Search Term: " Perspecive "
Year to Watch: Six Exciting Areas For Cannabis Industry Development in 2018
January 04, 2018 03:59 PM
The cannabis industry has been booming since Colorados legalization and now with California's full legalization, it can get even larger. There are a few associated industries that will grow with it. The first is banking. Banking is key because currently, it is semi-illegal to have a bank account if you sell cannabis. It is still illegal and the government can seize your assets as well as freeze the bank's assets. Consumer goods will be another huge market, since they'll need to move into a new arena to make cannabis and cannabis products more mainstream.
"Whether it’s medical or adult use – one statistic I came across that’s very interesting is that by 2020, the cannabis industry will be at approximately $17 billion. To put that in perspective for packagers, the natural cheese market right now is at about $12 billion."
Read more: https://www.cashinbis.com/year-watch-six-exciting-areas-cannabis-industry-development-2018/
A Pediatrician Answers 5 Questions About Probiotics/Prebiotics
November 05, 2017 07:59 AM
Probiotics and prebiotics are both good bacteria your child's body may need more of. These do not make you sick the way some bacteria will. They occur naturally in your body already but this can be thrown off by many things such as a poor diet. This gives info straight from pediatricians so you'll know if you need to give more of these to your child in the form of supplements or in their food.
"As we learn more about the normal bacteria that live in our intestines and how variation of the amount and type might contribute to disease, I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to see conditions for which probiotics are safe and effective."
Read more: http://www.checkupnewsroom.com/a-pediatrician-answers-5-questions-about-probioticsprebiotics/
Ask the Expert: Are all fats bad for me?
July 04, 2017 04:14 PM
A dietician addresses the subject of dietary fats. She presents a balanced and objective perspective of these fats, evaluating them by type and their effect on health. This includes a brief overview of some of the body's uses for fat. Healthy unsaturated fats are listed by type and food source, followed by discussion of unhealthy saturated fats, and the food sources where these fats can be found. In conclusion it is stated that including the right kind of fat in the diet is important to human health, but the high caloric content must be taken into account when consuming this food.
"Fats are one of three macronutrients (alongside protein and carbohydrates) that are essential to a balanced diet."
Read more: http://www.dailyprogress.com/lifestyles/ask-the-expert-are-all-fats-bad-for-me/article_205ffa28-5de4-11e7-ade2-d38adc5084a8.html
I Took CBD Oil For 30 Days Straight: Here's Why I Can't Stop Talking About
May 20, 2017 03:44 PM
This oil is made from marijuana. The argument about it is raging because many want it to remain illegal but it supposedly has good medical benefits. This gives info about a person who took this oil for a month. They tell their experience with it and what they liked. It gives a good perspective since it comes from someone's hands-on experience instead of just conjecture. Reading this might make you think differently about the medical marijuana issue.
"CBD, or cannabidiol, is available as a supplement and comes from the same cannabis plant as the stuff you would smoke, but contains only trace amounts (less than 0.3 percent) of THC—the chemical component that has psychoactive effects."
Read more: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/why-i-regularly-take-cbd-oil
Antioxidants to Protect Against Memory Loss and Cognitive Decline, Part 2 of 2
February 22, 2017 04:59 PM
In this article, author Mark Becker highlights in part 2 of his segment about how antioxidants are used to protect against memory loss and cognitive decline and support brain health. Scientists studied the effects on mice in a 2012 University of Illinois study showing that mice exposed to caffeine were able to form new memories 33% faster than non-caffeinated mice.
How Much Should You Push Yourself with Depression?
November 23, 2016 12:59 PM
Depression is a reality that affects all too many. One of the toughest decisions is knowing when to push and when to cut yourself some slack. The key to making this decision above all is to know yourself. Find out what it is about yourself that can help you identify your triggers for stress and learn to combat them with the perspective and experience of Therese J. Borchard.
"Do you typically push yourself too much or do you need to be pushed? That will help you know what to do when you get depressed. If you constantly beat yourself up for not doing everything perfectly in recovery, or in life, maybe you should throttle back to part-time (if you can afford it) and try to allow yourself to heal. If you typically need other people to inspire you to change, then maybe pushing yourself is the right thing to do."
Is Erythritol A Better Sweetener Than Sugar?
Named as polyol, erythritol is known as "sugar alcohol" and later confirmed as food additive in worldwide perspective. Some countries find no problems in using this sugar sweetener for human use. Coming from fruits which are processed into fermentation, it ends up being sugar liquor and utilized for any sort of sustenance items like grape, wine, soy sauce, etc. Rather than being named as nourishment added substance, it likewise goes about as sugar substitute and made of no synthetic substance inside. The level of sweetness is extended from 60-70% for sure if contrasted with characteristic sugar.
What makes Erythritol stand out from other sweeteners is its capacity to lessen potential gastric problems. It is less reactive compared to other sugar alcohols. It is easily absorbed by the body which makes it a good component of beverages and certain gums. Therefore, this sweetener is a safe sugar substitute.
Taking up Erythritol in larger quantities doesn't cause harm in the body. Non-glycemic specialists say that it doesn't have an effect on people who have diabetes. This is a good news for them since they can enjoy the sweet taste without compromising their health or thinking about their insulin level.
Importance of Chlorophyll in human Body
March 22, 2014 08:37 AM
What Does Chlorophyll Do For The Body?
Chlorophyll is a green molecule found in plants and plays major roles in human body. It is ingested in its raw form while eating vegetables.
Its role in human body
Despite of being vital molecule in plants; it also plays a vital role in human body in that; it acts as a blood cleanser, blood builder and also an oxygen booster. It does this by delivering energy transfusion in the bloodstream thereby restocking and increasing red blood cell count.
Disease prevention roles
The chlorophyll provides alkaline environment in human body in addition to being an oxygenator therefore helping our bodies fight off disease causing bacteria.
Chlorophyll helps the body to cleanse itself of toxic substances. In larger perspective it is linked with cancer prevention through its cleansing roles. By helping the body to detoxify itself; it plays a major role in removing the impurities that may lead to development of cancer in human body.
It is also known to be a source of amino acids which are important part of human health. It also plays a part in promoting quick rejuvenation of human cells. It also improves liver functions by extracting the blood impurities. It is also a high regulator of calcium. This helps in building ions in the blood. It is also known for its effects of reversing protein deficient anemia which is common in children in low developed countries.
Where can it be found?
It is usually found in green plants though in different levels. It gets to human body through consumption of these green plants especially the leafy part. The highest chlorophyll containing plant is the wheatgrass. To obtain it you have to juice the plant and for detoxification it may require regular juicing. It is the only component in a plant that has so many benefits to human body.
How Does Pancreatin Help With Digestion?
August 23, 2011 12:33 PM
Pancreas and Pancreatin
The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen that lies just below the stomach and is a vital part of the endocrine system. Its main responsibility is to produce enzymes needed for the digestion and absorption of food. It is both an endocrine gland making several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, as well as an exocrine gland. Most relative to our topic though is the function of secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes. These enzymes aid to further break down carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids. Enzymes(Pancreatin) secreted include amylases which digest starch molecules, for fat its lipases, and proteases for digesting proteins.
Having a nice healthy digestive tract is more than just being free of discomforts, heartburn, gas, or constipation. We have to look at it at different perspective, like from “what happens to the food?” kind of perspective. When foods are not digested properly, its nutrients cannot and will not get to our body’s cells. Nutrients are captured within the food processing stages in our digestive system. The body requires a constant flow of nutrients to essentially for what it is suppose to do which is to grow, generate energy, and to repair tissue. A lack of digestive enzymes like pancreatin in the stomach and intestines may cause heartburn, bloating, indigestion and constipation. Sometimes without giving much thought to digestion, we think it’s as simple as food is placed in the mouth, chew, swallow, and digest. However nutrients are vital to every cell in the body, and even digestion requires the right balance of nutrients to signal the nerves to start gathering nutrients again.
Digestion processes all occurs in the gastrointestinal tracts. Whatever you eat flows through this system, but until absorption through the intestinal tract, the nutrients from your food are still physically outside of your body. Because the gastrointestinal tract functions like an internal skin and provides a barrier between whatever you ingest from the outside (external) and your internal bloodstream. Part of this process of digesting food is the selective transport of nutrients through the cell wall linings in your intestinal tract.
Once transported across the intestinal barrier to the inside of your body, that’s when the nutrients becomes part of our bloodstream and is rationed to all of your tissues via blood circulation to maintain organ function, aid in the need for energy, and mobilize growth and repair of new cells and tissues. Now for any mobilization of the nutrients to take place, food must first be broken down and this is where Pancreatin comes in along with other enzymes. On the other hand if pancreatin is insufficient it can lead to symptoms of malabsorption(abnormality in absorption of food nutrients), malnutrition(a state of lack of nutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and weight loss (or an inability to gain weight in children) and is often associated with steatorrhea (loose, fatty, foul-smelling stools), and is some select cases the lack of these enzymes can lead to type one diabetes.
stroke, what is it?
September 28, 2010 03:05 PM
A stroke occurs when a clot forms inside an artery that blocks the flow of blood to the brain. This is also called a thrombus. Embolism, which is a wandering clot, is carried in the bloodstream until it wedges in one of the arteries that lead to the brain. Aneurysms are blood-filled pouches that balloon out from weak spots in the artery wall and burst. A hemorrhage results when a defective artery in the brain that bursts, flooding the surrounding tissue with blood.
A mild attack can lead to temporary confusion and light-headedness, along with difficulty in speaking clearly, weakness on one side of the body, visual dimness and confusion, severe speech difficulties, and/or sudden or gradual loss or blurring of consciousness. Additionally, amnesia can occur, but it is not typically permanent. A coma can even result for short or long periods.
It is important to watch for early warnings of stroke. Although they may only last a few moments, early warnings include fainting, stumbling, numbness or paralysis of the fingers of one hand, blurring of vision, seeing bright lights, and loss of speech or memory. It is much wiser and significantly less expensive to start improving health in order to prevent this disease. Some doctors who have treated thousands of people suffering from stroke believe that most strokes can typically be prevented.
The Chinese often view strokes as being caused by blood stasis and stagnation of the liver. Chinese medical practitioners attempt to prevent strokes and treat them by treating constipation. Constipation causes a poisoned bloodstream, setting the stage for a possible stroke. Poisoned blood flows through thousands of miles of arteries, veins, and capillaries. The walls of the arteries are made up for cells, which are subject to the same injury from toxins as the cells in the kidneys. The kidneys degenerate at the same time that the arteries do and even from the same causes. When the walls thicken and harden, degeneration results. As they harden they become more brittle, causing them to burst more easily under pressure. Pressure increases as the hole through the arteries grows smaller. AS the walls become more brittle, the extra pressure causes the blood pressure to rupture. This, in turn, causes a stroke. The brain cells rely primarily on oxygen-rich blood in order to get nourishment. If they don’t receive this nourishment, the brain cells will die. Other causes of this are poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, and smoking.
Emotional health is an essential part to any healing. Strokes are often associated with resistance to change, giving up on life, and getting tired of doing all the same things over and over. It is important that we learn to accept changes and are able to go with the flow of life. Life can be exciting. Changes provide us with a new perspective on living.
Some herbs and supplements have been used to help as a preventative. These include vitamin E, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, garlic, evening primrose oil, lecithin, chlorophyll, flaxseed oil, and germanium. For additional information on any of these, please contact a representative from your local health food store.
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.
July 08, 2009 10:50 AM
The headline "Doubts over heart claims of omega-3 fats" was published in March of 2006 in the world's largest international news agency, Reuters. This article reported on the findings of a study on omega-3 fats and heart health, which published the exact same month in the British Medical Journal. The article found in Reuters claimed that the systematic review of 89 studies led to the conclusion that there was no substantive evidence that omega-3 fats actually protected individuals against cardiovascular disease or cancer. The New Zealand Herald picked up this article and announced that the heart-healthy advice to eat more oily fish was incorrect, as it advised its readers to put fish oils on the top of the list of medical beliefs that turned out to be myths.
In actuality, the omega-3 investigation, conducted by Lee Hooper and coworkers at the University of East Anglia School of Medicine, was a meta-analysis, as it combined data from several available clinical trials. Meta-analyses are highly speculative due to the differences in the scientific protocols between the included studies, which can lead to difficulty in exposing a common factor. A good meta-analysis is often useful to put contradictory evidence into perspective. However, a poorly designed analysis can lead to bad science and faulty conclusions.
This Hooper analysis was a review of 48 randomized controlled trials, along with 41 cohort studies. However, the investigation only used as few as 15 controlled trials and 3 cohort studies in compiling the data. Included in this analysis were studies that had very small sample sizes and provided little data on the effects under investigation. Extremely low death rates in several of the studies that were included worsened the situation, which resulted in a very large confidence interval and a lower analytical power than what was expected. Additionally, there was a large degree of difference among the included studies. Some of them had death rates in their control groups as low as 0.5%, while others had extremely high control-group death rates exceeding 15% and 22% in two cases. This fact indicates that there were large disparities in the health of subjects. This much heterogeneity among subjects requires a high degree of analytical power in order to produce meaningful results. This was something that the Hooper study lacked.
When addressing the above issues, the authors of the study pointed out that “there were too few events such as deaths, associated cardiovascular events, and incidences of cancer to rule out the possibility of important effects from various interventions.” This basically means that the numbers produced in the study produced results that didn't show much of anything. In a case like this, a person should be extremely cautious as to dismissing a possibly association based on negative results. Dr. Mike Knapton, the Director of Prevention and Care for the British Heart Foundation cautioned the public that they should not stop consuming omega-3 fats or eating oily fish as a result of this study. The wise advice given by Dr. Knapton, however, was not enough to stop the media from fabricating stories and devaluing the necessity for omega-3 fats.
The fact is that omega-3 when taken on a consistent basis can help reduce cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health. Look for high quality omega-3 fish oil that is molecularly distilled at your local or internet health food store. Always select name brands to ensure quality and purity of the product you purchase.
*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Omega-3 fish oil is not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.
All Natural Hair Care Products - Salon Quality!
September 01, 2006 01:48 PM
New from Jason Natural Salon and Fragrance Free Hair Care
Jason Natural Salon Hair Care: Perfectly Styles, Perfectly Beautiful, All Natural.
This new line features a full range of functional products for healthy, style-conscious women. Jason has combined its expertise in developing natural and effective formulations with contemporary fashion to create luxurious styling and treatment specific products. Four specialized hair care systems offer a line of shampoos, conditioners, styling and finishing products to volumize, moisturize, naturalize, and style—for bold, sexy chic to soft, silky bounce. All the products are enriched with conditioning essential oils and botanical extracts to nourish and revitalize radiantly beautiful, stylish hair.
