Halloween Can Be Very Scary — If Your Child Has Allergies or Hypersensitivities!

Halloween can be scary indeed — particularly the day after as attested to by every teacher I’ve ever met.  You’ve heard the stories — or perhaps you’ve even happy_jack_o_lanternwitnessed them personally.  Why is it most young children behave so badly:  Allergies/hypersensitivities to the chemicals called “salicylates” that permeate the candy they’ve been given, along with a whole lot of sugar.  Both salicylates which include food coloring (especially yellow dye #5 and #6) and flavorings spike a chemical in the brain called “glutamate”.

Here’s an excellent peer-reviewed journal article entitled Sensitivity to food additives, vaso-active amines and salicylates: a review of the evidence

Here’s some information from http://fedup.com.au/factsheets/additive-and-natural-chemical-factsheets/salicylates:

What are salicylates?

Salicylates are chemicals that occur naturally in many plants – they’re a kind of natural pesticide – to protect the plants against insects and diseases. Salicylates are just one group of the hundreds of compounds in foods that can have varying effects on us, depending on how much we eat and how sensitive we are.

     What kinds of foods/products are they found in?

Salicylates are found in foods from plants: most fruit, some vegetables, herbs, spices, tea and flavour additives. For example, citrus fruit, berries, tomato sauce and mint flavouring are naturally high in salicylates and so are processed foods with those flavours.

Salicylates are also found in medications, fragrances, industrial chemicals, plastics and some pesticides, and can cause adverse effects when inhaled as well as eaten.

     What are some of the symptoms of salicylate sensitivity?

  • headaches or migraines
  • itchy skin rashes such as hives (urticaria), eczema and others
  • irritable bowel symptoms – reflux in babies or adults, nausea, vomiting, stomach bloating and discomfort, wind, diarrhoea and/or constipation
  • bedwetting, cystitis
  • asthma, stuffy or runny nose, nasal polyps, frequent throat clearing,
  • behaviour problems such as irritability, restlessness, inattention, oppositional defiance, symptoms of ADHD
  • sleep disturbance – difficulty falling asleep, night terrors, frequent night waking, sleep apnoea
  • anxiety, depression, panic attacks
  • rapid heart beat and arrythmias
  • tinnitus, hyperacusis, hearing loss (hyperacusis is a sensitivity to noises)
  • joint pain, arthritis, and more ….

As you can see from the last list, uncorrected salicylate sensitivity can result in many profound changes, and can continue into adulthood with many serious effects long-term.

The Feingold Diet Program has a great deal of information on this problem, especially in relationship to ADHD.  For more information, go to their website – www.feingold.org.  A good piece of information to download is their “Blue Book”.

There is also a connection between salicylate sensitivity and sulphite sensitivity, as noted on this youtube channel.

One of the worst salicylate food colorings are yellow dye #5, also known as tartrazine, which is known to produce symptoms of ADHD and other bad effects.

So, if your child gets any symptoms noted above, even after Halloween, you should bring them in and have them checked for salicylate or sulphite sensitivity.

PS.  For more information on food colorings and other food chemicals, this Slate article entitled “Food Doesn’t Have to Wear Makeup” is worth a read.

Cholesterol bad for you?

An interesting article appeared on the Functional Medicine University website entitled “The Benefits of High Cholesterol“.  Written by an MD, PhD, the article gives a brief but powerful overview about the use of statin drugs, especially in the older population.  It states, in part:

Yet the fact that people with high cholesterol live the longest emerges clearly from many scientific papers. Consider the finding of Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University, who reported in 1994 that old people with low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did old people with a high cholesterol. Supporters of the cholesterol campaign consistently ignore his observation, or consider it as a rare exception, produced by chance among a huge number of studies finding the opposite.

I’m truly surprised when I see so many of my senior patients taking statin (anti-cholesterol) drugs, especially when articles such as this in the New York Times, which also quotes Dr. Krumholz (above):

“The evidence is weaker for older patients — practically none at that age — but it is not unreasonable to expect similar effects as in younger patients,” Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale School of Medicine, said in an e-mail. “I believe that this is a decision that ought to be personalized for each individual,” Dr. Krumholz added. “What are their risks? What do they value? What is the presumed benefit?”

