Monday, February 28, 2011

Stress and Fibromyalgia

A survey by The Fibromyalgia Network reports that 62% of their respondents list physical or emotional stress as the initiating factor in their acquiring fibromyalgia.
I believe chronic stress is the underlying catalyst for the onset of HPA dysfunction and fibromyalgia. Several studies have demonstrated how chronic stress undermines the normal hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) function.
When explaining the role of stress in fibromyalgia, I find the following analogy helps put stress and fibromyalgia into perspective.

“We are all born with a stress coping savings account. This account is filled with numerous chemicals we use to help us deal with daily stress-serotonin, norepinephrine, cortisol, magnesium, and other important hormones and nutrients al help counter stress. The more stress we encounter, the more stress coping chemicals we use. We replenish our stress coping savings account with adequate rest. Consistent deep restorative sleep ensures we are making more deposits than withdrawals from our stress coping account.

Since fibromyalgia patients struggle with getting a consistent good nights sleep they eventually bankrupt their stress coping account. Once tyour stress coping savings account is depleted poor health and the many symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, pain, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression, low thyroid, etc. start to raise their ugly heads.

With so many different symptoms, it’s no surprise that fibromyalgia and CFS patients are typically taking 6–12 different prescription drugs. Lyrica, Elavil, Klonopin, Paxil, Effexor, Xanax, Trazadone, Neurontin, Zanaflex, Ambien, Lunesta, Cymbalta,  and Provigil have all been heralded as “the drug” for fibromyalgia. Some of these are helpful, some worthless, and some really dangerous.

Drug management alone typically fails to yield lasting relief from the most common fibromyalgia and CFS symptoms, and patients’ and doctors’ optimism over a new drug treatment eventually gives way to this sad reality. Oh well, a new drug with an even larger marketing budget is on the horizon. (Forgive my cynicism. I’ve just seen this situation so many times!)

After seventeen years of specializing in treating and beating fibromyalgia I’ve learned that traditional medicine alone yields little if any long-term results.
The best hope for those with fibromyalgia is to find and work with a doctor who practices integrative medicine-combining judicious use of prescription drugs (short-term if possible) and natural therapies (vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients).

Combining prescription drugs (when needed) with natural supplements allows the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia to be corrected, not just covered-up.
Hang in there-you can beat fibromyalgia. Don’t give up.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Here We Go Again-Another Idiot Doctor

I was just made aware of a story on fibromyalgia that The New York Times ran early last year. How many arrogant idiotic doctors are there in this world. Just when I feel like patients with fibromyalgia are finally getting the support and understanding they deserve, some prehistoric physician, locked in the dark ages, paints fibromyalgia with the "all in their head" label. It would be funny if it weren't so offensive to those who battle this illness on a daily basis. Fibromyalgia is a real disease and those with  the syndrome suffer real pain. Who would want to make all this up in their head?

Here is a partial snippet of the article

The Voices of Fibromyalgia

People who suffer from fibromyalgia experience problems beyond the pain caused by their illness. Their condition is little understood and hard to explain, and often they are disbelieved by doctors. Even friends and loved ones may express skepticism toward the fibromyalgia sufferer, who, burdened with inexplicable pain, may cancel social plans, miss work and recoil from physical affection because it hurts too much.
For a glimpse into the frustrating world of fibromyalgia sufferers, listen to the latest installment in the Patient Voices series by producer Karen Barrow.
You’ll meet Christine Wysocki, 33, of St. Augustine, Fla. who waited three years before a close friend and co-worker believed she had a health problem.
“Frankly I still don’t know if I understand exactly what it is,” says Ms. Wysocki. “Everything seems so vague about what fibromyalgia is, and it feels like no one wants to commit to what an actual answer is.”
And there’s Leon Collins, 59, of Clayton, N.J., who was relieved when he heard he had fibromyalgia because he at least had a diagnosis after many other doctors had dismissed his symptoms.
“We even experienced one doctor who wanted to send me to a psychiatrist because he felt my pain was imagined,” he said.

The Skeptic 

Count me as one of the skeptics. Not necessarily whether fibromyalgia exists, just that the vast majority of sufferers actually have it. I won’t use the word hypochondria, because I think that is inadequate. I think that many of these people suffer from a somatiform or somatization disorder. Still a disorder in need of treatment, but not fibromyalgia.
Understand, I think that this has definitely had a “wolf-crying” effect on people who do have it, and also on people who suffer, quite beyond their control, from untreated somatiform disorders. This results, not from the inability of medical science to test and confirm the diagnoses of fibromyalgia beyond cataloging the symptom complaints of sufferers, but from the fact that so many people who report these symptoms also complan of other vague maladies and bring to doctors their own self-diagnoses that the doctors have little choice but to attempt to treat them as they are reported.
This is how I put it to the last such person I spoke to: “What are the odds, mathematically, that one person should suffer from so many obscure and medically unconfirmable maladies? Maladies that have symptoms that can only be accepted or rejected based on your word that they exist?” The simple mathematical improbability that one person suffer from Meniere’s Disease, Epstein-Barr Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia, all three vague disorders that seem to show up in varied combinations among middle aged women, commonly with a history of childhood abuse, begs the question: Why are doctors being guilt-tripped into rejecting the possibility that these patients don’t suffer from what they think they suffer from, but indeed do suffer from something? Is the mere social stigma of psychological and emotional disorders enough that we should reject the possibility? I say no.
— Dr Hirschberg

Dr. Hirscberg validates that there are stupid doctors in this world and you should avoid them like the plague. If you have a skeptic for a doctor, if he or she isn't listening to you FIRE THEM and get another doctor! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fibromyalgia and Atypical Antidepressants

Atypical antipsychotics remained the top-selling class of medicines in the United States with $14.6 billion in sales, about equal to 2008 revenue.
Atypical antidepressant drugs including Zyprexa and Abilify are being aggressively marketed "off label" for all sorts of ailments including fibromyalgia. There is a growing campaign of propaganda to make folks think they are bi-polar and need these drugs. Not a week goes by that I don't encounter a patient with fibromyalgia who has been placed on one of these mind numbing drugs.

Atypical Antidepressants are Dangerous
Researchers have already reported that newer antipsychotics are associated with an increased risk of diabetes. The Food and Drug Administration put out warnings on this danger in 2004.

According to the new study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, patients taking antipsychotics tended to gain weight after one month and had increases in their cholesterol levels after three to four months.
Obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes all increase the risk of heart disease.

"This change in risk is evident early in the course of treatment, within several weeks of continuous use, but may continue to alter over several years," Foley told Reuters Health in an email. The "risk varies depending on the specific drug taken and how long it is taken for," she added.
About one in 100 adults in the U.S. has schizophrenia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

But antipsychotic drugs are also given to some patients with bipolar disorder, personality disorders, or anxiety, general depression, ADHD, fibromyalgia, and other "off label" targeted conditions.

The drugs in Foley's study included Janssen's Risperdal, and Lilly's Zyprexa, among others.
Foley and her team looked at 25 previous studies that had tracked risk factors for heart disease in patients taking older or newer antipsychotics. These included high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body weight.
They found that across all the studies, six to seven of every 10 people on antipsychotics were overweight after six months. Before taking the drugs, only about four of every 10 were overweight, the same as in the general population.

Fibromyalgia isn't caused by a drug deficiency, certainly not one as dangerous as Abilify or Zyprexa.

You  can read my article on atypical antipsychotic drugs-Abilify and Zyprexa by clicking on this link

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Should You Take a Daily Aspirin?

What About Aspirin?
The logic behind using aspirin is based on the idea that it inhibits the formation of blood clots. It does this by preventing the production of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme responsible for making prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormones that perform various bodily functions. Some prostaglandins cause platelets to become stickier and adhere to one another while attaching to arterial walls. However, other prostaglandins help prevent the platelets from attaching to one another. Thus, aspirin prevents the body’s own natural self-regulating mechanisms.

