Dear Friends and Patients:
The June 2011 Newsletter is a bit delayed as I have been trying to get accurate, up-to-date information on the Fukushima nuclear reactor situation. As you recall, this disaster started after the earthquakes and tsunami hit Japan in March 2011. One would think that if progress was being made in controlling the massive radiation leaks, we would have heard this good news. Unfortunately, very little news is available and the news that is available indicates the Fukushima reactor number 1 is more radioactive than ever. In May a robot was sent into the building housing reactor number 1 and it detected radiation levels in the air around the reactor equivalent to approximately 40,000 chest x-rays. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says it will not send workers into the area because of the dangerously high radiation levels. We also know steam is rising from underneath the reactor building where an estimated 40,000 tons of highly contaminated radioactive water is collected in what is called a containment vessel. This radioactive water is felt to be the source of the steam, bringing radioactive debris into the atmosphere on a continuous basis. Further adding to the disaster, the storage vessel at the reactor exceeded its capacity in June. TEPCO is trying to control this overflow by bringing massive storage tanks to the facility which hold approximately 100 tons of water each. An estimated 370 of these tanks will be needed.
It is believed that at the Fukushima plant, the nuclear fuel rods have melted down to the bottom of the three reactor’s containment vessels, but allegedly none have gone into “full meltdown” (in which case the fuel rods would have burned through the bottom of the containment vessels). According to a July press release from Tokyo, emphasis is being placed on removing the spent fuel rods from reactors number 3 and 4. It is also being admitted that it will take up to three years to complete the treatment of the highly radioactive water that has accumulated.
So what does this all mean to us living in the USA? Massive amounts of radiation continue to leak into the local environment in Japan, contaminating their food, air and water. We know radiation has been carried into the atmosphere across to the United States and for some reason, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) stopped monitoring the atmospheric radiation levels here in April. The only data I can get on atmospheric radiation levels is out of the University of California at Berkley, where they are still monitoring radiation levels. They are still detecting radioactive Iodine 131 as well as Cesium 137 in the Western United States atmosphere. The good news is there appears to be a decline in the levels detected. However, the spring and summer months in California are usually very dry, with very little rain, so how this may affect radiation levels is uncertain. My previous recommendation of taking supplemental iodine/iodide in small amounts for those patients who are iodine deficient still stands. We do not have enough information to know what the effects of bio-accumulation of radioactive iodine I-131 will be even if the radiation level is very low but the exposure is over months to years. Nutritional (non-radioactive) iodine therapy for most people who are not allergic to iodine is usually benign and affords some protection by filling up the iodine receptor sites in the body. (For full information, refer to my March 2011 Newsletter and following blogs on our www.prevent-doc.com website).
Now to another topic.
In the early 1800s scientists first classified bacteria. In 1928 a major breakthrough occurred that led to the development of penicillin. Scottish physician Sir Alexander Fleming was growing colorful patches of bacteria in covered dishes in St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School laboratory. He noticed that a green mold had gotten into one of the dishes, probably from mold spores traveling through the air. He also noticed in this particular dish that the bacteria closest to the green mold “disappeared.” Fleming and associates identified the mold as Penicillium notatum. Fleming was curious about how the bacteria in this dish were killed. He took the greenish mold and he and his co-worker made a “mold juice” they called “penicillin.” Fleming then gave the “mold juice” to laboratory mice and found that the penicillin killed only the harmful bacteria but not the healthy cells in the mice. This made Fleming’s “mold juice” safer than any known bacteria-killing substance of the time. It was an incredible discovery. Unfortunately, Fleming ran into difficulties turning penicillin into a pure enough drug and also not being able to concentrate it.
The next major breakthrough came in 1939 from Nobel prize winning microbiologist, Selman Waksman. He was analyzing the antibacterial properties of soil organisms and how these organisms kept soil healthy. While he was working at Rutgers University laboratory in Newark, N.J., Waksman coined the term “antibiotic” to describe a substance that would harm bacteria without being toxic to humans.
In 1940 Florey (a professor of pathology originally from Australia) and Chain (a German biochemist) began to experiment with penicillin at Oxford University in England. The duo finally succeeded in purifying penicillin and began testing it on mice. They found little in the way of side-effects and so they started testing it on humans. World War II was in full swing, with wounded soldiers and non-combatants crowding into hospitals, most with infections. Florey and Chain’s team of workers rushed to produce penicillin in large quantities to fight these bacterial infections. By 1942 penicillin was being mass produced by British pharmaceutical companies. Penicillin saved many soldiers lives from infected wounds and also reduced the rate at which people died from pneumonia. The death rate from pneumonia prior to the advent of penicillin therapy was in the 60 to 80 percent range (bacterial pneumonia is often a fatal complication of influenza viral infections, especially in the elderly). Penicillin lowered the death rate to below 5 percent.
