John returns to his roots in broadcasting and his days of relationship talk radio with International Bestselling author Ava Miles as they talk about Ava's latest series The Goddess Guides. The Goddess Guides take women (and men if they are interested) by the hand and lead them down the path to healthier relationships, discarding toxic influences along the way. Ava launched her writing career with the #1 national bestselling book Nora Roberts Land in 2015.
Ava's website: http://www.avamiles.com
If you like this conversation and you would like more of the same remember to click the red subscribe button to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Join John in Costa Rica where he investigates Dental Tourism. Many people do not have dental insurance and yet need dental work or surgery they cannot afford. Costa Rica offers cost savings of 60 to 70% and more over costs of dental work in the US. John traveled to Costa Rica earlier this year to interview patients and dentists. On today's show he talks with patients and visits clinics to ensure they can provide the best practices and care for international patients. In this installment he meets Ogg from Brooklyn, gets Ogg's story and visits the clinic that did the work. Ogg saved about $66,000 by having his dental work done in Costa Rica. Top dentists in Costa Rica have the same or better education than many of dentists in the US. Like with everything it seems it is buyer beware. Always do your own homework, seek out qualified referrals, and don't be afraid to ask the tough questions. Keep in mind you do not have the same access to compensation in the event anything goes wrong like you do in the US.
Websites and contacts for today's program:
Dental Cosmetics: http://dentalcosmeticscr.com
US Tel: (305) 428-3820
AIRBNB/Restaurant San Jose:
Cocina Eclectica: https://goo.gl/o5tzUd (Trip Advisor Link)
CR Tel: 8529-2509
Ross Pelton, R.Ph., CCN author of The Pill Problem delves into the history of hormone based birth control, spermicides, and much more as we explore the long list of debilitating side effects which even include death. Of course we do offer information on a new, exciting, safe, and effective contraceptive that has been on the market now for over 3 and a half years with no reported pregnancies. If you would like to try Smart Women's Choice yourself you can get free shipping and handling and a 10% discount if you use the coupon code NOPILL when checking out at Smart Women's Choice.
Jim LaValle talks about the importance of probiotics on gut health and what to look for in a great probiotic.
More info at: www.kyolic.com
Suzy talks with John at Supply Side in Las Vegas about her passions, books (we love Drug Muggers), and what motivated her to become America's Pharmacist.
More info at: suzycohen.com
We highly recommend getting a copy of Suzy's book if you really want to take care of your own health.
DOES IT SEEM LIKE EVERY NIGHT AT 2–4 A.M. YOUR INTERNAL ALARM CLOCK GOES OFF? THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST COMMON PROBLEMS PEOPLE WITH FIBROMYALGIA HAVE, AND IS INCREASINGLY COMMON IN THE GENERAL POPULATION AS WELL.
But what if it was optional?
Here are some of the major causes:
1. Drops in blood sugar. This is a major problem in people with adrenal fatigue. It can be especially common in people who are exhausted and "hangry" (hungry when angry) all day and whose minds suddenly go wide-awake at bedtime. The drop in blood sugar triggers an adrenaline rush and you're suddenly wide-awake.
The solution? Have a 1–2 ounce high protein snack at bedtime such as a hard-boiled egg or some cheese, meat or fish. A sugary or high carbohydrate snack will actually make the problem worse. You will know if this is helping after one or two nights.
2. Frequent urination. In addition to the other hormonal problems seen in fibromyalgia, people often have a drop in antidiuretic hormone (ADH or vasopressin). This makes it hard to hold onto water so you "drink like a fish and pee like a racehorse." This can keep you up at night as well.
- Because we are an upright species, gravity pools fluid in our legs. As much as a quart or two. When you lie down, it goes back into the rest of your body. Kind of like drinking a quart or two of water while you're sleeping. To prevent this, prop your feet up for a few hours before bedtime when you are sitting around. This way they can drain and you can pee the fluid out before you go to bed.
- A simple prescription nose spray or tablet called DDAVP supplies the antidiuretic hormone. So you aren't up all night peeing. This is the same treatment they give kids who bed wet. Taken during the day, it also has been helpful for low blood pressure problems (orthostatic intolerance). The dose is 1/10 mg, one or two sprays or tablets at bedtime.
- Avoid drinking a lot of fluids, especially with caffeine, for a few hours before bedtime.
- If you are only urinating small volumes, hold off on going to the bathroom for five minutes. You will often have fallen back asleep by then, and this will retrain your bladder to sleep through the night.
- If you have urinary urgency (including incontinence during the day), try the herb Angelica (SagaPro by EuroPharma) which helps promote healthy bladder function. This way you can more easily sleep all night. And during the day you won't find yourself laughing so hard that the tears run down your leg!
3. Night sweats. This can come from a number of problems. In fibromyalgia, I find that the most common ones are hormonal deficiencies (estrogen and testosterone), and infections (especially Candida). We have discussed how to treat these in earlier articles.
Another common cause is nighttime acid reflux. Although you may sometimes notice the heartburn when you wake up, other times you won't and you'll just wake up in a sweat after inhaling the stomach acid. This is especially likely to be a problem if you have daytime indigestion as well. After three weeks doing the below, you may find your daytime heartburn starts to settle down as well.
A. Start by taking an acid blocker such as Prilosec or Nexium an hour before bedtime for three to four nights. If this helps, you've identified the problem. Stop the acid blocker, as it is quite addictive and toxic when used long-term. Instead follow the instructions below.
Though it's a bad idea to keep your stomach acid "turned off" during the day (you need it to digest food), you don't need stomach acid at bedtime while sleeping. So here are a few tips:
B. Bicarbonate of soda. Take ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda (e.g., Arm and Hammer) in 4 oz of water at bedtime to neutralize the acid in your stomach (not for children under 16 years old).
C. Don't eat within two hours before bedtime and take two caps of a plant based digestive enzyme an hour before sleep. This will ensure your stomach is empty when you sleep.
D. Sleep with your upper body elevated. Raise your upper body at least 6–8 inches when in bed (just raising your head with pillows won't work). One way to do this is to place a 6–8" brick or phone book under the legs of the bed (just the two legs by the end of the bed where your head is). Another wonderful solution is to use a sleep wedge pillow (you can find one online at www.Hammacher.com.
E. Melatonin. Take 5–6 mg at bedtime. This decreases reflux.
F. Immediate Heartburn Relief chewable antacids. Keep a few at bedside to take if needed.
4. Pain. If pain is keeping you awake at night, it absolutely should be eliminated. Getting sleep will then actually help the pain to decrease over time. Some especially helpful treatments, which also can help support healthy sleep, include (these can all be used in combination in the low doses recommended):
- Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) 5 mg. One half—one tablet at bedtime.
- Ultram (tramadol) 50–100 mg. Although this is treated like an addictive medication, I've never seen anybody with a tramadol addiction, nor have the addiction specialists I've asked. Still, use the other medications instead if you are taking low dose naltrexone.
- Zanaflex (tizanidine) 4 mg. One half one at bedtime. Stop it in the rare event that it causes severe nightmares and it should not be combined with Cipro.
- Neurontin (gabapentin) 100–600 mg.
- Elavil (amitriptyline) 10–25 mg. This medication combined with Neurontin can be especially helpful for people with pelvic pain, such as interstitial cystitis or vulvodynia.
- Curamin. This mix has been a pain relief miracle for many people, and can be taken one or two capsules, three times a day as well. It continues to increase in effectiveness over six weeks and can be taken with any pain medications.
- 5 HTP 300 mg. After six weeks, it helps sleep, decreases pain, and even improves mood.
- Terrific ZZZZ. It will also have a calming effect.
For more sleep information, see my recent articles in which we discussed medications and natural remedies as well as treating sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
You can get a solid eight to nine hours of sleep a night—even with fibromyalgia!
'A CALORIE IS A CALORIE' IS AN AMBIGUOUS PHRASE. IN ONE SENSE IT IS TRIVIALLY TRUE, AS IN GERTRUDE STEIN'S FAMOUS PHRASE, 'A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE'. In another sense it is obviously questionable, because it assumes no difference between the energy produced by burning food in a bomb calorimeter and that generated by metabolic processes. It also assumes that as far as effect on body weight is concerned, fat is bad because fat by itself is calorie-dense per unit of weight, and carbohydrate and protein are good because they are relatively low in calories. It further assumes that in terms of weight gained or lost, there is no difference between diets that include the same number of kilocalories say from rice, greens and fish, or from French fries, burgers and cola, or from Danish pastries, frappuccinos and gin slings.1
Over the last decade, researchers have started looking more closely at assumptions going back more than a century regarding calories and the macronutrients carbohydrate, fat and protein. Most dieters are familiar with calorie counting and long lists of calorie tables for food portions. Indeed, the FDA mandates this information on Nutrition Facts panels and even some dietary supplements have begun to engage in this practice. One problem, as most dieters learn from bitter experience, is that over the long term calorie counting does not work. Other than in starvation mode, a condition under which all calories consumed regardless of their source are metabolized quickly to fill the deficit, the body treats calories from different sources differently and it treats calories according to the combinations in which they are consumed, the time of day, and so forth and so on. Food preparation, meal preparation, dietary patterns, etc., all count. In other words, it is not true that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.
Eat Fat, Live Longer?
Let's start with an extreme, the effect of a ketogenic diet. In this diet, the preponderance of calories is derived from fats. A University of California, Davis study published early this year, found that a long-term ketogenic diet (89–90 percent of total calorie intake) in a mouse model significantly increased median lifespan and survival compared to controls. Moreover, in aged mice only those consuming a ketogenic diet preserved normal physiological functions (strength, coordination, prevention of age-related markers of inflammation). In short, the ketogenic diet, even though it did not alter the maximal span of life, extended both overall longevity and healthspan in mice.2 How much? There was a 13 percent increase in median life span for the mice on a high-fat versus high-carb diet. In humans, that would be seven to 10 additional years with better health along the way.
Another research team, this time at the University of California, San Francisco and associated aging institutes, discovered that a cyclic ketogenic diet, meaning that it was alternated weekly with the control diet to prevent obesity, reduced midlife mortality without affecting maximum lifespan. The researchers observed that a non-ketogenic high-fat diet fed similarly may have an intermediate effect on mortality. A non-obesogenic ketogenic diet improved survival, memory, and healthspan in aging mice according to these finding.3
Note that there was no attempt in the foregoing studies to determine whether a change in the nature of the carbohydrates fed to the animals in a non-ketogenic high fat diet affects outcomes. However, even without a direct study, evidence abounds from indirect studies. Many carbohydrate sources are close to fiber in their influence on blood sugar levels and, in line with this, promote digestive health and gut probiotic diversity. In contrast, the modern American and common Western diets in general are ultra-processed diets. The healthfulness of ultra-processed foodstuffs is quite different from that of foods processed and prepared more traditionally, including, it turns out, from supposedly unhealthful foods.
A few years ago, Harry Preuss, MD of Georgetown University and I wrote a chapter for a medical text on the metabolic syndrome. We began by observing.
Throughout the world, many elements comprising the Metabolic Syndrome (MS) such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemias are becoming alarmingly common. Although many etiological factors may be involved in this situation, one hypothesis is that a well recognized increased consumption of sugars and refined carbohydrates (CHO) such as sucrose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) plays a pivotal role in the increase of these unwanted entities.4
An Increasing Content of Empty Calories
Food refining, processing and meal preparation techniques favored in the United States and in much of the Western World, including especially fast and convenience foods, have led to dramatic changes in food quality. Definitions of ultra-processed foods provide clues as to why this should be the case. In one study of dietary intakes of 9,317 participants from 2009 to 2010, food items were classified into unprocessed or minimally processed foods, processed culinary ingredients, processed foods, and ultra-processed foods.5
Ultra-processed foods are formulations manufactured using several ingredients and a series of processes (hence "ultra-processed"). Most of their ingredients are lower cost industrial sources of dietary energy and nutrients, and additives used for the purpose of imitating sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods or of culinary preparations of these foods, or to disguise undesirable sensory qualities of the final product. They are made to be hyper-palatable and attractive by the use of many additives, with long shelf life, and are able to be consumed anywhere, anytime. Ultra-processed foods include but are not limited to soft drinks, sweet or savory snacks, reconstituted meat products, and pre-prepared frozen dishes.
The average content of protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, D, and E, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium in the US diet are decreased significantly in ultra-processed foods, whereas carbohydrate, added sugar, and saturated fat contents are increased. As the degree of ultra-processed food increases as the source of total calories, the overall dietary quality measured in terms of a nutrient-balance-pattern of fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C goes down.
In another study, "ultra-processed foods were defined as industrial formulations which, besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, include substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations." In the 2009–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of the US diet, ultra-processed foods were found to constitute 57.9 percent of total energy. The content of added sugars in ultra-processed foods (21.1 percent of calories) was eight times that in processed foods (2.4 percent) and five times that in unprocessed or minimally processed foods and processed culinary ingredients grouped together (3.7 percent). Consumption of added sugars increased linearly as ultra-processed food consumption increased. It went from 7.5 percent of total energy in those in the bottom one fifth of consumption of ultra-processed foods to 19.5 percent in the highest one fifth. A total of 82.1 percent of Americans in the highest quintile exceeded the recommended limit of 10 percent energy from added sugars compared with 26.4 percent in the lowest.6
Consequences of Differences in Food Quality
As populations shift from more traditional foods and food preparations, there can be serious consequences. These consequences include increases in obesity and cardiovascular disease. As an example of the first of these, a study of food consumption in nineteen European countries spanning 1991—2008 found a clear pattern. There was a median average household availability of 33.9 percent total purchased dietary energy for unprocessed or minimally processed foods, 20.3 percent for processed culinary ingredients, 19.6 percent for processed foods and 26.4 percent for ultra-processed foods. The average household availability of ultra-processed foods ranged from 10.2 percent in Portugal and 13.4 percent in Italy to 46.2 percent in Germany and 50.4 percent in the UK. As the percentage of total energy from ultra-processed foods increased, so did the rate of obesity. On average, for each percentage point increase in the household availability of ultra-processed foods there was an increase of 0.25 percentage points in obesity.7 Estimates suggest that merely cutting in half the amounts of processed and ultra-processed foods consumed as components of the overall diet in the UK could result in approximately 13 percent fewer deaths from cardiovascular diseases by 2030.8
Benefits of Traditional Foodstuffs
Ultra-processing is but one issue among several regarding the impact of modern farming, processing and preparation of foods. It does not take into account the benefits of returning to farming practices less dependent on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides or intensive energy use. It does not take into account the effects of removing genetically modified organisms from the food chain. It does not take into account returning to the use of varietals that produce more protein and minerals per acre and less starch, and so forth and so on.9 Nor does it take into account issues such as the negative consequences of the consumption of ultra-pasteurized and homogenized milk nor the move to A1 milk (the A1 protein is actually a histidine-rich mutated form of casein, and is commonly found in US dairy products).10
Going Organic and Non-GMO
Can such changes be embraced? Much evidence suggests that the answer is "yes" to all points. This includes lower use of pesticides, higher yields in nutrients and experimentally better results from consuming the resulting foodstuffs.11,12,13,14,15,16 A significant finding from a 30-year ongoing trial is that organic farming is not less efficient nor inferior in production for many or even most crops. After a 30-year side-by-side trial, a report by the Rodale Institute found:17,18
- Organic yields match conventional yields.
- Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.
- Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic matter, making it a more sustainable system.
- Organic farming uses 45 percent less energy and is more efficient.
- Conventional systems produce 40 percent more greenhouse gases.
- Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional.
Unexpected Benefits of Traditional Foods
In previous Total Health articles, it has been pointed out that a number of "exotic" foods, such as pomegranate, support health in unexpected ways, such as promoting changes in gastrointestinal bacteria. Now, it seems, that food items traditionally found in European cuisines may have similar benefits. For instance, the bacterium Propionibacterium freudenreichii, which is used in the fermentation of Emmentale—the proper name of Swiss cheese, because it came from the Emmental region of Switzerland—benefits health. The bacterium turns lactate into acetate, carbon dioxide and propionate. Acetate and propionate are known to benefit the immune system and propionate supports the health of the lining of the intestinal tract. Other lactic bacteria in Swiss cheese, Weisella koreensis and Weissella cibaria, extend the lifespan by protecting the body against stress and the invasion of pathogens and promoting an anti-inflammatory effect on the immune system.19 Other aged cheese, such as cheddar, blue, brie, Parmesan, Gouda, Gruyère and some forms of mozzarella, also provide longevity and related benefits in a number of models.
Another route by which gut bacteria improve health is the production of a compound known as indole. Indole is produced by many types of bacteria through breakdown of the amino acid tryptophan.20 Indole and its chemical relatives can be found in plants, especially vegetables such as broccoli and kale. However, tryptophan also is found in eggs, cheese, tofu, salmon, turkey and some nuts and seeds. The key for transformation of the amino acid to indole is the gut bacteria, hence success involves more than merely adding this amino acid to the diet. Likewise, balance is the key: many meats supply tryptophan and thus are healthful in appropriate amounts, yet unbalance gut bacteria if consumed in excess.
Putting It Together
In August 2017, a major British cardiologist, Anseem Malhotra, who holds that cardiovascular disease is caused by inflammation rather than by fats,21 put out an interview entitled, "Choose The Pioppi Diet Over Statins To Beat Heart Disease."22 It provides an interesting discussion matching much of the information found above. Here are some of the key recommendations:
- Don't fear fat. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are the real enemies.
- Keep moving. Walk as much as possible.
- Extra virgin olive oil is medicine. Eat some every day. And nuts are important, too. Pioppians eat plenty of hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds.
- Get seven hours of sleep a night. Adequate sleep is required for good health.
- Stop counting calories. What you eat is more important than how much you eat.
- Eat eggs. Many Pioppians eat 10 a week.
- Pile on the vegetables. Eat big helpings of fresh, organic vegetables in at least two meals a day.
Long time readers of TotalHealth will recognize that Dr. Malhotra's recommendations based on his study of Pioppi longevity look quite similar to the Okinawan dietary pattern in many respects. Along with an only moderate intake of carbohydrates (much less rice than is typical of the Japanese diet generally) and plenty of fish and eggs, the Okinawans consume bitter melon similarly to how the Pioppians consume extra virgin olive oil, which is to say, routinely or even daily. The evidence is that these types of dietary practices coupled with exercise and other healthful habits reduce most of the elements that we have come to associate—wrongly—with declining health in advancing years.23
- Monteiro CA, Cannon G. Calories do not add up. Public Health Nutr. 2015 Mar;18(4):569 .70.
- Roberts MN, Wallace MA, Tomilov AA, Zhou Z, Marcotte GR, Tran D, Perez G, Gutierrez-Casado E, Koike S, Knotts TA, Imai DM, Griffey SM, Kim K, Hagopian K, Haj FG, Baar K, Cortopassi GA, Ramsey JJ, Lopez-Dominguez JA. A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice. Cell Metab. 2017 Sep 5;26(3):539 .46.e5.
- Newman JC, Covarrubias AJ, Zhao M, Yu X, Gut P, Ng CP, Huang Y, Haldar S, Verdin E. Ketogenic Diet Reduces Midlife Mortality and Improves Memory in Aging Mice. Cell Metab. 2017 Sep 5;26(3):547 .57.e8.
