Thursday, September 30, 2010

Traditional Medicine Offers Little Hope For Fibromyalgia Sufferers

Excerpt from Dr. Rodger Murphree’s “Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”
With so many different symptoms, it’s no surprise that fibromyalgia and CFS patients are typically taking 6–12 different prescription drugs. Lyrica, Elavil, Klonopin, Paxil, Effexor, Xanax, Trazadone, Neurontin, Zanaflex, Ambien, Lunesta, Cymbalta,  and Provigil have all been heralded as “the drug” for fibromyalgia. Some of these are helpful, some worthless, and some really dangerous.

Drug management alone typically fails to yield lasting relief from the most common fibromyalgia and CFS symptoms, and patients’ and doctors’ optimism over a new drug treatment eventually gives way to this sad reality. Oh well, a new drug with an even larger marketing budget is on the horizon. (Forgive my cynicism. I’ve just seen this situation so many times!)

Many of the most commonly prescribed drugs for fibromyalgia have side effects that are similar or identical to the symptoms of FMS and CFS. These similarities can cause a lot of confusion when doctors are trying to determine the effectiveness of treatment. Ambien, for instance, can cause flu-like symptoms, achy muscle pain, sore throat, and fatigue. Sounds like CFS, doesn’t it?

Tranquilizers are often prescribed for restless leg syndrome; achy, tight muscles; and sleep problems. But these drugs deplete the sleep hormone melatonin, which then leads to a disruption of a person’s circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). Instead of promoting deep restorative sleep, these drugs prevent it!
It’s important to realize that your drug or drugs may be causing or contributing to some or all of your symptoms. I spend a great deal of time with my new patients reviewing and discussing their current drugs—how they interact with each other, and the potential side effects.

I often find that by asking the right question, I can help the patient realize that her symptoms began or worsened soon after the drug treatment began.
Sometimes, though, I do find drug-induced symptoms that began months after the start of the drug treatment. Drugs deplete essential nutrients that the body needs to properly function, but it can take weeks, months, or even years for the drug to fully deplete the nutrient and for you to see the side effects surface.

Still, not everyone can be drug free, and most of my patients are on at least one prescription medication. But the least offensive drug should be used—sparingly—and only to manage symptoms unresponsive to more natural therapies.

A study conducted by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research demonstrates the need for FMS and CFS treatment beyond drug therapy.

Thirty-nine patients with FMS were interviewed about their symptoms. Twenty-nine were interviewed again 10 years later. Of these 29 (mean age 55 at second interview), all had persistence of the same FMS symptoms. Moderate to severe pain or stiffness was reported in 55% of patients, moderate to a great deal of sleep difficulty was noted in 48%, and moderate to extreme fatigue was noted in 59%. These symptoms showed little change from earlier surveys. The surprising finding was that 79% of the patients were still taking medications to control symptoms. We can conclude that the medications weren’t making a significant impact.

Conventional medical treatments for FMS and CFS is a controversial topic, and I certainly have no desire to offend the many brilliant medical doctors out there. Still, in my experience, most traditional doctors continue to rely on prescription medications to treat fibromyalgia, even though their own studies show them to be ineffective and potentially dangerous.

They still just don’t get it. Those with fibromyalgia and CFS are sick and they want to feel well, not drugged.

Just try to find a doctor who really knows anything about these illnesses. Most don’t. It’s even harder to find one who is having any lasting success treating these illnesses. How many folks with fibromyalgia get well under the care of a traditional rheumatologist?

I speak to fibromyalgia support groups across North America, and I can tell you what the answer is: very few. The three-month wait for a new patient appointment typically ends in a two-hour interview and exam followed by a 10-minute visit to discuss test results, and then several prescription drugs and a follow-up appointment every 3–6 months.

And let’s face it, those with fibromyalgia are medical misfits, they don’t usually respond to medications like other folks. The ACR has, like many physicians, thrown up their hands and admitted they have little if anything to offer for those suffering from fibromyalgia. They focus more on helping their patients “cope.” At least they’re honest about their limitations.

Traditional Doctors Are Often Opposed To Natural Medicine
I find that people in general are usually down on what their not  up on.

Many conventional doctors are quick to ridicule nutritional
therapies, even though these therapies have consistently shown themselves effective in treating fibromyalgia. This prejudice just doesn’t make sense.

The usual accusation is that “there are no controlled studies.…”

But actually, there are numerous studies that validate the use of nutritional supplements to manage and often correct the symptoms of poor health. There are over 1,000 studies demonstrating the positive effects of various supplements and foods in the treatment of hypertension alone. And hundreds of studies demonstrate magnesium’s benefits in treating high blood pressure, angina, heart arrhythmias, chronic pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, mitral valve prolapse, and fatigue.

Dr. Janet Travell, White House physician for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and Professor Emeritus of Internal Medicine at George Washington University, co-wrote Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, which is acknowledged as the authoritative work on muscle pain. In one chapter alone, Dr. Travell references 317 studies showing that problems such as hormonal, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies can contribute to muscle pain and soreness.

