Updated: September 2022
I don’t make it a common practice to write about particular patients and their results under my care. However, a patient named Janice T. has a story that must be told. Janice gave me permission to write about her so that others like her could possibly get help the same way that she did.
I’m also going to do things a little differently when it comes to telling Janice’s story. I’m going to tell you the ending first. Then I’ll explain how we got there.
Janice came to me approximately 4 years ago. She had a lot of pain, but one of her main concerns was that she had severe head and hand tremors.
I remember how she shook uncontrollably. It was non-stop and she was absolutely miserable. She didn’t know if she had a condition called Parkinson’s disease or not. Her symptoms had been going on for a long time and she was miserable.
Janice and I did a lot of hard work together to work to help her become healthier. She came to my office yesterday for a follow up visit and gave me a really sweet hug.
She then told me how before she came to me (4 years ago) that she thought she was going to die. She explained how she had made funeral arrangements. She also shared that she arranged for the care of her daughter and “put my affairs in order”.
I’ve known Janice for 4 years. She has sent me other patients and we have told each other many times how much we appreciate each other.
Even though I knew that Janice has done great over the last 4 years, I didn’t know truly how much her condition had affected her until she told me that she had made arrangements for her death and burial.
Janice was (and still is) a model patient. She did everything I recommended and she got the life changing results that she was hoping for. You see, good things come to those who work hard, and Janice paid her dues and did the work.
She took ownership of her health and through my guidance, improved her immune system function, nervous system function, and endocrine system function and in doing so, was able to reclaim her life.
Janice followed the anti-inflammatory diet that I laid out for her, did food sensitivity testing, healed her leaky gut, and followed other nutritional recommendations. She lost over 30 pounds and has kept the weight off for 4 years.
Janice’s resting tremors have decreased tremendously and are either completely absent or very mild (if she is undergoing a lot of stress). I have also worked with her providing natural methods of coping with stress. Life is good for Janice.
After she hugged me, she looked me in the eyes and said, “Four years ago, I thought I was going to die, but I found my Dr.”
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder where a part of the brain degenerates over time. Tremors, slow speech and movement, and an altered or “festinating” (horse-like) gate are common symptoms.
I have worked with many patients who had resting tremors (without Parkinson’s disease) and also patients who truly had Parkinson’s disease. Resting tremors are when your hands (or head) shake without doing anything.
Some people who have resting tremors will be told that they might have Parkinson’s disease. Of course, many of them do but some of them don’t.
I have seen a strong correlation with over activation of the Sympathetic Autonomic Nervous System (what is called the fight or flight response) and tremors.
The Parasympathetic Autonomic Nervous System is the “Rest and Digest” side of the nervous system. It is what keeps us calm. When you eat a large meal, it is what gets activated and causes you to want to rest.
When the two sides of the Autonomic Nervous System are out of balance, it can create health problems.
The best way that I can explain it is when you have a car accident, a physical altercation or a really bad argument, what tends to happen? Your blood pressure will rise and for about 10-20 minutes or so, your hands shake.
Some people can get stuck in a chronic Sympathetic state where the Sympathetic nervous system overpowers the Parasympathetic.
For some people, this can cause them to have resting tremors or “the shakes” while others will experience anxiety, depression, night sweats, excessive sweating during the day, poor digestion, hot flashes, etc…
The symptoms are different for every person and Janice had some of these symptoms but the reason she came to me was her pain and also her tremors.
I performed blood work analysis on Janice and she had some interesting findings:
Her homocysteine, blood glucose, potassium, MCV, MCH, lymphocyte count, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and thyroid peroxidase antibodies were all high.
Let’s take a look at each one of these markers to explain how they could affect Janice and contribute to her tremors.
Homocysteine and Inflammation
Homocysteine is an inflammatory marker. It is a super free radical and a major contributor to blood vessel damage and plaque formation. The king of all antioxidants, Glutathione, is made from Homocysteine.
Therefore, with her homocysteine being high, we know that Janice was inflamed, at a higher risk of a stroke or heart attack, glutathione deficient, and had a vitamin B12 or folate deficiency.
Blood Glucose elevation can cause Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is also damaging to blood vessels. Actually, diabetes creates “leaky” blood vessels and that is how it is a slow killer. When blood leaks out of blood vessels, tissues get inflamed.
Also, blood carries oxygen to organs such as the brain, etc… So, if you have leaky blood vessels, organs can become diseased over time due to lack of oxygen.
