Two years ago in this space the topic was the entourage effect and how it differed from nutritional and medical findings involving synergy: "Whereas synergism involves components each of which is active on its own and which in combination yield effects greater than the sum of the individual contributions, the entourage effect may involve components most of which on their own may exhibit little or no benefit or may yield benefits that are otherwise unrelated."1 In practice, of course, there is more than a little overlap and one finds this all the time with foods and supplements. A good example is the so-called French paradox, generally presented as the supposed paradox between the French consumption of comparatively large percentage of calories as fat, especially as animal fat, and the Gallic low rate of heart disease.

Is the French Paradox Explained by Nutrient Synergies?
Sardonic observers sometimes remark that Americans count calories with neat little categories for carbohydrates, fat and protein whereas the French are only concerned with how food tastes and how the meal looks, its "presentation." Assuming that the consumption of animal fat matters, a point increasingly in question, the French classically have not cared while enjoying enviable levels of health, hence, by Anglo- American lights, the paradox. The traditional French diet is >42 percent fat, much of it either saturated or monounsaturated. The French (traditionally, at least, maybe still) drink red wine daily, yet outlive Americans (81.6 years versus 78.8 years, as of 2015, other statistical bases giving similar results).2 The French also suffer from fewer cases of coronary heart disease and, in actuality, remain ambulatory and self-sufficient much longer than do Americans, meaning that statistics of relative life expectancy should be balanced by a close look at morbidity statistics. According to the 2014 World Health Organization data set, the French rank second in the world, behind South Korea, for having the lowest mortality rates from coronary heart disease. America? We rank 44th.3 Significantly, in France they consume almost no sugary drinks and eat very little sugar in any form. These dietary practices should be contrasted with those in the States.4

A new report from the USDA says Americans are eating less fat than we did 30 years ago. Here's the opening from an online article about the report:5 On average, Americans are eating 10g less fat per day today than they were in the late 1970s, according to new research. In a report comparing food consumption patterns in 1977–78 versus 2005–2008, Biing-Hwan Lin and Joanne Guthrie from USDA's Economic Research Service found that on average, Americans consumed 75.2g of fat in 2005–08 compared with 85.6g in 1977–78. Meanwhile, the percentage of total calories derived from fat also declined substantially from 39.7% to 33.4% between 1977 and 2008, said the authors.

Of course, there is no paradox if the long-standing condemnation of the role of fat and saturated fats in cardiovascular disease is mistaken, as discussed in last month's column and previously in Heart Matters Do Statin Drugs. However, let's assume that there is a connection and that the paradox, as often suggested, is a result of the French love of red wine. Is wine's protection from a single magic phytonutrient, resveratrol, or is the combination of ingredients the key?

Many who argue that there is a paradox suggest that the phytochemical known as resveratrol is responsible for the low rates of cardiovascular disease. Critics argue that this is nonsense because there simply is not enough of the compound present to exert any effect. In fact, just this point was the focus of an exchange back in 2008 in which a colleague, Joseph Evans, and I were participants.6 Subsequent findings decisively have proven that Evans and I were correct and our interlocutor mistaken in both his evidence and his arguments.

The skeptic's argument went like this: "The potency of most of the nutritional supplements labeled as resveratrol is in the range of 30 mg to 100 mg. This is 30 to 100 times lower than doses thought to be in the range for therapeutic effects in humans." Our response was that red wine is a widely studied source of the combination of resveratrol and quercetin and that significant health benefits are associated with men it was demonstrated that "the platelet antiaggregatory effect of de-alcoholized red wines could be computed...from its concentrations of resveratrol and quercetin."7 Similarly, the combination of resveratrol and quercetin exerts a powerful synergy in the inhibition of inducible nitric oxide (the form linked to inflammation).8 In animals fed a high-cholesterol diet, the human equivalent of 210 mg resveratrol per day improved endothelial function.9 However, more was not better, with animal experiments demonstrating that, in human equivalent amounts, approximately 360 mg per day led to greater life expectancy than approximately 1,565 mg per day.10 Finally, there is experimental evidence that the combination of nutrients such as pterostilbene, quercetin, and resveratrol might be more active than any one of these alone at much higher dosages with research showing that subeffective doses of combinations of anti-inflammatory compounds can inhibit, for instance, carcinogenesis.11

In contention was whether relatively modest amounts of resveratrol in combination yield significant health benefits for humans despite the amounts being ineffective on their own. A recent clinical study provides an instance of proof that is in line with other studies published since 2008.12 In a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial with 29 overweight and obese subjects, trans-resveratrol and hesperetin taken together were effective in altering a marker related to insulin resistance and improving metabolic and vascular health. (Hesperetin is a flavanone, a particular type of flavonoid.) Treatment was one capsule daily for eight weeks and a washout period of six weeks with 90 mg resveratrol and 120 mg hesperetin and placebo. Neither resveratrol nor hesperetin was efficacious by itself, whereas together they significantly decreased fasting and postprandial plasma glucose, increased the oral glucose insulin sensitivity index and improved arterial dilatation.13 In other words, combining these nutrients is pivotal in promoting their benefits.

Underappreciated Nutrient Combinations

Magnesium and Potassium
Not usually considered as an aspect of the French diet that separates it from American nutrient intake is the ingestion of minerals important for blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, such as magnesium and potassium. Americans notoriously do not consume green vegetables, primary dietary sources of both minerals. This is a shame because dietary potassium regulates vascular calcification and arterial stiffness, which is to say, two major factors determining cardiovascular health.14 There is much noise made about lowering sodium intake, but it is the ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet that determines blood pressure, not the simple amount of sodium.15

The combination of magnesium and potassium arguably is particularly efficacious for a number of reasons. For one, the development of insulin resistance impedes the proper uptake of potassium.16 Magnesium deficiency inclines subjects toward insulin resistance. There is considerable evidence that inadequate magnesium predisposes individuals to potassium deficiency and makes this deficiency difficult to treat with potassium alone. Magnesium, which is a natural calcium channel blocker, controls the flow of sodium and potassium across the cell membrane and therefore potentiates cellular replenishment of potassium.17 Significantly, Mildred Seelig, the great magnesium researcher, pioneered an approach in which the ingestion of a potassium and magnesium salt with fixed ratios of the two minerals and a certain minimum per day proved to be adequate to reverse and control moderate hypertension.18,19

Improvement in bone health is another benefit that long-time readers of these TotalHealth articles may recall is associated with an adequate consumption of magnesium and potassium. In older individuals an increased intake of animal protein (but not plant) in conjunction with a significant intake of green vegetables, i.e., sources of magnesium and potassium, is associated with better bone health.

