How to Start Treating Anything
How to Start Treating Just About Anything
by Dogtor J.
The following is another work in progress. I will be updating this section as my studies continue.
I have been successfully treating pets with epilepsy using diet changes alone since 2001. The results have been as astounding. At first, I knew very little about how and why the response could be so dramatic when a patient was placed on this restricted diet. But over the past 5 years, I have come to understand many of the pathomechanisms of food intolerance as well as other secondary factors that lead to this “syndrome” we call idiopathic epilepsy. I have also been pursuing research into supplements and other auxiliary therapies as well as helpful diagnostic testing in an attempt to insure and speed recovery.
But as I began doing more and more consults. I found myself making the exact same recommendations, which should not be surprising once we see that the mechanisms behind what we call “disease” are very much the same. In fact, most of what we term diseases are really long-term symptoms that have persisted because we never got to the root of what caused the symptom in the first place. Is “inflammatory bowel disease” really a disease? Should we use that term when most who suffer from this condition can be very successfully managed with a diet change. Who would have thought that certain foods caused IBS and heartburn, right??? I am still amazed at the fact that diet is not thoroughly examined in every single case.
So, here is my approach to disease, whether it is simple allergies or stage 3 cancer. The first order of business is to closely examine what was involved in our progressive slide from health to ill-health. We now know that food intolerance (e.g. celiac disease or dairy intolerance) is a huge factor, if not the single-biggest factor in this slide. The cascade of events that follows the development of an intolerance to one of the “big 4”- gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy, soy or corn- is an incredible thing to behold. This paper outlines that chain reaction.
We then have to supply the body with the nutrients (proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, minerals, etc.) it needs to function properly and we are off and running. The next order of business is to identify and treat any secondary conditions that have developed (e.g. hypothyroidism, Graves Disease, liver disease, Lyme disease, mitochondrial disorders, heavy metal intoxications, etc.).
Once we have eliminated the (now) obvious culprits and done more of the right things, we should be able to realize recoveries we once thought impossible or improbable. This is already happening. Believe some of those anecdotal stories of people “curing themselves” of MS, lupus, ADHD, epilepsy, and even cancer. Believe those mothers of autistic children in the Success Stories section of www.gfcfdiet.com who claim to witnessed miracles in their children once they were placed on elimination diets. Miracles are happening every single day when individuals have done enough of the right thing.
How much is “enough”? That depends on the individual. Some are much farther dowen this road than others. Thw worst of the worst are those who were born affected- the offspring of the fast food generation. Yes, the prenatal effects of food intolerance and chemical exposire can be immense. But much of the damage can be mitigated by doing the right thing as soon as possible.
It starts with knowledge. I hope the following outline helps.
1) Immediately institute The G.A.R.D. (The glutamate-aspartate restricted diet: http://www.dogtorj.net/id16.html ) This is the key. We want to rapidly eliminate those foods that do direct harm to our ability to absorb nutrients. The “big 4”- gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy, soy and corn- can all cause the serious damage to our small intestine’s villi seen in celiac disease. This elimination also reduces the amount of the two non-essential, neurologically-active amino acids, glutamate and aspartate that are so vital in the role of “exitotoxin-related disorders (epilepsy, ADHD/autism, fibromyalgia, migraines, MS, Lou Gehrig’ss, etc.). This link goes into detail.
a) Avoid all gluten (wheat, barley, rye, and all forms of wheat including bulgar, durum/durham, graham, spelt/ spelta, kamut/kawmut, or triticale).
On the other hand, the healthy, gluten-grain-substitutes are tapioca, sorghum, millet, oats (although many are contaminated with gluten being harvested along side of gluten grains), rice (varieties), potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, buckwheat, quinoa, peas (although they can cross-react with soy), amaranth, and flax. However, all of the grains are rich in glutamic acid and and even those that are gluten-free should be avoided or eaten sparingly until excitotoxin-related symptoms are under control.
b) Avoid all casein (cow milk products, including milk, cheese, and even some non-dairy creamers)
c) Avoid all soy (Read labels. It’s everywhere)
d) Avoid all corn
e) Avoid all MSG (60% of prepared foods have it, including soups). Here is a great reference: http://www.msgtruth.org/
f) Avoid all aspartame (Nutrasweet) and other artificial sweeteners (e.g. sucralose. For more info, Google “aspartame syndrome” and “Splenda sickness”.) The avoidance of aspartame is absolutely critical.
g) Severely limit (or avoid altogether) the consumption of the bean and lentil family (navy, black, lima, garbanzo, soy), which are rich in glutamic acid and may cross react immunologocally with soy. Once symptoms are completely under control, some of these may be reintroduced of desired but observe closely for recurrence of those symptoms.
h) Limit or curtail the consumption of nuts and seeds (especially peanuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios) until symptoms are under control due to their high glutamate content. But, as with the bean family, once symptoms are controlled, they can be reintroduced. For example, walnuts are a very healthy source of protein, omegas, some B complex, and magnesium while being some of the lowest in glutamate.
i) Avoid all high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a known neurotoxin. It also wreaks havoc on blood sugar control.
j) Limit or, at least, drastically reduce consumption of refined sugar. Sugar is in direct competition with vitamin C by white blood cells and excess amounts will prevent uptake of this important vitamin by those cells.
K) Do eat lots of “living” (non-processed) foods- plenty of fruits, berries, vegetables and healthy protein sources (eggs, preferably organic meats- poultry, lamb, buffalo, venison, and beef from respectable sources). If the individual is a vegetarian, I would humbly suggest that eggs be included in the diet (ovo-vegetarianism). Eggs are as close to nature’s perfect food as it gets, as they contain the most biologically available protein as well a omega threes, D3, B12, trace minerals, magnesium, and lecithin- an important phospholipid for the brain.
For the dog eating commercial pet foods, I used to recommend the IVD/Royal Canin potato-based diets until they added soybean oil to their formulas. I now recommend the Dick Van Patten Natural Balance line or those foods listed on my approved list. Home-prepared or raw diets that exclude the “big 4” (gluten, dairy, soy and corn) are even more ideal. For a more complete listing of foods that do no contain these potentially harmful ingredients, please read DogtorJ’s Food Handout found here: http://dogtorj.tripod.com/id5.html. Remember, for epilepsy the most effective commercial dry diets have been the potato and sweet potato-based foods due to the high levels of glutamic acid in grains.
For people who are interested in pursuing this course, it is “simple”…but certainly not easy. But results can be swift and dramatic. You can get an idea of how I have accomplished this by reading my paper What in the World Do I Eat found here: http://dogtorj.tripod.com/id4.html. You can also read more about the benefits of this diet in The G.A.R.D. and Pain Management sections of this site.
For motivation, you can find a thread of testimonials here: http://lab-retriever.net/board/showthread.php?t=47643 . Although this is a breed forum for Labradors retrievers, the testimonies listed include both veterinary and human success stories.
Once recovery is well-established, an individual may find that they are able to resume eating more beans and nuts as long as they are clearly not legume intolerant or allergic to these foods. The avoidance of the “big 4” (especially gluten, casein, and soy) should continue indefinitely. Above all, be strict and consistent!
2) Begin vitamin and mineral supplementation. Remember that the “big 4” foods have been potentially causing the malabsorption of calcium, iron, iodine, B complex, C, and trace minerals such as zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, and more by damaging the villi lining the small intestine. This supplementation should be done under the advice of a knowledgeable person and follow recommended dosages. Particular care should be taken in the use of the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K which can be toxic in high doses, particularly A and E. I recommend that at least the following be considered for supplementation-
a) A multi-vitamin with Zinc
b) B complex, especially B1 (thiamine), B12 and B6*
c) Vitamin C- This important vitamin has many functions, too many to list. But the main ones are in the development of collagen (the building block of our skeletal system and matrix of our organs), the health of the immune system (required by white cells for normal function), and in the neutralization of free radicals, damaging molecules that come primarily from pollution, car exhausts and cigarette smoke). Veterinarians have been taught that dogs and cats make their own C in their liver. I firmly believe that this ability has been compromised by today’s commercial pet foods and that our pet’s exposure to unnatural environmental pollutants mandates that we supplement them with antioxidants like C, E, and grape seed extract. (See below)
d) Magnesium- What I now call “The mineral of the century”. Adding magnesium has produced astounding results in some refractory cases of epilepsy. Put “magnesium, seizures” or “magnesium, epilepsy” in your search engine and read about the dosage and see the testimonials for yourself. This makes perfectly good sense as this vital mineral is one which is poorly absorbed by the small intestine in cases of food intolerance. Here is one good link: http://www.mgwater.com/rod07.shtml
e) Omega three fatty acids (Fish oil, specifically)- These are “the anti-inflammatory of the century”. Bioavailable omegas at proper doses are being used to treat numerous (idiopathic” inflammatory conditions as well disorders of the central nervous system. The best sources are from cod liver oil, krill, and the green lip mussel.
f) Vitamin D3- This is “the vitamin of the century” and I am a big fan of supplementing D3. I have read too much about the health benefits and how house-bound pets and humans could be deficient in this vital nutrient to not be. But there is some controversy over this subject. (See the Note below). I currently recommend 100-250 IU of D3 per cup of food fed to dogs. I strongly encourage the reader to do their own research on this matter.
g) For thyroid health, consider a good iodine supplement (e.g. kelp tablets) and a selenium supplement if not already included in other supplements. Iodine is crucial for the health of the thyroid glands and their ability to produce thryoid hormone while selenium is needed to convert T4 (the hormone released by the glands) to T3, the active form used by cells. Caution: Kelp is rich in glutamic acid and should be used only as directed, with the epileptic patient being observed closely for increased seizures after intitiating its use.
(* Deficiency in B6/pyridoxine, for example, has been associated with severe epilepsy and high levels of glutamate in the cerebrospinal fluid. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/94/3/318 )
Avoid chewable veterinary vitamins as they are usually loaded with offensive proteins (wheat, dairy, soy, corn) in order to make them palatable. Read all labels on vitamins and supplements in an attempt to avoid these same proteins in human products.
Note: Please read the latest research concerning vitamin D and D3 supplementation. Although deficiencies in this vital hormone have been reportedly linked to numerous medical conditions, especially those of the central nervous system, the newest work being done by Trevor Marshall, PhD refutes many of these claims ( http://bacteriality.com/2007/09/15/vitamind/ ). In fact, according to Marshall, too much vitamin D has the reverse effect, causing immune suppression and ultimately leading to worsening of chronic illnesses, many of which are driven by tiny “L-form” bacteria. This is explained in great detail on the following link- http://bacteriality.com/2007/08/15/l-forms/.
Others wholeheartedly disagree. For some pro-D3 information concerning humans, read this article from Mercola.com- http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/11/01/Vitamin-D-is-a-Key-Player-in-Your-Overall-Health.aspx )
I want to believe that vitamin D3 is “the nutrient of the century”. The reported relationship between low D3 levels (from lack of sunlight) and increased incidence of MS makes perfectly good sense to me. Marshall’s work may explain the fact that there are very few foods that are rich sources of D but I would like to think that is because D3 is free from the sun.
The bottom line: “Everything in moderation”. There is a delicate balance between many of the essential nutrients in our body. Taking large amounts of one vitamin or mineral may very well cause a problem with another. I encourage all who decide to use supplments to read about the interaction of that supplement with other nutrients. If we overdo the wrong thing, we can greatly disrupt the balance for which the body is striving. Think naturally and we can’t go wrong.
For a good book, check out Treating Epilepsy Naturally by Patricia Murphy. It can be found on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0658013793/qid=1124813097/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-5749131-8757400?n=507846&s=books&v=glance It contains a great section on vitamins and minerals.
3) Have blood tests done, particularly to evaluate thyroid and liver function. Hypothyroidism can lower the seizure and pain thresholds as well as contribute to a myriad of other conditions and symptoms, including depression, fatigue, obesity, and anemia. The proper diagnosis of this common and oftentimes insidious condition can be crucial in the control of seizures and other signs. As the liver is integral in the control of blood glutamate levels, it is easy to understand how liver disease could worsen seizures.
a) Thyroid tests– For veterinary patients, I recommend the reader visit this site and have the thyroid tests done by Dr. Dodds and her lab ( http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/DrDoddsInstructions.htm ).
b) Liver function– There are routine tests included in standard blood panels that help to evaluate liver function. However, there are specialized tests (e.g. bile acids tests) that can be done to better determine liver function/mass, especially in the case of chronic conditions such as chronic active hepatitis and liver shunts.
c) Test for Lyme Disease. Does your area have Lyme Disease? Lyme can cause refractory seizures and a number of chronic signs. Treatment can be accomplished with doxycycline orally. Do not use any of the fluoroquinlone drugs (e.g. Batyril, Zenequin, Cipro) as they are fluoride- based antibiotics and can worsen seizures in dogs and people. As we come to understand the role of intracellular bacteria (L-form Bacteria and Mollicutes) in disease, we may elect to utilize a trial doxycycline in cases of refractory epilepsy. (Google “doxycycline, MS” for some interesting reading.)
4) Consider alternative/auxiliary therapies– Once the underlying causes of disease are better understood (e.g. food intolerance, seasonal changes, decreasing daylight/serotonin levels, etc), then we can more easily visualize other therapies that will aid in the recovery.
a) Light therapy– to improve serotonin levels. Read my paper An “Epilephany”- Viruses, Serotonin, and Light Boxes to Help Treat Epilepsy to help you see the rationale behind this approach. It can be found here: http://dogtorj.tripod.com/id2.html .
b) Melatonin ( http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/Melatonin_info.htm ) But like D3 therapy, there can be a downside to the overuse of melatonin. It has been reported that melatonin can actually increase seizures as well as worsen migraines and insomnia in some cases. So please read up on this supplement and the variety of recommended doses before using it for epilepsy. (Start with low doses.) The use of the elimination diet is far more important.
c) Tryptophan and 5- HTP supplements- Please do lengthy Internet searches for the use of these supplements in epilepsy before utilizing them. As discussed in the vitamin section, this is not always a clear cut issue.
d) Taurine ( http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/taurine.htm )
e) Antioxidants- The typical, natural antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E and grape seed extract, with the last one being the newest and most talked about. Antioxidants serve to neutralize free radicals, which are harmful substances (molecules, atoms, ions) that react electrically with cells, causing damage and dysfunction. The main sources of free radicals are environmental pollution and cigarette smoke. The “solution to pollution”- other than avoidance- is using effective antioxidants to neutralize them. One of the most powerful antioxidants is grape seed extract. (But what did man do in his relatively recent past? He developed seedless grapes. Little did we know that we were robbing ourselves of such an crucial antidote.)
f) Chelation therapy– to reduce heavy metal loads on the body/brain.
g) Other metal-removing agents (e.g. Zeolite – Natural Cellular Defense, http://www.waiora.com/products/item26000-NCD.php . See Email below**.
h) Air filters to reduce inhalant allergies and environmental pollution
i) Water filters to remove fluoride and other impurities (very important!) See Recommended Products section.
5) Auxiliary testing- Again, once the underlying causes and secondary issues (such as serotonin deficiencies, food and inhalant allergies and their effect on the deteriorating blood brain barrier, and more) are better understood, then we will know better what to test for to insure and speed up our recovery.
a) Food allergy testing– For veterinary patients, I recommend VARL (Veterinary Allergy Reference Labs). Here is the Website: http://www.varlallergy.com/aboutus.html. Any veterinarian can submit this test for you. For humans, I recommend The Sage Systems Test (blood test). Here is the Website: http://www.foodallergytest.com/sageTest3.html as they test for numerous antibodies against a wide array of foods and additives. If only one test could be run on those who regularly contact me, this would be the one I would recommend. I have now heard from people who have had phenomenal recoveries from migraines, lupus, and even MS after having this test performed and eating accordingly.
b) Food Intolerance testing- Another good test for those concerned about celiac disease or casein intolerance (in humans) is the one done by Dr. Fine at Enterolab. Here is the Website: https://www.enterolab.com/Home.htm Others are available by doing a search for “celiac testing”.
c) Have vitamin D3 levels tested. This crucial vitamin has finally come into its own and testing an individual’s blood level of D3 would be one of the very first tests I would do on many patients if I were an MD, especially those suffering from immmune-mediated diseases and cancer.
d) Serotonin levels– I would love to see more MDs run this test on their epileptic patients. As far as I know at this writing, this test is not available to veterinarians. I am convinced that we will find that many epileptics are very low in this essential hormone, neurotransmitter, and mood/seizure moderator.
e) Hair analysis-http://www.drlwilson.com/Articles/epilepsy.htm
f) Unfortuntely, the only way to know if an individual is magnesium deficient is to test the cerebrospinal fluid levels, as the body will do everything it can to maintain blood serum levels (just as it does calcium). Of course, this is not routinely done and a trial of magnesium citrate may yield rapid results.
I hope this helps.