Join John and Jeffrey M Smith as they talk about GMOs, pesticides, RoundUp, the TPP, DARK Act and so much more. To donate to or learn all about Jeffrey's work visit his website. responsibletechnology.org
Join John and Charles as they talk about functional medicine and how valuable Health in Your Pocket is to have in your library. There are many options when it comes to health care but the most important consideration is knowledge. The more you know about your conditions and options for treatment the better. Good doctors appreciate well-informed patients. Health in Your Pocket provides you with the information to understand many conditions and treatment options. It is very well researched and easy to read. Be informed...self-managed health care is the best approach. Remember this...one of the leading causes of death in the US is properly prescribed medication...you can be a statistic...but be on the right side of the stat chart...
You can also read our review on Health In Your Pocket in our Recommended Reading section:
Health-in-Your-Pocket by E. Cheryl Haberstock, RN, BSN
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It seems new studies on the importance of vitamin D are being published on a regular basis. Jim LaValle R.Ph., MS., CCN talks about the importance of being tested for your vitamin D levels and becoming part of the largest vitamin D research project in the world.
More info at: www.GrassRootsHealth.net/
Links to Jim's books and work at: JimLaValle.com/
John talks with Lisa Druxman, founder of Fit4Mom at their annual San Diego conference.
FIT4MOM gives women the "Strength for Motherhood" by providing classes and support for moms in every stage of motherhood. Through Fit4Baby's prenatal fitness classes, Stroller Strides, Body Back, and Our Village, women have the opportunity to have a workout and support that is flexible around motherhood.
Silent Epidemic, by award winning film director Gary Null, is the first documentary to investigate thoroughly the true medical record and the historical evidence about vaccine marvels. Conventional medicine has herald the invention of vaccines as a miracle of modern science. It claims that vaccines have been proven to prevent and eradicate infectious diseases. We are told that vaccines are safe and effective, and that "herd immunity" can be achieved if a high percentage of a population is vaccinated. However, does the science support these claims and what are the untold consequences?
The nutrients L-carnitine and choline are two of the most important for heart and liver health. Large bodies of literature support the benefits of these compounds and that of related items, such as phosphatidylcholine. Despite this history, recently news media articles have appeared suggesting that these nutrients actually cause heart disease. Similarly, in the medical professional research literature, there is a groundswell of publications that attempt to associate L-carnitine and choline with cardiovascular disease through entirely indirect arguments involving primarily the compound trimethylamine-N-oxide.
In a nutshell, these publications cast aside direct clinical evidence that supplementing with L-carnitine and choline improves heart and liver health by focusing, instead, on marker compounds in the blood and correlations between these and illness without establishing causation. The presence of a biochemical marker is used to overturn clinical evidence such that compounds proven in practice to be good for health suddenly are associated with disease. As argued in the following paragraphs, this guilt by association does not withstand close scrutiny.
L-Carnitine and Choline
Although the L-carnitine is usually referred to as an amino acid, this is technically incorrect inasmuch as there is no amino (NH2) group present in the molecule. The primary role of L-carnitine in the body is as a biocatalyst or coenzyme. One of the most important functions of L-carnitine is in the oxidation of long chain fatty acids, a process which takes place inside of mitochondria, the “energy factories” of the cells. This process is known as beta-oxidation. L-Carnitine acts as a shuttle for bringing fatty acids into the mitochondria and then removing waste afterwards. Fats are the preferred source of fuel for the kidneys, the skeletal muscles, and even more so for the heart muscle. As much as 70 percent of the energy generated in muscle tissue comes from the oxidation of fats!
L-Carnitine also increases the rate of oxidation of fats in the liver, and this suggests that it plays a role in energy generation from this angle as well.1 Some authors argue that in the proper amounts, L-carnitine supplementation during dieting can help to control the negative effects of ketosis (the accumulation of waste products of fat metabolism) in those who are susceptible to this problem.2 Similarly, there is evidence that some forms of obesity may be related to a genetic propensity to produce less L-carnitine, and liver and kidney problems will reduce the body’s production since some four fifth’s of our total L-carnitine is produced internally by these organs.3,4
L-Carnitine has been shown to have positive benefits upon the myocardium of the heart and upon peripheral circulation. The effects upon the heart include improvements in energy production and other parameters. Supplemental L-carnitine is associated with significantly higher concentrations of pyruvate, ATP and creatine phosphate in portions of the heart muscle during conditions of extreme stress.5 Similarly, in tests upon peripheral circulation, L-carnitine has been found to be quite useful for improving blood flow.6 Of course, the true test of the benefits of L-carnitine is survival: In a randomized controlled trial, there was a 90 percent decrease in mortality over the next 12 months compared with people who did not receive L-carnitine when patients started supplementing shortly after suffering a heart attack.7 Another study analyzing 13 controlled trials (involving a variety of settings) found that L-carnitine led to a 27 percent reduction in all-cause mortality.8 Choline, phosphatidylcholine and related compounds are especially protective of liver health, including in both nonalcoholic and alcoholic fatty liver disease.9,10 Liver dysfunction is extremely common in those who carry excessive weight and is viewed as causative in diabetes type 2. L-Carnitine and choline reduce overall oxidative stress in individuals and lower lipid peroxidation, recognized factors in promoting cardiovascular and liver health.11
L-Carnitine Slows Plaque Formation in Arteries Despite TMAO
A paper published in the journal Atherosclerosis (2016) reconfirms some of the health benefits of L-carnitine and, by implication, those of choline, phosphatidylcholine and related nutrients. In a nutshell, researchers fed supplemental L-carnitine to mice for 12 weeks and then observed aortic lesion development and blood lipid profiles. These scientists wanted to test the truth of a vast body of older science that demonstrated the cardioprotective properties of L-carnitine versus new theories that gut microbes transform L-carnitine into trimethylamine (TMA) that the liver further transforms into trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) that promotes atherosclerosis. The researchers found that L-carnitine supplementation slows aortic lesion formation in their mouse model. L-Carnitine was heart protective just as indicated in previous research based on examining clinical results rather than looking only at short term markers purported to indicate future results (endpoints versus markers). Moreover, TMAO, the supposedly toxic metabolite of L-carnitine, actually appeared to protect the arteries. One implication of this study is that L-carnitine, including its metabolite TMAO, may be similarly protective against atherosclerosis development in humans.
The current study was designed to test the hypothesis of an article published in Nature Medicine (2013) that suggested that the nutrient L-carnitine, found in red meat and nutritional supplements, promotes atherosclerosis as a result of bacteria in the gut forming a toxin called trimethylamine (TMA), which is further metabolized in the liver to trimethylamine-Noxide (TMAO).13 Two follow-up articles by many of the same Nature Medicine authors argue that gut bacteria similarly transform dietary betaine, choline and phosphatidylcholine (and presumably other choline-related nutrients) to yield TMA followed by TMAO with negative cardiovascular consequences. Since the initial publications, there has been a flood of research putatively supporting the original findings. Inasmuch as TMAO plasma levels have been associated with atherosclerosis development in the particular mouse model used in the initial research, the goal was to better understand the mechanisms behind the TMAO/CVD association. The Atherosclerosis (2016) research was designed to investigate both in vitro (isolated cell or tissue) mechanisms—does TMAO promote foam cells formation—and in vivo (live animal) endpoints—does TMAO promote or inhibit lesion development in the arteries.
The in vitro part of the study demonstrated that TMAO at concentrations up to ten times the maximum reported in humans did not affect foam cell formation. In other words, there was no indication that a mechanism exists through which TMAO causes damage to the lining of the arteries. However, there still were outstanding issues, such as why TMAO was both elevated in the usual mouse model and linked to increased levels of atherosclerosis.
The in vivo part of the study provides important answers to these issues. First, it must be understood that rodents in general process lipids, including cholesterol, differently than do humans. For instance, the usual mouse model for atherosclerosis lacks cholesteryl ester transfer protein (hCETP), which in humans is involved in the movement of cholesterol between high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). Using a model that more properly matches human lipid metabolism, high doses of L-carnitine resulted in a significant increase in plasma TMAO levels, yet—and regardless of treatment—TMAO levels were inversely correlated with aortic lesion size. Indeed, as the blood levels of TMAO went up, the size of the aortic lesion area went down and this bore no relation to changes in blood lipids. One clear implication of these findings is just the opposite of that commonly being suggested regarding TMAO, to wit, TMAO is protective of arterial health rather than being a toxin.
So What Goes Wrong in Humans to Elevate TMAO?
There is little doubt that ingestion of L-carnitine, betaine, choline and related nutrients can increase TMAO levels in many individuals and that increased TMAO also can be associated in many cases with increased cardiovascular disease. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that TMAO is not a cause of atherosclerosis.
Study after study after study that has looked at clinical endpoints, meaning the actual outcomes of the use of L-carnitine with human beings, has shown significant benefits across a wide array of heart and circulatory issues.14 Benefits are found with choline, phosphatidylcholine and related nutrients along with eating oily fish, a practice that necessarily dramatically increases TMAO, yet supports good health.
This is a classic case of blaming a messenger for the message. Just as with TMAO, elevated blood levels of choline sometimes are seen in patients with artery plaque instability, but this is a result of the instability itself and is unrelated to supplements just as an analogously disturbed L-carnitine regulation arguably is a result of cardiovascular problems and not due to dietary intake.15,16 In a clinical trial, oral L-carnitine supplementation increased trimethylamine-N-oxide, but reduced indications of vascular injury in hemodialysis patients.17 Elevated TMAO blood levels are associated with low HDL and related disturbances just as elevated TMAO levels appear to be linked to impaired kidney function and poor metabolic control.18,19 The clear implication is that TMAO levels may reveal problems that originate elsewhere in the body and that artificially lowering TMAO blood levels will not improve health because TMAO is not the cause of these issues. The key concept here is to look at "endpoints," not "markers."
Meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products are the richest food sources of L-carnitine, although L-carnitine intake probably is increased best via supplements. This route is not so necessary for betaine, choline and a number of related nutrients. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the consumption of choline is far below the recommended intake in the United States. Rich sources of choline include eggs, liver, wheat germ, many types of seafood and even peanuts. According to Whole Foods, vegetable options include collard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, Swiss chard, cauliflower, and asparagus. A large listing of food sources can be found at http://nutritiondata.self.com/. Many choline sources also are good sources of phosphatidylcholine (liver, egg yolk, peanuts). Choline's metabolite betaine can be found in spinach, beets and shellfish.
- Preuss HG, Mrvichin N, Clouatre D, et al. Importance of Fasting Blood Glucose in Screening/Tracking Overall Health. The Original Internist. 2016, March:13¡V15,17¡V18.
- Bjornholt JV, Erikssen G, Aaser E, et al. Fasting blood glucose: an underestimated risk factor for cardiovascular death. Results from a 22-year follow-up of healthy nondiabetic men. Diabetes Care. 1999 Jan;22(1):45¡V9.
- Sears B. Anti-inflammatory Diets. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34 Suppl 1:14¡V21.
- Mauro DiPasquale, M.D., "Let the Fat be with You: The Ultimate High-Fat Diet," Muscle Magazine International (July and September 1992); "High Fat, High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Diet: Part I," Drugs in Sports 1, 4 (December 1992) 8¡V9.
- Ishihara K, Oyaizu S, Onuki K, Lim K, Fushiki T. Chronic (-)-hydroxycitrate administration spares carbohydrate utilization and promotes lipid oxidation during exercise in mice. J Nutr. 2000 Dec;130(12):2990¡V5.
- Lim K, Ryu S, Suh H, Ishihara K, Fushiki T. (-)-Hydroxycitrate ingestion and endurance exercise performance. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2005 Feb;51(1):1¡V7.
- Cheng IS, Huang SW, Lu HC, Wu CL, Chu YC, Lee SD, Huang CY, Kuo CH. Oral hydroxycitrate supplementation enhances glycogen synthesis in exercised human skeletal muscle. Br J Nutr. 2012 Apr;107(7):1048¡V55.
- Louter-van de Haar J, Wielinga PY, Scheurink AJ, Nieuwenhuizen AG. Comparison of the effects of three different (¡V)-hydroxycitric acid preparations on food intake in rats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2005 Sep 13;2(1):23. See also notes 18 and 19.
- Clouatre D, Talpur N, Talpur F, Echard B, Preuss H. Comparing metabolic and inflammatory parameters among rats consuming different forms of hydroxycitrate. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2005;24:429 Abstract.
- Clouatre D, Preuss HG. Potassium Magnesium Hydroxycitrate at Physiologic Levels Influences Various Metabolic Parameters and Inflammation in Rats. Current Topics in Nutraceutical Research 2008;6(4): 201¡V10.
- Han N, Li L, Peng M, Ma H. (-)-Hydroxycitric Acid Nourishes Protein Synthesis via Altering Metabolic Directions of Amino Acids in Male Rats. Phytother Res. 2016 May 4. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5630. [Epub ahead of print]
- Lim JS, Adachi Y, Takahashi Y, Ide T. Comparative analysis of sesame lignans (sesamin and sesamolin) in affecting hepatic fatty acid metabolism in rats. Br J Nutr. 2007 Jan;97(1):85¡V95.
- Ide T, Lim JS, Odbayar TO, Nakashima Y. Comparative study of sesame lignans (sesamin, episesamin and sesamolin) affecting gene expression profile and fatty acid oxidation in rat liver. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2009 Feb;55(1):31¡V43.
- Henry-Vitrac C, Ibarra A, Roller M, Merillon JM, Vitrac X. Contribution of chlorogenic acids to the inhibition of human hepatic glucose-6-phosphatase activity in vitro by Svetol, a standardized decaffeinated green coffee extract. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 14;58(7):4141¡V4.
- Bassoli BK, Cassolla P, Borba-Murad GR, et al. Chlorogenic acid reduces the plasma glucose peak in the oral glucose tolerance test: effects on hepatic glucose release and glycaemia. Cell Biochem Funct. 2008 Apr;26(3):320 ¡V8.
- Malmsten C, Lignell A. Dietary Supplementation with Astaxanthin- Rich Algal Meal Improves Strength Endurance; A Double Blind Placebo Controlled Study on Male Students. Carotenoid Science. 2008;13:20 ¡V22.
- Aoi W, Naito Y, Takanami Y, Ishii T, Kawai Y, Akagiri S, Kato Y, Osawa T, Yoshikawa T. Astaxanthin improves muscle lipid metabolism in exercise via inhibitory effect of oxidative CPT I modification. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Feb 22;366(4):892¡V7.
Many of you have experienced the sticker shock filling a prescription, especially if you don't have prescription insurance. Unlike the cost of most goods and services in a free market economy, which are kept in check by competition and other free market forces, the cost of medications has been skyrocketing because of the lack of these controls. So where most goods will cost twice the wholesale cost and four times the cost of production, medications often cost 64,000 percent more than the cost of production!
Meanwhile, the cost of the exact same pill can vary by over 1000 percent from one drugstore to another. In addition, the cost to somebody without health insurance is often five to ten times as high as what the insurance company needs to pay, as they have been able to negotiate down the drug prices. So if you don't have insurance, and even if you do, you may walk out of the drugstore feeling, well, financially wiped. Unless you know these tricks!
- Compare prices at different pharmacies before you buy. For example the medication Ambien, which is often needed to help sleep in people with CFS and fibromyalgia, costs about $4 for each 10 mg tablet. So if you need 90 tablets and your insurance company won't pay for it, it will cost you about $360. So say you decide to get the generic instead. For the exact same tablet, the price will vary from nine cents per pill at Costco, to over $3 a pill at many other pharmacies. This is the case for many medications. So with a simple phone call, you can end up paying $8 for the three months of Ambien instead of $270.
In general, you'll find the best prices at Costco, with Walmart having a number of common medications that they price very low, while they charge very high amounts for others. So call and ask. Another helpful tip? You don't have to be a Costco member to use the pharmacy. When they ask for your Costco card at the entrance, simply tell them you're going to the pharmacy, and they will waive you right in.
- A wonderful tool? Get a free app called GoodRx or go to www.goodRx.com. Type in the medication name, strength, and quantity, and they will give you the negotiated price they have obtained for the pharmacies near you. Very often, I have found this to be over 90 percent less than what you would pay otherwise. And it will save you a bunch of phone calls. This app/website is outstanding.
- An important thing to know? For most medications, including compounded medications, you pay by the pill, not by the pill strength. So as an example, for the medication Viagra, it will cost over $50 a pill for a 100 mg tablet. It will cost almost exactly the same amount for a 25 mg or 50 mg tablet. So if you're getting 50 mg tablets, you can save 50 percent by simply getting 100 mg tablets and cutting them in half. This is the case for almost all medications. So a simple $7 pill cutter can save you thousands of dollars.
- In the vast majority of cases, the generic medication is exactly the same as the expensive brand-name. When I get medications, I will get the generic. Some people will find though, that the brand name will work better. A simple approach? Simply get the first month worth of the medication as the brand name, and then get the generic for refills. This way, in the rare event that they are not working the same for you, you will know.
- Medication patents are supposed to expire after 20 years, at which time the medication can go generic. But some medications are so profitable that the drug companies will either pay the generic companies not to make a generic, or will file expensive legal action against companies that try to make a generic. For example, the medication Viagra is over 20 years old, but still not available in generic. But here is the secret. Although not available in generic for erectile dysfunction, it is available as a 20 mg generic for pulmonary hypertension. So ask your doctor to write for Sildenafil 20 mg instead of Viagra. These will cost 60 cents a pill using the GoodRx App or website. So even if you need five of them to get the 100 mg dose, this will cost you $3 instead of $50!
- For many medications, market manipulations going on in the pharmaceutical industry has resulted in even the generics costing way more than they should relative to the cost of producing the pill. For some medications, here is another trick. See if your compounding pharmacy is able to make that medication and what it would cost them to make it.
So where fluconazole (Diflucan) 200 mg used to cost about $30 for 50 tablets, it now costs over $300 at most pharmacies, even for the generic. Using the GoodRx app will bring it down to $103. But if a compounding pharmacy makes it, you can often get it for under $30. The hack? The doctor has to order some difference in how it's made that sets it apart from what you can find in the drugstore for them to legally be able to make it. So your doctor can order a 210 mg tablet, or have a capsule made with low allergen components.
For example, when you heard all over the news about the one pharmaceutical company trying to gouge the public by charging obscene prices for an old antiparasitic, what you didn't hear about was that compounding pharmacies were making the same pill for less than a dollar each. Where 50 mg a day of testosterone cream can cost over $500 a month, compounding pharmacies can make it for $15–$30 a month. Simple!
- Often the best option is to work with a holistic practitioner to find natural alternatives, which are commonly more effective, generally much lower cost, and almost always much safer.
- As you feel better, remember to ask the doctor if you can lower the dose or stop the medication. Doctors are often too busy to think about this unless you remind them.
With these life hacks, you can slash your medication costs!
Flowers are blooming, farmer's markets are packed with seasonal produce, and the sun is shining. Thanks to Mother Nature at this time of year, you're also able to pack more activity into your days with ease due to extended sunlight hours. This is the perfect time of year for us to unwind and destress from a long hard winter and shortened spring!
The fiery element that powers this bright time of year sets a tone of energy, vitality and growth. Summer simply is time to thrive—and this active season also lends itself well to detox both physically and emotionally. To bolster the most benefits, you must focus your attention on your heart and your small intestine, two organs that really shine during the summer months.
The Heart's Connection To Detox
You may not think of your heart as a detox organ, but it actually plays a very signification role in this process. Your heart works in tandem with your liver, pumping vital nutrients throughout your entire body. With each beat, it completes the critical job of regulating your circulation, allowing the detoxification process to receive these necessary nutrients. Highly active in the summer, this four-chambered muscle—the strongest muscle in your body—provides the energy and messages needed to coordinate your organs to work in harmony.
To dive deeper into the process, about 3,000 gallons of blood is pumped to your lungs each day where the blood then absorbs oxygen. After returning to the heart, it's pumped throughout the body, allowing it to disperse oxygen and vital nutrients. Incredibly, your heart can keep going seemingly endlessly so long as it has the oxygen it needs. However, if your lungs are impaired and/or your liver is overly stressed, problems with this system surface. In fact, if your liver isn't functioning properly, the blood supply—up to 70 percent of it—can become blocked and thwart the circulation and oxygen fueling process.
