No More ARG Zen – Alternatives For You

200 mg of ZenFor those of you following one of the Adrenal Plans, you will know about the brilliant anti-anxiety, cortisol-lowering Allergy Research Group Zen product. It’s worked for most like a dream. But it has just been delisted in the UK – aargh!! I wish they would stop doing this. The reason is because we now not allowed to sell straight GABA, it seems; a bit like we can’t have pure DHEA in the UK – which is actually not a bad thing in my book, but that is a whole other story.

I do actually prefer encouraging the body to make its own substances like oestrogen, cortisol, DHEA and GABA etc where possible because that way the body can decide how much it needs. Doing otherwise is a sort of form of HRT – a replacement therapy – rather than a boost the production therapy, like using 7 keto-zyme as a precursor for DHEA rather than too-strong-in-many-cases straight DHEA itself, for example or giving oestrogen or progesterone for hormone difficulties instead of checking and boosting the adrenals. That said, sometimes needs must and that’s when I’ve used it.

OK, so up to now, we have used straight GABA in Zen to increase GABA levels in the nervous system and brain. GABA is the key inhibitory neurotransmitter and is therefore very calming; some people call it the body’s Valium. Essentially, we were using it in cases of acute stress adrenal profiles to lower the stress levels and decrease the need for the adrenals to pump out cortisol – simply put: in a nutshell it was to lower stress levels when cortisol was high.

So, now Zen has gone, we need to find other ways of doing that. Obviously, it goes without saying that this is in addition to the usual lowering stress techniques like meditation, yoga, breathwork, controlling your blood sugar, ensuring magnesium levels (known to increase GABA itself) and your B vits.

The other thing we need to say is that I always prefer you do a neurotransmitter test and work with a practitioner when using these sort of things, please. These are complex supplements, designed to support and change brain levels of some key elements. Always best to know what you need rather than just stick stuff in.

So, that said, here is a list of your possible alternatives and I will change the Adrenal Plans accordingly for you too. I offer a few ideas so that you can choose what might suit you best. As always, start low and build up, trial to see how you get on and follow all the manufacturer’s – and your practitioner’s – instructions.

A straight alternative for now to Zen would be Quicksilver GABA with L Theanine, exactly the same as Zen but half the strength. Four pumps equals one capsule of Zen. I assume that will go soon too. Not TGF. You can find a lot more info on it here.

Next best, and the one I will be using in the Adrenal Plans, is NeuroScience Kavinace which includes what GABA is made from in the body plus taurine, which is also a known precursor for GABA production. TGF safe – yay! Here’s a bit more info on this one for you:

Neuroscience Kavinace 120 caps combines two powerful ingredients that together effectively address symptoms of stress, anxiousness, and sleep issues. This formula contains the GABA derivative 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid, which easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and acts as a GABAB agonist.*1 Kavinace also contains taurine, which functions as a calming amino acid.* Taurine is a GABAA agonist and may increase GABA levels by increasing synthesis, preventing breakdown, and blocking reuptake of GABA.*2-4 Kavinace also includes vitamin B6, an important cofactor for the synthesis of GABA.

It’s a highly specialist product that one so not cheap. If you need a cheaper alternative, you could of course take Taurine or L-Theanine on their own.

Taurine is often used at 500mg twice a day on an empty tum to support GABA production. It’s the most often used supplement for GABA-calming. ARG do a 500mg version here. TGF.

Or, Higher Nature do L-Theanine 100mg. There was 100mg per capsule in Zen. TGF.

Interestingly, L-Theanine works partly by blocking glutamate receptors but can raise dopamine so if it makes you feel more anxious, I’d be testing your neurotransmitters to see if your dopamine is high – which it can be in CSS (central sensitivity syndrome) – ME/FM, chronic pain and sensitivity type patients, take note.

Finally, when I moaned at ARG, who are acutely aware of most of my TGF patient needs by now!, they reminded me that liver is a precursor food for GABA. So, munch more liver or take a liver product – I’ve actually got some of this to try myself for other reasons, but haven’t dared yet as I can’t stand the stuff ;).

Anyway, I have partly shared all this with you so you can make choices, but also to show you what exactly goes on in my day to day life of creating these plans and protocols for you! It’s not as easy as you might think – especially when the rules keep changing!

To finish: you might find this article useful if you are suffering anxiety as it gives a good overall rundown of what to do and consider:

How to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

And see my factsheet on Stress, Anxiety & Depression here.

Hope that helps; I’m off for a lie down! Meantime, here is the info on recommended suppliers if you need it – I just remembered that right at the end!

New Mycotoxins Mould/Mold Toxins Test

Aflatoxins

At last, I have managed to get my hands on the RealTime Labs Mycotoxins test for you and have listed it on the shop. Not cheap by any means but, since inhaled mould toxins have been linked to quite a few chronic diseases in recent years, it might be money worth spent to check it out of your illness is not resolving and you suspect it.

Here’s the blurb on the shop section for you and you can get the test here.

Mycotoxins (Mould/Mold toxins) Test

In recent times, quite a few studies have been suggesting that chronic diseases including lupus, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia can be triggered or exacerbated by toxins released and inhaled from indoor moulds (molds).

I have now managed to list the RealTime Lab’s urinary Mycotoxins Test, which looks for the top 15 mould toxins. You can see a sample report here. Do also read the lab FAQ on it here too which has some really useful info about sample collection and other stuff. Not cheap but could provide some really important answers for you. This is done via a UK lab so no need to send to the US.

Next, here is some useful info on the test and the various moulds and toxins they release for you:

What are Mycotoxins?
There are estimated to be over 50,000 different species of mold, but only about 200 present serious health risks to humans or animals. These harmful species are referred to as toxic mold and are potentially hazardous because they can produce toxins known as mycotoxins. 

The mycotoxins discussed here are the Trichothecenes, Aflatoxins, Ochratoxins, Gliotoxin, Chaetoglobosins and Sterigmatocystin. Where conditions are right, fungi proliferate into colonies and mycotoxin levels become high. Toxins vary greatly in their severity: some fungi produce severe toxins only at specific levels of moisture, temperature or oxygen in the air; some toxins are lethal; some cause identifiable diseases or health problems; some weaken the immune system without producing symptoms specific to that toxin; some act as allergens or irritants, and some have no known effect on humans. 

