Friday, December 30, 2011

Healing Young Brains - Take Home Points from a 2011 Medical Conference

What better way to end the year, than to look back at the awesome 3-day medical conference I recently attended, titled “Healing Young Brains.” It was hosted by the nonprofit Midway Foundation for Integrative Medicine headed by James Roach, MD. I was pleased to see doctors from all over the country, but unfortunately not many psychiatrists (there were some, though!) I was also approached by two people who had actually read my book. That was a pleasant surprise!

I cannot give a synopsis of the conference, as each presenter gave over an hour of densely-packed information, each of which was itself just a "synopsis" of the material! But each person comes away from such an even with their own set of salient points that stuck in their minds. Here are the top twenty points from the conference that stuck with me. Here-and-there, I've included some books and, in some cases, just some helpful links.
  1. Start with the gut. Heal the gut. The younger the better. At birth is best. Then keep it healthy. It is not just because the mothers have used antibiotics, but the babies do, too. (See Gut, Brain, Bacteria, and Behavior.) Because of these gut problems we get increasing number of food and environmental sensitivities. (Klaire Labs has a probiotic safe for infants.) 

  2. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS INFORMED CONSENT.... as long as doctors do not inform the patient of alternatives (i.e. using an integratED, IntegratIVE, Functional approach – which is what I advocate in my book).

  3. An Integrative approach is not really “alternative” since it uses state-of-the-art testing and treatment. (See: Looking Beyond the Symptoms – An Integrative Approach)
  4. Food and environmental allergies can affect any, and multiple, organs and body systems. In one individual we may see hives. In another we get mood changes and aggression. In another it may be artherosclerosis and osteoarthritis. If a baby or child screams for hours, suspect food allergies/sensitivities. The IgE skin scratch test is insufficient for this. You really need to do a food elimination diet (if breast feeding, it is the mother who must do this). Our jails and juvenile justice system are probably full of individuals with food and chemical sensitivities.

    Here are some symptoms (aside from the obvious stuffy noses and dark circles under the eyes) to look out for in the very young that I found particularly interesting:
    • En-Utero: Excessive Hiccupping, Excessive Kicking
    • Infancy: Screaming (not crying) for hours, Frowning, Excessive drooling, Head banging, "wiggly" Extreme diaper rash
    • Toddlers: Clucking throat sound, Leg aches, Easy gag reflex.
    • Children: Screeching, ticcing, acting bizarrely and intermittently silly or aggressive, making animal sounds such as whinnying like a horse, or barking like a dog.

  5. From the beloved physician, Dr. Doris Rapp MD, author of “Is This Your Child?” “Our Toxic World”, and a few others (see books below): To stop (ease) a reactivity happening to food give baking soda (1/4 tsp in a glass of water). This alkalinity helps. She also gave instructions pertaining to foods that quickly cause a behavioral reaction (after the fact that we should have antihistamines and asthma medication on hand if that's what has been needed in the past):
    ". . . One to two teaspoons of baking soda will often stop the reaction to food within 15 minutes."
    And by the way, keeping the body alkaline with diet may help prevent/stall the spread of cancer.

    Another antidote is a greatly diluted drop (of the “right” dilution) of the item that the child just reacted to. This can be done with a baby and the mother's breast milk. That dilution method does not help with gluten sensitivity.

  6. If one individual in a family is found to have a problem with a food, it is likely others do too, but possibly affecting different body parts/systems (see #4) 

  7. Some individuals with a problem with gluten need to get off ALL GRAINS... and dairy. In fact, that is sometimes recommended as a first line treatment for many individuals. GET OFF ALL GRAINS and DAIRY.A Paleo Diets does not mean heavy in meat, but rather, good organic nutrition for the brain for the brain and body. It feeds mitochondria. Think lots of fresh organic green leafy and cruciferous, sulfur-rich vegetables, and berries, with a lesser amount of seafood and grass-fed meats. What does not appear in a paleo-type diet is processed foods and grains.
  8. Prevention: Since each generation is affected epigenetically en-utero by the mothers (who were themselves affected epigenetically by their mothers while they were en-utero), the next generation may be sicker even than this generation of children are. To truly help the children we must change medical practices and help the young future mothers -- even before they get pregnant. They need medical, emotional, nutritional, WHOLE-istic care. And while pregnant, they need to be truly nurtured. We need to change the way we do childbirth. Have childbirth be more natural in a relaxed, calm, subdued, sensual, nurturing environment. And let the umbilical cord stop pulsing before cutting it.

  9. It is wrong to look at nutrients individually. Giving one vitamin can affect the usage of another, and that one affects another which affects another.In some cases, serum testing of nutrients is not very accurate. Lymphocyte testing is better (I don't think he mentioned the name  Spectracell Labs, but I know they do such testing.) See NOTES at bottom. The MD who gave that talk, Dr. Alan Gaby, wrote a 900-plus page medical book on nutrition. 22 chapters of that book has information on "psychiatric" effects.  He mentioned EMPowerPlus in a positive light saying there have been 12 research studies on it. To find these research studies look for the keyword "micronutrients." (Here is a link to research articles that have been published on it.)

