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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

MS AWARENESS WEEK – March 10-17

MS AWARENESS WEEK – March 10-17
This is MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Awareness Week from March 10 -17. Yesterday Janice Dean, Weather Forecaster for Fox News, went public with her struggle with this devastating disease – a noble thing for her to do. This being MS Awareness Week affords me the opportunity to share my thoughts about this disease.

Many in the medical research community believe that MS is partly an auto immune process, where the body makes antibodies against its own tissues – in this case antibodies are being made against brain tissue. As with most autoimmune diseases, this would explain why this disease becomes active and remissions are quite common. Although the allergic process is complex, some are beginning to understand and are proposing new concepts and ways of solving the problem. Unfortunately, the new thinking goes counter to some long held beliefs by the conventional community which make acceptance of these concepts difficult. I will do my best in describing these new approaches and hope someone is listening.

When I look at autoimmune diseases I always think about the CONCEPT OF THE TOTAL LOAD – SEE Blogs written on 9/19 & 21, 2007 for more details. Considering this concept, it may not be necessary initially to determine what might be the allergic culprit triggering the autoimmune reaction. If the body is making antibodies against it own tissues, we know the culprit – the body’s own tissue. But knowing this and knowing that we cannot remove one’s own tissue from the equation, considering the Concept of the Total Load, we can approach a cure from a different angle.

In the Concept of the Total Load, it is the totality of the allergic culprits which contribute to the body reaching the level above which symptoms occur. It would not be necessary to remove all of the culprits. Removing only a few culprit allergens might be sufficient to prevent the expression of allergic symptoms because it may take the removal of only a few to lower the totality of the body’s allergic response so that it is below the threshold level above which symptoms occur.

There is much in our environment which can impact the allergic reaction and hence influence the expression of an autoimmune disease. We have the constant exposure to hydrocarbons from the fumes of deodorants, soaps, perfumes, air fresheners, etc. to the more subtle exposure to the ever present fumes emanating from one of my pet peeves, asphalt-paved roads. These hydrocarbons interfere with the body’s healthy production of good antibodies and the production of detrimental antibodies. Although I admit to having little proof for this statement, exposure to such toxic fumes cannot be good for the body. We are now beginning to appreciate the detrimental effects of an individual’s exposure to the many cosmetic preparations being put upon the body. It may not be so much a single substance producing a volatile odor, it is the totality of the exposure to many toxic odorous substances which causes the harm. Look at the myriad of organic chemicals in lipstick, many of which are not known because of proprietary issues. One just has to think of Janice Dean’s exposure to such chemicals in the Green Room as she prepares to go before the TV cameras.

Another toxic chemical which is ubiquitous is our exposure to phthalates, the chemical used in the extraction of plastics to make it soft. I mentioned in an earlier Blog last week my visit to a local supermarket wanting to buy food items not packaged in plastic. Forget it. From breads and cheeses to sauces and milk, everything in plastic. Wine and beer are still in glass bottles made from inert silica. But, there is only so much beer and wine one can drink and stay healthy! Even the Old Fashioned Quaker Oats cardboard box now has a plastic top. I went away from the grocery store depressed thinking about the fact that avoiding phthalates was an impossibility. The meat and fish were wrapped in plastic wrap, then in paper. As soon as I got back to my apartment, I removed the plastic from everything to decrease my exposure. I used to drink diet soda, but no more. It is not so much the artificial sweetener in the soda which is also bad but the fact that the soda is in a plastic bottle. The phthalates are constantly leaching into the soda. Forget about canned soda for the acid nature of most drinks allows for the leaching of aluminum from the cans. The fact the aluminum is found in high concentrations in the brains of people dead from Alzheimer’s Disease seems to be eluding many, even in the medical profession.

Unfortunately, we live in a chemical world. Does anyone remember the ad from Dow Chemical: “Better Living through Chemistry?” It still rings in my ear. Chemistry brought “Better Living to Dow” who makes great profits from their sales of chemical products!

It is almost impossible to avoid exposure to noxious chemicals. The best we can do is to decrease our exposure. Cease buying things in plastic, cease your exposure to noxious chemicals, especially those you put on your skin. If you stop breathing, all your problems will be solved! But I am not suggesting that – YET!

There is one area where we can make a significant impact, and this is with the food we consume. In my clinical practice, I am discovering that increasing numbers of people are allergic to foods or the components of foods. Foods are not simple any more. Not even the fruit we eat is devoid of chemicals. Do you wash your fruit? It may take washing fruit in 10% Clorox and rinsing thoroughly to remove the pesticides on the surface of the fruit. In this case bananas and oranges are good for the external peel can be discarded. But what about the herbicides and pesticides which are absorbed by the plant and enter the fruit. All the Clorox in the world cannot eliminate the chemicals within the pulp of the fruit. I still like bananas and another of my favorites, papaya, for the former is still grown almost in the wild and I do not see anyone spraying papaya trees here in Panama where much of the fruit is still brought to local farmer’s markets from small independent growers.

Just today it was reported that the residue of prescription drugs are being detected in the drinking water of many communities around the country. Albeit the concentrations are low, when one considers how much water we drink over long periods of time, the intake of these drugs may not be so low.

I always was amazed at how well the government tries to protect us from harmful chemicals by determining what the safe limits should be in our environment. I always quipped that perhaps the safe limits of a chemical which nature had never intended for us to consume is actually zero and not one part per million or what other standard the government may set. The body has mechanisms to detoxify many substances found in nature. Over time we can eliminate toxins such as lead and mercury if, of course, the toxic insult is not too great over time. But the body CANNOT detoxify chemicals, such as phthalates. During the evolution of the body and its chemical detoxifying mechanism, we have developed some ability to handle some toxic chemicals found in nature, but can we expect the body to develop mechanisms to handle the new chemicals being introduced by the likes of Dow Chemical?

To get back at the issue about our contaminated water, I see that many people are touting in their hands their bottles of natural water thinking they are doing a good thing drinking bottled water. Should you or I tell them that they are getting their daily dose of phthalates because their water is bottled in plastic? Sometimes one cannot win for losing, so to speak.

Another aspect of the complex foods we consume is that the foods are complex. They are not simple any more. We know that, if you eat a particular food frequently and every day, you most likely will develop an allergy to it. Read labels. If you do you will discover that almost every complex food, such as soups, cereals, sauces, etc. has similar components, such as milk solids, sugars in several forms as sugar, dextrose, corn sweeteners, etc., corn solids, and the myriad of chemicals to preserve freshness and prevent spoiling. Next time read the side of the Cheerios box. Now Cheerios is supposed to be made of oats. But, do you know that Cheerios also contains wheat? Just went to my cupboard. Old Fashioned Oats has “100% Rolled Oats.” There is still hope. But, remember I told you earlier, the cardboard box has a plastic top! It is difficult not to find a prepared complex food which does not contain milk, milk solids, corn, and corn derivatives. Milk is a food to which more people are allergic than any other food. Sorry about this, Milk Institute! We find so many people allergic to milk, corn, wheat, etc. These are staple foodstuffs. But to consume them everyday and in so many foods is extremely detrimental.


CAN ANYTHING BE DONE?

Yes, there is. Our approach to treating allergies and allergic-related disease is to begin by placing an individual on an extremely restrictive Elimination Diet. It is a very difficulty diet, but then the diseases we are attempting to cure are severe: MS, Autism, ADHD, etc., all common diseases. Were it not for the fact that the incidence of all these diseases and many more which may have an allergic component is ever increasing and the treatments thus far have been woefully discouraging.

I know, just as I sit here writing, that I will receive a few comments from my readers that I am a quack and I do not know about which I am writing. But I say to you: are you doing any better applying the same old, same old? Our approach requires determination, fortitude, and perseverance. And, it is non toxic.

After a period of almost total elimination of potential food culprits and practices, foods are reintroduced one by one. If one is allergic to a particular food item, provided it is not peanuts, shellfish, and very few others, one can usually eat that food if it is not eaten more than once every 3-4 days. But, the allergic cycle must be broken first.

Another interesting aspect about food allergies is that people tend to crave the very foods to which they are allergic. This is similar to one’s craving for alcohol or hard and prescription drugs. So one who craves a particular food, such as milk, that person might well be allergic to it. Knowing the foods one craves may be an indication of where we might start.


I welcome comments from my readers.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.
Director, Tauraso Medical Clinic
www.drtauraso.com





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