How About Food/Nutrient Combinations?
Some quite simple food combinations easily improve nutrient uptake. For instance, today there is much hype about the development of "golden rice" via genetic modification as a means of overcoming vitamin A deficiencies in poorer regions of the world. Not mentioned in this hype is that these areas are so poor that they have no fats or oils available with which to cook food and that the mere cooking of vegetables in oil largely resolves the vitamin A issue. In fact, the same approach is true for improved nutrient bioavailability in developed countries. In one trial, merely adding soybean oil in salad dressing improved carotenoid and fat-soluble vitamin bioavailability in salad vegetables.20 Similarly, co-consuming cooked whole eggs is an effective way to enhance carotenoid absorption from other carotenoid-rich foods, such as a raw mixed-vegetable salad.21

A word of caution on oils: Recent research strongly suggests that olive oil and coconut oil are preferable to soybean oil. "Rich in unsaturated fats, especially linoleic acid, soybean oil is assumed to be healthy, and yet it induces obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, and fatty liver in mice."22,23 Moreover, in general the US diet exhibits an excessive and unhealthful ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.24 Butter, by the way, after years of condemnation, appears to be neutral as a fat for most purposes. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis suggests relatively small or neutral overall associations of butter with mortality, CVD, and diabetes.25,26 Any worries would appear to be easily overcome by simply eating more leafy green vegetables to increase daily magnesium intake!27

HCA and a Largely Unknown Positive Combination
One of the more interesting compounds available in the American health food market, albeit of highly variable and often suspect quality, is (–)-hydroxycitric acid (HCA, always sold as a salt) (extracted from Garcinia cambogia, G. atroviridis, G. indica and other G. species).28 Medically, HCA has been shown to exhibit potential additive effects of with, for instance, atorvastatin treated hyperlipidemic patients.29 Almost never pointed out by the marketers of HCA is that the compound's mechanism of action is inhibited by diets that are very high in fats and/or alcohol just as the mechanism is not operational under fasting conditions. Just as an inadequate level of intake or the intake of poor quality salts leads to a failure to achieve benefits, so does intake under improper conditions.30,31,32 One approach to preserving benefits even in the face of high fat and/or high alcohol intake is to ingest HCA along with the phytonutrient known as caffeic acid. Caffeic acid is found in quite small amounts in some, but not all green coffee bean extracts; it should not be confused with chlorgenic or caffeoquinic acids.33,34 Effectively using HCA with a coffee extract to reduce the reverse effects of fat and alcohol is patented.35

Two Bad Combinations Typical of the American Diet
Just as there are "good" nutrient combinations, such as examined above, there are "bad" nutrient combinations. Sugars and refined carbohydrates increase the absorption of fats from meals while reducing the oxidation of fats for energy. The evidence against coupling refined carbohydrates and fats is clear and unambiguous. Similarly, there is an unfortunate interplay between the consumption of sugars/ refined carbohydrates and table salt leading to impaired blood pressure regulation.36

  • Low glycemic index diets improve glycemic (blood sugar) response and variability as well as promote the metabolism of fat for energy; they may promote long-term health.37,38
  • Taken in a milkshake, fructose (30 g) increased postprandial lipemia by 37 percent compared with control; glucose (17.5 g) increased postprandial lipemia by 59 percent.39 (Lipemia is the presence in the blood of an abnormally high concentration of emulsified fat, meaning primarily triglycerides, not cholesterol.)
  • In Syndrome X/insulin resistant subjects (BMI of 30), glucose consumption (50 g) led to a 15.9 percent greater glycemic response and a 30.9 percent greater insulin response than did fructose (50 g). This is true in part because fructose is processed in the liver and then released later as glucose and/or converted into fat.
  • On an energy balanced diet in these same subjects, fructose compared with glucose increased carbohydrate oxidation 31 percent, but decreased fat oxidation by 39 percent.40
  • Low-fat/high-carbohydrate diets in Syndrome X individuals reduce levels of HDL cholesterol and increase triacylglycerol concentrations.41
  • Sucrose is glucose + fructose; lactose is glucose + galactose; grape sugar (dextrose) is glucose.

Conclusion
The benefits of foods and the nutrients that they supply, as also is true of supplements, is highly dependent on food and nutrient combinations. Many nutrients that clinically are inactive on their own, including even at large levels of intake, are beneficial when consumed with appropriate partners. Resveratrol, so often associated with red wine and the French paradox, is but one example of this phenomenon. Many other everyday combinations, such as magnesium and potassium, similarly exhibit positive dose relations. Contrarily, certain combinations are not good if habitually practiced. The combination of sugars/refined carbohydrates with fats, such as the far too widely consumed omega-6 fatty acids found in, for instance, soybean oil, is one example of a pairing that, if consumed regularly, tends to impair aspects of metabolism, including the oxidation of fats for energy. Likewise, consumption patterns that couple sugars with salt can lead to health consequences, such as blood pressure dysregulation, not typical of either nutrient consumed by itself.

