Posted by: Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor | April 16, 2014

How Do You Get Arsenic Out Of Children?

If you’ve been following the Maine news recently, we have a problem. Even low doses of arsenic seem to affect our children, lowering their intelligence.  (Whole study here).

The newest study is just one of a series of reports of problems in Maine.  Back in 2011 I talked about the KJ reporting elevated arsenic levels in well water. (here)

So if you have, like most parents, gotten tested, gotten a filter, and discussed chelation (the removal of heavy metals using chemicals) with your doctor, what now?

Chances are pretty good that unless the arsenic is relatively high your doctor won’t want your child on chelation.  It takes out the bad and the good metals (like iron), so you don’t want a child on that long-term.  And it doesn’t tend to work on low, chronic exposures. An acute poisoning, yes, but not a long-term drip.  The drips get incorporated into bone and other tissue, and won’t be flushed out easily.

One of the least obvious things we don’t often think of doing is going back to school. While the arsenic affected intelligence, parental intelligence accounted for most of the differences between children.  So if you are thinking about a second degree or just taking classes, it has a trickle-down effect.

The second thing we are doing has other health implications, but having a higher body fat means less arsenic is active in the system.  I don’t recommend this, but we are doing it as a population (welder study here).

If you’d like to go a healthier direction, a high fiber diet, and one with flax seeds, decreases arsenic toxicity in the body. (rat study here)

Having enough selenium to maintain glutathione is helpful, because arsenic goes through a variety of changes in the gut and glutathione keeps it at bay. (rat study here).

If all that sounds a little complex, there is a simpler solution.  In countries where there is not chelation or even filtration as an option, arsenic sufferers can use homeopathics.  (here) In terms of toxicity, a good homeopathic prescribed by a doctor means the needs of chronic sufferers.

Posted by: Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor | April 12, 2014

Got RA? Skip The New Med And Try Something Mild.

Anyone who has Rheumatoid Arthritis knows that the choices are ever more interesting suppressing agents, all of them with a host of side effects.  The reality is that for many patients treatment is a merry-go-round of perpetually trying a new medication that works for a short while, and then fails them.

In that journey, perhaps it’s time to consider using something a tad more mild.  Previously I’m pointed to the research linking RA to a range of cancers, and the research linking symptoms to gut bacteria (here).

So it was no surprise to me to see that the addition of a simple probiotic to the diets of patients with RA was an effective inflammatory blocking agent.  Even if you don’t buy that RA might be linked to gut bacteria, a probiotic has a far more mild side-effect picture than the next medication to be tried.  Ask your doctor if it would be ok to try as well. Here’s the study abstract (original here):

Nutrition. 2014 Apr;30(4):430-5. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2013.09.007. Epub 2013 Dec 17.

Probiotic supplementation improves inflammatory status in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Vaghef-Mehrabany E1, Alipour B2, Homayouni-Rad A3, Sharif SK4, Asghari-Jafarabadi M5, Zavvari S6.

Author information



Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease in which the gut microbiota is altered. Probiotics are microorganisms that can normalize gut microbiota; thus, they may help to alleviate RA symptoms. The objective of the present clinical trial was to assess the effects of probiotic supplementation on disease activity and inflammatory cytokines in patients with RA.


Forty-six patients with RA were assigned into two groups in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The patients in the probiotic group received a daily capsule that contained a minimum of 10(8) colony-forming units of Lactobacillus casei 01 for 8 wk. The placebo group took capsules filled with maltodextrin for the same time period. Questionnaires, anthropometric measurements, and fasting blood samples were collected, and the participants were assessed by a rheumatologist at baseline and at the end of the trial.


Disease activity score was significantly decreased by the intervention, and there was a significant difference between the two groups at the end of the study (P < 0.01). Three of the assessed serum proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, and interleukin-12) significantly decreased in the probiotic group (P < 0.05); however, serum levels of interleukin-1 β were not significantly affected by the probiotic (P = 0.22). The serum level of regulatory cytokine (interleukin-10) was increased by the supplementation (P < 0.05). The proportion of interleukin-10 to interleukin-12 was significantly increased in the probiotic group as well.


L. casei 01 supplementation improved the disease activity and inflammatory status of patients with RA. Further studies are warranted to confirm these results, and such confirmation may lead to the introduction of probiotics as adjunctive therapy for this population.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Cytokines, Disease activity, Inflammation, Lactobacillus casei 01, Randomized clinical trial, Rheumatoid arthritis

PMID: 24355439

Posted by: Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor | April 9, 2014

From Couch to 5K, Starting Small, Starting Local

If you’ve never met Cheryl Partridge, she’s a kick in the pants, but in a good way. Cheryl is starting a couch to 5K group with all ages and fitness levels, tonight at the Belgrade Wellness Spa in Belgrade.  I wish her and all her would-be runners the greatest success!

More information should appear below if you are local and would like to join!

Posted by: Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor | April 7, 2014

AMY1 Deficiency, Obesity and the Death Of Carbohydrates?

It’s in our genes!  It’s in our genes!  So says the most recent study of genetics and obesity.  Shortages in AMY1 lead to an eight-fold increase in obesity risk. So if you have low AMY1, it’s just not your fault.

Well, it may not be that simple. According to other studies, different cultures have adapted to a high starch diet vs. a low starch diet.  Notice we’ve changed carbohydrates to starch, which is important because low AMY1 folks can still digest simple sugars like, well, sugar.  The number of AMY1 copies varies across populations, and may well correspond with some of the obesity we’re seeing but nowhere near the whole amount.

We’ve also got to ask some questions about the activation of this particular gene as it relates to saliva and amylase, the enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates. According to one study: “hydration status, psychosocial stress level, and short-term dietary habits” directly affect AMY1 activation and amylase production.

So here’s a different idea: people hork their food. I’ve already written that this could lead to anemia (here).  If you have low AMY1 genetically, you already don’t have enough enzymes to break down your carbohydrates, which then ferment in your gut and lead to increased obesity (on gut bugs and obesity here). If you have enough AMY1, then you get more of a horking pass, and don’t gain weight as easily.

The effect of AMY1 could easily be checked by having low AMY1 individuals fully chew (saturate with amylase) their carbohydrates before swallowing.  The same effect would explain why other cultures are not gaining weight as quickly as the American “I never eat my hot dog in more that two bites” overweight.

It’s enough to make me want to slow down next time I grab some bread.


Posted by: Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor | March 31, 2014

Which Is Better For A UTI (Urinary Infection), An Antibiotic Or a Sugar?

If your doctor came in and handed you a sugar to deal with your UTI, you might look at her a bit cross-eyed.  After all, sugar tends to make bacteria grow, not shrink.

But not all sugars are created equal.  One particular one, D-mannose, can be quite helpful (as opposed to his useless brother, L-mannose-organic chemistry geeks click here for pictures of the two).

What D-mannose has been claimed to do is bind with bacteria trying to set up shop in the urinary canal and move the bacteria on out. But (courtesy of Alan Gaby) I now know there are proteins called Tamm-Horsfall proteins that act in the kidneys like D-mannose and require high mannose concentrations to function.  They also seem to be involved with calcium processing, and low levels of these proteins can increase risks of kidney stones.

So, how well does this D-mannose fellow stack up? In a head-to-head trial of D-mannose versus nitrofurantoin (aka macrobid), the D-mannose patients had fewer recurring UTIs.  Both groups did far better than the control group, and the difference between the two medications wasn’t significant.

What was significant was that the patients the took D-mannose had far fewer side effects.

So, here is an over-the-counter supplement outperforming a prescription medication with fewer side effects.  Unfortunately, I doubt anyone will be switching prescriptions, because D-mannose cannot be patented and won’t be aggressively marketed like its prescription opponent.

Here’s the study link.

Posted by: Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor | March 28, 2014

Are We In The Midst of An Autistic Epidemic?

When the CDC or other agency reports an increase in any disease, they issue public press releases.  Usually they counsel people to get vaccinated or to at least get checked for whatever is increased.

So why would the CDC release a report showing an enormous increase in autism and then say it isn’t increasing? Here’s the AP report: “”We can’t dismiss the numbers. But we can’t interpret it to mean more people are getting the disorder”.

Ummm… ok… if it was the flu, and the incidence of childhood influenza jumped by 200,000 children, the CDC would be screaming and quarantining the airports. But since it’s autism, we just shrug our shoulders and say it could be an artifact of how it was reported?

“Much of the increase is believed to be from a cultural and medical shift, with doctors diagnosing autism more frequently, especially in children with milder problems.” So the doctors are diagnosing it more frequently, and that is why we have so many more cases?

But isn’t that the same situation with any epidemic?  Are the criteria for autism so much different from the criteria for any illness? All illnesses have a certain range of diagnostic interpretation. Are we truthfully saying that the current crop of doctors has reinterpreted the diagnosis of autism fundamentally from, say, ten years ago?

