Sunday, March 27, 2016

Root Canals Are Silently Ruining Your Health—Get Them Out!

Editor's Note: I want to clarify that each person should consider his or her unique situation and health to decide if removing or keeping root canalsor avoiding them all togetheris the right decision for YOU. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and you may believe root canals are perfectly safe with data to back up your opinion—I respect that. The blog below presents a case for avoiding and/or removing root canals. I'll admit when I wrote this post I was angry and even the title of this post is very definitive without leaving room for multiple points of views. I was angry because no one ever informed me of the risks associated with root canals, and my doctors believe my root canals played a role in my autoimmune disease. (Of course I could have taken better care of my teeth back in high school to avoid them in the first place but hindsight is 20/20.) Below is my case and the research I did that led me to the decisions and action I took. I have explored multiple POV's on the root canal debate as well. Research, learn from my situation or ignore it, and at the end of the day make an informed decision and do what you think is best for you


 I Last Monday, March 21, I had two root canal extractions and cavitations cleaned up. This was a long time coming, and I only wish I had done it sooner. I'm on the verge of anger that these root canals were not only allowed in the first place, but have lasted this long now understanding how harmful they are:

"Research has demonstrated that 100 percent of all root canals result in residual infection due to the imperfect seal that allows bacteria to penetrate. The toxins given off by these bacteria are more toxic than mercury. These toxins can cause systemic diseases of the heart, kidney, uterus, and nervous and endocrine systems." ~Dr. Edward Arana, D.D.S. 

I had one root canal when I was 18, and the other I got in my mid-20s I believe. Additionally, I've had wisdom teeth removed and this procedure wasn't done properly so there were unhealed holes in the jawbone, known as cavitations, and these can become (and did become) rampant with infection.

"Dentists are taught in dental school that once they pull a tooth, the patient's body heals the resulting hole in the jawbone. However, approximately 95 percent of all tooth extractions result in a pathologic defect called a cavitation... Cavitations occur when bone is deprived of its blood supply and dies. When the bone dies a hole in the bone develops, literally a cavity and into this hole migrate anaerobic bacteria"~Photos and more here.

This is a descriptive definition and explanation of cavitations; the concept of cavitations was confusing to me at first but now I get it.

In fact, all of this was confusing—you mean conventional dentists remove wisdom teeth and don't clean up properly, AND they allow dead organs in the form of a root canal to remain in the mouth knowing full well that over time these could harm our health and cause disease!? WTF! This seems ludicrous and unethical.

Put it this way—if you get an organ transplant you generally wouldn't leave the old, dead organ that failed in the body, would you? (Although, I guess a failed kidney is usually left behind after a transplant due to complications of removing it.) Teeth seem to be an exception—we kill them off, and leave the debris. Teeth are organs with "pulp" in their center made of living connective tissue and cells, with blood supply, nerves, and all. During a root canal all this living pulp is removed and what's left is a dead organ in the form of bone. Then a crown is put on the tooth, but the seal between tooth and gum is imperfect so junk seeps in over time, meanwhile the dead tooth becomes chronically infected no matter what. You can see how over time this can be a problem!


In addition to the localized infection in the mouth, our teeth also have strong connections with other parts of the body. Each tooth is associated with which one of more organs, body parts, joints, endocrine glands, sinuses and more. Look at the Meridian Tooth Chart, and you can see the relationships:

If you can't figure out which number is which tooth in your mouth, this is a cool interactive chart with even more depth on the tooth-organ relationships.


Little did I know my root canals and cavitations have been putting me in a deficit of health for 10+ years—and no matter how hard I work to live healthfully, eat clean, mitigate stress, avoid overtraining, avoid environmental toxins, perform better, recover faster, or whatever it is, these infections have not only been holding me back from full health, they've also cause my health to deteriorate. The lurking infections don't hurt and you can't feel them—they're a silent attacker—but years and years of this compromises the immune system and affects certain organs, functions and systems a la the Meridian Tooth Chart.

