G3.11: A patient with DID says the voices are not like schizophrenia.

More severe dissociative disorders like Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, MPD) have occurred in some cases of extreme childhood trauma. A strong alter character may develop in the child’s mind that takes over during scary times as a defense strategy. The protective personality may cope with the harsh situation and leave the core personality not only protected from coping with the negative event, but also may leave the memory of the event suppressed from the core personality’s memories. The child or adult may be left with no memories of what happened while the alter personality was in charge.

A person with the condition describes “multiplicity” as being like a bus that has a variety of passengers who may take over driving occasionally, and go and do things without asking, and the bus may not remember it. The “host” or main personality is not the bus driver but is the whole bus.

The full description is in the book, Living with Your Selves, by Sandra J. Hocking and Company;  (G3.34), some of the author’s alters helped write parts of the book. The author would like people to understand that the condition can be coped with and that it isn’t possession by any external force. The alters were all protectors at some stage of the host’s difficult life.

The main difference between DID and less severe forms of dissociative disorders is that memory is suppressed in DID in order to protect the core child personality from whatever trauma is or was going on in the child/former child’s life.

My own feelings of disconnection as a child or as an over-worked adult have never included missing blocks of time or forgetting whole days, which can be symptoms of DID.

Seeing bad memories from above as if watching oneself from the ceiling can be a symptom of milder forms of dissociation. Conversations that you aren’t part of or other voices taking place inside the head may be symptoms of DID. Sandra Hocking mentions that hearing voices externally from inanimate objects like a bicycle would be a symptom of a different type of mental health problem and she encourages talking to someone (other than the bicycle) if any odd voices are being heard.

Recent research has shown that the “voices” that people with schizophrenia symptoms “hear” are actually their own internal sub-vocalizations – their own inner thoughts – but that some disconnection occurred in the brain that seems to make them unable to recognize the “voice” or “voices” as their own thoughts or memories.

Hearing voices may be a symptom that is due to many possible reasons rather than being due to “schizophrenia” – it may be more of a set of symptoms that all resemble “schizophrenia-like symptoms.” Several different nutrient deficiencies may cause a symptoms of “hearing voices“. If a person was deficient in all of the nutrients, which is not uncommon in malnutrition, then supplementing only one of the nutrients would be unlikely to show much improvement in the schizophrenia-like symptoms even though it might have been helping somewhat. All of the nutrients are important for health.

  • The voices heard by patients with these symptoms have been found to be the patient’s own internal monologue but the patient no longer recognizes the voices as their own thoughts or memories from their past.  See:  “When People With Schizophrenia Hear Voices, They’re Really Hearing Their Own Subvocal Speech, Unlike most people, they just can’t tell it’s themselves.By Eliezer Sternberg  (G3.35)

G3.12: Nutrient deficiencies may be a physical and treatable cause symptoms of “hearing voices.”

  • Folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause schizophrenia like symptoms; possibly due to an increase in levels of c-reactive protein. Folate and vitamins B6 and B12 are needed to breakdown c-reactive protein. (G3.36)
  • Genetic differences in metabolism can affect the risk of deficiency in folate and vitamin B12. Genetic screening for methylation cycle differences can help clarify whether extra supplements of the more bioactive methylated forms would be more helpful than standard supplements.
  • And a zinc deficiency and/or copper excess is more common for patients with schizophrenia; so pyroluria, a condition also thought to be due to genetic differences may be an issue. (G3.37)
  • A zinc deficiency prenatally may be linked to schizophrenia later in life: (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1491625) (G3.38)
  • Vitamin D deficiency is more common in people diagnosed with schizophrenia. (G3.39)

Health isn’t easy on a good day for someone of average age and average metabolism. Seeking help from mental health counselors and other healthcare professionals can help provide care for a variety of topics that may not fit easily in visit with the family physician.

