The Myth You Must Know About Lab Testing: Why Negative Results You Receive May Slow or Halt Your Child’s Recovery

We all know that lab results can never be 100% accurate.   Have you ever thought about the implications of a test result that says a child is free of a condition, but the child is not?  This is called a “false negative.”  Many people suffer for years because a false negative diverts them away from the actual cause of their condition.  This is especially true in autism.  Here’s what you can do to make sure a false negative doesn’t subvert your child’s recovery.

Two of the most devastating but treatable conditions that impact as many as 80% (or more) of people living with autism are Lyme and parasites.  Why are these two very different types of infections found together in autism?  A hallmark of autism is a weakened immune system.  Lyme and parasites are able to gain hold on people whose immune system is not strong enough to keep them out.

Though I will focus on Lyme and parasites, this advice about false negatives applies to any condition you are testing for such as food sensitivities, heavy metals, and other types of infections.

Lyme and parasites are 2 of the most difficult conditions to diagnose.  Lyme is difficult because most Lyme tests are looking for Lyme antibodies.  Unfortunately, Lyme severely impairs a person’s immune system to the point that the body often cannot produce sufficient antibodies to be detected on a lab test.

Parasites are difficult to detect too.  Most doctors order a stool sample when testing for parasites.  Parasites or their eggs will not be present in every stool sample so multiple collections on separate days are necessary.  However, even multiple samples may miss parasites.  Many autism parents have reported that they have even sent large worms that are clearly parasites from their child’s BM to labs.  The lab results still came back negative!  Why?  One hypothesis is that many labs use mechanical testing.  Interestingly, autism parents have had much better luck diagnosing parasites with veterinarians perhaps because vets are more experienced in looking for parasites!

Four Diagnostic Options 

Standard lab tests are not the only way to diagnose Lyme, parasites and other issues.  Here are four options to help you rule out a false negative.

Diagnostic Option 1: Look at Symptoms – Until recently, doctors didn’t have modern laboratories to test for diseases.  They had to diagnose and treat disease based on symptoms.  Lyme and parasites cause a wide range of symptoms that are also common in autism.  I have listed some of the symptoms of each here.

Symptoms of Parasite Infection:

o   Abdominal pain

o   Chronic constipation and/or diarrhea

o   Cravings for foods high in carbs and sugar

o   Distended belly

o   Eating more than normal and not feeling hungry

o   Nausea

o   IBS symptoms

o   Malabsorption

o   Inability to gain weight

o   Anger/irritability

o   Anxiety/depression

o   Brain fog/disorientation

o   Poor coordination

o   Obsessions

o   Joint pain

o   Seizures

o   Teeth grinding

o   Flapping

o   Slow growth

o   Headaches

o   Itching/burning/picking of the anus

o   Nasal itching

o   Candida

o   Bedwetting

o   Increase in symptoms around the time of the full moon

Symptoms of a Lyme Infection

o   Persistent malaise

o   Brain fog

o   Brain block when trying to focus.

o   Difficulty thinking, processing information, planning, organizing, problem-solving

o   Difficulty taking in the “whole picture”

o   Difficulty with judgment – inability to think things and their consequences through

o   Difficulty tracking objects in motion

o   Difficulty with focus or concentration – easily distracted (ADD/ADHD)

o   Racing Thoughts (OCD)

o   Difficulty with basics, social, and day to day functioning.

o   Dental problems; chronic gingivitis, receding gums, thinning enamel.

o   Painful/stiff jaw, mimics TMJ or jaw joint arthritis.

o   IBS-type symptoms

o   Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking.

o   Stomach pain

o   Bloated belly.

o   Constipation

o   Diarrhea

o   Sound sensitivity

o   Body temperature slightly below 98.6

As you can see, most, maybe all children with autism have symptoms of both Lyme and parasite infections.  I have heard some of the most effective practitioners say that their first line of diagnosis is symptoms, and a negative test result should never trump symptoms.

Many children see significant reductions in autism symptoms when they are treated for these two infections.

Diagnostic Option 2:  Treat and Retest

There are natural treatments for both Lyme and parasites.  For example, parasites can be treated with herbs.  Since these conditions can be treated, work with your natural medicine practitioner to start a treatment plan.  Once your child’s immune system is able to catch up, it will start expelling more parasites and create more antibodies for Lyme.  Thus, upon retest, you may get that positive lab to reinforce you are on the right track.  However, if the lab still comes back negative, but the treatment is helping, seriously consider continuing the treatment.

