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World Anti-Doping Authority To Permit CBD For Athletes
October 16, 2017 10:14 AM
The World Anti-Doping Authority has ended its ban on cannabidiol, or CBD, paving the way for atheletes to use the drug as from January 2018. Following decades of pressure from athletes and after extensive consultation with experts and other stakeholders, WADA has officially removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances. CBD is widely sought after for its protective and restorative effects. However, CBD that is produced from cannabis may still contain some THC, which remains prohibited.
"Athletes claim they use CBD for protective and recovery treatments, and have been lobbying WADA for decades."
Read more: http://www.cannatech.news/2017/10/10/world-anti-doping-authority-permit-cbd-athletes/
You Really Need to Join a Gym
March 16, 2017 11:59 AM
There are those people that love the gym…I bet you’ve even got a picture of them in your minds eye right now. And then, there are those of us who cannot stand it. So much grunting and weight dropping. No thanks. However, according to a new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, club members have a benefit over the rest of us when it comes to getting regular exercise. (Maybe this article will even convince you to join that gym you’ve been driving by every day since January 1st!)
"However, according to a new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, club members have a benefit over the rest of us when it comes to getting regular exercise."
The empire strikes back: DEA quietly announces "Schedule I" status for CBD extracts to comply with United Nations demands... CBD Prohibition begins on January 13, 2017
December 23, 2016 10:59 AM
There is concern over a rumor that the DEA seeks to create a brand new schedule I class of drugs just for marijuana extracts, known as CBD. They must go through a scheduling action to get approval, but many are outraged over the possibility of losing access to any medicinal product made from Cannabis. This can include non-psychoactive drugs. Some are trying to soothe the panic by stating that it doesn’t include hemp products. As long as it is not a drug, it is not restricted. We will have to wait and see how this plays out.
"Big Media, Big Pharma, Big Government, Big Banks and Big Agriculture are assaulting our bodies and minds by the hour, it seems."
May 28, 2007 11:50 AM
Decades later, in January 2007, the FDA finally acknowledged the legitimacy of Pauling’s approach by approving the Cancer Treatment Center of America’s investigation of high-dose intravenous vitamin C and its effects on cancer patients. Meanwhile, Korean researchers undertaking a similar investigation reported in February 2007 that cancer patients receiving mega-dose intravenous vitamin C were found to show greater physical, emotional and cognitive function, while reporting less fatigue, nausea, vomiting, pain and appetite loss.
Intravenous mega-dose vitamin C is entirely different league from supplementation—but many studies suggest that vitamin C supplements may help prevent cancer.
In the Nurse’s Health Study, premenopausal women with a family history of breast cancer who consumed an average of 205mg of vitamin C every day (well above the RDA) experienced a 63% lower risk of breast cancer than women who consumed an average of 70mg a day. A prospective study that tracked 870 men over 25 years found that those who consumed over 83mg of vitamin C daily had a 64% reduction in lung cancer. University of California researchers tracking 12,000 adults for an average of ten years found that those with the highest vitamin C intake had the lowest death rates for all cancers. Finally, an analysis of 90 separate studies found that vitamin C and vitamin C rich foods offered significant protective effects against various forms of cancer.
Vitamin C is already a supplement superstar—but, as it turns out, we may just be beginning to understand its far-reaching health benefits. –Patrick Dougherty
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.
Doctor’s Corner - Relora: Minimizes Stress-Induced Eating
August 09, 2006 01:56 PM
Relora is a proprietary all-natural botanical product developed by Next Pharmaceuticals, Inc. it contains ingredients extracted from two plant species that have been used in traditional Chinese herbalism for over 1500 years. These are patented extract from Magnolia officinalis (US Patent No: US 6,582,735) and a patent-pending extract from Phellodendron amurense.
Relora helps relieve stress, anxiety and minimize stress-induced eating, which in turn may help to produce weight loss when used as part of a healthy diet and exercise plan. The research and development of Relora involved sophisticated testing and screening for ingredients that have anti-anxiety properties, but no daytime sedative effects. Initially, investigators tested the Magnoliaceae plant family as a lead source of new anti-anxiety products. Scientists first focused on two phytochemicals on constituents in the plant that have “bio-activity” (work positively on the body)—magnolol and honokiol. Through a series of studies, it became clear that Relora was a safe and effective formulation.
Relora works with the body’s natural chemistry to maintain normal levels of stress hormones. These hormones not only affect emotional well-being, but can also have a major impact on appetite and how the body stores and metabolizes fat. By working to re-establish a stable balance of these hormones, relora can help break the stress/weight cycle and restore optimum health to the mind and body.
In addition to normalizing stress hormones, Relora has been shown to control anxiety and the symptoms associated with it: irritability, emotional ups and downs, restlessness, tense muscles, poor sleep, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Daytime sedation often occurs with products that induce relaxation. Not with Relora! This breakthrough botanical provides all the anti-anxiety benefits without inducing daytime sedation. In central nervous system receptor binding assays, the plant extracts in Relora bind to several important targets associated with anxiety. Also if interested, the bark of magnolia officinalis has been used in traditional Chinese herbalism for centuries for stress induced muscular tension.
Relora, Stress and Weight Loss
Stress is reported to play a significant role in a wide variety of health conditions. Recent work with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other major research centers has demonstrated that stress is a significant contributor to immune dysfunction, cardiovascular challenges, other age-related imbalances, and excess body fat. This type of fat is related to stress-induced hormone imbalances, especially imbalances of the hormones cortisol and DHEA. Until now, the only course of action for losing this fat has been stress reduction with exercise and diet, and anyone who has attempted diet and exercise alone often encounters a long, troublesome road. Relora may help the body normalize cortisol and DHEA levels in stressed individuals while inducing relaxation, and act as an aid in controlling weight and stress-related eating.
The increase in cortisol levels signals the brain that the body is in stress, causing food cravings, especially for high-fat, high-sugar foods. These foods, in turn, cause additional stress, thereby fueling the stress-cortisol cycle. Eventually, more fat is stored than the body needs unless sufficient exercise is in place to compensate, or the stress is reduced.
The ingredients in Relora are key supplements that help the adrenal glands to “come back to life” by reducing the excessive stress hormone response in the body and reducing carbohydrate craving behavior.
Results from Human Trials with Relora
Relora was tested at the Living Longer Institute in Cincinnati, OH and found to be safe, effective, rapid acting, non-sedating dietary supplement that helps control occasional mild anxiety. Three hundred forty five female subjects were administered Relora for 2 weeks. The dosage was 200mg of Relora three times daily. Eighty nine percent of the subjects reported that Relora helped them relax, while 78% found Relora to help prevent stress-related eating.
A second trial was undertaken at the Living Longer Institute to measure cortisol and DHEA levels in patients with mild to moderate stress. Elevated cortisol levels and depressed DHEA levels are associated with chronic stress. A two week regimen of Relora produced a significant increase in salivary DHEA (227%) and a significant decrease in morning salivary cortisol levels (37%). These findings support Relora’s ability to relieve stress and its potential role in weight control and stress-related eating behavior.
A third study was completed in late 2002 that evaluated Relora on its ability to improve snacking habits in people who snack on sweets or eat salty snacks when they are under excessive stress. Forty nine subjects were evaluated and it was found that Relora cur sweet snacking in the sweet cravers by 75%! It cut snacking on salty snacks by 50%. Seventy three percent of all individuals in the study reported feeling less stressed while taking Relora.
A double-blind placebo-controlled study was completed in January, 2004. forty premenopausal women were evaluated for stress, anxiety, food intake and weight management. Relora significantly reduced anxiety and prevented weight gain. A significant weight gain occurred in the placebo group while either now weight gain or weight loss occurred in the Relora group.
Suggested Use and Safety
Relora is designed for adults. The suggested daily dose is 1 capsule (250mg) 2 – 3 times per day. Relora is not recommended for persons under the age of 18. if you are pregnant, nursing or taking a prescription drug, consult a health practitioner prior to use.
Dr. James B. LaValle, R.Ph., N.M.D., C.C.N. is a licensed pharmacist (University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy), certified clinical nutritionist (International & American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists), and doctor of naturopathic medicine (Central States College of Health Sciences, IAACN), with more than 18 years clinical practice experience in the field of natural therapeutics and functional medicine. Dr. LaValle is in clinical practice at the Living Longer Institute, a comprehensive wellness, prevention, and early detection program he co-founded. He sits on various scientific advisory boards within the dietary supplement industry. LaValle is also an adjunct professor in the college of pharmacy at The University of Cincinnati and serves as a preceptor in the Department of family Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
Folic Acid: Strengthening the Immune System in the Elderly
January 09, 2006 09:38 AM
Folic Acid: Strengthening the Immune System in the Elderly
By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, December 20, 2005, abstracted from “Dietary folate improves age-related decreases in lymphocyte function” in the January 2006 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry Recent research has elucidated health-promoting roles for folic acid beyond that of insuring normal development of the fetus. In addition to helping decrease neural tube defects,1 folic acid can also help treat inflammatory bowel disease 2 improve memory 3 and help decrease an amino acid in the body, homocysteine,4 that increases heart disease risk.5 Now a new study 6 has found another way that folic acid can help us age more gracefully: by helping strengthen our immune system. Recognizing the importance of nutrition in the overall health of the immune system 7 and knowing that certain types of immune system cells, called “T cells”, decrease with age,(8,9) researchers fed 11-month-old and 23-month-old male rats either a control diet or a diet fortified with 35.7 mg per kg of folic acid for three weeks. Researchers found “a significant” increase in immune system strength in the folic acid group, specifically that of increased T cell levels, other immune system proteins called IL-2, IL-4, and anti-cancer proteins called “tumor necrosis factor”. While the study reaffirmed the immune system’s weakening with increasing age, the researchers concluded that “supplementing…with additional folate improves [immune system function] and that dietary folate requirement may be higher in the older population than in the younger population to support immune functions.” Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at mailto:ChiroDocPSUalum@msn.com or visiting his website www.CompleteChiropracticHealthcare.com Reference:
Essential Oil Quality
December 07, 2005 04:19 PM
Essential Oil QualityBy Lou DeMers, Quality Assurance, January 7, 2005 The Importance of Species The quality of an essential oil, or the perception of this quality, involves many factors. One factor has much to do with the specific plant species used. When obtaining an essential oil, one must look past the common or trivial names and insist on the Latin binomial or scientific name. To do otherwise will result in the purchase and use of a material that is of lesser or no therapeutic value, and certainly of different aroma. Take, for example, Sandalwood essential oil. The highest quality oil is derived from the East Indian Sandalwood tree species Santalum album. This essential oil has been vigorously analyzed to determine that it contains 16 major components, the chief being the alpha and beta Santalols at not less than 90% of the total content. There are 12 other sesquiterpene analogues of Santalol, which also lend to the overall characteristic aroma associated with this essential oil. Additionally, much of the therapeutic value is attributed to the two Santalol isomers and their high content. Another sandalwood essential oil is the West Australian Sandalwood derived from the tree species Eucarya spicata, also called Santalum spicatum. While this essential oil does contain alpha-Santalol, it also contains other sesquiterpene alcohols that are not analogues of Santalol. Interestingly enough a typical analysis will state the free alcohol content (calculated as Santalol) as not less than 90%. But this is deceiving in that the actual Santalol content is much less than this at around 60-65%, and only the alpha isomer and not the beta isomer is present. A third lesser-known sandalwood is another Western Australian sandalwood called Santalum lanceolatum. The essential oil from this species contains no Santalol whatsoever. In conclusion, the Santalol content of the three sandalwood essential oils accounts for their very different aroma and therapeutic values, and care should be exercised to ensure the desired product is obtained. You can be assured that the NOW Quality Assurance team is looking at these issues when deciding how to source our raw materials so you can be assured of the highest quality products in our label.
Rhodiola - Adaptogenic Herbs & Immunity Enhancers
December 06, 2005 09:31 PM
If someone told you they knew of an herb that was a powerful antioxidant, supported the immune system, and regulated the neurotransmitters that help you deal with stress and its physical and psychological effects1,2,3,4, thereby improving the quality of your life, would you be interested? If you answered ‘YES’, then read on. That herb is available today, and it’s called Rhodiola.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), also known as “golden root”, is one of over 200 different species of Rhodiola, 20 of which are currently used in traditional medical systems in Asia. In fact, Rhodiola has been used in the traditional medical systems in Asia for hundreds of years as a means to stimulate the nervous system, decrease depression and fatigue, and even to help prevent high altitude sickness.
For the past quarter century, Russian and Scandinavian scientists have studied Rhodiola and its constituents. However, much of this research was unavailable to Western scientists until recently. Their research indicates that Rhodiola has diverse benefits on physiological functions, including central nervous system and cardiovascular function. Most of this research was done on Russian athletes.
In fact, it’s now known that Russian athletes used Rhodiola for many decades before Western medicine became aware of it, and it’s believed to be part of the reason Russian athletes were such formidable foes in athletic events of the past half century. Their ability to quickly adapt to the unique stress of athletic competition took on legendary proportions. And this was partially due to supplementation with Rhodiola.
The results of this research led them to classify Rhodiola as an “adaptogen”. The Russian scientist Lazarev (1947) established the criteria for an adaptogen3, and his definition is still valid today:
Rhodiola certainly fits these criteria, having shown beneficial results against stressors such as fatigue and nervous tension, as well as anxiety due to different factors such as intense study and dieting2. If these factors are limiting your effectiveness, then Rhodiola may be the answer you’re looking for.
So what does all this mean? It means that Rhodiola can offer generalized, non-specific resistance to physical, chemical and biological stressors you may experience every day, without affecting normal body functions, thereby enhancing the quality of life. Scientists believe that Rhodiola does this in part by promoting the release of certain neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of well-being, as well as regulating hormone production in response to stress1,2,3,4. It also appears to increase the permeability of the bloodbrain barrier to neurotransmitter precursors, aiding and even increasing their beneficial effects. “…the dual action of cognitive stimulation and emotional calming creates benefits for both immediate cognitive and memory performance and for the long-term preservation of brain functions.”
Rhodiola also imparts antioxidant protection by helping to protect the nervous system from oxidative damage by free radicals2. Chemical analysis of the genus Rhodiola has isolated a number of naturally occurring compounds found in the roots and above ground parts of the plant that provide Rhodiola’s adaptogenic properties. Rhodiola rosea differs from other species in the genus due to three unique phytochemicals that only occur in this particular species – rosavin, rosin, and rosarin (collectively referred to as rosavins). Researchers believe these phytochemicals are responsible for the unique characteristics found ONLY in the Rhodiola rosea species2,3. A good quality Rhodiola rosea supplement should be standardized to contain a minimum of 3% rosavins. Other species of Rhodiola don’t offer the same benefits.
In today’s world, stress is one of the most pervasive yet overlooked causes of poor health. NOW® Rhodiola helps the body deal with the adverse affects of stress with a potent, 500mg standardized extract containing 3% rosavins, the unique compounds that give Rhodiola rosea its amazing protective and antioxidant properties. Protect your body and mind with Rhodiola from NOW® Foods!
1) Ramazanov, Zakir & Appell, Brian; Rhodiola Rosea For Chronic Stress Disorder; National Bioscience Corporation, 2002
2) Brown, Richard P.; Gerbarg, Patricia L.; Ramazanov, Zakir; Rhodiola rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview; HerbalGram: The Journal of the American Botanical Council, 56: 40-52
3) Kelley, Gregory S.; Rhodiola rosea: A Possible Plant Adaptogen (evaluation of therapeutic properties); Alternative Medicine Review, June 2001; 6(3): 293-302
4) Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea (Golden Root, Arctic Root)); intramedicine website, Professional Monographs, January, 2001
Pain - Post Op and Relaxation
July 13, 2005 09:24 AM
Relaxation, Music Reduce Post-Op Pain. New research has found that relaxation and music, separately or together, significantly reduce patients' pain following major abdominal surgery. The study, published in the May issue of the journal Pain, found that these methods reduce pain more than pain medication alone. Led by Marion Good, PhD, RN, of Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, the study is supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), at the National Institutes of Health. "This is important news for the millions of Americans who undergo surgery and experience postoperative pain each year," said Dr. Patricia A. Grady, director of the NINR.
"Better pain management can reduce hospital stays and speed recovery, ultimately improving patients' quality of life." Dr. Good and her research team studied three groups of patients undergoing abdominal surgery. In addition to the usual pain medication, one group used a jaw relaxation technique, another group listened to music, and a third group received a combination of relaxation and music.
Findings revealed that, after surgery, the three treatment groups had significantly less pain than the control group, which received only pain medication. "Both medication and self-care methods which involve patient participation are needed for relief," said Dr. Good.
"These relaxation and music self-care methods provide more complete relief without the undesired side effects of some pain medications." The findings have important implications for the 23 million people who undergo surgery and experience postoperative pain annually in the United States. Pain can hamper recovery by heightening the body's response to the stress of surgery and increasing tissue breakdown, coagulation and fluid retention. Pain also interferes with appetite and sleep and can lead to complications that prolong hospitalization.
Dr. Good and her research staff worked with 500 patients aged 18-70, who were undergoing gynecological, gastrointestinal, exploratory or urinary surgery. Prior to surgery, those in the music, relaxation or combination groups practiced the techniques. The relaxation technique consisted of letting the lower jaw drop slightly, softening the lips, resting the tongue in the bottom of the mouth, and breathing slowly and rhythmically with a three-rhythm pattern of inhale, exhale and rest. Patients in the music group chose one of five kinds of soothing music--harp, piano, synthesizer, orchestral or slow jazz.
On the first and second days after surgery, all patients received morphine or Demerol for pain relief by pressing a button connected to their intravenous patient controlled analgesia pumps. The groups receiving the additional intervention used earphones to listen to music and relaxation tapes during walking and rest, while the control group did not. The research team measured the patients' pain before and after 15 minutes of bed rest and four times during walking to see if the sensation and distress of pain changed.
Dr. Good found that during these two days postsurgery the three treatment groups had significantly less pain than the control group during both walking and rest. "Patients can take more control of their postoperative pain using these self-care methods," says Dr. Good. "Nurses and physicians preparing patients for surgery and caring for them afterwards should encourage patients to use relaxation and music to enhance the effectiveness of pain medication and hasten recovery."
Dr. Good's findings have implications for future research into the effectiveness of self-care methods on other types of pain, including chronic pain, cancer pain, and pain of the critically ill.
Vitamin D Lack Linked to Hip Fracture. Vitamin D deficiency in post-menopausal women is associated with increased risk of hip fracture, according to investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. In a group of women with osteoporosis hospitalized for hip fracture, 50 percent were found to have a previously undetected vitamin D deficiency. In the control group, women who had not suffered a hip fracture but who were hospitalized for an elective hip replacement, only a very small percentage had vitamin D deficiency, although one-fourth of those women also had osteoporosis. These findings were reported in the April 28, 1999, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study, conducted by Meryl S. LeBoff, MD; Lynn Kohlmeier, MD; Shelley Hurwitz, PhD; Jennifer Franklin, BA; John Wright, MD; and Julie Glowacki, PhD; of the Endocrine Hypertension Division, Department of Internal Medicine, and Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR. These investigators studied women admitted to either Brigham and Women's Hospital or the New England Baptist Hospital, both in Boston, between January 1995 and June 1998.
A group of 98 postmenopausal women who normally reside in their own homes were chosen for the study. Women with bone deterioration from other causes were excluded from the study.
There were 30 women with hip fractures caused by osteoporosis and 68 hospitalized for elective joint replacement. Of these 68, 17 women also had osteoporosis as determined by the World Health Organization bone density criteria. All the participants answered questions regarding their lifestyle, reproductive history, calcium in their diet, and physical activity.
Bone mineral density of the spine, hip, and total body were measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) technique, as was body composition. Blood chemistry and urinary calcium levels were analyzed. The two groups of women with osteoporosis did not differ significantly in either time since menopause or bone density in the spine or hip. They did, however, differ in total bone density.
The women admitted for a hip fracture had fewer hours of exercise than the control group. Fifty percent of the women with hip fractures were deficient in vitamin D, 36.7 percent had elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels (a hormone which can stimulate loss of calcium from bone), and 81.8 percent had calcium in their urine, suggesting inappropriate calcium loss. Blood levels of calcium were lower in the women with hip fractures than in either elective group.
These researchers propose that vitamin D supplementation at the time of fracture may speed up recovery and reduce risk of fracture in the future. Current Dietary Reference Intake Guidelines contain a daily recommendation of 400 IU of vitamin D for people aged 51 through 70 and 600 IU for those over age 70.
"We know that a calcium-rich diet and regular weight-bearing exercise can help prevent osteoporosis. This new research suggests that an adequate intake of vitamin D, which the body uses to help absorb calcium, may help women to reduce their risk of hip fracture, even when osteoporosis is present," observed Dr. Evan C. Hadley, NIA Associate Director for geriatrics research.
"Osteoporosis leads to more than 300,000 hip fractures each year, causing pain, frequent disability, and costly hospitalizations or long-term care. "Prevention of such fractures would greatly improve the quality of life for many older women and men, as well as significantly reduce medical costs." The bones in the body often undergo rebuilding. Some cells, osteoclasts, dissolve older parts of the bones. Then, bone-building cells known as osteoblasts create new bone using calcium and phosphorus.
As people age, if osteoporosis develops, more bone is dissolved than is rebuilt, and the bones weaken and become prone to fracture. Also in many older persons, levels of vitamin D in the blood are low because they eat less or spend less time in the sun, which stimulates the body's own production of vitamin D.
Experts do not understand fully the causes of osteoporosis. However, they do know that lack of estrogen which accompanies menopause, diets low in calcium, and lack of exercise contribute to the problem. Eighty percent of older Americans who face the possibility of pain and debilitation from an osteoporosis-related fracture are women. One out of every two women and one in eight men over the age of 50 will have such a fracture sometime in the future. These fractures usually occur in the hip, wrist, and spine.
Sleep Apnea, Diabetes Link Found. Adults who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are three times more likely to also have diabetes and more likely to suffer a stroke in the future, according to a new UCLA School of Dentistry/Department of Veterans Affairs study published today in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Sleep apnea, a serious condition marked by loud snoring, irregular breathing and interrupted oxygen intake, affects an estimated nine million Americans. The culprit? Carrying too many extra pounds.
"The blame falls squarely on excess weight gain," said Dr. Arthur H. Friedlander, associate professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the UCLA School of Dentistry and associate chief of staff at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Los Angeles. Surplus weight interferes with insulin's ability to propel sugars from digested food across the cell membrane, robbing the cells of needed carbohydrates. Diabetes results when glucose builds up in the bloodstream and can't be utilized by the body. Being overweight can also lead to obstructive sleep apnea, according to Friedlander.
"When people gain too much weight, fatty deposits build up along the throat and line the breathing passages," he explained. "The muscles in this region slacken during sleep, forcing the airway to narrow and often close altogether." Reclining on one's back magnifies the situation. "When an overweight person lies down and goes to sleep," Friedlander said, "gravity shoves the fat in the neck backwards. This blocks the airway and can bring breathing to a halt."
Friedlander tested the blood sugar of 54 randomly selected male veterans whom doctors had previously diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. He discovered that 17 of the 54 patients, or 31 percent, unknowingly suffered from adult-onset diabetes. Using the same sample, Friedlander also took panoramic X-rays of the men's necks and jaws. The X-rays indicated that 12 of the 54 patients, or 22 percent, revealed calcified plaques in the carotid artery leading to the brain.
These plaques block blood flow, significantly increasing patients' risk for stroke. Seven of the 12, or 58 percent, were also diagnosed with diabetes. In dramatic comparison, the 17 patients diagnosed with diabetes showed nearly twice the incidence of blockage. Seven of the 17 men, or 41 percent, had carotid plaques. Only five of the 54 patients who displayed plaques did not have also diabetes. If he conducted this study today, Friedlander notes, he would likely find a higher number of diabetic patients. After he completed the study in 1997, the American Diabetes Association lowered its definition for diabetes from 140 to 126 milligrams of sugar per deciliter of blood.