References:

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  19. Sarkkinen ES, Kastarinen MJ, Niskanen TH, Karjalainen PH, Venäläinen TM, Udani JK, Niskanen LK. Feasibility and antihypertensive effect of replacing regular salt with mineral salt -rich in magnesium and potassium- in subjects with mildly elevated blood pressure. Nutr J. 2011 Sep 2;10:88.
  20. White WS, Zhou Y, Crane A, Dixon P, Quadt F, Flendrig LM. Modeling the dose effects of soybean oil in salad dressing on carotenoid and fat-soluble vitamin bioavailability in salad vegetables. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Oct;106(4):1041–51.
  21. Kim JE, Gordon SL, Ferruzzi MG, Campbell WW. Effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from co-consumed, raw vegetables. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jul;102(1):75–83.
  22. Deol P, Fahrmann J, Yang J, Evans JR, Rizo A, Grapov D, Salemi M, Wanichthanarak K, Fiehn O, Phinney B, Hammock BD, Sladek FM. Omega-6 and omega-3 oxylipins are implicated in soybean oil-induced obesity in mice. Sci Rep. 2017 Oct 2;7(1):12488.
  23. Deol P, Evans JR, Dhahbi J, Chellappa K, Han DS, Spindler S, Sladek FM. Soybean Oil Is More Obesogenic and Diabetogenic than Coconut Oil and Fructose in Mouse: Potential Role for the Liver. PLoS One. 2015 Jul 22;10(7):e0132672.
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  27. Kummerow FA, Wasowicz E, Smith T, Yoss NL, Thiel J. Plasma lipid physical properties in swine fed margarine or butter in relation to dietary magnesium intake. J Am Coll Nutr. 1993 Apr;12(2):125–32.
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  29. Alkuraishy Hayder M, Algareeb Ali I, Albuhadilly Ali K, ALmgoter Basim M. Potential additive effects of garcinia cambogia on atorvastatin treated hyperlipidemic patients: randomized crossover clinical study. International Journal of Advances in Medicine. 2014 Nov 1 (3):189–95.
  30. Clouatre DL, Preuss HG. The evidence of hydroxycitric acid (HCA) health risks to the testes points to manufacturing failings, not to properly made HCA salts. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Sep;61(9).
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  33. Tsuda S, Egawa T, Ma X, Oshima R, Kurogi E, Hayashi T. Coffee polyphenol caffeic acid but not chlorogenic acid increases 5'AMP-activated protein kinase and insulin-independent glucose transport in rat skeletal muscle. J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Nov;23(11):1403–9.
  34. Liao CC, Ou TT, Huang HP, Wang CJ. The inhibition of oleic acid induced hepatic lipogenesis and the promotion of lipolysis by caffeic acid via up regulation of AMP-activated kinase. J Sci Food Agric. 2014 Apr;94(6):1154–62.
  35. United States Patent 9,789,076 –– Bolus dose of hydroxycitric acid with glycerol.
  36. Preuss HG, Clouatre D, Swaroop A, Bagchi M, Bagchi D, Kaats GR. Blood Pressure Regulation: Reviewing Evidence for Interplay Between Common Dietary Sugars and Table Salt. J Am Coll Nutr. 2017 Sep 29:1–8.
  37. Henry CJ, Kaur B, Quek RYC, Camps SG. A Low Glycaemic Index Diet Incorporating Isomaltulose Is Associated with Lower Glycaemic Response and Variability, and Promotes Fat Oxidation in Asians. Nutrients. 2017 May 9;9(5).
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  40. Tittelbach TJ, Mattes RD, Gretebeck RJ. Post-exercise substrate utilization after a high glucose vs. high fructose meal during negative energy balance in the obese. Obes Res 2000 Oct;8(7):496–505.
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  42. low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets on body weight and serum lipids in overweight subjects with metabolic syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jan;75(1):11–20.

AS I MENTIONED IN LAST MONTH'S ARTICLE ON AUTUMN HEALTH, an important part of my evolution as an integrative physician came from the discovery and study of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) beginning in the mid 1970s, after I received my Western Medical training. The integration of this Traditional Healing Philosophy and practice aligned with natural therapies and conventional Western medicine was the subject of my first book Staying Healthy with the Seasons, originally published in 1981.

I was also influenced by the stories of the barefoot doctors of ancient China whose primary goal was to keep people well, to live in harmony with Nature, to encourage and teach ways of health, and not just treat disease. Today, 40 years later, these ideas still are part of my medical practice and teaching.

Central to TCM is the concept of the Five Elements—Wood, Water, Fire, Earth and Metal (or Air). Everything that exists is seen as comprised of these elements and each one has multiple correspondences such as a season, a color, a body organ, one of the five senses and so on.


This concept of the Macrocosm and the Microcosm—"as above, so below"—sees the human body as a small universe, a reflection of the larger universe, and the correspondences and harmony between the two are the keys to this traditional philosophy and practice of health and healing.

In my most recent book Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine, which is really the next octave of what I presented in Staying Healthy with the Seasons, I have further developed some of these ideas and created The 5 Keys to Staying Healthy—with the acronym NESSA—Nutrition, Exercise, Stress, Sleep and Attitude—as a simple and practical guide for taking our health care into our own hands on a day-to-day basis. These five lifestyle aspects are what create our health and maintain it.

While these two five-fold systems are not exactly equivalent, for instance Nutrition cannot be directly equated with Earth, or Exercise with Fire, I was certainly inspired by the ancient Chinese model of five essential and interrelated elements in creating the 5 Keys. The Chinese elements relate to each other in both creative ("cheng") and "destructive" ("ko") or controlling ways: for example, it is said that Wood (as fuel) "creates" Fire, or that Fire "destroys" Metal (by melting it to a liquid).


In the same way each of the 5 Keys can either help and support the others, or undermine them, and thus enhance or diminish our health. For example, good nutrition and regular exercise can lessen stress and improve sleep while on the other hand stress can negatively impact digestion and sleep, creating more stress, poor sleep, diminished vitality and increased susceptibility to disease.

Now let's look more closely at each of the 5 Keys to Staying Healthy.

