Your Brain and the Cost of Modern Medicine

The latest research indicates that dementia is associated with unhealthy gut bacteria levels.*

Antibiotic overuse, antimicrobial soaps, germ paranoia, cholesterol misinformation – all brought to us by well-meaning but overly anxious authorities of the medical establishment. Sage advisors were ignored and poorly thought out recommendations were put in place.

So now, the results are in. We are dealing with several generations  raised on low-fat, fake fat, or no-fat diets. Fats are necessary for healthy brain development and function, proper immune function, and proper hormonal function. Three areas of human health in crisis. **

Drug and pesticide overuse –   in our bodies, in our food supply, and in our environment have led to depleted and damaged levels of good bacteria in our bodies, in our food supply, and in our environment.

The ancients recognized the importance of the gut to brain health and that (healthy) longevity was dependent on that healthy relationship.

At any rate, no worries – that only upsets your gut flora more – just clean up your diets (Mediterranean diet is a good place to start), eat your kraut, play in the dirt, support your organic farmers, and talk to your legislators – change starts with you. Let’s make the next generations healthier than the current ones.


All good medicine,


*More Evidence Links Gut Bacteria to Dementia

HONOLULU —  Depletion of certain gut bacteria, and an elevated level of other bacteria, are associated with an increased risk for dementia, a new study suggests.
“Although our study has numerous limitations, the results suggest that the gut microbiome could be a new target for the management of dementia,” study author Naoki Saji, MD, PhD, Vice Director, Center for Comprehensive Care and Research on Memory Disorders, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Japan, told Medscape Medical News.
Doctors should urge patients to “take care of their gut,” said Saji.
The study was presented here at the International Stroke Conference (ISC) 2019, and published online January 30, 2019 in Scientific Reports.
The gut microbiome refers to microorganisms that live in the digestive tract; there are about a thousand different species of bacteria, comprising trillions of cells. Recent research has correlated certain changes in gut bacteria with inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, and studies have shown that changes in diet can alter gut bacteria.
The gut microbiome has become a hot topic for many experts, including Saji. His research interests include associations between dementia and cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases. He supports the hypothesis that these diseases share common risk factors.
Results of previous research suggest a relationship between the gut microbiome and cardiovascular diseases. “I thought that a relationship between dementia and gut microbiome might be also possible,” said Saji.
The new study included 128 outpatients visiting a memory clinic at their institution; participants had a mean age of 74.2 years and 59% were female.
Researchers collected information on demographics, risk factors, and activities of daily living, and assessed cognitive function using neuropsychological tests and brain MRI scans.
As well, from fecal samples, they determined gut microbiota using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis. This, said Saji, is a well-established and reliable method of classifying gut microbiota.
Investigators divided study participants into demented and nondemented groups. They used multivariable logistic regression models to identify factors independently associated with dementia.
Silent lacunar infarcts and cerebral microbleeds were more frequently seen on MRI scans of patients with dementia, the researchers report.

Decreased Bacteroides

The T-RFLP analysis revealed group differences in components of gut microbiota. For example, levels of Bacteroides (enterotype I), which are organisms that normally live in the intestines and can be beneficial, were decreased in demented compared with nondemented patients.
Other bacteria (enterotype III) were increased in the group with dementia.
Multivariable analyses showed that enterotype I (odds ratio [OR] 0.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.02 – 0.4, P < .001) and enterotype III (OR 12.7, 95% CI 3.3 – 65.8, P < .001) were strongly associated with dementia, independent of traditional dementia biomarkers such as APOE ε4 genetic status; deficits in certain neurochemicals; and high scores on Voxel-Based Specific Regional Analysis System for Alzheimer’s Disease (VSRAD).
Fecal concentrations of ammonia, indole, skatole, and phenol were higher in demented compared with nondemented patients.
These new results indicate that dysregulation of the gut microbiome is independently and strongly associated with dementia, commented Saji.
The study had a number of limitations. One is that the cross-sectional design could not establish a causal relationship between differences in the gut microbiome and dementia. As it had relatively few patients, the study may have been at risk of being underpowered, and the absence of enterotype II among demented patients may have affected the statistical interpretation.
Another possible limitation is selection bias, as the study was performed in a single hospital-based cohort, and possible confounding factors, such as the release of inflammatory biomarkers, and nutritional and dietary parameters, were not assessed.
Despite these drawbacks, Saji noted that the odds ratios in the study were high.
Saji suggested there may be common underlying mechanisms in the effects of gut microbial composition on multi-organ arteriosclerosis.
Analyses of the gut microbiome may not only lead to better ways to manage dementia, but perhaps to a new therapy for the disease.
Saji pointed to a recent report from Kobayashi et al suggesting that Bifidobacterium breve A1 supplementation may improve cognitive function in adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
The 24-week, open-label, single-arm study examined the cognitive effects of the oral supplementation in 27 subjects, 19 of whom completed the study.
To assess cognitive function, the researchers used the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST). They measured mental condition and quality of life for gastrointestinal symptoms using the Profile of Mood States 2nd Edition (POMS2), and the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS).
The study found MMSE scores were significantly increased and GSRS scores significantly improved during the intervention.
Saji pointed to a recent report from Kobayashi et al suggesting that Bifidobacterium breve A1 supplementation may improve cognitive function in adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
The 24-week, open-label, single-arm study examined the cognitive effects of the oral supplementation in 27 subjects, 19 of whom completed the study.
To assess cognitive function, the researchers used the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST). They measured mental condition and quality of life for gastrointestinal symptoms using the Profile of Mood States 2nd Edition (POMS2), and the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS).
The study found MMSE scores were significantly increased and GSRS scores significantly improved during the intervention.