"This is the first time that science has uncovered a link between sleep apnea and diabetes," said Friedlander. "The data suggest that someone afflicted with both diabetes and sleep apnea is more likely to suffer a stroke in the future." "Persons going to the doctor for a sleep-apnea exam should request that their blood be screened for diabetes, especially if they are overweight," he cautioned. More than half of the individuals who develop diabetes as adults will need to modify their diet and take daily insulin in order to control the disease, he added.
Stress, Surgery May Increase CA Tumors. Stress and surgery may increase the growth of cancerous tumors by suppressing natural killer cell activity, says a Johns Hopkins researcher.
Malignancies and viral infections are in part controlled by the immune system's natural killer (NK) cells, a sub-population of white blood cells that seek out and kill certain tumor and virally infected cells. In a study using animal models, natural killer cell activity was suppressed by physical stress or surgery, resulting in a significant increase in tumor development.
These findings suggest that protective measures should be considered to prevent metastasis for patients undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, according to Gayle Page, D.N.Sc., R.N., associate professor and Independence Foundation chair at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. "Human studies have already found a connection between the level of NK activity and susceptibility to several different types of cancer," says Page, an author of the study.
"We sought to determine the importance of stress-induced suppression of NK activity and thus learn the effects of stress and surgery on tumor development. "Many patients undergo surgery to remove cancerous tumors that have the potential to spread. If our findings in rats can be generalized to such clinical settings, then these circumstances could increase tumor growth during or shortly after surgery." The research was conducted at Ohio State University College of Nursing and the Department of Psychology at UCLA, where Page held previous positions, and at Tel Aviv University.
Results of the study are published in the March issue of the International Journal of Cancer. In laboratory studies, Page and her colleagues subjected rats to either abdominal surgery or physical stress, and then inoculated them with cancer cells. In the rats that had undergone surgery, the researchers observed a 200 to 500 percent increase in the incidence of lung tumor cells, an early indicator of metastasis, compared with rats that had not received surgery.
The experiment also showed that stress increased lung tumor incidence and significantly increased the mortality in the animals inoculated with cancer cells. "Our results show that, under specific circumstances, resistance to tumor development is compromised by physical stress and surgical intervention," says Page.
"Because surgical procedures are life-saving and cannot be withheld, protective measures should be considered that will prevent suppression of the natural killer cell activity and additional tumor development. "Researchers do not yet know how to prevent surgery-induced immune suppression, but early animal studies have shown increased use of analgesia reduces the risk."
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and the Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Health. Lead author was Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu, Ph.D., and other authors were Raz Yirmiya, Ph.D., and Guy Shakhar.
HERBAL FIRST AID KIT
July 11, 2005 09:44 PM
HERBAL FIRST AID KIT
It is important to know the area where you will be going to determine plants that will be available in case they are needed and access to emergency help if necessary. The herbal first aid kit is meant to be used for minor conditions that may occur while traveling. Any serious condition should be seen by a health care professional. Gathering herbs along the trail can be fun as well as useful. Simple plant remedies can be brought along in the first aid kit. Major injuries require immediate medical attention by a professional. Minor problems can often be taken care of with simple herbal remedies. Supplies can be obtained from the local health food store or by collecting plants locally.
Along with the herbs, a few supplies should be part of the kit available at the local drugstore or market.
ALOE VERA: Aloe is great for minor skin abrasions, burns and as a natural laxative. It is excellent to soothe and repair damage from a sunburn. Aloe can be applied to stings and bites to soothe and heal.
TEA TREE OIL: Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and contains many antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It helps to speed the healing process and is excellent to apply externally on wounds to promote healing and prevent infection. It is also a natural bug repellent and can soothe and promote healing after bites and stings.
ECHINACEA: One of the most often used herbs, echinacea is useful for pre venting infection by stimulating the immune function. It can be found in herbal salve preparations and applied directly to the wound. A salve can also be applied to skin irritations from contact with poison ivy or oak. LAVENDER: Lavender is a natural bug repellent and can be applied topically to bites and stings.
GINGER: Ginger root is excellent for an upset stomach. It is effective when used to combat motion and altitude sickness. Studies have found ginger to be just as effective when treating motion sickness due to riding in the car, boating or flying in and airplane, as over the counter remedies which often have side effects such as drowsiness. Ginger can be made into a tea or taken in capsule form. ARNICA: Arnica can be applied externally to areas of bruising and swelling, but not to broken skin. It can help to reduce inflammation.
PLANTAIN: A poultice of plantain can help reduce inflammation when applied to the affected area. It can also help with bites, stings, scratches and cuts. GARLIC: Along with being a natural antibiotic to help prevent infection, garlic also helps to keep mosquitoes away. They don’t seem to like the scent of garlic. Capsules or pills should be taken internally.
CAYENNE (CAPSICUM): This is effective for both internal and external bleeding. Externally, apply pressure and raise affected area. Sprinkle cayenne powder over the wound. MINT: Mint leaves, often found growing in the wild, can be made into a tea to help with digestion and calm the nerves. Some members of the mint family include peppermint, spearmint, catnip and horsemint.
FEVERFEW: This daisy like plant found growing in the wild, can help with migraine headaches and inflammation.
Chew the leaves, make into a tea or take in capsule form. Some have developed mouth irritations from chewing the leaves.
Tea Tree Oil Fights Staph Infection
There is much concern regarding the overuse of antibiotics leading to drug resistant strains of bacteria. Some forms of bacteria are difficult to control as they change form. Tea tree oil holds promise as an effective treatment for inactivating Staphylococcus aureus.
A study reported in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, (1995; 35: 421-45), and lead by Dr. C. F. Carson, researched tea tree oil at the University of Western Australia. The results were significant. Tea tree oil successfully inactivated the staph bacteria which was resistant to methicillin, a salt of penicillin. It is a versatile substance with a broad spectrum of capabilities. It is generally used topically.
Blueberries for Health
Blueberries are packed full of nutritional value. A study published in the Food and Nutrition Re s e a rch Br i e f s , January, 1997, found that two-thirds of a cup of blueberries had more antioxidants than the recommended daily amounts of vitamins E and C. Blueberries were followed by Concord grape juice, strawberries, kale and spinach in their antioxidant content.
Antioxidants are an important part of optimal health. They protect the body from free radical damage which can lead to a variety of conditions such as aging, cancer, heart disease and other diseases. Adding blueberries could aid in p rotecting the body and strengthening the immune response.
Worldwide Concern About Antibiotic Overuse
A recent report called for doctors throughout the world to be careful in administering antibiotics needlessly. Overuse of antibiotics has lead to germ mutations resistant and untreatable with current antibiotics. Pediatricians in the United States have received a brochure from the American Academy of Pediatrics urging them to take precautions before prescribing. Antibiotics are not always the answer as they do not work on viral infections which cause the common cold, sore throats and some ear infections. Staphylococcus aureus is one example of an antibiotic resistant strain. Over 90 percent of this staph strain are resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics. And other bacteria are also developing a resistance to antibiotic therapy. Save antibiotics for conditions that require their use.
Aloe Vera, Woodland Health Series
Aloe vera is one of the most widely used plants for medicinal purposes. It has been used for over 4,000 year for its therapeutic benefits. Aloe Vera, a pamphlet written by Deanne Tenney, offers valuable information and up to date research on the aloe vera plant.
The benefits of the aloe plant are truly amazing. It has been used to treat burns, radiation burns, skin disorders, wounds, scratches, sunburn, dermatitis, constipation, digestion, ulcer, kidney stones, bacterial and viral infections, and to relieve pain. It is widely used for skin disorders, but its benefits go far beyond the skin.
As a natural home remedy, there are few plants more valuable than the aloe. It is a simple and easy way to treat minor injuries. The plant contains antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, anesthetic and tissue healing properties. The Aloe Vera pamphlet offers historical as well as modern uses for this ancient plant. Aloe Vera is available through Woodland Publishing.
Tea Tree Oil, Woodland Health Series
Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, a shrub-like tree found in Australia. It contains significant medicinal value and beneficial properties. Another pamphlet in the Woodland Publishing Health Series, Tea Tree Oil offers historical uses as well as current scientific information.
The essential oil of the tea tree leaves is one of the most powerful essential oils. It is used extensively in Australia, and popularity is growing throughout the world. It contains antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties helping to prevent and heal infection.
Tea tree oil has been used successfully for many conditions such as athlete’s foot, acne, burns, warts, vaginal yeast infections, ringworm, skin rashes, herpes, cold sores, canker sores, insect bites and in preventing infection to name a few. Tea tree oil is a natural alternative that can be used effectively for extended periods of time without.
June 25, 2005 07:23 PM
According to natives of the Amazon, when Tupan, the most powerful of all the Gods, decided to create man and woman and an environment in which they could t hrive, he assembled the other gods and goddesses and sought t heir assist ance. Jaci, the goddess of the moon, offered her help to Tupan. “I will teach the people how to grow seeds for food.
While many beneficial plants are steeped in myth and legend, few are as widely known and consumed among the natives of the Amazon river basin as catuaba, Erthyroxylum catuaba.
Revered as an enhancer of both libido and sexual potency, catuaba is a tree which grows widely across the northern Amazon.This most famous of all reputed aphrodisiac Amazonian plants is the subject of numerous indigenous songs,and the harvesting of catuaba bark (the part used for sexual enhancement) has become big business throughout Brazil.
In January of this year, I and two others went on a mission to the Brazilian Amazon to investigate catuaba as it is harvested and used by the indigenous people of that region. We possessed complementary skills.
My work involves researching and photographing indigenous native uses of plants around the world.My wife Shahannah, whose previous career as a marine mammal researcher put her on the ocean for three years, was our videographer.The third member, Bernie Peixoto, was born and raised in that region, speaks ten native languages fluently, and also holds a Ph.D in anthropology.We were a small, but capable group.
Entering Brazil through Manaus, we made contact with Antonio Matas,the most famous herbalist in that area.Antonio described to us numerous instances in which the use of catuaba had resulted in renewed sexual potency in men, and revived or enhanced libido in both men and women.Antonio also introduced us to a man named Sivao,the primary dealer of catuaba in the entire sprawling Manaus region. From Sivao we learned that catuaba was increasing in popularity every month, and had become one of the most sought after and widely used beneficial plants in northern Brazil, due to its ef fectiveness.
After our meetings in Manaus,we headed down the Amazon river where we stayed with Ipixuna and Crinicoru Indians in floating houses right on the river itself.
With the guidance of an outdoorsman named Geronimo and a fisherman named Jose’,we hiked into the forest,saw catuaba trees growing, and witnessed the harvesting and sale of the bark.In addition,we were led to two elderly women shamans,who described to us the sex-enhancing and restorative virtues of catuaba.
While space doesn’t permit an explanation of all that we saw and learned, we discovered during the course of our travels that while catuaba is used by almost all middle-aged men,it is also popular among couples of all ages for its enhancement of libido. More often than not,catuaba is used with muira puama. We asked repeatedly why this was so,and each time we were told that the combination of the two plants results in significantly greater sexual enhancement than can be obtained by using either herb by itself. Most of the people with whom we spoke use catuaba personally, and they expressed great enthusiasm for catuaba’s sex-enhancing properties. Throughout history, people have sought to enhance their libido and improve sexual potency. Catuaba,a common tree growing widely across the Amazon river basin,has centuries of safe,effective use as a sex-enhancer.As more people become aware of the botanical treasures of the rainforest,catuaba is destined to become popular and widely used in this culture as well. The views expressed in this article are those of the author only, and have not been approved or endorsed by Nutraceutical Corporation or any of its subsidaries or affiliates.
June 14, 2005 06:11 PM
by Charles Scott Energy Times, January 4, 2005
If you want to stave off infections, aging-even liver cancer-get your fill of chlorophyll, a vital nutrient in plants.
The green in plants possesses unique powers. Green landscapes soothe the soul. A verdant expanse of green vegetation offers comfort, peace and ecological consolation. What makes some plants, including vegetables, green: Chlorophyll, a substance that is also a crucial nutrient for better health.
Chlorophyll is a special chemical that consists of molecules which enable plants to collect sunlight. In a complex molecular process, vegetation then uses chlorophyll to harness the power from the sun's rays and build carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. Those carbohydrates form the basic nutritional building blocks that we and other animals need to survive and thrive.
Besides enabling the creation of carbohydrates, research shows that chlorophyll itself can help lower our risk of diseases like cancer. A recent study in China demonstrates that daily supplements of a chemical derived from chlorophyll can protect DNA, the genetic material in cells. When DNA is damaged and malfunctions, cells may reproduce wildly and become cancerous tumors. The latest experiments, performed by scientists affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Oregon State University (OSU), show that chlorophyll and its chemical relatives may insulate DNA from unhealthy changes linked to aflatoxin, a fungus that often contaminates corn, peanuts and soybeans. In China, liver cancer associated with aflatoxin is a widespread problem.
" In the area of China in which we did our study about one in 10 adults die from liver cancer, and it's the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide," says George Bailey, PhD, a professor of environmental and molecular toxicology at OSU. "The findings of this research could be enormously important to many areas of China, Southeast Asia and Africa, where aflatoxin-related liver cancer is a real concern. Many of these deaths might be preventable with supplements that cost pennies a day."
This research looked at about 180 people in Qidong, China. When people in the study were given supplements containing chlorophyll derivatives, they had less than half the DNA damage of people who didn't take supplements.
According to the scientists, chlorophyll and similar substances may act as interceptor molecules, blocking the absorption of carcinogens. As John Groopman, professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, observes, the supplements these people took "...can effectively reduce aflatoxin levels, which should reduce the risk of liver cancer."
Closer to home, other researchers point out that chlorophyll-rich vegetarian foods may help protect us from carcinogens in the typical American diet.
If you've ever enjoyed a hunk of grilled meat, you've consumed substances scientists call heterocyclic amines, which are contained in the charred part of meat cooked on a grill. Studies have shown that these tasty tidbits can increase your risk of breast and other types of cancer. (Your risk from charred meat greatly increases if you are also a smoker.) However, if you eat a food like spirulina, a blue-green algae high in antioxidants that also contains plenty of chlorophyll, its protective substances can bind with these carcinogens within your digestive tract and keep them from being absorbed.
Green Keeps You Younger
While we always hear that eating more fruits and vegetables enhances our health, new research shows that eating green foods adds extra power to an anti-aging program.
Two experiments at the University of South Florida Center for Aging and Brain Repair, published in the Journal of Neurobiology (7/15/02), show that spirulina and other greens can help shield the brain from the antioxidant damage that accumulates as one ages and may help reverse declines in learning and memory.
The first study found that a diet rich in spinach helped lab animals stay smart as they grew older. Spinach's benefits, according to the researchers, are due to its rich antioxidant content, which can counteract free radicals (caustic molecules) created in the body during normal metabolism and increased by exposure to environmental pollutants, sunlight and radiation. When free radicals attack, cell walls and other cellular structures are compromised and DNA can malfunction. A lifetime of free-radical damage can slow your thinking and may be one of the causes of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, says Dr. Paula Bickford, lead author on the project.
The second study found that the protective effect of green plants may be linked to their ability to reverse age-related accumulations of potentially harmful inflammatory substances in the brain. In this research, spirulina improved neuron function, lowered inflammation in the brain and reduced levels of chemicals linked to oxidative damage. In fact, spirulina didn't just slow the deterioration of neurotransmitter interactions caused by aging, it actually improved their function.
" Not all foods are created equal," says Dr. Bickford. "Cucumbers taste good and have lots of fiber. But unlike spirulina and apples, they are not rich in phytochemicals that have antioxidant or anti-inflammatory effects in the brain."
Aside from assisting brain function, spirulina also seems able to help pump up the immune system. Researchers at the University of California at Davis found that adding spirulina to cultured immune system cells significantly increases the production of infection-fighting cells called cytokines.
A number of previous laboratory studies have found that spirulina can balance immune response: While easing allergic reactions, this powerful green food also was found to enhance the ability of immune cells called macrophages to both destroy bacteria and eliminate cancerous cells.
" We found that nutrient-rich spirulina is a potent inducer of interferon-g (13.6-fold increase) and a moderate stimulator of both interleukin-4 and interleukin-1b (3.3-fold increase)," notes Eric Gershwin, professor at UC Davis. "Together, increases in these cytokines suggest that spirulina is a strong proponent for protecting against intracellular pathogens and parasites, and can potentially increase the expression of agents that stimulate inflammation, which also helps to protect the body against infectious and potentially harmful micro-organisms."
What this means for you: Spirulina holds the potential to help the body protect itself against battalions of infectious invaders. " People have used foods like yogurt and spirulina throughout history," says Judy van de Water, PhD, associate professor at UC Davis. "Through research, we are learning exactly how these foods improve immune system function and how they are a beneficial addition to our diet."
Throughout the history of life on earth, the healthy development of animal and human life has depended on green plants. Today, as our environment deteriorates and our bodies are under attack from an increasingly polluted world, we need those health-boosting greens more than ever.
America's Most Wanted
June 14, 2005 05:23 PM
America's Most Wanted
by Brian Amherst Energy Times, January 6, 2000
The United States eats well, a little too well, according to experts. Amply supplied with a large supply of high-calorie food, our diets might seem to be chock full of every conceivable nutrient. Well, to the question "Getting all the right vitamins, minerals and other nutrients?" the most appropriate answer seems to be "Not exactly." Eating a lot doesn't equal eating a lot of the most important vitamins and minerals. So, which vitamins and minerals are likely to show up in short supply in the typical American diet? Calcium certainly sits at the top of list. According to the most recent Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals, which is conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), women and girls age 12 and up are not consuming adequate calcium from their diet. Research reveals that about 1200 mg. day suffices for those over age 50 and 1000 mg a day should be adequate if you're between the ages of 19 and 50. Since strong bones are formed during "the first three decades of life," says Laura Bachrach, MD, of Since strong bones are formed during "the first three decades of life," says Laura Bachrach, MD, of Stanford University, ". . .osteoporosis is a pediatric disease." For long-range protection against that bone-weakening disease, kids should eat calcium-rich, low-fat dairy products and plenty of leafy greens (broccoli, cabbage, kale) as well as salmon (with bones), seafood and soy. But the calcium campaign does not end in early adulthood. Bone mass begins to deteriorate at about age 30. Menopausal hormonal changes can exacerbate bone brittleness. Medical conditions, including cancer, liver disease and intestinal disorders; prescription drugs; tobacco and alcohol indulgence; or a decline in activity, especially the weight-bearing kind, also jeopardize bone strength. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about one in every two American women will break a bone after age 50 due to osteoporosis. That translates into about half a million fractured vertebrae and more than 300,000 shattered hips. Frequently, those breaks are life-threatening.
The critical role of calcium in many body functions is perhaps the most extensively clinically documented among nutrients. Researchers in the Department of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, reviewed epidemiological and clinical studies conducted over the past two years on the relationship between dietary calcium and blood pressure (J Am Coll Nutr October 1999: 398S-405S). "Nearly 20 years of investigation in this area has culminated in remarkable and compelling agreement in the data," the researchers report, "confirming the need for and benefit of regular consumption of the recommended daily levels of dietary calcium." Investigators at the State University of New York, Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, presented results of their studies of calcium and vitamin C and gum disease at the June 26, 1998 meeting of the International Association for Dental Research. Two separate inquiries revealed that people who consumed too little calcium as young adults, and those with low levels of vitamin C in their diets, appear to have nearly twice the risk of developing periodontal disease later in life than folks with higher dietary levels of either nutrient.
Calcium: Much Documented Researchers offer extensive evidence of calcium's benefits on many fronts: n Osteoporosis poses a threat to older men as well as women, according to Randi L. Wolf, PhD, research associate at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Dr. Wolf presented her award-winning study to an October 3, 1999 meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Dr. Wolf suggests that men increase their consumption of calcium, particularly after age 80, to avoid age-related declines in the amount of calcium absorbed. According to Dr. Wolf, "It appears that the hormonal form of vitamin D, which is the main regulator of intestinal calcium absorption, may have an important role. We are conducting more research to better understand the reasons for why calcium absorption declines with age in men." n Scientists at Tufts University in Boston did some earlier work on the calcium-vitamin D connection and reported it in the September 4, 1997 New England Journal of Medicine. Using the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) increased recommended daily intake of 1200 milligrams of calcium and 400 to 600 international units of vitamin D for people over 50, the Tufts researchers found that with supplementation of the nutrients, men and women 65 and older lost significantly less body bone and, in some cases, gained bone mineral density. n Two studies published in American Heart Association journals show that atherosclerosis and osteoporosis may be linked by a common problem in the way the body uses calcium. The September 1997 Stroke revealed that, in a group of 30 postmenopausal women 67 to 85 years old, bone mineral density declined as atherosclerotic plaque increased. Researchers reporting in Circulation (September 15, 1997) advanced the theory that the osteoporosis-atherosclerosis connection may be related to a problem in handling calcium. n For people who had colon polyps removed, taking calcium supplements decreased the number of new polyps by 24% and cut the risk of recurrence by 19%, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Medicine. The study, published in the January 14, 1999 New England Journal of Medicine, was a first in crediting calcium with anti-cancer properties.
The D Factor
Without adequate vitamin D, your absorption of calcium slips and bone loss can accelerate, increasing the risk for fractures. Fifty percent of women with osteoporosis hospitalized for hip fractures at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston had a previously undetected vitamin D deficiency (Journal of the American Medical Association, April 28, 1999). University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute researchers told participants at the April 14, 1997 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research that vitamin D "significantly inhibits highly metastatic, or widespread, prostate cancer in animals," suggesting its potential for treating men with similar conditions. Few foods that Americans eat, except dairy, contain much vitamin D, but we can usually synthesize sufficient amounts from as few as five minutes' exposure to the sun. But as skin ages, its ability to act as a vitamin D factory decreases. According to Michael F. Holick, the director of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University Medical Center, upwards of 40% of the adult population over age 50 that he sees in his clinic are deficient in vitamin D. Recently, the National Academy of Sciences (the official body that decrees the required amounts of necessary nutrients) increased the daily recommendations of vitamin D to 600 IU for people over 71, 400 IU for those aged 51 to 70 and 200 IU for people under 50. The best dietary sources, apart from dependable supplements, are dairy and fatty fish like salmon. Four ounces of salmon provide about 300 IU.
The Facts About Fats
The American lust for low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets filled with sugary foods has exploded into nothing short of "obsession," according to experts at the General Research Center at Stanford University Medical Center (Am J Clin Nutr 70, 1999: 512S-5S). That mania oftens robs us of the crucial balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids typical of the Mediterranean diet that protect us from heart disease by controlling cholesterol and making blood less likely to form clots. These fatty acids cannot be made by the body but are critical for health: n Omega-3 fatty acid (linolenic acid) comes from fresh, deepwater fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) and vegetable oils such as canola, flaxseed and walnut. n Omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid) found primarily in raw nuts, seeds and legumes and in saturated vegetable oils such as borage, grape seed, primrose, sesame and soybean. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat consumption to 30% of daily calories. Saturated fats like those in dairy and meat products as well as vegetable oil should comprise 10% of total calories; total unsaturated fat (fish oils, soybean, safflower nuts and nut oils) should be restricted to 20 to 22% of daily calories.
Be Sure About B12
Vitamin B12 presents a particular problem for the elderly because older digestive systems often don't secrete enough stomach acid to liberate this nutrient from food. (The elderly have no problem absorbing B12 from supplements, because it's not bound to food.) Vitamins generally moderate the aging process but, ironically, that process and the diseases that frequently accompany it affect vitamin metabolism (Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax 83, 1994: 262-6). And because of those changes, we need more of certain vitamins. This is the case for vitamins D, B6, riboflavin and B12. Crucial for health, B12 is necessary to prevent anemia, and, according to recent studies, needed (along with folate and B6) to help stave off heart disease. B12, with thiamine and niacin, boosts cognition (Adv Nutr Res 7, 1985: 71-100). Screening for vitamin B12 deficiency and thyroid disease is cheap and easy and can prevent conditions such as dementia, depression or irreversible tissue damage (Lakartidningen 94, 1997: 4329-32). In the January 5-12, 1999 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the AHA urged doctors to screen levels of homocysteine (the amino acid byproduct of protein digestion that damages arteries, causes heart disease and, possibly, strokes) in patients at high risk for heart disease. They also recommended all Americans to up their daily levels of vitamins B6 and B12, as well as folic acid. Since fruits, vegetables or grains lack B12, vegetarians need B12 supplements. And they're a good idea for the rest of us, too.
