Category Archives: Patty Shipley, RN, Naturopath

What Patty’s learning now

Tips for Avoiding Ticks

The nymph stage of ticks is most likely to transmit Lyme Disease because it evades detection and is able to stay attached longer. Many people don’t even know they’ve been bit by a nymph.

A combination of factors has experts predicting 2017 as a record year for Lyme infections.  A bumper crop of acorns in 2015 created a surge in mice and deer populations, two of the most common carriers of Lyme Disease (LD).  In northern climates, ticks are more likely to be hanging out on plants, poised to drop onto hikers or passers-by.  (In southern climates, ticks are more likely to hide out in leaf litter to stay cool.)

Already this year, I’ve personally had 3 ticks embedded and countless  “looking” (I live in the country and have 3 cats that like to “share” a variety of critters they come across).  Since I’ve increased my vigilance, I’ve not found any on myself that were embedded.

Many people are unaware they’ve been bit by a tick, in part because nymph stage ticks are as tiny as poppy seeds (see pic above).

These tiny ticks are more likely to transmit LD, since they’re not as easily found, so are more likely to stay attached longer, increasing the risk of transmission.

Some sources say it takes at least 6 hours after a tick embeds for LD to transmit, though most agree it’s closer to 24 hours—HOWEVER there are other infections that can be transmitted earlier, such as Powassan virus, an infection that is much more deadly than LD.  The only reason I’m NOT talking about specific types of ticks is that you really need to follow the same advice for avoiding ALL tick bites.

Many clients have asked for advice that doesn’t involve DEET. For those who don’t know, DEET is linked to damage in the central nervous system. Rodents given an exposure equivalent to typcial human use performed more poorly in sensorimotor testing than those who weren’t exposed.  DEET is known to inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase in the brain, an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine.  When acetylcholine isn’t broken down in a timely fashion, muscles are unable to relax, creating spasms, seizures, paralysis and other problems.

Instead of slathering yourself in chemicals, here are some tips for natural tick prevention:

  1.  Cover up when hiking. Wear long sleeves and pants, and tuck pants into socks to keep ticks from migrating up bare legs.
  2. Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to spot.
  3.  Lint rollers are a handy way to pick up ticks–carry one /with you on longer hikes and be sure to do a thorough tick check when back home.
  4.  Try a blend of essential oils.  There are many that work: citronella, geranium, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, pennyroyal and lemongrass.  Choose a blend that smells good to you and combine with water for a spray-on version, or oil or lotion for a rub-on version.
  5. Inspect dogs and cats after they’ve been outdoors before allowing them to enter the house. Usually a quick brushing will dislodge ticks that aren’t embedded, but a closer inspection will be required for those that are.
  6. Make your yard a haven for wildlife, such as squirrels, chipmunks and birds. These small critters will provide other food sources for ticks, and are not known to carry LD or as many other pathogencs that can be transmitted to humans.
  7. Consider keeping chickens, voracious eaters of ticks and other insects.
  8. Ticks prefer taller vegetation, so maintain mowed buffered zones.

If you do find an attached tick, it’s important to remove it properly, with mouth parts intact.  Grasp the tick close to the skin with tweezers or a specialized tick removal device (about $5 at most drug stores), and clean the site with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.  Do NOT squeeze the body of an engorged tick when removing.

To have the tick tested for infections for FREE, send it to Bay Area Lyme Foundation.  They’re conducting studies on ticks across the US, and this information helps them with their research and is only available for a limited time.

Be safe out there!

Guts, Genes and Gray Matter

Connecting the Dots between GI Health, Brain Function and Genetic Expression

A few weekends ago, I spent a day learning from Dr. Andrew Rostenberg, author of the website www.BeyondMTHFR.com.  Dr. Rostenberg has been using genetics to help his patients for several years, and his blog is a great resource for anyone wanting to more deeply understand and apply their genetic test results.

After a conference, I like to take some time to summarize what I’ve learned, which helps me retain more of the material, and allows me to archive it for later access, but the best part is that I get to share the information with all of you!

