Monthly Archives: January 2015

Biohacking Tip #2: Scientific Method

Scientific MethodAn intervention is something we do with the intent to change.

It’s the ‘hack’ in ‘biohacking’.

When you select an intervention, you usually have some implicit or explicit beliefs about the intended outcomes.

You have a hypothesis: If I do this, I hope to get that.

Such as, if I remember to do oil pulling every morning my dental health will improve.

Or, if I stick to the Autoimmune Protocol, I’ll start to reverse my autoimmune symptoms & maybe get my life back.

In this way, most biohacking follows the scientific method.

It’s entirely possible to select an intervention just for exploratory kicks. To find out what might happen, without any specific hypothesis in mind. That can be fun, but it’s straying into the territory of Developmental Biohacking, which I’ll explore in future posts.

For now, let’s stick with the scientific method.

(Fun fact: the origin of the scientific method is attributed to Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham a millennia ago.)

The Scientific Method

BuddhaStep 1: Question

Let’s say you have a desired state that is different than your present condition.

Your intended outcome for your biohacking experiment will be some variation of that desired state. Usually, it will involve a reduction of undesired elements or an increase in desired ones.

Whatever your intended outcome, write it down. Be realistic without unduly limiting yourself.

Step 2: Research

Next, select a strategy that you think has a reasonable chance of getting you closer to your intended outcome.

To do that, look at published research &/or the anecdotal reports of other people who are experimenting with the same thing.

Decide what sources you trust. One of the best ways to do this is by first digging in to the methodology (is it sound?) & then by triangulating (find at least 3 distinct sources that support the finding).

After this research, you may need to revise your intended outcome.

Step 3: Hypothesis

Once you’ve chosen an intervention, you have a hypothesis (If I do this, I’ll get that). 

Write it down. Include a realistic time frame.

Step 4: Experiment

Test your hypothesis.

Start by documenting your current state in light of your intended outcomeGather data for your baseline measure, using indicators that are relevant to your experiment.

Then engage with the intervention. As designed.

Step 5: Analyze

Observe. Gather data at appropriate intervals & at the end of your experiment.

Gather the same data as at your baseline, but document unanticipated outcomes, too.

Compare your observed outcomes to your baseline. Then compare your observed outcomes to your intended outcomes.

This is where you assess the efficacy of your hack: was it sufficient? Was is implemented correctly? Does it need to be refined? Abandoned? What about unintended outcomes? Are they desirable/undesirable?

Draw conclusions. Conclusions are best guesses. They inform the next iteration.

Step 6: Report

Document your findings. For your own purposes, or publish your findings.

blog is a great forum for that.

Bonus Step 7: Adapt 

This step is depicted by the arrow.

arrowIt’s a magic arrow that can take you back to any stage of the process. Use it to ask a new question; do more research, recraft your hypothesis; relaunch your experiment; do more analysis; or change your direction entirely.

Biohacking: the quick version

At it’s most basic, biohacking involves choosing an intended outcome (‘I will reverse my autoimmune symptoms & get some of my life back’), running an experiment that you think will help you to achieve that outcome (such as the Autoimmune Protocol), and then comparing the observed outcomes with your initial condition & intended outcomes.

observed & intended outcomesYour intended outcomes are your aspirations. The data you gather describes you, in particular domains, over time.

Biohacking is about systematically organizing your life so you can align the two.

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Lunch 2 Go: Nori Wraps (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

LunchNow that I’m experimenting with a (mostly) Autoimmune Protocol-friendly version of the Bulletproof Diet, I’m back to bringing food to work.

I was emancipated from packing lunches for most of the past year while doing an AIP-compatible version of the Wahls Paleo Plus last spring & summer & then my own super low-carb ketogenic version of the AIP last fall.

  • Like the AIP & the Wahls Paleo Plus, the Bulletproof Diet is a variation on the extreme-paleo theme.
  • Like the Wahls Paleo Plus, it’s a relatively carb-intensive ketogenic protocol.
  • Unlike either of the ketogenic versions of the AIP I’ve tried previously, it includes three meals a day. Necessitating lunch.

The first meal is bulletproof coffee.

If you are on the AIP, you can substitute tea for the coffee & omit the butter, and you’ll end up with something like a London Fog Latte.

