Search Term: " Fade "
The Health Benefits of Matcha Tea
July 25, 2017 09:14 AM
A major tv network has come out with a story about matcha. This is a green tea that has been ground into powder. Matcha has become a favorite with models and is offered at Starbucks. The article explored whether the item is really healthy or just another "in" thing that will fade over time. The article cited a study which showed matcha resulted in higher levels of alertness. Another study found matcha reduced stress in mice. Several photos and links are included.
"Mind you, green tea is caffeinated and matcha is an even more caffeinated form of green tea, containing approximately 34mgs of caffeine where traditional green tea averages at about 30mgs and an espresso has around 60mgs, but the L-theanine in matcha prolongs its mood-boosting effects"
Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/much-ado-about-matcha-it-really-healthy-ncna783886?cid=public-rss_20170720
6 ways to reduce the risk of muscle cramps
July 05, 2017 04:14 PM
The most common type of muscle cramp is a charley horse. If someone has a charley horse, it is a sign that the body may be lacking something. You can get rid muscle cramps many different ways. Hydrating, stretching, and eating more fruits and vegetables are three easy ways to prevent or end muscle cramps. If that does not work you should check the medicines that you are taking to see if they are depleting your body of things like magnesium.
"For the most part, muscle spasms are harmless and can be resolved with simple remedies that can be done at home."
Read more: http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/lifestyles/ways-reduce-the-risk-muscle-cramps/f89RyIGEvCrphi23ihb0qK/
May 17, 2008 10:07 AM
Discovered by Phoebus Levene in 1905, D-ribose is a monosaccharide, and is a component of RNA that is needed for genetic transcription. It is a stereoisomer of ribose, and although not regarded as an essential nutrient since it is synthesized in the body, it is essential for life. It also takes part in human metabolism, helping to generate energy from food, and is a component of all living cells – animal or vegetable. It is contained in ATP and NADH and we could not live without it.
Because it is contained in all living organisms, D-ribose is a common component of the human diet, and required as a supplement only for specific needs. It for this reason that the human species developed and survived: the chemicals needed for life are either commonly found in nature or are manufactured by the body itself from other raw materials which themselves are common in our diet. The other stereoisomer is L-ribose, and this plays no part in human metabolism.
Energy is needed not only to enable us to walk and to run, but also to drive every part of human physiological activity, and all of the physical and chemical processes of life. Because of its nature energy cannot travel round the body in our bloodstream as if were a chemical entity, but must be released or generated where and when it is needed. For that reason every cell in our body contains an area called the mitochondria in which energy is generated. The molecule of energy, if there is such a thing, is called ATP, or adenosine triphosphate.
ATP controls the production of energy everywhere in the body, and allows muscles to contract and relax. This muscular activity is responsible for all movement, including the circulation of our blood through heart contractions, the diaphragm movement that creates the vacuum that allows us to breathe, and the operation of the digestive system by means of the peristaltic motion of the esophagus and the intestines. Each of the two ways in which ATP is generated involves D-ribose.
One is by means of D-ribose being used to produce new ATP, and the other is the recycling of used ATP. In the latter, D-ribose and ATP react to form ADP (adenosine diphosphate and D-ribose-5-phosphate with the release of energy. This diphosphate then reacts again with the ADP to produce new ATP and D-ribose. The reaction is catalyzed by an enzyme known as a ribokinase, a phosphotransferase that specifically catalyzes reactions involving phosphorus groups with an alcohol receptor group.
The heart muscle is operated by means of the calcium pump that depends upon both calcium and ATP for its operation. When ADP and phosphate are created by the effect of calcium and ATP coming together, then energy is provided to the muscle fibers of the heart. ADP then reacts with the phosphate and D-ribose in the presence of magnesium to reform the ATP. ATP is therefore essential for the continuation of the pumping action of the heart that maintains life in all mammals.