Why is an MTHFR mutation so impactful across so many body systems? 

Because it’s responsible for folate metabolism, which can influence the final form of ANY growing tissue due to its participation in nucleic acid synthesis and regulation of DNA and protein methylation.

Cleft palate, scoliosis and neural tube defects are all signs of improper methylation.

B vitamins are required all throughout the methylation pathways, as well as in the mitochondria of the cell, fueling energy metabolism.  The flip side of this is that bacteria and yeast also have a methylation cycle, so they also benefit from B-vitamins. Poor tolerance of added B vitamins can indicate a bacterial or yeast overgrowth in the gut. 

Bacteria in our gut manufactures many of our B vitamins, in part because they are also dependent on B vitamins. This is good to keep in mind when we see an elevation in folic acid on serum testing—it’s possible that bacterial production is the cause for elevation.  (I would also suspect it could come from processed foods, which are often enriched with folic acid—which BTW, doesn’t occur anywhere in nature—folic acid is a synthetic version of folate….folate occurs in foliage, aka dark, leafy greens/plants, which is what it’s named after.)

In humans, folate and other B vitamins are important for recycling of BH4 (tetrahydrobiopterin), an essential precursor to brain neurotransmitters.  Sufficient amino acids and balanced blood sugar are also critical in neurotransmitter production. Some patients experience increased anxiety with B vitamins because increasing intake can result in too many excitatory neurotransmitters being produced—this class of neurotransmitters are easier to make than serotonin (which is calming) and are harder to degrade and remove from our systems, thus the anxiety.

Why are Depression and Anxiety so Common?
  • Depression and anxiety risk increases with every antibiotic exposure because the 3 most important amino acids involved in neurotransmitter production are made by our gut flora (tyrosine, tryptophan and phenylalanine used to make catecholamines (aka “cats”) and serotonin). A healthy supply of these is needed for brain and mood balance. (To learn more about the balance between the “cats” and serotonin, check out my neurotransmitter notes from this lecture (scroll down a bit).
  • Pesticide and herbicide exposure shows a positive association with depression because our gut flora are metabolically similar to weeds and pests, so chemicals that target them will also have a negative impact on our gut flora. These chemicals are effective because they deprive their targets of manganese. Manganese is important for the production of energy (in our metabolism as well as the metabolism of gut flora), the production of SOD (the most important antioxidant inside cells), and to maintain healthy ligaments (just for us, not our flora).
  • MTHFR genetic errors increase the risk for depression by 400-500% because methylation is responsible for production and recycling of BH4, an enzyme that makes serotonin, dopamine and thyroid hormones (a deficiency in any of these can cause or contribute to depression and/or anxiety).
Stress Hormones and their Link to GI Issues

Stress produces catecholamines (adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol), which in turn uncouples iron from its binding proteins (lactoferrin and transferrin), allowing bacteria to hijack the body’s iron and use it for its own energy purposes, often resulting in chronic anemia.

The mammalian gut is extensively innervated with noradrenaline- and dopamine-containing sympathetic nerve terminals, which are distributed throughout the enteric (intestinal) nervous system. Half of all norepinephrine (aka noradrenaline, one of several catecholamines) releases into the GI tract, and catecholamines can cause RAPID pathogen growth…10,000% or more! This is why stress can cause digestive upset and even diarrhea.

Yet another reason stress has a negative impact on the gut is that adrenalin increases biofilm formation.  Biofilms are defensive slime layers microbes build around themselves to evade the immune system, one reason GI infections can often be difficult to resolve (dental plaque is a biofilm created by the bacteria in our mouths).

Episodes of low blood sugar are also very detrimental to digestion and health in general.  The body responds with an outpouring of adrenalin when blood sugar is low, which helps mobilize glucose out of storage (this is the same physiological response seen in a fight-flight stress response w all the same implications for digestion). The storage form of sugar that is used in this reaction is glucagon, and when glucagon is elevated, stomach acid secretion is inhibited, which also inhibits digestion and opens the door for microbes to survive digestion, since stomach acid should sterilize the food coming in.