A specialist in research explains the oxidative stress chemical process in the background section of a review paper regarding the possible connection between psychiatric disorders and oxidative stress. (G3.110) The short story on the chemistry is about balance between the waste produced when burning energy for use in metabolism and antioxidants available to neutralize the oxidizing chemicals produced as waste. The oxidizing waste chemicals are smaller parts of what was once the larger molecule of sugar, glucose. We do need to be able to use the stored energy from glucose, so having plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables in the diet gives the balance of antioxidants necessary to neutralize the “free radical” waste products. They are like the ions of calcium or magnesium in the way they are “free” to donate or take energy from other molecules, which may leave them in disrepair.

An excerpt gives a summary of oxidative stress and the potential link to psychiatric disorders, (G3.110)

Hence, oxidative stress can be considered as a state where the level of oxidants [hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, nitric oxide, etc.] produced by biological reactions exceeds the oxidants scavenging capacity of the cells. These oxidants modify cellular macromolecules [proteins, DNA, lipids] and alter cellular functions [19] resulting in apoptosis or necrosis [2022].” (Apoptosis or necrosis = cell death)

“The brain with its extensive capacity to consume large amounts of oxygen and production of free radicals, is considered especially sensitive to oxidative damage [12, 23]. Therefore, it is not surprising that oxidative stress is implicated in several disorders of the brain including neurodegenerative disorders [2326], psychiatric ailments [27], and anxiety [28]. This association is largely due to the high vulnerability of brain to oxidative load [27].

Read more: Oxidative Stress and Psychological Disorders, (G3.110).

  • The topic of psychiatric disorders, TRP channels, oxidative stress, infertility and pre-eclampsia is more complex than I’ve led you to believe in this overview and this page is already long so the discussion will be continued on a separate page focused more on TRP channels – they are an exciting topic, see G. Pre-eclampsia &TRP Channels.

So speak nicely to yourself, you might be listening. And it turns out that words can hurt after all, not just sticks and stones. A book called What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, by Shad Helmstetter, goes into more detail about the emotional impact that can occur due to how and what we think to ourselves. How we phrase our thoughts and goals can affect our success and enjoyment in life, that seems like a no-brainer, but maybe not to the nervous toddler who is still trying to stand up in the adult sized shoes – a little wobbly but trying. (G3.111)

The glossary section G. Fear & the Inner Child has more information and resources about early childhood experiences and emotional development and the possible creative benefits of dissociation. The section G. Autoimmune Disease & Vitamin D continues the medical discussion of oxidative stress, magnesium deficiency, and why an Epsom salt foot soak or bath might help an autoimmune condition in addition to improving a bad mood and soothing a muscle cramp and sore back – one stop shopping, now that is efficiency.

See a healthcare provider for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  • Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert)

Crisis Hotlines and Resources:

  • U.S. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255, Available 24 hours everyday. (I.suicidepreventionlifeline.org)
  • National Helpline: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: “SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.”  (I.samhsa.org)
  • Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, RAINN Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE, (I.RAINN.org)
  • Child Welfare Information Gateway: a variety of toll-free hotline numbers for concerns involving the safety of children. (I.20)
  • Power and Control and Equality Wheels  The following training materials are for helping victims of domestic violence and batterers learn how to recognize problem behaviors but emotional manipulation or abuse of power and control can occur in many types of relationships not just between couples.The Power and Control Wheel (I.21) was developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP). (I.22) Manipulative behaviors are grouped into eight categories in the model. An additional Equality Wheel (I.23) was developed to help guide batterers and victims of emotional or physical abuse towards healthier ways to interact. It is grouped into eight equivalent categories with examples of healthier ways to interact with each other. Problems frequently can involve communication issues by both people in a relationship.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

References:

G3.7: Work Burnout is a type of Dissociative Disorder called Depersonalization Disorder.

A more frequent problem than is recognized is a milder form of a dissociative condition called Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder, commonly known as “work burnout,” than the more well-known but rare “Multiple Personality Disorder.” That name has been changed to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).  Symptoms may include depersonalization and/or derealization without the presence of other psychosis or memory and identity disturbances. It is one of the Dissociative Disorders which also include Dissociative Amnesia  and Dissociative Fugue and Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, in addition to the more severe DID, Dissociative Identity Disorder. The disorders may be underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed even though symptoms consistent the Dissociative Disorders are often reported by people with psychiatric illness who also have a history of having experienced trauma. (G3.30)

  • Read more: Stress and Trauma: Psychotherapy and Pharmacotherapy for Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder. (G3.30)

Techniques that help patients reach a deeply relaxed state can help reach the nonverbal emotions and memories from early childhood that may not have been stored as “words.” Art therapy, journaling or poetry, music and movement and meditation can all help access or nonverbal memories. EMDR therapy incorporates rapid eye movement or hearing a sound that switches from the right to the left side of the brain rapidly. The stimulation in a rhythmic pattern helps reach a relaxed meditative state that is not as deep as hypnosis but might be somewhat similar. The therapist then guides the patient with some questions about a traumatic event or memory in order to try to reframe the issue from an adult’s perspective, in order to help the little child within the patient understand the issue from a more adult perspective. Forgiveness for parents who didn’t know better might be part of reviewing a traumatic childhood from the viewpoint of an adult. Parents may have just been young and foolish once too.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR Therapy: Using EMDR to Find Your ‘Safe Place’ in Trauma Recovery. (G3.31)

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

References:

  • G3.30: Stress and Trauma: Psychotherapy and Pharmacotherapy for Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder, by J.P. Gentile, M. Snyder, P. M. Gillig, Innov Clin Neurosci. 2014 Jul-Aug; 11(7-8): 37–41. (G3.30)
  • G3.31: Using EMDR to Find Your ‘Safe Place’ in Trauma Recovery. By Camille Larsen, Aug.15, 2016, (G3.31.goodtherapy.org)

G3.6.1: “Calcium sparklets” and Oxidative Stress

G3.6.1.1: “Calcium sparklet” – a burst of energy from a TRP channel; can be measured but not seen.

Calcium and magnesium are both electrically active ions – ions are atoms of an individual element rather than being a more complex molecule that is made of a combination of several different elements. Water is made of one atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen for example. Calcium and magnesium are both individual elements rather than being molecules. They are both considered to be essential trace minerals that we need in our diet on a regular basis or we would get sick and eventually die without enough of either one. They each have an ionic charge of +2 and can exchange one or two electrons.

Ions can typically donate or receive electricity by sharing or receiving one or two electrons. Sodium and potassium are essential trace minerals with a charge of +1, they can exchange one electron. the energy is in the form of electromagnetic radiation, which is also what make “light., (G3.105), so while our human eyes may be too big to detect the “light” of a microscopic burst of energy from the flow of calcium across a TRP channel – maybe a tiny spark might be visible to that microscopic world.

Magnesium sparklers – a spark of life.

Many people may be more familiar with holiday “magnesium sparklers” than with “calcium sparklets” as the mineral magnesium is flammable and can be used to make Fourth of July sparklers, which are a festive sight during celebrations of the U.S. Independence Day.

 

G3.6.1.2: Calcium sparklets can be caused by high blood sugar – hyperglycemia. (G3.108)

  • Calcium and diabetic vascular dysfunction, Focus on “Elevated Ca2+sparklet activity during acute hyperglycemia and diabetes in cerebral arterial smooth muscle cells: This report is also the first to describe a molecular mechanism by which hyperglycemia produces increased [Ca2+]i in VSM and suggests that this mechanism of Ca2+ sparklet activation may be uniquely initiated by hyperglycemia.” (G3.108)

Calcium sparklets are not a good thing, not in excess at least, they represent an open gate into the interior of the cell, allowing a crowd to enter instead of invited guests only. (G3.106, G3.107, G3.108) Too much energy or other types of chemicals suddenly being available on the interior of a cell can over activate it and even lead to the death of the cell.