Also, blood sugar dysregulation (highs and lows of blood sugar) are closely tied in with adrenal gland fatigue or exhaustion. The adrenal glands are what are responsible for maintaining electrolyte balance but also produce cortisol (the body’s natural steroid hormone).
Can high Potassium cause Nerve Problems?
Potassium is a very important electrolyte. You don’t want too much and you don’t want too little. Nerves conduct electrical signals through pumping sodium (salt) ions out of the cells and potassium ions into the cells.
We actually have sodium potassium pumps in every cell in our body but nerves can only work through sodium and potassium exchange. That is why it is critically important to have the correct amount of these electrolytes in your blood.
The adrenal glands and kidneys regulate sodium and potassium levels in the blood. When someone is in a chronic state of inflammation, has chronic blood sugar levels that fluctuate, or immune dysregulation, the adrenal glands can become fatigued and unable to help regulate electrolytes in a healthy way.
High levels of potassium can cause muscle cramps, irritability, nerve problems, heart problems, diarrhea, and spasms.
Can a Glutathione Deficiency cause Anemia?
Remember earlier when I said that Janice had a glutathione deficiency? High homocysteine is a sign of glutathione deficiency and so is high levels of potassium in the serum. I love it when various markers on blood tests agree!
Interestingly enough, glutathione is the main protector of red blood cells (erythrocytes). Red blood cells contain hemoglobin which carries oxygen. Oxygen is negatively charged which means that it can cause free radical damage.
Red blood cells live 120 days. After they die, they are broken down and recycled by the liver. While they are alive, they carry oxygen throughout the entire body.
A glutathione deficiency can cause free radical damage to the red blood cells and cause them to die early.
When red blood cells die too early, it can cause a condition where people can have immature red blood cells circulating in the blood instead of mature red blood cells that are capable of carrying higher levels of oxygen.
Doesn’t this sound like anemia? Anemia is when you don’t have enough oxygen carrying components in the blood. Premature destruction of red blood cells can cause hemolytic anemia (anemia caused by destruction of red blood cells).
So yes, a glutathione deficiency can cause anemia!
Guess what? Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance can also cause high potassium levels. Potassium follows sugar into the cells. When someone is a Type 2 Diabetic (a severe form of insulin resistance), sugar won’t go into the cells properly and stay in the blood. Therefore, potassium won’t be able to get into the cells and can go high in the blood serum.
Chronic stress can also cause high potassium in the blood. Chronic stress can cause loss of sodium and retention of potassium.
So far, we are seeing some blood test markers that could contribute to an overexcited Sympathetic Nervous System response and lead to Janice’s resting tremors. There’s more.
Recall, that Janice’s MCV was high. MCV is short for “Mean Corpuscular Volume”. In plain English, MCV is a measure of the size of red blood cells. A high MCV means large red blood cells and a low MCV means small red blood cells.
What can cause a high MCV on a Blood Test?
Anemia, hypothyroidism, vitamin C deficiency, autoimmune disease, and intestinal dysbiosis are common causes of high MCV.
It is important to note that even subclinical hypothyroidism can cause a high MCV. Red blood cells need proper functioning levels of thyroid hormones to mature. Without enough thyroid hormones circulating in the bloodstream, red blood cell development can be decreased.
MCH is the acronym for “Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin”. It is the amount of weight of hemoglobin in each red blood cell. A high MCH can be a sign of B12 or Folate deficiency, low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria), and possible parasitic infection.
A high MCH can also be caused by chronic antibiotic usage which could create an imbalance of intestinal microflora. Altered microflora could be the cause of B12 or folate absorption associated with high levels of homocysteine.
How are Lymphocytes associated with Autoimmune Disease?
Another important finding on Janice’s blood test was an elevated lymphocyte count. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that is involved in the humoral immune response (the one involved with antibodies seen in autoimmune disease).
Lymphocytes will often go up and can stay up for many years with a chronic viral infection. Viral infections are notorious for causing chronic fatigue and when Janice first came to me, she had a chief complaint of fatigue.
Another important cause lymphocytosis is chronic inflammation. It is obvious that Janice had systemic inflammation with high blood glucose, and especially elevated homocysteine (blood vessel inflammation).
We have already seen that Janice had inflammation and high levels of lymphocytes associated with a possible autoimmune response. Another important finding is that she had clinically high levels of thyroid peroxidase antibodies.