  10. Negative (ie showing no benefit) food and nutritional studies are often flawed as they eliminate only one food or class of foods at a time, or add in only one nutrient at a time (nutrients are synergistic). Sometimes they use a biologically active placebo (such as using olive oil capsule as a “placebo”), and also, a lab setting is not always indicative of how a person is responding in the stress and bustle of the real world.

  11. Sugar actually can trigger “ADHD” symptom in some children. 76% of children diagnosed with ADHD, in one study, had an abnormal glucose tolerance test. They may have “reactive hypoglycemia.” Abnormal insulin metabolism itself (hyperinsulinemia) can trigger neuropsychiatric symptoms). Iron deficiency can also have neuropsychiatric effects.

  12. The FDA is picking and choosing studies. In fact, even when a CEO of a pharmaceutical company (I forget which) wrote about the dangers found from one of their drugs, the FDA chose to ignore it. Many negative (damaging to a product) studies never get published so they aren't even on the public government database. However, due to the Freedom of Information Act, if you know what to ask for, you can get these other studies. Much of the wonderful research about nutrition does not get published. Newspapers ignore great studies, publish flawed studies (sometimes ignoring 9 good ones to publish the results of one negative, flawed one) and will sometimes even publish headlines directly conflicting with conclusions of studies.

  13. Sensory Integration Processing problems need to be addressed as early in life as possible. The window closes at about age 9. After that, it can be helped, but not as much and not as easily.

  14. Some people really are sensitive to EMFs (Electro magnetic frequency). Some schools are hot spots for EMF and it isn't just your child reacting. Turn off routers at night. At least have the bedrooms as EMF-free as possible.

  15. Herbals. They do not act directly on the symptoms. They help body systems, downregulating or upregulating... they help the body do what it does. The herbals themselves don't don't heal the body. They help the body heal itself.

  16. Here's interesting tid-bit about omega 3s and which ratio of EPA:DHA is best. DHA grows brain. Babies need it. Some doctors advocate for giving supplements with JUST the DHA! But what about the EPA for mood stability? That is fine, but may also be wrong for some people, because some people need the GLA added to the mix. Look for EPA:DHA:GLA ratio of 4:3:2 (I have now added such a product, "Beyond Essential Fats" by Natura to my list on "Fish Oil": $$ and Favorite Brands of Omega-3 Supplements and also to my list of Hard-to-Find but Commonly Needed Hypoallergenic Supplements.

  17. Eat some protein at every meal.

  18. With a possible few exceptions, we should eat at least some meat, at least some times, and this advice goes even if we are vegetarian... eat some meat - it doesn't have to be red meat.

  19. Eggs are an excellent source of needed protein and fats, but they should come from what I call “happy hens.”

  20. A few presenters did talk about techniques not backed by extensive scientific research and those techniques were referred to, (affectionately?) as “woo woo.” 

I know I said the top 20, but I just need to mention a few random tidbits to give a flavor of the complexity of the human body - no wonder psychiatrists prefer to hand out antipsychotics!
  • Zn (Zinc): Large doses of folic acid early in pregnancy can then cause zinc deficiency resulting in neurological issues in the infant. When taking zinc, we need copper. Growth hormone receptors are upregulated by zinc. 
  • Fe (iron): What can look like "anemia" (low iron) may actually be a deficiency in B6 and zinc. Raising ferritin levels (when low) can increase mood and improve sleep. An inflammatory process in the body can raise serum ferritin (iron) level. That does NOT mean the person has too much Fe!
  • Mg (Magnesium): Needed for phosphorylation of B6 & B1. When taking Mg, we also need thiamine.
  • DHA: Too much EPA may interfere with DHA. DHA is the most important. But taking DHA can lead to poor vitamin E status. If we look at vitamin E, we also need to look at selenium, and from selenium, to vitamin C.... we need balance.
  • Dopamine and Dopamine receptors: require multiple nutrients such as zinc, iron, B6, and vitamin C.
  • Metformin (commonly used by people on psych meds due to the meds causing weight gain and type 2 diabetes) can cause a deficiency in B12.
  • Inositol: Can be effective for Bipolar, panic attacks, and OCD, not so much for psychosis. Dr. Scott Shannon recommends DBT for all patients (CHILDREN!) with bipolar symptoms.
  • Depression: Light therapy is not just for SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) but for anyone with an affective disorder. Check vitamin D status! St. John's Wort is sometimes used in a 900mg dose for children as young as 8 for MAJOR depression (not just mild). 
  • Bacopa affects the cholinergic system, having a calming effect on the brain. It can help ADHD, along with American Ginseng extract.

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Last Updated: 30 January 2012

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