Search Term: " Nerve Endings "
What Is Camphor Oil Good For
February 13, 2014 06:03 AM
What is camphor
Camphor oil is a medicinal substance extracted from the wood, leaves and roots of the camphor tree. Typically, the camphor tree is usually found in some parts of Southern Asia, South America and in various parts of the United States. Although the oil from camphor tree is harmful when ingested in excess amounts, it has various benefits if used topically. Basically, I did a decent research and got a lot of good information indicating how needful the oil is.
Camphor has been widely used to alleviate definitive skin medical conditions. The FDA has approved the oil extracted from camphor for the relief of any form of skin irritation or any other general pain related to skin issues. To provide pain relief for bruised areas, camphor oil is applied as a liniment on the affected skin part.
The oil is known to boost the functioning of the circulatory system and some metabolic activities of the body like digestion and excretion. Information on organicfacts.net reveals the importance of the oil in the treatment of ailments associated with improper circulation, sluggish or overactive metabolic rates and some other less common medical conditions.
Both the internal and external types of inflammation can be cured due to the cooling and penetrating effects of the oil. It can be mixed with bathing water to provide an extra sensation of coolness.
Respiratory conditions such as cold and coughing should worry you the less. Clear guideline indicate how the oil can be ingested in the form of tea, thus reducing congestion within the respiratory tract.
Camphor is a reasonably effective anesthetic that is widely used in local anesthesia. It increases the numbness of the sensory nerves at the area of application. Consequently the severity to develop nervous disorders or convulsions is greatly reduced.
Research studies shows that when camphor oil is applied, it numbs the Nerve Endings, then warms the painful area while stimulating the circulation to stiff muscles and limbs. Ultimately this makes camphor a favorite oil which can be effectively used to relieve muscular pain, back pain and arthritic pain.
What Makes Curamin Such A Good Natural Pain Remedy?
March 07, 2012 06:57 AM
Curamin: A Natural Anti-Inflammatory
When Nerve Endings become irritated, they cause pain. This is because of factors such as lack of sleep, hormonal imbalance, stress, nutritional imbalance, etc. Pain is generally symptomatic of some dysfunction or inflammation in our body and the first reaction for those suffering from it is to reach out for a pain killer. This is where Curamin comes in.
Curamin is a proprietary formula and a curcumin based supplement. Curcumin is a beneficial compound found in turmeric, a popular Indian spice. Turmeric has been used since centuries in the field of alternate medicine like Ayurveda because of its many medicinal properties. The compound, curcumin in fact, has the ability to reduce pain by supporting the body's ability to respond to swelling and inflammation. It has been found equivalent to some popular allopathic pain killers. Apart from this, it also has antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anticancer properties and has been found to promote anti depressant and cognitive enhancement benefits.
Curamin is a product having a formula based on this particular compound of turmeric and is therefore extracted out of natural ingredients and has been found to have minimal side effects. Curamin, apart from other ingredients, also contains a strain of curcumin that has a high absorption factor which makes it several times more effective and stronger than plain curcumin products. It not only balances the body's response to inflammation but also has been observed to have a consistent and long lasting effect. Therefore, this makes curamin the most effective form of curcumin available.
Studies have established that curamin is safe and does not interfere with kidney, liver or stomach functions. The safe dosage recommended by the company is two pills twice a day for pain alleviation and not more than 8 pills within a 24-hour period. An overdose of such herbal products may sometimes cause intestinal discomfort at the most.
Main Ingredients of Curamin
Curamin has four principle ingredients that have an overall effect on inflammation caused in the bones and joints due to arthritis or overuse and exercise. These ingredients include: DL-phenylalanine or DLPA is a two part amino acid that acts as a positive mood enhancer by preventing the breakdown of enkephalin compound and also helps in the production of brain chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine. Boswellia that helps to prevent the activity of the inflammatory enzyme. Curcumin which helps block multiple pathways within the body to retard and stop inflammation. Nattokinase which is an enzyme that helps the fast absorption of the ingredients through the body by promoting blood flow and improving circulation.
Benefits of Curamin
Curamin has helped people suffering from problems like arthritis, migraines, bursitis, and soreness caused by accidents or injuries. It also helps build resistance and immunity to inflammation concerned especially with the bones and joints.
Curamin, being a plant based product has no toxic effects and is available with many natural medicine practitioners and pharmacies. It is a very effective natural alternative to allopathic drugs and painkillers that over a long term use cause many side effects, some of which are potent.
If you are in pain, try curamin today!
How Does Holy Basil Extract Help With Pain
June 06, 2011 02:43 PM
Holy Basil And Your Health.
Holy Basil, technically known as Ocimum tenuiflorum, is a perennial plant which is a member of the family Lamiaceae. This kind of plant is commonly cultivated in the tropics region but can also be seen as an escape weeds. Holy Basil plant is an upright shrub with many hairy branches that can grow up to 30 to 60 centimeters in height. It has an aromatic leaves in green color that are slightly toothed. It also bears flowers which are purple in color and also has a strong scent. Holy Basil has many medicinal uses. In fact, in South Asian regions, Holy Basil is commonly utilized as an herbal tea.
Holy Basil claimed to be an effective pain treatment. Clinical studies show that this plant contains high amounts of Eugenol which mimics the actions of COX – 2 Inhibitor drugs. COX – 2 Inhibitors is a pain killer which is classified as Non – Steroidal Anti – Inflammatory Drug or NSAID. This type of drug is directly targets the enzyme Cyclooxygenase – 2 which is responsible for inflammatory response. Inflammation is associated with swelling which further cause pain. If an area is swollen, the Nerve Endings are compressed therefore pain is felt.
Aside from its potent pain alleviating property, Holy Basil is also useful in reducing blood sugar levels. This is the reason why it is utilized as an effective treatment for diabetes mellitus. Holy Basil also has an antioxidant effect. As we know for a fact, antioxidants are useful in eliminating harmful toxins in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals can damage cells and even tamper DNA formation during cellular division. Other benefit of Holy Basil includes its anti – stress property. Holy Basil leaves are considered to be an adaptogen or anti – stress agent which protects an individual against various stressors. Experts recommend that an individual can consume a dozen of Holy Basil leaves two times daily to prevent stress. Holy Basil leaves are thought to purify blood thus improving blood circulation and tissue oxygenation.
Aside from Eugenol, Holy Basil also contains the compound Carvacrol which has a strong antibacterial property. Carvacrol has the capacity to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria such as E. coli and Bacillus cereus. Carvacrol is also an effective digestive aid. Research reveals that Carvacrol is can alleviate gastric upset and improve digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
Holy Basil extracts are reported to be safe and effective in helping alleviate pain and treating other health conditions. Experts suggest that Holy Basil is not for long – term use. It must be used only for a maximum of four weeks. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers must not use this supplement to be completely safe. Holy Basil is discovered to slow blood clotting therefore it must not be used within two weeks before and after any type of surgery. Finally, though Holy Basil extracts are relatively safe, it would still be best to consult a qualified healthcare provider and discuss with him or her your health status and history.
Get some today and reap the benefits of this wonderful herb for yourself!
Using Cherries to Deal with Arthritis
May 25, 2011 03:41 PM
Call it what you will: arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or gout - cherries can deal with it and enable you live and sleep more comfortably than without them. When the bones and lubrication systems of your joints become worn you begin to feel pain - not because your bones are grinding against each other but because of the inflammatory response of your immune system.
Your cartilage begins to wear and your body reacts to the damage first by activating cells already close by - macrophages, mastocytes, dendritic cells and so on, and then calls on the release of leukocytes such as neutrophils. Your blood vessels dilate to enable the large cells to get to the general area of the problem, and then leak to enable fluids to get right to the exact spot where they are needed.
With arthritis, the joint swells because of the above actions, and the synovial fluid can become infected and inflamed. The temperature around the joint increases in temperature to render it less attractive to invading cells and pathogens, and you feel pain because of the pressure on your Nerve Endings. Then you should take some cherry extract.
The activity of the cytokines and prostaglandins that are creating this situation is suppressed, and the temperature starts to drop. The blood vessels are contracted and the situation begins to return to normal. One more bout of inflammation successfully dealt with, and now that you understand what has caused it you will be better placed to get the cherry extract down your throat next time.
Buy It And Try It Today!
What Is Slippery Elm Bark and How Does It Help Improve Colon And Digestive Health
April 08, 2011 11:27 AM
Slippery Elm History.
Slippery elm bark is an herbal remedy derived entirely from a tree species of the same name. Its use in maintaining colon health has been associated with Native Americans, who continue to use the inner bark of the tree as a treatment for skin conditions, gum problems, and sore throats in addition to digestive problems. In recent years, there have been numerous citations of its ability to significantly alleviate illnesses of the gastrointestinal tract, and its use has even been suggested by medical professionals in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers, and abdominal pains.
Ulmus rubra is a tree species native to North America, but its range and distribution is limited to Southern Quebec down to Northern Florida and west to eastern Texas. It prefers soils that are rich in moisture, with large populations present in uplands, but it also thrives well in dry regions. This deciduous tree is commonly known by the names Slippery elm, Red elm, Moose elm, and Indian elm. The name Red elm refers to its heartwood that is reddish-brown in color. The leaves and the inner bark are dried and powdered beforehand, and then made into a tea or packed as supplements.
Increases Mucus Secretions
Recent studies have observed that slippery elm bark stimulates the Nerve Endings of the intestinal walls. Excess acidity is thought to result from both the diet and the stomach’s secretions of hydrochloric acid. While peptic ulcers are often caused by invasive pathogens, cases in which the acidic environment in the stomach brings on lesions in the gastrointestinal tract are not uncommon. Slippery elm bark works on the principle of inducing the secretions of gastrointestinal mucosa, which rebalances the pH inside the digestive tract.
Slippery Elm Bark Properties
Exhibits Antioxidant Properties
Researchers ascribe the effects of slippery elm bark on inhibiting inflammation of the digestive tract to its antioxidant properties. Free radicals have been tied to many diseases, and inflammatory bowel disease is believed to be influenced by an imbalance between free radicals and the antioxidant defense of the body. Indeed free radicals can cause tissue damage as each cell’s ability to neutralize them is compromised. Unfortunately they are a natural by-product of oxygen metabolism and other chemical reactions, which means the only way to dispose of them is to strengthen cellular antioxidant defense.
Heals Lesions and Ulcerations
Native Americans have long used slippery elm bark as an ingredient in salves used for wounds and sores. It is widely accepted that medicinal products containing powdered slippery elm bark reduce inflammation and speed up the process of healing. For the same reasons, oral administrations appear to produce similar effects on ulcerations of the alimentary canal, allaying abdominal pains.
Slippery elm bark is a known cleanser for the gastrointestinal tract. People who felt benefited from it believe it eases stomach cramps and improve colon disturbances. While more studies are needed for its efficacy, slippery elm bark products are generally considered to be safe.
Slippery Elm bark is excellent therapy for the digestive tract. Don’t be with out it!
What is Vinpocetine and How Does it Help with Memory?
March 24, 2011 02:18 PM
Vinpocetine And Brain Health
Vinpocetine is a derivative of an organic compound found in the plant species Vinca minor, or common periwinkle. It is best known for its neuroprotective effects and used in Europe and Japan in treatment of age-related cognitive decline. More often than not, its activities inside the human body are described as vasodilator, which means it increases blood flow. It has also seen a growing presence in the North American market as a dietary supplement.
Vinpocetine is available as a prescription drug in certain European countries and Japan and has shown to be speed up prognosis of patients who suffered cerebrovascular accident, or CVA, which is commonly referred to as stroke. Most cases of cerebrovascular accident are brought on by ischemia, or very poor circulation of blood to certain parts of the brain. This is exactly what vinpocetine is beneficial for, and recommended dosages have so far yielded very encouraging results.
Improves Blood Circulation in the Brain
It has long been postulated that one of the mechanisms of action of vinpocetine is limiting the effects of Na+ channels that are sensitive to voltage. This creates a neuroprotective effect believed to contribute to mental clarity and sustained attention. Striatal Nerve Endings produce extracellular Ca+ ions that induce neuronal damage through a phenomenon called excitotocity. High levels of Ca+ ions are now alleged to be correlated with voltage-sensitive Na+ channels. Striatal Nerve Endings see a decline in Ca+ ions when Na+ channels are influenced by vinpocetine, and in the process lessen excitotoxicity.
Attenuates Ischemic Neuronal Damage
In addition to limiting neuronal damage induced by excitotoxicity, which in turn results from cerebral ischemia, vinpocetine plays an active role in the upkeep of brain cells after being subjected to ischemic damage. As a vasodilator, it not only counters the effects of ischemia but also significantly increases the brain’s access to bioactive molecules like oxygen and other nutrients exclusively distributed by the circulatory system.
It also inhibits the enzyme phosphodiesterase, which is specialized for the breakdown of cyclic adenosine monophosphate, or cAMP, and cyclic guanosine monophosphate, or cGMP. By so doing, vinpocetine contributes to glucose metabolism and energy production in the brain, and at the same time, improves the distribution of bioactive compounds in the central nervous system.
Displays Neuroprotective Activities
Vinpocetine and its precursor belong to a group of indole alkaloids known as tryptomines, which are present in the human brain and the rest of the central nervous system in minute quantities. These organic compounds make up several psychoactive drugs and in the human body act as neuromodulators and neurotransmitters in the form of melatonin and serotonin.
Vinpocetine in particular displays activities that are primarily anti-inflammatory in nature. Several studies point to its effects on the enzyme complex called IkB kinase, which regulates cellular responses to inflammation, by preventing the translocation of a protein complex called responsible for the process of inflammation within cells.
In a Nutshell, vinpocetine can help you think clearer and protect the brain from inflammation and free radical damage. Give vinpocetine a try today!
Cherry Fruit Extract
April 28, 2008 02:45 PM
Cherry fruit extract contains organic compounds known as flavanoids, which is a form of phytochemical frequently found in highly colored fruits and vegetables. If you eat a fruit such as pomegranate, blueberry, blackberry or cherry, or if you eat red peppers, aubergines and broccoli, you are eating foods that are rich in flavanoids.
Such foods provide you with remarkable health benefits that your ancestors knew about but did not understand. They ate these highly colored foods because they knew they helped prevent certain medical conditions, and to help others get well faster. They knew nothing about phytochemicals – chemicals contained in plants – or flavanoids, but knew about the results of eating them.
In fact, flavanoids are very powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and each of these require more detailed explanation since between them, oxidants and inflammation are responsible for most of the non-infectious common ailments of the human body. First, let’s have a look at antioxidants.
In chemical terms oxidation is the removal of an electron from an atom or molecule. There are species within your body known as free radicals whose sole purpose in their short life is to steal an electron from the nearest molecule to them. This is almost instantaneous, and most free radicals are very short lived. The concept of free radicals roaming your body and your bloodstream waiting to pounce on the first unwary molecule is a fairy tale. In fact the vast majority react as soon as they are formed.
When they do react, they remove an electron from a stable molecule, render it unstable and thus destroy it. If that molecule is part of a cell, and enough of them are robbed of their electrons, then the cell is destroyed. One result in visible terms is wrinkling of your skin, as your skin cells become destroyed, and hence you age quicker. In terms that you are not immediately aware of, oxidation can lead to many unwanted changes in your body.
For example, the low density lipids, that carry the cholesterol in your blood to areas of the body where it is needed, are oxidized by free radicals which causes the LDL to deposit along with their cholesterol on the walls of your arteries as a layer of plaque. Eventually that will build up to constrict the artery and cause a condition known as atherosclerosis – the arteries become blocked, and you can suffer from heart attacks and strokes.
These free radicals are formed by the normal metabolism of the body when energy is created in the cell mitochondria, by pollutants such as pesticides, cigarette smoke and traffic fumes, and by radiation such as excessive exposure to the UV radiation in sunlight.
Flavanoids, contained in cherry fruit extract, are antioxidants, which prevent this oxidation of body cells from taking place. They do so by being in the right place at the right time. If a flavanoid molecule is close to a free radical when it is generated, then the antioxidant will reduce the free radical and neutralize it.
If you eat a lot of cherries, or drink cherry fruit extract, you will be consuming a massive amount of flavanoids molecules that are ready and willing to destroy these free radicals. However, that is not all that flavanoids do. They are also, as has already been stated, anti-inflammatories.
The inflammatory response is the reaction of the body to a foreign presence such as bacteria. The tissues around the infected area receive an increased blood supply, and the cell walls produce gaps allowing the large immune system blood cells, or macrophages, to pass through. The temperature around the area increases due to the concentration of blood, and this itself is controlled by the body since bacteria die off after a certain body temperature has been reached, hence the reason for fever in the immune response.
The area swells up due to the concentration of fluid and protein, and becomes painful due to pressure on Nerve Endings. Anti-inflammatories, such as the flavanoids, work to relieve the symptoms of inflammation without interfering with the way the immune system deals with infection.
Many inflammatory conditions occur without any apparent reason, and while anti-inflammatories might not be used to suppress the immune system, it is used in such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis where the inflammation is a mis-firing of the immune system. Cherry fruit extract can be used to alleviate many similar conditions such as gout, and osteoarthritis where its use is well known and recorded.
It can also be used to help reduce the effects of atherosclerosis through its anti-oxidant properties, and cherries contain, not only a good supply of flavanoids, but also anthocyanins, another group of powerful antioxidants. They also contain vitamin C which is also a strong antioxidant.
Another property of flavanoids is their collagen strengthening properties, which they achieve by cross-linking the fibers to form a string fibrous network. That can be used to strengthen the walls of veins, and render them less liable to stretch or expand, thus providing them with the rigidity needed to prevent varicose veins caused by the puddling of blood below weak valves. They have the same effect on arteries, providing increased strength and a reduction in the blood pressure needed to pump blood round the body.
A good intake of cherry fruit in your diet will help to improve the condition of your cartilage and other connective tissue in addition to your veins and arteries, and is particularly appropriate for athletes who place great stresses on connective tissues such as the tendons that transfer muscular energy to the levers – the long bones.
In summary, then, cherry fruit extract and the flavanoids and anthocyanins it contains, posses properties to help relieve the symptoms of gout, and various forms of arthritis, to reduce the likelihood of cholesterol oxidation that leads to heart disease and strokes, to help strengthen the walls of veins and arteries and to improve the strength of connective tissue such as cartilage and tendons.
In other words, to improve the quality of life of the majority of the population that suffers from one or more of these conditions. After learning about the health benefits of cherries and all the mounting evidence in research, my question to you is why did the FDA make cherry farmers pull the health benefits of cherries from their websites with threats of legal action if not removed? Makes a person wonder who is on our side and who isn’t?
First, the Painful Inflammation
April 03, 2008 12:43 PM
Inflammation occurs because of the reaction of your immune system to what it perceives as being the presence in your tissues of dangerous foreign particles. Your immune system generally reacts to particles. Typical particles are bacteria and viruses, pollen, smoke, your own body cells that are not doing what they should, moulds and fungi, and various other things that can circulate in your blood.
There are several reasons for the immune system being activated, some of them historical due to your body having an imprinted memory of previous bacteria and viruses that it has dealt with, and others the reaction to new invaders that it has never met before, and for which your immune system creates antibodies to destroy. Another is the recognition of abnormal body cells that have to be destroyed before they can proliferate, and yet another is when the immune system gets confused and itself damages your own tissues such as in rheumatoid arthritis.
Whatever the cause, inflammation is a common result of the immune system going to work, and can be extremely painful. It can cause damage to our own joints, vascular system and major organs, although treatment of the inflammation does not reduce the effectiveness of the immune response. You can safely treat the inflammation with anti-inflammatories and painkillers without the condition getting worse.
Common physical manifestations of inflammation are the swollen and painful joints of rheumatoid arthritis (osteoarthritis is not an immune response), the swelling in the airway of asthma, the spots and swellings of measles and chickenpox, the lesions of psoriasis and the swelling and pain of abrasions and cuts that have gone ‘septic’ or ‘poisoned’. The latter two are simply examples of the effect of phagocytes and leucocytes on bacterial infection – the white blood cells and their cohorts!
The reason that inflammation causes pain is that it affects Nerve Endings, and causes pressure against the damaged tissues that initiated the immune response. Although regular painkillers can control the pain of inflammation to an extent, they are generally not the ideal treatment. Herbal treatments are not necessarily always the ideal treatments either, but boswellia is one herb that has been proved to be effective in reducing the pain of inflammation.
Cayenne pepper is a very hot ground spice
February 01, 2006 11:30 AM
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF CAPSICUM
June 23, 2005 11:20 AM
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF CAPSICUM
Capsicum is a remarkable whole body stimulant that can boost blood flow, tone the nervous system, relieve indigestion, promote sweating, help to cauterize and heal ulcers, ease persistent pain and fight off infection. One very authoritative work on African plants suggests that Capsicum’s “regular ingestion is highly beneficial in hemorrhoids, varicose veins, anorexia, liver congestion and vascular conditions . . .the indigenous inhabitants of Africa and of the Antilles are remarkably free form all of these conditions as they use Capsicum fruit in their diet.”10 Most of the therapeutic actions of Capsicum are attributed to the alkaloid or glucoside content of the herb.11 The latest scientific studies conducted with Capsicum will be discussed in subsequent sections.
Because Capsicum boosts peripheral circulation and stimulates organ secretion, it expedites the therapeutic delivery and action of other herbs. In other words, the medicinal benefits of these herbs reach infected or inflamed tissue more rapidly due to enhanced blood flow.12 Consider the following statement: “Cayenne will insure the rapid and even distribution of the active principles of the rest of the herbs to critical function - al centers of the body, including those involved in cellular respiration, metabolism, data transmission, and neural-hormonal activation. Cayenne is included in several other blends for this reason. In extremely small quantities it can dramatically increase the efficiency of most other herbs.”13 Many health practitioners believe that the key to healing is CAPSICUM stimulation. Capsicum stimulates eve rything from blood flow to peristaltic action in the stomach, to intestinal transit time. The re m a rkable ability of Capsicum to stimulate organ secretion and even heart action makes it one of the strongest natural stimulants known. Se veral different kinds of herbal blends targeting various body systems will utilize Capsicum to boost the formula’s efficacy.
Capsicum is said to be unequaled for its ability to boost circulation and increase heart action. Interestingly, cultures who consume significant amounts of cayenne pepper in their diet have much lower rates of cardiovascular disease.14 Capsicum exerts a variety of desirable actions on the entire card i ovascular system. It has the extraordinary ability to enhance cardiovascular performance while actually lowering blood pressure.15 A quote taken from a card i ovascular publication re a d s , “Capsaicin has also been shown to prolong cardiac action potential in atrial muscle . . .”16 Michael T. Murray, N.D., has stated, “ Cayenne pepper [Capsicum] should be recommended as a food for its beneficial antioxidant and cardiovascular effects.”17 Herbalists have considered Capsicum as a superior “f o o d” for the heart. In fact, in cases where a heart attack is suspected administering capsicum in hot water has been thought to help lessen the severity of the attack. Capsicum can also be placed on or under the tongue in emergencies involving heart attack, stroke or hemorrhaging. 18 Note: Using Capsicum for any heart-related problem, especially a suspected heart attack should never take the place of medical attention or a physician’s care.
CAPSICUM Blood Cholesterol Reducer
Various studies have conclusively demonstrated that Capsicum reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the a rteries) by reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels .19 Additional clinical studies conducted in India found that when cayenne was ingested along with dietary cholesterol, the typical rise in liver and blood serum cholesterol levels was significantly inhibited. In addition, bile acids and free cholesterol were subsequently eliminated from the body through the stool.20 Interestingly, these tests revealed that using Capsicum was actually more effective in reducing cholesterol that capsaicin alone.2 1 Daniel Mowrey, Ph.D., emphatically points out that this is just one of many examples of the superiority of whole botanicals as opposed to their isolated components.22 Note: Using Capsicum in combination with Hawthorn is a particularly good cardiovascular tonic.
Blood Pressure Equalizer
While an added bonus of Capsicum’s capability to lower blood serum cholesterol is a decrease in blood pressure, additional evidence strongly suggests that the herb initiates other mechanisms that fight hypertension .23 “Cayenne, according to another study, also reduces the blood pressure in an even more direct manner: a number of years ago, a team of researchers discove red that capsaicin acts in a reflexive manner to reduce systemic blood pressure, a kind of coronary chemoreflex.”24 Adding Garlic to Capsicum creates an even better therapeutic blend for treating hypertension.
Blood Detoxification CAPSICUM
“Cayenne is a kind of catalyst in the blood purification process . . . it acts as a diaphoretic, stimulating the excretion of wastes in the swe a t . ”25 Because Capsicum stimulates organ secretion and boosts peripheral blood flow, it would only stand to reason that it would also facilitate the faster removal of toxins from the bloodstream and lymphatic system. You may have already noticed that Capsicum is frequently added to blood-purifying herbal combinations. Circulatory Booster Researchers have found that the simulating action of Capsicum on surface capillaries can help to pre vent cold hands and feet.2 6 For this reason, it may be helpful for Reynaud’s Syndrome. Old remedies using Capsicum have even recommended placing it in socks to warm the feet and to help prevent frostbite. An old folk cure for a chilled body was a steaming hot cup of Capsicum tea. Free Radical Scavenger The rich flavonoid content of Capsicum gives it significant antioxidant capabilities. A recent study conducted in 1995 showed that Capsicum has a higher ascorbic acid content than chiles from the jalapeno or serrano varieties .27 Vitamin C and bioflavonoids can scavenge for dangerous free radicals which cause tissue damage and can predispose organs to degenerative diseases. Free radicals are found everywhere and are created as by-products of metabolic p rocesses including the act of breathing itself. Pollutants can expose the body to free radicals. An interesting study done in Mexico City and published in 1993 found that Capsicum extract was able to modulate the mutagenic activity of urban air samples.28 In other words, these potentially dangerous nitro - a romatic compounds found in polluted air were kept from mutating by red chile extract.29 Chemical breakdowns of Capsicum have also found that CAPSICUM the pepper is high in Provitamin A, which significantly contributes to its healing ability and immune fortification.30 Anti-Carcinogenic Compound Anti-cancer research recently tested Capsicum on laboratory rats and found that it does indeed demonstrate anti-cancer properties by inhibiting certain enzymes which can initiate the mutation of cells.31 What this implies is that taking Capsicum can afford the body some protection against the cellular mutation which occurs in malignant growths. Capsicum actually inhibited the formation of dangerous metabolites under laboratory conditions where they should have normally been activa t e d .3 2 This study implies that Capsicum may have many more sophisticated bio-chemical actions than previously thought.
An Impressive Pain Killer
Capsaicin has recently emerged as a remarkably effective pain reliever and has become the subject of recent clinical research . Applying capsaicin in cream or ointment form to painful joints, scar tissue or other painful conditions involving peripheral nerves confuses pain transmitters. In other worlds, capsaicin temporarily disrupts sensory nerve cell biochemistry there by impeding the relay of pain sensations from the skin surface. It does this by inhibiting a neurotransmitter called substance P. This specific compound is thought to be the main mediator of pain impulses from peripheral Nerve Endings.33 Substance P has also demonstrated its ability to inhibit inflammatory pain generated in arthritic joints in much the same way.34 Today, several over-the-counter topical preparations utilize capsaicin for the pain of arthritic joints. The ability of Capsicum to control severe and unresponsive pain is significant, to say the least. Modern clinical utilization of topical capsaicin may offer signifi-cant relief for a number of painful conditions including: diabetic neuropathy, cluster headaches, post-amputation pain, post-mastectomy pain, shingles and painful scar tissue.35
In the early spring of 1996, prime time national news show s reported that scientists had found that individuals who had suffered from chronic pain in post-surgical scars (heart bypass, arterial grafts, etc.) were successfully treated with topical preparations containing capsaicin. While this may have been news to many of us, clinical studies had been already published for several years that capsaicin held profound value for various kinds of pain which did not respond to established medical treatments. Typically surgical scars and regions around them can produce persistent pain or can be very sensitive to the touch even when completely healed. This type of pain phenomenon seems to respond well to capsaicin ointments and creams.
When capsaicin preparations were applied following mastectomy or breast reconstruction, pain was significantly relieved. Se veral double blind studies found that using capsaicin creams four times daily for 4 to 6 weeks resulted in much less frequent occurrence of sharp, jabbing pain.3 6 All thirteen patients studied had a 50 percent or greater improve m e n t .3 7 Various unpleasant sensations other than pain also improved with topical applications of capsaicin creams.38
MOUTH SORES FROM RADIATION OR CHEMOTHERAPY
A fascinating study conducted at the Yale Pain Management Center discove red that capsaicin could ve ry significantly lessen pain caused by mouth sores which frequently develop after chemotherapy or radiation.39 Apparently delivering the capsaicin in the form of soft candy (taffy) enabled the substance to be retained in the mouth long enough to desensitize the Nerve Endings causing the pain. Each one of the eleven case studies re p o rted that their pain had decreased and in two patients, it stopped entirely.40
Diabetic neuropathy is a painful nerve condition which can develop in cases of prolonged diabetes. Several double-blind studies have supported the considerable value of capsaicin creams for relieving the pain associated with this disorder.41 The results of a controlled study using Capsicum for seve re cases of diabetic neuropathy which did not respond to conventional therapy were published in 1992. A cream containing Capsicum was applied to painful areas four time a day and pain was carefully e valuated for 8 weeks at two-week intervals. The results we re impressive, to say the least. In the 22 patients who used the Capsicum the following results we re re c o rded: “Capsaicin tre a tment was more beneficial than vehicle treatment in the overall clinical improvement of pain status, as measured by physician’s global evaluation and by a categorical pain severity scale . . . In a follow-up study, approximately 50 percent of the subjects reported improved pain control or were cured . . .”42 No t e : While there was a burning sensation when the Capsicum c ream was first applied, some subjects found that its magnitude and duration lessened with continued application.43
The FDA has approved capsaicin-based ointments for the treatment of pain that results from diseases like shingles. Again, numerous studies have documented the value of capsaicin for decreasing the miserable nerve-related pain associated with shingles. The general consensus derived from these tests were that approximately 50 p e rcent of people suffering from shingles responded well to capsaicin creams, some even after 10 to 12 months.44
Note: If blisters accompany a shingles outbreak, it is better to wait until they have healed before using any capsaicin-based ointments or creams.
RELIEF FOR BURNING FEET
Frequently an uncomfortable “burning” sensation in the feet will occur in many people, particularly in diabetics. As ironic as it may seem, using capsaicin creams may actually alleviate this burning. “In various studies, diabetics who treated their burning feet with capsaicin got greater improvement and we re able to walk more easily than those not using the cream.”45 In addition, using topical applications of capsaicin as opposed to strong, oral drugs is much more preferable.
Clinical tests have confirmed that topical capsaicin ointments substantially alleviate the miserable pain that characterizes osteoand rheumatoid arthritis.46 These studies revealed that using 0.075 capsaicin cream reduced tenderness and pain.47 Dr. Michael T. Murray writes: “ . . . seventy patients with osteoarthritis and thirty - one with rheumatoid arthritis received capsaicin or placebo for 4 weeks. The patients were instructed to apply 0.025 percent capsaicin cream or its placebo to painful knees four times daily. Significantly more relief of pain was reported by the capsaicin-treated patients than by the placebo patients throughout the study . . .”48 Anyone suffering from osteo or rheumatoid arthritis should evaluate the effectiveness of capsaicin ointments for joint pain. Ester Lipstein-Kresch, M.D., has studied the effectiveness of capsaicin creams for arthritis and has stated: “You need to apply it three or four times a day on the affected area for at least two weeks before you’ll see any improvement. An initial burning sensation at the site is not unusual for the first few days, but this goes away with continued application.”49 Note: Capsaicin is also useful for tennis elbow due to its ability to block the transmission of pain.
MIGRAINE HEADACHES (CLUSTER TYPE)
Topical applications of capsaicin ointments intranasally may also help to relieve the pain of a specific kind of migraine headache called cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are characterized by s e ve re pain which typically radiates around one eye. The term “cluster” refers to the fact that these headaches tend to occur in clusters of one to three per day and can recur at intervals. Headache pain and severity we re reducing in groups using intranasal capsaicin.5 0 This type of capsaicin treatment should be done under a physician’s care. There is some speculation that capsaicin may be more effective in pre venting migraines before they develop into a full blown attack.51
Vision Quest - help fight eye problems.
June 18, 2005 08:34 AM
Vision Quest by Phyllis D. Light, RH Energy Times, February 11, 2004
Since your eyes are in constant use every day, exposed to the damaging energy of sunlight and pollutants that waft through the air, these delicate orbs are often in danger of wearing out.
To keep this vital part of your anatomy functioning as you age, you have to feed and care for your eyes properly. Otherwise, you are in real danger of losing your vision and independence.
Your vision may be in danger. Experts estimate that 8 million Americans over the age of 55 are at serious risk of blindness linked to a condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD can wipe out your central vision and is the primary cause of blindness in Western society.
While AMD causes no pain, it blurs the sharp, central vision necessary for driving, reading and other activities where you need to see either up close or straight ahead. During AMD, the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to pick out fine detail, is destroyed. The macula sits at the center of your retina, the nerve center at the back of your eye that senses light and sends optic signals to the brain.
Age is not the only risk factor for AMD. Scientists have isolated a genetic defect that can lead to some forms of macular degeneration (Nature Genetics 2001; 27:89-93). Smoking and excessive exposure to sunlight are other hazards best avoided if you want to save your sight.
In many cases, AMD progresses so slowly that victims of this condition don't even notice that their vision is deteriorating until much of it is irrevocably gone.
Dry and Wet AMD
Wet AMD occurs when blood vessels in back of the retina start to overgrow and leak blood. As this occurs, blood and other fluids push on the macula and quickly damage its sensitive Nerve Endings. When wet AMD occurs, you lose your central vision rapidly. If straight lines appear wavy to you, you may be suffering from wet AMD. If you notice this or other unusual vision changes, contact an eye care specialist as soon as possible. You need what is called a comprehensive dilated eye exam that can uncover signs of AMD.
Dry AMD strikes the eye when light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly deteriorate, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry AMD progresses, a blurry spot in the center of your vision may appear. Eventually, as more of the macula becomes dysfunctional, the central vision in the eye can gradually disappear.
The most common sign of dry AMD is slightly blurry vision. This can make it hard to recognize faces and also make it harder to read without very bright light. Dry AMD generally attacks both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye while the other eye stays normal. In the early stages of dry AMD, drusen, yellow deposits that gather under the retina, may form. Dry AMD progresses in three stages:
Vitamins and Minerals for AMD
Fortunately, scientists have found ways to combat AMD: An analysis of a study called the national Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) shows that more than 300,000 Americans could avoid losing their sight to AMD if they took daily supplements of antioxidant nutrients and zinc.
This conclusion, reached by scientists at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute, is based on research involving more than 4,500 adults suffering various stages of AMD. The study demonstrated that people who already had some AMD could lower their risk of the more advanced form of this condition by 25% when they took vitamin C, natural vitamin E and beta carotene along with zinc. Those suffering from advanced AMD lowered their chances of losing vision by about 19%. (Supplements did not affect the risk of cataracts or the chances of some vision loss for people in the early stages of AMD.)
" Without treatment to reduce their risk, we estimate that 1.3 million adults would develop the advanced stage of AMD," says Neil M. Bressler, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins and author of the current study, published in Archives of Ophthalmology (11/03).
According to Dr. Bressler and the other researchers, people who now have intermediate AMD (some vision loss) in one eye have about a 1 in 16 chance of having their vision deteriorate until they have advanced AMD. They also calculate that about 1 in 4 of those with intermediate AMD in both eyes and 43% of those with advanced AMD in one eye will develop advanced AMD in five years without treatment.
In their view, older people at risk of AMD blindness should take daily supplements of 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 milligrams of natural vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta carotene, 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide and 2 milligrams of copper as cupric oxide. Evidence also exists that a diet which is high in fat can cause AMD to progress to an advanced stage. The exceptions: The healthy fats found in fish and nuts (Archives of Ophthalmology 2003; 121:1728-37).
Oddly enough, some of the same pigments that color vegetables and other foods also color your eyes. And scientists believe that those pigments, which are classified as carotenoids, help protect the eyes by helping them fight off the negative effects of caustic molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are formed when the energy from sunlight strikes the eyes and disrupts the composition of natural chemicals found there.
When scientists compared healthy eyes with eyes suffering from AMD, they found that AMD eyes contained lower levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid pigments contained in egg yolk, spinach, broccoli and other dark green vegetables (Ophthalmology 2003; 109:1780). Furthermore, they found that levels of these chemicals generally decline as you grow older.
" This research is a major step toward large-scale clinical studies to prove the extent to which lutein and zeaxanthin protect against age-related macular degeneration," says Paul S. Bernstein, MD, PhD, at the University of Utah School of Medicine at Salt Lake. "We know that these carotenoids are specifically concentrated in the macula of the human eye."
Dr. Bernstein adds that, as you age, taking supplements containing lutein and other antioxidants may lower your AMD risk. In his investigation, people with AMD who did not take lutein had one-third less lutein in their eyes than older people whose vision was normal.
Another eyesight hazard is cataracts, in which the eye's lens-the part that focuses incoming light onto the retina-becomes cloudy. Cataracts form when the proteins found in the normally clear lens become damaged; signs include progressively blurred vision (especially outdoors), focusing problems, seeing streaks of light from headlights and stoplights, and colors that look faded.
Cataract is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. One of every six Americans 40 and older suffers from some degree of cataract; it affects half of all Americans who reach age 80. Nuclear cataracts, the most common form of this disorder, develop in the center of the lens and tend to grow slowly. Cataracts may also develop at the back of the lens; this form is linked to eye trauma and long-term use of certain medications, including steroids.
Like AMD, cataracts become more common as people age. Up to 40% of individuals between the ages of 75 and 85 have them, compared with only 5% to 10% of those folks under the age of 65. And like AMD, sunlight exposure and smoking increase the risk of developing cataracts, as does the presence of diabetes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, the carotenoids that are so plentiful in the macula, are also found in the lens (although in lower concentrations), leading many researchers to believe that these nutrients may help drop your risk of cataract development. Early studies indicate that an increased intake of lutein and zeaxanthin reduces one's chances of needing cataract surgery, the most common surgery in the United States (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999; 70(4):509-16; 517-24).
Antioxidants and the Lens
Scientists believe that free-radical damage is a leading cause of cataracts, and so it isn't surprising that antioxidants have proved useful in preventing this problem.
Almost 500 women filled out diet questionnaires as part of a very large research effort called the Nurses' Health Study; those who had taken vitamin C supplements for 10 years or longer enjoyed the lowest rates of nuclear cataracts (Archives of Ophthalmology 2001; 119:1009-19).
So the answer to lowering your risk of eye problems is clear, whether you are already in your mature years or plan to be someday: Lead a healthy, eye-friendly lifestyle, eating a diet filled with colorful fruits and vegetables. Take frequent walks and jogs around the block.
And yes, when you kick back and take your just-as-frequent doses of antioxidant supplements, you're allowed to take your sunglasses off and see the world clearly.
June 14, 2005 06:26 PM
by Catherine Heusel Energy Times, October 1, 1998
Quitting a bad habit presents quite a challenge. Just ask anyone who's ever tried to give up cigarettes. Or alcohol. Or even coffee. You start out with the best of intentions but cravings can push you off the straight and narrow. The result: giving up a nasty habit often means regenerating your resolve and trying again. And again. And again. While some blame an inability to give up a bad habit on poor will power, in actuality, the tenacious chains of these habits may derive from the body as well as the mind. "People don't seem to realize the effects these substances have on the body," says Joan Mathews-Larson, Ph.D., director of the Health Recovery Center, in Minneapolis, and author of Seven Weeks to Sobriety. Dr. Mathews-Larson is one of a growing number of addiction professionals who stress physical recovery when giving up a drug, whether it's caffeine or cocaine. "You can't disrupt your internal chemistry for months or years on end and then expect your body to automatically bounce back," she says. "You have to give it some help."
Breaking Off is Hard to Do
The substances we love to overdo all share a common characteristic: they mimic or enhance the body's chemical messengers. Opiate drugs such as heroin, for example, are virtually identical to substances called endorphins, neurochemicals that the body produces to mask feelings of pain. (When an injured Kerri Strug performed her final Olympic vault, her endorphins enabled her to push past her protesting Nerve Endings.) Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can provide a "rush" similar to that produced by adrenaline and noradrenaline, the neurochemicals that provide the quick and excited feeling that swells down your spine during frightened or thrilling moments. On the other hand, some drugs (notably alcohol and cocaine) boost the activity of several different neurochemicals, including those that control sensations of pleasure. From a biological perspective, then, none of the drugs that people take are totally unfamiliar to the body. Your body makes similar chemicals all the time, in response to specific events and needs. "The main advantage of drugs is that they act powerfully and immediately," explains Andrew Weil, M.D., in his book, From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind Altering Drugs. "Their main disadvantage is that they reinforce the notion that the state we desire comes from something outside us."
Another serious disadvantage of drugs resides in their impact on the body's everyday neurochemical balance. Under normal circumstances, the body maintains its internal chemical environment on a fairly even keel. It may pump out oodles of adrenaline in response to a specific threat, like a near miss on the highway, but for every such scary "high" a corresponding low sets in: that rubbery-kneed sense of relief you feel when things calm down.
Over time, the body mistakes the introduction of mind-altering, foreign chemicals as an excess of its own production of neurochemicals. As a result it slows down its own manufacture of these vital substances. So when you stop drinking caffeine or other stimulating drugs, the body finds its neurochemical receptors begging for relief: Cravings raise their ugly heads while so-called withdrawal symptoms raise your discomfort level. A general sense of ill health sets in until the body's natural production of neurotransmitter production reaches an acceptable level.
Breaking a bad habit may be complicated by a lack of regenerative health habits. "A proper diet is pretty low on an addict's list of priorities," says Mathews-Larson. "Most of the people we see live on fast food and junk food." Many people trying to give up bad habits are attacked by the chemical and physical problems resulting from eating fatty foods and not exercising: their bodies are chemically and physically challenged from a poor lifestyle.
Fortunately, recovery from a bad habit can be enhanced by balancing your diet, exercising and using nutritional supplements to straighten out your interior biochemical environment.
"We target substances that are essential for maintaining optimal brain chemistry," points out Mathews-Larson. Foremost among these substances are a variety of amino acids that the body needs to rebuild its supply of neurotransmitters. In addition, nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin C are often in short supply among those who indulge in addictive drugs and alcohol.
Exercise and meditation are equally important to recovery, since both activities naturally prompt production of mood-enhancing neurochemicals. (The so-called "runner's high" is believed to result from endorphins and other neurochemicals stimulated by jogging.) More importantly, natural stimulation that pushes the body to create its own, endogenous supply of feel-good chemicals produces a longer sense of well-being than the transitory high induced by drugs and alcohol. "The potential for highs is always there, and many techniques exist for eliciting them," declares Dr. Weil. "Drug highs differ from other highs only in superficial ways."
To experienced treatment professionals such as Mathews-Larson, kicking a long-standing habit depends on learning to appreciate the natural high of good health, through an overall healthy lifestyle. "It's not enough to just stop using the substance you abused," she contends. "You have to build a high quality of life for yourself, so you can fully enjoy every day."
Recommended Reading: Seven Weeks to Sobriety, by Joan Mathews-Larson (Fawcett Books, 1997) Healing Anxiety With Herbs by Harold H. Bloomfield. (Harper Collins, 1998.)
June 14, 2005 11:44 AM
Good Hydration by Lisa James Energy Times, June 17, 2004
Ah summertime, and the living is lovely: ocean fragrances wafting on a summer wind, the summer sun warming the body and relaxing the mind.
But all that sun and wind can dry your summer skin, making it uncomfortable and parched-looking. Moisture counteracts the discomforts that summer elements can bring, allowing your fresh, dewy look to shine through. Knowing how to hydrate your skin is the key.
Skin consists of three layers, each with a different function:
Do you have dry skin? How well your skin holds moisture depends on the arrangement of cells within the stratum corneum. Fat contained in this layer, as well as natural moisturizing factor (made by the epidermis), also keeps skin moist. Unfortunately, as you age, the amount of natural moisturizing factor produced by your skin decreases.
Skin Care 101
Obviously, anything that affects the all-important epidermis can dry out your skin-sun and wind both rob skin of moisture. For starters, just say no to tobacco. Smoking tightens the skin's abundant blood vessels; this reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients, creating dryness. Smoking also breaks down elastin, the protein that gives skin its flexibility. The next step is to add water from within. " It takes at least six to eight cups of pure water each day to keep the skin and body well hydrated," notes Jeanette Jacknin, MD, board-certified dermatologist and author of Smart Medicine for Your Skin (Avery/Penguin).
At the same time, be careful about how you bathe your skin. Bathing or showering for too long, or using water that's too hot, can actually cause your skin to lose moisture for two reasons. First, prolonged bathing washes away the oils that help lock moisture in; second, it encourages your skin's own moisture to evaporate after you dry yourself off.
Before you shower or bathe, Dr. Jacknin recommends using a dry, soft-bristled brush to increase skin circulation and gently remove dead cells. Brushing in small circles, gradually move up your legs and arms, always moving towards the heart. When you do get into the tub or shower, don't scrub your skin and don't use harsh cleaning agents. Instead, go for natural cleansers that feature such skin-friendly ingredients as glycerin.
Feed Your Inner Skin
As your body's largest organ, your skin depends on the nutrients in your diet. You have to feed your skin well if you expect it to stand up to wind and sun. " Eat fish, rolled oats and ground flaxseeds frequently," recommends Dr. Jacknin. "These foods are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help the skin retain moisture." Include other healthy oils, such as safflower and olive oil, in your meals. Supplemental omega-3s, in the form of flaxseed or fish oils, can also help.
Various vitamins help make your skin happy and healthy. Skin growth and repair requires vitamin A, while natural vitamin E provides antioxidant protection and vitamin C promotes creation of collagen, which provides skin with its structure.
The B vitamins are essential to keeping dryness at bay; without them, the skin can crack, peel and redden. Choline, a member of the B family that helps with fat transportation within the body, is available as lecithin. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is another skin-friendly nutrient. MSM provides sulfur, which the body needs to create healthy skin proteins. It also fights inflammation and encourages better blood flow.
Slake Your Skin's Thirst
A good moisturizer can help arid skin return to soft freshness. To get the most out of moisturizers, use them consistently, and start at a young age. " [M]ost people start to benefit from [moisturizers] in their twenties [when] their skin begins to dry with age," state Charles Inlander and Janet Worsley Norwood in Skin: Head-to-Toe Tips for Health and Beauty (Walker and Company). "Moisturizers boost skin health by preventing water loss from the skin."
The same antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamin C and natural vitamin E, you feed your skin from within also abound in natural moisturizers, as do an impressive variety of herbal essences and essential oils. Aloe vera, used to treat burns for centuries, helps ease inflammation, as does chamomile. Fresh-smelling lavender oil helps soothe insect bites and minor wounds. Jasmine and peppermint offset excessive oil production.
Moisturizers: Timing and Type
The ideal time to moisturize is right after a bath or shower, since that's when evaporation promotes water loss; for best results, apply while your skin is still slightly damp. But bathtime isn't the only time to consider your skin's moisture needs. Carry some moisturizer with you so you can use it every time you wash your hands, especially if you're prone to cracked cuticles and split fingertips.
Match your moisturizer to your skin type. If your skin tends to oiliness, use a water-based product; otherwise, an oil-based formulation -jojoba oil and shea butter are good choices-is fine. (Oily skin may first need a gentle astringent like lemon peel or cucumber to remove dirt and excess oil.)
Also pay careful attention to the type of moisturizer you use. Lotions are easy to apply, but may not stay on your skin as readily as creams, which may be a better choice for your face, feet and hands. By all means, enjoy the summer sun. Just make sure your skin enjoys the summer, too, by staying hydrated and happy.
Improove Memory ...
June 09, 2005 05:49 PM
Mesmerizing Memory by Cal Orey Energy Times, January 1, 1999
In the 60s, the same rock 'n' rollers who belted out "One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small," often espoused the belief that certain pills could expand the mind. While counter-culture pill purveyors were pilloried for their pill-popping claims, 90s nutritional research has uncovered a stash of supplements that may amplify mental improvement.
Like a blues singer bending a high note, researchers are now humming with dramatic assertions that certain nutritional supplements can sustain and enhance concentration and memory function. For instance, studies reveal possible benefits for cognitive powers from vitamin C, magnesium and Ginkgo biloba. A recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 278:1327-1332) said that an extract of Ginkgo biloba "can stabilize and, in some cases, improve the cognitive function and social behavior of demented patients."
A researcher in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences noted that a daily dose of vitamin E may "help protect the brain and its memories from the ravages of time." And the beat goes on: other evidence indicates that zinc, iron and boron may pump up short-term memory attention span and cut the time it takes to perform mental tasks.
Lester Packer, PhD, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, told a joint 1996 United Nations-World Health Organization conference on Aging that "there is a growing body of evidence indicating that the free radical theory of aging and aging-related disease is valid," and that dietary and supplemental antioxidants can help fight illness and mental deterioration.
Vitamin E and other memory aids are believed to protect brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, "the ferrymen of the brain's communication system," that influence concentration and memory. Experts say that sustaining the level of these nerve chemicals in the brain can potentially improve all mental processes.
Too much alcohol, for example, commonly causes progressive mental decline, according to Secrets of the Superyoung (Villard) by David Weeks and Jamie James. The authors also point out that "the memory tends to worsen noticeably after 15 years of alcohol drinking, and much sooner in people who go on massive binges."
"The effects of cigarette smoke are subtler because the poisonous effects of carbon monoxide in each puff are temporarily offset by the alerting effects of the nicotine," they add. Can't remember the name of that singer cavorting in a music video? Tests have shown that smokers are worse at connecting peoples' names to their faces than nonsmokers.
n Learn something new: A second language, musical instrument, or unique puzzles and games keep neurons working like new.
n Turn off the TV: Read. Studies show that passively watching TV requires less concentration than eating cereal. Mental rejuvenation also requires physical activity. Exercise increases oxygen flow to the brain, which supports memory, concentration and cognition. One study has shown that exercise significantly brightened the moods of middle-aged and older women, regardless of whether they were pre- or post-menopausal, with or without hormone replacement therapy.
Supplemental Brain Help
Antioxidants, including the previously mentioned vitamin E (You haven't forgotten vitamin E already, have you?), provide crucial help for vigorous cerebral function. The free radicals created by tobacco smoke, air pollution, ultraviolet light and certain carcinogenic chemicals deconstruct cell membranes and may foster microscopic brain cell havoc. Antioxidant enzymes convert free radicals to more neutral, benign substances and nutritional antioxidants can neutralize free radicals by linking up with them.
Vitamin C, a brainy antioxidant all star, performs so well that, according to Dr. Khalsa, its levels in the brain are almost 15 times higher than in other parts of the body. This nutrient, he asserts, aids mental and physical longevity. In a UCLA study, people who ingested at least 300 mg of vitamin C daily lived more than six years longer than those who ingested less.
Added to this mix, magnesium also scavenges free-radicals, according to Dr. Khalsa. Plus, experts recommend grape seed extract (phytochemicals that protect a wide range of cellular structures) to safeguard nerve cells and mental capacity.
B Vitamins for the Mind
Boron plays a crucial part in mental function. Scientists at the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center have linked boron deficiencies to chronic lethargy and fatigue. In brain studies, they found that the electrical activity of the gray matter in the boron deficient indicated increased drowsiness and mental sluggishness.
HupA basically protects the brain from free radical damage (due to low levels of antioxidant defenses) and maintains or enhances crucial neurotransmitter action. More specifically, HupA helps reduce the breakdown of acetylcholine, the vital neurotransmitter, and makes this substance more bioavailable. In addition, HupA helps make choline accessible to the brain for the synthesis of acetylcholine, according to a study in Neuropharmacology (30, 1991: 763-768).
Normally, the brain manufactures sufficient levels of the chemical phosphatidylserine, a lecithin-derivative that helps boost neurotransmitter release, but deficiencies of vitamin B12 and folic acid, or of essential fatty acids, may retard that production. Low levels of phosphatidylserine in the brain are related to impaired mental function and depression in the elderly. Scientists reporting in Aging (5, 1993; 123-33) describe "good results" using phosphatidylserine in the treatment of age-related cognitive ills.
Ginkgo Brain Power
Another ingredient in what seems like an alphabet-soup of brain nourishment is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fat essential for normal brain function. Researchers met recently at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center's Nutrition Information Center to discuss "Keeping Your Brain in Shape: New Insights into DHA." Their findings revealed links between low levels of DHA and Alzheimer's, depression, memory loss, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and certain behavioral traits including aggression and hostility.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health point out, however, that fish is an excellent dietary source of DHA. In their studies, they discovered that depression rates in Japan and Taiwan, where fish ranks a top spot on the menu, are significantly lower than in North America and Europe.
DHA also is crucial to the neurological development of children, according to findings published in Pediatrics (vol. 101, no. 1, January 1998). Researchers suggest that DHA-rich breast milk should be the model for infant formulas that enhance babies' neurological development. Scientists also have correlated some behavioral problems in children-ADHD, for example-to DHA deficiencies.
If you are a vegetarian, or have other cause for concern about a potential lack of DHA in your diet, you can rely on dietary supplementation of DHA. Bruce J. Holub, PhD, of the University of Guelph in Canada provided vegetarians in his research project with DHA supplements over a 42-day period and substantially increased their DHA blood levels.
The bottom line to enhanced mental performance is to take a balanced approach, says Robert Snider, MD, who specializes in preventive medicine in Massena, New York. "Maintaining brain power includes exercise, stress reduction and good nutrition." The message to keep in mind: Don't lose your nutritional balance or you could lose a piece of your peace of mind.
Recommended Reading: & Brain Builders (Reward Books, 1995), by Richard Leviton.
Brain Longevity (Warner Books, 1997), by Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD.
Omega 3 Oils to Improve Mental Health, Fight Degenerative Diseases and Extend Life (Avery, 1996), by Donald Rudin, MD, and Clara Felix.
Successful Aging (Pantheon, 1998), by John W. Rowe, MD, and Robert L. Kahn, PhD.