Life is Beautiful

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Author: Sharon Grant, PhD (page 2 of 3)

Chlorella for health (P1)

Benefits of taking chlorella

Chlorella is a microalga that grows in fresh water. It has the highest content of chlorophyll of any know plant.  Chlorella is highly nutritious.  Its nutritional composition is: 45% protein, 20% fat, 20% carbohydrates, 5% fiber, and 10% minerals and vitamins. Chlorella is a good source of Chlorophyll, Iron, protein, amino acids, and magnesium (1).

Regarding protein and amino acids, as much as 5% of Chlorella consists of amino acids, (19, including all eight of the essential amino acids). In 100 g of Chlorella powder there is: 1990 mg Isoleucine, 4320 mg Leucine, 3430 mg Lysine, 1280 mg Methionine, 2360 mg Phenylalanine, 2530 mg Threonine, 1030 mg Tryptophan, 2910 mg Valine, 1080 mg Histidine, 730 mg Cystine, 1980 mg Tyrosine, 3080 mg Arginine, 4320 mg Alanine, 4700 mg Aspartic Acid, 6180 mg Glutamic Acid, 2960 mg Glycine, 2370 mg Proline, 2060 mg Serine (2).

Chlorella is a good source of beta-glucan and nucleic acids. It has omega fatty acids in it that promote hormone balance (3 Natures Balance) and cardiovascular health (4 Dockery et al., 2004).  Chlorella also has pro-vitamin A, and vitamins B 12, C, K, E.  it is high in beta-creatine, lutein, thiamine, riboflavin, and pyroxidine, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folic acid (4 Dockery et al., 2004) as well as biotin, iodine, and inositol.

Chlorella has high ratios of RNA/DNA (3), 3 percent for RNA and 0.3 percent for DNA (5). RNA and DNA are needed by cells to form and divide properly.  When there is a breakdown in the production of RNA and DNA, which happens with age, physical deterioration and a loss of energy can occur (5).  Chlorella even has mucopolysaccharides (long-chains of sugar molecules), which are found in joint fluid and mucus amongst other things in the body (6).

Three tablespoons (1-once) of Chlorella has the following nutritional value:

16 grams of protein

133 percent of the daily recommended value of zinc

202 percent of the recommended daily value of iron

22 percent of the daily recommended value of magnesium

287 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin A

71percent of the recommended daily  value of vitamin B2

33 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin B3.

Chlorella also has phosphorus, and vitamin B1 and B6. (7)

Cellular health: Chlorella has high ratios of RNA/DNA (3 Natures Balance), 3 percent for RNA and 0.3 percent for DNA (5). RNA is ribonucleic acid and DNA is deoxyribonucleic acid.  Both have anti-aging functions, RNA and DNA are needed by cells to form and divide properly.  When there is a breakdown in the production of RNA and DNA, which happens with age, physical deterioration and a loss of energy can occur (5).  Further, Chlorella is also high in GLA or Gamma Linoleic Acid, which is a building block of cellular membranes (6).

Chlorella has something called CGF or Chlorella growth factor in it. This stimulates the production of human growth hormones in the pituitary gland.  This helps enhance the replacement of cell tissue and healing (6).  Chlorella is also a good source of both the amino acid Arginine and GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), both of which increase the production of human growth hormone (8 Organic News Room).  This effect is even more pronounced when taken together, or with one of following:  L-Dopa, L-Ornithine and Alpha-GPC (Alpha-glycerophosphocholine).

Weight-loss and metabolic disorder/prediabetes: taking Chlorella supplements can be helpful for weight management. People often over eat in an attempt to get enough of the nutrients (vitamins, minerals and fatty acids) their diet lacks.  This overeating results in excessive insulin production, and a dysfunctional endocrine system, which then leads to more cravings for unhealthy or refined foods.  Chlorella is a great source of nutrition and provides most, or all, the essential nutrients the body needs (6).

Chlorella also assists in insulin signalling while providing a consistent, balanced supply of insulin. Insulin resistance can contribute to nutritional deficiencies by disrupting glucose homeostasis. Insulin is the hormone primarily involved in breakdown, absorption and uptake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (called intermediary metabolism).  This metabolic process underpins glucose homeostasis or blood sugar balance.   This is very important as it greatly impacts how glucose and glycogen are used or stored.  This decision by the body will be a reaction to how much energy the body is using, and how much it is taking in in the form of food.  This mechanism underlies the body’s use of fat as a source of energy for the brain and muscles.  Also for skeletal muscle uptake of amino acids and the liver’s conversion of amino acids into proteins (34).

Chlorella has a balance of carbohydrates and proteins. This provides a consistent supply of energy without the production of excess insulin.  This helps to balance blood sugar and it is the reason Chlorella acts as a natural appetite suppressant (6).

In a human study using both at risk and normal weight subjects, both groups benefited by taking Chlorella supplements. It helped both groups to reduce body fat percentage, total serum cholesterol and to lowered blood glucose levels.  The researchers also found, regarding the at-risk group, that Chlorella positively impacted genes that were involved with fat metabolism and insulin signaling (9).

In animal studies Chlorella supplementation improved blood glucose (blood sugar) sensitivity and lowered serum triglycerides, or fat in the blood. Further, Chlorella inhibited the build up of visceral fat, or fat around major organs like the kidneys, liver and pancreas.  Chlorella also improved lipid metabolism disorders, when the body is not able to break down fat or fat-like substances (fatty acids, waxes, oils and cholesterol) properly (10 Noguchi, et al., 2013).  In an animal study, Chlorella was shown to reduce serum (blood), and liver cholesterol levels significantly in animals fed Chlorella powder.  It was shown in this study that Chlorella converts cholesterol to bile acids in the liver (30).

Chlorella is high in essential fatty acids, including Gamma Linoleic Acid, or GLA. These acids help the body regulate or control cholesterol levels in the blood (6).  Chlorella has the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine, which can act as apatite suppressants (11).

Chlorella stimulates intestinal peristalsis, or the contraction and relaxation of muscles to move food through the digestive system. This helps to optimize digestion, which can aid in weight loss (11). The faster the food moves through the digestive system, called the transit time, the fewer nutrients are absorbed and the more likely the person is to lose weight.  Conversely, the longer the transit time, the more likely they are to gain weight (12).

See page on Chlorella for sources.

Please note, this information is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  Contact a medical professional if you need assistance.

MSM for health and beauty!

MSM or Methylsulfonylmethane: is also called dimethyl sulfone, DMS02, and methyl sulfone.  It is a compound found in many grains, vegetables and fruits as well as diary products and meat.  As a supplement, it is a supplement made primarily from edible, biologically active, organic sulfur.  The body uses it to make amino acids methionine and cysteine (22). The supplement MSM is water soluble, odorless, slightly bitter tasting, white supplement.  It contains 34% elemental sulfur (22).

It can help treat inflammation, immune problems and restore health to skin, muscle and bodily tissue. The body uses sulfur in an abundance of functions, many critical, and is the bodies fourth most abundant mineral (1). Sulfur is very important to the body.  It helps form and hold strands of tissue together, it is essential to the activity of many enzymes necessary for health and well being, and it may regulate the shape of diverse biomolecules.    Ideally, we get sulfur from fresh meat and fish, as well as plant based foods.  We need to consume more sulfur from food sources than we usually get with the modern, western diet of.  Cooking or heating food, as well as processing it, eliminates the sulfur in food (18).

MSM is fairly inexpensive, holds few risks, and does not have a sulfuric odder. Oral supplements of MSM easily crosses the blood brain barrier (BBB) and becomes evenly distributed throughout the brain (12).  If applied to the skin, MSM can remain in the body for up to three weeks, and if taken as a supplement, for one week (18).  It is recommended that animals, of which we are one, get between 0.5 and 1.o milligram/kg of body weight per day (18).

MSM is used for as a beauty and health aid, as well as to treat several conditions. This is a short list of some of them: muscle recovery, including cramps/ problems/recovery, tendonitis, bursitis and to lesson scar tissue build up on muscles (11); also hemorrhoids, osteoarthritis (11), hair, nail, and skin health (sun burn, healing in general), stretch marks, gum disease, and general dental problems; also joint related autoimmune disorders including osteoporosis, Inflammation (arthritis, rheumatoid and osteo);  health problems including obesity, gastro intestinal  problems ( indigestion, upset stomach, constipations, ulcers, and leaky gut syndrome), yeast infections, pre-menstrual syndrome (headaches, cramps, indigestion and water retention), cancer, and bronchial problems like allergies and asthma (12); also eye problems, atherosclerotic issues like thickened or hardened arteries, improved circulation, lower blood pressure, increase energy, and  MSM it helps remove free radicals from the body, so it decreases oxidative stress.

Regarding safety, it is considered to be safe and well-tolerated at doses under 4845.6 mg/day (12).

MSM helps the immune system to work better and helps cells work normally. Cells use sulfur in the release of extra fluids and byproducts that otherwise build up and result in tenderness and swelling (2).

MSM protects against cancer: on its own or combined with other things, has been shown to lesson tumor development and too have anti-cancerous properties in (12;18). This is true for the following cancers: breast, esophagus, stomach, liver, colon, bladder, and skin. MSM is cytotoxic, or toxic, to cancer cells. MSM prevents cell viability by arresting, or stopping, the cell from dividing and reproducing itself twice, called the cell cycle. And, by killing cells, either through killing all of the cells, called necrosis, or by assisting in the normal die off of cells, called apoptosis (12). In animal studies, when cancer-cells are transplanted into an animal treated with MSM, tumor growth, including breast cancer, is suppressed (12;18) and cancer of the lymph nodes or lymphomas (18).

MSM helps cells that are potentially cancerous return to a state closer to a non-cancerous cell. It lessens the likelihood of cancer cells metastasizing or moving to other, healthy, cells/areas, and it makes cancer cells age (12).  In animal studies MSM protected against the harmful effects associated with X-ray exposure (18).

MSM for skin appearance and problems (allergies, rosacea and wounds): MSM can improve the appearance of skin by lessoning redness, improving skin tone overall and lessoning skin’s sensitivity (1; 12). MSM is needed to build keratin (12) and collagen.  MSM mixed with EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) in a lotion was shown to significantly improve edema (swelling due to injury or inflammation) related pitting after only wo weeks of use (12). It is non-irritating to sensitive skin (12).  Skin’s condition and appearance are significantly improved after two or more weeks of MSM treatment (both by users and experts).  MSM mixed with pyruvic acid, made from a type of sugar, and used once a week for two weeks improves elasticity, wrinkling, and melisma.  Rosacea can be helped with MSM mixed with silymarin (12).

The sulfur in MSM is needed to make keratin and collagen within the body. These substances help keep skin elastic and healthy. These nutrients This is why it is thought that MSM helps to keep skin looking young by lessoning scars, dark spots/sun damage and preventing wrinkles (1). MSM is even more powerful in rebuilding new and healthy skin when mixed with the following: vitamins A, C, and E, and antioxidants (1). It is also a natural treatment for eczema (24).

MSM may help bones: in animal studies, supplements corrected epiphysitis, called Sever’s disease in humans. This disease involves an imbalance of calcium and phosphorous leading to pain and inflammation as the bone develops. It is most often seen in children aged 8 to 14 (19).

Regarding skin problems: when MSM is mixed with silymarin can reduce inflammation that increases the time it takes for wounds to heal, causes rosacea (especially subtype 1 called erythemato-telangiectatic phase), allergic reactions and general discoloration of skin (5; (12).

