Taking the Hell out of Healthcare
Angeline Pacy
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Taking the Hell out of Healthcare

Immunomodulation: hot or hype?

by Angeline Pacy on 02/28/15

Immunomodulation 101: it's risky. And since the makers of marketed immunomodulators are rarely the partakers of immunomodulators, I'll cut to the chase. 

American medicine has truly missed the mark in this field. It's not always what you add to the body that will most benefit an irregular immune system. Sometimes the effective therapy involves controlling the intake of a substance starting with the following:

1.) Arachadonic acid. If you don't know what this is, learn it. Eliminate it from the majority of your daily meals and watch your body flourish. 

2.) Control inflammation by eliminating refined carbohydrate and sugar. Spiking blood sugar is a recipe for an inflammatory cascade that even Jesus can't save you from unless you want to do the work. Get on board. The truth shall set you free. Controlling blood sugar also aids in the process of controlling pro-inflammatory endogenous arachadonic levels.

3.) Detox: make it your number one priority. Regardless of the underlying condition for immune irregularity (albeit it infectious, metabolic, environmental toxicty / heavy metals, usually all of the above mentioned), the only way up is down. That means that you may fall apart before you get better during the metabolic detox process. But, no pain, no gain. 

Metabolic detox is complex if you are a newbie; but, the truth is out there. I like a combo of therapies, beginning with the basic detox pathways: sulphur (MSM), methylation (methyl cobalamin injections, methyl donors in general), phase 1, 2 and 3 - detox with GeroNova Research's potassium r-lipoic acid and the R-lipoic acid plus curcumin (two of the world's most powerful detoxifiers combined into one product). That increases the endogenous antioxidants like glutathione and SOD which speed cellular detox. 

Most of the currently marketed immunomodulators are immunosuppressive drugs with side effects resembling a Stephen King novel. Modulation should not be confused with suppression or even targeted suppression. For that reason alone, I recommend the following for true modulation of an irregular immune system (in order of effectiveness and safety). 

1.) biological spin traps

2.) lipid-soluble antioxidants

3.) medicinal mushrooms

4.) plant sterols

7 Steps to Developing Healthy Coping Skills in the Face of Challenges

by Angeline Pacy on 02/28/15

In an age of growing violence and mass shootings, and public discontent, the topic of coping skills is of vital importance. Not all of the topic can be examined in this space, given the complex social and economic dynamics involved in this areas (especially given the growing economic disparities and wide-spread corruption that influence the coping skills of society). However, there is a light that we can grow within ourselves and we can shine that light through the darkness of human history. 

Let's explore the some of the exciting coping skills that can be adopted to become more balanced and healthier in mind, body and spirit: the foundation to social change and true health. As an individual and society, we must regularly examine coping skills. They don't just impact you, they impact us all.

Why do people freak out and blow up buildings? Or shoot up schools? Often times it can be the result of unresolved trauma (knowing too much or being the victim of social injustice) and not being able to cope with it in healthy ways. 
Ultimately, it can be reduced to poor coping skills (another form of adaptation). We ALL need 'courage to change.'

Danger in Using Denial as a Coping Skill

Denial is a coping skill that all humans use to one extent or another. Examples include avoidance behavior, unhealthy self-gratification and the need for excessive amounts of diversions. 

Denial can be positive or it can be negative, depending upon how it is used. There is a difference between being positive and being in denial, but the two are often confused. Denial is a negative coping skill (errant) if it creates an unbalanced life. 

Covering up and dismissing tragedy, misfortune and injustice, under the guise of positive psychology pop-culture, is also an example of denial as a poor coping skill. It can be dangerous, isolating and often perpetuates dysfunction in society.

Some people only want to talk about superficial topics or, as McCartney sang it, "fill the world with silly love songs." I am willing to engage in the tough topics (and what I can do as an individual to make myself better, and lift up others when possible); I have 'courage to change.' You can too! We can face change and reality together to making a lasting difference in our own lives and in the world. 

In general, humans do have a very hard time owning up to reality. Perceptions of reality are complex because denial can also be a result of inexperience (a lack of experience outside of our personal bubble, or the propaganda that are fed on daily television or through the clever brain-washing in our education system). More often than not, we just want to turn a blind eye to harsh realities and even human suffering, not just because of traditional denial but because we don't actually believe due to inexperience. Some people have a small scope of human experience and others grander. We must not go into denial of all things outside of our limited human experience. This is another reason why we must continuously assess ourselves for poor coping skills.

An Appropriate Context for Denial? 

