Pain, Pain Go Away
This paper chronicles my triumph over fibromyalgia and joint pain through dietary changes. Once you see what was eliminated and why, you should have a much better understanding of what could be driving your pain through lowering your normal threshold. Some of these you are familiar with, others may surprise you.
Pain, Pain Go Away!
By Dogtor J.
© 2003 DogtorJ.com
“You know. You are really turning in a wimp, man. Haha!”, my golf buddies were starting to say as I moaned and groaned through my early morning stretches on the driving range. “How old are you again?” Some days I really wondered whether I had fallen asleep like Rip Van Winkle and awakened a very old man.
I was only forty-three years old but I felt ninety most days as I got out of bed first thing in the morning. Morning stiffness was a horrible understatement, especially when it came to swinging a driver at 7:00 AM. The pain relievers that I took a couple of hours earlier took the edge off, but only sheer determination to beat this game we call golf kept me going most days. Yes, my buddies were ten years my junior and I earned the moniker wily old veteran through practice and persistence but with a lot of help from the pharmaceutical industry. I was an over-the-counter drug junkie, downing ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other NSAIDS like candy while paying little attention to the actual dosage recommendations some days just to get through the round. When that didn’t cut it, I dipped into my own hospitals supply of cortisone and started mixing things up like a burned out old Hollywood movie star or retired athlete. The pain had me on the ropes.
Accompanying this pain was a strange sense of fogginess that came and went over the day. Some mornings I would almost blank out over a putt, totally losing my concentration and even my view of the ball. I would have to stop in the middle of a shot routine, gather my thoughts and try again, sometimes successfully and at other times with dismal results.
But like clockwork, at 10:30 in the morning, the fog would lift from my brain, the concentration would return, and I would start to shoot the lights out as we loved to say. Hey, what time is it. I think the old man has finally woken up. They would seem to get a real kick out of this cyclical phenomenon that was becoming real torment to me. Some days I would decide to skip my recreational obsession altogether, making up some lame excuse to not subject myself to the brutality of an ugly round of flogging. Yes, on certain days I felt that I really was playing it backwards.
It was strange though. I would always go to bed with much enthusiasm about the next days round, chomping at the bit to see if the practice I had put in was going to pay off. But, somewhere between breakfast and arriving at the course, the bottom would fall out of my zest and my focus. It was truly a frustrating recurrent day mare.
I went so far as to make an appointment with a psychiatrist. Upon returning from that meeting, I reported to my best friend that the doctor had diagnosed me as suffering from depression. Bob just laughed and said, Depression? That’s ridiculous. You are the happiest person I know. Depression? Right!. And that is how I felt, too. How could that be? Depression? What is that all about? I would ponder this endlessly in my down time. It didn’t make sense yet, some how, it did. So, I launched into a study of depression as any inquiring young doctor would do, right?
Little did I know that the answer would come in the form of a revelation and would be so simple that it would absolutely astound me and those around me. However, I would have to wait a number of years for the complete puzzle to be solved. But, when it came together, it fit like the pieces of an intricate mosaic and the outcome would be just as beautiful.
There was a new syndrome on the rise in America, one with mixed reviews and numerous explanations. This condition that was reaching nearly epidemic proportions was known as fibromyalgia-chronic fatigue syndrome. It had a multitude of symptoms associated with it and almost as many names and proposed mechanisms behind it, ranging from hypochondria to food allergies. Books were being written while afflicted housewives (the principle group affected) were being looked upon as bored women seeking attention. Since depression nearly always accompanied the pain, the psyche of these poor victims was always in question. After all, only one in ten people with this zephyr of an illness were men. It had to be in their head, didn’t it? Well, they were partly right. It was in their head but only because that is where the brain and its pain center are located.
Jumping ahead now, the aforementioned medical revelation came in an odd but magnificent form. My brother was suffering from a serious and elusive medical condition that had him doubled over with abdominal pain and which was accompanied by severe anemia and rapid weight loss. The attending physicians were ready to open him up to find the cancer that we all had deduced was there when an Email appeared on his computer that would change the course of my entire family’s history, perhaps even yours. Rob brought this Email to my office for his doctor brother to read and the revelation began.
What I held in my hand was the answer to a riddle; the key to a safe; the correct program that would allow a stalled computer to run at lightning speed, doing things it had never been able to do before. It was a page from www.celiac.com describing an obscure syndrome known as celiac disease: gluten-intolerance, with gluten being the main protein complex in wheat, barley, and rye. On that page of information was listed every chronic symptom I had ever experienced. Posted were my intestinal problems, insomnia, pain syndromes, depression, and much more. Nearly fifteen common symptoms were listed that I possessed, right down to the minute derriere I possessed. Yes, gluteal wasting in children was listed and I was one of those guys who needed a fat wallet and two handkerchiefs, as George Carlin would joke, to keep from being laughed at by other groups with normal rear ends.
My mental computer had been booted up and was starting to smoke a bit. Rob and I had brainstorming sessions, comparing historical medical notes and theorizing how certain idiopathic conditions could fall in line with this concept. We studied celiac disease intensively and it became a household term as it turned out to be a problem with most of the men in my family. (A more detailed description of this condition can be found in my main paper, The Answer, on my site www.dogtorj.com.)
