High blood pressure, the silent epidemic (Pt. 2)

Clinical studies on Dr. Rath’s cellular recommendations regarding high blood pressure

Scientific and clinical research have documented the value of these nutrients in normalizing high blood pressure. These cellular recommendations are based on the fact that millions of artery wall cells are supplied with cell fuel for optimum function.

Dr. Rath’s recommendations were tested in a clinical pilot study with 15 patients suffering from severe hypertension, age 32-69, for 32 weeks. They followed Dr. Rath’s recommendations as they continued their prescribed high blood pressure medications. At the beginning of the study the patients blood pressure was 167 over 97. Their blood pressure was taken every two weeks for the duration of the study. At the end of the study the patients’ blood pressure had dropped to 142 over 83, a 16% difference.

Other studies showed how each specific nutrient decreased the patients’ blood pressure. Vitamin C showed a drop in blood pressure of 5-10%, Coenzyme Q10 10-15%, magnesium 10-15% and arginine more than 10%.

Dr. Rath empasizes that with these nutrients the blood pressure never dropped to low levels, caused dizziness or other health problems, like is the case of overdosing with conventional medicine. (4)

Stress as a cause for hypertension

Stress will cause the body to run through nutrients a lot faster. Under stressful circumstances, it is even more important that the patient follows a high nutrient diet.

When we are under stress aldosterone levels raise. (8) Aldosterone is the major hormone maintaining both water balance and minerals in three places: the blood, the interstitial fluid (space between cells) and inside the cells. These minerals are some of the electrolytes and they are sodium, potassium magnesium and chloride. They are called electrolytes because they carry electrical charges.

Electrolytes are very important for proper cell function as we mentioned before. But to that we need to add that they are critical in maintaining fluid balance in the body. For this to occur, they must remain in a constant ratio to each other and to the body’s fluids. Small alterations in their ratios to each other or to their concentration in the body’s fluids will mean:

  1. Alterations in the properties of the fluids of the body
  2. Changes in the cell membrane
  3. Changes in the biochemical reactions within the cell
  4. Change in the physiological reactions in the body

All of which depend on this flow or concentration of electrolytes.

In the body, under normal circumstances, there is fluid inside the cell, fluid in the space between cells (interstitial fluid) and fluid in the blood, all these three have to be in balance and in the right ratio to one another. Together with water, we find potassium inside the cell, sodium in the space between cells and sodium in the blood. Aldosterone, because it is a very powerful hormone, can alter fluid volume and electrolyte ratio even in the smallest amounts, and this will increase blood pressure.

This is how it happens: As aldosterone rises, as is the case of stress, this hormone causes sodium to be pulled out of the cells’ interstitial fluid into the blood. Whenever sodium goes, so does water. This increased water volume in the blood is what raises blood pressure. It will show as water retention on the ankles even on the skin because aldosterone is also made in the skin.

Sodium and other minerals will then be excreted through the kidneys via urine. This loss of electrolytes will cause salt cravings. If you are on a low salt diet, the problem is exacerbated even more. James Wilson N.D., D.C., Ph. D. recommends to take kelp to replenish the sodium and potassium levels in the body. Kelp, he explains, contains both potassium and sodium in the right proportions in an easily assimilated form. The ‘Heart and Body Extract’ has kelp as one of its active ingredients which makes it a great way to replenish electrolytes when under stress.

Something that is important to understand about this condition is that under chronic stress, the body can become deficient in aldosterone and this will lead to the opposite effect, hypotension. This is what is called ‘adrenal fatigue’, which can cause dizziness, salt cravings, increased thirst, muscle weakness, decreased force of the heart’s contractions, irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness upon standing and lethargy. (8)

Ways to improve hypertension

Minimizing toxins coming from the diet, improving digestion like we have explained in previous blogs, especially digestion of fats, can keep the blood fluid and help the heart.

A supplement that can help accomplish this is the Gland Extract from the Healthy Hearts Club. The ingredients in the Gland Extract can help increase the absorption of nutrients and allow the body to have access to them. Among the ingredients in the Gland Extract you can find:

  1. Kelp, high in nutrients like iodine and potassium
  2. Horsetail grass, which helps the body utilize and hold calcium
  3. Digestive aids papaya and beet that help assimilate nutrients by assisting digestion and helping the bile system respectively
  4. Blood purifiers like red clover and chapparal, which cleanse the lymphatic system and the liver (9)

The ‘Heart and Body Extract’ also contains ingredients that help the digestive process and assist circulation. Namely garlic, ginger and cayenne. Mistletoe has been used to lower blood pressure and heart rate, it eases anxiety, and has been used as an herbal sleep aid. (10)

Moderate exercise will move the lymph and improve circulation. This is because lymph movement depends on muscle movement. Even a brisk walk can get muscles to put enough pressure on the lymphatic vessels to move things around. Sedentary lifestyle, on the contrary, will cause lymphatic congestion and will guarantee accumulation of toxins. And because there are large concentrations of lymph nodes and muscles next to the lungs, deep breathing will work to reduce lymph congestion too. As you breath deeply, these muscles move , moving the lymph. (7)

Concluding, high blood pressure does not have to be the silent mysterious condition it has been. We can keep it at bay by improving digestion, changing our eating habits, and getting some exercise. Products like the Heart and Body Extract and the Gland Extract can keep blood pressure stay at healthy levels.

Thank you for reading.

References:

(1) Ignarro, Louis J. No More Heart Disease: How Nitric Oxide Can Prevent – Even Reverse – Heart Disease and Strokes. Place of Publication Not Identified: Tdc, 2005. Print.

(2) Sinatra, Stephen T., James Roberts, and Martin Zucker. Reverse Heart Disease Now: Stop Deadly Cardiovascular Plaque before It’s Too Late. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2007. Print

(3) http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_319587.pdf

(4) Rath, Matthias. Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks– but People Do!: The Discovery That Will Eradicate Heart Disease: The Natural Prevention of Heart Attacks, Strokes, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and Many Other Cardiovascular Conditions. Santa Clara, CA: Dr. Rath Education Services USA, 2003. Print.

(5) Guyton, Arthur C., and John E. Hall. Textbook of Medical Physiology. 1104p.: Ill. (some Col.), n.d. Print.

(6) http://thetraumapro.com/2016/12/15/how-does-it-work-the-lowly-blood-pressure-cuff/

(7) http://pharmacistben.com/toxic/anti-hypertensive-drugs/

(8) Wilson, Jim. Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. Lanham: Smart Publications, 2010. Print.

(9) http://hhcextracts.com/

(10) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/mistletoe-herbs.html

High blood pressure, the silent epidemic (Pt. 1)

High blood pressure is considered ‘the single largest epidemic’ by many health care professionals (1) (2), and the most prevalent reason why people visit the doctor’s office (1). It is also significant that one third of individuals affected have no symptoms and don’t even know they have this condition. (2)

According to the ‘American Heart Association’, 1 out of every 3 people, or 78 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure. (3) 90% of these cases are considered ‘essential hypertension’ and the causes are unknown. However, many health care professionals, like Dr. Matthias Rath and Dr. Stephen Sinatra believe high blood pressure has been insufficiently understood, until now. And while causal factors like age, body weight, diet, heredity, kidney infection, and stress have always been considered the most probable causes, they assert there are other causes that have not received much attention. (2) (4)

High blood pressure if left untreated can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Stephen Sinatra asserts that it can conspire with other risk factors like smoking, oxidized LDL, and toxic metals, and “literally pound these toxins into the artery walls, weakening blood vessels at the bends and splits and accelerate the inflammatory-plaque cascade.” (2)

In previous blogs we looked at low thyroid as a cause for hypertension. In this blog, we will look at other reasons for high blood pressure. We will also see how the Gland Extract and the Heart and Body Extract can help.

 What is blood pressure?

 Blood pressure is defined as the ‘force the blood exerts against the walls of the arteries as it moves through the circulatory system’ (1). Any kind of resistance to this normal blood flow, like it is the case of constricted blood vessels, will increase blood pressure. On the contrary, “(when) arteries are relaxed and widened, blood flows more easily and blood pressure decreases.” (1)

Blood pressure is almost always measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). In this sense, when we say that the pressure is 140 mm Hg, for example, what it means is that the force exerted by the blood against the blood vessel is sufficient to push a column of mercury up to a level 140 mm high. Occasionally, pressure is measured in centimeters of water (cm H2O), which points to the pressure needed to raise a column of water to a height of 10 centimeters. 1 millimeter of mercury equals 1.36 cm H2O. (5).

Doctors used to have a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope to get manual blood pressure readings, but nowadays there are other methods to measure blood pressure that do not require so much work.

An automatic blood pressure device can be used to take blood pressure at home. “It consists of a cuff, tubing that connects it to the monitor, a pressure transducer in line with the tubing, a mini air pump, and a small computer. The transducer can “see” through the tubing and into the cuff.” (6)

With devices like this, anybody can have an instant reading of their blood pressure and monitor their progress with several readings.

There are two numbers that are taken when measuring blood pressure:

  1. The systolic pressure: it is the force on the arterial walls as the heart beats to pump out blood. This is when blood pressure is at its highest.
  2. The diastolic pressure: it is the pressure on the walls as the heart relaxes between beats and fills with blood.

Optimal blood pressure is considered to be under 120-80, normal 129-84, high normal 130-139 and hypertension 140-90 and up. (1)

High blood pressure is usually silent because there are no symptoms. However, this does not mean there is no damage being done internally. According to Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, Nobel Laureate in Medicine, chronic high blood pressure “can gradually lead to inflammation of the arteries, which is followed by arteriosclerosis and plaque formation. It can also enlarge the heart, trigger a heart attack or stroke and set the stage for kidney failure.” (1)

 Why pressure?

Benjamin Fuchs, R Ph explains that the body is a pressurized system powered via the rhythmical pumping action of the heart. This is the way nutrients and oxygen are distributed through the body, and cellswaste is detoxified.“From the heart, (nutrients and oxygen) enter into the large arteries, then travel into smaller and smaller vessels until they reach the tiniest capillaries which are in close contact with cells. And this is the ultimate goal of the ‘Journey of the Blood’: to reach a cell with nutrients and oxygen and then as it leaves on its return trip back to the heart, to drain away its wastes.”

We could say this is health in a nutshell. And it is essential to understand that each of the 100 trillion cells in our body depends on this free flow for nutrition, oxygenation and detoxification.

We also need to remember that the blood is a liquid organ, and as all liquids, it depends on pressure to move. To understand this, we could compare our heart and arterial system to a garden hose. If we wanted to reach far with our hose we would increase the pressure, wouldn’t we? In the body it is the force of blood flow (pressure) which is needed to “bathe and nourish cells and rinse away the cellular waste.” (7)

What causes high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is not a disease in itself, but the manifestation of more serious chronic health conditions (2). To treat high blood pressure successfully, we need to understand these underlying causes properly.

Using the same comparison we used before, let us now imagine our hose is full of dirt inside. Would the water flow as forcefully? Obviously not, because something is preventing the free flow of water. In the body, this could be caused by toxins present in the blood, blood clots, which would cause the blood to thicken, but also by damaged arteries, etc, which will also affect circulation and require extra pressure in order to ‘push through’.

In fact, a diagnosis of hypertension refers to “a resistance to blood flow”and “increased pressure in the blood vessel.”This means that under these conditions “it becomes harder and harder for blood to make it to its ultimate destination, the capillaries and the cells., which ironically means that this increase in pressure at the level of the blood vessels (where a blood pressure cuff works), is low pressure at the level of the capillaries and cells. And this is where it becomes a problem, because low blood pressure means less nutrient and oxygen delivery, and less detoxification of these cells. In other words, the high blood pressure caused by any kind of resistance in the flow of blood is also causing the pressure to be low at a cell level. (7)

One of the main reasons for these toxins and clots is a digestive system that is not processing food correctly and ultimately causing ‘leaky gut’, which exacerbates the problem even more by causing more toxins and undigested particles of food to end up in the blood. This is why digestion is so important for heart health. For a full explanation on this, please read our previous blogs on the digestive system.

The lymphatic and circulatory systems

Benjamin Fuchs explains that the lymphatic system, while often regarded as distinct from the circulatory system, is essentially one and the same. “There are just as many miles of lymphatic vessels as there are blood vessels. And they are connected. They are in essence one system. Both branch out from centralized large vessels into teeny tiny capillaries at which point nutrients are dropped into tissues and cells and then picked up again for a return trip. At this point, an uptake between systems takes place and what was in the blood becomes the lymph and what was in the lymph becomes the blood….The implications of the merging and unification of these two systems for blood pressure health is significant. It means that blood pressure actually depends on the fluidity and movement of two systems, not just one.”(7)

What is also important to understand about the lymph system is that it is the bodys waste disposal system, and while both the blood and the lymph are susceptible to toxins coming from the digestive system, the lymph is particularly vulnerable. “It’s the main port of egress for gross gunk that accumulates from bad living and eating.”(7)

What this means for hypertension is that when it comes to blood toxicity, the lymph is just as important as the circulatory system. Specifically, the lymphatic system is very prone to congestion from fat malabsorbtion. In addition to being a route for the elimination of toxins, it’s also a transport system for essential fatty acids (EFAs), fatty vitamins and other dietary fats. What this means is that proper digestion of fats is essential for healthy blood pressure.

Pharmacist Benjamin Fuchs also explains that pharmaceutical anti-hypertensives like beta blockers or calcium channel blocker drugs slow down the pump (the heart), lowering the pressure but reducing the flow to the already deprived cell. Likewise, vasodilators, which widen the vessels, and diuretics, which reduce the blood’s fluid content, also lower pressure at the level of a cell, leading to cellular starvation, suffocation and toxification, making the person even sicker.

Other causes for hypertension

Dr. Matthias Rath also points to chronic nutritional deficiencies as a major cause for high blood pressure. He explains that under circumstances of undernourishment, millions of artery cells lack the nutrients they need to relax blood vessels, causing spasms and a thickening of the blood vessel walls, which can ultimately elevate the pressure.

