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06/Jul/2022

What is NAD?

NAD IV therapy was described to me as a “game changer” while I was at a medical conference in Arizona. Up until then I had regularly treated my patients with vitamin and mineral infusions to help restore energy, sleep and manage the physical symptoms of stress amongst other things. I had come to terms with the fact that I could expect about a 60-70% response rate in my patients who were being treated for chronic fatigue. A colleague told me that NAD would be a game changer and that I could expect to see better and more consistent results. After my first NAD patient texted me the following day that they felt like a million dollars, I was sold to the idea.

NAD stands for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. It is a coenzyme that our body requires in order to convert food into energy and for facilitating many biochemical reactions. We need NAD to metabolize nutrients, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. NAD also impacts the functioning of cells, formation of muscle and regeneration of tissue. Studies have shown that low NAD levels are detrimental to muscle development, while elevated NAD levels could improve muscle health.

Like many fundamental nutrients and hormones, NAD levels decline as we age. This can prompt changes to our metabolism, energy levels, and our biochemistry over time. Low NAD levels can also make us more susceptible to age-related diseases and health concerns, such as Alzheimer’s, sarcopenia, and inflammation. NAD has even been touted as an anti-aging nutrient.

At my Toronto Naturopathic located in York MIlls,  between the Bayview village area and Leaside, we have started to incorporate NAD into many of our IV infusions. Here are some of the outcomes of NAD therapy backed up by clinical research:

Cognitive dysfunction

Boosting NAD intake can impact brain health by improving neuronal function, protecting brain cells from harm, and driving mitochondrial functioning. Animal studies have shown that a group of signalling proteins called sirtuins may be linked to memory and learning. Sirtuins protect the body from amyloid proteins, which are related to Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases. Sirtuin production relies on NAD. Boosting NAD levels may likely help protect the body from amyloid proteins via sirtuin production.

Recovery from substance abuse

Excessive consumption drugs and alcohol can cause damage to organs and tissues including the brain. Studies have shown that substance abuse can specifically cause a drop in NAD levels. NAD is fundamental in the repair and detoxification pathways engaged after consumption of drugs and alcohol. Boosting NAD levels with IV therapy can help with cravings while mitigating brain fog, anxiety and fatigue.

Athletic Recovery

Proper energy metabolism and inflammatory pathways are fundamental in athletic recovery from training and injury. NAD supplementation helps to optimize energy metabolism through mitochondria activity, increases blood flow and reduces inflammation. These benefits in turn help to hasten the recovery phase and lessen muscle pain.

Chronic Fatigue

If you’re struggling with Chronic Fatigue or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), NAD could offer some alleviation. One of the ways NAD works via the mitochondria is by  boosting the production of ATP. ATP is the primary energy source of all cells in the body.  Boosting NAD levels via IV infusion helps to increase ATP production thereby reducing the severity of chronic fatigue syndromes.

Wondering how you may benefit from NAD supplementation? Give me a call or email and we can discuss how NAD may help you reach your health and wellness goals.


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21/Nov/2019

It was my hope to find an effective alternative to Cannabidiol (CBD) that wouldn’t land me in jail when I travel; so is PEA the new CBD?

PEA stands for Palmitoylethanolamide. It is a fatty acid that is found in Eggs, Cheese, Meats and Peanuts.  We also make PEA during stress, infections, inflammation, trauma, allergies, pain, cardiac disease, kidney disease and obesity. Much like our endocannabinoids, PEA is responsible for maintaining cellular homeostasis.

Naturopathic Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

How does it work?

While PEA does not have a direct effect on Cannabinoid receptor (CB1 and CB2) it does have similar mechanisms of action to our endocannabinoids and cannabidiol (CBD). PEA looks very similar to our body’s own endocannabinoids (AEA and 2-AG). These similarities allow PEA to exert effects similar to our AEA and 2-AG.

PEA down regulates mast cells, which are responsible for the release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators. PEA can therefore be a powerful molecule for immune heath, inflammation, pain, neuro-protection and allergies. PEA has direct action on receptors GPCR55 and GPR119, which produce effects similar to activation of CB1 and CB2 by endocannabinoids, THC and CBD.  PEA also acts similarly to CBD by affecting the breakdown of endocannabinoids via inhibition of the enzymes FAAH and MAGL. 

Pain Management
Micronutrient Infusion

The Research

Several studies have shown that when PEA is used with opioid type drugs for low back pain, the dose of the opioids could be reduced significantly. PEA was found to exert pain relief animal models of inflammation and neuropathic pain. These analgesic effects are thought to be due to increasing endocannabinoid levels similarly to how CBD works. All in all many studies have revealed that PEA exerts similar effects to CBD.  So I thought I would give this supplement a whirl, as a alternative to CBD (especially for travel) would be an important option for patients using CBD. 

My 5-day Trial with PEA

I took the supplement P.E.A. Activate from AOR , which contains 600mg PEA per lozenge.  My daily dose was two lozenges per day and I did that for 5 days. I noticed a strange light-headed feeling about 5 minutes after chewing my first lozenge. The feeling lasted for a bout 30min. I was excited that I actually felt a bit different after that fist dose by unfortunately each dose produced a similar effect (a light relaxing feeling) that only lasted between 30-60min. There didn’t seem to be much carry over from one dose to another. The effects were always pretty fast acting but short-lived. Furthermore I had a return of some muscle soreness that was absent for most of the time that I was taking my CBD supplement.  So, it seemed like, for me, the PEA was not having the same effect that I had experienced while on CBD.

In summary, the effects that I experienced during my PEA trial were fast acting but short-lived. PEA may therefore be a useful tool for acute episodes of anxiety, pain etc… but it did not have the same accumulative and long term effects that I experienced with CBD. The research on PEA is compelling and it is possible that this supplement warrants a more long-term trial. According to the research PEA seems to be a potential alternative to CBD but from my experience it falls a bit short.  Check out my video review of PEA here. 

https://youtu.be/Yfr-Ma19gGk

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21/Nov/2015

In this months edition we shift gears slightly to focus on a “super-food” most commonly found in the form of a dietary supplement; Spirulina.

Spirulina is a cyanobacteria; meaning that it’s a bacterium which derives its energy through photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria are also commonly known as blue-green algae. Spirulina is commonly made from two strains of cyanobacteria: Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima. Although now cultivated around the world, spirulina is found naturally growing in only three lakes: Lake Chenghai (China), Lake Chad (Africa) and Lake Texcoco (Mexico).

Spirulina is available at most health food stores in the form of powder, flake or tablet. Much like Quinoa, Spirulina is a complete protein source, containing all essential amino acids. It is also a source of essential fatty acids and is one of the only vegan friendly reservoirs of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Spirullina’s blue-green pigment is an indicator that it is rich in vitamins and other beneficial anti-oxidants. These antioxidants include, but are not limited to: beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and chlorophyll. The unique blend of antioxidants found in spirulina make it a fascinating health promoting supplement, which has demonstrated benefit in the treatment of HIV, brain health, heavy metal chelation, cardiovascular disease and allergies.

The Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminolgy published a paper that investigated the effect of supplementing rats prone to the development of cognitive disease , similar to Alzheimer’s disease, with spirulina. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the deposition of amyloid beta-protein, which is thought to “gum up” the functioning of neurons in the brain. The rats studied were bred to be prone to the deposition of amyloid beta-protein. One group of rats received daily supplementation of 50mg/kg spirulina, another group received 200mg/kg spirulina and the third group did not receive spirulina. Analysis of the rat brains (poor rats) demonstrated a reduction in amyloid beta-protein in both spirulina treated groups. There were also lower levels of oxidative damage in the brains of spirulina treated rats. Therefore spirulina may be a beneficial supplement for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease in genetically prone individuals.

