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Curcumin: The Superfood That Fights Inflammation
April 30, 2022 09:39 AM
Do you suffer from inflammation? If so, you're not alone. Inflammation is a common problem that can cause pain and discomfort in the body. Fortunately, there is a natural remedy that can help: curcumin. Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. We will discuss the benefits of curcumin and how to add it to your diet.
What is inflammation and what causes it?
Inflammation is a natural process that helps the body heal. It occurs when the immune system responds to an injury or infection. The symptoms of inflammation include redness, swelling, and pain. While inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health problems. Chronic inflammation is often caused by lifestyle factors, such as smoking, obesity, and stress. dietary factors can also contribute to chronic inflammation, including a diet high in sugar. Sugar causes the body to release inflammatory chemicals that can damage tissues and lead to disease. Therefore, reducing sugar intake can help to reduce the risk of chronic inflammation.
What are the symptoms of inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural process in the body that helps to protect us from injury and illness. It occurs when the immune system detects harmful stimuli, such as pathogens or damaged tissue, and triggers a series of reactions which boost the production of white blood cells. However, if inflammation becomes excessive or chronic, it can cause a range of physical symptoms, including redness and swelling at the site of inflammation, increased pain sensitivity, headache, fatigue and fever. Other common symptoms include irritation in the eyes and mouth, digestive issues like diarrhea and nausea, rashes or skin lesions, changes in appetite and mood swings. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it is important to take anti-inflammatory supplements to help control inflammation. One such supplement is curcumin.
How can curcumin help to reduce inflammation in the body?
Curcumin is a compound that can be found in turmeric, a bright yellow spice commonly used in cooking. This powerful phytochemical has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory properties, and can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. One of the main ways that curcumin achieves this effect is by blocking an enzyme known as cyclooxygenase, or COX. This enzyme is responsible for producing pro-inflammatory compounds called prostaglandins that are often associated with pain and swelling. By preventing their production, curcumin can help to control acute and chronic inflammation in the body, thereby reducing the risk of conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. In addition to blocking COX activity, curcumin helps to reduce oxidative stress by inducing production of antioxidants like superoxide dismutase. Overall, these mechanisms make curcumin an excellent natural treatment for chronic inflammation and a host of related health problems.
How to add curcumin to your diet?
Adding curcumin to your diet is a great way to reap the many health benefits of this powerful natural compound. There are several different ways that you can incorporate more curcumin into your daily routine, from simply adding it to your favorite recipes to taking a supplement. For example, you can start off by incorporating turmeric into your cooking, as turmeric is one of the richest sources of curcumin in nature. Additionally, there are many curcumin supplements available on the market that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Ultimately, by making these simple changes in your diet, you can enjoy all the great benefits of curcumin for overall health and well-being.
The benefits of taking curcumin regularly
Curcumin is a compound found in the spice turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and it has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. Recently, curcumin has begun to gain recognition in the Western world as well. A growing body of research suggests that curcumin may have a wide range of health benefits, including the ability to improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation, and even ward off cancer. Curcumin is generally well tolerated, but it can interact with certain medications. However, for many people, taking curcumin regularly can be a safe and effective way to improve overall health.
To fight inflammation, reduce sugar consumption and take curcumin
To help reduce inflammation in the body, it is important to reduce your sugar intake and take curcumin supplements. These steps are vital because chronic inflammation has been linked to a wide range of health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Additionally, sugar consumption can also worsen inflammation by triggering the release of inflammatory chemicals like cytokines and free radicals.
One of the best ways to fight against inflammation is to take curcumin supplements on a regular basis. Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory agent found in turmeric, a spice that is commonly used in Indian cooking. Research has shown that curcumin can be just as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs in reducing levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), a potent inflammatory chemical released by cells. Furthermore, studies have also shown that taking curcumin regularly may benefit overall health and prevent certain age-related diseases like Alzheimer's.
Overall, reducing your sugar intake and taking curcumin supplements are two effective ways to fight inflammation and improve overall health. By following these simple steps, you can help protect yourself from the many negative effects of chronic inflammation.
Benefits of Boswellic Acid To The Body
April 20, 2014 08:25 PM
Benefits of boswellia
Rarely do people bank on herbs for treatment. Chemically manufacture medicines have taken over. However, what makes Boswellia herb very important? This herb has been used for a very long time. It is extracted from the Boswellia serrate tree. This herb is popular among other pharmacological medicines because of its medicinal values of reducing the effect of inflammation and inflammation related diseases.
What is inflammation?
Our body goes through very complex biological processes to keep us healthy. Inflammation is one of them. Inflammation has been the response action that the body takes towards an intruder. The body does this by producing prostaglandins and leukotriene; they are otherwise called inflammation mediators. Most of the time, the intruder can be harmful stimuli or pathogens and damaged cells. The body responds by causing acute pain in places like toes and fingers. Besides the pain, heat, swelling, redness and loss of function are signs of inflammation. Note that inflammation is not an infection.
Examples of inflammatory disease
Examples of inflammatory diseases are bronchial asthma that leads to narrowing of the respiratory tract and makes breathing difficult. Diabetes, type 1 is an inflammatory disease that is caused by the inflammatory mediators. They eat up the pancreas until it is exhausted. Production of insulin to counter diabetes will be affected largely.
How boswellia works
Boswellia releases boswellic acid. This is the main ingredient that is used to fight and heal inflammation. It does this by suppressing the release of prostaglandins and leukotriene. Bowellic acid comes in many forms. Acetyl-11-keto-B is one example that when released, inhibits the synthesis of enzymes that will produce leukotriene hence lead to inflammation. Constant use of this herb heals and prevents the body from inflammation diseases.