Diagnostic Option 3:  Muscle Testing

According to Dr. Dietrick Klinghardt, muscle testing is generally about 90% accurate.  He uses muscle testing in his practice and finds it very reliable.  I have taken my son to 7 practitioners on our healing journey, and the two who have been by far the most helpful both use muscle testing.

If you suspect something like Lyme or parasites and get a false negative, find a practitioner who is skilled in muscle testing.  Muscle testing isn’t 100% accurate, but it is likely much more accurate than lab tests for difficult to detect infections such as Lyme and parasites.

A couple of years ago my son had chronic nausea.  We saw many doctors and ran expensive (out-of-pocket) tests and found nothing particularly helpful.  Finally, I turned to a chiropractic internist and our acupuncturist.  Interestingly, both practitioners diagnosed the cause of the nausea as parasites.  As soon as we put him on herbs for parasites, his nausea began to fade.

By the way, muscle testing is a fraction of the cost of traditional lab testing.  Even if you are skeptical about muscle testing, it might be worth a try if it could save you hundreds of dollars in lab fees and multiple blood draws.

Diagnostic Option 4:  Conduct Multiple Tests

You can also opt to test and retest periodically in hopes of catching these guys eventually.  However, this testing option is likely to be time consuming and expensive.  In addition, your child won’t be happy to get frequent blood work!

Stay the Path!

If your child has autism, ADD/ADHD or another related conditions, don’t check off a negative lab test as something that doesn’t need to be addressed.  In my experience, the most effective practitioners diagnose first by looking at symptoms and use lab tests as a backup rather than the reverse.  Don’t let a false negative lab test divert your attention from what your child needs for recovery.  If you child has multiple symptoms of parasites, Lyme or other issues, continue on the path and consider gentle, natural remedies with no side effects.  Consider finding a practitioner who specializes in diagnosing parasites, Lyme, and other conditions.

Could Lyme be a Factor in Your Child’s Autism?

I’ve been following ​Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt now for a year or two.  Dr. Klinghardt has one of the best records for recovering children from autism and other chronic conditions.  In one of his presentations on YouTube, he shares that he tested all of the children with autism in his practice for Lyme disease.  The result:  80% of autistic children tested positive for Lyme.

Eighty percent is an extremely high number given that Lyme is very difficult to detect in many people.  This is because the tests are looking for antibodies to Lyme.  People with a significant Lyme infection often have such a compromised immune system, that they are not producing enough antibodies for the Lyme test to detect.  Given the high percent of people with autism who test positive for Lyme the first time, it may be that all people with autism have Lyme.  Some children treated for Lyme see dramatic improvements.

Where would your child contract Lyme?  One speculation is that children with autism have congenital Lyme — meaning they contracted it from their mother.  This makes sense to me given that so many mothers of children with autism have chronic fatigue, and a major symptom of Lyme is severe fatigue.

The problem with the false negative tests so often found with Lyme is that people who are very ill do not get the treatment they need.  So, even if you and your child test negative, you may still have it.  You want a “Lyme literate doctor” who knows how to evaluate Lyme based on symptoms in addition to tests.

MOST physicians (even functional physicians) are not trained to treat Lyme.  Here are options to help you find a “Lyme-literate” physician in your area:

  1. The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS)is a great way to get a Lyme-literate Doctor referral, and is probably the best place to start. Go to their website www.ilads.org , email them at contact@ilads.org or call them at 301-263-1080 (they are on EST). ILADS is the “gatekeeper” for most Lyme docs in the United States. They may also be able to point you in the direction of an LLMD in another part of the world if you reside outside of the Unites States.
  2. Turn The Corner– an amazing Lyme disease foundation that supports the research, education, awareness, etc. of Lyme disease – will help you try to locate an LLMD near you for free: “Turn the Corner volunteers proudly answer inquiries from Lyme patients throughout the world and provide free, information about Lyme-Literate medical professionals in your area.” Here is the link: http://turnthecorner.org/content/selection-proper-physicians.  And here is their email for inquiries (they will only answer by email): medicalinfo@turnthecorner.org
  3. Lymenet.org has a Lyme disease forum where they have a “Seeking a Physician” section. Here, members of the forum will give you the contact information for LLMDs in your area from www.lymenet.org. When you go to Lymenet.org’s homepage, click on “Flash Discussion,” and then click on “Seeking a Doctor.” You will be asked to enter your city, state, and contact information, and a Lymenet.org forum member will contact you with a physician referral.
  4. The Lyme Disease Association has a Doctor Referral Service: Go to www.lymediseaseassociation.org and click on “Doctor Referral.” You just need to give them your contact information and they will give you a doctor referral.

If you are already using a broad spectrum anti-microbial and getting good results, you may already be treating the Lyme which is a bacteria.  There are treatments that do not require antibiotics.

I’m off to Autism One on Thursday.  I’ll be back with news and information.

Dr. Jeff Bradstreet’s Latest Protocol

As you may have read in my previous blog, Dr. Jeff Bradstreet was the guest speaker at Dr. Corbier’s open house last Saturday.  I am the health coach on Dr. Corbier’s team.  The open house was a lovely affair with an amazing​ aray of healthy foods and fun activities for the kids.

A small sampling of healthy foods.
Dr. Corbier answers Dr. Corbier’s questions.

As an aside before I go into Bradstreet’s talk, Dr. Corbier’s identical twin brother who is a doctor too was there.  They were incredibly similar — even as identical twins go.  They didn’t just look alike, they had similar voices, body language, and even their gentle, sweet personalities.  They did a cute skit with Dr. Corbier’s brother playing the role of the mainstream doc saying things like, “Where’s the double-blind, placebo …”  Dr. Corbier patiently answered all of his questions.  Eventually, Dr. Corbier’s brother “came around.”  It was a fun way to explain functional medicine.

Dr. Bradstreet’s Protocol

The event ended with Dr. Jeff Bradstreet’s talk.  If you’re not familiar with him, he is an internationally recognized autism specialist and researcher.  He discussed several of the core tools he is using in his autism protocol.

Diet

Of course, diet is a key feature of everybody’s protocol.  His point about diet was that it’s a critical tool for returning balance to the gut flora and microbiome.

Supplements

He briefly mentioned the basics such as vitamin D and 5MTHF then went into some less well-known supplements.

    • Palmitoylethanolamide (Brand: PeaPure) — According to Dr. Bradstreet, PeaPure treats inflammation as well as gut, brain and mast cells.  It stablizes the immune system.  Dr. Bradstreet takes it himself for his severe allergies.  He’s able to use it in lieu of allergy medication.  Palmitoylethanolamide  cannot be sold it the US.  You can have it shipped from Europe where it’s widely used.
    • Medicinal Cannabis  — Yes, that’s medical marijuana.  I’ve seen a lot of talk about cannabis at autism conferences but never delved into it because I know Dr. Campbell McBride says marijuana can trigger scizophrenia.  Dr. Bradstreet cleared this up for me.  He explained that one ingredient in cannabis called tetrahydrocannabinol is the principal psychoactive constituent that causes both the “high” and the risk of schizophrena.  Bradstreet explained that simply heating cannabis removes the tetrahydrocannabinol.  This heated version is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  He said, “Big pharma hates this stuff.”  🙂

Energy Therapies

Dr. Bradstreet is actively studying and treating patients with two forms of energy therapy:

    • Low Level Light (Laser) Therapy (LLLT) — LLLT is a form of laser therapy.  He listed several benefits of LLLT.  It decreases inflammation, decreases edema, decreases neuron excitotoxicity, decreases apoptosis (cell death), increases synaptogenesis, and increases neurotrophins (a family of proteins that support neurons).
    • Magnetic Resonance Therapy (MRT) —  MRT is aimed to activate reparative processes in specific cells and tissues.  Dr. Bradstreet treated Formula One racecar driver, Jeff MacPherson, with it with great success.

Dr. Bradstreet’s talk ended with a discussion of plans for Dr. Bradstreet and Dr. Corbier to continue collaborating.

Have you tried any of the therapies Dr. Bradstreet is using?  I’d love to hear your experience!

Dr. Jeff Bradstreet Coming to Charlotte/Dr. Corbier Open House

I am thrilled to share that Dr. Jeff Bradstreet will be speaking at the grand opening of Dr. Jean-Ronel Corbier’s Brain Restoration Clinic in Charlotte. Dr. Bradstreet is a renowned lecturer and researcher who specializes in cutting-edge therapies for autism.

The grand opening for Dr. Corbier’s Brain Restoration Clinic will be Saturday April 18th from 2:00 – 6:00 pm.  Dr. Bradstreet will be speaking around 4:00 pm.

Join them for a day full of fun!! Enjoy a health and wellness fair, tours, healthy food, music, activities for kids, local vendors, educational talks, and their wonderful staff!!

Here’s a little about Dr. Corbier:

Dr. Corbier is a Board Certified Pediatric Neurologist. While he is a generalist – treating all childhood neurological conditions – he has a special interest in working with children with Autism and related spectrum disorders and PANDAS.  He is presently conducting research in the area of speech-language delay. He is also dedicated to the study of nutrition and its role in brain related disorders.

Dr. Corbier has been recognized for his work both within the greater Charlotte community as well as nationally. He has been awarded the ‘Patient Choice Award – Favorite Physicians in NC’ for 5 consecutive years and the ‘Compassionate Doctor Award’ for 4 consecutive years. He has shared his work on TV, radio, medical conferences, and lectures/workshops.  He has authored several books and articles, including topics on autism, nutritional approaches to treatment, as well as his ‘Restoration Model’.

Here’s what I know personally about Dr. Corbier: 

Dr. Corbier is known for his gentle, kind bedside manner and his team approach to healing.  I’ve shadowed him in his office and seen first-hand the kind of empathetic and supportive care he provides for his patients.  He has also surrounded himself with a team of specialists who support his patients.  His team includes a nutritionist, an independent compounding pharmacist, a neuromodulation specialist, a behavior specialist, and a health coach.  I have the privilege of serving as the health coach.

Those of you who live in Raleigh may wonder why you haven’t heard of Dr. Corbier yet.  When I started working with Dr. Corbier a little over a year ago, there was no promotion of his practice because it was full, and he was unable to take new patients.  In fact, he filled his practice within a year of opening it which is pretty rare.  Now that he’s moving into a larger office and expanding his staff, he will be able to take on new patients again.

Here are the details for Dr. Corbier’s open house:

What:  Brain Restoration Clinic Open House

Special Guest:  Dr. Jeff Bradstreet

Who:  Patients, prospective patients, children, friends and family

When:  Saturday, April 18th from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Where:  1040 Edgewater Corporate Center, Indian Land, SC (a suburb of Charlotte)

I hope to see you there!

Beth

Ever Been to Autism One?

I LOVE attending biomed autism conferences.  Autism One is one of my favorites.  Have you ever considered going?

Even though I’ve been on this biomed journey for 5 years now, I was exposed to many new ideas and treatment options.  However, I think my favorite thing last year was meeting an 11 year girl who is totally recovered and 4 or 5 teens and adults who are totally recovered.  When I say totally recovered, I’m saying not just typical but higher functioning most people.  It reinforced my conviction that my son is going to go from “recovered” to “totallly recovered.”

If you’re a physician or other medical practitioner, there’s a track for you too.  Dr. Eily and I went together last year.  We both loved the conference.  It was really fun to see how excited Dr. Eily was about the enthusiastic, optimistic atomosphere at A1 that is so different than other medical conferences she attends.

I love the atmosphere there too.  There were 1,400 parents and practitioners from around the world there last year!

Another thing I love about A1 is that they don’t shy from controversy.  At A1, you will hear both your old favorites like Dr. Arthur Krigsman, Dr. James Bradstreet, Dr. Anju Usman, and Dr. Dan Rossignol, AND, you’ll hear from practitioners who are doing cutting-edge work that is too new or controversial for some of the other biomed programs.

The conference is only $99, but of course, there’s the flight to Chicago and hotel.  Sharing a hotel room is a great way to make the conference more affordable.

If you are considering going, here are a few tips:

    • Look at the schedule and decide if the sessions on the first couple of days are worth the money for extra hotel nights.  I went for the full 5 days last year.  It’s a bit slow on Wednesday and Thursday then things really pick up Friday through Sunday.
    • Take a friend and share the cost of a hotel room.
    • Take a cooler so you can keep food in your room.  You’ll eat healthier and you’ll save money on food.  The hotel does offer refrigerators.  However, A1 asks that attendees wait to get a refrigerator so all families whose children have refrigerated meds can get one first.

If you can’t make it, know that they are dedicated to making it work for you too.  They post just about every session to be viewed for free within a week or two.

Let me know if you’re looking for a roommate and I’ll try to hook you up with anyone else who is seeking a roommate too.

Great Health Documentary — Free for Through March 15th

Have you seen the new documentary, BOUGHT?   It’s being offered free between now and March 6th.

You can find it here. If you don’t catch it before March 6th, I encourage you to go for the paid download.  It’s a great documentary.

Here’s an overview:

The food, vaccine, drug, insurance and health industry are a multi-BILLION dollar enterprise… focused more on profits than human lives. The BOUGHT documentary takes viewers deep “inside the guts” of this enterprise…

Featuring exclusive interviews with the world’s most acclaimed experts in research, medicine, holistic care and natural health… Bought exposes the hidden (and deadly) story behind it all.

Are Our Kids as Healthy as Kids Were 45 Years Ago?

I heard Marvin Gaye’s song, Mercy Mercy Me, a couple of weeks ago.  I’d never paid attention to the lyrics of this 1971 song and didn’t see how they relate to children in 2015.  His prophetic lyrics have haunted me ever since.  Here are the lyrics in case you’ve missed them too:

Mercy Mercy Me

By Marvin Gaye

Mercy mercy me
Things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east

Mercy, mercy me, mercy
Things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury

Mercy, mercy me
Things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Radiation under ground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying

Mercy, mercy me
Things ain’t what they used to be
What about this overcrowded land
How much more abuse from man can she stand?

Oh, na na na na na na na na na
My sweet Lord
My Lord, my sweet Lord

What’s Mercy Mercy Me Have to Do With Children’s Health?

It’s been almost 45 years since Marvin Gaye released this song, and the EPA has achieved substantial victories since then such as banning DDT, lead and arsenic.  However, new and not well understood chemicals are introduced into our environment every year.  These new toxins are everywhere – not just our air and water.  They are in our food and almost every product we use. And, they are a major contributor to an emerging constellation of chronic conditions in today’s children.

If Marvin Gaye were alive today, I believe he would look back on the health of children in 1971 and say:

Mercy Mercy Me

Kid’s Health Ain’t What It Used to Be

    • 1 in 6 have learning disabilities
    • 1 in 3 children have obesity
    • 1 in 3 have allergies
    • 1 in 8 have asthma
    • 1 in 10 have ADD
    • 1 in 50 have autism

The toxins in our food, medications and environment are making all of us sick – especially our children.  Statistics show that these conditions were rare in 1971.  Most people hadn’t even heard of some of them.

The good news is that by viewing these conditions as a product of environmental factors, we know how to reverse them.  There is an amazing crowd-funded documentary being developed by the good people at DocumentingHope.com.  They will show us how to protect and heal our kids. Here’s a description of their project:

“The Documenting Hope Project is supporting 14 chronically ill children through a healing and recovery journey. The children will come from five locations throughout the United States, and their illnesses will include autism, ADHD, asthma, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, mood disorders, obesity/type II diabetes and atopic disease/eczema. Up to seven of these children will be featured in a groundbreaking feature-length documentary film, Canary Kids, which will spread the much-needed message of hope: Recovery is possible.”

If you would like to help fund the DocumentingHope project click here.

Check out DocumentingHope’s benefit concert featuring Michael Franti & Spearhead on February 7th, 2015 here.

The next time you’re talking with a group of parents, notice how frequently they mention chronic health, learning and behavior problems in their children.  You’ll be shocked.

In my next blog, I’ll give you tips for preventing and reversing chronic conditions in children – as well as adults.

Dr. Ravenel on MED-FREE Treatments for ADD, Anxiety, Depression and More

I’m thrilled to introduce Dr. Bose Ravenel to my readers.  For 33 years, Dr. Ravenel treated children with AD(H)D, anxiety, depression, etc. with medications as most physicians do today.  In 2008, he discovered that these and other conditions can often be treated without medication by targeting and eliminating the cause.  Not only are his patients relieved of their symptoms, the underlying health issues causing the symptoms are treated without the short-term and long-term side-effects of medications.

Dr. Ravenel will be speaking at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh on Thursday, November 13that 7:00.  Click here to register.

Following is our recent conversation:

Beth:  Dr. Ravenel, thank you for taking time to share your story of hope and healing for children who have what has become common conditions in today’s world.  You spent the majority of your career working as a traditional pediatrician.  What led you to change to a more holistic, functional type of medicine?

Dr. Ravenel:  I practiced as a traditional pediatrician for 33 years and also for 11 years in academic pediatrics as a clinical associate professor as a faculty member of the UNC School of Medicine Pediatric faculty working at Cone Hospital in Greenboro.  I worked with huge numbers of families of children with behavior problems – especially children with ADD/ADHD — and was used to using medications as a predominant approach.

Then I began to think.  It occurred to me that I had practiced long enough and lived long enough personally to notice the shift – an almost exponential increase — of children who were showing up in the office either being requested to have medicine or the school referring or whatever.  And these kids were being put on medication chronically for what were predominantly behavioral or emotional problems.

