Omega 3 Fatty Acids Cross the Blood Brain Barrier

December 5, 2013

human brainNew research from Karolinska Institute in Sweden shows that omega-3 fatty acids in dietary supplements can cross the blood brain barrier in people with Alzheimer’s disease, affecting known markers for both the disease itself and inflammation. The findings are presented in theJournal of Internal Medicine, and strengthen the evidence that omega-3 may benefit certain forms of this seriously debilitating disease. Click here to read more.

This is yet another published study that demonstrates how proper fatty acid balance in the blood stream can prevent and treat diseases with an inflammatory component.  The research to date points to benefit of the essential fatty acids in the following conditions:

Cardiovascular Health

  • Endocrine influence
  • Glucose maintenance
  • Lipids and triglycerides
  • Metabolic parameters
  • Primary prevention
  • Secondary prevention

Children’s Health and Development

  • Adolescent and teen health
  • ASD – Autism spectrum disorders
  • Attention, learning, and behavior
  • Disease prevention
  • Neurological development
  • Intelligence
  • Vision

Female Health and Reproduction

  • Peri-and post-menopause
  • Pregnancy & breastfeeding
  • Puberty and menstrual years

Immune Health

  • Acute infections
  • Allergies
  • Chronic immune deficiencies

Joint and Tissue Inflammation

  • Intestinal health
  • Joint flexibility & mobility

Lifestyle and Healthy Living

  • Alcohol and tobacco use
  • Body fat/weight
  • Fitness
  • Healthful living
  • Stress

Mental/Neurological Health

  • CNS Developement
  • Cognitive function/agent
  • Depression and mood
  • Mental balance

In our concierge medical practice we test the blood for over 30 fatty acids to identify what specifically is out of balance and needs treatment. In some patients, too many of the omega 3 fatty acids can suppress important components of immune function and can promote tumor growth.  In some patients their level of trans fatty acids (hydrogenated fats) are the culprit in blocking cell to cell communication.  Other patients  may only need DHA but not GLA.  And so forth. This is why testing, and getting an individualized report on what your body needs, will lead to a more positive outcome in terms of managing your long term health.

In health,

Dr. Gina


Pesticides and Endometriosis

November 5, 2013

FishJumpingoutofBowlToxicWhy some women and not others get endometriosis — the growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus that can cause pain and infertility — is not known, but researchers have come up with one possible contributing factor: pesticide poisoning.

Scientists studied 248 women with surgically confirmed endometriosis and 538 healthy controls. They measured blood levels of two pesticides, mirex and beta HCH, which persist in some fish and dairy products even though their use in the United States has been banned for decades. The study appears online in Environmental Health Perspectives.

The researchers found that women with the highest exposure to mirex had a 50 percent increased risk for endometriosis, and those exposed to high levels of beta HCH a 30 to 70 percent increased risk.

Read more here.

This study points to the importance of thinking about the long-term impact that pesticides and other environmental pollutants have on our health.  This particular pesticide, Mirex, has been banned for twenty plus years, yet it is increasing the risk of endometriosis and associated infertility today. The effects of these chemicals linger and get stored in the food supply, the soil, our cells.

The good news is that the more information is released like this, and the more aware we are,  the more we, as scientists, healthcare professionals, farmers, and consumers, will focus (hopefully) on less toxic means of managing pests in our environment.

In health,

Dr. Gina


How to Avoid the 12 Known Chemicals that Cause Hormone Imbalance

November 2, 2013

pesticideThe Environmental Working Group has published an excellent article detailing the 12 most common chemicals in our environment that cause hormone disruption leading to everything from cancer to infertility to shrunken testicles…and actions you can take today to help protect yourself and your family from harm.

The first step is to remove the source of the chemicals if you can. Read here to learn more.

The second step is to support the body’s natural detoxification processes daily, and seasonally, through medically supervised detoxification programs that are customized to your specific situation, your lab test results and your metabolism.

No one can afford to ignore this issue. Chemicals in our environment can cause irreversible harm to our health, if we allow it.

In health,

Dr. Gina


BPA and the Risk of Miscarriage

October 16, 2013

New research suggests that high levels of BPA, a chemical in many plastics and canned food linings, might raise the risk of miscarriage in women prone to that problem or having trouble getting pregnant.

The work is not nearly enough to prove a link, but it adds to “the biological plausibility” that BPA might affect fertility and other aspects of health, said Dr. Linda Giudice, a California biochemist who is president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The study was to be presented Monday at the group’s annual conference in Boston. Last month, ASRM and an obstetricians group urged more attention to environmental chemicals and their potential hazards for pregnant women.

BPA, short for bisphenol-A, and certain other environmental chemicals can have very weak, hormone-like effects. Tests show BPA in nearly everyone’s urine, though the chemical has been removed from baby bottles and many reusable drink containers in recent years. The federal Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe as used now in other food containers. Read more by clicking here.

When treating infertility one arm of treatment involves detoxification and removing exposure to chemicals such as BPA (there are many more) that alter hormone balance and affect fertility.

In health,

Dr. GinaImage


Yoga Can Help Keep Kids in School

August 27, 2013

GirlYogaAn excellent discussion below published in Forbes…given the increasing stressors kids face today, yoga exercises provide a form of movement that help kids to cope, focus and thrive.

 

In health,

Dr. Gina

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Forbes (forbes.com) – How Yoga Could Help Keep Kids In School – By Alice G. Walton

Scientific evidence is mounting daily for what many have long sensed: that practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help us address certain intractable individual and societal problems. Prominent companies – Google, General Mills, Target, Apple, Nike, AOL, and Procter & Gamble among them – and prominent individuals have already embraced this possibility. Tim Ryan, the Ohio congressman who wrote the book A Mindful Nation, has been a big proponent of bringing mindfulness to the masses. He, along with others, believes that mindfulness should be a part of everyone’s day, to help wire our brains to deal with our many modern stressors.

And, perhaps more importantly for our global health, for kids dealing with extreme stressors, traumas and abuse, putting these practices into schools could be the difference between failure and success.

Last month, a group of American and Canadian scholars, researchers, businesspeople, and yoga teachers came together for a weekend at Omega Institute to discuss how this group of practices that helps us self-regulate as individuals could, quite possibly, help us regulate on a society level. The issues the country is facing – the massive dropout rate of school kids, substance abuse among all age groups, PTSD among veterans, the staggeringly high incarceration and recidivism rates – cost the country volumes in human potential, not to mention trillions in dollars.


Warning for Parents: Toxic Lead Levels in Imported Rice

April 16, 2013

BoywithRiceCakeA new press release from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians reveals that rice not manufactured in the US has high levels of lead that are causing toxic reactions in children.

US companies must maintain strict quality control measures when importing foods and herbs from other countries. The study cited was just presented at the American Chemical Society’s meeting and is extremely concerning, especially because of the gluten free trend in children’s foods. Manufacturers are turning to rice based products as an alternative for wheat.

There was concern over high arsenic levels in rice in late 2012. For now, to be on the safe side, I recommend avoiding rice-based infant and children products altogether.  There are other options for grains if desired, that promote balanced nutritional health, such as quinoa.

In health,

Dr. Gina

TOXIC LEVELS OF LEAD COMMON IN IMPORTED RICE, RICE FLOUR: A new study has found that the rice imported into North America from Asia, Europe and South America contains very high levels of lead that represents serious health risks, particularly for infants and children, who are especially sensitive to its effects, and adults of Asian heritage who consume larger amounts of rice. (Rice and rice flour imports to the US have tripled since 1999 and rice is the staple food for 3 billion people worldwide. Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys. It causes potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders in children.) The researchers found that for children, the daily exposure levels from eating the rice products imported from these countries would be 30 to 60 times higher than the FDA provisional total tolerable intake (PTTI) levels; for adults, the daily exposure levels were 20 to 40 times higher than the PTTI levels. This study was presented in New Orleans at the meeting of the American Chemical Society. The full report will be available when it is published in a journal at a later time.


Lithium Protects the Brain

February 26, 2013

I recently read a good summary by journalist Sheila Casey of the benefits of the mineral lithium orotate (not to be mistaken with the prescription medication lithium carbonate) for protecting the brain from challenges like Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, mood disorders including depression, alcoholism, and brain injury, and to enhance brain function, increasing the number and the quality of new brain cells.

Lithium protects the brain against toxins of all kinds, including alcohol, and environmental toxins we all face.  At HealthBridge we test the blood for lithium in patients who are challenged with mood disorders and often find an extreme deficiency of this mineral. I will prescribe the mineral when it is appropriate, while monitoring blood tests to make sure thyroid, kidney and liver function remain healthy.

Some food sources of lithium to incorporate into your diet include kelp (1000-2000mg taken daily) and pistachios (just a handful, 2-3 times per week).

In health,

Dr. Gina

Li

Miracle Mineral Protects the Brain By Sheila Casey / RCFP

Numerous studies have found that a common mineral heals the brain by stimulating the growth of new brain cells and protecting brain cells from every known neurotoxin. It has been shown to reduce the incidence of violent crime, homicide, suicide, and drug addiction, while preventing the brain shrinkage and memory loss that otherwise occurs naturally with age, as well as helping people with alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, cluster headaches and traumatic brain injury.

Although occurring naturally in tomatoes and in the water supply in many places, this mineral is rarely found in any vitamin-mineral supplement, and is not even commonly found in brick and mortar health food stores. Its name may surprise you: Lithium.

Most people think of lithium as a drug for crazy people. While high doses of lithium carbonate are used to treat bipolar disorder, and are available only as a prescription, both lithium orotate and lithium aspartate are available cheaply over the counter, in much lower doses, at outlets such as vitacost.com and iherb.com. (Note: We have no financial connection with either outlet.)

According to the controversial, and now deceased German orthomolecular physician Dr. Hans Nieper, the orotate form of lithium is more effectively transported inside cells, making it more effective at lower doses than the prescription form, lithium carbonate.

Lithium has also been shown to be effective at ultra-low doses, such as those found naturally in tap water. A ten year Texas study found that the incidence of rape, homicide, suicide, burglary and drug addiction was significantly lower in counties where the water supply contained 70-170 micrograms of lithium per liter, compared to counties where there is little or no lithium in the water. A similar study in Japan found that lithium in the water supply significantly reduced the risk of suicide.

Even a very thirsty Texan who drank three liters of water a day (100 ounces) would still be getting only a half a milligram of lithium per day, if they lived in an area where there is 170 mcg. of lithium per liter of water. Compare this to the amount commonly taken by bipolar patients: 900 mg/day of lithium carbonate, which contains 165 mg of elemental lithium. Put another way, the startling results of the Texas study were achieved with doses that were one-third of one percent of the amount taken by bipolar patients.

These highly beneficial effects from low dose lithium have prompted some researchers to call for adding lithium to the water supply in the amounts found naturally in the high lithium Texas counties.

One of these is Jonathan Wright M.D, author, founder of the Tahoma Clinic in Renton, Washington, and a member of the medical advisory board for the non-profit Life Extension Foundation. Dr. Wright first began working with lithium in the 70s, when research at a VA hospital showed that it dramatically reduced recidivism (otherwise known as “falling off the wagon”) among alcoholics. Not only were these vets drinking less, their families reported less anger, aggression and violence in the men, and less moodiness, weepiness and depression in the women. They were also sleeping better, and generally calmer and happier.

Wright later began using low dose lithium with the children of alcoholics, who often have some of the same mood problems afflicting their parents. (A February 2010 article published in the journal Addiction showed that kids with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to crave sweets, suffer from depression, and become alcoholics themselves.)

But Wright didn’t start using low dose lithium himself until 1999, when an article in the British medical journal The Lancet reported the astonishing finding that just four weeks of high-dose lithium therapy caused a three percent increase in brain volume — translating into billions of additional brain cells. These findings turned on its head the conventional wisdom that we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have, and that brain shrinkage is an unavoidable consequence of aging.

In the past ten years, says Wright, there has been an “avalanche of research” about lithium. In addition to proving definitively that lithium stimulates the brain to grow new cells, it has also been shown to be, Wright says, a “wonderful neuroprotective agent from any type of toxin there is.” This neuro-protective mechanism is so strong that one respected lithium researcher said, according to Wright, that it “verges on malpractice to prescribe any psychotropic medication without lithium to protect the brain.” Psychotropics include antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and sleeping pills.

Dr. Wright has even heard, anecdotally, from numerous patients, that when they are taking lithium they don’t get bad hangovers. Lithium protects the brain from the damaging effects of alcohol, reducing the pain the morning after. Wright cautions that one can’t simply pop a tablet of lithium along with a pitcher of margaritas to achieve this effect, one would have to be taking it regularly, prior to a night of overindulgence, to protect brain cells.

Likewise, it has been shown that if the blood supply is suddenly cut off to the brain, such as with a stroke, brain cells suffer much less damage if the stroke victim has been taking lithium. (It does not work to take the lithium after the stroke, when the damage has already occurred.)

Mentioning that a recent medical journal carried a story with the headline “Can lithium prevent Alzheimer’s disease?” Dr. Wright said, “You know when you see a headline like that, that in another ten years you’ll see the same headline without the question mark.” He then enumerated multiple ways in which lithium interferes with the Alzheimer’s disease process.

Although he has no family history of mental illness or alcoholism, Wright has been taking 20 mg/day of elemental lithium (in the orotate form) for over ten years, purely to protect his brain and keep his IQ and memory in tip-top form, for as long as possible, as he ages.