Excitotoxins” refers to chemicals that can cause a cell to become overactive if the chemical is allowed to enter the interior of the cell. TRP channels are the gateway that selectively lets in some things and keeps out everything else. If TRP channels aren’t able to do their job properly, then too much of “everything else” is able to rush into the cell and that may be what happens for some people more than others. If the everything else includes MSG from a recent meal or the alternative sweetener aspartame then overactivity of the cell may result.

Calcium itself acts as a messenger chemical that can trigger action when it is on the interior of the cell and can act as an “excitotoxin” and lead to the death of cells. During normal health magnesium is in greater abundance inside of the cell and calcium is found in larger amounts than magnesium in the fluid surrounding the cells and within blood plasma.

The alternative sweetener aspartame, brand name Nutrasweet, or the more concentrated version Neotame may both act as excitotoxins. The food flavoring ingredient monosodium glutamate also may over excite cells. What they have in common is a free amino acid that can act as a signal to the brain cell to tell it to get busy doing whatever it usually does, “just get busy, go, keep going, there’s no “off” here, move it . . .” an excitotoxin is the worse drill sergeant ever, and eventually the cell runs out of nutrients and/or builds up waste products of metabolism, and may even die. That’s a dramatization, but roughly that is the story – “oxidative stress” equals “waste products of metabolism.”

G3.6.1.3: Oxidative Stress > metabolic waste products > “TRPA1 sparklets.”

To return to the excerpt and list from the previous section, the first list of chemicals known to activate TRPA1 channels included waste products of metabolism. Metabolism is the chemical deconstruction of a larger molecule into smaller parts. Enzymes are necessary that are specific to the exact type of chemical transformation. Toxins can collect without enough of the right type of enzyme to metabolize them into smaller chemicals that are safe or can be excreted more easily by the kidneys.

  • The summary and excerpt: The TRPA1 receptor is directly activated by calcium levels inside of the cell, and a variety of toxins or “noxious” (irritating) substances that are produced as a normal part of “oxidative stress” otherwise known as “inflammation” including, “4-hydroxy-2-nonenal, hydrogen peroxide, hypochloride, hydrogen sulphide, 15-delta prostaglandin J2 [2528].” and irritants from the environment or diet can also activate the TRPA1 receptor, *1.mustard oil (allyl isothiocyanate: AITC) [29], *2. cinnamaldehyde [30, 31], *3. allicin [32, 33] and *4. formalin [34]…”. (G3.25) Serotonin and other “Inflammatory mediators, such as bradykinin…[19, 35]” (G3.25) can make the receptors more sensitive which can lead to increased responsiveness of nerve endings – more pain (G3.25) or itch. (G3.24)
  • And a new excerpt about oxidative stress and metabolites that are produced within the body, some would activate TRPA1 channels: “Reactive oxygen species (ROS)”(G3.93) formed from oxidative stress were found to activate the TRPA1 channels in the cerebral arteries but not in other areas of the vascular system, “NOX-induced activation of TRPA1 sparklets and vasodilation required generation of hydrogen peroxide and lipid-peroxidizing hydroxyl radicals as intermediates. 4-Hydroxy-nonenal, a metabolite of lipid peroxidation, also increased TRPA1 sparklet frequency and dilated cerebral arteries.” (G3.93).

“Increased TRPA1 sparklet frequency” (G3.93) can be caused by chemicals that are produced during oxidative stress – which can be caused by emotional or physical reasons. The significance is that it means more calcium or other chemicals could be rushing through the open channel in the membrane wall. Calcium can also be an activating substance as was mentioned in the first summary and excerpt. This is complex chemistry and is just meant to be an introduction to the topic of oxidative stress in relation to conditions of chronic pain and itch. That second excerpt is from an additional list and is about chronic migraine – who are the people who might be more likely to have overactive TRPA1 channels? – quite a few besides those with sensitive skin or pain problems. A more complete list is in the next section but it is likely an incomplete list.

