prostate cancer

  • Antioxidant Digest

    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.”

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

    SCIENTISTS FIRST CALLED SELENIUM TOXIC. THEN FOLLOWING ITS RECOGNITION FOR ANIMAL HEALTH, RESEARCHERS IDENTIFIED IT AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT FOR HUMAN GROWTH.

    Now investigators wonder where the health benefits of selenium stop. The first selenium function in animals wasn't discovered until 1973. Dr. John Rotruck and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin demonstrated that selenium was incorporated into molecules of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase (GPX). This vital enzyme protects red blood cells, cell membranes and sub-cellular components against undesirable reactions with soluble peroxides. The discovery of GPX opened the door to our understanding of how selenium is protective against cancer, heart disease, arthritis and accelerated aging.

    This much misunderstood trace mineral may not gain the status of a drug simply because its primary role is disease prevention. Wherever soil is rich in selenium, certain diseases of livestock are virtually non-existent.

    But how could selenium, provided in dosages less than the weight of a paper clip, protect a 150-pound human from disease?

    Selenium and cancer

    In what was called the most startling cancer prevention study ever published, University of Arizona and Cornell University researchers recently discovered that selenium food supplements significantly reduce the incidence of nearly all forms of cancer. In 1996 researchers Larry Clark, Gerald Combs and Bruce Turnbull of Cornell University reported on the 10-year use of a 200 microgram supplement of protein-bound selenium among 1312 patients with a history of basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer. While selenium had no effect upon skin cancer, it had a startling effect upon other types of tumors.

    A Harvard researcher was quoted as saying: “If the effect of selenium is this large, it would be more important than anything else we know about in cancer prevention.” The results of the multi-center study were so surprising, many health researchers still want more proof.

    Larry Clark, the senior researcher in this study, remarked that the type of selenium used in this study is not commonly found in all vitamin supplements. It's a special type of selenium that is grown organically in yeast. “Most of the selenium on the market is inorganic sodium selenite or sometimes they throw sodium selenite into yeast, but they are not bound together as the yeast grows, yet it is still called high-selenium yeast.”

    Which type of selenium supplement?

    In plant foods, selenium is bound to an array of amino acids (methionine, cysteine, others) and is thus a more stable form. In 1984, a MIT study determined that organically-bound forms of selenium are able to increase the body selenite exchangeable pool size about 70 percent more effectively than inorganic selenite or selenate. The superiority of protein-bound selenium is demonstrated in recent study where selenium-enriched broccoli was shown to inhibit colon tumors in rodents. Researchers observed that selenium-enriched broccoli is more effective than inorganic forms of selenium against colon tumor formation.

    Another example of the superiority of protein-bound selenium over inorganic selenium has become apparent in studies of eye disease. One report suggests that “dietary supplementation with selenium should be explored as a means of preventing macular degeneration.” However, researchers have found that blood levels of selenium were lower among patients with macular degeneration even though seven of 10 patients studied took selenium supplements, mostly consisting of 80 micrograms of inorganic selenium (selenate). Lack of consumption of selenium does not appear to be the problem in these cases. Researchers surmise that the form of selenium is of importance. Some studies report that even 200 microgram doses of inorganic selenium fails to increase blood plasma levels of selenium in the eye, while amino acid-bound selenium increases plasma and whole blood levels.

    Consumers should look for organically-bound selenium in supplements rather than the inorganic forms (selenite, selenate). The question is how to duplicate the same selenoproteins provided in plant foods in a food supplement?

    Slow-growing Saccharomyces cerevisiae, baker's yeast, is employed to bind amino acids naturally with selenium. Some selenium food supplements only mix inorganic selenium with yeast but this is a shortcut that fails to do what nature does—slowly incorporate selenium into an array of about 20 amino acids. Yet the label on these food supplements may still read “selenium yeast.”

    Numerous food supplements provide selenium bound only to one amino acid, selenomethionine. But the food supplement that dramatically reduced the cancer risk in 1996 employed a form of selenium bound to a full array of amino acids, like in foods. Only one brand of food supplement provides this complete food-form selenium, called SelenoExcell.

    Due to years of misinformation the word “yeast” draws the attention of some consumers who believe they must avoid yeast products. Beneficial nutritional baker's yeast does not contribute to yeast infections such as Candida albicans. Selenium yeast is carefully pasteurized and dried after it is grown. This kills the yeast and it can no longer grow or multiply. Brewer's yeast has been a staple of the health food industry since its inception and is no cause for concern.

    Only one company is going through all the trouble to manufacture a consistently reliable form of selenium organically bound to a full array of amino acids as found in foods. It goes by the trade name SelenoExcell.™. All forms of selenium have health benefits. But we have to go with the science. Until we know more, look for that branded ingredient.

    Bill Sardi is president of Knowledge of Health, San Dimas, California.

    ROSMARINIC ACID

    by Rina Reznik, Ph.D.

    To protect ourselves we invest in lifestyle changes, exercise, a healthy diet and supplementation. Antioxidants are only one element in the big picture, so products with multiple uses are particularly useful. After all, there's a limit to the number of supplements we can swallow in a day, let alone afford, so we need to supplement wisely. For example, consuming un-denatured whey protein raises intracellular glutathione levels and takes advantage of its three protective functions: T-cell synthesis, anti-oxidation and detoxification. Spirulina is an effective dietary antioxidant with dozens of well-known health benefits. Rosmarinic acid is another product that offers multiple advantages.

    Rosemary and its cousins, oregano and thyme, have been known for their medicinal properties for centuries and rosemary oil has long been used in cooking, aromatherapy and in hair and skin tonics. It has been described traditionally as good for the skin, scalp, digestion and treatment of colds and is used as an antiseptic, stimulant and antispasmodic. Today medical scientists are particularly interested in rosmarinic acid for its anti-inflammatory, antiallergic and antioxidant properties.

    Rosmarinic acid's multiple value also lies in its boxer's one-two approach: first, as a purely natural food additive it prevents or neutralizes the harmful oxidation that takes place while food is on the shelf, enhancing its quality and helping to prevent an additional tax on the body's over-burdened defense system. Then once the food is eaten, the same additive turns out to be a powerful dietary antioxidant. Of course it can also be used for direct supplementation. An added bonus is that rosmarinic acid does not interfere with intracellular oxidant-antioxidant balance and enables the immune system's phagocytes to use their free-radical weapons effectively against incoming disease organisms.

    RA's antioxidant power

    The most common free radicals attacking living tissue are reactive oxygen species (ROS)—or oxyradicals. They include the peroxyl, nitric oxide and superoxide-anion radicals plus singlet oxygen, peroxynitrite and hydrogen peroxide. Worst of all is the dangerous hydroxyl radical, formed by the combination of the weaker superoxide radical with hydrogen peroxide. Rosmarinic acid neutralizes the superoxide-anion and thus makes a major contribution to curbing oxidative damage in the body.

    Rosmarinic acid also takes the heat of the more well-known antioxidants by getting into the fray and dealing with free radicals first, leaving vitamins C, E and others intact for later use. This extract is also one of the few antioxidants able to cross the blood-brain barrier and combat the superoxide radical in the brain, where researchers hope it may help prevent or combat such degenerative conditions as Alzheimer's disease.

    Researchers at the Israeli biotechnology company, RAD Natural Technologies, discovered that certain natural species of the plant Origanum vulgare contained particularly high concentrations of rosmarinic acid. Without genetic modification the plant yields a highly purified extract that is effective in very low concentrations. With neither solvents nor processing chemicals, RAD Natural Technologies is able to preserve the integrity of the plant extract and produce a water-soluble powder that can alternatively be emulsified and thus dissolved in fats and oils. It is ideal for industrial applications. If you've always thought of antioxidants as pills and dietary supplements, think again.

    The company's rosmarinic acid product is called Origanox and it is sold for food processing, cosmetic and dietary purposes. Its antioxidant properties preserve natural pigments, odors and flavors and also protect vitamins and other active ingredients from the degenerative effects of oxidation. It also possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and is easily absorbed into the skin, where it potentially supports to neutralize the harmful effect of ultraviolet radiation.

    Rosmarinic acid maintains its electron-absorbing properties at sustained high temperatures. That means that when it is added to edible oils, the number of free radicals released by frying is diminished. It is stable for long periods and at temperatures as high as 180 C/356 F so it can be baked into foods without impairing its antioxidant properties.

    In Summary

    Free radicals come at us from every conceivable direction and we need a good variety of antioxidants to protect ourselves. Some, like glutathione, are produced by the body, and are dependent upon a supply of raw materials from dietary sources. Others, like vitamins C and E, are built into the foods we eat or supplement in our diets. We may not be used to thinking of food preservatives as health aids but rosmarinic acid is a valuable aid that supports to preempt free radicals before they form in stored food and prevents the most harmful effects resulting from cooking with all sorts of oils. It also functions as a powerful antioxidant with the rare ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.

    The essential oil of Origanum vulgare is a powerful, anti-microbial agent and natural, antiseptic product. It has many, very promising applications in certain feed and food products besides being a flavor enhancer and therapeutic component in health food supplements. This potent and adaptable product promises to become a valuable addition to our preventive medicine arsenal.

    Tocotrienols—Their Role In Health

    by Andreas M. Papas, Ph.D.

    TOCOTRIENOLS ARE MEMBERS OF THE VITAMIN E FAMILY.

    Mention vitamin E and most people, even scientists, think alphatocopherol. It is only recently that scientists and now the consumers have been reminded that vitamin E is a family of compounds.

    Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family. Unlike some vitamins which consist of a single compound, vitamin E consists of eight different compounds, four tocopherols and four tocotrienols (designated as alpha, beta, gamma and delta). Our food contains all eight compounds. Most vitamin E supplements, however, contain only alphatocopherol because it was thought that only this one was important. Emerging research proved this understanding wrong. In order to get the full spectrum of the many benefits of vitamin E we must use products that contain the complete family of tocopherols plus tocotrienols.

    Tocotrienols are most abundant in cereal grains and the fruit of palm and are extracted commercially from palm oil and rice bran oil.

    Tocopherols and Tocotrienols: Similarities and Differences

    Each tocotrienol has similarities to the corresponding tocopherols. For this reason tocotrienols, like tocopherols, are excellent antioxidants. Tocotrienols however, have three unsaturated sites on the tail of the molecule. Scientists are discovering important and unique benefits of tocotrienols.

    Underscoring the importance of taking the whole vitamin E family is the evidence that not only tocotrienols but even the other tocopherols have unique functions different from those of alpha-tocopherol. For example:

    • Gamma-tocopherol, not alpha, is the effective form for fighting nitrogen radicals which contribute to the development of arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's.
    • Gamma-tocopherol and its major metabolite inhibit cyclooxygenase activity. This effect is very important because cyclooxygenase causes inflammation, which contributes to the progression of chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer.
    • High blood levels of gammatocopherol in men are associated with lower risk of prostate cancer.

    The Science Behind the Unique Functions of Tocotrienols

    Research produced evidence of the biochemical basis of the important and unique effects of tocotrienols. Tocotrienols and in particular gamma-tocotrienol appear to act on a specific enzyme called 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutarylcoenzyme A reductase (HMG-COA) involved in cholesterol production in the liver. Tocotrienols suppress the production of this enzyme, which may result in less cholesterol being manufactured.

    Tocotrienols slow down the growth of some types of human cancer cells, and particularly breast cancer cells, while alpha, beta and gamma tocopherols are ineffective. Gamma-tocotrienol suppresses the growth of rat melanoma and human leukemia cells, human breast adenocarcinoma and human leukemic cells.

    Benefits for Cardiovascular Health—Clinical Evidence

    The strongest evidence yet for tocotrienols comes from a clinical study in which 50 patients had stenosis of the carotid artery. These patients, ranging in age from 49 to 83 years, were divided in two groups. One group received approximately 650 milligrams of tocotrienols plus tocopherols. The other group received a placebo. All patients were examined with ultrasonography which measures the narrowing of the carotid artery.

    • Placebo group: Fifteen patients showed worsening of the stenosis, eight remained stable and two showed some improvement.
    • Tocotrienol (plus tocopherol) group: Three patients showed minor worsening and 12 remained stable. What is remarkable is that 10 patients showed regression of stenosis—their condition improved.

    The tocotrienol group had also significant reduction in TBARS, a test that measures oxidation. A tocotrienol-rich extract from rice bran oil reduced triglycerides and LDL in these patients. We are studying further these effects of tocotrienol-rich products from rice bran oil.

    Topical Use of Tocotrienols

    Tocotrienols, like tocopherols, protect the skin against damage from ultraviolet radiation, pollution, cigarette smoke and other stress factors. Topically applied tocotrienols and tocopherols penetrate the entire skin to the subcutaneous fat layer within 30 minutes and significantly increase the concentration of these antioxidants in the deeper subcutaneous layers.

    Safe and Effective Use Levels

    Tocotrienols and vitamin E in general have an excellent safety record.

    How much tocotrienols to take? Please remember that tocotrienols are available commercially as mixtures with tocopherols. If you are at high risk for heart disease, you may consider levels up to 300 mg per day of tocotrienols. For the great majority of consumers who want to get the benefit of the complete vitamin E family, much lower levels may still provide benefits.

    It is extremely important to take products that contain natural tocopherols plus tocotrienols. While our individual needs differ, the following general guidelines might help choose the right level for you.

    • The adequate level—the 100/100 system: Take 100 IU plus 100 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. For healthy young adults with no family history of chronic disease.
    • The medium level—the 200/200 system: Take 200 IU plus 200 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. For young adults with some risk factors and healthy people without risk factors up to 50 years old.
    • The high, yet very safe dose—the 400/400 system: Take 400 IU plus 400 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. This is the level for people who, because of their family history for chronic disease, age, level of stress, diet and other factors, want to take a higher level.

    Andreas M. Papas, Ph.D., is the author of The Vitamin E Factor (paperback) and editor of the scientific book Antioxidant Status, Diet, Nutrition and Health, Dr. Papas is senior technical associate at Eastman Chemical Company and adjunct professor, at the College of Medicine of East Tennessee State University and senior scientific advisor, Cancer Prevention Institute, Harvard School of Epidemiology. —www.vitaminefactor.com

     

    Ten Additional Important Antioxidants

    COQ10 FOR ANTI-AGING AND A HEALTHY HEART

    Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant compound similar to vitamin K and is naturally manufactured in the liver as well as every cell in the body. But even though COQ10 is produced in the body, many people have deficiencies, especially those suffering from cardiovascular disease and heart failure.

    Every cell must have a way of obtaining energy. In cardiac cells, as well as throughout the body, oxygen-based production occurs within the cellular power plants called mitochondria. Here COQ10 provides essential energy in its most basic form—adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the energy of life. Without adequate COQ10 as a cofactor, ATP synthesis slows down, eventually leaving the cell in a vulnerable state.

    Dietary sources of COQ10 come mainly from beef heart, pork, chicken liver and fish (especially salmon, mackerel and sardines). Vegetarians typically will not get enough COQ10 unless they eat large quantities of peanuts and/or broccoli. The average person only gets five to 10 mg of COQ10 each day from diet alone. Most people would benefit from far more COQ10 than can be gleaned from the daily diet.

    Although COQ10 can be synthesized by the body, many individuals are deficient in this vitamin. Illness depletes the body's stores even further. Taking cholesterol-lowering drugs such as HMG-COA reductase inhibitors can literally “kill” COQ10 synthesis. Other drugs, such as beta blockers and some of the older antidepressants, also interfere with COQ10-dependent enzymes, lowering its concentration in the body.

    Any women taking a statin drug, especially those at high risk for breast cancer, should take at least 100 mg of COQ10 a day.

    VITAMIN C

    Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a very powerful nutrient and the premier water-soluble antioxidant. It participates in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is important in maintaining homeostasis as well as building tissue.

    Death is inevitable if vitamin C is not provided. It is truly essential to human life. New research into the actions of vitamin C has sparked a greater understanding of the remarkable health-promoting properties of this essential nutrient. The new evidence validates that vitamin C supports cardiovascular and respiratory function, cognition, bone development and mineralization, vision and may even lower the risk of stress-related diseases and certain types of cancer.

    • Cardiovascular Health. High dietary vitamin C intake has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of death from heart attacks and strokes in numerous population studies. Also, researchers have found that vitamin C offsets spasms of the coronary arteries.
    • Immunity Booster. A recent study reported an 85 percent lower incidence in cold and flu symptoms with high vitamin C doses.
    • Collagen Maintenance. Vitamin C is important for the formation and maintenance of collagen, the intercellular cement that binds tissues together. Collagen provides tensile strength to bones, cartilage, teeth, tendons and ligaments. There is a positive association between vitamin C and bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women.
    • Cancer. Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant to protect cellular structures, including genetic mechanisms, an enhancer of the immune system and to protect against cancer-causing environmental irritants and pollutants. Many of the benefits of vitamin C supplementation stem from its antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C become more important as aging occurs, especially if there is stress or disease.

    ASTAXANTHIN

    Astaxanthin is a member of an elite class of carotenoids known as xanthophylls.

    Astaxanthin is believed to be the most active of these carotenoids. Researchers have discovered that the most abundant and concentrated form of astaxanthin is found in the natural, renewable material extracted from microalgae.

    Because of its unique molecular structure, astaxanthin is unlike any other antioxidant in that it can perform a wide variety of tasks including:

    • increasing HDL (good cholesterol)
    • increasing strength and endurance
    • stimulating the immune system
    • protecting and enhancing eye health.

    Astaxanthin has been shown to perform effectively the three key tasks of an antioxidant: quenching, scavenging and trapping free radicals. Astaxanthin is more powerful than many other carotenoids because:

    • its low molecular weight allows it to actually cross the blood-brain barrier, making it available to the eye, brain and central nervous system
    • it is more resistant to damage, allowing it to scavenge longer and trap more types of free radicals
    • it acts like a bridge, transporting free radicals along its long chain to water-soluble antioxidants like vitamin C inside and outside of the cell.

    ACETYL-L-CARNITINE

    Acetyl-L-carnitine is a special form of carnitine that has the particular ability to optimize brain function. Acetyl-L-carnitine is able to cross into the brain more effectively than regular carnitine. It therefore enhances brain cell function much better than regular carnitine. As we age, acetyl-L-carnitine levels in our brains go down and for optimal brain function, supplements of acetyl-L-carnitine become mandatory.

    Acetyl-L-carnitine acts in many ways to prevent the deterioration of brain cells that normally happens with age. It does this in many ways. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, provides the brain with healing energy and increases levels of a very important messenger molecule called acetylcholine. It is acetylcholine which becomes deficient in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and that is why these patients have such poor memory function. By increasing levels of acetylcholine, acetyl-L-carnitine helps the memory work better and may help prevent Alzheimer's disease as well.

    GREEN TEA

    Green tea is the antivirus, anticancer, super antioxidant. It is the most popular of Asian drinks and has been known for centuries to have a long list of health benefits. Interestingly, after water it is the most widely consumed beverage on the earth.

    Dr. Earl Mindell states, “The antioxidants specific to green tea are polyphenols, bioflavonoids that act as super antioxidants by neutralizing harmful fats and oils, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, blocking cancer-triggering mechanisms, inhibiting bacteria and viruses, improving digestion and protecting against ulcers and strokes. The specific type of polyphenol found in green tea is called a “catechin.”

    Other ingredients in green tea include the green chlorophyll molecules but also important are the proanthocyanadins similar to those found in grape seed extract, pine bark, bilberry and gingko. The specific tea is a variety called Camellia sinensis. Camellia sinensis in the West is known as black tea, such as Earl Grey tea, orange pekoe tea or English breakfast tea.

    The antioxidant properties of green tea are responsible for its most important benefits. The Chinese always claimed that tea slows aging but it was not until we understood the role of oxidation in aging and the antioxidant function of flavonoids that we knew how this mechanism might work. Researchers at University of California- Berkeley found that green tea extract was the best at scavenging the deadly hydroxyl radicals. Three diseases that we focus on regarding green tea are heart disease, AIDS and cancer.

    GREEN FOODS

    It is well known now through modern research that green foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes. They help protect against cancer, heart disease, digestive problems and many other modern disorders. Green vegetables are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene and chlorophyll. Possibly most important of all, they have potent antioxidant activity. Besides, they are low in fat and high in nutrients, an excellent combination.

    The importance of green foods in the diet is now being validated scientifically worldwide. It is amazing how long it takes us to discover that foods were made correctly in the first place. They contain exactly what we need in their natural state. We have to find a way to take advantage of the whole foods naturally made and most of us are not doing that presently with our diets. In fact, it would be difficult for anyone to eat green plants to equal the amount of nutrition in concentrated green food supplements. So until you are ready to sidle up to a fivepound salad of spinach, watercress, alfalfa and kelp, the concentrated supplements mentioned here are probably your best source for the vital nutrients you need from green foods.

    ALPHA LIPOIC ACID

    Alpha lipoic acid is a vitamin-like antioxidant that is produced naturally in the body and found in certain foods such as potatoes and red meat.

    It is the only fat and water soluble free radical antioxidant, therefore, it is easily absorbed and transported across cell membranes, protecting us against free radicals both inside and outside our cells.

    Alpha lipoic acid has been used for years throughout Europe to treat and prevent complications associated with diabetes, including neuropathy, macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies show that diabetics lower their insulin requirements; this also helps reduce complications.

    An abundance of promising research has also shown the ability of alpha lipoic acid to inhibit replication of HIV and other viruses, to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation which is associated with cardiovascular disease, to protect the liver from damage from alcohol or other toxins and also to prevent damage from radiation.

    We do not obtain enough alpha lipoic acid through the diet to obtain this protection, so supplementation is required—100 to 200 mg daily. Therapeutic doses are higher.

    GLUTATHIONE

    Essential for many cellular functions, glutathione is a tripeptide of connected molecules composed of three nonessential amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine.

    Without glutathione people suffer from an inability to detoxify metabolic wastes and in eliminating toxic substances like heavy metals and other environmental poisons. This may lead to heart disease, joint disorders, cancer and problems with the endocrine, immune and nervous systems.

    Even healthy people under stress can become subject to a disrupted balance. They could be sick or battling an inflammation or infection, or healing from an injury, while more free radicals are created and must be eliminated. Glutathione will do the job. It will also seek out the free radicals formed when people are exposed to cigarette smoke, alcohol, mercury, air pollution, food additives, pesticides and ultraviolet light.

    Needed cofactors that properly assist glutathione function are the following: alpha lipoic acid, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and the minerals selenium and zinc, of which selenium is a vital component.

    PYCNOGENOL®

    Extracted from the bark of Pinus maritima, the coastal pine tree found in abundance in southern France, pycnogenol is made up of a combination of flavoids that occur naturally in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables. However, antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables and nuts lose their potency when they are harvested, processed, frozen and cooked. A study in the British scientific journal, The Lancet, showed that risk of heart disease was 50 percent lower in populations that consumed high amounts of flavonoids (at least 30 mg a day) than groups that took in low amounts of these antioxidants.

    Decades of laboratory research and clinical studies conducted by Dr. Jack Masquelier show that pycnogenol contains approximately 40 natural ingredients including proanthocyanadins, organic acids and related bioavailable components such as glucosides and glucose esters. It is a potent antioxidant that protects against free radicals, has been shown to be many times more powerful than vitamin C or vitamin E and has the added benefit of working synergistically with many nutrients that support health.

    Millions of people in Europe and the United States, athletes in particular, rely on pycnogenol to maintain skin health and overall health during the aging process. It is one of the best tried-and-tested products in its category, non-toxic and non-carcinogenic.

    GARLIC

    Garlic is the most studied herb in history. It has more benefits than any other single food. Tradition has told us that garlic has beneficial effects on health and longevity. Science is beginning to validate many of these claims including garlic's ability to prevent heart disease, fungal overgrowth and infectious diseases, the ability to remove toxic metals from the body and its powerful antioxidant and anticancer effects.

    A Summary of Garlic's Many Benefits Includes:

     

    • having been shown to have powerful immune-boosting properties and may be valuable in fighting off viral infections such as the common cold.
    • having been shown to help lower blood pressure in those with hypertension.
    • working as a natural antibiotic and reducing the number of harmful bacteria in the body.
    • reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and has been shown to limit the deposition of plaque on artery walls.
    • having been shown to help the body eliminate parasites.
    • reducing the amount of the yeast, Candida albicans, in the human GI tract and has been shown to be beneficial in fighting systemic yeast infections.
    • having been shown to lower blood sugar and be of significant benefit to diabetics.
    • having been shown in population and laboratory studies to help prevent a wide variety of cancers.
    • containing selenium, a cancerpreventing, immune-boosting and antiinflammatory nutrient.

    BOOKS FOR FURTHER READING ON ANTIOXIDANTS:

    Brain Longevity
    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)

    Prescription Alternatives
    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)

  • Cannabis Has Serious Medical Benefits

    Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been used as a botanical medicine for hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of years. Research over the past 50 years has begun to shed more light on how this plant works in our bodies to produce some of the health and medical benefits researchers have identified thus far. Even the Surgeon General of the United States of America has declared, "We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, marijuana can be helpful."1

    The most compelling evidence has shown that marijuana, or more specifically its medical constituents, cannabinol and THC, have properties that are beneficial in the following areas:2

    • The reduction of nerve related pain
    • Control of seizures
    • Improvement in sleep
    • Control of anxiety
    • Reduction of inflammation
    • Antioxidant protection
    • The treatment of specific cancers
    • Slowing the progression of Alzheimer's

    How it Works
    There are cannabinoid receptors on many cells throughout the body, including the brain, lungs, liver, kidneys and various part of our immune system. These receptors are activated when they are exposed to cannabinol and THC, causing the following observed reactions:

    • Higher levels of THC are responsible for the euphoric feelings associated with the smoking of marijuana.
    • When equal levels of cannabinol (CBN) and THC are present (1 to 1 ratio) there is a very significant impact on breast cancer cells, as well as other aggressive cancer cells. Scientists have observed cancer cells shrinking, dying and even reverting back to normal cell function.3
    • High levels of only CBN have been shown to provide symptomatic relief of neuropathic pain in adults with multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, Health Canada has approved a new drug, Sativex, otherwise known as Cannabis sativa, for the treatment of the aforementioned conditions.4
    • Cannabinol has also exhibited anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsant, neuroprotective effects, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It is this powerful combination of brain related benefits, which is thought to have the ability to slow the progression of Alzheimer's and possibly other brain related conditions.5

    The interesting, and significant, finding in all of the research is that these health benefits are all possible without producing any of the euphoric reactions associated with marijuana. This is extremely important, since it is the recreational drug component that has been one of the barriers to the acceptance of cannabis being used for medical purposes. The two components need to be separated and treated completely differently in order to allow medical conditions to be treated objectively based on the emerging science.

    The Deeper Cellular Understanding
    More than 15,000 peer reviewed scientific articles have been published on the chemical and pharmacologic uses of cannabis and cannabinoids (CBD). There have also been 33 published controlled clinical trials, in the U.S., documenting the measurable benefits of treatments utilizing one of the cannabinoid components.6

    It is important to explain more exactly how this botanical causes these beneficial reactions in the body.

    • Mediators are biochemicals, such as enzymes, that cause the up regulation (increase) or down regulation (decrease) of certain other biochemicals that control inflammation, pain messages, the genetic on and off switches for cancer and other important metabolic reactions. CBD is a mediator that up regulates the good chemicals and down regulates the bad or negative chemicals in the body leading to the prevention and/or the reversal of various health challenges.
    • Cannabinolic acid (CBDA) inhibits MDA-MB231, which stops breast cancer cells from spreading. And, CBD stops these same cells from multiplying. If breast cancer cells cannot multiply or spread, then the disease can be controlled to allow diet and other proven natural or pharmaceutical agents to kill the cancer cells or cause them to return to normal cellular activity.
    • Many cancers are enabled by a genetic on and off switch, known as the 1D-1 gene. CBD, in the form of cannabis oil extract was able to turn off the over expression of this 1D-1 gene, thus stopping cancer cells from moving to other tissues and, in some cases, causing these cancer cells to return to normal cellular function. This off switch by the cannabis oil extract proved effective for breast cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and brain cancer, all of which have normally occurring high levels of the 1D-1 gene.7

    Detoxification - Systematically removing accumulated toxins from the body can significantly reduce the burden placed on the immune system and other important metabolic functions. This will allow more energy and immune protective activity to be directed at the primary health challenge. Proven detoxification methods include exercise, sauna, steam bathes, diet, specific supplements and intravenous treatments such as EDTA chelation therapy or hydrogen peroxide therapy. The existing level of toxicity can be measured via blood, hair and urine tests, as well as symptoms analysis. Then these same tests can be used to measure the success of various detoxification efforts. These detoxification efforts can then create a better environment for the use of various treatments, which can include cannabis.

    Nutrition - The human body needs very high levels of essential oils, vitamins, minerals and enzymes in order for each of our 60 trillion cells to function properly. When cells are not properly nourished, this puts a strain on our organs and our operating systems, including the immune system. A diet of whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, omega fish and organic poultry will help to optimize cellular function, thus making treatment protocols more likely to achieve their desired results. This type of diet also helps to ensure a proper pH balance in the body (7.0 - 7.4), which is the ideal environment for optimal healing.

    Stress Management - Stress is involved, or influences, about 80% of all health challenges and drains the body of vital nutrients, such as B vitamins. Using stress management techniques, such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing and hypnotherapy can help to reduce the impact of stress on treatment protocols for chronic disease. Reducing stress also helps to reduce acid levels in the body, thus insuring the maintenance of a healthy and healing pH level in the body.

    Sleep Function - When we sleep, our bodies experience the most significant levels of balancing (homeostasis), detoxification and re-energizing. Therefore, it is very important to ensure sound sleep of at least 7 to 9 hours every night. Eating very little after dinner, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants and clearing the mind of troubling or perplexing topics best accomplish this. Some people may need to use calming audiotapes, meditation or supplements, such as 5HTP or melatonin to help achieve this state of sound sleep.

    Cannabis for cancer treatment, the science

    There have been many impressive scientific studies over the past several years on the effectiveness of hemp extracts in the treatment of various forms of cancer. Here is a partial list of these studies, which clearly illustrates the potential benefit for the medical application of hemp extracts against the most serious disease we know.

    1. A study published in the British Journal of Cancer, conducted by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Complutense University in Madrid, determined that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids inhibit tumor growth. They were responsible for the first clinical study aimed at assessing cannabinoid antitumoral action. Cannabinoid delivery was safe and was achieved with zero psychoactive effects. THC was found to decrease tumor cells in two out of the nine patients.9

    2. A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience examined the biochemical events in both acute neuronal damage and in slowly progressive, neurodegenerative diseases. They conducted a magnetic resonance imaging study that looked at THC (the main active compound in marijuana) and found that it reduced neuronal injury in rats. The results of this study provide evidence that the cannabinoid system can serve to protect the brain against neurodegeneration.10

    3. A study published in The Journal of Pharmacology And Experimental Therapeutics already acknowledged the fact that cannabinoids have been shown to possess antitumor properties. This study examined the effect of cannabidiol (CBD, non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound) on human glioma cell lines. The addition of cannabidiol led to a dramatic drop in the viability of glioma cells. Glioma is the word used to describe brain tumor. The study concluded that cannabidiol was able to produce a significant antitumor activity.11

    4. A study published in the Journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics outlines how brain tumors are highly resistant to current anticancer treatments, which makes it crucial to find new therapeutic strategies aimed at improving the poor prognosis of patients suffering from this disease. This study also demonstrated the reversal of tumor activity in Glioblastoma multiforme.12

    5. A study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, conducted by the California Pacific Medical Centre, determined that cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation and invasion. They also demonstrated that CBD significantly reduces tumor mass.13

    6. A study published in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics determined that THC as well as cannabidiol dramatically reduced breast cancer cell growth. They confirmed the potency and effectiveness of these compounds.14

    7. A study published in the Journal Molecular Cancer showed that THC reduced tumor growth and tumor numbers. They determined that cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell proliferation, induce cancer cell apoptosis, and impair tumor angiogenesis (all good things). This study provides strong evidence for the use of cannabinoid-based therapies for the management of breast cancer.15

    8. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) determined that cannabinoids inhibit human breast cancer cell proliferation.16

    9. A study published in the Journal Oncogene, by Harvard Medical Schools Experimental Medicine Department, determined that THC inhibits epithelial growth factor induced lung cancer cell migration and more. They go on to state that THC should be explored as novel therapeutic molecules in controlling the growth and metastasis of certain lung cancers.17

    10. A study published in The FASEB Journal by the Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology, from the Department of General Surgery in Germany, determined that cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell invasion. Effects were confirmed in primary tumor cells from a lung cancer patient. Overall, data indicated that cannabinoids decrease cancer cell invasiveness.18

    11. A study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, conducted by Harvard Medical School, investigated the role of cannabinoid receptors in lung cancer cells. They determined its effectiveness and suggested that it should be used for treatment against lung cancer cells.19

    12. A study published in the journal Prostate illustrates a decrease in prostatic cancer cells by acting through cannabinoid receptors.20

    13. A study published in the Indian Journal of Urology outlined multiple studies proving the effectiveness of cannabis on prostate cancer.21

    14. Another study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology determined that clinical testing of CBD against prostate carcinoma is a must. That cannabinoid receptor activation induces prostate carcinoma cell apoptosis. They determined that cannabidiol significantly inhibited cell viability.22

    15. A study published in the Journal Molecular Pharmacology recently showed that cannabinoids induce growth inhibition and apoptosis in mantle cell lymphoma. The study was supported by grants from the Swedish Cancer Society, The Swedish Research Council, and the Cancer Society in Stockholm.23

    16. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer also determined and illustrated that cannabinoids exert antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in various types of cancer and in mantle cell lymphoma.24

    17. A study published in the journal Molecular Cancer Research conducted by the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology by Virginia Commonwealth University determined that cannabinoids induce apoptosis in leukemia cells.25

    18. A study published in the journal Molecular Cancer Research shows that cannabinoids are potent inhibitors of cellular respiration and are toxic to highly malignant oral tumors.26

    19. A study published in Cell Death & Differentiation determined that THC reduces the viability of human HCC cell lines (Human hepatocellular liver carcinoma cell line) and reduced their growth.27

    20. A study published in Cancer Research determined that cannabinoid receptors are expressed in human pancreatic tumor cell lines and tumor biopsies at much higher levels than in normal pancreatic tissue. Results showed that cannabinoid administration induced apoptosis. They also reduced the growth of tumor cells, and inhibited the spreading of pancreatic tumor cells.28

    Who is against the medicinal use of marijuana?
    There has been steady resistance to the legalization of marijuana. One of the biggest reasons is the confusion between recreational marijuana, medical marijuana and CBD. Medical marijuana is under the jurisdiction of individual states and allows Medical Doctors to utilize this product for pain relief, some eye disorders and other health challenges. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-medical hemp product approved in all fifty states as a health improvement nutritional supplement. This general resistance usually comes from older and/or more conservative people who view marijuana from only one perspective; it's use as a recreational drug. Many younger people see this as hypocrisy since alcohol and tobacco are legal and cause more problems in terms of ill health, lost productivity and death than marijuana could possibly cause. In addition to this general, albeit confused, resistance, there are other specific groups who are opposed to the legalization of marijuana, and remember, most of their reasons also do not properly distinguish between recreational use and medical use.

    Cigarette Makers and Sellers - Unless the existing cigarette industry can control the marijuana industry, they will always lobby against it because they fear the loss of some of their huge profits from the sale of cigarettes.

    Alcohol Makers and Users - This group will resist for the same reasons as the cigarette industry. If people switch from alcohol to marijuana use, there is a potential loss of millions, or even billions, of dollars in profits.

    Prisons - Prisons are an economic growth industry for many communities and thousands of workers. Marijuana accounts for more than half of all drug arrests in the country. If recreational marijuana were legalized, all of these arrests and imprisonments would disappear. Private prisons would lose money, jobs would be lost and communities dependent on these jobs would suffer economically.

    It also stands to reason that prison employee unions would also lobby against the legalization of marijuana.

    Police Unions - Police also benefit from the illegal status of marijuana. About 1 million arrests each year involve the possession of marijuana. If marijuana were legalized, then there could be a reduced need for police officers and federal drug enforcement officers to search for marijuana growers, importers and users. Farmers would be licensed and prices would be stabilized, making this illegal industry far less viable.

    Pharmaceutical Companies - If medical marijuana is proven to be as effective, inexpensive and safe as existing science is indicating, then many prescription and over-the-counter medications will no longer be necessary. This could cost big pharma billions, if not trillions, of dollars in profits.

    Doctors, Hospitals and Insurance Companies - If some diseases were able to be treated more safely, effectively, and at less cost, the entire medical industry would have fewer high cost tests and treatments, leading to a dramatic loss of patients and profit.29

    Final Thoughts
    As usual, a proven health advancement is being resisted by special interests and a lack of clarity about its many benefits. It took years to gain the acceptance of prenatal vitamins, causing many babies to be born with birth defects and many mothers and babies to die unnecessarily. Co-enzyme Q10 can help prevent heart disease, reverse kidney disease and slow the advance of Parkinson's Disease. And vitamin D3 can help prevent breast cancer. All of these scientifically proven natural health benefits have been facing stiff resistance from special interests for years. Many millions of people will suffer and die prematurely due to the resistance to these and other similar health and medical breakthroughs.

    Medical marijuana, cannabis, CBD and CBN have joined this list of evidence-based health solutions that are being resisted due to ignorance or greed or both. Patient advocates, scientists, progressive doctors and courageous media people are now working fairly independently to help advance the use of medical cannabis. If they could combine and better coordinate their efforts, perhaps medical marijuana, in all of its proven forms, could move forward much faster and spare the unnecessary suffering, pain and expense that is caused by the pursuit of profit over the health and welfare of our population.

    References

    1. Mercola, Joseph, 2015. Top US Doctor Says Medical Marijuana May Help Some Conditions. Dr. Joseph Mercola's web site online, Feb. 17, 2015.
    2. Ibid
    3. Ibid.
    4. Costa, Barbara, et al.2007. The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Science Direct online. Originally from European Journal of Pharmacology 556 (2007) 75-83.
    5. Ibid.
    6. Mercola, Joseph, 2015. Top US Doctor Says Medical Marijuana May Help Some Conditions. Dr. Joseph Mercola web site online, Feb. 17, 2015.
    7. Ditchfield, Jeff and Thomas Mel, 2014. The Medical Cannabis Guidebook: The Definitive Guide To Using and Growing Medicinal Marijuana. Green Candy Press, San Francisco, CA.
    8. Schwartz, Carly, 2014, Marijuana Drastically Shrinks Aggressive Form Of Brain Cancer, New Study Finds. Huffington Post online.
    9. M Guzmán, M J Duarte, C Blázquez, J Ravina, M C Rosa, I Galve-Roperh, C Sánchez, G Velasco and L González-Feria. A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. British Journal of Cancer (2006) 95, 197–203. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603236
    10. M. van der Stelt, W. B. Veldhuis, P. R. Bär, G. A. Veldink, J. F. G. Vliegenthart, and K. Nicolay. Neuroprotection by Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, the Main Active Compound in Marijuana, against Ouabain-Induced In Vivo Excitotoxicity. The Journal of Neuroscience, 1 September 2001, 21(17): 6475-6479;
    11. Paola Massi, Angelo Vaccani, Stefania Ceruti, Arianna Colombo, Maria P. Abbracchio and Daniela Parolaro. Antitumor Effects of Cannabidiol, a Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoid, on Human Glioma Cell Lines. JPET March 2004 vol. 308 no. 3 838-845
    12. Sofía Torres, Mar Lorente, Fátima Rodríguez-Fornés, Sonia Hernández-Tiedra, María Salazar, Elena García-Taboada, Juan Barcia, Manuel Guzmán and Guillermo Velasco. A Combined Preclinical Therapy of Cannabinoids and Temozolomide against Glioma. Mol Cancer Ther January 2011 10; 90
    13. McAllister SD, Murase R, Christian RT, Lau D, Zielinski AJ, Allison J, Almanza C, Pakdel A, Lee J, Limbad C, Liu Y, Debs RJ, Moore DH, Desprez PY. Pathways mediating the effects of cannabidiol on the reduction of breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 May;133(1):401-4.
    14. Alessia Ligresti, Aniello Schiano Moriello, Katarzyna Starowicz, Isabel Matias, Simona Pisanti, Luciano De Petrocellis, Chiara Laezza, Giuseppe Portella, Maurizio Bifulco and Vincenzo Di Marzo. Anti-tumor activity of plant cannabinoids with emphasis on the effect of cannabidiol on human breast carcinoma. JPET May 25, 2006 106.105247
    15. María M Caffarel, Clara Andradas, Emilia Mira, Eduardo Pérez-Gómez, Camilla Cerutti, Gema Moreno-Bueno, Juana M Flores, Isabel García-Real, José Palacios, Santos Mañes, Manuel Guzmán and Cristina Sánchez. Cannabinoids reduce ErbB2-driven breast cancer progression through Akt inhibition. Molecular Cancer 2010, 9:196
    16. Luciano De Petrocellis, Dominique Melck, Antonella Palmisano, Tiziana Bisogno, Chiara Laezza, Maurizio Bifulco, Vincenzo Di Marzo. The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 95, pp. 8375–8380, July 1998
    17. Preet A, R K Ganju, J E Groopman. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits epithelial growth factor-induced lung cancer cell migration in vitro as well as its growth and metastasis in vivo. Oncogene (2008) 27, 339–346; doi:10.1038
    18. Ramer R, Bublitz K, Freimuth N, Merkord J, Rohde H, Haustein M, Borchert P, Schmuhl E, Linnebacher M, Hinz B. Cannabidiol inhibits lung cancer cell invasion and metastasis via intercellular adhesion molecule-1. The FASEB J. 2012 Apr;26(4):1535-48. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-198184. Epub 2011 Dec 23.
    19. Preet A, Qamri Z, Nasser MW, Prasad A, Shilo K, Zou X, Groopman JE, Ganju RK. Cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, as novel targets for inhibition of non-small cell lung cancer growth and metastasis. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Jan;4(1):65-75. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0181. Epub 2010 Nov 19.
    20. Mimeault M, Pommery N, Wattez N, Bailly C, Hénichart JP. Anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects of anandamide in human prostatic cancer cell lines: implication of epidermal growth factor receptor down-regulation and ceramide production. Prostate. 2003 Jun 15;56(1):1-12.
    21. Juan A. Ramos, Fernando J. Bianco. The role of cannabinoids in prostate cancer: Basic science perspective and potential clinical applications. Indian J Urol. 2012 Jan-Mar; 28(1): 9–14.
    22. De Petrocellis L, Ligresti A, Schiano Moriello A, Iappelli M, Verde R, Stott CG, Cristino L, Orlando P, Di Marzo V. Non-THC cannabinoids inhibit prostate carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo: pro-apoptotic effects and underlying mechanisms. British Journal of Pharmacology 2013 Jan;168(1):79-102. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02027.x.
    23. Gustafsson Kristin, Christensso Birger, Sander Birgitta, Flygare Jenny. Cannabinoid Receptor-Mediated Apoptosis Induced by R(+)-Methanandamide and Win55,212-2 Is Associated with Ceramide Accumulation and p38 Activation in Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Molecular Pharmacology November 2006 vol. 70 no. 5 1612-1620
    24. Gustafsson Kristin, Wang Xiao, Severa Denise, Eriksson Maeve, Kimby Eva, Merup Mats, Christensson Birger, Flygare Jenny, Sander Birgitta. Expression of cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 in non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Growth inhibition by receptor activation. International Journal of Cancer 1 September 2008, Volume 123, Issue 5, pages 1025–1033
    25. Jia W, Hegde VL, Singh NP, Sisco D, Grant S, Nagarkatti M, Nagarkatti PS. Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol-induced apoptosis in Jurkat leukemia T cells is regulated by translocation of Bad to mitochondria. Mol Cancer Res. 2006 Aug;4(8):549-62.
    26. Whyte DA, Al-Hammadi S, Balhaj G, Brown OM, Penefsky HS, Souid AK. Cannabinoids inhibit cellular respiration of human oral cancer cells. Pharmacology. 2010;85(6):328-35. doi: 10.1159/000312686. Epub 2010 Jun 2.
    27. Vara D, Salazar M, Olea-Herrero N, Guzmán M, Velasco G, Díaz-Laviada I. Anti-tumoral action of cannabinoids on hepatocellular carcinoma: role of AMPK-dependent activation of autophagy. Cell Death Differ. 2011 Jul;18(7):1099-111. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2011.32. Epub 2011 Apr 8.
    28. Arkaitz Carracedo, Meritxell Gironella, Mar Lorente, Stephane Garcia, Manuel Guzmán, Guillermo Velasco, and Juan L. Iovanna. Cannabinoids Induce Apoptosis of Pancreatic Tumor Cells via Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress–Related Genes. Cancer Res July 1, 2006 66; 6748
    29. Mercola, Joseph, 2015. Top US Doctor Says Medical Marijuana May Help Some Conditions. Dr. Joseph Mercola's web site online, Feb. 17, 2015.
  • Flax Seed Protects Against Breast and Prostate Cancer

    Dear Pharmacist,

    My older sister had a mastectomy earlier this year. I understand that breast cancer runs in families, so now I’m scared to death so I’m getting tests done myself. Can you offer advice from your natural perspective?

    --R.Y. Seattle, Washington

    Answer: Let me say upfront that an anti-cancer lifestyle -and there is such a thing- is also an anti-breast cancer lifestyle. It includes eating fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, less meat, less processed food (way less!), no smoking, losing weight and exercising. There are many things one can do to erect a powerful protective barrier. At or near the top of my supplement list is flax seed.

    Besides serving as a great source of detoxifying fiber and essential fatty acids, flax seeds contain a whopping portion of “lignans”--a plant chemical that your body converts to a hormone-like compound that resembles estrogen (termed phytoestrogens). Many studies show that people who eat a lignan-rich diet have a lower incidence of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Phytoestrogens fit nicely into your cells’ estrogen-receptor sites, thereby preventing dangerous estrogens from causing problems like breast cancer. This is a much simplified explanation, but you get the idea. Ground up flax seeds provide hundreds of times more lignans than any other plant.

    Flax seeds pack such an anti-cancer punch that they may benefit women with active breast cancer. One randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study (that’s the most rigorous kind of scientific study) found positive results in post-menopausal women who had breast cancer. Participants had to eat muffins that were baked either with flax seeds or without (placebo). The cancer cells stopped growing aggressively in the group of women who ate muffins containing flax seed, and some of the cancer cells even died (apoptosis). Of course, I’m not advocating flax seeds as the cure for breast cancer, but it’s clear that flax can zap cancer cells to some extent.

    You can buy the fresh seeds at health food stores and even some grocery stores. Grind up one tablespoon daily and sprinkle it on salads or greens, or into your fruit smoothie. Do bother to grind them up. Don’t try to save time by swallowing a mouthful of seeds because you’ll chew for an hour! I use both the seeds and flax seed oil several times a week, but I prefer the ground seeds because of the higher lignan content and fiber.

    If you have breast cancer in your family, I completely understand your urgency to do anything you can to keep this dreaded disease at bay. Flax seeds are just one of more than a dozen superfoods and supplements that I recommend to prevent breast cancer (and prostate cancer). For a full account of other helpful supplements, please see my eBook Breast Cancer Protection, which is available through my website.

    Did You Know?

    Mirena is a new intrauterine device that can prevent pregnancy for up to five years.

  • Frankincense and Myrrh Still a Wise Gift of Health

    Around the holidays, we are reminded of the most famous gifts in history, frankincense and myrrh, carried by the wise men. Today, perfumes, incense and candles are often infused with these two wonderful aromas. Both frankincense and myrrh have medicinal properties, so holistic practitioners suggest these for patients as dietary supplements and essential oils for various ailments. But what exactly is frankincense and myrrh?

    They are both gummy resins that are tapped from the inner bark of two different trees that grow in the Arabian peninsula, Africa and India. A resin to a tree, is akin to a scab on our skin, so clearly, these resins are more protective to the shrub than plain sap.

    I'll focus on frankincense right now which is rich in "boswellic acids," an ingredient that has strong anti-inflammatory benefits. While shopping, you may see it as "frankincense" or "boswellia" and it comes as a liquid extract taken orally, or capsules as well as essential oils which are used on the skin or in aromatizers.

    Boswellia herb is always in my home. I will often buy the ingestible powder at my local apothecary, grind it in my coffee grinder for 5 seconds, and then encapsulate the finely ground powder. You can certainly buy commercially-prepared brands of this, you don't have to hand-create it like me!

    Boswellia has been studied and found to prevent the growth of certain types of cancers in 'test tube' studies. In 2009, researchers examined AKBA or "acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid" and found positive benefits. This study was titled, Frankincense Superior to Chemotherapy in Killing Late-Stage Ovarian Cancer Cells. This is not the first study to suggest anti-cancer properties. The results of another study proved that frankincense oil could help with bladder cancer. The researchers concluded, "Frankincense oil might represent an alternative intravesical agent for bladder cancer treatment."

    Now, it's time for myrrh which is another resin extracted from the Commiphora myrrha tree. Research confirms the presence of guggulsterones in myrrh which may help with cholesterol ratios, specifically by lowering LDL. Guggulsterones are blood thinners so be careful and don't combine with aspirin, NSAIDs, warfarin or other blood thinners. One more thing, pregnant women should avoid myrrh since it's a uterine stimulant.

    The essential oil of myrrh is used topically to soothe your skin and help with gingivitis. So profound is myrrh's ability to heal damaged tissues, Greek soldiers carried it into battle with them to use for skin infections and gangrene. Myrrh is a strong anti-bacterial, anti parasitic and antifungal. Just like it's relative frankincense, myrrh also possesses strong anti-cancer properties. A Chinese test tube study published in 2013, found that "cycloartane-type triterpernoids" could destroy prostate cancer cells. Pretty impressive! In fact, just inhaling the scent of pure frankincense or myrrh can cause your brain and heart to respond favorably. Centuries may go by, but it's clear that frankincense and myrrh are still a wise gift of health.

  • Naturally Improving Prostate Health

    naturally improving prostate health, prostate cancer

    The prostate is an important male gland that secretes a fluid found in semen.1 In addition, the urethra (the tube through which urine flows) runs through the prostate, so changes in prostate structure, such as prostate enlargement, can profoundly and negatively affect urinary function. The most common issue that impacts prostate health for most men is benign prostatic hyperplasia. A more serious, common issue is prostate cancer. This article will review these problems, and consider some key nutraceuticals that may help.

  • Nutritional Needs of Men

    You don’t need to believe that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” in order to accept that men and women have different nutritional needs. Men lead in eight of the top ten causes of death in the United States. As is often observed, because men are more reluctant than women to seek medical care, when they do so, their illnesses typically have advanced to a more serious degree. It would seem that men, even more than women, would do well to adopt defensive measures to preserve their health. Women are not only the fairer sex, but when it comes to health, they are in general, also savvier. However, men should not depend on the supplements used by their wives or women friends. Some preventative measures are strictly gender-specific. For example, whereas calcium and iron are good for women, these minerals may not be good supplement choices for men.

    For men, the primary health issues today probably are cardiovascular disease and conditions affecting the prostate. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and prostate cancer is the seventh. Are matters improving? It is hard to tell. For instance, the incidence rate of prostate cancer went up in the period from 1995 to 2000, although the death rate appeared to have stabilized. Fortunately, the rate of lung cancer continues to decline. As for heart disease, our current emergency medical interventions are so effective that the death rate is declining. However, actual cardiovascular health is not improving—the rate of occurrence of first heart attacks is going up. How could it be otherwise? Obesity, diabetes and hypertension are all increasing. Diabetes in adults males over the age of 20 is estimated to now occur at a rate of 9.3 percent (data for 1999–2000) compared to 7.9 percent in the period from 1988 to 1994. For men aged 60 or over, the rate in 1999–2000 was roughly 19 percent. The following suggestions are designed to help men take charge of their health while the ball is still in their court.

    Cardiovascular Disease
    Cardiovascular health is a common topic of conversation. The reason, of course, is that heart disease in its various forms is the leading cause of death in adults and is especially prevalent in males. By age 60, one in five men will have already suffered a heart attack. The conditions to watch usually have been taken to be dysregulated blood lipids, homocysteine levels, hypertension, and obesity. More recently, it has been suggested that chronic low-level inflammation is a major causal factor in cardiovascular disease and that the Metabolic Syndrome (insulin resistance) is the actual underlying condition responsible for many or even most of the risk factors traditionally treated as indicators of heart and circulatory health.

    Antioxidants, Essential Fatty Acids and Minerals
    So-called “bad” cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (or LDL), according to much current thinking, is only harmful if it has been damaged by oxygen and/or free radicals. Therefore, a protective program might include vitamin C (500 mg—2 grams daily) taken along with vitamin E as gamma-tocopherol (200 IU daily) and plant antioxidants. Tocotrienols, compounds from the same family as vitamin E, may be even more protective. A spate of studies have shown that the beneficial effects of vitamin E are much more pronounced in the gammatocopherol form and that vitamin E should not be supplemented alone, but rather in conjunction with vitamin C and the other antioxidants mentioned here. Indeed, many researchers now believe that the vitamin antioxidants are much more effective if used together and along with a variety of plant-derived antioxidants.

    Grape seed extract (100–300 mg daily) is commonly used in Europe by individuals who experience vascular and general circulatory problems. According to epidemiological data, safe and effective means of reducing heart disease risks include the ingestion of many such flavonoids, catechins and other polyphenols found in fruit extracts and tea. With regard to tea, these benefits come not just from green tea, but also from the theaflavins found in black and oolong teas. Another set of plant compounds that support heart health are lignans. Flax is especially rich in lignans. Tea, of course, is a beverage and flax is a food. Other food sources being mined for special antioxidants include olives and various highly colored berries.

    Similarly useful nutrients include the combination of L-carnitine (500–1,500 mg daily) and coenzyme Q-10 (30– 300 mg daily). Specialty forms of L-carnitine include L-carnitine fumarate, GPLC (glycine propionyl L-carnitine hydrochloride) and acetyl L-carnitine. Alpha-Lipoic acid (100–300 mg daily) is another good choice, and one with a particularly broad range of benefits. Minerals to supplement are chromium (200–600 mcg daily), magnesium (400 mg daily, preferably as magnesium aspartate) and selenium (200 mcg daily). A good broad-spectrum mineral supplement containing the Reference Daily Intake of copper should be considered if using the higher recommendation of vitamin C or if elevated triglycerides are a problem. Emerging evidence also supports supplementation with the lesser-known mineral silicon in the form of orthosilicic acid.

    Of great importance, for instance, in controlling inflammation, is the right balance of fats in the diet. It is accepted by most researchers that the modern Western diet is very poor in the essential fats known as omega-3 fatty acids. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseed oil (1–2 tablespoons daily) and fish oil capsules (follow manufacturers’ recommendations). Just how important are these oils? Well, when the fish-supplemented trials are removed from statistical analyses of the standard low-fat dietary interventions routinely touted in medical circles, the benefits with regard to heart disease are marginal and overall mortality rates actually increase! Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, 100–300 mg daily) can be taken in conjunction with omega-3 fatty acids for further protection against inflammation and to maintain immune balance when large amounts of fish oils are ingested. Finally, to protect against elevated blood homocysteine levels, supplement with vitamin B-6 (15–50 mg daily), vitamin B-12 (250 mcg daily) and folic acid (400 mcg daily).

    Prostate Health
    What can go wrong with the prostate? Plenty. Prostate problems typically can be catalogued under four headings: prostatitis, prostatodynia, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and prostate cancer. Prostatitis is really a catch-all term for several types of prostate problems. It always involves inflammation of the prostate and may also include considerable pain, whereas BPH may not involve any pain (as opposed to discomfort). Prostatitis is fairly common in adult males. It sometimes has a bacterial infectious component, but it often has no clear cause. Abstaining from alcohol and spicy foods helps in some cases. Prostatodynia, which is most common in young and middle-aged men, often appears as pain and/or discomfort in the groin, perineum, testicles, lower back, and penis. Smooth muscle spasms in the prostatic portion of the urethra and in the neck of the bladder are at work here. Fatigue in the muscles in the pelvic region and emotional stress appear to be powerful contributory factors in prostatodynia.

    Benign prostatic hyperplasia (formerly called hypertrophy) involves the renewed growth in the number of prostate cells late in life. Unfortunately, nearly 60 percent of men age 40 to 59 are likely already to suffer from BPH. This usually does not present a noticeable problem until after age 50, but by the age of 80, some 85 percent of all men suffer from one or more symptoms of BPH. The primary effect of BPH is a progressive decrease in the ability to empty the bladder as the prostate enlarges and applies pressure to the urethra. BPH should not be confused with prostate cancer,although there is an overlap of symptoms between the two. Men over age 50 should regularly visit their urologists to discover and distinguish between these two conditions. Fortunately, prostate cancer is one of the slowest growing of all cancers. Antioxidants, Essential Fatty Acids and Minerals

    Prostate problems are far easier to prevent than to deal with after they have manifested. Moreover, especially in the case of prostate cancer, epidemiological studies routinely find that eating more fruit and vegetables is strongly protective, whereas consuming large amounts of milk (especially more than two glasses per day) appears to have a strongly negative effect upon prostate health. Studies suggest that supplementing with vitamin E (200 IU daily), lycopene (5–10 mg daily), and the minerals selenium (400 mcg daily) and zinc (15 mg daily) are good protective measures. Flaxseed oil (1–2 tablespoons daily) can be quite beneficial, as can the regular consumption of pumpkin seeds. Men should avoid margarine, hydrogenated vegetable oils and fried foods whenever possible. The jury is still out with regard to the effects of calcium supplementation in men. Some epidemiological studies indicate that higher intakes of calcium are correlated to higher risks of prostate cancer, perhaps through a negative effect upon the levels of active vitamin D in the body or through some other mechanism. The work of E. Giovannucci of Harvard Medical School has been instrumental in uncovering the calcium/prostate cancer connection and the protective effects of fruit consumption nd an adequate intake of vitamin D (but not more than 400 IU daily).

    Isoflavone Herbal Preparations
    Although it may surprise most men, many of the same isoflavones and phytoestrogens that are helpful to women are also helpful to men. Men and women both produce estrogen. As males age the ratio of testosterone to estrogen is reduced. This reduced ratio of testosterone to estrogen appears to be the key cause of prostate problems. Plant estrogens, which are very weak in comparison with the estrogen itself, can actually reduce the impact of hormonal estrogen at the level of cell receptors. Isoflavones found in soybeans and red clover represent a promising approach to prostate health management. Also useful are extracts of saw palmetto berries and flower pollen. Indeed, specialty flower pollen extracts (from mostly rye pollen) have an unusually broad range of benefits for the prostate in that they have proven to be useful not only in cases of BPH, but also in prostatitis and prostatodynia.

    Stress
    Prolonged stress poses a very real health risk, one with which men are less physiologically equipped to cope than are women. Higher rates of heart disease and high blood pressure are but two results. In the pre-modern world, many or even most threatening or challenging situations (“fight or flight” situations) led to a physical response which consumed and directed the energy made available by the release of hormones such as epinephrine into the blood stream. Physical responses, however, are not usually possible or even desirable in the face of stalled traffic or office frustrations. In such cases, the released energy is “bottled up,” as it were. This results in disturbances in sleep, immune function, blood pressure regulation and other bodily systems. As the “fight or flight” reference suggests, the best responses to stress are often physical. Try to get some vigorous physical exercise every day, but also consider practicing yoga or some similar form of relaxing physical therapy.

    Nutrients and Herbs for Relaxation
    Generalized emotional and physical stress leads to oxidative stress. Therefore, a broad-spectrum antioxidant mixture is an excellent countermeasure. Be sure to include in the diet, as well, the recommended daily intake of all of the B vitamins. The amino acids taurine (500 mg to 1 gram daily) and glutamine (750 mg to several grams daily) play important roles in the body’s response to stress. These are best utilized if taken between meals with a small carbohydrate snack. The bioflavonoid known as chrysin (1–3 grams daily) is an important stress-reducing compound, as are theaflavin, valerian and skullcap (see manufacturers’ directions). Also useful are calming herbal teas. The best known of these is chamomile.

    Sports Aches and Pains of the Weekend Warrior
    Exercise is important. In some studies, men who exercised regularly had a 70 percent reduced risk of death from all causes and a 39 percent reduced risk of death from heart attack. This is the good news. The bad news is that those of us who are sedentary for five days out of the week and then try to make up for this in the remaining two days of the weekend may find that we end up with more than our share of aches and pains. The body responds best to regular exercise, which is to say, exercise at least every other day. Cramming a week’s worth of exercise into the weekend is asking for trouble. And, of course, as we get older our ability to “bounce back” from strenuous physical exertion diminishes. Fortunately, there are some ways to prevent problems and to help make them go away once they develop.

    Antioxidants
    Conditioned athletes are actually able to produce more of certain antioxidant enzymes within their bodies to cope with this heightened demand, and this fact indicates that training may produce a type of “reserve capacity” for antioxidants. However, it is still true that exercise puts oxidative stress on the body. In various studies, athletes who ingested an antioxidant “cocktail” before working out experienced faster recovery and fewer aches and pains than those who did not take the antioxidants. The daily antioxidant intake might include vitamin C (500 mg–2 grams), vitamin E (100–200 IU as gammatocopherol), coenzyme Q-10 (30–300 mg), alpha-lipoic acid (100–300 mg), plus a number of plant antioxidants, such as mixed citrus bioflavonoids (1,000–3,000 mg). Individuals who are involved in contact sports might consider either grape seed or pine bark extracts (200–300 mg) to help prevent bruising. Glutamine (750 mg to several grams daily) recently has become one of the favored supplements by serious athletes because of its benefits in recovery and in sparing the destruction of lean tissues due to excessive exertion.

    Nutrients for Repair
    Ligament and cartilage injuries are common in sports. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are often recommended in osteoarthritis to improve the repair of cartilage, and these compounds can also be used to speed up repair—or to improve general resilience—of the joints, ligaments and tendons in sports. (Follow manufacturers’ directions.) Sadenosylmethionine (SAMe) is another nutrient that improves tissue repair and indirectly reduces pain and inflammation; the dosage is typically 400–800 mg of SAMe per day. Expect to wait from one to four weeks to experience the benefits of these supplements if you are just starting to use them. These items improve the body’s ability to heal itself and are not directed at symptoms as such.

    Hair Loss
    Roughly one half of the men in Western industrialized countries suffer from Male Pattern Baldness (MPB), and this syndrome accounts for some 90 percent of all cases of hair loss. However, the presence of MPB does not mean that other factors are not at work, such as reduced circulation. For instance, increases in hair loss in certain areas of the scalp correlate with the development of heart disease. For example, extreme thinning specifically on top of the head (rather than merely receding from the front) appears to be more strongly associated with circulatory disease than is balding elsewhere on the head. Hence, this problem is not always cosmetic and concern may not be limited to vanity.

    Hair Nutrients
    Deficiencies in the B vitamins biotin, inositol, pantothenic acid, and PABA are particularly linked to hair loss and to premature graying. A number of nutritionists have suggested that high-potency supplementation with the entire range of B vitamins, with special attention paid to biotin, inositol and pantothenic acid, may prove to be helpful. Vitamin C (1–2 grams daily) is important for the circulation, but also for the production of collagen, a component of the hair. Coenzyme Q-10 (30–300 mg daily) is another antioxidant often suggested to improve scalp circulation. Alpha-lipoic acid (100–300 mg daily) similarly appears to be effective and seems to be useful in hair loss if supplemented for at least six months. The amino acid cysteine (1–3 grams daily), also supplemented as Nacetyl-cysteine (NAC, 500–750 mg daily), can help to increase the speed at which the hair grows. A new and really interesting item that improves the quality of the hair is choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (BioSil)—it is worth a shot. No major improvements in scalp health or hair loss should be expected in less than three months’ time (the hair follicles need to be activated and the hair must grow out). For many men, increasing protein in the diet may also prove useful in increasing the rate at which the hair grows. This may reflect an effect upon thyroid function, in which case, adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet is also a good idea.

    Conclusion
    Men’s nutritional needs differ from those of women. It is not difficult however, to meet these special needs. A well-structured program of nutritional insurance should include as a foundation a balanced multivitamin/mineral supplement. Then plan in advance to provide nutritional support for any special needs. As always, it is recommend that you tell your doctor or health care provider what supplements or herbs you are taking. Even if he or she is not overly familiar with them, this knowledge is useful for monitoring your health.

  • Probing the Prostate—Safe and Effective Treatments for BPH

    Written by Elizabeth Steels, Ph.D.

    The prerequisites for developing benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH) are the presence of testes and age. It is one of the most frequently occurring diseases in men over 60 years of age. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), BPH affects more than 50 percent of men over the age of 60 and as many as 90 percent of men over the age of 70. This translates to a staggering 4.5 million visits to a physician for BPH in the United States in 2000.¹

    What are the symptoms?
    In the initial stages, a patient may experience increased urinary frequency during the day, nocturia (getting up at night to go to the toilet) and the sensations of not being able to empty completely. As the condition becomes more advanced, there is an increase in the obstructive symptoms characterized by the following: weak urine stream, difficulty starting urination, straining to urinate, stopping and starting again while urinating, dribbling at the end of urination, urgency, and pain on urination. If the BPH symptoms are severe, it may result in the inability to urinate. This can cause severe pain and discomfort. In addition, if urine is retained in the bladder for long periods of time, this can lead to urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, or bladder stones.³

    What is the primary risk factor?
    It appears that age itself is the primary risk factor for developing symptoms associated with BPH.

    Is there a link between hormonal changes during aging and benign prostate hypertrophy?

    The exact cause of BPH is unclear, although researchers believe it may be caused by hormonal changes that occur during the aging process.

    • Decreased testosterone levels: One theory is that as a man ages, the amount of testosterone in his blood decreases, leaving a higher proportion of estrogen in his blood. The disproportion of estrogen may contribute to cell growth within the prostate gland.
    • Increased levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT): Another possible theory is that as a man ages there is a hormonal change involving the accumulation of DHT, a by-product of testosterone in the body. If levels of DHT accumulate in the prostate,
    • overgrowth of cells in the prostate can occur.³

    What are the possible treatments?
    Treatment for BPH depends on the severity of symptoms. Medications are the most common way to control mild to moderate symptoms of BPH. Watchful waiting, also known as observation, expectant therapy or deferred therapy, is often the preferred approach for men with mild symptoms who aren’t bothered by them.

    —Pharmaceutical Medications
    The most commonly used medications are alpha-adrenergic blocking agents which work by relaxing the smooth muscle tissue. Since there is a large number of alpha-adrenergic receptors in the bladder, the bladder neck and prostate gland, they cause relaxation and reduced tone, which then allows urinary flow. Although these drugs have been found to be effective, patients may experience side effects including headache, dizziness, low blood pressure, fatigue, weakness, and difficulty breathing. These are due to the fact the drug works on all smooth muscle tissue in the body, not just the prostate. The long-term risks and benefits have not been studied.&sup4;

    The other common drug treatment is enzyme (5-alpha reductase) inhibitors that work directly on the endocrine system. They prevent the conversion of testosterone to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and as a result reduces the size of the prostate itself. However, while studies have shown a decrease in symptoms it does not correlate with urinary flow rate and volume. In many cases, a treatment period of six months is necessary to see if the therapy is going to work. The side effects include reduced libido, impotence, breast tenderness and enlargement, and reduced sperm count. Again, these effects are due to the fact the drug may reduce the total testosterone in the body and the effects are not restricted to the prostate gland. The long-term risks and benefits have not been studied.

    —Surgical Treatment Most doctors recommend removal of the enlarged part of the prostate as the best long-term solution for patients with BPH. With surgery for BPH, only the enlarged tissue that is pressing against the urethra is removed; the rest of the inside tissue and the outside capsule are left intact. Surgery usually relieves the obstruction and incomplete emptying caused by BPH.1 Surgery used to be the most common way to treat BPH. Today, its use is declining because of new medications and minimally invasive treatments. Surgery is usually used when non-surgical treatments fail or if there are BPH complications.²

    —Complementary Medicines The principle goal of BPH treatment is to reduce excessive cell growth by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into the more potent hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and so preventing estrogen from attaching to receptors in prostate tissue.

    Some supplements are intended to reduce symptoms while others will provide nutritional support. The combination of glycine, alanine, and glutamic acid can reduce urinary urgency, urinary frequency, and delayed micturition (initiation of flow). Beta-sitosterol may also help reduce symptoms of BPH. Betasitosterol also lowers cholesterol, which is important since high cholesterol levels can contribute to prostate hypertrophy. Flaxseed oil is a good source of the essential fatty acid (EFA) alphalinolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). It is well-known that zinc is an important mineral for male health. Why? It may be related to the fact that zinc inhibits 5 alpha reductase and therefore lowers DHT production.

    The most well studied herb is saw palmetto (Serenoa serrulata). Saw palmetto is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor that inhibits the conversion of testosterone to DHT in the prostate, has an antiestrogenic effect, and helps improve all symptoms of BPH. Both pygeum (Pygeum africanum) and stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) may also reduce BPH symptoms although research is less conclusive.

    Latest research— UrologicPros
    One of the most recent exciting breakthroughs in this area has been the development of a unique herbal and mineral preparation, UrologicPros™, which has been clinically proven to be effective in reducing the urinary symptoms associated with BPH.

    UrologicPros contains a patented formulation of herb ingredients, crateva and horsetail, which has been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of overactive bladder in men and women with urinary incontinence. In this formulation, it has been combined with saw palmetto, zinc and selenium, which support prostate health.

    In the most recent study, 33 men were asked to take UrologicPros (as an oral supplement) each day for a period of three months. Symptoms were assessed using a diary of urinary frequency (day and night) and the International Prostate Symptom Score.

    There was a significant gradual reduction in daytime urinary frequency over the three months, for those with moderate and severe symptoms. There was also a significant reduction in episodes of nocturia over the three months.

    There was an overall 40 percent reduction in symptoms over the three months. The median reduction (of individual results) was 45 percent with a range from (0–81 percent improvement). The greatest improvement was seen relating to nocturia, and urinary flow (particularly the symptom “difficulty emptying bladder”). The positive effect of the treatment on nocturia was seen within the first month, whereas the urinary flow symptoms improved most significantly after two months of treatment. There was also a significant improvement in quality of life reported as well. At completion of the study, 29 of the 33 subjects (88 percent) wanted to continue with treatment.

    Figure 1: Average daytime urination frequency after treatment with UrologicPros

    Figure 2: Average episodes of nocturia after treatment with UrologicPros

    The inclusion of whole, fresh, unrefined, and unprocessed foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, soy, beans, seeds, nuts, olive oil, and cold-water fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut, and mackerel) may help. It is important to remember that eating organic food helps reduce exposure to hormones, pesticides, and herbicides (which affect testosterone and estrogen balance). Optimal hormonal balance will occur in the absence of refined sugar and flour, dairy products, refined foods, fried foods, junk foods, and hydrogenated oils. There will be less stress on the bladder system itself if the amount of alcohol (particularly beer), and caffeine in the diet is reduced.

    In summary, at present we have a limited understanding of the pathology underlying the symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate as men age. There are no specific pharmacological medications specific for the prostate (or drugs that do not have unwanted side effects in the body). Based on its current success rate, surgery should always be considered a last option when all other treatments have failed. However, there is increasing research directed at the role for individual and combined nutraceuticals in the management of urinary tract problems including BPH. Therefore, natural treatments should be considered as the first line of defense on the treatment of benign prostate hypertrophy.

    Elizabeth Steels, Ph.D. is the research director for Applied Science and Nutrition, an Australian based research organization. Elizabeth is a clinical nutritionist with over 15 years in clinical research, natural health and education.

      References
    1. 1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, NIH Publication No. 04–3012, Prostate Enlargement. http//kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/prostate enlargement/index.htm#gland#gland
    2. 2. Mayo Clinic. Enlarged prostate (BPH) guide. www.mayoclinic.com/health/enlarged-prostate-bph/BP99999/PAGE=BP00016
    3. 3. E Drug digest. Begin Prostate Hypertropy. www.drugdigest.org/DD/HC/Treatment/0,4047,550246,00.html&e=14911
    4. 4. Urology Channel. Prostate. www.urologychannel.com/prostate

  • The Special Nutritional Needs of Men

    Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin Part III

    This article is the third in the series begun with “Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin” and continued with “The Special Nutritional Needs of Women.” Here it is observed again you do not need to believe “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” in order to accept that men and women have different nutritional needs. Men lead in eight of the top ten causes of death in the United States. As it is often remarked, because men are more reluctant than women to seek medical care, when they do so, their illnesses typically have advanced to a more serious degree. It would seem that men, even more than women, would do well to adopt defensive measures to preserve their health. However, men should not depend on the supplements used by their wives or women friends. Some preventative measures are strictly gender-specific. The following suggestions are designed to help men take charge of their health while the ball is still in their court.