I committed to the elimination of wheat from my diet that fateful day in my office, that day on which Rob handed me the catalyst for a chain reaction of atomic proportion.
Within one month of eliminating all gluten, my fibromyalgia of nearly two years duration had disappeared. It was a miracle but an explainable one. Suddenly I was playing thirty-six holes of golf pain-free and even waking up the next morning without significant stiffness. My concentration on the golf course was becoming laser-like and the scores reflected that. My buddies were in trouble as the wily veteran was making a big comeback.
Round One- M.S.G.
The components of this restorative process are complex but very understandable. What I quickly came to understand was that the foods that are bad for us are so in a number of ways. The trouble foods such as the grains have an array of ingredients that work in concert to bring about the deterioration of health in people and their pets. First of all, I learned that MSG (monosodium glutamate) is made from two “natural” sources, wheat and soy. Most people now know that MSG has some serious side effects, especially in those with pain syndromes and chronic gastrointestinal disturbances. Migraine sufferers will quickly testify to this fact, which is supported by the myriad of websites dedicated to the stamping out of all MSG from their diet. These sites, run by justifiably paranoid pain sufferers, contain exhaustive lists of safe and forbidden foods and are aimed at educating their fellow men of the evils of this pain-inducing ingredient.
How does monosodium glutamate cause pain? This is easily understood by examining the common usage of this amino acid in the food industry. Most people know that MSG is a flavor enhancer. This amino acid is a neurostimulant and works by stimulating the open-ended nerve endings in the taste buds thereby making them more sensitive. Subsequently, as food passes over these sensitized taste buds, the sensation of taste is amplified and sent to the brain. Simply put, the food tastes better.
But, what happens when MSG enters the bloodstream and goes to that little nerve in your head called your brain? More specifically, what happens when it reaches that specialized area of the brain known as the pain center? Oh oh. It is likely that this area would become more sensitized as well, isn’t it? That is exactly what happens. The MSG reaches the neurons of the brain and those in the pain center and stimulates them just as they did the taste buds. However, the problem does not end here. We know from studying Lou Gehrig’s Disease that glutamate is neurotoxic, even neuro-lethal to coin a term. In this condition, also known as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), glutamate levels build up at the neuronal synapse, reach a toxic level, and actually kill the adjacent neuron. This is the described and accepted pathomechanism of this condition. Why the levels reach this neuro-lethal level is the principle remaining question. I believe that it results from the individuals inability to create the necessary reducing enzyme systems that would keep this from happening. That is logical. But why the enzyme systems are not in place and why it is a progressive condition often striking in late adulthood are the fascinating aspects of this condition. These elements play right into the subject of this paper as well as The Answer.
“There’s Glue in my Food!”
The thinking person has to be asking, Well, if this MSG is so bad, then why doesn’t it affect everyone negatively and to the same degree. This is an excellent question and one with an answer, I am glad to say. If the reader has read either Idiopathic Epilepsy- The Dietary Solution or The Answer on my website, then they are well-versed in this theory of mine concerning the glue contained in the problem foods and the harm it does to our digestion. In summary, the foods that do the most harm…the wheat, cow milk products, and soy…are also used to make industrial adhesives. The gluten from wheat, the casein from cow milk, and the soy protein are all used to make various glues. Soy protein, for example, is used to make the adhesive that fastens your rear-view mirror to your windshield. Whoa!
These glues then leave the stomach after ingestion despite our body’s valiant attempt to break them down by adding excessive acid to the digestive process. Yes, the reader gets a bank-shot here by learning that heartburn is primarily caused by the stomachs attempt to break down this glue by literally dumping acid into the stomach. With 60-70% of the American diet being wheat and dairy alone and with soy coming into the diet in a big way, it should be no wonder why antacids top the list of over the counter and prescription drugs sold. If we eliminated these foods from our diet (as I have done) there would be no such thing as acid reflux disease. We also wouldn’t have to endure the commercials that throw it in our face by telling you that if you take their product then you can go eat whatever you want without fear of heartburn. What an insult to our intelligence….isn’t it? I certainly hope so.
The fact is that the heartburn is therapeutic while being a warning sign of things to come. Less glue reaches the stomach and your body is telling you…no, screaming at you…that you have made a big dietary blunder by eating what you have just eaten. This is also confirmed by the fact that the cells that produce the acid are histamine-receptor cells called H-2 receptors. Most people think allergies when they think histamine and they are right. The cells of the skin that produce histamine are H-1 receptors and are triggered when food and inhalant proteins reach them in high enough quantities to stimulate them into action. They then release histamine to produce protective measures and more warning signs such as nasal congestion, bronchial constriction, itching, and hives. It all has a purpose. (This is one of the primary purposes of this message, to remind people that our bodies do things for a reason and not because it is malfunctioning. This is critical for us to understand if we are going to take back our health.) The H2 receptors of the stomach react to the offending foods as if they sense the danger in their presence. Yes, they are that smart.
