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BHRT: Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy, How to Test & Treat Imbalances, and More…

By editor - Posted on 18 April 2014

Note: The following blog is rather extensive. It contains most of the basic information you need regarding female and male hormones (both bio-identical hormones and the regular/conventional hormones), including how to properly test and balance them in order to prevent as well as treat a variety of hormone-related conditions such as menopause, hormonal cancers, cardiovascular disease, etc. This blog also briefly covers a few other miscellaneous hormone-related topics including thyroid hormone imbalance, infertility, the role sex hormones play in osteoporosis, the popular over-the-counter hormone DHEA, and more.

I recently had the fortune of attending a 4-day symposium in San Francisco taught by the most famous and credible doctors in the country and possibly the world on the subject of BHRT (Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy) or “natural” hormones (as opposed to the conventional synthetic ones). Consequently, I decided to summarize some of the practical tips offered at this symposium for you all, in hopes that you will gain a deeper understanding of this most important subject.

One of the most noteworthy subjects that was covered at this symposium was that, to say the least, women going through menopause (or women who are post menopausal or experiencing other hormonally-related problems) and men going through andropause (or men experiencing other hormonally-related problems) should have their hormones tested using a comprehensive URINE or SALIVARY (NOT BLOOD) hormone test to make certain the proper RATIO (THIS IS KEY) of “steroid" hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, DHEA, DHT, and all their metabolites) are present in their body. Specifically there are various types of estrogen, some are considered to be definitely “protective” which balance the other types of estrogen that may be more questionable when out of balance.

To give you a bit of a background on the subject, naturopathic doctors and even some (although in the minority) alternative-minded medical doctors and other health care practitioners who are interested in more of a natural approach to hormone balancing have for years been recommending BHRT (Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy) instead of the regular “medical HRT” (HRT stands for Hormone Replacement Therapy) which are synthetic horse-derived hormones (such as Premarin, Provera, and Prempro).

A bit more history…. Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a wide-scale study conducted nearly 10 years ago, associated the use of medical HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) with various types of female cancers and cardiovascular disease among other diseases. Since then, many doctors are concerned about prescribing female hormones, and many patients are fearful of taking such hormones. The problem here is that the hormones studied were animal-derived (specifically horse) synthetic hormones, NOT bio-identical hormones (which are identical to human hormones, molecule by molecule). Medical HRT used in the Women’s Health Initiative contained synthetic progesterone called “progestins”, and synthetic estrogen also known as “conjugated estrogens”. It is critical to note that no studies so far over the last nearly couple of decades seem to have associated BHRT (Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy) with increased risk of cancer or other diseases. In fact, many BHRT studies prove that such natural hormones are often necessary for their health promoting properties.
(An interesting side note: Researchers have found that synthetic progesterone, called progestins, block the beneficial effects of the women's own healthy estrogens in their body.)

To make matters more complicated, there are a variety of views among NDs (Naturopathic Doctors) on the subject of BHRT. Some NDs are against BHRT, probably for similar reasons as the public since they are basing their opinions on the Women’s Health Initiative research study which was conducted close to 10 years ago, proving that “medical HRT” or horse-derived hormones (as opposed to BHRT, which are natural hormones) was definitely risky business, and women should ideally not be using hormones. Other NDs just don’t believe there is anything “natural” about any kind of hormone replacement therapy even BHRT since hormones are powerful chemicals, versus more gentle therapies such as herbs or nutrients. However, there is yet another class of NDs who have and continue to promote the use of BHRT. It is for this very reason I attended the latest BHRT symposium recently, to learn more about all the latest actual scientific research findings on the subject. And, sure enough, there has been plenty of work done on the subject by the scientific community literally worldwide on the subject of BHRT over the last number of years since the Women’s Health Initiative (which again condemned HRT, the synthetic horse-derived hormones) trying to shed light on the above dilemma- “Is BHRT also bad for us, like HRT?”
The short answer is “no, BHRT is not bad. In fact, BHRT is often necessary for disease prevention as well as treatment in both genders.”

So far in my practice, I have prescribed BHRT (FYI, hormones are prescription items, even the natural ones) to some of my female patients who were clearly suffering from menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain, hair loss, fatigue, poor libido, etc. Based on the research that has been done over the last nearly couple of decades, BHRT can be effectively used for treatment of a variety of other conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, brain fog, poor memory, osteoporosis, migraines, urinary incontinence, and even a lung disorder such as COPD.

There are three types of human estrogens: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). However, there is only one type of progesterone, and one type of testosterone. Note, however, that estrogen, progesterone and testosterone break down to various chemicals in the body known as their “metabolites”.

In order to share information on the safety of BHRT (or natural hormones), I would like to site one large scale study here. The Fournier study conducted in 2007 involved 80,377 postmenopausal women. There was no increase or decrease in breast cancer in women on estradiol and progesterone (both being “good” human hormones). However, the women on E2 (“good” human estrogen) plus Provera (the “bad” animal derived progesterone) had 69% increase in risk of breast cancer. This study clearly illustrates the difference between natural or bio-identical progesterone and the animal-derived type of progesterone called Provera which is a type of progestin. Clearly, the bio-identical kind was proven to be safe, and the animal-derived type did not.

Specifically, progestins (the “bad” progesterone) negatively impact our cholesterol profile and brain health, and cause a variety of other side effects including breast tenderness, bloating, increased appetite, decreased libido, acne, hair loss, depression, insomnia and irritability.

Progesterone (which is what human beings, even men, have in their bodies), on the other hand, helps our heart to receive better blood flow, has protective effects on the brain, increases metabolic rate (causing weight loss), promotes sleep, is calming, and can act as an anti-depressant. Progesterone has always been considered a “protective” female hormone, so this is not new information.

I would specially like to point out that horse progesterone (found in various hormonal methods of birth control including the pill) can cause depression, but human progesterone is known to have an antidepressant effect on women. I have seen many patients who once they stop birth control pills, their depression lifts! (Refer to the Birth Control page on my site for actual patient videos where patients share their negative experiences with birth control pills.)

Numerous studies have recently shown that in addition to human progesterone, human estrogen (i.e. natural, bio-identical estrogen) may also reduce the risk of various diseases including various female cancers and heart disease. The way human estrogen therapy can help protect against various types of cancers is by balancing the various types of estrogens. Heart disease risk has been shown in studies to be reduced by 50% in postmenopausal women.

Some opponents of hormone replacement therapy assert that with the aging process, most (if not all) of our hormones decline. They say that it is “natural” to get old and have lesser amounts of hormones in our bodies. That is certainly true. We can also say, however, that it is natural to die at some point as you age. And, that is true too. However, it is certainly an option to BALANCE your hormones so that you age in a healthy way. If your body is desperate for some particular type of hormone (which you can find out by a comprehensive hormone panel), I not only don’t believe it would be hurtful to take that hormone as a prescription medicine, I actually believe it would be highly beneficial to do so. And, so the research says.

Some proponents of hormone replacement therapy say that WE AGE BECAUSE OUR HORMONES DECLINE, OUR HORMONES DON’T DECLINE BECAUSE WE AGE. Although aging does decrease our hormones, we can prevent the acceleration of this process, and potentially even increase our hormone levels by various means, including exercise, proper diet, indicated supplements, and BHRT (Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy).

The efficiency and safety of long-term use of hormone prescriptions (i.e BHRT) should be confirmed using periodic URINE or SALIVARY hormone tests as opposed to BLOOD tests. Conventional medical practitioners have so far ordered blood tests to measure the levels of our sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. However, we are finding that blood tests of our sex hormones do not reveal values that are reliable indicators of the actual levels of these hormones in our entire body. Urine and salivary tests, however, do seem to provide rather accurate estimation of the levels of these hormones in our body. Urine sex hormone testing provides more information that salivary; specifically the urine testing shows all the steroid hormones and their metabolites (breakdown by-products), but the salivary testing does not show the metabolites which is necessary information for proper treatment. Therefore, I would recommend the urine steroid hormone testing over the salivary one. (Note that with the cortisol test, in particular, we can still use the salivary test which is very accurate.)

It is very important to note that since bio-identical hormones (women’s as well as men’s) are literally identical (molecule by molecule) to our own innate human hormones, they can NOT be patented. Any substance found in nature (or identical to it) cannot be patented by pharmaceutical companies because they did not invent the chemical formula for that hormone-- they merely copy the blueprint nature has already provided for them. However, if a drug company chemically modifies a hormone's structure in a unique fashion, or develops a new formulation/system for a unique delivery method of a hormone, that company may apply for a patent for that drug. If their newly-created drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and their patent is accepted, they may then profit solely from the drug's manufacture for a number of years before other companies can create generic or brand-name equivalents. In this light, it is clear why BHRT is not yet widely accepted by the conventional establishment.

In all fairness, I should point out that it is true that sometimes drug companies modify a particular formulation found in nature to make it more effective. Sadly, that is not the case with hormones. Modifying human hormones does not seem to make them more effective- it makes them more toxic and dangerous. And, using horse hormones is clearly a very obvious tactic (definitely an inhumane one) that drug companies have used to make profit.

You may be interested to hear that over 95% of the attendees at this recent BHRT symposium in San Francisco were actually medical doctors, and there were only a few naturopathic doctors present in the audience. Among the audience, there were MDs from various sub-specialities, including OBGYN. Therefore, it seems that more and more conventional practitioners are joining the BHRT movement which is wonderful since we truly must put an end to the barbarian perspective on HRT for women, i.e. the use of horse-derived hormones which we have seen can kill or seriously harm women.

The lecturers at this symposium were all medical doctors, some of which are internationally known for their work in the field of hormones. They shared the latest research on the subject, coming out of many countries, including United States. The latest research clearly shows the beneficial effects of BHRT on both genders.

More details on the different forms of estrogen (be it the form that is found in our bodies or the form that we can take as medicine). Again, there are three types of estrogen: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3).

Estrone (E1) itself has three subtypes: 2 hydroxyestrone (2OH) E1, 4 hydroxyestrone (4OH) E1, and 16 alpha hydroxy (16aOH) E1.

Estrone (E1) is the form that we want to control as far as metabolism. This is a complex biochemical issue but all we need to understand from our physical and health standpoint is how to limit the 4OH-E1 and the 16aOH-E1.

The 2OH-E1 is benign in the body and is not linked with diseases like cancer and metastases. In fact, the 2OH-E1 is considered to be a “good” estrogen. MTHF (methylated form of folic acid), omega 3’s, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, DIM, and cruciferous vegetables increase the levels of 2OH-E1 in our body.

