Still to come...............

High dose Vitamin C infusions and Glutathione.
Melatonin a very strong antioxidant with proven cancer survival.
Herxheimer reaction - the healing crisis and what to expect.
Blood Test results and the immune system.
Blocking inflammatory responses naturally.
The latest treatment - GcMaff
More recipes, more book reviews.
Relaxation, massage, exercise.......coping with anxiety.
More on specific Mushroom extracts.

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Sunday, 4 April 2010

Help and Hope

A diagnosis of cancer is a daunting experience and most people experience a mixture of shock, anxiety and fear. You may not know much about your particular type of cancer but you realise that the treatment is likely to involve surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy - or all three. You can considerably improve your chances of survival by taking an active role in your treatment. If you choose to go the conventional route then there are many treatments and therapies that can help you through and lessen the side effects. If you have had conventional treatment but it hasn't worked or your cancer has returned there are still many treatments and therapies that can give you a better quality of life or even keep your cancer under control so that it becomes more of a chronic disease that needs monitoring and continued treatment , like diabetes.
For anyone who has cancer a second condition always comes soon after the diagnosis - information overload! More often than not it is a close relative or friend that takes on the research: the internet, books, magazines, scientific journals - whatever they can take in. It is time consuming, frustrating and a lot like looking for an Oasis in a desert - loads of sand and not much water! I hope that this Blog will be like finding an Oasis. My background in Nursing and Nutritional Medicine and my personal experience in searching for information on effective treatments and therapies for over 2 years has led me to starting this Blog so that that others can save time and energy and be empowered to make changes to their diet and lifestyle that will give them hope and encouragement.
I will recommend the best websites, the most informative books and the best quality supplements. As someone said to my husband and I "There is no room for fear - only love." Fear paralyses us and stops us moving forward, love makes us stronger and able to move mountains.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