D-ribose is also part of the base of RNA and DNA, without which there could be no life. Because the cardiac muscle is easily depleted of ATP, the presence of D-ribose is of extreme importance and it has been proved that cardiac failure begins with the reduction in energy levels of the heart muscle that can be brought about by a lack of ATP in the muscle cells.
An important property of D-ribose is that it is unchanged by the liver, which is the chemical plant of your body in which a large part of the biochemistry needed for life takes place. This means that D-ribose can be taken in the diet and pass through the liver virtually unchanged, and then be transported in the bloodstream to where it is needed for the maintenance of ATP levels. That is why D-ribose is frequently given to treat heart attacks: because it can rapidly replace lost ATP and enable the calcium pump to get to work and keep the heart beating at its normal strength. Maintenance levels of this important sugar would not go amiss.
However, there are other uses to which the body can put this marvelous substance. Among these is the body’s ability to form Coenzyme A from it. This coenzyme is needed in the body for the breakdown of fatty acids, and many other chemical reactions, and also provides the raw material for many other necessary substances in human biochemistry.
Patients with low energy levels can frequently fail to be able to recover from illness. This is because that when illness stresses your body, your mitochondria become overwhelmed with work and begin to fail to produce sufficient ATP to keep the body going. Naturally, as your energy level drops, and your body cells are unable to respond to this, then the condition you are suffering from gets worse, and become stronger leading ultimately to possible death. Your immune system is put under a great deal of stress that uses up what little ATP you have left.
That is why when people start to get really ill, they tend to Fade very rapidly: not because of the spread of the disease, but through a reduction in the ATP needed to provide the energy required for the body to fight the disease. Without an adequate supply of energy, your body would rapidly Fade.
By taking a D-ribose supplement that passes unchanged right into your bloodstream and taken to where it is needed most, you body can rapidly generate sufficient ATP to keep up the fight against the agent that is making you ill. Your immune system is given a massive energy boost, and more importantly, your heart is kept beating. D-ribose is the answer to the prayer of many sick people, and also to athletes and bodybuilders needing quick bursts of energy. But what did they use before D-ribose was discovered to have the properties that it has?
At one time, it was adenosine monophosphate (that’s right, not ATP or ADP, but AMP) that was administered intravenously to those suffering from chronic fatigue, this substance being synthesized to ATP in the body over a period of time. However, it take a lot of time to be effective, and the injections had to be made daily into the muscle tissue, so it fell out of favor.
Then came an ATP supplement that could be taken orally, but the side effects were unpleasant, and that too went out of favor. However, towards the end of the 1990’s D-ribose was found to overcome all of these disadvantages, and not only be able to be taken orally, but also to work almost immediately by providing the mitochondria with a direct source of the sugar they need to generate energy.
It is now one of the most popular energy providing supplements on the market, and also a remedy for chronic fatigue that helps the patient to overcome energy-sapping medical conditions both directly and by providing the immune system with the energy needed to keep it operating effectively against masses of invading bacteria and viruses. There is nothing better than D-ribose for providing you with the energy boost that you need, whenever you require it, either to provide energy for your sport or to help you overcome illness.
Benfotiamine A Natural Solution Or Miracle Substance To Control Blood Sugar?
February 19, 2008 04:25 PM
The term "miracle" has been in use for hundreds of years when it comes to products that are claimed to aid health. Does this mean that it's always false? Not necessarily. Occasionally a seemingly "new" product will enter the spotlight and draw the attention of the public. Often, after a series of tests and trials, these products Fade into oblivion because they didn't actually perform in the ways purported. There are exceptions to this rule; as with the supplement benfotiamine.
Benfotiamine is a natural solution to many problems in the human body. This product is one of nature's best sources of thiamine; or B-1. The FDA has approved this additive as a dietary supplement. Vitamin B-1 is a necessary substance in the body because it maximizes the results of your carbohydrate intake. It also helps with stress, improves your mental health and strengthens your general nervous system.
Benfotiamine is commonly found in trace amounts within such substances as roasted garlic, onions, leeks and shallots. Many years ago, a Japanese pharmaceutical company attempted to bring attention to this substance. Unfortunately, their efforts gained little traction. Recently, a physician produced a published article detailing the benefits of benfotiamine and since then the product has rapidly gained popularity.
This product has been tested for individuals with conditions pertaining to diabetes, but the full scope of clinical testing does not end there. Benfotiamine has been tested for decades for its effects and capabilities in helping all types of conditions.
For those with diabetes, this substance has been reported to alleviate sciatica as well as improve general cellular and circulation health. Neuropathy is a painful condition encountered by individuals with diabetes. There are several other related conditions that have all responded well to this supplement.
This supplement has helped many with diabetes, but also helps those without it. This supplement has also been reported to have benefits for: nerve health, improved blood pressure, fibromyalgia and has been used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. It has been suggested that benfotiamine contains many anti-aging properties that help the body.
Vitamin B-1 is reported to combat motion sickness. It helps in the treatment of the painful condition known as "shingles," helps lessen post-operative dental pain and even repels biting insects. B-1 is found naturally in many products including whole wheat foods, dairy products, peanuts, oatmeal and rice husks.
Benfotiamine has no known interactions with prescription medications and, in turn, helps replenish the body with thiamine. There are some prescription drugs that will cause a B-1 deficiency if no supplements are taken.
Benfotiamine is lipid-soluble (or fat-soluble) and this quality means the idea of "overdosing" is nearly impossible. It metabolizes quickly and does not build up in the human body. There are certain individuals who require a higher dose to be most effective. Those who love caffeine, who are pregnant, who smoke or drink alcohol may have a B-1 deficiency.
There are many forms of this product, but capsules seem to be the most common outside of the food groups. The effects are noted to take anywhere from two to three weeks to fully develop. If you are interested in starting a regimen of benfotiamine, or any supplement, consult your physician first.
Vision Quest - help fight eye problems.
June 18, 2005 08:34 AM
Vision Quest by Phyllis D. Light, RH Energy Times, February 11, 2004
Since your eyes are in constant use every day, exposed to the damaging energy of sunlight and pollutants that waft through the air, these delicate orbs are often in danger of wearing out.
To keep this vital part of your anatomy functioning as you age, you have to feed and care for your eyes properly. Otherwise, you are in real danger of losing your vision and independence.
Your vision may be in danger. Experts estimate that 8 million Americans over the age of 55 are at serious risk of blindness linked to a condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD can wipe out your central vision and is the primary cause of blindness in Western society.
While AMD causes no pain, it blurs the sharp, central vision necessary for driving, reading and other activities where you need to see either up close or straight ahead. During AMD, the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to pick out fine detail, is destroyed. The macula sits at the center of your retina, the nerve center at the back of your eye that senses light and sends optic signals to the brain.
Age is not the only risk factor for AMD. Scientists have isolated a genetic defect that can lead to some forms of macular degeneration (Nature Genetics 2001; 27:89-93). Smoking and excessive exposure to sunlight are other hazards best avoided if you want to save your sight.
In many cases, AMD progresses so slowly that victims of this condition don't even notice that their vision is deteriorating until much of it is irrevocably gone.
Dry and Wet AMD
Wet AMD occurs when blood vessels in back of the retina start to overgrow and leak blood. As this occurs, blood and other fluids push on the macula and quickly damage its sensitive nerve endings. When wet AMD occurs, you lose your central vision rapidly. If straight lines appear wavy to you, you may be suffering from wet AMD. If you notice this or other unusual vision changes, contact an eye care specialist as soon as possible. You need what is called a comprehensive dilated eye exam that can uncover signs of AMD.
Dry AMD strikes the eye when light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly deteriorate, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry AMD progresses, a blurry spot in the center of your vision may appear. Eventually, as more of the macula becomes dysfunctional, the central vision in the eye can gradually disappear.
The most common sign of dry AMD is slightly blurry vision. This can make it hard to recognize faces and also make it harder to read without very bright light. Dry AMD generally attacks both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye while the other eye stays normal. In the early stages of dry AMD, drusen, yellow deposits that gather under the retina, may form. Dry AMD progresses in three stages:
Vitamins and Minerals for AMD
Fortunately, scientists have found ways to combat AMD: An analysis of a study called the national Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) shows that more than 300,000 Americans could avoid losing their sight to AMD if they took daily supplements of antioxidant nutrients and zinc.
This conclusion, reached by scientists at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute, is based on research involving more than 4,500 adults suffering various stages of AMD. The study demonstrated that people who already had some AMD could lower their risk of the more advanced form of this condition by 25% when they took vitamin C, natural vitamin E and beta carotene along with zinc. Those suffering from advanced AMD lowered their chances of losing vision by about 19%. (Supplements did not affect the risk of cataracts or the chances of some vision loss for people in the early stages of AMD.)
" Without treatment to reduce their risk, we estimate that 1.3 million adults would develop the advanced stage of AMD," says Neil M. Bressler, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins and author of the current study, published in Archives of Ophthalmology (11/03).
According to Dr. Bressler and the other researchers, people who now have intermediate AMD (some vision loss) in one eye have about a 1 in 16 chance of having their vision deteriorate until they have advanced AMD. They also calculate that about 1 in 4 of those with intermediate AMD in both eyes and 43% of those with advanced AMD in one eye will develop advanced AMD in five years without treatment.
In their view, older people at risk of AMD blindness should take daily supplements of 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 milligrams of natural vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta carotene, 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide and 2 milligrams of copper as cupric oxide. Evidence also exists that a diet which is high in fat can cause AMD to progress to an advanced stage. The exceptions: The healthy fats found in fish and nuts (Archives of Ophthalmology 2003; 121:1728-37).
Oddly enough, some of the same pigments that color vegetables and other foods also color your eyes. And scientists believe that those pigments, which are classified as carotenoids, help protect the eyes by helping them fight off the negative effects of caustic molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are formed when the energy from sunlight strikes the eyes and disrupts the composition of natural chemicals found there.
When scientists compared healthy eyes with eyes suffering from AMD, they found that AMD eyes contained lower levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid pigments contained in egg yolk, spinach, broccoli and other dark green vegetables (Ophthalmology 2003; 109:1780). Furthermore, they found that levels of these chemicals generally decline as you grow older.
" This research is a major step toward large-scale clinical studies to prove the extent to which lutein and zeaxanthin protect against age-related macular degeneration," says Paul S. Bernstein, MD, PhD, at the University of Utah School of Medicine at Salt Lake. "We know that these carotenoids are specifically concentrated in the macula of the human eye."
Dr. Bernstein adds that, as you age, taking supplements containing lutein and other antioxidants may lower your AMD risk. In his investigation, people with AMD who did not take lutein had one-third less lutein in their eyes than older people whose vision was normal.
Another eyesight hazard is cataracts, in which the eye's lens-the part that focuses incoming light onto the retina-becomes cloudy. Cataracts form when the proteins found in the normally clear lens become damaged; signs include progressively blurred vision (especially outdoors), focusing problems, seeing streaks of light from headlights and stoplights, and colors that look Faded.
Cataract is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. One of every six Americans 40 and older suffers from some degree of cataract; it affects half of all Americans who reach age 80. Nuclear cataracts, the most common form of this disorder, develop in the center of the lens and tend to grow slowly. Cataracts may also develop at the back of the lens; this form is linked to eye trauma and long-term use of certain medications, including steroids.