Despite its effectiveness, penicillin did not cure every bacterial infection. Researchers later discovered that penicillin worked by disrupting the cell wall of gram-positive bacteria only. Waksman isolated antibacterial agents from a fungus called Streptomycetes but found them to be toxic to human cells. He later found a non-toxic substance derived from the same Streptomycetes mold which he named “streptomycin.” This antibiotic worked against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and this drug became the first effective treatment against tuberculosis.
As time went on, antibiotics were formulated from synthetic or partly synthetic materials. In 1945 Benjamin Dugger and others discovered aureomycin, the first of the class of antibiotics known as tetracyclines. In 1947 John Erlich and Quentin Bartz isolated another soil organism that could be made into a new antibiotic called chloramphenicol, which is still used today against a wide variety of harmful bacteria. This became one of the first bestselling synthetic drugs. Terramycin, erythromycin and bacitracin soon followed; all synthetic antibiotics. Today there are dozens of artificial antibiotics available.
Another source of antibiotic overuse that impacts humans is in the poultry and livestock industries. Antibiotics are routinely used as “preventive medicine” in the factory farming of poultry and livestock. Animals are kept in close quarters, often unsanitary, and this further adds to lower natural resistance to bacteria and viruses. The antibiotics then get into the environment, where they allow resistant bacterial strains to grow or even get onto crops intended for human consumption. There is antibiotic residual left in the meats we all consume, creating problems within our bodies.
When a bacteria is exposed to, but not killed by an antibiotic, the germs can mutate to make themselves immune to antibiotics. This used to be the case for many hospital acquired infections, but we are now seeing resistant strains of bacteria in community acquired infections away from a hospital environment. Sometimes no effective antibiotic is available for an infection and the person dies. In 1996 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that deaths from infectious diseases were on the upswing, rising 58% between 1980 and 1992. The CDC reported that deaths from serious MRSA infections in 2005 were higher than deaths from HIV/Aids. The CDC recommended that antibiotics be used very carefully and according to directions. They also advised health care providers first take a sample of the bacteria (bacterial culture) to both clearly identify the bacteria and run sensitivity testing to determine the appropriate antibiotic to be used.
Without bacteria we would not survive. They help us digest our food, produce vitamins, and occupy niches that would otherwise be available for competing pathogens. This competitive effect becomes apparent when we wipe out a large proportion of our intestinal flora, for instance by an antibiotic that is prescribed to treat a bacterial infection. Diarrhea is frequently the unwanted result, as ‘foreign’ bacteria take their chance to occupy the ‘empty’ niches. Healthy bacteria take over in time, so that in most cases the side effects of antibiotics are soon gone. Bacterial populations grow into a state of equilibrium until some external factor disturbs it again.
For centuries, people have eaten certain food deliberately for the bacteria it contains and have used bacteria in food preparation. The best-known example is the consumption of yogurt and other fermented milk products, which have the combined effect of reducing spoilage, and enhancing tolerance for partially lactose-intolerant individuals. Many cheese varieties are dependent on their characteristic bacterial starter culture. Fermenting bacteria are required to produce sausages and sauerkraut; they even help cacao and coffee beans to attain their desired flavor.
Another source of friendly bacteria is for a person to take a probiotic. There are many good probiotic supplements on the market. One which has been developed and researched in a University setting is Dr. Ohira’s Probiotics 12 Plus Professional Formula, which we carry at the Center. This product carries its own pre-biotic formula of fermented natural (no artificial) fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms. Please read about this product in the “Product Highlight” section of this newsletter.
These findings agreed with previous research that demonstrated the importance of bacteria in the gut in the development of a healthy immune system. Babies delivered via the vaginal canal acquire the mother’s vaginal, intestinal, and other bacteria, which may help protect them and promote a healthy immune system. Babies born via C-section acquire bacteria from the hospital environment that may increase the risk of food allergies and other problems. Studies have shown that administering probiotics to pregnant women and their newborns leads to lower rates of development of allergic diseases (including asthma).
• NSAIDs such as Aleve, Ibuprofen, Naprosyn, and others.
• Antibiotics in the tetracycline family (tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline); fluroquinolones (Levaquin, Cipro); sulfonamides (Septra, Bactrim, all sulfa drugs).
• Statin drugs
• Oral hypoglycemic agents in the sulfonylurea family (glipizide, glyburide).