My root canals were teeth numbers 2 and 31—associated with pancreas, stomach, breast, bladder (2); and lung, large intestine, illeocecal (31). If you count the wisdom teeth cavitations, numbers 1 and 32, these are associated with small intestine, duodenum and heart.

You can buy into the Meridian Chart or not, but here's the thing: Gut issues have plagued me for years and no matter how disciplined I am with diet, supplementing and healing protocols, things just won't totally heal. I make incredible progress followed by an incredible setback, and/or we make discovery of "new" bugs or old ones that never fully healed (bacteria and fungal infections). Multiple practitioners have told me, "You're just a really tough, stubborn case." Then I look at the organs associated with my infected teeth, and I'm no expert on this matter, but and there's an undeniable connection.

Back in 2013, Dr. David Minkoff was the first to tell me that old dental work and the state of my mouth could be at the root of my problems. He even helped me find a holistic biological dentist in my area. I did an initial appointment and $300+ later was told it was probably a good idea to get the teeth removed, but that it was going to cost more than $3,000—money I couldn't really cough up at that point. I also wasn't fully convinced then that the dental issues could be so incredibly destructive, so I let it go.

Fast forward to now. Recently, I had some health stuff going on that was odd and made zero sense based on how I am living my life these days, so I reopened the case on the old dental work, going back to the same dentist. This time I worked directly with Dr. Marvin at the Center For Natural Dentistry (before it was one of his assistant dentists), and he highly advised that I clean up this "mess," and that yes indeed it could be at the root of most if not all my issues, and/or only get worse with time.

Time to dig into the savings. I didn't want to go another day with this crap in my mouth.

I scheduled the procedure a couple weeks after my initial appointment, trying to fit it in best I could knowing we have a lot scheduled, i.e. we had plans to get SCUBA certified—so it had to be after that—and coming up is Ragnar SoCal and Boston Marathon, followed by some travel and our wedding—so I decided it would be best not to wait and do it before the races and travel. Granted, doing this procedure prior to Ragnar/Boston puts a huge damper on my training, but I don't give a shit. My health is a million gagillion times more important. There will be more years ahead to train and race, but knowing this issue was going on was something I couldn't live with ignoring any longer.


The procedure wasn't enjoyable, but Dr. Marvin is brilliant. He spent a long time with me describing the process and the meticulous attention to careful cleaning of the infected areas and making sure nothing infected was left behind. This entails a combo of tooth removal, drilling/scraping (or whatever they do, it sounds horrible), sanitizing with Ozone, and the coolest thing: injecting my own platelet-rich fibrin into the holes for accelerated healing and tissue regeneration. This meant I had a blood draw prior to the procedure, in which they took seven vials, spun those, handed the batch of tubes over to me, and I transported them to Dr. Marvin's office to be used during the procedure.

During the procedure, Dr. Marvin was practically cursing as he extracted the infected teeth, bone and tissue, discovering how bad it really way—he's pretty passionate about what he does. Then he said, "Your body is going to love not having these in your mouth!" I have pictures of the teeth and infected tissue/bone that was removed, and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to see the deterioration and infection. It's pretty gross though so I won't post it on this blog (if you want to see LMK in comments, and I'll email you).


The procedure was on a Monday, so for a couple days I was on the mush/liquid diet, and even had to cancel a podcast and client calls because I honestly couldn't talk well at all, the gauze didn't help... The first 12 hours or so, or until the bleeding stops, you have to keep a wad of gauze over the holes to help a clot form. Besides being uncomfortable, I wasn't in a lot of pain from this and I've always been impressed at how fast I heal. I only woke up in pain the first night, after that slept like a baby and never had an issue. I also do NOT take pain killers, but I did use arnica and ice.

Eating was fun at first ;) The first night for dinner (the day of the procedure) I cooked up a bunch of broccoli, mushrooms and veggies in bone broth, then put that in the vitamix for a broccoli-mushroom soup, adding collagen powder. It was delicious, and something I'd cook anyway. I also made some mean breakfast bowls of kabocha squash-avocado-coconut milk-collagen-cinnamon-nutmeg-vanilla, which came out tasting like pumpkin pie filling. Plus green juices, more bone broth, soups, etc.... I was just fine with the diet. That said, within a day I was able to upgrade to more soft-solid foods like chicken, fish, roasted carrots, avocado mash and sweet potatoes. By mid-week I was feeling like I could eat nearly anything.

Meanwhile, NO running for a week or two. Shoot. Over the weekend I did make it out walking and tested a slow jog--no go, I could tell it was not a wise idea and made the healing areas feel too throbby. I've had to accept that this is just my situation right now and not get too down that I haven't had better training. And in all actuality, I'm totally ok with it. Health first!

Did I feel better right away? Hard to tell. Dr. Marvin said healing time varies. Some people feel better instantly, some people it takes several weeks. I can't say I feel like a new person, but my gut has been incredibly strong and normal feeling since, and I've had a few other positive signs. I had a couple instants of testing some foods that normally upset my system and they were fine.

Maybe this was the final piece of the puzzle that was missing?


Your turn.

If you have one or more root canals, metal/amalgam fillings, or have had wisdom teeth removed by a "conventional" dentist, I'd highly suggest finding a holistic biological dentist who can do an exam to see if you're at risk, or a functional practitioner to take a look at your health from a holistic standpoint, i.e. test for immune function, infections, mercury toxicity, etc. If you have root canals I'd say without a doubt find a way to get them out asap! But only by a qualified holistic biological dentist who will do this procedure safely (some conventional dentists may remove the old tooth but not sanitize and clean up the infected area, then they seal it back up and the infection remains. Ugh.)

If you're in SoCal, check out Dr. Marvin at the Center For Natural Dentistry in Encinitas. I can get referrals for the LA area too if anyone inquires.

Bottom line is if you want to get closer to optimal living you have to look at all aspects, especially the condition of your mouth and past dental work you've had done.


More resources:

Why You Should Avoid Root Canals Like the Plague 

Root Canals and Jawbone Cavitations

Dr. Westin Price: Holistic Healthcare & Dental Cavitation Surgery 

Dr. Westin Price: Root Canal Dangers

If you want more info on the evils of root canals read this:

Monday, March 21, 2016

In-Depth Hormone Testing and The Value of Monitoring BBT Every Day

Health updates and why I want you to start monitoring your BBT!

Honing in on Hormones! 
It's one thing to get back to a normal period, it's another to get a deeper look inside to see assess hormone levels and the progression of a menstrual cycle. In January I decided it was time to some deeper hormonal investigation to see where I’m at, especially with pregnancy goals in the horizon (but don't hold your breath on that). I’ve had my period again for a while now—it came back January 2014 and was spotty for a while until August 2014 when it returned for good on a monthly basis, minus that few-month hiccup last fall from which I quickly recovered and learned my lesson that I’m still very sensitive to my type of “extreme” living and stress. 

So anyways, the month-long hormonal panel is called the BioHealth 208, that gives 17 readings of progesterone and estradiol levels throughout an entire menstrual cycle (basically a month-long test), as well as two measures of testosterone levels. I highly recommend getting this test from your practitioner if you’re on a similar path as me in regaining and/or balancing out hormones. If you haven't regained a period yet, however, wait off on this test and there are others that are more helpful (inquire in comments).

It starts on Day 2 of a new cycle every other day first thing in the morning before food or drink you spit saliva into a tube. This process continues until the start of the next period. I’m so used to the saliva tests by now, having done my first back in 2013. They’re awkward, but saliva is a much better way to monitor hormones than blood, and obviously the saliva is very DIY efficient. Some new tests like the DUTCH Test to measure hormones might even be a better way to gauge production and metabolism of hormonesand more bang for your buckbut that’s another topic for another day. 

Basal Body Temperature (BBT) 
As part of the test’s requirements and also for my own data collection, in conjunction to the saliva collections I measured basal body temperature (BBT) daily. BBT is your core temperature at complete rest, and it can tell you a lot about your fertility, hormones, health status, or any underlying issues like thyroid problems. Like HRV, our BBT is a direct window into our body, and it is a super easy and low-cost mechanism to assess your current state, health and overall well-being—and also figure when to make changes if needed. Also like HRV, measuring BBT in itself will do nothing to affect health, it's on you to go the next step to support what you need if indeed additional support is needed. It’s important to take BBT immediately upon rising before going pee, before hanging out in bed having a chat, before anything, for accuracy. Eyes open = thermometer in. 

You can use apps to record BBT instead of old-fashioned pen and paper. I use Kindara and love it.

It’s surprising to me how many women aren’t really familiar with BBT, what the numbers mean, why it’s important to measure it, or even ovulation and the menstrual cycle for that matter. So I’ll explain a bit and why I think it’s so valuable to understand these things if you want to own your health—as you should. And even if you think nothing is wrong right now, it's also good to measure BBT anyway so in case you have an issue in the future you have data from when things were "normal" with you.

BBT: Normal vs. Abnormal Readings 
 Waking temperature should be pretty static, ideally not below 97 degrees nor too high, i.e. not over over 98.9 degrees. A temp of roughly 97.2 to 98.5 degrees upon waking—depending where you’re at in a cycle, which we’ll get to—is considered normal. I don't like to see girls below 97.2. A low BBT in the 96s, 95s is not normal and associated with some problematic issues like hypothyroidism, a state of chronic caloric deficit, eating disorders, increased risk of fungal infection, etc. If your BBT is chronically low, i.e. below 97 degrees for 5-10 days or more then it’s definitely worth looking into to find out why. 

BBT and the Menstrual Cycle 
Basal body temp and the menstrual cycle are directly related so you can learn a lot about your female situation simply by taking your temperature upon waking. In the follicular phase, the first half of the cycle, BBT ranges from 97.0 to 97.7 degrees. Upon ovulation and into the luteal phase, the second half of the cycle, BBT increases to roughly 97.8 to 98.3 degrees or more. At the end of a cycle your BBT on a chart should look something like this: 

This is my BBT chart from the Kindara app. You see the overall trend in BBT readings, which pretty much line up with what you want to see in normal functioning. You may take note that my cycle is a tad long still, we're hoping it will normalize over time as cycles of 32 days or less are ideal for conception.

Notice lower temps in the first half, a very clear spike in temp (ovulation) and higher temps in the second half before the start of another period in which temperature drops back down and the cycle continues. 

For a woman, there’s really no excuse to not get in the habit of monitoring BBT as much as possible, ideally every day. I know it’s hard to form new habits, but set yourself up for success by having your thermometer and phone app to record BBT right next to your bed, and just get into the routine—as mentioned, you must measure BBT before you sit up or get up and especially measure before your first morning pee, even laying in bed and chatting or rolling around will increase temperature and it’s crucial to get that core resting temp for accurate information. It took me a few days to remember to measure BBT, but once I got in the habit it was an automatic response as soon as my eyes opened. Even since the month-long hormone test, I’m still measuring BBT daily. 

BioHealth Test Results
So my BioHealth 208 panel showed amazingly rad results that seriously had me fist-pumping and feeling very proud like hard work is paying off. I have normal and near-perfect levels of progesterone and estradiol—and the progression of each throughout my cycle look spot-on for a healthy female who has a healthy normal menstrual cycle. In fact my functional doc said my hormone levels and the curves they form when charted out (i.e. the spikes and drops over the course of a month) look better than 90 percent of patients she sees! No longer is low/no progesterone a problem of mine, oh ya!

