Factors That Affect Thyroid Function: An Overview With the Top Thyroid Specialist Fort Collins Has to Offer

Thyroid Specialist Fort Collins

Have you ever noticed that you’re frequently tired, have cold hands, or have excess body fat? If so, you may be suffering from a thyroid disorder. If this is the case, then you’ll want to visit a thyroid specialist in Fort Collins. While these are only a few of the symptoms associated with thyroid disorder, they are some of the more common symptoms.

According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and one woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. Those statistics are fairly staggering.

Not even sure what or where your thyroid is? That’s okay. It’s our job to keep you informed on such things. The thyroid gland is located in the middle of the lower neck and is relatively small but crucial to a healthy and thriving body.

The thyroid is a hormone-producing gland that regulates the body’s metabolism. Thyroid hormones convert oxygen and calories into energy. This process is known as metabolism. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for their metabolism. Essentially, hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism, another type of thyroid disease, is a condition causing the gland to produce too much thyroid hormone. So basically, when dysfunction occurs, people either produce too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroid) or too little (hypothyroid). Additional symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, fuzzy thinking, low blood pressure, fluid retention, depression, body pain, slow reflexes, and much more. Additional symptoms of hyperthyroidism tend to reflect the rapid metabolism that results from an oversupply of thyroid hormone. Common symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, rapid weight loss, diarrhea, high heart rate, high blood pressure, eye sensitivity/bulging and vision disturbances, and many other concerns.

Oftentimes, people who experience these symptoms will go to the doctor only to be told that their thyroid is normal, but then continue feeling lousy and completely at a loss for what to do next. This is why you may need further investigation than what is typically performed. Restore Health Center, your Functional Medicine Colorado provider, offers additional testing that can help you pinpoint exactly what thyroid complications you may be suffering from.

What sets us apart from other doctors or thyroid specialists in the area is our thyroid panels? The classic thyroid panel ordered by most physicians consists of only two tests: Total T4 and TSH. At Restore Health Center, we believe that these two tests alone do not give adequate insight into your current level of thyroid function. We prefer a more comprehensive panel, which includes: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, anti-Thyrioglobulin and anti-TPO. Many practitioners are simply not familiar with those parameters and will not test for them. Here are the labs that we offer:

  • Free Thyroxine (T4) – Evaluates the amount of unbound T4 available to the cells and tissues for use; this is distinct from total T4 which includes both bound (unavailable) and unbound hormone.

  • Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) – This is secreted by the pituitary gland and stimulates the thyroid to make primarily T4.

  • Free Tri-iodothyronine (T3) – Measures the amount of T3 (the active form of the hormone) available to the cells and tissues.

  • Anti-thyroperoxidase (Anti-TPO) Measures the levels of antibodies against this thyroid enzyme

  • Anti-Thyroglobulin (Anti-TG) Measures the levels of antibodies against this thyroid protein

  • Reverse T3 – Reverse T3 is an inactive form of thyroid that locks energy out of the cells. If there is too much Reverse T3, it doesn’t matter if the rest of the thyroid panel appears to be normal: the patient will be suffering from a form of hypothyroid. In cases of chronic stress (acute illness, trauma, infection, physical stress) and starvation (yo-yo dieting) too much T4 is converted to Reverse T3.

Additionally, check out this graphic below via the Institute for Functional Medicine. It explains the different factors that affect thyroid function including which vitamins and nutrients contribute to the proper production of thyroid hormones, increase the conversion of T4 to T3, and improve cellular sensitivity to thyroid hormones.

If you or anyone you know may be suffering from thyroid disorder, contact us today at 970-278-0900 or visit us at our website at www.restorehealthcenter.net. Your health and wellness, including your thyroid health, are our top priority. Ready to get started? Please click here to learn more about our services and contact us to set up a consultation.  

Why You Should Use a Northern Colorado Functional Medical Doctor

Northern Colorado Functional Medicine Doctor

If you’re on the lookout for a Northern Colorado Functional Medicine doctor, then taking a close look at Restore Health Center is definitely worth your time. The future of conventional medicine, Functional Medicine focuses on treating the root causes of disease, rather than simply chasing symptoms with medications. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, Chair of the Institute for Functional Medicine, “Functional medicine seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms.”

When it comes to the standard model of healthcare, the traditional roadmap to health includes diagnosing a disease and matching the disease with a corresponding drug. “The standard model of care works well for acute diseases, trauma, infection, and emergencies. Sadly, it fails miserably in the care of the chronic diseases that affect over 125 million Americans” (MBG).

Rather than masking symptoms, at Restore Health Center Loveland, we are dedicated to a new model of healthcare that is focused on achieving optimal health rather than treating disease. We approach health challenges in a systematic manner. By addressing underlying issues rather than chasing symptoms with medications, we are able to achieve your ultimate health goals. We look at the body’s systems and proactively focus on disease prevention.

As Functional Medicine doctors, we avail ourselves to the best that medicine has to offer, ranging from traditional medical interventions to innovative modalities such as bioidentical hormone restoration (including sex hormones, thyroid, adrenals, and more), targeted nutritional supplementation (including intravenous nutrients), detoxification, oxidative therapies, and so much more. Despite the fact that to many people, being healthy is defined as not being diagnosed with an ailment or other condition that compromises your ability to live your life, we believe in approaching your life and health in a more elevated sense. Your loftiest health goals and your loftiest life are there for the taking. Let us help you achieve it. Your Northern Colorado Functional Medicine doctors, Dr. James Howton and Dr. Rachel Fischer, are highly proficient in numerous forms of Functional Medicine and are dedicated to helping you live your best life, happily.

Restore Health Center Loveland is your premier destination for advanced wellness services to improve your quality of life. Our team is dedicated to providing you with an unparalleled and rejuvenating experience in a caring and comfortable environment. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can improve your quality of life.

Functional Nutrition Fundamentals with Your Fort Collins Optimal Health Practice

Fort Collins Optimal Health

If Functional Medicine is the wave of the future, then Functional Nutrition definitely goes hand-in-hand and is just as revolutionary. As we’ve already determined, Functional Health is an innovative medical practice that is all about identifying and removing the things that push you toward disease and instead filling your life with things that create wellness – allowing you to get healthy and stay healthy. This is what we do at Restore Health Center, your Fort Collins optimal health practice. In accordance with this way of thinking, Functional Nutrition is, according to Functional Nutrition Lab, “A modality that works to not just support, but to educate the patient in what’s going on in their body and how making uniquely targeted diet and lifestyle modifications will shift the terrain and help them meet their goals.”

