rheumatoid arthritis

  • Creating Energy to Swing at Life from Any Angle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Moducare: For a strong immune system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Saventaro The Good Ghost Cats Claw

    The Amazon rainforest, the largest rainforest on earth, has been targeted by pharmaceutical companies for over a century as a rich source of new plant-derived drugs. The Amazon rain forest is even more so a treasure trove of botanicals for the dietary supplement industry. This rain forest stretches over a billion acres in Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, and the eastern Andean area of Ecuador and Peru. It is home to hundreds of thousands of plants, many of which are used as folk medicines.

    Among the many beneficial traditional Amazon botanicals which have emerged in recent years, Uña de gato, or Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa), is one of the most beneficial of all. A woody vine, the plant earns its name due to its sharp, claw-like thorns. Dispersed throughout Central and South America, cat's claw has been used for centuries by native tribes. The entire Uncaria genus, of which there are 60 or so known species, occurs in the tropics. These are coarse shrubs which climb by means of sharp spines or thorns. One species, Uncaria guianensis, is also called cat's claw. But this species lacks the same broad use and science as Uncaria tomentosa.

    Good Ghost, Bad Ghost
    One of the tribes most associated with cat's claw is the Ashaninka. Their tribal name means "belonging to the Inca." Formerly fierce warriors, the Ashaninka served as the last line of stubborn and dangerous defense against the Spanish conquest of Peru and the eventual destruction of the Incan empire. Many Ashaninka people live in the Chanchamayo region of the Peruvian Amazon, an area of hilly and mountainous rain forest. According to the Ashaninka healers, there are two types of cat's claw, good ghost plants and bad ghost plants. The Ashaninka call the good ghost cat's claw Saventaro, meaning powerful plant. You have to be an expert to know the difference. Fast-forwarding to the scientific present, scientists now have identified two distinct chemotypes of cat's claw. The good ghost cat's claw plants contain POA's or pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids. These compounds provide significant benefits to health. But the so-called bad ghost plants contain TOA's, tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids, which actually counteract the beneficial effects of the plant. The Ashaninka explanation of which plants to use and which to avoid are affirmed and explainable by modern scientific analysis. The bridge between traditional knowledge and scientific rigor is being established with thousands of medicinal plants worldwide. Among medicinal plants from Amazonia, Saventaro is a science heavyweight.

    Powerful Plant
    On a hot, sunny day, I stood overlooking a long green river valley outside of La Merced Peru with Johannes Keplinger, a bright and talented Austrian familiar with that region, the Ashaninka people, and Saventaro cat's claw. His father, Klaus Keplinger, is a pioneer in the study and promotion of cat's claw, or Saventaro. Klaus Keplinger is a true friend of the Ashaninka people, and has worked hard for decades on their behalf. Elder Keplinger's dedication to the cat's claw cause traces back to an influential meeting with a shaman in 1959, when he took part in a mountaineering expedition in Peru. The Ashaninka shaman told Keplinger about a healing plant. That plant was Saventaro, the POA chemotype, or good ghost cat's claw. In the early 1970's Keplinger was told about a successful cancer treatment of a friend, using cat's claw. Keplinger returned to the Chanchamayo region in 1975, and has worked with the Ashaninka people in the sustainable harvesting and initial processing of the POA chemotype of cat's claw, Saventaro, for eventual manufacture into a standardized extract. Keplinger's son Johannes now is responsible for the project, which operates in Austria under the name Immodal Pharmaka.

    Joining Johannes and me were photographer Donna Horn and an Ashaninka Indian named Josias Macuyama. We were together to visit every aspect of the world of Saventaro cat's claw, from the forest to drying harvested material. Donna shot photographs throughout the entire trip, while Josias works directly with the Keplinger family in the Saventaro cat's claw project. Josias is an influential and respected man in the Ashaninka world. As one of the tribe, he knows the challenges his people face. At the same time, Josias enjoys a European education, and a broader world perspective. The four of us made a friendly and cooperative quartet as we travelled throughout the Chanchamyo region of the Peruvian Amazon, meeting with a broad range of people involved with Saventaro cat's claw.

    We hiked into the hot rainforest to see cat's claw plants with a couple of native Ashaninka harvesters named Mario and Nestor, and a local medicine man Manuel Harena. There we witnessed first hand how Ashaninka people harvest Saventaro cat's claw in three ways that set them apart from others. First the harvesters visually determining whether a plant is the right chemotype. Secondly, they harvest root material instead of bark, which is more common. Additionally, they maintain a sustainable harvesting project in thousands of acres of rain forest, protecting the natural habitat and preventing depletion of cat's claw supplies. The Ashaninka use GPS units to identify exact locations of cat's claw plants, which can be huge, twining through an acre or more of forest, winding around trees, taking over a lot of ground. Each plant is tagged with an identification code. Up to one third of the lateral roots of a plant is harvested, and then that plant is left alone for ten years before any further harvesting takes place. This enables new lateral roots to grow, and contrasts sharply with harvesting of cat's claw in many other regions, where plants are cut down and ripped up, dried and ground, decimating forest and depleting supplies of this potent rain forest medicine.

    Compounds in Cat's Claw
    The phytochemistry of cat's claw, Uncaria tomentosa has been very well studied. Uncaria tomentosa contains numerous phytochemicals that account for the plant's traditional and current uses. The highly studied oxindole alkaloids, notably the POA's, demonstrate immune-modulating and antileukemic activity. Other constituents called quinovic acid glycosides show anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity. Antioxidant phenols and plant sterols contribute to the plant's anti-inflammatory properties. Yet another group of cat's claw compounds called carboxyl alkyl esters demonstrate immune-enhancing, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory activity, as well as cell-repairing properties.

    In his Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary, botanist Dr. James A. Duke describes the use of cat's claw in Peru for anti-inflammatory, and cytostatic (retards tumor cells) purposes. In popular literature, cat's claw is increasingly promoted for its well established immune enhancing properties. Studies support the traditional use of cat's claw for anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing purposes. By helping to prevent and repair damage to DNA, cat's claw may possibly prove to be a bonafide life extender.

    Cat's Claw Benefits
    Studies conducted with the POA chemotype of cat's claw show that these agents possess anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antiviral and immune-stimulating properties. The POA alkaloids in the vine demonstrate immune-enhancing activity by producing an increase in phagocytosis, a process by which potentially harmful materials are "eaten" by protective cells. In studies of quinovic acid glycosides in the plant, researchers observed significant anti-inflammatory activity. Additionally, these same compounds were shown to inhibit several types of common viruses. In studying triterpenoid saponins, scientists observed that these chemical agents inhibited the growth of some tumor cells. In Austria, Saventaro cat's claw extract is prescribed by physicians under the name Krallendorn for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In many cases, it enables sufferers of this disease to gradually ease off of medication and live normal lives. The extract demonstrates benefit as an adjunct to chemotherapy and radiotherapy in cancer treatment, and improves overall parameters of health in cases of various cancers. Saventaro cat's claw also helps to treat viral infections including Herpes simplex and Varicella zoster, and improves immune function and several parameters of life quality in cases of HIV and Aids. This phytochemical-packed Amazonian plant has become a highly studied and effective medicine.

    Cat's Claw and Sustainability
    One challenge we face in the era of modern plant medicine is how to engage in herbal work in a manner that sustains plants, people and the natural environment. In addition to harvesting Saventaro cat's claw root in an eco-friendly way, the collaboration between Immodal and the Ashaninka people provides other benefits. Harvesters of Saventaro cat's claw root are paid a fair daily wage that exceeds local wages. They are additionally paid per kilo of lateral roots harvested. After that, additional funds accrue to the Ashaninka villages for medicine and education. This type of green business bodes well for the future.

    Some people state that the Amazon rain forest should be better protected, because someday we may find an extraordinary rainforest remedy that is a true lifesaver, one that treats serious diseases and provides extraordinary health benefits. We don't need to wait for some future discovery to start taking better care of one of the greatest geographic resources on earth. The traditional native medicine cat's claw is that extraordinary rainforest remedy. The POA chemotype of cat's claw, called Saventaro by the Ashaninka Indians, demonstrates profound medicinal value. Its immune-modulating, antiviral, antitumor and anti-inflammatory effects make Saventaro a medicine deserving of greater recognition and more widespread use.