The First Key—Nutrition

I believe that Nutrition is the foundation of health and we have more potential control over what we eat than in any other area of our lives, so this is a good place to begin, even though eating in our world today can be quite a challenge. Food can bring us much pleasure and sustenance and it's certainly part of sharing our lives with others. The key here is to eat healthy, nourishing foods and to avoid toxins whenever possible. We can do everything right and still get sick, so another part of this key is to learn how food and supplements help us recover and heal when symptoms or illnesses occur.

What can we do?

  • Eat mostly fresh foods packaged by Nature, not manufactured
  • Focus on vegetables and good quality proteins, plus fresh fruits
  • Know what you're eating and understand food labels (avoid artificial ingredients and toxins)
  • Minimize SNACCSs—Sugar, Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine, and Chemicals/toxins

The Second Key—Exercise

A consistent and balanced exercise program is crucial to Staying Healthy. Exercise, in its varied forms, stimulates metabolism, circulation, oxygenation, lymphatic activity, and neurological function, lessens inflammation and strengthens our immune system. Regular daily exercise can help more than the body; it can help improve mood and energy, promote better sleep, and reduce anxiety, stress and depression.

People often ask, "Which exercise is best for me? And my answer is, "The one that you'll actually do!" When people are given suggestions that are beyond their capability, or try to do too much, they often end up doing nothing. So this key begins with motivation to be or stay fit and requires a commitment to a realistic program. Set goals that allow you to achieve some measurable outcome, such as losing five pounds, be more flexible or gain more arm strength.

What can we do?
  • Some exercise daily with a goal of 7—10 hours of physical activity each week
  • Stretching—for flexibility, also good before and after aerobics and/or weights
  • Aerobic activity—running, hiking, biking, dancing or swimming, for endurance, cardiovascular health and detox (sweating). Cardio activity also supports the feel good, mood enhancing "endorphins"
  • Toning—using weights or resistance exercises, for strength and muscle mass
  • Energy balancing—like yoga, qigong, and tai chi—especially helpful for elders
  • Find a buddy to exercise with and make it fun

The Third Key—Stress

One definition of stress is the perception that we don't have the resources to handle a given problem or situation. There are many types and sources of stress, especially in our modern lives; how we manage our reactions can have serious positive or negative consequences for our health and our ability to heal. Stress reduction is a skill we all need to learn. It's good for each of us to have some relaxation techniques, mediation practice, and stress reduction exercises in our life activities. Calming the mind when it gets too wild is crucial to managing stress.

What can we do?

  • Exercise—physical activity with a regular program is a great de-stressor
  • Learn some stress reduction techniques like Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
  • Spend time in Nature—take a 10 minute walk, and breathe deeply
  • Learn how to practice ‘rethinking'—seeing the situation differently
  • Create social support—find a listening and caring friend or family member
  • Maintain a sense of humor—watch a funny movie or TV show, read a book that helps you laugh
  • Herbs and supplements—support your Adrenal glands with nutrients like B vitamins, C, and minerals, plus herbs like Licorice root, Ashwaganda, and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticocus)

The Fourth Key—Sleep

Sleep is perhaps our most under-appreciated health resource and we often don't recognize its importance to our overall wellbeing until we're not sleeping properly. This is a national problem—at least 75 million US adults have sleep disorders and more than 25 percent of adults take a prescription medication to help them sleep. Even low levels of chronic fatigue can create reduced performance and accidents, particularly while driving.

So I encourage you to make sleep a health priority.

What can we do?

  • Cut back on Caffeine, Alcohol and Sugar especially late in the day
  • Avoid big evening meals
  • Be quiet about an hour before bedtime, dim the lights, and turn off computers and TV. Listen to calming music or meditate
  • Make your bedroom a comforting environment that gives you a sense of peace and relaxation
  • Herbs and Supplements—try Melatonin taken 30 minutes before sleep, serotonin supporters like L-tryptophan and 5-HTP help with deeper sleep or try herbs like valerian, chamomile (not for people with ragweed allergies) and catnip, or formulas like Sleepytime or Nighty Night teas

The Fifth Key—Attitude

The inclusion of Attitude as the fifth Key was definitely inspired by my studies of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where the personal realm of our thoughts, feelings and beliefs plays an important role in both our basic health and healing from any problems—with the goal of aligning inner and outer worlds. An important point: When we develop an "attitude of gratitude" for our life and love our body, this helps us care for ourselves better in the areas of diet, fitness, stress management and sleep. This is an area that is often ignored in conventional Western medicine.

What can we do?

  • Seek out friends or practitioners who will support your healthy attitudes and who can help you change your unhealthy ones
  • Exercise your motivation muscles. Set a goal for yourself that you can commit to and complete, such as "This week I am going to walk for 30 minutes every other day." When you keep that commitment and see that you can, your attitude will shift to believing in yourself more and being more positive
  • Learn and practice meditation, yoga, qigong or tai chi
  • Contribute to someone else's healing through your support. Give of yourself by helping others less fortunate and you get more back

In conclusion—we need to review each area of our lifestyle and address them together, as an integrated whole. Remember that our health is much more in our own hands than we realize.

The 5 Keys Self Survey
On a scale of 1 to 10 how do you rate your Health and Habits in each of the following areas? (10 being the best possible)

  • ___ Nutrition
  • ___ Exercise
  • ___ Stress
  • ___ Sleep
  • ___ Attitude
Ideally, we are seven or above in all of these areas. If not, the low spots are a good place to begin.

Let's take an honest look and assess where we stand. Then make a simple plan of action that is attainable. One of the biggest mistakes in attempting any lifestyle change is to be too ambitious, thus setting us up for failure.

Use these 5 Keys and you can add years to your life and life to your years!

I am excited to announce a free online course that my team and I are creating on The 5 Keys to Staying Healthy, which will be available soon! Check my website to see the availability of this program, and more coming soon as well.

If you'd like to be one of the first to benefit from this free course—please join my email list at: https://elsonhaasmd.com and receive a free PDF copy of The 5 Keys to Staying Healthy from my book Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine.

Cannabis has been a popular topic recently, with a clear consensus that there are wide health benefits to the plant, and evolving laws that are increasing its availability. Recognized commonly for its use in chronic pain and inflammation, its benefits in treating a variety of skin conditions is a less familiar topic. This article will focus on cannabidiol (CBD) only, i.e. the part of the plant not containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive part that gets you high.

CBD's effect on skin goes beyond its anti-inflammatory effects, and is not only helpful in treatment but prevention as well.

Dr. Phillip Blair, MD, Ret. COL spoke on this topic at the recent Cannabis World Conference and Business Exposition in Los Angeles. An international consultant on medical uses of CBD, Dr. Blair geared this presentation to the effects CBD can have on such conditions as acne, psoriasis, and even skin cancer. This was the inspiration for this article.

How Does It Work?
Benefits of CBD for the skin include the following mechanisms:
  • Neuro-regulation
  • Immune modulation—includes decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF, IL1 and IL6 and increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines IL4 and IL10
  • Effects on hunger, stress, and sex hormones
  • Ability to restore balance to the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

What is Cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol (pronounced Can’na-bi-die’-ol) is a derivative of the cannabis or hemp plant that contains a number of beneficial natural chemicals such as cannabinoids and terpenes, providing a synergistic or "entourage effect." This means that when added together, the effects are not simply additive, but create a more potent effect overall.

Over-the-counter cannabidiol, legal in all 50 states, contains less than .3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In states where licensed, plants and their derivatives that contain more than .3 percent THC require a medical license and are purchased at a dispensary. That is a changing requirement, though, beyond the scope of this article. THC is the chemical in the plant that has direct mind- and mood-altering effects; i.e., it gets you high. Non-THC CBD also can have positive effects on mind and mood, but without the "high" effect.

Cannabidiol and the Skin
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to have positive effects on a variety of skin conditions, its mechanism of action going beyond the commonly accepted anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. The most common modes of administration for skin care are orally and topically. Conditions treated include acne, eczema, psoriasis, skin cancer, wound healing, and aging skin.

The Endocannabinoid System and Acne
Acne is generally a result of overactive sebaceous glands. The body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) which plays a key role in the regulation of sebum production1 responds to both endocannabinoids (made naturally in our body) and phytocannabinoids (found in the cannabis plant). Balancing the ECS is key here.

CBD works three different ways to regulate a sebaceous cell:

  • Stops inflammatory lipids like arachidonic acid
  • Stops the extra production of the cell types in sebaceous cells that lead to overproduction of sebaceous material
  • Provides an anti-inflammatory effect2

There are other factors, too, which facilitate acne beyond the sebocyte factor. One is the over-production of testosterone which induces lipid synthesis, with excessive secretion and cell growth. CBD was shown to inhibit this lipid syntheses.2 Another factor is the overgrowth of bacteria called Propionibacterium. CBD has been shown to exhibit antibacterial properties and potentially inhibit its growth.2,3

Eczema
Eczema is a common skin condition characterized by a red, itchy rash, most commonly appearing on the face, back of the knees, wrists, hands, or feet, but may affect other areas as well. Eczema affects about 10 percent to 20 percent of infants and about 3 percent of adults and children in the US.

Newer research indicates that that skin conditions like eczema and acne develop when there is an imbalance in the ECS,4 and suggests that the cannabinoids can help repair this imbalance by interacting with cannabinoid receptors. One study of 2500 patients with eczema experienced significant reductions in redness, scaling, itching, chafing, and thickening after regular topical use of a cannabinoid-containing cream. This study also resulted in 38.3 percent of the patients experiencing a complete resolution of itching symptoms.5

Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder which includes pathological overproduction of skin cells. The cytokine, Interleukin-17 (IL-17) is known to be largely responsible for psoriasis. CBD reduces the production of inflammatory cytokines IL-17 and IL-6 and increases the production of an anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10.6 This is a great boon to psoriasis sufferers, who have had to cover up with clothing, or take strong and expensive medications. They can now use a product that not only treats their unsightly rash, but has side benefits instead of side effects.

Skin Cancer
Many studies show promising results of cannabis on cancer cells. One study found that activating the cannabinoid receptors induced cell death in tumorigenic epidermal cells, while the non-cancerous epidermal cells remained unaffected.7 Dr. Blair discussed his experience with a 50-year-old man with recurring basal cell cancer. He had the cancer removed and covered the area with CBD under a band-aid. The patient experienced complete healing at two months with no signs of recurrence.

Wound Healing
There is considerable anecdotal evidence related to cannabis and wound healing. A few studies suggest that activation of the endocannabinoid system plays a role in this process.8 Dr. Blair showed some before and after photos of a patient with a wound on his arm, showing significant healing within 12 weeks.

Anti-aging Skin Care
There are an increasing number of CBD-containing skin care products, owing largely to its anti-inflammatory effects, which can counter the effects of aging.

Dosing and Application
For skin conditions, CBD can be taken orally, in capsules, gel caps or tinctures, or topically, as a cream or oil. Dosing should start at 15 mg of CBD twice a day orally, adjusting the dose upward as needed. It not unusual to go up to 60 mg. For a location-specific condition like eczema or skin cancer, you can apply the topical cannabis directly on the affected area. For nonspecific topical application, CBD oil can be applied to the back and covered with a band-aid as protection. Any improvements are typically seen in about two weeks after the first dose.

A number of troublesome and heretofore difficult to treat skin conditions have been resolved successfully with its use. And this is just one of a growing wave of uses of CBD.

We thank Dr. Phillip Blair for supplying both the inspiration and a portion of the material for this article.

References:

  1. Dobrosi N, et al. Endocannabinoids enhance lipid synthesis and apoptosis of human sebocytes via cannabinoid receptor-2-mediated signaling. FASEB J. 2008;22(10):3685¡V95.
  2. Olah A, et al. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and anti-inflammatory effects on human sebocytes. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2014;124(9): 3713¡V24
  3. Kozela E, et al. Cannabinoids Decrease the Th17 Inflammatory Autoimmune Phenotype. Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology. 2013;8(5): 1265¡V76
  4. Appendino G, et al. Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure-activity study. J Nat Prod. 2008;71(8):1427¡V30.
  5. Eberlein, B., Eicke, C., Reinhardt, H.W., and Ring, J. (2008, January). Adjuvant treatment of atopic eczema: assessment of an emollient containing Npalmitoylethanolamine (ATOPA study). Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: JEADV, 22(1), 73¡V82.
  6. Biro, T., Toth, B.I., Hasko, G., Paus, R., and Pacher, P. (2009). The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 30(8), 411¡V20.
  7. M. Llanos Casanova, et al. Inhibition of Skin Tumor Growth and Angiogenesis in Vivo by Activation of Cannabinoid receptors. JCI. 2003;111(1): 43¡V50.
  8. Ramot Y, Sugawara K, Zakany N, Toth BI, Biro T, Paus R. (2013) A novel control of human keratin expression: cannabinoid receptor 1-mediated signaling down-regulates the expression of keratins K6 and K16 in human keratinocytes in vitro and in situ. PeerJ 1:e40 https://peerj.com/articles/40/

Most people contract one or more colds every year. A cold is caused by viruses that infect cells of the upper respiratory tract. Since there are over 200 different species and strains of these viruses, a cold caused by one virus does not protect a person from catching a cold cause by a different one. This explains why colds can occur one after another or several times a year. An acute sore throat, on the other hand can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. If your sore throat gets worse no matter what you do, it’s probably bacterial and may require a trip to the doctor for an antibiotic. The well-known symptoms of a cold include stuffy nose, watery eyes, low fever, aching, and possibly a sore throat.

Conventional medical treatment for a cold generally involves rest, aspirin, decongestants, and drinking a lot of fluids. Conventional medical treatment for a sore throat also involves rest, aspirin, lots of fluids, and sometimes antibiotics. An integrative approach may also include supplementation with vitamin C, zinc lozenges, Echinacea, vitamin A, and a homeopathic remedy for colds.

Vitamin C
Since the late, great Nobel Laureate, Linus Pauling first discussed that megadoses of vitamin C might be an effective treatment for the common cold, the medical world has published study after study attempting to prove or disprove Pauling’s claim. In some cases, the studies were flawed since the amounts of vitamin C used were hardly megadoses, and were not sufficient to elicit a response.

Placebo-controlled studies have shown that vitamin C supplementation decreases the duration and severity of common cold infections. However, the magnitude of the benefit has substantially varied, hampering conclusions about the clinical significance of the vitamin. In one published review, 23 studies with regular vitamin C supplementation were analyzed to find out factors that may explain some part of the variation in the results. It was found that on an average, vitamin C produces greater benefit for children than for adults. Perhaps of greatest significance, the dose also affects the magnitude of the benefit, there being on average greater benefit from at least 2000 mg daily compared to 1000 mg daily. For example, in five studies with adults administered 1000 mg daily of vitamin C, the median decrease in cold duration was only six percent, whereas in two studies with children administered 2000 mg daily, the median decrease was four times higher, 26 percent. The studies analyzed in this review used regular vitamin C supplementation. The authors of the review, however, noted that, “it is conceivable that therapeutic supplementation starting early at the onset of the cold episode could produce comparable benefits.”1

In fact, this is exactly what took place in a recent study involving 252 adult subjects with a cold or flu who were treated with hourly doses of 1000 mg of vitamin C for the first six hours, and then three times daily thereafter. A control group of 463 subjects were treated with pain relievers and decongestants. The results were that overall reported flu and cold symptoms in the vitamin C group decreased 85 percent compared with the control group after the administration of megadose Vitamin C. The researchers in this study concluded: “Vitamin C in megadoses administered before or after the appearance of cold and flu symptoms relieved and prevented the symptoms in the test population compared with the control group.”2

I’ve also found effective results with the common cold when supplementing with higher doses of vitamin C. I recommend 1000–2000 mg every two hours (reduce dose if experiencing loose bowels).

Zinc Lozenges
Zinc’s role in immune function is well established.3 The use of zinc in a lozenge form for the treatment of the common cold is also gaining validity. In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the treatment of the common cold with zinc lozenges resulted in a significant reduction in duration of symptoms of the cold. The zinc group had significantly fewer days with coughing, headache, hoarseness, nasal congestion, nasal drainage, and sore throat. Cold symptoms were over in 4.4 days in the zinc group compared with 7.6 days in the placebo group.4

Echinacea
Echinacea is an immune stimulant/supporter, and is excellent in the prevention and treatment of colds and influenza. Research suggests that Echinacea supports the immune system by activating white blood cells (lymphocytes and macrophages).5 In addition, Echinacea appears to increase the production of interferon, which is important to the immune response of viral infections.6 In any case, a number of double-blind, clinical studies have confirmed Echinacea's effectiveness in treating colds and flu.7,8,9,10,11 However, some research suggests that Echinacea may be more effective if used at the onset of these conditions.12,13

In addition, the results of a published study involving 238 subjects confirmed that Echinacea was safe and effective in producing a rapid improvement of cold symptoms. In the subgroup of patients who started therapy at an early phase of their cold, the effectiveness of Echinacea was most prominent.14 In a similar study, 246 subjects with a cold were treated with Echinacea preparations or a placebo. Those treated with the Echinacea preparations experienced a reduction of symptoms, significantly more effective than the placebo. The researchers concluded that the Echinacea preparations, "represent a low-risk and effective alternative to the standard symptomatic medicines in the acute treatment of common cold." 15

Homeopathic Remedy For Colds
In one clinical study, 170 soldiers suffering from the common cold were treated with either a combination homeopathic preparation, or aspirin. On the 4th and 10th treatment days, both the homeopathic remedy and the aspirin were found to possess comparative effectiveness in the treatment of the common cold.16 Another study involving 53 outpatients suffering from common cold found similar results.17

Vitamin A
Vitamin A's role in maintaining healthy epithelial tissue helps to fight infection by preventing the invasion of bacteria or viruses. In addition, children with even mild vitamin A deficiency develop respiratory infections and diarrhea at two and three times the rate of children with normal vitamin A status.18

common cold treatments


References

  1. Hemila H, Med Hypotheses (1999) 52(2):171–8.
  2. Gorton HC, Jarvis K, J Manipulative Physiol Ther (1999) 22(8):530–3.
  3. Whitney E, Cataldo C, Rolfes S, "Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition," Fifth Edition (1998) West/Wadsworth, Belmont, California, p.463–4.
  4. Mossad SB, et al, Ann Intern Med (1996) 125(2):81–8.
  5. See DM, Broumand N, Sahl L, Tilles JG. In vitro effects of echinacea and ginseng on natural killer and antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity in healthy subjects and chronic fatigue syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome patients. Immunpharmacol 1997;35:229–35.
  6. Leuttig B, Steinmuller C, Gifford GE, et al. Macrophage activation by the polysaccharide arabinogalactan isolated from plant cell cultures of Echinacea purpurea. J Natl Cancer Inst 1989;81:669–75.
  7. Melchart D, Linde K, Worku F, et al. Immunomodulation with Echinacea—a systematic review of controlled clinical trials. Phytomedicine 1994;1:245–54.
  8. Dorn M, Knick E, Lewith G. Placebo-controlled, double-blind study of Echinacea pallida redix in upper respiratory tract infections. Comp Ther Med 1997;5:40–2.
  9. Hoheisel O, Sandberg M, Bertram S, et al. Echinacea shortens the course of the common cold: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Clin Res 1997;9:261–8.
  10. Braunig B, Dorn M, Knick E. Echinacea purpurea root for strengthening the immune response to flu-like infections. Zeitschrift Phytotherapie 1992;13:7–13.
  11. Brikenborn RM, Shah DV, Degenring FH. Echinaforce® and other Echinacea fresh plant preparations in the treatment of the common cold. A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Phytomedicine 1999;6:1–5.
  12. Melchart D, Walther E, Linde K, et al. Echinacea root extracts for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections: A double-blind, placebocontrolled randomized trial. Arch Fam Med 1998;7:541–5.
  13. Grimm W, Müller HH. A randomized controlled trial of the effect of fluid extract of Echinacea purpurea on the incidence and severity of colds and respiratory tract infections. Am J Med 1999;106:138–43.
  14. Henneicke-von Zepelin H, et al, Curr Med Res Opin (1999) 15(3):214–27.
  15. Brinkeborn RM, Shah DV, Degenring FH, Phytomedicine (1999) 6(1):1–6.
  16. Maiwald VL, et al, Arzneimittelforschung (1988) 38(4):578-82.
  17. Gassinger CA, Wunstel G, Netter P, Arzneimittelforschung (1981) 31(4):732–6.
  18. Whitney E, Cataldo C, Rolfes S, "Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition," Fifth Edition (1998) West/Wadsworth, Belmont, California, p.

A Dairy-Free South American Delight

If you love coconut and treasure its taste and health benefits as I do, this dessert is one you'll add to your list of easy favorite healthy treats.

TEMBLEQUE gets its name from the Spanish word tiembla which means to shake—also likened to the Spanish word temblor which is used to describe an earthquake or trembling—very appropriate for Ecuador known for its earthquakes. It's a pudding thickened with cornstarch resulting in a slightly firm pudding with a custard texture that has a little jiggle when shaken—similar to Mexican flan but with its own unique flavor and texture.

This healthy (and admittingly habit-forming) delight is creamy, cool and most of all intensely coconut. The pudding can be poured into individual molds or into a 9 x 9 square pan and served in slices. I like to do the individual servings if I'm making them as a daily snack or serving to dinner guests. However, if I'm taking it to a party I make it in a pan for easy slicing and serving. It's very versatile because you can top with any fruit.

Tembleque (Coconut Pudding)—Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 4 cups coconut milk (canned works best)
  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 2/3 cup of Lakanto (monk fruit).natural sweetener
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine natural salt
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier liqueur or essential oil of orange or tangerine
  • Ground cinnamon to taste (I use 1 heaping teaspoon)
Directions
  1. Lubricate the inside of six 4-oz ramekin molds with softened coconut oil, set aside.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except cinnamon and whisk until well blended.
  3. Place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a slow boil and is smooth and thick, about 5 minutes. DO NOT allow it to reach a roaring boil.
  4. Pour the pudding into prepared molds.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

cinnamon


Health Benefits of Key Ingredients:
Coconut milk—Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.

Unlike cow's milk, coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by those with lactose intolerance.

Cornstarch—strictly used as a vegetable source for thickening, has little food value and is a carbohydrate; doesn't essentially add food value. If you are avoiding corn products you can use arrowroot.

Lakanto (Monk fruit) Sweetener—an all-natural sweetener used in the same quantity as sugar in a recipe. It comes in Original (white like refined sugar) or Golden (like brown sugar). Over a thousand years ago, in remote mountain highlands of Asia, a group of Buddhist monks, called the LoHan, achieved enlightenment through meditation, prayer and pure living. On the slopes of a primeval forest, the monks discovered and cultivated a rare fruit prized for its sweetness. This sacred fruit was named Monk Fruit, or LoHan Guo, after its devoted caretakers and was used in elixirs to increase chi, or life energy.

Monk Fruit was used for centuries in eastern traditional herbalism to increase chi and well-being, earning it the nickname "The Immortals' Fruit." We still grow and harvest Monk Fruit for LAKANTO® in the same pristine area and according to traditional and environmental methods.