Unfortunately, the countermeasure of heartburn cannot completely destroy the glue, especially in the face of antacids (which are all antihistamines, aren’t they? Ranitidine, famotidine, and cimetidine are the common generic names of the most popular systemic antacids.). Therefore, the glue sticks to the first thing it comes to which are the duodenum and the tiny villi that line its length. These villi are very critical in that they are responsible for the absorption of all calcium, iron, iodine, vitamin C, B-complex, trace minerals (such as zinc, boron, magnesium, and manganese), as well as other vital nutrients.
In my other papers, I have described the duodenum as Pandora’s Box. Once we damage this crucial area of our intestinal tract, the lid comes of and the plagues are unleashed upon all of mankind. The reader only has to have a cursory knowledge of medicine to understand the ramifications of reduced calcium (osteoporosis), iron (iron-deficiency anemia, the number one nutritional deficiency world-wide), iodine (thyroid illnesses), vitamin C (immune system and skeletal problems), and the other critical nutrients that are involved in the formation of enzyme systems and normal organ function. It really is Pandora’s Box, isn’t it?
In our current application, the glue is bound to prevent the formation of the enzymes systems that serve to reduce the levels of glutamate in the bloodstream and the brain. This idea was well described in the epilepsy paper and served as the model for why some individuals actually have seizures from certain foods and food additives. Once the enzyme systems become inefficient, the symptoms begin to appear. The progressive nature of this biological phenomenon helps to answer those questions about variability in age of onset and severity of symptoms among the population. We are on a spectrum of affliction, ranging from the best to the worst. But, I am afraid that it is better described as a range from the best of the worst to the worst of the worst. With these trouble foods and the glue they contain, it is a matter of when they affect us, not if. This is partly determined by the degree of immune response the individuals immune system mounts to the glue.
I am a member of the worst of the worst club. Celiacs mount a serious immune response to the glue from the glue-ten. This is turn results in a critical situation known as villous atrophy. Rather than just having glue-coated villi, our delicate little finger-like projections into the duodenum are destroyed by the immune response. These damaged villi take six months to a full two years to recover once gluten is removed from the diet. There are some very good reasons for the range in recovery time, too. I believe that the principle reason for the spectrum (other than cheating on the diet) is that other foods do the same thing. Uh oh. What are they? you are probably asking. I hope so.
The good news is that there are only two others that significantly cause villous destruction. The bad news is what they are: cow milk (casein) and soy protein. Yes, the two most popular health foods are everything but, especially in the afflicted individual. What percentage are afflicted? would be a logical question. Unfortunately, we have to interpolate that data from what we do know. What is finally becoming more common knowledge is that celiac disease (gluten intolerance) is not a rare disorder afflicting only 1:5000 people as your doctor has been conventionally taught. The New England Journal of Medicine in February of 2000 labeled celiac disease as the most under diagnosed condition in the country, afflicting at least 1:250 Americans without their knowing it? Wow! But, the really bad news is that this too is an underestimate. Celiac authorities believe that the incidence is more realistically 1:30 Americans, if not higher. This is much more in line with the incidence in Europe, from where most of our ancestors originated. (How this came about if described in detail in The Answer.)
More bad news is that wheat is only the number two human (childhood) allergen according to the FDA. Cow milk is number one. (Soy is number four). So, if gluten intolerance arises primarily from wheat, the number two problem food, then what can we expect from the number one culprit, cow milk (casein)? What about from the latest health craze, soy, from which they make a super glue? Getting the picture?
I have established the glue problem in the intestine, probably ad nauseum. The malabsorption syndrome created by the glue keeps us from eliminating the neurostimulating amino acid glutamate from our system resulting in a toxic build-up of this potentially neuro-lethal chemical in our brain and peripheral nerves. In some individuals, this leads to seizures. In others, it creates migraines or peripheral neuropathies as in ALS. In most, it simply lowers the pain threshold by sensitizing the pain center of the brain to stimuli coming in from all over the body.
Imagine a pain center on crack cocaine. Everything is heightened and going a million miles an hour. MSG is the crack cocaine of glutamate sources. It is not only found in Chinese food and Mexican food, but is a common ingredient in over 70% of prepared foods, according to those paranoid migraine sufferer websites. It is there! Trust them (and me). But, the concentrated form of this naturally occurring amino acid is not our only source. This is the worst of news, I’m afraid.
Glutamate (and its evil twin, aspartate) are normally found in a wide variety of foods we eat every day. The list will amaze you. But, after the reader has gotten this far, the beauty of this knowledge immerges like a butterfly from a cocoon. The perfection of creation comes into view once again when we see that the foods that are bad for us in one way are bad for us in a multitude of ways and that they are screaming at us all along the way that they are just that. The foods that contain the highest levels of glutamate and aspartate are the grains, dairy, and SOY (and other related beans). Vegetables in general are very low in these neurostimulants as are potatoes. Meats and some nuts (e.g.peanuts), however, are quite high in glutamate and aspartate. I now believe it is the level of these neurostimulants in meat that give a carnivore like the cat the mental energy and stimulation it needs to survive more than the actual calories themselves. It might also explain how and why they take those cat naps that they can be aroused from so quickly to hunt or hide. Make sense?
