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Perhaps that nap isn’t the best thing for you

Many of my patients first coming to see me for various health concerns, including a persistent afternoon fatigue that has the couch beckoning, are aware that afternoon naps aren’t normal; at least in western culture.

Now we have a recent study out of China that looks at a possible association between afternoon nap frequency and duration, and diabetes.

A study of 19, 567 Chinese men and women older than 50 looked at those who had elevated fasting sugar levels (diabetes) and how frequently they took naps. People who took naps 4-6 times per week had a 36% increased risk of diabetes.  This worked out to what we call an absolute percentage increase of only 3.4%, as those who never napped had a baseline diabetes incidence of 11.7%, then those who napped 4-6 x per week had an incidence of 14.7%, and those who napped daily had an incidence of 15.1%. This was published in the journal Sleep in March 2010.

Small absolute increases in diabetes numbers, but significant from a statistical point of view, and still in relative terms, nappers had 36% more diabetes.

Of course naps don’t cause diabetes, or at least we don’t think they do. I doubt they even contribute as a cause. But this study confirms what most already know, that naps may be indicative of persistent fatigue, which always is indicative of an underlying problem.

What’s more interesting in this study is that nappers still tended to sleep slightly longer in the night. It might be the trend toward increased sleep that could contribute to the above results.

Again, in the journal Sleep, this time in 2007, a Taiwanese study of 3079 patients looked at the most important outcome, death, and whether there was any relation among night time sleep, or an afternoon nap. This study found that those who slept longer than 10 hours (male) or 8 hours (female) had an increased risk of death. Afternoon naps were not associated with increased death (they did not look at any association with diabetes, as the above study did).

Once more, this study does not say that increased sleep duration causes more death, but goes to show that persistent fatigue, manifesting as longer sleep, can be a sign of underlying disease.

Husbands might also claim (probably incorrectly) that the study also shows that males should be allowed to sleep more than females.

Dr Eric Chan

http://www.pannaturopathic.com

Website updates:

Using silver to treat lyme disease

Treating Shingles Pain

Iscador and cancer survival

Exercise, or getting more fit, always tops the list as one of the most popular new year’s resolution. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult for people to keep. This may partly because of training the wrong way, or overtraining, especially at the outset.

Increasing your odds

The best way to increase your odds of keeping your resolution is to exercise properly. Proper exercise prevents overtraining, but also just as importantly, maximizes the health benefits.

Interval training is the way to go. It makes for shorter work outs, decreases over training, increases fat loss while preserving muscle mass, and is better for your cardiovascular system.

For example, a study in Medicine and Sport Sciences in 2001 compared a group that did exercises at 50% of maximum output, vs a group that did 2 minutes at 95% output and 3 minutes at 25% output. The interval group improved their overall fitness by 13% and burned 160 more calories after the workout even though they burned the same amount during the exercise. The interval group lost more fat also.

Now going for 2 minutes at 95% output would be too much for most people. The best type of exercise would be tapered up.

My recommendations

The cardiovascular rehabilitation program I have for patients involves Exercise with Oxygen Therapy (or sauna with oxygen therapy) and chezone treatments (a combination of chelation and ozone therapy). The exercise component with oxygen involves inhaling oxygen at 10 L per minute while doing an interval exercise program.

The interval looks like this:

1. short warm up period of 5 minutes

2. 1 minute at the upper end of heart rate target

3. 30 seconds at maximum output (eg a sprint)

4. 4 minutes at the lower end of heart rate target

5. Rinse, lather, repeat, for a total of 20-30 minutes.

The reason why older patients, or patients with cardiovascular disease, get more benefit with the inhaled oxygen is that studies have shown there is an improved delivery of oxygen to the tissues over exercise alone. The increased oxygen tension decreases swelling and fluid accumulation at the capillaries, where oxygen leaves the blood and gets to the tissues. In effect, the sludge in the capillary environment that acculumates with age and poor fitness decreases.

For a New Year’s resolution of exercise, the above 5 steps is a good start. If there’s any chest pain or history of heart disease, the third step, with a sprint, should be left out.

So the above 5 steps works for most starting an exercise program. It is best to check with your doctor first when starting the exercise program, and to leave out step 3 if just starting out. In my office I use a phase angle measurement to get a baseline and monitor progress in health and body composition. Also, my patients typically would get an exam and baseline EKG.

If there is cardiovascular illness, then adding in the chezone (chelation and ozone) treatments should be done. And if patients are too ill to exercise, then I will put them in the infrared sauna while they breathe in pure high flow oxygen. This is all done 2-3 times a week for a number of weeks.

