Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Archive for May 2006

The assault on sunlight

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The diet dictocrats have so far made meat a guilt-food and taken away our ability to enjoy alcohol and fatty foods. Recently in the UK they have also started a campaign to keep us all under mushroom-farming conditions. In the dark, and yes, covered in bullshit.

This year it has become absolutely ridiculous: I’m talking about the hype in the media to “cover up and avoid sunlight!” and adverts begging you to use suncream and avoid frying your children. This is pathetic, greed-fuelled profit-mongering. Even medical institutions and doctors are being swayed away from the truth and the science of the matter into an all-out slip-slap-and-slop “cover up during noon” campaign. Shoddy, stupid and sloppy more like it.

Skin cancer accounts for only 2% of cancer deaths, and on average only 73,000 cases of skin cancer are reported each year in the UK. The survival rate is good, and most skin cancers are not killers. Skin cancer has only ever been associated with brief, intense periods of sun exposure. The classic scenario is an office worker who experiences sunlight deficiency for most of the year, followed by sunburn during a week or two of holiday time abroad. Constant low-level exposure to the sun encourages tanning, which protects against sunburn and skin cancer. Listen to the media and you’d think stepping out of your house was a risk factor for being struck dead by a bolt of sunlight from the sky.

Meanwhile this hype has caused rickets to be on the rise in the UK again. Rickets is end-stage vitamin D deficiency. Mild or sub-clinical deficiencies result in poor mineral absorption and mineral balance, heart disease, chronic hypertension, furring-up of the arteries with misplaced calcium deposits, and poor immune function. As well as rickets, poor vitamin D levels in children are associated with developing long- and short-sightedness, incorrect brain development, asthma and eczema, and poor facial and cranial structure (the large misshapen skulls and underdeveloped faces of Weston A. Price’s “children who eat store foods”). Vitamin D is recognised as a powerful protector against every form of cancer.

Our main source of vitamin D is sunlight. In order to get enough vitamin D, we must sit with the top half of our bodies exposed to sunlight for at least half an hour, during the two hours either side of physical noon (11am to 3pm British summer time), when UVB rays are present. UVB rays are only present during the summer time when the sun is directly overhead. The further north your latitude is, the shorter that summer time will be. Vitamin D is manufactured from one type of cholesterol, and is only absorbed if the skin is not washed for several hours after exposure to the sun (no showering!). Put this into perspective with your normal sunlight exposure and likelihood to shower afterwards, and you will start to see the problem.

I was deeply annoyed to listen to Radio 4 (a supposedly more reputable source of information) before Christmas and hear two so-called ‘experts’ make fundamental mistakes about vitamin D and sunlight. One expert said vitamin D could be obtained from all sunlight, the other expert explicitly promoted vitamin D, but reminded people to cover up during the four hottest hours of the day, the only time vitamin D can be obtained!

UVB rays are the so-called “burning rays” that can cause sunburn. The UVA rays we are exposed to during the rest of the day are more likely to tan than burn, partially because they are weaker. Obviously it is not good idea to burn yourself, but instead build up a gradual protective tan during short, regular exposures to sunlight every day.

Sun tan creams which protect against UVB exposure will prevent you from manufacturing any vitamin D. As will taking a shower straight after you’ve been sunbathing. Sunscreens also contain numerous known carcinogens, like benzene and paraben compounds.

More on sunlight, cancer, and vitamin D.

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Written by alienrobotgirl

31 May, 2006 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Quacktitioners

Organic dilemma

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We’re accidentally moving away from organic food at the moment. I’ve been in half a mind to cancel our organic veg box. Now the summer vegetables are upon us, things are getting difficult. There was literally nothing I could eat in the box last week. We’ve also been going to the Chatsworth farm shop more, because unlike our local organic farm (and the local supermarket), they don’t vacuum pack their meat, and also have a much higher turnover. I’ve actually really noticed the difference. I think I was so used to eating a certain level of amines all the time, that I didn’t realise until I stopped eating them that there was further improvement to be made.

