Posts Tagged ‘probiotics’

Yeast Infections: Ancient Microbes, Modern Plague

Yeast infections have been around since ancient times.  Although ancient healers couldn’t identify Candida as the organism most often responsible for yeast infections, they were able to successfully treat yeast infections using herbs with natural antifungal properties.  Microscopic fungi like Candida have always thrived, but yeast infections in humans were rare until modern times when two major factors set the stage to make yeast overgrowth in America as common as apple pie:
1.    Antibiotics – The overuse of antibiotics is a major cause of yeast infections and other forms of fungal overgrowth.  Modern antibiotics don’t discriminate between the pathogens they target and the beneficial microorganisms or probiotics that normally inhabit the gut in large numbers. 

When the delicate balance of essential flora in the GI tract is disturbed, yeasts and other pathogens are quick to capitalize on the opportunity to multiply.  Left to flourish untreated, candida can invade the intestinal walls, breaking them down until they begin to leak harmful bacteria and larger proteins into the blood stream. The resulting long term "leaky gut” toxicity and constant immune system burden can have devastating consequences to your health.
2.    Refined Carbohydrates – Our high carb diet alters pH levels, lowers baseline immunity, and directly feeds the cycle of yeast infection in our bodies.

Types of Yeast Infection

There are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida Albicans. These and other fungi normally live in and on all surfaces of our bodies with no ill effect. Under certain conditions, they can become so numerous they cause infections, particularly in warm and moist areas. Examples of such infections are vaginal yeast infections, thrush (infection in the mouth), skin outbreaks and diaper rash, sinus and nail bed infections. Rarely, the infection may spread throughout the body.  Most people do not survive systemic infections because of the massive amount of inflammation and toxicity produced.

Underlying Causes of Yeast Infection

Like antibiotics, corticosteroids also deplete the body of beneficial bacteria and undermine baseline immunity, encouraging the overgrowth of yeast. Birth control pills can also promote yeast infections.

A number of factors influence the body’s ability to directly or indirectly control Candida overgrowth:

•    Mineral Imbalance or Deficiency – Trace minerals like zinc and copper are essential to the body’s ability to keep yeast under control. 
•    Stress impairs immune system function and depletes the body of essential minerals.
•    Excessive Alkalinity favors yeast overgrowth. Adrenal exhaustion and thyroid insufficiency contribute to increased alkalinity.
•    Heavy Metal ToxicityCandida sufferers often have high levels of mercury, lead or cadmium in their tissues.  Hair analysis can be helpful in identifying toxicities.
•   Inadequate Cellular Energy Production – Biochemical energy is required for all body functions, including immune system function, and all other body systems.
•    Impaired Short-chain fatty Acid Metabolism – Short-chain fatty acids are protective compounds that are manufactured as a byproduct of normal metabolism. Caprylic and butyric acid are frequently used as anti-fungal agents. Hair analysis and Organic Acid Testing can be helpful in identifying deficiencies.
•    Thyroid Suppression is both a cause and a symptom of yeast infection because of its role in impaired immunity and energy production. Candida overgrowth in turn causes a buildup of mycotoxins that suppress thyroid function.

Symptoms of Yeast Infection

Symptoms of candidiasis can vary widely depending upon where the infection takes hold, from vaginal itching, burning and discharge to allergies and skin disorders to brain fog, thyroid and immune suppression, sugar cravings and chronic fatigue.

Some natural practitioners estimate that because of the factors mentioned above, 70-80% of Americans are dealing with some form of fungal overgrowth.  Don Dennis, MD, Board Certified EENT and plastic surgeon in Atlanta claims that fungal infection accounts for the suffering of a vast majority of chronic sinusitis patients.  According to Dr. Dennis, “Chronic Rhinosinusitis (CRS) affects over 37 million Americans, making it more common than arthritis or high blood pressure.”

Most CRS patients, like virtually all sufferers of chronic fungal infection, are caught up in an endless and seemingly hopeless cycle of infection and secondary reinfection with repeated antibiotic and steroid exposures that lead to its familiar pattern of symptoms.