The stress of running a marathon (or similar exhaustive exercise) raises glucagon to 4- or 5-fold normal concentrations.  Not only does this decrease stomach acid secretion with all the same implications as low blood sugar or fight-flight response, it also deprives the gut of circulation (think oxygenation and nutrition), sometimes resulting in “runner’s gut” which can also be seen in distance biking and other extended forms of exercise. The result can be extreme, such as severe diarrhea, or milder, producing ongoing GI issues.

Another function of stress impacting the GI tract is its inhibiting effect on secretory IgA, a type of antibody that protects against infection in the mucosal surfaces of the mouth, airways and digestive tract.  SIgA antibodies make up a majority of your immune system, and are important in protecting against, yeast, bacterial, viral and parasitic infections as well as cancer, and can help to lower inflammation.  As the immune response gets over-run, leaky gut results, which allows entry of undigested food and pathogens from the intestines into the bloodstream.  This can cause and contribute to autoimmunity and seasonal/environmental/food allergies and sensitivities.

Because stress causes vessel constriction, it reduces blood flow to the skin and organs, including the digestive tract.

Connecting the Dots in Digestive Health

A healthy stomach has a pH of about 3.0.  To put that in perspective, vinegar has a pH of 5.0, which is 100 times less acidic than a pH of 3.0. Acid in the stomach acts to increase the pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, which keeps the stomach acid in place, rather than allowing it to reflux up the throat.  Some people need to first address a hiatal hernia before restoring acidity to their GI tract.

A-fib is 21 times more common in patients with a hiatal hernia, because the hiatal hernia can have a direct mechanical effect of pressing against the heart.  Rarely does hiatal hernia truly require surgery. Many bodyworkers and chiropractors do manual manipulations that pull down the hiatal hernia and help restore function.

Data now shows the gut microbiota communicates with the central nervous system (CNS) through neural, endocrine and immune pathways, influencing brain function and behavior.  Supporting the right balance of flora with probiotics, fermented foods and restriction of refined carbohydrates and sugars are a critical part of addressing mood disorders, pain and impaired cognition.

A healthy microbiome has also been found to be critical for proper myelination of neurons (nerve cells) in the prefrontal cortex (think depression, MS, schizophrenia and autism).

Remember that stress lowers digestive secretion of acid, which is crucial for the next steps in digestion: pancreatic enzyme and bile secretion. Chronic deficiency of these digestive factors can lead to small intestine bacteria overgrowth (SIBO).  Other contributing factors are motility disorders, painkillers and ongoing alcohol consumption.

Bile acids emulsify cholesterol, dietary fat and fat-soluble vitamins, enabling their absorption. They also facilitate intestinal calcium absorption and modulate pancreatic enzyme secretion and cholecystokinin release, in addition to being potent antimicrobial agents that prevent bacterial overgrowth in the small bowel.

SNP (“snip”) Specifics

SNPs, or single nucleotide polymorphisms, are an amino acid substitution at a specific location on a gene. Genes are like recipes that tell the body what shape to make a protein.  Just like substituting an ingredient in a recipe will result in a different outcome, an amino acid substitution on a gene results in a protein that is shaped a little differently than it otherwise would be.  Everyone has SNPs, or genetic variants, and understanding your specific SNPs can help you be preventative, and even help you find your way back to health.  Dr. Rostenberg discussed some specific SNPs:

FUT2 gene errors can impair gut amino acid synthesis, and have been found to be strongly linked to difficulty absorbing B12 and other nutrients, as well as a decrease in the production of prebiotics (food for probiotics). Lysine and carnitine deficiency are commonly seen with those who have these SNPs. Lysine is needed for production of B6, so this is an additional commonality, and lysine deficiency can make one more prone to viral infections, since lysine inhibits viral replication.

Candida albicans release aldehydes and ethanol (ethanol is also found in drinking alcohols) as normal cellular byproducts.  These two compounds deplete B3, cofactors for ALDH, ADH and ALR genes and shut off methionine synthase (MTR), all of which are involved in the methylation pathways.

Oxalates are a plant self-defense mechanism that act as anti-nutrients when consumed by herbivores (plant-eaters). They do this by forming an insoluble calcium oxalate salt that can lead to kidney stones and calcium deficiency. Oxalates also inhibit SULT, UGT, MTHFR and NAT genes, and impair sulfation in phase II liver detox pathways.  Increasing calcium intake while eating oxalate-rich foods can prevent hyperoxaluria (high oxalates).  Those with fatty acid malabsorption (gallbladder removal or impaired digestion) may have an increased issue with oxalates, since fatty acids bind to calcium, leaving the oxalates to be absorbed in the colon.  High dose B6 (250-500 mg daily) has been shown to decrease the frequency of oxalate stone formation.  Dr. Rostenberg typically uses 5mg/kg/day of pyridoxine B6 for patients with high oxalates upon testing.

Further, pathogenic bacteria in the gut induce or aggravate metabolic stone disease, particularly the calcium oxalate type.  Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that antibiotics are seen to increase oxalate levels, while probiotics decrease oxalates, particularly B. Infantis, L. Plantarum and L. Brevis.

Be aware that stopping dietary oxalates too quickly can cause oxalate dumping symptoms: urination, night sweats, nausea, kidney pain.  If this occurs, increase fluids, calcium citrate and increase oxalates in the diet, then more slowly lower them once symptoms subside.

Neurotransmitter Notes:

Catecholamine neurotransmitters are considered “excitatory” brain messengers and are responsible for helping us feel focused, alert and energetic.  These are also the neurotransmitters involved in fight-flight responses.

Symptoms of low catecholamines: food cravings, addictions, substance abuse, anger, impulsivity, high risk behaviors and excessive sleepiness.

Symptoms of high catecholamines: schizophrenia, aggression/violence, delirium, anxiety/panic/worry, tachycardia, high blood pressure, insomnia, paranoia, chronic pain.

Serotonin is an “inhibitory” or calming and uplifting brain messenger.

Symptoms of low serotonin: violence, aggression, depression, apathy, lack of pleasure, suicide, high risk behaviors, chronic fatigue, anorexia/cravings, low libido and interrupted sleep.

Symptoms of high serotonin: mania, agitation, hyperreflexia, excess sweating, fever, shaking, diarrhea.

Dopamine deficiency symptoms can occur with normal dopamine and high serotonin. Serotonin deficiency symptoms can occur w/low serotonin or high dopamine.

High serotonin is only seen in 1% of individuals tested.

Histamine and serotonin are both released in type 1 basophil and mast cell responses.

Dopamine has no built-in braking system like serotonin does and it’s harder to clear from the system once it’s made.  Those with COMT errors will clear dopamine even more slowly, and SNPs on this gene are associated with poor memory and learning. Every antipsychotic drug works on dopamine.

Glyphosates (found in Roundup) not only kill off our friendly flora, they bind minerals needed to make the 3 aromatic amino acids (tyrosine, tryptophan and phylalanine) needed to make catecholamines and serotonin.

Insulin’s Impact on Neurotransmission:

High levels of insulin push higher amounts of tryptophan and tyrosine into the brain, competing with access by branched chain amino acids’.  (High insulin is common in type 2 diabetes, and also results from eating too many quickly releasing carbohydrates.)

Low levels of insulin and insulin-resistance increase glucagon, which inhibits tyrosine and tryptophan from entering the brain.

Taking branched chain amino acids lowers brain tryptophan uptake and serotonin synthesis, as well as tyrosine uptake and dopamine synthesis, so athletes with mood disorders should beware.

Supplementation of tyrosine lowers serotonin, and supplementation of tryptophan lowers dopamine.

Tryptophan has functions in the body other than the production of serotonin, and it’s becoming increasingly scarce in our food supply.  Additionally, B3 is needed to make tryptophan, so yeast overgrowth, which depletes B3 to clear the aldehyde byproducts they produce, can result in low serotonin.

MAO-A enzymes have a much higher affinity for breaking down serotonin when the body is inflamed.

The following compounds compete for clearance from the body: adrenaline, dopamine, histamine, estrogens, acetaldehyde and aldehyde.

To stabilize mast cells: SPM Active given 2 TID for 1 bottle, then 2 BID for 1 bottle then 2 QD thereafter

Key products for oxalates: bone builder vegetarian 1 tab 5 min before meals/snacks containing oxalates

Trancor 2 TID or Lipo-gen 2 TID

Sulfuroclear 2 tabs BID
UF Intensive care 2 tabs QD

Metagest 1-7 tabs after meals

Low catecholamines:

vessel care 2 tabs BID for cranky and high homocysteine

Blisphora 1 tab BID for low or normal homocysteine

Glycogenics 2 tabs BID for sarcopenia

Serosyn 1 tab TID

SJW w/folate and B12 1-4 tabs QD

Ultra Meal advanced protein, 2 scoops BID

High catecholamines:

Trancor, 2 tabs TID if anxious

Glutaclear, 2 tabs BID

Serosyn 1 tab TID

Benesom, 1-4 tabs QD, 10 min before bed

After gut is improved, look at mitochondrial support, detox and vitamins (don’t use before or you feed bad gut bacteria too)

Mitovive 1 scoop QD

Nutragems COQ10 300 1 cap QD

MetaLipoate 300 1 cap BID

Ceralin forte 3 tabs QD

B-vitamins

Glutaclear 2 tabs BID

Sulfuroclear 2 tabs BID

Silymarin 1 tab TID

Advacearl 1 tab TID

Success with CBD Oil

We’ve been using CBD oil now for about 4 months, and I can honestly say I wish we’d had access to this years ago! Because I’m so excited about the success we’re having, I put together this quick update for you – including testimonials from CBD oil patients as well as a quick rundown of the dosage for the conditions we’re seeing benefit most.

I can’t emphasize enough what a difference CBD oil has made for some of my patients. Take a look below at the testimonials and dosing info I’ve put together.  Also be sure to check out The ABCs of CBD – an earlier post introducing the basics of CBD oil.

Conditions and Dosage

Even though dosing is very specific to each person (not to the condition treated), we’re starting to get a feel for timing of the doses, and which products to use, depending on the goal of treatment.

Here are the conditions we’ve seen the most consistent benefit for plus tips on when, what and how to dose:

Anxiety / Social Anxiety
  • When to dose: Daytime dose as well as evening/bedtime dosing seems to work best.
  • How and what to dose: We typically have patients start with the 3 mg spray and feel their way with how much and how often to dose (see more tips on timing of doses below).  For severe anxiety, some patients need to add in a gold product.
Depression
  • When to dose: Most patients do best in the evening, starting around 4-5 pm.
  • How and what to dose: 2-3 doses. We recommend starting with the 3 mg green product and adding a gold product if needed
Cravings
  • When to dose: If anxiety, depression, pain and/or insomnia are also present, use the dosing guidelines for those symptoms; otherwise, experiment.
  • How and what to dose: Start with a 1-3 mg green product and aim for 2-6 doses per day
Insomnia
  • When to dose: Start around 4-5 pm and try to get 3 doses in, with the last one at bedtime. This will get ahead of the “second wind” most insomnia patients experience leading up to bedtime.
  • How and what to dose: Green products seem to work best for sleep. Most patients do best with the 3 mg spray, though some who require 6-8 sprays prefer the 10 mg capsule, 1-2 capsules 30 minutes before bed.
Pain
  • When to dose: Twice daily (am/pm) for gold gels. Green product should be dosed based on any symptoms from above, or experiment if none are present. We also have syringe applicators that allow for more metered, specific dosing.
  • How and what to dose: For severe pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, we typically start patients on a 15 mg gold gel cap taken alongside the 1 mg green spray. Liquid gold products are also available, and these would be titrated up based on response. Gold and green balm can be quickly effective in most cases applied topically. We have sample sizes so you can see how it works for you before purchasing – just ask!
Smoking Cessation
  • When to dose: We recommend switching to American Spirit cigarettes to withdraw first from the added chemicals in conventional cigarettes, then advance to nicotine vape and step down the nicotine dose gradually as cravings become more manageable.
  • How and what to dose: Liquid CBD designed for vaping works best. Start with a low dose and increase slowly; experiment with the ratio of CBD to nicotine based on your symptoms and cravings. Vaping CBD will also help with the other symptoms listed above and it works more quickly than other methods.

Additional Tips for Dosing

Everyone has to find their own best dose. Simply start low and go slow…advancing the dose every day or so, while observing for improvement with your symptoms. As a general rule, I recommend starting with 1-2 sprays 1-2 times daily.

If you tend to be a very sensitive person, you should start w/the lowest dose you feel comfortable with, and advance as slowly as you need to until you feel significantly better (with whatever symptoms you’re targeting).

Some people report feeling agitated if they dose too high, while others report feeling very sleepy. Your response will help you determine what time of day is best to dose yourself, and what dose will work best. The best dose will feel noticeably calming, and if taken near bedtime, will make you feel sleepy.

Because the green products contain the whole plant, while the gold products only contain a few of the plant components, we encourage the use of at least the 1 mg green product alongside any gold product for synergistic effect. Whenever you isolate out components of a plant, you leave behind other compounds that can amplify the action.

When taking CBD orally, be sure to hold it in your mouth for 20 seconds before swallowing.

Peppermint and unflavored options are available. Some people find peppermint to be stimulating, and do better with the unflavored for anxiety or insomnia. The unflavored oil tastes earthy and sweet.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the type and/or dose of product for your specific situation and goals.

Testimonials

Check out what these patients had to say about their experience with CBD oil.

I have rheumatoid arthritis and was prescribed 3 oral medications and Humira injections, the combination of which helped about 80%. My rheumatologist wanted to add another medication, but I decided to seek help from Patty Shipley at Leaves of Life. She suggested I do a detox and eat a gluten free diet along with specific supplements (for deficiencies discovered with testing), and CBD. It seemed far fetched for me but I can honestly say that after just one week of this combined approach, I was completely pain free and am now weaning off my medications.

– Brenda F., Leaves of Life patient

I knew I needed to give up sugar but I ‘d been dreading it. It just seemed too big a hurdle. When I started taking CBD oil, my initial reason was for helping with sleep (which it did) but the big bonus came after I had only been taking CBD for about a week and I gave up sugar like it was no big deal. Patty says it helped to balance my brain so that I could get past the sugar addiction. Even though I only take a “hummingbird dose” (1mg per day), that was apparently all I needed.

– Karen Riggs, Office Manager at Leaves of Life

4 years ago I injured my back and ended up on pain pills that I became addicted to. After taking suboxone to get off the pain pills, I then had to get off the suboxone, which helps you emotionally, so stopping it can be difficult. Prior to starting CBD, I changed my diet and was taking supportive nutrients to balance my brain, which had helped me come off multiple addictions: junk food, cigarettes (switched to vape), caffeine, sugar and gluten. I started using CBD oil for pain, but I tried the capsules, the gel caps, the liquid, and even the balm without success. Then Patty had me try the CBD vape oil, and minutes after vaping it the first time, I could feel pain relief. It took some experimenting to figure out the best dose for me which is a little bit in the morning, afternoon and evening. Too much definitely makes me sleepy. After about 2 weeks, I noticed feeling more emotionally balanced, and that i needed less nicotine. I’m now working my way down on the amount of nicotine I vape and how often. CBD has literally been life-changing for me!

– Levi H., Leaves of Life patient

I’m a 43-year-old mother of 2, and have been dealing with chronic joint and body pain for several years. I would often get shooting pains up my leg, and my feet and elbow joints were sometimes unbearably painful. The pain interfered with sleep and definitely affected my quality of life. When Patty recommended CBD, I was concerned it would get me high, but after doing some research I decided to try it. I am now pain-free for the first time in years and sleeping through the night!

– Audrey D., Leaves of Life Patient