Great Smokies Medical Center of Asheville

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November 2010 Health Matters

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

November 2010 (Download PDF)

Introducing Mark Hoch, M.D.

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Mark Hoch will join GSMC as a staff physician and will accept new patients starting December 1, 2010.

Three Cases of Applied Mindbody Medicine

Learn how mindbody therapies can be used to improve clinical outcomes of common ailments.

Frequency Specific Microcurrent

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Inner Space
Each of a human’s estimated 50 trillion living cells is energetically powered by a virtual “computer within” that enables cells to communicate with each other and to organize, monitor, and regulate an entire complex, dynamic organism. However, when this subtle, invisible energy is disrupted, symptoms or diseases can result. The ability to restore an organism’s subtle energy that has been adversely impacted by injury, toxins, infection, inflammation, or stress represents an exciting potential in clinical medicine’s vast, new frontier: Inner space.

Spanning from 2750 BC and the medical use of electric eels for stimulating healing to current-day, innovative research of electricity to treat cancer, electromagnetic energy has made fascinating and sustaining contributions to science and medical practice. Electromagnetic therapies were used by 50 percent of U.S. physicians in 1910. However, in the 1930’s, these therapies were nearly driven out of existence by competitive influences that favored emerging pharmaceutical and technological advances in deference to several therapies in practice at that time.
In 1995, Oregon-based Carolyn McMakin, M.A., D.C., was given tissue frequency protocols from a retired Canadian osteopath to use in her practice. “Dr. Carol” used the frequencies on hundreds of patients who were referred to her and who had proved to be resistant to a variety of other treatments. As a group, these patients responded extremely well. Fueled by her observations, Dr. Carol ushered FSM into the 21st century by expanding its applications to help assure its ongoing relevance, establishing the reproducibility of FSM protocols through clinical research, and educating healthcare professionals in FSM training seminars worldwide.

Good Vibrations
All matter is made of atoms. Negatively charged atomic particles called electrons vibrate and spin in orbits around the nucleus of atoms and, in doing so, produce electromagnetic energy. Each tissue and organ has a specific frequency that is unique from all of the body’s other tissues and organs. Because water is a conductor of electromagnetic energy and because the human body is approximately 70 percent water, people are susceptible to electromagnetic field changes, whether intentional (therapeutic) or from background environmental pollution.

Bad Vibes
When cells are injured or diseased, the vibrational frequencies of their electrons are disrupted. The specific abnormal vibration is not only determined by which tissue is afflicted (cartilage, tendon, bone, liver, etc.), but also by the type of causation (inflammation, infection, stress, shock, injury, toxicity, etc.). These two variables determine the frequency selection and are thus essential to achieve good results.
Disturbed cellular frequencies can become “stuck,” in effect perpetuating symptoms and leaving the affected person chronically afflicted with ailments that may not yield to the usual physical interventions.

The Equipment
GSMC uses FSM equipment manufactured by Precision Distributing, Inc. FSM is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medical device that is grouped by the FDA in the same category as Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) units, even though FSM outputs in millionths of amperes (the same as human cells), and TENS units output in thousandths of amperes (1,000 times greater). Microcurrent devices such as FSM that deliver amperage similar to that of the body cooperatively resonate with the body’s energy, as opposed to devices that deliver amperage which forces a biological response by suppressing or overriding the body’s more subtle energy.

FSM Results
Some patients have reported significant benefits immediately after or within 24 hours following a single FSM session. These reported benefits can be permanent, or they may last between four days to a week, with the duration of benefit lasting longer with each subsequent FSM session. Other patients, particularly those with long standing symptoms or a decreased vital force, have reported benefits only after six sessions.
Electrons that have been vibrating at disrupted frequencies for an extended period of time tend to habitually return to those frequencies, often within four to seven days following an FSM session. This situation calls for repeated FSM sessions at appropriate intervals. Though early intervention generally enhances favorable outcomes with FSM and other medical interventions, good outcomes have also been observed when using FSM for long-standing symptoms, even when other treatments have failed.
No technology, device, or technique is 100 percent effective, and FSM is no exception. Some patients may not respond. Predicting in advance who will or won’t respond to FSM is not possible. No significant or lasting adverse reactions to FSM have been reported.

General Information
FSM requires a light touch–no painful or deep pressure is involved. Bodywork or massage techniques may be used during an FSM session.
Because FSM’s amperage is similar to the body’s own cellular amperage, patients experience no sensation whatsoever. Benefits of improved cellular function include warmth, softening of tight tissues, emotional release, and reduction of pain during a session.
The therapist may deliver FSM through moist towels or thin black graphite gloves. The gloves enable the therapist to have a “hands-on” feel of the response of muscles and other affected tissues during the session and target FSM to smaller areas such as trigger points.
When normal tissue frequencies are restored, tissue function can also be restored, resulting in backed-up cellular toxins being released, and possibly the occurrence of flu-like detoxification symptoms. These symptoms have started as soon as an hour after a session and usually last two to four hours and up to a day or two. Drinking one or two quarts of water in the first two hours following a treatment is recommended to help prevent or lessen detox symptoms.

Home-Based FSM
Some patients may respond well to FSM, but do not experience a sustained improvement in symptoms without ongoing sessions. These patients may be candidates for purchasing a portable unit that can be programmed with their specific frequencies for safe and effective, ongoing home-based FSM.