Born from a proprietary mixture of the high-purity Monk Fruit extract and Erythritol, LAKANTO® is a delicious, all-natural, zero calorie, zero glycemic sweetener with the sumptuous rich taste of sugar. Unlike most fruits, whose sweetness comes from fructose, Monk Fruit's sweetness comes from natural mogrosides that are much sweeter than sugar. Modern research shows that Monk Fruit extract does not elevate blood sugar or insulin, making it a perfect sweetener for blood sugar and weight management. And it does NOT feed yeast or induce inflammation as sugar does.

Grand Marnier—an orange-flavored liqueur created in 1880 by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle. It's made by blending cognac brandy, distilled essence of bitter orange, and sugar. Yes, it's liquor. If you are avoiding liquor you can substitute pure essential oil of orange.

Cinnamon is a powerful spice used medicinally around the world for thousands of years. This ancient spice was once so prized that civilizations went to war over it. History dates the use of cinnamon to over 4,000 years. In the 1800's, supplies of cinnamon were discovered and planted in the Indonesian islands; later, trees were successfully grown in South America where it once was the spice of the elite. Today it is used daily in many cultures, specifically Latin and Asian cuisine because of its widespread health benefits, not to mention its distinctly sweet, warming taste and ease of availability and use.

According to researchers, out of twenty-six of the most popular herbs and medicinal spices in the world, cinnamon actually ranks number one in terms of its protective antioxidant levels!

The unique smell, color, and flavor of cinnamon is due to the oily part of the tree on which it grows. The health benefits of cinnamon come from the bark of the Cinnamomum tree—the bark contains several special compounds responsible for its many health promoting properties—including cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid, and cinnamate.

cinnamon health benefits


Researchers concluded that the health benefits of cinnamon can be obtained in the form of its pure bark, essential oils, in ground spice form (which is bark powder), or in extract form when its special phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and antioxidants are isolated. These compounds make cinnamon one of the most beneficial spices on earth, giving it antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, immunity-boosting, cancer and heart disease-protecting abilities.

Colloidal silver has been recommended for treating several internal and external problems in pets. Some doctors and pet owners have reported good results when other treatments have failed.

Depending upon the manufacturer of colloidal silver, which is NOT the same thing as silver sulfadiazine, the actual quantity of silver in bottles is not always guaranteed. Some doctors have reported bottles that had bacteria or fungus growing in the bottles, which makes one wonder about the potential antimicrobial action of some products.

Colloidal silver is produced by the electrocolloidal method, which extracts microscopic particles from silver. These microscopic particles pass out of the body in the urine and feces. Because the colloidal silver maintains a positive electrical charge, it should only be contained in dark glass bottles (plastic maintains a negative charge and neutralizes the colloidal silver).

Therapeutic Uses
Silver, in the form of silver sulfadiazine (Silvadene), is quite useful for treating topical bacterial infections; especially severe infections caused by gram-negative bacterial species (pseudomonas spp. and aeromonas spp.). Both human and veterinary medical doctors have reported success when the product is used orally or topically in a variety of infectious disorders.

Scientific Evidence
University studies show effective and quick antimicrobial kill of staphylococcus epidermidis, staphylococcus aureus, enterococcus faecalis, salmonella typhimurium, pseudomonas aeruginosa, and candida albicans using colloidal silver (the product tested was manufactured by SilverKare) when incubated at the recommended 30 ppm.

Dosages
One use of colloidal silver that anecdotally has shown some success is the treatment of cats with either acute or chronic sinus infections. A drop of colloidal silver is placed in each eye and in the nostrils. It can also be added to the drinking water or given orally.

Safety Issues
While quality varies among manufacturers, properly produced colloidal silver appears safe and effective in many conditions. To date, no infectious organisms appear to have developed resistance to colloidal silver.

While short-term use of some products has not resulted in reported side effects, there is always the potential for argyria (silver poisoning) in improperly made products and those containing silver salts. According to several scientific publications, the human consumption of silver may result in argyria, a permanent ashen-gray or blue discoloration of the skin, conjunctiva, and internal organs. However, this has not been seen in people or pets using properly manufactured colloidal silver.

While more reports and controlled studies are needed, preliminary reports appear encouraging. Because of the potential benefits of colloidal silver, owners should discuss this therapy with their veterinarians; discuss the latest studies available, and possible use in the treatment of infectious disorders.

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.

Help for Cold Sores and Herpes Infections

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.

A self-inventory
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?
For most of us, the key life challenges are in areas of:
  1. Health–how we care for ourselves and the result we hu-manifest,
  2. Career–what we share with the world and the support that is returned, and
  3. Relationships–how we give and receive love.

If we can master these three primary areas of life, some might say we're near enlightenment.

Expectations
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.

Letting Go
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.

Anti-Stress Nutrients
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:

  1. Biochemistry. This includes herbals, nutrition and medications.
  2. Structural. Including areas such as manipulation, surgery, breathing, exercise, and ergonomics.
  3. Biophysics. For example, Acupuncture, Chakra work, Yoga, and NAET.
  4. 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:

  1. Don't hurt others.
  2. 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:

  1. Overactive thyroid. Consider this if your Free T4 thyroid test is even in the upper 20th percentile of the normal range.
  2. Low progesterone (women). Progesterone is like our body's natural Valium. Consider this if anxiety is worse around menses and ovulation.
  3. Low testosterone (men). Consider if testosterone levels are in the lower quarter of the normal range.
  4. 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 standardh 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).

Endnote:
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.

Antioxidant Digest

 

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).

antioxidant foods lutein zeaxanthin leafy greens

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:

  • Eggs
  • Leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and romaine lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • 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.

antioxidant foods LYC-CO-MATO tomato_extract

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

Antioxidant Foods Grape Seed Extracts

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.”

—Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D., science editor Total Health

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.

ROSMARINIC ACID

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.

In Summary

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

COQ10 FOR ANTI-AGING AND A HEALTHY HEART

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

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

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

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

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.

GREEN FOODS

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

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.

GLUTATHIONE

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.

PYCNOGENOL®

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

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:

Drug Muggers
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)

Brain Maker:
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)

Editorial Reviews

"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.