I think it’s almost a semi-legal requirement for organic meat producers to sell their meat vacuum packed, which is very frustrating as it becomes impossible to tell the age of the meat. We’ve been trying to figure out how to get around this, and we might end up buying half a lamb for the freezer, with special instructions not to vac pack. We might be able to get more fat that way too, as the lady who runs the organic farm shop has a tendency to be overzealous about cutting it off! I suppose all butchers have a tendency to do that nowadays: talk about the tyranny of the masses!

Written by alienrobotgirl

31 May, 2006 at 11:24 am

Posted in Failsafe Diary

Chocolate

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It’s very strange: I am able to tolerate very small amounts of cheese and kefir, but I ate about an ounce of chocolate a couple of days ago, and was extremely angry the next day. Justifiably so – during bank holiday week a plethora of bad drivers erupt like a plague of snails onto the local roads (tourists think it is okay to drive at 35 miles per hour down straight country lanes where the regulars do 45-45 mph, then continue at this speed through villages marked 30 miles per hour, and should they so much as see a sheep on the grass in Chatsworth, their speed goes down to 10 miles per hour). But I mean really, really hassled and angry enough to curse.

At least I didn’t react to chocolate as badly as this poor woman:

Before going on the diet, I used to get panic attacks at night, where I would be absolutely convinced that there was a gunman just outside my window. When I finally did go on the diet, it was for the sake of my children, not myself, so I thought it was okay at week three to eat an enormous amount of chocolate – I believe it was one Hershey bar, and a massive Cadbury dairy milk block. The next day, I was so paranoid that I convinced myself that my husband was having an affair, and went to the extent of driving to his work to watch him through the window, then following him home on his bike. When he arrived home, I dashed outside and hid in the darkened garden, crying. After about four hours the paranoia episode just finished like that, and I had to explain myself to a perplexed husband – reader, NSW. Failsafe Newsletter 48

Sometimes I think I’m quite lucky.

Written by alienrobotgirl

31 May, 2006 at 11:11 am

Fish, fish, I want some seafood mamma

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Being a supertaster, I find most fish absolutely intolerable. I can’t stand the fishy smell, though I’ve forced myself to tolerate it on numerous occasions. The smell of battered cod from the local fish and chippy made me retch as a child. This is because fish breaks down into free amines very quickly after being caught. Scromboid poisoning is a regular restaurant reaction to fish in which the histidine content has broken down into histamine and produces a pseudo-allergic reaction in sensitive people. The fishy smell of fish is a warning sign that all is not right. Fish need eating within 24 hours of being caught, or you are exposing yourself to histamine and serotonin, and are likely to experience anything from headaches, to rashes, to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Fish that has been sitting around on a supermarket shelf is deeply suspect, as is fish that has arrived in an unrefrigerated fish van, or fish from restaurants which do not specialise in fish.

The only sources of fish I would consider eating are from specialist fish restaurants with a high turnover, or from city centre (preferably seaside) market stalls whom you know have had a delivery that morning, or from a properly refrigerated fish van that gets good custom.

A couple of weeks ago we drove past a local fish and chip shop, and it smelled wonderful. There was nothing at all fishy about the smell of the fish. The shop was very busy and obviously had a high turnover of orders. Ever since we’ve been stopping there once or twice a week for a battered cod. It is fantastic to have found a good source of edible fish.

Do I care about the vegetable oil it’s cooked in? No, not in the quantity I’m getting in my diet. Actually, my main concern is moral. Part of the reason I ceased being a pescatarian (apart from no longer being able to stomach fishy fish), was that I no longer wanted to contribute to the ecological disaster occurring in the North Sea. Somehow the idea of eating farmed fish, whose main diet is chicken manure, just doesn’t turn me on.

Written by alienrobotgirl

31 May, 2006 at 10:43 am

Posted in Failsafe Foods

Vitamin B6 and pyridoxine glycosides

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β-Glucosides of pyridoxine (a) are prevalent in plant-derived foods, (b) contribute to human nutrition as partially available sources of vitamin B6, (c) undergo partial hydrolysis by a novel mammalian cytosolic β-glucosidase, and (d) exert a weak antagonistic effect on the utilization of free pyridoxine. Nutritional Properties and Significance of Vitamin Glycosides

Science seems to be in agreement over this one. There I was wondering how to get more nuts, bananas and potatoes into my diet without compromising my other nutritional needs, and it turns out I shouldn’t bother.

B6 is a very hard to get hold of vitamin. It’s found in red and white meats, but is partially destroyed by freezing and cooking, and isn’t found in high enough quantities to meet the RDA solely from meats. It’s also found in some very strange plant foods, like bananas, pistachio nuts, some grains, and potatoes. However, current research has found that significant proportions of the B6 found in plant sources is glycosylated. What this means is it is very hard if not impossible for the body to absorb, and that which is absorbed, actually antagonises real B6, making a B6 deficiency worse.

B6 is found in three forms in nature: as pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine. Pyridoxine is found in plant foods, and pyridoxal and pyridoxamine are found in animal foods. The active form of B6 is pyridoxal-5-phosphate, also known as PLP or P5P. The B6 that you eat is converted into this active pyridoxal form, the form that is found in meat.

This calls all of the information in the USDA database regarding B6 in foodstuffs into question. Querying foods high in B6 brings back a long list of plant foods followed by meats. Have these foods been analysed for their glycoside content? The true B6 content could be much lower. The USDA database also fails to bring up differences between frozen, cooked, and uncooked meats, and B6 levels are reduced by freezing and cooking.

B6 requirements are actually linked to protein requirements. If you eat a lot of protein, you will need more B6, if you eat less protein, you will need less B6. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, “Metabolic studies suggest that young women require 0.02 mg of vitamin B6 per gram of protein consumed daily.” If I eat 50 grams of protein, I will therefore need 1mg of B6 per day, half the RDA, which is based on 100 grams of protein. A lot of RDAs for vitamins are calculated with this somewhat questionable method, and therefore are huge generalisations on the populace.

Another myth about B6 is that white meat is a better source than red meat. Actually, by weight the lean portion of red meat contains almost as much B6 as the lean portion of white meat, except the white meat contains more protein too. By eating red meat, you are actually sparing your B6 supplies, because you are providing your body with proportionately more B6 per weight of protein than by eating white meat.

Written by alienrobotgirl

31 May, 2006 at 9:18 am

Posted in Vitamins

Candida, and abuse of the Herxheimer

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Bloody candida: why is everyone so obsessed with it? Looking around a famous candida self-help yahoo group (which I won’t name here), it is full of people who are very obviously suffering from food chemical intolerance symptoms. For example, people with rosacea, eczema, people with hypoglycaemia, or who can’t keep their emotions under control, who can’t concentrate, or people who “can’t tolerate any carbohydrates, not even green vegetables” (hah!).

The Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction is a controversy in itself: it was first observed in syphilis patients who were given mercury as a treatment and was thought to be a symptom of bacterial die-off producing toxins at a rate faster than the body could deal with them, hence, when treatment began, the patient felt worse. Now, forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but giving anyone mercury is going to make them feel pretty bad, regardless of what the bacteria are doing. This is not to suggest that the Herxheimer reaction doesn’t exist, but that it must be questioned a little more closely!

The Herxheimer reaction (AKA “Herx” or “healing crisis”) as an explanation for idiosyncratic symptoms is very popular in some branches of alternative medicine. For example amongst those who favour collodial silver (see above for my feelings on what could cause this). It’s also very popular in candida circles, to explain why the diet doesn’t actually work. The problem with the candida diet is that you go on the diet, and you feel worse. Then you feel better. Then you feel worse again. That’s because the diet ought to be a Failsafe elimination diet, but it’s only a partial elimination diet. So you are on a constant rollercoaster of detox/retox. But no, it has to be ‘candida’, so any bad reaction has to be “because you are getting better”. It must be a Herx. It’s the candida “dying off and flooding your body with toxins”.

What are these mysterious toxins? Candida doesn’t produce amines. It doesn’t produce beta-glucuronidase or release phenols. Please somebody name the chemical structure of these ‘toxins’ and publish details on the web. Because when I search for candida ‘toxins’, I never get any scientific details back, just a load of woolly, fluffy nonsense.

The host of the aforementioned candida group blames all symptoms – even obvious infections or allergies – on ‘yeast die off’. It’s a Herx. It’s always a Herx, it’s never because you don’t have candida, or because the diet is wrong, or because you’ve been re-exposed to something bad. It’s nothing to worry about. Just another Herx. You’ll get over it. (Then you’ll have another ‘die off’ next week which you’ll also get over, then another one, for the next five or ten years of your life). This is a fantasy world! Some people (especially those who become gurus) are so obsessed with the idea that they are right, that they can’t see the obvious staring them in the face.

Candida is thrush, and it usually occurs after a course of antibiotics or during a time of high physical or emotional stress. It has obvious, easily diagnosable symptoms, and can be treated with antifungal medication. Invasive candidiasis – that is candida that has spread to the whole body – is a hospitalisable condition. It only occurs in people who are very, very immunodepressed like those with HIV.

Here’s what I think: if you suspect you may have candida, go to the doctor, and get a swab done. Then get a prescription for a product like Canesten Once, see if it works, and get on with your life.

If these proven treatments do not work, there is little point going on a crazy soul-destroying diet, because you’ve PROBABLY NOT GOT CANDIDA.

Written by alienrobotgirl

24 May, 2006 at 9:29 am

Posted in Quacktitioners

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Glucuronic acid and beta-glucuronidase

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Kombucha tea is supposed to protect against toxins and detox the body by supplying an ingredient, glucuronic acid, that is required by one of the phase II detoxification pathways in the liver.

Many sources say kombucha tea is high in glucuronic acid. Apparently Wikipedia thinks otherwise:

Early chemical analyses of kombucha brew suggested that glucuronic acid was a key component of the brew, perhaps assisting the liver by supplying more of the substance during detoxification. However, more recent analyses of kombucha offer a different explanation, as outlined in the book in Analysis of Kombucha Ferments by Michael Roussin. The author reports on an extensive chemical analysis of a variety of commercial and homebrew versions of kombucha, and finds no evidence of glucuronic acid at any concentration.

This author offers a more compelling explanation for anti-cancer properties with the discovery of an alternate compound, D- glucaro- 1,4 lactone, otherwise known as glucaric acid. This compound serves as an inhibitor of the beta-glucuronidase enzyme, a bacterial product from the gut microbiota that can cleave the glucuronic acid conjugates. The activity of this bacterial enzyme has the effect of cleaving the glucuronic acid conjugates and sending bodily wastes back into circulation, thus increasing the exposure time before the waste is ultimately excreted. Therefore, the active component of kombucha likely exerts its effect by preventing bacterial disruption of glucuronic acid conjugates and increasing the detoxification efficiency of the liver.

Interestingly, glucaric acid is being explored independently as a cancer preventative agent. Kombucha

Something I learned from this is that common, normal gut bacteria can produce beta-glucuronidase in order to feed on aromatic compounds in the gut, possibly undoing the liver’s detoxification efforts by sending aromatics back into circulation around the body.

Searching the gene database for producers of beta-glucuronidase returns a veritable who’s-who of common bacteria: Bacteroides fragilis (a normal inhabitant), Clostridium perfringens (unfriendly), Streptococcus strains, Streptomyces strains, Staphylococcus strains, Escherichia coli, Propionibacterium acnes (produces both the non-failsafe additive propionic acid, AND causes acne!), and Bifidobacterium longum, that so-called friendly probiotic. Note, that yet again, candida albicans is not involved in this process. Candida does not produce amines in the gut, bacteria do. Candida does not produce beta-glucuronidase in the gut, bacteria do.

Written by alienrobotgirl

24 May, 2006 at 7:02 am