Conditions For Which Others Have Reported Benefits With FSM
Achilles tendonitis
Back pain
Bell’s palsy
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Emotional issues
Fibromyalgia associated with cervical spine injury
Frozen shoulder
Interstitial cystitis
Irritable bowel syndrome
Kidney stone pain
Migraine headaches
Myofascial pain
Neuromuscular pain and inflammation
Peripheral neuropathy
Post-herpetic neuralgia
Post-surgical pain
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Reflexive Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
Restless leg syndrome
Scar tissue
Spinal disc pain
Sports injuries
Temperomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain
Tendon and ligament injury or pain
Tension headaches
Tennis elbow
Wound healing

IV Nutritional Therapies: A Fast Track to Replenish Nutrients

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

Healthcare practitioners trained in nutritional medicine know the many benefits of using intravenous (IV) drips to quickly and efficiently deliver nutrients directly to where they are needed: the cells. IVs bypass the digestive system and its potential barriers to the absorption of nutrients (deficient hydrochloric acid is at the top of the list, followed by deficient digestive enzymes and a lack of beneficial friendly gut bacteria that aid digestion).
IV nutrients are given in therapeutic, pharmacological doses far above the minimal requirements of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which are intended to avoid deficiency states and have little to do with promoting optimal health.
The body’s familiarity with natural nutrients (as contrasted with "unnatural" drugs) accounts for the high safety profile of IV nutrient administration.
Sixty-seven percent of the population is estimated to be magnesium deficient, a fact that gives magnesium a starring role in IV nutritional therapy. Because deficiency of this mineral results in spasms, magnesium is especially useful to treat asthma (spasm of bronchioles), high blood pressure (spasm or constriction of blood vessels), menstrual cramps (spasm of the uterus), and migraines (vascular spasm). Heart failure and heart arrhythmia are conditions associated with decreased intracellular magnesium levels and, as such, are also benefited by this essential mineral. For mostly unknown reasons, people who are deficient in magnesium often cannot correct their deficiency by taking magnesium capsules by mouth until the magnesium levels are first replenished by IV administration.
Vitamin C’s starring role in IV administration is due to its anti-viral properties that make it useful in treating colds, influenza, and hepatitis. Because humans (and guinea pigs and bats) cannot make vitamin C the way other mammals can, there is much benefit to be had from IV Vitamin C. It is also indicated for immune support, for treating allergic conditions, for its anti-cancer properties, and to aid the detoxification of heavy metals.
The Myers Cocktail, named after the late Maryland physician John Myers, M.D., and popularized by Alan Gaby, M.D., combines magnesium and B vitamins to safely, inexpensively, and effectively treat a variety of chronic conditions including depression and fibromyalgia and chronic conditions of the digestive tract that can result in magnesium being "leaked" or wasted.
Nutrient depletion is common, especially in patients requiring surgery, who may not have been able to tolerate eating prior to surgery or who suffer from a poor diet. IV administration of nutrients before surgery can have a positive impact on the post-surgical course, including less pain and faster healing.
Macular degeneration is often responsive to IV administration of nutrients required for healthy eye function, including zinc, selenium, glutathione, and vitamin B complex.
Though dehydration is obvious after vomiting and diarrhea, its role in chronic disease is often overlooked. Chronic, low-grade dehydration impairs cellular function. Afflicted patients can respond well to re-hydration by IV fluids.
A blend of vitamins, minerals, and micro-nutrients comprise a Mega-Nutrient, an IV used to replenish nutrients during a course of chelation therapy and also anytime someone feels rundown, is exhausted by chronic illness, or is under more stress than usual. Stress "eats up" nutrients (especially B vitamins), thereby creating a temporary exaggerated need.
Intensive anti-oxidant therapy can be delivered by using IV glutathione or alpha-lipoic acid. These nutrients have special use in modulating peripheral neuropathy of diabetes, liver disease (including hepatitis), asthma, and virtually any chronic disease in which oxidation plays a role.

Eat Your (Organic) Vegetables

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

The well-known admonition of mothers to their nutritionally-challenged, dessert-loving children, "Eat your vegetables," likely still echoes in the psyche of many nutritionally-challenged, dessert-loving adults. Well, guess what? Mom was right. The guys in white lab coats have scientifically confirmed many times over what mothers always knew: vegetables are important for good health.
In January 2005, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the 2005 Dietary Guidelines complete with updated recommendations that vary based on a person’s age and activity level. The new guidelines call for increasing the number of daily servings of vegetables and fruits from 5-9 to 5-13 servings a day. (A serving is one-half cup if solid, or one cup if leafy.) Some speculate this increase is largely driven by the roles vegetables play in decreasing cancer risk.
A reported decrease of nutrient levels in commercially available vegetables in U.S. supermarkets certainly justifies more vegetable servings. Many of the vegetable nutrient levels published in 2000 were significantly less compared with 1963 levels. For example, the vitamin C level in bell peppers fell from 128 mg to 89 mg (a 31 percent decrease), while spinach lost 45 percent of its vitamin C. Nearly half of the calcium and vitamin A in broccoli apparently vanished. That southern staple of soul food, collards, has lost 61 percent of its vitamin A and 51 percent of its potassium. (Nutritional tables can be accessed online at
Just how relevant is this decline of nutrient levels in food?
For starters, in 1992 a USDA report estimated that if everyone in the United States ate a diet supplying the recommended daily nutrients, cancer, respiratory diseases, and infectious diseases would decrease by 20 percent, heart and vascular diseases by 25 percent, and arthritis and infant and maternal deaths by 50 percent.
In a University of Minnesota study of 14,962 middle-aged adults, those who ate more servings of fruits and vegetables had a 41 percent to 53 percent decrease in the incidence of venous thromboembolism (clot) formation.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study which found that men with the least amount of vitamin C (most abundant in fruits and vegetables) have a 62 percent increased risk of cancer.
The journal Nature published a study showing that onions (the food with the greatest amount of quercetin, a natural plant nutrient) slowed the loss of bone density, which can eventually result in osteoporosis. The vegetables arugula, broccoli, cucumbers, Chinese cabbage, red cabbage, dill, garlic, leeks, wild garlic, lettuce, parsley and tomatoes have also been shown to slow bone density loss.
Imbalances of the hormone estrogen increase the risk of cancer in both men and women. The risk can be offset by eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, collards, kale, and kohlrabi, which contain compounds known as indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolymethane (DIM). They are effective in shifting the metabolism of estradiol (the estrogen most associated with cancer risk) by reducing levels of "bad" estrogen metabolites and increasing levels of "good" estrogen metabolites, thus reducing the risk of prostate, cervical and breast cancers, among others.
Vegetables are the single best food source of minerals. Literally every biochemical process in the human body is dependent on minerals, a fact that makes mineral imbalances or deficiencies capable of undermining health in all organ systems.
The relatively sudden change in western culture from eating mostly organic, home-grown produce to eating primarily commercially-grown produce may be at least partially offset by year-round availability of fresh produce. However, for food to be transported across the nation (or planet) before it spoils, it must be picked before Mother Nature can ripen it naturally. In foods that are allowed to ripen on the vine, plant chemicals called flavonoids form. The media have recently brought one flavonoid, lycopene, to the attention of the public. Lycopene is found in red fruit and vegetables, most notably in tomatoes, and is especially beneficial to prostate function. While flavonoids function as sunscreens for plants, they protect those who eat them from DNA damage (which could otherwise result in cancer) and deterioration of brain cells, and also provide other health benefits.
Not allowing vegetables to ripen outdoors in the sun decreases plant levels of folic acid, precursors of vitamin A, and anthocyanins (chemicals that give mature plants their bright colors and are a source of life-sustaining, whole food antioxidants).
Vegetables also add high quality fiber that supports immune, digestive, and general health.
Maybe you have brought home produce that looks beautiful (huge, bright red strawberries, or off-season tomatoes and cantaloupes) only to discover it tastes like flannel. Such "food" may be hybridized to look appealing, is likely grown on artificially fertilized, depleted soil, and may even be genetically modified.
In America, where vegetables are considered a side dish (incidental to meat and grains), and little time is relegated to meal preparation, the average person is unlikely to get nutrients from vegetables in levels adequate to deter, much less treat, diseases of nutritional deficiency.
Though many people who eat organic produce do so for what they don’t get (chemical fertilizers, genetic modification, pesticides, antibiotics, herbicides, growth enhancers, etc.), sufficient data now provides motivation for eating organically for what is present: more nutrients.
A 2001 article in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reviewed 41 published studies that compared the nutritional values of conventional and organic produce. According to the article, organic produce has 27 percent more vitamin C, 21 percent more iron, 29 percent more magnesium, and 14 percent more phosphorus than non-organic produce.
All is not perfect in organic-land. However, even when factoring in the politically-based lowering of organic standards, the difficulty monitoring compliance to standards, and unavoidable factors such as drift of airborne chemicals from stack emissions and agricultural sprays that indiscriminately affect all crops, eating organic produce still translates to lower toxin levels and higher nutrient levels. Eating organically grown food remains a healthier choice than eating food that is conventionally grown.
GSMC doctors have taken thousands of dietary histories and, though our "average patient" gets enough protein, fat, starch, and calories, inadequate intake of fresh vegetables is common.
Interpreting the current glut of dietary information and misinformation in the media becomes nearly impossible for the general public who wants valid, sound advice. Here’s some: Eat a minimum of five to seven servings of a wide variety of raw or cooked, fresh, organic vegetables daily, most of which are brightly colored. Moms everywhere would approve!