This is similar to what happens when taking non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). By the way, aspirin is the original NSAID. It reduces inflammation by blocking prostaglandins 1, 2, and 3. The problem with this is that prostaglandins 1 and 3 are the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory hormones. Blocking prostaglandins 1 and 3 prevents the body from releasing its own natural pain blocking chemicals.
Vioxx and Other NSAIDS Pulled from Market
Merck pulled the drug Vioxx off the market because a long-term clinical trial showed that some patients, after taking the drug for 18 months, developed serious heart problems. The data that ultimately persuaded the company to withdraw the drug indicated 15 cases of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots per thousand people each year over three years, compared with 7.5 such events per thousand patients taking a placebo.
Internal memos show disagreement within the FDA over a study by one of its own scientists, Dr. David Graham, who estimated Vioxx had been associated with more than 27,000 heart attacks or deaths linked to cardiac problems.
Studies have shown Vioxx users had twice the number of heart attacks as those taking Naproxen. These new drugs, which block COX-2 enzymes, may promote excessive blood clot formation. It appears that COX-2 enzymes counteract some of the effects of COX-1 enzymes, which narrow the blood vessels. This narrowing then causes blood to be more likely to clot.
A person taking NSAIDS, including aspirin, is seven times more likely to be hospitalized for gastrointestinal adverse affects. The FDA estimates that 200,000 cases of gastric bleeding occur annually, and that this leads to 10,000 to 20,000 deaths each year.
NSAIDs can cause high blood pressure. In one study, 41% of those who had recently started on medication to lower their blood pressure were also taking NSAIDs. NSAIDs more than double a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure.

Why isn’t my doctor telling me these things?

Good question. Most doctors and the public at large has been brainwashed into believing that these drugs pose little harm. As you’re now finding out nothing could be further from the truth.

You won’t find this behind the scenes, undercover reporting in the typical brochures on high blood pressure.

These pamphlets are by the way written by the drug companies, who of course don’t won’t you know just how dangerous their drugs are.

There have been several studies which have looked at the role aspirin may play in reducing heart attacks. But one in particular, The Aspirin Component of the Ongoing Physicians’ Health Study, is cited by physician groups, the media, and of course the drug companies who make aspirin.
This study involved 22,071 male physicians. Half of the study participants took Bufferin and half took a placebo. The study shows that over a 4.8-year period, there were 44 deaths in the Bufferin group and 44 deaths in the placebo group.
The Bufferin group did have fewer heart attacks (139 compared to 239) than the placebo group. Looking at the numbers above, we would conclude that taking Bufferin prevented 100 heart attacks. However, if we look at these numbers a little closer, you may not want to take a daily aspirin.
If we take the 11,037 who took Bufferin and divide by 100 (the number who benefited from taking Bufferin) we see that .906% of those taking Bufferin benefited. This is of course less than one percent, a number not worth the fanfare it has received.

The researchers reported that those taking Bufferin had between a 44 and 47% reduction in heart attack risk. How did they get this number? They took the 100 people who presumably didn’t experience a heart attack because of taking Bufferin and divided it by the 239 who didn’t take Bufferin and had a heart attack. This turns out to be 44%.
Researchers can do wonders with statistical analysis!
An interesting finding that somehow wasn’t revealed by this now famous study was that those taking Bufferin had a higher incidence of stroke (119), than those in the placebo group (98). Conventional doctors advocate the use of aspirin for the prevention of stroke. If we were to use the same statistical parameters by the authors of this study, we’d see that those taking Bufferin had a 21.4% increase in strokes!
Other studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of aspirin to prevent cardiovascular deaths have shown no benefit at all.  A 1975 study involving one million American men and women showed there was no benefit in taking aspirin.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute evaluated the effects of taking aspirin in a group of 4,524 participants. Half took aspirin and half took a placebo. The group who took aspirin had a 14.1% increase in heart attacks, while those taking a placebo had a 14.8% increase.
In 2003, a study linking low dose aspirin use among elderly patients caused decreased kidney function.
An Aspirin a day may not be in  your best interest after all. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Reversing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with Nutritional Therapy

IBS-Here's What You Need To Know
Digestive enzymes
Most digestion and absorption takes place in the small intestine and is regulated by pancreatic enzymes (digestive) and bile. The pancreas aids in digestion by releasing proteolytic enzymes, which help break down proteins into amino acids. Natural digestive enzymes are found in raw fruits and vegetables. Processed foods are usually devoid of digestive enzymes. Over consumption of these processed foods can lead to digestive enzyme deficiencies. This may then lead to malabsorption and or intestinal permeability syndrome (bloating, gas, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, and intestinal inflammation). To ensure proper digestion, absorption and elimination, I recommend taking pancreatic enzymes with each meal.

I always recommend people take a good optimal daily allowance multivitamin/mineral formula. Patients with IBS have depleted their stress coping chemicals and this not only leads to IBS but also prevents them from beating IBS. It is a vicious cycle that can only be broken by taking adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. The mineral magnesium, which is involved in over 300 bodily processes, is particularly important for reversing the symptoms of IBS-c. Magnesium helps relax the smooth muscle of the colon (natural laxative) allowing normal bowel movements. While a diet high in nutritious fiber is important, magnesium is even more important. A magnesium deficiency not only causes constipation but can also lead to heart disease, mitral valve prolapse (MVP), depression, anxiety, chronic muscle pain, headaches, migraines, fatigue, and many other unwanted health conditions.

Those with IBS-C (constipation) may need up to 1,000mg of magnesium each day.

While those with IBS-D (primarily diarrhea), may need less than 500mg. I recommend patients begin with 500mg of magnesium a day.

I recommend those with IBS-A and IBS-C take one Healthy Bowel Support Formula pack twice with food. Those with IBS-D (diarrhea) should take one pack a day along with 300-400mg of 5HTP.

The human intestines are inhabited by billions of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria, which are mostly located in the colon, aid in digestion by fermenting substances that were not digested in the small intestine and by breaking down any remaining nutrients. A healthy intestinal tract contains some 2-3 lb. of bacteria and other microorganisms, such as yeast, that normally don’t cause ay health problems. However, when the intestinal tract is repetitively exposed to toxic substances (antibiotics, steroids, NSAIDs, etc.), these microorganisms begin to proliferate and create an imbalance in the bowel flora. Harmful organisms like yeast and some normally dormant bacteria, begin to overtake the good bacteria. This is known as intestinal dysbiosis.
IBS and small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth may share similar symptoms. One study showed that 78% IBS participants had small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth. To aid in digestion and prevent intestinal dysbiosis, patients with IBS should take probiotics (Lactobacillus and Biidobacterium) on a daily basis.

Please Note: For IBS-A and IBS-D-Add 300-400mg of 5HTP
5HTP-should be added in addition to taking Healthy Bowel Support Formula for optimal results in treating IBS-A and IBS-D.

To boost serotonin levels I recommend patients take, the amino acid responsible for making serotonin, known as 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP).
For patients with IBS-A (alternating between diarrhea and constipation) or IBS-D (primarily have diarrhea) should take 300-400mg a day with food along with one to two pack packs a day of the Healthy Bowel Support Formula.

This approach isn’t guaranteed to solve every case of IBS. However, in the majority of my patients, symptoms improve to such point that within a few weeks we can focus on more important topics, like “who is going to win American Idol?”

Please Note Here Is My IBS Protocol

IBS Protocol
For IBS-A (Alternating between loose BM and constipation) I recommend patients take Healthy Bowel pack twice a day and add 300mg of 5-HTP with food or at bedtime (can divide it up 100mg 3x a day with food or 200mg and 100mg or all at once at bedtime).

For IBS-D (Diarrhea)- Healthy Bowel pack once a day and add 300mg of 5-HTP with food or at bedtime (can divide it up 100mg 3x a day with food or 200mg and 100mg or all at once at bedtime).

For IBS-C (Constipation only) I recommend using one Healthy Bowel Support pack twice a day with food and if don’t start to have normal BM add 100-150mg of magnesium (preferably chelate or citrate) at dinner. Keep increasing magnesium (if needed) by one pill each night until have normal BM. If stools become loose reduce magnesium.

What if I continue to have loose bowel movements?
Low serotonin will cause loose bowel movements. Make sure you’re taking 300-400mg a day of 5HTP either at bedtime or with food.
If after two weeks of taking 300-400mg of 5HTP you continue to have daily loose bowel movements, then its time to explore the possibility that your taking to much magnesium. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant. It helps the bowels move, but if you get too much, you’ll experience loose stools. If continue to losse bowel movement reduce magnesium to no more than 200mg a day. See if this helps.

If you’re taking 300-400mg of 5HTP, digestive enzymes, and one of the multivitamin/mineral formulas and continue (or start) to have loose bowel movements then decrease the amount of magnesium you’re taking. To do this, simply cut your daily dose in half. If you’re taking one of the multivitamin formula packs, take one instead of two. If you’re taking 6 of the Basic Multivitamin/Mineral tablets a day reduce to 3 a day.

What if I continue to have constipation even though I’m taking 2 Healthy Bowel Support Packs per day. Try adding 150mg of magnesium each day-keep adding  additional magnesium until have normal bowel movement (recommend using magnesium chelate or citrate). If you start to have loose stools then reduce your magnesium dose.
You may also need to explore the possibility that you may have low thyroid. You read more about low thyroid on my website.

You can learn more about the Essential Therapeutics Healthy Bowel Formula by visisting or calling my clinic 205-879-2383