Search Term: " Biosynhesis "
Support Healthy Circulation and Arterial Function with Benfotiamine!
Benfotiamine is a derivative nutrient of thiamine (vitamin B1). Usually, many people suffering from peripheral neuropathy lack this crucial nutrient. Thiamine, Vitamin B1, is highly required for the nervous system to keep functioning properly. Maintaining adequate levels of Thiamine through diet alone is hard. Benfotiamine works to nourish the nerves and reverse the effects of peripheral neuropathy. It helps to support blood circulation, enhance arterial function and healthy blood vessels.
Increases blood circulation and vessel health
Benfotiamine helps to increase the rate of blood flow, especially for those patients suffering from low blood circulation. It is also required for the health of the nervous system and is required for the biosynthesis of a number of cell constituents, including certain neurotransmitters. Just like Vitamin B1, Benfotiamine demonstrated itself as a miracle worker when somebody suffering severely from beriberi got on his feet within hours after being injected with the nutrient. Since then, it has been performing the same "miracle" without fail.Benfotiamine also assists mental health, particularly warding off depression while facilitating memory functions and learning. It's deficiency will no doubt bring back the dreaded beriberi, while minor deficiencies will be manifested in the human body as extreme fatigue, irritability, constipation, edema and an enlarged liver. Forgetfulness, gastrointestinal disturbances, heart changes, irritability, and breathing difficulties are also common symptoms.
Promotes arterial functionBenfotiamine has been proven to improve the structural integrity of the veins and the entire circulatory system. Usually, people with varicose veins have an increased tendency to develop fibrin deposits in the tissue surrounding the affected veins. This causes the skin to become hard and lumpy. There is a decreased ability to break down fibrin, a compound involved in clot formation, thus an increased risk of the formation of a thrombus which may potentially cause life-threatening complications. Benfotiamine nutrient helps to promote fibrin breakdown hence promote the functioning of the arteries while enhancing the flood of blood.
What Are The Benefits Of Ubiquinol Vs Regular CoQ10?
May 31, 2014 06:33 AM
In modern society, nutritional supplements have become a common method to improve health. A wide range of specific needs determines the use of different supplements, but there are a few that will work in just about everyone and improve their health.
Coenzyme Q10, commonly abbreviated to CoQ10, is one of those universally effective supplements. This vitamin-like substance offers far-reaching benefits for the human body. It has a crucial role in the body's energy maintenance and it's an extremely powerful antioxidant. This substance is naturally produced by the body, but as we get older, the organism's ability to synthesize CoQ10 weakens progressively. It is, therefore, recommended that people initiate a regular intake of CoQ10 somewhere at the adult or even young adult life stage. This is a commonly prescribed supplement for old people owing to its longevity and energy inducing benefits, but it's especially critical for those who are medicated with statin drugs because these are known to reduce CoQ10 levels in the organism. Elite athletes can also benefit from this substance to achieve higher peak power levels.
Ubiquinol is the most efficient way to take advantage of this supplement because it's the fully reduced form of CoQ10 that our body actually absorbs and uses. The consumption of Ubiquinone requires our body to firstly metabolize and convert it into Ubiquinol. This process limits the speed and efficiency of CoQ10 absorption, requiring larger quantities to be consumed for similar health effects, not to mention that the metabolism has a tendency to worsen with age. Ubiquinone is more widely available and is cheaper, though.
What Is Ubiquinol?
August 23, 2013 02:54 PM
Coenzyme Q10 (Co10) is a naturally-occurring chemical compound in the body which fuels cell growth and enhances enzyme functions. It exists in three forms; ubiquinone (fully oxidized), semiquinone (partially reduced), and ubiquinol (fully reduced). So, ubiquinol is basically a reduced form of Co10, it is a strong antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals. Free radicals refer to a reactive and unstable atom that can trigger many medical conditions such as cardiovascular issues, weak immunity and even cancer.
Ubiquinol is found in almost every organ, tissue and cell in mammals. This lipid-soluble benzoquinol can be acquired through supplementation, biosynthesis and from diet (in small amounts). Ubiquinol plays an integral role in transferring electrons within the body, thereby leading to ATP synthesis. The antioxidant property of ubiquinol is very essential in the functioning of the cellular systems.
Ubiquinone is naturally converted into ubiquinol by the body to produce energy for the cells. The failure of this process can lead to insufficient energy levels in the body. The ability of the body to generate Coenzyme Q10 reduces with age and so does the ability to convert ubiquinone into ubiquinol. Therefore, older people should use ubiquinol supplements to boost their energy levels. Apart from older people, those who suffer from neurological, cardiovascular, diabetes and liver conditions may also have low ubiquinol levels.
There are many health benefits associated with ubiquinol. First, it offers a sufficient amount of energy which the heart needs to work well. It's also a strong antioxidant that protects the heart, and other vital body organs from free radicals. When it comes to energy, ubiquinol is an essential component in 95 percent of the energy produced in the body. Daily intake of ubiquinol supplement can help reduce fatigue and muscle pains; the common symptoms of insufficient Coenzyme Q10 in the body. Since ubiquinol is a strong fat soluble antioxidant, it can protect the body from oxidation, thereby providing an anti-aging benefit.
Do you feel fatigued, run down with no energy? Consider Ubiquinol as a natural safe energy boosting supplement.
Can Serrapeptase Help Break Down Cholesterol?
December 01, 2012 11:22 AM
When we think of silk worm the first thing that comes to our mind is clothing and not disease treatment. The serrapeptase enzyme derived from the silk worm has been used by people around the world to treat various conditions as well as lower the levels of bad cholesterol. The few trials that have been conducted are mixed though it has a future in the reduction of cardiovascular disease. High levels of cholesterol should not be ignored as it is dangerous and serious. Choosing the natural ways will really pay.Formation of plaque in the arteries involves the deposit of fibrin, calcium, cellular waste products, cholesterol and fatty acid in the inner lining of the artery and would result to complete or partial blockage of the artery.
Reduce plaque buildup with silkworm enzymes
Medications do have side effects and one has to look for other ways to lower the LDL cholesterol and increase the levels of HDL cholesterol. This enzyme doesn't interfere with the synthesis of the cholesterol, but instead keeps a vital tissue form the wall of arteries and has anti-inflammatory properties. In its pure state the cholesterol is an antioxidant and it is necessary for the hormonal systems of the body. Medications blocking its biosynthesis cause liver damage and compromise the other soft tissues. Serrapeptase is the natural way to clear off this bad cholesterol
The Health benefits of P-5-P
July 20, 2012 07:51 AM
P-5-P or Pyridoxal-5-phosphate
P-5-P or the most commonly called Pyridoxal-5-phosphate is known to be the most active form of the Vitamin B6. This is known to be converted from organic compounds pyridoxal, pyridoxine and pyridoxamine. The Vitamin P-5-P is a coenzyme which support several other enzymes in the body which play a important role in biosynthesis. This also makes optimum use of the vitamin B6 by improving the body metabolism and many other biological process as well. The vitamin B6 traditionally comes in the form of pyridoxine hydrochloride which the body finds difficult to synthesize in its existing state. Hence, this pyridoxine hydrochloride is processed and is formed as Pyridoxal-5-phosphate to help the body to use the vitamin B6 effectively.
There are a lot of benefits of the vitamin P-5-P
Let us have a look at some of them.
Pyridoxal-5-phosphate uses the information from the genes ad helps to produce proteins.P-5-P is also helpful in the formation of hemoglobin, histamine and neurotransmitters and is also helpful in the metabolism of amino acids, fats and glucose.Pyridoxal-5-phosphate also helps in the conversion of dopa which is a useful substance used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Dopa is converted to dopamine which is a neurotransmitter which is produced in the brain and is released by the hypothalamus.
The P5P is also helpful in the utilization of the food sources for the formation of energy and also helps in the easy release of glycogen which is the stored energy.P5P also converts glutamate into GABA which is gamma amino butyric acid which is again a neurotransmitter which is known to be found in the mammals. This is found in their central nervous system.The Pyridoxal-5-phosphate also helpful in the process of decarboxylation which is the conversion of histidine to histamine.
This also converts SAM-e to propylamine which is known to be a precursor of polyamines.The Vitamin P5P is also responsible to lower the homocystenie levels which are caused by the intake of high amounts of methionine.The Vitamin Pyridoxal-5-phosphate helps in the treatment of irregular heartbeat , which is a condition termed as arrhythmia.This plays a important role in the treatment of myocardial infections. This prevents the blood platelets from sticking to each other which usually causes blood clots.The enzymes produced by the Pyridoxal-5-phosphate also helps in the formation of different kinds of amino acid reactions which keeps the carbon ions stable. This process is very important in the metabolism of the cells.The P5P also helps in the metabolism of the amino acids.
Here it helps in converting methionine to cysteine and also converts tryptophan to niacin.Pyridoxal-5-phosphate also plays a vital role in the formation of glucose. This process is known as gluconeogenesis.This also acts a important co-enzyme in the process of glycogenolysis which happens in the liver and muscles and this is known to be a reaction which occurs due to presence of glycogen.The P5P also helps in the formation of antibodies and also assists in the process of hemoglobin synthesis as well.
To keep it simpler, the vitamin P5P performs many functions which is very beneficial to the whole human body. The P5P deficiency can also happen in many individuals and even such symptoms are hard to identify. Any person suffering from the P5P deficiency will have symptoms like muscle weakness, irritability or depression. Consulting a physician and taking necessary supplements will help to overcome the P5P deficiency.
What Makes Ubiquinol The Best Form Of COQ10?
March 08, 2012 11:48 PM
Benefits of Ubiquinol
Ubiquinol is an active antioxidant form of CoQ10. It is pre-converted and ready-to-use diet supplement. Hence, it is easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Research studies show that ubiquinol has proved to be much more effective than ubiquinone and has all vital health benefits as CoQ10.
Ubiquinol is the next generation supplement which provides support for a healthy body and mind. It helps you to live a healthy life by raising your CoQ10 plasma level. It also plays an important role in production of energy levels. Moreover, it protects the cells of the body from oxidative kind of stress which can eventually damage proteins, DNA, and lipids.
Benefits of Ubiquinol:
Cardiovascular health: Clinical studies show that ubiquinol improves the overall cardiovascular health. Cardiac patients who have been taking high dosages of statins like Lipitor, Zocor, etc for a long period of time have decreased levels of coenzyme Q10 as these statins inhibit the body's production level of coenzyme Q10. The low levels of CoQ10 in the body can result in cardiomyalgia, fibromyalgia, atherosclerosis, etc. Thus, if these patients take ubiquinol which is an antioxidant then it neutralizes the oxidation of LDL.
Cognitive Health: It helps to increase the stamina and energy and promotes general health and wellness.
Anti-aging support: Due to degeneration and advanced age, the aged people have less CoQ10 biosynthesis and body's conversion ability also diminishes in such subjects. A collaborated study carried out on middle aged people demonstrated that subjects who were given this supplement showed marked improvement in their physical and mental activities. Thus ubiquinol by and large promotes life extension and improves the overall mental health by compensating for the age-related conversion disability.
Power to other organs: Ubiquinol plays an important role in igniting energy levels within the cells of vital organs like heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs. Thus it naturally helps you to sustain your energy levels.
Protects Cells: Ubiquinol protect cells of vital organ like heart from further damage and from constant attack by free radicals.
Neuronal Health: Ubiquinol benefits the neurological system and promotes brain health. Studies carried out on patients who had Parkinson's disease have proved that it reduces the functional decline in these patients.
Oral Health: Ubiquinol impacts the oral health and significantly enhances the salivary coenzyme Q10 levels. It affects all aspects of mouth, teeth, lips, tongue, and salivary glands.
Renal Health: Studies show that Ubiquinol gives significant renal protection to patients who have chronic kidney disease.
Your body constantly produces powerful antioxidants daily when you are young. But as you age, your body can not sustain this natural production level forever. Hence ubiquinol supplementation is important to promote overall good health. Ubiquinol can be used as a dietary supplement. Its ready-to-use formula is eight times more effective as it can be readily absorbed by your body. Thus it is an ideal diet supplementation for current CoQ10 users.
At present there are no known side effects of ubiquinol, but if you are on multi-drug therapy or are already taking other supplementations, then please consult your doctor prior taking this diet supplementation Ubiquinol.
Holding Back the Years with DHEA
September 20, 2011 01:58 PM
Once you reach an average of around 25 years of age your body begins to cut back on its production of the sex hormone precursor DHEA, responsible for the biosynthesis of testosterone, estrogen and other sex hormones. Your body reckons you are past it at 25, so hard luck - no more sex hormones. You must find a way to overcome that, or you might as well give up the ghost now - but luckily there is a solution: DHEA supplements.
Imagine of you were over the hill, with around 60 years still to go as a guy, but no hormones! In fact, the same is true of the girls, so that's another worry for you. You take DHEA but none of them do, and what then? Use your own imagination, but it won't be a whole heap of laughs, that's for sure!
There is an answer - simply take a DHEA supplement, and make sure your girl does too, then you will both be on the same wavelength and your lack of hormones will be solved. In reality what happens is that you will go to your doctor and ask for help, when all you need do is to take a DHEA supplement. Don't come crying if your doctor can't help you!
Seriously though, you should keep your doctor informed about what you are doing, although DHEA is relatively benign and unlikely to cause you serious problems. Nevertheless, never use it if you are pregnant or nursing a baby, and never give it to your children unless cleared by your family physician.
How Does Lycopene Help Improve Prostate Health?
August 18, 2011 10:16 AM
Lycopene is a bright red carotenoid pigment and phytochemical found in tomatoes and other red fruits and veggies, like red carrots, watermelons and papayas however not strawberries. Although most chemical carotenes has vitamin A activity, lycopene does not. Lycopene is an essential intermediate in the biosynthesis of many carotenoids and in algae, plants, and other photosynthetic organisms.
A term that describes a large range of more about 600 pigments which give plants their red, orange or yellow colouring is carotenoid. Some of the most commonly known in a regular Western region diets are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene.
Attention has been paid most to alpha-carotene and beta-carotene since these are the ones that can be synthesized by our body to form vitamin A, one of the body’s very powerful antioxidants.
Lycopene, in particular, is has even been credited with some of the many anti-oxidant functions previously credited to beta-carotene.
Prostate cancer is most common among men over the age of 50. The cause of this type of cancer, like almost all other cancers, is unknown, but some studies indicate alteration in testosterone metabolism possibly plays a role in its development. Prostate cancer generally grows slowly and can be undetected until late in the stage of the decease since it does not show any symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms can include painful urination, a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder, or blood showing with the urine. According to some studies prostate cancer patients that supplement with lycopene in addition to surgical procedures to remove the testicles may experience, less bone pain, and live longer than those who does not supplement.
It has also shown that groups of patient that were tested with lycopene supplementation has a higher survival rate after a time frame of two years and no adverse side effects were observed in these men as well. This is achieved through lycopenes proven role in keeping the pathways open between cells which is vital in allowing the immune system to hold off cancer cells in its early stages. Although more research is still required to iron out what exact amount of lycopene will be most effective, the current results are already encouraging. However eating a moderately sized tomato a day can approximately provide 4 mg of lycopene and other tomato products, like an 8-ounce tomato juice or tomato paste provides up to 15 mg of lycopene just to give all the men out there an estimate. These are small portions of the diet that could easily be added without any major adverse effect to weight or health and seems too small to ignore given the possible benefits and minimal negative effects if any.
Additional Lycopene Benefits
It also has been found that lycopene can possibly as important as beta-carotene in protecting against the process of oxidation of Low Density Lipids (LDLs), also known as the “bad cholesterol”, which is now held to be the main cause of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries which leads to cardio-vascular diseases like stroke or heart attack.
Grab Some Lycopene today and experience the benefits for yourself!
Fight Inflammation, Gastric Problems, and Arthritis with Boswellia
June 14, 2011 11:49 AM
How Does Boswellia Fight Inflammation.
Boswellia fights inflammation through the action of a family of anti-inflammatory terpenes known as boswellic acids. Inflammation is a natural reaction of your immune system to tissue damage and infection, and is often associated with conditions such as arthritis, sports damage to bones and joints and bacterial infections caused by cuts and grazes. There are more serious inflammatory conditions of course, such as asthma, and boswellic acids act in the same way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) without their unwelcome side effects.
Among the causes of inflammation are inflammatory mediators such as leukotrienes, the biosynthesis of which is blocked by boswellia. Another is the 5-lipoxygenase enzyme, also known as LOX-5, and again, the terpenoid anti-inflammatory boswellic acids block this so that the causes of inflammation in the above conditions are severely restricted. Boswellia extract is a good supplement to take for those suffering any form of arthritis, joint pain or even asthma.
Using Boswellia to treat Arthritis
Boswellia can be used to treat both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, although rheumatoid arthritis is not always easy to control. Arthritis is an inflammatory condition, in the case of osteoarthritis the inflammation being a natural response to joint damage and infection of the synovial fluid generally caused by wear and tear on the joint with aging, and also by sports injuries.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of immune disease caused by the body attacking its own joints, and while the terpenoid anti-oxidants known as boswellic acids can help to mediate the pain and other symptoms, it can do nothing to cure the condition.
If you are suffering pain through arthritis, and your joins are tender and swollen, a supplement consisting of an extract of boswellia or its terpenes can help to relieve these symptoms and to offer pain relief equivalent to that offered by synthetic NSAIDs such as aspirin and Ibuprofen.
Gastric Problems and Arthritis Pain? Perhaps Boswellia Can Help
Extracts and supplements based on the resins of the boswellia tree are commonly used to treat inflammatory conditions, and reduce the severe pain of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, ease the discomfort of colitis and also help ease the symptoms of those suffering asthma. Each of these is an inflammatory condition that would otherwise have been treated using NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
NSAIDs have a number of side effects, being particularly unsuitable for those with ulcers or any other gastric problem. The terpenoids contained in boswellia extract an effective alternative to these drugs that many try to avoid taking. Long-term use of boswellia appears a lot safer than long-term use of NSAIDs, since it doesn't promote the severe gastric problems of these synthetic drugs, such as irritation of the stomach lining or even ulcers. If you already have ulcers or other gastric problems then NSAIDs area define no-no for you, and boswellia is the ideal substitute.
Grab some boswellia today and experience relief for your self!
Improve Immune System, Digestion, Muscle Recover, The Skin, And More with OptiZinc
May 31, 2011 03:45 PM
Zinc And Your Health.
OptiZinc is a patented zinc supplement in which the trace element zinc is bound to the essential amino acid methionine. It is especially formulated to guarantee absorption of zinc at a rate far superior to other zinc supplements. Hence, it is commercially touted to be the form of zinc best suited for people diagnosed with zinc deficiency. Decades-long studies have recorded noticeable effects on health.
Increases Immune Function
Zinc has long been tied to the immune system. For one, all white blood cells that contain granules in their cytoplasm secrete zinc at certain immune responses. In addition, several other cells in the employ of the immune system utilize zinc signaling for cell-to-cell communication. OptiZinc increases availability of elemental zinc for use by immune cells and modulates immune function in the process.
Promotes Healthy Metabolism
Zinc is one of the trace elements that are pervasive at the cellular level. Proteins that belong to all enzyme classes necessitate the presence of zinc to activate their catalytic activities. The scientific community has long come to a conclusion that zinc is absolutely necessary for healthy metabolism, and thus the daily zinc needs of the body must be met to avoid impairment of physiological functions.
Aids Digestive Processes
OptiZinc is particularly good for the gastrointestinal tract. It contains up to 200 per cent of the recommended daily value for zinc to ensure absorption and aid digestion at the same time. Zinc ions are directly involved in the antimicrobial activities that take place in the intestines. Digestive enzymes that contain zinc are responsible for the breakdown of peptide bonds of proteins during digestion.
Accelerates Muscle Recovery
Supplementation of OptiZinc is likely to benefit people who engage in regular physical activities, especially athletes and bodybuilders. This formulation of zinc contains an equal ration of zinc to methionine, an essential amino acid necessitated in the biosynthesis of many other amino acids. OptiZinc speeds up the recovery of skeletal muscles after subjected to intense exercise.
Improves Skin Conditions
It is well established fact that a deficiency in zinc leads to higher incidence to acne. Severe cases even result in progressive hair loss and skin ulcer formation. These skin conditions are in fact a symptom of a metabolic disorder affecting the uptake of zinc, whether congenital or acquired. OptiZinc have been reported to alleviate zinc deficiency-induced skin problems and promote healthy-looking skin.
Scavenges Free Radicals
OptiZinc is a noted free radical scavenger. Its efficacy in preventing oxidative stress has been associated to the prevention of a diverse variety of illnesses, which include eye problems, prostate inflammation, and neurodegenerative diseases. This special formulation of zinc delivers the highest absorbable amounts of zinc into the systemic circulation to effectively prevent radical damage.
Stay Young-Looking with PABA
May 23, 2011 03:44 PM
Most people have not heard of PABA, short for para-aminobenzoic acid. It has often been referred as Vitamin Bx and a member of the B vitamin complex, but this is wrong because it is not an essential, nutrient: life can go on satisfactorily without it, so it is not a vitamin.
It is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of folate by bacteria. Since folate cannot be produced naturally by human metabolism it has either to be taken in the diet or synthesized by colonic bacteria such as E. coli using PABA as an intermediate. However, humans can get folate, the natural form of folic acid, from their diet, so PABA is not essential and hence not the vitamin that some claim it to be.
Nevertheless, it is useful, and apart from its application in sunscreens as a UV filter, PABA is a powerful antioxidant and can neutralize the free radicals and free roaming electrons that are believed to be the cause of aging. A supplement of PABA can destroy free radicals as soon as they are generated by your metabolism and atmospheric pollution and prevent the cell damage they cause. It is this cell damage that gives the appearance of aging: wrinkled skin, age or liver spots and a tough leathery appearance. By taking a regular supplement of PABA you can go a long way towards avoiding this and retaining your youthful appearance for a lot longer.
