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26/Jul/2022

What is PCOS?

Finding an effective treatment for Polycycstic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is important to me for two distinct reasons. 5-10% of woman are impacted by PCOS in their lifetime making PCOS a common and treatable condition in my Naturopathic practice. The second reason is that it is a condition that my wife has struggled with for many years therefore making it a syndrome that hits close to home.

PCOS is a bit of a misnomer as it is a continuum of symptoms and doesn’t necessarily have to include ovarian cysts. It is however characterized by several common objective findings including irregular periods, infertility, shifts in hormone balance (DHEA, Testosterone, LH, FSH), hirsutism (hair growth on the lip, chin and abdomen), Hair loss (Male pattern head hair loss), acne (typically on the lower jaw), high levels of insulin due to insulin resistance, and unexplained weight gain (especially around the abdomen).

Although we still do not know all the mechanisms involved as to why some women develop PCOS, there does seem to be a genetic component. Environmental toxins such as BPA seem to play a role, and gastrointestinal dysbiosis (unfriendly bacteria in the gut) plays a role as well.

Conventional Treatment for PCOS

Some of the more common conventional treatments of PCOS include birth control pill (to regulate irregular periods and hormone levels), metformin (a insulin sensitizing drug that helps to control blood sugar levels commonly used in diabetes), and spironolactone (a diuretic that also has the ability to block a type of testosterone formation called DHT). While these treatments can be helpful in the short-term they do not always address the root cause of PCOS and therefore ultimately fail in the long term. Some of these causes include hormone disrupters in the environment and diet, and gastrointestinal dysbiosis (leading to the production of inflammatory compounds that compromise insulin function).

Holistic Treatment for PCOS

Luckily there are relatively easy and low cost solutions to many of the fundamental causes of PCOS. As a Naturopathic Doctor I have the privilege and ability to take a detailed medical history. Doing so can point me in the direction(s) as to where these foundational imbalances are occurring. For instance if the patient has a history of gastrointestinal concerns, (constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, colitis) that informs me to focus investigation on the gastrointestinal tract. If a patients main concern is infertility and irregular periods I will shift focus into hormone balance. It may also be the case that a patient has several concern at the same time, which is not uncommon in PCOS. Once I know where to focus we can run specialized tests such as comprehensive stool analysis, female hormone panels, nutrient level panels, food sensitivity testing and environmental toxins. This aids in narrowing down where to implement the bulk of the treatment protocol. There are some general recommendations that are sure to aid all women with PCOS such as exercise, reduced carbohydrate diets and lowering exposure to petrochemicals. However, the medical history and specialized testing can be a guide for more specific recommendations.

Functional Testing for PCOS

A nutrients panel test can help determine if there are specific nutritional deficiencies such as low levels of vitamin D, vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, which tend to be common in PCOS. A female hormone panel can determine if there are specific imbalances with sex hormones. These imbalances can potentially be corrected with dietary recommendations, bio-identical  hormone replacement, and nutraceutical supplements. Evidence of dysbiosis in gut from a stool analysis can be reversed with dietary recommendations that promote colonization of helpful butyrate producing bacteria. Nutraceuticals containing antibiotic herbs can preferentially kill harmful bacteria while protecting good bacteria. Probiotic supplements containing specific strains of bacteria and prebiotic fibre can be very effective. Food sensitivity testing can help confirm if there are specific foods in the diet that are activating an immune response, causing further inflammation in the gut. Environmental toxin analysis would shed light on high levels of exposure to particular toxins, most of which are known hormone disruptors. Even the simple testing of insulin levels and blood sugar can lead to recommendations for easily accessible compounds like inositol, L-carnitine and chromium which can effectively increase insulin sensitivity.

Conclusions

The take home message is that PCOS is an extremely common and often disruptive condition for a significant amount of women worldwide. The conventional treatment of PCOS often does not provide long term solutions and can have significant side effects. Simple and inexpensive solutions through dietary, supplement and lifestyle recommendations can address the root causes of PCOS and bring about significant symptom relief with long-term sustainability. I therefore encourage anyone suffering from PCOS who hasn’t found an effective solution to contact a local Naturopathic Doctor or Functional Medicine Doctor for an assessment. If you would like to contact me, you can do so through the appointment page by clicking the link in the menu bar. The sooner you start to address the root causes the easier and quicker long lasting symptom relief can be achieved. That being said, implementation of a functional medicine approach to PCOS will undoubtably be helpful at any stage and at any age.


