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brain health

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an herb that grows in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Spain, parts of the Middle East, Africa, and the Canary Islands. It is sometimes called "Indian ginseng," probably because it is employed as an adaptogen or tonic in Ayurvedic traditional medicine.1 It is not, however, related to "true" ginseng (P. ginseng, P. quinquifolium). The root is used medicinally, although the seeds, shoots, juice and leaves have all been used traditionally as well.2

    Phytochemical contents
    Ashwagandha has been found to contain steroidal lactones called withanolides. Much of the pharmacological activities Ashwagandha are attributed to the presence of these steroidal lactones.3,4 In addition, the roots provide alkaloids, 18 fatty acids, beta sitesterol, polyphenols and phytosterols.5

    Common uses
    Traditional use of Ashwagandha includes its use as an aphrodisiac. As a folk remedy, it has a long list of uses. It is listed in the Indian Materia Medica, and is part of Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani traditions. Published research on Ashwagandha reveals a variety of potentially valuable and diverse uses for improving and supporting health. Following is a discussion of each of these potential uses.

    Chemotherapy and radiation therapy Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are commonly used to treat individuals with cancer. One problem associated with both of these treatments are that they can reduce white blood cell (WBC) count; and chemotherapy can cause mylosuppression-a reduced capacity of bone marrow to produce WBC. In turn, this can lead to patient susceptibility to other infections. Animal research has shown that Ashwagandha is capable of increasing WBC count when used with either chemotherapy or radiation therapy.6,7 Similar research has shown that this herb can also reduce mylosuppression in association with chemotherapy.8

    In addition, several studies have shown Ashwagandha to be effective at inhibiting tumor growth in test animals while enhancing radiosensitivity, the ability of radiation therapy to kill tumor cells.9,10,11,12,13,14 In one study, Ashwagandha was able to inhibit tumor growth in animals even without radiation therapy.15

    Immune function
    Besides it potential for treating cancer, research has shown that Ashwagandha is capable of improving immune function. This was demonstrated in one study where mice experienced an increase phagocytosis and intracellular macrophage activity against a pathogen when given a daily dose of Ashwagandha.16 In another study on mice, Ashwagandha was shown to improve the tumor-fighting ability of macrophages in relation to a known carcinogen.17 Ashwagandha has also prevented myelosuppression in mice treated with immunosuppressive drugs, and led to a significant increase in hemoglobin concentration, red blood cell count, white blood cell count, platelet count, and body weight, in addition to providing immunostimulatory activity.18

    Finally, in a series of experiments, various techniques were used to suppress the immune response of mice, then subjected them to infectious organisms. In each experiment, mice pretreated with one of six herbs, including Ashwagandha, fared significantly better than control mice. Mice receiving the herbs demonstrated faster recovery, less disease, and lower mortality. These herbs blunted artificially-induced neutropenia (a deficit of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell) and stimulated leucocytosis (an increase of white blood cells). In treatments that employed both antibiotics and these herbs the combination produced a significantly greater healing effect than either treatment used alone. The herbs also reduced stress-induced damage.19

    Antioxidant activity
    Apparently, one of Ashwagandha's mechanisms of action is that it has significant antioxidant activity. In one study, Ashwagandha significantly reduced free radical oxidation in the livers of mice, while concurrently increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase.20 Other research has shown that Ashwagandha reduced free radical activity in stress induced animals.21 In another study, Ashwagandha administered once daily for 21 days, induced a dose related increase in SOD, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase in rats.22 One interesting study showed that as part of an Ayurvedic herbal formulation, Ashwagandha increased SOD activity in the pancreas of diabetic rats.23

    Brain chemistry
    Ashwagandha has also been used in the treatment of mental and emotional well-being, since it can influence brain chemistry in positive ways. For example it has been shown to be capable of improving memory and enhancing cognitive function in animal research by improving acetylcholine activity in the brain and binding to acetylcholine receptor sites.24 This herb also has GABA mimetic activity-that is it can mimic some of the activity of the relaxing neurotransmitter GABA.25 Clinical trials have shown that Ashwagandha can alleviate a reactive type of depression without sedating. Instead, it "optimizes mental and psychomotor performance by easing the mental stress bundle."26

    Aphrodisiac
    In a clinical trial of ashwagandha on the aging process in over 100 men, 71.4 percent of the men reported improvement in their capacity of sexual performance. These responses seem to support the herb's traditional use as an aphrodisiac.27

    Anti-inflammatory & anti-arthritic activity
    Ashwagandha has demonstrated some very effective anti-inflammatory activity. In fact, in one study its anti-inflammatory activity was comparable to that of a 5-mg/kg dose of hydrocortisone.28 In another study, five plants were assessed for their anti-inflammatory activity. Results showed that while each of the plants possessed varying degrees of anti inflammatory activity, Ashwagandha possessed the greatest.29

    Perhaps the anti-inflammatory activity of Ashwagandha explains its efficacy in arthritis. In a one-month study, a combination of Ashwagandha, Boswellia serrata, Tumeric, and zinc were given to 42 patients with osteoarthritis. At the end of the study, there was a significant drop in severity of pain and disability.30

    Anti-stress & anabolic activity
    Given their relative similarities in function, a comparative study was performed on Ginseng (Panax ginseng), and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). Using aqueous suspensions of the powdered root, each herb was tested in mice: (1) for anti-stress activity (by the swimming endurance test); and (2) anabolic activity (by the weight measurement of body weight and levator ani muscle). In the swimming endurance test, Ashwagandha and Ginseng each showed anti-stress activity as compared to the control group, although the activity was higher with Ginseng. In the anabolic study, the mice treated with Ashwagandha showed a greater gain in body weight than those treated with Ginseng, although significant anabolic activity was observed for both herbs.31

    Morphine dependence
    Although only tested thus far in mice, Ashwagandha may help reduce dependence on morphine. In a 10-day study, Ashwagandha, helped prevent tolerance to morphine from developing. This is important since developing a tolerance for a drug often leads to increased doses and abuses. Also, Ashwagandha suppressed morphine withdrawal jumps, a sign of the development of dependence to morphine.32

    Glandular support
    As if all of the aforementioned benefits weren't sufficient, Ashwagandha also supports the function of the thyroid, liver and pancreas. After being administered on a daily basis for 20 days, mice experienced an increase in both T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. In the same study, Ashwagandha also decreased free radical activity in the liver.33 In another study, a combination of Ashwagandha and other herbs (Tinospora cordifolia, Eclipta alba, Ocimum sanctum, Picrorrhiza kurroa and shilajit) administered once daily for 28 days decreased blood sugar levels in diabetic rats, and decreased free radical activity in their pancreas as well. This activity in the pancreas is important since the reduction in blood sugar may be due to pancreatic free radical scavenging activity, which protects the cells that produce insulin.34

    Safety
    To determine any potential toxicity of Ashwagandha (as well as Panax Ginseng), a study was conducted in rats with 90 days oral administration using three doses. Food consumption, body weight, haematological, biochemical and histopathological parameters were studied. The results were that brain, heart, lung, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, testis and ovaries were normal on gross examination and histopathologically. Sub-acute toxicity studies in rats did not reveal any toxicity.35 Apparently, Ashwagandha is a safe herb. Even so, one research has suggested that Ashwagandha is contraindicated during pregnancy.36

    References

    1. Choudhary M, et al, Phytochemistry (1995) 40(4):1243-6.
    2. Lindner S, Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism (1996) 8(3):78-82.
    3. Choudhary M, et al, Phytochemistry (1995) 40(4):1243-6.
    4. Elsakka M, et al, Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi (1990) 94(2):385 7.
    5. Ibid.
    6. Davis L, Kuttan G, J Ethnopharmacol (1998) 62(3):209 14.
    7. Kuttan G, Indian J Exp Biol (1996) 34(9):854 6.
    8. Praveenkumar V, et al, Tumori (1994) 80(4):306 8.
    9. Ganasoundari A, Zare SM, Devi PU, Br J Radiol (1997) 70(834):599 602.
    10. Devi PU, Indian J Exp Biol (1996) 34(10):927 32
    11. Sharad AC, et al, Acta Oncol (1996) 35(1):95 100.
    12. Devi PU, Int J Radiat Biol (1996) 69(2):193 7.
    13. Devi PU, Sharada AC, Solomon FE, Cancer Lett (1995) 95(1 2):189 93.
    14. Devi PU, Sharada AC, Solomon FE, Indian J Exp Biol (1993) 31(7):607 11.
    15. Devi PU, et al, Indian J Exp Biol (1992) 30(3):169 72.
    16. Dhuley JN, Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol (1998) 20(1):191 8.
    17. Dhuley JN, J Ethnopharmacol (1997) 58(1):15 20
    18. Ziauddin M, J Ethnopharmacol (1996) 50(2):69 76.
    19. Dahanukar S, Thatte U, Phytomedicine (1997) 4(4):359-368.
    20. Panda S, Kar A, J Pharm Pharmacol (1998) 50(9):1065 8.
    21. Dhuley JN, J Ethnopharmacol (1998) 60(2):173 8.
    22. Bhattacharya SK, Satyan KS, Ghosal S, Indian J Exp Biol (1997) 35(3):236 9.
    23. Bhattacharya SK, Satyan KS, Chakrabarti A, Indian J Exp Biol (1997) 35(3):297 9.
    24. Schliebs R, et al, Neurochem Int (1997) 30(2):181 90.
    25. Mehta AK, et al, Indian J Med Res (1991) 94:312 5.
    26. Katiyar CK, et al, Immunomodulator Products from Ayurveda: Current status and future perspectives. In: Immunomodulation, S.N. Upadhyay (Ed), (1997) Narosa Publishing House, New Delhi, India, pp. 163-187.
    27. Linder, op cit
    28. al Hindawi MK, al Khafaji SH, Abdul Nabi MH, J Ethnopharmacol (1992) 37(2):113 6.
    29. Al Hindawi MK, et al, J Ethnopharmacol (1989) 26(2):163 8.
    30. Kulkarni RR, et al, J Ethnopharmacol (1991) 33(1 2):91 5.
    31. Grandhi, et al, Journal of Ethnopharmacology (1994) 44:131-135.
    32. Kulkarni SK, Ninan I, J Ethnopharmacol (1997) 57(3):213 7.
    33. Panda S, Kar A, J Pharm Pharmacol (1998) 50(9):1065 8.
    34. Bhattacharya SK, Satyan KS, Chakrabarti A, Indian J Exp Biol (1997) 35(3):297 9.
    35. Aphale AA, et al, Indian J Physiol Pharmacol (1998) 42(2):299 302.
    36. Linder, op cit
  • In this age of marketing of new fruits of every stripe—“super,” “exotic,” “rainforest,” etc. — it is easy to overlook the fact the best of the fruits for many purposes may be those long known. Bilberry is a good example. Black currant is another. Also called the cassis berry (Ribes nigrum), black currant offers many benefits similar to those found with bilberry and blueberry. Indeed, the list of benefits is quite impressive and includes brain, digestive and eye health along with positive influences in the areas of asthma and overall lung function, colds and flu, and women’s health.

    The black currant is a small shrub standing up to six feet tall. It grows in Europe, European Asia, North America and, as a cultivated crop, is especially well represented in New Zealand. The berry comes in vivid shades of deep red, purple and black. It is quite small, being similar is size to the bilberry, and is similarly nutrient dense. It is particularly high in anthocyanins, which are the purple-black pigments that color the skin of the black currant, giving it its name. Anthocyanins are powerful plant or phyto-antioxidants. In addition to the anthocyanins found primarily in the skin, black currant by way of its seeds is a rich source of both the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). The origin of the fruit can have a strong bearing on its nutrient content. New Zealand’s pristine conditions and mineral-rich environment combined with its elevated exposure to ultraviolet light results in black currants that exceed the fruit grown in other areas in terms of anthocyanin content. The protective delphinidin-3-rutinoside constitutes 40 percent of the total anthocyanin content of the New Zealand fruit. Black currant also is a source of proanthocyanidins, compounds more commonly associated with grape seed and pine bark extracts.

    Brain Health
    Today, approximately a third of Americans are over the age of 50 and individuals over the age of eighty-five may make up the fastest growing segment of the population. The “Baby Boom” generation can expect to liver longer than its parents, but with this comes certain challenges. At least nine million Americans currently exhibit sub-clinical cognitive impairment and approximately 14–15 percent of all individuals over the age of sixty-five suffer from some form of age-related dementia.

    Epidemiology studies, including both regional incidence and the analysis of specific risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, indicate that substantial prevention of the disease in the 50 –70 percent range is a practical possibility for the United States. Brain aging, including conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, should not be viewed as if it takes place separately from the deterioration of other bodily systems. It long has been established that elevated blood sugar levels, which is to say, diabetes and pre-diabetes, are linked to the rate of various forms of dementia. Glycation, a deleterious form of modification of protein and lipid macromolecules in which a sugar inappropriately binds to the molecules, has been linked to diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s as well as physiological aging more generally. Therefore, controlling weight and preventing blood sugar spikes are candidate courses of action for anyone seriously interested in preventing dementias.

    Although we have grown accustomed to blaming cholesterol for almost any condition, cholesterol is linked to Alzheimer’s disease only when certain contributors to oxidative stress are present. Such findings corroborate the hardly novel observation that only twenty percent of Americans eat the recommended five-a-day fruits and vegetables: it is phytonutrients from the diet that typically control free radical-inducing conditions.

    This is where black currant enters the picture. Certain areas of the brain, such as the areas that involves the neurotransmitter dopamine, are particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage, in part as a result of the neurotransmitter itself. This damage is significant in the manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease and is associated with reduced dopamine levels. Perhaps surprisingly, dopamine inhibits the formation of amyloidbeta peptide fibrils. Researchers have found anthocyanins are powerful protectors against oxidative stressors, with whole fruit extracts more powerful than single fractions. James Joseph of Tufts has been quoted to the effect that black currant is effective in increasing dopamine levels, which are low in Alzheimer’s patients. Dilip Gosh of HortResearch, New Zealand, has performed related research that suggests the ability of brain cells to control calcium concentrations is central to their ability to recover from dopamine cytotoxicity. Animal experiments suggest that anthocyanins taken orally can deliver their benefits centrally, which is to say, to the brain, to protect memory and motor coordination. The polyphenolics in fruits and vegetables, especially those of berries, have been shown to retard and even reverse age-related decrements in motor and cognitive performance.

    Eye Health
    For eye health, the black currant may be even more protective than the bilberry. The bilberry has many historical or traditional uses based upon both the dried berries and the leaves. Used as a medicinal herb since the 16th century, modern interest in the bilberry is partly based on the fruit’s use by British pilots during the Second World War. These pilots noticed that their night vision improved when they ate bilberry jam prior to night bombing raids. In the intervening years, scientists discovered that anthocyanosides, the bioflavonoid complex in bilberries, black currant and a number of other berries, are potent antioxidants.

    Anthocyanosides, i.e., anthocyanins (the name changes based on whether a sugar molecule is attached), provide three primary benefits to the eyes. First, these highly colored plant pigments nourish the retina. Night vision depends on the retina’s ability to constantly regenerate visual purple (rhodopsin), and anthocyanins serve as “building blocks” for this important substance. Tests have confirmed these benefits. When subjects with normal vision supplemented with either black currant or bilberry extract, it was found the acuity of their nighttime vision improved, as did the speed at which they adjusted to darkness and the rate at which they recovered from blinding glare. However, it is important to bear in mind that positive results in trials required the ingestion of 50 mg or more per day of anthocyanins. A prudent level of intake would be on the order of 90 or 100 mg of the anthocyanins per day.

    Another area of benefit involves the inducement of short distance vision and/or its aggravation or exacerbation if already present. Continual close range visual tasking, such as extended viewing of computer screens, leads to the development of tension of the ciliary smooth muscle, which impairs the eye’s refractory adjustment function. One result is axial length elongation, an aspect of myopia or “nearsightedness.” Bilberry extracts may help counter axial length elongation and at least one in vivo test provides evidence black currant is superior to bilberry in this regard. Related to ciliary smooth muscle tension is visual fatigue. As most computer users know well, the fatigue of the eyes can extend to the neck, head, arms, shoulders and lower back. Anthocyanin ingestion may be helpful.

    Several types of deterioration that are typical of aging eyes, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, appear to be influenced by the rate of generation of free radicals. In laboratory trials, changing the diets from commercial laboratory chow to “well-defined” diets rich in flavonoids has shown to be beneficial. Interesting results have been found with human trials in which anthocyanins were supplemented, either alone or in combination with vitamin E.

    Digestive Health
    One of the more unexpected benefits of black currant extract is in the area of digestive health. When researchers at Massey University of New Zealand used an animal model to examine the impact of supplementation of the diet with inulin, 30 percent anthocyanin extract concentrate (BCE) or cassis infused dried fruit (IDF), they found significant results. Desirable bacteria, in this test meaning Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, were increased and unwanted gut inhabitants, meaning Bacteriodes and Clostridia, were reduced. Other research has shown black currant may support gastrointestinal health by reducing the activity of â-glucuronidase and increasing that of â-glucosidase.

    Lung Function
    As mentioned already, black currant contains proanthocyanidins as well as anthocyanins and other polyphenolic compounds. Work performed at The Plant and Food Research Institute of New Zealand examined the impact of black currant extract on immune function and aspects of normal inflammatory response when the lungs are challenged. The findings were that black currant supports normal inflammatory and immune responses under challenge conditions. Researchers have suggested black currant extracts may be supportive in conditions such as asthma.

    Colds and Flu
    Elderberry has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat influenza, colds and sinusitis, and has been reported to have antiviral activity against influenza and herpes simplex. Many people are familiar with these uses. However, relatively few individuals are aware of the fact many anthocyanins are active against viruses. Researchers at the Department of Microbiology, Asahikawa Medical College in Japan looked at the effects of black currant against influenza virus types A and B in vitro. According to the study results, both IVA and IVB were inactivated up to 99.9 percent by 10 ìg/ml of the black currant extract at pH 2.8, and 95 to 98 percent by this concentration at pH 7.2. The growth of IVA in cells treated with 10 and 100 ìg/ ml of the extract after infection was completely suppressed in six hours. The results indicated that the extract was effective under test conditions in inhibiting the release of the virus from infected cells.

    Women’s Health
    Every part of the black currant berry can be used, not just the anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins found chiefly in the skin. The seed oil is a source of both the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and the omega-6 fatty acid gammalinolenic acid (GLA). GLA is recognized as one of the “good” essential fatty acids used to enhance cell membrane fluidity and function. Although the body can manufacture GLA from dietary linoleic acid, it can be more efficiently utilized for body functions when supplied directly by dietary sources. GLA supports a balanced inflammatory response and has been shown to be important for lung, joint, and eye health. According to authorities such as Andrew Weil, MD, the combination of essential fatty acids found in black currant seeds may influence the production of prostaglandins and assist hormone production to support women during menopause.

    Conclusions
    Black currant has earned its place in the ranks of the “super” fruits. Its range of benefits is similar to that found with bilberry and far better documented than those often asserted rather than demonstrated for acai and other recently promoted fruits. For the health of the brain and eyes, black currant is a winner. It supports normal immune and inflammatory functions. Starting at an intake as low as 50 mg per day of the concentrated anthocyanins, it is compact health insurance against a world of health challenges.

  • Over the years life expectancy has risen, with a parallel increase in age-related conditions and chronic diseases, of the cardiovascular, brain and immune systems, increases in cancer and bone fragility. Many of these pathological states are linked to the action of free radical reactions. In order to try and combat oxidant free radicals damage, antioxidant-rich herbs and natural products have gained popularity. Among these, garlic that is rich in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds and was used for thousands of years to treat age-associated ailments, is a most popular choice. Modern medicine and scientific research have confirmed many of the medicinal properties of garlic and its anti-aging potential, including the ability to boost immunity, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, protect the brain and increase bone density.

    While we enjoy garlic in small quantities as an excellent condiment, ingesting large amounts of fresh garlic to achieve its anti-aging benefits is not for everyone. Garlic’s strong odor lingers on the breath and skin and ingesting large quantities may lead to gastrointestinal problems, including flatulence and diarrhea. KyolicTM AGE, (aged garlic extract), an odorless supplement provides the benefits of the fresh bulb without the unpleasant side effects. AGE has been the choice garlic preparation in scientific and medical research on the health effects of garlic and its benefits have been documented in over 700 peer reviewed publications.

    Aged Garlic Extract
    Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (AGE), is manufactured by Wakunaga of America, from organically grown garlic by a lengthy procedure of extraction and aging, at room temperature. The process converts harsh unstable substances such as allicin to stable compounds, increasing the antioxidant content of AGE above the levels found in fresh garlic.

    AGE is rich in highly bioavailable organosulfur compounds with antioxidant activity, largely water soluble, including S-allyl cysteine and S-allyl mercaptocysteine. Also present are lipid soluble organosulfur compounds, carbohydrates, including fructans which are immune-boosters and micronutrients such as selenium and other antioxidants such as fructosyl arginine and alixin.

    AGE had been shown to enhance immunity, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and help reduce the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, help maintain bone density as well as prevent cell damage by free radical-producing drugs and radiation, including UV.

    Protecting Immunity
    Our immune system is the path to good health and longevity. A vigorous immune system protects against infectious bacteria, viruses, fungi and helps fight the development of cancer. Our goal is therefore to maintain a fortified immune system to protect us from colds and flu, fight invading disease-causing microorganisms, prevent cancer growth and combat inflammation, now known to play a critical role in cardiovascular disease as well as in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. In most cases our immune system can handle an amazing variety of pathogens and microbes and overcome inflammation, but as a battle between a pathogen and the immune response takes place, the result can be sickness, when immunity is weak, or health, when the immune cells are winning.

    The immune system is complex. Inflammation is one of the first responses of the immune system to infection and involves the release of prostaglandins and leukotrienes that attract white blood cells (leukocytes), and interferons that has anti-viral effects.

    Leukocytes include a wide range of immune cells that include macrophages, neutrophils, that engulf foreign invaders and natural killer cells (NK) that destroy cancer cells and cells infected by viruses.

    AGE Enhances Immunity
    Aged garlic extract has been shown in a wide range of preclinical and clinical studies to enhance the immune response, mitigate infectious diseases, reduce inflammation and kill cancer cells. AGE intake enhances the phagocytic (cell-killing) activity of macrophages, the activity of the T lymphocytes that direct the immune system to combat invaders, increases the number and activity of natural killer cells (NK) and their anti-cancer action; AGE also was found to, suppress inflammation—related prostaglandins and enhance interferon.

    AGE Increases NK Activity
    A random double-blind clinical trial showed that AGE administered to patients with inoperable colorectal, liver or pancreatic cancer resulted in a significant increase in the number and activity of the NK cells.

    A study in AIDS patients, who are found to have lower levels of NK cells showed that AGE enhanced NK cells and helper T cells. After a 6-week intake of AGE at 1800 mg/day the levels of NK cells rose to that of the healthy individuals. Helper T cells were also increased with patients showing improvement of a variety of conditions, often increased in aging, including herpes infection, yeast infections and diarrhea; when compared to the efficacy of fresh garlic, the investigators found that AGE was a more effective immune-stimulator than fresh garlic, and observed NK activity was up by 140 percent with the fresh preparation and by 160 percent with AGE capsules.

    AGE Prevents UV induced Immunosuppression
    Ultra violet radiation (UV) has been linked to cancer, largely skin cancer; one of the effects of UV is to decrease immunity. Studies in Australia on human volunteers have shown immunosuppression by exposure to UV irradiation and that this immunosuppression increases the incidence of skin cancer. Men were immunosuppressed by UV doses that were three times lower than those required to immunosuppress women. They concluded that this may be an important cause of the higher skin cancer incidence and mortality observed in men.

    In a preclinical study, using contact hypersensitivity as the immune response, Reeve and colleagues found a 58 percent immunosuppression following moderate exposure to UVB radiation, direct DNA damage was reduced to 19 percent by intake of AGE as four percent of the diet. The pre-clinical studies offer the possibility that AGE may also help protect humans against UV induced immunosuppression, and have the potential to reduce the risk of skin cancer a condition that is more prevalent in aging.

    AGE Reduces Inflammatory Prostaglandins
    Oxidative damage and immune-inflammatory activation play a role in cancer, neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease and in depression. Prostaglanding, are associated with inflammation and release of local pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and cytokines, accompanied by the destruction of tissue. Rahman and colleagues have found that dietary supplementation with AGE for 14 days reduced plasma and urine concentrations of the prostaglandin 8iso-PGF(2 alpha) by up to 37 percent in nonsmokers and up to 48 percent in smokers. Fourteen days after cessation of dietary supplementation, prostaglandin levels returned to similar levels as those before ingestion of AGE, showing that in order to maintain protection a continuous intake of AGE is required.

    AGE Protects The Heart And Brain
    Aged garlic extract has been shown to modulate cardiovascular risk factors in over 700 scientific and medical publications. The AGE protective action also reduced risk factors for dementia. AGE increases, by 30-40 percent, the production of nitric oxide (NO), a regulator of blood pressure and lowers blood pressure, thus protecting both the heart and the brain. AGE inhibits platelet aggregation and adhesion that play a role in atherosclerotic plaque formation, it lowers LDL and prevents its oxidation, reduces triglycerides and homocysteine. AGE elevates HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), and reduces smoking related oxidative damage.

    The major effect of AGE in lowering cholesterol is by blocking an enzyme involved in the production of cholesterol (3 hydroxy 3 methylglutaryl CoA) by as much as 41 percent. The effect is additive with statins, the cholesterol lowering medications. Breakthrough clinical studies at the University of California Los Angeles, found that AGE significantly inhibits the progression of coronary artery calcification, a marker for atherosclerosis, thus reducing the risk of plaque formation and a heart attack. The same studies, authored by Dr. Budoff and colleagues also showed that AGE lowers homocysteine triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and increases HDL.

    Protection Of Blood Vessels
    One of the age related cardiovascular problems is the narrowing of blood vessels due to calcification of the lining. AGE protects the lining of blood vessels (endothelial cells) from oxidative damage and increases microcirculation; an important factor in cardio-protection, notably in diabetes, where the disease damages microvasculature and the risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia is high.

    The Bottom Line
    Kyolic aged garlic extract (AGE) is a natural, odorless antioxidant-rich garlic supplement, manufactured by Wakunaga of America from organic garlic. It is the most popular garlic supplement and being the most standardized is the preferred form used in medical and scientific research. AGE has consistently shown an ability to act as an effective health promoting supplement with anti-aging activity, boosting immunity, reducing inflammation, lowering risk factors for cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer as well as helping maintain bone density, an important consideration in aging as bone fragility increases with age.

    References

    1. Zeb I, Ahmadi N, Nasir K, Kadakia J, Larijani VN, Flores F, Li D, Budoff MJ, Aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 have favorable effect on inflammatory markers and coronary atherosclerosis progression: A randomized clinical trial. J Cardiovasc Dis Res. 2012 :185¡V90.
    2. Borek C. Garlic reduces dementia and heart disease risk J Nut. 2006;136:810¡V812.
    3. Nasser A. et al Aged garlic extract with supplement is associated with beneficial effects on bone mineral density and predicts lack of progression of atherosclerosis: a prospective double blinded randomized trial 2015; Int J. of Cardiovascular Research 4:3 http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2324-8602.1000206.
    4. Dillon SA, Lowe GM, Billington D, Rahman K. Dietary supplementation with aged garlic extract reduces plasma and urine concentrations of 8-iso prostaglandin F(2alpha). J Nutr.2002 Feb;132 :168¡V71.
    5. Tanaka S, Haruma K, Yoshihara M, Kajiyama G, Kira K, Amagase H, Chayama K. Aged garlic extract has potential suppressive effect on colorectal adenoma in humans. J Nutr. 2006 Mar;136 :821S¡V826S.
    6. Ishikawa H, Saeki T, Otani T, Suzuki T, Shimozuma K, Nishino H, Fukuda S, Morimoto K. Aged garlic extract prevents a decline of NK cell number and activity in patients with advanced cancer J Nutr.2006 Mar;136 :816S-820S.
  • In October, we observe National Mental Health Awareness Month. Although it's important to raise awareness about issues like anxiety, depression and suicide, it's equally critical to understand that no one wants to be labeled as defective or abnormal. By labeling these issues as "mental health" or "psychiatric," people suffer in silence because of the shame they feel.

    If we do not erase-or at least lower-the stigma for these issues, many more people will unnecessarily suffer, and some will die, without getting the help they need. We must do better because according to a large epidemiological study in Archives of General Psychiatry, 51 percent of the U.S. population will struggle with a mental health issue at some point in their lives.1 Let that soak in for a moment-more than half of Americans will experience a psychiatric problem, meaning it's more common to have one than not.

    Anxiety disorders and depression are the most common conditions, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness,2 and they are increasingly affecting young people. An estimated 36 percent of girls will experience clinical depression during their teenage years and so will 13 percent of teenage boys.3 Both numbers are unacceptable.

    Even more disheartening is the fact that suicide rates are on the rise. Since 1999, suicide has increased 33 percent, decreasing overall life expectancy, while during the same period of time cancer has decreased 27 percent.4

    We're heading in the wrong direction.

    Discarding an Outdated Paradigm
    Reimagining mental health as brain health changes everything. People begin to see their problems as medical, not moral. It decreases shame and guilt and increases forgiveness and compassion from their families. Reframing the discussion to brain health is also more accurate and elevates hope, increases the desire to get help, and increases compliance to make the necessary lifestyle changes. Once people understand that the brain controls everything they do and everything they are, they want a better brain so they can have a better life.

    But psychiatry remains the only medical field that rarely looks at the organ it treats. If you have crushing chest pain, a cardiologist will do an imaging study of your heart. But if you have crushing depression, chances are no one will ever look at your brain.

    This needs to change as a growing body of neuroimaging studies-including our own brain imaging work that includes over 160,000 brain SPECT scans related to behavior-clearly show that mental health is related to the physical functioning of the brain. We see it in people with depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior.

    Depression is associated with excessive activity in the brain's emotional center, which is known as the limbic system. When this brain network is less active, there is generally a positive, hopeful state of mind. When it is overactive, negativity and sadness can take hold.

    Anxiety is linked to too much activity in the basal ganglia, a part of the brain that sets your emotional tone. When there is overactivity in this area, people are more likely to experience anxious thoughts, tension, heightened fear and increased awareness.

    Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are complex and often tied to untreated conditions, such as depression or anxiety. We have scanned more than 300 people who have attempted suicide and many more who have contemplated taking their own life. We have found that a number of brain issues are often at work in people who are suicidal, including:

    • Traumatic brain injuries. Head injuries, including so-called mild concussions where you don't even pass out, are commonly seen.
    • Temporal lobe abnormalities. In an Amen Clinics study, we saw left temporal lobe problems in 62 percent of our patients who had serious suicidal thoughts or behaviors.5
    • Low activity in the prefrontal cortex. When this area, which is involved in planning and judgment, is underactive, it increases impulsivity.
    • Overactivity in the anterior cingulate gyrus. Too much activity in this area causes people to get stuck on negative thoughts.

    Ending Mental Illness Through Optimized Brain Health

    The most exciting thing about reframing the discussion about mental health as brain health is that an increasing number of studies have found that improving the physical functioning of the brain improves the mind.6 You are not stuck with the brain you have. You can make it better.

    This doesn't necessarily mean medication. Be aware that some psychiatric medications intended to improve your mental state are actually harmful to your physical brain. For example, anti-anxiety drugs, such as benzodiazepines, are associated with unhealthy, toxic-looking scans. In addition, most people are never informed that it can be hard to stop taking certain psychiatric medications, such as anti-anxiety pills or antidepressants. Be careful about starting something that may be hard to stop.

    Lifestyle changes can have a powerful influence on the moment-by-moment functioning of your brain. Adopting brain healthy habits can be one of the keys to minimizing symptoms of anxiety and depression and can improve the functioning of the troubled brain areas seen in people with suicidal tendencies.

    For example, research has shown that physical exercise has been found to improve mood, anxiety, and even cognitive health in patients with depression.7 Increasing evidence suggests that nutritional treatment may help prevent, treat, or improve depression, anxiety and many other disorders.8 This means that fueling the brain with high-quality food can minimize symptoms.

    Other impactful strategies to retrain the brain include learning how to kill the ANTs, the automatic negative thoughts that infest your mind and steal your happiness. Negative thoughts cause the brain to release chemicals that instantly make you feel bad, but by simply challenging or talking back to these thoughts, you can shut down or slow the production of these nasty chemicals so you can feel better fast.

    A growing body of evidence also supports the use of natural supplements for mental health, or rather brain health, issues. A number of websites are dedicated to the extensive science of nutraceuticals for health, including brain health, such as MedlinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and Natural Medicines. They often grade nutraceuticals from the clinical science evidence similarly to how they rate pharmaceuticals, with A-level status reserved for those that have robust research conducted with more than two placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trials.

    Several nutraceuticals have A-level evidence for symptoms seen in common mental health, or brain health, conditions. For anxiety and stress, these include ashwagandha,9 theanine,10 and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA+DHA).11 Nutraceuticals that support mood include EPA omega-3 fatty acids,12 St. John's wort,13 saffron,14 and SAMe.15 I often recommend these, along with a core nutraceutical program that includes a broad-spectrum multiple vitamin-supplement and vitamin D, for our anxious and depressed patients.

    Ultimately, to enhance brain health and manage or overcome symptoms, it's important to seek out solutions that are the least toxic and most effective.

    References

    1. Kessler RC, et al. "Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication." Archives of General Psychiatry. 2005;62(6):617-627.
    2. https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers
    3. Breslau, J et al. "Sex differences in recent first-onset depression in an epidemiological sample of adolescents." Translational Psychiatry. 2017;7(5):e1139. doi:10.1038/tp.2017.105
    4. Hedegaard H, Curtin S, and Warner M. "Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999-2017." National Center for Health Statistics. NCHS Data Brief No. 330. Nov. 2018.
    5. Amen DG, Prunella JR, Fallon JH, et al. "A comparative analysis of completed suicide using high resolution brain SPECT imaging." The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 2009;21(4):430-9. doi: 10.1176/appi.neuropsych.21.4.430
    6. Velten J, Lavallee KL, Scholten S, et al. "Lifestyle choices and mental health: A representative population survey." BMC Psychology. 2014;2(1):58. 10.1186/s40359-014-0055-y
    7. Oertel-Knöchel V, et al. "Effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive performance and individual psychopathology in depressive and schizophrenia patients." Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2014 Oct;264(7):589-604.
    8. Rao TS, Asha MR, Ramesh BN, Rao KS. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian J Psychiatry. 2008;50(2):77-82. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.42391
    9. Choudhary D, Bhattacharyya S, Joshi K. Body Weight Management in Adults Under Chronic Stress Through Treatment With AshwagandhaRoot Extract: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Jan;22(1):96-106; Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62; Pratte MA, Nanavati KB, Young V, Morley CP. An alternative treatment for anxiety: a systematic review of human trial results reported for the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Dec;20(12):901-8; Andrade C, Aswath A, Chaturvedi SK, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy ff an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera. Indian J Psychiatry. 2000 Jul;42(3):295-301.
    10. Hidese S, Ota M, Wakabayashi C, et al. Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: an open-label study. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2017 Apr;29(2):72-79; Hidese S, Ota M, Wakabayashi C, et al. Effects of chronic l-theanine administration in patients with major depressive disorder: an open-label study. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2017 Apr;29(2):72-79; White DJ, de Klerk S, Woods W, et al. Anti-Stress, Behavioural and Magnetoencephalography Effects of an L-Theanine-Based Nutrient Drink: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 19;8(1; Unno K, Tanida N, Ishii N, et al. Anti-stress effect of theanine on students during pharmacy practice: positive correlation among salivary ?-amylase activity, trait anxiety and subjective stress. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2013 Oct;111:128-35; Yoto A, Motoki M, Murao S, et al. Effects of L-theanine or caffeine intake on changes in blood pressure under physical and psychological stresses. J Physiol Anthropol. 2012 Oct 29;31:28; Ritsner MS, Miodownik C, Ratner Y, et al. L-theanine relieves positive, activation, and anxiety symptoms in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder: an 8-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 2-center study. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;72(1):34-42; Lu K, Gray MA, Oliver C, et al. The acute effects of L-theanine in comparison with alprazolam on anticipatory anxiety in humans. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2004 Oct;19(7):457-65; Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja LR, et al. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol. 2007 Jan;74(1):39-45.
    11. Barbadoro P, Annino I, Ponzio E, et al. Fish oil supplementation reduces cortisol basal levels and perceived stress: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial in abstinent alcoholics. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Jun;57(6):1110-4; Buydens-Branchey L, Branchey M, Hibbeln JR. Associations between increases in plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids following supplementation and decreases in anger and anxiety in substance abusers. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Feb 15;32(2):568-75; Robinson DG, Gallego JA, John M, et al. A potential role for adjunctive omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for depression and anxietysymptoms in recent onset psychosis: Results from a 16?week randomized placebo-controlled trial for participants concurrently treated with risperidone. Schizophr Res. 2018 Sep 18. pii: S0920-9964(18)30556-5; Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, et al. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Nov;25(8:1725-34; Jacka FN, Pasco JA, Williams LJ, et al. Dietary intake of fish and PUFA, and clinical depressive and anxiety disorders in women. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jun;109(11):2059-66; Matsumura K, Noguchi H, Nishi D, et al. Effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on psychophysiological symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in accident survivors: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Affect Disord. 2017 Dec 15;224:27-31; Su K-P, Tseng P-T, Lin P-Y, et al. Association of use of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids with changes in severity of anxiety symptoms. A syatematic review and meta-analysis. MA Network Open 2015;1(5):e182327
    12. Mischoulon D, Papakostas GI, Dording CM, et al. A double-blind, randomized controlled trial of ethyl-eicosapentaenoate for major depressive disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2009 Dec;70(12):1636-44; Martins JG. EPA but not DHA appears to be responsible for the efficacy of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in depression: evidence from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Coll Nutr 2009;28:525-42; ; Lespérance F, Frasure-Smith N, St-André E, et al. The efficacy of omega-3 supplementation for major depression: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 Aug;72(8):1054-62; Rondanelli M, Giacosa A, Opizzi A, et al. Long chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation in the treatment of elderlydepression: effects on depressive symptoms, on phospholipids fatty acids profile and on health-related quality of life. J Nutr Health Aging. 2011 Jan;15(1):37-44; Jamilian M, Shojaei A, Samimi M, et al. The effects of omega-3 and vitamin E co-supplementation on parameters of mental health and gene expression related to insulin and inflammation in subjects with polycystic ovarysyndrome. J Affect Disord. 2018 Mar 15;229:41-47; Sublette ME , et al. Meta-analysis of the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in clinical trials in depression. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 Dec;72(12):1577-84. doi: 10.4088/JCP.10m06634. Epub 2011 Sep 6; Haberka M, Mizia-Stec K, Mizia M, et al. Effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on depressive symptoms, anxiety and emotional state in patients with acute myocardial infarction. Pharmacol Rep. 2013;65(1):59-68.
    13. Linde K, Berner MM, Kriston L. St John's wort for major depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008:CD000448; Fava M, Alpert J, Nierenberg AA, et al. A Double-blind, randomized trial of St John's wort, fluoxetine, and placebo in major depressive disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2005 Oct;25(5):441-7; Sarris J, Nierenberg AA, Schweitzer I, Alpert JE, Rosenbaum JF, Iovieno N, et al. Conditional probability of response or nonresponse of placebo compared to antidepressants or St John's wort in major depressive disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol 2013;33:827-30.
    14. Yang X, Chen X, Fu Y, et al. Comparative efficacy and safety of Crocus sativus L. for treating mild to moderate major depressive disorder in adults: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2018 May 21;14:1297-1305; Kell G, Rao A, Beccaria G, et al. affron® a novel saffron extract (Crocus sativus L.) improves mood in healthy adults over 4 weeks in a double-blind, parallel, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Complement Ther Med. 2017 Aug;33:58-64; Lopresti AL, Drummond PD, Inarejos-García AM, et al. affron®, a standardised extract from saffron (Crocus sativus L.) for the treatment of youth anxiety and depressive symptoms: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2018 Feb 26;232:349-357; Jelodar G, Javid Z, Sahraian A, et al. Saffron improved depression and reduced homocysteine level in patients with major depression: A Randomized, double-blind study. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2018 Jan-Feb;8(1):43-50.
    15. Williams AL, Girard C, Jui D, Sabina A, Katz DL. S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) as treatment for depression: a systematic review. Clin Invest Med 2005;28:132-9; Sarris J, Papakostas GI, Vitolo O, et al. S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) versus escitalopram and placebo in major depression RCT: efficacy and effects of histamine and carnitine as moderators of response. J Affect Disord. 2014 Aug;164:76-81; Papakostas GI, Mischoulon D, Shyu I, et al. S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) augmentation of serotonin reuptake inhibitors for antidepressant nonresponders with major depressive disorder: a double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2010 Aug;167(8):942-8; Shippy RA, Mendez D, Jones K, et al. S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) for the treatment of depression in people living with HIV/AIDS. BMC Psychiatry. 2004 Nov 11;4:38; Bell KM, Plon L, Bunney WE Jr, et al. S-adenosylmethionine treatment of depression: a controlled clinical trial. Am J Psychiatry. 1988 Sep;145(9):1110-4; Salmaggi P, Bressa GM, Nicchia G, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of S-adenosyl-L-methionine in depressed postmenopausal women. Psychother Psychosom. 1993;59(1):34-40; Bell KM, Potkin SG, Carreon D, et al. S-adenosylmethionine blood levels in major depression: changes with drug treatment. Acta Neurol Scand Suppl. 1994;154:15-8; Delle Chiaie R, Pancheri P, Scapicchio P. Efficacy and tolerability of oral and intramuscular S-adenosyl-L-methionine 1,4-butanedisulfonate (SAMe) in the treatment of major depression: comparison with imipramine in 2 multicenter studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):1172S-6S; Sharma A, Gerbarg P, Bottiglieri T, et al. S-adenosylmethionine for neuropsychiatric disorders: a clinician-oriented review of research. J Clin Psychiatry 2017 June;78(6):e656-e667.
  • People with serious mental illness, on average, die 25 years earlier than the general population.1 This startling fact is largely ignored by both health and mental health providers. And yet, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, one in four Americans has been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorders are the most common diagnosis. With these disorders comes an increased risk of death associated with a myriad of physical illnesses. Cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal, metabolic, neurologic and pulmonary diseases are the top five causes of death. However, most people with a mental disorder have more than one major illness. A prevalence study indicated that of the clients who participated, thirty percent were treated for three or more conditions, a fifth were treated with four or more conditions and some were treated with eight of more conditions.2

    Few psychiatrists or mental health providers understand the nutritional needs of the brain. Rather than address physical conditions, antipsychotic medications are prescribed as the first line of treatment. The underlying physical causes are often ignored. Although the psychiatric symptoms may be ameliorated with the antipsychotic drugs, severe side effects can contribute to or exacerbate existing illnesses. The medications can induce weight gain and worsen other metabolic and cardiovascular disease risk factors. With weight gain and poor diets, for example, the prevalence of diabetes in persons diagnosed with mental illness increased from three percent at onset to 16.5 percent as patients’ age. People who were prescribed antipsychotic medication were also at greater risk for coronary heart disease and stroke. A comprehensive study found a 1.99 – 2.26 fold increase in sudden death in current users of antipsychotic medications.3

    Mental disorders are increasingly being connected to malnutrition. Common deficiencies occur in omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, amino acids and minerals. Omega-3s are vitally important for brain health. As our food choices have moved from natural, whole foods to processed foods, our diet is dominated by omega-6 fatty acids. The ideal balance of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids is a range from 1:1 to 1:4. The balance today, because of the abundance of omega-6s in processed foods, is 1:20. Excessive omega-6s cause cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

    The B vitamins support many brains functions. Deficiencies can cause low energy and problems in activities of daily living. Eighty percent of people with bipolar disorder have some B vitamins deficiencies. The B vitamins also affect cognitive impairment.

    Proteins are the source of amino acids and form the foundation for cell formation and the production of neurotransmitters in the brain. The neurotransmitters function as behavior and mood regulators. They affect serotonin and dopamine the “feel good” hormones. People with schizophrenia often exhibit disturbances in the synthesis of amino acids.

    Minerals are often overlooked as necessary for brain health. Chromium, magnesium, selenium and zinc affect our moods and low levels are correlated with depression. 4,5

    A new paradigm is slowly emerging. New research indicates that nutritional supplements are often effective in reducing psychiatric symptoms. Nutrient dense diets combined with targeted omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins and minerals have been shown to be effective for controlling and to some extent, preventing depression, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, among many others. 5,6

    In the early 1960’s Abram Hoffer, a Canadian biochemist and medical doctor, pioneered an approach that was mindful of the role of nutrition in schizophrenia and other diseases. Called orthomolecular therapy, he defined it as the provision of the optimum environment of the mind. He treated patients with prescribed B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and the minerals selenium, zinc and chromium. He also had his patients eliminate all foods containing sugar along with foods that might cause an allergic reaction.7

    Nutritional studies in the 1970s and 1980s continued to explore the role of nutrients in mental health but were discontinued because of lack of funding.9 The money was invested instead in the pharmaceutical industry where the emphasis was on investigating and producing synthetic drugs. Most nutritional therapies could not be patented and owned and therefore were not profitable. However, nutritional therapy is experiencing a comeback as more evidence indicates that good nutrition is directly connected with brain health and cognitive functioning.8

    As a result, more psychiatrists and other providers are beginning to advocate for and practice nutritional therapy, addressing diet and lifestyle along with prescribing vitamins, minerals and other supplements.9,10 Placing more emphasis on the whole person is necessary to prevent or treat the co-occurring physical disorders that accompany a mental disorder. Persons with a diagnosis of a mental disorder are entitled to a life expectancy that is comparable to that of the general population. As we continue to expand our understanding of what the brain needs and the role of nutrition to improving and maintaining mental health, hopefully their life expectancy will improve over time.

    References:

    1. Parks, J., Svendsen, D., Singer, P., & Tate, M.E. (2006, October). Morbidity and Mortality in People with Mental Illness. National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD). Medical Director Council. Retrieved from www.nasmhpd.org.
    2. Jones, D.R., Macias, C., Barreira, P.J. et al. (2204). Prevalence, severity, and co-occurrence of chronic physical health problems of persons with serious mental illness. Psychiatric Services 55:1250 – 57. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15534013.
    3. De Hert, M., Dekker, J.M., Wood, D. et al. (2009, August 13). Cardiovascular disease and diabetes in people with severe mental illness position statement paper for the European Psychiatric Association (EPA). European Psychiatry, 24, 412–24. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19682863.
    4. Sathyanarayana Rao, T.S., Asha, M.R., Ramesh, B.N. & Jagannatha Rao, K.S. (2008, April–June). Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illness. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 50(2): 77–82). doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.42391.
    5. Goldstein, M. (2013, April 22). Nutritional approaches and diets safely cure mental illness. Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews. com/nutrition.html.
    6. Logan, A.C. (2007). The Brain Diet. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House Publishing.
    7. Abram Hoffer. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abram_Hoffer.
    8. Lakhan, S.E. & Vieira, K. (2008, January,21). Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Nutrition Journal, 7:2 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-2.
    9. Robert J. Hedaya. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/experts/robert-j-hedaya-md-dfapa.
    10. Campbell-McBride, Natasha. (2010). Gut and psychology syndrome: natural treatment for autism, dyspraxia, A.D.D., dyslexia, A.D.H.D., depression, schizophrenia. Cambridge, U.K.: Medinform Publishing.
  • People often ask me, "What are the best things I can do to improve cognitive function?"

    So here's how to get started.
    The key point to realize is that our brain is like our body's motor. It consumes 10 times as much energy for its size as the rest of our body. So what we feed it determines whether it purrs like a Ferrari, or runs in fits and starts, leaving us with "brain farts" through the day.

    So what are the key fuels that our brain needs, as they relate to diet?

    1. Eggs. One of the key memory molecules is called acetylcholine. To make this, our body requires that we take in about 500 mg of choline daily. Interestingly, when a woman does not have enough estrogen, as occurs during perimenopause and menopause, they are more likely to develop memory problems when they don't get enough choline. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/92/5/1113.full. This can be aggravated by certain genetic defects and can be a major player in cognitive dysfunction. The solution? Simply eat one or two eggs a day. Each egg supplies 680 mg of choline. Be sure to eat the egg yolk, as this is the part that has the choline. More good news? Numerous studies have now shown that eating eggs does not increase cholesterol or increase risk of heart disease. In fact, eggs have been shown to be a very healthy food.
    2. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, sardines or mackerel. Most of our brain is made of the omega-3 oils found in fish.
    3. B vitamins and magnesium. These are the key nutrients needed to make energy. They can be found in whole unprocessed foods. For example almonds are a good source of magnesium, and you want your fresh veggies for the B vitamins.
    4. Up to two cups a day of coffee and tea, along with up to an ounce of chocolate daily also can have wonderful benefits for mental clarity.

    For the neurotransmitters, the choline for acetylcholine and to a lesser degree tyrosine to make dopamine would be most important for memory.

    It is especially important give the body the basic raw materials that it normally needs.

    In terms of supplements, the key items that I would recommend (and personally take myself ) are:

    1. Omega 3's—as upwards of 90 percent of the oils in most fish oil products are not Omega 3's, and are more likely to be toxic than helpful, I take one of Vectomega (EuroPharma) daily. This replaces seven large fish oil pills giving optimal support with one small pill.
    2. Energy Revitalization System (Enzymatic Therapy) vitamin powder. This supplies optimal levels of B vitamins, magnesium, amino acids (approximately 950 mg of tyrosine) and other nutrients needed to optimize brain function (including choline) in one low cost simple drink daily.
    3. I add one scoop (5 g) of SHINE ribose powder to the vitamin powder. For the first six weeks, I recommend taking it three times daily. Then it can often be dropped to 1–2 times a day. In our published study, ribose dramatically improved cognitive function in people with fibromyalgia by an average of 30 percent.
    4. I also add CuraMed 750 milligrams once daily for its overall brain and immune system benefits. So basically, for supplements the one Energy Revitalization System (Add a 5g scoop of SHINE Ribose) drink a day and one Vectomega is the best 30 seconds people can spend all day to optimize cognitive function.

    Cognitive Function Intensive Care
    For those with CFS and fibromyalgia, once the above aspects are addressed, the next step is to use the SHINE Protocol to optimize sleep, thyroid and adrenal function and orthostatic intolerance, as well as candida and other infections. The free Energy Analysis Program at www.vitality101.com can tailor the SHINE Protocol to your specific case with a simple 10-minute quiz. It can even assess pertinent lab tests if you have them available.

    Love and blessings,
    Dr. T

  • WELCOME TO 2019! IT’S A BRAND NEW YEAR AND A BRAND NEW YOU…OR NOT.

    Personally, I have given up making any kind of New Year’s resolutions. I tried this once, full of naive motivation, determination and a sense of go-get-it pride. Years ago, I set a New Year’s goal of running outdoors every morning before heading into my London, UK research laboratory to work on brain studies as a Neuroscience Ph.D. student. I was going to get fit again! I even bought new running shoes and headphones for my new motivational music.

    The first morning out in the fresh air, it rained…a lot. I got wet and out-of-breath in three minutes, with the morning rush hour air burning my lungs and nose. Standing at the corner of Camden High Street near the World’s End pub, I considered turning around and briskly walking home, or maybe heading into the pub for a greasy morning breakfast. I must have attempted that same run three more miserable times, before soon accepting defeat by the end of the month.

    So why did I fail? My brain, like yours, works on a reward system — the mesolimbic dopamine system. We do something we like and our brain gives us a buzz of feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters like dopamine, but also adrenaline, oxytocin, and others. Then we do that thing again and get more of those feel-good hormones. The more we do it, the more certain the reward becomes and the stronger the reward pathway. We develop a habit through reward.

    The problem with setting new goals is that our brains are wired to like old habits. Running out in the cold January air didn’t feel as good as an extra cozy hour in bed that morning. In order for new and seemingly painful resolutions to become old and feel-good habits, we have to break through the pain barrier and teach our brains that these activities are in fact good, and they do in fact feel good, too. For many of us, this may seem impossible. But it’s really not.

    A few years after my first running failure, I cheated my brain.

    On a whim, I signed up for the London Marathon…all 26.2 miles of it. I made a big fuss and show on social media, asking for donations for my selected cancer charity, and telling the world I was going to do it. Sure enough, the donations started rolling in. Oh, oh! No turning back now. I began training because I had to. And yes, those first six weeks of running were awful.

    But as my brain began to learn that my health was improving and I was, in fact, feeling better, it gave me more of those feel-good neurotransmitters, got on board with what I was doing and motivated me to keep going. Don’t stop, keep going, have some more dopamine! I was soon hooked. My hate became my habit, and just eight months after my spontaneous decision to run the London Marathon, I proudly completed all 26.2 miles.

    I had completed my New Year’s resolution, several years later. Action determines outcome, intentions do not. So, if you’ve set a New Year, New You resolution, just do it, and do it, and do it. Set your goal and go at it with accountability. Teach your brain that this is a good thing and soon your brain will reward you with a new, healthy habit.

    As my health improved, so did my concentration, focus, and willpower at work. Spending days upon days sitting in a dark room and staring down a microscope at Mad-Cow-disease—infected brain cells—can get a little exhausting. But with my new legs and lungs, I had more energy in the laboratory, more excitement for my discoveries and more love for Neuroscience. I was alive again!

    Fast forward a decade and my work life is still very enjoyable and I still work out daily. I’ve had the privilege of leading laboratory and human studies at Mayo Clinic, and I’ve been fortunate enough to launch my own Neuroscience business, Jonescientific. I wholly believe exercise and diet are a huge part of that success story and that’s why my new business is focused on the things I’ve personally benefited from—exercise and diet. Our aim for Jonescientific is to educate on how to boost your brain health. We’ve also created a new, first-of-its-kind memory and cognition supplement, called Sophrosyne Brain. It takes the best of nature and combines it into a pill that has shown to clearly help improve memory, cognitive functioning and overall brain health.

    Dr. Daryl Jones Jonescientific

    While at Mayo Clinic studying Alzheimer’s disease, I’d often get asked, ‘What can I do to help protect my brain?’ My top three answers were always sleep, exercise, and diet.

    Published scientific research suggests these three things are the most important in protecting your brain from the horrific onslaughts of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. And so I urge you, if you do make a New Year’s resolution this year, pick these, and start with exercise! The beautiful thing is, if you begin with exercise, you’ll soon start to see that your diet also improves as your cravings change, and with improvements in fitness and diet, your sleep improves too. It’s kind of like a three for one deal. A review of the scientific literature published in The Lancet found that over a third of the cases of dementia might have been prevented through such lifestyle changes.1

    Another study including 1,145 people at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease found that aerobic exercise around three times per week for 45 minutes per session improved cognition and delayed cognitive decline, when compared to subjects who did not exercise.2 It is believed that improved cardiovascular health from aerobic exercise plays an integral role in preventing cognitive decline. Healthy heart, healthy brain!

    People who closely follow the Mediterranean diet—which is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, whole grains, and fish—appear to be most protected from Alzheimer’s disease. Many scientific studies have shown the brain benefits of this diet. One of the most recent was a study of 1,865 Greek participants with a mean age of 73 years. This study found those who more closely followed the Mediterranean diet were most protected from cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.3

    This kind of diet is rich in brain-protective nutrients such as curcumin. Curcumin is the principle curcuminoid of turmeric, a member of the ginger family. Curcumin exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, which can help protect the brain against the damage of inflammation and free radicals. An exciting study published by UCLA scientists in 2018 found that 180 mg per day of a bioavailable form of curcumin significantly improved memory over an 18-month period.4

    This study was even more exciting because the scientists also showed that those who took 180 mg of curcumin had a decrease in the amounts of amyloid and tau in brain regions involved in memory and learning.

    Amyloid and tau are the harmful proteins involved in Alzheimer’s disease that begin to accumulate as we age. Thus, this one ingredient is capable of reducing Alzheimer’sassociated proteins and improve memory and attention in adults. As a result, our new brain health supplement, Sophrosyne Brain, contains 180 mg of curcumin per serving. Our formula also contains Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha), a type of shrub that has also been shown to reduce levels of Alzheimer’s-associated proteins in the brain. It does this by enhancing low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein in the liver and flushing harmful proteins out of the brain and into the body, where they can be excreted.5

    As well as diet, good sleep is critical for a healthy brain. There is a fascinating brain disease, which is similar to Mad Cow disease, called Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI). This disorder is extremely rare and usually affects entire members of a single family due to genetic inheritance. As the disease begins to induce degeneration of the brain, patients begin to develop severe insomnia. This is because the degeneration in FFI is particularly striking in two areas of the brain responsible for healthy sleep patterns—the hypothalamus and the brainstem. Worryingly, just one night of sleep deprivation was found to significantly increase amyloid, the protein involved in Alzheimer's disease, thus sleep deprivation may increase the risk of developing full-blown Alzheimer's.6

    Good sleep is essential for the body to clear the brain of any build-up of such harmful proteins that might have occurred during the day. Some consumers of Sophrosyne Brain have reported improved sleeping patterns. Others have reported having more memorable dreams. This is because Sophrosyne Brain contains my favorite herb, Bacopa monnieri. At least four human clinical trials have shown improvements in both memory and cognition with Bacopa monnieri. A 2008 study showed that 300 mg per day over 12 weeks improved cognition and reduced anxiety.7 What's fascinating is that Bacopa acts as an acetyl-cholinesterase inhibitor. Physicians prescribe acetylcholinesterase inhibitors to patients with Alzheimer's disease, in order to increase the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter involved in memory and cognition, but also sleep. During sleep, our brains transition from slow-wave sleep to REM sleep. Fluctuating levels of acetylcholine are essential for memories to be processed, downloaded and stored during this process. Thus, as well as supporting cognition, it appears that Bacopa monnieri supports good sleep by modulating levels of acetylcholine.

    So whatever you do this year, I hope that you will consider incorporating aerobic exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleeping habits. You may not be quite ready to sign up for a full marathon, but sign up for something! Start with a one-mile fun run or family swim, and log on to jonescientific.com to learn more about Sophrosyne Brain and the proven ingredients behind it.

    Here's to a brain-new year and a brain-new you!

    References

    1. Livingtson, G. et al., Dementia prevention, intervention, and care. The Lancet. Volume 390, Issue 10113, Pages 2673–2734. 2017.
    2. Panza, G., et al., Can Exercise Improve Cognitive Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease? Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Volume 66, Pages 487–95. 2018.
    3. Anastasiou C., et al., Mediterranean Diet and cognitive health: initial results from the Hellenic longitudinal investigation of ageing and diet. PLoS One. Volume 12, Issue 8. 2017.
    4. Small, G., et al., Memory and Brain Amyloid and Tau Effects of a Bioavailable Form of Curcumin in Non-Demented Adults: A Double-Blind Placebo Controlled 18-Month Study. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Volume 26, Issue 3. Pages 266–77. 2018.
    5. Shokri-Kojori, E., et al., B-amyloid accumulation in the human brain after one night of sleep deprivation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. Issue 115, Volume 17. Pages 4482–88.
    6. IBID.
    7. Calabrese, C., et al., Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine. Volume 14, Number 6. Pages 707–13. 2008.
  • Sleep deficit you chalk-off as, “no big deal” actually creates a decreasing tolerance within your body and brain with dangerous implications more than just tired and sleepy daytime symptoms. Underlying causes of sleep disorders are as diverse as individuals but the consequences are now scientifically linked to cognitive decline, memory loss, brain-fog, premature aging, and even Alzheimer’s.

    Brain Facts

    • Your brain clears toxins—it does NOT sleep, parts of it actually get more active at night than during the day. According to brain researcher, P.M. Doraiswamy, MD, at Duke University, a newly discovered drainage system called the glymphatic system, goes to work processing and clearing out the brain’s toxins ten times more when we’re sleeping than when we’re awake. A primary protein actively recycled during sleep is responsible for creating amyloid plaque—a marker to Alzheimer’s, although not the only cause.
    • Researchers clearly state chronic sleep deprivation (less than 7–8 hours of regenerative sleep) can lead to irreversible brain damage! A study found extended wakefulness injures neurons essential for alertness and cognitive functions—and—damage can be permanent. The studies also showed short sleep cycles are also linked to a shrinking brain. In addition, studies showed chemicals secreted during deeper sleep are vital for repairing the body and brain.
    • Your internal brain computer does its work of archiving memories from all that stimuli—auditory, visual and neurosensory—like a hard drive in your computer. AND it cannot do its job adequately on 4–5 hours sleep; memory tests prove it.
    • Acetylcholine, a chemical involved in restorative sleep and the dream state, declines in people who begin developing Alzheimer’s because the cells that produce it are destroyed. Lack of deep restorative sleep contributes to destruction of these cells.
    • University of Pennsylvania studies found that prolonging wakefulness damages a type of brain cell called locus ceruleus (LC) neurons that play important roles in keeping us alert and awake.

    Keep in mind that long-term sleep deprivation saps the brain of its power even after many days of sleep recovery. More recent studies shined a bright light of concern about brain changes from sleep deprivation showing disruptions in gene function that can affect overall metabolism, inflammation, and autoimmune disease risk to the body and vital detox for the brain. The CDC reported sleep deprivation is now “epidemic” in the U.S.—is it any wonder disorders like fibromyalgia and other inflammatory disorders are also “epidemic?” The body AND brain need time to rejuvenate, get professional help to identify underlying causes now or you’ll be forced to once a life-altering disorder develops. There ARE effective non-drug options to get you stress-less restorative sleep, consult your natural health provider.