How Does Holy Basil Extract Help with Pain
May 19, 2011 01:52 PM
Holy Basil And Pain Management.
Holy basil extract is an herbal remedy that originated from India. It is best known as an adaptogen, and as such has become an increasingly popular herbal supplement in the past few years. It is effective in the management of stress, and anecdotal evidence is very positive. More importantly, recent studies have compared its analgesic properties to commonly used pain relievers in the market.
Many different factors are involved in the perception of pain, but most painful conditions are tied to the process of inflammation. Pain is in fact a mechanism of the human body in response to situations that are potentially harmful or even life-threatening. For example, signals are sent to the brain from the body part exposed to extreme temperatures, allowing us to move away from the harmful stimulus.
Pain is of course an undesirable condition, though it is helpful in certain situations. The thought of pain alone brings about disagreeable feelings, such as fear. No wonder people are always seeking for remedies for physical pain, which can be caused by open wounds or physical trauma. More often than not, it is linked to routine activities, such as bad sleeping positions and sitting for long periods of time.
Modern lifestyle renders the human body more susceptible to pain, brought on by injuries and wounds as well as physical inactivity. There are countless working conditions that doctors and medical professionals have pointed out to be real occupational hazards. We often do not care so much about the way we work because the repercussions are not immediately felt, not while we are young. Two major factors lead to chronic pain later in life: wear and tear of tissues and limited physical exertion.
We become increasingly sensitive to pain as we age. We keep a wrong position during sleep sometimes, and the next morning we feel all sorts of muscle pain, such as neck pain. Similar pains take place every time we lean into our computer at work. In general, these kinds of pain are due to poor posture, which can easily be remedied. However, this can take a turn for the worse in the next couple of years as we continually subject our body to muscle strain and physical immobility.
This is when natural remedies can help us. Holy basil has an age-old association with the relief of pain due to muscle strain. The chemical compounds that occur naturally in the plant species Ocimum tenuiflorum have been discovered to interact with mediators of inflammation. Researchers have learned that holy basil extracts are not only relieves pain but also contributes to holistic health.
More importantly, holy basil extracts appear to inhibit an enzyme called COX-2, which facilitates the biosynthesis of pain chemicals. Its role is to get our attention and tell us that there is something wrong with our body. This enzyme is responsible for the sensitizing arthritic joints to pain. It is also implicated in severe headaches, migraine attacks, muscle cramps, and related symptoms.
If you experience chronic pain, give holy basil a try!
How Important are Minerals in the Body
May 07, 2011 11:33 AM
Minerals And Your Health.
Minerals are nutrients necessary for human life. They are often found in the foods we eat at dietary quantities. Living a healthy lifestyle always means having the right amounts of minerals in our diet. Each mineral has a daily value, which necessitates its consumption on a regular basis. Not meeting the requirement for a single mineral for extended periods of time will lead to deficiency.
Deficiency in any nutrient will always impact our health. Minerals are especially important because they are very pervasive throughout the human body. They even affect the digestion and absorption of other nutrients. It is common knowledge that long-term deficiency in any mineral will have deleterious effects on human health that may even result in malnutrition and faster progression of diseases.
Dietary minerals are actually chemical elements that are involved in countless chemical reactions in the human body. It is very probable that various tissues and organs will collapse when these elements progressively decrease. Some elements are necessitated in relatively large amounts, and this group of minerals is called quantity elements, which include potassium, chlorine, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, and magnesium. Human health is quite sensitive to low levels of these minerals.
Potassium is an electrolyte present in systemic circulation to regulate blood pH. Chlorine is generally obtained from table salt, which is indispensable in the synthesis of gastric acid. Sodium, like potassium, is a systemic electrolyte that also participates in many cellular functions. Calcium is required by almost all tissues, and absolutely necessary for bone health. Phosphorus is involved in the upkeep of several tissues, including bones. Magnesium plays a pivotal role in the metabolism of energy.
Trace minerals refer to dietary elements that are needed in, as the name suggests, minute quantities. A significant fraction of the global population has been reported to be deficient in most of these elements in that their intake has been associated with foods that are not consumed on a daily basis. In the past few decades supplementation seems to be the only certain way to obtain healthy levels of trace elements, which include zinc, iron, manganese, copper, iodine, selenium, and molybdenum.
Zinc is necessitated by over a hundred proteins that belong to all classes of enzymes. Iron prevents iron deficiency anemia since it is central to the production of hemoglobin. Manganese binds to proteins and activates their biological roles in enzymatic reactions. Copper and molybdenum participate in the metabolism of oxygen, which occurs in every cell of the body. Iodine is pivotal to the biosynthesis of thyroid hormones, influencing physical growth, mental development, and metabolic rate. Selenium boosts the immune system and improves the antioxidant defense of cells.
The scientific community has estimated the recommended daily allowance for each dietary mineral for good reason. Regular intake of minerals helps ward off diseases and keeps our body in prime condition.
Minerals are essential for life, are you getting enough of them daily?
Can a Lactase Enzyme Help with Milk Digestion
April 27, 2011 03:49 PM
Lactase enzyme is the compound necessary for the breakdown of lactose. As such, deficiency in this enzyme results in the impaired capacity to metabolize milk and other dairy products. This is quite common in Asian and African countries, where the majority of their populations do not rely on milk-based animal products. Consumptions of lactase supplements have been reported to aid milk digestion.
Human beings are believed to have lost the ability to process lactose in adulthood a few thousand years ago. The primary source of lactose of early human populations was breast milk, which is only provided by mothers during the early stages of childhood in general. This practice has continued in Asian and African communities, the reason why these groups are predominantly lactose intolerant.
On the other hand, European communities have considered milk as an important source of food and nutrition since the introduction of the agricultural practices of raising livestock. It is now postulated that the early inhabitants of Europe who relied so much in dairy products underwent a genetic mutation that enables them to continue the biosynthesis of the enzyme lactase into adulthood.
Whereas much of the global population is lactose intolerant, people with European ancestry are capable of digesting milk well into their adult years. That being said, people who are not lactose intolerant are not necessarily well equipped for the digestion of dairy products. In fact, many adults suffer from lactose maldigestion, which causes gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and indigestion as well as allergies and sinus problems such as infections.
Lactose maldigestion has a higher incidence worldwide than lactose intolerance. It is a fact that the genetic expression for the enzyme lactase as produced and released in the digestive tract is down-regulated the human body with age. This may not result in lactose intolerance, but depleting levels of lactase will no longer be able to effectively digest into old age food products that contain lactose.
The absence of the enzyme lactase may result in a variety of digestive problems when milk is taken together with other foods. In some people, even the smallest amounts of lactose upset digestion and produce common symptoms of lactose intolerance such as indigestion, diarrhea and sinus inflammation. If you want to avoid these problems but still love dairy products, you may want to choose hydrolyzed lactose.
Lactase supplements have been documented to produce desirable results. Most nutraceutical companies make use of eukaryotic microorganisms that possess the genes needed to synthesize this enzyme, such as Kluyveromyces fragilis, Kluyveromyces lactis, Aspergillus niger, and Aspergillus oryzae, among others. These supplements are formulated for individuals with lactose intolerance, but also benefit those who are suffering from symptoms tied to lactose maldigestion.
The enzyme lactase works on the principle of breaking down lactose into smaller compounds, galactose and glucose, and supplementation of lactase does exactly that.
Can Royal Jelly Really Boost Energy?
April 18, 2011 02:25 PM
Royal Jelly as an Energy Boost
Royal jelly is an all-natural animal product entirely derived from the secretions of honey bees. It is commercially touted as an energy booster because of its unique combination of compounds that help produce energy in cells and promote mental clarity. It contains an abundance of monosaccharides, amino acids, fatty acids, trace minerals, and enzymes, all of which have bioactive properties.
Inside a honeycomb, royal jelly is obtained from queen cells. These secretions are actually fed to all larvae, but only queen larvae are fed with royal jelly in amounts that can be harvested. This is the reason why royal jelly is considered rare. That being said, recent innovations in the manufacture of honey and the overall beekeeping process have contributed to increasing productions of royal jelly.
Contains Vitamins and Minerals
Royal jelly is available as a dietary supplement noted for its high vitamin and mineral content. It is a natural source of vitamin B complex, notably pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). It has relatively high amounts of simple sugars and fatty acids, both groups are biological precursors of cellular energy. In general, it contains up to 15 per cent carbohydrates and 5 per cent healthy fats.
In addition to vitamins, it is also rich in enzymes that are believed to aid the fast absorption of its bioactive compounds in the small intestine. In addition, it contains trace amounts of dietary minerals. Royal jelly is often marketed as a fast-acting energy booster because its components are believed to work synergistically in the prompt release of energy within cells right after absorption.
Improves Energy Metabolism
Coenzyme A is an organic compound produced in the human body to aid the metabolism of cellular energy. Its synthesis, however, requires the presence of pantothenic acid, a vitamin obtained largely from the diet. It is postulated that royal jelly helps increase the production of energy in that it contains pantothenic acid in amounts sufficient to affect the biosynthesis of coenzyme A.
Royal jelly is also noted for its pyridoxine content. Pyridoxal phosphate, or pyridoxine, is the active form of vitamin B5. It is necessary for the metabolism of protein, glucose, and lipids. It is of special significance in yielding energy from glycogen, which it converts to glucose. The combination of fatty acids, simple sugars, and B vitamin in royal jelly enables it to bring about a noticeable energy boost.
Creates Feelings of Well-being
Royal jelly has been linked to an increase in the release of major neurotransmitters, especially serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate. Serotonin is dubbed the happiness hormone. Dopamine is linked to rewards-seeking behavior and keeps interest in repetitive tasks. And glutamate is a major excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Together they sustain mental focus.
The roles of its components and their metabolites in the production of energy and release of brain chemicals are the reason why royal jelly creates feelings of physical and mental well-being.
Royal Jelly Use It
As you can see, royal jelly is rich in many nutrients to support a health brain and metabolism. If you are seeking more energy, give royal jelly a try!
Can N-Acetyl Cysteine Boost Liver Health And Function?
February 10, 2011 12:31 PM
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) And The Liver
N-Acetyl Cysteine or NAC is an antidote for poisonous effects of paracetamol overdose. It targets the cells in the liver, raising their capacity to deal with harmful metabolites. There are a number of researches well underway that scrutinizes a variety of medical conditions for which this compound could be of use. It is a known precursor of antioxidants and in itself a scavenger of peroxides and free radicals.
Hepatocytes are the cells that take on most of the functions of the liver and account for more than 70 per cent of the liver’s total mass. These cells are responsible for the presystematic metabolism of drugs, also known as the first-pass effect, rendering most drugs innocuous before they are released into the bloodstream. The total amounts of bioactive substances that are distributed to the rest of the body are also largely regulated by hepatocytes, notably carbohydrates. In addition, they are involved in the biosynthesis of protein, cholesterol, phospholipids, and bile salts as well as the functional reserves for protein.
Hepatocytes and Toxins
Certain drugs produce toxins when broken down by hepatocytes. A classic example is the metabolism of ethanol into acetaldehyde, which is a toxic compound, a probable carcinogen, and an air pollutant emitted by combustion of cars and tobacco smoking. While hepatocytes are known for their detoxifying responses to toxic substances entering the body, the metabolism of toxins actually takes up a great deal of time, resulting in certain toxins getting released into the bloodstream prior to first-pass effect.
That being said, continued exposure to toxins wears down hepatocytes, and high concentrations of what we refer to as poisons is certain to bring damage to the liver. This is what happens during overdose of paracetamol, or acetaminophen. In an effort to metabolized excessive amounts of the drug, the liver cells produce by-products that are essentially poisons, which under normal circumstances can be contained well.
NAC and Glutathione Production
The major antioxidant synthesized by the human body called glutathione comes to the liver’s defense when toxic by-products are produced. Hepatocytes in particular are so dependent on glutathione in the quenching of toxins that it has been observed that any challenge to the manufacture of this endogenous antioxidant will ultimately result in liver failure.
Glutathione is released by hepatocytes in large amounts especially during the metabolism of alcohol and drugs, but during overdose the ravaging activities of ethanol or drug metabolites overwhelm the detoxifying effects of antioxidant reserves in the body. Simply put, the defense mechanisms in the employ of the body have limits. NAC resolves this problem.
The presence of NAC in the body augments the liver’s ability to produce the needed amounts of glutathione to effectively counter the harmful properties of invasive substances. In fact, the liver completely recuperates in a matter of weeks even after life-threatening conditions given that NAC is introduced in the human body in time to avoid subsequent damages to other vital organs. Indeed its application has proven to save lives in fatal cases of paracetamol poisoning.
N-Acetyl Cysteine is available at your local or internet vitamin store in capsule or tablet forms. Always choose name brands like Source Naturals to ensure quality and purity of the product you buy for better liver health.
Have you had your NAC today?
Can L-Arginine Really Help with Circulation Blood Flow?
February 05, 2011 01:43 PM
The incorporation of nutrients from our diet to the parts of the human body is taken care of by the network of blood vessels that make up the circulatory system, including the distribution of oxygen. Blood flow in effect largely contributes to the effective utilization of bioactive substances from digested foods. The muscles that line the inner walls of blood vessels are responsible for healthy circulation with the aid of a substance that is catalyzed from L-arginine.
Arteries, capillaries, and veins are the three primary members of the vascular highway that forms the systematic circulation. The arteries from the heart branch out in smaller vascular tubes called capillaries, which are connected to the system of veins leading back to the heart. Blood continuously flows inside this complex loop of tubes and brings nutrition to the tissues at the end of capillaries.
Endothelium and Smooth Muscle Cells
Circulation is a vascular function regulated by the smooth muscle cells within the blood vessel walls that promote streamline flow to avoid turbulence. In a lifetime the flow may result in chaos, depending on the health of blood vessels. A special class of tissues exposed to the blood plasma known as endothelium stimulates the smooth muscle cells that make up most of the systematic circulation to perform its function. However, factors associated with aging interfere with the proper functioning of both the smooth muscle cells and the endothelium.
The human body possesses a gene responsible for the encoding of a group of enzymes that aid healthy blood flow in the circulatory system. This gene identified as Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS), as the name suggests, has something to do with the endothelium and the chemical compound nitric oxide. While chronic expression of nitric oxide in the body may lead to inflammatory diseases, this gas actually serves a focal role in preventing damage to all tissues in the human body resulting from the deprivation of blood supply.
Nitric Oxide and L-Arginine
How? Nitric oxide is produced at the right amounts by all mammals for use as a signaling agent at the cellular level. In the circulatory system, nitric oxide is known to display vasodilator properties, that is, it brings about the relaxation of smooth muscle cells that line the blood vessel walls. Vasodilation is central to circulation and blood flow inasmuch as the widening of vascular walls leads to the flow of blood. Since nitric oxide must be manufactured at healthy levels, it is regulated by Endothelial NOS.
However, its production depends on the availability of Arginine in the human body. The amino acid L-arginine is not synthesized at sufficient amounts at all times, and thus it must be derived from our diet. No one can really tell what conditions govern the biosynthesis of L-arginine, and for individuals who have poor nutrition, levels of L-arginine are significantly low. This is the reason why medical professionals advocate the use of L-arginine to counter vascular diseases. Supplementation of L-arginine has in fact been associated to healthy circulation.
Pantothenic acid has a wide range of health benefits
December 28, 2010 11:42 AM
Pantothenic Acid Benefits
Pantothenic acid is otherwise known as Vitamin B5 and is a member of the B vitamin complex. Among its various health benefits are helping to alleviate such conditions as hair loss, asthma, allergies, respiratory problems, heart disorders, osteoarthritis, skin disorders and much more, so what is it about this substance that is possesses so many health benefits?
Pantothenic acid is an essential component in the synthesis of the ubiquitous Coenzyme A that is found in every cell in your body. Coenzyme A (CoA) is necessary for the formation of the acetyl-CoA that enables carbons atoms to be moved within cells. It is also an essential factor in the Kreb's or Citric Acid Cycle that generates ATP energy in every cell in your body.
Many other extremely important substances rely on Pantothenic acid and CoA, such as the biosynthesis of cholesterol (needed for sex hormone production), the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and fatty acids which are essential for a healthy heart, immune system and many other biological processes. Little wonder then that a pantothenic acid supplement offers so many benefits to your health.
Pantothenic Acid for Healthy Hair and Skin
Most young people value the look of their hair and skin, and pantothenic acid is largely responsible, along with several other essential vitamins, for their health. Otherwise referred to as Vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is contained as an ingredient in a wide range of shampoos. This was done as a reaction to the possibility of a deficiency in pantothenic acid leading to loss of hair color and skin irritation.
In fact this occurred only with mice, and its use in shampoos has never been proved, though all that may indicate is that there has never been enough testing carried out - which might well be the case. However, there is more evidence for its effect in maintaining a healthy skin, and tests have indicated that pantothenic acid, taken both orally and topically, can help to improve the appearance of the skin within between a week and four weeks of commencing the treatment.
There is more evidence available for this effect of pantothenic on skin health and in reducing the incidence and appearance of acne, largely because of the properties of Coenzyme A, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can destroy the free radicals that damage skin cells. It can also reduce skin inflammation, which will in turn reduce the inflammatory appearance of acne and other skin conditions.
Turmeric, Curcumin, And Good Health
November 11, 2010 03:48 PM
Turmeric and its historyTurmeric is not just an ancient Asian spice but also an effective traditional alternative medicine used worldwide. Turmeric is a spice that originates in India and has been long used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine. This spice comes from the herb Curcuma longa L. which is a member of the Curcuma botanical group, a part of the ginger family of herbs called Zingiberaceae. The root and rhizome (underground stem) of this plant is crushed and powdered into ground Turmeric. Ground Turmeric is used worldwide as a seasoning and the main ingredient in curry powders. Ground Turmeric is also the source of Curcumin, an extracted potent substance also used as alternative medicine nowadays.
Turmeric, because of its Curcumin content, has many health benefits to humans. Firstly, Turmeric has an anti-inflammatory property. Its active ingredient, Curcumin, has been proven to help reduce inflammation. Decade to decade, Turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat inflammations of the skin and muscles. Experiments done by researchers also revealed that this herb has been effective in decreasing post-surgical inflammation. This important health benefit of Turmeric is considered to be a result of the herb’s ability to slow down, if not to totally stop, Eicosanoid Biosynthesis, one of the processes the immune system undergoes during an inflammatory response.
Secondly, as a result of its anti-inflammatory characteristic, Turmeric also has an anti-arthritic property. It is widely used as an alternative medicine for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders. In addition, this herb also has a natural painkiller effect. Studies show that it has similar actions to the commonly used medications such as COX-2 inhibitor and Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs.
Thirdly, several studies have shown that Turmeric is also helpful in lowering the level of bad cholesterol in the blood known as the Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL and in increasing the body’s good cholesterol, High Density Lipoprotein or HDL. An increased level of LDL promotes cholesterol plaque deposits to the walls of blood vessels, most commonly in the arteries of heart. These plaques narrow the arterial diameter hence resulting to high blood pressure and even circulation blockage. An arterial block may cause poor circulation and oxygenation to heart muscles leading to cardiac injury then infarction. This is oftentimes the cause of heart attacks. It has also been discovered that Turmeric can promote excretion of dietary fats. Thus, controlling the intestinal uptake of fats, especially cholesterol.
Turmeric - Powerful AntioxidantLastly, Turmeric is also widely used because of its anti-oxidant property. Studies demonstrate that Turmeric is effective in eliminating free radicals in the body. These free radicals are harmful. It may cause cell mutations which can lead to tumor formation and, worse, cancer.
This herbal plant can be prepared in the household by pounding and pressing its roots to be able to extract the juice out. It is then mixed with water and may be used topically or by nasal inhalation. The root can also be lightly cooked and eaten. Turmeric is also helpful in earaches and to clear clogged sinuses thus easing breathing. This herb can also be purchased in bulk powder or standardized forms to ensure its beneficial properties are intact.
Fight Inflammation With Herbs from Planetary Herbals
June 02, 2010 04:39 PM
Our modern lives have untold benefits, as well as challenges. Our dependence on man-made toxic chemicals, junk food, nutrient imbalanced diets, and our stressful, sedentary lifestyles can alter our biochemical metabolism and affect our health.
These lifestyles and environmental change can challenge immune health, so that the various components of the immune system are not able to carry out their protective functions. Or our immune systems can go into overdrive, often leading to a state called metabolic inflammation.
A Powerful Herbal Blend
Inflamma-Care is a potent, herbal response to the metabolic inflammation that can result from inappropriate immune response. The main component of inflama-care is the rhizome of the curcuma spicies, long used as a spice in India. Known worldwide as turmeric (curcuma longa), it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the activities of cytokines – inflammation messengers.
This world-renowned spice is supported by boswellia, which inhibits pro-inflammatory enzymes, and ginger an antioxidant that inhibits prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis. Other herbs in the formula that inhibit inflammatory action include willow bark, Chinese skullcap, corydalis, holy basil, and hops.
Inflama-care also contains systemic enzymes to clear and protect the arteries and circulatory system. Systemic enzymes like bromelain and papain cleanse the bloodstream and enable the blood to flow smoothly. A free-flowing bloodstream helps the body by circulating important nutrients to the cells while clearing the body of wastes.
Immune Activating Mushroom
Planetary Herbals also offers you new Full Spectrum Chaga in 1000mg tablets and a 1:4 liquid extract. Preliminary studies suggest that chaga triggers immune responses and protects the cells with antioxidant activity.
Chaga is a mushroom that is found attached to trees like birch, alder, beach, and other hardwoods, throughout the northern latitudes. A polyphore, the mushroom looks somewhat like coal – a brownish black mass often seen in tree trunks. In China, Siberia, Finland, Japan, Poland and North America, ancient and native peoples have long known the benefits of chaga. In an acient treaties, the Chinese monk shen nog declared in 100 BC that chaga is “a precious gift of nature.”
In modern research, chaga has been shown to have 215 phytonutrients, including 29 beta-glucans. Chaga also absorbs a nutrient from the outer birch tree bark: betulin, a natural anti-inflammatory. Among the components in chaga are triterpenes, sterols, beta-glucans, flavonoids, melanins, polyphenols, saponins, lignin, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This fascinating combination of nutrients is being studied worldwide.
The PhytoDynamic Difference
Both inflama-care and full spectrum chaga are formulated with a profound understanding of the ways in which plant compounds interact with human physiology. Planetary Herbals phytodynamic principles draw on herbal tradition, scientific research, and a level of clinical expertise unmatched in the natural products industry. The result: herbal products unsurpassed for quality and consumer satisfaction.
Antioxidants and your health
May 17, 2010 10:44 AM
There is an impressive amount of scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of supplementing with a wide variety of antioxidants. Consequently, there are many health practitioners who have begun to recommend high dietary intakes of these crucial nutrients in order to prevent against oxidative stress. It was anticipated over two decades ago by leading researchers that high-dose supplementation with antioxidants is developing a significant role in the prevention and treatment of a lot of today’s common illnesses. It should be noted that antioxidants do not work in isolation. When an antioxidant neutralizes a free radical, it, itself, is oxidized and must be regenerated by another antioxidant before it can be used again. Because of this, it is crucial to supplement with a wide variety of antioxidants, in order to reflect what actually occurs in nature.
Vitamin C, an aqueous-phase antioxidant, is the main guard against oxidative attack in the extra-cellular matrix, as well as within the cytoplasm of the cell. Vitamin C happens to be a substrate for eight different enzyme systems that are involved in various cellular functions. Among these functions are collagen synthesis, ATP synthesis in the mitochondria, and hormone biosynthesis. Its main antioxidant partners are vitamin E and beta carotene, both of which help to regenerate vitamin C.
Of all the antioxidants, it seems as if vitamin E offers the greatest protection against heart disease because of its ability to protect the cardiovascular system from oxidative damage. It is lipid-soluble, making it an important component of the cell membrane, where it works to protect the cell against lipid peroxidation and control oxidation-induced inflammatory events. Recently, the gamma tocopherol form of vitamin E has shown a great deal of promise in its ability to reduce the risk of several oxidative stress related disease.
Beta-carotene is a member of a diverse group of photosynthetic pigments. It plays a huge role in human nutrition. As an antioxidant, it possesses a double-bond structure that allows it to react effectively with single oxygen radicals, absorbing and diffusing their energy. Beta-carotene also acts as a precursor for vitamin A by supplying a portion of the body’s requirement for the vitamin. This act alone plays a central role in the chemistry of vision. Beta-carotene and vitamin A both prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, reduce oxidative damage to DNA, and disable oxygen free radicals that are produced by exposure to sunlight and air pollution. These antioxidants are also involved in the activation of gene expression and the control of cell differentiation.
When combined together, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene produce and important antioxidant trio that plays a huge role in fighting oxidative and inflammatory events. There are several other antioxidants that should be noted due to their ability to work synergistically with the vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene trio. These include vitamin A, alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, coenzyme Q10, and the antioxidant mineral, selenium. In order to determine whether a nutrient provides antioxidant support, scientists question whether the product contains vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, beta-carotene, alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, coenzyme Q10, and selenium and to what strength these vitamins and minerals are per serving.
Fight Inflammation With Inflama-Care - Anti-inflammatory herbal combination
March 22, 2010 09:07 PM
Turmeric / Boswellia Complex
Our modern lives have untold benefits, as well as great challenges. Our dependence on man-made toxic chemicals, junk food, nutrient-imbalanced diets, and our stressful, sedentary lifestyles can alter our biochemical metabolism and affect our health. These unhealthy lifestyles and environmental changes have set our immune system on overdrive, a state call metabolic inflammation. Planetary Herbals Inflama-Care is a potent, herbal response to these modern challenges.
The Inflammation Cycle
As toxins and stress begin to alter our body chemistry and change the function of vital tissues, our body reacts with metabolic inflammation just as if it were being attacked. This reaction may result in a perpetual cycle of chemical imbalances and suboptimal health. Yet metabolic inflammation is often below the threshold of perception, not noticed or felt for years after its starts. It is only much later that the altered biochemistry and the system imbalances that it generates are noticed.
A Powerful Herbal Blend Inflama-Care helps support the body’s natural response to metabolic inflammation. The main component of the formula is the rhizome of the curcuma species, long used as a spice in India. Known worldwide as turmeric (Curcuma longa), it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the activities of cytokines—inflammation messengers. This world-renowned spice is supported by boswellia, which inhibits proinflammatory enzymes, and ginger, an antioxidant that inhibits prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis. Other herbs in the formula that inhibit inflammatory action include willow bark, Chinese skull cap, corydalis, holy basil, and hops.
The PhytoDynamic Difference
Planetary Herbals presents inflama-Care to help maintain the body’s biochemical balance and integrity. Inflama-care was formulated with a profound understanding of the ways in which plant compounds interact with human physiology. Planetary Herbals phytodynamic principles draw on herbal tradition, scientific research, and a level of clinical expertise unmatched in the natural products industry. Thie result: herbal products unsurpassed for quality and consumer satisfaction.
May 08, 2009 10:00 AM
L-Cysteine is what is known as a non-essential amino acid, meaning that it can be biosynthesized by the body and hence not an essential part of your diet. Due to its possessing a thiol side chain, it is termed a hydrophilic amino acid with an affinity for aqueous systems. Because of this it is relatively highly reactive, and is therefore an important component of a large number of enzymes and proteins.
Although, after all, it is not an essential amino acid, deficiencies can occur in the young and in the old, and also in those suffering certain metabolic diseases. Dietary sources include high-protein foods such as chicken, turkey, pork, dairy products and vegetables such as cereals, broccoli, garlic and onions.
The biochemistry of this amino acid begins with another amino acid known as serine, and also methionine. The latter is fist converted to homocysteine, which is then combined with serine to form cystathionine. This is then converted into cysteine and alpha- ketobutyrate. The thiol group is highly reactive and gives cysteine its biological properties.
L-Cysteine possesses strong antioxidant properties due to the thiol group which easily undergoes redox reactions. However, it is for its detoxification effect on the body that the amino acid is mainly taken as a supplement. It is, therefore, these properties that we shall discuss first.
Cysteine can reduce the toxic effects of alcohol, such as a hangover or the more serious liver damage. The by-product of alcohol metabolism that does most damage and is responsible for the majority of the negative after-effects of excessive alcohol consumption is acetaldehyde. L-Cysteine converts acetaldehyde into the more acceptable acetic acid, and so prevents the aldehyde from having too much of a negative effect on your health and well-being. However, the results obtained from such studies have been from animals only, and the therapeutic effects of cysteine have not yet been tested on humans.
What has been tested and is known is that L-cysteine is effective in the detoxification of heavy metals in the body. A common source of heavy metal toxicity is mercury from amalgam fillings in the teeth. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared in 1989 that dental amalgams are a hazardous substance under the Superfund law, many people still have them in their mouths.
The thiol group and L-cysteine has a high affinity for mercury and other heavy metals, as previously stated, and a supplement can be used to remove from the body any mercury leached from mercury-based tooth fillings. It can also be used to bind to copper, lead and cadmium. Lead and cadmium are particularly toxic to the human body, and even though lead is no longer used in plumbing or paints, and cadmium in toys or paints, there are still many sources of these two heavy metals available that can lead to human toxification.
An L-cysteine supplement can be used to remove these heavy metals from the body. Any proteins containing cysteine will tightly bind heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, molybdenum, cobalt and mercury, and allow them to be excreted by the body in the usual fashion. This direct involvement in heavy metal detoxification is a very useful property of this amino acid.
Another detoxification application of L-cysteine is in direct involvement in protecting cellular glutathione levels, and also the prevention of the death of liver cells by acetaminophen poisoning. The latter is of particular interest to many people since acetaminophen is better known as paracetamol, and since this is a freely available over-the-counter drug, overdoses are not unknown. The result of an overdose is the necrosis of liver cells, with eventual liver failure and death.
The treatment of choice is N-acetylcysteine. If used within 10 hours of the overdose it is extremely effective, and even from 16 to 24 hours it is better than other controls. It is believed that the acetylcysteine liberates cysteine which, when available to the liver, enables the biosynthesis of glutathione. Glutathione can then maintain the production of the fifth metabolite required for the specific detoxification of the paracetamol/acetaminophen.
L-Cysteine is also an essential component in the biosynthesis of coenzyme A, an enzyme essential for the production of energy from fats and carbohydrates. It is also a very important component of hair, from which it is commercially produced. Without an adequate intake of L-cysteine the growth of healthy hair would not be possible.
There are several supplemental uses of L-cysteine including the treatment of bronchial conditions for which the amino acid can help to liquefy and clear mucus from the airways and lungs. It is also used to protect against side effects of chemotherapy treatment of cancers and for medical treatments for excessive exposure to radiation.
However, there are certain situations in which L-cysteine should be avoided when at all possible. Diabetics should not use it, and neither should those suffering from cystinuria, whereby large quantities of amino acids, including cystine, are excreted in their urine. L-cystine, incidentally, is formed by oxidation of L-cysteine.
Paradoxically the amino acid is one of the several hundred additives made to tobacco by the cigarette companies. Although, as with the majority of tobacco additives, its purpose is unknown there are two possible reasons for its inclusion. L-Cysteine is a known expectorant, so it could be added to promote the expectoration of mucus in the lungs which is promoted by smoking, and it also increases the production off the antioxidant glutathione that is depleted in smokers.
There are several other non-medical uses for the amino acid, but it is for is its detoxification properties that it is most used as a supplement. However, because it is largely derived from human hair or duck feathers, it may not be classed as kosher or halal in spite of many claims made to that effect, though the more expensive source of microbial fermentation from corn sugar can be.
The substance is recognized as safe by the FDA, and must be labeled as L-cysteine when it is present in a preparation intended for its therapeutic effects. Keep in mind however, that it should be avoided by diabetics.
May 02, 2009 11:41 AM
Methionine is an essential amino acid, meaning that it is not synthesized by the body, and so has to be taken as part of your diet. It also contains sulfur, one of two sulfur-containing amino acids that can form proteins, the other being cysteine. It is a precursor for taurine, which is an aminosulphonic acid, and not strictly an amino acid, which together with cysteine supports the health of your cardiovascular system and helps to eliminate toxins from the body.
Maintenance of Cell Membranes
It is also an important intermediary in the maintenance of cell membranes. Phospholipids are fat-soluble components of the cell membrane, phosphatidylcholine being a very important example. Also known as lecithin, this substance is derived from choline, itself biosynthesized in a chemical pathway involving S-adenosylmethionine.
This substance is made in the body from ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and methionine with the help of the enzyme methionine adensosyltransferase. Known as SAM (or SAM-e), S-adenosylmethionine employs a number of metabolic pathways in its reaction, though generally aminopropylation, transmethylation and transsulfuration. These add aminopropyl, sulfo and methyl groups to a number of substances, the most common being the methylation of proteins, nucleic acids and lipids.
Phosphatidylcholine is produced by the enzyme-catalyzed sequential methylation of phosphatidylethanolamine, SAM donating the methyl groups. The maintenance of the integrity of the cellular membrane by phosphatidylcholine is critical to all of the basic processes in human biology, including communication between cells, flow of information and bioenergetics.
A by-product of this reaction is homocysteine, formed in the liver from the S-adenosylhomocysteine that SAM is changed to after donating methyl groups. Excess homocysteine in the blood can create the risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular disease. SAM is also of use in the treatment of depression and of arthritis.
Creatine is a substance well known to athletes as being useful in provide short-term energy for high-intensity training. Although available in the diet, about 50% creatine used by the body is biosynthesized from methionine and two other amino acids, glycine and arginine. It allows a burst of energy lasting about 10 seconds, carried out without the use of glycogen reserves or fatty tissue.
Glycine and arginine combine to release ornithine as a by-product, and form guanidino acetate. SAM donates a methyl group to the latter to form creatine, about 95% of which is then stored in the skeletal muscle tissue. The stored creatine phosphate has the effect of allowing the muscle cells to hold more water, which also enables an enhanced level of protein synthesis, and hence an increase in muscle bulk, which also results from the increased blood flow resulting from the short-term high-intensity exercise that creatine allows.
Creatine can also increase the levels of MRF4 (myogenic transcription factor), resulting in an increasing in the myonuclei provided by satellite cells to damaged muscle tissue, that not only repair damaged muscle fibers, but also increase their ability to grow.
Detoxification of the Liver
Substances that help the liver to process fats, or lipids, are known as lipotropic, and the important lipotropics in human biochemistry are imositol, betaine, choline and methionine. They prevent fat from accumulating in the liver, and methionine is also useful in its effect of glutathione. This is a substance that helps the liver to neutralize toxins, such as excessive doses of acetaminophen, and its supplies are regulated by methionine.
Methionine and Autism
Research into autism is closely studying the Methionine/Glutathione Transsulfuration Pathway. This pathway is a very important biochemical means of detoxification, whereby toxins are methylated and then excreted. This pathway seems to be disrupted in autistic individuals.
Not only that, but disruption can lead to oxidative stress which results in many health problems. An example of this is the build-up of the oxidant homocysteine when there is insufficient Vitamin B6 to convert it into cysteine. This has been discussed previously, and is discussed again below.
Although research is in its infancy, it appears that AIDS sufferers also have decreased levels of methionine in their blood. It is believed that the process of AIDS could be linked to this, particularly the dementia that can occur as a result of the deterioration of the nervous system.
It is also hoped that it can help with some symptoms of Parkinson's disease, and pancreatitis. Initial research into this use of methionine has been very promising, as are studies into its use for urinary tract infections. It appears to operate like cranberry in this respect, preventing bacteria from attaching to the cell walls and multiplying in the urinary tract.
Methionine is believed to be essential for the formation of collagen, and for healthy pliable skin, hair, nails and other forms of connective tissue. For this reason it is often used as a supplement for the treatment of arthritis, although an excess should be avoided for reasons discussed above. S-Adenosylmethionine generates homocysteine during the biosynthesis of phosphatidylcholine, and this can cause cardiovascular problems.
So stick to the recommended doses when you use methionine as a supplement. Used properly, and according to instructions, it offers many health benefits, and can also be used to bulk up your muscle tissue and give increased energy when you need it most.
Dietary sources include fish, eggs, lentils, onions, garlic, meat, seeds, spinach and yoghurt. A good supplement would be from 800mg - 1000mg per day, and is best taken along with a B vitamin complex, or at least folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, in order to prevent the increased generation of homocysteine.
Methionine also promotes the excretion of estrogen, so is a possible supplement for women on oral contraceptives that lower the production of this hormone. The elderly might also benefit from a supplement although, if taken for any specific condition, your health professional should be consulted first, as they should be for any supplement.
Nevertheless, methionine is a very useful supplement, and can be taken to prevent a large number of conditions. Research is continuing on its effect on AIDS patients, and Parkinson's, and it is hopeful that it will one day be recommended to help people suffering from these conditions.
Fight Cold Sores And Build Collagen
April 29, 2009 10:18 AM
Lysine is an essential alpha-amino acid, in that it cannot be biosynthesized by the human body, and therefore must be taken in your diet or as a supplement. It is synthesized in plants from aspartic acid, and metabolized in the body to produce acetyl-Coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA).
Before discussing its action on herpes, we shall first have look at how Lysine helps with the formation of collagen. Collagen is a protein that is produced in the body from lysine and proline, another amino acid. In fact the primary role of amino acids in your diet is as building blocks to form the much larger protein molecules.
Collagen is fibrous, and forms the connective tissue such as cartilage, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels and skin. Even the external parts of the ears. It literally holds our skeletons together, and wraps the whole body up in skin, so if we had no collagen we would literally fall apart! Collagen is also used by body cells to form the matrix that the body cells use to attach to each other and is one of the most important types of tissue in your body.
It is so ubiquitous that over 30% of the protein contained in your body is collagen, and it is designed for its structural strength as opposed to its ability to take part in chemical reactions as other proteins are. Lysine and Vitamin C are essential for the maintenance and formation of collagen.
There is not a lot of lysine in collagen - only about 4%, but it is very active in the cross-linking that forms the fibrils of collagen. Fibrils are the hair-like structures formed in a triple helix arrangement by three protein chains twisting round one another. The fibrils are bundled together in a straight line that has amazing tensile strength. The tensile strength of collagen is, weight for weight, stronger than steel!
In order for lysine to take part in this process effectively, some molecules have to be hydroxylated and others oxidized, forming aldehydes. Things can go wrong here, and deficiencies in the metabolic process can lead to some heritable conditions, or diseases of connective tissue. Among these are lathyrism, Cutis-Laxa and the Menkes kinky hair syndrome.
However, lysine is a very versatile amino acid, and not only is it necessary for the biosynthesis of all proteins, but is also heavily involved in the production of enzymes, hormones and antibodies. It is an important component of the calcium absorption process, and also, as previously stated, can be used in the treatment of herpes simplex.
This form of herpes is known commonly as 'cold sores', and is a result of the activity of the herpes virus. Viruses do not reproduce in order to ensure the 'continuation of the species', but replicate. In order to achieve this it requires the help of another amino acid, arginine. This is a common amino acid whose sources include grains, seeds, peanuts, raisins and chocolate.
Lysine and arginine competes for the absorption and entry of tissue cells, and reduces the strength of arginine, so preventing the growth of herpes. For this reason a supplement of lysine can be used to reduce the effects of the herpes simplex virus, and lessen the symptoms of the cold sore.
However, it is not only cold sores but other forms of herpes that lysine can help to relieve. Herpes zoster is a virus that causes shingles. This virus is generated by the reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus left in the tissues after chickenpox. It is a recurrent condition, and lycine can help to reduce recurrences as well as its severity. Apart from being an effective defense against herpes, and forming collagen, the amino acid imparts several other benefits to the human body.
Among these is osteoporosis. L-lysine is involved in calcium absorption in the intestine, and also helps to reduce the loss of calcium in the urine. In osteoporosis we have to try to make every calcium molecule ingested in the diet to be incorporated in the bone structure. L-arginine can work with lysine to enhance the activity of the body cells that produce bone.
Canker sores are often mistaken for cold sores, but they are actually quite different. They are small sores inside the mouth, and appear in the form of very painful ulcers. The cause is unknown, but is believed to be a virus, and lysine appears to help the condition. Although there have been no proper clinical tests carried out on its use as a remedy for canker sores, lysine appears to help, and a supplement is recommended as a treatment by many doctors. It will do no harm, and anybody suffering from these tiny but painful sores will try anything.
Although lysine deficiency is rare, it can occur, particularly amongst those observing a vegetarian macrobiotic diet, and also in athletes who frequently undertake vigorous exercise, especially with too little recovery time. The effects of a deficiency are fatigue, nausea, appetite loss, anemia, slow growth and kidney stones. The latter is likely due to a failure to absorb calcium, that L-lysine promotes, and the formation of calcium oxalate and other insoluble salts in the kidney.
Dietary sources include beans and other legumes, and although it should be available in cereals, baked foods and doughnuts, for example, the carmelization of sugars binds the lysine to the sugar, and so reducing its bioavailability. However, you can also get it in cheese, eggs, tofu and red meats.
If you are taking an arginine supplement, you should consult your physician prior to taking lysine. The reason for this is that lysine and arginine share biochemical pathways, and arginine can reduce the effective concentration of lysine.
However, it has not been tested by the FDA, nor approved, and any use is at your own risk. This risk appears to be very small, although its manufacture is not regulated. However, do not let this bother you: the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say.
Many have found lysine to be effective with collagen or herpes problems, and a supplement of between 3,000 and 9,000 mg per day is recommended for those with herpes viral infections. It is not recommended for children under two years old. Lysine is available at your local or internet health food store at discount prices. Look for name brands to ensure purity and quality of the product you purchase.
Another Great Cold Sore Remedy is Red Marine Algae!
Protect The Liver with Glutathione And Cysteine
April 23, 2009 01:54 PM
The tripeptide L-glutathione is synthesized in the body from L. glutamic acid, L-cysteine and glycine, a reaction that can occur in any cell of the body although it is essential that it also occurs in the liver. Should glutathione concentrations drop, they can be increased by supplementing with cysteine or any other of the three amino acids that are used in the biosynthesis of this important if substance
The tripeptide exists in two forms: the reduced form (GSH) which contains a sulfhydryl (SH) functional group attached to the cysteinyl part of the molecule, and the oxidized form glutathione disulfide (GSSG). As electrons are lost from the reduced form, two molecules combine to create a dimer formed by a disulfide bridge, the process which can be reversed through reduction of the GSSG. Such electrons are lost during its reaction with free radicals, in which the free radicals are neutralized by the donation of an electron from the oxidized version of glutathione.
The definition of a free radical is a molecule that is lacking one electron from an electronic pair. Its prime purpose is then to steal an electron from the nearest molecule to it. In doing so, it can not only destroy that molecule, but also destroy body cells and lead, not only to premature aging, but also to some potentially fatal conditions.
It is an unusual peptide in that it involves a link between the cysteine amino grouping and the carboxyl functional group of the glutamic acid. It is a powerful antioxidant, acting as an effective free radical scavenger and protecting the body cells from the effects of free radical oxidation. However, it is on its detoxification effect in the liver that we shall focus here prior to discussing some other uses to which the body puts glutathione in its two manifestations.
Much of the detoxification is connected with the thiol group in the molecule. Take mercury for example. The thiol grouping forms a strong Hg-sulfydryl chemical bond within the liver, in the form of a glutathione-mercury chelate. In this form mercury is unable to exert any toxic effect on the body and can be excreted in the normal manner. The same reactive pathway is followed by other heavy metals that can bond to thiol groupings. In this way L-glutathione can protect the liver from the effects of a number of toxic heavy metals such as cadmium and chromium.
This is an important property of the amino acid, particularly in industrial and urban environments where the population is more prone to exposure to heavy metals than their rural counterparts. However, the end result on the glutathione is that it is removed from the body, and, particularly with city dwellers, a supplement may be required to maintain a healthy concentration of this amino acid in the body and in particular in the liver. Therefore, although L-glutathione is not considered an essential amino acid, in that it is biosynthesized within the body, a supplement is sometimes required, particularly by those who live in large cities.
It is important to consider the form in which the glutathione supplement is administered. This is because of the presence of gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase within the digestive system. This enzyme appears to destroy L-glutathione before it can be absorbed in the intestine so normal oral forms of supplementation are likely to be ineffective. Possible forms of effective administration include buccal (between the cheek and teeth) and hypodermically.
An alternative means of supplementation is to take substances such as selenium, methionine, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin C and glutamine that stimulate the biosynthesis of glutathione. Also, since the substance utilizes the raw materials of L-cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine in its intracellular production, supplementation with these amino acids should also help to produce L-glutathione.
That said, let's return to its antioxidant properties and its effect on the liver that contains the largest stocks of glutathione in the body. It is generally regarded as the most important antioxidant in the body. It protects cellular cytoplasm from oxidation by reducing disulfide groups and maintaining a highly reducing environment within the cytoplasm. It reacts with hydrogen peroxide and other oxidative agents, and is converted to the oxidized form GSSG. It is then reduced back to GSH through the combination of the reducing agent and an enzyme. The reducing agent is nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH), the enzyme being glutathione reductase.
The implications that this strong reducing effect has on the liver are significant. Reduced GSH L-glutathione levels have been found in patients suffering from HIV, hepatitis C and other liver diseases. Supplementation with GSH has been found to restore normal levels of glutathione to the liver, and it has been demonstrated that the treatment has improved such conditions significantly.
Atherosclerosis is a condition of the arteries caused by the deposition of plaques formed from oxidized low-density lipoproteins, otherwise known as bad cholesterol. The strong antioxidant effect of GSH prevents this from LDLs from being oxidized and deposited on the arterial wall. There are other results of glutathione supplementation that indicate the effectiveness of antioxidants in the treatment of serious liver conditions, and there are no doubts that combating the effects of free radicals and oxidizing agents within the liver has a positive effect on many potentially serious liver diseases.
Many of these are exacerbated by the generation of free radicals by relatively modern pollution sources such as pesticides, petrol and diesel emissions, tobacco fumes and various other chemical emissions. A strong antioxidant such as L-glutathione cannot be anything other than an effective means of reducing the biological effect of these oxidants. It protects not only the liver but also the lungs and cardiovascular system.
For all these reasons a supplement consisting of L-glutathione or its constituent parts, glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine, provide significant protection against the stresses and strains of modern living. Increased pollution levels and heightened oxidative stress levels within the body are playing havoc with our body defenses, and GSH is an important one of them that can easily be enhanced by supplementation. There are no known reactions to L-glutathione supplementation, but pregnant women and babies should receive expert medical advice prior to taking it.
Detoxify With L-Citrulline
April 13, 2009 03:51 PM
L-citrulline is an alpha-amino acid, first isolated from the watermelon in 1930: hence the name, citrullis being Latin for that fruit, the skin of which is rich in the substance. It is used to enhance performance in sports, particularly through aiding recovery after exercise, and also helps the liver to detoxify the blood.
It is not an essential amino acid in that it is produced by the body and need not be part of your diet. It is a precursor to arginine, which involves the sustained release of nitric oxide in the endothelium that promotes increased flow of blood and the blood vessels as described further below. One of the biochemical pathways for its biosynthesis involves the urea cycle, whereby the toxic ammonia is detoxified into an easily excreted form through its conversion to urea.
The urea cycle consists of five reactions, and citrulline is formed in the second of these. In the first of these, ammonia reacts with bicarbonate to form carbamoyl phosphate, the phosphate coming from the two molecule of ATP used to energize the reaction. These are converted to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), and the carbamoyl phosphate then reacts with ornithine to form citrulline, which takes part in step three that eventually leads to the formation of urea.
The second way in which L-citrulline can be biosynthesized is from the oxidation of arginine, a natural amino acid. Arginine is oxidized into N-hydroxyarginine, and then into L-citrulline with the release of nitric oxide.
So that's how it is produced in the body, but how does it help sportsmen, and what part does it play in detoxification? Its effect on recovery after exercise is connected with blood flow. Energy is created in the mitochondria that are contained in every cell off the body. Among the raw materials needed for the production of energy are glucose and oxygen: glucose obtained from the carbohydrates in your diet, and oxygen transported by the hemoglobin or red blood cells.
Both of these rely on blood flow: greater the volume of blood transported to the cells then the greater the ability of these cells to produce energy. During periods of exercise, a good supply of blood is required to provide the raw materials needed for the energy demand of the muscles involved in the exercise. Not only that however, but recovery after exercise involves the replacement of electrolytes, the glycogen used in extensive aerobic and anaerobic exercise and protein replacement, particularly where catabolism has occurred.
In order to supply these raw materials at an adequate rate, it is necessary for the flow of blood to the appropriate muscles to be sufficient. A major restriction to increase blood flow is elasticity of the blood vessels and cells. Although a healthy heart is capable of providing the necessary quantities of blood, and hence of nutrients, any restriction to the flow could cause dangerously high blood pressure.
Nitric oxide plays a signaling role in enlarging blood vessels to allow an increased blood flow when it is needed by the body. It can provide more blood to the stomach during digestion and to the muscles during exercise and recovery.
During hard exercise, nitric oxide can act as a pump that provides blood during exercise and also during recovery. It can therefore provide more rapid gains in lean mass, increased endurance and faster muscle recovery. The way it does this is to send a signal to the smooth muscles to relax; smooth muscles such as those found in veins and arteries, so resulting in vasodilation therefore allowing increased blood flow.
It is the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels, which uses the nitric oxide to provide the relaxation signal to the smooth muscles surrounding it. In fact, it is the effect of nitric oxide that enables those living at high altitudes to develop increased stamina and speed over those at lower altitudes, and find more world records seem to be broken during athletics meetings, such as Olympic Games, held at high altitudes. This is because the production of nitric acid is increased at higher altitudes with slightly lower oxygen levels. This is the same effect that is used by vasodilators such as amyl nitrite and Viagra that work by increasing nitric oxide levels in the smooth muscle wall of the blood vessels.
It should not be surprising therefore, that L-citrulline should work in a similar way, since it is intimately involved in the production of nitric oxide. Although this is now generally understood, what part does supplemental citrulline play in the body if it is a non-essential amino acid?
Supplemental L-citrulline is useful in supporting the detoxification of ammonia in the liver when supplies of ornithine carbamoyl transferase is naturally in short supply. This is the enzyme that catalyzes the reaction between ornithine and carbamoyl phosphate to form citrulline. Supplements can then help in the removal of ammonia from the blood, and also provide material for the continued production of nitric oxide support muscular activity and its recovery after exercise.
Ammonia itself is a by-product of intensive exercise, and without the urea cycle the body would rapidly become polluted. It is a very toxic product, and causes the death of thousands of people each year. This is generally in people who suffer liver and kidney disease, and the ammonia can be broken down and excreted.
Your brain cells are particularly sensitive to ammonia, and as levels increase the effect progressively ranges from drowsiness thru tremors to coma and eventual death. Any condition, therefore, that reduces the body's capability of metabolizing ammonia is potentially very serious, and any supplement that can help prevent this is valuable.
L-citrulline is believed to help in such situations, although any condition affecting the efficiency of the kidneys or liver and that can cause toxicity due to ammonia or any other toxic substance, should be referred to your physician. It is for its effect in increasing blood flow to provide sufficient raw material, for both the energy needed for high levels of exercise and for muscle recovery, that citrulline is predominantly used as a supplement.
L-Arginine An Amino Acid Essential Or Not You Be The Judge?
January 06, 2009 04:01 PM
L-Arginine is an amino acid that is one of 20 needed by the body for its existence. To some, it is not what is known as an essential amino acid, since it can be biosynthesized by the body, but arginine is termed a conditionally essential amino acid in that we must include some in our diet because our biochemistry does not produce all that our body needs, particularly during the growing years.
Amino acids are the building blocks of life, and are the units from which proteins and ultimately our DNA are built. In fact DNA contains the blueprints for every protein used by our bodies, including all the enzymes without which our biochemistry could not occur. When a supply of a particular protein is needed, the DNA template provides the sequence of amino acids needed to produce it.
Of the 20 amino acids we need, only 10 can be produced by our body: the other 10 must be included in our diet and are termed 'essential' because they are an essential part of our diet, just as vitamins and minerals are. Without an adequate supply of essential components, we cannot survive, and if the essential amino acids are depleted in our diet then the body will break down muscle tissue to release them.
Although L-arginine is termed a 'conditionally' essential amino acid, it is included by many among the 10 regarded as being essential. Hence, depending upon who you read, it can be either essential or non-essential. That is because, as inferred earlier, arginine is needed for growth and development, and there is insufficient in the diet to meet these needs. Therefore, while it is essential in cases where growth is still taking place, it is not in those where normal growth is complete.
Proteins are essential for all animal life, forming not only the enzymes, or biochemical catalysts, but also muscles and DNA among other bodily tissues. Protein is also a necessary part of our diet, and it is from protein, animal or vegetable, that we get the amino acids in our diet. L-arginine is one of these, being available from all meats and seafood’s, and vegetables rich in protein such as soy, seeds, nuts and grains.
So what does arginine do for us, quite a lot in fact, many of its functions being related to our health? Arginine plays an important role in the healing of wounds, especially bone, assisting the immune function, decreasing blood pressure and speeding up the repair time of tissue. However, it possesses other properties such as increasing muscle mass, helping to increase male fertility and improving the circulation.
It also helps to remove ammonia from the body, and is a precursor for the biosynthesis of nitric oxide (NO2). It is in the way that L-arginine works with the nitrogen stores of the body that we will focus on here, prior to touching on its other properties.
L-Arginine transports, stores and excretes nitrogen, and used biochemically to manufacture nitric oxide. This oxide of nitrogen plays a very important role in your body, and is produced in every cell of your body. Nitric oxide helps in the dilation of your blood vessels, allowing a reduction in blood pressure, better circulation and helping to prevent a mans man-hood dysfunction, all of which are due to its relaxing effect on smooth muscle contraction and the promotion of the increased blood flow necessary for men and their functions. It is also important to your immune system and nervous system.
It works in a similar way to the effect of nitroglycerine on the heart: this is converted in the body to nitric oxide which relaxes the blood vessels and so reduces the amount of work needed by the heart. The way in which L-arginine forms nitric oxide is by the action of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase.
The amino acid is also an important component of the Citric Acid or Kreb's cycle, where it reacts with ammonia which is a toxic by-product in the generation of energy in the mitochondria. Ammonia is converted to urea by L-arginine and excreted from the body. This is another way in which L-arginine is involved in the storage and use of nitrogen-containing compounds in your biochemistry.
It was mentioned earlier that arginine is an essential amino acid for children. Studies have indicated that it supports the release of the human growth hormone from the pituitary gland although the amount released through supplementation of the amino acid varies widely between individuals. The growth hormone maintains the production of proteins and muscle tissue in the body cells. This reduces as we age, and arginine becomes non-essential, the smaller amounts needed in our biochemistry being manufactured by the body.
The anabolic effect of the supplement is believed to increase the effectiveness of exercise intended to increase muscle bulk and reduce the percentage of body fat, and many take L-arginine as a supplement while undergoing such anabolic fitness and exercise programs. It is normally best to start with low supplement levels and work up due the potential side effects (diarrhea and nausea).
Arginine is an important component in the body's healing mechanisms for both tissue and bone, and studies have confirmed accelerated healing of wounds and fractures with arginine supplementation. Although the mechanism by which this occurs is not yet understood, there is evidence that it may be connected with the nitric oxide pathway and increased blood flow, and also with its effect on the immune system in reducing inflammation at the healing site.
Diabetics, however, should be careful with substances that promote the release of growth hormone, and children with incomplete bone growth should also use such agents only under medical supervision. With diabetics, their condition could be either exacerbated or improved, and those with herpes and some psychotic conditions should also be careful.
Nitrogenous compounds are essential to life, and L-arginine plays a significant role in the storage, use and secretion of them. Without it life would not be possible, although it is its visible uses, such as the effect of nitrous oxide on blood flow and of proteins on muscle metabolism, for which it is best known to those that use it, either as a supplement or as a remedy. Pure supplement form is available at your local or internet health food store.
November 10, 2008 10:30 AM
Guggul is a natural herb supplement that may help lower cholesterol, yet few in the Western hemisphere know much about it. Guggul is otherwise known as the Mukul myrrh tree, and is a plant of the Burseracae family with small red or pink flowers.
It is found across central Asia over to North Africa, although is very common in the northern areas of India where the climate is more semi-arid than equatorial. Guggul does not like a lot of water and can thrive in ground where the soil has few nutrients. Its Latin name is Commiphora wightii, and it grows about 12 feet high.
It has been predominantly used in the Ayurvedic medicine of ancient India, and like many such ancient remedies and treatments, is now used in modern medicine to treat specific conditions: conditions such as some forms of heart condition, where it has been found to be able to lower your blood cholesterol levels, weight loss and some forms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
However, it has been used so successfully over the years, particularly in India, which it is now in danger of extinction and is contained in the Red Data List of the World Conservation Union that lists endangered species. So what is so special about this plant that makes it so popular? To get the answer to that we have to go back a bit in its history, although not quite as far as the two or three thousand years that it is known to have been used in traditional Hindu medicine.
The active ingredient is found in the sap of the tree, and is used to fight against obesity and other diseases that can be caused by excess weight or cholesterol, such as arthritis, obesity and atherosclerosis. Until recently it has had very little support for its claims from conventional medicine. It was in the 1960s that an ancient Sanskrit text was found that recommended guggul as a treatment for high cholesterol levels. Since that discovery, research has focused on the plant's anti-cholesterol properties, and a great deal of evidence has been gathered supporting the claims of that ancient text.
So much so that the Indian government has approved the use of guggul for the treatment of high cholesterol levels, largely because it has been found very effective in reducing the levels of 'bad' LDL cholesterol in the blood while increasing the levels of the beneficial HDL cholesterol. Several trials have supported this, including one study involving 228 patients that showed the extract to be equally as effective as the anti-cholesterol drug clofibrate.
That is not all, and other studies included one in which a decrease in LDL cholesterol of almost 13% was measured in a double blind study involving 61 subjects, of which around half received a placebo. An average 12.7% reduction in LDL cholesterol, 12% in triglycerides and 11.7% in total cholesterol was experienced by the group given the guggul extract. Every 1% drop in total cholesterol is associated with a 2% decrease in the risk of heart disease.
Guggul reduces the levels of harmful cholesterol in your blood by converting it into bile. The plant extract contains substances given the name guggulsterones that block the activity of a protein that regulates the metabolism of cholesterol in your body known as FXR (the Farsenoid X Receptor). This protein can increase the risk of you contracting heart disease by preventing the liver from converting cholesterol into bile acids, so that the concentration of cholesterol in your blood continues to build up.
The problem with bile acids is that once they reach a certain concentration in your body, the FXR comes into play and stops more being produced. Guggulsterones prevent the FXR from doing this, and so helps the liver to destroy more cholesterol. There is a reason for the body not allowing too much bile acid to be generated, but for those with excess cholesterol, it is more beneficial for this regulation to be prevented, and more cholesterol to be destroyed by the liver.
It is the resin of the plant that is prized, being extracted from the bark in much the same way as rubber is tapped. It is also used in fragrances and perfumes in addition to its medicinal uses, and the dosage generally recommended is 1500 mg (1.5 grams) twice daily. However, it is not recommended for those suffering liver disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease or any form of diarrhea, and should not be taken by those on beta blockers.
It is not only for its cholesterol-lowering properties that guggul is prized, however. Another property it possesses is its ability to render blood platelets less sticky, and so reduce the risk of coronary disease, and prevent the formation of blood clots and thrombosis.
Another use it has found is in the field of weight loss, where it has been found effective in reducing the weight of obese adults. It does so by the activation of lipolytic enzymes and increased levels of triiodothyronine (T3), believed to be due to the formation of T3 from T4 (thyroxine) in the liver.
T3 increases the metabolic rate, and the rate of the breakdown of glycogen and gluconeogenesis: the biosynthesis of glucose. It also causes cholesterol to be broken down and increases the rate of lipolysis - the breakdown of fats stored in fat cells in the body. Studies have shown that those taking guggul lost up to 6 times the weight of a control group within 15 days, and the practice is going along with the theory.
Not only that, but when you are on a diet, your body is likely to respond by decreasing levels of triiodothyronine, and so reducing the rate at which fat burns. Hence, your diet does not help you top reduce weight as quickly as it could. Guggul, however, stimulates the production of T3, and so you are not only taking less fat into your body, but are also burning it up at an accelerated rate.
Other uses to which the resin has been put are based upon its anti-inflammatory properties. It has been found to be an effective treatment for some forms of arthritis and also in the treatment of acne. The active inflammatory ingredient is believed to be myrrhanol A, a polypodane-type triterpene, which would also explain the antioxidant effect of guggulipid on lipid peroxidation.
Guggul is a versatile plant, and a good supplement to take for anybody suffering increased lipid or cholesterol levels, and who wants to increase the weigh-loss effect of their diet. However, make sure that you purchase a supplement standardized on its guggulipid content.
October 11, 2008 10:26 AM
The non-essential amino acid glycine is needed to generate muscle tissue and also for the conversion of blood glucose into energy. It is referred to as being ‘non-essential’ because the body can manufacture its own glycine, and is therefore not an essential component of your diet. Other uses to which glycine is put by the body includes the maintenance of a healthy nervous system, and is necessary for the proper functioning of the digestive system.
Amino acids play three essential roles in the human body:
1. They are the building blocks of proteins: proteins comprise about half of the dry weight of the majority of your body cells, and without them there would be no life. They are produced using monomers known as amino acids, and there are about 20 different amino acids used to make the vast variety of proteins that make up the human body. Proteins are needed to form enzymes, the catalysts that permit the majority of chemical reactions within our bodies, and also genes, the building blocks of DNA.
2. More relevant here, amino acids play an important role in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) from ADP (adenosine diphosphate) by phosphorylation with creatine phosphate. The more creatine phosphate available, the more ATP can be produced. Since ATP is the molecule responsible for the generation of energy, then the more ATP available the more energy is generated. Although creatine is available from many food sources, it is destroyed by cooking, and over half of what you use is made from the three amino acids, glycine, arginine and methionine. The energy produced in this way is very short-lived, and last only a few seconds - more on that later.
3. Glycine is heavily involved in the production of collagen, which is the substance that maintains the flexibility of your skin and other connective tissues while still maintaining their strength and firmness. Without glycine your skin would become slack due to the degrading effect of sunlight, free radicals and oxidation.
The non essential amino acid, glycine, is believed to offer other benefits to the human body, but it is the second of those above, the production of ATP, which interests us here. ATP is an extremely important nanomolecule, second in importance to the body only to DNA, and possibly also RNA since the two are linked. RNA makes copies of your DNA structure for use in cell division and growth.
When a cell expends energy for whatever reason, such as when I am typing this, or when your heart beats, or even when your liver synthesizes a protein, one of the phosphate groups is removed from the adenosine triphosphate molecule, and converts it to adenosine diphosphate (ADP). The ATP is then said to be 'spent', just as your energy is spent when you are tired and can exercise no more.
The ADP is then immediately reconverted to ATP in the mitochondria, a part of every cell in your body. A cell can contain hundreds, or even thousands, of mitochondria, the number depending upon that particular cell's need for energy. Hence, cells in your muscles, or in your liver where most of the body's chemistry takes place, contain thousands of mitochondria whereas those in your scalp contain a lot less. Once changed to ATP, a phosphate is again lost when energy is expended, and so the cycle continues.
Glucose is needed allow the ADP to be converted to ATP, hence the need for sugars, or the carbohydrates from which they are manufactured in your body. Each cell can contain up to a billion molecules of ATP, although the couch potatoes among you probably have a lot less! Your store of ATP molecules last about 2 to 5 seconds before being changed to ADP although more rapidly for athletes that expend a lot of energy. Then the energy stored in the form of glycogen in the liver kicks in for another 4 - 6 seconds.
Additionally, you cannot expend more energy that the (eventual) sugars that you take in your diet, which can be in the form of ordinary 'sugar' (sucrose), fruit (fructose), glucose, carbohydrates that are metabolized into sugars, or any other member of the sugar family (e.g. lactose, maltose, etc.).
Glycine is one of what are called glucogenic amino acids, which refers to their ability to provide glucose to the blood. Because it helps to maintain proper blood glucose levels, it is often prescribed for conditions that are caused by low glucose levels, such as hypoglycemia that shows symptoms of fatigue and tiredness, and also anemia and what is known as CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome).
The one activity of the human body, in fact that of any mammal, for which ATP is essential, is the heartbeat. Without that no mammal could survive, or any other creature that relies on a circulation system for life. The only reason you heart has to beat is to pump your blood around your body, and it is your blood that contains the oxygen and nutrients needed to sustain life. Your cardiovascular health relies on lots of ATP being available to power each and every heartbeat.
Analysis of the heart during the final stages of heart failure has revealed that there is a general decrease in the myocardial arginine: glycine amidinotraferase (AGAT) gene expression, which is indicative of the necessity of this enzyme for proper heart function. The enzyme is responsible for the first stage in the biosynthesis of creatine from glycine.
Creatine is well known to athletes, and while it is available naturally from some food sources, it can be destroyed during cooking, and at least 50% of the creatine needed by the body is produced in the liver, pancreas and kidneys. It is creatine phosphate that is broken down into creatine and phosphate, the latter of which is used by the mitochondria to regenerate ATP from ADP.
The study carried out on the reduced AGAT levels found in heart failure patients indicates the importance of glycine to heart health. Without a good supply of glycine, there will insufficient creatine produced biochemically to generate the phosphate needed to for the ATP to produce the energy required to keep the heart pumping with the required strength. The energy provided by the mitochondria is used locally by the cells in which it is produced, and within a few seconds of that production. As explained earlier, ATP stores are used up within 2 - 5 seconds, and glycogen stores within another 4 - 6 seconds.
That is why sprinters cannot keep running at maximum speed for more than around 10 seconds or so, because the immediate availability of glycine, and hence creatine, are insufficient to last longer than that. That is one reason why they have to finish those 100 meters as fast as possible, because otherwise they would run out of energy. Other than trying to win, of course!
However, when it comes to the heart, ATP stores are essential, and the cells in your heart require a constant supply of ATP from creatine, which itself depends upon your intake or biosynthesis of glycine. Since dietary sources are insufficient to meet all your needs, and destroyed by cooking, a glycine supplement is the only way to ensure a sufficient intake. You cannot undernourish your heart and remain healthy.
ATP biosynthesis is essential if that of glycine theoretically is not, but the fact that 50% of your glycine requirement has to be produced by your body and the other 50% is sensitive to heat during cooking, a supplement of glycine could be essential to many people.
October 02, 2008 09:36 AM
Cartilage has several roles to play in your body, an example of which is to form curved body parts that would otherwise be unsupported, such as the external contours of your ears or a large part of your nose. Without cartilage you ears and nose would flop around a lot, and it is also contained in the spine, to prevent your discs from grinding against each other.
However, the part that we are interested in is as a shock absorber between the bones of your joints. It allows bones to slide over one another without damage, either through friction or shock, and is also nature’s shock absorber, helping to support your weight while you are active. Thus, your cartilage protects from impact damage when you are running or jumping down from a height. This type of cartilage, known as articular cartilage, is bathed in a lubricating fluid known as synovial fluid, which introduces its own problems when your cartilage becomes damaged.
This damage can occur in several ways: as the result of a fall, for example, or direct contact with the joint when playing a physical contact sport such as football or soccer. It can also become damaged through wear and tear over a period of time, such with long distance runners or soccer players (again), and is also associated with age. Many years of continual use, especially amongst those with active rather than sedentary occupations, eventually lead to wear and damage.
Problems with the joint structure itself, known as osteoarthritis, can also damage the cartilage, as can being overweight for a lengthy period. You can also experience cartilage damage if you are bedridden or other wise immobile for long periods, because the cartilage needs regular movement to function correctly. This is connected with the blood supply, which will be discussed shortly.
Cartilage is constructed of cells known as chondrocytes that generate a fibrous matrix known as collagen, a mixture of amino acids known as elastin that allows the cartilage to return to its original shape after deformation, and non-collagenous matrix tissue containing proteins, water and proteoglycans that contain sulfated glycosaminoglycan chains. That last mixture is often referred to as ‘ground substance.’
One of the problems with cartilage is its lack of a direct blood supply, and it relies on the compression and decompression of the articular cartilage, or on the flexing of elastic cartilage, to create a pumping action that drives blood to the chondrocytes. This is why inactivity can cause cartilage damage, due to a lack of blood supply, and why it is repaired more slowly than other body components.
Once an injury or wear and tear damages a joint, the body’s natural defense, the immune system, is activated, and the major part of that involved in cartilage damage is the inflammatory response. The joint becomes inflamed, the quantity of synovial fluid is increased to provide more protection and swells the joint, and enzymes (hyaluronidase) are produced which, although part of the natural defense system, actually degrade the synovial fluid and the cartilage.
This increases the amount of inflammation and the process becomes self-perpetuating, leading to the condition known as degenerative joint disease (DJD) because the body is unable to produce enough glucosamine to generate the proteoglycan needed for repair.
This is where glucosamine sulfate enters the scene. Glucosamine is a precursor for glycosaminoglycans (GAG), which as mentioned as above are components of proteoglycans in the cartilage matrix ground tissue. It has been shown to stimulate the biosynthesis of proteoglycan, and analysis has shown its presence within articular cartilage after administering it orally to patients with cartilage disease. It therefore makes its way to the right place.
Glucosamine is administered in the form of glucosamine sulfate, the highly electrically charged sulfate groups believed to aid in the compression properties of cartilage. It is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, although only about a quarter of the oral dose is eventually available to the body, and high concentrations accumulate in the liver, kidneys and in articular cartilage where it is used in the biosynthesis of GAG.
When in solution, glucosamine sulfate separates into ions: sulfate and glucosamine. Glucosamine ions are involved in the synthesis of GAG, that then combine with proteins to form proteoglycans, a component of the non-collagenous matrix of the cartilage. Although glucosamine is the major active component, there is evidence that the sulfate group contributes the stability of the matrix of the connective tissue since the uptake of sulfate ions increases with the amount of glucosamine sulfate used.
Another consideration here is that sulfate is an important part of proteoglycans, and glucosamine sulfate promotes not only the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans, but also of proteoglycans in general. Glucosamine is also active in regenerating the lubricating properties of the synovial fluid, and in hindering the activity of hyaluronidase, the enzyme that breaks down the hyaluronic acid in the synovial fluid.
Some people find that glucosamine, taken either alone or in conjunction with chondroitin sulfate and/or methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM), is more effective than the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to reduce inflammation (e.g. Aspirin and Ibuprofen) and without the side effects of these substances. MSM contains dietary sulfur, which is necessary for cell structure and healthy cell repair. Methyl sulfone methane is know to be beneficial for painful conditions such as arthritis, and also improves the blood circulation. It might also play a part in helping glucosamine sulfate get to the site of the cartilage damage.
Glucosamine is a large molecule, however, and finds it difficult to make its way to the area around the joint due to the lack of a direct blood supply. It is therefore taken in relatively large doses to ensure that sufficient amounts get to where it is needed. Many people insist that glucosamine sulfate is very effective in reducing, or even eliminating, their pain, and it is finding increasing popularity in the treatment of arthritis and other conditions involving cartilage damage.
September 01, 2008 01:04 PM
Garlic is a member of the lily family, related to onions and chives, and offers many health benefits other than deterring vampires. There is now ample scientific evidence and proof of its beneficial effect on both a healthy immune system and the circulatory system.
The active ingredients in garlic are thiosulfinates, of which the predominant one is allicin, sulfoxides such as alliin and dithiins, of which ajoene is the most widely researched. These compounds are not only responsible for the pungent odor of garlic, but also for its benefits to your health. Among the other components of garlic are selenium, manganese and vitamins B6 and C.
Before considering the other effects of garlic on your health, we shall first consider how it benefits the immune system. The immune system is an essential part of human biology, and protects your body from invasion by pathogenic organisms. Without the immune system your body would rapidly be overcome by bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and other foreign bodies, and your body would rapidly fail to function.
The immune system consists of several components that can act in concert to protect you from these foreign invaders. It is too large a subject to be discusses in this article, although its major components are the thymus, the spleen, the lymphatic system, bone marrow, antibodies, and white blood cells of various types. Without it your body would rapidly be broken down to nothing, and would revert to a skeleton in a few weeks.
It is your immune system that causes inflammation, fevers, boils and pus. These are all examples of the immune system at work to protect your body, and even a fever is the immune system raising your body temperature to one that is unfavorable to invaders. Arthritis and hay fever are other examples of how your immune system reacts to invaders, in one case mistaking damaged joint tissue as being foreign and responding by causing inflammation to protect the joint, and in the other a reaction to invading bodies such as pollen.
So what does garlic do to help your immune system? Let's first have a look at the inflammatory reaction of the immune system, a prime example of which is rheumatoid arthritis. The inflammation is caused by compounds known as prostaglandins and thromboxanes, the biosynthesis in your body of which requires the enzymes lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase (LOX and COX). If these enzymes can be inhibited, then the inflammatory response can be modulated, and LOX and COX inhibition is one of the studies currently being carried out into the treatment of some forms of cancers.
However, where garlic comes in here is that two effective non-reversible inhibitors of LOX and COX are the chemicals Di(1-propenyl) sulfide and ajoene, and both of these are components of garlic. Garlic can therefore be used, not to stop the inflammatory response altogether since it is an essential part of the immune system for certain infections, but to modulate it and protect you from the more severe effects of conditions such as arthritis - both osteo and rheumatoid - and asthma, which is also an immune response.
Allicin has been shown to work with vitamin C to kill certain types of bacteria and viruses, and can help the immune system to protect you from colds and flu, Candida and some gastroenteric viruses. It can also be effective against some of the more powerful pathogens such as tuberculosis. It should be stressed that garlic will not cure these conditions, but help the immune system to deal with them. In fact with respect to the common cold, a study at Munich University has shown that garlic significantly reduces the activity of kappa-B, which is a nuclear transcription factor that mediates the inflammatory response. In other words, the cold symptoms are greatly reduced.
This is significant, since increased kappa-B levels can be triggered off by any pathogen that causes an inflammatory response by the immune system (e.g. infection, allergens, physical trauma). The study showed that unfertilized garlic provided a reduction of 25% in kappa-B activity, while garlic fertilized with sulfur reduced it by 41%.
There have been other studies carried out that demonstrated that Helicobacter pylori, the organism responsible for gastritis and peptic ulcers, was less active in those that took a regular amount of garlic in their diet. This was shown by measuring the antibody concentration, and while H.pylori was found in both sets (with and without garlic in the diet), the antibody count in the garlic-eating set was much lower indicating a significantly lower population of the bacterium.
Another unexpected result was that a group taking both cooked and uncooked garlic had a lower antibody count than those taking either cooked or uncooked. This appears to indicate that cooking changes the chemical nature of garlic, so that both forms work together to provide a more potent effect that cooked and uncooked separately.
What has also been established is that odorless garlic has less of an effect on the immune system that natural garlic, so while the odorless type is more socially acceptable, it is not so good at supporting your immune system. The allicin levels in odorless garlic are very much lower than in the natural bulb.
Garlic has also been found to be able to help with certain types of cancer. Two servings weekly have been found effective in protecting from colon cancer. Allicin has been found to protect colon cells from the toxic effect of various chemicals, and also reduce the growth rate of any cancerous cells that develop. People in Southern Europe consuming large quantities of garlic have been shown to be 39% less liable to contract cancer of the mouth and pharynx, and 57% less liable to contract cancer of the esophagus. It also had an effect on other cancers, including breast and ovarian cancer. However, the effect of onions on such cancers is even greater.
Most people are aware of the cardiovascular benefits of garlic, and it can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels and serum triglyceride levels, thus protecting against the harmful condition of atherosclerosis and also of diabetic heart disease. Reduced atherosclerosis means a reduced chance of heart attacks or strokes. It also appears to possess antioxidant properties.
There is no doubt that garlic helps to promote a healthy immune system, although the odorless form appear to be less effective in this respect as natural garlic, and there is evidence that a diet containing uncooked and cooked garlic can be more effective than either of these alone.
August 28, 2008 09:33 AM
Garcinia Cambogia is found naturally in India and parts of Asia, and also on the Pacific coast of South and Central America all the way from Peru up to Mexico, and likes a humid forested environment. Also known as Brindall berries, garcinia is believed to act as an appetite suppressant and allows you to lose weight by diminishing your desire for food.
The Malabar tamarind, as it is also known, is about the size of an orange resembling a small pumpkin, and an extract from the fruit and rind is used in several weight loss products. The health risks presented by synthetic diet pills render a natural product extremely attractive were it to be effective. So can Garcia curb your appetite? What is the scientific evidence for it, and what biochemical route would it take?
Although tests on animals have been very positive, human results have been inconsistent. In some double blind tests using a placebo, weight loss was up to three times that of the control, but in others there was no apparent difference between those taking garcinia, and those given a placebo. However, doubts have been raised of the validity of some of the negative tests, so what does science tell us?
The active ingredient in the cambogia extract is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is a powerful inhibitor of ATP citrate lyase, an enzyme that catalyzes the reaction between citrate and Coenzyme A to Acetyl CoA and oxaloacetate. Since the acetyl CoA is necessary in the synthesis of fatty acids and lipogenesis (the conversion of glucose to fatty acids), then anything that inhibits the biosynthesis of acetyl CoA must help to reduce the amount of fat stored in your body.
By inhibiting this reaction, that occurs outside the mitochondria so is not a direct part of the Citric Acid Cycle, HCA should theoretically suppress the formation of fats from carbohydrates, reduce food intake and thereby induce weight loss. But that is not the only mechanism.
A study at Georgetown University in Washington found that after 8 weeks of taking the garcinia extract, there was a 5.4% reduction in body weight and body mass index, and a significant reduction in low density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides with an associated rise in high density lipoproteins (HDL). This is good news for those suffering from high cholesterol levels, since the LDL lipoproteins are those that carry cholesterol to the major blood vessels, and which when oxidized by free radicals deposit fatty plaques on the artery walls. These plaques constrict the arteries and the resultant atherosclerosis can lead to cardiac problems and strokes. HDL lipoproteins carry cholesterol back to the liver for destruction, and is known popularly as ‘good cholesterol’.
The studies also indicated modifications to certain indicators of the status of fat deposits in the body and of appetite modifiers in the brain. In this respect they found 38% decreases in serum leptin and increases in serotonin levels of 44%, and the excretion of fat metabolites in the urine increased from between 32% and 104%.
These are significant findings, and further research has indicated that HCA helps to suppress appetite. Serum leptin is an indicator of the level of fat stores in the body, and as the leptin levels in the blood reduces, the hypothalamus is given an instruction to increase the appetite so as to increase the fat levels again. However, it is believed that HCA possesses leptin-like properties, and this signal is either not generated or is modulated.
The increase in serotonin has the same effect. It is known that serotonin controls the appetite, although the exact mechanism has not yet been established. What is known is that serotonin activates certain neurons and melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4R) in the brain, that not only curb appetite but also block the effect of other neurons that would normally increase appetite by blocking the effect of MC4Rs.
This is how the banned anti-obesity and serotonin inciting drug Fen-Phen operated, and it appears that the hydroxycitric acid in garcinia cambogia extract acts in a similar, but safer, way. The problem with drugs such as Feb-Phen was that they created cardiac problems which could be dangerous to obese people whose hearts might have been weakened.
However, now that the biological pathway by which serotonin controls weight is believed to be known, if not fully understood, the way is becoming clearer as to how safer weight loss pills, acting through appetite suppression, might be developed. It also provides a valid scientific explanation for the effect of garcinia cambogia extract which might in itself prove to be that safer way.
The biochemistry supports the evidence of its effect on those wanting to lose weight, and also bolsters the claims that those tests and trials found to be negative were in some way flawed. Until the full chemical pathway is understood, the factors that can lead to flawed tests are unknown, although one could be the use of excessive fiber in some trials that could reduce the effect of the extract.
One of the effects of HCA is to limit the ability of your body to convert carbohydrates into fat (the Acetyl CoA inhibition mentioned above). That, combined with suppression of your appetite and a higher rate of thermogenesis, prevents the body from storing excess carbohydrates as fat. Instead you will have increased energy levels, so you should exercise to use this up while taking garcinia extract. For this reason it is popular with athletes and bodybuilders seeking an energy source that has not yet been banned from sport.
Although diet pills based on the same principle had side-effects and could make the user feel on edge, there are none known with garcinia. However, it is possible to reduce the absorption of some essential nutrients due to appetite suppression, so do not exceed the recommended dose. An excessive amount can also led to gastric discomfort, but none of these effects have been noted when the recommended doses have been adhered to.
However, if you are diabetic, pregnant or a nursing mother, you should consult with your physician or health professional before taking the extract. Garcinia Cambogia presents no specific risk to such people, and this warning should be given for all non-prescriptive treatments that your physician might be unaware of you taking.
Can the Fatty Acid CLA Help me Lose Weight ?
July 14, 2008 03:28 PM
CLA is conjugated linoleic acid, a compound known as a trans fatty acid due to its stereochemistry, and while trans fatty acids are generally regarded as harmful, CLA is not because it is conjugated. This means that it has alternate single and double bonds in the backbone carbon chain, and the overall energy of the molecule is therefore reduced.
Linoleic acid itself is one of the omega-6 fatty acids, the 6 referring to the double bond at the sixth carbon from the omega and of the carbon backbone chain. It is believed to be the cause of heart disease and obesity due to its increasing use in the diet at the expense of omega-3 fatty acids. When the molecule is conjugated, however, the fatty acid has different chemical properties to the standard isomer, and natural CLA is mainly found in cattle products, such as beef and dairy products.
Conjugated linoleic acid is present in cattle because it is formed when linoleic acid is converted to oleic acid by rumen bacteria, that are responsible for the microbial fermentation of the feed of ruminant animals such as sheep and cattle. When oleic acid is formed, so too is CLA. However, the form used in supplements is manufactured from vegetable oils, and therefore suitable for use by vegetarians. The usual vegetable oils used are safflower oil and sunflower oil.
It is believed to possess several beneficial properties, including antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, but it is for its ability to reduce body fat that it is best known to most people. A growing amount of information is being collected on the use of CLA as a supplement in the weight loss industry, although there are as yet no definitive mechanisms that explain its action. However, recent studies have indicated it possess properties that can help to reduce the levels of low density lipoproteins in the blood, and reduce the possibility of atherosclerosis due to LDL oxidation by free radicals.
It is also theorized that CLA in some way regulates the prostaglandin biosynthesis that controls the level of hormones in the body that can regulate growth. An increase in growth hormones is one way in which athletes promote an increase in muscle bulk, while reducing their fatty tissue mass. CLA is also purported to increase thermogenesis, and so promote the loss of body fat and overall weight.
Although most studies on the effect of conjugated linoleic acid in reducing body weight have been carried out on animals, recent animal studies have indicated that might not so much reduce weight, as to increase muscle bulk while reducing that of body fat. The end result, therefore, is not a loss of weight, but a leaner body that has more muscle and less fat. All it needs is the results on animals to be transferred to humans, and this, of course, is frequently the case. However, initial studies on the use of CLA in the human diet have been very positive, so the signs are good.
Most scientific progress in human biochemistry has been obtained by virtue of prior studies on animals. These studies, of course, have been beneficial to the animals, making them leaner and much fitter than they otherwise would have been. It is believed that the same will be true of humans taking CLA as a supplement. In fact, recent studies are split about 50/50 with regard to the effects on humans.
While some studies have shown no benefit, about an equal number have shown a positive benefit in the reduction in the mass of fat in the body. Some of the negative studies may have been flawed in measuring total body weight, and not the relative amounts of muscle and fat, and also basing their results on people already with a low level of fat in their body. In that respect, then, the results look very favorable, and taking CLA as a supplement is likely to help you to reduce fat and increase muscle, if not altogether lose total body weight. However, is that not the end result that most people want? They might not want to be lighter in weight, just to have more muscle mass and less fat tissue.
In a study shown at a 2002 Experimental Biology meeting, it was shown that is was possible to substantially reduce body fat mass by taking CLA alone, and when it was taken in association with guarana, both the size and the number of fats cells in the body were reduced by 50%. However it has also been shown that CLA can be oxidized by free radicals shortly after ingestion, and that sesame lignans help to prevent this. Since sesame lignans can also be used in conjunction with CLA to reduce fat by increasing the level of fatty acid oxidation in the liver, than the benefit of CLA seems obvious.
The antioxidant effect of CLA is one possible explanation for its anti-cancer properties, though there are others. Its antioxidant properties also have an anti-catabolic effect, in that it can help to prevent the wastage of muscle tissue. The FDA has published studies that attest to these anti-cancer properties. Diabetics, however, should consult with their physician before taking CLA as a supplement, since there is a body of thought that it reduces sensitivity to insulin. Others believe the opposite, so more studies might be needed in this aspect of the substance before it can be said to be safe for use by diabetics.
Over recent years, the American diet has increased significantly in its content of the undesirable linoleic acid, due to its ubiquitous presence in margarines, and has reduced in CLA due to modern farming methods. Cattle feeding techniques have resulting in a reduction of CLA in meat products and milk, although eggs are still a rich source, and the CLA in eggs can resist temperatures used in normal cooking methods such as frying, boiling, etc.
It is this CLA deficiency in the diet that has been proposed as one of the reasons for the current obesity problem in the USA. The European diet contains more beneficial fatty acids in general than the American diet.
However, there is an increasing body of evidence being accumulated that collectively that suggests almost unequivocally that CLA can help you lose body fat. Unless you are diabetic, there are few if any contra-indications and an increasing number of people are finding it effective not only to lose body fat, but to replace it with hard lean muscle.
May 15, 2008 01:21 PM
Copper is an essential trace mineral necessary for life, and it is necessary for the proper function of certain enzymes that allow certain biochemical functions of the body to take place. Without copper neither plant nor animal life would be possible.
Dietary sources include nuts, grains, seeds, beans and other vegetable protein sources. Although it is also obtained from animal sources, these tend to be rich in zinc, and for reasons that will be discussed shortly, the presence of zinc can deplete copper absorption. Other common sources are copper cooking utensils and drinking water from copper pipes. After digestion, copper is absorbed into the body through the stomach and the small intestine. It is also possible for copper to be absorbed through the skin from copper bracelets.
Once absorbed, copper is bound to albumin and taken by the blood to the liver, where it is bound to a plasma protein known as ceruloplasmin. Among the enzymes with which copper is associated as a ‘helper’ are Cytochrome C oxidase, used in the conversion of glucose to energy, Dopamine hydroxylase, an essential component in the biochemical production of adrenaline, and superoxidase dismutase, that protects against the oxidative damage of cell tissue. Of particular benefit are its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and its role in energy production. Because of its antioxidant effect, copper could well play a very important role in protecting against atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease, the ravaging effects of free radicals on body cells and also certain forms of cancer.
Copper is also important in electron transport, and is responsible for the blue coloration of the blood of most molluscs and many arthropods. This is because rather than hemoglobin, these animals use the copper-based hemocyanin for oxygen transport in the blood. Rather than the iron-containing hemoglobin making the blood of these creatures red as it is with mammals, theirs is blue due to the hemocyanin. Copper salts are generally green and blue, as are the blue copper proteins plastocyanin and azurin.
So how is copper used by the body? It is, after all, fairly toxic, as little as 30 grams being fatal to humans, bringing on similar symptoms to those of arsenic poisoning. It is in fact the reason for its toxicity that also renders it so useful to the body. The toxicity is largely due to the ability of copper to accept and donate electrons as it changes between oxidation states. This results in the generation of very reactive radicals that can cause severe oxidative stress. The complete reason for its toxicity has yet to be determined, but the stress caused to body cells by free radical oxidation is a very serious condition.
It is this rapid change in its oxidation state that is valuable to the enzymes with which it is associated. The ceruloplasmin is responsible for most of the transport of bivalent copper around the body, in the tissues of which it helps to form the bivalent copper enzymes previously mentioned, such as Cytochrome C oxidase and Lysyl oxidase. In doing so the copper is converted to the monovalent state.
It also helps to aid in the production of the strong antioxidant Superoxide dismutase (SOD). What this enzyme does is to catalyze the formation of oxygen and hydrogen peroxide by the dismutation of superoxide, a negative ion consisting of two oxygen atoms and a free electron, and hence a very powerful free radical. Dismutation is the simultaneous oxidation and reduction of the species, rendering the free radical relatively harmless. This type of action on free radicals is a very powerful one, and essential in the body’s fight against such free radical species that are so dangerous to animal cells.
SOD exists in more than one form, and can also contain zinc, manganese and nickel in addition to copper. The internal fluid (cytosol) of practically all eukaryotic cells (cells containing a nucleus) contain a form of Superoxide dismutase dependent on copper and zinc, while most mitochondria contain an SOD with manganese.
Another of the important uses that your body can find for copper lies in the production of hemoglobin. This is because copper is needed for the storage and release of iron to produce hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells. It is believed that ceruloplasmin is involved in the catalytic formation of ferric iron by the oxidation of ferrous iron, so allowing the iron to be attached to a protein that transfers it round the body to enable its use in the biosynthesis of various ferrous compounds, especially of hemoglobin.
Copper bracelets are commonly worn by arthritis sufferers, and there is a scientific explanation for that. As previously inferred, it is believed to be possible to absorb copper through the skin and copper is known to be involved in the formation of collagen and is a commonly used treatment for arthritis and osteoporosis. Part of its effect on arthritis is likely due to the antioxidant effect of the SOD that helps to reduce the inflammation at arthritis sites.
Although a deficiency in copper can lead to serious health problems, an excess is also harmful. Potential conditions include neurological problems, liver damage and bone abnormalities, although deficiency is far more common because of the competition between copper and zinc. Zinc is a copper antagonist, as is iron and manganese, and copper imbalances can be moderated by the use of these as supplements.
The symptoms of a copper deficiency include fatigue, hair loss, stunted growth, anorexia and a host of other conditions. Luckily, however, a deficiency is rare and most people receive a sufficient amount of copper in their diet. Supplements are available to ensure an adequate intake.
There is still much to be learned about the interaction between copper and enzymes, and there is also a great deal still to be learned of its role in human metabolism and biochemistry than is currently known. However, sufficient is known already for us to be certain that copper is a very important trace element and that we should be certain that our intake is sufficient, given that zinc iron and manganese compete to prevent copper being absorbed by the body.
Biotin For Better Health!
April 14, 2008 12:42 PM
Biotin is one of the B vitamins, known as vitamin B7 and also, for some reason, vitamin H. If you have a deficiency of this vitamin you will know about it because it makes you bald. So keep up your vitamin B7 intake girls!
However, this should not be difficult since it is contained in cooked egg white (not raw), tomatoes, chard, onions, cabbage, strawberries, walnuts, halibut, carrots, liver, brewers yeast and cucumber to name but a few of the many sources. It makes sense that it has so many sources because biotin is essential for many of the biochemical reactions that take place continuously in your body.
It is contained in raw eggs, but is bound too tightly to the protein to be available to your body. It has to be cooked before the bond is broken sufficiently to render it bioavailable.
Included in these is the all-important Krebs cycle that releases energy from food. It is necessary for the growth of your body cells, for the metabolism of the fats you consume and for the biosynthesis of the fatty acids that are eventually converted to proteins and then the DNA that is essential for life. In other words, without biotin we would not be here.
However, do not get overly worried about the necessity of biotin in your diet, since the same applies to all of the other vitamins you consume. That is what vitamins are chemicals that have been identified ages ago as being essential to life. Without vitamins we could not survive which is why the vitamin supplement industry is so strong and healthy.
So, what does biotin do specifically, other than being necessary for some of the essential biochemical processes in your body? These tend to look after themselves, so what are the physical attributes that biotin provides for you? The name should give you a clue. In fact it should be familiar since it is one of the more commonly mentioned ingredients of hair care products: “Biotin for Healthy Hair” - ring a bell?
Although a deficiency of biotin is rare with a healthy balanced diet, it can happen, and when it does your first sign might be your skin drying out, your cholesterol levels will increase, you will feel continually tired and depressed with a poor appetite and you will be nauseous. You will also frequently vomit, which puts the icing on the cake of a set of very undesirable symptoms. It is important, then, that you do not suffer from a deficiency of biotin, vitamin B7 or vitamin H, whatever you want to call it, and is why many people take a supplement just to make sure.
This is normally taken as part of a general B complex supplement or even a general multivitamin supplement, since almost everybody has no idea what this vitamin is and why it is so necessary for your continued health. So let's have a look at why biotin is so important, with specific reference to your hair, skin and nails. However, we shall also examine its deeper biochemical uses and explain why it is such an essential vitamin.
With regard to biotin supplements in hair preparations, it benefit’s by helping one grow thicker hair, symptoms of a deficiency is brittle hair. If you are deficient, you will lose your eyelashes and eyebrows in addition to your hair, depending on the severity of your deficiency. As stated, however, that is particularly rare. The biotin content of shampoos is likely useless since it is not absorbed through the skin.
What it does in the diet, however, is to thicken the nails and also the hair fiber giving it a fuller appearance, so that you appear to have more hair than you actually have. It also increases the flexibility of the hair, skin and nails rendering them less brittle and less liable to breaking and scaling. However, as previously stated if you eat a good balanced diet you should avoid these problems, although a vitamin B complex supplement will do the job just as well.
So what else does vitamin B7 do for you? Lots in fact, so let's have a look at the more important of them starting with the function of your body cells in the production of energy. Biotin takes part in the Citric Acid Cycle, otherwise known as the Krebs Cycle, whereby energy is created by the conversion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins into carbon dioxide and water. It is one of the essential metabolic pathways of life, and biotin is needed to recharge the Krebs cycle with metabolites when mitochondria become deficient in these essential components.
Without them you would begin to feel tired and lack energy, and this would get increasingly worse without a biotin supplement. It is amazing that your energy is created in the mitochondria which are a part of the tiny cells that make up the tissue of your body, and equally amazing that it depends upon, among other substances, a vitamin of which very few people are even aware of.
In spite of any other effect biotin has on your body, including providing healthy hair, skin and nails, its primary role in your body is in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates into a form that can be used by your body for the production of energy. Biochemically, it functions as a coenzyme, which is a molecule needed to help an enzyme do its work. In fact an alternative name give to biotin is Coenzyme R.
It helps in the biochemical conversion of sugars to energy, and is a component of enzymes such as pyruvate carboxylase. That enzyme is protein contained within the mitochondria that contains a biotin prosthetic group, without which it could not function to help the body to generate energy during exercise. Suffice it to say that without biotin you would find it difficult to generate energy, especially when the demand for it is at its highest.
Biotin's biochemical role is not restricted to energy production however, and it is involved in the biochemical synthesis of amino acids and also of glucose from other sugars. Glucose is the main blood sugar that is manufactured in the body from the other saccharides that you eat, such as fructose.
A reasonable level of supplementation to ensure that you do not suffer from a deficiency is around 100 micrograms daily, although up to 5 milligrams (5000 mcg) are safe for the treatment of brittle nails or hair loss. Much depends on age and it is best taken as a vitamin B complex supplement, since the B vitamins appear to give best results as a team!
So, while you can have healthy hair, skin and nails with biotin, without it you will have no energy and likely have no need for your hair, skin and nails!
Boost digestion with Bifidus Longum and Acidophilus Probiotics
March 21, 2008 12:19 PM
Prior to discussing how you can boost digestion with bifidus longum probiotics, let's first have a look at probiotics in general and why they are so beneficial to us.
Probiotics are also known as microflora, and are beneficial organisms that live in your digestive tract. Not all microorganisms are bad news, and many are essential for good health. Included in these organisms are various types of bacteria and yeasts, each of which has a specific part to play in the proper functioning of your body. Because of this they are found in foods all over the world, including yoghurt and fermented vegetables such as German sauerkraut and Korean kimchi.
Among their major benefits to health are that they help to support your immune system, they aid the digestion and absorption of food, they provide increased energy by improving the metabolic conversion of blood glucose to energy, and they can also help to delay aging. However, you should be aware that not all probiotics are the same, and when used properly some can have the same effect as antibiotics.
They are used to cure many digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea, and can also help to relieve heartburn and acid reflux. In fact your lower intestine should contain a minimum of 85% friendly bacteria, and 15% at most of unfriendly bacteria that can cause disease if they over-colonize your colon. It might surprise you to learn that you have around twenty times more bacteria in your body than body cells.
One of the best known of the probiotics are members of the lactobacillus family that are contained in yoghurt and curds and whey, so Little Miss Muffet had the right idea. However, you might not have the right idea in eating commercial yoghurt because, while raw yoghurt does contain these helpful bacteria, the type that you buy in pots in the supermarkets has likely been pasteurized - a process that kills off the bacteria. Unless the product has been seeded with live bacteria after pasteurization, then there will likely be none in your yoghurt! Make your own!
So what are the probiotics that do you most good, and in what form should you consume them? The common friendly bacteria are the already mentioned lactobaccilus, and then lactococcus, streptococcus thermophilus, enterococcus, bifidobacterium and others. Bacteria are easily killed off by the acidic conditions in your stomach, and since they must be taken live they should be consumed in a form that can resist the stomach acid.
There are many ways in which they benefit you, the main ones that are currently understood being:
Lactic acid production: the presence of lactic acid in the gut prevents stops or slows the growth of harmful bacteria by increasing the acidity. Some probiotics, known as lactic acid bacteria (LAB) can do this. Most bacteria do not like acidic conditions.
Supporting the immune system: LAB bacteria have been shown to increase the production of cytokines that stimulate the activity of the macrophages that attack foreign viruses and pathogenic bacteria. The LAB also promotes the formation of NK-cells (natural killer cells) that destroy cells that have been infected by viruses.
Adhesion site blockage: bacteria attach themselves to your intestinal walls at specific adhesion sites. Friendly bacteria can colonize these sites and so prevent the pathogens from adhering.
Effect on the Intestinal wall: the intestinal wall has a natural mucous barrier that helps to prevent the passage of allergens and pathogens into the bloodstream through the intestine. Probiotics can strengthen this barrier, and also alter the nature of the mucous to render it less liable to penetration by these unwelcome visitors.
So where does bifidobacteria come into this? There is a number of strains of this bacterium living in the human body, but Bifidus longum is the most common or most abundant of these. Although it is the most common bacterium found in commercially available probiotic products, high numbers have to be consumed for the proper health benefits. However, commercial yoghurts contain very little of this bacterium, or even none at all. This is largely due to the pasteurization previously discussed, that kills the bacteria at high temperatures. Unfortunately this process is not selective, and in ridding the products of bacteria that could make you seriously ill, the beneficial bacteria are also destroyed.
This is a shame because Bifidus longum has been shown to inhibit E.Coli that can cause serious conditions of the digestive system. Among these are severe diarrhea and an inflammatory condition in the colon as the immune system tries to expel these nasty bacteria. This bacterium is particularly dangerous to the weak, such as the aged, children and people already weakened by illness.
It also helps to counteract yeast and other vaginal infections and when taken with other probiotics is believed to help in colon cancer cases. Among its other benefits are its part in the biosynthesis of thiamine, riboflavin and other vitamin B forms in your intestine, and also the absorption and assimilation of these vitamins by your body. It is also believed that it might help to reduce the cholesterol level in your body through its uptake of bile salts from the colon.
The major destructive elements of Bifidus longus are antibiotics of any kind, whether they be penicillin variants or tetracycline, and although the latter is used mainly for infections of the respiratory tract, it is ingested by the gut and effectively reduces the population of the bacteria that are needed for optimum health. That is one of the reasons why antibiotic use should be restricted to only what is necessary, and not use indiscriminately for all infections. Unless administered intravenously or site targeted, antibiotics kill off the good with the bad!
The other activities of Bifidus longus, such as removing the by-products of our metabolism that could be toxic if left to roam our bodies, render this bacterium as useful to your body as any vitamin or mineral supplement you could take. It is a supplement that many either overlook or are not even aware of, yet one that can make a significant difference, not only to your digestive and intestinal health, but also to you general overall wellbeing.
Alfalfa Is One of Nature’s Most Nutrient-Rich Foods
February 14, 2008 12:29 PM
Most people have likely heard of alfalfa in relation to its use as an important animal feedstuff without understanding that it is one of nature’s most nutrient-rich foods. It appears to be a trait with most people, that what is used for animal feed cannot possibly be healthy to humans.
This completely ignores the fact that humans are themselves mammals, and what is good for the biochemistry of one mammal is likely (though not necessarily) good for most. A look at alfalfa and why it has been used to feed livestock is a good place to start a discussion on its merits as a nutritional supplement for human beings.
Alfalfa is a legume, or member of the pea and bean family, that has long been used as animal food and has been given the nickname “Queen of Forages”. It is behind only corn, wheat and soybeans as the fourth largest crop grown in the USA, and the vast majority is for animal forage. In fact there is twice as much alfalfa grown in the USA as cotton. Its nutritional value is not only from its high protein content of around 20%, but also from its exceptional vitamin and mineral content.
Although grown predominantly for animals, humans also eat alfalfa sprouts, although by far its greatest nutritional use is in supplement form. Before discussing specific claimed benefits such as its use in lowering blood glucose and cholesterol, alleviating the symptoms of arthritis and helping with digestive problems among only dozens of other traditional uses, it would be useful to review the nutritional content of the legume in terms of vitamins, minerals and any other biochemical content that could provide more general health benefits.
The vitamin and mineral content is not disputed, being determined by chemical analysis. It is not so much what is present in terms of variety that is impressive, but how much of each that alfalfa contains. Natural protein that is easily assimilated by the body has already been touched on, ranging from around 15% to over 20%. Many people also stress the rich chlorophyll content, but apart from the magnesium, chlorophyll has no nutritional benefit to humans. However, now for the impressive facts:
Alfalfa contains a high concentration of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E and K and also Niacin, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin and Folic Acid. It is also rich in the following minerals: Boron, Calcium, Chlorine, Cobalt, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sulfur and also some trace minerals. When you purchase alfalfa supplements you also get eight essential amino acids, necessary for the biosynthesis of proteins, enzymes and DNA.
Little wonder then that alfalfa has a long history of medicinal uses, and is also used as a feed for animals, providing practically all of their protein, vitamin and mineral dietary needs. The same could also be said of humans, and alfalfa is not classed as a ‘superfood’ without good reason.
However, it is easy to determine the fact that this plant is of high nutritional value, but when or why should you take alfalfa supplements, especially if you have a good dietary regime? In fact several facts are known through studies of the plant and also by traditional and established usage for certain ailments. Although not all claims can be scientifically verified beyond all doubt, it has been generally agreed that alfalfa is instrumental in reducing the uric acid content of your system, and is hence useful in the treatment of certain types of arthritis, and also perhaps gout.
Although the latter has not been unconditionally proven it has been traditionally used to treat gout that is caused by deposition of uric acid crystals in the joints, and further, alfalfa also contains many of the minerals recommended for its treatment. It is not, therefore, an unreasonable assumption that it should be an effective treatment. There are a few medical applications of alfalfa that have been carried out under controlled conditions, and while the official line is that more testing is required to firmly establish any benefits gained by taking the supplement, many people claim that it has been effective in the treatment of their own medical conditions.
Atherosclerosis, which is caused by excessive deposition of cholesterol in the arteries, has been reported to be reduced in animal studies, and while many people also claim that their condition has improved, more evidence is necessary before their claims can be scientifically supported. This, however, could be connected with the greater body of evidence suggesting that alfalfa supplements can help to reduce your LDL cholesterol levels.
It is free radical oxidation of low density lipoproteins that render the cholesterol attached to them more liable to be deposited excessively in your arteries, thereby causing the aforementioned atherosclerosis. The evidence of the effect of alfalfa in reducing LDL cholesterol is very promising, and if substantiated could well provide the proof needed that the supplement does indeed reduce the incidences of cholesterol plaques inside your arteries.
The same is true with regard to the reduction in blood glucose claimed to occur after taking an alfalfa supplement. Recorded human data is scarce, although once again some people claim that the supplement has improved their condition. However, in this case it is clear that more evidence is required before any claims can be made with any degree of confidence.
It is probably wise not to regard alfalfa as being a panacea for any of the above conditions, but it is also fair to regard it as being very rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins. Perhaps this is why it is believed to help with some common digestive complaints, and also help to control high blood pressure and improve your mental function. Whatever your belief in the health benefits of alfalfa supplements, you should consult a physician before relying on it as a definitive treatment for any condition. This is particularly true if you are also being treated for another condition.
Alfalfa might not specifically interact with any other drug, but you should always check up with your doctor when using any natural remedy in association with a prescription medicine. It contains a number of other vitamins which might interact with specific medications. Vitamin K, for example, can interfere with the action of blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin. This is not specific to alfalfa, and any foodstuff rich in a specific nutrient could equally interact with prescription medicines.
However, widespread homeopathic use over a long period of time has indicated that alfalfa has few if any side effects. It is effectively used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of kidney problems and its name is derived from the Arabic for ‘father of all foods’. With over 300 nutrients and phytochemicals, alfalfa is one of nature’s most nutrient-rich foods, and its saponin and isoflavone content alone is sufficient to warrant many of the health claims made for it.
Fight Histamine With Quercetin
February 11, 2008 03:48 PM
Quercetin is one of the more powerful of the body’s antioxidants, and it can also be used to reduce the rate of histamine release by the body normally initiated by contact with an allergenic substance (for which your immune system has designed an antigen). We shall examine the biochemical mechanism which this is achieved, but first let’s have a closer look at quercetin and what it actually is.
Quercetin is what is known as a phytochemical, which is simply the scientific name for a chemical that is naturally produced by plants. Other phytochemicals include vitamin C and omega 3 fatty acids, so the term is very broad ranging for any substance that is produced by plants. It is commonly known as a flavanol, one of a family of compounds known as flavonoids that give color to plants.
It is a very active flavonoid, with very powerful antioxidant properties, in addition to acting as an anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory. Histamine is an amine released as part of the body’s immune response to allergenics, and quercetin inhibits its manufacture and release. This amine is an irritant and can itself cause inflammation and the other symptoms associated with allergies such as runny and itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, sneezing and itchy spots. Quercetin can be used to alleviate these symptoms by blocking the manufacture in the body of the histamine that causes them.
It demonstrates other anti-inflammatory properties such as alleviating the symptoms of arthritis, and also helps to destroy free radicals in the body through its strong antioxidant properties, but before we discuss how it does this we shall have a closer look at the mechanisms used in its effect in inhibiting histamine.
Calmodulin is a protein that is used to transport calcium ions, Ca++, across the membranes of certain cells in the body, and by doing so it helps to mediate a number of biochemical processes within the body, among them the immune response and inflammation. It should not be thought these are always unwelcome responses: on the contrary, they are the body’s way of reacting to foreign bodies and preventing more serious conditions from developing.
However, there are instances where the body can become sensitized to certain substances and overreact to their presence leading to conditions such as hay fever or, considerably more serious, asthma. These are just two of the undesirable manifestations of the human immune system that we would be better without. What quercetin does is to prevent calmodulin from properly binding to certain enzymic proteins and so suppress the effect of these proteins. Among these are the enzymes that control the secretion of histamine from mast cells.
Mast cells are found mainly in areas prone to injury and at the interface between internal tissues and outside world, such as the nose, mouth, lungs, eyes, blood vessels and feet. They contain granules rich in histamine that degranulate and released the histamine when the immune system detects foreign bodies such as pollen grains and dust mites, especially when the body has created antigens against them.
Quercetin suppresses the release of histamine from the granules in the mast cells by preventing the degranulation. The release of the histamine is not completely halted, but its effects are reduced and quercetin is used in the treatment of asthma where it is believed to help reduce the symptoms by reducing histamine-induced swelling in the airways.
A similar application of this flavonoid is in reducing the inflammatory response to arthritis, the main cause of the swelling of this painful condition. Your skin can also be affected by inflammation that is partially controllable by quercetin. Collagen and fibronectin biosynthesis is increased that help to maintain not only healthy joints, but also to speed up the healing of wounds and repair damaged nerves. It is also believed that quercetin can hold back the effects of aging on the skin, and slow down the formation of wrinkles.
There are other applications of this versatile flavanol, including its effect on acute prostatitis where it reduces oxidative stress and the accompanying inflammation of the prostate gland. In fact, it is believed to have positive effect on many conditions caused by free radical oxidation and excessive reaction by the immune system causing inflammation. Apart from the allergies and arthritis previously referred to, quercetin is believed to have been effectively used in the treatment of gout, macular degeneration and heart disease, and it can also help to prevent the oxidation of low density lipoproteins (LDL) responsible for transporting cholesterol to where it is needed to repair major blood vessels.
When these lipoproteins become oxidized by free radicals then the cholesterol associated with them tends to be excessively deposited in the arteries it is meant to be repairing, and lead to atherosclerosis. This condition can lead to heart failure or to strokes if the blood vessels are in the brain.
Studies have indicated that the flavonoid might help to prevent certain cancers by preventing the nutrition of some types of cancerous cells, effectively killing them. Due to its phytoestrogen properties, quercetin can be used to bind to the sites in cancerous cells that are receptive to estrogen and so prevent their growth. Many types of cancerous cells need estrogen for their growth and proliferation, and phytoestrogens mimic the effect of this hormone. However, these are laboratory studies, and more work is required.
More certain is the effect of quercetin on heart disease due largely to the aforementioned control of cholesterol deposition in your arteries, but also through its ability to strengthen the capillaries. However, when all things are considered, it is in the properties of this non-allergenic bioflavonoid to fight histamine release that it finds it’s most popular and effective use.
So what is the best way to take quercetin? Like most bioflavonoids, it is available naturally in the majority of plant foods. Particularly rich sources are broccoli, red onions, red apple skins, black tea, red wine, red and purple berries and almost all dark green leafy vegetables.
However, the name of the game these days is to take measured doses, and while you should continue to eat these foods, you can also receive controlled doses by use of supplements. From 200 to 500 milligrams thrice daily is a good average dose, depending on the severity of your immune reaction or allergy. Bromelain is believed to improve its absorption in the gut, and quercetin is frequently provided with bromelain, which itself is also a good treatment for allergies and excessive response of your immune system to irritation.
Bromelain is an enzyme, generally extracted from pineapple, and treatments higher than the above doses of quercetin with or without bromelain are available online, although like any natural remedy you should inform your own physician of the dosage you are taking.
There is no better non-allergenic bioflavonoid to fight histamine and its potentially unpleasant effects on your body than quercetin.
A Periwinkle Extract Vinpocetine May Promote Cerebral Blood Flow
December 01, 2007 09:05 AM
Periwinkles form the plant genus Vinca, of which the lesser periwinkle and the greater periwinkle are the two members. They are also a form of dogbane, known for its alkaloid properties. Periwinkles are of interest to the medical profession due to their biosynthesis of a number of alkaloids that are used to protect themselves from bacteria and are also toxic to the herbivores that would otherwise eat them.
Many other plants produce alkaloids, perhaps the best known being poppy, that produces the alkaloid opium that is the precursor to heroin. The alkaloids of the periwinkle, however, have a much more beneficial use for mankind in their action on certain types of cancer such as Hodgkin’s disease, and also on the flow of blood to the brain.
The components of the periwinkle include vinblastine, which is used in the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and it is the only plant known to produce the alkaloid, although only in very small quantities after synthetic seeding. This involves introducing modified tryptamines to the plant so that they produce the desired alkaloid, although only in quantities of 0.002% of the weight of the plant. Although small, this is still less expensive that synthesizing the alkaloid in a chemical plant rather than a biological one!
Chemists are now seeking more readily synthesizable alternative forms of the alkaloid that have the same effect, again using the periwinkle as a botanical chemical factory to provide them with a lead as to possible synthetic routes. However, it is for the application of another alkaloid of this amazing little plant that we are more concerned with here.
In addition to vinblastine, the periwinkle produces the alkaloid vincamine, a type of tryptamine that can be extracted from the leaves of the lesser periwinkle, the Vinca minor. This periwinkle has been used through the ages as an invigorating tonic and as an astringent to treat bleeding gums and sores in the mouth. Vincamine promotes the aerobic glycolysis that is essential to cerebral health.
Normal glycolysis, or the conversion of glucose to energy in the mitochondria of the cells of the body, occurs best in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic glycolysis). However, the brain produces up to and over 90% more energy through aerobic glycolysis in the presence of oxygen than through anaerobic. Hence one of the needs for such a rich supply of oxygenated blood being needed by the brain. As people grow older, or their brain tissue becomes damaged, then the supply of blood can be reduced and more and more anaerobic glycolysis is switched on. This results in an increasing loss of brain energy and hence brain function. Vincamine can reverse this effect, or at least maintain the status quo, and so enable people to maintain their brain function for longer.
It is also what is known as a vasodilator, and dilates the blood vessels in the brain allowing a greater blood flow. It is known to be beneficial in relation to tasks requiring focused concentration such as mathematical problem solving, and has also been found effective in the treatment of people with poor memory.
Vinpocetine (ethyl apovincaminate) is a derivative of vincamine, obtained by slightly modifying the molecule to produce a commercial form of the alkaloid. This possesses all of the beneficial effects of its precursor, including its positive effects on memory, believed to be due to the stimulation of serotonin production that improves the rate at which the brain can process information. Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears that has severely reduced the quality of life of so many people, can also be treated with vinpotecine.
Its vascodilation effect is thought to be through its action as a phosphodeaterase 1 (PDE1) inhibitor that results in an improvement in the plasticity of neurons. The mechanism is complex, but the end result is an improvement in the cognitive abilities of the subject. This is supplemented by the effect of vinpocetine on the calcium levels in the blood vessels. This renders them more plastic in much the same way that some anti-hypertension treatments work to reduce blood pressure by increasing the plasticity of the blood vessels by modification of their calcium levels. It can also reduce the viscosity of the blood through its action on the “stickiness” of leucocytes and so allow the blood to run more freely through the capillaries of the brain.
These effects have been demonstrated through double blind studies, and there is little doubt that vinpocetine helps to maintain a healthy cerebral circulation. So let’s have a recap on its various effects, and then finish with a summary of the conditions that the alkaloid can be used to treat or improve. The theory and biochemistry behind these effects is known, but is complex, but here are the major actions:
a) It improves blood flow by modifying the calcium content of the blood vessels and so improves their elasticity, hence allowing a freer movement of blood. In effect it helps the blood vessels to dilate easier.
b) It inhibits the enzyme PDE1 and by doing so helps to restore the elasticity of neurons in aging brain cells, allowing them to relax more and operate more effectively.
c) It promotes aerobic glycolysis, and so the rate at which the mitochondria of brain cells produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) that is the chemical manifestation of energy.
d) It helps to maintain a good supply of glucose and oxygen in the brain to allow (c) to occur.
Not all of these may be separate effects, but the outcome is an improvement in conditions such as short term memory loss, dementia and other conditions associated with a reduction in the blood supply to the brain including Menière’s syndrome and vertigo. There is also evidence that it helps with hearing problems, macular degeneration of the eye, and fatigue.
It is a supplement that should be taken by the elderly to help with age-related memory problems, but has also been found to be beneficial in normal healthy people. The periwinkle extract Vinpocetine has been shown to have benefits, largely through an increase in the blood flow to the brain, and will be of use to anybody suffering from conditions that can be related to a deficiency in their cerebral blood supply.
7-Keto, The Next Dhea With No Side Effects
November 10, 2007 12:24 PM
7-Keto is a natural derivative of DHEA that is claimed to be free from many of the side-effects of regular DHEA supplements. DHEA is dehydroepiandosterone, which is the most abundantly produced of the adrenal hormones. After production in and release into the bloodstream by the adrenal glands that are situated just over the kidneys, DHEA undergoes metabolism to the male androgen hormones, and the female estrogens.
As you age, the production DHEA declines, starting at about 30, with a 50% decline by time you reach 40 and almost 85% at 70. This is true of the levels of many hormones in the body, though some, like the steroidal aldosterone, remain constant throughout life. The general rate of metabolism also reduces with age resulting in an even lower conversion rate of DHEA to the male and female hormones.
At the same time as this occurs, there also occurs a significant reduction in the biosynthesis of protein in the body, which results in a loss of muscle mass as you age, and also in the regeneration of bone tissue that results in what is commonly termed age-related osteoporosis. Brain cells die at an increasing rate leading to many neurological conditions and the immune system is also affected negatively.
Due to the concurrence of these aging effects, many scientists have related the general hormonal decline with the other effects of aging. The have asserted that if these hormones were restored, than many of the effects of aging could be delayed. Osteoporosis would be delayed due to the body’ s increased ability to restore lost bone mass, the metabolic rate would improve and fat would be burned at a faster rate and continue to build muscle, the brain would lose its functionality at a significantly lower rate and the immune system would continue to protect the body against disease.
In other words we might be able to live longer, but if not that then at least the quality of life would be maintained longer as we aged. This is a very welcome and desirable situation, but the taking of hormones as supplements has long been regarded as fraught with danger due to the possibility of undesirable side effects, some of them potentially very serious. DHEA was considered as one of these hormones that could be used as a supplement to achieve positive results in reducing these age-related changes because it exhibited these effects in tests on animals.
However, in order that a specific substance can be declared responsible for any metabolic improvement that involves liver biochemistry, some form of receptor has to be identified, and this failed to materialize in DHEA. There appears to be no such DHEA receptor, although that does not necessarily imply that DHEA is not responsible in some way. It might very well be a DHEA metabolite that is responsible, and that has still to be identified. It is certainly true that DHEA administered to both animal and human subjects has resulted in an increase in the testosterone and estrogen levels of the subjects. Such an increase is not desirable due to a number of potential side effects as previously inferred.
These are particularly liable to occur with people who already have an adequate level of natural DHEA production within their body. The side effects include acne, irregularity in the menstrual cycle, itchy scalp, increased body odor and an excess of androgenic hormones can lead to hair loss, or male pattern baldness. Interruptions in the heart rhythm, or palpitations, are another very serious side effect of DHEA supplementation, and high doses over a long period introduce a theoretical risk of certain cancers.
However, the discovery of 7-Keto, a natural derivative of DHEA claimed to be free from many of these side effects, has altered the situation. 7-Keto is a powerful antioxidant that speeds up the metabolism of fat and helps to reduce body weight. It also helps to replace lost fat with muscle mass, though it must be stated that this effect is only valid after the natural production of DHEA has slowed down. It is not a body-building supplement.
It was Professor Henry Lardy, of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, who tested over 150 DHEA metabolites over 10 years and identified 7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone as having the greatest biochemical effect without having any detectable side effects. This material was trademarked 7-KETO by the Humanetics Corporation, and one of its known effects is to burn fat quicker by stimulating thermogenesis. It had also been shown to strengthen the immune system and to improve the memory. All of this without any measurable increase in any of the sex hormones. It was released after a careful and intensive series of safety tests on both humans and animals found it safe for human consumption.
It should be stressed that 7-Keto is not a hormone, and is not chemically the same as DHEA: it is a different chemical altogether that is produce when DHEA degrades in the body. Because of this it can be promoted as a non-androgenic or estrogenic form of DHEA. It is thought that all of the conditions that decline as we age that can benefit from a supplement of DHEA, will also benefit from a supplement of 7-Keto. However supplementation is only required from the ages of 25 – 30, when the natural amount of DHEA and 7-Keto in the body start to decline.
It causes neither high blood pressure nor any form of cancer, and was submitted to the FDA prior to being made publicly available. It is important to stress that the substance is neither a steroid nor does it metabolize to steroidal hormones, and is also not a sex hormone. It also has no effect on the body’s sex hormones. The whole point of 7-Keto is that it has the effect of DHEA without having any connection whatsoever with steroidal hormones or any hormonal substances. It is totally innocuous and safe to use, without the risk of heart palpitations, lost hair or any of the other side effects of DHEA.
Without a doubt, 7-Keto is a DHEA substitute that has none of the side effects of its precursor. So if you are over the age of 30 and feel the need for an energy boost, give 7-keto a try.
Benefits of Acetyl-L-Carnitine
February 12, 2006 01:55 PM
Policosanol Cholesterol Complex
February 03, 2006 03:50 PM
December 17, 2005 09:42 AM
Supports Healthy Nervous System and Joint Function Vital For Over 35 Biochemical Reactions Necessary For Optimum Health Promotes a Healthy Mood
As the building blocks of protein, amino acids are vital to health. Next to water, amino acids in the form of proteins make up the greatest portion of our body weight. They comprise tendons, muscles and ligaments; organs and glands; hair and nails; important bodily fluids, and are a necessary part of every cell in the body.
There are over 20 amino acids, separated into two categories – essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be manufactured by your body, hence, it is essential that you obtain them from your diet. Non-essential amino acids can be manufactured by your body, however, your body must have the right combination of essential amino acids and supporting nutrients to optimize healthy protein maintenance, so supplementation may be desirable.
Amino acids are not only absolutely integral to life, they can have a profound impact upon how clearly we think and how well we feel.
SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) is a naturally occurring combination of the amino acid methionine and ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body’s primary energy molecule. In this form it is sometimes referred to as “active methionine”. Research indicates that SAMe plays a vital role in nervous system health and normal cognitive function.*
SAMe may support nervous system function by increasing the synthesis and recycling of certain neurotransmitters and enhancing the sensitivity of nerve receptors. SAMe is believed to positively affect a number of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline and norepinephrine. Although the mechanism for SAMe’s impact upon neural function is not fully understood, there is no doubt that SAMe’s capacity as a methyl donor is of critical importance.
As a methyl donor SAMe assists the body in the creation of complex organic compounds necessary for normal healthy function. Your body uses these new compounds for numerous purposes, including brain function and detoxification. This process, known as methylation or transmethylation, is vital to your body’s maintenance. SAMe may be the most effective of all methyl donors discovered to date. Research has shown that SAMe is the only methyl donor with the potential to increase transmethylation in the brain, which helps to protect it from homocysteine damage as well as increasing production of glutathione, one of the body’s most effective antioxidants.
Research into the biosynthesis of SAMe has established a clear link between SAMe and folic acid, or folate. Folic Acid has been proven to provide support for healthy nervous system function and a healthy mood, and researchers believe these two nutrients work together to beneficially affect monoamine systems, which directly affect mood and cognitive function.* SAMe has also been shown to improve the synthesis of phospholipids for use in the brain, probably one of the most beneficial effects SAMe has on brain health. The benefits of SAMe extend beyond the brain and throughout the human body. For example, it may also aid in the repair of myelin, the sheath of fatty material that surrounds nerves and nerve cells everywhere in our nervous system. It’s found in all human tissue and organs and is available for use by your body in over 35 different biochemical reactions necessary for optimal health.
SAMe may support joint health through transulfuration, a process that takes a certain amount of sulfur from SAMe to create glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates. This enhances proteoglycan synthesis, the molecule responsible for keeping articular (joint) cartilage lubricated. As mentioned earlier, SAMe is also important for the production of glutathione, a powerful free radical scavenger that defends your body from toxic agents and is necessary for liver detoxification.
SAMe was first isolated in 1952 by G.L. Cantoni at the Laboratory of Cellular Pharmacology at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. Four years later, Cantoni and a co-worker found that SAMe synthesis involves methionine and ATP. They also found that it exists in the human body only temporarily, making production in a supplemental form difficult. It took nearly ten years until improvements in technology permitted SAMe research to advance. With the discovery of a method to stabilize SAMe that overcame these manufacturing problems, U.S. patents were granted to allow the production of SAMe in a stabilized form.
SAMe in its ion form, as found in human cells, has a very short life span and is rapidly metabolized into other necessary compounds as needed. Therefore, it must be manufactured in a stabilized form to prevent rapid degradation as a supplement. Once tableted, it must be enteric coated to preserve stability.
This technology was not readily available until the 1990’s, hence SAMe’s long road to mainstream popularity. Dr. Joseph Zhou, Director of Laboratory Methods here at NOW, is credited with significantly improving the analytical methodology used to assure potency levels in supplemental SAMe. His work is one of the reasons SAMe is available as a supplemental with stable, guaranteed
Ginkgo - Anti-Stress Herb
June 25, 2005 11:30 AM
Ginkgo - Anti-Stress Herb
Ginkgo’s popularity has steadily increased as more of its properties have been discove red. It has become the subject of widespread interest and was recently the topic of a scientific conference that was held in New Yo rk. Because stress management is so crucial to our contemporary lifestyles, the role of ginkgo should not be dismissed. Research has shown that ginkgo can help relieve the adverse effects of s t ress. It is considered an herbal adaptogen which helps the body cope with a number of physical and psychological stressors. One way in which ginkgo helps boost stamina is by helping the body conserve energy through the increased biosynthesis of protein and nucleic acids. This process is vital to any kind of healing or cell regeneration. Ginkgo also helps to increase levels of glucose and ATP at the cellular level which helps us sustain higher energy output, especially under periods of mental or physical stress. Frequently, stress impairs cognitive ability, and because ginkgo facilitates better blood flow to brain neurons, coping abilities may be enhanced.
Several experiments have demonstrated that ginkgo can help to facilitate one’s ability to adapt in an adverse environment. Because most of us have to cope with adversity in one form or other, ginkgo may be of benefit in helping to promote better coping skills and enhanced physiological function. Unquestionably, stress contributes to both physical and emotional disorders. Ginkgo can help protect us against the deleterious effects of stress by making our cellular structures more resilient.
The important role the liver plays in maintaining health
June 21, 2005 04:56 PM
Most practitioners who practice various forms of natural medicine know the important role the liver plays in maintaining health in general. The liver is involved in thousands of biochemical mechanisms making it second only to the brain in importance and complexity. Natural health practitioners are also acutely aware of the detrimental effects on the liver of modern living, with its chemicals, excessive fat intake, pesticides, hormones, and stress. This suggests that we as a culture are in need of liver support. History suggests, and modern research is supporting, that botanicals have an important role to play in supporting a healthy liver.
The liver has an almost miraculous ability to biochemically transform, break down, store, eliminate, and build up the plethora of chemicals to which it is exposed. Many botanicals have a very specific effect of modifying these biochemical processes. Some botanicals can enhance the liver?s phase I (cytochrome P450) and phase II (glutathione conjugation) detoxification processes, promote the flow and production of bile (one means of eliminating toxins), inhibit the attachment of viruses or chemical antagonists to hepatocytes, strongly enhance the liver?s powerful antioxidant systems, or promote the regeneration of liver tissue-the liver being the only organ in the body except the skin able to regenerate itself. Many botanicals have been used historically for promoting liver health. Today, modern research is confirming these benefits while shedding light on their mechanisms of action. Following is an overview of a number of these botanicals.
Milk Thistle Silybum marianum
The extract of the seeds of milk thistle is perhaps the most well researched of all the liver supportive botanicals. Part of its benefit has been in its ability to scavenge free radicals and to stimulate the regeneration of hepatocytes. In Germany, it is the botanical extract of choice for use in supporting a healthy liver. Typically, an extract yielding a minimum of 70% silymarin (a specific class of flavonoids) is used clinically at a dose of approximately 420 mg of the extract daily (Morazzoni and Bombardelli 1995).
Schizandra Schisandra chinensis
Schizandra, known as bei wu wei zi in China, is one of the most widely used tonics of Chinese herbalism. Its original use was to support the health of the heart, kidneys and lungs and as a longevity tonic. Modern research has focused attention on its role as an adaptogen and for supporting a healthy liver. Adaptogens are substances that positively affect overall health by reducing stress mechanisms which can contribute to a number of biochemical reactions that can be detrimental to health. While the mechanism of action of adaptogens has not been definitively determined, the existing literature suggests they work endocrinologically through the pituitary and adrenals and substantially reduce the negative effects that stress has on the system (Wagner et al. 1994). In China and Japan, the modern use of schizandra has focused on its benefit in those in need of liver support. In one review of its pharmacological activity, stabilization of liver enzymes was reported in more than 5,000 people. The benefits were experienced within 20 days of administration of schizandra with 75% of patients returning to normal values (Chang and But 1986). A limited number of controlled studies similarly reported on the beneficial effects of the equivalent of 1.5 grams of schizandra for reducing elevated liver enzymes (Liu 1991). There are three primary mechanisms of action of schizandra reported with regards to its ability to support a healthy liver: 1) its ability to reduce lipid peroxidation induced by a number of different antagonists (antioxidant activity); 2) induction of hepatomicrosomal cytochrome P-450; 3) stimulation of protein biosynthesis and liver glycogen (Liu 1991). Such mechanisms make schizandra ideal as a liver-supportive botanical that is underutilized in the West.
Bupleurum Bupleurum chinense, B. falcatum
Bupleurum, also known as chai hu in China, is perhaps the most important of liver-supportive botanicals in China and Japan, and, like schizandra, is far underutilized in the United States, except by traditional Chinese herbalists. Traditionally, it has been regarded as an herb that helps to normalize the function of the liver from a traditional Chinese perspective. Modern research has identified a group of compounds known as saikosaponins that strongly support liver health (in humans and rats). Mechanisms of action specifically regarding liver health identified for bupleurum include anti-inflammatory activity, as well as its ability to stimulate the production and release of bile, thus facilitating the detoxification process (Wagner et al. 1996).