So, the glue-containing foods are also the principle sources of the pain-producing amino acids. Amazingly, the number one allergen, cow milk, has two different ways of inducing pain. The casein is 20% glutamic acid by structure and is thereby a big source of pain. But cow milk is also rich in arachadonic acid, which is the precursor to prostaglandin, the chemical mediator of pain. To put it into terms that a layperson can appreciate, most non-prescription painkillers work by blocking the action of prostaglandin at the site of the injury or painful stimulus. Arachadonic acid is used to make that prostaglandin. So, as I joke with my clients, if you take your pain medication with a glass of milk you call it a draw. Therefore, we can see that the number one allergen is yelling at us through two different megaphones that it is the wrong thing to consume. This is of course verified by nasal congestion, asthma, depression and bloating we experience after eating it. Well, duh!
The depression we experience, that sleepiness after eating, comes from the formation of a morphine-like drug that our body actually creates during the digestive process. Because we are not cows with fore-stomachs that more thoroughly digest the milk and grains, we cannot break down casein completely. The result is the creation of long-chain polypeptides that are termed casomorphins. These substances saturate the brain over time and are responsible for a few minor issues such as depression after eating, caffeine addiction, food addictions, and even play a major role in autism. Not too minor, eh? But, how many readers (or even doctors) have heard these terms. I encourage people to look this up on the Internet.
Casomorphins are not the only substance of its kind. Not surprisingly, the number two human and pet allergen, wheat, has its own morphine called gliadorphin. This just makes sense, doesn’t it? The main food addictions are wheat-containing carbohydrates and cheese. Now the reader knows why. It also explains the phenomenon that occurred at the beginning of this paper: the depression and lack of concentration I experienced when I headed for the golf course after eating breakfast.
Following a typical meal of breakfast biscuits, donuts, cinnamon rolls, or cereal (a bowl of gliadorphins covered with casomorphins), I was a train wreck waiting to happen because the conductor was asleep at the wheel. That depression I was diagnosed with was little more than a brain saturated with legal drugs from wheat and milk. Every time I added more, I plummeted into a food-induced fog that would take about three to four hours to come out of. It was as predictable as rain…in retrospect especially, just like rain. It also explained the horrible reaction I had to the antidepressant that was prescribed for me.
Our body is an incredible piece of work and the following is another prime example. Once the neurons have been subjected to significant and chronic levels of the morphines from the food, they undergo a change described by neurologists as uploading. These critical brain cells have the ability to increase their level of sensitivity to overcome depressing stimuli if they need to. This will occur when the depressing item becomes a long-term problem. This concept explains narcotic addiction. Once the user has used or abused the narcotic substance long enough, the brain adapts to the use and either uploads, as in the case of depressants/downers, or downloads in the case of stimulants/uppers. In either case, the brain is searching for a normal state or equilibrium. The brains reality becomes altered by the long-term use of these substances, but when these chemicals are removed, the neurons immediately are affected by their absence. The first response is to tell the body that it needs more of what is missing. So, it calls out for more cocaine, more valium, more MSG (thus the Chinese food phenomenon), more carbs, more cheese, or even more sugar. All of these alter the neurons activity and its homeostasis.
While the neuron is up-loaded (sensitized) by the casomorphins and gliadorphins, some interesting reactions with day-to-day application occur. Not only does this explain why I had such a violent, manic reaction to a well-known (infamous, actually) stimulating antidepressant, it even explained the roller coaster ride I experienced with the most common stimulant of all, coffee. I would get jittery as the caffeine hit the uploaded neurons, then pass through a normal period, but then plunge into a post caffeine depression. It was very frustrating but quite common among my clients and colleagues as well. I learned to drink coffee slowly…and cold…titrating it over time between office calls. (Is this sounding familiar to anyone?)
What about pain? This article is about pain, remember?. Well, the uploaded neurons are more sensitive to a number of things, including painful stimuli. They also overreact to the glutamate from the foods just like they did to the caffeine from my coffee. It should then be no surprise that the foods that have both the morphines and the stimulants are the worst of the worst. Yes, this is true of epilepsy and the pain syndromes. This explains why there are many epileptics, according to one celiac authority, who have been controlled by eliminating wheat (and other gluten grains) and cow milk products from their diet. This has also been my experience with epilepsy in my canine patients.
This concept also explains why my fibromyalgia disappeared quickly when I eliminated wheat but began to recur as I increased my dairy consumption to compensate for the lack of calories in my diet. Yes, I did this in stages and I am glad of it, mainly for my clients and readers. I have always been a little pudgy so I avoided cheese on burgers and limited my ice cream consumption. But, when I removed all wheat from my diet, I felt entitled to eat more dairy products. Within a few months, my depression was returning, as was the pain. Even worse, my shoulders were hurting so much at night that they were keeping me awake. (As it turns out, this is a very common symptom in people with dairy issues.) Once I realized what was happening, I launched into my newest study of dairy (casein intolerance) and dropped all cow milk products from my diet. As a result, my shoulder pain abated in less than a month. I was becoming bulletproof… and excited.