There is an appropriate time and place for discretion and denial. Do you want to talk over supper about child pornography? How about a discussion on the definition of orgy sex with your young children? Some denial is ok, especially when developmentally appropriate. Denial can help us achieve milestones of success. Just don't live there, in a metaphoric suspended childhood, indefinitely, and expect the results to be good (for self or for society). 

In ancient biblical times, the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was a metaphor for what it meant to have knowledge of a reality which correlated to greater human suffering (when we were once sheltered by ignorance). Talk to your kids about tough subjects as developmentally appropriate as possible. Perhaps, the apocalypse and end-of-ages prophesy isn't a great topic when you need to establish a sense of security in a fragile and developing mind. 

But most importantly, help yourself and your children to develop good coping skills now. Instill a sense of security not by lying or sheltering one another, merely palliating reality, but reinforcing messages of peace, serenity and hope in the face of obstacles and suffering.  Then, we can face change together and create a better society and healthier life.

What one finds, after many years of life-experience, is that the world can be a very dark place unless you go into it consciously to bring it love, meaning and light. Providing purpose and meaning to life, and teaching children to be a light in the darkness is not morbid: it's healthier than living in denial. The future of humanity rests upon living in reality, not denial (as environmentalists have warned for decades and dangerous power and nuclear arms races continue).

How can one develop healthy coping skills in the face of crisis? The best way is to not wait until there is a crisis. Don't wait until your health fails or until losing a precious job to develop healthier coping skills.

7 Steps to Developing Healthy Coping Skills
  1. Have a commitment to self-improvement.
  2. Have a mission and purpose to live for something greater than self, the betterment of humanity.
  3. Build a thriving community and a healthy family around you (even if it is not a traditional, nuclear family like you imagine in fairy tales).
  4. Develop a strong sense of self, making sure to place your self-worth and identity outside of people, gender roles and work/hobbies (which can and will change at any time). Knowing that you are loved unconditionally, and accepted unconditionally, by a power greater than yourself is a great start!
  5. Make self-care a priority: make sure that there is something left for you at the end of the day mentally, spiritually and physically.
  6. Set reasonable boundaries and expectations with self and others.
  7. Build routines with healthy outlets for stress (such as creative arts, exercise, mind-body activities like yoga and meditation).

Partnership for pH

by Angeline Pacy on 02/28/15

We hear a lot in the news media now about the body's pH. The heated debate surrounding the role of pH in the body (and how it may be altered therapeutically) within the integrative medical community is not a new concept; but in the traditional biomedical clinical setting, it's just beginning to show up on the radar in terms of patient outcomes. Never has such a fundamental principle in medicine, capable of impacting patient lives and reducing healthcare spending, been so overlooked in the clinical setting in exchange for wasted healthcare dollars. Impact potential is enormous because pH levels are associated with so many preventable illnesses. 

What is pH? As a clinician and patient, why should you care? How can becoming pH-conscious help you and your loved-ones maintain health and maximize your potential?
For starters, pH is a measurement, based upon a number scale of 1-14, that represents the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. On this pH scale, the number 7 is neutral; lower number values are acidic or stronger acids and numbers with values higher than 7 are more alkaline or stronger bases. 

The body must stay within a certain range of many different values in order to maintain balance or homeostasis. One of those important values is most certainly pH.  Interesting but not well acknowledged in this debate, different parts of the body have varying pH values. This delicate balance within various bodily fluids is known medically as acid–base homeostasis. A healthy pH of blood serum is at approximately 7.37, where as Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) can be measured at 7.5. Both being acids, gastric (stomach) juice has a pH value of 1 and urine a value of 6. 

Certain diseases and disease-states are associated with pH values that are out of range. As a culture, chronically-ill patients most often have a pH that is far too acidic in areas of the body that benefit from an alkaline environment. Unfortunately, routine tests for pH are typically limited to blood serum, ignoring other crucial areas of the body that better reflect both health and illness. In the clinical setting, patients are identified as acidic when blood pH falls below 7.3 and the condition is called Acidosis. In contrast, when the blood's pH is too high patients are diagnosed with Alkalosis. 

But are those standard blood tests accurately measuring systemic pH problems on a micro and macro level, biologically speaking, in time to prevent and heal disease? There are a series of biochemical changes that happen throughout the body that impact pH long before problems are detected by a basic blood test. 