The Quick Guide of Self Measures

  • Start a health diary. Keep a check on your weight, appetite, bowels, nutritional status, energy levels, sleep quality and exercise levels. Also ask you doctor for the results of your blood tests and check your white cell levels and red blood cells. The normal white cell count (or leukocytes) is between 4,000 and 10,000 but may fall significantly during radiotherapy and chemotherapy and the red cells (haemaglobin or Hb) can also fall causing fatigue.
  • Take a course of a herbal anti-parasitic such as Sweet Wormwood (Artemisia annua) with Barberry Bark(Berberis vulgaris). Many people who get cancer have parasites or flukes in their system and it will help considerably if you can make sure you are free of them. Artemisia and Berberine also are known to have an effect on cancer cells.
  • Liver Flush. After taking the anti-parasitic it is beneficial to do a Liver flush as you want your Liver to be in the best possible condition. This flush will clear the liver of debris and stones and can be repeated when necessary. It will cause diarrhoea and you may see many green stones that have been cleaned out.
  • Iodine patch test. Many people are low in Iodine and yet it is essential for so many functions in the body. Iodine was added to table salt in many countries in an attempt to make sure that the population did not become deficient but now we are warned to cut down on salt in our diets and in 1980 the baking industry started to use bromine instead of iodine in their products so we no longer get the recommended level of iodine daily unless we make an attempt to include iodine containing fooods into our regular diet. A full article on iodine and its importance will follow but a quick and easy way of testing and raising your levels is to do this patch test. Tincture of Iodine can be bought cheaply at the chemist. Dip a cotton bud into it and paint about a 2 inch square onto the inner part of your thigh or  upper arm. Watch to see when the stain fades and re-do the patch in a different area when it does. When the patch is still visable after 12 hours you probably have sufficient in your system but make sure you include some pinapple, onions, seaweed, watercress etc. in your diet.
  • Keep your bowel healthy. The gut is the biggest interface with our environment and the gut lining acts as a filter system and regulates our immune response. Keep the bowels regular and nourish the gut with Vitamin B complex (yeast free, timed release is best) or Chlorella that also provides a high dose of Betacarotene, also consume probiotics like Acidophilus.
  • REDUCE SUGAR as much as possible in your diet. Replace with a safe sweetner like Xylitol if necessary but not Aspartame or saccharine.If you have any sweeter food make sure you also eat some protein as this will help it to be metabolised more slowly. eg. chocolate covered nuts instead of just chocolate, porrige with a little honey or cane sugar instead of a comercial sweeten cereal like Honey Puffs. Cancer cells thrive on glucose. Do not have a PET scan unless you can be convinced that it is necessary for your treatment as a PET scan works by an injection of radioactive glucose going into your bloodstream and it is taken up quickly by cancer cells and so shows them up on your scan.
  • Cut out Trans-fats in pocessed foods and margarines. These fats are very damaging to your health. Reduce dairy foods to just a little butter and small amount of milk or milk susbstitute (Rice or almond milk) and try sheeps cheese or small amounts of goats cheese.
  • Olive Oil is the best oil to eat or cook with and olive oil based margarines without trans-fats are a good subsitute for butter. Flax seed oil is very beneficial but don't cook with it, you can drizzle it onto vegetable or salads and take as a supplement (1,000mgs a day) to supply anti-inflammatory Omega 3.
  • Fruits and Vegetables should be eaten as much as possible while decreasing the quanities of meat that you eat and adding more variety with beans, Chickpeas and other pulses like lentils.
  • Spices and Herbs have some very beneficial effects in the body. Tumeric (Curcumin) is especially tasty but toxic to cancer cells - mix it with Olive oil and black pepper and use in cooking or as a salad dressing. Use different spices and fresh herbs in your cooking to add all the benefits you can.
  • Eat more wholefoods and grains (organic if possible) and avoid white bread, white rice (except Basmati) and white pasta as they all raise the blood sugar quickly but don't have much nutritional value.
  • Drink Green Tea - there are many to choose from. Green tea has been proven to have a very strong anti- cancer action.
  • Eat Mushrooms as many varieties as you can get. If you don't like mushrooms then buy a supplement that has all the beneficial effects such as Reishi, Mesima, Maitake etc either in capsules or as extracts. This is one of the worlds best anti-cancer foods and has been used for years alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy in Japan, China and Korea where it has been found to reduce the side-effects of the treatment but assist in the effectiveness of killing cancer cells. If you cannot have the conventional treatments or they are not working then mushrooms should be at the top of your list of powerful treatments.
  • Balance your energy systems. This may be new to you but please embrace some form of energy treatment into you regime. Acupuncture, Craniopathy, Reiki, Chakra balancing, Meditiation or just massage, whatever helps your body to work with you against the disease.
  • Fresh Air and exercise. Cancer cells don't like oxygen - unlike the rest of your body that can't live without it! Sunlight also produces Vitamin D in the body which helps the immune system. Do whatever exercise you can and practise deep breathing. Qi Gong/Tai Chi is excellent and is great for anyone who finds normal exercise too strenuous.
  • Drink plenty of pure water. Glass bottled or filtered tap water.
  • Get on with your life as much as possible. Don't let the disease take over your life or your body. Plan things, enjoy yourself, cultivate your hobbies and interests and watch your favourite comedians or funny films.
  • Keep reading this Blog for more detailed information, food ideas, supplement information etc. Comment and ask questions...I will do whatever I can to help.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Nutrition and Cancer - Let's get started now!

The aim is to alter our chances of survival and have a better quality of life. The aim is to die of old age!

The World Cancer Research Fund now says we can slash cancer rates by at least one third by promoting healthy foods and exercise.

With the addition of supplements and lifestyle changes we could push this to nearer 90% reduction.

The Tide of Change is growing. Many hospitals around the world are now researching and using 'Alternative' and 'Complementary' therapies and they are now embracing the work of the nutritional pioneers like the Gerson Institute and Dr. Gonzales in New York. The World is uniting in a quest to find the answers and all the exciting developments are coming from areas outside chemotherapy. The New Millennium is supposed to be a more gentle, understanding age.

There is so much information available now on the Internet, in books and the media that it can be daunting and confusing - especially for anyone who has just been diagnosed with cancer and who wants all the answers now.

To make it as easy as possible I will give you the evidence based guidelines for an anti-cancer diet without long explanations as to why each food is beneficial. If you need to know more about the science behind it then there are some great websites in my Links column. I will then give you some easy ways to incorporate the changes into your daily regime.

