Repair the membrane, restore the body: innovative approaches to regaining optimal health and the science behind them

At one time cell membranes were believed to just be envelopes surrounding cells. However, it has been nearly forty years since the structure of the cell membrane was deciphered leading to the development of the Lipid Bi-Layer Fluid Mosaic Model. In this model cell membranes are no longer seen as merely envelopes, they become dynamic structures that play critical roles in the health and detoxification of cells, and the cells’ unique ability to work in concert – thus keeping us in good health.

Lipids – or fats – are the main component of cell membranes. Lipids in cell membranes are actually phospholipids – or a combination of fats and phosphorus – and not just fats. They don’t just sit idly by doing nothing; they contribute to every aspect of cellular energy, detoxification, and optimal function.

Healthy cell-membranes lead to healthy cells, a healthy body, plenty of energy, healthy aging, and so forth. Among other things, cell membranes incorporate hormone receptors that, if sound, will promote healthy hormone activity throughout the body.

Unfortunately the fats (or phospholipids) in cell membranes can be degraded leading to deterioration in cellular – and, overall – health and wellness.

A major reason why cell membranes become damaged is poor diet. When highly processed fats are a major component of an individual’s diet, they will be incorporated in cell membranes and cause their function to deteriorate. Excessive intake of sugars

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, refined carbohydrates and other processed foods will have the same negative effect.

The fats in cell membranes are very vulnerable to oxidation, so a lack of antioxidants in the diet is also a primary cause of damage to cell membranes.

Last but not least, environmental toxins like mercury and an almost endless list of chemicals present in our everyday lives can also harm cell membranes, and thus have far-reaching adverse effects on health.

The first symptom of cell membrane damage could be described as decreased energy levels or vitality, although other common symptoms include intestinal and digestive problems, chronic pain, and weakened immunity. Damaged cell membranes have also been linked with neurological disorders, autism, problems like depression or anxiety, ADHD and – ultimately – cancer, heart disease, mental decline, and more.

Forty years of research on cell membranes have significantly enhanced our understanding of their central role in health. Ultimately much of what is recommended today, like fish oil supplements, is aimed at improving cell membrane health whether we know it or not.

Meanwhile, forward thinking researchers and physicians developed the concept of Lipid Replacement Therapy (LRT) – a way to actually “change the oil” in the body. Damaged fats in cell membranes are replaced with healthy ones, gradually restoring health. Read More »

Amla, an ancient remedy from India making a major comeback on the wings of modern science

Amla is a berry that is native to the Indian subcontinent and neighboring areas. It has a long history of medicinal use as a remedy for everything from vision problems, to almost every digestive complaint, allergies, low immunity, and even hormonal imbalance in women.

A flurry of recent research has given a new scientific validation to this unique healing berry. Among other things, it was found to be one of the most potent antioxidants known. When compared to 1,000 herbs with well-established antioxidant properties, it was found to be among the top four in terms of beneficial effects and the ability to prevent cell-damaging effects from the strongest oxidants and carcinogens.

Amla was found to protect the liver from oxidative damage caused by chemicals or alcohol. It was found to protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation, thus slowing aging of the skin and – of course – preventing skin cancer. In studies performed on diabetics, it was found to protect the heart as well as the kidneys. Read More »

Auditory Integration Training: New therapy available

I am now offering a new therapy called Auditory Integration Training or AIT. I first heard about this therapy from parents who raved about it and also told me that it was hard to find in the Houston area.

AIT was developed by French physician Dr. Guy Berard. Although it was originally developed to treat hearing disorders

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, over his 30 years of practice Dr. Berard discovered that it was beneficial also for children with the disorders listed below. While these children do not have hearing loss, they suffer from distortions in the way their brains process different sounds and these distortions contribute to their symptoms.

This therapy has proven benefits for:

  • Sensory Integration issues
  • Autism
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)
  • Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia
  • Depression
  • Other communication disorders or developmental delays
  • Non-verbal disorders

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Neurofeedback update

As the school year is starting, many parents have asked if we could have extended office hours so they could continue their children’s neurofeedback after school or on Saturdays.

I am pleased to announce that even though the office will technically still close at 5:30 pm Monday through Thursday and 12:30 pm on Fridays either Allison or I will be available on some evenings until 7 pm and on Saturday mornings to provide neurofeedback. We have not yet decided on which evenings as that will depend on the requests for appointments we receive.

I have been offering neurofeedback in my practice for close to ten years. Earlier this year I upgraded my equipment by acquiring some of the best and most up-to-date equipment available from a company called Clear Mind Center – see

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A Replacement for Natural High Is Being Developed

In addition to these four supplements, I used to carry a supplement called Natural High that many of my patients loved. It was highly beneficial for problems ranging from ADD to depression, anxiety, addictions and even sugar cravings. Unfortunately it was discontinued and has been unavailable for at least two years. I have now formulated my own supplement which, though different from Natural High, I believe will deliver the same benefits. This supplement is not in production yet and I still haven’t decided what to call it, but if you are interested in trying it, or used to be a fan of Natural High and have found nothing quite like it please call my office or email me and we will contact you as soon as we have it.

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State of the art neurofeedback: a major new upgrade for my practice

Neurofeedback is a brain-training therapy backed by dozens of studies proving its effectiveness. It uses computerized EEG technology to identify areas of dysfunction in the brain and then trains the brain to correct them. As a training tool, neurofeedback has been compared to teaching a child to ride a bicycle. Difficult at first, but once the skill is acquired it is never lost.

Neurofeedback has been proven to have beneficial effects for ADD and ADHD, high-functioning autism, depression, anxiety, insomnia, addictions, gait and balance problems, headaches, behavioral problems, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, and more. It helps balance the brain and the brain is truly the central computer that regulates every function of the body. When it is in balance many seemingly unrelated problems simply vanish.

Neurofeedback is nothing new for my practice as I have been offering it to my patients since the late 90’s. The equipment I used to have was the best available when I purchased it, but over time it had become outdated. Its main drawbacks were that it was not user-friendly, especially not child-friendly, results were slower to achieve than with newer equipment, and it did not offer the full range of diagnostic and treatment options now available. Read More »

6 supplements that really work

As a nutritionist I am very aware that some in my profession have a bad reputation for putting people on a long list of supplements that do little or no good. Whenever feasible, I always look for the smallest number of supplements that will do the job. Here are six supplements that I have found to be particularly effective either on their own or when taken with just a few other products.

If you like this article, post a comment below or email me and next month I’ll cover a few more of these supplements. There are probably a dozen more that could fit in this category.

1. BioEssence: immune system support
This was the first Chinese herbal combination I started to use in my practice based on the recommendation of a friend from Tennessee

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, Dr. Dan Kalb, who used to head the Family Practice department at St. Joseph Medical Center in Houston. It turned out to be incredibly effective for everything connected with the immune system. This includes rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, skin disorders including eczema and psoriasis, not to mention allergies and asthma.

What amazed me the most about this herbal combination is that it does not work by suppressing the immune system, like western drugs for these conditions do, and has few or no side effects. I will not claim that is works in every case, but it does often enough, and when it does the results can be almost miraculous and remarkably fast.

Results I saw with this product gave me the incentive I needed to study Chinese herbal medicine, and I am glad I embarked on this project because it is now enabling me to help many more people in ways I couldn’t do before.
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Essential minerals: supercharge your (or your child’s) diet with homemade beef bone stock

When it comes to maintaining or regaining health, nothing plays as important a role as proper mineral balance in the body. Although we no longer hear much about it

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, leading experts in the field of nutritional medicine sounded the alarm as early as the 1930’s and 40’s: modern agricultural practices were depleting the soil, generating widespread mineral deficiencies and imbalances. This in turn left us vulnerable to weakened immunity, digestive and nervous system disorders, and more. When combined with the dramatic spread of environmental chemicals and other toxins over the past half century, the recipe for disaster is complete.

Those sounding the alarm were the likes of Henry Bieler, MD, and Max Gerson, MD. Dr. Bieler wrote the book “Food is Your Best Medicine.” He believed in drug-free medicine and was well-known at the time for being the personal physician to Greta Garbo and other stars. He was also known because his patients had a habit of living well into their nineties. Dr. Gerson authored “A Cancer Therapy.” He used food, vegetable juices, and little else to successfully treat diseases ranging from migraines to diabetes and even cancer.

Mineral supplements can help correct deficiency in some instances; however, many essential minerals are poorly absorbed from supplements. In addition, manmade supplements that are not properly balanced can aggravate any existing imbalance. The bottom line is that only natural unprocessed foods contain minerals in optimal ratios and, in fact, the body is ideally suited to absorb minerals from food rather than supplements.
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Your liver: the key to good health

About a year ago I attended a conference on autism at which a key speaker opened his remarks by asking what did breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity and autism all have in common. Most of the audience, made up entirely of doctors and nutritionists, looked puzzled and there were quite a few blank stares as people struggled to find an answer. When the answer was finally given it came as quite a surprise to many: a faulty liver!