We like this definition because it addresses the fact that the body’s systems create a terrain. Signs and symptoms that you encounter are all a part of this terrain. We, as your Functional Health and Fort Collins Optimal Health Clinic, look at the array of issues and underlying root causes of those issues to ensure that you start feeling better from the inside out, rather than just masking symptoms with medications. While standard health care may not take into consideration all symptoms and may try to suppress them with medication, Functional Nutrition sees them as “clues for understanding the underlying issues within your body.” (Via AFPA.com.)

The functional health experts at Restore Health, take every aspect of your health into consideration and create an overall plan that takes your specific case and keeps your specific specifications in mind when creating a nutrition plan for you. In most cases, a Functional Nutrition approach to health involves a review of everything from a patient’s medical history, organ systems, lifestyle habits, etc. and creating a customizable program. While these functional nutrition plans vary with each particular patient, most of them follow five main principles outlined by the AFPA:

  1. Filling up on essential nutrients
  2. Avoiding toxic growing conditions
  3. Sticking with quality foods
  4. Prioritizing gut health
  5. Tending to your microbiome

Nothing is more beneficial to one’s health journey than ensuring that each of these five principles have been addressed within the nutrition plan and dialogue between the Functional Nutrition specialist and patient is open. As the AFPA states, “Success comes from having a conversation with your body that keeps you aware of how it responds to different factors so that you can continuously set it up for better success.”

If you would like to learn more about Functional Nutrition fundamentals or set up a consultation with the Functional Health experts at Restore Health, your Fort Collins optimal health practice, contact us at 970-278-0900.

Restore Health Center: Functional Medicine Near Me

Functional Medicine Near Me

If you’ve been considering Functional Medicine as a way to achieve the level of health that you truly desire, we couldn’t agree more. Functional or Integrative Medicine involves healing the body as a whole, not just individual areas, to help you attain optimal wellness.  If you search “Functional Medicine Near Me,” you’ll come across our Northern Colorado Functional Medicine Clinic, Restore Health Center in Loveland, CO.

Restore Health Center Loveland is an innovative medical practice that is all about identifying and removing the things that push you toward disease, while filling your life with the things that create wellness so that you can get healthy and stay healthy. This revolutionary and  innovative way of approaching health care is gaining traction, and for good reason. Rather than simply relying on medications to treat symptoms, Functional Health professionals, including Dr. Rachel Fischer at Restore Health Center, work with you to help get your body’s functions working properly to remove the things that are causing your symptoms.

Functional Medicine is a relatively new area of medicine that relies on the traditional tenets of science-based medicine, including lab-based analysis, tests, and studies. But instead of just treating the presenting issue, Functional Medicine practitioners work to address the root causes of problems with a wide range of treatments at their disposal. These treatments include everything that traditional medicine offers, as well as non-traditional remedies such as diet, meditation, stress reduction, exercise, and oftentimes nutritional supplements and herbal treatments, all based on the labs and studies doctors have come to rely on. We work intimately with you to find what works best for your body and needs.

Dr. Rachel Fischer is a preventative medicine specialist at Restore Health Center Loveland. A preventive medicine specialist is a physician who, through additional training, has become an expert in methods for maintaining good health and preventing disease. These specialists are the doctors people see when they are generally well and want to learn how to either maintain their current health or acquire better health. Dr. Fischer maintains a healthy and active lifestyle and has witnessed firsthand the amazing health benefits of preventive medicine in her own life. She is passionate about helping others achieve the healthy life they desire and deserve, and experience the positive effects that come from such lifestyle changes and maintenance.

Based on their particular needs, Dr. Fischer advises her patients on specific diets, exercise regimens, and lifestyle habits. She takes into account a patient’s nutrition deficiencies, physical and cardiovascular capabilities, and lifestyle in order to advise about specific supplements or medications, how much physical activity to undertake, and which habits should be broken and replaced with more positive behavior. Through this Functional Medicine approach, we like to emphasize a therapeutic relationship between our providers and patients. We enjoy working together to helping you achieve a happier, healthier life.

Health and wellness is your top priority, and as your Northern Colorado Functional Medicine Clinic, we’re here to help provide you with natural solutions for your complete wellness. Ready to get started? Please click here to learn more about our services and contact us to set up a consultation.  

Preventive Health Care Northern Colorado: Cardiometabolic Food Plan Explained

Preventive Health Care Northern Colorado

When it comes to preventive health care in Northern Colorado, the health and wellness experts at Restore Health Center have your best interest in mind. We believe in the power of consistent measures taken to achieve disease prevention, rather than just focusing on disease treatment. Disease and sickness are dynamic processes that often begin as a result of lifestyle choices, genetic predisposition and environmental factors. With anticipatory treating of these factors, or preventive health care, overall health and wellness can be achieved.

One of the most efficient ways we’ve found to prevent and treat a number of conditions is the Caridiometabolic Food Plan. This food plan, created by the Institute for Functional Medicine, was formulated specially for those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease or dysfunctional metabolic conditions such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood fats, high blood sugar and increased belly fat.

When it comes to these types of conditions, fortunately, diet and lifestyle interventions are quite effective. The Cardiometabolic Food Plan allows people to use food medicinally to treat the underlying causes of both cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunctions. The components of the Cardiometabolic Food Plan are as follows:

A modified Mediterranean approach – While 16 different countries comprise the Mediterranean region, people in these countries tend to eat a similar diet: whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, dairy, extra virgin olive oil, and spices; modest amounts of poultry, fish and red meat; and red wine. It is not one of these foods that is responsible for the cardiovascular and metabolic benefits of this way of eating, but the combination of all these foods.

Low glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) – The food plan presented in the Cardiometabolic Food Plan provides a list of allowable foods that are low or moderate in GI or GL. Eating foods low in GI or portions low in GL helps to stabilize blood sugar throughout the day. When blood sugar is stabilized, people experience less hunger and cravings and have better health results overall, whether there are cardiovascular concerns, metabolic dysfunction or blood sugar imbalance.

Targeted calories –  A targeted calorie plan that specifies individual food groups and servings can help people lose weight and achieve cardiometabolic balance. However, Drs. Fischer and Howton generally discourage calorie counting and instead instruct patients to eat “proportionally.” For example, eating 5-7 servings daily of vegetables versus 1-2 servings of non-vegetable carbohydrates.

Regular eating times – The average meal should provide at least four hours of energy before the person feels the need to eat again. A balanced meal will result in a feeling of satisfaction, clear-headedness, the ability to focus, and sufficient energy. If the person experiences hunger within an hour or so of eating or reports feeling “brain fog,” shaky, or fatigued, it may be that the meal was missing something, most likely quality protein, fat, or enough fiber to keep the blood sugar levels balanced.

High in fiber – Along with the low GI and GL features of this plan, eating whole, relatively unprocessed foods also helps the patient take in more dietary fiber and less added sugar. Fiber is found in plant-based foods like whole grains, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. It is a form of carbohydrate that the body is unable to digest, giving the sensation of fullness without many calories.