I'd guess it comes as no surprise that smoking and an artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising diet are both quite detrimental to the heart. Another negative factor that's all too common these days is stress. Every time you become tense, the rate and rhythm of your heart are affected, which disturbs the blood and oxygen flow, causing the blood vessels in your wrists and ankles to become constricted. One way you might be able to identify that this is occurring is that your hands and feet feel unnecessarily cold. In time, a lowered supply of oxygen to your heart can produce secondary symptoms that include angina, heart palpitations, irregular beats—and even potentially a heart attack.
The Breakdown On Homocysteine
Escalated levels of the potentially toxic amino acid called homocysteine can also make you a likely candidate for cardiovascular disease by damaging blood vessels and contributing to plaque buildup. Having a higher-than-normal amount of homocysteine in your body can actually become so dangerous that studies have found it can equal the danger to your heart that smoking and high cholesterol causes.
Homocysteine is the metabolic byproduct of a methionine breakdown, an amino acid found in animal protein. In ideal functioning, homocysteine passes through a detoxification process known as methylation, where it is converted to the nontoxic amino acid cysteine. But this process can only operate properly if vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid are readily available. Having low amounts of these critical B vitamins (particularly B12, which is mandatory for the conversion process and the production of folic acid), consuming an overabundance of animal protein (meat, dairy, eggs), and drinking a lot of coffee all can aggravate normal functions and cause homocysteine levels to climb. The result may be frustrating forgetfulness, cloudy thinking, and other Alzheimer's-like symptoms frequently associated with the aging process—regardless of your age. For those with the MTHFR genetic variation, do make sure your B12 and folate are methylated.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, when the "fire" of your heart becomes out of balance due to impaired kidneys— which are a water element—being unable to keep the heart cool, it produces hot flashes, night sweats, and palpitations. You also begin to experience emotions such as feeling uneasy, irritable and restless, and may also experience insomnia and even upsetting nightmares. You might notice that your cheeks are flushed, the tip of your nose is noticeably red and/or any other areas of your skin seem to have a redder pigmentation than usual. Your tongue can also be a gateway into the health of your heart. Analyze the color and texture, keeping in mind that a pink, moist tongue is ideal. Paleness could indicate anemia and if your tongue appears to be coated, that might be a red flag for digestive issues.
Digestion And Detox
The vital nutrients that the detoxification process so heavily depend on are made readily available to your body through your 23-foot long small intestine, which links your stomach to your large intestine. With help from enzymes in the pancreas and bile from the liver and gallbladder, the small intestine pulls useful elements—such as glucose, fatty acids, and the muchneed amino acids—from the food you eat. It then digests and absorbs nutrients and ships them off to the bloodstream, where they are carried to the liver. They're then either used or stored in the form of glycogen, which reverts to the original substances (glucose, fatty acids, or amino acids) as needed to nourish the whole system.
Keeping the small intestine clear is vital for the overall health of the body. If your intestinal lining becomes coated with mucus, nutrient absorption is greatly diminished, and your immune system suffers, resulting in increased likelihood of food allergies and illnesses, as well as fatigue from the rise of white blood cell production. Having an impaired digestive tract causes the loss of essential building blocks, resulting in dull, brittle hair, skin and nails, indigestion, uncomfortable bloating, excess gas, stomach pain, and constipation.
In fact, your small intestines are the critical stop for digestion and overall good health. To function optimally, your digestive system needs pancreatic enzymes, the enzyme ptyalin—found in saliva—and hydrochloric acid (HCL)—produced in the stomach. HCL plays a critical role in the process and could even be considered one of the most important chemicals in the body. When it's missing, protein can't be broken down properly into amino acids, hindering the maintenance and building of muscles. These non-metabolized proteins begin to decay and enter the bloodstream, resulting in toxic waste making its way through your system, and stress being placed on your lungs, kidneys, skin and bowels. Also, when HCL production is low, the opening to your small intestine doesn't function normally, causing lowered levels of bile and your bowel to slow, resulting in constipation. From there, a domino effect occurs, causing harm to the optimum operation of your pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.
Keep Your Levels Up
So, what causes HCL levels to plummet? The two most likely contenders are stress and a poor diet which lead to deficits of iodine, salt, and zinc—the mineral precursors of HCL. Plus, if you're upset, highly stressed or continually on the go, or you tend to drink liquids with your meals, frequently drink carbonated beverages (including mineral waters) and eat your meals in a rush, you may be causing reduced levels of HCL in your body.
As you can see, these two summer-loving organs are directly connected to the detoxification process and overall functioning of your body. To love these organs, take time to slow down and enjoy the season, being conscious to mindfully reduce your stress levels and not over-schedule yourself. And, as always, nourish yourself with a diet that's full of grass-fed, lean protein or clean vegan protein, organic fruits and veggies, heart-smart fats like olive oil and macadamia nuts, and say "no" to processed and/or fried foods.
Happy, healthy summer!
Celiac disease is one of the most common chronic genetic autoimmune disorders in the world and can affect children and adults. Individuals with this disorder have permanent intolerance to gluten, which is a protein in wheat, rye, barley and related grains. The gluten leads to damage of the small intestine lining. Heredity plays a role in the onset of the condition with symptoms occurring through an autoimmune function.
According to the National Institute of Health, in the United States, celiac disease affects an estimated two million individuals, or one in 133 people and occurs twice as often in females. The only treatment is a gluten-free diet. This disorder can start at any age when the diet first includes gluten.
With celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine that eventually leads to inflammation and damage of the small intestine's lining. With this damage, food is not absorbed properly, called malabsorption. With malabsorption, vital nutrients cannot be delivered to the brain, nervous system, bone, liver and other organs.
- Due to malabsorption, children with celiac disease can experience growth and developmental problems. There is no cure for celiac disease. Following a strict gluten-free diet helps management of symptoms. The common symptoms associated with celiac disease include the following, however, some people may have no symptoms.
- Abdominal pain (especially after eating)
- Weight loss
- Dental defects
Oral Manifestation of Celiac Disease
Celiac disease has particular signs that show up orally, and dentists can have an initial important role in recognizing and identifying it in people who may not know they have the disorder. It's estimated 90 percent of individuals in North America remain undiagnosed. Early referral to a gastroenterologist and treatment can help prevent complications of this gluten intolerance condition.
If celiac disease appears before age seven, the outer surface of the teeth (enamel) can have an abnormal appearance. The permanent teeth will show the following defects:
- Delayed eruption of teeth
- Cream, yellow or brown spots on the surface
- Rough surface with grooves and shallow pits
- Shape of tooth may be dramatically changed
These same oral symptoms can be caused by other dental conditions. In fact, dentists may diagnose the abnormal appearance of colored spots enamel to a condition caused by too much fluoride or that the mother took the antibiotic tetracycline during pregnancy.
Other oral related conditions of celiac disease include:
- Recurring mouth ulcers (canker sores also known as aphthous ulcers)
- Dry mouth
- Red, smooth, shiny tongue (atrophic glossitis)
- Squamous cell carcinoma (cancer of the pharynx and mouth)
Treatment of Oral Manifestations of Celiac Disease
Unfortunately, tooth defects that result from celiac disease are permanent and don't improve with a gluten-free diet. However, there are treatments that your dentist can provide to help improve esthetics. These include:
- Tooth bonding to improve slight defects
- Veneers to improve the whole front surface of the tooth
- Crowns for teeth that are damaged throughout
Veneers and crowns are cosmetic solutions for older children and adults, while tooth bonding can also help with children's teeth.
For dry mouth, avoid toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulfate. This harsh detergent can dry the tissues and exacerbate mouth sores. Mouthwash with alcohol also tends to worsen dry mouth.
For canker sores, it's reported taking 500 mg of the amino acid L Lysine helps to reduce the occurrence and hasten healing.
Proper oral hygiene is crucial towards maintaining oral health, especially if you notice dry mouth. Harmful bacteria thrive in a dry oral environment. To keep the bacteria from causing gum disease, practice proper oral hygiene on a daily bases. Of course, regular dental check ups are important to detect early potential problems.
It wasn’t so long ago that cocoa and chocolate were considered unhealthy. In fact, back in the late 70s and early 80s carob was being touted as a chocolate substitute—albeit a very sad and far less delicious excuse for a substitute. Since then, study after study has been published extolling the health-promoting properties of cocoa and chocolate. Of course chocolate bars also contain sugars, fats and other dietary components whose intake we’re trying to limit, but the cocoa itself still offers several healthy benefits such as its effects on energy, digestion, cardiovascular health, lung health, antioxidant protection and mood.
People have often noticed that they feel more energetic after consuming cocoa or chocolate, and tend to attribute this to the sugar and calories, but there is more to the story. It turns out that cocoa contains a methylxanthine (the family of compounds to which caffeine belongs) known as theobromine (3.7 percent on a fat-free basis).1 This is significant since theobromine tends to have a mild stimulatory effect.2 In fact, a study3 examined the effects of a chocolate bar, an apple or nothing in 37 healthy, normal-weight women who ate these foods and rated their subjective state 5, 30, 60 and 90 min after eating. Both chocolate and the apple reduced hunger, elevated mood and increased activation, but the effects of the chocolate were greater. The increased activity (induced by the stimulating ingredients of cocoa) was statistically significant (p<0.002).3
The friendly bacteria in our gut play a role in the digestion of foodstuffs. Research4 suggests that cocoa has beneficial effects on the metabolism of our friendly bacteria. Furthermore, research5 also shows that compounds in cocoa can actually help promote the growth of friendly bacteria. In addition, a historical review6 of the medicinal uses of chocolate indicated that it was used to improve digestion and elimination, where cocoa/chocolate was said to counter the effects of stagnant or weak stomachs, stimulate kidney and improve bowel function. Not surprisingly, human research has shown that salivation was triggered after tasting a very small amount of chocolate.7 This effect has benefits for digestion since saliva contains the enzyme ptyalin amylase that breaks down starch into sugar. Salivary glands also secrete salivary lipase (a more potent form of lipase) to start fat digestion.
An 18 week, randomized, controlled, investigator-blinded, parallel study8 examined the effect of 30 mg of polyphenols/ day from dark chocolate or the same amount of white chocolate without polyphenols in 44 adults with untreated prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension. The results were that the group eating the polyphenols from dark chocolate experienced decreased systolic blood pressure by 2.9 points and diastolic blood pressure by 1.9 points. Hypertension prevalence also declined from 86 to 68 percent. Since cocoa powder provides an average of 40.20 mg polyphenols/ gram9, relatively small amounts of cocoa would be needed to offer a similar benefit. Other research10 has also shown that healthy elderly men who consumed a median intake of 2.11 grams cocoa daily had a statistically significant (P=0.03) lower average blood pressure compared to those consuming lower amounts. They also have a lower risk of cardiovascular (P=0.004) and all-cause mortality (P=0.001).
A historical review11 of the medicinal uses of chocolate recounts 17th and 18th century writers’ discussions on the use of chocolate, including statements such as, "...it cures consumption, and the cough of the lungs," and "has an effect equally... to suspend the violent cause of rheumatoids and inflammation of the lungs, and to dull the irritation and ferocity which incites cough [and] to put out the inflammations of the throat and lungs [pleure]," and "[an] easer of pain, it is excellent, taken inwardly, to cure hoarseness, and to blunt the sharpness of the salts that irritate the lungs..." A more recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, human study12 suggests a mechanism by which chocolate may have offered its beneficial effects. The study indicated that theobromine (the compound found in chocolate as discussed earlier) was found to suppress capsaicin-induced cough with no adverse effects. The study also demonstrated that theobromine directly inhibits a sensory suggestive of an inhibitory effect on afferent nerve activation. The authors concluded that theobromine is a novel and promising treatment that may form the basis for a new class of antitussive drugs.
Research13 has shown that cocoa has potent antioxidant capacity as compared with other products. This can be quantified by a method of measuring antioxidant capacities of various foods: Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). According to the USDA,14 100 grams of unsweetened cocoa powder has a total ORAC value of 55,653. Furthermore, a double-blind, randomized study15 reported that markers of antioxidant status increased after dark chocolate consumption, and a reduction of serum oxidative stress was seen.
An interesting study16 reviewed research suggesting a regulatory effect of cocoa on the immune cells implicated in innate and acquired immunity. Cocoa exerts regulatory activity on the secretion of inflammatory mediators. In addition, emerging data from animal studies support an immunomodulating effect. Long-term cocoa intake in rats affects both intestinal and systemic immune function. Other research17 has shown that cocoa extract down-modulated T lymphocyte activation and therefore the acquired immune response, suggesting that it could be important in some states of the immune system hyperactivity such as autoimmune or chronic inflammatory diseases.
A British journal18 reported on a study examining chocolate craving in people who were depressed. Nearly 3000 clinically depressed individuals completed a web-based questionnaire, the results of which revealed that chocolate was craved by half of the respondents (more so by women), judged as beneficial for depression, anxiety and irritability, and associated specifically with personality facets encompassed by the higher-order construct of neuroticism. Another study19 argued that the food with the greatest impact on mood is chocolate. Those who crave chocolate tend to do so when they feel emotionally low. There have been a series of suggestions that chocolate’s mood-elevating properties reflect ‘drug-like’ constituents including anandamines, caffeine, phenylethylamine and magnesium. However, the levels of these substances are so low as to preclude such influences. As all palatable foods stimulate endorphin release in the brain this is the most likely mechanism to account for the elevation of mood.
Cocoa offers a range of potential health benefits. Not only that, but it tastes good! The consumption of some cocoa daily may make sense—but try to avoid excessive sugar intake when doing so. The use of sweeteners such as stevia would be a good alternative.
- Belščak A, Komes D, Horžić D, et al. Comparative study of commercially available cocoa products in terms of their bioactive composition. Food Research International 2009;42(5-6): 707.16.
- Dewick PM. Medicinal Natural Products: A Biosynthetic Approach. 3rd ed. West Sussex, UK: Wiley; 2009:414.
- Macht M, Dettmer D. Everyday mood and emotions after eating a chocolate bar or an apple. Appetite 2006;46(3):332.6.
- Makivuokko H, Kettunen H, Saarinen M, et al. The effect of cocoa and polydextrose on bacterial fermentation in gastrointestinal tract simulations. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 2007;71(8):1834.43.
- Tzounis X, Rodriguez-Mateos A, Vulevic J, Gibson GR, Kwik-Uribe C, Spencer JP. Prebiotic evaluation of cocoa-derived flavanols in healthy humans by using a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jan;93(1):62.72.
- Dillinger TL, Barriga P, Escarcega S, Jimenez M, Salazar Lowe D, Grivetti LE. Food of the gods: cure for humanity? A cultural history of the medicinal and ritual use of chocolate. J Nutr 2000;130(8S Suppl):2057S.72S.
- Lappalainen R, Sjödén PO, Karhunen L, Gladh V, Lesinska D. Inhibition of anticipatory salivation and craving in response to food stimuli. Physiol Behav 1994;56(2):393.8.
- Taubert D, Roesen R, Lehmann C, et al. Effects of low habitual cocoa intake on blood pressure and bioactive nitric oxide: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2007;298:49.60.
- Natsume M, Osakabe N, Yamagishi M, et al. Analysises of Polypehones in Cacao Liquor, Cocoa, and Chocolate by Normal-Phase and Reversed-Phase HPLC. Biosci Botechnol Biochem 2000;64(12):2581.7.
- Buijsse B, Feskens EJ, Kok FJ, Kromhout D. Cocoa intake, blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Arch Intern Med 2006;166:411.7.
- Usmani OS, Belvisi MG, Patel HJ, et al. Theobromine inhibits sensory nerve activation and cough. FASEB J 2005;19(2):231-3.
- Ramiro-Puig E, Castell M. Cocoa: antioxidant and immunomodulator. Br J Nutr 2009;101(7):931. 40.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2. Beltsville, MD: Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center; May 2010:39.
- Flammer AJ, Hermann F, Sudano I, et al. Dark chocolate improves coronary vasomotion and reduces platelet reactivity. Circulation 2007;116(21):2376.82.
- Ramiro E, Franch A, Castellote A, et al. Effect of Theobroma cacao flavonoids on immune activation of a lymphoid cell line. British Journal of Nutrition 2005; 93:859.66.
- Parker G, Crawford J. Chocolate craving when depressed: a personality marker. Br J Psychiatry 2007;191:351.2.
- Benton D, Donohoe RT. The effects of nutrients on mood. Public Health Nutrition: 2(3a), 403.9.
You may have heard that 'going organic' is a healthy choice for the farmers, the environment, and your own health. But do you really understand why it's such a positive choice? This article series explores the benefits of choosing organic.
Reason: The Critics Lack Understanding
There is more than one side to every debate, and the world of organics is not exempt. There are those who believe through and through that organics is the way forward for a healthy and sustainable future. On the other end of the continuum, there are critics who strongly believe that organic farming is not the answer for sustainability, and that choosing organic will have little impact on a person's health. Then of course there are those in the middle who aren't strongly pulled either way.
In a recent debate on social media, I was surprised at how many people were convinced that organics is not sustainable, and that it is even harmful to the environment. After much trawling through comments and eliminating one or two 'bogus' social media profiles, it became evident that many of these organic farming critics have a lack of understanding around what organic means, and the principles behind it.
Let's address some of the common statements that were made:
"Only about 30 percent of organic food is actually even
First of all, I'm not sure where this person derived the number of 30 percent from. However, what they may be referring to is that there are foods which have the word 'organic' in their name, but are not actually certified. This is likely where the notion that 'organic food is not actually organic' has come from. A food producer may genuinely believe their product is organic and that the ingredients in it have been organically grown. Or they may have just used the word because they can (marketing purposes). However, the best way to ensure that what you are eating really is organic, is by choosing products that are certified. If you choose certified organic, you can rest assured that the product has met strict organic criteria and standards.
"Organic pesticides are worse for the environment."
This statement shows a lack of understanding of organic principles. Organic systems use principles such as manure to feed the soil, crop rotation, ecology and biodiversity, and companion planting to grow strong, healthy crops. Organic farmers understand these principles and follow them so that there is little need for pesticides. Many organic farmers will choose to remove weeds manually rather than apply a natural pesticide. Yes, there are pesticides that are allowed to be used in organic farming but they are naturally derived and are biodegradable. If they are used, the focus is on control, rather than annihilation of pests because organic farmers understand the importance of a fully functioning eco system.
This statement prompted me into an email discussion with Philippa Jamieson, editor of Organic NZ. Philippa explains,"Organic growers are allowed under certification rules to use a certain quantity of copper sprays in orchards for fungal disease, but it's limited. Copper is a heavy metal and can build up in the soil. Apart from that I haven't heard of any organic pesticide that anyone in the organic sector (or outside of it) has expressed any concern about whatsoever!"
"The organic system is un-regulated."
I suspect that the worry here is similar to the concern behind the first statement ("Only about 30 percent of organic food is actually even organic"). The problem here may be more related to the consumers' perception that something is organic, by the way it is marketed. Remember to choose certified organic so you can rest assured that the product you are choosing has been regulated.
I am far more concerned about the regulation of nonorganic pesticides because so many harmful pesticides have been regulated for use (e.g. pesticides which contain the active ingredient Glyphosate).
"Organic farming is not sustainable."
The argument here is that yields from organic farming are lower so we need more land to get the same amount and balance of food and would have to destroy forest to do so. To respond to the critics on this one: We could go organic if we all ate less meat and more vegetables, pulses and grains as it takes far less land to produce these foods than it does for meat. A surplus of food and environmental problems exist with the traditional system.
Additionally, studies are now noting comparable yields in organic farming—the gap is closing.1,2
The following articles provide further information and links to resources that highlight organics as part of the solution for a healthy and sustainable future.3,4
Not a month goes by without headlines in the media proclaiming either that vitamins do amazing things or that they do nothing at all. Such concerns no longer are limited to those whose jobs are to raise such issues. Individuals purchasing health foods and related products increasingly are asking questions about the cost and effectiveness of supplements. Likewise, governmental watchdog agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), expect that the manufacturers and marketers of nutrients and herbs be able to back up claims with sound research. Total Health Magazine Online took an in-depth look at some of the issues back in 2011, for which see “Are Vitamin Supplements Safe?”
Unfortunately, responses to these demands for better backing for claims often are less than satisfactory. Marketing-driven science is as common as is science-driven marketing. Distinguishing between the two requires familiarity with the standards that universities and research institutions have adopted to evaluate medical evidence. This means knowing about the types of studies available and about the elements found in every properly designed study.
There are three basic types of clinical investigations: case-control studies, cohort studies and randomized controlled trials. For most nutritional supplements, the last of these is the primary form of investigation. However, for completeness, a few words should be spared to describe the other two. Case-control studies start with individuals who have already developed a disease or special condition and the controls are matched individuals who do not have the disease in question. An example is an analysis of heart disease rates in male smokers versus rates in otherwise similar males who have never smoked. This is an observational study because there is no intervention by the researchers. The strength of this study type is that it allows researchers to explore how variables influence the development of the condition being examined. The major drawback is that the study can easily be biased with regard to observations and other factors.
Cohort studies differ from case-control studies in that researchers start with individuals who have not yet developed the disease or condition being investigated. Hence, a cohort study on athletic supplements might start with two groups of similar athletes before one group begins supplement use. The analysis would consist of determining whether the group taking the supplement improved as measured by some marker for performance or perhaps had fewer injuries. This is an observational study because there is no intervention by the researchers. Cohort studies have the virtue of allowing investigators to more reliably establish whether a particular action (taking a supplement) leads to a particular outcome (fewer injuries). However, cohort studies may require years of following the subjects and also depend upon the subject populations being properly identified as identical with regard to the studied condition(s) at the start of the study rather than being weighted with some underlying predisposition. In other words, it is easy to introduce bias into cohort studies.
In many ways, the “gold standard” of investigational studies is the randomized placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trial. Ideally, the trial population is relatively uniform to start. Subjects are then randomly assigned to active and placebo arms, further helping to reduce any bias or predisposition in the groups being tested. The test is double-blind, meaning that neither the participants nor the investigators know who is taking the compound being tested. Finally, inasmuch as there often is a large psychological effect (the placebo or “sugar pill” effect) during the first weeks of a study, there is an arm of the trial that receives an item that appears to be identical to the compound being tested, but which has no effect. Note that this is an intervention study— the research actively intervenes by giving the compound to be studied to one or more of the arms in the trial. The idea here is to clearly demonstrate whether there is a cause and effect relationship between the item being studied and the outcome with the subjects. When possible, there is also a “cross-over” phase in which, after a sufficient washout period, the group that was used as the placebo arm becomes the active group and the group that had been the active arm becomes the placebo group. Not all studies lend themselves to this, but cross-over studies insure that there are no unrecognized predispositions in the subject that might bias the test results. All of this sounds good in theory. Unfortunately, as shortly will be shown, this “gold standard” of clinical trials still can be biased in a variety of ways.
The design of trials involves at least one more component that is important for evaluating whether the results of a given study are weak or strong.
The first step in any clinical trial is the production of a study protocol. This protocol presents three very important elements. First is the hypothesis of the study: what question is the study intended to answer?
Second is the study population: how and why were subjects picked to be in the study; what are the criteria for inclusion and exclusion; are special conditions involved?
Third is the size of the study sample: how many subjects are needed to insure that the results represent true findings rather than mere chance? All studies contain these three elements and the validity of these components—was the study question correctly framed, was the proper study population chosen, was the study carried on for an appropriate period of time, were enough subjects included to yield statistical significance, etc.— are essential for evaluating the worth of the trial.
Before moving to examples of weak and strong of clinical trials, a few words need to be said regarding statistical significance. The usual cut-off level is given as “p< 0.05,” which means there is only a five percent chance that the study findings represent mere chance. Some statistical models are more strict than others for performing this calculation, but readers actually need to be worried about something else, which is the study sample size. If a study uses, say, only seven subjects per arm, the small size of the study means that the reported effect will need to be very large to achieve statistical significance. Conversely, and one sees this all the time in pharmaceutical studies, a trial monitoring 100,000 subjects may find significance for what, in practice, are effects that are so weak that they are clinically only marginally useful!
As noted above, randomized placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trials are considered to be the ggold standardh for research. Nevertheless, many such trials are quite weak and misleading. For one thing, it all to often turns out to be the case that the placebo is not actually inactive, for instance, the practice of using maltodextrin or other sugars as the so-called placebo in weight loss studies. Relatedly, especially in studies involving weight loss, the placebo effect can be very strong for many weeks. The placebo effect in diet studies commonly leads to the loss of two pounds in eight weeks, and much more if diet and exercise changes are included. A BBC News report on the Internet (March 10, 2004) on trials of the drug rimonabant noted that participants taking the placebo were five pounds lighter at the end of one year. In some large pharmaceutical diet trials in which subjects changed behavior, diet and exercise, the weight loss in two months using the placebo exceeded 11 pounds!
Similarly, if exercise is included in a weight loss trial with healthy subjects, then LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides and leptin levels normally will go down, whereas HDL cholesterol will go up. Moderately increasing the amount of protein in the diet, likewise, will produce such trends. Hence, if a weight loss trial includes exercise and a controlled diet with increased protein, yet reports results opposite of these or fails to find weight loss in participants using the placebo (as happened recently in a highly promoted trial), then the reader should seriously wonder whether there was a lapse somewhere in either design or implementation because of the divergence from independently established outcomes. Moreover, it is often the case that even the most rock-solid of results cannot be extrapolated from one group to another. To stay with diet trials, studies performed in Asia or Latin America usually cannot be applied to American experience because the study populations and eating habits are so different. One has the right to question the reproducibility and applicability of studies.
Of course, many studies are very strong, although this, too, can be misleading. A recent one measured the effects of short-term, oral L-arginine supplements (12 g/d for 3 weeks) in 16 hypercholesterolemic men with normal blood pressure (BP). In this randomized, double-blind, two-period crossover design study, L-arginine tablets (1 g each) and matched placebos (microcrystalline cellulose) were used. The researchers demonstrated that the L-arginine supplement increased blood plasma levels of L-arginine and significantly reduced systolic BP (p<.05) and diastolic BP (p<.001), both at rest and during acute laboratory stressors. BP reductions were associated with a significant decrease in heart output (p<.01); these changes were mediated by small reductions in the volume of blood pumped with each heart beat (p = 0.07). These results were reproduced when the placebo group crossed over, plus they make sense in terms of what is known of the role of L-arginine in the body. Note that this study examines only one intervention which is tested in several ways rather than examining several interventions (e.g., diet + exercise + compound). With only one intervention, it is relatively easy to establish a clear cause and effect relationship.
This arginine study is an excellent example of a good study with strong results that can be completely misleading. The study lasted only three weeks. Based on a large number of similarly successful studies lasting only one or two months at a time, the temptation is to conclude that supplementing with L-arginine is a great recourse for those who are hypercholesteremic, hypertensive, need a boost in exercise, and so forth. Unfortunately, such conclusions would be wrong. As uncovered by a researcher who had been a proponent of L-arginine supplementation, long-term supplementation with L-arginine—in this case, six months.may lead either to null results or to actual harm—1 The body consists of a vast number of interconnected metabolic processes that are taking place simultaneously. A beneficial effect in one area sometimes is followed by a not so good effect someplace else. Hence, even with well-designed trials, there can remain hidden or submarine issues of which we become aware only much later.
Judging a clinical trial first requires establishing what type of test is involved—case-control, cohort or randomized controlled trial—because the type of test is the first clue as to how impartial the observations might be. Next, one must look closely at the components of the trial—the hypothesis of the study, the study population and the size of the study sample. A lack of clarity or inappropriateness in any one of these will reduce the quality of the data and undermine the analyses, interpretations and extrapolations based on the trial. Finally, clinical trials seldom exist in a vacuum. A given trial needs to be evaluated in light of related trials, especially trials conducted by researchers whose concerns and orientations are different from those involved with the test being evaluated. Readers interested in pursuing this topic are urged to examine Richard K. Riegelman, Studying a Study and Testing a Test (6th edition, 2012).
1 Wilson AM, Harada R, Nair N, Balasubramanian N, Cooke JP. L-arginine supplementation in peripheral arterial disease: no benefit and possible harm. Circulation. 2007 Jul 10;116(2):188.95. Epub 2007 Jun 25.
Antioxidants, Our Natural Protectants: Metabolic Regulators, Antitoxins and Anti-inflammatories
Antioxidants protect us. They are the sub-stances that naturally regulate the fires within our bodies.
The fires are sparked by metabolic errors in our cells—errors that are unavoidable as our cells make and use energy for the business of life. The fires can be managed when we are young and very healthy but become harder to control as we get older. Aging is not so much bad genes as it is a slow, inexorable, cumulative consequence of tissue damage from internal fires, sparked by these unavoidable errors of metabolism.
The sparks of metabolism come from living with oxygen. Our life forms breathe in oxygen and use it to do controlled “burns” that extract energy from our foods. Oxygen-based energy allows us to become more sophisticated than amoebas, but comes with a big price. Oxygen is so reactive that it draws single electrons to it, generating oxygen-free radicals within our cells. These “oxyrads” are our unavoidable “sparks of metabolism.” Antioxidants keep them from destroying our cells.
Our tiny metabolic sparks are generated at a steady rate, the oxyrads having single electrons which cause them to attack biological molecules. Molecules with single electrons are aggressive oxidants: they steal single electrons to become paired up. Antioxidants block this process by donating their own electrons.
The antioxidant defenses dare not fail. When they do, important bio-molecules lose single electrons, themselves become unstable, and initiate spreading chain reactions. A chain reaction that escapes control becomes inflammation, with cell and tissue death and progressive loss of functional capacity. Inflammatory events are our internal fires, opposed by antioxidant enzymes backed up by our dietary antioxidant intakes. Our antioxidant defenses give us power to head off degenerative disease and achieve long life.
By quenching the metabolic sparks, antioxidants are also our natural antitoxins. But if the oxygen-free-radical toxins were the only problem, we'd likely all live 120 years or more. Think about cigarette smoke—100 trillion free radicals per puff. A total 4,000-plus synthetic chemicals in everyday use; even drugs we buy over the counter set small fires. Not to mention the illicit “recreational drugs.” Even emotional stress can overheat our metabolism. In this crazy world it's not good to leave home without your antioxidants.
Infectious agents are consistently linked to inflammation. In 1990 I documented inflammatory depletion of antioxidants by HIV-1. Then there's Hepatitis C virus in the livers of four million Americans. The bacterium Helicobacter pylori accounts for the majority of inflammatory stomach and intestinal ulcers. About half of the chronically ill American veterans of the Gulf War have mycoplasmal infections. We also can't forget Chlamydia pneumoniae, the fungus Candida albicans and Giardia and amebic protozoal parasites.
Our own host immune system may trigger inflammation from over-reaction to resistant pathogens. The immune cells produce huge quantities of free radicals when on the attack. When pathogens are not easily eliminated, the immune oxidant production can get out of control, resulting in local exhaustion of antioxidant defenses and another inflammatory focus.
Almost every toxic substance steals electrons and therefore can deplete the body's antioxidants. Thus, the body's own efforts to process some substances can actually make them worse toxins. The P450 detoxification system, located mostly in the liver, combines oxygen with water-insoluble substances such as cholesterol, estrogens, pollutants, pharmaceuticals, even herbal constituents. They are made into free radicals, to be later combined with antioxidants and made water-soluble for clearance with the urine or bile. But things don't always go as planned.
The P450 system wasn't designed to deal with the huge mass of toxins that enter the body. Let's talk about acetaminophen. This legal, over-the-counter drug (Tylenol®) is made highly reactive by the liver P450 enzymes. Then it burns away glutathione, the major liver antioxidant, and begins to kill liver cells. Liver failure can result. Organochlorine pollutants, indoor pesticides, mercury and other heavy metals (and let's not forget alcohol and cigarette smoke derivatives) all deplete glutathione and threaten all the tissues.
I recently did a series of in-depth reviews of degenerative diseases. The major pattern I see with atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, bowel diseases, liver diseases, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, cataract, arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, prostate diseases, many cancers—is inflammation. By combating inflammation, antioxidants are our essential natural defense against premature suffering and death.
The body relies on foods to replenish its internal antioxidant stores. From our whole, unprocessed foods come the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E; the antioxidant essential minerals, selenium and zinc and copper and manganese; the semi-essential antioxidants coenzyme Q10 (COQ) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA); lutein, lycopene and other carotenoids; the polyphenolic flavonoids and various substances from traditional herbs. These circulate in our blood and contribute integratively to the blocking of free radicals. But a growing body of research indicates we aren't getting enough from our foods for optimal protection against disease.
The healthy body tries to conserve the nutritional antioxidants through metabolic recycling. But still there is a “burn” on our reserves. Dr. Robert Cathcart, the foremost authority on vitamin C , speaks of a “hundred-gram cold,” an influenza so severe it can burn away 100 grams (not milligrams) of vitamin C in just a day or two. A flu attack can be held to just a few days instead of a few weeks by taking lots of C and other antioxidants.
Integrative medical practitioners report that just about all their patients benefit from supplemental antioxidants. Vitamin E has been known for decades to be lifesaving against heart disease.Most of the health food community thinks of vitamin E as tocopherols. But tocotrienols are legitimate members of the vitamin E family and are excellent antioxidants. They are under clinical investigation for benefit against atherosclerotic blood vessel disease and experimentally for the slowing of cancer cell growth and proliferation.
Stephen Sinatra, M.D., a cardiologist and leader in the practice of integrative medicine, has long been a booster for COQ. I can relate to this because I also see COQ's fantastic promise. As I read about health care costs soaring through the roof, I wonder why COQ is not being fortified in our foods to lower gum disease, to improve heart and blood vessel health, to boost immunity and fight cancer development, even (yes!) to lengthen everyone's productive lifespan.
Coenzyme Q10 is unique as a potent antioxidant and indispensable energy catalyst (only ALA has a similar double role). Many of Dr. Sinatra's patients are very deficient in COQ. People taking statin drugs, beta-blockers or certain of the anti-depressants may have their internal COQ synthesis blocked. For them and probably for many of the sick and elderly, COQ is practically a vitamin. Any insufficiency of COQ can endanger the heart through impairing its energetic capacity.
Dr. Sinatra has linked much of the heart disease he sees in women to COQ deficiency. More than 100 clinical studies document that COQ improves congestive heart failure, angina, high blood pressure. About 15 percent of Dr. Sinatra's patients do not improve satisfactorily on COQ alone; these he gives carnitine and then improvement usually occurs. He also sees in the clinical evidence a potential link between poor COQ status and cancers, especially in women.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral, required through the diet though only in small quantities. Selenium has importance for human health that belies its plain mineral status. It is specific for the active sites of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GP). GP is a central player in control over free radicals.
In 1996 a major paper appeared in the prestigious (and conservative) New England Journal of Medicine, making an almost unbelievable claim. It described a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in which more than 1,300 subjects were followed for up to 10 years. Dietary supplementation with selenium produced a 50 percent reduction in total cancer mortality. The incidence of cancer was reduced by one-third. Lung, colorectal and prostate cancer incidence were markedly reduced. The material used was SelenoExcell™, an organic selenium concentrate that resembles the selenium found in food.
The carotenoids are, like vitamin E, fat-soluble antioxidants. One of them—lycopene—has been linked to exciting early results against prostate cancer. A small but controlled, clinical trial focused on male subjects undergoing surgery for prostate cancer. Half were offered a dietary supplement of LYC-O-MATO®, a standardized natural tomato extract with four times the typical lycopene content. PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels and prostate tumor size were significantly reduced, compared with the control subjects.
More recently, in a placebo-controlled, crossover trial, LYC-O-MATO® also showed good results in lowering high blood pressure. Its natural combination of lycopene with other plant nutrients may offer a unique synergy for the protection of our health against free radical and other toxic damage.
Lutein is the only carotenoid found in high concentrations in the retina, a thin cell layer at the back of the eye which constantly takes a high dose of light radiation. Macular degeneration destroys the retina and afflicts one out of four Americans over age 65. Lutein is being researched for its capacity to protect the retina and the lens of the eye and it also has anticancer potential.
Grape seed extracts are concentrates of flavonoid polymers. When the great scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi received the Nobel Prize for discovering vitamin C, he commented that he had expected to get it for discovering the flavonoids. The small polymers (oligomeric procyanidins) and polyphenols in grapes work synergistically with vitamin C to conserve the functions of the blood vessel linings and walls. Some of these flavonoids also have antiviral and possible anticancer actions.
As scientists continue with their dedicated investigations of food constituents, the latest phytonutrient star is rosmarinic acid (RA). This substance is extracted from a naturally high-yielding strain of oregano and also occurs in thyme and rosemary. All three of these plants have been revered for their medicinal properties literally for centuries. RA appears to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties, while its high antioxidant potency has proved useful for stabilizing vegetable oils against frying. It has been prepared as a powder without solvents or other processing chemicals. Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects are also being investigated.
Antioxidants are, together with phospholipids, nutrients with profound nutraceutical potential. Whether supplementation with these nutrients will extend the maximum lifespan remains to be proven. Certainly the clinical and experimental studies suggest that functional deficiencies of these nutrients result in cell-level dysfunctions with the potential to spark inflammation that progresses to life-shortening degenerative disease.
We need to keep the fires within us at a very low ebb lest they develop into the raging infernos of uncontrolled inflammation. Consumption of a variety of functional foods and supplements enriched with these nutrients will help keep that doctor away.
Phospholipids, Functional Partners of Antioxidants
by Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D.
Within the cells, circulating lipoproteins, digestive fluids and elsewhere in the body, phospholipids co-occur and co-function with antioxidants. The phospholipids (pronounced fos-fo-lip-ids) self-assemble into membranes and other multidimensional structures, together with antioxidants to protect them against oxidative destruction. This partnership between nutrient classes profoundly influences the health of the whole being.
The cell membranes are dynamic molecular assemblies that house life's plethora of biochemical processes. Our 100 trillion cells all rely on membranes to carry out their functions. Cell membrane organization is shown on the left of the illustration. Catalytic proteins are housed within a flexible bilayer (two molecular sheets), the phospholipid matrix. The matrix also houses antioxidants, including tocopherols and tocotrienols of the vitamin E family; lycopene, lutein and other carotenoids and ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10 or COQ). Also present is the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, using selenium as its mineral co-factor.
Phospholipids (PL) are the most biochemically-suited building blocks for membranes. The right side of the illustration shows the molecular plan of a common membrane PL such as PS (PhosphatidylSerine)or PC (PhosphatidylCholine).
The fatty acid tails often are highly unsaturated and therefore susceptible to oxyradical or other oxidant attack. The more unsaturated the membrane, the more antioxidant protection is required. The PL head groups each bring special properties to the membrane. In PS the head group has serine, in PC it has choline. The “prophospholipid” GPC (GlyceroPhosphoCholine) has the choline head group but lacks fatty acid tails, and is absent from the membrane proper.
PS is most concentrated in nerve cell membranes. Its head group associates with membrane proteins particularly crucial to nerve cell functions. These include:
- The sodium-potassium AND calcium-magnesium transporters that use up to 70 percent of all the cell's energy;
- Enzymes for signal transduction—protein kinases and adenylyl cyclases;
- Receptors, sensors for chemical transmitters (acetylcholine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, serotonin, others), also for nerve growth factors;
- Proteins of the mitochondrial membranes, central to energetics. Here PS also is a backup for other phospholipids.
These membrane-level functions of PS translate to health for the whole being. Double-blind trials (20 of them) show PS a superior nutrient for memory support, for partial restoration of declining cognitive function, for coping with stress in the healthy young. Preliminary research suggests PS can improve attention, learning and behavior in children.
The energy for life is generated in cell membranes. In the process oxygen radicals (“oxyrads”) are generated which are highly reactive. However good the antioxidant defenses are, some oxyrads escape control and attack membranes. Thus the brain, with its intense energy generation (up to 60 percent of the body's total), must continually renew its cell membranes. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, the minerals selenium, zinc and manganese, the energizers COQ and alpha-lipoic acid, the carotenoids lutein and lycopene, standardized polyphenolic flavonoids and other food borne antioxidants, all synergize with PS to help optimize brain functions.
The liver is our workhorse organ; its cells contain a total eight football fields worth of membrane area, to perform 500 different functions. In its efforts to detoxify foreign substances it generates a further oxidative load on top of its usual oxyrad burden. Oxidants from foods, viruses, pollutants and drugs challenge the liver's antioxidant capacity. Though the healthy liver is well endowed with antioxidants, oxidant overload can kill cell membranes. Enter PC (PhosphatidylCholine), the most common phospholipid of membranes.
Dietary supplementation with PC has clinically important, sometimes lifesaving benefits for the liver. In eight double-blind clinical trials, PC protected the human liver against alcoholic inflammation, viral infection and toxic prescription rugs, markedly improving the speed and extent of patient recovery.
The liver also carries a substantial reserve of GPC, which is readily converted into PC to make membrane. It is the most bioavailable source of choline to help the liver cells regenerate and perhaps for similar reasons is highly concentrated in mother's milk.
Taken by mouth, GPC quickly clears the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain. Working through various mechanisms, it sharpens attention and immediate recall in young, healthy subjects. In the middle-aged it benefits information processing and general mental focus. In the elderly it improves declining cognitive functions linked to circulatory damage. GPC's support for nerve cell functions, including a protective role as osmotic buffer, make a convenient biochemical fit with the antioxidant defenses operative in the brain.
Functional partnership between phospholipids and the antioxidants is not limited to membranes. The circulating lipoproteins produced in the liver (HDL, LDL and others) are made mostly from PL building blocks. Dietary PL facilitate normal, pro-homeostatic lipoprotein status, probably through their support of the liver.
The LDL are the main vehicles for delivery of fat-soluble antioxidants—E, COQ, alpha-lipoic, carotenoids, others—to the tissues. In all of 12 double-blind trials, phospholipid mixtures lowered abnormally high total- and LDL- cholesterol without harming the HDL levels. In another double-blind trial, PL significantly improved blood flow to the brain and improved abnormal platelet aggregation. These marked circulatory benefits of the PL clearly complement antioxidants' benefits for the circulating lipoproteins and blood vessel walls.
Phospholipids combine with antioxidants in facilitating digestion. The bile fluid is essential for fat digestion and absorption. Bile has a large content of PL, functioning with the antioxidant taurine as micellizing agents to fully disperse the fat molecules. Fatty acids of the omega-3 or omega-6 class make up many of the phospholipid “tails.” These are held in position by their parent PL molecules while enzymes break away prostaglandins (PG) and other messenger molecules. Membrane antioxidants help regulate the PG formed, to support a favorable balance.
The natural co-functioning of phospholipids with antioxidants in our cells and tissues suggests combination supplements for synergistic benefits. In particular, a new technology (NutriVail™) employs custom phospholipids to make monomolecular dispersions of antioxidants, with the aim of substantially enhanced bio-availability and unique clinical benefit.
Peer-reviewed publications available on request. Dr. Kidd is scientific consultant to Lipoid USA.
Lutein For Eye Health
Recent scientific studies showing a clear association between lutein intake and a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts are capturing the attention of both consumers and their eye doctors. The need is growing clearer:
- One out of four people aged 65 or older has early signs of AMD.
- One out of two people aged 65 or older has a cataract or cloudiness in the eye's lens.
- As the largest population group in the United States ages, many people are facing the likelihood of what some simply accept as part of aging, vision loss.
A Food and Nutrition Board report found that lutein is the nutrient most strongly associated with decreased risk of AMD and cataracts.
Lutein and Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Prevent Blindness America estimates that 13 million people in this country have evidence of AMD, a condition that gradually destroys central vision. While the exact cause of this debilitating condition is still unknown, family history and age are known factors.
Lutein is found in the macula's “yellow spot,” a tiny region at the center of the retina. This tiny yellow spot filters blue light for the color vision cells within the retina. The researchers found that lutein is deposited in the retina and macula, increasing its density and protecting the tissue from oxidation by filtering blue light and quenching free radicals.
Experts say that by the time a person exhibits symptoms of AMD the disease has been developing for decades. Baby Boomers are showing concern about their aging eyesight and stocking up on supplement products formulated with lutein to reduce risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Lutein and Cataracts
While cataracts generally occur in people over the age of 65, they are occasionally found in younger people as well. A cataract is a clouding that develops in the normally clear lens of the eye. This process prevents the lens from properly focusing light on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in a loss of vision.
Lutein's link to cataracts is recent but well documented. Studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest intake of lutein and its fellow carotenoid antioxidant, zeaxanthin, had a 22 percent reduced risk for cataracts; men had 19 percent reduced risk.
“Many people have been told that nothing can be done about cataracts—that they are a natural effect of the aging process,” says Robert Abel, Jr. M.D., author of The Eye Care Revolution and member of the Lutein Information Bureau Advisory Board. “But they're now finding out that dietary changes, including consumption of lutein, may have a significant impact on risk reduction.”
At the same time, consumers are taking charge of their eye health and seeking out possible solutions. A recent independent survey of consumers shows lutein awareness at 44 percent across all age groups and at more than 57 percent among consumers aged 65 years or older.
Mounting scientific evidence also has convinced eye doctors of the many benefits of lutein, with 84 percent currently recommending lutein to their patients, according to an independent survey of 300 U.S. ophthalmologists and optometrists.
These eye doctors also support use of lutein for long-term eye health (91 percent), believe consumers should supplement their diet with lutein daily (71 percent) and believe lutein is the nutrient that best supports long-term eye health (58 percent).
Natural product supermarket sales of supplements containing carotenoids and antioxidants grew to $13.7 million in 2001 —an almost eight percent jump over the previous year. The top four products in that category all contain lutein. In fact, supplements containing lutein are growing five times faster than those without.
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.
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.
Since the groundbreaking Harvard research, Kemin Foods, an Iowa-based global manufacturer of natural ingredients, has been helping vitamin and dietary supplement manufacturers meet the demands of a growing market interested in maintaining long-term eye health.
Kemin's FloraGLO® brand lutein is a purified and patented lutein available for use in vitamins, foods/beverages and personal care/cosmetic products. It is the only lutein product that is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for breakfast and granola bars, energy bars, energy drinks, fruit drinks, fruit juice, meal replacement drinks, mixed vegetable juice, cereals and soy milk.
About Kemin Foods
Superior science and service sets Kemin Foods apart from many other companies serving the vitamin and supplement industry. Nearly 10 percent of the company's employees have doctorate degrees in various disciplines, working in a team-based environment to produce products based on scientific research at the molecular level. Once Kemin scientists understand how products work at the molecular level, the company supports those products with a commitment to superior customer service, including extensive market research and co-branding efforts that leverage brand value.
Lyc-O-Mato® Standardized Natural Lycopene Complex
by James Balch, M.D.
The good news is that there is clinical proof you can build a powerful antioxidant defense system against prostate cancer. By incorporating LYC-O-MATO® (standardized natural tomato extract) into your daily nutrition program you can access remarkable fighting power against prostate cancer and a host of other degenerative diseases.
The standardized natural tomato extract contains several phytonutrients found in tomatoes including lycopene, tocopherols, vitamin E, phytofluene, phytoene, phytosterols, beta carotene and more. LYC-O-MATO is extracted from non-GMO tomatoes grown in Israel that contain four times the lycopene content of tomatoes grown elsewhere.
A six-year Harvard Medical School study of healthy males found that consuming tomatoes, tomato sauce or pizza more than twice a week, as opposed to never, was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer of 21 to 34 percent, depending on the food.
As exciting as its cancer-prevention potential is the evidence that shows lycopene may help fight existing cancer. A recent paper published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention by Omer Kucuk, M.D., professor of medicine and oncology, and his colleagues at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan, evaluated the effect encapsulated LYC-O-MATO had on patients with existing prostate cancer. In this study, Dr. Kucuk and colleagues followed 30 men with localized prostate cancer who were scheduled to undergo surgical removal of the prostate. For three weeks prior to surgery the study participants were randomly assigned to receive either 250 milligrams LYC-O-MATO from LycoRed Natural Products, Beer-Sheva, Israel (which contains 15 milligram of lycopene) twice daily or no intervention. Following removal of the prostates, the glands were analyzed to determine whether there were any differences between the two study groups.
The investigators found that the treated group had smaller tumors, which were more likely to be confined to the prostate. Levels of serum PSA were found to decline in the patients who received LYC-O-MATO tomato extract. In addition, the tumors in patients who consumed this natural lycopene showed signs of regression and decreased malignancy.
“This was the first published report from a randomized prospective clinical trial showing the efficacy of a tomato extract supplement against prostate cancer,” said Dr. Kucuk. “Previous reports were largely epidemiological studies showing an association between consumption of tomato products and decreased risk of prostate cancer. Furthermore, our findings suggest that a tomato extract in the form of LYC-O-MATO may not only help prevent prostate cancer but also may be useful in treating prostate cancer.”
Research using standardized LYC-O-MATO natural tomato extract is also good news for mild hypertensive patients reluctant to make lifestyle changes.
New findings published in the May issue of The American Journal of Hypertension provide evidence that LYC-O-MATO may help lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients. The study, presented at the Sixteenth Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension on May 18, 2001, may provide a new alternative for about 50 million Americans who have hypertension.
Americans interested in lowering their risk of high blood pressure are frequently encouraged to exercise and follow a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Typically, however, many are reluctant to make changes in their lifestyles. In fact, according to NOAH, an online health resource maintained by City University of New York, only 68 percent are aware of their high blood pressure condition and only 27 percent have it under control. High blood pressure contributes to 75 percent of all strokes and heart attacks.
Now there is a natural alternative to controlling hypertension that may prevent Americans from making difficult lifestyle changes and/or taking drugs with harmful side effects.
In a single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, Esther Paran, M.D., the study's principal investigator, evaluated the effect of LYC-O-MATO® on grade 1 hypertensive patients. In this study, 30 grade 1 hypertensive patients between the ages of 45–60 were administered a daily dose of identical placebos for the first four weeks of the study, followed by a 250 mg daily dose of LYC-O-MATO® for the final eight weeks of the study.
Preliminary results of this study indicate a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure in treated patients. “We are optimistic about LYC-O-MATO'S potential in managing hypertension,” Dr. Paran said. “The results of this study demonstrate the ability of LYC-O-MATO® to reduce systolic blood-pressure, warranting additional studies in the future.”
Other recent studies suggest that LYC-OMATO ® also provides a considerable level of defense against degenerative diseases including heart disease. Considering the results of these studies, combined with its positive effects on blood pressure, the importance of maintaining a normal level of natural phytonutrients like lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene and beta carotene in the human body is evident. It is recommended that individuals consume at least 80–250 mg of LYC-O-MATO® per day, which contains 15 mg of lycopene as well as other phytonutrients, to maintain good health.
www.lycomato.com, or visit the American Society of Hypertension Web site at www.ash-us.org
Grape Seed Extract and the French Paradox
What is the French paradox?
Several years ago, epidemiologists studying heart disease in Europe noticed something strange—high fat leads to heart disease, right? Not in France. The French eat a large amount of cream, rich sauces, delicious desserts and a wide variety of tasty cheeses. Yet heart disease is lower in France than the rest of Europe. This phenomenon is called the French paradox. Check this out—the French imbibe more wine than the rest of Europe.
The goodness of wine—flavonoids
What's in the wine? Water, alcohol and several other compounds (such as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, tartaric acid) and more importantly flavonoids. Flavonoids are a large group of phenolic compounds that occur in fruits, cereals, legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, stems and flowers and also in beverages such as tea, cocoa, beer and wine. Flavonoids have several properties that could prevent heart diseases. They are antioxidants that help with the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). They also have anti-inflammatory properties and a beneficial effect on blood vessels as well.
Grape seed—a vital source of flavonoids Grape seeds contain 5–8 weight percent of flavonoids. Commercially available grape seed extracts such as MegaNatural™ Gold (Polyphenolics, Madera, California) are a rich source of flavonoids. Benefits of flavonoids For several years scientists at the University of California-Davis have studied the effect of flavonoids from grape seeds on blood vessels and how it can reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Loss of endothelium-dependent relaxation (EDR) due to atherosclerosis is the primary cause for the formation of plaque in coronary arteries that leads to heart disease. EDR is caused by the release of nitric oxide (NO) from endothelial cells of the blood vessel. Experimental evidence led to the speculation that the release of NO could be mediated by a series of events that are initiated by a receptor, which is specific to flavonoids. EDR can be readily demonstrated by control experiments using established procedures. The effect of flavonoids on EDR was studied in detail over the past several years. Previous studies regarding the effect of flavonoids on EDR yielded conflicting results, possibly due to the variations in he quality of the extracts examined. However, recent studies using the commercially available grape seed extract MegaNatural Gold provided conclusive evidence that flavonoids have a protective effect against the development of endothelial dysfunction.
In the experiments, a group of rabbits fed only with cholesterol showed loss of EDR. But, a group of rabbits fed with both grape seed extract, MegaNatural Gold and cholesterol showed no loss of EDR, proving the protective effect of the grape seed extract, MegaNatural Gold.
Antioxidant activity of grape seed extracts Another study at the University of Scranton has demonstrated the superior antioxidant activity of grape seed extracts (GSEs) overwine, grape juice, vitamin C and vitamin E. Commercial products like MegaNatural Gold were used for both the in vitro and in vivo studies.
In one such study, a significant increase in the blood plasma antioxidant activity was observed within one or two hours after the consumption of grape seed extract. Nine human volunteers were given a 600 mg dosage of GSE and by using the RANDOX bio-assay study an increase up to 12 percent of blood plasma antioxidant activity was observed. This dosage could be correlated to drinking 300 ml of red wine or consuming 1250 mg of vitamin C.
In order to determine the GSE dosage that is required to have a higher bio-availability of polyphenols in blood plasma for improved antioxidant activity, nine subjects were given varied dosages of the flavonoid, epicatechin. Epicatechin is one of the flavonoids present in all grape seed extracts. The in vivo antioxidant study has shown that a dosage of 300 mg was more effective than 200 mg. In fact at 300 mg the antioxidant capacity in the blood was still increasing after four hours, indicating that at this dose the antioxidant effect will remain in the blood for six to eight hours.
A long-term study involving a dosage of 2 x 300 mg/day of GSE with 17 human volunteers was also conducted to understand the beneficial effect of GSE in reducing high cholesterol. Patients with high cholesterol experienced a decline in total cholesterol up to 12 percent and a corresponding decrease up to 16 percent in LDL, the so-called “bad cholesterol” as well.
These studies have once again confirmed the long-term effect of GSE s in controlling the level of cholesterol and triglycerides and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Implications for heart disease Endothelial dysfunction (loss of EDR) exists in hypertensives, diabetics, smokers, postmenopausal women and individuals with hyperlipidemia. All of these conditions are potential cardiovascular risk factors. Experimental evidence leads to the belief that polymeric flavonoids as a part of the diet may have a protective effect against the development of endothelial dysfunction. These findings, along with the established anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of flavonoids, could be a possible explanation for the French paradox.
Also for your consideration A substitute for aspirin for heart health
Many individuals take an aspirin a day to prevent their blood from becoming too “sticky.” Technically they are trying to prevent an increase in platelet aggregation. Blood platelets are like tiny band-aids in that they help to seal wounds by causing the blood to clot. Unfortunately, if the platelets clump (aggregate) too readily, they can cause a great deal of damage to the arteries. They can further the development of arterial plaques and they can reduce the flow of blood through the capillaries. Diabetics and smokers are two groups which commonly suffer from poor circulation and excessive platelet aggregation. Not surprisingly, both groups suffer from elevated rates of damage to the arteries.
Aspirin may provide some potential benefits for the heart, but it also has a number of side effects. The best known of these are damage to the stomach and the small intestine, but there are other dangers such as excessive bleeding (an increase in bleeding time—including inside the eye) and a reduced rate of repair to the tendons and the joints.
Do we really need these side effects? Of course not. Grape seed extract provides extended protection against platelet aggregation without causing any unwanted increase in bleeding time. A number of tests have confirmed this protection including human trials conducted by Serge Renaud of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. Dr. Renaud demonstrated that grape seed extract can protect against the rebound in platelet aggregation which follows the ingestion of alcohol. Moreover, the compounds found in grape seed extract have a special affinity for the surfaces of the vascular system, the “pipes” as it were, of the body. This special affinity appears to improve the elasticity and the permeability of the capillaries, veins and arteries—the entire vascular system. Grape seed extract protects the ground substance (the proteoglycan matrix) of the blood vessels directly while at the same time it reduces the unwanted adhesion of platelets and other blood components. The suggested intake for these benefits is 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) per day.
The Health Advantage of Food-form Selenium
by Bill Sardi
“The finding that selenium, an essential nutrient posing negligible risk at the 200 mcg intakes studies, can substantially cut the risk of death from cancer is really a revolutionary finding. I cannot think of any other agent, nutritional or pharmaceutical, that is proven to cut the deaths from cancer by half in any human population anywhere in the world. “These remarkable clinical outcomes with selenium for cancer prevention are not a deviation from other research with selenium conducted with animals, with selenium-antioxidant enzymes, with cells in culture. Yet the potential they represent for cutting the emotional, spiritual and financial costs that cancer imposes on human society is almost beyond belief. Just shut your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and think of all the people you have known who suffered and died from cancer.”
SCIENTISTS FIRST CALLED SELENIUM TOXIC. THEN FOLLOWING ITS RECOGNITION FOR ANIMAL HEALTH, RESEARCHERS IDENTIFIED IT AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT FOR HUMAN GROWTH.
Now investigators wonder where the health benefits of selenium stop. The first selenium function in animals wasn't discovered until 1973. Dr. John Rotruck and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin demonstrated that selenium was incorporated into molecules of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase (GPX). This vital enzyme protects red blood cells, cell membranes and sub-cellular components against undesirable reactions with soluble peroxides. The discovery of GPX opened the door to our understanding of how selenium is protective against cancer, heart disease, arthritis and accelerated aging.
This much misunderstood trace mineral may not gain the status of a drug simply because its primary role is disease prevention. Wherever soil is rich in selenium, certain diseases of livestock are virtually non-existent.
But how could selenium, provided in dosages less than the weight of a paper clip, protect a 150-pound human from disease?
Selenium and cancer
In what was called the most startling cancer prevention study ever published, University of Arizona and Cornell University researchers recently discovered that selenium food supplements significantly reduce the incidence of nearly all forms of cancer. In 1996 researchers Larry Clark, Gerald Combs and Bruce Turnbull of Cornell University reported on the 10-year use of a 200 microgram supplement of protein-bound selenium among 1312 patients with a history of basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer. While selenium had no effect upon skin cancer, it had a startling effect upon other types of tumors.
A Harvard researcher was quoted as saying: “If the effect of selenium is this large, it would be more important than anything else we know about in cancer prevention.” The results of the multi-center study were so surprising, many health researchers still want more proof.
Larry Clark, the senior researcher in this study, remarked that the type of selenium used in this study is not commonly found in all vitamin supplements. It's a special type of selenium that is grown organically in yeast. “Most of the selenium on the market is inorganic sodium selenite or sometimes they throw sodium selenite into yeast, but they are not bound together as the yeast grows, yet it is still called high-selenium yeast.”
Which type of selenium supplement?
In plant foods, selenium is bound to an array of amino acids (methionine, cysteine, others) and is thus a more stable form. In 1984, a MIT study determined that organically-bound forms of selenium are able to increase the body selenite exchangeable pool size about 70 percent more effectively than inorganic selenite or selenate. The superiority of protein-bound selenium is demonstrated in recent study where selenium-enriched broccoli was shown to inhibit colon tumors in rodents. Researchers observed that selenium-enriched broccoli is more effective than inorganic forms of selenium against colon tumor formation.
Another example of the superiority of protein-bound selenium over inorganic selenium has become apparent in studies of eye disease. One report suggests that “dietary supplementation with selenium should be explored as a means of preventing macular degeneration.” However, researchers have found that blood levels of selenium were lower among patients with macular degeneration even though seven of 10 patients studied took selenium supplements, mostly consisting of 80 micrograms of inorganic selenium (selenate). Lack of consumption of selenium does not appear to be the problem in these cases. Researchers surmise that the form of selenium is of importance. Some studies report that even 200 microgram doses of inorganic selenium fails to increase blood plasma levels of selenium in the eye, while amino acid-bound selenium increases plasma and whole blood levels.
Consumers should look for organically-bound selenium in supplements rather than the inorganic forms (selenite, selenate). The question is how to duplicate the same selenoproteins provided in plant foods in a food supplement?
Slow-growing Saccharomyces cerevisiae, baker's yeast, is employed to bind amino acids naturally with selenium. Some selenium food supplements only mix inorganic selenium with yeast but this is a shortcut that fails to do what nature does—slowly incorporate selenium into an array of about 20 amino acids. Yet the label on these food supplements may still read “selenium yeast.”
Numerous food supplements provide selenium bound only to one amino acid, selenomethionine. But the food supplement that dramatically reduced the cancer risk in 1996 employed a form of selenium bound to a full array of amino acids, like in foods. Only one brand of food supplement provides this complete food-form selenium, called SelenoExcell.
Due to years of misinformation the word “yeast” draws the attention of some consumers who believe they must avoid yeast products. Beneficial nutritional baker's yeast does not contribute to yeast infections such as Candida albicans. Selenium yeast is carefully pasteurized and dried after it is grown. This kills the yeast and it can no longer grow or multiply. Brewer's yeast has been a staple of the health food industry since its inception and is no cause for concern.
Only one company is going through all the trouble to manufacture a consistently reliable form of selenium organically bound to a full array of amino acids as found in foods. It goes by the trade name SelenoExcell.™. All forms of selenium have health benefits. But we have to go with the science. Until we know more, look for that branded ingredient.
Bill Sardi is president of Knowledge of Health, San Dimas, California.
by Rina Reznik, Ph.D.
To protect ourselves we invest in lifestyle changes, exercise, a healthy diet and supplementation. Antioxidants are only one element in the big picture, so products with multiple uses are particularly useful. After all, there's a limit to the number of supplements we can swallow in a day, let alone afford, so we need to supplement wisely. For example, consuming un-denatured whey protein raises intracellular glutathione levels and takes advantage of its three protective functions: T-cell synthesis, anti-oxidation and detoxification. Spirulina is an effective dietary antioxidant with dozens of well-known health benefits. Rosmarinic acid is another product that offers multiple advantages.
Rosemary and its cousins, oregano and thyme, have been known for their medicinal properties for centuries and rosemary oil has long been used in cooking, aromatherapy and in hair and skin tonics. It has been described traditionally as good for the skin, scalp, digestion and treatment of colds and is used as an antiseptic, stimulant and antispasmodic. Today medical scientists are particularly interested in rosmarinic acid for its anti-inflammatory, antiallergic and antioxidant properties.
Rosmarinic acid's multiple value also lies in its boxer's one-two approach: first, as a purely natural food additive it prevents or neutralizes the harmful oxidation that takes place while food is on the shelf, enhancing its quality and helping to prevent an additional tax on the body's over-burdened defense system. Then once the food is eaten, the same additive turns out to be a powerful dietary antioxidant. Of course it can also be used for direct supplementation. An added bonus is that rosmarinic acid does not interfere with intracellular oxidant-antioxidant balance and enables the immune system's phagocytes to use their free-radical weapons effectively against incoming disease organisms.
RA's antioxidant power
The most common free radicals attacking living tissue are reactive oxygen species (ROS)—or oxyradicals. They include the peroxyl, nitric oxide and superoxide-anion radicals plus singlet oxygen, peroxynitrite and hydrogen peroxide. Worst of all is the dangerous hydroxyl radical, formed by the combination of the weaker superoxide radical with hydrogen peroxide. Rosmarinic acid neutralizes the superoxide-anion and thus makes a major contribution to curbing oxidative damage in the body.
Rosmarinic acid also takes the heat of the more well-known antioxidants by getting into the fray and dealing with free radicals first, leaving vitamins C, E and others intact for later use. This extract is also one of the few antioxidants able to cross the blood-brain barrier and combat the superoxide radical in the brain, where researchers hope it may help prevent or combat such degenerative conditions as Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers at the Israeli biotechnology company, RAD Natural Technologies, discovered that certain natural species of the plant Origanum vulgare contained particularly high concentrations of rosmarinic acid. Without genetic modification the plant yields a highly purified extract that is effective in very low concentrations. With neither solvents nor processing chemicals, RAD Natural Technologies is able to preserve the integrity of the plant extract and produce a water-soluble powder that can alternatively be emulsified and thus dissolved in fats and oils. It is ideal for industrial applications. If you've always thought of antioxidants as pills and dietary supplements, think again.
The company's rosmarinic acid product is called Origanox and it is sold for food processing, cosmetic and dietary purposes. Its antioxidant properties preserve natural pigments, odors and flavors and also protect vitamins and other active ingredients from the degenerative effects of oxidation. It also possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and is easily absorbed into the skin, where it potentially supports to neutralize the harmful effect of ultraviolet radiation.
Rosmarinic acid maintains its electron-absorbing properties at sustained high temperatures. That means that when it is added to edible oils, the number of free radicals released by frying is diminished. It is stable for long periods and at temperatures as high as 180 C/356 F so it can be baked into foods without impairing its antioxidant properties.
Free radicals come at us from every conceivable direction and we need a good variety of antioxidants to protect ourselves. Some, like glutathione, are produced by the body, and are dependent upon a supply of raw materials from dietary sources. Others, like vitamins C and E, are built into the foods we eat or supplement in our diets. We may not be used to thinking of food preservatives as health aids but rosmarinic acid is a valuable aid that supports to preempt free radicals before they form in stored food and prevents the most harmful effects resulting from cooking with all sorts of oils. It also functions as a powerful antioxidant with the rare ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.
The essential oil of Origanum vulgare is a powerful, anti-microbial agent and natural, antiseptic product. It has many, very promising applications in certain feed and food products besides being a flavor enhancer and therapeutic component in health food supplements. This potent and adaptable product promises to become a valuable addition to our preventive medicine arsenal.
Tocotrienols—Their Role In Health
by Andreas M. Papas, Ph.D.
TOCOTRIENOLS ARE MEMBERS OF THE VITAMIN E FAMILY.
Mention vitamin E and most people, even scientists, think alphatocopherol. It is only recently that scientists and now the consumers have been reminded that vitamin E is a family of compounds.
Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family. Unlike some vitamins which consist of a single compound, vitamin E consists of eight different compounds, four tocopherols and four tocotrienols (designated as alpha, beta, gamma and delta). Our food contains all eight compounds. Most vitamin E supplements, however, contain only alphatocopherol because it was thought that only this one was important. Emerging research proved this understanding wrong. In order to get the full spectrum of the many benefits of vitamin E we must use products that contain the complete family of tocopherols plus tocotrienols.
Tocotrienols are most abundant in cereal grains and the fruit of palm and are extracted commercially from palm oil and rice bran oil.
Tocopherols and Tocotrienols: Similarities and Differences
Each tocotrienol has similarities to the corresponding tocopherols. For this reason tocotrienols, like tocopherols, are excellent antioxidants. Tocotrienols however, have three unsaturated sites on the tail of the molecule. Scientists are discovering important and unique benefits of tocotrienols.
Underscoring the importance of taking the whole vitamin E family is the evidence that not only tocotrienols but even the other tocopherols have unique functions different from those of alpha-tocopherol. For example:
- Gamma-tocopherol, not alpha, is the effective form for fighting nitrogen radicals which contribute to the development of arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's.
- Gamma-tocopherol and its major metabolite inhibit cyclooxygenase activity. This effect is very important because cyclooxygenase causes inflammation, which contributes to the progression of chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer.
- High blood levels of gammatocopherol in men are associated with lower risk of prostate cancer.
The Science Behind the Unique Functions of Tocotrienols
Research produced evidence of the biochemical basis of the important and unique effects of tocotrienols. Tocotrienols and in particular gamma-tocotrienol appear to act on a specific enzyme called 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutarylcoenzyme A reductase (HMG-COA) involved in cholesterol production in the liver. Tocotrienols suppress the production of this enzyme, which may result in less cholesterol being manufactured.
Tocotrienols slow down the growth of some types of human cancer cells, and particularly breast cancer cells, while alpha, beta and gamma tocopherols are ineffective. Gamma-tocotrienol suppresses the growth of rat melanoma and human leukemia cells, human breast adenocarcinoma and human leukemic cells.
Benefits for Cardiovascular Health—Clinical Evidence
The strongest evidence yet for tocotrienols comes from a clinical study in which 50 patients had stenosis of the carotid artery. These patients, ranging in age from 49 to 83 years, were divided in two groups. One group received approximately 650 milligrams of tocotrienols plus tocopherols. The other group received a placebo. All patients were examined with ultrasonography which measures the narrowing of the carotid artery.
- Placebo group: Fifteen patients showed worsening of the stenosis, eight remained stable and two showed some improvement.
- Tocotrienol (plus tocopherol) group: Three patients showed minor worsening and 12 remained stable. What is remarkable is that 10 patients showed regression of stenosis—their condition improved.
The tocotrienol group had also significant reduction in TBARS, a test that measures oxidation. A tocotrienol-rich extract from rice bran oil reduced triglycerides and LDL in these patients. We are studying further these effects of tocotrienol-rich products from rice bran oil.
Topical Use of Tocotrienols
Tocotrienols, like tocopherols, protect the skin against damage from ultraviolet radiation, pollution, cigarette smoke and other stress factors. Topically applied tocotrienols and tocopherols penetrate the entire skin to the subcutaneous fat layer within 30 minutes and significantly increase the concentration of these antioxidants in the deeper subcutaneous layers.
Safe and Effective Use Levels
Tocotrienols and vitamin E in general have an excellent safety record.
How much tocotrienols to take? Please remember that tocotrienols are available commercially as mixtures with tocopherols. If you are at high risk for heart disease, you may consider levels up to 300 mg per day of tocotrienols. For the great majority of consumers who want to get the benefit of the complete vitamin E family, much lower levels may still provide benefits.
It is extremely important to take products that contain natural tocopherols plus tocotrienols. While our individual needs differ, the following general guidelines might help choose the right level for you.
- The adequate level—the 100/100 system: Take 100 IU plus 100 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. For healthy young adults with no family history of chronic disease.
- The medium level—the 200/200 system: Take 200 IU plus 200 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. For young adults with some risk factors and healthy people without risk factors up to 50 years old.
- The high, yet very safe dose—the 400/400 system: Take 400 IU plus 400 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. This is the level for people who, because of their family history for chronic disease, age, level of stress, diet and other factors, want to take a higher level.
Andreas M. Papas, Ph.D., is the author of The Vitamin E Factor (paperback) and editor of the scientific book Antioxidant Status, Diet, Nutrition and Health, Dr. Papas is senior technical associate at Eastman Chemical Company and adjunct professor, at the College of Medicine of East Tennessee State University and senior scientific advisor, Cancer Prevention Institute, Harvard School of Epidemiology. —www.vitaminefactor.com
Ten Additional Important Antioxidants
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 (ascorbic acid) is a very powerful nutrient and the premier water-soluble antioxidant. It participates in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is important in maintaining homeostasis as well as building tissue.
Death is inevitable if vitamin C is not provided. It is truly essential to human life. New research into the actions of vitamin C has sparked a greater understanding of the remarkable health-promoting properties of this essential nutrient. The new evidence validates that vitamin C supports cardiovascular and respiratory function, cognition, bone development and mineralization, vision and may even lower the risk of stress-related diseases and certain types of cancer.
- Cardiovascular Health. High dietary vitamin C intake has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of death from heart attacks and strokes in numerous population studies. Also, researchers have found that vitamin C offsets spasms of the coronary arteries.
- Immunity Booster. A recent study reported an 85 percent lower incidence in cold and flu symptoms with high vitamin C doses.
- Collagen Maintenance. Vitamin C is important for the formation and maintenance of collagen, the intercellular cement that binds tissues together. Collagen provides tensile strength to bones, cartilage, teeth, tendons and ligaments. There is a positive association between vitamin C and bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women.
- Cancer. Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant to protect cellular structures, including genetic mechanisms, an enhancer of the immune system and to protect against cancer-causing environmental irritants and pollutants. Many of the benefits of vitamin C supplementation stem from its antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C become more important as aging occurs, especially if there is stress or disease.
Astaxanthin is a member of an elite class of carotenoids known as xanthophylls.
Astaxanthin is believed to be the most active of these carotenoids. Researchers have discovered that the most abundant and concentrated form of astaxanthin is found in the natural, renewable material extracted from microalgae.
Because of its unique molecular structure, astaxanthin is unlike any other antioxidant in that it can perform a wide variety of tasks including:
- increasing HDL (good cholesterol)
- increasing strength and endurance
- stimulating the immune system
- protecting and enhancing eye health.
Astaxanthin has been shown to perform effectively the three key tasks of an antioxidant: quenching, scavenging and trapping free radicals. Astaxanthin is more powerful than many other carotenoids because:
- its low molecular weight allows it to actually cross the blood-brain barrier, making it available to the eye, brain and central nervous system
- it is more resistant to damage, allowing it to scavenge longer and trap more types of free radicals
- it acts like a bridge, transporting free radicals along its long chain to water-soluble antioxidants like vitamin C inside and outside of the cell.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is a special form of carnitine that has the particular ability to optimize brain function. Acetyl-L-carnitine is able to cross into the brain more effectively than regular carnitine. It therefore enhances brain cell function much better than regular carnitine. As we age, acetyl-L-carnitine levels in our brains go down and for optimal brain function, supplements of acetyl-L-carnitine become mandatory.
Acetyl-L-carnitine acts in many ways to prevent the deterioration of brain cells that normally happens with age. It does this in many ways. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, provides the brain with healing energy and increases levels of a very important messenger molecule called acetylcholine. It is acetylcholine which becomes deficient in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and that is why these patients have such poor memory function. By increasing levels of acetylcholine, acetyl-L-carnitine helps the memory work better and may help prevent Alzheimer's disease as well.
Green tea is the antivirus, anticancer, super antioxidant. It is the most popular of Asian drinks and has been known for centuries to have a long list of health benefits. Interestingly, after water it is the most widely consumed beverage on the earth.
Dr. Earl Mindell states, “The antioxidants specific to green tea are polyphenols, bioflavonoids that act as super antioxidants by neutralizing harmful fats and oils, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, blocking cancer-triggering mechanisms, inhibiting bacteria and viruses, improving digestion and protecting against ulcers and strokes. The specific type of polyphenol found in green tea is called a “catechin.”
Other ingredients in green tea include the green chlorophyll molecules but also important are the proanthocyanadins similar to those found in grape seed extract, pine bark, bilberry and gingko. The specific tea is a variety called Camellia sinensis. Camellia sinensis in the West is known as black tea, such as Earl Grey tea, orange pekoe tea or English breakfast tea.
The antioxidant properties of green tea are responsible for its most important benefits. The Chinese always claimed that tea slows aging but it was not until we understood the role of oxidation in aging and the antioxidant function of flavonoids that we knew how this mechanism might work. Researchers at University of California- Berkeley found that green tea extract was the best at scavenging the deadly hydroxyl radicals. Three diseases that we focus on regarding green tea are heart disease, AIDS and cancer.
It is well known now through modern research that green foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes. They help protect against cancer, heart disease, digestive problems and many other modern disorders. Green vegetables are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene and chlorophyll. Possibly most important of all, they have potent antioxidant activity. Besides, they are low in fat and high in nutrients, an excellent combination.
The importance of green foods in the diet is now being validated scientifically worldwide. It is amazing how long it takes us to discover that foods were made correctly in the first place. They contain exactly what we need in their natural state. We have to find a way to take advantage of the whole foods naturally made and most of us are not doing that presently with our diets. In fact, it would be difficult for anyone to eat green plants to equal the amount of nutrition in concentrated green food supplements. So until you are ready to sidle up to a fivepound salad of spinach, watercress, alfalfa and kelp, the concentrated supplements mentioned here are probably your best source for the vital nutrients you need from green foods.
ALPHA LIPOIC ACID
Alpha lipoic acid is a vitamin-like antioxidant that is produced naturally in the body and found in certain foods such as potatoes and red meat.
It is the only fat and water soluble free radical antioxidant, therefore, it is easily absorbed and transported across cell membranes, protecting us against free radicals both inside and outside our cells.
Alpha lipoic acid has been used for years throughout Europe to treat and prevent complications associated with diabetes, including neuropathy, macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies show that diabetics lower their insulin requirements; this also helps reduce complications.
An abundance of promising research has also shown the ability of alpha lipoic acid to inhibit replication of HIV and other viruses, to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation which is associated with cardiovascular disease, to protect the liver from damage from alcohol or other toxins and also to prevent damage from radiation.
We do not obtain enough alpha lipoic acid through the diet to obtain this protection, so supplementation is required—100 to 200 mg daily. Therapeutic doses are higher.
Essential for many cellular functions, glutathione is a tripeptide of connected molecules composed of three nonessential amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine.
Without glutathione people suffer from an inability to detoxify metabolic wastes and in eliminating toxic substances like heavy metals and other environmental poisons. This may lead to heart disease, joint disorders, cancer and problems with the endocrine, immune and nervous systems.
Even healthy people under stress can become subject to a disrupted balance. They could be sick or battling an inflammation or infection, or healing from an injury, while more free radicals are created and must be eliminated. Glutathione will do the job. It will also seek out the free radicals formed when people are exposed to cigarette smoke, alcohol, mercury, air pollution, food additives, pesticides and ultraviolet light.
Needed cofactors that properly assist glutathione function are the following: alpha lipoic acid, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and the minerals selenium and zinc, of which selenium is a vital component.
Extracted from the bark of Pinus maritima, the coastal pine tree found in abundance in southern France, pycnogenol is made up of a combination of flavoids that occur naturally in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables. However, antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables and nuts lose their potency when they are harvested, processed, frozen and cooked. A study in the British scientific journal, The Lancet, showed that risk of heart disease was 50 percent lower in populations that consumed high amounts of flavonoids (at least 30 mg a day) than groups that took in low amounts of these antioxidants.
Decades of laboratory research and clinical studies conducted by Dr. Jack Masquelier show that pycnogenol contains approximately 40 natural ingredients including proanthocyanadins, organic acids and related bioavailable components such as glucosides and glucose esters. It is a potent antioxidant that protects against free radicals, has been shown to be many times more powerful than vitamin C or vitamin E and has the added benefit of working synergistically with many nutrients that support health.
Millions of people in Europe and the United States, athletes in particular, rely on pycnogenol to maintain skin health and overall health during the aging process. It is one of the best tried-and-tested products in its category, non-toxic and non-carcinogenic.
Garlic is the most studied herb in history. It has more benefits than any other single food. Tradition has told us that garlic has beneficial effects on health and longevity. Science is beginning to validate many of these claims including garlic's ability to prevent heart disease, fungal overgrowth and infectious diseases, the ability to remove toxic metals from the body and its powerful antioxidant and anticancer effects.
A Summary of Garlic's Many Benefits Includes:
- having been shown to have powerful immune-boosting properties and may be valuable in fighting off viral infections such as the common cold.
- having been shown to help lower blood pressure in those with hypertension.
- working as a natural antibiotic and reducing the number of harmful bacteria in the body.
- reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and has been shown to limit the deposition of plaque on artery walls.
- having been shown to help the body eliminate parasites.
- reducing the amount of the yeast, Candida albicans, in the human GI tract and has been shown to be beneficial in fighting systemic yeast infections.
- having been shown to lower blood sugar and be of significant benefit to diabetics.
- having been shown in population and laboratory studies to help prevent a wide variety of cancers.
- containing selenium, a cancerpreventing, immune-boosting and antiinflammatory nutrient.
BOOKS FOR FURTHER READING ON ANTIOXIDANTS:
by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. with Cameron Stauth
Warner Books, New York, NY (1997)
The Garlic Cure
by James F. Scheer, Lynn Allison and Charlie Fox
Alpha Omega Press, Fargo, ND (2002)
Linda Page's Healthy Healing—A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone
by Linda Page, N.D., Ph.D.