How are Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies linked to Hashimoto’s and Grave’s Disease?
High thyroid peroxidase antibodies are associated with thyroiditis and an autoimmune response. When the lymphocytes (white blood cells associated with autoimmunity) see something that they don’t recognize, they bring in inflammatory armies and work to destroy the foreign substance.
Alone, elevated thyroid peroxidase antibodies aren’t enough to diagnose Hashimoto’s thyroiditis but they are a sure sign of heightened autoimmune activity and a possible sign of autoimmune thyroiditis or future thyroid disease.
Often, Grave’s disease (autoimmune hyperthyroiditis) can cause tremors and a Sympathetic Nervous System response where someone can literally be bouncing off of the walls and be all over the place.
Grave’s disease also has a symptom of unexplained weight loss and people can have a “skin on bones” appearance. This is caused by the excessive amount of thyroid hormones produced in Grave’s disease.
Janice came to me overweight and in an unhealthy state. Other than her tremors, she didn’t have the classic symptoms of Grave’s disease.
People with Grave’s disease almost seem like they want to crawl out of their own skin. Janice’s other thyroid hormones were all normal, so there wasn’t enough evidence to diagnose her with Grave’s disease.
Her total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides were all high. As I wrote about in one of my articles, high triglycerides is a hallmark sign of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can be another cause of high blood sugar, and chronic fatigue.
Typically, total cholesterol goes high when someone is either really inflamed or hypothyroid. For certain, Janice was inflamed. When the body is inflamed, the liver will produce more cholesterol in an attempt to repair the inflamed tissues.
Hypothyroidism causes a slow metabolism. In hypothyroidism, the liver continues making cholesterol and since the metabolism is slow (what causes weight gain or inability to lose weight with hypothyroidism), the cholesterol doesn’t get broken down and will go high.
What is the difference between HDL and LDL Cholesterol?
LDL cholesterol is short for “Low Density Lipoprotein”. Most people are aware that HDL cholesterol is considered the “good” cholesterol and that LDL is the “bad” cholesterol.
Consider this: LDL cholesterol is considered bad because it has a higher content of fat than HDL cholesterol. Both, HDL and LDL cholesterol are antioxidants though. They help heal and protect tissues.
Even the “bad” LDL cholesterol helps repair damaged tissues. The problem with LDL cholesterol is that it repairs the damaged tissues with cholesterol that has more fat in it than what is considered healthy.
However, it is still “repairing” tissue. This is another example of the body healing itself. Ideally, LDL cholesterol levels will be low and HDL cholesterol levels will be high so that if a part of your body gets inflamed, it will repair with the “good” HDL cholesterol.
This is especially important for someone with high levels of homocysteine like Janice. Homocysteine damages the inner lining of the arteries (the endothelium). When this damage occurs, LDL will create “foam cells” or fibrous plaques in the arteries.
This creation of plaques is what can lead to arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and that is exactly how high levels of homocysteine is considered a significant risk factor for a stroke or heart attack.
I’m especially proud of Janice. I call her my “rock star”. She took ownership of her health and through my guidance, got herself healthy and has stayed that way.
I want to be clear that I didn’t treat Janice for any of the conditions in this article. All I did was explain the test results and she made adjustments to her diet and nutritional supplementation. She strengthened her immune system and got herself healthy.
As I’ve written about in other articles, the gut is called the “Second Brain”. The gut is also the originator of 80% of your immune system.
Click the link to read the fascinating article about recent research regarding the vagus nerve and Parkinson’s disease. The vagus nerve controls digestion. It goes from the brain to the gut and back.
In fact “vagus” means wanderer in Latin. The vagus nerve goes all over the place. In short, the study found that the incidence of Parkinson’s disease could be reduced by cutting the vagus nerve. https://neurosciencenews.com/parkinsons-gastrointestinal-tract-neurology-2150/
Obviously, I’m a natural doctor who doesn’t like invasive procedures. However, it is fascinating to realize that a disease could begin in the digestive tract and travel through a nerve to the brain.
It definitely makes a strong case for working to keep a healthy gut and digestive tract while at the same time limiting inflammatory processes in the body.
These days, Janice can have a conversation without her head and hands shaking like they used to. She can go to work and have a full day. She is there for her family and loved ones. Janice is living the life that she thought she was about to lose.
Health is Happiness,
Dr. Keith Currie