Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for June 16, 2006


I google Dr. Riina Bray tonight just to see if I can find any recent news articles and I come across a transcript from the Legislative Assembly in Ontario.

Monday 6 June 2005

The Chair (Mr. Bob Delaney): Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly. We are here to consider Bill 133, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act in respect of enforcement and other matters.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Perth-Middlesex): Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning.

Your subcommittee on committee business met on Thursday, June 2, 2005, to consider the method of proceeding on Bill 133, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act in respect of enforcement and other matters, and recommends the following:

(1) That the committee meet for the purpose of holding public hearings on Bill 133 at Queen’s Park as follows: Monday, June 6, 2005, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, subject to witness requests and the direction of the Chair.

(2) That the clerk of the committee post notice of hearings as soon as possible on the Ontario parliamentary channel and on the Internet.

(3) That the deadline for receipt of requests to appear be 4:00 p.m. on Friday, June 3, 2005.

(4) That the following be invited to appear before the committee as witnesses: David Donnelly, Environmental Defence Canada; Chris Hodgson, Ontario Mining Association; Robert Wright, Sierra Legal Defence Fund; Paul Muldoon, Canadian Environmental Law Association; Mark Mattson, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper; Faith Goodman, Canadian Petroleum Products Institute; Dr. Riina Bray, Ontario College of Family Physicians; Lisa Kozma, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters or Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers\’ Association; Honourable Perrin Beatty and David Surplis, Coalition for a Sustainable Environment.

(5) That notice of the hearings be provided to the witnesses that previously appeared before the committee on Bill 133.

(6) That the length of presentations for witnesses be 10 minutes.

(7) That each of the three parties be allowed to make an opening statement of up to four minutes, subject to availability of time and at the direction of the Chair.

(8) That the committee clerk, at the direction of the Chair, be authorized to schedule witnesses.

(9) That the deadline for written submissions be 12:00 noon on Monday, June 6, 2005.

(10) That proposed amendments to be moved during clause-by-clause consideration of the bill should be filed with the clerk of the committee by 2:00 p.m. on Monday, June 6, 2005.

(11) That clause-by-clause consideration of the bill commence at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, June 6, 2005.

(12) That the clerk of the committee, in consultation with the Chair, be authorized prior to the adoption of the report of the subcommittee to commence making any preliminary arrangements to facilitate the committee’s proceedings.

Dr. Bray: My name is Riina Bray. I’m a family physician, assistant professor at the Environmental Health Clinic at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre. I’m also chair of the environmental health committee at the Ontario College of Family Physicians.

I much appreciate the opportunity today to address this committee on the important issue of Bill 133.

In its final report on spills, the government’s Industrial Pollution Action Team dispelled any myths about Ontario’s international leadership in this arena by concluding, “It was our impression that Ontario’s regulatory system has not kept pace with progressive jurisdictions elsewhere in the world, which employ a more diverse management tool kit and a risk-based approach.”

The action team’s report also stated that there is a need for substantive change in Ontario’s environmental management framework, and that “despite its best intentions, the current system does not encourage pollution or spills prevention.”

These spills are often referred to as “environmental contaminants,” but please remember that they are also human contaminants. Physicians tend not to use such terms, so I’d like to speak plainly about the topic at hand. What we’re talking about in most cases here are poisons, and it’s important not to forget that.

In his submission to this committee, Dr. David Colby, the medical officer of health for Chatham-Kent, told you that Bill 133 is essential to improving the health and safety of his community. There is certainly an immediate impact on southwestern Ontario because of the preponderance of spills, but this bill affects or has the potential to affect our patients throughout the province.

Much has been made of the inequitable financial burden that environmental penalties place on industrial facilities, but although physicians’ primary interest is in the health of our patients, it is important for you to know that there are two sides to this cost argument as well.

As the action team’s report stated, “Downstream communities are not recouping the full costs of spills.”

When public health warnings such as boil-water advisories are issued, expenses are immediately incurred. Even when there are no such warnings, parents, concerned for their children’s well-being, take precautionary measures, like drinking only bottled water, when there is news of a spill or when spills are frequent. They too incur immediate costs. It is also likely that a populace more fearful of environmental contamination is more costly to government because they more frequently seek medical attention from their physicians and other health care providers.

In addition to this, there’s a huge hidden cost that will present itself later on with the impact of contaminants on unborn children, pregnant women and young children who experience exposures which can manifest later with neuro-behavioural problems, costing billions of dollars to the nation. This has been shown in many scientific reports that are available.