MSM and Hair: because MSM improves the production of collagen and keratin, needed for the body to make new hair, skin cells and nails, it helps stop or revers hair loss (6).

Muscles (Pain and spasms): MSM can improve post work out and surgical recovery. It can lesson cramping, sourness and general discomfort. The body stores the sulfur, found in MSM, in joints and tissues.  Sulfur helps maintain and repair the tissue cells in joints and muscles, which are often fibrous and rigid and which are broken down when muscles are exerted.   Similar to its effect on joints, MSM helps bring back permeability and flexibility to the walls of cells that make up muscle tissue (1; 12; 18).  This allows the nutrients that are necessary for tissue health to pass into the cell with greater ease.  These nutrients help remove lactic acid, responsible for muscle stiffness or burning.    The nutrients also enable repairs to the cells overall. If you take MSM before exercise, it is even more beneficial.

MSM not only helps treat muscle problems (aches, pain and spasms), but it can prevent them. This is as MSM acts like a natural pain reliever or analgesic. It can improve mobility and range of motion as well as reduce swelling and throbbing associated with over use of muscles (from surgery, injury and exercise). MSM works even better when mixed with other anti-inflammatories.

MSM for joints and osteoarthritis: MSM is considered to be a natural anti-inflammatory.  It a micronutrient that can penetrate the cell wall with ease. Inflammation, pain and other health problems may be the result of proteins released by cells, called cytokines (13). MSM reduces cytokine expression.  It also helps the body to make collagen it can help make new tissue (joint and muscle).  It increases joint flexibility (including range of motion), and diminishes inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and pain (2;12;53).  MSM protects cartilage by suppressing the effects of cytokines that are known to destroy cartilage and by helping to normalize cartilage cells that are operating in an unhealthy manner (12). MSM when mixed with the following is even more powerful: Vitamin D., guava leaf extract, boswellic acid, arginine, hydrolyzed type I collagen, bromelain and glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate (12;53).

MSM is reported to improve life quality by those participating in a study on arthritis (after taking 500 ml 3 times per day, in combination with glucosamine, for 12 weeks).

MSM for gout: inflammation is involved in gout, so getting inflammation down, which MSM (3 000 mg 2 times per day) is helpful for, is a good treatment (14;15). Sulfur is necessary to keep joints and connective tissue healthy, so MSM is a way to assist the body in making/repairing collagen and other proteins needed for joints to function (14).

MSM for digestion/gut health: MSM can help with leaky gut syndrome and general digestion. Leaky gut is described as food particles leaching out of the gut and into the bloodstream, where they cause inflammation. MSM (and its sulfur) helps build up the gut’s lining and stop particles from escaping.   MSM also lessens inflammation, which is associated with food allergies (3).  Inflammation, pain and other health problems may be the result of proteins released by cells, called cytokines (13).  MSM reduces cytokine expression regarding colitis.  MSM helps four out of six people suffering from pain and pressure in the bladder and pelvic floor, called interstitial cystitis (12). MSM can inhibit Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia or e-coli in animal studies week (18), so it can help treat food related issues. MSM in human trials has also shown to inhibit the growth of parasites (18).

MSM for bowels: regarding constipation, MSM helps to normalize bowel function (24).

MSM for urinary tract problems: MSM is a treatment for interstitial cystisis, of which most sufferers (up to 90 percent) are female aged 40 to 60. This condition involves feelings of pressure or pain in the bladder (urethral) syndrome (24). MSM takes longer to work, up to several months, but in 80% of cases improvement is reported.

The condition involves lower urinary tract symptoms (burning, pain, frequency, urgency) lasting for six or more weeks, but without a clear cause or obvious infection.  The symptoms can be constant or intermittent, mild or severe, depending on the person.  Women with this problem can have pain with sexual intercourse (and painful vulva or vulvodynia), and it can be co-morbid with fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or other pain problems, including chronic fatigue (25;26).

Interstitial cyctisis or IC which may be the result of illness/infection related damage to the bladder’s inner lining (glycosaminoglycan, or GAG). It may also be due to an overgrowth of yeast (26).

Oral/dental problems: taken by mouth, or used as a mouth wash, MSM can relieve gingivitis related inflammation (24).

MSM for hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids can be incredibly painful and embarrassing. This condition is described as blood vessels in the rectum swelling to the point where going to the bathroom is difficult, and results in bleeding and pain.   A preparation of MSM and tea tree oil decreases swelling and pain associated with hemorrhoids (4).

MSM for body temperature: in animal studies taking this supplement has shown to lower body temperature week (18).

MSM for stress management: MSM has been shown to improve energy levels and mood.   It supports general immune functioning and it can lesson fatigue in the face of exertion and lesson feelings of stress, even when injured. If possible, it should be taken before a stressful even is addressed (8;9).

MSM for allergies: taking 2.6 g a day for 30 days is proven to help relieve both upper and lower respiratory symptoms (12).  Regarding inflammation in lung tissue, pain and other problems may be the result of proteins released by cells, called cytokines (13). MSM reduces cytokine expression.

The liver may benefit from MSM as it reduces inflammation in cases of injury to this organ (12).

Oxidative stress is reduced by MSM. Oxidative stress is described as disrupted performance of cells due to the presence of too many oxygen molecules in the cells.

MSM for obesity, type two diabetes and metabolic disorders: in animal studies MSM supplements helped markedly reduce the levels of blood glucose, or sugar, levels in animals that had been made obese through diet. In these same animals, MSM also significantly reduced overall fat in the blood, called triglycerides, as well as cholesterol. In animals bred to have genetic obesity linked metabolic disorders, those with marked impairment of glucose or blood sugar and lipid, or fat, metabolic profiles were helped significantly by MSM. The supplement ameliorated the problems.   MSM helped to reverse damage done to animals by over-nutrition in the femur microarchitecture. MSM may help with hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, and inflammation (16).

MSM for cognitive health, anxiety and depression: MSM is a cholinesterase inhibitor. Cholinesterase is an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine has many functions. For instance, it regulates muscle contractions (parasympathetic nervous system). Within the brain it helps transmit nerve impulses within the brain and spinal cord, to better facilitate communication between neurons and nerves. Acetylcholine is necessary to encode new memories. Cholinesterase, in small doses, may help people to develop a better memory capability, enhance intelligence and improve on the brain’s plasticity (20). MSM has been shown in studies to stop anticholinesterases (paraoxon, tetraethyl pyrophosphate and octamethyl pyrophosphoramide) which disrupt, or destroy, choline and acetylcholine (18). Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter associated with attention, arousal, motivation and memory, as well as emotional wellbeing and energy as well as what makes muscles function properly (17).

Acetylcholine helps to regulate mood states. So, having a deficiency in acetylcholine may cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. Symptoms of deficiency may be as follows: dry mouth, trouble concentrating, confusion, slow thinking, memory problems, and anxiety, fatigue, and mood swings (21).

Potential side effects of MSM: Kept in mind that for those who have an abundance of acetylcholine, taking MSM may result in anxiety and restless or jittery behavior. Other side effects include: nausea, diarrhea or abdominal pain, fatigue, insomnia, problems concentrating, swelling, and headaches (22).

Please note, this blog is for educational and entertainment only.  Please seek out a medical professional if you need assistance.


1   Dr. Axe, food is medicine website. Webpage: MSM supplement improves joints, allergies, and gut health.   Accessed on: Nov 24th, 2017. Accessed at:

2  Brien, S., Prescott, P., & Lewtih, G., (2011). Meta-analysis of the related nutritional supplements dimethyl              sulfoxide and methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011:528403. DOI: 10.1093/ecam/nep045

3    Lee, H.r., Cho., S.D., Lee, W.K., Kim, G.H., & Shim, S.M., (2014). Digestive recovery of sulfur-methyl-L- methionine and its bioaccessibility in kimchi cabbages using a simulated in vitro digestion model system.  Journal of Scientific of Food and Agriculture, 94(4):109-112. DOI:10.1002/jsfa.6205.

4  Joksimovic, N., Spasovski, G., Joksimovic, V., Andreevski, V., Zuccari, C., Omini, & C.F., (2012).  Efficacy and         tolerability of hyaluronic acid, tea tree oil and methyl-sulfonyl-methane in a new gel medical device for   treatment of haemorrhoids in a double-blind, placebo-controlled coninical trial.  Updates in Surgery., 64(3):195-201.

5   Berardesca, E., Cameli, N.,Cavallotti, C., Luc Levy, J., E Pierard, G., & Ambrosi, G.D.P,  (2008).  Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: clinical and instrumental          evaluation. Journal of Cosmetic Cosmetology. 7(1):8-14.  DOI: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2008.00355.x

6 Moody, A.G., (2017).  Living Strong website.  Webpage: MSM supplements and hair growth.  Accessed on: Nov        25th, 2017.  Acessed at:

7 Usha, P.R., & Naidu, M.U., (2004).  Randomized, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, mehtylsulfonylmethane nd their combination in osteoarthritis. Clinical Drug Investigation 24 (6): 353-363.

8 Kalman, D.S., Feldman, S., Scheinberg, A.R., Krieger, D.R., & Bloomer, R.J., (2012).  Influence of             methylsulfonylmethane on markers of exercise recovery and performance in healthy men: a pilot study.   Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 9(1):46.  DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-46.

9 Nakhostin-Roohi, B., Niknam, Z., Vaezi N., Mohammadi, S., & Bohlooli., S., (2013).  Effect of single dose                administration of methylsulfonylmethane on oxidative stress following acute exhaustive exercise. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. 12(4):845-853.

10   Web MD website.  Webpage:  Find a vitamin or supplement (MSM-methylsulfonylmethane).  Accessed on:            Nov 26th, 2017.  Accessed at: msm%20methylsulfonylmethane.aspx?activeingredientid=522&activeingredientname=msm%20methylsulf onylmethane

11 web md website.  Accessed on: Nov 28th, 2017.  Accessed at:             supplements/ingredientmono-522-msm%20methylsulfonylmethane.aspx?activeingredientid =522&activeingredientname=msm%20methylsulfonylmenhane

12  Butawan, M., Benjamin, R.L., & Bloomer, R.J., (2017).  Methylsulfonylmethane: applications and safety of a novel                 dietary supplement. Nutrients, 9(3):290.  DOI: 10.3390/nu9030290.

13   Zhang, j., & An J., (2007).  Cytokines, inflammation and pain. International Anesthesiology Clinics 45(2):  27-47.  DOI: 10.1097/AIA.0b013e318034194e.

14 University of Mryland Medical Center. Webpage: Gout. Accessed on: Nov 28th, 2017. Accessed at:       

15  Arthritis foundation website. Webpage: Gout and supplements: what you need to know. Accessed on: Nov 28th, 2017. Accessed at:

16 Sousa-Lima, L., Park, S.Y., Chung, M., Jung, H.J., Kang, M.C., Gaspar, J.M., Seo, J.A., Macedo, M.P., Park, K.S., Mantzoros, C., Lee, S.H., & Kim, Y.B., (2016). Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), an organosulfur        compound, is effective against obesity-induced metabolic disorders in mice. Metabolism Clinical and Experimental 65 (10): 1508-1521. DOI: 10.1016/j.metabol.2016.07.007.

17 523 Tiwari, P., Dwivedi, S., Singh, M.P., Mishra, R., and Chandy, A., (2013). Basic and modern concepts on                           cholinergic receptor: a review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease 3(5): 413-420.