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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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30/Jun/2022

What is Long Covid?

Long Covid is defined as symptoms that present 12 weeks after infection and that persist for at least 8 weeks. The most common symptoms being: Fatigue, Shortness of Breath and Cognitive Dysfunction. There will be an estimated 150 million cases of Long Covid cases worldwide as of 2022. Long Covid has the potential to significantly impact the lives of a large portion of the population making day to day activities difficult or near impossible. Although there are ways to reduce the risk factors in developing long covid, there aren’t many proven conventional medications to treat Long Covid once symptoms set in.

We now know that viral fragments, lingering spike protein and persistent inflammation are all likely features of Long Covid. This chronic state of immune activation leads to heart and blood vessel abnormalities, lung impairment, neurological injury and autoimmunity. Luckily, functional medicine practitioners have been at the forefront in developing protocols that work to resolve the aftermath of COVID-19 infection.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction

There is evidence of mitochondrial dysfunction in Long Covid cases as seen through disruption in fatty acid oxidation and altered lactate production. This would also partially explain the chronic fatigue of Long Covid. Functional medicine has a long history of developing protocols to address mitochondrial dysfunction. Many of the compounds used have been showing promise in treating Long Covid. For example, there is evidence of reduced levels of Coenzyme Q10 in COVID-19 infection. CoQ10 is an important compound in mitochondrial function and energy production. Supplementing with this compound along with other mitochondrial supportive nutrients (Niacin, N-Acetyl Cysteine, Alpha Lipoic Acid) have been helpful in treating Long COVID associated fatigue.

Chronic Inflammation

We also know that there is a wealth of data to suggest high levels of inflammatory markers in Long Covid sufferers. Conventionally, steroids such as prednisone have been used to effectively treat Long Covid symptoms. However, steroids can not be used indefinitely as there are significant side effects associated with long term usage. In Naturopathic and Functional Medicine we have evidence of a number of naturally derived compounds that work to treat Long Covid associated inflammation including: Curcumin, Resveratrol, Cannabinoids, Luteolin, Omega 3, and Black Cumin.

Immune System Abnormalities

We also know that there is immune system dysfunction in Long Covid as evidenced in abnormal T-cell behaviour. One of the most important compounds regulating immune function is vitamin D. There is strong evidence that having adequate vitamin D status prior to Covid infection is protective toward Long Covid and giving large doses of vitamin D to both active Covid-19 cases and Long Covid sufferers can be therapeutic.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Long Covid cases also seem to have a higher incidence of prolonged gastrointestinal symptoms and intestinal dysbiosis with organisms that increase inflammation. One of the best ways to treat intestinal inflammation is by promoting the growth of intestinal organisms that produce the short chain fatty acid Butyrate. Food that is high in fibre typically help to promote beneficial species of intestinal organisms. Oats, Apples, Onions, Asparagus, Broccoli, Whole grains, underripe bananas, Legumes, and Berries are some excellent foods shown to promote butyrate production.

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids, and more specifically cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to have some interesting mechanisms in the treatment of Long Covid. Strains of cannabis containing high levels of CBD have been shown to block spike protein from entering the cell (via ACE-2 receptors), modulate ACE-2 receptor density on cell surfaces (less doors of COVID to enter) and reduce inflammation. Therefore cannabinoids are very exciting compounds currently being investigated for use in Long Covid therapy.

Conclusions

Long Covid is a multifaceted chronic disease with effects on various physiological systems. Drugs with a narrow therapeutic scope are not going to be as effective as complex compounds that effect multiple physiological processes at the same time. This type of therapeutic synergy is a hallmark of naturally derived medicines and therefore functional medicine is going to play a pivotal role in dealing with this prevalent and highly complex disease state. In my Toronto practice I have had several cases of long covid that only began to resolve once a functional medicine protocol was put into place. So if you know someone who is suffering from Long Covid I recommend connecting them with a local Naturopathic Doctor or Functional Medicine Practitioner.


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01/Feb/2022

Intro

Our world is facing an epidemic of Long COVID over the next decade. Assuming at least 10% of COVID-19 survivors develop long COVID, which is likely underestimated, it is estimated that 5 million people are facing long COVID globally. Long COVID affects multiple systems in the body and therefore requires a multidisciplinary approach. It is a shared opinion amongst several specialists that a functional medicine approach will be needed to rehab these patients back to health. While we are still in the beginning stages of understanding this chronic disease, there are some emerging ideas on how to treat Long COVID as well as some nutritional supplements that may offer a complete or partial solution.

Defining Long Covid

The now accepted technical name for Long Covid is Post Acute Sequelae of CO-V-2 (PASC). While a widely accepted definition is lacking, there seems to be some consensus on the approximate timing of symptoms and the type of symptoms common to a diagnosis of PASC. Onset is typically anywhere from 2-8 weeks after a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection and may persist up to 6-months or more. Common symptoms include: fatigue, dyspnoea (shortness of breath), cognitive dysfunction, headache, myalgia, chest pain, joint pain, smell and taste dysfunction, cough, hair loss, insomnia, wheezing, rhinorrhea, autonomic dysfunction (POTS), cardiac and gastrointestinal issues.

Risk Factors

Some of the clearly defined risk factors for developing long COVID include: More than 5 initial symptoms, initial disease severity, female sex, pre-existing comorbidity, prior psychiatric disorder, and old age. There are also certain biomarkers in blood samples that appear to have a correlation with Long COVID including: Increased levels of D-dimer, CRP, IL6, procalcitonin, troponin-1, BUN, neutrophils and decreased levels of lymphocytes.

Pathophysiology

Although the exact mechanisms behind what causes PASC in not completely understood recent research has pointed towards a few mechanisms. For some Long Covid sufferers there seems to be evidence of long term tissue damage in the cardiovascular, pulmonary and neurological systems. There is also prevalence of unresolved inflammation, viral persistence, gut dysbiosis and autoimmunity.

Treatments

The obvious question that everyone would like know is if there are treatment interventions to both prevent and alleviate the symptoms of PASC. The most conventionally accepted treatments thus far are: Personalized rehabilitation programs (light aerobic and breathing exercises), analgesics, antidepressants, ivabradine (for POTS like symptoms) and antihistamines. It is also accepted that treatment to regulate immune and mitochondrial function would be useful. This is perhaps where naturopathic and functional medicine can make an enormous impact.

There is emerging research looking into nutraceutical compounds to help prevent and treat PASC, here is an overview:

Mitochondrial Support: The mitochondria is an energy producing organelle within every cell of our body. In high school science we are taught that the mitochondria is the “power plant of the cell”. Disruptions in mitochondrial function can lead to fatigue, muscle pain, headache and immune dysfunction. COVID-19 infections seems to disrupt mitochondrial function through mechanisms still being investigated but include oxidative stress and alterations in genetic mutation.

Co-factor nutrients that help support mitochondrial function are being investigated for use in treating COVID-19 infection and PASC. These nutrients include: L-Carnitine, Alpha lipoic acid and Coenzyme Q10. A CoQ10 deficiency has been reported in COVID-19 patients and therefore supplementation with this particular compound is of great interest amongst researchers.

Inflammation: Inflammation seems to be driving a lot of the symptomatology in PASC. Inflammatory compounds have been identified in multiple organ systems including the brain, lungs, pancreas and heart. As such one natural anti-inflammatory compound has been identified as being a possible adjuvant therapy in both COVID-19 infection and PASC.

Curcumin is a compound derived from Turmeric and has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anticoagulant, anti-platelet and cytoprotective properties. There has been some evidence to suggest that 1000mg of a turmeric supplement restored smell and taste in individuals who lost these senses following COVID-19 infection. Furthermore in vitro studies have demonstrated that curcumin can inhibit coronavirus from entering the cell, and can disrupt some of the signing processes of the virus.

Immune System: Many of the complications of COVID-19 can be attributed to a dysfunctional response of the immune system, either over-reactive or under-reactive. Many compounds that have a direct and indirect role in proper immune system activity are showing promise in treating COVID-19 infection and PASC.