On the contrary, when blood vessels are relaxed, this decreases vascular wall tension and keeps blood pressure in the normal range.

The essential nutrients he is referring to are vitamin C, magnesium, arginine, and coenzyme Q10.

Arginine is a natural amino acid that provides the cells with nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes and decreases the tension of the artery walls and lowers elevated blood pressure, which increases the elasticity of the artery walls and helps to normalize blood pressure.

Vitamin C increases the production of prostacycline, a small molecule that relaxes the blood vessel walls and keeps blood viscosity at optimum levels. Bioflavonoids are catalysts which, among others, improve the efficacy of vitamin C.

Magnesium is calcium’s partner, it is essential for optimal mineral balance in the blood vessels’ wall cells, decreases tension and lowers elevated blood pressure.

Other nutrients that are essential are Vitamin E, the entire B complex, minerals, including calcium, potassium, phosphate, and trace elements including zinc, manganese, copper, selenium, chromium, and molybdenum.

Vitamin E provides antioxidant protection of cell membranes and blood components, calcium optimizes mineral metabolism, decreases tension of the artery walls and lowers elevated blood pressure.

Optimum mineral balance is necessary for the relaxation of the artery walls. Since arteriosclerosis is linked to high blood pressure, lysine and proline are needed to protect the artery walls and prevent the development of arteriosclerotic plaques.

 

The role of vitamin C in heart health (Pt. 2) 

The ‘Ultrafast Computed Tomography’ test 

The underlying problem in atherosclerosis is “the instability of the vascular wall, which triggers the development of atherosclerotic deposits.” (1)

Dr. Rath’s cellular health recommendations were put to the test using a new diagnostic technique known as ‘Ultrafast Computed Tomography’. UCT is a “Non-invasive test for coronary heart disease (that) measures the area and density of calcium deposits without the use of needles or radioactive dye.” High levels of accumulated calcium correlates with more advanced coronary heart disease.

Because it directly measures the deposits in the artery walls, UCT is the “most precise diagnostic technique available today to detect coronary heart disease already in its early stages, (and)…allows the detection of deposits in the coronary arteries long before a patients notices angina pectoris or other symptoms.” (1)

55 patients with different degrees of cardiovascular heart disease were studied, before and after Dr. Rath’s vitamin supplementation program. During the first six months of this study, the growth of coronary artery deposits was slowed down, and essentially stopped during the second six months.

This study was very significant because it measured for the first time how aggressive coronary heart disease progresses until eventually a heart attack occurs. It gave us invaluable information about the time it takes for a vitamin program to show a repair effect on the artery wall. This is remarkable taking into account that atherosclerotic deposits develop over many years or decades.

Without vitamin protection the coronary calcifications increased at a rapid rate, an average of 44% per year. Researches like this are a proof that a vitamin program, with the essential ingredients needed to start the natural healing process of the artery wall, are important.

According to the research of Dr. Rath, in patients with advanced coronary artery disease, a good supplement program can “stabilize the artery walls, halt the further growth of coronary deposits, reverse them, at least in part, and contribute to the prevention of heart attacks.” (1)

Clinical studies on vitamin supplementation 

Many clinical and epidemiological studies have documented the prevention of cardiovascular disease with vitamins. Dr. James Enstrom performed a government supported study showing that people who consumed at least 300 mg per day of vitamin C through their diet or in the form of supplements, could reduce their heart disease risk up to 50% in men and up to 40% in women. The same study showed that a higher intake of vitamin C was associated with an increased life expectancy of up to six years.

Dr. G.C. Willis did a study that showed how dietary vitamin C can reverse atherosclerosis. In this study, the patients that had received 1.5 grams of vitamin C per day for one year showed a 30% reduction of symptoms. The group of patients who had not received any vitamin C supplementation clearly had deposits that stayed the same or increased.

Optimum dietary intake of vitamin E, beta-carotene and other essential nutrients also significantly reduced cardio vascular disease risk in extensively documented researches: 200 IU of vitamin E per day was shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks by 34%, compared to the average intake of just 3 in the American population. What is more, 400-800 IU of vitamin E showed a reduction of 47% in non-fatal heart attacks. Similarly, just 50 mg per day of beta carotene was also shown to significantly decrease cardiovascular disease risk.

Another study showed that adequate levels of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid helped in lowering homocysteine levels and the risk of coronary heart disease.

A large scale study conducted by Dr. Sudhir Kurl and his colleagues at the University of Kuopio in Finland showed that optimum vitamin C intake is the single most important factor for preventing strokes in high blood pressure patients. This study was done over a 10 year period with more than 2,400 patients who were overweight and suffered from high blood pressure. This study showed that low levels of vitamin C increased the risk for a stroke by almost threefold.

In another 20-year study involving more than 2,000 patients over two decades, Dr. Tetsuji Yokoyama and his colleagues from the University of Tokyo in Japan showed that optimum vitamin C intake is the single most important factor for preventing all forms of strokes in men and women.

Dr. Rath’s cellular health recommendations for patients with coronary heart disease 

For patients with existing coronary heart disease or a high risk for this condition Dr. Rath’s recommendations consist on the following cellular micronutrients in high doses:

Vitamin C: Provides protection and assists in healing the artery wall and helps reverse plaques

Vitamin E: Antioxidant protection

Vitamin D: Optimizes calcium metabolism and the reversal of calcium deposits in the artery wall

Folic acid: Provides a protective function against increased homocysteine levels together with B6, vitamin b12 and biotin

Biotin: Provides a protective function against increased homocysteine levels together with vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid

Copper: Supports stability of the artery wall with the improved cross-linking of collagen molecules

Proline: Supports collagen production, stability of the artery wall and reversal of plaques

Lysine: Supports collagen production, stability of the artery wall and reversal of plaques

Chondroiton sulfate: Supports the stability of the artery wall as a ‘cement’ for connective tissue

N-acetyl-glucosamine: Supports the stability of the artery wall as a cement for connective tissue

Pycnogenol: Acts as a biocatalyst for better vitamin C function and improved stability of the artery wall

The proof: vitamin C deficiency causes atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease 

To prove this Dr. Rath conducted an experiment with guinea pigs, which are one of the few animals in the animal kingdom that are unable to manufacture vitamin C. Two groups of guinea pigs received exactly the same daily amounts of cholesterol, fats, proteins, sugars, salt, etc, except vitamin C. Group B received 60 mg of vitamin C per day, compared to human body weight. Group A received 5,000 mg of vitamin C per day. After only 5 weeks the vitamin C deficient animal in group B developed atherosclerotic deposits particularly in the areas close to the heart. The aortas of the animals in group A remained healthy and did not show any deposits, showing an intact cell barrier between the bloodstream and artery wall. The arteries of the vitamin C deficient animals lost the protection and stability of their arteries showing a fragmented collagen structure.

Another confirmation of the vitamin C-cardiovascular disease connection was published by a research team from the University of N. Carolina in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ in 2000. Researchers examined the arteries of normal mice and found they did not have atherosclerosis, which is expected because these animals make their own vitamin C. These researchers then shut down the gene that is responsible for converting glucose into vitamin C in the livers of these animals. They also changed their diets where the animals did not receive any vitamin C. As a result, the animals developed lesions and cracks, and cholesterol levels rose in order to repair the artery wall weaknesses caused by weakened arteries. According to Dr. Rath, this experiment confirmed two important facts in coronary artery disease:

  1. Vitamin C deficiency is a primary cause of heart disease
  2. High cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, but the consequence

A new understanding of the nature of heart disease 

With these experiments, Dr. Rath redefines heart disease as a vitamin deficiency condition. In this light, lesions are considered the end result of an instability and dysfunction of the blood vessel wall caused by chronic vitamin deficiency that leads to millions of small lesions and cracks in the artery walls. This is especially the case of the coronary arteries because of the constant pumping of the heart.

Once the weakness in the artery walls starts, repair is initiated by cholesterol and other repair factors that are produced in the liver, and transported in the bloodstream to the artery walls. This repair mechanism is an ongoing process that compensates the unavailability of vitamin C in the diet.

The natural reversal of cardiovascular disease 

Dr. Rath has observed that “around the core of the plaque, a local ‘tumor’ forms from muscle cells typical in the artery wall” (1). This muscle cell tumor is another way in which the body stabilizes the vitamin deprived artery wall. The deposit of lipoproteins from the bloodstream and the muscle cell tumor in the artery wall are the most important factors that determine the size of the plaque and thereby the progression of coronary heart disease.

The main idea behind reversing atherosclerosis is to start the healing process in the artery wall that has been weakened by chronic vitamin deficiencies. Besides vitamin C, which stimulates production of collagen molecules, other nutrients that Dr. Rath recommends for optimum collagen production are lysine, proline, vitamin E (to halt the cell overgrowth around plaque), beta-carotene and selenium (for anti-oxidant protection of the artery wall).

Dr. Rath explains that for a protocol to work it has to support optimum collagen production. “The collagen molecules in our bodies are proteins composed of amino acids. Collagen molecules differ from all other proteins in the body in that they make particular use of the amino acids lysine and proline”. Thus, together with vitamin C the arteries need proline, and lysine for the optimum regeneration of the connective tissue in the artery walls, and therefore the natural healing of cardiovascular disease.

With an optimum supply of essential nutrients the smooth muscle cells of artery wall produce sufficient amounts of functional collagen guaranteeing optimum stability of the wall. On the contrary, vitamin deficiency leads to the production of faulty and dysfunctional collagen molecules by the arterial muscle cells. These muscle cells multiply to form an atherosclerotic tumor. Vitamin C and E can inhibit the growth of this atherosclerotic tumor.

How the “Heart and Body Extract” can help your heart 

Each of the ingredients in the “Heart and Body Extract” has been carefully selected to optimize heart function. Let us look at each ingredient individually.

Cayenne has been described by some herbalists and physicians as the catalyst herb, because it increases the effectiveness of other herbs. Cayenne is considered the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom, not only for the heart and circulatory system, but also for the entire digestive system. It is a very high source of Vitamins A, C and the complete B complex while being rich in organic calcium and potassium, which is one of the reasons it has been suggested for the heart. It also helps in the absorption of vitamins and prescription medicines.

In addition to its ability to stimulate the circulatory and digestive systems, it has a tonic and antiseptic affect, increasing perspiration, thus eliminating toxins through the skin.

Cayenne is helpful in stopping heart attacks, regulating blood pressure, and nourishing the heart cells. Also, the herb has been found useful for providing protection to the stomach lining from aspirin. (2)

Garlic has been extensively researched for heart disease. It has been found very helpful for lowering cholesterol, and numerous large studies have shown that taking supplements that mimic fresh garlic can significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels without hurting beneficial HDL cholesterol levels. Garlic appears to do this by blocking the liver from making too much LDL cholesterol.

There is also some suggestion that garlic can help in lowering blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels. Researchers are finding that it can help to prevent blood clots and therefore reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. (3)

Hawthorne is high in vitamin C, pectin and other substances. Therefore, it is primarily used to treat the heart’s blood vessels. It has been shown to have a mild but positive effect blood circulation. Hawthorn is thought to be particularly useful in the early stages of heart failure, such as heart failure followed by respiratory ailments and poor peripheral circulation and tendency to develop edema. In these cases, hawthorn can be used with supplemental coenzyme Q10. Hawthorn may delay the development of more serious heart disease and delay the need for stronger heart medications. Several double blind tests have shown that patients with early stages of cardiovascular disorders have increased physical endurance and improved cardiac function (as measured by ECG) after using standardized hawthorn extracts for few weeks. Hawthorne is thought to promote blood flow in the vessels around the heart, increase metabolism in the heart muscle, making the heart work more efficiently and to increase cardiac muscle tolerance due to lack of oxygen.

In cases of decreased ability to pump enough blood, usually caused by prolonged high blood pressure, previous heart attacks, diseases related to the heart valves or heart muscle, or chronic lung diseases such as asthma or emphysema, hawthorne is thought to help with the general weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath common to heart failure.

Hawthorn is also believed to improve circulation in the arms and legs by reducing resistance in the arteries. This is partly due to its ability to inhibit a substance in the body known as ‘angiotensin-converting enzyme’ (ACE). ACE is related to the formation of angiotensin II, a substance that has strong astringent effect on the blood vessels.

Hawthorn has sometimes been used to normalize blood pressure, not only to treat high blood pressure but to increase blood pressure that is too low. The herb can be prescribed in order to slightly elevate blood pressure and to treat cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), especially in the elderly. It may also be used as a treatment for hypertension caused by arteriosclerosis, or kidney disease. In addition, hawthorn has a secondary action as a diuretic, a common symptom of heart failure.

Hawthorn can be used to treat or prevent ‘angina pectoris’, the chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen. A study conducted in 1983 showed the applicability of hawthorn extract to treat patients with this condition. 60 patients were given either 180 mg extract or placebo daily for three weeks. The patients who took hawthorn could train for longer periods without suffering from angina attacks. ECGs showed better blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart in these patients than in those receiving a placebo.

Hawthorn can be used together with garlic as a remedy for angina and reduced blood circulation. Coenzyme Q10 can also be used with hawthorn.

Hawthorn acts by dilating the blood vessels and helping improve blood transport to all parts of the body.

The herb also seems to have dampening effect on atherosclerosis, and it can be useful for people who struggle with confusion and poor memory caused by reduced blood supply to the brain.

Since hawthorn is believed to have a good effect on the capillaries in the body, it may be useful for those who bruise easily. However, the herb has to be used for at least 3-4 weeks before any reduction in the formation of bruises can be seen. (4)

Coleus forskohlii is a popular herb for angina. It increases stroke volume, which is the amount of blood pumped in each heart beat, and reduces the risk of blood clots. In addition, the herb lowers high blood pressure by relaxing the arterial walls.

