It only matters what works for you.

Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Good news and bad news.

The good news is, I reacted beautifully to the cortisone shot. I’m moving better than I have in probably 3 years. I genuinely had no idea how much my knee hurt. Being pain free on one side is amazing.

The bad news is, it doesn’t actually fix anything. And they wear off. And there is a limit to how many you can get in a year. And it doesn’t fix anything.

At my next appointment I’m having a shot in the other knee. I want to see what that feels like. I also have a long list of questions about which OTC pain relievers are recommended for long term. There is a joint lubricant they can inject and I want to get that set up and try it. I need to know when and how they can overlap.

I’m going to ask if they know an actually China trained doctor of Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is supposed to do really well for arthritis and I’ve had good results from it before.

I saw a podiatrist. Unfortunately my insurance doesn’t cover custom orthotics  Pity, because even just the commercial ones he gave me have helped some.

Plans are building. Things are happening. We shall see.

 

Drip.

We are having a cool wet spring. It has been 12 days since the last smidgen of sunlight.

I have lost any vestige of ability to be productive unless every possible light is on and the music is up slightly too loud. It’s a real challenge.

I have a friend in San Francisco. She gets a lot of grey weather too. We’re complaining-buddies. SAD buddies. When it’s grey for too long our will to live slowly drips out the bottoms of our feet, a little with each rain drip. Erm, drop. Possibly that’s a little melodramatic. It’s that sort of day. Drama produces it’s own energy.

Full spectrum lights help. If your vitamin D levels are low, certainly fix that immediately. But some people just don’t do as well.

I found this article. I think it’s hilarious.

People with Sad have an unhelpful way of controlling the “happy” brain signalling compound serotonin during winter months, brain scans reveal.

Unhelpful. Yes, a bit.

Lead researcher, Dr Brenda Mc Mahon, said: “We believe that we have found the dial the brain turns when it has to adjust serotonin to the changing seasons.

“The serotonin transporter (SERT) carries serotonin back into the nerve cells where it is not active – so the higher the SERT activity, the lower the activity of serotonin.

“Sunlight keeps this setting naturally low, but when the nights grow longer during the autumn, the SERT levels increase, resulting in diminishing active serotonin levels.

So not only does my body hoard calories, apparently we’re also socking away seratonin for…obviously not rainy days. What are we storing it for I wonder?

Sunshine is due to resume briefly on Sunday. I hope.

 

Ironing out a few things.

I always associate canker sores with stress. When my mouth was suddenly covered in them even though nothing really exciting was going on, I turned to Dr. Google. Where I discovered that nutritional deficiencies can cause them. Particularly iron and B12.

Well, B12 should have been fine because I’d recently had a conversation with a friend who mentioned that metformin causes B12 malabsorption. Really? ‘Cause I’ve been on metformin over a year and I don’t recall anyone mentioning it to me. I did my research and have both a liquid and a spray. I think it helped my energy levels some.

Iron though. I’ve never had any trouble giving blood and I’ve always eaten plenty of red meat, so my iron levels were probably fine. Right? Not so much.Iron can also be a cause of peeling flaking nails, which I’d suddenly come down with too. Hmm. My favorite thyroid site has a lot to say about iron. Specifically ferritin vs serum iron. I talked with my usual group of fellow sufferers and got myself an iron supplement.

Wow.

Talk about flipping a switch. Nothing has made that big a difference since I found selenium. Which, by the way, is also much discussed by my favorite thyroid site.

Before selenium, I just hurt, everywhere, all the time. Life was a lot better once I started supplementing. I’ve leveled off at about once per week. But I was still pretty limp and my default state was something I call ‘couch zombie’. A state where I had things to do, and I’d sort of like to do them, but it just isn’t possible to find forward motion, or even to sustain it once moving. It was fairly horrible. Iron is the key to defeating the couch zombie. Who knew? It isn’t in the apocalyptical literature. But it’s helped me a lot. My canker sores went away almost immediately. My nails have stopped shredding. But moving past couch zombie has been huge.

If nothing else, I’m certainly blogging more regularly!

I’m not where I’d like to be, but I no longer feeling like I’m traveling the road of life on a cart with square wheels. Time to work on picking up some speed!

How many ACES in your hand?

I love TED talks. They make it so easy to find out about new research, old research put together in new ways, or ideas that really make you think.

Today’s TED is about a new finding in how your past affects your future.

The basic premise is, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) affect your health over the course of your life.

The experiences they studied were:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Physical or emotional neglect
  • Divorce or separation
  • Incarceration
  • Parental substance abuse
  • Parental mental illness
  • Domestic violence

I don’t know about you but the list of people I know who didn’t experience at least one of those is pretty darn short.

They figured out that if you have 4 or more, then your risk for certain kinds of problems goes up a lot. My mind immediately jumped to risky behaviors. Of course people with difficult pasts are more likely to have issues, their experiences with drugs, eating disorders, smoking, and other things cause consequences. The thing is, the risk stays higher even when they control for those behaviors.

I’m sorry to hear she reports that this isn’t being pursued more aggressively, because they can interrupt the process if they do it early enough. It would be great if more people had heard about it.

What if depression isn’t in your head?

This morning I came across a fascinating article from The Guardian discussing a new theory about depression. What if depression is a side effect of inflammation?

The answer to that seems to be yes, and the best candidate so far is inflammation – a part of the immune system that acts as a burglar alarm to close wounds and call other parts of the immune system into action. A family of proteins called cytokines sets off inflammation in the body, and switches the brain into sickness mode.

There are a number of experiences in my own life that make me really, really want to see more research on this possibility.

In my early 20’s I had a horribly stressful job with a crazy boss. I spent several years on anti-depressants.

I have always had a tendency towards depression. At some level, I was able to manage this without additional medication by watching my diet and supplementing regularly with Vit B6 and Vit D both of which are known for an anti-inflammatory effect.

Everything got much, much better once I got my thyroid properly treated, and inflammation is both a cause and an affect of low thyroid.

Food allergies and possibly one of the biggest and most misunderstood and undertreated causes of inflammation in my opinion. I only have to go a little overboard on dairy to start sniffling and wheezing again, and asthma is a leukotrine inflammation response, among other things.

Stanford Professor Robert Sapolsky gave an amazing lecture on depression which is available on YouTube in which he discusses a lot of diseases that cause or are associated with depression. A quick review shows that many of those conditions are also associated with inflammation.

Obviously it’s too soon to say anything for certain, but I can say that this one rat is going to spend the rest of the dreary dark season experimenting with increased use of turmeric and staying carefully on top of my vitamins.

 

A time for rethinking.

I’m pretty excited to see some people thinking the conclusions of mainstream medicine. I’ve posted some really exciting things from Lissa Rankin, today’s TED is by Peter Attia, who found out the hard way he was being a jerk.

He starts his TED by telling us a story of a woman with a diabetic ulcer. He had no empathy for her, because medical dogma is clear. If you are fat and diabetic, it’s your own fault for not taking better care of yourself. If you ate right and exercised, this would never have happened. Case closed.

Three years later he discovered how very, very wrong that is. He followed the food pyramid to the letter, exercised hours every day, and he still developed metabolic syndrome. Oh. If it could happen to him, even following the rules, then maybe there’s more to it…

What if obesity isn’t the cause, but rather the effect. It’s wonderful to me to hear someone with a ‘perfect body’ and medical credentials suggest that. He’s gotten together with Gary Taubes, author of “What if it’s all been a big fat lie?” and a very weighty book titled Good Calories Bad Calories. They have gathered a group to research the issues some more, going ‘where ever the science takes them’.

I for one am eager to see what comes of it.

Our marmosets are fat.

You probably saw that the AMA recently decided to categorize Obesity as a disease.

I have no idea how so many intelligent, highly educated people can be so obstinate in the face of things like data and research. Obesity is a symptom.

Last week I read this amazing article about obesity. The beginning of the article overviews the current thinking about weight issues, summarizing it this way:

And so we appear to have a public consensus that excess body weight (defined as a Body Mass Index of 25 or above) and obesity (BMI of 30 or above) are consequences of individual choice.

Then the author starts to talk about reasons why that isn’t likely and some facts that the media hasn’t bothered to mention.

Did you know that America has fat marmosets? Really. While people have been gaining weight the marmoset population has gained 9% every decade. Are they watching too much tv and eating too many Snickers bars? Less amusing, but considerably more disturbing is that fact that laboratory animals, who are monitored and weighed and measured and have every morsel they eat strictly accounted for and every lap on their exercise wheels strictly documented, are getting fat too.

…lab animals’ lives are so precisely watched and measured that the researchers can rule out accidental human influence: records show those creatures gained weight over decades without any significant change in their diet or activities. Obviously, if animals are getting heavier along with us, it can’t just be that they’re eating more Snickers bars and driving to work most days. On the contrary, the trend suggests some widely shared cause, beyond the control of individuals, which is contributing to obesity across many species.

Didn’t see that in Time magazine, did you?

The author quotes a number of findings from Jonathan C K Wells, professor of child nutrition at University College London that fail to support the thermodynamic model of obesity (calories in, calories out). Much of that research supports the epigenetic ideas that our environment is completely changing how our bodies handle things, not just candy, but stress, pollution, air conditioning, all sorts of things that are relatively new in our environments, biologically speaking.

…the line of reasoning is not that stress causes you to eat more, but rather that it causes you to gain weight by directly altering the activities of your cells.

Then there are the studies that show the effect of ‘obesigen’ chemicals. Or the effect of all manner of chemicals and environmental factors on a developing fetus. How about some well designed studies on the effects of electric lights and temperature controls on bodies that may need more of a challenge? What about a virus well known to cause weight gain in a number of species, but of course can’t ethically be tested on humans so is considered ‘unlikely’ by those who want to assign blame.

The author ends with this conclusion:

Today’s priests of obesity prevention proclaim with confidence and authority that they have the answer. So did Bruno Bettelheim in the 1950s, when he blamed autism on mothers with cold personalities. So, for that matter, did the clerics of 18th-century Lisbon, who blamed earthquakes on people’s sinful ways. History is not kind to authorities whose mistaken dogmas cause unnecessary suffering and pointless effort, while ignoring the real causes of trouble. And the history of the obesity era has yet to be written.

Yes, I’d like to see a lot more study and a lot less victim blaming. There is a lot of science out there that shows it is not a simple issue. I’m not saying that cutting down on soda and donuts and occasionally going for a walk can’t make a difference. But when making simple sensible changes don’t make a difference? Let’s not assume it’s a personal and moral failing.

If it was truly easy, everyone would already be doing it.