The 16aOH-E1 is mutagenic (can alter DNA unfavorably, and has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women), but we can further its metabolism and excretion into a benign substance by supplying enough B-vitamins and "methyl donors". These methyl donors are nutrients that we can increase through supplementation which allow the 16aOH-E1 to become the benign form at a much higher rate and percentage. You see if we ingest enough of these "methyl donors" we push the metabolism of the 16aOH-E1 further to the good "estriol" (E3). So to highlight this very important point, even though the 16aOH-E1 is not considered to be a “good” estrogen, it can sometimes be used by the body to convert to a “good” kind of estrogen, E3 (refer to the estriol or E3 paragraph below).

In men, higher levels of 16aOH-E1 has been correlated with higher prostate cancer risk.

The 4OH-E1 is carcinogenic in the breast (male and female breast) and mutagenic as is the 16aOH-E1. The great thing here is that although this sounds complex, we once again need to SIMPLY ingest more "methyl donors" and antioxidants into our diet. When we do this, the "methylated" form of 4OH-E1 (4-hydroxyesterone) becomes 4-methoxyestrone and is benign once again.

So the two “bad” subtypes of esterone (E1) are the metabolites 4OH-E1, and 16aOH-E1. Methylators allow the metabolism of both of these mutagenic and carcinogenic substances to their benign end-point which are then excreted from the body.

what are these methylators? Here they are:

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine)
Folic Acid
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) or Di-indolmethane (DIM)

Estradiol (E2) is the most potent female hormone and the one that we would like to limit from excess production. Estradiol is about 10 times as potent as estrone (E1) and about 80 times as potent as estriol (E3) in its estrogenic effect. E2 is the predominant estrogen during reproductive years both in terms of absolute serum levels as well as in terms of estrogenic activity. During menopause, E1 is the predominant circulating estrogen and during pregnancy E3 is the predominant circulating estrogen in terms of serum levels. Estradiol is also present in males, being produced as an active metabolic product of testosterone. The serum levels of estradiol in males are roughly comparable to those of postmenopausal women. Estradiol has not only a critical impact on reproductive and sexual functioning, but also affects other organs, including the bones.

Estriol (E3) is considered to be a more desirable form of estrogen; it is less active than estradiol (E2), so when it occupies the estrogen receptor it effectively blocks estradiol's strong "grow" signals. E3 is 80 times weaker than E2, and offers breast cancer protection. E3 can control menopausal symptoms without causing uterine lining growth. It can also help increase bone density in women. E3 suppositories work nearly 100% effectively in helping with vaginal dryness that is such a widespread problem particularly among post-menopausal women. The stronger form of estrogen (E2) can be converted into the weaker form of estrogen (E3) without using drugs. Using a natural substance (IC3 or DIM), researchers have been able to increase the conversion of E2 to E3.

Can you figure out your risk of breast cancer? Well, there are definitely ways that have been proposed for this purpose. One such way is what is known as the estrogen quotient (EQ) which was developed by Dr. Henry Lemon. EQ can be calculated with the results of the levels obtained from 24 hour urine hormone testing. Remember E3 is a “good” estrogen. “More E3 means less cancer risk. Estriol (E3) appears to block many of the effects of estradiol (E2), estrone (E1), and other “pro-carcinogenic” estrogens. So how do you find out if your body is producing enough estriol to protect you from cancer? You calculate your EQ. Dr. Lemon tested estriol along with estrone and estradiol by having women collect their urine for 24-hours, then measuring the hormone levels in the specimens. It’s still done the same way, although some changes in the actual testing equipment have made the process a lot easier. Even though you’ll need to collect all your urine for a 24-hour period, only a small amount is actually mailed in for testing. If you haven’t gone through menopause yet, and you have a menstrual cycle that follows the typical 28-day pattern, pick a 24-hour period between days 19 and 23 of your cycle (day 1 being the first day of menstrual bleeding) to collect your sample. If you’ve already gone through menopause, you can collect your sample anytime. Once you send your sample back to the lab, it generally takes about two to three weeks to get your results. When your results arrive, you’ll see all of your different hormone levels listed. The ones we’re most concerned with for determining breast cancer risk via the EQ are E1, E2, and E3. Remember, it’s not the absolute amount of E3 that appears to be the most important number but the relative amount of E3 compared with the sum of E2 and E1. In mathematical terms, it looks like this: EQ= E3 / (E2 + E1).

If the ratio of your estrogens is out of balance, you can of course help correct the ratio by various means including BHRT (i.e. by taking various hormones via pills or creams, or other methods of administration) or even more simple supplements including the SSKI. SSKI is a solution that combines iodine and potassium. It’s the iodine that works to boost the EQ: Iodide (and iodine) reliably promote the metabolism of estrone and estradiol into estriol (the “good” estrogen). The typical dose is six to eight drops of SSKI mixed in several ounces of water daily for two to three months. Then repeat your test, doing the 24-hour urine collection at the same time of the month as your first one. More likely than not, your follow-up EQ will be above 1.0-sometimes considerably above. If it is, try tapering down the SSKI to the smallest amount that helps you maintain your EQ at 1.0 or above. Some women find that they only need one drop a day, though others need more. On rare occasion, long-term use of larger quantities of SSKI may cause thyroid suppression. Thyroid blood tests should definitely be ordered if taking SSKI.” (Dr. Jonathan Wright, MD)

A question that comes up quite often is that “should women who have had their uterus removed take natural progesterone?” Most conventional medical doctors have so far believed that there is no need for progesterone if the woman has no uterus. However, we know that there are progesterone receptors on every cell in the body, not just in the uterus. And, women, even those without a uterus, seem to benefit greatly from this safe female hormone.

Hormone balancing for men…. should men be concerned about their sex hormones? The answer is Yes. Andropause (mens’ menopause) is associated with testosterone deficiency. Testosterone deficiency has the various signs and symptoms: Increased aging and functioning of the heart, increased brain aging, loss of drive and competitive edge, stiffness and pain in muscles and nerves, falling level of fitness, decreased effectiveness of workouts, less muscle & more fat, osteoporosis, anemia, fatigue, depression, mood changes, irritability, and reduced libido and potency.

How about using testosterone as a medicine? If you have followed the media recently, you have probably heard all the news on how administration of testosterone can have hazardous health consequences. A few pointers here are: First, if you (men or women) are using testosterone, it should definitely be the bio-identical kind. Some of the conventional forms of testosterone (which are not bio-identical) have been associated with an increase in liver cancer, and potentially other diseases. Second, if you are on testosterone (man or woman), the levels of the female hormones should be optimized/balanced. Otherwise, higher than normal levels of testosterone (without the estrogen levels being balanced) can have negative side effects. Specifically, in order for testosterone to work well, estradiol (E2) must be optimized. Third, the recent studies that have shown testosterone therapy having negative health consequences appear to have been poorly designed. (This discussion is beyond the scope of this blog.)

If you are a man, you might be wondering “does testosterone therapy cause prostate cancer?” The answer is “no”. There is no evidence testosterone therapy causes prostate cancer. In fact, low testosterone is more highly associated with prostate cancer.

DHT (dihydrotestosterone) may be thought of as the “bad” testosterone since too much DHT has a variety of side effects such as hair loss, BPH (enlarged prostate), AND CAN EVEN PUT MEN AT RISK FOR PROSTATE CANCER. Therefore, men should have their DHT as well as their testosterone levels checked.

A particular hormone that many of you might not have heard of is DHEA. DHEA can be found as a supplement in health food stores. Since DHEA is a precursor to our sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone), some people wrongly believe that by taking this supplement, their sex hormone deficiencies may become corrected. Even though the above thought is partially true, you most definitely can’t expect this supplement to provide much of the actual hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Note that lower than normal amounts of DHEA has been associated with cardiovascular disease among other conditions. Therefore, you should know your DHEA levels, and correct any deficiencies by supplementation.

An interesting side note is that for optimal levels of libido (i.e. sex drive), men need optimal levels of estrogen (in particular E2), and women need optimal levels of testosterone.

The method of administration of the hormones matters, and has evolved through the years. It turns out that for progesterone, the oral as well as the cream form are both considered effective. However, for estrogen, researchers have found that the topical route (as opposed to oral) is the preferred method of use. Therefore, if you have been taking oral estrogen (in any form, in particular in the estradiol form), it’s advisable to switch to the topical form. The wrong hormones and the wrong method of administration can cause adverse effects. Therefore, if you have not been in to see your naturopathic doctor (or whoever has recommended your BHRT protocol), you should definitely make an appointment to have 1) your hormones checked and analyzed 2) make sure you are taking your BHRT in the right form (cream versus pill).

Note that transdermal (or skin) absorption slowly declines over time. However, mucous membrane absorption will stay good over time. The recommended areas for application of some BHRT formulations for both genders are mucous membranes, the labia/vaginal area for women and the anus for men. You should discuss this subject further with your doctor.

Should you take BHRT all month long without interruption? Recent findings suggest that it’s wise for women to take a break from BHRT a few days a month. The reason is that during women's menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone fluctuate. It’s recommended that you take progesterone the 2nd half of the cycle if you are still menstruating (and ideally avoid taking it for 1-2 weeks out of the month if you are not menstruating). Note that some women feel that they need to take progesterone most of the month. If that is the case, you should definitely consult with your doctor. Additionally, it’s recommended that women take a few days off of their estrogen use, say the first few days of the month. This recommendation is based on the idea of copying nature. With men, they don’t have the fluctuations, their testosterone tends to be at a steady level the entire month. Therefore, testosterone administration does not have to vary throughout the month.

A critical subject to discuss at this point is that whether you are on any hormone replacement therapy or not (but specially if you are), and regardless of your gender, you should definitely be on a liver cleansing/detoxification protocol advised by your alternative health practitioner (as most MDs do not believe in organ detoxification yet despite overwhelming evidence for the existence of toxins in out environment). The reason is that excess hormones get cleansed out of the body by the liver, and a poorly functioning liver will not be able to properly eliminate excess hormones, some of which may be hazardous to your health as discussed above. And, remember just detoxifying the liver for two weeks every six months or a year is not sufficient. If on BHRT, or if suffering from any chronic diseases at all, or if interested in preventing any chronic diseases in general, at least a few weeks of liver (and ideally even intestinal and kidney detox) out of every single season is an MUST for health maintenance. Lastly, milk thistle which is well known herb for its ability to cleanse the liver is NOT the most effective way of doing liver cleansing. (Discuss your various options with your ND.)

Let’s further discuss the subject of birth control methods as it is completely relevant to the subject of this blog. Most NDs as well as other alternative minded practitioners including wholistic MDs do not recommend the use of birth control methods of any kind including the pill, hormonal IUD or the DEPO shot. We should discuss a few additional reasons as to why such hormonal interventions are hazardous to women’s health:

WOMEN ARE NOT HORSES, THEY ARE HUMANS! It simply does not make any sense for women to take horse hormones. Aside from the fact that horse-derived hormones are difficult for our liver to process, and thus can create havoc in our digestive system, they have also been shown to definitely cause various forms of cancers in women. Something you don’t hear much about, however, is that taking birth control pills can cause women’s LIBIDO TO DECLINE, and this side effect can in some cases be IRREVERSIBLE! The mechanism by which this occurs is the following:

Birth control pills increase what are known as SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulins) which lower women’s testosterone levels. Lower testosterone levels are associated with poor libido, vaginal atrophy and pain. If you happen to have suffered from this complication, a possible solution is to 1) stop the birth control medication (be it oral or IUD or shot) 2) consider testosterone injections.

Are there natural hormonal methods (such as BHRT) for birth control? No. No human hormones can stop pregnancy from happening. Only horse hormones can stop humans from getting pregnant. The only “natural” methods include the mechanical methods of birth control such as the condom, diaphragm, non-hormonal IUD, or any combination of the above.

Even if you are the type of individual who is 100% against taking any hormones (even after reading this blog so far), you should still consider doing the 24 hour urine hormone test anyway. Again, you will find out which hormones may potentially be deficient. And, you can help correct those deficiencies or hormone imbalances by other non-hormonal means such as consuming cruciferous vegetables, or taking various supplements such as B vitamins, DIM, or iodine/iodide (SSKI) discussed above. Note that you can also help increase LOW estrogen levels by taking vitamin A, boron (which is a mineral), and spearmint or mint tea. Mint in some studies has been shown to decrease testosterone levels in men. Does this mean men shouldn't drink mint tea since it might increase their estrogen levels and decrease their testosterone levels (the opposite of what they would ideally want), or should women not drink mint tea regularly since it can potentially elevate their estrogen levels to excess putting them at risk for various cancers? I don’t believe we can answer these questions conclusively at this point (due to lack of large scale studies), but based on some information from a few studies, it is advisable to avoid daily and regular consumption of mint tea in the U.S. due to our estrogenic Western diet.

How about infertility? If you happen to be infertile (a man or woman), doing a urine or salivary hormone test is absolutely critical. Do not just rely on the conventional blood tests in this case. Additionally, if you are interfile, you should also do a hair mineral test to find out how well you are absorbing nutrients from your diet. Often ladies who are labeled infertile become pregnant by just having their thyroid and/or sex hormones balanced the right way. (A completely different side note: I have successfully treated a number of female patients with complaint of infertility using diet and homeopathic remedies alone. You can google this subject if you are interested.)

How about testing your adrenal glands (which synthesize cortisol)? In this case, a urinary or salivary test may be ordered. Blood testing of cortisol levels is basally completely useless unless you have extremely rare disorders of the adrenal glands known as Addison’s or Cushing’s disease. The point that is of significant importance here is that the conversion of T4 to T3 is inhibited by cortisol (hormone of stress), sugar, organ dysfunction, inflammation, and fasting. So, if your thyroid numbers are not within optimal range, you may benefit from balancing your adrenal glands to lower the cortisol levels (again because cortisol negatively impacts our T4 to T3 conversion).

Since we are discussing the various hormones, it seems relevant to also touch upon the thyroid gland even though the thyroid hormones are not “steroidal” hormones (sex hormones as well as cortisol are called steroid hormones.) it’s noteworthy to mention that to have a through view of your thyroid gland function, you should definitely have your doctor order more than just the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test which is often the ONLY thyroid test that is ordered by most conventional doctors. You should have the following tests included in your thyroid panel of tests: free T3, free T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies (anti-TPO and anti-TBG). To share with you how these other tests can provide critical information, I will suffice to mention a few facts: A low T3 is a strong predictor of death in patients with cardiovascular disease. Reverse T3 will occupy the place of T3 (the main thyroid hormone that our body desperately needs), so we don’t want too much reverse T3. Note that our thyroid gland synthesizes T4, but then our body has to transform our T4 to T3 which is the main hormone that does the actual work of making sure our cells are providing enough energy for us. One could have high T4, but low T3, which is not an ideal situation since we need adequate amounts of T3 to function. (The synthetic thyroid hormone called Synthroid is T4.) It’s not too uncommon for me to have patients with perfect TSH levels, and abnormal values for the other parameters listed here.

There are various nutrients that can easily be taken orally to balance our thyroid hormones without or along with thyroid hormones. (Refer to my thyroid blog.) To name a few, iodine, l-tyrosine, selenium and zinc are critical for thyroid hormone synthesis and conversation (of T4 to T3). There are numerous herbs and homeopathic remedies that can also be used to treat improper thyroid function.

Optimizing thyroid function can help reduce obesity and syndrome X and lipids/cholesterol. It has been shown that T3 optimization improves congestive heart failure as well as neurodegenerative processes (i.e. processes that degenerate nerves) and cognitive impairment.

A condition that deserves attention by itself here is osteoporosis since our bone health is impacted by our hormones. As stated earlier in this blog, BHRT can be used in treatment of osteoporosis. Although osteoporosis is often associated with the female gender, males can also suffer from osteoporosis. And, hormone balancing in both genders has been shown to be beneficial in treating and/or preventing osteoporosis.

Note that besides the bone scan, there is another simple test that all women, regardless of insurance coverage, should definitely consider requesting. This test is the urine NTx test. This test tells us how much calcium is coming out of a person in his/her urine. Women at risk for osteoporosis should have their urine NTx levels tested a few times a year.

Regarding osteoporosis, there are numerous natural supplements that can help improve this condition. Most notably appears to be strontium. High doses of this nutrient appears to have a an extremely positive effect on our bone density. Discuss the dosing with your naturopathic doctor.

One miscellaneous useful tip I learned at the symposium was that women with urinary incontinence could benefit from applying estriol (the “good” form of estrogen, otherwise known as E3) topically onto their vaginal/labial area.

Interestingly, I had been treating a post-menopausal patient with chief complaint of high blood pressure for a couple of weeks prior to the symposium with minimal success. Her health appeared to be wonderful other than the fact that her blood pressure could not be controlled. Prior to seeing me, she had already tried two different pharmaceutical drugs without any success. I had offered her an exhaustive list of various natural therapies that I typically recommend to patients with high blood pressure in order to help lower her blood pressure, but had only achieved minimal success in her case. After I returned from the symposium, she happened to have a follow up visit with me, where I discovered that her blood pressure in my office was 190/100 which is dangerously high. I offered her a safe and easy BHRT program which involved the use of a topical cream with minimal amounts of progesterone and estriol (E3, the good estrogen). Much to our amazement, her blood pressure decreased within a few hours, and was perfectly normal within 24 hours, and has basically stayed normal over the last couple of weeks since the onset of the BHRT treatment. Of course, she and I are both extremely pleased with the results. The possibility of using safe and effective BHRT protocols to address various health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc., opens up an entirely new and exciting area of medicine.

In conclusion, as you can see hormones are necessary for proper functioning of the entire body, including all the systems and tissues. They must all be in balance; otherwise, we can suffer from rather serious consequences including cancer and heart disease, the top diseases associated with morbidity and mortality in the world (Notice I did not call these diseases the top “killers” as I believe the top killers are not these diseases; they are the poor lifestyle and dietary choices we make such as not exercising, not leading happy and joyous lives, not sleeping enough, not knowing how to handle stress effectively, cigarette smoking, not drinking enough water, not eating sufficient amount of vegetables, eating too much junk food, consuming hazardous pharmaceutical drugs year after year, etc.) I would like to emphasize that you should definitely do a 24 hour urine comprehensive hormone test

1) If you are presently taking female and/or male hormones (This is specially important if you have been on BHRT for a while- we would need to monitor your levels to make certain you are not over or underdosing.)

2) If you have any conditions that you know or think may be hormonal such as infertility, menopausal symptoms, irregular periods, poor libido, hair loss, inability to lose weight despite of working out and dieting, etc.

3) If you suffer from generalized symptoms such as fatigue or insomnia, or any mood conditions such as depression or anxiety

4) If you have challenging acute or chronic conditions that no doctor seems to be able to help you with such as uncontrolled high blood pressure or cholesterol, unrelenting migraine headaches, etc. Chances are your hormones are off balance.

In health,

Dr. Sharif

Homeopathy, the Most Effective Therapy for the Present Epidemic of Sinusitis/Mucous

By editor - Posted on 11 February 2014

Dear patients,

(Note that the following information is solely based on my personal findings and do not necessarily reflect a complete picture of what is presently going on in all the medical clinics in the area. If you suffer from sinusitis/cough symptoms, you must be seen by a qualified health care practitioner in order to receive proper care. The information below is meant to be for educational purposes only.)

There appears to be a widespread outbreak of sinusitis/cough going around in our region. Excessive mucous in the sinuses and throat (not in the lungs) appears to be present in every single case. You will find this blog helpful if you happen to be acutely sick with any kind of upper respiratory infection at the present time since you will most likely be suffering from the epidemic (of excessive phlegm/mucous production in the sinuses and/or throat area).

I have been told by all my patients who happened to have tried antibiotics or other medications for their upper respiratory tract infection over the last several months that their symptoms were not relieved at all. Many seemed so stay sick for over a month or two (and in some cases several months) without homeopathic care. Some were hospitalized and were put on numerous rounds of antibiotics and steroids only to find that the illness returned as soon as they stopped the above therapies. I had a patient who quit her job and was borderline suicidal after contracting this epidemic. Several adult patients have literally broken down in my office and wept due to the severity of the symptoms and the length of time they have been ill. It's disheartening to see that conventional health care practitioners do not appear to be well informed about this epidemic, and as a result are completely misdiagnosing many of the patients, and offer inaccurate prognosis (i.e. what to expect) as a result. As far as treatments, unfortunately, there does not appear to be any pharmaceutical treatments for curing this particular epidemic. At the very best, pharmaceutical medicines appear to offer only palliation (i.e. symptom relief). Furthermore, even herbal and nutritional supplements designed for treating acute upper respiratory infections do not appear to be effective. Fortunately, there appears to be a curative therapy for this epidemic of upper respiratory excessive mucous/phlegm production. The effective therapy is a particular homeopathic remedy called Kali bichromium (also known as Kali bich). It’s noteworthy that homeopathy has always been highly effective during epidemics and pandemics. (Google the Spanish flu of the 1918)

Most of my acutely ill patients these days come in with complaints of sinus congestion, coughing, and much phlegm/mucous in the throat. In most cases this excessive mucous is stuck in the throat and does not come out freely, but in some cases, the mucous does come out. Regardless, the mucous is sticky and stringy, and if it comes out, it comes out in thick globs. The excessive mucous in the throat is what causes the cough, which can significantly disturb the person’s sleep at nights. Other symptoms that may OR may not be present include: shortness of breath, laryngitis, vomiting (likely as a result of too much mucous in the throat that does not come out; the forced coughing which is an unconscious attempt to bring the mucous up can cause vomiting in some patients), diarrhea, headache (often in one spot), and “wondering” (meaning moving from one place to another in the body) aches and pains, foggy thinking (due to all the phlegm in the sinuses), and a unusually great sense of hopelessness and gloominess (that is out of proportion to what the body is going through). In one case, the patient acted as if she was dying of some terminal cancer! Another patient was literally suicidal. Nearly all these patients appear to feel cold and like to bundle up.

It is critical to note that some patients may present with similar symptoms as above and may indeed have pneumonia (with or without sinusitis) in which case it may be critical for them to use conventional antibiotics. Therefore, proper diagnosis is absolutely key.

There are a few different homeopathic remedies that I have been prescribing to treat the present, what I would call, epidemic of sinusitis/cough. However, the single most effective homeopathic remedy for this outbreak is Kali Bichromium. Note that there are different remedies that come up during various epidemics, depending on numerous factors that is beyond the scope of this blog. In other words, if remedy X was effective in treating an epidemic last year, it may not work for an epidemic this year. It’s as if the epidemic is a living, breathing organism that keeps on shifting, and we need to shift our therapies as a result, in order to successfully heal the imbalance at any given time.

One dose of Kali bich 200C has NOT been sufficient in a good number of the cases I have treated so far. (Note that the 12C and 30C potencies are available over-the-counter, but the 200C and 1M which are considered high potencies are NOT available over-the-counter, and are typically only available at homeopathic practitioners’ offices.) Some patients do well with one dose, but many need 2-3 doses of 200C, taking one dose every few days. Over the last few weeks, I have been recommending Kali bich 1M, and have found it to be significantly more effective than the 200C. I send patients home with at least 2-3 doses of this remedy in the 1M potency and instruct them to take the extra dose(s) ONLY if their symptoms improve initially, followed by a plateauing effect for say 24-48 hours or by a return/worsening of the acute symptoms. As always, as long as the patient is improving, they do not need to redose. (Note: one “dose” should be at least 5 pellets.) In majority of the cases, patients report an opening sensation in their throat and sinuses before they even leave the office. The mucous breaks up and starts to flow down the throat. The decongestion effect of this remedy is absolutely incredible.

You must remember that the symptom picture might change week by week, so the homeopathic remedy Kali Bich may or may not be the suitable remedy a few weeks from now. Just remember that if you are suffering from sinusitis (sensation of pressure/discomfort in the sinuses), sinus headache, nasal congestion, complaint of much phlegm/mucous in the throat (thick mucus regardless of whether it’s stuck or flowing), and cough, you should most definitely consider taking this most wonderful remedy, assuming 1) you do not have any other accompanying conditions such as pneumonia which would potentially require other therapies instead of or in addition to Kali Bich 2) your symptoms match the remedy Kali Bich better than any other remedy. (Note: I have had to use a few other remedies such as Mercurius or Gelsemium in some cases.)

Your good old “constitutional” homeopathic remedy (refer to handout on this topic under Educational Articles on this site) does NOT seem to be very effective in the treatment of the acute sinusitis/cough that is going around at the present time. This is a great example of how “acute” prescribing is necessary at times. For example, a few months ago, I had a case of sinusitis/cough that I prescribed Phosphorus 1M for. The remedy Phosphorus happened to be the patient’s core or constitutional remedy, and seemed to cover the acute symptoms on hand fairly well. However, the patient was not helped much at all. The remedy Kali bich 200C was significantly more effective in her case. I have seen this situation in many cases so far during this cold/flu season, and that is why I am not even recommending that patients take their regular “constitutional” remedy for the treatment of their upper respiratory infections these days. In fact, one could say that, presently, for some reason (and I am not certain why) people’s “constitution” appears to be changing to Kali bich temporarily (or the remedy that best matches their present “state” or the acute state at hand is Kali bich) regardless of the underlying ongoing constitution that they used to have.

Below you will find some additional information on dosing/redosing as well as on how to maximize the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies. Hope you find this information helpful.

How often should you take your prescribed homeopathic remedy during acute conditions?
Take a dose. Wait to see improvements. Here are the various possibilities. Whether you take more of the same homeopathic remedy or consider a different one depends on how you feel after the first dose of today’s remedy:

1) As long as you are improving (or your health is climbing), you do NOT need to take another dose. In other words, you do not want to take two doses of the same homeopathic remedy too close to each other (if you are already improving) as this may have a negative effect on you. (The analogy would be to push someone too hard from behind to make him/her walk faster when (s)he is already walking as fast (s)he can! The person may fall forward and get hurt!)

2) If you stop improving (plateau for 24-48 hours or more) OR if your condition gets worse again (after an initial improvement), then you should take the next dose of the remedy. Most patients need to take a dose of their homeopathic remedy when the effect of the previous dose has worn off by at least 50%. In other words, don’t just take a 2nd or 3rd dose of the remedy just because you have had a small setback, i.e. just because you feel 10-30 or even 40% worse. Wait until you are certain the remedy needs a real boost before you take the 2nd or future doses.

3) If the first dose does not provide any improvements within a few up to 24 hours maximum, it is most likely because either the selected remedy is incorrect or you need other therapies along with or instead of homeopathic treatment. Having said this, sometimes patients need a 2nd dose of their remedy before they feel any improvements. In such cases, you may want to wait at least several hours after the 1st dose before you try the 2nd dose of the remedy.

NOTE: Remember that coffee (regular or decaf both) can antidote homeopathic remedies. Therefore, as long as you are ill you should be completely avoiding coffee. Additionally, you ought to avoid sugar, alcohol, fruit juice, soda pop, and junk food all together until you are completely well. Last, but not least, if you happen to know what foods you are allergic to, you may want to avoid them until you feel much better. And, if you don't know what foods you are allergic to, you may want to note that the top most allergenic foods in the U.S. at the present time are gluten, dairy, soy, corn and eggs. The chances are that you are allergic to a number of the foods mentioned above.

How to maximize the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies?

There are various ways of helping maximize the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies. The following are the most common techniques I have discovered over the years which I recommend you take note of if you use homeopathic remedies at all:
Always take homeopathic remedies at least 15 minutes away from food/drinks. Ideally, you should be fully fed and hydrated BEFORE you take your homeopathic remedy. Prior to taking the remedy AND for at least 15 minutes after taking the remedy, you should be sitting down, relaxed, your mind free of all thoughts/worries; try to be almost in a prayerful/meditative state. If possible, avoid perfumes at least on the day when you take the remedy.

Do your best to have an easy day without much stress on days when you take a homeopathic remedy. On such days, go to bed early, don’t drink alcohol, don’t get into arguments with people, don’t work too hard and avoid junk food. The remedies seem to work better if you receive EFT or “tapping” (a form of acupressure) by me in the office. Therefore, ideally reserve your remedy and take it during our visits together. Remember coffee seems to antidote (or cancel the effect of) homeopathic remedies; therefore, for as long as you are enjoying the effect of your remedy (which could be a number of months or even years), you should seriously consider avoiding coffee (regular or decaf). Caffeine (from any source other than coffee) is fine, however. Other factors that can antidote homeopathic remedies are listed in the document called “Basics of Constitutional Homeopathy” which can be found under Educational Articles on our website, www.drsharif.com.

One “dose” of a homeopathic remedy is about 5 pills, all of which are typically dispensed at our office in ONE small yellow envelope. In homeopathy the number of pills is immaterial (although you should take at least 3-5 pills at a time just to make sure you get enough of the medicine), it’s indeed the potency that counts.

Please feel free to email and share this blog with others you know who may be suffering from acute upper respiratory symptoms.

Please feel free to call our office if you have any questions about your particular case. Emailing me works, but I may not be able to return your emails immediately due to large volume of emails that are sent to me on a daily basis.

May God bless you all.

Dr. Sharif

How to Maximize the Effectiveness of Homeopathic Remedies

By editor - Posted on 15 January 2014

There are various ways of helping maximize the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies. The following are the most common techniques I have discovered over the years which I recommend you take note of if you use homeopathic remedies at all:

Always take homeopathic remedies at least 15 minutes away from food/drinks. Ideally, you should be fully fed and hydrated BEFORE you take your homeopathic remedy. Prior to taking the remedy AND for at least 15 minutes after taking the remedy, you should be sitting down, relaxed, your mind free of all thoughts/worries; try to be almost in a prayerful/meditative state. If possible, avoid perfumes at least on the day when you take the remedy.

Do your best to have an easy day without much stress on days when you take a homeopathic remedy. On such days, go to bed early, don’t drink alcohol, don’t get into arguments with people, don’t work too hard and avoid junk food. The remedies seem to work better if you receive EFT or “tapping” (a form of acupressure) by me in the office. Therefore, ideally reserve your remedy and take it during our visits together. Remember coffee seems to antidote (or cancel the effect of) homeopathic remedies; therefore, for as long as you are enjoying the effect of your remedy (which could be a number of months or even years), you should seriously consider avoiding coffee (regular or decaf). Caffeine (from any source other than coffee) is fine, however. Other factors that can antidote homeopathic remedies are listed in the document called “Basics of Constitutional Homeopathy” which can be found under Educational Articles on our website, www.drsharif.com.

One “dose” of a homeopathic remedy is about 5 pills, all of which are typically dispensed in ONE small yellow envelope. In homeopathy the number of pills is immaterial (although you should take at least 3-5 pills at a time just to make sure you get enough of the medicine), it’s indeed the potency that counts. The potency is expressed in either “C” or “M” units. I typically prescribe the higher potencies, 200C or 1M, which are not available over-the-counter, and should not be taken too frequently. Ideally, one dose per month is typically sufficient for most people. The subject of dosing homeopathic remedies is not straightforward. However, for simplification purposes, most patients need to take a dose of their “constitutional” homeopathic remedy when the effect of the previous dose has worn off by at least 50%.

Protecting Yourself in a Chemically Driven World

By editor - Posted on 02 September 2013

Dear patients,

The following blog is extracted from an article by Dr. Mercola titled "The Chemicals Behind the Shrinking of Boy's Genitals". I encourage you to educate yourself on the subject of environmental toxicity and its impact on your health and the health of your loved ones. There are a variety of resources on my website on this subject for your education. As a rule, I highly recommend a seasonal cleanse/detoxification program for everyone, regardless of one's health status.

Here are Dr. Mercola's suggestions on how to protect yourself in a chemically driven world:

"No one knows what health consequences to this toxic chemical cocktail will cause to an adult, let alone a developing baby. Unfortunately, it is our future generations, and possibly the species as a whole, who will likely pay the heftiest price for this lack of safety concern, as an embryo and fetus develop at a much faster rate than adults.