Vitamin D acts as an immune activity regulator, helping to both increase and decrease immune activity as is appropriate to the situation. Some studies have demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation after COVID-19 infection is associated with less ICU admissions and decrease mortality. Another study demonstrated that a combination of vitamin D, selenium and zinc was able to mitigate the course of respiratory complications with COVID-19 infection. It is likely that co-factors and nutrients which help support normal immune activity can shorten the duration of PASC and alleviate symptoms.

Gastrointestinal: Symptoms affecting the gastrointestinal tract are both common in COVID-19 infection and PASC. There is evidence that COVID-19 and its associated spike protein can persist in the gastrointestinal tract for months after confirmed infection.

Autoimmune type syndromes are commonly seen with PASC. One hypothesis for this outcome is a type of molecular mimicry between spike protein and healthy tissue. Spike protein can enter through a compromised digestive tract into the blood stream. Once in the blood stream the immune system can create auto-antibodies in response.

Maintaining a healthy gut/body barrier is emerging as a possible area of treatment in COVID-19 infection and PASC. A healthy environment of commensal bacteria strengthens the gut/body barrier as well as driving the production of healing compounds such as butyrate.

Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that is produced by beneficial bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract. Butyrate can cross the blood brain barrier and influence regeneration of damaged nerve cells. Probiotic strains belonging to the Lactobacillus and Bifidobactrium categories are

essential for Butyrate production. While probiotic supplementation can assist in developing a healthy gut environment most of the benefit comes from eating foods which help these probiotics thrive. A diet rich in fibre and polyphenols is therefore essential in influencing the growth of beneficial butyrate producing probiotics. Fruit, veggies, and polyphenols like curcumin, luteolin and resveratrol are likely an important part of what will be a holistic approach to treating PASC.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 virus has turned out to be a multifaceted disrupter of homeostasis in a large percentage of those who have been infected. A functional medicine approach to treatment is likely going to have the most profound impact in addressing PASC. We are already starting to see some natural compounds (L-Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10, Curcumin, Vitamin D, Selenium Zinc and probiotics) having an impact of this ill defined syndrome. More properly funded research in the area of nutraceuticals and functional medicine for treatment of PASC is much needed. In the meantime Naturopathic Doctors and Functional Medicine Physicians have many tools to start treating PASC with safe and effective protocols.

References

Rattis BAC, Ramos SG, Celes MRN. Curcumin as a Potential Treatment for COVID-19. Front Pharmacol. 2021 May 7;12:675287. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.675287. PMID: 34025433; PMCID: PMC8138567.

Zahedipour F, Hosseini SA, Sathyapalan T, Majeed M, Jamialahmadi T, Al-Rasadi K, Banach M, Sahebkar A. Potential effects of curcumin in the treatment of COVID-19 infection. Phytother Res. 2020 Nov;34(11):2911-2920. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6738. Epub 2020 Jun 23. PMID: 32430996; PMCID: PMC7276879.

Chabot AB, Huntwork MP. Turmeric as a Possible Treatment for COVID-19-Induced Anosmia and Ageusia. Cureus. 2021 Sep 8;13(9):e17829. doi: 10.7759/cureus.17829. PMID: 34660038; PMCID: PMC8502749.

Alexander J, Tinkov A, Strand TA, Alehagen U, Skalny A, Aaseth J. Early Nutritional Interventions with Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin D for Raising Anti-Viral Resistance Against Progressive COVID-19. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 7;12(8):2358. doi: 10.3390/nu12082358. PMID: 32784601; PMCID: PMC7468884.

Pal R, Banerjee M, Bhadada SK, Shetty AJ, Singh B, Vyas A. Vitamin D supplementation and clinical outcomes in COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Endocrinol Invest. 2022 Jan;45(1):53-68. doi: 10.1007/s40618-021-01614-4. Epub 2021 Jun 24. PMID: 34165766; PMCID: PMC8223190.

Ouyang L, Gong J. Mitochondrial-targeted ubiquinone: A potential treatment for COVID-19. Med Hypotheses. 2020 Nov;144:110161. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2020.110161. Epub 2020 Aug 5. PMID: 32795832; PMCID: PMC7403158.

Theoharides TC, Cholevas C, Polyzoidis K, Politis A. Long-COVID syndrome-associated brain fog and chemofog: Luteolin to the rescue. Biofactors. 2021 Mar;47(2):232-241. doi: 10.1002/biof.1726. Epub 2021 Apr 12. PMID: 33847020; PMCID: PMC8250989.

Crook H, Raza S, Nowell J, Young M, Edison P. Long covid-mechanisms, risk factors, and management. BMJ. 2021 Jul 26;374:n1648. doi: 10.1136/bmj.n1648. Erratum in: BMJ. 2021 Aug 3;374:n1944. PMID: 34312178.

Mercola J, Grant WB, Wagner CL. Evidence Regarding Vitamin D and Risk of COVID-19 and Its Severity. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 31;12(11):3361. doi: 10.3390/nu12113361. PMID: 33142828; PMCID: PMC7692080.

Yong SJ. Long COVID or post-COVID-19 syndrome: putative pathophysiology, risk factors, and treatments. Infect Dis (Lond). 2021 Oct;53(10):737-754. doi: 10.1080/23744235.2021.1924397. Epub 2021 May 22. PMID: 34024217; PMCID: PMC8146298.


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25/Jun/2021

Traumatic brain injury is damage to the brain that is the result of a head injury. Quality of life is greatly diminished for those living with a traumatic brain injury. Even fatal results can occur. As the quantity of study devoted to CBD develops, there is the rise in the query that whether CBD can help in treating brain injury or not. Currently, the research indicates that CBD possesses neuroprotective properties. Such effects can include mitigating the effect of head injuries.

A flexible and effective anti-inflammatory cannabinoid that has few to no adverse effects is known as cannabidiol or CBD. The number of conditions treatable with CBD increases daily with the introduction of fresh scientific information. There is emerging evidence that CBD is starting to be used as a treatment for severe traumatic brain injury.

TBI can happen to anyone who suffers from brain trauma, and it can affect every aspect of life.

What Do We Understand from Traumatic Brain Injury?

Any brain injury merits serious concern. The brain goes through a cascade of reactions after sustaining a significant injury. Inflammation, edema, and immunological activation are included in this list.

Though this is a usual and helpful set of reflexes in response to a break or fracture. Additional neurological damage might result from this set of events. 

When brain cells die, the damage to the brain as a whole will soon follow. Common TBI patients include people who have served in the military, professional athletes, and victims of motor vehicle collisions. TBI can have enduring and crippling repercussions, and might manifest emotionally, physically, behaviorally, and socially.

A lot of the time, these impacts are life-altering. As well as cognitive deterioration and impaired motor function, depression and anxiety are common side effects. Severe symptoms among certain people with TBI can also result in seizures. Conventional medicine currently lacks effective treatments for minor TBI, which is an underreported and frequently misdiagnosed condition.

Scientific Evidence Which Says CBD is Effective for TBI

CBD is showing some evidence of usefulness in reducing some of the harmful effects of TBI, specifically in the areas of inflammation and neurological complications.

A paper published in Frontiers in Pharmacology claims that “The Endocannabinoid System Possesses Potentially Drugable Receptor and Enzyme Targets for the Treatment of Varying TBI Pathology.”

In addition, there are numerous studies which suggest that in combination with THC, CBD is neuroprotective, indicating that regular ingestion of cannabinoids reduces the likelihood of a catastrophic brain injury.

More and more research about TBI is becoming available with each passing year. A variety of research studies agree that the ECS plays a major role in the development of mental, bodily, and behavioral responses after a TBI. 

Although further study is needed to produce precise protocols that may be accessible and recommended by mainstream medicine, some preliminary research has already been done. Each example is adding information to the outlook for the condition treated with cannabinoids.

Anecdotal Support for Using CBD as a Treatment for Brain Injury

It takes years for new scientific information to be studied and released. To draw a conclusion, you first must subject the drug being investigated, in this case CBD, to rigorous testing.

While scientific studies take time, evidence exists for the benefits of cannabis in treating brain injury based on anecdotes from patients.

CBD has the potential to improve the quality of life for people who have suffered a brain injury by allowing them to increase their quality of life. 

Final Words

CBD’s brain-healing qualities are not yet fully understood and must be investigated further. Much research is being conducted regularly, and soon we will get a clearer understanding of the role of CBD in TBI. The current research suggests that CBD has some properties which can help increase quality of life in brain injury, but we cannot be sure how effective it is or if it has any side effects. We have to wait for more research to be conducted and results to be announced; only then can we be sure about how effective it is to use CBD as a treatment for brain injury. 