Besides healing inflammation diseases, boswellia reduces the effects of brain cells tumor and colon cancer. The herb can be used to activate tumor suppression genes, a genes that will control and eventually reduce the growth of cancer cells.
How important is it to take a GLA supplement?
December 04, 2013 06:43 AM
How important is it to take a GLA supplement?
Majority of people consider evening primrose oil as one of the major miraculous discoveries within preventive care after Vitamin C. This oil consists a compound called phenylalanine that can assist with pain relief and has been applied increasingly with remedying headaches. Its therapeutic and preventive features are many hence making it a regular proposal from a big number of herbalists.
10 health benefits:1- GLA Deficiency
Evening primrose oil has a lot of fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which is very crucial for general operation of the body.
2- Heart Health
Studies revealed that utilizing of evening primrose oil on daily basis can assist in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and safeguard against the coronary artery disease thus minimizing the capability of heart attacks and diseases.
3- Menstrual Pain
The oil is normally used in relieving distress that is normally related with menstrual signs. Majority of women around the world get relief by applying evening primrose oil.
Diabetics occasionally get challenges in producing GLA hence evening primrose oil is an effective supplement to assist them. Studies revealed that this oil can also safeguard people from diabetic neuropathy which is a nerve condition that often affects diabetics.
5- Skin Health
Evening primrose oil is considered as an effective remedy for eczema and other skin disorders due to GLA and other essential fatty acids that are vital for skin health.
6- Anti-Inflammatory & Discomfort Reliever
Evening primrose oil is referred to contain anti-inflammatory features and can assist to ease symptoms of chest discomfort and rheumatoid.
7- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Studies revealed that kids suffering from ADHD got relieved after taking evening primrose oil.
8- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Utilizing evening primrose oil with quality fish oil is an effective therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome.
9- Helps to Counter Impotence & InfertilityEvening primrose oil can stimulate blood flow, thus it helps in solving one of the key causes of male impotence. When taken for some time, it assists in preventing blood vessels to become narrow as a result of cholesterol.
10- Helping with Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The GLA prompts the brain to make a specific type of prostaglandin called prostaglandin E that can operate to resist withdrawal symptoms.
Can ButterBur Extract Help Fight Migraine Headaches?
November 25, 2013 06:21 PM
What is Butterbur?
Butterbur is a plant found in the daisy asteraceae and is in genus petasites. They are also known as sweet coltsfoot. They are mainly found in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere in areas such as riverbanks, ditches and marshes it’s also found in Europe, Asia and North America. The plant was mainly used by Native Americans as a remedy for inflammation, coughs, asthma allergies and headaches. For many years its leaves and roots have been used as an important medicinal herb. In recent research, researchers have found out that extracts of butterbur contains an active ingredient that can be used to prevent migraines and also act as an antispasmodic supporting chronic cough or asthma.
What are the Benefits of Butterbur?
The plant contains two very active chemicals namely petasin and isopetasin. This chemicals are believed to be beneficial in treating headaches, the highest concentration of this chemicals mainly occurs in roots. Root extracts of the plant have been discovered to be very effective in the reduction of frequency and severity of migraines. Migraines are caused by rapid change in the blood flow to the head, they are characterized by episodes of headaches, sensitivity to light and sound and nausea. Treatment includes pain relievers and other medication that affect the openness of the blood vessels. Medication can help ease the pain as a short term measure but in the long run the may cause more headaches as a result of a condition known as medication overuse headaches. These resultant headaches are more difficult to treat than migraines; these medicines may also lead to other problems for people with other chronic illness.
Butterbur root extracts presumably contains isopetasin and/or petasin that are effective in relieving and preventing migraine, since the compound prevents blood vessel inflammation, although it’s said to have gastrointestinal side effects. From research it was discovered that petasin contains anti-spasmodic properties which helps in reducing spasms in vascular walls and smooth muscles. It also contains a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that prevents the synthesis of leukotrienes that is the pro-inflammatory agent in the blood vessel walls. Isopetasin also contains an anti-inflammatory by modulating prostaglandin metabolism. The two together have an antispasmodic effect on vascular walls.
According to a survey carried out in Germany where two hundred and two people who had migraines attacks three months prior to the survey and those who had stopped medication three months before were randomly assigned to receive 75mg of butterbur extract twice a day, the other group was assigned 50 mg or placebo. The results were recorded and it was discovered that people using a higher dosage of butterbur experienced a greater reduction in the frequency in migraines.
Other Treatment of Butterbur
Other than being used in migraine treatment butterbur have several other uses and benefits such as allergy relief without antihistamine side effects, while antihistamines have advance side effects such as fuzzy head and fatigue, when butterbur was used no side effects were evident. Butterbur extracts are also used to treat asthma; this is as a result of anti-inflammatory properties combined with bronchodilating properties.
Astaxanthin Protects The Eye And More!
November 13, 2013 02:52 PM
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that is commonly found in the marine environment. It is naturally found in salmon, krill, trout, crayfish, shrimp, crustaceans and yeast. It is the chemical that is responsible for the red color in cooked shellfish and salmon meat. The algae Haematoccus has the richest natural source of astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin can also be produced synthetically, but due to the synthetic product consisting of different steriosmers it is not preferred to be used in some cases.
Unlike beta-carotene it has two more oxygenated groups on each of its ring structure, these additional functional groups make it a highly potent antioxidant and give it a configuration that is more polar than that of other carotenoids. Vitamin E has been known as the strongest antioxidant both in topical use in cosmetics and in internal use, but research has shown that astaxanthin has a greater antioxidant strength than Vitamin E. For example in the quenching of singlet oxygen it has an antioxidant strength five hundred times stronger than Vitamin E.