Sugar-Coated Health: Anything But Sweet

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2006

An Age-Old Problem
In 1910, George M. Gould, M. D. of Ithaca, NY wrote the following:
“For several years it has been growing clearer to me that many patients do not get well because they live too exclusively on sugary and starchy foods. With greater activity and the resisting power of youth, children exhibit the morbid tendency by excessive nervousness, denutrition, ease-of-becoming ill, and by many ague and warning symptoms. I have asked the parents of such children to stop them in their use of all sweets, and most starches and almost immediately there was a most gratifying disappearance of the ‘nervousness,’ fickleness of appetite, colds, and vague manifold ailments.”
Dr. Gould went on to say, ” . . . the evil effects of sugar-drowning will sometimes be recognized as still more important and varied than I have said. Among others, I have had two cases in which it was clear that a too exclusive or an exaggerated diet of sugary foods was a cause of epilepsy. The first was that of a boy of nine years of age in which correction of eyestrain brought no relief of both petit and grand mal attacks. Then by diligent inquiry I learned that the boy (who was morbidly nervous…almost insanely active) ate no meats, eggs, vegetables, etc., and lived, practically, on cakes,’a little breakfast food, etc., with enormous quantities of sugar, syrups, etc. Recovery followed a diet list which excluded the sweets.”
Not-So-Common Common Sense
Without knowing it by name, Dr. Gould was likely describing diet-related cases of what is now called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). We have grown so accustomed to large amounts of sugar in our diets and culture that we can no longer see the problem that was obvious to Dr. Gould.
History Repeats Itself
Nearly 100 years later, the same dietary scenario is still being reenacted across America. The nutrient-deprived caloric excess of dietary sugar may be the most significant contributor to the peculiar type of malnutrition in our land-of-plenty that underlies poor health of Americans of all ages. Different from 1910, much of the sugar currently consumed is in the form of beverages–the omnipresent cans of soda, fruit drinks, and the trendy sugar- and caffeine-laced designer energy drinks.
A Dark History
White sugar has a dark history. Sugar cane is thought to be native to Southeast Asia. Alexander the Great imported it from India around 325 B.C., and it reached Egypt about 1000 years later. Christopher Columbus brought sugar cane to the Americas. The resulting sugar refining industry became the primary motivation for maintaining the African slave trade in the Caribbean, Mexico, Brazil, and the United States. Processing this “white gold” was hot, exhausting and dangerous, and it claimed many lives.
Liquid Candy
Japanese researchers perfected the extraction of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from corn in the 1970s. This “liquid candy” would prove to be 1.4 times sweeter than table sugar, easily soluble, versatile, and inexpensive.
In the United States, table sugar is usually derived from sugar cane or sugar beets and is comprised of sucrose, a 50/50 blend of glucose and fructose. HFCS can be up to 80 percent fructose. Corn is a significant allergen in human health, a fact that can contribute to HFCS’s adverse health effects for some.
HFCS has saturated the prepared food market and has become difficult for even astute consumers to avoid. Few people would eat 11 sugar cubes in one sitting, but they find it easy to drink its equivalent in a single can of soda many times a day. In 2000 alone, U.S. consumers drank 17 billion gallons of aggressively-marketed sodas containing HFCS.
No One Culprit
Because all sugars (sucrose, glucose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, dextrose, honey, maple syrup, agave, turbinado, Sucanat, etc.) have the same basic metabolic effects, each can detract from health if eaten in excess. Fructose is unique compared to most sugars in that it must first be metabolized by the liver. Animal studies link the use of fructose to fatty deposits in the liver, fibrotic scarring of the liver, and intestinal bloating. The packaging of sugar in foods with additives (e.g., caffeine, artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives) creates an additive effect that can uniquely undermine health.
Insulin is a stress hormone that causes cellular growth and, as such, is linked to some cancers, obesity, and heart disease.
Glucose is the only sugar that can be burned as fuel inside cells, and it requires insulin to transport it across the cell membrane to be burned. Many of sugar’s adverse effects on health are related to elevated insulin levels that can result from a diet high in sugar.
The Real High Cost of Sugar
In addition to promoting harmful high insulin levels, excess sugar in the diet results in oxidative damage from Advanced Glycosolation End products (AGE) that interfere with collagen and elastin, structural components of (over) the skin and other vital organs. Excess intake of dietary sugar can cause or contribute to fatigue, gouty arthritis, cancer, tooth decay, clot formation, diabetes, rickets, osteoporosis, scurvy, obesity, degeneration of blood vessels and circulation, yeast overgrowth, immune dysregulation, behavior and mood disorders (ADD, ADHD, anti-social behavior, depression), increased risk of infection, elevated bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides, gout, adrenal stress, pancreatic cancer in women, mineral imbalances and deficiencies (e.g., copper, magnesium, zinc, chromium, manganese, calcium, etc.), diseases of nutritional deficiencies, high blood pressure, kidney stones, cataracts, visual disorders, premature aging, and acidosis.
Sugar Feeds Cancer