How can this possibly be? It is because the liver is the most metabolically active organ in the body. It is where fat and calories are burned. It is also where toxins from the environment and those the body itself produces are processed so that they can be excreted from the body. If the liver doesn’t do this job well toxins will be retained and, over time, cause damage to the brain, heart, breasts or any other organ or part of the body.
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Nutrition and the mind: amino acid therapy for depression and much more

As my nutrition practice turns ten years old, it is a good time for me to reflect on lessons I have learned about the effects of nutritional therapy on the mind. Though nutrition is a second career for me, and one to which I came relatively late in life, it is the realization of my lifelong interest in psychology and the mind in general.

While at an earlier point in my life I might have chosen to study psychology or psychotherapy, by the time I was finally able to embrace this field I had learned enough about the interaction between the mind and chemistry or nutrition to know that nutritional medicine held far more powerful answers than any type of talk therapy.

This interest led me to chiropractic school in a roundabout way, basically because I felt I needed some medical training and a license that would enable me to practice. In any case, while in school and in my first years of practice I took every seminar and advanced training I could find on clinical nutrition. However, seminars on nutrition for the mind are rare, when available at all, and consequently the field is replete with preconceived ideas and unsubstantiated theories.
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Healing and the ocean

I grew up by the sea and often tell people that the ocean is in my blood. Recently I came across some fascinating old research that made me think that this is true in a far more literal sense than I had ever thought possible.

The research dates back to the early 1900s and was conducted by French biologist and self-taught physician Rene Quinton. In analyzing the composition of human plasma and that of ocean water, and superimposing the two, Quinton observed that they are virtually identical – the only real difference between the two being that ocean water is three times more concentrated than plasma.

Quinton attributed this difference to the fact that, since life originated in the ocean millions of years ago, seawater has become more concentrated. His conclusion was that we all still carry original ocean water in our blood. Human (and animal) plasma, in his view, is a “marine environment.”

To prove his point Quinton carried out a series of experiments that later came to be known as the “dog studies.” Though we are no longer accustomed to studies being performed on dogs, in his day dogs and cats were often used for medical research.
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Vitamin D for chronic inflammation, MS and (possibly) autism

The more we learn, the more it becomes evident that chronic inflammation is a universal troublemaker that plays a part in almost every ongoing health condition.

Acute inflammation is one of the most beneficial, and often life-saving, defense mechanisms of the body. Acute inflammation is what gives us a fever when our bodies are fighting a virus, a sore throat in response to strep bacteria, or a swollen ankle after a hard fall. In every case like these, inflammation helps promote recovery.

However, chronic inflammation is a superfluous and harmful process. It’s a healthy process that forgot when to stop and no longer serves a useful purpose. What causes it?

According to recent British research, air pollution – something most of us breathe on a daily basis – can cause it. See Exposure to toxins like mercury or lead can also be a cause, as can too much copper, iron, or even calcium in the blood. Studies have shown that a progressive shift in the human diet from consuming mostly omega-3 fats to mostly omega-6 can also set the stage for chronic inflammation (see “The Omega-3 Connection” by Andrew Stoll, MD). Finally, a simple lack of vitamin D can be the culprit.
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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Vitamin D

If you suffer from SAD, the end of daylight savings time is always bad news. SAD is characterized by symptoms of depression that flare up in the winter months when daylight hours decrease. It is far more prevalent up north, but I have seen it even here in Houston.

Since lack of sunlight obviously has something to do with SAD, treatment often involves daily exposure to bright white fluorescent light. However, this approach often doesn’t help and so many doctors just prescribe antidepressants.

An interesting theory is that it is not the lack of sunlight that causes depression, but the resulting vitamin D deficiency. Several studies appear to support this view.

In one study, 37 patients with marginal blood levels of vitamin D were given either 600 or 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 for three months, December through February. After this period, all patients reported improved wellbeing, with the higher-dose group faring significantly better (Nutr J 2004 Jul 19; 3 (1): 8).

In an older study, 15 patients with SAD were randomly assigned to receive vitamin D or daily light therapy. In this study only the group receiving vitamin D recovered (J Nutr Health Aging 1999; 3 (1): 5-7).