Unlike many other antioxidants it has the ability of crossing the blood-brain barrier and enter into the eyes, brain and central nervous system (CNS). Most diseases of the CNS and eye are caused by increased generation of free radicals or by a decrease in the ability to remove free radicals from the body. Some of the diseases that are caused by problems with inflammation and oxidation include Glaucoma, Cataracts, and Huntington’s disease. These can be prevented by taking astaxanthin.
It has anti-inflammatory properties that are related to its strong antioxidants properties. It suppresses some of the inflammatory mediators such as, prostaglandin E-2 (PGE-2), tumor necrosis factor –alpha (TNF-a), and nitric oxide. Unlike other anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen that can damage the liver and aspirin that may cause stomach bleeding, astaxanthin doesn’t have any side effects.
In people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome it has the ability of reducing pain. Studies have shown that it is able to reduce pain in rheumatoid arthritis by 40% after 8 weeks of continuous use.
It prevents Ultra Violet induces oxidative stress of the skin and prevents the photo aging of the skin. It prevents UV induced formation of wrinkles and collagen degradation in the skin. It may be applied on the skin or taken orally.
In people participating in sports it eliminates the soreness of joints after exercise, and reduces the pain caused by inflammation. This enables athletes to train harder and as a result increase their endurance, skill, and strength. This is through its ant-inflammatory and ant-oxidant effects in the mitochondria (energy producing organelle).
It strengthens the immune system, research by scientists has shown that it causes increase in production of T cells, stimulates the proliferation of lymphocytes, amplify the cytotoxicity of natural killer cells, decrease damage of DNA, and increases significantly delayed type hypersensitivity syndrome.
It prevents heart disease and reduces the risk of people already suffering from heart disease form getting a stroke or heart attack. It improves the blood lipid profiles by increasing HDL (high density lipoprotein) and decreasing LDL (low density lipoprotein).
The liver main function of the liver and kidney is the detoxification and removal of harmful substances in the body. These activities lead to the formation of free radicals. Astaxanthin being a strong antioxidant helps by destroying these free radicals hence it eliminates their oxidative effects.
As a result of its immune benefits Astaxanthin also has anti-tumor properties and as a result it prevents the development of cancer. Its prevention of cancer is also caused by its antioxidant properties and by it regulating gene expression.
Health benefits of Bromelain and its mechanism of fighting inflammation
April 20, 2013 09:54 AM
Bromelain is a blend of enzymes found in the juice and the stems of pineapples and is often used as a health supplement to assist in various disorders and enhance overall health. Here are the health benefits of Bromelain.
Improved Heart health
Bromelain functions as a blood thinner by breaking down the fibrins thus helps prevent blood clotting. It allows blood to move more freely throughout the circulatory system. Thinner blood is linked with lower possibilities of stroke, cardiac arrest and other heart problems.
Improved Breathing conditions
Bromelain is linked to improved breathing conditions that occur as a result of thicker mucus like asthma. It has similar effects on mucus as it has on blood thus making mucus thinner and thus does not clog the bronchial tubes.
It serves as an immunity booster and helps certain immunity boosting receptors within the body. As a result it fortifies the immune response by improving the response of body's front-line immune defense called the T-cells.
If the pancreas is not very active, it may produce insufficient quantities of enzymes, making the food we eat just getting digested partially. Consuming a bromelain supplement might help to cure any resulting digestive complaints like stomach upset, heartburn, diarrhea or indigestion. It is especially effective when used in in conjunction with other enzymes such as amylase and lipase because of its protease functions.
An external application of bromelain might help getting rid of undesirable skin tissues in the third-degree burns. Bromelain could also reduce inflammation due to insect bites and their stings.
Bromelain helps decreasing congestion and the cough that comes with sinusitis. Its anti-microbial attributes may wipe out viruses and bacteria associated with sinus infections.
Relieves varicose veins and Hemorrhoids
Bromelain is used as a complementary medicine in treating chronic venous insufficiency, hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Enhanced Acid-alkaline balance
Bromelain can help in balancing the acidity and also the alkalinity in the small intestine. The anti-bacterial effects of bromelain helps relieving bacteria-related diarrhea connected with E. coli attacks and inflammatory bowel disease.
Bromelain and Inflammation
While inflammation aids mending the entire body during an injury, excessive swelling can result in health complications and speed up aging. Bromelain is beneficial in treating inflammation. The mechanism of how bromelain fights inflammation involves the inhibition of many bio-chemical responses and reactions that induce inflammation. Treatment with bromelain manages and regulates the activity of various bio-chemical messengers referred to as cytokines in our body. These cytokines are the chemical substances that trigger inflammation. By inhibiting the activity of cytokines, bromelain reduces the impulses that induce an inflammatory reaction.
Bromelain also decreases the deposition of kinins, a by-product of inflammation and also prostaglandins, the hormone-like compounds found through the entire body Thus Bromelain assists fighting the majority of inflammation occurring after having a sports injury or after surgery, or from minor sprains and tendonitis. Certain kinds of arthritis which involve inflammation also benefits from bromelain, particularly in combination with some other typical anti-inflammatory medications.
Do you take bromelain daily? If not, why not?
The Tremendous Health Benefits Of Omega- 3 Fatty Acids
November 10, 2012 11:53 AM
Omega-3 vs Omega-6
Several sources of information and clinical studies have revealed that the ratio between these two essential fatty acids in our diet have over a period of time played a significant role in making humans prone to certain diseases that the early humans were not afflicted with.
The raging debate in finding the right ratio arises also from the fact that modern foods preferences lean heavily toward the consumption of omega-6 rich foods . This fatty acid has been linked to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, inflammatory diseases, immunodeficiency, artherosclerosis, hypertension, blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes and obesity. In the last ten thousand years our genetic structure has remained the same, but with the onset of the Agricultural Revolution radical changes in food habits have created a lopsided diet. The western diet is heavily oversubscribing to the use of the polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFA, and going low on Essential Fatty Acids or EFA. Living in the industrial societies that we do and in a kind of nutritional environment that we live in, we need to make informed choices about the food we consume is important considering how high- risk western societies are to many kinds of ailments.
