- Cindy is 42 years-old, loves to work out and enjoys the outdoors
- Lately, she’s been tired, foggy, out of breath, weak, and struggling to recover from her workouts.
- Her doctor ran a number of tests that revealed nothing.
One of the biggest clues for me was that this all started after a particularly stressful time in Cindy’s life. I was also suspicious of her gardening practices. Immediately I knew there was an answer to this health mystery and I was going to start my investigation on the cellular level. My sense was that it had something to do with how her cells were making (or not making in her case) energy and what was happening in her mitochondria.
My guest on today’s show, Dr. Tim Jackson, is a Functional Endocrinologist, a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), and an expert in nutritional biochemistry and mitochondrial health.
What are Mitochondria?
Mitochondria are the ‘batteries’ of your cells that make the energy for our cells. This energy is necessary for our day to day biochemical reactions such as detoxification, hormone production, and neurotransmitter production in the brain. They also have a communication role in the body, sending out signals when the body is in jeopardy. Like the nervous systems fight or flight response, the mitochondria trigger a ‘cell danger response’ that tells the cells to only produce survival levels of energy when stress is detected. Being in this state can leave you feeling “wired and tired.”
Symptoms of Mitochondrial Dysfunction
Mitochondria are at work in various different systems of the body, so symptoms of poorly functioning mitochondria vary depending on which system or organs are involved. The highest concentration of mitochondria are in the nervous system, brain system, and the spinal cord. For this reason, the most commonly experienced symptoms are of a low functioning brain or nervous system. This might present as brain fog, memory issues, poor concentration, mood swings, and sleep challenges. However, it can also be muscle fatigue, or even heart issues.
Causes of Mitochondrial Dysfunction
Extreme stress can certainly push the mitochondria into ‘cell danger response’, however minor stress along with other factors can trigger mitochondrial dysfunction. For example, environmental toxins like glyphosate (the chemical found in Roundup) can accumulate in the body and cause a mitochondrial reaction. Mitochondria damage can also be caused by other pesticides, some heavy metals, hormonal imbalances, sleep issues, mold exposure, and chronic infections. Every bit of exposure adds up. When you add stress to the equation, the damage can become too much and symptoms develop.
Testing for Mitochondrial Dysfunction
There are a variety of ways to determine if the mitochondria are compromised. The first is a blood test however, Dr. Jackson feels these are not specific enough to really pinpoint the issue. He prefers a more accurate test – an organic acids test that looks at the number of different metabolic byproducts. There are other tests that are used in other parts of the world, but this one reveals a lot about the state of mitochondria health. Once the organic acids test reveals the issue, there are other tests that can help determine the cause.
Treating Compromised Mitochondrial
Dr. Jackson recommends a three pronged approach:
- Addressing the cause of the mitochondria damage. This can be determined with a test followed by a detoxification of the offending chemical or trigger. And, helping the mitochondria return to optimal levels with supplements such as Co Q 10, and Carnitine.
- Repairing the mitochondrial membrane through a specific supplement course that both pushes the toxins out while rehabilitating the membrane.
- Protecting the mitochondria from damage or re-injury by taking an antioxidant enzyme. One popular way to do that is with molecular hydrogen. This is a very tiny molecule that stimulates the production of new mitochondria while quenching existing free radicals to allow damaged mitochondria to recover.
Potential Side Effects
Any time you increase cellular energy production there is the chance that noticeable biochemical reactions may occur. This might be improved immune function or improved detoxification which can trigger ‘die off’ reactions.
Support Mitochondrial Health with Lifestyle
Mitochondrial dysfunction may be avoidable and Dr. Jackson recommends a few lifestyle choices that can help, particularly as it relates to sleep as sleep has a direct impact on mitochondrial health. He encourages people to abide by the natural circadian rhythm. This helps to regulate biochemical reactions and hormonal systems that can impact mitochondrial health. This can look like getting up with the sun and going to bed with the sun. It also has to do with blue light (which we get from the sun but also artificial blue light that comes from electronics). He recommends that people wear daytime glasses that negate the blue screen of a computer, get sunlight within the first 30 minutes of waking (and another 30 minutes in the afternoon), and consider using red light or near infrared light therapy.
Cindy’s issues were definitely related to her mitochondrial health. I did an organic acids test and discovered that her levels were way off where mitochondria were concerned. Further tests showed that she was deficient in many B vitamins, CoQ10 and Carnitine.
The cause of this imbalance could be traced back to that stressful time that she’d experienced. Also she’d been generously using Roundup in her garden recently which meant she’d been exposed to glyphosate, a known toxin.
The first step in her recovery was to replace the toxic Roundup with natural weed control options. Next, we had to detoxify her body using a product called Bitter X. Cindy also revised her sleep habits to get her circadian rhythm back on track.
With the causes out of the way we went to work in supporting and rebuilding her mitochondria with supplements including molecular hydrogen.
Cindy started to feel better after just 3 weeks. While she was keen to get back to her workouts, it was important to give her mitochondria some time to rehabilitate. After 6 weeks, she did resume her workouts and reported that 3 months after starting treatment, she was feeling completely back to normal.
Eliminating Health Mysteries
For Cindy we were able to find that missing piece of the health puzzle and help her regain her health. Could compromised mitochondria be the missing clue for you or someone in your life?
Thanks to my guest Dr. Tim Jackson. You can connect with him here: www.healyourbody.org
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