- "Potential of Diet and Dietary Supplementation to Ameliorate the Chronic Clinical Perturbations of the Metabolic Syndrome,"h with H.G. Preuss in Nutritional and Integrative Strategies in Cardiovascular Medicine edited by Stephen T. Sinatra, Mark C. Houston. (CRC Press, 2015)
- Martinez Steele E, Popkin BM, Swinburn B, Monteiro CA. The share of ultra-processed foods and the overall nutritional quality of diets in the US: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. Popul Health Metr. 2017 Feb 14;15(1):6.
- Martinez Steele E, Baraldi LG, Louzada ML, Moubarac JC, Mozaffarian D, Monteiro CA. Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the US diet: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2016 Mar 9;6(3):e009892.
- Monteiro CA, Moubarac JC, Levy RB, Canella DS, Louzada MLDC, Cannon G. Household availability of ultra-processed foods and obesity in nineteen European countries. Public Health Nutr. 2017 Jul 17:1 .9.
- Moreira PV, Baraldi LG, Moubarac JC, Monteiro CA, Newton A, Capewell S, OfFlaherty M. Comparing different policy scenarios to reduce the consumption of ultra-processed foods in UK: impact on cardiovascular disease mortality using a modelling approach. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 13;10(2):e0118353.
- Mozaffarian D. Dietary and Policy Priorities for Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Obesity: A Comprehensive Review. Circulation. 2016 Jan 12;133(2):187.225.
- Chang K. Study of Organic Crops Finds Fewer Pesticides and More Antioxidants. New York Times July 11, 2014.
- Bara.ski M, Srednicka-Tober D, Volakakis N, Seal C, Sanderson R, Stewart GB, Benbrook C, Biavati B, Markellou E, Giotis C, Gromadzka-Ostrowska J, Rembialkowska E, Skwarlo-Sonta K, Tahvonen R, Janovska D, Niggli U, Nicot P, Leifert C. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Br J Nutr. 2014 Sep 14;112(5):794 .811.
- Morin R. The Amish Farmers Reinventing Organic Agriculture. The Atlantic October 6, 2014.
- Chhabra R, Kolli S, Bauer JH. Organically grown food provides health benefits to Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e52988.
- Šrednicka-Tober D, Bara.ski M, Seal C, Sanderson R, Benbrook C, Steinshamn H, Gromadzka-Ostrowska J, Rembialkowska E, Skwarlo-Sonta K, Eyre M, Cozzi G, Krogh Larsen M, Jordon T, Niggli U, Sakowski T, Calder PC, Burdge GC, Sotiraki S, Stefanakis A, Yolcu H, Stergiadis S, Chatzidimitriou E, Butler G, Stewart G, Leifert C. Composition differences between organic and conventional meat: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Br J Nutr. 2016 Mar 28;115(6):994 .1011.
- Šrednicka-Tober D, Baranski M, Seal CJ, Sanderson R, Benbrook C, Steinshamn H, Gromadzka-Ostrowska J, Rembialkowska E, Skwarlo-Sonta K, Eyre M, Cozzi G, Larsen MK, Jordon T, Niggli U, Sakowski T, Calder PC, Burdge GC, Sotiraki S, Stefanakis A, Stergiadis S, Yolcu H, Chatzidimitriou E, Butler G, Stewart G, Leifert C. Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyses. Br J Nutr. 2016 Mar 28;115(6):1043.60.
- 30 Year Old Trial Finds Organic Farming Outperforms Conventional Agriculture. Permaculture Magazine June 10, 2015 with a link to the full study at http://rodaleinstitute.org/assets/FSTbooklet.pdf
- The Organic Watergate—White Paper—Cornucopia Institute. May 2012. https://www.cornucopia.org/USDA/OrganicWatergateWhitePaper.pdf
- Swiss cheese found to contain powerful probiotic that promotes longevity. Natural News
- Sonowal R, Swimm A, Sahoo A, Luo L, Matsunaga Y, Wu Z, Bhingarde JA, Ejzak EA, Ranawade A, Qadota H, Powell DN, Capaldo CT, Flacker JM, Jones RM, Benian GM, Kalman D. Indoles from commensal bacteria extend healthspan. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2017 Sep 5;114(36):E7506 .E7515.
- Malhotra A, Redberg RF, Meier P. Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions. Br J Sports Med. 2017 Aug;51(15):1111 .2.
- Preuss HG, Mrvichin N, Clouatre D, Bagchi D, Preuss JM, Perricone NV, Swaroop A, Kaats GR. General Lack of Correlations between Age and Signs of the Metabolic Syndrome in Subjects with Non-diabetic Fasting Glucose Values. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017;6(7):556 .64.
Varicose veins are elongated, dilated, and tortuous superficial veins usually seen in the lower extremities. They occur because of incompetency in the valves of the vein, which permits a backflow of blood in the dependent position. The cause of valvular incompetence is unclear, but predisposing factors include familial tendency, inherent weakness in the vein walls, congenital arteriovenous fistulas, pregnancy, ascites, occupations requiring prolonged standing, obesity, and vein trauma or occlusion. Varicosities increase with age and are more common in women than in men. Initially the vein may be palpated but invisible, and the individual may have a feeling of heaviness in the legs that gets worse at night and in hot weather. Aching also occurs after prolonged standing or walking, during menses, or when fatigued. Over time, the veins can be seen as dilated, purplish, and ropelike.
Conventional medical treatment for varicose veins is surgical removal, called “vein stripping,” or injections called sclerotherapy, into the veins, which cause them to collapse and “scar down.” In addition, there are nutraceuticals that can be used as part of a complementary approach to varicose vein treatment. These include butcher’s broom, vitamin C, horse chestnut extract, Ginkgo biloba extract, gotu kola, psyllium husks, and witch hazel.
Butcher’s Broom (BB) has been successfully used, alone and in combination with other natural substances in the treatment of varicose veins. In one study, a combination of BB (16.5 mg), the bioflavonoid hesperidin (75 mg) and vitamin C (50 mg) were evaluated in 40 patients between ages 28 and 74, suffering from varicose veins and venous insufficiency of the lower limbs. The results showed improvement in symptoms and other parameters. In addition, the biological and clinical tolerability were excellent.1 Other research using this same combination of BB, hesperidin and vitamin C demonstrated similar efficacy.2 One mechanism by which BB exerts its beneficial effect is by altering levels of a substance called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which may play a role in degrading the venous tissue, and seems to be found in elevated levels in varicose veins.3
The last paragraph cited studies involving the successful use of vitamin C, BB, and hesperidin for varicose veins. The role of vitamin C in this regard makes sense when considering its well-known function of maintaining the integrity of blood vessels.4 In addition, elderly individuals who had higher blood levels of vitamin C (vegetarians) were found to have a much lower incidence of oral varicose veins (that’s right, varicose veins can occur orally too) than the general elderly population.5
Horse chestnut seed
Horse chestnut extract (HCE) can be used both internally and as an external application for disorders of venous circulation, including varicose veins.6 Preliminary studies in humans have shown that 300 mg three times per day of a standardized HCE produced some benefit on one aspect of varicose veins after only 12 days of supplementation.7 In addition, the triterpenes found in HCE, inhibit the venous enzymes that degenerate vein wall membranes.8 Additional research showed that a single dose of HCE significantly reduced the leg volume and capillary filtration when pressure was applied to the thighs of normal women with normal non-disease related inadequate circulation.9
One mechanism that may account for the alterations observed in varicose veins is the lack of oxygen resulting in damage to the vascular wall, and measured clinically by circulating endothelial cells (CEC) detached from the vascular wall. In one study, an extract of Ginkgo biloba was tested by a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. In the group receiving the Ginkgo, the CEC count decreased by an average of 14.5 percent after a 4-week treatment period. The placebo group, however, only experienced an 8.4 percent decrease in CEC. The decrease from week 0 to the end of treatment was significantly higher in the Ginkgo group than in the placebo group.10 These results suggest that the Ginkgo improved circulation and consequent oxygenation, resulting in less vascular damage.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is known for its stimulating properties on the healing of wounds and increased collagen synthesis.11 This benefit appears to extent to reducing the breakdown of connective tissue in blood vessel walls, as shown in a study on patients with varicose veins who used gotu kola.12 Research has certainly shown that this herb is able to improve microcirculation in cases of venous insufficiency (poor vein circulation),13 which includes a reduction in symptoms of heaviness in the lower limbs and edema,14 ankle edema, foot swelling, as well as an improvement in other parameters of microcirculation.15 Perhaps of greatest significance is that, like Ginkgo, gotu kola has also been shown to reduce the number of circulating endothelial cells—which suggests a potential benefit for varicose veins.16
It is vital that adequate fiber be included in the diet. Insufficient fiber causes increased pressure within the abdomen, which in turn creates excess “back” pressure on the veins, which return the blood from the legs, contributing to varicosities. Of course, dietary fiber is found in whole grains, beans, and root vegetables. These sources, however, can be supplemented with psyllium husks, which are an effective treatment for simple constipation, and whose use has been associated with better stool consistency and a lower incidence of adverse events.17
Although witch hazel is known primarily for combating hemorrhoids, it may also be useful for varicose veins.18,19 Application of a witch hazel ointment three or more times per day for two or more weeks is necessary before results can be expected.
- Cappelli R, Nicora M, Di Perri T, Drugs Exp Clin Res (1988) 14(4):277–83.
- Weindorf N, Schultz-Ehrenburg U, Z Hautkr (1987) 62(1):28–38.
- Nemcova S, et al, J Vasc Surg (1999) 30(5):876-83.
- Whitney E, Cataldo C, Rolfes S, Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition, Fifth Edition (1998) West/Wadsworth, Belmont, California, p. 359–60.
- Eddy TP, Taylor GF, Age Ageing (1977) 6(1):6–13.
- Blumenthal M, et al, eds. The Completely German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines (1998) Austin, TX: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, pp. 149.
- Kreysel HW, Nissen HP, Enghofer E, Vasa (1983) 12:377–82.
- Facino RM, et al, Arch Pharm (1995) 328(10): 720–4.
- Bisler L, et al, Dtsch Med Wschr (1986) 35:1321.
- Janssens D, et al, J Cardiovasc Pharmacol (1999) 33(1):7–11.
- Maquart FX, et al, Connect Tissue Res (1990) 24(2):107–20.
- Arpaia MR, et al, Int J Clin Pharmacol Res (1990) 10(4):229–33.
- Cesarone MR, et al, Minerva Cardioangiol (1994) 42(6):299–304.
- Pointel JP, et al, Angiology (1987) 38(1 Pt 1):46–50.
- Cesarone MR, et al, Minerva Cardioangiol (1992) 40(4):137–43.
- Montecchio GP, et al, Haematologica (1991) 76(3):256-9.
- Dettmar PW, Sykes J, Curr Med Res Opin (1998) 14(4):227–33.
- European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy. Hamamelidis folium (Hamamelis leaf). ESCOP Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs (1997)Exeter, UK: ESCOP.
- Blumenthal M, et al, eds. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines (1998) Austin, TX: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, pp. 231.
Warming Spiced Fruit Drink with Special Ecuadorian Bread
Recipes from Dr. Gloria's Ecuadorian Kitchen
The "Colada Morada" is an indigenous tradition in Ecuador, specifically the Northern Andean Region where my Health Sciences/Research center is based. This holiday, on November 2nd, (Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead) is a day that honors deceased saints in this deeply religious culture. It is celebrated in families and social gathering as a tradition handed down from generation to generation and has become an Ecuadorian gastronomical delicacy, especially for us expats who now make Ecuador home.
If you walk through an Ecuadorian neighborhood from October (especially) thru the New Year holiday you'd get whiffs of spices like cinnamon, allspice, and fruit. Having been raised by a South American paternal grandmother, I equate this Ecuadorian drink to Mexican Atolé, Champurrado. Although these spiced drinks have similar spices, they are each vastly unique.
One of the many rewarding aspects about living and traveling abroad is that we get to add and enrich our own holiday festivities as we discover new traditions from our host country, as I've experienced here in Cotacachi, Ecuador, S.A.
An interesting holiday that people celebrate here in Ecuador (like Halloween in the U.S.) is Dia de los Difuntos or Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)—which is November 2nd. This celebration takes on a very reverent and spiritual focus versus our fun pumpkins, trick-or-treating and dressup kind of festivities in America. From what I'm told, the Day of the Dead here has origins from the indigenous Indians mixed with Catholic beliefs. It's their time to commemorate deceased loved ones and saints—some reflect on those they've lost, others set up altars or clean the gravesites, and others just enjoy the food traditions as there is always a food aspect to any special day, especially in Latin cultures: the Colada Morada and Guaguas de pan are special to this day.
As we explore, learn and join-in holidays or traditions from different cultures, it becomes a unique learning experience and one in which I feel blessed that I'm here to partake. Ecuadorians are deeply spiritual and traditional people who have embraced me like family, of course it helps that I speak fluent Spanish and I'm a doctor of natural health. I have lived and traveled to many areas and countries and often, local interests, and beliefs just don't interest us or align with our consciousness, so, we just move on…not so for me in Ecuador…my small city, this vast diverse country and its people have stolen my heart and soul!
Halloween, for example, for many involves witchery and other things that don't align with our family values, so we enjoy the lighter hearted festivities of Halloween like dressing up and trick-or-treating. Day of the Dead is not a custom I ever participated in until invited to a large gathering at the home of friends who are three brothers that own a transportation and tourism business (Patricio, Jorge & Milton). Besides a delicious feast that included a roasted pig in the ground, indigenous dances, traditional flute music, and a world-renown Shaman, they served the traditional and delightful Guaguas de Pan (baked in an outdoor wood oven) and Colada Morada. It was a fun time getting to know my Ecuadorian neighbors and expats (which number about 800 in a city of about 10,000 in the town proper) in our little community of Cotacachi—it also gave us all an opportunity to learn more about their traditions in our new chosen home.
- 1 cup purple or black corn flour**
- 14 oz. orange juice
- 2 cups blackberries (frozen or fresh)
- 2 cups cranberries (frozen or fresh)
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 1 pineapple, peels and core + 2 cups very finely diced pineapple
- 5–6 cinnamon sticks
- 4–5 whole cloves
- 4–5 all-spice berries
- 12–14 oz panela (brown sugar)
- A few lemon verbena leaves, fresh or dry
- A few lemon grass leaves, fresh or dry
- 2–4 pieces orange peel
- 8 + 4 cups water
* In the original Ecuadorian recipe, they use a fruit known as Naranjilla. It's very tasty but ignites inflammation because it IS a member of the nightshade genre. Therefore, I've had to adapt the recipe because we know nightshades, with their inherent chemical Solanaceae, induce inflammation.
Naranjilla simply refers to "little orange" because it is round and bright-orange when fully ripe but it is NOT part of the citrus orange family.
**NOTE: If in the U.S. you can find the purple corn flour in Hispanic grocery stores, and you can also find it online at Amazon.com, Amigofoods.com, or Latinmerchant.com.
Also, I always found lemon verbena leaves at natural food markets and many ethnic markets.
If you're in Ecuador you just need to go to the mercado (indigenous farmers'market) and ask them to give you the atado de hierbas para colada morada y las especias—they should hand you a bushel of herbs and a small bag of spices for just pennies.
Alcoholic Option: Some people add rum or red wine to the mix and heat along with the finished product, just make sure it gets hot but doesn't boil once you add the alcohol.
- Place the pineapple skins and core, cinnamon, spices and panela or brown sugar in a large pot with 8 cups of water. Boil for about 20–25 minutes.
- Add the lemon verbena, lemon grass, and orange peel.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes—remove and strain.
- In a separate pot, add 4 cups of water with the cranberries and blackberries, boil for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool down until safe to handle, blend and strain.
- Mix the cup of purple corn flour with 1 cup of the spice pineapple liquid until well diluted.
- Add the strained berry mix, the spiced pineapple liquid and the diluted purple flour mix to a large pot.
- Cook over medium heat, stir constantly to keep it from sticking, bring to a boil.
- Add the pineapple chunks and reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, add the strawberry slices and serve warm or cold.
Day Of The Dead Bread Dolls Guaguas de Pan Recipe
- 1/2 cup sugar or Lakanto natural sweetener
- 1/2 cup butter (I prefer the salted one for this recipe)
- 1/2 tsp. fine natural sea salt
- 1 cup sour cream (you can use regular plain yogurt, NOT the low fat or no fat version)
- 4 tsp. dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 4–4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (you can use full-bodied gluten-free flour)
- Egg yolk for brushing top of pastry to encourage browning
- In a small sauce pan over low medium heat place sour cream (or yogurt), sugar, butter and salt until butter dissolves. In a large bowl dissolve yeast and warm water. Let it stand for 5 minutes. If it doesn't bubble you most likely need some new yeast that is active.
- Pour warm sour cream mixture (make sure it's not hot), eggs, vanilla, cinnamon in with the yeast mixture and stir. Slowly add in the flour. Cover dough tightly for at least 5 hours. NOTE: I've done this for as short as 30 minutes and it was still delicious but the longer it rises the more it expands in the baking process.
- Flour your surface where you will be rolling the dough. Divide dough into 4 equally sized balls. Work with each ball and knead one at a time. For the Guaguas de pan you need to make the head and the body separate and then join them. First make small balls for the head and then double the size of that for the body. Flatten the balls and fill them with chocolate morsels, caramel or jelly. The caramel can get messy so if you put too much filling it will ooze out and you won't be able to close them quite right.
- Once they are closed-up and rolled you can start shaping the balls. To attach the head to the body you will need to lay the head over the part of the upper body and work it in. You can wet the tip of your fingers to work it back in.
- Brush them with egg yolk. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 15–20 minutes. Once they've cool down you can decorate them—if you decorate them while warm the icing will not stay on. Here is my favorite, love that mustac...
NOTE: This is such a healthy fun option for children instead of all the sugary candy at Halloween. Yes, this is still a bread and contains sugar (unless you use Lakanto natural sweetener) but it's a healthier option and a great idea for an interactive party.
Health Benefits of Main Ingredients
Since many of the listed ingredients are common and I've written extensively about their health benefits, I'm only listing those that are most unique to this recipe.
Purple Corn: Not many super foods are found in lower altitudes and purple corn is no exception. Purple corn contains a variety of phytonutrients (plant nutrients) including massive amounts of phenolics and anthocyanins, which contain the highest antioxidant activity according to recent research.
Anthocyanins are a type of complex flavonoid that produces blue, purple or red colors. They are anti-inflammatory and encourage connective tissue regeneration. In addition, antioxidants keep us looking young, protect us from disease, promote healthy blood flow, and reduce cholesterol.
In research studies, it appears anthocyanins may stabilize and protect capillaries and blood vessels from free-radical damage, and they have shown to promote collagen formation (which is great for skin) and improve circulation.
Purple Corn has a higher antioxidant capacity than blueberries, making it one of the most exciting new super foods of our time. And speaking of exciting, there is an ancient Hopi prophecy that says when purple corn comes to the West, that is a sign that great changes are happening on the planet.
Purple Corn Studies and Benefits
Studies show that a diet rich in polyphenolic compounds is associated with reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Recent research in both animals and humans have shown that increasing polyphenol intake can:
- Protect against atherosclerosis
- Lowers blood pressure,
- Reduces blood clots
- Elevates antioxidant capacity of the blood
A study by Tsuda et al in 2003 revealed the effects of purple corn on obesity and diabetes. Two groups consumed a diet rich in fats for 12 weeks, but one of the groups also received purple corn pigments. The group consuming the purple corn DID Not:
- gain weight;
- suffer hypertrophy in the adiposities of the fat tissues;
- show hyperglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in the blood, which is the beginning of diabetes), or hyperleptinemia (increased serum leptin levels, which is another marker for diabetes).
In comparison, the group that didn't receive the extract and ate only a fat rich diet, showed an increase in all areas, thus showing the incredible benefits for fighting obesity and diabetes.
A Japanese study at Nagoya University showed that the pigment in purple corn impedes the development of cancer in the colon. Since colon cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, adding some purple corn to the diet seems to me to be a great insurance from nature.
Buen Provecho, Enjoy, and don't be confined to the traditional "box" for celebrating holidays—venture out and take a visionary trip to Ecuador with me as your guide.
Licorice is an herbal anti-inflammatory agent often used to achieve the same effects as corticosteroid medications. Pets with a variety of allergic problems may benefit from therapy using licorice.
Licorice is a fast acting anti-inflammatory agent. It is also known for its antimicrobial and immune-stimulating properties. Many herbalists regard it as "nature's cortisone" due to it glycyrrhizin content, and it is often recommended for pets with arthritis, allergies, asthma, and other inflammatory disorders. Licorice root inhibit inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes (similar in activity to corticosteroids).
Because licorice also exhibits mineralocorticoid as well as glucocorticoid activity, it has been suggested for use in Addison's disease.
The use of licorice may allow pet owners to use decreased doses of more potent corticosteroids.
Licorice is beneficial for the treatment of liver diseases due to its ability to prevent free radical damage and inhibit formation of free radicals. Licorice also has a protectant effect and enhances interferon and T-cell production to boost the immune system.
Licorice reduces inflammation in pets with bronchitis and may act as an expectorant. Licorice has also shown antibacterial activity.
In the intestinal tract, licorice helps heal ulcers and may decrease hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) is a special extract made by removing the glycyrrhizin molecule, leaving the flavonoid components. In people, DGL is used for treating ulcers of the mouth and small intestine and in inflammatory bowel disease. The anti-ulcer effects in people have been shown to be as effective as antacid medications such as Tagamet. DGL is also recommended as an herbal ulcer-preventive (similar to drugs such as misoprostol) for people taking nonsteroidal medications and corticosteroids. However, it is not clear that DGL provides all the same benefits as whole licorice for other problems.
Several double-blind studies in people show benefit to patients with HIV infection and AIDS; similar results might occur in cats with leukemia or immunodeficiency infections.
Tinctures appear to be the preferred form in pets.
When used in large doses and for extended periods of time, licorice can produce similar cortisone-like effects as steroid medications, including high blood pressure and increased serum potassium. Do not use in pregnant animals.
If used for more than two weeks at a time, side effects can include decreased potassium (supplementing with potassium is recommended), fluid retention, high blood pressure, and increased sodium; increased sodium excretion may be needed. These effects can be especially dangerous if you take digitalis, or if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease. Licorice may also increase both the positive and negative effects of treatment with corticosteroids, such as prednisone. Dandelion leaf can be added to the regimen to help increase potassium and decrease sodium. In people, side effects occur commonly at levels above 400 mg per day.
DGL is believed to be safe, although extensive safety studies have not been preformed. Side effects are rare.
Safety for either form of licorice in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. Similar precautions are probably warranted in pets. If the pet is taking: digitalis, long-term use of licorice can be dangerous; thiazide or loop diuretics, use of licorice might lead to excessive potassium loss; corticosteroid treatment, licorice could increase both its effects and its side effects.
Do not use in animals with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or kidney disease; in pets taking digitalis medications; or in pets with diabetes. Licorice could increase blood-clotting time.
Licorice induces cytochrome P-450 enzymes in the liver; this may alter the metabolism of other drugs, decreasing their serum levels.
If licorice root is used for more than two weeks at a time, the diet should be supplemented with potassium and the sodium should be decreased. Caution should be used in animals with heart disease or hypertension. In large amounts, steroid over dosage (Cushing's disease) could theoretically occur. It should not be used in pregnant animals and care must be exercised in diabetic pets.
Women account for approximately 40 percent of all hair loss sufferers in the United States. There is an important link between a woman's hair and her identity. For many women, hair loss changes their self-image and is a difficult adjustment both mentally and emotionally.
When I originally wrote The Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook (Lexi-Comp, 1999) I was astounded to learn that oral contraceptives deplete more nutrients than any other commonly prescribed class of drugs. This prompted me to write The Pill Problem (2013) which instructs women on how to prevent the side effects from oral contraceptives.
According to the American Hair Loss Association (yes, there really is such an organization), women who have a family history of hair loss are at a much greater risk of experiencing hair loss from taking oral contraceptives. In this article, I am going to address the nutrient depletions caused by oral contraceptive that could cause or contribute to women's hair loss.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, both oral contraceptives and low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) are common causes of hair loss in women.1 Many health professionals do not realize that there is a connection between these two causes.
The amino acid tyrosine is one of the nutrient depletions caused by oral contraceptives.2 Tyrosine is an amino acid that is required for production of the thyroid hormones. Hence oral contraceptive induced tyrosine depletion can lead to under production of thyroid hormones. This can lead to hypothyroidism, which has hair loss as one of its symptoms.
Selenium is also depleted by oral contraceptives.3 Selenium is a trace mineral that is required for enzymes that convert thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3).4 This means that selenium plays an important role in controlling thyroid metabolism. Thus, selenium deficiency can result in hypothyroidism, which has hair loss as one of its many symptoms.
Zinc is another nutrient that is depleted by oral contraceptives. Zinc deficiency can contribute to female hair loss in two ways. First, zinc is required for the production of collagen and keratin which are proteins that play critical roles in the structure of hair follicles and in hair growth. Zinc is also involved in the synthesis and mode of action of thyroid hormones.5
Every day hair is exposed to a wide variety of harmful agents that are damaging to human hair. Things like ultraviolet radiation from the sun and environmental toxins and pollutants can all generate free radicals that damage hair and can cause or contribute to hair loss. On the other hand, the role of antioxidant nutrients is to neutralize free radicals, thereby preventing or reducing damage to all parts of the body, including hair.6
Oral contraceptives have been documented to deplete the following antioxidant nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, zinc and coenzyme Q10. A deficiency of any one of these antioxidant nutrients will result in an increased production of free radicals, which can damage DNA and destroy cells, including hair follicles.
Beyond hair loss, nutrient depletions caused by oral contraceptives can cause many additional health problems such as blood clots, birth defects, weakened immune system, heart attacks, depression, sleep problems, and various sexual side effects, to name a few. My book The Pill Problem discusses all of the side effects from oral contraceptives and offers women information on how to prevent and/or correct these problems. The Pill Problem is available in paperback or as an e-book at naturalpharmacist.net or on Amazon.com.
A Safe Alternative to Hormone-Based Birth Control
In closing, I want to announce a relatively new form of contraception for women that is a vaginal cream which is all natural, safe and 100 percent effective. The product, which is named Smart Women's Choice (SWC), was developed by Francoise Farron, PhD. Dr. Farron, a Harvard biochemist (now retired), originally presented SWC to me in 2015. After examining the evidence at that time, I realized that Smart Women's Choice was a good contraception option for women and I wrote an article about it which I posted on my blog in October, 2015. At that time, the product did not gain much acceptance with health professionals due to a lack of scientific studies to document its safety and effectiveness.
In July 2017, Dr. Farron contacted me with exciting new information regarding Smart Women's Choice. An independent lab has conducted a test and verified that Smart Women's Choice is indeed 100 percent effective at immobilizing sperm. SWC works by causing sperm to agglutinate, which means to clump or stick together.
Also, Dr. Farron reported that to date, over 1,300 women have been using Smart Women's Choice without a single incidence of failure. This is impressive since all forms of contraception ranging from condoms to oral contraceptives and everything in between have a failure rate. Smart Women's Choice is a natural, hormone-free form of contraception for women that is safe and 100 percent effective. You can view the video of an independent lab test which demonstrates the efficacy of SWC as it immobilizes sperm on www.smartwomenschoice.com.
- American Academy of Dermatology WEB site: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/conditions/hair-loss.
- Effect of oral contraceptives on tryptophan and tyrosine availability: evidence for a possible contribution to mental depression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7266825.
- Fallah S. et al. Effect of contraceptive pill on the selenium and zinc status of healthy subjects. Contraception 2009 July;80(1):40–3.
- Negro R. Selenium and thyroid autoimmunity. Biologics. 2008 june;2(2):265–73.
- Arthur JR., Beckett GJ. Thyroid function. British Medical Bulletin 1999; 55 (No. 3): 658– 68.
- Trueb RM. Oxidative Stress in Aging of Hair. Int J Trichology. 2009 Jan-Jun;1(1):6 –14.
Infertility is becoming widespread these days but in the early 1900's, families with five children or more were commonplace. A century later, we now have fertility clinics available to women who want to just have one child. Infertility treatment is expensive and painful for couples who often become desperate after years of failed treatments. One common overlooked reason is low DHEA levels. DHEA is short for DeHydroEpiAndrosterone.
This is the "fountain of youth" hormone and it's a natural adrenal hormone which peaks at age 25, then steadily declines as we age. DHEA can be converted into testosterone and estrogen. Less DHEA means less of these sex hormones. Blood or saliva tests are available to gauge DHEA levels which must be in balance with other adrenal hormones, especially cortisol. High cortisol will cause you to hold on to belly fat.
Cortisol goes up in response to stress. Remember, these two are supposed to be in balance, like a see-saw. So you can see where I'm going with this. Cortisol climbs up and up in many women given the fast paced 21st century non-stop information overload, lack of sleep, caffeine, work-related stress, financial obligations or relationship stress. When it comes time to have a baby, cortisol could be high while DHEA levels may be seriously tanked! Some signs and symptoms include bad PMS (premenstrual syndrome), fatigue, brain fog, mood swings or high cholesterol.
But wait, the fertility doctor told you it was a low count of eggs! Yes that could be true, it's technically termed "Low Functional Ovarian Reserve" or LFOR, which could occur from aging ovaries. At puberty, you may have had 250,000 to 500,000 eggs, but by age 37 perhaps there are 25,000 eggs, and by the time you hit menopause you may have less than 1,000 eggs. If you have LFOR, a specialist in this field will often complement in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with DHEA supplements and/or testosterone medications. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Ovarian Research research supports it. Female participants received 75 mg of DHEA for three consecutive menstrual cycles prior to IVF experiences. Those who received DHEA had more embryos leading to more successful pregnancies. But don't supplement with DHEA by yourself, dosing is dependent on many factors, especially genes which I study every day.
Your response and metabolism of DHEA is dependent on your personal genetic variants meaning supplementation can be good or bad depending on your genes. Cellular and animal studies show that SNPs in any of the following genes affect your metabolism of DHEA: Aromatase, steroid 5?-reductase, sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG), fragile X mental retardation protein and breast cancer type 1 (BRCA1 gene) can affect levels of androgens in women. Short of screening yourself for all potential genetic variants, I think it's better for you to just do hormonal assessments to see if you have low DHEA or low testosterone.
I've been a pharmacist for 25 years now. Let's face, I know the good, the bad and the ugly drugs. I know we need some of them, and I know that others are not useful, or worse, they are harmful. So today I've decided to share the best remedies that help from head to toe:
Headaches- Taking butterbur (Petasites hybridus) at a dose of 75mg twice daily helps reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. You can take all the triptan drugs you want (ie Imitrex, Zomig or others) but these drugs usually just reduce pain, sometimes they abort a headache. The butterbur may slash the number of attacks in half. This is HUGE if you have to hold down a job or take care of kiddos. I discussed butterbur and dozens of other solutions my book, Headache Free.
Hypothyroidism- It's impossible to have healthy thyroid function without selenium. Not only will it hinder your ability to make thyroid hormone, it will also stifle your ability to use the hormone inside the cell. There's more about selenium, iodine, B12 and ashwagandha at my website where I archive other articles on thyroid health.
Heart Failure- Niacin (vitamin B3) was found to reduce heart attack and stroke risk in a 2010 study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Doses vary tremendously, so please do nothing until you have your physician's approval. Niacin causes vasodilation (opens vessels) which reduces arterial pressure. I would be remiss if I didn't mention CoQ10 while discussing the heart or heart failure. CoQ10 also lowers blood pressure. I like about 100 to 200 mg daily but again, please always ask your doctor what's right for you.
Digestive disorders- My number one go-to supplement is probiotics. These improve digestion and support a healthy immune system and mood. Digestive enzymes break down the food you eat into absorbable molecules. For heartburn, I recommend slippery elm or marshmallow root. As for nausea and vomiting, ginger tea is gentle and popular. It's a mild blood thinner though, so be careful. And finally peppermint supplements can help with irritable bowel syndrome. The value of peppermint has been discussed many times, even in the British Medical Journal in 2008.
Bone loss- We all know about calcium. But did you know without enough magnesium, vitamin D or K2, you don't even incorporate the calcium into your bones?! So keep in mind the best bone-building supplements contain key minerals, you don't just push one like calcium all by itself. Natural strontium is another over-the-counter mineral used for bone integrity.
Painful knees- Glucosamine sulfate promotes cartilage formation. Collagen is another supplement that reduces pain in the knee joint of osteoarthritis sufferers. A 2012 study in the Annals of Rheumatic Disease found that losing weight helped reduce the amount of cartilage loss while increasing proteoglycan content (squishiness).
Toenail fungus- Apply essential oil of tea tree, and eliminate all sugars. You should also be checked for diabetes if you have a lot of toenail fungus.
Many of you take bisphosphonate drugs for bone loss and you write to me with complaints. Lawyers handle cases now due to the reports of catastrophic reactions like osteonecrosis or femur fractures. It's a terrible irony.
Here's another idea. Nobiletin. This is different than strontium which I've written about before. Nobiletin is a powerful "polymethoxylated" flavonoid that comes from the white stringy fiber and peel of citrus fruits (termed "pith"). You probably spit that out, throw it away or put it in your compost pile don't you? Tangerines and Mandarin oranges have awesome amounts of nobiletin, however other citrus rinds such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit also contain nobiletin.
Nobiletin has been researched extensively over the last 10 to 15 years. It positively impacts cholesterol and reduces inflammation. Great news for those struggling with atherosclerosis and heart disease, or those of you supported on statin cholesterol drugs. Nobiletin also blocks the NF kappaB pathway which induces pain. Nobiletin has anti-cancer activity, confers brain protection and improved symptoms of Alzheimer's in an animal model. Since I'm already on a tangent, I'll also tell you that adolescents and adults dealing with acne may benefit by nobiletin because it blocks sebum production. Now, let me circle back to your skeleton.
Bone loss in humans occurs as the result of one of two things. Either your bone cells fail to make new bone, or you break down old bone too quickly. There needs to be a steady balance: Discard old bone, make new bone, discard old bone, make new bone. You probably didn't realize your bones are not solid, they are dynamic throughout your lifetime.
Two major players affect the process of bone building. One is inflammation and the other is estrogen. Chronic low grade inflammation and/or too little estrogen contribute to osteoporosis.
Research published in the Journal of Pharmacological Science showed very promising evidence of nobiletin on bone health. Scientists used rodents that had their ovaries removed (which causes estrogen deficiency). Nobiletin was given, and stopped the progression of osteoporosis. Not only that, it significantly restored bone mass in severely osteroporotic critters!
How you wonder? This natural citrus derived antioxidant suppressed pathways responsible for inflammation, namely the COX2, NF-kappa B, and prostaglandin pathways. Just amazing when you think about the potential harm done by bisphosphonate drugs given by conventional physicians. By no means am I saying an orange a day will keep the hip fracture away! But regular consumption of citrus fruits or pith-derived supplements might help, and can usually be taken with certain medications (not all). Ask doc if it's okay for you, and look online or at health food stores nationwide. It's sold as Sytrinol, or as "citrus bioflavonoids" and I want you to be real careful because some of the products contain "naringen" which comes from grapefruit and this compound can dangerously spike your blood levels of medications. My point is self-treatment with natural dietary supplements -even wonderful ones- may not be right for you. Find yourself a holistic-minded practitioner to ask.
Are you worried about painful cold sores? They are highly contagious. If you kiss someone with a cold sore, or drink from their cup, you could get it too. I don't personally get them, so last week, I inwardly freaked out when the woman who was giving me a much-needed manicure had two large blisters on her lips. This incident made me wonder what I would do if I had these painful sores, and how can I help you with them.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) which belongs to a large family of herpes pathogens which cause chicken pox, shingles or keratitis (can cause corneal blindness). Millions of folks carry herpes viruses, and the cold sores in particular are not only embarrassing, but painful too. Oral herpes causes cold sores on the lips, inside the roof of your mouth or on your gums. Genital herpes causes lesions where the sun don't shine. Either way, ouch!
You can get it if someone touches their sore, then you; you can get it sharing utensils or kissing and making out. Once inside your body, your immune system jumps to it and hopefully it's just a single episode. If your immune system is sluggish, you're in for a lifelong battle with frequent outbreaks. The frequency is impacted by your diet, lifestyle and immune strength (which is dependent on having healthy intestinal flora).
Running yourself into the ground with chronic stress or worry can activate the virus and cause lesions. Pulling all-nighters, eating candy bars, drinking alcohol, smoking, eating white flour goodies and junk food can increase risk. Ingesting foods you are intolerant to, or being deficient in probiotics can increase those flare-ups. Diets high in arginine are thought to activate herpes so avoid avoid all nuts, cashews, chocolate, cereal, lentils and sunflower seeds.
Antiviral drugs like acyclovir or Valtrex are commonly used to treat HSV infections. Unfortunately, there are increasing problems with drug resistance, similar to the problem with antibiotics and superbugs. If you do take the antiviral drug and use them long term, often there are plenty of side effects and potential damage to the kidneys and liver. I'm passionate about natural remedies, so here's a few to ponder:
Lemon balm. I'd make a tea out of this, and drink it. Let the herb steep (not boil) for about 15 minutes then drink. I'd also apply it to your sore with a cotton pad. You can cool the tea first to make it feel better upon application.
Curcumin. It's well known for antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial power but it also fights HSV which means it could help you reduce the frequency and severity of your infection. We have a study to show that. Supplement, or try applying a mini-poultice to your lip sore by mixing turmeric spice with just enough water to form a paste. For extra effect, dump a little curcumin powder from your capsule into the mixture.
Lavender and myrrh. Buy both of those and combine them, apply to the sore. Dilute if it stings.
For more natural remedies, come to my website, www.SuzyCohen.com and sign up for my newsletter. You'll get the longer version of this article with more pain-relieving tips.
Have you ever had a sore throat, been stung by a bee, or twisted your ankle? Do you have arthritis, back pain or headaches? Whenever you are in pain, even post-surgical pain, your body makes compounds in response to the injury which cause temporary redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Then naturally produced enzymes in your body eat up these inflammatory compounds, and that is when you notice the swelling goes down, the pain is relieved and the redness or stiffness recedes.
One second ago, an enzyme in your body called superoxide dismutase (SOD) just chased out a cancer-causing toxin that your cell accidentally spawned. You make all sorts of enzymes, and what's cool is that you can also buy certain enzymes as a dietary supplement, including SOD. Lactose is an enzyme that chews up milk sugars, helping some people to tolerate milk. Bromelain, derived from pineapples, helps with allergies and helps people post-surgically. It might even reduce scarring if taken soon enough. People who take acid blockers could benefit from papain, an enzyme derived from papaya fruit that works nicely with your stomach's pH range.
Proteolytic enzymes another type of enzyme. They chew up proteins and help with digestion. I think they're great for chronic pain syndromes. They help dissolve fibrin deposits which helps bruising. As a teenager (way back in the 1980's) we played a game called Pac Man. Remember?(Please tell me you remember). This popular arcade game included a Pac-Man which traveled a maze and gobbled up ghosts. I was a monster at Pac-Man in my hey day! Proteolytic enzymes work in the same way, they just gobble up debris, as opposed to ghosts.
With less debris, there is improved circulation. That means more oxygen and healing nutrients to the site of injury. As a pharmacist, I recommend you reach for proteolytic enzymes before you NSAIDs such as acetaminophen, naproxen or ibuprofen. Why? Because they are temporary and they have side effects. It's the equivalent of applying a bandage, and while most of you fair out well, the unlucky few experience diarrhea, nausea, headaches, dizziness, bleeding ulcers or heaven forbid, kidney damage. Besides, if you mask your pain with medicine, but continue to operate as normal, you increase your risk of permanent damage.
A German paper studied proteolytic enzymes in 100 athletes. The results were shocking. More than 75 percent said the enzyme treatment was favorable and no side effects were reported! So incredible were the results that the German government sent millions of enzyme capsules to the Olympics to help their athletes heal quicker.
Enzymes are a necessity to life, just like oxygen, food, clean water and shelter. (Some may argue that chocolate should be included as well).
For chronic pain syndromes, as opposed to digestive issues, I recommend that you take your proteolytic enzyme supplement on an empty stomach. This increases the 'Pac-Man' effect by up to 40 percent. While these supplements are generally well-tolerated, I occasionally hear of allergies, rashes and digestive upset.
You're methylating right now! This means you're turning folate (vitamin B9) from your food, into something else called SAMe. It's the process called "methylation" and SAMe is your body's head honcho, the CEO if you will!
SAMe stands for S-adenosylmethionine and drives hundreds of chemical reactions in your body. If you ate a salad for lunch, you're turning that folate into SAMe as we speak. Well, let's hope because SAMe helps you get rid of poisons. The biggest mistake you could make is thinking that methylation problems don't apply to you because you don't have the gene mutation, what we call the genetic snp (pronounced "snip"). Nothing could be further from the truth. As a pharmacist, and a Functional Medicine practitioner, I assure you that your medicine has the capacity to mess up your methylation! Then poisons back up.
Don't think you make poisons in your body because you eat well and exercise? Wrong. Your cells churn poisons out as metabolic waste products probably a million times a minute! You better hope and pray your methylation pathway is up to snuff because if you don't methylate, toxic by-products build up all over your body. This equates to pain, depression, inflammation, elevated homocysteine, cognitive dysfunction, depression, higher risk for neural tube defects and much more discomfort. If you have the genetic snp it's a one-two punch for health problems galore.
So in summary, medications hinder your methylation pathway, whether or not you have a snp. These are the primary offenders:
Cholestyramine. This is a bile acid sequestrate used for reducing cholesterol as well as reducing Herxheimer (die-off) reactions. It is a drug mugger of folate and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D, A, E and K. Remember, no folate, no methylation!
Birth control or hormonal replacement drugs with estrogen. these drugs are known drug muggers of magnesium, B6 and B2 (riboflavin); that puts the breaks on methylation. Started 'The Pill' recently, and now you feel down in the dumps? This could be why.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, others). Lowering natural acid production in the stomach reduces levels of magnesium, and critical B vitamins. Snp or not, your body simply cannot conduct methylation adequate levels of these nutrients!
Antibiotics like amoxicillin, sulfamethoxazole, doxycycline and dozens more. Antibiotics kill your intestinal microflora (what you call your probiotics). Without the friendly gut flora, you cannot produce vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin). You also cannot activate riboflavin or folate so therefore, your methylation is blocked.
Ibuprofen. This is a drug mugger of folate, so it blocks methylation directly by stealing your folate.
Blood pressure pills like ACE inhibitors. These drugs (enalapril, lisinopril, etc) cause added zinc excretion. You need zinc to conduct methylation.
Nitrous oxide. Been to the dentist lately? If you got NO gas, then no methylation took place for awhile!
There are hundreds of other medicines that hinder your ability to methylate, snp or not! You may not have your genetic details or tests yet, so here are clues to poor methylation: Nerve pain, numbness or tingling, chronic fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, depression, mood swings, attention problems, cervical dysplasia, miscarriage, brain fog, weakness and lots of allergies.
According to a recent article in Newsweek Magazine the answer is yes, but I don't think all of the information has been gathered yet. The article is entitled "The Doctor (Watson) Will See You Now" and it generates some interesting concerns. Over 80 percent of illness is preventable and yet we only spend five percent of health dollars on prevention. And, over 60 percent of adults have a chronic disease with healthcare costs slated to reach 100 percent of our GNP by 2065, according to a leading British economist. The current healthcare system is broken and must be improved, but is artificial intelligence by itself going to be the answer?
- First, one of the AI developers is working with the Cleveland Clinic, which could be good if it is the Cleveland Clinic group working on Functional Medicine.
- Secondly, the article admits that diabetes is reversible, but also indicated that it is rarely treated that way. This reminds me of a quote from Dr. Mark Hyman during a Senate Health Committee hearing when he said, "We will not solve the current health care crisis if we just continue to do the wrong things better." Here are a few things Dr. Hyman was referring to:
- We cannot continue to use outdated diagnostic tools that are only able to identify diseases that have already started. This is totally unacceptable when we now have proven tests that can find cells misbehaving five to ten years before a disease begins.
- And, why do we continue to treat the symptoms of illness with drugs that usually don't address the cause of the problem and often create terrible side effects?
Artificial Intelligence platforms can help to improve health and reduce cost, but only if they use Functional Medicine where the platform finds most disease before it starts (80 percent are preventable) and reverses the rest with only safe, effective and less costly protocols based on Functional Medicine. There is such a platform and it has now been shown to reduce cost by over 15 percent per year. This was accomplished by using an artificial intelligence wellness platform with 20,000 employees over a five-year period. If you would like to demo this amazing program, please contact us.
Caring for our selves and finding ways to handle our stresses are clearly important practices for assuring our long-term health. They are definitely key aspects of Preventive Medicine, Along With the right nutrition and exercise programs for our body, getting proper sleep, and maintaining a positive attitude toward our self, others, and the world. Learning the individual lifestyle path that generates health rather than disease is really the finest art of medicine and personal development, and an extremely important process in which to invest. Let's look at ways to protect our body and heart from the negative effects of stress and to create better health.
One of the first steps in stress reduction is an honest inventory of where we are. Ask yourself:
- What is my biggest life challenge now?
- Is anything very out of balance in my life? If so, what is upsetting me?
- Why don't I feel fully relaxed, happy, and able to sleep well?
- What do I need to do to restore balance?
- Is there anything I can do something about?
- Health–how we care for ourselves and the result we hu-manifest,
- Career–what we share with the world and the support that is returned, and
- Relationships–how we give and receive love.
If we can master these three primary areas of life, some might say we're near enlightenment.
One of the sources of stress is inner tension between what we expect of ourselves and what actually happens. Often these expectations are quite unconscious. It's important to identify unspoken expectations or attachments. Sometimes we need to work a little harder to bring reality in line with our expectations— and to really go for our dream.
At other times, we need to develop more detachment to let go of counter-productive thoughts or desires. In this effort, a meditation practice can be very valuable. All the major religions of the world include some type of meditation or prayer. Your practice can be aligned with your spiritual beliefs.
Types of Stress (adapted from the Anti-Stress Program of Staying Healthy with Nutrition textbook)
Stress comes in many forms. For example, many of us are surprised to learn that intense joy is a source of stress, but since it requires more of our body and mind, it genuinely qualifies as stress (with an increased heart rate and the manufacture of certain neurotransmitters, such as adrenaline). Exercise can also be a stressor even though it is great for us. This is because of the repetitive movement in certain areas of the body, and because we create and release more free radicals and toxins into the blood and tissues. This biochemical process can best be handled by being sure you drink enough water and take antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamins A and C. According to researchers on stress, the most optimal combination for vitamin C is to pair it with the bioflavonoid, quercetin.
The various types of stress and some of the factors that contribute to them include:
- Mental—high responsibility; financial or career pressures; working long hours at mental tasks, perfectionism, anxiety, and worry
- Emotional—attitude toward self; issues or imbalances in our relationships; anger, fear, frustration, sadness, betrayal, and bereavement
- Psycho-Spiritual—issues of life goals; spiritual alignment, imbalance, or lack of spiritual nurturing; general state of contentment
- Physical—exercise and physical labor; pregnancy and giving birth; developmental or life changes (adolescence, menopause, and aging)
- Traumatic—infection, injury, burns, surgery, and extreme weather and temperatures
- Biochemical—deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, specific amino acids, protein, or fats and fatty acids; food allergies; genetic errors in metabolism that can result in alcoholism, other addictions, or mental illness
- Toxic—environmental pollutants such as pesticides, cleaning solvents, and other toxins; non-organic foods with additives; and the use of chemicals such as prescription and OTC drugs, in cosmetic and hair products, and overuse/abuse of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine
What is Stress?
Please realize that stress is not dictated by situations or incidents themselves; rather, real stress comes from the way we react to the issues of our lives. For stress to negatively influence our health, we must experience something as danger. If we experience a threat as stress, we may go into fight-or-flight mode, which shifts us into the sympathetic (adrenaline) side of our nervous system. That means our body actually prepares to battle or run, i.e. "fight or flight." Our circulation slows and there may be greater muscle tension; our digestion slows down, heart rate goes up, and we begin using up important nutrients. Often immune function is affected—our level of T-cells may even be depressed. And clearly then, we are more prone to become ill or "catch whatever's going around."
Sometimes there's no way around stress. For example, when a child falls on the playground, or we're putting out a fire, our body prepares us for the emergency so we can respond immediately. That's the way it should be as this level of response/reaction allows us to be more alert and ready for action.
But sometimes stress is subtler—and it may be more psychological or emotional. When there really is no physical danger, our body may still react as if there is. Then, if there's no physical activity to provide an outlet for the increased internal activity, the response may remain inward and play havoc with our physiology and organs, as well as with our emotions and our mind. At that point, we run the risk of exhausting the adrenal glands and flooding our body with metabolic toxins, such as damaging free radicals (associated with the aging process and diseases such as heart disease and cancer). This example also shows the reason why "a walk to cool down" really is a good idea.
When we're under emotional or mental stress, and still stay in a relaxed mode, we can respond more calmly and experience less emotional and biochemical wear-and-tear. Then our body doesn't shift into full battle mode and begin pouring out the chemical signals that we're in danger and must react. This relaxed approach usually leads to a better outcome as well.
Many anti-stress formulas are based on the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C because these important nutrients are all significantly depleted by stress. In addition, stress-related problems may be compounded by deficiencies resulting from generally poor nutrition. All of the B vitamins are important here—especially pantothenic acid (B5). B5, folic acid, and vitamin C are essential for the functioning of our adrenal glands. The adrenals carry perhaps the greatest load when our body is under stress.
The B-complex vitamins are ideally taken two or three times a day, particularly when we are under a lot of stress. This is especially important if the stress lasts over a period of months— for example from a big project at work or a challenging job, a chronically ill child or parent, unemployment, divorce—any of the life events that tend to deplete us over time. It's best to take the B-vitamins before dark so that we don't become over-stimulated when it's time to wind down and relax. I do suggest more minerals in the evening, as they tend to help with relaxation, especially a calcium and magnesium supplement. However, most vitamins and minerals are best assimilated if they're taken with a meal.
Note: Prolonged stress or lack of sleep can lead to a myriad of health problems. If these issues do not resolve with home treatment, you may need to see your doctor or other health professional.
Stress is a funny word. Loaded with the emotional bias of being a “bad” thing, the word stress can be quite deceiving, making it harder to handle than it needs to be. So we will offer a new way to look at it—and very effective ways to address it.
As the healing arts grows, it is important to remember that there are four key domains in healing:
- Biochemistry. This includes herbals, nutrition and medications.
- Structural. Including areas such as manipulation, surgery, breathing, exercise, and ergonomics.
- Biophysics. For example, Acupuncture, Chakra work, Yoga, and NAET.
- Mind-Body-Spirit. Understanding how the body is a metaphor for what is occurring at a deeper level. For most illnesses, including anxiety and even cancer, complete healing is unlikely to occur unless this is also attended to.
You will find that healing occurs best when all four of these areas are addressed. No individual healer is likely to have complete expertise in all of these areas. As our new healthcare system evolves, and the current one heads to extinction, it is good to see health practitioners from diverse backgrounds communicating and working together more.
So let's look at how a Comprehensive Medicine approach works when addressing anxiety and stress. I will focus predominantly on mind-body and biochemical aspects, as these are where my expertise is.
Treating Mind-Body Issues
Stress is not inherently good or bad. In fact, stress can be used to force flowers to bloom, and this analogy applies to people as well. The problem is when stress becomes chronic, and is no longer enjoyable. This then contributes to chronic elevation of the stress hormone cortisol, directly triggering anxiety. As the excessive stress becomes chronic, cortisol levels then go too low—ironically also triggering anxiety by causing recurrent bouts of low blood sugar.
A simple way to tell if stress is healthy? Simply check in to see how it feels. If it feels good, it is healthy. What is enjoyable can vary markedly from person to person. For example I enjoyed the stress of skydiving, while for my wife it would feel awful.
A Novel Treatment
The key stress antidote? Check in to see how things feel. This is so important, that I am being purposely redundant. Learn to say NO to things that feel bad. Leave your brain out of it. Our brain is the product of our societal and family training. It simply feeds back to us what we were taught that we should do to make others happy. Our feelings, on the other hand, tap into our own personal authenticity. So choose to focus on, and do, those things that feel good. Once you've determined what feels good, then your mind can figure out how to make it happen.
And yes, it is OK to simply choose to focus on what feels good in life, without being in constant battle mode against things you don't like. Like food choices at a buffet, we don't have to protest for the removal of those foods we don't choose to eat. Simply ignore them and pick those things you like. You will find that the rest will soon stop appearing in your life. This is part of how I suspect “free will” works. Our focus is like the remote control on our TV. What we focus on keeps showing up on our screen. This is why our constant “Wars on…” just seem to create more of what we are attacking.
Is it truly OK to do what feels good? Some will make the argument that “Heroin feels good, and perhaps also smacking that person who makes me angry over the head with a two-byfour.” This is why we add two caveats:
- Don't hurt others.
- Ask yourself “How is that working out for me?”
Doing this, people will find their anxiety is often coming from their choosing what they think they should do over what feels good (i.e. doing what others want, instead of what is authentic to them). Notice if you are constantly feeling, “I should do this, or I should do that.” This is euphemistically called “Shoulding on yourself.” I invite you to change that toxic behavior.
If hyperventilation is present, one will usually have buried feelings that are bubbling to the surface during periods of relative calm. Counseling to help them learn to feel their feelings helps over time. Also, as panic attacks often leave people feeling like they are going to die, understanding that the symptoms are not dangerous helps. Simply being told this may not be enough to reassure you though. You can confirm hyperventilation is the cause by breathing rapidly for up to 30–60 seconds and seeing how it amplifies your symptoms. Unfortunately, this can also precipitate a full-blown panic attack, so be forewarned, and pick a safe time and place to do this test!
My e-book, “Three Steps to Happiness—Healing through Joy,” can help guide you through the mind-body healing process.
Balance The Biochemistry
Begin with ruling out and treating overt issues, including:
- Overactive thyroid. Consider this if your Free T4 thyroid test is even in the upper 20th percentile of the normal range.
- Low progesterone (women). Progesterone is like our body's natural Valium. Consider this if anxiety is worse around menses and ovulation.
- Low testosterone (men). Consider if testosterone levels are in the lower quarter of the normal range.
- Adrenal fatigue—caused by drops in blood sugar. A key tip-off? Irritability and anxiety that triggers sugar cravings and improves after eating.
Also optimize nutrient status, especially magnesium and B vitamins. Instead of blood testing, which is of questionable value here, I simply recommend (for most people—whether or not they have anxiety) a high potency multi powder called the Energy Revitalization System (by Enzymatic Therapy). With this, one drink replaces well over 35 pills, optimizing levels of most nutrients. Also have the person decrease sugar and caffeine intake to see if this helps.
Herbals can also be very helpful. For example, there is a unique extract, which can be as effective as Xanax, but is very safe. This special extract stimulates one of the most abundant neuroreceptors in the body, the cannabinoid receptors. Many of you may recognize this as the marijuana receptor, and in fact many people use cannabis to self-medicate for their anxiety. But what if you could get the benefits without the sedation and side effects?
The good news is that now you can. Recent research showed that a special extract of the roots of the narrow leafed coneflower (Echinacea angustifoliae) was more effective than the tranquilizer Librium, with none of the side effects. It also worked quickly, with effects building with continued use. This is not the same component used for immune enhancement, and isn't found at needed levels in standard Echinacea. It is available though as AnxioCalm (by EuroPharma—20 mg per tablet).
Let's look at a few studies of this unique extract.
A study published in the March 2012 issue of Phytotherapy Research included 33 volunteers. All experienced anxiety, assessed using the validated State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). The extract decreased STAI scores within three days, an effect that remained stable for the duration of the treatment (seven days) and for the two weeks that followed treatment. There were no dropouts and no side effects.
Another study looked at higher dosages (40 mg 2 x day) in a multi-center, placebo-controlled, double-blind Phase II study involving 26 volunteers diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Over a three week period, the number of severely anxious patients (HADS-A scores larger than 11) decreased from 11 to zero!
So I begin with two tablets of AnxioCalm 2x day for severe anxiety. After three weeks, the dose can often be dropped to one 20 mg tablet twice a day. It can also simply be used as needed, and serves as an excellent sleep aid.
Other helpful herbals include valerian, passion flower, hops, theanine, and lemon balm. These can be found in a combination called the “Revitalizing Sleep Formula,” which helps anxiety during the day and sleep at night. I personally use both AnxioCalm and the Revitalizing Sleep Formula at night to ensure 8–9 hours of deep sleep.
The smell of lavender oil is also calming, and a small drop on the upper lip, or even having a lavender bouquet in one's room, can be helpful.
Structural And Biophysics
Simply going for regular walks in the sunshine, and doing yoga, tai chi, and meditation can be very helpful. A technique called centering can help people feel that they are in the calm “eye of the cyclone” when panic attacks hit. In addition, it is helpful to explore a technique called Butyko breathing, which can be very helpful for anxiety and hyperventilation.
For PTSD or old emotional traumas, a technique called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) can give near miraculous benefits in as little as 20 minutes (see EFT.Mercola.com). It may seem odd, but try it and you'll be amazed. Releasing old traumas through a simple “trembling” technique is also helpful, and the person can do it on their own. It is easy and simple instructions can be found in the book Waking the Tiger.By having the entire healing arts toolkit available, and not just using the “medical hammer,” anxiety can now be effectively treated!
