inflammation

  • Antioxidant Digest

    Antioxidant Digest Antioxidant Foods Doctor Paris Kidd

    Antioxidants, Our Natural Protectants: Metabolic Regulators, Antitoxins and Anti-inflammatories

    Antioxidants protect us. They are the sub-stances that naturally regulate the fires within our bodies.

    The fires are sparked by metabolic errors in our cells—errors that are unavoidable as our cells make and use energy for the business of life. The fires can be managed when we are young and very healthy but become harder to control as we get older. Aging is not so much bad genes as it is a slow, inexorable, cumulative consequence of tissue damage from internal fires, sparked by these unavoidable errors of metabolism.

    The sparks of metabolism come from living with oxygen. Our life forms breathe in oxygen and use it to do controlled “burns” that extract energy from our foods. Oxygen-based energy allows us to become more sophisticated than amoebas, but comes with a big price. Oxygen is so reactive that it draws single electrons to it, generating oxygen-free radicals within our cells. These “oxyrads” are our unavoidable “sparks of metabolism.” Antioxidants keep them from destroying our cells.

    Our tiny metabolic sparks are generated at a steady rate, the oxyrads having single electrons which cause them to attack biological molecules. Molecules with single electrons are aggressive oxidants: they steal single electrons to become paired up. Antioxidants block this process by donating their own electrons.

    The antioxidant defenses dare not fail. When they do, important bio-molecules lose single electrons, themselves become unstable, and initiate spreading chain reactions. A chain reaction that escapes control becomes inflammation, with cell and tissue death and progressive loss of functional capacity. Inflammatory events are our internal fires, opposed by antioxidant enzymes backed up by our dietary antioxidant intakes. Our antioxidant defenses give us power to head off degenerative disease and achieve long life.

    By quenching the metabolic sparks, antioxidants are also our natural antitoxins. But if the oxygen-free-radical toxins were the only problem, we'd likely all live 120 years or more. Think about cigarette smoke—100 trillion free radicals per puff. A total 4,000-plus synthetic chemicals in everyday use; even drugs we buy over the counter set small fires. Not to mention the illicit “recreational drugs.” Even emotional stress can overheat our metabolism. In this crazy world it's not good to leave home without your antioxidants.

    Infectious agents are consistently linked to inflammation. In 1990 I documented inflammatory depletion of antioxidants by HIV-1. Then there's Hepatitis C virus in the livers of four million Americans. The bacterium Helicobacter pylori accounts for the majority of inflammatory stomach and intestinal ulcers. About half of the chronically ill American veterans of the Gulf War have mycoplasmal infections. We also can't forget Chlamydia pneumoniae, the fungus Candida albicans and Giardia and amebic protozoal parasites.

    Our own host immune system may trigger inflammation from over-reaction to resistant pathogens. The immune cells produce huge quantities of free radicals when on the attack. When pathogens are not easily eliminated, the immune oxidant production can get out of control, resulting in local exhaustion of antioxidant defenses and another inflammatory focus.

    Almost every toxic substance steals electrons and therefore can deplete the body's antioxidants. Thus, the body's own efforts to process some substances can actually make them worse toxins. The P450 detoxification system, located mostly in the liver, combines oxygen with water-insoluble substances such as cholesterol, estrogens, pollutants, pharmaceuticals, even herbal constituents. They are made into free radicals, to be later combined with antioxidants and made water-soluble for clearance with the urine or bile. But things don't always go as planned.

    The P450 system wasn't designed to deal with the huge mass of toxins that enter the body. Let's talk about acetaminophen. This legal, over-the-counter drug (Tylenol®) is made highly reactive by the liver P450 enzymes. Then it burns away glutathione, the major liver antioxidant, and begins to kill liver cells. Liver failure can result. Organochlorine pollutants, indoor pesticides, mercury and other heavy metals (and let's not forget alcohol and cigarette smoke derivatives) all deplete glutathione and threaten all the tissues.

    I recently did a series of in-depth reviews of degenerative diseases. The major pattern I see with atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, bowel diseases, liver diseases, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, cataract, arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, prostate diseases, many cancers—is inflammation. By combating inflammation, antioxidants are our essential natural defense against premature suffering and death.

    The body relies on foods to replenish its internal antioxidant stores. From our whole, unprocessed foods come the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E; the antioxidant essential minerals, selenium and zinc and copper and manganese; the semi-essential antioxidants coenzyme Q10 (COQ) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA); lutein, lycopene and other carotenoids; the polyphenolic flavonoids and various substances from traditional herbs. These circulate in our blood and contribute integratively to the blocking of free radicals. But a growing body of research indicates we aren't getting enough from our foods for optimal protection against disease.

    The healthy body tries to conserve the nutritional antioxidants through metabolic recycling. But still there is a “burn” on our reserves. Dr. Robert Cathcart, the foremost authority on vitamin C , speaks of a “hundred-gram cold,” an influenza so severe it can burn away 100 grams (not milligrams) of vitamin C in just a day or two. A flu attack can be held to just a few days instead of a few weeks by taking lots of C and other antioxidants.

    Integrative medical practitioners report that just about all their patients benefit from supplemental antioxidants. Vitamin E has been known for decades to be lifesaving against heart disease.Most of the health food community thinks of vitamin E as tocopherols. But tocotrienols are legitimate members of the vitamin E family and are excellent antioxidants. They are under clinical investigation for benefit against atherosclerotic blood vessel disease and experimentally for the slowing of cancer cell growth and proliferation.

    Stephen Sinatra, M.D., a cardiologist and leader in the practice of integrative medicine, has long been a booster for COQ. I can relate to this because I also see COQ's fantastic promise. As I read about health care costs soaring through the roof, I wonder why COQ is not being fortified in our foods to lower gum disease, to improve heart and blood vessel health, to boost immunity and fight cancer development, even (yes!) to lengthen everyone's productive lifespan.

    Coenzyme Q10 is unique as a potent antioxidant and indispensable energy catalyst (only ALA has a similar double role). Many of Dr. Sinatra's patients are very deficient in COQ. People taking statin drugs, beta-blockers or certain of the anti-depressants may have their internal COQ synthesis blocked. For them and probably for many of the sick and elderly, COQ is practically a vitamin. Any insufficiency of COQ can endanger the heart through impairing its energetic capacity.

    Dr. Sinatra has linked much of the heart disease he sees in women to COQ deficiency. More than 100 clinical studies document that COQ improves congestive heart failure, angina, high blood pressure. About 15 percent of Dr. Sinatra's patients do not improve satisfactorily on COQ alone; these he gives carnitine and then improvement usually occurs. He also sees in the clinical evidence a potential link between poor COQ status and cancers, especially in women.

    Selenium is an essential trace mineral, required through the diet though only in small quantities. Selenium has importance for human health that belies its plain mineral status. It is specific for the active sites of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GP). GP is a central player in control over free radicals.

    In 1996 a major paper appeared in the prestigious (and conservative) New England Journal of Medicine, making an almost unbelievable claim. It described a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in which more than 1,300 subjects were followed for up to 10 years. Dietary supplementation with selenium produced a 50 percent reduction in total cancer mortality. The incidence of cancer was reduced by one-third. Lung, colorectal and prostate cancer incidence were markedly reduced. The material used was SelenoExcell™, an organic selenium concentrate that resembles the selenium found in food.

    The carotenoids are, like vitamin E, fat-soluble antioxidants. One of them—lycopene—has been linked to exciting early results against prostate cancer. A small but controlled, clinical trial focused on male subjects undergoing surgery for prostate cancer. Half were offered a dietary supplement of LYC-O-MATO®, a standardized natural tomato extract with four times the typical lycopene content. PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels and prostate tumor size were significantly reduced, compared with the control subjects.

    More recently, in a placebo-controlled, crossover trial, LYC-O-MATO® also showed good results in lowering high blood pressure. Its natural combination of lycopene with other plant nutrients may offer a unique synergy for the protection of our health against free radical and other toxic damage.

    Lutein is the only carotenoid found in high concentrations in the retina, a thin cell layer at the back of the eye which constantly takes a high dose of light radiation. Macular degeneration destroys the retina and afflicts one out of four Americans over age 65. Lutein is being researched for its capacity to protect the retina and the lens of the eye and it also has anticancer potential.

    Grape seed extracts are concentrates of flavonoid polymers. When the great scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi received the Nobel Prize for discovering vitamin C, he commented that he had expected to get it for discovering the flavonoids. The small polymers (oligomeric procyanidins) and polyphenols in grapes work synergistically with vitamin C to conserve the functions of the blood vessel linings and walls. Some of these flavonoids also have antiviral and possible anticancer actions.

    As scientists continue with their dedicated investigations of food constituents, the latest phytonutrient star is rosmarinic acid (RA). This substance is extracted from a naturally high-yielding strain of oregano and also occurs in thyme and rosemary. All three of these plants have been revered for their medicinal properties literally for centuries. RA appears to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties, while its high antioxidant potency has proved useful for stabilizing vegetable oils against frying. It has been prepared as a powder without solvents or other processing chemicals. Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects are also being investigated.

    Antioxidants are, together with phospholipids, nutrients with profound nutraceutical potential. Whether supplementation with these nutrients will extend the maximum lifespan remains to be proven. Certainly the clinical and experimental studies suggest that functional deficiencies of these nutrients result in cell-level dysfunctions with the potential to spark inflammation that progresses to life-shortening degenerative disease.

    We need to keep the fires within us at a very low ebb lest they develop into the raging infernos of uncontrolled inflammation. Consumption of a variety of functional foods and supplements enriched with these nutrients will help keep that doctor away.

    Phospholipids, Functional Partners of Antioxidants

    by Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D.

    Within the cells, circulating lipoproteins, digestive fluids and elsewhere in the body, phospholipids co-occur and co-function with antioxidants. The phospholipids (pronounced fos-fo-lip-ids) self-assemble into membranes and other multidimensional structures, together with antioxidants to protect them against oxidative destruction. This partnership between nutrient classes profoundly influences the health of the whole being.

    The cell membranes are dynamic molecular assemblies that house life's plethora of biochemical processes. Our 100 trillion cells all rely on membranes to carry out their functions. Cell membrane organization is shown on the left of the illustration. Catalytic proteins are housed within a flexible bilayer (two molecular sheets), the phospholipid matrix. The matrix also houses antioxidants, including tocopherols and tocotrienols of the vitamin E family; lycopene, lutein and other carotenoids and ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10 or COQ). Also present is the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, using selenium as its mineral co-factor.

    Phospholipids (PL) are the most biochemically-suited building blocks for membranes. The right side of the illustration shows the molecular plan of a common membrane PL such as PS (PhosphatidylSerine)or PC (PhosphatidylCholine).

    The fatty acid tails often are highly unsaturated and therefore susceptible to oxyradical or other oxidant attack. The more unsaturated the membrane, the more antioxidant protection is required. The PL head groups each bring special properties to the membrane. In PS the head group has serine, in PC it has choline. The “prophospholipid” GPC (GlyceroPhosphoCholine) has the choline head group but lacks fatty acid tails, and is absent from the membrane proper.

    PS is most concentrated in nerve cell membranes. Its head group associates with membrane proteins particularly crucial to nerve cell functions. These include:

    • The sodium-potassium AND calcium-magnesium transporters that use up to 70 percent of all the cell's energy;
    • Enzymes for signal transduction—protein kinases and adenylyl cyclases;
    • Receptors, sensors for chemical transmitters (acetylcholine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, serotonin, others), also for nerve growth factors;
    • Proteins of the mitochondrial membranes, central to energetics. Here PS also is a backup for other phospholipids.

    These membrane-level functions of PS translate to health for the whole being. Double-blind trials (20 of them) show PS a superior nutrient for memory support, for partial restoration of declining cognitive function, for coping with stress in the healthy young. Preliminary research suggests PS can improve attention, learning and behavior in children.

    The energy for life is generated in cell membranes. In the process oxygen radicals (“oxyrads”) are generated which are highly reactive. However good the antioxidant defenses are, some oxyrads escape control and attack membranes. Thus the brain, with its intense energy generation (up to 60 percent of the body's total), must continually renew its cell membranes. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, the minerals selenium, zinc and manganese, the energizers COQ and alpha-lipoic acid, the carotenoids lutein and lycopene, standardized polyphenolic flavonoids and other food borne antioxidants, all synergize with PS to help optimize brain functions.

    The liver is our workhorse organ; its cells contain a total eight football fields worth of membrane area, to perform 500 different functions. In its efforts to detoxify foreign substances it generates a further oxidative load on top of its usual oxyrad burden. Oxidants from foods, viruses, pollutants and drugs challenge the liver's antioxidant capacity. Though the healthy liver is well endowed with antioxidants, oxidant overload can kill cell membranes. Enter PC (PhosphatidylCholine), the most common phospholipid of membranes.

    Antioxidant Digest

     

    Dietary supplementation with PC has clinically important, sometimes lifesaving benefits for the liver. In eight double-blind clinical trials, PC protected the human liver against alcoholic inflammation, viral infection and toxic prescription rugs, markedly improving the speed and extent of patient recovery.

    The liver also carries a substantial reserve of GPC, which is readily converted into PC to make membrane. It is the most bioavailable source of choline to help the liver cells regenerate and perhaps for similar reasons is highly concentrated in mother's milk.

    Taken by mouth, GPC quickly clears the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain. Working through various mechanisms, it sharpens attention and immediate recall in young, healthy subjects. In the middle-aged it benefits information processing and general mental focus. In the elderly it improves declining cognitive functions linked to circulatory damage. GPC's support for nerve cell functions, including a protective role as osmotic buffer, make a convenient biochemical fit with the antioxidant defenses operative in the brain.

    Functional partnership between phospholipids and the antioxidants is not limited to membranes. The circulating lipoproteins produced in the liver (HDL, LDL and others) are made mostly from PL building blocks. Dietary PL facilitate normal, pro-homeostatic lipoprotein status, probably through their support of the liver.

    The LDL are the main vehicles for delivery of fat-soluble antioxidants—E, COQ, alpha-lipoic, carotenoids, others—to the tissues. In all of 12 double-blind trials, phospholipid mixtures lowered abnormally high total- and LDL- cholesterol without harming the HDL levels. In another double-blind trial, PL significantly improved blood flow to the brain and improved abnormal platelet aggregation. These marked circulatory benefits of the PL clearly complement antioxidants' benefits for the circulating lipoproteins and blood vessel walls.

    Phospholipids combine with antioxidants in facilitating digestion. The bile fluid is essential for fat digestion and absorption. Bile has a large content of PL, functioning with the antioxidant taurine as micellizing agents to fully disperse the fat molecules. Fatty acids of the omega-3 or omega-6 class make up many of the phospholipid “tails.” These are held in position by their parent PL molecules while enzymes break away prostaglandins (PG) and other messenger molecules. Membrane antioxidants help regulate the PG formed, to support a favorable balance.

    The natural co-functioning of phospholipids with antioxidants in our cells and tissues suggests combination supplements for synergistic benefits. In particular, a new technology (NutriVail™) employs custom phospholipids to make monomolecular dispersions of antioxidants, with the aim of substantially enhanced bio-availability and unique clinical benefit.

    Peer-reviewed publications available on request. Dr. Kidd is scientific consultant to Lipoid USA.

    Lutein For Eye Health

    Recent scientific studies showing a clear association between lutein intake and a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts are capturing the attention of both consumers and their eye doctors. The need is growing clearer:

    • One out of four people aged 65 or older has early signs of AMD.
    • One out of two people aged 65 or older has a cataract or cloudiness in the eye's lens.
    • As the largest population group in the United States ages, many people are facing the likelihood of what some simply accept as part of aging, vision loss.

    A Food and Nutrition Board report found that lutein is the nutrient most strongly associated with decreased risk of AMD and cataracts.

    Lutein and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    Prevent Blindness America estimates that 13 million people in this country have evidence of AMD, a condition that gradually destroys central vision. While the exact cause of this debilitating condition is still unknown, family history and age are known factors.

    Lutein is found in the macula's “yellow spot,” a tiny region at the center of the retina. This tiny yellow spot filters blue light for the color vision cells within the retina. The researchers found that lutein is deposited in the retina and macula, increasing its density and protecting the tissue from oxidation by filtering blue light and quenching free radicals.

    Experts say that by the time a person exhibits symptoms of AMD the disease has been developing for decades. Baby Boomers are showing concern about their aging eyesight and stocking up on supplement products formulated with lutein to reduce risk of age-related macular degeneration.

    Lutein and Cataracts

    While cataracts generally occur in people over the age of 65, they are occasionally found in younger people as well. A cataract is a clouding that develops in the normally clear lens of the eye. This process prevents the lens from properly focusing light on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in a loss of vision.

    Lutein's link to cataracts is recent but well documented. Studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest intake of lutein and its fellow carotenoid antioxidant, zeaxanthin, had a 22 percent reduced risk for cataracts; men had 19 percent reduced risk.

    “Many people have been told that nothing can be done about cataracts—that they are a natural effect of the aging process,” says Robert Abel, Jr. M.D., author of The Eye Care Revolution and member of the Lutein Information Bureau Advisory Board. “But they're now finding out that dietary changes, including consumption of lutein, may have a significant impact on risk reduction.”

    At the same time, consumers are taking charge of their eye health and seeking out possible solutions. A recent independent survey of consumers shows lutein awareness at 44 percent across all age groups and at more than 57 percent among consumers aged 65 years or older.

    Mounting scientific evidence also has convinced eye doctors of the many benefits of lutein, with 84 percent currently recommending lutein to their patients, according to an independent survey of 300 U.S. ophthalmologists and optometrists.

    These eye doctors also support use of lutein for long-term eye health (91 percent), believe consumers should supplement their diet with lutein daily (71 percent) and believe lutein is the nutrient that best supports long-term eye health (58 percent).

    antioxidant foods lutein zeaxanthin leafy greens

    What is lutein?

    Lutein (LOO-teen) is a nutrient found predominantly in vegetables, particularly in dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Lutein belongs to a class of natural, fat-soluble pigments called carotenoids. It promotes long-term eye health in two ways. First, acting as a light filter, lutein protects the eyes from some of the damaging effects of the sun. Second, as an antioxidant, it protects the eyes from the damaging effects of aging.

    Foods considered good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include:

    • Eggs
    • Leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and romaine lettuce
    • Broccoli
    • Zucchini
    • Garden peas and Brussels sprouts

    Lutein is found naturally in the human body. In fact, it is the only carotenoid found in large quantities in the retina and at low levels in the lens of the eye. The human body is unable to manufacture lutein, however, so the body must rely on the consumption of lutein-rich foods or lutein supplements to replenish lutein levels and counteract oxidative damage from light as well as the effects of aging.

    A 1994 Harvard University study by Dr. Johanna Seddon pointed first to lutein's important role in maintaining long-term eye health. Since then, more than a dozen scientific studies published by such peer-reviewed medical journals as the Journal of the American Medical Association, Archives of Ophthalmology and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have continued to show an association between lutein intake and various long-term eye health benefits.

    Editor's Note: Look for a good quality supplement combination of Lutein and Zeaxanthin containing either FloraGLO® brand lutein or Lutemax 2020 and Zeaxanthin. Check our Products We Like section for more information on recommended products

    Lyc-O-Mato® Standardized Natural Lycopene Complex

    by James Balch, M.D.

    The good news is that there is clinical proof you can build a powerful antioxidant defense system against prostate cancer. By incorporating LYC-O-MATO® (standardized natural tomato extract) into your daily nutrition program you can access remarkable fighting power against prostate cancer and a host of other degenerative diseases.

    The standardized natural tomato extract contains several phytonutrients found in tomatoes including lycopene, tocopherols, vitamin E, phytofluene, phytoene, phytosterols, beta carotene and more. LYC-O-MATO is extracted from non-GMO tomatoes grown in Israel that contain four times the lycopene content of tomatoes grown elsewhere.

    A six-year Harvard Medical School study of healthy males found that consuming tomatoes, tomato sauce or pizza more than twice a week, as opposed to never, was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer of 21 to 34 percent, depending on the food.

    As exciting as its cancer-prevention potential is the evidence that shows lycopene may help fight existing cancer. A recent paper published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention by Omer Kucuk, M.D., professor of medicine and oncology, and his colleagues at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan, evaluated the effect encapsulated LYC-O-MATO had on patients with existing prostate cancer. In this study, Dr. Kucuk and colleagues followed 30 men with localized prostate cancer who were scheduled to undergo surgical removal of the prostate. For three weeks prior to surgery the study participants were randomly assigned to receive either 250 milligrams LYC-O-MATO from LycoRed Natural Products, Beer-Sheva, Israel (which contains 15 milligram of lycopene) twice daily or no intervention. Following removal of the prostates, the glands were analyzed to determine whether there were any differences between the two study groups.

    antioxidant foods LYC-CO-MATO tomato_extract

    The investigators found that the treated group had smaller tumors, which were more likely to be confined to the prostate. Levels of serum PSA were found to decline in the patients who received LYC-O-MATO tomato extract. In addition, the tumors in patients who consumed this natural lycopene showed signs of regression and decreased malignancy.

    “This was the first published report from a randomized prospective clinical trial showing the efficacy of a tomato extract supplement against prostate cancer,” said Dr. Kucuk. “Previous reports were largely epidemiological studies showing an association between consumption of tomato products and decreased risk of prostate cancer. Furthermore, our findings suggest that a tomato extract in the form of LYC-O-MATO may not only help prevent prostate cancer but also may be useful in treating prostate cancer.”

    Research using standardized LYC-O-MATO natural tomato extract is also good news for mild hypertensive patients reluctant to make lifestyle changes.

     

    Findings published in the The American Journal of Hypertension provide evidence that LYC-O-MATO may help lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients. The study, presented at the Sixteenth Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension on May 18, 2001, may provide a new alternative for about 50 million Americans who have hypertension.

    Americans interested in lowering their risk of high blood pressure are frequently encouraged to exercise and follow a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Typically, however, many are reluctant to make changes in their lifestyles. In fact, according to NOAH, an online health resource maintained by City University of New York, only 68 percent are aware of their high blood pressure condition and only 27 percent have it under control. High blood pressure contributes to 75 percent of all strokes and heart attacks.

    Now there is a natural alternative to controlling hypertension that may prevent Americans from making difficult lifestyle changes and/or taking drugs with harmful side effects.

    In a single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, Esther Paran, M.D., the study's principal investigator, evaluated the effect of LYC-O-MATO® on grade 1 hypertensive patients. In this study, 30 grade 1 hypertensive patients between the ages of 45–60 were administered a daily dose of identical placebos for the first four weeks of the study, followed by a 250 mg daily dose of LYC-O-MATO® for the final eight weeks of the study.

    Preliminary results of this study indicate a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure in treated patients. “We are optimistic about LYC-O-MATO'S potential in managing hypertension,” Dr. Paran said. “The results of this study demonstrate the ability of LYC-O-MATO® to reduce systolic blood-pressure, warranting additional studies in the future.”

    Other recent studies suggest that LYC-OMATO ® also provides a considerable level of defense against degenerative diseases including heart disease. Considering the results of these studies, combined with its positive effects on blood pressure, the importance of maintaining a normal level of natural phytonutrients like lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene and beta carotene in the human body is evident. It is recommended that individuals consume at least 80–250 mg of LYC-O-MATO® per day, which contains 15 mg of lycopene as well as other phytonutrients, to maintain good health.

    www.lycomato.com, or visit the American Society of Hypertension Web site at www.ash-us.org

    Grape Seed Extract and the French Paradox

    Antioxidant Foods Grape Seed Extracts

    What is the French paradox?

    Several years ago, epidemiologists studying heart disease in Europe noticed something strange—high fat leads to heart disease, right? Not in France. The French eat a large amount of cream, rich sauces, delicious desserts and a wide variety of tasty cheeses. Yet heart disease is lower in France than the rest of Europe. This phenomenon is called the French paradox. Check this out—the French imbibe more wine than the rest of Europe.

    The goodness of wine—flavonoids

    What's in the wine? Water, alcohol and several other compounds (such as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, tartaric acid) and more importantly flavonoids. Flavonoids are a large group of phenolic compounds that occur in fruits, cereals, legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, stems and flowers and also in beverages such as tea, cocoa, beer and wine. Flavonoids have several properties that could prevent heart diseases. They are antioxidants that help with the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). They also have anti-inflammatory properties and a beneficial effect on blood vessels as well.

    Grape seed—a vital source of flavonoids Grape seeds contain 5–8 weight percent of flavonoids. Commercially available grape seed extracts such as MegaNatural™ Gold (Polyphenolics, Madera, California) are a rich source of flavonoids. Benefits of flavonoids For several years scientists at the University of California-Davis have studied the effect of flavonoids from grape seeds on blood vessels and how it can reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Loss of endothelium-dependent relaxation (EDR) due to atherosclerosis is the primary cause for the formation of plaque in coronary arteries that leads to heart disease. EDR is caused by the release of nitric oxide (NO) from endothelial cells of the blood vessel. Experimental evidence led to the speculation that the release of NO could be mediated by a series of events that are initiated by a receptor, which is specific to flavonoids. EDR can be readily demonstrated by control experiments using established procedures. The effect of flavonoids on EDR was studied in detail over the past several years. Previous studies regarding the effect of flavonoids on EDR yielded conflicting results, possibly due to the variations in he quality of the extracts examined. However, recent studies using the commercially available grape seed extract MegaNatural Gold provided conclusive evidence that flavonoids have a protective effect against the development of endothelial dysfunction.

    In the experiments, a group of rabbits fed only with cholesterol showed loss of EDR. But, a group of rabbits fed with both grape seed extract, MegaNatural Gold and cholesterol showed no loss of EDR, proving the protective effect of the grape seed extract, MegaNatural Gold.

    Antioxidant activity of grape seed extracts Another study at the University of Scranton has demonstrated the superior antioxidant activity of grape seed extracts (GSEs) overwine, grape juice, vitamin C and vitamin E. Commercial products like MegaNatural Gold were used for both the in vitro and in vivo studies.

    In one such study, a significant increase in the blood plasma antioxidant activity was observed within one or two hours after the consumption of grape seed extract. Nine human volunteers were given a 600 mg dosage of GSE and by using the RANDOX bio-assay study an increase up to 12 percent of blood plasma antioxidant activity was observed. This dosage could be correlated to drinking 300 ml of red wine or consuming 1250 mg of vitamin C.

    In order to determine the GSE dosage that is required to have a higher bio-availability of polyphenols in blood plasma for improved antioxidant activity, nine subjects were given varied dosages of the flavonoid, epicatechin. Epicatechin is one of the flavonoids present in all grape seed extracts. The in vivo antioxidant study has shown that a dosage of 300 mg was more effective than 200 mg. In fact at 300 mg the antioxidant capacity in the blood was still increasing after four hours, indicating that at this dose the antioxidant effect will remain in the blood for six to eight hours.

    A long-term study involving a dosage of 2 x 300 mg⁄day of GSE with 17 human volunteers was also conducted to understand the beneficial effect of GSE in reducing high cholesterol. Patients with high cholesterol experienced a decline in total cholesterol up to 12 percent and a corresponding decrease up to 16 percent in LDL, the so-called “bad cholesterol” as well.

    These studies have once again confirmed the long-term effect of GSE s in controlling the level of cholesterol and triglycerides and reducing the risk of heart disease.

    Implications for heart disease Endothelial dysfunction (loss of EDR) exists in hypertensives, diabetics, smokers, postmenopausal women and individuals with hyperlipidemia. All of these conditions are potential cardiovascular risk factors. Experimental evidence leads to the belief that polymeric flavonoids as a part of the diet may have a protective effect against the development of endothelial dysfunction. These findings, along with the established anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of flavonoids, could be a possible explanation for the French paradox.

    A substitute for aspirin for heart health?

    Many individuals take an aspirin a day to prevent their blood from becoming too “sticky.” Technically they are trying to prevent an increase in platelet aggregation. Blood platelets are like tiny band-aids in that they help to seal wounds by causing the blood to clot. Unfortunately, if the platelets clump (aggregate) too readily, they can cause a great deal of damage to the arteries. They can further the development of arterial plaques and they can reduce the flow of blood through the capillaries. Diabetics and smokers are two groups which commonly suffer from poor circulation and excessive platelet aggregation. Not surprisingly, both groups suffer from elevated rates of damage to the arteries.

    Aspirin may provide some potential benefits for the heart, but it also has a number of side effects. The best known of these are damage to the stomach and the small intestine, but there are other dangers such as excessive bleeding (an increase in bleeding time—including inside the eye) and a reduced rate of repair to the tendons and the joints.

    Do we really need these side effects? Of course not. Grape seed extract provides extended protection against platelet aggregation without causing any unwanted increase in bleeding time. A number of tests have confirmed this protection including human trials conducted by Serge Renaud of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. Dr. Renaud demonstrated that grape seed extract can protect against the rebound in platelet aggregation which follows the ingestion of alcohol. Moreover, the compounds found in grape seed extract have a special affinity for the surfaces of the vascular system, the “pipes” as it were, of the body. This special affinity appears to improve the elasticity and the permeability of the capillaries, veins and arteries—the entire vascular system. Grape seed extract protects the ground substance (the proteoglycan matrix) of the blood vessels directly while at the same time it reduces the unwanted adhesion of platelets and other blood components. The suggested intake for these benefits is 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) per day.

    The Health Advantage of Food-form Selenium

    by Bill Sardi

    “The finding that selenium, an essential nutrient posing negligible risk at the 200 mcg intakes studies, can substantially cut the risk of death from cancer is really a revolutionary finding. I cannot think of any other agent, nutritional or pharmaceutical, that is proven to cut the deaths from cancer by half in any human population anywhere in the world. “These remarkable clinical outcomes with selenium for cancer prevention are not a deviation from other research with selenium conducted with animals, with selenium-antioxidant enzymes, with cells in culture. Yet the potential they represent for cutting the emotional, spiritual and financial costs that cancer imposes on human society is almost beyond belief. Just shut your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and think of all the people you have known who suffered and died from cancer.”

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

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

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

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

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

    Selenium and Cancer

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

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

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

    Which type of selenium supplement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ROSMARINIC ACID

    by Rina Reznik, Ph.D.

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

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

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

    RA's antioxidant power

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

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

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

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

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

    In Summary

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

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

    Tocotrienols—Their Role In Health

    by Andreas M. Papas, Ph.D.

    TOCOTRIENOLS ARE MEMBERS OF THE VITAMIN E FAMILY.

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

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

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

    Tocopherols and Tocotrienols: Similarities and Differences

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

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

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

    The Science Behind the Unique Functions of Tocotrienols

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

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

    Benefits for Cardiovascular Health—Clinical Evidence

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

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

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

    Topical Use of Tocotrienols

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

    Safe and Effective Use Levels

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Ten Additional Important Antioxidants

    COQ10 FOR ANTI-AGING AND A HEALTHY HEART

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

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

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

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

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

    VITAMIN C

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

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

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

    ASTAXANTHIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ACETYL-L-CARNITINE

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

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

    GREEN TEA

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

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

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

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

    GREEN FOODS

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

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

    ALPHA LIPOIC ACID

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

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

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

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

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

    GLUTATHIONE

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

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

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

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

    PYCNOGENOL®

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

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

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

    GARLIC

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

    A Summary of Garlic's Many Benefits Includes:

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

    Editor's Note: We highly recommend the most studied garlic supplement on the market. Kyolic AGED Garlic is Organically grown, and aged up to 20 months to enhance the nutritional value of the garlic, remove its pungent odor and make it gentle on the stomach. Kyolic is heavily researched with over 750 scientific studies.

    BOOKS FOR FURTHER READING ON ANTIOXIDANTS:

    Drug Muggers
    Which Medications Are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients—and Natural Ways to Restore Them
    by Suzy Cohen, RPh
    Rodale Books; 1 edition (February 15, 2011)

    The Garlic Cure
    by James F. Scheer, Lynn Allison and Charlie Fox
    Alpha Omega Press, Fargo, ND (2002)

    The Garlic Cookbook: For the Best and Most Unique Garlic Recipes You Will Ever Try!
    by Martha Stephenson
    CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 19, 2017)

    Healthy Healing—Avoid side effects, drug interactions and high medical costs with America's Original Guide to Natural Healing (14th Edition)
    by Linda Page, N.D., Ph.D.
    Healthy Healing Publications; 14th edition (November 15, 2011)

    Prescription for Nutritional Healing
    Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements
    by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
    Avery; 5 Rev Upd edition (October 5, 2010)

    The Longevity Kitchen—Satisfying, Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods
    by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson
    M. Evans and Company, Inc., New York, NY (1998)

    Brain Maker:
    The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life
    by David Perlmutter, MD
    Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (April 28, 2015)

    The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan:
    Boost Brain Performance, Lose Weight, and Achieve Optimal Health
    by David Perlmutter, MD, Kristin Loberg
    Little, Brown and Company (November 15, 2016)

    Editorial Reviews

    "The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan provides a step-by-step, proven approach that will help you reclaim and sustain health, vitality, and happiness for a lifetime." Melissa Hartwig, author of Food Freedom Forever and coauthor of The Whole30

    "Dr. Perlmutter, an acclaimed neurologist, has for years been a pioneer of the gut-brain connection. In The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, he combines his clinical expertise, insights into the latest scientific developments, and immense compassion into a powerful prescription for brain health." David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, professor, Harvard Medical School, and author of Always Hungry?

    "Dr. Perlmutter's groundbreaking work has changed the way we think about inflammation—its causes and the damage it can do. I've gotten tremendous benefit from his books and The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan gives us simple and direct ways to prevent and treat diseases in easy and delicious ways." Bonnie Raitt

    "Dr. David Perlmutter is one of the first people to not only suggest that modern degenerative diseases are likely caused by poor diet and alterations in gut health, but he has produced clinical research indicating these conditions may be avoided or reversed by altering one's diet and lifestyle. The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan is the culmination of more than 35 years of clinical practice and research that will help you look, feel and perform your best." Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution

    "Dr. Perlmutter sifts through the emerging research on how to create brain and body health. And he created The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, a manifesto for the new medicine, the roadmap for how to care for the one precious human life that you have. If you want to live strong, feel good, boost your brain function, and become more connected and engaged to your own life, then you need a plan. This book is that plan." Mark Hyman, MD, author of Eat Fat Get Thin and director of Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine

    "If everyone were to follow The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, there would be a dramatic reduction in obesity, diabetes, cancer, dementia, arthritis—in short, the world would be a better place." Dale Bredesen, MD, professor and director of Alzheimer's Disease Research, UCLA

    "The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan presents a comprehensive, practical, step-by-step approach aimed at people suffering from a variety of chronic neurological, psychiatric, and medical conditions. Dr. Perlmutter not only gives specific dietary recommendations, including a diet rich in plant-based fiber, but also prescribes important lifestyle changes such as physical exercise, stress reduction, and improvement in sleeping habits." Emeran A. Mayer, MD, author of The Mind Gut Connection and director of the Oppenheimer Center for Stress and Resilience at UCLA

     

  • Celadrin for Pet Inflammation and Arthritis

    All pet owners know how terrible it feels when one of our beloved animals is sick or in pain. Unfortunately, osteoarthritis in domestic animals is a common condition. Over 20 percent of dogs over the age of one are suffering from this painful, debilitating condition. The causes of arthritis in pets are very similar to those in humans: poor nutrition, repetitive wear and tear on the joints and hereditary conditions associated with joint destruction. The family pet has also become the latest victim of inactivity and obesity. Overweight animals suffer greater bouts of osteoarthritis.

    Veterinarians very often prescribe NSAID medications. The most common side effect of NSAIDs in dogs is gastrointestinal toxicity, ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to a silent ulcer. Pet owners are leery of these drugs and they should be. There are far more contraindications for these drugs for animals than for humans. This has caused a shift to alternative therapies for the treatment of osteoarthritis in animals.

    A clinical trial using Celadrin for osteoarthritis in dogs was presented at the Experimental Biology convention in 2001. An independent veterinary clinic was enlisted to conduct a study involving 24 dogs between the ages of eight and 13 years. Before beginning the study, the dogs had a physical exam and blood and urine was taken for analysis. Both small and large dogs were included in the study regardless of their current arthritis medication. Daily, each dog was given dog chews containing Celadrin. A standard dose of two chews per 20 pounds was established. The dogs were assessed again 30 days later. Seventy-five percent of the dog owners noted improvement in stair climbing, gait and their pet’s daily life. The dogs seemed more energetic, happier and to have a better temperament. There were no changes in blood or urine analysis. a similar percentage of improvement in therapeutic effects. One week of treatment with a topical cream consisting of Celadrin and menthol was similarly effective for reducing pain and improving functional performance in individuals with arthritis of the knee, elbow, and wrist.

    Dr. Kraemer then performed another study that examined the effects of 30 days of treatment with Celadrin cream with no menthol on the ability to stand and move and pressure on the feet in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of one or both knees. Forty patients diagnosed with knee OA were randomly assigned to receive Celadrin cream or placebo. Assessments included 20- and 40-second quiet standing on a force plate to measure center of pressure, and rear foot and forefoot plantar pressure distribution. This study showed that 30 days of treatment with Celadrin topical cream improved static postural stability in patients with knee OA, presumably due to pain relief during quiet standing. Celadrin is helpful in improving the exercise trainability of people with osteoarthritis.

    Celadrin is not only effective but also safe to take with your prescription medications as no drug-nutrient interactions have been found. Those using the oral form of Celadrin and the cream together have experienced a much faster improvement in pain, swelling and mobility than those using the cream alone.

    Effective Celadrin and Glucosamine Combination
    Glucosamine sulfate, a very popular joint-health supplement, works well in conjunction with Celadrin. Celadrin is effective at halting the joint-damaging process, while glucosamine can repair damage already done to those joints affected. Celadrin works by providing continuous lubrication and allowing the cell membrane to repel inflammatory messengers from the immune system. It also stops the cascade of inflammation and the assaults on the membrane, which cause stiffness. Celadrin helps glucosamine perform faster and more efficiently in building joint cartilage. The dual action of Celadrin and glucosamine will provide rapid joint cushioning, quickly alleviate inflammation, build cartilage and restore the entire joint area. Cartilage repair usually begins within two months. Spectacular results have been experienced by those individuals with rheumatoid arthritis who have adopted the combination treatment

    It is exciting when extensive double-blind, placebo controlled research is performed to confirm the effectiveness of a natural product. With the knowledge that inflammation can shorten our lifespan by promoting many degenerative diseases, it is essential that we use natural anti-inflammatories to reduce our risk. For more information go to www.celadrin.com.

  • Creating Energy to Swing at Life from Any Angle

    Okay, so golf isn’t your game; maybe its tennis, cycling, dancing, or simply a zest to live life to its fullest. Regardless of age, ethnicity, profession, or financial status, quality of life cannot be obtained while experiencing pain and inflammation, pain that affects the life of the victim, family and friends.

    The world of medicine is undergoing a radical upheaval in its understanding of the debilitating, and often life-threatening, diseases of inflammation, including: heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, macular degeneration, Crohn’s, allergies, and much more.

    Inflammation is the body’s way of telling us that something is terribly wrong—a basic defense triggered by bacteria, virus, parasites, injury, trauma, surgery, and chemicals (environmental or ingested). If the inflammation continues, pro-inflammatory cytokines are produced by macrophages, which are chemical messengers that attack and clean up cells in the affected area; eventually cytokine production rises, destroying more and more cells, leading to organ damage.

    Structural Remodeling
    Bone, a hard substance forming the framework around which the body is built, is the skeleton containing over 200 separate bones that support and shape to the body and protect its vital organs. The common misconception is that bone is “dead”; on the contrary, it’s a living substance and one of the most active tissues in the body, constantly being broken down and rebuilt by a process called remodeling. Therefore, in order for it to stay strong and healthy, it must have constant nourishment to:

    • Keep the bone cells healthy and active
    • Supply a variety for nutritional building blocks essential to form organic bone matrix
    • Supply complex minerals needed to make up the hardened component of bone known as hydroxyapartite crystals.

    The misconception exists that most mineral supplements are utilized by the body in the same manner. Not so. In my professional experience and research, the supplementation most effective is that derived from goat-milk whey, naturally predigested. This type of whey has been used for decades to promote bone density as well as to relieve aching, painful joints. This highly concentrated food powder contains a broad array of naturally occurring minerals, including sodium, potassium and calcium, in ratios used by the body with ease of digestion and absorption.

    As we age, our ability to absorb calcium and minerals declines, therefore, supplementation must be bioavailable, i.e. easily absorbable.

    With proper full-spectrum nutrition, healthy bones last a lifetime.

    Protecting Your Shock-absorbers
    Joints are designed to allow for smooth movement between the bones and to absorb the shock of jarring and/or repetitive movement. Joints consist of:

      Cartilage—The substance that forms a firm, slippery coating at the end of each bone, cushioning it to allow joints to move easily
      Muscles—Responsible for facilitating the movement of joints and keeping bones stable
      Ligaments—Tough, cord-like tissues connecting bones
      Tendons—Fibrous cords connecting muscles to bones, working with muscles to create movement of the joints.

    According to the University of Florida Division of Rheumatology, there are more than 100 types of arthritis. That said, arthritis and other rheumatic conditions alone affect an estimated 43 million Americans, and that number is expected to climb to 60 million by the year 2020.

    What most Americans reach for to help with pain and inflammation (the external effects) of arthritis, fibromyalgia and other inflammatory disorders are NSAIDs, a class of drugs including aspirin, ibuprofen, Vioxx, and Celebrex. The public was led to believe this class of drug is generally safe to take long-term. We now know different; the death statistics show otherwise. According to The Wall Street Journal (Apr. 19, 1999), every year 20,000 Americans die from the use of these drugs—higher than the number who die from HIV. (12,000 to 16,000 a year). In addition, another 100,000 Americans end up hospitalized with liver toxicity, kidney damage, and intestinal hemorrhage from the overuse of these drugs.

    Painful Reflections
    Unfortunately, this doctor is speaking from experience, after developing leaky gut syndrome as a result of prescribed NSAID use after a life-threatening accident and the subsequent injuries. Yes, NSAIDs are valuable in the short term after an injury, trauma or surgery; however, long-term use sets up the patient for disorders that not only alter their entire life (multiple allergic response syndrome/environmental illness) but also potentially place them in a life-threatening situation far worse than what precipitated the original need for the medications.

    Hopeful Tomorrows
    While prescription drugs provide short-term relief, they do not deal with the underlying causes. It makes perfect sense to look into a safe, effective nutraceutical option that contains comprehensive, time-tested ingredients all in ONE BLEND, as those identified in a blend listed below:

    • Complete bone support formula with a broad array of naturally occurring minerals from goat milk whey to assist in maintaining chemical balance and to keep calcium in solution (fluid)—preventing it from depositing in joints
    • Naturally occurring food-based cartilage building compounds of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates
    • Enzymes, such as protease, bromelain, papain, amylase, lipase and cellulase, known to reduce pain and inflammation
    • Botanicals used for centuries known for their strong anti-inflammatory, alkalizing and antioxidant effects; ginger, turmeric, acerola cherry, cherry juice, valerian, lemon powder, and white willow bark (natural aspirin)
    • Type II Chicken Collagen, a food-based source of collagen—the principle structure of protein in cartilage, possesses no known side-effects and provides maximum absorption for strength, flexibility and joint support. This collagen is derived from free-range chickens; free of growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and insecticides. Many other sources of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates are from marine life (which has a much higher risk of contamination) or from sources that are not free-ranged—adding to the body’s toxic load
    • A natural blend of predigested, bioactivated greens to support joint and cartilage matrix
    • Naturally occurring minerals (including potassium, sodium and calcium) from both predigested and regular goat-milk whey to support joints and bone density
    • Bone-building ingredients, such as calcium phosphate, L-carnitine, oat juice (natural silica) and alfalfa juice (glutenfree)
    • Predigested beneficial microorganisms and active enzymes for gastrointestinal support.

    The important components to achieving both short-term relief and long-term maintenance are to supplement with a natural, comprehensive, bone and joint health formula in order to provide the body what it needs to increase bone density while rebuilding healthy cartilage and connective tissue. Additionally, when it includes whole foods, herbs and enzymes for pain associated with inflammation, you are dealing with the causes of the pain, not merely masking it.

      Alcohol: Depletes B vitamins and magnesium—needed by joint fluid and cartilage for proper function

      Refined Sugar: Depletes B vitamins and trace minerals necessary for healthy joint cartilage and synovial fluid

      Nightshade Foods: Inflame an inflammatory condition, and the symptoms can last as long as six weeks (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers—red, green, yellow, cayenne, and paprika, eggplant, blueberries, huckleberries, okra, and tobacco. For specific dietary information and nightshade-free recipes, refer to my book Pain/Inflammation MATTERS

      Antacids: Depletes and neutralizes stomach digestive acids, which prevents the body from digesting calcium, proteins, and minerals that are essential for bone and cartilage repair.

    No product can possibly guarantee it will allow you to again feel as good as “the good old days” without stiff, achy joints, swollen hands, knees, and ankles. If golfing, gardening, climbing stairs, dancing, or simply bending or walking have become challenging, dietary comprehensive supplement blends are available containing natural ingredients—many of which have been used for decades and present safe and effective quick relief as well as long-term maintenance, naturally.

  • Depression, Inflammation and Nutrition

    Depression, Inflammation and Nutrition by Dallas Clouatre, PhD

    Depression is an increasingly common issue in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control in 2010 estimated that 11.1 percent of the American population suffers from significant depression — a whopping 35 million individuals — and this figure seems to be steadily rising. Prescribed mood modifiers are everywhere, starting as early as elementary school and continuing on into old age. How successful are these pharmacologic approaches? Not very. Optimistic estimates maintain that such interventions are reasonably successful in only one half of those treated. Less optimistic observers note that in those currently taking an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, despite a host of side effects, most do not attain relief. Nearly two-thirds of elderly patients treated for depression fail to achieve symptomatic remission and functional recovery with first-line pharmacotherapy; they obtain better results with, for instance, tai chi.1 For major depressive disorder, a condition for which one would think that pharmacological treatments would win out over nonpharmacological therapy, it turns out that nonpharmacological therapy not only is just as effective, but also involves far fewer adverse events.2,3

    The causes of depression and mood disorders remain an area of controversy. Human beings are prepared to react to vastly varied environmental factors. Not surprisingly, many biological and psychological factors cut in more than one direction. Metabolic factors (inflammation, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress) are not necessarily one-direction in terms of causation, for example, with regard to emotional and physical stress and the resulting stress hormones (glucocorticoids). Sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen), likewise, both influence and are influenced by emotional and physical factors.

    Is Inflammation the Central Issue?
    The concept of inflammation in the last few years has been stretched to cover more and more forms of illness and dysfunction. One reason is that inflammation is actually a set of responses that occur naturally all the time, yet each of which can itself escape proper regulation. You get a sense of this from the article on inflammation available online from Wikipedia: “Inflammation is a protective response that involves immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair.” Inflammation thus involves both destruction and repair.

    A number of researchers are looking into the issue of neuroinflammation outside of the traditional medical areas of concern, such as stroke. For instance, psychological stress has been demonstrated to increase neuroinflammation in animal models.4 Similarly, there is evidence to support the position that links chronic depression to chronic brain inflammation and acute depression to stress-triggered neuronal microdamage.5 Another line of argument is that the “metabolic syndrome and its individual components induce a proinflammatory state that damages blood vessels. This condition of chronic inflammation may damage the vasculature of the brain or be directly neurotoxic.”6

    Countering Depression without Drugs
    Inflammation and the metabolic syndrome are closely linked in physiology and biochemistry. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that studies on obesity, diet and exercise habits often turn up implications for preventing and treating depression. For example, a large study of 15,093 people published in 2015 indicated that depression could be linked with nutrient deficits. The best results were found with two essentially Mediterranean-style diets. These diets overlapped in terms of foods such as omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and moderate alcohol intake. Another finding was that there apparently is a threshold effect, meaning that a certain level of protective foods needed to be in the diet, but that benefits in terms of reduced risk of depression plateaued after this threshold was passed.7

    It is difficult to find many nutrients that can be given as dietary supplements that cross the blood-brain barrier. Many of the nutrients that are of use are from berries. Pterostilbene, but not resveratrol, is a potent neuromodulator in aging and Alzheimer’s disease.8 “Blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, grape and plum juices or extracts have been successfully tested in cognitively impaired rodents. Published trials of the benefits of grape and blueberry juice in the treatment of small numbers of cognitively impaired persons have recently appeared.”9 Another potentially useful item in this regard is the Chinese herb known as blue dogbane, Apocynum venetum. This interesting item, virtually unknown outside of Asia, exerts proven anti-depressant effects, in part, via brain monoamine levels and the dopaminergic system. The latter, again, is influenced by pterostilbene, but not resveratrol.10 Of importance regarding the impact of Apocynum venetum on inflammation is its high content of the potent antioxidant / anti-inflammatory, isoquercitrin.11

    A complementary option to the foregoing nutrients is to reduce the impact of stress. Phosphatidylserine (PS) supports the brain’s physiological processing of stress and promotes neuronal communication by its effect on cell membrane fluidity. It is a natural phospholipid that is an essential component of cell membranes. PS promotes brain function by increasing neuronal membrane fluidity (cell-to-cell communication), resulting in improved cognition. Also, PS protects against stress by mitigating the actions of cortisol (catabolic stress hormone.) Human research routinely demonstrates these benefits and suggests the usefulness of a combination with DHA, e.g., “The results demonstrate that consumption of 100 mg/day of PS-DHA might be associated with improving or maintaining cognitive status in elderly subjects with memory complaints.”12

    Finally, there is the issue of the relation between Alzheimer’s and sugar consumption. In old age, there tends to be an increasingly significant association between forms of cognitive impairment and depression. Some believe there’s a connection between sugar intake and Alzheimer’s disease. There are a number of theories as to why this might be. One argument is that increased consumption of simple carbohydrates leads to blood brain barrier degradation and subsequently to damage to the hippocampus.13 A related argument is that increased consumption of simple carbohydrates leads to elevations of specific advanced glycation end products (AGEs), especially the neurotoxic methyl-glyoxal derivatives (MG). High levels of AGEs also are correlated with reduced insulin sensitivity in older human adults. These factors promote chronic oxidant stress and inflammation in the brain.14

    Endnotes:

    1. Lavretsky H, Alstein LL, Olmstead RE, Ercoli LM, Riparetti-Brown M, Cyr NS, Irwin MR. Complementary use of tai chi chih augments escitalopram treatment of geriatric depression: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Oct;19(10):839–50.
    2. Gartlehner G, Gaynes BN, Amick HR, Asher G, Morgan LC, Coker- Schwimmer E, Forneris C, Boland E, Lux LJ, Gaylord S, Bann C, Pierl CB, Lohr KN. Nonpharmacological Versus Pharmacological Treatments for Adult Patients With Major Depressive Disorder [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2015 Dec.
    3. Gartlehner G, Gaynes BN, Amick HR, Asher GN, Morgan LC, Coker- Schwimmer E, Forneris C, Boland E, Lux LJ, Gaylord S, Bann C, Pierl CB, Lohr KN. Comparative Benefits and Harms of Antidepressants, Psychological, Complementary, and Exercise Treatments for Major Depression: An Evidence Report for a Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Feb 9. [Epub ahead of print]
    4. Barnum CJ, Pace TW, Hu F, Neigh GN, Tansey MG. Psychological stress in adolescent and adult mice increases neuroinflammation and attenuates the response to LPS challenge. J Neuroinflammation. 2012 Jan 16;9:9.
    5. Wager-Smith K, Markou A. Depression: a repair response to stress-induced neuronal microdamage that can grade into a chronic neuroinflammatory condition? Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Jan;35(3):742–64.
    6. Cherniack EP. A berry thought-provoking idea: the potential role of plant polyphenols in the treatment of age-related cognitive disorders. Br J Nutr. 2012 Sep;108(5):794–800.
    7. Sánchez-Villegas A, Henríquez-Sánchez P, Ruiz-Canela M, Lahortiga F, Molero P, Toledo E, Martínez-González MA. A longitudinal analysis of diet quality scores and the risk of incident depression in the SUN Project. BMC Med. 2015 Sep 17;13:197.
    8. Chang J, Rimando A, Pallas M, Camins A, Porquet D, Reeves J, Shukitt- Hale B, Smith MA, Joseph JA, Casadesus G. Low-dose pterostilbene, but not resveratrol, is a potent neuromodulator in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Sep;33(9):2062–71.
    9. Cherniack EP. A berry thought-provoking idea: the potential role of plant polyphenols in the treatment of age-related cognitive disorders. Br J Nutr. 2012 Sep;108(5):794–800.
    10. Zheng M, Fan Y, Shi D, Liu C. Antidepressant-like effect of flavonoids extracted from Apocynum venetum leaves on brain monoamine levels and dopaminergic system. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 May 2;147(1):108–13.
    11. Butterweck V, Nishibe S, Sasaki T, Uchida M. Antidepressant effects of apocynum venetum leaves in a forced swimming test. Biol Pharm Bull. 2001 Jul;24(7):848–51.
    12. Vakhapova V, Cohen T, Richter Y, Herzog Y, Kam Y, Korczyn AD. Phosphatidylserine containing omega-3 Fatty acids may improve memory abilities in nondemented elderly individuals with memory complaints: results from an open-label extension study. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2014;38(1–2):39–45.
    13. Hsu TM, Kanoski SE. Blood-brain barrier disruption: mechanistic links between Western diet consumption and dementia. Front Aging Neurosci. 2014 May 9;6:88.
    14. Cai W, Uribarri J, Zhu L, Chen X, Swamy S, Zhao Z, Grosjean F, Simonaro C, Kuchel GA, Schnaider-Beeri M, Woodward M, Striker GE, Vlassara H. Oral glycotoxins are a modifiable cause of dementia and the metabolic syndrome in mice and humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Apr 1;111(13):4940–5.
  • Macronutrients Part 2 - Carbohydrates and Fiber

    Carbohydrates are the most abundant biomolecules on our planet and in our food supply. They exhibit some of the largest differences in their metabolism by different members of the animal kingdom. At one extreme, herbivores can almost completely break down dietary plant material with the help of beneficial bacteria that dwell within their gastrointestinal tract; at the other extreme, true carnivores can’t process most dietary carbohydrates. Humans fall somewhere in between; we derive a great deal of nutrition out of some dietary carbohydrates, but are unable to process others.

    In our diets, digestible carbohydrates consist of sugars and starches, while the indigestible carbohydrates are the fibers and resistant starches1. Dietary sugars are predominantly monosaccharides (sugars consisting of a single unit, such as glucose and fructose) or disaccharides (sugars consisting of two monosaccharides linked together, such as sucrose and lactose). Starches are long chains (polymers) of many linked monosaccharide molecules, usually glucose.

    Monosaccharides are the preferred form by which sugars are absorbed from the intestines, therefore, starches and disaccharide sugars (sucrose, lactose) must be broken down by digestive enzymes before assimilation. Starches are fairly easily digested by the action of pancreatic enzymes, while disaccharide sugars are degraded by enzymes that dwell on the surface of the small intestines. The familiar lactose maldigestion (“lactose intolerance”) experienced by many individuals actually results from the lack of one of these intestinal enzymes (lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose).

    Fibers and resistant starches are carbohydrates as well. Like starches, fiber is composed of polymers of linked monosaccharide sugars. Unlike starches, however, fibers and resistant starches are not used as a source of calories; humans lack the necessary enzymes to break down resistant starches and fibers, therefore, they are not absorbed. Some soluble fiber and resistant starch is broken down by intestinal bacteria, the rest passes through the gastrointestinal tract intact.

    The majority of dietary carbohydrates are obtained from plant sources (fruits, vegetables, grains). In contrast to animal tissues, which are held together by mostly proteins, plants cells are held together by cellulose and lignin, two types of dietary fiber. The edible portions of plants are usually those that contain large amounts of storage carbohydrates, such as the kernels of grains (which store starches) or fruits (which store sugars). Smaller amounts of carbohydrates are found in animal products; carbohydrates constitute only about one percent of the mammalian body2.

    ROLES OF DIETARY CARBOHYDRATES AND FIBER IN NORMAL METABOLISM
    Although they do not have the diversity in human metabolism as do proteins, dietary carbohydrates and fibers still have a number of fates:
    Fuel Source and Fuel Storage.

    As versatile as humans are in obtaining energy from a variety of macronutrients, the preferred energy source in our metabolism is the carbohydrate glucose. Under normal conditions, the brain uses glucose as an energy source almost exclusively, and most other tissues rely heavily on it. To accommodate the body’s need for glucose, most sugars and starches can be converted into glucose as they are absorbed and distributed amongst various tissue following a meal. Additionally, some amino acids from digested protein can also be converted into glucose (in true carnivores like cats, this is where most glucose comes from).

    Unlike other cellular energy sources (amino acids and fatty acids), glucose can be converted into energy in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic glycolysis). This makes glucose a critical source of quick energy during times when oxygen is scarce, such as during intense exercise.

    Glucose can also be stored for later usage, in the form of glycogen (“animal starch”). Glycogen is abundant in the liver, which stores about a day’s worth of glucose in order to provide enough energy to fuel the brain during periods between meals. Glycogen is also used to store glucose for use in muscles, which rely on it for quickly generating energy. If the dietary intake of carbohydrates exceeds what is needed for immediate energy and glycogen reserves, then the excess is converted to fat for long-term storage.

    Precursors to other biomolecules. Carbohydrates are used to make other important biomolecules. These include: glycosaminoglycans (such as chondroitin, keratin, and hyaluronic acid), important constituents of joints and connective tissues; nucleic acids (DNA and RNA are partially constructed from the sugar ribose); as well as other amino acids and fatty acids for making new cellular proteins and cell membranes.

    Stimulation of digestion. Fiber, despite its non-nutritive value, still has evolved important roles in human physiology. The bulk of insoluble fibers helps digested food to move more easily through the intestines and be readily eliminated from the body. Soluble fibers and resistant starches can provide a source of energy for intestinal bacteria, which themselves provide a number of health benefits, including the stimulation of immunity, protection from pathogenic bacteria, and enhanced absorption of minerals from the diet. Prebiotics, a subset of soluble fiber, have gained attention in recent years in their ability to be selectively fermented by gut flora for a diversity of potential health-promoting benefits3.

    SPECIFIC HEALTH BENEFITS OF CARBOHYDRATES AND FIBER
    Many of the health benefits realized by modifying carbohydrate intake involve altering patterns of consumption: reducing intake of sugars, and increasing intake of fiber. For example, recent emphasis on increased intake of whole grains (which contain significantly more fiber, phytonutrients, and protein than do refined cereal flours) has resulted from several studies which suggest that its consumption may reduce the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease4. Fiber intake, in particular, has been the subject of thousands of studies in humans and animals, in part for its ability to successfully reduce the risk of several diseases by different mechanisms:

    Reducing Chronic Low-level Inflammation. In contrast to the conspicuous inflammation that is characteristic of an injury or infection, chronic low-level inflammation can progress unnoticed. This potentially silent affliction has been associated with the progression of several diseases, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, and kidney diseases. In an analysis of 7 studies on the relationship between weight loss and inflammation, increased fiber consumption correlated with significantly greater reductions in C-reactive protein (CRP), one indicator of low-level inflammation5. In these studies, daily fiber intakes ranging from 3.3 to 7.8 g/MJ (equivalent to about 27 to 64 g/day for a standard 2000 kcal diet) reduced CRP from 25–54 percent in a dose-dependent fashion. The Women’s Health Initiative Study also found significant inverse relationships with dietary soluble and insoluble fiber (over 24 g/day) and certain markers of chronic inflammation6.

    Promoting Healthy Blood Pressure. It is not clear how dietary fiber reduces blood pressure, but many studies have observed this trend. Fiber, when taken with a meal, may by reducing the glycemic index of foods and lowering the response of insulin following a meal (insulin may play a role in blood pressure regulation). Soluble fibers may also increase mineral absorption (such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium; all important for healthy blood pressure) by feeding intestinal flora, which lowers intestinal pH and establish a favorable acidic environment for mineral absorption7. Whatever the cause, at least thirty randomized, controlled clinical trials examined the effects of fiber in both hypertensive and normotensive patients. Across all participants, increased fiber intake demonstrated modest average reductions in systolic (1.13–1.15 mm Hg), and diastolic (1.26–1.65 mm Hg) blood pressure89. Amongst hypertensive patients, the average blood pressure reductions were much larger: A significant average reduction in both systolic (-5.95 mm Hg) and diastolic (-4.20 mm Hg) blood pressure was observed over 8 weeks in trials where hypertensive participants increased their daily fiber intake9.

    Promoting Healthy Levels of Blood Lipids. High-fiber diets have been associated with lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease (10). When included as part of a low-saturated fat/low cholesterol diet, dietary fiber can lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) by 5–10 percent in persons with high cholesterol, and may reduce LDL-C in healthy individuals as well10. Dozens of controlled clinical trials have shown the cholesterol-lowering potential of dietary fibers including soluble oat fiber, psyllium, pectin, guar gum, b-glucans from barley, and chitosan3,12,13.

    Soluble fibers lower cholesterol by several potential mechanisms (3). They may directly bind cholesterol in the gut, preventing its absorption. The high viscosity of soluble fiber and its ability to slow intestinal motility may help to limit cholesterol and fat uptake as well. Fiber can also increase satiety, which can limit overall energy intake14,15. Lowering Uric Acid. Elevated blood uric acid (hyperuricemia) is a risk factor for kidney disease, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes; it is also a primary cause for gout16. Fiber intake may lower blood uric acid levels. A significant inverse relationship between fiber intake and hyperuricemia risk was established by analyzing dietary fiber intake data from over 9000 otherwise healthy adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999–2004. Based on these data, participants with high fiber diets (over about 19 grams fiber/day for the average 2000 kcal diet) had a 55 percent reduction in hyperuricemia risk compared to those on lower fiber diets (<9.2 g fiber/day)17. While these mechanisms for this reduction is unknown, dietary fiber may reduce the absorption of purines from the diet, one of the inciting factors for hyperuricemia.

    HOW MUCH CARBOHYDRATES AND FIBER SHOULD I BE GETTING?
    The amount and composition of carbohydrates in the “ideal” diet is amongst the most heavily debated topics in nutrition. There are scientifically-substantiated merits to both the “low-carb” and “low-fat, high-carb” diets in terms of reducing disease risk and maintaining a healthy body mass index (these will be discussed in greater detail in a future article). The common ground between the two schools of thought is that the average Western diet probably contains too little fiber, and too much refined grains and added sugar. A low-fiber/high-sugar diet, when coupled with excessive caloric intake, has been associated with significant increases in the risk for a number of ailments, including obesity, insulin resistance/type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

    As mentioned previously, the benefits of dietary fiber are numerous. The average daily fiber intake in the American diet, based on data from 2007–2008 NHANEs survey, is about half of the 28 grams/day recommendation by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Significant numbers of people consume even less than the national average. The highest intakes of dietary fiber are associated with the lowest disease risks; for several observational studies, the greatest risk reductions required intakes exceeding the IOM recommendations.

    In contrast, the American diet contains no shortage of refined grains or sugars. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates average grain consumption at about 33 percent more than 6 oz./day recommended in its Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Most of this grain is refined; the same group estimates Americans consume only one-third of the recommended 3 oz./day of whole grains18,19.

    Analysis of data from the last NHANEs survey (2007–2008) determined that Americans consume an average of 120 grams/day of total sugars (about 30 teaspoons), most of which are added sugars. This amounts to approximately 480 kilocalories of energy per day. Most of these sugars come from sweetened carbonated beverages (~37 percent); other top sources include desserts and fruit drinks (fruitades and fruit punches). While arguments can be made that it is the added fructose or corn syrup are particularly dangerous to health (there is evidence that supports and refutes this hypothesis), or that sugar is additive and contributes to overeating (animal models may support this claim), added sugar clearly contributes a significant amount of calories to the average diet, and in many cases displaces essential nutrients20,21.

    To read the series on Macronutrients:

    References:

    1. Fardet A. New hypotheses for the health-protective mechanisms of whole-grain cereals: what is beyond fibre? Nutr Res Rev 2010 Jun.;23(1):65–134.
    2. Engelking L. Textbook of Veterinary Physiological Chemistry. Updated 2nd ed. Burlington, MA: Academic Press; 2011.
    3. Brown L, Rosner B, Willett WW, Sacks FM. Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 1999 Jan.;69(1):30–42.
    4. Higgins JA. Whole grains, legumes, and the subsequent meal effect: implications for blood glucose control and the role of fermentation. J Nutr Metab 2012;2012:829238.
    5. North CJ, Venter CS, Jerling JC. The effects of dietary fibre on C-reactive protein, an inflammation marker predicting cardiovascular disease. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009 Aug.;63(8):921–33.
    6. Ma Y, Hébert J, Li W, Bertone-Johnson E. Association between dietary fiber and markers of systemic inflammation in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Nutrition 2008;
    7. Greger J. Nondigestible carbohydrates and mineral bioavailability. J Nutr 1999.
    8. Streppel MT, Arends LR, van t Veer P, Grobbee DE, Geleijnse JM. Dietary fiber and blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Arch Intern Med 2005 Jan.;165(2):150–6.
    9. Whelton SP, Hyre AD, Pedersen B, Yi Y, Whelton PK, He J. Effect of dietary fiber intake on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. J. Hypertens 2005 Mar.;23(3):475–81.
    10. Badimon L, Vilahur G, Padro T. Nutraceuticals and atherosclerosis: human trials. Cardiovasc Ther 2010 Aug.;28(4):202–15.
    11. Anderson J, Randles K. Carbohydrate and fiber recommendations for individuals with diabetes: a quantitative assessment and meta-analysis of the evidence. J Am Coll Nutr 2004.
    12. AbuMweis SS, Jew S, Ames NP. -glucan from barley and its lipid-lowering capacity: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr 2010 Dec.;64(12):1472–80.
    13. Baker WL, Tercius A, Anglade M, White CM, Coleman CI. A meta-analysis evaluating the impact of chitosan on serum lipids in hypercholesterolemic patients. Ann Nutr Metab 2009;55(4):368–74.
    14. Brighenti F, Casiraghi M, Canzi E. Effect of consumption of a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal containing inulin on the intestinal milieu and blood lipids in healthy male volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 1999; Pages 726–33.
    15. Li S, Guerin-Deremaux L, Pochat M, Wils D, Reifer C, Miller LE. NUTRIOSE dietary fiber supplementation improves insulin resistance and determinants of metabolic syndrome in overweight men: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 2010 Dec.;35(6):773–82.
    16. Zhu Y, Pandya BJ, Choi HK. Prevalence of gout and hyperuricemia in the US general population: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007–2008. Arthritis Rheum 2011 Oct.;63(10):3136–41.
    17. Sun SZ, Flickinger BD, Williamson-Hughes PS, Empie MW. Lack of association between dietary fructose and hyperuricemia risk in adults. Nutr Metab 2010;7(1):16.
    18. Grotto D, Zied E. The Standard American Diet and its relationship to the health status of Americans. Nutr Clin Pract 2010 Dec.;25(6):603–12.
    19. U. S. Department of Agricuture USDOHAHS. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. 2011 Jan.;:1–112.
    20. Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Sugar and fat bingeing have notable differences in addictive-like behavior. Journal of Nutrition 2009 Mar.;139(3):623–8.
    21. Berner LA, Avena NM, Hoebel BG. Bingeing, self-restriction, and increased body weight in rats with limited access to a sweet-fat diet. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2008 Sep.;16(9):1998–2002.

  • Mega Potency Natural Resveratrol

    Cardiovascular Protection, Antiaging and Inflammation Response

    Scientific studies have shown that Resveratrol helps support healthy cardiovascular function. Research has also indicated that, when combined with other polyphenols, Resveratrol is known for its antiaging properties, in addition to the role it plays in supporting a healthy inflammatory response. NOW® Mega Resveratrol contains a diverse blend of potent polyphenols, including 100% all natural trans-resveratrol and proanthocyanins (OPC’s from grape seed), plus catechins (green tea extract) for powerful cardiovascular protection.

    • 200 mg
    • with Red Wine Extract
    • A Dietary Supplement
    • Vegetarian Formula

    For information visit www.nowfoods.com

  • Moducare: For a strong immune system

    Moducare® is a patented blend of plant sterols and sterolins, and the only sterol/sterolin product clinically proven to be effective in immune modulation. Moducare can be considered an adjunct to help shift immune responses to a more balanced state. It enhances the activity of various immune cells and increases the killing ability of specialized cells, called Natural Killer cells, responsible for immune surveillance. Moducare also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce the effects of stress on the immune system by managing the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Moducare is well-tolerated, with no known interactions with either prescribed medications or natural supplements. Plus, long-term studies have found that it has no significant negative side effects.

    Human Research Proves Plant Sterols Action
    We call sterols the forgotten nutrient because although thousands of research studies have been preformed on this nutrient, it has not been given the recognition it deserves.

    Over 4,000 published studies to date have examined phytosterols and 140 of these studies are double-blind, placebo-controlled human trials. Rheumatoid arthritis, cervical cancer, diabetes, immune function, prostate problems, HI V, herpes, hepatitis C, allergies, stress-induced immune suppression, chronic fatigue, tuberculosis, breast cancer, and high cholesterol are only some of the diseases where sterols and sterolins have been shown to be extremely effective.

    Plant sterols and sterolins are essential for modulating (balancing) the immune system, enhancing it if it is under active, and reducing it when it is over stimulated. They perform the balancing act very effectively. Patrick J.D. Bouic, Ph.D., has shown in his research that plant sterols and sterolins are effective in enhancing an under active immune system and/or decreasing an overactive one. This happens without the side effects associated with pharmaceutical substances such as interferon, prednisone or methotrexate. Sterols and sterolins have been evaluated in a 25,000-person safety study and found to have no side effects, no drug interactions, and no toxicity. It is safe for children, as well as pregnant and nursing mothers. Only those who have had an organ transplant cannot take plant sterols because they may stimulate rejection.

    Plant sterols and sterolins also increase the number and action of natural killer cells (our cancer fighters) and increase our DHE A levels naturally. They are also able to reduce the stress hormone cortisol and the proinflammatory immune factor, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TN F-a). Interleukin-6 and (TN F-a) are increased in autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis, over exercising, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis. Reduction of this inflammatory agent is the key to halting symptoms and pain. This is exactly what plant sterols and sterolins do.

    Sterols—Great Stress Busters
    Chronic stress is so negative that it can promote and exacerbate most disease. Numerous studies have linked our ability to deal with stress to our susceptibility to the common cold as well as more serious diseases such as cancer. Adults who have recently lost a loved one or have been divorced or separated tend to have the highest cancer rates. Unrelieved stress gradually weakens and suppresses our immune system, causing disease. Stressful situations promote the release of cortisol, the stress hormone which in turn causes the secretion of a negative immune factor interleukin-6. Abnormal levels of IL-6 are associated with osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, asthma, inflammatory diseases including arthritis, and more. We know that phytosterols are effective in reducing IL-6, cortisol and other negative immune factors. They also improve DHEA, a hormone known to help fight the effects of stress.

    An overview follows of a few of the outstanding studies published.

    Sterols Lower Cholesterol
    The rapid cholesterol-lowering effects of phytosterols have been reported in over 400 studies. Beta-sitosterol is very similar in structure to cholesterol except that it has an extra ethyl group on the side chain. Due to this similarity, it interferes with the absorption of the cholesterol found in our foods as well as the cholesterol produced by the body. By including phytosterol-rich foods or supplements containing sterols, we can normalize cholesterol much faster than with the common cholesterol-lowering drugs.

    Sterols Halt Hepatitis C
    Hepatitis C is now occurring in epidemic proportions. Over four million North Americans are infected with hepatitis C. Liver specialists are overwhelmed as they struggle to deal with the increase in the incidence of this disease. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants in North America. Physicians using sterols and sterolins to treat hepatitis C have already shown that with 90 days of the sterols and sterolins treatment liver enzymes and viral load normalize.

    Sterols, Heart Disease and DHEA
    A team of Canadian researchers discovered that an error in the regulation of certain immune cells that fight bacterial infections may be implicated in heart attacks and strokes. In a study published in the International Journal of Immunopharmacology, plant sterols and sterolins are shown to improve the ability of the immune system to fight bacterial infections. Sterols and sterolins, not antibiotics, may be the way to treat bacterial-induced heart disease.

    Prostate Problems Eliminated
    Urologists in Germany have been using plant sterols and sterolins for over two decades for the treatment of enlarged prostate. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 200 patients with an average age of 65 and with BPH, subjects were given sterols and sterolins for six months. The treatment group showed a rapid reduction of the symptoms mentioned above and an increase in peak urinary flow and a decrease in inflammation. When does a health food product become mainstream? Do 4,000 medical studies constitute good scientific evidence of a nutrient’s effectiveness? We believe plant sterols and sterolins will change the way we treat disease in the future. Instead of treating symptoms, we will get directly to the source of the symptoms and repair the cause of the disease.

  • MSM The Benefits of Organic Sulfur Revisited

    Back in the news is MSM (short for methylsulfonyl-methane, also known as dimethyl sulfone). MSM has generated broad anecdotal support for its benefits in cases of allergies, arthritis and joint pain. However, the list of conditions that are said to respond to MSM is much longer. Broadly speaking, MSM has been tested with clinical results in inflammation, joint and tissue pain, muscle spasms, hair and nail growth, even snoring! So just what is this compound and how does it work? Is it really a panacea?

    Nature’s Sulfur Cycle
    MSM’s initial popularity was due, in part, to the success of the booklet, “The MSM Miracle: Enhance Your Health with Organic Sulfur,” by Earl L. Mindell, R.PH., Ph.D. which was followed in 1999 by the definitive The Miracle of MSM (by Jacob, Lawrence and Zucker). However, the story of MSM dates back at least to the early 1960s. Unfortunately, these first suggestions of the nutritional and therapeutic potential of MSM were not immediately followed up. Yet another decade lapsed before real clinical studies began. The catalyst for renewed interest was a report presented at a meeting of the New York Academy of Sciences in the early 1980s. Since that time, thousands of patients have been given MSM under medical supervision to determine its benefits and side effects when given either by mouth or intravenously, with much of that work performed at the Oregon Health Sciences University. Hundreds of thousands more individuals have purchased MSM from health food store shelves.

    MSM is a stable source of sulfur that can be derived mostly from plants grown either on land or in the sea. Marine sources include algae and phytoplakton. Indeed, MSM is an integral part of the “sulfur cycle” in the biosphere in which sulfur is taken up from the soil by plants, is released into the atmosphere as the highly volatile dimethyl sulfide, which in turn is oxidized in the upper atmosphere to dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), which then becomes the atmospheric source of MSM. DMSO and MSM return to the soil via the rain, and then the sulfur cycle repeats itself.

    Of our normal foods, milk is one example of a source of MSM, and so are onions, garlic, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts as well as eggs and red peppers. However, there is a caveat. Plants in their fresh state thus contain a quantity of MSM when grown on sulfur-rich soils, yet most of the compound found in plant foods may be lost by improper handling and storage. Food preparation, especially excessive cooking and cooking in large volumes of water, also reduces the levels of MSM found in foods.

    Bioavailable Sulfur (MSM) Improves Joint Health and More
    MSM is a bioavailable source of sulfur, which is important for supplying the building blocks for the production and repair of the skin, hair, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. In the cases of arthritis and similar joint and ligament injuries, MSM may work through several different mechanisms. For instance, it was discovered in the 1930s that sufferers from arthritis often have below normal levels of cystine (a metabolite of cysteine) in their fingernails. This can lead to brittle or soft nails and can be an indication of either inadequate sulfur in the diet or a poor ability to manipulate dietary sulfur to match the body’s needs. Interestingly, when sulfur was given to one hundred arthritis patients intravenously in one trial, many found that the pain and other symptoms of their arthritis disappeared and that their fingernails returned to normal in the nail test for cystine.

    Sulfur is required for the repair of joint tissues and for the construction of connective tissues generally. This is one rationale often given for the use of glucosamine sulfate as the preferred form of glucosamine in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Likewise, the cartilage extracts that were employed so successfully in many of the European arthritis trials certainly contained some quantity of sulfur along with other compounds. This suggests that MSM might be used in conjunction with glucosamine to yield improved results. This was confirmed recently in a trial combining MSM with glucosamine. The researchers concluded that the “combination of MSM with Glu (glucosamine) provides better and more rapid improvement in patients with osteoarthritis.”

    Joint health to most of us means arthritis. However, this leaves out sports injuries, one of the areas in which MSM has been researched. Also, not just humans benefit from MSM. There even is research, for instance, on the effective use of MSM with racehorses.

    Pilot clinical trials suggest that a realistic time frame for response to MSM therapy is four to six weeks. For instance, in a small arthritis trial conducted at UCLA by R. M. Lawrence, pain scores exhibited a 60 percent improvement at four weeks and an 82 percent improvement at six weeks compared with placebo, which exhibited improvements of 20 and 18 percent respectively. Similarly, in a pilot trial on hair and nail health, 3 grams of MSM ingested daily led to significant improvements within six weeks.

    MSM–An Autoimmune Connection?
    One of the more curious findings with MSM is that some types of autoimmune responses are positively modulated. The reasons for this are not at all clear. One route of protection may be improvements in gastrointestinal health. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease, is strongly associated with the passage of toxins and certain proteins through the wall of the gut and into the blood stream. This is sometimes referred to as “leaky gut” syndrome. Interestingly, MSM is sometimes said to improve allergies, constipation, and even problems with parasites. Common to all of these are problems with the health of the intestinal wall.

    This observation actually takes us back to the role of the glucosamines in health. Glucosamines are forms of amino sugars. Amino sugars are essential components of all body tissues, being integral parts of cell membranes and their surface structures, and of interstitial tissue that holds cells together. About half of the interstitial tissue components are derived from amino sugars. An amino sugar is made up of a sugar (glucose or galactose) and an amino group (typically one nitrogen and one or more hydrogen atoms), forming glucosamine or galactosamine. While most sugars come from dietary sources and are burned for energy, amino sugars are mainly formed in the body and used in manufacturing tissue components. Normal wear and tear during body functions means that tissues are constantly broken down and rebuilt or restructured. The amino sugars are steadily and necessarily recycled. The loss sustained during such turnover must be made up by the bodily synthesis of new amino sugars from glucose inasmuch as dietary supplies of amino sugars are usually low. Of course, if amino sugars are to be used to efficiently construct connective tissue, there must be sulfur freely available to the body.

    Normally, the mucosal cells lining the digestive tract have an especially high turnover rate such that the whole layer of surface cells may be renewed in three to four days. An inability to manufacture adequate glucosamine therefore will cause the intestinal wall to “thin” and allow toxins and not fully digested proteins into the blood stream. A lower than normal sulfur content in the gut wall is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis and may play a contributory role. Studies with MSM given to animals in their drinking water indicated that microorganisms in the gut lining may be responsible for incorporating sulfur from MSM into sulfur-bearing amino acids, with a positive benefit to this essential aspect of the metabolism. MSM may thus play a role in improving this aspect of gut health and likely works even better in this regard in conjunction with a glucosamine source, such as glucosamine sulfate, or N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG).

    It may be the case that the autoimmune modulating effects of MSM are partially due to free radical scavenging actions. Unfortunately, although it is the object of numerous U.S. patents, MSM, has been the subject of only a handful of published studies in this particular area.

    Dosage
    MSM often is associated with the name of Stanley W. Jacob, M.D. in the Department of Surgery at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Jacob used MSM with more than 12,000 patients and therefore from clinical practice there is a foundation for suggesting an approximate intake of MSM for supplemental purposes. The minimum dosage is 750–1,000 mg and a common dosage level is two to three grams of MSM per day taken in divided doses; for instance, 1.5 grams ingested with the morning and evening meals. Increase the dosage slowly if a dosage higher than 1 gram per day is intended. Vitamin C and glucosamine are two nutrients often used in conjunction with MSM. A recent clinical trial for arthritis tested three grams MSM taken twice per day. Benefits usually become evident with three weeks or less, but as indicated above, there typically is further improvement in the period from four to six weeks. MSM is safe for chronic intake and is not associated with serious side effects even at dosages far above the two to three gram level.

    Selected Sources:

    1. Ameye LG, Chee WS. Osteoarthritis and Nutrition. From nutraceuticals to functional foods: a systematic review of the scientific evidence. Arthritis Res Ther. 2006;8(4):R127.
    2. Brien S, Prescott P, Bashir N, Lewith H, Lewith G. Systematic review of the nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2008 Nov;16(11):1277–88.
    3. Childs SJ. Dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2) in the treatment of interstitial cystitis. Urol Clin North Am 1994;21(1):85–8.
    4. Jacobs SW, Lawrence RM, Zucker M. The Miracle of MSM. (New York: G.P. Putnam/ Berkeley Trade, 1999).
    5. Jacob, SW, Herschler, RJ. Introductory Remarks: Dimethylsulfoxide After Twenty Years. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1983.
    6. Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, Howard P, Buratovich N, Waters RF. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2006 Mar;14(3):286–94.
    7. Klandorf H, Chirra AR, DeGruccio A, Girman DJ. Dimethyl sulfoxide modulation of diabetes onset in NOD mice. Diabetes 1989;38(2):194–7.
    8. Lawrence, RM, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): A double-blind study of its use in degenerative arthritis. International Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine 1998 Summer;1(I);50.
    9. Mindell, Earl L. The MSM Miracle: Enhance your health with organic sulfur. (New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing, Inc., 1997).
    10. McCabe D, O’Dwyer P, Sickle-Santanello B, Woltering E, Abou-Issa H, James A. Polar solvents in the chemoprevention of dimethylbenzanthracene-induced rat mammary cancer. Archives of Surgery 1986;121(12):1455–9.
    11. O’Dwyer PJ, McCabe DP, Sickle-Santanello BJ, Woltering EA, Clausen K, Martin EW Jr. Use of polar solvents in chemoprevention of 1,2-dimethylhydrazine-induced colon cancer. Cancer 1988;62(5):944–8.
    12. Richmond VL. Incorporation of methylsulfonylmethane sulfur into guinea pig serum proteins. Life Sciences 1986;39(3):263–8.
    13. Usha PR, Naidu MU. Randomized, Double-Blind, Parallel, Placebo-Controlled Study of Oral Glucosamine, Methylsulfonylmethane and their Combination in Osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Investig. 2004;24(6):353–63.
  • Nutraceutical Relief for Inflammation

    Inflammation is a useful natural reaction that the body has in response to injury and certain other conditions. Chronic inflammation, however, can be more destructive than beneficial. Indeed, when we hear the word inflammation, we tend to associate with conditions like arthritis and other more serious issues. Nevertheless, there are many common causes of inflammation that are not associated with disease states. These include eating diets high in certain inflammation-promoting foods (e.g., polyunsaturated fats, simple carbohydrates— especially refined sugars1, common allergens like casein and gluten2), being in colder temperatures3, experiencing menopause (with hormone fluctuations)4, experiencing psychological stress5 and exposure to environmental toxins.6

    Ramifications Of Inflammation
    That being said, there can still be ramifications associated with common, non-disease types of inflammation, even low-grade systemic inflammation. Examples include but are not limited to everyday aches and pains, alterations in digestion and absorption7, behavioral changes8, minor disruption in microcirculation and blood flow over the course of the aging process9, and a minor negative impact on immune health.10 In addition, obesity is associated with inflammation.

    Specifically, overweight and obese children and adults have elevated serum levels of C-Reactive Protein and other known markers of inflammation. This is not to say that inflammation causes obesity, but rather the reverse: obesity causes low-grade systemic inflammation. While obesity is commonly thought of as adipose tissue, it is also associated with fat storage in other tissues—including the liver and skeletal muscle. This may lead to insulin resistance and may also stimulate inflammation. Obesity also changes the type of chemicals that our fat cells secrete, which may include the secretion of several pro-inflammatory mediators.11 Since chronic inflammation is closely associated with cardiovascular risk factors, including cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular causes of death, this may help explain the increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and many other chronic diseases in the obese.12

    Anti-Inflammatory Nutraceuticals
    One of the strategies to help decrease inflammation is the use of anti-inflammatory nutraceuticals—and there are many from which to choose. Following is a discussion of some of my favorite anti-inflammatory nutraceuticals, which includes resveratrol, grape seed extract, calcium fructoborate, turmeric (curcumin) and ginger.

    Resveratrol
    Resveratrol (RSV), a natural substance found in grapes, peanuts and Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), made a big splash when it was introduced into the dietary supplement market because it was considered to contribute to the “French paradox,” the unexpectedly low rate of death from cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean population, despite a diet that is relatively high in saturated fat. Since then research has demonstrated other benefits for RSV, among them its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory agent. This was seen in a randomized, placebo-controlled study13 investigating the effectiveness of 40 mg RSV or placebo daily (for six weeks) on oxidative and inflammatory stress in normal subjects. The results were that RSV significantly reduced oxidative stress (P < 0.05) and also significantly suppressed levels of several inflammatory markers, including TNF-alpha, IL-6, and C-Reactive Protein (P <). There was no change in these indices in the control group given placebo.

    Grape Seed Extract And Resveratrol
    Grape seed extract contains phenolic compounds known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC). These OPC have significant antioxidant properties.14 In addition, they also appear to have significant anti-inflammatory properties—at least when combined with RSV. In a triple-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, one-year follow-up, 3-arm pilot clinical trial15, 75 stable–coronary artery disease (CAD) patients received a combination of grape seed phenolics (i.e. OPC) and RSV, grape seed extract alone, or a placebo. The daily doses of the combination were as follows: 139 mg of grape seed OPC for the first six months, and then doubled for the following six months, which would require about 293 mg (a grape seed extract providing 95 percent OPC, 146.32 mg is required to yield 139 mg OPC); RSV was eight mg and 16 mg for the first six months and the remaining six months, respectively. The daily dose of grape seed OPC alone was 151 mg during six months, and then doubled for the following six months. The results showed that after one year, in contrast to the placebo and grape seed extract only groups, the combination group showed an increase of the antiinflammatory serum adiponectin (9.6 percent, p = 0.01).

    In addition, in the combination group six key inflammation factors were significantly improved (p < 0.05) without any adverse effects.

    Using the same dosage strategy and group types as in the last study, a randomized placebo-controlled, triple-blind, dose–response, 1-year follow-up study16 with three parallel arms was conducted in 35 in hypertensive male patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Results showed that after 12 months there was a significant reduction in levels of the inflammatory markers ALP (p = 0.02) and IL-6 (p = 0.00) in the combination group. In addition, the production of proinflammatory cytokines was also reduced significantly.

    Calcium Fructoborate
    Calcium fructoborate (CF) is a form of the mineral boron, known for its role in bone health—but it is also good for joints and inflammation. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study17 examined the effect of 108 mg CF twice a day in patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Results showed that in the CF group, pain scores at Day seven dropped to 82 percent of the Day one value (from 74.0 to 59.9, p<0.05). By Day 14, the pain score reduced to 71 percent of the baseline (from 74.4 to 52.2, p<0.01). In contrast, there was no significant reduction in pain scores in the placebo group on either Day seven or Day 14. Other measures of pain were also significantly reduced (p< 0.05) on Day seven and Day 14 (p< 0.01). In addition, blood level of C-Reactive Protein were reduced up to 37 percent compared to Day one baseline levels in 79 percent of subjects. Interestingly, the study also showed that blood level of vitamin D was increased more than 19 percent compared to baseline, but not in the placebo group. The CF was well tolerated by all study subjects with no reports of adverse effect.

    Calcium Fructoborate And Resveratrol
    A 60-day, randomized, double-blinded, active-controlled, parallel clinical trial18 was conducted in three groups of subjects to evaluate the effects of oral supplementation with CF (112 mg/day), RSV (20 mg/day), and their combination (RSV – 20 mg/day + CF – 112 mg/day) for 60 days on the clinical and biological statuses of patients with stable angina pectoris. Of the total number of subjects included in study (n = 166), 87 completed the test treatment study period and 29 followed in parallel their usual medical care and treatment. Results showed that there was a significant decrease of high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein in all groups at the 30-day and 60-day visits. At 60 days, this decrease was greater for CF (39.7 percent), followed by RSV + CF (30.3 percent). Markers for congestive heart failure were significantly lowered by RSV (59.7 percent) and by CF (52.6 percent). However, their combination induced a decrease of 65.5 percent. The improvement in the quality of life was best observed for subjects who received the RSV + CF mixture.

    Turmeric (Curcumin)
    Turmeric, a member of the ginger family, has been used as a traditional remedy in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine as well as for condiment and flavoring purposes for over 2,000 years, based on records dating back to 600 BCE.19 Its primary active constituent is the flavonoid curcumin (diferuloylmethane), which is responsible for the plant’s yellow color and the compound providing most of its medicinal qualities.20,21 Certainly, research has demonstrated that the curcumin molecules inhibit 5-lipoxygenase (LOX) and cyclooxygenase (COX), resulting in a well-established anti-inflammatory action.22,23,24 This ability to help relieve common, everyday inflammation has been demonstrated in a significant number of published human clinical studies on curcumin.25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35

    Ginger
    Although it’s probably more known for its anti-nausea properties (i.e., treatment of motion sickness and morning sickness), Ginger is also an effective anti-inflammatory herb that has historically been used for arthritis and rheumatism. In a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and muscular discomfort, the majority experienced (to varying degrees) relief of pain and swelling. None of the patients reported adverse effects during the period of ginger consumption, which ranged from three months to 2.5 years.36

    Another double-blind trial found ginger extract to be more effective than placebo at relieving pain in people with OA of the hip or knee.37 Likewise, in another doubleblind study ginger was significantly more effective than a placebo in pain relief and overall improvement.38 Ginger is considered to exert its anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting COX-2 and lipoxygenase pathways.39

    Conclusion
    Inflammation may be present in disease or non-disease states. In either case, resveratrol, grape seed extract, calcium fructoborate, turmeric (curcumin) and ginger may be helpful in reducing markers of inflammation, reducing pain, and improving other parameters of health.

    References:

    1. Lopez-Garcia E, Schulze MB, Fung TT, Meigs JB, Rifai N, Manson JE, Hu FB. Major dietary patterns are related to plasma concentrations of markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80(4):1029–35.
    2. Caputo I, Lepretti M, Martucciello S, Esposito C. Enzymatic strategies to detoxify gluten: implications for celiac disease. Enzyme Res 2010 Oct 7;2010:174354.
    3. Halonen JI, Zanobetti A, Sparrow D, Vokonas PS, Schwartz J. Associations between outdoor temperature and markers of inflammation: a cohort study. Environmental Health 2010;9:42.
    4. Abu-Taha M, Rius C, Hermenegildo C, Noguera I, Cerda-Nicolas JM, Issekutz AC, Jose PJ, Cortijo J, Morcillo EJ, Sanz MJ. Menopause and ovariectomy cause a low grade of systemic inflammation that may be prevented by chronic treatment with low doses of estrogen or losartan. J Immunol. 2009 Jul 15;183(2):1393– 402. Epub 2009 Jun 24.
    5. Black PH, Garbutt LD. Stress, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. J Psychosom Res 2002;52(1):1–23.
    6. Watkins BA, Hannon K, Ferruzzi M, Li Y. Dietary PUFA and flavonoids as deterrents for environmental pollutants. J Nutr Biochem 2007;18(3):196 –205.
    7. Peuhkuri K, Vapaatalo H, Korpela R. Even low-grade inflammation impacts on small intestinal function. World J Gastroenterol 2010;16(9):1057– 62.
    8. Teeling JL, Felton LM, Deacon RMJ, Cunningham C, Rawlins JNP, Perry VH. Sub-pyrogenic systemic inflammation impacts on brain and behavior, independent of cytokines. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 2007;21(6):836–850.
    9. Payne GW. Effect of Inflammation on the Aging Microcirculation: Impact on Skeletal Muscle Blood Flow Control. Microcirculation 2006;13(4):343–52.
    10. Ader R. Psychoneuroimmunology, Volume 1, 4th Ed. Elsevier Science & Technology Books; 2006:438.
    11. Stienstra R, Duval C, Müller M, Kersten S. PPARs, Obesity, and Inflammation. PPAR Res. 2007;2007:95974.
    12. Das UN. Is obesity an inflammatory condition? Nutrition. 2001 Nov-Dec;17(11-12):953–66.
    13. Ghanim H, Sia CL, Abuaysheh S, Korzeniewski K, Patnaik P, Marumganti A, Chaudhuri A, Dandona P. An anti-inflammatory and reactive oxygen species suppressive effects of an extract of Polygonum cuspidatum containing resveratrol. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Sep;95(9):E1–8.
    14. Feringa HH, Laskey DA, Dickson JE, Coleman CI. The effect of grape seed extract on cardiovascular risk markers: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Aug;111(8):1173–81.
    15. Tomé-Carneiro J, Gonzálvez M, Larrosa M, Yáñez-Gascón MJ, García-Almagro FJ, Ruiz-Ros JA, Tomás-Barberán FA, García-Conesa MT, Espín JC. Grape resveratrol increases serum adiponectin and down regulates inflammatory genes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells: a triple-blind, placebo-controlled, one-year clinical trial in patients with stable coronary artery disease. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2013 Feb;27(1):37–48.
    16. Tomé-Carneiro J, Larrosa M, Yáñez-Gascón MJ, Dávalos A, Gil-Zamorano J, Gonzálvez M, García-Almagro FJ, Ruiz Ros JA, Tomás-Barberán FA, Espín JC, García-Conesa MT. One-year supplementation with a grape extract containing resveratrol modulates inflammatory-related microRNAs and cytokines expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of type 2 diabetes and hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease. Pharmacol Res. 2013 Jun;72:69–82.
    17. Reyes-Izquierdo T, et al. Short-term Intake of Calcium Fructoborate Improves WOMAC and McGill Scores and Beneficially Modulates Biomarkers Associated with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Pilot Clinical Double-blinded Placebocontrolled Study. Am J Biomed Sci. 2012; doi: 10.5099.
    18. Militaru C, Donoiu I, Craciun A, Scorei ID, Bulearca AM, Scorei RI. Oral resveratrol and calcium fructoborate supplementation in subjects with stable angina pectoris: effects on lipid profiles, inflammation markers, and quality of life. Nutrition. 2013 Jan;29(1):178–83.
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  • Olive Leaf Complex-A secret weapon for health and immunity

    Olive leaf complex is quite simply one of the most useful natural compounds I’ve ever encountered. It’s a powerful health tonic that’s fantastic for general well-being and enhanced immunity.

    Let me explain.

    The olive plant is a rich source of such beneficial plant compounds as tocopherols, flavonoids, anthocyanins, sterols and polyphenols. “The real benefit of olive oil is that it delivers these amazing polyphenols,” says David Rubin, MD, MSc, an Israeli researcher and biochemist.

    What are Polyphenols, Anyway?
    Polyphenols are a group of valuable chemicals found throughout the plant kingdom primarily in berries, walnuts, olives, teas, grapes and other fruits and vegetables. They have a wide variety of health benefits. And the fresh leaves of some olive trees are loaded with them.

    These polyphenols also have antimicrobial activity against a wide variety of viruses, bacteria, yeasts and fungi.

    Scientific advances have shown there are at least 30 distinct polyphenols in fresh-picked olive leafs and that the full spectrum of these polyphenols in fresh-picked olive leaves gives a synergistic effect greater than any individual isolated compound alone. This is why the most bioeffective olive leaf products on the market today are always made directly from fresh-picked, whole olive leaves which provide the whole spectrum of natural polyphenolic antioxidants just as nature intended. This also enables them to work together in natural synergy to maximize the health benefits.

    How is Your Immune System Functioning?
    Immunity is one of the keys to good health. Think for a moment about the last time something was “going around” your office. Some people got really sick but others probably didn’t. And even among those who did, whatever “bug” was going around probably laid some people out for two weeks while others were back to work after a day or so.

    The difference? The performance of the Immune System.
    We can’t do much about the bugs and microbes we’re all exposed to—but what we can do is strengthen and support our immune system.

    Olive Leaf Complex Can Help.
    Here are some of the questions you might ask yourself if you’re interested in evaluating just how well your immune system is functioning:

    • Do you get infections frequently?
    • Do you have frequent colds?
    • Do you get the flu?
    • Do you experience inflammation or infection in the
    • upper respiratory tract?
    • Do you suffer from bronchitis frequently?
    • Do you have recurrent skin infections?
    • Have you ever suffered from recurrent infections of
    • Candida or “yeast infections”?
    • Have you been diagnosed with Epstein-Barr or chronic fatigue syndrome?
    • Do you experience a reduction in stamina and resistance, especially when under stress?
    • Are your energy levels less than you would like them to be?

    Any or all of these can be symptoms of compromised immunity.

    What about Olive Leaf for Bacteria and Viruses?
    Your best defense against the potential damage of bacteria and viruses is to have a strong, robust immune system that will prevent them from taking root and doing harm in the first place.

    Fresh-picked olive leaf complex can be a powerful weapon in the battle between your immune system and invading microbes. The bitter substances in olive leaves—since identified as the polyphenols we’ve been talking about throughout this article (oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, caffeic acid, verbascoside, etc.) have been found to be particularly helpful in resisting bacterial damage. In fact, early research by the drug company Upjohn found extracts from olive leaves to be effective in treating infection caused by a large number of viruses as well as bacteria and parasitic protozoans.

    According to James R. Privitera, MD, these are some of the unique properties possessed by the olive leaf compound for the broad killing power:

    • Olive leaf has an ability to interfere with critical amino acid production essential for viruses.
    • Olive leaf has an ability to control viral infection and/or spread by inactivating viruses or by preventing virus shedding, budding or assembly at the cell membrane.
    • Olive leaf extract has the ability to directly penetrate
    • infected cells and stop viral replication.
    • Olive leaf can stimulate a process called phagocytosis, an immune system response in which cells act like little Pac-Man, ingesting harmful microorganisms and foreign matter.

    In vitro studies have found olive leaf extract is effective against over 50 common disease causing organisms including viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa such as herpes, influenza A, Polio 1, 2, and 3; Salmonella typhimurium, Candida Krusei and Coxsackie A21.

    Biochemist Arnold Takemoto, talking to the Townsend Newsletter for Doctors and Patients put it this way: “(I have) yet to discover another herbal substance that accomplishes antimicrobially what this substance achieves.”

    But not just any old olive leaf…

    One brand I particularly like is Barlean’s olive leaf complex. It’s made 100 percent from fresh-picked leaves; it’s never reconstituted, it has no artificial preservatives, no added sugar and it comes in a fast-acting, great-tasting liquid. Every batch has been thoroughly analyzed using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), the global standard to scientifically identify and measure the healing compounds in herbal medicines. In Australia, consumers already spend up to three million dollars a month on this incredible olive leaf product.

    Barlean’s olive leaf complex comes from trees that have been farmed naturally on virgin land in Australia. Organic vermiculture (worm created) fertilizers and pristine irrigation water are coupled with early morning harvesting and immediate transfer of the freshly harvested leaves to the processing plant.

    What dosage is best?
    Though there is really no “official” recommended dose for taking olive leaf complex, many experts recommend a basic maintenance dose for general use and a “therapeutic” dose for special cases. Generally, the consensus is one tablespoonful (15ml) one to two times a day taken right before eating is ideal for maintenance.

    For conditions such as the common cold, flu, sinus infections and basic respiratory tract infections, the recommended dose is 2 × 5ml teaspoons every six hours, says naturopath Jack Ritchason, ND. For acute infections such as sore throat, swollen glands or fever, Ritchason recommends three teaspoons (15ml) every six hours.

    On a personal note, I take a capful of olive leaf complex on a daily basis as a general tonic and immune system booster. Although this is hardly a scientific statement, I can tell you I rarely get sick and on the few occasions I do, it’s very mild and I’m back to my routine in record time. Apparently, I’m not alone in being a fan of olive leaf complex. Experts agree taking this wonderful supplement can be a valuable part of anyone’s health routine.

    Says Ritchason: “From all indications—research, case studies and widespread use—olive leaf extract appears to be an extremely safe supplement that can effectively aid the body in improving immune function and fighting infection by various microbes.”

  • Reduce Inflammation Naturally with Nature's Pac Man

    Have you ever had a sore throat, been stung by a bee, or twisted your ankle? Do you have arthritis, back pain or headaches? Whenever you are in pain, even post-surgical pain, your body makes compounds in response to the injury which cause temporary redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Then naturally produced enzymes in your body eat up these inflammatory compounds, and that is when you notice the swelling goes down, the pain is relieved and the redness or stiffness recedes.

    One second ago, an enzyme in your body called superoxide dismutase (SOD) just chased out a cancer-causing toxin that your cell accidentally spawned. You make all sorts of enzymes, and what's cool is that you can also buy certain enzymes as a dietary supplement, including SOD. Lactose is an enzyme that chews up milk sugars, helping some people to tolerate milk. Bromelain, derived from pineapples, helps with allergies and helps people post-surgically. It might even reduce scarring if taken soon enough. People who take acid blockers could benefit from papain, an enzyme derived from papaya fruit that works nicely with your stomach's pH range.

    Proteolytic enzymes another type of enzyme. They chew up proteins and help with digestion. I think they're great for chronic pain syndromes. They help dissolve fibrin deposits which helps bruising. As a teenager (way back in the 1980's) we played a game called Pac Man. Remember?(Please tell me you remember). This popular arcade game included a Pac-Man which traveled a maze and gobbled up ghosts. I was a monster at Pac-Man in my hey day! Proteolytic enzymes work in the same way, they just gobble up debris, as opposed to ghosts.

    With less debris, there is improved circulation. That means more oxygen and healing nutrients to the site of injury. As a pharmacist, I recommend you reach for proteolytic enzymes before you NSAIDs such as acetaminophen, naproxen or ibuprofen. Why? Because they are temporary and they have side effects. It's the equivalent of applying a bandage, and while most of you fair out well, the unlucky few experience diarrhea, nausea, headaches, dizziness, bleeding ulcers or heaven forbid, kidney damage. Besides, if you mask your pain with medicine, but continue to operate as normal, you increase your risk of permanent damage.

    A German paper studied proteolytic enzymes in 100 athletes. The results were shocking. More than 75 percent said the enzyme treatment was favorable and no side effects were reported! So incredible were the results that the German government sent millions of enzyme capsules to the Olympics to help their athletes heal quicker.

    Enzymes are a necessity to life, just like oxygen, food, clean water and shelter. (Some may argue that chocolate should be included as well).

    For chronic pain syndromes, as opposed to digestive issues, I recommend that you take your proteolytic enzyme supplement on an empty stomach. This increases the 'Pac-Man' effect by up to 40 percent. While these supplements are generally well-tolerated, I occasionally hear of allergies, rashes and digestive upset.

  • What is MSM?

    MSM is a naturally-occurring nutrient, a sulfur compound, found in normal human diets and the diets of all other vertebrates. Sulfur is an element present in all living organisms. It belongs in the same chemical family which includes oxygen. For organisms living in environments where there is no oxygen, sulfur often replaces oxygen as the source of chemical energy that drives life. It is not a pharmaceutical drug but a dietary supplement.

    Sulfur, the eighth most abundant element in the human body, has a long history as a healing agent. For centuries mankind has soaked in sulfur-rich, mineral hot springs to help heal a variety of ailments. While sulfur’s natural anti-inflammatory properties have shown benefits for a range of health problems, including arthritis, muscle and joint pain, much is still unknown about precisely how it works in the body.

    Without sulfur, life as we know it would not exist. Some of the essential functions that make sulfur possible for us to live include maintaining the structure of the proteins of the body, helping in the formation of keratin, which is essential for hair and nail growth, aiding in the production of immunoglobulin, which maintains the normal immune system, catalyzing the chemical reactions which change food into energy and neutralizing or eliminating toxins from the body. (Sulfur is needed to create/hold the molecular structure, particularly the sulfur amino acids: methionine, cysteine, taurine.)

    MSM and its related compounds provide the source of 85 percent of the sulfur found in all living organisms. The cycle of these naturally-occurring sulfur compounds begins in the ocean where microscopic plants called plankton release sulfur compounds. These salts are transformed in the ocean water into the very volatile compound dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which escapes from the ocean water as a gas. It then rises into the upper atmosphere where in the presence of ozone and high energy ultraviolet light, the DMS is converted into its cousins DMSO and MSM. Unlike the DMS, both DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) and MSM are soluble in water and when they return to the surface of the earth it is as rain. Plants take MSM rapidly into their root systems and concentrate it a hundredfold. MSM, and the sulfur it contains, is incorporated into the plant’s structure. Through plant metabolism the MSM, along with other sulfur compounds that it has spawned, is ultimately mineralized and transported back to the sea. Then the sulfur cycle beings again.

    Almost everyone in our modern society is deficient in MSM but with age the deficiency grows even more pronounced. What’s happening in our lives today is that we’re processing too many foods. The highest concentration of MSM is found in milk. MSM is a natural component of many fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and meat. However, heat and processing reduce the MSM in foods. Onions, garlic, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are sulfur-rich foods, but not as rich as eggs and red peppers. Food preparation, like washing and steaming, also reduces the levels of MSM.

    The most efficient way to assure sufficient levels of MSM in the body, or to benefit from the therapeutic benefits, is to include it as a staple of one’s daily nutritional supplement program. MSM is available in capsules that can be taken with meals or in crystal form for mixing with drinks. It can also be purchased as a cream, lotion or gel and applied directly to the skin for additional relief from pain and inflammation.

    Although MSM is commonly characterized as a breakthrough remedy for people with osteoarthritis, its benefits extend beyond the treatment of chronic illnesses. In fact, in recent years athletes and fitness enthusiasts have begun to rely on MSM to reduce the pain, soreness and inflammation associated with injuries, strained or cramped muscles and over-extended joints. Many use MSM in ointment form to alleviate the pain of sprained ankles, elbows and shoulders, strained muscles and ligaments and tendon injuries.

    Experience shows that MSM is often so effective for pain relief that doctors are able to lower the dosage of medication they prescribe for patients. The end result is relief with fewer or no side effects that are frequently caused by prescription pain medications. It is also important to understand in that MSM is a naturally-occurring sulfur compound found in the body, it is not similar to inorganic sulfides, sulfites and sulfates to which many individuals are allergic.

    Another major natural health property of MSM is that it is excellent for preventing allergies. I would say that it is probably the most important substance we have had for the prevention of allergies since the advent of the antihistaminic agents, and that was over four decades ago. People taking MSM orally, or sometimes supplementing that with nose drops, will not have the conventional burning of the eyes or the running nose or the hoarseness associated with allergies to pollens, dust and molds.

    MSM also has anti-parasitic properties. We have studied the two most common parasites in the gastrointestinal tract. The giardia is a parasitic infection of the small intestine which causes poor absorption of nutrition in humans. It is the most frequent cause of water-carried diarrhea in the U.S. MSM is quite effective when taken orally in controlling the symptoms and fighting the invading organism.

    Many women complain of yeast infections, which are caused by a parasite called trichomonas. The symptoms include increased itching and discharge which may be malodorous and discolored. Both the topical and oral supplements are effective therapy.

    MSM helps to control hyperacidity/heartburn naturally. Patients who have used antacids and products like Tagamet™ and Zantac™ make themselves worse by becoming dependent upon them. MSM is a nutritional supplement that has been shown to be more effective in stabilizing the digestive process and environment in doses of 3000 mg per day.

    Researchers at Oregon Health Sciences University studied a strain of mice that were prone to the spontaneous development of joint lesions similar to those in rheumatoid arthritis. They found that animals that were fed a diet that included a three percent solution of MSM as drinking water, from two months to five months of age, suffered no degeneration of articular cartilage. In a control group of mice receiving only tap water, 50 percent of the animals were found to have a focal degeneration of articular cartilage.

    Of the 16 patents granted to MSM, one is for relief from snoring. Research at Oregon Health Sciences University on 35 subjects suffering from chronic snoring has shown that MSM, as a 16 percent water solution administered to each nostril 15 minutes before sleep, provided significant reduction in 80 percent of the subjects after one to four days of use.

    As a control, in eight patients showing relief with MSM, saline solution was substituted for MSM without their knowledge. Seven of eight patients resumed loud snoring. The change occurred within 24 hours of the substitution. After the MSM treatment was restored, these eight again showed a significant reduction of snoring.

    Many years of clinical use at Oregon Health Sciences University has demonstrated that MSM provides the following pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits without serious side effects:

    • Inhibition of pain impulses along nerve fibers (analgesia)
    • Lessening of inflammation
    • Increase in blood supply
    • Reduction of muscle spasm
    • Softening of scar tissue

    To date more than 12,000 patients have been treated at the university with Lignisul MSM at levels above two grams daily with no serious toxicity. About as toxic as water, even common table salt can be more toxic than MSM, which is a crystalline solid that is odorless, tasteless and readily dissolves in water.

    We completed a double-blind, placebo- controlled, pilot trial showing that 100 percent of the subjects on Lignisul MSM (methyl- sulfonyl-methane) increased hair growth, compared to the group on placebo1. Only one subject on placebo showed an increase in hair length. In addition, 30 percent of the subjects on Lignisul showed improvement in hair brilliance, while none of the subjects on placebo showed such an improvement.

    A second double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot trial, conducted simultaneously, showed that 50 percent of the subjects on Lignisul MSM showed increased nail length and nail thickness growth compared to the group on placebo1. Approximately 10 percent of those on placebo showed increased nail length growth. None of the subjects on placebo showed an increase in nail thickness.

    Based on the results of the two trials, we concluded that oral supplementation with Lignisul MSM is a valuable addition to hair and nail growth. Hair and nail health was significantly improved in a short term of six weeks.

    The hair trial involved a total of 21 patients—16 women and 5 men. Data was collected by certified cosmetologists under my direction. The trial parameters included hair length, brilliance and diameter of the individual hair shafts using industry standard measurement scales.

    The nail trial involved a total of 11 subjects— 10 women and one man. Again data was collected by certified cosmetologists. Trial parameters included nail length, thickness, luster and general appearance using industry standard measurement scales.

    All subjects supplemented with Lignisul MSM were duly impressed with the changes in the health and appearance of their hair. The cosmetologists literally could differentiate which participants were on MSM by the appearance of the hair alone after six weeks.

    While researchers make no claim for cures, as a food supplement or dietary ingredient the following conditions seen in the clinic have responded to oral Lignisul MSM:
    • Allergies
    • Arthritis
    • Acne
    • Cancer: breast, colon
    • Hyperacidity/heartburn
    • Constipation
    • Burns (thermal)
    • Brittle/soft nails
    • Diabetes
    • Eye health
    • Hypersensitivity to drugs
    • Insect bites
    • Lung disease
    • Lupus
    • Mental acuity
    • Muscle soreness/pain
    • Oral/dental health
    • Parasites
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Scar tissue
    • Snoring
    • Skin, hair and nails
    • Stress
    • Sunburn
    • Joint health—MSM combined
    • with glucosamine

    References:

    1. The Effectiveness of the Use of Oral Lignisul MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) Supplementation on Hair and Nail Health

    Additional Reading: