Do you suffer from an iron deficiency, and are taking the regular prescribed high dose iron from your GP, which is most likely making you constipated?
Then you need to read the below!
Hepcidin is an enzyme released by the liver which was initially thought to have antimicrobial properties. In addition to this, hepcidin regulates ferroportin, an iron transporter that exports elemental iron from cells, and is essential for the distribution of iron between tissues.
Hepcidin regulates the entry of iron into plasma, and increased levels of iron increase hepcidin production; regulating the degradation and inernalisation of ferroportin.
In lamens terms, increased hepcidin concentration reduces iron absorption and transfer into tissues.
Therefore, when taking an iron supplement, it is important to take it in the morning, and not every day; that way the more iron is absorbed, without Hepcidin blocking it's bioavailability.
IRON DEFICIENCY AND YOUR GP'S RANGES:
Typically, Ferritin (storage form of iron and most sensitive to assess iron deficiency) reference ranged for a GP is anywhere from 30-300 or 30-200 ng/mL, whereas functional pathology references ranges are much more specific.
Generally GP references ranges are much larger to allow for the vast majority of the population.
However, why would you want to me 'normal', or 'the same as the majority?' Don't you want to be OPTIMAL?!
Functional Ferritin ranges are 90-250 ng/mL.
I see clients EVERY DAY where their Ferritin levels are 30 or just over, and the doctors send them on their merry way telling them everything is ok.
THIS IS NOT THE CASE.
In my eyes, that is a clear iron deficiency, and can often be paired with smaller red blood cells; which most certainly is not ideal for one's optimal health.
SIGNS OF AN IRON DEFICIENCY:
An iron deficiency can result in symptoms such as fatigue, brittle nails, breathing difficulties, a sensitivity to the cold, constipation, poor cognitive function, digestive disturbances, dizziness, headaches, mitochondrial DNA damage, poor appetite, poor immune system function, spoon shaped distortion of the fingernails, general weakness, as well as pale sclera, pale palms and pale gums/ inside your lips.
IRON, HEPCIDIN, INFECTIONS AND INFLAMMATION.
The release of Hepcidin is also increased by higher concentrations of pro-inflammatory metaboliytes and cytokines; acting as a guard to reduce pathogenic microorganisms taking the iron out of cells. If pathogenic infection is present, some pathogens have evolved to have the ability to extract iron from heme by lysing erythrocytes (red blood cells). However if infection is present, neutrophils and macrophages also have the ability to synthesize hepcidin, which reduces the availability of free plasma iron. In the presence of TNFa, IL-1, IL-6 and INFy further strengthen iron withholding defenses.
As the body’s defense mechanism against pathogenic microorganisms, excess iron is bound to transferrin (which is a transporter protein that carries iron around the body) as well as other plasma molecules such as amino acids, citrate and albumin. With a reduced concentration of free plasma iron, the pathogen(s) have a reduced ability to sequest iron from the host.
So why alter/cease iron supplementation, and what do we do if infection is present?
Excess iron, and free iron throughout the body (resulting from high dose supplementation) not only increases oxidative stress (and increased free radicals in the body) and causes high amounts of constipation, but also acts as fuel to enhance pathogenic growth and colonisation.
Iron supplementation in the immuno-compromised results in higher rates of infections. Although there is little clinical evidence, iron supplementation should cease when signs of pathogenic infection is present, such as diarrhoea, stomach upset, fatigue, body tenderness, fever, or infection of any body system.
Cessation of supplementation during bouts of infection will not significantly reduce stores in a small amount of time; and stores can be repleted as soon as the infection has subsided; thus supplementation may restart as soon as infection has subsided and fever is no longer present.
Long term chronic infections that take longer to subside would need to be monitored concurrently with the clients Doctor, and ongoing iron studies should be performed to ensure they do not get dangerously low.
If you're concerned about your iron levels, I urge you to get in contact with a functional practitioner as soon as possible.
Even more so if you're wanting to conceive as it is essential your iron stores ( as well as other vitamin and mineral stores) are at their optimal level as soon as possible.
HERBAL TREATMENT OF PMS.