Healthy Healing Publications, Carmel Valley, CA (2002)
by Earl L. Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D.
Keats Publishing, Los Angeles, CA (1999)
Prescription for Nutritional Healing
by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC • James F. Balch, M.D.
Penguin Putnam, Inc., New York, NY (2000)
Robert Crayhon's Nutrition Made Simple—A Comprehensive Guide to the Latest Findings in Optimal Nutrition
by Robert Crayhon, M.S., C.N.
M. Evans and Company, Inc., New York, NY (1994)
The Super Antioxidants—Why They Will Change the Face of Healthcare in the 21st Century
by James F. Balch, M.D.
M. Evans and Company, Inc., New York, NY (1998)
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.
For us to stay healthy and active our bodies need energy…lots of energy. The energy produced by each of the trillions of cells in our bodies keeps our hearts beating, our muscles contracting, our brains functioning to send signals to the far reaches of our bodies, and our nerves carrying those signals to each of our organs to sustain life. Each day, our bodies produce and consume extraordinary amounts of energy. Let’s take the heart for example.
At any given moment an average heart contains less than one gram of stored energy, about 0.7-grams to be exact. But every day our hearts consume almost 6,000-grams of energy in performing its ceaseless work of pumping blood and delivering life-giving oxygen to tissues throughout our bodies. Think about the magnitude of this feat! Six-thousand grams is more than 10 times the average weight of a heart and almost 10,000 times the amount of energy that is normally found in the heart at any one time. Ask yourself, “Where does this energy come from?” and “How can the heart produce such an extraordinary volume of energy?”
In large part, the answers to these questions are found with D-ribose, as you will see.
ATP —The Currency of Life
The energy that fuels our bodies is held in a small molecule with a large name. Adenosine triphosphate, or simply ATP, is the compound found in every cell in our bodies that gives us energy. In fact, virtually all the energy used by our bodies comes from ATP. Because of its universal importance in the body, ATP is commonly referred to as the “energy currency” of the cell. In each cell, ATP is made, consumed, and re-processed in a cycle that keeps a continual supply of energy flowing. And our bodies have developed very elaborate metabolic processes to make sure we don’t run out. These processes efficiently recycle energy as it is used, making fresh energy constantly available to sustain life.
As chemical compounds in the body go, ATP is simple. It is made of three basic parts. The first is D-ribose, commonly called Ribose. Ribose provides the structural foundation upon which ATP is built and starts the process of ATP synthesis in the body. Without ribose ATP could not be formed and our cells would be energy deprived.
Attached to Ribose is a compound called adenine. Combined, ribose plus adenine form adenosine, as in adenosine triphosphate. The adenine portion of ATP is not simply added to the Ribose molecule in the cell. Instead, the cell makes adenine by building it, adding one element at a time to Ribose. When this process is completed, adenosine is the result and we have now formed the basis for ATP. To this basic structure we add three phosphate molecules. The energy in the ATP molecule is found in the chemical bonds that hold these phosphate molecules together. When the chemical bond holding the last phosphate molecules in place breaks, it releases chemical energy that is transformed in the cell to mechanical energy to do work.
But that is not the end of the story. Our bodies need to use the basic structure of ATP over and over again to keep the energy supply flowing. To do this, our cells recycle the spent ATP molecule by re-attaching a fresh phosphate group to replace the energy that was used. The cycle works like this. ATP is consumed, leaving a free phosphate group and adenosine diphosphate, or ADP. Remember, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) has three phosphate groups and adenosine diphosphate (ADP) has two. The cell then takes a free phosphate group that is floating around in the cell and reattaches it to ADP, re-forming ATP and replacing the consumed energy. This process of energy consumption and supply must accelerate to accommodate increasing energy needs, such as in exercise.
As long as we stay reasonably physically fit, and our cells get the oxygen they need to fuel metabolism, this cycle of energy utilization and supply can keep turning unimpeded. The problem com
es when our cells are unable to get enough oxygen to keep the process flowing. Many conditions can affect how well oxygen flows to our cells, or how well our cells can use the oxygen that is supplied. Ischemic heart disease, of course, restricts blood flow to the heart muscle itself, and this can impact blood flow and oxygen delivery to the rest of the body. Other heart conditions, such as congestive heart failure or cardiomyopathy, can similarly affect how well the heart functions, and, therefore, how efficiently it can deliver blood and oxygen to our tissues. Many non-disease conditions can also affect blood flow or oxygen delivery. As we age, for example, our tissues lose their ability to use oxygen efficiently. Older tissue, then, has a harder time keeping up the continual demand for energy. Even strenuous exercise can impact the relationship between energy supply and demand. If we exercise beyond the point at which our cells are taking up their maximal amount of oxygen, we overtake the cycle of energy re-supply and begin to use energy more quickly than it can be restored. No matter the cause, when our cells and tissues are unable to get the oxygen they need to maintain the balance of energy supply and demand the results are similar…fatigue, muscle pain, stiffness and soreness, a reduced ability to exercise, and lower quality of life.
Putting Gas in Your Tank
Think of this process of supplying energy to your cells like keeping gasoline in your car. When your car is sitting in the garage with a full tank of gas it is fully fueled and ready for a long drive. When you start the car and head it down the road, you begin to consume the gas in the tank and the supply of energy gets progressively lower until you have to fill the tank with gas or you will run out of fuel and the engine will stop, leaving you stranded by the side of the road. The same thing is true in your body. When you have enough food and oxygen to supply energy your engine will keep running and you will never run out of gas. But if you can’t get enough oxygen to keep the cell’s energy tank fully fueled you will progressively lose energy until you run out of gas. Then, you have to refill your tank before you can start down the road of life once more.
If you are healthy, you can refill your tank simply by resting long enough for new energy fuel to fill your cells. In a normal, healthy person that has been strenuously exercising over a few days in a row, it takes more than three days of rest for cells to be fully recharge. This is a typical situation in young athletes who might exercise every day. Frequently, these athletes do not let their bodies rest long enough to restore lost energy and, in a short time, they become fatigued, sore, stiff, weak, and out of sorts. They simply try to do too much work with too little fuel, and run out of gas.
As we age, or if we suffer with heart or muscle disease, however, the situation can be much more complicated. In contrast to the athlete performing strenuous exercise, if we belong to this group the normal course of daily activities might be enough to fully consume the energy in our cells and tissues. As a result of running out of fuel we might become persistently, or chronically, fatigued, we could have leg soreness and muscle stiffness, we frequently can’t face the prospect of climbing stairs or even walking out to the mailbox, we may be too tired to go shopping or to play with the grandchildren, and our quality of life suffers as a result. To make matters worse, our bodies might never deliver enough oxygen to let our cells fully recover once the energy in our cells and tissues is fully consumed.
Whether it is an athlete that wants to recover more quickly so they can get back on the field, an aging grandparent who longs for the energy to take the grandchildren to the park, an active professional with too much work, too much stress, and too little sleep, or a heart patient who can’t face the prospect of climbing the stairs to bed, the issue is replacing fuel in the tank. Like the fuel pump at the gas station, Ribose is the metabolic fuel the body uses to recharge the energy batteries and put gas back in the tank.
The Recovery Power of Ribose
Replacing the energy that drains from our cellular gas tanks is fundamentally important to recovering cell and tissue function. This process of energy recovery begins with Ribose. Our cells use this simple, five-carbon carbohydrate to initiate ATP synthesis, allowing our bodies to rebuild lost energy and recharge the cellular batteries. If there is not enough ribose present in the cell to begin this vital process, we cannot restore this lost energy.
Every cell in our bodies makes ribose every day
The problem is that our cells lack the metabolic machinery they need to make very much ribose, or to make it quickly when our bodies need it. Our cells make Ribose from a very abundant and highly important carbohydrate called glucose, which is also known as dextrose. In the body, glucose is used as the primary metabolic fuel for many cellular reactions, and because of its importance it is rationed. This rationing prevents too much glucose from moving down the metabolic pathway to make ribose. And so, when our bodies are stressed by strenuous exercise, metabolic dysfunction, or disease our cells cannot recover until enough ribose is made to stimulate ATP synthesis and refill our energy fuel tank. Although this delay can last for several days, if we are healthy, have a good supply of oxygen to our tissues, and take enough time to rest, we can fully recover. If, on the other hand, our cells are aging or not functioning normally, we are not able to supply enough oxygen to our tissues, or we don’t allow ourselves sufficient rest, there might never be enough time to make an adequate amount of Ribose for our energy batteries to recharge.
This is exactly what happens in people with ischemic heart disease. When the arteries supplying blood to the heart become clogged they cannot deliver enough oxygen to fully supply the metabolic demand of the heart. The condition by which blood flow to a tissue is restricted is called ischemia. In the case of ischemic heart disease, this lack of blood flow is to the heart itself. Because the heart does not get enough blood flow, it is also deprived of oxygen and this oxygen deprivation slows the normal process of energy recycling. As the heart keeps beating, energy demand outstrips energy supply, resulting in a continual drain on energy reserves. The heart’s energy tank is always running low.
Because the heart beats continually, it cannot rest while its energy tank is refilled. Instead, the heart slows down certain energy consuming functions, conserving the energy left in its tank for contraction. The energy-starved heart tries its best to push blood and oxygen to the body, but because it does not have enough energy its efforts are inefficient and inadequate. As time goes on, this inefficient blood flow to the rest of the body begins to take a toll. As heart disease progresses, for example, patients may complain of overwhelming fatigue, shortness of breath, sore legs, or an inability to perform even simple exercise, such as walking up stairs or around the block.
The same is true of people with fibromyalgia or other neuromuscular disease affecting muscle metabolism. In fibromyalgia, for example, research shows that the muscle can become oxygen deprived. Certain studies have concluded that a combination of poor muscle energy metabolism and changes to the capillaries delivering blood to the muscle affect the level of oxygen available to the tissue and its ability to recycle its energy supply efficiently. As in ischemic heart disease, this metabolic insufficiency drains the energy fuel tank leaving the muscle energy starved.
This chronic and persistent energy drain forces a series of cellular reactions ending in muscle pain, soreness, stiffness, and fatigue. In many cases, the pain and fatigue can be severe and highly debilitating. Patients with fibromyalgia, for example, often face the prospect of major changes in their daily quality of life. They are often too fatigued to maintain normal interaction with their friends or family, and may have too much pain to stay active or even keep their jobs. In many cases, these patients must be treated with anti-depressants because of the psychological stress inflicted by their illness, and in virtually every case doctors treat patients only with pain pills that do not treat the underlying cause of the disease.
In both ischemic heart disease and muscle disease, such as fibromyalgia, a major root cause of concern is energy starvation in the affected tissue. These conditions force the affected hearts and muscles to consume energy more quickly than it can be restored, creating a continual energy imbalance. Unfortunately, the metabolic imbalance caused by these conditions cannot be corrected with rest alone. Neither ischemic hearts nor fibromyalgic muscle have the metabolic capacity to recover. That is where ribose comes in. Supplying affected tissues with Ribose stimulates the process of energy recovery and helps hearts and muscles refill their energy tanks. Supplemental ribose allows cells to bypass the slow process of natural Ribose synthesis and accelerates ATP recovery.
While the biochemistry of energy metabolism is complex, it is consistent. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about hearts or muscles, if we are healthy or sick, or if we are old or young, certain consistencies remain. Cells need energy, and that energy is supplied by a continual recycling of the cellular energy reserve. If tissues become oxygen deprived, or if the normal metabolic processes of energy recycling are disrupted, energy demand will outstrip supply and the tissue will become energy starved. Ribose is fundamentally required to restore this lost energy and put the energy demand and supply ratio back in balance. In healthy, normal tissue, several days of rest can rebuild these lost energy pools, but in stressed, diseased, or aging tissue, rest is often not enough. Supplemental ribose will accelerate energy recovery, rebuild cellular energy pools, and restore cell and tissue function. For you this can mean less fatigue, less muscle pain, soreness, or stiffness, greater exercise tolerance, and a higher quality of life.
Clinical Implications of Ribose
Although research revealing the clinical implications of Ribose therapy has been going on for decades, it is a fairly new entrant in clinical medicine. The widespread use of ribose in cardiology began in about 2003 following publication of an important clinical study by the noted cardiologist, Dr. Heyder Omran, at the University of Bonn, Germany.
Over the past decade there have been numerous clinical and laboratory studies that prove the beneficial impact of ribose on stressed tissue. In fact, the number of studies published in the scientific and medical literature now exceeds 100. And research continues, with studies now being conducted at major universities in the U.S. and abroad focusing on heart disease, muscle disease, athletic performance, and improving the supply of blood available. But despite this overwhelming scientific evidence, very few doctors have even heard of ribose. All of them studied ribose in their first year medical school biochemistry class, but few have any idea how it works and even fewer recommend it to patients. Most doctors have been taught to rely on pharmaceutical drugs and consider nutritional support products to be “unscientific” or unsafe, and others simply don’t understand the science. Others, regrettably, are just disinterested, feeling they are too busy seeing patients to stay current in the considerable body of nutrition research reported monthly in major scientific journals. But the number of doctors who are seeing for themselves how ribose can improve the lives of their patients is growing daily. These doctors have proven to themselves that ribose supplementation can, and does, give their patients a new lease on life.
How Do I Know I Need Ribose?
At some point in his or her life, everyone needs supplemental Ribose. We all face situations where ribose supplementation could help us overcome the pain and stiffness of muscle overexertion, the fatigue of chronic disease, the weakness after strenuous exercise, or the inability to do the things we want to do. We all want to be as active and healthy as we can, and we need a full supply of energy in all our cells and tissues to reach that goal.
In each of our lives, we will face times when we need ribose to help our bodies make the energy we need. But our cells and tissues cannot store ribose for future use. Instead, our bodies can only make ribose when it is needed, and that is where the trouble comes in. Remember, although ribose is made naturally in all our cells and tissues, it is a slow process. And it is this delay that limits the speed with which our bodies can restore lost energy. Ribose is the limiting factor in ATP synthesis, and our bodies have an absolute and fundamental need for ATP to fuel the multitude of biochemical reactions that keep us alive and vital. ATP is the fuel of life, and ribose is the foundation upon which ATP is built. Therefore, when our bodies need energy it makes sense to supplement our natural metabolism with ribose. Let’s look at an example to help make this point.
A very important series of animal studies was conducted at the University of Minnesota beginning in the mid-1980s. In these studies, researchers used elaborate surgical techniques to place balloons around the main artery supplying blood to the heart so they could control the blood flow going to the heart tissue, and used delicate measuring devices to record the result. They found when they blew up the balloons and restricted the blood flow to the heart the energy level in the heart tissue would drop quickly, finally leveling at about 50 percent of normal. As might be expected, this energy drain severely impacted heart function. Primarily, the heart would become stiff and would not fill with blood properly. In turn, this reduced the amount of blood that could be pumped to the rest of the body.
When the air was let out of the balloons normal blood flow would return to the heart. But even after blood flow was restored it took these hearts more than 10 days for the energy level to normalize. Interestingly, the function of the heart closely paralleled energy restoration. As with the energy supply, normalization of heart function took more than 10 days. When the animals were given ribose during and following the test, however, the hearts recovered both their energy level and function in an average of 1.2 days! To further prove the ribose effect, in some studies researchers took away the ribose after 24 hours and found that energy and functional recovery reversed. When ribose supplementation was restored, recovery followed suit.
Metabolically what happened was simply this. When the hearts were not given ribose they were forced to make it before they could begin the process of energy restoration. This delayed energy recovery. But giving ribose to these hearts allowed them to bypass the much slower process of making ribose naturally, and the process of energy synthesis was accelerated. Once ribose is present in the cell, either through natural ribose synthesis or supplementation, energy recovery can proceed very quickly. The delay in restoring energy to stressed tissue rests in the rate at which our bodies make ribose naturally.
So, when we consider whether or not we need supplemental Ribose, we should remember some of the simple basics of metabolism. Cells and tissues become stressed when they don’t get enough oxygen or if the normal processes of energy recycling are disrupted. In either case, this stress causes the cells to use energy faster than it can be supplied. This energy supply and demand mismatch causes us to lose energy from our cells and tissues, draining cellular energy reserves and depleting energy stores. To maintain normal cell and tissue function this energy must be restored, and ribose is fundamental to this process. If we are young and healthy and our cells are functioning normally, we can rest and, after several days, we will make enough ribose for our energy levels to be restored. On the other hand, if we are chronically oxygen deprived, or if our cells are not functioning normally, we may never be able to fully recover.
Who Should Take Ribose and When
With these basics in mind it is easy to determine who should take Ribose, and when. Anyone with a highly active lifestyle, for example, can certainly benefit from ribose. High-intensity exercising three or more times per week puts a substantial strain on hearts and muscles. Repeated bouts of strenuous exercise drains energy from hearts and muscles, leaving them weakened for the next exercise session. When athletes take ribose before, during, and after exercise, however, they can better maintain the energy in their muscles and quickly restore any energy that may have been lost. In this way, athletes can keep their hearts and muscles in top physiological condition for their next exercise session.
But what defines an athlete or a strenuous bout of exercise? The answer to that question depends on the individual. For top athletes, high-intensity exercise may be defined as a long distance run or several miles on their bike over hilly terrain. For most, however, strenuous exercise may be much less intense. Some one who is normally sedentary, for example, might face several days of muscle soreness, stiffness, and weakness following a day of hard work in the garden or a weekend softball game. Others who might be a little older or perhaps have problems with their circulation may complain of sore legs after only a short walk or a day of shopping. No matter where you fall along this spectrum, however, what is happening in your muscle is the same. Your muscle is fully consuming the available energy, and that energy drain translates to weak, spongy, and sore muscles. This muscle soreness does not go away until the muscle has recovered its energy balance. Ribose supplementation helps maintain the muscle’s energy balance and can be the answer to relieving this post-exertional muscle soreness and stiffness
Age is another factor to consider when deciding if ribose supplementation is right for you. Research has shown as we age our muscles lose energy recycling efficiency. Aging muscle generally has fewer of the energy recycling powerhouses, called mitochondria, than younger muscle. The continual loss of mitochondria as we age makes it more likely our muscles will run out of energy with exertion. This is a primary reason when we become older we become stiff and sore after only mild exercise, and explains why we run out of gas so quickly. Also, as we age our hearts begin to show more and more signs of dysfunction. A recent research report from the Mayo Clinic, showed almost 25 percent of the population, both male and female, showed signs of heart failure, and the percentage increased as people grew older. While this effect was more pronounced in people with high blood pressure or in those with heart valve problems, it was found across the aging population. Taking ribose regularly may help relieve the chronic muscle soreness and stiffness that comes from even mild exercise and, as has been shown in many clinical studies, could help maintain healthy energy levels in the heart.
We also need to include patients with heart disease when considering who should take Ribose. Research has proven, heart disease drains the heart of much needed energy. This is especially true in patients who are taking drugs to make their hearts beat more strongly. These drugs, called inotropes, force the heart to beat, causing it to consume even more energy. As such, over time these hearts can become severely energy starved. It is important that people with heart disease take ribose regularly to offset the effects of energy drain in their hearts. This is particularly true of patients on inotropic drugs. These patients face a continual energy drain that cannot be overcome with rest alone, and they should discuss this issue with their doctors. Research has shown ribose can be taken effectively with drugs, without losing any of the therapeutic benefit of either the drug or the ribose.
When we think about heart and circulatory diseases in the broader sense the benefit of Ribose supplementation on maintaining energy levels cannot be overstated. Hearts and muscles rely heavily on oxygen to fuel the process of energy recycling. When they are deprived of oxygen our hearts and muscles become energy starved. This energy drain can have a severe impact on heart and muscle function, and this impact becomes progressively more severe as oxygen deprivation and energy loss continues over a prolonged period of time. This effect is well-known in a wide range of cardiovascular diseases including congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, certain types of cardiomyopathy, certain diseases affecting heart valves, and peripheral vascular disease, a condition that restricts blood flow to the limbs, especially the legs.
Patients with diseases that impact muscle metabolism should also seriously consider ribose supplementation. Diseases such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, myoadenylate deaminase disease, and McArdle’s disease, for example, drain energy from muscles, and this energy drain shows itself in the form of fatigue, muscle pain, soreness, and stiffness. Patients are also frequently weak and have a great deal of trouble performing the simple tasks of daily living. Ribose has been shown in clinical studies to help offset all these symptoms. By supplementing with ribose, patients give their muscles the chance to overcome the energy drain and refill their energy fuel tanks.
All of us need energy—lots of energy. Whether we are healthy or sick, top-level athletes or couch potatoes, stressed out professionals or grandparents wanting to spend an active day with their grandchildren, our bodies must rely on energy to keep them alive and vital. Most of us don’t know we have a problem with the energy in our hearts and muscles until we get sore legs, worn out, or chronically fatigued. But even after these symptoms hit us, it is not too late. Ribose supplementation can quickly help replace energy in stressed hearts and muscles, and help maintain the normal energy balance in our tissue.
How Much Ribose Should I Take?
Studies have shown that virtually any amount of Ribose you can give to stressed hearts and muscles will help. A very important study investigating this question was conducted at the University of Missouri in the laboratory of the noted muscle physiologist, Dr. Ronald Terjung. This study proved even very small amounts of ribose, an amount that approximately equaled 500 milligrams (one-half of one gram) if taken orally, increased the energy recovery in stressed leg muscle by 100 percent. Raising the dose to a level that would approximately equal 2.5 grams if taken orally increased recovery by about 250 percent, and the equivalent of a five-gram dose increased the recovery rate by a whopping 350 percent. At the maximum dose tested, the recovery increased by as much as 650 percent.
The amount of Ribose you should take is really dependent on what you want it to do. For example, if you simply want to give your heart and muscles a little boost so you can be sure they are maintaining a healthy energy pool, you can get by with less. If you want to increase your athletic performance, reduce soreness and stiffness following exercise, or give your muscles a recovery boost after some strenuous work or exercise, you might need a little more. If you need help overcoming the effects of persistent fatigue or chronic muscle pain, still more may be needed. And, if you have heart disease, peripheral vascular disease or other chronic conditions that impact energy metabolism in your heart or muscles, more aggressive supplementation may be required.
To get to the point of how much ribose should be taken, I offer the following suggestions on dosage:
- 2 to 5 grams (about one-half to one slightly rounded teaspoonful of powder) daily to help hearts and muscles maintain a healthy energy pool.
- 5 to 7 grams (about one level to slightly rounded tablespoonful of powder) every day as a preventative in cardiovascular disease, for athletes who want to recover faster from high-intensity exercise, and for healthy people doing strenuous work or activities that are outside their normal level of daily exercise.
- 7 to 10 grams daily for most patients with heart disease or peripheral vascular disease, for patients recovering from heart surgery or heart attack, and for athletes who work out frequently in high-intensity activities.
- 0 to 15 grams daily for patients with more advanced heart disease, patients awaiting heart transplant, and patients with fibromyalgia or neuromuscular disease.
I suggest that patients with heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, fibromyalgia or other muscle diseases begin taking ribose in the upper level of the range. Once they see for themselves that ribose supplementation is helping, they can reduce the daily dose until they find the level that is exactly right for them. It is also recommended that daily doses not be taken all at once. Actually, smaller more frequent doses are better than larger less frequent doses. Therefore, if you want to take daily doses of 10-grams or less, I suggest you take ribose two times per day. For most of us, the best time to take ribose is with morning and evening meals, but if we want to take ribose for exercise it should be taken just before and just after the exercise or activity. If you think you should take 15-grams of ribose per day, I suggest you take it in three equal doses, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although there are no safety concerns with taking ribose (it is, after all, a simple carbohydrate), I do not recommend taking more than 20-grams per day. If you do not feel the benefit of ribose supplementation at that level, you don’t need it. Once they have given their hearts and muscles a chance to regain their energy balance, most people stabilize at about 10-grams per day.
It generally takes no more than a few days to feel the effect of ribose supplementation. Some people report an improvement in symptoms much more quickly, often in just a day or two. If you don’t begin to feel an effect after two or three days, try increasing the dose. Remember, your heart and muscles continually burn energy, and it is possible that the smaller Ribose dose is simply not enough to overcome the persistent energy drain. The sickest patients usually feel the greatest benefit, but almost everyone taking ribose regularly reports a significant benefit. You should also remember that your energy drain is chronic and ribose cannot be stored in your cells and tissues. Therefore, if you stop taking ribose you will lose all the benefit you’ve gained and your heart or muscles will again become energy starved. As a result, you must take ribose every day, and you must keep on taking it. While this sounds like a commercial for the ribose companies, it is not. Instead, it is hard-learned advice from the reports of hundreds of people who now take ribose religiously.
Where is Ribose Found?
Ribose is found in many product forms, such as powders, beverages, nutrition bars, and tablets. As a practical matter, therapeutic levels are found only in powders. An effective dose of ribose, two or more grams, is simply too much to put in tablets or capsules, so I recommend staying away from those dose forms. Beverages and nutrition bars tend to contain about one-half to one gram of ribose, so in normal healthy people looking to maintain the energy level in their tissue these products may be adequate. For disease patients, however, the amount that is given in beverages and nutrition bars is simply not high enough to give a therapeutic benefit. Hopefully, this will change in the future as food and nutrition companies increase the dose level per serving of their products. For now, though, I suggest powders or chewable tablets (wafers) as the best product forms to supply consistently adequate dose levels.
Although I usually don’t recommend one supplier of a product over another, I feel I should do so here. One company, Bioenergy Life Science (Minneapolis, Minnesota) has exhaustively studied both the benefits and possible adverse reactions of ribose supplementation. To the best of my knowledge, they are the only ribose company to have done so. Therefore, all the safety data that has been supplied to regulatory agencies has come from this company. These safety assessments have shown that ribose is 100 percent safe if it is taken as directed and manufactured according to the strict specifications of Bioenergy Life Science.
To confirm the safety of Ribose an expert panel of food and nutrition scientists has concluded that it is Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) according to the guidelines established by the U.S. Food and Drug 14 D-Ribose
Administration. This is the highest level of safety affirmation available and with this GRAS affirmation ribose can be safely used in both foods and clinical nutrition products. It is important to note, however, that only ribose manufactured according to the specific process Bioenergy Life Science carries this GRAS affirmation. Like all other nutrition and drug products, the quality of manufacturing is paramount in assuring both safety and effectiveness.
Although there are no known side effects, Bioenergy Life Science recommends that pregnant women ask their doctor before taking ribose. Insulin dependent diabetics should also carefully monitor their blood glucose levels after taking their first several doses. Ribose is a carbohydrate and, as a result, you would expect that it would increase your blood glucose level. In fact, ribose slightly decreases blood glucose level, and that is what should be monitored.
There are very few reports of side effects while taking ribose. Some people have reported being light headed if they take doses greater than 10-grams on an empty stomach. That is why label instructions suggest that ribose be taken with juice or another beverage that contains some additional carbohydrate. Sprinkling ribose on fruit or cereal is also a good way to take it, or, if it is taken with a meal, it can be mixed with water, tea, or coffee. Another reported side effect reported by people taking large doses is loose stools or mild diarrhea. This is common with any carbohydrate that absorbs water, as does ribose. Neither side effect is significant, and neither is found when ribose is taken as directed. Ribose is also safe to take with your usual medicine and with other nutritional therapies. There have not been any reported drug or nutritional interactions with ribose supplementation.
Tens of thousands of people now take Ribose every day. They are feeling for themselves how this energy-giving nutrient can change their lives. Ribose stands alone as a nutrient that can increase the energy level in hearts and muscles, and restore energy that is depleted by over-exertion or disease that robs cells and tissues of the energy they need to survive and thrive. No other compound, whether it is a drug or other nutrient, can do what ribose does in the body. Only ribose can accelerate the complex metabolism that restores energy in our bodies, making it one of the most profound nutrients to ever be introduced.
This article is excerpted from “The Top 20 Life-Changing Nutrients You Shouldn’t Live Without” by Dr. Ward Bond. Dr. Bond graduated Clayton College of Natural Health, Birmingham, Alabama with a doctor of philosophy degree in holistic nutrition and has a chartered herbalist degree from Dominion Herbal College. He is the author of several additional books including “Dr. Ward Bond’s Vitamin, Mineral & Antioxidant Guide” and “The Healing Fields.” Visit his website at www.drwardbond.com.
OURS IS A POLLUTED WORLD. At home, at work, at school we are likely to be exposed to substances that can sicken and even kill us. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat—all can be contaminated with toxins that threaten our health. Other things we use in our daily lives—prescription drugs, lawn and garden chemicals, and household cleaners—often can have toxic effects that their labels do not disclose. Of the 50–60 thousand chemicals available to industry, only a few hundred have been tested for safety. Yet thousands of others have chemical structures that virtually guarantee they are toxic to humans. Consequently, we all carry a “total toxic load” from all the toxins to which we are exposed.
Many of us are not aware we are carrying a toxic load. While some toxic substances can be immediately harmful others can be insidious, doing their damage over months and years. Toxins can drain our life energy and make us fatigued, impair our workplace productivity, promote cancer and dementia, and other killer diseases over the long term. Up to 90 percent of all cancers are linked to the environmental carcinogens coming from cigarette smoke, water, food and air. Unless we become vigilant and learn how to protect ourselves against toxins, odds are we won’t live to a ripe old age. To be healthy and enjoy optimal wellness, we must be free of toxins.
To know what you’re really up against, it’s important to grasp the realities:
- Our modern environment is widely penetrated by toxins, not just in areas close to industry but virtually everywhere humans live and work.
- Toxins cannot be thought of in isolation from each other. Each toxin adds to other toxins’ negative effects (“cumulative damage”). Sometimes toxins multiply each other’s negative effects (“synergistic damage”).
- Toxins don’t respect neighborhood or national borders, or even continental separations.
- While a high exposure to one toxin can be harmful, low exposures to many toxins also can do serious damage.
Let’s now consider these realities as they apply to daily living.
Multiple Low Toxic Exposures Build Total Toxic Load
A toxin is any substance that can damage the body. As a rule, the damage from any toxin is dose related: the greater the exposure, the greater the damage. Toxicology experts developed the idea of a “threshold dose”—the dose above which an “average” person will experience harmful effects that can be measured. But under certain circumstances, low doses—doses below the threshold dose—also can damage our health. One individual may be more sensitive to toxins than the “average” person? Another individual may suffer a toxic exposure while suffering from a viral infection or some other situation that has lowered his resistance to toxic attack. Someone else may become exposed to multiple toxins at the same time. Toxicology is not very good at predicting how such special circumstances will worsen toxins’ effects on health.
The damaging effects from relatively low exposures to more than one toxin could likely be just as harmful, perhaps more harmful, than exposure to relatively high levels of just one toxin. For example, large-scale surveys have found that Americans carry more than 100 potentially toxic chemicals in their blood. Each of these could have cumulative or synergistic effects with the others.
There is considerable scientific and medical evidence that total toxic load is a valid concept. This concept mandates that we do everything we can to avoid being exposed to toxins—to ANY toxin in ANY amount at ANY time. With the planet so permeated with toxins, many of them implicated in cancers, cardiovascular diseases, allergies, brain diseases, fatigue, and many other conditions of poor health, it’s important to recognize this threat and pursue a lifestyle of toxin awareness and avoidance. Let’s be real: two of the most damaging toxins are the lifestyle toxins alcohol and cigarette smoke.
The Obvious Toxins: Lethal But Avoidable
You can begin to win freedom from toxins by making a detailed listing of the toxins in your everyday environment. Begin with a self-assessment: do you smoke? If you do, be aware that smoking is responsible for more than 80 percent of all cases of lung cancer and increases the risk of heart and other circulatory diseases by at least 400 percent. One puff of cigarette smoke contains 100,000,000,000,000 (10 to the power of 14) free radicals. Almost as bad, do you live with someone who smokes? If you do, be aware that the smoke coming off the end of the cigarette is likely to be more toxic than what the smoker inhales because the carcinogens coming off the end are less thoroughly burned away.
How much alcohol do you drink? If your answer is more than one glass of wine or one beer each day, you’re probably drinking too much. Don’t be influenced by the studies industry lobbies cite about alcohol being good for health. For the highly touted French Red Wine Paradox independent scientific support is shaky. In any case, lots of other drinks (teas, for example, and fruit juices) carry more protective antioxidants and no potentially toxic alcohol. Cigarette smoke and alcohol are the greatest obvious toxic threats to human health, yet they are the easiest for committed individuals to control.
Among the drugs, whether legal or illegal, none is fully and unconditionally safe to take. Whether the legal drug Tylenol®, the semi-legal marijuana, or the illegal MDMA (“Ecstasy”), drugs drain the body’s energy and deplete its nutrients. Many of them burn away our protective antioxidants.
Watch out for the household cleaners. Bleach, ammonia, other constituents of high-strength cleaners all can irritate the lungs and initiate tissue breakdown, contributing to hypersensitivity and asthma. Bug sprays typically are toxic to the human nervous system just as they are to the bug’s nervous system. Learn to read every single label of every single chemical product you use in your everyday life; check ingredients you don’t know against online lists of known toxins. If you can’t pronounce the name of the chemical, it’s probably synthetic and more than likely to be toxic. This brings up the topic of the not so obvious, hidden toxins.
The Hidden Toxins: Hard to Eliminate
Some toxins are insidious: though known to be toxic by specialists they can be obscured from public knowledge due to political pressures by corporations that profit from their use. Heavy metals, solvents, pesticides and other synthetic chemicals fall into this category. The hundreds—no, thousands—of substances in these categories are negatively impacting the health of all of us.
According to the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, authored by Drs. M. T. Murray and J. T. Pizzorno, up to 25 percent of the U.S. population suffers from some degree of heavy metal poisoning. They have stated that probably at least 600,000 tons of lead are released into the U.S. atmosphere each year. Numerous human studies have shown a strong relationship between learning disabilities or criminal behavior and the toxic load of lead and other heavy metals.
Mercury, cadmium and aluminum are toxic metals also common in the human experience. Cadmium comes mainly from cigarette smoke; aluminum comes from cookware and deodorants and is even used as flow agents in table salt. Cadmium has been linked to neurological diseases and aluminum to degeneration of the kidneys, bones, and possibly also the brain. Mercury is still being used in dental fillings (inaccurately known as silver fillings), even though it is known to vaporize from the fillings during chewing and enter the general circulation to threaten the brain and other organs. It’s so weird that the regulators now require the dental technicians who handle and dispose of the dental filling materials to wear protective clothing while they do so, yet the very same material is allowed to stay in people’s mouths for decades.
Among the most toxic and carcinogenic substances are the organic solvents. These are widely used industrially and find their way into the air, the water, the soils, and our foods. In a now-classic scientific review, Dr. Walter Crinnion documented that every single person in the U.S. carries deposits of xylene, dichlorobenzene, ethylphenol and styrene in their fatty tissues (Alternative Medicine Review, 2000, Vol. 5, pages 133–43). These are so-called VOCs (volatile organic compounds), all toxic and linked to life-threatening diseases. The story gets worse: a 1985 study by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency established that breath samples consistently contained not just these four VOCs but also seven others (see sidebar). And where do these toxins come from? Most often, the home and the workplace.
The indoor home and workplace environment carries a hodgepodge of VOCs, organic by-products of combustion, breathable particles of molds, cigarette smoke, and infectious agents, along with allergenic animal dander, bio-aerosols and countless other contaminants generated by human (and pet) activity. Building materials are known to emit many VOCs, and new carpeting is often a vehicle for toxins.
Talk about total toxic load! The EPA itself was once picketed by its own workers and forced to replace 27,000 square yards of toxin-filled carpet. Dr. Crinnion published a list of 40 toxic chemicals present in new carpet. Toddlers can be playing in carpet dust that frequently carries 11 pesticides: DDT, aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, atrazine, carbaryl, heptachlor, chlorpyrifos, o-phenylphenol, proxopur and diazinon. All these are immune system toxins and some are known carcinogens as well. What to do about these toxins? Ask lots of questions about your building and the materials in it.
Sometimes a building is so contaminated that the carpets and/or other materials will have to be ripped out and replaced. This is called SBS (sick building syndrome). Buildings ought to always be well ventilated and not draw their air from garages or through contaminated HEPA air filters (which can harbor infectious organisms such as the lethal Legionella). Air cleaners can be set up to help remove VOCs, pesticides, cigarette smoke and other chemicals outgassing from the walls and carpets. Indoor houseplants may help—some are particularly adept at removing organic pollutants from indoor air. It may be necessary to set up precautions against tracking in outdoor soil from chemically sprayed fields or lawns. Golf courses should be checked out—some of their groundskeepers believe in better grass through chemicals.
Food Toxicities: Highly Underrated
Among the most insidious sources of toxins are in the foods we eat. It’s no secret that today’s food supplies are adulterated, impotent and contaminated beyond reasonable expectation, but most of us don’t know just how badly we’re being hurt by foods that we trust. Most egregious is that slaughtered cows are often found to be contaminated with a disease causing strain of Escherichia coli bacterium. We tend to think of food toxicity on this level, but just as much toxicity is occurring on the more subtle level of allergies and intolerances to foods.
Food allergy reactions (more accurately, food intolerances) are difficult to manage because they involve complex biochemical cascades that trigger wide-ranging symptoms. Often these set in motion inflammatory cascades that can lead to more serious illness. Also once begun, the food intolerance reactions can develop and continue over a period of days to weeks, making it harder to identify the foods that are the actual reaction triggers. As a rule, the foods to which we are most drawn are those to which we are most likely intolerant.
Elson M. Haas, MD has written a number of books on eliminating allergenic and otherwise toxic foods from the daily diet. Most people, sometimes even trained health professionals, fail to recognize their own food intolerances, allergies and addictions. Decades of experience have taught Dr. Haas that negative reactions to foods can cause tissue swelling, bloating, weight gain, low energy, depressed mood and numerous other metabolic disturbances, including the dangerous leaky gut syndrome. Food toxicities can intensify virtually any coexisting health problem, including asthma, chronic pain, memory impairment, hyperactivity disorders in children. Antioxidants and antioxidant cofactor nutrients are central to food detoxication.
Our children are perhaps the most victimized by the deterioration of modern foods. Many of the middle ear infections seen in children are linked to inflammatory reactions initiated by allergies to dairy and other common foods. Artificial colorings, MSG (monosodium glutamate) and preservatives in processed foods can cause headaches, abdominal pain, even fits, in sensitive children. Aspartame is still underrated for its potential toxic effects. Sugar can be toxic for many children: among hyperactive kids as many as three-quarters have abnormal blood sugar responses to a sugary meal. Hyperactive kids also commonly have allergies to foods containing soybean and chocolate. Children not diagnosed hyperactive also can have food intolerances that affect their learning and mental vigilance and their susceptibility to infections.
“Overactive” children have been estimated to number 10 percent or more of the U.S. school age population. It may not be a coincidence that the incidence of hyperactive “ADD” kids has been steadily increasing as the food supply becomes more processed and chemicalized. So has the incidence of children with learning disorders and autism. Children who are raised to consciously avoid toxic foods are likely to develop better, learn better and be less susceptible to asthma and allergy in adulthood.
Supporting the Liver for Everyday Cleansing
The liver is our main resource for detoxication—clearing the body of toxins. The liver detoxifies potential toxins produced by our own metabolism, as well as the xenobiotics—substances foreign to the body. Although all the other organs take part in detoxication, the buck really stops with the liver. To be proactive in reducing your toxic load, you have to help your liver through taking the relevant dietary supplements.
The liver is the body’s metabolic workhorse, being the main organ responsible for more than 500 metabolic processes. One of its top priorities is the processing of newly-absorbed food molecules, which come to the liver directly from the intestine. These must be further processed and then stored as necessary, or repackaged for transport to the tissues. As newly digested proteins, carbohydrates and fats reach the liver, together with vitamins and minerals, it further modifies them into biochemically active nutrient units suitable to support crucial metabolic pathways.
Hormones regulate and coordinate the body’s integrated activities. The recycling or excretion of the many human hormones is handled mainly by the liver, as is the recycling of cholesterol. Pharmaceutical drugs can deplete the body of essential nutrients and liver failure can be the result (here acetaminophen/Tylenol® is the classic example). Illegal drugs can be just as tough on the liver—witness cocaine’s toxicity. Chronic viral infections also contribute to total toxic load, and for millions of people carrying viruses in their livers, nutritional support for the liver is crucial.