Indian and Chinese studies in the last two years have isolated a number of diterpenoids in the stem and leaves of coleus forskohlii with a focus on treatment of gastric cancer and preventing metastatic (secondary) cancers. These have been carried out on animal models with considerable success. (5)

Motherwort has been for centuries as a medicinal plant to treat hypertension. The herb has diuretic properties and may inhibit artery calcification formation.

It is also used as a remedy for milder forms of Graves’ disease (an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid). The German Commission E states that motherwort can be used for irregularities related to the heart caused by over stimulation of the thyroid gland (Hyperthyroidism / thyrotoxicosis).

Motherwort is considered more effective in lowering blood pressure than valerian, and the plant’s high content of vitamins A and C also add to its beneficial effect.

Extracts of the plant have been used as treatment for mild and chronic cardiac and vascular diseases, especially in the elderly.

It has also been used for rapid heart rate, some other minor irregularities in the heart’s rhythm and to reduce the risk of blood clots (thrombosis).

Many herbalists consider the plant particularly effective in treating palpitations (tachycardia), especially when this is due to anxiety. The herb has been used traditionally for most heart related problems associated with anxiety, tension and stress.

A lot of research has been done on this herb, especially in the Western world, where the traditional use of both the European and Chinese species of motherwort as a treatment for heart related disorders has been extensive. In one case, Chinese scientists found that the herb, or extracts from it, increased the volume of blood circulation, stimulated uterine activity and promoted the flow of urine.

Other recently performed studies indicate that the herb has antioxidant, immune-boosting and cancer protective properties and one study done on laboratory animals has indicated that certain alkaloids found in the herb can lower blood pressure and have positive effect on the central nervous system. (6)

Bilberry is another great addition to the “Heart and Body Extract”. The use of bilberry as a medicinal herb goes back all the way to the 16th century. The berries contain pectin, quercetin, A, B, and C vitamins which makes it a natural antioxidant, lowering blood pressure, reducing clotting and improving blood supply to the nervous system. The leaves contain the trace mineral manganese and other compounds.

Bilberry can be used as a supportive treatment for diabetes, both because the berries reduce blood sugar and because they can prevent eye diseases and blood vessel disorders that can accompany diabetes. This effect is probably due to the flavonoid quercetin which is the main active ingredient in the herb. Quercetin inhibits an enzyme called ‘aldose reductase’. The enzyme is normally found in the eye and several other body parts and converts sorbitol to glucosel. If the sorbitol levels become too high in the eyes or nerves, they can cause retinopathy (disease of the retina) and nerve damage. Many people with diabetes use an aldose reductase inhibitor to prevent eye problems related to the disease.

Bilberry is used to help address vascular and blood disorders, varicose veins, thrombosis, hemorrhoids and as an herbal treatment for angina. It can also help to prevent capillary fragility and thin the blood.

Bilberry is used traditionally as a natural remedy for kidney stones, scurvy and urinary infections. (7)

Butcher’s broom is generally used as an anti-inflammatory, to improve blood circulation, and to ameliorate water retention discomfort. This medicinal herb is believed to tighten the veins of the circulatory system and fortify the walls of capillary vessels.

Its high flavonoid content, such as rutin, improves the flow of blood to the brain, hands, and legs, and acts to reduce the blood clotting and post-surgical thrombosis.

The use of this medicinal herb as a tonic was recorded in the manuscripts of ancient Greeks. However, only after 1950s, the medical properties of this herb have been spread to the West. In the 1970s, Europe affirmed the extending popularity of the herbal remedies in the modern medicine. Now, the modern herbal medical practitioners commonly use the leaves of the plant as an anti-inflammatory agent and circulatory tonic for a variety of vascular disorders.

Because of its mild diuretic action, butcher’s broom acts as herbal remedy for reducing swelling of the legs, and it seems to be useful in the treatment of phlebitis and natural treatment for varicose veins.

Some herbalists recommend the use of butcher’s broom for the treatment and prevention of a variety of ailments such as atherosclerosis and chronic venous insufficiency. (8)

Mistletoe has been used by herbal practitioners as a treatment for urinary disorders, heart disease, and other symptoms arising from a weakened or disordered state of the nervous system. Mistletoe has been used to lower blood pressure and heart rate, ease anxiety, and as an herbal sleep aid. (9)

Ginger has been used for digestive health to treat common gastrointestinal complaints such as indigestion and heartburn, but heart health is another of its benefits. It has been shown to slow the production of LDL and triglycerides in the liver and prevent the clotting and aggregation of platelets in the blood vessels, associated with atherosclerosis and blood clots. (10)

Concluding, the role of nutrition in heart health has been extensively researched. Because of the great workload the heart is subjected to, it is the most vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies. Key nutrients like Vitamin C can keep the heart arteries strong and resilient.

Get the ‘pump’ your heart needs by starting a supplemental program, like the “Heart and Body Extract”

Thank you for reading.

References:

(1) Rath, Matthias. Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks– but People Do!: The Discovery That Will Eradicate Heart Disease: The Natural Prevention of Heart Attacks, Strokes, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and Many Other Cardiovascular Conditions. Santa Clara, CA: Dr. Rath Education Services USA, 2003. Print.

(2) http://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/cayenne-pepper-herb.htmlhttp://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/cayenne-pepper-herb.html

(3) http://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/garlic-herb.htmlhttp://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/garlic-herb.html

(4) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/hawthorn-tree.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/hawthorn-tree.html

(5) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/coleus-forskohlii.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/coleus-forskohlii.html

(6) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/motherwort-benefits.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/motherwort-benefits.html

(7) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/bilberry-herb.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/bilberry-herb.html

(8) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/butchers-broom-herb.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/butchers-broom-herb.html

(9) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/mistletoe-herbs.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/mistletoe-herbs.html

(10) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/ginger-root.html

The role of vitamin C in heart health (Pt. 1)

Almost everybody has heard of vitamin C, but how many are aware of the key role this vitamin has in heart health? Out of a ‘blood vessel pipeline system’ that measures an astounding 60,000 miles, the arteries of the heart are the ones that suffer the most ‘wear and tear’ in the body. Taking into account that the heart beats more than 100,000 times a day, it is understandable that the coronary arteries are the most stressed in the body. It is also the reason why they are the most vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies. To quote Dr. Matthias Rath, “Your body is as old as your cardiovascular system, and optimizing your cardiovascular health adds years to your life.” (1)

In what follows we will look at how vitamin C can be crucial to the health of our heart. We will learn why Dr. Rath asserts that vitamin C deficiency is a primary cause of heart disease, and learn why supplementation with this vitamin can be crucial. We will also look at the nutritional content of the “Heart and Body Extract”.

The mighty artery 

It is said that a chain is as strong as its weakest link… In order to withstand the constant pressure the pumping action of the heart puts the coronary arteries under, the arteries have to stay strong and resilient. This is accomplished by the collagen fibers each artery is composed of. These fibers are key to the strength of the arteries.

According to Dr. Rath, when looked under a powerful microscope, each of the collagen fibers comprising our arteries looks like an iron bar. Actually, each collagen fiber “is stronger than an iron wire of comparable width.” (1)

Vitamin C is like cement for the artery wall 

Vitamin C is directly related to the resilience of this body tissue and, as a consequence, helps in many ways in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: heart attacks, strokes and atherosclerosis. For one, vitamin C encourages the production of collagen, elastin and other reinforcement molecules. These biological reinforcement rods constitute the body’s connective tissue, which comprises approximately 50% of all the proteins in our bodies. Increased production of collagen means improved stability for the 60,000 mile long pipeline of our arteries, veins and capillaries. For this reason, vitamin C is considered to be like cement to the artery walls. Optimal amounts of vitamin C are necessary.

In addition, vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that serves as a co-factor in many biochemical reactions in the body’s cells.

When vitamin C stores are depleted in the body, a gradual breakdown of the body’s connective tissue, including blood vessel walls, starts. This causes “leaky blood vessel walls” which Dr. Rath refers to as “arterial scurvy”, and this is in his opinion “the main cause for heart attacks and strokes.” (1)

The average diet contains enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy but not enough to guarantee stable reinforced artery walls. As a consequence, hundreds of tiny cracks and lesions develop along the artery walls.

From tiny cracks to atherosclerotic plaques 

The main cause of atherosclerosis is the biological weakness of the artery walls caused by chronic vitamin deficiency; they develop as a compensatory stabilizing force to strengthen an already weakened blood vessel wall. Once the artery wall is weakened by vitamin C deficiency, it begins to form little cracks. The body then mobilizes its repair mechanisms: cholesterol and other millions of fat particles (lipoproteins) enter the damaged area in order to start repair. These are deposited in the artery wall by means of biological “adhesives”, which eventually lead to atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerotic deposits in coronary arteries reduce the blood flow and impair oxygen and nutrient supply to millions of heart muscle cells. The coronary arteries of patients with angina pectoris typically look completely blocked. Heart attacks can occur when a blood clot forms on top of the atherosclerotic deposit interrupting the blood flow through the artery. Millions of heart muscle cells die, impairing the heart muscle and causing death. If the deposits are in the arteries of brain, it can lead to strokes.

Atherosclerotic deposits usually develop over many years, this is why Dr. Rath recommends to start prevention as early as possible. Atherosclerosis is not a disease caused by age though; studies of soldiers in the Korean and Vietnam wars aged 25 or younger showed atherosclerotic deposits.

The role of nutrition 

Together with vitamin C, natural “teflon” agents neutralize these adhesive particles. These are the natural amino acids lysine and proline. These two amino acids become even more effective in combination with other vitamins. This is why a complete vitamin based program is necessary for the cells of the artery walls to initiate the healing process. According to Dr. Matthias Rath, these micronutrients provide essential bioenergy for millions of cells composing the cardiovascular system.” (1)

Cellular Medicine, a new understanding of health and disease 

Cellular medicine looks at cardiovascular health and disease as it regards the millions of cells that comprise the organ we call the heart. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can keep the heart cells starving and therefore unable to do their job. Cellular medicine takes into consideration the following:

Cells of the blood vessel walls: Known as ‘endothelial cells’, they form a protective barrier between the blood and the blood vessel wall. They also contribute to a number of metabolic functions such as optimum blood viscosity. The smooth muscle cells produce collagen and other reinforcement molecules, providing optimum stability and tone to the blood vessel walls.

Deposits and spasms of the blood vessel walls are the causes of high blood pressure. Dietary supplementation of magnesium and vitamin C relaxes the blood vessel walls and normalizes blood pressure. The amino acid arginine can also be beneficial for these cells.

Blood cells: The millions of cells circulating in our blood are responsible for transporting oxygen, wound healing and many other functions.

Cells of the heart muscle: The heart muscle pumps so circulation can be possible. A subtype of heart muscle cells is responsible for conducting electricity for each heartbeat.

The millions of muscle cells need fuel for optimum performance: carnitine, coenzyme Q10, B vitamins, etc will optimize the pumping performance of the heart and contribute to a regular heartbeat.

Nutrition for the cell 

Since the cardiovascular system is the most active organ system of our bodies, it has the highest consumption of essential nutrients. This means that all the millions of cells we just mentioned need nutrition in order to do their job. Long-term deficiency of vitamins and other essential nutrients in millions of vascular wall cells impairs the function of the blood vessels walls. The result is high blood pressure and development of atherosclerotic deposits which lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Vitamin deficiencies in artery wall cells can lead to:

Increased artery wall tension

Narrowing of artery diameter

Thickening of artery walls and high blood pressure

Instability of artery wall

Lesion and cracks

Atherosclerotic deposits, heart attacks and strokes

Vitamin deficiency in millions of heart cells can contribute to irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and heart failure (shortness of breath, edema and fatigue)

Nutrition is the main source of fuel for these hard working heart cells because our body cannot produce it. Dr. Rath cellular nutrition recommendations comprise more than 30 vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace elements at optimal levels. These recommendations are for everybody of any age but those with advanced health problems such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure etc require higher doses.

Why animals don’t get heart attacks 

It is a known fact that in the animal kingdom none of the domestic species, with some rare exceptions, develop atherosclerosis. The explanation according to Dr. Rath is that animals produce their own vitamin C. Their body reservoir is 10-100 higher than that of humans so they can produce between 1,000 and 20,000 mg of vitamin C a day.

We human beings cannot manufacture a single molecule of vitamin C. As opposed to animals, the human body lacks the enzyme that is needed to convert sugar molecules (glucose) into vitamin C. The inevitable consequence is that unless we get this nutrient from the diet, we will be deficient. Our ancestors had a rich plant diet that provided the daily minimum of vitamins and minerals. However, we have moved far away from that and our diet has become highly processed. Our food is also usually overcooked, which destroys most vitamins, minerals and enzymes. All this has led to our present disease state.

References:

(1) Rath, Matthias. Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks– but People Do!: The Discovery That Will Eradicate Heart Disease: The Natural Prevention of Heart Attacks, Strokes, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and Many Other Cardiovascular Conditions. Santa Clara, CA: Dr. Rath Education Services USA, 2003. Print.

Low thyroid: the unsuspected cause of heart disease (Pt. 4)

According to Tom Brimeyer M.S., in order to properly address hypothyroidism, one must address all facets of thyroid health and the thyroid hormone pathway. This includes several steps, which he explains are:

  1. Addressing the ENTIRE thyroid hormone pathway:

The intricate thyroid hormone pathway we explained before has to be taken into account. The key is not in how much thyroid hormone the thyroid gland can produce or how much thyroid hormone we supplement with, because if a problem develops anywhere along this pathway, the cells will not effectively utilize that thyroid hormone and hypothyroidism will remain.

In his opinion, the underlying causes of hypothyroidism have to be addressed and this means all the many steps of this hormone pathway down to the cell level, including the cell hormone receptors themselves.