Dietary Role?

Can diet alone boost beneficial gut bacteria enough to affect cognition? Some studies have suggested there may be such an advantage to the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on eating foods like fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, and staying away from unhealthy fats and sugars, said Saji.
Iadecola noted, though, that it may not be this diet per se that affects cognitive function, but its lack of saturated fats.
The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2018) in Chicago last summer featured a number of studies that investigated how the digestive system, including gut and liver functions, may be related to changes in the brain, and to brain disorders such as dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, scientists have reported that some species in the microbiome can promote protein build-up in the brain. This may be significant as accumulation of amyloid and tau proteins are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
And recent reports from experiments in AD mouse models suggest that changing the bacterial profile in the digestive tract, by changing their diet, may reduce amyloid plaques, lower inflammation, and improve memory.
The study was supported by the Research Funding of Longevity Sciences; NARO Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institution project (Advanced integration research for agriculture and interdisciplinary fields); and the Toyoaki Scholarship Foundation. Saji reports grants from NARO Bio-oriented Technology Research 
Advancement Institution project, the BMS/Pfizer Japan Thrombosis Investigator Initiated Research Program, the Toyoaki Scholarship Foundation, the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED). Iadecola has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
International Stroke Conference (ISC) 2019: Poster WP569. Presented February 6, 2019.
Scientific Reports. Published online January 30, 2019.
(Thank you to NutriDyn for this article)

Genes – Destiny – Disease


Lake Superior

People of a certain age will recall that at one time it was thought that one’s genetic code was one’s inalterable destiny. Today, science has proven to us that it is not quite so.. Remember the scientific belief that 98% of  DNA was ‘junk’? (A poor euphemism for “we don’t know what 98% of DNA does”). Turns out, with further study, that the DNA ‘junk’ consists of millions of switches that can determine how, when, and where to turn genes on and off. We actually have profound opportunities to alter our genes.

Environmental influences, such as a person’s diet and exposure to pollutants, can affect which genes get turned on.

Therefore, eat, drink, and be merry! (i.e. eat healthy food, drink healthy liquids, live in a clean environment, and laugh!)

All good medicine,



DNA switches for disease


Cell phones and fertility

If you have the habit of carrying your cell phone in your pants pocket you might wish to reconsider.

Studies show that about 14% of couples in industrialized countries have difficulty in conceiving a child. Male infertility is a contributing cause 40% of the time. Another recent study showed decreased sperm motility and viability associated with exposure to cell phones.*

Our love affair with technology has tended to blind us to potential dangers. The scientific studies suggesting  negative health effects of cell phone use are piling up. Keep your phone off your body and, as suggested in The 12 Elixirs,  take a day off per week from all electronics.


All good medicine,



*Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis☆Jessica A.AdamsaTamara S.GallowayaDebapriyaMondalaSandro C.EstevesbFionaMathewsa

Your Legs – Your Brain

Just in case you needed another reason to start hiking, walking, climbing, dancing, running this year 😉   ….
New research shows that leg exercise is an important mechanism for brain regeneration.
Large leg muscle activity such as climbing stairs and running triggers the production of the stem cells that the brain uses to renew itself.
In mice, immobilization caused a 70% decrease in nerve stem cell activity.
Happy New Year! Dance the night away!
All good  medicine,
2018 May 23;12:336. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00336. eCollection 2018.

Germs and “I” Cloud


In a scene from the current film Embrace of the Serpent an Amazonian shaman blows smoke across the body of a sick woman to heal her. Incense, smoke, and simply the air blown from our lungs have been used in healing for a very long time. Generally ignored by science, these methods  now bear re-examination.