The Third Plague
By this time, I was attempting to get all of my clients to eliminate all wheat and dairy products from their pets diet. Miracles started to happen, including the control of epilepsy. (This is beyond the scope of this paper and is covered completely in Idiopathic Epilepsy- The Dietary Solution on my Website DogtorJ.com.) Rapid resolution of seizures, skin problems, gastrointestinal disorders, depression, pain, and many other symptoms were occurring in startling numbers of pets (plus a few enlightened clients).
The idea of food allergies and food intolerances became my passion.
However, there was a third food to understand. This particular culprit would become what I now call the third plague. Many of you know by now that I am referring to soy. Why the third plague? As The Answer explains, soy is the third major mistake that man has made in his history of selecting foods to consume. The first was our European ancestors creation of common wheat. This was done around 400 AD and accomplished by early genetic engineering on the part of the Germanic tribes of the time. They took what I lovingly call Gods wheat and blended it with two weeds of the triticum family (a historical fact) and thereby introduced gluten into the wheat. Before that time, the gluten content of wheat was negligible. This was evidenced by the fact that when they broke bread in Biblical times, it literally broke like dry crackers. These ancestors of ours must have gotten tired of dry, brittle bread and desired a more workable dough. The results of this botany experiment are history, as well. Celiac disease broke out and wiped out multitudes of people, especially children, with unrelenting dysentery. This is just what the reader would expect now that they know the effects of gluten. (And, Oh yeah. The plague came out of hiding after 2000 years in about 500 AD and we plunged into the Dark Ages. Also historical fact. Coincidence? I think not.)
The second huge mistake was mans decision to jump from sheep and goat milk, the universal foster milks (no casein), to cow milk. This occurred between 1300 and 1500 AD, with the cow-based dairy industry being established in England around 1500 AD. And what happened? Son of a gun, the bubonic plague raised its ugly head again and wiped out 100,000 people in London alone, then spread through Europe. Another coincidence?
Now why is soy the third plague? They make a super glue out of the stuff, folks. Do you think we can repair automobiles with cow milk or wheat-based adhesives? Henry Ford made some of his plastic parts for his first car out of soy protein (another historical tidbit). Then, all one has to do is look at the ancient history of soy, the processing of soy to make it even safe to eat, and the ingredients of soy (toxic levels of estrogen, goitrogens, and GLUTAMATE) and the picture is clear. It is and will be the third plague and you don’t have to be a prophet to see that coming.
In our current application, soy is the worst of the worst in that it has the most powerful glue for the villi and has the highest glutamate levels of all of the other foods. Soy will bring on pain (and epilepsy) in epidemic proportions. It is already happening and we haven’t even begun to consume it in the quantity planned for us yet. The pet food industry is adding it to formulations every time we turn around and it is making its way into our foods every day. Just look in most convenience foods where food glue is required to act as a binding agent, as in granola bars. That used to be wheat glue. Now its soy protein. Six out of ten of the cat foods at the grocery store are now soy-based. Even one of the most popular and pure dog foods have added soy to their new, flag- ship food. I was shocked, but not surprised. (That is not really a contradiction in terms as it may appear. I know history and there is nothing new under the sun.)
(Man is shortsighted if nothing else. It took 9-11 for us to put locks on the cockpit doors. Are we really going to let this happen again? Or, are we going to understand this cycle of ignorance and actually beat this one to the punch? End of editorial.)
Glutamate’s Evil Twin
There is another monster out there waiting to consume the pain sufferer. He doesn’t cause villous atrophy but he does cause serious pain syndromes and even seizures. It is glutamates evil twin, aspartate. You know it as the active ingredient, aspartame, in diet drinks and sugar-free products. It, too, is a neurostimulant and can be neuro-lethal in certain concentrations. The proof of this creature’s existence is found in those stories written about aspartame syndrome, migraine headaches, and short-term memory loss.
Aspartame syndrome is a pain syndrome that occurs when the victim is consuming significant amounts of this chemical and experiencing pain, which later abates when the diet drinks and sugar-free products are eliminated. Once again, the reader is encouraged to put this in the search engine of a computer and read any one of a number of websites dedicated to this problem. However, the investigator will also come across an argument against aspartame that is incomplete and, I feel, a bit misleading. This is the formaldehyde theory.
Aspartame consists of three ingredients: aspartate (aspartic acid), phenylalanine, and methanol. When the temperature of methanol exceeds 86 degrees F, it is reported to turn to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, the poison found in fire ant stings. The obvious question is whether the quantity is sufficient to do harm. Apparently there are many who believe that there is enough to do serious harm, mimicking symptoms of MS. Those misguided souls who think that the methanol is the only culprit purport this as their sole argument against the product. But, the manufacturers of the product itself use this “ridiculous notion”, as they term it, as a defense. The truth is that the aspartate itself is also the enemy here…a HUGE culprit. Like its brother glutamate, it is a neurostimulant (one of the two normal ones in our brain) that is neurotoxic in the quantity in which we consume it. Six to eight diet drinks a day, therefore, is approximately is six to eight too many.
