Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Archive for February 2007

Homocysteine

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I’ve been wondering for some time whether my factor V leiden related DVT could be connected to my food chemical intolerance. I came across this very interesting page that connects hyperhomocysteinemia caused by methylhydrotetrafolate reductase (MTHFR) mutations and cystathione beta synthase (CBS) polymorphisms to blood clotting. I had no idea the MTHFR mutation was so common:

Studies looking at the prevalence of homozygosity (both (2) copies of the gene are mutated) for the thermolabile variant mutation in MTHFR have shown a prevalence near 15% in European, Middle Eastern and Japanese populations, compared with a range at or below 1.4% in African Americans. Patients who are heterozygous (1 copy of the mutated gene) are seen in 30-40% of the population.

Heterozygosity for the CBS mutation is thought to occur in .4% to 1.4% of the population. Homozygosity for the CBS mutation is quite rare.

The risk factors for DVTs tend to multiply one another. They don’t have a combined risk factor listed for hyperhomocysteinemia, oral contraceptives, and heterozygous factor V leiden, but I bet it is pretty darn high. My sister also recently got a DVT – she has the same heterozygous FVL gene, she was smoking (naughty girl), and she got it within *a month* of being given the third generation pill, which seems suspiciously fast. To connect the dots, smoking also raises homocysteine levels.

I don’t know whether they test for high homocysteine on the standard clot risk tests in the UK. But I think I should get myself tested. Wonder if I could be an individual who has struck it particularly lucky with an MAO mutation (30% of popn), a MTHFR mutation (30% of popn), an SUOX mutation (also a hefty chunk of the popn), a leukotriene production mutation (no idea of frequency), oh, and FVL too (5-20% of popn). Because that would explain a lot. And it probably wouldn’t even be that rare.

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Written by alienrobotgirl

27 February, 2007 at 6:08 pm

Really, really fresh meat

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On the subject of really, really fresh meat, I recently figured out that the age of the meat from my local farm shop is quite variable. I had a good patch in the autumn that I couldn’t attribute to anything, but I remember thinking at the time that the meat I was eating was really tasteless, i.e. fresh. I remember the next time I went to the farm shop for another batch of meat, it was “tastier”, and I didn’t feel as great, but since this is the best I can do for meat, I simply accepted it.

I’ve been avoiding buying things like mince because I’m pretty scared of getting sulphited, and well, with all of that open surface, it looks like it should have formed plenty of amines. But the farm shop I use has a good reputation, and I realised that they don’t use sulphites. It turns out that their mince is loads fresher than their meat! I bought some a couple of weeks ago and realised it was much more tasteless than the steaks, and that I didn’t react to it at all. I think perhaps they must part-butcher their meat into smaller chunks before they hang it, and the mince must largely be the leftovers of that process. This is great!

A couple of months ago I had got to thinking that I simply wouldn’t be able to lose any of the random weight I gain when I react without some sort of chemical help – like the old “mito cocktail” which includes carnitine, coenzyme Q10, alpha-lipoic acid, and a few others. I felt so awful on it that I gave up altogether, since my motivation for going on a diet remains at about zero for most of the time. I enjoy food too much, and I look pretty good, and I really couldn’t care less.

But I’ve cut out anything and everything I find remotely reactive from my diet: no more fruit or veg, no more lentils or beans, no more wheat, no more milk. It’s totally killed my appetite and cleared up my skin, which is currently perfect. I’ve been eating eggs, butter, double cream, this really, really fresh beef mince, and sushi rice. I’m on roughly Optimal Diet proportions: about 50 grams of protein and carbohydrate and 100 grams of fat, about 1,200-1,300 calories a day. I’m losing weight! I can’t believe I can eat so many carbohydrates and lose weight! I just hope it’s sustainable.

It just goes to show that other factors sometimes count more than calories.

Written by alienrobotgirl

23 February, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Failsafe Foods

MSG is just wonderful

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Since that grossly misinformed New York Times article last week, everyone appears to have had their brain cells destroyed by the stuff. Eades has written a silly article stating:

This reminds me of an accidental experiment that MD and I performed on a friend who was allegedly allergic to onions, garlic and tomatoes. She said she got headaches, flushing, palpitations, and a host of other symptoms if she had so much as a smidgen of any of these foods. She was a real pain to eat out with because she grilled the waiters on all the ingredients in whatever food she was thinking of getting, telling them that she was ‘deathly allergic.’ Whenever she ate at our house, MD would make our friend’s portion of whatever was cooking without onions, garlic or tomatoes. Once MD mistakenly gave her a dish (I don’t even remember what it was now) that contained finely minced onion. Our friend ate it before MD realized her error. Nothing happened. No headaches, no sweats, no palpitations, nothing. As time went on we would give her garlic and/or onions (it’s hard to hide tomato) without effect. She stayed with us often, so we knew that the effects didn’t show up the next day either. She wasn’t really allergic, she merely thought she was.

Food allergies are real and can even be fatal. But more often than not, I suspect they are like that of our friend. Some folks are convinced – for whatever reason – that they are allergic to certain foods. If they eat these foods, and they know it, they have problems. If they don’t know it, they do fine. I suspect this is the case with most MSG reactions. Savory monosodium glutamate

Oh, of course! That’s why we’re all sick. IT’S IN OUR HEADS.

Obviously, being such an ‘expert’ on the subject, Eades doesn’t even know the difference between a food allergy and a food chemical intolerance. There’s no such thing as being “allergic” to MSG. MSG reactions are chemically mediated.

The poor woman described above was having a food chemical reaction – which is dose related. A “little bit” of onion, garlic, or tomato is very different from a big bit of onion, garlic, or tomato. She didn’t understand this, neither did the Eades family, who subjected her to a rather cruel and unpleasant experiment to ‘prove’ she wasn’t allergic to these foods.

If Eades had done the slightest bit of research, he would know that experiments designed to assess reactions to MSG come out differently depending on whether they have been sponsored by the Ajinomoto Corporation or not. For every independent study that points to a negative reaction associated with MSG, Ajinomoto finance a study that mysteriously shows no reaction or a positive reaction to MSG.

There was one particularly infamous study done a while back in which MSG reactions were assessed when participants were under the illusion that they were testing a new diet drink. The study was huge, so it is seen as “the definitive” answer to the MSG question. The placebo given was aspartame. Something to which failsafers know they react to in a very similar way to MSG. Every time the media get into the MSG debate, this obviously broken study is trotted out as ‘proof’ that people do not react to MSG, and that only “one in a thousand” people might react to it. I hate to break it to you folks, but scientists are very crafty people!

Let me tell you about my reactions to MSG:

There was one incident back when I used to eat processed foods when we heated a can of French onion soup for our starter on Christmas day. Clear soup is notorious for causing MSG reactions, because the MSG is absorbed very quickly, and is especially effective if not given with other amino acids. Within five minutes of having a bowl of this soup, my head was buzzing and rushing and I felt like there was no gravity. I got up and started pacing around the flat, and I couldn’t stay still. I had to go out onto my balcony and gasp for air. I felt hungry, I felt shaky, and I had lost the ability to think properly, I couldn’t speak. It spoilt my Christmas. I couldn’t enjoy my dinner, and I was agitated, spaced out and withdrawn for several hours. I had no idea at the time what had caused this horrible reaction, I thought perhaps I was ‘hypoglycaemic’ and hadn’t eaten enough that day.

Then there was the interesting coincidence with my Deep Vein Thrombosis. It just so happens that I had been put on the third generation pill about nine months before I got my blood clot. But it was in the two weeks prior to me finding myself in hospital, that my company had moved offices out of town, and in the absence of decent food, I had started taking instant MSG’d noodles to work with me every day for lunch. No wonder I was stressed and irritable. It’s not such a far out coincidence, since glutamate is heavily involved in the clotting cascade and a known association has been found with blood clots and strokes.