While this development occurs, cell division and growth is rapid -- and these rapid changes provide many opportunities for mistakes to occur. It’s clear that boys appear to be at particular risk but, really, no one is safe. I encourage everyone with children or grandchildren to review Theo Colburn's Our Stolen Future, which is one of the BEST resources on this topic. Further, while you make the switch to remove and reduce chemicals around your home, remember that one of the ways to significantly reduce your toxic load is to pay careful attention to what you eat.

Organically-grown, biodynamic whole foods are really the key to success here, and, as an added bonus, when you eat right, you're also optimizing your body's natural detoxification system, which can help eliminate toxins your body encounters from other sources. Rather than compile an endless list of what you should avoid, it's far easier to focus on what you should do to lead a healthy lifestyle with as minimal a chemical exposure as possible:

1.As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and organic free-range foods to reduce your exposure to pesticides and fertilizers.

2.Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified krill oil, or eat fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity.

3.Eat mostly raw, fresh foods, steering clear of processed, prepackaged foods of all kinds. This way you automatically avoid artificial food additives, including dangerous artificial sweeteners, food coloring and MSG.

4.Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap and canned foods (which are often lined with BPA-containing liners).

5.Have your tap water tested and, if contaminants are found, install an appropriate water filter on all your faucets (even those in your shower or bath).

6.Only use natural cleaning products in your home.

7.Switch over to natural brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. The Environmental Working Group has a great database7 to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals. I also offer one of the highest quality organic skin care lines, shampoo and conditioner, and body butter that are completely natural and safe.

8.Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances.

9.Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.

10.When redoing your home, look for "green," toxin-free alternatives in lieu of regular paint and vinyl floor coverings.

11.Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric, or install a glass shower door. Most all flexible plastics, like shower curtains, contain dangerous plasticizers like phthalates.

12.Limit your use of drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) as much as possible. Drugs are chemicals too, and they will leave residues and accumulate in your body over time.

13.Avoid spraying pesticides around your home or insect repellants that contain DEET on your body. There are safe, effective and natural alternatives out there."

Healing Skin Conditions Without Pharmaceutical Drugs/Creams

By editor - Posted on 10 July 2013

By far the majority of skin conditions are caused by either poor diet and/or poor internal organ health. The main exceptions are skin conditions that are caused by direct contact to irritating substances (such as poison ivy), hazardous substances (such as various industrial chemicals), infectious agents (such as fungi), too much heat (causing skin burns), or even too much sunlight. In other words, unless your skin is exposed to some agent that damages it directly, you should not be developing a rash or a lesion.

The effect of diet on skin health is of paramount importance. Not drinking sufficient amounts of water on a daily basis, eating foods that negatively impact our health (i.e. allergenic foods, processed or junk foods, and genetically modified foods), overeating, not eating sufficient amounts of healthy foods (including vegetables and fruits), eating hastily, drinking too much liquid with meals (which can disturb digestion by diluting the digestive juices in our stomach), consuming excessive amounts of unhealthy drinks such as alcohol, soda pop, or coffee can all be detrimental to our skin health. Put differently, we don't develop a skin rash due to cortisone cream deficiency! However, we might develop a rash due to deficiency of a nutrient(s) which could have been brought on by either a poor diet and/or poor digestion.

Even though there are pharmaceutical creams and drugs that can alleviate various skin conditions, such unnatural therapies are hardly ever curative in nature. In other words, you often become dependent on the use of such therapies indefinitely, and the rash returns soon after you stop using them.

To truly cure a skin condition, patients often need to make some dietary changes (for example eliminating one or a few food allergens or drinking more water) and/or take up a naturopathic detoxification/cleansing program to optimize the function of the main internal organs, namely, liver, intestines, and kidneys.

It’s noteworthy that some patients are told that their rash (namely acne) is caused by hormonal imbalance, and are put on birth control pills. Even if that may be true, the real cause of hormonal imbalances can still be found in the person’s poor diet and/or poor internal organ health, most specifically their liver.

There is yet one more aspect to healing skin conditions. There are often times when the patient’s deep and inherent “tendency to develop skin problems” needs to be directly addressed using homeopathic remedies. We all have a different make up which in homeopathy is called ”constitution”. Some constitutions are more prone to various skin conditions. For example, the Nat mur (Natrum muriaticum) constitution is more prone to dry skin conditions such as eczema. Or, the Thuja constitution is more prone to warts. Yet, individuals with the homeopathic Pulsatilla constitution often tend to suffer from a dry mouth. To address these deep tendencies, patients will need to take their “constitutional” homeopathic remedy which can be identified by a skilled homeopath. In many cases, I find that homeopathy is the single most effective therapy in treating skin conditions. In other words, even if patients make the required dietary changes and go through a comprehensive detoxification program, they might still suffer from skin conditions UNLESS they use homeopathic remedies.

At Whole Health Clinic, we specialize in homeopathy, naturopathic detoxification (i.e. organ health optimization) as well as food allergy testing and nutritional counseling. Using the above therapies/approaches, satisfactory results can be achieved in treating nearly all skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, warts, and various other rashes that are not diagnosable by dermatologists. It’s noteworthy that rashes that are often difficult to diagnose and/or treat by conventional pharmaceutical treatments are often the easiest to treat by natural therapies.

An Update on Treatment of Acute Illnesses such as the Flu, Cough, Sinusitis, and vertigo

By editor - Posted on 13 March 2013

Note: The following information is not meant to replace medical advice from a homeopathic practitioner, and is meant to be educational only.

This year I have found that what I used to consider a person’s “constitutional” homeopathic remedy does NOT appear to treat the person’s acute conditions (such as the flu, cough, sinusitis, vertigo, etc.) as effectively as it did in the past. Fortunately, instead, I have used the remedies that are commonly considered “acute” remedies such as Baptisia, Belladonna, Bryonia, Drosera, Gelsemium, Hepar Sulph, and Mercurius with much success. Clearly, these acute conditions are displacing people from their usual constitution/state into new ones, the ones that are often considered “acute” constitutions/states. Once patients are relieved of their acute illnesses (the flu, cough, sinusitis, vertigo, etc.), they seem to shift back into their usual “constitution”, whatever that may be. Although I have seen cases where the patient did not shift back into her usual constitution and needed a re-dose of the new remedy for her acute constitution before she was able to shift back into her usual constitution.

Recently I seem to be witnessing a sort of epidemic of sinusitis in my practice here in Kent, Washington. Just today, I treated 3 cases of sinusitis that had been going on for different lengths of time, one for a week, one for two weeks, and one for over a month. I have had much success treating acute sinusitis cases with Hepar sulph 200C, over the last month. Patients with various typical constitutions of Calc carb, Nat mur, or Phosphorus are finding themselves in a Hepar sulph state. The remedy helped every single one of them within 5-10 minutes, nearly complete recovery in less than an hour. It’s noteworthy that these same patients had already tried their previous constitutional remedy (Calc carb, Nat mur and Phosphorus) without significant improvements with their sinusitis symptoms, although some other symptoms had indeed improved. All of these patients were very content with Hepar sulph 200C within minutes, however. (Note: Key symptoms of Hepar sulph were present in all these cases: On a mental/emotional level, irritable and moody, angry in some cases and acting out in an angry way (out of character for many of these patients), chilly (or chillier than usual if already a chilly person), swollen submandibular and/or cervical lymph nodes, stitching or splinter-like pains somewhere in the body (in the head, sinuses, or anywhere else totally unrelated to the head/sinuses), ear symptoms, sore throat, and cough. Not all of the above symptoms must be present for the person to be able to benefit from Hepar sulph, but the majority of my sinusitis patients so far this year have demonstrated most of these symptoms. It’s interesting that the above symptoms are typically NOT associated with most patients’ usual constitutions, namely Calc carb, Nat mur or Phosphorus.)

I have also been seeing a large number of cough cases, and used the various “acute” remedies listed above with rather impressive results. For example, severe relentless cough that had lasted a few weeks ended within 1-2 hours in several cases with Drosera 200C. (Note: Key symptoms of the constitution Drosera were present in all these cases: Violent paroxysm of coughing, worse at nights, particularly worse upon lying at night, either vomiting from coughing or feeling as if they could, and dry throat.)

Regarding vertigo, I would like to point out that we seem to have had an epidemic of vertigo (which appears to be getting progressively worse) over the last year or so. Homeopathic remedies are probably one of the most effective methods of treating vertigo. Although, sadly, I have seen cases that are rather challenging to treat even using homeopathic remedies.

However, that being said, sometimes a person’s own usual good old constitution seems to fit the symptoms of the acute illness rather well. For instance I had a cough case last week which after much deliberation, I decided that her own usual constitution/state, Sepia, had indeed not changed into a new one (as a result of the stress from the acute condition). She was still in a Sepia state. The remedy helped her severe cough that had been going on for nearly two weeks within hours. Coincidentally, the next day she developed a rash on her chest, what is referred to as a “healing reaction”, totally desirable, homeopathically speaking.

In summary, if you are ill with an acute illness this season, it’s quite likely you may need a homeopathic remedy different from your usual one. To find out what the correct remedy may be at this time, I would have to investigate each case, one by one.

In health,

Dr. Sharif

Homeopathy and Naturopathy, a Wonderful Duo in Treating Digestive Disorders

By editor - Posted on 04 February 2013

In this blog I’d like to address the subject of gastrointestinal disorders and how homeopathy is often a critical therapy for such patients, although not always completely sufficient by itself. I say “critical” because if a patient who suffers from digestive problems does not take their “constitutional” homeopathic remedy (refer to the article on this site, titled “constitutional homeopathy”), it is either significantly more difficult or, in many cases, impossible to obtain a satisfactory level of healing. On the contrary, if the same patient is treated with homeopathic remedies along with other natural therapies CONCURRENTLY, the possibility of healing their digestive distress is significantly higher. In fact, it is quite rare for me to see a patient with digestive problems who does not respond quite well to the therapies recommended. And, they usually do so in a short period of time, usually a few weeks.

In homeopathy, we categorize people to various “constitutions”, depending upon their physical as well as mental/emotional characteristics. People can fit into any of the hundreds of different “constitutions”, but there are nearly 50 common constitutions that I deal with on a day-to-day basis in my practice. The homeopathic remedy that is used to treat a particular constitution has the same name as the constitution itself. For example, a person who has the “constitution” Pulsatilla is treated with the remedy called Pulsatilla. People typically need to take their “constitutional” remedy once a month, on average. The remedy is not to be taken daily like most other medicines such as drugs or supplements.

A patient’s prognosis or recovery depends greatly on the person’s constitution. This is, in fact, one of the most useful aspects of being a homeopathic practitioner. I can often predict how a patient might respond to various factors, including lifestyle/dietary changes or even drugs/supplements, depending on their constitution. For example, a person with the constitution called Carcinosin is much more likely to suffer from birth control pills than a person with the constitution called Sulphur. (The details of this subject are beyond the scope of this blog, but as a rule, Sulphur individuals are much healthier than Carcinosin individuals.)

Although homeopathic remedies are considered natural, most NDs (naturopathic doctors) do not specialize or prescribe homeopathic remedies since they do not have sufficient training to do so. In order to be able to effectively practice homeopathy, a naturopath needs (although not required by law) to take extra training in the field of homeopathy. The length of training should ideally be at least 1-2 years beyond a doctorate degree in naturopathic medicine. Naturopaths typically offer lifestyle/dietary recommendations, and prescribe natural therapies including vitamins, minerals, herbs, natural hormones, and numerous other “natural” medicines. It is rare for a naturopath to prescribe homeopathic remedies, and if they do, it is often not the patient’s “constitutional” remedy - although it may be a well indicated remedy to address the symptom at hand, but not the remedy that matches the person’s entire profile (i.e. physical as well as mental/emotional symptoms and/or traits, otherwise known as the person’s “constitution”).

Below, I would like to discuss the most common constitutions that are likely to suffer with digestive complaints, and mention specifically what digestive complaints these constitutions are each likely to present with, and a few miscellaneous issues surrounding homeopathy and digestive problems.

Among the most common homeopathic constitutions, I find that Carcinosin, Silica, Nux vomica, and Lycopodium are the top four constitutions that, nearly 100% of the time, suffer from significant digestive problems.

Note that the Nux vomica or Lycopodium constitutions are known by homeopathic practitioners to have poor liver function, and these remedies are used even by non-homeopathic practitioners to help improve liver function. For instance Lycopodium 4X can be found in both UNDA #243 and UNDA #1, two of the main UNDA compounds used for “draining” or detoxifying the liver. Therefore, individuals with either these constitutions suffer from various digestive symptoms (such as gas, bloating, acid reflux, abnormal bowel movements, abdominal discomfort/pain, etc.) and/or signs (such as abnormal liver blood test results).

(Note: UNDA numbers are made in Belgium by the company UNDA, and distributed in North America by Seroyal. UNDAs are combination, low potency, homeopathic remedies that are organ/tissue specific. For example, UNDA #243 helps optimize liver function, and UNDA #45 helps optimize kidney function. I have found UNDAs to be highly effective in cleansing/detoxifying and optimizing the function of the main organs of metabolism and detoxification, namely liver and kidneys. Although constitutional homeopathy is, in my view, far superior in many ways to such combination remedies as UNDAs, I find that patients often also need UNDA numbers to help focus on and optimize the function of their internal organs.)

I have never seen a constitutional Carcinosin patient without significant digestive problems. I have noticed that many earlier authors have not written about Carcinosin at all. The reason is that this remedy was not even “proven” (i.e. put through rigorous homeopathic tests and trials) until the late 19th century. Furthermore, for reasons unknown to me, the more recent authors who have happened to write about this remedy are not speaking to the fact that Carcinosin individuals have significant digestive problems.

Carcinosin is a “phase 2” remedy (out of the four possible phases) in the Map of Hierarchy devised by Dr. Paul Herscu, ND, world-renowned homeopath who practices in Boston. I have talked about Dr. Herscu’s Map of Hierarchy in my book titled Visual Homeopathy. My understanding of this illustration is that you can’t be “healthy” as long as you are in any phase other than in phase 1. Of course, even phase 1 constitutions have their own health challenges, but phases 2, 3 and 4 most definitely do not present in a healthy version. In the eyes of homeopaths, Carcinosin individuals are unfortunately at risk for cancer due to various reasons, such as family history of cancer, history of suppression of emotions as well as rather significant digestive dysfunction which could have come about as a result of all the emotional suppression.

In my opinion, taking birth control pills or the use of other hormonal interventions such as hormonal IUDs definitely puts Carcinosin patients at risk for cancer. (Refer to my blog titled “what I wish gastroenterologists would recognize” on this site for more information on how female hormones can negatively impact the digestive system.)

Similarly to Carcinosin, individuals with the Silica constitution also have numerous digestive problems. In contrast to Carcinosin, however, Silica’s digestive problems, are talked about in all homeopathy texts. In fact, Silica is known for its constipation, in particular. I’d like to point out, however, that I have seen far more Carcinosin patients with constipation than Silica patients even though, as mentioned in the previous paragraphs, you may not read much about Carcinosin individuals having digestive problems, in general, and constipation, in particular.

In the list of the top most common constitutions, I find that there are a few other constitutions that may complain of GI problems, but their GI disturbance is significantly milder in nature than the four constitutions listed above. For instance, most Natrum muriaticum (or Nat mur) individuals have constipation as well, but otherwise, I find that Nat mur’s digestive health is rather normal. (I have found, however, that Nat murs often mask their constipation by exercising and taking good care of themselves in other ways such as with diet and supplements.) Note that the constipation in Nat mur makes sense since dryness throughout the body (and even on the personality level, as manifested by a strong tendency towards being introverted) is the central theme in this constitution.

I often find that Sulphurs complain of acid reflux as their only digestive concern. Sepia has constipation which makes sense since the central theme in Sepia is stasis and stagnation. Finally, it’s not too uncommon for me to see a Pulsatilla patient with digestive disturbance. However, treating the digestive complaints of these constitutions is much easier than the other four constitutions in the previous paragraphs, namely Carcinosin, Silica, Nux vomica and Lycopodium who have much more significant imbalance in their digestive system.

A healing reaction/crisis can occur sometimes with homeopathic remedies. (The symptoms of a healing reaction can vary from person to person, but it often tends to manifest as flu-like symptoms, or general malaise with headache and fatigue.) In my experience, patients who are more likely to experience a healing reaction upon taking their constitutional homeopathic remedy tend to be the ones with significant digestive problems. Since I also specialize in naturopathic cleansing/detoxification, I have learned that a person is not likely at all to mount a healing reaction/crisis if her organs of elimination or the vital organs are not overly congested or toxic. A single dose of a high potency (such as 200C or 1M) remedy is powerful enough that it can stimulate numerous chemical reactions in the body, specifically in the vital organs/tissues such as in the liver, kidneys, and intestines. Sometimes, this act of biochemical stimulation can cause the toxins to return into the body, instead of move out of the body, if the person’s organs of elimination are “backed up” or “congested” already. I believe this is what a healing reaction is about. Therefore, a “healing reaction/crisis” is not truly a desirable phenomenon if the practitioner indeed knows how to prepare the patient for the arrival of this most potent medicine, the high potency “constitutional” remedy. The preparation can be done by an effective cleansing program first, BEFORE the person takes her constitutional remedy. (Note: This is exactly why I have listed detoxification/cleansing as step 2 in the Seven Steps to Healing, and homeopathy as step 3. Refer to the Seven Steps to Healing article on this website under Educational Articles. Often, I choose to do both in the same visit if I feel that the patient can tolerate it.) Specifically, if a person suffers from chronic constipation (refer to my blog on constipation on this site), she is far more likely to experience a healing reaction by taking the constitutional homeopathic remedy. Therefore, I often try to effectively treat constipation before I offer the patient her constitutional homeopathic remedy. (In some cases, in addition to assuring regular BMs, a thorough liver cleanse is necessary as well to assure effective detoxification so that the patient does not mount a healing reaction.) For instance if a Carcinosin patient has one BM every two weeks, and you offer her Carcinosin 200C or 1M, there is nearly a 100% chance that she will mount a “healing” reaction and become ill with flu-like symptoms for a few days. Therefore, in many such cases of constipation in any constitutional type, I treat the constipation so that the patient has AT LEAST one BM a day BEFORE I offer her the constitutional remedy.

To make matters more complicated, note that sometimes you cannot treat the constipation with your conventional naturopathic therapies (such as bitters, magnesium, castor oil packs, laxative teas, etc.) UNLESS you offer the patient her constitutional homeopathic remedy. In such rare cases, the practitioner has to offer the patient her homeopathic remedy despite the possibility of a healing reaction. For instance, I had a constitutional Aluminum case whose constipation became worsened by magnesium which is an extremely unusual reaction. In fact, this patient’s constipation was not responding well to other natural therapies either. I had to offer her a dose of homeopathic Aluminum 200C in order to effectively treat the constipation. (Refer to her video under Patient Videos section on this website, her video is titled “Homeopathic Aluminum reverses Aluminum Toxicity”. Her chronic constipation was effectively treated overnight.)

Note that often patients with digestive problems require various other natural therapies/approaches in addition to homeopathic remedies. Proper lifestyle and diet, and various natural supplements such as DGL, digestive enzymes, bitters, probiotics, and liver/intestinal detox or cleansing can be critical as well.

Homeopathy Can Help Prevent Societal Atrocities

By editor - Posted on 26 December 2012

In light of the extremely sad and heartbreaking news of the recent school shooting in Connecticut, I would like to write a brief note about how homeopathy may be of help in preventing such unbelievable atrocities in the world.

In homeopathy, there are people with a healthy “constitution” (with a descent level of mental/emotional/physical health), and then there are people with a rather unhealthy constitution. Fortunately, most people in society tend to have what we homeopaths would consider a “healthy” constitution (such as Calc carb, Phosphorus, Pulsatilla, Sulphur, etc.) Unfortunately, on the other hand, there are some of us who are not very healthy, and are in fact, either fully or borderline insane. People with these unhealthier constitutions live in every society on the planet, and picking them out among the general population tends to require great medical knowledge and skill. They can go under the radar of most people except for perhaps highly qualified mental health practitioners (therapists and doctors) and/or homeopaths. In homeopathic medicine, we are trained to look for extremely subtle clues to find out about the level of mental health in an individual. The more unhealthy constitutions include Mercurius, Syphilinum, Hyoscyamus, Veratrum album, etc. Some such “constitutions” indeed have homicidal tendencies. They may in fact be very nice people, but the tendency to hurt others is present deep in their mind (despite their own possible dislike of the presence of such tendencies in themselves). In fact, they may at times readily admit to such tendencies in order to receive help. I have at times had the fortune of helping such individuals, and have witnessed how homeopathy can alleviate these unhealthy tendencies very effectively.

Treating individuals with psycho-emotional complaints/disorders who have a “healthy” constitution is often doable without homeopathy. Unfortunately, however, effectively treating individuals with the “unhealthy” constitutions with psycho-emotional disturbances is, to my knowledge, significantly more difficult, if not impossible in some cases, without homeopathic treatment. In other words, conventional approaches to treating psycho-emotional disorders which often involve psychotherapy and/or pharmaceutical medications may not be effective in treating individuals who have these “unhealthy” constitutions.

