Currently, the most talked about natural ingredient in the dietary supplement industry is probably CBD. It’s also the ingredient about which the most misinformation is being disseminated. One YouTube video may say it’s the cure for all ills, while another website may say that it’s not safe, and might even make you high. It really is a travesty that there is so much hype and unreliable personal opinion being expressed about CBD. In an effort to provide some clarity, this article will share science-based information about hemp, CBD and phytocannabinoids.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a naturally-occurring compound found in plants. It belongs to a family of compounds called cannabinoids or, more specifically, phytocannabinoids — which means cannabinoids from plants (phyto = plant). Actually, there are over 100 different phytocannabinoids, and hemp provides a primary source. Other common plants, such as oregano and basil, also contain phytocannabinoids. It may be that, when you eat Italian foods, one of the reasons you may enjoy them so much (besides the delicious taste), is that the phytocannabinoids they contain help you feel good.
The most well-known of the phytocannabinoids, aside from CBD, is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana that makes you high. To be clear, CBD and the other phytocannabinoids are not psychoactive, and will not make you high. They have other benefits, but they are not psychoactive.
While CBD is the most prevalent phytocannabinoid in hemp, it isn’t the only one. In fact, cannabinoids work together to create a greater overall synergistic activity. In scientific literature, the name for this is “the entourage effect.” This is similar to the way that various vitamins and minerals work together synergistically. If you’re just using isolated CBD, you’re not getting the benefits of the entourage effect.
A full-spectrum hemp extract, on the other hand, provides a full array of naturally-occurring phytocannabinoids, including a defined amount of CBD. That’s what you want: full-spectrum phytocannabinoids, not CBD isolate. It should also be noted that CBD isolate is less expensive than full-spectrum, as well as less effective.
The Endocannabinoid System
While most people can probably name a couple of body systems, like the immune and cardiovascular systems which consist of defined organs and other structures, the vast majority of people are unaware of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a different type of system, composed of a series of receptors which occur throughout the nervous system and, consequently, throughout every system in the body. The ECS plays a major role in regulating many physical and cognitive processes in the body.
In addition, the body produces endocannabinoids, which are its own internal cannabinoids. These activate the ECS receptors to initiate a cascade of powerful and important effects. Likewise, phytocannabinoids work with endocannabinoids to support and provide healthy functioning of the ECS. Just as every other system in the body needs nutritional support to stay healthy, the ECS needs such support as well. Supplementation with phytocannabinoids can help in the nourishment of the ECS.
Research On CBD/Phytocannabinoids
Regarding the benefits of cannabinoids let me start by saying that most CBD research is actually done on full-spectrum phytocannabinoids with a defined amount of CBD, not CBD isolate. So, that’s what I’m going to talk about. CBD/ phytocannabinoid research had been done on a broad range of health issues, with significant variations in dosage. In this article, we’ll focus on a few primary benefits associated with specific amounts of phytocannabinoids.
Relaxation And Sleep
Americans have a serious need to relax. Almost one-third of adults report that stress has a strong impact on their physical and mental health — and 42 percent of those report feeling nervous or anxious. In addition, about 46 percent of adults surveyed have reported lying awake at night due to stress. Essentially, stress just keeps their mind going and going, making it difficult to shut down for the night. Since the ECS plays an important role in the regulation and maintenance of all body systems, and phytocannabinoids support the ECS, it’s not surprising to learn that in human clinical research, 25 mg of phytocannabinoids daily have been shown to help calm stress and stress-induced anxiety, as well as help improve sleep.
A large, retrospective series of case studies1 was conducted in which the vast majority of 103 adult subjects with stress/anxiety and sleep complaints were given 25 mg phytocannabinoids per day in capsule form. If stress/anxiety complaints predominated the 25 mg dose was given in the morning after breakfast. If sleep complaints predominated, the dose was given in the evening after dinner. The results were that, on average, stress/anxiety and sleep improved for the majority of patients and these improvements were sustained over time. At the first monthly assessment following the start of phytocannabinoid supplementation, 79.2 percent and 66.7 percent of subjects experienced an improvement in stress/anxiety and sleep, respectively.
Other published case studies found similar results when phytocannabinoids were supplemented. In a case study2 with a young girl with stress/anxiety, 25 mg of phytocannabinoids at bedtime resulted in a steady improvement in the quality and quantity of her sleep. Likewise, in a case study3 with a 27-year old man who had stress/anxiety and sleep issues, the subject reported that 24 mg of phytocannabinoids daily resulted in improvements in stress/anxiety as well as settling into a regular pattern of sleep.
There are other studies in a variety of populations4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 in which phytocannabinoids have been successfully used at higher doses for stress/anxiety and sleep, but no studies in which phytocannabinoids have been used in lower doses.
An emerging area of phytocannabinoid research is inflammation and pain. Now before exploring the data, keep in mind that inflammation commonly occurs in a non-disease state. Inflammation occurs in everyone, every day. Higher intakes of red and processed meats, sweets, desserts, French fries, and refined grains are associated with experiencing more inflammation.12 Colder temperatures are associated with experiencing more inflammation.13 Physical overexertion — like exercising extra hard at the gym — may result in temporary inflammation and pain.14,15 So, when talking about pain and inflammation, these are the type of applications we're considering. Now, onto a review of phytocannabinoid research on inflammation and pain.
In research, there are various markers of inflammation. That is, there are inflammatory chemicals produced by our cells which contribute to the inflammatory process, and which can be measured. In one laboratory study,16 researchers sought to quantify the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids, including phytocannabinoids, in cells that produced inflammatory markers. The results were that the cannabinoids successfully reduced inflammatory markers. Similar results were seen in other laboratory research with cannabinoids/phytocannabinoids and inflammation.17,18,19 Other laboratory research suggests that phytocannabinoids may also have application for pain.20,21
In addition to laboratory research, there is also human research in which various doses of phytocannabinoids have been used in different inflammation/pain situations. In double-blind, placebo-controlled research with 62 subjects, supplementation with 200 mg/day phytocannabinoids significantly reduced levels of resistin, a type of protein that promotes several proinflammatory cytokines.22 In other human research,23 50-100 mg/day of phytocannabinoids resulted in pain reduction in most subjects tested.
Furthermore, 2,409 phytocannabinoid users were recently surveyed regarding why they used phytocannabinoids. The results, published in a scientific journal,24 were that almost 62 percent of the phytocannabinoid used reported using phytocannabinoids for specific health applications. The top three were pain, anxiety, and mood. Almost 36 percent of respondents reported that phytocannabinoids effectively addressed their issue(s) "very well by itself," while only 4.3 percent reported "not very well." Of course, this survey in and of itself does not constitute direct evidence of the effectiveness of phytocannabinoids of temporary pain applications, but when taken together with the other research cited it certainly provides interesting insights into the popular use of phytocannabinoids.
Much of the aforementioned research was conducted using a daily dose of 25 mg of phytocannabinoids. Nevertheless, you may find products on the market that contain 10 mg or even 5 mg of CBD/phytocannabinoids. Many people have asked me if these lower doses will do them any good. My answer is maybe, but since there's no research showing that doses lower than 25 mg have efficacy, I would recommend sticking with 25 mg dose for a greater likelihood of success.
- Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol (CBD) in Anxiety and Sleep: A large case series. Unpublished. n.d. 10 pgs.
- Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. Perm J. 2016 Fall;20(4):108-11.
- Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Cannabidiol Oil for Decreasing Addictive Use of Marijuana: A Case Report. Integrative Medicine. 2015;14(6):31-5.
- Fusar-Poli P, Allen P, Bhattacharyya S, Crippa JA, Mechelli A, Borgwardt S, Martin-Santos R, Seal ML, O'Carrol C, Atakan Z, Zuardi AW, McGuire P. Modulation of effective connectivity during emotional processing by Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2010 May;13(4):421-32.
- Crippa JA, Derenusson GN, Ferrari TB, Wichert-Ana L, Duran FL, Martin-Santos R, Simoes MV, Bhattacharyya S, Fusar-Poli P, Atakan Z, Santos Filho A, Freitas-Ferrari MC, McGuire PK, Zuardi AW, Busatto GF, Hallak JE. Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. J Psychopharmacol. 2011 Jan;25(1):121-30.
- Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, de Oliveira DC, De Martinis BS, Kapczinski F, Quevedo J, Roesler R, Schroder N, Nardi AE, Martin-Santos R, Hallak JE, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 May;36(6):1219-26.
- Das RK, Kamboj SK, Ramadas M, Yogan K, Gupta V, Redman E, Curran HV, Morgan CJ. Cannabidiol enhances consolidation of explicit fear extinction in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013 Apr;226(4):781-92.
- Carlini EA, Cunha JM. Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981 Aug-Sep;21(S1):417S-27S.
- Zuardi AW, Crippa JA, Hallak JE et al. Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in Parkinson's disease. J Psychopharmacol, 2009;23(8):979.83.
- Chagas MH, Eckeli AL, Zuardi AW, Pena-Pereira MA, Sobreira-Neto MA, Sobreira ET, Camilo MR, Bergamaschi MM, Schenck CH, Hallak JE, Tumas V, Crippa JA. Cannabidiol can improve complex sleep-related behaviours associated with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder in Parkinson's disease patients: a case series. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2014 Oct;39(5):564.6.
- Pesantez-Rios G, Armijos-Acurio L, Jimbo-Sotomayor R, Pascual-Pascual SI, Pesantez-Cuesta G. [Cannabidiol: its use in refractory epilepsies]. Rev Neurol. 2017 Aug 16;65(4):157.60. [Article in Spanish]
- 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 Oct;80(4):1029.35.
- Halonen JI, Zanobetti A, Sparrow D, Vokonas PS, Schwartz J. Associations between outdoor temperature and markers of inflammation: a cohort study. Environ Health. 2010 Jul 23;9:42.
- Suzuki K, Peake J, Nosaka K, et al. Changes in markers of muscle damage, inflammation and HSP70 after an Ironman Triathlon race. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Dec;98(6):525.34.
- Rowlands DS, Pearce E, Aboud A, et al. Oxidative stress, inflammation, and muscle soreness in an 894-km relay trail run. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 May;112(5):1839.48.
- Couch DG, Tasker C, Theophilidou E, Lund JN, O'Sullivan SE. Cannabidiol and palmitoylethanolamide are anti-inflammatory in the acutely inflamed human colon. Clin Sci (Lond). 2017 Oct 25;131(21):2611.26.
- Koay LC, Rigby RJ, Wright KL. Cannabinoid-induced autophagy regulates suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 in intestinal epithelium. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2014 Jul 15;307(2):G140.8.
- Kozela E, Juknat A, Kaushansky N, Rimmerman N, Ben-Nun A, Vogel Z. Cannabinoids decrease the th17 inflammatory autoimmune phenotype. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2013 Dec;8(5):1265.76.
- De Filippis D, Esposito G, Cirillo C, Cipriano M, De Winter BY, Scuderi C, Sarnelli G, Cuomo R, Steardo L, De Man JG, Iuvone T. Cannabidiol reduces intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis. PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28159.
- Booz GW. Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Sep 1;51(5):1054.61.
- Xiong W, Cui T, Cheng K, Yang F, Chen SR, Willenbring D, Guan Y, Pan HL, Ren K, Xu Y, Zhang L. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors. J Exp Med. 2012 Jun 4;209(6):1121.34.
- Jadoon KA, Ratcliffe SH, Barrett DA, Thomas EL, Stott C, Bell JD, O'Sullivan SE, Tan GD. Efficacy and Safety of Cannabidiol and Tetrahydrocannabivarin on Glycemic and Lipid Parameters in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel Group Pilot Study. Diabetes Care. 2016 Oct;39(10):1777.86.
- Cunetti L, Manzo L, Peyraube R, Arnaiz J, Curi L, Orihuela S. Chronic Pain Treatment With Cannabidiol in Kidney Transplant Patients in Uruguay. Transplant Proc. 2018 Mar;50(2):461.4.
- Corroon J, Phillips JA. A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2018 Jul 1;3(1):152.61.
A Powerful New Tool !
One-third of Americans suffer from pain—needlessly. This is compounded by 15,000 overdose deaths a year from prescribed narcotics, and 30,000 – 50,000 avoidable US deaths per year from arthritis medications (like ibuprofen). Meanwhile, having fought a failed and very poorly handled war on pain, the government has now declared a War on People in Pain. This is horrible and abusive, adds social stigma to people’s suffering, and causes much more toxicity than benefit. Attacking people in pain, and denying them the treatment they need, is inexcusable!
Fortunately, we have a powerful new natural tool for pain relief. And you don’t have to wait for your physician to catch up to the research.
Although I hesitate to jump into this political quagmire, we have had such incredible feedback from people getting relief from CBD oil and marijuana, that I am feeling the need to add my opinion.
The bottom line? These are powerful and very helpful tools. Fortunately, with hemp oil now being available, you don’t have to get high, or take the risk of getting arrested, to use them! Let me state this simply and clearly. Pain Is More Toxic Than the Pain Medications. Yet many are given a “Sophie’s Choice:”
A. Be in pain or
B. Be dead from the pain medication
This is a stupid choice to give people. And all too many doctors only give option one.
Choose “Door # 3” instead.
Treat The Root Causes Of Pain
Although it feels like it, pain is not the enemy. Rather, it is like the oil light on your body’s dashboard telling you that something needs attention. Instead of the medical approach to put a Band-Aid over the oil light, or cut it out, there is another choice. Simply put oil in the car. Just like the oil light goes out by putting oil in the car, when you give your body what is asking for, the pain often goes away.
Treating Pains Root Causes—The Fibromyalgia Model
In our study using the SHINE Protocol, 91 percent improved with an average 90 percent increase in quality of life. This protocol gives your body what it needs.
Fibromyalgia is a good model as it includes most kinds of pain.
Key Biochemical Components Of Pain
A. Inadequate energy in muscles and nerves
C. Nerve pain from other causes
D. Central sensitization or “Brain Pain”
E. Neurotransmitters — e.g., NMDA
All of these can be successfully addressed—naturally—using cannabinoids such as hemp oil and CBD.
Contributing Pain Comorbidities
B. Anxiety and depression
C. Adrenal fatigue
D. Low testosterone
Hemp Oil, A New Addition To My Favorite Herbal Pain Tools Toolkit
Marijuana and hemp oil both contain a number of active components. These include:
1. THC (not in the hemp oil, just in marijuana) This is the most talked about component in marijuana. It is what causes the psychoactive high.
It can be helpful, but comes with significant side effects, for example:
1. Poor functioning
North American forms of marijuana are also low in CBD. Despite the above, it is still safer than arthritis medications and narcotics.
Following (Number 4) are excerpts from a number of studies and reviews on the benefits of hemp oil. The science speaks for itself:
2. Other Important Cannabinoids
A. CBD has been the most actively researched
B. Other components of the herb, as usual, significantly add to the synergy
A. Anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotection effects
B. Reduces joint swelling—even helpful in rheumatoid arthritis
C. Studies show no tolerance (i.e.—it maintains its effectiveness over time)
D. Shown to decrease “aversive conditioned memory” (Fear and suffering)
E. CBD potently reduces anxiety or fear
4. CBD And THC (study excerpts)
A. “Cannabis use improved symptoms such as spasticity, pain, tremor, and depression in more than 90 percent of patients. In eight different clinical studies, MS patients have also reported the benefits of THC.”
B. “Arevalo-Martin et al. demonstrated that cannabinoid agonists...inhibited the activation of microglial cells.” Translation? It helps central sensitization or brain pain from chronic pain. This is a powerful benefit.
C. CBD, in animal studies, show “anti-inflammatory properties...In rheumatoid arthritis.”
D. A mix of THC and CBD (about 2 ½ mg of each per dose), “was approved in Canada in 2005 for treatment of central neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis, and in 2007 for intractable cancer pain. Numerous randomized clinical trials have demonstrated safety and efficacy for...central and peripheral neuropathic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer pain.”
E. “Active in nociceptive spinal areas including mechanisms of wind-up and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. It was recently demonstrated that cannabinoid agonists suppress...allodynia. [This helps] neuropathic pain...migraine and fibromyalgia via NMDA mechanisms...[producing a] 30–40 percent reduction in NMDA responses.”THC And Opiates
A. “THC has been shown to stimulate beta-endorphin production...[and] may allow opiate sparing.” This means it makes opiates more effective at lower dose and may reverse tolerance.
B. A recent JAMA study showed a 15.6 percent drop in opioid deaths in medical marijuana states after marijuana was legalized, after decades of opioid overdose deaths accelerating.
Cannabinoids And Inflammation
“THC has twenty times the anti-inflammatory potency of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone, but in contrast to all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), demonstrates no cyclo-oxygenase (COX) inhibition at physiological concentrations.”
Other Important Cannabinoids
A. Cannabichromene (CBC) is the third most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis, and is also anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
B.“Cannabigerol (CBG) exhibits GABA uptake inhibition to a greater extent than THC or CBD, suggesting possible utilization as a muscle relaxant in spasticity. Furthermore, CBG has more potent analgesic...activity than THC.”
C. Hemp terpenoids are also important.
- “Myrcene is analgesic, and such activity, in contrast to cannabinoids, is blocked by naloxone, suggesting an opioidlike mechanism. It also blocks inflammation via PGE-2.”
- “The cannabis sesquiterpenoid â-caryophyllene is anti-inflammatory...but simultaneously acts as a gastric cytoprotective.”
- “α-Pinene also inhibits PGE-1, while linalool displays local anesthetic effects.”
D. “Flavonoids in whole...extracts may also contribute useful activity. Apigenin inhibits TNF-á, a mechanism germane to multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Cannflavin A... inhibits PGE-2 thirty times more potently than aspirin.”
E. “Finally, β-sitosterol, a phytosterol found in cannabis, reduced topical inflammation 65 percent and chronic edema 41 percent in skin models.”
The Benefits Of Whole Hemp Oil
Using the synergy that comes from the multiple components of hemp oil helps all of the components of pain.
Instead of side effects from medications, it offers “Side Benefits.” These include:
C. Decreases nausea
D. Decreases depression
E. Anticancer—studies show the components of hemp oil tell cancer cells to self-destruct
Another Key Side Benefits Of Hemp Oil—Sleep
“Highly statistically significant improvements have been observed in sleep parameters in virtually all RCTs performed with [hemp oil components]¡Kin chronic pain conditions leading to reduced 'symptomatic insomnia' due to symptom reduction rather than sedative effects."
Sleep is critical for pain relief, triggering growth hormone release and tissue healing.
Cannabinoids are also suggested to decrease sleep apnea.
The components of Hemp Oil have been shown to help almost all of the components and types of pain, including:
A. Muscle tightness
B. Nerve pain
D. Neurotransmitters including NMDA, GABA, and serotonin
E. Central sensitization
G. Cancer pain
Works in a wide range of dosing. Doses of even 1500 mg a day for epilepsy in children have been shown to be safe. For pain, I recommend 10¡V25 milligrams of CBD up to three times a day, with up to 50 mg at bedtime.
It can be combined with other pain medications, and the dose adjusted as works best for you.
Getting The Right Type Of Hemp Oil
This is important. Without experience, it is hard to tell how much of the active components are present in many products. Many of them have labels, which are dramatically misrepresented. For example, it may say CBD in bold type on the label, say 100 mg, and have less than 3 mg per dose.
A good form comes from Concentrated European Hemp (Cannabis sativa) Stalk and Seed Oil. These can be found in 50 mg capsules containing 20 percent CBD (i.e.—10 mg of CBD per capsule). The one that I recommend is called Hemp Oil by Terry Naturally. The optimal dose is three tablets three times a day, though lower doses can also often be quite effective. The nighttime dose can be increased to five counts for sleep as well.
Ignore The politics And Go With The Science. You Can Get Pain-Free—NOW
A few review articles and study references:
- Safety https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/
- CBD for anxiety https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/3
- Inflammation and cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2828614/4
- Cannabinoids and pain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/and5
In the natural products industry, glucosamine and chondroitin are probably the most popular dietary supplement for the treatment of osteoarthritis. The emphasis here should be on osteoarthritis (OA), since there is no data indicating that these dietary supplements will be of benefit in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There are, however, dietary supplements which can be effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Before discussing these supplements, let’s first take a closer look at RA. Arthritis is characterized by an inflammation and/or pain in a joint or joints of the body. Symptoms of chronic arthritis are pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity of one or more joints.
The American College of Rheumatology reports that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in the joints and inflammation in other body organs. Unlike OA, RA is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own joint tissue. While the cause of RA remains unknown, recent studies show that certain people inherit a tendency to develop RA. RA affects about two million Americans.
In the case of RA, supplementation with certain natural ingredients may help the situation—often significantly. Following is a discussion of these natural ingredients.
Undenatured Collagen Type II
UC-II™ is a proprietary brand of undenatured type II collagen derived from chicken sternum cartilage and is particularly valuable for RA sufferers. Here’s why: Type II collagen administered orally works with the immune system to promote healthy joints by a process called oral tolerization. This process helps the body to differentiate between foreign invaders, such as bacteria, and elements that are good for the body, such as nutrients. The process of oral tolerization takes place in the small intestine where food is absorbed. Through a complex series of immunological events, patches of lymphoid tissue surrounding the small intestine screen incoming compounds and serve as a “switch” to turn the body’s immune response to foreign substances on or off, depending upon what that substance is. In the case of UCII, small amounts (typically 10 milligrams or less1 ) taken orally at bedtime have been shown to turn off the immune response targeted at the type II collagen present in bone joint cartilage.2,3
UC-II is supported by six human clinical studies, including research at Harvard University Medical School. Here is a review of three of those studies.
- In a 90-day, double-blind, placebo-controlled, follow-up study on patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis, Harvard scientists found that 28 patients taking undenatured type II collagen showed significant improvement compared to the placebo group, while four patients recovered completely.4
- In another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Harvard Medical School researchers showed that following treatment with undenatured type II collagen, 21 of 54 rheumatoid arthritis patients (39 percent) demonstrated significant improvement, while only 11 of 57 patients (19 percent) taking a placebo showed improvement.5
- A human clinical study at Harvard Medical School showed that after three months of treatment with undenatured type II collagen, eight out of 10 patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis had a reduction in both swollen and tender joints. The average changes a 61 percent and 54 percent respective reduction in swollen and tender joint counts for the eight responders at the end of the study. Six patients had greater than a 33 percent reduction in both swelling and tender joint counts.6
Since UC-II is taken at bedtime, we also recommend the use of two herbs to be taken concurrently. These herbs not only help promote healthy sleep, but may also help reduce RA-associated pain.
Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian root extracts have been used for over 1,000 years for extract to relieve muscle spasms, as a mild sedative, treatment for insomnia, hysteria, nervous tension, fatigue, and menstrual cramps. Research data indicates a rational scientific basis for mild sedative qualities, and spasmolytic activity. Additional studies show mild painrelieving qualities.7 It is also used orally for muscle and joint pain8, as well as to treat neuralgia.9
California poppy (Eschscholtzia californica)
California poppy has been used historically to treat insomnia, the need for sedation, aches and pains, nervous conditions, childhood enuresis, and bladder disorders.10 Its sedating effects are in themselves potentially valuable for pain relief, since tension can exacerbate pain. This sedating effect was demonstrated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study where a preparation containing fixed quantities of Hawthorn, California Poppy and magnesium proved safe and more effective than placebo in treating mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders.11 In one study, extracts of corydalis and California poppy inhibited a particular degradation process (dimerization) of certain pain-modulating peptides in the brain. This effect is thought to prolong the activity of these pain-relieving molecules.12
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
In a previous issue of HSR, we wrote an article about omega 3 fatty acids (O3FA). In that article we included a discussion of O3FA's value in the treatment of RA. Here is a brief review of that information.
Well-controlled clinical studies have clearly demonstrated that consumption of O3FA has resulted in an improvement in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers.13 As a matter of fact, a comprehensive review of medical literature by a board certified rheumatologist revealed that treatment with O3FA is associated with improvement in outcome measures in RA, and is able to help decrease the long-term requirements for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen) in some circumstances. Furthermore, an expert workshop reviewing a comprehensive review of medical literature by a board certified rheumatologist revealed that treatment with O3FA is associated with improvement in outcome measures in RA, and is able to help decrease the long-term requirements for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen) in some circumstances.14 Furthermore, an expert workshop reviewing the health effects of O3FA also concluded that these natural substances where able to help alleviate the symptoms of RA.15 It should be noted that these O3FA-related benefits were not limited to adult RA sufferers. A study conducted in the Czech Republic found that children with chronic juvenile arthritis were able to decrease their ibuprofen consumption by 17.3 percent over a period of five months when treated with a high-O3FA diet.16 Assuming that the O3FA product provides something in the 375 mg EPA and 250 mg DHA range, with 625 mg of total omega 3 fatty acids, an effective dose would be 1-2 capsules daily.
UC-II. may help reduce pain and promote healthy joints in those suffering from RA. Likewise, O3FA may help lessen RA symptoms. Finally, Valerian and California poppy may help promote sleep and pain relief for arthritis sufferers. The concurrent use of all of these natural substances may yield a better result than any one individually.
- Sieper J, Kary S, Sorensen H, Alten R, Eggens U, Huge W, Hiepe F, Kuhne A, Listing J, Ulbrich N, Braun J, Zink A, Mitchison NA. Oral Type II Collagen Treatment in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis. A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Trial. Arthritis and Rheumatism 1996; 39:41-51.
- UCII™ FAQ, 2004 InterHealth Nutraceuticals, Inc. Accessed October 14, 2004.
- Bagchi D, Misner B, Bagchi M, Kothari SC, Downs BW, Fafard RD, Pruess HG. Effects of Orally Administered Undenatured Type II Collagen Against Arthritic Inflammatory Diseases: A Mechanistic Exploration. International Journal References of Clinical Pharmacology Research 2002; 22:101–10.
- Trentham DE, Dynesius-Trentham RA, Orav EJ, Combitchi-D, Lorenzo C, Sewell KL, Hafler DA, Weiner HL. Effects of Oral Administration of Type II Collagen on Rheumatoid Arthritis. Science 1993; 261:1727–30.
- Barnett ML, Kremer JM, St Clair EW, Clegg DO, Furst D, Weisman M, Fletcher MJF, Chasan-Taber S, Finger E, Morales A, Le-CH, Trentham DE. Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis with Oral Type II Collagen. Results of a Multicenter, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Arthritis and Rheumatism 1998; 41:290–7.
- Barnett ML Combitchi D, Trentham DE. A Pilot Trial of Oral Type II Collagen in the Treatment of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis and Rheumatism 1996; 39:623–8.
- Foster S. Valerian. 1996 American Botanical Council. Accessed October15, 20004 from http://www.herbalgram.org/default.asp?c=valerian.
- Valerian monograph. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database 2004. Accessed on October 15, 2004
- Mills S, Bone K. Principles and practice of phytotherapy. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2000:581-9.
- Barker JE, Meletis CD. Naturopathic pain management. Alternative and Complementary Therapies 2004; 10(4):188–93.
- Hanus M.; Lafon J.; Mathieu M. Double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a fixed combination containing two plant extracts (Crataegus oxyacantha and Eschscholtzia californica) and magnesium in mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders. Current Medical Research and Opinion 2004; 20(1):63–71.
- Reimeier C, Schneider I, Schneider W, Schafer HL, Elstner EF. Effects of ethanolic extracts from Eschscholtzia californica and Corydalis cava on dimerization and oxidation of enkephalins. Arzneimittelforschung 1995;45:132–6.
- Alexander JW. Nutrition. 1998;14(7-8):627–33.
- Ariza-Ariza R, Mestanza-Peralta M, Cardiel MH, Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1998;27(6):366-70.
- de Deckere EA, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1998;52(10):749–53.
- Vargova V, et al. Cas Lek Cesk. 1998;137(21):651–3.
There is a new natural medicine on the scene that is creating quite a buzz. It is called Hemp Extract. It is a phenomenal gift from Nature made from the hemp plant. Thousands of clinical studies have proven that Hemp Extract can be used to safely address many health issues.
Hemp Extract is effective for conditions as diverse as pain, inflammation, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and infections from multi-drug resistant bacteria, oxidative stress, hormonal imbalance, and loss of bone density, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and even addictive cravings. In fact, over 40 different health issues have shown to benefit from the use for Hemp Extract.
There are now, literally, hundreds of Hemp Extract products available in the marketplace. But the burning question is always, "How do I know which ones are really the best?"
Caveat Emptor—Buyer Beware!
Before you dive into the Hemp Extract world, it is important to become a savvy consumer. There are some important facts you need to know about the growing, processing and formulation of Hemp Extract products.
The following seven guidelines will help you to choose the best Hemp Extract formulations.
1. Where and how is the hemp grown?
Until recently, the hemp plant was sourced from Europe because it was illegal to grow hemp in the United States. But there are now new federal regulations allowing US farmers to grow agricultural hemp. Hemp is now becoming a popular crop, which is widely grown through the country.
Some hemp farms grow crops on soils that have been previously contaminated with pesticides and herbicide, or actively use such chemicals in their farming practices.
