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July 30, 2013

Optimizing Thyroid Health

Secrets of Optimizing Thyroid Health

By Zoltan P. Rona, M.D., M.Sc

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland situated in the neck wrapped around the windpipe located just below the Adam’s apple. It controls metabolism and virtually every aspect of health including weight, mood, energy and circulation. Damage to the thyroid can lead to underactivity (hypothyroidism), overactivity (hyperthyroidism), thyroid inflammation (thyroiditis) and thyroid cancer.

The thyroid uses iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to manufacture the thyroid hormones T3 (triiodotyrosine) and T4 (thyroxine). About 80% of the hormones made are T4 while 20% is T3. It is T3 that is the more biologically active form of thyroid hormone. In order to have adequate amounts of T3 there has to be some conversion of T4 into T3. This is something that can occur both inside and outside of the thyroid. 

The thyroid is controlled by a rather complex feedback mechanism. When the hypothalamus in the brain senses there is an inadequate amount of thyroid hormones present, it releases a hormone known as TRH (Thyrotropin-releasing hormone) which in turn tells the pituitary gland to release TSH which then stimulates the thyroid gland to synthesize and release more thyroid hormone (T3 and T4) into the circulation. Thus, the level of TSH goes higher in order to help the thyroid manufacture more of the hormones. The reverse occurs when there is an excess of thyroid hormone, a condition referred to as hyperthyroidism. 

Causes of thyroid gland damage

1.Radiation exposure – Think of the radiation catastrophe that has just occurred due to the Japan earthquake of March 2011. The thyroid is quite vulnerable to radiation. You do not have to be a victim of any radiation disaster to get thyroid damage. CT scans, x-rays and nuclear medical tests are more common ways people damage their thyroids. One especially unfortunate decision in the 1950s had dermatologists treat acne in teenagers with x-rays. As a direct result of this, thousands developed thyroid damage leading to various cancers. Let’s also not forget the numerous types of radiation therapies for different types of cancer that end up destroying the thyroid.

2.Overconsumption of soy – Despite a great deal of evidence that soy products are a health benefit in terms of cancer prevention, too much consumption can tip the balance in favor of boosting estrogen function. High estrogen activity weakens the thyroid. The advice here would be to restrict soy to one serving a day and stay with cultured soy products only (tofu, miso, tempeh, soy milk).

3.High doses of lithium – In high doses (1200 mg daily) lithium is one of the treatments used by psychiatrists for bipolar disorder. These very high doses of lithium can cause hypothyroidism. Clever doctors of Complementary and Alternative Medicine have used this side effect of high dose lithium to reverse an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). Lithium, in low doses (10 – 20 mg daily) is effective as a memory booster in older adults. 

4.Amiodarone – This is a drug often prescribed for abnormal heart rhythms. Unfortunately, it can damage the thyroid.

5.Iodine deficiency or iodine excess – Iodine deficiency is probably one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Too much or too little iodine can damage the thyroid. The World Health Organization in 1990 estimated that 28.9% of the population was iodine deficient. Severe deficiency of iodine produces a large lump in the neck known as a goiter. It can also produce mental retardation, impaired mental function and hypothyroidism. Excessive iodine has been documented to result in thyroiditis, goiter, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and acne. Intakes of 1000 mg/day are probably safe for the majority of the population but with iodine, we must respect biochemical individuality to be safe. Even those who use large amounts of kelp or dulse will very rarely develop a problem with iodine side effects.  There are some very sensitive individuals who will develop adverse skin and thyroid reactions to even a few milligrams of iodine. Fortunately, this is very rare.

6.Thyroid Toxic Foods – The overconsumption of uncooked “goitrogenic” foods can weaken thyroid function and these include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, turnips, cauliflower, kohlrabi, radishes, cabbage, kale and millet. These foods, very much like soy products, are non-toxic to the thyroid in moderate amounts. It’s only when one consumes these foods in large quantities that thyroid function is weakened. This, in itself, is an aspect of biochemical individuality.

7.Other thyroid toxins - Tobacco smoke, perchlorate, fluoride, fungal (candida) infestations, toxic heavy metals like mercury and lead and a high sugar intake have also been reported to damage the thyroid. Once again this may be true for only some people and is not a generalized phenomenon.

8.Stress – This is a frequently overlooked cause of thyroid damage but is certainly one of the causes of suboptimal thyroid function. 

It is conservatively estimated that at least 60 million people in North America have some form of thyroid dysfunction. At least 10% of these people go undiagnosed. There remains a great deal of disagreement about making the diagnosis of thyroid disease between glandular specialists (endocrinologists) and natural health care practitioners.

Conventional endocrinologists are a rather dogmatic bunch when it comes to thyroid health. Most follow strict guidelines in making a diagnosis of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and tend to dismiss symptoms that suggest the disease may be present when lab tests are not abnormal enough for them to treat the disorder. They are also quite adamant about the prescription of synthetic chemicals to correct the condition and are generally of the belief that natural solutions are useless or potentially dangerous. 


When the thyroid gland has become damaged and fails to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormone, the TSH levels will remain high. If the TSH blood test is above 2.0 there is a strong chance that your thyroid is underactive. The normal range for the TSH is 0.4 – 2.0 but this is an area of controversy with the conventional medical forces saying that the upper limit should be 5.0.

There are a large number of symptoms that could make you think that you have an underactive thyroid. You do not have to have all these symptoms to be diagnosed as being hypothyroid but the majority will have several of these symptoms if their thyroid is not in optimal health. Combined with a high TSH a trial therapy for hypothyroidism is warranted.


1.Fatigue – If you feel exhausted and weak despite getting 8 – 10 hours of sleep you may well have an underactive thyroid. 

2.Weight gain – If you have been on a low calorie diet, exercise daily and have eliminated all possible food allergies (especially gluten) yet you are still not losing weight, chances are high that your thyroid function needs help. There may be swelling in the eyes, face, arms or legs.

3.Low body temperatures – If your body temperatures on average are below 97.4 F, chances are you are lacking an adequate supply of thyroid hormone. People who have hypothyroidism often feel cold in normal temperature rooms. They also do not tolerate cold temperatures (cold intolerance) as well as their normal thyroid function friends.  

4.Depression and Anxiety – When there is no apparent cause for depression, anxiety, irritability, short-term memory loss, panic attacks and insomnia, there is a strong chance that hypothyroidism could be involved. This is not to say that all mental health issues are related to a low thyroid activity but that it is a commonly overlooked reason for suboptimal mental function. The common practice is to drug these symptoms with anti-depressants. Unfortunately, this does not correct the thyroid deficiency.

5.High cholesterol – When a high blood level of cholesterol does not respond to diet, exercise or cholesterol lowering supplements, hypothyroidism may well be the cause. A high cholesterol reading combined with fatigue and obesity is almost always due to an underactive thyroid. Even in the face of normal blood levels of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), a trial therapy to reverse low thyroid function should be attempted.

6.Infertility and Menstrual Abnormalities – Infertility is quite a common symptom of hypothyroidism. In my practice I have seen at least a dozen cases of successful pregnancies after treatment was started with natural thyroid hormone even though the thyroid blood tests were quite normal. In the majority of cases, the TSH was normal and the patient was assumed to have normal thyroid function. Quite commonly, a low libido and menstrual difficulties (pain, excessive bleeding and cramping) are associated with a previously unsuspected case of hypothyroidism.

7.Constipation – If you drink plenty of water and consume lots of fiber and still need to resort to laxatives to get regular bowel movements, consider a low thyroid condition as a potential cause.

