Greetings! I imagine we are all waiting the cold weather to end…even me, where even 55 degree weather now feels too cold! I had to laugh when some northern friends asked me at Christmastime if our house had a furnace…as if we didn't need heat in northern Louisiana. If only. No, we are not the tropics and I even heard recently that the folks from southern Louisiana call us from Shreveport "Yankees." Ha! Still, I've always appreciated winter, since it has always allowed me the opportunity for new learning with more time for the plethora of reading and research I love to do. This has stimulated my own writing, which appears to finally be taking on a life of its own. I'm teaming up with a professor of Centenary College who has done extensive work on neurological development and new educational styles to support each other's writing goals. We are considering collaborating in the future, since aspects of Dr. Guéniot's Brain Protocol are so parallel to her progressive views on education. The Brain Protocol is a grand subject, requiring much more elucidation than space here allows; nevertheless I am adding a sampling of what I've been writing here for y'all to read. See the section on "The Maturation of the Child" below.
Dr. John has also written a piece about Acid-Base balance to further elucidate on the approach he takes with Metabolic Balancing discussed in our last newsletter (Click HERE if you missed that article!) Find out why many lists of acid and alkaline foods don't make much sense in his article here. He's also included two breakfast recipes to aid in eating right for your pH.
I am headed again to Cleveland this week and
will be in town until March 6th. The next trip
up north after this coming week will be from the end
of April through the beginning of May. Dr. John and I are
seeing patients jointly, at these times, unless requested otherwise. The
calendar fills up quickly when I am in town so, if you are still hoping for
an in-person visit, please be sure to schedule a.s.a.p., before there are no
The Brain Protocol is a one-to-four week homeopathic prescription typically prescribed over a three to six month period. The Protocol supports Dr. Gérard Guéniot's ideas on how children mature. He teaches that human development is triggered and supported through various hormonal surges, beginning with the pituitary surge of the mother just before birth (via oxytocin), through the adrenal surge of the first year and a half of life (via cortisol), and into the thyroid phase (from one-to-seven years of age) and then a pituitary pull (starting at age seven) before the gonadal organs (ovaries and testes) take over at puberty. Since the various glands each have specific actions and influence over multiple areas of the body, the hormones that the endocrine glands secrete steer the overall development. For example, all non-voluntary organ action, even the basic movement of food through the intestinal tract, requires the organ to be properly innervated by the autonomic nervous system. But how does this happen? Guéniot suggests that it is hormones that direct the critically important neurological connections to develop between the gastrointestinal organs and the central nervous system.
What is important about this phenomenon is that the development of the glands, the nerves, the digestive organs and the resulting immunity occurs simultaneously and is interdependent. This is a component of human development that is not often considered. It's not that the three glandular stages develop independently, from adrenal to thyroid to pituitary, but rather, they develop in conjunction with all other aspects of the organism and the environmental context the person is developing within. For example, there is a distinct interrelatedness to the growth and changes in the gastric system that parallel changes in the endocrine system. As the liver's true functions become awakened, the thyroid plays a large role in the behavior of the child. The thyroid is the gland that awakens the capacity of the child to decide what she likes or does not like. We repeatedly see the phenomenon of babies who will eat anything, taking in any green vegetables in the first twelve months of life. Since the adrenal gland, which is considered the gland of "insensitivity," is the most active in that phase, the child did not discriminate between green vegetables and pasta. Then, suddenly the child who ate broccoli, spinach, and perhaps even greens, turns two and suddenly won't have any of it! Now, that child has discovered what they LIKE, and are often even more clear about what they don't like! As the liver develops the capacity to sort, so does the child. This is but one example of the many traits the thyroid brings to the typical child's development, all of which are interlinked to the simultaneous development of the liver and the neurological structures of the brain known as the limbic system, or the "emotional" brain. (Isn't what we like and not like often based on emotions?). Likewise, the capacity for learning, for memory, is based on the development of the emotional component of the child, through the simultaneous developments in the thyroid, the liver and the limbic system.
These phenomena solidify who this child is, in a sort of self-definition. As the changes occur in the developing organs and nervous system structures, the child engages in learning the notion of "self," not unlike the concept of "self" understood in immunology. For example, as the liver develops the capacity (which it does not have at birth) to make antibodies against foreign substances, the thyroid gland is actually directing a more complete understanding the child has about who she actually is. Self-development is nothing other than immunological development, since the immune system's job is to root out and destroy all that is not me.
Why the need for homeopathy?
To make these abstract notions more real, consider the following scenario. At three years old, right at the time that the nerve structures of the colon are becoming myelinized, a child's grandmother dies. The parents, perhaps in a protective gesture, don't speak directly to the young child about what has occurred, unaware that his emotions about what has occurred are mixed with fear and perhaps even nightmares. In most scenarios, the child continues on, without anyone recognizing any disturbance. Still this trauma, this loss, becomes implanted right into the tissues that were developing at that time. The memory becomes like a blockage to a layer of his furthered development, perhaps also affecting the thyroid, which was working to protect the emotional being. Maybe the child develops fears, or maybe the tendencies do not show until many years later. Or perhaps, the child's behavior changes immediately, but no corrective action is taken, since no family member, nor any health professional, has understood the significance of what has transpired.
This is only one type of relatively minor trauma that can occur to create a degree of blockage in the normal, progressive development. Imagine a child who has repeated "disconnects," repeated experiences with caretakers who are not emotionally present, or scenarios where the child was left feeling abandoned. It is exactly these types of traumas that can be most easily ignored or overlooked. Deaths, physical traumas, those can all be obvious in their relation to development, but what we often forget in this society are the many events that are perceived as traumas, without anyone even noticing. It is the experience of the individual that matters in his development. If a child perceives he has been hurt, neurologically, physically and most importantly, emotionally since this will especially direct hormonal actions, his body will react as if he has been hurt. It's the child's perception more than the adult's reaction or intention that matters in the development of the self.
Since the gland's hormonal secretions direct the normal development through the three stages, traumas in childhood can also set the stage for abnormal hormonal function in later life. A child who's early childhood patterns are continuously disrupted by irregular wake/sleep cycles, for example, run the risk of improperly completing the initial adrenal/cortisol phase of development. This can go on to create an adult who has very poor stress responses and even ends up in a state of adrenal fatigue. Likewise, a child whose parents divorced at age five, and who attempted to managed her emotions by constantly gearing himself up to believe everything was okay, may find a tendency to hyper-or hypo-thyroidism in her twenties or thirties. And so on.
Homeopathy can help an individual re-experience a negative event with some distance, and aid in allowing the individual the opportunity to re-perceive the original event with new clarity and healing. The homeopathic Brain Protocol stimulates the proper development of the endocrine, digestive and nervous systems and can also correct errors in organ function caused by interruptions to the normal development. Since we can always help an individual balance himself during formative development, the protocol is not used only in childhood. Adults who have signs of developmental disruptions often benefit from it as well, even when physical or emotional traumas occurred twenty to forty years earlier, or the trauma cannot be precisely identified. We are aiding the body in re-linking the neurological structures to the actual organs and vice versa. Because the body has a natural tendency to complete these connections on their own, even if delayed by decades, the Brain Protocol can be significant in most patients.
Many patients experience a significant change or experience from this protocol at some point during the typical three-to-six month period that the protocol is done. It is important that patients enter into the Protocol with a level of commitment to see it through; for this system supports deep change that deserves respect and continuity of care. Every patient is unique and individual changes and experiences should be discussed with your physician. Reactions range from calming hyperactive children, to increasing awareness and alertness in older patients complaining of a poor memory, to aiding individuals with autoimmune type diseases to display more normalized immune function.
While it is almost easy to see how the Brain Protocol could be universally prescribed in today's world, the plan is used with discretion for those individuals and for those times that reflect its need the most. If you are interested in trying the protocol, please speak with your Options Naturopathic physician.
Many health books and articles these days propose the theory that to gain optimum health, all we need to do is get rid of our excess acidity by becoming vegan or at least vegetarian, i.e., eating lots of fruits and vegetables and avoiding meats, particularly red meat. Is it really that simple? I know in my own clinical practice, balancing a person's tissue pH is a worthwhile goal, since many disorders can be caused from an over acid condition. For example, people with asthma, colitis, acid reflux, eczema, migraines, and arthritis all tend to be on the acid side, and by balancing their blood pH, their symptoms can improve dramatically. The question becomes, how do we achieve alkalinity, and can we become too alkaline?
Many holistic practitioners and health promoters recommend an inaccurate view of what is acid and what is alkaline. The view that meats are acid and fruits are alkaline, turns out to be scientifically wrong and promotes a sentimental view of our ideal diet being vegan. I must say here that I have nothing against vegetarianism, since I was one for many years, and although it can help certain metabolic types dramatically, it hasn't been shown to help everyone who embraces it, especially protein types.
The original research that most of these outdated lists are derived from, took place in the 1950s, and were based on burning foods in a test tube to measure the 'acid ash' or 'alkaline ash' of a substance. This was intended to duplicate the process of digestion in the human gastrointestinal tract. At the time, it seemed like a logical way to figure out the pH effects of various foods on human physiology, but the reality is that this type of testing has been totally misinterpreted. Obviously, burning a food in a test tube does not reflect all the subtleties of digestion and assimilation, not even close. When food is burned down to an ash, the result is mainly a residue of minerals, which when added up have their own pH level. The resulting pH is often dependant on the calcium/phosphorus ratio; the higher the ratio, the more alkaline the food. Any reasonable person can see how measuring the pH of ash doesn't give a whole lot of useful information about the food itself.
What bothers me the most about these obsolete charts of acid/alkaline foods is the obvious bias the author has introduced to support their particular food argument. For example, some charts show table salt as highly acid, while sea salt is highly alkaline. Can they really have that much difference in pH? Or white vinegar listed as highly acid, and apple cider vinegar is highly alkaline, even though both have similar acetic acid levels. Or the ultimate curiosity, human breast milk is highly alkaline but cow's milk is highly acid.
I've always been curious about the interrelationships between blood pH and health, so I was particularly enthused when I came across Rudolph Wiley's research, a psychotherapist who measured the pH changes in the blood of real people, one hour after eating various foods. His results made much more sense to me, and contradicted many of the old food pH charts. As a psychotherapist, he found the right balance of acid and alkaline foods useful in balancing people's biochemistry, which eventually helped their depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia. Examples of differences in his list were that lemons were found to be acid (duh!) and many proteins, including red meat were found to be alkaline, due to their high nitrogen content. Many vegetables like onions or tomatoes, listed as alkaline on the old lists were shown to be acid on Wiley's list. His research was originally published in 1988, and most health books and articles these days still quote the inaccurate lists from the 1950s.
I find it interesting that in many traditional diets like the Eskimo, or Hawaiian, the diet seems to match the pH effects of the climate. In the arctic cold, with very little heat and sunshine to alkalinize the blood, traditional cultures found that eating high fat and protein foods (both alkalinizing) kept them in balance. Similarly in Hawaii, eating lots of mangoes, pineapples, and papayas (all acidic) kept the native cultures healthy in a very hot and alkaline climate. This is why these traditional foods are available in these climates, to keep us balanced. In my own life, I know I function better when I eat foods that are ‘in season'.
Balancing a person's blood pH can be an amazing transformation toward health, and it is one of the main parameters I look at in almost all my patients. It's especially useful to measure the pH of urine, saliva, and blood at the same time, to show exactly what the body's exhibiting. When one is pH balanced, the immune system works better, our kidneys, lungs, and colon work better; and every cell becomes more efficient at energy production. For many of my patients, the epiphany of finding their exact pH balance point, when their entire body is working ‘in sync', they feel fantastic. Many abnormal symptoms can just fall away. And once you experience that energy and balance of perfect pH, you become very adept at knowing exactly what throws you off-balance. That knowing is what can give you great confidence in maintaining your own optimal health.
acidifying breakfast: Tofu scramble
To prepare: Scramble tofu in a pan with a little olive oil. When almost done, add peppers, onion, cilantro, garlic, lime and salsa. Top with cheese. Use the tortilla for dipping or place the tofu in it for a burrito.
An alkalinizing breakfast: Egg scramble
To prepare: Scramble eggs in 1/2 pat butter and season. Top with guacamole. Fry sausage according to package instructions. Serve with oat or rye toast.
Yum!For more information about pH balancing or an entire metabolic analysis, contact Dr. Sherman at Options Naturopathic Clinic, 2460 Fairmount Blvd. #219, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118 Ph: 216-707-9137 or e-mail: email@example.com