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Is Your Gut Friend or Foe? January 28, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Health, immunity, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, nutrition.
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Reprinted by permission from the Gastrointestinal Society. Originally published in the Inside Tract® newsletter, Issue 193, 2015. ©Gastrointestinal Society

All disease begins in the gut

Hippocrates made this statement more than 2,000 years ago. Since then, much has changed in medicine. However, this theory remains of great interest in the medical community, especially when considering the terrain of the individual, how robust their immune system may or may not be, and determining ways to treat our modern day chronic illnesses.

We live in an age when having a diagnosis of some kind is almost as common as having a job. We hear the terms IBS, IBD, autoimmune disease, hormone imbalance, arthritis, allergies, migraines, MS, asthma, neurodegenerative disease, eczema, depression, obesity, and so on.

Having a definitive diagnosis can certainly be beneficial for us to have an understanding of what is going on in the body and how it might be causing symptoms, but none of these diagnoses actually tell us why.

What if understanding the gut is the key to understanding why disease occurs? What if Hippocrates was right? This would mean that for almost all diseases and diagnoses out there, the root cause is in the gut, that what is going on in the gut has ripple effects in the body and that the gut is always a factor in determining disease or health, either partially or completely.

In my practice as a naturopathic doctor, I see a wide variety of health conditions, and more often than not, when we treat the gut, along with making sure all other ‘pillars of health’ are in place, such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management, etc., the symptoms of disease diminish and often go away altogether.

How can that be? What does your gut have to do with your headache or your skin rash or your joint pain?

The Importance of Having Guts: A Genetic Potluck

Not only is the gut our second brain (and some would argue it to be our first), due to the multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system and the amount of neurotransmitter production that takes place in the gut,[1] it contains the majority of the microbial DNA that dictates our complex functioning as humans. That delicate balance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut, also known as the microbiome, plays a large role in the health of the whole person. We are even more aware of this since scientists mapped out the human genome early this century. Researchers were amazed at the unexpectedly small size of the human genome, which is roughly equivalent to that of a dragonfly. As it turns out, later research has shown that only 1 in 10 cells in the body are human. The other 9 (or 90%) are microbial. This 90% contains the DNA from the microbes that live in and on the body and provides essential functions for the human as a whole.

The Good, the Bad, and the Commensal

When talking about the balance of good (beneficial) and bad (pathogenic) bacteria in the gut flora, there is one more category of microbe to be aware of when thinking about the gut’s influence on the rest of the body and, prior to that, the influence of the environment on the gut. Commensal bacteria are those bacteria that can go either way; they are neither fully beneficial nor are they pathogenic, they act neutrally. This is where much of our own lifestyle influences come into play in the development of health or disease. If we eat a clean and healthy diet, manage stress well, get lots of sleep, fresh air and activity, these commensal bacteria are inclined to go over to the good side. If the opposite is true, then they can turn bad. The stronger one side is over the other, the more influence it has over these commensal microbes, just like a game of red-rover, the side with the strongest hold grows and wins.

To add complexity, we require all these types of microbes in the right amounts to benefit the body. The beneficial bacteria provide the body with nutrients and help remove waste. The pathogenic bacteria, in a balanced amount, train the immune system. When the pathogenic bacteria overtake and overwhelm the beneficial bacteria things can go awry in the body. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the microbiome, has effects on the gut such as increasing permeability and integrity of the gut lining, leaving the body more susceptible to autoimmunity and inflammatory disorders.[2]

In short, our microbiome influences our health, and we influence the health of our microbiome.1

From the Gut to Disease

So if something is going wrong or is out of balance in the gastrointestinal tract, how does this translate to symptoms in areas of the body that, seemingly, have nothing to do with the gut?

The common analogy I use to illustrate for patients how some health care professionals believe gut health affects health of the entire body is that of a clogged kitchen sink. Imagine the things that end up in your kitchen sink every day, and imagine it all building up. That drain eventually clogs.

In the body, the main drain is analogous to the gut and your liver, your main detox pathways and means for waste elimination. Should their function become impaired to some degree due to being overwhelmed with the quantity or quality of what it is trying to eliminate, the rate at which your body (the sink) can eliminate potentially toxic by-products of metabolism slows.

Now imagine this continues for years. The level in that clogged kitchen sink begins to rise, eventually reaching the point of spilling over. Each individual exhibits unique symptoms when this spillover occurs. Early research suggests that these symptoms of spillover can be anywhere from fatigue, mood disorders, developmental disorders, skin rashes, allergies, asthma, to serious complications such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or other severe immune dysregulation or autoimmunity.

This seems to depend on the degree of impairment in function of the drain, the quality of what is accumulating in the kitchen sink (what we put in and what we are exposed to, whether it be the food we eat, the medications we take, the environmental toxins we take in, or other factors), and what tools we use to assist the drain with the elimination of waste and toxicity.

Essentially, the integrity of the gut is analogous to the integrity of a drain, responsible for allowing everything to flow through the body with ease.

The Gut, the Brain, and the Gut-Brain Axis

Do you ever get a gut feeling: something you know in your gut even before your brain can explain it? What about butterflies in your stomach when you’re anticipating something? Perhaps when you experience stress you feel it in your gut without necessarily thinking about it.

Research continues to show us the strong links between the brain and the gut. For example, some small studies show that a leaky gut could imply a leaky brain. ‘Leakiness’, or hyperpermeability, in the gut, in part due to an imbalance in the flora, creates a playground for inflammation that cascades systemically throughout the body. Inflammation occurring in the gut might lead to inflammatory processes in the brain.[3] By the same token, what is occurring in the brain could affect the gut via the vagus nerve,[4] altering motility, function, and secretions.

In neurodegenerative diseases such as MS, one study identified hyperpermeability in the blood-brain barrier (BBB), as well as in the tight junctions of the intestinal wall.3 Another study linked this similar leakiness to the autoimmune response in the myelin sheath, or protective fatty layer wrapped around the nerves, causing a breakdown in function.[5]

The gut can also exhibit localized symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation among others, which can be transient and benign, or involve disease processes that penetrate deeper into the gut wall. “The clearest correlation between dysbiosis and disease has been found with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)…”,7 including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, in which strictures[6] and obstructions are among some of the serious complications.[7]

Effects on the gut-brain axis can cause changes to gut flora in conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).[8] Recent research also links depression and anxiety to an inflammatory reaction in the gut.8,[9]

Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS),[10] and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) have all shown alterations in gut flora.1,[11]

Understanding the gut’s influence on the brain as well as the brain’s influence on the gut is a fascinating step toward treating the person as a whole, and not exclusively by symptoms.

The Gut, Allergies, and Atopic Disease

While an obvious allergic reaction or anaphylaxis clearly allows you to identify its cause, the increasingly more common delayed food sensitivities can cause an array of symptoms anywhere from local abdominal pain and bloating to migraines, body pain, skin issues like rashes or acne, and so on.[12] These symptoms may not show up for hours or even days, making it tricky to figure out what is causing the reaction.

In practice it is quite common to have patients test positive for a few-to-many food allergens, when testing for serum immunoglobulins, only to have them eliminate those foods and find that 3 to 6 months later, they now test sensitive to foods they did not initially test sensitive to. This leads some practitioners to suspect that intestinal hyperpermeability (leaky gut) is a factor and may play a role in developing food sensitivities.[13]

Dysbiosis might also be a contributing factor. In infants, the development of food allergies and sensitivities could be related to an overabundance of certain types of pathogenic bacteria, such asClostridiae along with fewer good bacteria.[14]

One study found that in atopic disease such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), the skin microbiome, which the balance of the gut microbiome indirectly alters, is very different from that of healthy skin. The study found the same to be true for psoriasis.[15]

Other symptoms of atopic disease, such as asthma, also relate to gut health. Functional and structural abnormalities, specifically in asthma, relate to persisting inflammation in the lungs and link to altered gut flora. This predisposes an immune response to occur when allergens are present, causing sensitization to these allergens and subsequent symptoms of asthma.[16]

The Gut and Joint Pain

Dysbiosis and intestinal hyperpermeability might play a role in joint inflammation. When an antigen, such as an offending food or toxin enters the blood stream from the gut, the immune system kicks in. An antibody, plus its target antigen, bind together to form a ‘complex’. This complex circulates, causing other cascades of inflammation as it goes, finally depositing in places like the joints. The joints are particularly susceptible because there is low blood circulation to flush the inflammatory complexes out.