About the author:

Sean Roberts is a writer by profession. He is a full time writer working with NY Marijuana Card, a leading clinic that provides medical marijuana recommendations. He aims at educating people about the medicinal use of cannabis https://nymarijuanacard.com/


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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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30/Oct/2019

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food”; a famous quote from the Classical Grecian physician Hippocrates. Lions Mane mushrooms are a perfect embodiment of this philosophy; as delicious as it is therapeutic. 

Lions mane (Hericium Erinaceus) is a white clumpy mushroom with long dangling spines that tends to grow in late summer/early fall on hardwoods.

I was first introduced to Lion’s Mane a few years ago when I had a few patients tell me they were using an extract of the mushroom to help with memory. Supplements that enhance brain activity, AKA Nootropics, have always tweaked my interest as one of my areas of clinical focus is in neurology. At first I thought that maybe this is the newest “superfood fad” but once I began to investigate the research on this mushroom my opinion quickly changed.

It was clear that Lions Mane had some legitimate therapeutic value in inflammation, the immune system, psychiatric conditions, cognitive enhancement, diabetes, heart disease, bowel disease and cancer.

Lions Mane Mushroom
Preparing Lions Mane Mushroom in my kitchen

Inflammation and Depression

A 2012 study demonstrated that Lions Mane mushroom contains several compounds that have moderate to high levels of antioxidant capacity. This translates into an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. A 2015 study demonstrated that participants who consumed Lions Mane had less depressive symptoms and improvements in blo-markers of depression which was attributed to it’s anti-inflammatory effects.  Another study demonstrated that Lions Mane can enhance immune function possibly by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. 

Immune 

Not only does Lions Mane help boost immune function by reducing oxidative stress, it also seems to benefit intestinal immune function. A study on mice revealed that some of the proteins in the mushroom help encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. 

Naturopathic Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

Memory

Cognitive enhancement is the main reason that I see people taking this mushroom. It is possible that it does have some cognitive enhancement properties but all the research so far has been done on animals. One such study found that mice given a lion’s mane supplement had better object recognition and recognition memory. Other research suggests that Lions Mane may have the potential to prevent or treat conditions of cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Heart Health

Heart Health

Research on rats has demonstrated that Lions Mane may have cholesterol lowering effects and blood pressure lowering effects. Compounds in Lions Mane may help in the production of Nitric Oxide, which helps keep blood vessels relaxed. 

Cancer

The antioxidant properties of Lions Mane may contribute to some anti-cancer effects seen in rat and in vitro studies. One in vitro study indicated that Lions Mane has activity against human leukemia cells. Another study showed that in mice, Lions Mane has activity against Liver, Colon and Gastric cancer cells. 

Diabetes

After 4 weeks of Lions Mane supplementation, rats with diabetes had lower blood sugar levels than those who did not receive the mushroom.  Diabetes can often result in life altering nerve damage. A 2015 study showed that diabetic rats given an extract of Lions Mane had reduced nerve pain and improved antioxidant activity after 6 weeks. 

Intestinal Health

Digestive Health

I previously discussed how Lions mane can have anti-inflammatory effect of the digestive tract, as well as benefitting the growth of “good” intestinal bacteria. Another study demonstrated that Lions Mane has some interesting antimicrobial effects. Notably, Lions Mane seems to inhibit the growth of H-pylori, a bacteria responsible for close to 80% of stomach ulcers.

Nerve Repair

One of the most fascinating health benefits of Lions Mane came out of a rat study. Rats with nerve damage who were given daily extracts of Lions mane had quicker nerve cell regeneration than those who did not. 

Culinary 

Up until a few weeks ago I thought Lions Mane was an exotic mushroom that was only used therapeutically as a supplement.  Recently, I found myself in a local Farmers Market and low and behold a mushroom farmer was selling fresh Lions Mane; I was amazed! I asked the farmer “how do I prepare this”? He told me to cut the mushroom in ½ inch slices and in a hot pan with butter, sear both sides. So, I bought some and followed his advice, and discovered that Lions Mane is absolutely delicious! It is now one of my favorite cooking mushrooms and I have since heard from many foodies and chefs that it is one of their favorites too. So let food be thy medicine everyone, and cook up some Lions Mane this fall!

