Thanks

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough. – Meister Eckhart

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all our American readers, and thank you to our readers everywhere!

Thanksgiving Day is a day of gratitude, and yet historically the holiday grew out of death and suffering. The first official Thanksgiving Day was declared by the Continental Congress in 1777 during the Revolutionary War, and Thanksgiving became established as an annual holiday in 1863 during the Civil War. The original American Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Mayflower Pilgrims who had arrived late in the New World, as winter was beginning; nearly half died that winter. Yet the 53 survivors befriended the local Indians and, with their help, soon flourished. After their first year, Edward Winslow described their success:

[O]ur harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain, and others.  And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty. We have found the Indians very faithful in their covenant of peace with us; very loving and ready to pleasure us: we often go to them, and they come to us; some of us have been fifty miles by land in the country with them; the occasions and relations whereof you shall understand by our general and more full declaration of such things as are worth the noting, yea, it hath pleased God so to possess the Indians with a fear of us, and love unto us, that not only the greatest king amongst them called Massasoit, but also all the princes and peoples round about us, have either made suit unto us, or been glad of any occasion to make peace with us, … so that there is now great peace amongst the Indians themselves, which was not formerly, neither would have been but for us; and we for our parts walk as peaceably and safely in the wood, as in the highways in England, we entertain them familiarly in our houses, and they as friendly bestowing their venison on us.

It is often assumed that since Thanksgiving was a harvest festival, the Pilgrims must have been giving thanks primarily for prosperity. But in truth, their greatest blessing was friendship and peace with their neighbors. It is love and fellowship which most deserve our gratitude.

I posted my tribute to Mathias this week because these connections between death, love, and gratitude were in my mind. His life was brief, but rich in love; see the comments from Mathias’s grandmother Cheryl and mom Kindy. A dinner party is a good thing, though it comes to an end; a life is a blessing, be it however short. Mathias remains a blessing, and a reason for gratitude.

Shou-Ching, Luke, and I have much to be grateful for. I had originally intended to review today some of the health results sent in by readers, but I will save that for later. Suffice it to be said that we have many lovely online friends and are grateful for all of you. We wish you the best of health always.

Into every life, adversity will come. Yet no adversity, not even death, can extinguish our causes for gratitude. Therefore,

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. . . . Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness endures to all generations. (Psalm 100: 2,4-5)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Shouching68

Farewell Mathias

Longtime readers will remember Mathias and Zachary, the unfortunate children suffering from Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation, a genetic disorder that leads to horrifically painful spasms beginning in early childhood, and death as a teenager. I wrote about their case in Ketogenic Diet for NBIA (Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation), February 22, 2011.

The ketogenic version of PHD had remarkable effects for the NBIA kids. Mathias and another boy who tried the diet, Zachary, regained control their limbs, and the spasms and pain went away. Kindy, Mathias’s mom, wrote in 2011:

Both boys have begun smiling and laughing all the time.

Nothing inspires happiness more surely than the cessation of extreme pain!

My speculation is that a ketogenic (or high-fat) diet helps in NBIA by allowing Coenzyme A, the crucial enzyme which is under-generated in NBIA, to be redistributed from organs like the liver and muscle, where it is manufactured in abundance, to the brain where it is most needed. On a ketogenic or high-fat diet, more CoA is created and it is more often bound in water-soluble forms (such as acetyl-CoA, acetoacetyl-CoA, and HMG-CoA) that can cross cell membranes and enter the brain.

Mathias and Zachary continued to do well on our diet for over three years. Kindy recently wrote:

Zach is actually doing really well.  He is following your diet still (not into the ketogenic range but otherwise following it more or less precisely) …  He is off nearly all of his medicines and is able to do things that he never could in his life.   He is not well – but he is not in pain and has no spasms, and is doing school work etc.

An aside: I’ve been hearing recently from a number of people who experienced great benefits in neurological conditions – NBIA, epilepsy, migraines, and others – following the ketogenic version of our diet, and later transitioned to the regular version of PHD with more carbs and less fat, and continued to maintain all the neurological benefits they had first achieved on the ketogenic diet. Perhaps it was not the ketosis that was crucial, but some other aspect of PHD, such as reduction of inflammation or improved nutrition.

Mathias also was doing very well, until he developed pneumonia last summer. Possibly his genetic mutations disturbed immune function; in any case, the pneumonia led to fatal complications. Kindy wrote:

I want to let you know that on June 23, Mathias died of septic shock.  He went into the hospital 10 days prior with pneumonia and we were packing to go home on the following Friday when he got a sudden fever.  The doctors asked us to stay one more day – his lung x-rays were clear but they were concerned about the fever.

On Saturday, his fever went to 41 degrees Centigrade.  On Sunday, it went to 42 degrees.  Despite every available antibiotic and all other attempts to save him, Mathias died peacefully with a strong heart (153 beats per minute – and breathing on his own).

He was surrounded (even in Intensive Care) by his whole family, plus his aunt, and two of his long time helpers – plus two of his nurses and two doctors.  We thought it would be a few more days and we were all hugging him, and laughing with him and telling him stories.  From one second to the next, his heart stopped.

We choose to believe that Mathias decided – down to the last second – what and how he was going to leave his earthly body.  He had no cramps, no spasms, no pain. He just let go surrounded by love.

We are privileged and honored to have known such a brave, smiling, incredible person.  He did more and affected more people in his 9 years of life than most people do in their entire lives. He was always happy, always smiling – a gift to everyone around him.

Thank you for being part of the forces around his life who helped support him, love him, and provide him with the best life that was possible for him. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Mathias RIP

Farewell Mathias. May you rejoice in God’s kingdom, where all love and all are lovable, and all tears are wiped away. Requiescat in pace.

Update: Attacking Ankylosing Spondylitis with PHD

In January I wrote about Steven Morgan’s recovery from Ankylosing Spondylitis on a modified version of PHD. Steve generously shared his email address and has been trading ideas with other Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) sufferers.

Steve had a flare of his AS recently after drinking some dirty water on a camping trip, so he has had to re-recover from AS. He recounts his recent experiences here:

Commentary

AS sufferers often see symptoms flare when consuming starch. This may be, as Alan Ebringer has argued for the last 20 years, because the disease is caused by a Klebsiella infection in and around the gut. Infiltration of Klebsiella into lymph nodes around the gut can lead to formation of antibodies that cross-react between Klebsiella lipopolysaccharides and our native HLA-B27 and collagen. These autoantibodies can generate autoimmune attacks on collagen, a characteristic of all the spondyloarthropathic diseases. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Klebsiella is a carbohydrate-metabolizing bacterium; in cell cultures, any carbohydrate – glucose, fructose, galactose, and compound sugars such as sucrose, lactose, and starch – will facilitate Klebsiella growth. This has led Ebringer to advocate a diet low in carbohydrate for AS patients. Since resistant starch is the largest source of carbohydrate fiber in modern diets, that means a low-starch, low-carb, high-protein diet.

The general tendency of PHD is the opposite: we recommend getting about 30% of calories as carbs, and 5/6 of all carb calories from glucose. On a natural whole foods diet, this means that starches are a significant part of the diet.

PHD is generally a gut-friendly, fiber-rich diet. A diverse gut flora is associated with good health, and achieving a diverse gut flora requires a diet rich in carbohydrate fiber including resistant starch from cooked-then-cooled starchy foods.

This raises a tension in many gut diseases:

  • Symptoms flare whenever starches and other foods rich in carbohydrate fiber, such as the FODMAP bearing fruits and vegetables, are eaten.
  • However, there cannot be a full recovery until a complete gut flora has been restored, which requires feeding probiotic bacteria with starches, fruits, and vegetables.

Ebringer’s recommendation of a low-carbohydrate diet is palliative but not necessarily curative. It reduces symptoms, but it doesn’t by itself roll back the infection or bring about growth of a beneficial gut microbiome.

As a temporary therapeutic measure to facilitate a full recovery, I often suggest using dextrose in place of starches as a source of carbs, along with steps to support immunity and development of a probiotic gut flora.

Dextrose is pure glucose. It is rapidly absorbed in the small intestine and therefore is unavailable to gut bacteria. Dextrose can therefore provide enough carbs to support immune function, mucus production, collagen repair, and general good health, without providing any fiber to gut bacteria.

Steps like consumption of liver, sun exposure, intermittent fasting, and circadian rhythm entrainment will further support immune function and aid suppression of the infection that caused the disease.

During this period of low-fiber dieting, eating fermented vegetable juice and other sources of probiotic bacteria can help displace bad bacteria from the gut. As probiotic microbes become more dominant in the gut, normal whole foods can gradually be restored, allowing a probiotic bacterial population to grow in place of the pathogenic bacteria.

Steven has largely followed this plan of attack, with success. It should work for all the spondyloarthropathic diseases including rheumatoid arthritis. I’d love to hear from others who try it.

References

[1] Fielder M et al. Molecular mimicry and ankylosing spondylitis: possible role of a novel sequence in pullulanase of Klebsiella pneumoniae. FEBS Lett. 1995 Aug 7;369(2-3):243-8. http://pmid.us/7649265.

[2] Ebringer A et al. Molecular mimicry: the geographical distribution of immune responses to Klebsiella in ankylosing spondylitis and its relevance to therapy. Clin Rheumatol. 1996 Jan;15 Suppl 1:57-61. http://pmid.us/8835505.

[3] Tani Y et al. Antibodies to Klebsiella, Proteus, and HLA-B27 peptides in Japanese patients with ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis. J Rheumatol. 1997 Jan;24(1):109-14. http://pmid.us/9002020.

[4] Rashid T et al. The potential use of antibacterial peptide antibody indices in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. J Clin Rheumatol. 2006 Feb;12(1):11-6. http://pmid.us/16484874.

[5] Ebringer A et al. A possible link between Crohn’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis via Klebsiella infections. Clin Rheumatol. 2007 Mar;26(3):289-97. http://pmid.us/16941202.

[6] Rashid T, Ebringer A. Ankylosing spondylitis is linked to Klebsiella–the evidence. Clin Rheumatol. 2007 Jun;26(6):858-64. http://pmid.us/17186116.

[7] Rashid T et al. The link between ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, Klebsiella, and starch consumption. Clin Dev Immunol. 2013; 2013:872632. http://pmid.us/23781254.

Camel’s Milk and Luke’s Baptism

I apologize for the lack of blogging – between Luke’s birth, our October Perfect Health Retreat, and other obligations, the last three months have been hectic. But everything has gone very well, life is returning to normal, and I will resume blogging soon.

In the meantime, let me share a video from Australia and some baby photos.

PHD Cameo on Aussie TV

The Australian television show “Sunday Night” did a special on camel’s milk, and reader Richard Price was featured. He managed to sneak a copy of Perfect Health Diet into the video (watch starting 3:19 for Richard’s story):


A note on milk: Milk and dairy generally are listed among our “pleasure foods”, meaning they are acceptable in small doses but discouraged in large doses. We often serve a mug of warm whole milk with honey and turmeric as a dessert at our retreats; but we recommend against using milk as a staple food, due to evidence of danger such as this study. Milk supports growth of a healthy gut flora, so it can be therapeutic; but I am not familiar with special advantages to camel’s milk.

Baby Photos

Luke was baptized yesterday, and Mom and Dad are proud. Father Mark Murphy presided, the godmother was present, and the godfather participated by Skype from Switzerland:

Father Murphy and company at font

After the ceremony Luke was able to converse with his godfather:

Luke and his godfather

Here is our family (minus two):

Family after baptism

We had been saving a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 1998, originally received as a wedding present, for a special occasion. It was a very generous gift and we thought Luke’s baptism the best opportunity to open it:

Celebrating Luke's baptism

The activity may have tired him out a little:

Luke resting after baptism

Can’t get enough baby photos? I’ve posted a few more on Facebook.