Help Pharmaceutical companies learn about you!

Whether you’re taking pharmaceutical drugs, or alternative medications, be part of a survey so they can get a better idea of what people need.

Centocor Ortho Biotech and UCB Pharmaceuticals is looking into researching two specific demographics of RA sufferers. The first group is for people who are using IV therapy and the second group is for people who are not using IV / injection treatment and are not using biologic meds.  Take this quick and easy survey if you’d like to be part of research.  It will only take a few minutes, I promise!  ((CLICK HERE))

The Curse of Fibrin

clotting

If Fibrin didn’t exist, we would bleed to death, literally. But when Fibrin goes awry, it can lead to a host of diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Cystic Fibrosis, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Fibrocystic Breasts, Endometriosis, Fibroids, Thrombosis, Cardiovascular Disease, Liver Cirrhosis, Heart Disease and a host of many other diseases involving inflammation.

When Fibrin works as it should:

“Fibrin (also called Factor Ia) is a fibrous protein involved in the clotting of blood, and is non globular. It is a fibrillar protein that is polymerised to form a “mesh” that forms a hemostatic plug or clot (in conjunction with platelets) over a wound site.”-Wikipedia

When Fibrin is the bad guy:

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

“Recent research has shown that fibrin plays a key role in the inflammatory response and development of rheumatoid arthritis.”-Wikipedia

Scar Tissue:

Not all scar tissue is considered bad necessarily, but when it’s in your organs, it can lead to terrible problems.  And when it’s in your brain, it can lead to Multiple Sclerosis.

The below paragraph says that there are “no direct treatments for elevated levels”, meaning fibrin levels, yet anyone taking serrapeptase or studying alternative medications and diseases and knows about enzymatic therapy knows that you can reduce fibrin levels with certain supplements and can effectively reduce your CRP.  So why are so many doctors in the dark about this?

“Sometimes fibrinogen (the test) is ordered, along with other cardiac risk markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), to help determine a patient’s overall risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This use of fibrinogen has not gained widespread acceptance though, because there are no direct treatments for elevated levels. However, many doctors feel that fibrinogen measurements give them additional information that may lead them to be more aggressive in treating those risk factors that they can influence (such as cholesterol and HDL).”-www.labtestsonline.org

“Fibrinogen is an acute phase reactant, meaning that fibrinogen concentrations may rise sharply in any condition that causes inflammation or tissue damage. Elevated concentrations of fibrinogen are not specific — they do not tell the doctor the cause or location of the disturbance. Usually these elevations in the fibrinogen blood level are temporary, returning to normal after the underlying condition has been resolved. Elevated levels may be seen with:

While fibrinogen levels are elevated, a person’s risk of developing a blood clot may be increased and, over time, they could contribute to an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease.” –www.labtestsonline.org

If elevated fibrinogen levels are involved in inflammatory disorders, then here is a longer list of inflammatory disorders that would greatly improve with the direct decrease of fibrinogen:

“Abnormalities associated with inflammation comprise a large, officially unrelated group of disorders which underlie a vast variety of human diseases. The immune system is often involved with inflammatory disorders, demonstrated in both allergic reactions and some myopathies, with many immune system disorders resulting in abnormal inflammation. Non-immune diseases with etiological origins in inflammatory processes are thought to include cancer, atherosclerosis, and ischaemic heart disease.[4]

A large variety of proteins are involved in inflammation, and any one of them is open to a genetic mutation which impairs or otherwise dysregulates the normal function and expression of that protein.

Examples of disorders associated with inflammation include:

Allergies

An allergic reaction, formally known as type 1 hypersensitivity, is the result of an inappropriate immune response triggering inflammation. A common example is hay fever, which is caused by a hypersensitive response by skin mast cells to allergens. Pre-sensitised mast cells respond by degranulating, releasing vasoactive chemicals such as histamine. These chemicals propagate an excessive inflammatory response characterised by blood vessel dilation, production of pro-inflammatory molecules, cytokine release, and recruitment of leukocytes.[4] Severe inflammatory response may mature into a systemic response known as anaphylaxis.