Also, cancers from chronic exposure to contaminants in the young and in the old obviously pose a huge health care cost to our country.

Also, we must consider the immuno-compromised, the infirm, the elderly and those suffering from reproductive problems, and the link that has been shown there with contaminants.

On the topic of added governmental costs, it is certainly the case that significant improvements to spills notification systems and response systems, which have predictive capacities to identify specific public health vulnerabilities, all cost a lot of money, too. Tracking health threats once they exist is absolutely important, but it is certainly better and cheaper to prevent spills in the first place.

I learned a long time ago that preventive medicine is a much healthier approach than waiting to develop a treatment strategy once the threat has been introduced, be it a disease or a chemical contaminant. It’s also much cheaper.

Honourable committee members, we understand that the government is required to balance the interests of many when making legislative decisions. Just to clarify, that is not to say that we think health interests are special interests, as some would suggest; although it is my view that health interests should be treated more specially than some industrial interests.

To the business at hand: It is obvious that some companies are not complying with Ontario’s environmental laws. As well as threatening their surrounding communities and potentially those far downstream, this non-compliance gives the lawbreakers an unfair advantage over their competitors who do comply. Environmental penalties send the message to those who haven\’t gotten it yet that compliance is the bare minimum of acceptability and that there is a cost and a consequence for not living up to the law.

As a physician, I cannot claim to be an expert in legal compliance issues, but it is clear to me that enforcing compliance is a move in the right direction toward protecting the health of our patients.

We think that the current amendments to Bill 133 from the second reading last week are a reasonable balance of interests, and I would like to support the bill in its amended form.

As Dr. Colby reminded this committee, spills cannot be the cost of doing business; protecting the health of Ontarians must come first.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

The Chair: Thank you for coming in. We should have an opportunity for a question from each caucus to you, beginning with Mr. Marchese.

Mr. Marchese: Thank you, Dr. Bray, for coming.

The Chair: Mrs. Van Bommel.

Mrs. Maria Van Bommel (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): Thank you, Chair, and thank you for coming in. I hope that you catch your breath. You still sound a bit out of breath.

You mentioned the Industrial Pollution Action Team and the recommendations that they made. One of the things that we’ve heard since then are concerns that industries in the Sarnia area have expressed about having to comply and the comments that they’ve made about having to leave the area if they have to comply with certain restrictions. They’re talking about moving to other jurisdictions, including other provinces in Canada. With that comes the concerns about jobs. How would you address that kind of thing?

Dr. Bray: I get a lot of dialogue coming from Sarnia with regard to environmental contaminants and illness and disease. If they want to move elsewhere, then kudos to them.

I think we need to think of the health care costs, because if you look at the epidemiology right now and the illness that is hitting Sarnia — I don’t know if you know, but Sarnia is it’s a particularly sick community. We get patients who are very, very disabled coming from that area. There are studies showing that childhood illness and cancers are much higher geographically than the rest of Ontario. It’s a sick community, and I would say that, dollar for dollar, you’re going to save money in the end.

Jobs are important, but when you think of the future generations and the unborn etc., I really don’t think we should be making a comparison there. If you want to, I would say that I think we need to put the health of people first, and jobs will come second. Otherwise, people are going to have jobs and then they’ll have to go on disability or they’re going to lose loved ones. The cost of suffering is going to be huge. There have to be alternatives for them.

The Chair: Thank you very much. Mr. Miller.

Mr. Miller: Thank you for coming in today. You mentioned at the beginning of your talk, the report of the Industrial Pollution Action Team. In that report it said, “Despite its best intentions, the current system does not encourage pollution or spills prevention, or the regular updating of technology and operating systems.”

I think that you also went on to say that you believe in preventive medicine, if I heard you correctly.

We\’ve also heard from industry here today that they would like to see more science-based and risk-based provisions in this bill.

Do you think we should be doing more to encourage spills prevention and pollution prevention plans?

Dr. Bray: Yes, I do. I think you can do more studies, I think more studies are always warranted, but you have to be careful and consider the precautionary principle. It doesn’t require too much thought when you have a mass balance and you look at what’s going into the environment. It has to go somewhere, and you just sort of follow it through.

I think that scientific investigation shouldn’t be an excuse to continue doing what they’re doing. It shouldn’t be something that prevents them from making the correction sooner than later. I think of the precautionary principle again here.

The Chair: Thank you very much for coming in. I’m sorry that you had a wicked commute, but you did have the last word today.

Dr. Bray: Thank you, and I hope I’ve been helpful.

The Chair: This committee stands in recess until clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 133 today at 4 p.m. in this room.

Wow! I wonder what is making people sick in Sarnia? I use Google Earth to get an overview of the city and there is one section of the town that looks like an oil refinery. Yup, Imperial Oil. And it’s so big it’s almost half the size of Sarnia itself!

Fuels Manufacturing

When the Sarnia refinery was commissioned in 1897, it was the largest refinery in Canada, with a capacity of 900 barrels of crude oil processing a day. Today, the refinery is one of the most complex in Canada. Since the mid-1980s, significant improvements at a number of process units have increased the refinery’s ability to process a wide range of crude oil into quality petroleum products.

Imperial’s Sarnia operation is the most integrated fuels, lubricating oil and chemicals manufacturing and petroleum research facility in Canada.

June 16, 2006 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Entry for June 16, 2006


He wants to test for B1, B12, RBC folate and CRP. I had never heard of CRP so I look it up when I get home.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a plasma protein, an acute phase protein produced by the liver.

CRP drawn from PDB 1GNH. CRP is a member of the class of acute phase reactants as its levels rise dramatically during inflammatory processes occurring in the body. It is thought to assist in complement binding to foreign and damaged cells and affect the humoral response to disease. It is also believed to play an important role in innate immunity, as an early defense system against infections.

Diagnostic use

CRP is used mainly as a marker of inflammation. Measuring and charting C-reactive protein values can prove useful in determining disease progress or the effectiveness of treatments. Blood, usually collected in a serum-separating tube, is analysed in a medical laboratory or at the point of testing.

Various analytical methods are available for CRP determination, such as ELISA, immunoturbidimetry, rapid immunodiffusion and visual agglutination.

Viral infections tend to give a lower CRP level than bacterial infection.

How to lower: Exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, flaxseed, aspirin, niacin, statins, alcohol, clean teeth

If niacin will lower the C-reactive protein, then I don’t think I have to worry about that. B1 is the vitamin I want tested so it’s interesting that he also wants to test my level of B12. Doctor Google?

B-12 and the stomach
Stomach problems can contribute to a B-12 deficiency in two ways.

First, irritation and inflammation of the stomach can prevent the stomach cells from functioning properly. When functioning improperly, the cells may stop producing a substance required for B-12 absorption called intrinsic factor (IF). Without IF, B-12 cannot be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the body’s cells.

A second way for stomach problems to create B-12 deficiency is through inadequate secretion of stomach acids. Lack of stomach acids (a condition called called hypochlorhydria) gets in the way of B-12 absorption since most B-12 in food is attached to proteins in the food, and stomach acids are necessary to release the B-12 from these proteins.

The above stomach problems that can contribute to B-12 deficiency have a wide variety of causes. These causes include abuse of over-the-counter antacids, abuse of prescription medicines used to control stomach acidity, and stomach ulcers (also called gastric ulcers), which may themselves be due to infection with the bacteria, helicobacter pylori.

WOW! This guy is right on the money. Looks like I’ve found a great doctor. Ironically, in the same walk in clinic I went to in the first place.

June 16, 2006 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Entry for June 16, 2006


To the walk in clinic and I explain to the receptionist that I would like to speak to a doctor about nutritional deficiencies. It’s a friday night so it’s not too busy and I’m called in within 5 minutes.

The doctor comes in, reads my file and says “I hear you would like to speak to a doctor…well, I am one.”  I thought that was funny and I like him almost immediately. I give him the coles notes version of my history of symptoms starting with the mysterious internal vibration. I tell him about the various tests and procedures done by my regular doctor that all came up with nothing. I explain about how my research indicates that it could be a nutritional B vitamin deficiency and it’s my hunch that I have Beriberi. I’ve read that there is a blood test and I would like it done.

He says he hasn’t heard the term Beriberi since medical school and admitted that he wouldn’t even know how to treat it. I’d say he’s an older man in his mid-fifties.  I told him that from what I’ve read, it’s very easy to treat with high doses of B1 vitamins and in some cases, vitamin injections. He’s heard of B12 injections but not B1. He mentions about folic acid and I told him about my research regarding the chemical reaction of B1 with folic acid so I would really like to have that tested as well.

He questions why I think I have a nutritional B vitamin deficiency and hesitantly, I mention about how I think electromagnetic radiation had an effect on my stomach and disturbed the normal absorption of vitamins and minerals from my food. I continue my story with the purchase of the wireless intercom system and how when I discovered the symptoms to be EMF, I bought a meter to test around the house. I was probably low with B vitamins to begin with and the EMF exposure created a nutritional deficiency. Then he asks about how I learned about electromagnetic radiation. So I explain the story about the global tv show and Dr. Riina Bray.

At the end of my story I told him how I thought it sounded like something from a science fiction novel and he agreed saying this was the first time he had ever heard a story like mine.

So he writes out the lab requistion form for a blood test.

June 16, 2006 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Entry for June 16, 2006

What is folate?

Folic acid, also called folate or folacin, is a B-complex vitamin most publicized for its importance in pregnancy and prevention of pregnancy defects.

Folic acid is one of the most chemically complicated vitamins, with a three-part structure that puts special demands on the body’s metabolism. The three primary components of folic acid are called PABA, glutamic acid, and pteridine. (Two of these components, glutamic acid and pteridine, help explain the technical chemical name for folate, namely pteroylmonoglutamate.)

As complex as this vitamin is in its structure, it is equally as complicated in its interaction with the human body. For example, most foods do not contain folic acid in the exact form described above, and enzymes inside the intestine have to chemically alter food forms of folate in order for this vitamin to be absorbed. Even when the body is operating at full efficiency, only about 50% of ingested food folate can be absorbed.

What is the function of folate?

Red blood cell formation and circulation support

One of folate’s key functions as a vitamin is to allow for complete development of red blood cells. These cells help carry oxygen around the body. When folic acid is deficient, the red bloods cannot form properly, and continue to grow without dividing. This condition is called macrocytic anemia, and one of its most common causes is folic acid deficiency.

In addition to its support of red blood cell formation, folate also helps maintain healthy circulation of the blood throughout the body by preventing build-up of a substance called homocysteine. A high serum homocysteine level (called hyperhomocysteinemia) is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and low intake of folate is a key risk factor for hyperhomocysteinemia. Increased intake of folic acid, particularly by men, has repeatedly been suggested as a simply way to lower risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing build-up of homocysteine in the blood. Preliminary research also suggests that high homocysteine levels can lead to the deterioration of dopamine-producing brain cells and may therefore contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, folate deficiency may have an important relationship to neurological health.

Research is now confirming a link between blood levels of folate and not only cardiovascular disease, but dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the most recent studies, which was published in the July 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated 228 subjects. In those whose blood levels of folate were lowest, the risk for mild cognitive impairment was more than tripled, and risk of dementia increased almost four fold. Homocysteine, a potentially harmful product of cellular metabolism that is converted into other useful compounds by folate, along with vitamin B6 and B 12, was also linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals whose homocysteine levels were elevated had a 4.3 (more than four fold) increased risk of dementia and a 3.7 (almost four fold) increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.(June 30, 2004)

Research teams in the Netherlands and the U.S. have confirmed that low levels of folic acid in the diet significantly increases risk of osteporosis-related bone fractures due to the resulting increase in homocysteine levels. Homocysteine has already been linked to damage to the arteries and atherosclerosis, plus increased risk of dementia in the elderly. Now, in a study that appeared in the May 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at the Eramus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Holland, and another team in Boston have confirmed that individuals with the highest levels of homocysteine have a much higher risk of osteoporotic fracture.

In the Rotterdam study, which included 2,406 subjects aged 55 years or older, those with the highest homocysteine levels, whether men or women, almost doubled their risk of fracture. The Boston team found that risk of hip fracture nearly quadrupled in men and doubled in women in the top 25% of homocysteine levels. Both groups found that folic acid reduced the risk of osteoporotic fractures by reducing high levels of homocysteine.

What factors might contribute to a deficiency of folate?

In addition to poor dietary intake of folate itself, deficient intake of other B vitamins can contribute to folate deficiency. These vitamins include B1, B2, and B3 which are all involved in folate recycling. Poor protein intake can cause deficiency of folate binding protein which is needed for optimal absorption of folate from the intestine, and can also be related to an insufficient supply of glycine and serine, the amino acids that directly participate in metabolic recycling of folate. Excessive intake of alcohol, smoking, and heavy coffee drinking can also contribute to folate deficiency.

How do other nutrients interact with folate?

Vitamins B1, B2, and B3 must be present in adequate amounts to enable folic acid to undergo metabolic recycling in the body. Excessive amounts of folic acid, however, can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency, by masking blood-related symptoms.

How is folate-deficiency anemia diagnosed?

Folate-deficiency anemia may be suspected from general findings from a complete medical history and physical examination. In addition, several blood tests can be performed to confirm the diagnosis. If the anemia is thought to be caused by a problem in the digestive tract, a barium study of the digestive system may be performed. Folate deficiency does not usually produce neurological problems; B12 deficiency does. Folate and B12 deficiency can be present at the same time. If B12 deficiency is treated with folate by mistake, the symptoms of anemia may lessen, but the neurological problems can become worse.

Natural forms of folic acid:

orange juice
romaine lettuce
wheat germ
soy beans
green, leafy vegetables
wheat germ
chick peas (garbanzo beans)

How do I know if I’m deficent in folate? Untill I started eating healthy recently, the only thing I had on a semi-regular basis was romaine lettuce. I’m sure wheatgrass is a good substitute for the green, leafy vegetables.

What are deficiency symptoms for folate?

Because of its link with the nervous system, folate deficiency can be associated with irritability, mental fatigue, forgetfulness, confusion, depression, and insomnia. The connections between folate, circulation, and red blood cell status make folate deficiency a possible cause of general or muscular fatigue. The role of folate in protecting the lining of body cavities means that folate deficiency can also result in intestinal tract symptoms (like diarrhea) or mouth-related symptoms like gingivitis or periodontal disease.

So folate helps maintain healthy circulation of the blood throughout the body by preventing build-up of a substance called homocysteine which can lead to a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

Another one of my “weird” symptoms is when I hold my hands over my head for more than ten seconds. I start to feel a mild numbing sensation down the length of my arms and I’m sure it’s due to a lack of blood circulation.

I think I’ve proven that I do have circulation issues so maybe I’m deficient in folic acid too. Beriberi sounds very serious and if it’s what I have then I should get a blood test to confirm it. On the way home I’ll drop into the walk in clinic and see if I can convince the doctor for a blood test. At the very least, I will be able to rule out if it comes up negative.

June 16, 2006 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Entry for June 15, 2006

Nervous System Support

Vitamin B1 also plays a key role in support of the nervous system, where it permits healthy development of the fat-like coverings which surround most nerves (called myelin sheaths). In the absence of vitamin B1, these coverings can degenerate or become damaged. Pain, prickly sensations, and nerve deadening are nerve-related symptoms that can result from vitamin B1 deficiency.
A second type of connection between vitamin B1 and the nervous system involves its role in the production of the messaging molecule acetylcholine. This molecule, called a neurotransmitter, is used by the nervous system to relay messages between the nerves and muscles. Acetylcholine cannot be produced without adequate supplies of vitamin B1. Because acetylcholine is used by the nervous system to ensure proper muscle tone in the heart, deficiency of B1 can also result in compromised heart function.
Deficiency Symptoms
What are deficiency symptoms for vitamin B1?
Because of its ability to disrupt the body’s energy production, one of the first symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency is loss of appetite (called anorexia) that reflects the body’s listlessness and malaise.
Inability of the nervous system to ensure proper muscle tone in the GI tract can lead to indigestion or constipation, and muscle tenderness, particularly in the calf muscles.
Other symptoms related to nerve dysfunction are commonly associated with thiamin deficiency, since the myelin sheaths wrapping the nerves cannot be correctly made without adequate thiamin. These nerve-related symptoms include “pins and needles” sensations or numbness, especially in the legs.
Toxicity Symptoms

What are toxicity symptoms for vitamin B1? Even at extremely high doses of 500 milligrams per day, vitamin B1 intake does not appear to carry a risk of toxicity. This vitamin is often supplemented in high doses during treatment of maple sugar urine disease (MSUD), and may be given intravenously in treatment of alcoholism; these clinical circumstances have provided a broad basis for determining the low risk of toxicity associated with increased intake of thiamin. In its most recent 1998 recommendations for intake of B-complex vitamins, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences did not establish a Tolerable Upper Limit (UL) for intake of vitamin B1
Nutrient Interactions

How do other nutrients interact with vitamin B1? No B-complex vitamin is more dependent on its fellow B vitamins than thiamin. Absorption of thiamin into the body requires adequate supplies of vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can increase loss of thiamin in the urine, and vitamin B6 also appears to help regulate distribution of thiamin throughout the body.  If folic acid is deficient in the cells, then it causes an indirect thiamine deficiency because thiamine is present but cannot be activated.
Maybe it’s time to research folic acid.

June 16, 2006 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment


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