• Diuretics such as furosemide (Lasix) and HCTZ (hydrochlorothiazide)
• Sunscreens containing PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), cinnamates, benzophenones, salicylates.
• Fragrances including sandalwood, musk, 6-methylcoumarin.
This is not a complete list and you should check with your pharmacist about each medication you are taking for all precautions.
Mrs. S. underwent a comprehensive initial evaluation, including testing for correctable causes of her hypertension. One of the medications she was on, HCTZ (hydrochlorothiazide), was making her very fatigued and causing her to lose both sodium and magnesium. We began tapering the HCTZ from the 50mg per day level she entered my practice on, down to 12.5mg, and finally we were able to discontinue this drug. She felt dramatically better. An herbal anti-hypertensive product was also prescribed. In 2010 she felt shaky, anxious and continued to feel fatigued. She was still taking another anti-hypertensive drug called Zestril that could cause the vague side-effects described, so this drug was discontinued. Over the next year, a number of different medications were used to control her blood pressure and her clinical course was a bit bumpy. It became apparent that stress from caring for a disabled child and her overweight condition were adversely effecting Mrs. S’s blood pressure.
At the time she started the Releana® diet Mrs. S was tipping the scales at 165 pounds. She wanted to get her weight down into the 130s range. She began this diet in March 2011 and by the first month, her weight was down to 153 pounds and she had lost a total of 16+ inches around her waist, thighs and chest. Her energy was wonderful for the first time in years and her general sense of well being had come back. When I saw Mrs. S at her last visit in June 2011, she had achieved her weight loss goal and was down to 136 pounds. She looked and felt terrific. Her systolic blood pressures are labile, depending upon her stress levels, but her diastolic blood pressures have remained in the 70-80 range.
Mr. C came to see me in February 2011 where a comprehensive evaluation showed a normal physical exam, including neurological exam. He also had normal standard lab work, including vitamin B12 and folate levels. Subsequent Spectracell intracellular vitamin testing, however, was abnormal, showing multiple vitamin deficiencies, including vitamin B12. It has been our experience that patients can have “normal” standard lab tests that show reference range amounts of vitamin B12 in the blood, but low amounts when tested at a cellular level as is done with Spectracell testing. This patient was started on both oral vitamin B12/folate/B6 and Methylcobalamine (activated vitamin B12) shots. His Gabapentin medication was tapered and stopped. Within six weeks the patient’s scalp paresthesias were significantly better and on his last visit in July 2011, they were completely gone. He stopped all medication and was sleeping great. His neurologist told him he had a “viral” etiology of his symptoms. My impression was that his symptoms were related to his vitamin B12 deficiency.
Some of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include tingling and numbness (usually of the extremities), stomach upsets, fatigue, mood swings, diarrhea or constipation, and sore tongue. There are some people who either do not absorb vitamin B12, or who do not metabolize vitamin B12 in cyanocobalamin form to the active methycobalamine form. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in alcoholics, patients who have undergone gastric by-pass surgery, people who take antacids or medications that block acid production in the stomach, and vegetarian/vegans who avoid red meat.
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS – Dr. Ohira’s Probiotics 12 Plus Professional Formula is a unique probiotic complex we carry at the Center. Dr. Ohira is a distinguished microbiologist from Japan who after 20 years of research developed this special formula. It is stable at room temperature and does not need to be refrigerated. It has a shelf life of more than 3 years. The encapsulation method also assures that the 12 strains of friendly bacteria are not hostile to each other as occurs when certain strains of Lactobacillus are artificially mixed together. It contains a unique, natural energy-rich prebiotic environment from a culture of 92 types of natural crops, including special mushrooms, organic vegetables and fruits, herbs and seaweed, all contained within the capsule. The Professional Formula, unlike the regular formula, has been fermented for 5 years.
Of note, Dr. Ohira’s team developed a special, transient TH 10 strain of friendly lactic acid bacteria that was successfully isolated from the Malaysian food delicacy – tempeh. This special TH 10 strain has been found during in vitro studies to be effective against the most potent antibiotic resistant MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) super bug as well as the E. coli 0-157 and H. pylori bacteria, the cause of most peptic ulcers.
This product is 100% vegan, all natural, non-diary, non-GMO and guaranteed free of SBOs (soil-based organisms). Dr. Erickson uses this product daily for himself and his family.
STAFF RETREAT AND PLANNING SESSION – The Center will be closed at noon Thursday, August 4th and all day Friday, August 5th. Dr. Erickson has scheduled a staff retreat and planning session. The Center will re-open on Monday, August 8th, at 9 A.M. for normal operations.