Thursday, 29 October 2009

Day 310 - Probiotics

“Probiotics are bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines. The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, is the best known.

It has been suggested that probiotics be used to treat problems in the stomach and intestines. But only certain types of bacteria or yeast (called strains) have been shown to work in the digestive tract.

In most circumstances, people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill "good" (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to diarrhea. Taking probiotic supplements (as capsules, powder, or liquid extract) may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria and thus help prevent diarrhea.

A decrease in beneficial bacteria may also lead to development of other infections, such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections, and symptoms such as diarrhea from intestinal illnesses.”


Those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I write a new post either when I have explored a new avenue as a possible cause for my headache, or when someone has suggested looking at a specific factor that may be contributing to the pain.

I have now run out of avenues to explore. I have not come across anything else, whether this be through research or by talking to others, that I have not looked at.

I am still clueless.

But I am still taking my supplements, and feel that the probiotics the kinesiologist suggested taking are somewhat alleviating my pain. Having said that, I do not know if it happens to be a coincidence that my headache seems to have been alright for the past couple of weeks or if it is actually better because of the probiotics themselves. I did take them a few months ago and, if I am not mistaken, I did feel better during that time.

My zinc drops that I ordered over three weeks ago have, nonetheless, not arrived thanks to the postal strike. Thank you Royal Mail.

On the low pain days I feel full of life and energy, ready to live the day ahead to the max. One temporarily forgets about the severe pain, and it’s not until it returns that you realize just how bad it is.

The other day somebody told me that - strange as it may sound and difficult as it may be - I have to start to befriend my pain, as this will help me come to terms with it. It may also help me get less worked up about it as the pain itself causes stress. Given that I have no answer and am not able to justify what I am living through, it angers me, thereby making me stressed.

I now have to try and befriend the pain and almost treat it as if it were one of my peers - given that I need to spend all day and all night with it, it’s best if I consider it a friend as opposed to an enemy. I have tried, and it’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when the pain intensifies and all I want to do is bang my head against the wall and tell the headache to stop tormenting me...

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Day 299 - Zinc

“Along with calcium and iron, zinc is probably the most important mineral to the human body. Zinc plays a crucial role in growth and cell division where it is required for protein and DNA synthesis, in insulin activity, in the metabolism of the ovaries and testes, and in liver function. It is particularly important for healthy skin and is essential for a healthy immune system and resistance to infection, as it helps with the healing of wounds. As a component of many enzymes, zinc is involved in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and energy.

Our body contains about 2-3g of zinc. There are no specific storage sites known for zinc and so a regular supply in the diet is required. Zinc is found in all parts of our body, 60% is found in muscle, 30% in bone and about 5% in our skin. Particularly high concentrations are in the prostate gland and semen. Men need more zinc than women because male semen contains 100 times more zinc than is found in the blood. The more sexually active a man the more zinc he will require.

The first signs of zinc deficiency are impairment of taste, a poor immune response and skin problems. Other symptoms of zinc deficiency can include hair loss, diarrhoea, fatigue, delayed wound healing, and decreased growth rate and mental development in infants. It is thought that zinc supplementation can help skin conditions such as acne and eczema, prostate problems, anorexia nervosa, alcoholics and those suffering from trauma or post-surgery.

Zinc is contained in a wide range of foods but the richest sources are meat (lamb in particular), oats, eggs, nuts and oysters. Only 20% of the zinc present in the diet is actually absorbed by the body. Dietary fibre and phytic acid, found in bran, wholegrain cereals, pulses and nuts, inhibit zinc absorption. Phytic acid forms a highly insoluble complex with zinc which the body cannot absorb. Cooking processes can reduce the adverse effects of both phytic acid and dietary fibre on zinc absorption. Baking can destroy over half the phytic acid in wholemeal bread.

Zinc deficiency occurs where a large part of the diet consists of unleavened bread, such as Iran and other Middle East countries. High levels of the toxic mineral cadmium can also prevent zinc absorption because these two minerals compete for absorption. Conversely high levels of zinc in the diet can prevent the absorption of cadmium. Various chemicals added to many processed foods can also reduce zinc absorption eg phosphates, EDTA. Zinc is lost via the faeces, urine, hair, skin, sweat, semen and also menstruation.”*

I have been off the blogging radar for a few weeks - I have managed to start working again! What excitement at the age of 25. The headache seems to have stabilized itself to about 3 to 4/10 (when standing) which is great. When lying down it continues to be worse, about 6/10.

I have been seeing the kinesiologist on a regular basis, who has been looking at a number of headache causes from cranial faults to vitamin deficiencies. I am now taking zinc supplements. I recently learned that a zinc deficiency can cause, or certainly exacerbate, everything from acne to diabetes. This is because zinc is needed by the body to make insulin (the hormone that regulates glucose levels in the blood), eliminate harmful toxins, and to maintain a healthy immune system.

Yesterday I also went to see one of the top neurologists at Queen’s Square in London, reputedly the place to go when you’ve given up with everyone else. I was surprised the doctor was glad to hear I was not taking any medication; he encouraged me to continue without, given my progress in the past few months.

“There are a number of patients in the ward upstairs who have had a headache for twenty years” he told me. “They have all been on heavy medication for all that time, and you have no idea how much worse their headache is now as a result of that”. He did, however, give me some suggestions as to what to take should the headache get worse again and should I decide to start taking some medicines. It was certainly refreshing to hear a doctor of western medicine encourage me to “see where your natural path takes you”.

He also explained that given my family’s history of migraines, he believes it is perfectly normal to have started suffering from a headache/migraine at my age, in particular given that I am female. He explained that sometimes these bizarre constant headaches go away by themselves, while other times they stay... for a long, long time.