Other hypersensitivity reactions (type 2 and type 3) are mediated by antibody reactions and induce inflammation by attracting leukocytes which damage surrounding tissue.[4]

Myopathies

Inflammatory myopathies are caused by the immune system inappropriately attacking components of muscle, leading to signs of muscle inflammation. They may occur in conjunction with other immune disorders, such as systemic sclerosis, and include dermatomyositis, polymyositis, and inclusion body myositis.[4]

Leukocyte defects

Due to the central role of leukocytes in the development and propagation of inflammation, defects in leukocyte function often result in a decreased capacity for inflammatory defense with subsequent vulnerability to infection.[4] Dysfunctional leukocytes may be unable to correctly bind to blood vessels due to surface receptor mutations, digest bacteria (Chediak-Higashi syndrome), or produce microbicides (chronic granulomatous disease). Additionally, diseases affecting the bone marrow may result in abnormal or few leukocytes.

Pharmacological

Certain drugs or exogenic chemical compounds are known to affect inflammation. Vitamin A deficiency causes an increase in inflammatory responses,[8] and anti-inflammatory drugs work specifically by inhibiting normal inflammatory components.

Cancer

Inflammation orchestrates the microenvironment around tumours, contributing to proliferation, survival and migration. Cancer cells use selectins, chemokines and their receptors for invasion, migration and metastasis.[9] On the other hand, many cells of the immune system contribute to cancer immunology, suppressing cancer.”-wikipedia

If you’re not convinced by wikipedia that too much fibrin is bad news, plenty of other good sources for information are out there, including pubmed.  Just do a quick google search on fibrin.

Hodgkin’s Disease: “Fibrin deposits were observed in the involved lymph nodes and/or spleens of 15 patients with Hodgkin’s disease by specific immunofluorescence and by electron microscopy. Two basic patterns of fibrin deposition were observed: 1) intercellular deposits, chiefly associated with nonneoplastic-appearing lymphoid cells and 2) deposits associated with the collagen fibers of young connective tissue. In addition, coarse fibrin deposits were observed in areas of necrosis, presumably a non-specific finding. Fibronectin was also observed in intercellular areas, but staining was less intense than for fibrin. Fibrin deposits were also observed in 3 of 6 cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, indicating that the finding is not an exclusive feature of Hodgkin’s disease. The pathogenesis and possible significance of fibrin deposition in Hodgkin’s disease are related to earlier observations of activation of the coagulation system on neoplasia and cell-mediated immunity and to the possible role of fibrin, fibronectin, and their breakdown products in angiogenesis and fibroplasia.”-pubmed

Multiple Sclerosis: “Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a neuronal as well as the key fibrinolytic enzyme, is found concentrated on demyelinated axons in multiple sclerosis lesions together with fibrin(ogen) deposits. The decreased tPA activity in normal-appearing white and grey matter and lesions of multiple sclerosis is reflected in diminished fibrinolysis as measured by a clot lysis assay. Nonetheless, peptide products of fibrin, including D-dimer, accumulate on demyelinated axons-the result of fibrinogen entry through a compromised blood-brain barrier (BBB). Analysis of tissue samples on reducing and non-reducing polyacrylamide gels demonstrates complexes of tPA with plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) but not with neuroserpin, a tPA-specific inhibitor concentrated in grey matter. As total tPA protein remains unchanged in acute lesions and the concentration of PAI-1 rises several fold, complex formation is a probable cause of the impaired fibrinolysis. Although the tPA-plasmin cascade promotes neurodegeneration in excitotoxin-induced neuronal death, in inflammatory conditions with BBB disruption it has been demonstrated to have a protective role in removing fibrin, which exacerbates axonal injury. The impaired fibrinolytic capacity resulting from increased PAI-1 synthesis and complex formation with tPA, which is detectable prior to lesion formation, therefore has the potential to contribute to axonal damage in multiple sclerosis.”-pubmed

Since most of us are never ordered a fibrinogen test from the doctor, then my best assumption is that any tests that show an elevation of inflammation, would therefore mean that there is too much fibrin in the blood.  As you can see, too much fibrin results in inflammation and can lead to disease.  The only therapies that I know of that reduce fibrin are enzymatic therapies, which is why I take serrapeptase.   I prefer brands that are enterically coated.  Feel free to share your fibrin story.

Accupuncture Visits for Rheumatoid Arthritis

I admit it, I’ve done a terrible job keeping up with posts on how acupuncture is going for me.  So rather than waiting to write a post where I tell you exactly how many visits I’ve had and what’s happened at each one, etc., I’m just going to take the easy road and make it simple.  I’ve gone to every Saturday appointment except for two and last Saturday I got a parking ticket….so much for letting that relaxed feeling linger……

I can tell you that whenever I do go in for acupuncture, I get a flare during the visit.  You might think that sounds terrible, but to me I think of it as progress.  Anything natural will make you flare up, it’s just part of the process.  And that’s the hardest part really, is how to tell the difference between something that is making you worse or something that is making you better when they both have the same reactions.  This excludes immune suppressive drugs because they work entirely differently.

Within an hour usually, my flare subsides and lately I feel fairly great for a few days before the inflammation comes back to its normal state.  I would definitely say the acupuncture is making a positive difference, however it’s very slight.  I’ve decided to keep going however, based on theory.  So here are my theories on why I should keep going to acupuncture:

1.  Acupuncture increases endorphins.  Endorphins help heal the body.  Therefore, I must be doing some, even if it’s small, amount of healing during the visit.

2.  Acupuncture increases circulation.  Over time, perhaps increasing the circulation will make a bigger decrease in the amount of inflammation in my body.

3.  Even if the decrease in inflammation is very slight, it is still something.  And perhaps that small amount will slow down the erosion and disability.

4.  The Placebo effect.  As long as I don’t get any more parking tickets, perhaps the placebo effect of thinking the acupuncture is helping somewhat, will help decrease the inflammation.

Michael has been using a Chinese technique that would make some people cringe where you prick near the fingernail with a needle in certain spots (on a few of the fingers on each hand) and cause your hands to bleed for a moment.  Maybe that doesn’t sound fun to you, and it isn’t really.  It’s nothing compared to RA pain.  I do, in all honesty feel like it is decreasing the inflammation more so than it was before he had tried this technique.  I was glad that he was open to asking me if I’d like to try it because most people would probably be against the idea.  To me it makes logical sense as well, that it would increase circulation.

So there you have it in a nutshell.  I’m going in tomorrow and this time I’ll circle around for 10 minutes if I have to so I can find a parking spot that doesn’t allow for any more cruel tickets.  I hope you all have a great weekend and thanks as always for visiting!

Health before Wealth

Recently I was talking to my mom about the newest thing I’m thinking of trying. It’s suppose to balance the pH of your water, along with add electrolytes and minerals. (see link) She asked, “How can you afford to take all of these things?”

The truth is, financially I can’t really. I’m stretched as thin as a rubber band, ready to break at any moment. These are hard, economical times.

On the flipside, can I afford to NOT keep trying new therapies in hope that remission will soon be giving me a high five at my doorstep? Sure I’m feeling great in a sense that I’m completely functional with RA. But as long as I’m not in remission, there’s still damage being done. I’m thinking long term. It’s the same as keeping up on your teeth cleaning. If you don’t, you could end up with some serious tooth decay, along with heart conditions and toxins invading your body. What kind of damage is happening to my hands long term? And there’s no guarantee with conventional drugs either that you can skip out on the deformities. Just clue into a recent post and you’ll see that hand deformity is just like the disease itself in that it varies from person to person. So you have to do your best to get inflammation under control no matter what you’re taking. Even if you’re taking DMARD’s and Biologics, you have to consider that eating right and exercising would be a wise, helpful choice since these medications can raise cancer risks, among other things. Our bodies are long term investments.

From time to time expense comes up as a topic in my RA support group. The idea of going organic, buying fresh food vs packaged, and taking supplements that can improve overall health seems too expensive to some. Most people embrace the burden of the extra costs, but a few need encouragement that long term, investing in the right foods and supplements will save money. This is particularly tough when a lot of us, including myself are living paycheck to paycheck. What you pay now at the grocery mart will help determine the costs of your future medical bills. Just like I am spending money on supplements, rather than movies or haircuts, I’m figuring that the money I spend now could make for a less expensive health bill in the future. Not only that, but the better I feel and the more that I can do, the better chance I have at making more money in the future, simply because I’ll be able to keep up a career and hopefully advance in that career.

