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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The relationship between low back pain and an unhealthy cholesterol profile

From the Moller  files of the "Not so Useless Bits of Information".

There is huge focus nowadays on keeping cholesterol low and getting rid of the "Bad" cholesterol.  Treatment focuses on interfering with cholesterol production by way of a statin drug and through dietary restrictions using margarines dressed up as "heart healthy" and prescribing low fat. high carbohydrate diets.  While these measures may slightly reduce heart attack risk, the patient generally ends up much unhealthier overall, while the companies who make the drugs and the special foods make millions of dollars in profits, as do the doctors who prescribe them.

These measures do not work because they do not deal with the real underlying biochemical causes of an unhealthy cholesterol profile.

Low back pain
The treatment focus for back pain is on high profit drugs and surgery - and "core" exercises.  These therapies are generally a waste of time with less than impressive results over the long term.  Again, the problem is these therapies do not address the underlying biochemical causes of back pain.  I seldom prescribe exercise nowadays for back pain, other than a few of those from my book "Back Pain - A Guide to Treatment and Exercise".

HTMA profile showing a classic Cu/Zn imbalance
The link between unhealthy cholesterol, heart disease and back pain is Copper (Cu)
Or, the lack of it to be more exact.
Cu is a critical component for the integrity of the the cardiovascular system because Cu is required to produce the enzymes that maintain, among other things, connective tissues.  Aneurisms, heart enlargement, heart failure, infarcts and ischaemic heart disease are known to result from Cu deficiency.  

When the body has a deficiency of Cu relative to zinc (Zn), there is a decrease in the formation of high density lipoproteins (HDL) and an increase in low density lipoproteins (LDL).  This imbalance can lead to hardening of arteries regardless of the total serum cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Too much Cu in the system can also contribute to cardiovascular problems by its lowering of thyroid activity. Low thyroid is associated with hypercholesteremia.

The link with back pain explained
Adequate amounts of Cu are required for the manufacture of elastin and collagen, which are the primary components of ligaments and spinal discs.  Cu is specifically necessary for the cross-linking of protein which gives strength and integrity to these structures.  Zn is required for the body to synthesize protein, therefore an imbalance between Cu and Zn can lead to ligament and structural abnormalities.  This can include high or low levels of Cu - absolute or relative to Zn.

This fine balance between Cu and Zn when upset, helps explain the presence of lumbar spine disc prolapses in sedentary office workers, to name one group, and their failure to respond to conventional treatments.

Scoliosis of the spine
Copper abnormalities also explain why scoliosis mostly strike girls during adolescence.  The usual treatment is to surgically fuse the spine with a titanium rod down the middle.  This is a barbaric treatment that condemns many young women to a life of pain and disability.

High tissue Cu is commonly found in patients with scoliosis.  Perhaps one reason why this condition is so prevalent in puberty is the Cu-estrogen relationship.  At pubery, estrogen levels surge along with an increase in tissue Cu levels.  If an adolescent female already has high levels, the increase may lead to a weakening/relaxing of the ligaments supporting the spine with the consequent increase in scoliosis.  This weakening from excess Cu is also prevalent in young women (mostly) with "double-jointedness". 
Now, do not rush out and start dosing up on copper - this is the last thing to do because you could just as easily have too much. If you think there may be an issue with your mineral balance involving Cu, Zn and so on, then the only way to know for sure is to obtain an ICL Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis.

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