The patient: “Kevin,” a retired Marine Master Sergeant who was working as a guard at the Guantanamo Bay detention center (Gitmo) in Cuba. He complained of shoulder and knee pains that only appeared when he was in Cuba but disappeared when he returned home to Connecticut.
Why he came to see me: He had heard from a fellow vet that I was a strong supporter of the military and had worked some wonders with his friend’s back pain. His orthopedist had performed the necessary bloodwork and scans and told him that his joints were fine and he was not rheumatic. The orthopedist prescribed an NSAID to be used periodically, which helped a little bit. His trips to a chiropractor in Connecticut were somewhat helpful but insufficient since the problem only flared when he was in Cuba.
His military physicians had carried out physical examinations and bloodwork in Cuba, confirming the painful and tender joints and the appearance of a slight elevation of C-reactive protein (CRP), a non-specific serum marker of inflammation, which did not appear in his Connecticut bloodwork. He had no evidence of any chronic disease that would lead to the symptoms.
How I evaluated him: Kevin and I spoke at length about the environment at the detention center and, in particular, about the food offered the guard staff. Although there were some fresh fruits and vegetables served, most of the produce was not fresh and almost all of the fish, which was relatively plentiful, was caught locally. My assessment: Kevin’s body was missing out on some vital nutrients from his lack of fresh produce and the types of fish being served.
How we addressed his problem: I explained how the “co-factor value” in the produce segment of his diet, the colorful vitamin-boosting chemicals, could be boosted with a freeze-dried berry extract. Fish found in the warm waters off the Cuban coast have relatively low levels of omega 3. That could be supplemented with a good omega-3 concentrate. He was impressed that I asserted that this combination of dietary factors could so dramatically affect joint inflammation and sensitivity.
The patient’s progress: Kevin added these two supplements to his regime while in Connecticut and continued taking them when he went back on duty. I received a number of emails from him that his symptoms were substantially better while in Cuba and the problem was now manageable. He could turn his complete focus back to doing his job.