Recent studies* have demonstrated what the ancients knew all along – that

each of us is surrounded by a cloud.

 A cloud that can affect our health. It is, in fact, a cloud of your own unique bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is so unique that your presence in a room can be positively identified even though you may be long gone. Call it your “I” Cloud.

That cloud of microbial essence is determined by how you live – what you think, eat, drink and breathe. It is also affected by others around you – and their clouds of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is certainly possible therefore, that if you change your ‘cloud’ you may be able to change your health. The use of incense, for example frankincense,  is not only  pleasant to smell it is also a powerful antiseptic – a powerful healer. Suddenly the notion of traditional methods of healing that can affect a person’s bacterial cloud no longer appear quite so mysterious.

All good medicine,


*Meadow JF, Altrichter AE, Bateman AC, Stenson J, Brown G, Green JL, Bohannan BJM. (2015) Humans differ in their personal microbial cloud. PeerJ 3:e1258

Health and Light

Light pollution is a threat to human health, the health of ecosystems, and esthetics.  There is a growing body of studies showing that

we are both overexposed to light at night, and underexposed to natural light during the day.

Light exposure affects our moods, hormones, fertility, and immune system. Excessive night light exposure is associated with increased breast cancers.

Earth Hour is March 24, 2018, 8:30-9:30PM local time. Turn off your lights.

The 12 Elixirs – chapter 21 – the fourth elixir: Sleep –

maintain a totally dark bedroom!

Get outdoors during the day!!!

Logo of envhper

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Increase in Artificial Night Sky Brightness in North America


Temporal organization of physiology is critical for human health. In the past, humans experienced predictable periods of daily light and dark driven by the solar day, which allowed for entrainment of intrinsic circadian rhythms to the environmental light–dark cycles. Since the adoption of electric light, however, pervasive exposure to nighttime lighting has blurred the boundaries of day and night, making it more difficult to synchronize biological processes. Many systems are under circadian control, including sleep–wake behavior, hormone secretion, cellular function and gene expression. Circadian disruption by nighttime light perturbs those processes and is associated with increasing incidence of certain cancers, metabolic dysfunction and mood disorders. This review focuses on the role of artificial light at night in mood regulation, including mechanisms through which aberrant light exposure affects the brain. Converging evidence suggests that circadian disruption alters the function of brain regions involved in emotion and mood regulation. This occurs through direct neural input from the clock or indirect effects, including altered neuroplasticity, neurotransmission and clock gene expression. Recently, the aberrant light exposure has been recognized for its health effects. This review summarizes the evidence linking aberrant light exposure to mood.

Transl Psychiatry. 2017 Jan; 7(1): e1017.
Published online 2017 Jan 31. doi:  10.1038/tp.2016.262
Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1998 Jan;48(1):73-9.

Autism and the Mother’s Nutrition

A recent study demonstrated that mothers who took supplements during pregnancy had a lower number of children with autism than mothers who did not take supplements. The study suggests that (!!!) the nutritional state of the mother during pregnancy may have a significant impact on the health of her child.

See chapters 11-14 of The 12 Elixirs for more information on nutrition and the health of our children.

“An international collaboration led by the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Drexel University (Philadelphia, USA) set out to investigate the association between mothers’ use of supplementation during pregnancy and risk of ASD in their offspring who were aged 4 to 15 years.
They analyzed data from the Stockholm Youth Cohort, which included 273,107 mother-child pairs living in Stockholm County (Sweden). Mother’s use of multivitamin, iron, and folic supplementation was reported at the first antenatal visit. Diagnosis of ASD with and without intellectual disability in children was obtained from register data.
The researchers found that the prevalence of offspring ASD with intellectual disability was 0.26% and 0.48% in the maternal multivitamin use group and the non-use group, respectively. This meant that mothers who used multivitamin (with or without additional iron or folic acid, or both) was associated with an average 31% lower risk of ASD in children compared with mothers who did not use supplements. After adjusting for potential confounders and using other analytic methods, similar estimates were found.
However, the association study does not prove that multivitamin use caused lower risk of developing ASD in child. Due to limitations of the data, the study cannot answer how type, timing, and dose of supplement influences the ASD risk. Also, it remains to be determined whether there is a critical window for multivitamin use by mother and whether certain combinations of specific nutrients are responsible for the prevention of ASD.
The study results were published in the journal BMJ (October 2017).
Why is this Clinically Relevant?
  • Maternal nutrition during pregnancy is essential for the wellbeing of offspring. This study indicates it is also associated with lower risk of ASD
  • Clinicians may recommend multivitamin supplement for women who plan to become pregnant or are in early pregnancy
  • It is important to select supplements that are manufactured according to GMP which ensures quality standard


[1] DeVilbiss, E.A., et al., Antenatal nutritional supplementation and autism spectrum disorders in the Stockholm youth cohort: population based cohort study. BMJ, 2017. 359: p. j4273.”
Thank you to Carl  at NutriDyn for this reference.