Like AMD, cataracts become more common as people age. Up to 40% of individuals between the ages of 75 and 85 have them, compared with only 5% to 10% of those folks under the age of 65. And like AMD, sunlight exposure and smoking increase the risk of developing cataracts, as does the presence of diabetes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, the carotenoids that are so plentiful in the macula, are also found in the lens (although in lower concentrations), leading many researchers to believe that these nutrients may help drop your risk of cataract development. Early studies indicate that an increased intake of lutein and zeaxanthin reduces one's chances of needing cataract surgery, the most common surgery in the United States (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999; 70(4):509-16; 517-24).
Antioxidants and the Lens
Scientists believe that free-radical damage is a leading cause of cataracts, and so it isn't surprising that antioxidants have proved useful in preventing this problem.
Almost 500 women filled out diet questionnaires as part of a very large research effort called the Nurses' Health Study; those who had taken vitamin C supplements for 10 years or longer enjoyed the lowest rates of nuclear cataracts (Archives of Ophthalmology 2001; 119:1009-19).
So the answer to lowering your risk of eye problems is clear, whether you are already in your mature years or plan to be someday: Lead a healthy, eye-friendly lifestyle, eating a diet filled with colorful fruits and vegetables. Take frequent walks and jogs around the block.
And yes, when you kick back and take your just-as-frequent doses of antioxidant supplements, you're allowed to take your sunglasses off and see the world clearly.
Winter Survival Kit
June 13, 2005 07:35 PM
Winter Survival Kit by Joanne Gallo Energy Times, February 4, 2000
Now that the flesh-baring season is but a distant memory, skin care may have dropped off your list of priorities. But unless you're planning on hibernating until May, Old Man Winter can play a cruel joke on your smooth, glowing complexion-causing cumulative damage not easily remedied. Defend yourself with our survival kit and keep the harsh elements from wreaking havoc on your outer sheath.
Frigid temperatures and blustery winds take their toll on everyone's skin, whether it's normal, oily or dry. Cold dry air, combined with arid indoor heat, results in less natural sebum (oil) production. This oil acts as a protective barrier that helps hold moisture on the surface of the skin; hence less sebum leads to a rough and dry exterior. Icy winds can also cause redness as the stress induces tiny capillaries just underneath the skin's surface to burst.
So the first order of business for winter skincare is preserving your skin's moisture. Along with external methods of bundling up all exposed areas, dietary habits can help preserve moisture internally.
Skincare consultant Lynn J. Parentini, author of The Joy of Healthy Skin: A Lifetime Guide to Beautiful, Problem-Free Skin (Prentice Hall), suggests reducing your intake of coffee and tea, which act as diuretics; eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain natural, vitamin-rich moisture; and increasing the amount of water you drink (those daily recommended eight glasses of water are even more important in winter).
A Cleansing Experience
Bathing can strip skin of its natural oils, so you should be careful of washing with overdrying soaps. Avoid deodorant soaps with harsh detergents which can irritate the skin, and look for milder soaps with moisturizers or a skin-softening shower gel. Neutrogena Rainbath Shower & Bath Gels gently cleanse and condition skin with a rich, full lather that won't leave a residue. Showers tend to be less drying than baths, but if you prefer soaking in a tub you can use bath oil to lubricate the skin. Also avoid very hot showers and baths as they can pull moisture out of the body.
For extremely dry and sensitive skin, shower at night and follow with a rich moisturizer. Skin then can replenish its protective oils before the morning's icy blast.
Now's the time to use a heavier cream moisturizer to counteract all these dehydrating forces, so finding the right one is imperative. In simpler times, choosing a body moisturizer came down to which one possessed the most pleasing smell. Today, lotions are formulated with nutrients and natural ingredients for powerful, soothing benefits. • CAMOCARE Soothing Cream contains patented Camillosan Camomile, a natural anti-inflammatory. This thick, therapeutic cream is great for dry patches on hands or elbows.
Face the Season
Faces need extra-special protection during winter, as moisturizers do double duty to fight the elements and aging. Many formulas contain alpha (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids: gentle exfoliants that slough off the top layer of dead skin cells to allow younger, smoother-looking skin to emerge. • Oil of Olay's Age Defying Series: Protective Renewal Lotion contains moisturizers, a beta-hydroxy complex, vitamin E and SPF 15. • Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion is formulated with alpha-hydroxy acids to ease lines, blotches and discoloration; vitamin A and pro-vitamin B5 to increase firmness and moisture levels; and antioxidant vitamins C and E to fight free radical damage and protect new skin.
So you think the sun is the least of your problems in the winter? Better reflect on that matter again. The general public has finally warmed up to wearing sunblock in the summer, but year-round protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays is crucial to avoid premature aging.
There are two types of UV rays, UVA and UVB: the former are responsible for aging and the latter for burning. Although UVB rays produce a more blatant sign of skin damage, it is limited to the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin.
UVA rays, on the other hand, don't cause any discomfort, but they penetrate deep to the dermis or second layer of skin. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Dermatology have shown that chronic exposure to sunlight can cause holes and breaks in the elastin and collagen fibers that give the skin its shape, definition and supple quality. This damage is what is known as "photoaging." Severely photoaged skin appears dry, scaly, leathery, spotted and deeply wrinkled.
While the burning UVB rays are most intense during the summer months, UVA rays are prevalent year-round. Their effect on the skin is cumulative, so that the more you're exposed the more likely your skin is to age prematurely. And as only 14% of Americans wear sunscreen year-round (according to the American Academy of Dermatology), most of us are getting more UVA exposure than we realize.
" New clinical evidence proves that sun damages the skin much faster than previously thought," notes Zoe Draelos, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. "It only takes small amounts of sun exposure, such as walking to the car or to the mailbox, to start skin damage."
And for those who engage in popular winter sports like skiing, UVA rays are even stronger at higher elevations. Sunblocks with high SPFs (sun protection factor) guard against UVB rays but they do not block against UVAs, so many sunscreen products do not sufficiently protect against the entire range of UVA rays.
It is crucial, then, to look for products that guard against the entire spectrum of UVA/UVB rays. Sunblocks that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or Parsol 1789 provide complete protection against aging and burning rays. Try Coppertone Shade UVA Guard SPF 30, Hawaiian Tropic 30 Plus Broad Spectrum Sunblock, L'Oreal Ombrelle Sunscreen Lotion or Spray in SPF 15, or PreSun Ultra SPF 30.
Don't forget that the lips are particularly susceptible to sun damage too. In comparison to other facial skin, they have far fewer oil glands, no sweat glands, a much thinner protective outer layer and very few melanocytes, the cells that produce the protective pigment melanin. Accumulated sun exposure makes the lips less plump as UV rays damage their collagen and elastin fibers, resulting in rough spots, scaly patches or Faded areas.
Even if you wear lipstick on a regular basis, most do not contain the sunscreens and conditioners you can find in a lip balm. Blistex offers a wide range of lip care products, like their new Blistex Herbal Answer, which contains the conditioning qualities of five natural, herbal extracts: aloe, chamomile, avocado, jojoba and shea butter, plus SPF 15; Blistex Ultra Protection with SPF 30 has six protectants for advanced defense against cold, wind and sun; Blistex DCT (Daily Conditioning Treatment) with SPF 20 contains aloe, lanolin, cocoa butter, and vitamins A and E to help keep lips soft and supple. o
Under-Reported (and Underappreciated) Cholesterol control.
May 12, 2005 10:00 AM
Under-Reported (and Underappreciated) Solutions for Cholesterol and Triglyceride Controlby Richard Conant, L.Ac., C.N.
Fat and human existence are inseparable. Setting aside the fear and loathing over fat in the body that pervades our culture, we understand that fat is our friend. We cannot live without fat.
The human body contains many different kinds of fats and fat-like molecules. Collectively known as "lipids" these fatty substances include fatty acids, lipoproteins, phospholipids, glycolipids, triglycerides, steroid hormones and the infamous, dreaded cholesterol.
Lipids (fats) are found everywhere in the body, performing a variety of vital functions. The brain is a fat-rich organ. Brain neurons and all other nerve cells are protected by a myelin sheath, made largely out of fatty material. Cell membranes consist almost entirely of phospholipids (lipids that contain phosphorus) arranged in a sandwich-like double layer embedded with proteins. Sex hormones are lipids, belonging to the group of complex lipid molecules known as "steroids." Vitamin D is a lipid.
The body stores and transports fatty acids in the form of triglycerides. A triglyceride contains three fatty acid molecules, which have a chain-like structure, linked to glycerol. (There are also mono- and di-glycerides, which have one and two fatty acid chains, respectively, attached to glycerol.)
Like many other things necessary to life, fat is a two-edged sword. Fat insulates us from the cold, cushions and protects our vital organs and serves as a storehouse for energy. Yet, when present in excess to the point of obesity, fat threatens health, happiness, self-esteem, social standing and longevity. The same is true of other lipids, most notably triglycerides and cholesterol. Transported throughout the body in the bloodstream, these essential lipids become a health liability when the blood contains too much of them.
Keeping fat in it its proper place, not eliminating or drastically reducing it, is the goal we should seek. In the blood, lipids must be maintained at healthy levels and ratios. When they are, an important foundation of good health is established.
How do we keep the blood lipids we need——triglycerides and the various forms of cholesterol——balanced at healthy levels? Diet and exercise are indispensable, these basics must come first. Along with the recommended dietary practices, a number of nutritional approaches offer help for maintaining healthy blood lipids. We will now give several of these a closer look.
In 1990, an herb used for centuries in the Far East was introduced to U.S. consumers. This herb, called "gum guggul," is proving to be one of the most effective natural cholesterol-lowering agents ever discovered. It also brings triglycerides down and raises HDL, the "good" cholesterol. The changes are substantial; gum guggul single-handedly normalizes the entire blood lipid profile, even in people with high starting levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
Gum guggul, also called simply "guggul," is a gummy resin tapped from the Commiphora tree. A cousin of myrrh gum, guggul has been used by Ayurvedic herbalists of India for at least 3,000 years; texts dating from around 1,000 B.C. mention the herb. Guggul was traditionally given for rheumatism and poor health caused by excess consumption of fatty foods. One ancient Sanskrit text describes in detail what happens in the body when blood fats are out of balance, due to sedentary lifestyle and overeating. The name of this condition has been translated as "coating and obstruction of channels."
Intrigued by the obvious similarity between "coating and obstruction of channels" and arteries clogged by fatty plaque, Indian researchers initiated a series of experimental and clinical studies in the 1960's to see if gum guggul would lower excess blood lipids.1 Both human and animal studies consistently showed cholesterol and triglyceride reductions.
Detailed pharmacological studies showed that guggul's lipid-lowering effects are produced by compounds in the resin called "guggulsterones."2 An Indian pharmaceutical firm then patented a standardized extract of gum guggul under the trade name "Gugulipid." The product contains a uniform 2.5 percent guggulsterones, which is higher than guggul resin in its natural state.
Because Gugulipid guarantees the necessary intake of guggulsterones needed for blood fat reduction, it has become the product used in clinical research. Phase I efficacy safety trials and Phase II efficacy trials have yielded more positive data.3,4,5 Most of the studies on gum guggul have used relatively small numbers of subjects; this tends to make mainstream medical scientists reluctant about natural remedies. A large, well-publicized double-blind Gugulipid trial on 400 to 500 people would go a long way toward giving this herb the credibility it deserves.
Another effective natural solution for blood fat control that should be better known is a relative of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). Pantethine is the active form of pantothenic acid in the body. Pantethine forms CoA, an essential co-enzyme for utilization of fat. CoA transports "active acetate," an important byproduct of fat metabolism that provides fuel for generating cellular energy. By promoting the burning of fats for energy, pantethine helps keep triglyceride levels down.6 Pantethine also helps regulate cholesterol production, by facilitating the conversion of fat into other lipid-based molecules needed in the body.6
Japanese researchers began studying the effect of pantethine on blood fats nearly twenty years ago. They reported their promising results at the Seventh International Symposium on Drugs Affecting Lipid Metabolism, held in Milan, Italy in 1980.7 Few in the medical or scientific communities took notice. Italian researchers followed up with several small clinical trials that confirmed the preliminary reports.6,8,9 An excellent cholesterol and triglyceride lowering agent that is safe and free of side-effects, pantethine remains, for the most part, ignored by mainstream science, although its usage is growing in alternative medicine circles. Pantethine it will no doubt prove to be one of the most important supplements for maintaining healthy blood fat levels.
When taken in high enough doses, niacin (vitamin B3) substantially lowers cholesterol. This has been known to medical science for many years.10 studies on niacin as a cholesterol-lowering agent go back to the 1950's. There was a fair amount of initial enthusiasm for niacin because it improves, unlike most lipid-lowering drugs, all parameters of the blood lipid profile. Niacin reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. It also raises HDL cholesterol quite well. Interest in niacin has Faded, in part because the necessary dose, 1200 milligrams a day or more, can cause flushing and gastrointestinal disturbances. Very high doses may be harmful to the liver if taken for too long.
There is a solution to the side-effect problem with niacin which, again, has failed to gain widespread attention. Inositol hexanicotinate is a flush-free form of niacin composed of six niacin molecules bonded to one molecule of inositol, another B-complex nutrient. Absorbed as an intact structure, inositol hexanicotinate is metabolized slowly, releasing free niacin into the bloodstream over a period of hours following ingestion.11 Inositol hexanicotinate has all the benefits of niacin for controlling blood fats. The flushing effect of ordinary niacin, which metabolizes much more rapidly, does not occur. Taking as much as four grams per day has not been reported to raise liver enzymes or cause other side-effects, but prudence dictates that people with liver problems should avoid very high doses of inositol hexanicotinate, or any form of niacin.12
We often think of vitamin E as synonymous with d-alpha tocopherol. Vitamin E is actually a whole family of compounds that includes various tocopherols and a group of lesser known but highly beneficial substances called "tocotrienols." All have vitamin E activity. Tocotrienols are similar in chemical structure to tocopherols, but they have important differences which give them unique and highly beneficial properties for human health.
Vitamin E is one of the most recognized antioxidants, nutrients that deactivate potentially toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism known as free radicals. Vitamin E neutralizes peroxides, which result from the free radical oxidation of lipids, making it a key antioxidant in cell membranes. While d-alpha tocopherol has generally been regarded as the form of vitamin E with the strongest antioxidant activity, tocotrienols are even stronger.
The tocotrienol story is another example of a natural product slow to gain recognition. A Univeristy of California research team discovered that d-alpha tocotrienol is over six times more effective than d-alpha tocopherol at protecting cell membranes against free radical damage.13 In the presence of vitamin C, which recycles vitamin E-like compounds, its antioxidant activity is 40 to 60 times higher than d-alpha tocopherol. This study was published in 1991. Its safe to say few cardiac physicians know about tocotrienols, and we have yet to see 60 Minutes do a piece on "the powerful new form of vitamin E."
It would be a tremendous service to public health if they did, because the benefits of tocotrienols go far beyond their stellar antioxidant ability. Tocotrienols also lower total cholesterol and LDL, by impressive percentages. In one double-blind controlled study, tocotrienols reduced total cholesterol by 16 percent and LDL by 21 percent after twelve weeks. Another study recorded drops of 15 to 22 percent in total cholesterol along with 10 to 20 percent decreases in LDL levels.14 Now appearing on health food store shelves, tocotrienols are a health-protecting nutrients whose long overdue time has come. Derived from food oils such as palm oil and rice bran oil, tocotrienols have the same lack of toxicity as ordinary vitamin E.
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