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Some Using CBD Oil to Help Pets Reduce Stress, Anxiety
July 09, 2018 05:54 PM
Some Buffalo City pet owners are starting to use CBD oil to help their furry friends with pain and anxiety. Products such as Complete Body Daily’s CBD-infused dog treats, which contain 2 milligrams of CBD, can help dogs and cats with joint and back pain, separation anxiety and other issues. CBD has similar effects on canine and feline nervous systems as in humans, and two or three a day will work for most breeds, depending on size and metabolism.
"But in some parts of the region, like Arkansas, CBD oil is being used for an array of treatments and patients, including pets."
Read more: https://www.ozarksfirst.com/news/some-using-cbd-oil-to-help-pets-reduce-stress-anxiety/1284875152
Bill Would Legalize Hemp Farming
April 17, 2017 03:44 PM
There are theories out there that various other industries have squeezed the marijuana and help industry from legitimate business interests, such as building rope or clothes from their raw materials to the medical industry. Marijuana is sometimes though to cure cancer and we know about its affects on pain. Now, in these looser times, we have a wave of support to legalize the farming of both marijuana and hemp. And it is about time in my opinion!
"A bill being considered in the House would legalize hemp in Arkansas."
Read more: http://www.nwahomepage.com/news/bill-would-legalize-hemp-farming/676866957
Cops block Kansas farmers' hemp bonanza
March 12, 2017 02:59 PM
Since other states are allowed to use hemp for farming, Kansas farmers feel they should be allowed to as well but that is not the case. Since hemp is closely related to marijuana, the police officers in Kansas feel that should be illegal as well. Plus, who is to say they are only going to use it for agricultural reasons. However, if it can be allowed in one state for farming it should be allowed in the others and should only have repercussions if it is abused.
"You could smoke a bale of industrial hemp and never want a single Dorito."
Read more: https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ottawaherald.com%2Fopinion%2Fcolumns%2Fcops-block-kansas-farmers-hemp-bonanza%2Farticle_75e939ee-f22c-5d27-8513-faed41ff1ef6.html&ct=ga&cd=CAIyGmMzNTEwZjgyOWIxNGI2ODg6Y29tOmVuOlVT&usg=AFQjCNGfHWs52Qy4baEOPu-5dbxg-cH8EQ
What Herbs Are Good For Boosting The Immune System?
March 25, 2012 03:11 PM
Herbs for Immunity
The immunity system comprises a network of organs, cells and tissues that are responsible for your overall wellness. The status of your immunity system mainly depends on your feeding habits. The foods you eat supply you with vital nutrients and minerals that help protect you from diseases. The white blood cells in your body are also endowed with the role of defending your body against diseases. There are herbs that help increase the number of white blood cells, while others produce immunity cells thus boosting your immunity system. The following are the best herbs that are good for boosting the immune system:
Astragalus is a traditional Chinese herb that is locally known as Huang-Qi. The roots of this herb are used for a wide range of purposes, one of which is to boost the immune system. This is because of its ability to increase the number of T-cells and interferon.
Astragalus is also used to treat inflammatory conditions, liver problems, viral and bacterial infections, lack of appetite, short breath, stomach ulcers, flu, common cold, diabetes, stress, hypertension and body weakness. This herb also interferes with the growth of cancerous tumors, and has thus been used as a natural aid during chemotherapy treatments.
Echinacea is a group of herbs popular within the American market, which are also known as black susans, Indian head, American cone flower, or Kansas snake root. The popular species of Echinacea are E. pallid, E. purpurea and E. angustifolia.
These herbs have been used for ages as natural immune boosters because of their ability to increase the number of WBC as well as spleen cells in your body. They also increase the number of natural immune chemicals such as immuno globin, interferon and interleukin. When White Blood Cells increase, they give your body maximum protection against antigens that interfere with your overall wellness. The phenolic compounds found in the flowers, roots and leaves of Echinacea herbs are the ones that facilitate this immuno stimulating function.
They are also natural remedies for common colds, respiratory infections, skin complications and Urinary tract infections. These herbs can suppress your immunity if taken habitually. Therefore, it is recommended that you use the herb only when you suspect infection. It is also advisable for you to limit the intake of Echinacea to a week because overuse may generate unbearable symptoms.
This herb is also known as Ground Raspberry, Yellow Root, Orange Root, Wild Curcuma, Indian Dye, Indian Paint, Jaundice Root or Indian Plant. It is a medicinal herb that contains berberine, canadine and hydrastine alkanoids. Golden seal also contains vital vitamins and minerals that are needed for strong immunity system.
One of the benefits of Golden Seal is that it serves as an immuno stimulant, especially when blended with echinacea. It has also been used to treat various medical conditions such as inflammation, herpes and common cold. It also has tonic and antiseptic qualities. You can also use it externally to cure sores and itchy sensations.
So if you want an immune boost, give one of these herbs a try!
June 24, 2005 04:34 PM
1Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton, Editors, Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia. (Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 1987), 176. 2Louise Tenney, “Echinacea”, To day’s Herbs. ( Provo, Utah: Woodland Publishing, Vol. XIII, Number 1, 1993), 1. 3Family Guide to Na t u ral Medicine. ( Pleasantville, New Yo rk : Reader’s Digest, 1993), 303. 4Andrew Weil, MD, Natural Health, Natural Medicine. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990) 236. 5Gary Gillum, Editor, “Echinacea” To day’s Herbs. ( Provo, Utah : Woodland Books, Vol. I Issue 11, July, 1981), 1. 6PenelopeOdy, The Complete Medicinal Herbal. ( New York : Dorling-Kindersley, 1993), 53. 7Michael Murray, ND and Joseph Pizzorno, ND, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. (Rocklin, California: Prima Publishing, 1991), 58. 8V.H. Wagner and A. Proksch., “Immunostimulatory Drugs of Fungi and Higher Plants”, Economic Medicinal Plant Research . (1985), 1, 113-53. 9Louise Tenney, The Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies. ( Pleasant Grove, Utah: Woodland Publishing, 1995), 50. 10Ibid. 1 1Daniel B. Mowre y, The Scientific Validation of Herbs. ( New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing, 1986), 119. 12Murray, 59. 13Michael T. Murray, N.D.. The Healing Power of Herbs. (Rocklin, California: Prima Publishing, 1995), 100. 14J. Mose, “Effect of Echinacin on Phagocytosis and Natural Killer Cells”, Med. Welt. (1983), 34, 1,463-7. 1 5M. Stimple, A. Proksch, H. Wagner, etal., “Macrophage Activation and Induction of Macrophage Cytotoxicity by Purified Polysaccharide Fractions From the Plant Echinacea Purpurea”, Infection Immunity. (1984), 46, 845-9. 16Mowrey, 119. 17Ibid., 250 18Ibid., 119 19Ibid. 20Ody, 176 21Velma J. Keith and Monteen Gordon, The How To Herb Book. (Pleasant Grove, Utah: Mayfield Publishing, 1983), 29. 2 2Louise Tenney, To day’s Herbal Health. ( Pleasant Grove, Utah: Woodland Publishing, 1992), 60. 2 3Daniel B. Mow re y, Ph.D., Echinacea. ( New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing, 1995), 31. 24Ibid., 33. 25Ibid., 41. 26C. Steinmuller, J. Roesler, E. Grottrup, G. Franke, H. Wagner and Matthes Lohmann, “Polysacharides Isolated From Plant Cell Cultures of Echinacea Purpurea Enhance the Resistance of Immunosupproes Mice Against Systemic Infections with Candida Albicans and Listeria Monicytogens,” Int-J-Immunpharmacol. 1993, July: 15(5): 605-14. 27Ibid., 43. 2 8U. Mengs, C. Clare and J. Poiley, “Toxicity of Echinacea Purpurea. Acute, Subacute and Genotoxicity Studies , Arzneimittelforschung. 1991, Oct. 41(10): 1076-81.
Becker, V. H. Against snakebites and influenza: use and components of echinacea angustifolia and e. purpurea.. Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung, 122 (45), 1982, 2020-2323. Buesing, K.H. Inhibition of hyaluronidase by echinacin. Arzneimittel- Forschung. 2, 1952, 467-469. Foster, S. Echinacea, Nature’s Immune Enhancer. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT., 1991. Hobbs, C. The Echinacea Handbook. Eclectic Medical Publications, Portland, Oregon, 1989. Keller, H. Recovery of active agents from aqueous extracts of the species of echinacea. Chemie Gruenenthal G.M.B.H., GER. Oct . 11, 1956, 950, 674. Kuhn, O. Echinacea and Phagocytosis. Arzneimittel - Fo rxchung, 3, 1953, 194-200. Mc Gregor R.L. The taxonomy of the genus Echinacea (Compositae). Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 48, 1968, 113-142.
Botanical Arsenal - Plants can help our bodies fight off cancer's deadly ...
June 13, 2005 10:31 AM
Botanical Arsenal by Fred Thomas Energy Times, May 3, 1999
The complexities surrounding the various types of cancer stem from the variety of ways in which these diseases can wreak their havoc. Luckily, the equally complex world of plants contains novel compounds that can help our bodies fight off cancer's deadly progress.
Research into these botanical compounds is mushrooming. An example: The mighty maitake, a fungus with flair, alternately known as the king (it can grow as large as a basketball, worth its weight in silver to the ancient Japanese); the prince; the Hen of the Woods (it sticks out of from trees when it grows in the wild); and the dancing mushroom to those who leaped for joy when they found one growing in its native northeastern Japan.
Researchers today dub it with a new moniker: Herbal Heavyweight.
Mushroom with Potential
The maitake, with such other medicinal mushrooms as shiitake and reishi, historically has been eaten to promote general well-being and vitality. In the modern lab, however, scientists focus on the potent immune enhancing powers of maitake, which spotlight its cancer fighting potential.
Twenty years ago, maitake, Grifola frondosa, was an obscure, largely unavailable mushroom. A series of significant Japanese studies then catapulted it into prominence-and popularity.
Hiroaki Nanba, PhD, of the department of immunology at Kobe Women's College of Pharmacy on Kobe, Japan, and a leading international researcher on maitake, conducted the preliminary tests on the mushroom, demonstrating that it stimulates immune function and inhibits tumor growth.
In 1986, Dr. Nanba fed powdered maitake to mice injected with tumor cells; 86.3% displayed inhibited tumor growth.
Dr. Nanba and his colleagues went on to run additional mouse tests, finally reporting that this potent mushroom "directly activates various effector cells (macrophages, natural killer cells, killer T-cells, etc.) to attack tumor cells."
From then, maitake mushrooms were headed to fame as cancer ninjas.
Stoking The Immune Engine
Like other mushrooms, maitake is rich in complex polysaccharides, immunomodulators that successive tests after Dr. Nanba's have shown to be effective in cancer and AIDS treatment.
The polysaccharides in maitake have a unique structure, rendering them some of the most powerful to be studied (Chem Pharm Bull 1987:35:1162-8).
What makes maitake a particularly hot property is beta-D-glucan, its primary polysaccharide. Studies show that the body absorbs it readily, at which point it effectively stimulates interleukin-1, natural killer cells and macrophages, anti-tumor warriors that battle solid cancers (Chemotherapy 1990;38:790-6; also International Conference on AIDS, Amsterdam, 1992).
Effective And Safe
In addition to lab tests, trials on people have shown that maitake may offer powerful therapy against liver and stomach cancer (studies in China), breast and colon cancer (US research) and Kaposi's Sarcoma, the virulent cancer attacking AIDS sufferers.
Importantly, studies show that no side effects or interactions accompany maitake's efficacy.
Maitake fortunately has won the interest and enthusiasm of the scientific community. Currently, researchers at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, headed by Denis Miller, MD, are completing an exhaustive test of the anticancer and immunostimulatory actions of maitake on folks with advanced colorectal cancer. These investigators hypothesize that the polysaccharide beta-glucans derived from the fruitbody of maitake fight tumors and boost immune function. "Though it cannot be said that maitake ...[is] the cancer cure," said Dr. Nanba in his closing remarks at the Adjuvant Nutrition in Cancer Treatment Symposium in Tampa, Florida, in October 1995, "one can safely say that they do maintain the quality of life of patients and improve the immune system, resulting in the possible remission of cancer cells with no side effects."
More Bodily Benefits
Maitake maven Dr. Nanba also has tested-with strongly positive results-the effect of maitake on blood glucose, insulin and triglycerides in mice, whose levels of all three substances declined when they were fed the mushroom (H. Nanba working paper, Anti-Diabetic Activity by Maitake Mushroom, 1994).
With colleagues, Dr. Nanba showed that maitake lowered blood pressure in hypertensive rats (Chem. Phann. Bu//36:1000-1006,1988). Other studies suggest it may accelerate weight loss.
This admirable adaptogen (meaning it helps the body adapt to stress and normalize its functions) is water soluble and may be eaten in food or taken as a supplement. Vitamin C is believed to intensify maitake's beta-glucans and enhance their absorption.
It's not just what you eat that may help protect against cancer, but what you drink as well. Research from China and Japan, where tea is the everyday drink and rates of several cancers like breast and prostate are lower, may persuade you to turn over a new leaf in your own beverage choice. One of the first studies to spark interest in tea came from Shanghai (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, June 1, 1994), where people who drank two to three cups a day were found to have about a 60% reduction in the risk of cancer of the esophagus. The reason: tea leaves contain compounds called polyphenols, potent antioxidants.
In fact, in tests at the University of Kansas, three of these, known as catechins, far outshone the common antioxidant vitamins C and E. Clinical trials are just starting, but early results are encouraging. A team of Chinese scientists reported that in a third of people with precancerous mouth sores who drank three cups of a mixture of green and black tea the lesions shrank significantly.
Researchers at the Saitama Cancer Center in Japan found that green tea seems to improve the prognosis of breast cancer. They followed a group of women with early-stage tumors for seven years. Those who drank more than five cups of green tea a day were only half as likely to suffer a recurrence as patients who consumed fewer than four cups a day.
And at the University of Indiana, toxicologist James Klaunig found that the lungs of cigarette smokers who drank the equivalent of six cups of tea a day suffered 40 to 50 percent less damage from the toxins in smoke, potentially lowering their risk of lung cancer and other pulmonary problems. Simultaneously, research from Purdue University suggests tea's cancer-discouraging powers go beyond being an antioxidant. Scientists Dorothy and D. James Morre showed that a tea catechin dubbed EGCG inhibits a growth-promoting enzyme on the surface of many cancer cells-happily without affecting normal cells. And researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine found that EGCG counteracted another enzyme, urokinase, that helps cancer cells spread. To top it off, Mayo Clinic scientists recently showed that EGCG prompted prostate cancer cells to commit suicide (Cancer Letters, Aug. 14, 1998).
So far, most tea research has focused on green tea, and investigators agree it's more potent than the black tea most Americans favor. But because both kinds come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis (it's the processing that makes the difference as black tea is fermented, green tea isn't) both contain cancer-fighting polyphenols, just in different quantities. As long as the tea you drink (even decaffeinated) is fresh brewed, it's likely to provide some benefit; powdered and prepared teas probably don't. And adding milk may dilute the effect.
Astragalus Against Tumors
Astragalus, an herb commonly used in Asia to boost stamina, has impressed western doctors for its potential for helping people cope with chemotherapy. As John Diamon, MD, W. Lee Cowden, MD and Burton Goldberg point out in the Definitive Guide to Cancer (Future Medicine), "Astragalus appears to protect the liver against the harmful toxic effects of chemotherapy and may be effective in treating terminally ill liver cancer patients." (They cite a study in the Jrnl of Ethnopharmacology 1990, 30:145-149.) In addition, they point out, research in Japan supports using a ginseng-astragalus combination to improve the function of natural killer (NK) cells which can boost immunity (Japanese Jrnl of Allergy, 37:2, 1998, 107-114).
Other studies confirm astragalus' potential in fighting off cancer. Research at the General Hospital of PLA, Beijing, showed that flavonoids (pigments) in astragalus could help protect cell membranes from oxidative damage caused by ultraviolet exposure (Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih, 21(12):746-8; 1996 Dec).
A study of laboratory animals at Cunma University in Maebashi, Japan, found that Astragalus could help preserve immune function against the harmful side effects of chemotherapy (Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih, 15(2):101-3, 1995 Feb).
Like a flame attracting moths, garlic bulbs have irresistibly drawn the attention of medical researchers. A study at Aarhus University, Denmark, found that skin cells in laboratory dishes treated with garlic supplements lived longer, healthier lives than untreated cells (Jrnl Ethnopharm, 1994. 43:125-133).
Meanwhile, a long list of research demonstrates that garlic's phytochemicals may fight tumors and reduce the carcinogenicity of the pollutants and chemicals that assault us daily. A study in China reported in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine showed that garlic helped slow tumors in lab animals (1983, 11:69-73). Another study in the Journal of Nutrition found that compounds in garlic could "suppress the growth of human colon tumor cells" (126, 1355-1361).
Added to those benefits, Robert A. Nagourney, MD, reports in the Journal of Medicinal Food (1:1, 1998, 13-28), garlic may "modify the carcinogenicity of foodstuffs." In other words, studies show that garlic can make chemicals in foods like pork less likely to cause your cells to become cancerous. (Ind J Physiol Pharmacol, 39:347-353).
DNA, the stuff that genes are made of, face constant threats from free radicals, caustic molecules that can alter cellular structure and possibly cause genetic mutations that lead to cancer. But research into what are called oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC), flavonoids (pigments) derived from fruits vegetables, grape seed extract and the bark of maritime pine trees shows that OPC may be able to shield DNA from injury.
In particular, studies of a grape seed extract called Activin have demonstrated this substance can help liver cell DNA escape a destructive process called peroxidation (FASEB, 11:3, 2/28/97).
In these experiments, Activin demonstrated the ability to inhibit the growth of tumor cells as well as slow the replication enzymes of HIV viruses. This protective ability proved to be more potent than that of vitamin C, beta carotene and vitamin E.
What does the future promise to reveal? Scientists believe that many unexamined plants probably contain undiscovered phytochemicals that hold great potential for helping us fight the cancer epidemic.
Certainly, if the next few years produce as many results as the past decade, the next millennium will witness a long line of cancer-prevention discoveries. Before long, you should be able to take advantage of these potent substances.
As you gulp your garlic, tip your tea cup, mull your maitake, acquire Activin and await your astragalus, you may meditate on what may soon be added to our growing anti-cancer arsenal. Undoubtedly, scientists with a botanical bent will be uncovering more coveted anti-cancer secrets before too long.
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.