Is there more proof? Absolutely. What is that third ingredient doing in there? What in the world is phenylalanine? What is that warning on products containing this sweetener that talks about PKU (phenylketonurics)? The phenylalanine is another amino acid and serves a number of purposes in our body, one being pain moderation. Yes, it reduces or moderates pain. Hmmm. Lets get this straight. There is a substance in aspartame that stimulates pain and one that moderates pain. Makes one think that the manufacturer knew it was going to cause pain, doesn’t it? On top of that, there are a significant number of people that cant safely consume phenylalanine in that form. These are your PKU people, thus the warning. So lets get this straight. They thought it was going to cause enough problems that they would add a substance to the mix that would limit their own sales of something that they should want everyone to eat? Hmmm…, again. I think we’ve proven that aspartate causes pain. Lets move on.
The question then becomes whether there are any other major players in this pain game besides the glutamate, aspartate, and arachadonic acid previously covered. The answer is certainly yes and they all make sense once we understand how the pain center works.
I tell people in the exam room to look at their or their pets chronic pain two ways. When pain flares up, one of two things has happened. Either the painful part has been re-injured (or attacked again, in the case of immune-mediated arthritis) OR something has happened to the pain center of the brain, making it more sensitive. For some reason, we always want to focus on the former when in actuality; it is just as likely that the latter is the real issue here, especially in chronic pain. If a person or a pet has a bad lower back then certainly it could be re-injured but why doesn’t it hurt all of the time if it is that bad, especially if we have x-rays that show major changes there.
I started seeing an interesting pattern at my clinic a number of years ago. I began picking up on the seasonal nature of pain. Seasonal pain? I’ve never heard of such a thing. many have said. Well, when Buffy the Cocker comes in every November 13th for back pain four years in a row and never at any other time and she is one of many who suffer this impossible phenomenon, then one starts to wonder why this is occurring. (This will be covered in a minute. I thought I would throw that out to gain the sleepy or bored readers attention again.)
Back to the pain center we must go to get a clue. What affects that area? We have covered the neurostimulants, glutamate and aspartate. What about viruses? Could they do this? Certainly they can. Anyone can identify with the body aches associated with the flu. Why do they occur? Do they result from the direct effect of the virus on the painful tissue? Perhaps to an extent. But a better explanation lies in the effect the virus has on the pain center. It should be considered natural for the virus to cause the pain center to become more sensitive to pain from a protective mechanism stand point. Imagine an animal that picks up a virus and becomes transiently ill. That animal would then be best served if its brain told it to rest. It accomplishes this by causing fatigue, fever, and other symptoms while at the same time reinforcing the rest with body aches. Rest, rest is what it is saying. The chills generate a fever that helps to kill the virus. Thank goodness the animal doesn’t have access to fever reducers like we do. Their use is a major blunder on our part and one of my biggest soapboxes. (But, I wont get into it here. Read The Answer if you want that lecture.)
So, we have established that viruses would naturally lower the pain threshold of our brain to enforce rest. But what about chronic latent viruses, like Epstein-Barr? Yes, they have been incriminated in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and rightfully so. But, it is not as simple as it seems. 50% of our kids have Epstein-Barr infections by age five, according to the medical literature. I think we can assume that the rest of us get this critter later on in life. But only a small (and rising) percentage of the population has the associated severe pain and fatigue. This is due to the fact that the majority of us have this guy under control. Most of our immune systems have Epstein-Barr under their thumbs, so to speak. As long as we stay healthy, this remains the case. BUT, if our immune system goes down for any reason, this opportunistic virus is ready to come up on stage. This commonly happens during the stressful time of the teenage years while everything else in the world is happening to us.
But as adults, this and other viruses that have been latent in our body also affect us. The varicella virus, which causes chicken pox when were young and later rises up as shingles when were older (hopefully much older), is another glaring example. They come out to play when our immune system is away. Epstein-Barr has not only been associated with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue but also at least three forms of cancer: two forms of leukemia and one of lymphoma. Oh oh.
This is very bad news but can serve to motivate people to start doing the right thing. The fact is that the whole process is interrelated. The immune system starts going down as a result of being over-worked and underpaid. This idea is elaborated on in The Answer. The same malabsorption syndrome that is blocking the formation of glutamate-reducing enzyme systems is the one that is underpaying the immune system. The inadequate absorption of vitamin C and other immune-related nutrients leads to the ultimate crash in our immunity. On top of that, the amount of work we have to do to control the mayhem in our intestine is over-taxing. The immune system then goes into safe mode in an attempt to save the host, forming antibodies to other invaders like pollens, house dust, cat dander, and mold. Yes, the inhalants are a secondary problem and the immune reaction to them only occurs once the food issues reach a critical level. I believe this down to my socks because this explanation provides the best answers to why allergies form, why only certain people develop them, and why there is such a spectrum of degrees of affliction. Also the age of onset of inhalant allergies is so variable and this concept helps to put that issue to rest as well. The malabsorption syndrome is a progressive condition and the results are as individual as each and every person (and their diet). This is why celiac sufferers have a myriad of symptoms and celiac disease is known as the great mimic. No two celiacs seem to have the same exact symptoms.
