The British Naturopathic Association's annual Study Day on June 23rd 2012 will have the theme of Naturopathic Approaches to Endocrinology. MIfHI graduates, Drs. Tom and Jacqueline Greenfield, are presenting a lecture entitled: A Nutrigenomic Approach to Endocrinology. A summary of their lecture follows:
Medical endocrinologists typically deal with major hormonal imbalances pharmacologically. A reductionistic approach to the body perceives the organ which is producing increased or decreased levels of hormones as the source of the organic dysfunction; the "cure" is either hormone replacement therapy, suppression of excess hormone production or blocking receptor sites. In the same way, nutritional supplementation can be used to make up for deficiencies or excess to directly enhance or suppress the function of specific hormonal pathways. However this is not necessarily treating the patient as a whole: it could be seen as linear thinking, not looking for the reason behind the disturbance in homoeostasis, or whether the cause of the imbalance is still there. As naturopaths how can we support health in the patient with endocrine-related disorders using natural methods and a more holistic approach?
Nutrigenomics has brought a growing awareness of the potential for modification of food intake to promote health and reduce the risk of diet-related diseases. It is a way of altering the expression of genes through nutrition: a nutrigenomic perspective views nutrients as cell-signalling mechanisms which are detected by sensors in the cell: a variation in nutrient levels triggers a cellular mechanism which changes gene expression, protein and metabolite production. This can restore balance in many body systems where the individual's genes have been programmed during gestation to survive in an environment in which they no longer find themselves.
In our presentation we discuss ways of influencing hormonal pathways through diet and nutritional supplementation at the level of the gene using the example of types of thyroid dysfunction and diabetes. We also look at a commonly-supplemented hormone in detail: vitamin D, it's role in many disease processes; we review a hypothesis for the role of vitamin D3 and it's metabolite in dysregulation of androgen and glucocorticoid receptors in autoimmune disease.
Knowing what diseases to prevent and how to address existing illness is the key to individualised medicine. As naturopaths we can target prevention to the specific disease tendencies of the individual rather than assume everyone will get the same illnesses. We present a system devised by Dr. Peter D'Adamo ND which looks at three overriding responses to the environment: reactive, thrifty and tolerant, further refined by gene clusters, or haplotypes, in proximity to the blood group gene on 9q34. We discuss simple in-clinic biomarkers that can be used to assess the patient's epigenetics: how to determine their disease susceptibilities and which preventive measures may be the most appropriate for them; in the presence of an existing disorder, how to know which pathways to upregulate or downregulate through dietary intervention. We also discuss an educational opportunity for practitioners and the informed public to become certified in human individuality.
Other speakers at the event are Dr. Marilyn Glenville Ph.D., nutritionist specialising in women’s health, Alison Cullen, education manager at Bioforce UK, and Marian Baartz MSc., Iridologist. The event is open to non-members of the British Naturopathic Association.