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Preventing Degenerative Disease
Dr. Strands Supplement Recomendations for those with this medical issue:
I add 200-300 mg of grape-seed extract
along with 100-200 mg of CoQ10
to the basic supplement program. Sometimes I need to increase the grape-seed extract
to 400 or even 500 mg daily in order to capture this disease. Once patients are responding favorably, the amount can be decreased to a lower maintenance level.Pharmaceutical Grade Supplements
Pajaro Street Health and Wellness Editor, Deamer Dunn
- My Long History with Fibromyalgia
- My Story and Tips to living the happiest and fullest life possible despite having Fibromyalgia
Dr. Ray Strand on Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
I M JUST SO TIRED-ALL THE TIME. IT IS DIFFICUET FOR ME TO concentrate. I can't remember the last time I felt good. In fact, I'm having a hard time remembering a lot of things. I know something is wrong with me. I don't have any energy, and I seem to catch every bug that comes along. I need help, but I don't know where to start. Maybe it's my thyroid-my family has a history of thyroid problems."
Have you ever uttered these statements? I can't tell you the number of patients who consult my web page seeking help or come into my office with these kinds of complaints. They are frustrated and discouraged with their ongoing condition. In the thirty years I've been in private practice, I'd have to say that these are some of the most common ailments I hear about.
During a consult visit, doctors usually ask, "Do you hurt anywhere? Do you have any other symptoms?" Then we run through a complete review of potential complaints, trying to find out if the patient is suffering from symptoms ranging from headaches to chest discomfort to diarrhea. Often patients answer in the negative to all of the specific questions and sigh, "I am just really tired and have absolutely no energy."
When physicians confront this situation, they usually recommend a complete physical exam with a comprehensive chemistry profile. On the next visit the physician will go over the patient's complaints again and review past, present, and family health histories. He will conduct another physical exam, and after the evaluation is complete the doctor will carefully review the laboratory data. Occasionally he discovers evidence of hypothyroidism, diabetes, anemia, or some other disease process that is causing these symptoms of fatigue. But the overwhelming majority of the time, he finds nothing that sufficiently explains why the patient is feeling so tired and worn out.
At this point most physicians begin questioning the patient about possible signs of increased stress or symptoms of depression. If this line of questioning doesn't reveal any apparent explanation, tension begins to fill the air. The patient starts to realize the doctor is not finding anything wrong. And the doctor may even insinuate that the problem is all in the patient's head. Of course, this is not a verbal exchange, but the unspoken reality is most certainly communicated through abrupt tones and body language. (If you have ever been in a situation like this, you understand fully what I'm talking about.)
What just happened? Physicians want to help their patients, and most often they feel the only way to accomplish this task is by finding a disease process and beginning treatment with a prescription. When they can't find anything wrong or can't write a prescription, doctors become uncomfortable with the mounting pressure to provide an explanation and course of action to make the patient feel better. A doctor may dismiss the visit by standing up and saying, "Well, you are really in excellent health-I can't find anything that would explain your symptoms. Just give it some time and see if you feel better."
If you have experienced something similar, you know you've nothing else to do but turn and leave the doctor's office, frustrated. You're certain you had already given it "plenty of time" before you went to see the doctor in the first place! Beyond doubt, you're not well, and now that the doctor can't find anything wrong, even you begin to wonder if it's truly all psychosomatic.
But the frustration is only beginning. You may determine to follow your physician's advice and give yourself more time while trying to do everything in your power to take better care of yourself. Instead of getting better, though, you either don't improve or even get worse. Where do you go from there? Do you get a second opinion? If you do see another medical doctor, chances are good that he will not find anything wrong either. Anxiety and disappointment with the health-care system begin to peak.
On the one hand you are happy that no one has found anything serious; but on the other, you're angry because no one has answers. In fact you begin to feel like an annoyance and are intimidated about going back. This is when a close friend or family member tells you about an alternative health-care practitioner who was really able to help him with the same problem.
Alternative Health Care
Your journey continues as you turn from the medical community in search of a solution. You decide to seek out a more natural route, alternative health care, because traditional medicine has been no help (to the contrary, it probably made you feel worse!). To your surprise, the alternative health-care provider identifies a problem right away He may claim that you have "systemic yeast," "leaky gut syndrome," or "sub-clinical hypothyroidism" as the cause of your symptoms.
Alternative practitioners typically do a hair or eye analysis, blood work, urine test, or muscle exam to determine exactly what you need. Then they usually recommend certain herbs, bowel cleanses, diet changes, and nutritional supplementation to correct the diagnosed problem.