They say it is easier to get someone to change their religion than it is to change their diet. Preventing and treating cancer should be a strong enough incentive to start right now.

Foods and drinks to avoid.

* Sugar, salt and most dairy foods (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream and any foods that contain them) The only exceptions being organic, low fat cottage cheese or yogurt when mixed with flax seeds and flaxseed oil as an anti-cancer treatment for which a recipe will be included later.
* Red meat avoid as much as possible and if you eat it only have a small portion(about 3oz or 80g)
* Fried food , minimise your intake and heat cooking oil gently. Boil, steam, poach or bake food instead.
* Bad Fats, Trans fats, hydrogenated fats and margarines that are solid at room temperature.
* Avoid all processed meats, sausages, frankfurters, bacon and smoked meats and fish.
* Avoid all burnt meat and food.
* Cut out white flour products, pastry, cakes, biscuits.
* Avoid Yeast and yeast products like marmite.
* Limit your alcohol to no more than one or two units a day or less. Avoid spirits, red wine is preferable.
* Avoid all soft drinks that are high in sugar. Dilute fresh fruit drinks with water.
* Limit Coffee or avoid completely. If you are a coffee addict - cut down slowly to avoid severe headaches.

Foods and Drinks to Increase

* Free range chicken and game avoiding farmed meats if possible
* Oily Fish like herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon avoiding farmed if possible.
* Fresh Fruits and vegetables every day try to eat several portions, some cooked and some raw. Have as many different and colourful ones as you can and organic if possible. If little is available then opt for frozen substitutes.
* Cruciferous Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kale - every day.
* Garlic have some everyday.
* Spices Turmeric, cumin, chili, curry powder, cinnamon and saffron.
* Olive Oil for salads and cooking.
* Flax seed oil, walnut oil, olive oil for salads and cold use only. Cold Pressed is best.
* Avocados and homemade guacamole
* Almond milk, rice milk, goats or soya milk can be substituted for cows milk.
* Eat wholefoods such as oats, wholegrain rice and wholegrain pasta, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds. Wholegrain organic bread in small quantities.
* Shiitake Mushrooms and dried seaweeds like Kombu and ginger can be added to cooked dishes.
* Fresh Herbs mint, coriander, thyme, sage and lemon grass
* Drink green tea and herb teas rich in antioxidants.
* Drink pure water, filtered tap water or spring water from glass bottles.

This diet will increase your vital energy and you will soon feel much better in body and mind.

Dr. Gonzales suggests that if you have a solid epithelial tumour, such as tumours of the lungs, pancreas, colon, prostate, uterus etc. you would do better on a largely plant-based diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, wholegrains and seeds and with minimal to no animal protein.

If you have a blood or immune based malignancy such as leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma you would do better with more animal protein and good fats.

If you have breast cancer and eat almost a vegetarian diet you need to supplement with Vitamin B12 which can be taken with a B complex vitamin and as a sub-lingual powder.

More on supplements in another Post.

Helping Yourself During Chemotherapy

Although many people fear chemotherapy more than they fear cancer, it often seems to be the only option they have. I believe that within the next few years we will have other options within mainstream medicine and that some of these options will be drugs derived from foods and herbs that are already known to have healing and protective properties. At present most Oncology Units around the World are offering the three main treatments of Surgery, Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy and extremely poor nutritional advice that encourages high calorie intake such as ice cream, cakes and milk shakes. The Tide is Changing and some Oncologists are now encouraging their patients to work with these treatments with supportive nutrition and supplements. Education is empowering and nothing is more encouraging than knowing that you can do things that will help the therapies work and give you a better quality of life and a better outcome. A very good website, overseen by Oncologists, is and I was excited to see that Naturopathic treatments and advice are included with information on drugs and side effects and also advice on which natural substances decrease toxicity and which enhance effectiveness. I will list some of the main self help measures that have been proven to be effective..