Synthetic substances—substances made by man—by their very nature are difficult for the liver to clear. Thousands of different synthetics can enter the body on a daily basis. As if this weren’t bad enough, even the most organically grown foods can naturally carry potentially-toxic constituents. When we think in terms of total toxic load, we can understand why optimal functioning of the liver’s detoxication systems is fundamental to our health and wellness.
Detoxication capacity varies widely between individuals, and a toxic exposure that one person can effectively detoxify may cause liver damage or cancer in another. Fortunately the liver is tough, maintaining itself well and working hard to recover from injury. But to function at its best the liver must have generous nutritional support.
The physical foundation for the thousands of liver enzymes is provided by the cell membrane systems of the liver cells. PC (phosphatidylcholine) is a critical nutrient building block for this intricate molecular system. The liver relies heavily on antioxidants and antioxidant cofactors for its crucial detoxication work, so supplementation with vitamins B, C, E and glutathione precursors has top priority. The herbal milk thistle extract help conserve the liver’s antioxidant supplies, but is poorly absorbed unless in the phytosome form. S-adenosyl methionine is important for methylation reactions that facilitate healthy gene-level metabolic regulation.
For effective liver detoxication support these supplements should be part of your personal nutritional program:
- B complex vitamins, 100 mg/day
- Vitamins C (2–4 grams/day) and E (800 IU/day)
- Glutathione precursors: R alpha-lipoic acid (minimum 100mg/day), N-acetylcysteine (NAC, minimum 600 mg/day)
- Taurine, minimum 500 mg/day
- PhosphatidylCholine (PC), minimum 800 mg/day
- Milk thistle extract, standardized, phytosome form, 200 - 400 mg/day
- SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine), minimum 100 mg/day.
Liver support always should be in concert with intestinal support, including good choices of water-soluble fiber and especially the repletion of probiotic (“friendly”) bacteria. The importance of probiotics for intestinal health and detoxication cannot be overemphasized. Exercise helps improve circulation to the liver and intestines to speed detoxication, and sweating helps move fat-soluble toxins such as organochlorines and some heavy metals out via the skin. Make sure that any plan for fasting you develop is discussed in advance with your physician, because extreme fasting can exacerbate toxic damage.
Freedom From Toxins: Individual and Community
As you learn how to go about freeing yourself from toxins, remember that any level of exposure to a toxin can be harmful. Just as cigarette smoke can be avoided, so can bug sprays, artificial scents applied to the body and used around the home, pesticides and household cleaners with solvents, typing correction fluids, artificial fingernails glued on with acrylics, solvent-based paints. Any one of these categories of toxins can pose a major challenge to health and none can be too minor to ignore because they all contribute to the total toxic load.
Working on your own, you can do a lot to minimize your exposures to lifestyle toxins or toxins coming from your home or workplace. But you also must be aware of what’s going on in your community. After all, you can work hard to be toxin-free in your tidy little home but then what happens when it is invaded by toxic influences from somewhere else? The clothes you pick up at the dry cleaner may be carrying highly toxic tetrachloroethylene. The water supplies from your community utility may be contaminated. Your friendly neighbor with his immaculate lawn may not know that those unpronounceable words on the label of his lawn and garden killer stand for chemicals that are highly toxic to all living things.
Toxins Don’t Have Borders
No community (or country) is an island. Unscrupulous chemical companies often pick on poor communities to dump their wastes, but those same wastes can migrate into rich communities. The same can happen between countries. DDT was banned in the U.S. in the 1970s but is still sprayed on crops in certain other countries. It poisons their people first, then it travels on fruits and vegetables to poison us in our homes. As this article goes to press, there is high drama attached to the huge earthquake and tsunami that severely damaged nuclear reactors and caused radiation releases in Japan. Higher radiation has been found in California and Massachusetts. But did you know that much more dangerous toxic releases are already coming into the U.S. via the atmosphere?
The April 2011 issue of Discover magazine carried an article titled “Ill Wind Blowing.” This article described intensive scientific investigations that led to the discovery that hundreds of tons of mercury, toxic sulfates, ozone, carbon soot, even dust carrying avian flu virus, are carried into U.S. communities from Asia each year. Mercury alone has been linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and it’s very likely that more mercury enters the U.S. from other countries than is emitted by American industry (though American emissions are still a significant problem).
Mercury and other highly toxic pollutants, along with the radiation from Japan, actually seem to have a global circulation, which means that we’re all sharing the toxins made anywhere on the planet. Total toxic load for sure! We really need a strong international body to enforce zero tolerance of toxic emissions, because industry and government still don’t understand or care about total toxic load. In my community, nearby oil refineries release toxic gases then report to local government that the release was “below the levels recognized as toxic.”
To achieve true freedom from toxins, we have to be conscious of the threat they pose, be educated about this threat, and actively work to eliminate them. To effectively protect ourselves and our families we have to protect the earth as a whole. As the debates proceed on oil dependency, alternative fuels, and nuclear power versus other power sources, we need to band together against the local and planetary total toxic load. Humanity around the world must band together to rid the planet of toxins.
Infertility is becoming widespread these days but in the early 1900's, families with five children or more were commonplace. A century later, we now have fertility clinics available to women who want to just have one child. Infertility treatment is expensive and painful for couples who often become desperate after years of failed treatments. One common overlooked reason is low DHEA levels. DHEA is short for DeHydroEpiAndrosterone.
This is the "fountain of youth" hormone and it's a natural adrenal hormone which peaks at age 25, then steadily declines as we age. DHEA can be converted into testosterone and estrogen. Less DHEA means less of these sex hormones. Blood or saliva tests are available to gauge DHEA levels which must be in balance with other adrenal hormones, especially cortisol. High cortisol will cause you to hold on to belly fat.
Cortisol goes up in response to stress. Remember, these two are supposed to be in balance, like a see-saw. So you can see where I'm going with this. Cortisol climbs up and up in many women given the fast paced 21st century non-stop information overload, lack of sleep, caffeine, work-related stress, financial obligations or relationship stress. When it comes time to have a baby, cortisol could be high while DHEA levels may be seriously tanked! Some signs and symptoms include bad PMS (premenstrual syndrome), fatigue, brain fog, mood swings or high cholesterol.
But wait, the fertility doctor told you it was a low count of eggs! Yes that could be true, it's technically termed "Low Functional Ovarian Reserve" or LFOR, which could occur from aging ovaries. At puberty, you may have had 250,000 to 500,000 eggs, but by age 37 perhaps there are 25,000 eggs, and by the time you hit menopause you may have less than 1,000 eggs. If you have LFOR, a specialist in this field will often complement in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with DHEA supplements and/or testosterone medications. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Ovarian Research research supports it. Female participants received 75 mg of DHEA for three consecutive menstrual cycles prior to IVF experiences. Those who received DHEA had more embryos leading to more successful pregnancies. But don't supplement with DHEA by yourself, dosing is dependent on many factors, especially genes which I study every day.
Your response and metabolism of DHEA is dependent on your personal genetic variants meaning supplementation can be good or bad depending on your genes. Cellular and animal studies show that SNPs in any of the following genes affect your metabolism of DHEA: Aromatase, steroid 5?-reductase, sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG), fragile X mental retardation protein and breast cancer type 1 (BRCA1 gene) can affect levels of androgens in women. Short of screening yourself for all potential genetic variants, I think it's better for you to just do hormonal assessments to see if you have low DHEA or low testosterone.
I've been a pharmacist for 25 years now. Let's face, I know the good, the bad and the ugly drugs. I know we need some of them, and I know that others are not useful, or worse, they are harmful. So today I've decided to share the best remedies that help from head to toe:
Headaches- Taking butterbur (Petasites hybridus) at a dose of 75mg twice daily helps reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. You can take all the triptan drugs you want (ie Imitrex, Zomig or others) but these drugs usually just reduce pain, sometimes they abort a headache. The butterbur may slash the number of attacks in half. This is HUGE if you have to hold down a job or take care of kiddos. I discussed butterbur and dozens of other solutions my book, Headache Free.
Hypothyroidism- It's impossible to have healthy thyroid function without selenium. Not only will it hinder your ability to make thyroid hormone, it will also stifle your ability to use the hormone inside the cell. There's more about selenium, iodine, B12 and ashwagandha at my website where I archive other articles on thyroid health.
Heart Failure- Niacin (vitamin B3) was found to reduce heart attack and stroke risk in a 2010 study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Doses vary tremendously, so please do nothing until you have your physician's approval. Niacin causes vasodilation (opens vessels) which reduces arterial pressure. I would be remiss if I didn't mention CoQ10 while discussing the heart or heart failure. CoQ10 also lowers blood pressure. I like about 100 to 200 mg daily but again, please always ask your doctor what's right for you.
Digestive disorders- My number one go-to supplement is probiotics. These improve digestion and support a healthy immune system and mood. Digestive enzymes break down the food you eat into absorbable molecules. For heartburn, I recommend slippery elm or marshmallow root. As for nausea and vomiting, ginger tea is gentle and popular. It's a mild blood thinner though, so be careful. And finally peppermint supplements can help with irritable bowel syndrome. The value of peppermint has been discussed many times, even in the British Medical Journal in 2008.
Bone loss- We all know about calcium. But did you know without enough magnesium, vitamin D or K2, you don't even incorporate the calcium into your bones?! So keep in mind the best bone-building supplements contain key minerals, you don't just push one like calcium all by itself. Natural strontium is another over-the-counter mineral used for bone integrity.
Painful knees- Glucosamine sulfate promotes cartilage formation. Collagen is another supplement that reduces pain in the knee joint of osteoarthritis sufferers. A 2012 study in the Annals of Rheumatic Disease found that losing weight helped reduce the amount of cartilage loss while increasing proteoglycan content (squishiness).
Toenail fungus- Apply essential oil of tea tree, and eliminate all sugars. You should also be checked for diabetes if you have a lot of toenail fungus.
Many of you take bisphosphonate drugs for bone loss and you write to me with complaints. Lawyers handle cases now due to the reports of catastrophic reactions like osteonecrosis or femur fractures. It's a terrible irony.
Here's another idea. Nobiletin. This is different than strontium which I've written about before. Nobiletin is a powerful "polymethoxylated" flavonoid that comes from the white stringy fiber and peel of citrus fruits (termed "pith"). You probably spit that out, throw it away or put it in your compost pile don't you? Tangerines and Mandarin oranges have awesome amounts of nobiletin, however other citrus rinds such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit also contain nobiletin.
Nobiletin has been researched extensively over the last 10 to 15 years. It positively impacts cholesterol and reduces inflammation. Great news for those struggling with atherosclerosis and heart disease, or those of you supported on statin cholesterol drugs. Nobiletin also blocks the NF kappaB pathway which induces pain. Nobiletin has anti-cancer activity, confers brain protection and improved symptoms of Alzheimer's in an animal model. Since I'm already on a tangent, I'll also tell you that adolescents and adults dealing with acne may benefit by nobiletin because it blocks sebum production. Now, let me circle back to your skeleton.
Bone loss in humans occurs as the result of one of two things. Either your bone cells fail to make new bone, or you break down old bone too quickly. There needs to be a steady balance: Discard old bone, make new bone, discard old bone, make new bone. You probably didn't realize your bones are not solid, they are dynamic throughout your lifetime.
Two major players affect the process of bone building. One is inflammation and the other is estrogen. Chronic low grade inflammation and/or too little estrogen contribute to osteoporosis.
Research published in the Journal of Pharmacological Science showed very promising evidence of nobiletin on bone health. Scientists used rodents that had their ovaries removed (which causes estrogen deficiency). Nobiletin was given, and stopped the progression of osteoporosis. Not only that, it significantly restored bone mass in severely osteroporotic critters!
How you wonder? This natural citrus derived antioxidant suppressed pathways responsible for inflammation, namely the COX2, NF-kappa B, and prostaglandin pathways. Just amazing when you think about the potential harm done by bisphosphonate drugs given by conventional physicians. By no means am I saying an orange a day will keep the hip fracture away! But regular consumption of citrus fruits or pith-derived supplements might help, and can usually be taken with certain medications (not all). Ask doc if it's okay for you, and look online or at health food stores nationwide. It's sold as Sytrinol, or as "citrus bioflavonoids" and I want you to be real careful because some of the products contain "naringen" which comes from grapefruit and this compound can dangerously spike your blood levels of medications. My point is self-treatment with natural dietary supplements -even wonderful ones- may not be right for you. Find yourself a holistic-minded practitioner to ask.
Are you worried about painful cold sores? They are highly contagious. If you kiss someone with a cold sore, or drink from their cup, you could get it too. I don't personally get them, so last week, I inwardly freaked out when the woman who was giving me a much-needed manicure had two large blisters on her lips. This incident made me wonder what I would do if I had these painful sores, and how can I help you with them.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) which belongs to a large family of herpes pathogens which cause chicken pox, shingles or keratitis (can cause corneal blindness). Millions of folks carry herpes viruses, and the cold sores in particular are not only embarrassing, but painful too. Oral herpes causes cold sores on the lips, inside the roof of your mouth or on your gums. Genital herpes causes lesions where the sun don't shine. Either way, ouch!
You can get it if someone touches their sore, then you; you can get it sharing utensils or kissing and making out. Once inside your body, your immune system jumps to it and hopefully it's just a single episode. If your immune system is sluggish, you're in for a lifelong battle with frequent outbreaks. The frequency is impacted by your diet, lifestyle and immune strength (which is dependent on having healthy intestinal flora).
Running yourself into the ground with chronic stress or worry can activate the virus and cause lesions. Pulling all-nighters, eating candy bars, drinking alcohol, smoking, eating white flour goodies and junk food can increase risk. Ingesting foods you are intolerant to, or being deficient in probiotics can increase those flare-ups. Diets high in arginine are thought to activate herpes so avoid avoid all nuts, cashews, chocolate, cereal, lentils and sunflower seeds.
Antiviral drugs like acyclovir or Valtrex are commonly used to treat HSV infections. Unfortunately, there are increasing problems with drug resistance, similar to the problem with antibiotics and superbugs. If you do take the antiviral drug and use them long term, often there are plenty of side effects and potential damage to the kidneys and liver. I'm passionate about natural remedies, so here's a few to ponder:
Lemon balm. I'd make a tea out of this, and drink it. Let the herb steep (not boil) for about 15 minutes then drink. I'd also apply it to your sore with a cotton pad. You can cool the tea first to make it feel better upon application.
Curcumin. It's well known for antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial power but it also fights HSV which means it could help you reduce the frequency and severity of your infection. We have a study to show that. Supplement, or try applying a mini-poultice to your lip sore by mixing turmeric spice with just enough water to form a paste. For extra effect, dump a little curcumin powder from your capsule into the mixture.
Lavender and myrrh. Buy both of those and combine them, apply to the sore. Dilute if it stings.
For more natural remedies, come to my website, www.SuzyCohen.com and sign up for my newsletter. You'll get the longer version of this article with more pain-relieving tips.
Have you ever had a sore throat, been stung by a bee, or twisted your ankle? Do you have arthritis, back pain or headaches? Whenever you are in pain, even post-surgical pain, your body makes compounds in response to the injury which cause temporary redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Then naturally produced enzymes in your body eat up these inflammatory compounds, and that is when you notice the swelling goes down, the pain is relieved and the redness or stiffness recedes.
One second ago, an enzyme in your body called superoxide dismutase (SOD) just chased out a cancer-causing toxin that your cell accidentally spawned. You make all sorts of enzymes, and what's cool is that you can also buy certain enzymes as a dietary supplement, including SOD. Lactose is an enzyme that chews up milk sugars, helping some people to tolerate milk. Bromelain, derived from pineapples, helps with allergies and helps people post-surgically. It might even reduce scarring if taken soon enough. People who take acid blockers could benefit from papain, an enzyme derived from papaya fruit that works nicely with your stomach's pH range.
Proteolytic enzymes another type of enzyme. They chew up proteins and help with digestion. I think they're great for chronic pain syndromes. They help dissolve fibrin deposits which helps bruising. As a teenager (way back in the 1980's) we played a game called Pac Man. Remember?(Please tell me you remember). This popular arcade game included a Pac-Man which traveled a maze and gobbled up ghosts. I was a monster at Pac-Man in my hey day! Proteolytic enzymes work in the same way, they just gobble up debris, as opposed to ghosts.
With less debris, there is improved circulation. That means more oxygen and healing nutrients to the site of injury. As a pharmacist, I recommend you reach for proteolytic enzymes before you NSAIDs such as acetaminophen, naproxen or ibuprofen. Why? Because they are temporary and they have side effects. It's the equivalent of applying a bandage, and while most of you fair out well, the unlucky few experience diarrhea, nausea, headaches, dizziness, bleeding ulcers or heaven forbid, kidney damage. Besides, if you mask your pain with medicine, but continue to operate as normal, you increase your risk of permanent damage.
A German paper studied proteolytic enzymes in 100 athletes. The results were shocking. More than 75 percent said the enzyme treatment was favorable and no side effects were reported! So incredible were the results that the German government sent millions of enzyme capsules to the Olympics to help their athletes heal quicker.
Enzymes are a necessity to life, just like oxygen, food, clean water and shelter. (Some may argue that chocolate should be included as well).
For chronic pain syndromes, as opposed to digestive issues, I recommend that you take your proteolytic enzyme supplement on an empty stomach. This increases the 'Pac-Man' effect by up to 40 percent. While these supplements are generally well-tolerated, I occasionally hear of allergies, rashes and digestive upset.
Here are the most interesting new medications that hit the market in 2014. My column is printed in various languages so I apologize that I've only listed English brand names, please ask your local pharmacist for translations. Happy holidays! Love, Suzy
Jublia (efinaconazole) Topical solution,
Rx: This an antifungal and can be used for toenail fungus (for example onychomycosis). I like topical medicine for toenail fungus, they are much safer than oral ones which can harm your liver. Over time, Jublia might help you wear pretty sandals without embarrassment, however in the meantime, avoid pedicures and nail polish during treatment.
Zontivity (Vorapaxar) Tablets,
Rx: This medication is in a brand new class of it's own, called a "protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR-1) antagonist." It prevents clumping of the blood so it is for high-risk folks who want to try and reduce the risk of heart attacks. Bleeding and bruising is a side effect if you take too much. Like many drugs, this one is based upon a natural plant, it's just a morphed version of "himbacine" which comes from the bark of an Australian magnolia tree!
Farxiga (Dapagliflozin) Tablets,
Rx: This is used for Type 2 diabetes. It's classified as a SGLT2 inhibitor in my world, this drug works by reducing the amount of sugar your body absorbs, and pushes out more sugar from your urine. Side effects include dehydration, a drop in blood pressure, urinary tract infections and thrush.
Northera (droxidopa) Capsules,
Rx: This medication is a synthetic version of a compound in your own body that makes norepinephrine, your "fight or flight" hormone. So taking it will increase blood pressure, helpful if you have postural orthostatic hypotension (POTS). The medication is approved for use in people with nervous system conditions, such as Parkinson's, multiple system atrophy, autonomic failure and more. Some people get a headache.
Otezla (Apremilast) Tablets,
Rx: A prescription medicine used for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis. It is being tested for use in rheumatoid arthritis too. Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea and headache.
Dalvance (Dalbavancin) Injection, and also Sivextro (tedizolid) Tablets and Injection,
Rx: These are two brand new antibiotics used to treat dangerous skin and soft tissue infections caused by highly resistant pathogens such as MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Like all antibiotics, especially the strong ones, there is a risk of secondary Clostridium difficile or "C. diff" infection.
Akynzeo (netupitant and palonosetron), Capsules,
Rx: is used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It's a combination of two different chemical ingredients, one of which tends to increase serotonin so please do not combine with other serotonin-related drugs (like SSRI antidepressants) or too much serotonin will accumulate. It's called Serotonin Syndrome. It's unlikely to occur with this medication, I just want you to know about the interaction. It may be taken without regard to meals.
Imbruvica (Ibrutinib) Capsules,
Rx: This medication is big news for people with CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia). Common side effects are thrombocytopenia, anemia and fatigue.