Last January I wrote about the many benefits of vitamin D (click on “Vitamin D” on the topics list of the Newsletters page on my website to view the full article). This vitamin plays important roles in calcium and bone metabolism, immunity, and protection from critical illness. If you suspect you are prone to SAD, that may be one more good reason to have your blood levels of vitamin D tested. The correct test to measure your vitamin D levels is one called “25-hydroxy vitamin D.” It is also important to ignore the lab’s reference ranges because they are based on the average of a vitamin D-deficient population. Instead, a good range is between 35 and 50 ng/ml.

If your levels are low, consider supplementing with vitamin D3, the most natural and safest form of this vitamin. Supplements in the range of 4,000 to 6,000 IU per day are safe for adults and probably necessary to reestablish adequacy if you are deficient. However, if you take high doses, it is important to monitor your blood levels of vitamin D through periodic testing and regular communication with your healthcare professional. Excessively high levels of Vitamin D can have toxic effects that could include kidney stones. Once an adequate level has been established, long-term maintenance intake of 1,000 IU per day has been shown to be safe (Am J Clin Nutr 2001; 73: 288-94).

Are SSRIs really safe during pregnancy?

As most people know these days, SSRI stands for “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor,” an acronym for a class of antidepressant medications that includes Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and others. These drugs have become among the most widely prescribed in our country, but only recently have studies surfaced that question their safety for long-term use or for use in children.

These drugs are also considered safe – and are often prescribed – to pregnant women. As it turns out, this assumption of safety is based on cursory studies that only looked at major outcomes, such as physical growth, and complications that would be evident in medical records.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina studied 17 full-term newborns whose mothers had taken an SSRI and compared them to an equal number of infants whose mothers had not taken these medications (Pediatrics, 2004 Feb; 113 (2): 368-75). Unlike previous studies, this one focused specifically on neurobehavioral development. They found that infants previously exposed to SSRI’s were more likely to suffer from nervousness, startles, and sleep disturbances. Although this was a limited and very short-term study, it does raise legitimate suspicions that these drugs are not so safe after all. Larger and longer-term studies are now needed to shed light on exactly what these medications do to developing brains.

Lithium: a frequently overlooked mineral supplement

The issue here is that lithium has a terrible but undeserved reputation. At huge prescription doses, lithium remains the most effective way to control bipolar disorder. The fact that a natural mineral can be so effective is, in itself, a remarkable thing. However, such enormous doses – usually exceeding 900 mg of lithium carbonate – can be toxic and cause permanent kidney damage with long-term use, and this is where the bad reputation comes from.

At doses that are about or more than 1,000 times smaller, lithium is a natural trace mineral supplement with no known toxicity or other side effects. In fact, minute amounts of lithium occur naturally in our diet and, even though this mineral is not considered essential and there is no RDA for it, studies have shown that it plays an important role in human nutrition. According to one study, people with diets deficient in lithium have higher rates of hospital admission for a wide range of mental disorders (1). Other studies have correlated lithium deficiency with aggressive behaviors in both humans and animals (2).
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More News on Vitamin D

Although I have written about the importance of vitamin D before, new information on this vitamin continues to surface. The more we learn about vitamin D, the more we find how many critical roles it plays in the body.

A “Vitamin D Council” was set up as a cooperative effort by a group of research scientists and recently launched a new website that can be found at

Members of this council include Robert Heaney, MD, Professor of Medicine at John A. Creighton University. Dr. Heaney is considered the world’s leading expert on vitamin D, having published over three hundred original papers on this topic.

According to Dr. Heaney, the current government vitamin D recommendations are so low they ensure deficiency for anyone who adheres to them and also avoids the sun. Oddly enough, Dr. Heaney participated in setting up those very recommendations, but later discovered that humans need 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day, not the recommended 400.
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Anti-depressant drugs in the news

One thing we can say for sure about depression is that it is a modern epidemic, with rates of diagnoses soaring every year to new highs. Statistics show that in 1987 there were 14 million physician consultations for depression in the United States. In 2001, consultations totaled 25 million with 90% of patients leaving the doctor s office with a prescription for an antidepressant medication. In spite of this phenomenal growth, experts concur that depression in this country is significantly under-diagnosed.

The reasons for this epidemic are not immediately clear and are surely complex in nature. From my point of view, this epidemic should be seen in the context of many other epidemics of brain disorders, from ADHD and autism to Alzheimer s and Parkinson s diseases.