A toxemic theory, proposed at the turn of the 20th century, alluded to a build-up of this toxicity in the body from infectious agents ultimately promoting joint inflammation.[17] In a recent study, researchers have correlated an overgrowth ofPrevotella copri to an increased susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis.[18]

The Gut and Obesity

Alterations in the gut flora may play a part in the development of obesity.[19] (See the Inside Tract® issue 192.) Reduced bacterial diversity is common in obese individuals, which researchers believe may be interfering with metabolic pathways, since the gut harbours many microbes responsible for regulating metabolism and extracting energy from otherwise indigestible elements of the diet. One study reviewing the microbiome diversity of obese and lean mice suggests that microbes play a role in the efficiency of calorie use and calorie storage in the body.[20]

The Gut and the Immune System

Have you ever been the only person in your household who doesn’t get sick, or are you the first to get sick?

The gut is our main route of contact with the external world; 70% of the immune system is located in the gut. This is mediated through the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which is responsible for orienting immune response to contents in the gut and for the production of 80% or our main first immune response, that of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) in the mucous layer.

In a study on the effect of the gut microbiome on the flu virus infection, the immune modulating effects stretch far beyond the gut to the respiratory mucosa, acting protectively.[21]

Increasingly, some health care professionals recognize that disruptions in the commensal microflora may lead to immune dysfunction and autoimmunity.[22]

So Is Your Gut Friend or Foe?

It’s your friend!

If the gut is the root of all disease, as Hippocrates suggested, then, it could also be the root of all wellness.

In other words, if it is true that disease does begin, or has something to do with some amount of disruption, in the gut environment, then this could mean that the root of all health also lies in the gut and in healing the diversity of this environment.

What to Do?

Thus begins your journey of healing the gut.

First, when looking to protect and nourish a healthy gut, think basics: think slow food, single ingredient, whole food, colourful food, and think fresh, unprocessed, and seasonal food, live and fermented foods, and nutrient-dense foods.

As for what to minimize or avoid as much as you can, think medications such as antibiotics, oral birth control, NSAIDs, caffeine, alcohol, processed and genetically modified foods, processed sugar, foods you are sensitive or allergic to, food dyes, packaged, and pasteurized foods.

There is also much talk around seeding the microbiome of a baby’s gut before, during, and after birth. This promotes the development of a healthy immune system, through prenatal health care and preparation of the mother and father, natural vaginal birth, and breastfeeding, along with ongoing exposures to the environment through childhood to train the immune system and increase the diversity of the child’s microbiome.[23]

These basic things are a great start to help the gut move to a state of greater health, and therefore help the whole person establish or maintain health.

Keep in mind that once a disease state is already in process, testing and stronger treatments are required. These might include high dose nutrient supplementation, medications, or natural methods of assisting the body with eliminating accumulated toxins. Naturopathic doctors and functional medicine doctors are the experts in holistic care to help get you on track, deal with the root cause of illness, and address your individual needs. We work closely with your conventional medicine team to ensure a smooth, effective treatment plan.

Reference

[1]       Hadhazy, A. Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being. The emerging and surprising view of how the enteric nervous system in our bellies goes far beyond just processing the food we eat. Scientific American. February 12, 2010.

[2]       Cho I et al. The human microbiome: at the interface of health and disease. Nature Reviews Genetics. 2012;13:260-70.

[3]       Deretzi G et al. Gastrointestinal immune system and brain dialogue implicated in neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Current Molecular Medicine. 2011;11(8):696-707.

[4]       Fasano A. Leaky Gut and Autoimmune diseases. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol. 2012; 42:71-8.

[5]       Nouri M et al. Intestinal Barrier Dysfunction Develops at the Onset of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis, and Can Be Induced by Adoptive Transfer of Auto-Reactive T Cells. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(9):e106335.

[6]       Gumaste V et al. Benign and malignant colorectal strictures in ulcerative colitis. Gut. 1992;33(7):938-41.

[7]       Martin R et al. Role of commensal and probiotic bacteria in human health: a focus on inflammatory bowel disease.Microbial Cell Factories. 2013;12:71.

[8]       O’Mahonya S et al. Early Life Stress Alters Behavior, Immunity, and Microbiota in Rats: Implications for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Psychiatric Illnesses. Biological Psychiatry. 2009;65(3):263-7.

[9]       Dinan T et al. Melancholic microbes: a link between gut microbiota and depression? Neurogastroenterology & Motility. 2013; 25(9):713-9.

[10]     Rees JC. Obsessive–compulsive disorder and gut microbiota dysregulation. Medical Hypotheses. 2014;82(2):163-166.

[11]     Gilbert JA et al. Toward Effective Probiotics for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Cell. 2013;155(7):1446-8.

[12]     Gaby AR. The role of hidden food allergy/intolerance in chronic disease. Alternative Medicine Review. 1998;3(2):90-100.

[13]     Liu Z et al. Tight junctions, leaky intestines, and pediatric diseases. Acta Paediatrica. 2005;94:386–93.

[14]     Ling Z et al. Altered Fecal Microbiota Composition Associated with Food Allergy in Infants. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2014; 80(8):2546-54.

[15]     Zeeuwen P et al. Microbiome and skin diseases. Current Opinion in Allergy & Clinical Immunology. 2013;13(5):514-520.

[16]     Huang YJ et al. The microbiome and asthma. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014;11(1):48-51.

[17]     Brusca S et al. Microbiome and mucosal inflammation as extra-articular triggers for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmunity. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2014;26(1):101-7.

[18]     Scher J et al. Expansion of intestinal Prevotella copri correlates with enhanced susceptibility to arthritis. eLife Sciences, November 5, 2013.

[19]     Tsai F et al. The microbiome and obesity: Is obesity linked to our gut flora? Current Gastroenterology Reports. 2009;11(4):307-13.

[20]     Turnbaugh P et al. A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins. Nature. 2009;457:480-4.

[21]     Ichinohea T et al. Microbiota regulates immune defense against respiratory tract influenza A virus infection. PNAS. 2011;108(13):5354-9.

[22]     Fung I et al. Do Bugs Control Our Fate? The Influence of the Microbiome on Autoimmunity. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. 2012;12(6):511-9.

[23]     Torrazza R et al. The developing intestinal microbiome and its relationship to health and disease in the neonate.Journal of Perinatology. 2011;31:S29-S34.

Is the Antioxidant Melatonin Dangerous during Chemotherapy and Radiation? January 25, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Chemotherapy, Healing, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, stress.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

It is not unusual for patients to be intimidated by their medical oncologists to fear all natural therapies. They are told to specifically avoid all antioxidants because they will neutralize the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. This broad generalization that all antioxidants should be avoided is simply not supported by scientific evidence. On an intuitive level, it makes sense that if chemotherapy is creating oxidative damage as its mechanism of action then providing the body with antioxidants would theoretically neutralize this mechanism. There are legitimate concerns with specific chemotherapies and high doses of synthetic antioxidants. However, there are many double blind human trials which demonstrate that antioxidant supplementation at moderate doses decreases side effects without interfering with the effects of the chemotherapy12,13,14. There is also no debating that patients who consume natural sources of antioxidants respond better to chemotherapy and radiation with less side effects33,7. If antioxidants are to be feared, then why do patients with better antioxidant capacity in their blood respond better to these conventional therapies?