And modern medicine itself, despite the millions of dollars spent to promote it’s superiority over other forms of health care, is largely an art—with a lot of unproven science. The Office of Technology Assessment, under the authority of the Library of Congress, published a year-long study entitled “Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technology.”

The study showed that only 10–20 percent of all present-day medical practice have been shown to be beneficial by scientific controlled clinical trials. The study concluded that the vast majority of medical procedures now being utilized routinely by physicians are “unproven.”

Or how about, “Nutritional supplements aren’t regulated and therefore are dangerous.” Too much might make you queasy, but no one dies from taking vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients! The same can’t be said about drug therapy.

The great physician Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “A medicine…is always directly hurtful; it may sometimes be indirectly beneficial. I firmly believe that if most of the pharmacopoeia [prescription drugs] were sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for Mankind and all the worse for the fishes.”
Prescription drug therapy attempts, for the most part, to cover-up symptoms. This approach does little to correct the underlying problem(s).

After seventeen years of specializing in treating and beating fibromyalgia I’ve learned that traditional medicine alone yields little if any long-term results.
The best hope for those with fibromyalgia is to find and work with a doctor who practices integrative medicine-combining judicious use of prescription drugs (short-term if possible) and natural therapies (vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients).
Combining prescription drugs (when needed) with natural supplements allows the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia to be corrected, not just covered-up.

Subscribe to my Health Matters email newsletter-it is free to join and gives you free access to all my past tele-conferences (including those on fibromyalgia, heart disease, depression, hypothyroid, fatigue, and more)..

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reverse Mitral Valve Prolapse with Orthomolecular Medicine

Reverse Mitral Valve Prolapse with Orthomolecular Medicine
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) or "click murmur syndrome" is the most common heart valve abnormality, affecting five to ten percent of the world population. A normal mitral valve consists of two thin leaflets, located between the left atrium and the left ventricle of the heart. Mitral valve leaflets, shaped like parachutes, are attached to the inner wall of the left ventricle by a series of strings called "chordae."

When the ventricles contract, the mitral valve leaflets close snugly and prevent the backflow of blood from the left ventricle into the left atrium. When the ventricles relax, the valves open to allow oxygenated blood from the lungs to fill the left ventricle.
In patients with mitral valve prolapse, the ventricles contract; the redundant leaflets prolapse (flop backwards) into the left atrium, sometimes allowing leakage of blood through the valve opening (mitral regurgitation).

When severe, mitral regurgitation can lead to abnormal heart rhythms. Patients with mitral valve prolapse may have imbalances in their autonomic nervous system, which regulates heart rate and breathing. Such imbalances may cause inadequate blood oxygen delivery to the working muscles during exercise thereby causing fatigue.

Palpitations are sensations of fast or irregular heart beats. In most patients with mitral valve prolapse, palpitations are harmless. In very rare cases, potentially serious heart rhythm abnormalities may underlie palpitations, which require further evaluation and treatment.
Sharp chest pains are reported in some patients with mitral valve prolapse, which can be prolonged.

Conventional Medical Treatment for MVP
Beta-blockers, such as Inderal (propranolol); Lopressor or Toprol (metoprolol); and Tenormin (atenolol) are used for long-term management of mitral valve prolapse (MVP). I'm always amazed at how many of my patients are taking these drugs for MVP, even with their very serious side effects.

These drugs slow the heart rate, which reduces cardiac output and leads to low blood pressure and fatigue. The brain and muscles then aren't getting enough blood and oxygen, and this can lead to fuzzy thinking, poor memory, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
Potential side effects of beta-blockers include congestive heart failure, fatigue, heart block, dizziness, depression, decreased heartbeat and function, cold extremities, paresthesia (a feeling of "pins and needles"), shortness of breath, drowsiness, lethargy, insomnia, headaches, poor memory, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, colitis, wheezing, Raynaud's syndrome (burning, tingling, pain, numbness, or poor circulation in the hands and feet), muscle cramps, muscle fatigue, lowered libido, impotence, raised triglycerides, lowered HDL, raised LDL, and high blood sugar.

Nutritional Therapy for Treating MVP
In my experience, the best way to stop the symptoms associated with heart irregularities, including MVP, is to correct the underlying nutritional deficiencies. 

Magnesium is a natural sedative that relaxes muscles, and the heart is, of course, mostly muscle. The smooth muscle contained in the blood vessel lining is also dependent on magnesium.
Magnesium acts like a beta-blocker (without the side effects) by inhibiting stimulatory hormones including norepinephrine and epinephrine (hormones that increase heart rate).
The more magnesium found within a muscle cell, the more relaxed the muscle becomes. And a relaxed heart is a happy heart.
Several studies show that magnesium reduces the symptoms of MVP, including palpitations, chest pain, and fatigue.

CoQ10 is a valuable nutrient for reversing MVP symptoms. The heart muscles need large amounts of CoQ10 for optimal function. Several studies have demonstrated that it can return heart function to normal.