To calculate your heart target range: Upper end is 75-80% of: HRmax = 205.8 – (0.685 × age). Lower end is 50-60% of HRmax. Heart rate targets based on age are fundamentally flawed but this formula gives the best approximation if you are starting to exercise and need some guidance.

Web site updates:

Use of Iscador / mistletoe in cancer and recurrence prevention

www.pannaturopathic.com

Eric Chan, ND

The journal Critical Care just came out with a study that found a biochemical marker that may explain why some people became severely ill with H1N1 flu, whereas most others had mild illness. Clinically, we knew that those with pre-existing lung diseases, such as asthma, were at increased risk for severe illness. But some without any lung disease still became severely ill, requiring ICU care.

Critical Care came out with the finding that those who were hospitalized were far more likely to be producing excessive amounts of a chemical called IL 17, a cytokine. You may have heard that many get severely ill from the H1N1 flu because of a “cytokine storm” that causes the immune system to fight so aggressively in the lungs that they fill with fluid. It seems IL 17 is one of the mediators of this.

Here’s the kicker though: sufficient, or optimal levels of vitamin D likely would prevent this cytokine storm. The Journal of Immunology in 2009 published that the active form of vitamin D in the blood prevented the production of IL 17. At this point, knowing your blood level of vitamin D (a test called 25OH vitamin D) is important, because you need to have optimal levels of vitamin D.

If your body is starving for vitamin D, the first thing it does with low amounts is to help calcium and bone metabolism. If yoru body has “middle levels” then the vitamin D that is not needed for calcium health goes to supporting innate immunity, or first line defense of immunity. It is only the “high” or “optimal” levels that the vitamin D then spills over and is able to suppress an excessive immune response, including blocking IL 17 production. Middle levels of vitamin D may only give a more robust immune response, and do nothing to prevent a cytokine storm from H1N1.

The only way to know your level is to get your blood level checked. Some of my patients need 1000 IU a day to get to and maintain optimal levels, I need about 8000 IU.

If you do get ill with a respiratory illness though, Frank Shallenberger MD has descrbed a technique with using a nebulizer to aerosolize hydrogen peroxide in very dilute concentration. Not the 3% you find in the drugstore, but the 0.03% used in an IV. A google search on his name and nebulized hydrogen peroxide will give you his original article. I have done this treatment myself with good success and a few of my patients have even purchased a nebulizer with a bag of IV hydrogen peroxide 0.03% to treat themselves if they are ill.

Eric Chan, ND

http://www.pannaturopathic.com

With Labor Day holiday today, the health news that has dominated not only the Health section of the newspaper, but often the Business section as well as the front page, is the possibility of swine flu re-emerging as a threat. Swine flu is able to target the young, and like any virulent infectious disease, spread is more likely in crowded environments, including classes at high school and university that start tomorrow.

No one really knows if swine flu will fizzle out this flu season, or if it will progress into an even more virulent, and more aggressive illness that may affect 30% or more of the population. The WHO already is preparing for the worst, as since the flu is in multiple regions of the world, the flu is already considered a pandemic. The real question is whether the flu outside of Mexico will remain relatively mild, or if it will mutate into a more serious and aggressive illness that affects young and old alike.

Prevention is a hot topic, and I have been receiving inquiries from the Richmond and Vancouver naturopathic patients that I see, as well as from relatives all around the world. In fact, a close relative of mine recently was infected with laboratory confirmed swine flu in Hong Kong.

In fact, in a private naturopathic physician discussion group, prevention was one of the most discussed topics.

Without further adieu, here are the top 5 naturopathic measures for swine flu prevention:

1. Hygiene

Without doubt, frequent handwashing, hand sanitization with alcohol-based rubs, and limiting spread of secretions by coughing into the elbow are the most important measures one can take. Staying home when ill and learning to cough into the elbow limits spread to others. Frequent handwashing that covers all surfaces of the hand, fingernails, wrists, and forearms (or use of alcohol based rubs when soap and water are unavailable) reduce chances of infection for yourself. Maintaining at least 1 meter from others when possible, and using a N95 mask if frequently within that distance around those who are ill, also protect yourself.

2. Colostrum

A 2007 study compared 1 capsule of colostrum to the flu vaccine. There were 4 groups in total, including flu vaccine only, colostrum only, both, or no intervention.

Even better, the first part had healthy volunteers, and the second part of the study used patients who had advanced cardiovascular disease.

Treatment lasted 2 months.

The colostrum only group fared the best, with 1/3rd the cases compared to the other three groups.

The colostrum only group had 13 cases.
The colostrum + vaccine group had 14 cases.
The group without any medicine had 41 cases.
The flu vaccine group had 57 cases.