Back in 1998 a paper was published that investigated the effect of spirulina extract on the growth of HIV in human white blood cells. It was found that extract concentrations ranging between 0.3-1.2 micrograms/ml reduced the growth of HIV by 50%. The authors concluded that spirulina may be a potential agent used for the treatment of retroviruses like HIV.

Aside from a runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing, seasonal allergies are characterized by a relative increase in white blood cells known as TH2 cells. One of the ways TH2 cells increase and cause allergy is by a messenger molecule in the blood called interleukin 4 (IL4). In 2005 the Journal of medicinal food published a study that looked at the blood of individuals with allergic rhinitis before and after supplementing with spirulina. The study was a placebo controlled randomized crossover trial where individuals either received 1g, 2g spirulina or placebo daily for 12 weeks. The blood samples at 12 weeks found that 2g spirulina per day reduced IL4 levels by 32%.

Environmental medicine is an exciting emerging field of medicine that looks at how toxins in our environment effect our health, and more importantly how to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of environmental toxins. There are few natural substances that have demonstrated an ability to promote the excretion of some of these harmful toxins, spirulina is one of them. A study published in 2006 looked at the effect of a spirulina and zinc supplement on individuals in Bangladesh chronically exposed to the toxic metal arsenic. These individuals were given 250mg spirulina extract and 2mg zinc twice daily for 16 weeks. There was a increase in urinary excretion of arsenic (detoxification) at 4 weeks which continued for an additional 2 weeks in individuals taking the spirulina zinc combo. At 16 weeks the spirulina plus zinc combo removed 47.1% arsenic from scalp hair (one of the ways to test for arsenic exposure is through hair analysis), whereas results from placebo were not statistically significant. Other studies have shown that spirulina may also chelate (remove) iron, which can be useful for individuals with toxic amounts of iron in the body but may be counter productive for individuals taking an iron supplement.

It seems that a large part of the health benefits seen through the use of spirulina are due to its unique blend of antioxidants. A laboratory study discovered that cells exposed to harmful chemicals had 4-5 times less apoptosis (cell death) when treated with an aqueous extract of spirulina. Another study demonstrated that a diet supplemented with 0.1% spirulina protects against inflammation and oxidative damage in brain neuronal cells. This same studied showed that spirulina increased the proliferation of neural stem cells which have the ability to replace damaged cells. Spirulina is therefore a promising natural supplement for the field of neural and cognitive health.

A study published in the november 2007 edition of the journal: Lipids in Health and Disease, investigated the effect of spirulina supplementation on cholesterol and blood pressure. Thirty six men and women had blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure measured before the study. They were supplied with 4.5g/day spirulina for 6 weeks. There were no other changes to diet and exercise. After 6 weeks total cholesterol levels decreased by approximately 20 mg/dl, tracylglycerides decreased by approximately 60 mg/dl and HDL (good cholesterol) increased by approximately 10 mg/dl. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure also decreased in participants by approximately 10 mmHg. With all the health promoting benefits of spirulina, it is important to consider a few things before taking this medication. As with every supplement, allergy can occur so be careful to monitor and possible allergic symptoms when taking spirulina for the first time. Spirulina contains the amino acid phenylalanine, which can be harmful for individuals who cannot metabolize this amino acid known as phenylketonuria. Since spirulina is a water born blue-green algae it is important that it is not sourced from a contaminated water source. I would recommend going with a reputable supplement company. Spirulina is a very promising natural dietary supplement whose beneficial effects can be seen in almost every organ system in the body. These effects are likely due to its unique blend of antioxidants. Use this supplement with necessary caution and remember that in nature there exist both beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria, a naturopathic doctor can help to explain the difference and point you in the right direction toward optimal health.


dr_shawn

Patient focused integrative health care. Utilizing effective natural approaches designed to be used alone or to compliment conventional medical care.


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