The prevailing medical paradigm said that these problems like ADD and depression were supposedly caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that were largely genetic.  In the case of ADD, the literature said that it’s 80% genetic.  It occurred that it was not even logically possible because going from my classroom of 30 kids, (there were many more kids in the classroom back then) there might have been 1 and no more than that.  And now the figures are replete in the literature and incidence of ADD varies, but it’s 1 in 3 or 1 in 5 children all across America.  But genes don’t change that fast.  Brains don’t change that fast.  It had to be something else going on.

Increasingly parents were becoming more and more troubled either because they were being pressured to put their kids on medicine and they didn’t want to do it, or they were looking for an alternative.  Others whose kids had been on medicines were apprehensive about possible negative long term effects.

Once I made the shift to taking a functional or integrative approach and avoiding almost always the use of prescribed drugs, the success was sufficient that it’s became an accelerating cycle of conviction, belief and more success.

Beth:  So now you have completely embraced the idea of functional medicine and that is the type of medicine you now practice?

Dr. Ravenel:  Correct.  In November 2013 after 41 years total including 11 years in academia, I retired from traditional pediatrics in order to start a new career in functional medicine at the ripe young age of 75.  So, that’s what I’m doing full time.   I’m doing pediatric consulting with families whose children have ADD, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, ASDs, speech impairments/delays, learning disabilities and more.

Beth:  What is the difference in the traditional medicine approach to these conditions and the functional medicine approach?

Dr Ravenel:  I call these conditions clinical syndromes because it turns out that “clincal syndromes” better describes a functional medicine approach vs. a traditional “disease management” approach.

In my career of 30 something years in practice prior to this functional medicine career, I looked at (as most traditional physicians do) each disease as a categorical diagnosis for which there is a specific recommended treatment.  So, the best practice in traditional health systems is predominantly pharmaceutical-based.  This is the “best practice” for disease management.  But the focus is really predominantly exploring ways to suppress the symptoms or relieve the symptoms by various prescribed medications.  And to give credit where it is due, often that will provide significant improvement.  The challenge is that if you’re not addressing the underlying cause of the problems, you’re not really treating anything.  You’re simply providing in essence a palliative relief from the symptoms which inevitably recur when the medicine is withdrawn.

The integrative prospective looks for underlying causes.  For example, identifying genetic variances which are known to impact your ability to handle toxins in the environment.  We live in a toxic world.  Nutritional and dietary habits can impact genetic expression too.  It turns out that many of these things (depression, ADD, bi-polar, and others) can actually be healed if people are willing to make lifestyle changes.  Those changes can effectively help people recover – either substantially or in some case completely.  In many cases, people recover completely over a period of time.  This contrasts with the traditional approach of prescribing medicines and continuing them as long as the individual feels like they need to depend on them.

Beth:  What are the pros and cons of the medications for these conditions, particularly in the long-term?

Dr. Ravenel:  The pros are of course pretty obvious: simplicity and quickness.  A patient who comes in and does a check sheet for depression or ADD can get a prescription that day – which is the usual way it happens in many practices.  They get relief within 24 to 48 hours.  Every day, as long as the medicine is being taken, there is improvement.  So, the pros are pretty much practical.  The quickness and sometimes a pretty dramatic improvement in the symptoms.

The flip side is:  what are the long term effects on the brain of drugs prescribed with the intention of altering the brains circuits of neurochemistry?  The answer to that is that nobody knows.  It’s not been looked at long-term.  There are no studies published in the literature on the long term (meaning years, not to mention decades) of the use any psychotropic drugs including ADD medications.

There is research that gives real concern that there are a lot of short-term side effects.  Those side effects are well known by any parent whose child has been taking the medicine.  Those include cognitive constriction or narrowing of focus which is obviously the intention of the drug.  Sometimes kids can lose their spontaneity, and lose their creativity.

The other long term problem—there’s research, for example, there are 2 researchers named Hyman and Nester who published an article in a psychiatric mainstream journal several years ago.  The title of the article is Initiation and Adaption.  It refers to using psychotropic drugs including stimulants that target the brain.  They change the brain’s chemistry which is why they’re prescribed.  The brain is a living organ so the body will biologically respond to any change externally with what’s called homeostasis.  The body responds to an external change agent with its own response and change.  So, you induce changes in the brain with a drug and if you take the drug sufficiently long which in the case of anti-depressants and ADD medicines often for years if not decades, the brain changes and then when you withdraw the drug, the individual experiences a profound experience of disorientation.  That tends to be interpreted by those that believe in the medical model as proof that the person needs to stay on the medicine.  The truth is that it probably reveals that the person’s brain has changed and the drug has in essence created a state of dependency.  The longer you take the medication the longer it reinforces the dependency.