Citations


Leonard, Jayne. “What are the benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms?.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 22 Oct. 2018. Web.
30 Oct. 2019. <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323400.php>


Leonard, J. (2018, October 22). “What are the benefits of lion’s mane mushrooms?.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323400.php.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom, <i>Hericium erinaceus</i> (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. Suppresses H<sub>2</sub>O<sub>2</sub>-Induced Oxidative Damage and LPS-Induced Inflammation in HT22 Hippocampal Neurons and BV2 Microglia.
Kushairi N, Phan CW, Sabaratnam V, David P, Naidu M.
Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Aug 1;8(8). pii: E261. doi: 10.3390/antiox8080261.
PMID: 31374912 [PubMed] Free Article
Thirteen-Week Oral Toxicity Evaluation of Erinacine AEnriched Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), Mycelia in Sprague-Dawley Rats.
Lee LY, Li IC, Chen WP, Tsai YT, Chen CC, Tung KC.
Int J Med Mushrooms. 2019;21(4):401-411. doi: 10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.2019030320.
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In Vitro and In Vivo Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori by Ethanolic Extracts of Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes).
Wang G, Zhang X, Maier SE, Zhang L, Maier RJ.
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Dietary Supplementation of Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes), and Spatial Memory in Wild-Type Mice.
Rossi P, Cesaroni V, Brandalise F, Occhinegro A, Ratto D, Perrucci F, Lanaia V, Girometta C, Orrù G, Savino E.
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A Polysaccharide Isolated from Mycelia of the Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom Hericium erinaceus (Agaricomycetes) Induced Apoptosis in Precancerous Human Gastric Cells.
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09/Oct/2019

Intro to Afghan Kush

I chose to review Pure Farms Afghan Kush because it is a best seller on the Ontario Cannabis Store and because it’s a genetically pure strain. Kush originated in Hindu Kush mountain region sandwiched between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Geographically, Afghan Kush is therefore pretty much as authentic as you can get. In fact, Pure Farms notes that this strain is the building block for many modern Kush varieties. 

Pure Farms Afghan Kush is a medium to high potency Indica. The Farm is located in British Columbia. They have been cultivating for 25 years. The cannabis is grown in a modern green house facility with natural light and modern app-based quality assurance systems. 

Cannabis Buds

Appearance

The batch that I sampled was around 18% THC (mid-high potency) but it can land anywhere between 16-22%.  When I took out my first bud I could see that it was heavily frosted with trichomes. I was also struck by the vibrant green color of the bud, which is an indication of its freshness and lack of oxidation. The texture was a bit drier than I prefer but the smoke was not harsh and very flavorful. 

Smell Test

Immediately after opening the package I took a good whiff of the buds. The aroma was pleasant with definite floral and earthy notes. I knew right away that Myrcene and Linalool would be two prominent terpenes in this strain. I was able to confirm that Linalool and Myrcene were indeed part of this varieties profile, along with Nerolidol, Caryophyllene and Limonene (OCS.ca). Linalool and Myrcene are typically associated with relaxation, so I knew, even before smoking, that this would probably be a very relaxing strain. 

Naturopathic Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

The experience

I took 3 draws of the Afghan Kush from a joint. The effects started within 5-10 minutes and peaked around 45 minutes after smoking. The primary sensation was a nice enjoyable relaxation throughout the body and head. I would say that the body effect was not as potent as some other Indica’s that I have tried (see my review of MK Ultra). The high felt very clean and authentic, like I was transported back in time to when the first Indica strains were being cultivated. Despite the relatively high THC content there was no paranoia. I did develop a slight headache, and dizziness toward the end of the high (might have just taken a bit too much).  Initially the experience wasn’t very sedating; however, towards the end I did feel quite sleepy. Therefore I would recommend this as an evening/night strain, not ideal for daytime use. 

Final Thoughts

I recommend this strain to the cannabis connoisseur and those interested in trying something with a great deal of authenticity. I could also see this strain being helpful for tight sore muscles and issues with sleep and stress. Even if it was primarily a placebo effect, I enjoyed feeling connected to the roots of cannabis cultivation through this very authentic Indica.

https://youtu.be/zXiljCm2yoU

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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