Preparing for Chemotherapy

* Reduce your anxiety about your treatment by asking your doctor questions about what side effects you are likely to experience and how best to deal with them.
* Try to relax and focus on yourself and healing. Find someone or some method that suits you and will help you through it. Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Meditation, Massage, swimming, Music..... the list is endless but it is important that it suits you.
* Get plenty of sleep. There are many supplements that can help relieve insomnia. Herbal ones like Passionflower, Valerian and Kava. Homeopathic treatments like "Calms" and nutritional supplements like Magnesium, Flax seed Oil and 5-HTP that is the precursor to Serotonin. Melatonin(1 -5 mgs) taken early evening is also an extremely strong antioxidant that can help lessen the toxicity of chemotherapy and also help normal sleep patterns especially in older people who produce less. Melatonin is not available over the counter in some countries.
* Take care of your immune system and your gastrointestinal health. Treat any candida or parasite infection with herbal remedies. One of the best ways to enhance your system is to take a good probiotic and also a green food like Chlorella or Spirulina and this will help you body to produce vitamins B and K in the intestines as well as provide many minerals. Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) helps protect the liver from toxins and therefore improve nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue. Glutamine is an amino acid that will help stop inflammation of the mouth and stomach and also significantly reduce nausea associated with chemotherapy. Powdered Glutamine can be added to water and drunk three times a day. A good antioxidant that includes Vitamins A, C and E plus Selenium. CoQ10 as an antioxidant and heart protector. As well as Milk Thistle, herbs like Astragalus, Cat's Claw and Echinacea can help the body deal with the chemotherapy and recover quicker between treatments.
* Eat Well. Try to eat a really nutritious diet with plenty of wholefoods, low fat proteins(fish, chicken and beans), fruits and vegetables. Drink a Nutri -Shake (see in previous blog) with added ground flax seeds as these have many beneficial properties for before, during and after chemotherapy.
* Drink plenty of fresh, pure water.
* Exercise within your capabilities every day to increase energy and vitality by improving the oxygenation and detoxing of you body.
* Take 1000mgs- 3000mgs of L-Carnitine a day. This is sold in many supermarkets as a sports supplement and it can significantly reduce the fatigue that often accompanies chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is currently undergoing clinical trials in several countries and it is also possible that it may protect the heart from the side effects of certain drugs like Doxorubicin.
* Drink Green Tea and Aloe Vera. Avoid alcohol during treatment.

During Treatment

Continue with all the recommendations above and if you still experience nausea try:

* Snacking on healthy foods in small quantities 5 or 6 times a day and some of these snacks can be in the form of the protein powder smoothies.
* Don't drink liquids with meals and don't lie down immediately after eating. If you can, a short walk after a meal would help digestion.
* Ginger and Peppermint can both help settle the stomach. Cut up a little root ginger and steep it in hot water, then add a slice of lemon and drink it warm or chill it and sip it cold. Carrot and ginger juice is very soothing and full of vitamins. Avoid sugar and pure fruit juices because these can encourage overgrowth of yeasts in the stomach and intestines.
* If you have sickness and diarrhea make sure that you add some sea salt to your vegetable broths or make a soup with Miso which is naturally salty.

Quick Fix Nutritional Smoothie

Breakfast Nutri-smoothie.
Take a selection of fresh and frozen fruits
A Probiotic Drink
A little fruit juice
A dessertspoon of ground Flax seeds
A dessertspoon of either Almond powder, Lecithin or Rice powder
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend, adding more fruit juice until the consistency is smooth and drinkable. If your digestion is weak or you are unwell it is best to leave the smoothie to get to room temperature, blend again and then serve.
This is the quickest, most nutrious breakfast and it is delicious.P1020924
If you grind enough Flaxseeds for a week put them into a jam jar and keep them in the fridge.
You can also grind sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds and add a little of these.
This is a really great breakfast for the summer and you can vary the fruits you use, try half a banana, some apple, some cinnamon and a fresh fig!
In the winter a good substitute would be to make a puree of the fruit and ground seeds and them pour them over a nice hot bowl of porridge.

Exercise for those who don't exercise!

I'm already getting loads of people asking me "what is Qi Gong?"

Qi Gong (or chi gong) is the best exercise for people who have not been very active before or who, due to age or ill health, cannot do much now. Although slow and simple with regular practice it can give immense health and fitness benefits. It can relieve stress, boost the immune system and increase the natural healing abilities of the body. It involves a continual sequence of easy movements that are synchronized with deep abdominal breathing. This stimulates the flow of energy, or chi, around the body and turns  the fight or flight, sympathetic nervous system off and the healing parasympathetic system on. It is similar to Tai Chi and is often practiced using a combination of some of these moves and some Qi Gong moves or as a warm up/cool down for Yoga. For more information try and start relaxing and healing now.

Nutritional Supplements

A few days ago a friend asked me to check out the vitamin pills that she was taking. The first bottle had a label saying Vitamin B Complex and instructions saying to take 1-2 three times a day but with no ingredients list or amounts specified which I thought was odd. On closer inspection there was another label underneath with the missing information. On peeling off the top label the one underneath was damaged but the list started with Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 1.2 mgs. which is about enough for a Budgerigar! You would need to take 10 -50 tablets a day to get a therapeutic dose. The most important things to look for in a supplement are the dose, whether they are in a bio-available form that makes them easily absorbed and the lack of additional "fillers" such as Magnesium stearate which can decrease the absorption of nutrients by about 65%. Here are some of my favourite and most beneficial nutritional supplements.

* CHLORELLA is a unique, single celled, fresh water algae that has a nucleus. It is often called a wholefood or pure food because it contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and polysaccharides. Chlorella contains ten times the beta-carotene of carrots. If taken with a good broad spectrum probiotic they work synergistically to provide even more vitamins in the body especially the B vitamins. It does not provide much Folic Acid but is particularly high in B-12 which is good for vegetarians.
* Xtend-life Total balance represent the highest level of micro-nutrients and quality that I have ever seen on the market. Total Balance is a multiple dietary supplement containing the most comprehensive formula of Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, herbal extracts and other special nutrients targeted for men or women. It includes over 40 proven anti-cancer nutrients and special neuro-nutrients for the brain. The tablets are enteric coated so that they get broken down in the small intestines where absorption takes place. The company also produce the most information about their products that I have ever seen and they will answer any questions you have on-line or by e-mail. They deliver Worldwide and offer a money back guarantee.
* Seventh Wave Supplements are pure and natural. They offer some good balanced products with a good range of co-factors to make them more effective in the body. They have a selection of herbs, spices, Propolis, Zell Oxygen and Zeolite mineral and Celtic salt.
* MGN-3 or BIOBRAN is a powerful Immune stimulant and is often recommended to keep the white cell levels up when chemotherapy and Radiotherapy are damaging the bone marrow. There have been studies on the effect that it has on T and B Lymphocytes and on NK Cell activity in cancer patients showing effect in all patients. For more information please look at the Cancer Active Website.
*Melatonin this is a strong anti-oxidant as well as a hormone that can be taken to help with insomnia or jet lag. It is considered to be a strong cancer protective agent but is not recommended for cancers of the immune system.
*Higher Nature is one of my favourite suppliers of nutritional supplements. Based in the UK they also ship to Europe free of charge. They have good quality supplements, in therapeutic doses and at reasonable prices. Always compare dose to price as cheaper supplements often contain less of the active ingredients.
Zylosweet is a good substitute for sugar and is even safe for diabetics. I don't recommend saccharine or Aspartame type sweetners. Click on link in the sidebar or the name above to access their site and more information.

A small comment on cost. It can be costly to take good nutritional supplements but if they make you feel and function better then it must be worth it. Compared to the amount people spend on alcohol and smoking - they are not expensive.

The True Magic of Mushrooms

For centuries we have known that certain mushrooms have a beneficial effect on health but only more recently have the active compounds contained within them been isolated and studied."Turkey Tail" or Trametes versicolor mushroom

Our immune systems are extremely complex and in order to protect us from bacteria and viruses and also genetic mistakes during cellular reproduction that result in cancer growth, these complex systems need to be in balance.

Nature has provided us with many plants and herbs that enhance overall immunity. Immune -potentiating botanicals are also used to increase the effectiveness of drugs and reduce side effects. The Chinese call this Fu Zheng therapy, which means to support the body's natural balance. Zheng (also called Zheng Qi) is translated as meaning life energy, activity and resistance and when it is deficient a favourable environment for cancer is created.In Western terms the immune systems surveillance function fails to discover and suppress the growth of cancerous or mutated cells. The flow of "Qi" (sometimes spelled Chi) may be disrupted by poor nutrition, lifestyle, overwork, stress repressed or excessive emotions and lack of exercise. This Zheng qi, or Qi, is also damaged by the core medical treatments for cancer, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and in China and Japan Fu Zheng therapy has been used alongside these therapies with significantly improved outcomes.

If you have an immune compromised condition (eg. cancer, AIDS, leukemia or chronic infections such as Epstein-barr virus) then learn how to boost your immune system using mushrooms, plants, acupuncture, Qi Gong and with a good diet, supplements and lifestyle.

The technical advance is that we now know that many of the botanicals used in Fu Zheng therapy contain polysaccharides beta-1,6 glucan and beta-1,3 glucan. Beta-glucans are known as "biological response modifiers" and they specifically stimulate the innate branch of the immune system. Research has shown that beta-glucans stimulate macrophage, NK (Natural killer) cells, T cells and the production of immune system cytokines. They may also enhance Dendritic Cell function. Recent research has shown that frequently immune suppression means that these cells may be produced but may not mature and therefore not function as they should.

Obviously not everyone has access to an Integrated Oncologist or a Chinese Medicine Practitioner but there are products on the market like " Immiflex" and "Biobran" (made from rice) and there are mushroom extracts, Astragalus, and other botanicals that can be taken alongside conventional therapy to minimise the damage and the side effects. Some mushrooms have specific action against certain cancers or conditions - for instance Turkey tail and Agaricus have been shown to kill sarcoma in laboratory conditions when few chemotherapy drugs have any effect. For a chart detailing specific actions of each kind of mushroom please see the link to Paul Stamets website, below. Shiitake, Maitake, Reishi and Oyster mushrooms are some of the more well-known varieties with very well documented research.

So, if you have a compromised immune system, try some Eastern therapies to improve your immune function, your Qi and your wellbeing and you will be amazed by how effective they can be.

My favourite sites for information on Mushrooms and extracts are:

wikipedia on Medicinal mushrooms

Paul Stamets Mushrooms

BOOK REVIEW - anti cancer a new way of life by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber

I have read many books on Cancer and Nutrition and this is one I wish I could have read a few years ago and not just last week! The author had a brain tumour 15 years ago at just 30 years old. This is his story of survival and discovery and how he has tried to educate people that it is our lifestyle that is the major determining factor and there is so much that we can do to help boost our body's natural capacity for protection.
He has lived cancer free for more than seven years now and in this book he tells us what he has learned.
The book also has a Pocket Guide in the back for quick reference in your kitchen or shopping basket.
See on Amazon.

Essential Iodine

Iodine is a basic element, like oxygen, zinc, selenium etc. and it is found in every organ and tissue in the body. It is antibacterial, antiparasitic,antiviral and anticancer. It affects hormones, thyroid hormones probably being the most well known but also oestrogen metabolism. It is essential during pregnancy and it can resolve fibrocystic breast disease, breast cancer, ovarian cysts and may help in ovarian cancer.
Iodine is essential for a fully functioning immune system. It is known that it is taken up by Neutrophils (white blood cells that engulf bacteria and foreign bodies) and that it also helps with a chemical reaction within the body that is highly effective against micro-organisms, viruses and fungi.
Iodine is concentrated in the stomach and is important in the production of stomach acidity, good digestion, bowel movements and controlling Candida. It is also being studied in relation to stomach cancer, lung cancer and skin cancer.
It is essential for the heart and circulation systems and for the development and function of the brain.
In 1999 a conference, organised by UNICEF, warned that insufficient iodine in the diet is the most common -yet most preventable - cause of brain damage throughout the World. Consequences for the community range from mild blunting of the interlect to Cretinism, a cause of deafness and severe mental impairment of children caused by iodine deficiency during pregnancy. The IQ of a deficient community is decreased by about 13.5 IQ points. For more information see the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency
Consider the broad range of symptoms that can result from iodine &/or thyroid deficiency:-
fatigue, high blood pressure, depression, hair loss, dry skin, constipation, heat/cold intolerance, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, nervousness, infertility, oesteoporosis, lack of stomach acid, poor digestion, immune system defects and even Dementia and Parkinson's Disease.
If you would like to know more about the overall affects on health you might like to read Iodine: why you need it, why you can't live without it. by Dr. David Brownstein
In this book the Doctor states that 90% of the patients he tests are deficient in Iodine and that there is evidence that the correct combination and amount of iodine/iodide has the ability to disintegrate cancer tumours from the inside out.

