First, Thanks to everyone who took the time to tell Washington you want to see Naturopathic Physicians included in healthcare reform. You voted for a healthier America and now Washington has to listen! I will keep you posted on the progress.
Second, the next local Metabolic Reset date is set for the January 16th! Online people can start anytime. If you are not local to Charleston (or don’t care to be part of an in-person group), consider starting around that time anyway. So many of us will be doing the program together, you will feel like you are part of a group, even if you aren’t here physically. Learn more, www.21DayMetabolicCleanse.com
Hidden Cause of Anxiety: Inner Tension? Read this..
I don’t know if it it the time of year, the holidays or what, but I have had quite a few new patients in for anxiety. Internal anxiety that is constant and nagging and doesn’t seem to have a direct link to our outside situation or lingers for far too long once the outside stress is gone can be overwhelming and frustrating! Enjoying life and having the ability to be present and relaxed, well most people take it for granted. It is a true gift for some people to experience this.
So, why are there some people who struggle with constant anxiety and tension? Anxiety is multi-factorial, but there is a strong (and I mean strong) nutritional component.
This little known, genetic, nutritional disorder can be the turning point for many people suffering with anxiety.
It has been a number of years now since I my journal article was published in Naturopathic Digest News and Review. I am posting the article here for you to read.
Whether pyroluria is an underlying cause of your anxiety or not, I hope the message is clear. Nutrition plays a significant role in your health and well-being.
Pyroluria: A Cause for Anxiety
A notable patient comes through the door that has been anxious most of their lives or suffered frequently from episodes of nervous exhaustion. Their anxiety has become enveloping since a major life transition. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications have not offered lasting relief. They are usually perfectionist and highly creative but carry around a significant degree of inner tension and fear. Since anxiety has become a common condition in our modern world, most clinicians find it a rarity when someone does not check the stress/anxiety box on their intake questionnaire. It is pervasive. As Naturopathic Physicians, we offer anxiety sufferers lasting relief by uncovering the underlying biochemical causes of the distress.
One biochemical cause of anxiety is a controversial and understudied condition which has significant implications in the treatment of anxiety; pyroluria. First discovered in the 1950’s by Dr. Abram Hoffer, pyroluria is a genetic condition of altered hemoglobin breakdown resulting in a depletion of vitamin B 6. Without adequate B6, the body is not able to convert Tryptophan to serotonin. In the absence of adequate serotonin levels, many different psychiatric disorders, like anxiety, develop.
A normal by-product from the breakdown of hemoglobin, kryptopyrroles are found in elevated amounts in people with this genetic abnormality. As the pyroles are being excreted from the body, they bind two important nutrients; Vitamin B6 and Zinc. This relative deficiency results in a myriad of different symptoms that wax and wane over the years depending on someone’s level of stress. Pyroluria is marked by symptoms of inner tension, nervous exhaustion and fearfulness.
Vitamin B6 is necessary for the conversion of tryptophan to the neurotransmitter, serotonin, protein and carbohydrate metabolism and a healthy immune system. Zinc regulates insulin activity, acts as a powerful antioxidant and regulates gene expression.
The combination of depleted B6 and zinc is a disaster for mental health. Both nutrients are essential for healthy brain function. Dr. Joan Larson, founder of Health Recovery center and author of Depression Free Naturally explains the role of B6 and Zinc in the following way. “B6 is the co-enzyme (meaning it is absolutely essential) in over FIFTY enzymatic brain reactions where amino groups are transformed or transferred. B6 has an important role in your nervous system’s balance. It is required to utilize protein for energy. Brain depletion of dopamine and serotonin occur without B6, creating ongoing anxiety and depression. Zinc deficiency also results in multiple disorders. The brain uses at least sixty zinc enzymes so zinc deficiency has a marked effect on mood states. Anxiety and depression have been observed in patients who develop zinc deficiency from intravenous feedings. These patients experienced prompt relief from their acquired depression after zinc was supplied”1
Dr. Larson recommends the use of Bio-Center Lab as the only reliable lab for testing. The test is inexpensive and can be ordered directly by the patient. The lab will assess the level of pyroles found in the urine. Results from 10-20mcg/dl of pyrolures are considered borderline. Above 20mcg/dl is considered positive for pyroluria.
Because of the low-cost and ease of the test, I frequently recommend it when I am working with a patient who complains of anxiety. A positive test insures compliance with the protocol.
Most pyrolurics have gone undiagnosed for many years. Due to the constant anxiety creating surges of cortisol and adrenaline, it is imperative for the clinician to also treat the adrenal glands. An adrenal stress index is warranted for a complete evaluation of a pyroluric patient.
Pyroluria Screening Questionnaire: (sample)
1. Do you tend to skip breakfast or have morning nausea?
2. Do you tend to be anxious?
3. Do you have other members in your immediate or extended family with schizophrenia?
4. Are there members of your immediate or extended family who have committed suicide?
5. Do you have white spots on your nails?
6. Did you get a “stitch” in your side when you ran as a child?
7. Did you have moderate to severe acne as a teenager?
8. Do you have pain or creaking in your knees?
9. Do you have cold hands and feet?
10. Do you have stretch marks as an adolescent or adult even without a large weight gain or loss?
11. Are your teeth or were your teeth before orthodontic treatment crowded with teeth growing over teeth?
12. Did puberty start a little later for you than others?
13. Are you easily tired?
14. Do you tend toward apathy?
15. Do you have a tendency toward iron-deficiency anemia or test borderline?
16. Do you have eczema or psoriasis?
17. Do you have tingling sensations or even tremors in your arms or legs?
18. Do you tend to have paler skin than other family members?
19. Do you tend to get overwhelmed in stressful situations?
20. Do you have trouble remembering your dreams?
21. Are you now or have you been a vegetarian?
22. Are you now or have you before been an alcoholic?
23. Do you find yourself socially withdrawn and dependent fairly strongly on one person?
24. Poor short term memory?
25. Poor ability to cope with stress?
26. Mood swings or temper outbursts?
27. Much higher capability and alertness in the evening compared to mornings?
28. Sensitive to bright light?