  1. Addressing the diet:

Diet plays an extremely important role in the health of the thyroid. “It’s well known in science and human physiology that cells and organs require specific nutrients that we extract from our food in order to function properly.” (4) A good example is the liver. Simply missing certain key ingredients in our diet can inhibit our liver’s ability to convert T4 to T3 that our cells need and will quickly contribute to hypothyroidism. When our liver doesn’t get enough active T3 thyroid hormone it quickly becomes sluggish and congested, which further impairs T4 conversion.

This step also includes removing any food that is causing a reaction in the body (12).

  1. Addressing other hormones that directly affect thyroid function:

Most hypothyroidism sufferers make too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which inhibits the conversion of T4 into T3.  But stress hormones are just some of the hormones that need to be properly balanced in order to truly heal and rebalance our thyroid.  All the different hormones that directly affect thyroid function have to be balanced.

Seven simple steps to overcome low thyroid function

Dr. Brimeyer recommends following a program with seven simple steps to start healing your thyroid.

Step 1. Balance Your Estrogen Levels

Excessive estrogen levels are also becoming an epidemic health problem, according to Dr. Brimeyer.

Estrogen is a very obvious problem in women during menopause when progesterone levels naturally drop, in women on birth control or hormone replacement therapy. But it is becoming a problem for men too, not only because they also have estrogen in their bodies, but because of all the many different sources of estrogens present in food (soy, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides), plastics, etc.

Estrogen’s role in hypothyroidism has been well documented. Estrogen directly affects the thyroid gland by inhibiting its ability to secrete thyroid hormone. Regulating estrogen levels is imperative to truly heal the thyroid.

When estrogen becomes predominant there is not enough progesterone to balance estrogen out. Please check our blog titled ‘Heart disease in women’ to learn how the mistletoe in the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ can help balance estrogen levels.

Step 2. Manage your stress hormones

The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol inhibit the conversion of T4 to T3. They also increase production of Reverse T3, which blocks the body from properly using thyroid hormone. Both of these effects cause hypothyroidism.

As a survival mechanism, under stress, our body naturally down regulates the thyroid in order to conserve energy.

Another problem with the stress hormone adrenaline is that it forces our body to increase the concentration of free fatty acids in our bloodstream. Because most people have large concentrations of polyunsaturated fats in their fat cells, when these fats are forced into the bloodstream they block thyroid hormone from reaching the cells.

In addition, in order to reduce stress hormones it is imperative to balance blood sugar levels. This will keep cortisol, from breaking down protein from our muscles in order to raise blood sugar when it drops too low.

Lastly, it’s important to balance sodium levels, because under conditions of hypothyroidism the body will lose this mineral easily, which will drive adrenaline up. Just adding enough salt to the diet can help.

Please check our blog titled “Stress” to learn more on managing stress.

Step 3. Restore your liver function

Approximately 2/3 of the active thyroid hormone T3 that our body uses is converted from T4 by our liver. Liver congestion can keep this conversion from happening causing hypothyroidism. When this happens T4 tends to accumulate in the body, which slows thyroid production, perpetuating hypothyroidism even more.

Another problem that occurs with a congested liver is that it loses its ability to properly store sugar. It is this stored sugar in the liver that plays an important role in helping us maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day, starting the stress reaction we mentioned before and once again, causing hypothyroidism.

For more information on how to keep the liver healthy, please check our blogs on liver health.

Step 4. Eat the right proteins

Protein intake is an important part of a healthy diet. We should consume at least 70 to 100 grams of high quality protein per day. Dr. Brimeyer recommends bone broth for its anti-inflammatory properties and for being a good source of amino acids.

Step 5. Balance your blood sugar

Low blood sugar both decreases the conversion of T4 to active T3 in your liver and it signals the body to increase production of the stress hormone cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue in order to keep blood sugar from dropping to dangerously low levels.

Step 6. Avoid polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats are especially problematic for the thyroid because they block the enzymes that signal the thyroid gland to release its hormones. When these fats enter the bloodstream, they also block the active thyroid hormone within the bloodstream from being transported to the cells that desperately need it. They also block cells from properly responding to the thyroid hormone that they do get, which makes the hormone much less effective to cells.

Healthy fats for the thyroid are coconut oil and butter. These saturated fats promote healthy thyroid function and increase the cells’ response to thyroid hormone. They can also cancel out the negative effects of polyunsaturated fats.

Please check our blog on fats for more information.

Step 7. Stop Over-Exercising

Too much exercise or very intense exercise can stop our body from producing T3 even long after exercise.

However, there are some extremely beneficial forms of exercise for hypothyroidism that naturally promote your thyroid and the body’s hormonal health. One example is Tai Chi.

For anyone struggling with signs or symptoms of heart disease, autoimmune issues, fatigue, depression, digestive issues, food allergies, etc., Dr. Brimeyer recommends to stop treating them like they are separate problems and start understanding that hypothyroidism plays a big role in each and every one of them. Healing your thyroid and rebuilding your health from the ground up can be a complex process that requires careful planning, but going directly to the source and correcting the underlying causes will assure we are successful in doing so (4).

Testing your thyroid at home

Under normal circumstances, the amount of heat produced in the body depends on the amount of fuel (food) burned, but with low thyroid hormone, burning of fuel is not possible. Some of the earliest studies in hypothyroid patients showed that they had temperatures below normal. In his early years of practice, Dr. Broda Barnes started to instruct his patients to take their temperature upon awakening, before getting out of bed. He established the ‘basal body temperature test’ as a reliable simple test patients could do at home. Just by increasing their temperature with thyroid therapy, he was able to set straight erroneous diagnoses, lower their blood pressure and decrease heart palpitations and fast pulse.

However, this simple technique of measuring basal body temperature as a guide to determining thyroid function did not appeal to the medical profession. Despite this, axillary or underarm temperature has been used for several decades and, based on thousands of readings, it has been established that normal values for underarm temperature are in the range of 97.8 to 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature below 97.8 indicates hypothyroidism, above 98.2, hyperthyroidism. As low temperature rises with thyroid treatment the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism usually disappear (1).

The basal temperature is not a perfect test for thyroid function, because other conditions aside from hypothyroidism can give a low reading: starvation, pituitary gland deficiency or adrenal gland deficiency, but these are easier to diagnose (1).

Taking the test

The basal temperature can be taken by any man any day of the week. Women during their menstrual years see a fluctuation of the temperature during their cycle so it is best measured the 2nd or 3rd day of the period after flow starts according to Dr. Barns. After menopause, it can be taken any day.

The procedure consists of taking one’s temperature immediately upon awakening in the morning. A reading below the normal range of 97.8 to 98.2 strongly suggests low thyroid function. A reading above that is suspicious of some infection or overactive thyroid gland.

Dr. Broda Barnes did not address auto-immune thyroid disease since obviously it was not prevalent back then, but much is being researched today and new ways to help our thyroid are being successfully used. Dr. Brimeyer, for example, has been able to use Dr. Barnes’ temperature test with his patients and has found that adding a pulse test provides very insightful information. He recommends taking one’s temperature and pulse always at rest, 20 minutes after a meal, three times a day: right upon waking, after breakfast and in the afternoon around 3 p.m.

Other ways to help our thyroid

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is a very important part of healing our thyroid. One food that has been found to be very helpful is ginger. According to Dr. Jockers, ginger can be used for its anti- inflammation properties just like aspirin and ibuprofen. “Ginger is a digestive stimulant that promotes gastric flow and contains enzymes which aid in proper digestion… can be used to treat pain associated with intestinal inflammation by relieving contractions of the gut lining. Individuals with leaky gut are likely to have an unhealthy balance of bacteria in their gut resulting from toxic foods and gut inflammation. Ginger exhibits powerful antimicrobial and natural antibiotic properties as well… ginger has been extensively found to combat strains of bacteria linked to leaky gut. Unlike synthetic antibiotics, ginger has been effective against both standard and drug resistant microbes in treating gastrointestinal infection.” (13) You can find ginger as an active ingredient in the “Heart and Body Extract”.

Other nutrients are beet root and papaya, which can also be found in the “Gland Extract”. Beets are a highly nutritious root that contains vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, magnesium, folate, soluble fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. Beets help lower blood pressure, prevent inflammation, help with gut motility and help detoxify the liver and the blood (14).

The “Gland Extract” also contains fo-ti-tieng, which nourishes the glands, and contains kelp and watercress.

Other things to consider

Dr. Jockers stresses that low vitamin D3 is associated with thyroid disorders and should be addressed.  Vitamin D levels play a very important role in immune regulation, calming down autoimmunity and keeping inflammation levels under control.

Also, both iron and B12 deficiency are a common finding with thyroid disorders. He recommends a complete blood count as well. This will look in detail at red blood cell counts, iron stores and white blood cell levels, as well as liver function, kidney health, digestive health and blood sugar regulation.

A ‘C Reactive Protein’ (CRP) reveals the inflammatory status of the body. This is important because increased inflammation impedes the T4-T3 conversion (7).

Similarly, lowered magnesium is a common deficiency and will also affect thyroid function (10). It is also very important for blood sugar stability and healthy adrenal-pituitary and hypothalamic function. A magnesium deficiency can lead to chronic inflammation and increased pituitary gland stress that alters proper TSH production (7).

Concluding, thyroid health has a very strong link to the health of the rest of the body, and more importantly, the heart. Iodine supplementation is a key part of thyroid function. In the case of auto-immunity, addressing the diet is a crucial aspect in resolving thyroid conditions.

References:

(7) http://drjockers.com/how-to-properly-test-thyroid-function

(12) http://theglutensummit.com/team/tom-obryan/

 

Low thyroid, the unsuspected cause of heart disease (Pt. 3)

An underactive thyroid can affect every cell in the body and be a major contributor to degenerative diseases (1). In previous blogs we looked at hypothyroidism caused by nutritional deficiencies. We saw how the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ and the ‘Gland Extract’ can help the thyroid because they contain iodine, a key nutrient for all the glands. We looked at Dr. Broda Barnes’ research on the link between low thyroid and heart disease.

While hypothyroidism was not very prevalent when Dr. Barnes was doing his research, he already observed this condition was on the rise in the American population. What accounted for the increase in thyroid disease, according to Dr. Barns, was the introduction of antibiotics around 1945, which allowed millions of hypothyroid children to live long enough to reproduce and pass on their low thyroid to their children. Included in this group were those with heart disease and perhaps other major degenerative diseases.

The major problem with why hypothyroidism remained prevalent, according to Dr. Barns, was that it was still widely unrecognized (1). Today, hypothyroidism is one of the fastest rising health conditions in the US. An estimated 27 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, women being five to eight times more likely than men to develop the disease. Despite this, hypothyroidism still remains unrecognized, misunderstood and undiagnosed, with up to 60% of thyroid disease sufferers not being aware of their condition (2).

New evidence points to the fact that thyroid disorders should be taken more seriously, especially when it comes to how low thyroid affects heart health:

“Hypothyroid patients have increased diastolic blood pressure…, (and) altered lipid profileHomocysteine, C-reactive protein, increased arterial stiffness, endothelial dysfunction and altered coagulation parameters have been recognized as “new” risk factors for atherosclerosis in patients with thyroid hormone deficiency. The plasma total homocysteine concentration, an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis, is moderately elevated in overtly hypothyroid patients and it decreases with thyroid replacement therapy.” (3)

Something that makes thyroid disorders hard to address is the fact that they rarely affect only the thyroid. In the majority of cases, thyroid disorders involve a myriad of different imbalances, all of which have to be addressed before the thyroid to heal.

In what follows we will look at what other factors, apart from iodine deficiency, affect the health of our thyroid. We will learn about the thyroid’s ‘chain of command’, what the most prevalent type of thyroid disease is and what we can do to start taking care of our thyroid.
What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is located within the neck, just below the trachea. It is not to be confused with the parathyroid, located on the thyroid too, whose function is to release hormones that control calcium and other minerals within the blood.

The thyroid’s main function is to produce the hormones known as T3 (tri-iodothyronine) and its pro-hormone T4 (thyroxine). Both of these hormones are tyrosine-based hormones and are partially composed of iodine; however T4 has four iodine molecules, while T3 has three. Also, T4 is much more abundantly produced in the thyroid than T3 and is consequently much more abundantly released in the bloodstream than T3, at a ratio between 14:1 and 20:1.

T4 is the inactive form of thyroid hormone, and it is also known as ‘storage form’ because it is stored in the body until it is needed. T4 has to be converted to the active form T3 within the cells to be usable. Inside the cells, T3 is three to four times more potent than T4.

A deficiency in iodine can lead to decreased production of T3 and T4, enlarges the thyroid gland and will cause the disease known as goiter (5), which is why supplementing with iodine is key for thyroid health. Please check our “Heart and Body Extract” and “Gland Extract”.

 The importance of the thyroid

 Scientist Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize for demonstrating that “cancer develops and thrives when cells become dysfunctional and are unable to efficiently produce energy” (4). This is exactly how cells suffer under conditions of low thyroid, they cannot produce energy.

This will influence:

  • The body’s metabolic rate
  • Bone growth
  • Neural maturation
  • Protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Vitamin metabolism
  • Heat generation, etc (5)

The thyroid’s chain of command

Dr. John W. Larson DC, Clinical Nutritionist and Hormone Health Expert for over 18 years, explains that the thyroid follows a very specific and highly coordinated chain of command. Before the active free T3 can reach our cells and be used to make energy, it has to go through different steps in an orderly fashion (10).

For this reason, thyroid function does not start in the thyroid itself, but in brain and the liver, in this order:

1) In the brain: Thyroid hormone is operated by the action of the pituitary and the hypothalamus (2). The pituitary is a very important gland that secretes hormones that help control: growth, blood pressure, certain functions of the sex organs, thyroid, and metabolism as well as some aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, water/salt concentration at the kidneys, temperature regulation and pain relief (6).