Allopathic medicinal treatments for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) usually include the oral contraceptive pill (OCP), antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other pain killers, diuretics, progesterone and GnRH analogues; which can significantly reduce the amount of hormones produced in the ovaries.
Some main symptoms experienced in PMS include:
As there are different types of PMS such as PMS-D (depression), PMS-A (Anxiety), PMS-C (carbohydrate craving), PMS-H (hyper hydration) and the more severe Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD); there can be different herbal remedies that may be warranted.
INDICATED HERBS AND THEIR ACTIONS.
Which form of PMS is it suited for?
Vitex agnus castus
Vitex has the ability to bind to dopamine receptors, which therefore inhibits the release of prolactin and corrects a progesterone deficiency; therefore reducing breast pain experienced in PMS (Wuttke et al, 2003). Due to Vitex’s ability to reduce prolactin levels, it can also enhance corpus luteum development and modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis to also correct irregular menstruation (Hoffman, 2003, p.595).
All other forms of PMS
White Peony may be useful in PMS associated pain and abdominal distension due to its ability to inhibit twitch responses of skeletal muscle, and has anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting TNF-a and IL-1B (Bone, 2003, p459; He & Dai, 2011); therefore reducing stimulation of nociceptive receptors (pain receptors) and reducing muscular pains and cramps experienced in PMS. White Peony is also a cognition enhancer, which may also be beneficial in PMS during times of poor concentration and memory (Bone, 2003, p.458).
All other forms of PMS
One of the active constituents of St John’s Wort (hyperforin) inhibits the reuptake of feel-good neurotransmitters Serotonin and Dopamine, as well as noradrenaline, GABA and L-glutamate; which allows them to illicit a greater response/increasing their action in the body (Klemow, Bartlow & Crawford, 2011). Therefore, as the mechanism behind mood changes experienced in PMS is due to a relative serotonin deficiency, for which St John’s Wort can be effective in improving (Yonkers, O’Brien & Eriksson, 2008). Symptoms of a serotonin deficiency can also be craving carbohydrates, as carbohydrates support the delivery of the serotonin precursor, tryptophan to the brain (Richard et al, 2009).
Cramp bark can be useful in PMS due to its uterine relaxant and antispasmodic activity (Dietz et al, 2016), studies on human uterine tissue have also shown a relaxant effect (Jarboe, Zirvi, Nicholson & Schmidt, 1967). It may also be effective in inflammation and pain associated with PMS due to its ability to inhibit inflammatory metabolites such as TNF-a, NFkB, IL-6 and IL-8 and decreasing the stimulation of nociceptive receptors (Finn & Walsh, 2013). Cramp bark may also be effective in PMS-A due to its mildy sedative and hypotensive effects (Bone, 2003, p.164).
All forms of PMS
Dandelion is a well-known herb used for its diuretic actions, however it also has an affinity for the liver, and actions as a bitter (Hoffman, 2003, p.587). As stress and sympathetic nervous system activation can alter hormones via HPA/HPO axis stimulation & enhancing PMS symptoms, Dandelion may be effective in reducing this effect due to it’s ability to enhance parasympathetic nervous system activity via stimulation of the vagus nerve (Howland, 2014). Furthermore, as Dandelion’s diuretic action increases urinary output, it can be useful in fluid retention experienced in PMS (Hechtman, 2012, p.779). As it’s also a hepatic, it may also help support the liver in clearing excess hormones (Hoffman, 2003, p.587).
Withania/Ashwaganda is a well-known adaptogenic herb that exerts its action via modulation of the HPA axis, down regulating cortisol production, and therefore improving the stress response, which can be heightened in PMS patients (Hechtman, 2012, p.779). Due to the down regulation of cortisol, this herb may also be effective in allowing proper synthesis of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which is down regulated in anxiety; as well as enhancing serotonin synthesis (Kumar et al, 2013).
Withania can also modulate the HPO axis, regulating the menstrual cycle and modulating oestrogen, progesterone luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone (Toufexis et al, 2014).
If you're experiencing any of the above listed symptoms, and cannot seem to find any relief; why not try a more natural (and very effective) approach, using herbal and nutritional medicine?
Get in touch HERE today.