Low in simple sugars –  Another feature of the Cardiometabolic Food Plan is the reduction or absence of added sugars. Added sugars contribute a significant portion of calories to the American diet.

Balanced quality fats – Anti-inflammatory fats are typically high in omega-3 fats compared with omega-6 fats, and are found in foods like fish, leafy greens, nuts, certain oils, and seeds. Organizations like the American Heart Association have recognized the health benefit of these anti-inflammatory oils and encourage individuals to include more omega-3 sources in the diet.

Condition-specific phytonutrients – Plant foods contain thousands of compounds called phytonutrients that affect body function. Certain phytonutrients can intervene to help with blood sugar regulation, lower LDL-cholesterol, and even help to get blood pressure back into a healthier range.

The Cardiometabolic Food Plan also offers a snapshot of the foods that people should choose from every day based on the suggestions of their health practitioner. These food categories include: fats and oils, nuts and seeds, protein, non-starchy vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy and alternatives, starchy vegetables, fruits and some grains.

For more ideas and suggestions on preventive care in Northern Colorado, call Dr. Rachel Fischer at Restore Health Center. She would love to talk with you more about the Cardiometabolic Food Plan and other forms of preventive care that will keep you healthy and strong for years to come.

Talking to Your Fort Collins GI Doctor About Eating for Your Microbiome

Fort Collins GI Doctor

If you haven’t heard of the term “microbiome,” you likely will sooner rather than later. The health of your microbiome is something that your Fort Collins GI Doctor may be monitoring as part of your overall wellness. If they’re not, maybe they should. So what exactly is a microbiome? According to the University of Washington’s Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health, a microbiome is the genetic material of all of the microbes that live on and inside the human body, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses:

“The bacteria in the microbiome help digest our food, regulate our immune system, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and produce vitamins including  vitamin B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and Vitamin K, which is needed for blood coagulation.”

This microbiome is an essential aspect of our overall health. In fact, having a healthy microbiome is essential for human development, immunity and nutrition. Autoimmune diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and many others are associated with dysfunction in the microbiome. This is due to the fact that if disease-causing microbes accumulate, they can change gene activity and metabolic processes in your microbiome, which results in abnormal immune response. Researchers have also discovered that a person’s microbiome may influence their susceptibility to infectious diseases and contribute to chronic illness.

“Maintaining a homeostatic balance between microbial activity and host immune response toward it is what allows the immune system to function appropriately to defend against infection yet demonstrate appropriate tolerance,” according to the Institute for Functional Medicine, or IFM.

So how do we maintain this balance in our microbiome? Well, there are a number of things that we can do to ensure that our microbiomes remain healthy and balanced. One of the most important things you can do is eat for your microbiome. If your GI doctor isn’t talking about your microbiome, consider seeing a functional medicine physician about the best way for you to specifically eat for your microbiome, but here are a few guidelines:

Eat a plant-based diet with lots of fiber

Plants are rich sources of many nutrients that are important for good gut health, including unsaturated fats, vitamins (like folate), minerals (like potassium), fiber and protein. Plant-based foods also consist of prebiotics, these indigestible fibers are the preferred fuel source for your gut’s good bacteria. Try foods like onions, garlic, artichokes, oatmeal, rice and potatoes.

Consume Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, or tempeh all contain beneficial bacteria that can help fight bad bacteria, leading to a healthier balance of bacteria in your gut.

Eat your Polyphenols

These are the dark-colored micronutrients found in red wine, green tea, blueberries, pomegranates, cherries and dark chocolate. They’re antioxidants and decrease inflammation while stimulating beneficial bacteria growth.

If you would like more information on eating for your microbiome, contact one of the top functional medicine doctors in the Fort Collins area, Dr. Rachel Fischer at Restore Health Center. She would love to talk with you about what foods to eat and other ways to ensure that your microbiome is healthy, balanced and functioning at peak levels.

Dr. Fischer is a graduate of the University of Utah School of Medicine and trained in both internal medicine and preventive medicine. She received her fellowship training at the University of Washington in Seattle and is board-certified in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. She completed her functional medicine training through the Institute of Functional Medicine. Prior to joining Restore Health, she practiced in Portland Oregon, where she was named one of Portland’s Top Docs by Portland Monthly Magazine. While she addresses a wide range of chronic health challenges, she has a particular interest in gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases, as well as optimizing athlete health.

Restore Health: Your Local Fort Collins Functional Medicine Clinic

Fort Collins functional medicine clinic

Taking control of your health is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Restore Health is the premier Functional Medicine Clinic in Northern Colorado. We exist to help you take back your health. We offer Functional Medicine services to people living in Fort Collins, Loveland, and the greater Northern Colorado area as a better and more preventative alternative to traditional medical practices.

We are dedicated to a more effective model of health care that is focused on achieving optimal health rather than simply treating disease. We approach health challenges in a systematic manner, addressing underlying issues rather than chasing symptoms with medications. We are proactive, focusing on disease prevention, rather than reactive, focusing only on symptoms. At Restore Health Center, your local Fort Collins Functional Medicine clinic, we utilize a Functional Medicine approach to help you achieve optimal health and resolve issues poorly addressed under a traditional medicine approach.

Continue reading to learn more about Functional Medicine and what you can expect with your Fort Collins Functional Medicine doctor:

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional Medicine is a relatively new area of medicine that relies on the traditional tenets of science-based medicine, including lab-based analysis, tests, and studies, but instead of just treating the presenting issue, functional medical practitioners work to address the root causes of problems with a wide range of treatments at their disposal. These treatments include everything that traditional medicine offers as well as non-traditional remedies such as diet, meditation, stress reduction, exercise, and oftentimes nutritional supplements and herbal treatments, all based on the labs and studies doctors have come to rely on. We work intimately with you to find what works best for your body and needs. Health and wellness is your top priority, and as your Fort Collins Functional Medicine Clinic, we’re here to help provide you with natural solutions for your complete wellness.

Restore Health – Fort Collins Functional Medicine Clinic

Restore Health Center is an innovative medical practice focused on identifying and removing the things that push you toward disease while filling your life with the things that create wellness, so you can stay healthy or get healthy. Rather than simply relying on medications to treat symptoms, we work with you to help get your systems back to optimal function. We think in terms of how your body works within its genetic predispositions and how it interacts with food, environmental toxins, and stress. We use conventional medications and testing when they are needed, but we also use food as medical therapy along with targeted clinical approaches. With our complete wellness approach, we strive to identify the root causes of your symptoms and get you on a path to optimal wellness.

Fort Collins Functional Medicine Clinic Services

At Restore Health Center, we’re committed to your total health. We’re your partner in solving and effectively treating functional gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, thyroid dysfunction, autoimmune diseases and more. We also offer specialized services and treatment options specific to both men and women.

To address all of your needs, we also offer services to address mental health issues, including adrenal issues, brain disorders, and chronic stress. We also provide services for your total body, including stem cell treatments, IV nutrient therapies, and hormone therapy.

As the new year rolls around, there is no better resolution than to commit to getting healthy, and staying healthy! Restore Health is here to help you achieve this goal. Ready to get started and take your health into your hands? Restore Health is your Fort Collins Functional Medicine clinic, and we’re here to help you. Please click here to learn more about our services and contact us to set up a consultation.  

Functional Medicine – It might be just what you need

By Rachel Fischer, MD, MPH, Restore Health Center Physician


If you asked your primary care provider why you’re so tired, how would she or he answer? 

What if you asked about your constant abdominal bloating, weight gain, whether you need replacement hormones or if your thyroid was optimally functioning?  I was trained in internal medicine, so I know how I would have answered these questions.  Your treatment would likely consisted of a prescription for your fatigue and bloating. For weight gain, eat less and exercise more, but hormones?  I would refer you to a gynecologist. Optimal thyroid function?  I would check your TSH and T4, both of which would likely be in reference range, and tell you you’re fine. You would probably be frustrated.

 

How is functional medicine different?

First, we gather a lot more information.  Essentially, I want to know about your health from birth until the moment you step in my office.  I want to know what you eat, how you sleep (or not), your daily routines, exercise, and your level of stress and coping strategies.  These are all modifiable lifestyle factors and if I don’t know them, how can I help you change them?  I will obtain labs that tell me about vitamin levels, presence of inflammation, cardiovascular and metabolic risks, hormone function (including thyroid) and other parameters as needed for your specific health concerns.

Second, you will spend an hour with me at your first and second visit, and at least one-half hour each visit thereafter.  Our current medical model is focused on a “one ill one pill” philosophy, however we have extraordinarily complex physiology and getting to the root cause of most medical conditions takes time.  In functional medicine, we take the time and use a comprehensive approach. For example, if you have excessive fatigue there could be one primary cause (iron deficiency anemia) or 13 different factors contributing.  But the investigation does not stop there, if your blood results indicate anemia, we’ll want to figure out why you are anemic and correct the underlying cause rather than just give you iron pills. Follow me?

Third, lifestyle is the cornerstone of wellness.  Yes, there are some genetic variants that profoundly affect some individuals – but they are the exception. For the rest of us?  Genes are the gun, but environment pulls the trigger. We have more control than we think.  Through proper nutrition, sleep, exercise and successful stress management habits we profoundly affect our gene expression and not only improve quantity of life, but quality of life.

 

Is functional medicine right for you?

As a functional medicine doctor, I don’t systematically reject the conventional medicine I was taught in my 8 years of training. There is tremendous value in modern medicine – particularly when it comes to acute injury and illness.  But the leading causes of death in the developed world are not injuries or acute illness—they are heart disease and cancer.  The most common reasons for patients to see their primary care doctor include skin problems, back pain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, headaches and diabetes.  We have medications available for all these conditions, but they do not fix the root cause of the problem.  I encourage all of my patients to have a primary care doctor for when acute illness or injury occurs, but for everything else – there is a lifestyle solution that addresses nutritional status, inflammation, appropriate detoxification processes and hormonal balance.  If you are even a little sick and tired of being sick and tired, then functional medicine is for you.

It’s a privilege for me to get to know and accompany individuals who want to begin the lifelong journey of health and vitality.  If you’re ready for that journey, I’m here for you.

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Click here to see more about Dr. Fisher
Or call 888-557-6711 and schedule a consultations today!

 

The Hidden HCG breakthrough

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The Hidden HCG breakthrough —  totally eliminate or control excruciating  endometriosis!

The following was adapted from an article by: Jonathan V. Wright, M.D. published in April of 2015 in the journal: The Townsend Letter.

A new “hidden” use for human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) has been uncovered. It turns out that HCG—the hormone secreted in the largest quantities by human placentas—may be an effective remedy for painful endometriosis. Fortunately, this research was reported “only” ten years ago, and hasn’t lain buried for thirty-one years (for that, see the December 2012 and February 2013 of Nutrition & Healing which covered previously buried research about HCG, and the stunning story of the reversal of severe spinal cord damage).

This research was first published in 2004 and since that time no contradictory reports have been published. In other words, there’s absolutely no reason why this safe, natural therapy shouldn’t already have been tried for the thousands (or more likely tens or even hundreds of thousands) of women who’ve in effect been told “there’s no treatment for your problem except for birth control pills, pain pills or surgery, but it’ll improve after menopause, so hang in there.”

Endometriosis is reported to occur in 6% to 10% of all women. In this condition cells, which line the uterus migrate outside the womb to other areas in the pelvis. There they remain and grow, often causing painful menstrual periods and/or mild to severe chronic pain between menses. Endometriosis is associated with infertility, too.
In this research, thirty-one women with histologically verified (tissue samples were observed under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis) endometriosis were given 1500 to 5000 IU of HCG once or twice a week for three to twelve months. The results?
HCG significantly reduced pain, irritability and more!

Let’s quote the researchers themselves: “Three months of HCG therapy led to a highly significant reduction of endometriosis-related pain (p < 0.001) and to improvement of disease related parameters such as sleeplessness (p < 0.001), irritability (p < 0.001), overall discomfort (p < 0.001), depressive moods (p < 0.001) and painful defecation (p = 0.01). Dyspareunia [painful sex] and dysmenorrhea [painful menses] also clearly improved (both p < 0.001), though HCG did not lead to significant reduction of dysuria [painful urination] (p = 0.66). Prolonged therapy with HCG for up to 12 months (mean: 4.42 months) did not lead to reduction of the beneficial effect.”

That’s impressive: Endometriosis pain, sleeplessness, irritability, overall discomfort, depressive mood, and painful bowel movements, all significantly improved. The only parameter that didn’t greatly improve was painful urination. And the treatment continued to be effective for up to one year, when (apparently) the research project ended.
The report summary concluded: “HCG injections lead to significant and
clinically relevant reduction in pain intensity and to greatly improved quality of life in women with therapy-refractory endometriosis.”

So if you or a loved are suffering from endometriosis and you would rather not take birth control pills, be on a continuous dose of pain pills, have your uterus removed surgically or wait for menopause—why not consider taking this article to a physician skilled and knowledgeable in natural medicine and natural hormone use, and discuss giving regular HCG injections a try?

Of course, even though the results of this research were very positive, results are never guaranteed. But clearly there’s reason to hope!

Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to find any follow-up research published since this 2004 report. And the group was small, only thirty-one women. But HCG is safe; we all had exposure to it for approximately nine months when we were vulnerable fetuses, during which time it did us no harm at all. There’s also experimental evidence showing

the non-toxic nature of even enormous quantities given to adults.

Some physicians and pharmacists worry about the safety of large quantities of HCG, most likely because the amounts used in “HCG diet plans” have been quite small, 125 to 200 IU daily at most. Of course the safety of any therapy is an important consideration.

To put HCG in perspective however, we need to remember that we all essentially “took a bath” in HCG for the first nine months (some of us perhaps less) of our lives while we were inside of Mom. As tiny as we were we, of course, emerged unharmed by the large quantities of HCG we were exposed to.

Another clue to HCG’s safety can be taken from a research study, which used relatively enormous quantities of HCG, given intravenously. Researchers gave 100,000 to 150,000 IU of HCG to eight men as part of a research study on HCG and thyroid function. Among other things, the researchers wrote: “No clinical side effects were noted… after iv administration of these large doses of HCG.”
Although it’s possible for anyone to react adversely to anything, at present it appears that relatively large quantities of HCG are safe.

Buried endometriosis treatment number two is revealed—
Going gluten-free significantly slashed endometriosis pain!

Just above, you read about the remarkable, but “buried,” 2004 research report about a very successful treatment for endometriosis. It’s definitely worth repeating! The researchers reported that 1500 to 5000 IU of human chorionic gonadotrophin (“HCG”) treatment once or twice a week for three months “led to a highly significant reduction of endometriosis-related pain (p < 0.001) and to improvement of disease related parameters such as sleeplessness (p < 0.001), irritability (p < 0.001), overall discomfort (p < 0.001), depressive moods (p < 0.001) and painful defecation (p = 0.01). Dyspareunia [painful sex] and dysmenorrhea [painful menses] also clearly improved (both p < 0.001), though HCG did not lead to significant reduction of dysuria [painful urination] (p = 0.66).”

This is a terrific breakthrough for an excruciatingly painful condition for which there has been no effective treatment! And now there’s even more good news about endometriosis relief: it appears to be yet another condition that responds significantly to gluten elimination.

In 2011, Swedish researchers reported that women diagnosed with celiac disease (a major type of gluten intolerance) had an increased risk of endometriosis. Although they didn’t report about endometriosis risk in women with “non-celiac gluten intolerance” as well, there’s good reason to suspect the same increased risk.

In 2012, Italian researchers published results of a study in which 207 women with chronic pelvic pain caused by endometriosis were placed on a gluten elimination diet for twelve months. One hundred fifty six (75%) of the women had significant pain relief; 51 (25%) did not. None had worsening of pain. But even though pelvic pain was relieved in “only” 75%, all—100%!—of the women reported what the researchers termed a “considerable increase” (p

Since women have been reported to bring dramatic relief from endometriosis using HCG it might seem like eliminating gluten is unnecessary, but for the best total body health results anyone with endometriosis should always use HCG and go gluten-free. Even if HCG eliminates the pain of endometriosis, the underlying gluten sensitivity, especially if “hidden”, will cause many other health problems usually undiagnosable by conventional medicine. In fact, non-celiac (“hidden”) gluten sensitivity almost always inhibits the assimilation of multiple nutrients, resulting in a variety of health problems.

Buried endometriosis treatment number three:
Melatonin significantly relieves endometriosis pain!
Now it’s December 2014, and we’ve just (at the time of this writing) found a research report about relief of endometriosis pain with melatonin, the hormone best known for it’s sleep-inducing activity. This time, it’s Brazilian researchers, reporting about forty women with endometriosis, ages 18 to 45, twenty of whom took placebo, twenty of whom took melatonin (10 mg) for eight weeks. Analysis showed that (compared with placebo) melatonin treatment reduced daily pain scores by 39.80% (p<0.01, for the technically inclined) and pain with menstrual periods (“dysmenorrhea”) by 38.01% (p Just a thought: all of this breakthrough research for women with endometriosis was done in Austria, Sweden, Italy, and now Brazil, not in these United States. None of it was publicized by the American media in 2004, 2011, 2012, 2013, or since. Makes one wonder what other non-patent-medicine remedies for other chronic problems are also being ignored.

References:

Ambros V. Huber, Johannes C. Huber, Andrea Kolbus, Martin Imhof, Fritz Nagele,
Demosthenes Loizou, Ulrike Kaufmann, and Christian F. Singer Systemic HCG treatment in patients with endometriosis: A new perspective for a painful disease. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2004;116/24:839-843 (Weiner Klinische Wochenschrift, the Middle European Journal of Medicine, printed in Austria)

Sowers JR, Hershman JM, Carlson HE, Pekary AE. Effect of human chorionic gonadotropin on thyroid function in euthyroid men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1978 Oct;47(4):898-901

Ambros V. Huber, Johannes C. Huber, Andrea Kolbus, Martin Imhof, Fritz Nagele,
Demosthenes Loizou, Ulrike Kaufmann, and Christian F. Singer Systemic HCG treatment in patients with endometriosis: A new perspective for a painful disease. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2004;116/24:839-843 (Weiner Klinische Wochenschrift, the Middle European Journal of Medicine, printed in Austria)

Stephansson O, Falconer H, Ludvigsson JF. Risk of endometriosis in 11,000 women with celiac disease. Human Reproduction 2011;26(10):2896-2901

Marziali M, Vemza M, Lazzaro S et al. Gluten-free diet: a new strategy for management of painful endometriosis related symptoms? Minerva Chirurgica 2012;67(6):499-504

Schwertner A(1), Conceição Dos Santos CC, Costa GD, Deitos A, de Souza A, deSouza IC, Torres IL, da Cunha Filho JS, Caumo W. Efficacy of melatonin in the treatment of endometriosis: a phase II, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pain 2013 Jun;154(6):874-81.

Dr. Howton’s comments:
When treating endometriosis at Restore Health we integrate a number of synergistic modalities including those covered in this article. First and foremost we ensure that Estrogen & Progesterone levels are balanced. Estrogens stimulate endometrial cells while Progesterone keeps the effects of Estrogens in check. Many times endometriosis symptoms will resolve when adding bio-identical progesterone in a cyclical fashion, which involves varying the amount with the natural hormonal rhythm. The highest amount being during the week preceding menstruation, as this is the time when Estrogen levels are the highest.

If we add Progesterone to the items covered in this article a natural approach to treating endometriosis would include the following:

1. Cyclical Bio-identical Progesterone.
2. A gluten free diet.
3. Melatonin 9-12 mg at bedtime.
And if above does not correct symptoms one would consider adding:
4. HCG 1,250 mg twice per week for three months.

All of these treatments are natural and lack the side effects often found in more “traditional” approaches.

 

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Lithium: The Untold Story of the Magic Mineral That Charges Cell Phones and Preserves Memory

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Lithium: The Untold Story of the Magic Mineral That Charges Cell Phones and Preserves Memory. 
Written by James Greenblatt, M.D. and Kayla Grossman, RN.

This article was published in the Townsend Letter on October 2015

Lithium

As far as cosmologists can tell, there were only three elements present when the universe was first formed some 13.8 billion years ago: hydrogen, helium, and lithium. As one of the three original elements, lithium is found throughout our atmosphere. The sun, stars, and meteorites burn brightly with the flame of this highly reactive element. On earth, lithium remains a major mineral component of granite rock, and also lingers in significant amounts in sea water, mineral springs, and soils. Lithium has also found its way into our cell phones, electric cars, and holiday fireworks. Every organ and tissue in the human body contains the mineral lithium, with particular importance in brain health.

Today, we do not tend to think of lithium as an essential mineral in human physiology and its critical use for expanding technology. Lithium does not evoke visions of stars, peaceful rivers, or strong, healthy bodies. Instead images of lithium are associated with pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and back wards of psychiatric hospitals. Lithium is perceived, almost exclusively, as a dangerous drug used to treat severe mental illness with incapacitating side effects.

In a recent review in the New York Times titled “I Don’t Believe in God, but I Believe in Lithium,” author Jamie Lowe delivered a powerful testimony of her dramatic response to lithium – the drug that alleviated her mania and allowed her to live a normal, happy life. Her article also describes the kidney damage that has forced her to stop lithium and placed her on a waiting list for potential kidney transplant. She provides a unique insight into the life-changing prescriptive benefits of lithium, and the overwhelming fear she has of life without her lithium; a life without her sanity.

I have treated thousands of patients with similar backgrounds as Jamie’s. This raised the question, how can a medicine provide such life-changing effects on mental health yet cause permanent damage to kidney and often thyroid function?

Twenty-five years ago, I attempted to answer this question by looking for the lowest dose of lithium that would alleviate symptoms. Rather than basing my prescription dosage on a number from a lab test that dictated a “therapeutic blood level,” I listened to my patients. I began to see that patients on a lower dose of lithium – doses closer to the trace amounts found naturally in the environment – still experienced significant clinical results.

Psychiatry has much to learn from the untold story of one of its oldest drugs.

Lithium as Mineral

Lithium was given its official name by a Swedish chemist named Johan August Arfvedson in 1817. He isolated the element while studying petalite – a rich mineral deposit found in soils – on the remote island of Uto. The unique substance was named lithium after the Greek word lithos, meaning literally “from stone.”

Just one year after its initial discovery, researchers noticed that there was something special about this new element. Lithium ore, when ground into a fine powder, turned flames a bright crimson color that intensified to a dazzling white when burning strongly. In addition to being highly reactive, the metal was also lightweight, malleable, and a good conductor of heat and electricity. These characteristics made lithium an immediately desirable commodity for industrial and manufacturing purposes. Since this time it has been used for manifold applications: in aircraft parts, fireworks, heat-resistant cookware, focal lenses, and even the fusion material in power plants. Today, the mineral is most commonly used for building the lithium-ion batteries that power our cell phones, tablets, laptops, and eco-friendly vehicles.

Over the past two centuries, scientists have gained a deeper appreciation of this alkali earth metal, which is now known to be relatively common in the earth’s upper crust. As the 27th most abundant element, it can be found in rock sediments, salt flats, and mineral springs at varying concentrations throughout the globe. The largest deposits of lithium are salars, or vast saline basins in the deserts of South America. Lithium is also highly concentrated in clay beds and hard rock underground mines dotting Australia, China, and some parts of North America.

Lithium is in fact so ubiquitous in these environments that it can readily be found in food and water supplies. The US Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the daily lithium intake of an average adult ranges from about 0.65 mg to 3 mg. Grains and vegetables serve as the primary sources of lithium in a standard diet, with animal byproducts such as eggs and milk providing the rest. Lithium has even been officially added to the World Health Organization’slist of nutritionally essential trace elements alongside zinc, iodine, and others.

The most frequent source of lithium in the modern diet, however, is tap water. Depending on geographical location, drinking water contains substantial amounts of naturally occurring lithium. According to environmental surveys, water with high mineral content can translate to 2 mg or so of lithium per day.

There has been little research on the specific consequences of lithium deficiency in humans. However, trials in which animals have been put on low-lithium diets have revealed a gross decrease in reproductive function, lifespan, and lipid metabolism. It is quite possible that lithium deficiency has many other effects on human physiology, but the study of nutritional lithium has been overshadowed by the volatile reputation of high-dose pharmaceutical lithium.

Lithium as Medicine

Official documentation of the medical applications of lithium was first publicized by London doctor Alfred Baring Garrod, who used it to treat patients with gout. After discovering uric acid in the blood of his patients with gout, he wrote about pioneering the use of lithium in his 1859 treatise, The Nature and Treatment of Gout and Rheumatic Gout. Between the 1850s and 1890s, several other physicians experimented with lithium treatment because at the time uric acid was viewed as a critical factor in many diseases.

Both the medical literature and popular advertisements of the time abounded with praise for lithium. The Sears, Roebuck & Company Catalogue of 1908 advertised Schieffelin’s Effervescent Lithia Tablets for a variety of uric acid afflictions. By 1907, The Merck Index listed 43 different medicinal preparations containing lithium. Even soft drink entrepreneur Charles Leiper Grigg understood that there was something special about lithium. In 1929, he unveiled a drink called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda with the slogan “It takes the ouch out of the grouch.” Hailed for improving mood and curing hangovers, this product was eventually rechristened 7 Up. The “7” supposedly represents the rounded-up atomic weight of the element lithium (6.9), and the “Up” suggests its power to lift spirits. Lithium remained an ingredient of 7 Up until 1950.

An Australian psychiatrist, Dr. John Cade, is credited with first experimenting with high doses of lithium citrate and lithium carbonate as a treatment for manic depressive illness in 1949. He observed first in animals and then in human trials that lithium stabilized mood, restored memory, and improved cognitive function, even in his most challenging subjects. Because of his well-structured study and the dramatic results, some historians of medicine consider that Cade ushered in modern psychopharmacology.

Unfortunately, the timing of Cade’s treatment successes was ill fated. The very same year, 1949, adverse reaction reports surfaced in the media about patients who were taking lithium chloride in the US. As physicians encouraged patients with heart disease and hypertension to avoid sodium chloride, lithium chloride was marketed as an alternative to sodium chloride in four different preparations: Salti-salt, Milosal, Foodsal, and Westsal. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, physicians around the country released reports of patients who developed lithium poisoning after they had used large, uncontrolled amounts of Westsal. Several deaths were also reported, leading the FDA to ban the use of lithium salt substitutes. “Stop using this dangerous poisoning at once!” exhorted the FDA. Lithium fell out of favor in the American medical community.

Despite this lithium chloride debacle, trials testing the efficacy of lithium carbonate for mania continued in Australia and France. Eventually the research from other countries became so compelling that by the end of the decade, a “lithium underground” had formed of US physicians prescribing lithium in the absence of official FDA approval. Finally, the FDA sanctioned lithium in 1970 as a new investigational drug for use in treatment of acute mania. By this time many other countries had already approved lithium, including France, the UK, Germany, and Italy. In 1974, lithium was finally approved to prevent recurrent mania.

Since the official FDA approval of pharmaceutical-dose lithium, the mineral has proved to be one of the most versatile and successful drugs in psychiatry. According to treatment guidelines, lithium carbonate is recognized as the first-line therapy in patients with bipolar disorder. Recent meta-analyses underscore the superiority of lithium as a prophylactic for both mania and depression. Lithium’s effectiveness in suicide prevention has also been demonstrated. While antidepressants may treat depression, they often exacerbate symptoms of agitation, restlessness, irritability, and anger that can lead to impulsivity and aggression. Lithium, by contrast, has specific effects against suicide that are independent of mood stabilization. Substantial literature also exists to support the use of lithium in a broad spectrum of other neurological conditions including substance abuse, violent and aggressive behavior, ADHD, and cognitive decline.

The pharmacological mechanisms under which lithium operates have yet to be understood in totality, although many well-supported hypotheses exist. It appears that lithium functions in two central ways in the body’s neurochemistry: repairing damaged neurons and stimulating neuronal growth. Proposed mechanisms for lithium’s effect on balancing mood include the altering of dopamine, glutamate, and GABA levels in the synapses as well as modulation of secondary messenger pathways that effect neurotransmission, including the adenylyl cyclase system, cAMP signaling pathway, and phosphoinositide system. Accumulating evidence has shown that lithium’s diverse neuroprotective actions involve direct changes in the expression of multiple genes.

It was once believed that genes were destiny. Scientists and clinicians held fast to the idea that a fixed genetic code was hardwired in humans at conception, and that mutations were a sure predictor of disease. However, it is now known that environmental factors have a profound influence on the ways in which genes are expressed. The study of epigenetics has revealed that lifestyle factors, including physical activity, learning, stress exposure, and pharmacological compounds, can essentially switch genes on or off. The mineral lithium is a powerful epigenetic factor. Key epigenetic mechanisms include histone modifications and changes in DNA methylation. Lithium works in both of these channels and has been shown to influence the expression of over 50 different genes. Working in these epigenetic pathways, lithium supports a wide range of neuroprotective and neurotrophic actions that literally change brain physiology.

Low-Dose Lithium

I believe that lithium is the most effective medication in psychiatry. Psychiatrists over the years have been hesitant to prescribe lithium because it is toxic at pharmaceutical doses. Concerns about side effects and toxicity are nonexistent when lithium is used as a nutritional, low-dose supplement. The untapped potential of low-dose lithium in psychiatry has implications for dramatically changing clinical practice with a safe, integrative strategy for the treatment of mental illness.
    
I have treated children as young as 4 years old and adults in their 70s with low-dose lithium. Here are a few examples of the hundreds of patients in whom this treatment has been successful.

A 4-year-old boy, Peter, had severe ADHD. Even at this young age, he was shunned by other children, and his parents were asked to remove him from preschool. It was easy to observe his aggressive behaviors in my office. A trace mineral analysis from a hair sample revealed no detectable lithium. I prescribed 250 mcg of lithium in liquid form. Peter’s annoying aggressiveness diminished. He became able to make friends, and eventually he began to participate cooperatively with other children in a new preschool.

Shawn at age 8 was often in trouble for bullying. Although he had been diagnosed with ADHD, stimulants had not been helpful. His trace mineral analysis showed no detectable lithium. On 2 mg of lithium orotate, he showed significant improvement, and he lost interest in bullying other children.

A 20-year-old patient, Amy, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She had been doing better on Depakote, although she continued to have anger outbursts and uncontrolled rages. Although she had once been on prescription lithium, she had experienced side effects that prevented ongoing use. I prescribed 10 mg of lithium for her in conjunction with the Depakote. Her condition improved so much that she was able to leave a therapeutic boarding school to return home.

A middle-aged man named Brian made an appointment with me to talk about his problems with anger and irritability. I had no trouble imagining these problems, as I was unavoidably 15 minutes late in calling him to my office. He berated me for most of the session, and I later heard that he had been verbally abusive with my staff. Brian, I learned, had suffered from depression and was currently taking an antidepressant, but his irritability remained. His wife reported that his road rage escalated to such intensity that he would get out of the car and yell at other drivers. I added 10 mg of lithium to Brian’s antidepressant treatment. Both he and his wife later reported that his simmering road rage subsided to nothing more than mild frustration.

The case of my patient Patricia was revealing by all of my assessment strategies: clinical history, family history, and trace mineral analysis. A 43-year-old therapist, she had been diagnosed at age 18 with depression and alcohol abuse. I learned from her story that her family of origin was deeply impaired by alcoholism. Patricia had been taking an antidepressant and had worked hard at maintaining her sobriety for 10 years. She came to me for enhanced support, as she complained that she was a “dry drunk,” clinging to “white-knuckle sobriety.” She felt chronically irritable. Trace mineral analysis revealed some level of lithium in her hair, but it was low.

Six weeks after I prescribed 5 mg of lithium, Patricia came to my office in tears. She was partly joyful that she no longer felt a constant level of irritability, but she also realized with regret what it must have been like for her family to have tolerated her irritability and anger for such a long time.

In an effort to organize and disseminate the information of low-dose lithium, I have started to compile additional case studies and ongoing research efforts on the website www.lowdoselithium.org.

In 1970, one research study analyzed levels of organically derived lithium in the water of 27 Texan counties and compared them to the incidence of admissions and readmissions for psychoses, neuroses, and personality disorders at local state mental hospitals. Data from a 2-year period were collected and analyzed. The authors noticed a marked trend: the higher the lithium content in the water supply, the lower the rate of psychiatric illness in that county. This association remained significant even after correcting for possible confounding variables such as population density and distance to the nearest state hospitals.

A follow-up study in the same Texan counties looked at similar variables over a longer 9-year span. Researchers came up with almost identical results: the incidences of suicide, homicide, and rape were significantly higher in counties where drinking water contained little or no lithium, versus those with levels ranging from 70 to 170 mcg/L. Unsure if these striking findings were somehow unique to that geographical region, other researchers have sought to replicate the study template in other areas throughout the globe. Lithium water studies have now been repeated internationally at sites in Austria, England, Greece, and Japan. Overall the collection has revealed a strong inverse correlation between aggressive crime and suicide and supplemental levels of lithium in the water supply.
Another interesting finding came from a study that looked at lithium levels in the hair of criminals.
Trace mineral hair analysis is one of the most accurate methods for testing long-term mineral status and is therefore highly advantageous for determining where deficiencies are present. This study found that violent criminals had little to no stores of lithium when tested via hair mineral analysis, bringing forth the idea that perhaps lithium deficiency was contributing to oppositional and aggressive behaviors.

The most fascinating research recently, however, has been on the use of lithium for Alzheimer’s disease. Given its being the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed, researchers are spending billions of dollars on Alzheimer’s disease. There is a fast-growing community of researchers suggesting that lithium may provide significant benefits in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s.
    
Lithium has been shown to disrupt the key enzyme responsible for the development of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This enzyme is glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), a serine/threonine protein kinase that is important in neural growth and development. Notably, specific levels of GSK-3 are required to carry out the synaptic remodeling that drives memory formation.

In Alzheimer’s disease, GSK-3 becomes hyperactive in the areas of the brain controlling memory and behavior, including the hippocampus and frontal cortex. This upregulation spurs GSK-3 to phosphorylate, or activate, amyloid-B and tau proteins in the neurons of these regions at an aberrantly high rate. Over time these proteins accumulate to create the signature plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that disrupt the brain tissue and result in symptoms of cognitive decline. Lithium works as a direct GSK-3 inhibitor to prevent this overexpression, halting inappropriate amyloid production and the hyperphosphorylation of tau proteins before they impair brain function.
    
In addition to protecting the brain from the development of plaques and tangles, lithium has been shown to repair existing damages brought about by Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis. Lithium ions, for example, encourage the synthesis and release of key neurotrophic factors such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), which in turn stimulate the growth and repair of neurons. Patients on lithium have been found to have significantly higher gray matter volumes in the brain. One study has even directly demonstrated that damaged nerve cells exposed to lithium respond with increases in dendritic number and length.

In a recent trial published in Current Alzheimer’s Research, a nutritional dose of just 300 mcg of lithium was administered to Alzheimer’s patients for 15 months. When compared with the control, those on low-dose lithium showed significant improvements in cognitive markers after just 3 months of treatment. Furthermore, these protective effects appeared to strengthen as the study proceeded, with many of the lithium-treated individuals showing marked cognitive improvements by the end of the trial. These results suggest that lithium could be a viable treatment for Alzheimer’s disease when used at low doses over the long term.

Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, one of the more notable and respected advocates of lithium use in the medical community, recently published a review in 2014 in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry summarizing the benefits of low-dose lithium therapy. Ghaemi and his colleagues performed a systematic review of 24 clinical, epidemiological, and biological reports that assessed standard or low-dose lithium for dementia along with other behavioral or medical benefits. Five of the seven epidemiological studies established a correlation with standard-dose lithium therapy and low dementia rates, while four other randomized clinical trials demonstrated that low-dose lithium yielded more benefit for patients with Alzheimer’s dementia versus placebo. Based on these findings, Ghaemi stressed that “lithium is, by far, the most proven drug to keep neurons alive, in animals and in humans, consistently and with many replicated studies.”

The Future of Lithium

Recognizing that nutrition is key to brain health is a fundamental premise of integrative medicine. Instead of focusing on just one type of intervention, integrative medicine tries to address all factors that may contribute to a mental disorder – bringing together nutritional supplements, medicines, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes.

Lithium must be recognized as a critical component of nutritional assessments. Lithium is an underused nutritional supplement. The diverse neuroprotective mechanisms are truly remarkable. The scientific literature has shown that lithium modulates GSK-3, enhances the release of neurotrophic factors such as BDNF, and promotes epigenetic changes that resets the trajectory of mental illness. Lithium is powerful, reliable, cost effective, and, at low doses, completely safe.

With low-dose lithium, we have a safe nutritional supplement that is effective in treating a wide range of disabling symptoms of mental illness. Perhaps in the future, patients like Jamie Lowe, the author of the New York Times article, will not be forced to make a decision between mental and physical health. The compelling and growing scientific literature on the benefits of low-dose lithium therapy combined with over 25 years of clinical practice have convinced me that with low-dose lithium, it is entirely possible to have both.

References

Bech P. The full story of lithium. Nord J Psychiatry. 2007;61(46):35–39. 
Cade JFJ. Lithium salts in the treatment of psychotic excitement. Med J Aust. 1949;2.
Diniz BS, Machado-Vieira RM, Forlenza OV. Lithium and neuroprotectin: translational evidence and implications for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2013;9:493–500.
Farah R et al. Lithium’s gene expression profile, a cDNA microarray study. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2013;33:411–420. 
Mauer S, Vergne D, Ghaemi NS. Standard and trace-dose lithium: a systematic review of dementia prevention and other behavioral benefits. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2014;48(9):809–818. 
Nunes MA, Viel TA, Buck HS. Microdose lithium treatment stabilized cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2013;10(1):104–107.
Shorter E. The history of lithium therapy. Bipolar Disord. 2009;11(2):4–9.
Schrauzer GN. Lithium: occurrence dietary intakes, nutritional essentiality. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21(2):14–21.
Schrauzer GN, de Vroey E. Effects of nutritional lithium supplementation on mood. Biol Trace Elem Res.1994;40:89–101.
Schrauzer GN, Shrestha KP. Lithium in drinking water and the incidences of crimes, suicides and arrests related to drug addictions. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1990;25:105–113.
Strobasch AD, Jefferson JW. The checkered history of lithium in medicine. Pharm Hist. 1980;22(2):72–76.
Young AH, Hammond JM. Lithium in mood disorders: increasing evidence base, declining use? Br J Psychiatry 2007;191:474–476.
Young W. Review of lithium effects on brain and blood. Cell Transplant. 2009;18:951–975.
James M. Greenblatt, MD, currently serves as the chief medical officer and vice president of Medical Services at Walden Behavioral Care in Waltham, Massachusetts. He is assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine. An acknowledged integrative medicine expert, Dr. Greenblatt has lectured throughout the US on the scientific evidence for nutritional interventions in psychiatry and mental illness. Dr. Greenblatt is on the scientific advisory board and consultant for Pure Encapsulations. He maintains an integrative psychiatric practice in the Boston area.
Kayla Grossmann, RN, works as a nurse advocate and freelance writer specializing in integrative health research and practice. She supports several large organizations in the field by contributing to their ongoing educational initiatives and clinical programming.

Find out more about their upcoming book and work on www.lowdoselithium.org

Dr. Howton’s comments:
At Restore Health Center we use Lithium Ororate in 5 mg capsules with a typical dose being 5mg once or twice a day and we routinely see the benefits described in this excellent article. Because low dose lithium is so cost effective (a bottle of 90 capsules sells at our office for $10.34), it is one of our first line choices to protect memory and optimize mood.

 

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