Cancer cells have a big appetite for sugar to fuel their rapid growth. These rapidly growing cells have ten times more insulin receptors than non-cancerous cells, allowing them to readily utilize glucose for energy even in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic glycolysis), a metabolic situation that results in an unhealthy accumulation of lactic acid. Animal studies suggest that normal or, optimally, low-normal blood sugar levels result in improved cancer treatment outcomes and boost immune function.
Super-Sweet, Super-Sized
Not all of sugar’s potential to cause obesity is related to a simple excess of calories. After the body’s caloric (energy) needs are met and the liver’s stored energy reserves of sugar, glycogen, is untapped (as it usually is in sedentary people), sugars are converted to another stored form of energy called fat. When blood sugar levels rise, so do harmful insulin levels. Elevated insulin levels have historically protected the body during times of famine by forcing sugars into fat storage instead of being burned for the body’s energy needs, helping protect the body’s critical fat stores.
Is Sugar Addictive?
What we call a “sweet tooth” has its basis in brain chemistry. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals responsible for the well-known “runner’s high.” In particular, alcoholics, women, and obese individuals may share similar disadvantageous brain chemistry that gives them a “sugar high” from eating sweets. Women tend to have more sugar cravings (often before menstruation or during menopause) than men.
People with lower than normal levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter whose deficiency is seen in depression, insomnia, and migraines, may experience a euphoric rush when they eat sugary foods, different from the mildly pleasant feeling experienced by people who have normal serotonin levels. Measuring neurotransmitter levels in the urine can reveal imbalances of these powerful determinants of mood and behavior and also suggest actions to take to help restore balanced brain chemistry.
Those who don’t “get” the impact of sugar in health need look no further than the examples of the sudden introduction of our highly-refined, nutrient-deprived Standard American Diet (SAD) into native cultures. The Pima Native Americans and Inuit peoples, for example, both suffered increases in degenerative diseases (gout, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity) upon adopting the SAD. Many Americans today are unknowingly participating in a similar dietary experiment that is undermining their health.
Sugar production in 2000 topped $3.5 billion, according to the Agriculture Department. Americans consume more sugar than any other nation and also spend more on healthcare than any other nation. Sugar manufacturers would have the public believe that sedentary lifestyles and overeating are necessary for consumers of sugar to succumb to poor health. While this rhetoric may contain seeds of truth, it takes focus away from what is likely the most effective strategy to improve health while reducing risk of chronic degenerative diseases through dietary manipulation: limiting the amount of sugar in the diet, the same pragmatic approach that Dr. Gould used successfully in 1910.
Benefits of Sugar
Is there a positive side to sugar? Yes. Adequate blood sugar is essential for life, particularly as an energy source for the brain and muscles, including the heart. Sugar has antiseptic properties and has been used topically to treat bedsores. Physicians once used sugar to enhance uterine contractions of women in labor. Sugar is a preservative and helps retain color in canned foods. It is in the form of black strap molasses (the dregs of the final extraction of cane sugar), however, where sugar has it greatest redeeming value. Black strap molasses is rich in minerals and vitamins, likely accounting for its reported health benefits.
A Blood Sugar Balancing Act
Blood sugar needs to be in balance. Low levels can result in coma and death, while high levels (as seen in poorly controlled diabetes), given enough time, have proved to be a reliable, if often silent, killer. The fact that blood sugar is essential for life should not be interpreted as a reason to eat or drink sugar. Quite the opposite. Eating refined sugar to maintain blood sugar (other than possibly a very small amount during an acute hypoglycemia episode) assures an unwanted ride on a blood sugar roller coaster. Relying on non-processed, fresh vegetables and, to a lesser extent, fruit (if not diabetic) as nutrient-dense sources of complex carbohydrates rather than the nutritionally-deficient calories from refined carbohydrates (sugars) is a far healthier choice. All refined sugars are separated from the vitamins and minerals found in the natural ancestral whole food from which they were derived. The resulting lack of nutrients requires that the body rob (deplete) its own nutrient stores to function.
Aaaw . . . Naturale?
HFCS made the news earlier this year when Cadbury Schweppes, manufacturer of 7-Up, used the phrase “All Natural” in its marketing. Some health advocates consider HFCS to be natural like, say, crack cocaine, another refined natural product. Many concerned citizens across America aren’t waiting for the courts to define “natural” and are taking steps to get HFCS-containing foods out of school lunch menus and vending machines.
A Return to Common Sense
Legal opinions aside, defending sugar as being even remotely healthy is becoming more and more difficult. If you feel confused when the sugar industry’s economic interests prevail over truth in the media, use the tool employed by Dr. Gould: common sense. Don’t wait for a whitewashed consensus from the government or from sugar refiners to define sugar’s health impact. Instead, take charge of your health by proactively limiting the amount of refined sugar in your diet.