Not a month goes by without headlines in the media proclaiming either that vitamins do amazing things or that they do nothing at all. Such concerns no longer are limited to those whose jobs are to raise such issues. Individuals purchasing health foods and related products increasingly are asking questions about the cost and effectiveness of supplements. Likewise, governmental watchdog agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), expect that the manufacturers and marketers of nutrients and herbs be able to back up claims with sound research. Total Health Magazine Online took an in-depth look at some of the issues back in 2011, for which see “Are Vitamin Supplements Safe?”
Unfortunately, responses to these demands for better backing for claims often are less than satisfactory. Marketing-driven science is as common as is science-driven marketing. Distinguishing between the two requires familiarity with the standards that universities and research institutions have adopted to evaluate medical evidence. This means knowing about the types of studies available and about the elements found in every properly designed study.
There are three basic types of clinical investigations: case-control studies, cohort studies and randomized controlled trials. For most nutritional supplements, the last of these is the primary form of investigation. However, for completeness, a few words should be spared to describe the other two. Case-control studies start with individuals who have already developed a disease or special condition and the controls are matched individuals who do not have the disease in question. An example is an analysis of heart disease rates in male smokers versus rates in otherwise similar males who have never smoked. This is an observational study because there is no intervention by the researchers. The strength of this study type is that it allows researchers to explore how variables influence the development of the condition being examined. The major drawback is that the study can easily be biased with regard to observations and other factors.
Cohort studies differ from case-control studies in that researchers start with individuals who have not yet developed the disease or condition being investigated. Hence, a cohort study on athletic supplements might start with two groups of similar athletes before one group begins supplement use. The analysis would consist of determining whether the group taking the supplement improved as measured by some marker for performance or perhaps had fewer injuries. This is an observational study because there is no intervention by the researchers. Cohort studies have the virtue of allowing investigators to more reliably establish whether a particular action (taking a supplement) leads to a particular outcome (fewer injuries). However, cohort studies may require years of following the subjects and also depend upon the subject populations being properly identified as identical with regard to the studied condition(s) at the start of the study rather than being weighted with some underlying predisposition. In other words, it is easy to introduce bias into cohort studies.
In many ways, the “gold standard” of investigational studies is the randomized placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trial. Ideally, the trial population is relatively uniform to start. Subjects are then randomly assigned to active and placebo arms, further helping to reduce any bias or predisposition in the groups being tested. The test is double-blind, meaning that neither the participants nor the investigators know who is taking the compound being tested. Finally, inasmuch as there often is a large psychological effect (the placebo or “sugar pill” effect) during the first weeks of a study, there is an arm of the trial that receives an item that appears to be identical to the compound being tested, but which has no effect. Note that this is an intervention study— the research actively intervenes by giving the compound to be studied to one or more of the arms in the trial. The idea here is to clearly demonstrate whether there is a cause and effect relationship between the item being studied and the outcome with the subjects. When possible, there is also a “cross-over” phase in which, after a sufficient washout period, the group that was used as the placebo arm becomes the active group and the group that had been the active arm becomes the placebo group. Not all studies lend themselves to this, but cross-over studies insure that there are no unrecognized predispositions in the subject that might bias the test results. All of this sounds good in theory. Unfortunately, as shortly will be shown, this “gold standard” of clinical trials still can be biased in a variety of ways.
The design of trials involves at least one more component that is important for evaluating whether the results of a given study are weak or strong.
The first step in any clinical trial is the production of a study protocol. This protocol presents three very important elements. First is the hypothesis of the study: what question is the study intended to answer?
Second is the study population: how and why were subjects picked to be in the study; what are the criteria for inclusion and exclusion; are special conditions involved?
Third is the size of the study sample: how many subjects are needed to insure that the results represent true findings rather than mere chance? All studies contain these three elements and the validity of these components—was the study question correctly framed, was the proper study population chosen, was the study carried on for an appropriate period of time, were enough subjects included to yield statistical significance, etc.— are essential for evaluating the worth of the trial.
Before moving to examples of weak and strong of clinical trials, a few words need to be said regarding statistical significance. The usual cut-off level is given as “p< 0.05,” which means there is only a five percent chance that the study findings represent mere chance. Some statistical models are more strict than others for performing this calculation, but readers actually need to be worried about something else, which is the study sample size. If a study uses, say, only seven subjects per arm, the small size of the study means that the reported effect will need to be very large to achieve statistical significance. Conversely, and one sees this all the time in pharmaceutical studies, a trial monitoring 100,000 subjects may find significance for what, in practice, are effects that are so weak that they are clinically only marginally useful!
As noted above, randomized placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trials are considered to be the ggold standardh for research. Nevertheless, many such trials are quite weak and misleading. For one thing, it all to often turns out to be the case that the placebo is not actually inactive, for instance, the practice of using maltodextrin or other sugars as the so-called placebo in weight loss studies. Relatedly, especially in studies involving weight loss, the placebo effect can be very strong for many weeks. The placebo effect in diet studies commonly leads to the loss of two pounds in eight weeks, and much more if diet and exercise changes are included. A BBC News report on the Internet (March 10, 2004) on trials of the drug rimonabant noted that participants taking the placebo were five pounds lighter at the end of one year. In some large pharmaceutical diet trials in which subjects changed behavior, diet and exercise, the weight loss in two months using the placebo exceeded 11 pounds!
Similarly, if exercise is included in a weight loss trial with healthy subjects, then LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides and leptin levels normally will go down, whereas HDL cholesterol will go up. Moderately increasing the amount of protein in the diet, likewise, will produce such trends. Hence, if a weight loss trial includes exercise and a controlled diet with increased protein, yet reports results opposite of these or fails to find weight loss in participants using the placebo (as happened recently in a highly promoted trial), then the reader should seriously wonder whether there was a lapse somewhere in either design or implementation because of the divergence from independently established outcomes. Moreover, it is often the case that even the most rock-solid of results cannot be extrapolated from one group to another. To stay with diet trials, studies performed in Asia or Latin America usually cannot be applied to American experience because the study populations and eating habits are so different. One has the right to question the reproducibility and applicability of studies.
Of course, many studies are very strong, although this, too, can be misleading. A recent one measured the effects of short-term, oral L-arginine supplements (12 g/d for 3 weeks) in 16 hypercholesterolemic men with normal blood pressure (BP). In this randomized, double-blind, two-period crossover design study, L-arginine tablets (1 g each) and matched placebos (microcrystalline cellulose) were used. The researchers demonstrated that the L-arginine supplement increased blood plasma levels of L-arginine and significantly reduced systolic BP (p<.05) and diastolic BP (p<.001), both at rest and during acute laboratory stressors. BP reductions were associated with a significant decrease in heart output (p<.01); these changes were mediated by small reductions in the volume of blood pumped with each heart beat (p = 0.07). These results were reproduced when the placebo group crossed over, plus they make sense in terms of what is known of the role of L-arginine in the body. Note that this study examines only one intervention which is tested in several ways rather than examining several interventions (e.g., diet + exercise + compound). With only one intervention, it is relatively easy to establish a clear cause and effect relationship.
This arginine study is an excellent example of a good study with strong results that can be completely misleading. The study lasted only three weeks. Based on a large number of similarly successful studies lasting only one or two months at a time, the temptation is to conclude that supplementing with L-arginine is a great recourse for those who are hypercholesteremic, hypertensive, need a boost in exercise, and so forth. Unfortunately, such conclusions would be wrong. As uncovered by a researcher who had been a proponent of L-arginine supplementation, long-term supplementation with L-arginine—in this case, six months.may lead either to null results or to actual harm—1 The body consists of a vast number of interconnected metabolic processes that are taking place simultaneously. A beneficial effect in one area sometimes is followed by a not so good effect someplace else. Hence, even with well-designed trials, there can remain hidden or submarine issues of which we become aware only much later.
Judging a clinical trial first requires establishing what type of test is involved—case-control, cohort or randomized controlled trial—because the type of test is the first clue as to how impartial the observations might be. Next, one must look closely at the components of the trial—the hypothesis of the study, the study population and the size of the study sample. A lack of clarity or inappropriateness in any one of these will reduce the quality of the data and undermine the analyses, interpretations and extrapolations based on the trial. Finally, clinical trials seldom exist in a vacuum. A given trial needs to be evaluated in light of related trials, especially trials conducted by researchers whose concerns and orientations are different from those involved with the test being evaluated. Readers interested in pursuing this topic are urged to examine Richard K. Riegelman, Studying a Study and Testing a Test (6th edition, 2012).
1 Wilson AM, Harada R, Nair N, Balasubramanian N, Cooke JP. L-arginine supplementation in peripheral arterial disease: no benefit and possible harm. Circulation. 2007 Jul 10;116(2):188.95. Epub 2007 Jun 25.
Antioxidants, Our Natural Protectants: Metabolic Regulators, Antitoxins and Anti-inflammatories
Antioxidants protect us. They are the sub-stances that naturally regulate the fires within our bodies.
The fires are sparked by metabolic errors in our cells—errors that are unavoidable as our cells make and use energy for the business of life. The fires can be managed when we are young and very healthy but become harder to control as we get older. Aging is not so much bad genes as it is a slow, inexorable, cumulative consequence of tissue damage from internal fires, sparked by these unavoidable errors of metabolism.
The sparks of metabolism come from living with oxygen. Our life forms breathe in oxygen and use it to do controlled “burns” that extract energy from our foods. Oxygen-based energy allows us to become more sophisticated than amoebas, but comes with a big price. Oxygen is so reactive that it draws single electrons to it, generating oxygen-free radicals within our cells. These “oxyrads” are our unavoidable “sparks of metabolism.” Antioxidants keep them from destroying our cells.
Our tiny metabolic sparks are generated at a steady rate, the oxyrads having single electrons which cause them to attack biological molecules. Molecules with single electrons are aggressive oxidants: they steal single electrons to become paired up. Antioxidants block this process by donating their own electrons.
The antioxidant defenses dare not fail. When they do, important bio-molecules lose single electrons, themselves become unstable, and initiate spreading chain reactions. A chain reaction that escapes control becomes inflammation, with cell and tissue death and progressive loss of functional capacity. Inflammatory events are our internal fires, opposed by antioxidant enzymes backed up by our dietary antioxidant intakes. Our antioxidant defenses give us power to head off degenerative disease and achieve long life.
By quenching the metabolic sparks, antioxidants are also our natural antitoxins. But if the oxygen-free-radical toxins were the only problem, we'd likely all live 120 years or more. Think about cigarette smoke—100 trillion free radicals per puff. A total 4,000-plus synthetic chemicals in everyday use; even drugs we buy over the counter set small fires. Not to mention the illicit “recreational drugs.” Even emotional stress can overheat our metabolism. In this crazy world it's not good to leave home without your antioxidants.
Infectious agents are consistently linked to inflammation. In 1990 I documented inflammatory depletion of antioxidants by HIV-1. Then there's Hepatitis C virus in the livers of four million Americans. The bacterium Helicobacter pylori accounts for the majority of inflammatory stomach and intestinal ulcers. About half of the chronically ill American veterans of the Gulf War have mycoplasmal infections. We also can't forget Chlamydia pneumoniae, the fungus Candida albicans and Giardia and amebic protozoal parasites.
Our own host immune system may trigger inflammation from over-reaction to resistant pathogens. The immune cells produce huge quantities of free radicals when on the attack. When pathogens are not easily eliminated, the immune oxidant production can get out of control, resulting in local exhaustion of antioxidant defenses and another inflammatory focus.
Almost every toxic substance steals electrons and therefore can deplete the body's antioxidants. Thus, the body's own efforts to process some substances can actually make them worse toxins. The P450 detoxification system, located mostly in the liver, combines oxygen with water-insoluble substances such as cholesterol, estrogens, pollutants, pharmaceuticals, even herbal constituents. They are made into free radicals, to be later combined with antioxidants and made water-soluble for clearance with the urine or bile. But things don't always go as planned.
The P450 system wasn't designed to deal with the huge mass of toxins that enter the body. Let's talk about acetaminophen. This legal, over-the-counter drug (Tylenol®) is made highly reactive by the liver P450 enzymes. Then it burns away glutathione, the major liver antioxidant, and begins to kill liver cells. Liver failure can result. Organochlorine pollutants, indoor pesticides, mercury and other heavy metals (and let's not forget alcohol and cigarette smoke derivatives) all deplete glutathione and threaten all the tissues.
I recently did a series of in-depth reviews of degenerative diseases. The major pattern I see with atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, bowel diseases, liver diseases, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, cataract, arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, prostate diseases, many cancers—is inflammation. By combating inflammation, antioxidants are our essential natural defense against premature suffering and death.
The body relies on foods to replenish its internal antioxidant stores. From our whole, unprocessed foods come the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E; the antioxidant essential minerals, selenium and zinc and copper and manganese; the semi-essential antioxidants coenzyme Q10 (COQ) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA); lutein, lycopene and other carotenoids; the polyphenolic flavonoids and various substances from traditional herbs. These circulate in our blood and contribute integratively to the blocking of free radicals. But a growing body of research indicates we aren't getting enough from our foods for optimal protection against disease.
The healthy body tries to conserve the nutritional antioxidants through metabolic recycling. But still there is a “burn” on our reserves. Dr. Robert Cathcart, the foremost authority on vitamin C , speaks of a “hundred-gram cold,” an influenza so severe it can burn away 100 grams (not milligrams) of vitamin C in just a day or two. A flu attack can be held to just a few days instead of a few weeks by taking lots of C and other antioxidants.
Integrative medical practitioners report that just about all their patients benefit from supplemental antioxidants. Vitamin E has been known for decades to be lifesaving against heart disease.Most of the health food community thinks of vitamin E as tocopherols. But tocotrienols are legitimate members of the vitamin E family and are excellent antioxidants. They are under clinical investigation for benefit against atherosclerotic blood vessel disease and experimentally for the slowing of cancer cell growth and proliferation.
Stephen Sinatra, M.D., a cardiologist and leader in the practice of integrative medicine, has long been a booster for COQ. I can relate to this because I also see COQ's fantastic promise. As I read about health care costs soaring through the roof, I wonder why COQ is not being fortified in our foods to lower gum disease, to improve heart and blood vessel health, to boost immunity and fight cancer development, even (yes!) to lengthen everyone's productive lifespan.
Coenzyme Q10 is unique as a potent antioxidant and indispensable energy catalyst (only ALA has a similar double role). Many of Dr. Sinatra's patients are very deficient in COQ. People taking statin drugs, beta-blockers or certain of the anti-depressants may have their internal COQ synthesis blocked. For them and probably for many of the sick and elderly, COQ is practically a vitamin. Any insufficiency of COQ can endanger the heart through impairing its energetic capacity.
Dr. Sinatra has linked much of the heart disease he sees in women to COQ deficiency. More than 100 clinical studies document that COQ improves congestive heart failure, angina, high blood pressure. About 15 percent of Dr. Sinatra's patients do not improve satisfactorily on COQ alone; these he gives carnitine and then improvement usually occurs. He also sees in the clinical evidence a potential link between poor COQ status and cancers, especially in women.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral, required through the diet though only in small quantities. Selenium has importance for human health that belies its plain mineral status. It is specific for the active sites of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GP). GP is a central player in control over free radicals.
In 1996 a major paper appeared in the prestigious (and conservative) New England Journal of Medicine, making an almost unbelievable claim. It described a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in which more than 1,300 subjects were followed for up to 10 years. Dietary supplementation with selenium produced a 50 percent reduction in total cancer mortality. The incidence of cancer was reduced by one-third. Lung, colorectal and prostate cancer incidence were markedly reduced. The material used was SelenoExcell™, an organic selenium concentrate that resembles the selenium found in food.
The carotenoids are, like vitamin E, fat-soluble antioxidants. One of them—lycopene—has been linked to exciting early results against prostate cancer. A small but controlled, clinical trial focused on male subjects undergoing surgery for prostate cancer. Half were offered a dietary supplement of LYC-O-MATO®, a standardized natural tomato extract with four times the typical lycopene content. PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels and prostate tumor size were significantly reduced, compared with the control subjects.
More recently, in a placebo-controlled, crossover trial, LYC-O-MATO® also showed good results in lowering high blood pressure. Its natural combination of lycopene with other plant nutrients may offer a unique synergy for the protection of our health against free radical and other toxic damage.
Lutein is the only carotenoid found in high concentrations in the retina, a thin cell layer at the back of the eye which constantly takes a high dose of light radiation. Macular degeneration destroys the retina and afflicts one out of four Americans over age 65. Lutein is being researched for its capacity to protect the retina and the lens of the eye and it also has anticancer potential.
Grape seed extracts are concentrates of flavonoid polymers. When the great scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi received the Nobel Prize for discovering vitamin C, he commented that he had expected to get it for discovering the flavonoids. The small polymers (oligomeric procyanidins) and polyphenols in grapes work synergistically with vitamin C to conserve the functions of the blood vessel linings and walls. Some of these flavonoids also have antiviral and possible anticancer actions.
As scientists continue with their dedicated investigations of food constituents, the latest phytonutrient star is rosmarinic acid (RA). This substance is extracted from a naturally high-yielding strain of oregano and also occurs in thyme and rosemary. All three of these plants have been revered for their medicinal properties literally for centuries. RA appears to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties, while its high antioxidant potency has proved useful for stabilizing vegetable oils against frying. It has been prepared as a powder without solvents or other processing chemicals. Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects are also being investigated.
Antioxidants are, together with phospholipids, nutrients with profound nutraceutical potential. Whether supplementation with these nutrients will extend the maximum lifespan remains to be proven. Certainly the clinical and experimental studies suggest that functional deficiencies of these nutrients result in cell-level dysfunctions with the potential to spark inflammation that progresses to life-shortening degenerative disease.
We need to keep the fires within us at a very low ebb lest they develop into the raging infernos of uncontrolled inflammation. Consumption of a variety of functional foods and supplements enriched with these nutrients will help keep that doctor away.
Phospholipids, Functional Partners of Antioxidants
by Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D.
Within the cells, circulating lipoproteins, digestive fluids and elsewhere in the body, phospholipids co-occur and co-function with antioxidants. The phospholipids (pronounced fos-fo-lip-ids) self-assemble into membranes and other multidimensional structures, together with antioxidants to protect them against oxidative destruction. This partnership between nutrient classes profoundly influences the health of the whole being.
The cell membranes are dynamic molecular assemblies that house life's plethora of biochemical processes. Our 100 trillion cells all rely on membranes to carry out their functions. Cell membrane organization is shown on the left of the illustration. Catalytic proteins are housed within a flexible bilayer (two molecular sheets), the phospholipid matrix. The matrix also houses antioxidants, including tocopherols and tocotrienols of the vitamin E family; lycopene, lutein and other carotenoids and ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10 or COQ). Also present is the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, using selenium as its mineral co-factor.
Phospholipids (PL) are the most biochemically-suited building blocks for membranes. The right side of the illustration shows the molecular plan of a common membrane PL such as PS (PhosphatidylSerine)or PC (PhosphatidylCholine).
The fatty acid tails often are highly unsaturated and therefore susceptible to oxyradical or other oxidant attack. The more unsaturated the membrane, the more antioxidant protection is required. The PL head groups each bring special properties to the membrane. In PS the head group has serine, in PC it has choline. The “prophospholipid” GPC (GlyceroPhosphoCholine) has the choline head group but lacks fatty acid tails, and is absent from the membrane proper.
PS is most concentrated in nerve cell membranes. Its head group associates with membrane proteins particularly crucial to nerve cell functions. These include:
- The sodium-potassium AND calcium-magnesium transporters that use up to 70 percent of all the cell's energy;
- Enzymes for signal transduction—protein kinases and adenylyl cyclases;
- Receptors, sensors for chemical transmitters (acetylcholine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, serotonin, others), also for nerve growth factors;
- Proteins of the mitochondrial membranes, central to energetics. Here PS also is a backup for other phospholipids.
These membrane-level functions of PS translate to health for the whole being. Double-blind trials (20 of them) show PS a superior nutrient for memory support, for partial restoration of declining cognitive function, for coping with stress in the healthy young. Preliminary research suggests PS can improve attention, learning and behavior in children.
The energy for life is generated in cell membranes. In the process oxygen radicals (“oxyrads”) are generated which are highly reactive. However good the antioxidant defenses are, some oxyrads escape control and attack membranes. Thus the brain, with its intense energy generation (up to 60 percent of the body's total), must continually renew its cell membranes. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, the minerals selenium, zinc and manganese, the energizers COQ and alpha-lipoic acid, the carotenoids lutein and lycopene, standardized polyphenolic flavonoids and other food borne antioxidants, all synergize with PS to help optimize brain functions.
The liver is our workhorse organ; its cells contain a total eight football fields worth of membrane area, to perform 500 different functions. In its efforts to detoxify foreign substances it generates a further oxidative load on top of its usual oxyrad burden. Oxidants from foods, viruses, pollutants and drugs challenge the liver's antioxidant capacity. Though the healthy liver is well endowed with antioxidants, oxidant overload can kill cell membranes. Enter PC (PhosphatidylCholine), the most common phospholipid of membranes.
Dietary supplementation with PC has clinically important, sometimes lifesaving benefits for the liver. In eight double-blind clinical trials, PC protected the human liver against alcoholic inflammation, viral infection and toxic prescription rugs, markedly improving the speed and extent of patient recovery.
The liver also carries a substantial reserve of GPC, which is readily converted into PC to make membrane. It is the most bioavailable source of choline to help the liver cells regenerate and perhaps for similar reasons is highly concentrated in mother's milk.
Taken by mouth, GPC quickly clears the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain. Working through various mechanisms, it sharpens attention and immediate recall in young, healthy subjects. In the middle-aged it benefits information processing and general mental focus. In the elderly it improves declining cognitive functions linked to circulatory damage. GPC's support for nerve cell functions, including a protective role as osmotic buffer, make a convenient biochemical fit with the antioxidant defenses operative in the brain.
Functional partnership between phospholipids and the antioxidants is not limited to membranes. The circulating lipoproteins produced in the liver (HDL, LDL and others) are made mostly from PL building blocks. Dietary PL facilitate normal, pro-homeostatic lipoprotein status, probably through their support of the liver.
The LDL are the main vehicles for delivery of fat-soluble antioxidants—E, COQ, alpha-lipoic, carotenoids, others—to the tissues. In all of 12 double-blind trials, phospholipid mixtures lowered abnormally high total- and LDL- cholesterol without harming the HDL levels. In another double-blind trial, PL significantly improved blood flow to the brain and improved abnormal platelet aggregation. These marked circulatory benefits of the PL clearly complement antioxidants' benefits for the circulating lipoproteins and blood vessel walls.
Phospholipids combine with antioxidants in facilitating digestion. The bile fluid is essential for fat digestion and absorption. Bile has a large content of PL, functioning with the antioxidant taurine as micellizing agents to fully disperse the fat molecules. Fatty acids of the omega-3 or omega-6 class make up many of the phospholipid “tails.” These are held in position by their parent PL molecules while enzymes break away prostaglandins (PG) and other messenger molecules. Membrane antioxidants help regulate the PG formed, to support a favorable balance.
The natural co-functioning of phospholipids with antioxidants in our cells and tissues suggests combination supplements for synergistic benefits. In particular, a new technology (NutriVail™) employs custom phospholipids to make monomolecular dispersions of antioxidants, with the aim of substantially enhanced bio-availability and unique clinical benefit.
Peer-reviewed publications available on request. Dr. Kidd is scientific consultant to Lipoid USA.
Lutein For Eye Health
Recent scientific studies showing a clear association between lutein intake and a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts are capturing the attention of both consumers and their eye doctors. The need is growing clearer:
- One out of four people aged 65 or older has early signs of AMD.
- One out of two people aged 65 or older has a cataract or cloudiness in the eye's lens.
- As the largest population group in the United States ages, many people are facing the likelihood of what some simply accept as part of aging, vision loss.
A Food and Nutrition Board report found that lutein is the nutrient most strongly associated with decreased risk of AMD and cataracts.
Lutein and Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Prevent Blindness America estimates that 13 million people in this country have evidence of AMD, a condition that gradually destroys central vision. While the exact cause of this debilitating condition is still unknown, family history and age are known factors.
Lutein is found in the macula's “yellow spot,” a tiny region at the center of the retina. This tiny yellow spot filters blue light for the color vision cells within the retina. The researchers found that lutein is deposited in the retina and macula, increasing its density and protecting the tissue from oxidation by filtering blue light and quenching free radicals.
Experts say that by the time a person exhibits symptoms of AMD the disease has been developing for decades. Baby Boomers are showing concern about their aging eyesight and stocking up on supplement products formulated with lutein to reduce risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Lutein and Cataracts
While cataracts generally occur in people over the age of 65, they are occasionally found in younger people as well. A cataract is a clouding that develops in the normally clear lens of the eye. This process prevents the lens from properly focusing light on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in a loss of vision.
Lutein's link to cataracts is recent but well documented. Studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest intake of lutein and its fellow carotenoid antioxidant, zeaxanthin, had a 22 percent reduced risk for cataracts; men had 19 percent reduced risk.
“Many people have been told that nothing can be done about cataracts—that they are a natural effect of the aging process,” says Robert Abel, Jr. M.D., author of The Eye Care Revolution and member of the Lutein Information Bureau Advisory Board. “But they're now finding out that dietary changes, including consumption of lutein, may have a significant impact on risk reduction.”
At the same time, consumers are taking charge of their eye health and seeking out possible solutions. A recent independent survey of consumers shows lutein awareness at 44 percent across all age groups and at more than 57 percent among consumers aged 65 years or older.
Mounting scientific evidence also has convinced eye doctors of the many benefits of lutein, with 84 percent currently recommending lutein to their patients, according to an independent survey of 300 U.S. ophthalmologists and optometrists.
These eye doctors also support use of lutein for long-term eye health (91 percent), believe consumers should supplement their diet with lutein daily (71 percent) and believe lutein is the nutrient that best supports long-term eye health (58 percent).
What is lutein?
Lutein (LOO-teen) is a nutrient found predominantly in vegetables, particularly in dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Lutein belongs to a class of natural, fat-soluble pigments called carotenoids. It promotes long-term eye health in two ways. First, acting as a light filter, lutein protects the eyes from some of the damaging effects of the sun. Second, as an antioxidant, it protects the eyes from the damaging effects of aging.
Foods considered good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include:
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and romaine lettuce
- Garden peas and Brussels sprouts
Lutein is found naturally in the human body. In fact, it is the only carotenoid found in large quantities in the retina and at low levels in the lens of the eye. The human body is unable to manufacture lutein, however, so the body must rely on the consumption of lutein-rich foods or lutein supplements to replenish lutein levels and counteract oxidative damage from light as well as the effects of aging.
A 1994 Harvard University study by Dr. Johanna Seddon pointed first to lutein's important role in maintaining long-term eye health. Since then, more than a dozen scientific studies published by such peer-reviewed medical journals as the Journal of the American Medical Association, Archives of Ophthalmology and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have continued to show an association between lutein intake and various long-term eye health benefits.
Editor's Note: Look for a good quality supplement combination of Lutein and Zeaxanthin containing either FloraGLO® brand lutein or Lutemax 2020 and Zeaxanthin. Check our Products We Like section for more information on recommended products
Lyc-O-Mato® Standardized Natural Lycopene Complex
by James Balch, M.D.
The good news is that there is clinical proof you can build a powerful antioxidant defense system against prostate cancer. By incorporating LYC-O-MATO® (standardized natural tomato extract) into your daily nutrition program you can access remarkable fighting power against prostate cancer and a host of other degenerative diseases.
The standardized natural tomato extract contains several phytonutrients found in tomatoes including lycopene, tocopherols, vitamin E, phytofluene, phytoene, phytosterols, beta carotene and more. LYC-O-MATO is extracted from non-GMO tomatoes grown in Israel that contain four times the lycopene content of tomatoes grown elsewhere.
A six-year Harvard Medical School study of healthy males found that consuming tomatoes, tomato sauce or pizza more than twice a week, as opposed to never, was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer of 21 to 34 percent, depending on the food.
As exciting as its cancer-prevention potential is the evidence that shows lycopene may help fight existing cancer. A recent paper published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention by Omer Kucuk, M.D., professor of medicine and oncology, and his colleagues at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan, evaluated the effect encapsulated LYC-O-MATO had on patients with existing prostate cancer. In this study, Dr. Kucuk and colleagues followed 30 men with localized prostate cancer who were scheduled to undergo surgical removal of the prostate. For three weeks prior to surgery the study participants were randomly assigned to receive either 250 milligrams LYC-O-MATO from LycoRed Natural Products, Beer-Sheva, Israel (which contains 15 milligram of lycopene) twice daily or no intervention. Following removal of the prostates, the glands were analyzed to determine whether there were any differences between the two study groups.
The investigators found that the treated group had smaller tumors, which were more likely to be confined to the prostate. Levels of serum PSA were found to decline in the patients who received LYC-O-MATO tomato extract. In addition, the tumors in patients who consumed this natural lycopene showed signs of regression and decreased malignancy.
“This was the first published report from a randomized prospective clinical trial showing the efficacy of a tomato extract supplement against prostate cancer,” said Dr. Kucuk. “Previous reports were largely epidemiological studies showing an association between consumption of tomato products and decreased risk of prostate cancer. Furthermore, our findings suggest that a tomato extract in the form of LYC-O-MATO may not only help prevent prostate cancer but also may be useful in treating prostate cancer.”
Research using standardized LYC-O-MATO natural tomato extract is also good news for mild hypertensive patients reluctant to make lifestyle changes.
Findings published in the The American Journal of Hypertension provide evidence that LYC-O-MATO may help lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients. The study, presented at the Sixteenth Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension on May 18, 2001, may provide a new alternative for about 50 million Americans who have hypertension.
Americans interested in lowering their risk of high blood pressure are frequently encouraged to exercise and follow a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Typically, however, many are reluctant to make changes in their lifestyles. In fact, according to NOAH, an online health resource maintained by City University of New York, only 68 percent are aware of their high blood pressure condition and only 27 percent have it under control. High blood pressure contributes to 75 percent of all strokes and heart attacks.
Now there is a natural alternative to controlling hypertension that may prevent Americans from making difficult lifestyle changes and/or taking drugs with harmful side effects.
In a single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, Esther Paran, M.D., the study's principal investigator, evaluated the effect of LYC-O-MATO® on grade 1 hypertensive patients. In this study, 30 grade 1 hypertensive patients between the ages of 45–60 were administered a daily dose of identical placebos for the first four weeks of the study, followed by a 250 mg daily dose of LYC-O-MATO® for the final eight weeks of the study.
Preliminary results of this study indicate a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure in treated patients. “We are optimistic about LYC-O-MATO'S potential in managing hypertension,” Dr. Paran said. “The results of this study demonstrate the ability of LYC-O-MATO® to reduce systolic blood-pressure, warranting additional studies in the future.”
Other recent studies suggest that LYC-OMATO ® also provides a considerable level of defense against degenerative diseases including heart disease. Considering the results of these studies, combined with its positive effects on blood pressure, the importance of maintaining a normal level of natural phytonutrients like lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene and beta carotene in the human body is evident. It is recommended that individuals consume at least 80–250 mg of LYC-O-MATO® per day, which contains 15 mg of lycopene as well as other phytonutrients, to maintain good health.
www.lycomato.com, or visit the American Society of Hypertension Web site at www.ash-us.org
Grape Seed Extract and the French Paradox
What is the French paradox?
Several years ago, epidemiologists studying heart disease in Europe noticed something strange—high fat leads to heart disease, right? Not in France. The French eat a large amount of cream, rich sauces, delicious desserts and a wide variety of tasty cheeses. Yet heart disease is lower in France than the rest of Europe. This phenomenon is called the French paradox. Check this out—the French imbibe more wine than the rest of Europe.
The goodness of wine—flavonoids
What's in the wine? Water, alcohol and several other compounds (such as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, tartaric acid) and more importantly flavonoids. Flavonoids are a large group of phenolic compounds that occur in fruits, cereals, legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, stems and flowers and also in beverages such as tea, cocoa, beer and wine. Flavonoids have several properties that could prevent heart diseases. They are antioxidants that help with the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). They also have anti-inflammatory properties and a beneficial effect on blood vessels as well.
Grape seed—a vital source of flavonoids Grape seeds contain 5–8 weight percent of flavonoids. Commercially available grape seed extracts such as MegaNatural™ Gold (Polyphenolics, Madera, California) are a rich source of flavonoids. Benefits of flavonoids For several years scientists at the University of California-Davis have studied the effect of flavonoids from grape seeds on blood vessels and how it can reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Loss of endothelium-dependent relaxation (EDR) due to atherosclerosis is the primary cause for the formation of plaque in coronary arteries that leads to heart disease. EDR is caused by the release of nitric oxide (NO) from endothelial cells of the blood vessel. Experimental evidence led to the speculation that the release of NO could be mediated by a series of events that are initiated by a receptor, which is specific to flavonoids. EDR can be readily demonstrated by control experiments using established procedures. The effect of flavonoids on EDR was studied in detail over the past several years. Previous studies regarding the effect of flavonoids on EDR yielded conflicting results, possibly due to the variations in he quality of the extracts examined. However, recent studies using the commercially available grape seed extract MegaNatural Gold provided conclusive evidence that flavonoids have a protective effect against the development of endothelial dysfunction.
In the experiments, a group of rabbits fed only with cholesterol showed loss of EDR. But, a group of rabbits fed with both grape seed extract, MegaNatural Gold and cholesterol showed no loss of EDR, proving the protective effect of the grape seed extract, MegaNatural Gold.
Antioxidant activity of grape seed extracts Another study at the University of Scranton has demonstrated the superior antioxidant activity of grape seed extracts (GSEs) overwine, grape juice, vitamin C and vitamin E. Commercial products like MegaNatural Gold were used for both the in vitro and in vivo studies.
In one such study, a significant increase in the blood plasma antioxidant activity was observed within one or two hours after the consumption of grape seed extract. Nine human volunteers were given a 600 mg dosage of GSE and by using the RANDOX bio-assay study an increase up to 12 percent of blood plasma antioxidant activity was observed. This dosage could be correlated to drinking 300 ml of red wine or consuming 1250 mg of vitamin C.
In order to determine the GSE dosage that is required to have a higher bio-availability of polyphenols in blood plasma for improved antioxidant activity, nine subjects were given varied dosages of the flavonoid, epicatechin. Epicatechin is one of the flavonoids present in all grape seed extracts. The in vivo antioxidant study has shown that a dosage of 300 mg was more effective than 200 mg. In fact at 300 mg the antioxidant capacity in the blood was still increasing after four hours, indicating that at this dose the antioxidant effect will remain in the blood for six to eight hours.
A long-term study involving a dosage of 2 x 300 mg⁄day of GSE with 17 human volunteers was also conducted to understand the beneficial effect of GSE in reducing high cholesterol. Patients with high cholesterol experienced a decline in total cholesterol up to 12 percent and a corresponding decrease up to 16 percent in LDL, the so-called “bad cholesterol” as well.
These studies have once again confirmed the long-term effect of GSE s in controlling the level of cholesterol and triglycerides and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Implications for heart disease Endothelial dysfunction (loss of EDR) exists in hypertensives, diabetics, smokers, postmenopausal women and individuals with hyperlipidemia. All of these conditions are potential cardiovascular risk factors. Experimental evidence leads to the belief that polymeric flavonoids as a part of the diet may have a protective effect against the development of endothelial dysfunction. These findings, along with the established anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of flavonoids, could be a possible explanation for the French paradox.
A substitute for aspirin for heart health?
Many individuals take an aspirin a day to prevent their blood from becoming too “sticky.” Technically they are trying to prevent an increase in platelet aggregation. Blood platelets are like tiny band-aids in that they help to seal wounds by causing the blood to clot. Unfortunately, if the platelets clump (aggregate) too readily, they can cause a great deal of damage to the arteries. They can further the development of arterial plaques and they can reduce the flow of blood through the capillaries. Diabetics and smokers are two groups which commonly suffer from poor circulation and excessive platelet aggregation. Not surprisingly, both groups suffer from elevated rates of damage to the arteries.
Aspirin may provide some potential benefits for the heart, but it also has a number of side effects. The best known of these are damage to the stomach and the small intestine, but there are other dangers such as excessive bleeding (an increase in bleeding time—including inside the eye) and a reduced rate of repair to the tendons and the joints.
Do we really need these side effects? Of course not. Grape seed extract provides extended protection against platelet aggregation without causing any unwanted increase in bleeding time. A number of tests have confirmed this protection including human trials conducted by Serge Renaud of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. Dr. Renaud demonstrated that grape seed extract can protect against the rebound in platelet aggregation which follows the ingestion of alcohol. Moreover, the compounds found in grape seed extract have a special affinity for the surfaces of the vascular system, the “pipes” as it were, of the body. This special affinity appears to improve the elasticity and the permeability of the capillaries, veins and arteries—the entire vascular system. Grape seed extract protects the ground substance (the proteoglycan matrix) of the blood vessels directly while at the same time it reduces the unwanted adhesion of platelets and other blood components. The suggested intake for these benefits is 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) per day.
The Health Advantage of Food-form Selenium
by Bill Sardi
“The finding that selenium, an essential nutrient posing negligible risk at the 200 mcg intakes studies, can substantially cut the risk of death from cancer is really a revolutionary finding. I cannot think of any other agent, nutritional or pharmaceutical, that is proven to cut the deaths from cancer by half in any human population anywhere in the world. “These remarkable clinical outcomes with selenium for cancer prevention are not a deviation from other research with selenium conducted with animals, with selenium-antioxidant enzymes, with cells in culture. Yet the potential they represent for cutting the emotional, spiritual and financial costs that cancer imposes on human society is almost beyond belief. Just shut your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and think of all the people you have known who suffered and died from cancer.”
SCIENTISTS FIRST CALLED SELENIUM TOXIC. THEN FOLLOWING ITS RECOGNITION FOR ANIMAL HEALTH, RESEARCHERS IDENTIFIED IT AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT FOR HUMAN GROWTH.
Now investigators wonder where the health benefits of selenium stop. The first selenium function in animals wasn't discovered until 1973. Dr. John Rotruck and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin demonstrated that selenium was incorporated into molecules of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase (GPX). This vital enzyme protects red blood cells, cell membranes and sub-cellular components against undesirable reactions with soluble peroxides. The discovery of GPX opened the door to our understanding of how selenium is protective against cancer, heart disease, arthritis and accelerated aging.
This much misunderstood trace mineral may not gain the status of a drug simply because its primary role is disease prevention. Wherever soil is rich in selenium, certain diseases of livestock are virtually non-existent.
But how could selenium, provided in dosages less than the weight of a paper clip, protect a 150-pound human from disease?
Selenium and Cancer
In what was called the most startling cancer prevention study ever published, University of Arizona and Cornell University researchers recently discovered that selenium food supplements significantly reduce the incidence of nearly all forms of cancer. In 1996 researchers Larry Clark, Gerald Combs and Bruce Turnbull of Cornell University reported on the 10-year use of a 200 microgram supplement of protein-bound selenium among 1312 patients with a history of basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer. While selenium had no effect upon skin cancer, it had a startling effect upon other types of tumors.
A Harvard researcher was quoted as saying: “If the effect of selenium is this large, it would be more important than anything else we know about in cancer prevention.” The results of the multi-center study were so surprising, many health researchers still want more proof.
Larry Clark, the senior researcher in this study, remarked that the type of selenium used in this study is not commonly found in all vitamin supplements. It's a special type of selenium that is grown organically in yeast. “Most of the selenium on the market is inorganic sodium selenite or sometimes they throw sodium selenite into yeast, but they are not bound together as the yeast grows, yet it is still called high-selenium yeast.”
Which type of selenium supplement?
In plant foods, selenium is bound to an array of amino acids (methionine, cysteine, others) and is thus a more stable form. In 1984, a MIT study determined that organically-bound forms of selenium are able to increase the body selenite exchangeable pool size about 70 percent more effectively than inorganic selenite or selenate. The superiority of protein-bound selenium is demonstrated in recent study where selenium-enriched broccoli was shown to inhibit colon tumors in rodents. Researchers observed that selenium-enriched broccoli is more effective than inorganic forms of selenium against colon tumor formation.
Another example of the superiority of protein-bound selenium over inorganic selenium has become apparent in studies of eye disease. One report suggests that “dietary supplementation with selenium should be explored as a means of preventing macular degeneration.” However, researchers have found that blood levels of selenium were lower among patients with macular degeneration even though seven of 10 patients studied took selenium supplements, mostly consisting of 80 micrograms of inorganic selenium (selenate). Lack of consumption of selenium does not appear to be the problem in these cases. Researchers surmise that the form of selenium is of importance. Some studies report that even 200 microgram doses of inorganic selenium fails to increase blood plasma levels of selenium in the eye, while amino acid-bound selenium increases plasma and whole blood levels.
Consumers should look for organically-bound selenium in supplements rather than the inorganic forms (selenite, selenate). The question is how to duplicate the same selenoproteins provided in plant foods in a food supplement?
Slow-growing Saccharomyces cerevisiae, baker's yeast, is employed to bind amino acids naturally with selenium. Some selenium food supplements only mix inorganic selenium with yeast but this is a shortcut that fails to do what nature does—slowly incorporate selenium into an array of about 20 amino acids. Yet the label on these food supplements may still read “selenium yeast.”
Numerous food supplements provide selenium bound only to one amino acid, selenomethionine. But the food supplement that dramatically reduced the cancer risk in 1996 employed a form of selenium bound to a full array of amino acids, like in foods. Only one brand of food supplement provides this complete food-form selenium, called SelenoExcell.
Due to years of misinformation the word “yeast” draws the attention of some consumers who believe they must avoid yeast products. Beneficial nutritional baker's yeast does not contribute to yeast infections such as Candida albicans. Selenium yeast is carefully pasteurized and dried after it is grown. This kills the yeast and it can no longer grow or multiply. Brewer's yeast has been a staple of the health food industry since its inception and is no cause for concern.
Only one company is going through all the trouble to manufacture a consistently reliable form of selenium organically bound to a full array of amino acids as found in foods. It goes by the trade name SelenoExcell.™. All forms of selenium have health benefits. But we have to go with the science. Until we know more, look for that branded ingredient.
Bill Sardi is president of Knowledge of Health, San Dimas, California.
by Rina Reznik, Ph.D.
To protect ourselves we invest in lifestyle changes, exercise, a healthy diet and supplementation. Antioxidants are only one element in the big picture, so products with multiple uses are particularly useful. After all, there's a limit to the number of supplements we can swallow in a day, let alone afford, so we need to supplement wisely. For example, consuming un-denatured whey protein raises intracellular glutathione levels and takes advantage of its three protective functions: T-cell synthesis, anti-oxidation and detoxification. Spirulina is an effective dietary antioxidant with dozens of well-known health benefits. Rosmarinic acid is another product that offers multiple advantages.
Rosemary and its cousins, oregano and thyme, have been known for their medicinal properties for centuries and rosemary oil has long been used in cooking, aromatherapy and in hair and skin tonics. It has been described traditionally as good for the skin, scalp, digestion and treatment of colds and is used as an antiseptic, stimulant and antispasmodic. Today medical scientists are particularly interested in rosmarinic acid for its anti-inflammatory, antiallergic and antioxidant properties.
Rosmarinic acid's multiple value also lies in its boxer's one-two approach: first, as a purely natural food additive it prevents or neutralizes the harmful oxidation that takes place while food is on the shelf, enhancing its quality and helping to prevent an additional tax on the body's over-burdened defense system. Then once the food is eaten, the same additive turns out to be a powerful dietary antioxidant. Of course it can also be used for direct supplementation. An added bonus is that rosmarinic acid does not interfere with intracellular oxidant-antioxidant balance and enables the immune system's phagocytes to use their free-radical weapons effectively against incoming disease organisms.
RA's antioxidant power
The most common free radicals attacking living tissue are reactive oxygen species (ROS)—or oxyradicals. They include the peroxyl, nitric oxide and superoxide-anion radicals plus singlet oxygen, peroxynitrite and hydrogen peroxide. Worst of all is the dangerous hydroxyl radical, formed by the combination of the weaker superoxide radical with hydrogen peroxide. Rosmarinic acid neutralizes the superoxide-anion and thus makes a major contribution to curbing oxidative damage in the body.
Rosmarinic acid also takes the heat of the more well-known antioxidants by getting into the fray and dealing with free radicals first, leaving vitamins C, E and others intact for later use. This extract is also one of the few antioxidants able to cross the blood-brain barrier and combat the superoxide radical in the brain, where researchers hope it may help prevent or combat such degenerative conditions as Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers at the Israeli biotechnology company, RAD Natural Technologies, discovered that certain natural species of the plant Origanum vulgare contained particularly high concentrations of rosmarinic acid. Without genetic modification the plant yields a highly purified extract that is effective in very low concentrations. With neither solvents nor processing chemicals, RAD Natural Technologies is able to preserve the integrity of the plant extract and produce a water-soluble powder that can alternatively be emulsified and thus dissolved in fats and oils. It is ideal for industrial applications. If you've always thought of antioxidants as pills and dietary supplements, think again.
The company's rosmarinic acid product is called Origanox and it is sold for food processing, cosmetic and dietary purposes. Its antioxidant properties preserve natural pigments, odors and flavors and also protect vitamins and other active ingredients from the degenerative effects of oxidation. It also possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and is easily absorbed into the skin, where it potentially supports to neutralize the harmful effect of ultraviolet radiation.
Rosmarinic acid maintains its electron-absorbing properties at sustained high temperatures. That means that when it is added to edible oils, the number of free radicals released by frying is diminished. It is stable for long periods and at temperatures as high as 180 C⁄356 F so it can be baked into foods without impairing its antioxidant properties.
Free radicals come at us from every conceivable direction and we need a good variety of antioxidants to protect ourselves. Some, like glutathione, are produced by the body, and are dependent upon a supply of raw materials from dietary sources. Others, like vitamins C and E, are built into the foods we eat or supplement in our diets. We may not be used to thinking of food preservatives as health aids but rosmarinic acid is a valuable aid that supports to preempt free radicals before they form in stored food and prevents the most harmful effects resulting from cooking with all sorts of oils. It also functions as a powerful antioxidant with the rare ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.
The essential oil of Origanum vulgare is a powerful, anti-microbial agent and natural, antiseptic product. It has many, very promising applications in certain feed and food products besides being a flavor enhancer and therapeutic component in health food supplements. This potent and adaptable product promises to become a valuable addition to our preventive medicine arsenal.
Tocotrienols—Their Role In Health
by Andreas M. Papas, Ph.D.
TOCOTRIENOLS ARE MEMBERS OF THE VITAMIN E FAMILY.
Mention vitamin E and most people, even scientists, think alphatocopherol. It is only recently that scientists and now the consumers have been reminded that vitamin E is a family of compounds.
Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family. Unlike some vitamins which consist of a single compound, vitamin E consists of eight different compounds, four tocopherols and four tocotrienols (designated as alpha, beta, gamma and delta). Our food contains all eight compounds. Most vitamin E supplements, however, contain only alphatocopherol because it was thought that only this one was important. Emerging research proved this understanding wrong. In order to get the full spectrum of the many benefits of vitamin E we must use products that contain the complete family of tocopherols plus tocotrienols.
Tocotrienols are most abundant in cereal grains and the fruit of palm and are extracted commercially from palm oil and rice bran oil.
Tocopherols and Tocotrienols: Similarities and Differences
Each tocotrienol has similarities to the corresponding tocopherols. For this reason tocotrienols, like tocopherols, are excellent antioxidants. Tocotrienols however, have three unsaturated sites on the tail of the molecule. Scientists are discovering important and unique benefits of tocotrienols.
Underscoring the importance of taking the whole vitamin E family is the evidence that not only tocotrienols but even the other tocopherols have unique functions different from those of alpha-tocopherol. For example:
- Gamma-tocopherol, not alpha, is the effective form for fighting nitrogen radicals which contribute to the development of arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's.
- Gamma-tocopherol and its major metabolite inhibit cyclooxygenase activity. This effect is very important because cyclooxygenase causes inflammation, which contributes to the progression of chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer.
- High blood levels of gammatocopherol in men are associated with lower risk of prostate cancer.
The Science Behind the Unique Functions of Tocotrienols
Research produced evidence of the biochemical basis of the important and unique effects of tocotrienols. Tocotrienols and in particular gamma-tocotrienol appear to act on a specific enzyme called 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutarylcoenzyme A reductase (HMG-COA) involved in cholesterol production in the liver. Tocotrienols suppress the production of this enzyme, which may result in less cholesterol being manufactured.
Tocotrienols slow down the growth of some types of human cancer cells, and particularly breast cancer cells, while alpha, beta and gamma tocopherols are ineffective. Gamma-tocotrienol suppresses the growth of rat melanoma and human leukemia cells, human breast adenocarcinoma and human leukemic cells.
Benefits for Cardiovascular Health—Clinical Evidence
The strongest evidence yet for tocotrienols comes from a clinical study in which 50 patients had stenosis of the carotid artery. These patients, ranging in age from 49 to 83 years, were divided in two groups. One group received approximately 650 milligrams of tocotrienols plus tocopherols. The other group received a placebo. All patients were examined with ultrasonography which measures the narrowing of the carotid artery.
- Placebo group: Fifteen patients showed worsening of the stenosis, eight remained stable and two showed some improvement.
- Tocotrienol (plus tocopherol) group: Three patients showed minor worsening and 12 remained stable. What is remarkable is that 10 patients showed regression of stenosis—their condition improved.
The tocotrienol group had also significant reduction in TBARS, a test that measures oxidation. A tocotrienol-rich extract from rice bran oil reduced triglycerides and LDL in these patients. We are studying further these effects of tocotrienol-rich products from rice bran oil.
Topical Use of Tocotrienols
Tocotrienols, like tocopherols, protect the skin against damage from ultraviolet radiation, pollution, cigarette smoke and other stress factors. Topically applied tocotrienols and tocopherols penetrate the entire skin to the subcutaneous fat layer within 30 minutes and significantly increase the concentration of these antioxidants in the deeper subcutaneous layers.
Safe and Effective Use Levels
Tocotrienols and vitamin E in general have an excellent safety record.
How much tocotrienols to take? Please remember that tocotrienols are available commercially as mixtures with tocopherols. If you are at high risk for heart disease, you may consider levels up to 300 mg per day of tocotrienols. For the great majority of consumers who want to get the benefit of the complete vitamin E family, much lower levels may still provide benefits.
It is extremely important to take products that contain natural tocopherols plus tocotrienols. While our individual needs differ, the following general guidelines might help choose the right level for you.
- The adequate level—the 100/100 system: Take 100 IU plus 100 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. For healthy young adults with no family history of chronic disease.
- The medium level—the 200/200 system: Take 200 IU plus 200 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. For young adults with some risk factors and healthy people without risk factors up to 50 years old.
- The high, yet very safe dose—the 400/400 system: Take 400 IU plus 400 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. This is the level for people who, because of their family history for chronic disease, age, level of stress, diet and other factors, want to take a higher level.
Andreas M. Papas, Ph.D., is the author of The Vitamin E Factor (paperback) and editor of the scientific book Antioxidant Status, Diet, Nutrition and Health, Dr. Papas is senior technical associate at Eastman Chemical Company and adjunct professor, at the College of Medicine of East Tennessee State University and senior scientific advisor, Cancer Prevention Institute, Harvard School of Epidemiology. —www.vitaminefactor.com
Ten Additional Important Antioxidants
Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant compound similar to vitamin K and is naturally manufactured in the liver as well as every cell in the body. But even though COQ10 is produced in the body, many people have deficiencies, especially those suffering from cardiovascular disease and heart failure.
Every cell must have a way of obtaining energy. In cardiac cells, as well as throughout the body, oxygen-based production occurs within the cellular power plants called mitochondria. Here COQ10 provides essential energy in its most basic form—adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the energy of life. Without adequate COQ10 as a cofactor, ATP synthesis slows down, eventually leaving the cell in a vulnerable state.
Dietary sources of COQ10 come mainly from beef heart, pork, chicken liver and fish (especially salmon, mackerel and sardines). Vegetarians typically will not get enough COQ10 unless they eat large quantities of peanuts and/or broccoli. The average person only gets five to 10 mg of COQ10 each day from diet alone. Most people would benefit from far more COQ10 than can be gleaned from the daily diet.
Although COQ10 can be synthesized by the body, many individuals are deficient in this vitamin. Illness depletes the body's stores even further. Taking cholesterol-lowering drugs such as HMG-COA reductase inhibitors can literally “kill” COQ10 synthesis. Other drugs, such as beta blockers and some of the older antidepressants, also interfere with COQ10-dependent enzymes, lowering its concentration in the body.
Any women taking a statin drug, especially those at high risk for breast cancer, should take at least 100 mg of COQ10 a day.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a very powerful nutrient and the premier water-soluble antioxidant. It participates in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is important in maintaining homeostasis as well as building tissue.
Death is inevitable if vitamin C is not provided. It is truly essential to human life. New research into the actions of vitamin C has sparked a greater understanding of the remarkable health-promoting properties of this essential nutrient. The new evidence validates that vitamin C supports cardiovascular and respiratory function, cognition, bone development and mineralization, vision and may even lower the risk of stress-related diseases and certain types of cancer.
- Cardiovascular Health. High dietary vitamin C intake has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of death from heart attacks and strokes in numerous population studies. Also, researchers have found that vitamin C offsets spasms of the coronary arteries.
- Immunity Booster. A recent study reported an 85 percent lower incidence in cold and flu symptoms with high vitamin C doses.
- Collagen Maintenance. Vitamin C is important for the formation and maintenance of collagen, the intercellular cement that binds tissues together. Collagen provides tensile strength to bones, cartilage, teeth, tendons and ligaments. There is a positive association between vitamin C and bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women.
- Cancer. Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant to protect cellular structures, including genetic mechanisms, an enhancer of the immune system and to protect against cancer-causing environmental irritants and pollutants. Many of the benefits of vitamin C supplementation stem from its antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C become more important as aging occurs, especially if there is stress or disease.
Astaxanthin is a member of an elite class of carotenoids known as xanthophylls.
Astaxanthin is believed to be the most active of these carotenoids. Researchers have discovered that the most abundant and concentrated form of astaxanthin is found in the natural, renewable material extracted from microalgae.
Because of its unique molecular structure, astaxanthin is unlike any other antioxidant in that it can perform a wide variety of tasks including:
- increasing HDL (good cholesterol)
- increasing strength and endurance
- stimulating the immune system
- protecting and enhancing eye health.
Astaxanthin has been shown to perform effectively the three key tasks of an antioxidant: quenching, scavenging and trapping free radicals. Astaxanthin is more powerful than many other carotenoids because:
- its low molecular weight allows it to actually cross the blood-brain barrier, making it available to the eye, brain and central nervous system
- it is more resistant to damage, allowing it to scavenge longer and trap more types of free radicals
- it acts like a bridge, transporting free radicals along its long chain to water-soluble antioxidants like vitamin C inside and outside of the cell.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is a special form of carnitine that has the particular ability to optimize brain function. Acetyl-L-carnitine is able to cross into the brain more effectively than regular carnitine. It therefore enhances brain cell function much better than regular carnitine. As we age, acetyl-L-carnitine levels in our brains go down and for optimal brain function, supplements of acetyl-L-carnitine become mandatory.
Acetyl-L-carnitine acts in many ways to prevent the deterioration of brain cells that normally happens with age. It does this in many ways. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, provides the brain with healing energy and increases levels of a very important messenger molecule called acetylcholine. It is acetylcholine which becomes deficient in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and that is why these patients have such poor memory function. By increasing levels of acetylcholine, acetyl-L-carnitine helps the memory work better and may help prevent Alzheimer's disease as well.
Green tea is the antivirus, anticancer, super antioxidant. It is the most popular of Asian drinks and has been known for centuries to have a long list of health benefits. Interestingly, after water it is the most widely consumed beverage on the earth.
Dr. Earl Mindell states, “The antioxidants specific to green tea are polyphenols, bioflavonoids that act as super antioxidants by neutralizing harmful fats and oils, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, blocking cancer-triggering mechanisms, inhibiting bacteria and viruses, improving digestion and protecting against ulcers and strokes. The specific type of polyphenol found in green tea is called a “catechin.”
Other ingredients in green tea include the green chlorophyll molecules but also important are the proanthocyanadins similar to those found in grape seed extract, pine bark, bilberry and gingko. The specific tea is a variety called Camellia sinensis. Camellia sinensis in the West is known as black tea, such as Earl Grey tea, orange pekoe tea or English breakfast tea.
The antioxidant properties of green tea are responsible for its most important benefits. The Chinese always claimed that tea slows aging but it was not until we understood the role of oxidation in aging and the antioxidant function of flavonoids that we knew how this mechanism might work. Researchers at University of California- Berkeley found that green tea extract was the best at scavenging the deadly hydroxyl radicals. Three diseases that we focus on regarding green tea are heart disease, AIDS and cancer.
It is well known now through modern research that green foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes. They help protect against cancer, heart disease, digestive problems and many other modern disorders. Green vegetables are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene and chlorophyll. Possibly most important of all, they have potent antioxidant activity. Besides, they are low in fat and high in nutrients, an excellent combination.