Trichothecenes are evaluated by using Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA).  The test at RTL has been validated as a qualitative test.  Thus, RTL reports whether tricothecenes are PRESENT or NOT PRESENT. 

Aflatoxins are evaluated using ImmunoSorbant Columns containing antibodies to the group of aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, and G2).  Results are reported as PRESENT or NOT PRESENT.

Ochratoxin A is evaluated using immunoSorbant Columns containing antibodies to the Ochratoxin A.  Results are reported as PRESENT or NOT PRESENT.

Health Problems Associated With Molds and Mycotoxins
Mycotoxins are well documented for their toxic effects on the human cell, causing a number of problems in normal cell function and association with a wide variety of clinical symptoms and diseases:

  • Kidney Toxicity
  • Immune Suppression
  • Autism
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Depression
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Acute Pulmonary Haemorrhage
  • Aplastic Anaemia
  • Birth Defects

Who Should Be Tested?
In light of the above, if you believe someone’s health may be compromised by exposure to mold, it may be worth having the person tested using the RealTime Lab Mycotoxin Panel.

How Are They Tested?
The Mycotoxin Panel is a urinary sample, but sputum, nasal washes and tissues biopsy specimens have also been validated. Patients must be referred for the RealTime Labs by a physician or healthcare professional. If mold or mycotoxins are found to be present, the ordering healthcare professional is notified by our Medical Director.

Testing is done using competitive ELISA, a very sensitive detection method using antibodies prepared against mycotoxins. RealTime Labs has been granted a U.S. patent for its macrocyclic trichothecene test. All mycotoxin testing results are displayed in an easy-to-understand numeric format, showing detection levels in ppb as standardized by the FDA, WHO, CDC and Food Industry for clinical use. Results also tell if the test was positive, negative or equivocal, along with ranges of detection for each.

 

 
 
 
Aspergillus flavus

Aspergillus flavus
Mycotoxin; A. flavus produces aflatoxins, the most toxic and potent hepato-carcinogenic natural compounds ever characterized. There are four major Aflatoxins: B1, B2, G1, G2. Aflatoxin B1 is the most potent carcinogen and is the major mycotoxin produced by A. flavus.

Aspergillus ochraceus

Aspergillus ochraceus
Ochratoxin A has been shown to interfere with cellular physiology in multiple ways. It inhibits synthesis of phenylalanine t-RNA complex, inhibits mitochondrial ATP production, and stimulates lipid peroxidation.

Aspergillus niger

Aspergilus niger
Aspergillus nigeras has also been associated with urinary tract infections and bladder cancers. Ochratoxin has been detected in blood and other animal tissues and in milk, including human milk.

 
Penicillium verrucosum

Penicillium verrucosum
Penicillium verrucosum has also been associated with urinary tract infections and bladder cancers. Ochratoxin has been detected in blood and other animal tissues and in milk, including human milk.

Stachybotrys chartarum

Stachybotrys chartarum
Stachybotrys chartarum is the well-known “black mold” seen in many water damaged buildings. It produces a number of highly toxic macrocyclic trichothecenes.

Aspergillus fumigatus

Aspergillus fumigatus
A. fumigatus is frequently found in homes and buildings. It is considered to be an opportunistic pathogen, meaning it rarely infects healthy individuals, but is the leading cause of invasive aspergillosis (IA) in immunocompromised individuals such as cancer, HIV or transplant patients. A. fumigatus produces Gliotoxin, an immunosuppressive mycotoxin.

 
Chaetomium globosum

Chaetomium globosum
C. globosum is a common indoor fungal contaminant of water damaged homes or buildings. It is found on wet drywall, wall-paper, carpets, window frames and baseboards. Like Stachybotrys, C. globosum spores are relatively large and due to their mode of release are not as easily airborne as other molds. Mycotoxins produced by C. globosum include chaetoglobosin A & C.

Fusarium sp.

Fusarium sp.
More than 50 species of Fusarium have been identified. Most are plant pathogens and can infect crops such as wheat, barley, oats and other feedstuff, where they can produce simple trichothecene mycotoxins such as T-2 and DON.

A. versicolor

Aspergillus versicolor
A. versicolor is one of the most frequently found molds in water damaged buildings. Spores of A. Versicolor are detected and quantified in the ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) test by Real Time PCR. A. versicolor is known to produce a mycotoxin called sterigmatocystin.

 Ooer. Have a look in the Specific Conditions Tests section here.

New Cheaper AutoImmune Test

test iconMany of you have been asking how to test for autoimmunity processes going on in your body lately. I direct you usually to your doctor for an overall screen, where they might do ANA (antinuclear antibodies) usually to see if there is a general sign of autoimmune disease such as lupus, RA or hepatitis there.

Or I direct you to Cyrex 5, the really super-duper disease-specific autoimmune test which is beyond many of you at well over £500. Very useful if you need those specific markers, of course, and can be life-saving in fact.

But, what if you need something in-between: a more comprehensive ‘general’ look and a few common specific autoimmune disease markers such as adrenal, stomach acid, intestinal, liver etc?

Well, before Cyrex launched their tests, I invented my own to approximate them as they took so long in coming! One of those was a general autoimmune screen called MR1 and today I have reinstated it as I think it is still needed. I got the lab to dust the info off, give me an up to date price and voila, it is now on the shop for you.

See here on the Gluten, Cyrex & Autoimmunity Tests section.

Here’s the blurb I’ve written for the Autoimmunity bit:

Autoimmunity

We know that gluten is the only common denominator found so far in autoimmune disorders, which is really exciting info! Coeliac disease is an autoimmunity attack on the absorptive villi in the gut, hence the problems that come with CD illness. But that is what we know and have studied. Other people have autoimmune thyroid or adrenal issues, ovarian attack (infertility is common in GRDs), skin diseases, reactive arthritis, psoriasis etc etc. The list goes on.

First, check if autoimmune disease markers are present: I have invented my own ‘general marker’s autoimmunity screen, much cheaper than some of the Cyrex ones to start you off. This is a general ‘can we find evidence easily of autoimmune disease going on?’ test with some specific autoimmune disease types I see a lot included.

