Search Term: " Mexico "
Research says flavonoids can flush out arsenic from the body
April 20, 2019 11:36 AM
Thru environmental and food processes, we are exposed to many chemicals that are either ingested or absorbed thru respiration or through the skin. These toxic materials can be gotten rid of thru the foods we eat. A nutritional component called flavornoids, which are found the colors of various fruit and vegetables. The brighter the color, the more they contain. Flavornoids can not only help to rid the body of organic toxins, but inorganic as well.
"In a study published in the journal Nutrition Research, scientists from the U.S. and Mexico found that these nutrients help eliminate a toxin called inorganic arsenic from the body."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-02-27-research-says-flavonoids-can-flush-out-arsenic-from-the-body.html
Fluoride exposure in utero linked to lower IQ in kids, study says
January 02, 2018 11:59 AM
High amounts of fluoride can be harmful to the development in children, especially in the prenatal stage of development. Most people get fluoride from their public water. Fluoride is added to water to aid in dental health. Studies have been done in Mexico that links high levels of fluoride intake affect the babies' development. China has also reported a similar study in the past that had similar outcomes. Constant excessive intake of fluoride also can cause yellowing of teeth and skeletal fluorosis.
"The study found a drop in scores on intelligence tests for every 0.5 milligram-per-liter increase in fluoride exposure beyond 0.8 milligrams per liter found in urine."
Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/19/health/fluoride-iq-neurotoxin-study/index.html
Mexico City Study Shows CBD Oil Reduces Seizures For 84% Of Patients
March 18, 2017 02:44 PM
More and more evidence supports the benefits of CBD oil, including a new study conducted in Mexico City. This new study shows how the use of this oil reduced seizures in patients by a whopping 84%, and that is just the start of the exciting benefits. CBD oil is a life-changing oil, although it is still under a great deal of speculation from so many people. Is CBD oil really that beneficial? This study says everything that you should know.
"While this specific disorder accounts for only 2 to 5% of epilepsy sufferers, it is well known among neurologists and pediatricians for its resistance to traditional medicine."
Read more: http://massappeal.com/mexico-city-study-cbd-oil-reduce-seizures/
Lawmakers revive bill that would allow growing hemp for research
March 17, 2017 06:44 AM
Law makers in the New Mexico House of Representatives have passed a bill allowing people to grow hemp. The purpose for this is to allow people to grow hemp so it can be used for medicinal purposes. The lawmakers decided to do this despite the fact that a similar bill was already vetoed by the governor. While it is not clear if this bill will be vetoed as well, the lawmakers are optimistic that the governor will pass it this time.
Read more: Lawmakers revive bill that would allow growing hemp for research
Food with avocado extract could prevent bacterial illness
December 09, 2016 10:59 AM
A recent study has found that extracts from avocado seeds can potentially be used as a natural additive incorporated into ready-to-eat foods to control microbes that cause Listeria. Listeria is a foodborne bacterial illness that can be very serious for pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems. Researchers from Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico compared enriched acetogenin extract from avocado seeds with two name-brand synthetic antimicrobials. While humans already consume acetogenins from avocado pulp that are above antilisterial levels, bioavailability and safety of the extracts from avocado seeds need further assessment.
"A recent study has found that extracts from avocado seeds can potentially be used as a natural additive incorporated into ready-to-eat foods to control microbes that cause Listeria."
Texas reports first case of Zika spread by local mosquitoes
December 09, 2016 06:59 AM
The Zika virus has become one of the biggest concerns in the United States lately. Texas recently became the second state in the country to report a locally spread case of the virus. To date, Florida has had 238 cases of Zika virus infection, and they have been battling against mosquitoes since summer 2016. The Zika virus can be hard to detect due to 80 percent of those infected being symptom-free. It is mostly dangerous for pregnant women, since it can cause birth defects.
"Texas health officials on Monday reported the state's first case of Zika likely spread by local mosquitoes, making Texas the second state within the continental United States to report local transmission of the virus that has been linked to birth defects."
Why Is Agave Nectar A Better Sweetener Than Sugar?
February 06, 2014 08:49 PM
What is agave nectar
Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, is sweet liquid that tastes similar to honey, but has unique properties that make it a better sweetener than regular sugar. Agave plant is native to the Mexico region, and the locals have been using it for centuries to produce fermented alcoholic beverages, and incorporate it into various recipes. Agave nectar is less viscous when compared to honey, although it has the same level of sweetness. If compared to sugar, the benefits of Agave nectar are obvious since it has a lower glycemic index.
The Damiana Herb
October 26, 2013 11:40 PM
Damiana is a shrub that primarily grows in Mexico and the West Indies. The plant was used the Aztecs to treat sexual problems like impotency and women used leaves along with tea to boost libido. To date, the Damiana plant remains so important such that it has been classified as a national treasure” in Mexico.
Health benefits of damiana herb
1. Prevention of sexual problems
Damiana is known to boost and maintain both mental and physical stamina. It works by stimulating the intestinal tract and bringing oxygen to the genital areas. In addition, the herb increases energy levels in the body, helping to restore desire and libido. In women, it increases the ability to achieve orgasms.
2. Helps with symptoms of Menopause
Many women who have used the leaves of the plant have noticed that the symptoms of menopause disappear after a period of regular use .In fact, symptoms of menopause like night sweats, hot flashes and headaches are normally treated with the damiana leaf by alternative medicine practitioners. It is also believed that the leaf regulates hormone production as well as levels.
3. Treatment for certain conditions
Damiana is commonly used to treat depression, bedwetting and nervous stomach. Though no scientific evidence exists, the herb is said to be effective for other conditions including:
· Anxiety and Depression.
4. Other benefits
Damiana is thought to cause a mild laxative effect in larger doses and has traditionally been used improve digestion as well as treat constipation. The herb also helps restore and maintain normal nervous system functions.
Can The Herb Damiana Be Used For Both Men And Women?
Both men and women can use the herb. For men, it’s known to help raise levels of testosterone and also helps in treating impotence and premature ejaculation. For women, the herb helps to trigger delayed menstrual periods as well as ease symptoms of menstruation.
Why Is Capsicum Cayenne Good For The Heart?
December 27, 2011 07:48 AM
Cayenne and Heart Health
The heart is something that is vital to any one of us and that is a fact. Recent numbers have revealed that over a million Americans die each year of a heart attack. So all the more reason for us to be careful with our hearts, make sure we keep it in good health and make sure we do everything we can to keep it working like it should because I am pretty sure that you do not want to be part of that next million next year.
Our heart is one of those organs in the body that truly plays an integral role and the none functioning of it will cause your expiration in just a matter of minutes unlike other organs when damaged there is still a possibility for you to survive it, but no, not the heart, once you are done, you are done and that is why its health should be one of our main concerns. The heart’s main function is to supply blood to other parts of the body and it is literally our pumping station. It does not stop at any time in our entire life, I am sure no one will contend with that. So I feel that it is our obligation to find out how we can keep the heart healthy. Well, the usual will always be there like exercise and proper diet but if you want to look at other ways aside from that and aside from medication then the way to go is the natural way and what can be more natural than supplementing with something which is derived from an everyday vegetable like peppers.
This refers to the wide variety of tropical pepper plants and as such is also known by other names like cayenne pepper, chilli pepper, red pepper, paprika, Hungarian pepper and Mexican pepper. It is unclear as to what exactly is its geographical origin but it is commonly agreed upon that it is a native of tropical regions such as China, Philippines, Tonga, Samoa, Iraq, Haiti, Hawaii and Mexico. One of its benefits is its ability to regulate blood circulation and alter temperature regulation because of the substance found in it which is known as capsaicin. Its seed has been proven in various studies to have antibiotic properties and if applied topically can even desensitize nerves and can be used as an anesthetic. When used as a liniment it is able to help with the stimulation of circulation as well and aid in the removal of waste (detox) products therefore allowing an increase in nutrient flow to the different tissues in the body which is why it is effective in relieving muscle spasms, bursitis and shingles.
Good for the Heart
One of the reasons why it is good for the heart is because it has the ability to stimulate blood vessels dilation and help relieve chronic congestions which in turn will improve blood circulation. It also has the ability to lower blood cholesterol levels and increase metabolism which are both vital to maintaining heart health.
What Is Vanadyl Sulfate And How Does It Relate to Diabetes?
December 22, 2011 09:24 PM
What is Vanadyl Sulfate
This is a well known inorganic compound of vanadium and in some circles it has been commonly referred to as another name for vanadium. This water soluble sulphate is known to be the most stable diatomic ion in the scientific world and has been known in the medical industry as something that has the same effect as insulin. It basically is a metallic element and is a soft and ductile element which is physically described as silvery white in colour and when it is in powder form it looks as if it is light gray.
History and Discovery
It is commonly known that this metallic element was discovered by a Spanish professor named Andres Del Rio who in 1801 was able to find the element erythronium in Mexico however at the time Professor Del Rio felt it was nothing new so he did not pursue to prove it any further and this is when a Swedish Chemist named Nils Gabriel Sefstrom got the credit for its discovery and it remained as the more known fact until a German Chemist by the name of Friedrich Wohler was able to prove otherwise in 1831. He was able to prove that both discoveries were the same.
Uses and Functions
The main belief in the medical world and as proven is that it is able to function like insulin and it is able to mimic insulin’s effects to the body. As such you might have guessed what follows. It is able to help with diabetes because various studies suggest that it is able to lower the blood sugar levels in the body which is exactly what the purpose of insulin is especially when it is in high doses. Other studies also has confirmed that it also can possibly help with conditions like heart disease and high cholesterol which are diseases that diabetes usually affect as well although further studies needs to be done to this respect.
Safety and possible side effects
Vanadium has been shown to be safe for use by adults although it needs to be a fairly low dose unlike the one that is needed for diabetes. Possible side effect ranges from diarrhea to nausea and some abdominal discomfort. Furthermore, it is safe to say that this should not be taken by breast feeding women as it may have undesired side effects.
How Does Prickly Pear Leaf Help with Blood Sugar Control?
August 02, 2011 02:02 PM
Prickly pear leaf is obtained from a group of cacti known for their positive effect on blood sugar. It is an important source of food and medication for Native Americans since prehistory. It contains unique compounds that display potent antioxidant activity. Studies have shown that its phytochemical content displays potential in the management of blood sugar and the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Also known as nopales in its place of origin, all plant species referred to as prickly pear belong to the genus Opuntia. This genus comprises more than 200 species, but only a few are noted for their culinary uses. In Mexico and most of Latin America, it is consumed as a vegetable in general. The juice extracted from the prickly pear leaf is utilized in different niches of many industries. In food and drug industries, it is highly valued for its alkaloids and polyphenols that exhibit bioactive properties.
Many health problems recorded in the past few decades have been linked to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates present in the human diet are broken down into simple sugars. In particular, glucose refers to the sugar that enters the systemic circulation. Glucose takes on a central role at the cellular level. It fuels the physiological functions of all cells and tissues, including the brain and the heart. That being said, diets high in simple sugars have been tied to elevated blood sugar.
Researchers and medical professionals have noted several factors that lead to metabolic disorders. Genetic abnormalities are something we don’t have control of. On the other hand, lifestyle factors are quite the opposite. It has been reported that sedentary lifestyle and food choices play a major part in the development of illnesses related to glucose metabolism. Experts are convinced that some foods are detrimental to health, but there are sources of nutrition that help maintain healthy glucose levels.
Prickly pear leaf belongs to the group of foods that are good for blood sugar. Glycemic index measures how carbohydrates present in our diet influence blood sugar concentration. Simple sugars are always considered unhealthy forms of carbohydrates in that all of them possess a high glycemic index, which means glucose is released into the bloodstream at a very rapid rate. Foods that are easily digested to simple sugars, such as white bread and sweetened beverages, affect blood sugar in the same manner. Organic compounds that occur naturally in prickly pear leaf have a twofold effect. First, it helps lower the glycemic index of carbohydrates in our diet, and thus promotes a gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream. Second, it improves the hormone activity of insulin and fights its functional decline that results in insulin resistance, a common medical condition that precedes type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Grab some prickly pear leaf and take control of your life.
Bad Cholesterol, High Blood Sugar ? - Try Prickly Pear!
March 29, 2011 04:27 PM
Prickly Pear Cactus And Your Health
Prickly pear refers to a large genus of cactuses known for their culinary and medicinal uses. It is also known as nopal, a popular vegetable from the young pad segments with the spines removed that originated from Central America. Nopales are sold fresh in Mexico and neighboring countries and largely derived from the species Opuntia ficus-indica. This edible cactus is rich in fiber and flavonoids, making it not only a healthy source of but also a potent medicinal herb. In recent years it has enjoyed a much-publicized association with the therapeutic treatment of diabetes and high cholesterol. Also, its age-old preparations for indigestion and other digestive problems remain in wide use.
Cleanses the Digestive Tract
Prickly pear has long been used as a digestive and an herbal remedy for illnesses of the gastrointestinal tract. In certain regions of Central America, eating nopales is considered the most viable treatment for indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation simple because it works, not to mention nopales are delicious. Of course it is now common knowledge that its high fiber content is the reason why it aids digestion and allays digestive problems. Furthermore, the phytochemical it contains serves as natural cleansers of the entire alimentary canal.
Lowers Blood Lipid Levels
Bad cholesterol is notoriously named so because of the fact that they are a reliable indicator of cardiovascular diseases, notably atherosclerosis. Recent studies have linked prickly pear, especially Opuntia ficus-indica, to better management of high cholesterol. The exact mechanism of action is still under scrutiny, but it is postulated that it interferes with the conversion of very-low-density lipoproteins into low-density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol, in the liver. It is also suggested that prickly pear may promote the releases of high-density lipoproteins, or good cholesterol.
Enhances Insulin Sensitivity
Among all the health benefits of prickly pear, its effect on diabetes may well be the best studied. Type 2 diabetes results from a metabolic disorder that impairs the capacity of cells to respond to the hormone insulin. Cells that have become resistance to the physiological effects of insulin significantly contribute to escalating levels of sugar in the blood, which often leads to diabetes. Prickly pear works on the principle of reversing this metabolic disorder by promoting the uptake of glucose.
Neutralizes Free Radicals
Free radicals are by-products of oxygen metabolism that damage cells and tissues, the reason why cells have endogenous antioxidants to fight them off. When there is an imbalance between endogenous antioxidants and free radicals, the body needs help in the form of exogenous antioxidant in our diet to contain the damage free radicals cause.
There have been numerous reports about the antioxidant properties of the herb prickly pear. In fact, Opuntia species contain a diverse variety of polyphenols that are not present in a single plant species. Nopales are particularly rich in betalains and flavonoids, both of which are organic compounds naturally occurring in nature that have been well investigated due to their active antioxidant properties inside the human body.
April 08, 2010 04:31 PM
Comments by Craig Gerbore, CEO of Madhava:
Reading through the attack articles and blogs that have surfaced recently one could think that using agave is bad for one's health. These claims are utterly false and misleading. They are extreme views drawn from extreme examples and applied way out of context. They are propagandizing and clearly designed to frighten, not educate. All of the fears and concerns associated with the overconsumption of sugars and calories in general have been unfairly cast on agave.
What is a "healthy" sweetener? One that you use moderately and sensibly.
Health concerns related to fructose and caloric sweeteners are all dependant on the overconsumption of them. All foods have calories and it is the overall consumption of calories that lead to obesity and related issues, not any one food source.
Agave's caloric value is comparable to the other sweeteners in the category. Due to its greater sweetness though, less agave is used compared to the others, so agave actually can reduce caloric consumption per serving. This is due to a higher fructose content. The higher content does not mean higher consumption though, due to the smaller portion used. But, it is not the single serving that matters, it is the number of servings which lead to the overconsumption issues which may result in health concerns.
As a reference point, 9-10 teaspoon servings of agave would be the approximate caloric equivalent of one 16 oz soft drink. With this perspective, is agave really being overconsumed as a choice of sweetener for home use?
Every single health issue which the attackers have tried to associate with agave is really the result of a caloric overconsumption issue. There are no documented issues with normal, moderate consumption of agave or sweeteners in general as part of our everyday diet. For reasons unknown, some have attempted to isolate agave from the real world and real world conditions with the goal of inhibiting agave's use. They play on people's fears, reference false information and fail to address health issues in any meaningful way.
The purpose of this article is to debunk the controversial misinformation surrounding agave. All information debunking the myths and misinformation is based on current science and facts. It is our goal to provide you with useful information so that you can make your personal nutritional choices in a well-informed, science-based manner.
The Agave Controversy: Exposing the fraudulent article by Rami Nagel
By Dr. Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, FACN, CNS, FISSN
And Craig Gerbore, CEO Madhava
The controversy about agave syrup was manufactured by the publication of a single article on the internet, which has been reproduced and adapted for virtually every other article produced on the internet and other media venues. That article, written by Rami Nagel and published on Naturalnews.com, was highly biased and full of inaccuracies, half-truths and misinformation about agave. Since the Naturalnews.com article has been the sole source of nearly all other popular articles in public media, we want to set the record straight with science-based, reliable information to offer a more balanced resource to those interested in learning more about agave syrup. Who is the author, Rami Nagel?
According to the description on the Naturalnews.com website, Rami Nagel is a "citizen journalist". This means that Mr. Nagel is self-employed, and not employed as an in-house journalist by the website. He wrote and published the article without any editorial or content oversight, and the editor of the website, Mike Adams, makes it clear that the article was not checked for incorrect or inaccurate information or facts. The introduction to the article, written by Mr. Adams, states that readers had written to comment that Mr. Nagel's resources were biased with conflicts of interest due to their financial interests in competing sweeteners, such as brown rice syrup. So even the website editor himself states that the article is not fact-checked, and it is biased and unbalanced.
Who is Russ Bianchi?
The sole resource interviewed for the article is Russ Bianchi, identified by the author as Managing Director and CEO of Adept Solutions, Inc. Mr. Bianchi has clear conflict of interest ties to the sweetener industry. We have documentation of the fact that Mr Bianchi had plans to market a product named Replace. It was to be touted as a low calorie alternative sweetener composed of natural and artificial ingredients! Mr Bianchi was prevented from marketing this sweetener as the result of a lawsuit against him by the owner of the formula.
Mr Bianchi is quoted by Nagel extensively and exclusively. Many, if not all, of his statements are blatantly false or misrepresentations of fact. He is clearly propagandizing against agave nectar.
Was anyone else interviewed for this article?
Yes. Craig Gerbore, president and owner of Madhava Agave Syrup, was extensively interviewed by the author but no parts of that interview were included in the article.
It is important to note that neither Mr Nagel or Mr Bianchi have not made themselves available for questions on their statements since the articles appearance. They remain out of sight and have entirely avoided the controversy their statements created.
What is agave nectar?
The opening line of this paragraph in the article by Mr. Nagel states:
"The principal constituent of the agave is starch, such as what is found in corn or rice."
This is absolutely false. There is no starch in agave. The source of carbohydrate in agave syrup is inulin, a polysaccharide made up primarily of strings of fructose units. Starch is a polysaccharide made up of strings of glucose molecules. They are significantly different, and this difference is why agave syrup is naturally sweet.
The very basis of the argument presented by Mr. Nagel is false.
The agave plant is a succulent, similar to a cactus. The agave sweetener comes from both the Salmiana agave plant and the agave Tequilana (Blue Agave) which are both organically farmed in Mexico and certified organic by USDA approved certifiers. As the salmiana plant grows it produces a stalk called the "quiote" and when this is removed, a natural liquid called "aquamiel". The liquid is collected from the plant, while Blue agave pinons are harvested and shredded to remove the similar juice. Either can be naturally processed thermally or by enzymes into agave nectar.
The juice of the plant is not naturally sweet. The string of connected fructose units that makes up the major proportion of inulin does not have a sweet taste, but when the fructose units are separated (the process is called hydrolysis) by the addition of an enzyme, similar to digestion, or thermally for most blue agave, the syrup becomes quite sweet. That is the entire processing chain for agave nectar. There are no additives, other ingredients or chemicals in Madhava agave nectar. It is absolutely pure and organic and GMO free.
? Mr. Nagel claims that agave syrup is a "refined corn fructose" similar to high fructose corn syrup. This is absolutely false. There is no relationship between agave syrup and high fructose corn syrup in any way, including the source of the product, or the manufacturing process.
? Mr. Nagel refers to a "confidential FDA letter" from Mr. Martin Stutsman, claiming that agave is fraudulently labeled. We contacted Mr. Stutsman at the United States Food and Drug Administration, and his response made it clear that there was never a "confidential FDA letter". He did publish a public letter referenced in an FDA document as "FDA letter from Martin Stutsman to Dr. Eric
Wilhelmsen (Wilhelmsen Consulting), May 8, 2000", regarding evaporated cane juice, a topic wholly unrelated to agave syrup.
? He continued in his response to us that the paragraph in Mr. Nagel's article inaccurately reflected the substance of his comments in the document.
This link will take you to the original document in which the letter was referenced (reference #2):
In fact, Mr. Nagel fabricated the entire story of the letter. Mr. Stutsman is a lawyer, not a doctor. The quotes were completely taken out of context from the document, and the quotes never referred to agave syrup at any time. Nagel goes on to further misrepresent Mr. Stutsman's intent in the published document by weaving in other inaccurate information that is thoroughly unrelated to the original document. Mr Bianchi's subsequent statements on labeling issues are false and without merit.
Mr. Nagel is clearly caught red-handed. He has misrepresented the words of a government official, lied about the facts, and twisted the information to achieve his own agenda. This strategy is repeated throughout the article.
? Mr. Nagel continues his deceptive writing by referring to a quote by the late Dr. Varro Tyler in his book, The Honest Herbal. The first line of the paragraph is a direct quote from the book. Nothing else in that paragraph remotely resembles anything else found in Dr. Tyler's book. Mr. Nagel is trying to claim that agave syrup contains large quantities of saponins, and that they can be harmful to health. Here is the debunking of that paragraph:
1. Dr. Tyler does not include the variety of agave plant used for agave syrup.
2. The entire discussion is about the use of the sword-shaped leaves and the stem. Agave syrup is produced from the natural liquid in the plant. The saponins are isolated from the leaves of the plant.
3. There is no documented evidence to suggest agave syrup contains worrisome levels of saponins and the entire rest of the discussion about health dangers is fabricated and false.
People are going to continue to consume sweet food and drink. There are only three categories of choice to sweeten food. Those are artificial sweeteners, stevia, or caloric sweeteners from natural sources, sugars.
Most people will not choose artificial. Many will not choose stevia. That only leaves the category of sugars. In this group, agave is a good choice due to its organic quality, ease of
use, neutral flavor, low glycemic index and the fact that less is used to equal the sweetness of the others in the category.
The sweeteners in this category are composed of three primary sugars used to sweeten foods: glucose, fructose and sucrose. These sugars belong to a class of compounds known as carbohydrates. "Saccharide" is a term that denotes sugar, or substances derived from sugar. Monosaccharides are simple or single sugars; disaccharides are derived from two joined monosaccharides and when they are hydrolyzed, or separated, they yield two molecules of simple sugar. Strings of more than two sugar molecules are called polysaccharides. This category includes compounds such as starches, cellulose and inulin.
Glucose and fructose are monosaccharides. Glucose and fructose are found abundantly in nature in fruits and plants. Sucrose is the disaccharide formed by the joining of glucose and fructose, also known as table sugar. When comparing their relative sweetness, glucose is the least sweet tasting, sucrose is next, and fructose is the sweetest of the three sugars, measured as 1.4 times sweeter than table sugar. Because it is so sweet, people typically use less fructose when sweetening foods compared to sucrose.
? In the article by Mr. Nagel he states , "fructose is not what is found in fruit. Commonly, fructose is compared with its opposite and truly naturally occurring sweetener, known as ‘levulose' (made by nature)..."
Another fabrication. In fact, levulose is just another name for fructose. There are various nomenclatures used in the scientific naming of compounds. Fructose and levulose are exactly the same thing; the names are interchangeable. It is no different than if you called your father, "dad", and your sibling called your father, "father". He would still be the exact same person. Fructose and levulose are different names for the exact same thing: a sugar found in nature.
Mr. Bianchi also is quoted to say that the body does not recognize the fructose in agave. This is another false piece of propaganda which demonstrates just how far he is reaching. If this were true, it would have no impact on us. He immediately contradicts himself with the claims of detrimental effects caused by the overconsumption of fructose.
Sugars can be compared to each other in their ability to raise blood sugar levels by using the Glycemic Index. The scale is set from zero to 100, where low numbers do not have much impact on blood sugar levels, and high numbers raise blood sugar levels quickly. Fructose is very low on the scale. Because agave syrup is high in fructose, it has a rating of 32 or lower. Honey, which has a higher proportion of glucose to fructose, has a Glycemic Index of 58. Sucrose has a Glycemic Index of 68, and glucose, serving as the index standard, is 100.
All sugars, whether fructose, glucose, sucrose or others, contribute 4 calories per gram to our total diet. 1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams = 16 calories
In addition to calories, sugars sweeten our foods offering a desirable taste and adding enjoyment and pleasure to our dining. During cooking and baking, sugars allow for browning and the unique consistencies of syrups, candies, frostings and frozen desserts. The varieties of sugars, such as crystallized table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, molasses, honey and agave nectar, among others, contribute different properties and flavors to foods.
When you add your own sugar to foods you are in control of how much sugar you use. Most people would never add as much sugar as do the food manufacturers. Moderate amounts of sugar can certainly be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet for an active individual. Natural sugars are easily metabolized and utilized by the body, offering a very efficient source of fuel for physical and mental activity.
Of course, sugars should be used in moderation in the diet. This can control calories and help create a diet that is dense in nutrients.
Impact of sugar on health and disease
? The remainder of Mr. Nagel's article works to link agave syrup with the increased incidence of obesity, diabetes, metabolic disease, and the general rise of morbidity and mortality in the population. This is an overconsumption issue involving far more than the occasional use of agave. Here are the facts:
• Rats that are fed a high fructose diet become obese and will develop the chronic diseases associated with obesity: insulin resistance, diabetes and metabolic disease.
• No one should eat a diet that reflects this type of experimental diet.
• Too much sugar in the diet, whether from fructose, glucose or sucrose, can be unhealthy. Diets high in sugar promote tooth decay and periodontal disease; create an overabundance of calories and a deficit of nutrients. This scenario typically leads to weight gain and the development of chronic disease.
• Active individuals can include a moderate amount of added sugar in their diet without negative health consequences. When calorie intake is balanced with physical activity, sugar serves as an efficient source of fuel for muscles, the brain and the central nervous system.
• According to the World Health Organization (2003), individuals can healthfully include 10% of their daily calories from added sugars. This translates into 200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet, or 12½ teaspoons of added sugar daily. Clearly, one can safely add a couple of teaspoons of sweetener to a cup of tea or coffee, or have a little sweetened food without worrying about their risk of developing disease.
• Agave syrup, which is sweeter than other sugars and low on the Glycemic Index scale, is a good choice to include as one of the added sugars in your diet because you will use less sugar (and therefore fewer calories) and minimally raise blood sugar levels.
Just a teaspoon of agave: the healthy use of sweeteners in your diet
We all want to live healthier and longer lives. Diet and nutrition plays a key role, impacting our health and our ability to perform physically and mentally now and into the future. Food offers us not only sustenance, but also pleasure and enjoyment. Food is present in so many parts of our lives: at celebrations, business events, family events, religious and spiritual occasions, sports outings, the focus of our family meals, intimate dinners, and sometimes just the excuse to socialize.
Sweet foods make us feel good. Sugar allows for the elevation of serotonin in our brains, the "feel good" neurotransmitter that elevates mood, helps us focus, and in the evening, helps us relax and sleep.
Sugar is a source of energy for our muscles, brain and central nervous system. Without sugar our bodies will not function at peak capacity.
Too much sugar, however, is not good. In small amounts sugar energizes us, but in large doses, repeated throughout the day, day in and day out, sugar puts stress on the body. The extra calories can lead to weight gain and obesity, which in time can lead to chronic disease. In the short term, high sugar intakes can lead to a nutritionally deficient diet and a sense of being on an emotional roller coaster.
So be selective about your use of sugars and use them in moderation in your diet. Just like all foods, a variety will enhance the nutritional content of your diet and the flavor and tastes that you can enjoy. Since sugars come in different forms and have different flavors, they can be used most effectively in specific foods and beverages. For instance, agave syrup is liquid and less viscous than honey, making it easy to mix into cold liquids like iced tea and coffee, and is great to add to cold unsweetened cereals for a little sweet taste. Agave's mild flavor allows chefs and bakers to sweeten foods lightly, without overpowering the taste of the dish.
Pay attention to how much sugar is added to your diet every day. Read labels so that you know when sugar is added to manufactured foods. Keep the consumption of added sugars in your diet to no more than 10% of your total daily calorie intake so that you have plenty of room for nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein-rich foods, nuts, seeds and healthy oils.
Remember that nutrition is a science based on facts. We are making great advances in our understanding of the science of foods and nutrition. Beware of people with hidden agendas using fear tactics to influence your choices. Don't take their opinion at face value. What are their credentials? What conflicts of interest do they have? If they do not disclose conflicts, then assume that they are manipulating the truth.
Most of all enjoy food. Think about what you need to eat to promote whole health. Don't overindulge, but don't deprive yourself of the bounty of wonderful tastes, either. Use celebrations as occasions to enjoy your favorite foods and try new ones. A teaspoon or two of sugar easily fits into the diet of an active, healthy person. Agave syrup offers an organic low-glycemic choice for those looking for that option.
Resources for this article:
Charley H. Food Science, 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, 1982.
Figlewicz DP et al. Effect of moderate intake of sweeteners on metabolic health in the rat. Physiology and Behavior 98:618-624, 2009
Johnson RK et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, 2009
Tyler VE. The Honest Herbal, Third Edition. Pharmaceutical Products Press, New York, NY, 1993.
Myth: Industry insiders are currently using less, toxic agave plants due to shortage of Bl
April 08, 2010 04:12 PM
This is a total fabrication. Madhava staff have personally travelled to Mexico this year and witnessed the SURPLUS of agave plants. This has been well documented in newspapers in Mexico and the U.S.A. The surplus is so great that some of the fields in which 8 years were invested, have been let go to seed and will not be harvested. Toxic plants are certainly not being used or substituted for agave syrup. It is a wild and crazy suggestion, a cheap shot again designed to propagandize against agave.
Myth: Agave Nectar is adulterated or mixed with HFCS.
April 08, 2010 04:08 PM
There are two methods of making the Agave Nectar from the juice of the plant. One uses a non-GMO enzyme and the second is via thermal hydrolysis. Both process achieve the same goal which is to separate the naturally occurring Fructans which are complex sugar molecules into their simple sugar components fructose and glucose.
Unlike the process of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), which creates fructose out of the glucose from the starch found in milled Corn, Agave Nectar simply separates Fructans or Inulin, a complex naturally occurring sugar into Fructose and Glucose.
Our producers do not use any sort of chemicals in the process and no foreign material is being added such as HFCS. Filtration and evaporation of excess moisture are the rest of the process. The evaporation is done in a vacuum evaporator.
No research has pointed that Blue Agave contains Anodin and Dinordin, the steroid derivatives with contraceptive effects that could lead to a miscarriage. This is clearly a cruel scare tactic. The truth is that there are many types of saponins and they are in a lot of foods we eat. Most beans and legumes, soya beans, onions, paprika, alfalfa - these all contain various saponins. Saponins are phytosterol compounds that occur naturally in some plants. Saponins have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, along with anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties.
From the prehispanic times, the only sweet treat available to Indians in Mexico was the cooked leaves of the agave plant. They are still in markets all over Mexico. If there would be any kind of dangerous substance, this would be the absolute extreme case of exposure to it; not a single case of any problem has ever been reported, this goes back over 700 years.
Agave Nectar in its present form has been sold for over 12 years all over the world, including western Europe, Japan and the U.S.. The product has a proven record of safety and is deemed safe by the FDA and all regulatory bodies all over the world and there has never been a report of agave nectar linked to a miscarriage.
Madhava's Agave Nectar does not contain corn syrup, corn products, or any adulteration of any sort. Guaranteed. Our Agave Nectar is 100% pure from the agave plant with no additives whatsoever.
We package our agave nectar at our facility in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. Madhava's Quality Control representatives routinely visit and inspect all our suppliers’ facilities in Mexico. The suppliers are Organically Certified and 3rd party audited or currently in the process. In addition our facility in Colorado is USDA Organic Certified and we are routinely audited.
Avage Nectar Facts
April 08, 2010 04:02 PM
First of all let me preface by saying thank you very much for contacting Madhava Honey with your concern. Madhava has been in business for over 36 years and one of our four fundamental core values is and always will be to provide the Highest Quality product that exceeds the industry standard. Our other three core values are providing a product with the highest respect to the environment and health of the consumer, supporting community development via living wages and sustainable development of local economies, and finally providing a fair guaranteed price for our suppliers. Thirty six years ago Madhava was founded on "sustainable" practices and we take negative misleading attacks on our products very seriously. Madhava will try to respond to all the issues in question along with providing a little bit of background information on the source of the attacks. Finally at Madhava we believe in full transparency and please do not hesitate to contact us directly if you feel any questions or concerns have not been addressed. Thank you very much.
A. What constitutes Madhava's Agave Nectar?
There are 3 main components of our Agave Nectar. It is naturally composed primarily of the simple sugars fructose, glucose (dextrose), and water. Madhava’s Agave is Certified Organic and is Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Free.
B. How is Madhava's Agave Nectar produced?
The Agave plant is truly a remarkable plant! It grows in the harshest environments with little water and no upkeep is needed. It is naturally found in Western Mexico making it a non-evasive plant to the area regarding its growth and harvest. It requires no pesticides or fertilizers and is actually a cornerstone to its ecosystem. The Agave plant is truly a sustainably grown/harvested crop.
The Agave plant is grown for 6-8 years, then before turning to seed, it is then harvested by hand. Jimadores or Agave harvesters go to the selected fields and remove the "Pina" or heart of the Agave plant, by cutting off the long spiny "leaves" and unearthing it from the soil. It is all done by hand thus reducing the carbon footprint during harvesting. The Pinas are then loaded to a truck which takes them back to the harvesting facility.
There are two methods of making the Agave Nectar from the juice of the plant. One uses a natural non-GMO enzyme and the second uses thermal hydrolysis. Both processes achieve the same goal; which is to separate the naturally occurring Fructans, which are complex sugar molecules into their simple sugar components fructose and glucose.
The actual process of hydrolysis of agave, either thermal or enzymatic, is unlike the process of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), which creates fructose out of the glucose made from the milled starch of corn. Agave Nectar simply separates Fructans or Inulin, a complex naturally occurring sugar, into Fructose and Glucose.
C. Moderation vs. Overconsumption
It is certainly true that overconsumption of any one or a combination of sugars can have detrimental effects, but this is not in a vacuum, it involves lifestyles, other food choices and other conditions. Overconsumption of any food or beverage will have ramifications. Sweeteners are ingredients which are added to foods in relatively small quantity to make them more palatable. In others, sugars can make up a large portion of the caloric value. These foods are easy to identify and avoid as necessary. People do not consume sweeteners as a solitary food in mass quantity. They are just part of the choices people make and consumption can be controlled, each of us chooses what we eat and how much. There are no health issues with moderate consumption of sweeteners; every negative circulating is relative to the overall consumption of one's diet.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
September 15, 2009 11:15 AM
The word pumpkin comes from the Greek word pepon, which means large melon. This word was adapted by the French to pompon. Then, the British changed to pumpion and the American colonists later changed that to the word that we use today. The origin of pumpkins is not definitely known. However, they are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence of pumpkins dated back to between 7000 and 5500 B.C. in Mexico. The pumpkin is a squash-like fruit that ranges in sizes of less than one pound to over 1,000 pounds.
Because some squash have the same botanical classifications as pumpkins the names are often used interchangeably. Pumpkins generally have stems that are more rigid, pricklier, and squarer than squash stems. Squash stems on the other hand are more often softer, more rounded, and more flared when joined to the fruit. Generally, pumpkins weigh somewhere between nine to eighteen pounds, although the largest species is capable of reaching a weight of over seventy-five pounds. The shape of the pumpkin varies greatly, ranging from oblate through oblong. Even though pumpkins are generally orange or yellow, some are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red, and gray. Pumpkins have bright and colorful flowers that have an extremely short life span. Some may only open for as short a time as one day. The color of pumpkins comes from the orange pigments that are abundant in them.
The pumpkin is associated with autumn holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving in the United States. Generally, the seeds are thrown away as waste. However, pumpkin seeds and their oil possess great beneficial properties. There are especially for ridding the body of intestinal parasites.
Research has determined that various squash, including pumpkin, have great parasite-fighting capabilities. Although scientists are not exactly sure which compound in pumpkin seeds is responsible for expelling the worms, the seeds are known for their ability to do so quickly and safely. They are even safe for children. Pumpkin seeds work best when a laxative is taken an hour after they are used.
Pumpkin seeds are used to strengthen the prostate gland. They are also great for promoting male hormone function. They have long been used to treat an enlarged prostate. Myosin, which is found in pumpkin seeds, is known for its ability to be essential for muscular contractions.
One can apply the oil of the pumpkin seed to wounds, burns, and chapped skin. This helps to soothe and help heal injured skin. The seeds and oil of the pumpkin plant are used to provide anthelmintic, demulcent, diuretic, nutritive, parasiticide, and mild purgative properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are amino acids, beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc, essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and carotenoids. Primarily, pumpkin is extremely beneficial in treating intestinal problems, parasites, and tapeworm.
Additionally, this herb is very helpful in dealing with burns, gastric disorders, nausea, prostate problems, roundworms, chapped skin, uterine problems, and wounds. In order to obtain the best results when supplementing with this, or any herb, it is important to consult your health care provider before beginning any regimen while on prescription medications. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by pumpkin, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
August 31, 2009 01:36 PM
Horsetail has been used for healing in both Chinese and Asian cultures. During times of famine, the Romans ate horsetail shoots, while Native Americans used horsetail as a diuretic for kidney problems, cancer, and dropsy to increase blood circulation. The Hopi tribe in New Mexico mixed horsetail and cornmeal as a mush and in their bread. One of the oldest plants on the earth, horsetail is approximately two hundred million years old. It used to be a giant fernlike plant. However, there are now around twenty species of the original plant living today. These species are small in comparison to the original plant and are usually considered to be a nuisance. The species Equisetum arvense is a small perennial fern plant that is most common in North America.
The horsetail plant is a descendent of huge tree-like plants that thrived 400 million years ago during the Paleozoic era. The plant is a non-flowering weed that can be found throughout parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. This plant returns each year with hollow stems and shoots that resemble asparagus. As the plant dries, silica crystals, which form in the stems and branches, give the plant the scratching effect that made it historically useful for polishing metal.
Horsetail is believed to aid the immune system and the nervous system because of its silica content. The nerves contain almost the same amount of silica as does the albumin in the blood. The pancreas is especially rich in silica. Silica is found combined with fluorine in the enamel of the teeth. Additionally, hair needs silica to grow, and it is needed as a protection for the skin and cell walls. This herb helps in treating urinary tract problems. It contains silicic acid, which is responsible for helping with circulation of the blood. This herb is also credited with helping coagulate the blood and decreasing blood flow. An externally-applied decoction has the ability to stop bleeding of wounds and help with healing. Horsetail can also be used as a mouthwash for mouth infections. Often found in calcium combinations, horsetail is helpful in building the skeletal system and improving bone structure. The silica that is found in horsetail also helps in healing bones, keeping the arteries clean, and facilitating the absorption of calcium in the body.
This herb is known for its antibiotic properties and its contribution to the overall healing process. Horsetail is also thought to help with bleeding, urinary and prostate disorders, bed-wetting, skin problems, and lung disease. Horsetail also possesses a weak diuretic effect, which is most notably due to the equisetonin and the flavone glycosides.
In short, the entire horsetail herb is used to provide alterative, antilithic, antineoplastic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, galactogogue, lithotriptic, nephritic, nutritive, and vulnerary properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are flavonoids, iodine, iron, manganese, PABA, pantothenic acid, silicon, sodium, and vitamin E. Primarily, this herb is extremely beneficial in treating arthritis, poor circulation, diabetes, glandular problems, weak hair, kidney stones, weak nails, nervousness, osteoporosis, parasites, rheumatism, and urinary problems.
Additionally, this herb is very helpful in dealing with edema, eyestrain, gas, gout, heart problems, hemorrhage, incontinence, liver disorders, membrane irritations, neuralgia, palsy, skin disorders, tumors, and water retention. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by horsetail, please feel free to contact a representative from your local health food store.
August 28, 2009 01:50 PM
Jojoba is a shrub that is native to the Sonoran and Majoave desserts of Arizona, California, and Mexico. It is the only species in the family SImmondsiaceae. Sometimes, it is also placed in the box family, Buxaceae. This herb is also known as goat nut, deer nut, pignut, wild hazel, quinine nut, coffeeberry, and gray box bush. The jojoba plant grows one to two meters tall and has a broad, dense crown. The leaves are opposite, oval in shape, and approximately two to four centimeters in length and 1.5 to 3 centimeters wide. The leaves are thick, waxy, and gray-green in color. The flowers are small and greenish-yellow in color. They have five to six sepals and no petals. Each plant is neither male or female. Hermaphrodites in this species are extremely rare. The fruit of the jojoba plant is an acorn-shaped ovoid that is one to two centimeters long. The mature seed is a hard oval, dark brown in color, and contains about fifty-four percent oil.
Jojoba foliage gives a year-round food opportunity for many animals. Among these include deer, jaelina, bighorn sheep, and livestock. The nuts are often eaten by squirrels, rabbits, other rodents, and larger birds. The only animal known to be able to digest the wax that is found inside the jojoba nut is the Bailey’s Pocket Mouse. The seed meal is toxic to many mammals when taken in large quantities. The indigestible wax often acts as a laxative in humans.
Native Americans in Arizona, California, and northern Mexico used jojoba for the hair and as a tonic for the body. The herb is a valuable crop for some Native American tribes in those areas. This herb can be found in shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, and sunscreens.
Jojoba oil, which is made from the seeds of the plant, has been used traditionally by Native Americans. They use this herb to promote hair growth and relieve skin problems. Jojoba helps to remove the sebum deposits that are responsible for causing dandruff and scalp disorders. This herb is responsible for making the scalp less acidic.
One study found the wax that is in the jojoba oil to treat acne and psoriasis. This herb has traditionally been used successfully for this purpose. In addition, it is used to heal minor skin irritations. A study on rabbits found that those who were fed jojoba oil had a reduction of forty percent in their blood cholesterol levels. The reason or component that is responsible for this activity still remains unknown.
The oil of the jojoba plant is used to provide emollient properties. The primary nutrients found in jojoba are chromium, copper, iodine, silicon, vitamins E and B complex, and zinc. It is important to consult your health care provider before consider using this or any other supplement while on prescription medications. Primarily, jojoba is very beneficial in treating dandruff, hair loss, psoriasis, and dry scalp.
Additionally, this herb is extremely helpful in dealing with abrasions, acne vulgaris, athlete’s foot, cuts, eczema, pimples, seborrhea, mouth sores, warts, and wrinkles. For more information on the many benefits provided by jojoba, please feel free to contact a representative from your local health food store with questions.
Nopal Prickly Pear And Your Health
August 18, 2009 12:41 PM
Nopal is also referred to as the prickly pear cactus. The broad, thick, succulent leaves of the cactus are used for medicinal purposes. The nopal prickly pear herb is the most commonly found in the southwestern United States.
The nopal prickly pear is a vegetable that is made from the young cladophyll, pad-like, segments of the prickly pear plant. These are carefully peeled to remove the spines. The nopal prickly pear is extremely common in its native Mexico. Although the pads of almost all Opuntia species are edible, farmed nopales are most often of the species Opuntia ficus-indica. Generally, a nopal is sold fresh, bottled, or canned. Less often, it is sold dried. It is used to prepare nopalitos. The nopal has a light, slightly tart flavor, and a crisp, mucilaginous texture. This herb is commonly used in Mexican cuisine dishes include huevos con nopales, which is eggs with nopal; carne con nopales, also known as meat with nopal; or tacos de nopales. Nopales are also an important ingredient in New Mexican cuisine. Currently, the nopal is gaining popularity elsewhere in the United States.
De-thorned nopal stems are used as food in Mexico and among Native Americans. Early settlers used the stems in wound dressing after they had been peeled. The gel that comes from the cactus pads was used to soften the skin. This lessened tension against the wound and alleviated pain. Nopal juice is valued as an anti-inflammatory diuretic. Practitioners of folk medicine recommend this herb fore use against painful urination. The mashed pulp of the cactus was traditionally eaten by the West Coast Indians in order to ease childbirth. Additionally, the pulp was used as a lung remedy and as a cardiac aid.
The nopal prickly pear herb contains a variety of phytochemicals. Among these components are pectin, mucilage, and gums that assist the digestive system. This herb also contains nutrients which inhibit bowel absorption of dietary fat and excess sugars. Nopal is responsible for fortifying the liver and pancreas. This enhances insulin’s ability to move glucose from the blood into the cells, where it is able to produce energy. Research has determined that nopal prickly pear has hypoglycemic benefits as well. This could be extremely helpful for those people suffereing from diabetes. Other studies have determined that nopal lowers serum levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Additionally, it may inhibit cancer growth and prevent cancer development. Laboratory animals that were treated with cactus juice showed an increase immune response regarding tumor growth, Epstein-Barr virus, and suppressed immune function.
The leaves of the nopal plant are used to provide antiasthmatic, astringent, laxative, pectoral, and vemrifuge properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are mucilage, pectin, and phytochemicals. Primarily, nopal is extremely beneficial in dealing with cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, and immune function. This herb also acts as a great digestive aid.
In order to obtain the best results when supplementing with this, or any herb, it is important to consult your health care provider before beginning any regimen while on medications. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by nopal prickly pear, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
July 31, 2009 12:03 PM
Sarsaparilla can be found natively growing in the Pacific regions of Mexico, along the coast to Peru. The root is commonly used to make root beer. The sarsaparilla plant is mostly a find. It can primarily be found in Mexico, Central America and South America. The root of the plant is the most valued portion. It has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, much like ginseng or licorice root. Sarsaparilla root is very bitter. Because of this, it was a common practice for pharmacists to distill the useful chemicals from this herb and mix them with sugar water. From this, a very popular beverage called sarsaparilla was born. This was years before other chemists would invent other medicinal drinks like the original Pepsi and 7-Up.
The sarsaparilla plant was most definitely used as a medicinal tonic, but it was often served as a sweetened beverage. Some formulas substituted sarsaparilla root with a combination of birch oil and sassafras, which is a treat that is found in the western United States. Some believe that the informal name of the drink, sasparilla, indicates the use of sassafras extract, while others say the name is a corruption of the original sarsaparilla. Unfortunately, the modern beverage is closer to a birch oil/sassafras mixture than the more bitter sarsaparilla extract. The roots of the sarsaparilla plant can be purchased in certain grocery or health food stores. The beverage called sarsaparilla is a little more difficult to find. Smaller bottling companies may produce a version for local consumption, but that national interest in root beer, sarsaparilla’s cousin, has made it much harder to come by.
Often, sarsaparilla is used in glandular balance formulas. This is because components in sarsaparilla help with the production of testosterone and progesterone. The herb also stimulates the metabolism, aids digestion, and improves the appetite. It has been used to help with gas and edema, along with other related conditions. Additionally, studies have shown that this herb contains diuretic activity and also increased the elimination of chlorides and uric acid. Sarsaparilla is beneficial for many skin ailments. Among these are psoriasis, eczema, and leprosy. This has been found to be true in various studies. The herb also works as an anti-inflammatory by increasing circulation to rheumatic joints. It also helps to relieve arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. This herb also stimulates breathing when congestion occurs. It even helps to purify the blood.
The root of the sarsaparilla plant are used to provide alterative, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aromatic, blood purifier, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, and stimulant properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are copper, iodine, iron, manganese, silicon, sodium, vitamins A, B-complex, and C, and zinc. Primarily, sarsaparilla is extremely beneficial in treating joint aches and pains, arthritis, blood impurities, eczema, gas, glandular problems, hormone imbalance, inflammation, psoriasis, skin diseases, and syphilis.
Additionally, the herb is very helpful in dealing with age spots, appetite loss, cods, congestion, edema, sore eyes, fevers, gout, impotence, leprosy, menopausal symptoms, metabolism disorders, skin parasites, chronic rheumatism, ringworms, primary tuberculosis, and sores. In order to obtain the best results when supplementing with this, or any herb, it is important to consult your health care provider before beginning any regimen to prevent prescription drug interaction. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by sarsaparilla, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
Sarsaparilla root is available in capsule and tablet forms at your local or internet health food store. It is recommended that you look for name brands like Solaray, Natures Way, and Natures Plus to ensure quality and purity of the product you purchase.
April 09, 2009 03:08 PM
Amaranth is an herb full of vitamins. It was traditionally used by Native Americans in both Central and North America as a survival food. This herb has been cultivated for thousands of years in many different cultures due to the fact that it grows well in most climates and uses a very small amount of water. Amaranth contains a huge amount of protein and a lot more calcium than milk provides. It also contains the amino acid l-lysine, which is not often found in plants. Amaranth seeds were used by the Aztecs in their pagan ceremonies. Additionally, mature seeds of the amaranth plant were eaten raw, mixed with cornmeal, or added to soups. The leaves, which taste similar to spinach, can also be eaten.
Often, amaranth is used for gastroenteritis or the stomach flu. It helps to lessen the irritability of the tissues. A strong decoction of amaranth can be used to remove worms and other parasites from the digestive tract. Applying amaranth topically can help to reduce tissue swelling. The herb can be used with bandages for medical treatment. Additionally, it can help stop excess bleeding which is often caused by sore gums, nosebleeds, and heavy menses. Amaranth is highly digestible and is recommended for infant formulas.
Amaranth is a traditional food plant in Africa with the potential to improve nutrition greatly. There are several species of amaranth grown in Asia and the Americas for grain. Ancient grains still used to this day include three species: Amaranthus caudatus, Maranthus cruentus, and Amaranthus hypochondriacus. Even though amaranth was grown on a small scale in parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, India, and Nepal, there is a huge potential for future cultivation in the U.S. and tropical countries. Because of this, this herb is often referred to as “the crop of the future.” Because of a weedy life history, amaranth grains grow very rapidly, with their seedheads weighing up to 1 kilogram and containing a half-million seeds. Amaranthus species have a 30% higher protein value than rice, wheat flour, oats, rye and other cereals.
Amaranth was revived in the 1970s because of it is very palatable, easy to cook, and a protein that is well suited to human nutritional needs. This herb was recovered in Mexico from wild varieties, now being commercially cultivated. A popular snack sold in Mexico City, this herb is often mixed with chocolate or puffed rice. Its use has recently spread to Europe and parts of North America. Amaranth is a pseudo grain because it has a very similar flavor and cooking ability to grains. Along with protein, amaranth provides a great source of dietary fiber and dietary minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.
The leaves, seeds, and flowers of the amaranth plant are responsible for all of the health benefitis provided. Amaranth’s properties include: alterative, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, and nutritive. Primarily, amaranth is used for diarrhea, dysentery, excessive menstruation, and nosebleeds. Amaranth can also be used for canker sores, bleeding gums, stomach and mouth ulcers, worms, and wounds. For more information on the benefits of this herb, please contact your local health food store.
December 10, 2008 10:48 AM
Hoodia Gordonii is a South African succulent plant of the family Apocynaceae. They are remarkable similar in appearance to cacti, although they are totally unrelated to them and grow predominantly in the region of Central Namibia in the south west of Africa, up to the southern regions of Angola. They are most commonly found in rocky ground and on the plains.
There are several species of hoodia, some of them grown domestically, and it is Hoodia gordonii that is used as an appetite suppressant in hoodia weight loss pills. Although the plant has historically found use in the treatment of infections and gastric problems, most interest is displayed in its use by the bushmen of the Kalahari Desert to suppress their appetite during long hunting trips when food and water are scarce.
The active ingredient was isolated in 1977, and given the name P57: the product is therefore often referred to as Hoodia P57. It was patented by its discoverers, the CSIR (South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) and a license granted to UK company Phytopram, who worked together with Pfizer to isolate the active ingredients and manufacture them synthetically. This was found to be very difficult, if not impossible, since any synthetic form of the extract failed to display any hunger-suppressant properties.
Finally, the rights to the main ingredient were released by Pfizer in 2002, thus indicating that it was of no commercial benefit to them. The main problem they admitted with synthesizing P57 was not only the difficulty in doing so, but also that there were side effects of the extract on the liver caused by other components that could not be removed. No synthetic form of hoodia is therefore available, and only the natural plant is used in current Hoodia 57 preparations.
The rights of the San Bushmen to the plant were recognized by the CSIR in 2002, and not only do they receive a proportion of the profits of marketing hoodia, but also the plant is protected with wild-harvesting licenses provided to only certain individuals and companies. Due to the rising popularity of the hoodia weight loss industry, the plant has been named as an endangered species in the wild.
It is believed that the active ingredients are steroidal saponins that can fool the body into believing it is full. This theory is based upon the effect on appetite of glucose concentrations in the blood. Your appetite is controlled by the amount of unconverted glucose in your blood, and glycogen in the liver. When you eat carbohydrates, they are digested and converted into glucose which is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Under normal conditions your blood glucose levels increase to a level where a signal from hypothalamus stops you feeling hungry. Insulin is then secreted from the pancreas to prepare your cells to use that glucose in the mitochondria to create energy by means of the Kreb's Cycle, or Citric Acid Cycle as it is also known. This reduces the concentration of glucose in the blood, and once it reaches a certain level the body begins to use its emergency energy supply, glycogen, that is stored in the liver.
A signal then informs the brain that more glucose is needed. You then feel hungry again, and this cycle is repeated several times a day in a normally healthy person. This cycle is controlled by certain hormones in the brain, specifically in the ventromedial center of the hypothalamus, where it is believed that the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) availability controls the release of the hormones involved.
ATP is the molecule of energy, and as the concentration of blood glucose and of glycogen drop, then the amount of ATP produced also drops and this is detected in the hypothalamus, which reacts by releasing ghrelin. Increased leptin increases the feeling of satiety and ghrelin increases the feeling of hunger. Serotonin acts on the brain to increase the effect of leptin in the hypothalamus, and therefore make us feel less hungry, or more satiated.
It is believed that hoodia gordonii, or the Hoodia P57 component of it, fools the brain into believing that your blood glucose or glycogen levels have reached the point at which it should trigger a satiated response, so that you stop eating even though your ATP levels might be low. The steroidal saponins that it contains is believed to be ten thousand times more effective than glucose in stimulated the secretion of serotonin.
Hoodia has also been found to contain a number of glycosides, including pregnane glycosides that some studies have indicated to help control appetite of the subjects tested. Most of these tests have been carried out on animals, although Hoodia weight loss preparations are offered in a form standardized on both steroidal saponins and pregnane glycosides.
Hoodia gordonii is becoming so popular as a weight loss product that its export is being monitored by the South African government. It has become so endangered that, since 2005, only hoodia grown on commercial farms is permitted an export license, and exporters must obtain a license from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Importers also require a permit from the US department of Agriculture, and a CITES certificate is also needed to re-export the finished product.
Because of this, more hoodia weight loss pills are being sold than there is hoodia gordonii to produce them. It is not uncommon for cacti such as the prickly pear cactus from Mexico, to be used, or for low concentrations of hoodia to be bulked up with fillers. Neither of these is of any use as an appetite suppressant, the former having no active ingredients whatsoever and the latter containing only traces.
If you are purchasing hoodia, therefore, be aware of this. Request sight of the CITES certificate and USDA permit, and also the analysis results by an authorized laboratory to confirm that the product is what it purports to be. Otherwise, there is some evidence that Hoodia gordonii can help you reduce weight, although to date there are only four recognized analytical laboratories registered to analyze the active content of hoodia weight loss products.
Finally, check for the analysis certificates. All Hoodia weight loss products should be analyzed by each of three methods: Microscopy, High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) - all there are needed. The four authorized laboratories are: the University of Mississippi, Chromadex labs in Irvine California, Alkemist Pharmaceuticals and Advanced Laboratories, Smithfield, NC.
No others will do, so if your Hoodia weight loss preparation has not been analyzed using the three methods by one of these laboratories, don't buy it, even if it can show the CITES and USDA documentation.
August 28, 2008 09:33 AM
Garcinia Cambogia is found naturally in India and parts of Asia, and also on the Pacific coast of South and Central America all the way from Peru up to Mexico, and likes a humid forested environment. Also known as Brindall berries, garcinia is believed to act as an appetite suppressant and allows you to lose weight by diminishing your desire for food.
The Malabar tamarind, as it is also known, is about the size of an orange resembling a small pumpkin, and an extract from the fruit and rind is used in several weight loss products. The health risks presented by synthetic diet pills render a natural product extremely attractive were it to be effective. So can Garcia curb your appetite? What is the scientific evidence for it, and what biochemical route would it take?
Although tests on animals have been very positive, human results have been inconsistent. In some double blind tests using a placebo, weight loss was up to three times that of the control, but in others there was no apparent difference between those taking garcinia, and those given a placebo. However, doubts have been raised of the validity of some of the negative tests, so what does science tell us?
The active ingredient in the cambogia extract is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which is a powerful inhibitor of ATP citrate lyase, an enzyme that catalyzes the reaction between citrate and Coenzyme A to Acetyl CoA and oxaloacetate. Since the acetyl CoA is necessary in the synthesis of fatty acids and lipogenesis (the conversion of glucose to fatty acids), then anything that inhibits the biosynthesis of acetyl CoA must help to reduce the amount of fat stored in your body.
By inhibiting this reaction, that occurs outside the mitochondria so is not a direct part of the Citric Acid Cycle, HCA should theoretically suppress the formation of fats from carbohydrates, reduce food intake and thereby induce weight loss. But that is not the only mechanism.
A study at Georgetown University in Washington found that after 8 weeks of taking the garcinia extract, there was a 5.4% reduction in body weight and body mass index, and a significant reduction in low density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides with an associated rise in high density lipoproteins (HDL). This is good news for those suffering from high cholesterol levels, since the LDL lipoproteins are those that carry cholesterol to the major blood vessels, and which when oxidized by free radicals deposit fatty plaques on the artery walls. These plaques constrict the arteries and the resultant atherosclerosis can lead to cardiac problems and strokes. HDL lipoproteins carry cholesterol back to the liver for destruction, and is known popularly as ‘good cholesterol’.
The studies also indicated modifications to certain indicators of the status of fat deposits in the body and of appetite modifiers in the brain. In this respect they found 38% decreases in serum leptin and increases in serotonin levels of 44%, and the excretion of fat metabolites in the urine increased from between 32% and 104%.
These are significant findings, and further research has indicated that HCA helps to suppress appetite. Serum leptin is an indicator of the level of fat stores in the body, and as the leptin levels in the blood reduces, the hypothalamus is given an instruction to increase the appetite so as to increase the fat levels again. However, it is believed that HCA possesses leptin-like properties, and this signal is either not generated or is modulated.
The increase in serotonin has the same effect. It is known that serotonin controls the appetite, although the exact mechanism has not yet been established. What is known is that serotonin activates certain neurons and melanocortin-4 receptors (MC4R) in the brain, that not only curb appetite but also block the effect of other neurons that would normally increase appetite by blocking the effect of MC4Rs.
This is how the banned anti-obesity and serotonin inciting drug Fen-Phen operated, and it appears that the hydroxycitric acid in garcinia cambogia extract acts in a similar, but safer, way. The problem with drugs such as Feb-Phen was that they created cardiac problems which could be dangerous to obese people whose hearts might have been weakened.
However, now that the biological pathway by which serotonin controls weight is believed to be known, if not fully understood, the way is becoming clearer as to how safer weight loss pills, acting through appetite suppression, might be developed. It also provides a valid scientific explanation for the effect of garcinia cambogia extract which might in itself prove to be that safer way.
The biochemistry supports the evidence of its effect on those wanting to lose weight, and also bolsters the claims that those tests and trials found to be negative were in some way flawed. Until the full chemical pathway is understood, the factors that can lead to flawed tests are unknown, although one could be the use of excessive fiber in some trials that could reduce the effect of the extract.
One of the effects of HCA is to limit the ability of your body to convert carbohydrates into fat (the Acetyl CoA inhibition mentioned above). That, combined with suppression of your appetite and a higher rate of thermogenesis, prevents the body from storing excess carbohydrates as fat. Instead you will have increased energy levels, so you should exercise to use this up while taking garcinia extract. For this reason it is popular with athletes and bodybuilders seeking an energy source that has not yet been banned from sport.
Although diet pills based on the same principle had side-effects and could make the user feel on edge, there are none known with garcinia. However, it is possible to reduce the absorption of some essential nutrients due to appetite suppression, so do not exceed the recommended dose. An excessive amount can also led to gastric discomfort, but none of these effects have been noted when the recommended doses have been adhered to.
However, if you are diabetic, pregnant or a nursing mother, you should consult with your physician or health professional before taking the extract. Garcinia Cambogia presents no specific risk to such people, and this warning should be given for all non-prescriptive treatments that your physician might be unaware of you taking.
August 13, 2008 12:44 PM
A lot of people are eating healthier nowadays, as empty processed diets are being restored to more wholesome foods, causing a more conscious society to be emerging. It is important now more than ever to understand how natural foods can help us to lose weight and create a better life. Spirulina is a small spiral-coiled organism that is one of the oldest living things on earth. Spirulina also called blue-green algae is a nutritional powerhouse and supplies numerous benefits. For centuries it has been nourishing people and is becoming an increasingly popular option among dieters and health seekers.
Spirulina thrives in hot climates where it grows in ponds and lakes, producing twenty times more protein than soybeans that grow on an equal-sized amount of land. It actually has the richest known protein content at 60 to 70 percent. This vegetable is easy to digest and allows dieters to meet their needs for this nutrient while fighting off the craving for meat, unwanted fat, and cholesterol. The concentrated protein found in spirulina can encourage natural body weight by eliminating the highs and lows in blood sugar that come along with a high-carbohydrate diet. This effect of stabilizing blood sugar helps people with hypoglycemia.
Spirulina was originally used for food by African villagers before the Aztecs recorded consuming spirulina in what is now Mexico over five centuries ago. In India, small amounts of spirulina were used to help improve the general well-being, by enabling vegetarian villagers to maintain a healthy weight without eating meat. Spirulina was rated a better food than most other protein sources by researchers at the Toronto’s McGill University when studying severely malnourished children. If you aren’t consuming the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, just one spirulina serving can give you ten times more beta carotene than carrots.
In a study at McGill University, spirulina was given to thirty men with mild hypertension and high cholesterol; results were shown to reduce cholesterol levels in all participants. The total cholesterol levels dropped significantly, but returned to baseline when the spirulina was stopped. Spirulina contains gamma-linolenic acid, which is the same nutrient that is found in mother’s milk. When it is taken in large quantities, GLA has been shown to contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease and hormone regulation.
Scientists at UC Davis School of Medicine found that spirulina increases the production of cytokines, which provide a major defense against viruses and cancer cells. Cytokines are good for the body because they stimulate the cells that target cells which target certain pathogens. The more of these cells that you have available, the more attack forces you have to fight the cells.
The chlorophyll which is found in spirulina makes it a natural cleanser, as well as a natural appetite suppressant; making it favorable for dieters. This is extremely useful for people who are trying to lose weight or are fasting. Because spirulina is so rich in vitamin B12, iron, and magnesium, it is great for men, women, children, and vegetarians who are prone to deficiencies in these nutrients.
In conclusion, today’s spirulina is grown using modern methods and available in tablets, capsules, and powders. Spirulina is a great addition to one’s diet whether they are trying to boost overall health or manage weight. Stop in to your local health food store and ask about spirulina and how it can help boost your health.
Capsicum - Cayenne Red Pepper
July 28, 2008 03:06 PM
Capsicum also known as cayenne pepper has been known to the natives of the tropical Americas for thousands of years. It was first introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus as Guinea Pepper and was originally used by Native Americans that were located south of the Mexican boarder as early as 700 B.C. The mixture of chocolate and red chilies was a taste treat that was reserved exclusively for Aztec royalty. Although the exact origin of the word Capsicum is somewhat a mystery, it is assumed to be derived from the Greek word kapto, which means to bite. Capsicum is a fruit found on a shrub-like tropical plant that is technically considered a berry. The designation of it as a pepper can be traced back to Columbus, who compared its hot taste sensation with that, a black pepper.
Gerard referred to Capsicum as extremely hot and dry in 1597 and prescribed it to those with skin and throat infections. The health practitioners of the 1800s used Capsicum to counteract rheumatism, arthritis, depression, and chills. Capsicum was used in the early 1800s as a potent and safe natural stimulant and was believed to be able to treat a large array of diseases. It was first used orally to treat tumors, toothaches, fevers, and respiratory conditions.
This cayenne red pepper was introduced to England by Dr. John Stevens in 1804 when it became the catalyst component in many herbal blends. Additionally, herbal and medical practitioners used Capsicum in order to fight infection and sustain the natural heat that the body produces. After, it became very well known in American dispensatories and pharmacopeia. In 1943, The Dispensary of the United States recorded Capsicum to be a powerful local stimulant that produces a sense of heat in the stomach and a general glow over the whole body when it is swallowed. It does all of this without having a narcotic effect.
Physicians in the twentieth-century recognized the medicinal value of Capsicum. This caused the herb to find its way to the American Illustrated Medical Dictionary, the Merck Manual and Materia Medica, where it is named a rubefacient, local stimulant, counter-irritant, gastric stimulant, and diaphoretic. Mexican Indians today use Capsicum as an intestinal disinfectant and protectant against contaminated food and, additionally, to treat fevers. In the world today, this cayenne pepper is no more appreciated and more widely used than in Mexico and a few other Latin American countries, which together are the original home of all the peppers. Practically every dish the Indians eat both in the morning and evening include Capsicum, just as it was 2,000 years ago. These peppers are a wonderful source of essential vitamins in a diet that is otherwise lacking of them.
Capsicum is a source of health and vitality in many countries which include the Bahamas and Costa Rica, in which it is used to treat colic and indigestion, in Africa for vascular disorders, and in North America as a tonic and natural stimulant. Currently undergoing a large variety of studies, Capsicum has emerged with an impressive list of actions. Scientists are currently taking notice and looking at Capsicum with a new respect and interest. Capsicum can be set apart from powerful pharmaceutical stimulants and pain killers because it possesses the potency without the delirious side effects.
Is Saw Palmetto's Safe?
July 15, 2008 06:58 PM
Saw palmetto, a small palm tree which is found in Florida and South Carolina, produces berries which contain many beneficial compounds. Florida is the biggest producer of saw palmetto. Small patches of this herb can be found from the southeast coastline of South Carolina and southeastern Georgia to southern Mississippi. But it does not grow naturally in Texas, Mexico, or the Caribbean. It grows in every Florida County, but much of its production is found in South Florida.
Supplements that contain saw palmetto are extremely effective in treatment of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH), one of the most common health conditions in older men, with half of all men aged 40-60 and more than 90 percent of men over 80 having BPH. BPH is caused by the conversion of estrogen to a very potent form of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Saw palmetto berry extract has been found to relive the symptoms of BPH by furthering the production of DHT. With the use of saw palmetto extract, it has been found that most men achieve some relief of symptoms within the first 30 days.
Additionally, saw palmetto is an herb that is commonly used to treat benign prostate enlargement, is rich in phytosterols, especially beta-sitosterol. Also, saw palmetto is very effective for excess testosterone, as it promotes testosterone excretion. Native Americans use the fruit for food, but it is also used in the treatment of a variety of urinary and reproductive system problems. Similarly, the Mayans drank it as a tonic, while the Seminoles used the berries both as an expectorant and as an antiseptic.
Recent concerns over the safety of saw palmetto supplements for prostate health have emerged and may be unfounded. A new study reported that there were no adverse effects from the supplementation of saw palmetto. The randomized clinical trial, Saw palmetto for Treatment of Enlarged Prostates (STEP) study, recruited two hundred and twenty-five men, all of which had moderate-to-severe symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Each of these men was assigned to receive either 320 milligrams per day of a saw palmetto supplement or a placebo.
This study lasted one year. After the study, researchers concluded that there were no significant differences between the groups when it came to suffering from at least one serious adverse event. 5.4 percent of men in the saw palmetto group had one serious adverse event as compared to 9.7 percent in the placebo group. There were also no significant differences that were observed when it came to non-serious symptomatic adverse events, as 34.8 percent of men in the saw palmetto group experienced such an event, compared to 30.1 percent in the placebo group.
The study was welcomed by Daniel Fabricant, PhD., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the industry association of the Natural Products Association. Dr. Fabricant said that he agreed with the authors of the study and that the results are reassuring, saying that he believe the study supports the viewpoint that those people with experience in botanicals have held for an extended amount of time in that when they are used responsibly and the amounts and concentrations are supported by clinical literature, botanicals are extremely safe and effective.
May 22, 2008 11:45 AM
Damiana can be used by both men and women. It is known to have restorative effects on reproductive organs in both sexes.
For men, Damiana is known to raise levels of testosterone. It is also helpful in treating premature ejaculation and impotence. For women, it helps to induce delayed menstrual periods and ease the symptoms of painful menstruation. It also treats the headaches women sometimes get due to menstruation.
This herb has been widely advertised and used in Mexico as an aphrodisiac. The ancient Mayans used it as a sexual stimulant and people in Central America still use it in this way today. This use is controversial due to lack of scientific evidence to support the claim.
One study found some of the plant's compounds to be similar to those found in progesterone. More than 150 herbs have been tested for their ability to bind with the progesterone and estrogen receptors found in breast cancer cells. Damiana was one of the highest progesterone-binding herbs tested.
The herbal properties of Damiana have a life enhancing and stimulating effect on the body and mind. The herb works well on nervous exhaustion and to restore the body after periods of high stress.
Damiana's stimulating action is considered very valuable to people who suffer from mild depression. Herbalists will typically recommend remedies that contain this herb. Damiana is very strong and aromatic, and has a slightly bitter taste. It can be found in different forms such as capsule, liquid extract and tea. Its leaves are used as a substitute for tea leaves in some countries. In other countries, it is used as flavoring in a variety of liqueurs.
Damiana acts as an antiseptic and tonic for the body. It is also a restorative agent for nervous system functions. Damiana is used for other conditions as well, although no scientific proof of its effectiveness exists. These conditions include:
* Asthma * Anxiety * Depression * Headache * Menstrual disorders
Damiana has been known to cause mild indigestion for some users. It also contains a compound called arbutin, which, in the urinary tract, converts into the chemical hydroquinone. Larger amounts can cause serious side effects such as:
* Convulsions * Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) * Nausea * Vomiting * Possible collapse and death
A maximum safe dosage of Damiana has not yet been determined. Also, the safety of using this herb has not been established in children or pregnant and nursing women. People with liver or kidney disease should use extra caution because their ability to safely use this herb is unknown as well.
In people using higher doses of Damiana, it is believed that they experience a mild euphoric sensation. In some cases, consumption of Damiana leaves has been known to act as a mild laxative. The more leaves consumed, the more prominent the laxative effect.
Damiana is native to parts of southern California and the Gulf of Mexico. It can also be found growing wild in some areas of the northern Caribbean Islands and Namibia. It is widely cultivated in these areas. Its preferred habitat has a hot and humid climate. It flowers in the summer and this is when the leaves are harvested. The leaves of the Damiana plant are the only part used for cultivation.
The herb can be taken in the form of a tea. Some people even smoke it like tobacco. The herb will bring about a relaxed state of mind for the user. It is said to induce a subtle high if smoked.
Damiana possesses many properties that are useful to both men and women. Research continues in an attempt to either prove or disprove claims of its benefits to humans.
May 12, 2008 11:10 AM
All female mammals, including humans, produce colostrum soon after giving birth, and before proper milk is produced. It is a milk-like substance that provides newly born infants with a boost to their immune system and gives immediate protection against the germs with which they are about to come into contact.
It also, incidentally, promotes the child’s first bowel movement to rid it of the large amount of dead blood cells created when it’s blood supply was drastically reduced after the severing of the umbilical supply.
It is now believed that colostrum will help not only newly born infants, but also grown adults. If your immune system is weak or you are suffering from a condition that could be helped by a boost to your immune system, colostrum might be what you need to help you fight off what is ailing you. This has become clear after the way that colostrum works has been established.
Transfer factors were discovered in 1949 by Dr. H. Sherwood Lawrence of the New York University School of Medicine. He found that when he injected an extract of the leukocytes of somebody that had previously been infected with tuberculosis, the natural immunity was transferred from the donor to the recipient. He called this extract the ‘transfer factor’, and a means of transferring immune response factors between people was born.
However, the sharing of transfer factors between people suffering from serious conditions such as the HIV virus or hepatitis is a high risk action, and fifty years later, in 1999, bovine colostrum was discussed at a transfer factor conference in Mexico. Bovine colostrum contains large quantities of transfer factors such as IgG type immunoglobulins and hydrogen peroxide. The latter is commonly produced by our body cells to fight off invading pathogens, and immunoglobulins are very effective in fighting some diseases that can be fatal to AIDs patients. Take Cryptosporidium parvum, for instance. This microorganism causes a form of diarrhea that AIDs patients have no defense against but that colostrum can be particularly effective against, and it is also effective against rotavirus that is the main cause of diarrhea in young children.
Before discussing this further, let’s go back a step and examine how bovine milk came to be included in the equation. At one time it was believed that a baby received its immunity from the mother while in the womb and that this was extended via the mother’s milk. However, it was discovered that the milk contained no antibodies as such, only the colostrum, and these antibodies had somehow been transferred to the baby.
This was explained by the concept of the transfer factor. It is not the antibodies that are being transferred from mother to child, but the transfer factor. This modulates the immune system of the recipient and teaches it how to create antibodies against the specific antigens that the donor’s antibodies protect against and to inform the recipient’s immune system when these antigens are present.
The next step was to test the theory that the transfer factor should be able to be passed between species, and the cow was the obvious initial choice since not only are cattle exposed to many of the same antigens as humans, but we already use cow’s milk as a food source – particularly for babies and children. It worked! It was found that when humans were fed cow’s colostrum the specific antibodies were later found in the blood of the person given the treatment.
The next step was to determine the form in which this substance could be used, and injections of various types were tried without success. It was established that the only means of administering colostrum was by drinking it, or supplying it in capsule form. It can be drunk fresh or freeze dried to kill of living organisms and then fats and sugars removed and the resultant dried product encapsulated. It is even possible to remove all large molecules, antibodies, proteins, etc, and still retain the transfer factor. It is absorbed by the gut, and the resultant message passed to the recipient.
It is important to understand that it is not the immunoglobulins from the cow that are passed on, because these are species specific, and are in fact the source of most cow’s milk allergies. There is no transfer of antibodies or any other specific parts of the immune system. What are passed on are the messengers, particularly the transfer factors that are not species specific. A cow’s transfer factors would work just as well in a cat as in humans, only cats don’t get the same diseases as cows and people.
The types of disease that colostrum can help to protect us from include viral and bacterial diseases, fungal diseases and parasites, and neurological and autoimmune diseases. If you have cancer, colostrum can help significantly since cancer and immune deficiency are related. Cancer cells are being formed all the time in your body, but your immune system generally disposes of them. However, if it fails to do this, then the cells can proliferate and lead to cancer as we know it. Colostrum can help your body to prevent cancer occurring, and if you have it, can help to reduce its spread.
Freelance journalist Sam Wainaina studied the effects of Ebola virus in Uganda after the 2002 outbreak, and concluded that had transfer factors been available during the outbreak to transfer immunity it might perhaps have been contained sooner than it was, and saved many, many lives. Although transfer factors have been known of for 60 years, there is still a lot to be done in their application and studies on colostrum could help to accelerate this. Transfer factors alert immune cells to danger, train the system to generate the right type of immunoglobulins and boost NK cell activity to defeat the invaders. They can also moderate an over-active immune system that can be as much a danger to the body as an invading pathogen.
Colostrum can also be used to burn fat and create muscle tissue, and is popular with bodybuilders but it is for its healing and immunity-boosting properties that it is most used. Biotechnology companies are now boosting the colostrum’s transfer factors by injecting cows with vaccines that create pathogens. Known as Ultra Colostrum this is an advance on the natural material.
Una de Gato (Cat’s Claw)
April 26, 2008 09:36 AM
Una de Gato, otherwise known as cat’s claw, is properly Unicaria tomentosa. It has been used as an herbal medicine for at least two thousand years by the people of Central and South America who gave it the name vilcacora.
It grows in jungle areas and rainforest in South America and Asia, and gets its name from the small claw-like thorns at the base of the leaves. One of the environmental benefits of the Una de Gato is that when it is harvested at three feet above the ground, it grows back to its full size of up to 100 feet within a few years when it can be harvested again to three feet. Cat’s claw has been given dietary supplement status by the FDA.
The Peruvian Asháninka tribe has used the plant as a contraceptive and for the treatment of rheumatic conditions, diabetes, acne, diarrhea, cancer, urinary tract diseases and as an anti-inflammatory, and many of the studies of cat’s claw have centered on this tribe. The studies quickly showed the active ingredients to be alkaloids, both tertracyclic oxindole alkaloids and pentacyclic alkaloids that have been found both in the bark and in the root.
The extract is obtained by boiling both the inner part of the bark and the root, each of which differs in concentration of the various alkaloids. The root is believed to better for its anti-inflammatory powers due to the quinovic acid glycoside it contains, although the relative concentrations of the various alkaloids can vary according to the time of year and to the chemotype of the plant.
Cat’s Claw comes in two chemotypes, each of which differs in the relative concentrations of the two different alkaloid types. One predominates in the pentacyclic alkaloids that strengthen the immune system, and the other chemotype in the tetracyclic alkaloids that counter that effect and reduce the speed and strength of the contractions of the heart. It is not possible to tell which chemotype a particular plant is until it has been chemically tested. They look exactly the same and it is possible for both to grow sided by side. However, the root is generally richer in alkaloids, and sells at about twice the price of the bark. Alkaloids are not the only active ingredients in Una de Gato, and it also contains tannins and phytochemicals that have an antioxidant effect and are useful free radical scavengers. They have been studied for their effects in the treatment of HIV and cancer, though mainly due to the glycoside content that will be discussed shortly. The National cancer Institute has confirmed some anti-cancer properties of quinovic glycosides derived from cat’s claw.
The four pentacyclic alkaloids have been found to have a boosting effect on the human immune system, which it does by enhancing the ability of the white blood cells and macrophages to digest and kill off foreign organisms and debris in tissue and the bloodstream. The inference is that the herb is able to be used to treat a wide variety of infectious diseases, including many immune and autoimmune conditions including AIDS. The results with AIDs are inconclusive, although one particular study showed that cat’s claw produced accelerated healing of cold sores and genital herpes (herpes simplex virus) and shingles (caused by herpes zoster virus). Although the evidence is slight, there are indications of its possible use in treating viral conditions.
It is used in homeopathy for the treatment of a number of digestive ailments, such as Crohn’s disease, leaky bowel syndrome, colitis, gastritis and gastric ulcers among others. It is also used in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism and some conditions of the prostate gland.
The tertracyclic indole alkaloids that appear to counter the immune-boosting properties of their pentacyclic cousins include rhynchophylline, hirsutine, and mitraphylline. Rhynchophylline prevents blood clots in the veins and arteries by reducing the formation of platelets, and can dilate the peripheral blood vessels of the hands and feet. It can also lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the heart rate. Due to this effect on blood vessels, it is though to be able to improve the circulation in the brain and be a useful treatment for Alzheimer’s sufferers. Hirsutine inhibits contractions of the smooth muscle of the bladder, and so finds uses in the treatment of urinary incontinence.
The pentacyclic alkaloids pteropodine and isopteropodine are believed to have important properties beyond their phagocytosis effect on the immune system. It has been reported that they have an effect on the 5-HT(2) receptors in the brain. These neurotransmitters are used as targets for many drugs used to treat a variety of conditions such as depression, eating disorders and anxiety, and such alkaloids have a positive modulating effect on them.
The anti-inflammatory properties of cat’s claw are largely due to the very potent quinovic acid glycosides previously referred to. These have been known about only recently, and they are thought to work synergistically to reduce the tissue swelling (edema) associated with the immune system’s inflammatory reaction. Although this is believed to be largely due to the glycosides, three of the alkaloids also possess anti-inflammatory properties. This property provides the scientific background for the traditional use of Una de Gato for rheumatism and arthritis, both inflammatory conditions. Many of the digestive conditions for which the plant has traditionally used are also inflammatory in nature.
A threat to cat’s claw is the destruction of the Peruvian rainforest, although not as much as a threat as the destruction of the plant itself. Cat’s claw has reached levels of popularity so high that it is in danger of extinction due to improper harvesting. New laws being enacted by the Peruvian government should help to protect the plant, and to promote its harvesting over cocoa.
When buying cat’s claw, make sure that it is the Uncaria tomentosa form you are purchasing since there is another type, Uncaria Guianensis that contains different alkaloids and is not as potent as the real Una de Gato. Also beware of a shrub known as cat’s claw acacia, grown in Mexico and the southwest USA, since it contains cyanide derivatives and could be very dangerous if taken by mouth.
Exotic Herbs From The Amazon Basin
June 22, 2007 05:07 PM
Although many traditional herbal medicines have yet to find complete scientific corroboration in the West, it follows logically that people wouldn't use an herbal product for centuries if it didn't work.
Many of the popular herbs we all recognize as having great health benefits were only recently considered pretty exotic. Even green tea - a staple in China for centuries -has only lately gone main stream.
So it will likely be with herbs from the Amazon basin and its environs. The Amazon basin is one of the most bountiful environments on the planet. Explorers and botanists from the West have looked to this region for generations for the "next big thing." Of course, in many cases, the "next big thing" has already been in use for centuries.
In this issue of Ask the Medicine Hunter, we're going to look at some energizing and life- stimulating herbs that also happen to have great antioxidant properties, too. Best yet, many of them are available to us here from companies that practice fair trade policies.
Let's take a look at some of the herbal powerhouses coming out of the Amazon (and its nearby neighborhoods):
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) has been cultivated for a long time at least 2000 years. Related to brassica family plants like radishes, mustard and cabbage, its foliage does actually look somewhat radish-like, but grows close to the ground.
Maca is cultivated by the Andean people in Peru's central highlands, and contains a plethora of beneficial compounds that enhance overall health and vitality. The tradition of cultivating maca is an old one some strains have been found in Incan sites that date from 1600 B.C. During early European colonization, maca was used by the local native culture as a form of currency, much of the way cocoa was used by the Aztecs, further north in pre-Columbian Mexico.
Maca thrives in high altitudes - between 10,000 and 16,000 feet. The harsher the conditions, the better it grows, or so it seems. In fact, efforts to grow the plant in Central Europe haven't been as successful - maca seems to enjoy its home turf the best. In Peru, maca is a popular and beloved nutrient-packed superfood, and is commonly powdered and mixed into drinks at roadside stands throughout the Andes.
Q. I've heard of maca being used for healthy libido - are there any other benefits?
A. Maca is a natural energizer, and although it is recognized for it's libido enhancing abilities, it has other uses, too, acting as an adaptogen - similar to rhodiola or ginseng. In fact, in South America, maca is known as "Peruvian Ginseng." Though maca is not ginseng at all, some of the benefits of both plants are similar.
In any event, maca is recommended for boosting the immune system, menopause support, and hormonal balance in general. For daily use, maca is most recognized as a great source of energy and all-day endurance. Alkaloids from maca root may be partially responsible for both maca's energizing and libido boost. Research shows that maca affects the hypothalamic-pituitary (HPA) axis - boosting energy and overall aphrodisiac prowess in men and women. Maca contains novel compounds called macamides and macaenes, which have been proven in animal studies to significantly enhance energy, stamina and sexual function reasons people have been so consuming maca for 2000 years.
There are other serious reasons why maca is such an excellent plant. One group of compounds in maca is the isothiocyanates-aromatics constituents that are responsible for the "hotness" of mustards and radishes - fellow members of the brassica family. Isothiocyanates from other members of the brassica family may reduce the risk of breast and stomach cancer. Although the same constituents specifically from maca haven't beentested, it's plausible that they could have the same effects.
Q. I've heard a little about guarana extracts - is it just caffeine?
A. Guarana is widely loved for its mild stimulating effect, which is due to caffeine. But this is by no means this Amazonian herb's sole beneficial compound. Guarana (Paullinia cupana) is so logically ingrained in the culture of Brazil that it's practically a rival (actually out-sells) Coca-Cola in its soft-drink form. Like many other indigenous herbs, guarana was in use locally well before European settlement. Its Latin name comes fromthe German botanist C.F. Paullini, who first encountered the herb in the 1700s. This evergreen vine typically climbs fairly far up the Brazilian forest trees. The seed is the part that gets used. In one clinical study, guarana boosted the memory alertness of participants, even when the caffeine level per dose was a low 9 mg., as compared with approximately 100 mg for a cup of coffee. This effect suggests that other agents than caffeine contribute to a feeling of well being.
Guarana also contains powerful antioxidants including catechin, epicatechin and proanthocyanidins, which protect cells against destruction from free radicals, and impart benefits to the body's tissues and blood. The small seed of this plant is powerful in its health benefits.
Catuaba (Erythroxylum catuaba) is a common tree found in South America from Brazil to Peru, in the same genus as the coca plant. Catuaba contains components known as alkaloids. These alkaloids (called catuabine A, B, and C) are probably responsible for themental boost most people get when they take catuabe-based supplements or mixes.
There may be little confusion regarding catuaba, because various species and genus typesuse the common name. As a result, "catuaba" gets bandied around a lot, and one person'scatuaba may not be the next. Read labels carefully. The catuaba I've had the best luck with is Erythroxylum catuaba.
One of my favorite drinks in the world is coffee, and I'm sure at many people reading thisconsider it the essential part of their morning, too.
The part of coffee that we use the most is the seed of the coffee fruit - which appears as a bright, red berry. Most of the time, this fruit is sloughed off and left behind in the process of making coffee - it's really too delicate to last long in hot conditions.
But advances in technology have tapped a previously discarded resource. Though the fruit of coffee is available in any coffee-growing economy, a high antioxidant commercial extract of "coffee cherry" is now available from the fruits of coffee plants in Mexico.
Coffee fruit has many of the attributes of other dark-colored, anthcyanin-rich fruits. Coffee fruit (also referred to as "coffee cherry") appears not to be just another antioxidant, however. Current research on this once-forgotten, former castoff shows impressive abilities to decrease tumor size, and possibly even prevent their formation in the first place. It seems that the elements in coffee berry activate T-lymphocytes in such a way that mammary tumors are shrunk or simply put on hold. It will be fascinating to see how this science plays out.
Muira Puama Bark:
Muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides) grows between 15 to 45 feet high. Native to theAmazon basin of Brazil, the dried bark has been used for centuries as a traditional energysupport. Components include beta-sitosterol, campesterol and lupeol.
Muira puama, like other central nervous stimulants has been researched lately for its ability to boost memory retrieval and protect neural (brain) tissue. Who knows? Maybe this traditional ingredient could someday be on the cutting edge of natural medicines fighting Alzheimer's, much the way green tea and turmeric are currently. In one unpublished French study of 262 men with low libido and poor erectile function, 62% experienced significant improvement after taking an extract of Muira puama for two weeks.
Acai (Euterpe acai) berry is a traditional favorite (and readily available) food source for people in the Amazon. The tree is a tall-growing palm with berries that provide - a rich source of anthocyanins, potent purple pigments with extraordinary high antioxidant activity.
Once harvested, acai fruits decay rapidly. As with coffee fruits, special processing is the surest way to make certain the nutrients of acai berry make it to those of us outside the Amazon basin.
However, these wonderful fruits not only fight against free radical damage, but help our natural digestive enzymes and boost natural immune defenses, too. In fact, current research is investigating whether compounds in acai may have a fighting effect on leukemia, too. So far, the results have been very positive.
Look for supplements made using organically-grown, fair trade acai berry. The best companies ensure that the local people harvesting acai and the communities where they live gather more than just short-term benefits. The best companies work not just to provide jobs, but better lives for generations to come.
Q. What is sustainability and fair trade, anyway?
A. Sustainability refers to a set of naturally occurring circumstances, or intentionally designed practices and principles, which ensure that all parts or members of a situation are adequately nourished to promote their healthy continuance. In current parlance, sustainability often refers to practices and programs designed and implemented to keep natural systems healthy and flourishing. Many such programs focus on environmental protection and preservation of traditional cultures. In the world of medicinal plants, sustainable practices include organic agriculture, species management, fair trade, and benefit-sharing programs.
In other words, sustainability pays people fair wages, puts resources back into their communities, and ensures that the resources that benefit us all are going to be around for a long time. It is an earth-friendly, people-friendly concept of commerce that happily, is taking root around the world.
The traditional cultures that use - and have used - these ingredients for generations wouldn't have done so if they hadn't been effective. Fortunately we live in an era when formerly locally-used herbs are now available far beyond their previous range. We are also fortunate to have companies and individuals working hard to make sure that the people who tend and care for these precious resources are paid fairly for their efforts, andthat their families and communities benefit from this commerce as well.
The great thing about using traditional herbs and ingredients that have been gathered in this manner is that you know they'll be around for a long time.
Aloe Vera’s Healing Properties Recognized 1500 years before Christ
April 21, 2007 01:53 PM
Fifteen centuries before the birth of Christ, Egyptian writings acclaimed the miracle plant we know as Aloe Vera, even then referred to as an ancient cure. Cleopatra, Alexander the Great and Aristotle were fans of this strange succulent prized for its soothing, healing and analgesic ability. Indians in central and South America used it to treat burns, kidney and bladder infections, dysentery, stomach and intestinal disorders.
The pulp of the plant has been used to reduce swelling and pain from injuries, while in Mexico its used to treat arthritis and gout. For many years people have kept aloe plants around for emergency burns.
We took a good look at this fascinating botanical wonder. Of the 200 plus varieties, we quickly found that only five or six fit the enzymatic structure for the cosmetic and so-called “medicinal properties” mentioned.
Then while we were studying these succulents in their natural desert setting, we observed the roadrunner bird drinking the juice of the aloe vera, passing up many aloe plants to get to a particular variety, Aloe Barbadensis Miller. We then studied acre after acre and found the roadrunner “peck marks” only on one particular species. The other aloe plants were untouched. In studying this species of plant more carefully, our Houston lab found that, indeed it had much different gel than other aloes.
The products now labeled as Georges “Always Active” Aloe are exclusively from Aloe Barbadensis Miller, the Roadrunners’ choice. George Warren, an Independent research chemist in Houston, Texus developed the special processing method that prevents the spoilage without diminishing the essential properties of the Aloe Vera plant. This new method completely eliminates the anthraquinones that are mildly toxic and can cause irritation to the digestive tract. Aloins are also removed, which give a bitter taste (and the Greenish color) to Aloe Vera juices along with the starches and sugars from the polysaccharide molecular chain and thus, George “Always Active” Aloe requires no refrigeration, and will not spoil in its natural state. This method adds no water, no preservatives and no chemicals of any kind. The finished product looks and tastes like spring water.
Using pecans in the fight against LDL cholesterol
October 18, 2005 10:45 AM
Using pecans in the fight against LDL cholesterol
New research out of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that although pecans are high in fat, they may actually lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Dr. Wanda Morgan and fellow researchers at New Mexico State University studied the effect of adding pecans to the diet by observing the diets of individuals with normal cholesterol. Those in the pecan group ate sixty-eight grams of pecans each day, while those in the control group continued their normal diet and avoided nuts.
Those in the control group experienced no change in their LDL cholesterol levels, but those who added pecans to their diets experienced an average ten percent drop in their LDL cholesterol.
Road Runner's Choice
October 05, 2005 04:46 PM
While researching the Aloe Vera Plant in Mexico and Texus, we noticed that the Road Runner bird consistently ran to a special variety of Aloe plant when it needed a drink. We took the plant the road runner chose, chemically analyzed it, and found it to have a more potent gel than other Aloe varieties. We then concentrated on this plant to produce George's "Always Active" Aloe.
Capsicum, Infection and Immune Power
June 23, 2005 11:29 AM
Capsicum, Infection and Immune Power
Capsicum not only stimulates organ secretion and circulation, it has a tonic effect on the immune system, making the body less vulnerable to microorganism invaders. Dr. John R. Christopher writes of an artist who observed that natives of Coyoacan, Mexico seemed to be particularly resistant to intestinal infection. He writes: “He [the artist] observed that the natives had a remarkable immunity to amoebic dysentery due to their fondness of raw chile peppers which they ingested in tremendous quantities as part of their normal diet.”69 In addition to intestinal infections, Capsicum has significant value for upper respiratory ailments including colds, influenza, s o re throats etc. Because it can increase blood flow to peripheral tissues, it insures the better deliver and assimilation of nutrients which are required by infected areas in order to heal quickly. This same action enhances the re m oval of waste material and tox i n s from inflamed areas thereby facilitating faster recovery. Whatever area of the body is afflicted, it is imperative that blood supply is adequately infused over the region. The constituents of the immune system which include macrophages, T-cells, etc., are blood-borne, there fore the better capillary delive ry of blood, the faster the healing process can occur.
A study published in 1994 found that Capsicum even had the ability to exe rt an anti-giardia effect in vitro.7 0 The effect of Capsicum was so impressive that a notation was made that its performance was considered superior to tinidazol (the pharmaceutical drug used to treat Giardia).71
The Preventive Power of Capsicum
Taking daily doses of Capsicum can help to protect the body f rom colds, flu, sore throats, other bacterial or viral infections, h e a rt disease, indigestion and fatigue.72 Capsicum is frequently combined with Garlic to create a potent immune system fortifier. Capsicum for Fatigue and Depression The natural stimulatory action of capsicum can provide better performance under conditions of stress. Laboratory studies involving animals which were stressed under a variety of conditions, performed better if Capsicum was added to their diet the day before testing.73 In addition, this study discovered that Capsicum was not as effective if taken two to three days prior to evaluation, indicating that its results were short-lived.74
Other studies found that the ability of Capsicum to stimulate circulation and respiratory reflexes may help to enhance physiologic performance under periods of stress or fatigue.7 5 Scientists in France have accrued additional evidence that taking Capsicum does indeed help to counteract fatigue.76 In addition to physical stress, mental disorders like depression may also respond to the stimulating effect of Capsicum. Ma n y health practitioners look upon depression as a “slowing down” of brain impulses and neurochemical reactions. Because Capsicum can increase peripheral blood flow and promote cellular function, its usage for mental disorders like depression should be further evaluated. Traditionally, pungent aromatics like clove have been utilized through aroma therapy to uplift the spirits and invigorate the mind. Capsicum works much in the same way. “Cayenne or Capsicum helps to stimulate circulation and has an energizing effect on the system. It has traditionally been used for ove rcoming fatigue and restoring stamina and vigor. It is considers a natural stimulant without the side effects of most stimulating agents.”77
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF CAPSICUM
June 23, 2005 11:20 AM
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF CAPSICUM
Capsicum is a remarkable whole body stimulant that can boost blood flow, tone the nervous system, relieve indigestion, promote sweating, help to cauterize and heal ulcers, ease persistent pain and fight off infection. One very authoritative work on African plants suggests that Capsicum’s “regular ingestion is highly beneficial in hemorrhoids, varicose veins, anorexia, liver congestion and vascular conditions . . .the indigenous inhabitants of Africa and of the Antilles are remarkably free form all of these conditions as they use Capsicum fruit in their diet.”10 Most of the therapeutic actions of Capsicum are attributed to the alkaloid or glucoside content of the herb.11 The latest scientific studies conducted with Capsicum will be discussed in subsequent sections.
Because Capsicum boosts peripheral circulation and stimulates organ secretion, it expedites the therapeutic delivery and action of other herbs. In other words, the medicinal benefits of these herbs reach infected or inflamed tissue more rapidly due to enhanced blood flow.12 Consider the following statement: “Cayenne will insure the rapid and even distribution of the active principles of the rest of the herbs to critical function - al centers of the body, including those involved in cellular respiration, metabolism, data transmission, and neural-hormonal activation. Cayenne is included in several other blends for this reason. In extremely small quantities it can dramatically increase the efficiency of most other herbs.”13 Many health practitioners believe that the key to healing is CAPSICUM stimulation. Capsicum stimulates eve rything from blood flow to peristaltic action in the stomach, to intestinal transit time. The re m a rkable ability of Capsicum to stimulate organ secretion and even heart action makes it one of the strongest natural stimulants known. Se veral different kinds of herbal blends targeting various body systems will utilize Capsicum to boost the formula’s efficacy.
Capsicum is said to be unequaled for its ability to boost circulation and increase heart action. Interestingly, cultures who consume significant amounts of cayenne pepper in their diet have much lower rates of cardiovascular disease.14 Capsicum exerts a variety of desirable actions on the entire card i ovascular system. It has the extraordinary ability to enhance cardiovascular performance while actually lowering blood pressure.15 A quote taken from a card i ovascular publication re a d s , “Capsaicin has also been shown to prolong cardiac action potential in atrial muscle . . .”16 Michael T. Murray, N.D., has stated, “ Cayenne pepper [Capsicum] should be recommended as a food for its beneficial antioxidant and cardiovascular effects.”17 Herbalists have considered Capsicum as a superior “f o o d” for the heart. In fact, in cases where a heart attack is suspected administering capsicum in hot water has been thought to help lessen the severity of the attack. Capsicum can also be placed on or under the tongue in emergencies involving heart attack, stroke or hemorrhaging. 18 Note: Using Capsicum for any heart-related problem, especially a suspected heart attack should never take the place of medical attention or a physician’s care.
CAPSICUM Blood Cholesterol Reducer
Various studies have conclusively demonstrated that Capsicum reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the a rteries) by reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels .19 Additional clinical studies conducted in India found that when cayenne was ingested along with dietary cholesterol, the typical rise in liver and blood serum cholesterol levels was significantly inhibited. In addition, bile acids and free cholesterol were subsequently eliminated from the body through the stool.20 Interestingly, these tests revealed that using Capsicum was actually more effective in reducing cholesterol that capsaicin alone.2 1 Daniel Mowrey, Ph.D., emphatically points out that this is just one of many examples of the superiority of whole botanicals as opposed to their isolated components.22 Note: Using Capsicum in combination with Hawthorn is a particularly good cardiovascular tonic.
Blood Pressure Equalizer
While an added bonus of Capsicum’s capability to lower blood serum cholesterol is a decrease in blood pressure, additional evidence strongly suggests that the herb initiates other mechanisms that fight hypertension .23 “Cayenne, according to another study, also reduces the blood pressure in an even more direct manner: a number of years ago, a team of researchers discove red that capsaicin acts in a reflexive manner to reduce systemic blood pressure, a kind of coronary chemoreflex.”24 Adding Garlic to Capsicum creates an even better therapeutic blend for treating hypertension.
Blood Detoxification CAPSICUM
“Cayenne is a kind of catalyst in the blood purification process . . . it acts as a diaphoretic, stimulating the excretion of wastes in the swe a t . ”25 Because Capsicum stimulates organ secretion and boosts peripheral blood flow, it would only stand to reason that it would also facilitate the faster removal of toxins from the bloodstream and lymphatic system. You may have already noticed that Capsicum is frequently added to blood-purifying herbal combinations. Circulatory Booster Researchers have found that the simulating action of Capsicum on surface capillaries can help to pre vent cold hands and feet.2 6 For this reason, it may be helpful for Reynaud’s Syndrome. Old remedies using Capsicum have even recommended placing it in socks to warm the feet and to help prevent frostbite. An old folk cure for a chilled body was a steaming hot cup of Capsicum tea. Free Radical Scavenger The rich flavonoid content of Capsicum gives it significant antioxidant capabilities. A recent study conducted in 1995 showed that Capsicum has a higher ascorbic acid content than chiles from the jalapeno or serrano varieties .27 Vitamin C and bioflavonoids can scavenge for dangerous free radicals which cause tissue damage and can predispose organs to degenerative diseases. Free radicals are found everywhere and are created as by-products of metabolic p rocesses including the act of breathing itself. Pollutants can expose the body to free radicals. An interesting study done in Mexico City and published in 1993 found that Capsicum extract was able to modulate the mutagenic activity of urban air samples.28 In other words, these potentially dangerous nitro - a romatic compounds found in polluted air were kept from mutating by red chile extract.29 Chemical breakdowns of Capsicum have also found that CAPSICUM the pepper is high in Provitamin A, which significantly contributes to its healing ability and immune fortification.30 Anti-Carcinogenic Compound Anti-cancer research recently tested Capsicum on laboratory rats and found that it does indeed demonstrate anti-cancer properties by inhibiting certain enzymes which can initiate the mutation of cells.31 What this implies is that taking Capsicum can afford the body some protection against the cellular mutation which occurs in malignant growths. Capsicum actually inhibited the formation of dangerous metabolites under laboratory conditions where they should have normally been activa t e d .3 2 This study implies that Capsicum may have many more sophisticated bio-chemical actions than previously thought.
An Impressive Pain Killer
Capsaicin has recently emerged as a remarkably effective pain reliever and has become the subject of recent clinical research . Applying capsaicin in cream or ointment form to painful joints, scar tissue or other painful conditions involving peripheral nerves confuses pain transmitters. In other worlds, capsaicin temporarily disrupts sensory nerve cell biochemistry there by impeding the relay of pain sensations from the skin surface. It does this by inhibiting a neurotransmitter called substance P. This specific compound is thought to be the main mediator of pain impulses from peripheral nerve endings.33 Substance P has also demonstrated its ability to inhibit inflammatory pain generated in arthritic joints in much the same way.34 Today, several over-the-counter topical preparations utilize capsaicin for the pain of arthritic joints. The ability of Capsicum to control severe and unresponsive pain is significant, to say the least. Modern clinical utilization of topical capsaicin may offer signifi-cant relief for a number of painful conditions including: diabetic neuropathy, cluster headaches, post-amputation pain, post-mastectomy pain, shingles and painful scar tissue.35
In the early spring of 1996, prime time national news show s reported that scientists had found that individuals who had suffered from chronic pain in post-surgical scars (heart bypass, arterial grafts, etc.) were successfully treated with topical preparations containing capsaicin. While this may have been news to many of us, clinical studies had been already published for several years that capsaicin held profound value for various kinds of pain which did not respond to established medical treatments. Typically surgical scars and regions around them can produce persistent pain or can be very sensitive to the touch even when completely healed. This type of pain phenomenon seems to respond well to capsaicin ointments and creams.
When capsaicin preparations were applied following mastectomy or breast reconstruction, pain was significantly relieved. Se veral double blind studies found that using capsaicin creams four times daily for 4 to 6 weeks resulted in much less frequent occurrence of sharp, jabbing pain.3 6 All thirteen patients studied had a 50 percent or greater improve m e n t .3 7 Various unpleasant sensations other than pain also improved with topical applications of capsaicin creams.38
MOUTH SORES FROM RADIATION OR CHEMOTHERAPY
A fascinating study conducted at the Yale Pain Management Center discove red that capsaicin could ve ry significantly lessen pain caused by mouth sores which frequently develop after chemotherapy or radiation.39 Apparently delivering the capsaicin in the form of soft candy (taffy) enabled the substance to be retained in the mouth long enough to desensitize the nerve endings causing the pain. Each one of the eleven case studies re p o rted that their pain had decreased and in two patients, it stopped entirely.40
Diabetic neuropathy is a painful nerve condition which can develop in cases of prolonged diabetes. Several double-blind studies have supported the considerable value of capsaicin creams for relieving the pain associated with this disorder.41 The results of a controlled study using Capsicum for seve re cases of diabetic neuropathy which did not respond to conventional therapy were published in 1992. A cream containing Capsicum was applied to painful areas four time a day and pain was carefully e valuated for 8 weeks at two-week intervals. The results we re impressive, to say the least. In the 22 patients who used the Capsicum the following results we re re c o rded: “Capsaicin tre a tment was more beneficial than vehicle treatment in the overall clinical improvement of pain status, as measured by physician’s global evaluation and by a categorical pain severity scale . . . In a follow-up study, approximately 50 percent of the subjects reported improved pain control or were cured . . .”42 No t e : While there was a burning sensation when the Capsicum c ream was first applied, some subjects found that its magnitude and duration lessened with continued application.43
The FDA has approved capsaicin-based ointments for the treatment of pain that results from diseases like shingles. Again, numerous studies have documented the value of capsaicin for decreasing the miserable nerve-related pain associated with shingles. The general consensus derived from these tests were that approximately 50 p e rcent of people suffering from shingles responded well to capsaicin creams, some even after 10 to 12 months.44
Note: If blisters accompany a shingles outbreak, it is better to wait until they have healed before using any capsaicin-based ointments or creams.
RELIEF FOR BURNING FEET
Frequently an uncomfortable “burning” sensation in the feet will occur in many people, particularly in diabetics. As ironic as it may seem, using capsaicin creams may actually alleviate this burning. “In various studies, diabetics who treated their burning feet with capsaicin got greater improvement and we re able to walk more easily than those not using the cream.”45 In addition, using topical applications of capsaicin as opposed to strong, oral drugs is much more preferable.
Clinical tests have confirmed that topical capsaicin ointments substantially alleviate the miserable pain that characterizes osteoand rheumatoid arthritis.46 These studies revealed that using 0.075 capsaicin cream reduced tenderness and pain.47 Dr. Michael T. Murray writes: “ . . . seventy patients with osteoarthritis and thirty - one with rheumatoid arthritis received capsaicin or placebo for 4 weeks. The patients were instructed to apply 0.025 percent capsaicin cream or its placebo to painful knees four times daily. Significantly more relief of pain was reported by the capsaicin-treated patients than by the placebo patients throughout the study . . .”48 Anyone suffering from osteo or rheumatoid arthritis should evaluate the effectiveness of capsaicin ointments for joint pain. Ester Lipstein-Kresch, M.D., has studied the effectiveness of capsaicin creams for arthritis and has stated: “You need to apply it three or four times a day on the affected area for at least two weeks before you’ll see any improvement. An initial burning sensation at the site is not unusual for the first few days, but this goes away with continued application.”49 Note: Capsaicin is also useful for tennis elbow due to its ability to block the transmission of pain.
MIGRAINE HEADACHES (CLUSTER TYPE)
Topical applications of capsaicin ointments intranasally may also help to relieve the pain of a specific kind of migraine headache called cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are characterized by s e ve re pain which typically radiates around one eye. The term “cluster” refers to the fact that these headaches tend to occur in clusters of one to three per day and can recur at intervals. Headache pain and severity we re reducing in groups using intranasal capsaicin.5 0 This type of capsaicin treatment should be done under a physician’s care. There is some speculation that capsaicin may be more effective in pre venting migraines before they develop into a full blown attack.51
June 23, 2005 10:53 AM
Known to the natives of the tropical Americas for millennia, Capsicum, or Cayenne Pepper, was introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus and became known as “Guinea Pepper. ” Originally used by Native Americans located south of the Mexican border, archeological evidence supports its cultivation from 7000 B.C. Apparently, mixing chocolate and red chiles was a taste treat exclusively reserved for Aztec royalty.5 The exact origin of the word Capsicum remains somewhat of a mystery. However, it is assumed to be a derivative of the Greek word kapto, meaning “to bite,” an appropriate reference to its fiery pods. Capsicum is the fruit of a shrub-like tropical plant and is technically considered a berry. Its designation as a “pepper” can be traced back to Columbus, who equated its hot taste sensation with that of black pepper.
In 1597, Gerard referred to Capsicum as extremely hot and dry and prescribed it for throat and skin infections. Health practitioners of the nineteenth century called phsysiomedicalists used Capsicum to counteract rheumatism, arthritis, depression and chills. In the early 1800s, Dr. Samuel Thompson utilize d Capsicum as a potent and safe natural stimulant. His followe r s , who would become known as Thomsonians, believed that Capsicum should be used to treat a wide variety of diseases. It was used orally and as a poultice to treat tumors, toothaches, feve r s , and respiratory ailments.
In 1804, Dr. John St e vens introduced the red pepper to England where it became the catalyst component in a variety of herbal blends. Subsequently, herbal and medical practitioners used Capsicum to fight infection and sustain the natural heat of the body. It became well known in American dispensatories and pharmacopeia. In 1943, The Dispensary of the United States recorded that, “Capsicum is a powe rful local stimulant, producing when CAPSICUM swallowed, a sense of heat in the stomach and a general glow over the body without narcotic effect.”6 Twentieth-century physicians recognized the medicinal value of Capsicum which eventually found its way to the American Illust rated Medical Dictionary, the Merck Manual and Materia Medica, where it was referred to as a rubefacient, local stimulant, counter-irritant, gastric stimulant, and diaphoretic.7
Today Mexican Indians continue to use Capsicum as an internal disinfectant and protectant against contaminated food and also to treat fevers.8 “Today the pepper is nowhere in the world more appreciated and more widely used than in Mexico and certain other Latin American countries, which together form the original home of all the peppers. Both at morning and at evening, practically eve ry dish the Indians eat included Capsicum, just as their food did 2,000 years ago. The diet of the Indians was, and still is, rather bland . . . maize, beans, squash, pumpkin, yucca, potatoes . . . little wonder that the pepper was so highly regarded. And of course . . . the peppers were a wonderful source of essential vitamins in a diet otherwise lacking in them.”9 Capsicum continues to be a source of vitality and health in numerous countries including the Bahamas and Costa Rica, where it is used to overcome colic or indigestion, in Africa for vascular disorders and by North Americans who use it as a tonic and natural stimulant.
Capsicum is currently experiencing a renaissance in that a number of recent studies have emerged adding to its already impressive list of actions. Scientists are taking notice and looking at Capsicum with new respect and interest. Perhaps what sets Capsicum apart is that unlike powe rful pharmaceutical stimulants and pain killers, Capsicum possess potency without deleterious side effects.
Celebrating Women: Age Is Just a Number
June 13, 2005 07:43 PM
Celebrating Women: Age Is Just a Number by Carl Lowe Energy Times, March 10, 2004
As women age, their physical needs shift. The health challenges that face a woman in her thirties do not match those of a woman in her fifties.
At the same time, some basic health needs stay constant: At any age, every woman requires a wealth of vitamins, minerals and the other natural chemicals that fruits, vegetables and supplements supply. She also constantly needs families and friends to support her spiritual health.
As the internal workings of your body alter, your lifestyle must stay abreast of those adjustments. Peak health demands a finely tuned health program designed with your individual needs-and your stage of life-in mind.
Ages 30 to 45
When it comes to maintaining health, younger women might seem to have it easier than older women. If they exercise and stay in shape, they maintain more stamina than women 10 to 20 years their senior.
Unfortunately, many women in this age group mistakenly think they don't have to be as careful about their lifestyle habits and their eating habits as they will in later decades. But even if your health doesn't seem to suffer from poor eating choices or a sedentary lifestyle right away, your foundation for health in later life suffers if you don't care for yourself now.
By age 45 you should have established the good habits that will carry you successfully through the aging process. As an added bonus, good lifestyle habits pay immediate dividends. If you pay attention to your nutrients and get plenty of physical activity when younger, you'll feel more energetic and probably enjoy better emotional health.
Set Health Goals
According to Gayle Reichler, MS, RD, CDN, in her book Active Wellness (Avery/Penguin), good health at any age doesn't just come to you-you have to plan for it. In order to stick to good habits, she says, "living a healthy lifestyle needs to be satisfying." Reichler believes that you need to picture your health goals to achieve them: "Every successful endeavor first begins in the mind as an idea, a thought, a dream, a conviction." Good health at this age and in later years requires a concrete strategy and visualization of how your body can improve with a healthy lifestyle.
Your long-term health goals at this age should include an exercise program that will allow you to reach a physically fit old age with a lowered risk of disability. In addition, your short-term plans should encompass losing weight, staying optimistic, living life with more vim and vigor, increasing your capacity for exercise and lowering your stress.
As Reichler points out, "Your long-term goal and your ideal vision establish what you want to achieve....[You should do] something good...for yourself every day and every week that makes your life easier and more consistent with your goals."
Develop an Eating Plan
Today, the average American gains about two pounds annually. As a result, every year a greater portion of the US population is obese and overweight. By controlling your food intake earlier in life, you may be able to avoid this weight gain. In his book Prolonging Health (Hampton Roads), James Williams, OMD, recommends basic changes to your diet that can provide long-term support of your health:
Get Supplemental Help
If you're in your thirties or forties and you don't take at least a multivitamin, start taking one today! A large body of research shows that taking vitamin and mineral supplements over a long period of time significantly supports better health.
Calcium and vitamin D are two of the most important supplemental nutrients, helping to build stronger bones now that can withstand the bone-loss effects of aging.
Calcium can also help keep your weight down. One study of younger women found that for every extra 300 milligrams of calcium a day they consumed, they weighed about two pounds less (Experimental Biology 2003 meeting, San Diego).
In the same way, taking vitamin D supplements not only helps strengthen your bones, it can also lower your risk of multiple sclerosis (Neurology 1/13/04). In this study, which looked at the health records of more than 180,000 women for up to 20 years, taking D supplements dropped the chances of multiple sclerosis (although eating vitamin D-rich foods did not have the same benefit). And if you're thinking about having children at this age, a multivitamin is crucial for lowering your baby's risk of birth defects and other health problems. A study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that women who take multivitamins during pregnancy lower their children's risk of nervous system cancer by up to 40% (Epidemiology 9/02).
" Our finding, combined with previous work on reducing several birth defects with vitamin supplementation and other childhood cancers, supports the recommendation that mothers' vitamin use before and during pregnancy may benefit their babies' health," says Andrew F. Olshan, MD, professor of epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health. "We believe physicians and other health care providers should continue to educate women about these benefits and recommend appropriate dietary habits and daily dietary supplements."
In particular, Dr. Olshan feels that folic acid (one of the B vitamins), and vitamins C and A, are particularly important for lowering the risk of childhood cancers and birth defects.
Ages 45 to 55
When you reach this in-between age-the time when most women have moved past childbearing age but haven't usually fully moved into the post-menopausal stage-you enjoy a propitious opportunity to take stock of your health and plan for an even healthier future. One thing that may need adjustment is your sleep habits, as sleeplessness is a common problem for women in this age group. Even if you haven't been exercising or watching your diet until now, it's not too late to start. Making lifestyle changes at this age can still improve your chances for aging successfully.
For instance, it is at these ages that women should have their heart health checked. Research published in the journal Stroke (5/01) shows that having your cholesterol and blood pressure checked at this time more accurately shows your future chances of heart disease than having it checked at a later date after menopause, in your late fifties.
" The premenopausal risk factors may be a stronger predictor of carotid atherosclerosis [artery blockages] because they represent cumulative risk factor exposure during the premenopausal years, whereas the risk factors...during the early postmenopausal years have a shorter time for influence," says Karen A. Matthews, PhD, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In other words, Dr. Matthews' research shows that if you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol before menopause, you are at serious risk for a stroke or heart attack soon after menopause: These are important reasons that you need to start improving your health habits immediately.
Increase in Heart Disease
Before menopause, a woman's hormones and other physiological characteristics usually hold down her chance of heart disease. After menopause, when hormones and other bodily changes occur, the risk of heart attacks and stroke in women rises significantly. (Heart disease is the leading killer of women.) At least part of this increased risk is linked to the postmenopausal decrease in estrogen production.
Dr. Matthews studied about 370 women in their late forties, measuring their weight, their BMI (body mass index, an indication of body fat compared to height), blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Ten years later, after the women had entered menopause, she and her fellow scientists used ultrasound to measure blockages in these women's neck arteries (a sign of heart disease).
The researchers found that indications of potential heart problems (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight) when women were in their forties did indeed forecast future difficulties.
" Women who had elevated cholesterol, higher blood pressures and increased body weight before menopause had increased blood vessel thickening and atherosclerotic plaque formation in the neck arteries after menopause. Such changes in the carotid arteries are associated with an increased heart attack and stroke risk," says Dr. Matthews.
Heart Health Factors
The four main lifestyle factors you should adjust at this age to support better heart function are diet, stress, exercise and weight. According to Dr. James Williams, "[M]ore than any other cause, dietary factors are the most critical factor in cardiovascular disease." He recommends eliminating "dietary saturated fatty acids as found in flame-broiled and fried meats." He also urges women to eat more fish and poultry, consume organic fruits and vegetables and cut back on refined sugar.
Stress becomes an ever more important heart disease factor at this age as estrogen begins to drop.
" Our study [in the lab] indicates that stress affects estrogen levels and can lead to the development of heart disease-even before menopause," says Jay Kaplan, PhD, of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (The Green Journal 3/02).
Dr. Kaplan's research shows that stress in women ages 45 to 55 may reduce estrogen earlier in life and make women more susceptible to the arterial blockages that lead to heart disease. "We know from [lab] studies that stress can lower estrogen levels to the point that health is affected," he says.
Stress can also hurt bone health: In a study of 66 women with normal-length menstrual periods, estrogen levels were low enough in half of the women to cause bone loss, making the women susceptible to osteoporosis.
Exercise and Weight
Although exercise used to be considered to be mainly a young woman's activity, the thrust of recent research suggests that physical activity actually becomes more important to health as you get older.
A 17-year study of about 10,000 Americans found that exercising and keeping your weight down is probably the most important thing you can do to lower your risk of heart disease as you enter your forties and fifties (Am J Prev Med 11/03).
Of the people who took part in this study, more than 1,500 people died of heart disease. Those who performed the most exercise were thinner and had a 50% chance less of dying of heart disease than overweight nonexercisers.
" The fact is that those who both exercised more and ate more nevertheless had low cardiovascular mortality," says Jing Fang, MD, a researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York.
An added benefit of exercise: If you burn up calories exercising, you can eat more and not have to worry as much about being overweight.
Supplements and Diet
If you're a woman at midlife, a multivitamin and mineral is still good nutritional insurance. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are also important for getting enough phytochemicals, the health substances in plants that convey a wealth of health benefits.
As you enter this age group, your immune system gradually slows down. To help support immune function, eating produce rich in antioxidant nutrients, and supplementing with antioxidants like vitamins C and E as well as carotenoids, can be especially important. For example, a study of people with ulcers found that people with less vitamin C in their stomachs are more likely to be infected with Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that can cause peptic ulcers and is linked to stomach cancer (J Amer Coll Nutr 8/1/03).
This research, which looked at the health of about 7,000 people, found that vitamin C probably helps the immune system fend off this bacterial infection.
" Current public health recommendations for Americans are to eat five or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day to help prevent heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases," says Joel A. Simon, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.
Calcium and Bones
At midlife, calcium continues to be a vital mineral for supporting bone health.
According to Gameil T. Fouad, PhD, "It has been routinely shown that a woman's calcium status and level of physical activity (specifically, the degree to which she participates in weight-bearing exercise) are positively associated with bone mineral density. It is less well appreciated that this is a process which takes place over the course of a lifetime."
Dr. Fouad adds that calcium works in concert with other vitamins and minerals to keep bones healthy: "Research in the United Kingdom involving nearly 1,000 premenopausal women over age 40 illustrates those women with the highest bone density tended to have the highest intake of calcium. Surprisingly, this study also demonstrated that calcium does not act alone: those women with the best bone health also had the highest intakes of zinc, magnesium and potassium."
Dr. Fouad stresses that supplements should go together with a lifestyle that includes enough sleep and exercise to help the body stay in top shape.
" As a general guideline," he says, "a woman concerned with her mineral intake should take concrete steps to make sure she is getting adequate rest, is eating a well-balanced diet focused on fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein as well as getting adequate exercise....A multi-mineral containing bio-available forms of zinc, magnesium, copper and selenium is probably a safe addition to anyone's routine. Taking these proactive steps dramatically reduces the chances that deficiencies will arise."
Ages 55 and Beyond
Entering the post-menopausal phase of life can present challenging opportunities for a new perspective on life and health. While some signs of aging are inevitable, experts who have looked at how the human body changes with age are now convinced that healthy lifestyle habits can improve how well you can think, move and enjoy life well past age 55.
As Dr. Williams notes, "In your fifties, the force of aging is undeniably present: Your body shape changes and organ function declines, both men and women have a tendency to gain weight....Heart disease becomes more common, energy and endurance are considerably reduced and your memory begins to slip."
But Dr. Williams also points out that you don't have to age as rapidly as other people do. He believes you should employ a "natural longevity program...[that starts] to reverse the course of aging as early as possible."
One key to staying vital as you age is your outlook on life, an aspect of life that's greatly enhanced by strong social ties.
Avoiding the Aging Slowdown The latest research shows that one of the most crucial ways to slow the effects of aging is to exercise and keep your weight down. It won't necessarily be easy, though. The change in hormonal balance at this age makes the body more prone to extra pounds (Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 11/12/03).
" In women, it has been demonstrated that major weight increases often occur during menopause, the time in a woman's life in which cyclic ovarian function ends and the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone decline," says Judy Cameron, PhD, a scientist in the divisions of reproductive sciences and neuroscience at the Oregon Health & Science University.
In Dr. Cameron's lab trials, she has found that the decrease in estrogen after menopause "resulted in a 67% jump in food intake and a 5% jump in weight in a matter of weeks."
In other words, the hormonal changes you undergo as enter your late fifties causes your appetite to grow as well as your waistline: Developments that increase your chances of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and joint problems.
Vigilance against this weight gain is necessary to save your health: Start walking and exercising. Research on exercise in people aged 58 to 78 found that getting off the couch for a walk or other physical activity not only helps control weight but also helps sharpen your thinking and helps you become more decisive (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2/16-20/04, online edition). This recent study, done at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that performing aerobic exercise improved mental functioning by 11% (on a computer test).
" We continue to find a number of cognitive benefits in the aerobic group," says Arthur F. Kramer, PhD, a professor of psychology at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois. "The brain circuits that underlie our ability to think-in this case to attend selectively to information in the environment-can change in a way that is conducive to better performance on tasks as a result of fitness." In simple terms, that means that walking at least 45 minutes a day boosts brain power as well as protecting your heart.
An Herb for Menopause
The physical changes that accompan> y menopause can be uncomfortable. But traditional herbal help is available: Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), an herb used for eons by aging women, has been shown in recent studies to be both safe and effective (Menopause 6/15/03).
" This [research] should reassure health professionals that they can safely recommend black cohosh to their menopausal patients who cannot or choose not to take HRT [hormone replacement therapy]," says researcher Tieraona Low Dog, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico Department of Family and Community Medicine.
While HRT has been used to help women cope with menopause, a flurry of studies in the past few years have shown that HRT increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Instead, black cohosh, which alleviates such menopausal discomforts as hot flashes, has been shown to be much safer.
Keeping Track of Crucial Vitamins
While continuing to take multivitamins and minerals at this age is important, some experts believe that as we grow older, vitamin D supplementation, as well as taking antioxidant nutrients, is particularly vital. Arthritis is a common affliction of aging, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one particularly destructive form of this joint problem. But taking vitamin D can significantly lower your risk of this condition.