So my motto is, when you’re trying to decide what to eat for lunch and your choice is a hamburger on the doller menu or that organic salad with grilled, free range chicken that were raised without antibiotics….. choose the latter. Because in my opinion, you’re going to be paying for your health in one way or another.

Trusting Your Doctor

I was speaking with a friend who just got results from her doctor, saying her liver enzymes were raised. The doctor advised her not to drink any alcohol. I immediately asked, “Are you taking Ibuprofen?” I knew her knee had been hurting her, and she wasn’t one to avoid over the counter medications. Her response was, “but my doctor said Ibuprofen would not raise my enzymes like that.”

I feel like I’ve heard this type of story a hundred times. You or a friend go to the doctor and something is wrong, and the doctor never gets to the bottom of it. Why? In many cases, I think the reason is because some doctors fail to listen or ask questions. They’re on a time schedule. They do a quick assessment. They make assumptions.

Though I’ve had some great doctors in my life, I’ve been disappointed just as many or more times. One of these visits was when I was fifteen. I had my wisdom teeth out. They weren’t quite in yet, but because of previous braces,it was suggested to remove the roots of the wisdom teeth before they formed, so my other teeth wouldn’t become crooked again. And despite how many times I went to the orthopedic surgeon to tell him I was in severe pain and something wasn’t right, he disregarded it, handing me heavier pain medications. He gave me codeine. The codeine didn’t help much, the pain was so severe. Finally, on my last visit, the surgeon realized I had an infection.  After a few days of antibiotics, my pain was gone! Had I simply believed the doctor was right and my pain was just a result of recovery, what could have happened if the infection had lasted longer?

For my friend, I knew she had gone in to see the doctor because her knees were bothering her. She’s a dancer and her dancing is very hard on her knees. I asked her how much ibuprofen she was taking each day. Knowing painkillers don’t work that great when you’re having chronic severe pain, I knew it was highly likely she was taking too much. It turned out she was taking over the maximum dosage. If the doctor had taken the time to really listen to his patient and ask questions, he would have figured this out. Instead, a patient with ill advice will continue taking the high dose of ibuprofen, further damaging her liver and her intestinal tract, later to find other chronic diseases up ahead.

I feel like our health system severely lacks preventative care. Without a doctor’s listening ear, problems go on unnoticed and as a result health care rises because ailments continue to spike. And when someone gets an ailment such as damaged intestines due to too much NSAIDs usage, autoimmune diseases like “leaky gut syndrome”, IBS, Crohn’s, Lupus, Fibromialgia and RA might be the result. Then what comes next? More painkillers, steroids and other various drugs that will further damage the body, causing more and more harm.

I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say what’s best. And because everyone’s chemistry is different, it’s hard to say how some people will react. But I do think that other choices are out there before you hit the drugs. Exhausting those choices first, in my opinion, is your best bet. For my friend, I can think of a few options off the top of my head that could help. Strengthening the muscles around the knee offer as a natural knee brace. I would suggest that she stops the painful movements in her dance class for a while and instead, works on reinforcing the muscles surrounding her knee. I would make this physical therapy a top priority and a continuous effort. Next, I would use a cream that’s great for the knees and will help bring down the inflammation. And when she’s resting at home and in pain, I would recommend that she elevates her leg and wraps an ace bandage around her knee to help push the swelling out.

Beyond that, of course there’s supplements that will reduce the swelling in her knee instead of using painkillers. For her liver, I would suggest considering three supplements that help the liver function. That I know of, those are milk thistle, N-acetylcysteine and SAM-e. SAM-e is particularly great because it would help her knee and her liver. N-acetylcysteine is a little more complicated because it pulls out toxic metals and requires additional vitamin C. Taking a supplement like Ultra Antioxidant from pro-health would cover the basics of what’s involved with this supplement in particular.

In the end, it’s important that you trust your doctor. If your doctor is not listening and not asking questions, life is too short…find one who will!