I heard on the news that scientists are now looking more in-depth into genetic markers for mental disorders. Although genes do play a role in our mental/physical health, homeopaths believe that there is another entity which we inherit from our parents and bring into the world with us at birth called “miasm”, predisposing us to various physical and/or mental-emotional imbalances or disorders. There are three main miasms: psora, sycosis (not to be confused with “psychosis” which is a term used in psychology to refer to mental “illness”), and syphilis. There are various homeopathic remedies that are predominantly used for the treatment of each miasm. For example, the remedies Calc carb and Sulphur are both psoric remedies (meaning they can be used to treat the psoric miasm in us). Medorrhinum and Thuja are sycotic remedies (meaning they can be used to treat the sycotic miasm in us). And, Mercurius and Syphilinum are syphilitic remedies (meaning they can be used to treat the syphilitic miasm in us). There are many other remedies in each category, but the aforementioned remedies are the classical ones that are often associated with their perspective miasms listed above. We all have all the three miasms in us. The question is which miasm has a grip on us, and how much? If we have inherited more of the syphilitic miasm from our parents, we are much more likely to have a destructive nature. In other words, homeopathically speaking, the criminally minded people tend to be much more “syphilitic” in nature. Health is a state where the three miasms are in balance in a person. To bring the miasms in balance, homeopathic treatment is absolutely necessary. Therefore, to treat a person with homicidal and destructive tendencies, he would most likely need to be treated with a “syphilitic” remedy. Although drugs can suppress such tendencies, I am not certain if they are indeed curative. Homeopathic remedies, on the other hand, are designed to be curative, and I have personally seen them be highly effective in improving very deep-seated mental/emotional imbalances (including destructive tendencies) in my patients.

Therefore, as a doctor who specializes in homeopathy, I wish our society could be aware enough so that everyone would have an annual visit to their homeopath to make certain their mental/emotional health is satisfactory. If the homeopath finds any imbalances or unhealthy tendencies (such as the tendency to hurt others) in the patient, then the patient could be treated homeopathically before he actually acts upon such tendencies.

May God help us all develop the awareness necessary to make this shift as well as other positive shifts possible on our planet.

Dr. Sharif

What I Wish Gastroenterologists Would Recognize…

By editor - Posted on 07 September 2012

Note: The therapies suggested below are not intended to replace medical advice from your naturopathic doctor. They are meant to be educational only.

SUMMARY OF THE BLOG:
There are seven ideas and/or therapies that I wish gastroenterologists (digestive system doctors) would recognize and recommend to their patients:

1) Food allergies most definitely can negatively impact the health of the digestive system, causing a variety of debilitating symptoms. A blood IgG food allergy test is much more helpful for patients with digestive problems than a conventional skin (or IgE) food allergy test, which is what most medical doctors order.

2) Natural therapies to enhance liver function. There are no conventional drugs that can improve liver function, at least not without side effects. Whereas, there are numerous natural medicines and therapies that can directly improve the function of this most precious organ. (Note: The word liver has the word “live” in it. If you want to live long, you need to take good care of your liver.)

3) Castor oil packs - the topical application of castor oil over the liver and intestines are extremely helpful in healing these organs.

4) Probiotics or friendly bacteria supplementation has been shown to be critical in improving intestinal health. Obtain your probiotics from a reputable source as most over-the-counter ones have been shown not to contain viable organisms.

5) The use of many other very safe, simple, and basic natural therapies (such as digestive/pancreatic enzymes, DGL or deglycyrrhized licorice, aloe vera juice, slippery elm, and marsh mellow root) would help heal mass numbers of digestive patients in the world.

6) Recommend females to stop the use of female hormones (i.e. birth control pills or hormonal IUD). Synthetic versions of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone (as opposed to the naturally occurring ones) are very difficult for the liver to process. This can cause digestive problems in many women.

7) Stop recommending acid neutralizers and/or acid blockers for just about any digestive disorder! Their use should be limited to cases only where there is proof that the person has excessive acid production in their stomach; that is all. Even in such cases, natural approaches often work sufficiently well.

DETAILED VERSION OF THE BLOG:
I specialize in treating digestive disorders with the aid of natural therapeutic approaches. With extremely rare exceptions, I have treated hundreds and hundreds of patients with digestive problems very successfully, and therefore, feel passionate about helping fellow human beings whose lives are scarred, damaged, and even lost by digestive disorders. I have seen and heard testimonies from these patients who cry and complain in my office of abdominal aches and pains which I can often alleviate within hours/days with the aid of some simple natural medicines. Most of such patients have already visited at least one and sometimes several gastroenterologists without receiving any or very little help. Therefore, I have recently decided to write the following article sharing with you some of the basic therapies that we as naturopathic doctors offer to patients with digestive problems, and what our patients are not being told by gastroenterologists which could cost the patients their health. In this article, I make various recommendations/suggestions and offer constructive criticism to my dear colleagues, in hopes that we can help alleviate suffering in our fellow human beings.

Gastroenterologists focus on GI (gastrointestinal) diseases, NOT gastrointestinal health. In other words, they study and focus on diagnosing and treating GI diseases. They do not specialize in improving or supporting the health of the digestive organs. Most importantly, they definitely don’t offer any therapies to enhance liver function, and in my opinion, this is the SINGLE BIGGEST MISSING LINK in the field of gastroenterology.

Gastroenterologists are doctors who are educated in the science and art of performing invasive tests such as colonoscopy or endoscopy, as well as in treating digestive diseases. We clearly need conventional gastroenterology, but I wish naturopathic doctors (whom I call “in-closet gastroenterologists”) and “real” gastroenterologists would communicate freely and refer patients back and forth for the sake of their patients’ health. Fortunately, NDs (naturopathic doctors) definitely do refer their patients to GI doctors for various procedures/tests, and sometimes even therapy. For instance, I have had a few patients with advanced Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis who needed immune suppressive drugs; otherwise their health would be at serious risk. Unfortunately, the referrals are not the other way around. In nearly ten years of practice, I have never had a patient referred to me by a GI doctor! I believe this is due to the fact that, unfortunately, gastroenterologists are not truly aware of what naturopathic medicine is about. Below is a list of some of the main therapies/ideas that I wish GI doctors would employ, or at least recognize and validate the use of, in their practices:

1) The connection between food (solid as well as liquid) and the health of the digestive system is definitely not emphasized sufficiently in conventional medicine. It’s extremely unfortunate that even gastroenterologists do not address the subject of diet in much depth. We are what we eat, and in fact, I’d say (physically) we are what we digest and assimilate! Eating poor quality food and drinking unhealthy beverages such as alcohol, soft drinks and coffee are most definitely at the root of many digestive ailments. Even if you eat “healthy”, you could still be eating some foods that you may be allergic to which could cause havoc in you digestive system. For instance, you may eat whole wheat, thinking it is better than wonder bread. What if your immune system is negatively reacting to the wheat you ate today but mounts a reaction two days from now, a delayed reaction? You would never know this unless you actually had a blood IgG food allergy test done which looks for delayed food allergies as opposed to an IgE food allergy test (which may be obtained by a blood draw or a conventional skin test). Most NDs (naturopathic doctors) perform the IgG food allergy test right in their office which takes less than five minutes and is one simple skin prick. In contrast, the conventional skin allergy test that an allergy doctor performs involves numerous painful pricks on your back which doesn’t actually help you very much with your digestive problems! (Note: IgE reactions can be life threatening, so avoiding them is critical. However, most people know their immediate or IgE food allergies since the reactions are indeed immediate. Furthermore, IgG food allergies seem to be more relevant for digestive problems. Therefore, it makes more sense to order a delayed food allergy test or an IgG test in order to help patients with digestive complaints.)

Based on experience, I have found that the most common IgG (or delayed) food allergies are: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, and corn. These food allergies can most definitely negatively impact the health of the digestive system, causing symptoms ranging from acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, gas, mal-digestion, mal-absorption, etc.

2) There are no pharmaceutical drugs that can actually improve liver function, at least not without negative side effects on the liver itself! Of course, there are some drugs that are intended to treat various liver diseases such as hepatitis or liver cancer. None of these drugs are actually designed to directly “improve” liver function, however.

On the other hand, there are numerous natural medicines and therapies that can improve liver function. The list of these therapies is very long. To mention a few - applying castor oil onto the liver and intestines, the herbs milk thistle and chelidoneum, the nutrients selenium and molybdenum, homeopathic remedies Lycopodium and hundreds of others, cell salts Natrum phosphoricum and Natrum sulphoricum, organotherapies (derived from either actual animal livers - ideally organic, or homeopathic preparations of the liver), hydrotherapy (application of alternating hot and cold towels over the liver area), acupuncture, chiropractic, reflexology, massage, visceral manipulation (very gentle and massage-like manipulation of the liver in those individuals whose liver is actually not in the “right” place), etc. (Note that the word liver has the word “live” in it. If you want to live long, you need to take good care of your liver.)

3) Application of castor oil onto the abdomen can significantly help with GI problems. I have been seeing patients for nearly 10 years now, and have seen a very large number of patients with digestive troubles. With few exceptions, I have never seen the persistent topical application of this oil not significantly improve the health of my patients’ digestive system. It certainly works wonders as a laxative in many cases of stubborn constipation. I would be very excited to see my fellow GI doctors recommend this very safe and effective therapy which has been around for several thousand years and recognized in many traditional systems of medicine. There are various thoughts as to how this therapy helps with the healing processes in the body. Castor oil, when applied topically over the body, seems to improve with lymphatic flow, thereby improving the flow of toxic byproducts of metabolism in the tissues back into the blood stream which will eventually be filtered out of the body. The end result of this therapy is the enhancement of waste elimination from our tissues, thereby improving the speed of recovery in injured areas in our body, including inflamed intestines and the liver as well as other body parts.

4) The use of probiotics has been scientifically shown to be extremely helpful in optimizing intestinal function. With one or two exceptions so far in my practice, I have yet to hear that a GI doctor recommends probiotics. The research on this subject is bullet proof, and yet this therapy is not mainstream (most likely because it is not a patented pharmaceutical drug). Keep in mind that most OTC (over-the-counter) probiotic supplements are questionable, so you should always purchase a high quality one from a reputable source.

5) There are numerous other very basic therapies (such as digestive/pancreatic enzymes, DGL, aloe vera juice, slippery elm, and marsh mellow root) that can help and in many cases cure digestive ailments. This list is actually very long, so I will just suffice with the above for now. To elaborate on one of these therapies, the use of digestive enzymes alone has helped hundreds and hundreds of digestive patients in my practice alone. Imagine the ramifications of just this one natural therapy worldwide!

