Can You Test For CSS – Central Sensitivity Syndrome?

a lab icon productsIn the Healing Plan (HP) and on a previous post, I have discussed the fact that many of us with multiple sensitivity, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and chronic pain are probably suffering from some form of Central Sensitivity Syndrome illness. 

So, of course, I started trying to work out if we could get any clues. What could we test to see if we were too-turned up? Here’s a bit from the HP that might help – there’s more in the Plan:

What we’re looking for here are clues about what the sympathetic nervous system is up to. Is the dial turned up?

We can start by checking for neurotransmitter patterns – is the glutamate high and the serotonin, dopamine and/or noradrenaline low? Are you over-stimulated with excitatory neurotransmitters and yet don’t have enough of the inhibitory ones to offset it?  

Some researchers have suggested looking at the catecholamines  – that’s dopamine, adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine) – and others say, if on an organic acids test Vanilmandelate and Homovanillate are high, the person is likely having a heightened sympathetic nervous response and the dial is up, especially if the serotonin marker 5-HIAA is low.

Happily, I have persuaded one of the labs to list the dried urine ZRT NeuroAdvanced test, which includes all of these markers including the VMA, HVA and 5-HIAA below so I reckon this could be termed our CSS test, or as close as we can get to one currently (I am taking a bow…!).

Looking at the adrenals can help too. Seeing cortisol levels on a DUTCH test might be useful. You want a clear picture whether metabolised cortisol is high or low.

In general, these are the two patterns to look for – and to get this you would need the ZRT NeuroAdvanced test and a DUTCH Adrenal Advanced preferably.

I am not an expert by any means and I am feeling my way a bit here, but this is how I might interpret the tests in terms of confirming CSS and relevant treatment; I hope it gives you some clues as to what form of treatment might be best for you. There’s a lot more detail in the Healing Plan in terms of lowering Substance P and things to watch out for in treatment:

  • If adrenaline, noradrenaline and/or dopamine are high and/or HVA and VMA are high with 5-HIAA low and metabolised cortisol is high – that is an acute stress CSS picture to me and this person definitely needs calming down before the body becomes tired out by it all. I would use the Lowering Cortisol advice and protocols in the Adrenal Plan (TGF version preferably) and the amygdala-calming techniques in the Healing Plan.
  • If adrenaline, noradrenaline and/or dopamine are high and/or HVA and VMA are high with 5-HIAA low and metabolised cortisol is low – this person likely has CSS and needs calming down sort of therapy like the Healing Plan. This is the pattern most often seen in PTSD. These people are hyper, anxious and reactive internally, but shattered.
  • If adrenaline/noradrenaline/dopamine are low and cortisol is low, the person is flat, fatigued and needs adrenal boosting as this is more an adrenal fatigue type picture. Use the Cortisol Boosting advice and protocol in the Adrenal Plan.

Arthritis and Pain Factsheets

back pain iconpain icon

I have today updated the Arthritis, Aches and Pains and Pain Disorders factsheets for you in the Health A-Z.

Lots of tips and specific protocol stuff on acute and chronic pain. Hope they help.

Anxiety, Pain, Intolerance? Try This Free Meditation Programme, Starts Today!

Do you need to calm down? Is your anxiety or pain level too high, or your body reacting to stuff all over the place? Then, one of the techniques I recommend, and am using myself for food hyper-sensitivity, is meditation. You can read a much larger blog post about the steps I am taking to calm my hyper-sensitivity down here on TGF (I didn’t want to bore you all with it!), but it suddenly struck me this morning that many of you would benefit from this meditation programme that starts today!

Healing Series: Whoa Is Me!

Here’s a bit taken from that post which might suit some of my lovely Purehealth family:

My Fave Meditation Technique

I have read countless books on meditation, breathing, para-sympathetic triggering type techniques, watched many videos and lectures on neuroscience and availed myself of what seems like zillions of downloads. For this calming down stage, I found the one that works best for me me is the simplest and takes 15 minutes. Go figure. And I got it for free, so bonus!

  I know it sounds cheesy but I joined the Oprah Winfrey/Deepak Chopra 21 Day Perfect Health Meditation Challenge. I needed help; someone to hold my hand, something that was easy to do, didn’t take too long and would get me into the habit. It takes 21 days, so they say, to develop any new habit, and that’s why it is a 21 day challenge. I did it really early on, then forgot about it as I got more complicated about stuff. In retrospect, I should have stuck with it for longer.

Basically, even though they are really well-known celebs etc, they do know their stuff and Deepak’s credentials are second to none in this field. I have quite a few of his CDs etc now and there’s not one I haven’t liked. It might just be that he has a superb deep, nourishing sort of voice that I respond to. (So does P and that’s why I fell in love with him on the phone, which is a whole other story..). Anyway, the way it works is that they do free programmes and then you can purchase if you want to. I’m not sure if the free version goes after the 21 days as I bought it anyway so I could download and keep it. Either way, there are regular free ones and loads of resources on the main website too.

How It Works

Each day’s meditation starts with a little chat from Oprah and then a positive healing type message from Deepak. This is followed by a ‘centreing thought’ – an affirmation if you will – and then a 10 minute meditation where you breathe and silently say the day’s mantra in your head. The point of the mantra is that if you are focusing on that, you are not focusing on anything else and you can drift into what they call ‘the gap’, the stillness and silence that is so nourishing for our parasympathetic nervous systems. It takes practice, of course, as does anything worthwhile doing.

NB. You may be way beyond me here, of course, but bear in mind the lesson I am giving here is to start right back at the beginning and have the intention of not over-stressing your mind and body. To go right back to basics with meditation. Do you need to do that? I didn’t realise I did for months!

You can read tons on the t’interweb about meditation generally, and about mantra meditation specifically so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel there. I will say one of the best books about meditation types I have read is DavidJi, someone who actually who worked with Deepak for years and he explains the various techniques and gives you little trials to have a go with. The book can get a bit ‘deep and meaningful’ if you know what I mean, but I found the explanations about the various methods of meditation very useful and enjoyable. I’m sure there are other, probably better ones, but I haven’t read them and this one worked for me.

Suffice to say, he now rates mantra meditation, specifically primordial sound meditation (no, never heard of it either!!), as the best, having tried loads over the years. Useful to know. After I read that, I thought: ooh, I know a good mantra one; the 21 day challenge!

I’m sure there are others but that 21 day thing works for me. I repeat it twice a day, either doing the same day twice or moving on and just repeating the whole programme in a shorter time. I’m sure I’ll move onto others in time. One thing I do know is that I like meditating and find it very beneficial. Very calming.

One thing I did like about it specifically was the positivity. Again, cheesy, but I noticed how negative I had become in my own self-talk especially, but also to everyone else. So, I specifically wanted someone to talk to me positively. I also wrote down the centreing thought or something that was said on a piece of paper and stuck it on my notice board, repeating it every time I walked past it. And, I do think it made a difference.

In fact, there is even a part of the site where you can write down your thoughts and answers to some questions after each day’s meditation if you like – confidentially, of course – and I found that helpful. I didn’t do it every day but it has been interesting to go back and look at what I said last time. I find there is a definite shift in my thinking, which is nice to see. Not so negative. Most of the time 😉. Of course, journaling (writing stuff down to you and me), is a known technique for helping heal emotions specifically so that part of the programme is also good to do.


Free 21 Day Programme Coming Up on 3rd November 2014!

I was lucky that the Perfect Health programme came up as I needed it. I am happy to say there is a new 21 day challenge due to start on 3rd November. It’s called Energy of Attraction – Manifesting Your Best Life. You can see more about it here and join in if you like. It’s not a specific health one, although there is a lot of cross-over I find in these kind of things and it may just help you get into the habit of meditation or simply try it, as I did. Worth a look.


Multiple Sensitivity? Chronic Pain? Read This.

I have just written a very long post on the TrulyGlutenFree blog about multiple sensitivity and chronic pain, and whether it could be central sensitivity syndrome. Have you heard of it?

It’s basically where someone suffering from any pain or sensitivity to stuff has neurotransmitters that have gone awry and their pain and perceived threat level has been turned up far too high. Fascinating stuff and may just be the answer for some of us with multiple sensitivity or chronic pain. Here is a quick list of which illnesses are known to be CSS conditions now (even if your GP has never heard of it!):

  • Fibromyalgia syndrome (FM)

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

  • Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Migraines

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Frequent Tension Type Headaches (TT)

  • Premenstrual Syndroms (PMS)

  • Food Intolerance

  • Stimuli Hypersensitivity

  • Depression

  • Interstitial Cystitis

  • Vulvodynia

  • TMJ (temperomandibular joint)

  • Dental pain

  • Visceral pain

Eye-opening, huh?

Do go and have a read – there is a lot of personal info on there because most people on there know I am suffering myself so I’ve used me as a case study; please forgive me that!

I hope it helps you. I shall be adding it onto a new Chronic Pain page on the Purehealth site in a bit too. Sit comfortably and I’ll begin…

Is It Central Sensitivity Syndrome?

The Link Between #Nightshades and #Pain

Here is a useful well-referenced article that lists the nightshades and explains a lot more about them for you. Consider it particularly if you suffer from chronic pain, especially muscle and joint pain as nightshades are very linked to arthritic-type conditions.:

The Link Between Nightshades, Chronic Pain and Inflammation

Here, for ease, is the full nightshade list with a few comments where relevant from me. Note specifically the info about GM soya; I was fascinated that it appears to be ‘cut’ with the petunia plant, a known nightshade. No-one is suggesting you have to get rid of all of these although it may be necessary if you are in chronic pain to trial off all of them, of course, to see if it lowers.

The nightshade list

  • ­ tomatoes (all varieties, including tomatillos) 

  • ­ potatoes (all varieties, NOT sweet potatoes or yams) these first two are the main avoiders, not least because they are lectins too.

  • ­ eggplant (aubergine)

  • ­ okra                                                      

  • ­ peppers (all varieties such as bell pepper, wax pepper, green & red peppers, chili peppers, cayenne, paprika, etc.)

  • ­ goji berries very good for you in antioxidant terms; I haven’t found a problem with them and use ‘em in my muffins.

  • ­ tomarillos (a plum-like fruit from Peru)

  • ­ sorrel

  • ­ garden huckleberry & blueberries (contain the alkaloids that induce inflammation) 

  • ­ gooseberries

  • ­ ground cherries ground?? Wonder why..

  • ­ pepino Melon

  • ­ the homeopathic “Belladonna”   [note: this is highly precautionary as homeopathics contain virtually no measurable “active” chemical]                                                          

  • ­ tobacco

  • ­ paprika 

  • ­ cayenne pepper

Soy sauce made in the U.S. is generally made with genetically modified (GMO) soy beans, which are cut with the nightshade plant Petunia.

The condiments black/white pepper and pepper corns are not nightshades

The Importance of Magnesium: It’s Not Just About Calcium!

I must talk about magnesium in some way or another most days. Quite often, it is to explain that magnesium is actually far more important to us than calcium when people are worrying about their calcium levels and taking shed-loads of it, but that is a whole other blog post! (See here, for example).

So, I was pleased to see this great summary about our need for magnesium and the newly-coined phrase, the ‘magnesome’ which really reflects how magnesium binds to proteins and affects our genetic expressions in the body.

As the article points out, as a  result of relatively recent findings:

a deficiency of magnesium may profoundly affect a far wider range of biological structures than previously understood.

When I trained with the fabulous biochemist Lawrence Plaskett, he was always at great pains to make us think about the magnesium status of patients and indeed much of my protocol advice is still based around getting the magnesium level high enough. I spend a lot of time explaining why I want the magnesium generally to be twice as high as calcium in the prescription, which is totally the opposite to most products and other approaches.

Indeed, quite recently, I have been able to start testing the red cell level of magnesium and I am finding most results are low, which rather proves his point.

In this piece, Green Med Info have chosen their seven top magnesium-related conditions from their massive database of research studies. Make sure you read the whole article for more on each of them and for the research links, but here are the top 7 for you:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Diabetes, Type 2
  • Premenstrual Syndrome
  • Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality
  • Migraine Disorders
  • Aging

You can read the studies for each area that has brought them to this conclusion. I can attest to the importance of magnesium in pretty much all of those clinically and, personally, with migraine and PMS certainly. I wrote about migraine herefibromyalgia here and, PMS here.

They also include some useful info on which foods give good magnesium sources and the best supplemental types to go for. Here are the top 10 foods for you, although my resources show a slightly different list with kelp, almonds and cashews quite high too:

  • Rice bran, crude (781 mg)
  • Seaweed, agar, dried (770 mg)
  • Chives, freeze-dried (640 mg)
  • Spice, coriander leaf, dried (694 mg)
  • Seeds, pumpkin, dried (535 mg)
  • Cocoa, dry powder, unsweetened (499 mg)
  • Spices, basil, dried (422 mg)
  • Seeds, flaxseed (392 mg)
  • Spices, cumin seed (366 mg)
  • Nuts, brazilnuts, dried (376 mg)

Nice to see our old friend flaxseed in there and I was pleased to see cocoa powder; now there’s an excuse! Just imagine a smoothie or granola breakfast mix you make with flax, brazils, cashews, almonds and pumpkin seeds – a good magnesium booster for you right there.

With regard to supplements, they advise magnesium oxide or citrate for those with a slow gut as that type of magnesium has a gentle laxative effect for most. I like this one generally as my favourite since most people seem to need a bit of extra gut help now and then and this seems to work very gently rather than simple citrates. Don’t forget how flaxseeds help keep you going too.

For non-constipated types, they recommend glycinate like this, although I have to say I have found the above Citrizorb suitable for almost everyone, slow gut or not. I also find the magnesium oil spray works well especially for those who are not absorbing well and for those with pain or restless legs as you can spray it right on the hurty bit.

For more, check out the post I wrote on the Importance of Magnesium here, which itself will take you to a really good video explaining a lot of these links to magnesium.

So, trust me when I say your magnesium level is far more important to you than your calcium one. Honest.

Top Supplements and Therapies For #Arthritis Pain

Arthritis Research UKJust what can help the ongoing chronic pain of arthritis? Arthritis UK have just launched a couple of reports that might help us answer that question. You can download both reports in full from here.

Note that actually the title of the report is rather negative in that they suggest they have found a lack of evidence for complementary therapies but, if you read the report there is quite a lot of positive in it! Bad headlines sell newspapers and all that…

Natural Remedies

In the first report, they have analysed the evidence in randomly controlled trials (RCTs) into pain relief given by various natural supplements such as fish oils, glucosamine etc.  They include pain relief supplements used for arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromylagia.

Note first of all that this means that there has to have been an RCT on this very subject for the evidence to have been included, so it may not actually very accurately reflect patient experience. For example, they found very little RCT evidence for glucosamine, but I have seen it bring substantial relief many times for patients in practice. I would also like to have seen combinations of the different substances tested eg glucosamine with MSM which, again, I have found successful in clinical practice, although of course that doesn’t happen in RCTs; I think the synergy between elements is actually stronger many times than single ones. That’s why you tend to get combinations in products.

All that said, any RCT evidence is useful so it’s certainly worth looking at.

Complementary Therapies 

In the second report, they have done the same thing to assess the evidence of various complementary therapies and the pain relief those might confer.

So, what was the conclusion?

Pain Relief Supplements For Arthritis

Alternative medicines appear to be more promising [than those for RA and FM I think they mean] for people with osteoarthritis, with only 4 out of 22 approaches (18 per cent) scoring 1 point:

There is a great chart on page 60 of this first report which summarises the findings. The headlines, though are:

Capsaicin, made from chilli peppers, proved the most effective for osteoarthritis, scoring the full 5 points, as did Fish Body Oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis

The nutritional supplement SAMe was found to be well tolerated and scored a 4 for effectiveness for OA. So did Indian Frankincense.

FM was much better helped by therapies – see below.

I have searched for a combination product containing Capsaicin, SAMe, boswellia (frankincense) and fish oil for you but haven’t found one yet so you will need to choose one and combine them yourselves. That said, one of the pain relievers I do recommend has frankincense in and you can get it from ND as usual here. Read about it here. You can also get capsaicin gels and creams to rub on, so look out for those. If you’re not sure what to use or choose, just ask and I will help.

Top Therapies To Help Pain

In this second report, several therapies were considered – again only those which have had RCTs done on them will show up, but it does make interesting reading. Many people I know swear by other therapies like chiropractic and osteopathy so this may not reflect actual patient experience. That said, as a massage therapist in the past myself, I know how much it can help, and acupuncture was always our next recommendation, especially for nerve pain like sciatica.

For Arthritis, Acupuncture scored the full 5 and Tai Chi 4.

For Low Back Pain, both Massage and Acupuncture scored the full 5 and Yoga 4.

For Fibromyalgia, a tremendously difficult condition to treat in my experience, I was pleased to see Massage score the full 5 and Acupuncture a 4.

The Arthritis Pain Prescription

In summary, at least from this report, it seems, for pain, you should get regular acupuncture and massage, and use Tai Chi as your exercise choice. A combination of fish oils and boswellia with a capsaicin cream to rub on should go some way to helping you too.

Hope that is useful for you. Please do ignore the rather negative headlining here; there is much that can help and I know I would rather use massage, fish oils and frankincense that be on drug-based anti-inflammatories if I could.