18    Herschler, R.J., (2007). Website” Patents.  Webpage: Dietary products and uses comprising      methylsulfonylmethane US 48637 48 A.  accessed on: Nov 28th, 2017.  Accessed at:     

19  American college of foot and ankle surgeons.  Calcaneal Apophysitis (Sever;s Disease).  Accessed at:       

20  Nootriment website.  Webpage: Acetylcholineesterase inhibitors and their effects on memory, cognition &                             Alzheimer’s disease.  Accessed on: Nov 29th, 2017.  Accessed at:      

21 Nootriment website  Webpage:  Acetylcholine deficiency – causes, symptoms and treatments.  Accessed on:           Nov 29th, 2017.  Accessed at: acetylcholine-deficiency/

22  Ogbru, Ol, PharmD.  Website:  Medicine  Webpage:  MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) dietary    supplement.  Accessed on: Nov 29th, 2017.  Accessed at:

23  Usha, P.R., & Naidu, M.U.R. (2004). Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral             Glucosamine, Methylsulfonylmethane and their combinaiton in osteoarthritis.  Clinical Drug Investigation,  24, (6), 353-363.

24  Fortitech Premixes, strategic nutrtion website.  Webpage:  Methylmsm Sulfonyl Methane (MSM).  Accessed  on: Nov 29th, 2017.  Accessed at:

25 Urology Care Foundation website.  Webpabe: what is interstitial cystitis/bladeder pain syndrome?  Accessed  on Nov 30th, 2017.  Accessed at:

26   Teitelbaum, J., M.D., (2006).  Townsend Letter, November 2006 issue.  Webpage:  Pain free 1-2-3.  Pelvic pain syndromes -vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, endometriosis, and prostadynia.  Accessed on: Nov 30th, 2017.  Accessed at:

Leptin, the obesity hormone

Leptin, the obesity hormone: Regarding weight loss and human trials, phosphatidylcholine is shown to help women loose weigh (25) with no side effects, while improving fat metabolism. It helps to lower the production of a hormone called leptin. For those of us who are aging this may be important as age usually brings about weight gain and increased adipose fat deposits (34).

Leptin effects several areas of the brain besides appetite. It can impact neuroprotection, memory, motivation, learning, and general cognitive functions, as well as growth, reproduction, metabolism, and energy expenditure (54).  If leptin production becomes disrupted, either by being overweight/obese or underweight/lacking proper nutrition, it effects how neurons function and cognition or thought processes (54).  So, bringing leptin back into balance by making the brain more sensitive to it may help improve cognitive, and other, functions.

Leptin dysregulation is associated with insulin resistance, type two diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), problems with blood clotting (atherothrombotic), and inflammation. It is connected with metabolic effects, oxidative stress, and shortens the life cycle of cells, called endoplasmic reticulum stress (55), increases apoptosis or cell death, and unhealthy changes in cells and body tissue (56) called remodeling (associated with type 2 diabetes).   Regarding the last, increased leptin levels may lead to inflammation in organs and tissues, and increase the likelihood of inflammatory diseases like: heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease (38).  It also contributes to injury of the liver, pancreas, blood vessels, and heart muscle (myocardium); and problems with the immune system, and blood platelets needed for clotting (38) and heart/vascular disease, diabetes, and insulin resistance (37).

Leptin is the hormone that fat cells produce to help bring on a feeling of fullness or satiety, to signal the brain that the body has the ability to produce the energy it needs (36). You would think that the more leptin produced the better, the less a person would eat.  But, the opposite is true. People who are overweight or obese tend to be leptin resistance or insensitive, which is associated with reward eating, or eating beyond caloric energy requirements.  Conversely, emotional eating may lead to leptin insensitivity as people stop recognising a feeling of fullness (35).

Leptin production goes up with body fat or adiposity. As people gain body fat, that fat produces more leptin and as more leptin is produced, the brain fails to respond to it, creating a vicious circle.  So, the reduction in leptin production indicates a renewed sensitivity to leptin, which means the individual will feel fuller sooner, and be less inclined to over eat (34).

High fructose sugar consumption is associated with leptin resistance in animal studies (34).   High fructose intake can lead to high levels of fats in the blood (triglycerides).  This is very bad, high triglycerides can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease (47).  These fats in the blood seem to block the leptin in the blood from getting into the brain to signal the brain that the body should stop eating (34).  Further, high fat diets are associated with weight gain in test subjects who had high leptin levels (leptin resistance or insensitivity) but were not terrible overweight until they switched to a high fat diet (34).

Leptin insensitivity is associated with metabolic syndrome (45) and increased risk of type two diabetes, and cognitive problems (54). Leptin can modulate insulin action, or change the way it acts in the body, and can participate in the development of insulin resistance.

A bit about why this is important: insulin makes it possible for cells to absorb the blood glucose, or sugar, the body makes from food. This happens mostly in the small intestine.  Insulin helps the liver and muscles to store excess glucose, and it lowers blood glucose levels by slowing the production of glucose in the liver (48).  If a person is healthy, both insulin levels and blood glucose sit in a healthy range.  But, if the person experiences the following insulin resistance may occur: overweight or sedentary, has problems with hormones, uses steroids, is older, experiences sleep disruptions or apnea, smokes, takes certain medications or is of an ethnicity prone to this problem (48).

Insulin resistance is the inability of the body (muscle, fat, liver cells) to properly respond to insulin, making it hard for blood sugar (glucose) to be absorbed by cells. The pancreas, via beta cells, tries to produce more insulin to keep up with the greater demand.  This keeps blood sugar in normal ranges.  But, if the pancreas can’t keep up, excess blood sugar occurs and leads to the development of prediabetes, and eventually type two diabetes (48).  Prediabetes means blood glucose and the rating of it, A1C levels, are higher than normal, but not so high that diabetes will be diagnosed.   But, it is a risk factor for type two diabetes and cardio vascular disease (48).  Keep in mind that untreated insulin resistance usually results in type two diabetes within ten years.  Lifestyle changes are the best treatment.  Losing body weight, five to seven percent, exercise and dietary changes as well as smoking cessation. Type two diabetes, if untreated, results in damage to nerves and blood vessels (heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation of lower limbs).

The leptin/insulin relationship is complicated as (46) insulin stimulates the secretion of leptin in both animal and human studies.  Insulin resistance may trigger leptin resistance by disrupting the brains ability to fully be affected by leptin signals.  Eating a diet high in simple carbohydrates, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, and not getting enough fiber and lean protein, may be part of the problem.  Sleep depravation may also play a part, as people eat more when tired or stressed (44).

Thyroid problems: are connected to elevated leptin levels. The leptin/thyroid axis has a multifaceted and twofold relationship. Leptin regulates the production of something called thyroid releasing hormone or TRH.  If there is a resistance to leptin, and your brain thinks you are not getting enough energy or calories, your brain (hypothalamus) slows production of thyroid release hormone (TRH) to force your body to slow its metabolism and store fat.  It does this as it thinks the body is starving. In reaction to this situation, the thyroid gland produces more TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) to tell the brain to produce more active thyroid hormone.  The TSH may also be signalling the fat tissue to produce more leptin, to tell the brain that there is enough energy for it to produce more thyroid hormone (41;42). TSH is a measure of how well the thyroid is functioning.  In short, it becomes a vicious circle.  Some data indicate that treatment hypothyroidism with thyroxin lowers leptin levels, and TSH levels, in individuals with hypothyroidism (43).

The thyroid and insulin. These two things influence one another.  Poorly regulated blood sugar, called dysglycemia, lessons or slows thyroid function, but poor thyroid functioning can cause dysglycemia and insulin resistance, and even metabolic syndrome (52).

Hyperthyroidism, when it works too fast, can cause poor blood sugar control and an increase in the body’s demand for insulin. Too much thyroid hormone leads to glucose being produced by the liver, a quicker absorption of glucose, or sugar, in the intestines, and insulin resistance, or the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently (51;53).

Hypothyroidism, when the thyroid is too slow, is associated with a slower rate of glucose uptake by cells, and a slower rate of glucose absorption in the gut.   Also, there is a slower clearance of insulin from the blood, and insulin is slower to react to elevated blood sugar (52).  Hypothyroidism can result in abnormal blood lipid or fat levels. As well as having too much fat in the blood (triglyceride level) overall, there is too much total cholesterol, and too high a rating of low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol.  These factors are associated in diabetics with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.  Hypothyroidism can slow the elimination of insulin from the bloodstream, so insulin doses may be reduced (51).

Thyroid problems and sugar. Eating sugar and simple carbohydrates (which turn to sugar in the body) drive blood sugar up too high, too fast.  The body releases insulin to try to drive it down, which can result in low blood sugar or reactive hypoglycemia (also an adrenal stressor).  This then causes anxiety, fatigue, nervousness and feelings of light-headedness (49).

When a diet is too rich in sugar or simple carbs, the pancreas produces insulin to move the extra sugar out of the blood into cells, to be used to make energy. Over time, these cells, perhaps overworked, lose the ability to deal with the insulin.  The pancreas then makes extra insulin to try to get the cells to respond.  This become insulin resistance.  Surges in insulin negatively effect the thyroid gland, destroying it, and lessoning thyroid hormone production (52).

Ironically, when a diet is too low in sugar, or the supply is inconsistent, blood sugar levels can also negatively affect the thyroid. Here, the adrenal glands produce cortisol to tell the liver to make more glucose or sugar, to bring blood sugar levels back to normal.  But if cortisol is released to often, the result is a suppression of the pituitary gland, the gland in the brain which tells your thyroid to function (52).

Fructose, from high fructose corn syrup, is a problem for the thyroid as mercury may be used in the manufacturing process. This mercury can then be found in trace amounts in the foods the fructose is used to make. The mercury may be stored for a short time in the thyroid gland.  This can damage it, mercury can break down the enzymes needed for the thyroid to properly function (496).

Regarding sugar substitutes, aspartame has phenylalanine in it. In a more natural form this is helpful to the thyroid.  It helps make thyroid hormones, but too much can disrupt tyrosine, an amino acid, from accessing the thyroid, disrupting thyroid functioning (496).

To keep blood sugar in a healthy range. Healthy blood sugar ranges are determined two ways, fasting glucose and post-prandial blood glucose.  Fasting glucose is the reading taken first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking and it should be between 75 and 95 mg/dL.  Post-prandial blood glucose is taken 1 to 2 hours after eating.  A normal reading is 120 mg/dL or lower (52).

Buy a blood glucose meter. In cases of hypoglycemia, keep blood sugar levels above 75 all day long.  Consume a diet consisting of low-to-medium amounts of carbohydrate. Eat small meals every 2-3 hours.  This will lesson fluctuations in blood sugar (52).  Alternately, if you are hyperglycemic you need to keep your blood sugar below 120 two hours after eating, so lower your intake of carbohydrates and sugar (52).

As both lecithin and choline assist in many areas of brain health, and there are several areas in the brain associated with regulating calorie intake, it may be that choline helps the brain become more leptin sensitive. This is possible in the face of the belief that even a slight injury to the leptin receptor pathway could cause obesity over time (34). Lecithin helps in cholesterol metabolism, by inhibiting its absorption and flushing it out of the system.  As lowering cholesterol is associated with lower leptin levels, this may be one of, or, the reason/s lecithin helps control and reset leptin levels.

To read about lecithin in greater detail, or access the sources for this post, go to the lecithin page.

Please not, this information is for educational purposes only.  Please contact a qualified healthcare provider if you have any health, or other, issues.


Lecithin, (in sunflower and soy based supplements) has many benefits regarding menopause related (and other) health issues. In fact, lecithin has many roles in the body, from regulating your heart rate to synthesize good cholesterol.

Regarding brain or cognitive health, lecithin improves memory and cognition, and battles or reverses cognitive decline. Psychologically, it helps treat or avoid depression, anxiety and stress, and lecithin helps fight disorders of the nervous system (6). These benefits are based in lecithin’s many brain healthy components, including choline and good fats or phospholipids like DHA.

Lecithin helps treat diseases of inflammation like cancer (including breast) and arthritis, as well as impacting heart disease. Lecithin can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower bad, or LDL, cholesterol, improve overall cellular health, and speed up wound healing.  Lecithin even helps with weight loss.

Regarding cellular health: lecithin is very necessary for cells to work properly. lecithin has a substance in it called phosphatidylcholine.  This substance helps keep cells healthy by properly maintaining cell function and structure.  It keeps cell membranes (which enclose the cell body and are made from lipids or fats) permeable and soft, so that nutrients can be absorbed easily.  Because it is a fat or lipid, lecithin can both stabilize and anchor membrane components, and turn into other lipids to help carry molecules across membranes to help cells function (4).  So, it follows that lecithin deficiency leads to hardening of the cell membranes, making it hard for nutrients to pass into the cell, which impacts health in general as the body is made of cells.

This positive effect on cellular health is probably why it has been found that menopausal women, taking 1200 mg of lecithin a day, have lower diastolic blood pressure, less arterial stiffness, which is associated with heart attack risk, and more energy (1).

to learn more, or see the sources for this document, go to the lecithin page.

this information is for entertainment and educational purposes only.  Please consult a qualified medical practitioner if you have medical, or other, problems.

Menopausal Allergies

Menopause related allergies, or the connection between gynecology and allergology.

Women are more likely to suffer from food allergies, pollen, sensitivity to Tabaco smoke, and asthma. Fluctuations in the hormones cortisol, estrogen and progestogen and Testosterone, which women have, though considered a male sex hormone, all play a role in how the female body reacts when it comes to allergies (1).

When there are fluctuations in sex hormones within the female body, adult onset allergies may result. Here women experiencing hormone related changes like pregnancy or menopause, and in the case of girls, the onset of puberty, estrogen may increase the inflammatory cells reaction too, and sensitively too, allergens.

Here, a previously harmless substance is suddenly viewed as threatening by the body’s immune system.  The body develops what are called (igE) antibodies to protect against the substance at the same time it is developing the same antibodies in reaction to hormonal (estrogen and progesterone) fluctuations (2;3).  These (IgE) antibodies cause the body to release histamine into the blood causing an allergic reaction.  These antibodies cause the body to release histamine into the blood, causing itching, sneezing and nasal drip.

Besides increasing the production of histamine, estrogen can lower (down-regulate) the production of the enzymes diamine oxidase (DAO) and monoamine oxidase (MAO). These two enzymes eliminate histamine, so estrogen both increases the production of histamine and slows down its dissipation in the body (4).  Making matters worse, histamine can encourage the production of luteinizing hormones (LH), which in turn makes more estrogen (4) starting, or supporting, a vicious cycle.

Progesterone also plays a role in histamine production, but by inhibiting the release of histamine from what are called mast cells, even during an allergy attach (4). If a woman’s production of progesterone slows, as it does in menopause, allergic reactions can become more problematic.

Even though testosterone is considered to be a male hormone, women do produce it. During the menopause transition testosterone production may decline (5).  Testosterone does have a protective effect regarding allergic reactions (6).   Testosterone may be an immunosuppressant, meaning it suppresses the immune response, stopping it from overacting to the point where an allergy, or asthma, develops (7).

In non-menopausal women, the reactions are typically as follows: joint pain, premenstrual asthma, interstitial cystitis, menstrual migraines, and fibromyalgia (2;4). A low doe of progesterone may be helpful in some situations (2).

For women going into menopause: be aware of never before experienced coughing and wheezing. Menopause may engender the onset of never before experienced asthma.  If this happens seek medical attention.  You may wish to look into temporary hormone replacement therapy (8).

Asthma: Take for instance asthma, which more women than men have, and which more women than men are hospitalized for, or die from.   The reason is the sex hormone estrogen.  Here the fluctuation of estrogen before a menstrual cycle or during the onset of menopause can cause inflammation, which can trigger an attack of asthma like symptoms.  In this case a treatment focused on stabilizing estrogen levels (estrogen replacement therapy) may be recommended.  Keep in mind that estrogen replacement has been associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease (8).

For women with irregular cycles and asthma: be aware of your symptoms, use a peak flow meter to measure your lungs ability to push out air. If you see a decrease in the meter’s numbers, it may indicate the onset of a menstrual cycle.  Avoid allergy triggers at this point (8).

Autoimmune problems: The immune system can also increase inflammation, leading to or exacerbating, autoimmune diseases.  Again, these can be linked to reactions within the body brought on by fluctuations in sex hormones (9).

The hormone cortisol is associated with allergies and autoimmunity. Cortisol is produce by the body in a natural cycle (high in early morning, and lowering throughout the day) and when the body is under stress, including good stress like exercise or excursion.  Acute, or short term, stress is protective, it helps humans to survive and thrive.  Long-term, or chronic, stress may have a negative effect on the body, including making allergies and asthma worse (10).  Prolonged production of cortisol leads to the body failing to synthesise or make testosterone, which is protective in reference to allergens (6).  Many women going through menopause experience heightened levels of cortisol, or unusual fluctuations in cortisol from day to night (11).  The higher levels of cortisol may result from estrogen that is either made within the body (endogenous) or as a reaction to estrogen made outside of the body (exogenous) that the body comes into contact with, like hormone therapy, birth control pills or foods high in estrogen like substances called estrogenic or Phyto-estrogens, as well as estrogen like chemicals called Xenoestrogens.  Be aware that a constant release of cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue, which in turn allows a greater histamine, or allergic, reaction (12).

Phyto-estrogen foods include the following: soy, legumes, chickpeas; flaxseed, bran, alcohol; clover and alfalfa.

Chemicals that react in the body like estrogen, called Xenoestgrogens, can also impact the endocrine system (13) which produces cortisol. These are found in cleaning products, plastics, and food preservatives (propyl gallate, 4-hexyl resorcinol) as well as in pesticides, animal feed/medications and beauty products (14;13).

For a list go to

During the transition into menopause the body may make more of what is called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which is meant to prompt the ovaries to produce eggs. FSH also signals the body to make oestradiol, a major type of estrogen (11).  The body reacts to the extra estrogen by producing more cortisol, hormone replacement therapy can also have this effect (11).  Hot flashes may also bring on a production of cortisol.

Conversely, a lack of cortisol, which ideally helps the immune system fight allergens, can negatively affect the immune system, leading to a greater reaction to allergens (6).   The preferred is a balance of cortisol, not too much and not too little, produced in a cyclical manner in sync with the body’s needs. Ideally cortisol levels should be highest in the morning and taper off through the day. Sighs that your cortisol levels are out sync are as follows:

Peaking too early: sleep disruptions, irritable and hostile in the morning, mind racing on awakening, and the experience of a sever energy lull mid-morning (15).

Not tapering off through out the day: If you are experiencing the following your cortisol may be up through out the day, but your adrenal glands are fatiguing: feelings of irritation and a lack of interest in things, overly fast speech, called pressurized speech, feeling hyper yet tired, or feeling like you are always behind and trying to gain ground (15).

Higher than average levels at night: combative attitude, worry-prone in evenings, not being able to fall asleep easily, trying to distract self with devices (15).

Too low levels throughout day: feeling of flatness, being tired no matter the amount of sleep gotten, falling asleep repeatedly, using stimulants to no avail (15).

Ways to alleviate dysregulated cortisol:

Use of the following supplements: vitamins B5 and C (1000 mg) and omega-3 fatty acids.

Try the herbs ginseng, ashwagandha, rhodiola, and eleuthero.

Drink plenty of fluids.

Behaviourally, get plenty of sleep, be aware of when you exercise as this can raise cortisol levels, and practice relaxation techniques like meditation (15).

To get cortisol release back in sink try eating a low carbohydrate meal in the morning, a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates mid-day, and a higher amount of complex carbohydrates during the evening meal.

Hormone allergy: Some women may suffer from what is called a hormone allergy.  This is an allergic reaction to the individual’s hormones, unrelated to any actual allergens (9).  This reaction, in spite of no allergens, may be linked to chronic inflammation and autoimmunity problems (9).

Hormone allergy can present as the following problems (9):

Premenstrual syndrome, loss of short term memory, premenstrual asthma, mood swings, menstrual migraine, weight problems, fatigue, skin problems, fibromyalgia, lowered sex drive, anxiety and panic attacks, interstitial cystitis, infertility, arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Tips for being aware of allergy and asthma related symptoms:

If you are going to get allergy tests do it on days 12-16 of the menstrual cycle, as these days are consistent with peak estrogen levels. This is important as immune response within the female body changes throughout the menstrual cycle (9).

In order to diagnose hormone allergy, it is necessary to have a medical professional take a full menstrual history including symptoms. Skin testing with bioidentical hormones can be done, just like for any other allergy test.  You can have a screening done for anti-hormone specific antibodies.  Regarding allergies and reproductive complaints, even if your tests come back “normal” or within normal limits ask to have hormone allergies investigated (9).

Keep in mind that estrogenic substances, or foods and supplements that have an estrogen like effect on the body, may also impact allergic reactions in women (3).

Regarding women with regular cycles: avoid known allergens before the onset of your menstrual cycle (8).

Bioidentical hormones administered sub-lingually, or under the tongue, have been shown to be successful in treating allergic reactions due to hormone imbalance in some cases (9).

Regarding hormone therapy and things like birth control pills, these change hormone levels which can then trigger allergic reactions like eczema, acne (or worsen it), breathing problems, and joint pain or migraine headaches (16).

Vitamin B6, the connection: Vitamin B6 is very important to many bodily functions, especially hormonal health (17). It is used by over 100 enzymes in the body. It is used for estrogen metabolism, the immune system, the endocrine system, which regulates hormones and the neurological (brain, nerves, spinal cord) systems, and in the process of methylation (18).

Methylation is described as the process by which the body takes three hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom (methyl group). The body utilizes this mix to produce a great number of necessary bodily functions including fighting the following: allergies, low immunity, and fibromyalgia (19).  The last is associated with diseases of inflammation (20). A disruption in methylation may be associated with allergies as it effects neurotransmitter balance (21) which, in turn, plays a role in allergic reactions. Here, dopamine, if produced by the brain in excess can have an antihistamine like effect.  This is as the enzyme Aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase, made from B6, is needed to metabolize both dopamine and histamine (7).

B6 for histamine: Vitamin B6 effects histamine production, and so allergies and asthma, and autoimmune problems in a round about way.   Vitamin B6 is necessary to the production of an amino acid called Aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase, or AADC (22).   This amino acid in turn is necessary for histamine production.  The enzyme catalyzes the conversion of histidine to histamine, as well as L-dopa to dopamine, and 5-hydroxytryptophan to serotonin (22). If histamine production uses up too much of the enzyme, not enough is left over to produce the neurotransmitters associated with emotional wellbeing (25) dopamine (7), serotonin, norepinephrine (23) and GABA.  This can lead to allergy and sinus related depression or anxiety.

The lack of B6 may explain why many people feel less alert when experiencing an attack of allergies or sinusitis.

B6 is necessary for the production of serotonin and norepinephrine (23) which are significant in protecting people from feeling depressed, as well as being necessary for cognitive functions like learning and memory (24).

B6 is used in the central nervous system, CNS, to help produce GABA, an amino acid associated with happiness. A mild deficiency of B6 can lead to the down regulation, or slowing in production of both serotonin and GABA (25).

B6 also helps produced the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which helps in the production of memory, dreams and thought processes.

B6 is imperative for the production of fatty acid DHA, or Docosahexaenoic acid, needed by the body for brain health, especially the health of the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is very important for cognitive processes like attention, perception, memory, awareness, thought process, language and consciousness. Not surprisingly, DHA deficiency is associated with cognitive decline (26).

B6 for estrogen balance: B6 is needed by the liver to remove surplus estrogen from the body. Estrogen dominance contributes to autoimmune problems (27).  Further complicating matters, the body may mistake low progesterone for estrogen dominance, as the two sex hormones are needed to work together by the body.

B6 for progesterone: Progesterone is the product of the ovarian gland corpus luteum, it is produced after the egg is released during a menstrual cycle. Vitamin B6 is essential for the corpus luteum to work properly. Vitamin B6 deficiency may result in a progesterone deficiency (17).  B6 can help raise low progesterone levels (27).  This may be significant in the development of allergies during the menopause transition as progesterone helps to emolliate an allergic reaction, lessoning the likelihood of an actual allergy developing.

B6 deficiency is associated with allergies, asthma, and diseases of inflammation like osteoporosis and arthritis as well as emotional problems (23).

Sources of B6.

Fish (salmon, wild tuna) beef, chicken, garlic, sweet potato, spinach, bananas (438). Green leafy vegetables and fruits with high pigmentation (21). Other sources include brewer’s yeast, eggs, organ meat, carrots, peas, wheat germ, and walnuts (23).

Exercise may help the body produce the active form of vitamin B6 (23).

Side effects of taking too much B6 include numb or cold extremities (feet and hands) and poor circulation, hostile or irritable mood, and an irregular or rapid heart rate (21). Very high doses of B6 may result in toxic effects on the nervous system and on skin (28).

Causes of B6 deficiency include vegetarianism; the modern, nutrient deficient, diet, and eating processed or over cooking foods and consuming alcohol; Having diabetes, estrogen dominance, or taking contraceptive medication (birth control); and over working the adrenal glands by being under too much emotional and physical stress (including over exercise) for too long or by consuming too much caffeine (17;27). Medications associated with B6 deficiency are contraceptives, hormone replacement therapies and antidepressants (23).



1  Munoz-Cruz, S., Mendoza-Rodriguez, Y., Nava-Castro, K.E., Yepez-Mulia, L., & Morales-Montor, J., (2015).  Gender-related effects of sex steroids on histamine release and FceRI expression in rat    peritoneal mast  cells. Journal of Immunology Research, Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 351829,10 pages.  DOI:  10.1155/2015/351829

2 University of Texas at Austin. “Evidence of estrogen and progesterone hormone allergy discovered.”   ScienceDaily.  ScienceDaily, 30 March 2006.

3 Bonds, R.S., & Midoro-Horiuti, T., (2013).  Estrogen effects in allergy and asthma.   Current Opinion on Allergy Clinical Immunology, 13 (1):92-99.  DOI: 10.1097/ACI.ob013e32835a6dd6

4 mthfrsupport Austrailia. HER-stamine? The link between histamine and estrogen. Accessed on Sept, 14th, 2017.  Accessed at: between-histamine-and-estrogen/

5 Healthline website. Webpage:  Can women have low levels of testosterone?  Accessed on: Sept      17th, 2017.  Accessed at:

6  Stachowicz, M., & Lebiedzinska, A., (2016).  The effect of diet components on the level of cortisol. European Food Research and Technology,242 (12):2001-2009.

7    Oler, Dr. ND., (Sept 9th, 2014). Website: natural solutions for a healthy you.   Webpage:  Do allergies cause  neurotransmitter imbalance? Accessed on: Sept 19th, 2017.   Accessed

8 Hatfield, H., July, 07, 2009.   WebMD asthma in women.  Accessed on: Sept, 9th, 2017.  Accessed at:  www/

9 Shah, S. (2012).  Hormonal link to autoimmune allergies. International Scholarly Research Network ISRN Allergy.  Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 910437.  Accessed on: Sept 12, 2017.  Accessed at:           DOI:10.5402/2012/910437.

10 Dhabhar, F.S., (2008). Enhancing versus suppressive effects of stress on immune function:   implications for  immunoprotection versus immunopathology.  Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology: Official Journal of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 4(1):2- 11.

11    Woods, N.F., Mitchell, E.S., & Smith-DiJulio, K., (2009).  Cortisol levels during the menopausal transition and early postmenopause:  Observations from the Seattle midlife women’s health study.   Menopause, 16 (4): 708-718.

12   Adrenal fatigue and allergies, Canary Club website.  Accessed allergies.html.  n: Sept 13th, 2017.  Accessed at: www.

13 Knoblauch, J.A., (March 27th, 2009).  Some food additives mimic human hormones. Health section,   Scientific America.  Accessed on: Sept 14th, 2017.  Accessed at:      httpsl//  additives-mimic-hormones/

14  List of Xenoestrogens-Chemical Estrogens.  Accessed on Sept, 14th, 2017.  Accessed at:

15  Millard, E., (2016).  The cortisol curve.  Experience Life.  Accessed on: Sept 13th, 2017.  Accessed at:

16 Fernandes, J.  (March 10, 2017).  Women with high sex hormone levels more prone to asthma and allergies, researcher says.  In Lung disease news.  Accessed on Sept 12th, 2017.  Accessed at:

17    Alisa, (July 19th, 2016).  Website:  Flo-living.  Webpage:  How to use B6 when you have progesterone deficiency. Accessed on Sept 19th, 2017.  Accessed at:   

18    How can vitamin B6 improve fertility?  (April 29th, 2015).  Website bites of health nutrition Accessed at:

19 Cohen, S.S., Website: Suzy S Cohen, America’s most trusted pharmacist.  Webpage: Methylation  problems lead to 100s of diseases.  Accessed on: Sept 19th, 2017.  Accessed at:[gallery1611]/0

20 Healthline website.  Webpage: Everything you need to know about fibromyalgia.  Accessed on: Oct 3rd, 2017. Accessed at:

21  Moyer, J.D., (Sept, 3rd, 2011).  Website: J.D. Moyer.  Website: In health/body-hacking, mental   health.   B-Vitamins, mood, and methylation-it’s complicated.  Accessed on; Sept, 19th, 2017.  Accessed at:

22  Gucuyener, K., Kasapkara, C.S., Tumer, L., & Verbeek, M.M., (2014).  Aromatic L-Amino acid   decarboxylase      deficiency: A new case from Turkey with a novel mutation.  Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. Apri-Jun: 17 (2): 234-236.

23 website.  Accessed on: sept 26th, 2017.  Accessed at:               

24 Moret, C., & Briley, M., (2011).  The importance of norepinephrine in depression.  Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 7 (Suppl 1), 9-13.  DOI: 10.2147/NDT.S19619.

25 Tomen, D., (2017). Nootropics Expert website.  Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Accessed on Sept 29, 2017.  Accessed   at:

26  Lukiw, W.J., Cui, J.G., Marcheselli, V.L., Bodker, M., Botkjaer, A., Gotlinger, K., Serhan, C.N., Bazan, N.G., (Oct. 2005).  A role for docosahexaenoic acid-derived neuroprotection D1 in neural cell survival and Alzheimer  disease. Journal of Clinical Investigation 115 (10): 2774-2783.  DOI:  10.1172/JCI25420

27   Bites of Health nutrition website.  Webpage: How can vitamin B6 improve fertility?  Accessed on: Sept 26th,   2017.  Accessed at:

28  Doheny, K., (June 15th, 2010).  Website: WebMD.  Webpage: Vitamin B6 linked to lower lung cancer risk.  Study finds association in smokers, non-smoker’s.  Accessed on: Sept 19th, 2017.  Accessed at: risk#1


What is collagen?

Collagen is a protein that is necessary for almost every bodily function.  it helps build and maintain bones,  teeth, gums, and tissue, amongst other things.  Collagen consists of 19 amino acids and 28 proteins.  It comprises 30% of the body’s protein (Borumand & Sibilla, 2015) and makes up 90% of bone matrix proteins, otherwise known as  the scaffolding for bone formation  (Dept. Washington Education).

Regarding aging, collagen supplementation is important as, after age 25, people  produce 1%  less each year (Wright, 2014).  Further, collagen (and gelatin, made from collagen) contains high concentrations of glycine and proline, amino acids that are often deficient in the western diet (PDB-101).  Collagen supplements both  increase collagen in the body and slow down a process known as enzyme collagenase, or the break down of collagen between cells (Human Clinicals).

There are several types of collagen in the body (type I being the most prevalent) and at least four available to purchase as supplements.  Collagen is important to aging as the body’s ability to make it declines with age and it is necessary for health.  Women especially have a hard time producing it after menopause. Post-menopausal women may experience up to a 75% drop in the production of type I collagen (which has types III & V in it).  This effects women in a variety of ways.  Women can experience hormonal changes associate with peri-menopause.  The sex hormone estrogen increases the amount of collagen in skin, influences skin thickness, and its moister content (Verdier-Sevrain, Bonte & Gilchrest, 2006).  During the menopause transition collagen under skin (fatty tissue and protein) is lost (National Institute on Aging).

Life style factors that impact collagen production negatively are: diets high in sugar, too much sun, excessive alcohol use, smoking, and nutritional deficiencies, (collagen depleted diets) and digestive problems (Axe, 2015).

Different types of collagen have different amounts of amino acids in them.  Having said that, both bovine and fish collagen usually have the following amino acid content:  alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid (glutamine), glycine, histidine, hydroxylysine, hydroxyproline, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tyrosine, & valine (Szpak, 2011).

Amino acids present in of special note:

Arginine (L-arginine): helps with heart and artery problems/health and is important for circulation.  Arginine also improves the male sex drive and can strengthen the immune system (Axe, 2015).  It can help burn fat (Marimee et al, 1965), heal wounds and helps in weight-reduction.  Arginine also helps to lower cholesterol.  Regarding  how it helps lower blood pressure and improve circulation:  arginine releases nitric oxide into the blood, this then relaxes the blood vessel walls and improves circulation.  This  can then improves the elasticity of the arteries, lowering blood pressure.   This is why arginine, over time, helps improve erections, potency, stamina and sexual performance (Williams et al, 2002).

Arginine helps with hair growth (Wu, Meininger, Knabe, Baze, & Rhoads, 2000).

Arginine helps reduce insulin resistance and improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes, lowering the amount of insulin needed (Piatti et al, 2001).

Arginine, along with ornithine, and glutamine, can help sleep by detoxifying ammonia, which if the liver is not working properly, will build up and reach the brain, causing insomnia (Lavie, Hafetz, Luboshitzky, & Lavie, 2003).

Arginine supports bone health by assisting in the production of collagen and by helping osteoblasts (forms bone mass) develop. Arginine deficiency in women is linked to osteoporosis (Ammanne et all 2002).

Glycine is a semi-essential amino acid is present in collagen (29%) and protein.  Glycine is often not properly provided for in the modern diet, leading to a need for supplementation (Melendez-Hevia, De Paz-Lugo, Cornish-Bowden, & Cardenas, 2009).   Glycine builds DNA, forms creatine (needed for muscle growth/maintenance; energy production).   It is necessary for a healthy metabolism. Glycine inhibits neurons in the brain that produce  norepinephrine  (Hospital News), which is associated with anxiety (Pervose et al, 2001).  Obsessive compulsive disorder: The appropriate dose of glycine has been shown to be an effective treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as well as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) in some people.   This is as it is believed that these disorders are caused by a receptor in the brain failing to work properly (Cleveland, DelaPaz, Fawwaz, & Challop, 2009).  It is called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA).  It is considered to be very important for memory function and learning as well as and brain plasticity or growth (Li, F., & Tsien, J.Z., 2009). Glycine makes the NMDA receptor work.

Glutamine: prevents anxiety, insomnia/sleep problems, tension, improves concentration, increases energy levels and helps digestion and strengthens immunity.  It helps with wound healing and joint health.  Glutamine even helps produce human growth hormone, this helps with maintaining mental well being as it helps release GABA to boost feelings of calm and tranquility (Welbourne, 1995). Some psychiatric drugs (benzodiazepines and barbiturates) are used to increase the brains production of GABA to boost feelings of calm and wellbeing (Purves et al., 2001).

Hydroxyproline: is 30% higher in bovine collagen then in fish collagen (Gauza-Wlodarczyk, Kubisz, & Wlodarczyk, 2017).  This amino acid, along with proline, help hair to grow.

Phenylalanine helps nerve cells communicate and is necessary for the central nervous system to function properly.  It also supports memory functioning.  Phenylalanine helps with pain management in chronic and acute pain associated with cramps, arthritis and migraine headache.

Phenylalanine is converted into phenylethylamine (PEA) in the body (Nootriment). This is considered a natural “love drug” and is associated with infatuation, sexual desire and the sex drive. PEA also boosts dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure, sexuality, and the brains reward system overall.  This is why dopamine helps with feelings of wellbeing, with treating depression and lessoning anxiety.  Phenylalanine (PEA) also helps the brain release norepinephrine, which can help with attention span, motivation, productivity and cognitive (thought based) performance (Nootriment). It also can increase heart rate and is associated with the so-called fight or flight response (Nootriment).

Phenylalanine is also converted into L-Tyrosine. This amino acid, when available in food sources, does not   cross the blood brain barrier, so it is necessary to consume foods that have the building blocks of this amino acid.  L-Tyrosine keeps cell membranes healthy and helps make biochemical messengers that allow the cells to communicate.  L-Tyrosine increases dopamine production and helps with norepinephrine reuptake.  By helping to balance dopamine and norepinephrine.  L-Tyrosine supports communication between different areas of the brain; it also keeps neural hormones balanced, optimizes energy and supports metabolism (Nootriment).

Proline is an amino acid present in collagen (15%).  Protects blood vessels and heart health, helps joints health.

Sources of collagen: Head cheese, pig feet, chicken feet, hard boiled eggs, Oxtail, Veal and Lamb, 6 to 7 cups of homemade broth made with gelatinous meats/bones, pork rinds, gelatin based deserts made from real gelatin.

Bone broth, made from beef or chicken bones.

Eating avocados helps boost collagen systemically. Eat genistein rich soy and cheese, these foods help boost production of collagen.

Collagen protein powered can be bought in health food stores or online. Buy hydrolyzed powder, it dissolves into liquids easily.

Types of supplements

hydrolyzed collagen provides 90% vs. food, which provides at best 27%.

Beef or bovine collagen provides types 1 and 3.  It helps skin (including gums and blood vessels), nails, hair, tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones (including teeth) and eyes (Axe 2015). Bovine collagen treats osteoarthritis.  It also helps gut health, muscles (building and maintaining/repairing), sleep, skin quality. Source of glycine and proline needed for creatine (Helps in energy production) production, production of muscle tissue and to make body produce its own collagen (Axe, 2015).

Poultry or chicken collagen provides type 2.  Good for cartilage production and general Joint health, it provides glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates, which help maintain bones.  Good source of proline, arginine, glutamine and glycine (Axe, 2015).

Egg based collagen provides types 1, 3, 4 and 10. Egg collagen has glucosamine and chondroitin in it as well as hyaluronic acid and other amino acids (Wong, et al., 1984). It helps with joint an tissue problem, improves skin quality and lessens the appearance of wrinkles, helps improve the range of motion, lessons stiffness and pain and helps with digestion (Axe, 2015).

Fish based collagen (most easily absorbable) provides type 1. Helps vital organs, blood vessels, joint and bone health, digestion and skin.   Source of amino acids proline, hydroxyproline and glycine.  Hydroxyproline is especially important as it helps collagen stay stable and helps in maintaining joint health (Pubhem).

Porcine or pig collagen is similar to bovine collagen. It is cheaper to purchase, but doesn’t absorb as well as other forms, so it doesn’t raise the body’s overall collagen levels as well as bovine or fish (

Type 1: found most often in the body and has types III and V, IVII in it.  Helps form bones, skin, tendons etc…keeps skin strong, elastic and healthy (helps wounds heal). The glycine in it can help with memory, cognitive processes and anxiety.

Type 2: helps build cartilage and connective tissues.  Helps prevent or treat joint problems and arthritis.

Type 3: makes up organ tissue and skin.   Works with type 1 collagen to form tissue and blood vessels.  Deficiency can lead to heart problems (Liu, Wu, Byrne, Krane, & Jaenisch,1997).

Type 4: helps form muscles, organs and fat. It is needed for nerves and blood vessels to work properly (Axe, 2015).   It is necessary for healthy digestive and respiratory systems.

Type 5: helps produce hair and the surface of cells. It is also needed during pregnancy to develop healthy placentas (Axe 2015).

Type 10: helps with bone and cartilage production, maintenance and healing (Shen, 2005).

Type 17a1: helps keep hair follicles healthy.  Found in type 1 collagen (Mandal, 2013).

Taking vitamin C with collagen is recommended as it helps hydroxyproline work at keeping collagen stabile.

Cautions about collagen supplementation: make sure that the source you buy is low in calcium, as too much calcium can lead to health problems. The US Food and Drug Administration labels collagen as a safe supplement. But, those with food allergies or sensitivities should be careful about the source of collagen.  Allergic reactions involving facial/neck swelling, hives, nausea, increased heart rate, stomach upset are rare, but can occur (King, 2017). Also, if you are female and menopausal be aware of the amount of calcium in your chosen supplement, too much calcium may cause health problems.

This information is for education only.  Please consult a qualified health care provider.

See reference page for full list of references regarding collagen pages.






Iron Deficient Anemia

Iron Deficient Anemia is a condition up to one third of woman may suffer from.  Women who are moving into menopause are more likely to become anemic (3).  Anemia effects cognitive or thought process.  It impacts attention, learning and intellectual ability.  This is probably partly due to iron’s effects on memory (long term, short-term and working memory) as well as emotional well-being (3).  Iron may play a similar role in mood regulation.  There is some data to indicate that low iron levels may underlie the symptoms of depression (3).  Iron is needed for the “feel good neurochemical” dopamine’s receptors to work properly (4).  Dopamine may also be important to the learning process.

Anemia is often caused by one or more of the following: heavy periods or menorrhagia (1), medical conditions like hypothyroidism, or the use of medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or antacids (2).

Hypothyroidism can cause anemia in both those with subclinical hypothyroidism and overt hypothyroidism (6). Anemia can also by a symptom of more serious health problems.  Disrupted nutrient absorption due to gastrointestinal problems (irritable bowel syndrome, IBS, coeliac disease or parasitic problems) may account for six percent of women with anaemia (5). Infectious diseases, (hook worm), Renal disease, and auto immune problems may be responsible for anemia (5). Low iron levels are also linked to vaginal infections (7).

Anemia is often diagnosed when a test shows a haemoglobin of 12.0g/dL or below, though other tests may be necessary as hemoglobin can be higher than this, but the person being tested may still be anemic (5). The most common cause of anemia in peri-menopausal women is iron deficiency.  Diets low in iron rich foods (protein, fortified cereal grains and green, leafy, vegetables) may be the culprit (5).  Deficiencies in folate and vitamin B12 can also impact iron deficient anemia.

Diagnosis of anemia usually starts with blood tests focusing on deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12 and folate levels. Other medical tests (liver, thyroid etc.) may also be necessary.

Treatment for anemia

Medical treatments: iron supplements, with B12 and folate may be recommended. Iron supplements should be taken with vitamin C as this helps with absorption.  Avoid taking these with calcium supplements or calcium rich foods as calcium may disrupt iron absorption.  If oral iron does not work, then intravenous iron may by prescribed.  Side effects of oral iron can include diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain, heartburn, blackened stools and feeling ill (2). Take iron with food if possible.

Once your iron levels return to normal your doctor may recommend you stop taking the supplements after another three months have passed.

Non-medical treatments: revolve around dietary changes. Try to get more protean rich foods. Good sources are: fish, eggs, meat, (red and white); vegetarian sources include brown rice, nus and seeds, pulses (beans and legumes) dried fruit, and iron-fortified bread and cereals and dark green, leafy, vegetables (2).

Try to combine vitamin C rich foods or supplements with iron, as it increases absorption.

Avoid taking iron with the following as it reduces absorption: tea or coffee, antacids or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), wholegrain cereals that have phytic acid as this stops the absorption of iron from other sources, calcium rich foods or supplements (2).

Taking too much iron can be problematic or even fatal. High quantities of iron can cause liver failure, intestinal and stomach problems and even dangerously low blood pressure and death.  Higher than normal iron levels may also be implicit in heart disease in women with type II diabetes (8).




1    Cemcor centre for menstrual cycle and ovulation research at UBC website.  Webpage: very heavy menstrual flow.    Retrieved from:

2  British National Health Services website. Web page: Iron deficiency anaemia-treatment.  Retrieved from:

3    Lomagno, K.A., Hu, F., Riddell, L.J., Booth, A.O., Szymlek-Gay, E.A., Nowsen, C.A., & Byrne, L.K. (2014).Increasing iron and zinc in pre-menopausal women and its effects on mood and cognition: A systematic review. Nutrients 6 (11), 5117-5141.doi: 10.3390/nu6115117

4 Youdim, M.B., Ben-Shachar, D., Ashkenazi, R., & Yehuda, S., (1983).  Brain Iron and dopamine receptor function.  Advances in Biochemical Psychopharmacology, (37), 309-321.

5   Kaushik, G. Midlife and Beyond, GM2 (2009). Anaemia in the post-menopausal woman.   GM2 Midlife and  Beyond, June, 37-40.  From gm journal website, webpage:  Anemia in the post-menopausal woman.      Retrieved from:                       ealth/gm_archive/gm2_2009/june_2009/gm2june2009p.37.pdf

6 website.  Webpage:  study looks at link between anemia and hypothyroidism.  Retrieved from:

7    Hemalatha, R., Ramalaxmi, B.A., Swetha, G.K., Rao, D.M., Charyulu, S., & Kumar, D. (2012).     Nutritional status, bacterial vaginosis and cervical colonization in women living in an urban slum in  India.     International Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 4 (5) 77-82. Doi: 10.5897/ijnam12.005.

8  Web MD website. Webpage: find a vitamin or supplement: iron.  Accessed on 5/11/2017.  Accessed at:

Hot flashes, Sweating & Disturbed Sleep

Also, known as vasomotor symptoms are due to changes in female sex hormones.  When this happens, a woman may experience difficulty sleeping, insomnia or waking in the night, as well as sweating and hot flashes.

Insomnia may increase during perimenopause, due to hormonal fluctuations altering circadian rhythms (10) and sleep patterns.   While insomnia increases in both sexes with age, women are more likely to experience it, starting at the onset of pre-menopause.  Women may in fact experience sleep disruptions five to seven years before the actual onset of pre-menopause (87). Hot flashes (night sweats) are often at the root of insomnia, but other problems like poor health and sleep apnea (especially experienced when overweight) may be the underlying cause.  Anxiety and depression can also play a role in insomnia (80).

Regarding hormonal changes, both oestrogen and progesterone play a part in sleep.   Oestrogen helps regulate magnesium levels. Magnesium is important to sleep as it is associated with muscle relaxation (81).   As women lose the ability to produce oestrogen magnesium production may be compromised.  This in turn impacts the ability to relax and fall asleep.   Low oestrogen may be responsible for night sweats and has been associated with sleep apnoea (breathing problems) during sleep (81).  Progesterone is associated with deep sleep, without it women find it hard to get a restful sleep (81).

Sleep hygiene in imperative to mental and physical wellbeing.  Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.  A lack of sleep is associated with a lack of concentration, anxiety, (81) depression, and irritability (all associated with menopause).  It is also correlated with being overweight/obese and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and substance abuse (88).

How to improve sleep hygiene:  Establishing a sleep routine; change your diet to avoid fatty or sugary foods and caffeine, all of which are associated with being stimulating and underlying night sweats (81); calcium and magnesium may be helpful (81).  Magnesium, often lacking in processed foods.  Magnesium has been shown to increase the ability to get to sleep and stay asleep, and to awaken. Magnesium has been shown to increase melatonin production and decrease stress hormone cortisol production (83) and to reduce the symptoms of treatment resistant depression (82).   Calcium aids in making melatonin from tryptophan (an amino acid).  Melatonin helps regulate sleep/wake cycles and the body’s internal clock (89).  Potassium has been shown to improve the quality of sleep and lesson the likeliness of sleep disruption (90).

Hot flashes and night sweats may be due to rapid changes or fluctuations in ovarian hormones.  Hot flashes usually occur early in perimenopause, and come and go depending on the severity of hormonal fluctuations (10).  Some women continue experiencing hot flashes for years after menopause.

Disruptions in the body’s ability to regulate temperature may in part be due to a disruption in the production of certain neurotransmitters (serotonin and noradrenaline).  These neurochemicals help to stabilize what is called the thermoneutral zone.  Sex hormones play a role in the production of neurotransmitters, so when estrogen etc. starts to fluctuate so does the production of serotonin and noradrenaline.  This in turn can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate heat and cold.  So, if you can increase the production of these neurotransmitters, by natural or artificial means, it may help. There are activities and foods or supplements you can take to increase them naturally.  Some anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medication can also help with this.  These are SSRIs (selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (Serotonin nor-epinephrine re-uptake inhibitors).  Keep in mind that this will help, but might not completely reverse the problem (294).

Natural ways to increase the production of serotonin include, but are not limited too, the following:

Light therapy (especially blue spectrum light) increases serotonin.  When possible walk out doors in bright sunlight for 15 minutes a day (134;135).  Otherwise, you can buy an inexpensive light box.  Keep in mind that blue light can harm your eyes, so don’t look directly at it.  Also, avoid blue light at night as it may affect the ability to go to sleep (including TV and tablet screens).   If you purchase a blue light box place it on a high enough surface to allow the light to hit the lower part of the eye, as this is where blue spectrum light naturally is absorbed (178).

Nutritional interventions to increase serotonin include the following: turmeric, dark chocolate, green tea, cold-water fatty fish, and fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, unpasteurized sauerkraut).  The last helps balance gut bacteria as too much of a bacterium called lipopolysaccharides can lower serotonin levels (264;267;268).   Eat tryptophan rich sweet or starchy (ideally complex) carbohydrates without protein (264; 273;274) as protein has nutrients that disrupt the uptake of tryptophan.  Eat   carbohydrates on an empty stomach (about three hours after a protein).  The food source (like gram crackers, pretzels etc.,) should have at least 25 to 35 grams of carbohydrates and no more than 4 grams of protein.  If you want a quick boost to your mood try a simple carbohydrate, but keep in mind that this will raise your blood sugar as well.  You should feel an effect 20 to 40 minutes after eating (274).  See appendix for books on the subject.

Reduce or eliminate caffeine as it may desensitize brain cells to serotonin (266), and avoid artificial sweeteners (aspartame) as it inhibits the uptake and conversion of tryptophan (264;265).

Exercise increases the production of neurotransmitters Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Serotonin (22).

Hot flashes may also be the result of blood vessels losing elasticity.  This is called endothelial dysfunction. Here blood vessels stop functioning properly, by not constricting (narrowing) or dilating (widening) properly to accommodate proper blood circulation (187).  Endothelial dysfunction may be the result of an inability to properly produce the neurotransmitter nitrogen monoxide.

Treatment for vasomotor problems like hot flashes or night sweats include the following.    Taking the amino acid arginine may help as it is made into nitrogen monoxide by the body (188).  If you choose to take arginine take amino acid lysine with it.  Lysine will help keep arginine circulating in the blood to be transformed into nitrogen monoxide (189; 190).

Soy has been shown to improve hot flashes (19; 24; 54), for instance adding approximately 100 mg of soy isoflavone per day, in the form of a supplement, may decrease vasomotor symptoms (19). Those with thyroid problems should avoid soy as it is a phytoestrogen and may lead to estrogen dominance, which negatively effects thyroid functioning.  Vitamin E (800-1200 IU), and Black Cohosh (dose of 40 mg/1 to 2 times a day) may also help (51;54).  Saint John’s Wort, (Hypericum peroratum L or HPL) may relieve hot flashes (26).  Keep in mind that Black Cohosh can cause rash, liver damage, and stomach upset (54).

Exercise should not be overlooked. Women hen exercising women report feeling more in control of their lives and bodies when they exercise.    Women also report more positive feelings towards their overall situation, and say they are less distressed by these symptoms, regardless of their actual intensity (41).

Magnesium supplements have been shown to lessen the number of, and intensity of hot flashes, increase  the ability to sleep and lessen night sweats (194) and reduce the severity of hormone related migraines (201).  It can also help treat arrhythmia or disturbances to heart beat (201). Magnesium is also needed for Vitamin D to be properly absorbed (201).

Recommended oral intake of magnesium for adults (not breast feeding or pregnant) is 310 to 350 mg (194), and specifically 320 mg per day if female and over age 31 (198).  Magnesium supplements come in different forms.  These are the ones that absorb most easily: Magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium gluconate (198).   Epson salts have magnesium in them and some of it is absorbed via the skin.  This may explain why Epson salts relieve muscle pains, inflammation and swelling (198).

Keep in mind that magnesium supplements can interact with medications, so only take them under a health care provider’s supervision.  If you have kidney disease you may not be able to take magnesium supplements.  Too much magnesium can result in the following: lowered pulse rate and low blood pressure, problems breathing, nausea and vomiting and fatigue.  Fee Infrequently it has caused coma and death (197). Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may lessen the loss of magnesium (196; 198; 201).

Foods high in magnesium are: seaweed, green leafy vegetables (spinach & beat greens), bananas, chocolate & coco powder, legumes (including peanuts), seeds (poppy, fennel, cumin, celery, pumpkin & squash), nuts (Brazil, almonds, cashews, pine, black walnuts), and whole grains (whole wheat flour, wheat bran, oat flour, oatmeal, and bran cereals), and fish, diary, tofu and soybean flour (197;198).

Herbs and spices high in magnesium: marjoram, tarragon, savory, basil, sage, dill weed, coriander, and blackstrap molasses.

Magnesium is also in some medications (199) like laxatives, heart burn medicine (Rolaids Extra-strength) and diarrhea medications (Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia).

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is also a good treatment for vasomotor symptoms, but it is also potentially problematic as it may increase the likelihood of developing   other health problems (294).


Menopause related depression

Up to 29% of Menopousal women will experience depression during the menopausal change.   The erratic hormone fluctuations during this transition can cause depressive symptoms (1;2;3). In the female brain estrogen is a neuromodulator, meaning it can change or disrupt the production of neurotransmitters, including those involving mood.  In most women, until the onset of pre-menopause, the brain is able to deal with changes brought on by fluctuating hormones during the menstrual cycle.  At the onset of pre-menopause some women (with a history of depression, premenstrual depression, or postpartum depression/baby blues, or those with a genetic vulnerability to depression) may be vulnerable to hormone related depression (1).   The symptoms of which are: tiredness, sadness, irritability, disinterest in things, sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, and even anger.  These symptoms are due in part to wild shifts in sex hormones, which then effect neurotransmitter production (1;2;3).

For the 18% to 29% of women experienceing hormonally related menopausal depression (1), the “inability to rapidly establish a new baseline of neuronal function could lead to increased susceptibility to mood disorders and diminished brain-related functions” (1, p.5). In other words, their ability to think clearly may be altered and their mood may become depressed or erratic.

This phenomenon is rooted in part in the adrenal glands role in producing hormones, including sex hormones. In the female body it produces sex hormones (4) (up to 50% after menopause) and stress related hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline.  If the adrenals are producing stress hormones, they are less likely to be able to make sex hormones at the same time (5).  Ironically, in this situation stress and depression act like a feedback loop, making it harder for women to regulate ovarian hormones, which can lead to early onset menopause (1).  To make matters worse, if a woman’s body is under prolonged stress, her body will convert progesterone (a sex hormone) into cortisol (a stress hormone).  Cortisol then disrupts the brains production f something called BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which is associated with keeping the brain healthy (helping make new neurons and connections between existing neurons).  Low levels of BDNF have been connected to depression (53).  If a person stops making enough BDNF to keep their brain healthy for a long enough time, parts of the brain will start to atrophy or shrink (6).

How to deal with these problem:

Sleep hygiene is important.  Having a routine helps maintain dopamine levels (56).

Manage stress, high stress levels are connected to low dopamine levels (56).

Exercise is important to psychological well-being as  increases the production of neurotransmitters (Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Serotonin) that are necessary for healthy brain functioning and emotional well-being (32).  It also increases blood circulation in the brain, which positively impacts hormones and increases dopamine levels (56).  Exercise forces the brain to make BDNF (7). It is also linked to improved mood and feeling fewer physical symptoms of menopause (34;35). In fact, menopausal women who exercise have been shown to assess their symptoms as being less important and so cope better with them (36).  Do yoga, it helps make the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutric acid) which lessens anxiety and helps keep you calm.  Yoga practice helps individuals learn to control negative emotions like anger, anxiety, and depression, (37). It may be better than cognitive behavioral therapy for stress management, anxiety, and depression (38).    Exercise helps make the hormone DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) (41), which helps depression (39) self esteem and low energy (40).  DHEA can improve immune response (41) and memory (42).  Exercise four times a week to improve GABA.  Get enough sleep, as this helps balance hormones and neurotransmitters (52).


To increase GABA eat the following foods high in glutamic acid: oats, whole wheat, whole grains, almonds or tree nuts, oranges and other citrus fruits, bananas, beef liver, halibut, lentils, broccoli, brown rice, rice bran, potato’s (52).

For BDNF production eat oily fish, blue berries, red grapes, and dark chocolate (12;13).

For DHEA eat good fats with plenty of omega 3 fatty acids.  Eat pumpkin seeds, raw butter, ghee, and the following oils: flax, palm, olive and cod liver (43).