Both omega-3 and omega -6 fatty acids are essential for us, but have to be obtained from food as the human body does not have the ability to produce it. Clinical evidence has shown that the Mediterranean diet is more focused on fresh fruits, vegetables, fats from olives, fish, nuts, garlic and whole grains. It has the requisite amounts of healthy fats to combat numerous diseases like coronary condition, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, high cholesterol, schizophrenia, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, bipolar disorder and colon cancer. Astounding also is the finding that our body possesses a certain enzyme that can be linked in its structure and function to these essential fatty acids. These are called prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins are the end products of a chain reaction that begins with the release of unsaturated fatty acids from the cell membrane. It was first isolated from human semen and has found great use as an enzyme based treatment for menstrual problems, childbirth and many other medical conditions. Its ability to increase blood flow has resulted in its use for inducing abortion in troubled pregnancies. However, its over secretion in the body is related to numerous inflammatory conditions and has been found to increase in the body due to the overbearing presence of 0mega-6 fatty acids.These facts can not be taken lightly for a civilization reeling under the onslaught of devastating ailments. Its time to take heed .
What Is Glutathione Good For?
April 14, 2012 08:03 AM
What is Glutathione?
Glutathione (GSH)is a tripeptide derived from non-proteinaceous amino acids. Contains apeptide bond between the group unusual amino of the cysteine group and the carboxylside chain of glutamate. Glutathione, an antioxidant, helps protect cells from reactive species of oxygen such as free radicals and peroxides. Glutathione is nucleophilic at sulfuracceptors and conjugated electrophilic attack poisonous. Groups thiolare maintained in a reduced state to a concentration of about ~ 5 mM in animal cells. Indeed, glutathione reduces any link disulfideformed with in proteins cytoplasmic cysteines by acting as a donor of electrons.In the process, glutathione is converted to its oxidized form glutathione disulfide (GSSG). Glutathione is found almost exclusively in its reduced form, since the enzyme that turns its oxidized form, glutathione reductase,is constitutively active and inducible to oxidative stress.In fact, the ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione in cells is often used scientifically as a measure of cellular toxicity. H2O2+ GSSG + 2 ------- 2GSH H2O.
Advantages of the Glutathione
Before discussing the benefits of L-Glutathione, let's first talk a little about the nutrient. Glutathione is an antioxidant enzyme dominant which is soluble in water.It is absorbed mainly in the liver.It helps fight against free radical damage.The free radical damage is harmful relatives. Glutathione is involved in a variety of other functions in the body.
The function of Glutathione - Benefits of Glutathione
Glutathione works in DNA synthesis and repair, protein and prostaglandin synthesis, and amino acid transport.It helps in the metabolism of carcinogens and toxins.Immune system is improved through the use of Glutathione, and contributes to the prevention of cellular oxidative damage, and activation of enzymes. Glutathione also helps and maintains the functions of other antioxidants.
There is the possibility of a deficiency of glutathione. It usually occurs during aging.For example, it is seen in macular degeneration related to age, diabetes, and lung and gastrointestinal diseases. It may be the cause of pre-eclampsia, Parkinson's, AIDS and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Where to get Glutathione
Some sources of glutathione include fruits such as tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, oranges, peaches and cantaloupe.It is found in vegetables such as avocados, potatoes, spinach, okra, acorn squash, and asparagus.It is found in most meats as well. Other sources of vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, parsley, and not only provide GSH - glutathione peroxidase, but it also stimulates the body to make more BA.Since cooking destroys much of glutathione, you will get more to eat raw or steamed vegetables for the best benefits of Glutathione.
Reduced glutathione is in a supplementation that we personally use a company called source naturals a Natural Product meeting the above requirements.The nutrient content in their signature product - Total Balance.
Health benefits of Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids
March 08, 2012 06:50 AM
What AreThe Benefits Of Omega-3-6-9?
In order to maintain the normal function of the body, it is important that our diet consists of the right amounts of various fatty acids. These are organic compounds made up of carbon chains of various lengths, with one end having an acid group and a hydrogen on the end all attached to the carbons in the chain. Omega-3-6-9 fatty acids are vital ingredients that play important roles in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids are referred to as essential fatty acids because they cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from foods such as nuts, fish or plant oils such as canola and sunflower. These essential fatty acids exists in three types, alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid each with an important role to play in the body.
The alpha-linolenic acid help to reduce the high risks of stroke and heart disease by lowering cholesterol level and slowing down the production of harmful triglyceride in the liver while at the same time raising the level of high-density lipoproteins, HDL or good cholesterol in the body. They also prevent the accumulation of harmful fat in the arteries and promote the elastic nature of the blood vessels.
Both eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids promote the development of the eye and brain, reduces risks of cardiovascular diseases, and may aid in preventing Alzheimer's disease. A study based on eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids conducted on a ten year period on individuals who had high risk of death from heart disease revealed a 40% decrease in cardiovascular disease and a dramatic reduction in mortality rate.
Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained from chicken, eggs, dairy products and various plant oils such as corn oil, rice bran oil among others. In association with its derivative, the alpha-linoleic acid they aid in production of prostaglandin which plays a vital role in promoting the normal function of the brain, nerve and immune system.
They also help in reducing incidences of coronary artery disease by lowering the level of cholesterol in the arteries. By consuming the right amounts of essential fatty acids, a balance is achieved and both essential oils work synergistically to promote the overall health of the body by preventing various inflammatory disorders.
Omega-9 fatty acids are a class of unsaturated fats commonly found in animals fats and vegetables and are also called monosaturated fats or oleic acids. They are usually produced by the body unlike the essential fatty acids but can also be obtained from various plant oils such as sunflower, olive, canola as well as other mono-saturated fats. Research studies have revealed that the mono-saturated fatty acids may help in reducing the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
This is because, they have been found to play an important role in increasing the level of high-density lipoproteins or good cholesterol and decreasing the level of high-density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol in the body. They also prevent the unwanted plaque deposits in the arteries and this reduces the risk of developing coronary artery disease. Despite the fact that Omega-3-6-9 individually play different roles in the body, it is clear that striking a balance of the essential fatty acids plus non-essential fatty acids is important for promoting the overall health of the body.
Can The Herb Passion Flower Help Pain?
September 08, 2011 11:43 AM
Furthermore, it is able to do so by not affecting respiratory activity and mental health functions unlike many of the synthetic pharmaceutical drugs available today for use of sedation. There are many Americans suffering from chronic pain and other symptoms that involve incessant pain in the muscles and other parts of the body. Many of us look towards medication for some relief however the side effects are enormous. Because in the same way that this medication can alleviate pain it also hinders many of our nervous system functions and the most important of which is brain functions. Side effects can range from being groggy to lack of mental alertness.
How passion flower works
Passionflower has a long history dating back to the ancient worlds to have uses against anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, epilepsy, and other conditions of hyperactivity because of its calming properties and this is in a general sense however let us try to look into how it is able to have these properties and how it translates to bodily functions. The key so far to its potency is its affects on muscle tension and mental conflicts. This is the same reason why a lot of medication in the market today has some sort of derivative of passionflower. It has been part of many nerve disorder treatments to aid in further relief of anxiety and even has shown signs of being helpful towards blood pressure regulation and aid in relief of heart palpitations.
Although it has been shown not be as strong as most drugs when it is not processed and just left as close to its natural form as possible it also does not have the same side effects and prevents addiction as well unlike most medications. The main way that it is able to play a big role in any efficient sedation process to relieve pain is because it has the ability to lessen neurotransmitter production or even as some research suggests block it all together through increasing GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) production which is a neurotransmitter inhibitor. Additionally it also has potent phytochemicals that studies have to shown to inhibit prostaglandin which is a chemical responsible for letting us feel pain. Therefore, passion flower could be used as a pain remedy!
Grab some passion flower today and feel the difference.
Using Cherries to Deal with Arthritis
May 25, 2011 03:41 PM
Call it what you will: arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or gout - cherries can deal with it and enable you live and sleep more comfortably than without them. When the bones and lubrication systems of your joints become worn you begin to feel pain - not because your bones are grinding against each other but because of the inflammatory response of your immune system.
Your cartilage begins to wear and your body reacts to the damage first by activating cells already close by - macrophages, mastocytes, dendritic cells and so on, and then calls on the release of leukocytes such as neutrophils. Your blood vessels dilate to enable the large cells to get to the general area of the problem, and then leak to enable fluids to get right to the exact spot where they are needed.
With arthritis, the joint swells because of the above actions, and the synovial fluid can become infected and inflamed. The temperature around the joint increases in temperature to render it less attractive to invading cells and pathogens, and you feel pain because of the pressure on your nerve endings. Then you should take some cherry extract.
The activity of the cytokines and prostaglandins that are creating this situation is suppressed, and the temperature starts to drop. The blood vessels are contracted and the situation begins to return to normal. One more bout of inflammation successfully dealt with, and now that you understand what has caused it you will be better placed to get the cherry extract down your throat next time.
Buy It And Try It Today!
Can Butterbur Help Me with Migraines
April 02, 2011 12:14 PM
Butterbur and Headaches
Butterbur has helped countless of migraine sufferers for more than three decades. In Europe, it is available as a prescription drug, which neurologists have prescribed since 1972. It has been the subject of numerous studies and reviews in a span of 40 years that have come to a conclusion that it does alleviate symptoms of migraine and reduce frequency of attacks. It is one of the herbal remedies clinically tested in migraine centers in the US. To date there has been no recorded adverse effects and harmful drug interactions, and as such available in the US over the counter, no prescription required. It has been compared to beta blockers and anticonvulsants and in general believed to be better than both of these more common treatments.
Petasites hybridus, the common butterbur, is the herb where butterbur extracts are obtained from although other species that belong to the genus Petasites are also known to produce the same health benefits. Petasites comprises up to 20 plant species widely distributed across the globe, a number of which have been tied to folk medicine throughout the ages. Petasites hybridus is native to North America and thrive well in marshes and wetlands, where there is a significant amount of moisture in the soil.
American Indians have long used its rhizomatous roots to fight off headaches and inflammation-induced diseases, such as asthma attacks and hay fever. Indeed the discovery of the organic compounds petasin, isopetasin, and oxopetasin explained its long-standing association with the treatment of migraines and allergies. Today most butterbur preparations do not contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which were identified to cause liver damage. That being said, it is still best to seek professional advice and ask assistance in choosing products from a reputable laboratory.
Interferes with Releases of Pain Chemicals
The phytochemicals unique to Butterbur have been well investigated, and results point to their effects on inhibiting the productions of local pain chemicals, which are pro-inflammatory in nature. Leukotrienes are lipid mediators that supervise the productions of other intermediaries of inflammation. Prostaglandins are responsible for vasodilation of blood vessels and their consequent sensitization to pain. Butterbur has been observed to influence these two pain chemicals.
Plays the Role of a Natural Beta Blocker
Beta-adrenergic antagonists, or simply beta blockers, are a class of drugs that target endogenous catecholamines implicated in migraine attacks. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are catecholamines that act on beta-andrenergic receptors, leading to a reduced blood flow in the brain. This results in the spasmodic contractions of cerebral blood vessels characteristic of migraines. Butterbur works on the principle of blocking the effects of catecholamines and inducing normal blood flow to the brain.
Produces No Known Serious Side Effects
Most analgesics and beta blockers have been associated with several adverse effects, which more often than not include nausea, dizziness, and muscle weakness. Many have been reported to cause weight gain. None of these have been linked to regular use of butterbur, one of the reasons why it has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years.
If you suffer from Migraine headaches, give butterbur a try!
Curcumin and Pain
December 02, 2010 12:33 PM
Make no mistake about it: curcumin has long been identified as the compound responsible for the anti-inflammatory benefits of the ginger plant turmeric. The herb turmeric has been around for ages, cultivated for its wide array of culinary and medicinal uses that transcend regional and cultural boundaries. Apart from the popular use of its powdery form in bread, cakes, ale, and beer as a flavoring, the plant contains up to 5 per cent curcumin, which is one type of polyphenols now being looked into for its antioxidant properties.
Prostaglandin and Inflammation Pain
Autocrines and paracrines are contained in almost all tissues and organs to effectively participate in bodily defenses every time the systems call for them, for example in treating wounds. Prostaglandins are either autrocrines or paracrines that take on the job of signaling the tissues and systems implicated in defensive reactions when the body detects unwanted and harmful stimuli. Cells release autocrines to have an effect on the same cells and paracrines to aid nearby cells, making these compounds function as effective chemical messengers in immediate vicinities anywhere in the body as they are short-lived.
Prostaglandin is known as the chemical messenger causing pain and igniting fever among others. Defensive mechanisms start when cells release mediators, including prostaglandin, which brings about the known signs of inflammation. Prostaglandins relax smooth muscle cells within the walls of blood vessels in the area of inflammation and promote the flow of needed fluids like blood and plasma proteins into the spot, leading to the subsequent redness and swelling. They continue to mediate the healing process by permitting the entrance of neutrophil granulocytes, the front-line soldiers against harmful stimuli, and consequently put an end to invading pathogens. The same group of chemicals also increases pain at the same time, for example the joint pains associated with inflammation called arthritis.
Curcumin and Anti-inflammation
Painkillers, classified as analgesic drugs, work in a number of ways that in the end relieve the continual sensitization of certain body parts to pain. One group called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen targets the enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of prostaglandins aim to reduce levels of prostaglandins.
Curcumin works on the same principle. Take for example, joint pains caused by arthritis. Be reminded that individuals who complain about joint pains are suffering from varied forms of medical conditions, which one way or another contribute to the pain in addition to having excessive levels of prostaglandins in the joints involved. Damage to the joint brought about by wear and tear or forced movement involving joints spurs the body to take defensive measures that include inflammatory effects, thus the pain. The intake of curcumin and its derivatives act on the cells in its production of prostaglandins, resulting in both the easing of pain and the lessening of inflammation.
Bromelain Supplements why?
November 06, 2010 10:32 AM
Bromelain enzyme may not be as familiar as other digestive supplements to most people but this helpful catalyst offers a wide range of benefits not only to the digestive system but also to other systems of the body.
Bromelain Enzyme Supplement
Bromelain enzyme is a proteolytic digestive catalyst that contains sulfur. From the word “proteolytic”, this substance aids in the digestion of proteins especially when taken with meals. On the other hand, when taken without meals, it is deemed to act as an anti-inflammatory supplement. Ananas comosus or the pineapple plant is the best source of this beneficial enzyme. However, fresh pineapple extract does not contain doses high enough to have a medicinal effect. Hence, a preparation to meet the body’s demand is produced. Bromelain supplements now come in the form of tablets and topical creams. They are now widely available and affordable to counterweigh the several uses it offers.
In the Digestive System, bromelain enzyme does not only help in digesting proteins but may also relieve gastric upset and heartburn especially when used together with other digestive enzymes like amylase, a catalyst responsbile for carbohydrate digestion, and lipase which is for the digestion of fats. Diarrhea conditions associated with deficiency in the proteolytic enzymes can also be alleviated with the use of this supplement.
In the Immune System, bromelain has been widely considered as an effective relief for pain and swelling caused by both injury and certain infections. Studies frequently show the bromelain’s ability in facilitating the body to restore health more quickly. The mechanism is said to be a reduction of fibrin and leukotriene accumulation, thus regulating the inflammation process. Researchers have demonstrated evidences that a daily intake of 1,200 to 1,800 mg of bromelain may help alleviate painful inflammation just like in rheumatoid arthritis.
In the Cardiovascular System, bromelain supplement is theorized to play a role in the prevention of heart disease caused by atherosclerosis or thickening of the arterial wall due to plaque deposits. It slows down the clumping of platelets thus preventing a possible heart attack.
Bromelain May Also Relieve Pain
Lastly, bromelain may also relieve pain associated premenstrual syndrome and menstraul cramps. Studies reveal that they act as prostaglandin inhibitors. However, bromelain can also increase the bleeding during menstruation.
Bromelain supplement has no Recommended Dietary Allowance but doses of up to 1 gram taken 3 times a day showed no toxic effects. Experts also advise to take bromelain on an empty stomach supplemented with magnesium to increase the bromelain’s effects.
Just like any other drug or food supplement, bromelain also has side effects, nonlife-threatening to be exact. It may have drug interactions such as increasing the absorption of some medications like antibiotics, chemotherapeutic drugs and specific antihypertensive agents. In addition, it may also bolster the effects of blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), anti-inflammatory drugs and antiplatelet agents such as clopidogrel (Plavix). Since bromelain supplement can cause certain drug interactions, it is important to take this enzyme cautiously or under the supervision of a qualified health care provider.
To find quality bromelain supplements, look to your local or internet vitamin store.