When scientists analyzed the diets of 30,000 middle-aged women in Iowa over 11 years, they found that women who consumed vitamin D supplements were 34% less likely to suffer RA (Arth Rheu 1/03).
Other vitamins are equally important to an older woman's well-being. For example, vitamins C and natural E have been found to lower the risk of stroke in those over the age of 55 (Neurology 11/11/03). In this study, smokers who consumed the most vitamin C and natural vitamin E were 70% were much less likely to suffer strokes than smokers whose diets were missing out on these vitamins.
Rich sources of vitamin C in food include oranges and other citrus fruits, strawberries, red and green peppers, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils such as sunflower seed, cottonseed, safflower, palm and wheat germ oils, margarine and nuts.
Saving Your Sight
After age 55, your eyes are particularly vulnerable. Eight million Americans of this age are at risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that destroys structures in the back of the eye necessary for vision (Arch Ophthal 11/03). But you can drop your risk of AMD by taking supplements of antioxidant vitamins and zinc, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute.
Their research shows that a dietary supplement of vitamins C, natural vitamin E and beta carotene, along with zinc, lowers the chances of progressing to advanced AMD in certain at-risk people by about 25%. Daily supplements also reduced the risk of vision loss by about 19%.
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin also help protect aging eyes. When scientists compared healthy eyes with eyes suffering from AMD, they found that AMD eyes contained lower levels of these vital nutrients (Ophthalmology 2003; 109:1780). Furthermore, they found that levels of these chemicals generally decline as you grow older.
Healthy at All Ages
When it comes to designing a healthy lifestyle, general rules like these can be followed, but you should individualize your plan to fit your needs. No matter which type of exercises you pick out or what healthy foods you choose, look for a strategy and a plan you can stick to. If you think a selection of foods are good for you but you absolutely hate their taste, chances are you won't be able to stick to a diet that includes them.
The same goes for exercise: Pick out activities that you enjoy and that you can perform consistently. That increases your chance of sticking to an exercise program.
Staying healthy is enjoyable and it helps you get more out of life every day, no matter what stage of life you're in.
Home on the Range
June 13, 2005 03:52 PM
Home on the Range
by Janis Jibrin, RD Energy Times, September 5, 1999
Got chicken? Americans can't seem to get enough of this bird. Last year each of us ate, on average, just about 80 pounds of chicken, a whopping increase over the 49 pounds we each devoured in 1980 and an eight-pound increase from 1995. Part of this food's popularity comes from its lean image as a healthier, less fatty alternative to red meat (don't forget to take the fatty skin off). Chicken's also a cheap protein source: At many popular supermarkets you'll find weekly specials at about a dollar a pound.
But at health food markets, chicken can cost upwards of $1.69 a pound. These birds may be touted as raised in an organic, stress-free environment and on a vegetarian diet, free of antibiotics. For many people, this poultry is a better buy.
The Alternative Chicken
Most of the supermarket chicken you pick up in grocery refrigerated cases are broilers, birds bred to mature in about eight weeks. In comparison, in the '60s, chickens needed 14 weeks to become adult poultry. Conventionally-raised broilers eat grain mixed with whatever's cheapest on the market, such as recycled cooking oil that's been used to fry fast foods and animal parts.
These birds reside in chicken coops the size of football fields and don't see the light of day until transported to the slaughterhouse. On the other roost, alternatively raised chickens are brought up in a variety of ways (see box), but usually enjoy a more relaxed life and diet.
Chickens on the farm receive antibiotics for two reasons: To fight off the diseases that can run rampant through a crowded chicken coop and to encourage faster growth.
Antibiotics Stimulate Growth
Mark Cook, PhD, professor of animal science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, explains, "Gut bacteria trigger an immune system assault, which makes chickens a little feverish, suppresses appetite and slows growth. Antibiotics stimulate growth indirectly, by keeping bacteria levels down, and preventing the immune reaction." When birds get sick, they often get dosed with even more antibiotics.
This widespread antibiotic use has come home to roost and may contribute to the growth of bacteria that, frequently exposed to chemicals, have evolved ways to keep from being killed by pharmaceuticals.
This development threatens human health. Bacterial infections that people contract, once easily cured by penicillin or other drugs, are now tougher to eradicate. For instance, campylobactor, a common bacteria found in chicken, and responsible for some food poisonings, now demonstrates signs of resistance to drugs like floroquinolones. A powerful class of antibiotics, floroquinolones used to dependably conquer this infection.
"Floroquinolones are an extremely important class of antibiotics, used to treat many types of infections such as urinary tract infection, a wide variety of gastrointestinal illnesses, pneumonia, almost everything," says Kirt Smith, DVM, PhD, epidemiologist, acute disease epidemiology section, Minnesota Department of Health.
A study by Dr. Smith, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (340, 1999: 1525-32), showed that the percent of floroquinolone-resistant campylobactor appearing in infected people in his state-Minnesota-climbed from a little over 1% in infected people during 1992 to 10.2% in 1998. He and other scientists strongly suspect that the rise is a direct consequence of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision to allow floroquinolones in poultry feed beginning in 1995.
Although it was nearly impossible for Dr. Smith to trace the precise origin of campylobactor poisoning, he believes chicken was usually the source-and not just U.S. chicken. Many of the infected people had returned from Mexico and other countries.
"Sales of floroquinolones for poultry use in Mexico has increased dramatically," notes Dr. Smith.
Many alternative chicken producers do not use any antibiotic-laced feed at all. Other farmers adjust the feed to lower gut pH, making it more acidic and lowering chances of bacteria. At the U. of Wisconsin, Dr. Cook is developing antibodies to suppress the immune response to bacteria so chickens won't need antibiotics to spur growth. Buying and dining on chicken raised with little or no antibiotics could beneficially lower your risk of contracting a hardy bacterial infection. Better to catch campylobactor from an antibiotic-free chicken than a conventional chicken, speculates Dr. Cook. "There's less likelihood the bug will be resistant, and a better chance your problem can be cured with antibiotics," he explains.
And, looking beyond your own immediate health risk, buying antibiotic-free chicken makes a small contribution to stopping the spread of antibiotic resistant bugs. A Matter of Taste Conventionally raised chickens get little exercise and live only eight weeks, so they're tender but bland.
"There's not much taste in a modern chicken. Free range or organically grown, older birds usually have more taste," notes Dr. Cook.
The days of barnyard chickens happily clucking and strutting around in picturesque nature have disappeared with the family farm. Today, chickens lead a meager existence. After hatching, baby chicks are tossed into a gigantic hen house that is home to up to 30,000 birds. Their short lives are lived within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mandated 3/4 square foot per chicken. In that squeeze, birds can catch "chicken influenza," especially in winter when it's too cold to let in much fresh air.
Laying hens don't experience much more of a peaceful existence. These birds live their years with about five other hens, so crowded they can't flap their wings. Cages, suspended in the air, let eggs roll into a holding area. So they don't peck each other, hens are often debeaked, a painful process that can cause infection.
Hens go through natural laying and "dry" cycles. Growers manipulate this cycle by "forced molting," depriving hens of food for four to 14 days to keep them constantly laying. By the end of two years, hens are worn out. Their inactivity weakens their bones enough that electrical stunning, the usual method for knocking chickens out before slaughter, shatters their bones. So some wind up being plucked and boiled alive, according to Mary Finelli, program director for farm animals and public health at the Humane Society of the United States. The meat from these hens, tougher than other birds, was probably in your deli lunch sandwich. It's also used in the school lunch program or may end up in dog food.
"Generally, organically-grown broilers and hens have it better because room to move is part of the organic certification process," says Finelli. Finelli suggests visiting chicken suppliers to find out how chickens are treated. Or, she advocates a Humane Society book listing reliable firms. For a local producer call the society: 202-452-1100. According to a Consumer Report report, some growers force chickens out the last week of their lives to brand them "free range." So free range isn't a prime standard for choosing a decently raised chicken. However, turkeys thrive outdoors, so choosing free-range turkey is often a good idea for better tasting poultry.
In any case, organic is your best bet for chicken without pesticides. Make it your main choice for your 80 pound yearly consumption!
To fight cruel treatment of poultry:
• Forced Molting Ban. Forced molting is shocking hens for more eggs. To support petitions banning forced molting write: Docket Manage-ment Branch, FDA, Dept. Health & Human Serv-ices, 12420 Parklawn Drive, Room 1-23, Rock-ville, MD 20857. Include docket # 98P-0203/CP
• Downed Animal Protection Bill (House Bill 443, Senate Bill S515) spares some animals from the tortuous journey from chicken house to slaughterhouse. Mandates humane euthanization.
Acupuncture nutrient Connection
June 12, 2005 05:53 PM
Acupuncture nutrient Connection by Robert Gluck Energy Times, November 1, 1998
The theory behind the practice of acupuncture confounds western science. This therapy, originating in Asia, is based on the concept that currents of energy called meridians flow through your body. However, no one has ever been able to conclusively demonstrate the existence of these meridians.
Despite the evasiveness of these energy streams, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) holds that alterations in these energy flows can disrupt health and cause pain. Consequently, an acupuncturist punctures your skin with specialized needles to redirect the body's vital energy.
Despite the fact that western scientists have not been able to find satisfactory evidence of the existence of these energetic meridians, studies show that acupuncture works and is especially effective at relieving pain. This therapy has been used to alleviate a variety of conditions including chronic pain, nausea and even mental illness. In addition, some practitioners apply it to those trying to shake off the chains of drug addiction. (More recently, many practitioners now also successfully use acupuncture to relieve physical problems in animals.)
Of course, no matter what your perspective on this therapy, acupuncture's no panacea. While you might use acupuncture to relieve the discomforts of chemotherapy, you wouldn't use this technique as your primary weapon against a dangerous disease like cancer. Still, this reliable therapy occupies a welcome spot as an adjunct to many mainstream therapies. Consequently, many mainstream practitioners accept the validity of using acupuncture and many managed care companies reimburse this therapy. Some HMOs even keep a list of approved acupuncturists that they make available to enrollees.
Acupuncture East and West
The practice of acupuncture dates back at least 2200 years ago in Asia. Only during the last forty years has it become well-known and widely available in the United States. Today, 29 accredited acupuncture schools train practitioners in North America. In addition, traditional healers in Belize (south of Mexico) have been found to use a form of acupuncture derived from traditional Mayan medicine.
Is the use of acupuncture by Mayan shamans coincidence? Or further evidence that acupuncture meridians really exist? No one knows for sure, although some experts believe the Mayan use of this therapy supports the notion that the original ancestors of the Mayans migrated from Asia.
Acupuncturists insert needles into the body to relieve pain or enhance bodily functions. TCM holds that acupuncture, and the manipulation of these tiny needles, moves and manipulates qi (pronounced chee), the body's energy force.
"Acupuncture is a method of balancing the body's energy," says Carol Alexander, an acupuncturist at the North Jersey Health and Pain Relief Center in Hackettstown, New Jersey. "Disease occurs because of an imbalance...Insertion of the acupuncture needles into meridians will bring about the balance of qi." Alexander has practiced acupuncture for 10 years and studied at the Tri-State School of Traditional Acupuncture in Stanford Connecticut.
Alexander says patients sometimes suffer a blockage of qi or display too much or too little qi. The manipulation and placement of the acupuncture needles vary according to the need for adjusting meridian energy flow.
Acupuncture can be used to prevent disease and, if disease is already rampant, it can be used to help the body correct the problem.
In conjunction with her use of acupuncture needles, Alexander rarely prescribes single herbs but uses combinations of whole herbs that are very specific for different diseases and disease patterns. "Certain herbs, such as ginseng, are very prized in Chinese medicine," Alexander notes.
"Astragalus is an herb used in China and around the world to tonify the qi and increase qi energy as well as stimulate the immune system."
Alexander uses licorice root for assisting digestion and for helping women with menopausal discomforts. On the other hand, she recommends whole food concentrates like bee pollen granules for enhancing the immune system, peppermint for treating gastro-intestinal problems plus fiber supplements as well as the antioxidant/antihistamine quercetin, coenzyme Q10 and melatonin.
"In terms of classes of nutrients, I use a lot of whole food concentrates: the green concentrates like barley greens, wheat grass powder, spirulina and blue-green algae," Alexander says. "These are high in minerals, antioxidants, nutrients and fatty acids. I also use some soy products because the isoflavone concentrates are very much anti-cancer."
The Fine Points of Acupuncture
Acupuncture needles are very fine, as thin as hairs. They are available in a variety of diameters and lengths. When an acupuncturist inserts these needles, the sensation is that of mild pinpricks. (The needles enter the body at depths of only 1/8th inch to two inches.) In many cases people experience mild pleasure during needle manipulation.
"From a Western point of view it's important to explain that there is a distinct function of acupuncture treatment and that is to increase circulation," Alexander says. "We do stimulate nerves and we know that with the stimulation of nerves many neurochemicals and neurotransmitters are released. They move through the nerves and find receptor sights, some in the brain, some in other parts of the body."
By stimulating nerves, acupuncturists can calm inflammation and deaden pain. These effects are believed to be linked to the release of endorphins and dinorphins, powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories that the body produces for itself. Most acupuncturists use this therapy as part of an overall, multi-faceted treatment plan.
"Qi is what makes you different from a sack of chemicals," points out David Molony, an acupuncturist at the Lehigh Valley Acupuncture Center in Catasaqua, Pennsylvania who studied at the Nanjing Traditional Medicine Hospital in China and has lectured at Cornell University.
What You Need
"You can manipulate qi with acupuncture, herbs and diet. Because people's bodies work differently, there are different approaches. When you ask the question what nutrients and herbs are effective at enhancing acupuncture, it depends on what the person needs, according to an Oriental Medicine diagnosis."
An Oriental Medical examination, Molony says, begins with a long list of health questions designed to reveal factors that contribute to disease. A practitioner measures your pulse in several different places along your arm, inspects your tongue, may press on your stomach, sniff your general odor and closely examine your nails and skin for signs of problems.
"You take in everything you can," adds Molony, a board member of the Acupuncture Society of Pennsylvania and former board member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. "This gives you clues that you need in order to make your diagnosis."
Acupuncturists use nutrients and herbs that complement the treatment, as well as dietary and lifestyle counseling. Some acupuncturists don't specialize in herbal remedies, so these practitioners might go to a specialist like David Winston for advice. Winston, an herb expert skilled in Cherokee, Chinese and Western eclectic herbal medicine, works as an instructor, lecturer and consultant.
"In China, acupuncture is considered a complementary therapy; you generally don't go for treatment and get purely acupuncture," says Winston who is working on a book about saw palmetto. "Herbal medicine, diet and qi gong are important therapies in their own right and acupuncture is one of those therapies. Qi gong is a form of martial arts that focuses on unique breathing and visualization methods. Qi is not exactly energy, it's energy in movement; it's what makes the blood move."
Acupuncture is used to open blockages that sometimes build up in what TCM practitioners characterize as excessive heat or cold. These hot and cold spots do not always literally refer to the temperature of the body but are meant to depict changes in the character of the body's vital energy.
Chinese acupuncturists don't necessarily treat diseases, but target clusters of physical discomforts. Winston says, "Herbal formulas change depending on the 'symptom pictures.' Somebody could have acute appendicitis but the symptom picture could vary. Usually Chinese acupuncturists use herbs like isatis (a very cold, drying herb that's a powerful anti-bacterial agent) and coptis (a powerful anti-bacterial herb)."
Americans often visit acupuncturists complaining of back pain or some type of musculoskeletal problem-a wrenched knee, a ligament that hasn't healed properly or perhaps a torn rotator cuff. "If the injury is hot to the touch, it's red, it's inflammatory-that's a condition where there's excessive heat and in that condition the acupuncturist would give herbs that are cooling and anti-inflammatory such as the root of large leaf gentian."
Pain that Moves
If someone suffers pain that moves, pain that is sometimes exacerbated by damp or humid conditions, acupuncturists often prescribe clematis root, a wild variety of the garden plant that is an anti-spasmodic, or acanthopanax, a relative of Siberian ginseng used for damp pain.
"If there's pain with excessive dampness," Winston says, "acupuncturists might use duhuo, a drying herb that opens the meridians."
Molony agrees with Winston that when it comes to choosing herbs to enhance acupuncture, accurate analysis of the root cause of the health problem is paramount to making the right decisions. For example, if a person is qi deficient and her tongue is thickly coated, she may not be processing her energy properly. Phlegm builds up, decreasing energy. "What you want to do is give them herbs that move phlegm, like citrus peel, and combine that with acupuncture points that move phlegm also," Molony says.
For stimulating metabolism, Molony uses lactoferin-processed colostrum from cows. He uses ginseng and atractylodes as qi tonics and he adds herbs like magnolia bark or atractylodes alba.
He believes antioxidants are helpful too, as preventive medicines, including vitamins C and E. These valuable nutrients disarm the harm that reactive molecules can wreak within the body.
So how important are herbs and nutrition to enhance acupuncture's effectiveness? Acupuncturists seem to agree that healthy doses of antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E plus antioxidants from grapeseed extract) as well as specialized herbs, turn this therapy into a highly effective healing tool. Those wanting to benefit from this penetrating technique should stock up on nutrients. Then sit back, relax, kick off your shoes and let the acupuncturist do her stuff.
Glycerylphosphorylcholine -- Supports Cognitive Function in AD ...
May 24, 2005 09:52 AM
Cognitive Improvement in Mild to Moderate Alzheimer's Dementia After Treatment with the Acetylcholine Precursor Choline Alfoscerate: A Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial Maria De Jesus Moreno Moreno, MD Instituto Nacional de la Senectud, Mexico City, Mexico
in both men and woman they consistently improved after 90 and 180 days versus baseline with adiministration of GPC three times a day, whereas in the placebo group they remained unchanged or worsened. Statistically significant differences were observed between treatments after 90 and 180 days.
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