Then there was the visit to the Oriental restaurant when we lived in Nice. Myself and my partner chose clear crab soup for starter. Again, five or ten minutes after we had eaten it, we both began to get weird symptoms. My legs felt heavy and dead. My heart was pounding through my chest. My face went numb. I couldn’t concentrate on any of the conversation, my head was buzzing and dizzy, and I became really, really depressed and withdrawn and spacey and almost wanted to cry. My partner complained of the exact same symptoms. If I was “one in a thousand” people who had genuine reactions to MSG, then my partner made us two in two thousand! I mean, statistically that isn’t possible. At the time I was totally ignorant of the effects of MSG. All I had heard about it was it “could cause heart attacks” and was in Chinese and Indian food.

I went home and when I had recovered the next day typed my symptoms into a search engine. What I got back was MSG. MSG caused all the symptoms we had both had. This was a complete revelation to me. You see, this reaction came from nowhere, and I was not expecting it. Obviously I was not ‘convinced’ that MSG was going to cause me any problems, since I was in total ignorance of the symptoms. My partner and I both experienced them separately without knowing what they were. They were not psychological!

About two weeks later I realised I was having a similar depressive reaction to the diet coke I had started drinking on the way home from my evening jog along the promenade. I was amazed to discover that aspartame was known to cause similar reactions to MSG, and that its effects were worse if it was consumed after exercise! When I stopped the diet coke, I stopped getting depressed.

It was at this point in my life that I went from doing just Atkins with all the Atkins junk food that is allowed (which I detested anyway), and underwent my wholefoods/Weston A. Price Foundation conversion. I made a resolution never to eat anything that came in a package, or was complicated enough to have a list of ingredients on the back. It’s just a shame that when I started eating liver and kidneys due to WAPF’s promotion of these foods, that I started getting mysterious headaches and rashes from the amines!

Since I have been on failsafe I have realised that the tiny amounts of free glutamate in some natural foods are enough to raise my insulin levels, give me carbohydrate cravings, and make me hungry again after eating. It’s no wonder Atkins stopped working for me: I’m currently on very, very fresh meat, I’m even eating sushi rice, and I’m losing weight.

Written by alienrobotgirl

22 February, 2007 at 11:47 am

A sick Inuit woman

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I have a copy of Writing on Ice: The Ethnographic Notebooks of Vilhjalmur Stefansson. When Stefansson was studying the Eskimo, Inuit and Native Americans of the arctic, they were still largely in their natural state. Some areas had been affected by fur trade with the white man, or whaling, some white man’s food was eaten in some parts, but largely not preferred, and often when gifted was thrown away by the natives. Infectious diseases had spread into the arctic, and there are frequent complaints of individual natives becoming sick throughout the book:

March 28: […] Illness. Nanyavuk says that before the ships (whalers) came there were some epidemics, but between times few were ever sick; no prevalence of swellings and running sores as now and colds were less frequent and less severe at any rate. He thinks there “were no colds.” This corresponds pretty well with our present observations of the Eastern Eskimo. Stefansson-Anderson Expedition (1908-1912) p.303

Is this romantic yearning for better days, or an accurate portrayal of native life? The natives harbour all kinds of strange superstitions, some of which make sense, and some are completely nonsensical. Some tribes believe liver is poisonous and do not eat it, whilst others do. There are some extraordinarily complex superstitions about food:

July 3: […] Paniulak tells that formerly when a man killed a wolf he ate no warm food four days, if it was a male wolf and five if it was a female. When he got into the house after killing the wolf, he would take a stone hammer (an old one preferably or necessarily) and shout four times in the fireplace or near it, “O-ho!” Four times if wolf a male; strike five times and shout five times if a female. Stefansson-Anderson Expedition (1908-1912) p.167

February 20: […] Beliefs. Pannigabluk when small was forbidden to eat at the same meal, berries and seal meat, especially if fresh. They habitually ate berries with old seal oil, but must not use fresh. Grown people feared this prohibition less than children. Tannaumirk says he was forbidden to eat bowhead whale, meat, skin, or oil, while his labret holes were healing. Stefansson-Anderson Expedition (1908-1912) p.246