Fight Inflammation With Herbs from Planetary Herbals
June 02, 2010 04:39 PM
Our modern lives have untold benefits, as well as challenges. Our dependence on man-made toxic chemicals, junk food, nutrient imbalanced diets, and our stressful, sedentary lifestyles can alter our biochemical metabolism and affect our health.
These lifestyles and environmental change can challenge immune health, so that the various components of the immune system are not able to carry out their protective functions. Or our immune systems can go into overdrive, often leading to a state called metabolic inflammation.
A Powerful Herbal Blend
Inflamma-Care is a potent, herbal response to the metabolic inflammation that can result from inappropriate immune response. The main component of inflama-care is the rhizome of the curcuma spicies, long used as a spice in India. Known worldwide as turmeric (curcuma longa), it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the activities of cytokines – inflammation messengers.
This world-renowned spice is supported by boswellia, which inhibits pro-inflammatory enzymes, and ginger an antioxidant that inhibits prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis. Other herbs in the formula that inhibit inflammatory action include willow bark, Chinese skullcap, corydalis, holy basil, and hops.
Inflama-care also contains systemic enzymes to clear and protect the arteries and circulatory system. Systemic enzymes like bromelain and papain cleanse the bloodstream and enable the blood to flow smoothly. A free-flowing bloodstream helps the body by circulating important nutrients to the cells while clearing the body of wastes.
Immune Activating Mushroom
Planetary Herbals also offers you new Full Spectrum Chaga in 1000mg tablets and a 1:4 liquid extract. Preliminary studies suggest that chaga triggers immune responses and protects the cells with antioxidant activity.
Chaga is a mushroom that is found attached to trees like birch, alder, beach, and other hardwoods, throughout the northern latitudes. A polyphore, the mushroom looks somewhat like coal – a brownish black mass often seen in tree trunks. In China, Siberia, Finland, Japan, Poland and North America, ancient and native peoples have long known the benefits of chaga. In an acient treaties, the Chinese monk shen nog declared in 100 BC that chaga is “a precious gift of nature.”
In modern research, chaga has been shown to have 215 phytonutrients, including 29 beta-glucans. Chaga also absorbs a nutrient from the outer birch tree bark: betulin, a natural anti-inflammatory. Among the components in chaga are triterpenes, sterols, beta-glucans, flavonoids, melanins, polyphenols, saponins, lignin, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. This fascinating combination of nutrients is being studied worldwide.
The PhytoDynamic Difference
Both inflama-care and full spectrum chaga are formulated with a profound understanding of the ways in which plant compounds interact with human physiology. Planetary Herbals phytodynamic principles draw on herbal tradition, scientific research, and a level of clinical expertise unmatched in the natural products industry. The result: herbal products unsurpassed for quality and consumer satisfaction.
Take Control Of your Inflammation With Supplements
May 27, 2010 12:40 PM
Chronic inflammation is often induced by uncontrolled oxidative stress (free radical damage). It is the principle mechanism by which degenerative disease takes hold. By reducing oxidative stress and changing the balance within the body to favor the production of anti-inflammatory chemical messengers, one can lower their levels of inflammation. This can be achieved through conscious changes to diet and lifestyle, which includes appropriate supplementation.
By consuming foods that are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, EPA, and DHA, derived from fish oil or flax seeds, one can greatly influence and reduce inflammation. When the body has appropriate balances of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fats, the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins is favored and inflammation is kept in check. Increasing the consumption of foods that are rich in omega-3s or supplementing with a high quality fish oil suppresses the formation of harmful prostaglandins and also promotes the synthesis of beneficial prostaglandins. Since the average North American diet contains 10 to 20 times the amount of omega-6 oils that we need, the most sensibly dietary approach is to reduce sources of omega-6 oils and supplement with a high dose of omega-3 oils in order to achieve the optimal 4:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.
Supplementing with flaxseed oil is another effective way to optimize your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Anti-inflammatory EPA can be manufactured in the body by converting the alpha-linolenic acid that is often found in flaxseed oil. Supplementing with this oil, along with restricting omega-6 fatty acid intake, raises tissue EPA levels to those comparable to fish oil supplementation. It should even be noted that flaxseed oil contains more than twice the omega-3 fats as fish oil. Additionally, alpha-linolenic acid can be found in a variety of other plant source including pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and other nuts. However, flaxseed is by far the richest source of omega-3 oil, carrying 58% by weight.
Another nutrient that plays a crucial role in inflammation is gamma tocopherol. This nutrient acts through a mechanism that is unavailable to alpha tocopherol by reacting with RNO radicals to subdue inflammation. Gamma tocopherol also has the ability to reduce inflammation by inhibiting COX-2 , which is an enzyme that has a central role in the inflammatory process as it controls the synthesis of the inflammatory prostaglandin. The consuption of gamma tocopherol has been found to reduce several other inflammatory protagonists at the site of inflammation. Strong evidence has found that this form of vitamin E exhibits potent anti-inflammatory properties that are extremely important for human disease prevention and therapy.
Similar to essential fatty acids is resveratrol and green tea polyphenols each of which have the ability to inhibit the activation of NFkB and control a wide variety of inflammatory pathways. Green tea polyphenols are also believed to be neuroprotective, as they invoke a spectrum of cellular mechanisms such as the chelation of metals, scavenging of free radicals, and modulation of mitochondrial function in nerve tissues. Green tea polyphenols are now considered to be therapeutic agents that can alter brain processes and serve as neuroprotective agents in the progression of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
There are a wide variety of nutrients that are involved in fighting systemic inflammation. These nutrients and nutrient categories include EPA and DHA, linolenic acid, gamma tocopherol, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin C, flavonoids, procyanidolic oligomers, and the phenolic compounds found in green tea, turmeric, and olive extracts. When changing your diet from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and adds more fruits and vegetables to their diet along with antioxidant vitamin supplements, one can successfully reduce inflammation naturally and live a healthier happier life.
