Have You Tried “Everything” For Your Autoimmune Disease and Still No Results. Then Read This!

Autoimmune Disease and Your Immune System:

This is Important to Know if You Have an AI Condition

Why You Should Know About T Helper Cells if You Have an Autoimmune Condition

T helper cells are part of your immune system.  These cells are lymphocytes and lymphocytes are part of your white blood cells.  Their job is to recognize foreign invaders or as in the case of an autoimmune condition they mistakenly see self as the invader.  They respond to this invader by producing cytokines which are hormonal proteins that are responsible for the biological effects of the immune system.  Think of cytokines as chemical messengers that “make things happen”. 

You have two groups of T helper cells but both groups should work together in harmony.  It is normal for one side to become more active to eliminate a threat, but then should return to a balanced state once the threat is gone. This issue arises when one side remains more active than the other. 

In the case of an autoimmune condition, there is always a genetic component. However, just because you have the gene for a specific autoimmune condition, does not mean you will get it. The gene needs to be “turned on” by something, whether it is a food sensitivity, stress or other dietary factors, for example.

There are varying opinions as to if you can turn the gene off once it is turned on.  My own opinion is that I think in some cases the gene can be turned back off but in most cases, it is critical to support the immune system, restore balance and reduce inflammation so that you can put the AI disease into “remission”. 

Th 1 Pathway

This is your immediate response pathway. This is your body’s firsts line of defense against a pathogen.

If you are Th 1 dominant, this means that you are producing too many natural killer cells and cytotoxic T cells.  The cytotoxic T cells are also called killer T cells and can kill body cells that are infected with a virus or other agent. 

Typically, Th 1 cells are more active when there is a virus, bacteria or other microbe that is the invader.  Your Th1 cells should be more active during an acute illness and when there is acute inflammation.  However, when Th1 cells are in excess, they can give way to AI conditions and can create low Th2 levels. 

Some AI conditions that are associated with an overactive TH1 pathway include Type 1 diabetes, MS, Hashimotos, Grave’s Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Psoriasis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Celiac Disease, Lichen Panus and RA. Please note that while an overactive TH1 pathway is more common in these conditions, it is not always the case and may not be for you! 

Th 2 Pathway

If you are producing too many B cells, the ones in charge of tagging the intruder so that it can be identified, then you are Th 2 dominant. 

Typically, you will see Th2 cells produced in excess in conditions such as asthma, eczema, rhinitis, allergies and in chronic inflammation.  Other conditions that are most often associated with an overactive Th 2 pathway include Lupus, Scleroderma, IBD, cancer, Ulcerative Colitis, and multiple chemical sensitivity.

When you have one pathway dominant, it means that the immune system is out of balance and this can lead to an AI condition if it has not done so already.  In the case of thyroid disease, Th1 and Th2 cytokines can affect thyroid function and not just the AI portion of the disease.  They can block the thyroid receptor sites and this will prevent the hormone from getting into the cells where you need it to start feeling better. 

It can be tricky to deduce which helper cells you have an issue with as both can be overactive or you can have both underactive as well. 

What Can Cause Your Immune System to Become Unbalanced

  • A diet of excessive refined carbs and sugar
  • An unknown food sensitivity
  • Excessive, ongoing stress (too much cortisol production suppressed the immune system)
  • Having a digestive disorder
  • Alcoholism
  • Exposed to heavy toxic metals (these suppress antibody production)
  • Pesticides and other toxic chemical ongoing exposure
  • Over use of NSAIDS
  • Too much exercise
  • Gut imbalances (poor microbiome health)
  • Too much fish oil supplementation-best to stay at 5 grams or below (depending on the health condition some people may need 2 grams to 4 grams per day)
  • Chronic Antibiotics
  • Cancer

 

Balancing Your T Helper Cells

The first step, according to Dr. Kharrazian in “Why do I still have thyroid symptoms when my lab tests are normal” is to support the T regulatory cells.  It is believed that the T regulatory cells may help to keep the other T cells under control, but it is not very clear how they do this.  T regulatory cells are thought to monitor the situation but can start behaving erratically and when this happens they may command the production of too many T helper cells and this process can ultimately destroy body tissue. 

The goal is to bring balance back to the T regulatory cells since their function is to maintain homeostasis of the immune system. 

Support Your T Regulatory Cells

Start here before moving on to addressing either pathway 1 or 2!