Assisted Detoxification

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Self-Cleaning Models?
Wouldn’t it be nice to simply push a button and burn off years of accumulated toxins, much like a self-cleaning oven?
Well, there’s good news. People are "self-cleaning." They detoxify through six major pathways: the liver, colon, skin, lymph, kidneys, and lungs.
The bad news? The amounts and types of toxins in the environment now exceed most bodies’ ability to detoxify. (Refer to the Jan/Feb 2006 Health Matters for a list of diseases and conditions associated with toxicity.)
Hiding the Evidence?
A body geared toward survival will protect vital organs from acute toxin exposure by shuttling toxins away and hiding them in fat. Once hidden, toxins can adversely affect health from their fatty outpost as their presence stimulates immune responses that result in chronic symptoms and, given enough time, organic disease.
This toxicity-induced immune activation often occurs below the exposed person’s level of awareness. All he knows is that he was a little lightheaded while stripping furniture or that he just hasn’t felt quite right since getting new carpet in his home. Just as likely, he feels off his mark but doesn’t know why, and attributes it to stress or aging. If he mentions how he feels to his doctor, he may find that his all-too-often equally clueless physician is apt to assign a diagnosis to his ailments that best addresses the symptoms (the tip of a very large iceberg) and prescribe drugs, perpetuating the cover-up.
Ancient/Modern Wisdom
Historically, various methods of assisting detoxification have been used including East Indian Ayurvedic cleansing, Finnish saunas, South American native herbs, enemas (likely first used in Egyptian culture), and Native American sweat lodges. In modern times, the popularity of European spas speaks to the apparent need and desire to rejuvenate health through detoxification. In the United States, the Gerson method of detoxification successfully treated numerous chronic degenerative diseases in the 30’s and 40’s, and the Hubbard Purification method of detoxification was popularized in the 70’s. Since then, they and similar programs have been used to safely detoxify hundreds of thousands of people.
Most people undergoing clinically supervised detoxification programs in a medical facility have had work-related chemical exposures that necessitate close medical supervision. Severe symptoms can develop when stored toxins are mobilized and re-enter the circulation on their way out of the body.
It’s a Sign
Signs and symptoms of toxicity vary widely because each of thousands of toxins has its own toxic profile. Commonly reported are headaches, body aches and pains, mental and physical fatigue, dizziness, halitosis, body odors, arthritis, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart arrhythmias, lethargy, rashes, itching, mood disorders, excess mucus, digestive problems, brain fog, exercise intolerance, stress intolerance, and difficulty breathing.
Post 9/11 Health Problems
Many people were exposed to toxins during the aftermath of the 9/11 World Trade Center (WTC) disaster and paid the high price of developing altered neurological function, difficulty breathing, depression, lowered thyroid function and reduced IQ test scores. A group of 484 people (63 of whom left the program before completion) aged 20 to 77, mostly uniformed officers, underwent a detoxification regimen for an average of 33 days that involved 2 1/2 to 5 hours of sauna per day and specific nutrient supplementation and support. According to the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, all of the 484 patients studied (most of whom were firefighters) reported feeling better, and 84 percent were able to discontinue drugs taken to manage their post-9/11 exposure symptoms. Seventy-two percent of those who took pulmonary drugs had better pulmonary function off their pulmonary drugs following detoxification than they had on their drugs before detoxification. Cognitive function showed improvement, as did vestibular function (i.e. balance), reaction times, and IQ test scores. Neurological testing showed continued improvement months after the detox programs were completed.
Although the WTC 9/11 pollution levels resulted in the rapid development of symptoms, making the cause obvious, most people have a far less dramatic story to tell. Their toxins have taken years to accumulate and are, as such, much less likely to be identified as the cause of their health problems.
Tools of the Trade
Today, assisted detoxification may utilize several practices including infrared saunas, conventional dry saunas, organic diets, exercise, various cleansing programs, rebounders, liver and gall bladder cleanses, coffee enemas, acupuncture, acupressure, supplementation of specific nutrients, juicing, Epsom salt baths, colonics, massage, specific detoxification of known toxins (e.g., heavy metal chelators), chiropractic, dieting or caloric restriction, homeopathy, ionic footbaths, lymphatic massage, alkalinization, and passive lymph exercisers.
Assisted detoxification is especially effective when various methods are used in combination, for example following moderate aerobic exercise with saunas and massage intended to detect and massage slightly swollen or "textured" areas in body tissues that denote toxin storage. These modalities can be further assisted by the use of niacin (vitamin B3) to help create cellular energy, dilate capillaries and mobilize fat, thus helping to release toxins from their fatty storage depots. Taking cold-pressed, organic polyunsaturated oils (sunflower, avocado, walnut, safflower, etc.) helps prevent the re-absorption of mobilized toxins.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
When actively detoxifying, it is important to keep the detox pathways open by avoiding constipation and drinking adequate fluids. Most people will initially experience increased symptoms as toxins are rousted from storage sites in the body and re-enter the circulation on their way out of the body. The passing of various toxins and the presence of foul odors routinely result as toxins are mobilized and exit the body.
Nutritional Support
Detoxification is accomplished by cellular work that requires specific nutrients. A person needing assisted detoxification may be depleted in the very nutrients that support the removal of toxins from the body. Supportive nutritional supplementation is thus recommended, including but not limited to essential fatty acids, antioxidants, niacin, fiber, enzymes, electrolytes, probiotics, enzymes, vitamin C, herbal support of organs of detoxification, amino acids, oils, alpha ketoglutaric acid, magnesium, silymarin, glutathione, glucuronic acid, bentonite, and activated charcoal. Similarly, balancing immune system function by treating allergies and infections that stress immune function helps pave the way for successful detoxification.
Home Safe Home
People who have home and work environments relatively free of toxins and who eat organic diets detoxify to a greater degree than those who do not. Since the average person spends more than half his life in his house and nearly a third of his life in his bedroom, keeping one’s home and bedroom as free as possible from toxins can help create a healing oasis. A sparsely furnished bedroom with tile or wood floors and minimal window coverings is easy to keep clean. Chemicals such as cleaning products, art supplies and all but a couple of books should be stored outside the bedroom. Natural lighting, air purification, natural non-toxic cleaning products, ventilation, dehumidification, and natural fiber bed linens that can easily be laundered regularly in hot water are recommended.
Dentally Retarded?
Because mercury is one of the toxins that can be mobilized through detoxification and because it can retard the body’s ability to detoxify, mercury-containing "silver" (gray colored) dental fillings should be removed by a specially trained dentist ( prior to starting a course of assisted detoxification.
So Warned
Assisted detoxification is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women (an increase in circulating toxins can harm fetuses or babies who are more vulnerable to the effects of toxins than adults), anyone severely underweight, or young children and additionally, for patients with kidney failure, seizures, anorexia, and bulimia. People stopping recreational or prescription drugs require physician-monitoring. Drinking alcohol and using tobacco products (both known toxins) negate efforts to detoxify.
Some toxins that are released from their storage depots could be carcinogenic, necessitating customized nutritional support during detoxification. Such support is beneficial for all, or can be considered essential for sicker or more nutritionally depleted patients, as is monitoring minerals, electrolytes, and other parameters by laboratory testing.
Easy Does It
Though assisted detoxification has been safely and successfully carried out by thousands of people, not everyone is a candidate. If disease has affected an organ of detoxification (liver, lungs, kidneys, etc.), backlogged toxicity can be so great that even a gentle effort to detoxify is simply not tolerated. Very toxic or weakened persons should be detoxified only under direct medical supervision where they can be "rescued" should they have severe detox symptoms.
A person eager to recover lost health can push detoxification to an extreme, having detoxification symptoms that are not tolerable or risking nutrient depletion. One’s tolerance or intolerance of assisted detoxification can serve to guide the pace of a detox program. A relatively healthy person may benefit from cleansing two or three times a year, while a more toxic person may require a daily regimen. Persistence is rewarded.
Detoxification is a process, not an event. The use of detoxification methods in synergistic combination with each other is better than the single, protracted use of one method. Alternating detoxification with periods of rest is beneficial and more effective. Rest and relaxation also help create an internal environment which favors the release of cellular toxins.
Exposure to even everyday background environmental toxins impacts health. People interested in disease prevention or health maintenance would be wise to consider an ongoing program of assisted detoxification.
The goal of assisted detoxification is to help a person function and feel better by addressing the underlying cause of his health problems. Detoxifying is health-smart because it addresses the causes of toxicity while decreasing immune stress and enhancing the ability of the body to repair itself (homeostasis).
Accurately determining the cause of symptoms provides autonomy and can result in people feeling they have some control over their health. Genetic variability accounts for some people having significant recovery of function and health from assisted detoxification, while others do not.
Assisted detoxification is not a panacea and it is generally not recognized, understood, or accepted by mainstream medical doctors who dismiss its reported successes as merely anecdotal. Even when the underlying cause of disease is toxicity, surgery or other mainstream medical interventions may still be required. Medical supervision of assisted detoxification is recommended.