Cancer Connection

Many practitioners are convinced that yeast overgrowth plays a central role in the growth of many cancers because of the toxic burden and oxidative stress it places on the body… not to mention the estrogenic effect of mycotoxins, the pirating of valuable cellular resources or the consequences of an overwhelmed immune system.  Having a chronic yeast infection is like trying to row a boat with the anchor out!

Morgellons Connection

Similarly, fungal overgrowth appears to be a common factor among sufferers of Morgellons Disease, a horrific and increasingly common condition that involves immune compromise and failure of the bioterrain with multiple infections and infestations with plant and soil based pathogens that don’t normally affect humans. The greatest danger of chronic yeast infection may be that it sets the table for secondary opportunistic infections.

Treatment of Yeast Infections

Mild cases of yeast infection are easily treated, but successful treatment of chronic candidiasis requires time, patience, determination and a multifaceted approach. There are five critical areas of intervention that are required to root out entrenched yeast infection in the body:

1.    Diet – Anyone who has endured marathon struggles with candida overgrowth can attest to the difficulty of displacing established fungal infections, especially when underlying challenges such as heavy metal toxicity provide favorable conditions even when stringent dietary restrictions are followed. But the fact is, without a proper diet, there is virtually no hope of breaking out of the cycle of infection and reinfection. Basically, we need to eat what God has provided… a diet of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, while limiting meat and dairy and avoiding anything processed… especially refined carbs.
2.    Restore DigestionProbiotics and Digestive Enzymes are necessary to restore adequate numbers of beneficial bacteria to the GI tract and improve digestive efficiency.  Enzymes also help control yeast directly and perform a “house cleaning” function in the body. Hydrochloric acid (Betaine HCL) can also be helpful in restoring pH levels and improving protein and mineral absorption.

A broad spectum, high potency probiotic is very effective in restoring balance to essential flora in the gut.  Don’t fall for the sales hype about enteric coated delivery systems. God doesn’t package our probiotics in tiny plastic bubbles; neither should we.
3.    Antifungals – Prescription antifungal creams and suppositories can be very effective for topical or vaginal use.  Systemic drugs are also available, but they can be very hard on the liver and kidneys.  Natural practitioners prefer to use herbs and nutrients that are just as effective but lack the downside of chemical treatments, such as oil of oregano, caprylic acid, proteolytic enzymes, butyric acid, black walnut, and wormwood… all of which and more are combined in our antimicrobial blend.
4.    Detoxification Support – Regardless of whether natural or conventional treatment options are pursued, it is wise and very helpful to provide the body with some liver support to help promote detoxification pathways which are heavily burdened with mycotoxins generated in the dieoff of yeast cells.  This will minimize any Herxheimer effects as the body attempts to cast off these toxins.
5.    Heal the Gut – This may seem redundant as all of the above strategies are aimed at restoring the digestive process, but as this happens, certain nutrients may be particularly helpful in repairing the integrity of the intestinal lining, such as L- Glutamine, Omega Three Fats and – once progress has been made – Whey Protein Isolate (a great source of pure amino acids, the building blocks needed for repair). Glutamine is an amino acid that is particularly useful early on in treatment, and may also help with sugar cravings.

Yeasts like Candida have been with us all along, but our collective choices have made yeast infections and other types of fungal overgrowth and secondary infections a growing epidemic around the world. For those who have struggled with chronic yeast infections and fungal overgrowth for years, know this:

Because of the intransigent and pleomorphic (spontaneously mutating) nature of the microbes involved (not to mention the secondary infections they invite), don’t expect a first round knockout, but a multiple round epic struggle. With each round of treatment, the fungal load gets a little lower; with each round, the toxic burden gets a little lighter. With each round, the battle field is a little more level until finally the immune system is no longer outnumbered and outflanked.

With faithful determination and by God’s grace, this is a battle worth fighting; it is a battle that can be and is being won.  To learn more, visit the Logos Nutritionals site and check out the Candida Cleanse Protocol.

