Tests and Methods for My Natural "Program"


T
he following describes the tests I had which gave me valuable information to help create my "program" - different Drs probably prescribe different tests... It also describes some other methods I used to create my "program".

I got all my blood tests through my Environmental Medicine MD. I went to a local lab to get the blood drawn for all the tests (there were more than 7 vials of blood - I had a lot of different tests!). The local lab sent the blood out to different labs (which are located all over the country) for specific tests.
The different labs/tests were:

  • Immuno Laboratories, Inc. for IgG Food Sensitivity Assay
  • Antibody Assay Laboratories for IgG, IgA and IgM test for Candida (yeast) and IgG and IgA for Gliadin (which is in grains)
  • Spectracel Laboratories, Inc. for FIA Comprehensive Profile and SPECTROX Total Antioxidant Function (the FIA is the test that showed me to be low in B12, a key factor for me - I now have weekly intramuscular B12 injections, which solve my previous fatigue problem).
  • MetaMatrix for Fatty Acids (Many MS patients are low in essential fatty acids).
  • Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory for Detoxification Profile (liver), Intestinal Permeability and Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (the CDSA and the Intestinal Permeability tests didn't require a blood draw)
Food sensitivity: Before I had the IgG food sensitivity blood tests from Immuno Laboratories, Inc., I tried the "pulse test" to identify food sensitivities. You take a baseline pulse reading before a meal and then take your pulse at intervals after your meal (I think it was 15, 30 and 60 minutes). If your pulse goes up more than a certain number of points (I think it was 5) then you're probably sensitive to something you ate. I got the info about the pulse test and food sensitivities/MS from a book "MS: Something can be done and you can do it", which is by (I think) Robert Soll, MD. I got it from our local library. You have to be fairly diligent to narrow down what you're sensitive/"allergic" to using the pulse test, but I found that I had another symptom that made it easier to identify allergens - my feet get cold when I eat something that I'm sensitive to. I understand that's a fairly common reaction. The pulse test can be very accurate, if you're diligent. I've heard that some say it's the most accurate way of determining food sensitivities.

I found that the blood test's results agreed with my pulse test, except that I think I identified more foods with my pulse test because I did my pulse test before I started an all-organic diet. I think I might be sensitive to pesticides, and ingesting fruits/veggies on which pesticides are used raises my pulse and gives me cold feet. It would also give me an upset stomach.

I also tried another approach to find food allergies... My first try was going to a conventional MD allergist to get a conventional (skin scratch) allergy test, which wasn't very helpful... I tested as allergic to almost everything (I had a lot of swelling on my arms where they scratched me and introduced the foods they were testing) and I actually became ill (my husband said I turned GREEN) during the test. I felt that approach wasn't very helpful, so I went on to the other approaches. Also, I should add that I've never been allergic to ANYTHING before in my LIFE, so I found the results of all of these tests to be quite a surprise. Interestingly, after I've modified my diet and avoided many of the foods I'm "allergic" to, my feet (which have been cold most of my life - ask my husband!) are now generally warm, but they turn cold immediately if I eat anything to which I'm sensitive.

Once I identified food allergens, I avoided some of them (and still do - mainly the ones the blood test identified as +3's and some +2's). I avoided the others (+1's) for several months. Then I gradually reintroduced them and have tried to rotate my diet so I'm not eating the same thing every day. I believe that eating anything too often can cause you to become "allergic"/sensitive to it. I could likely reintroduce the +2 and +3 foods and eat them successfully as long as I continued to rotate my diet. My food sensitivity tests showed that I was also sensitive to some MS "bad boys" like wheat and cows milk. Because those things and sugar are typically bad for MS patients, I will likely always avoid them. I've read about the SCD diet (Specific Carbohydrate Diet), and their theory that intestines that are damaged can't digest some complex carbohydrates (like wheat, other grains and milk), which rings true for MS also (although the diet focuses on people with colitis, Crohn's, etc.).

It's also interesting to note that these food sensitivities could have been due to problems in my intestines (such as intestinal permeability a.k.a. "leaky gut"), and healing the intestinal problem might solve the food sensitivities. Initially, I believe that you have to address both problems together, because once you get the food sensitivities, they irritate the intestines and cause more intestinal permeability, which can cause more food sensitivities, etc.