Sho-Saiko-To Minor Bupleurum
In Chinese herbalism, herbs are seldom prescribed singularly. Rather they are combined according to very sophisticated principles of formulation based on the differential diagnosis of the patient. One of the most widely used and researched botanical formulas for the health of the liver used in China and Japan is Sho-Saiko-To, known in China as Xiao Chai Hu Tang (Minor Bupleurum). This classic formula consists of the following botanicals: ginger, scutellaria, jujube, ginseng, licorice, pinellia and bupleurum. It is widely used throughout Asia for supporting liver health and currently is the subject of phase II clinical trials at Sloan Kettering. The formula with its main ingredient, bupleurum, was first introduced in Japan by Chinese Buddhist priests between the 6th and 8th centuries. Modern research suggests that Sho-Saiko-To modulates the immune response, specifically in addition to other mechanisms, by increasing levels of interleukin and interferon (Huang et al. 2001).
To the same extent that herbs are seldom used singularly in Chinese herbalism, they are similarly used within a broader context that incorporates dietary and other lifestyle changes to support the botanicals. In my clinic, I routinely recommend that patients eliminate alcohol, coffee, sugar, and refined foods from their diet and eat whole grain foods, fish, and several servings of green vegetables daily along with their herbal program. For these individuals this is a simple program to follow, and many are able to live a normal productive life with a greater level of liver health. Such a liver-supportive program must be maintained as a way of life to lessen the burden that modern society and exogenous factors put on our livers.
The herbal world offers a potential natural health care approach that focuses on protecting and restoring the health and functioning of the liver. Both traditional experience and modern investigation suggest that botanicals can play a role in world health, specifically in promoting liver health.
The use of botanicals should be used under the guidance of a qualified health care professional. The combined use of conventional and natural therapies may not be appropriate. Before attempting to combine such therapies, discuss your therapeutic options with your primary health care provider.
Chang HM, But PH. 1986. Pharmacology and applications of Chinese materia medica. World Science. Singapore. Huang et al. Semi-quantitative analysis of cytokine mRNA expression induced by the herbal medicine sho-saiko-to (TJ-9) using a gel doc system. J Clin Lab Anal 15: 199-209. Liu GT. 1991. Pharmacological actions and clinical uses of Fructus schizandrae in recent advances in Chinese herbal drugs-actions and uses. Scientific Press Beijing. Morazzoni P, Bombardelli E. 1995. Silybum marianum (Carduus marianus). Fitoterapia LXVI (1):3-42. Wagner H, Noerr N. Winterhoff K. 1994. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1: 63-76. Wagner H, Bauer R, Peigen X, Jianming C, Offermann F. 1996. Chinese Drug monographs and analysis: Radix Bupleuri (chaihu). Verlag fuer Ganzheitliche Medizin Koetzting/Bayer. Wald, Germany.
Michael Tierra, L. Ac., O.M.D., is a clinician and world-renowned author of the best-selling Way of Herbs and Planetary Herbology. As product formulator for Planetary Formulas, he draws on 30 years of clinical experience to create formulas renowned for their dependability and effectiveness.
Policosanol and cholesterol control ...
May 17, 2005 06:25 PM
In addition, after 30 days of therapy, 20 and 40 mg/day policosanol significantly ( P < 0.01) reduced low-density lipoprotein– cholesterol (15.9 and 17.0%, respectively) and total cholesterol (12.4 and 12.3%, respectively; P < 0.05), yet increased high-density lipoprotein–cholesterol values by 5% in both groups ( P < 0.05).
Policosanol is a mixture of higher aliphatic primary alcohols purified from sugar cane ( Saccharum officinarum L) 4,5 wax, the main component of which is octacosanol, followed by triacontanol and hexacosanol; other alcohols (tetracosanol, heptacosanol, nonacosanol, dotriacontanol and tetratriacontanol) are minor components. The cholesterol-lowering effects of policosanol have been proven in healthy volunteers, 6,7 patients with type II hypercholesterolaemia 8–25 and in dyslipidaemia due to type II diabetes mellitus. 26,27
The hypocholesterolaemic effect of policosanol is associated with inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis at a step located between acetate consumption and mevalonate production, although inhibition of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase has been discarded. 28–30 Policosanol also increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor-dependent processing in fibroblast cultures, 28 as well as the clearance of [ 125 I]-labelled LDL–cholesterol (LDL-C) administered to rabbits with hypercholesterolaemia induced by a cholesterol-free casein-rich diet. 29
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Androgens and 4-Diol and 4-Dione conversion to Testosterone...
May 17, 2005 04:47 PM
The androgens 4-androstenediol and 4-androstenedione are natural testosterone precursors. The biosynthesis of testosterone takes place within the testicular Leydig cells in two metabolic pathways. During the progesterone-pathway (.delta.-4 pathway), pregnenolone is metabolized to progesterone by the 3-.beta.-hydroxy-steroid deydrogenase and an isomerase. Progesterone is then changed to 17-.alpha.-hydroxyprogesterone by the 17-.alpha.-hydroxylase and C.sub.17C.sub.21-lyase to androstenedione, then to testosterone by reduction of the 17-keto-group by 17-.beta.-hydroxy-steroid dehydrogenase. The DHEA-pathway (.delta.-5 pathway) leads from pregenolone to 17-.alpha.-hydroxypregnenolone to dehyroepiandrosterone (C.sub.17C.sub.21-lyase), to 5-.delta.-androstenediol. See FIG. 4; Wichmann et al., 83(3) EXP. CLIN. ENDOCRINOL. 283-290 (1984).
As a testosterone pro-hormone and metabolite, 4-androstenedione may be used by athletes and bodybuilders to improve muscle mass. Levels of .delta. 4-androstenedione increase significantly with moderate exercise in healthy men. Velardo et al., 97(1) EXP. & CLIN. ENDOCRINOL. 99-101 (1991). Additionally, supplementation with 4-androstenedione has been known to produced elevations in serum testosterone. Mahesh et al., 41(3-8) J. STEROID BIOCHEM. MOL. BIOL. 495-513 (1992).
4-androstenediol is also metabolized into testosterone and is produced by conversion of dehyroepiandrosterone. Inaba et al., 13(2) ENDOCRINOLOGIA JAPONICA 160-72 (1966). It was first shown to produce elevations in human serum testosterone levels in 1965, and this was also demonstrated in in vitro studies in animals (Kundu, 6(5) STEROIDS 543-51 (1965) and human fibroblast cultures. Faredin et al. 32(2) ACTA MEDICA ACADEMIAE SCIENTIARUM HUNGARICAE 139-52 (1975). Supplementation with 4-androstenedione, 4-androstenediol, and 19-nor-4-androstenedione has been studied to determine whether a rise in testosterone is produced. Uralets et al., 23 ANAL. TOXICOL. 357-366 (1999). Testosterone is excreted in the urine unchanged and is metablized through 5.alpha.- and .beta.-DHT as 5.alpha.- and .beta.-androstanediol, while androstenedione is similarly excreted as androsterone and etiocholanolone. Both the final excreted steroid and the intermediaries stanediones and DHT intraconvert so that androsterone, 5.alpha.- and .beta.-androstanediol and etiocholanolone are seen in urine. Supplementation with 4-androstenediol produced a 10-fold greater urine testosterone concentration than 4androstenedione. (Uralets, 1999)
May 09, 2005 06:10 PM
It's in the BloodNatural alternatives abound for managing cholesterol levels, backed by a growing body of research ©VR By Paul Bubny
The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) last July lowered the threshold for considering the use of statin drugs—a move which some say was motivated more by profits than scientific evidence. For example, the Center for Science in the Public Interest pointed out that eight of the nine authors behind the new recommendations had financial ties to statin manufacturers, which stand to reap billions of dollars more from a category that grossed $14 billion in the U.S. last year. And though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January decided against authorizing over-the-counter (OTC) sales of statin drugs, drug companies would still like to see this happen.
“The medical establishment’s pushing of these drugs to becoming the number one category of prescribed drugs in the world has led them to keep lowering the total cholesterol number that triggers the drug recommendation,” said Neil E. Levin, C.C.N., D.A.N.L.A., nutrition educator, product formulator, and “Truth Advocate” for NOW Foods (Bloomingdale, IL), which produces a number of supplements for addressing cholesterol. “This is despite the lack of evidence that total cholesterol means much as regards cardiovascular risks.
“Other tests are much more important in terms of predicting risks, including CRP (C-reactive protein), the balance of different cholesterol fractions, and homocysteine,” he continued. “Add adult-onset diabetes to the risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).”
At the same time, the allegation that enormous sales potential lay behind the lower threshold for prescribing statin drugs illustrates how widespread the problem of hypercholesterolemia (elevated total cholesterol) is. More than 100 million Americans have elevated cholesterol (total cholesterol values of 200 mg/dl and higher), and of these, more than a third have high cholesterol (levels of 240 mg/dl and higher), according to the American Heart Association. Those numbers have unfavorable implications for the incidence of CVD, as high cholesterol is considered a risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke.
While statin drugs haven’t garnered the same degree of negative publicity that COX-2 inhibitors have suffered lately, safety concerns have arisen nonetheless. For one thing, these drugs lower the liver’s production of coenzyme Q10 (coQ10) along with its production of cholesterol. “CoQ10 is related to energy production and immune functions, is an antioxidant, and [is] an important cardiovascular nutrient,” Levin said. “It is not good to lower one’s coQ10 levels by half!”
Moreover, said Levin, statins increase the tendency of muscle tissues to break down. “Combined with inactivity or certain drugs, this can stimulate muscle wasting,” he said. “Muscle is where a good deal of calories are burned, so a loss of muscle could affect mobility and energy production, potentially adding to obesity problems. These muscle changes occurred in patients and persisted for years after treatment was discontinued, as shown by muscle biopsies, even if no obvious muscle problems were observed by the patients.”
And the last word on the subject may not have been spoken. Predicted Dr. Frank King, Jr. president of King Bio Natural Medicine (Asheville, NC), “Once the appropriate studies are finished, these drugs, along with hypertensives, will hit the fan bigger than the COX-2 inhibitors.”
Also looking toward the future, Levin said that of the 20 million Americans who will be “targeted” for statin drug prescriptions under the new NCEP guidelines, “Some of these will want to try natural methods first. Others will rebel at the side effects of the drugs and experiment with alternative products.”
King and Levin both saw opportunity for natural products in the fallout from drug safety concerns, with King projecting that sales of his company’s cholesterol-related homeopathic remedies will double in 2005. “The reports of deaths from drugs will always overshadow the trumped-up studies and news reports blasting dietary supplements,” said Levin. “Vioxx knocked vitamin E off the media’s radar screens pretty rapidly, though we still see ignorant reporters citing that [Johns Hopkins] vitamin E analysis as if it were true. But the comparable safety of supplements means that open-minded people will want to at least try natural therapies before signing in to a lifetime of drug therapies. Meanwhile, the studies on natural products will continue to build our credibility.”
Those studies keep coming in, with at least four major findings published in the past few months, plus a heart-health claim on walnuts authorized by FDA. They join a raft of earlier findings that link natural products—branded and otherwise—to healthy cholesterol levels.
"Blur of Products"
With so many natural alternatives to cholesterol drugs available, it can be hard to keep track. “As with any other category, the blur of products as they cascade over several shelves means that the retailer needs to have a good sense of what works and what they want to recommend to their customers,” Levin said. “Really, each person needs a protocol that would include antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, herbs, and oils. The pre-mixed cholesterol support formulas are a good starting place.”
To help retailers get a sense of “what works,” here is an alphabetical discussion of several nutrients that have demonstrated benefits in serum cholesterol levels. They include the following:
Barley may help lower cholesterol, according to a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004, vol.80, no.5: 1185-1193). Twenty-five adults with mild hypercholesterolemia consumed a controlled diet low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol for 19 weeks. They then added whole-grain products containing barley to their diets that contained low (0 g), medium (3 g), or high (6 g) amount of beta-glucan per day for five weeks. Total cholesterol was reduced by 4 percent 9 percent, and 10 percent, respectively. The diet with the highest amount of beta-glucan led to a decrease in LDL cholesterol of 17 percent.
Chromium. There’s evidence, Levin said, that chromium in doses of 500 mg a day may decrease levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol) and total cholesterol while raising levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good” cholesterol). At the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition last October, a poster presentation on the safety of Benicia, CA-based InterHealth Nutraceuticals’ ChromeMate niacin-bound chromium won first prize; among other things, the presentation cited chromium’s role in maintaining healthy blood lipid levels.
Fatty Acids. The latest in a long line of studies demonstrating the benefits of fatty acids in heart health is a study published in The International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics in December 2004. It showed that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, can restore normal blood vessel function in children with inherited high cholesterol. The study, which used Martek DHA produced from microalgae, concluded that restoration of normal blood vessel function has the “potential for preventing the progression of early coronary heart disease in high-risk children.”
“The evidence continues to accumulate on the cardiovascular benefits of DHA for people of all ages,” said Henry “Pete” Linsert, Jr., chairman and CEO of Martek Biosciences, an ingredient supplier based in Columbia, MD. “This study clearly indicates that DHA played an important role in healthy blood vessel function in the children in this study.”
On the Omega-Research.com Website maintained by fish oil manufacturer Nordic Naturals (Watsonville, CA) can be found summaries of several earlier studies linking omega-3 fatty acids to maintaining healthy blood lipid levels, as well as related benefits such as elasticity of the arteries. In a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that women receiving a mixture of 4 g eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA along with 2 g of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) had lower levels of LDL cholesterol after 28 days compared to those who received either the EPA/DHA supplements without DHA, EPA/DHA with a smaller dose of GLA, or GLA alone.
Flax is another source of omega-3s, and Arkopharma/Health From The Sun (Bedford, MA) offers FiProFLAX in a variety of forms. Marketing director Hugues P. Mas said the flax is “QAI [Quality Assurance International] certified organic and guaranteed GMO [genetically modified organism]-free.” On its Website, the company offers a cholesterol quiz geared to consumers, discussing the importance of omega-3s as well as other nutrients.
Garlic. Adding to an already considerable body of research demonstrating that garlic can lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides while increasing HDL cholesterol, researchers at UCLA in 2003 reported that Kyolic aged garlic extract reduced or inhibited plaque formation in the arteries of 19 cardiac patients taking statin drugs.
Lead researcher Matthew Budoff, Ph.D. commented at the time that the study “suggests that aged garlic extract may be a useful and beneficial dietary addition for the people who have high cardiovascular risk or who have undergone heart surgery.” Budoff has since presented several trade show seminars sponsored by Los Angeles-based Wakunaga of America, the makers of Kyolic.
Guggul. In use for centuries as a component of Ayurvedic medicine, guggul—a gummy resin tapped from the Commiphora mukul tree, which is native to India—has been studied since the early 1960s for its hypolidemic (blood-lipid lowering) properties. Sabinsa Corp. (Piscataway, NJ), an ingredient supplier which produces a standardized extract under the brand name Gugulipid, says the studies on guggul indicate that its hypolipidemic activity can be attributed to more than one mechanism of action.
Among the possible mechanisms are: inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis, enhancing the rate of excretion of cholesterol, promoting rapid degradation of cholesterol, thyroid stimulation, alteration of biogenic amines, and “high affinity binding and anion exchange.”
Homeopathy. “Homeopathy activates the body’s own control system to work properly,” said King. “This is the safest and most curative approach to take.
“Forcing the body into biochemical change even naturally doesn’t actually have the curative action of homeopathy,” King continued. “Homeopathy can even correct the genetic predispositions to disease we may have inherited from as deep as a thousand years into our family chain.” King Bio makes Artery/Cholesterol/BP, a homeopathic formula intended to help tone heart muscles and blood vessels.
Low glycemic index foods. In a study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that high glycemic load is negatively correlated to serum levels of HDL cholesterol. Assessing the relationship between blood levels of lipids and diet in a test population of 32 healthy males and females ages 11 to 25, the researchers found that glycemic load accounted for 21.1 percent of the variation in HDL cholesterol. They concluded that glycemic load appears to be an important independent predictor of HDL cholesterol in youth and noted that dietary restrictions without attention to glycemic load could unfavorably influence blood lipids.
Medicinal Mushrooms. Although its product SX-Fraction is intended primarily to address high blood sugar, Maitake Products, Inc. (MPI, Ridgefield Park, NJ) found in a clinical study that LDL cholesterol in diabetic patients declined modestly (from 142 mg/dl to 133 mg/dl) over a two-month period. Those taking SX-Fraction also lost about 7 lbs. in the same time period.
“The more impressive lowering of cholesterol, however, comes from the dietary fiber that is found in all medicinal mushrooms,” said Ellen Shnidman, manager of scientific affairs at MPI. She cited animal studies which documented the cholesterol-lowering properties of four different mushrooms: maitake, shiitake, agaricus, and enokitake.
For example, a study reported in the September 1996 issue of Alternative Therapies showed “a 44 percent reduction in total cholesterol in rats consuming maitake mushroom in their diet,” said Shnidman. “This cholesterol reduction is accompanied by weight loss, relative to rats eating a similar high-choelsterol diet without mushrooms. Apparently, cholesterol is excreted by the rats in sufficient quantity to aid in weight loss.”
Oat bran. A 2004 consumer study conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI, Harleysville, PA) for Nurture, Inc. (Devon, PA), which produces the ingredient OatVantage, found that 63 percent of consumers managing their cholesterol levels prefer oat-based ingredients.
Oat bran is the subject of a health claim authorized by FDA in 1999, and NMI research found that 69 percent of respondents preferred the FDA-permitted health claim, “Helps Lower Cholesterol,” over the model structure-function claim, “Helps Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels.” “This is significant for food, beverage, and dietary supplement manufacturers who want to increase sales by using a more consumer-desired claim on the product label,” said Griff Parker, Nurture CEO.
Plant sterols. Also the subject of an FDA-approved claim for heart health, plant sterols (structurally similar to cholesterol in humans) can block the absorption of cholesterol, according to a number of studies. In an “Ask the Doctor” publication (available online at www.atdonline.org), Decker Weiss, N.M.D. noted that sterols enter the same receptor sites that cholesterol enters on its way to the bloodstream. “The cholesterol, being blocked from absorption, remains in our intestines where it is eventually excreted,” Weiss wrote. General Mills has just introduced Yoplait Healthy Heart, a yogurt high in plant sterols.
Policosanol. A mixture of fatty alcohols derived from sugar cane or beeswax, policosanol has been favorably compared in clinical studies to several types of prescription drugs for managing cholesterol. On its own, policosanol was found in a 1999 study to reduce LDL cholesterol while raising levels of HDL cholesterol.
Probiotics. “Several studies have indicated that consumption of certain cultured dairy products resulted in reduction of serum cholesterol, as well as triglycerides,” wrote Dr. S.K. Dash, president of probiotic manufacturer UAS Laboratories (Eden Prairie, MN), in his Consumer Guide to Probiotics. Among other studies, Dash cited two controlled clinical studies from the VA Medical Center at the University of Kentucky.
“In the first study, fermented milk containing [Lactobacillus] acidophilus was accompanied by a 2.4 percent reduction of serum cholesterol concentration,” he wrote. “In the second study, a different L. acidophilus strain reduced serum cholesterol concentration by 3.2 percent. Since every 1 percent reduction in serum cholesterol concentration is associated with an estimated 2 to 3 percent reduction in risk for coronary heart disease [CHD], regular intake of fermented milk containing an appropriate strain of L. acidophilus has the potential of reducing risk for [CHD] by 6 to 10 percent.”
Dash said his company’s DDS Probiotics contain DDS-1 L. acidophilus, “which has been researched and demonstrated to show cholesterol-lowering effect.”
Psyllium. “Internal cleansing is very important” in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, “especially if you do it with a lot of fiber,” said Sunil Kohli, vice president of Chino, CA-based Health Plus, Inc. The cholesterol-managing ability of fiber in general and psyllium in particular is “very well-established,” he said.
However, Kohli said, “It will probably do you no good if it’s random. It should be done on a regular basis, and it should be supervised. Consulting the doctor or pharmacist is important.”
Soy. The protein in soy “has evidence of lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, based on reviews of studies using over 20 g of soy protein per day,” said Levin. “Soy isoflavones are considered only partly responsible for this effect.”
Sytrinol. A patented proprietary formula derived from natural citrus and palm fruit extracts and containing citrus polymethoxylated flavones and palm tocotrienols, Sytrinol has been shown in clinical trials to improve total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides by up to 30 percent, 27 percent, and 33 percent, respectively. Having just wrapped up Phase III of a long-term trial of Sytrinol, Chicago-based SourceOne Global Partners, which owns the exclusive worldwide license for intellectual property associated with the ingredient, is commencing a study that combines Sytrinol with plant sterols.
Tocotrienols. On its Website discussing the science and benefits of tocotrienols (www.tocotrienol.org), ingredient supplier Carotech Inc. (Edison, NJ) identifies several benefits for blood lipid levels. Tocotrienols, according to the Website, have been shown to “inhibit cholesterol production in the liver, thereby lowering total blood cholesterol;” “[suppress] hepatic HMG-CoA reductase activity [and result in] the lowering of LDL cholesterol levels;” and “inhibit cholesterogenesis by suppressing HMG-CoA reductase.”
With all of this, Levin said, it’s important for retailers to remember that “they are not allowed to discuss diseases and remedies unless there is an approved FDA health claim allowed on the label, as with soy protein and plant sterols. What is allowed are structure-function claims such as ‘cholesterol support,’ ‘promoting normal, healthy circulation,’ ‘homocysteine regulators,’ etc.”
Supplementation is only one tool for managing cholesterol levels, manufacturers pointed out. “Besides nutrition, lifestyle is a key to controlling cholesterol,” Levin said. “Eating a variety of antioxidant-rich foods will prevent the liver from churning out cholesterol as a ‘cheap’ antioxidant. The body uses oxidized cholesterol to patch leaky and damaged blood vessels, so the ability to build healthy collagen is a must, using nutrients like vitamin C, Pycnogenol, rutin, hyaluronic acid, and MSM.
“Don’t forget exercise and stress reduction,” he added. “Stress results in high cortisol levels—usually accompanied by poor blood lipid levels—and a lack of good sleep to produce unhealthy people.” VR
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