In over 30 years, Wright has encountered only two or three people who have had a possible reaction to a dose of 20 mg/day or less: they thought it might have caused a slight tremor — which went away when the lithium was discontinued. On the other hand, he’s had dozens of patients report that their benign tremor improved on low dose lithium

Wright cautions that every patient is different and it is wise to also take fish oil and flax seed oil, if one is taking lithium. These healthy oils are routinely used to treat lithium toxicity in patients who are so severely bipolar that stopping their lithium is not an option, and they add an extra layer of safety for those using over the counter lithium without a doctor’s supervision.

Wright defines low dose lithium as anything up to a maximum of 55 mg of elemental lithium per day, which is the equivalent of a single 300 mg. capsule of prescription lithium carbonate, or 11 tablets of over the counter lithium orotate or aspartate, which typically contain 5 mg. of elemental lithium per tablet. No one, he says, should consider going higher than that without regular blood testing to insure that they are not toxic, and damaging either their kidneys or thyroid gland. Symptoms of lithium toxicity are: tremor in the hands, rising blood pressure, and flu-like symptoms.

Given the many amazing neurological benefits of lithium, why has there been so little it in the press? A search at nytimes.com for “lithium alcoholism” brought up just two relevant articles: from 1973 and 1975. A search for “lithium Alzheimer’s” at both MSNBC and CNN brought up no relevant articles.

Dr. Wright has a theory about this, and it’s not flattering to either science writers, pharmaceutical companies or biosciences academics. The problem begins, he says, with the fact that lithium cannot be patented, so no real money can be made from selling it. Thus, there are no armies of press agents blanketing science writers with press releases touting its eye-popping benefits. And science writers, Dr. Wright says, “do not dig, and they have not been digging into this lithium at all.” If they don’t receive a press release about it, says Wright, science writers are unlikely to find out about new discoveries.

Not only is there no money to be made selling lithium, lithium represents direct competition to drugs that are currently earning many billions of profit for pharmaceutical companies. The central nervous system (CNS) drug market is expected to increase to $64 billion this year. By comparison, lithium aspartate is available at vitacost.com for less than $6 for a 30 day supply.

I asked Dr. Wright “If everyone were taking low dose lithium, as you are, wouldn’t there be a greatly reduced market for psychotropic drugs, Alzheimer’s drugs, alcoholism drugs?” and he replied:

“Yes. I don’t know when the news about lithium will break through into public awareness. When it does, it will probably be opposed, because there are so many professors who are on the payroll of patent medicine companies. Anybody who comes out and promotes something that is in competition with a product from the patent medicine companies is going to be called crazy and a quack by those on the payroll of those same patent medicine companies.”

The news that lithium is good for our brains raises some compelling questions. Is lithium an essential nutrient for human health that is deficient in our water supply and the soil that grows our food? With so many people now filtering their water or drinking purified bottled water, are we eliminating even trace amounts of lithium from our diets? Lithium is one of the most abundant minerals in the sea, with 50 micrograms in a tablespoon of seawater. Could that be part of the reason why people the world over flock to the sea, and feel so relaxed and calm after a day spent splashing in the waves?

Until these questions are answered, one thing seems clear: your brain has a good friend in lithium.

Sheila Casey is a DC based journalist. Her work has appeared in The Denver Post, Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, Dissident Voice and Common Dreams.


Top 5% on LinkedIn

February 12, 2013

Dr. Gina had one of the top 5% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012! The content on this blog also posts to Linkedin, and it is refreshing to know that the messages we share with you here, about health and medicine, are reaching a large and influential audience.

In health,

Dr. Gina and all of us at HealthBridge Medical Center


Dr. Gina on “Healthy Talk” Radio

December 4, 2012

Dr. Gina CushmanGina Cushman, NMD, PhD, owner of HealthBridge Medical Center in Newport Beach, CA, will be on the radio Wednesday, December 5th from 1 to 2 p.m. ET.

The radio show is “Healthy Talk,” with host Mike Smith, MD, a popular guest on Suzanne Somers’ new television show, “The Suzanne Show.”  The show is sponsored by Life Extension.

Listen to Dr. Gina talk about women’s health and hormone balance  LIVE on wwnnradio.com. The program will also be archived at lef.org/healthytalk.


Don’t miss Dr. Gina’s popular live online continuing education (CE) presentation: Offsetting the Primary Risks of Oral Contraceptives and (HRT) Use in Women!

August 6, 2011

Dr. Gina Cushman, owner & founder of HealthBridge Management, LLC to deliver a live online CE presentation on Wednesday, August 10th at 7PM Pacific.

The presentation topic is: “Offsetting the Primary Risks of Oral Contraceptive (and HRT) Use in Women.”

Healthcare practitioners (including Naturopathic Physicians, Medical Doctors, Osteopaths, and Nurses!) receive free Pharmacy credit hours by logging on to PharmCon at http://www.freece.com and registering for Dr. Cushman’s talk.


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