I was invited by its host, Patrick Timpone, to be interviewed about the Mind, Brain, Gut Connection on his One Radio Network live talk radio show, Know the Source. Show topics focus on health, wealth and well being.
The interview took place the morning of September 10 2019 and turned out to be quite fun. He was also interested in my perspective as a clinical psychologist and we managed to wend our way into other topics as well.
Here’s a complete audio recording of my interview segment:
Blood thinning medications are designed to prevent dangerous clot formation inside the body, not to actually make the blood thinner or break up existing clots.
Doctors tell you to avoid blood thinners for some time before surgery (two weeks to one day) to reduce your risk of prolonged bleeding during the operation but the list they give you usually includes only OTC and prescription blood thinners – and perhaps vitamin E. Here’s a typical list:
When I was getting ready for wrist surgery scheduled for August 30th a year ago, my orthopod required the results of several tests, including some blood work, by August 23rd in order to clear me for the surgery. It was early August and most internists I contacted were either going on vacation, didn’t do pre-op testing or wouldn’t take a new patient.
I finally found a young MD internist with a large, hip practice in my neighborhood who was willing to do all the required pre-op testing and could see me on August 14.
His office said it could take a week for them to receive the blood results. Not hearing anything from either the internist ‘s or surgeon’s office, I assumed all was well. Then, when I called the internist on August 24th, six days before the surgery, to get a copy of the blood results for my records, I was told told my clotting factors were quite elevated so he hadn’t sent a Medical Clearance letter to my surgeon. He also hadn’t let me know about this problem.
The internist asked if I was taking Warfarin, bruised easily, had bleeding gums. No, no & no. He was alarmed by my clotting factor results and wanted me to see a hematologist immediately to find out what was going on.
I suggested the results were probably from the nutritional supplements I was taking and told him I’d been off them since the 21st (10 days pre-op). Fortunately, he recognized he’d made a mistake and had me come in that same day to get my blood retested. And mercifully, he was also willing to order the lab to process the new blood STAT so the results would come back later that day or Saturday morning. Saturday morning his nurse practitioner called to say my clotting factors were now normal and they’d faxed a Medical Clearance letter to my surgeon.
I’d given the internist a list of all my supplements and their doses when I’d seen him on the 14th. His reaction on the 24th was :’Yes, but we don’t know what those things are”.
On the positive side, I learned that those supplements are highly successful in promoting circulation and it’s unlikely I’ll ever get a dangerous blood clot. Also, they apparently clear the system in a day or so, unlike pharmaceuticals.
SOME NATURAL BLOOD THINNERS
“Many people assume that just because a product is labeled as “natural”, it is harmless. The truth is that many powerful drugs (and poisons) are based on natural substances, so it’s clear that many natural substances can have a potent effect on the body. If this seems surprising, hemlock is “natural” and “plant-based” and can even be grown organically, but it didn’t do much for Romeo and Juliet’s relationship.” (Kita, 2019)
Turns out there are many other natural blood thinning/ anti-clotting substances that you’d do well to avoid before surgeries.
Below is a partial list of herbal supplements that belong on that list because they either:
are known to have blood thinning properties and may also interact with other blood thinners
are known to interact with blood thinners and therefore should be avoided
These are associated with increased bleeding:
St. John’s Wort
Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oils)
– (Kita, 2019), (Blitz, 2012) & (Francis, 2019)
Supplements can have cardiovascular effects:
Ephedra (causes hypertension, palpitations, and tachycardia)
Garlic (can cause hypotension)
Supplements That Can Cause Drug Interaction:
St John’s Wort
– (Kita, 2019), (Cox, 2017), (Penn State Hershey Medical Center, 2017) & (CBD School, 2019)
Supplements That Can Have Anesthetic Effects
St John’s Wort
– (Kita, 2019)
Supplements Known to Cause Other Types of Adverse Events:
St John’s Wort (can cause photosensitivity, especially after laser or chemical peels)
Ginseng (can cause hypoglycemia)
– (Kita, 2019)
SOME NATURALLY BLOOD THINNING FOODS
Oily fish (eg, albacore tuna, anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon & lake trout)
My lists above aren’t comprehensive so please take some time to google the specific supplements you take to check if they also have blood thinning properties. – and also include those supplements on the Pre-surgery Checklist you give your doc.
Blitz, N. (2012). What Vitamins Should You Take Before Surgery? While several vitamins, minerals and amino acids are used during healing, there are specific ones that are known to specifically to support the normal response to healing, and to support the normal immune system response to infection. See: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/surgery-vitamins_b_1159251
The liver is a large organ that sits above the stomach on the right side of the belly. Its main job is to filter the blood coming from the GI tract and then pass it on to the rest of the body. During this filtering, it detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. It also makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions. (Hoffman, 2019)
Since I have a history of having unpleasant reactions to even small doses of many Western medicines, I want to be sure to detoxify my liver after any surgical procedure that requires anesthesia, sedatives and other pharmaceuticals. This is what I worked out with the help of Dr Gabrielle Francis, my naturopath, acupuncturist, herbalist, chiropractor, and licensed massage therapist, to do after my two recent cataract surgeries:
FREQUENT ACUPUNCTURE FROM AN EXPERT PRACTITIONER
Acupuncture has helped me heal after these surgeries and also helped detox my body from whatever drugs I was given during the surgeries and the eye drops I had to use for many weeks post-op. Dr Francis, has geared each post-op acupuncture session to healing my eyes and clearing my body of toxins.
As New York City acupuncturist and herbalist Dr Christopher Peacock, DACM, MS, says, acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer “the perfect supplemental treatment to assist in surgical healing where even the tiniest of vasculature is often compromised at the incision site.” Here are a few ways that acupuncture helps us recover from surgery:
“1. Acupuncture is well known for inhibiting the inflammatory process. Inflammation, while sometimes necessary, can be quite painful and stagnating. If fresh blood isn’t permitted to move into an inflamed area, pain is often the result.
“2. Acupuncture promotes microcirculation in tiny vasculature that makes up the capillary bed. Acupuncture can stimulate your own bodies ability to reconnect the tiny blood vessels that have been compromised with your procedure.
“3. Acupuncture can alter the perception of pain. Because of its ability to encourage endorphin release and disarm the nervous system, acupuncture can inhibit pain signals.”
– (Peacock, 2019)
Lest you think acupuncture isn’t real, effective medicine, here are three examples:
1. While I was seeing Dr Yan Wu, LAC, for acupuncture here in New York, his wife needed a hysterectomy. She told her New York University Hospital doc she’d only agree to the surgery if it could be done with acupuncture given by her husband in lieu of pharmaceutical anesthesia and if she could also receive acupuncture from him for post-op pain relief and to promote healing.
Dr Wu was sufficiently well regarded that the hospital agreed – though I’m sure they were also required to have an anesthesiologist on hand in the OR. Many MDs and other medical personal came to observe the surgery. Mrs Wu said she felt no pain during the operation or post-op.
Dr Wu is the author of Practical Therapeutics of Traditional Chinese Medicine, an original Chinese text written specifically for translation to English. Dr Wu is a linguist and physician, a visiting professor at the Pacific Institute of Chinese Medicine in New York, and a tenured faculty member at Beijing Peili Acupuncture College. His book describes traditional Chinese Medicine as practiced in the medical centers of the People’s Republic of China.
2. When I was in grad school, a young assistant professor in my department went to China with a group of psychologists. While they were in a remote area, her appendix ruptured and she needed immediate surgery. She was taken to a country clinic, helped up onto an operating table, draped to block her view of the surgical area and given acupuncture during the surgery. She said she felt some tugging sensations but never any pain.
After the operation was over, she was helped to stand and walk to her room where she was given more acupuncture for pain. When she got back home, she said though she never in a million years would have volunteered for any of that, if she ever needed surgery again, she’d want it done with acupuncture so she wouldn’t have to recover from both the surgery and the anesthetic.
Below is video of an open heart surgery being done in Shanghai in 2019 with acupuncture needles instead of pharmaceutical anesthesia. Only watch it if you’re not squeamish about seeing blood.
3. Some years ago I had two very sick cats and had veterinarian Dr Jeffrey Levy, DVM, CVA, of House Call Vet NYC come to my home to give them acupuncture treatments. The younger cat with serious IBD loved these treatments so much she’d present herself at his feet for him to put in the needles and then would purr happily. The older cat, with IBD and in end stage kidney failure, would sit happily in my arms while he put in the needles. Both cats lived considerably longer and in much better shape than their traditional vets thought they would.
Here’s a video of Dr Levy at work:
NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR LIVER DETOXING
I wanted extra support from nutritional supplements to help detox my liver from the negative effects of whatever sedative/anesthesia I was given IV during the surgeries and also from ophthalmic prednisolone, the steroid eye drops I had to use for 5 1/2 weeks after each eye surgery. These are the supplements I decided upon.
Milk thistle improves liver function by raising protective glutathione levels, helps reduce and reverse damage caused by toxins and free radicals and assists with maintaining a healthy weight.
A highly concentrated, effective extract of milk thistle
Possesses Antioxidant and Free Radical Scavenging Activity*
Improves Glutathione Levels, the Body’s Major Antioxidant*
Stimulates Liver Protein Synthesis and Liver Cell Regeneration*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
– (Jarrow Formulas, 2019)
Zinc supports immune health. It’s essential for growth and physical development, the immune system and most aspects of reproduction in both males and females. (Amazon, 2019). It helps protect the liver from damage, by reducing lipid (fatty) buildup. (Smarter Reviews, 2019)
BioInflaMax, made by Nutra BioGenesis, features a blend of herbs, enzymes and other select ingredients designed to help support gastrointestinal and whole-body cytokine balance, soothe local tissues, and promote body comfort.
CYTOKINE BALANCING: BioInflaMax contains a number of compounds that may have beneficial properties to help soothe and balance tissues. Ingredients include Bromelain‚ Curcumin‚ Boswellia, N-Acetyl L-Cysteine‚ Papain and Ginger.
TURMERIC: Curcumin is a bioactive compound that comes from the Indian curry spice turmeric‚ which has strong antioxidant properties. It has been the subject of scientific research for its reputed benefits on the body’s natural response to inflammation. BioInflaMax also features Black Pepper extract, which has been demonstrated to support curcumin bioavailability.
BOSWELLIA & L-GLUTAMINE: Boswellia-derived AKBA has been studied for its reputed effects in supporting joint motility, cellular immunity and gastrointestinal integrity. L-Glutamine is a preferred fuel source for enteric cells lining the intestinal tract and plays a role in cellular repair and mucosal immunity.
– (Amazon, 2019B)
I’m taking 2 capsules of BioInflaMax AM & PM.
GLUCOSAMINE SULFATE TO PROTECT MY TENDONS FROM THE ANTIBIOTIC EYE DROPS
I needed to use an antibiotic eye drop called oxfloxacin 4X day for several days before each cataract surgery and then in lessening doses over the following 5 1/2 weeks. When I looked it up, I discovered it’s a fluoroquinolone, like Cipro.
Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics commonly used to treat a variety of illnesses such as respiratory and urinary tract infections. These medicines include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), gemifloxacin (Factive), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), norfloxacin (Noroxin), and ofloxacin (Floxin). They’re so dangerous, the FDA requires a black box warning on them and recommends prescribing them only as a drug of last resort.
Even though I didn’t need to take this drug systemically, I was still concerned about protecting my tendons and the rest of my body while on it so I asked Dr Francis what I could do to stay safe while using it. She recommended Integrative Therapeutics’ Glucosamine Sulfate-750: 1 capsule in the AM/ 1 capsule in the PM while on the antibiotic – to start post op since this supplement is also a blood thinner.
Glucosamine helps build and support joint cartilage, lubricates and strengthens tendons. It’s a compound naturally found with joint cartilage that has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.
The body needs glucosamine for synthesizing proteins and fats that form cartilage as well as playing an important role in building the joints, tendons and ligaments plus forming the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints.
Glucosamine also helps improve gut health and digestion, mobility, range of motion and general joint health. (Axe, 2019)
OCUFORCE FOR MY EYES
OcuForce, made by Designs for Health, supports eye health and healing:
LIMITS EYE DAMAGE – Exposure to toxins, ultraviolet light from the sun, and free radicals can all do significant damage to the eye. The simple act of letting light pass through the eye and hitting the retina increases the exposure of eye tissue to a range of different light generated free radicals. For this reason, it makes sense to optimize intake of eye nourishing nutrients, especially as we age.*
PROVIDES COMPREHENSIVE EYE SUPPORT – OcuForce is a comprehensive formulation containing a vast array of eye-supportive nutrients, including lutein, zeaxanthin, bilberry, Ginkgo biloba, curcumin, green tea, taurine, lipoic acid, vitamin A, and mixed carotenoids including beta carotene. This product does not contain synthetic carotenoids, as research shows that natural carotenoids offer a superior spectrum of benefits.*
IT PROVIDES CAROTENOID – Out of all the natural carotenoids in OcuForce, Lutein is the most important for the protection of the retina. Lutein, a yellow carotenoid found in foods such as corn, egg yolks, kale, spinach, and broccoli, protects the retina from the free radical damage it undergoes regularly. The lutein used in OcuForce is naturally derived from marigolds.
– (Amazon, 2019B)
When I discovered that the ophthalmic prednisolone drops were interfering with my ability to fall and stay asleep, Dr Francis recommended the stress hormone stabilizer Cortisol Manager made by Integrative Therapeutics. Taking one at bedtime has helped but not fully solved the problem.
SLEEP AND STRESS SUPPORT – Contains non-habit forming, stress-reducing ingredients such as ashwagandha, L-theanine, magnolia, and epimedium.
STRESS HORMONE STABILIZER – Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” is naturally at its highest levels in the morning, and declines throughout the day. Too much stimulus (i.e. stress), can knock these levels out of their natural rhythm. Cortisol Manager helps support the body’s natural rise and fall of cortisol, resulting in feelings of relaxation and a more restful night’s sleep.
ALLEVITATE FATIGUE – with no morning drowsiness and without diminishing daytime alertness.
ADRENAL HEALTH SUPPORT – The adrenal glands play a large role in regulating stress levels. Cortisol Manager helps support adrenal health.
– (Amazon, 2019D)
GI REVIVE & PROBIOTICS TO MAINTAIN GUT MICROBIOME HEALTH
To maintain the integrity of the mucosal lining of my gut (home to the friendly bacteria living in my gut), I continued taking G I Revive as usual: 2 capsules before each meal. This high quality nutritional supplement made by Designs for Health provides:
OPTIMAL GASTROINTESTINAL SUPPORT – GI-Revive combines L-glutamine, N-acetyl-glucosamine, MSM, DGL, slippery elm, marshmallow, chamomile, okra extract, cat’s claw (TOA-free), quercetin, and mucin for comprehensive support.
PROMOTE REGULARITY – Prune powder and citrus pectin are also included to aid occasional irregularity and promote healthy bowel function.
SUPPORT THE GUT LINING – This comprehensive formula contains ingredients designed to promote proper intestinal function and the mucosal lining.
– (Amazon, 2019C)
Since the steroid drops are constipating, I also added some additional probiotic supplements to the ones I usually take to help with that:
Dr Mercola’s Complete Probiotics (1 capsule before breakfast)
Dr Mercola’s Complete Spore Restore (1 capsule before breakfast)
Align (1 capsule before breakfast)
Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Kefir
And I’ve continued to take my usual digestive enzymes supplement:
Enzyme Science’s Complete Digestion (1 capsule before each meal)
SOME OTHER SUPPLEMENTS FOR LIVER HEALTH
Tocotrienols are a potent form of vitamin E. Studies have found that tocotrienols taken at the clinically recommended dosage can help cleanse the liver of excess fat buildup. (Smarter Reviews, 2019)
Selenium is a powerful mineral that’s vital for healing and detoxing the liver from harmful buildups. It stimulates production of the antioxidant glutathione, which heals damaged liver tissue cells and promotes elasticity. (Smarter Reviews, 2019) & (WebMD, 2019)
FOODS THAT HELP THE LIVER DETOX THE BODY
Eating foods that the liver thrives on goes a long way to recovering from the stresses and pharmaceuticals involved in modern surgery.
Nutritionist Charles Passler, DC, points out the importance of keeping our livers working at high efficiency. “When the liver is working optimally, it can take toxins stored throughout your body, convert them into their water soluble form, and efficiently excrete them from your body.” Eating the right foods greatly helps the liver flush out foreign chemicals. (Sarway, 2019)
Look for organic versions of all of these so you’re not consuming toxic pesticides as you’re trying to detoxify your liver:
GARLIC: Garlic activates the liver’s detoxifying enzymes. These enzymes help break down toxins and eliminate them from the body. Fresh garlic contains allicin, a compound that kills unfriendly, toxin-producing organisms in the GI tract. Garlic contains a whopping 39 different antibacterial agents that protect our bodies against illnesses.
BEETS: “Beets activate liver enzymes and [affect] bile, which helps break down and absorb healthy fats and fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin E,” says Dr. Passler. “When your liver transforms fat and soluble toxins into their water-soluble form for excretion, it binds many of those toxins to bile so they can be escorted out of your body in bowel movements.”
APPLES: Apples are rich in fiber, helping to clean out the bowels and introduce friendly bacteria. Be sure to choose organic since non-organic apples are one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed crops.
BROCCOLI SPROUTS: Dr Passler points out that broccoli sprouts are high in antioxidants and boost the liver’s production of glutathione even better than broccoli, supporting both phases of liver detoxification. Glutathione has antioxidant properties and also stimulates the immune system. It’s made up of three amino acids: L-cysteine, L-glutamate and glycine. You may remember from earlier posts that L-glutamate is the main building block in the mucosal lining of the intestines, where our probiotics live.
WATERMELON: A two-cup serving of watermelon provides the amount of daily fiber recommended by the American Liver Foundation. It also contains lycopene, an antioxidant that increases glutathione levels in the body.
FERMENTED FOODS: Tangy fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and real pickles fermented in brine (not the kind made with vinegar) are rich in gut-friendly probiotic bacteria that make our gut microbiomes happy.
WALNUTS: Walnuts increase circulation and blood flow in the body, assisting delivery of toxins to the liver where they’re broken down and eliminated. They also boost brain power.
AVOCADOS: Avocados provide fiber and healthy fats. They’re also a beautiful color and very tasty.
The American Liver Foundation’s guideline for a diet to preserve the health of your liver:
“Avoid high calorie-meals, saturated fat, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, white rice and regular pasta) and sugars. Don’t eat raw or undercooked shellfish. For a well-adjusted diet, eat fiber, which you can obtain from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals. Also eat meat (but limit the amount of red meat), dairy(low-fat milk and small amounts of cheese) andfats (the “good” fats that are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish). Hydration is essential, so drink a lot of water.” (American Liver Foundation, 2013)
SOME OTHER FOODS THAT MAY IMPROVE LIVER HEALTH
COFFEE: Coffee has the ability to prevent buildup of fat and collagen in the liver, increases antioxidant levels while decreasing inflammation and lowering the risk of developing liver disease, cancer and fatty liver.
TEA: Green and black teas are generally considered to beneficial, particularly for the liver. They have been shown to improve liver enzyme levels, reduce oxidative stress and fat deposits in the liver. However, taking green tea extract has sometimes been found to cause liver damage.
GRAPEFRUIT: Naringenin and naringin, the two main antioxidants in grapefruit, help protect the liver from damage by reducing inflammation and protecting liver cells.
BLUEBERRIES & CRANBERRIES: Antioxidants called anthocyanins give these berries their distinctive colors and protect the liver from damage.
GRAPES: A variety of beneficial plant compounds – including resveratrol – in red and purple grapes protect the liver from damage, increase antioxidant levels and protect against inflammation.
BEETROOT JUICE: The nitrates and antioxidants called betalains in beetroot juice protect heart health, reduce oxidative damage and inflammation of the liver, and increase natural detoxifying liver enzymes.
CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES: Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and mustard greens are high in both fiber content and beneficial plant compounds. They increase levels of detoxification enzymes and protect against liver damage.
NUTS: Nuts contain high fat levels – including the antioxidant vitamin E – plus beneficial plant compounds that improve heart health and liver enzyme levels.
FATTY FISH: The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish reduce inflammation, are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and prevent fat from building up in the liver, normalizing enzyme level and improving insulin resistance.