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Should Probiotics Be Taken With Food?

Probiotics are critical to digestion and immunity

There is considerable confusion and debate over how to best take probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that are so critical to our immunity and digestive health.  Some natural health practitioners recommend that probiotics be taken on an empty stomach to avoid provoking a fresh release of caustic digestive secretions (which includes bile salts, digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid).

Others point out that our Creator designed the human stomach to maintain a very low pH (high acidity) at all times, not only to facilitate protein digestion and mineral absorption, but as a front line of defense against pathogens that enter the body through the mouth.  Furthermore, since our natural intended source of probiotics is raw and/or fermented foods, it seems obvious that we were designed to derive our essential flora from our diet.

It is interesting that God doesn’t use microencapsulation technology or enteric coating to deliver probiotics through the harsh environment of the stomach and into the GI tract.  Like everything in nature, it is a numbers game; and to the survivors go the legacy.  When probiotics are ingested whether in raw or fermented foods or in supplements not all of them make it to the lining of the intestine where they perform their vital role in health.

In recent years, growing interest and research into beneficial bacteria has produced probiotic strains that are more acid and temperature stable.  Strides have also been made in the area of microencapsulation so that phthalates and other toxic substances are being used with less frequency, but again, with few exceptions (highly specific strains and applications), those types of delivery systems  are not necessary.
As to the ongoing debate over whether probiotics are best taken with food, what is most important is that they are taken, and regularly.  A healthy balance of intestinal flora is one of the most foundational of all criteria for efficient digestion, strong immunity and vibrant health.

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Building Strong Immunity in the Last Days

athletic womanMaintaining a strong and balanced immune system has always been critical to the survival and success of mankind, but never more so than today. We live in a world in which our God-given dominion has been progressively compromised. Our soil nutrients have been largely stripped and replaced with synthetic chemical isolates. Our genetically modified food supply has been contaminated with pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.

Here in what is presumed to be the most modern and advanced of all civilizations, we have abandoned the wholesome foods provided by our creator for the convenience and excito-toxin enhanced taste of fast foods and ”man-ufactured” or processed foods. Unlike any generation before us, our bodies are constantly being bombarded with chronic low level chemical toxicity, electromagnetic and radiological exposures, and systematic poisoning from pharmaceutical and other government subsidized industries.

Living in the information age with nonstop accessibility to and from a virtually unlimited circle of people and influences greatly adds to our stress level – further compromising immunity. The constant, instantaneous demands on our lives leave us with no down time and all too often, little time or energy left for our most important relationships.

It is no wonder that America is sick and tired of being sick and tired!

What Can We Do?

Faced with these diverse challenges, what can we do to bolster our natural defenses and strengthen our cellular energy systems? As individuals, our daily choices determine the degree to which we avoid some of these exposures. Through the Apostle Paul, God gave us some really good advice when he warned us to “be not conformed to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:1). We can reject the Standard American Diet of processed and fast foods that is responsible for the U.S. leading the world in degenerative illness.

The supplements that make up the Burgstiner Wellness Protocol are designed to partially offset some of the unavoidable exposures by:

· Promoting Detoxification Pathways (Liver CS Plus and Essential Digestion)

· Controlling Inflammation (Essential Omegas and MagnifiCal), and

· Strengthening and Balancing Immunity (Complete Thymic Formula and Essential Flora)

These nutrients are foundational to health; none more so than probiotics. The importance of beneficial bacteria in the gut has finally reached the mainstream consciousness, but unfortunately, most of the products being mass marketed today (it seems they are everywhere now) lack the potency and/or coverage to have an appreciable impact.

The GI tract holds the vast majority of our immune cells, and it is there that the ongoing  battle for our health is won or lost.  Therefore, every person who wants to maximize their health and minimize their risk for illness should be taking a broad spectrum, high potency probiotic like Essential Flora.

Absolutely foundational… and probably the most important supplement that we offer for such a time as this.

Diabetes and Insulin Resistance Linked to Gut Flora in Study of Obese Patients

redbacteria2 Diabetes and insulin resistance were linked to gut flora in a rather unusual study recently reported on at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden. In the study, insulin sensitivity in obese patients with a set of symptoms known as metabolic syndrome (prediabetes) was improved with a fecal transplant from thin donors.

Yes, you read that correctly… I said a fecal transplant from thin donors!

According to Anne Vrieze MD and colleagues of the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, after six weeks, peripheral insulin sensitivity significantly improved in 18 patients who received feces from lean donors compared with those who received an autologous (self-provided) transplant (P<o.o5).

“This confirms the potential role of gut microbiota in the disturbance of glucose and lipid metabolism in obesity,” Vrieze said during the presentation. “The challenge is to use this knowledge to develop therapies.”

Umm, May I make a suggestion?  PROBIOTICS… especially broad spectrum, high potency probiotics like Essential Flora.  This is not the first study to link diabetes, insulin resistance and obesity to inadequate levels of beneficial bacteria in the GI tract.

Digestive health and immune system integrity depend in large measure on the balance of power in the gut.  We know that the gut plays a major role in immunity (it is said that 80% of our immune cells are found in the gut) and in regulating hormones that impact both obesity and diabetes that is linked to obesity.

While fecal transplantation programs are certainly not common, the idea is being investigated in the U.S. based upon reports of successful treatments with chronic GI tract infections involving the bacteria Clostridium difficile.

Studies in animals have also demonstrated a link between gut flora and obesity, “…as animals given bacteria from the feces of obese mice had a significantly greater increase in total body fat than those colonized with a “lean” microbiota”, Vrieze said.

The researchers saw increased inflammation in both groups following transplant, and cytokines are currently being analyzed. Bacteria from the jejunum are also in the process of being assessed to determine specific changes to the gut flora.

From this research, it appears that there is a significant difference in the gut flora of thin and obese individuals. It is not yet clearly understood how certain bacteria seem to be able to trigger genes that influence insulin metabolism and obesity, but there is certainly a growing mountain of evidence for the importance of probiotics in the diet and as a foundational natural health supplement.

Naturopathic physicians who are presented with a patient with diabetes or metabolic syndrome will always start with probiotics because they are so fundamental to digestive and immune health.  Enhancing insulin sensitivity and controlling inflammation are helpful to all of us, but especially to those who are predisposed to diabetes.

Primary source: European Association for the Study of Diabetes
Source reference:
Vrieze A, et al “Metabolic effects of transplanting gut microbiota from lean donors to subjects with metabolic syndrome” EASD 2010; Abstract 90.

Study Links Imbalance of Gut Flora to Elevated Colon Cancer Risk

redbacteria2 What a revelation!  A new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine suggests that a shift in the balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria that populate our gut could be a harbinger of colon cancer.  

Natural health practitioners have long proclaimed that “health begins and ends in the gut”, but to hear that message being reinforced from the heart of modern medicine’s “Research Triangle” is refreshing indeed. 

The health of the GI tract has been largely ignored and often trampled by modern medicine in its rush to mask symptoms and “manage”’ diseases. The researchers in this study noted and even emphasized the critical role that beneficial bacteria play in protecting and maintaining our health… although their recommended method of getting enough probiotics in the diet (yogurt) leaves a lot to be desired.

Typical yogurt products are loaded with sugar (or even worse – chemical sweeteners and lack adequate numbers of active probiotic cultures to deliver therapeutic benefits.  A high potency, broad spectrum probiotic supplement like Essential Flora is the easiest and most effective way to boost friendly flora levels.

The findings, which will appear online in the May/June 2010 issue of the journal Gut Microbes, could lead to strategies to identify people who are at high risk as well as ways to manipulate the microbiota to prevent colon cancer.

According to senior study author and research associate professor of medicine at UNC, Temitope Keku, PhD,  “We have come a long way from the time when we didn’t know our risk factors and how they impact our chances of getting colon cancer, but now that we can look at bacteria and their role, it opens up a whole new world and gives us a better understanding of the entire gamut of factors involved in cancer – diet, environment, genes, and microbes.”

It will be very interesting to see where the research goes from here.

Response to an Antacid Question

Q: Dear John,

I am currently taking Previcid and have been since March.  I have had all kinds of tests including an endoscopy and colonoscopy and nothing major has been found.  I have been diagnosed with possible Celic disease and am now on a gluten free diet for 10 weeks when another blood test will be taken to determine if my levels have gone down.  I am very interested in knowing if one of your digestive products can replace the Previcid.  Please email me to let me know what I can take and how much is to be taken daily.  Thank you!

R: Dear Virginia,

Logos does not have anything to “replace” Previcid in terms of blocking stomach acid production because doing so leads to severe health consequences.  Our Creator designed us to have strong stomach acidity, and for very good reasons.  Without the acidic environment of the stomach, we are left open to invasion by airborne or food born pathogens, and our ability to digest and assimilate nutrients is compromised… especially proteins and minerals.

Furthermore, research indicates that raising the pH (lowering the acidity) of the stomach causes highly caustic bile salts to be solubilized and concentrated in the squamous cells lining the esophagus (something our Creator never intended), which may explain why esophageal cancer has skyrocketed since the introduction of PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitor) drugs.

Reflux is a symptom, not a disease. It is a byproduct of our hectic lifestyles, our nutrient poor, sugar filled diet and our xenobiotic chemical exposure. It is caused in most cases by an imbalance of intestinal flora, fungal overgrowth, digestive enzyme deficiency and/or a lack of stomach acidity. In some cases, surgical intervention is required to relieve symptoms of reflux (i.e.- hiatal hernia or esophageal sphincter repair).

The vast majority of people suffering with reflux can find permanent, inexpensive and non-intrusive relief by simply restoring and maintaining normal physiology in the gut.  In the process, they will improve their overall health immeasurably. Instead of addressing the underlying causes of reflux, millions of people every day turn to acid blocking drugs for a quick fix of their symptoms, not knowing there is a high price to pay for doing so.

Digestive health is so crucial to overall heatlh that nearly two thirds of the nutrients in the Burgstiner Wellness Protocol are aimed at restoring and promoting normal physiology in the GI tract.  Essential Digestion, Essential Flora, Essential Omegas, and Liver CS Plus all have a direct and profound impact on gut health by controlling overgrowth of yeast and other pathogens, restoring digestive efficiency, reducing inflammation and promoting detoxification pathways.

MagnifiCal supports digestive health as well by reducing systemic calcification and helping to alkalyze the body while promoting proper acidity in the stomach… with a wonderful bonus of strong bones.  Weak bones are another insidious side effect of acid blocking drugs.

Getting back to your question, the two most important products in the protocol to support digestion would be Essential Flora and Essential Digestion. The enzymes should be taken one before or with each meal and the flora one in the morning and one at bedtime.

Often our customers tell us that at the first sign of a reflux episode, if they empty an Essential Digestion capsule into their mouth and let it coat their esophagus with their saliva alone, it will give them almost immediate relief.  I must say that I have tried it and it worked very well for me too.  Some of the herbs have a somewhat bitter taste, but it was well worth it for me.  You can just wash it down after a few minutes.

Delayed food allergies are a growing problem in our culture, and another telltale sign of man’s departure from a wholesome diet.  Good decision to remove glutens from your diet… they provoke inflammatory responses in a vast number of people. Allergy testing is a valuable tool to help you find out what foods you are reactive to so that by avoiding those foods, you can lower your burden of inflammation.

In addition to all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that serve to fuel metabolism, Complete Thymic Formula contains thymus glandular materials that revitalize your thymus gland (the master gland of immunity) so it can produce immune modulating proteins to balance and strengthen immunity.

Thanks again Virginia for sharing your concerns. I hope this helps your understanding of the underlying issues involved with reflux and how to best overcome the problems associated with it. Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns, and keep us posted on your progress.

