Tag Archives: amino acid

Eat well to heal well

Most of us never give a second thought to the healing process, we get an injury and it heals up; simple. What we neglect to appreciate is just how complex and well orchestrated the healing process actually is. If any step along the way is defective or interrupted the healing process can become delayed and problems can ensue.

When we damage any tissue in the body the natural process of wound healing jumps in and immediately starts to clear things up. The damaged tissues need to be replaced with new. This process demands the use of precious raw materials such as proteins, specific nutrients and energy in the form of calories to fuel the mechanisms of repair. Even following a small wound the natural reaction of the body is to stimulate the metabolism as part of a stress reaction. In this situation the term stress does not imply the anxiety reaction commonly associated with the phrase but refers to the biological and hormonal stress reaction that places specific demands (stress) on the body. This early phase of wound healing is technically known as the ‘catabolic phase’ because it is characterized by a breakdown of tissue. During this time water can be used at an increased rate along with an increased release of energy from food or stored body fat. In very undernourished individuals, with low body fat, muscle may be broken down for energy. This situation is not good because it starves the healing wound of much needed proteins (since they are being ‘burnt’ to provide energy) when they should be being utilized for the healing process. In such cases, delayed wound healing is the inevitable result.

Common problems that are associated with delayed wound healing

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Liver disease
  • Smoking
  • Kidney disease
  • Poor circulation
  • Poor nutrition
  • Weak immune system
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Being over 65 years old

The importance of protein

Without a good protein supply wounds will not heal well at all. Reduced intake of protein will decrease the production of collagen; the ‘glue’ that literally holds us together. Most diets deliver adequate proteins but over phases of wound healing special attention should be given to high protein foods like grains, seeds, nuts, eggs, fish, meat and if you are not sensitive to it dairy foods.

L-Arginine is an important amino acid found in many protein foods. It’s a vital ingredient for the production of proteins structures needed for repair and a strong healed wound. Supplements containing L-Arginine have been shown to promote collagen production and accelerate the healthy healing of many kinds of soft tissue (skin, muscle, tendon) injuries. Another key amino acid needed for healing is L-Glutamine which is also needed for optimal collagen production. Using a supplement containing these saves the body from mobilizing them from muscle tissue and ensures a ready and adequate supply.

The importance of fats

Fats get a bad press but we do know that there are good and bad fats. All the cells in our body have a fat membrane that keeps the tissues flexible. Making sure that you get enough good fat in the diet can make a big difference to the healing process. There is no need to take excessive amounts of additional oils but 500-1000 mg of flax oil per day would be adequate. Taking too much omega-3 oil (eg. high strength fish oil) may actually reduce the strength of a healed wound.

The importance of carbohydrates

Energy is the currency needed to heal a wound. Carbohydrates in the form of whole grains, cereals, brown rice and potatoes deliver plenty of starch that is readily metabolized into energy for life and healing. However, diabetics need t take care not to radically change their carbohydrate intake without supervision.

How about vitamins and minerals

Balanced diets should deliver all the nutrients needed but some nutrients do appear more important to boost wound healing. It may come as no surprise that vitamin C demands increase. This vitamin is needed for collagen production and immune support. Poor healed wounds and wound infection is associated with low vitamin C levels or intake. The same can be said about vitamin A but this nutrient should only be taken in the form of beta carotene because of the potential for toxic side effects from pure vitamin A (retinol). Eating plenty of coloured fruits and vegetables will boost the dietary levels and a supplement may help as well. Of all the minerals available to the body a healing wound demands extra zinc and iron. Unless anaemic, the body has good stores of iron and supplements are not recommended because of the risk of iron overload (toxicity) or more commonly bowel upset. Supplementation with zinc on the other hand may offer some additional benefit. Slow to heal wounds have been shown to improve with the use of additional zinc and by increasing the intake of key zinc foods such as fish, eggs and shellfish. Eating more red meat, eggs, dried fruit and dark green vegetables can boost dietary iron.