  • Vitamin D: work with a health professional to determine the best dose for your AI condition and based on your blood work D levels. (My favorite brand is Bio Tech.
  • DHA/EPA: Higher than average doses may be warranted but not above 5 grams total. (for instance, high doses have been shown to be needed to optimize thyroid function within the cells) (My favorite brands are Nordic Naturals and Xymogen).
  • Glutathione: this is considered your “master antioxidant”
  • SOD (Superoxide Dismutase) which is an antioxidant

There are nutrients that can stimulate each pathway. It is best to get tested to know which pathway you have an issue with, but I know some people are willing to use trial and error. Be aware that if you end up over stimulating the wrong pathway, your symptoms of your health issue may flair up and this is an indication that you need to discontinue use of these nutrients. 

Dr. Kharrazian states, that while not always the most accurate tool, you can use coffee as a guide.  If drinking coffee or caffeine causes a flair up of your health condition, then you may be Th 2 dominant since coffee stimulates the Th 2 pathway, thus you need to support Th 1.  If coffee/caffeine makes you feel better and lessens your symptoms then you may be TH1 dominant and will need to support your Th 2 pathway. 

Below is a list of what to use to support your pathways. Always work with your health professional when adding these in and work with them to find the rights amounts for you. 

Try only one supplement at a time to know what is and isn’t working for you. 

Support Th 1 Pathway

(You want to stimulate this side if Th 2 is dominant)

  • Astragalus
  • Echinacea
  • Beta-glucan mushrooms
  • Maitake mushrooms
  • Glycyrrhiza from licorice (Avoid if you have high BP)
  • Lemon Balm
  • Ginseng

 

Support Th 2 Pathway

 (You want to stimulate this side if Th 1 is dominant)

  • Caffeine
  • Green Tea extract
  • Grape Seed extract
  • Pine Bark Extract
  • White Willow Bark
  • Lycopene
  • Resveratrol
  • Pycnogenol
  • Curcumin

Th1 and Th2 Modulating Compounds

These can be used if you are not sure which pathway needs to be addressed and like mentioned above, both pathways can be dominant or under active.  Use these to help balance Th1 and Th2. 

  • Probiotics (my favorite is Mega Spore)
  • Vitamin A (get from foods such as butter and eggs-pasture raised)
  • Vitamin E (look for mixed tocopherols or get from egg yolks, avocado, nuts and seeds)
  • Colostrum (this the mother’s first milk). It can be difficult to find a good quality brand for Colostrum but I like synertekcolustrum.com

Testing

If you have been working with your health professional and have not gotten results for your AI and are still suffering from symptoms then you may want to ask for the TH1 and TH2 Cytokine Test.  The other option is you can order this yourself (although pricey at $499) from truehealthlabs.com. 

 

This is a blood draw and results may take up to 6-8 weeks.  But it may be worth it if you have not achieved resolution for your autoimmune condition. 

Bottom Line

If you have changed your diet, know what foods you are sensitive to, have addressed various organ dysfunction such as the liver and the gut (organ’s targeted is based on individual assessment) and are still not seeing results or only minimal results, then it is time to start looking deeper.  It can get really confusion, such as which products are best to use, how often to take and how much-work with someone who can guide you so you don’t have to continue to suffer.  Most people can put their AI disorder into remission. 

Sources

Bauman, E & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College

Kharrazian, D.  (2010) Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My lab Tests Are Normal.  CA:

   Elephant Press.

Sompayrae, L. Immunology: How the Immune System Works.  2nd Edition. CO: Blackwell Publishing.

http://hypothyroidmom.com/autoimmune-patients-have-you-heard-of-th1-and-th2-dominance/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19415997

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15952931

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page

Candida, Depression, Brain Fog, Weight Gain and More

Candida and Its Impact on Your Health

sugar

Most people are unaware that they have a candida issue.  Candida normally lives in harmony with other gut bacteria but if this balance gets disturbed this is when problems can occur and the candida yeast can proliferate.  It normally resides in the intestinal tract, mouth, esophagus, and genitals. However, it can lead to leaky gut and then it will enter the blood stream and make its way to any organ in the body. Thus, every organ in your body is at risk of damage. To make matters worse, candida emits over 70 different toxins into the body. 

Yeast prefers dark, warm places to grow and thrive such as in your nose, throat, mouth, and intestinal tract and genital area.  It thrives on sugar for growth and development. 

The body will always have some yeast but the goal is to rebalance the body and recolonize the good bacteria in our gut so that there is less of the candida yeast.  At normal levels, candida is harmless.