Relief and hope mounts because someone is finally listening and can actually provide an explanation for the exhaustion, even if the diagnosis is not entirely correct. Even though your health and your sense of well being may improve because of lifestyle changes, you may begin to realize you should be feeling better and are still "not yourself." Here's why. Alternative-care practitioners focus on trying to find out exactly which nutritional deficiencies you may have and then try to correct them. But they are not correcting the underlying problem, which is oxidative stress. Most likely, you vv-ill remain frustrated, having to continue reading and doing anything you can to find help.
Have you ever been "sick and tired of being sick and tired"? Many people with fatigue leave their doctors' offices with a prescription for antidepressants. When the physician is not able to find anything wrong, he assumes that the patient is depressed. But I have learned that when patients do not feel well and do not have the energy to perform their duties, they get discouraged and start second-guessing themselves. They wonder if they will ever have the energy to be high-spirited again. As time wears on, they do get down-they become depressed. But this is truly different from a depression you see in a patient who is emotionally depressed. This is why I label these patients "immunologically depressed."
The increased oxidative stress people experience not only creates fatigue but also depletes the immune system. When patients use nutritional supplements to bring oxidative stress back under control, they not only feel better, but they begin to function normally again, which makes them feel better still. I always enjoy it when my patients tell me during a return visit, "I am not depressed anymore. Can I go off of the antidepressants the other doctor prescribed? They never really helped me anyway."
The very serious illnesses in this book that I have discussed are merely the end result of prolonged exposure to excessive oxidative stress within the body. People do not realize that lasting fatigue is on the same continuum as severe illness. Though many will not develop a serious illness initially, when their bodies are under the attack of prolonged oxidative stress, they will continue to wear down until a serious disease develops.
If I were to do a study of people passing by on the sidewalk to determine how many don't feel up to par (have significant amounts of residual fatigue), my guess is that the numbers would be shocking. Let me tell you what I have learned over the past seven years of practicing nutritional medicine.
You don't just wake up one morning with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. My patients who are coming in not feeling well, complaining of fatigue, frequent infections, poor sleep, anxiety, and depression are also suffering from the beginning stages of degeneration due to increased oxidative stress. I can almost tell by looking at a person's face if he is under excessive oxidative stress. His face is drawn and ash-colored, and he does not look vibrant or healthy. If we don't address the underlying problem effectively, these patients will most likely develop chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or even more serious degenerative diseases.
I no longer send my weary patients out the door with the comment, "I can't find anything wrong with you." I know this causes immunological depression and may lead to more serious conditions. I now encourage people to look at their lifestyles and environments for possible clues of increased stress or toxic exposures. They need to attempt to eliminate causes of increased oxidative stress (see Chapter 3) as much as is humanly possible. It is important for them to think about their lifestyles and their stress levels. Are they being exposed to excessive toxins like secondary cigarette smoke, herbicides, pesticides, and airborne pollutants? I encourage them to get proper rest, start to exercise regularly, and begin to eat a healthy diet. I then start them on a potent antioxidant tablet, mineral tablet, and some grape-seed extract and have them return to see me in the clinic in about four to six weeks.
Unlike alternative practitioners, I look for the root cause of the symptoms. I don't need to do the expensive testing they do (most has been shown to be inaccurate anyway) because I am not trying to correct any one particular nutritional deficiency-but rather the underlying threat of oxidative stress. Instead, I attempt to provide the cell with all of the micronutrients at optimal levels. The cell will decide what it does and does not need.
Consistent with the medical literature, I've found that bringing oxidative stress back under control with cellular nutrition is by far the most effective means of redeeming one's health. With this approach the overwhelming majority of my patients are able to return to a normal life.
Follow-up is also very important. It is simply amazing to see how many patients return feeling almost normal again. Their improvement is often dramatic, obvious in their face and skin tone. And to think for years I used to just send these patients out the door with no hope and no counsel! The right treatment was there all along.
A Story of Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
Judie's experience with fibromyalgia began in November of l99o. She had been a person who was seldom sick, but that year she became very ill with flu-like symptoms that caused her body to ache so severely that she thought at any moment she would have to be rushed to the emergency room. It took almost two weeks before she recovered fully from this virus.
She spent one spring day in l991 outdoors doing yard work. This was not an unusual task for her, but when she awoke the next morning, she felt as if she had moved furniture for three days. She thought she had probably just overdone it the day before. Little did she realize that this was only the beginning.
The next problem she encountered was a sleep disorder. Although she tried ~ number of solutions, such as medication, less coffee, and warm milk, nothing seemed to help. She continued to struggle with erratic sleep patterns for the next four years. She also experienced confusion, memory loss, and visual disturbances. Soon she became aware of joint pain, knots in her shoulders, headaches, and a sore throat-those symptoms were more apparent in the morning hours; but the sore throat and mild headaches were a constant problem. She realized something very serious was affecting the quality of her health.
When she began waking each morning with stiffness, she knew it was time to seek medical help. At this point she was getting only three to four hours of sleep at night, and those few hours were not restful. Her nerves were frayed, and every little noise and action set her off.
The medication I gave her enabled her sleeping pattern to change somewhat, but after using the medication for a year she started to develop side effects. This particular medication made her heart race and caused extreme mood swings and horrible nightmares. She was convinced the medication was doing more harm than good, so she decided to stop taking it.
It was time for Judie to have a checkup with me. She told me later that she dreaded having to tell me she had thrown away the medicine I'd prescribed and had decided to try vitamin therapy instead. I'd always told her that if people ate properly they could get all the nutrients the body needs. To her surprise, I had recently become more open-minded concerning the effects of antioxidants in the healing process. I even placed her on an aggressive nutritional supplement program.
In September of 1995 Judie started this program of nutritional supplements. The effects were amazing! Within three weeks she noticed a significant energy surge. No longer did she have to go to bed at 8:30 P.Ni. in order to make it through the next day. And shortly after feeling more energy, she became aware that the painful knots in her shoulder blades had disappeared. By November the joint and muscle aches started to subside. In December she had minor surgery, and some of the symptoms returned shortly afterward. But she increased her antioxidant intake, and within two weeks the symptoms were no longer a problem.
In March of 1996 she slept her first eight-hour night. She was delighted to notice her sleep pattern was once again one of normal, deep sleep. Her nerves were no longer frayed, and she felt a pervasive sense of wellness returning. Confusion cleared, and her thinking process began to improve. Six years later, she is still doing well.
The Root Cause
Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are both devastating and disabling diseases that the medical community believes to be different expressions of the same disease. Chronic fatigue patients have severe fatigue but more sore throats, swollen glands, and fever; fibromyalgia patients suffer from severe fatigue and total body pain. As I've said, I believe they share a common cause- oxidative stress.
No specific treatment exists for either of these diseases. As a result fibromyalgia used to be called psychosomatic rheumatism. In fact, many physicians still believe this disease is just in the patient's head. To doubt these are frustrating illnesses for both the physician and the patient. Unfortunately, traditional medicine offers only symptomatic medications: non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and sleeping medication. Physicians also refer the patient to a support group and tell them they just need to learn to live with it.
Let's look at these illnesses in more detail and see what better treatments are available.
Nearly 8 million patients in the U.S. alone may be suffering from fibromyalgia-and eight out of nine are women. You may wonder: Does personality play a role in who might be prone to the disease? Perhaps. Statistics seem to indicate these women are perfectionists who are especially sensitive.
These patients are most often living in total pain, are extremely fatigued, and suffer from lack of sleep. They wake up stiff, experience mental confusion, and many have irritable bowel and TMJ syndrome, which is when an individual develops a very painful jaw along with headaches.
Most fibromyalgia patients come into my office toting a stack of medical records from several different doctors, because a diagnosis of fibromyalgia usually takes an average of seven to eight years to get! Talk about frustration! They have been tested from top to bottom with absolutely no abnormal findings. The only way to truly discern whether a patient has fibromyalgia is to do specific tender-point testing of eighteen predetermined areas. If eleven or more of these areas are significantly tender when only mild pressure is applied, the patient is diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
A majority develop fibromyalgia following a serious illness, a major injury (especially of the neck), or a substantially stressful time in their lives. As you have learned, all of these situations greatly increase the amount of free radicals our bodies produce. Once this disease starts, there seems to be no letting up. One may have an occasional good day but have little or no reserve. And after doing too much in any given day, including exercising, one may become too stressed or ill, and severe fatigue will set in for the next two to three weeks.
Treatment: Capturing the Disease
Once I have made the diagnosis of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, I focus on bringing oxidative stress back under control. I can accomplish this best, of course, through cellular nutrition, which I detail in Chapter 17. 1 also strongly encourage a healthy diet as well as a low-impact exercise program. I always caution against exercising two days in a row and recommend combining a mild aerobic exercise program with a light weight-resistance program.
Remember, this is a chronic, lifelong disease, so rebuilding one's health takes time. It is always exciting when a person responds quickly and dramatically, but this is not the typical scenario. I always encourage my patients to commit at least six months to improving their condition. They may not necessarily be where they want to be in that time, but they know that they are on the right track.
Once my patients begin to see improvement, it is like the lights have just been turned on. Typically skeptical at first, they become excited when there is no doubt that their health is improving. I call this "capturing" the disease- they are actually bringing oxidative stress back under control.
The first victory a patient notices is the fact that she is no longer experiencing "mental fog." It becomes easier to think and concentrate on the task at hand. Next, sleep patterns improve. She can actually get a more restful sleep and see a significant increase in energy. The last thing that usually improves is the pain. That is correct: the pain finally begins to subside.
By following this protocol my fibromyalgia patients have had good to excellent results about 70 to 75 percent of the time. Several hundred people suffering from fibromyalgia over the past seven years have improved dramatically following my nutritional program I've detailed specifically on my web page located at www.nutritional.medicine.net.
I believe that when a patient fails to respond well, it is because we cannot bring her oxidative stress under control via oral supplementation alone. This is when I recommend that my patients go to a medical center specializing in IV nutritional supplementation. IV therapy is necessary for them to "capture" their disease and finally begin to improve. Oral therapy then helps manage their condition.
Now keep in mind, these people still have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue. I am not presenting a cure. Instead, I am empowering patients to control their disease rather than having the illness control them. Over the years, I have watched as so many gradually got better, increasing their reserve. It does take time, but their hope and determination are well rewarded.
Mariano introduced himself to me in Philadelphia where I had been speaking. He had driven two hundred miles, hoping for a chance to talk to me. He shared his story with me that day, and it touched my heart.
Mariano had suffered with such severe fibromyalgia that he consumed more than three hundred Advil tablets a month to control the pain. He had to leave his office, where he had a psychiatric practice, by 3:30 each day and was in bed by or before 7:00 RM. because of overwhelming fatigue.
It was at this point he started the nutritional program I have used with all of my fibromyalgia patients. Within a few weeks Mariano began noticing a substantial difference. He became more alert, and his fatigue began to lessen. He was able to work a full day, and he was going to bed later and later. He then began to note improvement in his pain. After a month or so, his pain improved so remarkably he didn't need the Advil at all.
Mariano got his life back. He is again able to maintain a full psychiatric practice and has added four to five hours back to each of his days. It has now been several years since I first met Mariano, and he continues to do well. Since his practice often involves treating the mental problems of patients who are suffering from chronic degenerative diseases, he certainly has a thorough understanding of how these diseases can affect a person's life.
The growing shift to alternative health care should serve as a wake-up call to the medical community. People are becoming more and more frustrated with the health-care system that their medical insurance covers. So they are frequently resorting to self-help methods and alternative care for answers, even though they have to foot the bill. Simply put, people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. In spite of the fact that physicians are prescribing antidepressants at record levels, alternative care is flourishing in the United States and around the world.
Why? Perhaps patients seek alternative care as a result of experiences like the scenario I presented at the beginning of the chapter, but I also believe it has much to do with patients not having the love affair with medication that most physicians believe they do. Patients want options other than taking more medication.
We physicians must realize that we are primarily responsible for the major shift of medical care to alternative health-care providers. We frustrate our patients into making alternative decisions. After all, the overwhelming majority of patients do see their physicians first. Most physicians now appreciate the benefits of a healthy diet and a modest exercise program. But these same physicians do so without fully appreciating or understanding the consequences of oxidative stress. If they did, they would strongly encourage their patients to start taking high-quality potent nutritional supplements-instead of discouraging them. Not only would tremendous improvements occur in their patients' symptoms, doctors would see a significant decline in patients' seeking alternative health care.
"What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You."
Dr. Ray Strand http://www.raystrand.com/bookstore.asp
Additional Information: Mark Hyman MD The UltraMind Solution: Brain Fog - Brain Allergies
Dr. Heather Tick, The RSI Clinic, Toronto, Canada & Southwest Integrative Pain Institute, Tucson, Arizona: http://www.heathertickmd.com/newsletters/2009_05/fibromyalgia-chronic-pain-relief.html
National Fibromyalgia Association - http://www.fmaware.org/site/PageServer