The Ripple Effect

Getting older is tough enough.  Watching your body change as you get older is a gradual process.  A gray hair here, a gray hair there.  A wrinkle here, a wrinkle there.  As the days move forward, at least you know everyone else is in the same boat.

But getting older with an autoimmune disease, in my opinion, is far more difficult.  You plunge head first into a scary world, and you imagine this must be what it feels like to be 90.  Losing abilities, taking pills daily, watching your body change at a very fast rate can be not only frustrating and painful, but detrimental to your mental health.  Each day is different.  You might notice new rashes on your skin, new bumps or bruises, or another task left uncompleted because of lost ability or weakness.  I remember clumps of hair falling out in the shower.  I felt sort of like a cancer patient.  The kinds of things you go through are just not meant for daily conversations.  So you feel alone and trapped in your own skin.

Luckily however, I have been able to get my Rheumatoid Arthritis under control with alternative medications that don’t have side effects.  My hair no longer falls out in clumps.  I rarely get new bumps or rashes.  And I am able and agile enough to once again live a full and productive life.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post.  This post is about the unknown and that gripping fear that although everything seems ok at the moment, the likelihood that more problems are in your future, especially as you grow older, is likely to occur.  And don’t say that I’m living life with a glass half-empty.  I am optimistic that whatever arises, I’ll be able to handle and possibly even get control of by taking more supplements.  But my point is, is that it is likely that if you get one autoimmune disease, there may be more to follow.

My first autoimmune disease was a skin disease.  It’s located on my shins and called Necrobiosis Lipoidica.  At first I was told it was Granuloma Annulare and the doctor showed me a picture of a woman with it all over her body.  This conclusion of course, was horrifying to me because for the next five years, I worried I’d be covered with shiny, scaly scars.  Fortunately, the doctor was wrong and instead, I was diagnosed later with Necrobiosis Lipoidica, which is a skin disease that only affects the shins.  Both skin diseases usually accompany diabetes, so the doctor was confused why not only did I not have diabetes, but it did not run in my family.  Later, in my research of Rheumatoid Arthritis, I learned that Necrobiosis Lipoidica sometimes is associated with RA.  Around those same years that I developed this, I also got pleurisy, which is a painful inflammation of the lining between your lungs and your ribs.  Antibiotics seemed to clear it up and it was probably a result of living in such polluted air.  Pleurisy, however,  is a frequent symptom of Lupus and it sometimes accompanies RA.  Fast forward four years and I’m diagnosed with Hypothyroidism.  My gynecologist caught it, otherwise this would have probably gone on for years without me realizing.  Then seven years later I was diagnosed with RA.

The reality is, most people with an autoimmune disease like RA or Lupus, usually have many more autoimmune diseases.  It can be a ripple effect.  Whether it’s the diseases themselves, the lifestyles that accompany the diseases, or the medications, more and more seem to pile up.  I’m glad to be on alternative medications because I know I’m taking things that might just possibly reverse the disease process.  But there’s always that side of me, that terrified side, like a voice in the back of my head that says, “What’s next?”  This time at least, I know that I’m doing all that I can do.  I’m armed with knowledge.  I’m taking supplements that improve my health.  I’m eating better, sleeping more and consuming fewer toxins.  There’s nothing more that we can do besides enjoy every day for what it is, knowing life is uncertain, so whatever each day may bring, let it be the best that it can be.

Joe Greer

Greer

If I were to dress up as a doctor for Halloween, perhaps I’d be Greer and add wings on my back.  Greer is an absolute angel.  He doesn’t just serve people with insurance, but he also takes in people who have nothing to offer him.  His services awarded him a “2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his 25 years of dedication, at a White House ceremony with President Obama.”

I wish a person like Greer didn’t surprise me that he even exists.  I mean, who heard of such a thing, a doctor who got into the business for the right reasons?  I’m shocked!!

I’d rather not be shocked.  I’d rather be shocked when people don’t help others.  I’d rather be shocked that a crime was committed on the street and there was one person who didn’t try and help.

It is comforting though that someone like Greer is out there, and that he is teaching.  Maybe just maybe the world CAN become a better place and that health care for all is right around the corner.  :)

%d bloggers like this: