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Dr. Mark Schauss, DB – The Need for Metabolic Testing

In this interview from May, 2004, Robert Crayhon talks to Dr. Mark Schauss about the need for metabolic testing.  Thanks to Complementary Prescriptions for the use of this recording.


NMU-2004+5-06-Mark Schauss – The Need for Metabolic Testing (2_6)
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When Robert Crayhon contacted me about doing this interview I was, to say the least, excited. He was a person I so looked up to that it was an honor to go into the studio to talk about a subject I am very passionate about, the need to do metabolic testing to achieve optimal health.

I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did doing it.

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Depression – A Serious Worldwide Issue

Depression is a silent epidemic striking millions of people worldwide. I know about this issue personally as I suffered from depression when I was in my twenties. It wasn’t until I met my mentor John Kitkoski that I found out why I was suffering from depression and what I needed to do to get over it.

What compounded my problem was my exercise induced anorexia which I have blogged about earlier. That and the nutrition worlds mindset that fat and protein were bad and complex carbohydrates were good. The days of carbohydrate loading was a disaster for many of us. What we know today is that our old concepts were way off track and was the fore bearer of an age of obesity, chronic disease and yes, depression.

The reason I decided to blog about the topic of depression should be obvious after the horrific mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. People all over the world were shocked and likely depressed because of the tragedy. Many will need counseling and many more will need much more help than you can imagine. That is why I want to talk about this and give some simple advice. Understand that my blog cannot answer all the issues surrounding depression, just a few basic tips. Also, depression is a major problem during the holidays especially if we are away from our loved ones.

First off, potassium is a critical electrolyte/mineral that needs constant replenishing to keep the nervous system and brain healthy. It is something that can be easily measured in a blood test, typically found in a standard chemistry screen. The typical reference range is 3.5 to 5.5 mEq/L but I get concerned with any reading below 4.0. Raising potassium levels with foods like avocados and bananas as well as potassium rich electrolytes are very helpful. But there is a caveat and that is you can overdose potassium and cause a heart arrhythmia if you don’t balance it with enough sodium and magnesium.

The second tip to remember is the use of amino acids and fatty acids in depression. When I was a runner back in the 1970’s and 80’s, protein and fat were bad and complex carbohydrates like whole wheat were good. The problem is, amino acids and fats are critical to keeping mood up and balanced. Amino acids have been used by functional doctors for years in treating depression. Tryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin and tyrosine which is precursor to norepinephrine are key amino acids but not the only ones. A balance is necessary to achieve success.

As for fats, the brain is built with fats and keeping them out of your diet is a sure way to cause mental issues. Cholesterol, a fat that circulates within all of us has long been vilified as being somehow bad for you. Wrong. According to an editorial in Circulation magazine in September of 1999 that low cholesterol, under 160 (4.1 in countries other than the U.S)  increases the risk of depression, suicide, accidents and some forms of cancer. Now, I’m not advocating loading up on lard (which really isn’t bad for you), but getting a good amount of Omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids from fish and meats is a good idea for optimal brain health.

Another tip concerning fats is how helpful Omega 3 fatty acids are in treating depression. I typically recommend 3-5 grams per day with 250 milligrams of l-carnitine for each gram of fish or flax oil.

Above all, in order to have the best outcome for people with depression is to maximize their nutritional intake by eating the cleanest foods (organic when possible) and to take supplements to fill in deficiencies and not to overcome bad habits.

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Laboratory Testing – How Important?

If you listen to some experts, they would tell you that we do too much laboratory testing in Western medicine. To those of you who know me, you might be surprised by my answer as I fully agree. Of course that agreement comes with a caveat. The real reason is that quite often we do the wrong laboratory test and most health care practitioners don’t know how to interpret the results when they get them.

In my classes, one of which I will be doing in Sydney, Australia (February 8-10, 2013), I go over numerous case studies with laboratory test results of people ranging from elite professional athletes, weekend warriors, to people with extreme health disorders to people just wanting to feel better. What I try to bring out is what particular laboratory tests are best suited to different situations as well as how to use one of the most advanced interpretive reports available, Lab Assist.

Here is an example of a case study. A trainer came to me with a high-performance professional athlete in his early 30’s who is losing his edge. The man is having real concentration issues and sustained energy problems. His doctor had run GI tests (don’t know why) and a number of other random laboratory tests with no solution. My suggestion was to run a urinary organic acid test and a plasma amino acid test as well. The results we got back along with the biochemical fix was not surprising to me but was to the trainer.

Urine organic acid testing when done with the right lab, is one of the best functional lab tests out there. It looks at numerous metabolic pathways to determine if there are specific nutrient deficiencies that are making the system inefficient. Recent research has noted that measuring B12 levels in the blood can be misleading and miss functional B12 deficiencies. A metabolite in urine known as methylmalonate is vastly superior and can catch the deficiency before it manifests in a clinical presentation.

Another important area that urine organic acids can see is if the citric acid cycle, the primary way our bodies produce energy, is operating efficiently. With the athlete mentioned previously, his system was a mess. We were able to pinpoint what was wrong and what to do about it nutritionally. When we looked at the results of the amino acid test, we found some important deficiencies but surprisingly, he was high in the branch chain amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine that he had been supplementing with regularly. The problem was his lack of some essential nutrients to metabolize them properly to help build muscle.

This is just one example of many that I will be presenting. In my next blog about my class in Australia (and the next one in the U.S.) I will go over some other topics I’ll be covering like cognitive function, environmental toxicity, and mineral balancing.

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