Health Matters Blog

Mood, Gut Bacteria, and the Immune System

Many people would be surprised that the immune system, the gastro-intestinal tract and stress interact, but that is what the most recent of a number of studies shows. In this study on mice, (Brain, Behavior, and Immunity Volume 25, Issue 3, March 2011, Pages 397-407. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21040780)  researchers demonstrated that  psychological stress causes almost immediate changes to the gut bacterial population, and that some of these affected sub-populations strongly influence the effect that stress has on immunity. In the study, the researchers exposed mice to social disruption, which is known…

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Laughing Gas (Nitrous Oxide) is No Laughing Matter

I was wandering around the internet last night, looking for scholarly articles on something called ‘methylation pathways’, when I came across a very disturbing article on the potentially quite toxic interaction between nitrous oxide (NO2) and certain states of B12 deficiency. Before getting into the nitty gritty, bottom line, let me give you some background. Nitrous Oxide (NO2)-commonly referred to as ‘laughing gas’ was used for years in the practice of dentistry.  It is used currently as part of general anesthesia, and recently has been…

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Light Therapy & Health

Your Biologic Clock Your Biologic Clock keeps our body rhythms and sleep –wake cycles in synch with the light-day cycle of the earth. It is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hormone control center of the brain, the hypothalamus.  When light enters the eye, it activates this part of the brain and reduces production of the sleep hormone (melatonin) produced in the pineal gland of the brain.  The light also acts to the release of a variety of other hormones and affects body…

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Can a Brain Be on Fire?

Yes!  Over the last 20 years, ample evidence has accumulated to prove that inflammation in the body causes changes in the brain that lead to depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and memory problems. Inflammation comes from the Latin  ‘inflammare’ — to set on fire.  Our brain is ‘on fire’ when it is inflamed, or when our body is inflamed. What sets your brain on fire? Your body experiences inflammation the way your skin reacts to a cut:  The area becomes swollen, warmer, and it may hurt. …

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Highest Rates of Bipolar Disorder in the United States: Why?

According to a new study discussed on Health.com “about 2.4% of people around the world have had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at some point in their lifetime, according to the first comprehensive international figures on the topic.The United States has the highest lifetime rate of bipolar disorder at 4.4%, and India the lowest, with 0.1%”.  Bipolar disorder has a strong genetic component. Depending on which studies you look at, the  gentics acount for anywhere from 40-60% of the vulnerability. While that seems like a high number it…

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Nutrition and Depression: Nutrition, Neuronal Protection, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D and Depression, Part 3

Nutrition, Neuronal Protection and DepressionNeuronal protection (protection against cognitive decline) requires glutathione peroxidase (a crucial enzyme which requires selenium, cysteine, carotenoids, zinc,  and vitamin E) is an important aspect of the treatment of mood disorders both because they tend to be recurrent over one’s life, and because they are associated with neuronal loss in specific parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus. R-lipoic acid, vitamin C and omega 3 fatty acids are also critical to neuronal protection. Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, and…

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Nutrition and Depression: Nutrition, Methylation, and Depression, Part 2

Nutrition, Methylation, and DepressionNutritional support for the methylation cycle is another area in which nutrition plays a critical role.  The methylation cycle is essential for mental and physical health.  It is critical to the metabolism of catecholamines in the synapse via an enzyme (COMT) as well as the synthesis of ‘depression-relevant’ compounds such as melatonin, myelin basic protein, carnitine, CoQ10, etc.  Methylation is required to inactivate histamine. Basic nutrients necessary for normal function of this cycle include B12, glycine, serine, activated B6, selenium, cysteine, methionine…

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Nutrition and Depression: State of the Science and Treatment, Part 1

Efficacy and Use of Medications in the Treatment of DepressionIt is becoming widely recognized that the current treatment of mood disorders (such as depression), while offering better outcomes than several decades ago, leave much room for improvement. The remission rate at the end of the first phase of the well-publicized STAR-D study (1) was only 25%. In fact, a recent review of 4 meta analyses of the effectiveness of anti-depressants by PIGOTT(2) found that of the 4041 patients initially started on citalopram in the STAR=D…

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“Are there Benefits to having Bipolar disorder?”

Let me start by acknowledging what is well known: Manic Depression or Bipolar disorder can be a devastating illness. Affecting at least 1% of the population, it can, untreated, result in suicide, ruined careers and devastated families. Bipolar disorder is often accompanied by alcohol and drug abuse and addiction, criminal and even violent behavior. I acknowledge this, because I do not want to make light of the burden this illness places on people’s lives, their families and communities. On the other hand, the history of…

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More on ‘Medicine Masquerading as Science’

In a previous blog, I talked about how many doctors and patients do not know the full story about their drugs or medical treatments because of a widespread problem involving unpublished or biased clinical trials. Here is an update on what is happening. As I mentioned, frequently, medical journals or pharmaceutical companies that sponsor research will report only positive results, leaving out the non-findings or negative findings where a new drug or procedure may have proved more harmful than helpful. “A new review of research…

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