March 2: […] Beliefs. One of the lobes of a caribou liver is called “the thumb” (kublua). Mothers that are bringing up young sons should eat this […]. When the boy grows a man and hunts deer, the bands will circle about him in a curve shaped like the outside (margin) of this lobe. This will give him a chance to kill many at once, while if his mother had not taken the precaution to eat this lobe, the deer might have run straight away from him. Stefansson-Anderson Expedition (1908-1912) p.247

March 9: […] Beliefs. Pannigabluk says Nogatogmiut and Killirk women might not eat the inside membrane of the ribs (i.e., the membrane covering the side of the rib that is towards the intestines or lungs), of mountain sheep or brown bears. They might eat the meat of no part of a sheep that was front of the eighth rib, counted from behind, except as follows: the leg back of a plane bisecting each from leg from the middle of the shoulder blade to the middle of the hoof, and the meat above a horizontal plane bisecting the neck vertebrae from the head to the trunk, i.e. they must not eat the head, ventral halves of the front legs, ventral portion of neck, or any part of the back vertebrae behind the neck and front of the eighth rib counted from behind. They were forbidden also the heart, that part of the intestinal fat that is near the pelvis, and any part of the pelvis itself. They were, however, allowed the kidneys and kidney fat. When eating lungs they must be careful not to eat any of the bronchial tubes. They were not allowed to eat any sheep marrow. A man might eat any part of a sheep. Children of both sexes ate all parts; the first menses put a girl in a class with the women. Women were allowed to eat any part of a caribou, except during menses, when they must not eat caribou heads. […] Stefansson-Anderson Expedition (1908-1912) p.249

Why these complex superstitions about meat? The superstition above is followed only by two tribes. Is this because the meat contains something harmful for women, or that men want to eat it? Or is it pure fantasy, like some of the other native beliefs?

The natives largely eat meat, which is almost always boiled, but also a lot of fish, some of which is eaten raw, some boiled, and some rotten. Stefansson describes the “rotten” or fermented fish as having a flavour like cheese, and savours this flavour. He also describes the pleasant flavour of meat that has slightly “turned”. It is not unduly rotten – some fish that is apparently truly rotten is fed to the dogs. Most people in our society today don’t react to cheese, just the minority of us who are very sensitive. Remember in this landscape, everything is frozen or near-frozen. Their frozen caches of meat and fish are often stolen by the dogs or by wolverines. In some warmer parts fish is buried in the ground to ferment, but that does not do for the area Stefansson is in, since it would simply freeze. In these cold temperatures, histamine would not form quickly, though glutamates might. Failsafers usually tolerate meat that has been frozen for a month.

They have diseases of old age:

February 19: […] Theories of disease. Tannaumirk says either men or dogs may lose their gall. In that case they become ill and usually die; the symptoms are […] inability to close the mouth, unwillingness to eat, staggering gate and later inability to stand up. Stefansson-Anderson Expedition (1908-1912) p.246

To me, this sounds like Alzheimer’s.

Amongst the natives there are individuals who are different. One individual is beset by strange attacks of fear:

February 18: […] Tannaumirk visits traps, which are long ago snow covered. […] T. came home before sundown; did not visit farthest trap – one set by Billy at his deer kill of February 10. Gave fear of turnnurat as his reason but would not say he had special reason for fear – only that he “felt afraid.” Pannigabluk says he has had several such fear-spells this winter. After dark tonight refuses to go outdoors even for ca. moment alone. […] Stefansson-Anderson Expedition (1908-1912) p.246

One individual is restless, perhaps even hyperactive:

January 12: Takpuk is said to be going insane. He is so restless that he has to be traveling or moving all the time. Got tired of waiting for crowd of dancers (who hang around Wainwright four days) and came back to his deer herd. Behaving as he does would not be remarked among the whites, but is considered abnormal here. Stefansson-Anderson Expedition (1908-1912) p.157

This individual reminds me of my maternal grandfather, who cannot sit still either! Remember these are natives that are barely touched by white man’s food, who still eat a very nutritious native diet:

July 28: Diseases. Woman today complained of her heart being so bad it hurt her ribs, and said she got that way after most meals, first her heart would get bad, then her liver, and both “wanted to come up in her throat.” Stefansson-Anderson Expedition (1908-1912) p.169

Being master butchers, they seem aware of the difference between stomach and heart, so this would not be acid reflux. A woman whose heart pounds after she eats slightly fermented meat, perhaps? This woman somehow relates her symptoms to her liver. There is no context given for this woman. No evidence that she was raised on white man’s foods – she is amongst true natives and seems to be a true native like the rest.