Let’s look at a nice graph of autistic diagnosis, courtesy of the Autism Speaks blog:

Let’s assume all those doctors back in the 1970′s didn’t know anything except how to button their bell bottoms.  And in the 80′s they were too busy with corporate mergers. Even 1995 was just a silly year to graduate from medical school.

But by the turn of the century, surely M.D.s had sort of gotten the picture of what autism looks like.  And after thirty years of exposure, those in 2005 weren’t that ignorant. The only way that we can dismiss the jumps in autism is if we truly believe that doctors ten years ago were not over diagnosing it in milder cases.  But if you’ve been following your autism history, you’ll remember a diagnosis called Asperger Syndrome, which was very popular in the 1980′s and was just officially eliminated as a separate diagnosis.

So those crazy 80′s docs were pretty free with their diagnoses.  By now we’ve gotten more conservative, not less, in diagnosing autism.  And still the numbers keep rising.  Again, if this was an infectious agent, the CDC would be racing around with their hair on fire.  And we don’t know that it isn’t.  So why doesn’t someone take a step back and acknowledge that it is an epidemic so we can move forward together and combat it?

Has someone even really thought about whether males are more susceptible and whether the Y chromosome is involved?  The older reports show: “ASDs affect 1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls.” If it was reversed, we would strongly suspect something to do with female hormones.  Does testosterone factor in? We don’t know, because largely we haven’t acknowledged the problem and put the whole weight of our medical research behind clarifying what is going on.

We have top group like John Hopkins addressing the issue, but they are still busy monitoring rather than acknowledging that we may be in crisis.

us autism prevalence


Posted by: Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor | March 26, 2014

What Supplement Drops Measles Complications By 50%?

In this video, Dr. Skowron talks about how to recognize the measles and how to prevent complications.

If you don’t have three minutes, the secret supplement is vitamin A.  Dr. Skowron doesn’t have time to go into the fact that the best way to get that vitamin A is through food.  Using the synthetic supplement doesn’t do as much for the body, and megadoses of the synthetic have been shown not to be particularly healthy.  The beta-carotenes in orange foods is the best route to get your A, as well as a number of other health benefits.

Posted by: Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor | March 21, 2014

Subacute Scurvy: Sugar Cravings, Addictions, And Leg Pains.

One of the most interesting things about chronic disease is the recognition of “levels of disease.” We used to only diagnose diabetes.  Now we diagnose prediabetes, hypoglycemia, and other sugar imbalances. As we look at disease processes, we’ve moved away from only the most dramatic to the more subtle.  One area that has lagged behind is the diagnosis of chronic low grade scurvy: a shortage of Vitamin C that is essential for a variety of body processes including the production of serotonin. (here)

Scurvy, in its advanced form, causes bleeding of the gums, and a variety of pains as the connective tissue of the body gradually disintegrates in the absence of Vitamin C.  In the subacute situation, an infant may only experience “fussiness” with easy bruising and an unwillingness to move their legs easily. (here) Older patients may present with fatigue and swelling of the feet, or have “nonspecific clinical symptoms“ (here)

The diet of a person developing scurvy may seem to be complete.  They eat “well-cooked foods and small amounts or no vegetables and fruits” and are likely to be misdiagnosed.  The expectation of bleeding gums occurred only in a few (less than 4%), while most experienced limping and tenderness in their lower limbs.(here)

In older patients the onset of symptoms is likely to generate a referral to a Rheumatologist, not a dietitian. A wise rheumatologist described these advanced symptoms: “three patients presented with symptoms including fatigue, purpuric rash, synovitis with effusion, anemia, and markedly elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein levels. One patient presented with severe pulmonary hypertension” (here) In all three cases, symptoms resolved with the addition of Vitamin C.  These were not patients in a developing country, nor were they a special risk group.  It is important to understand that Vitamin C deficiency can occur in “normal populations in affluent countries.”

In mice, one of the most disturbing signs of Vitamin C deficiency is “increased preference for a highly palatable sucrose reward.” (here) Sugar cravings? Not something that would immediately make a person reach for the orange juice.  But symptoms resolved when the mice had sufficient Vitamin C.

When mice were deprived of Vitamin C as infants, they moved more slowly than control mice, but they also exhibited hyperactivity and an extreme response to dopamine (gambling and addictive behaviors of all kinds secrete dopamine). (here) Again, hyperactivity does not have us immediately thinking of Vitamin C deficiency.

What are the side effects of taking Vitamin C?  Besides the “good” side effects like a possible decrease in cancer (mouse study here and here ) When mice, rats, and guinea pigs were fed enormous quantities of Vitamin C over years they did not develop side effects.  Even injecting mice with large quantities of Vitamin C over weeks did not seem to harm them. With the exception of sodium ascorbate, Vitamin C seems to be pretty harmless. (toxicity report here)

If low grade scurvy can occur in the normal population, sensitive groups like autistic children can be more susceptible.  Many autistic children have self-selected restrictive diets, and may develop low-grade deficiencies without the ability to communicate their pains.  (case reports: one, two, and three)

So maybe it is time to add fruits and vegetables back into your diet.  Not simply because they are the best cancer prevention you can do.  They can also help you keep your teeth, avoid bruising, and maybe even avoid internal hemorrhaging.  If that sounds like a stick approach, just eat your carrot, already.

Posted by: Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor | March 18, 2014

Can Horking Your Food Make You Anemic?

The connection might not be obvious to non-medical people.  Most medical personnel know that we need vitamin B12 to make nice, good looking blood. If you don’t get enough B12, your cells get big and heavy. To get enough B12, you need enough of a stomach compound called intrinsic factor.  So the question is really, does horking your food down lead to a deficiency in intrinsic factor?

What is intrinsic factor? It is what allows us to absorb vitamin B12 from our diet.  Without intrinsic factor bringing you vitamin B12, a huge number of things can happen, including dying and going insane. Studies estimate that around 6% of our elderly population is deficient, with about 20% borderline. (study here)

So what do we know about intrinsic factor?

Normally Intrinsic factor is produced in great excess by the stomach, catching all available Vitamin B12. (study here)  The bound intrinsic factor and B12 then travels through the small intestine, where it is absorbed in the farthest part of the small intestine.

If you are following so far, you’ve paid attention in college biology.  But what’s missing from the equation is something produced by the saliva, a protein called haptocorrin.  If haptocorrin from the saliva doesn’t bind with B12 going into the stomach, the B12 can be torn up by the stomach acid before the intrinsic factor ever gets a chance to bind onto it. Haptocorrin is found in human breast milk, another reason that breastfeeding is superior to formula. (study here) Not to worry, those horking in their food will find their salivary glands will increase production of haptocorrin.  Even those with a lack of saliva can make up the deficiency. (study here) So no, horking your food won’t give you anemia, it just isn’t very polite.

Once we make it to the stomach, bad things can go wrong with intrinsic factor.  For example, a small child might develop antibodies to intrinsic factor, leading to “feeding intolerance, poor growth and developmental delay” (study here). More commonly, an adult patient may develop gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach.  Whether from an infection or other causes, the intrinsic factor is not secreted  by an upset stomach and a person becomes deficient.  As people age, they may also get lower in intrinsic factor production.  Since the first signs of low intrinsic factor are fatigue and lack of energy, an older person might not catch it for quite some time.

Supplementation of B12 has been by shots in the past, but recent studies show that, generally, high oral doses are as effective as shots. (study here). Low intrinsic factor is highly associated with things like thyroid disease, leading to partial resolution in some cases until the other cause is found. (study here)

Slow your eating, chew your food, and try to enjoy the fact that intrinsic factor is likely doing all of its complex work without you even being aware of it.

Posted by: Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor | March 15, 2014

Will Finding the Fat Gene Help Us?

In a scientific whodunnit, the scientists now say that gene FTO is no longer the cause of obesity. (here)  In a startling switch, the real culprit is now IRX3.  Coming next week, the culprit will be a small, round-topped gene called C3PO. But you’ll still see villain action figures of IRX3 on the shelves in time for Christmas.

But what does all of this mean to people trying to lose weight?

Beyond knowledge for knowledge’s sake, the point of finding the fat gene is supposed to lead to some advances.  The process should look like this: 1) find fat gene 2) find what turns off fat gene and 3) put a lot of what turns off the fat gene into Haagen-Daz and Ben and Jerry’s or 4) add it to all fast food, and especially chocolate.

What’s missing from the equation is something called histones. If you don’t remember the histones, they did a hit single back in the seventies, called: “I control your DNA.” Imagines histones as the packing clerks for your DNA.  Without the histones, the DNA stays unread. And the histones decide when, where, and what gets read and activated.  (study here) For the science geeks, this is called epigenetic regulation. (study here) For the weighty among us, this is why the perpetual search for a genetic cause of obesity is not likely to result in guilt-free premium ice cream (sob!).

Does this mean that the search  will end?  Do you think that grant dollars will dry up in the search for a cure for obesity? No. But there will be a new group included, hopefully called the histonologists, because that would mean I just coined the word.  According to the Mayo clinic, there are currently no job openings for histonologists, but just wait until next year.

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