Sunday, October 26, 2014

What's a Neurotransmitter Anyway?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

I am sure that you've heard of neurotransmitters but this is a likelihood that this are some missing pieces to understanding these in a simple yet productive manner.

To understand neurotransmitters let's first understand neurons. Neurons are actually the most significant players in the brain and they are cells that utilize electrical charges to transmit information and they are the worker bees of the nervous system. Neurons are composed of the soma, dendrites and an axon. To understand this simply:
  • The soma is the hub of the neuron and this contains the nucleus which is the control center
  • Dendrites are extensions of the neuron that are similar to branches of a tree that receives input from other neurons
  • The axon is the projection that sends signals to other neurons or cells
So in essence every neuron is a one way street with information entering in through the dendrites and exiting through the axons. When you have healthy and active neurons these electrical charges are occurring on a regular basis throughout your life.

Your neurons communicate by discharging a small messenger called a neurotransmitter which in turn is received by another target neuron. A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger that carries, boosts and modulates signals between neurons and other cells in the body. In most cases, a neurotransmitter is released from the axon terminal after an action potential has reached the synapse. The neurotransmitter then crosses the synaptic gap to reach the receptor site of the other cell or neuron. Then, in a process known as reuptake, the neurotransmitter attaches to the receptor site and is reabsorbed by the neuron.

Neurotransmitters play a major role in everyday life and functioning. Scientists do not yet know exactly how many neurotransmitters exist, but more than 100 chemical messengers have been identified.

While there are so many neurotransmitters to concern, here at Depke Wellness be are mainly looking at four neurotransmitters and for a very important reason. These four neurotransmitters are serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine and GABA. The reason we focus on these particular neurotransmitters is due to the fact that when these are balanced it is typically recognized that the other neurotransmitters will balance also. Even a step further, one of my mentors for years, Dr Danial Kalish, shared that if you can balance serotonin and dopamine the rest will fall into line. Dr Kalish is a wealth of knowledge in the area of neurotransmitters and more with his book "The Kalish Method: Healing the Body, Mapping the Mind." Another significant mentor of mine in functional health and specifically brain health is Dr Datis Kharrazian and I will share that his book, "Why Isn't my Brain Working" is my personal encyclopedia for brain health. For anyone that is interested in understanding this area with a very deep level of comprehension, these books will definitely provide this for you.

In studying Dr Kharrazian's work, I recognized the need to look at the four neurotransmitters listed in the paragraph above. Taking this a bit further, let's place these neurotransmitters into some necessary categories as either excitatory or inhibitory type neurotransmitters. Of the four mentioned already dopamine, serotinin and acetylcholine are excitatory and GABA is inhibitory. Let's look at them individually.
  • Serotonin is your happy neurotransmitter that is commonly associated with feeling calm or relaxed even though it is an excitatory neurotransmitter.
  • Dopamine is the pleasure and reward neurotransmitter which is produced on large amounts when you fall in love or first engage in some type of addictive behavior such as smoking, amphetamine use or gambling. This is also an excitatory neurotransmitter.
  • Another excitatory neurotransmitter is acetylcholine, which is your learning and memory neurotransmitter.
  • The inhibibtory neurotransmitter is GABA or gamma-amminobutyric acid, which is known as the anti-anxiety neurotransmitter.
There is also a key note to make and that is that even though an excitatory neurotransmitter such as dopamine is always excitatory and GABA is always inhibitory, they can still have an opposite effect depending on the neuron pathways of which they synapse. In a very basic definition, the synapse is the complete process of communication between neurons.

Let's also look into the comment above a bit deeper. So an excitatory neurotransmitter does not always excite and an inhibitory neurotransmitter does not always does not always inhibit or relax? I know it sounds confusing but this is why neurology and neurotransmitters are not as easy as many would have you believe.

Another key factor in neurotransmitters is tied into what is referred to as the neurons resting potential. When a neuron is at rest, which is not often, it has a resting potential that will basically tell you how much stimulation is needed to make that neuron fire. If a neuron's resting potential is close, very little input is needed to fire but if the potential is far, then a higher input is needed to fire. And in the neuron world, it is all or nothing. If a neuron if far from its threshold it may never get enough stimulation to fire or if your potential is close the neurons fire to easily and are touchy. An example of a far potential is someone that has to turn up the volume on their TV because the neurons responsible for sound are far from the threshold, thus lessening the ability to hear properly . An example of a close potential is tinnitus, you know, that annoying ringing in your ears for many. This is due to a potential that is too close and easily overstimulated. Another example of could be someone that overreacts to certain aromas such as perfume, paint, new carpet, ect.. This close potential can lead to migraines, fatigue and many other symptoms in the body.

The main point to make her is that both the close and far potentials are challenges because they are both symptoms of a degenerating brain.

So what is a person to do if their neurotransmitter function is off? First off we'll look at the common challenges as listed below:
  • Poor blood flow to the brain
  • Poor blood flow leading to poor oxygen and nutrition levels to the brain
  • Poor blood sugar stability
  • Too close or far of potentials
  • Poor adrenal function
  • Chronic high levels of stress
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Food sensitivity 
  • Lack of brain stimulation
Taking care of these areas first is always a key when addressing neurotransmitter imbalances. For those that have followed Depke Wellness for some time, you will recognize that these are all consistent focuses of ours on a regular basis.

I have a special gift for you today also. Below I have a link for the new client forms for the Depke Wellness new clients and one of these forms is a complimentary neurotransmitter assessment. Click on this assessment and complete at your convenience. Pay special attention to sections where you have more than half of your responses as 2's or 3's. If you want our opinion on these assessments feel free to email them to and we will provide our input for you. This is our gift to you!

Hopefully today you have learned a bit about neurotransmitters, neurons and resting potential. Remember to email your neurotransmitter assessment to the Depke Wellness team if you have any questions. I have also attached an invite below to a complimentary workshop for the Orange County Alzheimer's Association. If you are in the SoCal area and are looking for information on Alzheimer's, dementia or brain disorders, this is a must attend event.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave these below and we will respond personally. Thank you!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Protect Yourself from Ebola, Enterovirus and the Flu

Ebola. Enterovirus D68.

You’ve heard about them in the news or in social media. The whole world is talking and worried about the spread of Ebola. In the United States, the outbreak of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is becoming a concern, with several cases confirmed in 46 states. To add to that, the flu season is also looming, with activity expected to start later this month.

The question is, how do we protect ourselves from these viral infections? Besides minimizing contact with someone you may think has a viral infection or washing hands after being out in the public, taking Bamboo Extract can help. My wife and I are currently traveling with multiple airplane trips and we took a dose of Bamboo Extract both pre and post flight. This is not only a precaution for a possible Ebola contamination but any potentially airborne type of pathogen.

For any type of upper respiratory infections, Bamboo Extract is an excellent supplement. It works quickly for chronic and acute respiratory infections, especially in children, young adults and the elderly. Whether you have the flu, a cold or cough, take Bamboo Extract immediately at the first sign or symptom to quickly assist your body in fighting infection. Or better yet, take Bamboo Extract before the flu season starts or if you work in high-risk environments, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, etc.

Bamboo Extract to Help Fight against Viral Respiratory Infections

Bamboo Extract has inhibitory effect against viruses and bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus and more. One of its active components is guaiacul, an important ingredient also found in Tamiflu, a conventional flu medicine. Bamboo Extract is also a rich source of nutrients, including over ten amino acids, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, guaiacol, cresol, phenol, formic acid, acetic acid, benzoic acid and salicylic acid.

In various studies, Bamboo Extract was found to assist the body following actions:

  • Antiviral/Antibacterial effect
  • Increases expectoration
  • Increases cough incubation period and reduces coughing frequency
  • Reduces respiratory inflammation
In the current EV-D68 outbreak across the nation, mostly children are affected, especially children with existing respiratory conditions. Studies show that Bamboo Extract is an excellent supplement for respiratory conditions in children.

Bamboo Extract Recommended for both Children and Adults

One such study evaluated the effect of Bamboo, either in granule or liquid form, on several respiratory conditions in children. A total of 148 children with various infections (colds, tonsil pharyngitis, laryngitis, and herpangina) were enrolled in the study. Bamboo granules were given to 76 children while Bamboo juice was given to 72 children for 7 days. Effectiveness of Bamboo was evaluated according to the elimination of symptoms and infections by 60% to 90%. Expectoration is vital to improving infection of the upper respiratory tract; therefore, the expectorant action of Bamboo was also evaluated.

Results show that Bamboo Extract in either form is effective in eliminating phlegm and improving respiratory infection within 7 days. The following cases illustrate how quickly  and effectively Bamboo Extract works.

Bamboo Extract is not only effective for children but for adults as well.

Try Bamboo Extract now!

Take Bamboo Extract to Protect Yourself Especially when you Travel

The many constituents in bamboo extract are considered to be the main reason for its respiratory benefits. It contains over 10 amino acids, which help break the disulfide bonds in sticky components of bronchial secretion. This reduces the density of phlegm, diluting it in the airway and making it easier to cough out the phlegm. Its anti-inflammatory action also contributes to the relief of respiratory symptoms. Furthermore, one of Bamboo Extract’s chemical constituents which is similar to guaiacul, the main ingredient of Tamiflu, also contributes to its effectiveness. In fact, during the H1N1 flu outbreak in Asia years ago, Bamboo Extract became a very popular supplement to help combat the symptoms.

An in vitro test has demonstrated Bamboo Extract’s potent antibacterial effect, inhibiting 8 different kinds of bacteria, including ones that are associated with respiratory diseases such as pneumonia (Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and the flu (Bacillus influenza).

So now with the enterovirus-D68 going around, with the fear of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States and the upcoming flu season, there is no better time to start taking Bamboo Extract.

For even better results, it can be taken with OxyPower, Reishi Spore Extract and Asparagus Extract. This combination is also excellent to take for Epstein-Barr virus. When travelling by plane, take Bamboo Extract and OxyPower.
To order any of these Chi Enterprise products, visit this link.

...or try Bamboo Extract now!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Depke Wellness take on Breast Cancer

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

Instead of breast cancer awareness month I would love to have a breast cancer prevention month. Thinking about this further, I would actually like to think of breast cancer prevention every month, right?

The challenge with breast cancer awareness is that most, if not all, of the money collected, is going to the development of drugs and not toward the single biggest impact we can actually have on breast cancer, which is prevention. Prevention is the key and the focus of this article.

Let's first look at how conventional medicine defines "survival" of breast cancer, which is living 5 years or more after diagnosis. With this said, if a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 58 and lives to the age of 63, she is considered a survivor. Even if she dies of complications from breast cancer or chemotherapy at the age of 65, she is still a breast cancer survivor. Honestly, the chance of being a "survivor" then are very good, due to the fact that breast cancer is typically diagnosed much earlier these days.

So really, do you just want to "survive?"

I think not, and that is why the issue of  prevention is the key to "thrival" not "survival." Yes this is my made up word, but don't you truly want to thrive rather than survive? Of course!

The good news is that you can!

Here at Depke Wellness, we have seen many clients with breast cancer and continue to today. Our approach is very different though and this starts with the first comment made to these clients. That comment is "we do not assist women in fighting cancer, we assist women in living in harmony with cancer." After all, that's what the rest of us are doing. We are in a constant state of living in harmony with cancer. Even as I sit here writing this article, I have cancer cells in my body. Thankfully I trust that these cells are being dealt with properly via the immune system function and a process referred to as apoptosis.

So what are the keys prevention?
  • Support immune function
  • Balance adrenal function
  • Assess food sensitivities
  • Support the system of apoptosis
  • Reduce or eliminate inflammation
  • Normalize estrogen levels
  • Address the over production of aromatase
  • Release emotional suppression
  • Find "your" space
Let me pick a few of these areas to discuss.

The first is the process of apoptosis. We can refer to apoptosis as cellular suicide. Understand that when a cell becomes "broken" it is actually designed to die. Yes, "broken" cells in your body should commit suicide. The problem though is the for so many women, this process had been significantly reduced or shut off by chronic inflammation. Ulitmately when you are living with chronic inflammation, this creates an immune system dysregulation and this dysregulation can and does turn off apoptosis. 

So what happens when apoptosis is turned off? Simple. One broken cell becomes another broken cell and so on and so on. In the end, this ends up being diagnosed as cancer. So with this said, is the cancer the issue or is the inflammation the issue? Take this one step further, is the inflammation the issue or whatever causes inflammation the issue?

Of course it is the triggers of inflammation that is the deepest issue. Here is a list of the most common triggers for an inflammatory response in the body.
  • Food sensitivity
  • Standard American diet (SAD)
  • Chronic mental/emotional stress
  • Chronic infection
  • Injury
  • Obesity
  • Chemotherapy
  • Addiction
Getting to the core of your inflammatory triggers plays major role in prevention! 

The other area to discuss is the elevated estrogen. While this can be caused by estrogen in our environment and/or food sources, the biggest issue is when overproducing an enzyme referred to as aromatase. Did you know that high levels of aromatase can and will convert testosterone to estrogen? Too high of estrogen is a risk factor for what...breast cancer. So is the high estrogen the cause or the overproduction of armomatase? Take this a step further, recognizing that a diet high in sugar and processed foods raises insulin and leads to an overproduction of aromatase, perhaps the high sugar and processed foods is the issue? You decide...

In our clinic we regularly use a collection of Chinese herbs from Chi Enterprise referred to as
Cherry Angiomas
Myomin. Referring to a study with 60 postmenopausal women with fibroids/cysts, after only 10 days there was almost a 50% reduction of estradiol. Every time a woman's hormonal panel comes back into our office showing elevated estrogen, the use of Myomin assist the body in lowering these dangerous levels very quickly. I would note that completing a comprehensive adrenal panel is always recommended prior to use unless of course high estrogen have already been confirmed by your personal practitioner. One clue you can use to recognize high estrogen is the recognition of cherry angiomas on the trunk of your body along with white spots on your nails. These two together show a strong likelihood of estrogen dominance. Also take a look at your tongue. If there are red dots in the back to middle of your tongue, this could also show a possible hormone
White Spot on Nails
imbalance. Recognizing these signs should lead you to complete a saliva hormone test. From there it is much easier to recommend what would assist your body in finding its hormonal balance.

Thankfully there are ways to address all of this. 
  • Address what's causing your inflammation
  • Reduce or eliminate the inflammation
  • Turn the apoptosis back on
  • Address your dietary intake
  • Use an aromatase inhibitor 
Now if you find yourself already diagnosed with breast cancer, don't simply fall into the fear and doom and I get it, easier said than done sometimes. We have seen many women walk away from breast cancer and living happy health lives based on finding their own personal balance and as mentioned earlier, learning to live in harmony with cancer as do most of us. This is a tough concept for many but very true. 

Finding your balance includes everything mentioned above and more but it is absolutely achievable. One addition that is made for women already diagnosed is Angiostop. Recognize that cancer requires a high energy intake and a significant blood flow. The Angiostop as a strong effect on inhibiting new blood vessel formation, thus cutting off nutrient and blood supply to a tumor. This also inhibits fibroblast, platelet-derived and epidermal for broad spectrum inhibitory effects. With the use of thermography, I have seen the results of angiogenesis that are remarkable with the Angiostop. Angiostop does not directly cure cancer but it does help cut off its life support.

I also wanted to briefly discuss thermography. Medical or Clinical Thermography is a completely SAFE, no radiation, no contact, no compression body scanning procedure that is approved by the FDA, and many other leading health care Councils, Associations and Academy’s.

Clinical Thermal Imaging is the same (DITI) technology used by the military, building engineers to detect leaks and weather forecasting. It’s a very reliable tool. It records what it sees, in “real time.” It does not specifically diagnose any disease but does identify the symptom, a physiological response of your body’s own defense to protect itself.

This imaging technique provides valuable information about your current health. The DITI (Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging) camera scans the thermal patterns of your skin’s heat patterns and converts them into an image. Color spectrums and grayscale pallets are used to identify the range from heat to cold, light to dark which reflects each person’s unique thermal blue print.

Our bodies are designed symmetrically, so by comparing and measuring the thermal patterns, it can identify signs of potential disease, especially inflammation, nerve damage and even pain. This test can provide multiple clues to the health conditions currently within your body. It can detect early on, the precursors to many types of cancers, years before the cancer reaches a stage that becomes more serious to treat.

Clinical Thermography is an invaluable tool to help identify and track physiological changes as you begin to work on improving your health or are challenged with a condition you want to focus on and optimally manage.   

So in the end, let's remember that there truly is not a lack of awareness on breast cancer but there is a significant lack of awareness on prevention and also holisitic protocols that can be effectively utilized. Also understand that you can easily integrate your conventional care with holistic care when dealing with breast cancer. This is not an us and them scenario. 

After all, it's all about your personal health and happiness, isn't it?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What does a gut/brain issue look like?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

Most individuals that have a gut/brain connection issue would not recognize the symptoms that tie into this disruptive imbalance. Typical symptoms of a gut/brain connection imbalance are listed below.
  • Difficulty digesting your food
  • Constipation or irregular bowel movements
  • Increased bloating or gas
  • Distended stomach after eating
  • Challenges breaking down protein, fat or starches
  • Stomach discomfort after eating meals
To understand this connection, let's first look at a simple fact. 90% of your brain function is based on automatic function, while 10% is based on your motor system in which you have voluntary control. The 90% autonomic function does not involve any voluntary control. This 90% autonomic function travels from the brain, to the brainstem and eventually to the vagus nerve. This vagus nerve, which can be defined as the "wandering nerve" communicates with the enteric nervous system of your digestive system.

If the output through this pathway is insufficient this can lead to a host of digestive and other issues. This can include but not limited to:
  • Poor motility or movement of your food through the digestive system
  • Constipation
  • Lose of bowel or bladder control
  • Low stomach acid
  • Poor pancreatic enzyme production
  • Insufficient release of bile from the gall bladder to break down fat
  • Leaky gut
  • Chronic yeast issues
  • Chronic pathogen infections
  • Inflamed gut
  • Food sensitivities
  • Insufficient blood flow to the intestines, hindering function and regeneration
While all that is mentioned above is an issue in itself, leaky gut can lead to many other challenges. First let's define leaky gut as the development of intestinal permeability. When healthy, the lining of your small intestines form a barrier know as "tight junctions" which form an impermeable barrier to protect your blood stream from the contents of your gut. These tight junctions should allow low molecular weight particles into your blood, such as properly digested macro-nutrients, micro-nutrients, enzymes, co-enzymes and such. When this barrier is "leaky" this will allow larger molecules into your blood stream such as poorly digested proteins, bacteria, fungus and other pathogens. This will eventually lead to malabsorption, inflammation, brain challenges and chronic disease states.

Poor brain health, brain trauma or brain degeneration often plays a role in the development in leaky gut. Leaky gut creates inflammation, which in turn leads to further progression and worsening of leaky gut. This is a viscous cycle that so many enter and seemingly cannot escape.

This is one of the reasons that I offer "The PAIN of Inflammation" program to my clients and followers of Depke Wellness.

Also understand that leaky gut can also lead to an autoimmune condition that attacks the brain. This is because the chronic inflammation excites the immune system into a constant state of high alert. This often leaves our immune system confused in recognizing actually intruders and our own bodies tissue. This can actually leave the brain and many other areas of the body open to this constant attack.

While we can see here that poor function of this pathway from the brain, brain stem, vagus nerve into the enteric system can have a major impact on your gut health, it is also essential to recognize that this is a two way street. Poor gut health has been shown to also lead to recognized brain issues such as depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, brain fog and memory loss, just to name a few.

Many that are reading this today, will likely recognize that a gut/brain connection issue is likely a problem. Let's take some simple steps to reestablish your vagus nerve activity to assist this connection. Just like you muscles, your neurons need constant stimulation for optimal health. Without activity they will simply lose function. Remember, we mentioned earlier that 90% of your brain's output goes through the brainstem, into the vagus nerve and eventually into the nervous system within the gut.

Here are some simple exercises that you can use to stimulate the function of your vagus nerve.
  • Gargle with water several times per day. This will activate the muscles in the back of the throat, activating the vagus nerve and stimulate your gut. Three times per day, drink a glass of water, while gargling each sip long enough for this to seem to be a challenge. The longer you gargle, the better the stimulation.
  • Singing loudly can also stimulate the vagus nerve, so when you are driving in your car or taking your shower, let it rip. Sing out your favorite songs and enjoy improved gut/brain health.
  • You can also stimulate your gag reflex by using tongue blades. Simply place the tongue blade on the back of your tongue and push down to activate this reflex. The gag reflex is like push-ups for your vagus nerve. Just like push-ups to build your chest and triceps, you have to create some consistency here to make a difference, so do this several times per week.
To get deeper into the inflammatory response of the gut/brain connection challenges, I will be reviewing "The PAIN of Inflammation" program for you shortly. This will involve addressing the underlying causes of infection as well as the feedback loops that continue to cycle inflammation as shared with leaky gut in this article above.

In the end, recognize that your gut and brain functions as one system and not two different systems. Focusing your attention this gut/brain system can change your life!

If you have any questions or comments on this article, feel free to post below for us to respond personally.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gluten and Your Brain

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturapth

Gluten sensitivity is most often thought of as a gut problem but for those that are gluten sensitive this is an even bigger brain and autonomic nervous system issue. As we learn more and more about gluten sensitivity it is becoming apparent that gluten destroys brain and nervous system tissue more than any other tissue in the body and this even includes the tissue in your gut. So if you feel as if your brain is not functioning at a high level recognize that a sensitivity to gluten can be causing an immune assault on your brain which will lead to brain inflammation and increase the risk for an autoimmune attack on your brain tissue.

So if any of these factors resonate with you as listed below, be sure to read through this entire article. I'll also add that approximately 86% of those with a gluten sensitivity are actually asymptomatic, so you may want to learn more about this regardless. Toward the end of this article I have also provided you with a link to a complimentary gluten assessment.
  • Does consuming grains make you tired
  • Does consuming grains make it difficult to focus and concentrate
  • Does consuming grains make you bloated
  • Do you feel better when you avoid bread and grains
  • Do you react to grain products

Before we go further let's take a quick look at gluten. Often clients will ask me, "what's the big deal with gluten all of a sudden?" While gluten has been a slight issue for thousands of years, the problem has grown tremendously in our more recent history. Recognize that gluten is not what it used to be. While gluten would not be considered "genetically modified" it has definitely been altered based on the fact that this is not hybridized and deamidated. When a food is genetically modified genes are either inserted or deleted but during hybridization an new protein is created by combining different strains of wheat. This can actually alter the protein sequence by as much as five percent which will create a  very different product than the original source The process of hybridization has created a "new wheat" which has been shown to trigger immune reactions which specifically affect the brain and nervous system.

Deamidation is the other issue to address. This practice is used extensively in the food processing industry and yet another way in which gluten has become a further immune reactive food source. Deamidation uses acids or enzymes to make gluten water soluble when it is normally only soluble in alcohol. The reasoning behind this process is to make gluten easier to mix with other foods. While this will of course make wheat easier to use this has also shown to create a severe immune response in people.

While some may look at hybridization and deamidation as progress, this is actually a significant digression for people and a definite challenge for brain function.

While this information has been know for some time, I would share that the average neurologist has no idea that gluten sensitivity can create a neurological disease state. Scary but true!

Let's look a bit further into why gluten is so harmful to the brain and nervous system. Studies have found that gluten sensitivity is associated with disorders in every major part of your nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and the nerves that extend into the arms and feet. Gluten sensitivity has been shown to be at the core these neurological disorders below.
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Movement disorders
  • Sensory ganglionapathy
  • Ataxia
  • Neuroolgical impairment
  • Neuromyelitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Myoclonus
  • Apraxia
  • Myopathy
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Multiple systems atrophy
  • Cerebellar disease
  • Migraines
  • Hearing loss
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Disorders in virtually every part of the nervous system
There are three main mechanisms that are creating these issue between gluten and your brain/nervous system.
  1. The first is tied into a cross reactivity where your immune system can mistaken one protein for another. The protein structure of gluten is similar to the protein structures of your nervous system so when your body is gluten sensitive and is producing antibodies to tag gluten for destruction, your body may "accidentally" produce antibodies to the nervous system tissue every time you eat gluten. If this is the case, you may be creating an autoimmune attack against your brain and nervous system.
  2. Another significant mechanism is the immune response against transglutaminase which are enzymes that help bind proteins together in the process of digesting wheat. Gluten can trigger reactivity to different forms of transglutaminase thus leading to autoimmune responses in the brain as well as other areas of the body.
  3. The other mechanism is tied into the fact that gluten can break down your blood/brain barrier. The this lining  protects the brain from exposure to pathogens and toxins in your body. Without this protection we increase the risk of autoimmune reactions in the brain and nervous system.
So please understand that there is no single dietary protein that poses a greater risk to your brain than wheat gluten and/or gluten in general. If you do have a gluten sensitivity or a full blown autoimmune reaction to gluten referred to as Celiac disease it is essential that gluten is eliminated for you diet completely. I know this may sound a bit harsh, but isn't your health and happiness worth it?

For those the question if gluten is an issue personally, feel free to visit this link to take a complimentary gluten sensitivity assessment. If you find yourself to be somewhat likely or very likely to be sensitive to gluten, I would suggest giving up this dangerous food source.

If you would rather test this to be sure, there is only one test that I would recommend which is an Array #3 from Cyrex Labs. This is the most comprehensive testing for gluten sensitivity available today. Do not trust saliva testing for gluten or even blood testing for Celiac disease because neither of these look at the whole picture and one of the worst scenarios is to receive a false negative for gluten sensitivity. As an example I had one client use the Array #3 and while 23 of the 24 different components of gluten actually tested out negative, the 1 out of 24 actually showed an extreme reaction. This reaction was so strong that this had already shown to create brain autoimmunity. This definitely is not something that you want to miss.

If you have any questions or comments in regard to this article, please post this below for us to respond to personally. If you would like to complete the Array #3 to test for gluten sensitivity, feel free to call Depke Wellness at (949)954-6226.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Who has a brain disorder?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

Brain disorders are definitely on the rise. It is now recognized that 1 in 8 senior citizens will develop Alzheimer's but this is not just and aging issue because 1 in 8 children are also diagnosed with brain development disorders such as autism, ADD and ADHD. Estimates share that people living with incidents of dementia have been estimated to be as high as 24 million people with the number predicted to double every 20 years until at least 2040.

Add to this that anxiety disorders, obsessive/compulsive disorders, learning disabilities and depression are extremely common these days. On top of this, sleep disorders, poor mental clarity mild depression and moodiness are actually very common.

With all this said, it is no surprise the antidepressants are the most prescribed drugs in the United States. Brain disorders have now become what we would consider commonplace.

Since I witnessed both my mother and grandmother deteriorate with severe dementia before their deaths, I can share that you want to do everything you can to prevent this and other brain disorders.

Over the next few newsletters, we are going to discuss some of the common factors leading to brain disorders. Pay close attention to those areas where you think, "that sounds like me."

Did you know that the extreme mood swings associated with premenstrual syndrome, perimenopause and menopause are most often hormone driven brain imbalances and brain inflammation? Unfortunately in our culture most women are taught that this is actually normal, when it is anything but normal.

OK guys, before you start thinking "whew, I don't have to worry about that" your not out of the woods. This is the same for men as they drop into andropause, also referred to as male menopause. When a man's hormone function is in disarray this can lead a lack of motivation, weight gain, the typically "grumpy old man" syndrome or what has been come to be known as the "mid-life crisis."

Both menopause and andropause create and environment for early brain degeneration that is most often preceeded by a poor functioning brain. And round and round we go...

Another hormonal area to understand in regard to brain function is the thyroid. Did you know that an estimated 27 million Americans are living with thyroid dysfunction and that this can profoundly impact brain health? This combination can lead to brain fog, depression, anxiety and other brain based challenges. This can often accelerate brain degeneration and even coexist with brain autoimmunity.

With this understanding of hormone driven brain chemistry imbalances, it is always important to get to the bottom of the hormone imbalances. Most hormone imbalances originate as adrenal insufficiency.

Over my career we have reviewed approximately 4,500 adrenal test kits and have only seen 5 come back normal. Yes, ONLY 5!

In fairness, at Depke Wellness, we work with health challenged individuals but this tells us that if you have a health issue, there is only about 1/10 of one percent chance that you have healthy adrenal function. Based on what we have discussed earlier in this article in regard to brain function, menopause, andropause and thyroid dysfunction, take a guess at what affects all of these areas.

If you guessed adrenal function, you are right on!

While your adrenal function plays a role in so many areas of your body, this will directly affect thyroid function, ovary function, inflammatory states and neural connectivity. So when we are looking hormone drive brain based disorders, it is essential to understand your personal adrenal function.

Based on years of this focus here at Depke Wellness we always recommend adrenal saliva testing so you can understand adrenal function throughout the day. We would look at cortisol production at four times during the day, a total cortisol and a DHEA average but that's not all. We also look at estradiol, estriol, progesterone, testosterone and melatonin. This provides us the necessary information to make recommendations to assist your body in balancing adrenal function. With proper adrenal function, you can begin to enjoy further balance with the thyroid, ovaries, inflammatory states and brain function.

While adrenal function may not be the "end all" for your brain disorder, it is the most significant starting point for hormone related brain disorders. So call our office today at (949)954-6226 and request a #205 adrenal saliva test kit and move forward with your goals of health and happiness. 

If you have any comments or questions, please post these below for us to address personally.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why are your hormones crazy?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

As you are most likely already aware of, hormone balance is a significant focus of Depke Wellness. We have reviewed over 4,500 adrenal test kits in our history and out of these 4,500 health challenged individuals, we have seen only 5 tests return with normal adrenal function. Yes I said ONLY 5! Recognize that this is about 1/10 of 1%. So in essence, if you have a health issue, you most likely have an adrenal issue.

Now while we have assisted thousands in regaining their adrenal balance and reset their HPA axis there can at times be some "hiccups" with a small percentage of clients. Understand that about 90 to 95% of our client base responds very well to the adrenal protocols that are recommended at Depke Wellness, there is still about 5 to 10% that will have some challenges.

Some clients simply feel as if their hormones are truly going crazy.

So why is it that so many will progress with relative ease and others seem to struggle regardless of fact that they addressed their triggers for adrenal insufficiency, they follow their protocols to a tee and the even look at other chronic factors such as their gut health and chronic inflammation?

The reason for this is very often tied into liver function.

Understand that the liver is the body's primary detoxifier and keeping it healthy is critical to your overall health, which includes proper metabolism and function of your hormones.

If you are wondering if your liver function is up to par, ask yourself the following questions:
  •     Are you overweight?
  •     Are you having problems with your hormones?
  •     Do you engage in heavy alcohol or tobacco use?
  •     Do you have high exposure to chemicals such as herbicides or pesticides?
  •     Have you been diagnosed with gallstones?
  •     Have you been diagnosed with a liver disease?
 Overall the function of the liver is key to the:
  • Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion 
  • Production of certain proteins for blood plasma 
  • Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
  • Store and release glucose as needed
  • Processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content (the liver stores iron)
  • Conversion of harmful ammonia to urea (urea is one of the end products of protein metabolism that is excreted in the urine)
  • Clearing the blood of drugs and other harmful substances
  • Regulating blood clotting
  • Resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
  • Clearance of bilirubin (if there is a buildup of bilirubin, the skin and eyes turn yellow)
  • Manufacturing testosterone and the estrogen hormones
  • Regulating sex hormone levels and eliminating excess hormones
While all of these functions are of utmost importance, I want to put our focus on the two at the bottom that are in italics and bold.

The liver plays a major role in the body's use of hormones. This is for both the hormones that are produced naturally in our bodies as well as those hormones that are utilized in  hormone protocols. The liver can be viewed as a hormone processor because it will manufacture and/or regulating some hormone levels. In the end this will be directing various hormones to perform their proper function in other parts of the body. But when the liver is not converting hormones properly due to liver congestion, a fatty liver or more, this would likely cause a hormone imbalance.

A major focus for most women is the liver's role in regulating estrogen hormones. This is a consideration for women undergoing their adrenal protocols. Of course if the liver is functioning normally this is not an issue, but if your hormones are going crazy, this needs to be assessed.

Today there is new insight into how estrogens are metabolized and the effects of that metabolism. They found that estrogens break down into estrogen metabolites that have varying levels of estrogenic activity, and that the stronger the estrogenic effect, the greater the risk of developing estrogen related cancer.

The liver metabolizes hormones and other substances using two primary phases known as the Phase I and Phase II pathways.

During Phase I, some hormones or substances are metabolized directly, but often they are converted into intermediate forms, which are then further metabolized in Phase II.

Cumulatively, these two phases of biological transformation are how the liver provides the body with nutrients and supports the excretion of excess or toxic substances in the urine, liver bile, perspiration and exhaled air.

The pathways depend on a large number of nutrients, including enzymes and amino acids, and their availability (or lack thereof) seems to have a significant influence on the
metabolic outcome. For example, the Phase I pathway is the main metabolic pathway for the estrogen hormones. In premenopausal women, the ovaries produce approximately 1/3  of the estrogen while the adrenal glands will produce most of the remaining 1/3. The primary estrogen hormone produced is estradiol, most of which the body converts to estrone, and eventually estriol. The liver then metabolizes the remaining estradiol and the converted estrone, breaking it down further, and excreting the excess from the body. This excretion occurs in via the colon based on proper bowel movements.

Most now believe that the liver's ability to metabolize estrone is the key factor in estrogen related cancer risk. During Phase I metabolism estrone is converted into various metabolites including 2-hydroxyestrone, a very weak estrogen, and 16-alphahydroxyestrone, a very potent estrogen. If the conversion process favors the stronger form(s) rather than the weaker form(s), then tissue that has an abundance of estrogen receptors, such as the breasts and uterus, may be more vulnerable to excessive estrogen activity, potentially leading to the formation of fibroids or the stimulation of estrogen-sensitive cancers.

Phase I processing can be affected by many factors, including extreme overload, the effects of alcohol or drugs, a lack of nutrients, or interference from other substances. For example, grapefruit juice can slow down the enzymes in Phase I, potentially altering hormone balance. Many prescription drugs are metabolized in Phase I, which can also interfere with the liver's ability to handle the estrogen hormones. On the other hand, Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a phytonutrient derived from cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts), stimulates enzymes that promote the metabolism of estrogens into milder forms, potentially reducing the risk of estrogen-dependent cancers.

Each reaction in the Phase I pathway produces an intermediate form called a free radical. As you have probably heard, free radicals can be very damaging to body tissues if they are not quickly neutralized by antioxidants. Nutrients such as vitamins C and E, minerals such as selenium, and other substances such as lipoic acid and glutathione are antioxidants that help protect against free radicals. The intermediate forms produced in Phase I are in a highly reactive state until they are fully converted in Phase II.

During Phase II, a process known as conjugation begins, in which nutrients such as amino acids are combined with hormones and other substances, to convert them to water-soluble compounds that can be excreted efficiently in the urine or stool. This is one of the reasons you hear me talk about healthy bowel movements so much. If you are not enjoying two healthy bowel movements per day, you are likely reintroducing the excess hormones back into the blood thus creating an additional hormone imbalance.

Of the various types of conjugation that may occur in Phase II, the following are most relevant to hormone metabolism:

  • Methylation, also known as methyl metabolism, is the process in which small parts of molecules, called methyl groups, are passed from one molecule to another. Once estrogens are methylated, they can be easily excreted. In order for the liver to have an adequate supply of methyl groups available, an adequate intake of vitamins B6 (e.g., whole grains and legumes) and B12 (primarily from animal products), and folic acid (such as from green leafy vegetables) are necessary. An over-the-counter dietary supplement known as SAMe (s-adenylmethionine) is also a rich source of methyl groups and sulfur. For more information on methylation visit our recent article on this subject on this link.
  • Sulfation is the process in which sulfur groups are added to estrogen or other molecules to prepare them for easy excretion. Adequate amounts of foods containing sulfur should be in the diet, including egg yolks, garlic, onions and brussels sprouts. Animal protein is another important source of sulfur. At Depke Wellness we will at times recommend a liquid ionized form of sulfur that is very easily assimilated by the body.
  • Glucuronidation is another process by which estrogens can be conjugated. This type of conjugation may be affected by the condition of the intestines. If the intestines have an abundance of abnormal bacteria, an enzyme produced by these bacteria may cut off the conjugated part from the estrogen. The estrogen that would have been excreted is then reabsorbed back into the body, allowing even estrogens produced by the body to build up to excessive levels. The supplement calcium D glucarate (also found in fruits and vegetables) can render the enzyme inactive and prevent this buildup.
  • Gluthathione conjugation is the process in which glutathione, another sulfur-containing molecule, is added to estrogen for easy excretion. Foods such as avocado, walnuts and asparagus are rich in glutathione, and vitamin C stimulates the body to produce more of it. Glutathione depletion can be due to a lack of the essential nutrients and amino acids (found in fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meats) that are needed to synthesize it.

Glutathione deserves special mention as a crucial detoxifier because it also behaves as an antioxidant in Phase I. Glutathione neutralizes the free radicals produced in the Phase I reactions, and combines with them to produce water-soluble compounds that can be excreted.

Glutathione is also needed for the detoxification of alcohol. Studies have shown that even a small amount of alcohol intake can increase estrogen levels in the blood because alcohol competes for the available glutathione, preventing estrogen excretion.

Smoking is also known to deplete glutathione levels, as do chronically stressful conditions such as infections or inflammatory disorders.

As we assist our clients at Depke Wellness, we will often recommend either a herbal tincture of Hepatica to assist in drainage of the liver, gall bladder and colon and/or A/C Glutathione to assist with detoxification along with a powerful antioxidant activity. For those with deeper liver detoxification factors we would most often recommend deeper liver detoxification and drainage therapies for a minimum of 30 days.

For further information on this subject I would suggest an article from Connections be visiting this link. This was a helpful source for research on today's article.

Also watch your Depke Wellness newsletter for an upcoming webinar presented by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath for Hawthorn University on Tuesday October 7,2014.

If you have any comments or questions in regard to this article, please leave a post below for us to address personally.