Tests of Digestion: My Dr. highly recommends the CDSA and Intestinal Permeability tests from Great Smokies Laboratories. It turns out that many MS patients have trouble with their intestines (which results in among other things, B12 deficiency - which seems to cause my fatigue - usually when I'm fatigued I need a B12 shot and once I get one I'm fine). From the results of my CDSA and Intestinal Permeability tests I, apparently like many MS patients, have problems with my intestines (intestinal dysbiosis and a permeable intestine). An interesting article about MS and intestinal troubles is at Dr. David Perlmutter's web site at: http://www.brainrecovery.com/msfatigue.htm

The CDSA is described further at:
http://www.gsdl.com/assessments/cdsa/appguide/

An example of the report you get is at:
http://www.gsdl.com/assessments/cdsa/reports/

A FAQ about the test is at:
http://www.gsdl.com/assessments/cdsa/faq/

Intestinal Permeability:
The test I had to determine whether I had a permeable intestine (a.k.a. "leaky gut") was from the GSDL (Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory) and was called the "Intestinal Permeability" test. They talk about it at http://www.gsdl.com/assessments/ip/appguide/

An example of the report you get is at
http://www.gsdl.com/assessments/ip/reports

A FAQ about the test is at:
http://www.gsdl.com/assessments/ip/faq/

The test involves you consuming two kinds of sugars that GSDL provides (lactulose and mannitol). You give a urine sample about 6 hrs after you drink the sugars. It shows the amount of sugars which have passed through to your urine.
Mannitol is readily absorbed and serves as a marker of transcellular uptake. Lactulose is only slightly absorbed and serves as a marker for mucosal integrity. Low levels of mannitol and lactulose indicate malabsorption. Elevated levels of lactulose and mannitol are indicative of general increased permeability and "leaky gut" phenomena (increased pore size in the gut mucosa).

Leo Galland has a good site about the leaky gut syndrome at http://www.healthy.net/library/articles/galland/Leakygut.htm

I also tried a drug, Cromolyn Sodium (which is referenced at the GSDL site)  to desensitize my stomach/intestines and to prevent allergic reactions to food/ the "leaky gut" syndrome. Although it works for others, it didn't work for me. So I have had to avoid some foods and had to build up to eating others.

But, even though the Cromolyn Sodium didn't work, my diet has! I am SO MUCH better than I was when I started this "program". I've gone from barely
being able to walk down the hall (and needing the aide of the wall) to running a mile several times per week and lifting weights. I credit my diet largely with this improvement. I do some additional things - exercise is a biggie (which I had to gradually get in to, because I initially didn't have the strength/stamina to do it). I still have a couple of "residual symptoms", but I'm MUCH improved since I started paying attention to my diet.

Another item that I tried to solve my "leaky gut" problem was to take L-Glutamine (which supposedly rebuilds the intestinal lining). Taking L-Glutamine made my feet cold (a sign of an allergic reaction for me), so I stopped taking it. I'm now exploring Gamma Orzanol as an alternate way of addressing my "leaky gut".

Stomach Acid: Another item which I investigated regarding my digestion is that many MS patients (and those with the kinds of results I had on my intestinal tests) are lacking in hydrochloric acid (stomach acid). There is a test to ascertain your stomach acid levels in which you swallow a capsule attached to a string that you hold, then (after some amount of time) pull out the capsule's contents which are attached to the string, send it to a lab and get a reading of the stomach acid absorbed by the capsule's contents (which I believe is cotton). An alternate way, which I did under an MD's direction, is to take Betaine HCL capsules, starting with (I think) 1 capsule, 1 time/day. You're supposed to gradually increase the number of capsules and frequency and stop as soon as you start getting heartburn and back off until you don't any more. The heartburn means you're exceeding your appropriate level of HCL. I got heartburn after 1 capsule, which meant that my HCL level was adequate before I tried to supplement.


Essential Fatty Acid levels:
I had heard that many MS patients were low in essential fatty acids, so I'd been supplementing them (through evening primrose oil, fish oil and cod liver oil) before I had the test of fatty acids from MetaMatrix. My essential fatty acids were STILL low (even though I'd been supplementing them), but probably not as bad as they would otherwise have been.

Antioxidants/B12:
I had a blood test from Spectracel Laboratories, Inc. for FIA Comprehensive Profile and SPECTROX Total Antioxidant Function. The FIA test showed me to be very low in B12, a key factor for me. Because of the results of this test, I now have weekly intramuscular B12 injections, which solve my previous fatigue problem. The tests from SpectraCell Laboratories is slightly different than most tests for B12 level that are normally done, because they test for lymphocyte levels, which are the most accurate levels for vitamin B12.

The SPECTROX Total Antioxidant Function test from Spectracel Laboratories showed me to be very deficient in a number of antioxidants. I took supplements for a while (L-Glutamine, L-Asparganine, N-Acetyl Cystine, L-Serine) but have since tapered off them. I have not been re-tested, but since I'm doing so much better, I think that my antioxidant levels have likely improved.

Mercury Amalgams: In the last year, I had my mercury amalgams replaced. I'm hoping that removing the amalgams and "detoxing" will provide me with further benefits. Obviously, mercury is a toxic substance that doesn't belong in your body, which is a good reason for removing the amalgams. In addition, I recently read an interesting paper that looks at the issue that mercury such as is in amalgam fillings can interfere with normal metabolism of B12, which can contribute to diseases such as MS. I already know that I have intestinal problems that interfere with my absorption of B12 - perhaps my amalgams also interfered with B12 metabolism and my B12 status will improve.

I've also seen some information about Candida and mercury. From the articles I saw, it sounds as if mercury is related to ALL KINDS of problems that humans can get. Another reason for replacing the amalgams.

When I was considering whether I should have my amalgams replaced, I wandered across a web site that called attention to the fact that when your amalgams are removed, the dentist has to dispose of them as hazardous waste. Also, before it is placed, mercury amalgam must be treated as hazardous material. But somehow, once it is placed in your mouth, it's safe. That seems unlikely.

There are a number of steps that must be considered when replacing mercury amalgams. Also, there are a number of methods you can use to "detox" from mercury. There are several web sites that have information about amalgam removal. The one which I got via the mscured mail list is at: http://home.sol.no/~dusan/dental/index.html

Some interesting facts I found while I was researching amalgam removal:

  • If you are taking B12 when you are exposed to mercury (especially during amalgam removal), you will likely make methyl mercury, which is a dangerous form. Because of this, I didn't have my weekly B12 shot when I was having my amalgams replaced.
  • Vitamin C is a good supplement for detoxifying, however, I read that Vitamin C makes dental anesthetics less effective. Therefore, I didn't take Vitamin C before I had my amalgams replaced.
  • A side note, my Dr. advised me to tell my dentist NOT to use adrenaline in the novocaine (which they usually do use), because it can aggravate MS symptoms. My dentist had no problem with not using the adrenaline - not using it just makes the novocaine not last as long (wear off more quickly).

I understand that there are some tests you can take to determine the amount of mercury you have in your body. One is a hair analysis. For another, they inject you with something that has a chelating-type effect. After a bit, they take a urine sample to see how much mercury you've excreted. I did not have any of these tests. My Dr. also also suggested having a blood test for compatibility of dental materials to be used, but I decided not to do that.

My Dr. suggested I take chlorella to detox from my amalgams. I took it before my amalgam removal and am continuing to take it. My Dr. didn't tell me how long I should take Chlorella. I got the idea that it was intended that I would take it "forever" and especially around the period where I was getting my amalgams replaced. I think it's a good supplement to take and I'll probably continue to take it. I noticed on the label that it has lots of naturally occurring vitamins (including B12). My Dr. recommended Nature's Balance or Beacon Chlorella. I'm taking 3 grams per day, but took a bit more before my amalgam removal (about 4 grams - my Dr. recommended about 6 grams at a time during that period). 6 grams amounts to about 20 capsules. That just seemed like too much to me, so 4 grams was the most I did at a time before amalgam removal. Also, I understand that some people can't tolerate the 3 grams of Chlorella to start with because they have too much mercury in their systems and if too much mercury is mobilized, you can get nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms and headache. I started with about 1 gram per day and worked up so I could have slowed down if I had noticed any symptoms (which I didn't). I was a bit scared of the potential reactions if larger amounts of mercury were "released", that's why I took fewer than 20 capsules at a time.

