RHR: What to do about nausea, reactions to sugar, and carrageenan

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We’re back with another Q&A episode.

In this episode, we cover:

6:12 Is carrageenan bad?
13:41 Could too much protein make adrenal fatigue worse?
15:36 Potential causes for mysterious nausea (and what to do about it)
21:50 Does foul-smelling gas mean anything?
23:53 Could CoQ10 increase LDL particle number?
27:12 What to do about constipation and endotoxemia
30:50 The real reason you’re reacting to sugar
35:42 Is colloidal silver effective?
37:55 What Chris ate for breakfast (we didn’t forget this time…)

Links We Discuss

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Full Text Transcript:

Steve Wright:  Hey, everyone.  Welcome to another episode of the Revolution Health Radio Show.  This show is brought to you by ChrisKresser.com.  I’m your host, Steve Wright.  My website is SCDLifestyle.com.  And with me is integrative medical practitioner and healthy skeptic, Chris Kresser.  Chris, how’s everything going with all this book drama and hoopla?

Chris Kresser:  Well, it’s great, actually.  The final manuscript is due on Monday, and it’s been a lot of work, for sure, over the past few weeks.  I think I might have mentioned when I first finished the rough draft it was nearly 700 pages, which there might be some crazy people out there listening to this who would buy my 700-page book, but unfortunately you’re in the minority.  We want this to be appealing and attractive to a broad audience, and at 700 pages, it would be a literal doorstopper and expensive and all that, so I had to get it down to around 425, something like that.  Obviously I had to do a lot of cutting to get there, and it’s pretty close, so I’m excited about that.  And the best part is that all that extra material is not just going away.  It’s going to be available to book buyers on the website and in other electronic formats.

Steve Wright:  Yeah, otherwise you could probably do, like, volume one, volume two, like the old encyclopedia sets, you know?

Chris Kresser:  Yeah, right!  That’s probably what I should have done.  But as many of you know, the book became available for pre-orders… I guess, was that two weeks ago, Steve?  On Wednesday?

Steve Wright:  I believe so, yeah.

Chris Kresser:  Yeah.  That was fun to watch.  I didn’t know what to expect, but it was really exciting to see it get up to #1 on the Movers & Shakers list on Amazon, and it got up to about #170 or #160 overall in all books on Amazon, which, I think, is pretty great considering that it’s more than five months away that it’s going to be published, and that was largely on the basis of pre-order.  So I just want to thank all of you that pre-ordered the book and helped generate this excitement.  I’m really grateful for your support, and it was really fun for me, and it felt really good to see that kind of enthusiasm and positive feedback for the book just because the process of writing a book is pretty solo and individual.  I’m just kind of in my world, banging my fingers away at the keyboard and looking at the screen.  And then all of a sudden it just became much more relational to hear about people’s excitement about it and to see that response, so that was really gratifying.

Steve Wright:  Yeah, those are some pretty awesome jumps, and we definitely have to thank everyone that stepped out there and supported Chris.  I know I did, and it’s just super cool to have that happen.  Did you celebrate with, like, a shot of cod liver oil or anything?

Chris Kresser:  You know, I should have taken more time to celebrate.  I think celebration is important at milestones like that, and too often we don’t take the time to do that.  We went out to dinner with some friends and family, and that was great.  But because of the timeline of the book being so crazy, there really wasn’t much time to just shift gears and go into celebration mode for very long… and I don’t think that’s really going to happen until after the book is finished, unfortunately!  I have a busy few months ahead.

Steve Wright:  Well, if you let me, I will start the party planning.

Chris Kresser:  OK!

Steve Wright:  I’m outside of your realm.  I’m not in your wheelhouse now with all that stress, but I think Jordan and I can start the party planning.  We’ll get something set up for about the middle of January.

Chris Kresser:  Sounds good, Steve.  And don’t get me wrong.  It’s been fun.  I’ve been having a lot of fun along the way, and we have a lot of cool stuff planned, too, between now and when the book launches.  We just launched the Insiders Circle, as I’m sure a lot of you saw, which is just for people who want to kind of stay connected to the whole book process.  We’ll be offering free bonus chapters, editor’s cut kind of material that’s getting cut and is not making it to the final print version of the book, and then we’re going to do some cool paleo makeovers for people that are part of that list.  And then later on in the process we’re going to be launching some bundles, you know, if you buy five books, you get a lot of cool stuff along with that, kind of like a Kickstarter campaign but without the fundraising element, just the cool bundles.  And then we’re going to do a video testimonial campaign pretty soon where I’m going to personally guide people through a 30-day challenge and support them through that process, and they’re going to do a video before, during, and after so that we can show people what this is really about and how powerful it is.

Steve Wright:  That’s going to be awesome.  Can’t wait.

Chris Kresser:  All right, so let’s dive in and answer some questions, Q&A episode.

Steve Wright:  Whoa, whoa, whoa, Chris.  You have to get some water, man.  I have to tell these people about Beyond Paleo.

Chris Kresser:  All right.

Steve Wright:  All right.  So take a break.

If you’re new to this podcast, if you’re new to the paleo diet, or maybe you’re just tuning in because you’ve heard about Chris’ book, please go over to his website.  You’re going to find a big red box, and what that is, it’s a box for people like yourself who want to learn Chris’ best tips and tricks for burning fat, boosting energy, and preventing and reversing disease without drugs.  When you sign up in that big red box on ChrisKresser.com, what you’re going to get is a free 13-part email series that over 30,000 other people have already signed up for.  If you haven’t yet, head over there right now, go ahead and put your name and email in that box, and then come back to this podcast.

OK, Chris, now we can go.

Chris Kresser:  OK, let’s do it.

Is carrageenan bad?

Steve Wright:  All right, so we are doing Q&A today, everyone, and I’m going to go ahead and pull up these questions.  The first question comes from Mark.  “Is carrageenan OK to ingest?  I see it in coconut milk and some almond milks.  I also recently saw an article by Dr. Weil expressing concerns about it.  What are your thoughts?”

Chris Kresser:  Yeah.  That’s Dr. Weil in case anyone was confused about that.

Steve Wright:  I was.

Chris Kresser:  It’s an interesting question.  It’s a good question.  I actually think I address it a little bit in the book.  There are a lot of animal studies that suggest that carrageenan is potentially carcinogenic and also may promote the formation of inflammatory bowel disease, like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, so that sounds bad, obviously.  But as is often the case in animal studies, they tend to use doses that are much, much higher than humans would be typically exposed to in the course of a normal diet unless they’re just chugging pure carrageenan, which nobody does.  And so it’s a little less clear whether that risk that’s been identified in animal studies translates over to humans.  There have been some studies, like, when carrageenan was initially introduced that suggest that it’s safe in the quantities that people are exposed to, but a lot of those studies were funded by Big Food.  That doesn’t invalidate their results, necessarily, but it does make us perhaps a little more… Well, let’s just say that it makes me want to pay closer attention to the study, the methodology, how it was done, and I would certainly like to see those results validated by independent third parties.

I’ve done quite a bit of research on this, and my current feeling about it is that it’s probably best to avoid just because of the precautionary principle.  We don’t need carrageenan, there’s certainly no health benefit from it, and it’s generally possible to avoid it simply by making nut milk at home and avoiding the packaged varieties.  That said, I realize that life is busy for a lot of people, and it can be difficult and certainly more expensive in some ways to make nut milk at home, so you have to choose your battles.  For us, I’m not a big nut milk consumer, but there was a time when I was avoiding dairy completely and I was making smoothies with nut milk.  I would just soak nuts overnight, drain them, rinse them, put them in water at a 4:1 ratio of water to nuts, blend it up, and then strain with a cheesecloth, or they even have these nut milk bags, they call them, which are basically like cheesecloth but sewed in a bag with finer mesh, and you just pour the mixture in there, and then you squeeze it, twist it around, kind of like a towel, until all of the fluid is wrung out, and then you have the pulp left over.  Of if you tolerate insoluble fiber well, you can just leave the pulp in there.  So that’s pretty simple and easy to make nut milk.  You can make bigger batches and just have it in your fridge.  It lasts about four to five days before it goes sour.

But when I was traveling and I went somewhere and I didn’t have a blender and the ability to do that, I would just get unsweetened varieties of nut milk that have carrageenan.  I’ve never been able to find a variety of nut milk that doesn’t have carrageenan.  They use it, I think, for mouth feel.  If anyone has found one, maybe they can come to the website and leave a comment, but I’ve never seen one.  All the major varieties, like Pacific, Almond Dream… there’s another one that comes in a plastic bottle that I’ve seen lately in the refrigerated section, they all have carrageenan, and it says less than 2% or less than 1% of the ingredients in this product, and then it lists carrageenan as one of those ingredients.  I think probably occasional exposure, like I was just describing, when you’re traveling or if you’re pressed for time and you forgot to buy nuts to make your nut milk with, you could do it, but I would avoid it as a rule if you can, especially if you have gut issues.

Steve Wright:  And I do know that there are lots of coconut milks out there that don’t contain it, but I’m with you; I don’t know of any almond milks.

Chris Kresser:  Yeah, as far as I know, there’s only one coconut milk that is organic, BPA-free canned, and has no additives, like guar gum or carrageenan, and that’s Natural Value.  I wrote an article about coconut milk awhile back.  Actually, if you search for “coconut milk” in Google, you’ll see this article is the #2 one that comes up.  Strangely, it’s the highest ranking article I’ve ever written, you know, from an SEO perspective.  I have no idea how or why that happened.  I guess it’s a popular subject.  And people just attacked me for that article because the title was “3 reasons why coconut milk may not be your friend,” and I was talking about guar gum and how it can be a problem for people with gut issues, and BPA, which I’ve since published newer articles suggesting that I may be wrong about BPA as a potential risk at the level that you’d be exposed to it eating coconut milk in a can occasionally.  But anyway, people went off.  They didn’t like my comments about coconut milk, apparently.  But if you look through the comments section there, you can find… Aroy-D comes in a Tetra Pak, and I think it only has coconut and water, so it’s not a canned variety, but it’s a Tetra Pak version.  And then you can make your own coconut milk.  You can buy some coconut cream from Tropical Traditions, and you can mix that with water.  There are a lot of things you can do if you want to get around the carrageenan issue.

Steve Wright:  I know that some of the other coconut milks use sodium metabisulfite as a replacement for the carrageenan.  I don’t know if you have an opinion on that, Chris.  I haven’t found anything that would say that that’s something to avoid.

Chris Kresser:  I haven’t looked into that.

Steve Wright:  I know they use it a lot in the wine industry as well.

Chris Kresser:  Yeah, I can’t even speculate because I haven’t looked into it at all.

Steve Wright:  Also, my apologies to Dr. Weil.

Chris Kresser:  I’m sure he’ll be OK with that, Steve.

Steve Wright:  I’m sure he listens to this.

Chris Kresser:  Yeah.

Could too much protein make adrenal fatigue worse?

Steve Wright:  OK, let’s move on to the next question.  This question comes from Alizar, and he wants to know:  “Too much protein?  Cortisol released during gluconeogenesis in the case of adrenal fatigue:  Could too much protein be making adrenal fatigue worse?”

Chris Kresser:  I think too much protein is potentially harmful not only for adrenal fatigue but just in terms of general health.  Anything exceeding 35% of total calories from protein for a significant period of time is problematic.  The body just can’t process that much protein.  In short-term therapeutic use, I think a high protein diet, 25% to 30% can be helpful for weight loss, for people who are trying to get their blood sugar under control, and people who are trying to gain muscle mass and who are training hard, but in general, I recommend more like 15%, somewhere between 10% and 15% for the average person.  Adrenal fatigue folks generally do have blood sugar issues, and so something a little bit toward the higher end of the range might be better for them, more like 15% to 20% or even 15% to 25%, especially if they have hypoglycemia, low blood sugar symptoms, or reactive hypoglycemia symptoms.  And at that level, there are really no studies that I’ve seen that would suggest to a protein intake at that level would cause a problem via gluconeogenesis and the effect on cortisol levels.  It doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t, and I don’t think there have been specific studies about that, that I’m aware of, but in my practice I haven’t seen any issues, and if anything, a protein intake of 15% to 20% and even 25% for certain periods of time is probably beneficial rather than harmful.

Potential causes for mysterious nausea (and what to do about it)

Steve Wright:  Awesome.  Let’s move on to the next question.  This question comes from Jared.  Chris, he would like to know:  “What do you supposed might be causing or contributing to the feeling of nausea?  Do you have any remedies to combat the feeling of nausea when it is currently happening?”

Chris Kresser:  There are so many potential contributing factors to nausea here.  I’m going to assume Jared is not pregnant just because his name is Jared and that he is asking for himself, because nausea during pregnancy, morning sickness, is a whole other ball of wax, and that’s largely a separate discussion, although a lot of the remedies that I’m going to suggest would be applicable during pregnancy for morning sickness.  But in someone who’s not pregnant, it can be caused by everything from gastroparesis, which is a problem with emptying of stomach contents; migraine; viral infection; neurological issues; GERD; gallbladder, gallstones; neurotransmitter imbalances; SIBO; gut infections; intestinal permeability; hyperparathyroidism; hyperthyroidism… I mean, really the list kind of goes on and on.

The key, in terms of dealing with nausea, is trying to figure out where it’s coming from and what’s causing it, and that can be difficult for the obvious reason that it’s a nonspecific symptom that could be potentially caused by all the things that I just mentioned and many more things that I didn’t mention.  But in terms of symptom relief, which is partly what Jared asked about, B6, at least in cases of morning sickness, has been shown to be fairly effective in some studies, and a lot of my patients get some benefit from it at a dose of about 25 mg three times a day.  Ginger is a time-honored remedy, particularly in Chinese medicine.  It’s mentioned in the old texts for nausea.  One way of using ginger that’s a little bit more potent than just a ginger tea from a teabag, for example, is you get fresh ginger and you peel it and then you grate it on a pretty fine setting on the grater and you turn it into a pulp, and then you pick it up and you squeeze it by hand so all the juice goes into a cup.  And then you pour hot water over that.  You really only need a half a teaspoon of the juice – it’s very potent when you do it this way – maybe a little more if you can tolerate it, and then you pour some hot water over that, maybe add a little bit of lemon and a little bit of honey if you want, and that can be a really effective remedy for nausea.

And then there’s an acupuncture point called P6 that is near the wrist, and if you take your thumb and you put it parallel to the crease of your wrist… or I guess, perpendicular would be right, perpendicular to your wrist, and then you do one more thumb length back, so it’s about a couple inches.  You can’t use inches, though, because the size of everyone’s body is different and that’s why it’s better to use the thumb to measure.  You use a couple thumb widths back, and there are a couple of tendons right there in the middle – Are you doing this, Steve?  Are you following along?

Steve Wright:  Am I looking at my palm with my hand open?

Chris Kresser:  Yeah, the underside of your arm.

Steve Wright:  OK.

Chris Kresser:  So the palm is hand open.  And then you turn your thumb so it’s perpendicular to your wrist and it’s kind of spanning the crease of the wrist.

Steve Wright:  Right, so you kind of close it in across your palm?

Chris Kresser:  Yeah, and then you move it back one more thumb width, so for you and me, it’s probably an inch or inch and a half back from the crease of where the wrist meets the palm.  And then there are two tendons there right in the middle of the forearm.  If you press right in the middle of the forearm there, you probably feel a little tender spot, and that’s the acupuncture point P6.  And if you press on that, that can actually relieve nausea.  I mean, doing acupuncture on that point has a more powerful effect, but just pressing on it with your finger can sometimes be helpful.  A lot of midwives will teach that to their clients as a morning sickness remedy.  It doesn’t always work, but it’s certainly harmless.  You’re not going to cause any problems by doing that.

Steve Wright:  I’m going to go get a sewing needle.

Chris Kresser:  Yeah!  Don’t do this at home!

Steve Wright:  Yeah!  Don’t do that.

Chris Kresser:  Auricular acupuncture, which is ear acupuncture, has been shown to be somewhat effective for nausea, so if you have access to an acupuncture clinic in your local area, you could try that.  But really, for lasting relief, the best option is always to figure out what the underlying cause is.  In most cases, for most people that I’ve worked with, it’s gut related, so that would be the first place to start.  And perhaps this goes without saying, but food intolerance.

Steve Wright:  Mm-hmm.  Makes sense.  I’ve also heard of… at least in my world, lots of people with nausea tend to have low stomach acid, which obviously is going back to the gut related, but kind of working that angle of making sure your stomach’s doing its job.

Chris Kresser:  Absolutely, so betaine hydrochloric acid.  You could check out the series at ChrisKresser.com/heartburn.  There’s a lot of information there about that.

Does foul-smelling gas mean anything?

Steve Wright:  Awesome.  Well, let’s stay on the track of the gut and move on to the next question from Jacqueline.  Chris, her topic that she wants to know about is fecal matter and gas.  “Does the smell indicate anything?  Over the holidays, with extended family visiting in a small space, I noticed that I reached a point where I could tell who was the last person to visit the bathroom by the lingering odor.  My brother-in-law had a signature scent, which he left all over the house, suffering from bloat.  He mentioned that he is lactose intolerant but won’t give up dairy.  That got me wondering if intestinal byproducts are meant to smell.  Does a smell indicate an imbalance or an infection?”

Chris Kresser:  Well, waste is waste, so it’s not abnormal for it to smell unpleasant, but the degree of unpleasantness can be indicative of problems.  One of the symptoms of giardia, which is a parasitic infection – You can look this up in a medical textbook.  It’ll say:  Extremely foul-smelling gas.  Like a sulfur kind of smell, like a rotten egg type of smell.  It’s one of the classic signs of giardia infection.  And that’s also true with other kinds of infections, bacterial infections in the gut and parasitic infections, and I think dysbiosis, in general, where there’s an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, can cause both abnormally foul-smelling flatulence and belching.  Certainly I don’t think that waste is supposed to have no smell at all, necessarily, or be inert, but I think if it’s extremely foul smelling and maybe even has a signature kind of smell like you’re talking about, then that probably does indicate some kind of dysbiotic situation in the gut.

Could CoQ10 increase LDL particle number?

Steve Wright:  Interesting.  All right, let’s move on from that stinky situation.  This next question comes from Tiffany.  Chris, she’s completed The High Cholesterol Action Plan a few months ago and she loved it.  She does have one question for you.  “In the class, you covered how elevated LDL particle number is a risk factor for heart disease, and you went into some detail about how elevated triglycerides lead to elevated particle number.  What I’m wondering is since LDL particles also transport fat-soluble vitamins, like CoQ10 and other valuable substances, if you going to supplement with those nutrients, could that also contribute to increased LDL particle number?  In other words, more cargo on board equals more boats?  And if this is not the case, can you explain the hows and the whys and the mechanisms of how they get distributed?”

Chris Kresser:  That’s a really interesting line of thinking.  I can’t answer with certainty, but I’m pretty sure that that’s not exactly how it works with the fat-soluble vitamins and CoQ10 and other things that are carried throughout the body.  I’ve never seen any evidence that taking CoQ10 supplements or increasing your intake of vitamin A or D, for example, would increase LDL particle number.  I don’t have expertise at that really detailed biochemical level of how those nutrients exactly are metabolized and how the body determines storage when we have enough and what gets transported and what’s needed.  And that’s one of the amazing things about the body, is that it has these systems.  In many cases, if we ingest more than we need of a certain nutrient, it just goes into storage; it doesn’t completely overload our capacity.  And the reason for that is that there were times in our evolutionary history where scarcity was common, and then times of surplus would be punctuated by those times of scarcity, so we had to have a system where we could store any excess that we could accumulate during those times of surplus so that they’d be available to us during the times of scarcity.  That’s usually good news because it means we can’t screw things up as easily as we might be able to otherwise!  Imagine if we had to know exactly how many vitamins and minerals and nutrients we needed to eat each day in order to have the right amount in our bloodstream at any given time.  That would be an absolute nightmare.  I mean, we’d basically just have to take food pills instead of eating food because we couldn’t be relied on to get the right amount from eating foods.  I can’t tell you what the exact mechanism is by which the body makes that determination, but I know that it does make that determination, and if you take CoQ10 and things like that where you’re exceeding your actual need for it, I’ve never seen any evidence that suggests that that will increase LDL particle number simply because LDL particles are the transport mechanism for those nutrients.

Steve Wright:  Very interesting question.

Chris Kresser:  Mm-hmm.  I love that people are thinking that way.  It’s great.

What to do about constipation and endotoxemia

Steve Wright:  Awesome.  So let’s move on to a random question from me.  So Chris, has constipation actually been shown to recirculate toxins, or is this just a common belief?

Chris Kresser:  No, there is some truth to that, maybe not exactly the way that you put it, but constipation can definitely exacerbate endotoxemia, which is the phenomenon where endotoxins, like lipopolysaccharide, which are in the cell membrane of gram-negative pathogens, gram-negative bacteria, move across the gut barrier when it becomes permeable and go into the bloodstream, and then that can cause endotoxemia.  Peristalsis, which is what keeps things moving through the colon and what is impaired in cases of constipation, not only propels feces and partially digested food along the digestive tract, it also prevents gut pathogens from attaching to the gut wall.  And if they can’t attach to the gut wall, they’re a lot less likely to breach the gut wall.  This is why you see with constipation an increase in intestinal permeability and an increase in gut infections, because if the feces isn’t moving as it should through the gut, that normal housekeeping function isn’t performed, and the pathogens that are in the stool or in the colon or in the small intestine can attach to the lining of the intestine and perforate the gut lining, and then you end up with a leaky gut and you end up with lipopolysaccharide from gram-negative bacteria entering the portal vein which goes to the liver and then circulating throughout the entire body via the liver route.  So it’s a real phenomenon, no doubt.

Steve Wright:  Fascinating.  Would there also be some hormone recirculating problems that you didn’t want to happen?

Chris Kresser:  That’s possible, too.  I haven’t looked into that in as much detail.  I’m not as familiar with the actual research on that, but I think if not frank endotoxemia, which is a serious condition, even just any amount of movement of lipopolysaccharide and other contents of the gut into the bloodstream because the gut becomes leaky, as I’m sure a lot of my listeners know now, is a major cause of allergies, asthma, autoimmune disease, and other chronic inflammatory conditions, and there’s more and more research about this every day.  This is one reason that I think constipation is so important to treat and it’s not just a quality-of-life issue and something that’s a question of your comfort level or discomfort.  It’s actually a really crucial part of a healthy functioning digestive tract and a healthy body overall, and that’s probably why we see associations between constipation and things like acne and skin conditions, which I’ve talked about in the gut-skin article that I wrote, and then also associations between constipation and things like anxiety and attention deficit and other brain and neurological problems, which I’ve talked about in our discussions about the gut-brain axis.

Steve Wright:  Awesome.  Thanks for answering that.

Chris Kresser:  Sure.

The real reason you’re reacting to sugar

Steve Wright:  OK.  Let’s move on to the next question from Vincent.  “My girlfriend has a very strong, what seems to be almost allergic reaction to most sugars.  She can only tolerate a few sweeteners like rice syrup and stevia.  Sugars from most fruit, especially when dried, are also problematic.  When she accidentally consumes even the slightest amount of sugar, she suffers from extreme exhaustion, like someone’s almost pulled the plug, flu-like symptoms, and a foggy feeling in her head.  These symptoms normally take days to disappear.”  Vincent would like to know, Chris, are there any protocols which diminish these awful effects?  And he also lists that her father has type 2 diabetes and would like to know if there’s any relationship to it, and she’s sensitive to histamine.  Is there a relationship here as well?

Chris Kresser:  Well, OK, listeners, you’ve been listening to this show for a while.  Maybe you can answer this question.  What would be the common thread among all of these different symptoms? … [game show theme music] … OK, ready?  Definitely, definitely gut problems.  Did you get it, Steve?

Steve Wright:  I was gonna buzz in, but I wasn’t sure.  I got confused.

Chris Kresser:  I cut it off a little early.

Steve Wright:  Yeah, you didn’t give me the full time.  I was still writing.

Chris Kresser:  Yeah, I’m almost certain that that would be gut dysbiosis, small intestine bacterial overgrowth or some other kind of gut infection.  The common thread between sugar intolerance and histamine intolerance is usually dysbiosis, predominance of bacteria that are histamine producing, for example, or an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine where they shouldn’t be that are feeding on that sugar.  Another possibility is fructose intolerance, which is typically caused by or associated with SIBO or low stomach acid or other gut problems.  And you mention that the only sugar that she tolerates is rice syrup and stevia.  Well, rice syrup is pretty much all glucose.  It breaks down into glucose.  It doesn’t have any fructose in it.  And stevia is a sugar alcohol, so that’s different, too, but most fruit sugar has some fructose in it, so it’s possible that this is mostly fructose related and fructose intolerance.

In terms of protocols that would diminish these effects, I think seeing a practitioner and doing some testing for small intestine bacterial overgrowth would be a really good first step.  Getting tested for gut infections, parasites, bacterial infection, fungal overgrowth, things like that.  If you’re working on your own, I would do a low-FODMAP diet, which we’ve discussed before, as a starting place, and then I would also consider taking some natural antimicrobials that can help with SIBO.  We’ve talked about some botanicals in the past, Lauricidin or monolaurin, which is an extract of lauric acid that can be effective.  Some kind of biofilm disruptor; there are a few that are pretty good, like Klaire Labs InterFase Plusor Kirkman Biofilm Defense.  And then some probiotics, and you have to be careful with probiotics when you have histamine intolerance because some probiotics will make it worse, and also when you have SIBO because there’s often an overgrowth of D-lactate-forming species, which are in a lot of commercial probiotics, like Lactobacillus acidophilus.  So I think the best choice in this case would be Prescript Assist, which is a soil-based organism probiotic that tends to have a neutral effect on histamine and be beneficial with SIBO.

If you’re on your own and not working with a practitioner, that would definitely be the starting place.  The low-FODMAP diet will help starve out the bacteria in the small intestine that are overgrown there, and the antimicrobials will help knock those levels back down, and then the Prescript Assist will help.  It has an antimicrobial effect, it also has an immune-tuning effect, and it helps create a more hospitable environment for good bacteria in the gut.

Steve Wright:  I would really echo what you said before about getting some testing, though, because I would say that about 80% of the people that I’ve talked with or worked with that have had SIBO have had some other co-infection, so you want to find that.

Chris Kresser:  Yeah, definitely.

Is colloidal silver effective?

Steve Wright:  Great.  Let’s roll on to the last question for today’s podcast.  Chris, this question comes from Jeremy.  “I thought of another question to ask you.  I keep hearing about the antimicrobial effects of colloidal silver, but I’m not really buying into the fact that it’s a good idea.  Even though it may not impact one’s overall health, I’m not sure it’s really worth the risk of argyria, especially when it seems like there are much better alternatives.  Furthermore, commercial products don’t discuss the parts per million of the solution or if the silver is unbound.  I’ve read articles discussed how many commercial products aren’t high enough in parts per million or that the silver is already bonded, which would remove its beneficial effect.  Do you have any thoughts on this subject?”

Chris Kresser:  Yeah, I don’t use colloidal silver for those reasons and others.  It just hasn’t been one of my go-to choices for antimicrobials.  I tend to use antimicrobial botanicals, Lauricidin, biofilm disruptors.  I was trained as an herbalist, and so I really rely a lot on the botanicals, and they can be really potent and effective.  I think garlic is really powerful as well.  With Jo Robinson, who we had on the show last time, we talked about a way to make it much more potent as an antimicrobial, which is chopping it, dicing it, or pressing it and then letting it rest for 10 or 15 minutes before you add it to food.  That can significantly increase the allicin content, which is the antimicrobial component.  I know there are practitioners out there who use colloidal silver, and I’m not knocking that and I don’t have a problem with that.  It’s just not something that I use or have a lot of experience with.  I tend to rely on other things instead.

Steve Wright:  Awesome.  Yeah, I don’t have any experience with it either, but it seems like there are other products out there that might work just as well.

Chris Kresser:  I think so, that are a little less complicated to use and choose good varieties of.

What Chris ate for breakfast (we didn’t forget this time…)

Steve Wright:  Awesome, Chris.  Well, let’s actually wrap up with what I supposed to ask you at the beginning of the show:  What did you have for breakfast today?

Chris Kresser:  Right.  We’ve been forgetting that.  Let’s see… today was a little unusual for me.  Speaking of almond milk, I started the day off with a green smoothie.  I don’t typically do this, but I just was feeling it this morning when I woke up.  It’s pretty hot here today, and I was just having a craving for it.  So I had some almond milk, a little bit of coconut oil and a little bit of coconut milk, and some spinach, raw spinach and raw kale, a banana, kind of a small/medium-ish banana, and a little bit of almond butter, not much, and blended that up.

Just a note about the raw spinach and kale:  Raw spinach is pretty high in oxalic acid or oxalates, and raw kale is high in some compounds that are potentially goitrogenic, which means they inhibit the uptake of iodine in the thyroid gland.  So if you have a thyroid condition, I wouldn’t recommend eating raw kale and raw spinach very often.  If you do it occasionally once or twice a week, it’s probably fine, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that on a daily basis.  And if you have those conditions, you can steam the kale and spinach in advance and just keep it in the refrigerator and add it that way, and you’ll get most of the benefits of eating it and arguably more because in some cases steaming actually increases the nutrient value, as we talked about with Jo last time, without the drawbacks of the potentially goitrogenic effect of the kale and any kind of oxalate sensitivity that some people may have.

So that was first, and then at about 10:30 or 11 I had scrambled eggs with some homemade salsa and bacon and potato hash browns that I made.  I just peeled a potato, I grated it, and then I cooked it in some bacon grease with this electric griddle that I have.  And then I had some sauerkraut that was made with beets, carrots, and cabbage.

Steve Wright:  So we got two breakfasts for the price of one.

Chris Kresser:  Kind of a mini pre-breakfast and then a brunch, I guess you would call it, because probably today I’ll end up having two big meals, the brunch and then a dinner, and then I had the smoothie to start with and maybe a little snack in the afternoon.

Steve Wright:  Awesome.  Well, I think we want to thank everyone for listening.  If you want to get more of Chris, obviously you can go to ChrisKresser.com.  You can also go over to Facebook, where you can find Chris’ work at Facebook.com/ChrisKresserLAc, and Twitter.com/ChrisKresser.

So, Chris, enjoy the rest of your day.  Thanks, everyone, for listening.  Please keep sending us your questions at ChrisKresser.com using the podcast submission link.  And if you enjoyed listening to the show, please head over to iTunes and leave us a review.

Chris Kresser:  Thanks for listening, everyone.  See you next time.

Note: I earn a small commission if you use the links in this article to purchase the products I mentioned. I only recommend products I would use myself or that I use with patients in my practice. Your purchase helps support this site and my ongoing research.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Caroline says

    For the wrist acupuncture against nausea, there’s a product called sea-band which works quite well by keeping pressure on that point

  2. Carrie says

    Tree of Life unsweetened vanilla almond milk
    no carrageenan, but it does have gellan gum and xanthan gum. . .

  3. Allison says

    Chris – I’m wondering if you will consider numbering your podcasts (and the files themselves) to make it easier to catch up on them and not get confused between what I have listened to and what I haven’t?

  4. says

    I disagree on protein %. That seems unfounded to me. I’m a paleo bodybuilder (recreational) and I love lean protein. I get about 40% of my calories as protein (I like 40/40/20 protein/carb/fat macros averaged). I have no problem eating this and enjoy it. I’m not eating any powders, but lots of beef, bison, eggs and seafood. There are no studies showing toxicity for protein above 35%.

    • says

      This also threw me for a loop… Some quick math puts me around the 30/25/45 mark, but I wouldn’t have guessed that 40 or 50% from protein would be problematic. Chris, I’m wondering if you can point us to some additional articles on the topic. Thanks!

  5. trina says

    What I want to know is whether the blue man ever gets sick with that much silver embedded into his tissues. Nobody ever seems to ask him that. The articles are always just about his appearance.

  6. Erin says

    Great Podcast today! A couple questions. I have adrenal, thyroid (Hashimotos) and female hormone issues (no period for 10 years and not menopausal) and very low DHEA . I eat pretty paleo, but wonder how I can do that and keep my protein at 15 to 20%? I have been adding more carbs, but still my body temp is wildly all over 94.6 to 97 throughout the day. Are you familiar with the idea of aggressive refeeding to address the adrenals? (Mark Stone) How do feel about it?
    Also, in an effort (suppositories for 9 year) to get rid of all those toxins from the constipation, I think I have a lazy bowel (could just be due to hormone issues, I suppose). What do you do with a lazy bowel?

      • Erin says

        Hi, and yes, I have. I take synthetic T4 and T3, but I am not convinced it is working that great or maybe it is the wrong dosage. My doctor goes by the blood work, but I still have constipation, dry skin and hair, hair loss, cold hands and feet, and low body temp. I wonder if I can safely supplement with extra desiccated thyroid?

  7. Joan says

    Question about % of protein. I’m lower carb than I’ve been in the past but I have no idea how to calculate % of protein in my diet. Do you have some guidelines? Simple ways of getting an idea of proportions? thanks

    • says

      Joan, do you know roughly how many grams of the macro nutrients you ingest on a daily basis (on average)? 1g protein = 4 cals, 1g carbohydrate = 4 cals, 1g fat = 9 cals. So, if you’re eating 100 grams of protein, you’re getting 400 calories from protein. If you’re eating 100 grams of carbs, you’re getting 400 calories from carbs. If you’re eating 100 grams of fat, you’re getting 900 calories from fat. Total calories are 1700 (400 + 400 + 900), so you’d be getting ~24% from protein (400 / 1700).

      Hope that helps!

  8. Ellen says

    What do you think about oregon grape root? I have had major gut problems (fungal), which have been incredibly stubborn. I’ve done diet changes, prescription probiotics, etc. with some improvement but it was incredibly slow going. In June, I tried oregon grape root and saw significant improvement almost immediately. After a few weeks on it, however, I noticed a some side effects cropping up. Namely, stomach cramping and some nausea. I stopped using it, but I’m wondering what you think of this herb, if you recommend it, and if it’s the type of thing that’s best used as a short term treatment. Thanks!

  9. Tania says

    Hey guys
    Silk PureAlmond Original unsweetened doesn’t have carrageenan in it but it does have gellan gum.
    Thanks for an awesome podcast!

  10. Alex says

    Actually, most commercially prepared silver products have the PPM listed right on the label. Above 20 PPM, silver agglomerates out in preparations made solely of pure silver and pure distilled water, so the more concentrated silver products are silver salts/compounds, silver bound with protein, etc. At 20 PPM or less, it would be exceedingly difficult to get argyria due to the immense quantity of water one would have to consume in order to ingest enough silver to overwhelm the body’s capacity to excrete it. If you research all the scary argyria stories that hit the news, you’ll find they all lead back to usage of highly concentrated silver preparations, usually homebrew CS made incorrectly with tap water or added salt. Homebrew CS should have exactly two ingredients: pure, steam distilled water and .999+ pure silver.

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