I’ve gone long periods without coffee on the AIP, but recently I’ve put it back in, as it’s a core aspect of the Bulletproof diet. I’m also doing butter in my breakfast coffee, which was a bit wrangly, because before I went paleo I was vegan and It’s been a VERY long time since I’ve eaten dairy. And I also add collagen to the brew.

But getting back to packing lunches: it’s not inconsequential.

It’s another whole planning process. Food has to portable. Containers have to be clean. Every weekday morning. It’s more dishes to do. It’s another bag to carry around (& not forget). I don’t use microwaves, so the food I bring needs to be edible in a cold state. Or it needs to be pre-heated at home & kept hot until noon.

So, my go-to strategy for workday lunches right now is a hot woman shake and these nori wraps.

Avocados are an almost perfect food. The one drawback is that they are relatively high in omega 6s. The solution? Balance those Omega 6s with extra Omega 3s. Which are found in abundance in sockeye salmon.

Desk drawer trick_2I keep a package of nori, tinned sockeye & some green avocados in my desk drawer.

And I bring along a jar of store-bought sauerkraut or sliced cucumbers with olives to go alongside.

Then I pack the components for a hot woman shake, which adds some welcome warmth to my otherwise room-temperature lunch.

The Desk Drawer Trick

My #3 kid stopped by my work the other day. She watched me roll up my lunch.

“I’d actually eat that.” she said.

Perfect~.

I gave her my plate & dove into my desk drawer for another tin of salmon & some more nori.

It’s my desk drawer trick.

I’ve fed ravenous foodless co-workers that way, too.

Nori wraps: portable, desk-drawer store-able (& teenager-approved~.)

I’ve even lived on these for most of a week while at conference in an airport hotel in Winnipeg.

It’s lunch:

Nori Wraps (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoWrap

  •  2 sheets of Nori
  • 1 ripe Avocado
  • 1 tin Sockeye Salmon

Lay out the Nori.

Put half the tin of Salmon on each sheet. Add ¼ of an Avocado, sliced.

Fold up the bottom of the Nori sheet & roll up the sides. Lay each roll seam side down.

Serve with the remaining sliced Avocado.

Add sliced cucumber & olives, sauerkraut &/or a Hot Woman Shake or London Fog Latte to make it a workaday feast~.

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MTHFR gene mutations~ think twice before implementing standardized treatment regimes

This is part 2 of a 2-part series. Find part 1 by Rory Linehan at the Paleo PI. I wrote part 2:

Mutants R Us: We all have gene mutations

DNAGene mutations are caused by environmental factors (think radiation & chemicals), or by errors that occur during natural replication.

We all have them.

Some gene mutations become hereditary. Like other genetic characteristics, we give them to our kids.

Genetic mutations can have complex consequences.

For example, there’s evidence that a genetic mutation enabled early humans to process plant-based foods, allowing for expansion of the fish-based diet that had previously kept them tethered to bodies of water in central Africa.

AfricaThis mutation enabled migration across the continent, which created cultural diversity as we know it today. It also (eventually) created the diseases of civilization for descendants of these early Africans (I might be one~), which we are now trying to heal by returning to our ancestral eating patterns.

Pretty profound consequences for a mutation in one little gene cluster.

Advances in genomic analysis enables us to access huge amounts of data about possible mutations in our 24,000 genes.

It’s nice to think that somewhere in this superabundance of highly-individualized scientific information, there might be answers to some of the challenging health questions we’ve been asking.

Of all the data generated through genomic analysis, the MTHFR gene mutation is getting the most attention.

MTHFR the current darling of the alternative health care world.

MTHFR~

Rory

Find Rory @ the Paleo PI

The MTHFR gene is involved in the methylation cycle, as described by Rory Linehan in part 1 of this post

Considering the primacy of the methylation cycle for our health, it makes sense that it is being targeted as an intervention point. Unfortunately, what we don’t yet know about how to address specific genetic mutations outweighs what we do know, and it’s inevitable that we’ll make mistakes along the way.

The best we can do is continue to refer to emerging research, conduct informed experiments & share the results with each other. That’s the spirit this post is offered in.

Treating the MTHFR Mutation

The problem: blanket prescriptions for supplements are being issued on diagnosis of the (very common) MTHFR gene mutation, but many people aren’t responding well to this approach.

