Digesting It All!
The digestive system, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract, is a very complex machine requiring many different organs to work together in concert. The ultimate job of the GI tract is to absorb or admit the nutrients necessary to keep the body healthy, while at the same time rejecting or dispelling those substances that are toxic. To accomplish this important job, the membrane that lines the entire GI tract acts as a selective barrier-essentially taking in what is "good" and rejecting that which is "bad."
There are three key steps to the digestive process: absorption, assimilation and elimination. Absorption begins the moment food crosses from the outside world into the long intestinal tube that makes up the GI tract. As food makes its way through the intestines, absorption continues across the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. Assimilation is the step whereby nutrients actually enter the cells of the body; and finally,elimination may be thought of as the clean-up process, whereby the body gets rid of the waste products.
Not surprisingly, these critical steps require an incredible amount of energy to get the job done. A very large blood supply is also necessary and, in fact, the GI tract has the largest blood supply of any system in the body. It uses one-third of the overall blood flow from the heart to carry out its continual work.
Open Wide and Say "Ah"
Peering into the role of hormones in the mouth
Written by Carol Petersen, RPH, CNP - Women's International Pharmacy
A good dental hygienist is typically one of the best evaluators of the health of your mouth, and Carol Vander Stoep, RDH, BSDH, is an expert. She shares her compelling observations in an intriguing book titled Mouth Matters: How Your Mouth Ages Your Body and What YOU Can Do About It, and many of those observations have to do with hormone balance.
Is Gum Disease an Early Sign of Diabetes?
Insulin and glucose are primary hormones so, when they are out of whack, there's bound to be trouble. Ms. Vander Stoep points out that the one of the first symptoms of diabetes may be gum disease. She describes diabetes as an "end organ" disease, wreaking havoc upon the strength of the blood vessels. With diabetes, the blood vessels easily break and become porous and leak proteins into the tissues. End organs, such as the kidney and retina of the eye are very susceptible to damage. However, the gums-a highly accessible and visible end organ-are just as susceptible to damage when insulin and glucose are out of balance.
Ovarian Hormones and the Gums
Just as in the rest of the body, there are hormone receptors in the mouth. Estrogen in proper amounts promotes healing. However, when there is plaque present, Ms. Vander Stoep notes that the gums can become puffy, red and prone to bleeding during the estrogen peaks that occur just before ovulation and just before menstruation. The high levels of progesterone and estrogens during pregnancy can also lead to swelling and bleeding of the gums. In addition, high estrogen and progesterone levels favor the growth of some bacteria, which can destroy tissue. Birth control pills create a deficiency of folic acid, which also delays gum healing.
A Simple Solution to a Burning Problem
Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD - Women's International Pharmacy
Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) is a mysterious disorder which often afflicts peri- and postmenopausal women. Studies regarding this syndrome are scarce and treatment options are often ineffective. The most current theory suggests that BMS is a kind of peripheral nerve disorder. Clonazepam, a medication often used for anxiety, has been found to be somewhat effective, though not in a majority of cases.
It is interesting to note that some studies have measured Candida in patients with BMS. In a study of 150 people, two fifths of the patients had an oral Candida species identified by culture. Another small study of 13 patients found Candida glabrata in BMS patient saliva samples. Still a third study found Candida albicans more prevalent in the saliva of BMS patients than in a healthy control group. Phyllis Balch, in her book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing", also suggest that BMS may be related to Candida.
The University of Connecticut Health Center website recommends a trial therapy of Nystatin troches which slowly disolve in the mouth. Some BMS patients get results in as little as two weeks while other patients require an extended period of treatment. In addition, this pharmacist has personal experience with using Nystatin oral suspension to relieve burning mouth symptoms. If you suffer from BMS, you may want to give Nystatin therapy a try.
"Growth of the fungal pathogen Candida in parotid saliva of patients with burning mouth syndrome" Chen Q, Samaranayake LP Microbios. 2000;102(401):45-52
"Prospective study of aetiological factors in burning mouth syndrome" Lamey PJ, Lamb AB. BMJ.1988 Apr 30;296:1243-1246
"Oral carriage of Candida species and coliforms in patients with burning mouth syndrome" Samaranayake LP, Lamb AB, Lamey PJ, Macfarlane TW J Oral Pathol Med. 1989 Apr;18(4):233-5
"Burning Mouth Syndrome: Correlation of treatment to clinical variables of the disease" Silvestre-Rangil J, Silvestre FJ, Tamarit-Santafe C, Bautista D Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2011 Nov 1;16(7):e890-4
"Prescription for Nutritional Healing" Balch P, Balch J 3rd ed. New York, NY: Avery; 2000:263-266
University of Connecticut Health Center website