Milk thistle, as is true of similarly classic liver tonics from the Chinese tradition, such as bupleurum, has occupied a central spot in herbalism for good reasons, many of which remain true today.
This herbal tonic generally ranks high in recognition and sales with the American public in comparison with other botanical products. Nevertheless, its sales here are small on a per capita basis compared with, say, Germany, perhaps as little as 25 percent of what might be expected. Both old research and new suggest that milk thistle deserves even wider appreciation.
Garlic, a traditional medicine for centuries, is now validated by modern science to have a wide range of medicinal properties. Fresh garlic however is not for everyone, as its lingering odor on breath and skin and its potential gastric side effects make people reject fresh garlic, thus depriving themselves of its benefits. An important alternative, chosen by many is odorless Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) that is higher in antioxidants than fresh garlic and often more effective in protecting health.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) result from elevated levels of bacteria colonizing the urogenital tract (including the bladder and urethra; the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body), and are one of the most commonly acquired bacterial infections in both non-hospitalized and hospitalized individuals. UTIs lead to about 8 million visits to doctor’s offices and emergency rooms each year in the U.S., and are a substantial burden to healthcare costs.1 Although UTIs are generally not serious if treated promptly, they can cause significant discomfort and difficulty with urination; complications of an untreated UTI include kidney infection with the possibility of permanent damage.
Toxins come in a variety of forms. Our environment is full of them, and not all of these are man-made. Many toxins are found in everyday foods. Worse yet, some of the most dangerous toxins—toxins linked to breast and prostate cancers, for instance—are made in our own bodies. Of course, we are not without inborn defenses against toxic assaults. Indeed, the liver, in particular, is an organ, which is equipped to deactivate and remove poisons from our systems.
The stakes are high in the fight against toxins. Cancers and cardiovascular disease are two common results of toxic assaults upon the cells. The best known of the toxic compounds are free radicals, molecules generally produced by the action of oxygen and which can attack cell membranes and cellular DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, the “blue print” for cell functions and cell division). Antioxidants and free radical scavengers, such as the vitamins C and E, and plant compounds such the anthocyanidins and ellagic acid found in fruits and vegetables, prevent free radicals from causing damage to the tissues.
“For every dollar we spend on prescription drugs, we spend a dollar to fix a complication. Understanding how nutritional supplements affect these drugs could make them safer andmore effective.”
A little known but potentially life-saving fact is that common medications deplete vital nutrients essential to your health. Here’s a practical guide to avoid drug-induced nutrient depletion, and even, replace your medications with natural supplements.
Recently, this magazine ran a series of articles on vitamin and mineral supplements addressing the seemingly simple question, “Who needs them?” This seemed like a good jumping off point. Whenever you look at a supplement, you ask yourself what benefits its various ingredients will deliver. One formula promises to provide insurance against a multitude of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, another to supply protection against stress, and a third claims to protect against, say, bone loss. Athletes, in particular, constantly push their bodies “to the edge,” and they rightly expect ergogenic aids to be just that—substances that improve the body’s capacity to engage in physical activities. Moreover, serious athletes and body builders often cross the line between training and over-training. Dietary supplements are expected to a variety of needs, both minor and major. However, is choosing a supplement merely a matter of finding one with ingredients that match perceived needs?
Most of us are all too familiar with the feeling of being stressed—your heart races, your breathing becomes rapid and shallow, your blood pressure rises and your hands become cold or clammy as blood rushes to your limbs to prepare for escape. Most of the time; however, there is no life-threatening need for escape as we sit trapped in traffic or in front of our computers. This is our initial response to stress, otherwise known as an adrenalin rush or a sympathetic nervous system response. The parasympathetic nervous system response, or relaxation response, is just the opposite; your breathing slows and deepens, your muscles relax, your blood pressure lowers, your pulse rate slows and blood flow is directed back to your internal organs.
Magnesium deficiency is very common because it has been removed from our grains and water supply. A deficiency in this mineral is the leading cause of many health concerns, including:
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heart beat/heart palpitations
- Muscle pain or cramping
- Restless legs
- Twitching eyelids
- Sleep disturbances
- Headaches/or migraines
- Premenstrual syndrome
There is a vitamin revolution brewing, and it is important to the health of young and old alike as researchers respond to what has been called the “vitamin D deficiency epidemic.” More than a dozen scientists at leading universities both in the United States and abroad have minced no words about it: many of us need more vitamin D. (See “Cod liver oil, vitamin A toxicity, frequent respiratory infections, and the vitamin D deficiency epidemic.”)1 The issue of deficiency may be especially true of children, yet it is also applicable to adults. Quite surprisingly as far as vitamin D is concerned, the suggested intakes in recent decades have fallen rather wide of the mark. Not only are the recommendations of 400 IU/day as an adequate intake (100 percent of U.S. Daily Value) and 2,000 IU/day as an upper limit too low, but also recommendations may have been more realistic 70 years ago. As detailed below, in a tale of two vitamins, A and D, scientists initially bet on the wrong one.
Anyone who recently has been reading the major newspapers, surfing for news on the Internet or just watching the news on television likely has been surprised by the claim that “vitamins are deadly.” The Wall Street Journal (October 25, 2011) asks, “Is This the End of Popping Vitamins?” And the Archives of Internal Medicine just published “Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women,” an article that comes to the conclusion that “in older women, several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality risk.” A second study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA) claims that men who take vitamin E are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. What is to be made of such claims? Are they true, false, or something in between? How can the non-expert decide?