The article also goes on to say:

Seniors who took the medications had fewer heart attacks (a 39.4 percent reduction) and strokes (a 23.8 percent reduction) than those who did not, but they didn’t live longer.

Yet the absolute risk of these events was small. In the control group, 3.9 percent of seniors suffered heart attacks over the course of three-and-a-half years; that declined to 2.7 percent in the group taking statins. Similarly, 2.8 percent of seniors in the control group suffered strokes, compared with 2.1 percent of statin users.

So, whether one takes statins or not, they should be aware of a condition where statins block the production of an important chemical called “Co-enzyme Q10”, as mentioned in the paper entitled “Coenzyme Q10 and Statin-Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction“.  The abstract says this:

Coenzyme Q10 is an important factor in mitochondrial respiration. Primary and secondary deficiencies of coenzyme Q10 result in a number of neurologic and myopathic syndromes. Hydroxyl-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors or statins interfere with the production of mevalonic acid, which is a precursor in the synthesis of coenzyme Q10. The statin medications routinely result in lower coenzyme Q10 levels in the serum. Some studies have also shown reduction of coenzyme Q10 in muscle tissue. Such coenzyme Q10 deficiency may be one mechanism for statin-induced myopathies. However, coenzyme Q10 supplements have not been shown to routinely improve muscle function. Additional research in this area is warranted and discussed in this review.

(ed: “mitochondria” are the energy-producing parts of each and every cell in your body, and “myopathies” refer to muscle pathologies)

Speaking of myopathies, isn’t the heart a muscle?  And one that uses a lot of energy?  And although statins might reduce the incidence of “heart attacks”, I have not read anywhere where it makes the heart stronger.  As a matter of fact, there is some evidence to believe the opposite.

Also this article from Medscape entitled “CoQ10 and L-carnitine for Statin Myalgia?” mentions the additional use of a protein called “L-carnitine”.

I have to tell you a personal story about these two substances:

Before the days of statins, my mother had congestive heart failure.  One day she was having chest pain and my father called the paramedics, who took her to the local hospital.  By the time I arrived, she was in ICU with about 80 medications being pumped into her.  She was on a slippery slope going downhill.

Not accustomed to being helpless (which I was at the time), I called a friend of mine in Florida — a world-famous nutritionist — who recommended I slip my mother a little brew of vitamins and amino acids (including CoQ10 and L-carnitine) twice a day, which I did.  Within three days she started perking up, and the doctors — who had no knowledge I was giving her this cocktail — thought, with great surprise, the drugs were working.  End of the story:  she completely recovered within a couple of weeks.

The bottom line mentioned in this article in the Washington Post entitled: “Statins keep cholesterol in check but they can affect memory and strength“:

But these drugs are not without risks. Golomb has amassed thousands of reports at her Web site Statineffects.com, detailing adverse reactions from statins. She says that cognitive problems are the second-most-common side effect reported in her database, after muscle pain. In a 2009 report in the journal Pharmacotherapy, Golomb described 171 patients who’d reported cognitive problems after taking statins.

So, if you’re a senior willing to trade cognitive problems and potential muscle pain for a few extra months of life, then go for it.  Otherwise, there are natural substances you can use to lower your cholesterol levels without the down-side.

Just for starters, here are some things that can reduce cholesterol naturally: B3 (NADPH or Niasafe), Vitamin C, Copper, O2 (B12, Folate, Iron), Vitamin B5, Taurine, Glycine, Phosphatidylcholine, Omega Oils, Iodine, Selenium Cysteine, Guggul, Polycosinol, Plant Sterols, Cayenne Pepper, Garlic. Of course, you need to know what specifically will do the job.  That’s where I come in to help.

As an addendum, an article on Medscape.com entitled “Statins and Diabetes:  Should We Be Worried?” commented on a study called the “Navigator” study were this statistic came out:

The results: After adjusting for baseline characteristics and confounders, the link was clear. Both statins and diuretics were linked to new-onset diabetes, a 23% increased risk. In this study, use of beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers was not linked to diabetes.

The study urged that people taking statins should be checked more frequently for blood sugar issues.

If you’d like more information on statins, see my friend’s newsletter here.