Use MR1 Autoimmune Screen if it covers what you need. It includes Thyroid Peroxidase, Thyroglobulin Antibodies, Antinuclear Antibodies, Mitochondrial Abs, Smooth Muscle, Gastric Parietal (stomach eg. for acid and intrinsic factor/B12), Reticulin, LKM, Islet Cell (pancreas), Adrenal, Ovarian and Testicular. Not bad, huh!

Use Cyrex 5 for a really comprehensive autoimmune screen, Cyrex 6 for diabetes, Cyrex 7 or 7X for the neurological autoimmunity screen, Cyrex 8 for joint autoimmunity and Cyrex 20 for blood-brain.

Next, consider if pathogens are causing your issues. Cyrex 12 assesses IgG immune reactivity to pathogens that are documented triggers or exacerbators of autoimmunity and chronic disease. The test looks for IgG antibodies to various pathogens including oral pathogens, gastrointestinal parasites, bacterial and stealth pathogens, environmental moulds (molds), viral pathogens and tick-borne pathogens – you can see all of them here. If an IgG antibody is present, it doesn’t show a current infection, but it suggests there is a hidden or latent pathogenic problem that may well be causing you problems or acting as a trigger.

It can also be a good idea to consider levels of known toxic chemicals in your system. Could you have a high levels of something like glyphosate (Round Up) in your system that is triggering cross-reactivity to organs and tissues maybe or messing about with your gut flora, hormones etc? To check that, see the Glyphosate and GPLTOX tests here and maybe also check Cyrex 11 for any clues that you are immunologically reacting to any of the most common ones. In other words, you can now check for presence and immune reaction to them.

For much more on this whole complex field, do read the TGF site in Resources above, and download the Gluten Plan for full testing and treatment protocols. You can read much more about the Gluten Plan here.

Note: I am just about also to list the new RealTime Labs Mycotoxins Test which measures the 15 most common toxins coming from indoor moulds (molds). It’s not cheap but at least we can get it now if you need it as some of you have been asking. Watch this space.

Hope it helps.

Coeliacs Suffer Neurological and Mood Disorders Too: The Researchers Catch Up..

Ooh, we could have told them this about 6 years ago at least couldn’t we? However, it is nice to see published research backing up the fact that coeliac disease is not ‘just’ a gastrointestinal disorder; it affects us psychologically and neurologically too. And that’s to say nothing of the people who have NCGS (non coeliac gluten sensitivity). As the researchers say:

A gluten-free diet (GFD) could avoid cerebellar ataxia, epilepsy, neuropathies, migraine and mild cognitive impairment…. Common psychiatric symptoms in untreated CD adult patients include depression, apathy, anxiety, and irritability and schizophrenia is also common in untreated CD..

Have a read here of the abstract:

The progression of coeliac disease: its neurological and psychiatric implications.

One of the reasons I started this TGF stuff was the very fact that I kept seeing coeliacs on the traditional GF diet still having these kind of symptoms (including me: migraine, brain fog, restless legs etc). When you remove all sources of gluten, and not just gliadin, some get better. Simple as. When you also treat for autoimmune pathology and barrier hyper-permeability, even more do.

Just sayin’..

Source: Foodsmatter e-news.

New Glyphosate (RoundUp) and Chemicals Tests Listed

I have just listed the GPL Glyphosate and 168-chemical GPLTOX tests for you as many of you have been requesting them.

I’ve popped them on the Specific Health Conditions tests section of the shop – which is getting rather large now and may need splitting soon, eek! So far, it covers

Cardiovascular, Osteoporosis, Detox & Methylation, Infections, Immunology and Oxidative Stress. And now Chemical Exposure.

You can see that section here:

Specific Health Condition Tests  Specific Health Condition Tests

Here’s the blurb on the new chemical tests for you:

Chemical Exposure Tests

Exposure to – and sensitivity to – many toxic chemicals can cause or exacerbate many conditions. One of the major culprits currently suspected is Round Up (glyphosate), the most widely used herbicide in the world, which WHO classifies as a carcinogen, and which studies show affect the microbiome in the gut and much more. 

As such, I have listed the glyphosate and GPLTOX tests from Great Plains Labs (GPL) for you. The latter tests an impressive 168 chemicals and you can add on, or do singly, the glyphosate. Both simple urine tests but very important ones. 

I would then also be tempted to look at the Cyrex 11 to check if you are producing antibodies to any of the most common ones. That way, you have checked exposure and levels in the system and if you are immunologically reacting to any of them, if you see what I mean. You could then be cross-reacting ie. the body sees a chemical and cross-reacts to tissues and organs known to be linked with that chemical. It’s an evolving science in autoimmune world.

Hope it helps

New Year Healing: My Daily Plan

naturopathy symbolIf you read my first post of the year (and well done if you did; it was massive!), then you’ll know that I am focusing on my physical body this year, having done tons on my brain retraining and subconscious work the last two years. My poor little physical body feels a bit left behind and needs a bit of TLC and rebuilding now.

Some of you asked me to share what I plan to do so here it is for you. This will evolve, I have no doubt and, as you’ll see, the physical work needs to be dovetailed with the work to keep my amygdala desensitised and new brain neural pathways strengthening so I can maintain my food reintroductions! It also needs to fit in around my work if I am to develop this chronic illness work the Universe seems to have chosen for me!

From a physical perspective, the aim is primarily to start encouraging better lymphatic flow, tissue and organ oxygenation, muscle flexibility and strength. I also have a feeling I am still holding trauma in the muscles and that needs to be released.

Time was when I was really strong, fit and lean, worked out several times a week with free weights and in the gym and had powerful upper body strength from all the massage and manipulation work I was doing in-clinic. Now, I feel weak, tight and congested much of the time.

I sit on my backside most of the day writing, reading and answering questions. When I was really thin, I had to sit on a few cushions as it was so bony-painful. I also had to wear lots of warm clothes as I was so cold. Now, the food is going back in and the pounds are piling back on.

This is to be expected – when the body has been in starvation mode for as long as mine has, it will happily cling onto every calorie you give it for a while until it feels it can trust you again. That’s a survival mode switch and there’s no getting around it. If you restrict your food intake, for whatever reason, the body just gets more efficient at storing and using what you do give it as fat mainly. That’s why food restriction diets don’t work.