Folic Acid Benefits
Folic acid made headlines in the early 1990s when the U.S. Public Health Service declared that "to reduce the frequency of neural tube defects [spina bifida, or open spine, and anencephaly, a lethal defect of the brain and skull] and their resulting disability, all women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable of becoming pregnant should consume .4 milligrams (400 micrograms) of folic acid per day." This recommendation followed voluminous research that showed taking folic acid was associated with a significantly reduced risk of birth defects. (The advisory is based on the fact that nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned. If you think you are pregnant, consult your health practitioner for supplementary advice.)
A Team Player
Folic acid's efficacy intensifies when it works with other nutrients. Among many studies on the preventive powers of folic acid on birth defects, one published in The New England Journal of Medicine (327, Dec. 24, 1992: 1,832-1,835), disclosed an even greater decrease in neural tube defects when supplements of folic acid contained copper, manganese, zinc and vitamin C. As a warrior against homocysteine, folic acid joins the battalion of B12 and B6 in detoxifying this harmful protein. At the University of Washington's Northwest Prevention Effectiveness Center, researchers recently analyzed 38 published studies of the relationship between folic acid, homocysteine and cardiovascular disease and, according to associate professor Shirley A. Beresford, MD, folic acid and vitamin B12 and B6 deficiencies can lead to a buildup of homocysteine.
Canadian researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (275, 1996: 1893-1896) that men and women with low folic acid have a 69% increase in the risk of fatal coronary heart disease. This 15-year study of more than 5,000 people stressed the need for dietary supplementation of folic acid. Folic acid also has been credited with the potential to protect against cancers of the lungs, colon and cervix. It appears to help reverse cervical dysplasia, the precursor cells to cervical cancer, especially for women taking oral contraceptives, which may cause a localized deficiency of folic acid in the cells of the cervix. According to Shari Lieberman, PhD, and Nancy Bruning, authors of The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (Avery), folic acid derivatives work with neurotransmitters, the chemicals that permit signals to be sent from nerve fiber to nerve fiber. A lack of folic acid can cause some nervous-system disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia and dementia; it also may be related to some forms of mental retardation. Other supporting roles of folic acid, according to researchers: the formation of normal red blood cells, important for preventing the type of anemia characterized by oversized red blood cells; strengthening and improving white blood cell action against disease; limiting production of uric acid, the cause of gout.
The Best Sources
Many foods are rich in folic acid: beef, lamb, pork and chicken liver, spinach, kale and beet greens, asparagus, broccoli, whole wheat and brewer's yeast. But experts believe that only 25 to 50% of the folic acid in food is bioavailable. Processing also reduces an estimated 50 to 90% of its content. Folic acid supplementation overcomes these obstacles with little risk, as it has no known toxicity. Women taking folic acid who are current or former users of oral contraceptives may require additional zinc. And be sure to augment your folic acid supplement with its synergistic counterpart, vitamin B12.
Focus on Fiber
The American Heart Association came out squarely behind fiber in a June 16, 1997 issue of its journal Circulation: Double your daily intake to lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. The American diet is consistently low in fiber, notes Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, author of the article. Twenty-five to 30 grams a day from foods (or supplements) are not only heart healthy but seem to aid weight control.
Getting enough iron? An estimated 25% of adolescent girls in the United States are iron deficient, according to an October 12, 1996 issue of the British medical journal The Lancet, which reported that girls who took iron supplements performed significantly better on verbal tests than those who took a placebo. "Teenage girls should be regularly tested for iron deficiency because rapid growth and the onset of menstruation during puberty increase the body's need for iron," says Ann Bruner, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and a lead author of the study.USDA data reveal that women up to age 50 also tend to get much less than recommended levels of iron, a lack of which leads to anemia, a deficiency of red blood cells, hemoglobin or volume of blood. For kids, deficiency is more common from six months to four years and during the rapid growth spurts of adolescence when the body is growing so quickly that the body's iron stores may sink to dangerous levels. Vegetarian women run the greatest risk for deficiency, as meat is iron-rich; foods like beans, grains and vegetables also contain some iron. Supplements, of course, supply easily absorbable iron. And to absorb iron from vegetarian sources, take vitamin C with your meals. That boosts the amount of this mineral you will take in. Bear in mind, however, that certain folks-older men and post-menopausal women-generally have adequate dietary supplies of iron. Of greater concern, in fact, is excessive iron, and for these folks iron-free multivitamin and mineral supplements are available.
Ante Up the Antioxidants
Antioxidant nutrients help protect the body from oxygen-scavenging molecules called free radicals. The products of pollution, the body's own metabolic processes and other sources, free radicals are linked to heart disease, cancer and other chronic health problems. The most important antioxidants, which include vitamin C, E, beta carotene, and selenium, are often lacking in the American diet. Plus, optimal amounts of vitamin E cannot be consumed from food. You need supplements. The bottom line: even though we live in a land of plenty, you can still miss vital nutrients. So make sure to consume these vital substances.
Source of Missing Nutrients In the search for the nutrients missing from America's diet, one big help is the sprout. The sprout is truly one of nature's heavyweights: fresh, tiny and moist, its power punch of vitamins, minerals, protein, chlorophyll and disease-busting phytochemicals land it in a weight class far beyond that of its full-grown competitors. Size does NOT matter to this nutritional giant. A championship belt currently wraps around the miniscule broccoli sprout, catapulted into the ring by Paul Talalay, MD, professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Talalay discovered that the seedlings contain substantially more of the cancer-fighting substance sulforaphane than mature plants (Proc. Natnl. Acad. Sci. USA, 94, 10367-10372). Sprouts, the quintessential health food of the Sixties, provide a wonderfully varied and versatile way to get your daily greens. Raw or cooked, strong or mild, vegetable and grass sprouts and their algae cousins add low-calorie texture to recipes and a rich, diverse complement of nutrients and fiber.
Ancient Asia to the Modern Lab
Asians stir-fried sprouts as one of the earliest fast foods as long as 5,000 years ago. The ancient Chinese relied on sprouts for year-round vegetables in colder regions of their vast country. Today, researchers studying sprouts and adult plants have identified their important chemoprotective and other health-bolstering substances. In Paul Talalay's research project at Johns Hopkins, scientists found that three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain up to 50 times more sulforaphane than mature plants, which prompts the body to produce an enzyme that prevents cancer tumors from forming. Uniform levels of the compound saturate the shoots, unlike the chemically uneven adult plants. The Brassica family of broccoli and cabbage is richly endowed with phytochemicals that also help reduce estrogen levels associated with breast cancer. Other phytochemical compounds in the Brassica family are associated with the prevention of stomach and lung cancers. Most of the initial landmark work on phytochemicals' cancer-fighting powers has taken place since 1989 under the aegis of the National Cancer Institute's "Designer Food Program," which isolated, for example, the isoflavones in beans that seem to neutralize cancer-gene enzymes.
Strong Suit: Soy and Spirulina
The isoflavones and phytosterols in soy produce an estrogenic effect that appears to relieve menopausal symptoms and help prevent breast cancer. Soy foods expert Mark Messina, PhD, has done extensive work on the subject, some of which has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83, 1991: 541-6. Researchers also have synthesized a bone-strengthening form of soy isoflavones called ipriflavone, following impressive clinical trials in the treatment of osteoporosis (American Journal of Medicine, 95 [Suppl. 5A] (1993): 69S-74S). Spirulina and other micro-algae are fascinating organisms that inhabit a niche between the plant and animals kingdoms. Named for its tiny spirals, spirulina, a blue-green algae, grows in saline lakes but is cultured for maximum nutritional content. In her book Whole Foods Companion (Chelsea Green), Dianne Onstad notes that spirulina contains "the highest sources of protein, beta carotene and nucleic acids of any animal or plant food." Its nucleic acids, she says, benefit cellular regeneration; its fatty acids, especially GLA and omega-3 acids, make it one of the most complete foods. Sprouts, like any other produce, should be rinsed thoroughly before serving. People at high risk for bacterial illness-young children, the very elderly or folks with weakened immune systems-should limit their consumption of raw sprouts. But no matter how you eat them, you may find more spring in your step from these tiny, sprouting nutritional wonders.
Cleanse That Body!
June 14, 2005 11:59 AM
Cleanse That Body! by Lisa James Energy Times, January 6, 2005
When toxins accumulate in your tissues, you can become fuzzy and sluggish. Here's how a New Year's internal cleansing can make you feel fresh and energized.
What's your New Year's resolution? Losing weight? Getting fit? Kicking the [fill-in-the-blank] habit? Whatever the shape of your dreams for 2005, it won't be easy launching a self-improvement program unless you give your body a fresh start. Where to begin? Detoxification-an internal cleansing that can supply the energy you need to succeed in achieving your goals.
No one can avoid toxins in our contaminated world, so many of us suffer from toxic overload, which can lead to fatigue, digestive problems and reduced immune function. " When we get out of balance, we get congested and toxic," says Elson Haas, MD, founder of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin in San Rafael, California (www.elsonhaas.com), and author of The New Detox Diet (Celestial Arts), "and our bodies' regular elimination systems cannot keep up with it. We have problems with our skin, our intestines, our sinuses. We also become deficient in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Most people have both congestion and deficiency, and they would benefit greatly from detoxification."
Toxins Within, Toxins Without
Life's fundamental activities-breathing, eating, walking around-generate waste in the form of free radicals, the unstable molecules that can ravage cells and tissues. What's more, Dr. Haas says that just "being under stress, being afraid, being anxious all produce more free radicals in the body" (like when a work deadline hits on the same day your car dies). When you add to your internal toxins all the noxious items coming from the outside, including the dietary ones, the recipe is very unhealthy.
" People are making poor choices in what they're putting in their mouths," says Dr. Haas. "They're taking in too much refined flour and sugar. There's a common problem in our country I call 'obese malnutrition'-people eating too many calories and not getting enough nutrition. People do a lot of junky fats and have a deficiency in the essential fatty acids that help protect cells."
Our bodies are also awash in manmade poisons such as food preservatives and additives, and residues from pesticides and herbicides. "The amount of toxic chemicals we are exposed to in our environment is staggering," says Susan Lark, MD, clinical nutrition expert and author of The Chemistry of Success (Bay Books). She notes that the average American is exposed to 14 pounds of such assorted chemical junk each year.
The body, however, does do its own housekeeping-and all of our cells detoxify every second of every day. "It's always a balance of garbage in, garbage out," says Dr. Haas, who has 30 years of experience in helping people detoxify. "Some of the toxins we break down into smaller components, some we just dump into the intestines for elimination."
Problems arise when there's more dirt than the internal maid service can sweep away. Dr. Lark notes that toxins wind up being stored in cells, especially fat cells, where they can hang out for years. When they are finally released "during times of low food intake, exercise or stress" complaints can range from tiredness to dizziness (sound familiar?).
That's where detoxification comes in, says Dr. Haas: "I think detoxification is a vital health care tool, particularly in this day and age when people are exposed to too many chemicals."
The process of detoxification starts with cleansing the intestinal system. Alternative health practitioners observe that discombobulated bowels can become overly permeable (a condition called leaky gut syndrome) and allow in all sorts of things that they shouldn't, such as semi-digested food particles, leading to inflammation and complaints that include rashes and joint pain.
Cleansing can be as simple as cutting down on what Dr. Haas calls the SNACCs-Sugar, Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine and Chemicals-or as thorough as a complete diet-and-supplement program with colonic irrigation (a sort of super-enema, professionally administered; if you're interested, contact the International Association of Colon Hydrotherapy at 210-366-2888 or www.i-act.org). The more powerful the program, though, the more likely you are to experience toxicity reactions such as nausea and headaches because of the volume of material being released. As Dr. Haas puts it:
" If you did water and green salads for a week, you'd detoxify more intensely than if you just gave up sugar and white flour." If you're feeling extremely rundown, take a gentle approach at first or consult a nutritionally aware practitioner, especially if you have a preexisting medical condition.
Getting more fiber is essential. Laurel Vukovic, a natural health teacher and author of 14-Day Herbal Cleansing (Prentice Hall), suggests following this daily regimen for two weeks: a teaspoon of psyllium (a fiber supplement); at least seven daily servings of fruits and vegetables, especially fiber-rich ones like apples, cabbage and carrots; and six glasses of water, along with daily exercise. Extra fiber "supports the intestines in eliminating the larger amounts of toxins that are released," says Vukovic, "prevent[ing] their reabsorption into the bloodstream." Some people find premixed cleansing formulas convenient; check your health food store shelves.
Fasting is a more intense detox approach that, according to Dr. Haas, "promotes relaxation and energization of the body, mind and emotions, and supports a greater spiritual awareness." He especially recommends fasting in the spring and autumn, which are times of transition. Some people do water-only fasts, but fresh vegetable juices are probably a better option, particularly if you haven't fasted before. Juices and plenty of fresh water also help cleanse the kidneys, another vital detox route.
Instead of juices you can use a special cleansing formula, such as the Spring Master Cleanser: 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup and 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper in 8 ounces of spring water. Dr. Haas recommends drinking eight to 12 glasses daily (and rinsing your mouth after each glass to protect your teeth from lemon's acids), augmented by water, laxative herb tea, and peppermint or chamomile tea.
Try fasting for a day to see how you feel. Dr. Haas suggests starting out by fasting from early evening through the night, and eating a light breakfast the following day. Subsequent fasts can gradually increase in length-experienced fasters may go up to two weeks without food.
Break your fast properly; for juice or cleansing formula fasts, eat a raw or cooked low-starch vegetable, such as spinach or other greens. "Go slowly, chew well and do not overeat or mix too many foods at any meal," says Dr. Haas.
Don't forget your liver, the organ that transforms noxious chemicals into substances your body can eliminate. The herb milk thistle, used since ancient times as a liver tonic, contains silymarin, which protects the liver from pollutants and helps it renew itself after toxic damage. Dandelion not only promotes the flow of bile from the liver, which helps clean out the junk, but also acts as a diuretic, helping the kidneys do their job. Green-food supplements, such as spirulina and cereal grasses, help neutralize toxins.
To maintain your cleansing gains, eat a healthy diet after detoxing. Focus on fresh organic foods, especially produce, beans and peas, whole grains and seeds (add organic poultry if you eat meat). Organic yogurt provides healthful probiotics, while fresh fish and ground flaxseeds provide omega-3 fats.
Clean Living Pays
The body's largest organ-the skin-provides a valuable contaminant exit path. Sitting in a hot tub or sauna "benefits the internal organs of detoxification," according to Dr. Lark, "by lessening the amount of toxins they must process." When sweatin' out the bad stuff, drink plenty of water and replace the calcium, magnesium and potassium lost through perspiration.
Another way to stimulate skin circulation is dry brushing, which also removes dead skin cells for a healthy glow (and is easier to fit into a daily routine). Using "a moderately soft, natural vegetable-fiber bristle brush" (Dr. Lark's suggestion), work in from the hands and up from the feet with light, short strokes that always move towards the heart. Vukovic says that a hot towel scrub is another option; put three drops of lavender essential oil in a basin of very hot water, dip in a rough terry washcloth and wring out, and then rub the skin briskly, starting with your feet and working your way up.
Once you've detoxified your body, you can start in on your immediate surroundings. Dr. Haas warns against using plastic food storage containers: "When food is heated in plastics some of the plastic material ends up in the food, especially if the food contains acids." Use glass containers instead. He also recommends avoiding aluminum pots and pans, and using stainless steel as an alternative.
Dr. Haas has seen what a good detox program can do: "It's amazing the kind of results people get-looking and feeling younger, more vital and healthy. They say, 'I'm sleeping like a baby,' they have fewer aches and pains. They have more peace in their bodies. I think detoxification is one of the keys to preventive medicine." So cleanse that body and let detoxification bring balance and renewal to your life.
Scents of Balance
June 14, 2005 11:54 AM
Scents of Balance by Rosemary Sage Energy Times, January 5, 2005
Life can feel like an emotional rollercoaster, with the high-stress jitters following the low-mood blues. But aromatherapy-the healing power of scent-can restore equilibrium.
The use of volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being dates back thousands of years. The ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used infused oils and herbal preparations for medicinal, fragrant, cosmetic, even spiritual reasons.
During the late 20th century, people started to relearn the benefits of aromatherapy and these days, aromatherapy's reputation as a soothing, healing art continues to grow. Once you've experienced the odiferous power of aromatherapy's essential oils, you'll keep coming back for more: These gently wafting odors have the power to stimulate or calm, invigorate or relax.
When you enter this scented world, "there you will find nature in one of its most powerful forms-aromatic liquid substances known as 'essential oils,'" says Valerie Ann Worwood in The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy (Thorsons). Essential oils form what Worwood refers to as the "fragrant pharmacy," a collection of concentrated substances used in pharmaceuticals, foods and cosmetics.
When you sniff the aromas of essential oils, "they enter and leave the body with great efficiency, leaving no toxins behind," Worwood points out. "The most effective way to use essential oils is...by external application or inhalation. The methods used include body oils, compresses, cosmetic lotions, baths-including sitz, hand and foot baths-hair rinses...perfumes...and a whole range of room [scenting] methods."
As Worwood explains, essential oils are produced in various parts of different plants. As a result, it takes a great deal of specialized work to extract essential oils. About 60,000 rose blossoms are consumed in the production of an ounce (!) of rose oil.
Just as the antioxidant phytonutrients we eat in vegetarian foods link our bodies to the health-promoting chemistry of plants, the penetrating nature of essential oils are thought to connect our souls to the essences of flora. "From inside comes the voice and from inside comes the scent," observed the 19th century German doctor Gustav Fechner, quoted by Robert Tisserand in The Art of Aromatherapy (Healing Arts Press). "Just as one can tell human beings in the dark from the tone of voice, so, in the dark, every flower can be recognized by its scent. Each carries the soul of its progenitor."
Fechner believed that the power of essential oils to stir our deepest emotions derives from their function as a vital means of communication in the plant world. As Tisserand asks, can't we imagine that flowers "communicate with each other by the very perfumes they exude, becoming aware of each other's presence?"
The Science Behind the Scent
While alternative medical practitioners have acknowledged the effectiveness of aromatherapy for thousands of years, only recently have conventional medical researchers begun seriously looking into how this technique works.
For instance, a study of estragole, a chemical found in basil, fennel and tarragon, determined that it could potentially ease back pain by inhibiting inflammation of the sciatic nerve. (The sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body, runs from the back down the leg.) The researchers discovered that estragole is "active on nerves," a conclusion that aromatherapy practitioners, who employ the scent of these oils to soothe pain, already knew. Science is verifying another piece of information long known to practitioners-that while certain essential oils can calm you down, others prod your alertness. In a study performed at the University of Northumbria in England, scientists found that sniffing the scent of lavender lulls the human brain into a comfortable, rather stupefied state, while rosemary, in contrast, can sharpen recall.
As the English researchers noted, lavender "produced a significant decrement in performance of working memory, and impaired reaction times for both memory and attention-based tasks." That's probably why the odor of lavender is noted for enhancing sleep. On the other hand, the scientists found that rosemary "produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors." However, they did point out that under the influence of both of these oils, performance slowed when tackling a battery of memory tests. Apparently, the oils mellowed people so that they had little motivation to rush through the paperwork.
As Frazesca Watson notes in Aromatherapy Blends & Remedies (Thorsons): "The aroma of the oils directly affects our moods and emotions and sometimes our short- and long-term memory. Together with a wide range of physiological benefits, the aroma can help with emotional upsets such as depression, anxiety, nervous tension, anger, apathy, confusion, indecision, fear, grief, hypersensitivity, impatience, irritability, panic and hysteria."
Essential oils are especially helpful at defusing stress. Watson notes, "Treatments with essential oils are therefore very helpful for all sorts of stress-related problems, so common in our modern life."
As scientific research into the effects of these oils continue, conventional medical practitioners are sure to embrace them in increasing numbers. But before there were scientists around to confirm the effects of these wonderful scents, the ancient medical practitioners in Egypt and Greece attributed the origins of aromatherapy to the gods. For many people in today's overstressed world, the relaxing assurance of essential oils certainly seems heaven-s(c)ent.
Marilu Henner: Energy Personified!
June 14, 2005 11:50 AM
Marilu Henner: Energy Personified! by Stephen Hanks Energy Times, January 3, 2005
Marilu Henner is an actress, dancer and author, a health, fitness and cooking guru and a devoted mom. Now she's also an advocate for nutritional supplements. In this revealing interview, she offers her thoughts on the battle to support consumer rights and to create a better health care system in America.
"So, you want to know what my schedule is after I finish talking with you?" Marilu Henner says, in an almost breathless voice. "Today's Tuesday, right? Tomorrow morning I leave Los Angeles [where she lives] for New York City so I can do the Tony Danza Show first thing Thursday morning, Then, I take a 9 am flight back to LA because my son has a sleepover birthday party. I have a 7 am flight to New Jersey the next morning because I'm speaking about mental health at a conference at a big country club. The next morning, I catch a 7 am flight back to LA for my son's soccer games, one at noon and the other at 2. Whew!"
Trying to keep up with Marilu Henner would make anybody feel out of breath because the woman is energy personified. At 52, her schedule includes acting in movies, on television and in the occasional Broadway show, writing books (she's authored seven, including Total Health Makeover and Healthy Life Kitchen), teaching online diet and exercise classes through her website (marilu.com), taking Pilates classes three times a week and raising two sons, Nicholas (10) and Joseph (8).
But now, on top of all that, the former star of the TV show Taxi has become a health and nutrition activist, speaking out in favor of the use of dietary supplements whenever she can. This past September, Henner testified at a hearing of the House Subcommittee for Human Rights and Wellness to advocate increased funding for research and full implementation of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). During her testimony, Marilu described why she believes consumers should have access to more information about supplements and why the products should be made more accessible through both government initiatives and private health plans. "I believe that dietary supplements should be part of a campaign to improve our nation's health," Henner testified.
Energy Times recently caught up with Marilu at her Los Angeles home for a freewheeling conversation. Here, this vibrant yet down-to-earth celebrity displays her passion for health, nutrition and consumer issues.
Energy Times: You've become one of the most high profile celebrities to advocate a consumer's use of dietary supplements. What was your motivation to get involved in such a public way?
Marilu Henner: As a teenager, I had been a yo-yo dieter. I could be around 135 pounds and balloon up to 174. I knew I needed a different way of looking at my life. I couldn't concentrate on those stupid diets where I could lose 20 pounds in a week and then gain it all back over a weekend. But after my mom died at 58 in 1978, I said to myself, "It's not really about my body anymore, it's really about my health." I just became obsessed with health. I read everything I could get my hands on. I starting taking human anatomy classes, going to medical libraries and seeing nutritionists and doctors. And I started experimenting on myself, turning myself into my own guinea pig. It took me about eight years to put together a program. I always say that my health birthday was 1979, but it wasn't until 1987 that I could say I was living a completely healthy lifestyle.
ET: Were you ever really heavy when you were performing in a show? MH: Sure. When I first performed the role of Marty in "Grease" more than 30 years ago I weighed about 175 pounds. But I hid it well. When you wear those 1950s clothes you can get away with it.
ET: When did you start incorporating supplements into your health program? MH: Before I became pregnant with my first son in 1993, I had never been a supplement taker. But I started taking prenatal vitamins and dietary supplements when I was breastfeeding and they made me feel really good. After the pregnancy, I just kept taking them because I was getting the essential nutrients that I couldn't get from food alone. I was getting great stuff from my food, but with all the travel I do-you know, the eating on planes and in restaurants-I couldn't always shop for organic food. I had a doctor who understood the value of dietary supplements and encouraged me to use them. I've taken them ever since and I recommend them to my family and friends, as well as to people through my books and classes.
ET: What supplements other than vitamins do you find helpful in your total nutrition program? MH: I take vitamin E, omega-3 fish oils, antioxidants, garlic, coral calcium and echinacea supplements.
