The Correlation Between Food and Joint Pain.

Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN at Designs for Health

Patients with autoimmune diseases such as, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or Sjogren's disease are typically given protocol-driven treatments with limited success because an acute care model is given to a chronic problem while the underlying causes are never investigated.

The problem with this is everyone has their own unique biochemical individuality. This is a common problem with almost all autoimmune diseases. There is endless research on intestinal permeability, aka leaky gut. The gastrointestinal tract is 80% of our immune system. When inflammation is present, the tight junctions and intestinal mucosa can become damaged, causing gaps or "pores" in the lining of intestinal mucosa. Toxic byproducts in the digestive tract are then absorbed into the bloodstream and transported on to the liver. The molecules of food and toxins are "leaked" through the GI lining and then eventually affect systems throughout the body, causing inflammation in our joints and expressing toxins in autoimmune conditions and food sensitivities.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often have an association between food intake and rheumatoid disease severity. In 2008, in looking at this immunological link between gut immunity and RA, food IgG, IgA and IgM antibodies were measured. In the intestinal fluid of many RA patients, all three immunoglobulin classes showed increased food specific activities, including gliadin antibodies.

There are some tests to consider for those with an autoimmune disease, as great strides have been made in regards to what labs can test for today. 

There are labs that assess food sensitivities, which is different than the IgE RAST test performed by traditional allergists. There is also a lab that can test for intestinal permeability. Through the serum they are able to detect antibodies to LPS, occludin/zonulin and the actomyosin network to identify the breakdown of a healthy intestinal barrier. In addition, a comprehensive digestive stool analysis is essential for healing the gut.

It is also very important to check vitamin D levels and to test for gluten-associated antibodies and cross-reactive foods since they play a large role in inflammatory and autoimmune processes.

Andrographis paniculata

Once these underlying areas of the patient's heath are explored, nutritional and lifestyle support would be used to address any dysfunctions, deficiencies, toxicities, etc. For symptomatic relief, Andrographis paniculata may be considered. This plant has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and in studies has been shown to support a healthy immune response in patients with autoimmune conditions. In a randomized, double blind, and placebo-controlled study published in Clinical Rheumatology (2009), 60 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were given 100mg of Andrographis paniculata or placebo three times a day for 14 weeks. It was found to be effective in reducing the number of swollen joints, total grade of swollen joint and tender joints. Andrographis paniculata helped normalize rheumatoid factor, creatine kinase, hemoglobin, immunoglobin IgA and IgM. The reduction in IgA and IgM is beneficial as there is positive correlation between the grade of cartilage damage.

In another clinical published in 2013, 8 patients with various rheumatoid conditions were given 300mg of Andrographis paniculata daily for 3 ½ years. Treatment showed significant improvement in number of swollen joints, total grade of swollen joint, total grade of tender joints, and improvement in quality of life. In addition, significant reductions in rheumatoid factor, erythrocytes sedimentation rate, pain, and C-reactive protein are being seen with Andrographis. 

 

Can a Common Spice Treat Depression?

by Donald McGee

If you find yourself grappling with depression, you are—for better or worse—not alone. However, if you do suffer from depression, you do feel alone.

Healthline reports that, as of 2012, diagnoses of depression are growing at an alarming rate and, as if depression alone weren’t enough, states that report high rates of depression also report accompanying physical manifestations of stress with greater obesity rates and incidences of heart disease.

Perhaps you have tried talking with a therapist or counselor, which is an effective way to tackle this often desperation-inducing condition, but it often works even better when you treat the chemical side of the issue. Doctors often prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) such as Fluoxentine, Sertraline and Citalopram, and they are often effective but they sometimes come with side effects that may complicate treatment, at the very least.

Another option you might consider is looking into natural treatments for depression. You might even ask your physician or psychiatric professional what experience and information they have regarding natural approaches to treating depression.

Some of the most common treatments include St. John’s Wort, 5HTP, SAMe, L-Theanine, Vitamin D3, B-vitamins and Fish Oil.

Treatment with Turmeric

Lurking in your spice rack is a potentially powerful component of your depression treatment. Something as delightful and delectable as turmeric that adds the beautiful yellow color to your curry dishes and mustard can actually become an integral part of your wellness. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for a wide range of conditions, illnesses and disorders for more than 4,000 years and in China from 700 A.D.

Curcumin and Neurogenesis

Curcumin, which is turmeric’s active ingredient, has been tested on animals and has shown effective improvement over depression in the animals.According to Dr. Weil, curcumin spurs nerve growth in the frontal cortex and hippocampal portions of the brain. One line of thinking attributes depression to damage to the hippocampal neurons, so anything that serves to repair that area might serve as the secret weapon against depression. Along with high impact exercise, bright light and learning, Curcumin has the potential to increase neurogenesis to decrease the negative effects of depression, if not the depression itself.

Curcumin and Turmeric Increase Serotonin and Dopamine in the Brain

Similar to the benefits of SSRIs, turmeric and curcumin increase serotonin levels, which help regulate sleep, learning, memory and mood. To a lesser degree, curcumin increases the level of dopamine in the brain, which controls emotional responses to situations and movement.

Turmeric On Its Own for Treating Depression?

While turmeric is effective in conjunction with SSRIs, it is not yet certain whether you could eschew your antidepressant prescription quite yet. Your doctor might have more information about the synergistic effects of taking turmeric or curcumin as a complement to your SSRI prescription or any other medication you might take to help with depression.

The Dangers of Sitting All Day and 5 Things To Do About It

by Alishah Merchant

The vast majority of us spend hours at a desk in front of a computer every day. Even after the workday is complete, many of us go on to sit more while in a car, bus, or the subway and then again at the dinner table, and in front of the television. Even if we take time out of our busy day to engage in physical activity such as walking, biking, running or weight training, the proportion of this time is minimal compared to the hours and hours of sitting we log.

Research studies indicate that too much time spent sitting and being sedentary can lead to very negative health outcomes including increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, not to mention the higher rates of obesity, depression and hypertension.

There are many reasons for the negative health consequences related to prolonged sitting. The most clear and straightforward relationship is that sitting burns fewer calories than standing or walking. This is because sitting is quite passive especially if you are sitting with poor posture. Your muscles don't need to do much to hold you up and you expend very little energy because you are being supported by a chair. While standing, your leg muscles, core muscles and back muscles have to work harder in order to hold you erect against gravity. Fewer calories burned can lead to obesity which can lead to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

There are other metabolic effects that occur at the cellular level that can also explain the harmful consequences of sitting all day. From an evolutionary perspective, we are meant to be moving creatures and our muscles and muscle cells have been built and specifically designed to manage higher levels of activity than modern man typically engages in these days. It has been shown that muscle cells that are idle do not react to insulin (a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy) as easily and thus the pancreas has to produce more and more of the insulin hormone for the same response (also known as insulin resistance). Long-term changes in blood insulin levels can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions. In addition, excess insulin in the blood encourages cell growth, which can explain the rapid cell growth of cancerous cells. It is also believed that the expression of certain genes that work to suppress inflammation are decreased in sedentary individuals. This can explain many conditions that are related to inflammation such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Obviously this is some serious stuff so here are some ideas to get you moving more throughout the day:

1. Walk part way or all the way to work! If you drive, park further away. In some cases parking further away is cheaper but regardless you are forced to walk before you start your work day as well as at the end of the day on your way home. If you take the subway or bus, get off a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way. If you live close by, think about riding your bike or walking to work.

2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Consider taking the stairs up to your office at the beginning of the day, at lunch and at the end of the day. Stair climbing adds resistance to your legs and forces your leg and core muscle to work even harder than walking alone. It can also help to increase your heart rate. You will notice that this task becomes easier and easier as you do it more because your muscles will become stronger and your cardiovascular system will become more efficient.

3. Drink lots of water throughout the day by always keeping a bottle of water on your desk. Water can help to cleanse your body of toxins and keep your cells hydrated. In addition, you will need to use the restroom more often and this will force you to get up from your desk more often.

4. Go for a walk at lunch. Force yourself to take a break at lunch and incorporate movement during this break. Do not go directly from your desk to the lunch-room or cafeteria only to sit more. Eat quickly and then spend the rest of your lunch break walking outdoors. This will help clear your mind, get your blood flowing, increase your metabolism and prepare you for the rest of your day at work. You will notice that your work productivity will actually increase if you make the time to do this.

5. Stand up at work whenever possible. There are standing desks available and many other opportunities to stand up while you are on the phone or when you are brainstorming ideas. Consider walking over to a fellow colleague's desk instead of just sending them an email or calling them. The ideas are endless if you actually consider all the times at work that you can actually stand up and move around.