Another thing that alerted me to the growing concern about the long term use of these drugs is a book written by a psychiatrist I know personally who has a psychiatric approach which is also pretty much non-pharmaceutical named Dr. Grace Jackson.  She wrote a book entitled, Drug Induced Dementia.  It’s a very scholarly manual that is very deep and complex.  She argues strongly that she believes that research supports the idea, the hypothesis, that one contributing, major factor in the growing dementia in western society is, in fact, the long term administration of psychotropic drugs.

Beth:  Wow.  So, these medications not only have short-term side effects, they may even put our children at higher risk for dementias such as Alzheimer’s when they are older?

Dr. Ravenel:  Yes.  We don’t know what kind of impact these medications will have on this generation of children.

Beth:  This is very interesting.  Thank you for spending time with me today and allowing me to share our conversation with my readers.  You will be speaking at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh on November 13th at 7:00 pm.  Tell us about what you’ll be talking about.

Dr. Ravenel:  I will give a brief overview of some of the common natural treatments for ADD, anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, and more .  Most importantly, when I speak with parents, I find they enjoy being able to ask questions, so I will leave lots of time for questions and answers.

Beth:  Thank you Dr. Ravenel!  We look forward to seeing you on the 13th.

>>>Click here to register for Dr. Ravenel’s presentation on Thursday the 13th at 7:00 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Raleigh.

Pediatricians Who are Respectful of Biomedical Treatments

Are you looking for a pediatrician who will respect your choice to treat your child with biomedical treatments?

Many of us who are treating our children with diet, nutritional supplements, detoxification, immune support and avoidance of toxins have been frustrated with our pediatricians.  Recently, I sent a note to our community asking for your recommendations of pediatricians who are supportive and respectful of our health choices for our children.

If you have a pediatrician you’d like to recommend for this post, please e-mail me.

Here are the doctors that parents from our community have recommended:

Dr. Vandana Natal in Cary

http://www.cornerstonepediatrics.org/meet-our-team/

Dr. Kimberly Ramsdell in Apex

http://www.ramsdellpediatrics.com/?page_id=682

Dr. Beth Murnane in Raleigh

http://www.sunrisepediatrics.com/static/doctors.html

Also, developmental pediatrician:

Dr. Daniel Moran in Apex

http://cdpeds.com/Home_Page.html

How I Lost 40 Pounds Without Trying

Three years ago, I lost 40 pounds.  Weight loss wasn’t even my goal!   I had changed the foods I ate because my son had many chronic health and behavioral issues, and I was sick too.  I had read that a special medical diet could help us.  I had no idea that our family’s new way of eating would allow me to lose 40 pounds effortlessly without going hungry.  Not only did I lose weight, my son’s health improved dramatically, and mine did too.

Curious about my unexpected success, I researched and found the work of Gary Taubes, science journalist.  His books, Good Calories/Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat are the culmination of his 10 years of research about the ever-increasing weight problems in America.  I teach Gary Taubes’ message to weight-loss clients, and with support from coaching they also lose weight with relative ease.

Common Theory of Weight Gain

Taubes points out that the predominant theory of weight gain in America today is “calories in must not exceed calories out.”  According to this theory, Americans are overweight because we eat too many calories, especially calories from fat, and we don’t exercise enough.

 “Calories In/Calories Out” Doesn’t Help People Lose Weight

My experience, the experience of my clients, and scholarly articles confirm Taubes’ finding that calories in/calories out is unsustainable at best.  He describes another theory of weight loss that I explain later in the article.  But, first, let’s look at some of the evidence that calories in/calories out isn’t really as logical as we’ve come to believe.

My Personal Experience: I had tried balancing my calories and avoiding fat ever since I packed on some pounds when I turned 30.  When we started the medical diet and my weight started falling off, I wasn’t thinking about cutting or counting calories.  As for exercise, I was suffering with severe fatigue, so the last thing I was thinking about was exercise, yet I was dropping pounds every week.

Can We Really “Balance Calories”?  Many people find that they put on an extra 10 pounds every decade.  Researchers have asked the question, “According to the calories in/calories out theory, how many additional calories per day does a person need to consume to gain 10 pounds in a decade?”  Any idea how many calories it takes according to the calories in/calories out theory?  Are you prepared for the answer?  It’s 21 calories a day!  Yes, this theory says that if you eat only 21 extra calories per day, you will gain 10 pounds in ten years.

That’s pretty depressing.  This theory is telling me that I have to regulate my food intake vs. exercise by 21 calories a day.  One or two bites of lean chicken breast has 21 calories.  I don’t think it is feasible for anyone to regulate their intake to this level.

Of course there are all kinds of helpful apps available to help us count calories, but why should we have to?  Most people in most societies since the beginning of time have maintained a healthy weight without ever counting a calorie – or even knowing what a calorie is.  Their level of activity varied greatly too.

Exercise – Great for Your Heart, But Does It Help Your Waistline?

Taubes makes the observation that many, many of us are exercising more than our parents did yet we are still overweight.  When I was a child, the vast majority of my mom’s friends maintained a healthy weight.  I never heard of any of them jogging or going to the gym.  Most of them had housekeepers too, so being a housewife was not necessarily a vigorous job.

On the other hand, many of the moms I know today exercise vigorously and religiously yet many of them still carry the extra weight they’ve been told exercise will take off.  If calorie counting and exercise help us lose weight, then why was weight maintenance easier for my mom’s generation even though they paid little, if any, attention to calories and got less “cardio” exercise than many moms today?

Another example is animals in nature.  Whether sedentary or active, animals maintain a constant weight without regard to calories.

Even the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine made this point in their 2007 Physical Activity Guidelines.  I put the last sentence in bold to highlight the point:

“It is reasonable to assume that persons with relatively high daily energy expenditures would be less likely to gain weight over time, compared to people with lower energy expenditures.  So far data to support this hypothesis are not particularly compelling.

Exercise is incredibly important for our health It will make you feel better, and it might even help you firm up and drop a pant size.  However, there is little evidence that it will help you lose weight.  Every weight loss client I’ve worked with did so successfully without having to increase their current level of exercise.

The Secret to Weight Loss

OK, so now you’re wondering, “If excess calories don’t cause weight gain, what does?”  The answer to your question is …  insulin.  Yes, it’s the hormone, insulin.  You may be thinking that your insulin levels are healthy, so it can’t be insulin.  It’s not necessarily the insulin levels you see on blood tests.  Fat accumulates whenever insulin is triggered.

So what triggers insulin?  The foods that trigger insulin are sweet and starchy carbohydrates such as candies, cookies, bread, pasta and potatoes.  Milk, especially skim milk, also causes insulin to rise.  The good news is that sweet and starchy foods are not as nutrient dense as non-starchy foods and they also cause inflammation.  Thus, reducing or eliminating sweets and starches will not only help you lose weight, it will reduce or eliminate many health conditions because most health problems (including psychological conditions) are associated with inflammation.

The women in my mom’s generation knew this secret.  Whenever one of them wanted to drop a few pounds, they simply cut back on what they called bread – bread meaning bread, sweets, pasta, potatoes and other starchy foods.

Another piece of good news:  Don’t worry about fat.  Yes, you heard me right!  My clients and I have lost weight while enjoying an abundance of healthy fats!    I will follow up with an article about the health benefits of fat.  In the meantime, check out the video below and the recent cover article on Time Magazine, Eat Butter: Scientists Labeled Fat the Enemy.  Why They Were Wrong.

So slather your non-starchy vegetables with butter or cook them with lard and enjoy a nice, juicy piece of your favorite meat. Eat these foods until you are fully satisfied, and you will see the pounds melt away before your eyes and health issues will improve too.

One caveat, keep fruit and nuts to a minimum until you reach your weight goals.  Make the rest of the suggestions here a new lifestyle for the long term and you will easily maintain a healthy weight and good health.

I realize that these recommendations, while simple, are not necessarily easy.  Yes, I lost weight effortlessly in the sense that I did not count calories, go hungry, or feel deprived.  And still, changing my family’s diet was hard work.  This is where a coach can be a great resource to help you adapt to change, plan new menus, battle cravings for sweet and starchy foods, and provide support and accountability when you need it.

Achieving your weight loss goals and the health benefits that follow will improve the quality of your life in countless ways.  Follow the advice here, and losing weight will be infinitely easier and more sustainable.

Here’s to You!

Beth

PS  A new study that supports the ideas presented in this article was released while I was writing it.  The study was financed by the NIH and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.  Check out this article about the study in The New York Times which is listed below.

Video:  New Science Destroys the Saturated Fat Myth

Resources:

Books:

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes

Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz.

Articles:

Time Magazine — Eat Butter: Scientists Labeled Fat the Enemy.  Why They Were Wrong.

New York Times — A Call for a Low-Carb Diet that Embraces Fat