Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Are your supplements killing you?

I have used supplements with my patients for years of course.  I always had the feeling that no one would put something in a supplement that they would not take themselves

 or give to their families.  But my patients are my best teachers, and recently a difficult case that was going really well started to have an unexplained setback.  In desperation we tore down every ingredient in every supplement.  The results were shocking to me, and it began a complete reevaluation of every supplement my patients were taking.   I definitely went through the four stages of grief, including a bunch of anger, a whole lot.  


I have patients that are willing to make a tremendous commitment of time, energy and money to get themselves or their children better.  And yet I have companies selling products for a profit that are working their products in such a way to save pennies or dime on a bottle that is costing patients twenty, forty, sixty dollars a bottle.   I realize that there is no excuse for putting a binder, flowing agent, or other filler in a supplement that is anything other than the therapeutic agent that is being used for the patient.  Any company that puts anything other than the therapeutic agent in the capsule is putting their profit in front of your health.  Let's talk about some of the agents that you should not be getting in your supplements.  


Magnesium stearate is one of the worst offenders, it is a combination of magnesium and steric acid.  Magnesium is know to aggravate the intestines of a person that may be recovering from inflammatory bowel conditions like colitis, crohns and other inflammatory and ulcerative conditions.  The other component of this agent, steric acid, has the ability to suppress immune function in the gut by suppressing T-cells.  Interestingly there are two types of T-cells, activator and suppressor T-cells.  This has the unfortunate ability to both make you both more likely to get intestinal infections and intestinal autoimmunity.  


This includes any form of magnesium stearate including vegetable magnesium stearate or any other name used to refer to this chemical compound.  Magnesium citrate should be viewed exactly the same way, any kind of inorganic magnesium is very hard for the body to absorb.  For this reason magnesium citrate is used as a laxative.  For the inflammatory bowel patients I am working with very often this additive is toxic.  Supplements using any kind of flowing agent are not putting your health as the first priority.  After this you are going to want to avoid any supplement that includes any kind of flowing agent.  Flowing agents are exactly as they sound, agents to make the nutrient, herb or vitamin more easily flow through the machinery.  


One of my additives to avoid also includes silicon dioxide, this one I talked myself out of worrying about for years.  I mean, I figured it's just a little bit of sand, and I go to the beach every summer, and I am sure that I must eat a lot of sand there.  I should have trusted my instincts, they are obviously not using sand, they are using the finest powder that you can make from silicone dioxide, small enough to enter our intestinal lining, get into our blood stream, and cause immune and autoimmune reactions.  Of course the most susceptible will be patients that are already highly inflammatory or autoimmune, like every patient I see.  Even sand is not sand when someone is trying to make a profit off of you.  


Another additive I was sold on was microcrystalline cellulose, you know I just figured cellulose is a normal part of plant wall of cells and therefore we each eat a lot of those already.  However this is not plant cell walls, this is a nanoparticle that can enter our intestinal cell walls, damage or change proteins in the intestinal tract.  By doing this it creates the opportunity to generate what amounts to an autoimmune reaction to the cells or proteins damaged by these nano invaders.  


Not only do we need to watch our supplements but as those of us with food allergens know we need to watch our foods.  As people avoid something like milk they sometimes try and replace it with a food like soy or almond milk.  Just like the with supplements, you have to be extremely careful with the additives and make sure you are not getting something that is going to make you worse or create new symptoms.  


One of the worst ones is carrageenan.  This is a seaweed extract used as a thickener and also used to induce diseases like colitis in animals for experimental purposes.  Beyond the ethics of animal experimentation it makes little sense to consume something in your food that is used to create disease.  In the same way avoid binding gums like xanthum gum, guar gum and the like, these are often bacterial cell walls from dead bacteria, when these get into your body you may start generating inflammation.   It’s time we stop tolerating toxic additives in our supplements and in our foods.  What we are looking for is not impossible to create with time, attention and commitment.  So it has been a week of tossing hundreds of dollars of foods and thousands of dollars of supplements.  Once you see something like this you can’t un-see it.  If we can’t get the vitamin we are looking for capsule without additives we will get it in an herb or a food.  I have much more respect for the manufacturer that tells me they can’t get something and why, then the company that sneaks it in with toxic fillers.