But why the seasonal pain? The reader has waited long enough. The answer is not as simple as one, two, three but it is easy to understand. For something to happen only at one time, there must be something unique about that time. This is elementary, I know, and almost an insult to the reader to point that out. But, what happens in November where I live? The wind starts coming persistently out of the north. What? What does the north wind have to do with anything? is the usual response. Where I live, the chemical plants are placed north and south of the city. The reason for this is obvious. The prevailing winds are from the west and help to blow pollutants away from the residents of the city. I would imagine that this is part of the planning of any industrialized city in this country. This just makes sense.
A short trip onto an EPA Website confirmed my suspicions. I was experiencing a number of headaches in the winter months and they occurred just about every time the north wind blew. I started quizzing my clients and found a number of them that experience the same thing. Once on the air quality sites, I found the answer. Benzene and his buddies were having a party in my brain when the north wind blew. Benzene causes headaches, dizziness, and pain (oh, and brain tumors and leukemia, too). The EPA Website listed 32 different chemicals and their individual effects. I will not bore the reader with the list, but it is worth looking into in your area.
Could pollution be responsible for seasonal pain? Perhaps not alone, but in combination with other factors, certainly. Remember this: Our body, especially the immune system, is crisis oriented. It actually takes a fair amount for our body to overtly react to an insult. This spares us of being sick all of the time even though we are subject to sickening things at every moment, such as allergens, preservatives, the wrong foods, viruses, resident bacteria, etc. etc. Our body is designed to take a licking and keep on ticking.
We can live with one half of one kidney, one fourth of our liver, greatly reduced lung function, significant anemias, and recurrent autoimmune conditions. As allergy sufferers, we have allergy attacks but they pass. We have an MS attack but it is transient, until the reason for the attack returns (this too is covered in The Answer). Like our military, the immune system has to have a really good reason to launch an assault. This is crisis orientation. Things build up and up until along comes that straw that breaks the camels back.
In the fall, medical Armageddon begins. At least it is the battle of Helms Deep, for you Tolkien fans. The days get shorter, thanks in part to the insane ritual of changing our clocks. The weather gets colder, thanks to that north wind. The fall allergens kick in as the seasons change. The ambient temperature drop cools our nasal passages allowing opportunistic viruses to invade our normally well-protected 98.6-degree body. The SAD (seasonal affected disorder) people start getting stressed out, as do the people who lost loved ones last year or the years before to this recurrent battle. The Holiday Season stresses us out even more and the diets go in the can. Makes you wonder how we even survive.
Seasonal pain? Pick one of the above and relate it to the physiology of the now more familiar pain center and even the novice can make a connection. Throw all of them at that pain center at once and it should be truly amazing that our bodies can handle it at all. What a magnificent creature we are.
I know that many readers have been longing for the word above, summary. But, this topic is complex and deserves more time than even this long dissertation has given it. Those familiar with my style of writing either love it or hate it. But, hey. A leopard cant change its spots. I try to make these papers conversational just like my exam room lectures. I have been giving this particular talk for over a year. (So, for you pharmaceutical hit men, it’s too late.)
Pain is no laughing matter, though. People can put up with a lot, but they get tired of pain. Suicide headaches as cluster migraines are often called didn’t get their name because they tickle. Fibromyalgia, spinal pain, joint pain, muscle aches, and even pain associated with routine illnesses were never meant to be that debilitating. We were never meant to go through life in that kind of discomfort. Certainly there would be accidents and injuries. Surely we would become ill and more delicate as we age. But, having eighteen year olds with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia was never meant to be. Hearing about three nineteen-year-olds with shingles in the past year makes me crazy, absolutely crazy. Why? Because I know what that really means now. So do you.
The demise of our health is so predictable in retrospect (there’s that conflict in terms again) that I want to cry. We survived two major plagues. Will we survive a third? Our bodies are made perfectly but we have challenged their abilities to the max. 60-70% of our diet is made up of the number one and number two (childhood) allergens. I have more bad news. You don’t outgrow allergies. They just morph into something different. Its called adaptation. Were very good at it. Sure, we cant sit here and watch our skin repair before our eyes like some Hollywood alien. But to me, five to seven days for healing to take place is pretty impressive. Sure, we get pounded eventually with some serious illness but not before we were afforded many, many warning signs in most cases. (Yes, you can all look forward to my next paper, Warning signs- How you should have known what you have now was coming based on what you had before. Catchy title, huh?) Its true. I had twenty years of warning signs called allergies before the second set hit: the irritable bowel, insomnia, headaches, heartburn, and fibromyalgia. So, I tell people, If you don’t like the first set of warning signs, you’re really not going to like the next set. And if you don’t like them, you’re really not going to like what they are warning you of!)
Pain is a warning sign. It can be simply a warning that you have injured a part. In the case of musculoskeletal injury, pain is meant to be there to protect you and the compromised part. With gastrointestinal pain, it is there to warn you that you have done something wrong in your diet or that there is malfunction of that system. Once pain becomes chronic, then it becomes particularly important to examine the possibility that we have done something seriously wrong to our pain center or to our immune system. Now the reader has a laundry list to check.