ET: So let's get back to why you decided to testify before Congress in support of supplement use. MH: I know that as soon as you put a celebrity face on an issue, people tend to pay a little more attention. When I was in Washington, I was able to tell Congress the personal stories I've heard about people who turned their lives around-from debilitating illness to vibrant health-when they got the information they need to make good choices. By good choices, I mean rejecting the manufactured foods of our society, with their over-reliance on sugar, meat and dairy, and the chemicals, hormones and steroids that usually accompany these products. Instead, we should be moving towards an organic, vegan diet that produces a sense of physical health. I also believe that a healthy diet includes the use of appropriate dietary supplements.
ET: Do you think that government is moving fast enough to reduce the restrictions on safe supplements? MH: Things could always move faster. But I remember years ago writing letters on behalf of people who wanted supplements without needing a prescription. When I would tell people about the benefits of soy products or supplements, they'd think I was nuts. Now those ideas are mainstream. The floodgates are open and people want to know more. You can't even keep up with all the information. I think that the government knows they're not going to get away with making people have a prescription to take their vitamins.
ET: What is the citizen's responsibility in all this? MH: We're in a real transitional phase and people should take responsibility to educate themselves. You have to question your doctors and recognize when something is or isn't working. You have to find a health practitioner who really knows their stuff.
ET: As you said, there's so much information out there, how do you decipher it all? How can someone be an educated information consumer?
MH: I know it's very difficult because there are so many options. Believe me, I've been doing this a long time and I'm glad I did the research. I think you have to read everything. You have to find a nutritionist/herbalist/doctor who's the real deal and knows what they're talking about. You have to recognize the symptoms in your own body and try to figure it out. I think if you start out with a good multivitamin, a calcium supplement, fish oils and vitamin E, that can be your base and you can't go wrong.
ET: Isn't a diet built on buying organic foods much more expensive? MH: Sure, it's a little more expensive. But there's nothing more expensive than bad health. There's nothing more expensive than food being thrown away because it doesn't taste right. Organic fruit tastes so much better than the perfect-looking fruits and vegetables sprayed with pesticides.
ET: What's your advice to people who want to start a workout and weight-loss program? MH: I'm always saying to people, "Look, you walk your dog, your cat stretches, your hamster runs on a hamster wheel. You're an animal, too, so go move, go do something." I know a lot of people believe that when you want to lose weight you have to go on these 1,200-calorie-per-day diets.
Well, my weight is always between 120-124 pounds and I eat close to 2,000 calories a day, but everything I eat is of quality. And I burn a lot of calories because I wear comfortable shoes and I move around in my life. I'm always strong, I never get sick and I feel like an animal.
ET: How do you view the future of healthcare policy in this country and where do you think nutritional supplements fit in? MH: I strongly believe that the general public needs more access to dietary supplements to maintain essential good health. American research and development has come up with really great products, but the American Medical Association and the drug companies have stigmatized supplements. So what's the result? Most Americans don't have access to safe supplements because they are not covered by their health plans, nor recognized as effective by the federal government. This really needs to be changed.
I think we should take 90% of what we're spending on drugs that barely keep people alive and start spending it on prevention, nutrition and changing lifestyle habits. In this country we're all about curing the disease rather than curing the patient. We don't look at the patient holistically and try to find out how the disease developed. Your doctor should be in charge of keeping you well, not keeping you in that strange state of, what I call, "dis-ease." It's like the medical and pharmaceutical establishment wants to keep you just sick enough so you'll continue to be a paying customer. They've convinced people to think they've got to take a pill to cure themselves rather than use their own bodies.
ET: Do you think medical schools will start training doctors to treat patients holistically and focus more on preventative medicine?
MH: I think we're seeing a lot more nutrition and alternative medicine specialists these days. And the general public is becoming more aware of health and nutrition issues then they were years ago. There's this groundswell of people saying "Wait, I need more information. Wait, my doctor's no longer God. I can't just keep taking these pills and trying to figure out all these warning labels and side effects."
ET: Do you plan on becoming more politically active on these issues? MH: Absolutely, I want to work with any organization that wants to improve school lunch programs, improve the healthcare system and get people more involved in understanding nutrition and disease prevention.
Cancer at the Millenium - the war on cancer entering its third decade...
June 13, 2005 10:23 AM
Cancer at the Millenium by Harriet Brown Energy Times, May 1, 1999
With the war on cancer entering its third decade, the necessity grows clearer for medical science to engage the enemy on several fronts. Until recently, high-tech medical weapons like vaccines and gene therapy, inspired by a flood of insights into the molecular basis of cancer, garnered most of the hope, hype, headlines and research money. The science was sexy and the prospect of a "cure" dramatic. But, today, advocates of prevention receive equal, if not greater, attention.
Improving our diets and prudently supplementing with vitamins and minerals, can deliver a major preventive impact. Contentious experts concede that at least a third (and probably more) of all cancers can be blamed on a combination of eating too much of the wrong foods and not enough of the right ones.
The Dietary Difference
Though cancer can progress rapidly once it leaps past its inception, it develops over many years and in several stages. Beneficial compounds in food and supplements may intervene along a line that runs from initial exposure to carcinogens to the final step into outright malignancy. Nutrients may: - counteract environmental poisons and the toxic byproducts of liver metabolism
The Big Picture The dietary guidelines advocated by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute (which generally coincide with those of most health organizations) may sound familiar: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Get lots of fiber. Limit fat, especially animal fat. Go easy on meat and avoid the cured variety (they contain nitrites). If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. Watch your total calories, and your weight. Pretty straightforward stuff.
Carotenoids, as their name suggests, are orange and red pigments in fruits and vegetables, most notably carrots and tomatoes, although they're also in everything from sweet potatoes to spinach and brussels sprouts (in the latter their distinctive color is masked by green chlorophyll).
Lycopene, a carotenoid found primarily in tomatoes, displays double the free radical-fighting activity of beta carotene, the most widely studied carotenoid. Of 72 studies looking at consumption of tomatoes or tomato-based products reviewed in the February 1999 Journal of the National Cancer Institute, almost half showed a significant reduction in one or more of a variety of cancers.
Research shows that lycopene may be best at lowering a man's risk of prostate cancer. A 1995 Harvard Medical School study (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1995; 87: 1767-76) queried nearly 48,000 male health-care professionals about their consumption of fruits and vegetables. The only foods that reduced their risk of prostate cancer were, apparently, tomato sauce, tomatoes, pizza (tomato paste). For those who ate ten servings a week, risk dropped 45 percent; with four to seven servings, 20 percent. In animal studies lycopene decreased the number and size of mammary tumors (Eleventh International Symposium on Carotenoids, 1996).
Tomatoes are one of the richest sources of lycopene. Cooking tomatoes helps by releasing the lycopene from the plant cell walls. Also, the oil in tomato sauce enhances absorption in the stomach. Lycopene is also available in supplements.
Wine drinkers rejoiced when resveratrol, a constituent of the skin of red grapes, was found to protect their hearts (by blocking oxidation of LDL cholesterol and discouraging blood clotting). Now they have another reason to toast this potent antioxidant. When researcher John Pezzuto at the University of Illinois at Chicago screened about 1,000 plants for anticancer activity, he came up with one whose active ingredient turned out to be resveratrol. In lab tests it squelched both free radicals and inflammation, two well-known cancer inducers (Science, 6/10/97). In a study with mice, resveratrol reduced the number of skin tumors by up to 98 percent compared to control animals. Because the effective doses were high (Pezzuto estimates a person would have to quaff about five gallons of wine a day to get the equivalent) and because more than a drink or two a day may raise the risk of breast cancer, researchers don't recommend nondrinkers take up wine. But supplements of synthesized resveratrol (as well as grape juice) may help.
Saturated fat is an authentic dietary villain. Aside from clogging arteries, it's a suspected contributor to several cancers, though the evidence is greater for some cancers (prostate) than for others (breast cancer)
Of the two other main categories of fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, mono seems benign, if not positively protective. For example, in a study of the influence of diet on breast cancer, Greek researchers discovered that women who consumed higher amounts of olive oil (which is mostly mono) were less likely to be afflicted with breast cancer (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1995: 87; 110-116).
When it comes to polyunsaturated fats, however, things get complicated. The fat that predominates in corn, sunflower and other vegetable oils, called omega-6, has long been associated with cancer risk in animal experiments. Likewise the type found in margarines, trans fats, which are partially saturated vegetable oils. On the other hand, the omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA, which are found primarily in deep- and cold-water fish like cod, mackerel, and halibut, protect against both heart disease and cancer. In an epidemiological study covering 24 European countries, British researchers established that mortality rates for colon and breast cancers declined as fish and fish oil consumption rose (British Journal of Cancer 1996: 74; 159-64). And Finnish scientists discovered that the breast tissue of women who had breast cancer contained significantly less DHA and EPA than the breasts of healthy women (Nutrition and Cancer 1995: 24; 151-160).
Experts believe the omega-3s' anticancer effect derives from its ability to tamp down the prostaglandins that stimulate inflammation. Chronic inflammation unleashes a steady stream of free radicals, which can damage DNA and thereby trigger cancer. Omega-3s also help the liver detoxify potentially harmful substances.
Fortunately for the fish-phobic, nonmarine sources of omega-3 fats include flaxseed and hemp oils.
Minerals to Lower Cancer Risk
n Calcium: possibly protective against colon cancer. In a recent trial (New England Journal of Medicine, 1/14/99) researchers gave people with a history of precancerous colon polyps either two 600 mg calcium tablets a day or a placebo for nine months and found fewer polyps. n Selenium: powerful antioxidant and supporter of immunity. Researchers find that cancer rates in various regions is lowered when soil and vegetables contain more selenium
In a selenium-depleted area in China afflicted with one of the highest incidences of stomach and esophageal cancer mortality in the world, scientists asked different groups to take various combinations of nutrients. After five years they found a significant reduction in the cancer rate among those who had gotten supplements of selenium, vitamin E and beta carotene (Biological Trace Element Research 1985; 7: 21-29). In the U.S. researchers studying the potential effectiveness of selenium supplementation for preventing nonmelanoma skin cancers came up with a surprise. The 200 mcg a day the subjects received for an average of 4.5 years had no impact on skin cancer but did significantly cut the rates of lung, colorectal and prostate cancers (Journal of the American Medical Association, 12/25/96).
More recently Harvard researchers determined that men with prostate cancer had much lower levels of selenium in their toenails (a measure of consumption) than healthy men (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 8/119/98).
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale, have long been singled out for their association with protection against cancer. In a 1996 survey of 94 population studies and clinical trials focusing on consumption of cruciferous vegetables, 67 percent showed a reduced risk, the strongest link being with lung, stomach, colon and rectal cancers (Cancer Epidemiological Biomarkers 1996; 5: 733-748).
Scientists at Johns Hopkins showed that sulforaphane, from these plants, stimulates enzymes that help detoxify carcinogens generated in the liver. When they injected rats with a cancer-causing chemical, only 26 percent of the rodents pretreated with sulforaphane developed mammary cancer, compared to 68 percent of controls. Even animals who did come down with cancer had tumors that appeared later and smaller.
Other researchers have focused on a cruciferous-vegetable compound called indole-3-carbinol, which has proved especially effective against breast cancer cells. Recently, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley found that indole-3-carbinol, rather than acting as an anti-estrogen, (as had been thought), actually stops breast cancer cells by turning off a protein critical to their replication (Jrnal of Bio Chem, 2/13/98). Consequently, when treating certain forms of cancer, some doctors have paired indole-3-carbinol with the chemotherapy drug tamoxifen - which counteracts estrogen - and found that the combination has proven more potent than either separately.
Several decades ago British physician Denis Burkitt proposed that the low incidence of colon cancer among native peoples in South Africa was attributable to the fact that their diet was rich in fiber. The fiber, it was hypothesized, bulked up the stool, speeding its passage through the bowel and reducing the time carcinogens contact its lining; it also helped neutralize cancer-promoting bile acids.
This concept has been backed up by numerous studies. Recently, Harvard researchers sprinkled cold water on this idea, finding that an examination of the eating habits of more than 80,000 female nurses, could find no protective effect against colon cancer or precancerous polyps from consuming fiber (NEJM, January 21, 1999). Most experts' take on this apparent refutation: Maybe the "high fiber" intake in this case wasn't high enough, and this is just one study among many.
Fighting Breast Cancer
Fiber has also been linked to reduced rates of breast cancer. At first it was thought that if fat was a breast-cancer culprit, fiber might just be a marker for a low-fat diet. But a look at Finland undermined that idea: Finnish women eat both a lot of fat and a lot of fiber, and their breast cancer rate ranks much below that in the U.S., (where we eat gobs of fat and little roughage).
Fiber helps take estrogen out of circulation as it passes through the liver, while the isoflavones in many high-fiber plants and vegetables are themselves weak estrogens, which compete for slots on breast tissue's estrogen receptors. The special fiber in flaxseed oil called lignans act against estrogen in two ways: by binding its receptors and by inhibiting the enzyme that converts other hormones into estrogen.
Fiber comes in two basic forms, insoluble (e.g., wheat bran, celery, the skins of fruits and vegetables) and soluble (e.g., oat bran, citrus fruits, beans). Until a few years ago, scientists believed that cancer protection came mainly from insoluble fiber, but that thinking has turned around.
A soluble fiber called citrus pectin has been shown to halt the tendency of prostate, lung, breast and skin cancers to metastasize, or spread (e.g., Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1995; 87: 3448-353). Typically cancer turns deadly only when it gets into the bloodstream and invades new territory. Modified citrus pectin appears to stop this aggression by preventing cancer cells from attaching to healthy tissue.
While the name inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) sounds like a mouthful, many of us consume mouthfuls of this natural substance every day - in foods like corn, rice, whole-grain cereals, oats and wheat.
But now scientists have isolated IP-6 and found that this powerful antioxidant can slow the destructive cellular processes that lead to tumors. In a study published in Anti-Cancer Research (Nov/Dec 1998), scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine demonstrated that IP-6 could shrink liver tumors in laboratory animals.
The researchers believe that IP-6 can help prevent cancer and also be useful in lowering the risk of health problems like kidney stones and heart disease. Research like this continues to expand our knowledge of how to lower the risk of cancer. In the next millennium, with more and more information making its way into the media and onto websites, our power and the responsibility to reduce our risk of cancer will continue to grow and offer new possibilities.
Hearty Soy - Soy will cater to your cardiovascular well-being...
June 13, 2005 10:19 AM
Hearty Soy by Joyce Dewon Energy Times, January 5, 2004
It's a diet food, it's a health food. Any way you look at it or eat it, soy's combination of benefits and its versatility as a component of a heart-healthy diet have led to a widespread popularity that continues to grow.
No matter what your taste preference, a soy food is available to satisfy your picky palate and cater to your cardiovascular well-being.
Annual sales of soy in the US continue to grow more than 10% a year, edging toward the $4 billion mark. Today, the average American consumes about 10 mg of soy protein a day, even though the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends taking in at least 25 mg of soy to benefit your heart. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has signaled its approval of the soy bandwagon, allowing claims that daily soy can help lower the risk of cardiovascular complications.
As Good as a Drug
Researchers who have investigated how soy can help lower cholesterol and shrink the risk of heart disease have concluded that soy, in a diet with fruits and vegetables, can be as effective as cholesterol-reducing drugs (JAMA 7/22/03).
Researchers at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital compared the cholesterol-lowering power of soy and other vegetarian foods with that of lovastatin, a standard pharmaceutical used to reduce cholesterol.
In the study, scientists fed people a diet that, along with soy, had large amounts of nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, and high-fiber foods like oats and barley plus margarine made with plant sterols (natural substances derived from leafy greens and vegetable oils). Researcher David Jenkins, PhD, a nutrition science professor, thinks these foods may be good at dropping cholesterol because human evolution makes us well-adapted for an "ape diet," one high in fiber, vegetable protein, nuts and plant sterols.
According to Dr. Jenkins, "As we age, we tend to get raised cholesterol, which in turn increases our risk of heart disease. This study shows that people now have a dietary alternative to drugs to control their cholesterol, at least initially." Dr. Jenkins also thinks that soy and a vegetarian diet can be used to maintain normal cholesterol levels.
Dr. Jenkins' heart-healthy diet, designed to be easily prepared and consumed, includes oat bran bread and cereal, soy drinks, fruit and soy deli slices. For instance, in his study, a typical dinner consisted of tofu baked with eggplant, onions and sweet peppers, pearled barley and vegetables.
Dr. Jenkins adds, "The Food and Drug Administration has approved these cholesterol-lowering foods as having legitimate health claims for heart disease risk reduction. They're also being recommended by the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program as foods that should be incorporated into the diet. And we have now proven that these foods have an almost identical effect on lowering cholesterol as the original cholesterol-reducing drugs."
Dr. Jenkins regrets that health practitioners often give drugs to people with high cholesterol instead of trying to control the problem with soy and other vegetarian foods.
Soy Safety Affirmed
Recently, some doctors have spread the story that soy may increase the risk of cancer because natural chemicals in soy act like estrogens, hormones that may contribute to breast and other cancers. However, research has failed to support this supposition.
As Dr. Jenkins points out, "the concerns have been whether soy estrogen might lead to hormone-dependent breast cancer or abnormal sexual development in children, yet we found no evidence to support this."
In another of Dr. Jenkins' studies, people were put on diets high in soy to see how their estrogen levels were affected. Then, the researchers measured estrogen byproducts in their urine. Since estrogen stimulates breast cancer cells to produce a special protein, the researchers measured the amount of this protein produced by each urine sample to calculate how much estrogen was present.
The total estrogenic activity in the urine of women on soy dropped to lower levels than it had been before they ate soy. "This finding suggests that soy may not have the estrogenic effects that were thought to alleviate menopausal symptoms but it refutes claims about its purported hormone risks," Dr. Jenkins says.
The study also demonstrated that soy can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of oxidized cholesterol, which is thought to stick to coronary artery walls and form dangerous plaques. Dr. Jenkins' other research demonstrates that soy consumption reduces cholesterol in general while also decreasing the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body and maintaining the HDL (good) cholesterol. According to Dr. Jenkins, this confirms that soy should be promoted for its important role in preventing heart disease without fear that it will promote cancer.
In another study in China, researchers compared the dietary habits of more than 350 women with breast cancer to the foods eaten by more than 1,000 women who did not have cancer (Amer Assoc Canc Res Second Annual Intl Conf Fron Can Prev Res 10/27/03, Abst 1274). They found that eating large amounts of soy did not raise the risk of breast cancer.
Of course, anyone can develop allergies to almost any food, soy included. If eating soy causes you discomfort, find another source of healthy protein (see box on whey protein above).
Isoflavones, soy's plant estrogens, are believed to create some of the most significant heart-healthy soy benefits. Consequently, researchers urge those concerned about their cardiovascular health to combine a diet high in soy, fruits and vegetables with exercise for the highest level of heart protection. Cheaper than cholesterol drugs, tastier than many other healthy foods and available in so many forms, soy's popularity will certainly continue to explode. Soy burgers, soy drinks and soy just-about-everything will continue to be a big part of our lives.
Centering Your Heart
June 13, 2005 10:15 AM
Centering Your Heart by Lisa James Energy Times, January 4, 2004
The romantic view of the human heart conjures up vivid images: The gallant lover, the committed enthusiast, the wise sage. When the romantic philosophy speaks of the heart, it speaks of things that lie at the very center of what it means to be human.
Western medical science, though, views the heart as a biomechanical pump-marvelously engineered to be sure, but a physical device amenable to surgical and pharmaceutical tinkering.
Between romance and technology lies the Eastern path. Eastern medical traditions, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and India's Ayurveda, see the heart as a seat of energy that must be kept in right relationship with the rest of the body.
TCM: Yin, Yang and Qi
The two great polarities of yin and yang are always shifting and rebalancing, according to Chinese philosophy, in our bodies as in everything else. Yin is dark, inward, cold, passive and downward; yang is light, outward, warm, active and upward.
The energy that keeps us alive is called qi, or life force. Organs, including the heart, are seen as places where qi resides. Organs supply and restrain each other's qi, which flows along carefully mapped meridians, or channels. Disease occurs when disturbances in qi interrupt the flow of energy so that an organ experiences either a deficiency or excess of yin/yang.
According to Chinese precepts, disturbances in the heart affect the whole body. "The movement of the blood throughout the body, TCM circulation, is managed by multiple organs, which in turn interact with one another. A failure in any one part of this system can result in pathology," says Jonathan Simon, LAc, an acupuncture expert in private practice and at the Mind-Body Digestive Center, in New York.
"If there's a circulation issue, all the organ systems are going to be deprived of the nourishment supplied by the blood. The heart seems to have a dramatic effect on everything else in the body," says Ross Rosen, JD, LAc, CA, MSTOM, Dipl AC & CH (NCCAOM), of The Center for Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine P.A. in Westfield, New Jersey.
Connecting the Dots
While Western medicine probes the heart's physical functioning, TCM searches for energy imbalances by looking for patterns in a person's complaints.
"The wrong approach, in my opinion, is to try to relieve a Western ailment before you have established the proper pattern," Simon notes. "For example, I once had a 20-year-old, slim patient who came to me complaining of hypertension. She had seen several other acupuncturists before she got to my clinic, all of whom had prescribed the number-one formula for hypertension in TCM. When I interviewed her, I discerned a very different pattern from the classic one for hypertension. I gave her the formula associated with her pattern, not her symptom, and she had great relief over the next three weeks. After consultation with her Western physician, she began to cut back on her medication, and is now off of her meds."
TCM emphasizes taking a thorough medical history and using a sophisticated pulse-taking technique called the shen hammer method. Rosen calls pulse "the blueprint of one's health."
As in conventional Western medicine, TCM sees diet as a major culprit in heart disease. "Poor diet will cause problems depending upon on the constitution of the person," explains Simon. "For example, if one eats an excess of greasy and spicy food, that may build up and generate excess heat in the body. That may manifest itself as someone with a quick temper, red face and high blood pressure. On the other hand, a vegetarian who eats only salads may have low energy, a sallow complexion and low blood pressure. I try to tell my patients to keep balance in their diets, but to avoid cold, raw and greasy foods."
TCM also sees unsettled emotions as a source of illness. Stress "creates stagnation in qi and in the blood, eventually," Rosen says. "When stagnation is long or severe, heat starts being produced. We say that heat goes into the blood and steams the body, and heat starts to dry out the vessels. This process winds up turning into atherosclerosis-it kind of vulcanizes the vessel wall. It deprives the vessel of its moisture, which deprives it of its elasticity. Blood pressure starts to increase."
Managing one's emotions and not overworking body or mind is key, says Rosen: "The heart houses the spirit, the shen. When we see people with imbalances in emotion, the spirit starts to become agitated; once the spirit becomes agitated, the whole heart system goes out of balance."
Signs of agitation include insomnia, anxiety and an inability to feel joy, along with chest pain and heart palpitations. TCM uses nutrition, herbs and acupuncture to bring the body back into balance.
Ayurveda: Constitutional Energies
Like TCM, Ayurveda sees health as a matter of balancing the subtle energies that power our bodies. In Ayurveda, these energies exist as three doshas, or basic constitutions:
* Vata is cold, dry, light, clear and astringent. The skin of vata individuals is generally dry, thin, dark and cool, with hair that's curly, dark and coarse. Vatas change their minds readily and crave warmth.
* Pitta is sharp, light, hot, oily and pungent. Pitta people tend to have skin that's soft, fair, warm and freckled, along with fine, fair hair. Quick-witted, pittas hold strong convictions. They prefer coolness, since they tend to perspire profusely.
* Kapha is cold, heavy, oily, slow and soft. Kapha skin is pale, cold and thick, and kapha hair, which is usually brown, is thick and lustrous. Stable and compassionate, kaphas don't like the cold.
Few people are one, pure dosha. Most contain varying levels of vata, pitta and kapha (abbreviated VPK), generally with one predominating.
Ayurveda views the heart as "governing emotions and circulating blood," according to Sophia Simon, MS, LAc, of the Karma Healing Center in Newtown, Pennsylvania. In Ayurveda "heart problems arise mainly due to improper diet and stressful lifestyles," which causes a "derangement of vata dosha. This leads to thickening of the arteries, resulting in angio-obstruction."
"Stress reduction is very important in heart disease," says Simon. "Meditation helps a lot with stress reduction, especially simple breathing exercises, yoga, etc." Some of Simon's recommendations have a familiar ring: Don't smoke, do exercise, eat a plant-based, low-fat diet. In addition, she says you should:
* Avoid coffee and other beverages that contain caffeine.
* Be loving and compassionate to all mankind.
* Do things in a casual way. Speak softly. Avoid anger, especially holding anger for a long time.
* Indulge in healthy, whole-hearted laughter.
In addition, Simon notes that garlic is an Ayurvedic herb "most useful for heart problems.
Keep your balance: In the great Eastern healing traditions, it is the key to keeping your heart healthy.
Ocean Treasures - For centuries, people have flocked to the sea....
June 13, 2005 10:11 AM
Ocean Treasures by Chrystle Fiedler Energy Times, January 3, 2004
For centuries, people have flocked to the sea to take advantage of its healing and restorative powers.
"The ocean is alive with energy and abundant sea life," says Susie Galvez, owner of Face Works Day Spa in Richmond, Virginia and author of Hello Beautiful (MQ Publications). "It's an abundant source. Sea products are rich in minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, all of which are known for their deeply cleansing and antibiotic properties. When we think of the sea, we think of health, invigoration, the feeling of being alive and yet peacefully calm."
"To the ancient Greeks, the image of Aphrodite rising out of the sea was beautiful because of the nutrients that the sea plants had given her," says Linda Page, ND, in Healthy Healing (Healthy Healing Publications). Today, sea plants still provide beauty benefits. "They have a complete spectrum of chelated minerals, which makes them easier to absorb, that add lustre and shine to your hair and eyes and improve skin texture and tone."
Thalassotherapy (seawater treatment) includes using salts, mud, foliage, sand and water from the sea to stimulate, hydrate and nourish the skin, making it smoother, firmer and more resilient.
"Using sea products in treatments is both restorative and detoxifying," says Galvez. "Now with modern technology, you don't have to live anywhere near the sea to take advantage of the wonderful health and wellness benefits. Your sea retreat source can be as close as your health food store."
Seaweed's Beauty Benefits
"Pollution, stress, fatigue and bad eating habits all affect the body," says Anne Mok, LaC, a certified Chinese herbalist and co-owner of Cornerstone Healing in Brooklyn, New York. This leads to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can result in broken capillaries, loss of firmness, skin lesions, dry scaliness and more.
The good news, Mok says, is since seaweed is packed with easy-to-absorb proteins, vitamins, minerals and lipids, it can protect against environmental pollution and ward off aging by nourishing and moisturizing the skin. "The seawater in seaweed is similar to human plasma, so it's an ideal way to get the nutritive benefits from the sea, vitamins A, C and E, and the minerals zinc, selenium and magnesium we need through the process of osmosis. Seaweed cleanses, tones and soothes the skin and regenerates body tissues, offering a new vitality and helping to maintain a youthful appearance. It also improves circulation, which has a positive effect on local fatty overloads and helps maintain the tone of the tissue." No wonder seaweed is used to firm the skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite!
Seaweed captures all the richness from the sea. "There is no genetic manipulation, fertilizer or pesticides, just the sea, light and the tides," says Mok. "[S]eaweed is ten times richer in trace elements than land plants."
Beauty aids from the sea include:
* Kelp (laminaria), a large leafy brown algae, grows along cold climate coastlines and can bring a healthy glow to skin. "Kelp powder has exfoliating properties that make it a great addition to a facial mask," Galvez adds. "It increases blood circulation and stimulates lymph production to eliminate toxins. It's also a mineral-rich body scrub for removing surface impurities."
* Crushed algae is often used in seaweed masks.
* Carrageenan, a gel extracted from Irish sea moss, is commonly used as a cosmetic thickening agent. "It's a great moisturizer that holds nutrients and water in," says Mok.
* Bladderwrack (fucus), a brown seaweed, is often used in cellulite-reducing creams to eliminate excess fluid from the skin.
A Seaweed Beauty Routine
Incorporating the benefits of seaweed into your beauty routine is easy. You can "purchase dehydrated seaweed at a natural food store to make your bath a mini-ocean," says Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty at Home (Henry Holt & Co). "Fill the tub to the point that you're covered when you lie down," says Dr. Page. "The idea is to make your body sweat, to open your pores, release toxins and take in the sea nutrient benefits by osmosis. Boost the effect with a few drops of aromatherapy bath oils like rosemary and lavender. It'll help hold the heat in and improve your cleansing program." Rinse off and "you'll feel your skin tighten, due to the high iodine content of the seaweed," says Cox. "Your skin should also feel softer and firmer."
Seaweed and algae body wraps are ideal ways to beautify the skin, rid your body of toxins and boost well-being and health. "It starts a program of detoxification very rapidly," says Dr. Page, who has also written Detoxification: All You Need to Know (Healthy Healing Publications). "It's amazing how it encourages weight loss and cellulite reduction." "Seaweed wraps are the most effective cellulite treatments," says Mok. "Seaweed and seaweed mud, especially, stimulate the cells to improve cellular activity and increase the efficiency of lymphatic fluid, which helps break down toxic deposits that can result in cellulite.
"It's excellent conditioning for the skin and leaves it soft and glowing," says Claudia Spagnolo, spa director for the DeFranco Spagnolo Salon and Day Spa in Great Neck, New York.
Revitalize With Sea Salts
Sea salts contain minerals-such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, iron, sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine-that have a delightfully rejuvenating and revitalizing effect on skin.
"Sea salts enhance the youthful healthy glow of the skin," says Spagnolo. "It creates a deep pore cleansing from shoulder to toe, removing rough, dry skin, helping to purify and slough off dead skin cells. It's great for an all-over exfoliation, and leaves the skin smooth and refreshed."
"Sea salt has wonderful drawing properties, promoting the removal of toxins from the skin," says Galvez, author of Ooh La La Effortless Beauty (MQ Publications). "It's high in mineral content and nourishes the body."
Sea salt also "guards against moisture loss, so it's ideal for dry skin and helps prevent aging," says Mok. In addition, it can be used to treat acne, eczema and psoriasis. Often done before a massage in spas, a "salt glow," which uses a vigorous scrub of coarse sea salts mixed with essential oils, rejuvenates and revitalizes the skin. Sea salt is also readily available at health food stores so you can do the same at home.
Mineral-rich Dead Sea salts pack a salinity of 32%. "When bathing with Dead Sea salt you don't even need to use soap because the minerals remove redundant fat and dirt," says Mok. Dead Sea minerals are often used in shampoos, conditioners and shower gels. "Galvez adds, "Dead Sea mud mineral and vitamin content is very close to that of humans, and therefore treatments using the mud penetrate deeply."
Ah! Home Spa
It's easy to turn your bathroom into an oasis of calm and create a private spa to call your own.
For a sea cure bath, mix together half a pound of sea salt and a pound of baking soda, add to a warm water bath and soak until the water has cooled, says Mok. "It's excellent for soothing itchy and dry skin and helps detoxify by pulling out toxic waste from the pores." Aromatherapy oils, like lavender, make your soak in the tub even more relaxing and luxurious. "It's a great way to de-stress after a long day at work."
A seaweed wrap can release water retention and leave legs looking their sleekest, notes Mok. "Just soak legs in a bath of warm water and Epsom salts for 5 minutes, then pat dry. Apply a seaweed mask and wrap legs with plastic wrap and a warm towel. Relax for 15 minutes. Remove towel and plastic wrap and rinse."
You can also try a sea salt rub by mixing two cups of kosher salt with one cup of olive oil until it forms a thick paste. (Be careful: the oil is slippery.) "While in the tub or shower, massage it into your skin using long strokes toward the heart, starting with your feet," says Galvez. Rinse off with warm water, use a soft washcloth to remove any residue, pat dry and apply moisturizer. "Your skin will be silky smooth and wonderfully hydrated." To create a spa environment at home, details make all the difference. "Think of your favorite beach get-a-way and go with an ocean theme," says Cox. "Include something for each of the senses." For example, put on a CD that has nature sounds. To capture the color of the water, use sea-colored towels. For scent, light candles that produce the scents of flowering plants (such as plumeria or citrus). Add "ocean" fragrance beads. When taking a bath, "use shells to scoop out sea salts or dehydrated sea weed and put them around the tub as decoration," says Cox. Smooth on a moisturizer with a sea-scented lotion when you finish your spa treatment.
When you make an at-home sea spa experience a regular part of your routine, you reap a bounty of beauty and health benefits. "In just 20 minutes you can have a mini-vacation," says Galvez. "It's cleansing and relaxing."
Then you will be ready to dive back into reality with renewed zest.
Recognizing the Signs: Roadmap to a Healthy Heart
June 13, 2005 10:06 AM
Recognizing the Signs: Roadmap to a Healthy Heart by Louis McKinley Energy Times, January 2, 2004
From time immemorial, people have tuned into life's lessons that come from the heart. Sadly, times are changing: If you're like most inhabitants of today's harried world, you may be too distracted to detect important clues about your cardiovascular circumstances.
And while heart lessons may be more complicated than simply connecting the physiological dots, understanding those heart messages are imperative for improving and maintaining your heart health.
Every cell in your body relies on heart-powered blood flow to keep it supplied with nutrients, oxygen, hormones and other natural chemicals necessary for survival. Without that supply of life-giving substances, few cells in the body-including those within the heart itself-can survive very long.
And just as damage to a major roadway can cause mayhem with traffic patterns, damage to blood vessels and the heart can wreak a lumpy cardiovascular havoc that blocks the passage of blood and endangers your heart's well-being.
Your Heart Disease Chances
Within the last ten years, scientific research performed by investigators around the world has focused on the specific factors that most strongly influence your chances of developing heart disease and suffering either a heart attack or a stroke.
While much of your risk depends on your genetic inheritance and family history, several factors that determine your heart health are within your control.
The most important factors you can do something about include:
* Smoking: free radicals generated by burning tobacco causes significant damage to blood vessels and other cells
* Lack of exercise: the human body is designed for consistent, moderate physical activity; without exercise, the body slacks off in creating antioxidant protection for arteries
* Diabetes: when excess blood sugar persists, physiological processes begin that endanger the heart and arteries
* Cholesterol: when oxidized (a chemical process that has been compared to a kind of internal rusting), cholesterol can form artery-blocking plaque; antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and natural vitamin E may help the body limit this process
* High blood pressure: excessive pressure within the blood vessels raises the risk of damage to the heart and arteries; a program of weight loss and exercise can help control blood pressure
* Being overweight: the extra body fat carried around your middle is linked to a greater risk of heart problems
Heart Attack Signs
Do you think you know what a heart attack feels like? Well, if you think it feels like a dramatic pain somewhere in your chest that knocks you to the floor, you're probably wrong. "Most heart attacks do not look at all like what one of my colleagues calls the 'Hollywood' attack-the heart attack you see on television or in the movies," warns Julie Zerwic, MD, professor of surgical nursing who has studied what happens when people develop heart disease and suffer damage to their hearts.
"The symptoms [of heart problems] are not necessarily dramatic. People don't fall down on the floor. They don't always experience a knife-like, very sharp pain. In fact, many people describe the sensation as heaviness and tightness in the chest rather than pain," she says. And, if you're a woman experiencing a heart attack, you may not even feel discomfort specifically in your chest. Instead you may experience a severe shortness of breath. The apparent ambiguity of the discomforts caused by a heart attack lead many people to either ignore them or take hours to realize they need to go to the emergency room at the hospital.
Consequently, much fewer than half of all individuals undergoing a heart attack actually go to a hospital within an hour of the start of the attack. That delay can be a fatal mistake.
"Timing is absolutely critical," laments Dr. Zerwic. "If treatment starts within a hour after the onset of symptoms, drugs that reestablish blood flow through the blocked coronary artery can reduce mortality by as much as 50%. That number drops to 23% if treatment begins three hours later. The goal is to introduce therapy within two hours."
However, in Dr. Zerwic's research, only 35% of non-Hispanic whites go to the hospital within an hour of the start of a heart attack. And among African-Americans, the number of people going to the hospital right away drops to a frighteningly low 13%.
Often, people will lie down or use a heating pad to relieve the tightness they feel in the chest," says Dr. Zerwic. "They may take some medicine and wait to see if that works. All these steps postpone needed treatment."
Signs of a possible heart attack include:
* Chest discomfort: Heart attacks most frequently cause discomfort in the center of the chest that can either go away after a couple of minutes (and come back) or persist. The discomfort may feel like strong pressure, fullness or pain.
* Upper body discomfort: An attack may set off pain or discomfort in either or both arms, and/or the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
* Shortness of breath: Chest discomfort is frequently accompanied by shortness of breath. But it's important to note that shortness of breath can take place even in the absence of chest discomfort.
* Other signs: You can also break out in a cold sweat, or feel nauseated or light-headed.
A Woman's Sleep Signs
If you are a woman who suddenly experiences a marked increase in insomnia and puzzling, intense fatigue, you may be in danger of an imminent heart attack.
In an attempt to understand how women's symptoms of heart problems differ from those of men, researchers talked to more than 500 women in Arkansas, North Carolina and Ohio who had suffered heart attacks. (Technically, what they had experienced is referred to as acute myocardial infarction.)
They found that chest pain prior to a heart attack was only reported by about 30% of the women surveyed.
More common were unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances and shortness of breath (Circulation Rapid Access, 11/3/01).
"Since women reported experiencing early warning signs more than a month prior to the heart attack, this [fatigue and sleep problems] could allow time to treat these symptoms and to possibly delay or prevent the heart attack," says researcher Jean C. McSweeney, PhD, RN, nursing professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. In Dr. McSweeney's study, more than nine out of ten women who had heart attacks reported that they had had new, disturbing physical problems more than a month before they had infarctions.
Almost three in four suffered from unusual fatigue, about half had sleep disturbances, while two in five found themselves short of breath.
Other common signs included indigestion and anxiety.
"Women need to be educated that the appearance of new symptoms may be associated with heart disease and that they need to seek medical care to determine the cause of the symptoms, especially if they have known cardiovascular risks such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, overweight or a family history of heart diseases," says Dr. McSweeney.
Dr. McSweeney warns that, until now, little has been known about signs that women are having heart trouble or heart attacks. The fact that most of Western medicine's past attention has been on heart problems in men has obscured the warning signs in women. As part of Dr. McSweeney's studies, she and her fellow researchers have discovered that more than 40% of all women who suffer a heart attack never feel any chest discomfort before or during the attack.
"Lack of significant chest pain may be a major reason why women have more unrecognized heart attacks than men or are mistakenly diagnosed and discharged from emergency departments," she notes. "Many clinicians still consider chest pain as the primary symptom of a heart attack."
Vitamins for Diabetes and Heart Disease
Having diabetes significantly raises your chance of heart disease, which means that keeping your blood sugar levels under control can reduce your chances of suffering a heart attack.
Today, 17 million Americans have diabetes and, as the country's population in general gains weight and fails to exercise, the number of people suffering this problem continues to grow.
The first line of defense against diabetes consists of exercise and weight control. All you have to do is take a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day to drop your chances of diabetes (American Journal of Epidemiology 10/1/03).
"We have found that men and women who incorporate activity into their lifestyles are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who are sedentary. This finding holds no matter what their initial weight," said Andrea Kriska, PhD, professor of epidemiology at University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
To help your body fight the development of diabetes, researchers also recommend vitamin C and natural vitamin E.
Researchers working with lab animals at the University of California at Irvine have found that these antioxidant vitamins can help insulin (the hormone-like substance secreted by the pancreas) reduce harmful blood sugar. In addition, these vitamins shrink the chances of organ damage that can be caused by diabetes (Kidney International 1/03).
In this investigation, these vitamins also helped reduce blood pressure, another risk factor that raises heart disease risk.
"Blood pressure was lowered to normal, and free radicals were not in sufficient numbers to degrade the sugars, proteins and nitric oxide," notes Nick Vaziri, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California. "We think this shows that a diet rich in antioxidants may help diabetics prevent the devastating cardiovascular, kidney, neurological and other damage that are common complications of diabetes."
Free Radical Blues
Dr. Vaziri and his group of researchers found that untreated diabetes raised blood pressure and increased the production of free radicals, caustic molecules that can damage arteries and the heart. Free radicals can change blood sugar and other proteins into harmful substances, boosting tissue and heart destruction.
In Dr. Vaziri's work with lab animals, he found that treating diabetes with insulin lowered blood pressure and helped keep sugar and protein from changing into dangerous chemicals, but allowed the free radicals to subvert nitric oxide, a chemical the body uses to protect itself from free radicals.
In this investigation, adding vitamins C and E to insulin insulated the body's sugars, proteins and nitric oxide from oxidative assault. This produces a double advantage: Lowering the risk of heart disease and other damage to the body from diabetes.
Maitake, an Oriental mushroom that has been shown to have many health benefits, can also be useful for people with diabetes who are trying to avoid cardiovascular complications. Laboratory studies in Japan demonstrate that maitake may help lower blood pressure while reducing cholesterol (Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 1997; 20(7):781-5). In producing these effects, the mushroom may also help the body reduce blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of tissue damage.
Tobacco smoke is one of the most notorious causes of heart problems. In the same way a hard frost exerts a death grip on a highway, the smoke from cigarettes can freeze up arteries and hamper their proper function. A healthy artery must stay flexible to comfortably allow adequate circulation.
But "...when blood vessels are exposed to cigarette smoke it causes the vessels to behave like a rigid pipe rather than a flexible tube, thus the vessels can't dilate in response to increased blood flow," says David J. Bouchier-Hayes, MD, professor of surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who has studied the deleterious effects of tobacco.
This rigidity is called endothelial dysfunction. When arteries are rigid, blockages gum up vessels, clots and other impediments to blood flow appear, and your risk of heart attack and stroke increases (Circulation 2001 Nov 27; 104(22):2673).
This condition can also cause chest pain (angina) similar to that caused by a heart attack, and should be evaluated by a knowledgeable health practitioner.
Although all experts recommend you stop smoking to lower your heart disease risk, some studies have found that Pycnogenol(r), a pine bark extract that helps the body fight inflammation, may ease some of smoking's ill effects.
In a study of platelets, special cells in the blood that can form dangerous blood clots, researchers found that Pycnogenol(r) discouraged platelets from sticking together (American Society for Biochemical and Molecular Biology 5/19/98). By keeping platelets flowing freely, this supplement may alleviate some of the heart-threatening clots that tobacco smoke can cause.
In Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional therapy from India, an herb called guggul has also been used to lower the risk of blockages in arteries. This herb, derived from the resin of the mukul tree, has been shown to reduce cholesterol by about 25%. People taking this herb have also reduced their triglycerides (harmful blood fats) by the same amount (Journal Postgraduate Medicine 1991 37(3):132).
The Female Version of Heart Disease
For one thing, women often don't suffer from the crushing chest pain that for most people characterizes a heart attack; instead, many women experience back pain, sweating, extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, anxiety or indigestion, signs that can be easily misread as digestive troubles, menopausal symptoms or indicators of aging.
The genders also differ in how heart disease poses a threat. While men seem most endangered by the buildup of blockages in arteries, women apparently are more at risk from endothelial dysfunction. But more study needs to be done since, in many cases, researchers have been unable to pin down the precise mechanism that causes many women to die of heart disease.
Scientists have found that the number of women in their 30s and 40s who are dying from sudden cardiac arrest is growing much faster than the number of men of the same age who die of this cause. But research by the Oregon Health & Sciences University and Jesse E. Edwards Cardiovascular Registry in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows that while doctors can pinpoint the coronary blockages that kill men, they can't find specific blockages in half of the female fatalities they have studied (American Heart Journal 10/03).
"This was an unexpected finding. However, the study underscores the need to focus on what is causing these younger women to die unexpectedly because the number of deaths continues to increase," says Sumeet Chugh, MD, a medical professor at Oregon.
Since the failure of arteries to relax probably contributes to heart disease in many women, eating red berries, or consuming supplements from berries such as chokeberry, bilberry or elderberry, may be important in lowering women's heart disease risk. These fruits help arteries expand and allow blood to flow freely.
Red berries are rich sources of flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocynanins. The anthocyanins are strong antioxidants that give the berries their color. Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine have found that these chemicals can interact with nitrous oxide, a chemical produced by the body, to relax blood vessels (Experimental Biology conference 5/20/02).
As researchers work to devise lifestyle roadmaps that can steer you around the perils of heart disease, they are finding that exercise is a key path to avoiding cardiovascular complications.
A 17-year study of about 10,000 Americans found that those who exercised and kept their weight down (or took weight off and kept it off) experienced a significantly lower risk of heart problems (Preventive Medicine 11/03).
"The fact is that those who both exercised more and ate more nevertheless had low cardiovascular mortality," says Jing Fang, MD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. Burning calories in physical activity may be the secret to reducing heart disease risk and living longer, she says.
Dr. Fang's research used information collected from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 1975 and then computed how much people exercised, how their body mass indices varied and which of these folks died of heart disease during the next two decades.
In the study, more than 1,500 people died of heart disease. Those who worked out and consumed more calories cut their risk of heart disease death in half.
Exercise Is Essential
"Subjects with the lowest caloric intake, least physical activity, and who were overweight or obese had significantly higher cardiovascular mortality rates than those with high caloric intake, most physical activity, and normal weight," Dr. Fang notes. The individuals in the study who were overweight and didn't exercise had a bigger risk of heart disease even if they tried (and succeeded) at eating less.
"This suggests that heart disease outcome was not determined by a single factor, but rather by a compound of behavioral, socioeconomic, genetic and clinical characteristics," according to Dr. Fang.
According to researchers, if your job requires a great deal of physical activity, your health will be better if you get another job. Exercise on the job not only doesn't decrease your risk of heart disease, it may actually raise it. The reason: On-the-job activity is linked to heart-endangering increases in job stress.
Research into this subject, performed at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, found that while recreational exercise slowed hardening of the arteries, workers who had to exert themselves during the workday had arteries that were blocked at a younger age (American Journal of Medicine 7/03).
In this study, researchers examined about 500 middle-aged employees as part of what is called the Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study.
"We found that atherosclerosis progressed significantly faster in people with greater stress, and people who were under more stress also were the ones who exercised more in their jobs," says James Dwyer, PhD, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School. According to Dr. Dwyer, "This suggests that the apparent harmful effect of physical activity at work on atherosclerosis-and heart disease risk-may be due to the tendency of high-activity jobs to be more stressful in modern workplaces.
"It appears from our findings that the psychological stresses associated with physically active jobs overcomes any biological benefit of the activity itself."
On the other hand, the scientists found that heart disease drops dramatically among those who exercise the most in their spare time. In the study, people who vigorously worked out at least three times a week had the lowest risk. But even those who just took walks enjoyed better heart health than people whose most strenuous activity was working the TV remote. Dr. Dwyer says, "These results are important because they demonstrate the very substantial and almost immediate-within one or two years-cardiovascular benefit of greater physical activity."
Lowering your risk of heart disease is substantially up to you. Listen to what your heart tells you it needs; then, exercise your right to fetch some cardiovascular necessities.
Garlic for the Ages - eat garlic because it's good for your heart...
June 13, 2005 09:58 AM
Garlic for the Ages by Phyllis D. Light, RH Energy Times, January 1 , 2004
If you eat garlic because it's good for your heart, you swallow a plant renowned through human history: Garlic was eaten by Roman soldiers for courage; Egyptian slaves ate it to build strength; Christians, Moslems and Hindus include it in their sacred books. Others have used it as an aphrodisiac, a vampire deterrent and a magical charm.
Garlic has a long history as a culinary and medicinal herb that people either love or hate. Its pungent aroma and warming flavor captivates or repels, but its wealth of natural chemicals does great things for your heart.
Garlic (Allium sativum), a member of the onion family, is native to Siberia but, in modern times, has become a treasured naturalized citizen grown all over the world. Garlic's use in folk medicine dates back about 7,000 years, making it one of the oldest known medicinal foods or herbs.
In modern times, garlic is generally used as a condiment lending a unique, pungent flavor to dishes, but in medieval times, garlic was cooked and eaten as a vegetable in its own right. Today you can revel in a wealth of garlic choices, consuming garlic raw, cooked in various recipes, as a dried concentrated powder, as a fresh liquid extract or as aged garlic powder.
