Monday, June 8, 2015

The Gut-Brain Connection to Chronic Pain, Anxiety and Depression

By Dr. Greg Fors, DC
Board-certified Neurologist

Possibly many of you have read or heard of the best-selling book by Dr. Perlmutter MD “Grain Brain” which explains the impact that a high carbohydrate diet has on your brain function. How a high carbohydrate diet can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. In his new book “Brain Maker” he explores the astonishing new research that reveals how the health of your brain is dictated by the state of your gut microbiome. How can this be?

Have you ever had a “gut-wrenching experience”? Told someone that you could no longer “stomach the situation”. Have you ever felt “butterflies in your stomach” when you’re anxious? We have intuitively recognized our gut-brain connection. For years now we have recognized the role that the brain plays in creating gastrointestinal disorders such as stress-induced gastric ulcers. However what is now coming clear is that the communication goes both ways our G.I. tract talks to our brain!

It turns out that our brain and central nervous system and the enteric or G.I. nervous system where created from the same tissue during fetal development. These two nervous systems are intimately connected via the vagus nerve or 10th cranial nerve that runs from our brainstem down into our gastrointestinal tract. Messages to control our digestive system are sent from our brain through the vagus nerve to our digestive organs. But what’s coming clear now is that messages are being sent back from our digestive tract through the vagus nerve to our brain.

Even more surprising it is that the vagus nerve is the route our gut bacteria use to transmit information to our brain. Yes, bacteria in your gut are talking to your brain, and they are sending good messages and bad messages. Some gut bacteria can release neurotransmitters just like your brain releases, therefore they can speak to your brain in its own language via this vagus nerve. Furthermore, pathogenic or bad bugs in your gut can cause your immune system to release inflammatory cytokine messengers throughout your body, and can even trigger a systemic stress response. This research has now shown that gut bacteria can directly impact your mental health, leading to issues with anxiety and depression. (just as if your boss was yelling at you or a tiger was chasing you, ). As if that wasn’t enough, consider that other unfavorable bacteria can release substances in the gut that will make you more sensitive to pain. This directly relates a possible impact to those suffering with chronic pain and fibromyalgia.

Don’t panic! There is the flip side.  Having the right type of commensal bacteria in high enough numbers, such as various species of Bifidobacterium and a Lactobacillus, can keep these bad bugs at bay. Even more interesting is that these beneficial bacteria can interact with your immune system in ways that turn off your inflammation and your chronic stress response, thereby reducing pain and anxiety.

Long and short; it’s vital to have “the right stuff” in your gut microbiota. 

An imbalance of gut bacteria is known as dysbiosis and it is many times overlooked in a conventional approach to chronic health disorders. This gastrointestinal disorder is best understood as a condition where, an overabundance of non-acute, non-infectious GI microorganisms and/or a lack of beneficial bacteria, adversely affect the human host”. If you have chronic pain, anxiety or depression and dysbiosis has not been found, it may simply be that no one has been looking for it!
I have personally seen it time and time again with patients who tell me that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut or developed chronic pain or fibromyalgia sometime after the onset of G.I. health issues. A study recently conducted at UCLA found that women who consumed beneficial probiotics exhibited mood and cognition on MRI in both the resting state and in performing emotional recognition tasks.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Why We Hurt and How We Heal

By Dr. Greg Fors
Sitting across from Kathy I could tell that she was confused and frustrated. She was only 38 years old but was already on a mixture of six different medications for her symptoms, primarily chronic pain and depression. She was also contending with many other symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and poor memory. Looking over her history of diagnosed disorders, complaints and symptoms I realized they all had one thing in common, chronic systemic inflammation.

All healing in our body actually begins with inflammation, something we do our best to block in the U.S. by swallowing 30 billion NSAIDs each year, mostly for chronic pain issues. In the long run this can lead to problems, for inflammation allows us to fight off infections, defeat cancerous cells, or heal a sprain/strain. However, diet and environmental toxins can cause this beneficial healing response to turn into a disease process of chronic systemic inflammation in our body. Contrary to common practice chronic inflammation cannot be reversed by taking anti-inflammatory drugs whether prescribed or purchased over the counter, drugs such as: aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin, Celebrex, ketoprofen, Toradol, naproxens, Feldene, Tolectin and acetaminophen. Far from healing chronic inflammation these drugs tend to cause multiple and devastating side effects on our health.

I explained this to Kathy, “Chronic inflammation can smolder in your tissues for years ‘just’ causing the pain and depression that now plague your life, until it sparks into a deadly chronic disease. Chronic systemic inflammation is a miscommunication within your neuroimmune system, and therefore it can have wide spread and multiple effects on your health.” Kathy was concerned, so I continued; “However, if you learn how to normalize chronic inflammation through proper diet, healing your gut and proper lifestyle changes, instead of just blocking the inflammation with drugs, you can overcome your chronic pain while preventing the development of chronic disease.”

Kathy first question was, “How can I do this without drugs?” I described for Kathy how processed foods high in refined sugars, saturated fat, trans-fatty acids along with other poor dietary habits can cause inflammation and chronic pain disorders. I showed Kathy a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found diets high in sugar and simple carbohydrates raise systemic inflammation. To fully identify the underlying causes of Kathy's healthcare problems I added a Urinary Organic Acid Profile and a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis to her blood lab work. These two tests established that Kathy had unhealthy microbes growing in her digestive tract, a condition known as SIBO and dysbiosis, a primary source for toxins that can create systemic inflammation. This condition also led to a “leaky gut” a primary cause for the chronic inflammation. I explained to Kathy that 70% of our immune system lies in our G.I. lining, and with leaky gut there can be an activation of this chronic inflammation.

Her blood lab work showed an elevated blood liver enzyme called GGT indicating chemical toxicity, based on work at the University of Minnesota. Kathy was quite confused; she had never lived or worked in any toxic environment. I explained to her that even the air she breaths and the water she baths in exposes her to cell-damaging pollutants. I told her, “Along with the food and water you consume each year, pounds of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, food additives, chemical preservatives, and industrial chemical contaminants are also consumed. According to the U.S. EPA National Human Adipose Tissue Survey, every American has been found to contain the five most deadly chemicals known, Dioxin being number one. All of the chemicals found have been shown to increase chronic systemic inflammation and adversely affect our nervous system.

Utilizing a natural Functional Medicine approach to Kathy’s health concerns she was able to restore her health. By changing her diet, nutrient levels, eliminating toxins, correcting her leaky gut, and removing food allergies she was able to overcome her chronic inflammation, healing her pain and improving her mood and memory, unlocking the full potential of her life!

Friday, January 30, 2015

What Is Leaky Gut Syndrome-

And Could It Be Th
e Cause Of Your Health Problems?
By Dr. Greg Fors, DC, Board-certified Neurologist

Do you suffer with arthritis, allergies, depression, eczema, hives, psoriasis, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia? Then you may be suffering from a poorly understood condition known as “Leaky Gut Syndrome”.

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome? It is not unknown, you may have heard about it when searching the Internet or talking to a friend, and usually, you do not find out about it from your conventional healthcare provider. A very simple analogy is this; think of a coffee filter that has been damaged allowing coffee grounds through to muddy up your morning brew. It occurs in the small intestine. This organ is only one cell thick and performs many complex functions including acting as a barrier or filter that keeps bad things out, and only lets in the things your body needs. This barrier is important because anything inside your digestive tract, is still outside of you. This is also why your digestive tract contains 70% of your immune system, it is positioned there to defend against foreign invaders

In Leaky Gut Syndrome the damage is done to the “glue” that holds the intestinal cells to each other. With this foreign molecules like toxins, microbes, undigested food proteins can escape from your small intestines and leak into your bloodstream. Again, with 70% of your immune system in your G.I. lining it has ample opportunity to mark these “foreign invaders" as pathogens and attack them. Unfortunately, this immune response can cause local G.I problems e.g; IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and systemic inflammation leading to multiple symptoms such as chronic pain, fatigue, depression. This leaking through of undigested food proteins that your immune system reacts to is also a primary cause of food allergies. If you have multiple food allergies there is a strong indication that you have a leaky gut. Another problem with this is that damage to the small intestine can cause malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients, including zinc, iron and vitamin B12.  Zinc is a vital nutrient in the repair of the G.I. lining therefore this can easily become a feedforward cycle.

In scientific literature, Leaky Gut Syndrome is well-established as a real problem, and is known as increased intestinal permeability. Recent research published in the well-respected journal Neuroendocrinology Letters confirmed what I have observed in treating patients with complex disorders. Multiple studies published there showed specific laboratory evidence of “Leaky Gut Syndrome” in individuals who suffered with chronic fatigue, malaise, pain and depression. It also shows that Leaky Gut Syndrome is associated with inflammatory bowel diseases, several types of arthritis, fibromyalgia syndrome, acne, psoriasis, chronic liver disease, and numerous conditions triggered by food allergy, including eczema, hives, and irritable bowel syndrome.

The studies demonstrated that proper treatment with specific diet and nutrients not only reversed the laboratory signs of Leaky Gut Syndrome, but improved the symptoms of fatigue, malaise and depression. In summary, this recent research demonstrates that not only does this condition exist and can cause multiple disorders, but if fixed it can reverse multiple health issues.

What Causes Leaky Gut? There are many complex causes of Leaky Gut Syndrome but some of the more common ones are typical in our society today, that of: poor diet, food allergies, chronic stress, toxin overload, and intestinal bacterial imbalance. All these issues can be addressed and corrected with proper guidance, and specific nutrients that help accelerate intestinal healing.

It must be pointed out that of the chief causes of a “leaky gut” is the use of pain relieving drugs such as NSAIDs, for example ibuprofen. All the NSAIDs whether over-the-counter or prescription have been linked to G.I. bleeding and ulceration. Before they cause G.I. bleeding these drugs “poke small holes” through your intestinal tract. One will never heal their leaky gut if they’re still relying on drugs to get them through the day because of pain.

Do you have chronic pain and fatigue, depression, fibromyalgia syndrome, chronic arthritis, allergies, eczema, an autoimmune disorder? Then you may also have Leaky Gut Syndrome, because it causes or contributes to these conditions. Tired of chasing symptoms, of taking drugs with all their side effects of not getting to the underlying causes of your health problems? If you answered yes it is vital that you attend one of my FREE upcoming seminars on “Reversing Leaky Gut Syndrome”. Join me Dr. Greg Fors on Wednesday, February 4th 7:00 PM or Monday, February 9th 10:00 AM at the Pain and Brain Healing Center in Blaine, MN. I will discuss how you can reinvent your life, naturally. For directions and to reserve your space, seating is limited, call my clinic at 763-862-7100, you can also schedule a free consultation with me.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Reversing Your Pre-diabetes or Diabetes!

By Dr. Greg Fors, DC, Board-certified Neurologist

Are you a victim of an unrecognized devastating epidemic! There are 21 million Americans now suffering from diabetes, and the NIH estimates a third of these individuals are unaware that they have diabetes. Over 79 million adults aged 20 and older have prediabetes and most do not know it! .Astonishingly, the CDC announced on June 15, 2003, that one out of every three children born from the year 2000 and on will develop diabetes by middle age. According to a to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 2 out of every 3 adults and 1 out of 3 children in the United States are now overweight or obese. Our diet high in refined carbohydrates and hidden sugars, along with chemicals in our environment is creating a modern plague of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, but more than that it is causing you, pain, fatigue and brain fog on a daily basis.

No one likes to look fat and out of shape but the piling on of those pounds around the middle may be a more serious indication that your metabolism is being poisoned. I see patients every day with complex health problems relying on multiple drugs to get them through the day. One of the primary causes of this metabolic poisoning is insulin resistance caused by your diet along with toxic chemicals in your environment. With prediabetes and diabetes your ability to efficiently get energy from your foods at the cellular level has been damaged. The cells of your body need an abundance of energy to properly perform their work, when energy is inadequate symptoms will develop. For example muscles become easily fatigued and sore, and energy deficit in your brain causes you to experience brain fog, depression and anxiety. Poor energy production in your digestive tract leads to maldigestion and malabsorption problems. Eventually your undiagnosed or improperly treated prediabetes leads to type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's and early death!

How do you know if you have pre-diabetes or type II diabetes? You need a knowledgeable doctor of Functional Medicine who knows how to discover and properly treat your underlying metabolic issues causing your symptoms. Proper laboratory testing goes well beyond just a fasting glucose, your examination workup must include a: fasting insulin, Hemoglobin A-1C, hsCRP, GGT, Fibrinogen, Homocysteine, Triglyceride to HDL cholesterol ratio (TG/HDL-C). Usually the only diagnostic test run by a conventional doctor is fasting blood glucose. However in the prediabetic abnormal fasting blood glucose is one of the last indicators to show up.

I find many times fasting blood glucose in the high normal range with an elevated fasting blood insulin level. This means your pancreas is pumping out tons of insulin to try to beat down your abnormal glucose levels, in other words you are insulin resistant and prediabetic. High insulin levels also cause many health problems; primary among them is the increased storage of fat, inability to lose weight and fatigue. These multiple tests are also important because you cannot always judge a book by its cover. I am many times surprised to find some of my more slender patients with fatigue and brain fog have quite abnormal blood tests showing that their metabolism is being poisoned by their diet and environmental chemicals.

What's more, conventional medicine would have you believe that controlling your blood sugar with drugs or insulin will protect you from organ and nerve damage and early death, and that type II diabetes is not reversible. The truth is that if properly addressed this can be reversed, especially the earlier it’s caught so don’t delay! Additionally research now shows that medication and insulin can actually increase your risk of getting a heart attack or dying. To properly treat prediabetes and diabetes you must go beyond just treating symptoms and go after the real underlying cause of your disease process.

There is a metabolic poisoning taking place at epidemic levels; it affects you and your loved ones. Your health issues involving weight gain, depression, chronic pain and fatigue may be caused by an undiagnosed prediabetes. Or possibly you already have type II diabetes which is being poorly treated with just medications. Call my clinic at 763-862-7100 to schedule a free consultation with me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Reversing Your Autoimmune Disease

By Dr. Greg Fors, DC
Board-certified Neurologist

Autoimmune diseases are now one of the top 10 leading causes of death in women under the age of 65! There are now over 80 illnesses that are caused by autoimmunity or being allergic to yourself. They often cause a chronic and debilitating condition. They come in multiple strange names: Hashimoto’s and Graves’ thyroiditis, lupus, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Sj√∂gren’s, reactive arthritis, IBD, FMS, and CFS to name a few.

Even though they all are such a common disorder today most individuals with chronic pain symptoms rarely get tested properly for autoimmune disorders. This is a standard test for all my new patients to screen them for the possibility of autoimmune disorders. If you are experiencing chronic health problems with a combination of any the following symptoms you may have an autoimmune disorder or disease and need to be properly tested: chronic joint and/or muscle pain, chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating or focusing, weakness, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, recurrent rashes or hives, sun-sensitivity, a butterfly-shaped rash across your face, dry eyes, mouth or skin, abdominal pains, blood or mucus in your stool, diarrhea or mouth ulcers, multiple miscarriages or blood clots.

Because they come with so many different names there is a misunderstanding that these are separate disease disorders among the medical community and general public. Even though they come with different names and can affect many different organs, at their core they all involve systemic inflammation with an immune response leading to an attack on your own tissue. There is certain evidence that there is an underlying genetic component. However, these multiple genes only get expressed or turned on by specific environmental triggers. An autoimmune response is generated when your immune system overreacts with antibodies when trying to defend itself against potentially dangerous substances such as an allergen, a toxin, and infection, or even a food and it fails to differentiate between foreign substance and your own tissues. With increased antibodies against its own self your immune system wreaks havoc on your tissues and organs.

The conventional medical response is to prescribe a drug that suppresses your immune system. This may turn down the inflammatory response and some the symptoms, but it comes at a tremendous cost. Your immune system keeps you safe from cancerous cells and infectious invaders, therefore these drugs do increase your risk for certain cancers and chronic infections. Other common side effects are rashes, G.I. disorders and they can be toxic to the liver or bone marrow. A better approach may be to go after your personal environmental factors that triggered your autoimmune response.
A primary triggering event for an autoimmune response is an altered gastrointestinal system that eventually manifests as “Leaky Gut”. Very recent research has now established that this “Leaky Gut” is the primary driver of systemic inflammation and autoimmune responses. Conditions known as SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which not only lead to irritable bowel symptoms but also can damage the G.I. lining leading to “Leaky Gut”. This condition then leads to an up-regulation of your immune system and subsequent systemic inflammation and symptoms. There are specific laboratory tests to identify if you have systemic inflammation, SIBO and a “Leaky Gut”.

This all makes sense when we realize that 70% of the immune system lies in our G.I. tract. Once identified there are specific gastrointestinal healing programs that can be implemented to reverse this condition and improve your immune response. This “Leaky Gut” leads to increased food allergies which I find in the majority of my autoimmune patients. I can reduce the autoimmune response by identifying and removing the patient’s food allergies by using a sophisticated Alletess IgG food allergy test for 184 foods. There is a profound link between food allergies and autoimmune diseases, one of the most common one is gluten intolerance.

Another underlying factor that can trigger an autoimmune response is when your genetic predisposition is turned on by toxins from heavy metals like mercury and lead, mycotoxins from molds, and chronic viral infections such as herpes simplex and Epstein-Barr. All these triggers must be identified and then removed for you to conquer your autoimmune disease. This can all be achieved with proper laboratory testing.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Reversing Your Arthritis

By Dr. Greg Fors, DC, Board-certified Neurologist

Do your joints ache and limit your ability to enjoy life? You don’t have to suffer, you can start back on the road to healing today, naturally! Many individuals rely on prescription and/or over-the-counter NSAIDs to get them through the day, but these drugs are taking a very big toll. Common over the counter NSAIDs include: ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. Prescription brands are many from celecoxib, ketorolac, tolmetin to rofecoxib to name just a few. There is a very dark side to this reliance on these NSAIDs. Commonly people experience nausea, vomiting, unknown G.I. bleeding and eventually kidney damage.

More shocking is the fact that NSAIDs are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Over 100,000 people are hospitalized for GI bleeding and of those 16,500 die every year. These numbers are very “conservative” they have not been updated since 1997 and do not take in account the 30 billion over-the-counter NSAID tablets swallowed yearly! This is a horrific “silent epidemic” and worse yet NSAIDs don’t get to the underlying cause of the arthritis. It’s time you stop hurting yourself with NSAIDs for your arthritis!

So how does someone reverse the pain and stiffness of arthritis? There are many different names given to the condition we call arthritis. However no matter what diagnosis you are given, osteoarthritis, degenerative spinal arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, arthritis comes from underlying biochemical changes that lead to increased joint destruction and decreased joint repair. In any arthritis, cartilage synthesis and maintenance of the joint lining called the synovium cannot keep pace with the background breakdown of these tissues. This increase breakdown caused by multiple factors, key among them is increased nutritional needs by your cartilage and the joint lining. If this is properly understood through laboratory testing then nutritional support specific to your needs can be supplied to improve the health of your joints. This nutritional support helps increased cartilaginous and joint lining repair, improving pain and stiffness.

A crucial factor in increased joint breakdown is systemic inflammation that comes from an upregulated immune response. Just taking NSAIDs does not get to the underlying cause of the systemic inflammation that is affecting your joints. I find with many patients a primary cause is coming from the gastrointestinal tract. With over 70% of the immune system in your gastrointestinal tract is easy to see why it can be a source of increased systemic inflammation. Conditions known as SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which not only lead to irritable bowel symptoms but also can damage your G.I. lining. This can lead to a condition known increased intestinal permeability or “leaky gut”. NSAIDs are a major cause of G.I. damage and “leaky gut syndrome”.
With this “leaky gut” bacteria in your G.I. have access to 70% of your immune system. The situation can lead to an upregulated immune response causing you systemic inflammation and inflamed achy joints. There are specific laboratory tests to identify if you have systemic inflammation, SIBO and a “leaky gut”. Once identified there are specific gastrointestinal healing programs that can be implemented to heal your G.I to reduce your systemic inflammation. With this your idea IBS goes away along with your inflamed achy joints.

This “leaky gut” also leads to increased food allergies which I find in the majority of my arthritic patients whether it be osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other forms of arthritis. I have found in myself and many patients I can reduce the arthritic symptoms by identifying and removing the patient’s food allergies by using a sophisticated Alletess IgG food allergy test for 184 foods.
Want to know more just Google “sibo and arthritis” or “food allergies and arthritis”. Don’t be of victim of your arthritis and NSAIDs.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why Die Before Your Time? What is Anti-Aging Medicine?

By Dr. Greg Fors

Are you now living the life you dreamt of when you were young? Filled with vitality and personal power creating happiness you knew you were meant for? Too often individuals find themselves plagued with muscle and joint pain, chronic fatigue and the loss of vitality and drive. Premature aging can sap your strength, vitality and ability to enjoy life, cripple you, and even can kill you all too soon! Tens of millions die early from age-related conditions each and every year, but few people realize that degenerative aging can be slowed with diet and lifestyle choices.

Anti-aging medicine is a clinical specialty founded on the application of advanced laboratory medicine for the early detection, prevention, treatment, and reversal of age-related dysfunction, disorders, and diseases. Doctors who practice Anti-aging medicine use proper diet, lifestyle choices, and proven functional medicine to help their patients live healthy, longer lives. A longer life gives you more time in which to lead a better life.

First stop the self inflicted injury. Do you smoke or do recreational drugs? Do you eat junk food or are overweight? Do you exercise little or not at all? Haven't seen a doctor in years or your present doctor does not know how to keep you healthy without drugs? If so, you have a clear starting point. These negative things can hurt more than any healthy life extension techniques can compensate for. What is the point of painting the house if you are letting the foundation crumble? Begin now to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Find a doctor you can trust and talk to about actually improving your health instead of treating symptoms with more drugs. The body is a complex, resilient wonder. However, unlike your car you can't just replace it when it breaks down.

The primary cause of early aging and degenerative disease is 'oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.' With this it's like your tissues are "on simmer, sort of cooking away at an accelerated rate." A primary cause of this is free radicals, small molecules lacking an electron. These free radicals steal an electron from healthy cells; it's like pulling out a cog wheel from a fine Swiss watch and expecting it to keep proper time. Free radicals can even start destroying your cellular DNA. One of the primary causes of free radicals is the increased chemicals and toxic metals in our environment today.

A doctor knowledgeable in anti-aging medicine knows how to measure laboratory biomarkers to identify if you have high levels of chronic inflammation and free radical damage leading to premature aging and degenerative disease. Furthermore this knowledgeable doctor would then have the know how to assist you in stopping the damage caused by these aging factors to improve your health and vitality, and prevent further degenerative diseases.

Another vital factor in anti-aging medicine is to make sure you have proper balanced hormone function. One of the most important aspects balanced hormone function is to thoroughly assess proper thyroid function. To fully understand a patient's thyroid function a knowledgeable doctor must run at least 6 to 8 thyroid tests. Just running the typical TSH and T4 only catches 17% of the individuals with thyroid dysfunction. This is especially true in women.

In men the most important hormone balance to fight premature aging is proper assessment of testosterone levels to properly diagnose male hormonal imbalances. A doctor must run at least at least six male hormone tests and not just total testosterone to properly diagnose and treat this hormonal balance. With this proper assessment men can achieve better hormone balance to defeat premature aging and the loss of vitality, drive and intimacy.

Proper hormonal balance and anti-aging medicine, and the lab tests to properly diagnose these conditions will be the subject matter of my upcoming seminars. I will also discuss natural solutions for healthy aging.

Dr. Greg Fors  -  Chiropractor since 1982. #anti-agingmedicine #healthyliving #DrGregFors