6) It is almost shocking to me that gastroenterologists do not seem to recognize the significant negative impact that synthetic female hormones (i.e. BCPs/birth control pills or hormonal IUDs) have on the health of the digestive system. OBGYNs who are the experts in the use of such hormones definitely don’t appear to acknowledge the horrible effects of synthetic female hormones on the liver probably because they do not typically concern themselves with GI (liver and intestinal) problems , and GI doctors don’t specialize in hormones! It’s no wonder females who are taking synthetic female hormones and are experiencing digestive problems are not being told by any of the above doctors (OBGYN or gastroenterologists) that they should STOP taking such medications! According to a textbook of pathology (which is the book doctors of all types study to learn about diseases), estrogens slow down the production of bile salts (necessary for digestion of fats) coming out of the liver, and progesterone inhibits the release of bile salts from the gall bladder into the small intestine where digestion of food takes place. Additionally, the liver has to eliminate these hormones, which is extra work on the liver. Clearly, synthetic female hormones are a load on the liver/gall bladder, and that’s why they negatively impact women’s digestive system. The liver is involved in hundreds of chemical reactions per second, and it can not afford to be burdened down by these powerful hormones/chemicals, most of which are derived from horse hormones which are totally incompatible with human beings’ chemistry! Some women are particularly sensitive to synthetic female hormones, and must avoid taking them if they want their digestive system (and often other parts of their body, including joints, head, etc.) to feel well. The women who are much more likely to be negatively impacted by synthetic female hormones are those who fit into any of the following homeopathic “constitutions”: Carcinosin, Lycopodium and Silica. Of course, other constitutions can and are indeed negatively impacted by these drugs as well, but the above particularly common constitutions are far too often very negatively impacted. I recently saw a young female patient for the first time who was at the “end of her rope”. She has pain and discomfort most of the day, every single day, to a point that she does not want to eat any more! She was crying about how her GI doctor had not been able to help her at all. Upon some probing, I found out that her problems became significantly worse once she had a hormonal IUD placed in her uterus three years ago. I suggested that she discontinue the use of such hormones, and have her hormonal IUD removed ASAP. Thankfully, she agreed. I am certain with the aid of some basic natural medicines and without the interference of these toxic chemicals her liver and ultimately her entire digestive system will slowly recover. (Note: Natural and bio-identical female hormones are likely difficult for the liver to process also, but in my experience most women have a significantly easier time processing these hormones as opposed to the synthetic female hormones that are derived from horses. Natural and bio-identical female hormones are identical to the hormones that females already have in their body, but these hormones cannot act as birth control, while the horse-derived ones can. Why? There is nothing natural about stopping the birth process, so nothing “natural” is going to do the job. The healthiest options for birth control are the use of mechanical means, such as condoms and/or diaphragm, as opposed to hormones which are chemicals.

It’s noteworthy that women’s liver is already smaller than men’s, yet women’s liver has to work much harder for a few reasons: 1) To balance their naturally occurring female hormones which are constantly fluctuating, thereby stressing their liver 2) To process any additional synthetic, or even natural, female hormones they take in orally, vaginally or through the skin 3) To eliminate all the toxins coming from cosmetic products they are exposed to (refer to the book called “Toxic Beauty” by Dr. Samuel S. Epstein) 4) To be able to put up with their husband’s numerous demands! (This last reason was meant to be a joke initially, and I wasn’t going to actually write it, but when I thought about it, it’s most likely true!) So, no wonder, most of my digestive patients by far are females. (Coincidentally, it seems like most women have disorders of their female system, too, which stem from poor liver function.)

7) One of the most commonly prescribed drugs is acid-blockers (such as Zantac) and/or PPIs/proton pump inhibitors (such as Prilosec or Prevacid). Unfortunately, these drugs either neutralize or block the production of your own God-given hydrochloric acid which is naturally secreted by the stomach lining. We clearly need the acid, that’s why our bodies naturally make it! I have found that many of my patients with digestive complaints receive these drugs even if their problem has nothing to do with excess production of hydrochloric acid in their stomach. (As stated above, there are not many drugs that can improve the health of the digestive system as opposed to hundreds of natural therapies that indeed can improve the health of the digestive system). The use of these drugs should be limited only to cases where there is proof that the person has excessive acid production in their stomach, that is all. In fact, in my experience of nearly 10 years of treating digestive problems (including ulcers and/or GERD, where too much acid would not be indicated), I have never had a case that the patient needed these drugs unless they came in already on them and thus their body was dependent on them. Even then, with their full cooperation, patients are always able to go off of such drugs, although sometimes it can take months to go through the weaning off process (more of a reason to not start taking them to begin with).

Recommending acid blockers and/or PPIs for just about any digestive disorder simply does not make any sense. I wish our respectable gastroenterologist community would refer patients to naturopathic doctors much more frequently as we have numerous natural medicines and therapies that are highly effective in treating digestive diseases/disorders. Meanwhile, naturopathic doctors will continue to refer to gastroenterologists for performing advanced procedures such as colonoscopy or endoscopy as well as for the treatment of cases that are not responding to natural therapies.

Dr. Sharif

P.S. Refer to my other blogs on digestive complaints such as the one on constipation and another one on flatulence. Additionally, I have written a rather extensive blog on menopause which you may want to read in case you are wondering what to do in place of birth control pills or synthetic hormones that are meant to treat your menopausal symptoms. (Although often not necessary, natural bio-identical female hormones are always sufficient in treating menopausal symptoms, and are by far safer for you than the synthetic kinds.) Lastly, I would like to recommend that you read my blog titled "some over-the-counter supplements can pose health risks". You can also read or view the video testimonials of many of our digestive patients on the clinic website.

Biotherapeutic Drainage Versus Detoxification?

By editor - Posted on 02 July 2012

What kinds of detoxification programs do we offer at Whole Health Clinic?
At Whole Health Clinic, we specialize in detoxification/cleansing as well as classical homeopathy. When it comes to detox/cleansing programs, there are numerous therapies available to you, including fasting, colon hydrotherapy, dietary/nutritional supplements, herbs, Biotherapeutic Drainage therapies, etc. At our clinic, we offer Biotherapeutic Drainage therapies (including UNDA numbers, Gemmotherapies and Gammadyns) as well as conventional naturopathic detoxification supplements using herbs and nutrients. Note that detoxification and/or Biotherapeutic Drainage is a key step in your healing process. It is listed as one of the steps in the “Seven Steps to Healing” article under the Educational Articles page on our website. Just as it is important to put good water and food in your body, it’s just as important for your body to eliminate waste products from outside as well as the inside of your cells.
Note: Clearly, if you are undergoing a detoxification program, it would only make sense to start making better dietary choices, including your solid foods and drinks. For instance, if you are not drinking enough water throughout the day, or consuming junk food on a daily basis, detoxification/drainage supplements may not be helpful to you.

Why is constipation such a serious condition?
Constipation results in the accumulation of a significant amount of toxicity and thus biochemical imbalance in the body, and therefore must be treated 100% effectively. Having regular daily bowel movements and urinating a few times a day, along with “normal” blood and urine lab test results, do not by themselves mean that your body is able to “eliminate” toxins properly. You must undergo a thorough drainage/detoxification protocol, under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor who specializes in Biotherapeutic Drainage, in order to assure proper elimination of toxins from the depth of the cells throughout your body. Note that often constipation must be treated first before a patient can feel any benefit from other therapies, including Biotherapeutic Drainage medicines. (Even though Biotherapeutic Drainage medicines themselves can indeed be used to treat constipation, I would rather employ other therapies such as castor oil packs, magnesium, herbal laxatives, colonic hydrotherapy, etc., to increase the frequency of the bowel movements BEFORE I recommend the use of UNDA numbers or at least the conventional dosing of them. Refer to my blog on “constipation” on our website.)

Environmental toxicity increasing...
Humanity is bombarded with toxins from various sources including heavy metals, pollutants, chemical toxins, etc. Environmentalists and public health experts warn that increasing exposure and toxic accumulations within the body can endanger overall health. Chronic diseases are on the rise and rates of respiratory disease, birth defects and developmental disorders have exponentially increased in recent decades. Here are a few examples that illustrate how pervasive toxins have become: Researchers have found lead in semen, mercury in mother’s milk, and arsenic in drinking water! It has been reported that in every human being alive, no matter where they live, they have at minimum over 250 chemicals in their tissues. There are numerous other examples which you either have heard of or can find out about on the internet.

How do toxins brings about disease? (TOXINS --> DISEASE)
Toxins interfere with the proper functioning/physiology of our cells and organelles, and consequently tissues/organ systems, thereby bringing about degeneration and causing our eventual death. For example, mercury, lead and aluminum can destroy nervous tissue.

Biotherapeutic Drainage helps physiology to prevail over pathology...
The body has the potential to naturally eliminate toxins – depending on the body’s toxic load. Biotherapeutic Drainage is the most long-lasting and effective way of restoring health to the body as it works at an intracellular and extracellular level, facilitating the emunctories to remove blockages while respecting natural physiology. Primary emunctories (or organs of elimination) include: the liver, kidney, stomach, intestines, and lungs. Secondary emunctories include the skin and mucous membranes. Opening the emunctories to discharge toxins helps to support physiological functions, encouraging the body towards homeostasis (balance). Hence, physiology will prevail over pathology.
Note: Physiology is a study of “function” in animals/humans, whereas pathology is the study of “diseases”. Naturopaths believe that by correcting function, disease can be prevented or even reversed.

Biotherapeutic Drainage versus detoxification?
Conventional naturopathic detoxification programs, using nutrients and herbs, have the potential to “push” the body, working towards the upper limits of elimination capacity in order to remove blockages. Biotherapeutic Drainage (using UNDA numbers), on the other hand, works in a “gentle” manner within the normal parameters of elimination capacity.

Biotherapeutic Drainage regulates the emunctories (organs of elimination) on an intracellular (within the cell) and extracellular (outside the cell) level, whereas “detoxification” helps cleanse our cells mostly at an extracellular level. What this means for you is that if you want to get the toxins out of the depth of your cells, you need to consider using Biotherapeutic Drainage medicines instead of or in addition to supplements designed for “detoxification”.

What is in UNDA numbers? Where are they made? And how do they work?
At Whole Health Clinic, we specialize in “Constitutional” Homeopathy as well as Biotherapeutic Drainage. UNDA numbers are the main Biotherapeutic Drainage therapies that we utilize in our treatment protocols. UNDA numbers contain a number of various low potency homeopathic remedies, as opposed to single remedy “constitutional” homeopathy. Often, a “constitutional” homeopathic remedy is given at a much higher potency, such as 200C or 1M. The company UNDA in Belgium is the maker of UNDA numbers which have been around close to 100 years.

UNDA numbers are ORGAN SPECIFIC. For instance, UNDA #243 is specifically designed to “drain” toxins out of liver cells. Or, UNDA #45 is designed to “drain” toxins out of kidney cells.

Please consider referring to the “Testimonials for Biotherapeutic Drainage” section on our website for first hand information from our patients regarding their experience with this amazingly effective natural therapy for detoxification/cleansing purposes.