How an Overgrowth of Yeast Can Lead to Problems

Candida can cause Leaky Gut Syndrome, impacting gut health.  The overgrowth of yeast can take over, dominate the good bacteria in the gut and thus fungal dysbiosis occurs.  This yeast can change into a more invasive form that will secrete enzymes that break down the cell membrane thus causing a leaky gut.  To learn more about Leaky gut syndrome click http://trufoodsnutrition.com/5157-2/

Now that the gut is more permeable, toxins, can leak into the blood stream causing symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue and depression.  In addition to this, partially digested food particles can now leak into the blood stream, creating inflammation and possibly food sensitivities.  When the yeast crosses into the blood stream, an area that it does not belong in, the body can trigger the creation of antibodies by the immune system, leading to an autoimmune disease such as celiac disease or Hashimotos since these antibodies can cross react with the skin (psoriasis), joint tissue (rheumatoid arthritis) or even the brain (MS, Parkinson’s disease). While most people would never associate an overgrowth of yeast with an autoimmune disorder, it is something that does need to be taken into consideration. 

While yeast may have been your original issue, now you are faced with a host of ailments, many which your health professional cannot figure out or just gives you a medication for. 

Common Causes of Yeast Overgrowth

fast food burger

(for more information see my article on Candida and ADHD here )

  • Standard American Diet. This refined, highly processed and high sugar diet contributes to yeast overgrowth
  • Antibiotic usage. Even just one round of antibiotics can upset the balance in the gut. Don’t forget the added antibiotics from CAFO (confined animal factory operations) meat. 
  • Elevated hormone levels. This can be caused by medications such as prednisone, birth control pill, pregnancy and chronic stress.
  • Acid Suppressing medications such as Prilosec and Prevacid.
  • Alcohol: If you are a heavy drinker, you automatically consume too much sugar. While the alcohol excess is an issue in and of itself, the candida from the alcohol can make a bad situation worse.

Some of the More Common Candida Symptoms

Please note that many of these symptoms can also be symptoms due to other health issues. Always work with your holistic health professional to get to your root cause.

  • Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Depression and other mood disorders
  • Brain fog, forgetfulness
  • Bloating, gas
  • Diarrhea, constipation
  • Urinary frequency
  • Itchy bottom
  • Sore throat
  • Athletes foot
  • White coating on tongue
  • Cravings for sugar, refined high carb processed snacks
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Painful cracks at corners of mouth
  • Acne
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic sinus infections

Restoring Balance in the Gut

gut

When addressing gut health and restoring balance, take into consideration other systems that have been affected due to the overgrowth of the candida. This includes (but not limited to) the adrenals, liver, blood sugar and immune system. 

  • Vitamin C: Add in foods rich in this vitamin as it is critical for the immune system. It also assists with the detox process. Foods to include would include broccoli, cabbage, watercress, and citrus fruits to name a few. 
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s): Essential fatty acids are used in every cell in the human body. Because candida overgrowth leads to leaky gut syndrome and systemic inflammation, it is important to add in foods that are rich in Omega 3’s since they have been shown to reduce inflammation.  They can reduce the cause of the inflammation and reduce the inflammation that exists. Food sources include wild caught Alaskan Salmon, pasture raised eggs and grass- fed beef.
  • Probiotics: These are the friendly bacteria that live in your gut and help to break down your food. They are vital for a strong immune system. There is constantly new research on the importance of various healthy strains that reside in our gut. Healthy bacteria strains have been associated with maintaining a healthy weight, reduces risk of allergies, asthma, depression, anxiety and much more.  Thus, having a healthy gut is vital to all aspects of your health! Add fermented foods to your diet. These are rich in the good bacteria. Fermented foods include raw fermented sauerkraut and other vegetables, kimchee, miso, kombucha, kefir and raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar. 
  • Prebiotics: Think of these as the food for your probiotics. For your probiotics to thrive in the gut, they too need their healthy food! This comes from foods that contain resistant starch.  Resistant starches go through the stomach and the small intestine undigested and reach the colon where it feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut.  Think of resistant starches as food for your gut to keep it healthy.  Resistant starches, also called prebiotics, can come from foods such as raw garlic, raw onion, leeks and chicory root. You can also supplement with products such as FOS or inulin.  These can cause stomach upset, gas and bloating for some.  Another option is to purchase acacia gum which is the resin from the acacia tree.  It comes in a powder.  This is a powerful prebiotic source and one that typically does not cause any digestive complaints. 
  • Caprylic Acid: This is a very effective antifungal. It is one of three fatty acids that are found in coconut oil.  It can kill candida cells and can restore stomach acidity to normal levels.  It is best to combine Caprylic acid with other antifungals during your candida cleanse.  Add in unrefined organic coconut oil into your diet. 
  • Antifungal Herbs: Herbs that have antifungal properties include olive leaf, oregano, Pau D’Arco, allicin from garlic, and grape fruit seed extract. You can start off by adding in raw garlic to your diet. Chop your garlic and let it sit for several minutes to activate the allicin.  Then use it raw such as in your salad dressing.
  • Enzymes: Once candida enters the blood stream and reaches into other parts of the body, such as your sinus cavity, or worse your brain, it can be difficult to eradicate. The candida has a sticky biofilm to protect it from antifungal herbs and medications. Because of the biofilm, the candida can continue to grow and flourish and the biofilm protects the candida from your immune system.  There are enzymes that can break down the cell wall, degrading the biofilm.  These enzymes include cellulase and hemicellulase. Thus, the body can now activate an immune response against the candida overgrowth. 
  • Foods to Avoid: the white stuff-think stuff made with flour and sugar. High simple carb foods convert to sugar in the blood stream, so not only do you need to remove the donuts and cookies but the pasta and the bread too.  While beans and legumes and non- gluten grains are a healthy addition to the diet, it is best to avoid them early on when eliminating candida.  They are high in carbs and should kept to a minimum at the very least.  Avoid and limit foods and meals such as beans and rice, quinoa bowls and non- gluten pastas and breads too.  Keep dairy and gluten out of the candida diet
  • Foods to Add in: Think whole foods! Add in more vegetables and proteins and fats. Limit starchy carbs such as potatoes and squash.  Meals could look like chicken, beef or salmon with a large salad with avocado slices with roasted asparagus or sautéed broccoli or steamed carrots with grass fed butter or ghee with a spoonful of fermented sauerkraut. 