Alzheimer’s disease & Leafy greens

For those who need more scientific evidence for the importance of eating dark leafy greens click to the link below. Scientists saw a correlation between cognitive health and the intake of dark leafy greens.

“Consumption of approximately 1 serving per day of green leafy vegetables and foods rich in phylloquinone, lutein, nitrate, folate, α-tocopherol, and kaempferol may help to slow cognitive decline with aging.” Neurology. 2017 December 20

Your great great grandmothers were right – “Eat your greens!” Dark leafy greens are Nature’s wonder food – good for just about everything. They are good for your kidneys (that’s important for brain health). They are potent anti-inflammatory agents ( good for your brain and heart). They are an excellent energy source. They are a natural deodorant. They are important for healthy skin and teeth. etc.etc.etc.

There are many cookbooks offering tantalizing recipes for preparing greens. Children raised on natural food LOVE dark leafy greens. Start them right, please! Here’s one easy recipe for kale:

1. Massage (rub with your bare hands) finely chopped kale until softened ~ 1-2minutes

2. Dress with a shaken mixture of vegetable oil ~ 4T, balsamic vinegar ~ 1T,  and     maple syrup ~ 1/2T. It should have a sweet and sour flavor.

3. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve

4. Add raw, chopped bacon, unsalted pistachios or slivered almonds if you wish.

All good medicine,


What’s the best yogurt?

I am often asked by patients: “What’s the best____________?” Whether it is yogurt or vegetables or exercise there is this notion that there is one that is ‘best of all’. There really is no such thing apart from the person doing the questioning. Everything is relative. A more accurate way to phrase the question would be: “What is the best yogurt for me, right now?” i.e. under my particular current circumstances. Different strains of yogurt bacteria have different health effects, and, these effects vary from person to person, and with different health states.

As to yogurt, start with organic, then choose those that are either plain or those not sweetened with white sugar (organic white sugar is still white sugar – not good) then choose full or low fat. As to the brands, go to the link given below for an explanation of what some of the known health effects are of the various bacteria. Use the the chart given to choose the best yogurt for you, for now.

All good medicine,


Preventing Food Allergies

There have been several recent articles in the lay press about eliminating peanut allergies in children using probiotics with peanut protein. This is very good news for many parents.

For those of us in the natural health care field we welcome the studies and look forward to additional refinement of the therapy. The bacteria in our guts are critical for all aspects of our health. This is not new knowledge. It is quite ancient; it was quite forgotten and dismissed for decades; and it is now enjoying the attentions of the monied research community. At last….

More research is needed. For instance, it is not known which contributed more to the elimination of the allergy – the probiotic or the dosing with peanut protein? (They were given together).  Based on observation, one might surmise that the probiotic had at least a large role to play. Afterall, many children who have no peanut allergy are fine with eating peanut butter without early dosing with peanut protein. It would be interesting to see the state of their gut bacteria compared to the gut bacteria of  children who are highly sensitive to peanuts.

Grannies and mothers from our not so distant past always stressed the importance of babies being breastfed, drinking and eating cultured dairy products, and later, cultured vegetable products as a means to have healthy children. These were all sources of good bacteria for the gut. Mothers were also traditionally encouraged to regularly consume foods high in beneficial bacteria during pregnancy as these bacteria are passed on to the child.

Even if all that is done,  gut bacteria can be easily disrupted by the administration of antibiotics to the child. The presence of thrush or a yeast infection is a sign that gut bacteria are not in proper balance. In fact, the ancient healers often are quoted as saying that all disease begins in the gut. This does not mean that illness be left untreated in children. It does mean that researchers should do more to show the effectiveness of non-antibiotic therapies to treat infection in pregnant women and young children.

For 35 years we at Westside have prescribed sipping sauer kraut juice for the treatment of a host of diseases associated with poor gut bacteria balance. Happily, there is  now a company that now sells JARS!!!! of kraut juice. The product is called Gut Shot and we highly recommend it in addition to your other fermented food products.

Food allergies have been increasing and are far too common. Most food allergies are preventable and reversible. Starting with the gut is a good place to start.

All good medicine,



Gut shot kraut juice ( we recommend starting with the Original Caraway or Garlic Dill):

Antibiotic prescription and food allergy in young children:

Administration of a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy:

The role of the gut microbiome in the healthy adult status: