Classical & Modern Medicine
Daniel Newman, M.D., N.D.
Vol. 2, Issue 4 ● April 2004
A basic precept of both Naturopathy and Chinese Medicine is that digestive
health is crucial to overall vitality and longevity. Modern science bears this
out: a balanced immune system is essential to good health, and over half of
the body’s immune system is located in the gut! And, every cell in our body
is built from substances provided by our G.I. tract.
♫ Announcements ♫
• The doctor is in:
April 3, 9, 10, 13, 17, 20, 23, and
A properly functioning gut has the following characteristics:
• The mouth and teeth sufficiently mechanically break down food to
allow for proper chemical digestion.
Whole Life Lecture Series
• The stomach produces adequate hydrochloric acid to begin protein
(Held for FREE at An Hao Clinic:
digestion and kill potentially pathogenic microorganisms.
Family and friends welcome!)
• The liver and gall bladder produce and deliver adequate bile flow to
allow for the emulsification and digestion of fat soluble nutrients.
• April 13, Tues., 7-8 PM:
• The pancreas produces sufficient enzymes for the digestion of fats,
proteins, and complex carbohydrates.
“Trusting Your Gut: Keys to
• The small intestinal lining is healthy and can assimilate the majority
of absorbable nutrients.
• The colon has a good balance of commensal (friendly) bacteria, and can briskly eliminate waste.
You can eat the most pristine balanced diet on the planet, but if your gastrointestinal tract cannot adequately
perform these functions, your nutritional and immunologic health will be sub-optimal. Let us therefore look
more closely at each of the areas of the G.I. tract, and how to assess and maximize their function.
The mouth is a much overlooked part of the gut. Inflammation has been identified as a major contributing
factor to cardiovascular disease as well as autoimmune diseases of all kinds; and nowhere is inflammation
more prevalent than the mouth. Good oral hygiene and regular dental care can identify and treat periodontal
disease, as well as deeper (and often asymptomatic) infection in the teeth and jaw bones. Clean your teeth
with an ultrasonic toothbrush (Ultrasonex from Salton), floss daily, and get regular dental check-ups from
a mercury – free dentist (I have a list of recommended ones).
It is also important to use your teeth for their primary function (besides smiling), and that is chewing.
Mastication not only mechanically breaks down food for more efficient enzymatic digestion, but stimulates the
parasympathetic nervous system. This begins a hormonal cascade that gears up your gut for the digestive
process, allowing for more efficient digestion. Saliva is an important part of this first step: it contains enzymes
that begin to break down carbohydrates, and lubricates the esophagus. You normally produce at least a liter
(quart) of saliva daily! If possible, avoid antihistamines and other anti-cholinergic (give you dry mouth) drugs
that decrease saliva production.
A healthy stomach produces adequate stomach acid, which is a critical part of the digestive process: it kills
pathogenic organisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites), allows for optimal activity of its protein
digesting enzyme (pepsin), and facilitates the absorption of minerals including calcium, magnesium,
chromium, selenium, iron, and zinc. Gastric acid production often declines significantly by age 50.
The heartburn that people experience with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is not due to
excess stomach acid, but to dysfunction of the muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus,
the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The treatment of GERD is beyond the scope of this issue, but it
is worth noting that adequate stomach acid facilitates proper LES function. Thus, the “little purple pill”
©2004 Daniel Newman, M.D., N.D. 1
creates a little purple paradox: decreased stomach acid perpetuates LES dysfunction which
perpetuates GERD! For most people, stimulating stomach acid, not suppressing it, will enhance
digestive health. This can be affected by taking 1-3 tsp apple cider vinegar or 1 tsp of lemon juice in
some water ½ hour before meals; or, in some cases, by the addition of the supplement betaine HCl
(trimethylglycine; see your physician for dosing protocol).
Only a minority of people with gastritis or gastric ulcers produce too much stomach acid. Most have an
inadequate protective mucus layer which allows the acid to attack the stomach lining. This may be due to a
bacterial imbalance (such as overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori, which is harder to eradicate in a low acid
environment!), an improper diet (including a lack of essential fatty acids or anti-oxidants), or consumption of
drugs that break down the mucus layer, such as tobacco, corticosteroids, alcohol, or NSAIDs. A licorice
extract called DGL (deglycyrhizzinated licorice) 250-750mg before meals, aloe vera juice 1tbs before
meals, or the amino acid glutamine 3-10gms 3 times daily can help provide symptomatic relief.
After leaving the stomach, food is acted upon by bile from the liver, and enzymes from the pancreas. If you
have had a cholecystectomy, you may not release bile adequately at meal times to assimilate fat soluble
nutrients. You can either stimulate bile flow by taking bitter herbal formulas before meals (such as Swedish
bitters), or by taking bile salts (it used to be ‘ox bile’, but cow bile is now used) 250mg with each meal.
Pancreatic enzyme function is best assessed by stool testing. Taking bitter herbs, as well as a pancreatic
enzyme supplement (such as Similase), 2 tablets with meals, can augment pancreatic function. Fresh
pineapple and papaya contain natural enzymes that can aid protein digestion as well.
To maximize small intestinal function (the jejunum and ileum), polish your upper tract digestion so that food is
properly broken down for assimilation. Here it is most important that we avoid allergenic foods which may
result in atrophy and inflammation; or, in the worst cases, severe illnesses like celiac disease or Crohn’s
disease. Food sensitivity testing, as well as avoidance/re-introduction diets can be very helpful diagnostically.
Last but not least is the colon. Most colon contents is waste. The colon must reabsorb water, assimilate
some residual nutrients, and take out the trash. The first step in colon health is to make sure that the stool
passing through the colon has enough bulk to allow the muscles of the colon to push it through properly. This
requires adequate water and fiber. Most adults should drink at least 2-3 liters of water daily. There are 2
types of fiber, both useful in promoting bowel transit: soluble (found in oats and fruits such as apples, pears,
grapes, and prunes) and insoluble (found in whole grains and some vegetables). Eat plenty of fresh fruits
If stool does not traverse the colon quickly, then toxic waste products (from the ingested food, eliminated from
the liver via the bile, or gut microorganism waste) will be reabsorbed, resulting in self-poisoning, or ‘autointoxication’
(called ‘bowel toxemia’ by olde time naturopaths). Constipation can therefore be a contributing
factor in a great deal of chronic disease. If you cannot relieve this by diet, then take 1-2 tbs ground flax
seed or psyllium husks in 8oz. of water. If that fails, a full bowel rehabilitation program may be necessary,
including: herbs, acupuncture, homeopathics, castor oil packs, abdominal massage, and/or colonic irrigation.
The colon is highly populated with bacteria that assist in the breakdown of waste (sort of like composting), and
also produce substances called short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s), which are the major nourishment source for
the cells that line the colon (enterocytes). An imbalance of gut flora (termed dysbiosis), may underlay a wide
spectrum of diseases, including allergies and autoimmune diseases. Dysbiosis may involve yeast (e.g.
Candida) overgrowth, pathogenic bacterial overgrowth (e.g. Klebsiella or Yersinia), parasitic infestation (e.g.
Entamoeba or Giardia), a lack of protective (probiotic) bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidus, or a
combination of these. Stool and possibly blood testing looking for the critters, their waste products, or
immune complexes is usually necessary for accurate diagnosis, and treatment must be individualized.
Dysbiosis can result in damage to the enterocytes, leading to ‘leaky-gut syndrome’: a disease process in
which incompletely digested protein and bacteria abnormally pass through the gut lining, leading to an
abnormal immune response. Taking Probiotics may not be sufficient by itself to correct this problem, but can
be helpful. If you are going to take them, make sure the product is refrigerated to insure maximum potency.
Jarrodophilus (available at the office), or Genestra HMF are good brands.
©2004 Daniel Newman, M.D., N.D. 2
The Bitter with the Sweet – Part 2: Natural Sweeteners
As I said last month, artificial sweeteners are toxins and should be avoided. If you are going to
sweeten food, you should use natural sugars. Since all sugars can contribute to a plague of
diseases if used in excess (weight gain, type 2 diabetes, reactive hypoglycemia, dental caries,
hypertension, yeast overgrowth, and cancer, to name a few), they should be used sparingly. I am
not just talking about table sugar (sucrose) here. Fructose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup,
maltodextrin, corn sweetener, and grape juice concentrate are all highly refined sugar products,
(many made from GMO crops), and are no better than ‘sugar.’
If you are going to use a sweetener, use one with redeeming value. Here are some choices:
• Honey has the highest medicinal value of any sweetener. It has been used topically to
treat burns and skin infections, and internally to treat arthritis and a wide variety of
respiratory tract problems. Since its medicinal value depends upon enzyme activity
which is destroyed by heating, only raw honey should be used (Except for infants under
one year of age, where it has, albeit rarely, been associated with infant botulism).
• Molasses is the ‘waste product’ of sugar refining when the sucrose is extracted from
sugar cane. It is very high in vitamins and minerals, especially iron. Its use is limited by
its strong taste, but it is good for cooking in beans, stews, soups, and ginger bread.
• Evaporated cane juice is made from sugar cane by squeezing out the juice and
evaporating the water. It retains much of vitamin and mineral content of the plant, and is
available as an organic product. Don’t confuse this with brown sugar, which is refined
sugar to which a small amount of molasses or caramel coloring has been added. It is
little better than white sugar!
• Maple syrup is also relatively high in minerals, and tends to stimulate less intestinal
yeast growth than the sugar products above. The lower grade (such as Grade B)
organic syrups are the most nutrient dense and therefore preferred.
• Xylitol is a refined sugar, but it has some unique advantages. It kills yeast and the
bacteria that that cause dental caries (Strep. mutans), and can even be used to treat
sinus infections (as an intra-nasal spray called Xlear). The best quality is made from
Finnish birch trees. It is available at New Season’s as The Ultimate Sweeter. (You have
to ask for it, they keep it behind the counter!?) An inferior product made from GMO corn
now dominates the market, avoid it!
• Stevia is made from the powdered leaves of Stevia rebaudinaceae. The dried leaves are
8 times sweeter than sugar, and the sweetness comes from non-carbohydrate stevosides
that do not cause the blood sugar issues of other sweeteners. It is high in vitamins and
minerals, and retains its sweetness when cooked. It would be the perfect sweetener,
except for the fact that it does have an after taste that some people find unappealing.
The Feng Shui Corner by Judy Rose Litchfield, Advanced Accredited Feng Shui Practitioner
Feng Shui (pronounced Fung Shway) literally means ‘wind and water’ in Chinese. It is the
practice of influencing energetic flow to bring balance and harmony to our environment.
The kitchen is the most important room in the house, and the stove is the heart of the kitchen.
The cooking of food symbolizes good fortune (money), so the more burners the better. Each
burner should be used at least once weekly, and be kept scrupulously clean. Stove placement
should optimally be away from the sink and refrigerator, so that the elements of fire and water do
not clash. If that is not possible, putting a picture of nature (wood) or placing wooden objects
between the two will suffice. It is also important that the cook feel calm and serene, to avoid
transmitting tension to the food. Thus, she must be able to see intruders entering the kitchen, so
she will not be startled. If the stove position has the cook’s back towards the entrance, well
placed mirrors reflecting the kitchen door can mitigate this. (For questions about Feng Shui,
Judy may be contacted at 503-492-1131).
©2004 Daniel Newman, M.D., N.D. 3
• A study published in last month’s British Medical Journal of 401 headache sufferers found
that a series of up to 12 acupuncture treatments was twice as effective in decreasing
chronic headache severity (34% vs. 16% reduction) as conventional medical treatment.
• A recent issue of Stroke (03;34:1246) reported that up to an 80% reduction in stroke
damage could be achieved by administering caffeine (the equivalent of 2-3 strong cups
of coffee) along with alcohol (equivalent to 2oz. of whiskey), if administered together
within 2 hours of the onset of the stroke. Neither worked individually, nor did they work
as well if given for the 2 weeks prior to the stroke. (If you or a loved one suffers a stroke,
are alert and able to swallow, drinking an Irish coffee within 2 hrs. of symptoms is worth a
shot! Note that chronic excessive alcohol and caffeine use negate the potential efficacy
of this treatment).
• Last month’s New York Times reported on a Union of Concerned Scientists’ finding that
2/3 of 36 batches of non-GMO corn, canola, and soybean seeds had traces of
genetically engineered DNA. (As predicted, GMO strains are insidiously tainting our
food supply. The frightening consequences of this, if left unchecked, are not just health
related: prior court decisions have upheld that if GMO genetic material can be found in
seeds, farmers cannot plant them without paying royalties to the company that owns the
patent on that GMO strain; hence, paving the way to corporate ownership of the entire
world’s food supply!!! More information can be obtained from the Union of Concerned
Scientists at 617-547-5552).
• A Canadian study of 9 samples of blue-green algae found that all contained unsafe
levels of a liver toxin called microcystin-LR. (Green foods are great; but use safe
alternatives like spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, or wheat grass).
©2004 Daniel Newman, M.D., N.D. 4