There are several things which must be considered. First of all this simplistic view that all antioxidants are bad has long been debunked and this is not supported in the scientific literature31. Secondly, not all chemotherapies work by creating oxidative damage so the argument against antioxidants in these cases is nonsense. Another important point is that antioxidants can help your healthy cells to recover from the residual toxic effects of chemotherapy28,29,30. To add to the hypocrisy of the “avoid all antioxidant stance”, it is not unusual for oncologists to administer powerful pharmaceutical antioxidants such as theophylline to reduce side effects from chemotherapy34.

The antioxidant capacity of your blood is a measure of how effectively your blood is capable of neutralizing free radicals. The consumption of antioxidant rich foods dramatically increases the concentration of antioxidants in the blood which consequently increases antioxidant capacity3. It is well known that patients who have lower antioxidant capacity in their blood have greater side effects to chemotherapy32.

The notion that all medical oncologists share this view of fearing antioxidants is simply not true. There are major integrative cancer centres in the US where naturopathic doctors work along-side medical oncologists and things like melatonin and Vitamin C are given as standard therapies to patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. Of course there are specific interactions that must be avoided and a Naturopathic Doctor who is skilled in oncology will be able to guide you to develop a safe and effective plan. You must have professional guidance when developing a treatment plan in the complicated clinical context of cancer.

One of the most common natural therapies given to patients undergoing chemotherapy is melatonin. I have heard on numerous occasions from patients who were warned from the cancer agency pharmacist that melatonin is contraindicated during chemotherapy and radiation because it is an antioxidant. What I find so bizarre about this statement is that virtually all of the available scientific literature literally says the opposite and strongly supports the use of melatonin with chemotherapy and radiation. The position of scaring patients about melatonin is not grounded in scientific evidence, they take this position because from a legal perspective it is easier to say avoid any and all antioxidants.

What does the research say about melatonin used in combination with chemotherapy? Several randomized double blind trials have tested patients with lung cancer who were treated with chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy in combination with melatonin. The melatonin group not only lived longer they also had significantly better quality of life when compared to the group not given melatonin15,16,17. Melatonin has been consistently shown to enhance the effects of chemotherapy while reducing side effects18,19,20,25. It is however important to point out that not all cancers are the same and melatonin is not indicated for all cancers. In fact, it is contraindicated with many blood cancers such as leukemia.

What does the scientific literature actually say about combining melatonin with radiation therapy? Patients who concurrently take melatonin during radiation therapy for glioblastoma live significantly longer than those who just received radiation therapy21. Melatonin helps to protect damage to the immune system during radiation22,23,24. Although melatonin is a well documented antioxidant, there are numerous studies which demonstrate that melatonin actually makes cancer cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation26,27.

When used appropriately certain antioxidants such as melatonin can reduce side effects from conventional cancer therapies without interfering with their effectiveness. Healthy cells need antioxidants too and when you consume natural sources of antioxidants the net effect is that it protects healthy cells much more than cancer cells. Ultimately this makes the drugs work just as well and the healthy cells are less damaged from the drug. When you consume a diet rich in antioxidants, the antioxidant capacity of your blood increases dramatically and the research clearly demonstrates that this is a good thing during chemotherapy and radiation.

Lets take a moment to look at the data about melatonin and its activity as an antioxidant. After consuming 80mg of melatonin the serum levels peak at approximately 100,000 pg/mL before rapidly dropping by the end of the day2. The standard dose of melatonin given during chemotherapy or radiation is 20mg. Based on this number it is fair to assume that the amount of melatonin in the blood would be approximately 25,000 pg/mL. At first glance this seems like a shockingly high number. It is well documented that when patients eat a diet high in antioxidant rich foods, that the antioxidant capacity of their blood increases and some of this is due to the melatonin in the food3. In one well controlled study after consuming approximately 1L of orange juice the participants had serum melatonin levels rise from 40 to 150 pg/mL1. This is still 150 times less than values that would be expected after consuming 20mg of melatonin.

The data must be taken into the proper context. True antioxidant capacity in the blood is never determined by one single molecule. It is the entire antioxidant network that gives the blood the capacity to neutralize free radicals. There is a potent synergy between hundreds of different antioxidants which counteracts oxidative damage in a balanced way. Each molecule on its own is only one small piece of the complicated antioxidant network. The mechanism by which melatonin neutralizes free radicals is very different from that of Vitamin C and Vitamin E5. Melatonin is often described in the literature as a terminal antioxidant which distinguishes itself from so called opportunistic antioxidants. The bottom line is that the addition of a single antioxidant does not necessarily impact the entire antioxidant capacity of the blood in a linear fashion.

This next section is a bit heavy in math but I feel that it is important to break down these details. Melatonin is approximately 2.04 times more potent of an antioxidant than a molecule called Trolox. This molecule Trolox is often used as a standard to measure the antioxidant capacity in the blood. Blueberries, which are best known for their antioxidant capacity have an ORAC value of 6552. This means that 100g of blueberries will have the same antioxidant capacity as 6552 micromoles of Trolox. Based on this information it is easy to calculate that 15.26mg of blueberries is the equivalent antioxidant capacity of 1 micromol of Trolox. If you convert these values to make it relevant to melatonin, each mg of melatonin is equivalent to 31.13g of blueberries. The standard dose of 20mg of melatonin during chemotherapy is the equivalent of a patient eating 622.71g of blueberries. In other words, if you eat a little over 1 pound of blueberries this should have the equivalent antioxidant effect as 20mg of melatonin.

There is no evidence to suggest that antioxidants from natural sources are dangerous during chemotherapy or radiation. In fact, virtually all of the literature clearly states that it is beneficial to get antioxidants from natural sources. By consuming antioxidant rich foods, patients have fewer side effects during conventional cancer treatments. Many studies have also clearly demonstrated that these foods do not interfere with the effectiveness of these therapies6,7,8,9,10,11. The debate is around synthetic supplementation with high doses of antioxidants during chemotherapy and radiation. Natural sources are well established as beneficial in these cases, as they protect healthy cells without interfering with the effects of conventional therapies9.

Blueberries are a great source of nutrients and they provide a balanced antioxidant support that is synergistic with chemotherapy and radiation. What is particularly interesting is that wild blueberries are much more effective at neutralizing free radicals than cultivated blueberries. Depending on which measurements you use, in some cases the wild blueberries have almost double the antioxidant capacity. So make sure you eat your blueberries and give your cells the nutrients they need!

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1) Sae‐Teaw, Manit, et al. “Serum melatonin levels and antioxidant capacities after consumption of pineapple, orange, or banana by healthy male volunteers.” Journal of pineal research 55.1 (2013): 58-64.

2) Waldhauser, Franz, et al. “Bioavailability of oral melatonin in humans.” Neuroendocrinology 39.4 (1984): 307-313.

3) Cao, Guohua, et al. “Increases in human plasma antioxidant capacity after consumption of controlled diets high in fruit and vegetables.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 68.5 (1998): 1081-1087.

4) Pieri, Carlo, et al. “Melatonin: a peroxyl radical scavenger more effective than vitamin E.” Life sciences 55.15 (1994): PL271-PL276.

5) Tan, D-X., et al. “Significance of melatonin in antioxidative defense system: reactions and products.” Neurosignals 9.3-4 (2000): 137-159.

6) Moss, Ralph W. “Should patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy be prescribed antioxidants?.” Integrative cancer therapies 5.1 (2006): 63-82.

7) Simone, Charles B., et al. “Antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy and can increase kill and increase survival, part 1.”Alternative therapies in health and medicine 13.1 (2007): 22.

8) Drisko, Jeanne A., Julia Chapman, and Verda J. Hunter. “The use of antioxidant therapies during chemotherapy.” Gynecologic oncology 88.3 (2003): 434-439.

