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Marijuana for your memory? Study suggests wonder drug can reverse memory loss in older people
May 29, 2017 09:14 AM
Marijuana has been a hot topic for many years, but nothing like it is today. For years, people believed it caused addiction, destroyed brain cells, and many other nefarious results. Yet today, with legalization of this drug becoming ever more popular, many studies are looking into its efficacy for MS, pain, inflammation, anxiety and depression. A recent study indicated it might even help with the memories of elders. In Time we will learn its many benefits, but at the present, its used most for pain.
"The findings showed that marijuana clearly had a positive effect on mature and aging brains, though it has yet to be studied further in humans."
Read more: http://www.naturalnews.com/2017-05-15-marijuana-for-your-memory-study-suggests-wonder-drug-can-reverse-memory-loss.html
7 Benefits Of Raw Eggs
May 26, 2017 07:14 PM
Though some may be turned off by the very thought, there actually is benefits to consuming raw eggs. These benefits run a large spectrum of reasons including additional protein, zinc, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids than cooking eggs. That being said, there are risks of salmonella and other bacteria by cooking raw eggs that need to be considered. If you do decide to make raw eggs a part of your diet, be sure to wash them in warm water first so any bacteria on the shell is destroyed.
Read more: 7 Benefits Of Raw Eggs
Medical News Today: How does the immune system know friend from foe in gut bacteria?
March 21, 2017 02:44 PM
Microorganisms in the human digestive tract are necessary for proper nutrition, metabolism and immune functioning. However, because the human body has mechanisms to destroy pathogens, cooperating scientists in Germany and Italy conducted research as to how the body differentiates between necessary micro-biotic organisms in the gut and detrimental invaders. They found that dendritic cells (DC) act as messengers that either repress immune responses, or promote these responses. When DC are functioning properly, they deliver protein-encoded messages to the immune system that certain types of microorganisms found in the gut are desirable, thus not to be destroyed. However, if DC cease carrying this message, the body will treat the friendly gut microbiota as pathenogenic, causing a number of undesirable symptoms in the human host.
"a type of cell called dendritic cells (DCs) that have evolved two distinctive - and what may appear to be opposite - roles in the human body, in that they can both promote and inhibit immune response."
Read more: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316335.php
Research Proving Cannabis Kills Cancer Cells Safely has been Suppressed Since 1974
March 15, 2017 08:59 AM
In 1974 the NIH working with the DEA sponsored research to prove that cannabis caused destruction of brain cells and suppresses the immune system. The research was cancelled and documents were destroyed when it was found it actually enhanced the immune system as well as destroyed cancer cells. Studies are now being sponsored overseas with promising results. Cannabis, when vapors instead of smoked kills cancer cells and city's off blood supply to the cells. There us even a case if a baby cured if brain cancer without surgery or radiation. Standard oncology treatments kill healthy cells as well as cancer while cannabis kills only cancer cells. The research should be allowed in the US with federal funding.
"After several attempts to get cannabis oil allowed through the court system with many testimonials from those who had been helped, Rick realized this important harsh reality: The cancer industry does not want a cure for cancer."
5 Sure Fire Ways to Know if You Have Hashimoto’s
December 22, 2016 10:59 AM
Hashimoto’s disease is a hypothyroid disorder that is caused by an immune attack on your thyroid. This leads to a generally fatigued and weak feeling that persists longer than expected. It can also affect the health of your hair, your weight, and how you respond to cold environments. So, if you have been feeling rundown for a while and just generally down in the dumps with any of the other above symptoms, it may be time to talk to your doctor to get tested.
"Hashimoto’s is the most common autoimmune thyroid disorder. For a variety of reasons, your immune system sets out to attack your thyroid gland. Over time, the thyroid gland is slowly destroyed"
Does Broccoli Really Fight Cancer?
May 27, 2014 05:23 PM
What is a broccoli?
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli is known to have numerous health benefits within the body. In addition, many studies have proved that broccoli has another element known as sulforaphane that has cancer-fighting properties.
Benefits of broccoli
A recent study by the Oregon State University, suggested that sulforaphane is a powerful antioxidant in broccoli and many other cruciferous vegetables do have the power and the ability to kill cancer cells, thus leaving the prostate cells unaffected.
Sulforaphane is also another potent antioxidant that has the ability to inhibit HDAC enzymes known as histone deacetylase and play a vital role in suppressing tumor-like genes thus making a perfect solution to cancer treatment. HDAC in Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli is known to have numerous health benefits within the body. In addition, many studies have proved that broccoli has another element known as sulforaphane that has cancer-fighting properties.
A recent study by the Oregon State University, suggested that sulforaphane is a powerful antioxidant in broccoli and many other cruciferous vegetables do have the power and the ability to kill cancer cells, thus leaving the prostate cells unaffected.
Sulforaphane is also another potent antioxidant that has the ability to inhibit HDAC enzymes known as histone deacetylase and play a vital role in suppressing tumor-like genes thus making a perfect solution to cancer treatment. HDAC inhibition is another very promising cancer treatment and many researchers have found that it is associated with broccoli. Cancer is often characterized by the inappropriate cell growth, however, HDAC inhibitors has the ability of restoring cells to normalcy in terms of function and thus the most effective cure of cancer.
Other studies have also demonstrated the cancer-fighting ability of the cruciferous vegetables. In the year 2009, Victoria Kirsh., of Toronto Cancer Care Ontario and her team discovered that eating vegetables and fruits in general was associated with the decreased prostate cancer risk, making it one of the best ways of enhancing health. This remarkable compound in broccoli is among the strongest anti-cancer elements in the body.
It is important to recall that you cook your broccoli in the best way possible since this will preserve the elements that helps in fighting cancer. In addition, Broccoli has myrosinase that helps in the formation of sulforaphane. You need to remember that Myrosinase is an element that can be destroyed through overcooking the broccoli. You should only steam it for 2 to 4 minutes. In conclusion, the above information should convince on the incredible ability to cure the cancer cells that are found within the body.
How Does Artemisinin Boost Your Health?
November 22, 2013 10:15 PM
What is Artemisinin?
Artemisinin also known as Ching hao su is a herbal medicine that is extracted from wormwood herb. Asians have been using this leaf for many years to treat simple ailment such as parasitic infections and cold. However, it has recently become very useful for its effect on malaria. The herb has been used to treat parasitic infections, mainly worms and flukes that strain our body not only on feeding them but also in excreting their waste & by-products. Malaria is caused by such a parasite and artemisinin has proved to be effective solution.
Artemisinin and Malaria
The plant contains a chemical known as Endoperoxide Bridge that reacts with iron to form free radical which is unwelcomed in our body. Nevertheless, malaria parasites have high level of iron that reacts with artemisinin to form free radicals that kill off the parasite. This has become the best cure for malaria since the parasites that cause it have developed mutant to many cures and they are not resistant to the endoperoxide.
What are Other Benefits of Artemisinin?
For other application is in the fight against cancer. Different cancers such as colon cancer and leukemia that involve iron rich cells can be destroyed by artemisinin by the same mechanism that kills off malaria parasites. Cancer cells are known to accumulate iron because they need it in cell division process. However, if you’re using artemisinin for treatment of cancer cells, it is important not to eat antioxidant containing supplements or foods because this drug work by creating free radicals that destroy cancer cells, antioxidant activity is known to counter these free radicals.
If you are suffering from intestinal parasites, then taking a gram or two each day will keep them off. This supplement is also effective when you are dealing with cough, cold and other general conditions but is more effective in the ones that cause fever. The Chinese have been using it as a form of “cure all” when specific remedies fail.
Does CLA Help With Weight Loss?
November 21, 2012 03:27 PM
Millions of people are suffering due to obesity. Obesity brings along various diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, joint problems, and much more. It seems everywhere you look, you will finds over weight people. If you are overweight, you already know how difficult it is to lose weight. Wouldn't it be great if you can get some help in this endeavor? Now you can easily increase the amount of weight you can lose by just popping a pill.
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) Benefits
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a good fatty acid that is very important for your body metabolism. When you supplement your diet with significant amount of CLA, it can increase your body metabolism and the rate at which your body burns fat. However, you must keep in mind that these supplements work only when you follow a strict exercise and diet regime. The reason why CLA works is because it has an ability to disrupt the process of fat storage in human body. The storage of fast cells adds pounds to one's weight and within a short time, one becomes obese.
These fat cells stubbornly holds onto their fat stores and it becomes very difficult to get rid of this abdominal fat. CLA has the ability to move this fast and convert them into muscle cells where they are burned off during exercises. Once fat cells have been destroyed, it prevents the rebound weight gain. All fat calories are directly sent to muscles for being burned away and are not stored as fasts.
In fact, regular intake of CLA can easily maintain a prefect balance between body fast and muscles. However, you must keep in mind that you won't get immediate results by taking CLA supplements. For instance, if you are 60 pounds overweight, then you cannot lose 40 pounds in a month. These supplements can show results when you take them on long term basis and combine it with workouts.
A good CLA supplement can make the difference when you are interested in getting rid of your excess fat. Add this supplement to your diet and follow an exercise routine and within a short time you will notice a considerable difference in the way you look and feel.
The Health Benefits Of Taking Spirulina
June 26, 2012 09:18 PM
Spirulina is a food supplements which has more than twice the quantities of protein than beef thus making it a great source of proteins especially to people who do not use beef such as vegetarians and those who are restricted by medical reasons amongst others. The supplement derives its name from the fact that it is made from a green-blue algae which do well in alkaline waters and goes by the same name. Beside proteins, Spirulina also contains other important minerals which include vitamin B12, gamma linolic acid (GLA), beta-carotene and chlorophyll. The supplement is popular amongst many people with health problem or those who wish to maintain their good health because it has several health benefits.
Strengthening the immune system
Several studies have proofed that Spirulina have the necessary components that assists in boosting the body's immune system. Some of the vital components that play a significant role in improving the body's immune system include the gamma-linoleic acid which is also found in breast milk. This justifies the ability of the acid to boost immune system since in breast milk it helps children to obtain and boost the already existing immune systems. Hence the supplement is ideal to be used by people who have health conditions that reduce their immune levels.
Reduce chances of contracting several forms of cancer
Spirulina is also rich in beta-carotene which has been traditionally known as amongst the primary substances that can significantly reduce chances of developing cancer. This means that if the supplement is properly used, then the people using it have significantly lower chances of getting several forms of cancer. Consequently, it is very popular amongst people who are more prone of getting cancer because of various reasons such as genetic reasons and working in conditions that might increase chances of getting cancer amongst others.
Increasing body energy
Spirulina is also endowed with components which play a significant role in improving the general body energy. The particular nutrient that plays this role is vitamin B12 which is recognized and established as a critical source of body energy. Furthermore, the vitamin from this supplement is superior when compared with those from other supplements since it is not readily destroyed by stomach acid since it is derived from a substance which can endure and survive even in harsh conditions. Thus Spirulina is an ideal supplement to be used for fatigue since it is almost guaranteed to provide the necessary body energy.
Spirulina is also ideal to be used by people who do extensive exercises and activities which might require long endurance such as athletes. This is because the supplement is rich in proteins and carbohydrates which are known to rebuild worn out muscles and also provide the much needed energy from the carbohydrate components to people who might need to withstand tiring activities for long. The most appropriate time to use the supplement with aims of deriving the endurance benefits is just before starting the exercise so that it can work during the exercises. Hence Spirulina is an ideal supplement for people who might want to derive its various benefits.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Nattokinase?
May 12, 2012 07:41 AM
Did you know that nattokinase was first found in traditional Japanese cuisine? And that it has been proven to be very helpful in fighting heart related complications among other health problems? Well, heart attacks and heart related complications are ranked among the top killer diseases in the country today. Around 700,000 people are believed to die as a result of strokes annually. Concern has been increasing over the ever falling heath condition of the population. Some of the major causes of heart related complications are:
Taking foods that have a very high content of fat and bad cholesterol
Taking food with high levels of salt
Inherited heart related complications
Among the three, the first two are the most common causes. But it is possible that the source of the problem is also the solution. Most health professionals are nowadays recommending the inclusion of nattokinase in the daily diet to combat heart disease.
So what exactly is nattokinase?
This is a very powerful enzyme that is extracted from fermented soy bean food products. It is believed to have the benefit of reducing clotting of blood in the vessels. It also promotes the creation of healthy fibrin. It is also known to provide relief for joint inflammation. If you consume huge amounts of food that is high in cholesterol, it forms a substance called plaque in your arteries. This is what causes clots, leading to heart attacks. Nattokinase works by breaking down the plaque and also dissolving any clots. Thus, it actively prevents heart attacks.
The health benefits associated with nattokinase
It is believed to actively improve the digestive system.
This is because it breaks down unwanted proteins in the gut, leaving your digestive system very healthy. It also breaks down unwanted toxins in the blood. Such toxins include cellular debris found in the blood. When the blood is cleansed, absorption and metabolism improve, and the result is a healthy person.
It helps normalize blood pressure.
High blood pressure is often caused by clogged arteries and veins. It can also be as a result of high levels of toxins in the blood. As said earlier, this enzyme breaks down the plaque that clogs arteries. As a result, blood flows more freely in the vessels and the pressure goes down. It also cleanses any toxins in the blood, normalizing the blood pressure. It has been proven to lower systolic blood pressure by up to 10.9%.
It aids the increased production of plasmin.
This is the body's natural mechanism of fighting clots. Studies have shown that nattokinase is four times more active in preventing clots than plasmin. Animals with clots are observed to heal four times faster when injected with the enzyme than when given plasmin.
It helps in the prevention of varicose veins, muscle spasms and pains.
Varicose veins are caused by weak or damaged valves in the blood vessels. Valves get destroyed when too much pressure is applied on them. This enzyme works by removing clots and thus lowering blood pressure. As a result, valves are not overworked to the point of getting destroyed.
If you are interested in staying healthy, then it is wise to have this enzyme in your diet. Nattokinase will help you fight heart related complications. As a result, you will enjoy a longer healthier life.
What Are the Health Benefits Of Collagen Tablets?
April 10, 2012 06:57 AM
Collagen is one of the most important components involved in the formation of your body's ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscles. As you get older, your body's ability to manufacture the required amount of collagen becomes lesser. Collagen tablets covers up for it by helping maintain the repair process. These tablets also have different benefits that you should consider and these benefits re given below:
Improves blood circulation: this happens because collagen tablets improve the elasticity of blood vessels, making them stronger and this improved blood flow.
It enhances healing of injuries: when our bodies cannot provide sufficient nutrients required to repair the body tissues, these tablets compensate for the loss. The structure of the bones, cartilages and other parts are also strengthened by this. It encourages the regeneration of muscle mass making recovery after sport related injuries faster.
Keep Arthritis pains at bay: the disease associated with joint inflammation and painful mobility around the areas is referred to as Arthritis. Collagen tablets work at reducing this pain making movement around the joints more comfortable.
Reduces the appearance of cellulite: when fatty tissues find way to the upper layers of the skin, dimples often occur. This is referred to as Cellulite. These tablets reduce this occurrence by rebuilding the destroyed fibres that allow cellulite to appear.
Helps in reducing wrinkles: when our bodies no longer produce collagen, certain lines form on the places that move most, like our foreheads and joints. This is referred to as wrinkles. The tablets work by increasing the suppleness of the skin.
Improves the hair structure: these tablets fight free radicals which often affect the texture and growth of our hair. Replacing this component in the shaft of your hair will give your hair better appearance.
It is advisable to start taking these tablets from as early as thirty years as this will prevent the onset of the above conditions. It also makes your skin look younger by preventing wrinkles. One should use these tablets because its absorption occurs naturally through the blood stream, making it possible for your body to decide its destination. If you are an athlete, this is just the thing for you as it facilitates the healing of wounds making it possible for you to be back on the field within a short time. The tablets can help soften your stiff joints if you find it hard to exercise because of that. If acne is your problem, then you won't have to worry, because this drug works with your skin's keratin to produce the best results ever. It is also said to have an effect in weight loss.
One thing that you should note is that collagen tablet works best on an empty stomach, so for the best results, take it early in the morning or before meals. These tablets are cheap and easy to find. They contribute greatly to your health and overall appearance. Now that you know, take that short trip to the nearest chemist and take control of your future life! Collagen tablets are a good way to start.
Herbs For Depression: Alternative Solutions To Improve Your Mood
February 17, 2012 07:29 AM
What Herbs Can Help With Depression?
Depression - Introduction:
Depression is brain system disorders that can make many people weaken from functioning normally during episodic events. Some types of depression actually paralyze people and prevent them from leading a normal life.
In addition, it is important for individuals who suffer from depression to realize, that they do not have to hide this condition and think that they suffer alone. In fact, many people have some form of depressive disorder. Something must be done is to take action to reduce their depression treatment.
Depression - Herbs That Can Help Reduce:
Depression and anxiety are very common in the modern world, and there is no single drug offers an effective cure. However, there are many herbal remedies that can help you reduce depression:
1. St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum).
St Johns Wortis a eternalcompoundwith littleyellow flowers that originally came from Europe, but also widely used intoAmerican. It is used extensively by European physicians to reducedepression. Two compounds, hypericin and hyperforin, give St. John's Wort potencyto keepmood and fight depression. St. John's Wort also contains flavonoids and proanthoclanidin substances that can affect the peace and balance to the nervous system.
Valerian is the most popular herbs to relieve nervous tension. Sedative effect was first recognized in the seventeenth century, and since then enjoyed a long history of safe use effectively. Research believe that valerian binds to GABA receptors, which produces lower levels of anxiety. This does not completely eliminate anxiety, just change the way that the brain and your body reacts physiologically and give peace to the nervous system.
3. Kava kava.
Kava kava is a plant found in the Pacific Islands. The roots and bark are usually used as a slurry and then combined with cold water to drink. Due to the active compounds in Kava kava, a chemical known as kavalactone, destroyed by high temperatures, use cold or warm water is very important in its preparation. And studies have suggested a correlation between active ingredients and enhanced mood. To be specific, Kava Kava is estimated to have a relaxing impactand reduce fatigue in the human brain.
4. Ginkgo Biloba.
Ginkgo Biloba is the oldest tree used by China to treat various diseases. In the 1700's it has been introduced in Europe. Ginkgo Biloba is mainly composed of active components such as terpene lactones and flavnonoids, which gives a positive effect on mental well-being. With capabilities that are known to increase blood circulation to the brain, this herb has also decreasethe amount of free radicals in the body and brain, so it appears relaxation that can reduce stress or depression.
5. Lavender Oils.
Lavender is a very popular herbal aroma is mainly due to growing importance as a beautiful and essential oils. The smell of lavender oil can stimulate the nerves that send signals to the brain limbic system, which spur the peace and comfort to the physiological function of human emotional. Lavender has been believed by experts to help relieve anxiety, tension, stress and fear that are part of depression.
6. Lemon Balm.
Lemon Balm serves to inhibit the production of thyroid hormones and can help treat primary or secondary brain diseases and to provide a stimulant for the antioxidant that gives relief to your brain space. Some modern studies have found that lemon balm is useful for promoting sleep quality and reduce the effects of depression tranquility.
Chamomile is a very popular herb in Europe and has been widely used for centuries agoas a treatment for some diseases, such as sleep disorders, stress, anxiety, and depression. Other active compositions including flavonoids and matricinid which gives a feeling of relaxation and regulate the nervous system. Now it has proven to be one of the safest herbs on the market to relieve stress.
Although the use of herbs for depression is widely spread, overall there is definitely reaction for the benefits of herbs for reduce depression disorders. Apparent when compared with normally drugs for depression that usually can not serve as the first choice of treatment options. However, when other treatments have failed more established, might have to be used.
What is Vitamin K Good For?
February 15, 2012 10:05 PM
Understanding Vitamin K
Vitamin K can be found in different forms, Phylloquinone is vitamin k1 and it is found in plants. Vitamin k2 is referred to as Mena Quinone and is produced by the intestinal bacteria. It can also be obtained from purified fish. The synthetic version of this mineral is called Menadione.
The role of the mineral is to aid in the blood clotting functions. When there is a deficiency, the production of prothrombin and various clotting factors is reduced. With time a person begins showing signs of hemorrhage.
The human body is incapable of synthesizing the mineral so you need to get it from dietary sources. The intestinal bacteria produce it as a metabolic by product. It is hard for someone to suffer from a deficiency since the vitamin is available from so many sources.
Vitamin K Stability
Since it is water soluble and heat stable there is no risk of leeching or inactivation during cooking. However, strong acids and alkalis have a destructive effect on the substance. Even though gamma irradiation is used to prolong the shelf life of food it inactivates the mineral.
Bile has to be present in order for the vitamin to be absorbed by the body. Lipoproteins in the bloodstream are responsible for transporting it to the liver. When it gets to the liver it is in is inactive form. A reductase is needed in order to revert it into its active state.
How Vitamin K Is Made
Normal intestinal bacteria are usually destroyed by prolonged use of antibiotics. This means that the body is unable to synthesize the mineral. The patient is put on supplements so as to prevent hemorrhagic tendencies. When a person is taking the supplements they are administered via intravenous or intramuscular injections. In some cases people are asked to take the supplements orally.
During the first weeks of their lives babies can suffer from hemorrhagic conditions due to a deficiency in vitamin k. in order to prevent this from happening, the infants are routinely injected with natural minerals at the time of birth depending on their weight. Medical practitioners do not use the synthetic version because it is toxic to babies.
A person suffering from a deficiency of vitamin k has certain symptoms such as excessive bleeding, less active prothrombin in their blood, their blood takes long to clot and if they are newborns they suffer from hemorrhagic episodes. There are a number of medical conditions and treatments that can cause a deficiency.
If you have a medical condition that interferes with the absorption of fats in the intestines then you could suffer from a deficiency of vitamin k. some of the conditions that lead to the problem include obstructive jaundice, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disorders and diarrhea. When you have any one of these conditions your body is unable to absorb the vitamin.
You can also suffer from a deficiency if you use mineral oil as laxatives. The vitamin usually attaches itself to the oil droplets in your intestines instead. The body is unable to absorb it so it is excreted in the feces. People are usually discouraged from using mineral oil to cure constipation because of this reason.
How Fast Does Acidophilus Capsules Work?
October 13, 2011 03:16 PM
Acidophilus And Colon Health
The body contains a normal flora of good microorganisms which is helpful not only in protecting the body from harmful microorganisms but also in the production of several body fluids and enzymes required for its many biological processes. One of the areas of the body which has an abundant number of good bacteria is the digestive tract. As many health experts claim, “Good digestion largely depends on a healthy digestive tract”.
However, these floras of good bacteria in the stomach and intestine can be easily depleted under certain circumstances which include excessive stress and antibiotic therapy. In antibiotic therapy, it is not only the bad bacteria that are destroyed but also the good ones. Antibiotics will greatly lower the population of good bacteria in the stomach and intestine. Under stressful conditions, the good bacteria may be gradually destroyed by the bad bacteria inside the digestive system and since the body is under stress, it cannot produce enough number of good bacteria which can outnumber the bad bacteria. Good thing, there are supplements which can increase the number of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. These are called probiotics. One of the most common probiotics is Lactobacillus acidophilus. This is effective in adding more good microorganisms in the digestive tract thus helping in the maintenance of a healthy and reliable intestinal flora.
Lactobacillus acidophilus consists of billions of live good bacteria which can greatly help in promoting healthy digestive system and good digestion. Most studies revealed that the improvement of digestion would be apparent about a week or two. Probiotics supplements can be used everyday and can be taken together with prebiotic supplements. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are not live cultures of good bacteria but are supplements to help the existing good bacteria inside the digestive tract to produce more good bacteria. The two can effectively work hand in hand to improve digestion.
Lactobacillus acidophilus can help defend the body against harmful microorganisms. When it is used by the body, its by–product called hydrogen peroxide can make an unfriendly environment for bad bacteria. This toxic environment helps kill and eliminate bad bacteria thus maintaining the health of the digestive system. Lactobacillus acidophilus can also produce certain enzymes which can be helpful in the breakdown and absorption of food nutrients which are essential to the human body. The best widely – known source of Lactobacillus acidophilus is yogurt. It is easily discernible because of its sour taste due to its lactic acid content produced by the billions of Lactobacillus acidophilus. Other food products which are considered as good source of Lactobacillus acidophilus are sauerkraut, kefir, aged cheese and many other fermented products. Lactobacillus acidophilus is also available in the form of pill supplements. One pill approximately has an amount of three billion live cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus depending on the brand you purchase for internal use.
If you have ever been on antibiotics, you should be taking acidophilus daily!
What Is The Effect Antibiotics Have On Babies And How Does Acidophilus Help?
October 11, 2011 12:21 PM
Normally, the human body has its own collection of microorganisms which help protect the body from harm microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and the like. The “friendly” or “good” bacteria in the body may be situated on the skin, mucous membranes, digestive tract, reproductive tract and other parts of the body which need a normal flora of good bacteria for protection and enzyme production.
However, these normal floras of microorganisms may become depleted under certain condition such as extreme exposure to stress, poor diet and antibiotic therapy. When babies are infected with harmful microorganisms, antibiotics may be of great help to destroy the invading microorganisms. However, when a person is under antibiotic therapy, it is not only the bad bacteria that are killed but also the good bacteria naturally inhabiting in the human body. The normal floras of the intestines, mouth, and vaginal tract and even on the skin are destroyed as well.
The intention of antibiotic therapy is good. However, it is inevitable that the good microorganisms which are normally residing in the body will be destroyed as well. Among babies, when antibiotics are given and the good bacteria of the body are destroyed, the body has an increased susceptibility to allow the overgrowth of yeast which can lead the baby to suffer from diarrhea and anal or oral thrushes.
Indeed, the normal flora of microorganism may be depleted due to antibiotic therapy. Good thing is that there are available supplements formulated to increase the population of these good bacteria inside the body. These are called probiotics. One most common and useful probiotic is Lactobacillus acidophilus. This is a good strain of bacteria which helps in improving intestinal health by enhancing the growth of intestinal flora. Babies are usually given with Lactobacillus acidophilus supplement to help the baby’s body repopulate the normal flora of good microorganisms, thus helping in the prevention of yeast overgrowth and infections.
Lactobacillus acidophilus can be acquired from fermented products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and kefir. And with its great benefit to human health, Lactobacillus acidophilus is now made available in the form of supplements. You can purchase Lactobacillus acidophilus supplements in powder form for infants. The powder may be applied on the nipples of breastfeeding mothers before every nursing session. The baby will then consume the Lactobacillus acidophilus together with the breast milk. For working mothers who just leave breast milk at home or use formula milk for feeding, Lactobacillus acidophilus may be mixed with the expressed breast milk or formula milk making the probiotic available for the baby. Usually, one teaspoon of Lactobacillus acidophilus powder is mixed into an 8 ounce of milk. For babies who can already eat solid foods, they may consume unflavored and unsweetened yogurt which is rich in live and active Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Doctors and many health experts highly recommend that it is practical to administer antibiotic medications one to two hours before giving the baby probiotic food or supplements. This is to avoid killing of the probiotics given and allowing the body to get the maximum benefit of the probiotic.
When Should Probiotics Be Taken?
October 04, 2011 02:00 PM
Probiotics are digestive bacteria which are naturally present in the gastric environment. This type of bacteria is necessary for the proper digestion of food as well as absorption of nutrients. Clinical studies have shown that the digestive tract must contain at least 10 to 15 % good bacteria to have a healthy digestion. In addition, trace amount of bad bacteria is also present inside the digestive tract. This is also important for digestion because these bacteria produce essential enzymes that aid digestion and absorption.
The most popular probiotics is called Lactobacillus acidophilus. This kind of bacteria produces lactic acid inside the stomach when they reproduce. Lactic acid increases the acidity of the gastric environment thus enhancing digestion. The acidity of the digestive tract also helps protect the stomach and intestines from overgrowth of harmful microorganisms such as yeasts, spores, molds and bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella.
The population of good bacteria in the digestive tract is depleted when the individual is on antibiotic therapy or under prolonged stress. Antibiotics are non – selective. This means that they do not only kill the harmful microorganisms but also the good ones. Good thing probiotics can be obtained from the diet such as yogurt, buttermilk, kefir and other fermented products. In addition, probiotics can also be provided by supplements. Therefore, when the person is to have an antibiotic therapy, the physician usually prescribes probiotic supplement to replenish the digestive tract with the killed good bacteria.
Moreover, if probiotics are prescribed, another form of supplement may also be recommended to aid the activity of probiotic supplements. These are called prebiotics which are considered to be fibers, either soluble or insoluble. These prebiotics does not increase the number of good bacteria in the digestive tract. Prebiotics serve as food for good bacteria thus making them healthy and strong against bad bacteria. Sources of prebiotics include fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains.
Other health benefits of probiotics are that it can enhance the health of the immune system and boost the intestinal barrier function. Probiotics also lessen the development of allergies to food and drugs. For lactose – intolerant individuals, yogurts with live and active cultures of lactobacillus acidophilus are recommended to relieve its disturbing symptoms. In addition, probiotics also has an anti – diarrheal property and at the same time helps in the regulation of normal bowel movement.
A good probiotic supplement must have at least ten million live bacteria. Experts also stressed that the good bacteria contained in a supplement must be that of the Lactobacillus strains. This family of bacteria is the only considered group of good bacteria which is strong enough to reach the intestines, bypassing the acidic environment of the stomach. Another helpful tip on what a good probiotic supplement must be is that the product must be guaranteed organic. Organic probiotics ensure that the bacteria are in its natural and live state and have not been destroyed with heat and strong chemicals during processes. Experts also suggest that you must choose those probiotic supplements in which the source is from organic vegetables.
How Oregano Oil Protects Your Digestive System
June 10, 2011 12:08 PM
Oregano oil protects your digestive system in several different ways, although each of these are generally due to its antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant properties, and oregano also displays strong anti-parasitic properties. In fact it is for that last property that many take it and even apply it externally to their skin.
However, apart from killing off intestinal parasites such as worms, oregano oil stimulates the excretion of digestive juices when take taken orally, and helps to alleviate a number of digestive problems. Tapeworm and round worm are destroyed by the mixture of active constituents, and it is effective in killing of the E. Coli bacteria and also Giardiasis, an infection that causes diarrhea that is also known a 'beaver fever'.
Other than that, oregano oil also offers many benefits when applied topically, and it is generally used to treat a number of common conditions that if left untreated could leave you with some very unpleasant side effects.
Best Digestive Supplements
December 08, 2010 05:30 PM
When you need to decide on a digestive enzyme supplement, it's important to know that not all of them are created equally. Some may contain more of one ingredient than the other and some might only contain one of three groups of enzymes. A leading digestive enzyme complex was studied to see what ingredients will provide your digestive system with the best possible support. Following is the ingredients of possibly the best digestive supplement you can get your hands on.
The first ingredient found in this complex is protease. This enzyme breaks down long protein chains at different levels of your stomach's pH level.
Amylase is another enzyme found in this complex. It breaks down large carbs like starches into disaccharides and glucose for your body's energy levels.
Lipase, another ingredient of the best digestive supplement, breaks down the fats you consume into fatty acids and glycerol. Cerecalase, another great ingredient, is a blend of enzymes which breaks down the cell wall bonds of nutrients such as phytate and hemicelluloses.
Glucoamylase breaks down maltose into glucose, malt diastase enhances the breakdown of starch and peptidase hydrolyzes protein molecules into amino acids.
More ingredients include bromelain - extracted from pineapple stems, papain extracted from papaya; another enzyme which helps to digest proteins and a last ingredient, cellulase, which breaks down the cellulose and glucose found in fiber. You might wonder whether these enzymes are being destroyed by your stomach juices, but most of the best digestive supplements' ingredients are processed in such a manner that they can withstand the extreme conditions in your stomach. This myth has been disproven countless of times, so it's not a waste of your money to invest in the best digestive supplements.
When you've taken the best digestive supplements, you can expect to have more energy and have better digestion and bowel movements. It is normal for some people to experience detoxification in the beginning stages of taking these supplements. This might feel uncomfortable but it is a good sign that your body is responding positively to the enzymes. Upping your enzyme intake and drinking a lot of water can help you through the beginning process.
When looking for the best digestive supplement, you should look at the enzyme activity rather than the ingredients. The most important thing is to look out for supplements that are acid stable and able to be active in a broad range of pH levels. Steer clear of any ingredients you might be allergic to, like papain or bromelain. Look for what experts call a broad range digestive supplement. The more enzymes it contains, the wider the range of nutrients it will make your body able to digest. When in doubt, speak to your doctor or pharmacist first. If you have specific digestive problems you should have that looked into before trying such a common remedy.
Probiotics are good for the intestinal tract
October 19, 2010 02:21 PM
Many people confuse prebiotics with probiotics, yet they are as different as night and day. Probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial to your gastrointestinal system, and that are available in various foods such as yoghurts and sauerkraut. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are relatively non-digestible (to humans) foods that enable the probiotics to grow and carry out their intended function.
Basically, probiotics keep your friendly bacteria functional and healthy. The majority take the form of sugary carbohydrates known as oligosaccharides, available from foods such as legumes, fruits and cereal grains. They are not destroyed by digestion, and reach your gut practically unchanged. Although they have relatively little food value to us, they certainly do to bacteria that break them down into the nutrients needed for their growth and development.
Without taking prebiotics, these probiotics would be of little benefit to you because they would have nothing to live on. They don't eat the same foods as you, and the myth that they digest the same food that you eat is just that - a myth! ~facebook~
Vitamins and Herbs
April 03, 2009 02:52 PM
The whole human body is made up of cells that contain their own genetic material. In a healthy body, these cells divide at a controlled rate, growing and repairing damaged tissues and replacing dying cells. This predetermined rate of cell division is what keeps our bodies healthy. If cells keep multiplying when new ones are not necessary, a mass of tissue, often known as a tumor, is formed. This tumor can be either benign or malignant.
Benign tumors are not cancerous and can occur anywhere in the body. Benign tumors do not cause a threat to health, do not metastasize, and do not grow back if removed. Malignant tumors are cancerous and are usually serious. Often times, they can be life-threatening. Malignant tumors grow uncontrollably, interfere with normal metabolic and organ functioning, and have the ability to metastasize and invade other tissues. If a portion of a cell’s DNA is damaged, the cell can become abnormal. When an abnormal cell divides, it forms new cells that are a photocopy of the damaged genetic material. This ongoing process occurs constantly within our bodies. The majority of the time our bodies have the ability to destroy these abnormal cells and maintain a sort of cellular equilibrium. If a crucial part of the DNA is destroyed and the abnormal cells cannot be controlled any longer, cancer forms. All cancer cells have two things in common: growing uncontrollably and having the ability to metastasize. The immune system does not recognize cancer cells as dangerous or foreign.
Although the exact cause for the cell damage that initiates the cancer process is unknown (theoretically free radical damage causes DNA damage), the chain of events that leads to cancer is very complex, and each individual body reacts differently. It is a combination of genetic, behavioral, environmental, and lifestyle factors that are thought to be involved in turning normal cells into abnormal cells, and abnormal cells into cancer.
There are also factors that are believed to slow the process, while other factors can speed up the process. Possible contributors to the development and growth of cancer can be divided into three categories: external, internal, and lifestyle. External factors include unhealthy workplace environments and exposure to air and water pollution, chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides. Included in the internal factors include both genetics and infections. Lifestyle factors are those we personally can most readily control, such as diet, smoking, drinking, and sun exposure. External and lifestyle factors account for 80 percent of cancer deaths in the United States.
Just as each of us looks different, each of our bodies has its own unique composition. Some of us may react adversely to what some of us react well to. This is why some treatments prove to be successful for some, but not for others. This is why dietary wellness and prevention is so important. If we can keep our bodies healthy and avoid known cancer-causing agents, we have a good defense against cancer in the first place.
The following nutrients and supplements are designed for persons who have been diagnosed with cancer, as well as for those who wish to enhance their chances of avoiding the disease: coenzyme Q10, colostrum, DMG, garlic, IP6, melatonin, MSM, proteolytic enzymes, selenium, 7-keto DHEA, shark cartilage, SOD, vitamin A, shiitake extract, acidophilus, chromium picolinate, flaxseed oil, grape seed extract, kelp, l-carnitine, multienzyme complex, a multi-mineral complex, multivitamin complex, NAC, raw glandular complex, taurine, and vitamin B complex. Additionally, the following herbs may be beneficial: astragalus, birch, burdock root, cat’s claw, chaparral, chuchuhuasi, cranberry, dandelion, Echinacea, fennel, green tea, licorice root, macela, milk thistle, parsley, pau d’arco, red clover, suma, cardamom, cayenne, ginger, rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric, ragwort, wood sage, curcumin, essiac, noni, olive leaf extract, rosemary, and boswellia.
All of the above listed herbs and vitamins can help restore the body to good nutrition and help boost the immune system so the body can find and fight back against cancer. Natural vitamins and herbs are available at your local or internet health food store. When purchasing supplements, look for name brand vitamins like Solaray and Source Naturals to ensure you receive quality and you get what you pay for.
*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Natural vitamins and herbs are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.
March 29, 2009 10:08 AM
Constipation occurs when one has difficulty passing stools, or infrequently passes hard, dry stools. This is the result of food moving extremely slowly through the large intestine. From time to time, most people experience constipation. However, lifestyle changes and better eating habits can help to relieve the symptoms and prevent recurrences. Constipation usually results from insufficient amounts of fiber and fluids in the diet. Fiber can be found in plant foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber that is water-soluble takes on a soft texture and is helpful in softening the stools. Insoluble fiber goes through the large intestine unchanged and is helpful in adding bulk to the stools to stimulate bowel contractions.
Other factors that can cause constipation include inadequate exercise, advanced age, muscle disorders, structural abnormalities, bowel diseases, neurogenic disorders, and a poor diet, especially a heavy consumption of junk food. Constipation can also be a side effect of iron supplements and some drugs, like painkillers and antidepressants. It is also common during pregnancy. High levels of calcium and low levels of thyroid hormone can also lead to constipation. Those with kidney failure are also prone to having problems with constipation. Constipation is often caused by dehydration in older individuals, with depression being a factor in people of any age. Some medications, like cough syrups, pain medications that contain codeine, antidepressants, iron supplements, blood pressure and heart medicines, calcium supplements, and some antihistamines can also cause constipation.
A small percentage of people with spinal injuries and other similar problems have constipation because the nerves that usually regulate bowel movement have been damaged or destroyed. A condition referred to as Hirshsprung’s disease makes the normal excretion of feces impossible because the nerves inside the bowel are missing. The nerve cells in the colon can also be damaged by long-term use of laxatives, which makes constipation inevitable. A thrombosed hemorrhoid, anal fissure, or a pocket of infection at the anus can create a spasm of pain that is strong enough to contract the muscles and prevent the evacuation of stools.
Constipation can cause a variety of other ailments such as appendicitis, bad breath, body odor, coated tongue, depression, diverticulitis, fatigue, gas, headaches, hemorrhoids, hernia, indigestion, insomnia, mal-absorption syndrome, obesity, and varicose veins. It may even be involved in the development of other serious diseases like bowel cancer. It is important to have regular bowel movements in order to remove toxins from the body. Toxins from bowel bacteria and undigested food particles play a part in the development of diabetes mellitus, meningitis, myasthenia gravis, thyroid disease, candidiasis, chronic gas and bloating, migraines, fatigue, and ulcerative colitis. People can have bowel movements as infrequently as three times a week and still not be constipated, but there are some health practitioners that believe that it is important to have a bowel movement every day.
The following nutrients are very helpful in dealing with and preventing constipation: garlic, vitamin C with bioflavonoids, apple pectin, chlorophyll liquid, essential fatty acids, a multi-enzyme complex, a multivitamin and mineral complex, vitamin B complex, vitamin D3, vitamin E. Additionally, the following herbs are also beneficial: alfalfa extract, fennel seed, aloe vera, ginger, milk thistle, triphala, cascara sagrada, goldenseal, rhubarb root, senna leaves, and yerba mate.
Adding a good fiber supplement as well as the above mentioned supplements can help one stop constipation and start normal bowel movements again. Natural fiber, vitamins, and herbs are available at your local or internet health food store. Look for name brands such as Source Naturals, Solaray, Kal, Planetary Formulas, and Natures Plus to ensure quality and safely of all your natural supplement needs.
*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Vitamins, herbs, and fibers are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.
Huperzine And Memory
December 04, 2008 01:20 PM
Chinese club moss goes by the name Huperzia serrata, and gives its name to the sesquiterpene alkaloid it contains: huperzine A. This alkaloid has been found to be a superstar in the arena of brain-saving treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer's and age-related senility. Studies in China have found up to 60% improvements in the cognitive functions of such patients, and its potential has been recorded in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This is no mere folk remedy, and is the subject of serious study.
Known as Qian Ceng Ta, Chinese club moss has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries for the treatment of fever and inflammation, which is not surprising considering that most plants contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. However, what is unusual is the fact that it has also been found effective in treating some forms of dementia and depression, and also helps to reduce the incidence of panic attacks in those susceptible to them.
Not only that, but the plant has been found to possess diuretic properties, and a reduction in the swelling associated with water retention could also help to reduce the pain and other effects of swelling and inflammation. However, for now it is its effect on the brain that we are concerned, and research has indicated the likely mechanism by which huperzine A works.
Huperzine is an enzyme inhibitor - specifically inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase that breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in the processes of memory, learning and mood. Outside the brain, it is involved in the movement of skeletal muscle tissue as well as in the regulation of cardiac and other smooth muscles such as those of the blood vessels.
When acetylcholinesterase (AChE) attacks acetylcholine (ACh), the latter attaches to a chemical site on the enzyme where it is then destroyed. It is a deliberate function of the body, designed to terminate a synaptic transmission. The purpose of a neurotransmitter is to allow the transmission of an electrical impulse form one nerve cell to another over a gap between them known as a synapse. Once the transmission has been completed, the enzyme can destroy the neurotransmitter, and then another takes its place. In fact one molecule of AChE can destroy around 5,000 molecules of ACh.
However, with age and for other reasons, these neurotransmitters can become depleted so that it becomes increasingly more difficult for brain cells to communicate with each other, and their destruction becomes undesirable. There are drugs available to help prevent this happening (e.g. donepezil, galantamine and tacrine), and so help to improve the memory and mental function of people as they grow older or contract conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
Huperzine A has been found to take up the site in the acetylcholinesterase molecule that would normally have been used by the acetylcholine, and so save it from destruction. The more Huperzine A molecules present, the more acetylcholine available to pass messages between brain cells, and the stronger the cognitive function of the subject or patient. The pharmaceutical drugs mentioned in the previous paragraph work in exactly the same way.
This is a very specific reaction, one molecule adopting exactly the same space as the other, and has been proved scientifically by comparing the physical shapes of the two molecules. It's just like a jigsaw puzzle, where only one piece can fit into each position. Except here there are two: Huperzine A and acetylcholine both fit into the exact same place in the chemical structure of the acetylcholinesterase molecule.
The biochemistry of the reactions involved is very complex, and shall not be discussed here, but the upshot is that Huperzine A can do exactly the same job as modern drugs to avoid this hydroxylation of the ACh needed for the proper functioning of your brain.
In fact, clinical trials have indicated Huperzine A not only to be comparable in effect to the drugs current used, but also likely safer with respect to the possible side effects. This has still to be confirmed, but the National Institute on Aging is currently carrying out a trial to evaluate this claim in tandem with its effect on Alzheimer's disease. It has also been examined at Harvard University for its effect on epilepsy on patients with whom alternative pharmaceutical treatments have been unsuccessful.
Another suggested benefit of Huperzine A is that it is an NMDA (N-methyl D-aspartate) receptor antagonist that provides protection against damage to the brain by an excess of glutamates, and that it can also help to protect nerve cells from damage. Since NDMA is responsible for the transmission of some types of pain, the antagonist can also act as an analgesic.
There are other benefits that Chinese club moss can provide, and myasthenia gravis is one of them. Although relatively rare, this is a serious condition in which acetylcholine receptors are deactivated on muscle cells. This is achieved through the autoimmune system malfunctioning and creating antibodies against the receptors, and the end result is paralysis and respiratory failure.
Huperzine A reduces the AChE available and so might possibly enable the acetylcholine to work more effectively and delay or even stop the deterioration of muscle function. When people hear of muscle paralysis they frequently forget that breathing requires muscle function, as indeed does your heartbeat. This is currently surmise, and studies are being carried out to determine whether or not this usage of Huperzine A is viable.
Another promising application of Chinese club moss extract is in preventing organophosphate poisoning. These pesticides permanently suppress acetylcholine. This results in seizures due to a lack of interruption of the signals from nerves to muscles. The seizures can result in rapid death from uncontrollable seizures, or from permanent contraction of the diaphragm muscle that allows breathing. Although no human studies have yet been carried out, animals given Huperzine A prior to organophosphate exposure have survived without seizures.
There are no doubts that Chinese club moss and the Huperzine A extracted from it are effective in preventing the suppression of acetylcholine, and in permitting the proper activity of this important neurotransmitter. It is finding an increasing number of potential uses beneficial to the human body, not the least of which would be a partial remedy for some of the effects of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Noni Fruit Extract
November 22, 2008 09:34 AM
Tahitian Noni juice can promote a healthy body in many ways. These Noni benefits are conferred by the phytochemicals contained within the fruit pulp, but before discussing the benefits of Noni let's first have a look at what it actually is.
Morinda citrifolia is also known as the Indian or beach mulberry tree, and is a member of Rubiaceae family. Although it originated in Southeast Asia, it has spread all the way to French Polynesia and the Dominican Republic. It is mainly cultivated in Tahiti for its fruit, known as cheese fruit or Noni fruit.
Although it is a staple food in some areas of the Pacific, it has a pungent smell and a bitter taste, and often eaten either raw or cooked only in times of famine. However, the fruit is particularly rich in phytonutrients, and many people swear by the Noni benefits it to maintain a glowing healthy body, free from disease and many of the health problems from which most people suffer.
The strange thing about it is the taste: you would not drink Tahitian Noni juice by choice, nor eat the fruit, so how were these Noni health benefits discovered? Hunger likely explains it: those forced to eat it through hunger were likely the lucky ones, who actually ate a nutritional diet even though they were eating a fruit normally eaten only in times of famine.
Among the conditions that Noni fruit is believed to protect you from are cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels, asthma, cholesterol, strokes, migraines, a weak immune system, arthritis and some cancers. Many of these conditions should give you a clue as to the nature of the phytochemicals contained within the fruit, since most of them involve free radical attack and immune system response.
Prior to examining thee diseases and conditions in detail, let's have a look at the chemicals the fruit has been established to contain. It is rich in dietary fiber, offering 100% of the Dietary Reference Intakes of the Institute of Medicine for each 100g serving, and also contains enough carbohydrate to meet 55% of you DTI needs. However, that is just the start.
The Noni pulp powder contains ten times the DRI of Vitamin C, and large quantities of Vitamin B3 niacin), potassium and iron. The Tahitian Noni juice itself contains few nutrients, and only the Vitamin C is retained to any useful level. It is therefore the pulp powder that offers the major nutritional benefit. In fact, because it has to be pasteurized at high temperature to meet regulations the for liquid product, Noni juice loses most of its nutritional content, and even the 31% Vitamin C content is surprising since that too is destroyed at high temperatures.
It is the high phytochemical content of Noni powder that renders it such an important supplement, and a scan down the following components will give you an idea of how the fruit got its reputation. The known Noni benefits are obtained from:
Lignans: these are phytoestrogens that have been reported to offer a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancers, osteoporosis and also cardiovascular disease. They possess antioxidant properties and although reports as to their effectiveness are varied, they appear to have beneficial health effects.
Flavanoids: These are phenolics, including asperulodisic acid and rutin. The former is believed to be effective against certain cancers, while rutin, also contained in buckwheat, is a strong antioxidant that strengthens capillaries, and also helps to prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Catechin and epicatechin: strong antioxidants that help prevent heart disease, strokes, diabetes and cancers. It also protects your skin against the harmful effects of the ultra-violet component of the sun's rays. Catechin is a form of flavanoid, and one of the more powerful of the antioxidants needed to destroy the free radicals that would otherwise ravage your body through the destruction of your body cells.
B-Sitosterol: a plant sterol that is believed to reduce the cholesterol in your blood, but still requires scientific proof, even though there is plenty of evidence to support its effect. Plant sterols are the basis of the cholesterol-lowering yoghurt drinks that you can but in your local supermarket.
This list is not exclusive, and there are several other phytochemicals found in Noni pulp powder that are believed to confer significant health benefits, but that are still seeking scientific support. The fact that such support has yet to be provided is not a reason to doubt their effectiveness, although the above benefits are sufficient to justify the reputation of this nutritional supplement that few have heard about.
There have been only around 110 reports on Noni research since the 1950s, so it is not surprising that the scientific proof is weak, although of these around 100 have appeared since the year 2000. Don't forget that there was no proof for the effectiveness of penicillin until it was discovered!
Even the biochemistry of the components of Tahitian Noni juice, such as the polysaccharides not mentioned in the above list, is in the early stages of research, and an increasing number of traditional remedies are being found to have a valid scientific and medical basis. These polysaccharides are a form of dietary fiber with probiotic properties that can be fermented by bacteria in the gut to form short chain fatty acids that possess many beneficial health properties.
Take the heterocyclic iridoids, for example. These are unknown to most people, yet they are found in many plants that have extensive medicinal properties, and might be responsible for many of them. They appear to possess anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antispasmodic properties, and support the cardiovascular system, the immune system and help to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. These are also contained in Noni pulp powder.
Another component of Noni fruit that most people have not heard of is damnacanthal. This inhibits certain tyrosine kinesis that basically have a controlling effect on the division of body cells. They particularly inhibit the Ras genes, responsible for some cancers due to uncontrolled cell division. Damnacanthal can prevent Ras genes from causing these cancers.
There are many more benefits that Tahitian Noni juice, or particularly the powdered Noni pulp, can confer, and it is recommended that it be taken as a supplement by anybody needing a general health tonic since it possesses such a wide variety of beneficial properties. The Noni benefits which those that use it enjoy area available to everyone, even though it is one of the lesser known of the beneficial health supplements.
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.
Green Tea Extract
October 23, 2008 01:43 PM
Green tea is a form of tea made from the leaves of the Carmellia Sinensis, a shrub that is native to China and has spread to other areas of Asia including Japan and the Middle East. Drinking it is believed to impart many health benefits, including the prevention of obesity, heart disease and some forms of cancer and it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 400 years.
Tea is known to have been consumed in China for around 5,000 years, and used, not only in Chinese medicine, but also in that of Japan, Thailand and India for a number of ailments including regulating blood sugar, treating wounds and digestive problems. The drinking of green tea to benefit the heart and other vital organs is described in the Kissa Yojoki (Book of Tea), written in 1191 by Eisai, a Japanese Zen priest.
This two-part book talks about the various medicinal benefits of green tea, such as preventing fatigue, curing beriberi, quenching thirst, clearing the thoughts, maintaining health of the urinary tract and improving digestive problems. It also explains how to grow tea and how to prepare and use the leaves. The methods of treatment of various ailments and medical conditions are described in the second part of the book.
The active ingredients in green tea are catechins, polyphenols with strong anti-oxidant properties. Antioxidants are important components of your diet due to their effect on free radicals. These are small molecules, generally oxygenated, such the superoxide cation and hydrogen peroxide that are generated during normal metabolic processes and also ingested in pollutants such as traffic and factory fumes and insecticides. Free radicals are also formed by the effect of the ultra-violet component of sunlight on your skin and other tissues.
The effect of free radicals on your body can be devastating, and they not only destroy cell membranes but also oxidize such molecules as the low density lipids (LDL) that carry cholesterol around your bloodstream. This allows the LDLs to be absorbed by the white blood cells and then deposited as fatty plaques in the walls of your arteries. The end result is a thickening and hardening of the arteries that leads to a condition known as atherosclerosis, where the blood supply to the brain and heart muscle is restricted, which can in turn lead to strokes and heart disease.
Their effect on your cells is to cause cancer and premature aging, among others, and free radicals are also believed to play a part in conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and also inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and diabetes. They can also cause damage to your DNA.
It is essential, therefore, that these free radicals are destroyed as quickly as they are generated, and that is what antioxidants do. You might be more familiar with the antioxidants Vitamins A, C and E, and phytochemicals such as flavonoids and carotenoids, but there are many substances available to you that are even more powerful such as the polyphenols found in green tea.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most powerful of these with antioxidant properties at least twenty five times that of Vitamin E, and 100 times that of Vitamin C. EGCG comprises around 10-50% of the total catechin content of the tea and studies indicate that it likely helps to protect against DNA damage by free radicals, to protect against oxidation of LDL, provide protection against the damage of ultra-violet radiation and to protect you from the free radicals that are generated by smoking tobacco and general airborne pollution.
There are suggestions that the bioavailability of EGCG can be increased by consuming black pepper when drinking green tea, possibly due to the presence of piperine in the pepper. The piperine appears to retard the intestinal glucuronidation of EGCG and so allow more of it to be absorbed as opposed to excreted. So if you are using green tea for health reasons, spice up your food with a small amount of black pepper - that's all it needs. You don't have to smother your food in it! It should be stressed that these tests were carried out on animals, although the biochemistry involved is much the same.
The oxidation of fat by your metabolism to provide energy is a very important factor in weight control. If the contribution of the fats you ingest to the energy generated by your metabolism is low, then the fats can go on to be deposited in your body. This is not only unsightly, in that it can basically make you look 'fat', but is also dangerous to your health. Fat deposits around your midriff and round the major organs of your body can be extremely damaging and a severe risk to your health.
It has been shown by a recent study in the UK (Birmingham University) that those taking green tree extract displayed a 17% increase in fat oxidation over those given a placebo. Not only that, but the ratio of fat oxidation to the overall energy expenditure showed a similar differential between the study and the control group. This provides evidence of green tea extract being able to control your weight by burning fat, and also to improve the tolerance to glucose and sensitivity to insulin of healthy people.
Many other health claims have been made for green tea extract, although many of these have little, if any, scientific basis. Among these are the claims that it can treat multiple sclerosis and be used to treat cancer, although claims that it can prevent the destruction of cell membranes due to its oxidative effect are supported by the biochemistry, if not the medical proof. There are cases where theoretical biochemistry can explain many of the applications of ancient remedies without needing modern day studies to support it.
Some of the research supporting the green tea theories include:
1. In 2006, a study was announced that had followed over 40,500 Japanese men and women, aged between 40 and 79, that had no history of coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer starting in 1994. It was found that those who drank at least 5 cups of tea per day had a 16% lower risk of dying from any cause and a 26% less risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than those that drank less than one cup of tea each day. Since cardiovascular disease and cancer are the major causes of death world-wide, these are significant results.
2. Again in 2006, it was reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that studies indicated that a higher consumption of green tea was associated with a reduction in human mental impairment when compared to the average.
3. Yale University School of Medicine reported later that year that, in spite of smoking more than their western counterparts, Asians suffered lower rates of cancer and heart disease, and put that down to them drinking over 4 pints of green tea daily. It was the polyphenol content of green tea and its antioxidant effect that was proposed for this result, known commonly as the 'Asian paradox'. A specific reason given for this was the antioxidant effect preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and its subsequent deposition in the artery walls.
4. Another component of green tea is the amino acid L-Theanine that promotes relaxation, and it is believed that this could help to fight stress by inhibiting the excitation of cortical neurons.
There is a lot more evidence for the health benefits of green tea, and once again it appears that the ancients have been proved correct. Perhaps we should pay more attention to ancient remedies, although without the proper evidence much of it is ignored - for the time being at least. Green tea, however, has generally been accepted due to the research and studies carried out on ECGC (Epigallocatechin gallate) and in additional to the traditional form, is also available as a dietary supplement.
Green Coffee Bean Extract
October 22, 2008 04:59 PM
It is known that aging is largely a result of the effect of free radicals on our body cells, and that green coffee bean extract can be used to fight against these. While we intuitively understand what the term ‘aging’ means, very few people can actually describe it in words, although there are several theories of why it occurs.
The most viable of these include the Error Catastrophe Theory, related to faulty molecular transcription and errors in cellular function, the Crosslinkage Theory, in which progressively increasing cross-linking between proteins slows the body functions down, and the Neuroendocrine Theory, in which changes in homeostasis and hormone levels occur through time due to an increasing loss of sensitivity of receptors to feedback inhibition.
However, by far the most acceptable and best understood theory is the Free Radical Theory of Aging, which green coffee beans have been found to help fight, and it is on that which we shall focus here.
The Free Radical Theory of Aging
Free radicals are oxidants created by unpaired electrons. Electrons generally go around in pairs, but occasionally molecules lose one of these electrons, creating a situation where it possesses an unpaired electron. In this condition, that molecule has only one purpose in life and that is to oxidize other molecules by stealing an electron from them.
Oxidation can cause untold damage to cell membranes, and also to other molecules that are vital to life, such as DNA. The end result is aging, and the onset of many diseases and conditions connected with aging. Free radicals are believed to be behind inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and Crohn’s disease, strokes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer among many others. Each of these is associated with aging.
Free radicals are generated in the body in four different ways:
1. Energy is generated by the intercellular mitochondria by the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). By-products of the mechanism by which this is done include hydrogen peroxide, the superoxide anion, and a hydroxyl radical. Over 20 billion molecules of antioxidant are produced in each individual cell daily, and every one of these has the capability to do damage to your body. The figure for inefficient cell metabolism is significantly higher.
2. Peroxisomes are eukaryotic cell components that contain oxidative enzymes, whose function is to produce hydrogen peroxide that is then used by another enzyme, catalase, to oxidize other toxic substances. It is used by the liver, for example, to oxidize about a quarter of all the alcohol we drink to acetaldehyde, and also to remove other toxins from the body. The down side is that the hydrogen peroxide can escape and degrade the cell membranes.
3. Chronic infections give rise to a high activity of white blood cells, which utilize oxidants of various kinds to destroy viruses, bacteria and parasites. These include hydrogen peroxide, superoxide and nitric oxide which can also destroy the cells they are protecting.
4. Cytochrome P450 is an enzyme used to clear the body of toxic chemicals in our food such as pesticides and drugs. They also give rise to oxidative by-products.
In addition to these, free radicals are also produced by air pollution consisting of smoking, factory emissions and traffic fumes. Trace metals such as lead, iron and copper, are rich free radical sources, as is the ultraviolet component of sunlight, and caffeine, from tea and coffee, can also contribute to the store of free radicals in your body.
So where does green coffee extract come into this, and how should it be used. Free radicals tend to react very rapidly to accelerate aging, and in order to counter them, and hold the effects of aging at bay, it is necessary to destroy them almost as quickly as they are produced. This is carried out by antioxidants, of which there must be a plentiful supply available in each body cell.
Antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals, and so effectively neutralize them before they can attack the membranes of the cells in your body, or any of the other tissues that they can degrade. Many of the vitamins have a powerful antioxidant effect, among them vitamins A, C and E. Other antioxidants available in our diet include beta carotene and other carotenoids, flavonoids and glutathione, and also cofactors such as lipoic acid. All of these can destroy free radicals by the donation of an electron.
Green coffee beans have also been found to possess a strong antioxidant effect, due largely to the plant phenols, such as caffeic acid that forms chlorogenic acid with quinic acid, both cholorgenic and caffeic acid being string antioxidants. Green coffee bean extract is standardized to 99% chlorogenic acid. This substances not only reacts rapidly with free oxygen radicals but also helps to prevent to formation of hydroxyl radicals.
It has been established that green coffee bean reacts twice as fast as green tea or grape seed extracts, and speed of reaction is critical in the destruction of free radicals that have to be destroyed before they do damage. Other antioxidants found in extracts of green coffee beans include heterocyclic compounds such as pyrroles, furans and maltol.
The extract is made from beans of Coffea Arabica, this containing higher concentrations of chlorogenic and caffeic acids than the Arabica plant. The extract is also produced to be naturally low in caffeine, thus avoiding the negative effects of drinking coffee for its stimulating properties. When the green coffee bean is roasted, the antioxidant effect is found to decrease, and after roasting and brewing both the Arabica and the Robusta beans have reduced in activity to much the same level.
Studies on some of the conditions exacerbated by free radicals have indicated the effectiveness of green coffee beans as an antioxidant. It is believed to help reduce atherosclerosis caused by the oxidation of low density lipids (LDL). Oxidized LDLs tend to be easily absorbed by phagocytes to form plaques and foam cells in artery walls, thus narrowing and hardening the arteries, causing a deprivation of oxygen and nutrients to the heart and also increased blood pressure. Antioxidants from the green coffee bean prevent this from happening, and so help to reduce this serious effect of aging.
A good supply of antioxidants will also prevent the cell membranes from being destroyed, one effect of which is to age the skin. Antioxidants in the form of green coffee bean extract can help to maintain a youthful appearance while also aiding in the prevention of the more serious effects of free radicals that can shorten life.
There are no doubts that free radicals contribute significantly to accelerated aging, and that the antioxidants contained in green coffee beans can help hold back the physical signs of aging, while also helping to destroy those free radicals that threaten life by promoting cancer, atherosclerosis, and other similar conditions.
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.
Ginkgo Biloba Extract
September 19, 2008 09:25 AM
Ginkgo biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree, grows naturally in two small areas of Eastern China. It is believed that even these sources are artificial, and planted and maintained by monks over many centuries, and that there are no true natural sources of the tree left. Other than these, all living ginkgo trees are now artificially farmed.
The ginkgo seeds contain nuts that are a traditional food in China, served at Chinese New Year, and on other special occasions such as weddings, and is also used in traditional Chinese medicine. The seeds have been used in the treatment of coughs and asthma, and during the late 1970s and 80s, the uses of ginkgo biloba in medicine was extensively investigated with a view to determine the range of conditions that the tree could be used to treat. Given that many ancient Chinese remedies have found to be effective, and with a relevant scientific basis, this was a logical step.
It has been established that ginkgo biloba could have three possible effects on the body. These are:
* Improvement in circulation including that in the small capillaries.
The last of these has been responsible for many cardiovascular conditions, and disorders of the kidneys, lungs and central nervous system, and is due to the effect of the platelet-activating factor (PAF) that ginkgo appears to inhibit.
Before delving deeper into the possible beneficial effects of Ginkgo, let us first examine the active ingredients believed to be involved in the perceived beneficial effects.
Ginkgo leaf extract contains terpenoids (bilobalides and ginkgolides) and flavonoid glycosides. Flavones can reduce the fragility of capillaries, and protect the body from blood loss through damaged capillaries, particularly in the brain. The Ginkgolides, particularly ginkgolide B, inhibit the platelet-activating factor and so increase the fluidity of the blood that improves circulation, again particularly in the micro-capillaries of the brain. This is also why it is believed to reduce the incidence of cerebral thrombosis and resultant strokes.
The antioxidant effect of ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) has been widely studied, and by scavenging free radicals the extract can help to prevent cell membrane damage, and so prevent cells from being destroyed. It has been established that pretreatment of cells with GBE can prevent such damage in rats.
The anti-inflammatory properties of ginkgo biloba, as seen in some asthma patients for example, is thought to be due to the inhibition of the platelet-activating factor (PAF) by ginkgolide B, PAF playing a significant part in the inflammatory response to allergens, and PAF is now believed to be responsible for conditions such as asthma, renal diseases, central nervous system disorders and ischemia, a restriction in the blood supply, particularly to the brain.
It follows, therefore, that the effect of GBE on these conditions is likely to be due to PAF inhibition, and a reduction in the inflammatory response to a number of conditions. What evidence is there for this? In fact, results of the trials carried out have been inconclusive one way or the other.
Hence, a trial published by the Journal of the American Medical Association reported no effects after a 6 week trial of Ginkgo on Alzheimer’s and memory disorders. However, other trials have indicated positive effects after 6 weeks, and it could be that the GBE has to be taken for more than 6 weeks for any effects to be noticed. It is certainly believed to be a longer term treatment rather than have instant results, although some tests have shown improvement in concentration for up to 2.5 hours after treatment. The bulk of the evidence is favorable on the effect of GBE on memory disorders.
Test on rats, in which the blood flow to the brain was mechanically blocked by carotid compression, indicated that ginkgo biloba promoted an increase in the glucose and ATP levels in the brain neurons. Other trials have indicated that neurological damage in mice subjected to neurotoxins was reduced by the administration of GBE, and while not conclusive with respect to humans, the effect of GBE on the brain appears to be more than just opinion.
To sum up, ginkgo biloba is believed to be effective in treating the following disorders by virtue of its effect in improving the fluidity of the blood, protecting fragile capillaries from damage, exerting an antioxidant effect on free radices, and so prevent damage to cell membranes, and its inhibiting effect on platelet-activating factor:
Circulation problems in the arteries can lead to blood clots that in turn cause strokes and cardiac problems. By preventing blood clots through the inhibition of PAF, ginkgolide B can help to maintain a healthy circulation system that also help to maintain circulation in the very small capillaries that feed the brain.
This is caused by hardening and blockage of the arteries, and one of the effects of ginkgo biloba is to soften the arteries, help to unblock them and to prevent plaque formation by its antioxidant effect on the free radicals that cause the plaque by oxidation of LDL lipids. This is particularly true of the cerebral arteries.
The increased blood flow to the brain that GBE promotes can help to improve memory, although test are indicating that treatment has to continue for 6 weeks or more for it to be effective. Reduced blood flow to the brain is a common cause of memory impairment.
Ginkgo biloba has been used in the treatment of the symptoms of this condition, although it cannot be cured. It is thought that the improved circulation in the brain makes best use of the unaffected brain cells, improving memory and cognitive thought.
This is a condition where the extremities fail to warm up after being exposed to cold, and is caused by poor circulation in the small capillaries in which the blood pressure is very low. They symptoms are numbness and pins and needles, and GBE helps to overcome this condition due to improvement in the circulation and protection of the capillaries by rendering them less fragile.
GBE can help to reduce the symptoms of vertigo such as nausea and dizziness. This is believed, once again, to be due to an improvement in blood circulation.
There are few doubts that ginkgo biloba extract improves the circulation, particularly in the micro-capillaries in the brain and extremities of the body, and also possesses antioxidant properties, both of which help to maintain and improve the memory, and that combined with its effect on the platelet-activating factor, most of the properties of GBE is due to its capacity to maintain and improve circulation, particularly through those blood vessels closest to the blood-brain barrier.
September 10, 2008 09:23 AM
Found growing on trunks or stumps of trees in deciduous forests in temperate climates, the maitake mushroom is native to Eastern Canada and the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Maitake also can be found thriving in northeastern Japan and parts of Europe. With fan-shaped caps on stalks that may be fused together in masses, the mature maitake plant can weight up to twenty pounds. Also called dancing mushroom because of people dancing for joy when they found the maitake mushroom, one legend explains that the name refers to the fact that maitake overlaps other forms of fungi and has the appearance of butterfly wings flapping in a dance.
Only thirty years ago this type of mushroom had yet to become cultivated or well-known. Before 1979 maitake could only be found in the wild. However, now cultivation techniques have made it possible for maitake to be enjoyed all over the world, with some Japanese research finding that it is useful for the healing of a variety of ailments. Maitake is quickly becoming more and more important in the field of natural health. Like other mushrooms, maitake is rich in polysaccharides, which are complex natural sugars that have great benefits in healing as they work to strengthen the immune system to help it fight disease. Beta D-glucan is the powerful polysaccharide that is found in maitake, a compound that helps to stimulate the immune response.
Studies have found that maitake mushroom has the ability to reduce blood pressure in laboratory experiments that took place on animals. A study that was conducted in 1994 at the Ayurvedic Medical Center of New York found that maitake can also be of great value for humans too. This study, which involved individuals who had mild to moderate hypertension, was performed on eleven volunteers. Each volunteer was given three 500 mg doses of maitake twice a day for one month.
The results showed that blood pressure was reduced by 5 to 20 percent. Maitake may also be able to help lower blood cholesterol levels, which is a major factor in fighting and preventing heart disease. Several studies on humans have found impressive results, with three out of four patients with hypertension showing reduction in blood pressure after taking three to five grams of maitake each day.
Maitake also contains properties that are able to protect the liver from damage and even potentially reverse the damage that has already occurred. Demonstrating a hepato-protective effect, maitake works against toxins and potential liver damage. It has also been found to help protect the liver from harmful effects of hepatitis, as a group of thirty-two chronic hepatitis-B patients were studied. Each patient was give maitake extract, with the results showing that 72 percent recovered while only 57 percent of the group the used traditional therapy recovered.
As cancer continues to be leading cause of death in the western world, Human studies are beginning to find that D-fraction polysaccharides in maitake mushroom can help to treat various types of cancer. D-fraction seems to inhibit carcinogenesis and metastatis. Maitake also seems to help to lessen the severity of treatments that are hard on the body and produce debilitating side effects.
Finally, maitake was also the first mushroom that was found to inhibit the activity of HIV in laboratory studies, as it possesses the ability to kill the HIV virus. It stimulates T-cell action and prevents T-cells from being destroyed by HIV cells. Maitake is valuable for increasing the lifespan of individuals who are infected with HIV, but also there quality of life as it may help to slow the development of AIDS symptoms.
Gac Fruit Oil
August 25, 2008 07:04 PM
Most people have never heard of gac fruit, yet it is very popular in South East Asia, particularly in China and Vietnam. The fruit is grown on vines that reach the size of a cantaloupe and from North East Australia across to China and Vietnam it is used as both a food and a medicine. It is only fairly recently that it has found use in the West as a health food
So what’s so special about this fruit, known also as baby jackfruit and sweet gourd? Its bright red color should provide a clue, since it is jam packed full of beta carotene, lycopene and other strong antioxidants that not only helps to support the immune system, but also helps to retard the effects of aging. It has been used in Vietnam in particular to overcome the effects of an endemic deficiency in vitamin A, and is rich in provitamin A carotenoids. It is also widely used in Chinese medicine to treat a variety of complaints.
Antioxidants and Free Radicals
Antioxidants can boost health in a number of ways, and it might help you understand better the benefits that gac fruit can provide to explain what antioxidants do and why they are such an essential part of our diets. Every millisecond of every day of our lives, our natural metabolism of the conversion of blood glucose to energy generates small oxygenated molecules known as free radicals.
Free radicals are molecules that possess an unpaired electron and are highly unstable. Electrons generally travel in pairs, and when one of that pair is lost through a chemical reaction, the other electron has only one purpose in its short life: to pair up with another electron and it will do whatever it has to in order to achieve that. It is called a free radical, and its life is short. Free radicals destroy body cells, and this can have a dramatic effect, both visually on your skin, and internally on your general health.
Apart from those generated by your body’s own biochmemistry, free radicals are present in car emissions and other pollutants such as pesticides, smog and fried and barbecued foods. They are also formed in your skin by excessive exposure to the UV component of the sun’s radiation. That is why the skin of those living in hot climates tends to age earlier.
Free radicals are what make you look older as you grow older: they destroy skin cells as they are formed, but that is one of the least of their effects. They can also oxidize low density lipids (LDL) that carry cholesterol around your body, causing it to deposit fatty plaques on the walls of your arteries, which is a serious cardiovascular condition known as atherosclerosis.
Antioxidants can donate an electron to free radicals without then becoming free radicals themselves, and so destroy them as they are formed. However, the antioxidant can then lose its reducing power. Free radicals do not roam the blood seeking victims as many imagine them to, but react almost instantly, as soon as they are formed. It is important, therefore, that antioxidants are present in or close to every cell of your body. To achieve this, they must be bound to a fatty molecule, and the problem with many phytonutrients is that they have no associated fats or oils to carry them into the fatty tissues of the body.
Nutritional Constituents of Gac Fruit
Not so with gac fruit, because in addition to the beta carotene and lycopene content, it is also rich in long-chain fatty acids, particularly linoleic and alpha linoleic acids. Not only that, but its beta carotene content is around ten times that of carrots, and it contains 70 times the lycopene of tomatoes! Vitamin C is another very powerful antioxidant, and gac contains 60 times the Vitamin C of oranges. It is also rich in other free radical busters, such as xeoxanthins and alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E.
Altogether, gac fruit contains a free radical killing arsenal that should be enough to scare even the most courageous free radical back to where it came from. Other constituents of gac are numerous minerals, particularly zinc and iron.
That is why the sweet gourd is such a prized fruit, and why Southeast Asian women have skins that western women of the same age would die for! Antioxidants help to prevent the disruption and destruction of skin cells that are the major reason for aging looks, and why skin creams are packed with vitamins A and E, both strong antioxidants.
Health Benefits of Gac
Most of the health benefits of gac are provided by its antioxidant properties. Thus, if you have a high cholesterol level, gac can help you to avoid atherosclerosis by preventing the oxidation of the LDL cholesterol, which is the precursor to it depositing on your artery walls. The body needs cholesterol, but levels should be kept to within certain limits or the resultant atherosclerosis can narrow your arteries leading to cardiac problems and strokes, particularly in the very narrow arteries of the brain.
Gac also supports the immune system and helps to maintain prostate health, largely through its alpha tocopherol, or vitamin E content. Vitamin E is easily destroyed by free radicals, which is where the beta carotene is of benefit. This is the body’s first line of defense against free radicals, and each molecule can neutralize up to 20 free radical molecules before it is destroyed. This helps to save other antioxidants such as vitamin E.
Lycopene is particularly beneficial to the prostate and current research indicates that it can help to prevent prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease, plus some other diseases such as macular degeneration that affects your sight. Perhaps this is one reason why the gac fruit membranes are used in Vietnam to promote healthy vision, and they also help to cure dry eyes. Lycopene remains in your body fat longer than normal beta carotene, and recent studies have found that men with high amounts of lycopene in their body fat are up to 50% less likely to suffer heart attacks as those with low amounts.
Gac fruit is jam-packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, and has no known side effects. It is used in Asia for weddings and other special occasions, and is grown on lattices in many gardens, although it has a short season. However, gac fruit is not known as the “Fruit from Heaven” for no reason, and if you were allowed the choice of only one fruit in your life, then this would be the one.
Fiber For Better Health
July 11, 2008 12:27 PM
We have been told that we must eat a certain amount of fiber with our meals because it is ‘good for us’. Most of us have been led to believe that this is because fiber promotes bowel motions and prevents us from suffering from constipation. It is also good for our digestive system. But how true is this, and just what are the real benefits of fiber in our diet?
First of what, what is fiber? Sure, we know there must be fiber in food such as cabbage, beans and celery because we can see it. But is all fiber actually fibrous? Of course not, so let’s first have a close look at what dietary fiber actually is.
Fiber is composed of these parts of a plant that are broken down by the action of enzymes in our digestive juices in the upper parts of our intestinal tract. Some fiber can be digested by the bacteria in our lower intestine, and some is not. So where does fiber come from? By that definition, fiber can be any part of your food, not only the stringy bits, and by definition are of vegetable origin.
Water insoluble fibers increase fecal bulk. That’s the stringy stuff in celery and string beans. It is also contained in cellulose materials, lignin, wheat bran, whole grains and most vegetables. These have the effect of increasing the efficiency of the peristaltic movement of the intestine on the passage of chyme (the creamy fluid that exits the stomach into the duodenum) through your system.
The liquid and nutrients are progressively removed, and the fiber maintains the bulk needed for peristalsis to work properly. Peristalsis is the rhythmic movement of the intestine that forces your food right from your stomach to your rectum. It is also the basis of some forms of industrial pump that operate on the same principle. Without fiber this pump would be inefficient.
Soluble fiber includes the gum and pectin that are obtained from plant cells. They swell up the chyme, and slow down its rate of travel through the gastrointestinal system, although they have no effect on fecal bulk. Specific examples are oat bran, fruit and most vegetables (all plants contain both). A peach, for example, consists of a skin which is insoluble fiber, and the juicy pulp beneath it which is predominantly soluble fiber.
Although a distinction is made between dietary and crude fiber, they both have their part to play. The term ‘fiber’ is a wide one and it cannot be said that fiber as a whole imparts a specific health benefit. The benefits of fiber are a combination of those imparted by the full range of types of fiber and their sources that are contained in the human diet, both crude and dietary, soluble and insoluble.
So what specifically are these benefits, other than just the generalization that they are ‘good for your intestinal health’? As you likely know, it is the fiber in your diet that binds your feces together into a solid, rather than leaving it as a mobile liquid. Although around 75% of feces are liquid, the bulk of the rest is fiber, bacteria and undigested food.
Since insoluble fiber makes feces bulkier and softer it can help treat constipation, where the stool has an excess of solid content. Any substance that absorbs water and swells can help with this condition. The same is true of hemorrhoids and a condition of the wall of the intestine known as diverticulosis. Once the inflammation has subsided, a high soluble fiber diet can help prevent a recurrence.
If you want to lose weight, a fiber diet can make you feel full without the calories, since fiber is calorie-free. There is also the fact that high fiber foods have to be chewed longer before they can be swallowed, and so you are liable to eat less in the same time. However, if you are determined, all that means is that you will have to lunch longer to get the same weight gain!
There is little doubt that a fiber-rich diet contributes significantly to intestinal health, and that if the correct amount of fiber is not taken then problems such as constipation, diarrhea, diverticulosis and a lack of absorption of nutrients will occur. The peristaltic pumping motion of the whole gastrointestinal tract, from the top of the throat to the anus, is dependent on solids rather than liquids. While a semi-liquid fecal consistency will pass through your body, it will take the bulk of the nutrition extracted from your food with it. It is fiber that is needed to bulk it up and to enable the liquid to be extracted through the intestinal wall and the fibrous solid to pass on through the colon to the anus.
There are other benefits of a diet high in fiber, though they generally depend on the type of fiber. Take cholesterol, for example. High LDL blood cholesterol levels are associated with atherosclerosis, and the consequent risk of heart disease and strokes, due to the oxidation of the LDL by free radicals. When the HDL lipids carry cholesterol back to the liver, it is destroyed by the action of bile acids. Since water soluble fiber binds bile acids, it figures that some types of fiber can promote the excretion of cholesterol from the body. The fiber most effective in achieving this comes from rolled oats and also pectin.
It has also been claimed that dietary fiber might be effective in preventing cancer of the colon. The theory is that bowel cancer is caused by toxins in the feces and if the fecal matter is expelled from the body quickly, the toxins will have less time to act. Fiber promotes the expulsion of the contents of the colon. This has not been confirmed, however.
What has been confirmed is that your bowel can collect mucoid plaque that sticks to mainly your colon, and is an ideal environment for parasites and yeast infections. The National Fiber Council has stated that most people do not eat enough fiber, and the average requirement is 38g a day for men and 25g a day for women.
So eat your fiber, because fiber can boost your intestinal health and wellness.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
May 06, 2008 05:14 PM
Grapefruit seed extract is regarded as being natural antibiotic that is effective against a broad range of bacterial infections. It has also been used to treat parasitic infections and a range of viral infections as well as having found uses for a wide variety of medical conditions.
So what is it about grapefruit seed that is so special? Most people are acquainted with grapefruit, which as a member of the citrus family of fruits, and not to be confused with grapes which are a totally different type of plant. Grape seed extract is also a useful natural medication, but used for totally different conditions.
Because of its efficacy against parasitic and viral infections, grapefruit seed extract is very useful in treating various forms of food poisoning. But, how was this remarkable property of the simple grapefruit seed noticed? The answer to that depends very much upon what version of the story of Einstein Laureate physicist and immunologist Dr. Jacob Harich you believe.
Dr. Harich was not only a scientist but a hobby gardener in Florida, and the two versions of his story tell either that he decided to investigate why grapefruit seeds tasted so bitter, or why the grapefruit seeds in his compost heap failed to compost, or rot. Whichever story is correct, and perhaps both are, the result was the discovery that grapefruit seeds appeared to be a very effective antibiotic.
In fact it has been shown to be effective against over 800 strains of bacteria and viruses and also effective against many fungi that lead to illness in humans. Because of this it is used in cased of food poisoning that involve bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract. In fact during the latter part of the 1980s, grapefruit seed extract was tested against a number of known antibiotics and found to be as effective as any of them. Similar results obtained in a number of tests in the USA and elsewhere in the world, and it appears that it is an excellent treatment for the symptoms of food poisoning.
Not only that, but it has been found effective in the treatment of some immunodeficiency diseases, presumably because its antimicrobial properties does much of the work that the immune system would normally do, and so relieves it of much of its hard work. This allows the immune system to concentrate on conditions which are exacerbated by deficiencies in its operation.
Bifidobacteria and Loactobacilli are bacteria that are beneficial to the digestive system. The measure of a good broad spectrum antibiotic is that it does not affect the beneficial bacteria, and grapefruit seed extract has no effect on the former and only a mildly inhibiting effect on the latter. It is also non toxic to humans, which is another measure of a good antibiotic. You would have to drink about two pints of the extract, around 4000 time the normal dose, for the treatment to be potentially fatal.
Among the many uses of the extract are not only in controlling gastrointestinal infections, but also general fungal conditions of the skin, vaginal infections and yeast infections, and also colds and sore throats. It is also believed to support the immune system, not only by its antimicrobial properties but through its effect on intestinal health upon which much of our immune system is dependent. It can also protect patients with symptoms of AIDs and other immunodeficiency conditions from infection.
Its effect on yeast infections around the nether regions of small children has been documented, and it has also been found to be very safe to young children. In fact many mothers have it as a permanent addition to their medicine cabinet.
It is not that long ago when doctors believed all diseases to be due to bacteria or viruses. It is now becoming clear that a large proportion is actually due to fungal infections and parasites. Many conditions such as allergies, circulatory disease and some forms of arthritis have been shown to be due to fungal infections that weaken the immune system. Grapefruit seed extract has been found to be effective in treating many types of fungal disease.
In using the extract in this way, and to treat bacterial infections, it is best to start with a low dose and gradually increase it. This is because when fungi and bacteria are destroyed they release toxins, and too high a dose could result in too much toxin being produced for your body to handle. If you take it gradually you will get the same result, but without the risk of the nausea and diarrhea which the toxins can cause.
Despite all of these benefits, grapefruit extract has not been given the credit it deserves, and much research has still to be done to establish the constituents of the seed that confer these properties. Among these are known to be proanthocyanadins, a class of flavanols with strong antioxidant properties, and a diphenol hydroxybenzene complex that destroys bacteria through the cytoplasmic membrane to prevent the uptake of amino acids and cause leakage of the cell contents. Other active components are Vitamins C and E, tocopherols, limonoids and sterols, in addition to a number of important minerals.
However, there is still much work to be done, although the extract will continue to be used by many devotees for the treatment, not only of food poisoning symptoms, but also of conditions such as acne, athlete’s foot, gingivitis, cold sores, sinusitis and parasitic infections. It appears to be practically a cure-all.
There appear to be no drug interactions, although some medications do react with grapefruit juice, such as some treatments for high blood pressure. If your treatment advises you not to take grapefruit juice, then do not take grapefruit seed extract. Another factor to be aware of is that since the extract is an effective bactericide, then it could deplete the digestive tract of friendly bacteria essential for digestion. You are advised, therefore, to take a supplement of acidophilus, which is easily taken in the form of yoghurt type drinks specifically formulated or dietary supplement for the purpose.
Cherry Fruit Extract
April 28, 2008 02:45 PM
Cherry fruit extract contains organic compounds known as flavanoids, which is a form of phytochemical frequently found in highly colored fruits and vegetables. If you eat a fruit such as pomegranate, blueberry, blackberry or cherry, or if you eat red peppers, aubergines and broccoli, you are eating foods that are rich in flavanoids.
Such foods provide you with remarkable health benefits that your ancestors knew about but did not understand. They ate these highly colored foods because they knew they helped prevent certain medical conditions, and to help others get well faster. They knew nothing about phytochemicals – chemicals contained in plants – or flavanoids, but knew about the results of eating them.
In fact, flavanoids are very powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and each of these require more detailed explanation since between them, oxidants and inflammation are responsible for most of the non-infectious common ailments of the human body. First, let’s have a look at antioxidants.
In chemical terms oxidation is the removal of an electron from an atom or molecule. There are species within your body known as free radicals whose sole purpose in their short life is to steal an electron from the nearest molecule to them. This is almost instantaneous, and most free radicals are very short lived. The concept of free radicals roaming your body and your bloodstream waiting to pounce on the first unwary molecule is a fairy tale. In fact the vast majority react as soon as they are formed.
When they do react, they remove an electron from a stable molecule, render it unstable and thus destroy it. If that molecule is part of a cell, and enough of them are robbed of their electrons, then the cell is destroyed. One result in visible terms is wrinkling of your skin, as your skin cells become destroyed, and hence you age quicker. In terms that you are not immediately aware of, oxidation can lead to many unwanted changes in your body.
For example, the low density lipids, that carry the cholesterol in your blood to areas of the body where it is needed, are oxidized by free radicals which causes the LDL to deposit along with their cholesterol on the walls of your arteries as a layer of plaque. Eventually that will build up to constrict the artery and cause a condition known as atherosclerosis – the arteries become blocked, and you can suffer from heart attacks and strokes.
These free radicals are formed by the normal metabolism of the body when energy is created in the cell mitochondria, by pollutants such as pesticides, cigarette smoke and traffic fumes, and by radiation such as excessive exposure to the UV radiation in sunlight.
Flavanoids, contained in cherry fruit extract, are antioxidants, which prevent this oxidation of body cells from taking place. They do so by being in the right place at the right time. If a flavanoid molecule is close to a free radical when it is generated, then the antioxidant will reduce the free radical and neutralize it.
If you eat a lot of cherries, or drink cherry fruit extract, you will be consuming a massive amount of flavanoids molecules that are ready and willing to destroy these free radicals. However, that is not all that flavanoids do. They are also, as has already been stated, anti-inflammatories.
The inflammatory response is the reaction of the body to a foreign presence such as bacteria. The tissues around the infected area receive an increased blood supply, and the cell walls produce gaps allowing the large immune system blood cells, or macrophages, to pass through. The temperature around the area increases due to the concentration of blood, and this itself is controlled by the body since bacteria die off after a certain body temperature has been reached, hence the reason for fever in the immune response.
The area swells up due to the concentration of fluid and protein, and becomes painful due to pressure on nerve endings. Anti-inflammatories, such as the flavanoids, work to relieve the symptoms of inflammation without interfering with the way the immune system deals with infection.
Many inflammatory conditions occur without any apparent reason, and while anti-inflammatories might not be used to suppress the immune system, it is used in such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis where the inflammation is a mis-firing of the immune system. Cherry fruit extract can be used to alleviate many similar conditions such as gout, and osteoarthritis where its use is well known and recorded.
It can also be used to help reduce the effects of atherosclerosis through its anti-oxidant properties, and cherries contain, not only a good supply of flavanoids, but also anthocyanins, another group of powerful antioxidants. They also contain vitamin C which is also a strong antioxidant.
Another property of flavanoids is their collagen strengthening properties, which they achieve by cross-linking the fibers to form a string fibrous network. That can be used to strengthen the walls of veins, and render them less liable to stretch or expand, thus providing them with the rigidity needed to prevent varicose veins caused by the puddling of blood below weak valves. They have the same effect on arteries, providing increased strength and a reduction in the blood pressure needed to pump blood round the body.
A good intake of cherry fruit in your diet will help to improve the condition of your cartilage and other connective tissue in addition to your veins and arteries, and is particularly appropriate for athletes who place great stresses on connective tissues such as the tendons that transfer muscular energy to the levers – the long bones.
In summary, then, cherry fruit extract and the flavanoids and anthocyanins it contains, posses properties to help relieve the symptoms of gout, and various forms of arthritis, to reduce the likelihood of cholesterol oxidation that leads to heart disease and strokes, to help strengthen the walls of veins and arteries and to improve the strength of connective tissue such as cartilage and tendons.
In other words, to improve the quality of life of the majority of the population that suffers from one or more of these conditions. After learning about the health benefits of cherries and all the mounting evidence in research, my question to you is why did the FDA make cherry farmers pull the health benefits of cherries from their websites with threats of legal action if not removed? Makes a person wonder who is on our side and who isn’t?
First, the Painful Inflammation
April 03, 2008 12:43 PM
Inflammation occurs because of the reaction of your immune system to what it perceives as being the presence in your tissues of dangerous foreign particles. Your immune system generally reacts to particles. Typical particles are bacteria and viruses, pollen, smoke, your own body cells that are not doing what they should, moulds and fungi, and various other things that can circulate in your blood.
There are several reasons for the immune system being activated, some of them historical due to your body having an imprinted memory of previous bacteria and viruses that it has dealt with, and others the reaction to new invaders that it has never met before, and for which your immune system creates antibodies to destroy. Another is the recognition of abnormal body cells that have to be destroyed before they can proliferate, and yet another is when the immune system gets confused and itself damages your own tissues such as in rheumatoid arthritis.
Whatever the cause, inflammation is a common result of the immune system going to work, and can be extremely painful. It can cause damage to our own joints, vascular system and major organs, although treatment of the inflammation does not reduce the effectiveness of the immune response. You can safely treat the inflammation with anti-inflammatories and painkillers without the condition getting worse.
Common physical manifestations of inflammation are the swollen and painful joints of rheumatoid arthritis (osteoarthritis is not an immune response), the swelling in the airway of asthma, the spots and swellings of measles and chickenpox, the lesions of psoriasis and the swelling and pain of abrasions and cuts that have gone ‘septic’ or ‘poisoned’. The latter two are simply examples of the effect of phagocytes and leucocytes on bacterial infection – the white blood cells and their cohorts!
The reason that inflammation causes pain is that it affects nerve endings, and causes pressure against the damaged tissues that initiated the immune response. Although regular painkillers can control the pain of inflammation to an extent, they are generally not the ideal treatment. Herbal treatments are not necessarily always the ideal treatments either, but boswellia is one herb that has been proved to be effective in reducing the pain of inflammation.
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.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a Powerful Antioxidant
February 15, 2008 02:55 PM
The discovery of alpha lipoic acid at the University Of Texas Chemistry Department in 1951 was not heralded with trumpets of joy at the revelation of such a powerful antioxidant, but was instead largely ignored. This is largely due to the biochemistry involved not being fully understood at that time, but by the 1980s it was a commonly used supplement, recommended for several medical conditions.
Chemically, the substance is a 5-membered cyclic disulphide with a carboxylic acid grouping. Biochemically, it’s extremely powerful antioxidant properties are largely due to the fact that it one of those rare active molecules that are soluble in both water and fats, and in fact is the only such antioxidant currently know. One of the properties that this ability enables it to possess is to cross the blood-brain barrier, and apply antioxidant propertied to the brain.
Antioxidants are essential to human life in that they destroy free radicals. These are compounds with free unpaired electrons that destroy human body cells in their hunt for electrons to pair with. Electrons come in pairs in organic animal tissue, just as they do in organic compounds. However, under certain circumstances this pairing can become destroyed, leaving a molecule with one of its electrons without a partner.
The factors that lead to this situation are many and varied, and our own biochemistry can produce free radicals during the normal chemical processes of life. However, pollution can also lead to the oxidation processes that create free radicals, common such pollutants being cigarette smoke, vehicle exhaust fumes, pesticides and the like. Excessive exposure to the UV content of sunlight can also create free radicals as can eating barbecued and smoked foods, and exposure to carbon monoxide and peroxides. Even the biochemical conversion of glucose to energy in our bodies creates free radicals.
These free radicals can destroy body cells, including DNA, and can create conditions such as premature aging due to destruction of skin cells, destruction of brain cells, strokes, cancers, diabetes, atherosclerosis due to oxidation of LDL cholesterol that deposits in the main arteries of the body, stiffening of the joints and many other undesirable conditions.
Free radicals are destroyed rapidly by antioxidants: the reaction is very rapid and most are destroyed immediately they are formed before they can do harm. Fortunately, if your diet is well maintained, the body possesses many antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, and other substances such as Coenzyme Q10, flavanoids, xanthenes, polyphenols and carotenoids. Many of these are found in highly colored foods, and if your food is brightly colored, it should contain a good supply of antioxidants.
However, the problem with all of these is that they are either fat and oil soluble or water soluble, which means that they can either be freely carried round the body by the blood or have to be emulsified by the bile and transported via the lymphatic system that places restrictions on their effectiveness in certain organs of the body. The fact that alpha lipoic acid is soluble in both water and fats enables it to be carried to all parts of the body and to every organ, and can cross water/fat barriers that other antioxidants cannot do.
It can therefore be carried via the blood to the brain and carry out an essential antioxidant function within our brains. It took a long time for this property of ALA to be recognized and its consequent health benefits understood. It is, in fact, the ideal antioxidant. The substance provides many known benefits to the body due to its antioxidant properties and also helps the body to generate the maximum possible amount of energy from the blood glucose and thus improve the energy balance of your body.
However, it is with its antioxidant properties that we are most concerned here. One of the benefits of these properties is its effect in holding back the visible effects of aging on your body. Because it is both water and fat soluble, alpha lipoic acid can help destroy free radicals in every part of your skin; the areas served by the blood and the fatty and oily secretions are protected simultaneously by the same strong antioxidant. The end result is a reduction in the destruction of the cells through the dermis and epidermis and a reduction in the degree of wrinkling with age.
Its antioxidant effect in the brain renders ALA in great demand for reducing cognitive impairment with age. In fact studies have indicated that alpha lipoic acid can improve memory and brain function in the aging and the elderly. This effect appears to be increased by the synergistic combination of alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine that work together to prevent cognitive decline in the brain through the effect of free radicals.
There is evidence that during a stroke, ALA works synergistically with vitamin E to reduce the effect of free radical damage on the vulnerable brain cells, and so reduce the longer term effects of the stroke. Together with ALC, it also reduces oxidative stress on the mitochondria of cells and in so doing helps once again to reduce the effects of aging, and maintain the body’s capacity to generate energy from blood glucose.
Cardiovascular disease is the main killer of the western world, largely due to our diets, and this is especially true of the USA. Although Americans appear unable to change their unhealthy diet, alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine can be used to offset much of the damage done. ALA reduces the development of atherosclerosis through its antioxidant properties and the reduction of the adhesion of monocytes to the artery walls.
LDL trapped in the wall of the artery can be oxidized and enable monocytes to also enter under the surface of the arterial wall, where it changes into macrophages and ingests the oxidised LDL, causing the plaque that forms atherosclerosis. As the plaque thickens, the artery becomes increasingly restricted until the blood flow is significantly reduced or even stopped, causing cardiac failure or a stroke.
Alpha lipoic acid can prevent this free radical oxidation from occurring by destroying them before they act on the low density lipoprotein (LDL). Acetyl-L-carnitine works with the ALA to achieve this, as does another substance known as carnosine. Between them, these three musketeers work to keep your arteries clear and your brain functioning as it should, though it is the ALA that is most powerful due to its oil and water solubility properties.
Although alpha lipoic acid is available as a supplement, either alone or in combination with acetyl-l-carnitine, it is also available from natural food sources. It is particularly rich in offal such as heart and kidney, and also in broccoli, spinach and brewer’s yeast. It is also available in beef, and it is here that burgers can perhaps repay some of the damage that it causes. However, it is not a recommended source since burgers still cause more damage to your health than any of their constituent nutrients can allay.
Like any other supplement, you should seek medical advice before taking any substance if you have a health condition. Nevertheless, the benefits of alpha lipoic acid are such that it is difficult to see it doing anything but good. However, please consult your physician if are taking other drugs.
Acai: The Super Antioxidant From Brazil
February 03, 2008 02:07 PM
Acai is an Amazonian palm tree, and possesses small purple fruits that the Amazonian natives of Brazil have used since time immemorial as food and as a remedy for certain health conditions that are now known to be associated with the activity on free radicals on body cells.
The active constituents of acai are powerful polyphenols and anthocyanin antioxidants that protect your body cells from oxidation by free radicals. In fact the plant has been referred to as ‘the super antioxidant from Brazil’ by many medical writers who have recognized its right to be termed as such. To understand that, you first have to understand what an antioxidant is and how it works. The chemical names of the active substances it contains will be meaningless without that background knowledge.
Oxidation occurs in your body even before you are born. What is does in general terms is to destroy your body cells, and the more it progresses the more your body is prone to cancers and cardiovascular diseases, and the more visible becomes the aging process. Chemically, oxidation is the loss of one or more electrons by an atom or molecule. Oxidation within your body is highly associated with what are known as free radicals. To explain these we have to consider the chemistry of electron pairs and free radicals, though this is not too technical so read on.
Normally electrons exist in pairs of opposite spin: in simple terms each pair makes up a single negative charge. Take hydrogen: its atomic structure contains one proton and one electron. However, the hydrogen atom cannot exist by itself since the most stable configuration is that electrons exist in pairs with a net zero spin, so the hydrogen molecule consists of two hydrogen atoms with their own protons sharing an electron pair. This is true of all covalently bonded molecules.
However, certain influences, such as pollution through tobacco smoke, pesticides, engine exhausts and the excess UV radiation of sunlight can cause a molecule to lose an electron. This creates what is known as a free radical: a molecule without an electrical charge but with an unpaired electron. Since the most stable configuration for it is to have a paired electron, the molecule will steal an electron from the most suitable candidate it finds.
In practise this will be a body cell, and the cell that loses the electron gets destroyed causing aging of the skin and many other undesirable effects, including cancers. This stealing of an electron is chemically referred to as oxidation. Antioxidants prevent this occurring to your body cells by being reactive themselves and preferentially mopping up these free electrons.
Polyphenols and anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants, and that is why the people of the Amazon rainforests have used acai not only as a food, but also for their health. It is only relatively recently that, as with many of the ancient health remedies, the scientific basis behind its use has been proved. The early Brazilian natives may not have understood biochemistry or what free radicals were, but they sure knew what was good for them.
As with many other foodstuffs containing powerful antioxidants, it is likely that it was the highly colored berries that first attracted them. That does not suggest that all brightly colored foods are good for you, but the brightly colored pigments and dyestuffs contained within them also tend to act as antioxidants due the same electron configuration that provides them with their color. Many of these chemicals are also use as food dyes, and have been used so since before their chemistry and antioxidant effects were known. The color comes from the same electron activity that makes them destroy free radicals. That is why most highly colored foods contain significant quantities of phytochemicals.
The deep purple color of the acai fruit led chemists to determine its content of polyphenols, such as anthocyanins, that are common in other highly colored foods such blueberries, peppers and aubergines. High concentrations of anthocyanins such as cyandin-3-glucoside and the rutinoside analogue were found, together with flavonoids such as orientin, deoxyhexose and scoparin. A total of twelve flavonoids were discovered that explains the highly antioxidant properties of the fruits. Laboratory and other tests have indicated that over 80% of the antioxidant effect of acai is due to polyphenols other than the anthocyanins. It is likely that these are the twelve flavonoids identified to date and any others that have still to be detected.
However, it is not only for its antioxidant properties that acai is such a healthy fruit, since it contains many other nutritional components. It contains fatty acids, including linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid and also beta-sitosterol that are believed to reduce the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood. The fruit also contains a high level of amino acids, essential for the synthesis of proteins and DNA.
So what exactly does this mean for you in real terms? Antioxidants can do different things for different people, and the acai berry is said to have more than thirty times the antioxidant power of red wine. When you consider that many doctors believe one glass of red wine to provide sufficient antioxidant for the average person, you are getting a very high dose with acai berries, so what does it do for you?
Due its effect in destroying the free radicals caused by pollution, acai and similar powerful sources of antioxidants are becoming increasingly important to our diets. What was a sufficient antioxidant intake even twenty years ago is not longer sufficient. Acai can help to combat early aging by reducing the rate at which your body cells are destroyed by free radicals. It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, and the associated high risk of strokes or heart attacks.
Acai juice itself has an unusually high fiber content, and helps maintain the health of your digestive system. An associated benefit of this is that you are less liable to contract colon cancer than if you did not consume it. Due to a reduction in the rate of destruction of body cells, including brain cells, elderly people benefit through maintenance of their brain function, and a lower likelihood of degenerating cognitive ability. It helps you to maintain concentration and memory, and can also reduce the risk of you getting cataracts.
Antioxidants are also known to help maintain the immune system, and act as anti-inflammatories, and it is believed that acai juice can help to reduce the symptoms of arthritis. If you use acai berries as part of a daily diet, you should receive the benefits that it provides, although a more measured dosage in the form of a supplement will enable you to control your intake of acai, and if one thing is certain it is that you will be far healthy with a regular dose of the superantioxidant from Brazil than without.
Astaxanthin, a Member of the Carotenoid Family, is a Powerful Antioxidant
January 31, 2008 09:00 AM
Astaxanthin is a member of the carotenoid family responsible for the red color of many types of algae. Being a carotenoid, it is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger as well as support proper eye function.
However, such a bland statement belies the true worth of astaxanthin in its fight against free radicals. It is of particular benefit in its ability to absorb the high energy of singlet oxygen, releasing it as heat, and returning the singlet oxygen to its ground neutralized state. Singlet oxygen is a particularly harmful and reactive oxygen species of free radical that is formed in the body as part of our normal metabolism, and that contains a high level of free energy that can be used to oxidize and destroy the cells of your body.
In achieving this, astaxanthin is regarded as one of the most potent plant derived antioxidants known, being up to ten times more active than beta carotene, Lutein or its cousin canthaxanthin. So why are antioxidants so valuable to our biochemistry and what would happen if they did not exist?
Free radicals are thieves that use your body as their operating ground. They operate by stealing an electron from a molecule that comprises part of you, and in some cases when this occurs the cell from which the electron is removed is destroyed. Generally electrons go around in pairs, but occasionally an electron pair can lose one of the electrons during a chemical reaction. Many such reactions occur naturally inside the body, especially during the production of energy from blood sugars in the mitochondria, and such a molecule containing a single unpaired electron is called a free radical. Free radicals are also generated by the reactive components of many pollutants such as traffic fumes and cigarette smoke, tars and pesticides, and also by the effect of UV radiation in sunlight.
The only purpose of a free radical is to steal an electron from the first source it can find. Such reactions occur very rapidly after the free radical has been generated, and if this electron belongs to another body cell, then the cell is destroyed leading to effects such as premature aging or even cancers. Free radical oxidation of the LDL lipids that carry cholesterol around the blood causes the deposition of fatty plaques inside arterial walls that eventually become constricted or even blocked, leading to heart disease or strokes.
That is why antioxidants that destroy these free radicals are so prized, and the more of them that there are in your body then the less affect the free radicals will have on you. You will retain your youthful looks longer, and will be less liable to suffer from heart disease, cancers, circulation problems and conditions such as diabetes. Many abnormal conditions can be laid at the door of free radicals.
The stronger the free radical, the more harm it can do to you and a strong antioxidant such as astaxanthin is a very powerful weapon in your armory against them. Astaxanthin is a member of the oxygenated xanthophylls, and its high level of antioxidant power likely comes from the ketonic and hydroxyl functional groups of the ionone ring structure. It is more polar than most carotenoids, and this is a likely reason for its ability to span the cell membrane layers, with the active groups close to the hydrophilic-hydrophobic interface. They are thus more readily available at the sites where most free radicals tend to be found and provide immediate protection to the cell membrane and also to the intracellular mitochondrial membrane.
Many antioxidants destroy free radicals by donating an electron, and become oxidized themselves. Astaxanthin, however, does not do this, but instead adds the free radicals to its long double bonded chain hence avoiding oxidation and rendering it much more powerful than normal antioxidants. It is unusual among antioxidants in that it is also able to cross the blood-brain barrier, and so reduces oxidative stress that can cause neurological disorders in general, and also problems with eyesight. It can also attach itself to lipoproteins to enable it to be carried throughout the bloodstream, being available anywhere that free radicals are generated. The carotenoid is also active against active oxygen species that are responsible for inflammation.
Another property is its ability to neutralize the oxygenated free radicals formed by the photo-oxidation properties of UVA and UVB radiation. Included in these are the previously mentioned highly reactive singlet oxygen and also triplet oxygen that astaxanthin is able to neutralize without becoming oxidized. In fact reactive oxygen species in general can cause oxidative stress, and they have been thought responsible for many forms of disease and health conditions, and the powerful effect of astaxanthin in targeting many of these has led it to be regarded as highly beneficial to the immune system and to health in general.
Another benefit is the ability of the substance to help prevent the oxidation of high density lipoproteins (HDL) that are responsible for carrying cholesterol in the blood back to the liver for destruction. Free radical oxidation of HDL impairs its ability to transport cholesterol, and so decreasing the level of such free radical oxidation will by definition increase the quantity of good HDL available, and hence reduce the concentration of cholesterol in the blood. Studies have proved this to be the case, and astaxanthin supplements are very beneficial to those suffering from high blood cholesterol levels, and helps protect them from heart disease and strokes.
The substance is naturally available from a wide range of marine sources, such as lobsters (where it was first discovered), shrimp, salmon, trout and in a wide variety of red and green algae. The substance is also used as a red pigment. Carotenoids are essential, meaning that they are not produced in the human body and can only be obtained in our diets.
For that reason, the most convenient way to take it, apart from continually eating shrimp and lobster, is as a supplement. Astaxanthin is available either as a powerful antioxidant in its own right, or in combination with other substances with which it acts to provide a very strong deterrent to any free radicals that think they can freely roam your body.
Artichoke Promotes Healthy Fat Digestion and Metabolism
January 30, 2008 10:37 PM
In discussing the health benefits of the artichoke, and the way it promotes healthy fat digestion and metabolism, we are talking here about the true artichoke: the globe artichoke. The alternative Jerusalem artichoke is not an artichoke at all, but a member of the sunflower family. The globe artichoke is a type of thistle.
It is in fact a perennial thistle that originated in the Mediterranean area and is now cultivated world wide. The edible portions are the lower parts of the bracts and the base of the buds, known as the heart while the inedible portion in the center of the bud is known as the ‘choke’. Globe artichokes were introduced to the USA in the 19th century by French and Spanish immigrants who settled in Louisiana and California respectively. Contrary to popular opinion its name did not come from the ‘heart’ and the ‘choke’, but from the Arabic for ground thorn: ‘ardi shauki’.
In today’s world of fast foods, a high consumption of fats and red meat and excessive alcohol consumption, your liver is put under a great strain. Its main function is as a chemical factory, to produce the chemicals, such as enzymes and other proteins, needed to maintain life and also to metabolise the nutrients we need from the food we eat. If you overtax your liver it will not work as it should, which results in poor digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in your food and an increase in the toxins in your blood.
You will feel tired and run down, with digestion problems and many other health complaints. Liver abuse can result in malnutrition, which also results in cirrhosis which is not curable. You should seriously appraise your diet, and identify the eating and drinking habits that are causing the problem, and give your liver a rest. Artichoke extract is a great liver tonic, and your liver will respond well to a break from alcohol and fatty foods, and a course of artichoke leaves and extract.
The main active ingredient of the artichoke is cynarine (1,5-dicaffeylquinic acid), a substance that stimulates the production of bile, and hence renders the artichoke an excellent starter for any meal. This is yet another example of science finding a logical reason for people eating artichokes for centuries in order to promote the health of their liver and digestive system. It is not only for its cynarine content that the globe artichoke is useful, however, but also the luteolin and chlorogenic acids that it contains.
The stimulation of bile production by the cynarine is one the more important of the effects of artichoke on your well being. Bile emulsifies fats and renders them into an easily digested form. Most of the digestive chemicals are water soluble, and without this emulsification of the fat with water then most of the fats we consume would pass through the body unchanged. We would the vats majority of the fat soluble nutrients in our food, including vitamins A, D, E and K.
Bile enables us to digest fats and to absorb vitamins from our food, and also promotes the general health of our digestive system. It is biosynthesized in the liver from various enzymes and triglycerides and then stored in the gall bladder until needed. Its use is prompted by the presence of fats in the system, and this is stimulated by the cynarine in the artichoke leaves.
Its ability to improve bile flow has been recognized by scientist’s world wide, and artichoke juice has been used by the French for many years as a liver tonic. However, it is not just for the liver and the digestive system that artichokes are useful in maintaining good health. They also have an effect on the cholesterol levels in your blood. This is believed to be due to the inhibition of the activity of enzyme HMG CoA Reductase that helps the liver to generate cholesterol. Inhibiting the activity of this enzyme reduces the amount of cholesterol produced.
This can have the effect of reduced the possibility of you developing atherosclerosis, a condition caused by deposition of low density lipid (LDL) cholesterol through the effect of free radical oxidation of the lipid. The less cholesterol to be transported by your blood, then the lower levels of the low density lipid needed to do this. This effect is also possibly due to the fact that bile is formed from cholesterol and triglycerides, and so stimulated bile production would possibly leave less cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Artichoke also possesses antioxidant properties that would contribute even further to this effect by preventing the oxidation of the LDL by free radicals. These free radicals, formed in the body both naturally and by the effects of pollutants such as pesticides, cigarette smoke and traffic fumes, are destroyed by antioxidants. In atherosclerosis the LDL lipids are oxidised and deposited under the surface cells of the blood vessels, and are then digested by certain blood cells forming a hard fatty deposit that can eventually block the arteries affected.
The result can be a heart attack or a stroke, depending on where in the body the blood vessels are affected, and if the cholesterol levels in the body are decreased through it being used to produce bile, then the concentration of LDL lipids used to transport it will also be reduced and the condition will be less likely to occur..
Apart from the liver, the gall bladder is also given a boost by artichoke because that is where bile is stored, and a regular flow to and from the gall bladder maintains its health. The only thing you should be aware of if is that if you are prone to gallstones then the increase in bile flow could cause the stones to be stuck in the bile duct. You should therefore refer to your physician before embarking on a course of artichoke extract if you have a propensity to develop gallstones.
Apart from the phytonutrients already discussed, the globe artichoke also contains a good supply of fiber and minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium and phosphorus, and also some trace elements that your body needs. It is therefore more than just a bile stimulant, but provides a wide range off essential nutrition to your body. It is know to aid conditions such as gout, high blood sugar, and digestive complaints such as flatulence, bloating and abdominal cramps.
Apart from cooking and eating the tender parts of the leaves, or bracts, you can make an infusion of the parts that you don’t eat. Chop up the tougher leaves and pour boiling water over them as if making tea. Leave it to infuse for a few minutes and then drink. Honey can be used to take away the bitter taste; honey rather than sugar due to its greater nutritional content.
Genetically Engineered Foods May Cause Rising Food Allergies
January 21, 2008 02:14 PM
Arguments made by the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates plant produced pesticides, tell us not to worry about the thought of consuming toxic pesticides. Instead, they say that the pesticides used, Bt, are produced naturally from a soil bacterium which has a history of safe use by organic farmers who have used the solution for yeas as a method of insect control. Genetic engineers simply remove the gene that produces Bt and insert it into the DNA of corn and cotton plants, making the plant do the work, instead of the farmer. They also say that the Bt toxin is quickly destroyed in our stomach, and even if it survived would not harm humans or any other mammals. However, these arguments are solely that, arguments, which are unsupported and refuted according to a lot of research.
When a study was done, spraying natural Bt over areas in Vancouver and Washington State for months, about 500 people reported reactions, mostly those being allergy or flu-like symptoms. Six of those people had to go to the emergency room, while workers who applied the Bt sprays reported that their eyes, nose, and throats were irritated. Similarly, farmers who were exposed to liquid Bt said that they had reactions such as infection, ulcers on the cornea, skin irritation, burning, swelling, and redness. One woman even reported fever, altered consciousness, and seizures when she was accidentally sprayed with Bt. This proves that the statements of Bt doing no harm on humans is extremely false. As for being destroyed in the digestive system, studies on mice disproved this as well. Results of these, and other, studies showed that plant-produced Bt is always active and much more likely to trigger an immune response than the natural version.
Additional studies in 2005 reported by medical investigators in India found that hundreds of agricultural workers are developing severe allergic reactions when they are exposed to Bt cotton. This exposure includes picking cotton, loading it, cleaning it, or simply leaning against it. Some people that work at ginning factories must take antihistamines daily in order to go to work. These reactions are only trigger with the Bt varieties and the symptoms are virtually identical to those that were described by the 500 people in Vancouver and Washington who were sprayed with Bt.
Another study was done on the basis that Bt-toxin is produced in GM corn and can be eaten intact. It is also in pollen which can be breathed in. Therefore, a village of Filipino people were studied in 2003 when an adjacent Bt cornfield was pollinating. 100 of these people were stricken with disease which included symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, extreme stomach pain, vomiting, chest pains, fever, and allergies, along with respiratory, intestinal, and skin reactions. The symptoms first appeared in those that were living closest to the field and then progressed to those further away. When the same corn was planted in four other villages the following year, the same symptoms returned in all four areas only during the time of pollination.
All of these studies confirm that GM crops engineered to produce built-in pesticides provoke a great variety of immune responses. Allergic reactions are a defensive and often harmful reaction from the immune system to an external irritant that occur when the body interprets something foreign as harmful and offensive and acts accordingly. Since all GM foods have something foreign and different, it is easy to see why the body would react in such ways. As the GM foods arise on the market place make sure you scan each label to make sure you are not buying a GM vegetable of fruit. Check every label this way you will not be stricken with debilitating symptoms that may prevent you from going to work. Always say NO to GM foods and support your organic foods store.
Give Your Health A Boost With Silica Hydride A Powerful Antioxidant
January 18, 2008 05:25 PM
Hydride ions are strong proton acceptors and hence fatal to free radicals. Silica hydride is consequently a powerful antioxidant that can be used to protect your body against the ravaging effects of these free radicals that destroy the cells of your body, and due to its other unique properties this is a molecule that could be a very useful participant in the various redox reactions that occur naturally within our bodies every microsecond of every day of our lives.
A free radical is a positively charged molecule that is deficient in an electron. Whereas stable compounds consist of electron pairs, a free radical consists of electron pairs and one unpaired electron. Although such a compound is not stable, it does not immediately disintegrate but grabs the nearest electron it can find. This would normally be an electron in the nearest body cell to it, whether it is a blood cell, a cell in an artery wall or a skin cell. The result is that the cell that loses the electron is disrupted.
Free radicals are formed in the body through its normal biochemistry, and also promoted by pollutants such as cigarette smoke, pesticides and traffic fumes. Excessive exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of sunlight or sunbeds also creates free radicals, as does excessive exercise, believe it or not. As stated earlier, these chemicals have only one purpose in your body: to grab an electron from wherever they can, and in doing so they destroy the cells that make up your body tissue.
This can lead to premature aging, heart disease and many other problems with your health. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E are important parts of your diet, and silica hydride is an other supplement which has been relatively recently discovered to have antioxidant properties. A component of glacial streams, this substance is generally in colloidal form, or in the form of small particles maintained in suspension by the interaction of positive and negative charges on the surface of the tiny particles of which it consists.
The interface between the silica and water can be saturated with reduced hydrogen to form a surface that is overall negatively charged and can hence neutralize free radicals that are seeking the free electrons available from the negative charge. This is otherwise described as a reducing or anti-oxidant effect. All anti-oxidants play their part in neutralizing the properties of free radicals that result in the destruction of body cells.
This leads to premature aging of your skin, if a skin cell is affected, if it is a cell in your artery wall, then the artery will become damaged, and if a blood cell then you can suffer from any one of a number of abnormal blood conditions. The stealing of an electron from one molecule by another is scientifically termed 'oxidation', and the substances that prevent this from occurring are called antioxidants, or reducing agents.
An antioxidant will destroy free radicals by providing the extra electron, or chemically, a negatively charged hydrogen ion. This occurs practically instantaneously, in microseconds in fact, as soon as the free radical is formed, so you need a good supply of antioxidants in your body at all times. Free radicals do not roam your bloodstream looking for likely candidate cells to destroy – they do it right away with the nearest available, so antioxidants must be present at the time that the free radicals are created.
Other beneficial effects of such antioxidants are an increase in the potential for the mitochondria to generate energy within your cells, an increase in the hydration of body cells and a decrease in lactic acid build–up that occurs as the result of exercise. The negative charges of silica hydride atoms are very strong antioxidants and can dramatically increase the energy production of mitochondria. It has been shown to do so by up to six times in Chinese hamsters. There is more on this claim for such a significant effect on your energy production later.
In addition to its action as an antioxidant, silica hydride is an electron donor to other antioxidants that have been neutralized by reaction with a free radical. When antioxidants do their work they are not destroyed, but neutralized. They act by giving an electron to the free radical, and are then one electron deficient themselves. This could virtually turn them into free radicals also were it not for the other electron donors available. Silica hydride is one of these. Thus, Coenzyme Q10, another very powerful antioxidant, can have is potency regenerated by silica hydride. If you take a silica hydride supplement, you are not only taking an effective antioxidant, but also a substance that can recharge the batteries of other powerful antioxidants.
Another side effect of this substance is that the reacted hydrogen atoms can also be used in the body to maintain a slightly alkaline pH which is an additional health benefit. pH is a measure of the acidity and alkalinity of the body fluids, and should be maintained slightly alkaline, other than in the stomach where the digestive juices are strongly acidic.
Silica hydride is not essential to the body, so you cannot suffer from a deficiency of it. It is not known to be contained in any foodstuff or water source, and appears to be available only as a supplement. Consequently no optimum dosage has been determined, though the supplements available contain from 200 to 250 mg per capsule. Likewise, side effects from it are unknown since there have been few scientific studies carried out on it. It has, however, been described as the ‘perfect antioxidant’.
Some of the claims made for the substance include reducing lactic acid concentration during exercise. Lactic acid production during exercise causes tiredness and cramps, and silica hydride is said to increase the body’s production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) a substance essential for the production of energy in your body. This is through the reduction of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) to the reduced form NADH as a part of glycolysis and the citric acid cycle. Glycolysis is the metabolism of glucose to energy by the mitochondria.
If the claim that silica hydride effects this reduction of NAD to NADH six or seven times stronger than normal were true, then it would indeed be a significant energy booster invaluable to most athletes.
Support Healthy Joint Function With Discount Vitamins
November 22, 2007 11:05 AM
The joints are very important to your mobility and it is essential that you support health joint function with discount vitamins. The reason for discounted vitamins is that there is no need for you to pay more than you have to, and good healthy bones and joints need a good supply of several vitamins, minerals and other substances to remain healthy throughout your lifetime.
Vitamins C and D, and calcium and magnesium are the more common supplements that help to promote joint health, but glucosamine, chondroitin and gelatine also play a large part. Although the strength of the bone is important, it is disorders of the connective tissue that are mostly responsible for joint problems. Connective tissue holds the joint together and prevents excessive friction between bones.
Arthritis in both its forms – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – is characterized by a reduction in the cartilage tissue that provides a lining between the bones that make up the joint. As the cartilage becomes worn or its structure destroyed, the bones are exposed to each other and this causes the frictional damage that is osteoarthritis. With rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, the connective tissue and cartilage are attacked by the body’s immune system, causing inflammation. The reason for this is still unknown, but the inflammation leads to swelling of the joint and severe pain.
Both of these conditions can be helped by the use of glucosamine, a natural substance produced by the body to form cartilage and stimulate the formation of connective tissue. Normally taken in the form of the sulfate, glucosamine reduces arthritic pain, and over time can start to rebuild the lost cartilage. It is best taken in conjunction with chondroitin sulfate which is a substance also contained in cartilage and connective tissue.
A discount vitamin supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin can help to avoid these conditions from occurring. Rheumatoid arthritis also responds well to anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Much of the damage to the joint tissues can be caused by the action of free radicals that are aggressively destructive molecules created by the effects of pollution such as smoking, pesticides, heavy metals, alcohol and they are also produced by many of the processes occurring inside our bodies. The immune system itself creates free radicals to use as a weapon against invaders.
A free radical is a molecule that has lost an electron, especially an oxygenated molecule. The objective of such a molecule is to get back its electron, and it will do that by oxidizing any molecules it comes across: oxidation is the removal of an electron from a substance. Oxidation can destroy cell molecules which is why the aging process occurs through the destruction of body cells through the effect of oxidation by free radicals. They can also destroy the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints.
The molecules that can prevent this are caused antioxidants, and include some of the well known vitamins such as A, C and E, and also other substances such as Coenzyme Q10, fatty acids such as those in Omega 3 fish oils, beta carotene and the minerals zinc and copper are also effective at reducing the inflammation cause by free radical oxidation. These vitamins and minerals will not reduce the pain in your joints, but will relieve other symptoms such as the inflammation, and help the joint to recover.
Vitamin D is another that can help to cause arthritis and joint problems if you are deficient in it. Vitamin D deficiency is not uncommon, especially in those who live in northern climates where they do not get much sunlight. This vitamin helps to build cartilage and to maintain healthy bone density. Vitamin D is found in oily fish and eggs, but the majority of people suffer a deficiency, if only slight in many cases. Discount vitamin supplements containing all of these vitamins and minerals will help to maintain healthy joints. Vitamin A is available naturally from eggs yolks, oily fish and dairy products, and most people know that vitamin C is obtained from fresh fruit and vegetables, especially the highly colored foods that are also rich in other antioxidants such as anthocyanins and carotenoids.
Rich sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and wheat germ. Taking Omega 3 oil supplements will not prevent arthritis, but will help to relieve the inflammation and hence the pain. However, in spite of all of this, the only vitamin that has been extensively tested on patients suffering from osteoarthritis has been vitamin E. It has been established that significant improvements in the condition of patients were achieved by administering from 400-600 International Units (I.U.) of vitamin E daily for two weeks.
Another substance that is a component of connective tissue and that can be taken to help rebuild what is lost in joint disease is hyaluronic acid. This chemical is found all over the body, and involved in the structure of many types of connective tissue, including the joints, the vitreous humor of the eyes and heart valves. In the joints it is rich in the synovial fluid that lubricates the joints, and also found in cartilage.
Although hyaluronic acid is contained in chicken soup, it is obtained mainly from rooster combs, then treated to reduce its molecular size so that it can be absorbed. Anybody allergic to chicken should seek their doctor’s advice on taking hyaluronic acid as a supplement.
It is highly recommended that a vitamin supplement be taken by anybody suffering from any form of arthritis or joint disease, but it is glucosamine that appears the best treatment for long term success. Glucosamine is a very large molecule, and it is difficult to get it to the site of the problem. To get to the joint, the molecule has to pass through the capillaries, and very few glucosamine molecules can actually achieve that.
That is why the doses are so large, so that even if only a small percentage gets to the joint then that is enough to help rebuild cartilage. The antioxidants help to destroy the root cause of many forms of joint disease: the free radicals and anti-inflammatories can help relieve pain. However glucosamine and chondroitin not only relieve the pain, but also continue to work over time to repair the joint tissues. As with most supplements the body can only absorb so much glucosamine, only consume 500mg at a time but take it two to three times each day for best results.
Glucosamine is often provided in conjunction with MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) that is a natural form of dietary sulfur. Sulfur is believed to be essential for healthy soft connective tissues, tendons and so on. Calcium, too, is a useful supplement to take since it help to recover the bone density, but keep in mind that vitamin D is essential for the uptake of calcium, so a vitamin D supplement will be required along with the calcium. Although calcium will not in itself help joint disease, it will help to main a good bone density that is more capable of withstanding the stresses of a reducing cartilage density.
There is therefore quite a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and other substances that can help to support healthy joint function, and also to help repair joint damage, and discount vitamins are the best way to tackle the problem of maintaining a good intake of those that are most effective, namely, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, vitamins A, C, D and E, and supplemental MSM, hyaluronic acid and calcium.
You do not need them all, but only testing will enable you to decide which work for you. You should also contact your physician before taking discount vitamin supplements if you have any other medical problems.
Green Coffee For Protection Against Oxidative Stress
November 17, 2007 11:46 AM
It is recorded that coffee drinking originated in Ethiopia in North East Africa, from where Arab traders introduced the plant to the Middle East. From there it moved to Turkey in the 15th century, where it was highly prized as a daily beverage due its invigorating properties. It is also believed that the infamous Captain John Smith introduced the plant to Virginia.
The Brazilian coffee trade was due largely to the introduction of the bean to that country by the French in 1727, and the Boston Tea Party of 1773 rendered it the only non-alcoholic drink worth consuming by the patriots of 18th century America. Now over 50% of Americans drink coffee daily, although this seems a somewhat conservative estimate, and the tea houses of England have largely been replaced by coffee shops and the ubiquitous Starbucks.
So much for the history of a beverage that has been prized for its stimulant properties, but recent research has established that not only is coffee a stimulating drink, but that it is a strong antioxidant due to its polyphenol content. However, not all forms of coffee have this property, only the green coffee bean before it has been roasted. Polyphenols are very powerful antioxidants that scavenge the free radicals that destroy body cells, and not only accelerate aging but also threaten the health of your cardiovascular system and the health of other major organs.
Free radicals are compounds with a spare electron. Normally the electrons in all stable molecules come in pairs, and any free electron without a partner is like a lovelorn bachelor. It will seek a mate, and take it from wherever it can find one. Usually it secures its partner by stealing an electron from one of our body cells. This can totally destroy the cell, as it might anybody who has its partner stolen, and cell destruction is not a good thing. It is the destruction of body cells that promotes the appearance that aging brings: the wrinkles and the loss of energy that is generated by healthy cellular activity.
Antioxidants destroy these free radicals, and come in a number of different guises. Vitamins A, C and E are all powerful antioxidants, as are many of the compounds that are essential to our biochemistry such as beta carotene and polyphenols. These polyphenols are found in practically all plants to a greater or lesser degree, and another rich source is grapes, and those found in green coffee beans are what are known as hydroxycinnamic acids the most abundant of which is caffeic acid. Another is chlorogenic acid, and together they form a very potent team in preventing the oxidation by free radicals of LDL (low density lipoprotein).
Low density lipoproteins are those that carry cholesterol from the liver to areas of the body that need first aid due to damage, such the arterial walls. However, this can be attacked by free radicals and oxidized which results in the deposition of excess cholesterol that can build up till it eventually constricts, and sometimes completely blocks, the major cardiac arteries. This is a serious condition known as atherosclerosis that can eventually lead to cardiac disease and arrest or to strokes if the artery is in the brain.
Not only do chlorogenic and caffeic acid help to prevent this from occurring, but they also help to prevent the cellular degeneration caused by the free radicals. They must be extracted from the green coffee bean because roasting or heating in any way, including brewing, destroys them. In fact, brewed coffee contains some potentially harmful substances called diterpenes that some believe can increase your chances of coronary disease by up to fifth if you drink coffee regularly over your lifetime.
It is also believed that green coffee extract can reduce the risk of diabetes due to its effect on your blood glucose levels. Evidence is coming to light that some polyphenols, including chlorogenic acid, might have inhibiting properties on the activity of glucose-6-phosphate, otherwise known as Robison Ester, which is involved in the metabolism of blood glucose and which is affected by diabetes which reduces its concentration. Chlorogenic acid is though to be able to redress this imbalance and not only reduce blood glucose levels, but increase the glycogen stored in the liver as an emergency energy source for the body.
Green coffee bean extract also possesses other beneficial properties, not the least of which is its effect in increasing the metabolism of fats in relation to carbohydrates. This assists in weight loss and also increases stamina. The decrease in the risk of diabetes of up to 50% in men, and slightly less in women, could be due to a combination of the regulation of glucose-6-phosphate and the regulation of blood glucose levels and glucose and weight management in general. The vast majority of diabetes patients are overweight.
In animal studies, the presence of chlorogenic acid appears to reduce the hyperglycemic peak that arises through the action of glucagon, a hormone used to counter hypoglycemia. The fact that chlorogenic acid reduced this sugar peak indicates its potential use in reducing abnormally high blood glucose levels. Another effect of this was an increase in the animal’s glycogen level and in the level of glucose-6-phosphate in the liver.
This indicates a reduction in glycogenolysis, by which glycogen is ultimately converted to glucose-6-phosphate and glucose, thus increasing the blood glucose levels and also of gluconeogenesis which is the production of glucose from carbohydrates and some glucogenic amino acids. In other words, green coffee bean extract can help to regulate blood glucose levels by preventing the liver from producing glucose from glycogen and carbohydrates.
However, the biochemistry apart, it must be stressed that these benefits are not obtained by drinking coffee, and it has to be repeated that the active agents in providing them are destroyed by the roasting and brewing processes. It is only the green coffee beans that can be used for protection of oxidative stress of human body cells and the gradual degradation into premature aging and many other related conditions.
Are Inflammation, Immunity, And Allergic Reactions A Role For Supplements?
November 10, 2007 11:29 AM
Inflammation, immunity diseases and allergic reactions are all connected with your immune system, and the way the body reacts to what it considers to be foreign invaders that are a risk to your health. Although you may not understand that all three have the basic underlying cause, in fact they do, and here is why.
Inflammation manifests as pain and swelling in the inflamed area, and not only can the area also get hot, but it can also raise your temperature in general, commonly called a fever. Fever is the body’s way of raising temperature above that at which foreign organisms such as bacteria and viruses can live, so any inflammatory condition that results in fever by definition must be an immune response through the body trying to eliminate foreign invaders.
If your body gets injured in any way, your immune system responds, and usually calms down again if decides that the injury is not serious. Your immune system is actually initiated by what are known as pro-inflammatory hormones, such as prostaglandins that stimulate the nerves to signal pain and swell the blood vessels close to the injury to make room for the large white blood cells when they arrive. That also allows blood and plasma to rush out and cause swelling at the site of the injury. Other prostaglandins act to quell the immune response, and get your body back to normal.
Another such hormone is a cytokine, which informs the brain of the intrusion. Some cytokines called leukocytes stop the immune system when necessary to prevent the destruction of healthy tissue, and also halt the inflammatory response. If the leukocytes are not working properly, the body can be severely damaged as the immune system becomes uncontrolled and starts to attack healthy tissue.
Then there are the histamines that allow you to expel the agents causing the problem by sneezing, watery eyes, runny noses and scratching. They lead lymphatic fluid and blood to the site of the problem in order that the invasion can be attacked and destroyed.
It is the histamines that provide what is commonly referred to as an allergic reaction, which is really the immune system coming into action to remove invaders such as pollen, dust mites and any other agent that can cause an allergy. Immunity is caused by introducing small amounts of the agent into the blood, so that the immune system can develop a memory of them. Then, when the same invader returns at a later date, the system can immediately attack them with the antibodies that have been produced.
All of these: inflammation, immunity and allergies, are caused by the reaction of the immune system to what it perceives as an invader. Normally these are bacteria and viruses, but sometimes they react to other foreign bodies such as pollen. In some people this provokes no response at all, while in others it provokes the immune system to create antibodies against the pollen, and emit histamine to expel it.
Substances that cause allergies are referred to as allergens. Many allergens are environmental, such as dust, pollen and peanuts. Some people are allergic to certain animals, such as cats or dogs, and others to chemicals in the air such as hydrocarbon emissions, particularly when in particulate form.
The symptoms can be simple, such as a runny nose, a cough and hay fever or more complex such as hives, eczema and asthma. All of these are caused by the immune system reacting to an invader. There are also foods that cause internal inflammation, such as shellfish and whitefish, eggs and tomatoes. Many of these can be extreme, leading to serious illness and can even be fatal. So what can be done to treat people who are particularly prone to inflammation and allergic reactions?
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce inflammation, unlike their Omega-6 cousins that appear to increase it. Omega-3 oils contain chemicals known as eicosanoids, of which the prostaglandins are an example. While this might seem paradoxical, since prostaglandins are what set off the whole process, there are many types of these. Prostaglandin E2 is the type that leads to allergic immune reactions, and omega-3 fatty acids reduce the concentration of these in the blood.
Those who eat little fish tend to suffer more from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and other conditions indicating a lack of control of the immune system. On the other hand, processed foods contain more omega-6 fatty acids that can promote these conditions. The major components of omega-3 oils are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and also DHA, docosahexaenoic acid. These are all anti-inflammatories and have been shown to have very positive effects on inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and eczema. Each of these is a different type of inflammatory condition caused by inappropriate immune response.
However, it not just fish oils that can help resolve problems with our immune system. Quercetin is what is known as a flavonoid. It is a strong anti-oxidant and natural anti-histamine that combats histamine release and the swelling associated with the immune response to allergens. It also counters the inflammatory agents of arthritis and so helps to reduce the pain associated with many of these conditions. It appears to work better in conjunction with bromelain, a very powerful anti-inflammatory that also possesses anti-allergen response properties. Bromelain is extracted from pineapple stems.
Another natural product is a resin extract that is obtained from the Boswellia serrata tree. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and has been recommended for the treatment of arthritis (rheumatoid and osteo), Crohn’s disease and has been suggested as a treatment for asthma, though studies are still under way. However, world wide experience is that Boswellia is effective against gout, psoriasis and ulcerative colitis, to name another three totally different inflammatory conditions.
What all of this indicates are two things. First that inflammation, immunity and allergic reactions are connected conditions, and due to either poor control over or an over stimulated immune response to what the body perceives as being abnormal, in the way that hormones and other chemicals that are used to control our immunity detect it to be.
Secondly, there are many natural products that can be used as supplements to treat these effects caused by the immune system, and that their effectiveness has been proven, if not by scientific study, then by generations of traditional application as treatments of the symptoms of the conditions concerned.
However, although many have been proved by scientific study, others have not, and you should always refer to your physician before undergoing any treatment other than that prescribed. Also, there is incontrovertible evidence that the role for supplements in the treatment of inflammation, immunity and allergic reactions are beneficial. Many use nothing else.
Artemisinin For Better Health And Wellness
October 25, 2007 02:09 PM
Artemisinin, also called Ching-hao-su is a herbal medicine extracted from the sweet wormwood herb, also known as the Artemisia annua. Asians have been using the leaf for centuries to cure simple ailments such as colds and parasitic infections, but it has recently become big business for its effect on malaria.
Sweet wormwood is predominantly a Chinese herb, used for over a thousand years for treatment of a large variety of conditions including malaria. It has also been used to treat wound and skin diseases, and has been recorded as far back as 200 BC as a component of Chinese prescriptions for specific illnesses.
Although the origins of sweet wormwood are in Asia however, it is now grown throughout the temperate regions of the world, and reaches its best in midsummer. Although best known today for its use in treating malaria, its medical uses include treating bronchitis, fevers and general feelings of malaise. It is primarily grown now for the supplement industry and as a non-prescriptive natural cure for malaria. It is a common and favorite herb for Chinese herbalists and sold both in the herbal form and as the extracted artemisinin.
Although there is a wide variation in the artemisinin content of sweet wormwood according to where it is grown, and under different agricultural conditions, it is the main active ingredient. Chemically, it is a sesquiterpene lactone containing an endoperoxide bridge that will be discussed later.
In order to attain the optimum yield of active artemisinin, the plant has to be grown in the right site for cultivation and fed with the correct fertilizers, the proper strain of the herb must be selected and the method of extracting the active chemicals is also critical. These are secrets that have been used for centuries by the Chinese herbalists who are masters of their craft and are now known to the west and being applied to scientific production of the extract.
There are benefits of artemisinin other than its effect on malaria, but that is the best known of its uses, so let’s have a look at that first. The herb has been used for a long time to treat parasitic infections, mainly flukes and worms that place great strains on the body having not only to feed these unwanted creatures, but also to excrete their waste and by-products. Malaria is caused by such a parasite, any one of four types in fact, and artemisinin appears to be just as effective on them.
The chemical contains what is known as an endoperoxide bridge that reacts with iron. The product of this reaction is a free radical, normally unwelcome in the body. However, malaria parasites contain high levels of iron, and the artemisinin reacts with that iron, forming free radicals that then go on to kill off the parasite. The free radicals that we take supplements to destroy, actually work for us in the destruction of the parasite that cause malaria. There is a silver lining in every cloud!
The reason that the medical world is so excited with this material is that malaria is second only to tuberculosis in its impact on world health. The problem is that the parasites that cause it have become largely resistant to the normal cures. They are not, however, resistant to the endoperoxide chemistry contained by artemisinin. It is now the major hope of world leaders in the fight to stop the inexorable increase in deaths due to malaria.
Now for the other applications. Another major use of the chemical is in the fight against cancer. Those cancers that involve iron rich cells can be disrupted by artemisinin by the same mechanism that kills off malaria bacteria. It is not only parasites that are susceptible to free radical action, but also human cells, and if these can be selectively destroyed, then it is a step forward towards a cure for cancer. Such a cure does not yet exist, but mechanisms such as the endoperoxide bridge provide a means of controlling at least some cancers, the best results being obtained with leukemia and colon cancer. That is not to say, however, that cures for these cancers are currently available since tests are still under way. However, it would do no harm to use sweet wormwood or the artemisinin extract as a supplement.
Cancer cells tend to accumulate iron because it is needed in the cell division process that cancer takes advantage of. However, if cancer cells could be persuaded to accumulate more surface iron, or were artificially exposed to it, then perhaps the endoperoxide mechanism would be more effective. Studies on this mechanism of controlling cancer are currently under way.
At a more mundane level, if you suffer from intestinal parasites, then one or two milligrams each day should see them off. It has also been effectively used to deal with colds, coughs and other general conditions, but most effectively against those that cause fever of one kind or another. It has been used in Chinese medicine as a form of ‘cure-all’ to be used when specific remedies failed. Its greatest current uses are, however, in cancer and especially malarial treatments.
You have to be careful with artemisinin since it can be toxic if taken in the wrong form. The least toxic, and most active, is the water soluble form known as artesunate. However, it lasts the least time in the body and has to get to work quickly. The oil soluble form, artemether, is the most toxic, but can cross from the blood to the brain. However, the parent form, artemisinin is the very safe itself, and can also cross the blood-brain barrier and while some tend to use a combination of the three, others prefer just the parent form.
If you take too high a dose you can suffer neurotoxicity which makes you wobble when you walk, and makes you impervious to certain levels of pain. However, such doses are next to impossible accidentally, and there have been very few reports of adverse effects in humans. It should not be used for at least a month after you have had radiation therapy because that tends to release iron that can be attacked to form free radicals. The recommended dose is 200 – 100 mg daily though the doses should be spread throughout the day. It should also never be taken within 2 hours of any other antioxidant such as vitamins A, C and E. Otherwise artemisinin can be safely used for better health and wellness in the way that the Chinese have been using it for centuries. Artemisinin is available at your local or internet vitamin store.
Pumpkin Seed Oil is good for your health
October 14, 2007 05:34 PM
Pumpkin seed oil, as the name suggests, is obtained from pumpkin seeds, which can also be eaten roasted in the same way that people eat sunflower seeds. When roasted, they are coated in a sauce such as Worcester sauce and then heated in low oven for a long period of time. The secret of roasting them to maintain their nutritional value is to keep the temperature low and the cooking time high.
The seeds are regarded as a ‘superfood’ that is rich in vitamins A and E, the essential fatty acids known as Omega 3 and Omega 6, zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium. The seed is known as a pepita in North and South America.
The oil is reddish green and many people find it delicious. It is best when used raw, and can be drunk in the form of smoothies or shakes, or used as a salad dressing. Some also enjoy drinking it raw, and using it as a spread instead of butter or margarine. The benefits it provides to the human body are a healthy brain function, increased energy and it has a special use in maintaining a healthy prostate gland.
The vitamin E content is high, especially gamma-tocopherol, and it has a high antioxidant effect with consequent anti-inflammatory properties. Its effect on arthritis, and inflammatory disease, has been investigated and the inclusion of pumpkin seeds in the diet has been found to reduce the inflammatory symptoms of the condition with a consequent reduction in pain. In fact, in a comparison test with indomethacin, a common arthritis treatment, pumpkin seeds compared very well and in fact had a more positive effect on the damage to the fats in the joint linings than did indomethacin, which tends to increase the concentration of lipid peroxides rather than reduce them.
Its effect on the prostate gland is partially due to its high zinc content that is present in a higher concentration in the prostate than in any other gland in the body, and also to its effect on the hormones that cause the gland to grow and swell to the extent that it constricts or completely blocks the urethra, the tube connecting the bladder to the outside of the body. This is caused by an enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT causes the over-proliferation of the prostate cells.
The reason for the effect of pumpkin seed oil on DHT is still under discussion, but some believe that it is connected with the zinc content and others with the high level of delta-7-sterine in the seed. The sterine appears to neutralize the effect of the DHt on the growth of prostate cells.
In addition to prostate enlargement, Osteoporosis is another problem associated with aging in men. It has been estimated that men over 50 have a 12.5% chance of suffering a fracture due to brittle bones, and it is though that this is connected with a deficiency of zinc. In fact a clear correlation has been established between osteoporosis in older men and low levels of zinc and the diet and in the blood. Pumpkins seeds, as already mentioned, are rich in zinc, and the benefits of their use as a supplement to avoid an enlarged prostate is reinforced by their effect in protecting against osteoporosis.
Pumpkin seeds contain a high concentration of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These are specifically useful in protecting the cardiovascular system and prevent atherosclerosis. They also contain plant sterols known as phytosterols that are believed to help reduce the blood concentration of cholesterol. This types of sterols are the basis of the ‘cholesterol busting’ drinks that are sold in supermarkets. They also help to strengthen the immune system and are believe to help reduce the risk of contracting some types of cancer.
Pumpkin seed oil is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, an important unsaturated fatty acid that some studies have indicated can be used to prevent metastaes (the spread of the disease) development in patients with breast cancer. The most prized type of oil is that from Syrian oil, from the province of Steiermark in Austria. Such pumpkins are also grown in parts of North America, and the best oil is said to come from the first pressing, the so-called ‘virgin’ oil. If used in cooking, the temperature must be kept low, since many of the nutrients are destroyed much over 100 Celsius.
A little known use for pumpkin seed oil is in eradicating intestinal parasites. Many people are embarrassed at requesting professional help for worms, and pumpkin seeds are the ideal home remedy. The act almost immediately, and two or three hours after taking them, or the oil, then you should take a laxative. You should the parasites being removed with the bowel motions.
The worms are not actually killed, but are paralyzed, and cannot prevent themselves being removed with the bowel movement. If a laxative is not taken, however, they will recover and there will be no effect. As with any remedy for a health condition, therefore, it is necessary to understand how the seeds or oil work to help to remove the horrible parasites from your body. They are very common, and any self-help or natural remedy that actually works will undoubtedly be very popular, but if it is not understood that these creatures must be expelled from your body while paralyzed, then pumpkin seeds or oil will not work.
Those that failed to understand the process would then complain that the treatment does not work. In fact, it does work, and if the worms are expelled when they are unable to remain in your intestines then they will be removed. You must “read the instructions on the bottle” for the contents to work.
Pumpkin seed oil is a very potent mixture of chemicals that can cure or control a large number of conditions, and it is essential that you understand why you are using them. They can be used as a supplement to your diet, though it is easy to wonder why you should take this antioxidant rather than another.
Find out what pumpkin seed oil can do for you, and if it applies to you then use it. There are stronger antioxidants, and better foods to take in an attempt to protect from certain conditions. However, there are certain circumstances when pumpkin seeds will do the job better than most other supplements, and if you can fit them into your regular diet then they will not only do you ‘no harm’, as they say, but will do you a great deal of good. Look for organic pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed oil at your local health food store.
Supplements to Fight Prostate Cancer
July 29, 2007 11:41 AM
Prostate Cancer and Nutritional Supplements
Years of research have discovered that the foods a man chooses to eat (or doesn’t eat) can have a profound impact on the health of his prostate gland. Because of this close nutritional link, prostate cancer may be the most preventable type of cancer (after smoking-related lung cancers).
Recently, there has been an incredible amount of research and investigation of prostate cancer. Many of these studies have explored the use of certain nutrients to prevent and actually treat prostate cancer. These nutrients, calcium D-glucarate selenium, broccoli, green tea, maitake, and lycopene are powerful prostate cancer fighters. All are available as nutritional supplements that men can take every day as an important part of a healthy diet.
In this issue of Ask the Doctor, we will discuss prostate cancer and how men can actually prevent it with the use of these six nutrients. Plus, if men already have prostate cancer, these nutrients can be an important part of their treatment regimen in fighting their disease.
Q. What does the prostate gland do?
A. The prostate is a gland in a man’s reproductive system. It makes and stores seminal fluid, the milky fluid that nourishes sperm. This fluid is released to form part of the semen. The prostate is about the size of a walnut and it is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate actually wraps around the upper part of the urethra, the tube that empties urine from the bladder through the penis.
Q. What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
A. Early prostate cancer often does not cause any symptoms. However, many symptoms of prostate cancer are also symptoms of other problems with the prostate, such as an infection or benign prostatic hyperplasia, a prostate enlargement associated with age-related changes.
A man who has any of these symptoms should see his health care practitioner for evaluation:
-A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
-Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
-Inability to urinate
-Painful or burning urination
-Difficulty in having an erection
-Blood in urine or semen
-Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
Q. Are certain men more prone to get prostate cancer?
A. Age is the biggest risk factor: most prostate cancers occur in men over 65 years of age. A man’s risk for developing prostate cancer is higher if his father or brother has had the disease. African-Americans are at higher risk for the disease. Mechanics, farmers, sheet metal workers, and workers exposed to cadmium have also had high rates of prostate cancer.
Q. How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
A. A man who has any of these risk factors may want to ask his health care professional whether to begin screening for prostate cancer (even though he does not have any symptoms), what tests to have, and how often to have them.
The usual prostate tests include: Digital rectal exam: the doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels the prostate through the rectal wall to check for hard or lumpy areas.
Blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA): a lab measures the levels of PSA in a blood sample. The level of PSA may rise in men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia (a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland), or an infection in the prostate.
These tests will only determine if there is a problem with a man’s prostate gland. They cannot determine if the problem is cancer. Only a biopsy of a sample of prostate tissue can reveal the presence of actual prostate cancer.
Q. What nutrients help prevent or treat prostate cancer?
A. The prostate health nutrients, calcium D-glucarate, selenium, broccoli, green tea, maitake, and lycopene, each work in unique ways. Some help men’s bodies’ work more effectively some keep cancer cells from growing, while others actually kill prostate cancer cells. Let’s discuss each nutrient and how it works.
It is a troubling fact of modern life that we are continuously exposed to cancer-causing chemicals and toxins. These toxins come in part from contaminants in the food we eat and pollutants in the air we breathe. There are also “natural” toxins that are produced in our bodies. Excess hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, can cause cancer when they are no longer needed. Cancer causing chemicals not only initiate cancer, but exposure to them can also cause existing cancers to grow bigger, stronger, and more deadly.
Our bodies do a fairly good job of eliminating some of these toxins before they can cause us harm. In the liver, the toxin is bound or attached to a chemical called glucuronic acid. The bound toxin is then excreted in bile and eventually eliminated as a waste product in the stool. However, yet another chemical, an enzyme called glucoronidase, can break this bond between the toxin and glucuronic acid. When this happens, the hormone or toxin is released back into our bodies, capable of causing us harm once more. The longer the toxins and excess hormones are in our bodies, the greater the chances they can make us seriously sick. Scientists have discovered that increased glucuronidase activity in the body is strongly associated with prostate cancer.
Fortunately, scientists have also discovered that a natural substance found in foods, calcium D-glucarate, can greatly reduce the activity of glucuronidase. Calcium D-glucarate helps our bodies keep the harmful toxins and chemicals bound to glucuronic acid. While CDG is found in fruits and vegetables, the amounts may not be sufficient to maintain effective levels to stop beta-glucuronidase. CDG has been shown in many experimental studies to significantly stop prostate cancer growth. Studies have shown that by taking calcium D-glucarate, our bodies and get rid of the toxic chemicals and excess hormones that might stimulate cancer formation.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral fund in the soil. Both plant foods like oatmeal and meats that we eat, such as chicken and beef, contain selenium. How much selenium, however, is difficult to determine. This is because the amount of selenium in soil, which varies by region, determines the amount of selenium in the plant foods that are grown in that soil. Animals, too, will have varying levels of selenium in their muscle, depending on the amount of selenium in their feed. The actual selenium level in the grasses and grains that make up animal feed reflect the amount of the selenium in the soil where they grew.
A major antioxidant, selenium slows down aging, keeps our skin supple, and helps prevent dandruff. Selenium also keeps our blood vessels healthy and protects us from heart disease. However, some of selenium’s most powerful effects are on the prostate gland.
In a recent study, researchers recruited 974 men to take part in a large clinical trial to determine if selenium could prevent cancer. Half of the men were given selenium supplements and half were given a placebo. Researchers, who did know which group got the placebo, watched and recorded the men’s progress. The researchers were amazed to learn that selenium cut the rate of prostate cancer by 63%!
The results of this study were so impressive that it has led to many other studies of selenium and prostate cancer. In fact, researchers at the
Scientists have observed over for a long period of time, that men who eat lots of broccoli have a lower risk of getting prostate cancer. It seems that sulforaphane, a compound abundant in broccoli, is the secret ingredient responsible for this connection. Sulforaphane increases certain enzymes in the body, called phase 2 enzymes, which deactivate cancer-causing chemicals. In lab experiments, prostate cancer cells that were exposed to sulforaphane, the compound inhibited the growth of the cancer cells up to 80 percent.
There is a potent plant substance in green tea that is a very effective killer of prostate cancer cells. A recent study tested four common components of green tea and determined that one of these compounds, epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, has a special affinity for prostate cancer cells. Scientists discovered that EGCG can stop the growth of prostate cancer dead in its tracks. The chemical structure of EGCG is very similar to substances in red wine and cruciferous vegetables, known cancer killers.
For many years, maitake mushrooms have been linked to good health in those who eat them. Called “dancing mushrooms” (possibly due to their wavy, rippling appearance or possibly due to the little dance of joy mushroom hunters perform when they find them in the woods), maitakes contain an important compound called D-fraction.
A recent study at
Some of the most exciting nutritional news in relation to prostate health involves lycopene. This carotenoid is found primarily in tomatoes, and men who eat lots of cooked tomatoes have very low rates of prostate cancer. Because promising preliminary reports demonstrate that lycopene can actually kill prostate cancer cells, there has been an explosion of lycopene and prostate cancer studies.
In one of these studies, 32 prostate cancer patients ate a pasta meal covered with three-fourths cup of tomato sauce every day for three weeks. Results showed their PSA levels dropped two points. Even signs of DNA damage dropped sharply. The ability of lycopene to drop these levels in just three weeks has impressed researchers and scientists worldwide.
Q. Do I have to take each nutrient separately?
A. While you can purchase each one of these nutrients and take them separately, all of these nutrients are available in prostate health formulas. Make sure the formula you buy contains calcium d-glucarate, lycopene, and selenium, broccoli standardized to contain a minimum of 125 mcg sulforaphane, green tea, and maitake mushroom extract. Standardized ingredients provide consistently effective nutrients.
Q. What else can men do to prevent prostate cancer?
A. Adopting a healthy diet, including eating 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, eating several servings of whole grain cereals and bread, and reducing red meat consumption to 2 or 3 servings per week has been shown to reduce the risk of all kinds of cancer. In addition, the recent lycopene studies suggest that a diet that regularly includes tomato-based foods may help protect men from prostate cancer.
Men 50 years and older should have a digital rectal exam (DRE) and PSA test each year. African-Americans and those at higher risk should begin at age 40. Talk with your health care professional to determine how frequently the test should be done.
This year doctors expect to find 180,000 new cases of prostate cancer is the
More cancers are caught early and new treatments might help make it possible for men to live long and healthy lives following their diagnosis. By taking a few simple steps, men diagnosed with prostate cancer can take charge of their lives and overcome much of the fear and anxiety that accompany a cancer diagnosis.
Supplements for Children
June 26, 2007 09:51 PM
Supplements for Children
While most parents try hard to make nutritious meals for their family, most children find the appeal of refined, fast, and junk food simply overwhelming. And, sadly, increasingly easy to buy and consume, as well. From kindergarten through 12th grade, in both grade schools and high schools, vending machines offer calorie laden candy bars, sugar-filled soft drinks, and snack foods loaded with fat and salt. Many school cafeterias actually sell fast-food to children for lunch every day. In fact, it seems almost everywhere children go and gather, visually enticing but nutritionally lacking snacks and soft drinks are sure to be available.
Determined to counteract this disturbing trend, parents everywhere are urgently seeking solutions to help their children get the nutrition they need. One answer is supplemental multivitamins. There are certainly plenty of multivitamins formulated for children currently on the market. However, these products vary considerably in quality and content. Some lack certain vital nutrients. Some taste terrible. Still others are loaded with sugar and artificial flavorings. The good news is that there are superior multivitamins and exceptional immune boosting products formulated specifically for children that actually taste great. In this issue of Ask the Doctor, we will discuss childhood nutrition and how to help ensure your children’s health with high quality, 100% natural flavored nutritional supplements.
Q. Do children really benefit from vitamin supplements? Can’t I make sure they get the vitamins and minerals they need from meals?
A. Even the most nutritionally vigilant parent cannot be 100% certain what nutrients are in the food they serve their children. That’s because there’s so much variability in the food we prepare. For instance, fat-soluble vitamins can withstand normal cooking, but vitamins A and E are gradually destroyed by exposure to air. Water-soluble vitamins such as B1, B6, folic acid, and pantothenic acid are destroyed by heat. Vitamin B2 is destroyed by light and heat, while light and air destroy vitamin C. Certain food preservatives and preparation methods also destroy the vitamins in food. To further complicate matters, some fruit and vegetables are grown and harvested in such a way that does not promote nutrient content – so even raw foods may be lacking.
Then there are those crazy food phases all children seemingly go through. While these phases are generally harmless in the long run, a recent alarming exception was in the news. A five-year old boy ate nothing but cheese pizza, Pop-tarts, biscuits, and water, refusing fruits, vegetables, juices and vitamins. He slowly developed limp, swollen gums, and small purple spots appeared on his skin. After five months of this extremely deficient diet, he was unable to walk or get out of bed because the pain was so severe. Doctors diagnosed the boy as having a severe vitamin C deficiency after ruling out other ailments such as leukemia. Within a week of getting vitamin C supplements, the boy’s pain and other symptoms were completely resolved. Obviously, this little boy’s story is unusual. However, even mild food phases (such as “If It’s Green It Must Be Yucky” or “The Only Good Crust Is A Cut-Off Crust”) can result in awfully lop-sided nutrition.
Q. Can multivitamins help my child’s performance in school?
A. Most teachers firmly believe that nutrition and learning go hand in hand. They are convinced that children who are well nourished possess the mental stamina that’s needed to learn and retain even difficult concepts. But can multivitamins help children become better students?
Two independent research teams recently conducted randomized trials to find the answer. The researchers followed 245 school-children aged 6 to 12 years for three months. They gave half of the children multivitamin tablets every day, and half of the children placebos. When the children were tested, the children in the multivitamins group showed an increase in their nonverbal intelligence scores. Nonverbal intelligence is closely associated with academic performance.
Q. I can’t get my children to take 100% natural flavored multivitamins because they don’t taste very appealing. Isn’t there some way to make a 100% natural multivitamin taste good enough for my children to willingly take?
A. Yes, there is! Because most children need chewable multivitamins, manufacturers need to contend with the truly terrible taste of certain minerals. Magnesium, iodine, copper, and iron are probably the worst tasting. Some solve this dilemma by skimping on the amounts of these minerals in their children’s formulas. Others cover up the bad taste with either massive amounts of sugar or artificial flavors, or both.
However, a select few multivitamin makers have discovered how to offer a natural flavored, great tasting children’s multivitamin that contains these vital minerals. The best children’s vitamins are prepared in a base of natural fruit that provides both antioxidants and other healthy phytonutrients. Children’s multivitamins made in such a fruit base have very low sugar content, as well, providing as little as four calories a day. Fructose – fruit sugar – is the preferred sweetening agent, in addition to the fruit content.
Q. What vitamins should be in a multivitamin for children?
A. There are several vitamins and minerals that children need to take each and every day. They include biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamins B12, B1, A, B6, C, D, E, and K. Let’s review a few. We’ll start with folate, one of the B vitamins. This vital vitamin helps the body use protein, helps make DNA, helps cells grow and divide, and keeps the nervous system healthy. In fact, folate is so important to children that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated that folate must be added to many foods most children eat daily. Since 1998, cereal, enriched bread, flour corn meal, rice, and pasta have been folate-fortified with this B vitamin.
One of folate’s vital actions is the reduction of homocysteine levels in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid (the building block of protein) that is normally produced in the human body. Research has shown that high levels of homocysteine can irritate blood vessels, make blood clot more easily than it should, and cause blockages in arteries increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes .
However, study after study has proven that taking folate reduces harmful homocysteine levels. While most of this research has been in adults, a recent study looked at children’s homocysteine levels. Researchers examined over 3500 children and discovered that high homocysteine levels increased the risk for heart disease in these children, especially as they grow. The researchers leading this study reinforced how critical folate is for all children.
Other critical vitamins for children are the vitamins C and E. The rates of childhood asthma have increased significantly here in the
Q. Which minerals do children need?
A. It is absolutely crucial that children get calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc, and phosphorus every day. Sadly, however, the majority of our children are not getting the recommended amounts of many of these vital minerals. Children in
According to statistics from the National Institutes of Health, only 13.5 percent of girls and 36.3 percent of boys age 12 to 19 in the
Lack of adequate calcium has immediate consequences for children, as well. The number of fractures among children and young adults has increased as a direct result of poor calcium intake. Pediatricians are also seeing children with rickets, a bone disease caused by low levels of vitamin D. Rickets became almost nonexistent after vitamin D was added to milk in the 1950s, but, due to lower milk consumption, is now appearing at greater rates around the country. And milk itself can be problematic for some children. Aside from alarming reports of hormones and herbicides in commercial dairy factory milk, even organic milk is not tolerated by all because of lactose intolerance and allergies.
Zinc is another mineral that’s vital for children. Because zinc is critical for normal growth and development, children need to take it every day. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, however, found more than half of US children ages two to 10 years fail to get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc. What’s even more troubling is that zinc is vitally connected to children’s ability to process information, pay attention, as well as remember and retain new information
Zinc does a lot to keep children healthy. More than 200 enzymes in our bodies rely on zinc. However, it’s zinc’s ability to connect with our immune systems to help fight infections that is crucial for children. While researchers are not certain how zinc precisely boosts a child’s immunity, they think that zinc might fight pneumonia and other infections by either enhancing the body’s immune status, preventing the infection from establishing itself, or improving the immune system’s ability to rid itself of the infecting organism. It’s possible that zinc does all three.
Q. No matter what I do, my children seem to come down with bad colds each year. Besides giving them a multivitamin, are there other nutritional supplements that can keep my children healthy?
A. Absolutely! In fact, there are 100% natural flavored children’s immune formula nutritional supplements that contain their good buddy zinc, vitamins B6, C, and A (as beta carotene), plus elderberry extract. Elderberry extract has been used as a traditional medicine for hundreds of years to treat colds and flu. And as it so often happens, scientific research has validated this use. In fact, scientists have discovered that elderberry keeps viruses from invading other cells and replicating. It also spurs important immune cells into action to fight invading germs.
While we previously discussed vitamin C’s ability to help children with asthma breathe easier, it also provides powerful immune protection. It speeds up the healing of wounds, such as those knee and elbow scrapes so common in childhood. However, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and can’t be stored in the body. It must be replenished every day. When children are under increased stress (like when they get sick with a cold or flu), their vitamin C levels are more rapidly depleted.
Vitamin B6 is also water-soluble and can only work in children’s bodies for eight hours. Then more B6 must be obtained. Vitamin B6 strengthens the immune system by helping white blood cells make antibodies. Vitamin A helps make lysozymes, important anti-infectious agents found in tears, saliva, and sweat. It also stimulates the thymus gland, an important immune organ, especially in children, to work better.
Q. Should children take an immune formula every day or only when they are sick?
A. It can be taken several ways. Some parents may want to give the formula when school first starts or other times that their children are exposed to lots of germs. For a child who suffers from asthma or seasonal allergies or just seems to get sick frequently, parents could provide the immune formula every day, increasing the dose when needed. And still others might feel it’s best to give their children the immune formula only whey they do catch a cold or have the flu.
No matter how it is given, the 100% all natural flavored, immune boosting nutritional supplement can provide powerful protection against all those disease-causing germs your children are exposed to every day.
The nutritional choices we make for our children today will have a profound effect on their health tomorrow. Recent research has revealed that diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and cancer in adults often result form nutritional deficiencies that occurred in childhood.
Thankfully, the reverse is just as true. This means that children who are well nourished with an optimal intake of minerals, vitamins, and helpful herbs can grow into healthy and happy adults. Providing high quality multivitamins and immune boosting nutritional supplements for our children can be an important part of that process.
Growing Older, Feeling Better
March 28, 2007 02:15 PM
Growing Older, Feeling Better
Not long ago, when a man turned sixty-five, he became officially old – the best years of his life far behind him. The milestone meant his working days were done and if he was lucky, he might get four or five years to spend as he wished before illness and infirmity set in. It was simply expected and accepted that the older a man got, the sicker he got.
Well, not anymore. Today, a man age 65 is just as likely to be found hiking in the hills, running in a marathon, or even dancing in the streets than rocking in that proverbial front porch rocker. Because it’s becoming more and more evident that the older a man gets, the healthier that man has been.
Eating healthy, exercising, and kicking harmful habits (like smoking) can add years to a man’s life. Aging research is proving over and over again, that we can prevent and delay heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease – the major causes of disability and death in men over 50.
Now, it’s very true that good clean living from early on is preferable to sixty five years of bad habits and five years of good. But it’s also true that it’s never too late for men to make changes and vow to take better care of themselves. And one of the easiest and most effective ways men can improve their health is the addition of high quality nutritional supplements.
In this issue of Ask the Doctor, we’ll talk about specific dietary supplements that have been scientifically shown to improve the health of men over fifty, prevent the diseases that often strike at this crucial time in men’s lives, and actually slow the aging process.
Q. I just turned 50 and I’d like to begin taking nutritional supplements, but they seem so confusing. Where should I begin?
A. Many men feel the same way. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of nutritional supplements on health food store shelves. Figuring out which supplements provide the best health benefits for a 50+ man can be overwhelming.
The best foundation supplement is a high quality multivitamin. Research is repeatedly finding that even very healthy men who take daily multivitamins can significantly improve their health. In fact, an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recommends that all adult Americans take a vitamin supplement. Look for solid doses of vitamin supplement. Look for sol doses of vitamins and especially minerals. Multivitamins designed to be taken once a day are often woefully deficient in calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The only mineral a man should avoid is supplemental iron. Iron should only be in formulas for women prior to menopause. Men over 50 get all the iron they need from food and too much iron can cause health problems.
Look for men’s multivitamins that contain lycopene in the formula. Lycopene is the pigment that makes tomatoes red. The redder the tomato, the more lycopene is present. Numerous studies have shown that when men have high lycopene levels in their blood, they have a much lower risk of heart disease, age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of vision loss) and prostate cancer.
Other important considerations are antioxidant blends, especially fruit- and tea-derived extracts; ginseng for energy and stamina; and digestive enzymes to aid in absorption and compensate for age-related decreased enzyme levels.
In fact, years of research has shown the foods a man chooses to eat (or not to eat) can have a profound impact on the health of his prostate gland. Because of this close nutritional link, prostate cancer may be the most preventable type of non-smoking related cancers.
Q. Aside from taking a quality multivitamin for general health, what nutritional supplements prevent and treat prostate cancer?
A. Six vital and all-natural nutrients can prevent prostate cancer from developing and even help fight the disease.
When men are exposed to excess levels of hormones, their risk of prostate cancer increases. A natural substance found in fruits and vegetables called calcium D-glucarate (or CDG), helps men’s built-in detoxification systems get rid of these harmful excess hormones.
This antioxidant has powerful effects on the prostate gland. In a recent study, researchers recruited 974 men to take part in a large clinical trial to determine if selenium could prevent cancer. The researchers found that selenium cut the rate of prostate cancer by 63%!
Green tea is the most widely consumed liquid in the world, after water. Men in
For many years, maitake mushrooms, or dancing mushrooms, have been linked to good health in those who eat them. That’s because maitakes contain an important compound called D-fraction. A recent study showed that maitake D-fraction destroyed 95% of human prostate cancer cells in lab experiments.
Promising preliminary reports demonstrate that lycopene can actually kill prostate cancer cells, so there has been an explosion of lycopene and prostate cancer research.
Q. What exactly happens to men’s hormones as they get older?
A. Just as women experience significant hormonal changes as they age, so do men. In fact, the term andropause has been used to describe men’s mid-life changes. Similar to menopause in women (where the decline of estrogen causes a myriad of symptoms), andropause in men signals the slow decline of testosterone, the chief sex hormone in men. While estrogen levels decline faster and more abruptly in women than testosterone levels do in men, testosterone decline can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms. These include abdominal weight gain, hair loss, reduced energy and sex drive, heart disease, and prostate enlargement. Whether a man labels these age-related changes as andropause or just the consequences of aging, most men will unfortunately experience some or all of them as their birthdays mount.
Q. So, is there a supplement that can give me the hormone level of a 20 year old?
A. Sadly, no, at least not yet! But there is a nutrient that can help the testosterone in a man over fifty “behave” more like a younger man’s testosterone.
A study that took place at the
The secret of DIM’s prostate cancer prevention is its ability to metabolize estrogen. While estrogen is generally thought of as a “female” hormone, a precise ratio of testosterone-to-estrogen is needed to maintain a man’s healthy sexual response, effective sexual function (erection of the penis and intercourse), strong bones and muscles, viable sperm, and a well-functioning prostate gland. As men enter their fifties, this ratio begins to change.
When men take DIM, however, their estrogen metabolism improves, testosterone metabolism accelerates, and the unwanted conversion of testosterone into estrogen is eliminated. This results in higher testosterone levels, similar to those seen in young men. As a result, DIM may speed weight loss, reduce prostate gland enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), and help men over 50 feel stronger and leaner.
Some supplements on the market today contain indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a precursor to DIM. However, I3C is unstable and requires activation in the stomach to be converted into DIM. This means I3C must be taken at a much higher amount and can undergo unpredictable and undesirable chemical reactions in your stomach and colon. DIM is by far the preferred supplement.
Q. What is saw palmetto? Does it reduce symptoms of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH)?
A. Yes it does and very effectively too. Saw palmetto is a small palm tree native to
The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut and is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It wraps around the upper part of the urethra and its primary job is the production and storage of semen, the milky fluid that nourishes sperm. BPH is one of the most common health conditions in older men. Half of all men aged 40-60 and more than 90 percent in men over 80 have BPH. BPH causes the prostate gland to enlarge, putting pressure on the urethra.
Men have trouble starting or maintaining a stream of urine, find they can’t completely empty their bladders, and have to urinate frequently, even during the night. They may also have episodes of uncontrollable dribbling or complete loss of urine. BPH is caused by the conversion of estrogen to a very potent form of testosterone called, dihydrotestosterone (or DHT). When prostate cells are exposed to DHT, they multiply in number and get much larger.
BPH rarely improves. It most often remains the same for years or gets gradually worse. The need to continually urinate, interrupted sleep, dribbling, and loss of urine can significantly interfere with a man’s quality of life. Prescription medications that have been developed to treat BPH are only partially effective. And surgical removal of the prostate gland may result in even more persistent urinary incontinence and the inability to achieve an erection (ED).
However, saw palmetto berry extract relieves the symptoms of BPH by inhibiting the production of DHT. And, in study after study after study, saw palmetto caused none of the side effects that happen with prostate surgery or medications.
Q. There seem to be plenty of ads for supplements that claim they make men into Sexual Superheroes. Is there an “honest” nutritional supplement to help me sexually?
A. That’s a very good observation. And yes, there are honest nutritional supplements for men’s sexual health.
Sexual intimacy is an important, complex, and lifelong need. It makes us feel better physically and mentally and adds to our sense of security, belonging, and self-esteem. But just like other changes that happen to men as they get older, men’s sexual response most often changes, too. Declining testosterone levels, changes in blood flow to the penis, certain medications that older men are prescribed, and the presence of diabetes or heart disease can all affect men’s ability to engage in sexual activity.
When men have a chronic inability in obtaining and/or maintaining an erection, it’s called erectile dysfunction (ED). While ED is not an inevitable part of getting older, it does occur more frequently as men age. About 5% of 40-year-old men have ED, but more than 23% of 65-year-old men have difficulty maintaining erections.
The development of prescription medication Viagra (sildenafil citrate) has revolutionized ED treatment. When a man is sexually stimulated, Viagra helps the penis fill with enough blood to cause an erection.
Like all medicines, Viagra can cause some side effects, including headache, flushing of the face, and upset stomach. But because Viagra is a prescription medication, it requires a visit to a licensed healthcare practitioner. For many men, telling anyone (even a professional) that they are having trouble getting or keeping an erection is simply too embarrassing. Viagra is also fairly expensive and many older men do not have prescription drug health insurance.
These reasons may explain that while an estimated 30 million men in the United States – 10% of the male population – experience chronic ED, as few as 5% of men with chronic ED seek treatment.
Not every man can take Viagra, either. Men who use nitrate drugs, often used to control chest pain (also known as angina), must not take Viagra. This combination can cause their blood pressure to drop to an unsafe or life-threatening level. Men with serious liver and kidney problems who take Viagra must be monitored closely for possible serious side effects.
The good news is there is a nutritional supplement that’s formulated with vitamins, herbs, and glandular products that targets male sexual organs. The formula contains vitamin E, liver fractions, wheat germ, beta-sitosterol, and herbal extracts of muira puama, Mexican damiana, saw palmetto, cola nut, ginseng, and ginkgo biloba.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and men’s testicles, adrenal glands, and pituitary glands need high levels of this fat-soluble vitamin for proper functioning. Extracts of Muira puama, Mexican damiana, and cola nut have been studied for their beneficial effects on male hormones.
Study of ginkgo in sexual response came about when a patient in a nursing home who was taking the herb for memory enhancement noted that his erections were improved. Since then, study of ginkgo has shown it helps blood flow to the penis. Sexual response research in one ginkgo study showed that 76% of men taking ginkgo experienced improved sexual desire, erections, and orgasms.
While other nutritional supplements sold to improve sexual stamina often make outrageous claims, reputable manufacturers rely on science and results to sell their products.
An important note
Most often sexual problems are simply part of the aging process. They can also be signs of serious health problems. If the use of nutritional supplements for two months does not improve your erections, you do need to see your healthcare practitioner. Almost all practitioners understand how difficult this problem is for men to discuss and are experienced in getting the information as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
No man has the power to stop the passage of time. But every man has the power to make aging more healthy and less harmful. Research conducted on men who live to be 100 and beyond, has determined that those who reach extreme old age do so by avoiding ill health, rather than by enduring it. As I like to remind my patients, “Age is not determined by years, but by function.” And it’s never too late for men to detour around the major illnesses of getting older. With good nutrition, healthy habits, and high quality nutritional supplements, the best years of a man’s life can absolutely and positively be those he spends in his 70s, 80s and even his 90s.
The Power Plant of the Amazon
March 02, 2007 11:34 AM
It may surprise most Americans to know that rainforest plants are the original source for one-fourth of the chemotherapy medications used today. Plants offer a plethora of beneficial compounds, and rainforests contain a superabundance of beneficial plants.
In fact, plant medicines are the most widely used medicines of all types in the world. Over eighty-five percent of the world’s population uses plant and herbal medicines as their primary medicines. That’s 5.1 billion (5,100,000,000) people worldwide! While Americans overwhelmingly use synthetically manufactured pharmaceuticals to cure their ills, the vast majority of Earth’s inhabitants use healing plant medicines instead.
One of the most powerful healing rainforest plant medicines is cat’s claw, or Uncaria tomentosa. This high climbing woody vine grows at the base of tall trees in the Peruvian rainforest. The plant’s claw-shaped thorns latch onto the trees and spiral further upward, nourished by the lush rainforest environment. For over 2,000 years, the Ashaninka, a tribal people of the Peruvian rainforest, have used the root of U. tomentosa to treat illnesses in the tribe, including asthma, bladder infections, infected wounds, arthritis, bone pain, bowel inflammation, and cancer.
Q. I’ve heard about cat’s claw, but what does it do and how do I know which one is right for me?
Cat’s claw might be one of the most confusing (and most effective!) nutritional supplements available in health food stores today. One reason that it’s so confusing is there are so many kinds of cat’s claw supplements-there are cat’s claw leaves, cat’s claw bark, and even cat’s claw twigs. While each of these supplements claim to help the immune system, it is the root of Uncaria tomentosa that is proven to impart the true cat’s claw health benefits.
Scientists, who have extensively studied every part of the plant, discovered that extracts made from selected cat’s claw roots possess the healing power to treat and prevent diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers and degenerative diseases. In addition, it demonstrates anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-microbial benefits.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that not all Uncaria tomentosa roots actually contain healing properties.
Healers in the Ashaninka tribe attribute the healing properties in cat’s claw to the “good spirits” that live in the plant’s roots. The Ashaninka healers, or sancoshi, are able to actually “see” the good spirits hidden inside the root of the plant before they harvest them.
Some cat’s claw plant roots have the good spirits. Some don’t. If the good spirits are mixed with any cat’s claw root without good spirits, the healing power is lost. While there are no apparent differences in the plants or the roots to the untrained eye, only certain cat’s claw roots possess the power to heal. And, for a very long time, only the Ashaninka tribal healer seemed to be able to identify them. They call the good spirit cat’s claw Saventaro, or “powerful plant”.
However, scientists who were given cat’s claw roots by the Ashaninka to study in the laboratory discovered that they could “see” the good spirits, too! Using high performance liquid chromatography, or HPLC, a laboratory process that identifies various chemical compounds, the good spirits of cat’s claw roots were revealed to be important medicinal compounds called pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (POAs). Research has learned that POAs provide powerful benefits for the human immune response.
Q. Why are good spirits, or POA’s, good for the immune system?
Cat’s claw POAs work to keep us healthy by directly interacting with white blood cells, the backbone of our immune system. Our white blood cells are the disease fighting cells of the human body. These highly specialized cells fight diseases we catch, such as colds and flu, as well as diseases that start within our own cells, such as cancer and autoimmune diseases. There are many kinds of white blood cells; each has a specific job to do in fighting diseases.
Certain POAs help white blood cells called macrophages work faster. The macrophages’ job is to engulf and digest foreign material. This means that macrophages can ingest m ore bacteria and disease causing microbes when they are exposed to POAs. The scientists also discovered that POA cat’s claw extract increases the production of a chemical protein called interleukin that is secreted by macrophages. This macrophage-secreted interleukin (IL-1) has important immune enhancing properties. IL-1 alerts resting white blood cells and spurs them into action. It also helps make other biochemicals that are essential to an activated immune system.
POAs also help B cells. B cells are white blood cells that make antibodies that kill germs. Each B cell is programmed to make one specific antibody that is effective against one specific germ (such as a bacteria, virus, or fungus). When scientists looked at the number of B cells after they were exposed to POA cat’s claw root extract, they found that the B cells had increased significantly, resulting in an increased supply of antibodies. And perhaps most importantly as they relate to cancer, the POAs in cat’s claw root extract help increase the number of T cells, the true soldiers of the immune system. There are many different kinds of these white blood cells, including Helper T cells, Suppressor T cells, and Killer T cells. Increased Helper, Suppressor, and Killer T-cells can more effectively destroy cancer cells. Increasing the number of circulating T-cells is very important in a disease like AIDS as well.
Q. Can cat’s claw and other plants in the rainforest really cure diseases? Isn’t that just folklore?
It’s folk use and modern science combined-plants have long been known for their ability to kill cancer cells. In fact, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has identified over 3000 plant extracts that can kill cancer cells. More than 70 percent of these plants are found only in the rainforest.
Q. What is it about the rainforest that gives plants like cat’s claw these cancer killing compounds?
Most of the time when we talk about rainforests, we’re talking about the tropical rainforests. While other forests, like the old-growth temperate forests of the Pacific Northwest, also have high rainfalls and tall trees, the tropical rainforests located near the equator are where most plant medicines come from.
The Amazon rainforest in South America is the world’s largest, covering an area about two-thirds the size of the continental United States. Depending on the elevation and distance to the equator the Amazon rainforest receives between 160 and 400 inches of rain per year. The rain is spread pretty evenly from January to December-it’s always the rainy season-and the temperatures remain between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit all year.
This fertile environment continually recycles itself. When leaves fall from the trees, flowers wilt, and animals die in the rainforest-all of the nutrients are recycled back into the roots of the trees and plants. Because the rainforest reuses almost everything that falls to the ground, the plant growth is amazingly rich in alkaloids and other medicinal compounds. Researchers think these compounds and alkaloids, like POAs, protect the plants from illness and insect attacks. These are the very same compounds that protect us from disease.
Q. When the Ashaninka harvest the cat’s claw roots, does it impact the rest of the plant?
No. The Ashaninka work intelligently to keep rainforest cat’s claw plants perpetually healthy. The Ashaninka employ responsible and innovative harvesting techniques to keep the plants alive and tribal members healthy. Individual cat’s claw plants are never completely harvested. Only one third of the lateral roots are collected at any one time to allow re-growth by the remaining root. Once a plant’s lateral roots have been partially harvested, that plant is left to regenerate, and no more root is harvested from it for 10 years.
Q. Why are the Ashaninka willing to share their cat’s claw?
They are generous people. The Ashaninka see no benefit in hoarding cat’s claw for themselves alone. They also want to make sure that the plant’s healing properties continue on. As their homelands continue to be destroyed by deforestation, rainforest peoples are also disappearing. There were an estimated ten million tribal and indigenous peoples living in the Amazonian Rainforest in 1510. Today there are less than 200,000.
Since the 1900’s more than 90 indigenous tribes have died out and disappeared. Each time a rainforest medicine man or woman dies without passing their arts on to the next generation, the tribe and the world loses thousands of years of irreplaceable knowledge about medicinal plants. With them, centuries of accumulated knowledge of the medicinal value of rainforest species have been lost.
A good example of the impact of this loss can be seen in cat’s claw. When European explorers began venturing into the Amazon River basin, t hey were skeptical of the stories the Ashaninka people told them of U. tomentosa’s amazing healing powers. But when the explorers became sick with colds, flu, or other illnesses, they harvested cat’s claw root for themselves and gave the plant a try. Sometimes the explorers got better when they used the cat’s claw root, sometimes they stayed the same.
Q. Why didn’t the cat’s claw root help all the explorers?
Because some cat’s claw plant roots have good spirits-POAs-and some cat’s claw plant roots have tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids, or TOAs. While the POAs have very powerful effects in the immune system, the TOAs have different effects in the body, none of which help the immune system cells at all. All U. tomentosa plants look virtually identical, so it’s hard to tell if they have the healing POAs or non-helpful TOAs.
What makes cat’s claw identification even more challenging is the fact that plants with POAs one year will have TOAs the next. Cat’s claw plants seem to change their alkaloid chemotypes at will, an incredibly powerful accomplishment for a plant to possess. Harvesting of cat’s claw roots that contain POAs is very tricky. Unless the person gathering the root extract is an Ashaninka sancoshi. These medicine men know which cat’s claw to use; they can actually “see” the good spirits hidden inside the root. When scientists studying cat’s claw discovered they could “see” presence of TOAs using HPLC technology, they were able to harvest cat’s claw root extracts with POAs that consistently helps people get and stay healthy.
Q. Do some cat’s claw root extract supplements contain TOAs?
Yes they do. And buying those products will only benefit the cat’s claw distributor; they won’t help you stay healthy. When cat’s claw root is harvested from the rainforest, responsible supplement maker examine the root with HPLC to make sure that only POA roots are collected. But, this identification of the chemotypes takes significant time and costs money. For these reasons, many cat’s claw distributors don’t include this important process in their harvesting. The POAs and TOAs are simply just mixed together and sold as a cat’s claw product with no mention of any alkaloid content on the label.
Q. Why should I avoid TOAs?
While the POAs in cat’s claw root extracts have numerous benefits to the immune system, the TOAs have different effects in the body, none helping the immune system cells. Most importantly, however, when POAs and TOAs are mixed together, the TOAs actually work against the POAs. TOAs reduce the capacity of POAs to beneficially modulate the immune system.
Q. How can I be sure the cat’s claw I buy is POA cat’s claw?
Read the label of the cat’s claw root extract product you are considering buying. If it does not clearly state that it is the high POA cat’s claw, then chances are that it’s not.
Q. What do the Ashaninka receive in return for the cat’s claw harvesting?
The Ashaninka and reputable distributors of cat’s claw root extract have established a mutual and ethical relationship. Both groups benefit from the sale of the plant material. Maintaining this relationship is important for both the tribe and the distributors.
The distributors are paying a fair price for the raw material directly to the tribe. No intermediary is involved. This payment covers the raw material itself, a license-fee for the k knowledge of the plant, and a guarantee (from both sides) of a lasting relationship. Payment is also made for the protection of the rainforest. No deforestation is allowed. The area where the cat’s claw materials are processed is also leased and payment is made for this, as well.
This arrangement allows the Ashaninka to make independent decisions in how to spend this income from sale of their cat’s claw plants. They have been able to make improvements in the tribe’s water supply and in their living areas. They are also able to obtain outside medical aid as needed and provide for education of their children.
The partnership with cat’s claw distributors has created a sustainable resource for the Ashaninka. The tribe has been able to not only preserve their rainforest, but also compete financially with unsustainable income sources offered by timber and agricultural firms.
Q. Why is it important to preserve the rainforest?
The most amazing fact about these impressive medicinal plants is the vast number that5 has yet to be discovered. In fact, the rainforest’s abundance is one reason it is home to so many healing plants. Within a four square mile patch of rainforest, you could see 1500 species of flowering plants, 750 species of trees, 125 mammal species, 400 species of birds, 100 reptile species, 60 amphibian species, and 150 different species of butterflies.
Unfortunately, not everyone looks to the rainforest for the same reasons. Many consider its real value in board feet and cultivated acreage. The forces pushing industrial development move quickly; experts estimate that we’re losing over 130 plant, animal, and insect species every day/ That amount to almost 50,000 species a year.
A combination of logging, petroleum interests, cattle grazing operations, and, of course, our own consumer appetites are putting pressure on rainforest resources. The consequences are sobering:
By leaving the rainforest intact, however, and harvesting its many nuts, fruits, oil-producing, and medicinal plants, the rainforest has more economic value than if it was cut down for timber or to make grazing land for cattle. If managed properly, the rainforest can provide the world’s need for sustainably harvested natural resources on a perpetual basis. That’s what the Ashaninka are doing with their cat’s claw harvesting.
The discovery of medicinal plants is dependent upon healthy rainforests. When an acre of tropical rainforest is lost due to deforestation, the impact on the number of plant and animal species lost and their possible uses is staggering.
We can all help the development of sustainable rainforest industries. By purchasing renewable and sustainable rainforest products, like POA type cat’s claw root extract, we are keeping rainforests alive and well. By benefiting from the innate wisdom of the Ashaninka people we are keeping ourselves just as alive and well. By honoring the science and the sacred of the world’s rainforests, like my friend the oncology nurse, the massive wealth and diversity will be there for generations to come.