To avoid chemical contamination, you always want to choose products made with organically grown plants from verified organic farms. Be sure that the label clearly states that it is organic.
2. Which parts of the hemp plant are they using?
Labels can be very confusing, if not downright deceiving. This is especially true when it comes to Hemp Extract formulas.
Often products will include hemp seeds or hempseed oil as major ingredients. Hemp oil or Hempseed oil that is pressed from the seeds is considered a food source. They have many beneficial nutrients such essential fatty acids, fiber, protein, and vitamin E. But, since they are pressed from only the seeds, they do not have the therapeutic effects found in Hemp Extract.
Hemp seeds are cheap. For less than $8 you can buy a pound of hemp seeds. It is very misleading when the products described as "all natural" and "100% Hemp" are mostly ineffective hemp seed oil.
Hemp Extract comes from the leaves, the stalk, and the flower of the plant. Only the Hemp Extract has proven therapeutic effects. Therefore, you want to carefully read the ingredients label to make sure you are getting Hemp Extract, rather than hemp oil.
3. Are you getting an isolate or a full-spectrum CBD hemp extract?
For many years it was believed there was a greater therapeutic effect if specific components were isolated from the rest of the whole plant. However, this theory was debunked after being researched at the Lautenberg Center for General Tumor Immunology in Jerusalem in 2015.
Full spectrum hemp extract contains dozens of compounds that can be extracted from the hemp plant. As it turns out, full spectrum Hemp Extract has a faster and more powerful effect than the isolate version.
4. How is the hemp processed?
It's important to make sure you know the process used when buying Hemp Extract. The quality of the final product is directly related to the quality of the plant material and the quality of the extraction process.
The best extraction method is called supercritical CO2 extraction. It uses carbon dioxide under high pressure and extremely low temperatures to isolate, preserve, and maintain the purity of the medicinal oil. This process requires expensive equipment, but the end product is safe, potent and free of chlorophyll.
This process extracts the valuable oil without damaging its properties or introducing poisonous chemicals. The goal is to have a clean and potent version of the Hemp Extract. Other extraction methods either use toxic solvents or the process creates an end product that has a very unpleasant taste and, most importantly, is inefficiently absorbed. When choosing a Hemp Extract product, always check to be sure the CO2 extraction method was used.
5. Are you getting the highest potency hemp oil?
One of the key features of an effective Hemp Extract product is its bioavailability. That means, how much of the active ingredients actually get to the cell. Unfortunately, the majority of Hemp Extract products in the market only have 3–6 percent bioavailability.
Also, many Hemp Extract products dilute the hemp extract with high amounts of hemp seed oil or coconut oil. So while there is slight nutritional value to these oils, they certainly do not deliver the health benefits of a potent Hemp Extract formula. Also, check the milligrams of Hemp Extract that are found in each serving. The effectiveness of a Hemp Extract product is determined not just by the amount of Hemp Extract it contains but also the kind of delivery system used.
6. What is the most effective and absorbable delivery system for CBD hemp oil?
Bioavailability is the proportion of the active ingredients that are absorbed and utilized by the body. If adequate amounts of the active ingredients do not get absorbed into the bloodstream and then on to the receptor sites on the cells, there will be very little therapeutic effect.
No matter how beneficial a medicinal substance may be, if it is not bioavailable, it is useless. The higher the bioavailability, the more effective the product will be. Bioavailability of Hemp Extract products varies greatly depending on the type of delivery system, e.g. capsule, spray, vaporized, etc.
There is a big difference between merely ingesting a substance such as Hemp Extract and efficiently absorbing its active ingredients. When nutrients and beneficial plant phytochemicals enter the body, they have certain requirements before they can be readily absorbed and utilized by the cells. The digestive process can destroy as much as 90 percent of the bioactive nutrients in Hemp Extract. Hemp Extract formulas have their own particular challenge when it comes to efficient absorption.
Hemp oil, in its natural form, is dense, sticky oil. Getting any oil-based substance to pass through a cell wall is a challenge, as the absorption rate can be greatly reduced. This means that very little of the active ingredients can be absorbed by the cells. So, you may need to take a higher dose in order to benefit, or the formula may not be absorbed at all.
Liposomes are by far, the best delivery system for optimal absorption. Liposomes are tiny hollow spheres that have the ability to carry both water-soluble and fat-soluble compounds very efficiently through the body and into cell membranes. You can also think of them as very small, Nanosized packets that are the delivery system allowing for rapid absorption of nutrients into the cell.
Liposomes protect the nutrients as they pass through the stomach and are delivered into the small intestine. Liposomes are effective because they are able to increase nutrient solubility and improve nutrient bioavailability, and they are also very stable within the body.
At present, liposomes are the most bioavailable way to deliver nutrients into the cells.
The reason liposomes are so effective is that they can be absorbed very quickly through a cell wall, either orally or topically. They enhance the effectiveness of Hemp Extract due to this super-efficient delivery method. By attaching to hemp oil molecules and transporting them to their destination, liposomes are a perfect delivery solution for achieving rapid results. Liposomal technology allows the Hemp Extract to be absorbed 15 times more efficiently than the capsule or liquid oil delivery methods.
7. Is the CBD hemp oil free of THC and contaminants?
Hemp extract manufacturers are not required by law to have their products tested by independent third-party labs. However, the reputable manufacturers pay for this testing at multiple stages of processing.
As a consumer, you may be most interested in two test results. One, the test for contaminants and other is the test for THC, the psychoactive molecule sometimes present in Hemp Extracts. Check on the manufacturer's website for the certificate of analysis.
It is important to know that a Hemp Extract product must have less than .3 percent of THC in order to be legally sold as Hemp Extract. Many Hemp Extract products are formulated with no THC present, at all.
On a Personal Note
The growing interest in Hemp Extract is well deserved. It is a healing plant that can alleviate so much suffering. It is also safe for children and even your pets. And considered safe with no known side effects.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am always searching for the very best products to recommend to my patients. For the past year, I have been researching all aspects of the Hemp Extract story. After sorting through the confusing world of Hemp Extract products, I found one exceptional company called OptiVida Health. After speaking with the formulator and investigating their manufacturing practices, I was convinced they were heads and shoulders about the rest.Why? For the following reasons:
- They use US certified organic hemp.
- They are third party certified for purity.
- They have a high potency product at an affordable price.
- Their products contain no THC (0%), the psychoactive molecule.
- They use super critical CO2 extraction.
- Their delivery system is a verified, liposomal technology that increases bioavailability.
It is the last point that I want to linger on a little longer. One of the key features of an effective Hemp Extract product is its bioavailability. That means, how much of the active ingredients actually get to the cell before being eliminated from the body. As previously mentioned, the majority of Hemp Extract products only have 3–6 percent bioavailable. That means that you don't absorb much of the active ingredients.
On the other hand, OptiVida Hemp products are formulated by Emek Blair, Ph.D., of Valimenta Labs, with an organic liposomal delivery system, which has a proven bioavailability of 15 times better absorption than all the other forms of delivery i.e., capsules, tinctures, vaping, etc. Increased bioavailability means that you not only get better results but also you need to take less.
Check out more at optividahealth.com
Join the Hemp Health Revolution
I trust that you are ready to join the Hemp Health Revolution. You now have the guidelines to ensure that you can find the very best products. Everyone, of all ages, can benefit from taking Hemp Extract, when needed. We truly live in an exciting time when the healing gifts of nature are so readily available to us.
This extraordinary plant has returned to help us on our path to optimal health and wellbeing.
L-lysine is an essential amino acid. That means that the body cannot make it and must instead get it from outside sources: namely dietary intake of protein foods—although dietary supplements with L-lysine can also serve as a source. The best dietary sources of L-lysine are animal proteins, such as meats, poultry, and milk. Proteins from grains, such as wheat and corn, generally tend to be low in lysine.1 This article will address the clinical research that has been conducted on supplementation with L-lysine—with a focus on its anti-Herpes virus effects. But first, let's quickly review L-lysine's biological functions in our bodies.
The Biological Functions Of Lysine
L-lysine serves various important roles in human biology. One of these is its requirement for collagen synthesis.2,3 which in turn makes it important for connective tissues found in bone and skin, among other tissues. In addition, L-lysine is necessary for the synthesis of carnitine and the resultant conversion of fatty acids to energy, as well its playing roles in supporting healthy growth and development in children, and maintaining healthy immune function.4 In particular, L-lysine plays a critical role in the management of Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections, via its antagonistic relationship with L-arginine.
Lysine And Herpes Virus Infections
Lysine appears to have an antagonistic relationship with the amino acid arginine, which is required for the replication of HSV. Lysine competes with arginine for absorption in the intestine, reabsorption in the renal tubules, and transport across the plasma membrane into cells. in vitro, lysine inhibits the growth-promoting action of arginine on HSV. Increasing over all lysine intake or influencing the lysine-to-arginine ratio is the basis for lysine's potential benefit in managing an HSV outbreak,5,6 as demonstrated in various studies.
Lysine and herpes study 1
This study7 examined the efficacy of long-term preventive effect of lysine supplementation. Twenty-six volunteers with a history of frequently recurring HSV on their lips (HSV labialis), completed a 12-month double-blind crossover study. The frequency of Herpes recurrences ranged from four to sixteen per year (with many occurring twelve times in the past year). The participants included in the statistical analysis were randomly divided into two groups at the beginning of the study. Group A, consisting of fifteen members, began with lysine tablets. Group B, comprising eleven members, started with a placebo. The experimental group received daily oral supplements of 1,000 mg L-lysine. They were instructed to take two tablets every morning before breakfast. A crossover took place at sixmonths (where the L-lysine group switched to a placebo, and vice versa). At this time, a new 6-month supply of tablets was issued, and the participants were instructed to continue the daily regimen without interruption. At the end of the second 6-month period the study was terminated. Serum samples were analyzed at scheduled intervals.
Results showed that at the end of the first 6-month period, the frequency of lesions in those subjects given lysine did not differ significantly from the frequency in those given the placebo. Although this was surprising, it was even more surprising that the subjects who began taking lysine during the second 6-month test period reported significantly fewer lesions than those who had reverted to placebo (p < 0.05). In this group, the frequency of herpetic lesion episodes over a 6-month period was 1.18 times versus 4.05 compared to baseline. Similarly, during the second 6-month test period, when Group A was taken off the lysine supplementation, there was a significant increase in the frequency of lesions (p < 0.01). Conversely, patients in Group B, in which lysine was now added, reported a significant decrease in lesion recurrence (p < 0.01).
In light of the significant differences found between the groups at 12 months, a further examination of the data was conducted to determine if there was any correlation between a patient's serum levels of lysine and the number of lesion recurrences. Results for this sample population indicated that when a person's serum lysine concentration exceeded 165 nmol/ml, there was also a corresponding significant decrease in recurrent lesions (p < 0.05). The results obtained herein tended to corroborate previous in vitro data indicating that lysine is a herpes virus inhibitor. If, 1,000 mg of L-lysine is taken daily over a 6-months period, and if the blood levels exceed 165 nmol/ ml, the number of lesion recurrences is significantly reduced in most cases. When lysine supplements are discontinued, lesion frequency significantly increases again if serum levels fall below 165 nmol/ml. In conclusion, prophylactic lysine may be useful in managing selected cases of recurrent HSV labialis if serum lysine levels can be maintained at adequate concentrations.
Hence, this study explains why some reports indicate that oral L-lysine administration is effective in the treatment/ recurrence of herpes viral infections, while other reports have not found a benefit. Namely, it's not enough to consume a specific dose of lysine. Rather it is necessary that blood levels of lysine be made to exceed 165 nmol/ml in order to see clinical benefits. Consequently, for some individuals, 1,000 mg of lysine daily may provide the desired prophylactic effect, while others may require a higher dose such as 3,000 mg daily.
Lysine and herpes study 2
In this study, researchers also evaluated the preventive effect of L-lysine monohydrochloride 1000 mg daily on recurrent HSV labialis in 65 patients in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.8 After 12 weeks of lysine treatment the patients shifted to placebo treatment for a similar period. On the whole, lysine had no effect on the recurrence rate of herpes simplex. However, significantly more patients were recurrence-free during lysine than during placebo treatment (p = 0.05), suggesting that certain patients may benefit from prophylactic lysine administration.
Lysine And Herpes Study 3
In another double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial,9 subjects were given oral L-lysine monohydrochloride—this time with 3,000 mg—for the prevention and treatment of recurrent HSV infection. The treatment group was given L-lysine monohydrochloride tablets (1,000 mg L-lysine per dose) three times a day for six months. A total of 27 (six male and 21 female) subjects on L-lysine and 25 (6 male and 19 female) subjects on placebo completed the trial. The L-lysine treatment group had an average of 2.4 (p < 0.05) less HSV infections, symptoms were significantly (p < 0.05) diminished in severity and healing time was significantly reduced (p < 0.05). The researchers concluded that L-lysine appears to be an effective agent for reduction of occurrence, severity and healing time for recurrent HSV infection.
Lysine and herpes study 4
In a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study10 of forty-one patients, researchers found that oral ingestion of 1,248 mg a day of L-lysine monohydrochloride shows evidence of decreasing the recurrence rate of herpes simplex attacks in non-immunocompromised hosts. A dose of 624 mg a day was not effective. L-lysine may also be capable of decreasing the severity of symptoms associated with recurrences.
Lysine and herpes study 5
In a fifth clinical study,11 45 patients with frequently recurring herpes infection were given 312–1,200 mg of lysine daily in single or multiple doses. The clinical results demonstrated a beneficial effect from supplementary lysine in accelerating recovery from herpes simplex infection and suppressing recurrence. Tissue culture studies have demonstrated an enhancing effect on viral replication when the amino acid ratio of arginine to lysine favors arginine. The opposite, preponderance of lysine to arginine, suppresses viral replication and inhibits cytopathogenicity of herpes simplex virus.
Lysine and herpes study 6
To test the effect of lysine supplementation on herpes infection, 1543 subjects were surveyed12 by questionnaire after a sixmonth trial period. The study included subjects with cold sores, canker sores, and genital herpes. Of these, 54 percent had been diagnosed and treated by a physician. The results showed that the average dosage used was 936 mg of lysine daily. Eighty-four per cent of those surveyed said that lysine supplementation prevented recurrence or decreased the frequency of herpes infection. Whereas 79 percent described their symptoms as severe or intolerable without lysine, only 8 percent used these terms when taking lysine. Without lysine, 90 percent indicated that healing took six to 15 days, but with lysine 83 percent stated that lesions healed in five days or less. Overall, 88 percent considered supplemental lysine an effective form of treatment for herpes infection.
L-lysine, an essential amino acid, has important roles to play in human biology. With regard to human clinical research with supplemental L-lysine, perhaps the most significant contribution that this amino acid has made is in managing HSV outbreaks. Multiple studies have indicated that L-lysine supplementation is effective in reducing the frequency of HSV outbreaks and speeding up their healing time when an outbreak does occur. For most people with the HSV, supplementation with 1,000 mg/day is recommended for preventive purposes. Once an outbreak occurs, however, intake should be increased to 3,000 mg/day.
- L-Lysine monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2007;12(2):169–72.
- Flodin NW. The metabolic roles, pharmacology, and toxicology of lysine. J Am Coll Nutr 1997;16:7–12.
- Hall SL, Greendale GA. The relation of dietary vitamin C intake to bone mineral density: results from the PEPI study. Calcif Tissue Int 1998;63:183–9.
- L-lysine. Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Jun;12(2):169–2.
- Tankersley RW. Amino Acid Requirements of Herpes Simplex Virus in Human Cells. J Bacteriol. 1964;87(3):609–613
- Thein DJ, Hurt WC. Lysine as a prophylactic agent in the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex labialis. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol. 1984 Dec;58(6):659–66.
- Milman N, Scheibel J, Jessen O. Lysine prophylaxis in recurrent herpes simplex labialis: a double-blind, controlled crossover study. Acta Derm Venereol. 1980;60(1):85–7.
- Griffith RS, Walsh DE, Myrmel KH, Thompson RW, Behforooz A. Success of L-lysine therapy in frequently recurrent herpes simplex infection. Treatment and prophylaxis. Dermatologica. 1987;175(4):183–90.
- McCune MA, Perry HO, Muller SA, O'Fallon WM. Treatment of recurrent herpes simplex infections with Llysine monohydrochloride. Cutis. 1984 Oct;34(4):366–73.
- Griffith RS, Norins AL, Kagan C. A multicentered study of lysine therapy in Herpes simplex infection. Dermatologica. 1978;156(5):257–67.
- Walsh DE, Griffith RS, Behforooz A. Subjective response to lysine in the therapy of herpes simplex. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1983 Nov;12(5):489–96.
Drug-resistant germs have become a very serious threat to our health in the past few years due primarily to the overuse of antibiotics and the ability of some germs to develop a resistance to these drugs. For people infected by these germs there is a 50% mortality rate, and as more germs become resistant this problem could become much worse. Pharmaceutical companies are working night and day to develop new drugs that can work against these germs and so far, these efforts have failed. It is both ironic, and fortunate, that Mother Nature has provided some proven solutions to this problem, and the doctors who practice natural or functional medicine are using plant-based natural antibiotics to combat these germs that can resist the manmade antibiotics.
Here is a partial list of the drug-resistant germs and the natural solutions that can be effectively used against them.Note: Also, consider oregano oil, olive leaf extract, colloidal silver and serrapeptase enzymes.
Unfortunately, a vast majority of conventional doctors are not trained in herbal or natural medicine and are not able to help their patients with these scientifically proven natural remedies. If your doctor falls into this category perhaps it would be a good idea to find a doctor who practices natural or functional medicine so you can avoid becoming a victim of one of these drug-resistant germs. Consider the following action plan to protect yourself and those you love and care about.
- Use the list above and add to it from a search on the internet of all drug resistant germs.
- Download and make a copy of an article in Green Med Info entitled "CDC's Nightmare, Bacteria Reveals Need for Natural Medicine". March 7. 2013. All of the scientific references for this topic are included in this article.
- Try to identify a doctor who practices natural or functional medicine in your community. Go to Academy of Integrated Health & Medicine web site to help find this kind of doctor.
- Ask your doctor how he or she would treat these drug resistant germs. If you do not feel like you get the answer you like, consider contacting a more natural doctor near to you.
With a mortality rate of 50% this is a very serious topic and making a plan for how you will protect your family should not be taken lightly. Just this week my daughter-in-law emailed me that my grandson had an ear infection in both ears. The antibiotics were not working very well so I informed her about the use of colloidal silver drops in the ears. He was much better the next day. Thank you, natural medicine.
For those of you who are not familiar with homeopathy, this form of natural medicine may be described as treating symptoms with minute quantities of natural substances that would normally bring on those same symptoms if taken in significantly larger quantities (similar in concept to the use of vaccines in conventional medicine). Homeopathy seeks to use the body's own natural self defense healing mechanisms. Critics of homeopathy often claim that there is so little of the natural medicines in the remedies, that any positive results seen must be the results of a "placebo effect." This criticism is unfounded, and the positive results of homeopathy have, in fact, been shown to function independently of the placebo effect.1
Samuel Hahnemann: The Father of Homeopathy
In 1790, a classically trained German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, became disenchanted with the accepted medical practices of his day. Popular practices of that time included bloodletting, blistering, vomiting, sweating, purging, and other primitive ways of draining the body of bad fluids and poisons. Hahnemann, besides being a physician, was also a chemist and an author of a book used widely by pharmacists of his day. He was very familiar with a broad range of medicines and methods of preparation. Being an avid experimenter, he spent the next six years testing some common remedies, using himself, his wife, and eleven children as subjects. This testing methodology was to become known as "provings." That is, dosing healthy individuals and studying their reactions.
One of the first medicines Hahnemann investigated was cinchona, a natural source of quinine, used even today to treat malaria. After a personal accidental ingestion, Hahnemann noticed that the drug caused him intermittent fever, a classic symptom of the disease it was intended to treat. After further study, he found that cinchona in significant doses, taken when well, produced fever, chills, thirst, and a throbbing headache, the symptoms of malaria. From this he speculated that a substance that triggered symptoms of a disease in a healthy individual might alleviate those same symptoms in an ill person. And thus was born "The Law of Similars," the theory of "like cures like."
The Law of Similars
"The Law of Similars" simply stated is a therapeutic method based on the principle that illness can be successfully treated by giving infinitesimal doses of substances, which, if given to healthy individuals in larger amounts, will cause symptoms similar to those of the illness being treated. This is the very same operating principle of modern medicine's vaccines and allergy desensitization therapies, namely stimulating the body's own natural self defense healing mechanisms.
Simple examples of like curing like might include Apis mellifica (honey bee), which causes pinkish red swelling with an itching and burning sensation in healthy people. In infinitesimal doses, the same venom is used to treat these same symptoms. Other examples include Belladonna, used to treat scarlet fever, when poisoning with this substance causes a flushed face, dilated pupils, high fever and dry mouth. Likewise, Allium cepa, a preparation from red onion, causes watery eyes (as anyone who has ever cut onions knows). But this substance in a minute dose is used to treat colds and allergies characterized by watery eyes. Rhus toxicodendron (poison ivy) is used to treat, among other things, symptoms of poison ivy.
Hahnemann used infinitesimal doses to spare his patients the side effects of the original substances. He found he could preserve the healing properties of his medicines while eliminating the potential untoward effects through a pharmaceutical procedure he called "potentization." This exact process differs as to whether the active ingredients are soluble, like in the case of plant material, or insoluble, as in the case of mineral material. However, in either case potentization is a "serial dilution" plus agitation. Here's how it works:
In the case of plant material, a homeopathic medicine begins with a "mother tincture." If the manufacturing company follows the German Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia, the oldest (still used) and most respected in the world, the process will begin by harvesting a fresh plant. This plant will be processed by chopping, then maceration, a technique involving soaking in alcohol and water to extract the active components, and filtration. The end result is a highly concentrated mixture termed a "mother tincture," which has a rich bio-energetic value.
This liquid is made more potent in a step-by-step process requiring the addition of alcohol so that the resulting product is 1/10 of the starting material. This is then succussed (shaken, agitated), producing a 1X potency. To make a 2X potency, one part of the 1X is added to nine parts of alcohol and again succussed, and so on for successive potencies. This method of dilution and molecular agitation is thought to increase the effective surface area of the healing substances, which in turn stimulates an increase in the self-healing power of the organism. Hence, less becomes more.
In the case of substances that are insoluble, like minerals and animal by-products, one part of the original substance is mixed with nine parts of an inert medium, usually lactose. This is then triturated (ground) and tabletized. The first trituration results in a 1X potency and each additional trituration consisting of one part of the previous potency and nine parts lactose produces the next potency (i.e., 2X, 3X, 4X, etc.).
How Does Homeopathy Work?
With such significant dilution, one might ask, "If there is so little of the original substance left after serial dilution, then how does the homeopathic remedy actually work?" The answer is that homeopathy does not require a concentration of some chemical in the original substance for its medicinal qualities. Rather, homeopathy seems to work on an energetic basis, much the same as certain other types of alternative medicine practices including acupuncture, Reiki and Johrei, Qi Gong, and Healing Touch.2
Another way of explaining homeopathy's energetic mechanism of action is resonance. In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate at maximum amplitude at certain frequencies. An example of resonance occurs in music is string instruments. Strings or parts of strings may resonate at their fundamental or overtone frequencies when other strings are sounded. For example, an A string at 440 Hz will cause an E string at 330 Hz to resonate, because they share an overtone of 1320 Hz (the third overtone of A and fourth overtone of E).3 Essentially, this resonance occurs due to similarity.
Homeopathy may work on a biological version of resonance.
Homeopathic guru Dana Ullman describes this concept thusly, "In homeopathy a medicine is chosen for its 'similarity' to the totality of the person's symptoms. When this similarity exists, a person has a hypersensitivity to the substance."4 Of course this theory of how homeopathy works may or may not be true. The bottom line is that there's just not enough scientific research at this point to definitively prove or disprove it. Despite the mechanism of action, however, there is proof that homeopathic remedies do actually work.
Proof Of Effectiveness
There are different levels of proof regarding homeopathy's effectiveness. This includes empirical evidence, modern clinical experience and double-blind studies.
Examples of empirical evidence of the use of homeopathic medicine include:5
- Animals—Clearly the placebo effect is not at work when a cow's mastitis is cured using homeopathic remedies. Many other such examples exist of the effectiveness of homeopathy in veterinary medicine.
- Infants—Parents often observe relatively immediate effects with homeopathic remedies with infants teething difficulties. Placebo effect? Doubtful.
- Epidemics—During the 1800s, homeopathic remedies were successful in the treatment of yellow and scarlet fever, cholera and typhoid. Placebo effect? Not likely.
With regard to clinical experience, an audit6 was conducted of 445 chronically ill patients treated with homeopathic remedies, who had previously experienced failure with conventional medical treatment. The results were that 304 patients (66.8 percent) derived benefit from homeopathic treatment, and 148 patients (32.5 percent) were able to stop or maintain a substantial reduction in their conventional drugs. The 10 most frequent clinical conditions treated were eczema, anxiety, depression, osteoarthritis, asthma, back pain, chronic cough, chronic fatigue, headaches and essential hypertension. Likewise, double-blind studies have even supported the effective use of homeopathic remedies. Just a few of the many possible examples include 7:
- Mustard Gas Burns—During World War II homeopathic remedies were able to produce significant improvement in subjects with mustard gas burns compared to placebo.
- Hay Fever—Subjects given a homeopathic preparation had six times fewer hay fever symptoms than those given a placebo.
- Rheumatoid arthritis—86 percent of subjects given homeopathic remedies experienced some relief of symptoms, compared to only 21 percent given a placebo.
- Neuralgic Pain—Following tooth extraction, 76 percent of patients given homeopathic remedies experienced relief of neuralgic pain, compared to 40 percent of those given a placebo.
- Asthma—Asthmatic patients receiving a homeopathic pollen remedy experienced a statistically significant improvement in symptoms, while those taking the placebo got worse on average.8
Homeopathy works. While the science of how it works may not yet be completely defined, the results of its application are undeniable. Furthermore, homeopathic remedies are safe and there is no risk of interactions with other drugs or dietary supplements.
As a doctor who practices integrative medicine, I focus on health care and not just disease care. I always attempt to understand the deeper underlying causes of any illness or condition and not simply treat superficial symptoms. So when it comes to looking at causes of disease I am working from the inside out rather than outside in.
This is such an important topic that I devoted an entire chapter to the "Causes of Disease" in my latest book Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine. In brief, I believe that cellular dysfunction is one of the main causes of body imbalance, inflammation, and dis-ease. The health of our cells is affected adversely by two primary factors— deficiency, by which I mean not enough intake and assimilation of the necessary (required) nutrients; and toxicity—contact with too many harmful man-made chemicals and chemical-containing products.
As for nutrients—we need an adequate supply of amino acids (from protein foods), fatty acids, some carbohydrates, plus vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (these are chemicals that plants produce and use to stay healthy—providing protection, for example, from insect attacks or radiation from UV rays). Any deficiency of these essential nutrients can diminish cellular function.
As for toxins—the external environment has a significant impact on our cell health—from the level of contaminants, chemicals and artificial additives in the foods we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe, and with a special concern for the products we use in our homes and gardens, or put on our bodies.
In fact personal care products are one of the most common yet overlooked sources of environmental toxicity.
The average adult uses nine personal care products a day, exposing themselves to as many as 126 different chemical ingredients. What makes things worse is that items like toothpaste, shampoo, lotion, makeup, or deodorant, are not held to the same standard as food or drugs, which we put in our bodies. Hair coloring is potentially one of the most toxic of all, linked to increased rates of breast cancer in a recent 2017 Rutgers University study.1 This is especially troubling given that an estimated 75 percent of U.S. women over age 18 color their hair. Obviously we need more research on the short and long-term health consequences of using these kinds of products. As consumers we need to be aware of the toxic potential of what we buy.In addition many cosmetics are now imported, with virtually no regulation or inspection. The FDA recently stated that while such shipments had doubled in the past decade, there were just six inspectors assigned to the more than 3,000,000 shipments which arrived last year from over 180 different countries and 29,000 foreign companies, few of which have registered with the agency, as they are not required to do so.
- The FDA physically inspected just 0.3 percent of such imports last year.
- Laboratory tests were conducted on an even smaller sample—just 364.
- 20 percent of those tests led to adverse findings; including bacterial contamination, illegal color additives, ingredients that were not on the label as required, and unsafe chemical substances like mercury that can cause kidney and nervous system damage.
Given that it is doing so few inspections, the FDA really has no way of knowing the scope of the problem with imported cosmetics, and neither do we. Clearly this is area where we all need to pay close attention to what we buy and what we use.