8.Hair Loss – This is a common symptom of hypothyroidism and is particularly distressing to women who reach the menopausal years. Hair can become brittle, coarse and dry, breaking or falling out easily. Although hair loss is often blamed on low estrogen levels, a more common finding is hypothyroidism. Look for an unusual loss of hair in the outer edge of the eyebrows. This is a common manifestation of hypothyroidism.

9.Dry skin – Fragile and thin skin that does not respond well to moisturizers or vitamin E creams is not necessarily a sign of normal aging but may be an indicator that your thyroid is not functioning well. Cold hands and feet are sometimes also connected to a low thyroid.

10.Carpal Tunnel Problems – This is a painful wrist condition that is under-recognized as being associated with a low thyroid condition. Hypothyroidism could also be the unexpected cause of chronic tendonitis and joint pain virtually anywhere in the body. Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches and pains are not always a sign of exotic problems like Fibromyalgia but could simply be due to a low thyroid.

11.Neck swelling or discomfort - A thyroid gland enlarges in a futile effort to make more thyroid hormone. As a result of this gland enlargement (a.k.a. goiter), one can have a sensation that there is swelling in the neck and develop some pain or hoarseness due to this.  

12.Family history – It is quite common to see a low thyroid condition in family members of those who suffer from hypothyroidism. Although it is not a given, there is a strong chance you will develop the condition if your mother or father was diagnosed with a low thyroid.

Treating Hypothyroidism

There are various levels of treatment for an underactive thyroid gland. It all depends on severity of symptoms, the blood levels of TSH, T3, T4 and the thyroid antibodies. Body temperatures are also a crucial factor in the treatment protocol. Sorting all this out is a fairly complex issue and is best dealt with the help of a natural health care practitioner.

For mild cases:

These are cases where the TSH is greater than 2.0, underarm body temperatures are on average below 97.4F and where there are one or more of the signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid present (e.g. fatigue, weight gain, high cholesterol, etc.). A combination of the following supplements will often help return the thyroid function to a more optimal level:

L-Tyrosine – 1000 - 3000 mg daily – the body will use this amino acid to manufacture more thyroid hormone. Often, this amino acid is used as a treatment for fatigue or mild depression.

Zinc citrate or picolinate: 50 mg daily. Zinc and copper are both needed in the control of thyroid hormone production.

Copper citrate – 4 mg daily.  The ideal zinc to copper ratio in the body is approximately 8:1 (zinc:copper).

Selenium – 200 mcg. daily is required to help convert T4 (inactive) to T3 (active) thyroid hormone. Selenium is also important to prevent the formation of abnormal antibodies that can attack the thyroid leading to disease.  

Vitamin D – 10,000 IU daily. Vitamin D has been linked to both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Blood levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D should be done prior to supplementation.

Iodine as potassium iodide – 1 - 10 mg. daily. Iodine is part of active thyroid hormone. The use of iodine is often strongly criticized by endocrinologists as potentially dangerous. Studies, however, have proven that most people can easily tolerate doses as high as 1000 mgs a day without any harm.

Homeopathic thyroid (5-10 drops twice daily). There are reports that homeopathic thyroid is effective at reversing many of the signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid. It may be a worthwhile product to try for those homeopathically inclined.

If 6 weeks or more of this supplement regime fails to do much for any of the signs and symptoms, a trial therapy with natural desiccated thyroid (30 mg twice daily) is recommended. Lab tests and symptoms should be monitored and dosages adjusted accordingly. I must point out that this is a type of treatment that is vehemently opposed by conventional endocrinologists who insist that desiccated thyroid is unacceptable because it fails to maintain stable thyroid hormone blood levels. 

Endocrinologists believe that synthetic thyroid hormone (Synthroid, Eltroxin, L-throxine) is the correct treatment. Unfortunately, while synthetic thyroid hormone may return blood levels of T3 and T4 to normal, it does not always help the hypothyroid symptoms as well as desiccated thyroid. This remains an area of great debate between natural health care practitioners and endocrinologists. Personally, I prefer to treat the patient and not the blood tests. 

In mild cases, the use of homeopathy or the supplementation of the amino acid L-Tyrosine, zinc, copper, selenium and iodine combined with a sugar-free, caffeine-free diet can be used.  Dosages of these nutrients depend on various biochemical tests as well as trial and error.  For some cases, this may not be effective and actual thyroid hormone may be required.


The preferred thyroid hormone treatment is desiccated thyroid, which seems to be effective for at least 80% of the cases. For some this will not work and their thyroid can only be regulated by a pure T4 prescription (L-thyroxine).  See a natural health care practitioner to get personalized therapy.

For moderate to severe cases:

These are cases where natural thyroid boosting supplements have been tried for at least 6 weeks and no benefits have been seen. Usually the TSH is above 5.0 and there may even be a swelling in the thyroid gland area. In such cases, one could certainly use desiccated thyroid starting at 30 mgs. twice daily and monitor the hormone blood levels. In cases that are poorly controlled by the natural thyroid extract, the use of synthetic thyroid hormone may be needed. In my experience, this may only be true for about 10% of individuals diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

Many people have also read about the Wilson’s Syndrome protocol for an underactive thyroid. To call Wilson Syndrome’s therapy controversial would be an understatement. This treatment is so complex that a book and therapeutic manual have been written to help patients do the therapy correctly. It involves the scrupulous monitoring of body temperatures several times daily and the use of time released capsules of T3 (active thyroid hormone).  One basically uses increasing doses of T3 to raise the body temperatures and adjusts dosages accordingly. For more information on this protocol see

Moderate or severe cases of hypothyroidism are best treated by a family physician. It’s usually a good idea to get an ultrasound done in order to rule out more serious thyroid conditions such as thyroid cancer. Most family doctors will refer their more difficult cases to an endocrinologist for further assessment and treatment.


Other Thyroid Disorders

Although not as common as hypothyroidism, these conditions are often misdiagnosed and treated as if the issue were really one of anxiety, stress or some other mental illness requiring tranquilizers or anti-depressants as opposed to a real physical illness.


Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid Disease)


Hyperthyroidism (a.k.a. thyrotoxicosis or Grave’s disease) is a condition whereby the thyroid gland produces too much hormone.  It is most commonly seen in women between the ages of 20 and 40.  The cause is unknown but often associated with severe stress. It produces a hyper metabolic state, which may be associated with a few or more of the following signs and symptoms:


• Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland); a goiter may also be associated with iodine deficiency and a low thyroid condition. Lab tests help to sort this out.

• Rapid heart rate (tachycardia) and palpitations. 

• Warm, fine, moist skin; nail problems; thinning hair. 

• Tremor. 

• Heart beat irregularities and high blood pressure.  

• Nervousness, tremors and hyperactivity.

• Increased perspiration; heat intolerance. 

• Weight loss often similar to that occurring in systemic cancer 

• Diarrhea and increased appetite. 

• Insomnia; fatigue; weakness. 

• Increased bowel movements.

• Exophthalmos (protruding eyeballs); blurred and double vision.

• Myopathy (muscle pain and weakness)


Prognosis with conventional medical treatments is generally very good but variable from person to person. Conventional treatments include anti-thyroid drugs such as Tapazole, radioactive iodine, and surgery.  Beta-blocker drugs may be required to prevent heart beat irregularities and high blood pressure in the more severe cases.


Natural treatments can often reduce or eliminate the need for drugs and surgery.  This is especially true if the disease is in its early stages. The mineral lithium can suppress thyroid function almost as well as prescription anti-thyroid drugs with fewer side effects.  Like calcium or zinc, lithium is a mineral. It is most often associated with the treatment of bipolar disease (manic depressive disease) but in these cases the dosages used are very high (1200 mg daily) and there are side effects that can adversely affect the kidneys. 