How to test for Iodine deficiency.
  • Dip a cotton bud into USP Tincture of Iodine (available from chemists/drugstores)
  • Paint a 2-3 inch square onto soft skin of inner thigh or lower belly.
  • Wait and check occaisionally. If the stain disappears within 12 hours or less, reapply and continue to do so until the stain is still visable after12 hours. Vary the area that you apply it to. Re-check every few months. If you find yourself to be deficient then also try to include more of the following foods into your diet. Recommended intake is from 150 - 1000mcgs a day.
Food Sources of Iodine
Fish and seafood
Sea vegetables - Dulse, Wakame, Kombu etc. Soak until soft and add to soups, stews and stock.
Milk, cheese and yogurt
Onions, radishes
Watercress, lettuce, spinach and green peppers
Pineapple, strawberries
Peanuts, raisins
Wholegrains and cereals
Celtic Salt or good quality Sea salt ( Iodised table salt is not recommended as it contains aluminum and sugar)
Seaweed products - Dulce
Chlorella or Spirulina -but do consult with your doctor about taking these supplements if you are on Thyroid Hormone Replacement therapy.
Co-factors necessary for iodine uptake and efficient use are Selenium, Zinc, magnesium, calcium, Vitamin C and Vitamin D as well as Co-Q10
For more information about Thyroid disease click

Where to get advice on Nutrition?

Diet and nutrition play a large part in Ayurvedic, Chinese and Arabic medicine but not Western medicine.
In 5th Century BC Hippocrates said "Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine food" and Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath that states "I will apply dietic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgement; I will keep them from harm and injustice" but nutrition is hardly touched on in medical schools in the West. I have asked many doctors how much tuition they have received on nutrition and most say less than 1 day out of 4 years of training! As for "...keep them from harm" then I think the medical profession has strayed a long way from the path especially in Oncology. Chemotherapy significantly damages a patients digestion, absorption and uptake of nutrients and can contribute to the earlier onset of cachexia, or acute malnutrition and most hospitals offer nothing more than fortified milkshakes and anti-sickness medication. Some hospitals go further - a well known London Oncology hospital (and many hospitals in Europe are similar) offer a booklet that advises, during treatment, high energy foods such as breads, potatoes, rice, pasta, sugar, honey, syrup, cakes, sweets and ice-cream should be eaten and to have fried foods often and yet reduce fruit and vegetables if you have a poor appetite. This goes against everything that I know as a nurse and nutritionist. I understand that during treatment they do not want you to lose significant weight as that can drastically affect the outcome but eating a high sugar, high refined carbohydrate diet increases insulin levels which encourage cancer growth and depress the immune system. They also state that you should avoid replacing a meal with soup because it doesn't contain as much nourishment as a meal or snack but homemade soups can be very nutritious In China today medicinal ingredients are regularly cooked into soups and other dishes to maintain health and well being. It is a great way to incorporate seaweed and mushrooms that help boost the immune system
Homemade soups can be made quickly and contain plenty of vegetables, olive oil, protein in the form of beans, lentils, fish or chicken, herbs and spices. They can be blended if prefered and wholemeal pasta, potato or rice can be added for extra calories. This is a very nutritious snack and only contains natural sugars and healthy fats.
The main thing to remember is that normal comercial sugar has calories but zero nutrition and has a bad effect on insulin levels, immune cells and inflammation.
If you are on chemotherapy then there is very good advice on Oncology Channel Website that has general advice but also a chart detailing specific chemotherapy drugs and supplements that decrease toxicity and/or increase effectiveness.
The World Cancer Research Fund says that we can slash cancer rates by at least one third by promoting healthy foods and exercise and they have spent £64million on research, produced reports with the American Institue of Cancer Research on the Global Perspective and instigated improved education such as "Change4Life" and "5 a day Campaign" in the UK. They have many educational articles and booklets that can be downloaded from their site. They have doctors from all over the world on the panel and so hopefully East meets West and their Mission is to educate people about the choices they can make to reduce their chances of developing cancer.
If you already have cancer you need to go a few steps further... read about the foods that have a proven anti-cancer effect and add them to your diet on a daily basis." The Rainbow Diet" by Chris Woollams - (Amazon UK & at Canceractive website ) or "Anti cancer a new way of life" from in sidebar (reviewed on this blog) and the article on The True Magic of Mushrooms on this site are good starting points. Learn how to boost your immune system by eating healthy, colourful and nutritious foods and then learn what supplements can give you an added advantage by following this blog and links on it.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Immune Function and the Thymus Gland