Each little clove of garlic is a powerhouse of good-for-you natural compounds, vitamins and minerals. The biologically active constituents of garlic include allyl sulfur compounds as well as the minerals germanium and selenium.
When you chop up raw garlic and allowed it to stand for about 10 minutes or more, the herb's fragments release an enzyme that converts its compounds from allyl sulfur to another natural chemical called allicin.
Although some allicin is found in garlic before it is cut apart, the yield multiplies considerably when the garlic clove is chopped or pressed and exposed to water (Garlic Conference, Newport Beach, 11/15/98; Penn State).
Many researchers believe that the more allicin produced, the better the health benefits. (Although this is still being debated among the garlic cognoscenti.)
But garlic's benefits don't end meekly on the kitchen counter with its allicin content rising.
Cooked garlic and aged garlic contain other helpful chemicals called diallyl sulphides. Consequently, in any form, garlic produces beneficial health effects.
Fortunately, since raw garlic juice or oil can often irritate the stomach lining, especially in people with sensitive stomachs and delicate digestive systems, garlic supplements and cooked garlic are both helpful for heart health.
Aged Garlic Extract
Aging garlic significantly reduces its irritating compounds and makes it easier on the stomach.
In the aged form, all of garlic's healthy sulfur-containing compounds are converted to water- soluble compounds that retain garlic's natural health benefits. In addition, the pungent odor of the garlic is greatly reduced, an outcome many people desire.
When a group of researchers at Brown University studied the effects of aged garlic extract on people's cholesterol levels, they found that after six months, cholesterol dropped about 6% (Am J Clin Nutr 1996; 64:866-70).
In another study from Brown, researchers found that aged garlic extract reduced platelet adhesion, a sticky blood problem that can cause vessel blockages (New Drug Clin 45(3):456-66). When platelets are less sticky, they are less likely to form blood clots that can cause heart attacks.
Garlic and Heart Disease
A growing body of research shows that a clove of garlic a day can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.
A four-year study of 280 people who took dried garlic powder three times a day found a striking reduction in the types of arterial plaque blockages that threaten the blood supply to your heart. Interestingly, in this particular study, women displayed a greater reduction in plaque than men (Atherosclerosis 2000; 150:437-8).
Another study found that garlic may also keep important blood vessels more supple and less likely to spasm. Arterial spasms have been linked to heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems in women.
As you age, the aorta, one of the main arteries that carries blood, may harden, reducing blood flow from the heart and placing damaging stress on a number of other bodily organs. In research at Ohio State University, people who took garlic supplements had 15% less aortic stiffness than people who avoided garlic (Circulation).
In this study, scientists found that the older people enjoyed the greatest cardiovascular benefits from daily garlic use.
Researchers believe this extra benefit is linked to the fact that as you age, the endothelial tissue in the linings of the aorta and other blood vessels become less responsive to the need to dilate (expand). As a result, when more blood flow is required, and the heart pumps faster, these vessels take more of a beating from the friction of blood passing through them.
That restriction in dilation has two damaging consequences: In one instance, vessel walls can be injured. In response to these injuries, cholesterol collects on artery walls, plaque forms and the blood supply to the heart muscle can be restricted, leading to a heart attack. In other cases, arteries can restrict blood flow to the heart simply because of the inability to expand sufficiently.
The Ohio State researchers found that arteries in folks aged 70 to 80 benefited the most from taking garlic. But those in their 60s also benefited significantly.
Garlic's natural antioxidant properties can also help protect the heart from damage after surgery (BMC Pharmacology 9/02).
In a study performed on lab animals, researchers found that oxidative stress, a source of cell damage that takes place after surgery, dropped when the animals ate a diet that included garlic.
Oxidative stress can seriously reduce cardiac function, limit the amount of blood the heart can pump and cause permanent damage to the heart muscle.
Garlic Against Blood Clots
Under normal circumstances, blood clots serve a useful purpose: Cut yourself and a blood clot stops the bleeding. Without this clotting ability, you might bleed to death. But if your blood is too prone to clotting, these clumps can cut off blood supply to your heart and other organs, endangering your life.
In a study of apparently healthy individuals whose relatives had already suffered from heart disease, researchers found that their blood formed thick, tangled blood clots, increasing their risk of heart problems (Circulation rapid access 9/23/02). These blood clots are made of a substance called fibrin, a protein in the plasma that can form elastic threads that cut off blood flow.
While these researchers recommended aspirin as an anti-clotting measure for people at risk of heart disease, garlic can also help break up fibrin and possibly lower your chance of heart problems (Pharmatherapy 5(2): 83).
The fibrin that forms clots is produced by blood cells called platelets. Other scientists who have looked into garlic's benefits believe that one of its natural chemicals called ajoene may keep platelets from producing excessive fibrin and gumming up the flow of blood through arteries.
If you've rarely indulged in garlic, you may need a period of adjustment in growing accustomed to its unique taste and aroma. But its heart benefits confirm the long-ago observation by Pliny, an ancient Roman naturalist, that "garlic has powerful properties."
Down with Blood Pressure
June 12, 2005 08:03 AM
Down with Blood Pressure by Kim Erickson Energy Times, January 6, 2002
More than one of four Americans suffers from high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. This so-called silent killer is often the first step in developing long-term problems like heart disease and stroke. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure leads to about 45,000 deaths a year and contributes to another 210,000. Hypertension is more common in women beginning at age 50, particularly African-American women. And since high blood pressure rarely causes obvious physical distress, unless your health practitioner monitors your blood pressure on a regular basis, it's easy to miss. The famous study by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), known as the Framingham Heart Study, found that half of all people who suffered a first heart attack and two-thirds of first-time stroke victims also had moderate to high blood pressure. What's more, left untreated, high blood pressure can also increase the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), aneurysms, loss of vision and kidney failure. Normal blood pressure is considered 120/80. When blood pressure reaches 140/90 or above on a consistent basis, you have high blood pressure. What do the numbers mean? The top number, systolic pressure, represents the peak pressure generated in your arteries when your heart beats. The bottom number, diastolic pressure, indicates the pressure when your heart is at rest between heartbeats. Among 95% of all people with high blood pressure, health practitioners can generally pinpoint no specific, single cause.
For decades, the most common recommendation for people with high blood pressure was to eat less salt. Experts have advocated reducing our salt intake to no more than three teaspoons a day: six grams (2400 mg), which is four grams less than the current national average. This recommendation was largely based on a study conducted by Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois, known as INTERSALT. The study tested more than 10,000 men and women from 32 countries. The researchers concluded that eating a lot of salt was linked to rises in blood pressure. Other scientists haven't always found the same results. One review of 56 clinical trials by the Integrative and Behavioral Cardiology Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found only a modest reduction in blood pressure when the salt shaker was left unshaken. And an analysis of 58 studies by academics at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark found that, overall, studies did not support a general recommendation to reduce the amount of salt we consume. Added to all this confusion, many people are salt sensitive: their bodies retain excess salt instead of flushing it out of their systems. Unfortunately, only medical tests can reveal this sensitivity. Consequently, experts still recommend that you eat fewer foods containing salt. That means going easy on processed foods, lunch meats and soft drinks. In addition, increasing your intake of potassium, calcium and magnesium may help your blood pressure.
Foods rich in potassium and magnesium not only help regulate blood pressure, but may boost overall cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of stroke. Vegetarian items such as bananas, baked potatoes and oranges are rich in these minerals. Research that looked at 30,000 doctors found that those who ate diets rich in fiber, potassium and magnesium had lower blood pressure than the men who ate few of these mineral-rich foods (Circ, 1992; vol 86:1475-1484). A study of 40,000 female nurses found that their pressure decreased when they consumed fibrous and magnesium-filled foods (Hypertension, 1996, vol 27:1065-1072).
The nutrient CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance which acts as an antioxidant in the body, decreasing the harm caused by caustic substances known as free radicals. Found in every part of the body, CoQ10 is necessary for producing energy in every cell. But it is estimated that nearly 40% of people with high blood pressure are deficient in CoQ10. Tests of CoQ10 seem to show that it can often reduce blood pressure by almost 10% (Cur Ther Res 1990;47: 841-845). It also appears to reduce blood triglycerides, blood fats linked to heart disease, and insulin, while slightly increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in lowering blood pressure without the use of prescription medicine came with a study known as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Funded by NHLBI and the National Institutes of Health, the multicenter study examined more than 400 people with high blood pressure. These folks were divided into three groups. One ate the standard high-sodium, high-fat American diet, the second a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and the third a combination diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products (the DASH diet). While the group eating plenty of fruits and vegetables enjoyed a modest reduction in blood pressure, the study found that combining low-fat dairy with produce lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 11.4 and 5.5 points, respectively. And the benefits came quickly. Many of the people on the combination diet lowered their blood pressure within two weeks. The results were so impressive that researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts suggested that the DASH diet may offer an alternative to drug therapy for people with hypertension and may even serve to prevent high blood pressure altogether. The DASH diet is low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Similar to the diet found in Mediterranean cultures, DASH also includes nuts, seeds and legumes, and is supplemented by non- or low-fat dairy products. Moderate amounts of protein-in the form of fish, poultry and soy-are also eaten. Eating in the DASH may also spur weight loss. Since being overweight can increase your blood pressure, the NHLBI strongly recommends a low-calorie diet such as DASH to take off extra pounds. Exercise and stress relief play critical roles in most pressure-reducing plans. Working out not only helps shed weight, it can also lower your blood pressure. Low to moderate aerobic exercise four days a week may lower blood pressure just as effectively as a higher intensity workout. And learning how to manage stress has helped dropped pressures in people with hypertension (Arch Intern Med 2001; 161:1071-80). Nutrition and lifestyle: two vital relief valves for dropping your high blood pressure and increasing your chances of longer life.
Immunity - The Big Picture
June 10, 2005 09:51 PM
Immunity: The Big Picture by Brian Amherst Energy Times, August 3, 1999
Your body wants to be well. Outfitted with a battalion of defenses for strategic deployment, your immune system explodes with resistant force at the first sign of infective invasion.
Think of the time a tiny splinter embedded itself in your thumb. By bedtime, the spot rose and reddened; by morning, white blood cells had launched their campaign, building a hot, throbbing fortification. By day's end, the bit of wood was propelled to the surface and ejected by the immune system warriors. Once again, a foreign assailant was summarily ousted.
The Protective Force
"Supporting the immune system is critical to good health. Conversely, good health is critical to supporting the immune system." So write naturopathic doctors Michael T. Murray and Joseph E. Pizzorno in their Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Prima).
Maintaining the immune system requires a comprehensive program of wholesome diet, resilient attitude, fitness enhancing activity and nutrients keyed to the clear and specific needs of this energetic machine.
The all-star lineup for immune sustenance: a high-potency multiple vitamin/mineral formula, vitamins C and A, bioflavonoids, isoflavones, zinc and selenium, antioxidants like ActiVin (grape seed extract) and pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark), as well as the botanicals echinacea and astragalus.
But optimal partnering with your immune system also benefits from understanding its workings.
Lymph, a milky fluid consisting of water protein and immune cells, is the essence of the immune system. Powered by muscle movement (an important reason why exercise boosts immunity), the lymphatic system collects and transports lymph to the lymph nodes. These nodes contain certain immune cells and filter out invading antigens, as well as produce antibodies, before siphoning the lymph out into the bloodstream.
If you've ever had "swollen glands," that means your lymph nodes have been in overdrive.
Macrophages are the immune cells that filter lymph, consuming bacteria and cellular debris while protecting the lymph system from invasion and damage.
The White Blood Cell Album
In Monocytes collect cellular trash after infections and can trigger immune responses; eosinophils can eliminate foreign particles and, with basophils, are involved in immune response.
In Lymphocytes include varieties of T cells, which work with other white blood cells or attack and destroy foreign tissue, cancer cells or virus-infected cells; B cells that produce antibodies that bind to bacteria, viruses or tumors; and natural killer cells (NKCs) that destroy cancerous or virally-infected cells.
(Based on information in the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine; The Road to Immunity: How to Survive and Thrive in a Toxic World (Pocket Books) by Kenneth Bock, MD, and Nellie Sabin; and the Johns Hopkins Family Health Book (Harper Resource).
Keep the System Sound
"But you must always be sure to maintain the mind-body-spirit link," he told Energy Times. "For the mind, it could be exercise, yoga or meditation. Evidence shows improved immune system responses from these therapies. And in any case, you never read in the headlines that somebody has been admitted to the emergency room overdosing on meditation.
"Intentionality also is an important part of the mind link: believing you are going to fare well. For your spirit, you must ask yourself such questions as, Do I feel connected to others?
"For the body, a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. Much depends on your community: I live on Long Island, where there is a high incidence of breast cancer, so I would recommend green tea and isoflavones from soy products for women."
Dr. Benjamin stresses moderation in the use of immune-intensifying supplements, among which he cites mixed carotenoids, zinc and vitamin E.
The Soy Solution
In a study conducted by the University of Southern California at Norris and published in the March 4, 1998 Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers reported that genistein, an active component of soy products, short-circuits the ability of tumor cells to elude destruction by the immune system due to an excess of defensive stress proteins.
Genistein seems to make cancer cells vulnerable to the immune response. Researchers at Wake Forest University told participants at the January 1999 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that dietary or supplemental soy fed to monkeys counteracted cell proliferation that is a cancer precursor.
That Championship C
Immune cells are known to accumulate and retain high levels of vitamin C. Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York now understand how that happens: Proteins called growth factors (which control growth and production of immune cells) also increase those cells' ability to take up vitamin C.
These researchers, reporting in the April 1998 issue of the journal Blood, explain that the additional glucose that the growth factors pump into immune cells (for enhanced energy), plus extra vitamin C, intensify immune response.
And folks with higher levels of vitamin C in their blood serum experience less cell damage from free radicals that leads to cancer, heart and pulmonary disease and other chronic conditions.
Scientists at the University of Buffalo (addressing the June 13, 1997 meeting of the Society for Epidemiologic Research) deduced from studying population groups that high levels of vitamin C are associated with low oxidative stress and lower risk of cell damage.
From A to Zinc
In Colostrum, the pre-milk liquid produced by mammals during the first 24 to 48 hours after birth, took the spotlight recently as a supplement imbued with multiple immune factors and natural antibiotics that augment body's immune response. A 1992 study showed that bovine colostrum might be able to reduce and prevente infections in immune deficient folks, especially those with AIDS.
In University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute researchers found for the first time (on laboratory animals) that vitamin D appreciably inhibits widespread prostate cancer by binding to cancer cells and triggering cell death or their transformation to benign cells.
In Vitamin E exerts formidable immune-enhancing influence on both antibody and cell-mediated immunity. One fundamental study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (245, 1981: 53-58) established conclusively that vitamin E deficiency results in significant impairment of immune function. Later studies demonstrated that it reduces prostate cancer by up to one-third.
In Coenzyme A, described as a metabolic enzyme, takes part in starting numerous body processes that provide energy for the immune system. If you ever run short of this enzyme, fat processing within your body would grind to a halt.
in Researchers looking at a substance with the tongue twisting name 3-acetyl-7-oxo-Dehydroepiandro-sterone, believe it aids immunity by quelling stress hormones.
in Mushrooms contain natural substances called polysaccharides, believed to enhance immunity. In particular, maitake mushroom, which conveys the immune booster beta-D-glucans, is reputed to help fight infections and drop blood pressure.
in Men and women taking selenium supplements for 10 years had 41% less total cancer than those taking a dummy, according to a January 1997 study by Cornell University and the University of Arizona. Other studies have shown it to reduce the risk for colon cancer by about 60%. n Zinc may provide immediate protection against the all too common cold. Scientists at the University of Florida were the first to apply genetic fingerprinting methods like those used in criminal and paternity investigations to understand how nutrients directly affect human immune cells.
The study, in the April 1998 Journal of Nutrition, demonstrates that zinc signals cells to make the protein metallothionein, which protects against infections, toxins and other stressors.
Phytochemicals a la Carte
n Isoflavones from soy, fight angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels form to supply nutrients to cancerous growths. n Sulforaphane in broccoli, kale and cabbage activates anticancer enzymes.
n Omega-3 fatty acids in cold water fish block the synthesis of prostaglandins, natural compounds in the body that promote tumor growth.
n Ginger contains antioxidant compounds, each more potent than vitamin E. Recent studies on mice show ginger can prevent skin tumors. n Rosemary contains carnosol which deactivates carcinogens and helps limit the effects of prostaglandins.
Sometimes the world can look like a dangerous place, especially when you're sick and tired much of the time. But in the search for immunity, menus of health help like this ensure that no matter what your immunity needs, a boost can be yours with the proper nutrient selection.
June 10, 2005 09:44 PM
Breast Cancer by Joseph L. Mayo,MD Mary Ann Mayo, MA Energy Times, May 2, 1999
What do you fear most? Bankruptcy? Floods? Heart disease? If you're like many women, breast cancer stands near the top of that dreaded list.
But that fear doesn't permeate other cultures the way it does ours.
A woman like Mariko Mori, for instance, 52 years old, Japanese, worries about intense pressures beginning to burden her toddler grandson. But worry about breast cancer? Hardly.
In Indiana, Mary Lou Marks, 50, has similar family frets, mulling over her 28-year-old daughter's career choice.
But on top of that, when Mary Lou tabulates her other worries, she recoils at the thought of breast cancer. She's heard about her lifetime risk: 1 in 8. Meanwhile, Mariko's is merely 1 in 40, according to Bob Arnot's Breast Cancer Prevention Diet (Little, Brown).
New studies have found the effect of carrying the gene linked to breast cancer, which is responsible for only 5 to 10% of breast cancer incidence, is not as great as first suspected. Earlier estimates that the gene reflects an 80% chance of incurring breast cancer by age 70 has been recalculated to be only 37% (The Lancet, 1998;352:1337-1339).
Complex Causesbr> Researchers agree: No one factor is solely responsible for breast cancer. Risk depends on many factors, including diet, weight, smoking, alcohol consumption, activity level and, of course, those genes.
Regardless of their actual chance of getting breast cancer, women worry. Mary Lou faces no factors that would place her in particular jeopardy. But her anxieties about radical therapies and medical expenses paralyze her: She forgets to visit her health care provider and skips her annual mammogram appointments. Mary Lou's daughter, perhaps in reaction to her mother's gripping fears, campaigns ardently for cancer prevention, educating herself and mobilizing against the cumulative effects of known cancer risks. Smart young woman: A malignancy, after all, can take years to develop. A tumor must swell to one billion cells before it is detectable by a mammogram.
The soy-rich regimen of Japanese women like Mariko Mori, for example, helps to explain the low breast cancer rates in Asian countries (see box at center of the page).
Tomatoes, because of their high quotient of the carotenoid lycopene, have been found to protect cells from the corrosive clutches of oxidants that have been linked with cancer in 57 out of 72 studies (The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, February 17, 1999, page A6, reporting on a Harvard Medical School study). For more on tomatoes see page 16.
But there's no one magic anti-cancer food or diet. Eating to prevent breast cancer requires a balanced menu with fiber, healthy fats, phytoestrogens and antioxidants, all fresh and free of chemical additives.
Modifying the balance and type of estrogen, the female sex hormone produced by the ovaries, offers an important breast cancer safeguard. Fat cells, adrenal glands and, before menopause, the ovaries, produce three "flavors" of estrogen, the strongest of which, estradiol, is believed to be carcinogenic when too plentiful or persistent in the body.
Estrogen does its work by attaching to estrogen receptors. Receptors are particularly numerous in the epithelial cells that line milk sacs and ducts in the breasts.
A receptor site is like a designated parking spot: Once estrogen is parked there it triggers one of its 400 functions in the body, from preparation of the uterus for pregnancy to intensifying nerve synapses in the brain.
The food we eat can be a source of estrogen; plant estrogens, called phytoestrogens, are much weaker than the body's estrogens, but they fit the same receptors. Phytoestrogens exert a milder estrogenic effect than bodily estrogen and are capable of blocking the more potent, damaging versions.
Soy also contains genistein, an "isoflavone" very similar in molecular form to estrogen but only 1/100,000 as potent. Because of its structure, genistein can attach to cells just as estrogen does; it also helps build carriers needed for binding estrogen and removing it from the body (Journal of Nutrition 125, no.3 :757S-770S). It acts as an antioxidant to counteract free radicals.
Soy is most protective for younger women. Postmenopausal women benefit from soy's ability to diminish hot flashes and for cardiovascular protection, especially in combination with vitamin E, fiber and carotene (Contemporary OB/GYN, September 1998, p57-58).
Experts don't know that much about the cumulative effect of combining hormone replacement with soy, herbs and a diet high in phytoestrogens. Menopausal women who boost their estrogen this way should work with their health care providers and monitor their hormonal levels every six to 12 months with salivary testing.
The Vegetable Cart
Fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains reduces insulin levels and suppresses the appetite by making make us feel full, thus helping with weight control, so important to resisting cancer. Fiber also helps build estrogen carriers that keep unbound estrogen from being recirculated and reattached to the breast receptors.
Cellulose, the fruit and vegetable fiber most binding with estrogen, also rounds up free radicals that damage DNA within cells.,p> Feeding the Immune System Despite heightened public awareness and efforts to stick to wholesome, healthful diets, experts increasingly link poor nutrition to depressed immune systems. Many Americans are at least marginally deficient in trace elements and vitamins despite their best attempts to eat well; that's why a good multivitamin/mineral is wise, even mandatory. Vitamins given to people undergoing cancer treatment stimulate greater response, fewer side effects, and increased survival (International Journal of Integrative Medicine, vol. 1, no. 1, January/February 1999).
Nutrients tend to work synergistically on the immune system. They should be taken in balanced proportions, and in consultation with your health care provider.
n Riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), pantothenic acid (B5), zinc and folate strengthen immunity. Selenium, in lab culture and animal studies, has helped kill tumors and protect normal tissues.
n Beta-carotene and vitamins A, E and C are antioxidants. Vitamin C enhances vitamin E's effects, boosting immunity and protecting against cell damage. The antioxidant isoflavones in green tea, with soy, convey the anticancer effects of the Asian diet. Research shows actions that discourage tumors and gene mutations.
The food you eat influences hormones. Excess sugar raises insulin, which acts as a growth factor for cancer and interferes with vitamin C's stimulation of white blood cells. It may contribute to obesity.
Alcohol is converted to acetaldehyde, which causes cancer in laboratory animals. It affects gene regulation by decreasing the body's ability to use folic acid. It increases estrogen and the amount of free estradiol in the blood. The liver damage that accompanies high alcohol consumption frequently reduces its capacity to filter carcinogenic products, regulate hormones and break down estrogen. Studies of alcohol consumption have caused experts to estimate that drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day increases breast cancer risk by 63% (OB-GYN News, November 1, 1998, p. 12).
Fat Can be Phat
Fat cells produce estrogen. Excess fat stores carcinogens and limits carriers that can move estrogen out of your system.
Once estrogen has attached itself to a receptor, the health result depends on the type of fat in the breast. Saturated fat, transfatty acids and omega-6 fat from polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as safflower oil, peanut, soybean oil, corn oil and in margarine can increase the estrogen effect and trigger a powerful signal to the breast cell to replicate.
Breast tissue is protected by omega-3 fat chiefly from fish and flaxseed and by omega-9 from olive oil. Salmon once a week or water packed tuna three times a week are particularly beneficial. Fish oil supplements processed to reduce contaminates are available. Cod liver oil isn't recommended: its vitamin A and D levels are too high.
Flaxseed is the richest known plant source of omega-3. Use a coffee grinder to benefit from the seed and oil for the full estrogen effect; sprinkle ground flaxseed over cereal or fold into baked goods. Drizzle flaxseed oil, found in the refrigerator section of your health food store, over salads or cereal. (Store the oil in the refrigerator.)
Olive oil, especially in the context of the so-called Mediterranean diet of vegetables, omega-3-rich fish and fresh fruit (Menopause Management, January-February 1999, p. 16-19), lowers the risk of breast cancer (The Lancet, May 18, 1996;347:1351-1356).
Selecting Organic Food
Buy or grow fresh, organic foods whenever you can. When grilling meat, fish or poultry, reduce the area where carcinogens may accumulate by trimming fat. Charred, well-done meat is known to be carcinogenic. When grilling, marinate meat first and reduce the cooking time on the grill by slightly precooking.