In the second part of the study, the colostrum did similarly well with 1/2 the number of cases as the other groups.

3. Vitamin D

Even the very conventional Public Health Agency of Canada is looking into the effect of vitamin D status on the flu, including swine flu. They are interested in whether higher blood levels of vitamin D protect against the flu, and if patients do get the flu, do higher blood levels of vitamin D mean that the symptoms are less severe.

Instead of going through all the research with vitamin D and infection, it might be best to refer you to John Cannell MD’s site at www.vitamindcouncil.org – note that Dr Cannell recommends the H1N1 vaccine, whereas I believe that should be discussed with your physician or naturopathic physician first.

My general recommendation to my adult patients is to take levels that will raise the blood level of 25OH vitamin D to above 135 nmol/L.

4. Chinese medicine herbs

A study out of the larget infectious disease hospital in China, Ditan Hospital in Beijing, reported that they have been achieving a 75% success rate in treating swine flu in 117 patients. Note that throughout the web, a single formula (below) is being promoted as the formula used. In reality, patients were treated according to traditional chinese medicine diagnosis, giving an individualized formula.  The formula on the internet (below as “prevention”) was released by the hospital to the general public to use as prevention.

Prevention formula:

Lonicera Japonica Thund (honeysuckle flower)-3 grams,
Isatis Indigodica- 3 gms,
Mentha Haplocalyx Brip (mint).-3 gms
Glycyrrhiza Glabra(licorice)-3 gms. (can cause high blood pressure)
I would bet that treatment in the hospital used one of three very popular chinese patent formulas for infection; either Yin qiao, Gan Mao Ling, or Zhong Gan Ling. I use Zhong Gan Ling widely in my own practice for infection and this is the one that I store in the office and at home.

5. Intravenous vitamin C / peroxide / ultraviolet blood irradiation

At the first sign of an illness, one of the above therapies should be started. Usually 2-4 treatments are needed for a serious illness or infection. Ultraviolet blood irradiation has the most research for infection, which is summarized by Robert Rowen MD here. I tend to prefer using intravenous vitamin C first, unless there is a contra-indication that prevents use of 75-100 g.

And there you have it… just in time for back to school and soon enough, flu season.

Updates to my clinic website www.pannaturopathic.com

An updated page for patients on intravenous vitamin C in cancer

A page on the usefullness and limitations in blood tests that screen for cancer

Homo toxicus

CBC’s documentary series “The Lens” aired a program last night titled Homo toxicus. The program detailed a woman who had her blood tested for environmental contaminants, and found over 110 chemicals including PCBs and known carcinogens. The program investigated the woman’s search to see whether or not these chemicals were playing a role in her health problems, including poor fertility.

The link to the trailer is here, though I do not know when the program is to be repeated.

In testing my own patients, I consider both serum and whole blood tests for chlorinated pesticides, PCBs, and volatile solvents.

Why run a Volatile Solvent Test?

Overexposure or chronic exposure to volatile solvents damages the central nervous system and causes chemical-driven liver and kidney damage. Benzene, in particular, has a severe toxic effect on the hematological system and is a recognized human carcinogen. Other solvents contribute to atrophy of skeletal muscles, loss of coordination, vision problems, and depression of the central nervous system.

Why perform chlorinated pesticide exposure testing?

Chlorinated pesticides have been identified in over 98% of all persons studied, have an affinity for lipid-rich tissues, and are stored in various organs and adipose tissues. These toxins also bioaccumulate in our bodies, increasing our toxic body burden over time, are powerful mitochondrial toxins, and may be the root cause of many chronic illnesses. Identifying this body burden is why pesticide exposure testing is important.

The primary toxic effect of this family of pesticides is at the site of nervous tissue and muscle membranes. These poisons are absorbed across the gut and interfere with nerve impulse transmissions. In humans, this interference normally shows up as chronic neurological problems including mood disorders and difficulties with learning and memory. These poisons have also been shown to cause fatigue, obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, immune dysregulation, allergies, heart disease, and a host of other problems.

Why perform polychlorinated biphenyl testing?

A PCB burden affects children more than adults. PCBs are most often passed to children through breastfeeding and trans-placental transfer. PCB exposure in children can impede neurobehavioral and immune system development. These impediments may cause delayed neurobehavioral development such as motor skills, short-term memory, and lower scores on intelligence, psychomotor, and behavioral tests. A lowered immune system can create many problems in children including allergies, sensitivities, and chronic infections.

Source: Metametrix lab testing

In reality, chemical toxicity is usually a clinical diagnosis, independent of the labs. You can find an increased amount of these chemicals in many patients, simply due to the polluted environment we live in. Some patients are gravely ill and improve with detoxification even though their system has relatively low amounts of these chemicals, and other patients can have high levels without acute or current illness.