The importance of green foods in the diet is now being validated scientifically worldwide. It is amazing how long it takes us to discover that foods were made correctly in the first place. They contain exactly what we need in their natural state. We have to find a way to take advantage of the whole foods naturally made and most of us are not doing that presently with our diets. In fact, it would be difficult for anyone to eat green plants to equal the amount of nutrition in concentrated green food supplements. So until you are ready to sidle up to a fivepound salad of spinach, watercress, alfalfa and kelp, the concentrated supplements mentioned here are probably your best source for the vital nutrients you need from green foods.
Alpha lipoic acid is a vitamin-like antioxidant that is produced naturally in the body and found in certain foods such as potatoes and red meat.
It is the only fat and water soluble free radical antioxidant, therefore, it is easily absorbed and transported across cell membranes, protecting us against free radicals both inside and outside our cells.
Alpha lipoic acid has been used for years throughout Europe to treat and prevent complications associated with diabetes, including neuropathy, macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies show that diabetics lower their insulin requirements; this also helps reduce complications.
An abundance of promising research has also shown the ability of alpha lipoic acid to inhibit replication of HIV and other viruses, to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation which is associated with cardiovascular disease, to protect the liver from damage from alcohol or other toxins and also to prevent damage from radiation.
We do not obtain enough alpha lipoic acid through the diet to obtain this protection, so supplementation is required—100 to 200 mg daily. Therapeutic doses are higher.
Essential for many cellular functions, glutathione is a tripeptide of connected molecules composed of three nonessential amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine.
Without glutathione people suffer from an inability to detoxify metabolic wastes and in eliminating toxic substances like heavy metals and other environmental poisons. This may lead to heart disease, joint disorders, cancer and problems with the endocrine, immune and nervous systems.
Even healthy people under stress can become subject to a disrupted balance. They could be sick or battling an inflammation or infection, or healing from an injury, while more free radicals are created and must be eliminated. Glutathione will do the job. It will also seek out the free radicals formed when people are exposed to cigarette smoke, alcohol, mercury, air pollution, food additives, pesticides and ultraviolet light.
Needed cofactors that properly assist glutathione function are the following: alpha lipoic acid, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and the minerals selenium and zinc, of which selenium is a vital component.
Extracted from the bark of Pinus maritima, the coastal pine tree found in abundance in southern France, pycnogenol is made up of a combination of flavoids that occur naturally in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables. However, antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables and nuts lose their potency when they are harvested, processed, frozen and cooked. A study in the British scientific journal, The Lancet, showed that risk of heart disease was 50 percent lower in populations that consumed high amounts of flavonoids (at least 30 mg a day) than groups that took in low amounts of these antioxidants.
Decades of laboratory research and clinical studies conducted by Dr. Jack Masquelier show that pycnogenol contains approximately 40 natural ingredients including proanthocyanadins, organic acids and related bioavailable components such as glucosides and glucose esters. It is a potent antioxidant that protects against free radicals, has been shown to be many times more powerful than vitamin C or vitamin E and has the added benefit of working synergistically with many nutrients that support health.
Millions of people in Europe and the United States, athletes in particular, rely on pycnogenol to maintain skin health and overall health during the aging process. It is one of the best tried-and-tested products in its category, non-toxic and non-carcinogenic.
Garlic is the most studied herb in history. It has more benefits than any other single food. Tradition has told us that garlic has beneficial effects on health and longevity. Science is beginning to validate many of these claims including garlic's ability to prevent heart disease, fungal overgrowth and infectious diseases, the ability to remove toxic metals from the body and its powerful antioxidant and anticancer effects.
A Summary of Garlic's Many Benefits Includes:
- having been shown to have powerful immune-boosting properties and may be valuable in fighting off viral infections such as the common cold.
- having been shown to help lower blood pressure in those with hypertension.
- working as a natural antibiotic and reducing the number of harmful bacteria in the body.
- reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and has been shown to limit the deposition of plaque on artery walls.
- having been shown to help the body eliminate parasites.
- reducing the amount of the yeast, Candida albicans, in the human GI tract and has been shown to be beneficial in fighting systemic yeast infections.
- having been shown to lower blood sugar and be of significant benefit to diabetics.
- having been shown in population and laboratory studies to help prevent a wide variety of cancers.
- containing selenium, a cancerpreventing, immune-boosting and antiinflammatory nutrient.
Editor's Note: We highly recommend the most studied garlic supplement on the market. Kyolic AGED Garlic is Organically grown, and aged up to 20 months to enhance the nutritional value of the garlic, remove its pungent odor and make it gentle on the stomach. Kyolic is heavily researched with over 750 scientific studies.
BOOKS FOR FURTHER READING ON ANTIOXIDANTS:
Which Medications Are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients—and Natural Ways to Restore Them
by Suzy Cohen, RPh
Rodale Books; 1 edition (February 15, 2011)
The Garlic Cure
by James F. Scheer, Lynn Allison and Charlie Fox
Alpha Omega Press, Fargo, ND (2002)
The Garlic Cookbook: For the Best and Most Unique Garlic Recipes You Will Ever Try!
by Martha Stephenson
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 19, 2017)
Healthy Healing—Avoid side effects, drug interactions and high medical costs with America's Original Guide to Natural Healing (14th Edition)
by Linda Page, N.D., Ph.D.
Healthy Healing Publications; 14th edition (November 15, 2011)
Prescription for Nutritional Healing
Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements
by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
Avery; 5 Rev Upd edition (October 5, 2010)
The Longevity Kitchen—Satisfying, Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods
by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson
M. Evans and Company, Inc., New York, NY (1998)
The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life
by David Perlmutter, MD
Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (April 28, 2015)
The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan:
Boost Brain Performance, Lose Weight, and Achieve Optimal Health
by David Perlmutter, MD, Kristin Loberg
Little, Brown and Company (November 15, 2016)
"The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan provides a step-by-step, proven approach that will help you reclaim and sustain health, vitality, and happiness for a lifetime." Melissa Hartwig, author of Food Freedom Forever and coauthor of The Whole30
"Dr. Perlmutter, an acclaimed neurologist, has for years been a pioneer of the gut-brain connection. In The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, he combines his clinical expertise, insights into the latest scientific developments, and immense compassion into a powerful prescription for brain health." David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, professor, Harvard Medical School, and author of Always Hungry?
"Dr. Perlmutter's groundbreaking work has changed the way we think about inflammation—its causes and the damage it can do. I've gotten tremendous benefit from his books and The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan gives us simple and direct ways to prevent and treat diseases in easy and delicious ways." Bonnie Raitt
"Dr. David Perlmutter is one of the first people to not only suggest that modern degenerative diseases are likely caused by poor diet and alterations in gut health, but he has produced clinical research indicating these conditions may be avoided or reversed by altering one's diet and lifestyle. The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan is the culmination of more than 35 years of clinical practice and research that will help you look, feel and perform your best." Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution
"Dr. Perlmutter sifts through the emerging research on how to create brain and body health. And he created The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, a manifesto for the new medicine, the roadmap for how to care for the one precious human life that you have. If you want to live strong, feel good, boost your brain function, and become more connected and engaged to your own life, then you need a plan. This book is that plan." Mark Hyman, MD, author of Eat Fat Get Thin and director of Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine
"If everyone were to follow The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, there would be a dramatic reduction in obesity, diabetes, cancer, dementia, arthritis—in short, the world would be a better place." Dale Bredesen, MD, professor and director of Alzheimer's Disease Research, UCLA
"The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan presents a comprehensive, practical, step-by-step approach aimed at people suffering from a variety of chronic neurological, psychiatric, and medical conditions. Dr. Perlmutter not only gives specific dietary recommendations, including a diet rich in plant-based fiber, but also prescribes important lifestyle changes such as physical exercise, stress reduction, and improvement in sleeping habits." Emeran A. Mayer, MD, author of The Mind Gut Connection and director of the Oppenheimer Center for Stress and Resilience at UCLA
The Multivitamin-Mineral Cornerstone of a personal program
The first step in establishing your personal vitamin program is to ensure that every day you are receiving those vitamins and other nutrients that are truly essential to the human body. Since thousands of dietary supplement products are available, claiming to benefit every manner of body function, here are some guidelines to help separate the wheat from the chaff. Let’s start with the multivitamin- mineral (MVM) product.
To do what it is supposed to do, your MVM should provide just about ALL the vitamins and minerals truly proven essential to human health. The list of known vitamins hasn’t changed much in recent decades; it includes vitamin A, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12, (the missing numbers were those which proved not to be truly essential) and vitamins C, D, E and K. Folate and biotin are also vitamins, as are the essential fatty acids, which are discussed below. Choline was recently established as essential. A number of minerals are also proven essential to survival.
Minerals are not organic since they do not contain carbon and thus cannot be called vitamins. However, certain minerals are as essential to survival as are the vitamins. For a number of minerals, deficiency states are established and recommended dietary allowances exist. Of these, sodium and phosphorus don’t need to be supplemented since they are more than adequately represented in the daily diet. Vanadium has never been proven essential and has some suspicious actions; microgram amounts may be acceptable in your MVM, but milligram amounts cannot be justified. Similarly, fluorine can be toxic and very likely is not essential.
Unequivocally, every person, whatever their age, gender or state of health can benefit from taking a multivitamin-mineral product on a daily basis. A good MVM will provide all the vitamins and essential minerals, minimally in amounts of at least 100 percent of the “daily values.” The daily values seen on the dietary supplement product labels are the RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowances) recalculated on the basis of each 2000 “calorie” intake of food per day (kilocalories, really). A good multivitamin-mineral will also supply close to 100 percent of the daily values for the following minerals: magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, silicon, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, boron, and chromium. Potassium, unfortunately, is kept low (around 99 mg daily maximum) by regulation.
Don’t take “one-a-day” MVM formulas seriously: one tablet or capsule a day simply cannot pack in decent amounts of all the necessary nutrients. A good MVM cannot be packed into less than 2–4 or up to six capsules or tablets per day, divided between two or three meals.
As you shop for a good MVM, you must examine the label carefully or you’ll waste your money. By law, the manufacturer has to list the ingredients on the label. Also, some MVMs provide meaningful amounts of certain standardized herbal extracts, namely minimum tens of milligrams each of ginkgo biloba extract and/or milk thistle extract, grape seed extract, pine bark extract, bilberry standardized extract, and hawthorn berry extract. These add to the quality of the product, since they have proven health benefits.
There are two kinds of EFA, omega-6 and omega-3, the two kinds compete with each other for uptake and utilization and play a “yin-yang” role in the body by delicately balancing and complementing each other’s effects. It’s been found that supplementing the diet with certain omega-3s will protect against heart attacks and strokes, and generally help protect the body against inflammatory damage.
Take extra Vitamin C and Vitamin E
As the scientific research on vitamins and minerals has progressed, the recommended daily amounts of minerals necessary for good health have not changed much. Among the vitamins, the benefits of some extend to such large amounts that we cannot expect full intakes from our MVM product and are forced to take them as additional supplements. Two proven examples are vitamin C (ascorbate) and vitamin E (d-alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols [ VERY IMPORTANT ]).
It used to be that so-called experts would scoff at the late Professor Linus Pauling when he talked about taking grams of vitamin C every day. They said we would just be making expensive urine if we tried to do what he did. yet there was good research even then to show that Pauling was right; those “experts” just didn’t want to work the data into their ideological agenda. Some went so far as to fudge existing data in order to deny that vitamin C helps prevent the common cold; others purposely miss-designed human studies to try to show that vitamin C could not help treat disease. But the majority of researchers stayed honest, as their own research led them to discover that, yes, Hoffer, Cathcart, Cheraskin, Pauling and the others were right: vitamin C could do marvelous things for human health.
The essential fatty acids are Vitamins
The essential fatty acids (EFA) are oily substances, which are really vitamins because deficiency states have been demonstrated for them. There are two kinds of EFA, omega-6 and omega-3, differing in their molecular details but sharing the same enzyme systems. The two kinds compete with each other for uptake and utilization and play a “yin-yang” role in the body by delicately balancing and complementing each other’s effects. unfortunately, in today’s world we are getting either too little of both kinds if we eat a lot of junk food, or too little of the omega-3s if we eat the typical Western diet. Now it’s been found that supplementing the diet with certain omega-3s will protect against heart attacks and strokes, and generally help protect the body against inflammatory damage.
The omega-3s that work best are DHA and EPA, some of which can be obtained by consuming cold water fish, though we do recommend supplementation. A certain amount of omega-6 intake is also important, and this is best obtained from GLA. In the future, you will see the EFA included in MVM products, but for now they are mostly available only as oils in softgel capsules.
Conditionally-essential nutrients sometimes May be Vitamins
A number of substances that have not been established as vitamins through deficiency assessment are nonetheless intricately involved in life processes. One that has been extensively researched is coenzyme Q10 (“CoQ”), otherwise called ubiquinone. CoQ is crucial for the generation of energy in all our cells and makes important contributions to our protective antioxidant defense system. Technically, our cells have the enzyme machinery to make their own CoQ. Why, then, do people with heart problems develop a functional deficiency of CoQ? Alpha-lipoic acid also is crucial for making energy and is also a potent antioxidant. Another example is taurine, which is an antioxidant, antitoxin and electro-osmotic buffer substance found in the heart tissue, the nerve tissues and in all our cells. yet another is carnitine, which is also important for the heart and is central to the body’s energetics. These nutrients all fit the category of conditionally-essential nutrients in that portions of the population are critically unable to make enough to keep up with body demand for them. Occasionally, a nutrient previously thought conditionally-essential is proven fully essential for humans, as recently occurred with choline.
Deficiencies in the conditionally-essential nutrients can be life-threatening. For CoQ, taurine, carnitine, and some other such nutrients, the bio-synthetic pathways are especially complex and energy intensive. Elderly or sick people, or people with chronic viral infections, may produce either none at all or quantities insufficient to keep up with demand. For such people, supplementing with these nutrients is likely to be a good idea. For individuals with heart failure, a condition in which deficiencies of all three of these nutrients can manifest, supplementing with all three daily may be a lot more than just a good idea.
The conditionally-essential nutrients are all orthomolecules. As conceived by Professor Pauling, orthomolecules are substances orthodox to our metabolism; that is, they are part and parcel of our normal enzyme pathways. Certain more sophisticated MVMs have included carnitine, taurine, NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), alpha-lipoic acid, MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), and other orthosubstances. These are undeniably valuable for your health, but your MVM will not be able to provide all that you need, and for your special health needs you’ll need to consider additional supplement products.
Stress of any kind increases the body’s nutrient requirements Never underestimate the power of stress to make you sick. Emotional stress works through many mechanisms to damage our tissues. But stress is far more than just emotional.
Although the word “stress” is commonly taken to mean emotional stress, its meaning for the body is much broader. In a biological sense, stress means any challenge to the body’s life processes and survival skills. For example, exposure to too much cold or heat is stressful. Malnourishment or eating junk food is stressful. Too much noise is stressful. Fits of anger are stressful, and anxiety and depression exacerbate emotional stress. Chemicals foreign to the body cause stress, as they react with our biological molecules and so modify our body chemistry.
One of the most stressful chemical agents is cigarette smoke. Oxygen free radicals, tars, heavy metals, and radioactive substances in cigarette smoke, whether inhaled actively or passively, deplete virtually all the types of nutrients in the body, and as this happens, the risk of asthma, bronchitis, cancer, and heart disease skyrockets. Chlorinated hydrocarbon pollutants entering our bodies from the air, water and foods deplete our antioxidants and many other orthomolecules and thereby increase the risks of cancer, nerve damage, memory loss, and liver or kidney failure. Alcohol intake is stressful, whether or not a person is an alcoholic.
Other sources of stress include infectious agents (ALL viruses or bacteria, fungi such as yeasts and molds, protozoan or worm parasites, mycoplasmas such as the one that causes pneumonia). Infectious agents hijack our biochemical machinery to meet their needs. These intruders also siphon off vitamins and minerals that we need to make energy and otherwise conduct our life processes. As the immune system mounts assaults these unwanted guests, fever and other inflammation develop that literally burn away our antioxidant reserves and accelerate our losses of B vitamins and minerals. That’s why increasing your intake of the superb antioxidant vitamin C and minerals such as zinc and magnesium can make such a difference when you have a cold. Don’t underrate the importance of nutrients against the stress of infection. Increased nutrient intakes will even help slow AIDS progression.
OTC and other drugs Can deplete nutrients
Many over-the-counter drugs can deplete the body of essential nutrients. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) depletes glutathione, an antioxidant substance that is key to the functioning of the liver. Liver failure can be the result. Aspirin, one of Tylenol’s competitors, is no more innocent except that it targets the stomach rather than the liver. Aspirin can deplete folate and vitamin C, and it breaks up the phospholipid surfactant layer that normally protects the stomach lining, with ulcers often arising that then bleed and deplete the body of iron.
Antacid use also can be a problem, depleting the body of folate as well as copper. Certain laxatives and stool softeners can do tremendous damage by reducing the absorption of minerals, vitamins and other nutrients and depleting the body of water. Overuse of laxatives is common, especially among girls and women concerned about gaining weight, depressed people preoccupied with bowel function, and constipated elderly patients. Prescription drugs are worse than the OTCs, and more than 600 of these are known to be toxic to the liver.
Among prescription drugs, those classes most proven to deplete nutrients include oral contraceptives (vitamin B6, vitamin C, folate), antibiotics (vitamin B12, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, calcium; also the friendly gut bacteria), cholesterol-lowering agents (coenzyme CoQ), and diuretics (sodium, potassium, calcium). Tricyclic antidepressants can deplete vitamin B2 and CoQ. We could go on and on about drugs and the damage they do to our bodies, but the pattern is clear: persons taking pharmaceuticals of any kind need to increase their daily intakes of multivitamin-minerals and antioxidants.
Managing specific health problems and healing organ damage
The topic of therapeutic nutritional supplementation is a huge one. Hundreds of books have been written, and tens of thousands of scientific papers have been published on the uses of vitamins and other nutrients to treat clinical disease conditions in order to achieve healing. Drugs don’t heal, and government regulatory agencies, goaded on by the pharmaceutical drug interests, have done their best to shut down this entire field of nutritional application. They’ve spectacularly failed, though, because the records show that vitamins and minerals can be employed in combination with other orthomolecules and with herbal preparations to manage, heal or cure just about any disease or dysfunction. Not only this, but in so doing they outperform the drugs in all areas. Here nutrients become nutraceuticals, to be administered in doses sufficient to give maximum benefit against a disease. Sophisticated nutraceutical combinations are personalized to the needs of the individual. Some clinicians and scientists believe, as do we, that even aging can be slowed using this strategy.
Every one of us has an “Achilles Heel” in our body makeup, some weakness or weaknesses that will likely bring on ill health or premature aging and without intervention will likely shorten life. By learning to be aware of our body’s grunts, groans, squeaks, and quirks, and by working with trained professionals, we can target these weaknesses for special treatment in order to slow progressive functional loss (as the liver carrying a chronic virus, for example), to reverse existing loss (as memory function) or even to heal longstanding zones of trauma (as a damaged joint). At this level of a personal vitamin program, the potential benefit is lifesaving, and this is both the promise and challenge of 21st century health care.