NATUROPATHIC PREGNANCY CARE – NUTRITION
Nutrition counseling is an important component of Dr Nicola’s Natural Preconception Program™. Good nutrition is vitally important to all stages of life, especially before conception occurs. Most women are aware of the recommendation to take extra folate during pregnancy, however it is not enough to start taking it when you realize you are pregnant. By then, 6-8 weeks of the pregnancy may have passed. Most birth defects occur when the fetus’s spinal column is fusing which happens about 2 weeks after the first menstrual period. During that time many women will not yet know that they are pregnant.
Specific nutrients have also been indicated for dad. The Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Science (February 1992) published a study which demonstrated a direct relationship between a diet low in vitamin C and increased DNA damage in sperm cells. The consequences include infertility and decreased sperm function in perspective fathers and some birth defects and cancers in their offspring.
Prospective parents should follow as ‘clean’ a diet as possible. This minimizes exposure to pesticides, fertilizers, hormones and other chemicals that may adversely affect the health of both parents and baby. The optimal diet will contain plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, hormone-free eggs and meat, and low-mercury fish such as wild Alaskan salmon. Filtered water is the drink of choice!
Refined sugars should be avoided as they challenge the blood sugar management systems, cause excess insulin release, and lower immune function. Artificial sweeteners are not much better, being made largely of chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. The best sweeteners are stevia and xylitol, which are plant based and just as sweet as sugar; and in smaller quantities, natural raw honey and maple syrup.
As previously mentioned, Dr. Nicola believes in parents following a gluten, dairy and soy free diet in the months leading up to conception, both to minimize inflammation in their body and to avoid adverse food reactions within the baby in later years.
Appropriate supplementation will be discussed in this part of the program. A high quality prenatal vitamin and mineral should be started early. Essential fatty acids are also important. Probiotics will help keep the gut in balance by providing healthy flora. Remedies such as Pregnancy Prep by Vitanica help support hormone balance and prepare the uterus for conception and pregnancy.
This part of the program also assesses lifestyle factors such as alcohol intake, marijuana use, exercise programs, sleep patterns and stress management skills. All of these issues are vital to producing a healthy, happy baby.
NATUROPATHIC PREGNANCY CARE – DETOX
Once the body is well supported with good nutrition and basic supplementation, the process of detoxification can begin. Detoxification is important to reduce chemicals in the body that may be harmful to a developing fetus. These chemicals can come from food, water, medications, the air we breathe, and some are made within our bodies.
The liver is the major organ of detoxification, although the skin, lungs, kidneys and bowels are important channels of elimination. If the liver is sluggish or overburdened, its capacity to detoxify will be limited.
There are three parts to assisting the body in detox. One is reducing the toxic load through better nutrition, filtered water, avoiding smoke and other toxic chemicals, minimizing alcohol intake and synthetic medications. The fewer toxins go in, the fewer the body has to remove.
The second is helping the liver to upregulate both its phase I and phase II detox pathways. There are many ways to do this, including all of the above, but supplementation definitely helps the process. Dr. Nicola recommends a four week liver detox program. For the first five days, the gall bladder is flushed with a drink comprising orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and cayenne pepper (strangely not as bad as it sounds!). During that time, and for the remainder of the month, Detox Factors are given, which is a supplement containing nutrients, herbs and amino acids to help the liver detoxify.
The third aspect to detox is opening up the channels of elimination, so that toxins can be excreted. Extra fiber can help sweep the bowel, homeopathic remedies or teas can be used to support the kidneys, exercise is the best for both the lungs and the skin as it encourages oxygen/ carbon dioxide exchange and sweating. Infra red saunas are great for detox, but can be difficult to access.
Epsom salts baths are started in the detox phase, at least 3-4 nights per week. Epsom salt is the name given to magnesium sulfate, which can be absorbed into the body through the skin. Soaking in Epsom salt for at least 12 minutes in warm water increases blood magnesium levels. Magnesium is involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body including proper electrolyte function, calcium absorption and assisting enzymes in the breaking down of food.
Soaking in Epsom salt also increases the sulfur levels in the blood. Because the sulfur is already in the sulfate form, it does not need to be converted like other forms of sulfur do. It is absorbed through the skin and may circulate through the body for up to 9 hours. Sulfate is necessary for the breakdown and removal of certain toxins in the body. The result is a decrease in swelling and a decrease in the harmful effects of a toxin build-up. Soaking in Epsom salt assists in the detoxification process.
Some people who have a high toxic burden, or who are very sensitive, may experience a “detox reaction” when embarking on a detox program. Headaches, fatigue, nausea etc may occur, as the body tries to throw off toxins. This can be unpleasant but generally only lasts a few days. Alka Seltzer Gold, vitamin C (especially Emergen-C) and Siberian Ginseng can be helpful for getting through this stage.
If an individual seems particularly sensitive, Dr. Nicola will start them on a homeopathic detox program to help open up the lymph channels and work more on a cellular basis. The Heel Detox Kit is perfect for this.
NATUROPATHIC PREGNANCY CARE – CHELATION
Addressing heavy metal toxicity is one of the most important things you can do in preparing for pregnancy. Metals such as mercury and lead can place your developing baby at significant risk for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.
Mercury is considered the most toxic, non-radioactive element on the planet. Once it enters the body it remains in the blood stream for 3-6 weeks, after which time it leaves the blood and enters every organ and every cell in the body.
Amalgams account for 85% of our exposure to mercury. A typical amalgam with a 0.4 cm surface releases ~17 mcg mercury per day, mostly as a result of chewing. If a person has 8 amalgams that would result in ~136 mcg of mercury being released as elemental mercury vapor. Of this ~17mcg would get absorbed every day of the next 70 years. 17mcg/day would also get be absorbed by the pregnant mother every day during a 270 day pregnancy. We are appropriately concerned with the 237 mcg of mercury injected into our children over their first two years in the vaccines, however, of equal concern is the 4590 mcg given to the mother-fetus over the more vulnerable 9 month gestation.
60,000 babies per year in the US are born with neurodevelopmental disorders due to neonatal exposure to mercury – mercury is bioconcentrated by the placenta during gestation and has been found to concentrate 8 fold in the fetus. Mercury is transported in breast milk and breast milk may promote better absorption of mercury by the nursing infant (this is not a recommendation to not breastfeed – breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for an infant, more a plea to address maternal mercury exposure long before the baby is conceived).
The key in reducing mercury exposure is removing amalgam fillings. However, this must be done long before conception occurs (at least 4 months), and in a way that is safe and will not simply set free an abundance of mercury vapor for the future mother to inhale. There are many excellent environmental dentists who are trained in safe amalgam removal – beware your local dentist who claims to be able to do it but does not seem too concerned with safety precautions such as dental dams.
If pregnancy occurs while amalgam fillings are still present, do not have any dental work during the pregnancy – even cleanings. This can increase the leaching of mercury from the fillings.
Chelation therapy can then help to “mop up” mercury and other metals in the body such as lead and aluminum. A chelating agent is an agent that binds metals and assists in their elimination from the body. Examples are DMPS, DMSA and Ca-EDTA. Natural agents such as cilantro, garlic and chlorella may have some chelating properties also, and can play an important role in the chelation process.
Just as there are several different chelating agents, there are also several routes of administration, each with their pros and cons. Transdermal creams are easy to apply, non-invasive, and allow for slow, consistent chelation. However, they may not be quite strong enough for adults (Dr. Nicola uses transdermals with kids routinely, with good results). IV’s provide a stronger push and a larger dump of metals, but are more invasive, can be time consuming, and one needs to be near a practitioner who is equipped and experienced with IV’s. Injections are a compromise – sufficiently potent to eke out the metals without the time commitment of an IV. Mobile medics are usually able to administer injections as they only take five minutes. Oral chelating agents are another option – the capsules are convenient to take, but oral DMPS and DMSA have been known to worsen yeast overgrowth. Transdermal and IV/ injection forms avoid this problem. Recently, Ca-EDTA suppositories have been used with good results. EDTA has a stronger affinity for lead, and so should be used along with DMSA or DMPS to reach the mercury too.
Challenge tests are run to monitor the progress of chelation therapy. During a challenge test, a larger than normal dose of a chelating agent is given, and the urine collected for 8 hours to measure levels of mercury and other metals coming out. This is repeated every 3 months during the chelation process, as are tests for blood cell counts, liver function and kidney function. Once the urine samples show very low levels of metals coming out, chelation can be discontinued.
The chelation process should be finished at least 3 months prior to conception to prevent fetal exposure to mobilized metals. Supplements such as chlorella, chitosan and fiber blends will assist in the binding of metals, particularly in the gut, helping them be excreted.