When thyroid hormone is needed, a signal known as ‘Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone’ (TRH) travels to the pituitary and triggers this gland to release another hormone called ‘Thyroid Stimulating Hormone’ (TSH). TSH is sent directly to the thyroid (7) where another hormone called ‘Thyroid Peroxidase’ (TPO) transports iodine into the thyroid gland, adds this iodine to tyrosine and with both of these, makes thyroid hormone (8), about 93% T4 and 7% of T3 (7).

This process is so tightly regulated that the brain is constantly ‘reading’ thyroid hormone levels in the bloodstream. If the brain senses too much hormone circulating in the blood, it will slow down the levels of TSH, and the thyroid will slow down its release of thyroid hormone accordingly. On the contrary, when the levels of thyroid hormone drop in the blood, the pituitary releases more TSH, and more thyroid hormone is produced.

2) In the liver: Once thyroid hormone is made in the thyroid, it is carried into the bloodstream by Thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG). (TBG) is synthesized in the liver as a protein (another word for ‘globulin’) as one of three transport proteins (along with transthyretin and serum albumin) responsible for carrying thyroid hormone T4 and T3 in the bloodstream. Of these three proteins, TBG has the highest affinity for T4 and T3 but is present in the lowest concentration. Despite its low concentration, TBG carries the majority of T4 in the blood plasma (9).

The liver is responsible for converting about 60% of T4 into T3. Any form of liver congestion will interfere with this conversion. Stress hormone will convert another 20% into a permanently inactive form of T3, known as reverse T3. Healthy gastrointestinal flora is responsible for converting the last 20% of T4 into T3 (7).

Apart from being converted in the liver, the main nutrient that helps the conversion of T4 to T3 is selenium. Selenium is another important trace mineral that is also becoming depleted in our soils (10).

Bound T4

Not only does TBG transport T4 and T3 into the bloodstream, it also binds them. In the human body every hormone is found bound to a protein: thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones, sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone), etc. This ‘bounding effect’ is a way the body has to control the powerful effects hormones have in us. It is not until hormones become free or unbound that they can have effects on our cells. In the case of the thyroid, this means that T4 is not in an active form that can be used by cells to produce energy (7).

Free T3

This whole chain of command has the important purpose of making active free T3 available to all cells. This happens inside the part of the cell called the mitochondria, where energy is produced.

Reverse T3 (RT3) dominance

RT3 is like an anti-T3 hormone in that it blocks T3 from getting to the cells by binding to the receptor site that is normally occupied by T3.

The role of diagnosis 

According to Dr. Larson, there are many tests used to check thyroid function. However, on many occasions, practitioners will only use one of these. He recommends having a complete thyroid panel that includes six different tests:

  1. TSH: It is a good indicator of thyroid function so this test is the most widely used test by most practitioners. There are two problems with it though, one, sometimes it is the only test used and two, it can show healthy levels of TSH even when the person still has low thyroid symptoms. This adds to the confusion and frustration that is normally seen in thyroid disease. According to Dr. Larson, more detailed testing is needed to show other factors that may be contributing to low thyroid function.

Something that needs to be taken into account is that if the patient is on thyroid medication, TSH levels can show up as too low.

When it comes to the ranges, the optimal level of TSH would be between 1.00 and 2.50, with 0.00-0.44 being clinical low and 4.51 or higher being clinical high.

  1. Free T3: Optimal ranges are between 2.8 and 3.8.

High levels of T3 are a sign of an overactive thyroid. If free T3 is low it is a sign that the conversion process may be suffering.

  1. Reverse T3: Optimal levels are between 0.0 and 19.9.

RT3 mimics free T3 in the body but does not carry out the active duties for metabolic processes in the same way. There are several reasons why RT3 can be high. One is high levels of T4. Another reason is too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes what is known as ‘stress induced hypothyroidism’ (7).

  1. Free T4: Optimal levels are between 1.03 and 1.56.

If T4 is high, this tells us that the thyroid is overactive and producing too much thyroid hormone. It could also mean that the conversion of T4 to T3 is not occurring in the liver and/or gut. If Free T4 is low, this points to an underactive thyroid. However, it does not tell us if the problem is functional or autoimmune related (7).  

  1. Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody: This is one of the tests done to check for an auto-immune thyroid condition. The optimal level is from 0 to 19. As we saw before, Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) transports iodine into the thyroid. In the case of an auto-immune thyroid disease, antibodies attack this enzyme, which can cause keep enough thyroid hormone from being available, even if the person is supplementing with iodine.

There has been some concern expressed by practitioners which explain that taking too much iodine, 50 mg or more, can actually be hurtful in the case of TPO antibodies. Dr. Edwin Lee, MD, Board Certified Endocrinologist explains the extra iodine can actually fuel the antibodies even more, therefore, he recommends to stay at a low dose of 1-2 grams until the auto-immune condition is addressed.

  1. Thyroglobulin Antibody, also known as Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody, is also a test that measures auto-immunity. When the body is creating anti-bodies toward this protein, the one that carries thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, it can keep T3 from reaching the cells.

Auto-immune thyroid disease

Approximately 80 % of hypothyroidism cases are autoimmune based (7). It is called ‘Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis’ when it causes low thyroid and ‘Graves disease’ in the case of hyperactive thyroid.

Auto-immunity can be caused by different things, among them, leaky gut, food allergies or intolerances, invading organisms, heavy metals that have entered the thyroid, inflammation, etc.

The most prevalent is related to the gut. According to Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo MS, DC, CCN, DACBN, the health of the thyroid is dependent on the health of the gut. She explains that around 70 % of our lymphatic system is located in the gut, known as GALT (Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue). Eating the wrong kind of foods can irritate the cells lining the gut (enterocytes) and produce inflammatory chemicals which will over-sensitize the immune system, create more inflammation and ultimately lead to leaky gut (11).

Dr. Tom O’Bryan, DC, CCN, DACBN explains that the dendritic cells in our immune system are like guards that check every food we eat. When we constantly eat inflammatory foods we over stimulate these cells to produce inflammatory chemicals called ‘cytokines’. They are like ‘chemical bullets’ that destroy any invader by making antibodies against invaders. In the case of protein foods like wheat and grains, the problem is that they contain a long chain of 33 amino acids, called ‘alpha gliadin’ that is not broken down correctly. This is a problem because any food that is not broken down completely will alert the immune system that an invader is present. When it comes to the thyroid the problem is that our thyroid is made out of exactly the same chain of amino acids that is found in these foods. Once our immune system is activated against wheat and grains, it will start attacking our thyroid too and making antibodies against our own thyroid. This is what is known as ‘collateral damage’.

The immune system can attack the thyroid itself, or any of the hormones, or proteins that are part of the thyroid’s chain of command. This is why it is important to have a complete thyroid lab panel to check for all the possibilities.

There is only one thyroid dysfunction that is not shown in any test: when antibodies attack the thyroid receptors in the cells. If these receptors are damaged or destroyed, the cells are unable to receive T3, however, all the tests will show normal levels of TSH, T4 and T3 but the patient will still have symptoms of low thyroid.

Once auto-immunity becomes chronic, and we surpass our oral tolerance for problem foods, thyroid antibodies will become self-perpetuated (12). This will make the sufferer over-sensitive to any other minor irritants like pollen, dust, even less evident things like perfumes. It will also make the sufferer more prone to other auto immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, etc if the problem is not addressed at the root level.

The treatment usually given for thyroid disorders is T4 thyroid hormone, but this doesn’t solve the problem, because as long as the offending agents are present in the diet the damage will continue. What is more, giving the patient T4 hormone can lower thyroid function even more.

So what can we do to start reversing thyroid dysfunction? Please find out in our next blog.

References:

 

Low thyroid, the unsuspected cause of heart disease (Pt. 2)

Nutrition for your thyroid

The main hormone produced by the thyroid is known as T4. This is a storage form of the hormone, which means that T4 is circulated throughout the bloodstream and stored in tissues so that it is available when needed. It is also inactive, thus,  in order for the body to use it has to go through different steps to be activated. (1)

T4 thyroid hormone is comprised of the amino acid tyrosine and four iodines. (2) Because of this, the thyroid gland is the main user of iodine in the body. Deficiencies in this key nutrient can cause goiter.  Due to depletion of our soils, supplementing with iodine should be a priority.

Both the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ and the ‘Gland Extract’ contain kelp, which helps to nourish  the body and supports healthy thyroid function. The ‘Gland Extract’ also contains:

  • Papaya,  a digestive aid  that can help assimilate nutrients from our food
  • Beet root, which assists the gallbladder in keeping bile thin and is rich in nutrients and trace minerals
  • Chapparal, which cleanses the lymphatic system and the liver
  • Comfrey, contains allantoin, which promotes cell proliferation, helps to carry nutrients and minerals into glands, and assists in digestion
  • Watercress, a nutritive herb rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron, iodine and calcium
  • Fo-ti-tieng, which strengthens the body and balances the endocrine gland system

Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo also recommends Coleus Forskohlii, and He Shou Wu (Fo ti). Both of these can be found in the ‘Heart and Body Extract’.

Not only is iodine the thyroid’s raw material, every gland in the body needs iodine. According to Benjamin Fuchs R. Ph., iodine “can be helpful for the adrenals and the pancreas, (it)“resolves nearly every case of breast cysts”…can heal ovarian and skin cysts too (20 % of the body’s iodine stores are in the skin and one of the signs of iodine deficiency is dry skin). Muscles may benefit, ie: muscular pain and fibromyalgia are associated with iodine deficiency”  (3)

This makes the ‘Gland Extract’ a very important supplement not only for the health of the thyroid but all the other glands.

When iodine is present, it is absorbed from the gut into the blood and from there it goes to the thyroid. There it is removed from the blood, trapped in the gland, and incorporated into compounds which in turn are assembled into thyroid hormone secretions. The tiny amount of iodine that is needed for the thyroid to work properly is enough for the body to make thyroid hormone not just once but several times.

In cases of deficiency, the thyroid may enlarge in an attempt to add to its output. It may become so enlarged, that it may interfere with breathing or swallowing.  In goiter regions of the world, like mountains or inland areas of the globe, the amount found in food or water is not enough for proper functioning of the thyroid.  (4)

Other key nutrients for the thyroid are the B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D, zinc (5) and selenium. (6)

Get in charge of your thyroid health today. Thank you for reading.

References:

(1)  http://drjockers.com/how-to-properly-test-thyroid-function/

(2) http://drritamarie.com/blog/radio-show-the-thyroid-gut-connection/

(3) http://pharmacistben.com/nutrition/iodine-essential-nutrient-thyroid/

(4) Barnes, Broda O., and Lawrence Galton. Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. New York: Crowell, 1976. Print.

(5) http://drjockers.com/how-to-properly-test-thyroid-function/

(6) http://drjockers.com/how-selenium-helps-to-detoxify-mercury/

Low thyroid, the unsuspected cause of heart disease (Pt. 1)

Hypothyroidism or low thyroid function is according to Dr. Broda O. Barnes, M.D. “the most frequent and often overlooked chronic condition affecting people”. Despite being one of the causes of many health problems, and being easily and inexpensively corrected, low thyroid is also the most unsuspected, unverified and untreated. (1)

“According to the organizers of the International Thyroid Awareness Week, more than 300 million people worldwide are thought to suffer with a thyroid gland disorder (un)aware … Even doctors have difficulty recognizing and treating thyroid disorders.” (2)

In today’s blogs, we will look at the importance of the thyroid for the health of the heart, especially in controlling hypertension and blood cholesterol levels. We will also see how the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ and the ‘Gland Extract’ can help the thyroid.

The endocrine system

When the endocrine glands were first discovered, it challenged the notion that the nervous system was ‘the’ single controlling force in the human body. The pituitary, adrenals, pineal gland, thymus and the islets of Langerhans were found to play a remarkable role in the body’s economy by pouring their hormones into the blood stream. However, the thyroid was found to be the ‘Master gland’ (3), the ‘quickener of the tempo of life’ (1). As such, the thyroid controls the metabolic rate of every cell in your body, that is, how quickly the body is able to burn oxygen and glucose and turn it into fuel. The thyroid does this by producing and releasing hormones, the most important of which are T3 and T4.

When the thyroid is functioning properly, it keeps things balanced and running smoothly and all your organs and glands function well.  In other words, this small butterfly shaped gland located in the neck and weighing less than an ounce, controls the body’s metabolism. The term ‘metabolism’ refers to the process by which food is transformed into energy and many vital chemical changes take place. Every organ, tissue, and cell is affected by the ‘sometimes less than a spoonful a year’ thyroid hormone released into the bloodstream. (1) This is very important to understand, and it is the reason the thyroid is the regulator of ‘EVERYTHING’ in the body. And because there is a receptor for thyroid hormone in every cell of the body, low thyroid can potentially affect any and all of the systems in the body. (4)

This can mean heart problems, if the cells affected are the heart cells, gut problems if the cells affected are the cells in the gut, and so on. In the case of impaired digestion this can translate into inability to  produce enough stomach acid, enzymes, bile, etc. And because thyroid hormone is activated in the liver and gut, this in turn will affect the thyroid, becoming a ‘self feeding’ downward spiral .

The microscopic cell

Each cell in the body is like a microscopic power plant, it burns food and sets energy free in the form of heat. Thyroid secretion is essential for the work of the cell and determines how the fire gets inside the cell and the speed of activity in the cell. Since we have several trillion cells in the body, we could say that anything that influences how the cell operates is of extreme importance for all the organs of the body.