Fish oil may also help reduce the irregular heartbeats associated with MVP.
Fish oil reduces blood pressure, inflammation, fibrinogen, irregular heart- beats (arrhythmia), atherosclerosis, triglycerides (blood fats), and platelet aggregation (blood clot formation).

I routinely recommend my patients with MVP, high blood pressure; congestive heart disease or other cardiovascular conditions take the Essential Therapeutics Healthy Heart Formula. This formula contains a high dose multivitamin/mineral formula with 500mg of magnesium, 100mg of CoQ10, and 2,000mg of pure fish oil.
I like this convenient to use pack. It combines everything my patients need to help prevent and or reverse MVP and other cardiovascular disorders.

If you’d like to know more about the Healthy Heart Formula please call the office or visit us online-

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reverse Anxiety and Depression With Orthomolecular Medicine

Certain amino acids along with certain B vitamins and minerals produce the neurotransmitters. The amino acid tryptophan turns into serotonin. The amino acid phenylalanine turns into epinephrine. Amino acids are the raw nutrients needed to manufacture the neurotransmitters, which regulate our moods.

Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that help relay electrical messages from one nerve cell to another. Neurotransmitters are produced from the amino acids in the foods we eat. Amino acids join together in different patterns to form a protein. Eating a protein rich food allows us to replenish our ongoing demand for the essential amino acids.

What do neurotransmitters do?
Neurotransmitters help regulate pain, reduce anxiety, and promote happiness, initiate deep sleep, boost energy, and mental clarity.
The neurotransmitters that cause excitatory reactions are known as catecholamines. Catecholamines, epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline) are derived from the amino acid phenylalanine.
Inhibitory or relaxing neurotransmitters include serotonin and gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA). The neurotransmitter serotonin is produced from the amino acid tryptophan. GABA is produced from the amino aid glutamine.

Prescription Anti-Depressants
The most popular antidepressant drugs are known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). SSRI’s including the drugs Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and Zoloft are supposed to help the brain re-uptake the serotonin it produces. It is analogous to using a gasoline additive to help your car get more mileage out of the gasoline in your tank.
Unfortunately, many of the individuals who suffer from mood disorders, don’t have any serotonin in their brains to re-uptake. A gasoline additive poured into an empty gasoline tank doesn’t help much, if at all.

Brain Function Questionnaire
Over the years I’ve used various questionnaires or tests to determine which amino acids needed to be recommended. I’ve been using the questionnaire below and have found it provides a quick and accurate assessment tool to diagnose a person’s brain chemistry.


The “S” Group

If three or more of these descriptions apply to your present feelings, you are probably part of the “S” group:
• It’s hard for you to go to sleep.
• You can’t stay asleep.
• You often find yourself irritable.
• Your emotions often lack rationality.
• You occasionally experience unexplained tears.
• Noise bothers you more than it used to; it seems louder than normal.
• You flare up at others more easily than you used to; you experience unprovoked anger.
• You feel depressed much of the time.
• You find you are more susceptible to pain.
• You prefer to be left alone.
Serotonin is a hypothalamus neurotransmitter necessary for sleep. A lack of serotonin causes difficulty in getting to sleep as well as staying asleep. It is often this lack of sleep that causes the symptoms mentioned above.
Serotonin levels can easily be raised by supplementing with the essential amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP), a form of tryptophan.

The “G” Group
If three or more of these descriptions apply to your present feelings, you are probably part of the “G” group:
• You often feel anxious for no reason.
• You sometimes feel “free-floating” anxiety.
• You frequently feel “edgy,” and it’s difficult to relax.
• You often feel a “knot” in your stomach.
• Falling asleep is sometimes difficult.
• It’s hard to turn your mind off when you want to relax.
• You occasionally experience feelings of panic for no reason.
• You often use alcohol or other sedatives to calm down.
The “G” group symptoms are from the absence of the neurotransmitter gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA is an important neurotransmitter involved in
regulating mood and mental clarity. Tranquilizers (benzodiazepines) used to treat anxiety and panic disorders work by increasing GABA.
I recommend my patients use Essential Therapeutics Gabatol an all-natural brain calming formula that boosts GABA levels.

The “N” Group
If three or more of these descriptions apply to your present feelings, you are probably part of the “N” group:
• You suffer from a lack of energy.
• You often find it difficult to “get going.”
• You suffer from decreased drive.
• You often start projects and then don’t finish them.
• You frequently feel a need to sleep or “hibernate.”
• You feel depressed a good deal of the time.
• You occasionally feel paranoid.
• Your survival seems threatened.
• You are bored a great deal of the time.
The neurotransmitter norepinephrine, when released in the brain, causes feelings of arousal, energy, and drive. On the other hand, a short supply of it will cause feelings of a lack of ambition, drive, and/or energy. A deficiency can even cause depression, paranoia, and feelings of apathy.
The amino acid SAMe can quickly boost norepinephrine levels.