In general wounds healing can be significantly improved by careful attention to diet and fluid intake; it may sound simple but it’s a vital step and makes all the difference between a well healed or poorly healed wound. The preparation ST-Repair will deliver the key additional nutrients L-Arginine, L-Glutamine, vitamin C, beta carotene and zinc in the form of a supplement that have all been associated with optimal healing. Whether you have a surgical wound that needs healing, a sports injury or other soft tissue strain never forget the importance of food and nutrients in the process of healthy tissue repair.


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The missing link in low energy

Have you checked your tick over?
It may come as a surprise but many of us could have a metabolism that is running a bit on the slow side. There is a host of rather non-specific signs that could suggest a thyroid problem is underlying a general state of low health well before conventional blood tests suggest so. Many patients attend the clinic complaining of fatigue, irregular heart beat, hormonal and menstrual problems, weight and fluid gain as well as recurrent chest infections, poor memory and skin changes. These problems can slowly accumulate over time to a point where a catalogue of complaints prompt a battery of blood tests all of which prove normal. Its only when you consider that a blood test if great for gross abnormalities in gland function but does not offer much help in very early stage illness or when the body is compensation and just getting by. In this situation we have to enter the world of functional medicine, a somewhat fringe area in which the healthy functioning of a gland is considered important not the gross pathological changes associated with overt disease.
One key player in this sphere of healthcare is the thyroid gland. Sitting up in the neck this gland produces vital hormones that maintain the bodies health on so many levels its difficult to find a tissue or organ that is not influences by thyroid hormones. Its main product is a hormone called thyroxine (also known as T4) but it is actually a lesser-known hormone called triiodothyronine (also known as T3) that does 90% of the work in the body. For this reason, T3 is often known as biologically active thyroxine and is made through a conversation process in the body from T4 that takes place in the liver and kidneys. It is a sensitive process and can be influenced by diet and vitamin and mineral deficiencies that include vitamin B2, zinc, selenium, iodine and the amino acid tyrosine. If this conversion is adversely influenced general health can be affected in many ways but conventional blood tests will prove normal since the T4 levels will be stable. The entire thyroid gland is under the control of the pituitary gland. This is the master gland seated just under the brain and releases a stimulating hormone that causes the thyroid to produce more of its hormones. Logically enough, this hormone is called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH for short).

The female hormone connection
There is a close relationship between changes in female hormone and the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland, and for that matter, vice versa. Even when there are no obvious causes for female hormone problems such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis, fibroids and alike the thyroid can have adverse effects on normal tissues to the point where menstrual and menopausal symptoms become more severe than the have to. One of the pioneers behind detecting and treating subtle thyroid problems, Dr Broda Barnes, even went so far as to check the healthy functioning of the thyroid on both partners in cases of persistent infertility of unknown origin.

How to check your thyroid at home
Dr Barnes developed a simple test that, although it never caught on in main stream medicine, forms an important test for those working in the functional medicine area. For women who are still menstruating and prone to temperature changes linked to the cycling hormones, it’s recommended that this test is performed on the second and/or third day of their period. Women who are menopausal and men can perform the test at any time.

Step 1. Shake down the thermometer and leave it on the bed side table
Step 2. On waking, place the thermometer under the armpit.
Step 3. Don’t move for 10 minutes, lie perfectly still!
Step 4. Read off your temperature and note it down.

How is your thyroid?
97.8 – 98.2 F (36.5 – 36.8 C): Normal
Over 98.2 F (36.8C): Over active thyroid or infection
Under 97.8 F (36.5C): Under active thyroid

Despite the controversy surrounding this simple test and its interpretation, simple dietary changes and then use of specific supplements aimed at supporting the gland can help many cases of chronic fatigue, hormone related lethargy and weight gain not to mention support a healthy heart and brain function. If you feel you may have a thyroid that is underperforming rather than medically malfunctioning this test may open new doors to regaining your health.

Helpful links
Broda O. Barnes M.D Research Foundation
British Thyroid Foundation

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Can you cure a cold sore?