Updated status: After taking Chlorella supplements (3 grams per day) for a little over a month, I began having irrational fears and difficulty sleeping. I thought it might be due to taking too much Chlorella (and mobilizing too much mercury), so I temporarily stopped taking Chlorella and improved tremendously.  I finally read the paper my Dr. gave me about how to take Chlorella in support (before and after) of amalgam removal. In the instructions, he mentioned that once a month, you should stop taking Chlorella for a week, so you don't mobilize too much mercury (which can make you sick). Since it had been a little over a month since I started Chlorella, and stopping it improved my symptoms, that must have been my problem.

Neural Therapy: My Dr. suggested that a while after I have had my mercury amalgams removed (to give me a chance to "detox"), I may want to try Neural Therapy to help get my right eye to function properly and to help the sensation of dizziness I get when I tilt my head back. Neural Therapy (NT) is a treatment system for chronic pain and illness using injection of local anesthetics into autonomic ganglia, peripheral nerves, scars, glands, and trigger points. It is believed to act through normalizing the function of the nervous system. Click here to go to a web site that discusses neural therapy.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: I'm also considering having Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy after I've "detoxed" from my amalgam removal, to improve the function of my right eye and to reduce the dizziness I get when I change head positions. Patients receiving  hyperbaric oxygen therapy enter a 1-person clear acrylic chamber where they breathe 100% oxygen delivered to the chamber under increased atmospheric pressure. This increases tissue oxygen levels. Increasing tissue oxygen levels produces several important long term therapeutic benefits including enhanced growth of new blood vessels, increased ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria and remove toxins, increase growth of fibroblasts (cells involved in wound healing), and enhanced metabolic activity of previously marginally functioning cells including brain neurons. HBOT for MS is discussed further at http://www.ms-selfhelp.org/. I also found out that you can buy your own hyperbaric chamber, see http://www.oxyrife.com/hyperbaric.htm



* Disclaimer: I am not a medical Dr. or other professional. The above represents my experience and should not be taken as advice, etc. Review any program you desire to pursue with medical Drs.

Sites to check out:

Perlmutter: http://www.brainrecovery.com/msfatigue.htm
Neurologist from Naples, Florida who links intestinal troubles with MS and recommends tests that can show if this is your problem.

Leaky gut (Leo Galland): http://www.healthy.net/library/articles/galland/Leakygut.htm

Great Smokies Diagnositic Laboratory: http://www.gsdl.com/

Immuno Laboratories: http://www.immunolabs.com/

Antibody Assay Laboratories: http://www.antibodyassay.com/

Spectracell Laboratories: http://www.spectracell.com/

Nature's Balance Chlorella: http://www.natures-balance.com/html/chlorella.html

Green Gem Chlorella (good background info): http://www.chlopro.demon.co.uk/autores.htm

Amalgam and B12: http://www.vegan-straight-edge.org.uk/b12.htm

Protocol for replacing amalgam fillings: http://home.sol.no/~dusan/dental/index.html

Neural Therapy:
http://www.medical-library.net/specialties2/framer.html?/specialties2/_neural_therapy.html

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy:
http://www.brainrecovery.com/hyperbaric.htm

Essential Fatty Acid levels (my own page)

Pulse test (my own page)

Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD):
http://www.inform.dk/djembe/scd/default.html
A diet developed by Elaine Gotschall, which she used to cure her daughter of colitis. It is developed with the idea that sometimes the intestines are diseased so that they can't process certain carbohydrates (they can only process "specific carbohydrates") and eating the wrong carbohydrates can worsen your intestinal troubles. Eating the correct carbohydrates can allow the intestines to heal themselves. Since MS seems to be linked to intestinal problems (at least in my case and that of several others), this seems like a reasonable avenue to pursue.




* Disclaimer: I am not a medical Dr. or other medical professional. The above represents my experience and should not be taken as advice, etc. Review any program you desire to pursue with medical Drs.

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