A NEW LOOK AT CANCER PREVENTION:
PROMOTING NATURE’S RHYTHMS IN YOUR BODY
Article #1 in a 3-part series
Read Article #2 A Critical Factor: Managing Stress!
A recent article by the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida states that Cancer has surpassed heart disease as the leading killer in America. This is quite plausible when you see the CDC’s numbers for 2016: Cardiovascular disease took 635,260 lives and cancer accounted for 598,038 lives. Among the myriad of theories and methods for using natural and holistic medicine to prevent cancer and other diseases is a new, in-depth focus on cancer prevention mechanisms. These are Nature’s Rhythms and are evolutionarily built into our bodies.
Honoring and supporting Nature’s Rhythms is our focus for today’s article, which is the first in a series of three. The second article addresses the impact of Stress and provides a deeper understanding of how Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is applied and works to boost immunity and is an active stress and emotional balancer. Lastly, we’ll delve into a food-based article on Eating from the Four Kingdoms for their immune boosting actions.
We start today’s article with something we all do, most of us at night. We hope you will put high value and more attention on the quality of your sleep in order to experience a longer and healthier life. It’s one of Nature’s Rhythms, and its effects are potent, either healing or destructive, depending on how well you do it!
#1: The Sleep Cycle:
Daily Waste/Toxic Cleanup & Immune Boosting
A fascinating recent research review explores the topic of the effect of sleep on our Immunity, It’s entitled, “Why Sleep is Important for Health: A Psychoneuroimmunology Perspective:
Sleep has a critical role in promoting health. Research over the past decade has documented that sleep disturbance has a powerful influence on the risk of infectious disease, the occurrence and progression of several major medical illnesses including cardiovascular disease and cancer, and the incidence of depression. Increasingly, the field has focused on identifying the biological mechanisms underlying these effects. This review highlights the impact of sleep on adaptive and innate immunity, with consideration of the dynamics of sleep disturbance, sleep restriction, and insomnia on (a) antiviral immune responses with consequences for vaccine responses and infectious disease risk and (b) proinflammatory immune responses with implications for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and depression. This review also discusses the neuroendocrine and autonomic neural underpinnings linking sleep disturbance and immunity and the reciprocal links between sleep and inflammatory biology. Finally, interventions are discussed as effective strategies to improve sleep, and potential opportunities are identified to promote sleep health for therapeutic control of chronic infectious, inflammatory, and neuropsychiatric diseases.
NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP?
As a population, many of us are not getting enough of the deeper state of sleep called REM where detoxing and cellular cleanup occur, along with much-needed memory filing occurs. It’s during this time that the brain is flushed with fluids to move out the waste products and damaged cells. This is when it also converts short-term memories into long-term ones.
WHY ARE WE NOT SLEEPING ENOUGH?
- Depleted amounts of sleeping hormones. It’s a fact; we create less serotonin and melatonin as we age. Serotonin is a “feel good” hormone, and it is a precursor to your pineal gland’s creation of melatonin, which is the hormone which actually moves us into sleep. But the rest of the reasons I’ll list below, are NOT age related, and so they affect anyone at any age. For those who are depleted, there are plenty of natural solutions which typically have positive side effects as compared to multiple negative side effects of sleeping pill prescriptions. Keep reading for some answers.
- Eating too late at night. In simple terms, when your body is actively engaged in the process of enzymatically breaking down and converting the foods you eat into useable fuel for your cells, clean up, memory filing, cellular cleanup and detox activities are not adequately activated when we go to sleep. In natural medicine, it is commonly advised to eat a minimum of 2-3 hours before you go to bed, allowing more time (3 hours) for heavier meals. And, of course, the same rules your parents probably told you apply: Go to sleep when it’s dark and rise when it’s light again. These are natural circadian rhythms. Not following them means you pay a price. Bedtime is best at 10pm in order to capture the critical 10 pm – 2pm wave in your sleep Rhythm where much of the work of keeping you healthy occurs.
- Blue Light – watching those infernal electronic screens which abound in our modern world is costly to our health on many levels! They entice us to forget the time. And to protect our eyes, our body uses up our melatonin. Then, even though we are tired, when we wish to sleep, we may lie there wide awake. Get off the machine 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. Have a relaxing read of an old-fashioned book, write something you are grateful for in your journal, take a relaxing bath, meditate on your day, and talk to your mate or your fur family. All these things prepare us for the state of rest and recovery.
- Drugs: Anything you put into your body has effects, for good or bad, and many drugs alter Nature’s rhythms in our body. As one example, a common side effect of anti-depressant drugs is Sleep Disturbance. Patients on these drugs are taking longer to get to sleep and waking up frequently during the night. These SSRI drugs short circuit our physiological design.
When we are at rest—in a deep sleep–most of our bodily processes slow down and most of our organs are at rest. We are not processing food, shopping for groceries or running from a tiger. But when we don’t get into–and stay in–REM sleep long enough, our Detoxing processes and memory filing jobs are not able to operate sufficiently. When this occurs repeatedly, more and more “backup” of the toxicity and the inflammation it creates in our brain and body affects our immune system, our brain and other organs. And the rest of our body suffers.
Here are a few suggestions to help you create better sleep:
- Acupuncture (link pages) and Massage have been used for thousands of years to balance and calm the body and the mind. I see people come out of the room from their acupuncture session, and they look like they have just had a 90-minute massage. Both are calming, balancing techniques, each with their own special features. Never underestimate Reiki and other energy healing practices either! Here are a couple of studies on acupuncture and sleep:
For Post-Menopausal Women: In a PubMed article posted in 2012, it was reported that acupuncture improves sleep in post-menopausal women. It was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
For Insomnia: Used by people of all ages, acupuncture has certainly been effective for me! A Meta-analysis in PubMed showed positive effects, although more and larger human studies were recommended.
- Melatonin: This is the hormone used by your pineal gland to put you to sleep. It can be dicey to find an effective supplement that both works and doesn’t “overdo it”, leaving you feeling…how to I state this…”wonky”! We carry a liquid supplement which works and is easy to dose. Two foods contain melatonin also: walnuts & tart cherries… especially Montmorency Cherries.
- CBD Oil: This non-psychotropic compound found in the Cannabis plant acts as a relaxant. Stayed up too late watching TV or working on your computer? You may need either melatonin, CBD oil…or both!
- Herbs: Many other herbs are helpful, including California poppy (in tiny quantities–it’s a natural opiate), skullcap which quiets the “monkey mind”, passion flower which grows in Florida and promotes a good 8-hours of sleep, and nutmeg which can also give 8 hours of consistent sleep (careful, not too much or it can be psychoactive). These are but a few examples of what is available in Nature to help us create a good night’s rest.
#2 Intermittent Fasting = Deep Cellular Detoxing & Rejuvenation
THE NEW SCIENCE OF FASTING AS NATURAL MEDICINE
In 2016, a Nobel Prize went to Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi for his work in exposing the critically-important process called “Atophagy” (see “Feasting or Fasting“) which involves disassembling and recycling aged and mutated cells. Want to prevent cancer? Fasting, one of Nature’s Rhythms, is an evolutionary mechanism you’ll want to study and practice. It kicks off this deep, cellular cleanup process called Atophagy. It gets rid of cancer cells and other damaged cells.
FASTING is, indeed, Medicine for the human biology. It turns out that the bounty—and more importantly, the consistency of food most of us consume–bypasses powerful strategies evolved over thousands of years. Our ancestors did not eat three square meals a day. The commercialization of food makes food far too available, even if it’s “healthy” food. Let’s explore the strategy of cellular cleanup and immune support to gain a better understanding.
We evolved to endure times of little or no food, and our bodies adapted a routine of heavy-duty cellular cleanup and stem-cell regenerating activities during those “fasting” times. In our modern world of plenty, we are sabotaging this. We are missing the cellular cleanup, detoxing, and stem cell regenerating activities!
Enter the world of science and the study of longevity, where we find recent and impactful understandings and solutions to staying healthy and living longer. Please meet a scientist and researcher (bio gerontologist and cell biologist) named Valter Longo, PhD. He is described as follows:
“….known for his studies on the role of starvation and nutrient response genes on cellular protection, aging and diseases, and for proposing that longevity is regulated by similar genes and mechanisms” – Wikipedia
The Longevity Diet, published in English in 2018 details Dr. Longo’s work. It covers his 25 years of research into the topics of longevity and cancer. You see, early in his career, he worked in a children’s cancer center, and he was drawn to include cancer research as part of his life-long work. This book is a MUST read for anyone who wants to understand cellular protection, for both cancer prevention and treatment. He has discovered and proven the efficacy of an approach he calls the “Fasting Mimicking Diet”, which promotes an approach (with specific foods) of periodic “fasting: which consists of consuming 800 calories for 5 days (from a Mediterranean diet). If you are healthy, you could do this a couple of times a year. If you are ill, you do it more frequently, e.g. once monthly, until you get better.
Exercise, Breathing & Meditation
And let me make a brief mention here of the importance of exercise! This, again, is a body rhythm which is designed to help us detox and rejuvenate. We all need it in some consistent form several times a week. Breathing exercises are also quite helpful in detox and rejuvenation. These are found in yoga and also in meditation classes and educational/practice groups. Did you know Caloosahatchee Mindfulness Center is right across the street from Lotus Blossom Clinic? They ask only for a donation when you attend one of their events.
#4 Seasonal Cycling of Foods
Chinese Medicine has a whole area of study about the Seasonality of Foods. A basic premise is to eat more raw foods & fresh fruit in the summertime, and switch to foods such as soups, stews, and squash in the wintertime.
Fermented Foods and drinks are an always! Discovered centuries ago and most used in Asia, Kombucha is one of our favorite drinks. It is a fermented tea that contains a thriving colony of billions of microorganisms, including many scientifically proven as beneficial. Certain bacteria have been shown to be cancer killers! Since we all have cancerous cells that need to be disarmed every day by our immune systems, this is another preventive measure we can use. These are available at Costco and even standard grocery stores these days. Want the culture that makes it yourself? Buy it online (we recommend Cultured Food Life) or stop by our clinic. We brew it for our own consumption and are constantly growing a new SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). We give them away to people in our community who want to start brewing their own.
#5 Love, Joy & Purpose as an Emotional Compass
Lastly, let’s talk about emotional health. I say this before every Food as Medicine class we teach (monthly—check our calendar for the next one).
“When you have Love, Joy, and Purpose in your life, adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as eating the best foods for your body, will fall into place fairly easily. If you do NOT have Love, Joy and Purpose, but instead you find yourself worried, stressed, unforgiving, etc., you may eat the perfect diet, and still you will experience illness.”
– Deb Martín
Why? Our brains are chemical factories, constantly creating hormones to match our emotions. When we have happy, content emotions the majority of the time, we create serotonin and other happy endorphins which bathe our cells and create happy cells. When our emotions are unhappy, they are toxic. Stress-related, chemical compounds such as cortisol are created, and they bathe our cells in damaging ways. Cortisol is indeed a good thing, in moderation. It moves us from sleep to the waking state each morning. But when it’s there too frequently—for some constantly—this becomes a problem and creates illnesses such as cancer, depression, and many more adverse conditions.
What Did You Learn?
We encourage you to select 2-3 items from this article to examine and improve in your own life. What will YOU put into practice? How can we help? Give us a call at (239) 277-1399 to schedule your consultation with one of our health care practitioners. Dr. David Martin, our Acupuncture Physician & Doctor of Oriental Medicine, gives free half-hour consultations to first time patients. Our Medicinal Food Consultants are also trained in food supplements and are available to work with you to help you set in motion a plan for Better Sleep!
Other articles in this Series:
Honoring Nature’s Rhythms,
Deb Martin & Dr. David Martin
And all the Providers at Lotus Blossom Clinic
Serving the Greater Fort Myers area with Natural and Holistic Medicine: Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Massage, Science-backed Food as Medicine, Energy Medicine.
“Why Sleep is Important for Health: A Psychoneuroimmunology Perspective”; Annual Review of Psychology, Volume 66, 2015; Irwin, pp 143-172 https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115205
“Feasting or Fasting?”; www.LotusBlossomClinic.com ; January, 2018, Deb Martín http://www.lotusblossomclinic.com/feasting-or-fasting-natural-medicine/
“CBD for You and Me”; www.LotusBlossomClinic.com ; May, 2018, Deb Martín http://www.lotusblossomclinic.com/cbd-for-you-and-me/
“Sleep: Why You Need it, and How to Get it!” http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/sleep-why-you-need-it-and-how-get-it-2; Kelly Brogan, M.D.; August, 2014.