Hypothyroidism – A bigger problem than we think?

Currently 5-10% of the population is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, however some experts estimate that between 25-40% of the adult population has suboptimal thyroid function.

Thyroid hormones regulate the activity of mitochondria, the energy powerhouses, in every single cell in the body, therefore they have an effect on virtually all of our bodily functions. So when we have a deficiency of thyroid hormones, symptoms can be wide-ranging and non-specific having a detrimental effect on overall health and often being mistakenly diagnosed for something else.

Sub-optimal thyroid function could therefore be a factor in many more conditions than is currently realised, and should be considered particularly in patients who do not respond well to interventions for other conditions.

Symptoms of low thyroid function include but are not limited to: Read more »

Effectively detoxify mercury, histamine and ammonium using the right zeolite

Even with a perfectly tailored diet that delivers the right nutrients in the optimal doses, the human body is continuously overburdened with environmental toxins as well as those created inside the body. Consequently, the body needs help to eliminate toxic substances as its’ own detoxification system is pushed to the limit.

Heavy metals

Environmental toxins such as lead, mercury, aluminium and other heavy metals affect everyone through their daily lives. They enter the body in a variety of ways from the polluted air we breathe, tainted foods within our diet, and by being absorbed through our skin. Once inside, the body will try to eliminate them using the liver and kidneys.

The heavy metals are released with bile into the gastrointestinal tract by the liver and the body mistakes them for good substances due to their similarity to amino acids. As a result, they are reabsorbed into the body with bile in the colon, to eventually be processed by the liver once again. However, when the liver is at full capacity, it is unable to process toxins for elimination and instead sends them to other parts of the body where they can be stored in muscle, bones, and fat cells, until it is once again safe to release them for detoxification.

Heavy metals attack and damage the central nervous system, causing inflammation and a range of symptoms associated with heavy metal poisoning including memory loss, depression, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

As for mercury, a particularly intrusive heavy metal, it has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier causing further neurological problems, and can trigger autoimmune diseases after causing inflammation in the body.


Histamine is released naturally within the body and has many roles to play. It activates hydrochloric acid in the stomach, and is also released by the body during immune responses as an inflammatory mediator. There are two causes for the existence of histamine in the body; it can either be created by the body itself, or it can enter the body exogenously through food and drink. The release of histamine is involved in food intolerances as part of the immune response and causes many of the associated symptoms.

Although it is needed by the body, an excess amount can cause serious health problems. It can cause inflammation wherever there is a histamine receptor in the body e.g. skin, lungs, digestive tract, brain, heart. For this reason, it can cause a wide variety of problems including digestive issues, migraine, itching, urticaria and rashes. These problems can come about due to excess histamine in the body.

The enzyme responsible for degrading histamine in the digestive tract, thereby stopping it from causing further symptoms, is diamine oxidase (DAO) and in the rest of the body histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT) is responsible for degradation. A histamine intolerance can be caused by a lack of the DAO enzyme which leads to an imbalance between histamine and DAO, and therefore leaves excess histamine in the digestive tract. This histamine is then absorbed and put into circulation around the body where it is free to cause inflammation at the site of histamine receptors. There, HNMT, which has a lower capacity to degrade histamine than DAO, must be used to catabolise histamine.

A DAO deficiency can be caused by a number of factors such as damage to intestinal cells, enzyme inhibition by medications, or it could be a genetic predisposition. The problem is made worse when coupled with a histamine rich diet. Testing for DAO levels in the blood can be a useful diagnostic tool for those suspected of histamine intolerance, but shouldn’t be relied upon solely as there is no well-established range in which DAO levels should fall to make a conclusive diagnosis, and the results can be skewed depending on the amount of histamine in the diet.


Ammonium is produced mainly in the intestines, kidneys and muscles, and is also a toxic by-product of protein digestion. Interestingly, it is created by H. pylori as a shield from gastric acid, allowing the bacteria to survive in the stomach while it engages in histamine production. The liver is responsible for detoxifying ammonium, after which it enters the blood in the form of urea and is expelled by the body in urine. Excess amounts of ammonium in the body can become neurotoxic and increase the burden on the liver and kidneys, contributing to disease of these metabolic organs.

Ammonium can alter the pH level in the stomach in two ways. First of all, if it comes into direct contact with gastric acid, the gastric acid will be neutralised as ammonium is alkaline. This will reduce the amount of acid in the stomach and can lead to improper digestion of foods. The food can then make its way back up the oesophagus with acid and cause heartburn.

Secondly, in order to detoxify ammonium, the liver requires bicarbonate. Bicarbonate is produced by the parietal cells alongside hydrochloric acid, and is intended to counteract the gastric acid on a one-toone ratio; one molecule of bicarbonate to detoxify one molecule of acid. Instead, when ammonium levels are too high, the liver uses the bicarbonate to detoxify ammonium which leaves a shortage of bicarbonate to counteract the acid, leading to high levels of acidity in the stomach. Acid reflux is caused once again.


An effective chelator to eliminate heavy metals, histamine and ammonium is clinoptilolite, one of the most effective forms of zeolites. However, to effectively eliminate these substances without putting a burden on the liver and kidneys, this particular zeolite must be processed correctly to activate and modify it.

Raw clinoptilolite is made of honeycomb shaped particles, each of which has ducts and cavities running through it. The particles exhibit a negative charge which enables it to attract positively charged ions, much like a magnet. These ions are then stored in the ducts and cavities running through the honeycomb structure. This method of ion absorption is how clinoptilolite binds to histamine, ammonium and heavy metals. The negative charge also means it has a higher affinity for toxic ions which have a higher positive charge, thereby enabling clinoptilolite to selectively bind to toxic substances.

Firstly, clinoptilolite must be cleansed of any toxins it has already absorbed, to both maximise surface area for absorption and to stop it from potentially adding toxins to the body, unlike crushed clinoptilolite.

Secondly, to ensure the clinoptilolite doesn’t increase the burden on the liver, only clinoptilolite which has a specific particle size can be used. This ensures it isn’t absorbed by the body. Anything below 3 micrometres will be absorbed by the gut, and in those with leaky gut this is slightly higher. Therefore, the clinoptilolite particle should be between 6 – 10 micrometres (thousandth of a mm) to absorb the maximum amount of toxins in the gut without passing through the stomach or intestinal wall. Instead, processed clinoptilolite binds toxins in the gastrointestinal tract and is directly eliminated via natural bowel movements. This reduces the toxic burden on the liver, giving it more capacity to do its job as a metabolic organ.

Tests simulating the digestive tract show that correctly processed clinoptilolite can bind 45% of mercury, 94% of histamine and 85% of ammonium, and reports have shown that this highly safe way of detoxifying the body is not detrimental to the balance of micronutrients in the body. A fully referenced article in pdf format is available on request from lucy.sherley-dale@naturaldispensary.co.uk

The original article can be located here.

Electro magnetic radiation – how are you affected?

Does your head or ear ever feel hot when you talk on your mobile or cordless (DECT) phone?  Thermal heating from these types of phones is an accepted fact and there is significant scientific debate about the long term effect of this heating.

But it is not just mobiles or indeed talking on mobiles that concerns scientists.  Our wireless world is expanding rapidly and the electro-magnetic (EMFs) emission from technology is 100 million times higher than it was 50 years ago.  We are all immersed in ‘electro-pollution’ and awareness of the potential negative long-term effects of this electro-pollution is increasing.  Children are deemed to be more vulnerable. Read more »

Triple Helix Beta Glucan from Shiitake

Lentinan and shiitake mycelium

The shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes) is the second most popular edible mushroom in the world. The mushroom and its components have been studied intensely for a long time with records going back over 3000 years. It has been shown that a beta glucan cell wall constituent extracted from fruiting bodies or the mycelium of the Shiitake mushroom has anticancer, antiviral and anti-microbial properties [1]. The beta glucan is known as Lentinan (β-1,3:β-1,6-glucan). It has been studied extensively for immune modulating/stimulating effects and anticancer effects [2,3].

Lentinan and triple helix structure

Lentinan and Shiitake mycelium concentrate are high molecular beta glucan products produced from the Shiitake mushroom [4]. In its native state the beta glucan molecule has a triple helix structure and breaking the structure to single helix will impair the efficacy of the beta glucan molecule. The production method commonly used to produce Lentinan damages the triple helix structure of the beta glucan molecule whilst the production method used for Shiitake mycelium concentrate leaves the beta glucan in its triple helix structure. This new production method and the composition of the mycelium concentrate product are patented.

Lentinan and trip helix structure

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy will invariably damage or weaken a patient’s immunological defenses, which may also have been damaged by the cancer itself. A new awareness and directions in cancer therapy are emerging, based on modification of the host biological response to malignant invasion.

Compounds that do modify the host immune system – biological response modifiers – are now evolving as a fourth approach to cancer therapy in addition to surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy [5]. In essence, such treatments will be more biological in action than cytotoxic.

Also, within a holistic approach to cancer therapy there is now increasing emphasis given to the patient’s quality of life following the curative procedures.

Survival should not be the sole criterion for assessing treatment results. Consequently, it has increasingly become an accepted practice that the oncologist should combine all available disciplines that could contribute to patient welfare after the main treatment has attempted to destroy the primary cancer site.

Delivering anticancer agents by oral methods is becoming increasingly important in cost reduction of the regime for a disease that needs prolonged treatments and for the patients increasing preference and improved quality of life.

Quality of life as well as survival time is significantly supported by stimulation of the immune system.

Lentinan has proven successful in prolonging the overall survival of cancer patients, especially those with gastric and colorectal carcinoma while patients with inoperable or recurrent gastric cancer tumor responses and prolonged median survival have also been demonstrated. Only few adverse symptoms to Lentinan have been noted.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Lentinan use in conjunction with chemotherapy is its apparent ability to greatly reduce the debilitating effects of the chemotherapy, e.g. nausea, pain, hair loss and lowered immune status.

Clinical trials with oral lentinan

There is a wealth of scientific information about Lentinan as an anticancer agent when given intravenously. The earlier successful study results with Lentinan supports the use of Lentinan as an adjuvant, particularly in the treatment of gastric, pancreatic and other cancers of the digestive tract.

New developments have made Lentinan preparations bioavailable when taken orally. Recent studies with oral absorbable Lentinan preparations show beneficial effects when combined with anti-cancer therapy. It improves quality of life in patients treated with chemotherapy and contributes to survival time.

To read more click here to download the comprehensive pdf.

You know about Garlic, but do you know about Allicin?

The Englishman’s Doctor (Harrington, 1609)

“Garlic then have power to save from death. Bear with it though it maketh unsavory breath. And scorn not garlic like some that think It maketh men wink and drink and stink” 

Garlic History

Garlic has been used therapeutically and as a culinary herb for centuries and many practitioners will have recommended it in one form or another and in some cases, had varying results. Often called one of the world’s greatest herbs, in ancient societies it was even believed to have a god like status.

Thankfully, science is now showing us that this valuable herb has an important role to play as a therapeutic agent and that it is not just history and hearsay. And a lot of science is based around one active principle, Allicin. A substance that is not even present in fresh garlic.

Read more »

Nutritional approaches for immune health

Confined spaces with people sneezing and coughing, damp and cold, lack of sunlight, combine that with stress of some kind, poor sleep, an underlying health problem or some kind of infection or inflammation and our body’s defence mechanisms are taxed to the max. We may also be taking antibiotics which will weaken us further through their indiscriminate effects on our good bugs whose critical role underpins our resistance to disease.

Our immune system is capable of mounting an instant response through innate immunity or can mobilise slower responses with adaptive immunity. Inflammation as part of the normal process should rise and fall. However a variety of factors can contribute to ongoing inflammation, weakened immunity and autoimmune responses.  Making sure we have a healthy bacterial population but also eating nutrient dense foods may be lacking in many individuals. Certainly when there are crucial missing elements of diet such as fermented foods, oily fish and green vegetables combined with the more usual processed diet will further weaken immunity.

Read more »