Jason Fragrance Free: Pure and Natural
Studies indicate that 15-30% of the population reports some sensitivity to fragrance. More than 80% report that exposure to fragrances is bothersome*. Fragrance chemicals can cause health effects, primarily in the skin, lungs and brain.
Jason Fragrance Free is a line of hair and body care products formulated for individuals with fragrance or skin sensitivities and those who just want to steer clear of fragrance, dyes and synthetics. Many “unscented” products mask the odor of the formula with fragrance so they remain a potential source of skin irritation. Synthetic fragrances often contain phthalates which have been linked to birth defects and health related issues.
Unlike “unscented” products-which often contain fragrance to mask the scent of the formula—Jason Fragrance Free is truly sans fragrance. Stock up on Jason Naturals complete product line.
*”scents and Sensitivity,” Environmental Health Perspectives, the research journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, www.herc.org, Nov. 1998
Buy Quality Hair Care Products at Vitanet
Night Health: A new approach to improving sleep.
May 12, 2006 05:41 PM
Our night health, including the quality of our sleep and dreams, may be the most critical overlooked factor contributing to both emotional and physical illness in modern times. For millions, night is a time of growing frustration and deepening struggle with insomnia as well as compromised and insufficient sleep. Mounting data has confirmed that sleep problems are strongly associated with virtually all major illnesses ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes, infections and cancer, and obesity to depression.
Night health refers to a new approach to sleep and dreams that integrates complementary and alternative medicine with effective conventional perspectives. It is essentially a comprehensive body-mind approach to sleep. The first in a series of articles introducing the concept of night health, this article begins with a closer look at the limitations of the simulated sleep offered by sleeping pills. It then examines the basic alternative of supplemented sleep: the place of natural sleep-supporting supplements. Finally, it offers suggestions for increasing the utilization of such alternatives by supplementing supplements with essential information, education and guidance offered by a new and unique software program and the first book about integrative sleep health.
As the public becomes increasingly aware of the health ramifications of sleep disturbances, more and more people are turning to sleeping pills. In fact, according to the IMS Health research, about 42 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were filled last year in the U.S. This represents a nearly 60 percent increase over the past five years alone. Some projections anticipate that the current $2.7 billion in annual sleeping pill sales will more than triple by 2010.
But instead of solving the problem, sleeping pills often make sleep problems worse. Sleeping pills commonly result in dependence. They can alter normal sleep architecture, cause amnesia and residual daytime “hangovers,” and they often result in rebound insomnias when discontinued. Some sleep specialists argue that sleeping pill use is further associated with significant increases in mortality. Given the sense of desperation that can accompany insomnia, even such very serious concerns have not prevented sales of sleeping pills from skyrocketing in recent years.
We are currently witnessing an unprecedented advertising campaign on the part of the pharmaceutical industry designed to convince the public that sleep medications are indeed a safe and effective strategy for addressing sleep problems. Despite clever and seductive advertising, however, it remains highly questionable whether sleeping pills can truly offer us sleep. I believe it is more accurate to say that they result in a kind of artificial or simulated sleep. Compared to natural slumber, sleeping pills cause a chemical knockout. Unfortunately, so many people have slept poorly for so long, they have forgotten what it is like to experience truly restorative, deep and refreshing natural slumber. Instead, many people now hold a naïve, limited sense of healthful sleep, confusing it with being knocked out. And sleeping pills satisfy that very naïve notion of sleep.
Rather than artificially simulating sleep with chemical knockouts, sleep-promoting supplements such as melatonin, valerian, and other botanicals support that body’s own sleep-facilitating mechanisms more naturally. Such products work in greater harmony with nature and, unlike conventional drugs, they do not stimulate sleep, they supplement sleep. I think of natural supplements inviting us to sleep. The very potency of many natural products lies in their very gentleness, which works cooperatively with both body and mind to induce healthful sleep.
I believe that the potential benefits and markets for such supplements remain largely untapped. Consumers’ expectations that sleep aids should knock them out rather than gently assist them in letting go into sleep must be addressed through targeted education and information campaigns. Consumers also need to learn how to use alternative sleep supplements in the context of a healthy sleep lifestyle or positive night health.
As helpful as they can be in promoting night health, sleep supplements alone will not do the trick. In fact, I believe many people get discouraged and discount the potentially positive benefits of sleep supplements after using them without proper guidance and understanding. Sleep supplements work best when they are geared to work synergistically as a part of a larger night health promotion program.
The availability of a wide range of over-the-counter health supplements offers an important freedom in healthcare choices. But with increased freedom comes increased responsibility. Consumers need to become significantly more informed. Particularly with regard to night health, such supplements need to be personalized and prescriptive. When it comes to sleep health, one size does not fit all. Whether we choose melatonin or valerian or a specific blend depends upon who we are and exactly what we need. By prescriptive I do not mean ordered by a physician, but specifically tailored to the needs of the individual.
Because of a significant shortage of health care professionals knowledgeable about sleep and the alarming trend towards increased use of sleeping pills, I have assisted in the development of a unique software program that provides sleep solutions that are both personalized and prescriptive. After more than a decade in development, the sleep advisor—an expert software system that thoroughly evaluates and provides personalized comprehensive recommendations for improving sleep—is now available.
More recently, I completed the first truly integrative book on night health. Healing night: the science and spirit of sleeping, dreaming, and awakening offers a new, comprehensive perspective on night health that complements the sleep advisors high pragmatic approach. Together, healing night and the sleep advisor offers essential supplements to sleep supplements.
Rubin R Naiman is a psychologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the university of Arizona’s health sciences center. He is also the sleep and dream specialist for dr. Andrew weil;s world renowned program in integrative medicine. Currently he serves as the sleep specialist at Miraval Resort, and is in private practice in Tuscon, AZ.
The above article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat a particular illness. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of a holistically competent licensed professional health care provider. The information in this article has not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Rubin R. Naiman, PhD
California Proposition 65 (Prop 65) and Progesterone Cream Warnings
February 17, 2006 06:29 PM
Scientific Safety Information on Progesterone
California Proposition 65 (Prop 65) and Progesterone Cream Warnings Amy Kosowski, M.S., LDN
Prop 65: What is it?
Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 , was enacted as a ballot initiative in the state of California in November of 1986. The Proposition was intended by its authors to protect California citizens and the State's drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals 1.
Proposition 65 requires the Governor to publish, at least annually, a list of chemicals “known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity .” Progesterone, as well as other human hormones, appear on this list 1. Set forth below is the information that formed the bases for the addition of progesterone to the Prop 65 list by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”).
Prop 65 and Progesterone - Perspective
In August of 2004, OEHHA published a document stating the rationale for the addition of Progesterone to the Prop 65 list 2. This document is a review of human, animal, and in vitro studies that used progesterone, synthetic progestins, and other progestagens (progesterone-like compounds). Experimental data from the use of all of these compounds were mixed together, along with data from studies using other steroid hormone derivatives (mainly synthetic estrogens) and many different methods of administration.
Although this review covered the existing scientific literature on progesterone and its many derivative compounds, there are many problems with the type of data analysis that was employed.
First, progesterone is endogenous to humans and necessary for bone and reproductive health while progestins and other synthetic progestagens are not. Progestins and progestagens are similar in molecular structure to progesterone, but when they bind to progesterone receptors, their effects are usually much stronger and more likely to cause abnormal physiologic responses 3, 4. Furthermore, the majority of the studies concerning the health effects of these progesterone derivatives involved combinations with synthetic estrogens 2-4.
There were very few studies mentioned in the 2004 document that used exclusively bio-identical progesterone (the kind found normally produced by humans as well as that used in progesterone creams), and those studies that did were at supra-physiologic doses (very high). The doses of progesterone ranged from 10-1000 times the dose usually recommended by manufacturers of progesterone creams 2, although in a few cases, the doses were closer to the recommended dosages.
The route of administration of progesterone is also at issue. All of the studies cited in the OEHHA document used either oral, injected, or suppository forms of hormones; none was conducted using transdermal creams. This is an important consideration because hormones absorbed through the skin are metabolized differently than hormones that are administered via other routes 5, 6.
Putting it Together
While the OEHHA Prop 65 reference document on progesterone 2 is a broad survey of the published scientific literature examining the potential effects of the pharmaceutical use of progesterone and its synthetic derivatives, it is not clear at all that these effects would be seen with the use of low-dose progesterone creams.
The OEHHA Prop 65 progesterone document evaluates a broad range of information regarding progesterone and synthetic materials that are not natural progesterone. The conclusion reached was not challenged, and it is on that basis that progesterone creams now carry the Prop 65 warning.
1 California OEHHA Web Site: //www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/p65faq.html .
2 Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Section, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency (2004) Evidence on the developmental and Reproductive Toxicity of Progesterone.
3 Campagnoli C, Abba C, Ambroggio S, Peris C (2005) Pregnancy, progesterone and progestin in relation to breast cancer risk. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 97(5):441-450.
4 Campagnoli C , Clavel-Chapelon F , Kaaks R , Peris C , Berrino F (2005) Progestins and progesterone in hormone replacement therapy and the risk of breast cancer. Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2005 96(2):95-108.
5 de Lignieres B, Dennerstein L, Backstrom T (1995) Influence of route of administration on progesterone metabolism. Maturitas 21:251-257.
6 Gompel A, et al. (2000) Progestins were also proapoptotic in normal as well as in hormone-dependent breast cancer cells. Steroids 65(10-11):593-598.
7 Bu SZ ( 1997) Progesterone induces apoptosis and up-regulation of p53 expression in human ovarian carcinoma cell lines. Cancer 79(10):1944-50.
Immune Renew Fact Sheet
December 07, 2005 01:07 PM
Immune Renew Fact Sheet Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 02/10/05
LIKELY USERS: Everyone seeking a healthy immune system; People on low carb diets or non-whole grain diets that are lacking dietary beta-glucans
KEY INGREDIENTS: Astragalus Root Extract Powder 70% polysaccharides (200 mg). Proprietary blend of 8 organically grown “medicinal mushrooms” (200 mg)
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES: Vegetarian formula. Polysaccharides in these US-grown mushrooms grown on organic brown rice include 1,3 Beta-glucans and terpenoids. Beta-glucans may stimulate the immune system in different ways. Triterpenoids may act as mild anticoagulants. Each mushroom may have a different effect; for example, one may stimulate T-cells and another Natural Killer cells, aiding in immune defense. Mushrooms have reported beneficial effects on liver health and promoting normal cell growth.
ADDITIONAL PRODUCT INFORMATION: Some extracts from these kinds of mushrooms have been used medicinally in Japan and China. The mushrooms include Turkey Tail, Sun Mushrooms, Maitake, Cordyceps, Phellinus, Lion’s Mane, Reishi and Shiitake. The astragalus extract also contains naturally occurring astragalosides. Mushrooms may help maintain normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels
SERVING SIZE & HOW TO TAKE IT: For everyday use take one or two caps per day, either with meals or on an empty stomach.
COMPLEMENTARY PRODUCTS: Vitamin C to break down beta-glucan structures for better absorption, Inositol Hexaphosphate (IP-6), I3C, Pometrol, mixed carotenoids and antioxidants
CAUTIONS: Pregnant and lactating women and people using prescription drugs should consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement. Do not take with AIDS drugs or if you have an autoimmune disease. Use with caution if using anticoagulants or blood pressure medication, as these mushrooms may have mildly synergistic effects to those drugs. Do not use if you have mold or mushroom allergies (or any sensitivities to mushrooms, cheese, etc.), which can potentially result in hives, rashes, breathing difficulties (including dry mouth or throat), stomach distress, diarrhea, or any other unusual side effect.
This information is based on my own knowledge and these references, but should not be used as diagnosis, prescription or as specific product claims.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
1. Hobbs C. Medicinal Mushrooms. Santa Cruz, CA: Botanica Press, 1995
Organic Diet protects Children's Brains...
October 05, 2005 10:24 AM
Children who eat an organic diet are protected from exposure to as least two agricultural pesticides, according to the national institutes of health’s environmental health Perspectives.
In the study, 23 children ages 3 to 11 ate their normal diests for the first three days. For the next five days, they ate organic replacements of many foods in their usual diet. In the final week, the children resumed their conventional diets. Researchs found that all 23 had metabolites of malathion and chlorpyrifos in their urine when they enrolled in the study. However, as soon as they switched to organic diets, these metabolites remained at zero levels until conventional foods are reintroduced.
“We were able to demonstrate that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effects against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production,” the author wrote.
Assists Digestion of Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats
September 03, 2005 01:30 PM
Assists Digestion of Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats
Digestive enzymes are produced by the pancreas and secreted into the duodenum (upper small intestine), where proteins, carbohydrates and fats are broken down prior to absorption. As we age, the body’s capacity to produce enzymes may decline. Moreover, stress and other health difficulties can impact enzyme production. Overeating sometimes causes incomplete digestion. Heartburn, bloating, belching, discomfort, and a “sour stomach” often result.
Supplementation with the enzymes in Best For Digestion supports replenishment of the body’s enzyme level, helping to relieve the burden on an overworked pancreas. Digezyme® contains a neutral protease which, like the body’s intrinsic protein-digesting enzymes, is active in the neutral to alkaline pH range. In addition to amylase for starch digestion and lipase for fats, Digezyme® also supplies lactase, which acts on milk sugar, and cellulase, which breaks down cellulose.
Benefits of Enzyme Supplementation
Enzyme supplementation promotes improved digestion and delivery of vital nutrients to the system. This benefits good health in many ways, including better elimination, improved energy levels and maintenance of healthy body weight. Enzymes also help prevent accumulation of undigested foods in the large intestine, which can be a source of toxicity for the body.
Supports Digestive Function According to Ancient Principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Disturbed digestion, whether from overeating or generally poor digestive-organ function, results in sluggish movement of food through the alimentary canal and sub-optimal nutrient absorption. In traditional Chinese medical theory, the functions of transporting food and assimilating nutrients are governed by the stomach and “spleen.” The “Qi,” or vital functional energy of these organs, is complimentary in action. Stomach Qi “descends” as food travels downward through the digestive tract. Overeating and poor digestion interfere with the stomach’s normal descending function, resulting in “food stagnation.” If stomach Qi “rebels upward,” the result is nausea and vomiting. The herbs in Best For Digestion, which include stomach tonics such as Ginger root, assist the descending function of the stomach, and have been traditionally used as remedies for “food stagnation.”
The “spleen” in Chinese medicine encompasses the digestive role of the pancreas. Spleen Qi normally “ascends.” This can also be explained from a Western perspective. When nutrients are absorbed, they enter the circulation through intestinal capillaries, travel upward to the liver via the hepatic portal system, and continue up to the heart, eventually to be circulated throughout the body. Several of the herbs in Best For Digestion are traditional “spleen tonics” that support the ascending of spleen Qi, thus assisting optimum nutrient absorption.