Cancer prevention is an interlocking puzzle requiring the limitation of fat consumption, weight control, exercise, stress reduction and care for psychological and spiritual balance. Possessing more cancer fighting pieces makes you more likely to be able to complete the prevention picture.
Joseph L. Mayo, MD, FACOG and Mary Ann Mayo, MA, are the authors of The Menopause manager: A Safe Path for a Natural Change, an individualized program for managing menopause. The book's advice, in easy-to-understand portions, isolates in-depth explanations with unbiased reviews of conventional and alternative choices. A unique perspective for mid-life women who want to know all their options.
Also from the Mayos - The HOW Health Opportunities For Women quarterly newsletter to help women learn HOW to make informed health choices. Learn HOW to: - Choose nutritional supplements
June 10, 2005 04:05 PM
by John Olan Energy Times, January 7, 2002
Water keeps you alive. About 50% to 70% of your cells are made of water. So when you talk about drinks, you're talking about water plus... But, oh, what a plus!
While water is crucial for survival, those pluses can add a waterfall of desirable ingredients to your diet, health and beverage indulgence. Even though water is the basic ingredient when you need a drink, healthy drinking has come to mean much more than H2O. The drink scene has bubbled up to include a new universe of usual and unusual liquids. When your thirst bursts upon the scene, you now have a tremendous choice of ways to quench.
The soy revolution in American nutrition has convincingly attacked the drink world. No matter what your age, nutritional requirements or taste preferences, it seems as though someone, somewhere, has designed a soy drink with you in mind. The most convincing health benefit of soy and soy drinks is its boost to heart health. Since 1999, the Food and Drug Administration has allowed soy drinks (and other soy products) to list soy's heart benefits. In so doing, the FDA reviewed 27 studies that demonstrated soy protein could help lower total cholesterol and LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol that can significantly raise heart disease risk. To be allowed the heart disease benefit on their labels, drinks, or other foods, must contain at least 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving, contain less than 3 grams of fat, less than a gram of saturated fat, less than 20 mg of cholesterol and not much salt. According to the FDA, if you consume four daily servings of soy, you can drop your LDL by up to 10%. That's great for heart health: each 1% reduction in total cholesterol can mean about a 2% drop in your risk of heart disease. The key research the FDA looked at included a two month study at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center that showed soy can help reduce your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol without lowering your HDL. HDL, the so-called "good" cholesterol, protects heart health and keeps your heart disease risk down (Arch Int Med, 9/27/99). Meanwhile, another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (8/3/95) found that soy produces "significant reductions" in cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides, blood fats that can otherwise put your cardiovascular sysem at risk. Isoflavones, natural chemicals found in soy, are phytoestrogens, a weak form of estrogen that is believed by many researchers to produce health benefits. Some studies show that by producing what's called a "weak estrogenic effect," these chemicals may prevent the body's own estrogen from initiating cancer. While studies exist supporting these effects, this claim for cancer prevention is still controversial. A study of Asian women who moved to the United States found that the more soy they ate, the less their risk of breast cancer (Second Intl Symp on Soy and Tr Chron Dis 9/15/96). In any case, soy protein provides complete protein: all the amino acids, or protein building blocks, that the body needs to form its own proteins are found in soy. All of this good soy news has sent sales of soy drinks and other soy foods soaring. While sales of soy foods reached a little more $850 million in 1992, by next year they are expected to climb to well over $3.7 billion. Multivitamin Water For vitamin takers on the run, water is now available fortified with a wide collection of micronutrients. The key benefit: possible health enhancement by supplying vitamins your diet may omit. As Walter Willet, MD, points out in Eat, Drink and Be Healthy (Simon & Schuster), "research is pointing ever more strongly to the fact that several ingredients in a standard multivitamin.... are essential players in preventing heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and other chronic disease... It's the best nutritional bang for your buck." In a Russian study, a group of children, aged four to 14, with gastrointestinal diseases were fed multivitamin-infused drinks and beta carotene. The children experienced vast improvements, leading researchers to suggest fortifying the diets of folks suffering from gastrointestinal diseases with vitamin-containing drinks.
Green with Health
Everyone from mom to the US surgeon general tells you to eat dark green vegetables every day. The truth is, many of us just don't do it. Spirulina, wheat grass, barley grass and chlorella are often referred to as "green foods." Spirulina, a popular food supplement in Japan, is a vitamin and mineral powerhouse available in the US in powder and ready-to-drink shakes. Rich in protein, spirulina contains chlorophyll, carotenoids, minerals, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and unique pigments called phycobilins (PDR For Nutritional Supplements, Medical Economics). It's these same healthful pigments that give spirulina its blue/green color. In studies, spirulina has been shown to possess antiviral, antioxidant, anti-allergic and immune-boosting properties (Free Rad Biol Med. 2000; 28:1051-1055; Biochem Pharmacol 1998; 55:1071-1076; Inflamm Res 1998; 47:36-41; Spirulina platensis 1996; 59:83-87). Evidence exists that spirulina may favorably affect immune functions, inhibit some allergic reactions and lower cholesterol. Blended into shakes and drinks, spirulina can add a healthful boost to your day. Now, when Aunt May asks if you've had your green vegetables, just lift your glass, look her in the eye, tell her yes and mean it.
June 10, 2005 03:52 PM
by Lisa James Energy Times, January 3, 2002
An American suffers a heart attack every 20 seconds. That adds up to 180 heart attacks every hour. Many of these life-threatening events don't have to happen: heart-healthy nutrients, weight control and exercise could ease this epidemic.
More evidence of how to protect your heart piles up every day, amounting to a stack of research thicker than the juiciest, most heart-threatening cheeseburger on a big, fat bun. To protect your heart, you've got to protect your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart and also feed the heart muscle oxygen and nutrients.
Arteries are essentially three-layered tubes: the inner endothelium, a middle muscle layer which allows the artery to widen and contract, and an outer layer that encloses and supports the other two. When the lining, which is normally smooth, is damaged, the resulting rough patch develops plaque from LDL cholesterol, and the artery narrows and hardens.
When LDL cholesterol is oxidized into plaque, the resulting damage attracts large immune cells called macrophages which consume the oxidized LDL and get trapped in the developing plaque. Oxidized LDL is also associated with the death of muscle cells in the artery's middle layer (Circulation 2000; 102:2680). Plaque slows blood flow to the heart and can result in angina, chest pain often brought about by exertion. Heart attacks strike when unstable plaque ruptures, triggering blood clotting that blocks blood flow and may kill sections of the heart muscle as it's cut off from oxygen and nutrients.
Foods, like fatty meats, filled with saturated fat, are believed to start this heart-threatening process. Even by age 15, your arteries may be narrowing.
Antioxidants can help keep your arteries functioning smoothly by counteracting LDL oxidation. Lab research has shown that cells in the lining can be protected by natural vitamin E. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains is an important step in stocking your antioxidant arsenal. But many heart experts recommend supplementation, a strategy that's been shown to bolster the body's defenses (J Nutr Biochem 2001; 12:388-95).
Vitamins C and E: The Dynamic Duo
Antioxidant allies abound, but two of the most important are vitamin C and natural vitamin E. They work particularly well together because C is effective in the fluid that bathes all cells, while E defangs free radicals in the fatty areas, such as cell membranes. And vitamin C actually recharges vitamin E, increasing E's antioxidant effectiveness. Each vitamin provides protective benefits on its own. People with Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes who took vitamin E in one study saw drops in cholesterol and glucose and increases in antioxidants, such as superoxide peroxidase, produced by the body itself (Endocr Res 2001; 27:377-86). For its part, vitamin C has prevented free radical damage in individuals who inhale secondhand cigarette smoke and has improved artery lining function in persons with coronary artery disease (Free Radic Biol Med 2000; 28:428-36; Circulation 1999; 99:3234-40). When used together, this vitamin dynamic duo provides powerful protection against both LDL oxidation and high blood pressure (Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2000; 20:2087-93; Hypertension 2000; 36:142-6). They also help keep immune cells from sticking to arterial linings (Circ Res 2000; 87:349).
Vitamins C and E also seem to prove effective against inflammation that researchers think contributes to heart health. Research in this area continues, but scientists now believe that inflammation from infections with herpes simplex one, the cold sore virus, and Chlamydia pneumoniae, a respiratory tract bug, can foment heart trouble. Inflammation may slow blood flow to the heart and make clots more likely. Among persons with peripheral arterial disease, blockages in arms and legs, not getting enough vitamin C levels may increase inflammation (Circulation 2001; 103:1863). Vitamin E apparently soothes inflammation by decreasing the release of immune chemicals and calming the immune cells involved in atherosclerosis (Diet and Optimum Health Conference, 5/01, Portland OR). Clot Busters Vitamin E also reduces the risk of clots and lowers the chance of a clot sticking in a vessel. It keeps platelets, cells that cause clotting, from becoming too gooey and breaks up fibrin, a clot-forming protein. Garlic (Allium sativa) also discourages inappropriate clotting. Used medicinally since the beginning of recorded time, the Greek physician Dioscorides thought it could clean the arteries. The ancient faith in garlic's circulatory benefits are supported by modern research. Recent studies have found substances in garlic that keep platelets from clumping together and lower cholesterol. In one study, men with high cholesterol who took garlic extract for five months saw their total cholesterol drop an average of 7% and their LDL drop 10% (J Nutr 2001; 131:989S-93S).
Hunting Down Homocysteine
Homocysteine, an amino acid found in the blood, may also be linked to artery problems. Scientists believe that when too much homocysteine accumulates in the bloodstream, arteries stiffen and plaque forms. The causes of this buildup remain murky but it appears that perpetually angry folks have higher homocysteine levels. Estimates vary on how much of a risk factor homocysteine represents; between 10% and 40% of people who suffer heart attacks may have high levels. Excessive homocysteine also seems to be linked to other risk factors, such as insulin resistance, a diabetes precursor (Diabetes Care 2001; 24:1403-10). The good news: the so-called DASH diet-featuring fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, nuts and fish-may reduce homocysteine and drop your heart disease risk by 7% to 9% (Circulation 2000; 102:852-7). More benefits: simple B vitamins can control homocysteine. Folic acid (folate), along with vitamins B6 and B12, may help break it down and render it harmless. Taking these vitamins in supplement form has been shown to reduce homocysteine (Lancet 2000; 355:517-22). What's more, natural vitamin E may be able to restore artery lining function when homocysteine levels are high (Am J Cardiol 2001; 88:285-90). If you really want your ticker to tick stronger and longer, go long on your ready supply of heart healthy nutrients.
The Science of Healthy Hair
June 10, 2005 03:44 PM
The Science of Healthy Hair
by Susan Weiner Energy Times, January 5, 2002
From the strength-giving mane of Sampson to the magically long locks of Rapunzel, hair has had the power to captivate since biblical times. Today, its lure is just as compelling and hair remains an important form of self-expression and self-image. A healthy head of hair is more than an asset to your appearance. A hairstyle can reflect a mood, an attitude or a personal style, while unkempt hair may reveal the status of one's emotional or physical health. Even a "good" hair day vs. a "bad" hair day can significantly determine how your frame of mind takes shape. We can't always control the frizz factor or the humid weather that makes our curls fall flat, but many natural approaches are available to allow us to put our best looking follicle forward. Whether your hair is sleek and stylish, long and slinky, spiky punk rock-hip or wash-and-wear, botanical-based products and proper nutrition can bring out the very best in your locks.
Don't Fool Mother Nature
No matter how often you cut, dye, perm or blow-dry your hair, Mother Nature, with the help of your DNA, has blessed you with a quite specific quality and quantity of hair. Styling may work to change the appearance of your hair, but nothing can change your genetics. Every hair on your body, from the soft down on your arms to the coarser, longer hairs on your head, grows from a cell-lined indentation called a follicle. The hair follicle consists of three cylinders; the central cylinder determines whether your hair is straight, wavy or curly. Each hair shaft alternately grows or goes into a dormant phase. "At any one time, approximately fifteen percent of the one hundred thousand or so hairs on the head are resting, while the rest are growing or lengthening," say Arthur Balin, MD, PhD, and Loretta Pratt Balin, MD (The Life of the Skin: What It Hides, What It Reveals, and How It Communicates, Bantam). Hair constantly comes and goes, falling out consistently even when it is healthy. Consequently, a normal head can shed up to one hundred resting-phase hairs a day. When hair is subjected to harsh chemicals and treatment, even more may fall out. If you're concerned with hair loss, gently pull on a small section of hair; if fewer than five hairs come out, hair loss is within normal range.
What's Your Type?
Normal hair is an elusive commodity in these stressed-out days of over-washed, over-dried and chemically treated hair. If your tresses look frizzy, tangle easily or generally lack moisture, they're probably dry. Dry hair lacks the proper oil content to maintain an ample sheen and is usually dull-looking. To gain back a natural shine, cut back on shampooing and use a natural conditioner formulated for dry hair. Look for essential oils such as jojoba, evening primrose, blue chamomile, and white camellia, and B vitamins (such as panthenol) and aloe vera, suggests Aubrey Hampton, founder of Aubrey Organics. Drinking plenty of water, eating a diet that's not ultra-low in fats and using a humidifier may also help improve dull-looking dry hair, points out David E. Bank, MD (Beautiful Skin: Every Woman's Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age, Adams Media). (Excessively dry hair may be a significant sign of metabolic disease. If you don't notice a marked improvement in your scalp after taking measures to improve dry hair, or your hair is abnormally dry, consult your health practitioner to see if stronger cures should be implemented.)
Too Much Oil
Hair that appears greasy within 24 hours after shampooing is oily. In that case, try gentle shampoos and herbal rinses with essential oils including quillaya bark, amino acids mixed with saponins, non-coloring henna and peppermint. For an oily scalp and dry ends, condition only the ends. Styling products should be oil-free. For thin or flyaway hair, products with natural thickening agents such as panthenol can help pump up the volume. Color treated and damaged hair can benefit from sulfur-containing amino acids; check your natural foods store for hair care products that contain horsetail, coltsfoot and cysteine. Tea tree oil products are effective when you are trying to control dandruff and a problem scalp.
If the label lists sodium lauryl sulfate, steer clear, warns Hampton. And, says Dr. Bank, sodium C-14-16 olefin sulfonate, a harsh chemical found in cheap shampoos, is the worst of the worst when it comes to offensive hair care ingredients. "You also need to watch out for sodium chloride-table salt-in the ingredient list. It's a cheap ingredient to thicken shampoo and strips the hair of oils."
Feed Your Head
To optimize shine and fullness, improve your nutrition, says Bruce Miller, MD, author of The Nutrition Guarantee (Summit Publishing Group). "Good nutrition is as essential to healthy, attractive hair as it is to clear, glowing skin," notes Dr. Miller. "Your hair directly reflects your care and feeding of it." Your hair consists of about 97% protein, containing nineteen of the twenty-two amino acids that form protein, explains Dr. Miller. If you skimp on quality protein, your hair may reflect this amino acid imbalance by breaking, cracking and splitting. Hair follicles pass on the nutrients you consume, nourishing the new cells that form the growing hair shaft. As the hair gradually pushes upward, the shaft is continually lubricated by the busy sebaceous glands. For a smoother transition through the shaft and undamaged hair, lecithin provides a welcome dose of lubrication, as well as the important B vitamins choline and inositol, vital to healthy hair. In fact, the B vitamins are crucial to the growth of full bodied, healthy hair. The B complex strengthens, forms and smoothes the hair shafts, and helps maintain an even hair color, even warding off the beginning of gray hair. For thick and shiny hair, vitamin A works in conjunction with the B vitamins. Zinc can strengthen the hair shafts by thickening them. Thicker and stronger hair shafts increase your chances of holding on to your hair and suffering fewer lost hairs. When it comes to hair retention, genetics count. The more hair your parents retained, the greater your chance of keeping yours.
If you're interested in optimal hair health, think nutrition. Eating for the sake of your curls is a lot like eating for overall health: plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy grains and lean sources of protein, including tofu and other soy-based foodstuffs. To support healthy hair, some experts advocate foods high in biotin, including brown rice, brewer's yeast, bulgur, green peas, lentils, oats, soybeans, sunflower seeds and walnuts. The natural phytochemicals in green tea may aid hair, while ginkgo biloba improves circulation to the scalp. Don't forget your daily vitamins and be sure to take an iron and B12 supplement.
Herbs from China show great promise for helping hair. He Shou Wu, made from Polygoni multiflori (the eastern wild rose), is reputed by devotees to restore color, slow hair loss, and help hair grow back. In Chinese medicine, this botanical has been used as an adaptogen to boost overall health and longevity. Within the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), He Shou Wu is supposed to strengthen the liver and kidney meridians and support healthy blood. Many Asians use the herb to promote higher levels of qi, the TCM concept that encompasses your life's overall energy.
Show a Little Tenderness
Long-term exposure to sunlight and seawater can damage hair, as can combing or brushing wet hair. Treat your hair with kid gloves, use natural products that are gentle on hair, and avoid chemical treatments. If you're looking to lose weight, avoid crash diets; a sudden drop in nutrition can cause deficiencies and lead to hair damage and loss. Keeping a wonderful head of hair means staying ahead of the curve with proper nutrition, the right supplements and a continuous program of TLC. In that way, you can maintain the crowning head of hair you've always coveted.
Fighting Arthritis Naturally
June 10, 2005 02:16 PM
Fighting Arthritis Naturally
by Donna Lee Nardo Energy Times, January 8, 2002
The annoying pain of arthritis grows ever more annoying: one of every six Americans, 43 million people, suffer arthritis, the leading cause of disability in the US. No pharmaceutical can reliably cure arthritis or slow its progression without possibly causing side effects. But you can help heal your hurting joints with nutrients and other natural substances.
Every move you make hinges on healthy joints. The hinge joints in your fingers, knees and elbows swing back and forth. Ball and socket joints in our hips and shoulders twist and turn our arms and legs. But when arthritis attacks, joint function narrows, causing pain, stiffness, swelling and inflammation. While scientists search for the root cause of arthritis, they recognize that aging, injuries, allergies, a genetic tendency toward arthritis and being overweight all contribute to your risk. Researcher have identified more than 100 types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), gout, lupus, scleroderma, vasculitis, myositis, infectious arthritis, degenerative joint disease and spondylitis. OA and RA represent two of the most common arthritis forms. OA generally attacks the finger joints and larger joints like the hips and knees. Cartilage lining the joint deteriorates, often as a by-product of aging, but this deterioration can happen at any age. Sprains, fractures and repetitive injuries can increase your chances of osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when joints become inflamed and your immune system apparently releases antibodies in response to allergens. This type of arthritis can destroy and immobilize joints. Traditionally, doctors have treated arthritis with acetaminophen, aspirin and other drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, NSAIDs often offer only short-term relief. They can cause bleeding problems and ulcers. And while they may slow inflammation and pain, they also do nothing to repair damaged joints. A 1995 Journal of Rheumatology article also warned that prolonged NSAID use actually furthers deterioration of the joints (Oct/95; 22 (10):1941-6).
Glucosamine at Work
Scientists believe that injuries and aging deplete the body's supply of glucosamine, a natural substance that forms, maintains and repairs joint cartilage. Glucosamine supplements are thought to replenish the supply and are prescribed for arthritis therapy in many countries. Several studies indicate that glucosamine tackles pain and inflammation as effectively as NSAIDs without the side effects. It also helps rebuild arthritic joints. Research supporting glucosamine's benefits abounds in Europe and Asia. One study suggests that glucosamine sulfate supplements relieve pain as well as the NSAID ibuprofen (Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 1994; 2 (1):61-9). A recent Belgian study testing the effectiveness of glucosamine on patients with OA of the knee captured the attention of the American medical profession. Results suggest that glucosamine promotes physical changes in joints that halt the progression of OA (Lancet 2001, Jan 27; 357 (9252):251-56). After analyzing data from scores of clinical trials, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) saw enough promise in glucosamine to launch its own multi-year study.
Scientists have been testing the orange-yellow herb turmeric and have found that it may ease arthritis discomfort. Long a staple in the medical practices of Asia, turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that reduce swelling and pain associated with arthritis. Researchers think this spice, used in such Indian cuisine as curry, may work more effectively than cortisone and other drugs that reduce inflammation. Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN, and co-author of Arthritis: An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide, considers turmeric an important therapy for arthritis. "Turmeric is quite effective, and it's much safer than conventional drug anti-inflammatories, with far fewer possible adverse effects," says Dr. Kamhi, clinical instructor at the State University of New York-Stony Brook Medical School. One study on people with RA demonstrated that the natural benefits of turmeric equaled those provided by a popular prescription drug known to cause side effects (Indian J Med Res 1980; 71:632-4). Another trial, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, found that turmeric possesses unique anti-inflammatory properties (1993; 38:113-119). A trial published in 1994 also found that turmeric acts as an antioxidant to help protect joints (J Pharm Pharmacol; 46:1013-16).
As we age, our bodies require more antioxidants to fight off damage caused by destructive molecules known as free radicals. Researchers believe that antioxidant nutrients can afford arthritis protection. A 10-year study evaluating the effect of vitamins C and E on the joints concluded that both nutrients protect against cartilage deterioration (Arthritis & Rheumatism 1996, April; 39 (4):648-56). According to Dr. Kamhi, "Arthritis is a lifestyle disease (and) no one remedy, either natural or pharmaceutical, will heal or reverse the arthritic process. Organic foods, exercise, stress reduction, and supplements can lead to a marked decrease in all arthritis symptoms with minimal side effects and enhanced overall health and wellness." While arthritis often makes sufferers limit their activity, experts agree that a sedentary lifestyle only exacerbates problem joints and that exercise maintains your range of motion. The type of activity recommended for each particular form of arthritis differs: for osteoarthritis, specific exercises like stretching and moving arthritic joints can help if more strenuous exercise forms are not possible. Rheumatoid sufferers need to use extra caution to prevent inflammatory flare-ups by balancing gentle exercise with rest. In any case, keep moving: performing household chores or spending time on your hobbies will profit painful joints.
In many cases of arthritis, maintaining an appropriate weight is critical. Surplus weight places extra stress on joints and accelerates cartilage deterioration. And don't be discouraged if your mainstream doctor pooh-poohs complementary arthritis control. "Any practitioner who categorically dismisses the use of all-natural therapies," advises Dr. Kamhi, "is not keeping up with reading current medical literature."
Stevia, Xylitol Sugar alternatives ...
June 09, 2005 06:15 PM
Sugar Solution by Kristin Daniels Energy Times, January 4, 2002
Sugar Solution by Kristin Daniels
Low blood sugar-a blood sugar recession-can make the good times recede. While you can't live without blood sugar, too much or too little wreaks havoc on your body and mind. And when blood sugar dips low enough to cause hypoglycemia you may feel like your emotions have been shredded. Knowing how the body regulates blood sugar allows you a measure of control in keeping blood sugar in the proper groove, and makes life a little sweeter. Hypoglycemia occurs when you feel dragged out because of low blood sugar. Ironically, this low blood sugar syndrome may be caused by an overabundance of sugar in your meals and snacks. Those who point to hypoglycemia as a widespread problem claim that up to two of three women in America suffer from hypoglycemia. That would make it an epidemic of monstrous proportions. In a survey of 1000 folks complaining of hypoglycemia, published in the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation's winter 2000 edition, researchers found that low blood sugar sufferers complained of hypoglycemic discomforts in several main categories: 94% of the people in the study reported nervousness, 89% mentioned irritability, exhaustion affected 87%, depression struck 86% and drowsiness hit 73%. Other miseries included fatigue, cold sweats, tinnitus (ringing of the ears), rapid heart rate, blurry or double vision, confusion, sudden hunger, convulsions, sweating, sleeping problems, paleness, muscle pain, memory loss, crying jags, fainting and dizziness.
Body of Evidence
Diary of a Maddening Condition
Take it to Heart - Lower Cholesterol
June 09, 2005 06:05 PM
Take it to Heart by Dawn Lemonathen Energy Times, January 2, 2002
Lifestyle is key to bettering your odds of beating heart disease. A few simple, everyday heart-friendly habits can help your heart help you. Right now, heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications like stroke have reached sky-high levels across the US.
