Supporting chronic illness through food and lifestyle choices

Supporting chronic illness through food and lifestyle choices

“Chronic disease” refers to a disease state that is ongoing or long term (at least 3 months as defined by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics) and refers to diseases that generally cannot be cured or prevented by medication or vaccine. This predominantly includes conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, asthma, chronic pulmonary disease, depression and chronic pain conditions.

In studies conducted by the Australian Government the main contributing factors to chronic disease are Tobacco and alcohol use, Physical inactivity and Poor nutrition.

All of which are lifestyle related issues that can be turned around with the implementation of behavioural change, good food choices and lifestyle modifications.

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Heavy Metal Toxicity: An Emerging Health Threat

Heavy Metal Toxicity: An Emerging Health Threat

Heavy metals are naturally found in nature, but if they build up too much in our body they can become toxic and inflammatory. Modern industrial practices have increased heavy metals in our environment over the past one hundred years and our exposure has increased exponentially. Health practitioners have started to recognise that heavy metal toxicity is a genuine threat to our health and may also be a common culprit driving chronic health conditions.

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Pyrroluria - What is it and how to treat it

By Quilla Watt, Integrative Naturopath

You may have been recently diagnosed with pyrroluria, or know someone who has. You may have heard that it can be a factor in many mental health issues and you’re trying to find more information. But for many, this may be the very first time you have ever heard of pyrroluria. This condition is not very well known, and not very well understood or accepted by the wider medical community. We see pyrroluria quite often in our clinic, and when treated correctly, we can see profound results.

Pyrroluria is also referred to as pyrrole disorder, kryptopyroluria, kryptopyrole disorder, Mauve disorder or Mauve factor.


What is pyrroluria?

In pyrroluria, the body produces excess amounts of a chemical called HPL (hydroxyhemopyrrolin-2-one), which is excreted in the urine. HPL binds strongly to zinc and vitamin B6, and pulls them out of the body. This causes deficiencies in B6 and zinc. These two nutrients are essential to the normal functioning of many pathways in the body. Zinc is essential to normal immune function, digestion, growth and repair, memory, blood sugar regulation and DNA replication. Zinc and B6 are both needed to produce important brain chemicals like serotonin, melatonin, and GABA, which are important for mood, sleep, and feeling relaxed. They are also important for making cortisol, the hormone that helps you cope with stress.

For some people, pyrroluria is genetic, and may require lifelong management. For others, it can be caused by exposure to environmental toxins or high stress. HPL excretion increases with emotional or physical stress; and with digestive issues like leaky gut. In these cases, we need to address the underlying issues rather than focus all our attention on the pyrroluria.

Many of the symptoms of pyrroluria are actually symptoms of severe zinc and B6 deficiency. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Anxiety, nervousness, and severe inner tension
  • Depression, mood swings, and episodic anger
  • Insomnia
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Poor dream recall (B6 deficiency)
  • Poor stress control
  • Morning nausea
  • Light/sound/odor intolerance
  • White spots on fingernails (zinc deficiency)
  • Hypoglycemia/sugar intolerance
  • Food and environmental allergies
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches (especially migraine headaches)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (zinc deficiency and stress both create leaky gut, which is often associated with higher pyrrole readings)


So how do we test for Pyrroluria?

A urine test can measure the amount of HPL the body is excreting. The collection procedure for the urine has to be very specific. HPL is highly unstable. Exposure to light, temperature changes, or preservatives that might be found in test tubes can mess with results. For accurate results, the urine sample needs to be collected in a dim room, snap frozen and transported to the lab on dry ice. At The Health Lodge we can organise the testing for you.


What about treatment?

Supplementing with zinc and B6 is the cornerstone of pyrroluria treatment. Supplemental zinc and B6 fix the deficiency issues caused by the amounts lost through the urine. Zinc and B6 also reduces the amount of HPL created. For this reason, it is important to not be taking zinc and B6 before testing for pyrroluria, as you may get a false negative result.

Improvement can be seen within a few days to a few weeks of starting treatment. Clinically, we see higher pyrrole readings in patients with more severe symptoms. These patients may require larger doses of B6 and zinc, and may take longer to see improvement.

Treating pyrroluria is not quite as simple as just taking zinc and B6. Detoxification pathways and antioxidant defenses can also be impaired, and part of treatment involves supporting these pathways. It is also important to address stress levels and leaky gut as they are major drivers of high HPL levels.

More recently, it has been suggested that people with pyrroluria may also have lower levels of biotin and omega 6 fatty acids. Biotin deficiency is known to cause neurological disease in animals and humans. Omega 6 fatty acids are important for normal immune function, brain function, growth and repair. Evening primrose oil (EPO) is an excellent source of omega 6 fatty acids that actually has an anti-inflammatory action. What’s more, EPO helps enhance zinc absorption, and decreases the intestinal permeability seen in leaky gut. Some pyrroluria patients may need to take omega-6s in combination with omega-3s.

Frequent supplementation with zinc can throw-out your copper and manganese balance. Serum copper and serum manganese, along with plasma zinc should be tested to assess treatment. Even with regular (and often high dose) zinc supplementation, the aim is to have all levels within normal range.

Clearly, correctly treating pyrroluria is about more than just taking zinc and B6. The information in this article is of a general nature only, and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultations with you health care provider. We advise you to consult a qualified health practitioner before considering commencing any new therapies.


Your integrative team of healthcare specialists

At The Health Lodge, we believe that a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals is essential in addressing all aspects of your health. Your team may include general practitioners, naturopaths, psychologists, and acupuncturists. This comprehensive and holistic approach is designed to support your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.


Some extra stuff…

For some, this next bit may be a bit boring. For others, it may be a bit confusing. Safe to say the really important info has already been covered, but we wanted to take the opportunity to straighten a couple of things out, especially for any health praccies reading this.

  1. We don’t actually know how HPL is made. HPL is commonly thought to be a by-product of haemoglobin synthesis. This was a theory put forward in the 1970s by Carl Pfeiffer. It is true that when the body makes haemoglobin, pyrroles are produced. However, we don’t actually know that this is how HLP is made. Interesting preliminary evidence is now suggesting that gut bacteria may be involved in its production.
  2. It’s not kryptopyrrols. Mauve factor was incorrectly identified as kryptopyrrols in two articles published in1969 and 1970. However, later research shows that kryptopyrrols are not found in human urine, and the mauve factor is actually HPL. Also, the term pyrroles is not specific enough. Pyrroles are a family of chemicals with similar structures, so the term Pyrroluria doesn’t actually mean much. It is specifically HPL that we are interested in when we are talking about Pyrroluria.


For health practitioners after more info, we recommend two articles co-authored by William J. Walsh, an internationally recognized expert on biochemical imbalances and founder of Walsh Research Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to unraveling the biochemistry of mental disorders.

Discerning the Mauve Factor, Pat 1 Woody R. McGinnis, MD, Tapan Audhya, PhD, William J. Walsh, PhD; James A. Jackson, PhD; John McLaren-Howard, DSc, FACN; Allen Lewis, MD; Peter H. Lauda, MD; Douglas M. Bibus, PhD; Frances Jurnak, PhD; Roman Lietha, MD; Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, Mar/Apr 2008, VOL. 14, NO. 2

Discerning the Mauve Factor, Part 2 Woody R. McGinnis, MD, Tapan Audhya, PhD, William J. Walsh, PhD, James A. Jackson, PhD; John McLaren-Howard, DSc, FACN; Allen Lewis, MD; Peter H. Lauda, MD; Douglas M. Bibus, PhD; Frances Jurnak, PhD; Roman Lietha, MD; Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, May/Jun 2008, VOL. 14, NO. 3

Lyme disease - Integrative Treatment Approach Part One

Lyme disease, or Lyme Borreliosis, is caused by a species of bacteria called Borrelia. It is transmitted to humans by ticks. Some ticks carry Borrelia, and when they attach and suck blood, they can regurgitate the bacteria into their host. The most common strain is Borrelia burgdorferi. This is the cause of most cases of Lyme disease in America. In Europe, the main strains are B. garinii and B. afzelii.


What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Borrelia bacteria are slow growing. Symptoms may take days or months to appear. In some cases, the disease may lie dormant for years, and surface after a stressful event such as illness, surgery, or physical or emotional trauma. One of the earliest and most defining signs of Lyme disease is a rash that spreads out from the site of the tick bite. The rash resembles a bulls-eye. At this early stage you may feel like you have the flu- fatigue, fever, headaches, muscle and joint aches and pains, and swollen lymph nodes are common.

The later stages of Lyme disease can take months or years to develop, and can cause problems in the joints, heart, and nervous system, and may affect mood and cognition.


Lyme disease in Australia, why the controversy?

The question of whether Australian ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is controversial. The Australian government denies that Australian ticks carry the Borrelia bacteria, and suggests that people with Lyme disease must have contracted it while overseas. However, switched-on health practitioners are finding that not all patients with Lyme disease have been outside of Australia.

So why is there so much disagreement on Lyme disease in Australia? In 1994 a study by Russell and Doggett set out to answer the question of whether Australian ticks carry Borrelia bacteria. They collected 12 000 common Australian ticks and did not isolate any Borrelia DNA, concluding that Australian ticks do not carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. However, there were a number of issues in this study. Of the 12 000 ticks, only 1038 were actually tested for Borrelia. Russell and Doggett also worked on the assumption that only the burgdorferi strain of Borrelia causes Lyme disease, yet European studies have found that B.garinii and B.afzelii can also cause Borreliosis.

In 1959 Mackerras isolated Borrelia from Australian kangaroos, wallabies and bandicoots. Russell and Doggett did not mention this study in their own work. In 1962 Carley and Pope discovered an Australian strain of Borrelia, called Borrelia Queenslandica. Again, Russell and Doggett made no mention of this in their study. In 1995 Barry, Wills and Hudson isolated and grew Borrelia bacteria from Australian ticks. They also tested people with symptoms of Lyme disease, and 20% were positive for B.garinii, B.afzelii or B.burgdorferi.

Given that three out of four studies isolated Borrelia species from Australian fauna, a review of the government position on Lyme disease in Australia would be wise. We need more research to fully understand Lyme disease in Australia, and more public awareness of Lyme disease, to ensure people receive the correct diagnosis and best treatment.


Why is Lyme disease so difficult to diagnose?

Aside from the clear roadblocks that the controversy of Lyme disease in Australia causes for diagnosis, a number of other issues make diagnosis difficult. Firstly, less than 30% of patients with Lyme disease can recall getting a tick bite. Secondly, the bulls-eye rash that is a defining feature of Lyme disease occurs in less than 30% of cases.

And the list of reasons goes on: Borrelia can live inside cells and inside the central nervous system, and so may not come up in blood tests, especially in chronic cases. The tests currently used are very poor at detecting Borrelia, and results may come back falsely negative. None of the tests, either in Australia or overseas, test for strains of Borrelia specific to Australia, like Borrelia Queenslandica.

Because Lyme is difficult to diagnose, and awareness of Lyme disease in Australia is poor, patients are being misdiagnosed. People with Lyme disease have been misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome.


The complexities of Lyme disease

Lyme disease is not your average bacterial infection. Ticks often carry other organisms, including Babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and Bartonella. These can be transmitted to humans at the same time as the Borrelia bacteria, causing co-infection. It is incredibly important to test and treat these co-infections as well. Animal and human studies show that these co-infections can cause more severe and treatment-resistant Lyme disease.

Borrelia is also capable of creating a biofilm. A biofilm is a slippery, glue-like coating that some bacteria create to act as a protective shield. The plaque on your teeth is a type of biofilm produced by Treponema denticola, which causes gum disease. To create the biofilm, the bacteria clump together and build a complex matrix around themselves. They can do this on a range of surfaces including our soft tissues. Other organisms, including the co-infections common in Lyme disease, can live inside the biofilm. The biofilm protects the bacteria from attacks from the immune system and antibiotics.  The Borrelia biofilm is one of the reasons Lyme disease and its co-infections are so difficult to treat.


Diagnostic considerations for Lyme disease

At The Health Lodge, we understand that the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease is complex. Therefore, we suggest a comprehensive diagnostic work-up to gather information relating to your health, including:

  • Screening for Borrelia
  • Screening for co-infections
  • Testing for nutrient deficiencies. Practitioners have found vitamin B12 and magnesium deficiency are common in patients with Lyme disease
  • We may test levels of stress and thyroid hormones. Thyroid and adrenal function is often impaired in Lyme disease
  • Screening for markers of inflammation, as chronic inflammation is an issue in Lyme disease
  • Assessing the health of your detoxification organs. Lyme disease and its co-infections can release toxins that attack the body, especially the nervous system. It is very important that the liver, kidneys, and digestive system are working well to get rid of these toxins. Unfortunately, in many patients with Lyme disease, these detoxification organs are under-functioning.
  • Heavy metal screening. Heavy metals can be incorporated into the bacterial biofilm, and affect the body’s ability to detoxify.


Treatment considerations for Lyme disease

Treatment of Lyme disease can be a long and difficult journey. Many people with Lyme disease do not get the treatment they need due to misdiagnosis.  Lyme disease is incredibly complex, and best treated by a team of health practitioners. At The Health Lodge, our treatment plan for patients with Lyme disease may include:

  • Supporting detoxification
  • Breaking down the biofilm
  • Treating Borrelia and co-infections
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Supporting affected organs and systems
  • Heavy metal chelation
  • Correcting nutrient imbalances
  • Psychological support


Your integrative team of health care specialists

We believe that a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals is essential in managing all the aspects of Lyme disease. The multidisciplinary team may include general practitioners, psychologists, dietitians or nutritionists, naturopaths, osteopaths, and acupuncturists. This comprehensive and holistic approach is designed to support the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional well being.

For enquiries call The Health Lodge on 02 6685 6445