Women are especially good at this. We are the ‘feeders’ of the babies; it’s our job to keep the species going, if you like, and we hold more fat deliberately so we can continue producing enough hormones to have and feed babies during the leaner, scarce-food times.

Anyway, I am being kind to my body and giving it some TLC and a year to get used to me eating again. Which it will.

The importance of Self-care

Image result for messy hair cartoonWhen we are in chronic illness mode, we tend to ‘give up’ on our physical bodies; we distrust it, don’t like it, blame it, even hate it. I know I did. That often translates into self-sabotage types of behaviour, which of course can be horrific for some souls, but it can very commonly be seen in simply avoiding looking after yourself in the ways you used to.

Part of this next healing phase for me is to restart some of those. I’ve had my hair done into a new style – braving a big proper hair salon with smells n everything – started massaging oil into my nails which are as dry, ridged and bumpy as sandpaper and today treated myself to some ‘proper’ hair products and bugger the chemicals. I used to model my hair, for goodness’ sake, and my family will testify to some of the weird and wonderful hairstyles I’ve had -including very high sticky-up ones, pink, sponged-green and even an M shaved into my hair. Oh yes, I had fun.

Someone said to me the other day that I’d had the same hair style ever since he’d known me. That is NOT good. I realised during this last decade or so of illness, I had barely even looked at my hair really, so I vowed to start with that in my self care and now I have.

I used to LOVE having long baths with a glass of wine, some music or a good book. In fact, I used to finish work, get straight in the bath and call friends or family for a chat. It was my ME time. Then, I started reacting to the bath products in the water, then to the water itself, then I had panic attacks even getting into filtered non-chlorinated water.

Recently, I have been able to start having baths again. The first few resulted in panic attacks. The next few I meditated and WHEE’d in the bath (I just wanted to say that!) to tell myself I was safe. Then I had plain baths and, today, I am up to ones with Faith in Nature bubble bath, a candle and a glass of wine (sometimes). To treat myself and celebrate my bath progress, today I used a voucher from my birthday to buy this bamboo bath rack:

Bliss.

Anyway, I share all that to illustrate the self-care point. This is all part of the physical body healing plan for this year. To make friends with my body again.

checklist iconDaily Healing Plan

So, here is my daily plan, such as it is, in case it helps you – I’ll point out all the new stuff too as I know it gives some of you hope and you ask me to (stop press: coming back here after I have written this post, I have even astounded myself at the number of new things!!):

Wake. Hot water and lemon (new) or ginger (new) or a coffee (bean to cup)

Breakfast: Smoothie with fruit, slowly adding greens (new), banana, a date (new), almonds (new), brazil nuts (new) and sometimes cashews (new), flaxseeds (new) and pumpkin seeds (new) all blitzed up with RO water (not got tap yet) in my blender. I make enough for one and a half big glasses. I might add supplements in to it as I get to them. I currently spray magnesium oil (new) on after a shower and have started working on adding the TGF core supplement protocol (new). I also want to add some spice like turmeric and have got some fresh root ready for the purpose.

Image result for Qi gong

Before starting work: if it’s raining, I do a 10 or 20 minute morning, energising Qi Gong routine. If it’s fine, I walk up and down the road, which involves two steep hills and a glorious view of the sea, more than enough to set you up for the day! If I’m having a crap, poorly day, meditation for 20 minutes. If I have a migraine, I can’t meditate; I lie down and read, watch Homes under the Hammer or sleep, depending on how bad it is!

Mid-morning: drink the other glass of smoothie. I am perpetually hungry – I assume to do with the insulin control loss of PCOS and the gluten related disorder causing malabsorption. I need to eat very frequently or I will fall over. Or kill P. If I’m really starving, I need more fat so I might add half an avocado and re-blitz.

More work til lunch.

Lunch varies. Usually omelette or egg-based (new) or left overs from the night before. Often fresh mackerel or fish from the harbour. I am trying to get back to salad. I went off it for a long while because of my mouth pain. You’d think chewing leaves would be easy, right? Nope. The grinding motion was really painful a lot of the time so I just stopped and ate soft, non-grindy foods instead – loads of cooked root veg and fish mainly. Even things like spinach (grindy) or broccoli (couldn’t bite through it unless overcooked which I hated) had to be avoided because of the mouth pain. It might be a slice of roast beef now too (new). I’d love to get soups or casseroles or (please) curries in and I’m working on that.

I might have an apple (new) or a pear (new) to finish my lunch with something sweet.

After lunch is my most vulnerable time of the day. I have learned to just rest if I can. I often meditate for 20 minutes and then do some personal bits and bobs such as cooking, ordering stuff, putting the washing on, looking stuff up etc.

I am ALWAYS hungry about half an hour after I have eaten lunch. I haven’t worked this one out. Adrenal crash maybe from the exertion of digestion or gastric dumping syndrome I’ve had suggested to me, but haven’t worked on yet (part of this year!). It doesn’t matter what I’ve eaten; it always happens.

I’ve tried everything. Nothing works like 2-3 squares of really dark chocolate (new). Maybe it is a magnesium need. (I just thought that as I wrote it as a craving for chocolate is often a magnesium need). Anyhow, that’s what I do. When I couldn’t have the chocolate, it was a nightmare; I’d feel like I was going to collapse to be truthful. I recall P had to have the chocolate ready for me to pop out of a clinic appointment with a patient and give it to me as soon as he saw my pale face run into reception lol. Poor P. When I couldn’t have the chocolate – or a magnesium spray or any supplements – my saviour: plaintain crisps came to the rescue. I somehow needed fat and the salt which is what makes me feel it is to do with my adrenals. I swear those crisps stopped me losing even more weight. I still have some occasionally in the afternoon.

Image result for hibiscus teaBack to work. I am trying a cup of tea here (new). I have so far had Golden Monkey black tea – very gentle. I have several new ones to try and started with hibiscus flowers today, bright red colour and bursting with Vitamin C. Focusing on anti-histamine and nourishing types such as lotus root, moringa and olive leaf as well as my faves like spearmint and licorice.

In this new year, after lunch and my break, I will be focusing on writing the Healing Plan and doing the chronic illness development work. That involves reading, listening, watching stuff and writing mostly. This year, part of my plan is to build up to going for a longer walk three times a week and listen to a training podcast. I have got several series saved up especially for this that I’m really looking forward to.

Of course, this has physical body benefits in terms of the walking, the fresh sea air and resting my eyes on the sheer beauty of where I am lucky enough to live. This increases lymphatic flow, oxygenation and muscle strength as well as overall cardio fitness. Listening to the podcasts is training, but it is also part of my neuroplasticity work to keep strengthening those new neural pathways that healing is not only possible, nor even probable; it is a question of time and putting the effort in. Listening to others’ stories and understanding how things went wrong for me – and many chronic illness sufferers – and how to turn it around is a big part of the therapy.

Sometimes, of course, it is best to use the walk as ‘movement meditation’ and just concentrate on what you’re seeing around you. It’s a balance and intuitive.

Come back in from walk. Check for any urgent emails, finish off anything needed. Once I’ve finished emails, if I’ve not done a walk, I will usually do a 10 or 20 minute evening Qi Gong routine to release stress. There are shaking exercises in this that I find really work for me; I feel miles more relaxed in the evening if I’ve done them.

Interestingly, so-called trauma release exercises usually involve muscle ‘shaking’ so I am starting with the Qi Gong routines, but may upgrade to TRE or psoas release exercises later on when I feel ready. These are specific methods of releasing stored trauma and stress from the body tissues. I have tried them but they are too strong for me currently. If I feel rubbish, I will have a bath or do some more meditation.

Go and have some tea. Nowadays, that could be fish or seafood, egg (new) or meat (new) with courgetti pasta (new), mini baked, jacket or boiled potatoes (boiled in tap water!)(new), mayonnaise (new) or tomatoes (new), mushrooms, cucumber (new) or root veg with greens such as spinach, broccoli or cabbage mostly. I might have a glass of wine (new) rarely if I feel like one – usually if I have a bath, see above!

I might then follow that later on when I’m watching the telly with a couple of squares of chocolate (new) or a portion of my current fave: a nut fruit crumble made using apples (new) and plums (new), ground pecans (new) and almonds (new) with either dates (new), coconut sugar (new) or honey (new) and a little grapeseed oil (new).

So, that’s the ideal and what I can do food and energy-wise so far. It doesn’t always work out like that, of course, for various reasons, mainly if I feel rubbish or have got loads of work on, but that’s what I am now aiming for most days.

And that’s a heck of a lot better than life has been I can tell you!

As I have said many times, you need to have a plan, you need to know what you’re aiming at and you need to put the work in to get better. This is not as simple as taking a pill, although if that’s all you can do for now, that is fine. Like me, maybe you can start with lying-down meditation and WHEE and, just by doing that, you will start to turn yourself around and point yourself in the right direction for wellness.

Image result for healthy and happy

For me: I am determined to keep all the ‘body balls’ as I think of them in the air. I need to keep the emotional trauma work going with the hypnotherapy, WHEE, CBT etc, maintain the mental, cognitive neuroplasticity work to strengthen those neural pathways, continue my ‘spiritual’ work with the meditation and connection to the Universe (the most weird and hardest for me to accept, but ultimately, the most change has come from this) and now add in the physical work to build nutrient levels and optimum physical functioning. Ultimately, this will also build into better social connections and stepping back out into the world as a fully-well person.

Just a wee bit to do there then – I swear this getting better lark is a full-time job!

This year, peeps – are you coming with me???

If It’s Not Gluten Per Se, Might It Be the ATIs in Grains?

grain iconFascinating studies starting to come out about different non-gluten proteins possibly being (one of) the causes or at least exacerbators of gluten related disorders.

The latest suggests that ATIs (amylase-trypsin inhibitors) – the stuff we’ve known for yonks block effective absorption – may yet turn out to be a major cause of NCGS (non coeliac gluten sensitivity). It may not (just) be the gluten in other words.

They found the ATIs in wheat (and possibly other grains):

can lead to the development of inflammation in tissues beyond the gut, including the lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen and brain. Evidence suggests that ATIs can worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, lupus and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as inflammatory bowel disease….

…Further to inflaming chronic health conditions outside of the bowel, ATIs may contribute to the development on non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

Interestingly, they also pointed out that these ATIs are present in commercial gluten products:

we demonstrated that ATIs from wheat, that are also contaminating commercial gluten, activate specific types of immune cells in the gut and other tissues..

Anyway, it’s good that we’ve actually got some studies going on (and being paid for!), but this is not exactly news. There have been many murmurings about ATI being the initial trigger for wheat sensitivity and coeliac disease for years. One interesting article I read was this one, written actually in 2014:

Celiac, Gluten and Trypsin Inhibitor

And this study was done in 2012:

Wheat amylase trypsin inhibitors drive intestinal inflammation via activation of toll-like receptor 4

They even end by saying:

Moreover, ATIs may fuel inflammation and immune reactions in other intestinal and nonintestinal immune disorders.

I feel the coming-on of a ‘gluten related disorders SYNDROME don’t you, where there are multiple factors and triggers causing an inflammatory and immunological reaction in the body? I would also not be surprised to find the same protein in the other grains has the same effect (it’s just that they’ve studied wheat here) and that they are cross-reactive, which could be a reason for why we need TGF (grain and dairy free) rather than traditional gluten free in NCGS sufferers and non-healing coeliacs.

The thick plottens…Have a read here of the report anyway:

New study links protein in wheat to the inflammation of chronic health conditions

Conclusion: lower/remove the inflammatory triggers, repair the barriers and support the immune system and health generally. See the Gluten Plan here.

What Next for Purehealth in 2017?

Image result for 2017 happy new year healthy  Happy 2017 to you all – here we go with another blank canvas to build on – SO exciting! Let’s start with my usual ‘state of the nation’ first post of the year..

I’ve been thinking an awful lot recently about where to take Purehealth in the next few years. I’m not quite there yet but, as per, I find if I write something down, it helps me think it through! Here’s a quick summary of what we’ve been up to in Purehealth Clinic world so far; it’s really interesting to see how it has evolved actually (to me, anyway) and I am aware we have a lot of new peeps who don’t know me from Adam, so I thought it might help. Many of you have been with me right from the start, which is lovely!

Simple beginnings

Gut PlanI started my natural medicine career with Holland & Barrett as a Saturday girl in 1988, would you believe, then, branch adviser, branch manager, then in head office troubleshooting for over 400 shops and in charge of customer service and PR/Communications for, eventually, the whole retail group.

After training in massage therapy and nutritional medicine, I spent from 1997 to 2010 seeing patients, writing and teaching on all aspects of natural medicine: physical and biochemical. At that point, cases seemed a lot less complex than they are today and I spent a lot of time on mainly gut health, TATT (tired all the time), blood sugar issues, weight maintenance, detox and what I would call ‘simple’ food intolerance (wheat and dairy mostly).

The vast majority of patients got better on my Gut Plan – the MOT allergen-removal, stomach acid support, gut and liver cleanse I started almost every patient off with and which solved most issues or at least let us see what we were left with. This still works today for a shed-load of people, of course. I dovetailed that with physical medicine as a massage/manipulative therapist and referred people to Philip for clinical hypnotherapy to help change habits, lower anxiety and unpick unhelpful beliefs. It was a system that worked well.

Getting more complex…

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From about 2008, I started getting more ‘complex’ cases through the door – what I term the unresolving chronic illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple-sensitivity, chronic pain, hormonal dysfunction – essentially multi-system disorders usually not responding to ‘normal’ mainstream or alternative treatments. That may well have been because I was mentioning them more and just that when you’re experienced, people tend to seek you out.

My sense, though, was there did seem to be a lot more people with more multi-layered issues somehow. Rather than just asking patients to trial off wheat and dairy free, I moved to gluten and dairy free and that seemed to help more people, so I started looking at gluten more in my own case and why it might be causing issues in the complex cases.

grain iconGluten

From about 2010, I started working on gluten related disorders as a possibility why many of us chronic illness peeps weren’t getting well and why many of us seemed to be so hyper-sensitive. After I’d fallen over with shock at what I discovered, I introduced the premise in early 2011 with my article No Grain, No Pain here, launched this TrulyGlutenFree site to write everything I was learning down and started work on the Barrier Plan to explain how gluten causes barrier breakdown and hyper-permeability and onward to hypersensitivity to food and chemicals, inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. I released that for you in early 2012 and it was well-received, thank goodness 🙂

For the rest of that year and 2013, I developed TGF versions of the normal Adrenal and Candida Plans, wrote the TGF Breakfasts book and started work on the TGF Supplements Master List as I realised I was simply ingesting my allergens and sparking inflammatory and autoimmune issues with the very stuff I was using to try and get well! You can see all the TGF ebooks etc here.

Gluten Plan

In 2014, I decided the time had come to stop doing 1:1 consults and use that saved time to write down everything I’d learned and all this research finally culminated in the new 300-odd page Gluten Plan which included my testing and treatment protocols. Again, this went down really well and continues to do well to this day, helping many people realise the probable reasons for their unrelenting illness and how to test and treat if they have a gluten related disorder and barrier hyper-permeability of the gut and/or brain.

More than TrulyGlutenFree

During that same year, I determined that a proportion of people were truly hypersensitive and even going TGF seemed not to be enough to trigger healing and stop symptoms. This included me! I’d gone so far with it but was still suffering more than I should have been given my really restricted diet. So, thinking I must still be really inflamed, I went AIP (autoimmune protocol diet) although it wasn’t called that then – I sort of did it naturally by removing all inflammatory and allergenic foods. This helped to an extent but I next decided to do an elimination diet to see what was still triggering my mouth pain, migraines and chronic fatigue.

Worst decision I ever made. I did feel better but I then couldn’t get any of the foods back in so was left on about 20 core foods until quite recently! Oops.

Healing: nil by mouth!

Brain iconThe one good thing that came out of this very scary time was that it did start me thinking about non-ingestive healing methods. By that, I mean what could I (we?) do to get ourselves well that didn’t involve ingesting foods, meds or supplements? Frankly, I’d had enough of the ‘cut it out’ approach and had very little left to cut out! I wanted a more positive healing approach rather than more deprivation, if you know what I mean. That was ultimately a very depressing life and it needed to stop, but then so did my symptoms. What more could I do? Even on fewer than 20 foods, my fatigue, mouth pain and migraine hadn’t gone. Improved, but not gone. I started again writing down everything I found useful about non-ingestive healing methods and the Healing Series on the blogs started.

Since then, I have been researching and trialling various ‘healing’ methods and not taken any supplements or meds, or changed my diet, to see if I could get well a different way. This has led to a huge learning curve. I learned about brain neuroplasticity, subconscious behavioural systems, ACE (adverse childhood events) and trauma-triggered illness, central sensitivity syndrome, the amygdala and loads more.

What’s causing a lot of chronic illness?

I have come to the conclusion that many of us with unrelenting chronic illnesses have a too-turned up amygdala or sensitivity mechanism in the brain triggered by epigenetic changes caused by trauma and neglect in both childhood and as adults mostly but not exclusively. Add to that subconscious thought patterns, beliefs and fear feeding on fear creating deep neuroplastic grooves that just get stronger every time you think the same things and you get hyper-sensitised type conditions:

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How many of those can you count? I think I have had 10 of them at some point! I first wrote about CSS here. Of course, it’s more complex than that and this won’t explain every case, but for the last year or so, I have been routinely asking people if they had any major stress or trauma in childhood or before the onset of the first symptoms of their current unremitting chronic illness. The numbers are HUGE, trust me. I am now much more surprised when someone says no than when they say yes. We need to wake up to this and start doing something about it.

The good news is that you CAN turn it around but, again trust me, it is not as easy as some people make out! It has taken time and dedication, but I have got much better at last. In the last six months, I have reintroduced a lot of foods and I feel I am somewhat approaching ‘normal’ health for a 50 year old! Sure, I’ve a way to go and have learned this is an evolving ‘journey’, but I am SO not the person I was health-wise even a year ago. How long have I wanted to be able to say that?!

Of course, now my task is to try and assess what I did that worked and put it into some kind of structure you can follow or that will at least help move you forward. Hence, I’ve started writing the Healing Plan, which is no mean feat as much of the work is instinctive and completely non-linear, not lending itself well at all to structure, but I’m having a go because so many of you have asked me to explain it and I can’t fully! Yet.

So, after all that: what now for Purehealth?

Clinic philosophy-wise, this has led me to trying now to develop a new Purehealth model of healing for chronic illness, if you like. There are lots of general models out there and I am now trying to fit what I did to them (proving very hard!) or adapt them and come up with something practical for you. This kind of thing but more specific, structured and practical that I can communicate and deliver in some way to more people – I’ll know it when I’ve done it 😉

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To get truly well from a persistent, unresolving chronic illness – of whatever type – we need to work on the brain and subconscious as well as – and sometimes before – we chase down the biochemistry with tests, meds and supplements. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I tend nowadays to ask people to do the healing work first and then see what they are left with that needs fixing biochemically then – ie. the adrenals, thyroid, methylation or whatever.

That’s the stage I am at now. I need to work on the physical body now that my emotional, cognitive and spiritual (for want of a better word) are much stronger. The mistake I think we can make is to start with the physical and I am finding it rarely works in these kind of cases. You can certainly shore up the body and improve symptoms but the biochemical stuff maybe has to come later than we think, and then will we in fact need as much of it by that stage – probably not.

The biggest lesson I have learned – or been reminded of actually – is that if you give your body the healing state it needs, change the way the brain is thinking about illness and remove the subconscious triggers, it has the power to turn itself around without so much biochemical work. This is a tough admit for a biochemist-trained medical nutritionist! But it’s the truth, certainly in many cases I am seeing, especially in hypersensitivity and central sensitivity syndromes like CFS, fibromyalgia, migraine, depression, anxiety disorders, chronic pain etc etc.

I am aware this sounds like it is simple: trust me, it is not! But, I have proven it does work so it merits my clinical focus I think now.

How the heck will I have time to do all that?

Business-wise, I managed to run a totally virtual service of test facilitation, analysis, support and resources from behind my screen when I was feeling ill much of the time. I retreated behind my screen because I had to – no-one wants help from a nutritionist who keeps cancelling on you because she herself is too ill!

It was a strategy that worked. In fact, it has worked a bit too well! Frankly, the test service, which I originally set up so that patients didn’t feel I had abandoned them when they needed repeat tests and I’d stopped 1:1 work, is so successful, nowadays it takes all my time.

Once I realised people still needed my help to sort their tests out, of course they also needed interp and protocol advice. I couldn’t do 1:1 work so I set up the A-Z of Health Factsheets on the Purehealth site and wrote Plans for the most common issues I was being asked about – Adrenal, Candida, Gut, Diabetes/Belly Fat/Weight Gain to name a few – and offered test reports. I also set up the Facebook Groups and Pinterest boards to encourage knowledge-sharing and positive peer group support (no whingeing allowed!).

It worked really well and I felt I had stumbled onto a service much earlier than most in my industry about how to support people effectively from afar rather than do a traditional bums on seats clinic. I missed the company obviously but business-wise it worked.

So, that’s how it still works today, more or less. I realised early last year (2016) that the test service and Facebook was essentially taking up most of my time – there is a lot of admin and emails to testing and I am a natural chatterbox on FB, as you know! So, I recruited Victoria to help run the test service and Christine (aka the research rottweiler) to help out on Facebook.

Christine is a whizz on FB and continues to answer the questions and point you to stuff before I’ve even logged on, bless her! The test support service worked beautifully initially, but then, very upsettingly (is that even a word?!) and essentially doubling my workload overnight, I had to end my association with Victoria with immediate effect 6 weeks or so ago, hence me having to work out now what we do next!

OK, so that’s where we are today. I don’t feel much like taking on another nutritionist and I can’t do everything myself – and neither should I be. I have almost 30 years’ experience now in natural medicine and I should be a ‘join the dots’ type of person, working on the chronic illness stuff I have learned about personally and professionally, not ‘farting about with test admin’ as someone so elegantly put it to me the other day 😉

I’m sure you see my point.

New year: new way of working

Image result for writer

So, some changes are afoot. Of course there are: it’s a new year and you know what I get like at this time of year by now – all excited at a new blank year to build and create on 🙂

Essentially, this year I plan to start becoming more of the researcher, writer and educator I should be at this stage. Thankfully, I no longer need to be the person hiding behind a screen – or an illness for that matter, yay! The big job is essentially now to combine all the work on TGF and non-ingestive healing into a useable, easy to communicate, deliverable model of healing that works. No mean feat. Why DO I do this to myself??!!

Not sure how it will all work but I will try to do less of the test service admin work somehow, possibly by recruiting an admin person rather than a nutritionist this time and/or producing resources to foster DIY interp as per the Plans and I have a few other ideas up my sleeve for you, of course, which I am working on.

The first job is to finish the Healing Plan I am writing about the ‘journey’ I took and point you to the resources I used and specifically how I used them. I’m almost finished – although I do keep thinking that and then thinking of something else to add! I’m hoping to have done that by the end of Jan (aha: accountability there ;))

After that, I will keep the clinic services running as per and spend more time researching and communicating about chronic illness and developing the model and resources for you eg. on diabetes, thyroid, heart disease etc as well as the syndromes mentioned earlier like FM, CFS, autoimmune diseases and multiple sensitivity. That’s the theory anyway!

alt medicine iconPersonal healing

A bit more on my own personal healing as I know many of you want to know..

This year, I am focusing on my physical body again whilst continuing the healing stuff. I’ve worked so hard to change my neural pathways and subconscious triggers, my physical body has been left behind somewhere and it needs renourishing, quite literally.

I am now turning back to the biochemistry of nutrient imbalance, methylation issues, hormones, liver – whatever I deem necessary – as well as improving physical fitness, muscular and lymphatic strength. I had to do the healing stuff first and now I can see the wood for the trees, work on what’s left and rebuild like the 6 Million Dollar Man (that takes me back!). I need all my ‘bodies’ in alignment – I’ve been working on the mental, emotional and spiritual bodies, if you like; now it is time to maintain those and bring the physical body up to match.

2017 will be the year the migraine and mouth pain goes for good and I step back out into the world properly as a ‘well’ person. I am determined!

So, exciting times and a lot of personal and clinic work ahead for 2017 then as per! I hope it will ultimately help you as well as me so let’s get to it – any thoughts or ideas, do share – we’re family. x

My Christmas Healing Gift To You..

To all my Purehealth family: thanks for being there and for being lovely this year.

My gift to you this season is some phrases to repeat as part of your brain retraining and healing strategy. It doesn’t matter if you don’t quite believe the words, say them anyway at any time when you feel you need reassurance or comfort.

In the early days, I used them an awful lot whenever I saw someone doing something or tucking into something I could no longer do or have, if I felt a symptom or worry coming on – ALL the time, basically!

Look at something nice in the room you find yourself in – the cat, hubby, a pretty teapot or cushion, a tree outside, a colour – whatever – and repeat these words to yourself:

I am OK, I am OK. Everything is OK. This will pass, this is temporary and it will go. It is already going and I am going to be fine. I will get well. I am OK. Everything is OK.

Breathe, repeat, smile even when you don’t feel like it as your brain doesn’t know the difference between a real smile or a fake one. I even used to go into the loo and say it to myself in the mirror!

Say some more..

I am OK. This too will pass and I will be fine. I am OK, all is well, this is from a past illness which is already going. I am getting well. I am fine. Nothing to worry about here. I’m fine. This will pass. It’s temporary.

Obviously, use words like that to suit you, but you get the point. Nope: I didn’t believe it was a past illness at that stage either but, trust me, your subconscious is listening and, if it hears it enough, it will start to believe it and it then starts coming true. Mad? Possibly. Work. Yes, it does, and here’s how I know:

This Christmas, to celebrate, I will be having glasses of champagne (or Cava, cos I’m tight!), chocolate Booja Booja truffles, hot chocolate made with soya milk, potatoes, gravy and beef. Eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast, plum nut & seed crumble and more besides.

Those are all new foods.

Even better, I will NOT be having a migraine or a mouth flare. I hope.

The best news to end the year with is that both have settled down a LOT despite all those new foods and (whisper it) I think the migraines are finally on the wane after 5 years of suffering them. Please God or whoever; I wouldn’t wish those on my worst enemy if I had one. SO debilitating.

I’ve a way to go yet, I know, but if you’d told me last Christmas that I’d be able to eat all that this year and not being having chronic fatigue, mouth flares and migraines etc as a result, I’d have laughed at you. But, I can and I will – even though when I started saying stuff like that to my subconscious yonks ago, I never believed it on a conscious level. Just goes to show you should do it anyway and trust me!

My first job in 2017 is to finally complete the Healing Plan so you can see exactly what I did. I’ve realised the reason it has taken me so long to write is because this healing lark evolves all the time and is FAR from linear. I have a way to go, it goes up and down, back and forth and I am just trusting my instincts to inch myself forward constantly. Trying to communicate how to do that is tough – but I’m almost there for you. Watch out for it in the new year and, in the meantime: Click to enjoy this year’s card

Happy Christmas – and here’s to us all making huge healing progress in 2017.

Get to it – you WILL get better. You’re OK. You’re OK. You’re OK 🙂

xxx

Lost, Sad, Fearful, Flat, Negative? Two-Step Programme for Happiness

I’ve felt all of those at some point or another and certainly when I was feeling really poorly most of the time. You can’t help but feel sad, fearful and negative when every day seems to be a struggle, can you? We’re only human.

What I learned was the the brain can easily get stuck in a negative-thinking loop; you think negative things and it becomes a deep neuroplasticity groove and you just become more and more sad, upset and fearful. It’s a fact of life that our brains can do that; we are primed to look for danger, but when it goes too far, you need to know you can stop that subconscious habitual loop and break the circuit. When I learned that – which, trust me, took a while! – it gave me such hope. I had something to focus on and do practically to help myself. I immediately became less of a victim.

Sure, it’s not as easy as taking a pill and it takes time and commitment but ultimately you end up as a much happier, more joyful, positive, strong and grounded person able to withstand life’s wobbles much more than you ever could before. I know because the latest ‘life wobble’ for me has only served to show me how strong at my core I really am now. That sounds so trite, I know, so forgive me, but ’tis true, so there 😉

Anyway, today I have updated the Stress, Anxiety and Depression Factsheet in the A-Z for you. I’ve been meaning to do it for ages. I’ve essentially recommended a two-step programme for you to follow to turn yourself around, much like I did.

The reason I’ve been spurred on to do it now is that I see the programme is on a really good offer until 5th December so save some money whilst you can! 

Here’s a bit of what I’ve written on that – now pretty long! – Factsheet:

Two Steps To Happiness

My recommendation for you is two-fold. I found this kind of combination therapy is the best approach as they work in different ways. 

First, seek out therapists who will help you, such as ‘our Julie’ on the Support Team, who helped me enormously. Preferably find someone who will do a mix of CBT and clinical hypnotherapy so you are really getting to the nub of what’s going on and can release any underlying subconscious and therefore hidden keys.

Have a free session with Julie and/or go the DIY route to start with at least until you feel ready for more. Download one of her self-hypnosis audios and do it every day for a month, then see where you go from there. 

Next, I also recommend this Foundations of Wellbeing Programme. It’s written by Dr Rick Hanson, who actually wrote Hardwiring Happiness and the Buddha Brain. I don’t actually like his written stuff that much, but this programme is fantastic. Click on the image for more about it.

It’s essentially a year-long programme that you work through to help un-do habitual ways of thinking and, most importantly, develop strength, joy and resilience instead of the negative bias our brains are primed for.

I know you think you’re not doing that: that’s what I thought! But, trust me, the subconscious has you by the short and curlies and part of the process is that you don’t know it – it’s subconscious, not at the conscious level, so why would you?! Took me ages to admit it.

Anyway, it is a brain science-based programme with talks and lectures from some of the best in the field, exercises for you to do and loads of stuff. I did it and found it excellent. I recall actually being astounded and crying at some of the content even in the first talk. I thought: blimey, these people have just described me. It made me feel less alone with it. 

In essence, if you feel sad, anxious, flat, wobbly, lost or out of control in any area of your life, do this. It works.

Read all about it here. Rick is definitely NOT in this for the money; he actually refunded mine as a gift for the work I do to help others, which he really didn’t need to do. That is a kind person.

OK, so this is for people who feel sad, negative, fearful, lost or basically unhappy mainly. Don’t continue feeling like that, please.

Do one or preferably both of these steps and think how much better you could be feeling in a few weeks but certainly by the start of 2018! You simply couldn’t give yourself a better start to 2017, so sort it out, treat yourself and feel better step by step.

Good luck x