NATUROPATHIC PREGNANCY CARE – HEALTHY HOME
Many people forget that their home is potentially their number one exposure to many different toxins. Cleaning agents, laundry powder, flame-retardant clothing and bedding, and carpets, to name just a few, can be sources of toxic stress. Replacing chemical cleaning products with more natural ones can make a big difference. Your local health food store will carry many different items including washing powder, washing up liquid, surface cleaners and more.
An ionic air purifier can help remove dust and other particles from the air that can contribute to allergies and inflammation within the body.
Magnetic mattress pads are very helpful. We all depend on a magnetic field to survive, and our every cell in our bodies is electromagnetic in nature. We have two sources of magnetic energy – the Earth, and our brains. When they are working together in harmony we have what is called magnetic resonance, and in this state the chemical reactions within our bodies are enhanced and we are better able to repair cellular damage, make enzymes etc. Unfortunately, the magnetic field of the earth has declined up to 80% over the last 4000 years, while external “man made” electromagnetic frequencies have increased. The result is that we are left feeling fatigued, our cellular reactions are not as efficient, our sleep is compromised, and our DNA and RNA are less able to repair themselves.
The good news is that these deficiency states can be overcome by providing an enhanced steady-state magnetic field (like the Earth’s) to the body during sleep. In North America, the magnetic field must be pure Negative(-) and completely pass through the body, in order to complement the Negative(-) field of the Northern Hemisphere.
Magnetico Sleep Pads are the only system with pure negative fields. More information can be obtained at www.magneticosleep.com. It is advised that you start sleeping on a Magnetico mattress pad at least 2 months prior to conception. Studies have shown these pads enhance detox, especially of heavy metals, so if you do not start prior to detox, you must wait until after your pregnancy to start. Anecdotal reports tell us that mother’s who slept on a mattress pad during their pregnancy had an easier delivery and happier baby than those who did not.
NATUROPATHIC PREGNANCY CARE – SUPPLEMENTS
NATUROPATHIC PREGNANCY CARE – PROTOCOLS
Below is an example of a pre-conception supplement protocol that may be used in Dr Nicola’s Natural Preconception Program™. The following is not intended as medical advice; it is for educational purposes only. Please note that some of the supplements listed absolutely should not be taken during pregnancy. That is why timing is so important, and why programs need be individually tailored.
Basic Supplement Support:
Pre-natal Multi: 4 caps 2x daily Ensures basic nutrient needs being met
Pregnancy Prep: 2 caps 2x daily Herbs to tonify uterus & balance hormones
EPA/ DHA Essentials: 1 cap 3x daily Source of essential fatty acids
Ther-Biotic Complete: 1-2 caps daily Probiotic for healthy gut flora
Multi-mineral: 1 cap daily To provide extra mineral support
Freeze-dried Garlic: 2 caps 3x daily Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic
Para-Guard: 3 caps 2x daily Anti-parasitic
MycoPryl: 1 cap 3x daily Anti-fungal, good for Candida
Detox – Phase 1:
Homeopathic Detox Kit: 30 drops daily Gentle start to a detox program
Epsom Salts Baths: 3-4x weekly Helps detox, promotes relaxation
Detox – Phase 2:
Detox Factors: 2 caps 2x daily Promotes phase 1 & 2 liver detox
Blue Heron Fiber Blend: 3 caps 2x daily Binds metal in gut, aids bowel elimination
Cilantro Tincture: 12 drops in water Helps clearance of mercury from brain
Chlorella: 5 caps 3x daily Binds metal in gut, aids chelation
Saunas (FIR or other): 3-4x weekly Helps detox through sweating
Epsom salts baths: 3-4x weekly Helps detox, promotes relaxation
Detox – Phase 3:
Chlorella: 5 caps 3x daily Binds metal in gut, aids chelation
Blue Heron Fiber Blend: 3 caps 2x daily Binds metal in gut, aids bowel elimination
Freeze-dried Garlic: 2 caps 3x daily Anti-microbial, helps metal detox
Example protocol 1: DMPS 3-5mg/kg given by injection once per month
Detoxamin EDTA suppositories used every other day
Example protocol 2: DMPS 3mg/kg given by injection monthly (1st weekend)
Ca-EDTA given by injection monthly (3rd weekend)
Example protocol 3: Oral DMSA given 3mg/kg, 3x daily; 3 days on, 11 days off
Example protocol 4: Transdermal DMPS 1.5mg/kg (max 50mg) every other night
Detoxamin EDTA suppositories given on alternate nights