Chris Kresser addresses this phenomenon in a podcast:

“Impaired methylation is fairly common. That’s because a relatively high percentage of the population, 45% of the population, is heterozygous for an MTHFR mutation, which, in layperson’s terms, means almost half the population has a genetic mutation that reduces the activity of the MTHFR enzyme up to between 20% and 40%. That alone doesn’t mean that the enzyme won’t function well. I want to emphasize that. I see a trend out there that really disturbs me, which is that people are getting genetic tests, and then taking supplements only on the basis of their genetic results. I think there’s really nothing in the research literature to support that. Genes load the gun and environment pulls the trigger, as I’ve said before. Genes can tell you what kind of methylation issues you’re predisposed to having, your specific genetic profile. But it can’t tell you how you’re actually methylating or whether you need methylation support. I just want to emphasize that, because I’ve been seeing that there are these companies now where you can run your genetic profile through them, and they spit back a list of supplement recommendations. I have a big problem with that. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine right now. I see a lot of people doing potential damage to themselves by just following those recommendations based only on the results of their gene profile.”

Turns out a number of Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) bloggers have experienced this first-hand:

US Autoimmune Protocl bloggers: Angie & Mickey

US AIP bloggers: Angie & Mickey

Mickey

Mickey blogs with Angie Alt at Autoimmune Paleo. She is also a coach with The Paleo Mom Consulting.

She says: “This is a huge topic considering how popular MTHFR is in the community right now. A lot of people are really jumping to conclusions and engaging in treatment that has not been proven to be clinically significant, and in some cases, quite harmful. I have a compound heterozygous mutation (one of each), and supplementation created histamine issues from being over methylated. Diet and avoiding toxins go a long way in treating most of the population with these mutations.”

Rory

Rory blogs at The Paleo PI. He had to sleuth his own solution after being prescribed an inappropriate supplement based on the diagnosis of the MTHFR mutation:

“I also have an MTHFR mutation and at one stage was supplementing with P5P [Pyridoxal phosphate, the active form of vitamin B₆, is a coenzyme in a variety of enzymatic reactions]. It ended up doing much more harm than good, causing some real bad inflammation, as my CBS enzyme (later in the methylation cycle) has its own mutation causing me to process sulphites too fast. This caused a massive build-up of sulphites between CBS and SUOX (the next enzyme in the cycle) as my SUOX runs at standard pace. Having some luck now with getting my CBS back to a normal pace.”

(Warning: Once you start down genomic analysis rabbit hole, you almost need to learn a whole new language!)

Canadian AIPer: Matthew

Canadian AIPer: Matthew

Matthew

Matthew doesn’t blog (I do!) But he does have autoimmune conditions which he is reversing through the Autoimmune Protocol.

He was prescribed Methylfolate by his Functional Medicine Doctor based on his heterozygous MTHFR C677T gene mutation. Methylfolate can cause side-effects, many of which mimic Matthew’s existing symptoms (irritability, insomnia, sore muscles, joint pain and nausea), so it took a while to figure out that the supplementation was actually making things worse. He abandoned that treatment. After studying his genetic report & doing his own research, he discovered that he was also homozygous for the MTHFS gene mutation. As a result he was prescribed Folinic Acid, but experimental treatment with Folinic Acid resulted in excruciating intestinal pain, so that treatment was abandoned as well.

Matthew has to be careful to implement only one treatment at a time, both to determine how a new protocol affects him & because he tends to experience all the gnarly side-effects for any given treatment. He’s in experimental treatment recovery mode right now, and to date hasn’t found an effective treatment, other than a nutrient-dense diet (he remains on a low-FODMAP version of the Autoimmune Protocol).

Angie

Angie blogs with Mickey Trescott at Autoimmune Paleo & she also coaches with The Paleo Mom Consulting. She comments on the successful treatment of her own MTHFR mutation:

“I have the most severe form of this mutation, but my blood work looks so awesome that I am basically “outdoing” it.  I take a simple methylated B vitamin & eat right. Case closed. Having the super bad version of the mutation & Birth Control pills did not mix (life improved immensely when I stopped Birth Control). And I have labs that show my B-12 was in the tank at Celiac diagnosis, shot through the roof with supplements (not methylated forms), then when I switched to methylated it evened out nicely. Oh! And after I started methyl Bs, my skin (acne) finally cleared! My liver could detox better, is my assumption. Still not resolved: infertility. But I am sure that is more than just MTHFR.”