Pollutants in the Home and Office
Another area of similar concern is the widespread use of potentially toxic chemical products in our homes and gardens. Just to give you some idea of the scope of this problem, here's a list of the major indoor pollutant sources to watch out for. It is from my book Staying Healthy with Nutrition:
- Hydrocarbon fuel combustion—the burning of coal, gasoline, natural gas, wax candles
- Pesticide sprays—used on insects and rodents
- Cleaning fluids—cleansers, soap, bleach, detergents, ammonia, window cleaners
- Paints, adhesives glues, and solvents—used in housework and hobbies
- Plastics—used in many areas, but especially important to review drinking water, beverage and food storage containers
- Heating/Cooling systems—which can spread toxins, especially forced-air systems. This also includes your car.
- Smoke—(secondary or side-stream, smoke is now clearly a big problem), fireplace smoke or barbecue chemicals can also be hazardous
- Aerosol sprays—disinfectants, and cleaners—mostly propellants, which may be fluorocarbons or hydrocarbons, both of which are problematic
- Dust—which can carry sensitizing or toxic materials, including mites, molds, bacteria, pollens, carbon monoxide, asbestos, pesticides, solvents, sulfur dioxide, lead, smoke, and vinyl chloride
Obviously we need to know more about the short and long-term health implications of using these kinds of products both in our homes and on our bodies, and we need to be watchful consumers, especially when children are involved where any negative effects can be even more serious and long lasting. A great resource that I recommend is the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) www.ewg.org online database of potentially toxic household and cosmetic products, which also includes recommended non-toxic alternatives.
This is all part of living more naturally, using fewer chemicals on and in our bodies and in our surroundings overall; this is a conscientious reduction in the use of synthetically made and petro-chemically-based products, which have a negative and toxic downstream effect in both our local and global environments.
This shift to a more natural lifestyle is growing across our nation and the globe, and is based largely on the same principles as those of NEW Medicine: taking personal responsibility for our health and for the planet, and recognizing the incredibly complex interactions between the decisions we make, the products we use, and their affect upon our entire environment and ecosystem, including our own and our family's health.
Essential Nutrients For Avoiding Cellular Deficiency
Proteins and amino acids, carbohydrates, fats and essential oils
Vitamins: A, C, D, E, K, B1, B6, B3, B12, CoQ10, Lipoic acid (Most must come from our diet, and a few the body makes, like coQ10 and lipoic acid.)
Minerals: all must come from our diet and include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, selenium, iodine, traces of boron and others.
In addition the soil must contain these minerals for them to be in our food, and much soil is now seriously depleted.
Phytonutrients: hundreds of plant substances, such as flavonoids and carotenoids, which give our fruits, vegetables, herbs and basically all foods their color, aroma, and add to their flavor. These have many physiological and protective functions for our body.
Antioxidants: these nutrients protect us from "free radicals," the unstable molecules that can cause inflammation and damage; these nutrients include Vitamins A (and betacarotene), C, D, and E plus some B vitamins; minerals zinc and selenium, with protective activity also from iron and magnesium; coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid; and amino acid L-cysteine, which helps support glutathione.
Used in Eastern folk medicine for centuries, the health-giving properties of the Chaga mushroom are gaining more attention in the West. As a medicinal mushroom, emerging research has found that Chaga packs quite a punch, and demand for this antioxidant powerhouse has increased over recent years.
Chaga mushrooms grow in cool areas in the Northern Hemisphere, including Europe, Russia, Korea and North America. It typically grows on birch trees and can vary in size from five to twenty inches. The shape of Chaga can vary and it grows on different parts of the outside of 'host' trees. It has a hard, cracked exterior similar in appearance to charcoal, and a softer brown-golden yellow interior.
Medicine through the ages
Chaga mushroom has been referred to by a number of different names including, "The king of medicinal mushrooms," "A gift from God" and "The mushroom of immortality." Historically, it has been widely used in Eastern folk medicine to treat many diseases. These range from ailments of the stomach, lungs and kidneys to skin diseases. It has also been used as a general supplement for the vigor of the human body.
Today, Chaga mushroom has not been forgotten and is used as a health supplement in a number of different ways. Most commonly it is made into a tea, but you can also find it in the form of tinctures, powders, capsules and creams. The quality of the supplement depends on the quality of the raw materials, method of extraction, and the dosage.
Let's take a look at the little known benefits of Chaga mushroom from its antioxidant qualities, through to its potential for cancer therapy.
1. An antioxidant powerhouse
Antioxidants are widely known for their ability to help counter the potentially harmful effects of free radicals. Studies have shown that the Chaga mushroom has considerably higher levels of antioxidants when compared with other medicinal mushrooms and popular antioxidant juices.1
Melanin is the primary chemical substance that gives Chaga mushroom its superior antioxidant properties.2 Evidence of the protective antioxidant effects of this fungus was found in a study of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.3 The study also determined that oxidative stress in lymphocytes was reduced in healthy individuals (the control group). These findings highlight the potential of Chaga as a valuable supplement to reduce oxidative stress in general.
2. Potential for cancer prevention and treatment
Phyto-sterols contained in Chaga are linked to its anticancer properties.4 Two of the main phyto-sterols contained in Chaga are lanosterol (45 percent) and inotodial (25 percent). Laboratory and animal studies have highlighted the anti-cancer effects of both of these ingredients. Research on humans is still needed. In one study, Chaga fraction prepared from dried fruiting bodies was subjected to anticancer evaluation. The elicited anticancer effects from the study were attributed to decreased tumor cell proliferation, motility and morphological changes induction.5
Another study using human hepatoma cell lines shows Chaga mushroom as a promising therapeutic option for the treatment of hepatoma.6
3. A proven treatment for psoriasis
A continued regular intake of Chaga can lead to a full disappearance of psoriatic lesions without any extra treatment. One study noted that effective psoriasis treatment was evident after nine to twelve weeks over continuous treatment. Of the 50 patients with different forms of psoriasis that were treated, 38 were completely cured, a further eight showed improvements, and only four did not show improvement.7
The study found that psoriasis therapy with Chaga is especially successful in cases when psoriasis occurs in combination with chronic inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, liver and biliary system. There were no side effects observed during the Chaga treatments.
4. Immune system support
Studies support the immunomodulating properties of Chaga mushroom.8 This means that it can modify immune response or the functioning of the immune system by speeding it up when needed or slowing it down when necessary. This is largely as a result of beta glucans contained in the mushroom. These immune-boosting properties are powerful from a therapeutic point of view. They have seen Chaga used to support gastrointestinal health in Eastern cultures.
5. Treatment for viral infections
Studies have identified evidence of the antimicrobial action of Chaga mushroom. This is possibly due to the antiviral effect of lanosterol and/or the action of betulin and betulinic acid, all of which are components of the Chaga mushroom. Specifically, the benefits have been explored for cells infected by the herpes simplex virus.9,10
Safety and precautions
Chaga does not commonly produce side effects. However, caution should always be exercised, especially for those with medical conditions, or who are on any form of medication. Specifically, Chaga may affect blood-thinning and diabetic medications.11 Research is still emerging as are side effects and safety information. Most of the research has been completed in laboratory and animal studies. More studies on humans are required.
Where to find out more about Chaga Mushrooms
The Chaga 101 website offers a comprehensive guide to Chaga mushroom. It was created by a group of Chaga enthusiasts who wanted to separate truth from fiction and share their first hand experiences with Chaga. Here you can find more information on;
- Where to find Chaga in the wild, and how to identify it
- Harvesting with sustainability in mind
- Preparation, including tried and tested recipes for Chaga tea, coffee and tinctures
- Benefits, medicinal effects and side effects
- Assistance in selecting high quality Chaga. Learn about what to look for during the buying process
- Where to buy Chaga online
The content in this article is not medical advice. All information is generalized, presented for informational purposes only, and presented "as is" without warranty or guarantee of any kind. Readers are cautioned not to rely on this information as medical advice and to consult a qualified medical, dietary, or other appropriate professional for their specific needs. This information has not been evaluated by the FTC, FDA or any other government agency and is not intended to "diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."
Lack of energy is a constant theme in the lives of countless Americans. For many, tiredness is so routine that they accept it as a natural state. Family and work by themselves are exhausting; unexpected demands or a restless night can deplete the remaining energy reserves. What is to be done? The American answer is caffeine. Pick your flavor: coffee (then more coffee), energy drinks (which flavor and how tall?), sodas (nothing beats caffeine plus sugar!) and the list goes on. The idea is that, if the metabolism is flagging whip it harder or, better yet, throw in a quick burst of energy from a simple carbohydrate. Caffeinate, crash, repeat (perhaps several times throughout the day), then start over the next morning.
And start over we do. Ninety percent of all American adults ingest caffeine daily. It is the go-to stimulant of choice, so much so that for a while Wrigley was producing eight stick chewing gum packs each stick of which contained as much caffeine as half a cup of coffee. To be sure, it is not as if caffeine has no benefits. After all, people consume caffeine mostly to improve productivity and related outcomes, not for pleasure. But what if the lack of energy is really just the body's response to a lack of rest (sound sleep usually is an early casualty of too much caffeine) and to a failure to recover from demands placed on it day in and day out? Under such circumstances, the daily caffeine fix is always needed and creates the conditions of its own demand along with downsides. Fortunately, it is possible to get off this merry-go-round.
Researchers have often wondered why it is that tea, despite its caffeine content, tends to relax individuals without making them drowsy. Similarly, those engaging in meditation practices may drink tea to dispel mental sluggishness and yet not become mentally agitated, as is typical with the consumption of too much coffee. Black and green teas give somewhat different answers. Black tea, for instance, contains one or more compounds that open up the peripheral circulation and also reduce blood levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Likewise, blood platelet activation, which is linked to blood clotting and to the risk of heart attack, was lower in the tea drinkers in a clinical trial and this group reported a greater degree of relaxation in the recovery period after a stressful task.1 This is good news for the 65 percent of adult Americans who suffer from daily stress. L-Theanine, found in green and oolong teas, is more complicated. In one trial in which caffeine (250 milligrams) increased self-rated alertness along with jitteriness and blood pressure, theanine (200 milligrams) antagonized the effect of caffeine on blood pressure, but did not significantly affect jitteriness, alertness or other aspects of mood.2 At a lower level of caffeine consumption (150 milligram), theanine (250 milligrams) actually further improved the normal cognitive benefits of caffeine.3 Affects on stress per se also are found with theanine, with the degree of benefit depending on conditions and individuals.
Various tests have demonstrated the anti-stress effects of L-theanine. One of the more revealing of these experiments examined brain wave patterns after the ingestion of theanine. This research built on the knowledge that humans produce specific patterns of electrical pulses on the surface of the brain that mirror brain states. The four primary wave patterns are known as the alpha, beta, delta and theta (a, b, d and q) brain waves, representing, respectively, 1) relaxed wakefulness, 2) excitation, 3) sound sleep, and dozing sleep.4
In one experiment, 50 women volunteers (aged 18–22 years old) were divided into high-anxiety and low-anxiety groups. Each group was given either 50 or 200 mg theanine in water once a week. Their brain waves were measured during the 60 minutes after ingestion. The measurements were repeated twice during a two-month test period. The results were a marked increase in a-waves starting roughly 40 minutes after ingestion. Researchers concluded that theanine rapidly enters the system when ingested and that it heightens the index of the brain wave that is known to be linked to a state of relaxed wakefulness. Researchers also have explored whether the response to theanine might be influenced by the level of anxiety found in test subjects. As might be expected, the greater degree of change is found in those manifesting high anxiety.
Theanine appears to protect against certain so-called "excitotoxins." It modulates the motor-stimulation associated with caffeine and it inhibits some of the actions of norepinephrine in the central nervous system, for instance. In tests with gerbils, theanine protected against the destruction of neurons induced ischemia, a condition that can lead to a rapid increase in glutamate in neurons and result in the death of these cells. Theanine taken in the evening may support improved sleep quality not by sedation, but through anxiolysis.5 The other herbs mentioned below also tend to improve sleep quality at least in part through the same mechanism.
Saffron for Replacing Jitters with Emotional Balance
Although small amounts of caffeine, meaning usually less than 400 milligrams per day, for the vast preponderance of individuals provides mostly an upside with little downside, excessive caffeine can lead to anxiety, physical and emotional "jitters," as well as insomnia. For many, black, oolong and green teas are more gentle alternatives to the concentrated caffeine of coffee, yet coffee is a preferred beverage for many. Moreover, caffeine is added to so many other pick-me-ups that individuals often are unaware of how much they are consuming throughout the day. Several herbs and spices are useful remedies to this excess. Saffron is one of these.
Saffron is far more than merely a spice that gives color to rice and paella along with a distinctive aromatic signature. Crocins are the source of saffron's coloring properties, whereas its aromatic aspects come from picrocrocins and safranal. Medical texts from ancient Egypt, Persia and the Roman Empire attest to healing properties, including pain relief and calming effects. Similarly, Chinese and Indian healing systems ascribe these and more benefits to saffron. Other healing aspects include the treatment of coughs, better movement of nutrients into tissues and aphrodisiac qualities.
At least eleven clinical studies have evaluated saffron for its impact on aspects of emotional balance, such as anxiety and depression. In comparative clinical trials, saffron intake after one or two weeks has proven to be comparable in efficacy to the drugs fluoxetine and imipramine. The mechanism of action seems to be the regulation of neurotransmitters.6 Other conditions that have been explored clinically with saffron include erectile dysfunction, vision, Alzheimer's disease and cosmetic benefits. In general, it is thought that there is a complementary action from more than twenty-five active compounds in saffron to yield the demonstrated clinical effects. One special extract that has been extensively clinically tested gives benefits when ingested at the level of 30 milligrams per day.
Lemon Balm's Calming Effects, Sleep Benefits
Another useful traditional herb is lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.). Since the 19th Century, it has been recognized as being soothing during stress and anxiety. Lemon balm contains hydroxycinnamic and rosmarinic acids. Studies have shown that lemon balm consumption increases sleep quality, reduces stress and improves mood.7 Clinical trials have demonstrated the effects of lemon balm extract on cognitive health. Lemon balm improves cognitive performance by enhancing memory and accelerating the visual information processing.8,9 One high quality and tested extract is recommended at an intake level of 600 milligrams per day.
Blue Dogbane Is a Bane for Stress
Apocynum venetum L., commonly known as Luobuma in China, is a traditional and popular Chinese herb with a long history of use as a medicine and tea, both in Chinese and Uygur medicine. In fact, Apocynum venetum L. is mentioned in the ancient Dun Huang Manuscripts (written in the 5th to early 11th centuries A.D.) as a powerful longevity tonic. It especially is useful in cases of hypertension and anxiety.10 Among its other notable benefits is support for sleep. According to the official Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the herb calms the liver, soothes the nerves, treats palpitations and improves insomnia. As a tea in China, it is used especially for the elderly as a sleep aid and to reduce high blood pressure. Indeed, a commercial Luoboma "antihypertensive tea" is available commercially in the western province of China. Care should be taken to not confuse it with Indian Hemp (I), Apocynum androsaemifolium, poacynum pictum, I, or the blue dogbane native to Texas. Chinese White and Pink Dogbanes are inferior substitutes often presented as the same plant.
Anxiety afflicts more than forty million Americans, hence is hardly a minor issue. As already explored above, caffeine and "energy" drinks aggravate anxiety, jitteriness and blood pressure. The exact mechanisms of blue dogbane's action, which likely are multiple, only partially have been elucidated. For instance, the herb inhibits superoxide generated from both the NADPH oxidase and the xanthine/xanthine oxidase systems in the arteries. The upshot of these actions is that there is more nitric oxide (NO) available locally to relax the vessels.11 Rather than taking multiple grams of L-arginine to provide a building block precursor for the production NO, just a little bit of this herb prevents the excessive destruction of NO and achieves the same benefit. The vasculature dilation effects of the blue dogbane extract, including in the brain, can be considerable. The benefits for relaxation, cortisol and stress reduction are significant. Clinical work indicates that the extract induces deeper sleep, meaning that it makes sleep more restful.12
An interesting finding is that Apocynum venetum L. is a particularly rich source of isoquercitrin, the more active and much better absorbed form of the antioxidant quercetin. Some research suggests that Apocynum venetum L. is a safe alternative to St. John's Wort. Suggested consumption of the extract depends on its quality and the condition in mind; 50–150 milligrams represents typically suggested dosages.12
Most Westerners have heard of ginseng and think that the Chinese name applies to only one species. However, in fact there are various "ginsengs" in Chinese medicine, each displaying particular benefits. Gynostemma pentaphyllum is "southern ginseng"; it also is called jiaogulan. It is considered to have powerful antioxidant and adaptogenic effects purported to increase longevity.13 The plant belongs to a family that includes cucumbers, gourds, and melons—its fruit is a small purple inedible gourd. It is little known in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) because TCM is largely based on the dried materials that could be transported to the Imperial Court of the Chinese Emperors in Beijing. Research indicates significant effects of southern ginseng in the areas of blood glucose, improved insulin sensitivity, improved HbA1c (indicating improved glucose control in diabetics and reduced glycation) as well as other benefits.14
Although local Chinese traditions long have reported adaptogenic effects, the impact of jiaogulan on stress and related conditions only recently has been explored by Western allopathic research. Nevertheless, a body of animal trials currently backs traditional uses to support human resilience to physical and mental challenges. For instance, a 2012 paper reports that oral administration of the ethanol extract of Gynostemma pentaphyllum can increase host defense in immunocompromised situations such as stress-induced immunosuppression.15,16 A report from the next year indicates that there are anxiolytic effects of an herbal ethanol extract from Gynostemma pentaphyllum in mice after exposure to chronic stress.17 In yet another model of chronic stress and related anxiety disorders in mice, gypenosides, proposed active ingredients in the herb, improved stress-induced anxiety disorders by modulating brain dopamine and serotonin activities and corticosterone levels.18 (Corticosterone in mice plays the same role as cortisol in humans.) Finally, a recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial lasting 12 weeks demonstrated that an extract of Gynostemma pentaphyllum led to significant decreases in total abdominal fat area, body weight, body fat mass, percent body fat, and body mass index. (BMI).19 It is likely that more than one mechanism of action was important in bringing about these clinical results.
Do not forget magnesium! An estimated 68 percent of Americans do not consume the recommended daily allowance for magnesium. Some attribute this to modern dietary patterns, such as a failure to consume green vegetables and less refined grains. Others have observed that reduced magnesium levels can be attributed to food refining, processing and the use of industrial fertilizers, which typically lack magnesium. Magnesium deficiency has been associated with poor sleep quality, muscle tension and anxiety. Raising tissue levels with oral supplementation of magnesium may promote more restful sleep and relaxation. Preferred forms include magnesium glycerophosphate, magnesium malate and magnesium threonate. Each of these forms exhibits special characteristics based on its ligand. Better results with magnesium supplementation are realized with chronic usage to build up tissue stores.
Too often, the demand for more energy really is just a symptom of inadequate rest and poor quality sleep. The majority of adults is chronically stressed and sleep deprived. Good sleep affects alertness, energy, creativity, indeed, mental and physical performance and productivity in general. The common solution to being tired and under-performing is to consume caffeine in the form of coffee and energy drinks. There are alternatives, however, to the "caffeinate, crash, repeat" model of daily existence. Some of these alternatives support the positive effects of caffeine while mitigating the side effects. Others moderate jitteriness and "wired" effects of stimulants by reducing the stress hormone release found with too much stimulation. A common benefit of this approach is to improve the ability to sleep without forcing slumber and to make the time spent sleeping more restful.
- Steptoe A, Gibson EL, Vuononvirta R, Williams ED, Hamer M, Rycroft JA, Erusalimsky JD, Wardle J. The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: a randomised double-blind trial. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2007 Jan;190(1):81-9. Epub 2006 Sep 30. Erratum in: Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2007 Jan;190(1):91.
- Rogers PJ, Smith JE, Heatherley SV, Pleydell-Pearce CW. Time for tea: mood, blood pressure and cognitive performance effects of caffeine and theanine administered alone and together. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2008 Jan;195(4):569-77.
- Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Milne AL, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol. 2008 Feb;77(2):113-22.
- Juneja LR, Chu D-C, Okubo T, Nagato Y, Yokogoshi H. L-Theanine––a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans. Trends in Food Science & Technology 1999;10:199-204.
- Rao TP, Ozeki M, Juneja LR. In Search of a Safe Natural Sleep Aid. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(5):436-47.
- Cases J, Ibarra A, Feuillere N, Roller M, Sukkar S. Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Mediterranean journal of nutrition and metabolism. 2011; 4(3): 211-8.1.
- Scholey A, Gibbs A, Neale C, et al. Investigation of a Melissa officinalis special extract on Cognition II: Human study - Lemon balm extract administered in confectionary bars. Agro FOOD Industry Hi Tech 2015; 26(2): 12-4.
- Kennedy D, Wake G, Savelev S, et al. Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of single doses of Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding properties. Neuropsychopharmacology 2003; 28(10): 1871-81.
- Xie W, Zhang X, Wang T, Hu J. Botany, traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Apocynum venetum L. (Luobuma): A review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 May 7;141(1):1-8.
- Lau YS, Ling WC, Murugan D, Kwan CY, Mustafa MR. Endothelium-Dependent Relaxation Effect of Apocynum venetum Leaf Extract via Src/PI3K/Akt Signalling Pathway. Nutrients. 2015 Jun 30;7(7):5239-53.
- Yamatsu A, Yamashita Y, Maru I, Yang J, Tatsuzaki J, Kim M. The Improvement of Sleep by Oral Intake of GABA and Apocynum venetum Leaf Extract. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2015;61(2):182-7.
- Blumert, Michael; Jialiu Liu. Jiaogulan: China's "Immortality" Herb. (2003: Badger, CA: Torchlight Publishing.)
- Im SA, Choi HS, Choi SO, Kim KH, Lee S, Hwang BY, Lee MK, Lee CK. Restoration of electric footshock-induced immunosuppression in mice by Gynostemma pentaphyllum components. Molecules. 2012 Jun 25;17(7):7695-708.
- Shang X, Chao Y, Zhang Y, Lu C, Xu C, Niu W. Immunomodulatory and Antioxidant Effects of Polysaccharides from Gynostemma pentaphyllum Makino in Immunosuppressed Mice. Molecules. 2016 Aug 19;21(8).
- Choi HS, Zhao TT, Shin KS, Kim SH, Hwang BY, Lee CK, Lee MK. Anxiolytic effects of herbal ethanol extract from Gynostemma pentaphyllum in mice after exposure to chronic stress. Molecules. 2013 Apr 12;18(4):4342-56.
- Zhao TT, Shin KS, Choi HS, Lee MK. Ameliorating effects of gypenosides on chronic stress-induced anxiety disorders in mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015 Sep 14;15:323.
- Park SH, Huh TL, Kim SY, Oh MR, Tirupathi Pichiah PB, Chae SW, Cha YS. Antiobesity effect of Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract (actiponin):
- a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014 Jan;22(1):63-71.
Over the last decade, few dietary supplements have been in the news as much as curcumin and turmeric, the item from which curcumin and related compounds are extracted. The background for modern western interest is much older. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a yellow spice and a traditional remedy that has been used as a medicine, condiment and flavoring since 600 BC. The rhizome (underground stem) is the part of the plant that is harvested and ground to make the spice. In the Indian Ayurvedic tradition of healing and cooking, the yellow spice turmeric warms and activates the digestion and is useful in many aspects of healing. Both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) associate turmeric with the health of the liver, skin, digestive, lung, joint and muscle tissues.
Some of the key bioactive constituents found in turmeric are three kinds of curcuminoids, curcumin, demethoxylcurcumin, and bisdemethoxylcurcumin. All three components are structurally similar, although curcumin seems to be the most effective of these three. Curcumin and the related curcuminoids (the mention of curcumin often being shorthand for all three) appear to affect human health through antioxidant activity and possible modulation of 5-lipo-oxygenase (LOX) and cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes. The true health potential of curcuminoids has always been hindered by notoriously poor oral bioavailability. This has become generally accepted in recent years with numerous studies in humans demonstrating severe absorption shortcomings even when curcumin is consumed in large quantities. As a result, researchers have sought ways to overcome this limitation in bioavailability.
Too often overlooked with the focus on turmeric's curcuminoids is the presence of a number of other bioactives in the rhizome. These include immune-stimulating polysaccharides, volatile oils and yet other constituents. Beyond conventional turmeric lie one or more related species, such as Indonesia's Java turmeric, which exhibit special benefits not associated with Indian turmeric.
Curcumin and the Curcuminoids
Curcuminoid bioavailability is low for a variety of reasons. First, solubility in water is quite poor, especially so at the low pH (acid conditions) found in the stomach. Once food leaves the stomach, the pH rises in the upper small intestine and this presents other challenges inasmuch as curcuminoids are subject to damage by digestive fluids under these more neutral conditions. To make matters worse, poor absorption is compounded by their quick excretion from the system. The preponderance of the curcuminoids that are consumed is eliminated intact from the gut. Some curcuminoids are absorbed into the circulation, but almost none can be found in the blood in their free forms. Instead, they are almost entirely converted into water-soluble metabolites in the intestine and liver and appear in the blood as glucuronide forms.
Curcuminoids exhibit strong antioxidant activity, enhance cellular resistance to oxidative damage, and provide antioxidant protection against DNA damage. They also enhance the body's natural antioxidant glutathione levels, which in turn aids the liver in detoxification. Joint health is one area of significant benefit. In research on people with suboptimal joint function, curcuminoids have been found to support a healthy inflammatory response while promoting comfort and flexibility. There are many other areas of benefits. Curcuminoids exert several protective effects on the gastrointestinal tract, most likely via antioxidant activity. A double-blind trial found turmeric helpful for people with indigestion and effective in animal research in promoting healthy digestive function. Via antioxidant activity, curcuminoids may help promote cardiovascular health, especially by decreasing the propensity of low density lipoprotein (LDL) to oxidize. Research continues to suggest that oxidized LDL is one of the more pernicious forms of cholesterol in relation to cardiovascular health. The benefits of most interest, albeit ones that cannot be mentioned directly for any dietary supplement due to FDA regulations, are in the area of cancer.
Success in translating these potentials into tangible results has been limited by inherently poor intestinal absorption, rapid metabolism, and limited systemic bioavailability. These factors help to account for the somewhat spotty record of curcumin in clinical trials. Seeking to overcome these limitations, food ingredient formulators have begun to employ a variety of approaches for enhancing absorption and bioactivity. Many of these strategies are attempts to improve upon the age-old practice of consuming turmeric in fat-based sauces, such as in fat-rich curries. However, there exists uncertainty as to how the various commercially available offerings compare to each other in terms of either uptake or efficacy and this uncertainty leaves lay individuals, physicians and nutritionists with a dearth of data for evaluating products. A typical conundrum: is bioavailability calculated based on the active ingredient(s) only or on the total volume of a formula? Five times the bioavailability may not be an advance if it requires a formula with five times the weight for delivery, e.g., taking one capsule of curcuminoids versus taking five capsules to deliver the same amount of curcuminoids in four capsules worth of excipients.Controversies
Readers need to be extremely cautious regarding marketing claims as to the efficacy and bioavailability of curcumin products. For instance, one manufacturer of a curcumin product claims to offer a delivery format that upon ingestion leads to relatively large amounts of free curcumin in the blood, yet almost all other research indicates that the three curcuminoids are subject to rapid metabolism, both intestinal and hepatic. This means that almost no free curcumin can be found in the blood, only various metabolites and conjugates of these curcuminoids.1,2 Are these metabolites active? Curcumin metabolites retain at least some biological activity, but whether curcumin metabolites are as active as curcumin itself is not yet clear.3,4,5,6,7,8,9 In fact, the phenomenon in which turmeric extracts produce undetectable levels of free curcumin in plasma and nevertheless exhibit clinically significant effects speaks in favor of the biological relevance of curcuminoid metabolites.10,11,12 Still, it is doubtful that the conjugates of curcuminoids are able to pass the blood-brain barrier.13 This latter factor suggests that at least some of the benefits attributed to regular turmeric consumption via the diet are not derived from the curcuminoids.
More traps for the unwary abound. For example, rodentbased studies of bioavailability can be misleading due to the fact that rodents exhibit different curcumin pharmacokinetics compared to humans.14 Sometimes even claims regarding increased bioavailability in humans have failed spectacularly when revisited. One such claim is that inclusion of black pepper or one of its constituents, i.e., piperine (Bioperine), improves curcumin uptake. An early research study reported that a small quantity of piperine can enhance curcumin bioavailability "20-fold" in humans.15 In opposition to this conclusion, a recent independent analysis reported finding little increase in plasma free curcuminoid levels when using the commercially available C 3 Complex plus piperine systems.16 As another example of the issues that can arise is an ambiguous representation of the dosage tested in clinical trials. On this point, see the letters in a recent controversy over claims for a particular curcumin for exercise-induced muscle damage based on published research in which the dosages administered were, at the very least, unclear.17
Dietary Supplement Options
Various supplement options are examined in detail in "Beyond Yellow Curry: Assessing Commercial Curcumin Absorption Technologies," which can be freely downloaded from PubMed.18 This article and related background research suggest that particularly noteworthy commercial products based on concentrated curcuminoids include CurcuWIN™ (OmniActive Health Technology),19 Meriva® (Indena) and Theracurmin™ (Theravalues/P.L. Thomas).
What About Whole Turmeric?
Great emphasis has been placed on the curcuminoids found in turmeric, so much so that the average person might well believe that there is little else of worth in this spice. Nothing could be further from the truth! There are at least 200 known compounds in turmeric root, dozens of which appear to be active. Aside from the three major curcuminoids, known active compounds and families of compounds in turmeric include â-elemene, bisacurone, calebin A, curcumene, curdione, cyclocurcumin, volatile/fixed oils (turmerones and related compounds), bisabocurcumin, various proteins (biologically active molecular carriers, etc.), special dietary fibers (enhancers of the bioavailability of biologically active molecules), and acidic polysaccharides (immunomodulators).20
According to one company involved in advanced product development in conjunction with the famous curcumin researcher, Bharat B. Aggarwal, "the challenge is to recreate the curcumin inside the turmeric matrix effectively." It claims to have developed a novel way to recreate the turmeric matrix with active curcuminoids by a method known as Polar- Nonpolar Sandwich (PNS) technology. Potential benefits of this product, known by two different names, Cureit and Acumin (the latter in the American market via Novel Ingredients), are likely to be much broader than those that can be traced to curcuminoids alone. This approach has been discussed in these pages before—see "Beyond Synergy–the Entourage Effect in Nutrition and Herbalism" (TotalHealth Sep 2015). This new item, which consists of nothing other than specially treated turmeric without the addition of piperine, nanoparticles, liposomes, micelles, phospholipid complexes or their analogs, is being presented as supporting bone and joint health, cognitive function and general anti-aging benefits.21
Several clinical studies have been completed, although not yet published. A study conducted in rheumatoid arthritis patients showed that Acumin was beneficial. Active rheumatoid arthritis patients who received Acumin (either 250 or 500 mg twice per day) for a period of 90 days reported a statistically significant decrease in their clinical symptoms towards the end of the study.22 This result is similar to that reported with the use of 1,000 mg of a special delivery curcumin preparations, such as Meriva, over the same time range.23 Another Acumin clinical study examined comparative bioavailability issues, although these may not be particularly relevant given that Acumin is not a pure curcuminoid product. Both of these studies currently are under review for publication.Because the Western pharmaceutical approach focuses on purified components rather than on matrixes of components, at the moment there is much more available research on curcuminoids than on turmeric as such. However, there is a growing body of evidence indicating the benefits of active compounds other than curcuminoids found in turmeric. Those who want the "entourage effect" and would like to try the whole herb approach with an activated turmeric now have an alternative to the regular consumption of curries and golden milk.
Beyond Indian turmeric, there is a related item that in at least one traditional Asian medical system is considered to be superior for many health purposes. Known as Java turmeric or Javanese turmeric due to its origins in Indonesia, C. xanthorrhiza is a plant of the ginger family Zingiberaceae, which grows widely in Southeast Asia. Java turmeric is related to the better known Indian turmeric and there is a large overlap in traditional and modern herbal uses, including anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, wound healing and serum cholesterol-lowering.24 A number of constituents differ between Java and ordinary turmeric. Xanthorrhizol, in particular, is a sesquiterpenoid compound unique to Java turmeric. Among its known special benefits are hepatoprotective actions. An extract of the whole rhizome, likewise, has been shown to support liver health.25
An area that has been under-explored with Java turmeric, but in which this plant may exhibit special benefits, is immune function. For instance, in one animal experiment, chronic ingestion of an extract increased the proportion of splenic T cells.26 An in vitro trial examining mechanisms of action for immune response found that a polysaccharide in Java turmeric stimulates the immune functions of macrophages.27 Among the differences between Java turmeric and Indian turmeric are the following:
- composition of the dried rhizome—curcuminoids (1.6–2.2 percent), xanthorrhizol (1.48–1.63 percent)
- three nonphenolic diarylhepatanoids support normal inflammation response
- acceleration of the metabolism of the lipids from extrahepatic tissues to the liver, thus increasing the excretion of cholesterol via the bile
- secretion of bile acids (and bilirubin) and improvement in bile composition leading to the cholesterol found in bile being more likely to remain in solution (important for gallbladder function)
- unlike bisdesmethoxycurcumin, does not inhibit bile flow
In powdered bulk form and other deliveries, Java turmeric has been available in the US via specialized Asian product sellers for decades and in Europe for centuries. (Indonesia was under Dutch rule from the mid-17th Century until 1949.) CUR-XZOL™ (Curcuma xanthorrhiza Roxb.) is a commercially available source of Java that is manufactured in a major Indonesian pharmaceutical facility. It is fully characterized and contains a specified amount of xanthorrhizol. On amazon.com it can be found in an American formula as "WILD JAVA TURMERIC."References
- Ireson CR, Jones DJ, Orr S, et al. Metabolism of the cancer chemopreventive agent curcumin in human and rat intestine. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2002;11(1):105–11.
- Pan MH, Huang TM, Lin JK. Biotransformation of curcumin through reduction and glucuronidation in mice. Drug Metab Dispos 1999;27(4):486–94.
- Ireson C, Orr S, Jones DJ, et al. Characterization of metabolites of the chemopreventive agent curcumin in human and rat hepatocytes and in the rat in vivo, and evaluation of their ability to inhibit phorbol ester-induced prostaglandin E2 production. Cancer Res 2001;61(3):1058–64.
- Sandur SK, Pandey MK, Sung B et al. Curcumin, Demethoxycurcumin, Bisdemothoxycurcumin, Tetrahydrocurcumin, and Turmerones Differentially Regulate Anti-inflammatory and Antiproliferative Responses Through a ROS-Independent Mechanism. Carcinogenesis 2007 Aug;28(8):1765–73.
- Sugiyama Y, Kawakishi S, Osawa T. Involvement of the beta-diketone moiety in the antioxidative mechanism of tetrahydrocurcumin. Biochem Pharmacol. 1996 Aug 23;52(4):519–25.
- Pfeiffer E, Hoehle SI, Walch SG, Riess A, Sólyom AM, Metzler M. Curcuminoids form reactive glucuronides in vitro. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Jan 24;55(2):538–44.
- Kim JM, Araki S, Kim DJ, Park CB, Takasuka N, Baba-Toriyama H, Ota T, Nir Z, Khachik F, Shimidzu N, Tanaka Y, Osawa T, Uraji T, Murakoshi M, Nishino H, Tsuda H. Chemopreventive effects of carotenoids and curcumins on mouse colon carcinogenesis after 1,2-dimethylhydrazine initiation. Carcinogenesis. 1998 Jan;19(1):81–5.
- Pari L, Amali DR. Protective role of tetrahydrocurcumin (THC) an active principle of turmeric on chloroquine induced hepatotoxicity in rats. J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2005 Apr 30;8(1):115–23.
- Murugan P, Pari L. Effect of tetrahydrocurcumin on plasma antioxidants in streptozotocin-nicotinamide experimental diabetes. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2006;17(4):231–44.
- Sharma RA, McLelland HR, Hill KA, Ireson CR, Euden SA, Manson MM, Pirmohamed M, Marnett LJ, Gescher AJ, Steward WP. Pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic study of oral Curcuma extract in patients with colorectal cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2001 Jul;7(7):1894–900.
- Mohammadi A, Sahebkar A, Iranshahi M, et al. Effects of Supplementation with Curcuminoids on Dyslipidemia in Obese Patients: A Randomized Crossover Trial. Phytother Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):374–9.
- Sharma RA, Euden SA, Platton SL, et al. Phase I clinical trial of oral curcumin: biomarkers of systemic activity and compliance. Clin Cancer Res 2004;10:6847–54.
- Pan MH, Huang TM, Lin JK. Biotransformation of curcumin through reduction and glucuronidation in mice. Drug Metab Dispos. 1999 Apr;27(4):486–94.
- Ireson CR, Jones DJ, Orr S, et al. Metabolism of the cancer chemopreventive agent curcumin in human and rat intestine. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2002;11(1):105–11.
- Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, et al. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med 1998;64:353–6.
- Volak LP, Hanley MJ, Masse G, Hazarika S, Harmatz JS, Badmaev V, Majeed M, Greenblatt DJ, Court MH. Effect of a herbal extract containing curcumin and piperine on midazolam, flurbiprofen and paracetamol (acetaminophen) pharmacokinetics in healthy volunteers. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013 Feb;75(2):450–62.
- Douglass BJ, Clouatre DL. Beyond Yellow Curry: Assessing Commercial Curcumin Absorption Technologies. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(4):347–58. Downloadable from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25856323.
- Oliver JM, Stoner L, Rowlands DS, Caldwell AR, Sanders E, Kreutzer A, Mitchell JB, Purpura M, Jäger R. Novel Form of Curcumin Improves Endothelial Function in Young, Healthy Individuals: A Double-Blind Placebo Controlled Study. J Nutr Metab. 2016;2016:1089653.
- http://www.aureabiolabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Aurea-Newsletter_August.pdf and http://www.aureabiolabs.com/wpcontent/uploads/2016/08/Aurea-Newsletter_June.pdf
- Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Dugall M, Pellegrini L, Ledda A, Grossi MG, Togni S, Appendino G. Product-evaluation registry of Meriva®, a curcumin-phosphatidylcholine complex, for the complementary management of osteoarthritis. Panminerva Med. 2010 Jun;52(2 Suppl 1):55–62.
- Oon SF, Nallappan M, Tee TT, Shohaimi S, Kassim NK, Sa'ariwijaya MS, Cheah YH. Xanthorrhizol: a review of its pharmacological activities and anticancer properties. Cancer Cell Int. 2015 Oct 21;15:100.
- Devaraj S, Ismail S, Ramanathan S, Marimuthu S, Fei YM. Evaluation of the hepatoprotective activity of standardized ethanolic extract of Curcuma xanthorrhiza Roxb. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 2010 December;4(23):2512–7.
- Yasni S, Yoshiie K, Oda H, Sugano M, Imaizumi K. Dietary Curcuma xanthorrhiza Roxb. increases mitogenic responses of splenic lymphocytes in rats, and alters populations of the lymphocytes in mice. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1993 Aug;39(4):345–54.
- Kim AJ, Kim YO, Shim JS, Hwang JK. Immunostimulating activity of crude polysaccharide extract isolated from Curcuma xanthorrhiza Roxb. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007 Jun;71(6):1428–38.
Garlic has been an important herbal remedy for centuries. Found in carvings and paintings on the walls of Egyptian tombs, dating from 3700 BC, garlic's uses as a remedy for cancer and other ailments are recorded in detail in Egyptian medical documents, dating from 1550 BC.
Modern studies and human observations have validated many medicinal effects of garlic and its potential to help lower the risk of various ailments, including colon cancer. The cancer preventive mechanisms of garlic, shown largely through research using KyolicTM Aged Garlic Extract® (AGE), an odorless supplement made from organic garlic by Wakunaga of America, are largely due to potent antioxidants, a high content of organosulfur compounds, an ability to stimulate immunological responsiveness, detoxify carcinogens, inhibit inflammation and prevent mutations that may lead to cancer.
Several population studies have found an association between a high intake of garlic and a reduced risk of certain cancers, including stomach and colon cancer. An analysis of the results of these studies, showed, that the higher the amount of garlic consumed, the lower the risk of stomach and colon cancer.
The "Iowa Women's Study"1 is a large prospective study investigating whether diet and other risk factors are related to cancer incidence in older women. Results of the study showed a strong association between garlic consumption and colon cancer risk. There was a 50 percent lower risk of colon cancer in women who consumed the highest amounts of garlic, compared to those consuming a low level.
Several population studies conducted in China and Italy also showed repeatedly that consumption of allium vegetables, onions and especially garlic was associated with a reduced risk of stomach and colon cancer, sometimes as low as 50 percent.
The Nature of Colon Cancer
Colon Cancer is the third leading cause of deaths in the United States. It is a multistage disease that is initiated by a series of mutations in DNA that give rise to adenomatous polyps, of a benign nature, that may progress to full blown cancer. Colon cancer can have hereditary components, and is found in families, but external factors including environmental factors, lifestyle and diet play important role in the development of the disease.
Colon cancer develops slowly, over a period of 10 to 15 years; though people over 50 are most prone to getting the disease, colon cancer can develop at any age. The disease usually begins as a non-cancerous polyp that can progress with time into cancer, screening by colonoscopy is effective in lowering the cancer risk and increasing the chance for cure, by detecting and removing emerging adenomatous polyps. Cancer screening by colonoscopy is recommended starting at the age of 50, though people with a family history of the disease may begin at an earlier age and be tested more often.
Diet and Lifestyle in Prevention
While screening is important in reducing risk, diet and lifestyle are critical in supporting the body's natural defenses, helping prevent the onset and growth of polyps and blocking their subsequent development into colon cancer.
Leading a physically active life, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and reduced levels of alcohol are important aspects of prevention; as diet goes, a diet rich in plant food, low levels of red meat and intake of milk products that contain calcium and vitamin D are some of the recommendations by the American Cancer Society.
Among the plant foods that have been associated with lowering the risk of colon cancer, garlic ranks as a highly effective protector. In some people a high consumption of fresh garlic may cause gastrointestinal adverse effects; such occurrences and the fact that the odor of garlic lingers on the skin and breath, prevents many from taking advantage of its health effects. Many have therefore turned to the odorless supplement Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), as an effective way to seek protection against colon cancer. Currently, with over 700 scientific and medical publications showing the wide range of AGE health benefits, this odorless garlic supplement is the most researched and popular garlic supplement.
AGE a Natural Protectant against Colon Cancer
Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), is produced by the Wakunaga Company from organically grown garlic, using a process of aging and extraction, at room temperature, for 20 months. Harsh volatile garlic components, such as allicin, are converted by this process to stable compounds, such as S-allyl cysteine, S-allyl mercaptocysteine and others. S-allyl cysteine is the major watersoluble organosulfur compound in AGE; it is a highly bioavailable and is used to standardize AGE, assuring quality control. The high quality control of AGE insures consistent efficacy in helping sustain consumer health, remaining the choice garlic preparation in clinical studies and research on the health effects of a garlic. AGE lacks harsh or toxic compounds, and can be ingested safely for years, for its health effects.
The wide range of AGE¡¦s anticancer actions has been reported in studies using model systems. Findings show that AGE and its organosulfur constituents inhibited colon cancer in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, AGE stimulated colon and liver glutathione S-transferases, enzymes assist in detoxifying carcinogens. Other studies have shown that AGE and its compounds with their high antioxidant action show anti-carcinogenic actions by scavenging toxic reactive oxygen species, unstable molecules that are waste products in metabolism, which have the ability to trigger cancer-mutations in DNA. Other effects of AGE found experimentally, were an inhibition of the binding of carcinogens to DNA, detoxifying carcinogens, blocking the proliferation of colon cancer cells and killing them by apoptosis, a mechanism of programmed cell death.
While epidemiological studies have shown the efficacy of garlic in lowering colon cancer risk, and experimental models found AGE and its components, largely water soluble S-ally cysteine and S-allyl-mercaptocysteine have anti-carcinogenic effects, the protective action of AGE and its efficacy in lowering the risk of colon cancer in humans had to be established by a clinical study.
To determine a potential protection against colon cancer in humans, Tanaka2 and colleagues carried out a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial, using high intake of AGE (AGE 2.4 ml/day) as an active treatment and low-dose AGE (AGE 0.16 ml/day) as a control.
The study enrolled 51 patients who were diagnosed with adenomatous polyps. Investigators assigned the patients randomly to two groups, after removing adenomas that were larger than 5 mm in diameter. Using colonoscopy, the investigators determined the number and size of adenomas before the patients began the intake of AGE (0 months) and at six and twelve months after intake. There were thirty-seven patients who completed the study; 19 in the active group, receiving AGE and 18 in the control group, receiving placebo.
The investigators found that in the control group the number of adenomas increased in linear fashion from the beginning of the study (baseline point); by contrast, in the group taking the high dose of AGE the size and number of adenomas were significantly suppressed, after the 12 months of treatment. These findings showed that the intake of Kyolic AGE has the potential to protect humans against colon cancer, by preventing the progression of precancerous colon adenomas into colon cancer.
The clinical study, showing AGE as a supplement with potential preventive effects against human colon cancer, adds to the results of several epidemiological studies showing a reduction of colon cancer by high garlic consumption.
At this point, with overwhelming evidence of garlic protection against colon cancer, it should be noted that a recent single prospective study from Harvard Medical School3, did not find a protective effect by the intake of fresh garlic. The study did not include AGE.
To possibly understand the discrepancy in results, it should be realized that the findings of efficacy by AGE in inhibiting the growth of precancerous adenomas and potentially inhibiting colon cancer, is partly due to the high standardization of its active ingredients. This is in contrast to fresh garlic cloves that cannot be standardized in the same way.
Depending on the conditions of their cultivation, garlic bulbs may contain up to 33 different lipid- and water-soluble organosulfur compounds, with varying inhibitory effects on colon cancer, as shown in laboratory studies.
In a prospective study, unknown are the number of bulbs (that means the dose of garlic components), that would be required for human intake to have an inhibitory effect on colon cancer. Food preparation methods are known to affect the potency of sulfur compounds in garlic. For example, microwave heating and oven cooking block the anti-cancer activity of some compounds in the fresh garlic. The Harvard study had no biomarkers that reflected the actual active garlic component in the human body.
By contrast, AGE is prepared at room temperature, with no heating in the process of its production, preserving its anticancer activity; in addition, S-allyl cysteine, the most prevalent organosulfur compound in AGE, has been shown experimentally to have a 98 percent bioavailability; this means it can be used potentially as a marker to reflect the intake of Aged Garlic Extract components.
- Steinmetz KA, KushiLH, Bostick RM, et al Vegetables, fruit and colon cancer in the Iowa Women's Health Study. Am J. Epidemio.1994: 139:1-13.
- Tanaka S, Haruma K, Yoshihara M, Kajiyama G, Kira K, et al. Aged garlic extract has potential suppressive effect on colorectal adenomas in humans. J Nutr. 2006; 136:821S-826S.
- Meng S, Zhang X, Giovannucci EL, et al No association between garlic intake and risk of colorectal cancer. Cancer Epidemiol. In Press; On line Dec 12 2012.
Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine is a great work for everyone wishing to maintain and improve their health, written by a leader in integrative, holistic medicine. Dr. Elson is 40 years in practice as a lifestyle and preventive medicine philosopher-physician. This book is an octave above his original book, Staying Healthy with the Seasons, encompassing the practical integration of Natural and Eastern approaches into the Western Medical system. This synthesis can help people focus on enhancing health as a key to Staying Healthy.
NEW Medicine offers an integrated and practical vision that guides and empowers you to take more responsibility for your health and create better outcomes with lower costs. Dr. Haas states, "We hear so much about integrative medicine nowadays, but what does this really mean? Right after medical school and internship, I began integrating important ancient and modern systems of health care into my practice. I now refer to this as NEW Medicine: N for Natural, E for Eastern, and W for Western. Each system has its value, its strengths and weaknesses. Together they make up a truly integrative approach to health and healing and to treating many conditions."
Patrick Hanaway, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Functional Medicine and Medical Director for Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic endorses NEW Medicine; "This book is essential education for all medical students and physicians, as well as anyone who has ever been (or will become) ill. I first read 'Staying Healthy with the Seasons' during medical school and it has had a profound effect on my career. In 'NEW Medicine' the root causes of health creation and disease causation clearly arise from the practical wisdom and vast experience of this pioneer in health and healing. Doctor is derived from the Latin docere means to teach. Dr. Elson Haas is a great teacher and a true healer."
Elson Haas, MD has been an integrative family physician since 1973 and is founder/director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (pmcmarin.com) in San Rafael, CA. Dr. Haas is the author of 10 books on health, nutrition, and detoxification, including Staying Healthy with Nutrition, The Detox Diet, The False Fat Diet, and the classic, Staying Healthy with the Seasons. His most recent book is Ultimate Immunity (Rodale 2015). Learn more at ElsonHaasMD.com.
The key to improving our health lies much more in our own hands than we realize—and it is time to take action. BETTER HEALTH STARTS NOW!
Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine
Elson Haas, MD
Available from AMAZON
Over the last several months, there has been considerable debate between growers of medicinal mushrooms regarding the proper growing, identification and testing of these health products. As one party has put it, “Medicinal mushrooms are a category that has experienced high growth but few actual quality control standards.” These are not minor issues from the standpoint of health and efficacy or, for that matter, potentially from the standpoint of regulatory bodies. The chief protagonist in these discussions is Jeff Chilton, who has published somewhat detailed and technical articles under the heading of “Commercial Labeling of Medicinal Mushroom Products” (HerbalEGram: Volume 12, Issue 10, October 2015) and as a White Paper entitled Redefining Medicinal Mushrooms (Nammex Organic Mushroom Extracts | www.nammex.com). A much more accessible paper is available as “10 Questions to ask About Your Mushroom Supplement” (http://www.nammex.com/10-questions-to-ask-aboutyour-mushroom-supplement/). A response has come from Paul Stamets under the heading Beyond Beta-Glucans: Evolutions in Mushroom Science (October 15, 2015), albeit Stamets’ rejoinder really does more to detour the discussion into additional topics than to refute any one of Chilton’s positions.
The use of mushrooms for health and medicine is a millennial-old practice in China, Tibet and Japan. In a simplified sense, much of the debate between Chilton and Stamets comes down to observations and judgments of traditional medical systems as reflected in science and terminology versus new approaches based on radically altered growing and related practices. Traditionally and in most of the scientific literature, the items loosely termed “mushrooms” actually are divisible into three main components: mycelium, mushroom and spore. These are the different stages of growth and in traditional practices are viewed as typically manifesting quite different qualities when consumed. Likewise, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and related systems, the growth medium and growing conditions are extremely important. Chilton’s general position is that the active component mix is far different for the fruiting body (i.e., the mushroom) than it is for the mycelium and that these fungi manifest very different component mixtures grown on their native mediums (wood, for instance) than grown on grains (corn, rice, etc.).
In fact, Chilton’s observations are borne out all the time with common foodstuffs. Under-ripe fruits, grains and vegetables exhibit quite different properties — not usually desirable, but occasionally advantageous — compared with their ripe versions. Bitter melon is an example of a wonderful food always eaten in its immature stage and never when fully ripe, just as the fully ripe seeds are avoided. Similarly, only dairy products from animals grazing on grass or grass silage yield the valued CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and also more of a variety of other nutrients. Hence, common observations in areas other than mushroom growing tend to support Chilton’s general positions.
Is the Product from Fruiting Body (Mushroom) or Mycelium?
According to FDA regulations, a dietary supplement is required to provide identification of ingredients, including the part of the plant or other source used. In practice this means, for example, that reishi extracts should give the common name (reishi), the Latin identification (Ganoderma lucidum) and the part used (mycelium, fruiting body/mushroom, and/or spore). If a portion of the product consists of other material(s), such as remnants of the growth medium, these must be listed under “other ingredients.”
There are many good reasons for this regulation and these are clear in the case of mushroom powders and extracts. Once more taking reishi as the example, it is well established that a number of the compounds valued in traditional usage are found primarily or in greater quantities in the fruiting body. Such compounds include ganoderans and various triterpenes (119 or more are known, including ganoderic and ganoderenic acids). Adenosine and Ling Zhi-8 protein are found in both. These are compounds that modulate the effects of the extract to such an extent that in Chinese medical terms the “mushroom” or “fruiting body” is considered to be either “neutral” or even “cool,” hence although reishi is a powerful immunostimulant, it remains balanced and anti-inflammatory whereas mycelium extracts are considered to be “warm” or even “hot,” meaning potentially inflammatory and sensitizing. Spore extracts, likewise, are very immunoactive, meaning, again, that they will not lead to the same results as are expected from extracts of the fruiting body. There can be reasons for using the spores, but the purchaser should be aware of the implications inasmuch as spores/spore extracts do not have either the history of medicinal use or the body of research true of the mycelia and fruiting bodies.
Mycelium products usually are very inexpensive compared to the mushroom fruiting body and therefore commercially it is tempting to obscure the distinction between the two. The FDA, by the way, plainly states that mycelium products cannot be listed as mushroom, i.e., fruiting body. The FDA’s position on this issue is found in Compliance Policy Guide, Section 585.525 http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/ComplianceP.
The Medium Is Important
Chilton refers to grain-grown mycelium as mycelium on grain (MOG). The mycelium in these products is not separated from the grain, so residual grain becomes a dominant feature of the MOG products. Of course, the mycelium has medicinal properties and much research demonstrates this fact. The contentious issues include the degree to which MOG is composed of grain and the differences between the mycelium and the fruiting body of a given species.
In his papers and at the Nammex website, Chilton supplies test data demonstrating that the concentrations of one or more important components, such as the particular beta-D-glucans that are prized from mushrooms, generally are very different between the grain-grown mycelium and the fruiting bodies. Similarly, the mixtures of the various compounds are different. Grown on traditional substrates or media, mushrooms produce triterpenes and other compounds that either are not seen or are found in much reduced amounts with grain-grown products. The reason for growing mycelium on grain, of course, is that it is very inexpensive compared to native growing mediums such as characterize mushrooms in their natural environment.
Powder or Extract?
Those who have looked at textbooks of traditional Chinese herbal prescriptions will know that dosages typically run into many grams of the raw materials that then are boiled in water to produce decoctions for drinking. Sometimes water-alcohol mixtures are used to extract compounds not readily watersoluble, sometimes herbs are fried in oils or charred, and so forth and so on. Relatively few herbs are consumed in their simple powdered states and those that are usually must be consumed in large quantities.
In practice, this means that extraction is necessary to concentrate the range of available active ingredients in amounts and in forms that can readily be ingested and absorbed. One obvious reason for extractions is greater bioavailability. For reishi, properly prepared extracts must include triterpenoids as well as the beta-D-glucan fractions. As Chilton notes, grains supply glucan fractions that may be, for instance, simply starch. Other glucan fractions can be fibers, such as the well-known glucan found in oat fiber. Supplement Facts panels should make clear that it is the active compounds that are being tested and listed. Vague terms such as polysaccharide are not useful. Merriam-Webster defines polysaccharide as “a carbohydrate that can be decomposed by hydrolysis into two or more molecules of monosaccharides; especially: one (as cellulose, starch, or glycogen) containing many monosaccharide units…” Better products often will make clear the extraction solvents, as well, e.g., water or water-alcohol.
Inasmuch as mycelium-based products will generally contain a fraction of the material used as the medium, if GMO grains are used, the end product will most likely contain GMO grain fractions and, quite possibly, the glyphosate or other compounds used to raise the grain. Such contaminations are extremely common in foodstuffs — recently, a test of a large number of beers made and sold in Germany found that every single one contained trace or more amounts of glyphosate with one containing 30 micrograms per liter.1 Unfortunately, wording indicating “combination” products and “full spectrum” products can confuse purchasers as to the amount of grain residues that remain. With mushrooms, as with most other foodstuffs, organic is best.
Those interested in the topic of medicinal mushrooms might want to spend time with the literature and websites listed at the beginning of this article.2 For medicinal mushrooms, as is often the case with other products, reliable information can be hard to come by. Nevertheless, self-education with regard to medicinal mushrooms may be even more important than with most other dietary supplements and herbs.
- “Glyphosate weed killer found in German beers.” http://www.dw.com/en/glyphosate-weed-killer-found-in-german-beers-studyfinds/a-19072785.
- See Chapter 9 Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi) in Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011.
Synergy is a concept with which most of us are familiar. The texts on labels of dietary supplements often proclaim “synergistic effects”— indeed, so often that synergism sometimes is described as the most over-used term in the industry because synergy commonly is claimed where none exists. More interesting, and arguably far more important, are nutrient and related interactions that might seem to fall under the heading of synergy, yet in reality are quite different. One such type of interaction that is gaining traction in the world of biochemical and medical research goes under the heading of the entourage effect. Whereas synergism involves components each of which is active on its own and which in combination yield effects greater than the sum of the individual contributions, the entourage effect may involve components most of which on their own may exhibit little or no benefit or may yield benefits that are otherwise unrelated. The entourage effect as a concept helps to explain why nutrients often behave very differently in different circumstances, why seemingly identical clinical trials may yield contradictory findings and other anomalies that we meet all the time in medicine and nutrition.
Synergism—the combined effects of two or more components is greater than the sum of the effects of the individual components acting alone
Many years ago, I was involved in the development of patentable forms of grape seed extract and their proanthocyanidin active components. We were exploring, among other things, how plant compounds work together with traditional antioxidant vitamins to provide protection that is superior to that of vitamins alone. People whose diet is rich in fruits and vegetables consume not only antioxidant vitamins, but also various polyphenols. Our starting point was that many of the benefits derived from eating such diets may be the result of synergism between the plant polyphenols and the better-known vitamin antioxidants. Plant polyphenols in this consideration were active antioxidant compounds, such as those found in tea, wine and grape juice. Overwhelming evidence supports the belief that excessive oxidation and free radical damage is linked to various disease states and even to aging. Yet studies in both animals and humans in which diets have been supplemented with antioxidant vitamins for long periods of time have yielded ambiguous results.
At the 219th American Chemical Society National Meeting held in San Francisco on March 26–30, 2000 researchers associated with the company Polyphenolics presented studies that supported supplementing the diet with special plant-derived nutrients and consuming more whole fruits and vegetables. One of our associates pointed out that antioxidant vitamins are present in the human body at levels typically twenty to several hundred times the level of plant polyphenols. This is one reason that so much less research has focused on the antioxidant vitamins in foods and relatively little research has been done on the antioxidant roles of the other compounds present. By 2000, however, it already was becoming clear that these non-vitamin plant antioxidants have an impact on the antioxidant status of the body that is much beyond their representation in the blood and tissues. For instance, at the conference it was explained that an extract from grape seeds given to human volunteers led to a much greater increase in the antioxidant capacity of the subjects’ blood than was theoretically possible based on the compound alone. This was a finding that called for explanation. A second set of tests helped to clarify the result of the first––the same grape seed extract demonstrated significant synergism when tested in vitro with the antioxidant vitamins C and E, either alone or in combination.
To establish a quantitative baseline for the antioxidant power of each of the compounds, tests used the standard cupric ion generation of oxidation to look at the impact of combining our grape seed extract (Vixox Gold™) with vitamins C and E to gauge the synergy of the combinations. Vitamin C, vitamin E and grape seed extract were each tested individually to determine their effects at several concentrations. These baselines were added to yield the “Sum of Individual Inhibitions” which then was compared with the “Actual Inhibitions When Tested Together.” The Actual Inhibitions minus the Sum of Individual Inhibitions times 100 yielded the percent of Synergism. This series of in vitro tests thus allowed the investigator to elegantly demonstrate the concentrations of maximal synergism amongst the three antioxidants. Strong synergism was shown for Vinox Gold™ plus vitamin C, for Vinox Gold™ plus vitamin E, and, finally, for Vinox Gold™ plus vitamin C and vitamin E.
Synergisms in the ranges shown above are good examples of why it is that consuming a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is so much more successful in terms of health than eating a diet based on refined carbohydrates, protein and fats. Refining the “big three” macronutrients and then “adding back” nutrients/ micronutrients loses the benefits of the plant compounds that otherwise are present in the original sources of carbohydrates and in partially refined oils, such as olive and sesame oils. The antioxidant vitamins are important, but they commonly provide their full potential benefits only when combined with various plant factors.
Synergism is important, yet there are other arguably much more important factors that cannot be reduced to the concept of synergism. In another paper presented at the American Chemical Society National Meeting, Chithan Kandaswami of the State University of New York at Buffalo indicated that grape seed extract acts in ways other than as an antioxidant. The flavonoids found in grape seed along with chemically similar compounds found in other plants act to reduce the signals received by certain cell receptors involved in inflammation and tumor growth and to activate additional signals. Antioxidants commonly are found to help to reduce inflammation, but in this case the protective effect is different from an antioxidant benefit. When researchers attempt to elucidate mechanisms of action, compounds found in foods and herbs often exhibit signaling roles in the body with difficult to define effects and unknown active pathways.
To illustrate this, let’s take a simple example with implications that upend many supposedly established conclusions and vast amounts of research into the relation between nutrition and cardiovascular disease. Saturated fats, such as butterfat, long have been damned based mostly on marker studies as being atherogenic because such fats raise plasma total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). In 2015, it has become apparent that recommendations against saturated fats that have been in place since 1977 never had conclusive support from randomized controlled trials and that there is a case to be made that total cholesterol and, to some extent, even LDL-C, within a wide range actually are inversely related to total mortality! 1,2,3,4,5 This means that longevity studies based on endpoints (did the subjects live longer or not) routinely have found that in old age higher, not lower, levels of total and even LDL-C within a certain range are associated with better health and longer life. The reader may well ask, “How can so much have been wrong for so long?” One answer is that models based on interventions with pure substances often leave out actual dietary practices and suggest that foods which, in fact, are healthful instead are detrimental to health. Case in point, butterfat.
In 1993, one of the most important researchers exploring the health effects of fats in the diet, FA Kummerow, published an animal study using a model (swine) that is an almost perfect stand-in for humans in terms of lipids and cardiovascular disease to test the effects of consumption of margarine and butter on plasma lipids levels as different amounts of magnesium were consumed. The findings were telling regarding nutrient interactions. From the abstract:
Plasma lipids obtained from swine which had been fed butter or margarine at two dietary magnesium (Mg) levels indicated that the level of dietary Mg was more significant to plasma total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels than was the presence of butter or margarine [i.e., omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids].…
- Studies in which
the influences of dietary fats on plasma cholesterol were
first noted were carried out on liquid diets deficient in Mg.
Mg, a cofactor in the enzymes involved in desaturation of
saturated fatty acids, is also necessary in desaturation of
linoleic to arachidonic acid.
In other words, simply adding magnesium to the diet dramatically changed the effect of saturated fat on plasma lipids levels compared to polyunsaturated fat. Interestingly, butterfat, such as is found in full fat dairy, actually protects against diabetes and perhaps other components of the metabolic syndrome.7 The addition of magnesium in this example is not a form of synergy in the usual sense defined above. Instead, it is an instance of how in the diet the entourage effect often plays out.
THE ENTOURAGE EFFECT
Many herbalists long have held that in some cases plants yield better results than the natural products isolated from them, a type of “herbal synergism.” However, synergy in the simple sense introduced above involves the total of a particular benefit or effect being greater than the sum of its parts. This is illustrated by the example of delivering together blends of antioxidants whose antioxidant effects, through whatever combination of mechanisms, exceed the sum of their individual capacities as antioxidants. But what do we call the concept if one or more of the components exert no antioxidant effects of their own, may otherwise seemingly even be inert, yet magnify the outcome, reduce side effects and introduce new and unexpected benefits?
Increasingly in the scientific literature, this is called the entourage effect.8 Not surprisingly, the concept emerged with regard to herbs rather than standard pharmaceuticals because it does not lend itself readily to standard testing methodologies which depend upon “one cause, one effect” reasoning and testing. Nevertheless, examples of the entourage effect continuously are in evidence.
A good illustration of the superiority of a complex herbal extract versus “guaranteed potency” based on the ever greater purification of a single ingredient is Ma huang, a plant source of natural ephedra. Starting in the early 1990s and continuing for more than a dozen years, the combination of ephedra and caffeine was popular as a dieting aid because the mixture worked. Despite this fact, ephedra and its sources were banned due to fears of increased hypertension in vulnerable individuals. In the marketplace, relatively high dose extracts from plant sources were not economic beyond concentrations of six percent of the active alkaloid and this led to the widespread use of synthetic sources. Curiously, seriously elevated blood pressure was not normal with the plant source at reasonable levels of intake whereas elevated blood pressure was fairly typical with the synthetic. Why the difference? The answer lay with the entourage effect—in Ma huang there are a number of compounds that lower blood pressure and otherwise modulate the pressor effect of ephedra thus making the plant source far safer than the synthetic pharmaceutical source of ephedra.
Similar cases are found throughout herbalism. The important compound adenosine cannot be successfully supplemented in pure form by mouth, yet is bioavailable as a component of bears’/wild garlic.9 Likewise, the phytosterols beta-sitosterol and its glucoside in combination show significantly greater efficacy than the individual sterols at the same concentration, which is to say beta-sitosterol requires the presence of its typical form found in plants in order to be maximally active.10
A great current example of the entourage effect is cannabis in both its medical and recreational uses. Different strains of the plant that otherwise are analyzed as possessing essentially identical amounts of the “active” ingredients are reported by many or even most users as leading to quite different experiences. The reason is that the plant is the source of 60 or more cannabinoids alone, not just the famous THC and CBD, along with a host of non-cannabinoid compounds, such as terpenes. These differing combinations of compounds can activate or block binding to brain receptor sites and produce a variety of other regulatory effects.
These findings have wide-ranging implications, such as for the use of medical marijuana for cancer. For instance, cannabinoids typically have been used in experimental treatments just like other drugs to block one or another pathway or receptor site based on the genetic mutation theory of tumor development and growth. However, that model, which is the basis of most chemo- and related therapies, recently has taken quite a few hard nocks as it has become increasing apparent that cancers, like other cells and tissues in the body, depend upon epigenetics as much as or more than genetics.11,12
Epigenetics, according to one definition, refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes “on” or “off.” These modifications do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells “read” genes.13
In epigenetic models of disease, targeting multiple pathways and influencing indirect as well as direct mechanisms is more effective than focusing on a single point.
A PRINCIPLE IN TRADITIONAL HERBAL FORMULATION
The entourage effect as a concept very recently has been harnessed by scientists at Harvard and several Central European universities to cover ways of visualizing the relationships between biological pathways.14An argument can be made a number of sophisticated traditional medical systems, such as those of the Tibetans and the Chinese, long have employed this type of modeling. Indeed, neither of these systems nor the related Indian Ayurvedic system traditionally used single herbs in treatments. As one recent compendium describes the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Chinese herbs are not used singly in treatment, but in combinations known as herbal formulas….Since a [sic] herbal combination has obvious advantages in treatment, the relationships between the herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have been carefully studied and certain types of relationship are identified. They are called the seven relations between herbs, e.g. mutual accentuation, mutual enhancement, mutual counteraction, mutual suppression, mutual antagonism, mutual incompatibility and single effect. Some of these are very useful in treatment, but some are harmful and therefore must be avoided.15
There are other ways of describing principles of formulation, such as major ingredients, directing ingredients, various modifying ingredients, etc., but the ideas are similar.
To illustrate these points, we can return to a Chinese formula that has been mentioned before in these pages, the fermented herb mixture known as Tai Li Wang. Also referred to as a mulberry and sea-buckthorn beverage concentrate to reflect its two most prominent ingredients, Tai Li Wang is suggested for individuals under stress, including mental and physical stress, those recovering from surgery or illness, requiring a large nutritional boost, individuals suffering gastrointestinal problems, and those looking for an anti-aging tonic. Other ingredients include black sesame, black plum, goji, Buddha’s hand, Chinese white olive, fu ling, chrysanthemum and jujube. Fermentation creates further complex components not found in the original herbs. The herbal tradition maintains that Tai Li Wang improves energy, supports the liver and kidney functions, increases blood components and supports their roles, is detoxifying, improves digestion and digestive functions (including being useful in both constipation and diarrhea), and is calming, including aiding sleep. In short, the formula is strengthening and balancing to the metabolism.
These effects refer to the entire formula and the components individually are generally mild in action. However, even mild herbs have limits. Take, for instance, Buddha’s hand. This is a mild herb related to citron that calms the liver and regulates certain types of energy. It is not used by itself if the physiologic system has been depleted due to diarrhea. Similarly, chrysanthemum typically is mild with the properties of cooling and calming, yet it should be used in moderation by those who have a weak digestive system or have diarrhea. The other herbs in the formula balance these constraints and in practice Tai Li Wang serves to normalize bowel function just as it serves to support immune function without causing inflammation and it promotes greater energy without being overly stimulating or depleting as is caffeine. In general, Tai Li Wang is a complex mixture of herbs consumed at really quite low levels as individual components, meaning that its benefits cannot be explained by the quantity of any one component, yet taken together these ingredients magnify the outcome, reduce side effects and introduce new and unexpected benefits.
As noted above, herbalists long have held that in some cases plants yield better results than the natural products isolated from them, a type of “herbal synergism.” One of the dangers of the modern “guaranteed potency herbs” and similar approaches to supplements is that the “guaranteed potency” that originally was meant to insure that the whole extraction was done properly has been deformed to reproduce the pharmaceutical model of pure substances and, as one consequence, leaving out important compounds found in the herbs and in the extracts as originally produced. Single compound and herbs can be combined for synergistic effects, to be sure, but it is easy to lose sight of the benefits, sometimes not at all minor, of the other compounds present in the herbs that may not constitute the active ingredients per se, yet are important for determining how the so-called active ingredients affect the body. This is the entourage effect. It is important in evaluating individual herbs and their extracts. Properly understood, it also can be understood as an organizing principle for a number of traditional medical systems, such as those of the Tibetans and the Chinese.
- Harcombe Z, Baker JS, Cooper SM, Davies B, Sculthorpe N, DiNicolantonio JJ, Grace F. Evidence from randomised controlled trials did not support the introduction of dietary fat guidelines in 1977 and 1983: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Open Heart. 2015 Jan 29;2(1):e000196.
- Hamazaki T, Okuyama H, Ogushi Y, Hama R. Towards a Paradigm Shift in Cholesterol Treatment. A Re-examination of the Cholesterol Issue in Japan. Ann Nutr Metab. 2015;66 Suppl 4:1-116. doi: 10.1159/000381654.
- Ericson U, Hellstrand S, Brunkwall L, Schulz CA, Sonestedt E, Wallström P, Gullberg B, Wirfält E, Orho-Melander M. Food sources of fat may clarify the inconsistent role of dietary fat intake for incidence of type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 May;101(5):1065–80.
- de Souza RJ, Mente A, Maroleanu A, Cozma AI, Ha V, Kishibe T, Uleryk E, Budylowski P, Schünemann H, Beyene J, Anand SS. Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ. 2015 Aug 11;351:h3978.
- Morowitz HJ. Hiding in the Hammond Report. Hospital Practice 1975 Aug:35,39.
- Kummerow FA, Wasowicz E, Smith T, Yoss NL, Thiel J. Plasma lipid physical properties in swine fed margarine or butter in relation to dietary magnesium intake. J Am Coll Nutr. 1993 Apr;12(2):125–32.
- Op cit. note 3.
- Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoidterpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug;163(7):1344–64.
- Preuss HG, Clouatre D, Mohamadi A, Jarrell ST. Wild garlic has a greater effect than regular garlic on blood pressure and blood chemistries of rats. Int Urol Nephrol. 2001;32(4):525–30.
- Bouic PJ, Etsebeth S, Liebenberg RW, Albrecht CF, Pegel K, Van Jaarsveld PP. beta-Sitosterol and beta-sitosterol glucoside stimulate human peripheral blood lymphocyte proliferation: implications for their use as an immunomodulatory vitamin combination. Int J Immunopharmacol. 1996 Dec;18(12):693–700.
- Rozhok AI, DeGregori J. Toward an evolutionary model of cancer: Considering the mechanisms that govern the fate of somatic mutations. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2015 Jul 21;112(29):8914–21.
- Epigenetics: A New Frontier in Cancer Research. AICR ScienceNow, Volume 20, Spring 2007 at http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/News2?abbr=res_&id=11800
- Lex A, Partl C, Kalkofen D, Streit M, Gratzl S, Wassermann AM, Schmalstieg D, Pfister H. Entourage: visualizing relationships between biological pathways using contextual subsets. IEEE Trans Vis Comput Graph. 2013 Dec;19(12):2536–45.
- Yifan Yang. “Theories and concepts in the composition of Chinese herbal formulas” in Chinese Herbal Formulas: Treatment Principles and Composition Strategies. (Edinburgh and New York: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2010.)
Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been used as a botanical medicine for hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of years. Research over the past 50 years has begun to shed more light on how this plant works in our bodies to produce some of the health and medical benefits researchers have identified thus far. Even the Surgeon General of the United States of America has declared, "We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, marijuana can be helpful."1
The most compelling evidence has shown that marijuana, or more specifically its medical constituents, cannabinol and THC, have properties that are beneficial in the following areas:2
- The reduction of nerve related pain
- Control of seizures
- Improvement in sleep
- Control of anxiety
- Reduction of inflammation
- Antioxidant protection
- The treatment of specific cancers
- Slowing the progression of Alzheimer's
How it Works
There are cannabinoid receptors on many cells throughout the body, including the brain, lungs, liver, kidneys and various part of our immune system. These receptors are activated when they are exposed to cannabinol and THC, causing the following observed reactions:
- Higher levels of THC are responsible for the euphoric feelings associated with the smoking of marijuana.
- When equal levels of cannabinol (CBN) and THC are present (1 to 1 ratio) there is a very significant impact on breast cancer cells, as well as other aggressive cancer cells. Scientists have observed cancer cells shrinking, dying and even reverting back to normal cell function.3
- High levels of only CBN have been shown to provide symptomatic relief of neuropathic pain in adults with multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, Health Canada has approved a new drug, Sativex, otherwise known as Cannabis sativa, for the treatment of the aforementioned conditions.4
- Cannabinol has also exhibited anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsant, neuroprotective effects, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It is this powerful combination of brain related benefits, which is thought to have the ability to slow the progression of Alzheimer's and possibly other brain related conditions.5
The interesting, and significant, finding in all of the research is that these health benefits are all possible without producing any of the euphoric reactions associated with marijuana. This is extremely important, since it is the recreational drug component that has been one of the barriers to the acceptance of cannabis being used for medical purposes. The two components need to be separated and treated completely differently in order to allow medical conditions to be treated objectively based on the emerging science.
The Deeper Cellular Understanding
More than 15,000 peer reviewed scientific articles have been published on the chemical and pharmacologic uses of cannabis and cannabinoids (CBD). There have also been 33 published controlled clinical trials, in the U.S., documenting the measurable benefits of treatments utilizing one of the cannabinoid components.6
It is important to explain more exactly how this botanical causes these beneficial reactions in the body.
- Mediators are biochemicals, such as enzymes, that cause the up regulation (increase) or down regulation (decrease) of certain other biochemicals that control inflammation, pain messages, the genetic on and off switches for cancer and other important metabolic reactions. CBD is a mediator that up regulates the good chemicals and down regulates the bad or negative chemicals in the body leading to the prevention and/or the reversal of various health challenges.
- Cannabinolic acid (CBDA) inhibits MDA-MB231, which stops breast cancer cells from spreading. And, CBD stops these same cells from multiplying. If breast cancer cells cannot multiply or spread, then the disease can be controlled to allow diet and other proven natural or pharmaceutical agents to kill the cancer cells or cause them to return to normal cellular activity.
- Many cancers are enabled by a genetic on and off switch, known as the 1D-1 gene. CBD, in the form of cannabis oil extract was able to turn off the over expression of this 1D-1 gene, thus stopping cancer cells from moving to other tissues and, in some cases, causing these cancer cells to return to normal cellular function. This off switch by the cannabis oil extract proved effective for breast cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and brain cancer, all of which have normally occurring high levels of the 1D-1 gene.7
Detoxification - Systematically removing accumulated toxins from the body can significantly reduce the burden placed on the immune system and other important metabolic functions. This will allow more energy and immune protective activity to be directed at the primary health challenge. Proven detoxification methods include exercise, sauna, steam bathes, diet, specific supplements and intravenous treatments such as EDTA chelation therapy or hydrogen peroxide therapy. The existing level of toxicity can be measured via blood, hair and urine tests, as well as symptoms analysis. Then these same tests can be used to measure the success of various detoxification efforts. These detoxification efforts can then create a better environment for the use of various treatments, which can include cannabis.
Nutrition - The human body needs very high levels of essential oils, vitamins, minerals and enzymes in order for each of our 60 trillion cells to function properly. When cells are not properly nourished, this puts a strain on our organs and our operating systems, including the immune system. A diet of whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, omega fish and organic poultry will help to optimize cellular function, thus making treatment protocols more likely to achieve their desired results. This type of diet also helps to ensure a proper pH balance in the body (7.0 - 7.4), which is the ideal environment for optimal healing.
Stress Management - Stress is involved, or influences, about 80% of all health challenges and drains the body of vital nutrients, such as B vitamins. Using stress management techniques, such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing and hypnotherapy can help to reduce the impact of stress on treatment protocols for chronic disease. Reducing stress also helps to reduce acid levels in the body, thus insuring the maintenance of a healthy and healing pH level in the body.
Sleep Function - When we sleep, our bodies experience the most significant levels of balancing (homeostasis), detoxification and re-energizing. Therefore, it is very important to ensure sound sleep of at least 7 to 9 hours every night. Eating very little after dinner, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants and clearing the mind of troubling or perplexing topics best accomplish this. Some people may need to use calming audiotapes, meditation or supplements, such as 5HTP or melatonin to help achieve this state of sound sleep.
Cannabis for cancer treatment, the science
There have been many impressive scientific studies over the past several years on the effectiveness of hemp extracts in the treatment of various forms of cancer. Here is a partial list of these studies, which clearly illustrates the potential benefit for the medical application of hemp extracts against the most serious disease we know.
1. A study published in the British Journal of Cancer, conducted by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Complutense University in Madrid, determined that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids inhibit tumor growth. They were responsible for the first clinical study aimed at assessing cannabinoid antitumoral action. Cannabinoid delivery was safe and was achieved with zero psychoactive effects. THC was found to decrease tumor cells in two out of the nine patients.9
2. A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience examined the biochemical events in both acute neuronal damage and in slowly progressive, neurodegenerative diseases. They conducted a magnetic resonance imaging study that looked at THC (the main active compound in marijuana) and found that it reduced neuronal injury in rats. The results of this study provide evidence that the cannabinoid system can serve to protect the brain against neurodegeneration.10
3. A study published in The Journal of Pharmacology And Experimental Therapeutics already acknowledged the fact that cannabinoids have been shown to possess antitumor properties. This study examined the effect of cannabidiol (CBD, non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound) on human glioma cell lines. The addition of cannabidiol led to a dramatic drop in the viability of glioma cells. Glioma is the word used to describe brain tumor. The study concluded that cannabidiol was able to produce a significant antitumor activity.11
4. A study published in the Journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics outlines how brain tumors are highly resistant to current anticancer treatments, which makes it crucial to find new therapeutic strategies aimed at improving the poor prognosis of patients suffering from this disease. This study also demonstrated the reversal of tumor activity in Glioblastoma multiforme.12
5. A study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, conducted by the California Pacific Medical Centre, determined that cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation and invasion. They also demonstrated that CBD significantly reduces tumor mass.13
6. A study published in The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics determined that THC as well as cannabidiol dramatically reduced breast cancer cell growth. They confirmed the potency and effectiveness of these compounds.14
7. A study published in the Journal Molecular Cancer showed that THC reduced tumor growth and tumor numbers. They determined that cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell proliferation, induce cancer cell apoptosis, and impair tumor angiogenesis (all good things). This study provides strong evidence for the use of cannabinoid-based therapies for the management of breast cancer.15
8. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) determined that cannabinoids inhibit human breast cancer cell proliferation.16
9. A study published in the Journal Oncogene, by Harvard Medical Schools Experimental Medicine Department, determined that THC inhibits epithelial growth factor induced lung cancer cell migration and more. They go on to state that THC should be explored as novel therapeutic molecules in controlling the growth and metastasis of certain lung cancers.17
10. A study published in The FASEB Journal by the Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology, from the Department of General Surgery in Germany, determined that cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell invasion. Effects were confirmed in primary tumor cells from a lung cancer patient. Overall, data indicated that cannabinoids decrease cancer cell invasiveness.18
11. A study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, conducted by Harvard Medical School, investigated the role of cannabinoid receptors in lung cancer cells. They determined its effectiveness and suggested that it should be used for treatment against lung cancer cells.19
12. A study published in the journal Prostate illustrates a decrease in prostatic cancer cells by acting through cannabinoid receptors.20
13. A study published in the Indian Journal of Urology outlined multiple studies proving the effectiveness of cannabis on prostate cancer.21
14. Another study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology determined that clinical testing of CBD against prostate carcinoma is a must. That cannabinoid receptor activation induces prostate carcinoma cell apoptosis. They determined that cannabidiol significantly inhibited cell viability.22
15. A study published in the Journal Molecular Pharmacology recently showed that cannabinoids induce growth inhibition and apoptosis in mantle cell lymphoma. The study was supported by grants from the Swedish Cancer Society, The Swedish Research Council, and the Cancer Society in Stockholm.23
16. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer also determined and illustrated that cannabinoids exert antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in various types of cancer and in mantle cell lymphoma.24
17. A study published in the journal Molecular Cancer Research conducted by the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology by Virginia Commonwealth University determined that cannabinoids induce apoptosis in leukemia cells.25
18. A study published in the journal Molecular Cancer Research shows that cannabinoids are potent inhibitors of cellular respiration and are toxic to highly malignant oral tumors.26
19. A study published in Cell Death & Differentiation determined that THC reduces the viability of human HCC cell lines (Human hepatocellular liver carcinoma cell line) and reduced their growth.27
20. A study published in Cancer Research determined that cannabinoid receptors are expressed in human pancreatic tumor cell lines and tumor biopsies at much higher levels than in normal pancreatic tissue. Results showed that cannabinoid administration induced apoptosis. They also reduced the growth of tumor cells, and inhibited the spreading of pancreatic tumor cells.28
Who is against the medicinal use of marijuana?
There has been steady resistance to the legalization of marijuana. One of the biggest reasons is the confusion between recreational marijuana, medical marijuana and CBD. Medical marijuana is under the jurisdiction of individual states and allows Medical Doctors to utilize this product for pain relief, some eye disorders and other health challenges. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-medical hemp product approved in all fifty states as a health improvement nutritional supplement. This general resistance usually comes from older and/or more conservative people who view marijuana from only one perspective; it's use as a recreational drug. Many younger people see this as hypocrisy since alcohol and tobacco are legal and cause more problems in terms of ill health, lost productivity and death than marijuana could possibly cause. In addition to this general, albeit confused, resistance, there are other specific groups who are opposed to the legalization of marijuana, and remember, most of their reasons also do not properly distinguish between recreational use and medical use.
Cigarette Makers and Sellers - Unless the existing cigarette industry can control the marijuana industry, they will always lobby against it because they fear the loss of some of their huge profits from the sale of cigarettes.
Alcohol Makers and Users - This group will resist for the same reasons as the cigarette industry. If people switch from alcohol to marijuana use, there is a potential loss of millions, or even billions, of dollars in profits.
Prisons - Prisons are an economic growth industry for many communities and thousands of workers. Marijuana accounts for more than half of all drug arrests in the country. If recreational marijuana were legalized, all of these arrests and imprisonments would disappear. Private prisons would lose money, jobs would be lost and communities dependent on these jobs would suffer economically.
It also stands to reason that prison employee unions would also lobby against the legalization of marijuana.
Police Unions - Police also benefit from the illegal status of marijuana. About 1 million arrests each year involve the possession of marijuana. If marijuana were legalized, then there could be a reduced need for police officers and federal drug enforcement officers to search for marijuana growers, importers and users. Farmers would be licensed and prices would be stabilized, making this illegal industry far less viable.
Pharmaceutical Companies - If medical marijuana is proven to be as effective, inexpensive and safe as existing science is indicating, then many prescription and over-the-counter medications will no longer be necessary. This could cost big pharma billions, if not trillions, of dollars in profits.
Doctors, Hospitals and Insurance Companies - If some diseases were able to be treated more safely, effectively, and at less cost, the entire medical industry would have fewer high cost tests and treatments, leading to a dramatic loss of patients and profit.29
As usual, a proven health advancement is being resisted by special interests and a lack of clarity about its many benefits. It took years to gain the acceptance of prenatal vitamins, causing many babies to be born with birth defects and many mothers and babies to die unnecessarily. Co-enzyme Q10 can help prevent heart disease, reverse kidney disease and slow the advance of Parkinson's Disease. And vitamin D3 can help prevent breast cancer. All of these scientifically proven natural health benefits have been facing stiff resistance from special interests for years. Many millions of people will suffer and die prematurely due to the resistance to these and other similar health and medical breakthroughs.
Medical marijuana, cannabis, CBD and CBN have joined this list of evidence-based health solutions that are being resisted due to ignorance or greed or both. Patient advocates, scientists, progressive doctors and courageous media people are now working fairly independently to help advance the use of medical cannabis. If they could combine and better coordinate their efforts, perhaps medical marijuana, in all of its proven forms, could move forward much faster and spare the unnecessary suffering, pain and expense that is caused by the pursuit of profit over the health and welfare of our population.
- Mercola, Joseph, 2015. Top US Doctor Says Medical Marijuana May Help Some Conditions. Dr. Joseph Mercola's web site online, Feb. 17, 2015.
- Costa, Barbara, et al.2007. The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Science Direct online. Originally from European Journal of Pharmacology 556 (2007) 75-83.
- Mercola, Joseph, 2015. Top US Doctor Says Medical Marijuana May Help Some Conditions. Dr. Joseph Mercola web site online, Feb. 17, 2015.
- Ditchfield, Jeff and Thomas Mel, 2014. The Medical Cannabis Guidebook: The Definitive Guide To Using and Growing Medicinal Marijuana. Green Candy Press, San Francisco, CA.
- Schwartz, Carly, 2014, Marijuana Drastically Shrinks Aggressive Form Of Brain Cancer, New Study Finds. Huffington Post online.
- M Guzmán, M J Duarte, C Blázquez, J Ravina, M C Rosa, I Galve-Roperh, C Sánchez, G Velasco and L González-Feria. A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. British Journal of Cancer (2006) 95, 197–203. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603236
- M. van der Stelt, W. B. Veldhuis, P. R. Bär, G. A. Veldink, J. F. G. Vliegenthart, and K. Nicolay. Neuroprotection by Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, the Main Active Compound in Marijuana, against Ouabain-Induced In Vivo Excitotoxicity. The Journal of Neuroscience, 1 September 2001, 21(17): 6475-6479;
- Paola Massi, Angelo Vaccani, Stefania Ceruti, Arianna Colombo, Maria P. Abbracchio and Daniela Parolaro. Antitumor Effects of Cannabidiol, a Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoid, on Human Glioma Cell Lines. JPET March 2004 vol. 308 no. 3 838-845
- Sofía Torres, Mar Lorente, Fátima Rodríguez-Fornés, Sonia Hernández-Tiedra, María Salazar, Elena García-Taboada, Juan Barcia, Manuel Guzmán and Guillermo Velasco. A Combined Preclinical Therapy of Cannabinoids and Temozolomide against Glioma. Mol Cancer Ther January 2011 10; 90
- McAllister SD, Murase R, Christian RT, Lau D, Zielinski AJ, Allison J, Almanza C, Pakdel A, Lee J, Limbad C, Liu Y, Debs RJ, Moore DH, Desprez PY. Pathways mediating the effects of cannabidiol on the reduction of breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 May;133(1):401-4.
- Alessia Ligresti, Aniello Schiano Moriello, Katarzyna Starowicz, Isabel Matias, Simona Pisanti, Luciano De Petrocellis, Chiara Laezza, Giuseppe Portella, Maurizio Bifulco and Vincenzo Di Marzo. Anti-tumor activity of plant cannabinoids with emphasis on the effect of cannabidiol on human breast carcinoma. JPET May 25, 2006 106.105247
- María M Caffarel, Clara Andradas, Emilia Mira, Eduardo Pérez-Gómez, Camilla Cerutti, Gema Moreno-Bueno, Juana M Flores, Isabel García-Real, José Palacios, Santos Mañes, Manuel Guzmán and Cristina Sánchez. Cannabinoids reduce ErbB2-driven breast cancer progression through Akt inhibition. Molecular Cancer 2010, 9:196
- Luciano De Petrocellis, Dominique Melck, Antonella Palmisano, Tiziana Bisogno, Chiara Laezza, Maurizio Bifulco, Vincenzo Di Marzo. The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA Vol. 95, pp. 8375–8380, July 1998
- Preet A, R K Ganju, J E Groopman. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits epithelial growth factor-induced lung cancer cell migration in vitro as well as its growth and metastasis in vivo. Oncogene (2008) 27, 339–346; doi:10.1038
- Ramer R, Bublitz K, Freimuth N, Merkord J, Rohde H, Haustein M, Borchert P, Schmuhl E, Linnebacher M, Hinz B. Cannabidiol inhibits lung cancer cell invasion and metastasis via intercellular adhesion molecule-1. The FASEB J. 2012 Apr;26(4):1535-48. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-198184. Epub 2011 Dec 23.
- Preet A, Qamri Z, Nasser MW, Prasad A, Shilo K, Zou X, Groopman JE, Ganju RK. Cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, as novel targets for inhibition of non-small cell lung cancer growth and metastasis. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Jan;4(1):65-75. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0181. Epub 2010 Nov 19.
- Mimeault M, Pommery N, Wattez N, Bailly C, Hénichart JP. Anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects of anandamide in human prostatic cancer cell lines: implication of epidermal growth factor receptor down-regulation and ceramide production. Prostate. 2003 Jun 15;56(1):1-12.
- Juan A. Ramos, Fernando J. Bianco. The role of cannabinoids in prostate cancer: Basic science perspective and potential clinical applications. Indian J Urol. 2012 Jan-Mar; 28(1): 9–14.
- De Petrocellis L, Ligresti A, Schiano Moriello A, Iappelli M, Verde R, Stott CG, Cristino L, Orlando P, Di Marzo V. Non-THC cannabinoids inhibit prostate carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo: pro-apoptotic effects and underlying mechanisms. British Journal of Pharmacology 2013 Jan;168(1):79-102. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02027.x.
- Gustafsson Kristin, Christensso Birger, Sander Birgitta, Flygare Jenny. Cannabinoid Receptor-Mediated Apoptosis Induced by R(+)-Methanandamide and Win55,212-2 Is Associated with Ceramide Accumulation and p38 Activation in Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Molecular Pharmacology November 2006 vol. 70 no. 5 1612-1620
- Gustafsson Kristin, Wang Xiao, Severa Denise, Eriksson Maeve, Kimby Eva, Merup Mats, Christensson Birger, Flygare Jenny, Sander Birgitta. Expression of cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 in non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Growth inhibition by receptor activation. International Journal of Cancer 1 September 2008, Volume 123, Issue 5, pages 1025–1033
- Jia W, Hegde VL, Singh NP, Sisco D, Grant S, Nagarkatti M, Nagarkatti PS. Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol-induced apoptosis in Jurkat leukemia T cells is regulated by translocation of Bad to mitochondria. Mol Cancer Res. 2006 Aug;4(8):549-62.
- Whyte DA, Al-Hammadi S, Balhaj G, Brown OM, Penefsky HS, Souid AK. Cannabinoids inhibit cellular respiration of human oral cancer cells. Pharmacology. 2010;85(6):328-35. doi: 10.1159/000312686. Epub 2010 Jun 2.
- Vara D, Salazar M, Olea-Herrero N, Guzmán M, Velasco G, Díaz-Laviada I. Anti-tumoral action of cannabinoids on hepatocellular carcinoma: role of AMPK-dependent activation of autophagy. Cell Death Differ. 2011 Jul;18(7):1099-111. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2011.32. Epub 2011 Apr 8.
- Arkaitz Carracedo, Meritxell Gironella, Mar Lorente, Stephane Garcia, Manuel Guzmán, Guillermo Velasco, and Juan L. Iovanna. Cannabinoids Induce Apoptosis of Pancreatic Tumor Cells via Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress–Related Genes. Cancer Res July 1, 2006 66; 6748
- Mercola, Joseph, 2015. Top US Doctor Says Medical Marijuana May Help Some Conditions. Dr. Joseph Mercola's web site online, Feb. 17, 2015.
Modern medicine often can perform marvels in treatment at the hospital, no doubt about it. Likewise, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals frequently can save us from conditions that in a previous century would have been fatal. Missing, however, as most of us can attest either from personal experience or from having witnessed the post-hospital recovery of relatives and friends, are good options for supporting healing and recovery once medical treatments are over. “Taking it easy” in terms of exertion and food choices (“regular diet” or “special diet” as required) too often is the limit of available advice. Those interested in a catalog of standard medical advice might consult, “Managing the Adverse Effects of Radiation Therapy” at http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/0815/p381.html. Conspicuously absent are solutions for the fatigue that is characteristic of recovery from chemotherapy and radiation.
Traditional medical systems around the world are much more focused on convalescence from illness and injury. Broths and soups are at home in European traditions, of course. In Indian and Chinese culture these variously are enriched with special herbs and spices. For instance, the Ayurvedic tradition makes use of a rice and dahl (yellow lentil) dish called kicharee that is prepared fresh daily for convalescence. This meal can be quite varied, yet typically contains a little ghee, onions, garlic, ginger and a variety of mild warming and digestive herbs and spices, with vegetables added to taste and as the patient grows stronger. Chinese tradition suggests chicken and meat/bone broths, soups and stews along with certain herbs, such as wolfberry, angelica, ginger, jujube (a special date), and so forth. Indeed, in Chinese medicine tonification to match various conditions is a sophisticated science. (See, for instance, http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/lifestyles/tcmrole_bufa.html) A section below discusses a really quite remarkable representative of this tradition: tai li wang mulberry and sea-buckthorn beverage concentrate. This ancient formula addresses some of the key weaknesses experienced by individuals who have undergone chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
Chemotherapy and Radiation: Why Is Recovery So Hard?
Chemotherapy and radiation are based in large part on the greater susceptibility of cancer cells to damage than is true of normal cells. Cancerous tissues have certain metabolic advantages over healthy tissues that allow them to grow faster and to cannibalize surrounding tissues to feed themselves. This sometimes is called the “Warburg effect” after the Nobel Prize winner who first described it. Cancer’s growth advantage comes with certain downsides, such as greater susceptibility to damage by free radicals and many toxins. Chemotherapy works in part by being more toxic to cancer cells than to normal cells. Radiation treatments work similarly and also can act essentially as “surgery by another means.” In either case, there is lasting damage to basic health. Normal, yet faster growing tissues, which include the tissues that make up the digestive tract, can be affected with implications for digestion. More than just taste and smell change under such circumstances. The fundamental nutritional needs of the body may not be met in important ways with implications for the nervous and immune systems. Today, gut-brain and gut-immune interactions are rapidly expanding areas of research as scientists try to unravel the links of the digestive system to other aspects of health.
There are yet other pieces to the puzzle. Researchers have had difficulty in pinpointing just why chemotherapy and radiation treatments are so lasting in their negative effects despite what seemingly should be adequate rest and nutrition. A paper published in 2014 may have solved at least some of this riddle. Interestingly, the answer goes back to a part of the body always considered to be a fundamental source of basic life energy and the ability of the body to renew itself: the marrow of the bones.
A key element is hematopoietic stem cells, which are cells created and stored initially in the bone marrow and which give rise to not only new red blood cells, but also to many types of immune cells. In fact, in their normal state hematopoietic stem cells from the blood and marrow appear to be ordinary white blood cells. Nevertheless, when called upon, these self-renewing cells also renew countless blood and immune cells. The U.S. National Institutes of Health on the Internet provide extensive and useful information regarding stem cells and interested readers should make use of such tools for further knowledge.
Ionizing radiation, such as that used in oncology treatments, can cause extensive fatalities among hematopoietic stem cells. In some cancer treatments, the damage to the hematopoietic stem cell population can be so extensive that cells and marrow must be transplanted from healthy donors. Unfortunately, to paraphrase an observation from industry, generally “original equipment” works best. This observation goes beyond radiation treatment because it is not just radiation that damages these cells. Chemotherapy and aging also damage hematopoietic stem cells.
Back to that 2014 paper: One challenge to the renewal of hematopoietic stem cells that is particularly linked to exposure to chemotherapy and radiation appears to be a reduction in the level of a particular protein that is necessary for hematopoietic stem cell renewal and activation. University of San Diego researchers, using an animal model, discovered that mice deficient in the protein beta-catenin lacked the ability to activate a pathway known as Wnt signaling. This failure led to impaired hematopoietic stem cell regeneration and poor bone marrow recovery after radiation. The result was a much-reduced rate of overall recovery inasmuch as there was reduced production of red blood cells and immune cells.
Damaged hematopoietic stem cells thus are a major aspect of reduced immune function and join other factors that have been identified in depressed immune function, such as damaged and non-responsive immune memory cells, cells whose very presence depresses the body’s ability to renew itself and to respond to immune challenges. This issue was discussed briefly in the February 2015 issue of Total Health under the heading, “Caloric Restriction, Fasting and Nicotinamide Riboside. ” Since the publication of that essay, new modified fasts have become available for those who cannot tolerate going three to four days with only water for sustenance. The research team that did much of the pioneering work on this topic has published instructions on how to perform a series of five-day fasts that can achieve most of the results of the original program with less strain and inconvenience.
Tai Li Wang: An Ancient TCM Herbal Solution
Fasting helps renew the immune system and hematopoietic stem cells by causing damaged and badly programed cells to be removed from the system. This approach resembles the employment of fasting in the Ayurvedic tradition to “activate the fundamental digestive fire (agni) of the body” to cleanse impurities/toxins that otherwise cannot be destroyed. However, fasting is not itself a solution to many aspects of poor digestive health, reduced adrenal function and the need for nutrition that supports the production of new blood and immune cells. These basic challenges characterize the typical impact of chemotherapy and radiation on health and contribute to the chronic nature of the fatigue and reduced immune function that are aftermaths of these treatments. For these purposes, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a number of sophisticated tonification therapies. One of the very best is the fermented herb mixture known as Tai Li Wang.
Tai Li Wang is a traditional Chinese herbal formula that some argue was created during the Warring States Period (475– 221 B.C.). As is true of many such “secret” formulas throughout Chinese history, it is difficult to trace back the actual history of the formula, which was first made “public” only in 1857 and has been officially approved by the Chinese Department of Health since 1992. Today, Tai Li Wang is registered in Hong Kong as a Tradition Chinese Herbal Medicine and is available in a number of hospitals in South China. Sea buckthorn and wolfberry are two of the primary ingredients, which provides a hint at the age and origin of the formula. It was during the Warring States Period that the Great Wall was begun and that Chinese civilization entered into extensive interchange with Central Asia. Sea buckthorn and wolfberry both are native to what today is the mountainous area of Tibet and Sinkiang in far Western China, but for much of the last 3,000 years was part of various Central Asian states. Moreover, this is a fermented formula and fermentation was practiced mostly in Western and Northern China due to the harsh winters. Hence, the formula most likely originated in Central Asia and entered China during this early period of contact.
Also referred to as a mulberry and sea-buckthorn beverage concentrate to reflect its two most prominent ingredients, Tai Li Wang is suggested for individuals under stress, including mental and physical stress, those recovering from surgery or illness, requiring a large nutritional boost, individuals suffering gastrointestinal problems, and those looking for an anti-aging tonic. Other ingredients include black sesame, black plum, goji, Buddha’s hand, Chinese white olive, fu ling, chrysanthemum and jujube.
Fermentation is an important aspect of the preparation of the herbs. Not only does fermentation protect and concentrate actives from the herbs, but it also leads to the formation of new beneficial compounds not initially present. The flavor of the drink is acidic or vinegar-like.
Employing classic TCM terminology, it is said that the Tai Li Wang formula Tonifies and rights the qi, enriches and nourishes the liver and kidneys, nourishes the blood and boosts the essence, moistens the lungs and relieves coughing, fortifies the spleen and harmonizes the stomach, disperses food and transforms stagnation, astringes the intestines and relieves diarrhea, quiets the heart and calms the nerves, engenders the liquids and quenches thirst, soothes the throat and relieves coughing.
Westerners usually are not familiar with TCM terminology and phrasing, yet the meaning of the above is not as obscure as at first it might seem. Briefly, the herbal tradition maintains that Tai Li Wang improves energy, supports the liver and kidney functions, increases blood components and supports their roles, is detoxifying, improves digestion and digestive functions (including being useful in both constipation and diarrhea), and is calming, including aiding sleep. In short, the formula is strengthening and balancing to the metabolism. Those who have tried Tai Li Wang (the flavor is challenging) can attest that some of its effects are realized within two or three days. For instance, the detoxifying and normalizing benefits for the gastrointestinal tract appear quickly. The stool becomes darkened, even tarry, indicating bile release (the body disposes of most toxins via the bile), yet at the same time there is a normalizing effect on stool consistency. Hence, there is a physical indication of a rapid impact on gut function, water balance and almost certainly a profound impact on the gut microbiome.
With regard to recovery after chemotherapy and radiation, supporting digestion, bowel function and detoxification provides a necessary and significant foundation. These medical treatments create various toxins as a result of free radical production and overt tissue damage while at the same time inhibiting the normal clearance mechanisms. Likewise, one reason for the weight loss that is characteristic of chemotherapy and radiation, apart from the loss of appetite, taste and smell, is that the body goes into overdrive in its attempts to repair the damage to normal tissues and quite literally cannot keep pace with the rate of destruction or the demands for removing damaged materials from the system.
Next in importance after the support of the gastrointestinal foundation of detoxification and health is Tai Li Wang’s impact on blood components. As noted above, chemotherapy and radiation destroy large numbers of hematopoietic stem cells, thus leaving the body lacking in precisely those cells necessary to renew both red blood cells and many types of immune cells. Supporting a return to health in these areas is exactly the benefit described by TCM with the phrase, “nourishes the blood and boosts the essence.” Not just many medical treatments, but, similarly, chronic excessive physical exertion and aging reduce the ability to renew the blood and immune cells. Experience from animal experiments and human clinical practice demonstrates that the TCM characterization is correct, that there is an increase in red blood cells and immune function without any danger of a rise in inflammatory responses. For instance:
… LACA mice of different ages given 12.5 g/kg of a mulberry decoction … by gavage daily for ten days in succession experienced marked increases in T-lymphocytes. The mulberry decoction acted as a moderate trigger for lymphocyte transformation. Rosette test results on mice showed that black plum increased immunity in domestic rabbits. Immunity testing (SOI) of super optimal doses of sheep red blood cells (SRBC) showed that suitable doses of goji polysaccharides significantly regulated suppressor T cells (Ts) in geriatric mice while increasing Ts activity. Pachyman strengthened immunity in regular and tumor-bearing mice and strengthened the macrophage phagocytic function in mice, resulting in significantly higher counts of antibody secretory cells in the spleen and increased ANAE positive lymphocyte counts in tumor-bearing mice. This served to antagonize the thymic atrophy….
In short, Tai Li Wang is an interesting fermented nutritional beverage that supports many physiological functions according to Traditional Chinese Medical categories, modern experiments and clinical usage in South China.
Despite tremendous medical advances, allopathic medicine has not done a good job in addressing the needs of recovery after chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Chemotherapy and radiation cause lasting damage to the body, including to the ability of the gastrointestinal system and supporting organs to eliminate toxins and derive nutrients from food. Likewise, these treatments are detrimental to hematopoietic stem cells, the cells that are necessary for the renewal of red blood cells and many types of immune cells. The fermented Chinese herbal beverage known as Tai Li Wang, according to both animal work and clinical practice, offers an approach to nutritionally supporting healing and recovery that brings an ancient discovery to the modern world.
- Lento W, Ito T, Zhao C, Harris JR, Huang W, Jiang C, Owzar K, Piryani S, Racioppi L, Chao N, Reya T. Loss of â-catenin triggers oxidative stress and impairs hematopoietic regeneration. Genes Dev. 2014 May 1;28(9):995–1004.
- “‘Fasting-mimicking diet’ may promote health and longevity,” June 21, 2015 found at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295647.php
- “Researchers Discover Fasting Can Significantly Prolong Life,” June 25, 2015 at http://readynutrition.com/resources/researchers-discover-fasting-can-significantly-prolong-life_25062015/
- Hong Kong] Application For Registration Of Proprietary Traditional Chinese Medicine, Pharmacological Effects Report: Pharmacological Effects Report for “Tai Li Wang” Mulberry and Sea-buckthorn Beverage Concentrate.
Given the increase in pathogens everywhere (bacterial, fungal, parasitic and viral), it is time to consider natural antibiotic alternatives that are without the negative side effects of pharmaceutical compounds. After years of downplaying the dangers of excessive use of antibiotics, the AMA has recently issued some important directives. To avoid the creation of an even greater number of highly resistant super germs, it is now believed that it is imperative for practitioners to be taught to use antibiotics far more sparingly. Given this current admonition, coupled with the fact that antibiotic use, aside from it's oral ingestion, is plentifully found and ingested via our food chain (poultry, fish, meats, eggs and dairy), a broad spectrum natural substance such as grapefruit seed extract (GSE) can be used widely and effectively.
Determining Antibiotic Efficacy:
Allen Sachs, D.C., C.C.N., author of The Authoritative Guide to Grapefruit Seed Extract, enumerates the following criteria for delineating the ideal antibiotic: "It must have broad spectrum application, be powerful and effective, non-toxic, have minimal impact on beneficial bacteria, be well researched, derived from natural sources, hypo-allergenic, biodegradable, compatible with other natural remedies and affordable." Considering that grapefruit seed extract meets all these specifications, Dr. Sachs notes it has proven itself safe, effective and non-toxic for topical and internal use with far-reaching internal, industrial and domestic application.
Application of grapefruit seed extract:
The diverse germicidal use of grapefruit seed extract would fill a recipe book. Indeed one finds GSE a diverse and indispensable function in the kitchen, suitable domestically and commercially as a sanitizer (for dishes and utensils), produce wash, adjunct ingredient to dish soaps and natural disinfecting solutions for counter tops, floors, sinks and refrigerators. Butcher blocks, a seedbed for harboring food-borne pathogens (salmonella bacteria), are easily sanitized by washing and then applying a 10-20 drop solution of GSE (diluted with water). Work it into the board with a damp sponge, leave it on for at least five minutes or just leave it to dry without rinsing.
Its benign aroma is an added feature, particularly for those with chemical sensitivities who find grapefruit seed extract a viable and pleasant alternative to the noxious fumes and reactions (skin, olfactory, lung) of commercial chemicals such as chlorinated compounds.
Bathroom Bugs and Toiletries:
Invisible predators lurk in nooks and crannies, particularly in restrooms. As an all-purpose disinfectant, 30-60 drops of grapefruit seed extract per 32 ounce spray bottle can be used alone or in combination with natural all-purpose cleaners to sanitize commodes, sinks, shower stalls, bathtubs and wastebaskets. The customary fumes emitted from grout cleaners, ammoniated compounds (glass and floor cleaners), and the multiple toxic chemical compounds used to clean bathrooms make this non-toxic approach favorable for anyone (in the workplace, at home, those with young children, around the aged, those with compromised lung problems or chemical sensitivities) who wants to preserve his/her health. Additionally, GSE 's economical virtues (reasonable price) enable one to reduce a cabinet full of chemicals in favor of a basic soap and natural disinfecting agent. Using powerful chemicals (like drugs) to control a situation is not necessarily the optimal way when a less toxic, non-invasive approach can be accessed without paying health consequences.
As a toiletry mainstay, GSE offers extensive and practical daily application (domestically and for travel). In liquid form GSE drops can be used in water piks as a germ-killing additive to destroy bacteria that cause plaque and gingivitis. Three drops added to five or six ounces of water is a basic oral rinse recipe. Put a drop of grapefruit seed extract on your toothbrush along with your regular natural toothpaste for added germ-killing effect.
Given the variety of grapefruit seed extract products currently available in the health market, a basic GSE toiletry arsenal includes gum cleanser (for disinfecting and relieving sore gums), ear drops, nail drops (for hand and toenail fungus) and foot powder (a superb alternative to commercial talcum powder). Applying grapefruit seed extract nail drops and using GSE in liquid soap (instead of an antimicrobial soap which destroys both friendly and unfriendly bacteria) is one healthy approach to maintaining hand/nail hygiene. GSE antifungal foot powder, aside from its application for athlete's foot, can be used as a deodorizing powder and overall body powder even for infants (to alleviate diaper rash). As a facial cleanser two to three drops of grapefruit seed extract with water or mixed with your favorite natural facial cleanser provides added antiseptic benefits. GSE herbal spray such as Imhotep's Ouch and Itch spray has versatile antiseptic utility as a deodorant or as a relief aid for poison oak/ivy, bug bites, sunburn, razor burn and scratches. GSE herbal throat relief spray (a mixture of herbs and GSE) can be carried in your purse or travel bag to soothe those unexpected throat tickles that occur at the most inconvenient times. GSE feminine douche is a viable alternative to the chemically laden, perfumed commercial versions.
A quick caveat about deodorants; grapefruit seed extract is not an antiperspirant. Rather it kills the bacteria, the source of odor. It does not impede sweating. From a health perspective it is unhealthy to block lymph channels from perspiring toxins which the body is eliminating. The skin, the body's largest organ for elimination, must be encouraged to breathe and excrete poisons. Minimizing offensive odors is the goal here, not sacrificing one's health for social etiquette. The commercial marketing caption "never let them see you sweat" convinces the public to sacrifice health for ego's sake. Would you control incontinence by plugging the urethra to avoid embarrassment? Would you sew the rectum closed to avoid eliminating at an inconvenient time? Often confined in foxholes for days, even our special armed forces catheterize themselves during intervals to facilitate elimination-graphically gruesome comparisons but they are on target. Blocking sweat glands is reckless and dangerous.
If you travel routinely, consider including GSE drops or caps in your travel bag. Treat any drinking water with a few drops and use judiciously as a preventative measure against unwanted parasitic visitors that take refuge in your food entrees and beverages. This practice should ward off Montezuma's revenge or traveler's diarrhea. A pocket-size spray bottle filled with pure water, a few GSE drops, some lavender oil and tea tree oil (test for sensitivity) makes a quick and easy natural antiseptic hand cleaner when lavatory facilities aren't readily accessible.
A discourse on grapefruit seed extract would be incomplete without addressing its pivotal role in controlling Candida proliferation. As an opportunistic fungus, Candida albicans is quickly becoming a household word. Normally inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract, mouth and throat, its overgrowth is responsible for debilitating symptoms ranging from oral thrush to leaky gut syndrome with simultaneous compounding emotional symptoms including depression and mood swings. Leo Galland, M.D. notes a twofold benefit (tolerance and effectiveness) using GSE instead of conventional antifungals (nystatin, amphotericin).
Canadian naturopath, Dr. David Bayley, finds GSE simpler to regulate (dosages) than other anti-yeast compounds, without the unpleasant after taste-an asset for any age group. He notes both its efficacy and economic virtues make it a desirable product. Although grapefruit seed extract leaves no aftertaste, it is still "the taste you love to hate," according to Dr. William Kellas. To camouflage the acrid flavor, GSE can be mixed with juice. Undiluted, its bitter taste may leave you puckering for hours.
Jay Gordon, M.D., recommends a dilution ratio of five drops per four ounces of water as a baby bottom "wash" with each diaper change. Dr. Gordon uses a similar dilution for treating refractory diaper rashes and oral thrush in children.
Institutional application for grapefruit seed extract
As an alternative to conventional toxic chemicals, GSE is an effective and safe alternative for use in humidifiers (a source of algae and molds that increases susceptibility to upper respiratory infections) and as a germicide and chlorine alternative in the laundry (chlorine bleach destroys most organisms). In South American swimming and bathing facilities (including hot tubs and Jacuzzi) GSE extract commonly replaces bactericides, algaecides and fungicides. Noxious chlorinated bubbles and skin irritation are bypassed when substituted with GSE. When water clarity is not a priority, GSE can substitute for the aforementioned chemicals by itself, otherwise a combination of the two (grapefruit seed extract and chlorine) can be used simultaneously, since clouded water turbidity lacks eye appeal.
As a sanitizing agent in hospitals, grapefruit seed extract is a premiere additive for hospital laundry, resulting in linens that are bacteria and fungi free. Laundry operations manager at The Florida Hospital, Jerry Skidmore, C.L.M., finds peace of mind knowing that after a 30-year residency in the laundry industry, he has full confidence in GSE's antibacterial/antifungal properties to maintain sanitary linens. Confidence in GSE's germicidal capabilities is expanding its horizons to include application in hospital carpet shampooing machines. Ten to 15 drops of GSE per gallon reservoir is sufficient to destroy commonly known hospital pathogens (staph, strep, salmonella and aspergillus).
It is timely for medical facilities to take advantage of this non-toxic antimicrobial in critical health care areas since nosocomial infections are increasingly prevalent. Operating rooms are using GSE at higher dilutions for disinfecting/sterilizing purposes. Clinics incorporate GSE in their inhalators as part of their protocol for modulating respiratory infections. No telling how rapid the list of applications will multiply over time for this innocuous, safe, environmentally-friendly germicide. Staff, patients and visitors all reap GSE's benefits by avoiding toxic chemicals in favor of a safe antimicrobial with both expansive and inexpensive application for use internally and externally. Additionally, GSE's efficacy is punctuated by showing no demonstrable resistance, in contrast to pharmaceutical antibiotics.
Future prospects for grapefruit seed extract:
The sisterhood of economics and politics mitigates expanding in vitro testing of GSE to include in vivo studies, particularly for viral testing. Whereas antiprotozoan (fungal and bacterial) testing has proven effective for GSE, quality testing for viral application is tedious, aside from its economical hindrances. On a positive note "Grapefruit Seed Extract Report" cites several viral related studies that could catapult GSE research into future limelight. Microbiology/virology and GSE researcher William Shannon, Ph.D., cites promising grapefruit seed extract effectiveness in deactivating herpes simplex virus l and influenza type A2 virus. A South American lab satisfactorily tested GSE against measles virus and the USDA determined that four animal viruses (avian influenza, swine vesicular disease, foot and mouth disease and African swine fever) succumbed to GSE's activity.
Despite the current absence of a large labor pool and matching monetary resources to fund GSE research, there is hope that GSE's innocuous yet potent antimicrobial and germicidal potential will elicit scientific interest. Public interest and consumer demand will drive the market to respond to our needs. Grapefruit seed extract researcher and associate professor Dr. Roger Wyatt points to grapefruit seed extract's promising future as a subject to be researched for a fundamental reason: "The lack of toxicological properties of grapefruit seed extract is also impressive when one views the efficacy data . . . extremely small concentrations of the product can be used with marked beneficial results." Given the impressive status and safety report, GSE's versatility could readily become a household and commercial standard ingredient. Its inherent selling features appeal to a wide audience-it is safe, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and it has broad spectrum anti- microbial and germicidal properties. Economics may be limiting it's research, but not it's availability nor it's utility in an era when the urgency for safe, efficacious germ inhibitors are at an all-time high.
Grapefruit seed extract should be handled cautiously at full strength. Avoid contact with eyes and skin. Avoid breathing vapors. Wash skin with water should GSE come in contact with skin directly. Bio/chem labs (manufacturers of Citricidal) notes this natural extractive is listed as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and has been tested in both human and animals. It is recognized as non-toxic and at dilutions up to two percent considered non-irritating. It is also non-corrosive. Always test a product for allergenicity and sensitivity.
Applications and Dilutions for Grapefruit Seed Extract
- Water pik: 3-4 drops GSE per reservoir.
- Oral rinse: 3 drops per 5 ounces of water.
- Toothbrush: l drop with or without toothpaste.
- Facial cleanser: 2-3 drops applied to fingertips and massaged onto a pre-moistened face.
- Skin disorders: 5-10 drops GSE mixed with l tablespoon of water applied to affected areas (athlete's foot, insect bites, skin irritations).
- Nasal rinse: l drop per 1-2 ounces of water. Spray into nostrils with head upright, using eye dropper or nasal sprayer.
- Dish/utensil sanitizer: 15-30 drops added to a sink of dishwashing water or to dishwasher.
- Laundry sanitizer: 10 drops per small load, 15 drops per large load. (Best results obtained when used in final rinse.)
- Traveler's diarrhea: 3-4 drops per 5 ounces of water taken daily as a preventative.
- Toothbrush sanitizer: 5-10 drops per glass of water. (Soak tooth brush a minimum of 10 minutes.)
- Sore throat: 3 drops GSE stirred into 5 ounces of water.(Use as a gargle.)
- Douche: 1-3 drops per 6-8 ounces of water. Douche once a day for one week.
- Scalp disorders (dandruff, etc.): 5-10 drops along with regular shampoo. (Massage into scalp. Leave it to set a few minutes. Rinse as usual.)
- Produce/meat/poultry wash: 30 drops per sink full of cold water. (Or spray wash [10 drops GSE per 32-ounce spray bottle] vegetables, fruits, poultry and meats to extend shelf life.)
- Cutting board sanitizer: 10-20 drops GSE applied to board after washing using, a wet sponge. (Let it sit five minutes. Rinse or leave it on without rinsing. Effective against a wide variety of microorganisms including salmonella.)
- All purpose disinfectant: 30-60 drops GSE per 32-ounce spray bottle mixed with water. (Use on sinks, commodes, countertops, fixtures, floors, in wastebaskets or any location that harbors or breeds germs.)
In her 1962 groundbreaking book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson wrote: “For the first time in the history of the world every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.” Of course humans have always been exposed to potentially harmful chemicals from plants and other sources, but Rachel Carson’s point is well taken. Modern living exposes all of us to an unprecedented number of chemicals on a daily basis. This includes environmental toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, industrial compounds and chemical byproducts, medications, cosmetic additives, inorganic chemicals, etc. These chemical substances, which are foreign to the biological system, are referred to as “xenobiotics.” The good news is that the body was designed to detoxify and excrete xenobiotics. The bad news is our bodies may not always be equipped to handle the volume of modern environmental pollutants and toxic substances. This problem may be exacerbated by the fact that the refining of many of our foodstuffs has caused them to provide considerably less of the nutrients that are essential to the detoxification process.1,2
Ramifications of toxic overload
The ramifications of toxic overload can vary from one individual to another. One possible ramification is multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). MCS is a condition in which a person experiences various symptoms in response to being exposed to certain types of chemicals, primarily (but not limited to) those of petroleum and coal-tar derivation. The possible symptoms are many and may include headaches, fatigue, depression and an overall feeling of malaise and being sick. MCS seems to develop after consistent, long-term exposure to certain chemicals at home or in the workplace. Eventually, the person develops intolerance to these chemicals, and starts suffering from MCS. For many MCS people, a sensitivity reaction will occur when exposed to even minute amounts of the offending chemicals, which in turn, can lead to severe symptoms characteristic of the MCS condition.3
Of course, an individual may suffer from toxic overload without having full-blown MCS. In fact, the most common symptom of toxic overload is probably fatigue. Other common symptoms include headache, muscle and joint pain, irritability, depression, mental confusion, gastrointestinal and/or cardiovascular irregularities, flu-like symptoms or allergic reactions including hives, stuffy or runny nose, sneezing and coughing.4,5
Furthermore, some researchers have suggested that toxic overload may contribute to autoimmune diseases including inflammatory and rheumatoid arthritis,6,7 and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.8
How to deal with toxic overload
The question of how to deal with toxic overload has a multi-part answer, which includes adapting to a healthier diet and reducing exposure to xenobiotics. The books Multiple Chemical Sensitivity by Gibson (2000, New Harbinger Publications, Inc.) and Staying Well in a Toxic World by Lawson (1993, The Nobel Press) provide good direction on how to do this. In addition there are four herbal teas, which if used correctly, may do much to help support and promote the body’s natural detoxification process. These teas include ginger root (rhizome), green tea, dandelion root and senna. Following is a discussion about the role that each of these herbal teas can play, including a subsequent explanation of how to use them as part of a detox program.
Circulation and ginger
Healthy circulation is of vital importance to an effective detoxification process.9 The fundamental reason for this is that toxins and metabolic wastes are flushed out of tissues and into circulation so they can be detoxified.10 If circulation is sluggish and toxins move more slowly through it, however, this may result in undesirable symptoms such as headache and fatigue.11
The root or rhizome (enlarged underground stem) of ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an herbal medicine that is valuable for the treatment of multiple problems, especially nausea. In fact, ginger has been reported to be effective in treating the nausea of seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy-induced nausea.12 Ginger is also a traditional carminative (gas relieving) herb,13 and has anti-inflammatory properties.14
For the purposes of detoxification, ginger is valuable since it promotes circulation, and has long been used for this purpose in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In fact, the most famous traditional medicinal practice of ginger is to promote the blood circulation for removing blood stasis and the mechanism is related to anti-platelet aggregation activity. In addition, ginger has a stimulatory action on heart muscle promoting circulation throughout the body. That increased circulation is thought to stimulate cellular metabolic activity.15,16
Liver detoxification pathways and green tea
Water-soluble toxins can pass through our bodies unchanged and be eliminated in the stool, sweat or urine. Fat-soluble toxins, however, cannot be excreted without undergoing metabolic transformation (detoxification) in the liver so that they can become water-soluble. Liver cells have sophisticated mechanisms to break down toxic substances. These include both endogenous (produced by the body) and exogenous (obtained from the environment; i.e., xenobiotics) substances. Every drug, chemical, pesticide and hormone, is broken down or metabolized via detoxification pathways in the liver called “phase 1” and “phase 2.” 17,18,19 During phase 1, a “functional group” is removed from the toxic molecule,20,21 and during phase 2 a water-soluble substance is coupled (attaching) or conjugated to the toxin. This makes the toxic molecule more water-soluble and therefore less toxic. If the molecule is large, it is then excreted via the bile. Otherwise, it is excreted in the urine.22,23
Green, Oolong and black tea are all made from the leaves of the same plant species, Camellia sinensis. Green tea, the world’s second most popular beverage after water, is perhaps best known for its antioxidant and thermogenic properties. It is the polyphenols in green tea, specifically the catechin polyphenols, which gives it biological and medicinal qualities.24
In fact, green tea polyphenols increase both phase 1 and phase 2 activities.25 Research shows that green tea may have liver protective properties.26,27,28,29 In addition, Green tea has been shown to block chromosomal (DNA) damage from chemicals in cigarette smoke.30 Perhaps not surprisingly, green tea polyphenols are associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers in humans.31 Other research has also shown an anticancer effect from these polyphenols,32 including an inhibition of metastasis in skin cancer cells.33 In short, the use of green tea helps improve phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification pathways.
Bile flow and dandelion root
Bile is a digestive aid for fats, produced by the liver and transported to the gallbladder where it is concentrated. It then passes through the common bile duct into the intestines where it helps digest fat.34 From the standpoint of detoxification, bile also has a function as previously stated: it serves as a vehicle for disposing of toxic molecules that are too large for disposal via urine.35,36 Essentially, those toxins just hitch a ride until they reach the intestines where they can ultimately be excreted.
Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) is a traditionally used liver herb that has been shown to help stimulate bile production and promote its flow.37,38 This supports the aforementioned detoxification process via the bile duct, promoting the elimination of wastes.39 In fact, Germany and other official European health agencies have approved the use of Dandelion root for disturbances in bile flow, and restoration of hepatic and biliary function.40
Intestinal waste elimination and senna
It is well understood that waste is excreted from the intestines or, more specifically, the colon. During this process, bile that was secreted into the intestines is also excreted. Since that bile also contains some toxins that hitched a ride, it makes sense to make sure that it does not linger for too long in the gut, otherwise some of the toxins may be re-absorbed (clearly not a good thing). Constipation is the most obvious cause of waste lingering too long in the gut.
Senna leaf (Senna alexandrina) is used extensively as a natural laxative, and has been shown in research to be effective for this purpose and for reducing constipation.41,42,43,44 Furthermore, when used appropriately on a short-term basis, senna has been shown to have a good safety profile.45,46 Sennosides, the active compounds in senna, are not absorbed, but instead are activated by bacterial enzymes in the colon.47 The result is that senna exerts its laxative effect by inducing fluid secretion, which increases colonic motility and colonic transit.48 In some instances, senna can cause abdominal pain and discomfort, cramps, and diarrhea;49,50 so it is important not to exceed recommended doses.
Directions on how to use the teas
Following are directions on how to use the herbal teas discussed in this article. First, make sure to use only organic teas since there is no point in adding additional toxins to the body in the form of pesticides that may have otherwise been sprayed on non-organic herbs. Second, assume that all of the teas should be made by adding one tea bag in a cup and adding eight ounces of boiling water. The steep time and number of servings will differ depending upon the herb (as indicated below):
As long as you steep the teas according to the times indicated, it is acceptable to consume them hot or cold (as iced tea). If you like, you can even mix the brewed ginger root, Green tea and dandelion root (but not the senna) into a single beverage to make it easier to drink. In either case, it will probably be more convenient for you to brew all of the tea for the day in the morning, rather than having to brew it at three different times during the day (unless you’d like to do it that way). In the case of senna, it would be best to brew and consume the single serving in the evening before bedtime.
These herbal teas can be used to support detoxification for as little as two weeks or for up to one month. A twice annual “Spring and Fall cleaning” is recommended.
The herbal teas discussed in this article are certainly not the only natural products capable of supporting and facilitating the detoxification process. Compounds from citrus fruit and the Brassica or cruciferous group of vegetables (e.g., cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc.), as well as the dietary supplement alpha lipoic acid are some examples of other effective detoxifying agents.51 Nevertheless, the teas discussed in this article can be effective adjuncts to a program for detoxification.
In addition, it would make good sense to eat a diet high in fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of liquids and get at least 25 grams of fiber per day to support overall detoxification. Finally, it should be noted that the use of these teas as part of a detoxification program are meant to be used for general health and wellness purposes. If you have a serious health condition, you should seek the help of a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about the process before starting a detoxification program.
- Rogers SA. Chemical Sensitivity: Breaking the Paralyzing Paradigm. Internal Medicine World Report 1992; February 1-14:15-16.
- Rogers SA. Chemical Sensitivity: Breaking the Paralyzing Paradigm. Internal Medicine World Report 1992; March 15-31: 8-31.
- Lawson L. Staying Well in a Toxic World. Chicago: The Nobel Press, Inc.; 1993.
- Lawson L. Staying Well in a Toxic World. Chicago: The Nobel Press, Inc.; 1993.
- Gibson PR. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.; 2000.
- Rooney PJ, Jenkins RT, Buchanan WW. A short review of the relationship between intestinal permeability and inflammatory joint disease. Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology 1990; 8(1):75–83.
- Smith MD, Gibson RA, Brooks PM. Abnormal bowel permeability in ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Rheumatology 1985; 12(2):299–305.
- Steventon, GB, Heafield MT, Sturman S, Waring RH, Williams AC. Xenobiotic metabolism in Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology, 1990;40(7):1095–8.
- Hyman M. Systems Biology, Toxins, Obesity, and Functional Medicine. Proceedings from the 13th International Symposium of The Institute for Functional Medicine. 2006:S134–9.
- Posadzki P, Smith TO, Lizis P. Lomi Lomi as a massage with movements: A conceptual synthesis? Altern Ther. 2009;15(6):44–9.
- Roundtree R. A functional approach to environmental toxins. Alternat Complement Ther. 2009;15(5):216–20.
- Ernst E, Pittler MH. Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. British Journal of Anaesthesia 2000; 84(3):367–71.
- Blumenthal M, et al, (eds), The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications;1998:425–26.
- Srivastava KC, Mustafa T. Med Hypotheses. 1992;39(4):342–8.
- Ghosh AK. Zingiber officinale: a natural gold. IJPBS. 2011;2(1):283–94.
- Zadeh JB, Kor NM. Physiological and pharmaceutical effects of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) as a valuable medicinal plant. Eur J Exp Biol. 2014;4(1):87–90.
- Murray Rk, Granner DK, Mayes PA, Rodwell VW. Harper’s Biochemistry, 25th ed. New York: McGraw Hill; 1999:780–6.
- Lüllmann H. Mohr K, Ziegler A, Bieger D. Color Atlas of Pharmacology, 2nd ed. Stuttgart: Thieme; 2000:32–9.
- Roundtree R. The Use of Phytochemicals in the Biotransformation and Elimination of Environmental Toxins. IN Medicines from the Earth 2003: Official Proceedings. Brevard, North Carolina: Gaia Herbal Research Institute;2003:115–128.
- Murray Rk, Granner DK, Mayes PA, Rodwell VW. Harper’s Biochemistry, 25th ed. New York: McGraw Hill; 200:780–6.
- Lüllmann H. Mohr K, Ziegler A, Bieger D. Color Atlas of Pharmacology, 2nd ed. Stuttgart: Thieme; 2000:32–9.
- Murray Rk, Granner DK, Mayes PA, Rodwell VW. Harper’s Biochemistry, 25th ed. New York: McGraw Hill; 200:780–6.
- Lüllmann H. Mohr K, Ziegler A, Bieger D. Color Atlas of Pharmacology, 2nd ed. Stuttgart: Thieme; 2000:32–9.
- Graham HN. Green tea composition, consumption, and polyphenol chemistry. Prev Med 1992;21:334–50.
- Stoner GD, Mukhtar H. Polyphenols as cancer chemopreventive agents. J Cell Biochem Suppl 1995; 22:169–80.
- Presser A. Pharmacist’s Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Petaluma, California: Smart Publications; 2000.
- Kuhn MA, Winston D. Herbal Therapy & Supplements: A Scientific & Traditional Approach. Philadelphia:Lippincott; 2000.
- Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Edinburgh;Churchill Livingstone; 2000.
- Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J (eds). Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs: Newton, Massachusetts;Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
- Shim JS, Kang MH, Kim YH, Roh JK, Roberts C, Lee IP. Chemopreventive effect of green tea (Camellia sinensis) amonth cigarette smokers. Cancer Epidemiol Biomakers Prev 1995; 4(4):387–91.
- Mukhtar H, Ahmad N. Green tea in chemoprevention of cancer. Toxicol Sci 1999;52(2 Suppl):111–7.
- Suganuma M, Okabe S, Sueoka N, et al. Green tea and cancer chemoprevention. Mutat Res 1999;428:339–44.
- Menon LG, Kuttan R, Kuttan G. Anti-metastatic activity of curcumin and catechin. Cancer Lett 1999;141:159–65.
- Afdhal NH. Diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011.
- Murray Rk, Granner DK, Mayes PA, Rodwell VW. Harper’s Biochemistry, 25th ed. New York: McGraw Hill; 2000:780-786.
- Vogel G. Natural substances with effects on the liver. In: Wagner H, Wolff P (eds). New Natural Products and Plant Drugs with Pharmacological, Biological or Therapeutic Activity. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag; 1977.
- Tierra M. International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 1997; February:23–5.
- Salmond S. Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism. 1997;9(1):14–8.
- Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J (eds). Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, Massachusetts: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:78–83.
- Godding EW. Laxatives and the special role of senna. Pharmacology 1988;36:230–6.
- Ramesh PR, Kumar KS, Rajagopal MR, et al. Managing morphine-induced constipation: a controlled comparison of an Ayurvedic formulation and senna. J Pain Symptom Manage 1998;16:240–4.
- Shelton MG. Standardized senna in the management of constipation in the puerperium: A clinical trial. S Afr Med J 1980;57:78-80.
- MacLennan WJ, Pooler AFWM. A comparison of sodium picosulphate (“Laxoberal”) with standardised senna (“Senokot”) in geriatric patients. Curr Med Res Opin. 1974;2:641–7.
- Godding EW. Laxatives and the special role of senna. Pharmacology 1988;36:230–6.
- Arezzo A. Prospective randomized trial comparing bowel cleaning preparations for colonoscopy. Surg Laparosc Endosc Percutan Tech. 2000;10:215–7.
- Godding EW. Laxatives and the special role of senna. Pharmacology 1988;36:230–6.
- Ewe K, Ueberschaer B, Press AG. Influence of senna, fibre, and fibre + senna on colonic transit in loperamide-induced constipation. Pharmacology 1993;47:242–8.
- Langmead L, Rampton DS. Review article: herbal treatment in gastrointestinal and liver disease--benefits and dangers. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2001;15:1239–52.
- Sondheimer JM, Gervaise EP. Lubricant versus laxative in the treatment of chronic functional constipation of children: a comparative study. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1982;1:223–6.
- Roundtree R. The Use of Phytochemicals in the Biotransformation and Elimination of Environmental Toxins. IN Medicines from the Earth 2003: Official Proceedings. Brevard, North Carolina: Gaia Herbal Research Institute; 2003:115–28.
Kathleen Barnes’ (LINK: www.kathleenbarnes.com) most recent book, Food Is Medicine: 101 Prescriptions from the Garden, is a comprehensive guide to the healing power of food, much of which you can grow in your own garden or buy at your local farmers market. Barnes offers food-based solutions to 101 health problems-ranging from the simplest—cuts and bruises, acne, insect bites or splitting nails—to the complex and serious ones, like diabetes, heart disease and cancer and dozens that fall in between.
Her early experience in the natural health movement began in the early ‘70s when, just out of college, Barnes’ friends and family thought she was “a little wacky” when she started talking about natural healing.
- Why brew a cup of sage tea when it was easier to take a swig of sugar- and drug-laden cough medicine?
- Why wrap an infected cut with chewed wood sorrel rather than slapping on a little triple antibiotic from a tube?
- Why chew a few fennel seeds or drink a cup of peppermint tea rather than take a Tums?
- Why compost kitchen scraps when it is so easy to buy a bag of compost at the big-box garden center?
- Why slave away under a hot sun, watering and weeding and battling bugs and blights, when a juicy tomato was as close as the local supermarket?
Why? Because all of these remedies and a simple lifestyle contribute to health and longevity, she told friends and family and anyone who would listen. Even when Barnes was in her twenties, health and longevity were her goals. More than 40 years later, they still are.
And, happily, in 2015, millions more have joined her “wacky” ways. Today, natural remedies are found on every drugstore shelf. Even the smallest of towns, like Barnes’ beloved mountain town of Brevard, NC, have thriving farmers’ markets, health food stores and cooperative gardens. Today, most of us are aware that eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily can prevent and even treat a host of diseases and illnesses. More and more of us are becoming aware of the importance of eating fresh wholesome local food that can keep us healthy, prevent disease and extend our lives. Many of us are trying to save money by growing our own food. Some of us even know the secrets of treating ailments and illnesses with herbs, fruits and vegetables.
In this book, Barnes makes those secrets common knowledge. She shares the road to good health through the freshest of fruits and vegetables, what she has learned about health and healing with the right foods grown the right way.
While she realizes it is not realistic in our time-pressured modern world to expect her readers to grow every fruit and vegetable mentioned in Food Is Medicine, she opens the door to the secrets of healing with everyday foods available to everyone close to home.
Publisher: Take Charge Books, Brevard, North Carolina
Around the holidays, we are reminded of the most famous gifts in history, frankincense and myrrh, carried by the wise men. Today, perfumes, incense and candles are often infused with these two wonderful aromas. Both frankincense and myrrh have medicinal properties, so holistic practitioners suggest these for patients as dietary supplements and essential oils for various ailments. But what exactly is frankincense and myrrh?
They are both gummy resins that are tapped from the inner bark of two different trees that grow in the Arabian peninsula, Africa and India. A resin to a tree, is akin to a scab on our skin, so clearly, these resins are more protective to the shrub than plain sap.
I'll focus on frankincense right now which is rich in "boswellic acids," an ingredient that has strong anti-inflammatory benefits. While shopping, you may see it as "frankincense" or "boswellia" and it comes as a liquid extract taken orally, or capsules as well as essential oils which are used on the skin or in aromatizers.
Boswellia herb is always in my home. I will often buy the ingestible powder at my local apothecary, grind it in my coffee grinder for 5 seconds, and then encapsulate the finely ground powder. You can certainly buy commercially-prepared brands of this, you don't have to hand-create it like me!
Boswellia has been studied and found to prevent the growth of certain types of cancers in 'test tube' studies. In 2009, researchers examined AKBA or "acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid" and found positive benefits. This study was titled, Frankincense Superior to Chemotherapy in Killing Late-Stage Ovarian Cancer Cells. This is not the first study to suggest anti-cancer properties. The results of another study proved that frankincense oil could help with bladder cancer. The researchers concluded, "Frankincense oil might represent an alternative intravesical agent for bladder cancer treatment."
Now, it's time for myrrh which is another resin extracted from the Commiphora myrrha tree. Research confirms the presence of guggulsterones in myrrh which may help with cholesterol ratios, specifically by lowering LDL. Guggulsterones are blood thinners so be careful and don't combine with aspirin, NSAIDs, warfarin or other blood thinners. One more thing, pregnant women should avoid myrrh since it's a uterine stimulant.
The essential oil of myrrh is used topically to soothe your skin and help with gingivitis. So profound is myrrh's ability to heal damaged tissues, Greek soldiers carried it into battle with them to use for skin infections and gangrene. Myrrh is a strong anti-bacterial, anti parasitic and antifungal. Just like it's relative frankincense, myrrh also possesses strong anti-cancer properties. A Chinese test tube study published in 2013, found that "cycloartane-type triterpernoids" could destroy prostate cancer cells. Pretty impressive! In fact, just inhaling the scent of pure frankincense or myrrh can cause your brain and heart to respond favorably. Centuries may go by, but it's clear that frankincense and myrrh are still a wise gift of health.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is one of those herbal medicines that have been in use for thousands of years. Steeped in wine, lemon balm was used in ancient Greek and Roman cultures for various medicinal purposes, including the treatment of wounds and to treat venomous bites and stings.1 These same uses also occurred in traditional Indian medicine.2 Furthermore, old European medical herbals report its memory-improving properties.3 Modern uses tend to be more in the area of lemon balm’s calming effects, as well as its properties in soothing gastrointestinal complaints, although there has been some research in the area of cognitive function and antioxidant protection against radiation. This article will discuss the internal uses of lemon balm.
Calming Effects of Lemon Balm Anxiety disorders are common in many Western countries, and conventional drugs like benzodiazepines are often prescribed to relieve anxiety. However, these drugs have worrisome short-term and long-term side effects. Nervine herbs (herbs that quiet nervous excitement) have a long history of traditional use in relieving anxiety, insomnia, and mild depression. Case in point, lemon balm is often used as a mild mood elevator and calming herb in people with anxiety. It has been shown to improve attention and calmness in healthy volunteers,4 and reduce agitation in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (see discussion below under “Cognitive function”).5
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, balanced-crossover study,6 18 healthy volunteers received two separate single doses of a standardized lemon balm extract (300 mg, 600 mg) and a placebo, on separate days separated by a 7-day washout period to assess laboratory-induced psychological stress. The results showed that the 600 mg dose improved the negative mood effects of the stress, with significantly increased self-ratings of calmness. In addition, a significant increase in the speed of mathematical processing, with no reduction in accuracy, was observed after ingestion of the 300 mg dose.
In Germany, lemon balm is licensed as a standard medicinal tea to help promote sleep. This is due to the fact that Germany’s Commission E (their version of the FDA for natural medicines) approved the use of lemon balm for nervous sleeping disorders.7 Likewise, ESCOP, the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (an umbrella organization representing national herbal medicine or phytotherapy [aka, herbal medicine] associations across Europe), lists tenseness, restlessness and irritability among the uses for lemon balm.8 Furthermore, Health Canada has approved lemon balm for traditional use as an herbal medicine sleep aid (in cases of restlessness or insomnia due to mental stress).9 In addition, combining lemon balm with valerian root has also been shown to have benefit in sleep disorders. A combination of 80 mg lemon balm leaf extract and 160 mg valerian root extract three times daily improved the quality and quantity of sleep in healthy people,10 while the same dose once or twice daily decreased symptoms in children under age 12 years who have pathological restlessness.11
Soothing gastrointestinal complaints
As with its calming effects, in Germany lemon balm is also licensed as a standard medicinal tea for gastrointestinal tract disorders and approved by Commission E for functional gastrointestinal complaints.12 Similarly, ESCOP lists for symptomatic treatment of digestive disorders, such as minor spasms, among its internal uses.13 Also, Health Canada has approved lemon balm for traditional use as an herbal medicine to help relieve digestive disturbances, such as dyspepsia.14 The approved modern therapeutic applications for lemon balm are supportable based on its long history of use in well-established systems of traditional medicine, on phytochemical investigations, and on its documented pharmacological actions reported in in-vitro studies and in-vivo experiments in animals.15
Lemon balm has also been used in clinical research along with other herbs for soothing gastrointestinal complaints. In one study, breast-fed infants with colic who were given 97 mg lemon balm, 164 mg fennel and 178 mg German chamomile twice daily for a week had reduced crying times compared to placebo.16 In another research, a 1 mL combination of lemon balm plus peppermint leaf, German chamomile, caraway, licorice, clown’s mustard plant, celandine, angelica, and milk thistle given orally three times daily over a period of four weeks to people with dyspepsia (i.e. indigestion) significantly reduced severity of acid reflux, epigastric pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting compared to placebo.17
Some laboratory research has shown that lemon balm has cholinergic-binding properties, which means that it may have some of the cognitive and memory promoting effects of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. To test this hypothesis, a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, balanced-crossover study18 was conducted to investigate the effects of lemon balm on cognition and mood in 20 healthy, young participants. Single doses of 300, 600 and 900 mg of lemon balm extract (or matching placebo) were used at 7-day intervals. Cognitive performance was assessed immediately prior to dosing and at 1, 2.5, 4 and 6 hours thereafter. Results demonstrated improvements in cognitive function, as well as “calmness” at the earliest time points by the lowest dose, while “alertness” was significantly reduced at all time points following the highest dose. Overall, these results suggest that low doses of lemon balm may enhance calmness and high doses may have a mild sedative effect. A follow-up study showed essentially the same results.19
In addition, a 4-month, parallel group, placebo-controlled trial20 was undertaken to assess the efficacy and safety of lemon balm extract (60 drops/day) in 42 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The results were that lemon balm extract produced a significantly better outcome on cognitive function than placebo, and those using lemon balm had significantly less agitation than those in the placebo group.
Antioxidant protection against radiation
Radiology staffs are exposed to persistent low-dose radiation during work. Consequently, a study21 was conducted to determine the capability of lemon balm tea to improve oxidative stress status in 55 radiology staff members. They were asked to drink lemon balm tea (made from a tea bag with 1.5g lemon balm leaf) for 30 days. Results showed that the lemon balm tea resulted in significant improvements in plasma levels of the antioxidant enzymes catalase, superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase. It also promoted a marked reduction in plasma DNA damage and lipid peroxidation. The researchers concluded that lemon balm tea markedly improved oxidative stress condition and DNA damage in radiology staff.
Lemon balm can be used in the following dosage forms, using the following dosages:
Brewed herbal tea:
1.5g lemon balm leaf, 1 - 3 times per day1
2 - 4g dried equivalent, 1 - 3 times per day (1:1, 45% ethanol, 2 - 4 ml or 60 drops)2,3
0.4 - 1.2g dried equivalent, 1 - 3 times per day (1:5, 45% ethanol, 2 - 6 ml)4
80 - 97mg in combination with other herbs (as previously described)5,6,7,8
In the case of its use as a calming agent as well as its properties in treating gastrointestinal complaints, administering lemon balm as a brewed herb offers the additional benefit of delivering the herb as a warm beverage, adding to its soothing qualities
- Blumenthal M (ed) et al. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:230–2.
- Nadkarni KM. Indian Materia Medica. Bombay: Popular Prakashan; 1976:786.
- Blumenthal M (ed) et al. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:230–2.
- Abascal K, Yarnell E. Nervine herbs for treating anxiety Altern Compliment Ther. 2004 December:309–15.
- Akhondzadeh S, Noroozian M, Mohammadi M, Ohadinia S, Jamshidi AH, Khani M. Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003 Jul;74(7):863–6.
- Kennedy DO, Little W, Scholey AB. Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm). Psychosom Med. 2004 Jul-Aug;66(4):607–13.
- Blumenthal M (ed) et al. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:230–2.
- ESCOP. Melissae folium. Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs. Exeter, U.K. European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy;1997.
- Monograph: Lemon Balm. Health Canada. Date Modified: 2008-3-17. Retrieved February 11, 2014 from http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpidbdipsn/monoReq.do?id=125&lang=eng.
- Cerny A, Shmid K. Tolerability and efficacy of valerian/lemon balm in healthy volunteers (a double blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study). Fitoterapia 1999;70:221–8.
- Muller SF, Klement S. A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine 2006;13:383–7.
- ESCOP. Melissae folium. Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs. Exeter, U.K. European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy;1997.
- Monograph: Lemon Balm. Health Canada. Date Modified: 2008-03-17. Retrieved February 11, 2014 from http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpidbdipsn/monoReq.do?id=125&lang=eng.
- Savino F, Cresi F, Castagno E, et al. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of a standardized extract of Matricariae recutita, Foeniculum vulgare and Melissa officinalis (ColiMil) in the treatment of breast-fed colicky infants. Phytother Res 2005;19:335-40.
- Melzer J, Rosch W, Reichling J, et al. Meta-analysis: phytotherapy of functional dyspepsia with the herbal drug preparation STW 5 (Iberogast). Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2004;20:1279-87.
- Kennedy DO, Scholey AB, Tildesley NT, Perry EK, Wesnes KA. Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm). Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002 Jul;72(4):953–64.
- Kennedy DO, Wake G, Savelev S, Tildesley NT, Perry EK, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. Modulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of single doses of Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding properties. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Oct;28(10):1871–81.
- Akhondzadeh S, Noroozian M, Mohammadi M, Ohadinia S, Jamshidi AH, Khani M. Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double-blind, randomized, placebocontrolled trial. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003 Jul;74(7):863-6.
- Zeraatpishe A, Oryan S, Bagheri MH, Pilevarian AA, Malekirad AA, Baeeri M, Abdollahi M. Effects of Melissa officinalis L. on oxidative status and DNA damage in subjects exposed to long-term low-dose ionizing radiation. Toxicol Ind Health. 2011 Apr;27(3):205–12.
- Monograph: Lemon Balm. Health Canada. Date Modified: 2008-03-17. Retrieved February 11, 2014 from http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpidbdipsn/monoReq.do?id=125&lang=eng.
- Monograph: Lemon Balm. Health Canada. Date Modified: 2008-03-17. Retrieved February 11, 2014 from http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpidbdipsn/monoReq.do?id=125&lang=eng.
- Akhondzadeh S, Noroozian M, Mohammadi M, Ohadinia S, Jamshidi AH, Khani M. Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double-blind, randomized, placebocontrolled trial. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003 Jul;74(7):863–6.
- Cerny A, Shmid K. Tolerability and efficacy of valerian/lemon balm in healthy volunteers (a double blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study). Fitoterapia 1999;70:221–8.
- Muller SF, Klement S. A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine 2006;13:383–7.
- Savino F, Cresi F, Castagno E, et al. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of a standardized extract of Matricariae recutita, Foeniculum vulgare and Melissa officinalis (ColiMil) in the treatment of breast-fed colicky infants. Phytother Res 2005;19:335–40.
- Melzer J, Rosch W, Reichling J, et al. Meta-analysis: phytotherapy of functional dyspepsia with the herbal drug preparation STW 5 (Iberogast). Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2004;20:1279–87.
Cold, influenza (flu) and sinusitis are three common upper respiratory conditions that affect a great many people. Besides being upper respiratory infections, they also have in common that three herbs (Andrographis, Eleuthero and Echinacea) have been shown to be effective in their treatment. This article will discuss the research associated with these herbs on the aforementioned conditions. First, however, let's have a brief review of the conditions.
Cold, flu and sinusitis
Most people contract one or more colds every year. Viruses that infect cells of the upper respiratory tract cause a cold. Since there are over 200 different species and strains of these viruses, a cold caused by one virus does not protect a person from catching a cold caused by a different one. This explains why colds can occur one after another or several times a year.1
Influenza, or "flu," is a highly contagious viral respiratory infection. It is caused by orthomyxovirus types A, B, and C, which are spread by direct person-to-person contact or by airborne droplet spray. Flu generally occurs in the late fall and early winter and can reach epidemic proportions when a modified form of the virus emerges for which the population has no immunity. All age groups are susceptible, but the prevalence is highest in school-age children. Its clinical manifestations often resemble a severe form of the common cold.2
Sinusitis is a swelling of one or more nasal sinuses. It is caused by bacteria (streptococci, staphylococci, pneumococci, Haemophilus influenzae); viruses (rhinovirus, influenza virus, parainfluenza virus); and fungi (aspergilli, Dematiaceae, Mucoraceae, Penicillium sp.). Onset frequently occurs after an acute respiratory infection but may also be triggered by a dental procedure or gum infection, allergic rhinitis, diving or swimming episode, or sudden drop in temperature.3
Andrographis has a history of use in both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.4 It contains a number of bitter constituents, which appear to have both immune-stimulating and anti-inflammatory activity.5 Double-blind studies have found that Andrographis may help reduce the severity of symptoms in individuals suffering from the common cold.6,7,8,9
In the very recent past, Eleuthero was commonly called "Siberian Ginseng." Although this name was botanically incorrect since Eleuthero is not even in the same genus (plant family) as Panax ginseng, it was an understandable appellation since many of its functions were the same. For example, like Panax, Eleuthero shows excellent adaptogenic activity (an adaptogen is an agent that helps the body adapt to stress). Russian explorers, divers, sailors, and miners also used Eleuthero to prevent stress-related illness.10 In addition, evidence also suggests that Eleuthero may prove valuable in the long-term management of various diseases of the immune system, including HIV infection and chronic fatigue syndrome.11 Referred to as ci wu jia in Chinese medicine, it was used to prevent respiratory tract infections, colds and flu.
Echinacea is an immune stimulant/supporter, and is excellent in the prevention and treatment of colds and influenza. Research suggests that Echinacea supports the immune system by activating white blood cells (lymphocytes and macrophages).12 In addition, Echinacea appears to increase the production of interferon, which is important to the immune response of viral infections.13 In any case, a number of double-blind, clinical studies have confirmed Echinacea's effectiveness in treating colds and flu.14,15,16,17,18 However, some research suggests that Echinacea may be more effective if used at the onset of these conditions.19,20
Besides colds and flu, Germany's Commission E Monographs (an internationally authoritative source of credible information on the use of herbs for various disorders) indicates that among Echinacea's uses, this herb can be used to treat chronic infections of the respiratory tract.21
Combining the herbs
Now that we've briefly reviewed what each of these herbs can do individually with regard to upper respiratory infections, let's see what some of them can do when combined together.
Treating the Flu: Andrographis & Eleuthero
In two randomized, parallel-group clinical studies22, patients diagnosed with influenza (540 patients and 66 patients, respectively) were treated with a combination of Andrographis and Eleuthero, or nothing at all (in the control group). In both studies, the differences in the duration of sick leave (7.2 days vs. 9.8 days in the control group) and frequency of post-influenza complications indicated that the Andrographis/Eleuthero combination contributed to quicker recovery and reduced the risk of post-influenza complications. The results showed that in Andrographis/Eleuthero-treated patients the symptoms had become less pronounced and the temperature had returned more rapidly to normal values, and symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, and conjunctivitis disappeared sooner than in patients of the control group.
Treating the Common Cold & More: Andrographis & Eleuthero
Two randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel group clinical trials were performed to investigate the effect of an Andrographis/Eleuthero combination in the treatment of uncomplicated upper-respiratory tract infections. This includes common cold, rhinitis, nasopharyngitis (Inflammation of the nasal passages and of upper sore throat) and pharyngitis (sore throat). There were 46 patients in one study, and 179 patients in another. In both studies, the total symptom score and total diagnosis score showed highly significant improvement in the Andrographis/Eleuthero group as compared with the placebo. Throat symptoms/signs, were found to show the most significant improvement. There was a 55 percent better improvement in the symptom score for the treatment group as compared with the placebo group.
Treating Upper Respiratory Infections & Sinusitis Andrographis & Eleuthero
A double blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group clinical study was carried out to evaluate the effect of an Andrographis/Eleuthero combination in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections, including sinusitis. Ninety-five individuals in the treatment group and 90 individuals in the placebo group completed the study according to the protocol. Temperature, headache, muscle aches, throat symptoms, cough, nasal symptoms, general malaise and eye symptoms were taken as outcome measures with given scores. The total score analysis showed a highly significant improvement in the Andrographis/Eleuthero combination group versus the placebo. The individual symptoms of headache and nasal and throat symptoms together with general malaise showed the most significant improvement while cough and eye symptoms did not differ significantly between the groups. Temperature was moderately reduced in the Andrographis/Eleuthero combination group. The authors of the study concluded that the Andrographis/Eleuthero combination had a positive effect in the treatment of acute upper respiratory tract infections and also relieved the inflammatory symptoms of sinusitis.
Treating the Common Cold: Andrographis & Eleuthero, and Echinacea
In this study, treatment with an Andrographis/Eleuthero combination was compared to treatment with an Echinacea purpurea extract, both together with a standard treatment for the common cold in 130 children aged between 4 and 11 years over a period of 10 days. The patients were assigned to one of the three groups. In the control group, 39 patients received only standard treatment. It was found that the treatment with the Andrographis/Eleuthero combination was significantly more effective than treatment with Echinacea when started at an early stage of uncomplicated common colds. The cold symptoms were less severe in the Andrographis/Eleuthero group, with benefits particularly pronounced in the amount of nasal secretion and congestion. Although Echinacea was not as effective as the Andrographis/Eleuthero combination in this study, it was still more effective than standard treatment alone.
Individually or in combination, Andrographis, Eleuthero and Echinacea have significant potential for treating upper respiratory infections, including colds, flu and sinusitis. For an acute infection, doses in the range of 340 mg Andrographis paniculata extract (providing 21 mg andrographolide and deoxyandrographolide), 39 mg Eleuthero extract (providing 2 percent total Eleutheroside B and Eleutheroside E) and 800 mg Echinacea purpurea herb extract, three times daily, will likely yield good results.
- Bruno G. Ailments & Natural Remedies. NewYork: Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge Publishing Corp.; 2001:75.
- Bruno G. Ailments & Natural Remedies. New York: Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge Publishing Corp.; 2001:103.
- Bruno G. Ailments & Natural Remedies. New York: Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge Publishing Corp.; 2001:195.
- Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs: Monographs for the Western Herbal Practitioner. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press; 1996:96-100.
- Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs: Monographs for the Western Herbal Practitioner. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press; 1996:96-100.
- Thamlikitkul V, Dechatiwongse T, Theerapong S, et al. Efficacy of Andrographis paniculata, Nees for pharyngotonsillitis in adults. J Med Assoc Thai 1991;74:437-42.
- Melchior J, Palm S, Wikman G. Controlled clinical study of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract in common cold-a pilot trial. Phytomedicine 1996;3:314-8.
- Hancke J, Burgos R, Caceres D, Wikman G. A double-blind study with a new monodrug Kan Jang: Decrease of symptoms and improvement in recovery from common colds. Phytother Res 1995;9:559-62.
- Cáceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, et al. Use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to assess the effectiveness of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract SHA-10 in reducing the symptoms of common cold. A randomized double blind-placebo study. Phytomedicine 1999;6:217-23.
Many physicians routinely prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to postmenopausal or even perimenopausal women. As a matter of fact, about 17.5 million American women were taking HRT in 1998, according to a national survey. HRT, however, is not without its health risks. Before discussing HRT risks and alternatives, let's first examine the rationale for HRT in association with menopause.
Menopause: Physiological Changes
Menopause refers to the stopping of menstruation and the end of the reproductive capacity of a woman. This event usually occurs around age 50 but may happen prematurely in some individuals before age 45 or artificially by the removal of the ovaries during a hysterectomy. As many as ten years before menopause, the ovaries begin to cease normal function. During this time, many basic physiological changes occur, including failure to ovulate; a decreased number of developing follicles and oocytes; a decreased level of the hormones estrogen and progesterone; and a rapid rise in follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), a pituitary hormone, as well as a gradual rise in luteinizing hormone (LH). These ovarian changes eventually result in the cessation of menstruation (amenorrhea) and infertility. In the years before menopause a woman may have irregular uterine bleeding, heavy enough in some instances to produce anemia. Postmenopausal bleeding indicates a need for immediate medical attention, because the incidence of uterine or cervical cancer after menopause ranges from 15 to 30 percent of women.
Most symptoms that occur during menopause result directly from the estrogen deficiency produced by the failing ovaries. It can be difficult to distinguish these symptoms from those caused by the normal aging process or from the social and domestic pressures faced by middle-aged women. Physical symptoms include hot flashes, night sweating, and tension or migraine headaches. These temporary symptoms contribute to the overall irritability and insomnia that normally occurs during this time. Osteoporosis, caused by severe or prolonged bone loss as a result of estrogen deficiency, affects 35 percent of women after a natural menopause. Psychological symptoms of menopause may include anxiety, depression, irritability, diminished energy, difficulty with concentration, and tension. Many women experience heightened libido after menopause because they know they can no longer get pregnant. However, emotional problems can cause a decline in sexual activity in some women.
The Benefits of HRT
Conventional medical treatment for menopause often involves HRT pharmaceutical hormones. It has been well documented for several decades that HRT can be an effective remedy for the hot flashes and sleep disturbances that often accompany menopause. Hormone replacement therapy has also consistently been shown to decrease vaginal discomfort by increasing the thickness, elasticity, and lubricating ability of vaginal tissue. Urinary tract tissue also becomes thicker and more elastic, which may reduce the incidence of stress incontinence and urinary tract infections. Furthermore, some physicians and medical agencies have advised that HRT may even decrease the risk for heart disease in postmenopausal women. These potential benefits of HRT are all well and good-and if this were the end of the story, I wouldn't have written this article. Unfortunately, there are health risks associated with HRT.
The Risks of HRT
Heretofore, the main concerns about HRT centered on the risk of endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer, especially after long-term use (more than 10 years).1 For example, some studies suggest that HRT is associated with a one to 30 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer.2 Another study conducted by the American Cancer Society followed 211,581 postmenopausal women who had no history of cancer at the time of enrollment. Results of follow-up from 1982 through 1996 showed that women who used HRT for 10 or more years had an increased risk of dying from ovarian cancer, compared with women who had never used HRT or had used it for less than 10 years.3
Recently, another potential risk issue regarding HRT and cardiovascular health has emerged. New recommendations by the American Heart Association, released on July 23, 2001, indicate that women who have had a heart attack or stroke do not benefit from HRT and may even increase their risk of suffering another attack.
This is based upon research where researchers randomly assigned women with known heart disease to take either hormones or a placebo. The researchers found no difference between the two groups in fatal or nonfatal heart attacks after four years. In the first year of the study, women taking hormones had 52 percent more heart-related illnesses than the placebo group. Then, a separate study testing estrogen in women with a previous stroke found that those who took the hormone suffered a higher incidence of fatal strokes than those who took a placebo.4
This new AHA position removes one of the main reasons many women take hormones-to reduce their risk of heart disease, which kills more than 226,000 American women a year, making it the number one cause of death in U.S. women.
Finally, a landmark study was published in the July 2002 issue of JAMA, which included 16608 postmenopausal women aged 50-79 who were using HRT as Estrogen plus progestin. The researchers found a significantly increased risk of a heart attack or stroke beginning in women's first year of HRT use. In addition, the risk of breast cancer jumped after four years of HRT use. The researchers concluded that overall health risks exceeded benefits from use of combined estrogen plus progestin, and that "the results indicate that this regimen should not be initiated or continued for primary prevention of CHD [coronary heart disease]." 5
Does all this mean that women who are currently using HRT should discontinue their medication; or that women who are not yet using HRT should not do so? After the aforementioned JAMA study was published, the position of the National Institutes of Health (who sponsored the study) was to urge women who currently use HRT to talk with their doctors about what to do.6 Certainly this is a personal decision, which can only be made by a woman and her doctor. Nonetheless, some women who are concerned about conventional HRT have turned to natural HRT alternatives.
Phytoestrogens: Natural Alternatives to HRT
Natural alternatives to HRT include the use of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are natural components from plants, which bind to estrogen receptors in the body. Make no mistake, phytoestrogens are not actually estrogen, but since they are capable of binding to estrogen receptors, they can "fool" the body into thinking and reacting as though there were more estrogen present. Furthermore, since they are not actually estrogen, phytoestrogens are not a risk factor in the development of breast or female reproductive system cancers. As a matter of fact, research suggests that certain phytoestrogens may even help to reduce the risk of these cancers, and promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Some of the most effective phytoestrogens can be found in Soy, Black Cohosh, Red Clover Leaf, Licorice Root, and Wild Yam. In addition, certain nutrients may also play a valuable role during menopause.
In fact, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now recommends three botanicals for management of menopausal symptoms. These are Black Cohosh, Soybean (isoflavones) and St. John's Wort (SJW for symptoms of depression, not for any direct impact on female hormonal biochemistry).
The protein fractions of soybeans contain an interesting group of substances called isoflavones. The ACOG suggests that short-term use of the phytoestrogens in soy may be helpful for relieving hot flashes and night sweats.8 In addition, research also indicates that these isoflavones may provide some very specific benefits, including cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction, and building bone density.
The isoflavones in soybeans have been shown to have anti-cancer effects. Apparently, the isoflavones have phytoestrogenic and antioxidant properties. One particular isoflavone called genistein (and possibly another called daidzein) has been proposed to contribute an important part of the anti-cancer effect of soy isoflavones. As a matter of fact, genistein in soy is considered by some researchers to be responsible for the lower rate of breast cancer observed in Asian women consuming soy.
The effect of genistein was tested in one study in five human breast cancer cell lines. Genistein inhibited the growth of each of these cancer cells.9 Similar studies using genistein also showed significant inhibitory effects on breast cancer cells. It seems that genistein affects estrogen receptors in such a way as to prevent breast cancer growth.10 This estrogen altering response was also apparent in another study, which examined the influence of total soy isoflavones in six premenopausal women for one month. The result was that menstruation was delayed and cholesterol concentrations decreased 9.6 percent.11
Furthermore, soy's anti-cancer effects are not limited to breast cancer. Researchers conducted test-tube research on human and animal bladder cancer cell lines, using pure soy isoflavones and soy phytochemical concentrate. The results were that both the pure soy isoflavones (genistein, genistin, daidzein, and biochanin A) and soy phytochemical concentrate inhibited growth of human and animal bladder cancer cell lines. Animal research also demonstrated that the ability of genistein, soy phytochemical concentrate, and soy protein isolate to inhibit the growth of bladder cancer in the animal (not in the test-tube). Genistein, dietary soy phytochemical concentrate, and dietary soy protein isolate reduced tumor size by 40, 48, and 37 percent, respectively, as compared with controls.12
Research indicates that substituting soy protein for animal protein may lead to reductions in plasma cholesterol. Three separate studies investigated the effect of soy products and isoflavones on the blood lipid levels of 74 postmenopausal women over a 6-month program. Forty grams of test protein were incorporated into the subjects' diets. The test protein was either isolated soy protein containing moderate amounts of isoflavones (ISP56), isolated soy protein containing higher amounts of isoflavones (ISP90), or casein and nonfat dry milk. The results were that both groups consuming the isolated soy protein diets had increased HDL levels (the "good" cholesterol). A significant lowering of non-HDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) was found in the groups consuming either of the isolated soy proteins in comparison to the group consuming casein dry milk protein. The results indicate that a low cholesterol, low saturated fat diet, combined with soy protein therapy may be effective in positively changing the ratio of HDL to non-HDL in postmenopausal women with high cholesterol levels.13 Although this research is very good, there is even more impressive research regarding soy and cholesterol reduction.
A meta-analysis (an analysis of many studies that examine the same topic) published in The New England Journal of Medicine clearly demonstrated that soybean protein (which contain isoflavones) has significant cholesterol lowering properties.14 This meta-analysis examined 38 controlled clinical trials. The average soy protein intake was 47 grams per day. The following net changes were associated with the soy intake: total cholesterol decrease of 9.3 percent, LDL cholesterol decrease of 12.9 percent, and triglyceride decrease of 10.5 percent.
Building bone density
A review of interventional trials examining isoflavones and bone in animals and humans suggest that including them in the diet results in reduction in bone resorption caused by estrogen deficiency.15 For example, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign decided to examine the effects of soy protein and its isoflavones on bone density in postmenopausal women. Sixty-six, postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to one of three dietary treatment groups for 24 weeks. One group consumed 40 grams of protein per day obtained from casein and nonfat dry milk. Another group obtained their 40 grams of protein from isolated soy protein containing 1.39 isoflavones per gram of protein (providing a total of 56 mg of isoflavones). The last group consumed their protein from isolated soy protein containing 2.25 mg isoflavones per gram of protein (providing a total of 90 mg of isoflavones). Bone density was measured twice during the study. The results showed that significant increases occurred in both bone mineral content and density in the soy group that received 90 mg of isoflavones. No other effects on bone density were seen in the other soy protein group or the casein group. This study successfully showed that soy protein providing 90 mg of isoflavones daily is effective in decreasing the risks of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. The authors of this study pointed out that this discovery about the benefits of soy are important for postmenopausal women who cannot or choose not to undergo hormone replacement therapy, which is usually used for prevention and treatment of these two diseases.16
Black Cohosh has a long and successful history as a support herb used by menopausal women. An extract of Black Cohosh contains phytoestrogens that can reduce luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion.17,18 Surges of LH are associated with hot flashes in menopausal women.
A newer, highly standardized extract of Black Cohosh has created a great deal of excitement internationally due to the results of a large open study employing 131 doctors and 629 patients. The type of extract used standardized for its triterpene glycosides, calculated as 27-deoxyacteine. Within six to eight weeks, over 80 percent of the patients experienced improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms included hot flashes, profuse perspiration, headache, vertigo, heart palpitation, ringing in the ears, nervousness/irritability, sleep disturbances, and depressive moods. Most patients reported noticeable benefits within four weeks. After six to eight weeks complete resolution of symptoms were achieved in a high number of patients.19
Finnish investigations of the phytoestrogen content of various plants revealed that Red Clover contained biologically active estrogenic isoflavones, especially biochanin.20 Furthermore, Red Clover has been shown to improve the elasticity of arteries in menopausal women, which is important given the increased cardiovascular risk associated with menopause.21 Ethnobotanist Steven Foster has described some research, which even shows that the phytoestrogens in Red Clover was found to inhibit the activation of cancer cells.22
Although often used for its gastrointestinal benefits / anti-ulcer benefits,23 Licorice root also contains phytoestrogens, which have been shown to induce ovulation in women with irregular periods.24 In addition, the journal Alternative and Complementary Therapies has indicated that Licorice root helps to balance estrogen and progesterone levels;25 clearly a benefit for the menopausal woman.
Wild Yam contains diosgenin, which has phytoestrogenic properties.26 One of the reported uses of this botanical is in the treatment of menopausal symptoms.27
Since menopause can be a very stressful state of being for many women, it can potentially affect the adrenal glands, which are often considered to be the "stress glands." This is somewhat problematic, since the adrenal glands produce the hormone DHEA, which can be converted into estrogen to help take over the production of estrogen when the ovaries cease to produce it. When the adrenals are stressed, however, this production of DHEA may be somewhat impaired. Pantothenic acid may be able to help. Pantothenic acid is intimately involved in adrenal function, and the production of adrenal hormones associated with stress.28 Administration of pantothenic acid has been shown to significantly increase the production of adrenal hormones in both animal and human studies.29,30
Some researchers have suggested that women who are not using HRT should consider the use of certain natural substances as an alternative-including magnesium, which may prove to be effective in prevention and treatment of menopausal-related symptoms.31 Of course magnesium supplementation during menopause makes sense for other reasons as well. For example, research overwhelmingly supports the use of calcium supplementation, alone or in combination with other therapies for slowing or stopping the progression of osteoporosis32-a disease, which is common postmenopausal. One potential problem with calcium supplementation, however, is an increased risk of calcium stone formation. Concomitant supplementation with magnesium may reduce this risk and improve mineralization in the bone.33 This is really no surprise when you consider that magnesium regulates active calcium transport. In fact, at the end of a 2-year study on menopausal women, magnesium supplementation appeared to have prevented fractures and resulted in a significant increase in bone density.34
Speaking of osteoporosis, research shows that chronically low intakes of the trace mineral boron may pre-dispose people to osteoporosis.35 Changes caused by boron deprivation include reduced blood levels of calcium, as well as in increase in urinary excretion of calcium. Boron deprivation causes changes similar to those seen in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis, and this mineral is needed to prevent the excessive bone loss, which often occurs in postmenopausal women and older men.36 In addition, studies have reported possible improvements in bone mineral density in women who were supplemented with boron.37 For example, research has found that supplementation with 3mg daily of the boron reduced urinary loss of both calcium and magnesium.38
Given the recent and ongoing concerns about health risks associated with HRT, the use of phytoestrogen supplements and other key nutrients may be a wise alternative. I encourage women to discuss this option with their physicians.
- National Cancer Institute: Cancer Facts "Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy" http://cis.nci.nih.gov/fact/3_10.htm
- Anoymous, Am J Nat Med, (1996) 3(4) p 7-10.
- National Cancer Institute: Cancer Facts "Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy" http://cis.nci.nih.gov/fact/3_10.htm
- Okie S. Study: Hormones Don't Protect Women From Heart Disease. Washington Post (2001) Tuesday, July 24. Page A1
- Rossouw JE, Anderson GL, Prentice RL, et al. Risks and Benefits of Estrogen Plus Progestin in Healthy Postmenopausal Women: Principal Results From the Women's Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA. 2002;288(3):321-333.
- Study On Risks Of Estrogen-Progestin Combination To Treat Symptoms Of Menopause Prompts Many Questions. Associated Press. July 10, 2002.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Practice bulletin: Use of botanicals for management of menopausal symptoms. 2001 June 20:
- National Cancer Institute: Cancer Facts "Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy" http://cis.nci.nih.gov/fact/3_10.htm
- Pagliacci, M., et al, Eur J Cancer, (1994) 30A(11) p 1675-82.
- Wang, T., et al, Carcinogenesis, (1996) 17(2) p 271-5
- Cassidy, A., et al, Am J Clin Nutr, (1995) 62(1) p 151-3.
- Zhou JR, et al, Cancer Research (1998) 58:5231-5238.
- Baum J, et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1998) 68:545-551.
- Anderson, J., et al, New Eng J Med, (1995) 333, p 276-82.
- Scheiber MD, Rebar RW, Menopause (1999) 6(3):233-41.
- Potter SM, et al, Am J Clin Nutr (1998) 68(suppl):1375S -1379S
- Brinker, F., The Eclectic Medical Journals, (1996) 2(1) p 2-4.
- Duker, E., et al, Planta Med (1991) 57(5) p 420-7.
- Anoymous, ibid.
- Saloniemi, H., et al, Proc Soc Exp Biol Med (1995) 208(1) p 13-7.
- Nestel, PJ, et al, J Clin Endocrinol Metab (1999) 84(3):895-8.
- Foster, S., 101 Medicinal Herbs: An Illustrated Guide (1998), Interweave Press, Loveland, Colorado, pp. 168-9.
- Foster, S., pp. 132-3.
- Reichert, R., Quarterly Review of Natural Medicine (1994) Spring, p 27-33.
- Kelly, J. Alternative and Complementary Therapies (1996) November/December, pp. 348-353.
- Mirkin, G., JAMA (1991) 265(7) p 912.
- Fetrow C, Availa J, Professional's Handbook of Complementary & Alternative Medicines (1999) Springhouse Corp., Springhouse, Pennsylvania, p. 666-668.
- Kutsky R, Handbook of Vitamins and Hormones (1973) Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York. pp. 208.
- Tarasov IuA, Sheibak VM, Moiseenok AG, Vopr (1985) 4
- Fidanaza A, Floridi S, Lenti L, Boll Soc Ital Biol Sper (1981) 57(18):1869-72.
- Kass-Annese B. Alternative therapies for menopause. Clinical obstetrics and gynecology (2000) 43(1):162-83.
- Laulert L, et al, Revista brasileira de enfermagem (1995) 48(2):161-7.
- Celotti F; Bignamini A. Dietary calcium and mineral/vitamin supplementation: a controversial problem. Journal of international medical research (1999) 27(1):1-14.
- Sojka JE; Weaver CM. Magnesium supplementation and osteoporosis. Nutrition reviews (1995) 53(3):71-4.
- Bunker VW, British journal of biomedical science (1994) 51(3):228-40.
- Nielsen FH, Magnesium and trace elements (1990) 9(2):61-9.
- Volpe SL, Taper LJ, Meacham S, Magnesium research (1993) 6(3):291-6.
- Nielson FH, et al, FASEB J (1987) 1:394-97.