Digestive Enzymes and Traditional Chinese Herbs: A Novel Approach to Better Digestion
Combining digestive enzymes and Chinese herbs that support digestive function is a unique new approach to better digestion. Whether the problem is temporary “food stagnation” or a more long-term need for improved digestive organ function, Best For Digestion provides valuable assistance.
2. Chinese Herbal Materia Medica compiled and translated by Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble©1986, Eastland Press, Inc., Seattle, WA.
3. Barillas, C., Solomons, N. Effective reduction of lactose maldigestion in preschool children by direct addition of ß-galactosidases to milk at mealtime. Pediatrics 1987;79(5):766-72.
4.DiPalma, J., Collins,M. Enzyme replacement for lactose malabsorpiton using a beta-d-galactosidase. J Clin Gastroenterol 1989;11(3):290-3.
August 20, 2005 11:48 AM
Source Naturals is located in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, overlooking Monterey Bay. The 400 people who work at our company are surrounded by nature’s beauty. The ebb and flow of tides, the flight patterns of shore birds, the migration of whales, the rings that mark the years of ancient Redwoods—all are daily reminders of nature’s quest for balance and alignment. Our strong connection to nature guides us, as we apply these holistic principles to the development of nutritional supplements. We believe our formulations are at the leading edge of a revolution in health consciousness, which includes new perspectives in diet, lifestyle, emotional and personal development and complementary health care. Source Naturals’ Strategy for Wellnesssm is to provide education that helps individuals take charge of their health. The result is people who are more fulfilled and a world that is stronger and healthier.
July 25, 2005 10:37 PM
HERBS FOR SUMMER HEALTH
July 11, 2005 09:29 PM
HERBS FOR SUMMER HEALTH
Just about everyone looks forward to the summer months when school is out and more time can be spent outside. Backpacking, hiking, camping, boating, and bike riding are just a few of the adventures available. It’s a time for connecting and becoming reacquainted with nature while exploring the out of doors. Family camping trips and backpacking through the wilderness can help us put our hectic lives in perspective and renew as well as refresh the body. Along with the adventures, a few bumps, bruises, bites and stings are expected. Before the summer holiday begins, prepare by having some herbal remedies on hand to help with minor accidents that may occur.
Aloe is one of the best choices for the first aid kit. Commercial preparations can be taken along on trips. A leaf from the plant can be sealed in a zip lock bag and tucked in the first aid kit for short term use. The plant has numerous healing abilities and can be used on minor burns, rashes, bumps, scrapes and bruises. The aloe plant is very useful for many conditions.
Modern research has proven many of the benefits of Aloe vera. It has been used effectively for treating radiation burns, skin disorders, wounds, sunburn and dermatitis, to name a few. Aloe vera can help clean, soothe and relieve pain on contact. It penetrates through all three layers of the skin rapidly to promote healing. There are many different types of aloe products. Some include:
Aloe gel: This is the undiluted gooey substance that is found in the center of the leaves. Aloe concentrate: The concentrate is the gel when the water content has been removed.
Aloe juice: The juice is a digestible version of the aloe plant made from the gel with at least 50 percent Aloe vera gel. Aloe latex (aloin): The latex is the bitter yellow liquid from the pericyclic tubules of the outer rind of the leaf. The main constituent of this is aloin.1
Aloe is known for its healing and soothing effect on burns, wounds, and rashes. It can help clean, soothe and relieve pain on contact. It is able to penetrate all three layers of the skin rapidly to promote healing. It contains salicylic acid and magnesium which work together to produce an aspirin like analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect. The transparent gel on the inner leaf is applied directly to areas of the skin to treat burns, wounds, skin irritations and frostbite. The gel can is commonly found in many first-aid creams.
Research has found that aloe when applied externally can actually help speed healing and restore skin tissue.2 It also aids in healing when used externally in cases of wounds, frostbite and burns.3 The healing of burns may be due in part to the moisturizing effect of aloe. It is easily absorbed into the skin preventing the air from drying the damaged skin tissue.4 Aloe can help with many minor irritations that can occur during the summer months. Steven R. Schechter, N.D. conducted a study in 1967 at the Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati to determine the healing benefits of aloe. Research animals were being treated for laser burns. Dr. Schechter used several different preparations and consistently found the aloe vera gel to produce the most healing results. He found the gel to help with many skin disorders including burns, lesions and cancers. 5
As much as we try to avoid sun exposure, it is almost impossible to completely avoid getting a sunburn at some point in our lives. We may forget the sunscreen or stay out longer than expected. Excessive exposure to the sun can be detrimental to health. But, aloe vera may help to lessen the damaging effects of the sun. A sunburn can damage the skin as well as the immune system. Research by Dr. Faith Strickland of the Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas points to the possibility of aloe vera helping to eliminate the damage done to the immune system and skin. It may even help to restore the immune system to full function.
Many individuals have found that having an aloe vera plant growing in the home, within easy access, is an easy and simple way to treat common injuries. Commercial p reparations are also available which contain aloe. Scientists have found the plant to contain antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, anesthetic and tissue healing properties.
So why shouldn’t it be useful as a natural home remedy? Simply break off a leaf of the plant and slice down the middle of the leaf. Apply the thick inner gel to the injury whether it be a burn, insect bite, abrasion, scrape, rash, or other injury. The cut leaf can be placed directly on the wound and wrapped with gauze to secure it into place for a more serious injury. The skin will soak up of the gel as it soothes the affected area.
Toxicity is rare, but some do have allergic reactions to Aloe vera products. The aloin, found in the bitter yellow latex, containing anthraquinones, may cause severe cramping and should be avoided by pregnant women and children. Aloe can also help with the following:
PADMA BASIC: A Tibetan Herbal Formula
June 21, 2005 05:27 PM
By Isaac Eliaz, M.D.
"As an integrated system of health care, Tibetan medicine can offer allopathic medicine a different perspective on health. However, like other scientific systems, it must be understood in its own terms, as well as in the context of objective investigation. In practice it can also offer Western people another approach to achieving happiness through health and balance." --His Holiness the Dalai Lama, May 16, 1997
In this article I want to discuss a Tibetan-based herbal formula that reflects the philosophy outlined by H.H. the Dalai Lama. PADMA BASIC® is an extensively researched formulation that bridges the gap between Classical Tibetan Medicine and the modern Western medical paradigm. With over 50 published scientific papers spanning the last 30 years, PADMA's popularity among Western medical professionals can be attributed to its history of safe use and its health-enhancing properties. The original formula, used for centuries as a cardiovascular tonic and to counteract "heat" (inflammatory processes or infections), made its way to Europe by the first half of the 20th century. Acceptance of an ancient Tibetan formula into the Western medical tradition requires sensitivity to both the original Tibetan intention, and the rigorous requirements of the international pharmaceutical community. Today PADMA BASIC is produced in accordance with strict manufacturing guidelines. The herbs are grown organically, or meticulously tested to ensure they are not contaminated. Ingredients are verified using thin layer or high pressure liquid chromatography. While the highest "scientific Western methods" are used, traditional Tibetan "scientific methods" of smelling and tasting are also followed.
PADMA BASIC can be understood from two viewpoints. In Classical Tibetan Medicine, good health means maintaining a dynamic equilibrium of universal elemental forces. Illness is a manifestation of imbalance. Therapeutic intervention aims at restoring balance by treating the cause, not just the symptoms. Within this traditional model, PADMA has three functions:
Ingredients: Iceland moss (Cetraria islandica), Costus root, neem fruit (Azadirachtaindica), Cardamom fruit, Red Saunders heart wood (Pterocarpus santalinus), chebulic myrobalan fruit (Terminalia chebula), Allspice fruit, bael tree fruit (Aegle marmelos), Calcium Sulfate, Columbine aerial part (Aquilegia vulgaris), English Plantain aerial part, Licorice root, Knotweed aerial part (Polygonum aviculare), Golden cinquefoil aerial part (Potentilla aurea), Clove flower, Spiked ginger lily rhizome (Hedychium spicatum), Valerian root, Lettuce leaf (Lactuca sativa), Calendula flower, Natural Camphor (Cinnammum camphora).
Dr. Isaac Eliaz is a medical doctor and licensed acupuncturist with extensive training in complementary modalities. For 15 years, his practice has centered on the integrative treatment of cancer. He has been involved in numerous studies investigating the effects of nutritional supplements on cancer and has been granted two patents.
The important role the liver plays in maintaining health
June 21, 2005 04:56 PM
Most practitioners who practice various forms of natural medicine know the important role the liver plays in maintaining health in general. The liver is involved in thousands of biochemical mechanisms making it second only to the brain in importance and complexity. Natural health practitioners are also acutely aware of the detrimental effects on the liver of modern living, with its chemicals, excessive fat intake, pesticides, hormones, and stress. This suggests that we as a culture are in need of liver support. History suggests, and modern research is supporting, that botanicals have an important role to play in supporting a healthy liver.
The liver has an almost miraculous ability to biochemically transform, break down, store, eliminate, and build up the plethora of chemicals to which it is exposed. Many botanicals have a very specific effect of modifying these biochemical processes. Some botanicals can enhance the liver?s phase I (cytochrome P450) and phase II (glutathione conjugation) detoxification processes, promote the flow and production of bile (one means of eliminating toxins), inhibit the attachment of viruses or chemical antagonists to hepatocytes, strongly enhance the liver?s powerful antioxidant systems, or promote the regeneration of liver tissue-the liver being the only organ in the body except the skin able to regenerate itself. Many botanicals have been used historically for promoting liver health. Today, modern research is confirming these benefits while shedding light on their mechanisms of action. Following is an overview of a number of these botanicals.
Milk Thistle Silybum marianum
The extract of the seeds of milk thistle is perhaps the most well researched of all the liver supportive botanicals. Part of its benefit has been in its ability to scavenge free radicals and to stimulate the regeneration of hepatocytes. In Germany, it is the botanical extract of choice for use in supporting a healthy liver. Typically, an extract yielding a minimum of 70% silymarin (a specific class of flavonoids) is used clinically at a dose of approximately 420 mg of the extract daily (Morazzoni and Bombardelli 1995).
Schizandra Schisandra chinensis
Schizandra, known as bei wu wei zi in China, is one of the most widely used tonics of Chinese herbalism. Its original use was to support the health of the heart, kidneys and lungs and as a longevity tonic. Modern research has focused attention on its role as an adaptogen and for supporting a healthy liver. Adaptogens are substances that positively affect overall health by reducing stress mechanisms which can contribute to a number of biochemical reactions that can be detrimental to health. While the mechanism of action of adaptogens has not been definitively determined, the existing literature suggests they work endocrinologically through the pituitary and adrenals and substantially reduce the negative effects that stress has on the system (Wagner et al. 1994). In China and Japan, the modern use of schizandra has focused on its benefit in those in need of liver support. In one review of its pharmacological activity, stabilization of liver enzymes was reported in more than 5,000 people. The benefits were experienced within 20 days of administration of schizandra with 75% of patients returning to normal values (Chang and But 1986). A limited number of controlled studies similarly reported on the beneficial effects of the equivalent of 1.5 grams of schizandra for reducing elevated liver enzymes (Liu 1991). There are three primary mechanisms of action of schizandra reported with regards to its ability to support a healthy liver: 1) its ability to reduce lipid peroxidation induced by a number of different antagonists (antioxidant activity); 2) induction of hepatomicrosomal cytochrome P-450; 3) stimulation of protein biosynthesis and liver glycogen (Liu 1991). Such mechanisms make schizandra ideal as a liver-supportive botanical that is underutilized in the West.
Bupleurum Bupleurum chinense, B. falcatum
Bupleurum, also known as chai hu in China, is perhaps the most important of liver-supportive botanicals in China and Japan, and, like schizandra, is far underutilized in the United States, except by traditional Chinese herbalists. Traditionally, it has been regarded as an herb that helps to normalize the function of the liver from a traditional Chinese perspective. Modern research has identified a group of compounds known as saikosaponins that strongly support liver health (in humans and rats). Mechanisms of action specifically regarding liver health identified for bupleurum include anti-inflammatory activity, as well as its ability to stimulate the production and release of bile, thus facilitating the detoxification process (Wagner et al. 1996).
Sho-Saiko-To Minor Bupleurum
In Chinese herbalism, herbs are seldom prescribed singularly. Rather they are combined according to very sophisticated principles of formulation based on the differential diagnosis of the patient. One of the most widely used and researched botanical formulas for the health of the liver used in China and Japan is Sho-Saiko-To, known in China as Xiao Chai Hu Tang (Minor Bupleurum). This classic formula consists of the following botanicals: ginger, scutellaria, jujube, ginseng, licorice, pinellia and bupleurum. It is widely used throughout Asia for supporting liver health and currently is the subject of phase II clinical trials at Sloan Kettering. The formula with its main ingredient, bupleurum, was first introduced in Japan by Chinese Buddhist priests between the 6th and 8th centuries. Modern research suggests that Sho-Saiko-To modulates the immune response, specifically in addition to other mechanisms, by increasing levels of interleukin and interferon (Huang et al. 2001).
To the same extent that herbs are seldom used singularly in Chinese herbalism, they are similarly used within a broader context that incorporates dietary and other lifestyle changes to support the botanicals. In my clinic, I routinely recommend that patients eliminate alcohol, coffee, sugar, and refined foods from their diet and eat whole grain foods, fish, and several servings of green vegetables daily along with their herbal program. For these individuals this is a simple program to follow, and many are able to live a normal productive life with a greater level of liver health. Such a liver-supportive program must be maintained as a way of life to lessen the burden that modern society and exogenous factors put on our livers.
The herbal world offers a potential natural health care approach that focuses on protecting and restoring the health and functioning of the liver. Both traditional experience and modern investigation suggest that botanicals can play a role in world health, specifically in promoting liver health.
The use of botanicals should be used under the guidance of a qualified health care professional. The combined use of conventional and natural therapies may not be appropriate. Before attempting to combine such therapies, discuss your therapeutic options with your primary health care provider.
Chang HM, But PH. 1986. Pharmacology and applications of Chinese materia medica. World Science. Singapore. Huang et al. Semi-quantitative analysis of cytokine mRNA expression induced by the herbal medicine sho-saiko-to (TJ-9) using a gel doc system. J Clin Lab Anal 15: 199-209. Liu GT. 1991. Pharmacological actions and clinical uses of Fructus schizandrae in recent advances in Chinese herbal drugs-actions and uses. Scientific Press Beijing. Morazzoni P, Bombardelli E. 1995. Silybum marianum (Carduus marianus). Fitoterapia LXVI (1):3-42. Wagner H, Noerr N. Winterhoff K. 1994. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1: 63-76. Wagner H, Bauer R, Peigen X, Jianming C, Offermann F. 1996. Chinese Drug monographs and analysis: Radix Bupleuri (chaihu). Verlag fuer Ganzheitliche Medizin Koetzting/Bayer. Wald, Germany.
Michael Tierra, L. Ac., O.M.D., is a clinician and world-renowned author of the best-selling Way of Herbs and Planetary Herbology. As product formulator for Planetary Formulas, he draws on 30 years of clinical experience to create formulas renowned for their dependability and effectiveness.
June 14, 2005 06:26 PM
by Catherine Heusel Energy Times, October 1, 1998
Quitting a bad habit presents quite a challenge. Just ask anyone who's ever tried to give up cigarettes. Or alcohol. Or even coffee. You start out with the best of intentions but cravings can push you off the straight and narrow. The result: giving up a nasty habit often means regenerating your resolve and trying again. And again. And again. While some blame an inability to give up a bad habit on poor will power, in actuality, the tenacious chains of these habits may derive from the body as well as the mind. "People don't seem to realize the effects these substances have on the body," says Joan Mathews-Larson, Ph.D., director of the Health Recovery Center, in Minneapolis, and author of Seven Weeks to Sobriety. Dr. Mathews-Larson is one of a growing number of addiction professionals who stress physical recovery when giving up a drug, whether it's caffeine or cocaine. "You can't disrupt your internal chemistry for months or years on end and then expect your body to automatically bounce back," she says. "You have to give it some help."
Breaking Off is Hard to Do
The substances we love to overdo all share a common characteristic: they mimic or enhance the body's chemical messengers. Opiate drugs such as heroin, for example, are virtually identical to substances called endorphins, neurochemicals that the body produces to mask feelings of pain. (When an injured Kerri Strug performed her final Olympic vault, her endorphins enabled her to push past her protesting nerve endings.) Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can provide a "rush" similar to that produced by adrenaline and noradrenaline, the neurochemicals that provide the quick and excited feeling that swells down your spine during frightened or thrilling moments. On the other hand, some drugs (notably alcohol and cocaine) boost the activity of several different neurochemicals, including those that control sensations of pleasure. From a biological perspective, then, none of the drugs that people take are totally unfamiliar to the body. Your body makes similar chemicals all the time, in response to specific events and needs. "The main advantage of drugs is that they act powerfully and immediately," explains Andrew Weil, M.D., in his book, From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind Altering Drugs. "Their main disadvantage is that they reinforce the notion that the state we desire comes from something outside us."
Another serious disadvantage of drugs resides in their impact on the body's everyday neurochemical balance. Under normal circumstances, the body maintains its internal chemical environment on a fairly even keel. It may pump out oodles of adrenaline in response to a specific threat, like a near miss on the highway, but for every such scary "high" a corresponding low sets in: that rubbery-kneed sense of relief you feel when things calm down.
Over time, the body mistakes the introduction of mind-altering, foreign chemicals as an excess of its own production of neurochemicals. As a result it slows down its own manufacture of these vital substances. So when you stop drinking caffeine or other stimulating drugs, the body finds its neurochemical receptors begging for relief: Cravings raise their ugly heads while so-called withdrawal symptoms raise your discomfort level. A general sense of ill health sets in until the body's natural production of neurotransmitter production reaches an acceptable level.
Breaking a bad habit may be complicated by a lack of regenerative health habits. "A proper diet is pretty low on an addict's list of priorities," says Mathews-Larson. "Most of the people we see live on fast food and junk food." Many people trying to give up bad habits are attacked by the chemical and physical problems resulting from eating fatty foods and not exercising: their bodies are chemically and physically challenged from a poor lifestyle.
Fortunately, recovery from a bad habit can be enhanced by balancing your diet, exercising and using nutritional supplements to straighten out your interior biochemical environment.
"We target substances that are essential for maintaining optimal brain chemistry," points out Mathews-Larson. Foremost among these substances are a variety of amino acids that the body needs to rebuild its supply of neurotransmitters. In addition, nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin C are often in short supply among those who indulge in addictive drugs and alcohol.
Exercise and meditation are equally important to recovery, since both activities naturally prompt production of mood-enhancing neurochemicals. (The so-called "runner's high" is believed to result from endorphins and other neurochemicals stimulated by jogging.) More importantly, natural stimulation that pushes the body to create its own, endogenous supply of feel-good chemicals produces a longer sense of well-being than the transitory high induced by drugs and alcohol. "The potential for highs is always there, and many techniques exist for eliciting them," declares Dr. Weil. "Drug highs differ from other highs only in superficial ways."
To experienced treatment professionals such as Mathews-Larson, kicking a long-standing habit depends on learning to appreciate the natural high of good health, through an overall healthy lifestyle. "It's not enough to just stop using the substance you abused," she contends. "You have to build a high quality of life for yourself, so you can fully enjoy every day."
Recommended Reading: Seven Weeks to Sobriety, by Joan Mathews-Larson (Fawcett Books, 1997) Healing Anxiety With Herbs by Harold H. Bloomfield. (Harper Collins, 1998.)
Building the Burn
June 14, 2005 12:09 PM
Building the Burn by Marjorie Flakowitz Energy Times, June 11, 2004
When was the last time you exercised? During the past decade, the number of obese Americans has jumped by 50%. A big factor in this increase: lack of physical activity.
Today, technological society seems to make everyday life effortless: car windows retreat at the push of a button, remote controls keep couch potatoes from budging off the cushions and video games have replaced non-cyber ball playing. Americans don't move around and burn off the calories they eat. Instead, our sedentary ways are causing big stomach bulges and a big bulge in health problems linked to being overweight.
Want to lose those pounds? Consuming the right nutrients and pounding the pavement are a great start.
Number of Large Americans Grows Larger
Fifty-five out of every 100 Americans are now overweight. And the numbers continue to surge. To take yourself out of these alarming statistics, plan a consistent exercise program. If the thought of sweating during strenuous workouts at the gym scares you, relax. You don't have to do that much. According to a long list of research, a few half-hour walks a week can put you on the road to weight loss.
For instance, researchers at Duke found that walking a total of only 12 miles a week can help you control your weight even if you're not dieting (Archives of Internal Medicine 1/12/04). Of course dieting and taking the right supplements will help you lose weight a little faster, but walking burns off the pounds.
In the study at Duke, scientists gathered about 180 overweight, sedentary people and assigned them to one of four groups. The first group had to jog about 20 miles a week. The second group jogged 12 miles a week. The third group walked 12 miles, and the last group didn't do a thing.
" We found that the two low-exercise groups lost both weight and fat, while those in the more intensive group lost more of each in a 'dose-response' manner," says Cris Slentz, PhD, one of the researchers. " Simply put, the more you exercise, the more you benefit. Just as importantly, the control group of participants who performed no exercise gained weight over the period of the trial."
Everybody who was exercising lost weight; their stomachs and hips shrank. The folks who did nothing didn't just stay at the same weight; their weight went up.
Dr. Slentz adds, "From the perspective of prevention, it appears that the 30 minutes per day will keep most people from gaining the additional weight associated with inactivity. Given the increase in obesity in the US, it would seem likely that many in our society may have fallen below this minimal level of physical activity required to maintain body weight."
Of course, limiting the carbohydrates you consume and eating more protein at the same time as you exercise can help you lose weight more effectively. To help your body utilize protein more fully to fuel your exercise, many experts recommend taking enzyme supplements.
One of the most valuable enzyme combinations in this process is Aminogen(r), an all-natural, patented plant enzyme that assists the digestive tract in liberating the amino acids that are the building blocks of dietary protein. By helping separate these amino acids, absorption is boosted through the walls of the small intestines and your metabolism is better able to take up proteins and use them.
Add Chromium to Exercise
The mineral chromium is another supplement found helpful in aiding weight loss. An eight-week study at the University of Texas, Austin, compared weight loss among obese women who exercised and took chromium with the number of pounds that were lost by women performing the same amount of exercise without taking supplements (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 1997; 29:992-8).
The result: women taking chromium lost a significantly greater amount. How does chromium work? A study at the University of Vermont found that chromium may help muscles take blood sugar (glucose) out of the blood more effectively by improving what's called insulin sensitivity (18th International Diabetes Federation Congress, Paris, 8/03).
Insulin is released by the pancreas to help cells take in glucose. By exercising and keeping your weight down, and becoming more insulin sensitive, you potentially reduce your chances of getting diabetes. The cells quickly respond to insulin and blood sugar stabilizes.
On the other hand, when insulin sensitivity drops significantly, the body may suffer what's called insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic condition that complicates and slows the removal of sugar from the blood. The Vermont researchers found that chromium increases the activity of a protein called Akt phosphorylation. This is a natural substance made by the body that makes cells more sensitive to insulin and speeds the movement of blood sugar into cells, where it can be burned for energy. So, in combination with exercise, which also helps the body become more responsive to insulin, chromium may help keep blood sugar under control.
As Sandra Woodruff points out in her book Secrets of Good Carb, Low Carb Living (Avery/Penguin), "[P]hysical activity boosts the body's ability to process carbohydrate and helps reduce insulin resistance....Exercise acts much like an insulin-sensitizing drug to make the body's cells more responsive to insulin, which enables them to remove sugar from the blood more efficiently." The results of exercise and getting sufficient chromium can help support weight loss and healthy blood sugar levels. The Vermont research team found that the exercising chromium takers boosted their insulin sensitivity by almost 9%.
Building a Lean Body
A prime benefit of exercising while you lose weight is that physical activity builds muscle tissue. Muscle tissue, even at rest, burns more calories than fat cells, so having extra muscle means you can eat more and still maintain or lose weight. An aid in this process is Coleus forskohlii root, Benth., a plant that originated in India. Research shows that forskohlii furthers molecular energy processes within cells that support the development of lean body tissue (muscle) and the enzymatic reactions that break down fat.
In a study of about two dozen women who took forskohlii extract, researchers found that taking this supplement was associated with feeling more energetic and less hungry (Experimental Biology meeting, 2002). According to Vladimir Badmaev, PhD, who has studied forskohlii, this herb's help in supporting lean body tissue is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight.
" In highly overweight individuals, fat tissue can constitute up to 70% of body weight. The remaining proportion of body composition corresponds to the lean body mass. Lean body mass is composed of muscle, vital organs, bone, connective and other non-fatty tissues in the body," says Dr. Badmaev.
" The body's metabolic rate is in direct proportion to the amount of lean body mass. Therefore, safely maintaining or increasing lean body mass is an important consideration for any weight-loss strategy."
The Skinny on Calcium
Calcium, long known for its ability to strengthen bones, is now turning out to play a key role in weight maintenance as well. In one study, obese mice who were put on calorie-restricted diets lost body fat when fed extra calcium (Experimental Biology meeting 2000). Both supplemental calcium and low-fat dairy proved effective. What's more, low-fat dairy's ability to burn fat and provoke fat loss have been confirmed in additional research (Obesity Research 4/04; 12:582-90).
Fat cells contain calcium, and scientists believe that the more of this mineral a fat cell contains, the more fat will be burned off. This action is especially important when you cut back on calories, since that often gives your body the idea that it's starving, leading your metabolism to slow and making weight loss extremely difficult.
A Complete Program
To lose weight efficiently, stay in top shape and retain your feelings of energy, you also have to make sure you get enough of the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health.
For those eating a high-protein diet who are limiting their fruits and vegetables, taking a supplement that incorporates nutrients from fruits and vegetables can help restore your feelings of well-being and help maintain your motivation for dieting and losing weight. (Supplements are available that deliver these nutrients without carbohydrates.)
In addition, supplements of what are called ketogenic amino acids-the natural substances that form protein's building blocks-can also help fuel your weight-loss program. These special nutrients can be efficiently used for the body's energy needs, a process that helps you lose weight.
And don't forget to keep moving! Soon you may have the kind of results researchers produced at the University of Pittsburgh when they studied women who exercised 40 minutes, five times a week (Journal of the American Medical Association 9/10/03). Those women lost 25 pounds in six months.
Your results may be just as good or better!
Mane Attraction - lustrous Hair...
June 14, 2005 08:19 AM
Mane Attraction by Chrystle Fiedler Energy Times, February 12, 2004
Everyone wants thick, lustrous hair. Think of the allure attached to the locks of Samson and Lady Godiva and-fast-forward to the present-the full heads of Antonio Banderas and Julia Roberts.
" We're naturally attracted to hair as humans; it catches the light, it frames the face, we like the feel of it," says Catherine Jones, ND, LAc, a resident naturopathic physician at Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle, Washington. "Fair or not, historically in many cultures, rich, thick hair has been a sign of fertility and strength."
Along with that allure, latching onto natural ways to have great-looking hair gives you the benefits of looks and health. Every hair starts with a shaft that grows from a root. "The root is contained deep within the hair follicle," says Dr. Jones. "Each one has a sebaceous or oil gland, which supplies the hair with necessary lubrication as it approaches the surface of the scalp." Each hair follicle has its own growth cycle, including a resting period, the telogen phase, when hair falls out. Because of these constant hair phases, each of us loses, on average, about 100 hairs a day.
" The number of hairs the average person loses in a day tends to increase in the fall as the leaves fall from the tree and tends to decrease in the spring as the bulbs emerge from the soil," Dr. Jones says. "We really are connected to nature." Stress-due to rapid weight loss, infection, anemia, prolonged illness, hormonal changes, hypoactive thyroid disease, autoimmune conditions, eczema or psoriasis-can influence hair growth and loss.
Hair consists of proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates and pigment (gray hair has reduced pigment; white, none at all). Each shaft's structure is divided into a medulla, a cortex and an outer cuticle. " The cuticle is coated with an outside lipid-like layer, which protects the hair," says Dr. Jones. "As the hair grows out of the follicle, the cortex and cuticle become keratinized and harden." Dry or damaged hair is more susceptible to breakage. "The condition of the cuticle affects how the light reflects off the hair, giving it highlights and luster," Dr. Jones says. "Luster is affected both by what occurs inside the body as the hair is developing and what happens to the hair after it has grown from the shaft."
Sun, heat, moisture, pollution and hair products, dyes and bleaches can all dull the hair. "Applying chemical solutions to the hair, color, permanent waves or curl relaxers, damage the protein molecules that wrap around the shaft, leaving hair brittle and dull," says Christina Pirello, author of Glow: A Prescription for Radiant Health and Beauty (HP Books).
Conditioners and oils can leave a residue or weigh hair down. Hair sprays and products that contain alcohol can dry and damage the hair, as can using blow dryers and curling irons.
To combat hair-raising havoc, feed your hair natural nutrients for health. Silica and plants that contain silica/silicon both strengthen hair and promote growth. "Silica is a good mineral for hair health," says Walter Siegordner, founder of The Aurora Group, a personal care company. "It helps in the keratinization process of the cells that produce hair."
" Silica is a mineral that is involved in the synthesis of bone and connective tissue," adds Dr. Jones. "The hair follicle contains connective tissue so silica may promote the health and function of the follicle itself." Silica-containing herbs include nettles (Urtica dioica), horsetail (Equisetum arvense), oatstraw (Avena sativa) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa).
Sea plants like seaweed and kelp also provide vital nutrients. "Sea plants are essential ingredients in many natural shampoos and can be used to fortify damaged hair," says Pirello. "They're rich in vitamin A that prevents the build-up of dead skin cells, which can clog the hair follicles, inhibiting the growth and health of the hair, and also contain vitamin B, linked to the prevention of oily hair, baldness and dandruff. Calcium found in sea plants is essential to the structure of the hair shaft."
Eaten on s daily basis, sea plants are rich in nutrients that help maintain healthy, shiny hair, free of split ends, Pirello says. Try wakame in soups and salads, kombu or kelp in bean and vegetable dishes, nori in sushi, and hiziki and arame as side dishes. Since hair health is affected by digestive health, the fiber found in whole grains also helps. "Fiber prevents accumulation in the intestines that can result in the formation of toxins," says Pirello.
Miso, she adds, is especially good hair food. It "is rich in living enzymes that ease digestion, fortify the quality of the blood nourishing the body and hair, and provide us with essential oils, vitamins and minerals."
Key nutritional support includes adequate protein and amino acids, essential fatty acids such as cold-pressed flax seed oil and fish oil, copper, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, biotin, iron and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). Zinc and selenium can help combat the effects of hyperthyroidism, which can result in thinning, lackluster hair.
Vitamin C can boost adrenal health. "When the adrenals are overtaxed and become fatigued, hair follicles will go into a resting phase," says Dr. Jones. (If you have a medical condition, she adds, check with your health care practitioner first before taking supplements.)
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, hair is associated with the kidneys' qi, energy that originates in these organs, and with blood quality. " From the traditional Chinese perspective, excess amounts of fat, protein, dairy, sugar, alcohol and salt in the diet acidify the body, damage the Kidney qi and are not good for the hair," says Dr. Jones. A diet rich in vegetables and grains is a great way to support healthy hair. "Iron and mineral-rich foods are considered blood builders and hair tonics. Foods such as blackstrap molasses, seaweed, nettles, and the herb polygonum multiflorum (also known as He Shou Wu and Fo-Ti) have been used throughout the years. Fo-Ti has also been used to prevent graying of the hair and support the immune system."
" Hair is extremely strong but at the same time it's extremely delicate," says Barsoum Bouchar, a cosmetologist and owner of the Virtuoso Salon in Birmingham, Michigan. "Many products work against the hair texture, so the cuticle is always raised. This causes tangles and split ends. With blow dryers, chemicals, colors and styling elements, the hair is tremendously abused." If you don't have to chemically treat the hair, he says, don't.
When replenishing the hair it's important to remember that it's composed of 97% protein and 3% moisture, says Bouchar. Shampoo cleanses the hair and removes buildup. "A moisturizer brings moisture back into the hair and smoothes the cuticle down, which is what makes hair shiny and gives it bounce. The one key ingredient in both shampoo and moisturizers is aloe vera. It heals the hair." " Avoid products with harsh surfactants like sodium laurel sulfate and propylene glycol," warns Siegordner. "These decrease the circulation in the scalp, reducing the pathway for nutrition to the hair bulb." Conditioners that aren't natural can also cause build-up. "When you apply heat to the hair through blow drying or styling, you end up 'burning' the hair," says Bouchar.
To stimulate hair growth, add a few drops of essential oils of rosemary, lavender and thyme to jojoba and almond oils, and rub into the scalp. Leave it overnight and then rinse it off. " Essential oils have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, stimulate the circulation to the hair follicles and combat dryness. They also smell good," says Dr. Jones.
For hair that's not chemically treated, "a vinegar rinse cleanses the hair, removes build-up and boosts shine," says Bouchar. Use one part vinegar to ten parts water, apply after a shampoo, comb though and rinse it off. To naturally lighten the hair, use the same ratio in a lemon rinse for five minutes for, say, four days in a row, and then stop.
If you want to color your hair, choose natural elements, too. "The best natural dye is henna," says Bouchar. "It's organic, just like hair is." Blonde hair becomes warmer with a coppery tone, brunette hair takes on a mahogany hue, gray hair looks like highlights.
To find a good natural hair stylist, Bouchar suggests asking which products they use and why. If your hair is chemically treated, it's especially important to work with a stylist you trust for the best care.
Keep your eye on the big picture when it comes to hair health. "Be proactive and treat the body holistically," urges Dr. Jones. "Nourish the glands, the organs and the vessels that are responsible for getting the necessary nutrients to the hair follicle. Pay attention to the physical, emotional and mental aspects of health. Once hair is lost it may come back but it will likely be thinner than it was before. It's important to take care of what you have."
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.
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.
What the Medicine Men Knew
June 12, 2005 02:17 PM
What the Medicine Men Knew by Phyllis D. Light, RH, AHG Energy Times, August 4, 2003
When Europeans first landed on the shores of North America, they were greeted by Native Americans who were healthy and strong, tall and straight-boned, and who generally lived to a ripe old age. Curious and friendly, the Native Americans showed the newcomers how to harvest wild foods and grow suitable crops, and also demonstrated the medicinal use of herbs. The North American indigenous medical traditions evolved into an effective system during its long history, estimated at between 12,000 and 40,000 years. So, herbally, we owe a huge debt to the Native American willingness to share knowledge of North American plants. Many of the herbs sitting on the shelves of natural food stores today were originally found in the medicinal arsenal of Native Americans, including black cohosh, echinacea, goldenseal, pleurisy root, sarsaparilla, red root, black walnut, gravel root and American ginseng.
Unique Healing Traditions
The number of Native tribes in the United States is estimated at about 500, and each possesses a unique set of healing traditions. While the term "Native American medicine" does not describe a homogenous system of healing, common, underlying principles can be discerned in many of these tribal traditions. Most often, these healing traditions and practices have been handed down in a rich oral tradition from practitioner to practitioner, rarely finding their way into written descriptions.
For instance, according to David Winston, a Cherokee medicine priest and herbalist living in New Jersey, "Cherokee medicine is based on connection-body, mind, spirit, family, community and God/Spirit. The Cherokee word for medicine, Nvowti, means 'power.' Anything that has power-water, ceremony, songs, stories, herbs-is medicine."
On the other hand, Charles Alexander Eastman, PhD (Indian name: Ohiyesa), comments in his book, The Soul of an Indian, "The Sioux word for the healing art is wah-pee-yah, which literally means 'readjusting or making anew.' Pay-jee-hoo-tah, literally 'root,' means medicine, and wakan signifies 'spirit' or 'mystery.' Thus the three ideas, while sometimes associated, were carefully distinguished."
Native American healing philosophy advocates a customized treatment plan for each person's unique health problems.
Consequently, healing techniques focus on the individual, not the disease, although the overall treatment may incorporate well-known ways for relieving the specific discomforts, aches and pains associated with an illness. Native healers employ herbs, ceremony, song and prayer in a manner tailored to each person they treat.
A central tenet in many Native American healing traditions is the need to sweat. As a result, Inipi, or Lakota sweat lodges, are located in most areas of the country. Sweating produces many benefits. It opens pores, cleanses the skin, enhances circulation, discourages the growth of bacteria in the body and functions as a detoxification outlet.
The skin is well-suited for the elimination of toxins: Experts estimate that during everyday functioning, 30% of the body's wastes pass through the skin. For the Native American, the sweat lodge offers spiritual help as well as physical aid. And the use of sweating is generally not employed as the only treatment but is always accompanied by other therapies such as herbs.
Native Americans are not alone in their reverence for using sweating to treat disease. A technique for sweating is fundamental to most traditional medicines, including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Native American Herbs
For native healers, herbs offer physical, emotional and spiritual support. In this tradition, herbs are consumed in teas, tablets or capsules, or are inhaled after being thrown onto the hot stones in a sweat lodge or otherwise burned to release their vapor. Smudging, a ritualized method for bathing a person or object with the smoke from sacred herbs such as sweet grass, sage or cedar, is a way of cleansing individuals, clearing a ritual space or sanctifying ceremonial tools. Each herb in the smudging process is used for a specific reason. Sweet grass grows the spirit, while sage and cedar dispel negativity. Frequently, herbs are taken as preparation for participation in rituals. "Sweet leaf is used as a tea before the sweat lodge ceremony in some Indian communities in South Dakota," notes Matthew Wood, RH, AHG, author of The Book of Herbal Wisdom (North Atlantic Books). "It promotes perspiration, relaxes the nerves, reduces tension and brings harmony and beauty to the participants."
The idea that everything in the universe, including people, is connected is a philosophy shared by many tribes.
When a medicine person assesses an illness, she not only observes physical problems but also analyzes family and community dynamics. A person's relationship with God is believed to influence health. In this vein, prayers like Mitakuye Oyasin, a Lakota blessing that means "all my relations," appeals to the interconnectedness of each of us with other people, with the Earth, and with God.
"Separation and isolation is one of the leading causes of illness," David Winston says. "There is a connection between everything-within ourselves and outside of ourselves. When we isolate and separate ourselves from our family, our community and from God/Spirit, then we suffer diseases of the spirit. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own spirits-to keep them healthy.
"In addition," adds Winston, "from the Cherokee viewpoint, the nuclear family is seen as too small. There are too many single parents working too hard and under too much stress." In a Native American clan-based society, much of this stress is defused with the support of an extended family.
Kinship philosophy is a basic part of the Native perspective, a kinship that extends beyond humans to all life, including animals, fish, and birds as well as the Earth itself. Consequently, care of the Earth is an integral part of kinship philosophy. Indigenous cultures have very specific knowledge of ecology and environmental ethics. In the kinship philosophy, damage done by man to the Earth is then reflected back in the body of man by diseases of the body and spirit. Man and his illnesses are seen as part of the ecology of the planet, not a separate, isolated force with the power to control.
Modern Ills, Ancient Treatments
Winston believes that Cherokee medicine offers the greatest aid to people with chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and some female reproductive complaints, as well as individuals with stress-related disorders. It can also offer aid to those who are depressed and feel alienated or disconnected from society.
Native American medicine can offer balance and healing. It can be used in conjunction with Western medicine, providing a holistic and individualized treatments. To find a Native American healer, check with your local tribal community. Mitakuye Oyasin.
Bone Power - Natures Plus
June 11, 2005 04:41 PM
Bone Power by no author Energy Times, May 1, 1997
Patricia Q. stopped smoking 20 years ago. At 61, she is active, tries to exercise regularly, eats properly and takes a multivitamin. Most would consider Patricia's lifestyle a sufficient safeguard against the diseases of aging. But one debilitating possibility still concerns her: Osteoporosis-bone thinning. She worries that her bones may have begun weakening almost a decade ago. Although her good health habits can slow the demineralization of her bones, osteoporosis may still take its toll. And as her neck and back begin to obviously round, a possible sign of bone weakness, Patricia frets about her future.
The weakening of bones brought on by age makes them more prone to fracture. One of every two women older than age 50 suffers an osteoporosis-related fracture during her lifetime. Osteoporosis literally means "porous bones," bones that deteriorate and particularly increase the risk of damage to the hip, spine and wrist. In extreme cases, everyday activities assume danger: fractures can result from simply lifting a bag of groceries or from what would otherwise be a minor fall. Some women, fearful of fractures, eliminate many seemingly innocuous activities from their daily lives. Their fear is well founded. Complications from these fractures are a major killer of women.
As women grow older, the risk grows, too. Ten million individuals already have the disease, and 18 million have low bone mass, placing them at risk for osteoporosis.
But research shows that osteoporosis may be preventable and controllable. Regardless of age, eating right, getting enough calcium and performing weight-bearing exercises, can lower your risk for this disease.
Understanding Your Bones
Bones are not static structures but living tissue constantly reformed in a process called remodeling. Every day old bone is removed and replaced with new bone tissue. When more bone is broken down than is replaced (demineralization), bones weaken. When the structure loses sufficient density, you face eminent danger of a fracture.
Generally speaking, bones continue to increase their density and calcium content until you reach your 30s, at which point you probably have attained your peak bone mass. Afterward you may either maintain this mass or begin to lose calcium yearly, but you rarely can increase bone density. The loss of bone density can increase at menopause, when your body ceases producing estrogen, a hormone required to improve bone strength. In addition, some medications, used for a long period, compromise bone density.
Stop Calcium Loss
Eating a diet rich in nutrients that help your bones stay strong should be the first step in stopping or slowing the process of osteoporosis. Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, phosphorus, soy-based foods and fluoride compose the major nutrients that strengthen bone.
At this moment, 98 percent of your body's calcium resides in your bones, the rest circulates in the blood, taking part in metabolic functions. Because the body cannot manufacture calcium, you must eat calcium in your daily diet to replace the amounts that are constantly lost. When the diet lacks sufficient calcium to replace the amount that is excreted, the body begins to break down bone for the calcium necessary for life-preserving metabolic processes.
Calcium in the diet can generally slow calcium loss from bones, but it usually doesn't seem to replace calcium already gone. The National Institutes of Health recommend 1000-1200 milligrams of dietary calcium per day for premenopausal women and 1200-1500 milligrams for menopausal and postmenopausal women
Good sources of calcium include milk and milk products, yogurt, ricotta, cheese, oysters, salmon, collard greens, spinach, ice cream, cottage cheese, kale, broccoli and oranges.
If you cannot tolerate dairy products, calcium supplements are an easy way to consume calcium. Take supplements with a meal to aid absorption of calcium from the stomach.
In Total Health for Women, Dr. Kendra Kale, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, urges women to read supplement labels. Scrutinize the fine print to see how many grams are considered "elemental"or "bioavailable"-the form of calcium your body will absorb. If you're taking a 750 milligram supplement, chances are only 300 milligrams are elemental. You should also check that the pill will dissolve within 30 minutes and meets the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) standards. If tablets do not break down within 30 minutes, they may pass through you unabsorbed and you won't digest the calcium from them that you need.
Absorbing calcium from your digestive tract also requires the presence of vitamin D. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure daily usually satisfies vitamin D requirements since most people's bodies can use sunlight to manufacture this substance. So walking to work, or going outside for lunch should supply sufficient ultraviolet light to facilitate calcium absorption.
As we age, however, our body's ability to produce vitamin D gradually diminishes. Our diets can make up the difference: Good dietary sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, liver and fish or nutritional supplements. Many foods, like milk, are supplemented with vitamin D.
Magnesium is another mineral that helps to build bones. Found in leafy, green vegetables, nuts, soybeans, seeds and whole grains, your daily requirement of magnesium should be about half of your calcium intake.
Absorbing calcium for bone health also requires phosphorus, but be careful not to get too much of a good thing: excess phosphorus can actually increase your body's need for calcium. This can present a problem for people who drink bottle after bottle of cola soft drinks or who eat an abundance of processed foods which are often high in phosphorus.
New Soy Research
New research suggests that soy foods, like tofu or soy milk may be vital for preserving bones. A study of more than 60 postmenopausal women who consumed either diets rich in soy's isoflavones or milk protein found that eating soy restored calcium to some of the women's bones. Even though the researchers didn't think such a replacement due to soy was even possible!
The researchers at the University of Illinois believe that isoflavones behave in the body in some of the same ways that estrogen does. The study measured bone density at the lumbar spine, a part of the body at the small of the back that is liable to fractures due to osteoporosis.
Fluoride: Not Just For Teeth
Although most people associate the mineral fluoride with strong teeth, fluoride is just as important for bone strength. Surveys report that osteoporosis is reportedly less common in communities that drink fluoridated water. Fluoride combines with calcium in the bones to slow mineral loss after mid-life. Good sources of this mineral include fish, tea and most animal foods.
Cut Back on Alcohol and Coffee
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, consuming lots of caffeine is thought to increase the calcium excreted in your urine. In addition, high levels of protein and sodium in your diet are also believed to increase calcium excretion. And although more studies of protein and sodium are needed to precisely determine how these substances influence calcium loss you should limit the caffeine, protein and salt you take in.
On top of those findings, researchers say that the diuretic action of alcohol and caffeine speed skeletal calcium loss. They believe alcohol may interfere with intestinal absorption of calcium.
Along with a bone-friendly diet, your exercise program should also be designed to preserve bone. Weight-bearing exercise-exercise that places stress on the bones-strengthens bone density and wards off osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises include weight lifting, walking, jogging and jumping rope.
Exercise possesses many benefits for preserving bone, according to Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., author of Strong Women Stay Young. Among them: exercise can help you retain the balance necessary to resist falls and strengthen the muscles that keep you erect. Studies performed on women of all ages found that by doing strength training exercises two times a week for a year, without use of estrogen or hormone replacement therapy (HRT), women, on average, added three pounds of muscle and lost three pounds of fat. They were also 75 percent stronger with improved balance and bone density.
Although strength training can be performed by anyone at any age, Nelson recommends that if you have an unstable medical condition or if you have recently undergone surgery, wait until you recover and speak with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you have not exercised in a long time, consult a health practitioner knowledgeable in sports medicine before beginning an exercise program.
Drug therapies are now available to combat osteoporosis. One of the most popular is HRT, which supplies estrogen to women undergoing menopause. However, medical experts are still arguing over HRT 's possible role in increasing your risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer.
According to Jan Rattner-Heilman, co-author of Estrogen, the Facts Can Change Your Life, the conflicting studies that balance the benefits and risk of HRT are bound to confuse the average consumer. Estrogen is recommended to prevent bone loss and forestall heart disease and possibly Alzheimer's disease. Most women take estrogen to ease the discomforts of menopause such as hot flashes, and many experts do not believe that it unduly increases the risk of breast cancer for those at low risk.
Heilman warns, however, that estrogen probably should not be taken by women especially at risk for breast cancer risk or those who are already suffer the disease.
Patricia Q. is reluctant to try HRT. "I'm at risk for breast cancer-my mother had it-so I won't take estrogen. I'd rather do what I can without medications. My preference is to watch my diet and exercise as much as I can. That gives me my best chance to avoid osteoporosis."
Doctor Nelson agrees with this perspective She believes that exercise possesses enough benefits to make it the treatment of choice. "The difference between estrogen and strength training is that strength training has a huge spillover effect; you aren't just decreasing one type of disease. You become stronger with more muscles and less fat, and you become more fit. This decreases your chances for many types of diseases, not just osteoporosis. It can decrease risks for heart disease, diabetes, sleep disturbances, hypertension and more."
If you believe you are at risk for osteoporosis, ask your doctor about the benefits of bone mineral density screening. DEXA scan (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) measures the bone density in a 15-minute test. But the test is expensive: the cost of this test ranges from $75-200 or more and may not be covered by your health insurance. But financial help may be on the way. A Bone Mass Standardization Act has been introduced in Congress to ensure that the cost of bone mass measurement is covered under Medicare and that standards for coverage are clear and consistent for anyone with medical insurance.
Fighting Osteoporosis at Different Ages
Childbearing years (30-40): These years are particularly important for preserving bone through exercise and good nutrition. Eat plenty of low-fat dairy products, vegetables and soy. Perform weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging and weight lifting to attain the greatest amount of bone and muscle possible. Being active reduces risk of injury and makes you stronger. If you smoke, now's the time to stop.
Menopausal years (late 40s-50s): During this time, muscle, bone and estrogen decreases. Minimize loss through diet, walking and weight lifting. Your exercise intensity may have to be decreased but you should not stop being physically active.
Post Menopause (over 60): Focus on reducing your risk of falling. Minimize balance problems and increase muscle strength through exercise.
Thanks for the Memory
June 11, 2005 03:49 PM
Thanks for the Memory by Estelle Sobel , February 6, 2002
Thanks for the Memory By Estelle Sobel
"I feel like every day, I lose my memory more and more. It started when I couldn't find my car keys, sometimes I forget directions. My mother has Alzheimer's so I'm concerned," says Jerry Solowitz, a 63 year old man.
Ellen Lerner, 37, sometimes worries that she can't keep track of everything in her job as a public relations executive. "I feel like stress can get to me easily, and I worry because I forget simple things like where I put a file."
Should these people be concerned?
"Yes," says Lynda Toth, Ph.D., co-author with Pavel Yutsis, M.D., of Why Can't I Remember? Reversing Memory Loss (Avery, 1999).
Jerry should start a specific program with a health practitioner who specializes in memory loss, due to lots of unsuspected new causes for memory dysfunction. Ellen needs to make lifestyle changes, as stress can definitely lead to memory loss.
"Cortisol, which is one of the stress hormones, can be harmful because it keeps calcium in the memory pathway too long and destroys the neurons, which is very damaging to the brain," notes Toth.
Why Does Memory Fail?
Memory fails for several reasons, says Augustine DiGiovanna, M.D., author of Human Aging: Biological Perspectives, (McGraw-Hill 2000), and Professor of Biology at Salisbury State University in Salisbury, MD.
Normal Aging: Much of diminished memory as we age is due to reduced blood flow to the brain from atherosclerosis, which is hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Decreased blood flow causes neurons to shrink and function less effectively.
Also, as we age we lose neurons and neuron connections that can lead to memory loss. So the way people think, how much they remember, and the mental activities they do determine how many brain cells survive through the years.
Finally, as people live longer, the chance is greater that the body's immune system and other defense mechanisms won't be able to protect against certain diseases that affect the brain and memory (Parkinson's, strokes, Alzheimers, atherosclerosis).
A Starving Brain: The brain is not getting fed the nutrients it needs (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, glucose). Without the right "food" the brain's energy levels become lowered and stop powering the memory cells. Then, free radicals can do more dirty work and continue to rust memory cells.
Drink And Sink: Alcohol passes through the blood-brain barrier and slows down the processing of information between memory neurons. Memory loss increases over time, as memory tissues shrink.
Sad Stories: Depression can imbalance the neurotransmitters and electrical charges of neurons.
Tense and Tight: High blood pressure can constrict and narrow blood vessels, limiting blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
One way to boost brain power is to take the right supplements.
Ginkgo biloba: The powerful medicinal herb ginkgo biloba increases blood flow and circulation to the head by dilating blood vessels in the brain, allowing more oxygenated blood to get to the neurons. It also protects against free radical damage.
Research: Ginkgo biloba extract displayed a significant effect on helping the mental abilities of people 50-59 years old (Phytotherapy Research 13, 1999: 408-415).
Pregnenolone: This powerful hormone regulates the balance between excitation and inhibition in the nervous system and helps enhance memory and brain function, possibly by repairing a fatty substance that is part of the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve cells. Research: A St. Louis University School of Medicine study on mice showed that pregnenolone enhanced memory and helped mice to navigate mazes better.
Huperzine A: This herbal supplement is derived from club moss found in China; in purified form it inhibits the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that you need for memory.
Research: Studies conducted by Alan Mazurek, M.D., found that huperzine A in purified form improves memory, enhances focus and concentration and has been used to improve memory loss in Alzheimer's patients (Alt. Ther. in Health Med. 5 , March 1999: 97-98).
Another study in The Journal of Neuroscience Research showed that huperzine A is a potent inhibitor of cholinesterase, which penetrates the brain and produces a dose-dependent increase of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, norepinephrine and dopamine in rat cortex (41, 1995: 828-835).
Phosphatidylserine (PS): This substance, which occurs naturally in nerve cell membranes, helps keep fatty substances soluble and cell membranes fluid and helps reduce levels of cortisone which are damaging to tissues.
Research: Phosphatidylserine encourages a sense of calm by raising the levels of alpha brain waves and increasing the production of acetylcholine (Neuropsychobiology 24, 1990-1991: 42-48).
Vitamin E: This potent antioxidant attaches to bad cholesterol and helps prevent free radical damage to cells.
Research: Age-related processes like memory function and problem solving can be affected by free radical damage. Several studies show that vitamin E might slow the effects of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease (JAMA 282, August 18, 1999: 621). Acetyl-l-carnitine: Increases cognitive performance because it rejuvenates cellular membranes of mitochondria, the storehouses of energy contained in every living cell.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Preserves memory tissue by increasing glutathione levels, which protect fat stores in neurons from being damaged.
Nine Ways to Remember
Dr. Lynda Toth suggests the following ways to make the most of what you've now got.
1) Power Up Your Smile. Remove dental fillings and replace them with porcelain or ceramic ones. The mercury in metal fillings may be harmful (some believe) and can affect the brain and nervous system, inflaming memory tissue and preventing the entry of nutrients into the cells.
2) Don't Be a Tin Man/Woman Avoid exposure to aluminum. Don't use aluminum pots to cook in. Aluminum accumulates in memory tissue, damaging cells. In fact, autopsies of Alzheimers patients show they have unusually huge amounts of aluminum in the brain. But no one knows where this aluminum comes from.
3) Eat Right. Eat organic and pesticide-free foods. Pesticides get into the cells and can damage DNA.
4) A Matter of Taste. Avoid foods with artificial coloring, monosodium glutamate (MSG, often called "natural flavors" or "natural seasoning"). Also avoid processed foods with taste enhancers called exito toxins such as l-cysteine and aspartic acid.
5) In the Raw. Make sure that your diet consists of enzyme-rich 50% raw foods (fruits and vegetables) to feed the brain. Eat less animal fats.
* Drink green juices to support levels of the brain's clean-up enzymes.
*Eat lots of fiber, which helps remove toxins from the body. Pick up psyllium fiber.
*Limit intake of processed sugar, caffeine and alcohol to lessen the load on the liver and pancreas.
6) Cut Bait. Watch the fish that you eat. Lots of ocean and inland-caught fish are contaminated with mercury. Go for deep, cold water fish such as cod. Avoid shark and swordfish.
7). Oil Up. Supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids, such as cod liver oil or flaxseed oil. These fats lubricate memory cells.
8) Work That Body. Stay fit and exercise. Exercise helps oxygenate the body, reduces cholesterol, and builds and energizes new memory cells which reduces wear and tear on the brain function.
9) Do Mind Games. Read, listen to music. Tune into different radio stations than the ones you normally listen to. Do crossword puzzles and a wide selection of word games which can stretch your brain and give it a tough workout.
Student of Life
You need to keep learning your whole life to keep your brain and memory in tip top shape. The brain is adaptable, and you are always building new neurons, says Dr. Toth, which means that there is no limit to how long it can develop. Anything that stimulates the brain will help it to grow. That's why as you get older it's even more important to take classes, start a new hobby, travel. In fact, the challenge of learning and doing new things (without stopping in a fit of frustration) causes your brain to grow, says Dr. Mazurek.
The Good News
As people get older, their brains may actually improve and repair themselves through a complicated process that is designed to eliminate faulty neurons that are prone to making mistakes. At the same time, brain activity goes on that results in the development of new and improved connections with neighboring neurons.
Research also shows that memory improves if you train people to have faith in themselves. (The brain helps those who help themselves.) Apparently, a confident perspective can encourage the brain to actually improve to the point where its new-found abilities may increase to the point where it fulfills expectations.
So keep your chin up and stay away from the artery-clogging saturated fat that can cut off the brain's blood supply. It's all in the attitude, says Dr. DiGiovanna. And, of course, the key to a long and happy life with your brain is also on the end of your fork and in that bottle of supplements.
Estelle Sobel, is the co-author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman's Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age (Adams Media, May 2000).
Herbs in Perspective
June 10, 2005 10:25 PM
Herbs in Perspective by Phyllis D. Light, RH-AHG Energy Times, June 16, 2004
"I don't claim a cure...I just try to give people some ease," noted Tommie Bass, a traditional Southern herbalist whose life has been the topic of several books, including Mountain Medicine by Darryl Patton (Natural Reader Press) and Trying to Give Ease by John Crellin and Jane Philpott (Duke University Press). That philosophy reflects the perspective embraced by herbalists for eons.
The traditional use of herbs is incorporated into all cultures. Herbs were the first medicine and the origin of what we now call modern medicine. These plants have not been prescribed to conquer specific illnesses but instead nourish the body and aid in building overall health.
Observation, psychological need and human instinct form the foundation of traditional herbal knowledge and use. This knowledge has been passed down through generations based on practice and experience. The result: a depth of information about the safe and effective use of herbs that spans thousands of years.
The goal of a traditional herbalist is to bring the body into balance (homeostasis), prevent disease and support immune functioning. Unfortunately, any kind of therapeutic knowledge can be misused, and that has happened with some herbs, causing some people to question herbal medicine's safety.
As more people turn to natural therapies, scientists have begun to perform evidence-based research into their safe and effective use. The good news is that much of this research has validated the effectiveness of herbs and supplements.
Echinacea to the Rescue
Do the sniffling sneezes that herald a cold have you reaching for your bottle of echinacea? If so, you are in good company. Echinacea (Echinacea spp) is one of the top-selling herbs.
The colorful American prairie plant was extremely popular during the early 1900s, until the use of modern antibiotics relegated it to the back shelf. But a resurgence of interest in herbs propelled echinacea back into the mainstream in the second half of the twentieth century. And this herb boasts an impressive body of research and has an excellent record of safety.
For instance, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy have found echinacea to be effective in supporting the body's defenses against upper respiratory tract infections and for reducing the duration of discomforts that accompany the common cold (Pharmacotherapy 2000; 20(6):690-7).
Although studies have not confirmed its ability to prevent colds, echinacea is widely used by many folks for just that purpose. Researchers have found that echinacea's effectiveness may drop if you use it for eight straight weeks (Am J Health-Syst Pharm 1999; 56(2):121-2). So if you take it for a couple of months, take a couple of weeks off before using it again.
St. John's wort is another herb with ancient origins that has experienced a modern resurgence. Named after St. John the Baptist, St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is generally in bright yellow bloom around St. John's Day (June 26). According to herbalist Michael Tierra, author of The Way of Herbs (Pocket Books), St. John's wort affects the liver and the nervous system. In 1984, the German Commission E, a recognized herbal authority, approved St. John's for depressive disorders, and in topical form for acute injuries and first-degree burns.
Modern research has reaffirmed the use of St. John's wort in the short-term treatment of mild to moderate depression (Cochrane Review Issue 2, 2004). It has also been found to be useful in premenstrual depression (Int J Psy Med 2003; 33(3):295-7). (Researchers have found that the herb may alter how the body processes some prescription medications, so check with your healthcare provider before using such medicines along with St. John's wort.)
King of Herbs
" Ginseng (Panax) received the lofty title, King of Herbs, due to its reputation as a tonic and its ability to stimulate the body into healing," notes herbalism writer Darryl Patton. This plant was once so popular in China that it was worth its weight in gold.
In fact, ginseng is the popular name for two different types of ginseng, American and Korean (Panax quinquefolium and P. ginseng). Both are considered adaptogens, or substances that help the body deal with stress more effectively. And modern research has found that ginseng can be used to improve overall energy and vitality, and to help the body deal more effectively with chronic stress (J Pharm Sci 2003 Dec: 93(4):458-64).
Researchers have found that ginseng helps boost the immune system (J Med Food 2004 Spring; 7(1):1-6). This ancient herb is also a powerful antioxidant that confers protection on the heart (Biochem Biophys Acta 2004 Feb 24; 1670(3):165-71). In other studies, ginseng has been found to reduce symptoms of menopause, improve endurance and lower blood sugar levels. To avoid overharvesting wild ginseng, most of the herb on the market is now grown on farms.
Ode to Ginkgo
Known as the Living Fossil, ginkgo is the oldest known plant in the world. A native of Asia, ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is now found in many US cities, where it has been planted as a quick-growing shade tree. Traditionally, ginkgo was used for disorders and diseases of the lungs and the kidneys, as a remedy for bronchitis and to improve circulation in older people.
Ginkgo contains substances that act as potent antioxidants by scavenging cell-damaging free radicals, and it is thought to help reduce the risk of disease. By opening capillaries, ginkgo increases circulation, and enables nutrients and oxygen to move around the body, especially to the extremities.
Indeed, recent research indicates that ginkgo may ease pain associated with arterial disease in the legs (Am J Med 2000; 108:276-81). Other studies support the use of ginkgo for acute stress (J Pharm Sci 2003 Dec; 93(4):458-64) and some cases of hearing loss (Acta Otolaryngol 2001; 121:579-84).
In a UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute study on ginkgo, researchers found significant improvement in the verbal recall of people who had age-related memory problems. According to Dr. Linda Ercoli, lead author of the study, "Our findings suggest intriguing avenues for future study...with a larger sample to better measure and understand the impact of ginkgo on brain metabolism."
Traditionally, fiery ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, relieve gas, reduce symptoms of arthritis and strengthen the heart. Modern researchers have started to validate these traditional uses; ginger has reduced the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness in studies (Aust NZJ Obstet Gynaecol 2003 Apr; 4392:139-44).
Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Minnesota have applied for a patent on a substance found in ginger, believing it to have anticancer activity. According to Ann Bode, "Plants of the ginger family have been credited with therapeutic and preventive powers and have been reported to have anticancer activity."
Ginger can be found in natural food stores as fresh or dried root. It often appears in small amounts in herbal formulas as a carrier herb-one that helps move other herbs around the body.
The best medicine combines the health support of herbs with the scientific rigor of conventional medicine. And as scientists continue to search for new medicine from ancient remedies, we can enjoy the best of both perspectives.
June 10, 2005 09:44 PM
Breast Cancer by Joseph L. Mayo,MD Mary Ann Mayo, MA Energy Times, May 2, 1999
What do you fear most? Bankruptcy? Floods? Heart disease? If you're like many women, breast cancer stands near the top of that dreaded list.
But that fear doesn't permeate other cultures the way it does ours.
A woman like Mariko Mori, for instance, 52 years old, Japanese, worries about intense pressures beginning to burden her toddler grandson. But worry about breast cancer? Hardly.
In Indiana, Mary Lou Marks, 50, has similar family frets, mulling over her 28-year-old daughter's career choice.
But on top of that, when Mary Lou tabulates her other worries, she recoils at the thought of breast cancer. She's heard about her lifetime risk: 1 in 8. Meanwhile, Mariko's is merely 1 in 40, according to Bob Arnot's Breast Cancer Prevention Diet (Little, Brown).
New studies have found the effect of carrying the gene linked to breast cancer, which is responsible for only 5 to 10% of breast cancer incidence, is not as great as first suspected. Earlier estimates that the gene reflects an 80% chance of incurring breast cancer by age 70 has been recalculated to be only 37% (The Lancet, 1998;352:1337-1339).
Complex Causesbr> Researchers agree: No one factor is solely responsible for breast cancer. Risk depends on many factors, including diet, weight, smoking, alcohol consumption, activity level and, of course, those genes.
Regardless of their actual chance of getting breast cancer, women worry. Mary Lou faces no factors that would place her in particular jeopardy. But her anxieties about radical therapies and medical expenses paralyze her: She forgets to visit her health care provider and skips her annual mammogram appointments. Mary Lou's daughter, perhaps in reaction to her mother's gripping fears, campaigns ardently for cancer prevention, educating herself and mobilizing against the cumulative effects of known cancer risks. Smart young woman: A malignancy, after all, can take years to develop. A tumor must swell to one billion cells before it is detectable by a mammogram.
The soy-rich regimen of Japanese women like Mariko Mori, for example, helps to explain the low breast cancer rates in Asian countries (see box at center of the page).
Tomatoes, because of their high quotient of the carotenoid lycopene, have been found to protect cells from the corrosive clutches of oxidants that have been linked with cancer in 57 out of 72 studies (The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, February 17, 1999, page A6, reporting on a Harvard Medical School study). For more on tomatoes see page 16.
But there's no one magic anti-cancer food or diet. Eating to prevent breast cancer requires a balanced menu with fiber, healthy fats, phytoestrogens and antioxidants, all fresh and free of chemical additives.
Modifying the balance and type of estrogen, the female sex hormone produced by the ovaries, offers an important breast cancer safeguard. Fat cells, adrenal glands and, before menopause, the ovaries, produce three "flavors" of estrogen, the strongest of which, estradiol, is believed to be carcinogenic when too plentiful or persistent in the body.
Estrogen does its work by attaching to estrogen receptors. Receptors are particularly numerous in the epithelial cells that line milk sacs and ducts in the breasts.
A receptor site is like a designated parking spot: Once estrogen is parked there it triggers one of its 400 functions in the body, from preparation of the uterus for pregnancy to intensifying nerve synapses in the brain.
The food we eat can be a source of estrogen; plant estrogens, called phytoestrogens, are much weaker than the body's estrogens, but they fit the same receptors. Phytoestrogens exert a milder estrogenic effect than bodily estrogen and are capable of blocking the more potent, damaging versions.
Soy also contains genistein, an "isoflavone" very similar in molecular form to estrogen but only 1/100,000 as potent. Because of its structure, genistein can attach to cells just as estrogen does; it also helps build carriers needed for binding estrogen and removing it from the body (Journal of Nutrition 125, no.3 :757S-770S). It acts as an antioxidant to counteract free radicals.
Soy is most protective for younger women. Postmenopausal women benefit from soy's ability to diminish hot flashes and for cardiovascular protection, especially in combination with vitamin E, fiber and carotene (Contemporary OB/GYN, September 1998, p57-58).
Experts don't know that much about the cumulative effect of combining hormone replacement with soy, herbs and a diet high in phytoestrogens. Menopausal women who boost their estrogen this way should work with their health care providers and monitor their hormonal levels every six to 12 months with salivary testing.
The Vegetable Cart
Fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains reduces insulin levels and suppresses the appetite by making make us feel full, thus helping with weight control, so important to resisting cancer. Fiber also helps build estrogen carriers that keep unbound estrogen from being recirculated and reattached to the breast receptors.
Cellulose, the fruit and vegetable fiber most binding with estrogen, also rounds up free radicals that damage DNA within cells.,p> Feeding the Immune System Despite heightened public awareness and efforts to stick to wholesome, healthful diets, experts increasingly link poor nutrition to depressed immune systems. Many Americans are at least marginally deficient in trace elements and vitamins despite their best attempts to eat well; that's why a good multivitamin/mineral is wise, even mandatory. Vitamins given to people undergoing cancer treatment stimulate greater response, fewer side effects, and increased survival (International Journal of Integrative Medicine, vol. 1, no. 1, January/February 1999).
Nutrients tend to work synergistically on the immune system. They should be taken in balanced proportions, and in consultation with your health care provider.
n Riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), pantothenic acid (B5), zinc and folate strengthen immunity. Selenium, in lab culture and animal studies, has helped kill tumors and protect normal tissues.
n Beta-carotene and vitamins A, E and C are antioxidants. Vitamin C enhances vitamin E's effects, boosting immunity and protecting against cell damage. The antioxidant isoflavones in green tea, with soy, convey the anticancer effects of the Asian diet. Research shows actions that discourage tumors and gene mutations.
The food you eat influences hormones. Excess sugar raises insulin, which acts as a growth factor for cancer and interferes with vitamin C's stimulation of white blood cells. It may contribute to obesity.
Alcohol is converted to acetaldehyde, which causes cancer in laboratory animals. It affects gene regulation by decreasing the body's ability to use folic acid. It increases estrogen and the amount of free estradiol in the blood. The liver damage that accompanies high alcohol consumption frequently reduces its capacity to filter carcinogenic products, regulate hormones and break down estrogen. Studies of alcohol consumption have caused experts to estimate that drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day increases breast cancer risk by 63% (OB-GYN News, November 1, 1998, p. 12).
Fat Can be Phat
Fat cells produce estrogen. Excess fat stores carcinogens and limits carriers that can move estrogen out of your system.
Once estrogen has attached itself to a receptor, the health result depends on the type of fat in the breast. Saturated fat, transfatty acids and omega-6 fat from polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as safflower oil, peanut, soybean oil, corn oil and in margarine can increase the estrogen effect and trigger a powerful signal to the breast cell to replicate.
Breast tissue is protected by omega-3 fat chiefly from fish and flaxseed and by omega-9 from olive oil. Salmon once a week or water packed tuna three times a week are particularly beneficial. Fish oil supplements processed to reduce contaminates are available. Cod liver oil isn't recommended: its vitamin A and D levels are too high.
Flaxseed is the richest known plant source of omega-3. Use a coffee grinder to benefit from the seed and oil for the full estrogen effect; sprinkle ground flaxseed over cereal or fold into baked goods. Drizzle flaxseed oil, found in the refrigerator section of your health food store, over salads or cereal. (Store the oil in the refrigerator.)
Olive oil, especially in the context of the so-called Mediterranean diet of vegetables, omega-3-rich fish and fresh fruit (Menopause Management, January-February 1999, p. 16-19), lowers the risk of breast cancer (The Lancet, May 18, 1996;347:1351-1356).
Selecting Organic Food
Buy or grow fresh, organic foods whenever you can. When grilling meat, fish or poultry, reduce the area where carcinogens may accumulate by trimming fat. Charred, well-done meat is known to be carcinogenic. When grilling, marinate meat first and reduce the cooking time on the grill by slightly precooking.
Cancer prevention is an interlocking puzzle requiring the limitation of fat consumption, weight control, exercise, stress reduction and care for psychological and spiritual balance. Possessing more cancer fighting pieces makes you more likely to be able to complete the prevention picture.
Joseph L. Mayo, MD, FACOG and Mary Ann Mayo, MA, are the authors of The Menopause manager: A Safe Path for a Natural Change, an individualized program for managing menopause. The book's advice, in easy-to-understand portions, isolates in-depth explanations with unbiased reviews of conventional and alternative choices. A unique perspective for mid-life women who want to know all their options.
Also from the Mayos - The HOW Health Opportunities For Women quarterly newsletter to help women learn HOW to make informed health choices. Learn HOW to: - Choose nutritional supplements
The Latest Breakthroughs in Garlic Research on Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease
June 09, 2005 05:22 PM
The Latest Breakthroughs in Garlic Research
on Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease
Presented at the 2005 World Garlic Symposium
Many of the world’s top-level scientists gathered in Washington D.C. this week for the 2005 Garlic Symposium, entitled, “Significance of Garlic and its Constituents in Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease.” The conference provided current scientific information about the effect of garlic and its constituents on health and performance. The symposium was held at the Georgetown University Conference Center on April 9-11, 2005.
“For the first time in seven years authorities in various fields of garlic research from all over the world to provide the latest updates, specifically regarding aged garlic extract and its actions in diseased states including heart disease and cancer,” commented Dr. Matthew Budoff, M.D. cardiovascular researcher at UCLA. “Garlic has been used medicinally for thousands of years in virtually all ancient cultures. Now, new metabolic roles for garlic are being proposed and there are many promising lines of research.”
Presentation highlights included:
Effect of aged garlic extract (AGE) has been tested in the placebo-controlled double blind randomized clinical study that determined that the atherosclerotic plaque burden detected by electron beam tomography (EBT) changed significantly with the use of aged garlic extract, Patients in Dr. Budoff’s study were able to significantly lower their total cholesterol, blood pressure, homocysteine and LDL cholesterol oxidation levels with aged garlic extract supplementation.
“Garlic is turning out to be a major player in cancer and heart disease prevention and control, especially in combination with drug treatments,” said Richard Rivlin, M.D. of Strang Cancer Prevention Center at Cornell. “It’s also showing us that we can start early. It’s madness to treat cancer and heart disease in their advanced stages. We need to start early and aged garlic extract is an excellent way to do that.”
Almost 400 scientific studies have been completed on aged garlic extract, done in major universities worldwide. These studies have focused on a variety of heart disease risk factors such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, homocysteine levels, inhibiting LDL oxidation, anti-platelet aggregation and adhesion, stimulating blood circulation; in addition to other studies on immune stimulation, cognitive effects, liver function and anti-tumor effects. .
PRECLINICAL PERSPECTIVE ON GARLIC AND CANCER. John A. Milner, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, MD 20892
Mounting evidence points to the anticancer properties of fresh garlic extracts, aged garlic, garlic oil, and a number of specific organosulfur compounds from garlic. These prevention characteristics arise through both a dose and temporal related change in several cellular events including those involving drug metabolism, immunocompetence, cell cycle regulation, apoptosis and angiogenesis. A block in carcinogen activation through modulation of cytochrome P450-dependent monooxygenases and/or acceleration of carcinogen detoxification via induction of phase II enzymes likely account for some of this protection. The block in preneoplastic lesions and/or tumors in several sites suggests a generalizable mechanism. The efficacy of water- and lipid-soluble allyl sulfur compounds against chemical carcinogenesis appears comparable, although more studies are needed. A shift in sulfhydryl groups, redox status or enzyme catalysis may account for some of the phenotypic changes. They may also account for the observed hyperphosphorylation of specific cell cycle related proteins and histone hyperacetylation; both of which have been correlated with suppressed tumor cell proliferation. Several forms of allyl sulfur compounds are effective in blocking cell division and inducing apoptosis, but notable differences in the efficacy among these various compounds and across tumor types are evident. While the expression of many genes and proteins can be influenced by allyl sulfides; the challenge is to determine which is responsible for a phenotypic change. Additional studies are needed with more modest exposures and over prolonged periods and that utilize transgenic and knockout models to assist in the identification of molecular targets. Finally, additional research is needed to identify sensitive “effect” and “susceptibility” biomarkers that can ultimately be used to identify responders from non-responders.
INHIBITION OF CORONARY ARTERIAL PLAQUE ACCUMULATION BY GARLIC. Matthew Budoff, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, UCLA School of Medicine, California, USA
Effect of Aged garlic extract (AGE) has been tested in the placebo-controlled double blind randomized clinical study to determine whether the atherosclerotic plaque burden detected by electron beam tomography (EBT) will change at a different rate under the influence of AGE or placebo. EBT can non-invasively quantitate the amount of coronary calcification and track atherosclerotic plaque over time. Nineteen of 23 patients completed the study protocol. The patients were well matched for age, gender, statin use and cardiac risk factors. Patients underwent EBT and blood testing at baseline, and then again after 12 months of randomization. The average change in the calcium score (Volumetric method) ± SD for the AGE group (n = 9) was 7.5 ± 9.4% over the one year. The placebo group (n = 10) demonstrated 22.2 ± 18.5% annual progression, significantly greater than the treated cohort (p = 0.01). While there were no significant changes in cholesterol parameters, or C Reactive protein between the groups, high density lipoproteins and plasma homocysteine in the AGE group demonstrated a trend toward improvement compared to the placebo patients. Thus, although this is a small-scale trial, it demonstrates the potential of AGE to inhibit the rate of atherosclerosis (progression of coronary calcium), as compared to placebo over one year. Larger studies need to be performed to assess this potential anti-atherosclerotic therapy and the impact on coronary events.
INFLUENCE OF GARLIC ON ENDOTHELIAL DYSFUNCTION IN HYPERHOMOCYSTEINEMIA. N. Weiss, N. Ide, T. Abahji, L. Nill, C. Keller, U. Hoffmann. Klinikum der Universität München, D-80336 Munich, Germany
Endothelial dysfunction (ED) due to decreased bioavailable nitric oxide (NO) by increased vascular oxidant stress plays a critical role in the vascular pathobiology of hyperhomocysteinemia (hhcy). Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) minimizes intracellular oxidant stress and stimulates NO generation in endothelial cells. We performed a placebo-controlled, blinded, cross-over study to examine whether AGE prevents macro- and microvascular ED during acute hhcy induced by an oral methionine challenge in healthy subjects. Acute hhcy leads to a significant decrease in flow-mediated vasodilation of the brachial artery as determined by vascular ultrasound, indicative of macrovascular ED, as well as a decreased number of recruited nailfold capillaries during postischemic reactive hyperemia as determined by videomicroscopy, and to a decreased ratio of acetylcholine (endothelium-dependent) vs. sodium nitroprusside (endothelium-independent) iontophoresis induced skin perfusion as measured by laser doppler flowmetry, indicative of microvascular ED. Preliminary results show that pretreatment with AGE for six weeks diminishes the adverse effects of acute hhcy on endothelium-dependent brachial artery vasodilation and on acetylcholine-induced stimulation of skin perfusion. Whether or not this is accompanied by changes in biochemical parameters of ED is still under investigation. It is concluded that AGE may at least partly prevent a decrease in bioavailable NO during acute hhcy.
David Heber, MD, PhD, FACP, FACN
Professor, UCLA Department of Medicine - Division of Clinical Nutrition, at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, and UCLA School of Public Health; Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition; Director, NIH Center for Dietary Supplement Research in Botanicals (CDSRB); Director, NCI-funded Clinical Nutrition Research Unit; Vice Chair, UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine; Member, UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Matthew Budoff, MD, FACC
Matthew Budoff, MD, FACC, is an associate professor of medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine and program director for the Division of Cardiology, as well as director of the Electron Beam CT Laboratory at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Calif. He completed his undergraduate work at University of California, Riverside, and earned his medical degree at George Washington University in Washington D.C. Dr. Budoff’s efforts to identify and modify risk factors for cardiovascular disease using electron beam CT have been extensively published. His latest research focuses on the progression of arteriosclerosis.
Bioflavonoid Complex - Botanical Antioxidant Protection
June 01, 2005 09:15 AM
Bioflavonoids occur as pigments in plants, where they are found in close association with vitamin C. Together, bioflavonoids and C provide antioxidant protection, helping plants withstand harsh environmental conditions. BIOFLAVONOID COMPLEX features potent botanical extracts, many of them standardized to specific beneficial constituents. Included are bilberry, ginkgo biloba, grape seed, green tea, hawthorn berry, quercetin, and silymarin. The formula is enhanced by the addition of vitamin C as highly bioavailable magnesium ascorbate.
May 13, 2005 08:38 AM
Sulforaphane Stimulates the Body's Cancer-Fighting EnzymesSecret Weapon Against Cancer Found in Broccoli Sprouts
by Richard Conant, L.Ac, C.N.
The health benefits of vegetables were known historically, long before researchers began seeing a connection between vegetable consumption and cancer prevention. Over the last twenty years, evidence concerning this connection has steadily accumulated. The latest and most promising findings reveal that specific vegetable constituents—"phytochemicals" to use current scientific parlance— enhance the body's defenses against cancer.
This article will focus on one phytochemical in particular, a sulfur-containing compound called "sulforaphane." Found in Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, sulforaphane may prove to be one of our most powerful cancer prevention allies. Recent studies have shown that sulforaphane stimulates, or "induces," "Phase two enzymes." These enzymes are an integral part of the body's elaborate detoxification system that renders carcinogens inactive. This detoxification system turns carcinogens and other toxic substances into harmless molecules that are excreted from the body.
We need not fear carcinogens—the body is equipped to deal with them.
These findings, coupled with an appreciation of the body's ability to defend itself against carcinogens, have the potential to dramatically change the way we look at cancer and substances in the environment that "cause" cancer. We need to minimize unnecessary exposure to carcinogens, and the staggering quantity of hazardous chemicals in the environment remains an urgent health concern, for cancer and many other health problems. But, knowing the body is equipped with the means to defend itself against toxins, we do not need to fear carcinogens as perhaps we have in the past.
The natural world is full of carcinogens.
What's more, even if you eat 100 percent organic food and live in a environment free of toxic man-made chemicals, you are still being exposed to carcinogens every day of your life. Food is the primary route of this exposure. Plants, for their own defense, produce over 99% of all the pesticides in agricultural products.1 Almost all foods—in their natural state—contain tiny amounts of naturally-occurring, potentially carcinogenic chemicals.
The point is not to trivialize the concern over environmental toxins. The point is that the natural world is full of toxins that are not man-made. These substances have been around since before we appeared, which is why we have evolved with a highly efficient system for neutralizing them before they can damage our cells and initiate the complex process that produces cancer.
Broccoli sprouts are a concentrated source of cancer-fighting sulforaphane.
We cannot avoid carcinogens. What we can do is support our internal detoxification system. Sulforaphane is a powerful tool in this effort. We can start by following the often-repeated advice to eat a variety of vegetables every day, and include broccoli in our menu.
There is an even richer source of sulforaphane than broccoli itself. In September 1997, a group of scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine made a breakthrough discovery— broccoli sprouts contain ten to one hundred times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli.2 Vegetable sprouts are generally regarded as exceptionally healthy foods. Broccoli sprouts now look like a shining star, especially when it comes to cancer prevention.
For those lacking the time or inclination to keep a fresh supply of broccoli sprouts on hand, broccoli spouts have been processed into an extract that is even more concentrated in sulforaphane. More on this later.
What have researchers learned about broccoli consumption and cancer rates?
More than 200 epidemiological studies—studies which track groups of people over time to uncover realtionships between variables such as diet and the incidence of disease—have invesitgated the connections between vegetable consumption and various forms of cancer.1 It should be understood that findings from epidemiological research are generally not regarded as conclusive; these studies are not controlled, and often use data gleaned from questionnaires, which are an imprecise method of gathering information. (In the case of diet questionnaires, for example, the study subjects may or may not record their food intakes with 100 percent accuracy.)
Epidemiological studies look for trends. To be credible, these trends need to show up consistently, in different population groups. Findings from the vegetable intake/cancer studies easily meet these criteria; the number of studies is large and the trend is consistent—vegetable consumption is strongly associated with a lower risk of developing cancer.
What about broccoli in particular? A paper published in the September 1996 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention analyzes epidemiological data gathered from 94 studies concerning the cancer preventive effect of brassica vegetables.3 (The Brassica genus, part of the Cruciferae family, includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.) The data suggest that broccoli consumption reduces the risk of some of the most feared forms of cancer, including stomach and lung cancer.
Now, to put these data into a balanced perspective, the researchers point out that in most of the studies reviewed, brassica vegetable consumption was reported as part of the total vegetable intake. "In hardly any epidemiological studies was the effect of brassica vegetables separated from the effect of total vegetables or other vegetables by adjusting for consumption of these variables. Therefore, it is difficult to sort out whether the observed observation was attributable to brassica vegetables, to vegetables as a whole, or to other vegetables," they noted.
This uncertainty is a good example of why epidemiological studies alone do not give us open and shut conclusions. But the paper also adds that the apparent anti-cancer effect of brassica vegetables agrees with "the results of experimental studies in which brassica vegetables reduced mammary tumor incidence, hepatic tumor size, numbers of tumors per liver, tumor frequency, and the number of pulmonary metastases when given to rodents before or after a carcinogen insult."3
When you put together a plausible trend from epidemiological research with results of experimental studies that agree with the trend, and then add additional research that reveals the underlying mechanism for these observations, a clear picture begins to take shape. And, indeed, we now have a fairly good idea as to just how brassica vegetables, especially broccoli, help prevent cancer.
How sulforaphane helps prevent cancer from developing.
To see how sulforaphane works, let's look at a brief overview of the body's detoxification system.
The detoxification of carcinogens and other toxic substances takes place in the liver, and involves two distinct enzyme-driven processes or "phases". Phase one enzymes neutralize toxins by various routes. Some of these convert toxins into substances that are immediately eliminated. However, other Phase one steps convert toxins into intermediate products which are carcinogenic themselves, and require further treatment before they can be excreted. Phase two enzymes do this vital job. Phase two enzymes deactivate these carcinogenic metabolites of Phase one, and the final breakdown product is then eliminated once and for all. (For an excellent review of this subject, see Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, by Drs. Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno.4)
Phase two is critical. If Phase one is in good working order, but Phase two is not, the potential threat from carcinogens increases. It is vitally important to keep Phase two operating well. This is where sulforaphane plays its cancer preventive role. Sulforaphane is a powerful inducer of Phase two enzymes.5,6
Broccoli sprouts-the ideal source of sulforaphane
Sulforaphane is one among a group of phytochemicals called "isothiocyanates." (These occur in brassica vegetables largely as "glucosinolates," which are precursors for isothiocyanates2,12 When the plant is crushed, glucosinolates are converted to isothiocyanates.) Sulforaphane induces Phase two enzymes exclusively, leaving Phase one enzymes alone. This means it helps reduce the load of carcinogenic Phase one intermediates without adding to the load by stimulating Phase one.8,9
As reported by the Johns Hopkins University research group, broccoli sprouts are an "exceptionally" rich source of sulforaphane (in the form of "glucoraphanin, sulforaphane's glucosinolate precursor). And broccoli sprouts have another advantage over mature broccoli. They contain almost no indole glucosinolates, phytochemicals present in mature broccoli that "can enhance tumorogenesis."2
Broccoli sprouts as an extract, now available as a dietary supplement, takes the concentration of sulforaphane to the next level. This recently developed nutraceutical product contains a potent 20 to 1 extract of three-day old fresh broccoli sprouts.
One 125 mg capsule supplies the same amount of sulforaphane as 125 grams, or about 5 ounces, of mature broccoli. Taking just one capsule a day is like eating two pounds of broccoli per week, which equals the intake of cruciferous vegetables believed necessary to obtain their health benefits.
1. Steinmetz, K.A. Potter, J.D. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: A review. J Am Diet Assoc. 1996;96:1027-1039.
2. Fahey, J.W., Zhang, Y., Talalay, P. Broccoli sprouts: An exceptionally rich source of inducers of enzymes that protect against chemical carcinogens. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 1997; 94:10367-10372.
3. Verhoeven, D.T.H., et. al. Epidemiological studies on brassica vegetables and cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 1996;5:733-48.
4. Murray, M. Pizzorno, J. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing;1998:110-120.
5. Zhang, Y. Talalay, P, Cho, C., Posner, G.H. A major inducer of anticarcinogenic protective enzymes from broccoli: Isolation and elucidation of structure. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 1992;89:2399-2403.
6. Gerhäuser, C. et. al. Cancer chemopreventive potential of sulforamate, a novel analogue of sulforaphane that induces phase 2 drug-metabolizing enzymes. Cancer Research 1997;57:272-78.
7. McDanell, R., McLean, A.E.M., Hanley, A.B., Heaney, R.K., Fenwick, G.R. Chemical and biological properties of indole glucosinolates (glucobrassicins): A review. Fd. Chem. Toxic. 1988;26(1):59-70.
8. Talalay, P. Mechanisms of induction of enzymes that protect against chemical carcinogenesis. in Advances in Enzyme Regulation, Vol. 28, Weber, G., Ed., 1989: Pergamon Press.
9. Prochaska, H.J. Santamaria, A.B., Talalay, P. Rapid detection of enzymes that protect against carcinogens. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 1992;89:2394-98.
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