Written by alienrobotgirl

21 February, 2007 at 11:26 am

Posted in Historical Diets

Poor Sam Pepys' furious bouts of itching

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Poor Samuel Pepys seems troubled sometimes by his food.

and to Mr. Hollyard, and took some pills of him and a note under his hand to drink wine with my beere, without which I was obliged, by my private vowe, to drink none a good while, and have strictly observed it, and by my drinking of small beere and not eating, I am so mightily troubled with wind, that I know not what to do almost. […] we sat down and eat a bit of dinner fetched from the cooke’s [a cookshop, takeaway] Wednesday 19 August 1663

Having taken some mysterious pills, stopped drinking beer, and eaten out at a cook’s shop, he gets excessively cross the next day:

Up betimes and to my office (having first been angry with my brother John, and in the heat of my sudden passion called him Asse and coxcomb, for which I am sorry, it being but for leaving the key of his chamber with a spring lock within side of his door) Thursday 20 August 1663

Anyone can get nasty reaction when they stop drinking too much alcohol. But what about Pepys’ mysterious bouts of itching?

Up (my underlip being mightily swelled, I know not how but by overrubbing it, it itching) Saturday 9 January 1663/64

Pepys’ itching is a veritable ongoing saga:

Whether the wind and the cold did cause it or no I know not, but having been this day or two mightily troubled with an itching all over my body which I took to be a louse or two that might bite me, I found this afternoon that all my body is inflamed, and my face in a sad redness and swelling and pimpled, so that I was before we had done walking not only sick but ashamed of myself to see myself so changed in my countenance, so that after we had thus talked we parted and I walked home with much ado (Captn. Ferrers with me as far as Ludgate Hill towards Mr. Moore at the Wardrobe), the ways being so full of ice and water by peoples’ trampling. At last got home and to bed presently, and had a very bad night of it, in great pain in my stomach, and in great fever. Sunday 8 February 1662/63

Could not rise and go to the Duke, as I should have done with the rest, but keep my bed and by the Apothecary’s advice, Mr. Battersby, I am to sweat soundly, and that will carry all this matter away which nature would of itself eject, but they will assist nature, it being some disorder given the blood, but by what I know not, unless it be by my late quantitys of Dantzic-girkins that I have eaten. Monday 9 February 1662/63

Could Pepys possibly have picked a higher chemical food than pickled gherkins to have a reaction to? Not only are gherkins excessively high in salicylates, these gherkins are pickled and imported – probably full of histamine and other amines, and possibly sulphites, which have been used to preserve food and wine since Roman times. Foods were widely adulterated with dubious substances designed to preserve or extend them in Pepys’ day, partly in order to overcome the difficulties and delays in getting food from the countryside to the town in due time, and partly to make a more handsome profit (nothing has really changed then).

In the morning most of my disease, that is, itching and pimples, were gone. In the morning visited by Mr. Coventry and others, and very glad I am to see that I am so much inquired after and my sickness taken notice of as I did. I keep my bed all day and sweat again at night, by which I expect to be very well to-morrow.
Tuesday 10 February 1662/63

Because we detox through the skin as well as the liver, kidneys and intestines, Pepys’ apothecary issued sound advice (unlike his advice to drink wine and beer together). Sadly Pepys is repeatedly troubled by this problem:

Thence home again by water presently, and with a bad dinner, being not looked for, to the office, and there we sat, and then Captn. Cocke and I upon his hemp accounts till 9 at night, and then, I not very well, home to supper and to bed. My late distemper of heat and itching being come upon me again, so that I must think of sweating again as I did before. Tuesday 24 February 1662/63

So to my wife, who waited my coming at my Lord’s lodgings, and took her up and by coach home, where no sooner come but to bed, finding myself just in the same condition I was lately by the extreme cold weather, my pores stopt and so my body all inflamed and itching. So keeping myself warm and provoking myself to a moderate sweat, and so somewhat better in the morning Monday 30 March 1663

What’s curious about Pepys’ bouts of itching is that they seem to occur when he wouldn’t have been getting enough vitamin D:

My pill I took last night worked very well, and I lay long in bed and sweat to get away the itching all about my body from head to foot, which is beginning again as it did the last winter, and I find after I am up that it is abated. Sunday 6 September 1663

Wonder two readers of the blog:

Was any substance added to the pickling solution, such as alum? Can recall, as a wee tyke, eating “quantitys” of ripe strawberries, and coming out in hives—-aka Aqua’s “urticaria.” Comments

Dantzic-girkins: Polish King Michael said to have died of a “surfeit of gherkins” in 1673. Comments

So here we have it. Itching reactions to food in 1663, long before refined carbohydrates, and long before the age of tartrazine and nasty antioxidants. Pepys was a rich man who ate a hearty diet of hams, birds, bread, beer and, apparently, pickled vegetables.

Written by alienrobotgirl

21 February, 2007 at 10:44 am

Posted in Historical Diets

Nasty natural antioxidants

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There are a few flavinoids that I am rather suspicious of, because they are structurally similar to artificial antioxidants that failsafers react to, like the benzoates and gallates, and they are particularly high in foods that have a reputation for causing reactions. If this is so, anyone who reacts to salicylates should also react to these flavinoids, since they act on the same pathways

EGCG, Catechins, natural gallates
– high in broad beans, wine (particularly red, explains a lot!), tea, some berries and stone fruit

Kaempferol
– high in capers, kale, dill, broccoli, turnip greens

Eriodictyol
– high in peppermint and all citrus particularly lemon

Hesperetin
– high in all citrus particularly lemon

Possibly some proanthocyanidin oligomers
– high in cinnamon, cocoa, grapes, some berries, some stone fruit, some nuts

As well as being high in kaempferol, broccoli, which has a reputation for being reactive, is very high in total polyphenols compared to most other commonly eaten vegetables, and it also contains some serotonin and free glutamate. I think there might be something of a “cocktail effect” going on that makes it and some other leafy greens more reactive in comparison to other salicylate-containing foods.

It wouldn’t be hard for me to do an EGCG experiment and a hesperetin experiment, since I still have some of those in my vitamin cupboard of wonders. But I’m not in any hurry as I feel very good at the moment.

Written by alienrobotgirl

20 February, 2007 at 2:34 pm

The Weston A. Price Foundation is full of zealots

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I’m making a few changes to the way I spend my time. I am no longer reading a lot of groups, I’m now limiting myself to FailsafeNT. Nothing else. I’m cutting right down on posts, hoping other people will answer questions, and trying to get on with writing some informative articles for Plant Poisons & Rotten Stuff The Website

I’ve stopped reading native-nutrition. I’ve had enough of the pathetic discussions going on over there at the moment – from a vocal minority asserting that homosexuality is a nutrient deficiency disease. I have a degree in social science, so perhaps it is easier for me to tell the difference between the simple thoughts and emotions that people experience which are influenced by food or genetics, and the complex ones that are influenced by social constructs. It’s very easy to be blinkered when you don’t have the full picture and you’ve been raised with a certain attitude.

My favourite quote from the whole, sorry debate:

“I’d also suggest that when someone seems very concerned about adducing scientific evidence that some group of people is deficient in some way, that there is some prejudice behind it.” native-nutrition

I could draw an analogy here, because I was faced with the same prejudices when I tried to explain to the native-nutrition board that food chemical intolerance is NOT a nutritional deficiency disease. Not everything can be or should be “cured” by taking vitamins.

Written by alienrobotgirl

20 February, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Quacktitioners

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