For example, causes for changes within intracellular pH (within the body's cells) are politically charged, so you will likely not engage in a conversation with most biomedical clinicians on the topic of environmental stressors that impact pH; but regardless of the cause of pH changes, scientists have proven that pH can denature proteins. While an acidic stomach acid is perfect for denaturing proteins in digestion for maximum metabolism, it is crucial to protect other types of proteins in the body from acidity. For example, an overly acidic or alkaline environment jeopardizes delicate DNA/genes and ultimately alters genetic expression (resulting in disease onset and even new mutations).  
What does this means in terms of target therapies and disease prevention? Research shows that genomic expression and regulation are dependent upon several controllable factors. That means that DNA can be protected, not the least of which is through changing the pH of the intracellular (fluid) matrix that surrounds the DNA. A slight shift in intra-cellular pH can cause the onset of spontaneous and hereditary genetic mutations by denaturing DNA/proteins. Shifts in intracellular pH are known to activate genetic pre-dispositions in diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, initiating the disease process. This news can empower both patients and drug developers alike to focus on target therapies and life-style choices that prevent the denaturing of DNA/protein (especially pH). 

Inflammation and vasoconstriction are associated with a higher level of acidity in the body (low pH) too. Another disease-state commonly associated with an acidic body is epilepsy. The likelihood of seizures increases in magnitude many times over in an acidic body. Regardless of what came first, altered pH or inflammation, pH makes an excellent biomarker for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. 

What factors impact pH in the body? Most certainly diet has a fundamental impact upon the body's pH. A diet that is high in foods that create an acidic environment will lead to chronic illness and pathological states. I wish that I could tell everyone that it is really easy to determine which foods create an acidic body. As are many concepts in medicine, nothing is clearcut or straightforward. 

I remember a time when I was growing up, I was about 15 years old, when I had a very intellectual argument with my mother over this very commonly debated scientific topic. This topic surrounded the systemic outcome of ingesting raw apple cider vinegar. Vinegar, also known as acetic acid, is in fact exactly what it's name suggests; it is an acid. Despite that simple logic, my mother insisted that after ingesting this acid, it would have an over-all alkalinizing effect in the body. 

"Mom, how can that be," I questioned? "I just don't understand." 

A common denominator for altering pH involves the microbiome. Some microbes, fed by proper diet, create a more alkaline environment. In contrast, many pathogenic microbes and infections, including intracellular organisms, create an acidic environment. It turns out that my mother was right about the "mother colonies" found in raw apple cider vinegar. There are several components to raw vinegar, amongst them being living bacterial colonies (called "mother") and enzymes, that aid in creating a more alkalinizing body systemically. The mother colonies feed good bacteria and bring about a healing effect. 

This stands in stark contrast to acids found in beverages like colas, such as phosphoric acid, that create an environment so acidic in the blood that the pH changes leach calcium from the bones and teeth (in order to buffer the blood as a compensation method and bring it back into homeostasis). Diets high in acid-producing foods will lead to diseases like osteoporosis and tooth decay (as a result of this demineralization-buffer feedback loop). 

What is more, plaque, a type of living biofilm produced in the mouth after eating starchy and sugary foods, surrounds tooth enamel, creating a locally acidic environment that leads to tooth decay and dental carries. In this acidic environment, harmful bacteria flourish in the mouth to produce excessive plaque. Interestingly, this plaque in the mouth correlates to cardiovascular disease caused by another type of plaque in the arteries. It is this change in acid-base balance, produced by an unhealthy diet, that impacts bones and teeth on a systemic and local pathway and places patients at high-risk for heart disease!

All sorts of multi-system disregulation occurs in an acidic body because the low pH inactivates enzymes that are crucial for many biological functions. Metabolic processes are slowed down in an acidic environment through enzymatic deactivation. 

What other food choices produce the most acidic environments where pathogenic microbes, plaque and unhealthy DNA pathogenesis increases? The microbiome is negatively altered by diets overly dominant in grains, starches and sugar. The mechanisms by which the shift in pH happens is multi-factoral in nature but is centered around the types of flora and biofilms that are dependent upon simple sugars. In contrast, a diet rich low-glycemic fruits and vegetables, raw foods, protein, and healthy fats, leads to systemic pH homeostasis.

Long-term healthcare solutions addressing pH disregulation are crucial. Clinicians can actively engage in dialogs that empower patients to stay conscious of pH (systemically, not just in narrow terms of limited blood tests). Manufacturers can target drug development towards therapeutics addressing intracellular and systemic pH (including but not limited to bicarbonate salts) with improved delivery systems. pH-consciousness is the wave of the future in terms of health with great potential to reduce over-all healthcare spending.