When we see that it is not a single condition becoming more prevalent, but a global increase in brain disorders, we may consider that all of this has something to do with our unprecedented exposure to environmental toxins, including heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic and a broad range of environmental chemicals. Many of these metals and chemicals are known to affect the brain; others disrupt hormonal processes and the disruption can lead to depression.

In conjunction with this exposure, our diet has continued to deteriorate in terms of what is available, what people choose to eat, and the quality of the food supply – much of which is grown on soil that is becoming progressively impoverished.

Depending on your opinion, pharmaceutical companies have either come to the rescue in a time of crisis or, as I tend to see it, they have profited enormously from this epidemic without offering an adequate solution. But do the drugs even work and are they truly safe as we have been told?

An article in The New York Times (August 7, 2003) questions the effectiveness of antidepressants, revealing that in many studies the drugs either do worse than a placebo or barely better. However, many of the negative conclusions are never shared with the public.

As an example, five consecutive studies for Prozac had to be performed in order to obtain the two required for FDA approval in which the drug outperformed a placebo. In the remaining three studies, apparently a sugar pill was more effective in curing depression!

Safety of these medications was not in question until a review article was published earlier this year in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2003; 326:1282). The article was based on the results of nine separate studies and revealed that children and teenagers who were prescribed Paxil were more than three times as likely to have suicidal thoughts and behaviors than those on placebo.

Paxil is one of several drugs that are classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI s, a category that also includes Prozac and Zoloft. Since all of these drugs have the same mechanism of action, it is likely that the other drugs will be shown to have the same effects.

Another review article published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (2003 Feb; 64 (2): 123-33) raises a completely different safety concern. This article looked at long-term outcomes in severely depressed individuals treated with antidepressant medications.

Results were very negative. Researchers found that, in the long term, medications were likely to lead to one of several unfavorable outcomes: worsening depression, development of bipolar disorder, tolerance to the medication rendering it ineffective, and withdrawal syndromes following removal of the medication.

These conclusions are not at all surprising, because these medications only work by “tricking” the brain to keep serotonin and other neurotransmitters around a bit longer. None address the insufficient output of neurotransmitters, which is the root cause of depression. Since neurotransmitters are made from the protein in our diet, with a hand from a few vitamins and other nutrients, the only lasting solution is one that includes dietary and nutrient-based therapies.

Could You or Your Child Be Gluten-Sensitive?

Gluten is a protein found in commonly eaten grains, including wheat, rye, barley and oats (however, the gluten in oats is different and can be tolerated by some gluten-sensitive individuals).

Gluten sensitivity has been found to cause celiac disease, a severe developmental disorder. The association between gluten and celiac disease was discovered by pure coincidence during World War II when some children with the disorder “miraculously” recovered when deprived of wheat, only to relapse when wheat was reintroduced in their diet.
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New Research on Essential Fatty Acids, ADHD and Depression

Two new studies published in major medical journals evaluated the effects of essential fatty acids. The first of these studies (Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2002;26(2):233-9) looked at forty-one children diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia over a 12-week period. Some of the children received a place bo (olive oil), while others received a mix of essential fatty acids containing EPA, DHA and AA from fish oil, and GLA from evening primrose oil. At the end of the trial period, children treated with essential fatty acids experienced significant improvements while the children taking the olive oil did not improve at all. So are dyslexia and ADHD nothing other than symptoms of fatty acid deficiency? B. Jacqueline Stordy, Ph.D. makes a compelling case for this in her interesting book, The LCP Solution (ISBN 0-345-43872-8). The second study (Am J Psychiatry 2002;159(3):477-9) focused on twenty people diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Some of them received a placebo and others fish oil in addition to their antidepressant medication. In the words of the researchers “highly significant benefits of the addition of the omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil) compared with placebo were found by week three of treatment”.

Low Cholesterol Causes Aggressive Behavior And Depression

While many people think that the lower our cholesterol the better, numerous studies have contradicted this view. Now yet another study has linked low cholesterol with adverse health effects. Published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine (Dec. 1, 2000;23:519-529), the study found low serum cholesterol to be correlated with mood disorders, lack of cognitive efficiency and sociability.

It is theorized that low cholesterol leads to the suppression of serotonin, a condition known to cause both aggressive behavior and depression. With record numbers of Americans taking cholesterol-lowering medications, it should be noted that, as with everything else the body produces, there is a target range for cholesterol, and deviations in both directions indicate dysfunction.