In terms of the progression of my cycle, my chart showed a clear spike in estrogen, a very clear and strong ovulation midway, and a clear spike in progesterone—each hormone forming a "beautiful curve" as my doc put it. See the graphic below for a visual of this. Of course, ovulation is also key to getting pregnant. 

The menstrual cycle. Note how the BBT readings line up.

Comparing Present and Past
These results are a far stretch from where I was at in 2013. A saliva test I did in June 2013 showed no signs of a menstrual cycle (no surprise) and pretty much no signs of sex hormones either. My progesterone levels were literally measured at 1 (the range on this test was 80-270 pg/ml)—and that might as well have been none. Estradiol, DHEA, testosterone were also scarily low for female norms, as was my PG/E2 ratio (i.e. progesterone to estradiol ratio), which was reflective of what you’d see in perimenopause and postmenopausal womenat age 28. 

Everything was bottomed out, except for cortisol—not surprising at all actually. My cortisol wasn’t off the charts, but it was on the high end in the morning and afternoon, and I’m sure I was in some phase of adrenal fatigue. As this relates to sex hormones, it’s very likely that I was deep into the pregnenalone steal—more cortisol production was taking priority over production of all other hormones to support my high-stress go-go-go lifestyle, and my body saw no need to push for sex hormone production given the environment I created… and as the story goes this can only go on for so long before you tank, which I did later that fall in ’13. 

Since then, as I’ve shared openly, I’ve worked incredibly hard to adopt a lifestyle that supports a healthy period and healthy hormones—and doing so while not having to totally give up my love for endurance sports and an active lifestyle. It hasn’t been easy, and there have been slip-ups, but I think I’m getting used to what I need for steady rockin' hormones. Supplements have certainly been involved along the way, but really it's more about lifestyle and your mental state that fosters the best results.

Finding A Normal BBT Over Time, and Tie-In With Thyroid
Going back to the BBT, interestingly, in 2013 I tracked BBT for a while in July and August of that year (after the hormone test showing I was bottomed out), and my numbers were consistently 96.5 to 97.1 degrees, never over that. A red flag for sure, and this lined up with the other health issues I was exhibiting and lifestyle choices I was making—training for 70.3 worlds and a tough-ass Ironman.

BBT got back to being more normal in 2014 and 2015, but I’ll be honest I rarely measured it—just hadn’t adopted the habit. 

Then, when I was going through a bit of a hiccup lat fall I started measuring my BBT again and saw it dropping into the 96’s several times. Uh oh. At that point, we also saw that my thyroid was acting up—or should I say down—I was definitely exhibiting some hypothyroid issues. (I now have a clue as to why thyroid function decreased; more on that to come.)

I got back on track quickly in December '15 by taking a few simple steps to re-balance out my life, rest, etc, and put a halt to being in that chronic high-stress state. My BBT, hormones and period followed suite. As of this year my BBT is solidly in the 97’s to 98’s every day and never once below 97 degrees. Most days in the first phase of my cycle it’s high 97’s, and into the second phase it stays in the 98 range. 

Interestingly, in January/February my thyroid was still wonky, including symptoms of fatigue and quick weight gain, which I didn't freak out about but I was still a bit shocked since I hadn't changed anything in my diet or exercising habits. We tested with a full thyroid panel and got answers, at which point I started thyroid support including lifestyle and nutrition “hacks” and taking an all-natural non-synthetic supplement for thyroid—just one!—called GTA Forte II. By late February a third blood test showed my thyroid numbers—TSH, T3, T4—were all back to normal. And my weight also returned to normal, in the 133-135lb range.

Pretty cool what you can do to by taking charge of your health and understanding what’s really going, then implementing the right lifestyle and nutrition/supplemental support for healthy living. 

Take Action
Go buy a thermometer now if you don't have one. And get Kindara too. And if you really are curious to know more or figure out that reason why you're not functioning optimally right now (i.e. can't lose weight, tired, amenorrhea, etc) it might be time for not only new blood labs but some more detailed hormone testing too. Don't put it off, invest in YOU!