Glutamate? Check. Aspartame? Check. Too much wheat (grains), dairy, or soy in our diet? Check. Too much sugar, caffeine, or chocolate? (Oh oh. Did you think I forgot about that last one?) Check, check, and check. Eating lots of peanuts? (loaded with glutamate and aspartate) How about hydrogenated oils? (See The Answer) What time of year is it and which way is the wind blowing? Hard to believe, but check.
In the case of some pain sufferers, recovery will be as simple as identifying one main culprit and eliminating it. Aspartame is a good example. Soy supplements and dairy substitutes are another. I had a woman who was able to come off a long-term pain medication recently by simply dropping all soy products. It can be that easy.
In others, especially those in the worst of the worst category, the plan of attack is much more complex. The good news is that, unlike immune-mediated conditions, pain can often be managed successfully by simply cutting back some of the offenders. Reducing the total amounts of the pain generators may produce astounding results. Granted, not everyone can be as obsessive as I have become and eliminate all wheat, dairy, soy, most corn, most candy and cookies, and all hydrogenated oils from their diet. But, if someone wants to become bullet proof, there are more ways than simply buying a vest.
In-vest in this concept. Learn more about what is written here and what is going into your body. You wont be disappointed. It is time for all of us to get out of the fast-food mentality, both in nutrition and in our approach to life’s problems. It will do us in.
The best news? You have your health destiny more in your hands than you have ever believed, certainly more than you’ve ever been told. This includes the control of your pain. Take that control. Only you can.
© 2003 DogtorJ.com
The following link http://www.doggieconnection.com/recipe/info/index.html will get you to the food charts that I use to look up the amino acids glutamate and aspartate in suspect foods. For example, recently my wife started eating peanuts and raisins as a late night television snack. Almost immediately, she started having very restless sleep and was complaining about soreness in her muscles and back. A quick trip to the chart showed very high levels of glutamate and asparate in peanuts.
I’m just glad that my canine patients don’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and down it with a big glass of milk like our ADHD kids do. Let’s see: wheat bread (with gliadorphins and plenty of glutamate and aspartate), peanut butter (LOTS more glutamate and asparate), jelly (“sugar gel”), and all of it washed down with cow milk (casomorphins and plenty of glutamate. Oh yeah. Don’t forget the arachadonic acid for you pain sufferers).
Hmmm….. It does all make sense, doesn’t it?
Foods rich in glutamate and aspartate:
1) Grains: Wheat, barley, and oats are highest. Corn and rice are lower than the previous three but higher than potatoes.
2) Dairy Products: All Cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, PARMESAN) are very high. Casein is very concentrated in cheese and is 20% glutamic acid by composition.
3) Beans: Soy, Pinto, lima, black, navy, and lentils
4) Seeds: Sunflower, pumpkin, etc.
5) Peanuts: Very high, as are cashews, pistachios, and almonds. I have more detailed charts on the site to show exact values for the various nuts. Everything in moderation applies when eating nuts of any kind. So, I do not recommend you reach for nuts when you are really hungry unless you can stop after a few. Nuts are very good for you..in moderation. For example, seven almonds a day gives you what you need .
6) Diet drinks: Primary source of aspartate (aspartame)
7) Prepared foods, soups: 70% of prepared foods and many soups have MSG
8) Meats: Note- All meats are naturally rich in glutamate and aspartate. Lamb (and eggs) are the lowest, while rabbit and turkey are the highest.
However, I believe that the amount in a normal serving of meat should not be enough to cause problems. I think that it is all of the other “unnatural” sources when combined with the meats that are causing the problems.
One of my newest concerns is the presence of glutamate in the flesh of grain-fed animals, especially chickens, turkeys, and cattle. This is a topic of discussion on the celiac forums and we are now believing that this is a real concern and could explain why some celiacs are not responding to elimination diets. Catfish are also grain fed.
The fact is that 60-70% of the American Diet is wheat and dairy (with heavy emphasis on cheese). This combined with the amount of artificial sweeteners being consumed and the addition of SOY has led this country into an epidemic of pain syndromes, including fibromyalgia. Epilepsy is definitely on the rise in pets and the combination of wheat and soy in pet foods is playing a huge role. I am seeing first time epileptic dogs within three weeks of starting such diets.
Food low in glutamate and aspartate:
4) Lamb and eggs are relatively low.
5) Tree nuts (e.g. pecans, walnuts, macadamias) NOTE: These are relatively low when compared to peanuts and cashews. I have more detailed charts on the site to show exact values. Pecans, for example, have half the amount of glutamate that peanuts have but that is still quite a bit. Again, everything in moderation applies when eating nuts of any kind. I do not recommend you reach for nuts when you are really hungry unless you can stop after a few. Nuts are very good for you..in moderation. 7 almonds a day gives you what you need .
I hope you enjoyed your time here and got something important from your stay. It is my goal to help all of mankind navigate through the jungle of medical information now available on the Internet and find the truth about the origins of what we call “disease” as well as discover the natural solutions for these conditions.
We do have our health’s destiny in our own hands more than we’ve ever imagined, certainly more than most have ever been told. Think naturally and the answer will come.