 

Add in nutritional yeast to make cheesy recipes. Add in lemons and limes for more flavor.  Use spices and herbs. Try nuts and seeds in recipes and use them as a great snack. 

 

If you need to sweeten things up a bit, try stevia or pure monk fruit (read label as many monk fruit products are mixed with other ingredients)

 

Bottom Line: If you think you have candida, a health professional can order tests, use assessment and questionnaires and do a thorough health intake to determine if candida is causing your symptoms.  You don’t need to suffer with candida. It does take some time to eradicate, so be patient! Hopefully within a few months you will start to see improvements.

Sources

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-23/5-signs-youre-suffering-from-candida-overgrowth-and-what-you-can-do-about-it

Bauman, E., & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

Levin, W & Gare, F. (2013) Beyond the Yeast Connection. CA: Basic Health Pub., Inc.

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Pub., Inc

Murray, M, Pizzorno, J, & Pizzorno, L. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. NY: Atria Books. 

Nichols, T. & Faas, N. (2005) Optimal Digestive Health. VT: Healing Arts Press.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page

Medication Tapering What you Need to Do First

Tapering off Your Medications

What you Need to Do First

pills

Many people are anxious to get off their cocktail of medications as they end up not liking the side effects and/or they don’t like the way the medications make them feel.  I have heard numerous times “I tried to come off my meds and I felt worse.  I guess I just need them.” 

As a nutrition professional, I cannot tell you to go on or off medications since I do not diagnose, treat or cure. But that does not mean I cannot help you with your goal to go off or reduce your medications. 

Here is What You Need to Know Before You Taper Off Any Medication

basket of veggies

 You need to address root health causes first, not after you go off your medications. If you attempt to taper and still don’t know why you have the mental health symptoms that you do, then once you go off your meds you are left with not only the same feelings you had prior and the same unaddressed root causes, but may also now have nutrition deficiencies (some meds can cause nutrient depletion of certain vitamins or minerals) that can exacerbate your condition.

 

You need to support your body with a healthy diet (one that is best for you) first. This does not mean change your diet one week and then attempt to taper off medications the next week.  This does not mean to follow a generalized diet in some book.  Depending on your health issues and how long you have had them, you may need to restore balance to your body and be on a whole food, supportive diet for 6 months to a year before you should consider the taper process.  Your diet (and supplement) plan should be individualized based on your needs. 

 

You need to taper very, very slowly. By this I mean, you may need to use a razor blade to shave off portions of your medication instead of cutting it, so that you do the process gradually and slowly under the guidance of your prescribing doctor.  Yes, it does mean the taper process will take longer, but your odds of remaining off the medication instead of going back on will be greater.

 

When you are ready to taper under your doctor’s supervision, let your nutritional professional know ahead of time-she can create a supportive protocol for you during the taper process to help ease into the transition.

Why Changing the Diet First Is So Important in the Taper Process

Look at the chart below to see what the Standard American Diet is doing to your moods and what effect it has on your neurotransmitters.

fast food burger

Food/Substance

What it Does
Skipping meals Lowers serotonin
Refined carbs Lowers serotonin and dopamine
Low protein diet Lowers all amino acids neurotransmitters (NT’s)
Low B complex status Lowers most NT’s
Low EFA status Lowers serotonin
Stimulant use Lowers serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine
Alcohol, metals, other toxins Lowers most NT’s
Artificial sweeteners Blocks production of serotonin
Glyphosate (Roundup sprayed on plants you eat) Disrupts gut microbiome (thus will affect serotonin production since over 80% made in gut)
Cigarettes

The paper contains cadmium which damages the brain, also raises free radical status in body which is significant risk factor for dementia

 

Medications and Nutrient Depletion

pills in hand

Do your homework on the medications that you are taking. If the drug depletes certain nutrients make sure you are getting it from food and/or supplementation. Don’t forget to include the other medications that you are on such as antibiotics, acid blockers or cholesterol lowering drugs as all of these can effect nutrient status as well. 

For instance

Lithium (used to treat Bi-polar): Depletes folate and inositol

Prozac, and some other antidepressants such as Paxil and Zoloft (used to treat depression and anxiety): Depletes magnesium, CoQ10, B vitamins and melatonin. (These drugs may not deplete B vitamins but B’s are needed to make serotonin and dopamine and thus you should make sure you are getting adequate amounts)

Benzodiazepines (used for anxiety): Deplete melatonin, B12, Folate,

Antipsychotics: Some can deplete CoQ10, melatonin, B2, B6, B12, Folate,

Bottom Line: Work with a holistic nutrition professional to get to your root causes, address them, support your body and get it to a “good” place for you. Then have the taper discussing with your doctor.  Be patient.  Depending on how long you have been suffering, how long you have been on medications and how many you are on, this process can take months to years.  Be kind to yourself, give your body the time it needs to get through this process. 

 

 

Sources

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Bauman, E & Friedlander, J (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Gaby, A.(2006) A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. NY: Three Rivers Press

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9155210

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10896698

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page

Zinc Deficiency Signs and Symptoms and What to Take

Zinc deficiency and its Role in Mental Health

steak-1445122_640-1

By now you are familiar with a deficiency in B12 here, Vitamin D here  or  low magnesium and how it can have an impact on mood and behavior such as its role in depression, anxiety and ADHD.  But you may not realize that over 2 people billion worldwide are deficient in zinc and this mineral deficiency also plays a role in your mental health. 

It has been shown that a zinc deficiency leads to changes in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex of the brain.  A zinc deficiency also leads to excessive amounts of glutamate activity in the brain.  This leads to brain inflammation and excessive free radicals and oxidative stress. 

View the symptoms below to see if this sounds like you. With a zinc deficiency, you may not only exhibit anxiety or depression but there are other tell-tale signs such as lack of taste or a skin issue.  

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

woman-with-acne

I did not go into detail on each of the symptoms but I did address some of the mental health issues associated with a zinc deficiency in more detail. 

  • Weak immune system: When you first come down with a cold, take zinc acetate lozenges to reduce the duration of the illness. I like and use Enhanced Zinc lozenges by Life Extension.
  • Acne/adult acne: Zinc has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research has shown that those with acne have lower zinc levels. 
  • Eczema, psoriasis: Rats and mice deficient in zinc develop a skin condition that is similar to psoriasis.
  • Hypothyroidism: Zinc is a cofactor mineral needed for thyroid hormone function. With decreased zinc levels, the thyroid can become underactive.  It also plays a role in converting T4 to T3 and is needed to bind active thyroid hormone to DNA cells. 
  • Depression: While it is known that B vitamins can make an impact for those with depression, it is not as well known that a zinc deficiency can also affect one’s mental health. A study found that rats fed a zinc restricted diet had depression, poor motivation and withdrew from social behavior. Zinc is also involved in the pathway for the body’s production of neurotransmitters.  Zinc is also necessary for B6 to be converted into its active form which in turn plays a role in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.   
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of taste/impaired sense of taste: This along with the decrease in appetite can often be the first clue that brain inflammation related to a zinc deficiency is present.
  • ADHD: Zinc assists with the production and regulation of melatonin. Melatonin is an important factor in the pathophysiology of ADHD due to its modulation of dopamine. There have been numerous studies looking at zinc levels and the relationship to ADHD.  These studies have shown that those with ADHD have significantly lower zinc levels.  Four studies have shown positive results for zinc in the treatment of ADHD. 
  • Aggression issues
  • Brittle nails, white spots on nails
  • Body odor
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Slow wound healing
  • Sensitive to strong smells/strong odors
  • Anxiety: too much copper and too little zinc
  • Adrenal fatigue: uses up a lot of zinc
  • Psychiatric disorders in the elderly (65 and older) such as dementia, psychotic disorders, bipolar. One study found a high prevalence of zinc deficiency in the patient group versus the Control group.

Who is at Risk

  • Vegans/vegetarians: These diets tend to be high in copper and low in zinc.
  • Elderly
  • Athletes who sweat a lot
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with chronic digestive disorders (i.e.: low HCL, Acid reflux, GERD, IBD, IBS)
  • Chronic stress
  • During trauma, surgery, burns (to aid in healing)
  • Those with cataracts, macular degeneration
  • Those with celiac disease
  • Those who consume a lot of grains (the Phytates content blocks zinc absorption)
  • Those who eat the SAD and don’t get enough of zinc rich foods.

What Causes you to Lose Zinc

person smoking

  • Those who sweat a lot/athlete
  • Sugar/SAD
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Too much copper in the diet
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Infection
  • Puberty
  • Nutrient deficient diet/vegetarian or vegan diet

Foods that Contain Zinc

eggs

Many of your vegetarian sources of zinc are only as nutrient rich as the soil that it is grown in.  Our soil is depleted which means your food has less nutrients.  Plants sources due to the phytic acid may also not be bioavailable as zinc sourced from non -vegetarian sources such as seafood and beef. 

  • Beef/red meats
  • Eggs
  • Seafood (crab, shrimp)
  • Legumes
  • Spinach
  • Oysters
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cooked split peas
  • Sesame butter
  • Lima beans
  • Pecans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts

*Phytates in legumes and nuts may inhibit absorption. For this reason, soaking is always a good idea!

What to look for in a Supplement

Vegetarians may want to consider zinc supplementation due to the difficulty absorbing zinc from non- meat sources such as from plants, legumes, nuts and seeds.  According to the Institute of Medicine’s report, vegetarians require 50% greater intake of zinc given that the major source in the diet is grains and legumes which contain high amounts of phytic acid. 

It is best to choose a high- quality supplement that says zinc glycinate, zinc picolinate or amino acid chelated zinc.  For general health, take 15-20 mg of zinc per day and take it with food as otherwise it will cause an upset stomach.  Therapeutic doses are higher and depending on the need, range from 30-75 mg. per day.  This range is typically safe for several months or longer but use therapeutic dosing under the guidance of a professional. 

If you are using zinc for general health, it is best to take it within your multivitamin/mineral supplement since minerals are interconnected and balance amongst them is important.  If you are taking zinc for therapeutic reasons, be sure to look at how much is in your multi (and what form it is in) and then add in a supplement to get into the therapeutic range.

Zinc must be in balance with copper due to competition for receptor sites.  The ratio should be 15:1 of zinc to copper. The foods that contain more zinc in a bioavailable form and less copper are oysters, beef, lamb, crab, shrimp, sesame seeds and macadamia nuts.  Copper is much easier to get from the diet than zinc and you can find some supplements that are copper free. 

Many Americans are too high in copper and too low in zinc.  For instance, this unbalanced ratio has been linked to schizophrenia, anxiety, learning disabilities and autism.  Copper can come from copper IUD, copper pots, copper pipes, dental amalgams, pesticides and medications such as oral contraceptives. 

Copper is also stored in the liver so it is also beneficial to provide liver support such as with dark bitter greens, beets and lemon water. 

Bottom Line: If you are struggling with a mental health issue, hypothyroidism or a skin concern, look at your diet to see how much zinc you are getting from your foods. If you have digestive issues, take into consideration that this impacts the assimilation of your nutrients, including zinc.  In the end, zinc may help you but most likely your issue is multifaceted and zinc is playing a role but is not the only component of your health issue.  For instance, if you are a vegetarian, zinc may not be the only nutrient that you are deficient in. 

Sources

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Hoffer, A, Walker, M. (1978) Orthomolecular Nutrition. Keats Publishing. 156-7.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25290638

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25940914

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0082793

https://www.ncbi.mlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3796297

http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9067/1/3/261/htm

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/15569527.2013.808656

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page

7 Herbs and 6 Supplements to Help You With Your Anxiety

Anxiety: 7 Herbs and 6 Supplements to Calm the Mind

herbal-tea

 

 

It is normal to have anxiety in certain situations from time to time such as with public speaking or when on a job interview.  It becomes a concern when it starts to interfere with your everyday activities and relationships with other people.  While there can be many root causes for anxiety, while you are trying to find out what those root causes are and begin to address them, herbs and supplements can offer a welcome support. 

If a supplement helps you, you need to ask why?  Are you deficient in this nutrient and again, why are you deficient?  Work with a holistic professional to help you get to the very root of the anxiety. 

Herbs are a bit different.  Herbs can be thought of as helping the body to return to a place of homeostasis. The herb does not necessarily do the work for you, but supports the part of the body that was not functioning properly and helps that body system get back to doing it’s job. 

There are numerous natural remedies you can try to ease your anxiety.  Always let your doctors know about your supplements and especially if you are on any medications and/or are pregnant.  Speak with your practitioner before adding in any new supplements as they may interact with your medications. 

Don’t try everything on this list at one time!  Try one supplement or herb to see how your body reacts to it.  Give it time such as a month and if you do not see any results then discontinue usage and try something else. Not everything will work for you.  So if it works for your friend, it doesn’t mean it will work for you-remember our root causes are different. 

 

7 Herbs to Ease Anxiety

While there are many more herbs than the 7 listed here, these are well known and effective herbs that should not be difficult to find.

(this is a picture of lemon balm below. While not talked about here, it is another great herb for anxiety and depression)

stinging-nettle-leaf

 

Ginkgo Biloba: it has shown to be significantly more effective than a placebo for reducing anxiety. It can be useful if you aniety is combined iwht depresion and if you also have concentration issues.  Speak to your doctor prior to use if you are on blood thinners.  If you are prone to headaches, this can make them worse or increase frequency. Dose: 240 mg. to 480 mg of Ginkgo extract for 4 weeks. 

California Poppy:  use this at low doses for anxiety as at high doses it is best for pain and insomnia.  If using at high doses, do not drive due to its sedating effect.  California poppy can have an enhanced effect when used in combination with passionflower, chamomile and lemon balm.  Dose: .5-1 ml. of tincture 4 times per day.

Kava: many studies document the benefits of this herb for mild to moderate anxiety. It is not sedating.  Do not take if you have liver disease.  It is rapidly absorbed and thus can take effect quickly.  That being said, it may take using it a few times to get the full benefit from Kava.  Kava can also be used 30- 60 minutes before bedtime if you have difficulty sleeping due to a racing and anioius mind. Dose: 3-5 ml of tincture 3 times per day. Some people also like to use Kava root in a tea.  I think it tastes awful but that’s me….Or use in dried root at 200 mg.

Passion flower: this has been shown to be as effective as an anxiolytic drug for general anxiety disorder.  It is known to be useful for nervous tenstion, and when you feel restlessness and stress and anziety from overwork and feeling of being overwhelmed. It should be noted that because it is a gently herb, this one is best combined with other herbs for anxiety (even though I said to try one at a time!).   It is synergistic with Kava and might be best to use Passion flower in combination with Kava.  Dose:  3-5 ml. in tincture 3 times per day. You can use 1 teaspoon in hot water for a tea three times daily or use in whole herb extract capsules.  This herb is safe to take up to three times daily as needed.  It is a gentle herb so can be one to use with young children and the elderly. 

Valerian: this will help to decrease restlessness and can improve sleep. This herb is best used when getting ready for bed and to slow down a racing and anxious mind. Do not use this her when driinvg.  All herbs work differently for different people. I say this becauses I know some people who love valerian to help with sleep.  For others, it can keep them up all night!   Dose: 400-900 mg. per day of whole valerian.  This is often combined with lemon balm for an increased affect. 

Rhodiola: this promotes calmness.  Rhodiola is considered an adaptogen which helps the body to adapt to stress of daily life.  It also optimizes the immune system and hormonal balance. Dose: 500 mg. in a.m. on empty stomach of 3% standardized extract. 

Ashwagandha: this is another herb in the Adaptogenic herb family.   Taking 450 mg. in the morning can aid with energy, alertness and help you adapt to stress and anxiety.  Taking another 450 mg. before bedtime can aid for a restful night sleep.  For some, it may take a month before you notice the benefit so be patient because this is a wonderful Adaptogenic herb for anxiety and for supporting the adrenals during times of stress. 

Note:  If you have issues with alcohol, avoid tinctures and get in capsule/dried herb form instead.  It may be best to avoid Kava if you are a heavy drinker. 

 

6 Vitamins/Minerals to Help with Anxiety

fish oil supplement

 

Magnesium: a deficiency is associated with anxiety.  The average U.S. diet only provides 40% of our magnesium needs.  Because of our depleted soil, even the best eaters can be deficient in this master mineral.  Dose: I  like magnesium l threonate as this has the ability to raise magnesium levels in the brain.  The bottle may also be labeled as Magtein.  Follow directions on the bottle.  In addition to that, continue to eat magnesium rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, black beans, avocado and almonds

B Vitamins: these offer stress support and can improve anxiety.  Take a B complex to get all the B vitamins that you need. Stress and anxiety will use up your B vitamins so it is best to supplement this in addition to getting your B vitamins from food sources.  Dose: Depending on the brand and amount of B’s in the product, take two capsules per day and if under a great deal of stress take 2 capsules 2 times per day.  It is water soluble so you can’t over do it on the B vitamins.  If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you may also benefit from additional B12 support as B12 is only bioavailable for us via meat, poultry and fish. Work with someone who can recommend a good B vitamin for you that has the B vitamins in bio-available forms. Many B supplements have cheap forms that you may not absorb. So while it may say it is providing you with over 100% of the daily value, you may be only absorbing a very small fraction of that. Combine this with gut related issues and you may just be wasting your money. I personally like Thorne or Emerald Labs brand.