In hyperthyroidism, the lithium dosages used are in the neighborhood of 10 – 100 mg daily. One of the side effects of high dose lithium therapy, usually prescribed for bipolar illness, is hypothyroidism.  The doses used for suppression of the thyroid gland are much less than those used in bipolar disorder and far less toxic. Toxicity of lithium can be curtailed by the use of omega-3 fatty acids, such as the ones found in fish and seafood. If you want to avoid eating fish because of their high mercury content, you can supplement with about 4000 mg of omega-3 oil capsules.


High doses of essential fatty acids (evening primrose oil, fish oils and flax seed oil) and mega doses of vitamin E (3000 I.U. or more daily) are also usually effective at cooling off an overactive thyroid gland. 


Many foods help suppress thyroid function naturally and may be wise to increase in the diet of anyone suffering from a hyperthyroid state.  These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, peaches, pears, rutabagas, soybeans, spinach and turnips.  

 Supplements Dr. Rona recommends to his patients for Thyroid & Hypothyroid support: CLICK HERE

Hashimoto’s Disease


Hashimoto’s Disease can be quite confusing for many people to comprehend. It is a type of autoimmune inflammatory disease of the thyroid gland in which the immune system makes antibodies that attack proteins in the thyroid gland causing gradual destruction of the thyroid gland itself leading to eventual hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid function). 


Hashimoto’s belongs to the same category of diseases as celiac disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, myasthenia gravis, scleroderma and ulcerative colitis.


In Hashimoto’s there could be a goiter and high levels of antibodies against thyroglobulin (TG) and thyroid peroxidase (TPO). A fine needle biopsy of the gland will show large numbers of white blood cells (lymphocytes and macrophages) and an ultrasound usually shows an enlarged thyroid gland.


People with Hashimoto’s have variable symptoms. Some do not complain of any problems but many will feel a neck enlargement with discomfort or pain. In severe cases, swallowing or breathing can become difficult and occasionally require surgery. Thyroid hormone production may periodically become excessive, producing some of the symptoms of an overactive thyroid. Hormone levels may cycle between very high and very low levels, eventually settling into hypothyroidism.


Common symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, depression, hair loss, weight changes, muscle and joint aches and pains as well as fertility problems. In the case of a symptomatic goiter, most doctors will prescribe thyroid hormone (usually L-thyroxine). Conventional medical doctors and endocrinologists, however, will not treat Hashimoto’s unless there is a goiter or the TSH is outside normal limits. Complementary and alternative practitioners will often treat the condition, depending on the symptoms, with low dose desiccated thyroid (natural thyroid hormone replacement therapy).


PABA (para amino benzoic acid), one of the B complex vitamins, in doses between 3000 and 5000 mgs daily can also be of help in weakening the impact of autoimmune diseases.  The herb, curcumin, an extract of tumeric has potent anti-inflammatory effects in just about all autoimmune disorders.  The same can be said for the mineral, selenium in slowing any autoimmune reaction.  Studies have also shown that low dose DHEA (10 - 100 mg./day), progesterone, pregnenolone and/or testosterone (5 - 100 mg./day) can be of some help.  


Low stomach acidity is a common finding in autoimmune diseases as is pancreatic enzyme insufficiency.  Lab tests can help your doctor or naturopath determine whether or not supplementation of the diet with betaine and pepsin, glutamic acid and/or pancreatin is necessary.  Plant based proteolytic intestinal enzymes are another option which might not only help digestion but also reverse the inflammatory process.


Some doctors have found that delayed food allergies may be responsible for autoimmune disease.  The commonest of these are milk, dairy products, wheat, gluten, chocolate, and stimulants like coffee, tea, cigarette smoke, nicotine gums or patches and caffeinated soft drinks.  


Mercury hypersensitivity due to dental amalgams should also be suspected in any autoimmune disease.  Aside from food and chemical allergies, victims of Hashimoto’s may be suffering from extreme stress, a variety of other hormonal imbalances (pituitary, adrenal, gonadal, etc.), bowel infections (especially Candida, parasites and fungi) and other digestive problems, especially the leaky gut syndrome. These may all need to be addressed for a complete recovery to take place.   If possible, consult a naturopath or holistic doctor in your area for a nutritional assessment and a personalized supplement program.


Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practices Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of “The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.” He has also published several Canadian best-selling books, including “Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin.” 




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Stephen Langer, M.D. and James Scheer. Solved: The Riddle of Illness by Keats Publishing, USA 2000.

Ridha Arem, M.D.  The Thyroid Solution , Ballantine Books, USA 1999.

Iham Amir Al-Juboori , Rafi Al-Rawi, Hussein Kadhem A-Hakeim. Estimation of Serum Copper, Manganese, Selenium, and Zinc in Hypothyroidism Patients. IUFS J Biol 2009, 68(2): 121-126

Mary Shomon. What is the optimal TSH for Thyroid Patients?

The Iodine Deficiency Disorders.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Thyroid Disease.

Jose, B., James, A (2007). Challenges of treating thyroid disease: the need for a revisit.JRSM 100: 68-68

Singer PA, Cooper DS, Levy EG, et al.
Treatment guidelines for patients with hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
JAMA. 1995;273:808-812.

G Placidi, A Patronelli, M Boldrini, Prevalence of Psychiatric Disorders in Thyroid Diseased Patients, Neuopsychobiology, Vol 38(4) 1998.

July 30, 2013

Weight Loss Naturally

Weight Loss Naturally

Thinking of a crash diet to shed a few pounds from winter’s inactivity? Unfortunately, less than 2 per cent of people who go on a diet, regardless of the type, keep the weight off after a year. In the long run, the more you diet the more weight you gain. This occurs because dieting lowers metabolic rate – the rate at which you burn off calories – by putting the body in a conservation mode.

The past decade has seen low-fat diets come in and out of fashion. The latest fad appears to be no- or low-carbohydrate diets like the “Enter the Zone Diet,” the “Sugar Busters Diet” and the “Protein Power Diet.” While all these diets work for some people with a tendency to convert carbohydrates into fat storage, they fail miserably for others.

High protein diets work because they encourage water loss and they’re low in calories (1,200 to 1,600 calories per day). All can cause varying degrees of ketosis, a high acid condition in the blood. Ketosis can cause dizziness, diarrhea, weakness, headaches, gout, dehydration, low blood pressure, accelerated atherosclerosis and a loss of lean body mass (muscle, bone and other organs). There are far safer ways to lose fat and, in the long run, excess weight. Here’s what works for just about everyone:

Eat More Fat Burning Foods

Snacking on citrus fruits between meals will help you get rid of unwanted fat. That’s because they’re a terrific source of vitamin C, which increases fat burning by converting an amino acid called tyrosine into adrenaline. Adrenaline not only increases fat breakdown but raises energy, too. Throughout your day, try snacking on two grapefruits, one orange and one lemon squeezed into water.

Another effective fat reducer is lecithin, found mainly in soybeans. Soybeans are proven cholesterol-lowering agents that bolster your body’s ability to dissolve fatty deposits. Use cultured, organic soy products like miso, tofu and tempeh at least three times each week as a source of lecithin and high quality protein. Another option is to use lecithin granules, available at health food stores (1 tbsp/15 mLtwice daily).

Eat more apples, applesauce, berries and fresh fruit. They’re high in pectin, which limits the amount of fat your cells can absorb. Pectin can also lower your cholesterol and levels of body fat. At least two apples or servings of berries each day are recommended.

Favour Foods that Fight Water Retention

Asparagus contains the chemical asparagine, an alkaloid that stimulates the kidneys and improves fluid elimination. Asparagine also breaks down fat and helps to remove waste from the body. Aim for at least one daily serving of asparagus.

Beets are another diuretic food that assist the lymphatics, liver and kidneys to flush out body fats and water. Brussels sprouts are also friendly to dieters. They’re especially stimulating to the pancreas, which releases hormones and enzymes that improve waste elimination. Cabbage contains sulphur and iodine – natural diuretics that help melt away fat.

Other vegetables that help rid the body of excess water, waste or fat include carrots, celery, cucumbers, horseradish, onions, tomatoes, lettuce and garlic. Each day, munch on a salad featuring these vegetables. For extra health benefits, and still more diuretic and fat- dissolving action, dress your salad with a few tablespoons of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Why not combine the vinegar with flaxseed oil, which also has special metabolism-boosting properties.

For weight loss and good health, it’s also important to drink 2 litres of water a day, sipping on it frequently. Water is essential for enzymes to work well and for a speedier metabolism. Alcohol, pop and anything containing concentrated sugar will slow metabolism but whet your appetite.

Use More Fibre

High fibre foods control weight effectively by reducing the caloric density of the diet. This slows the rate of calorie ingestion and leaves

you feeling fuller longer.

Foods earning top marks for fibre include the brans of grains, psyllium seed powder, ground flaxseeds, root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips and kohlrabi, green beans, green peas and unsalted seeds and nuts. Try adding two to three tablespoons (25-45 mL) of ground flaxseeds or psyllium powder to your morning whole- grain cereal. (To avoid gas and bloating, build up gradually to this amount.) This simple act will reward you with a highly beneficial fat- lowering effect.

Choose Effective Weight Loss Supplements

There are no magic bullets for weight loss. The following natural products, however, can make it easier for some people to change their eating and exercise habits. (Although there isn’t space for discussion, aerobic exercise, strength training and behaviour modification are important considerations in any weight loss program.)

Chitosan is derived from chitin, which is extracted from the hard parts of shellfish. When taken before a meal (three or four 500 mg capsules), chitosan binds fat in the small intestine blocking its absorption. In lab animals, it’s been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and atherosclerotic plaque. Excessive use of chitosan could potentially cause the malabsorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).

5-HTP (5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan) raises the circulating levels of serotonin and melatonin. These neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) are needed for sleep, mood regulation and appetite control. Unlike L- tryptophan, 5-HTP does not require a prescription. Effective adult dosages are 50 to 300 mgs three times daily between meals. The only known side effect is nausea, which disappears with a lower dose or after two weeks of using the same dose.

L-Tyrosine promotes the healthy functioning of the adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands (thyroid hormone is made in the body from tyrosine). Tyrosine converts into norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that suppresses appetite. It also stimulates the release of growth hormone, which causes muscle growth while reducing body fat.

Ma huang (ephedra) contains ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and other compounds that burn fat and boost metabolic rate. Too much can cause anxiety, nervousness, palpitations, high blood pressure, prostate problems and insomnia. Start with the lowest possible dose recommended on the bottle and build up gradually to tolerance.

Kelp is a source of iodine as well as dozens of other minerals. It has a mild fat burning effect, possibly because of its ability to stimulate the thyroid gland. Small amounts are harmless, but excess iodine can cause acne in some individuals.


No two people will get exactly the same results using any of these diet and supplement recommendations. Try a few of them or try them all. Chances are high, you’ll be pleased with the results.

July 30, 2013

Leaky Gut

Leaky Gut

The leaky gut syndrome is the name given to a very common health disorder in which the basic organic defect (lesion) is an intestinal lining which is more permeable (porous) than normal. The abnormally large spaces present between the cells of the gut wall allow the entry of toxic material into the bloodstream that would, in healthier circumstances, be repelled and eliminated. The gut becomes leaky in the sense that bacteria, fungi, parasites and their toxins, undigested protein, fat and waste normally not absorbed into the bloodstream in the healthy state, pass through a damaged, hyperpermeable, porous or "leaky" gut. This can be verified by special gut permeability urine tests, microscopic examination of the lining of the intestinal wall as well as the bloodstream with phase contrast or darkfield microscopy of living whole blood.

Why is The Leaky Gut Syndrome Important?

The leaky gut syndrome is almost always associated with autoimmune disease and reversing autoimmune disease depends on healing the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Any other treatment is just symptom suppression. An autoimmune disease is defined as one in which the immune system makes antibodies against its own tissues. Diseases in this category include lupus, alopecia areata, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Sjogren's syndrome, vitiligo, thyroiditis, vasculitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, urticaria (hives), diabetes and Raynaud's disease. Physicians are increasingly recognizing the importance of the gastrointestinal tract in the development of allergic or autoimmune disease. Understanding the leaky gut phenomenon not only helps us see why allergies and autoimmune diseases develop but also helps us with safe and effective therapies to bring the body back into balance.

Due to the enlarged spaces between the cells of the gut wall, larger than usual protein molecules are absorbed before they have a chance to be completely broken down as occurs when the intestinal lining is intact. The immune system starts making antibodies against these larger molecules because it recognizes them as foreign, invading substances. The immune system starts treating them as if they had to be destroyed. Antibodies are made against these proteins derived from previously harmless foods.Human tissues have antigenic sites very similar to those on foods, bacteria, parasites, candida or fungi. The antibodies created by the leaky gut phenomenon against these antigens can get into various tissues and trigger an inflammatory reaction when the corresponding food is consumed or the microbe is encountered. Autoantibodies are thus created and inflammation becomes chronic. If this inflammation occurs in a joint, autoimmune arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis) develops. If it occurs in the brain, myalgic encephalomyelitis (a.k.a. chronic fatigue syndrome) may be the result. If it occurs in the blood vessels, vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) is the resulting autoimmune problem. If the antibodies end up attacking the lining of the gut itself, the result may be colitis or Crohn's disease. If it occurs in the lungs, asthma is triggered on a delayed basis every time the individual consumes the food which triggered the production of the antibodies in the first place. It is easy to see that practically any organ or body tissue can become affected by food allergies created by the leaky gut. Symptoms, especially those seen in conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, can be multiple and severely debilitating.

The inflammation that causes the leaky gut syndrome also damages the protective coating of antibodies of the IgA family normally present in a healthy gut. Since IgA helps us ward off infections, with leaky gut problems we become less resistant to viruses, bacteria, parasites and candida. These microbes are then able to invade the bloodstream and colonize almost any body tissue or organ. When this occurs in the gums, periodontal disease results. If it happens in the jaw, tooth extraction or root canals might be necessary to cure the infection.

In addition to the creation of food allergies by the leaky gut, the bloodstream is invaded by bacteria, fungi and parasites that, in the healthy state, would not penetrate the protective barrier of the gut. These microbes and their toxins, if present in large enough amounts, can overwhelm the liver's ability to detoxify. This results in symptoms such as confusion, memory loss, brain fog or facial swelling when the individual is exposed to a perfume or to cigarette smoke that he or she had no adverse reactions to prior to the development of the leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky gut syndrome also creates a long list of mineral deficiencies because the various carrier proteins present in the gastrointestinal tract that are needed to transport minerals from the intestine to the blood are damaged by the inflammation process. For example, magnesium deficiency (low red blood cell magnesium) is quite a common finding in conditions like fibromyalgia despite a high magnesium intake through the diet and supplementation. If the carrier protein for magnesium is damaged, magnesium deficiency develops as a result of malabsorption. Muscle pain and spasms can occur as a result. Similarly, zinc deficiency due to malabsorption can result in hair loss or baldness as occurs in alopecia areata. Copper deficiency can occur in an identical way leading to high blood cholesterol levels and osteoarthritis. Further, bone problems develop as a result of the malabsorption of calcium, boron, silicon and manganese.

The Causes

The leaky gut syndrome is basically caused by inflammation of the gut lining. This inflammation is usually brought about by the following:

  •  Antibiotics because they lead to the overgrowth of abnormal flora in the gastrointestinal tract (bacteria, parasites, candida, fungi)
  • Alcohol and caffeine (strong gut irritants)
  • Foods and beverages contaminated by parasites like giardia lamblia, cryptosporidium, blastocystis hominis and others 
  • Foods and beverages contaminated by bacteria like helicobacter pylori, klebsiella, citrobacter, pseudomonas and others 
  • Chemicals in fermented and processed food (dyes, preservatives, peroxidized fats) 
  •  Enzyme deficiencies (e.g. celiac disease, lactase deficiency causing lactose intolerance) 0. NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ASA, ibuprofen, indomethacin, 
  •  Prescription corticosteroids (e.g. prednisone) 
  • High refined carbohydrate diet (e.g. candy bars, cookies, cake, soft drinks, white bread) 
  •  Prescription hormones like the birth control pill 

Mold and fungal mycotoxins in stored grains, fruit and refined carbohydrates. The leaky gut syndrome can cause the malabsorption of many important micronutrients. The inflammatory process causes swelling (edema) and the presence of many noxious chemicals all of which can block the absorption of vitamins and essential amino acids. A leaky gut does not absorb nutrients properly. Bloating, gas and cramps occur as do a long list of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Eventually, systemic complaints like fatigue, headaches, memory loss, poor concentration or irritability develop.

Prescription broad spectrum antibiotics, especially when taken for extended periods of time, wipe out all the gut friendly bacteria that provide protection against fungi and amoebic (parasitic) infections, help the body break down complex foods and synthesize vitamins like B12 and biotin. Since this friendly bowel flora is killed off, the body now has no local defence against the parasites or fungi that are normally held in check. This then causes an inflammatory reaction leading to the leaky gut syndrome. Food allergies quickly develop and these may trigger the signs and symptoms of arthritis, eczema, migraines, asthma or other forms of immune dysfunction. Other common symptoms of this bowel flora imbalance and leaky gut syndrome are bloating and gas after meals and alternating constipation with diarrhea. This set of symptoms is usually labelled as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or spastic bowel disease and treated symptomatically by general practitioners and gastroenterologists with antispasmodic drugs, tranquilizers or different types of soluble (psyllium) and insoluble (bran) fiber.

The Leaky Gut and IBS

The mainstream thinking on IBS is that it is caused by stress. Irritable bowel syndrome is the number one reason for general practitioner referrals to specialists. In well over 80% of the cases, tests like the intestinal permeability test (a special urine test involving the determination of absorption rates of two sugars called lactulose and mannitol), CDSA or livecell darkfield microscopy reveal the presence of an overgrowth of fungi, parasites or pathogenic bacteria. The one- celled parasite, blastocystis hominis and different species of candida are the most common microbes seen in IBS. The only stress associated with IBS is that which is generated by infection and the leaky gut syndrome. If allowed to persist without the correct treatment, IBS can progress into more serious disorders like the candidiasis syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities, chronic fatigue syndrome, many autoimmune diseases and even cancer. If treated medically, IBS is rarely cured. To treat it correctly, natural treatments work best and must include the removal of the cause, improvement of gastrointestinal function and healing the lining of the gut.

How to Reverse Leaky Gut Syndrome

Band-aid treatments with corticosteroids, prescription antibiotics and immuno suppressive drugs may be temporarily life-saving for acute episodes of pain, bleeding or severe inflammation as occurs in lupus or colitis. In the long run, however, none of these treatments do anything to heal the leaky gut problem. To reverse the leaky gut syndrome the diet must be completely changed to one which is as hypoallergenic as possible. Sugar, white flour products, all gluten-containing grains (especially wheat, barley, oats and rye), milk and dairy products, high fat foods, caffeine products, alcohol and hidden food allergies determined by testing must all be eliminated for long periods of time (several years in the most severe cases).

Treatment might also include the use of natural antibiotics (echinacea, colloidal silver, garlic), antiparasitics (cloves, wormwood, black walnut) and antifungals (taheebo, caprylic acid, grapefruit seed extract) depending on the type of infection which shows up on objective tests. It is rare that victims require prescription drugs for these infections and they should be discouraged. The drugs are usually expensive, have unpleasant side effects and are best reserved for life-threatening conditions.

Leaky gut syndrome patients can help themselves by chewing their food more thoroughly, following the basic rules of food combining, eating frequent small meals rather than three large ones and taking more time with their meals. Gastrointestinal function can be improved with a juice fast or a hypoallergenic diet and supplements like lactobacillus, acidophilus and bifidus as  well as FOS (fructooligosaccharides) derived from Jerusalem artichoke, chicory, the dahlia plant or burdock root.

Beneficial Supplements for Leaky Gut Syndrome

Natural digestive enzymes - from plant (e,g, bromelain, papain) or pancreatic animal tissues (porcine, bovine, lamb) and aloe vera juice with a high MPS concentration (good brands are International Aloe, Earthnet and Royal) stomach acidity enhancing supplements -betaine and pepsin, glutamic acid, stomach bitters, apple cider vinegar amino acids - L-glutamine, N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG) essential fatty acids - milled flax, flax seed oilevening primrose oil, borage oil, olive oil, fish oils, black currant seed oil soluble fiber - psyllium seed husks and powder, apple or citrus pectin, the rice derived gamma oryzanol, antioxidants - carotenoids, B complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, selenium, germanium, Coenzyme Q10, bioflavonoids, especially quercetin, catechin, hesperidin, rutin and proanthocyanidins (pycnogenols, grape seed extract, pine bark extract, bilberry) herbs and plant extracts - kudzu, various high chlorophyll containing green drinks like spirulina, chlorella and blue green algae, burdock, slippery elm, Turkish rhubarb, sheep sorrel, licorice root, ginger root, goldenseal, bismuth and bentonite. Combination Green Foods

Due to the increasing recognition of chronic fatigue syndrome, the leaky gut syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivity, a number of supplement companies have been marketing powdered hypoallergenic formulations containing most of the nutrients mentioned above in one convenient package. Some brand names include  UltraClear Sustain®UltraClear Plus® and  Synaclear. The products are only available through natural health care practitioners like chiropractors, nutritional doctors and naturopaths. If you suspect you may be suffering from leaky gut syndrome, the most important thing to do is get yourself tested by a natural health care practitioner. A personalized natural program of diet and supplements can then be instituted to help you reverse this debilitating condition.

Dr. Rona also recommends these products to his patients

UltraClear Sustain®    L-Glutamine    Multistrain 


July 30, 2013

Insomnia - Natural ways to beat it

Natural Ways to Beat Insomnia

Dr. Zoltan Rona MD MSc

"The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep." From the brilliant archives of Senator S.I. Hayakawa

When I entered medical practice in 1978, there was no such thing as a Sleep Disorder Clinic. The past  years have changed all that with waiting lists of people making appointments for help at dozens of such clinics throughout the city. Such clinics and well-meaning doctors have spawned a multi-billion dollar tranquilizer, anti- depressant and hypnotic medications business which flourishes as the quick fix for this increasingly common disorder. In 1998, pharmaceutical sales of anti- depressants in the USA was $4.79 billion and of anti-anxiety drugs $722 million. In the past year, this figure has nearly doubled. It is estimated that about 60 million people in Canada and the USA are taking one or more such prescriptions. Why is all this happening and what can be done about it in a drugless approach?

The Role of Caffeine and Sugar

My belief and observation as a clinician is that the major culprit for any sleep disorder is caffeine combined with sugar. Stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression and other nervous disorders are all made worse by excessive caffeine or sugar intake. With a Starbuck’s, Second Cup or Tim Horton’s on practically every block of all major Canadian cities doing brisk business serving caffeinated beverages and sugar just about 24 hours a day, one should not be surprised to see a growing number of people struggling with insomnia. Even those individuals who have just one cup of coffee in the morning may be suffering from insomnia simply because their liver detoxification of caffeine is too slow. Even if you drink just one cup of coffee in the morning, it may have an impact on sleep up to 24 hours later. Some individuals just have a great deal of trouble clearing caffeine out of their systems through the liver. For such people, drinking only a single, mildly brewed cup will cause insomnia for several weeks or months on end.

Common sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, chocolate, herbs like guarana, cola nut, yerb mate, carbonated soft drinks and over-the-counter medications for the flu, colds, headaches and weight loss. Sugar causes a variety of biochemical changes leading to many nervous system abnormalities commonly referred to as “reactive hypoglycemia.” Caffeine, alcohol and sugar are all hypoglycemic agents. While temporarily elevating blood sugar, the subsequent quick drop in blood glucose levels leads to nervousness irritability, restlessness and insomnia. Low blood sugar reactions caused by a combination of sugar and caffeine are probably the commonest cause of interrupted sleep I see in my practice every day. In those who are genetically susceptible, even one cup of coffee a day will cause the problem. Giving up sugar and caffeine would therefore be the first thing to do if you suffer from insomnia bad enough to require a prescription drug just to be able to sleep.For those who do not have issues with either sugar, caffeine or other addictions, the stresses of life, nutritional deficiencies or toxicities (mercury, cadmium, lead, aluminum, drugs too numerous to list) may be at the root of a deep-seated insomnia problem. Every attempt should be made to diagnose the cause through biochemical testing (blood, urine, hair stools, etc.) so that treatments can be aimed at the cause. Regardless of the cause, many natural remedies can be tried to help people sleep better. The paragraphs that follow here go into these natural alternatives to prescription tranquilizers, anti-depressants and hypnotics.

Green Tea, L-Theanine and GABA

Green tea, often recommended for its anti-cancer, anti-oxidant and other health promoting effects contains caffeine. Why then does it not cause insomnia? The answer is its content of a lesser known amino acid called L-theanine which renders the caffeine in green tea harmless. L-theanine produces mental and physical relaxation and decreases stress and anxiety, without inducing drowsiness. L- theanine increases alpha waves, which are present in an awake, relaxed state. To achieve such results, one must drink about 8 cups of green tea daily or supplement with L-theanine capsules.

Unlike other anti-stress botanicals, theanine does not make subjects drowsy or sleepy the next day. L-theanine does not produce theta waves in the brain, which occur in a drowsy state. Based on the results of clinical studies, it has been established that L-theanine is effective in single doses in the range of 50-200 mg. It is suggested that subjects with higher levels of anxiety take a dose at the higher end of the effective range (100 - 200 mg) for best results. While not directly causing sleep, L-theanine helps anyone with a sleep disorder by eliminating anxiety but also by boosting the brains levels of GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter which has anti-anxiety effects. Of course, one could also supplement the amino acid GABA in high doses (1000 – 5000 mgs.) before bedtime to induce sleep. Phytogenics, a Canadian company and Allergy Research in the USA both market a combination product containing 100 mgs. of L-theanine and 200 mgs.     Of      GABA.        For    those with       internet   access,   check for more information.

Vitamins and Minerals

Insomnia can also often be helped by a trial therapy with high doses of vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) 1000 – 3000 mgs., B6 (100 mgs.) and inositol (100 mgs.). In practice, the combination of niacin and inositol, often used to help lower blood cholesterol levels, is an excellent sleep inducer. Other supplemental nutrients that can induce sleep include calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, brewer’s yeast, lecithin, octacosanol and vitamin E. In people with low or absent stomach acid secretion,

injections of B vitamins, especially vitamin B 12 and folic acid, may dramatically improve nervous system function. Magnesium sulphate injections will help nerves relax when oral supplementation fails. Some studies indicate that insomnia may also be related to a deficiency in iron and copper. Blood and hair mineral analysis can be of help to reveal these and other nutritional deficiencies.

Herbs and Homeopathics

Herbal or homeopathic remedies such as chamomile, hops, lady slipper, passion flower, skullcap, wood betony, acid phosphoricum, hypericum (St. John’s wort), kava kava and valerian in tea, capsule or tincture form may also be of help in some cases.

Amino Acids

The amino acid, tryptophan, is very effective for insomnia. Although it is a natural substance, it requires a doctor’s prescription in Canada (1000 - 3000 mgs. before bedtime). Foods high in tryptophan include bananas, figs, dates and nut butters. To date, none of these foods require a doctor’s prescription.

An alternative health food store remedy is 5-HTP (5-hydroxy-tryptophan) which is a metabolite of L-tryptophan that gets converted in the brain to the sleep-inducing neurotransmitter, serotonin. The usual effective dose of 5-HTP is 100 - 300 mgs. before bedtime but this is one supplement which can be taken during the day to treat anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive as well as eating disorders without causing drowsiness. 5-HTP has been found to be more effective for sleep problems than L-tryptophan in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Foods high in tyramine may prevent sleep by increasing the brain levels of adrenalin. These are cheese, alcoholic beverages, chocolate, sauerkraut, bacon, ham, sausages, eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco.


Another sleep remedy that has received a great deal of attention in the past few years is melatonin. Melatonin, interestingly enough, is made in the body by the pineal gland from serotonin mentioned earlier. Melatonin has proven benefits in Seasonal Affective Disorder and jet lag symptoms The usual effective therapeutic dose is 1 - 3 mgs. before bedtime, although some authors believe that even half a mg. is more than enough for sleep induction purposes. Melatonin is not legally sold in Canada but it can be imported from the US for personal use.

Toxic Heavy Metals

In rarer situations, nervous system symptoms can be caused by mercury excess in the body. Sources may include contaminated seafood and the erosion of the common dental silver - mercury filling. High doses of selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E, garlic and N-acetyl-cysteine can help rid the body of toxic heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, lead, aluminum, arsenic and copper. Getting a mineral analysis (blood, urine and hair) is a good way of determining whether or not toxic heavy metals are present in the body above acceptable levels. See a naturopath or holistic doctor for an assessment aty your earliest opportunity.


Dr. Rona recommends these supplements to his patients

AOR - ORTHO SLEEP         MELATONIN          PLATINUM - 5 HTP            AOR - GABA         L-THEANINE


Dr. Zoltan Rona is the best-selling author of several books, including Return to The Joy of Health and Natural Alternatives to Vaccinations (alive    Books,     2000).  

July 30, 2013

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treated Naturally


A recent issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology (May 1998;93:697-701) reports that people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are more likely to use complementary medical therapies if they have had the disease for over 10 years or if they had been repeatedly hospitalized. The major reasons cited for this were the adverse side effects (diabetes, osteoporosis, cataracts and depression amongst many others) associated with and the lack of effectiveness of mainstream medical treatments.

Since IBD can cause life impairing symptoms and even death, it is treated aggressively with powerful drugs by gastroenterologists (gut specialists). The major interventions in use today against IBD are corticosteroids like Prednisone, antibiotics like Flagyl, aminosalicylates like Sulfasalazine, Asacol and Pentasa, immunosuppressive drugs Imuran and Cyclosporin and/or surgery to remove the diseased bowel. Unfortunately, the ultimate fate of some victims of ulcerative colitis is a total colectomy which is supposedly curative but leaves the patient with an ileostomy (an artificial abdominal opening with a disposable bag for stool collection). Special diets, nutritional supplements and herbs are rarely, if ever, prescribed for those who suffer from these gut disorders despite numerous reports of clinical successes using less toxic natural approaches.

A variety of factors have been implicated in the causation of IBD including heredity but it is generally believed to be an autoimmune disorder, one in which the person's immune system makes antibodies against his or her own gastrointestinal tract cells. Recent epidemiological studies indicate that users of the birth control pill as well as other oral female hormones may be at twice the risk of developing Crohn' s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Both diseases involve bowel inflammation as well as inflammation of tissues outside the gut. There are differences between the two types of IBD but there is also some degree of overlap with respect to signs and symptoms.2

Crohn’s disease (a.k.a. granulomatous ileitis or ileocolitis) is primarily a disease of white adults between the ages of twenty and forty although it can occur in both children and the elderly. Its main signs and symptoms include an abdominal pain or mass, diarrhea, fever, weight loss, rectal bleeding, anal fissures, abscesses and arthritis. In a minority of cases there may be inflammation of the liver, kidney and skin. The disease process involves the small bowel only in 30% of patients, the colon only in 15% and both the small bowel and colon in 55%. The diagnosis is usually made by x-rays or a biopsy.

Symptoms may include:

an increased urgency to defecate: up to 10-20 times/day bloody, watery, pus and mucous bowel movements normal or dry stools ( constipation) if the disease is limited to the rectosigmoidal area fever, general malaise, anorexia, weight loss, dehydration, joint pain, skin changes, liver disease and eye problems

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that deteriorates the lining of the large bowel. It shows up primarily in the twenty to forty age group and effects predominantly females. Most often, the inflammation begins at the rectum and extends up through the colon. The inflammation can progress until ulcerations and abscesses develop. In some patients, the disease can be mild and localized or excruciatingly painful with perforations of the colon. In others, arthritis and uveitis can develop as extracolonic manifestations. There is usually diarrhea with blood and mucus in the stool. Sudden attacks followed by periods of remission are typical.

Ulcerative colitis tends to recur in families and there is a high incidence of eczema, hay fever, arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis coexisting with the bowel disorder. There is a school of thought which believes that inflammatory bowel disease, especially ulcerative colitis is the result of an allergy or hypersensitivity reaction to certain foods by the colon. Some practitioners have observed an association between Crohn's disease and dental amalgam mercury sensitivity while others like Dr. Andrew Wakefield have recently associated Crohn’s with the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.


Salicylate (e.g. aspirin) sensitivity can be shown in a some patients with ulcerative colitis. Some researchers have shown the existence of circulating antibodies against cow’s milk and other foods, especially wheat and other grains. The commonest offending foods triggering ulcerative colitis are milk, wheat and yeast containing foods. IBD has been reported to be directly connected to a high junk food intake consisting of foods high in sugar, white flour products, corn, processed foods, fried foods, high fat snacks, pop, etc.

Common to both Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis is the fact that the antifungal medications like colchicine, nystatin and ketoconazole have been documented to reverse the inflammatory process in some cases. This and the many positive reports of disease reversal through the use of natural antifungal therapies support the theory that both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have a strong connection to chronic fungal infection.


Another theory is based on studies showing that IBD is a form of exaggerated allergic response to the presence of intestinal bugs that healthier individuals who are genetically less susceptible tolerate without difficulty. Allergy desensitization techniques, nutritional programs designed to repair a “leaky gut”, the use of natural antibiotics, digestive enzymes, antifungals and immune system modulators may all play a role in reversing IBD naturally.



Conventional medical treatments for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis often ignore the value of diet despite a large amount of published medical literature that emphasizes its importance. Your garden variety gut specialist will neither prescribe a diet nor advise IBD sufferers to avoid therapeutic diets. In the minds of most conventional doctors, the word “diet” is equated to weight loss, which, in IBD cases, can worsen the general state of health. The well documented book by Elaine Gottschall: Breaking The Vicious Cycle. Intestinal Health Through Diet. (Kirkton, Ont.:The Kirkton Press, 1994) outlines how the Specific Carbohydrate Diet can reverse Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. It is the first and most important book to read for anyone suffering from IBD. If used as directed and if total caloric intake is not restricted, then weight loss is not an issue, a fact which can soothe the anxieties of mainstream medical professionals.

Many victims of inflammatory bowel disease can control their symptoms simply by eliminating lactose (milk sugar), starches, grains, yeast and refined carbohydrates from the diet. Gottschall’s book contains menus, recipes and other self-help information. Some need only follow these diets for six months while others must follow them for years before being able to eat the disallowed foods without symptoms.

If you suffer from IBD, do not go off your prescribed medications when you start the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. As the gut symptoms improve, discuss tapering the drugs with your doctor while following the diet strictly. Eventually, the inflammatory process resolves enough to reverse the bowel lesions.



More difficult cases that do not respond within a few months to Gottschall’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet require help from a natural health care practitioner (naturopath or holistic medical doctor) for diagnosis and treatment of hidden food allergies, candida (yeast) infections, bacterial flora imbalances and parasite infestations. This usually involves the use of lab tests such as comprehensive digestive and stool analysis, comprehensive parasitology tests, livecell microscopy, food allergy testing and other blood, urine and hair mineral analysis tests. Diet therapy and nutritional and/or herbal supplements can then be more accurately prescribed.

Severe nutritional imbalances and deficiencies can make it difficult for even the best of diets to reverse IBD. These are frequently seen in sufferers of Crohn’s because of malabsorption but are quite common in ulcerative colitis cases as well. Zinc, B complex vitamins, especially vitamin B12 and folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin D are probably the commonest nutrients requiring supplementation. The following supplements have been reported to help most cases of IBD. Dosages depend on individual needs and tolerances as determined by trial therapies as well as objective biochemical tests.

Vitamin A 50,000-75,000 I.U. daily Zinc picolinate 30 mg daily Magnesium 100 - 400 mg daily (may aggravate some cases of diarrhea) Folic acid 20-30 mg daily Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) 6-9 g daily Vitamin E 800 I.U. daily Vitamin B12 IM 1000 mcg. once or twice weekly Vitamin C 1 g daily (may aggravate some cases of diarrhea) Lactobacillus acidophilus, bifido bacteria or sacchromyces boulardii - 1 tsp. (3 capsules) daily Quercetin 500-1000 mg 15 minutes before meals Bovine colostrum - 2000 mg twice daily

Herbs which could benefit inflammatory bowel disease include chamomile, ginger, comfrey, licorice root and a combination of slippery elm, Turkish rhubarb, burdock and sheep sorrel. This same combination of herbs can be used in the complementary treatment of many gastrointestinal problems including hemorrhoids, constipation, ulcers, diverticulitis, obesity, adult onset diabetes and hypoglycemia. Side effects are negligible.

Aloe vera juice is soothing for practically all gastrointestinal inflammations but may aggravate diarrhea in some cases of IBD. Garlic and probiotics like lactobacillus acidophilus (dairy and grain-free) may be helpful in normalizing the population of gut bacteria. Natural antimicrobials like grapefruit seed extract, goldenseal, gentian, wild mountain oregano oil, bovine colostrum and others are also effective at normalizing the gut ecology. Quercetin and other bioflavonoids found in garlic and onions minimize food reactions in IBD because they stabilize the mast cell membranes preventing histamine release when taken 15 - 30 minutes before meals. None of these natural treatments interfere with conventional medical treatments. In fact, it’s quite possible that they will help make medical therapy work better. For best results, work with your doctors to integrate diet, food supplements with prescription medications.

 Supplements Dr. Rona has recommended to his patients



Boyko, E.J. et al., Increased Risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Associated with Oral Contraceptive Use. American Journal of Epidemiology, 140:268-278, 1994. Gottschall, Elaine. Breaking The Vicious Cycle. Intestinal Health Through Diet. Kirkton, Ont.:The Kirkton Press, 1994.

Martin, Jeanne Marie and Rona, Zoltan P. The Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook. Rocklin, California:Prima Books, 1996. Rona, Zoltan P. and Martin, Jeanne Marie. Return to the Joy of Health, Vancouver: Alive Books, 1995.

July 30, 2013

July 30, 2013

Fab Sex Life Naturally


“To succeed with the opposite sex, tell her you're impotent. She can't wait to disprove it.”

--Cary Grant

You may have noticed the ads in American health magazines for various combination formulas promising the user fabulous sex for life. Some of the claims being made for one product aimed at women include increased intensity and ease of achieving orgasm, improved clitoral sensitivity, enhanced intensity of pelvic sensation during sex and decreased time needed for vaginal lubrication.

For men, equivalent products are said to intensify orgasm, firm up erections, prolong erections during sexual activity and reduce the time needed to produce a subsequent erection. Sound too good to be true?

While published studies have not verified that certain brand name products create the results advertised, research has indeed confirmed the effectiveness of several components of these supplements in boosting the sex lives of both men and women. If you know the ingredients of these formulas it’s easy to understand how they might work to create such results.

The Formula

It may surprise readers to know that the key ingredients for fabulous sex are virtually identical for men and women. Look for formulas containing L- arginine, folic acid, choline and pantothenic acid. These are the major nutrients working to produce the results promoted by the American magazine ads. Also present, as supportive components in some of the formulas are zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and niacin.

How and Why It Works

To successfully stimulate the genital area, a naturally produced chemical is needed to relax a part of the anatomy called the corpus cavernosum, a spongy bundle of tiny nerves, surrounded and filled with blood vessels. The corpus cavernosum is located in the penis and clitoris. It becomes active when it engorges with blood during periods of sexual excitement. This activation isdependent on the relaxation of genital muscles during sexual arousal. On a biochemical level, what induces this is something called nitric oxide (NO).

About a decade ago, nitric oxide was thought of as little more than a simple, potentially toxic substance found in cigarette smoke and automobile-exhaust fumes, associated with acid rain, ozone depletion and possibly cancer. Research, however, has shown that nitric oxide is manufactured naturally throughout the body and plays a crucial role in regulating the function of virtually every organ. It operates in the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, uterus, and eyes. It helps regulate blood pressure, digestion, and even the behavior of erectile tissue.

Therapeutic uses of nitric oxide are probably many years off but one simple, natural thing you can do to raise blood levels is to eat a diet high in nuts (walnuts, filberts, pecans, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts) that are high in arginine, the amino acid the body converts directly into nitric oxide. Other high arginine foods are sesame and sunflower seeds, coconut, gelatin, buckwheat, barley, chicken, chocolate, corn, cinnamon, dairy products, meats and oats. This may be one of the reasons why some of the fabulous sex formulas contain extracts of cocoa and cinnamon.

L-Arginine supplementation (6000 – 12,000 mgs. daily) promotes natural body production of nitric oxide much like the drug, Viagra. What nitric oxide does is to dilate (open up wider) the arteries to the genitals. Unlike Viagra, arginine is inexpensive, has never caused any deaths and has a very low toxicity potential. Arginine has been shown to be effective in wound healing after surgery, low sperm counts and male infertility. Contraindications for its use include kidney disease and herpes simplex, both of which can be made worse by high arginine, low lysine foods like chocolate and nuts.

Women will also welcome arginine supplementation for enhancing their libido levels. Nitric oxide produced thanks to arginine improves vaginal circulation and stimulates the perivascular nerves in the genital area involved in sexual arousal. The best way of taking arginine supplements is to take between 6 and 12 grams an hour before an anticipated sexual encounter. People who cannot take large amounts of this amino acid in capsule form at one sitting can get almost as good results on sexual performance by taking the arginine in divided doses, 3 or 4 times during the day. Alternatively, arginine comes in a powdered form and can be mixed with fruit juice.

L-arginine is an essential amino acid, which can be very effective oral therapy for erectile dysfunction, producing harder and longer lasting erections and increasing libido. Aside from its effects on boosting nitric oxide levels, L- arginine is a stimulator of growth hormone release, another hormone involved in enhancing libido. Growth hormone release helps increase muscle mass while decreasing the amount of body fat. L-arginine also plays an important role in post-injury problems such as weight changes, nitrogen balance, fatigue and tissue healing. It increases collagen, the main supportive fibrous protein found in bone, cartilage and other connective tissue, stimulates the immune system and increases the production of sperm (spermatogenesis). L-arginine can be used in the treatment of liver disorders because it promotes the detoxification of ammonia which is poisonous to living cells.

Folic acid is another one of the B complex vitamins whose claim to fame has been its ability to prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus. Folic acid is also important in the prevention of heart disease because it is able to keep the levels of the amino acid, homocysteine in check. Homocysteine has a negative impact on the production of nitric oxide, the molecule considered to be important for both an optimal cardiovascular disease as well as a very healthy sex life. Folic acid supplements of 5 – 10 mgs. daily help optimize nitric oxide levels.

Choline is an essential nutrient vital to building and maintaining cell membranes. It is derived in the diet from soybeans and eggs and its use as a supplement is primarily for memory enhancement. Choline (1200 mgs. 3 times daily) and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) (1000 mgs. 3 times daily) are used by the body in the production of acetylocholine, a neurotransmitter important for healthy memory as well as a signal for the release of the enzyme nitrous oxide synthase (NOS). In the presence of L-arginine, this enzyme helps produce nitric oxide. The combination of choline, vitamin B5 and L- arginine are thus needed to produce the nitric oxide for release into the bloodstream so erection can occur.

B complex (50 – 100 mgs. daily) should be taken to balance the individual B vitamins taken in higher dosages. While there are no significant side effects to taking high dose folic acid, choline and pantothenic acid, theoretically one can create relative deficiencies in the other B complex vitamins.

What to Do

Well, there you have it. As long as you use the combination of L-arginine, folic acid, choline and pantothenic acid in the dosages recommended above, you should be able to achieve greater sexual fulfillment. Prepackaged formulas may be more convenient but purchasing the individual ingredients is significantly less expensive.

With the exception of L-arginine, these natural health products are easily available in Canada. L-arginine is available by mail order from many American supplement manufacturers for personal use. Either that or one can readily obtain this amino acid by driving across the border and picking it up from a health food store. Enjoy and tell everyone you read about it here.

Products Dr. Rona has recommended to his patients

       Testostrogain           Argenine  


Brann DW, Mahesh VB. Excitatory amino acids: evidence for a role in the control of reproduction and anterior pituitary hormone secretion. Endocr.Rev. 1997;18:678-700.

Anderson-Hunt M, Dennerstein L. Increased female sexual response after oxytocin. BMJ.1994;309:929

Choi, Y.D., et al, The distribution of nitric oxide synthase in human corpus cavernosum on various impotent patients, Yonsei.Med.J., 38 (1997) 125-132.

Burnett, A.L., Role of nitric oxide in the physiology of erection, Biol.Reprod., 52 (1995) 485-489.