The Thymus gland is situated under the breastbone at the top of the chest, just below the Thyroid Gland. It is the major gland of our immune system, responsible for many functions, including the production of T Lymphocytes - a type of white blood cell responsible for cell mediated immunity rather than antibody controlled immunity. Cell mediated immunity is extremely important in forming resistance to infection by mold-like bacteria, yeasts, fungi, parasites and viruses (including Epstein -Barr and Herpes Simplex). It is also critical in protecting us from the development of cancer and allergies.
The Thymus gland also releases several hormones which regulate many immune functions and low levels of these are associated with depressed immunity and increased susceptibility to infection. Thymic hormones are frequently very low in the elderly, AIDS patients and cancer patients ( especially those who have undergone Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy) and high stress levels deplete them more.
There are three main areas where you can do things to improve your Thymus function and boost your immunity.
  1. Prevent  Thymus damage and involution (shrinkage). The Thymus is extremely susceptible to free radical and oxidative damage caused by radiation, infection, stress, exposure to high levels of pollution or chemotherapy drugs and chronic illness. Anti-oxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, glutathione, zinc and beta-carotene, anti-oxidant herbs like Astragalus and certain mushroom extracts can all help to prevent Thymus damage and enhance cell mediated immunity.
  2. There are many nutrients that are important in the production, secretion and function of thymic hormones. Deficiencies of any one of these nutrients can result in decreased thymic hormone function and impaired immune function. Zinc is particularly effective in restoring depressed immunity and low levels of zinc usually cause a lack of sense of smell and taste. Vitamin B6 and vitamin C are also critical nutrients and because they are water soluble and not stored in the body it is vital to maintain a sufficient daily intake.
  3. Stimulation of Thymus gland activity can be by high quality thymus extracts, either by capsule supplements or by a series of injections depending on condition of the immune system. I have seen someone who had a depressed white blood cell count of 2,500-3000 for 2 years following Radiotherapy and chemotherapy (the normal range is 4,000-10,000) rise to 5,300 after one course of Thymus injections. For more information click Thymus-Therapy  The immune enhancing effects of thymus extract have been can be useful in treating the following conditions:        
  • Lowered resistance or susceptiblity to infection.
  • Degenerative conditions of the spine and joints, including Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Autoimmune diseases - RA, ulcerative colitis, Chrohn's disease etc.
  • Metabolic disturbances such as Diabetes and gout.
  • Diseases of the heart and circulation.
  • Chronic inflammatory diseases of the respiratory tract, the liver, the gallbladder, the kidneys or the prostate gland.
  • Thymus peptides can also be used as a supplementary measure in the treatment of cancer (pre- and post- operative treatment and for reduction of side effects during and after Radiation and chemotherapy)
  • Also as a prophylatic measure against precancerous conditions in people who have a hereditary predispoition to cancer.
Other herbs which positively effect the thymus gland include liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and European mistletoe (Viscum Album). The most well known, often taken to prevent colds, is Echinacea angustiflolia but this should be taken with care by people who have an autoimmune disease.

If you wish to supplement with Thymus Enzyme Capsules (dirived from calf thymus) then a quality product is very important and there are many on the market. I have used products from a company called Enzymatic Therapy and they have 2 products - Thymulus and Thymuplex.