Probiotics: many animal studies demonstrate the benefit for anxiety.  Probiotics will help to replenish the good bacteria in the microbiome. Having a healthy microbiome is critical for mental well being.  It has been shown that our neurotransmitters originate in the gut and travel to the brain via the vagus nerve.  So if you want your GABA (your calming neurotransmitter) to be at optimal levels, you need to support your gut health.  Dose: In order to get the full benefits choose a multi strain probiotic and take one that has 20-50 billion organism.  Best results when taken with food. I personally like Mega Spore and use this one personally and with my clients.  Add in fermented foods as well.

Omega 3 Fats:  low DHA intake is associated with anxiety.  Studies show that low Omega 3 intake is associated with higher rates of anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. In countries where higher amounts of fatty fish is consumed, there are lower rates of depression and anxiety.  Dose: 1-2 g. per day of a fish or krill oil with high DHA.  Do not dose fish oil over 5 grams. Work with a professional who can guide you as to how long you need to stay at a therapeutic dose and when you can reduce the gram amount. For more info on DHA/EPA go to http://trufoodsnutrition.com/5095-2/

Lactium: this supplement contains a peptide similar to protein that is naturally found in dairy products.  Studies have shown that it can reduce stress induced anxiety. It does this by supporting the GABA receptors in the brain. It can also be useful if the anxiety impacts your sleep. Dose: From lactium.com, it advises to start with 150 mg per day for one month.  Use 300 mg. for 2 weeks for faster action during a particular period of anxiety and stress.  Use 600 mg. per day as needed, say for example, one day before an exam and on the exam day for immediate action.  Lactium can be difficult to find.  In the US you can try using the Life Extension Brand.  For outside the US, go to www.lactium.com to find products in other countries.

GABA: there is some debate over the use of GABA. Some say that if GABA is effective for your anxiety then it means you have a leaky BBB (blood brain barrier). Until I have more research, I recommend Source Naturals GABA Calm.  Your local health food store should carry this brand.  Ideally you want to support your gut health so that your own body can produce the GABA that you need but in the short term, you may benefit from a GABA supplement.  Food sources to support GABA include green tea, fermented foods, almonds, broccoli, spinach, oats and walnuts. 

Other Tips to Help Ease Anxiety

sauerkraut

  • Avoid or greatly reduce the amount of caffeine you consume (reduce slowly to avoid headaches) Try green tea instead. This has less caffeine but also has stress reducing L Theanine in it.
  • Eliminate sugars, refined carbs
  • Eat more protein and healthy fats
  • Eat high fiber non-starchy vegetables
  • IBS and low blood sugar are associated with panic attacks
  • There is a connection between a healthy digestive tract and anxiety-fix digestive issues to support a calm mind
  • Include fermented foods in your diet
  • Anxiety can be associated with a copper/zinc balance with copper being too high and zinc levels being too low. (ask your nutritionist to do a zinc tally test with you)
  • For herbal support you can start out by trying teas that include a variety of the herbs mentioned above. Look for teas that say calm mind, stress reduction etc.…Sleepy time teas also contain some of these herbs as they help to calm the mind to help you sleep. (even though you may want to try one herb at a time to see how you react, many herbs that are used for anxiety have a synergistic  effect and can work well together).  I create blends for my clients and I have been told my “calm blend” has worked better than medications!
  • For situational anxiety such as during test taking or public speaking, Rescue Remedy may be helpful. It comes in a spray, lozenge or gum.

Bottom Line

If you do not address root causes, these are not much better than medications as symptom management (except not addictive and none of the side effects). If your anxiety is interfering with your life, work with someone who can help you.  There are many root causes for anxiety, such as low blood sugar, food sensitivities, thyroid issues, head injuries, systemic inflammation, contraceptive use and much more.  In addition to that, there are other compatible supportive therapies such as EMDR (if related to something that happened in your past), EFT (aka tapping), nuero-feedback or nuero-sculpting to name a few. 

 

Sources:

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  Pengrove, CA: Bauman College. 

Bongiorno, P. (2015) Put the Anxiety behind you.  CA: Canari Press

Challem, J. (2007) The Food-Mood Solution.  NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Haas, E. & Levin, B.(2006)  Staying Healthy with Nutrition. CA: Celestial Arts

Mars, B.(2007) The Desktop Guide To Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Publications

Walsh, W. (2014) Nutrient Power.  NY, NY: Sky Horse Publishing

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-zone/201201/anxiety-and-omega-3-fatty-acids

http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/ajp.2006.163.6.969

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page