We’ve all heard how a natural approach to food is the best. We know that we shouldn’t eat high fructose corn syrup. We’ve all wondered if we should be buying free range chicken eggs. We’ve visited local farmer markets to pick up local produce. We understand that there needs to be a natural approach when it comes to our food. But what about a natural approach to our medicine? While a conventional medical approach has been working miracles for the past 50 years, we have lost a little of our magic for healing our bodies, not just treating the illness.
There are many natural and alternative approaches to illnesses and autoimmune diseases that, unfortunately, are not used now days. Healing our whole bodies is so much more complicated than just eliminating the symptoms to a disease.
To explain the Natural approach to chronic pain completely, an understanding of two philosophical models needs to be explained. My approach to treating patients follows the philosophical model of naturopathy. This model identifies a disease and works with the healing mechanisms of the body to bring about a cure. Its main focus is to identify the cause of the disease and stimulate the bodies’ own healing mechanisms to eliminate the disease. The philosophical model that most conventional Doctors follow is allopathy. This model identifies the disease and uses treatments like drugs or surgery to suppress the symptoms of the disease. If the symptoms of the disease are eliminated the disease is cured in the allopathic model.
So when I talk about using a natural approach towards chronic pain, I follow the philosophical model of naturopathy. I would treat chronic pain first by looking for the causes of chronic pain. The main causes of chronic pain are food sensitivities, ligament laxity, neuropathic pain, oxidative stress, increased intestinal permeability, and hormonal imbalance. To do this, I would take a thorough history, physical exam, and order laboratory tests to identify the cause of the chronic.
Explanation of the Causes of Chronic Pain
Food sensitivities: There are many foods that people can be sensitive to and the main symptom of food sensitivities is wide spread pain. Food sensitivities are different than a food allergy. People with food allergies usually have instantaneous reactions to the food right after eating, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, rash etc. Food sensitivities don’t have an immediate reaction after eating the food. It can take several hours or days for symptoms to present and they are more subtle. They do not show up in conventional food allergy testing, because the tests used look at the IgE allergic response (the instantaneous response) and not the IgG4 immune response (the slow response).
Ligament laxity: The body is constantly under physical stress and trauma with walking, running, twisting, picking things up etc. This places stress on the ligaments in the body and stretches them out, so they are looser than they use to be. A good example of this is a rubber band. The rubber band is strong and tight when it is new and hasn’t been stretched. When the rubber band is stretched over and over it doesn’t go back to how it was when it was new, because it has lost some of its elasticity. This is what happens to our ligaments over time. When the ligaments become loose it causes the joints to not be in proper alignment. When the joint isn’t in proper alignment wear and tear occurs on the cartilage and decreases the cushion in the joints. The loosening of the ligaments and degeneration of cartilage leads to joint pain all over the body. This is common in the knees, shoulders, hips, low back, and neck.
Neurogenic Inflammation: The body has many nerves in the skin which can be damaged and become inflamed with trauma or over stretching of the body. When these nerves become inflamed they produce chemicals that send a constant pain signal to the brain. Many times when these nerves become inflamed the pain is severe and a definite location can’t be identified.
Oxidative Stress: The body is constantly experiencing oxidative stress and the body usually has mechanisms to deal with this stress. Many individuals with chronic pain have a defect in a gene for the production of the enzyme 5MTHFR. This enzyme is needed for the production of the amino acid methionine, which is needed for various mechanisms in the body. A defect in this gene is quite common, which can lead to deregulation of inflammation in the body and leads to wide spread pain throughout the body.
Increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut): The understanding of how increased intestinal permeability leads to chronic pain is quite complex. I will give the most simplified explanation that I can give. Increased intestinal permeability occurs when the intestinal wall is damaged by continual use of pain killers, antibiotics, heart burn medications, and many others. This damage decreases the intestine’s ability to keep certain constituents of food from leaking out of the intestines, which is where this condition has gotten its nick name “leaky gut”. When these food constituents have leaked out, the immune system sees it as foreign and starts to attack the foreign material. Because of the constant stimulation of the immune system, the body also attacks normal tissues in the body. This leads to a wide spread inflammatory response. This inflammatory response that occurs can lead to pain all over the body.
Hormonal Imbalance: A deregulation of hormones in the body leads to various symptoms and one of these symptoms is wide spread pain. The major hormones that are involved are the thyroid hormone, cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. A decreased production of thyroid hormone and cortisol leads to inflammation and the sensation of pain. Many women have too much estrogen being produced and too little progesterone being produced. This can be the cause of many symptoms one of the consequences of this in women is chronic pain.
As we can see, there are multiple causes of chronic pain. While we would all love to have a quick fix that works for everyone, our bodies are a lot more complicated than that. It takes a trained professional to know exactly what the cause is and the treatment protocol for your pain. But there is hope for individuals with chronic pain. Who knows, it may be just as easy as not eating eggs.
For a more information and treatment of chronic pain and other conditions a consultation with the author Dr. Jacob Schmutz, a specialist in natural and alternative medicine, can be made by visiting our appointment page.
Why are so many people sensitive to Gluten? March 02 2015
It seems like it just keeps on getting more popular. Most restaurants now offer gluten-free meals, and a lot of grocery stores have gluten-free products. But, is there a legitimate reason for this trend?
While gluten-free products and services are indeed a fast growing trend, there might actually be some truth behind this movement. So, why now, after thousands of years of wheat consumption, are there so many people developing an allergy? I have asked myself the same question. I have seen many patients with severe illnesses such as autoimmune disease, IBS, and many others improve a great deal with the elimination of foods that contain gluten. I have wanted a reasonable and understandable reason why this is the case. Through my studies I have come up with 6 possible reasons why people are becoming more sensitive to gluten now than before.
6 Possible Reasons for Gluten Sensitivity:
1. In 1994 the hybridization of wheat began. Hybridization is different than genetically modifying a food. It entails choosing particular strains of a plant with desirable characteristics, and breeding them to increase the characteristics desired. Now wheat contains 40% more gluten than it did before 1994. Gluten is difficult to digest and increasing the gluten content makes it very difficult for many people to tolerate. Also, changing a protein slightly can lead to drastic immune reactions in the body. This may not be a reason based on a research article by the department of agriculature stating that wheat now isn’t different than it was in the 1920s.
2. Could be related to altering the structure of the gliadin proteins. An example of this, is the Glia-alpha9 sequence that is associated with triggering the changes of celiac disease in HLA DQ8/2-positive people, has been increased in modern wheat, which wasn’t found in wheat before 1960.
3. Could also be related to the change in the structure of wheat germ agglutinin, the indigestible protein of wheat that has direct damaging effects to the intestinal lining.
4. Interestingly, genetically modified foods began in 1994. Even though genetically modified wheat isn’t sold commercially, many other foods are genetically modified like soy, corn, and canola. Genetically modifying a food entails a genome being altered through gene splicing in the laboratory. So, in simple terms it isn’t the same food as it was before. Since the food has been changed it is seen as foreign to the body leading to damage to the intestinal linining and other areas in the body by the immune system. The damage to the intestinal lining decreases the ability to keep larger undigested food particles from entering the blood stream and this leads to the immune system seeing it as foreign. So, whenever you eat those modify foods you have an allergic response. This could be an immediate or delayed allergic response. Damage to the intestinal lining leads to increased risk of acquiring a food allergy like gluten.
5. Many drugs may also be the culprit for increased incidence of gluten sensitivity and allergy. The 3 main drugs that could be causing the problem are pain killers like aspirin or ibuprofen, heart burn medication like omeprazole and cimetidine, and antibiotics. The pain killers cause damage to the intestinal lining leading to absorption of large food particles that aren’t supposed to be absorbed like I explained above. Heart burn medications block hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, which leads to poor digestion of food and poor destruction of bacteria found on food. Poor absorption of food leads to gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. Poor destruction of bacteria leads to bad bacteria replacing the good bacteria in the gut leading to a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which also leads to immune reactions and damage to the intestinal lining. Antibiotics kill off the good bacteria needed to absorb many nutrients and digestion of food. When good bacteria in the gut are gone it leads to bad bacteria taking up residence.
6. Food allergies and sensitivities may also be related to people eating wheat as their main source of grain in recent years and also to the increase of gluten in processed foods.
The link between Autism and Leaky Gut December 12 2014
Increased intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut is a major cause of autism. Leaky gut is caused by an insult that occurs to the gut that damages it. A healthy gut lining has tight gap junctions, which only allow certain sized particles to pass through it. This helps protect the body from poorly digested food or pathogens from entering the blood stream. When the gut becomes damaged by antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, steroids, acid blocking drugs, certain vaccines and poor diet the gap junctions are widened and allow particles to pass through the gut lining and get into the blood stream. This causes an imbalance of many systems in the body.
An important system that is affected is the immune system. When the poorly digested food particles are absorbed into the blood stream they are seen as foreign to the immune cells. The immune cells begin attacking these poorly digested food particles every time you eat. This leads to the immune system becoming overly hypervigilant. This leads to immune cells attacking normal tissues in the body. It also leads to many food sensitivities, which is common in autistic children. The brain can be attacked in autistic children by these immune cells and this can lead to many of their peculiar behaviors. Identification and treatment of leaky gut can improve autistic children’s behavior greatly.
For more detailed explanation about Autism and Leaky Gut and the integrative treatments available, as well as other conditions; a consultation with the author Dr. Jacob Schmutz, a specialist in natural and alternative medicine, can be made by visiting our appointment page.