What is it about a cold sore; it tends to pop up just when you don’t need it the most, typically when you are low, stressed or both. Well that’s the reason. If you are low, stressed or recovering from an illness you are at your most vulnerable to their attack. Your immune guard is off duty. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) that is carried in some 80% of the adult population. The virus enters the body through the skin or mucous membranes of the mouth or genitals. There are 2 types of HSV, aptly named type 1 and type 2! HSV-1 is the classic cold sore suffered by so many. HSV-2 is more restricted to the genital area, however cross infection can occur. Estimates have 1 in 5 people suffering from recurrent bouts of cold sores many of which could be prevented by taking stock of diet and boosting the immune system. Taking the amino acid called L-Lysine at a single dose of 500mg per day for prevention or twice a day if you feel one on the brew. Lysine interferes with the reproductive cycle of HSV and slows its progression. For many it’s a simple answer that works. There is also great value in looking to your diet. Certain foods can promote the growth of HSV, those foods high in another amino acid called arginine. Following a low arginin diet offers real benefit in many cases eg. nuts, chocolate (sorry!), seeds oats, lentils and brown rice. In addition keep your coffee intake down since caffeine increases the amount of arginine your body uses. Finally, consider using the homeopathic preparation called ZymaDerm-2. This contains homeopathic concentrations of iodine, melissa, geranium and peppermint. Applied locally ZymaDerm-2 can improve healing and kill off the local HSV flare up.

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Inflamed of not Inflamed – that is the question!

It’s my stomach, it’s bloated and painful I must have irritable bowel syndrome!
It’s becoming “in” to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Everybody is talking about it, there are special diets, pills and all sorts of treatments to cure it but one has to ask in the first instance; is it actually IBS?
Our clinic sees a lot of IBS and would be IBS cases. People find their way to us because many conventional measures just offer symptomatic ease at best. Most GP’s don’t follow the idea that diet or food allergy can be a cause opting, to prescribe medications simply aimed at relaxing the bowel. I feel their time should be spent trying to relax their patient since so many cases of true IBS are stress related or anxiety induced. However, the fact remains that IBS is affecting more and more of us. Estimates have IBS affecting 10-20% of the population and it is twice as common in women than in men. This estimate, however, does not take into account those cases who do not present themselves to their GP.
The worrying factor with IBS is that many of it’s symptoms are common to other more serious gut and abdominal disorders. In women early stage ovarian cancer may give symptoms of bloating or even just a feeling of “fullness”. Even though ovarian cancer tends to hit the over 65’s it can strike at any age. The other worry is that IBS may also mimic early stage inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. These bowel problems may not cause the classic set of inflammatory signs early on and can be mistaken for IBS, which is not a pathological problem at all. Cases of true IBS are free of pathological bowel changes, it general is a functional disorder of muscular tone triggered off by emotional distress or aggravated by foods that irritate the lining of the bowel.
Getting a diagnosis of IBS should be fairly straight forward now. Worries over ovarian cancer can be settled by a good medical history may be a pelvic ultrasound scan and in some cases a simple blood test for the marker known as CA125. When it comes to the inflammatory bowel problems things may get a bit more invasive in those cases that are not so clear cut. A colonoscopy involves inserting a fiber optic camera into the bowel for a good look about. This tends to be very diagnostic but in those with inflammatory changes beyond the reach of the camera the inflammation may be missed. However, help is at hand. A relatively new stool (pooh) analysis, pioneered at Kings College Hospital, taken along side a clinical assessment looks to be the way forward. Known as faecal calprotectin, (click here 1, 2, 3, for more background) this test will detect those cases missed by colonoscopy and help firm up the diagnosis once and for all. It is available through the NHS or for a private fee of around £70-£80. We can get the test done through Hadley Wood Healthcare for £75.00 – all we need it a pooh sample, but call us first.
Once irritable bowel has been confirmed there is a lot we can do. A course of enteric coated Acidophilus and Bifidus bacteria replacement therapy (known as Acidophilus Pearls) is important along side some simple dietary changes. Anxiety and stress need to be addressed, for this we use Elthea-100 containing the green tea amino acid known as L-theanine. A lot can be done but much of our work is on an individual basis. If you are troubled by your bowels we may be able to help in more ways than one.

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There is a natural way to combat anxiety

Stress is becoming more and more common. Like depression, stress used to be a rather taboo subject inferring that someone can’t cope but as we learn more about stress it is becoming clear that we are all prone to it but some deal with better than others. If we look back into our ancestral history stress actually kept us alive. It would gear our bodies up to fight or flight. Those with an effective stress mechanism would survive and pass on their genes whilst those who were resistant to stress perished! In other words, you could view someone living nowadays with the symptoms of stress as a survivor with the biological abilities to fight and flight effectively. The problem now rests with our modern society that delivers triggers for stress on a daily ongoing basis making the fight and flight mechanism redundant simply because we can’t escape. However, nature may have the answer in the form of a simple extract obtained from green tea. Drinkers of green tea often comment on its relaxing properties so it did not take long for the active agent to be identified, purified and used as an aid to promoting relaxation. Known as L-Theanine, this green tea extract is now available in a conveniently small vegetarian capsule. Scientists studying the effects of L-Theanine were curious about its ability to ease anxiety and stress but not promote drowsiness. Their research showed that L-Theanine was able to enhance the brains alpha waves. These waves are associated with the emotional state of rested alertness, just the reverse of most stress sufferers! Unlike other anti-stress remedies however, L-Theanine did not interfere with medication cause other unwanted side effects associated with prescribed anti-anxiety agents. Those taking L-Theanine found that in cases of severe stress two capsules (100mg of L-Theanine per capsule) taken up to three times a day helped them regain their emotional health. The intake could then be reduced to as little as one too two capsules per day. In cases of panic attacks the capsule can be opened and the tasteless powder sprinkled under the tongue. This method of use can end a panic attack before it starts!

Additional L-Theanine information


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A New Look at Hyperactivity in Children

Food additives and hyperactivity – a new look at an old problem

We have all experienced the problem either with our own children or with a friends; behaviour and mood rapidly changing after eating processed or highly coloured food. Naturally we make the knee jerk judgement and commit that food to the growing list of culprits responsible for turning our kids into little monsters. Few would question the benefit of changing our children’s diets for ones higher in fresh natural foods whilst avoiding the potential chemical time bombs of processed food but is there any actual evidence to say that these foods are the real triggers?
This was the topic in a recent editorial published in the British Medical Journal. When a study involving some 297 children aged between 3 and 9 were analysed some interesting results came to light. One of the key factors in this study was the fact that unlike many other investigations none of the children in this cross section had any previous diagnosis of attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder. Despite this the results still showed an adverse effect on behaviour with an intake of additives equivalent to that found in two 56 g bag of sweets.
No one can agree – who can you trust?
Following the publication of this study the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) soon jumped in and rejected the claims in news articles that two mixtures of food colours along with the preservative sodium benzoate had any adverse effect on behaviour. However, following a re-analysis of the results the EFSA was forced to revise their view and had to re-publish their comments. The EFAS panel discovered that the figures they questioned did actually mirror the results of the original study. Their final comment on the subject was characteristically low key; “the study provides limited evidence that the two different mixtures had a small and statistically significant effect on activity and attention” This statement, as low key as it may appear, is an important step forward because if additives alters the behaviour of normal children, even in a small way, the study has profound implications for children with hyperactivity who are far more sensitive to many things including chemicals. It is true to say that food and additives are not the prime cause of behavioural problems in hyperactive children, the condition is complex and highly individual, but anecdotal reports from parents, teachers and health professionals do point a finger most certainly at foods as potent triggers. Sadly, eliminating colourings and preservatives are still regarded by some as an alternative rather than a standard approach. In light of the current studies and years of almost impossible to avoid anecdotal accounts it is difficult to understand why simply improving the diet and removing “junk” needs so much science to support its use. Despite this, the two-pronged conventional approach is still firmly entrenched primarily in drug therapy and sometimes referral for behavioural therapy. With the growing bank of evidence to support the role of diet modification it is surprising that this simple task is not tackled from the onset keeping in mind that there is, in fact, less evidence published for the benefits of behavioural therapy! This probably explains why around 50% of children attending specilist medical clinics also concurrently use alternative medicines.

The additives defiantly to avoid
Sunset yellow (E110) – Colouring found in squashes
Carmoisine (E122) – Red colouring in jellies
Tartrazine (E102) – New colouring in lollies, fizzy drinks
Ponceau 4R (E124) – Red colouringSodium benzoate (E211) – Preservative
Quinoline yellow (E104) – Food colouring
Allura red AC (E129) – Orange / red food dye

What else can be done?
A quick check of the internet will yield a plethora of cures and remedies for ADHD and hyperactivity disorders. A simple Google search for “ADAH products” narrowed down to UK sites only resulted in 81,800 sites coming up!
Among the many sites there is some good information and within this information can be found some guiding lights in the grey area that lies between alternative and conventional medicine. One such beacon in the mist is Dr Jeff Bradstreet MD. Jeff is a family doctor based in Florida where is founded the International Child Development Resource Centre. As well as his clinical work he is also a Professor of Neuroscience at Stetson University, Florida and the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Phoenix Arizona. With his feet firmly in two camps, the conventional and naturopathic, Dr Bradstreet is well placed to push nutritional research forward in the management of ADHD and hyperactivity.
Over the years Dr Bradstreet has found few nutrients that have been of particularly helpful to children with behavioural issues. In addition to the much publicised omega-3 fish oils these include phosphatidylserine (PS), the amino acids taurine and L-theanine as well as the powerful antioxidant N-acetylcysteine and the nutrient dimethylaminethanol (DMAE).
Getting the balance right
Interestingly, two of these nutrients naturally work very closely within the body, in fact PS is made DMAE. It has long been known that PS forms a vital building block supporting the structure of every cell in the body as well as playing an important role in the production of chemical substances needed for healthy and balanced nerve function. Known as neurotransmitters, these substances regulate the activity of the brain and are known to be out of balance in cases of ADHD and hyperactivity. In one study 75% of children who took PS supplements experienced increased levels of focus and attention. By using both PS and DMAE together those with poor ability to absorb and metabolise PS can still benefit since once within the body DMAE can be converted into PS. For children attending school it is good to know that neither PS or DMAE have ever caused drowsiness or reduced alertness.
Boost those alpha-waves
In all cases of ADHD and hyperactivity management the biggest problem facing parents and children alike is the common side effect of drowsiness associated with prescribed drugs. Getting the balance right is not easy, an over excited brain can’t be expected to focus on the task in hand or conform to the rigours of school or modern life.
In seeking a remedy for this Green tea appeared to offer an answer. The soothing and relaxing effects associated with Green tea are derived from its L-theanine content. This amino acid, once isolated and purified, has become a popular supplement with people suffering from anxiety and stress related problems since it produces a relaxed state of mind with no drowsiness. It was finally discovered that L-theanine enhanced the brains alpha-waves. A brain with good alpha-wave activity is associated with a state of relaxed alertness. By applying this knowledge L-theanine has been of great help to children with hyperactive behaviour and poor focus. It is a very safe supplement and well tolerated. Depending on age, 100mg taken up to three times a day appears to offer effective support. L-theanine is also found in Dr Bradstreets own formula that combines all the above into a convenient supplement.
Putting it all together
No one can say that they have the universal remedy for ADHD or hyperactivity, the condition is far to complex for any one remedy or life style adjustment to work in isolation or universally. However, the evidence is mounting from UK studies into the effects of diet manipulation while in America the nutritional supplement research is laying the foundations for additional measures. By blending the two approaches overall health can only bee seen to benefit from improved food intake and optimal nutritional support.

Dr Jeff Bradstreet
Recommended UK supplements web site
Recommended USA supplements web site
North London Natural Health Clinic
Scotland based Natural Health Clinic

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