Austrailian AIP bloggers: Joanna & Rory

Austrailian AIP bloggers: Joanna & Rory

Joanna

Joanna blogs at This Sydney Life. She has also experienced success with supplementation, as part of a constellation of strategies:

“Careful supplementation has helped me HUGELY (along with a host of other things, like the Autoimmune Protocol. Having a Functional Medicine doctor who is aligned with my health goals has been invaluable. I do understand that our bodies are amazingly adept at self-regulating when we look after them properly. For me, the interesting thing about all of this is the ‘bio-individuality’ for us all.

The starting point for me was recognising alarmingly low levels of Vitamin D when investigating 23 years of a chronic skin condition, Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) and a self diagnosed suspicion that gluten was not my friend.

Further testing indicated compound Heterozygous MTHFR, Pyrrole disorder and severe gut dysbiosis (I had pretty serious periodontal issues, too.)

I’d had chronic acne as a teenager and have since learnt that I was not good at managing stress. I think working out the right MTHFR/Pyrrole combo of supplements has mainly positively affected the quite severe anxiety I never really acknowledged I had until it wasn’t there anymore. I’m just more ‘zen’ about things. Which doesn’t sound like much, but has REALLY affected my quality of life.”

In Summary~

There is no standard approach to effectively the impacts of the MTHFR gene mutation, and automatic prescriptions based on diagnoses of the mutation can be detrimental.

Some people find that supplements, in the right dose and correct combination are effective. Laura Matheos found this sweet spot for her daughter.

Working with a knowledgeable health practitioner is key.

We are complex systems attempting to heal ourselves inside complex systems. As such, some approaches to treatment may be generally applicable (including an anti-inflammatory diet like the Autoimmune Protocol) but an individualized approach to supplementation seems to be required~.

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Hot Woman Shake (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

Hot Woman Shake 4‘Hot’ in this recipe title refers to the shake.

It’s a hot shake~.

But it might also make you a hot woman. Or a warm one. And it might help with hot flashes.

This shake is a variant of the London Fog Latte, which itself was inspired by Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Coffee (coffee’s not allowed on the Autoimmune Protocol, but tea is). Even more credit goes to Dave Asprey for this hot shake, which I now have almost daily with my midday meal:

  • First because Dave recommends that women over 40 (& people with a lot of weight to lose) add grass-fed collagen to their bulletproof coffee to help reset leptin levels. Collagen holds the human body together, which is pretty hard to argue with.
  • Second, now that I’m on the Bulletproof Diet (my third ketogenic protocol in the past 9 months) I’ve reorganized the timing of my food. I used to eat a piece of berry fudge with each of my meals, to keep me in ketosis, but the Bulletproof Diet recommends reserving higher carb foods, like berries, for the evening meal.

So I still have fudge with supper, but I needed a new way to get MCT oils into me at midday, to boost my ketones and to deliver a good quantity of fat for satiation.

Hot Woman Shake ComponentsI also needed a portable format, to bring to work. And it’s January in Canada, so my new fat delivery-system needed to be hot.

So, the Hot Woman Shake was born.

She rocks me~.

Raspberry Leaf

Raspberry Leaf  has been traditionally used by women to support uterine health. It is known to ease painful or heavy periods, and generally nourish the female reproductive system.

I’ve experimented with Raspberry Leaf tea or the past year, using it daily for a month, then taking it out for a month or two & observing the effects. Based on these self-experiments, I’m getting pretty convinced that it’s something I want to include in my health & optimization protocol on a regular basis.

Midday mealMy findings? Raspberry leaf tea alleviates drama from my menstrual cycles: my cycles are more regular, my periods are less heavy and shorter, and I have no cramps when I drink it.

Now that my daily Raspberry Leaf tea gets delivered in a delicious hot-shake format, I’m even more fervent~.

A midday meal for peak experience: reheat a Victorious Offal Muffin, make a Hot Woman Shake, add sliced Avocado & Cucumber with Olives.

Hot Woman Shake (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoHot Woman Shake

  • 2½ cups boiling Water
  • 2 Raspberry Leaf teabags
  • 1 tin additive-free Coconut Milk
  • ¼ teaspoon Vanilla Powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons grass-fed Collagen
  • 1-2 tablespoon MCT Oil

Advance prep: Refrigerate the tin of coconut milk for a few hours or overnight (I just keep a couple of tins in the fridge at all times).

Steep the tea in the boiling water for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, scoop the coconut cream out of the tin of coconut milk. Save the coconut water for another use.

