Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Histona Story

Your faithful blogger is happy to report that she is in her last semester of medical school. After three and a half long years of studying, exam-taking, and practicing my nascent skills on patients who were, and are, well…very patient, I will launch out into the world as a practicing doctor in a few short months. But before that, I am pleased to be on another shift at University of Bridgeport with my favorite naturopathic doctor, the inimitable Peter D’Adamo. I am also working with him (and his colleague, my other favorite doctor Ginger Nash) at his clinic in Wilton two days a week. To say that I am excited about the exposure I am getting to Dr. D’Adamo’s body of knowledge and the GenoType system is something of an understatement. I’m seeing patients heal in ways I never thought possible, and this is largely through minimal intervention. But the protocols we are prescribing are highly personalized and highly specific, so they work in ways conventional approaches sometimes fall short. Too, the approach is natural, which is the direction healthcare consumers are increasingly demanding.

So, with that said, I am happy to say that I am returning to writing more regularly about patient cases, and the treatments we carry out. I dare say you’re not going to find this level of exposure to one of the greatest minds in natural medicine anywhere else, so stay tuned.

I founded this blog to inform my fellow naturopathic medical students about the kind of work Dr. D’Adamo is doing; many of them had expressed interest and curiosity about epigenetics and the application of the science behind D’Adamo’s work. But I hope to continue to write in more layman’s language so more people can understand. If you have any questions or comments, please keep sending them. Or if you’re interested in some topic in particular, let me know and I’ll try to incorporate it into the blog.

Monday morning, 10 a.m. There are six students working on the shift this semester, three fourth-year students and three third-years. Ten a.m. seems like a very leisurely start time to most of us, used to 7:30 classes and we are all in good spirits as we gather on our first day of seeing patients on shift. But the chit-chat quickly comes to a close as we begin a review of the six patients we will see. My first patient is Paolo, an easy-going 34-year old Argentinian who works in Manhattan as a personal assistant (“just to somebody rich, not famous” he replied to my nosy questioning). A friend of his had referred him to the clinic and he was there for the primary purpose of wanting to lose weight. Two years ago he put on about 40 pounds after quitting smoking and now he had a bad sugar habit that put him about 50 pounds overweight. His body impedence analysis showed, though, that his cells were functioning quite well, which indicated that his body was actually in good shape: his intra- versus extracellular water ratio was excellent and his phase angle (which is a measurement of the body’s overall health) was actually quite high at 8.2 (the higher the better). As Dr. D’Adamo said when he came in to consult, inside Paolo was an athlete who had gotten a bit off track with a lazy diet and sedentary lifestyle. We calculated him as an Explorer GenoType (for explanations on the various GenoTypes, see previous my blogs), gave him a strict prescription for exercise and gave him a few supplements: Polyflora O for some slightly gastrointestinal dysbiosis and Histona for metabolic function. We also ran a series of thyroid labs on him because of a family history of hypothyroidism. More on Histona after I introduce our second patient.

“He’s hungry,” warns 12-year old Mati’s mother as we fetch them from the lobby. Because we do a breath hydrogen test (that measures levels of bad bacteria in the gut) we need patients to arrive fasting. It’s past noon, and so I don’t blame Mati—who has a huge grin and red hair—for being a bit fed up with battery of blood tests we run on him before running him upstairs to begin taking his history and doing GenoType measurements. Mati is Hasidic and one of 10 children; his mom looks so young, trim and well-rested that I truly can barely imagine how she has five children who are already married. Ellen tells us that he has a difficult time concentrating and can’t fall asleep. He’s clearly a bright kid, and a keen observer; and happy, for that matter—he laughs loudly as we all crack jokes throughout the appointment. A doctor they see in Brooklyn put him on a Ritalin-equivalent that robs him of his appetite, which was barely present to start. Impedence testing revealed Mati to be, like Paolo, pretty healthy. What’s clear in Mati is that his nervous system had become off-kilter and simply needed to be reset.

The reasons for this were unclear. He reported having anxiety about not being able to fall asleep; clearly the kid was a budding insomniac and we were going to do our best to head this off as soon as possible. Mati came out as a Teacher (A+ Secretors with a lean body type are often Teachers) and we walked him and his mom through the diet. Since Mati subsisted on carbs alone, the change was going to be difficult. He was going to have to stay off wheat and introduce more of the superfood vegetables and proteins, such as turkey, salmon, eggs, yogurt, soy and kale. Mati looked at me with great suspicion when I asked him to limit the cookies. D’Adamo also gave this patient Histona, but this time for its effects on neurobiology. We also gave him Cortiguard (to stabilize his cortisol levels) and zinc (which is often low in patients with ADD). I also suggested that they seek out a kids’ yoga class, which would help Mati relax and focus.

Now, what exactly is in Histona that makes it good for someone who wants to lose weight and someone who has neurobiological problems? The answer is magnolia: yes, the beautiful pink magnolia flower. Magnolia is one of the only bioflavanoids that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Magnolia is one thousand times more potent as an antioxidant than vitamin E and specifically targets the brain cells. Its main components are honokiol and magnalol. Both of these have strong anti-anxiety effects and have been shown in studies to have cortisol-lowering effects; remember cortisol dysregulation is what’s keeping Mati up at night. Cortisol should peak upon waking and fall throughout the day. Mati’s is rising when it should be at its lowest. For Paolo’s metabolism, magnolia is excellent because of the same cortisol-regulating effect. High cortisol will effectively slow down the metabolism by hindering thyroid function and also by increasing insulin release, which causes the body to store unused calories as fat.

The key is cortisol. We see so many patients with cortisol dysregulation layered on top of other pathologies that I’m starting to believe that stress truly is the gateway to most illnesses. A recent study published in JAMA said, “"Effects of stress on regulation of immune and inflammatory processes have the potential to influence depression, infectious, autoimmune, and coronary artery disease, and at least some (e.g., viral) cancers." Dr D’Adamo told me, “Stress can be both provocateur and co-factor. In our line of work stress is an especially important factor, since when it does factor into the equation it is a sure sign that the compensatory mechanisms are no longer up to the task. I like to think of stress as the water that finds the crack in the sidewalk, which then seeps in and freezes, further weakening the structure.” We’ll check back in with these two patients in a couple of months.

For more on Histona, click here:



  1. I was also at the clinic for the first time on Mon. Great experience. VERY interesting stuff!!! I'm excited to read more here. Thank you!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks! Angela