Chronic Inflammation and Genes

December 14, 2016

Could chronic inflammation be causing your child’s mystery symptoms? Our son has suffered from inflammation since birth. DNA testing has finally provided answers.

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Dealt a Raw Deal

Chronic inflammation has held Little Man in its angry grip since birth—he is now 9.

Inflammation has affected his speech and movement, and has landed him in the hospital with asthma more times than I want to recount.

I remember Dr. Kendal Stewart’s brutal honesty at a recent check-up.

Your boy has been dealt a pretty raw deal,” he said. “He’s hit the inflammation jackpot.”

What is this jackpot?

For Little Man it is two conditions—methylation deficiency and mitochondrial dysfunction. Pile onto these two conditions environmental toxins and chemicals and you have a recipe for off the chart inflammation.

I think back to the months I was pregnant with Little Man and what I would have done differently. Though I will save all that for another post, one thing I would have done in a heartbeat is moved as far away from that LA freeway as I could. We lived perched on a bluff above I-215 and the signs were all around us—literally. This one in particular was posted on the gates of our property. Did I pay heed to it? No. And that’s one big time regret.

Thinking of getting pregnant in California? Heed to Californian Proposition 65 warning. It's for real!

But onward we go.

I can’t look back.

Only forward.

Today I read every food label. I question the off-gassing stench of that new area rug (it was promptly returned). We have installed a whole-house water filtration system. I carefully consider all immunizations—especially ones carrying live viruses. I question our need for WIFI 24/7. I do what I can to maintain a home and environment that is pure, clean and toxin-free.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation plays a significant role in autoimmune diseases, mental illness, obesity, diabetes, ADD/ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, cancer, arthritis, asthma, eczema and psoriasis. In fact, inflammation is the key to at least 70% of the disease states known to man.

It is important to understand that inflammation, when regulated, is not a bad thing. It is a proper response of the immune system—a defense mechanism that allows our body to deal with invaders that don’t belong in it.

That said, the immune process must also regulate itself. It must know when to turn “on” and fight, and when to turn “off” when the job’s done. If it fails to switch “off,” the immune system remains on high alert and inflammation becomes too aggressive. And with a broken “off” switch, the body can enter a state of chronic inflammation.

Genes and Chronic Inflammation

The regulatory mechanism behind inflammation is very complex and touchy. Dr. Stewart, a Neurotologist and Neuroimmune/Genomic Specialist sees this in his practice every day. Most of his patients have immune systems that are running off the chart and in his research has found that most of these patients have specific genes that possess the same single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) —abnormalities with CTLA4, STAT4, IL13, IL4R and/or TNF being very common.

In a recent podcast, Dr. Stewart shared a wealth of insight on the topic of inflammation—particularly chronic inflammation. The knowledge shared on Coffee with Doctor Stewart blows me away every time. It is FREE access into the minds and findings of some of the most brilliant, cutting-edge medical doctors of our time.

The first podcast I listened to left me in tears, because finally, FINALLY someone GOT my child and all that we were struggling with. It was in that moment that I knew we had to get in to see Dr. Stewart.

After a seven-month wait, we flew to Austin, Texas for our first appointment. Dr. Stewart listened patiently as my husband and I rambled off a long list of Little Man’s symptoms and medical history that I keep in a 5-inch binder. Then, he smiled compassionately and handed us a DNA test kit.

If you were to see Dr. Stewart today, the first thing he’d want to do is take a good look at your genes—particularly your genetic abnormalities. He’d do this with a simple cheek swab. Soon enough you’d realize what a game changer knowing your genetic weaknesses can be.

Prior to working with Dr. Stewart, we relied mostly on doctors’ hunches.

“Let’s remove this food, experiment with that supplement, try this therapy and see what happens.’

This hit or miss approach to medicine gets very costly, very quickly. We know from experience.

For us, genetic testing finally provided the harder proof we had been looking for. Years of medical testing told us something was wrong. Genetic testing finally told us why. And with the “why” at his fingertips Dr. Stewart has been able to provide an evidence-based, strategic approach to healing Little Man. We are so grateful!

Turning Down Chronic Inflammation

At our last visit, Dr. Stewart had some news that he was excited to share with us. He had identified four compounds that, in his research, proved to help turn chronic inflammation down—and even off—in individuals with faulty switches.

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These 4 compounds are:

Steroids

Steroids are a very effective off switch. In acute situations they can help reduce pain and save lives. However, steroids are just too dangerous to use long term. Exceptions are the natural steroids progesterone and testosterone. Interestingly, when a child enters puberty and these sex hormone levels begin to rise, asthma and many chronic inflammatory conditions in children can resolve or significantly diminish. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? We are waiting with bated breath.

Low Dose Naltrexone

When the body is stressed it makes endorphins to calm the nervous system and tells the immune system to rev up. Prescription Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is an opiate blocker. At very low doses, it gently blocks the opiate receptor and calms the immune system without affecting the nervous system. LDN is very touchy, some tolerate it very well—calling it life-changing—some not as well. Talk to your doctor about it.

Vanilla Bean

Inflammation responds to vanillins—a compound found in vanilla beans. Dr. Stewart has found it to be a little weak for his very sick patients, but says it definitely can help. We dose Little Man with 1/3 teaspoon ground vanilla beans in his morning smoothie.

CBD Hemp Oil

In Dr. Stewart’s practice, cannabidol (CBD) has been highly beneficial in treating inflammation. CBD oil derived from hemp (Cannabis Sativa) is virtually free of the mind-altering THC found in marijuana (Cannabis Indica). There is an enormous amount of research out there on CBD and the recently discovered Endocannabinoid System. CBD Hemp Oil is taken in drop form and is federally legal in all 50 U.S. states. It is proving to help with seizures, inflammation, pain, anxiety, PTSD and overall homeostasis of the body. Little Man takes 10mg of cannabidiol per day. If you are interested in purchasing the same high quality CBD oil we use at a discount, you can order it here at Flo and Grace.

The Inflammation: What It is and How Does it Affect Our Health Coffee With Doctor Stewart podcast episode goes into greater detail about these latest techniques for managing chronic inflammation, be sure to give it a listen.

 

How to Test Your DNA

Thankfully, from genetic testing we can see things we have never seen before. If after listening to Dr. Stewart’s podcasts you suspect you are dealing with inflammation or other neuro-immune condition, get your DNA tested.

The beautiful thing is that this genetic testing requires no needles, no poking, no prodding. Simply request a 55 Gene Test Kit from a Genomix Nutrition Provider or good friend of mine and Nutrition Therapist, Christy Thiel.

The test consists of a simple cheek swab that is sent to the Genomix Nutrition lab for testing and interpretation.

What You Get

  1. Clinical definitions on what each SNP means to you and your health.
  2. Recommended nutrients and nutritional oversight on how to overcome your genetic weaknesses (SNPs)
  3. Nutritional product recommendations for these particular genetic SNPs
  4. Scientific references on each SNP from top medical journals and research abstracts.

Cost for the test varies by provider. The test alone and the Genomix Nutrition report should run $400-$500. What consultation and/or follow-up costs a provider adds to this base price varies. Many providers, like Christy, are happy to work with you via Skype or phone.

Find the Answers to Your Mystery Symptoms

Genetic testing just may hold answers to the mystery symptoms you live with. Knowing and understanding your personal genetic weaknesses or SNPs is the future of medicine. And the future is here. Testing offered by companies like Genomix Nutrition are becoming the gold standard for identifying dysfunction in the critical engines of body—in methylation, neurotransmitter function, mitochondrial function, detoxification and inflammatory potential.

Give Coffee with Doctor Stewart podcasts a listen and begin the journey to understanding and taking control of your health.

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19 comments

More Good Stuff

19 comments

Sarah December 14, 2016 - 5:55 pm

I never knew that about vanilla beans, interesting. Did the doctor ever say anything about turmeric for inflammation? Or reducing foods that cause inflammation? I know there are some that aren’t good for me and I’ve found adding in golden milk and turmeric I’ve done better but I wouldn’t compare mine to what’s going on with your little guy.

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Alexa December 15, 2016 - 9:53 am

Yes, turmeric is a good one. We love golden milk, too. Curcumin is in one of his supplements and I use it fairly often in cooking with a pinch of pepper. Food is huge—a massive part of his healing and where we started 8 years ago.

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Alisa Fleming December 14, 2016 - 7:11 pm

Such an amazing boy – I’m hopeful for all of you that his inflammation permanently finds it’s way down. I think you’re on the right track mama!

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Alexa December 15, 2016 - 9:48 am

I think he’s pretty amazing, too! What this kid has taught me about love, compassion, tolerance and joy are beyond measure! xo

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Elizabeth Shaw December 14, 2016 - 7:27 pm

What a powerful post. I learned so many things here, wishing your little one ease and relief.

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Alexa December 15, 2016 - 9:47 am

Thank you Elizabeth.

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Julie @ Running in a Skirt December 15, 2016 - 7:14 am

I’m so sorry this has been your journey. I’m also so glad you searched and finally got some answers. I’ve had some health issues through life and one thing I’ve learned is you have to be your own advocate… and it sounds like you are doing that for your son. You can’t ask for anymore!

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Alexa December 15, 2016 - 9:46 am

Yes, we all have our own journey, but I am learning that challenges are what do the refining work and in a strange way make life have meaning and purpose. You are right about being your own advocate. I’ve become much bolder and open minded. xo

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Meg @ With Salt and Wit December 15, 2016 - 4:05 pm

This is an awesome read! Thank you for sharing this with us!

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Taylor Kiser December 15, 2016 - 8:23 pm

This was such an informative post. So glad you now have your “why” and hoping there will be relief for your son.

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Alexa December 16, 2016 - 9:22 am

Thank you Taylor. I am glad it was helpful.

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Jessica @ Nutritioulicious December 15, 2016 - 8:39 pm

I’m so sorry for the pain you’re family has had to endure in dealing with the health of your little boy. But you should be proud of your strength to find answers and not be debilitated by the reality of the situation. I’m grateful for you that you have found some answers and I hope the healing process can begin.

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Alexa December 16, 2016 - 9:22 am

Thank you Jessica! A few gray hairs later and I am a better person 🙂 for it all. This Little Man has taught us so much of compassion and acceptance and that we can’t control everything in our lives.

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Laura December 16, 2016 - 7:32 am

What a long, arduous journey to healing. I’m so grateful you found a doctor who truly cared to discover the root of your son’s symptoms and scientifically ( as opposed to guess and test) figured out ways to help him live a better life. What a blessing your sweet boy is!

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Alexa December 16, 2016 - 9:20 am

Thank you Laura!

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MK Thompson January 22, 2017 - 4:40 pm

I am so glad to find your blog! I was recently diagnosed with inflamed messentary and am having a difficult time giving up both gluten and dairy – now I’m eating way too much sugar and salt. I can’t wait to dig through the posts and recipes!!

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Alexa January 23, 2017 - 1:33 pm

MK, well I am thrilled to have you reading Flo & Grace. My heart goes out in a big way to you. The beginning of the journey can be daunting and the healing can take a while, but there is only one direction and that is up and healthier! Gluten and dairy free has become quite easy for us … the sneaky one is sugar … we have to stay on top of that in a big way. One of the best tips I received is to keep sugar to 5g per serving. Or thereabouts. So if a snack bar has 22g sugar, it’s a no go. 6 grams and it’s a go 🙂 Big hug of support to you and let me know if I can be of help in any way.

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Jing October 24, 2017 - 10:57 pm

It’s good t know about this. Thank you for sharing.

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Alexa October 26, 2017 - 8:38 am

You are welcome!

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