9) Moss, Ralph W. “Do antioxidants interfere with radiation therapy for cancer?.” Integrative cancer therapies 6.3 (2007): 281-292.

10) Conklin, Kenneth A. “Cancer chemotherapy and antioxidants.” The Journal of nutrition134.11 (2004): 3201S-3204S.

11) Block, Keith I., et al. “Impact of antioxidant supplementation on chemotherapeutic toxicity: a systematic review of the evidence from randomized controlled trials.” International Journal of Cancer 123.6 (2008): 1227-1239.

12) Weijl, N. I., et al. “Supplementation with antioxidant micronutrients and chemotherapy-induced toxicity in cancer patients treated with cisplatin-based chemotherapy: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” European Journal of Cancer 40.11 (2004): 1713-1723.

13) Drisko, Jeanne A., Julia Chapman, and Verda J. Hunter. “The use of antioxidant therapies during chemotherapy.” Gynecologic oncology 88.3 (2003): 434-439.

14) Conklin, Kenneth A. “Dietary antioxidants during cancer chemotherapy: impact on chemotherapeutic effectiveness and development of side effects.” Nutrition and cancer 37.1 (2000): 1-18.

15) Lissoni, P., et al. “Five years survival in metastatic non‐small cell lung cancer patients treated with chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy and melatonin: a randomized trial.” Journal of pineal research 35.1 (2003): 12-15.

16) Lissoni, P., et al. “A randomized study of immunotherapy with low-dose subcutaneous interleukin-2 plus melatonin vs chemotherapy with cisplatin and etoposide as first-line therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer.” Tumori 80.6 (1994): 464-467.

17) Lissoni, P., et al. “Randomized study with the pineal hormone melatonin versus supportive care alone in advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer resistant to a first-line chemotherapy containing cisplatin.” Oncology 49.5 (1992): 336-339.

18) Govender, Jenelle, Ben Loos, and Anna-Mart Engelbrecht. “Melatonin: a protective role against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity.” Future Oncology 11.14 (2015): 2003-2006.

19) Tavakoli, Maryam. “Kidney protective effects of melatonin.” Journal of Nephropharmacology3.1 (2015).

20) Mills, Edward, et al. “Melatonin in the treatment of cancer: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and meta‐analysis.” Journal of pineal research 39.4 (2005): 360-366.

21) Lissoni, P., et al. “Increased survival time in brain glioblastomas by a radioneuroendocrine strategy with radiotherapy plus melatonin compared to radiotherapy alone.” Oncology 53.1 (1996): 43-46.

22) Thomas, Charles R., Russel J. Reiter, and Terence S. Herman. “Melatonin: from basic research to cancer treatment clinics.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 20.10 (2002): 2575-2601.

23) Srinivasan, Venkataramanujan, et al. “Therapeutic actions of melatonin in cancer: possible mechanisms.” Integrative Cancer Therapies 7.3 (2008): 189-203.

24) Blask, David E., Leonard A. Sauer, and Robert T. Dauchy. “Melatonin as a chronobiotic/anticancer agent: cellular, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms of action and their implications for circadian-based cancer therapy.” Current topics in medicinal chemistry 2.2 (2002): 113-132.

25) Conti, Ario, and Georges JM Maestroni. “The clinical neuroimmunotherapeutic role of melatonin in oncology.” Journal of pineal research 19.3 (1995): 103-110.

26) Alonso‐González, Carolina, et al. “Melatonin sensitizes human breast cancer cells to ionizing radiation by downregulating proteins involved in double‐strand DNA break repair.”Journal of pineal research 58.2 (2015): 189-197.

27) Alonso-González, Carolina, et al. “Melatonin enhancement of the radiosensitivity of human breast cancer cells is associated with the modulation of proteins involved in estrogen biosynthesis.” Cancer letters 370.1 (2016): 145-152.

28) Ladas, Elena J., et al. “Antioxidants and cancer therapy: a systematic review.” Journal of clinical oncology 22.3 (2004): 517-528.

29) Kasapović, Jelena, et al. “Antioxidant status and lipid peroxidation in the blood of breast cancer patients of different ages after chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide.” Clinical biochemistry 43.16 (2010): 1287-1293.

30) Chen, Yumin, et al. “Collateral damage in cancer chemotherapy: oxidative stress in nontargeted tissues.” Molecular interventions 7.3 (2007): 147.

31) Moss, Ralph W. “Should patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy be prescribed antioxidants?.” Integrative cancer therapies 5.1 (2006): 63-82.

32) Kennedy, Deborah D., et al. “Low antioxidant vitamin intakes are associated with increases in adverse effects of chemotherapy in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 79.6 (2004): 1029-1036.

33) Russo, Gian Luigi. “Ins and outs of dietary phytochemicals in cancer chemoprevention.”Biochemical Pharmacology 74.4 (2007): 533-544.

34) Benoehr, Peter, et al. “Nephroprotection by theophylline in patients with cisplatin chemotherapy: a randomized, single-blinded, placebo-controlled trial.” Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 16.2 (2005): 452-458.

“My Doctor told me to avoid Blueberries? But Chocolate is ok!” April 28, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Integrative Medicine.
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3 comments

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Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc(Hons)

I frequently hear from patients that their Medical Doctor bluntly told them to forget changing their diet because it does not make a difference, even though this is not accurate based on a large body of scientific evidence. I was very surprised to hear a patient tell me that their doctor told them to specifically avoid blueberries. This was the only dietary recommendation that they were given.

When I asked why the doctor prescribed such a bizarre dietary change the patient replied that the antioxidants from blueberries can interfere with the chemotherapy and radiation. Although I was happy to hear that this doctor was offering dietary advice, unfortunately this advice is not accurate. There is no evidence to suggest that antioxidants from natural sources are dangerous during chemotherapy or radiation. In fact, virtually all of the literature clearly states the opposite which is that it is very beneficial to get antioxidants from natural sources. By consuming antioxidant rich foods patients have less side effects during chemotherapy and radiation. Many studies have also clearly demonstrated that these foods do not interfere with the effectiveness of these conventional therapies2,3,4,5,6,7.

It is interesting to note that of all the foods in the world this doctor only picked one item: blueberries. I am not sure of the rationale with this recommendation because there are countless foods that have antioxidant properties. Although blueberries are commonly associated with being antioxidants they are not very potent antioxidants when compared to other common foods. The antioxidant capacity of a food is measured by a lab test which determines the ability of that food to neutralize free radicals. This is commonly known as the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) and a quick google search will clearly demonstrate that blueberries do not even make the top 50 for antioxidant capacity. These values are based on biological samples in vitro and it is not clear how significant these values are in the human body. What is clear, is that these values are a measure of the antioxidant capacity of these foods.

Depending on which source you look at blueberries have a ORAC value of approximately 6,500 which is not particularly high when compared to cinnamon which has an ORAC value of 265,000. In other words cinnamon is approximately 40 times stronger of an antioxidant compared to blueberries. Of course one could argue that you do not have as much cinnamon as blueberries, which is indeed true. However there are other foods consumed in comparable amounts to blueberries which have a significantly higher antioxidant capacity. Unsweetened cocoa powder has an ORAC value of 81,000 and baking chocolate has an ORAC value of 50,000. If you are having a food rich in chocolate then chances are you are consuming more antioxidants than if you are having blueberries1,8.

I am not suggesting that chocolate should be a primary source of antioxidants. I would certainly prefer that my patients get their antioxidants from blueberries rather than chocolate. There are many bioflavonoids in blueberries that are helpful in the context of cancer and the elevations in blood sugar from excessive chocolate consumption is not desirable in cancer patients. The point is that it is silly to single out one food as a antioxidant concern. The reality is that if you really want to cut antioxidants out of your diet it would involve much more than the elimination of blueberries. The advice of avoiding blueberries is confusing and it is simply not an evidence based dietary plan.

The bottom line is that these natural sources of antioxidants are very helpful in the context of cancer and there is no debate about this in the scientific community. The debate is around synthetic supplementation with high doses of antioxidants during chemotherapy and radiation. Natural sources are well established to be beneficial in these cases as they protect healthy cells without interfering with the effects of these conventional therapies5. So make sure you eat your blueberries and give your cells the nutrients that they need!

Blueberries are a great source of nutrients and they provide a balanced antioxidant support that is synergistic with chemotherapy and radiation. What is particularly interesting is that wild blueberries are much more effective at neutralizing free radicals when compared to cultivated blueberries. Depending on which measurements you use, in some cases the wild blueberries have almost double the antioxidant capacity!

If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation make sure that you contact a Naturopathic Doctor to develop an evidence based treatment plan that can support you through these therapies. During chemotherapy or radiation your cells are under a significant amount of stress and it is essential that you adequately supply your cells with the necessary nutrients. Diet is an important component of any integrative cancer therapy.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hons) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Authorhttp://www.dreamhealer.com

His clinical focus is Naturopathic Oncology and he currently practices as at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1) Haytowitz, David B., and Seema Bhagwat. “USDA database for the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of selected foods, Release 2.” US Department of Agriculture(2010).

2) Moss, Ralph W. “Should patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy be prescribed antioxidants?.” Integrative cancer therapies 5.1 (2006): 63-82.

3) Simone, Charles B., et al. “Antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy and can increase kill and increase survival, part 1.”Alternative therapies in health and medicine 13.1 (2007): 22.

4) Drisko, Jeanne A., Julia Chapman, and Verda J. Hunter. “The use of antioxidant therapies during chemotherapy.” Gynecologic oncology 88.3 (2003): 434-439.

5) Moss, Ralph W. “Do antioxidants interfere with radiation therapy for cancer?.” Integrative cancer therapies 6.3 (2007): 281-292.

6) Conklin, Kenneth A. “Cancer chemotherapy and antioxidants.” The Journal of nutrition134.11 (2004): 3201S-3204S.

7) Block, Keith I., et al. “Impact of antioxidant supplementation on chemotherapeutic toxicity: a systematic review of the evidence from randomized controlled trials.” International Journal of Cancer 123.6 (2008): 1227-1239.

8) Vertuani, Silvia, et al. “Evaluation of Antiradical Activity of Different Cocoa and Chocolate Products: Relation with Lipid and Protein Composition.” Journal of medicinal food 17.4 (2014): 512-516.

Medical Oncologists and Naturopathic Doctors Need To Work Together March 10, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy.
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oncologists_and_naturopaths

Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

This year I had the privilege of attending the 4th annual ONCANP conference where Naturopathic Oncologists from around the world gather to discuss the latest research and advances in integrative oncology. It is exciting to see how rapidly the field is advancing and the information that was presented can certainly be applied in a clinical setting to anyone battling cancer.

I was interested to learn at the conference that several cancer clinics in the United States have Naturopathic doctors working at hospitals in collaboration with medical oncologists. The results from this collaboration are nothing short of incredible. When the data is compared to the national standards it is clear that the patients are living longer with an increased quality of life in this integrative cancer setting. One stunning example was with Stage 3 Lung Adenocarcinoma patients where the overall survival was 36 months compared to the national average of around 12 months. Study after study showed that patients were responding more effectively to the chemotherapy and that they were having less side effects. I find it extremely frustrating that this integrative model is not universal given the abundance of evidence.

Major change is needed in the medical system to incorporate this integrative model because the bottom line is that it works. The problem at this point in time is that many Medical Oncologists refuse to work with Naturopathic Doctors at all. Instead, they tell their patients to avoid all natural supplements because they will interfere with the conventional treatments. This is simply not true and it is very easy to find robust evidence supporting these integrative therapies.

Patients are not stupid, when they are given a serious diagnosis they turn to the internet in search of answers even if their oncologist says that they are wasting their time. The problem is that patients do not have the medical knowledge to recognize which supplements are appropriate for them and which ones are completely contraindicated. By telling patients to avoid all supplements and avoid all Naturopathic Doctors, patients are driven to doing their own research and taking supplements without informing their oncologist. The reality is that they need professional guidance from a Naturopathic Doctor to pick the right supplements and the Naturopathic Doctor should then inform the Oncologist about the treatment plan that the patient is on. This creates a better healing environment for the patient and it ensures that everyone is on the same page about the treatment plan.

In the past I have had Oncologists scare patients about the most benign prescriptions or supplements. Patients have been told that Omega-3’s will accelerate tumour growth because it is an “antioxidant” or that EGCG “protects cancer cells” in a patient not even on chemotherapy. These statements are simply untrue and a quick literature search would reveal dozens of references regarding the safety and effectiveness of these supplements. I have also had a number of patients who were told to discontinue a prescription of Metformin or Celebrex only when the MD found out that a Naturopathic doctor prescribed it. In these cases the patients were responding very well to the chemotherapy and they were taking these medications during this entire time period. The pharmacist who filled the prescription also didn’t have a problem with it and I am sure that had a MD prescribed the exact same thing they would have never recommended that the patient discontinue it.

Patients should not be put in a position where they are being forced to make decisions based on one health care practitioner putting fear into them about another health care practitioner. If the medical oncologist has a problem with a prescription that I write, then they should contact me about it. Just as if I change a prescription from any medical doctor I will always make an effort to inform them of this change. It is not appropriate to put the patient in this position and scare them so significantly about something so minor. Having said that, I also feel that Naturopathic Doctors need to make more of an effort to reach out to medical doctors. We also need to make more of an effort to act collaboratively for the benefit of the patient.

When I say that we need to move to an integrative model I am not suggesting that patients should avoid chemotherapy. What this means is that we use evidence based treatment plans to work synergistically with conventional medicine. Very few of my patients are not doing chemotherapy or radiation because ultimately patients do best when they are adequately supported through these conventional therapies. What many medical oncologists do not realize is that very often Naturopathic Oncologists are encouraging patients to do the same plan that they recommended. Often the oncologist scared the patient away from the conventional therapy just based on how they described the treatment. As Naturopathic Oncologists, we make an effort to educate the patient and give them the support that they need through these conventional therapies. When patients feel supported they are more likely to follow through with chemotherapy and they will respond better to treatment.

I have send out many letters to medical oncologists informing them of the treatment plan and many do not even reply to my letter. A handful of oncologists have replied and I have a good relationship with these doctors. Medical Oncologists need to stop pretending like Naturopathic Doctors don’t exist or that we have nothing to offer. For the benefit of the patient every medical oncologist should make an effort to establish a good relationship with a Naturopathic doctor that they trust. Whether they like it or not, patients are seeking this integrative care and they should at least be directed to a Naturopathic doctor that can collaborate with the medical oncologist. We need to work together for the benefit of the patient.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

DCA and Cancer March 9, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Integrative Medicine.
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dca_and_cancer

By: Dr. Adam McLeod , ND, BSc

Several years ago there was a huge buzz in the media about Dichloroacetic Acid (DCA) and its use in cancer1. The public was outraged that DCA could be an effective cancer therapy and that the government showed little interest because DCA could not be patented. The drug companies ignored any evidence related to this therapy because without a patent it was simply not a profitable venture. Fortunately, some private researchers raised enough money to continue studies into this simple yet effective therapy.

DCA was initially used for lactic acidosis, a condition where the blood has high levels of lactic acid. The DCA inhibits the enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase which causes a major shift in metabolism from fermentation to oxidation in the mitochondria2. In other words, it forces the mitochondria in cells to become more active. This is relevant to cancer because the survival of cancer cells depends on the mitochondria being dormant. The mitochondria are capable of triggering cell death in abnormal or damaged cells. Cancer cells are grossly abnormal and they often depend on the mitochondria being inactive.

The ultimate goal of this therapy is to activate the mitochondria and allow them to trigger cell death in the abnormal cancerous cells. The DCA will certainly help to activate these pathways but it is essential that patients also exercise. By regularly doing aerobic exercise you are also stimulating the mitochondria. The excessive energetic demands during exercise trigger the mitochondria to be more active and burn oxygen. DCA when combined with exercise significantly increases the consumption of oxygen by the mitochondria which is an indication that the mitochondria are being further activated5.

It is essential for cancer patients (not just patients on DCA) to do aerobic exercise if they are physically able to. It does not matter what that type of exercise it is, just as long as it is a moderate aerobic exercise that you are able to do on a regular basis. There is an overwhelming body of evidence which clearly shows that cancer patients who regularly exercise simply do much better than those who do not. It is possible that this mitochondrial activation could be one of the reasons for this.

Most of the research seems to indicate that DCA is more effective for cancers that are localized in the nervous system3. Although it can be used for other types of cancer, it is less indicated for cancers that do not localize to the nervous system. A very common side effect from chemotherapy is neuropathy4 and DCA should be used with caution if there are any signs of neuropathy. There are no known drug interactions with DCA except for the drug Lasix which is a diuretic. Overall DCA is a very safe therapy and there are many studies that demonstrate the safety of this therapy.

The bottom line is that DCA is an effective therapy when used appropriately. It is not a cure on its own but DCA can be a major part of an effective and comprehensive integrative cancer treatment plan. It can be administered either orally or intravenously. The oral dose is typically 15-20mg/kg and it is cycled 2 weeks on followed by 1 week off. It is extremely important to have the appropriate neurological support during this therapy. DCA is known to cause significant neuropathy and you must be monitored by a physician who is experienced with the use of DCA. Common neurological support includes NAC, Thiamine (B1) and ALA. It is essential that you consult with a Naturopathic physician who focuses in oncology to know what neurological support is best suited for you.

A Naturopathic doctor that works with oncology will take the time to look at your case and will write you a prescription for DCA if it is truly indicated. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic to see if this is the right therapy for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References

1) “Cheap, ‘safe’ drug kills most cancers”. New Scientist. 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2014-08-23.

2) Stacpoole PW (1989). “The pharmacology of dichloroacetate”. Metabolism 38 (11): 1124–1144. doi:10.1016/0026-0495(89)90051-6. PMID 2554095

3) Michelakis E D, et al. Metabolic Modulation of Glioblastoma with Dichloriacetate. Sci Transl Med 12 May 2010: Vol. 2, Issue 31

4) Abramowski MC. Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathic Pain. J of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology. 2010;1:279-283.

5) Ludvik, Bernhard, et al. “Effects of dichloroacetate on exercise performance in healthy volunteers.” Pflügers Archiv423.3-4 (1993): 251-254.

DCA and Cancer August 27, 2014

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Integrative Medicine, naturopathic, Naturopathic Medicine, Research.
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DCA and it's use in integrative oncology

DCA and it’s use in integrative oncology

By: Dr. Adam McLeod , ND, BSc

Several years ago there was a huge buzz in the media about Dichloroacetic Acid (DCA) and its use in cancer1. The public was outraged that DCA could be an effective cancer therapy and that the government showed little interest because DCA could not be patented. The drug companies ignored any evidence related to this therapy because without a patent it was simply not a profitable venture. Fortunately, some private researchers raised enough money to continue studies into this simple yet effective therapy.

DCA was initially used for lactic acidosis, a condition where the blood has high levels of lactic acid. The DCA inhibits the enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase which causes a major shift in metabolism from fermentation to oxidation in the mitochondria2. In other words, it forces the mitochondria in cells to become more active. This is relevant to cancer because the survival of cancer cells depends on the mitochondria being dormant. The mitochondria are capable of triggering cell death in abnormal or damaged cells. Cancer cells are grossly abnormal and they often depend on the mitochondria being inactive.

The ultimate goal of this therapy is to activate the mitochondria and allow them to trigger cell death in the abnormal cancerous cells. The DCA will certainly help to activate these pathways but it is essential that patients also exercise. By regularly doing aerobic exercise you are also stimulating the mitochondria. The excessive energetic demands during exercise trigger the mitochondria to be more active and burn oxygen. DCA when combined with exercise significantly increases the consumption of oxygen by the mitochondria which is an indication that the mitochondria are being further activated5.

It is essential for cancer patients (not just patients on DCA) to do aerobic exercise if they are physically able to. It does not matter what that type of exercise it is, just as long as it is a moderate aerobic exercise that you are able to do on a regular basis. There is an overwhelming body of evidence which clearly shows that cancer patients who regularly exercise simply do much better than those who do not. It is possible that this mitochondrial activation could be one of the reasons for this.

Most of the research seems to indicate that DCA is more effective for cancers that are localized in the nervous system3. Although it can be used for other types of cancer, it is less indicated for cancers that do not localize to the nervous system. A very common side effect from chemotherapy is neuropathy4 and DCA should be used with caution if there are any signs of neuropathy. There are no known drug interactions with DCA except for the drug Lasix which is a diuretic. Overall DCA is a very safe therapy and there are many studies that demonstrate the safety of this therapy.

The bottom line is that DCA is an effective therapy when used appropriately. It is not a cure on its own but DCA can be a major part of an effective and comprehensive integrative cancer treatment plan. It can be administered either orally or intravenously. The oral dose is typically 15-20mg/kg and it is cycled 2 weeks on followed by 1 week off. It is extremely important to have the appropriate neurological support during this therapy. DCA is known to cause significant neuropathy and you must be monitored by a physician who is experienced with the use of DCA. Common neurological support includes NAC, Thiamine (B1) and ALA. It is essential that you consult with a Naturopathic physician who focuses in oncology to know what neurological support is best suited for you.

A Naturopathic doctor that works with oncology will take the time to look at your case and will write you a prescription for DCA if it is truly indicated. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic to see if this is the right therapy for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References

1) “Cheap, ‘safe’ drug kills most cancers”. New Scientist. 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2014-08-23.

2) Stacpoole PW (1989). “The pharmacology of dichloroacetate”. Metabolism 38 (11): 1124–1144. doi:10.1016/0026-0495(89)90051-6PMID 2554095

3) Michelakis E D, et al. Metabolic Modulation of Glioblastoma with Dichloriacetate. Sci Transl Med 12 May 2010: Vol. 2, Issue 31

4) Abramowski MC. Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathic Pain. J of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology. 2010;1:279-283.

5) Ludvik, Bernhard, et al. “Effects of dichloroacetate on exercise performance in healthy volunteers.” Pflügers Archiv 423.3-4 (1993): 251-254.

Iron and Anemia in Cancer Patients August 7, 2014

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Healing, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Research.
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Adam dreamhealer wiki exposed

By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

Everyone has seen someone with cancer who looks pale and depleted with energy. This is often due to anemia which means that there are less red blood cells to transport oxygen to tissues in the body. There are a number of different potential causes for this and one of the most common causes is low iron. When a doctor looks at blood work that clearly says “low iron” there is often an immediate response to supplement the patient with iron. However, we should not be so quick to prescribe iron to every cancer patient that is showing signs of anemia.

The interactions between iron and cancer are very complex and altered iron metabolism is considered a key metabolic “hallmark of cancer”1. It is clear that iron has roles in all aspects of cancer development, including the tumour microenvironment and metastasis. As evidenced by the expression pattern of ‘iron genes’ in malignant tumours, it is not simply associated with cancer, but also is indicative of a patient’s chances of survival2.

Our bodies have evolved to tightly partition and limit the amount of available iron. The iron deficiency anemia that is observed in cancer patients may actually be the bodies response to the presence of cancer. By limiting the availability of iron in circulation, there is less available for the cancer to utilize. If the patient is given iron then you are essentially fighting against the bodies effort to lower the iron levels.

There are a number of different studies that clearly show a strong connection between low iron levels and decreased cancer risk. It is well documented that people who regularly donate blood have lower rates of developing cancer3. This is likely connected to decreased iron levels following donation of blood. A popular natural cancer therapy called curcumin, acts as a potent natural chelator of iron5. It is thought that some of the observed anti-cancer properties might be due to the fact that it powerfully sequesters iron away from cancer cells6.

Recent research indicates that tumours create their own iron-rich micro-environment to evade constraints that are imposed by limited systemic iron availability. Cancer cells will sequester iron and it is possible that this allows the cancer cells to mutate more quickly. Iron reacts with oxygen to produce free radicals that damage DNA. Normally this is not desirable, however, this allows cancer cells to adapt more quickly to different conditions when the DNA is being constantly damaged on a low level. This consistent damage from excess iron is thought to increase the mutation rate of the DNA within the cancer cells. This recent evidence for regulation of iron in the tumour micro-environment represents a new paradigm in iron biology4.

Of course there are some situations where iron must be prescribed but it should not be done unnecessarily. Many effective cancer therapies work by actually decreasing the level of iron in the blood. If the red blood cells are reduced in number and smaller than normal (low MCV) then you very likely have iron deficiency anemia. It is very important to also check the level of ferritin to check on your bodies ability to transport iron.

A Naturopathic doctor that works with oncology will take the time to look at your case and will write you a prescription for iron if it is truly indicated. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic to see if this is the right therapy for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1) Hanahan D, Weinberg RA. Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation. Cell. 2011;144:646–674. [PubMed]

2) Miller LD, et al. An iron regulatory gene signature predicts outcome in breast cancer. Cancer Res. 2011;71:6728–6737. [PMC free article]

3) Edgren G, et al. Donation frequency, iron loss, and risk of cancer among blood donors. J. Natl Cancer Inst. 2008;100:572–579. [PubMed]

4) Torti, Suzy V., and Frank M. Torti. “Iron and cancer: more ore to be mined.” Nature Reviews Cancer 13.5 (2013): 342-355.

5) Jiao Y, et al. Iron chelation in the biological activity of curcumin. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2006;40:1152–1160. [PubMed]

6) Jiao Y, et al. Curcumin, a cancer chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent, is a biologically active iron chelator. Blood. 2009;113:462–469. [PMC free article]

Mistletoe the parasite July 16, 2014

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, Dreamhealer, Health, Integrative Medicine, Research.
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Mistletoe therapy is emerging as a potent cancer therapy

Mistletoe therapy is emerging as a potent cancer therapy

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that directly derives almost all of its nutrition from other flowering plants. By parasitizing other plants, they have a competitive advantage over many other forms of life because they do not have to compete in soil for their water and nutrient needs. This description of mistletoe sounds surprisingly similar to how cancer operates. When you look at mistletoe growing on a tree it looks very much like a tumour. Cancer gets all of its nutrition from other cells within the human body and it has a competitive advantage because it does not abide by the same rules as other cells in the body.

It turns out the mistletoe can be used to effectively treat cancer, even in advanced cases1,2,3. In North America this is often considered a “fringe treatment” yet if you go to Germany this is a mainstream therapy that is well established by the scientific community. The use of mistletoe dramatically reduces the side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation. The effects are so dramatic that some countries have already made this the standard of care for cancer treatment. The use of mistletoe as the new standard of care was of huge financial benefit to these countries because of the significant decrease in complications from chemotherapy and radiation.

Although there are several different ways to administer mistletoe, the most common is regular subcutaneous injections. This involves the use of small insulin needles and injecting the mistletoe just under the skin. After injecting the mistletoe lectins the immune system immediately begins to attack the injected fluid resulting in a small red rash around the injection site. This immune activation is an excellent outcome in the context of cancer. By activating the immune system at the site of injection it consequently activates the immune system in the entire body.

Mistletoe has been shown to stimulate increases in the number and the activity of several types of white blood cells4. Immune-system-enhancing cytokines, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor -alpha, are released by white blood cells after exposure to mistletoe extracts5,6. Other evidence suggests that mistletoe exerts its cytotoxic effects by interfering with protein synthesis in target cells and by inducing apoptosis7.

Just like any cancer therapy it is essential that it is used in the right context. When this therapy is used there will initially be a swelling of the tumour, this is a consequence of the immune activation. If there are any detectable masses contained within the skull, then clearly swelling is not desirable. Mistletoe therapy is contraindicated in patients that have any detectable mass in the brain. It also must be used with caution on patients that are are cachexic and malnourished. The sudden release of cytokines associated with immune activation can worsen the malnourished state.

Mistletoe therapy only costs approximately $250 dollars per month and it can be used in conjunction with other medical therapies. I regularly use mistletoe with my patients at the clinic and it is an effective cancer therapy when used appropriately. On a regular basis I see patients improve when they use this therapy as part of a comprehensive integrative cancer therapy. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic to see if this is the right therapy for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

 

References:

1. Mistletoe. In: Murray MT: The Healing Power of Herbs. Roseville, Calif: Prima Publishing, 1995, pp 253-9.

2. Samtleben R, Hajto T, Hostanska K, et al.: Mistletoe lectins as immunostimulants (chemistry, pharmacology and clinic). In: Wagner H, ed.: Immunomodulatory Agents from Plants. Basel, Switzerland: Birkhauser Verlag, 1999, pp 223-41.

3. Hajto T, Lanzrein C: Natural killer and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity activities and large granular lymphocyte frequencies in Viscum album-treated breast cancer patients. Oncology 43 (2): 93-7, 1986.

4. Büssing A, Regnery A, Schweizer K: Effects of Viscum album L. on cyclophosphamide-treated peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro: sister chromatid exchanges and activation/proliferation marker expression. Cancer Lett 94 (2): 199-205, 1995.

5. Hajto T: Immunomodulatory effects of iscador: a Viscum album preparation. Oncology 43 (Suppl 1): 51-65, 1986.

6. Hajto T, Hostanska K, Frei K, et al.: Increased secretion of tumor necrosis factors alpha, interleukin 1, and interleukin 6 by human mononuclear cells exposed to beta-galactoside-specific lectin from clinically applied mistletoe extract. Cancer Res 50 (11): 3322-6, 1990.

7. Mengs U, Schwarz T, Bulitta M, et al.: Antitumoral effects of an intravesically applied aqueous mistletoe extract on urinary bladder carcinoma MB49 in mice. Anticancer Res 20 (5B): 3565-8, 2000 Sep- Oct.

When is high dose IV Vitamin C indicated? June 22, 2014

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, Chemotherapy, Health, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, vitamins.
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vancouver naturopath vitamin c

High dose IV Vitamin C is emerging as a powerful cancer therapy

By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND

High dose intravenous Vitamin C has gained a lot of attention in the media lately as an anti-cancer therapy. There is no doubt that when used appropriately this can be an effective integrative cancer therapy1. As the evidence mounts, mainstream medicine is slowly beginning to embrace high dose IV Vitamin C.

Oncologists will frequently tell their patients to fear antioxidants because they will neutralize the effects of the chemotherapy. The rationale is that chemotherapy works by adding oxidative stress to cancer cells and antioxidants will neutralize this effect. On an intuitive level this makes sense but the majority of the scientific evidence indicates that when used appropriately antioxidants protect healthy cells without interfering with the effects of the chemotherapy2,3.

It is important to point out that Vitamin C is not an antioxidant when given at high doses intravenously4. When taken orally at low doses Vitamin C is an effective antioxidant and it has many positive benefits. At high doses Vitamin C switches roles and acts as a potent oxidative molecule, which is the complete opposite of its antioxidant role at lower doses. Studies show that at high doses Vitamin C is very toxic to cancer cells6. In this cellular context it is a potent oxidative molecule that works synergistically with most conventional therapies.

Patients who undergo this therapy tend to experience less significant side effects from the chemotherapy7,8. IV Vitamin C can vastly improve quality of life by increasing appetite, raising platelet counts, easing fatigue and reducing pain. When patients are supported by the appropriate nutrients and supplements, the side effects from chemotherapy are less intense. Studies consistently show that at these high doses, Vitamin C is toxic to cancer cells while protecting healthy cells from the effects of chemotherapy. The evidence indicates that IV Vitamin C is effective when used in conjunction with chemotherapy rather than as a stand alone therapy.

There are several different situations where high dose IV Vitamin C is not safe. Although it is safe to use with most chemotherapies, it is not safe to use with Velcade (Bortezomib)5. There are a number of studies that show a negative interaction between this particular drug and Vitamin C. When injecting Vitamin C there is a significant amount of sodium that is in the infusion and this can add a significant burden to the kidneys. This stress to the kidneys is only a concern in patients that have significantly compromised kidney function. There is also a rare genetic condition known as G6PD and in these patients it is not safe to give them high doses of Vitamin C. You need an experienced health care professional to assess your health history and ensure that you do not have any contraindications to this therapy.

I regularly run IV Vitamin C on my patients at the clinic and it is a very effective cancer therapy when used appropriately. On a regular basis I see patients improve significantly when they use this therapy as part of a comprehensive integrative cancer therapy. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic to see if this is the right therapy for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

 

References:

1) Vollbracht, Claudia, et al. “Intravenous vitamin C administration improves quality of life in breast cancer patients during chemo-/radiotherapy and aftercare: results of a retrospective, multicentre, epidemiological cohort study in Germany.” in vivo 25.6 (2011): 983-990.

2) Suhail, N., et al. “Effect of vitamins C and E on antioxidant status of breast‐cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.” Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics 37.1 (2012): 22-26.

3) Tabassum, A., R. G. Bristow, and V. Venkateswaran. “Ingestion of selenium and other antioxidants during prostate cancer radiotherapy: a good thing?.” Cancer treatment reviews36.3 (2010): 230-234.

4) Carr, Anitra, and Balz Frei. “Does vitamin C act as a pro-oxidant under physiological conditions?.” The FASEB Journal 13.9 (1999): 1007-1024.

5) Perrone, G., et al. “Ascorbic acid inhibits antitumor activity of bortezomib in vivo.” Leukemia23.9 (2009): 1679-1686.

6) Riordan, N. H., et al. “Intravenous ascorbate as a tumor cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agent.”Medical hypotheses 44.3 (1995): 207-213.

7) Weijl, N. I., et al. “Supplementation with antioxidant micronutrients and chemotherapy-induced toxicity in cancer patients treated with cisplatin-based chemotherapy: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” European Journal of Cancer 40.11 (2004): 1713-1723.

8) Takemura, Yukitoshi, et al. “High dose of ascorbic acid induces cell death in mesothelioma cells.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 394.2 (2010): 249-253.

Heat: The Achilles Heel of Cancer June 2, 2014

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Dreamhealer, Healing, Health, Integrative Medicine, naturopathic, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy, Prostate Cancer, Research.
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vancouver naturopathic clinic

Heat: The Achilles Heel of Cancer

Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND

It is a well established fact that cancer cells are vulnerable to heat1,2. On a cellular level it makes intuitive sense that cancer cells would be sensitive to heat. Normal cells are spatially arranged so that heat can be distributed evenly and they will not divide if they are physically in contact with adjacent cells. Cancer cells within a tumour will continue to divide regardless of the proximity of adjacent cells; this is one of the hallmarks of cancer. As a result of this uncontrolled growth, the cells in the tumour become densely packed together and this makes it very difficult for them to effectively distribute heat.

Hyperthermia treatment is rapidly becoming a mainstream therapy for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. During these treatments the patients’ core body temperature is artificially raised to mimic a strong fever. This is not a pleasant experience for the patient but it is very effective at weakening the cancer cells. It makes these cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiation.

When any cell is exposed to heat there are immediate biochemical and genetic changes that occur so that the cell can adapt to the new warm environment. One of the most potent responses that allows these cells to survive the heat is the production of heat shock proteins (HSP)3. These HSPs protect components within the cell that are vulnerable to heat damage and during hyperthermia the production of these proteins within cancer cells is what allows them to survive. Currently there is a major push with pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs that inhibit these proteins.

There are several different natural compounds which are well documented heat shock protein inhibitors. These substances are safe when used in the right clinical context and you need to consult a Naturopathic Doctor to know if this is the best therapy for that specific type of cancer. One example is Quercetin, a bioflavonoid that is well documented as a potent inhibitor of heat shock proteins in cancer cells4,5,6,7,8,9.

Cancer cells are naturally very vulnerable to heat based on how densely the cells are packed together. When hyperthermia is combined with Quercetin the results are very dramatic10. In one study on prostate carcinoma they concluded that, “When combined in a treatment protocol with hyperthermia, Quercetin drastically inhibited tumour growth and potently amplified the effects of hyperthermia on two prostate tumour types, PC-3 and DU-145 in vivo. These experiments, thus, suggest the use of Quercetin as a hyperthermia sensitizer in the treatment of prostate carcinoma.”

It is extremely important to point out two things. Firstly, Quercetin is safe with most but not all chemotherapy drugs and you need professional guidance from a Naturopathic Doctor who focuses in oncology to know if this is safe for you. Secondly, the quality of the Quercetin supplement makes a big difference. Generally speaking Quercetin is very poorly absorbed and there are only a few professional brands of sufficient quality that are effective at sensitizing the cancer cells. In some cases, intravenous Quercetin is more appropriate.

The mainstream medical community is changing its tune with regards to hyperthermia. In private hospitals in the United States it is very commonly used because it is so effective. In Canada, there are only a handful of clinics that currently offer this therapy. As the evidence for this therapy accumulates, in the near future hyperthermia combined with these natural approaches will undoubtedly become the standard of care for cancer patients.

 

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1. Van der Zee J. Heating the patient: a promising approach? Ann Oncol, 2002. 13(8): p. 1173-84.

2. Van der Zee J and MC Erasmus. Hyperthermia in addition to radiotherapy. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol), 2007. 19(3 Suppl): S18.

3. De Maio A (January 1999). “Heat shock proteins: facts, thoughts, and dreams”. Shock (Augusta, Ga.) 11 (1):1-12.

4.  Hansen, R. K., et al. “Quercetin inhibits heat shock protein induction but not heat shock factor DNA-binding in human breast carcinoma cells.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 239.3 (1997): 851-856.

5. Gonzalez, Oscar, et al. “The heat shock protein inhibitor Quercetin attenuates hepatitis C virus production.” Hepatology 50.6 (2009): 1756-1764.

6. Wei, Yu-quan, et al. “Induction of apoptosis by quercetin: involvement of heat shock protein.” Cancer Research 54.18 (1994): 4952-4957.

7. Zanini, Cristina, et al. “Inhibition of heat shock proteins (HSP) expression by quercetin and differential doxorubicin sensitization in neuroblastoma and Ewing’s sarcoma cell lines.” Journal of neurochemistry 103.4 (2007): 1344-1354.

8. Hosokawa, Nobuko, et al. “Flavonoids inhibit the expression of heat shock proteins.” Cell structure and function 15.6 (1990): 393-401.

9. Elia, Guiliano, and M. G. Santoro. “Regulation of heat shock protein synthesis by quercetin in human erythroleukaemia cells.” Biochem. J 300 (1994): 201-209.

10. Asea, A., et al. “Effects of the flavonoid drug quercetin on the response of human prostate tumours to hyperthermia in vitro and in vivo.” International journal of hyperthermia 17.4 (2001): 347-356.

 

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