Put the coconut cream and vanilla in a saucepan & heat. Squeeze the tea bags to get the goodness out & add the steeped tea to the saucepan. As soon as this mixture comes to a low boil, pour it into a blender.

Add the Collagen & MCT Oil and whirl until frothy.

Pour into mugs & enjoy~.

Hot Woman Shake 2go 2Portable Variation

I prep this in the morning & bring it to work with me. If  you can find a place to boil water & steep tea when you’re out, your Hot Woman Shake is portable.

Hot Woman Shake 2goBefore you leave the house, put the coconut cream, collagen and vanilla in a saucepan & heat.

Stir frequently to combine & keep the cream from burning. When bubbling hot, pour into a small thermos container.

Pour the MCT oil into a liter/quart-sized mason jar. Add a wisk ball. Put the lid on.

Bring your tea bags, thermos & jar along. When it’s time: brew your tea, pour it into the mason jar, along with the contents of the thermos. Put the lid back on the jar & shake vigorously.

 

Hot Woman Shake 2

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Biohacking tip #1: Gather Data

what gets measuredTo successfully hack your health & well-being you’re going to need data.

The data you gather will depend on what you are trying to heal (or optimize), and what strategy you are using to get there.

Data comes in 2 flavours: quantitative & qualitative.

Quantitative data quantifies; qualitative data describes.

For example:

  • Keeping a journal about your biohacking experience is qualitative.
  • Using technology to measure your brain activity or heart rate is quantitative. As is filling out an assessment form that includes pre-determined response options.

Biohackers like the quantitative, because it generates numbers & numbers are easy to compare over time.

So here’s a quick introduction to some approaches for gathering quantitative data for your biohacking experiments.

More on qualitative data for biohacking soon~.

Quantitative Data

Gary Wolf co-founded a company called The Quantified Self. His 5-minute video exemplifies the quantitative ethic in biohacking:

Dave Asprey, in his recent book The Bulletproof Diet, is devout about technology for biohacking, both for self-optimization and to gather data.

Hacking Sleep

Dave suggests the app Sleep Cycle to track sleep patterns, as well as other tech-hacks for improving sleep quality. (If you decide to try the app, follow his advice & put your phone in airplane mode).

Because substandard sleep aggravates systemic inflammation, and (in my opinion) reducing inflammation is the goal for biohacking health, sleep is a high-leverage area of focus.

Sleep quality is especially critical for people with autoimmune conditions. But given enough inflammation, I believe we’ll all end up in autoimmune response, so sleep is a great prevention for autoimmune as well.

Technology

But despite the typical biohacker’s obsession with gadgets, high-tech methods aren’t required to gather useful quantitative data.

Any standardized measurement system that rates wellness in one or more domains can be compared over time, and therefore used to track progress.

Here are a few low-tech examples:

Spoon theorySpoon theory

Spoon theory is used by people with chronic illnesses, including autoimmune conditions, to describe the amount of energy available on a given day for life tasks. Although spoons are a subjective unit of measurement, and therefore can’t be compared between people, they can be used to quantitatively track fluctuations in one person’s energy over time.

Spoons also enable chronically ill people to quickly assess & quantitatively communicate about their energy levels to others. As a healthy person, I have found spoon theory really useful as a way to understand my husband Matthew’s reality (& why he sometimes can’t cook dinner or unload the dishwasher. Literally.)

Spoons are a small enough unit of measurement that you can also track subtle improvement trends (or declines) that may not show up in other measurement systems.

The Medical Symptoms Questionnaire

Many Functional Medicine practitioners use the Medical Symptoms Questionnaire (MSQ) for assessment purposes.

You can use the MSQ to generate quantitative data, and with repeated use of the questionnaire, you can then chart your progress by comparing your scores in particular domains, as well as your scores for overall well-being.

Find a printable pdf of the MSQ here.

If you get a low score on the MSQ, you know your health is on-track, and you can start biohacking for optimization (because ‘good’ health is just the beginning~).

I like the MSQ because it measures both frequency and severity of symptoms, enabling tracking across a couple of dimensions at the same time. However, it is of little use to people whose health is already fantastic and who are therefore seeking optimization data. In that case, you might need to customize.

Customize

You’ll want to track symptoms or capacities that are of particular interest to you.

