably influences hemoglobin A1c values in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus,” Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, May, 2009.
Inoue K, Shirai T, Ochiai H, et al, “Blood-pressure-lowering effect of a novel fermented milk containing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in mild hypertensives,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003.
Hirata H, Kimura M, Nakagawa S, et al. Hypotensive effect of fermented milk containing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in subjects with high normal blood pressure,”Journal of the Japanese Society for Food Science and Technology, 2004.
Tanaka H et al, “The Effects of gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, Vinegar, and Dried Bonito on Blood Pressure in Normotensive and Mildly or Moderately Hypertensive Volunteers,”Journal of Clinical Biochemical Nutrition, July 2009.
Mercola, Joseph, DO, “Apple Cider Vinegar: Healing Wonder or Hype,” http://www.drmercola.net/search/label/vinegar, June 12, 2009.
Copyright Laura Owens. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.
DHEA, a natural steroid and precursor hormone produced by the adrenals, has been shown to provide several anti-aging benefits, and research suggests DHEA may also improve mid-life onset depression in people who don’t respond to first line depression therapies, as well as improve resilience to stress.
DHEA Improves Stress Resilience
Referred to as the “mother hormone,” DHEA is a precursor to all major sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone with its molecular structure closely related to testosterone, according to Marcelle Pick, Ob & Gyn NP for Women in Balance.org in an article on DHEA. While more research needs to be conducted to understand DHEA’s role in regulating other hormones, there is evidence DHEA may improve depression and the ability to cope with stress in some people.
“It’s likely that DHEA and adrenal function are related to neurotransmitter-release rates, based on the mood elevation our patients report after just two weeks of adrenal support.” Marcelle Pick.
A report by ScienceDaily cites a study conducted by Yale University and the VA National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder where researchers examined the biological mechanisms that contribute to a person’s level of resilience when under extreme stress, such as that experienced by soldiers, police, and firefighters.
Researchers worked closely with Special Forces Underwater Warfare Operations Center to study special operations soldiers enrolled in the military Combat Diver Qualification Course (CDQC). Results showed that soldiers with higher levels of DHEA did better during the final underwater navigation exam than those with less DHEA.
The ability to navigate underwater relies on an area of the brain called the hippocampus that is sensitive to the negative effects of stress. Dr. Charles A. Morgan, a researcher on the study said, “Animal studies have shown that DHEA buffers against stress, in part, by modulating receptors in this region of the brain. These findings are important in understanding why and how soldiers may differ in their ability to tolerate stress and also raise the possibility that, in the future, compounds like DHEA might be used to protect military personnel from the negative impact of operational stress.”
DHEA and Mid-Life Depression
In addition to adrenal synthesis, evidence also indicates that DHEA and DHEAS are synthesized in the brain, further suggesting a role of these hormones in brain function and development.
A study published in the February 2005 issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry found that 23 subjects in a study on DHEA and depression had a 50 percent or more improvement on their depression rating scale.
Researchers studied 23 men and 23 women aged 45 to 65 with midlife onset major or minor depression of moderate severity. Six weeks of DHEA treatment contributed to significant improvements in depression and sexual functioning compared to the subjects’ baseline scores and the placebo subjects.
Peter J. Schmidt, M.D., and his colleagues from the Behavioral Endocrinology Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, Rockville, Md. wrote, “At present, there are no predictors of response, and with a 50 percent response rate one would obviously select more reliable first-line treatments for this condition. However, in the 50 percent of depressed outpatients who do not respond to first-line antidepressant treatment, or in those unwilling to take traditional antidepressants, DHEA may have a useful role in the treatment of mild to moderately severe midlife-onset major and minor depression.”
Owen Wolkowitz, M.D. with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of San Francisco, has extensively researched the effects of stress and stress hormones on the brain and behavior, as well as the identification of mechanisms underlying depression, including DHEA’s role as an antidepressant in middle-aged and older individuals. Wolkowitz’s research has “consistently shown that DHEA supplementation improves mood [in these groups].”
DHEA Dosing and Safety
Because hormones are extremely powerful chemicals, people considering supplementing with DHEA should have their baseline and subsequent levels evaluated by a physician. The National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates there is sufficient evidence for the use of DHEA for adrenal insufficiency, depression, induction of labor, and systemic lupus erythematosus. The NIH provides their recommendation for dosing, safety and side effects.
“Many of the DHEA supplements I see at my local store have very high dosages — way too high for most women (often as much as 20 times what I start my patients on!). While there’s no way to tell how much of that you might actually absorb, I think it’s especially unwise to experiment with DHEA at these levels without medical supervision.” Marcelle Pick.
There is little research on the long-term effects of DHEA. DHEA may however, cause higher than normal levels of androgens and estrogens in some, and therefore increase the risk of prostate, breast, ovarian, and other hormone-sensitive cancers.
Washington University School Of Medicine (2004, November 17). Abdominal Fat Decreases, Insulin Action Improves When Elderly Take Hormone. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 24, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/04111623
Charles A. Morgan III et al. Relationships Among Plasma Dehydroepiandrosterone and Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate, Cortisol, Symptoms of Dissociation, and Objective Performance in Humans Exposed to Underwater Navigation Stress. Biological Psychiatry, Volume 66, Issue 4 (August 15, 2009)
Peter J. Schmidt, et al., “Dehydroepiandrosterone Monotherapy in Midlife-Onset Major and Minor Depression,” Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62:154-162.
Pick, Marcelle, Ob & Gyn NP, “Dhea and the Adrenal Glands.” Women to Women.org, Accessed September 13th, 2011.
Wolkowitz OM, et al,”Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) treatment of depression,”Biol Psychiatry. 1997 Feb 1;41(3):311-8.Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine 94143-0984, USA.
A few years ago I consulted with a hormone and mood specialist, a former Ob/Gyn who told me after years of working in her field she grew tired of women receiving inadequate or ineffective treatment for a number of hormone-brain-endocrine changes, including peri and full menopause, PMS, anxiety, depression, etc.
In addition to answering a long questionnaire to measure my symptoms (the result of a pituitary disorder I have called Empty Sella Syndrome), the doctor ordered a saliva hormone and urine neurotransmitter test. The results indicated my DHEA levels were extremely low. Instead of prescribing her usual 5mg per day for women, (men can take higher levels) she recommended 10mg daily.
As someone who believes in becoming our own health manager, while it’s tempting to throw supplements at an issue and see if they work, it’s important to be very careful particularly with hormones, endocrine agents that impact a wide range of processes in the body and as a result, can have a cascading positive or negative affect.
“Without a comprehensive medical test it’s impossible to know what your DHEA levels are. Just because you’re getting older doesn’t automatically mean you’re deficient. Remember, this is a natural substance — our bodies can produce more or less of it depending on our nutrient support, metabolism, hormonal balance, activity level and emotional state.” Marcelle Pick.
Test, track and monitor your symptoms carefully under the supervision of a holistic (preferably) health care practitioner.
I reccomend ZRT labs for a number of key saliva and/or blood tests. You can order these online or with a prescription from your doctor.
Copyright Laura Owens. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.
After reading about some of the negatives of mammography and doing a tremendous amount of research on breast thermography I opted out of getting a mammogram last year (after doing them for 14 years) and had a thermogram with a certified thermographer.
Just recently however, Dr. William Amalu, a chiropractor with 19 years experience in thermal imaging and I had a conversation over the phone after he read an article where I cited him.
Dr. Amalu explained that to prescribe on screening over another is dangerous to the patient. A mammogram detects 80% of all breast cancers, thermogram 90%.
With 1 in 8 women predicted to develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime and with 10-20% cases missed, the question we have to ask ourselves Dr. Amalu says is:
What number of breast cancer deaths is acceptable?
Given the margin of error with our CURRENT screening guidelines – too many. What number of deaths should be acceptable? NONE.
“Certain types of cancers, Dr. Amalu writes on his website, “will not be detected (approximately 20%) by mammography for various reasons, but some of these cancers will be discovered by DII (digital infrared imaging – thermography).”
Mammogram is NOT the answer but neither is thermography - by itself.
The ideal, best practices approach to breast cancer screening should be a three prong approach. In a perfect world this means doctors prescribe the following exams for women:
- Physical - Doctor’s exam. Detect observable and structural abnormalities by manual examination.
- Functional - Thermogram. Looks at functional, physiological changes. Highly sensitive, detecting 90% of all breast cancers vs mammogram at 80%. Thermography offers the earliest detection, detecting vascular changes, inflammation, and functional abnormalities in the breast caused by the highly dangerous “estrogen dominance,” one of the leading causes behind breast cancer.
- Structural - Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Structural imaging examines the anatomic basis of changes caused by disease. Yet, most women don’t have access to this perfect breast screening protocol because the current screening guidelines don’t support this three-pronged approach, unless a woman is high risk, or shows signs of a high risk abnormality in her first line screening.*If and MRI isn’t possible, (most doctors will NOT write a prescription for and MRI even with risk factors), Dr. Nelly Yefet, an IACT (International Academy of Clinical Thermology) Board Certified Medical Thermographer, CTT, specializing in women’s breast health (who did my thermogram), says try to get an ultrasound in lieu of a mammo.
Best Breast Cancer Screening Approach, For Now
Most doctors are not yet prescribing this three prong approach, or at the very least, the next best protocol, a thermogram as adjunct (in addition to) a mammogram for a woman’s first line breast cancer screening.
“The consensus among health care experts is that no one procedure or method of imaging is solely adequate for breast cancer screening, writes Dr. Amalu. “The false negative and positive rates for currently used examination tests (including Digital Infrared Imaging) are too high for the procedures to be used alone. However, DII may pick up many of the cancers missed by other test.”
Current Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force revised the long held American Cancer Society’s (ACS) breast cancer screening guidelines, bringing them in line with the European Guidelines which screen women age 50-69 every two years. ACS however, states that “yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.”
After analyzing Norway’s large national database the committee found that breast cancer will sometimes regress and is not always life-threatening. *In response, the task force suggested re-evaluating the use of routine mammography for breast cancer screening.
The dialogue surrounding the new guidelines focused on re-assessing the value of breast self exams, physician breast examinations, and the age and frequency of mammograms.
In the wake of the debate a renewed interest in alternative approaches to breast cancer screening and prevention surfaced, including the use of thermography. Thermography offers advantages over mammography in number of areas, including earlier detection, avoiding r but by itself will not detect 100% of all breast cancers.
Approved by the FDA in 1982 as an adjunct (done in conjunction with) to mammography and other breast cancer screening tools, proponents of thermography cite large, longitudinal studies to support its use as a highly sensitive, breast cancer detection tool. Advocates say research indicates thermography offers an advantage in early detection over mammography and physician evaluation because it can detect small tumors sooner.
Opponents however, cite high error rates and say thermography can’t pick up deeply imbedded breast tumors, although proponents insist these concerns are based on widespread misinformation as well as a misunderstanding by clinicians of the now highly sophisticated assessment capabilities of thermography.
Breast Thermography Offers Distinct Advantages Over Mammography
Breast thermography uses special infrared-sensitive cameras to digitally record images of the variations in surface temperature of the human breast, recording images of the heat patterns. The recorded images are called thermograms. Its use in cancer screening is based on the concept that cancer gives off more heat than normal tissue.
This technology detects functional changes in the breast tissue before tumors form or before they’re large enough to be detected by other secondary prevention techniques like a clinical breast exam or mammography, say advocates.
“Difficulties in reading mammograms can occur in women who are on hormone replacement, nursing or have fibrocystic, large, dense, or enhanced breasts. These types of breast differences do not cause difficulties in reading digital infrared scans.” Dr. Amalu, Breastthermography.com
Blood vessels, cysts, other benign sources, and metabolic processes such as growing breast tumors all radiate heat from within the breast. A portion of the radiated heat reaches the surface of the breast where it composes a stable thermal pattern.
A breast thermography examination records these thermal patterns and interprets them according to a strict and complex analytical procedure. When analyzed properly by trained individuals, the images disclose various pathological and abnormal processes.
Where a mammogram looks at anatomical changes in the breast and detects masses or lumps in the tissue, a thermogram picks up vascular changes in the breast by detecting blood flow patterns, inflammation and asymmetries. Thermography is used extensively in other countries including Japan, France and Sweden.
Early Thermography Technology Flawed – Now Highly Accurate
Dr. Amalu reviewed the history of thermography studies in breast cancer detection in 1995 and concluded in his report that The Breast Cancer Detection and Demonstration Project (BCDDP) formed in the seventies should not have dismissed thermography as a viable breast cancer screening tool.
Many of the studies included in the committee’s review, he writes, suffered from serious methodological errors, unrealistic expectations and flaws, that at the time were the result of infrared technology still in its infancy. Since then, new generations of thermography technology have emerged and the accuracy and sensitivity for breast cancer detection has greatly improved.
“Thermography has the unique ability to “map” the individual thermal fingerprint of a woman’s breasts. Any change in this map over the course of months and years can signal an early indication of possible tumors or other abnormalities. In fact, studies have shown that an abnormal infrared image is the single most important indicator of high risk for developing breast cancer.” Dr. Amalu.
In his review Amalu summarizes findings to support thermography’s use for breast cancer screening:
- Breast thermography has undergone extensive research since the late 1950′s.
- Over 800 peer-reviewed studies on breast thermography exist in the index-medicus literature.
- In this database, well over 300,000 women have been included as study participants.
- The numbers of participants in many studies are very large — 10K, 37K, 60K, 85K …
- Some of these studies have followed patients up to 12 years.
- Strict standardized interpretation protocols have been established for over 20 years.
- Breast thermography has an average sensitivity and specificity of 90%.
- An abnormal thermogram is 10 times more significant as a future risk indicator for breast cancer than a first order family history of the disease.
- A persistent abnormal thermogram caries with it a 22x higher risk of future breast cancer.
- An abnormal infrared image is the single most important marker of high risk for developing breast cancer.
- Research has shown that breast thermography significantly augments the long-term survival rates of its recipients.
- When used as part of a multimodal approach (clinical examination + mammography + thermography) 95% of early stage cancers will be detected.
Dr. Mercola and Others Against Mammography
Dr. Joseph Mercola, a leading natural health advocate strongly opposes mammograms.“Unfortunately mammograms use ionizing radiation at a relatively high dose, which in and of itself can contribute to the development of breast cancer.
Mammograms expose your body to radiation that can be 1,000 times greater than that from a chest x-ray, which we know poses a cancer risk. Mammography also compresses your breasts tightly, which could lead to a dangerous spread of cancerous cells, should they exist,“ he writes in his online article, “Stop! Read This BEFORE You Get that Mammogram” (Mercola.com, June 27,2009).
The Ideal Breast Cancer Prevention Screening Approach: Multi-Modality
In a 2009 review of thermography for breast cancer detection, researcher DA Kennedy and others recommended using thermography in combination with other modalities to increase screening accuracy.
“No single tool provides excellent predictability; however, a combination that incorporates thermography may boost both sensitivity and specificity. In light of technological advances and maturation of the thermographic industry, additional research is required to confirm the potential of this technology to provide an effective non-invasive, low risk adjunctive tool for the early detection of breast cancer,” write the authors.
The American Cancer Society does not endorse thermography to replace mammography, “No study has ever shown that it is an effective screening tool for finding breast cancer early. It should not be used as a substitute for mammograms.”
“There is a great deal of literature concerning the thermal imaging field in medicine. In fact, it is one of the most studied imaging technologies in the past 20 years. Politics, lack of regulation and misuse of the technology have gone a long way in keeping thermography from the mainstream.” Dr. William Cockburn, Breastthermography.org
Patients interested in pursuing thermography for breast screening need to be aware of unscrupulous practices warns Dr. Cockburn, a pioneer and long time educator in Medical Thermal Imaging.
Patients interested in pursuing thermography should consult with a licensed practitioner who is certified in thermal imaging through a recognized agency (AAT, AMIT, AAMII, AMIA, IACT, ITS). In addition, the rating system the technologist uses to assess the breast readings vary; some producing a higher than average false positive rate.
Footnote: My experience with a thermogram, cold but tolerable.
After my thermography I received via email incredibly detailed images and a written risk assessment report. My results were normal, low risk with some mild “mottling” (areas of vascular changes attributed to years of (synthetic) hormone replacement therapy due to a pituitary disorder diagnosed decades back). I remain on hormone replacement but bioidentical vs. synthetic.
I plan a one year follow-up with the same practitioner, but NOW, after talking to Dr. Amalu, I will also get a mammogram, UNLESS I can convince my doctor to prescribe an MRI instead (not likely with an “all clear” on my thermo.
This is a Catch 22. If you’re not high risk (how do I know, I’m adopted?), you can’t get an MRI. While I have had breast ultrasounds (they were negative) after an abnormal mammo, I’ve never had an MRI and frankly, these are cost prohibitive in many cases.
So what was my thermogram like?
Similar to the immodesty inherent in the mammogram that flat irons your breasts under “plexiglass” while the tech moves them like putty this way and that, during my thermography standing semi in the buff for about 10 minutes (with a woman practitioner) was mildly awkward.
And admittedly, putting my hand in ice water for a full minute (to lower my body temperature for the reading) was more than a bit unpleasant (a six), but it was fast, it was handled very professionally and I’m glad I did it.
Ultimately my credo is that everyone has to make their own informed health decision, but the key is, make it informed.Until today I was hell bent on ditching the mammo and only going with the thermogram, now? I’ll do both until one day I can opt out of the radiation the mammo gives off and go with the MRI.
Gautherie M, Gros CM.. “Breast thermography and cancer risk prediction.” Pol Arch Med Wewn March 2010.
Jay, Edward, Thermogram Assessment Services, “Winning the Battle Against Breast Cancer.”
Kennedy DA, Lee T, Seely D. “A comparative review of thermography as a breast cancer screening technique.” Integrative Cancer Therapies,2009 Mar;8(1):9-16.
Plotnikoff G, Carolyn T. ”Emerging controversies in breast imaging: is there a place for thermography?” Minnesota Medicine 2009 Dec;92(12):37-9, 56.
Copyright Laura Owens. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.
I probably have every massage tool known to mankind at home. I think a good massage is a one of the best physical and mental stress and strain relievers, so I treat myself every few months.
The price is worth the return, times ten.
Medical practitioners often prescribe one type of massage therapy for patient’s with ongoing physical or emotional pain due to injury, trauma or illness. Yet the most effective massage treatment for chronic pain may be a multi-disciplinary or integrative approach, as well massage sessions that engage the patient in the healing process.
Integrative Massage Therapy
Integrative massage offers a more holistic approach to massage therapy, applying a technique according to the kind that will work on various issues in the body (and mind).
During the first session therapists generally gather detailed information about their client’s medical history and past treatments. This lets them tailor the therapy to their patient’s specific physical and emotional needs. They avoid a “one size fits all” massage approach and instead use multiple modalities, borrowing from a wide variety of cultures and practices.
Integrative massage therapists don’t try to diagnose medical conditions, nor do they rely on a client’s current diagnoses to steer the course of treatment. Instead they listen to their client’s symptoms and apply the technique(s) they feel will most effectively address the issues. The therapist serves as a kind of healing “detective,” so to speak, working to pin point the physical and potentially emotional causes behind the patient’s chronic pain.
Integrative Massage Therapy Treats A Number of Chronic Health Conditions
The cause of chronic unexplained pain is complex, yet depending on the condition, integrative massage therapy can effectively treat or alleviate symptoms in a variety of conditions such as:
- Repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel or tendonitis. *(I like Biofreeze for muscle pain. It gives cold therapy when you can’t bother with an ice pack.
- Poor posture issues
- Unexplained chronic pain in soft tissue/musculoskeletal system
- Accident or sports injuries
- Cancer patient pain management
Integrative Massage Therapy Empowers the Patient
Integrative massage can be very empowering to the patient and a good integrative massage therapist will explain to her patient that she is merely a facilitator to the client’s own ability to heal. Some therapists use positive words and affirmations during sessions to help “re-program” their client’s response to pain and treatment.
In addition, integrative massage therapists often teach their patients an at-home therapy plan that may include cardiovascular and targeted strengthening and stretch exercises, as well as pain and stress management tips. This approach can be quite encouraging for chronic pain sufferers who may been told for years their pain is “all in their head,” were regularly misdiagnosed or have been at the mercy of the traditional medical establishment with no relief.
Integrative Massage Therapies For Chronic Pain
Integrative massage therapists combine any of a number of techniques to relieve chronic pain depending on the patient’s symptoms and the therapist’s certification in a particular massage modality. Some of the common massage modalities used in the treatment of chronic pain include:
- Neuromuscular therapy
- CranioSacral therapy
- Myofascial release
- Trigger point therapy
- Lymphatic drainage
- Orthopedic massage
- Massage for cancer patients
Integrative Massage Therapy vs. Medical Massage
The term “medical or therapeutic massage” is sometimes used interchangeably with the term integrative massage. Integrative simply implies using a multi-disciplinary massage approach to treat medical conditions. James Waslaskin in his 2004 online article on Massage Today entitled, “Defining Medical Message,” explains that “Medical massage is performed with the intent of improving conditions or pathologies that have been diagnosed by a physician; a wide variety of modalities or procedures are utilized to focus the treatment based on the diagnosed condition.”
Match The Chronic Pain Condition With the Right Kind Of Massage
Any hands on massage work that manipulates soft tissue structures of the body in order to prevent and alleviate pain, discomfort, muscle spasm, stress and promotes health and wellness is beneficial.
If a patient is suffering with from chronic pain the may not want to limit their massage treatments to those that strictly feel good but may not have much healing or long term curative effect. Instead they should find an experienced integrative massage therapist who has the skills to assess which treatments are the most effective for their particular medical conditions.
Copyright Laura Owens. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.