What is Chelation Therapy?

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

What Is Chelation?
The word Chelation is derived from the Greek work “chelos” which translates as “claw” and refers to the ability of Ethylenediamine Tetraacetic Acid (EDTA) to grab unto heavy metals and toxic chemicals for transportation out of the body.
A half-century of research in structural chemistry focusing on the ability of some amino acids to form constant stable bonds with metal ions preceded the rapid development in the 1930’s and 1940’s of a new range of compounds initially applied to industrial and then to medical uses. One of the industrial uses was preventing calcium in hard water from causing staining or other problems in textile printing. EDTA was developed and patented for this purpose.
In the early 1940’s it was discovered through research that EDTA was a highly effective antidote to heavy metal toxicity, especially lead poisoning. Further studies at Georgetown University by Dr. Martin Rubin revealed that EDTA had an effect of lowering of serum calcium levels in humans.
In the 1950’s, the use of EDTA for lead toxicity in clinical trials had surprisingly effective results. To this day, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still recommends EDTA as the ideal treatment for lead toxicity and for hypercalcemia (excess calcium). It was a coincidental finding in the 1950’s when it was observed that persons who had lead toxicity and blockages in their arteries often not only experienced marked improvement in their symptoms of lead poisoning, but also in their circulation.
Since these pioneering days, the protocols for the use of EDTA for both hardening of the arteries and heavy metal toxicity have improved. In the clinical experience of GSMC physicians, benefits including improved functioning have been observed for angina, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, intermittent claudication, diabetes, gangrene, digitalis (Lanoxin) toxicity, abnormal clotting tendencies, and scleroderma.

Modern Day Use of EDTA
EDTA Chelation Therapy today consists of the intravenous infusion of EDTA with other nutritional additives including Vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium etc., administered under the supervision of a trained physician over a three-hour period of time.
A course of Chelation Therapy could range from twenty treatments for prevention to in excess of forty treatments for severe and complex disease. Your physician will recommend a course of treatment customized for one’s individual circumstances. Remember it takes years to develop artery disease, and it is a serious medical condition. To reverse, stop or even slow down this disease process within the span of 30-40 Chelation Therapy treatments is an remarkable goal.

EDTA Chelation Therapy is considered by informed physicians who utilize it to be an effective first step alternative to surgical treatment for atherosclerotic vascular disease in individuals who have been deemed to be appropriate candidates. The physicians at GSMC readily refer patients for Coronary Artery Bypass, stent placement, and angioplasty if indicated, always weighing respective risks and benefits and the appropriateness of each potential therapy for each particular situation.

One of the benefits of EDTA Chelation Therapy is its ability to simultaneously treat all the arteries in the body, unlike surgical bypass that may remedy just a few inches of blockage that exists in a circulatory system that contains 40,000 miles of blood vessels. Vascular disease is a systemic illness, and as all physicians recognize, a complex illness with varied contributors and causes.
Virtually everyone in our post-industrial society carries some toxic metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic and aluminum. The important causative roles these toxins have in human health have become better understood in recent years. Some of those best-known roles are: lead toxicity in neurological disorders and learning disabilities of children, excess iron (known as hemachromatosis) and vascular disease, and the suspected relationship between Alzheimer’s and aluminum.
In our experience, Chelation Therapy lowers heart disease risk by addressing the toxic effects of iron stores in the body, and helps prevent excessive clotting tendencies, thereby increasing longevity through prevention of heart attacks and strokes.
In our experience, when Chelation Therapy is used as part of a comprehensive program including nutritional supplementation, diet, exercise, stress reduction, lifestyle modification and smoking cessation, most of our patients experience a significant return of function and an overall improved sense of well-being. One should not expect to simply sit for a three hour IV each week and not change any risk factors that contributed to their health problems in the first place and still experience benefits. The person being treated has an active role to play in determining outcome of treatment.

Since its inception in 1979, the physicians at Great Smokies Medical Center (GSMC) have administered over 100,000 Chelation Therapy treatments. All GSMC physicians follow the American Board of Chelation Therapy (ABCT) protocol for the safe administration of EDTA. All GSMC physicians either are Board Certified in Chelation Therapy by the ABCT or are pursuing Board Certification, and are members of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), a not-for-profit organization of physicians who explore scientifically based innovative therapies.
There has never been a fatality reported from the use of EDTA when the prescribing physician follows the ABCT protocol. By comparison, for every 10,000 cardiac bypass patients, approximately 300 will die from the operation and approximately 1,000 other patients will suffer serious consequences such as a heart attack or stroke.
Our extensive experience with EDTA Chelation Therapy has made it routine for GSMC physicians to identify two health problems that need to be addressed prior to the start of treatment.
* Kidney disease: EDTA is excreted from the body via the kidneys, so your GSMC physician will assess your kidney function both before and periodically during your course of chelation therapy. In our experience, patients with mild to moderately impaired kidney function often experience improved kidney function resulting from improved circulation to the kidneys.
* Congestive Heart Failure: If you have congestive heart failure, your GSMC physician will adjust your program accordingly, by simply using less IV fluid to deliver your dose of EDTA. Most people with congestive heart failure can take chelation therapy without any difficulty.
While the beauty of EDTA is its relative safety and simple chemistry, it does have some side effects that our trained staff can prevent or identify early:
* While usually a comfortable therapy to receive, occasionally mild to moderate discomfort at the site of infusion in the arm may occur and be remedied by minor adjustments including using a heating pad or repositioning the IV.
* Since it is possible for anyone to have an adverse reaction to any substance, it may happen that one or more of the additives in the Chelation IV bottle may cause an adverse reaction. Omitting suspect additives from subsequent IV’s remedies this situation.
* Lowering of blood sugar (a benefit for diabetics) is a side effect of Chelation Therapy that is easily remedied by eating before and during a chelation treatment.
Who can benefit from chelation therapy:
In our experience, the following medical problems have been shown to benefit from Chelation Therapy
* Angina, history of a heart attack, or coronary artery disease
* A history of bypass surgery or angioplasty
* Stroke, TIAs, carotid artery disease
* Diabetes and its circulatory complications of ulcers and gangrene
* Intermittent claudication
* Scleroderma
* Lead toxicity
* High blood pressure
* Arthritis
Recommended reading:
Bypassing Bypass:
The New Technique of Chelation Therapy, Elmer Cranton, M.D., Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc., April 1994.
Forty Something Forever:
A Consumer’s Guide to Chelation Therapy, Harold and Arline Brecher, Virginia, Health Savers Press, Herndon, 1992.
Professional Organizations:
American College for the Advancement of Medicine
23121 Verdugo Drive, Suite 204
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Phone: 800-532-3688

Fragrances: Feel the Romance

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

While some natural ingredients in the perfume industry cost up to $40,000 per pound, their synthetic alternatives can cost less than $10 per pound, explaining why 95 percent of perfume ingredients are synthetic chemicals. You won’t find them listed on the label either, as there can be more than 500 ingredients in one formulation that are deemed to be “trade secrets.” These chemical brews are added to shampoos, soap, detergents, and many other personal and household products, perpetuating health risks from multiple daily exposures.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recognizes more than 800 chemicals in fragrances that are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, muscle and joint pain, rapid heart beat, depression, asthma, and widespread chemical sensitivities. If just one of these chemicals was intentionally sprayed on a fellow citizen, a visit from the HazMat team and assault charges could result. Yet these chemicals are part and parcel of everyday life, leaving some people sick . . . sick and clueless to the cause of their many symptoms.
Some of the not-so-romantic sounding ingredients in perfumes are: musk ambrette (causes degeneration of the nerve’s protective myelin sheath), benxophenones (can cause hives), linalool (causes poor coordination, depression and respiratory problems), and methyl ethyl ketone (can induce stupor, liver congestion, and numbness of extremities).

Maybe that dizzy-headed feeling you’ve been having isn’t really love after all.

People having “mysterious” symptoms can do a one month trial of avoidance of fragrances and products that contain them to determine the role, if any, that chemicals in fragrances play in contributing to their health problems. The answer may often be apparent only when fragrances are re-introduced at the end of the period of avoidance.

GSMC recommends that all public facilities such as hospitals, clinics and schools strive to provide fragrance-free environments that do not interfere with health or the ability to learn.

Chlorination of Municipal Water

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

In the U. S., public water supplies were first chlorinated in 1908. Since then, federal regulations have resulted in the chlorination of nearly all of America’s municipal water. Chemical additives can be added to hide chlorine’s odor. Chlorine is an industrial waste product that is added to water supplies to kill dysentery, cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis. Chlorine does not kill parasites and it has known adverse effects on human health. Both equipment and human errors routinely result in chlorine levels exceeding those allowed by the EPA.

Chlorination destroys vitamin E and contributes to hardening of the arteries, skin rashes, and headaches. It irritates the skin, eyes, and lungs, and interferes with the beneficial roles of cholesterol. In addition, it kills beneficial organisms (lactobacillus, etc.) in the digestive tract, thereby harming immune function and accelerates aging. Chlorine combines with organic matter present in water to result in the formation of trihalomethanes (THMs, including chloroform) that contribute to the incidence of cancer (particularly bladder and rectal cancers) and the risk of miscarriage.

Swimming in, showering in, and drinking chlorinated water all result in significant chlorine exposure. Sucralose (Splenda) is chlorinated sugar.

Ozone and hydrogen peroxide treatment of water are safer and less costly alternatives to chlorination.
Water testing performed by county health departments for the potability of water checks only for the presence of bacterial contamination and not for toxins. GSMC provides kits on request for testing a comprehensive panel of toxins, minerals, and bacteria.

This information is extracted, in part, from the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, an alternative medical publication:

Better Living Through Chemistry?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

Picture this Ozzie and Harriet moment. A woman sporting a newly permed and sprayed hair-do and a freshly ironed frock is happily creating clouds of air freshener in her home to take care of those, well, little embarrassing odors. She pauses to gaze fondly through the window at her husband, who is doing his manly job of applying herbicides to some pesky dandelions. He notices his adoring wife and stops long enough to smile lovingly and wave. In the distance, the stacks of a coal-fired power plant rise majestically above the horizon. Life is good.

Or not. Scientific evidence now tells us that all is not well in our modern chemical paradise.

In July 2005, the not-for-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) released results of a study of umbilical cord blood collected by the Red Cross from 10 randomly selected babies born in August and September 2004 in U. S. cities. Of 413 chemicals tested, the lab detected 287 in the blood samples. Each infant’s blood had between 159 and 234 chemicals. Of the chemicals found, 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animals.

Although the chemicals have long, complicated names like polyaromatic hydrocarbons and polybrominated dibenzodioxins, we all know them better as common household and industrial toxins: plastics, pesticides, solvents, methyl mercury, flame retardants, and numerous toxins that form when trash is burned. Many of the detected chemicals have been determined by the EPA to cause cancer, birth defects, thyroid disease, infertility, neurological problems, kidney damage, liver damage, and disrupted hormonal function. Chemicals interfere with health by either blocking or stimulating bio-chemical processes. For example, pesticides (in addition to interfering with nerve transmission) have been dubbed "birth control for men" because of their ability to feminize men by reducing sperm counts and decreasing the number of male births —all through disruption of endocrine function. Adverse health effects can occur at concentrations of 25 parts per trillion when vinyl chloride (plastics) or chlorine-treated paper is burned, forming the very toxic chemical compound dioxin.
The EWG cord blood study is concerning not only because of infants’ inability to detoxify chemicals and their long life expectancy that allows years of opportunity for health problems to manifest, but also because it is a sobering statement about the current toxic state of planet Earth.

If we start life with this toxic burden, how toxic must we be as adults after a lifetime of exposure? It is no wonder that our children are suffering from learning and developmental abnormalities, while the incidence of chronic degenerative diseases is affecting the quality of life of more and more adults.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell released a report in September 2005 that links dozens of environmental and occupational exposures to nearly 30 types of cancer. The report reveals that many cancer cases and deaths from cancer are caused by involuntary (background) exposures. These include: bladder cancer from the primary solvent used in dry cleaning, breast cancer from endocrine disruptors such as bisphenol-A (a byproduct of plastics), lung cancer from residential exposure to radon, non-Hodgkin¹s lymphoma from solvent and herbicide exposure, and childhood leukemia from pesticides.

Coal-fired energy plants are the single largest contributor of mercury released into the air. Ninety-eight percent of our nation’s energy-related production of methyl mercury, a known neurotoxin and contributor to common childhood behavioral disorders, comes from coal-fired energy plants, as does 96 percent of sulfur dioxide, 88 percent of carbon dioxide, and 93 percent of nitrous oxide. If you are on the electric power grid in the United States, you are likely reliant on coal burning, an industry that results in ecologically harmful soot, smog, global warming, and acid rain. Heart attacks, asthma, emphysema, strokes, multiple sclerosis, and developmental delays of children are the price paid for using aging coal burning facilities that are far more polluting than their newer counterparts. Airborne mercury from coal-fired energy plants that isn’t inhaled ends up falling on soil and bodies of water, polluting crops and, especially, fish (which bio-accumulate mercury prior to their being consumed as food). Mercury is the toxin responsible for 70 percent of all fish consumption advisories.
The use of solvents (e.g., toluene, acetone, isopropyl alcohol) in dry cleaning, nail salons, medical labs, and in garages and homes across America results in reduced or abnormal ability to smell, neurological symptoms, mucus membrane irritation, memory loss, and lowered IQ.

You don’t need to ingest or inhale a chemical for it to be absorbed and impact your health. The skin, our largest organ, is very efficient at absorbing toxins on contact.

The glues, paints, vinyl, plastics, and fabrics in new cars emit chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can trigger headaches, sore throats, nausea, and drowsiness. Older cars emit lower levels of chemicals but should be checked for mold that can produce mycotoxins, gaseous toxins that can profoundly disrupt immune function.

Petrochemicals used as fuels, in paints, and in cleaning products cause numerous health problems involving the digestive tract, skin, brain, and lungs.

You may hope that you can retreat to the safety of your home to escape this chemical soup. Unfortunately, energy efficient building techniques result in poor ventilation (fewer air exchanges per hour), in effect concentrating the chemicals found in buildings. Products used in decorating, furnishing, cleaning, and personal care also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Many homes, new and old alike, have structural problems that trap moisture, fostering toxic mold growth.

More than 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been invented since WWII, and their ability to disrupt biochemistry in all living things often surpasses the ability of any organism to adapt to them. Exposure to occupational, environmental, and household chemicals is and will continue to be a significant determinant of health risks. Though the adverse health effects from environmental chemical exposures, though immediately apparent to sensitized individuals, are just as often not obvious to the exposed person and may become apparent only after years or even decades of exposure.

You can learn about chemical pollutants in your area by entering your zip code at:

The next issue of Health Matters will discuss strategies for staying healthy in the midst of a complex chemical environment.

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