For example:

Biohacking for healing:

  • the number & type of of painkillers or other pharmaceuticals you take;
  • the size & range of psoriasis or eczema patches; or
  • where you feel pain & its severity (give it a rating between 1-10);

HumanBiohacking for optimization:

  • the amount of time you spend in a state of flow each day;
  • how long it takes to fall asleep each night; or
  • the number of sprint intervals you do.

Design your own questionnaire to gather this data.

Use a diagram of a human to keep track of the location of particular symptoms. Colour code them for severity (green, yellow & red work well) & use the same colours at each assessment, to enable comparison over time.

Document

Whatever quantitative data you gather: standardize your system for best results.  Create your personalized assessment strategy, then write it up & duplicate it, to ensure consistency.

Gather data at regular intervals.

Whether you are using spoons, a sleep app, the Medical Symptoms Questionnaire or a combination of methods, be sure date (& file) each quantitative assessment for comparison purposes.

It’s also also important to document what interventions (hacks) you are implementing (and any other variables that may be impacting your well-being).

But that’s another blog post~.

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Berry Gummies~ (Werewolf Antidote)

Matthew eats gummies with almost every meal.

To keep his werewolf tendencies at bay.

Loup Garou

I used to call him loup garou. French for werewolf.

But I can’t anymore.

Because one of the symptoms that has responded most dramatically to his 12+ months on the Autoimmune Protocol has been the werewolf tendencies of his finger & toenails.

Nail Psoriasis

Before

Before

One of the creepier aspects of psoriasis is that is can effect the nails, causing severe overgrowth & deformation, crumbling nailbeds & exposed nerve endings.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes overproduction of cells. Skin cells, usually, resulting in patches of overgrowing skin on the body.

In the case of Nail Psoriasis, finger & toe nail cells proliferate, creating nails that thicken or begin to ripple & buckle like tectonic plates.

The places where the overgrowing nails dig into the nail bed can be excruciatingly painful. And because of the disregulated cell production in surrounding skin and nails, nerve endings can get exposed between the nail & skin at the top of the nail, or on the nail bed where overgrowing nails pit or crumble.

After  months on the AIP

After

Of all the painful symptoms I have watched Matthew endure over the years, crumbling nailbeds get the top prize. It’s the kind of pain that makes a person curl up in a corner like a hurt animal & want to die.

So it’s not insignificant that his fingernails now look almost like a normal persons and hardly give him any trouble at all. His toenails still have a slight loup garou tendency, but they’ve improved substantially, too.

We credit the gummies. The AIP & the gummies.

This is the everyday gummy recipe we use at our house. Three ingredients. Two, if you only use one kind of berry.

This recipe works best with frozen raspberries, because when they defrost they joyfully give up their juice, which is then used to bloom the gelatin.

To celebrate the power of gelatin, you’ll also find a few links to other AIP-friendly gelatin recipes below~.

Gelatin

 

Basic Berry Gummies (AIP & low-FODMAP)

 from petra8paleoGummies 2

  • 2 (rounded) cups frozen raspberries
  •  2 (rounded) cups frozen strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin

Measure the berries frozen, as the raspberries, particularly, deflate when they defrost.

Defrost the berries on the counter or in the fridge. When fully defrosted, put them in a colander or a seive over a mixing bowl & squish the juice out with a wooden spoon.

Now you have a bowl of Berry juice & some squished Berries. Put the Berries in a saucepan on low heat and stir.

Meanwhile, add the Gelatin to the cool or room temperature Berry juice and stir well.

When the Berries are hot & bubbling, put them in a food processor & whirl until smooth. Pour the hot whirled Berry mixture over the prepared Gelatin and stir until thoroughly combined.

Spoon into 2 silicon candy molds or pour into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

If using molds, place them in the freezer for 2 hours until hard (it helps to slide them onto the back of a cookie sheet first to ensure they stay flat). Pop each gummy out of it’s mold.

If using a baking sheet lined with parchment, place it in the fridge all day or overnight, then peel the parchment paper off & cut into bite-sized pieces.

Store in a glass container in the refrigerator.

More ways to eat gelatin~!

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The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain

cannabis_sativa_koehler_drawingI was raised by hippies.

So I have lots of anecdotal evidence on the effects of chronic marijuana smoking. I came to the conclusion (at a young age) that marijuana is often part of the problem, rather than a cure-all solution.

But there is mounting evidence that Cannabinoids deserve our serious attention, including a survey of research presented in the paper The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain by Perry G. Fine and Mark J. Rosenfeld, who both sit on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Pain.

I am interested in pain because my husband, Matthew, has spent years trying to manage severe chronic pain associated with Psoriatic Arthritis.

Chronic pain has been like an abusive 3rd spouse in our marriage & a destructive presence in our family life.

Image from The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain

Chart 1 from The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain

We can vouch for the effects depicted in the two charts from Fine & Rosenfeld’s paper that I’ve included in this summary. They illustrate that chronic pain effectively wrecks lives.

Matthew’s pain is substantially reduced after 12+ months on the Autoimmune Protocol, without the use of Cannabinoidsbut pain-management is still part of his daily reality.

Cannabinoids, in the form of ‘CBD’, has been prescribed by his Functional Medicine Doctor for pain, and also as an experimental treatment for his extreme, mysterious nausea.

Matthew hasn’t tried CBD yet. He is currently trying Folinic Acid for nausea, to see if it can assist in repair of his gastrointestinal mucosa cells, after long-term use of Methotrexate that was prescribed for Psoriatic Arthritis.

We’ve learned that he needs to try one thing at a time, and often requires recovery time in between, if a particular experiment doesn’t go well.

CBD is his next experiment, after Folinic Acid, and this paper is part of my research on the subject. I thought it was worth sharing.

We keep trying things. Sometimes we find something that works. If it’s not Folinic Acid or CBD, we’ll try something else.

The following are excerpts from Fine and Rosenfeld’s paper The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain.

The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids & Pain

Starting at the beginning:

What Is Pain?

“Pain is an unpleasant, commonly occurring, and universal human experience; it is also a very complex phenomenon. The experience of pain and the resultant emotional state depends as much or perhaps more on the contextual circumstances (how, when, where, and why) of the pain-inciting event as the intensity of the noxious stimulus. And a seemingly similar pain-producing event may be experienced (and communicated) quite differently from person to person, situation to situation, and among various cultures” (p. 2).

Image from The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain

Chart 2 from The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain

“Fortunately, most occurrences of pain are self-limited, resolving quickly with discontinuation of the noxious stimulus or in tandem with tissue healing or resolution of the insult to somatic or visceral structures. But pain that continues relentlessly… serves little purpose. In contrast to acute pain, unresolved pain leads to subliminal and conscious reflex responses that are often maladaptive. It imparts a tremendous burden on the pain sufferer’s health, social interactions, occupational performance, emotional state, and finances. In turn, chronic pain incurs a significant direct and indirect financial toll on society” (p. 2).

“The prevalence of persistent, debilitating pain is increasing” in the population (p. 2).

“Currently available analgesic medications and pain-modulating procedures are severely limited by combinations of low efficacy, excessive toxicity/risk/safety concerns, insufficient access to care, or unbearable cost” (p. 3).

How effective are currently-available pharmaceutical pain-management strategies? “In randomized clinical trials of analgesics for neuropathic pain, no more than half of patients experience clinically meaningful pain relief from pharmacotherapy” (p. 3).

Cannabinoids

“Cannabinoid refers to a pharmacological class of about 60 naturally occurring compounds (phytocannabinoids) found in plants of the genus Cannabis (i.e. marijuana and hemp)” (p. 4).

“Evidence continues to accumulate suggesting that cannabinoids can impact normal inhibitory pathways and pathophysiological processes influencing nociception in humans… Clinical trials lasting from days to months, involving more than 1,000 patients, have shown efficacy in different categories of chronic pain conditions” (p. 7).

“The phytocannabinoids have efficacy in the treatment of various chronic pain conditions with greatest promise as a therapeutic adjunct in treating peripheral and central neuropathic pain and inflammation-mediated chronic pain” (p. 11).

The Endocannabinoid System & Inflammation

“It appears that the endocannabinoid system [in the body] is intimately involved in tissue healing in the face of inflammatory conditions, correlating clinically with prevention and treatment of inflammation-mediated pain” (p. 6).

The cannabinoid system is described as “an ancient lipid signaling network which in mammals modulates neuronal functions, inflammatory processes, and is involved in the etiology of certain human lifestyle diseases… The system is able to downregulate stress-related signals that lead to chronic inflammation and certain types of pain, but it is also involved in causing inflammation-associated symptoms” (p. 5).

In short, “the endocannabinoid system is involved in a host of homeostatic and physiologic functions, including modulation of pain and inflammation” (p. 1).

CBD vs THC

Marijuana is smoked. It’s the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that gets you stoned. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychotropic (doesn’t get you stoned) component of Cannibis: “Cannabidiol is a major constituent of Cannabis. It has virtually no psychoactivity compared against THC” (p. 9).

Negative attitudes toward marijuana are impacting the adoption of Cannabinoids: “The health hazards of smoking coupled with the cognitive-behavioral effects of Cannabis have created political and regulatory obstacles worldwide, with regard to evaluating cannabinoids as medicines and mainstream health care professionals’ acceptance of Cannabis as a legitimate therapeutic agent” (p. 5). I understand these negative attitudes, as I’ve harboured some of them myself!

Find the full paper here.

Find CBD here (this is the company recommended by our Functional Medicine Doctor).

As mentioned, Matthew hasn’t tried CBD yet.

As always, consult with your Health Practitioner before engaging in any new  therapy~.

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Mexi~Cali Kitchen Soup

Cilantro & bone broth 2My #1 kid is well-acquainted with the inner workings of the kitchens of the restaurants in San Francisco.

She learned about this soup from her Mexican co-workers. Many of whom work 80 hours a week.

She’s observed that those that try to fuel themselves on freely-available drinks from the bar can’t keep up the pace for long, but here’s the secret of the ones that can.

They use a higher octane fuel: bone broth.

Though legally entitled to breaks, the concept of legal entitlement isn’t overly relevant in the absence of all other legal status. Besides, it’s too busy for anyone to stop work, even to eat.

Which is how Mexi~Cali Kitchen soup was born (or, more likely, imported): Dip bone broth out of the bubbling pot into a bowl, add minced cilantro, a diced avocado, salt & a dash of lime juice. Some shreds of leftover meat.

Refill the bone broth pot with water, to cover your tracks.

Eat. Work 8 hours.  Repeat.

Or do whatever it is you do that requires jet fuel!

MexiCali Soup 2

MexiCali Kitchen Soup (AIP & WahlsPaleo+)

 from petra8paleoMexiCali Soup

  • 2 cups Bone Broth
  • ¼ cup minced Cilantro
  • 1 small Avocado, diced
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan Salt (or similar)
  • ¼ cup leftover meat
  • A dash of lime juice (optional)

Put the minced Cilantro in a bowl.

For authentic MexiCali~Kitchen style, scoop the bone broth straight out of the pot into a bowl. Otherwise, heat it to the boiling point & pour it in.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir. 

 

 

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petra8paleo (Circa 2014)

Dark Pond (Circa 1915) by Paul Nash

One thing I love about blogs is their impermanence. Once written, the content subsides.

Into the dark depths of the blog pond.

Unless it gets pulled to the surface via a link, like a hook.

I love impermanence.

I love acknowledging that all of this ~everything~ is destined to subside. That our attachments are ephemeral.

I originally attracted Matthew with a brief essay on impermanence, which I posted on an online dating site instead of a list of my personal characteristics. Apparently, impermanence itself can be a kind of hook. At least when fishing for particular things.

1916 Natural History Encyclopedia

Catfish (Circa 1916) Natural History Encyclopedia

Despite my love for ephemerality & letting blog posts drop to the depths to lurk like catfish, here’s a splash to the surface for some 2014 posts that might be worth pulling up into the light of day.

2014~

2014 was all about the Autoimmune Protocol for us, particularly low-FODMAP and ketogenic versions.

Lots of people are looking for practical information on healing protocols. As an indication, some of my top-clicked posts this year were the AIP low-FODMAP food listWhat Can You Eat on the Wahls Paleo Plus?, An Adapted (semi-ketogenic) Version of the Wahls Paleo Plus & 10 reasons to consider a Ketogenic Autoimmune Protocol.

Also popular: Biohacking ~Genomic Analysis & Have you heard the one about the rheumatologist, the ear-nose & throat specialist & the functional medicine doctor?

My top 5 recipes this year included Green Flatbread, Victorious Offal MuffinsGyros: Greek Meatballs & Tzatziki, Macronutrient Cupcakes, & London Fog Latte.

Another well-clicked recipe is Emerald City Soup, which one of the few recipes I brought with me from the dark-ages of my raw-vegan days. It’s not a 2014 contender, as it was posted on December 25th of 2013.

I also like these posts…

Here’s to your health in 2015!

 

 

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