Nearly 60 million Americans suffer from one of the various forms of cardiovascular disease and these often fatal complications cause more than 40% of all deaths in the United States. Statistics show that nearly a million Americans succumb to heart problems every year. The humongous cost: Heart disease and stroke consume almost $260 billion annually. Heart disease is the top cause of death for older Americans and remains the leading cause of death for all Americans age 35 and older. Coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as ischemic heart disease, is the most frequent cause of death for adults in the United States-accounting for more than 500,000 deaths a year. And even though most women have had their consciousness raised about their risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer, in fact, their chances of dying from one of the forms of heart disease is double their risk of succumbing to one of the forms of cancer. And ten times more women die from cardiovascular problems than die from breast cancer.
Cholesterol and Heart Health
Nuts and Heart Health
Vegetarianism vs Heart Disease
Improove Memory ...
June 09, 2005 05:49 PM
Mesmerizing Memory by Cal Orey Energy Times, January 1, 1999
In the 60s, the same rock 'n' rollers who belted out "One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small," often espoused the belief that certain pills could expand the mind. While counter-culture pill purveyors were pilloried for their pill-popping claims, 90s nutritional research has uncovered a stash of supplements that may amplify mental improvement.
Like a blues singer bending a high note, researchers are now humming with dramatic assertions that certain nutritional supplements can sustain and enhance concentration and memory function. For instance, studies reveal possible benefits for cognitive powers from vitamin C, magnesium and Ginkgo biloba. A recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 278:1327-1332) said that an extract of Ginkgo biloba "can stabilize and, in some cases, improve the cognitive function and social behavior of demented patients."
A researcher in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences noted that a daily dose of vitamin E may "help protect the brain and its memories from the ravages of time." And the beat goes on: other evidence indicates that zinc, iron and boron may pump up short-term memory attention span and cut the time it takes to perform mental tasks.
Lester Packer, PhD, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, told a joint 1996 United Nations-World Health Organization conference on Aging that "there is a growing body of evidence indicating that the free radical theory of aging and aging-related disease is valid," and that dietary and supplemental antioxidants can help fight illness and mental deterioration.
Vitamin E and other memory aids are believed to protect brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, "the ferrymen of the brain's communication system," that influence concentration and memory. Experts say that sustaining the level of these nerve chemicals in the brain can potentially improve all mental processes.
Too much alcohol, for example, commonly causes progressive mental decline, according to Secrets of the Superyoung (Villard) by David Weeks and Jamie James. The authors also point out that "the memory tends to worsen noticeably after 15 years of alcohol drinking, and much sooner in people who go on massive binges."
"The effects of cigarette smoke are subtler because the poisonous effects of carbon monoxide in each puff are temporarily offset by the alerting effects of the nicotine," they add. Can't remember the name of that singer cavorting in a music video? Tests have shown that smokers are worse at connecting peoples' names to their faces than nonsmokers.
n Learn something new: A second language, musical instrument, or unique puzzles and games keep neurons working like new.
n Turn off the TV: Read. Studies show that passively watching TV requires less concentration than eating cereal. Mental rejuvenation also requires physical activity. Exercise increases oxygen flow to the brain, which supports memory, concentration and cognition. One study has shown that exercise significantly brightened the moods of middle-aged and older women, regardless of whether they were pre- or post-menopausal, with or without hormone replacement therapy.
Supplemental Brain Help
Antioxidants, including the previously mentioned vitamin E (You haven't forgotten vitamin E already, have you?), provide crucial help for vigorous cerebral function. The free radicals created by tobacco smoke, air pollution, ultraviolet light and certain carcinogenic chemicals deconstruct cell membranes and may foster microscopic brain cell havoc. Antioxidant enzymes convert free radicals to more neutral, benign substances and nutritional antioxidants can neutralize free radicals by linking up with them.
Vitamin C, a brainy antioxidant all star, performs so well that, according to Dr. Khalsa, its levels in the brain are almost 15 times higher than in other parts of the body. This nutrient, he asserts, aids mental and physical longevity. In a UCLA study, people who ingested at least 300 mg of vitamin C daily lived more than six years longer than those who ingested less.
Added to this mix, magnesium also scavenges free-radicals, according to Dr. Khalsa. Plus, experts recommend grape seed extract (phytochemicals that protect a wide range of cellular structures) to safeguard nerve cells and mental capacity.
B Vitamins for the Mind
Boron plays a crucial part in mental function. Scientists at the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center have linked boron deficiencies to chronic lethargy and fatigue. In brain studies, they found that the electrical activity of the gray matter in the boron deficient indicated increased drowsiness and mental sluggishness.
HupA basically protects the brain from free radical damage (due to low levels of antioxidant defenses) and maintains or enhances crucial neurotransmitter action. More specifically, HupA helps reduce the breakdown of acetylcholine, the vital neurotransmitter, and makes this substance more bioavailable. In addition, HupA helps make choline accessible to the brain for the synthesis of acetylcholine, according to a study in Neuropharmacology (30, 1991: 763-768).
Normally, the brain manufactures sufficient levels of the chemical phosphatidylserine, a lecithin-derivative that helps boost neurotransmitter release, but deficiencies of vitamin B12 and folic acid, or of essential fatty acids, may retard that production. Low levels of phosphatidylserine in the brain are related to impaired mental function and depression in the elderly. Scientists reporting in Aging (5, 1993; 123-33) describe "good results" using phosphatidylserine in the treatment of age-related cognitive ills.
Ginkgo Brain Power
Another ingredient in what seems like an alphabet-soup of brain nourishment is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fat essential for normal brain function. Researchers met recently at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center's Nutrition Information Center to discuss "Keeping Your Brain in Shape: New Insights into DHA." Their findings revealed links between low levels of DHA and Alzheimer's, depression, memory loss, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and certain behavioral traits including aggression and hostility.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health point out, however, that fish is an excellent dietary source of DHA. In their studies, they discovered that depression rates in Japan and Taiwan, where fish ranks a top spot on the menu, are significantly lower than in North America and Europe.
DHA also is crucial to the neurological development of children, according to findings published in Pediatrics (vol. 101, no. 1, January 1998). Researchers suggest that DHA-rich breast milk should be the model for infant formulas that enhance babies' neurological development. Scientists also have correlated some behavioral problems in children-ADHD, for example-to DHA deficiencies.
If you are a vegetarian, or have other cause for concern about a potential lack of DHA in your diet, you can rely on dietary supplementation of DHA. Bruce J. Holub, PhD, of the University of Guelph in Canada provided vegetarians in his research project with DHA supplements over a 42-day period and substantially increased their DHA blood levels.
The bottom line to enhanced mental performance is to take a balanced approach, says Robert Snider, MD, who specializes in preventive medicine in Massena, New York. "Maintaining brain power includes exercise, stress reduction and good nutrition." The message to keep in mind: Don't lose your nutritional balance or you could lose a piece of your peace of mind.
Recommended Reading: & Brain Builders (Reward Books, 1995), by Richard Leviton.
Brain Longevity (Warner Books, 1997), by Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD.
Omega 3 Oils to Improve Mental Health, Fight Degenerative Diseases and Extend Life (Avery, 1996), by Donald Rudin, MD, and Clara Felix.
Successful Aging (Pantheon, 1998), by John W. Rowe, MD, and Robert L. Kahn, PhD.
Celadrin® Complex with Glucosamine.
May 12, 2005 09:31 AM
DOCTOR’S BEST INTRODUCES Celadrin® Complex with Glucosamine. A potent new joint soothing formula now available from Doctor’s Best!SAN CLEMENTE, Calif., January 2005 –– Doctor’s Best has introduced Celadrin ® Complex with Glucosamine into its dietary supplement line. Ken Halvorsrude, president of Doctor’s Best, made the announcement.
Celadrin ® is a special blend of fatty acids that have been shown in double-blind, placebo-controlled trials to support joints and improve mobility. Fatty acids have been shown to induce changes in cell membranes and their responsiveness to immune factors, which often result in painful side effects. The special fatty acids found in Celadrin ® have also been shown to control and reduce the production of immune factors which can have a negative impact on the body.
Current studies show that Celadrin ® works much more effectively than the essential fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA from fish oils,” Halvorsrude says, “plus it provides continuous lubrication to joints, and helps prevent tissue stiffening.”
The results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that Celadrin ®, when taken orally, helped improve joint and mobility problems. Sixty-four participants between the ages of 37 to 77 were given Celadrin ® capsules. They were evaluated at the beginning, at 30 days and at the end of the 68 day study. When compared to the placebo group, Celadrin ® participants had more flexibility, and were able to walk longer distances than the placebo group.
Glucosamine, which has been shown in clinical studies to increase range of motion, also assists in rebuilding cartilage. When used in combination with Celadrin ®, glucosamine works even more efficiently at building cartilage and providing rapid joint cushioning.
“For these reasons, “ Halvorsrude says, “we feel that Celadrin® Complex with Glucosamine will be able to bring relief to many people suffering with joint problems.”
Founded in 1990 by supplement industry veteran Halvorsrude and a wholistic physician, San Clemente-based Doctor’s Best, Inc. manufactures and distributes dietary supplements throughout the U.S. and overseas. Doctor’s Best is known for high-quality products that are based on sound research in the field of nutritional science. For more information:
May 09, 2005 06:10 PM
It's in the BloodNatural alternatives abound for managing cholesterol levels, backed by a growing body of research ©VR By Paul Bubny
The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) last July lowered the threshold for considering the use of statin drugs—a move which some say was motivated more by profits than scientific evidence. For example, the Center for Science in the Public Interest pointed out that eight of the nine authors behind the new recommendations had financial ties to statin manufacturers, which stand to reap billions of dollars more from a category that grossed $14 billion in the U.S. last year. And though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January decided against authorizing over-the-counter (OTC) sales of statin drugs, drug companies would still like to see this happen.
“The medical establishment’s pushing of these drugs to becoming the number one category of prescribed drugs in the world has led them to keep lowering the total cholesterol number that triggers the drug recommendation,” said Neil E. Levin, C.C.N., D.A.N.L.A., nutrition educator, product formulator, and “Truth Advocate” for NOW Foods (Bloomingdale, IL), which produces a number of supplements for addressing cholesterol. “This is despite the lack of evidence that total cholesterol means much as regards cardiovascular risks.
“Other tests are much more important in terms of predicting risks, including CRP (C-reactive protein), the balance of different cholesterol fractions, and homocysteine,” he continued. “Add adult-onset diabetes to the risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).”
At the same time, the allegation that enormous sales potential lay behind the lower threshold for prescribing statin drugs illustrates how widespread the problem of hypercholesterolemia (elevated total cholesterol) is. More than 100 million Americans have elevated cholesterol (total cholesterol values of 200 mg/dl and higher), and of these, more than a third have high cholesterol (levels of 240 mg/dl and higher), according to the American Heart Association. Those numbers have unfavorable implications for the incidence of CVD, as high cholesterol is considered a risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke.
While statin drugs haven’t garnered the same degree of negative publicity that COX-2 inhibitors have suffered lately, safety concerns have arisen nonetheless. For one thing, these drugs lower the liver’s production of coenzyme Q10 (coQ10) along with its production of cholesterol. “CoQ10 is related to energy production and immune functions, is an antioxidant, and [is] an important cardiovascular nutrient,” Levin said. “It is not good to lower one’s coQ10 levels by half!”
Moreover, said Levin, statins increase the tendency of muscle tissues to break down. “Combined with inactivity or certain drugs, this can stimulate muscle wasting,” he said. “Muscle is where a good deal of calories are burned, so a loss of muscle could affect mobility and energy production, potentially adding to obesity problems. These muscle changes occurred in patients and persisted for years after treatment was discontinued, as shown by muscle biopsies, even if no obvious muscle problems were observed by the patients.”
And the last word on the subject may not have been spoken. Predicted Dr. Frank King, Jr. president of King Bio Natural Medicine (Asheville, NC), “Once the appropriate studies are finished, these drugs, along with hypertensives, will hit the fan bigger than the COX-2 inhibitors.”
Also looking toward the future, Levin said that of the 20 million Americans who will be “targeted” for statin drug prescriptions under the new NCEP guidelines, “Some of these will want to try natural methods first. Others will rebel at the side effects of the drugs and experiment with alternative products.”
King and Levin both saw opportunity for natural products in the fallout from drug safety concerns, with King projecting that sales of his company’s cholesterol-related homeopathic remedies will double in 2005. “The reports of deaths from drugs will always overshadow the trumped-up studies and news reports blasting dietary supplements,” said Levin. “Vioxx knocked vitamin E off the media’s radar screens pretty rapidly, though we still see ignorant reporters citing that [Johns Hopkins] vitamin E analysis as if it were true. But the comparable safety of supplements means that open-minded people will want to at least try natural therapies before signing in to a lifetime of drug therapies. Meanwhile, the studies on natural products will continue to build our credibility.”
Those studies keep coming in, with at least four major findings published in the past few months, plus a heart-health claim on walnuts authorized by FDA. They join a raft of earlier findings that link natural products—branded and otherwise—to healthy cholesterol levels.
"Blur of Products"
With so many natural alternatives to cholesterol drugs available, it can be hard to keep track. “As with any other category, the blur of products as they cascade over several shelves means that the retailer needs to have a good sense of what works and what they want to recommend to their customers,” Levin said. “Really, each person needs a protocol that would include antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, herbs, and oils. The pre-mixed cholesterol support formulas are a good starting place.”
To help retailers get a sense of “what works,” here is an alphabetical discussion of several nutrients that have demonstrated benefits in serum cholesterol levels. They include the following:
Barley may help lower cholesterol, according to a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004, vol.80, no.5: 1185-1193). Twenty-five adults with mild hypercholesterolemia consumed a controlled diet low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol for 19 weeks. They then added whole-grain products containing barley to their diets that contained low (0 g), medium (3 g), or high (6 g) amount of beta-glucan per day for five weeks. Total cholesterol was reduced by 4 percent 9 percent, and 10 percent, respectively. The diet with the highest amount of beta-glucan led to a decrease in LDL cholesterol of 17 percent.
Chromium. There’s evidence, Levin said, that chromium in doses of 500 mg a day may decrease levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol) and total cholesterol while raising levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good” cholesterol). At the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition last October, a poster presentation on the safety of Benicia, CA-based InterHealth Nutraceuticals’ ChromeMate niacin-bound chromium won first prize; among other things, the presentation cited chromium’s role in maintaining healthy blood lipid levels.
Fatty Acids. The latest in a long line of studies demonstrating the benefits of fatty acids in heart health is a study published in The International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics in December 2004. It showed that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, can restore normal blood vessel function in children with inherited high cholesterol. The study, which used Martek DHA produced from microalgae, concluded that restoration of normal blood vessel function has the “potential for preventing the progression of early coronary heart disease in high-risk children.”
“The evidence continues to accumulate on the cardiovascular benefits of DHA for people of all ages,” said Henry “Pete” Linsert, Jr., chairman and CEO of Martek Biosciences, an ingredient supplier based in Columbia, MD. “This study clearly indicates that DHA played an important role in healthy blood vessel function in the children in this study.”
On the Omega-Research.com Website maintained by fish oil manufacturer Nordic Naturals (Watsonville, CA) can be found summaries of several earlier studies linking omega-3 fatty acids to maintaining healthy blood lipid levels, as well as related benefits such as elasticity of the arteries. In a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that women receiving a mixture of 4 g eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA along with 2 g of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) had lower levels of LDL cholesterol after 28 days compared to those who received either the EPA/DHA supplements without DHA, EPA/DHA with a smaller dose of GLA, or GLA alone.
Flax is another source of omega-3s, and Arkopharma/Health From The Sun (Bedford, MA) offers FiProFLAX in a variety of forms. Marketing director Hugues P. Mas said the flax is “QAI [Quality Assurance International] certified organic and guaranteed GMO [genetically modified organism]-free.” On its Website, the company offers a cholesterol quiz geared to consumers, discussing the importance of omega-3s as well as other nutrients.
Garlic. Adding to an already considerable body of research demonstrating that garlic can lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides while increasing HDL cholesterol, researchers at UCLA in 2003 reported that Kyolic aged garlic extract reduced or inhibited plaque formation in the arteries of 19 cardiac patients taking statin drugs.
Lead researcher Matthew Budoff, Ph.D. commented at the time that the study “suggests that aged garlic extract may be a useful and beneficial dietary addition for the people who have high cardiovascular risk or who have undergone heart surgery.” Budoff has since presented several trade show seminars sponsored by Los Angeles-based Wakunaga of America, the makers of Kyolic.
Guggul. In use for centuries as a component of Ayurvedic medicine, guggul—a gummy resin tapped from the Commiphora mukul tree, which is native to India—has been studied since the early 1960s for its hypolidemic (blood-lipid lowering) properties. Sabinsa Corp. (Piscataway, NJ), an ingredient supplier which produces a standardized extract under the brand name Gugulipid, says the studies on guggul indicate that its hypolipidemic activity can be attributed to more than one mechanism of action.
Among the possible mechanisms are: inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis, enhancing the rate of excretion of cholesterol, promoting rapid degradation of cholesterol, thyroid stimulation, alteration of biogenic amines, and “high affinity binding and anion exchange.”
Homeopathy. “Homeopathy activates the body’s own control system to work properly,” said King. “This is the safest and most curative approach to take.
“Forcing the body into biochemical change even naturally doesn’t actually have the curative action of homeopathy,” King continued. “Homeopathy can even correct the genetic predispositions to disease we may have inherited from as deep as a thousand years into our family chain.” King Bio makes Artery/Cholesterol/BP, a homeopathic formula intended to help tone heart muscles and blood vessels.
Low glycemic index foods. In a study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that high glycemic load is negatively correlated to serum levels of HDL cholesterol. Assessing the relationship between blood levels of lipids and diet in a test population of 32 healthy males and females ages 11 to 25, the researchers found that glycemic load accounted for 21.1 percent of the variation in HDL cholesterol. They concluded that glycemic load appears to be an important independent predictor of HDL cholesterol in youth and noted that dietary restrictions without attention to glycemic load could unfavorably influence blood lipids.
Medicinal Mushrooms. Although its product SX-Fraction is intended primarily to address high blood sugar, Maitake Products, Inc. (MPI, Ridgefield Park, NJ) found in a clinical study that LDL cholesterol in diabetic patients declined modestly (from 142 mg/dl to 133 mg/dl) over a two-month period. Those taking SX-Fraction also lost about 7 lbs. in the same time period.
“The more impressive lowering of cholesterol, however, comes from the dietary fiber that is found in all medicinal mushrooms,” said Ellen Shnidman, manager of scientific affairs at MPI. She cited animal studies which documented the cholesterol-lowering properties of four different mushrooms: maitake, shiitake, agaricus, and enokitake.
For example, a study reported in the September 1996 issue of Alternative Therapies showed “a 44 percent reduction in total cholesterol in rats consuming maitake mushroom in their diet,” said Shnidman. “This cholesterol reduction is accompanied by weight loss, relative to rats eating a similar high-choelsterol diet without mushrooms. Apparently, cholesterol is excreted by the rats in sufficient quantity to aid in weight loss.”
Oat bran. A 2004 consumer study conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI, Harleysville, PA) for Nurture, Inc. (Devon, PA), which produces the ingredient OatVantage, found that 63 percent of consumers managing their cholesterol levels prefer oat-based ingredients.
Oat bran is the subject of a health claim authorized by FDA in 1999, and NMI research found that 69 percent of respondents preferred the FDA-permitted health claim, “Helps Lower Cholesterol,” over the model structure-function claim, “Helps Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels.” “This is significant for food, beverage, and dietary supplement manufacturers who want to increase sales by using a more consumer-desired claim on the product label,” said Griff Parker, Nurture CEO.
Plant sterols. Also the subject of an FDA-approved claim for heart health, plant sterols (structurally similar to cholesterol in humans) can block the absorption of cholesterol, according to a number of studies. In an “Ask the Doctor” publication (available online at www.atdonline.org), Decker Weiss, N.M.D. noted that sterols enter the same receptor sites that cholesterol enters on its way to the bloodstream. “The cholesterol, being blocked from absorption, remains in our intestines where it is eventually excreted,” Weiss wrote. General Mills has just introduced Yoplait Healthy Heart, a yogurt high in plant sterols.
Policosanol. A mixture of fatty alcohols derived from sugar cane or beeswax, policosanol has been favorably compared in clinical studies to several types of prescription drugs for managing cholesterol. On its own, policosanol was found in a 1999 study to reduce LDL cholesterol while raising levels of HDL cholesterol.
Probiotics. “Several studies have indicated that consumption of certain cultured dairy products resulted in reduction of serum cholesterol, as well as triglycerides,” wrote Dr. S.K. Dash, president of probiotic manufacturer UAS Laboratories (Eden Prairie, MN), in his Consumer Guide to Probiotics. Among other studies, Dash cited two controlled clinical studies from the VA Medical Center at the University of Kentucky.
“In the first study, fermented milk containing [Lactobacillus] acidophilus was accompanied by a 2.4 percent reduction of serum cholesterol concentration,” he wrote. “In the second study, a different L. acidophilus strain reduced serum cholesterol concentration by 3.2 percent. Since every 1 percent reduction in serum cholesterol concentration is associated with an estimated 2 to 3 percent reduction in risk for coronary heart disease [CHD], regular intake of fermented milk containing an appropriate strain of L. acidophilus has the potential of reducing risk for [CHD] by 6 to 10 percent.”
Dash said his company’s DDS Probiotics contain DDS-1 L. acidophilus, “which has been researched and demonstrated to show cholesterol-lowering effect.”
Psyllium. “Internal cleansing is very important” in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, “especially if you do it with a lot of fiber,” said Sunil Kohli, vice president of Chino, CA-based Health Plus, Inc. The cholesterol-managing ability of fiber in general and psyllium in particular is “very well-established,” he said.
However, Kohli said, “It will probably do you no good if it’s random. It should be done on a regular basis, and it should be supervised. Consulting the doctor or pharmacist is important.”
Soy. The protein in soy “has evidence of lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, based on reviews of studies using over 20 g of soy protein per day,” said Levin. “Soy isoflavones are considered only partly responsible for this effect.”
Sytrinol. A patented proprietary formula derived from natural citrus and palm fruit extracts and containing citrus polymethoxylated flavones and palm tocotrienols, Sytrinol has been shown in clinical trials to improve total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides by up to 30 percent, 27 percent, and 33 percent, respectively. Having just wrapped up Phase III of a long-term trial of Sytrinol, Chicago-based SourceOne Global Partners, which owns the exclusive worldwide license for intellectual property associated with the ingredient, is commencing a study that combines Sytrinol with plant sterols.
Tocotrienols. On its Website discussing the science and benefits of tocotrienols (www.tocotrienol.org), ingredient supplier Carotech Inc. (Edison, NJ) identifies several benefits for blood lipid levels. Tocotrienols, according to the Website, have been shown to “inhibit cholesterol production in the liver, thereby lowering total blood cholesterol;” “[suppress] hepatic HMG-CoA reductase activity [and result in] the lowering of LDL cholesterol levels;” and “inhibit cholesterogenesis by suppressing HMG-CoA reductase.”
With all of this, Levin said, it’s important for retailers to remember that “they are not allowed to discuss diseases and remedies unless there is an approved FDA health claim allowed on the label, as with soy protein and plant sterols. What is allowed are structure-function claims such as ‘cholesterol support,’ ‘promoting normal, healthy circulation,’ ‘homocysteine regulators,’ etc.”
Supplementation is only one tool for managing cholesterol levels, manufacturers pointed out. “Besides nutrition, lifestyle is a key to controlling cholesterol,” Levin said. “Eating a variety of antioxidant-rich foods will prevent the liver from churning out cholesterol as a ‘cheap’ antioxidant. The body uses oxidized cholesterol to patch leaky and damaged blood vessels, so the ability to build healthy collagen is a must, using nutrients like vitamin C, Pycnogenol, rutin, hyaluronic acid, and MSM.
“Don’t forget exercise and stress reduction,” he added. “Stress results in high cortisol levels—usually accompanied by poor blood lipid levels—and a lack of good sleep to produce unhealthy people.” VR
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