The minute secretion of thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland is also responsible for:

Regulating the rate at which the body utilizes oxygen and the speed with which the body utilizes food

Regulating the body’s heat production. The thyroid is a kind of thermostat

Maintaining the circulatory system and blood volume

Maintaining muscle health (the heart is a muscle). With marked thyroid deficiency the muscles may become sluggish and infiltrated with fat

The thyroid also plays an important role in growth processes. With low thyroid, growth and maturation fail to take place normally: growth of the skin, hair, and nails may be retarded in thyroid deficiency and accelerated by thyroid treatment. Healing of the bones is delayed in thyroid deficiency. Severe anemia may also develop. Thyroid hormone is essential for normal nervous system functioning and reaction time, thus hypothyroidism  may produce slow reactions  and mental sluggishness. (1)

Symptoms of low thyroid

Because the thyroid controls everything in the body, an underactive thyroid can have many different symptoms:

  • Cretinism: An extreme case of low thyroid which will cause the sufferer to underdevelop
  • Circulatory disturbances
  • High cholesterol levels (5)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Severe headaches
  • Repeated infections
  • Slow and thick speech
  • Weakness and listlessness to the point of apathy
  • Dry and flaky skin and and brittle hair (5)
  • Menstrual disturbances,  and anemia caused by blood loss
  • Memory and concentration difficulties
  • Depression
  • Paranoid symptoms
  • Feeling cold even in warm temperatures
  • Muscle soreness and pain (5)
  • Unexplained weight gain (5)
  • Sleeplessness
  • Eye inflammation
  • Nervousness

Any person with hypothyroid fatigue fights an uphill battle, getting physically tired sooner and taking longer to recuperate. That person is more prone to mental as well as physical fatigue, and even after extended rest, the brain, like the rest of body, gets something less than adequate circulation. The mental fatigue, if severe enough, can be much like that of the battle fatigue suffered by soldiers  during prolonged front line duty in war. (1)

Many of the symptoms of low thyroid will vary greatly from one victim to another. In the milder forms of hypothyroidism, we can also see many systems of the body affected, although not all may show the same degree and different organs may be affected. Many times the symptoms may look opposite, like low energy and hyperactivity.

According to the observations of Dr. Broda Barnes, after removal of the thyroid gland, excess amounts of water, salt, and protein are retained within the body, and blood cholesterol also goes up.

When fatigue and the impaired circulation that contributes to it lead to an accumulation of fluid in the tissues this can lead to headaches.

The thyroid-heart connection

One of the areas in which low thyroid can impact us is heart health, especially when it comes to  controlling blood cholesterol levels.

Dr. Broda first started being aware of the importance of the thyroid for heart health when he realized the patients he was treating with thyroid hormone didn’t have heart attacks. At that time he was working with a group of 490 women aged 30-39, 60 and over, 172 of which were high risk women (high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels). There were also 382 men aged 30-39, 60 and over, 186 of which were at high risk of heart disease. Of the 19 cases of heart disease to be expected, only 2 developed heart disease among women and one among men. This meant that 94% of them were protected by thyroid therapy.

This realization made him eager to continue researching thyroid hormone. Dr. Broda found some studies on the thyroid that corroborated his observations. Two medical investigators in two different series of patients studied the frequency of symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism. They found that heart enlargement was present in 68% of 77 cases, palpitations were 31%, poor heart sounds 30%, and pain over the heart 25%.

A life’s work

One of Dr. Broda’s first jobs in graduate school was to teach endocrinology to medical students. Lab animals were used to demonstrate the influence of each of the endocrine glands: A gland would be removed and the results of its removal would be noted over a period of time. One of the most graphic demonstrations of low thyroid was when the thyroid gland was removed from baby rabbits  and their fur  became dry within 2 weeks. One week later they started losing weight and, as time passed, repeated infections became prevalent till they died at less than half the normal age. When thyroid was administered to some of these rabbits, there was a quick relief for their multiple problems and a seemingly miraculous return to health.

After obtaining his Ph. D. and going back to medical school, Dr. Broda saw many patients with health problems whose cause didn’t seem clear, or fit any usual category of disease. It was not long before he realized he was seeing patients who reminded him of those rabbits in the lab.

After graduating from med school, the tragic death of two of his patients changed the way he practiced medicine. He learned to never ignore any physical complaint from a patient even when there was not an immediate explanation for it. He started screening for hypothyroidism in any patient who showed symptoms that didn’t fit any disease category.

Dr. Broda continued to research the link between the thyroid and heart disease extensively. Evidence had been accumulating proving that the thyroid gland may play a role in hypertension. One of the first physicians  to point out the role of hypothyroidism in artery disease was Dr. A. M. Fishberg. In ‘The Journal of the American Medical Association’, he cited the case of a 21 year old man who had died of pneumonia. The only physical abnormality he had was a blood pressure of 175/135. When the autopsy was performed his thyroid gland was found to be almost nonfunctioning, and had been almost replaced by fatty tissue. The deceased patient also had generalized atherosclerosis, which affected his kidney and other arteries. Dr. Fishberg suggested that hypothyroidism had caused the atherosclerosis and that it led to hypertension. After hearing about this case, Dr. Broda started being interested in the possible link between hypothyroidism and hypertension.

When he started studying goiter patients, all of them had high blood pressure. He found out that surgeries to remove an enlarged thyroid in order to prevent choking, caused their blood pressure to increase. The more thyroid gland that was removed, the higher the pressure was. When these patients were put on thyroid hormone, 95% showed satisfactory declines in blood pressure.

After learning this, Dr. Broda started paying attention to patients that had high blood pressure and treating them with thyroid hormone. The only patients that didn’t respond to thyroid medication were those with kidney disease. If the kidney artery became clogged, thyroid medication could not  improve the circulation to the kidney.

He continued to study these two conditions: hypothyroidism and high blood pressure, this time in a heart disease follow up study he had in progress. The aim of the study was to determine what influence the correction of low thyroid function might have on heart disease. Patients on thyroid therapy showed improved protection against the development of elevated blood pressure if they didn’t have it when they entered the study. Those that did have the disease saw a decrease in their blood pressure even without antihypertensive medication. Only seven patients required antihypertensive medication.

Through his extensive research, Dr. Broda learned that thyroid deficiency tends to reduce the strength of the heartbeat. Also, the amount of blood pumped out to the body with each beat is reduced. In severe hypothyroidism, studies had shown that the blood circulation through the body may be reduced by as much as 40%, thus, the effective oxygen carrying capacity of the blood is only 60% of the normal. In milder cases of low thyroid function, the reduction of circulation is not that severe, but just a mild reduction can mean that less than normal amounts of oxygen are reaching the tissues.

The blood pressure system

Blood pressure is simply the force or push against the walls of the arteries as blood flows through them. Each time the heart beats, pumping out blood, the pressure in the arteries increases, and each time the heart relaxes between beats the pressure goes down. It is completely normal for blood pressure to fluctuate. It decreases during sleep and increases during physical exertion or emotional excitement. The body has the ability to adapt instantly to the need for blood in all organs and tissues. During sleep there is less effect of gravity and less pressure is needed to get blood to the brain so the pressure goes down. Pressure automatically goes up when we stand up as the body counters the gravity effect. It also automatically adapts to meet the different demands during work, exercise, etc.

There is a wide range of normal blood pressure. At rest, a 100/60 to 140/90 is considered normal, above that, on single instances,  it can still be considered normal. The problem is when the elevation is continuous.

Hypertension can be present for years without symptoms and even when it presents symptoms like headache, dizziness, weakness or fatigue they may not be attributed to high blood pressure because they are common to other diseases. The problem with hypertension is that it can be doing damage without any symptoms.

When the heart must pump against excessive pressure, it has to pump harder. To accommodate to the extra burden, the heart must enlarge  and carry on for years, this overstretched muscle may weaken and heartbeat abnormalities may follow. Just like a garden hose under a lot of pressure, the coronary arteries that feed the heart muscle may damage the artery walls and eventually narrow the arteries, reducing the blood flow to the heart. Not only this increases the likelihood of a heart attack but also its deadliness. The likelihood of a stroke too is increased, up to five times higher. According to Dr. Broda, “thyroid dificiency is the most potent factor in the development of atherosclerosis and heart attacks” (1)

Hypertension has also been found to be the principal  reason for congestive heart failure. The failure develops when the heart’s pumping power becomes so impaired that not enough blood is circulating to provide sustenance for all tissues. The kidneys, from lack of circulation, can no longer  remove enough water from the blood, and urine output drops while the retained water accumulates in the lungs and other tissues.

The causes of high blood pressure are numerous: narrowing of the aorta, obstruction to normal flow in a kidney artery, etc. However, the majority of high blood pressure, around 85-90%, has been considered to be ‘essential’ or ‘idiopathic’, meaning there is no definite physical cause. Dr. Broda believes the explanation is in the thyroid.

The low thyroid-high blood pressure link

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is usually a silent, potentially disabling and exceedingly common health problem. “Heart attacks are three to five commoner in hypertensives  than in others, strokes, four times commoner, congestive heart failure, five times commoner. The risk of potentially fatal kidney failure- and also of blindness- is increased. The higher the blood pressure, the greater the risk. But even mild elevation of pressure, left untreated, can shorten life…Hypertension is not reserved only for certain age groups or for certain types of people. It affects men and women of every national origin and at every age.” (1)

The thyroid and cholesterol

In the human body, cholesterol is found in every cell in the body. Every cell has enzymes for the local production of cholesterol when needed. At the time of birth, the brain contains the enzymes for making cholesterol and as a child develops much more cholesterol is added to the central nervous system. In adults, cells in the brain and spinal cord are not replaced and enzymes disappear from these tissues. All other tissues in the body though continue to  replace worn or damaged cells and the enzymes needed for production of cholesterol remain through life.

Even a vegetarian , who gets no cholesterol in his diet, has the normal amount of cholesterol in his blood and tissues because enzymes are capable of making the cholesterol that is needed. Non vegetarians, on the contrary, consume cholesterol and, in this case, the liver breaks down some of the excess cholesterol into bile salts and they are excreted in bile. In other words, if the diet does not contain enough cholesterol, the body will synthesize more cholesterol as need arises.

Cholesterol can be formed from the simplest foods, only a molecule containing two carbon atoms is necessary for the formation of the complex cholesterol molecule. Cholesterol rapid synthesis is a wonder of nature, and the fact that it is so quickly and easily manufactured from simple compounds is a proof of its importance.

A hen’s egg is high in cholesterol because the material is needed for the chick to develop. In the human body, the adrenal glands contain the highest concentration of cholesterol of any other tissue in the body. Cholesterol is the starting material for the synthesis of adrenal hormones needed for the maintenance of mineral and glucose metabolism and to ready the body for quick action in emergency situations. The brain and spinal cord contain one fourth of the body’s total cholesterol in the body. Some of it is in connective tissue and some is also believed to be part of nerve fibers’ insulation. The skin contains 10% of the body’s total cholesterol and sunlight converts this cholesterol into vitamin D, essential to bone metabolism. Cholesterol is also found in bone marrow, where red blood cells are formed.

Rudolph Virchow, the father of pathology, demonstrated that when tissue degenerated, large amounts of cholesterol were liberated. He clearly showed that cholesterol did not cause the damage to the tissue, but rather, it was released as a result of the damage. Repetedly, other pathologists confirmed this same idea: cholesterol is not present in great amounts at the beginning of the degenerative process but after this is well advanced. A significant discovery was that when artery lining is healthy, cholesterol in the blood moves in and out the lining, but when the lining is damaged, cholesterol moves in more readily than out, and this happens even when cholesterol levels are normal.

In experiments with rabbits resistant to cholesterol, they found that removing thyroid hormone quickly increased their levels of cholesterol and atherosclerosis developed. When administered thyroid hormone the opposite effect happened.

Despite all these significant findings, evidence began to build against cholesterol, which according to the author has caused much confusion.

In 1950, Dr. Broda started pretreating new patients with a chest X-ray for heart size, an electrocardiogram and blood studies including checks for cholesterol levels. He decided to run a scientific study in which 1,569 patients were encouraged to eat abundant fat, eggs and extra butter. While thyroid was being administered, 95% of the patients showed blood cholesterol within normal range. Even those that had higher cholesterol levels never had heart attacks. The majority of the subjects stayed in this diet for 20 years, and all of them stayed a minimum of 2 years. At the end of the 20 years, only 4 heart attacks occurred, all in men, the youngest was 56, the oldest 61. In these four cases, the thyroid dosage was only 2 grains a day, which may have been low.

A government’s study known as the Framingham study in 1949 and officially termed ‘The Heart Disease Epidemiology Study’, followed more than 5,000 men and women in order to determine who would develop coronary heart disease. None of the participants received thyroid hormone and around 800 died of a heart attack. This represented a 94% of protection with thyroid hormone.

Low thyroid and artery degeneration

There was a total of 30 heart attacks among those patients that stopped thyroid therapy. The autopsy of one of these victims revealed that both coronary arteries were almost completely closed off by arteriosclerosis. Other patients’ autopsies, this time performed by Dr. William M. Ord, revealed that the thyroid was almost completely destroyed, the heart was enlarged and many arteries diseased, containing deposits of foreign material that narrowed them greatly.

Upon  researching the topic, Dr. Broda found that the influence of thyroid deficiency on the artery system had been well studied in the early 1900’s, a group of doctors defined the condition in which the arteries become prematurely damaged by arteriosclerosis as ‘myxedema’ and ‘myxedema heart’. They treated patients with enlarged hearts with thyroid hormone, after which their heart shrank to normal size.

Despite the importance of these findings, Dr. Broda thinks this knowledge has been forgotten because heart disease was not prevalent in the early 1900’s.

Concluding…

Thyroid deficiency can produce  many changes in the body which encourage heart problems. One of the most important is the deposition of foreign substances in the arteries. Other changes are high blood pressure, but thyroid therapy has proven to lower it. Blood clots are also more prevalent and heart attacks occur more often because the clot blocks a completely narrowed atherosclerotic artery. However, with thyroid therapy, blood clotting activity returns to normal. “A rational approach to the prevention of heart attacks calls for the recognition of thyroid deficiency.” (1)

References:

(1) Barnes, Broda O., and Lawrence Galton. Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. New York: Crowell, 1976. Print.

(2) “VITAL Solutions: Dr. Ritamarie’s Nutritional Strategies for Restoring and Maintaining Thyroid Health.” Dr Ritamaries Vibrant Living and Energy Recharge Natural Health Solutions VITAL Solutions Dr Ritamaries Nutritional Strategies for Restoring and Maintaining Thyroid Health Recording Series Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Dec. 2016.

(3) Loscalzo, Dr. Ritamarie. “Thyroid Revive and Thrive.” Gluten Free Diet, Living Foods and Raw Foods for Vibrant Health, Adrenal Fatigue, Irritable Bowel and Chronic Exhaustion. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Dec. 2016.

(4) http://drritamarie.com/blog/radio-show-the-thyroid-gut-connection/

(5) “7 Signs of an Underactive Thyroid.” DrJockerscom. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Dec. 2016.

 

The importance of bile for healthy arterial flow (Pt. 2)

Diseases of the circulatory system. Coronary heart disease

The circulatory system is comprised of:

  • The blood circulatory system. Including the heart, and the blood vessels through which the blood circulates
  • The lymph system.  Consisting of lymph nodes and lymph vessels through which lymph flows. There is three times more lymph fluid than blood and this may be because lymph takes waste products from the cells, cellular debris, and removes them from the body

Under normal conditions, the liver filters more than one quart of blood per minute, leaving only the acidic carbon dioxide for elimination through the lungs. After it is purified in the liver, the blood passes through the hepatic vein into the inferior vena cava, which takes it directly into the right side of the heart. From there the venous blood is carried to the lungs where carbon dioxide is excreted and oxygen is absorbed. After leaving the lungs, the oxygenated blood passes into the left side of the heart, from where it is pumped into the aorta. This supplies all body tissues  with oxygenated blood. In this fashion, the liver thoroughly detoxifies and purifies the blood. (1)

Because the liver influences the entire circulatory system, including the heart, the liver could be considered the greatest protector of the heart. Proof of this is that long before the heart begins to malfunction, the liver loses much of its major vitality and efficiency. “A heart attack is actually the final stage of an insidious disorder that has been years in the making.” (1)

Gallstones affect the blood vessels supplying the liver, reducing internal blood supply. “A congested liver can obstruct the venous blood flow to the heart, leading to heart palpitations or even heart attacks.” It is obvious that toxins that are not neutralized by the liver end up damaging the heart and blood vessel network.

Another consequence of this is that proteins from dead cells and unused food protein are not sufficiently broken down, which raises protein concentrations in the blood. Ultimately the concentrations of hemoglobin in the blood begins to increase, giving rise to red complexion on the face or chest. As a result of all this red blood cells become enlarged and are unable to pass through the tiny vessels of the capillary network. This high concentration of protein in the blood causes the blood to become too thick and slow moving, increasing its tendency toward clotting, heart attacks or strokes.

This slow moving blood will also compromise delivery of nutrients and oxygen all through the body as well as elimination of waste, all of which can increase blood pressure and  damage the blood vessels. In the meantime, the excess proteins are stored in the blood vessel walls, where they are converted into collagen fiber. This in turn decreases the amount of oxygen, and essential nutrients to the cells including those of the heart. Heart muscle weakness and arteriosclerosis will be the end result.

Liver congestion can cause high cholesterol

We have seen how critical cholesterol is for health. The main producers of cholesterol are the liver and the small intestine, respectively. They release cholesterol right into the blood stream where cholesterol binds to the blood proteins called ‘lipoproteins’, whose job is to transport cholesterol through the body: High density lipoprotein (HDL), Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL).

The difference among these three is that LDL and VLDL are larger cholesterol  molecules than HDL. Because of this size difference HDL can pass through blood vessel walls but LDL and VLDL have to use a different pathway, the liver’s blood vessels (sinusoids). Once they have passed through the liver they are rebuilt and excreted along with bile into the intestines. There it combines with fats, and it is absorbed by the lymph in order to enter the blood again. Gallstones in the liver inhibit bile production, blocking cholesterol’s escape route. Under these circumstances, bile production drops from a quart or more of bile per day to a cup or less. This prevents much of the cholesterol (VLDL and LDL) from being excreted with the bile, and causes it to be ‘trapped in the blood’ and its concentration to rise in the blood.

What is more, digestion is impaired, especially fats, which prevents cholesterol to be available for basic cell metabolism. The liver then starts producing more cholesterol, increasing LDL and VLDL even more in the blood.

Gallstones can cause poor circulation, enlargement of the heart and spleen, varicose veins, lymph congestion, and hormonal imbalances

When gallstones impede blood flow through the liver, venous blood pressure in the liver and in all of the organs of the body that drain used blood into the liver’s portal vein is increased: spleen, stomach, esophagus, pancreas, gallbladder, small and large intestines. This can lead to enlargement of all these organs, a reduction of their ability to remove cellular waste and clogging of their respective veins.This can show up as ‘varicose veins’ in the legs and ‘hemorrhoids’. (1)

“Poor blood flow through the liver always affects the heart. When the organs of the digestive system become weakened by an increase in venous pressure, they become congested and begin to accumulate harmful waste, including debris from cells that have been broken down. The spleen becomes enlarged while it is dealing with the extra workload associated with removing damaged or worn-out blood cells. This further slows blood circulation to and from the organs of the digestive system, which stresses the heart, raises blood pressure and injures blood vessels. The right part of the heart, which receives venous blood via the inferior vena cava from the liver and all other parts below the lungs, becomes overloaded with toxic sometimes infections material. This eventually causes enlargement, and possibly infection, of the right side of the heart. Almost all types of heart disease have one thing in common: blood flow is being obstructed” (1)

The lymphatic system removes harmful waste products

Reduced blood flow through the liver affects blood flow in the entire body, which in turn has a detrimental effect on the lymphatic system.

“The lymphatic system, which is closely related to the immune system, helps clear the body of harmful metabolic waste products, foreign material and cell debris. All cells release metabolic waste products and take up nutrients from a surrounding solution called ‘extracellular fluid’ or ‘connective tissue’. The degree of nourishment and efficiency of the cells depends on how swiftly and completely waste material  is removed from the extracellular fluid. Since most waste products cannot pass directly into the blood for excretion, they accumulate in the extracellular fluid until they are removed and detoxified by the lymphatic system. The potentially harmful material is filtered and neutralized by lymph nodes that are strategically located  throughout the body. One of the key functions of the lymphatic system is to keep the extracellular fluid clear of toxic substances” (1)

“Poor circulation of blood in the body causes an overload of foreign, harmful waste matter in the extracellular tissues and in the lymph vessels and lymph nodes. When lymph drainage slows down or becomes obstructed, the thymus gland, tonsils and spleen start to deteriorate rapidly. These organs form an important part of the body’s system of purification and immunity. In addition, microbes harbored in gallstones can be a constant source of recurring infection in the body, which may render the lymphatic and immune systems ineffective against more serious infections.” (1)

“Owing to the restricted bile flow in the liver and gallbladder, the small intestine is restricted in its capacity to digest food properly. This allows substantial amounts of waste matter and poisonous substances, such as cadaverines and putrescines (breakdown products of putrefied food) to seep into the lymphatic ducts. These toxins, along with fats and proteins enter the body’s largest lymph vessel, the thoracic duct. Toxins, antigents and undigested protein from animal sources as well as leaked plasma proteins, cause these lymph sacks to swell and become inflamed. Viruses, fungi and bacteria feed on the pooled wastes, in some cases allergic reactions occur. This results in lymph edema which can cause middle or low back pain and abdominal swelling, which is considered a ‘normal part of aging’ but it is nothing more than a lymphatic congestion.” (1)

“Some 80% of the lymphatic system is associated with the intestines, any lymph edema in this important part of the lymphatic system can lead to potentially serious complications elsewhere in the body. Whenever a lymph duct is obstructed the lymph nodes can no longer properly neutralize the following things: dead and live phagocytes and their ingested microbes, worn out tissue cells, cells damaged by disease, products of fermentation, pesticides in food, toxic antibodies contained in most plant foods, cells from malignant tumors, and the millions of cancer cells every healthy person generates each day. Incomplete destruction of these things can cause these lymph nodes to become inflamed, enlarged, and congested with blood. Infected material may enter the bloodstream, causing septic poisoning and acute illnesses. In most cases, the lymph blockage occurs slowly, without symptoms other than swelling of the abdomen, hands, arms, feet, ankles or puffiness in the face and eyes, this is referred to as ‘water retention’,  a major precursor of chronic illness. All this congestion can manifest in any part of the body, like in enlargement of the left half of the heart, and congestive heart failure. This can also cause these toxins to be passed into the heart and its arteries, stressing the heart and allowing these toxins to enter the general circulation.” (1)

We can prevent gallstones 

What can we do about this? One answer could be to change the way we eat: more fresh , unprocessed, organic, clean foods can take the load off our liver and gallbladder. Supplementing would be another way. Some of the nutrients required for detoxification via the liver detoxification pathways are:

  • In phase 1: the B vitamins, folic acid, glutathione, vitamin E and C
  • In phase 2: selenium, sulfur, and the amino acids taurine, cysteine, glutamine, and glycine. (2)

Taurine is a very interesting amino acid, it is not only used by our body for detoxification , according to Benjamin Fuchs, R Ph “It helps lower blood pressure and improves the excretion of excess fluid which takes pressure off of blood vessels. It strengthens heart muscle and helps maintain calcium balance in heart cells. (It is also) Critical in maintaining heart muscle contraction.” (3)

A great supplement we can use to help bile is lecithin. Lecithin is “an active ingredient in bile” (4)

The “Heart and Body Extract” can improve circulation, digestion and detoxification

We have seen how critical proper blood circulation and lymphatic flow are to heart healt. Each of the ingredients in the “Heart and Body Extract” can help with circulation and lymphatic congestion by themselves, but their properties are improved when they are combined  together. For example, cayenne has vascular dilation properties, improves circulation in the extremities and  stimulates lymph flow. Garlic is a great blood cleanser, it is antiseptic, antiparasitic, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. Garlic then can assist bile’s antibacterial activity, by stimulating the action of the liver and gallbladder. To this we can add that garlic stimulates digestive enzymes and improves the immune system. This is why many people find that taking the “Heart and Body Extract” helps their digestion. Ginger is also a great digestive aid, but it also helps with circulation and it is a catalyst for other herbs, meaning it improves the properties of other herbs it is combined with. Ginger is also great for nausea, increases lymph flow and aids elimination of mucus from upper respiratory areas, especially the lungs. It also lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, prevents blood clotting and it is useful post strokes. (5)

Concluding…

In conclusion, bile flow is critical for overall health. Obstructive gallstones can become a major source of congestion and toxicity in the body. Luckily, there are many things we can do to prevent this. The “Heart and Body Extract” together with a clean diet can keep the detoxification pathways in our body clear.

Be pro-active and take your health in your own hands today. Thank you for reading.

References:

(1) Moritz, Andreas. The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse: An All-natural, At-home Flush to Purify and Rejuvenate Your Body. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses, 2007. Print.

(2) http://drjockers.com/sulfur-a-critical-nutrient-for-optimal-health/

(3) http://pharmacistben.com/nutrition/top-12-heart-nutrients-part-1/

(4) http://pharmacistben.com/health/lecithin-protective/

(5) Morse, Robert. The Detox Miracle Sourcebook: Raw Foods and Herbs for Complete Cellular Regeneration. Prescott, AZ: Hohm, 2004. Print.

The importance of bile for healthy arterial flow (Pt. 1)

We have seen the key role the liver plays in digestion and detoxification: the liver is a digestive organ, makes bile and cholesterol  and it is the body’s major detoxification organ. By breaking down complex chemicals, alcohol, toxins, bacteria and parasites, the liver converts these into less toxic substances. But the liver has hundreds of other functions, each of them connected with different parts of the body. According to Andreas Moritz, author of the book “The liver and gallbladder miracle cleanse”, the liver “With its intricate labyrinth of veins, ducts and specialized cells feeds  the 60 to 100 trillion cells of the body…. supply(ing) these cells with a constant stream of nutrients, enzymes and hormones.” (1)

To perform all of these functions the liver needs to be completely unobstructed. But what happens when this is not the case? Gallstones are a hazard to all these vital tasks because they obstruct bile flow, leading to high levels of toxicity in the liver and ultimately to liver diseases. According to the author, “Liver congestion is among the leading health problems” (1) and in his opinion it is not something that  conventional medicine  considers, not until advanced liver cell destruction shows up as elevated liver enzymes in the blood.

The good news is that it takes many years for this congestion to happen, which means there are many things we can do to prevent this. In this blog, we will look once again at the liver and the gallbladder. We will give special attention to the importance of bile and how it can be key to the health of our heart. We will also look at how the liver influences the entire circulatory system, and how the “Heart and Body Extract” can help keep our liver and gallbladder work properly.

The liver has many jobs

“The liver is the largest gland in the body, weighing up to 3 pounds…It can also be the most complex and active organ in the body.”  (1) A healthy liver receives and filters 3 pints of blood per minute. Most of the filtered waste products leave the liver via bile. The liver also produces 1-1.5 quarts of bile every day. This ensures that all the activities in the liver and in the rest of the body run smoothly and efficiently.

The liver is also responsible for hundreds of other different functions,  the main ones are:

  • Manufacture of cholesterol, an essential building material  of organ cells
  • Manufacture of bile
  • Production of hormones and proteins that affect the way the body functions, grows and heals
  • Manufacture of new amino acids
  • Conversion of existing amino acids into proteins: These proteins are the main building blocks of the cells, hormones , neurotransmitters, genes and so forth
  • Break down of old, worn-out cells and the nitrogen part of amino acids, the byproduct of which in both cases is uric acid, which is excreted through urine
  • Recycling of protein and iron
  • Storage of vitamins and nutrients
  • Growth and functioning of every cell in the body

Reduced bile availability is the source of almost all health problems

In order to perform all of its functions, the liver needs these 1-1.5 quarts of bile per day, anything less than that, as it is the case of gallstones, will dramatically compromise our health (1). Bile availability is so important that the author asserts “Almost all health problems are a direct or indirect consequence of reduced bile availability.” (1)

But, what is bile exactly? “Bile is a “yellow/green aqueous solution…(made up of) bile acids, cholesterol, phospholipids (mainly phosphatidylcholine) and the pigment biliverdin (bili = bile, verdi = green).” (2)

Bile has a key role in digestion.  “Without sufficient bile, food remains undigested or partially digested. For example, to enable the small intestines to digest and absorb fat and calcium from food, the food must first combine with bile. When fat is not absorbed, calcium is not absorbed either, leaving the blood in a deficit. The blood subsequently takes its extra calcium from the bones. Most bone density problems (osteoporosis) actually arise from insufficient bile secretion and poor digestion of fats, rather than from not consuming enough calcium.” (1)

Bile is antimicrobial and antibacterial

This detergent and emulsification ability that allows bile to solubilize fats “also confers potent antimicrobial properties on bile and gives it an important role in the body’s physicochemical defense system.” (2) Bile primarily exerts its antibacterial effects on cell membranes, cells then become shrunken and empty after exposure to bile. “Bile salts at high concentrations can rapidly dissolve membrane lipids and cause dissociation of integral membrane proteins ….This nearly instantaneous solubilization results in the leakage of cell contents and cell death” This antibacterial role bile plays explains why many substances are mixed into bile.” (2) This is the case of:

Immunoglobulin A and mucus, which are secreted into bile to prevent bacterial growth and adhesion.

Tocopherol, which may prevent oxidative damage to the biliary and small intestinal epithelium

Many endogenous substances (endobiotics) may be secreted in bile and undergo enterohepatic cycling (recycling). These include lipovitamins (particularly the biologically active forms of vitamin D 2), water-soluble vitamins (particularly vitamin B 12, folic acid and pyridoxine), all estrogenic steroids, progesterone, testosterone, corticosteroids and essential trace metals. Many other substances like antimicrobials and drugs are also mixed into bile and undergo this enterohepatic cycling. (2)

Bile also functions as an excretory fluid by eliminating substances that cannot be efficiently excreted in urine because they are insoluble or protein bound, like it is the case of cholesterol. (2)

Other jobs bile has are:

  • To maintain normal fat levels in the blood
  • To help maintain proper acid/alkaline balance in the intestinal tract
  • To keep the colon from breeding harmful microbes
  • To feed the body’s cells in the right amounts

Enterohepatic circulation: Bile recycles itself

One of the lesser known extremely important functions of bile is to deacidify and cleanse the intestines. (1) Bile performs this very important role by going from the liver to the intestines in a circular motion up to 10 times a day, (2-3 times for each meal). (3) This is actually where bile recycles itself and as it does it cleanses itself and the intestines. This is what is known as ‘enterohepatic circulation’ (2) and it is of great importance for the health of our digestive system in regards to “microbial defense, maintaining intestinal barrier integrity, setting the microbiome, optimizing detoxification, inhibiting inflammation, promoting fat and fat soluble nutrient uptake, and the regulation of glucose and lipid homeostasis throughout the body.” (3)

It is also the reason why the many toxic substances we mentioned above are usually ‘dumped’ into bile in order to be detoxified too.

While the majority of bile in our body is recycled and put back in use by this process known as ‘enterohepatic circulation’, a small amount of bile is lost in stool everyday. This loss is “compensated by an equal daily synthesis of bile acids by the liver, (which allows) the size of the bile salt pool to be maintained.” (2)

Bile is synthesized in the liver, stored in the gallbladder and secreted into the duodenum

The gallbladder is not essential for bile secretion but it facilitates its storage in preparation for fat digestion. The liver is where bile is synthesized. After synthesis, bile leaves the liver and enters the duodenum at a junction regulated by the ‘sphincter of Oddi’ (2)

Half of this hepatic bile is then diverted to the gallbladder where water and electrolytes are removed and bile is acidified. The other half bypasses the gallbladder and enters the duodenum in order to undergo the continuous recycling we mentioned before (enterohepatic cycling). (2)

When food enters the small intestine, acid and partially digested fats stimulate secretion of two hormones that are important for the secretion and flow of bile: ‘secretin’ and ‘cholecystokinin’. Secretin stimulates biliary duct cells to secrete bicarbonate and water to expand the volume of bile. Cholecystokinin (cholecysto = gallbladder, kinin = movement) stimulates contractions of the gallbladder and the common bile duct. As a result, the gallbladder contracts, the sphincter of Oddi relaxes, and up to 80% of the gallbladder contents are discharged into the duodenum. (2)

Bile acids are 50% of the content in bile

Bile acids constitute approximately 50% of the organic components of bile. They are synthesized in the liver from cholesterol by a multienzyme process.  “All bile acids are conjugated with either glycine or taurine before secretion….for this reason both taurine and glycine conjugates are often called ‘bile salts’.” (2) Conjugation is a process by which a substance is bound to an acid in order to deactivate it and make it water soluble, thereby facilitating their excretion (1). Bile acids then “promote concentration of bile” (2)

Bile acids emulsify fats and act as ‘lipid carriers’

“Bile acids play an essential role in digestion by emulsifying and solubilizing fats. Bile acids are secreted into bile…and mix with phosphatidylcholine and cholesterol. When bile enters the small intestine, phosphatidylcholine is hydrolysed and absorbed and cholesterol precipitates from solution enhancing its elimination. …Bile acids…have (a) detergent action on particles of dietary fat, which causes fat globules to break down or be emulsified into minute, microscopic droplets…. Emulsification greatly increases the surface area of fat, making it available for digestion by lipases, which cannot access the inside of fat droplets.” (2) This is a very key aspect of fat digestion, it basically means that without bile, even if we are supplementing with digestive enzymes, fats cannot be completely digested.

“Bile acids also function as ‘lipid carriers’ in that they can solubilize lipids …and thus allow their transport in an aqueous environment, which is critical for the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins… In addition, … the ability of bile acids to act as detergents also allows them to interact with bacterial membrane lipids thereby conferring potent antimicrobial properties on bile. ” (2)

“Decreased concentrations of bile acids in bile may also result in bile being supersaturated with cholesterol and may lead to the formation of gallstones.” (2)

Gallstones prevent bile from flowing in sufficient amounts 

“The gallbladder is a sac-like organ that expands to the size and shape of a small pear when full” (2). A normal gallbladder generally holds about 2 fluid ounces of bile. Also, the gallbladder adds mucus to bile, which turns it into a thick, mucus-like substance with a different consistency than that from the liver. Its high concentration makes bile the powerful digestive aid that it is.

The muscular walls of the gallbladder contract and eject bile when acidic foods and most protein foods enter the duodenum from the stomach. This is even more the case if the food is high in fat. The body uses the bile salts contained in bile to emulsify the fat and facilitate its digestion. Once the bile salts have done their job and left the emulsified fat for intestinal absorption, they travel on down the intestine. Most of them are reabsorbed in the small section of the small intestine (ileum) and carried back to the liver. Once in the liver the bile salts are collected again in the bile and secreted into the duodenum.

Diminished bile salts concentration in the bile causes gallstones and leaves large amounts of fats undigested, this is hazardous to the intestinal environment. Gallstones in the gallbladder may contain cholesterol, calcium, pigments such are bilirubin, bile salts, water mucus, toxins, bacteria, and sometimes dead parasites.

“Gallstones  in the liver and gallbladder continuously block the liver’s bile ducts, …thus prevent(ing) the necessary amounts of bile from reaching the intestines” (1). Lack of sufficient bile will interfere with:

  • The digestion of food
  • Elimination of waste
  • Detoxification of harmful substances in the blood
  • Maintenance of the nervous and endocrine systems and all other parts of the body

Gallstones are ‘sticky’ hardened bile

As we have seen in previous blogs, gallstones are a lifestyle problem. Food toxins and food chemicals, heavy metals, drugs, etc all can add up and increase toxicity in the body. These toxins have to be detoxified in the liver,  and leave the liver via bile. Too many of these toxins will not only overload the liver’s detoxification abilities, but also the  bile system. Bile then can become ‘sticky’ and saturated with its unabsorbed constituents. Since they cannot be filtered, they begin to harden, which is what gallstones are.

In the same way, a diet high in processed carbohydrates will force the liver to manufacture extra cholesterol. In normal circumstances cholesterol is dissolved in bile, but when there is too much, it can precipitate out of the bile solution and come out as crystals, causing gallstones.

“Because these stones are congealed clumps of bile or organic matter, they are practically ‘invisible’ to x-rays, ultrasonic technologies and CT. Only when excessive amounts of cholesterol-based stones, or other clumps of fat, block the bile ducts of the liver may an ultrasound test reveal what is generally referred to as ‘fatty liver’…A dilation of bile ducts caused by larger and denser stones or by clusters of stones may be detected more readily through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)” (1). In the case of the gallbladder, tests can more easily detect these hardened stones with X rays or ultrasound. (1)

Gallstones can cause diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts

Gallstones can be very painful, condition known as ‘biliary colic’. Gallstones can also cause irritation and inflammation of the lining of the gallbladder and bile ducts, condition known as ‘cholecystitis’. Ulceration of the tissues between the gallbladder and the duodenum or colon is also common and is known as ‘fistula formation and fibrous adhesions’.

Gallstones can cause many diseases of the liver

“A healthy liver and immune system  are perfectly able to destroy viral material…however, when large amounts of gallstones are present, the liver becomes congested and toxic.” According to the author Andreas Moritz, all liver diseases are preceded by extensive bile duct obstruction caused by gallstones. Gallstones distort the liver lobules, subsequently, blood circulation to and from these lobules and the cells of which they are composed, becomes increasingly difficult. Under these conditions, the liver cells have to cut down bile production and nerve fibers become damaged. Prolonged suffocation due to the presence of stones eventually damages or destroys liver cells and their lobules. Fibrous tissue gradually replaces damaged cells, causing  further obstruction and an increase in pressure  on the liver’s  blood vessels. If the regeneration of the liver cells does not keep pace with this damage, liver cirrhosis is imminent.

As opposed to liver cirrhosis, liver failure can be reversed once the cause for blockage is removed, whether it is alcohol, drugs or gallstones. Liver failure occurs when cell suffocation is so severe that the liver’s vital functions cannot be carried on. Once the cause is removed, cells grow again and the liver can return to normal.

Acute hepatitis results when whole groups of liver cells begin to die off. Because gallstones harbor large quantities of viral material, this can invade and infect liver cells, causing cell degenerative changes. As gallstones increase in number and size and as more cells become infected and die, entire lobules begin to collapse and blood vessels begin to develop kinks. This greatly affects blood circulation to the remaining liver cells. The extent of the damage that these changes have on the liver and its overall performance largely depends on the degree of obstruction caused by the gallstones in the liver bile ducts. Cancer of the liver only occurs after many years of progressive occlusion of the liver bile ducts.” (1)

When the movement of bile through the bile channels (canaliculi) is blocked, and the liver cells can no longer conjugate and excrete bile pigment (bilirubin) there is a buildup in the bloodstream of both bile and the substances from which it is made. As ‘bilirubin’ begins to build up in the blood, it stains the skin, causing the characteristic color.

Gallstones can also harbor many live viruses. Some of these break free and enter the blood, condition  known as ‘chronic hepatitis’.

What other consequences can we find for the presence of gallstones?

The liver loses its ability to detoxify any harmful substances in the blood: chloroform, alcohol , drugs, etc. The presence of these toxins can cause the body to develop hypersensitivity to these toxic substances. Many allergies stem from such conditions of hypersensitivity

The liver cannot deliver the proper amounts of nutrients and energy to the right places in the body at the right time. This upsets the delicate balance in the body, known as ‘homeostasis’,  leading to disruption of its systems and stress on its organs. A clear example of such a disturbed balance is an increased concentration of the endocrine hormones estrogen and aldosterone in the blood. These hormones, produced both in men and women, are responsible for the correct amount of salt and water retention. These hormones may not be sufficiently broken  down  and detoxified. Their high concentration in the blood causes  tissue swelling and water retention  which causes toxins and harmful waste matter to accumulate in various parts of the body and further congests the pathways of circulation and elimination.

Gallstones interfere with digestion and increase toxicity

Gallstones in the liver and gallbladder drastically reduce the secretion of bile, which weakens the ability of pancreatic enzymes to digest carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and prevents the small intestine from absorbing fats, calcium and vitamin K. Vitamin K, as we have seen, is used by the liver to produce the compounds responsible for the clotting of the blood.  In case of poor vitamin K absorption, hemorrhagic disease, heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer may occur.

Calcium is also essential for bone and teeth, coagulation of the blood, muscle contraction and some other vital activities. Poor bile secretion can undermine the uptake of calcium, vitamins A, E and D. Vitamin A in low levels can damage the epithelial cells of all the organs, blood vessels, and lymph vessels. Vitamin A is also important for eyesight and to reduce microbial infection.

What is more, and as we have seen in previous blogs, undigested food tends to ferment in the small and large intestines. In order to speed up the process of decomposition, they attract a great number of bacteria. The breakdown products and the  excretions produced by these bacteria are very toxic, all of which irritates the mucus lining (the body’s main line of defense against disease causing agents). These toxins also impair the body’s immune system, mainly located in the intestines. When the small and large intestines are burdened with a great amount of toxins, different digestive disorders  can occur like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

All of these situations we have listed can lead to complex diseases such as congestive heart failure. This will be explained fully in part 2.

References:

(1) Moritz, Andreas. The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse: An All-natural, At-home Flush to Purify and Rejuvenate Your Body. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses, 2007. Print.

(2) http://femsre.oxfordjournals.org/content/29/4/625.full

(3) https://hackyourgut.com/2016/11/11/the-most-important-thing-to-know-if-you-have-ibs/