G3.6.1.4: “People with overactive TRPA1 channels” may include people with symptoms of:

  • chronic itch (G3.24);
  • chronic arthritis (G3.25);
  • inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD: ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease)” (G3.76);
  • people with an Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may also have had a history of child trauma, domestic violence or sexual abuse:  “As Leserman and Drossman (2007) note, patients with a history of physical or sexual abuse in childhood, or intimate partner violence, have 1.5 to 2 times the risk of reporting gastrointestinal symptoms or having a functional gastrointestinal disorder.,” (G3.94); and trauma survivors may also have comorbid chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia: “Van Houdenhove et al. (in press) found that 64% of patients in a group for FMS or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome had at least one type of either child or adult trauma. More concerning was that 39% of the group reported abuse during childhood and as adults, indicating a lifelong pattern of abuse. Although these findings are somewhat mixed,” (G3.94);
  • a medical hypothesis suggests TRPA1 channels may be involved in many chronic pain and airway conditions and also diabetes: “Furthermore, TRPA1 is also involved in persistent to chronic painful states such as inflammation, neuropathic pain, diabetes, fibromyalgia, bronchitis and emphysema.,” (G3.95);
  • symptoms of “diabetic hypersensitivity” (G3.96)  might feel or sound like: “Don’t touch me it hurts.” Symptoms of mechanical hypersensitivity may feel like being physically over sensitive to any sensation. Any touch may be experienced as “pain” or “itch” instead of being pleasant. Symptoms of hypersensitivity associated with diabetes have been found to respond to TRPA1 channel antagonists – chemical inhibitors – a medicine in other words. (G3.96) Reducing the over activity of the TRPA1 channels would help resolve the underlying problem but overmedicating would be a risk. Too much inhibition, too much of the medication could be dangerous to long-term health as the TRPA1 channels play important functions throughout the body.;
  • chronic migraine,” “cluster headache,” (G3.77); “Reactive oxygen species (ROS)”(G3.93) formed from oxidative stress were found to activate the TRPA1 channels in the cerebral arteries but not in other areas of the vascular system, “NOX-induced activation of TRPA1 sparklets and vasodilation required generation of hydrogen peroxide and lipid-peroxidizing hydroxyl radicals as intermediates. 4-Hydroxy-nonenal, a metabolite of lipid peroxidation, also increased TRPA1 sparklet frequency and dilated cerebral arteries.” (G3.93);
  • preeclampsia may involve overactivity of the TRPA1 channel, it also has mechanico-sensitive properties or other TRP channels  – more research is needed: (G3.78, G3.79, G3.80, G3.81, G3.82, G3.83);
  • chronic respiratory conditions involving “airway inflammation” such as “asthma” or “COPD,” overly dry airways may be a problem causing difficulty with completely emptying the lungs (G3.84);
  • cardiac issues such as Congestive Heart Failure may involve TRPC channels, (G3.85), which are not activated by the food type items on the list below but which are likely to be activated by cannabinoids which are #8 on the list below, (G3.89, G3.90);
  • male infertility due to motility issues in the sperm, (G3.87, G3.88). TRPC channels (G3.89) can be activated by Phospholipase C (G3.90) which suggests they can be activated by other phospholipids as well. So a deficiency or gene difference affecting their production endogenously may be involved in male infertility involving motility. More research is needed. In the meantime formaldehyde is definitely not beneficial for fertility in women or men. There is more research available regarding exposure risks for female reproductive health (G3.91) than for males.(G3.92)

G3.6.1.5: People with overactive TRPA1 channels may be sensitive to:

And now we return to the list from the section on the last page. It is greatly expanded now with more food items and other possible substances that can activate TRPA1 channels and TRPC channels, gathered from the research about the list of conditions that might be at increased risk for overactive TRP channels. The TRP channels are all membrane channels but there are many individual types and several categories. The basic form and function is similar however and is described and illustrated in an article about the TRPC channel and cardiohypertrophy associated with Congestive Heart Failure, which was included in the previous list.  (G3.85)

  1. Mustard:  “mustard oil”, (G3.25); “Isothiocyante derivatives constitute the main pungent ingredients in wasabi (allyl isothiocyanate), yellow mustard (benzyl isothiocyanate), Brussels sprouts (phenylethyl isothiocyanate), nasturtium seeds (isopropyl isothiocyanate) and capers (methyl isothiocyanate). Allyl isothiocyanate is the major active ingredient in mustard oil.” (G3.67); Yellow mustard is the condiment used in many ways in cooking. It is a spice made from a small seed that is dried and powdered. It has medicinal value for a variety of conditions. Mustard oil applied topically as a massage oil is reported to provide relief for pain due to arthritis. (G3.68) Wasabi is a type of horseradish like seasoning used in Japanese cooking.It is a root vegetable that also has many medicinal benefits. (G3.72) Brussel sprouts are a vegetable that look like tiny cabbages and are botanically related to cabbage. They are very healthy in many ways and might be worth trying in smaller quantities, steamed more thoroughly rather than raw or lightly steamed or sauteed.(G3.71) Nasturtium seeds can be pickled and used in cooking similarly to capers. (G3.69) Capers are a pickled product with a peppery taste which resemble peppercorns, however they are made of the springtime buds of the caper plant which are picked when they are the size of peppercorns, and are preserved in a pickling brine. Capers are used in salads or savory dishes. (G3.70)
  2. Cinnamon:  “cinnamaldehyde”, (G3.25); Cinnamon is a spice used in cooking which is made from the inner layer of bark from a plant. It is dried and powdered and used in baking or savory dishes. Medicinally a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon per day has been found helpful for improving blood sugar control. A half teaspoon is a large amount for a single serving but some people enjoy it at breakfast stirred into a bowl of hot cereal. (G3.43, G3.67))
  3. Onion or Garlic:allicin”, (G3.25); (G3.41) To be more precise – the raw garlic contains allicin; baked or roasted garlic would be less likely to still have allicin present. It would likely be similar for onion, raw or lightly sauteed might be a problem while caramelized, baked, or roasted might be tolerable. (G3.67)
  4. Formaldehyde:formalin“, (G3.25); chemically the two are very similar: (G3.42); and formaldehyde is found in the environment and as a metabolite of some alternative sweeteners and other dietary sources. (G3.56) See the next section (which was posted first on this site) for more information on sources and ways to avoid Formaldehyde.
  5. “(Winter-green),” (G3.67); Wintergreen is a natural flavoring herb in the mint family. It is typically used as an essential oil as a flavoring in many foods and other types of products. It has medicinal benefits related to it containing the chemical that acts as the pain killing ingredient of aspirin.(G3.73)
  6. “eugenol (Cloves)” (G3.67); Cloves are used in a traditional holiday decoration to make an aromatic dried ornament from an orange. The tack like cloves are poked into the rind of a fresh orange and then the fruit is allowed to dry and it shrinks and smells good for a long time without spoiling if it was allowed to dry thoroughly. Cloves for use in cooking or baking are ground into a powder and used in baking and also in savory dishes and chutneys. The spice and essential oil also have medicinal benefits. The essential oil has numbing properties and in traditional medicine is applied topically to the gums for relieving the pain of a toothache.(G3.74)
  7. “and gingerol (Ginger).” (G3.67); – a root with medicinal properties and commonly used in cooking as a minced or chopped vegetable and is used in dried and powdered form as a spice in savory and baked dishes and may be served dried and candied and used as a candy or chopped and used in baked goods or chutneys.Ginger has many medicinal benefits and has been found helpful for the relief of arthritis pain when used in a quantity that would be equal to about a half teaspoon of the dried powder. Pregnant women should avoid large quantities of the herb or vegetable or candy as miscarriage may be a risk. (G3.75)
  8. Δ9-tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (an oxidation product of THC).” (G3.67); The herb cannabis also known as marijuana has many medicinal benefits and  is the most significant source of THC but some foods also have some cannabinoid content. The topic of food sources of cannabinoids and risks and safe use warnings are discussed in the section I. Addiction or Starvation?. Medicinal benefits are discussed in detail in the textbook Endocannabinoids: The Brain and Body’s Marijuana and Beyond, editor and Chapter Three by Emmanuel S. Onaivi, et al., (CRC Press, 2006, Boca Raton, FL), which is available online as a pdf:  (I.Endocannabinoids: Full Text pdf)

See a healthcare provider for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  • Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert)

References: 

G3.6: Antihistamines may help if there is a genetic tendency to overproduce histamine.

Genetic differences in more than 70 genes have been associated with increased itchiness, see summary at the end of this section. (G3.24) Calcium and serotonin levels may be involved in increased itch or arthritis pain signals being sent or perceived. (G3.25) Scratching an itch is considered rude and a chronic itch is often considered funny however it isn’t fun.

Some background information:

Too much or too little calcium and magnesium can affect pain, itching, and mood. The minerals are both electrically active, and provide energy for ion channels which control the transport of messenger chemicals like serotonin across cell membranes – such as nerve cell membranes which might feel like a sensation of itchiness or pain.     

Excess serotonin may be involved, (G3.26, G3.27), and scratching an itch can make the urge to scratch more intense, even worse afterwards, even though there may be a temporary feeling of relief while scratching. (G3.28) Adequate magnesium is essential for reducing pain in arthritis or at least may help reduce pain levels. (G3.27) An antihistamine may help for some types of itching related to genetic conditions. (G3.29)

Excess dopamine levels can also be a cause of an overwhelming urge to scratch – see “grooming behavior” in section 7. When to Report?. The solution there is to figure out why dopamine levels are that elevated. Elevated dopamine can be a symptom of hyperthyroidism but it can also be associated with other conditions.

  • An Itch You Just Can’t Scratch; NIH-funded study identifies proteins that may cause chronic itch. Summary points: The HTR7 gene was found most closely associated with chronic itch in an animal based study, however over 70 genes were found to be more expressed, more active in lab animals with chronic itch. The gene expression of the HTR7 gene was most active in the mice with the worst symptoms of scratching compared to the mice with the least sensitivity. The activity of the TRP1 receptor was also increased in animals with more symptoms. (G.24)
  • Transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) receptor is involved in chronic arthritis: in vivo study using TRPA1-deficient mice. Summary points: The TRPA1 receptor is directly activated by calcium levels inside of the cell, and a variety of toxins or “noxious” (irritating) substances that are produced as a normal part of “oxidative stress” otherwise known as “inflammation” including, “4-hydroxy-2-nonenal, hydrogen peroxide, hypochloride, hydrogen sulphide, 15-delta prostaglandin J2 [2528].” and irritants from the environment or diet can also activate the TRPA1 receptor, *1.mustard oil (allyl isothiocyanate: AITC) [29], *2. cinnamaldehyde [30, 31], *3. allicin [32, 33] and *4. formalin [34]…”. (G3.25) Serotonin and other “Inflammatory mediators, such as bradykinin…[19, 35]” (G3.25) can make the receptors more sensitive which can lead to increased responsiveness of nerve endings – more pain (G3.25) or itch. (G3.24) *See the next section for more information about the chemicals in bold font and where they may be found in the diet or environment.

*People with overactive TRPA1 channels may be sensitive to:

  1. Mustard:  “mustard oil”
  2. Cinnamon:  “cinnamaldehyde'” (G3.43) );
  3. Onion or Garlic:allicin,” (G3.41)
  4. Formaldehyde:formalin,” chemically the two are very similar: (G3.42) and formaldehyde is found in the environmental and as a metabolite of some alternative sweeteners and other dietary sources. (G3.56) Environmental sources include which would include first and second hand smoke, poorly ventilated air or smog, especially when there is brand new flooring or other new plastic or vinyl  material in the living area, it  can release volatile chemicals including formaldehyde at levels that can make a sensitive person feel ill. Metabolites of the breakdown of the alternative sweetener aspartame and Neotame include menthol and formaldehyde. (G3.44) Older packages of fruit juice also may contain increasing amounts of formaldehyde as the product ages, more of the chemical is produced from other chemicals.

Magnesium, Opioids, and Neuropathic Pain.

This list and this section got much longer actually, and eventually led me back to a topic I’ve written about in 2011, and which is one of the underlying causes of overactive TRP channels. Fortunately it also has a simple solution, (G3.101), but – unfortunately – it is so simple a solution that it isn’t profitable – unfortunately for individual patient’s health and quality of life and unfortunately for the economic health of individuals and nations and businesses who are being overcharged by the medical industry for healthcare that isn’t always effective and sometimes causes harm.

It is so effective a solution for improving mood and pain and muscle cramp type symptoms that I’ve been sharing the information online since at least 2011 and the article I shared was research from 2009, (G3.101), – so the clock is ticking on how soon the evidence based medical research will reach the individual patient who is in pain. The racers at the starting line are the physicians and nurse practitioners and other health professionals who make recommendations for opioid medications in an attempt to block pain instead of trying to find and resolve the cause of the pain.

What is a nerve signal? “Pain” or “no pain”? or “on” and “off”?
Pain, however, should not just be blocked without trying to understand the cause. It is a message from the body desperately asking for help but it is not always a clear message. Pain in one area of the body may have to do with an issue in another area of the body. Instead of blocking the pain signals we need to listen to them more carefully and try to figure out what the pain signals mean and how to resolve the underlying cause of the pain. Something might be missing and need to be added back into the diet or something might be happening in excess either in the diet or lifestyle habits and need to be stopped or moderated.

Nerve signals are not specific to send the brain a message of “pain” that exclusively means “pain;” a nerve signal is more of an “on” or “off” and might indicate a variety of extremes: too hot or too cold, or too rough or too light (ticklish), or too hot peppery, (capsaicin, (G3.100), more on that later), or too mustard oily. The nerve signal is simply telling the brain that “something” happened – figure it out captain of the ship – and fix it – such as remembering to wear gardening gloves before handling wild mustard weeds, especially if you have diabetic hypersensitivity.

The TRP channels are the bridge between the world and the nerve signal. There are many types and they can respond to specific temperatures, so some might activate when it is very cold and some might activate when it is very hot. Some might react to the hot pepper and some might react to the mustard oil. They would all tell the same nerve – “something” extreme happened.

Mustard oil can cause an extremely itchy reaction. It is used to induce “hypersensitivity” in lab animals to study the condition in relation to diabetic hypersensitivity. This will be discussed in the next section in more detail. (G3.96) Wearing gloves may be advisable when pulling a patch of wild mustard if you tend to have sensitive skin or allergic reactions.  (p124, G3.97)

Antihistamines taken daily can be helpful if excess histidine is a problem.

Antihistamines taken as a daily precaution may be helpful for people with overly sensitive skin if the sensitivity is related to a tendency to overproduce histidine. (G3.29) If that is an issue, then taking an antihistamine medication daily may also help for some types of chronic pain as well, more will be included in the next section. Acupuncture is a traditional therapy that may help reduce the overactivity of TRPV channels and reduce the production of the inflammatory peptide Substance P and other cytokines. Acupuncture can affect both the opioid and the cannabinoid receptors – but without needing the prescription or having to experience the side effects! (G3.104)

See a healthcare provider for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  • Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert)

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