For serotonin eat the following foods: turmeric, dark chocolate, green tea, cold-water fatty fish, and fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, unpasteurized sauerkraut).  The last helps balance gut bacteria as too much of a bacterium called lipopolysaccharides can lower serotonin levels (22;26;27).  Also, eat Tryptophan (an amino acid) rich foods.   Eat complex carbohydrates, these make more serotonin than protein based foods with Tryptophan.  Protein has been found to block the production of serotonin so, eat sweet or starchy (ideally complex) carbohydrates without protein (22;23; 24).  Eat low or fat free, and protein free, carbohydrates on an empty stomach (about three hours after a protein).  The food source (like gram crackers, pretzels etc.,) should have at least 25 to 35 grams of carbohydrates and no more than 4 grams of protein.  Try to eat less than three grams of fat per serving as this can increase your weight.  If you want a quick boost to your mood try a simple carbohydrate, but keep in mind that this will raise your blood sugar levels.  You should feel an effect 20 to 40 minutes after eating (25).

For dopamine eat bananas, (the riper the better), almonds, apples, watermelons, cherries, yogurt, beans, eggs, and meats (56).

Drink green and black tea to increase BDNF (12;13).

Do not eat sugar, processed foods or high fructose corn syrup, as these disrupt BDNF production (10) and dopamine production  (56).

For BDNF take these supplements: zinc, magnesium (14), and curcumin supplements, or cook with the spice turmeric (11;51) or curcumin (8). Some antidepressants do work to increase BDNF production (9).

For dopamine address any magnesium deficiencies (56). Symptoms include cravings for salt and carbohydrates, having high blood pressure, being constipated, muscle spasms or pain, head ache, feeling  tired, mood swings (anxiety or irritability) and other signs of depression, and experiencing heart palpitations or a rapid heartbeat (56).

For dopamine take vitamins C and E (56).

Take vitamin B6 to increase GABA (52).

Regarding DHEA, in Canada it is only available as a prescription (44).  Conversely, DHEA is available for sale as a supplement in the US (45).

Reduce or eliminate caffeine as it may desensitize brain cells to serotonin (46) and dopamine levels decrease after drinking coffee (56), and avoid artificial sweeteners (aspartame) as it inhibits the uptake and conversion of tryptophan (22; 47).

For depression in general adding vitamins (B6, B9 and B12), and supplements (SAM-e, that is S-adenosylmethionine) to your diet can help (28; 29). Magnesium has been found to substantially help with treatment resistant depression (82) as have vitamin D and amino acids, especially tryptophan (30).

Take the amino acids tyrosine and l-phenylalanine or phenylalanine (which the body makes into tyrosine) to make dopamine.

Chlorella, a green alga, has been shown in clinical trials to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety (31). Kava extract has been effective for some people as an alternative to pharmaceuticals (4).

The following have also been shown to improve mood in depressed individuals:  music therapy, and relaxation training (33).

To increase both serotonin and BDNF eat probiotics and prebiotics.  Eating probiotics (bacterial culture found in fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, pickles and sauerkraut) or taking supplements and prebiotics help relieve depression, anxiety and thought related problems (54).  Eat lactobacillus rhamnosus (55) Lactobacillus casei Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum (54). Serotonin and BDNF production is also improved by eating prebiotics (starches that nurture good bacteria) like squash, onions, sweet potatoes and asparagus can also help increase BDNF (14;15) and serotonin.

Treatment for depression: Peri-menopausal depression and premenstrual symptoms also respond to hormone replacement therapy (HT/HRT) (1). And, many women opt for estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) (16; 17), which has been shown to increase a sense of well-being (18). For some postmenopausal women, HRT combined with a type of anti-depressant/anti-anxiety drug called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may work better than SSRIs alone (1).   Others may opt for natural remedies and biodentical hormone therapy.

In some studies light therapy (especially blue light) has recently been proven more effective than anti-depressants in treating depression (19) and combining light therapy with antidepressants was even more effective. Blue light exposure helps anxiety as well.  It increases production of serotonin and may strengthen and stimulate the areas of the brain responsible for processing emotion and language.  This in effect enables better handling of stressful situations and greater mood regulation (20).  Ideally you would get enough light naturally, by walking outside in sunlight for 15 minutes a day.  Alternatively, you can buy an inexpensive light box at most retailers, or online, or try installing full-spectrum high-quality (fluorescent) lightbulbs in your home and place of work.  Keep in mind that blue light can harm your eyes, so don’t look directly at it.  Also, avoid blue light at night as it may affect the ability to go to sleep (including TV and tablet screens).   If you purchase a blue light box place it on a high enough surface to allow the light to hit the lower part of the eye, as this is where blue spectrum light naturally is absorbed (21). Red/infrared light also increases serotonin, dopamine, and BDNF.

Other pre-and perimenopause related medical problems that cause depressive symptoms and anxiety are thyroid problems (48), deficiencies in B vitamins (especially B 6 and 12 [49]) and iron (anemia) due to excessive bleeding (50).


1   Deecher, D., Andree, T.H., Sloan, D., & Schechter, L.E., (2008).  From menarche to menopause: Exploring the underlying biology of depression in women experiencing hormonal change.   Psychoneuroendocrinology, 33, 3-17.

2   Epperson, C.N., Amin, Z., Ruparel, K.L., Gur, R., & Loughead, J., (2012).  Interactive effects of      estrogen and serotonin on brain activation during working memory and affective processing in menopausal women.  Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37, 372-382.

3 Pearlstein, T.B.  (1995).  Hormones and depression: What are the facts about premenstrual syndrome, menopause, and hormone replacement therapy? American Journal of Obstetric Gynecology, 173, (92) 646-653.

4   Pittler, M.H., & Ernst, E., (2000).  Efficacy of Kava extract for treating anxiety: systematic review and meta-analysis.  Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 20 (1), 84-89.  Accessed:

5   Women to women website, run by Dr. Marcelle Pick, OB-GYN, NP.  Webpage:  Am I in menopause.  Accessed at:

6   Warner-Schmidt JL, Duman RS (2006). Hippocampal neurogenesis: opposing effects of stress and antidepressant treatment. Hippocampus. 16 (3): 239–49. doi:10.1002/hipo.20156. PMID 16425236.

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29   WebMD website. Webpage: Vitamins and Supplements Lifestyle Guide, SAM-e (S-adonosylmethionine, SAMe).  Retrieved from, supplements/lfiestyle-guide-11/suppliment-guide-sam-e

30     Nerogestics, the brain wellness program website.  Webpage:  Amino acids. Accessed:       

31    Panahi, Y., Badeli, R., Karami, G., Bandeli, Z., & Sahebkar, A., (2015).  A randomized controlled trial of 6-week Chlorella vulgaris                 supplementation in patients with major depressive disorder.  Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 23 (4), 598-602.

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33    National Institutes of Health, National Center for Compementary and Integrative Health web site.  Web page:  NCCIH Clinical Digest for health professionals. What science says, Octover 2015.  Retrieved from                                  

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39      Wolkowitz, O.M., Reus, V.I., Roberts, E., Manfredi, F., Chan, T., Raum, W.J., Ormistron, S.,      Johnson, R., Canick, J., Brizendine, L., & Weingartner, H. x

Owen M. Wolkowitz

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  • Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, USA
  • Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, USA


  • Address reprint requests to Owen M. Wolkowitz, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, 401 Parnassus Avenue, Box F-0984, San Francisco, CA 94143-0984.

(1997).    Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) treatment of depression.  Biological Psychiatry 41 (3): 311-318

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41    Heaney, J.L.J., Carroll, D., & Phillips, A.C., (2013).  DHEA, DHEA-S and cortisol responses to acute exercise in older adults in relation to exercise training status and sex.   Age (Dordr) 35 (2):395-405.  Doi: 10.1007/s11357-011-9345-y

42    Wolkowitz, O.M., Reus, V.I., Roberts, E., Manfredi, F., Chan, T., Raum, W.J., Ormistron, S., Johnson,        R., Canick, J., Brizendine, L., & Weingartner, H., (1997).  Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) treatment for depression.  Biological Psychiatry 41 (3): 311-318.

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Potassium deficiency..menopause

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies may be attributed in part to night sweats.

Potassium deficiency (hypokalemia) may be a partial result of menopause. Here night sweats lead to fluid loss. This reduces the body’s ability to maintain a proper balance of nutrients like potassium (158).  Potassium is an electrolyte (these conducts electricity in the cells of the human body).  Potassium helps regulate nerve impulses, digestion, blood pressure, and helps muscles contract and the heart beat properly.

Low potassium can cause bloating, stomach pain and fluid retention (159) all symptoms of PMS. Low potassium has also been associated with glucose (blood sugar) intolerance and impairment of the body’s ability to produce or secrete insulin (174). Low blood sugar can lead to brain fog or confusion (including problems with decision making), sweating, heart palpitations and feeling jittery, teary and irrationally   angry (184).  These are also symptomatic of menopause.

Low potassium levels have also been shown to be a precursor too, and potential cause of, the development of Type II diabetes (177). Low potassium may lead to more calcium being excreted from the body which can result in an increased risk of bone demineralization and kidney stones (174) in the short term and osteoporosis in the long term (183).

Other symptoms of low potassium levels are muscle problems (muscle fatigue, twitches, cramps, and weakness), and feeling tired (186).

The normal range for potassium in the blood is 3.5 to 5.0 mEq/Litre of blood. As the kidneys excrete this same amount from the body daily a person must maintain a healthy potassium level by eating between 70 and 100 mEq of potassium or 270 to 390 milligrams per decilitre (176).  The average adult in America gets approximately 2.700 milligrams (2.7 grams) of potassium a day.  Adults should get about 90 mEq a day. That means eating foods with the combined equivalent of 3,500 to 4,700 milligrams or 3.5 to 4.7 grams per day (182, 183).

Keep in mind that excessive intake of potassium (hyperkalemia) is fatal, causing cardiac arrest or heart attack (182). Hyperkalemia is considered to be consuming 18 grams or more per day of potassium for an adult.

Good sources of potassium are (176):

Meat like beef, turkey and fish.

Vegetables like mushrooms, tomatoes, peas, beets and greens.

Fruit (dried, fresh or juiced) apricots, prunes, avocados, strawberries, cantaloupe, bananas, kiwi, and oranges or grapefruit



158  Website:  34 menopause symptoms, webpage: night sweats and vitamin deficiency.  Accessed at:

159   Symptoms and treatment website. Webpage: symptoms of low potassium in women.  Accessed:

174 Rowe, J.W., Tobin, J.D., Rosa, R.M., & Andres, R.  (1980). Effect of experimental potassium                deficiency on glucose and insulin metabolism.   Metabolism, 29 (6), 498-502.

175   Fengj, H., & MacGregor, G.A., (2001). Beneficial effects of potassium. The BMJ, 323, 497-501.

176   Medicine net website.  Webpage:  low Potassium (Hypokalemia).  Author:  Wedro, B., MD.                                               Accessed:

177   Ekmekcioglu, C., Elmadfa, I., Meyer, A.L., & Moeslinger, T., (2016).  The role of dietary potassium in hypertension and diabetes. Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, 72, (1), 93-106.

182   Recommended Dietary Allowances, 10th Edition. (1989). National Research Council.              National Academy Press, Washington D.C.

183   He. F.J., & MacGregor, G.A., (2008). Beneficial effects of potassium on human health. Physiologia Plantarum, 133 (4), 725-735.

184   Johns Hopkins medicine website. Webpage: Article 87840, Get off the blood glucose roller coaster. Must know health info, Johns Hopkins medicine.  Accessed:  www.

185   U.S. Department of Agriculture & U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.  Diatary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, 7th Edition.  Washington D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office.  December, 2010. Accessed: WWW.

186   Symptoms and Treatment website.  Webpage:  Symptoms of low potassium in women, by administration. Accessed:

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