Blessings,

John

FDA Warns of Increased Fracture Risk With Popular ReFlux Drugs

Acid-Reflux-Explained The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced late Tuesday that blockbuster heartburn medications such as Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium will now carry a warning on their labels linking the drugs to a heightened risk for bone fractures.

The label will advise consumers to use this class of medicines, called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), carefully, because high or frequent doses have been associated with an increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist and spine.

The FDA’s concerns were raised over studies that have shown an increased risk of bone fractures with patients taking PPI’s for one year or longer, or at high doses.  PPI’s are thought to restrict mineral absorption by blocking acid production in the stomach.

The agency is instructing the makers of the drugs to change the labels for both their prescription and over-the-counter versions, which are used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach and small intestine ulcers and inflammation of the esophagus.

For people taking over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors, the FDA said they should only be taken for 14 days to help ease frequent heartburn, but under no circumstances should over-the-counter PPIs be taken for more than three 14-day periods in a year.

Tragedy Revealed?

Unfortunately, this class of drugs is one of the most overprescribed and over abused in all of medicine. This is a tragedy being played out in countless lives.  Acid blocking drugs might mask the symptoms of heartburn or reflux, but they do so without addressing the cause… and in lowering the acidity of the stomach, not only is mineral absorption compromised, but so is protein digestion and a host of vital metabolic processes.

So give the FDA a round of applause for requiring the new label disclosure, but realize that fracture risk is only the tip of the iceberg.  Never mind the fact that esophageal cancer was virtually unheard of 30 years ago, and that its incidence has skyrocketed since the introduction of proton pump inhibitors. There is always a high price to pay when man interferes with the natural balance and wisdom of God’s creation.

What does “increased fracture risk” mean anyway? It means bone loss. It means calcification of soft tissues and demineralization.  It means disruption of enzyme systems, nerve signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction/relaxation, and hormone regulation.  It means a reduced capacity to maintain our blood pressure, heart rate and pH – among many other things.

A Better Approach

Ask any practitioner of natural medicine and you will find that there is a better approach to relieving symptoms of heartburn, indigestion and reflux. Address the cause and in most cases, the symptoms vanish.  Restoring the physiology of the GI tract is their focus, and oddly enough, that often means treatment starts from the bottom up.

Beneficial bacteria, or probiotics are given to restore the proper balance of gastrointestinal flora and keep pathogenic bacteria and fungal overgrowth in check. They also help maintain pH levels, reduce inflammation and produce the B vitamins that are so critical to our body’s brain function and cellular energy systems.

Supplemental digestive enzymes are given to enhance the front half of the digestive process, but their benefits are seen throughout the body.  Enzymes are not only responsible for breaking down proteins, carbohydrates and fats in our diet, but they perform many regulatory functions in the body as well.

Many natural digestive aids also contain Betaine HCL to increase dangerously low stomach acid levels, which result in many of the same symptoms that excess acid produces.  Our creator designed us to have high acidity in our stomachs to help break down and extract minerals from our food and to serve as a front line of protection from pathogenic bacteria that we encounter in our diet.  Antacids can rob us of that vital protection.

HCL can aggravate ulcers, so those who have existing ulcers should seek appropriate care for that condition before taking any supplemental HCL… which again… means dealing with the true cause (often an h. pylori infection).

Patients with seriously compromised digestion will often be given omega three fats and amino acids such as L- Glutamine to help control inflammation and help rebuild the lining of the gut, which is ground zero in the battle for control of your health.

Surgery Sometimes Necessary

In some cases, people who suffer from heartburn and reflux can find relief only through a surgical procedure to repair a physical defect; typically either a a hiatal hernia or a faulty or damaged esophageal sphincter.  This is the lower most muscle of the esophagus which normally blocks the backwashing of gastric fluids.  A hiatal hernia  is caused when there is a tear in the diaphragm and the stomach pushes up into the thorax.  Either condition requires surgical intervention.  However, most people respond very well to natural approaches to restoring the physiology and functions of digestion.

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