Treatment is a good detoxification program which involves sauna, exercise, metal chelators, ozone colonic and blood treatment, intravenous vitamin C. The detoxification program usually lasts 4 weeks (I will be posting a page on this at www.pannaturopathic.com soon.

Clinically, you have to consider which patients are most likely to have their chronic illness significantly contributed to by the chemical toxicity. Detoxification can always be supportive, but it is most likely to be a main treatment that gives the most benefit in conditions such as:

  • asthma
  • chemical sensitivities (of course) that lead to chronic headaches, brain fog, fatigue
  • patients who are seemingly allergic to “everything”

www.pannaturopathic.com

Population based, green tea is the most popular beverage world-wide, and with good reason. I have written before on the benefits of the calming amino acid theanine and the health benefits of the plant chemical EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) that is present in high amounts of matcha tea, and now there is another study showing the benefits of yet another compound in green tea, this time in prostate cancer.

In this study, Philadelphia-based researchers tested a trademarked extract from green tea called Polyphenon E.

They were looking for a number of biomarkers – molecules – including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) which are indicators of developing cancer.

They also looked for prostate specific antigen (PSA) – a protein only found in the prostate. Levels can rise if cancer is present.

’12 cups’

The study included 26 men, aged 41 to 72 years, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and who were scheduled for radical prostate surgery.

Patients took four capsules containing Polyphenon E for an average of 34 days, up until the day before surgery – the equivalent of around 12 cups of normally brewed concentrated green tea.

The study found a significant reduction in levels of HGF, VEGF and PSA, with some patients demonstrating reductions of more than 30%.

Most anti-cancer research in green tea has focused on the EGCG compound, and the trademarked extract Polyphenon E seems to be important as well (likely has EGCG as a component). The advantage of taking the beverage over the capsule is that you do not need a capsule for each green tea compound, you get the whole food. And in this case with prostate cancer, a respectable 12 cups is not difficult once you acquire a taste for this beverage.

I still prefer matcha for its higher content of EGCG and of theanine, though it is higher in caffeine as well, which can be troublesome for some caffeine sensitive patients.

What’s the other evidence on green tea?

  1. Genital Warts: a green tea ointment was able to clear warts in 24-60% of patients after 16 weeks treatment
  2. Reduced cancer risk: increased consumption is associated with reduced bladder, esophageal, stomach, and pancreatic cancer
  3. Reduced cholesterol: another compound called theaflavin (also present in black tea) reduced cholesterol. Population based data indicates that higher consumption of green tea is associated with lower cholesterol as well.
  4. Low blood pressure: consumption reduces postural associated symptoms. Unfortunately, nothing special related to green tea here. It seems to be the caffeine that is helpful.
  5. Reduces risk of Parkinson’s: again an association between increased green tea consumption and decreased or delayed Parkinson’s disease. In men the effect of the tea was more pronounced at more cups (5 to 30) cups, and in females increasing doses did not seem to be related to the protective effect.
  6. Diabetes risk reduction: adults who drank 6 or more cups had roughly a third less risk. Again this is an association, so it might be that those who are prone to drinking green tea tend to have healthier diet and lifestyles than those who don’t. However, there is sufficient biochemical reason as to why green tea probably exerts a separate medicinal effect.

www.pannaturopathic.com

A recent study in type I diabetics gives us another reason, other than swine flu to make sure our vitamin D levels are optimized. 375 patients with type I diabetes were studied and their vitamin D levels measured. When the levels were below 25 nmol/L (SI, Canadian units) these patients were almost 3 times as likely to develop calcified plaque blockages in their arteries than those who had levels above 75 nmol/L. Further, deficiencies were likely to cause progression of the calcified blockages.

Interestingly, this vitamin D deficiency made patients more likely to have plaque build up even in comparison to sugar control, age, and male sex.

A similar correlation was found in patients undergoing hemodialysis due to kidney disease. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased hs-CRP (inflammation in the blood vessels), and increased calcified plaque in the arteries.

Here’s the best part: a third study looked at patients who had no symptoms but were found to have calcified plaque in their arteries by calcium scoring (I prefer EBT or electron beam tomography for calcium scoring of the arteries in my patients). The patients were treated with a statin drug, niacin (vitamin B3), omega 3 fish oils, and vitamin D (to get levels to 125 nmol/L). 44% had reductions in their plaque levels (reversing the build up in the arteries), 49% had slowed growth, and only 3/45 patients had plaque growth more than 30%.

www.pannaturopathic.com