Fight Inflammation With Inflama-Care - Anti-inflammatory herbal combination
March 22, 2010 09:07 PM
Turmeric / Boswellia Complex
Our modern lives have untold benefits, as well as great challenges. Our dependence on man-made toxic chemicals, junk food, nutrient-imbalanced diets, and our stressful, sedentary lifestyles can alter our biochemical metabolism and affect our health. These unhealthy lifestyles and environmental changes have set our immune system on overdrive, a state call metabolic inflammation. Planetary Herbals Inflama-Care is a potent, herbal response to these modern challenges.
The Inflammation Cycle
As toxins and stress begin to alter our body chemistry and change the function of vital tissues, our body reacts with metabolic inflammation just as if it were being attacked. This reaction may result in a perpetual cycle of chemical imbalances and suboptimal health. Yet metabolic inflammation is often below the threshold of perception, not noticed or felt for years after its starts. It is only much later that the altered biochemistry and the system imbalances that it generates are noticed.
A Powerful Herbal Blend Inflama-Care helps support the body’s natural response to metabolic inflammation. The main component of the formula is the rhizome of the curcuma species, long used as a spice in India. Known worldwide as turmeric (Curcuma longa), it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the activities of cytokines—inflammation messengers. This world-renowned spice is supported by boswellia, which inhibits proinflammatory enzymes, and ginger, an antioxidant that inhibits prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis. Other herbs in the formula that inhibit inflammatory action include willow bark, Chinese skull cap, corydalis, holy basil, and hops.
The PhytoDynamic Difference
Planetary Herbals presents inflama-Care to help maintain the body’s biochemical balance and integrity. Inflama-care was formulated with a profound understanding of the ways in which plant compounds interact with human physiology. Planetary Herbals phytodynamic principles draw on herbal tradition, scientific research, and a level of clinical expertise unmatched in the natural products industry. Thie result: herbal products unsurpassed for quality and consumer satisfaction.
October 20, 2009 12:02 PM
For thousands of years feverfew has been used for the treatment of various ailments. History is full of references to feverfew. Dioscorides, an ancient Greek herbalist, recommended the use of feverfew almost two thousand years ago, as he valued the herb for childbirth, fevers, melancholy, and congestion of the lungs. It was also suggested for arthritis. In 1772, feverfew was suggested to be used to treat painful headaches. Many people believe that feverfew obtained its name from its use as a remedy for bringing down fevers, but this has been determined to be incorrect. Instead, the name came from the traditional Old English name for feverfew, featherfew. Featherfew came from the feather-shaped leaves of the feverfew plant.
Feverfew has been used for a long time as a natural remedy for pain relief, as it is considered an excellent remedy for migraines. This herb was used to treat any kind of pain and helped with chills and fever. Additionally, it helps in relieving colds, dizziness, tinnitus, and inflammation from arthritis. The herb works gradually and with a gentle action that allows the body to heal itself.
The most popular use of feverfew is in the prevention and relief of migraine headaches. In a study, those given the placebo had an increase in frequency and severity of headaches, nausea, and vomiting. On the other hand, those given the feverfew capsules had no increase in frequency or severity of migraines. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study was done on seventy-two volunteers. One group received capsule dried feverfew leaves, while the other received a placebo. The group taking feverfew showed less severity of attacks and a reduction in symptoms that were associated with migraines, including vomiting. There was a definite improvement in the group using feverfew and no serious side effects resulted. Because some forms of migraines are believed to be associated with abnormal platelet behavior, feverfew may be beneficial as it has been found to help restrain the release of serotonin from platelets. This prevents a migraine from occurring.
It is thought that feverfew may also be a useful treatment in cases of rheumatoid arthritis. This is because of its ability to inhibit the formation of inflammation-promoting compounds like prostaglandins and leukotriene. This herb seems to have similar properties to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), like aspirin. Feverfew may actually be even more effective with a lot fewer potential complications. Some of the studies involving feverfew and migraines have shown that feverfew may also lower blood pressure.
The leaves and flowers of the feverfew plant are used to provide alterative, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, aromatic, bitter, carminative, emmenagogue, febrifuge, nervine, parasiticide, mild purgative, stimulant, and vasodilator properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are iron, niacin, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, vitamins A and C, and zinc. Primarily, feverfew is extremely helpful in dealing with chills, colds, fever, headaches, sinus headaches, and inflammation.
Additionally, this herb is very beneficial in treating aches, ague, allergies, anxiety, arthritis, insect bites, poor circulation, dizziness, gastric disorders, nervous headaches, hot flashes, indigestion, and menopausal symptoms, absent menstruation, nervousness, tinnitus, and vertigo. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by feverfew, please contact a representative from your local health food store.
March 05, 2009 01:31 PM
Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s defense against pathogens. The increase in body temperature, flood of toxic free radicals and inflammation-signaling proteins, and release of killer macrophage cells are the main signs of an inflammatory event that is the body’s long-established means of defending against a clear and present danger. This adaptive response can now become a cause for debilitating disease. It is even thought that the aging process may be linked to the very defense mechanism that keeps us healthy when we are young. As we grow older, our ability to regulate inflammation begins to diminish. Instead of protecting us, inflammation becomes silent and systemic, allowing degenerative disease to take root. The symptoms of silent inflammation are extremely different from acute inflammation of redness, heat, swelling, and pain, and can lie undetected until it has been around for far too long.
Silent inflammation causes the body to turn on itself, as its immune system begins attacking its own organs. Over time, inflammatory cytokines such as C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and inflammation producing eicosanoids like prostaglandin E-2 and leukotrienes B-4, start to destroy tissue all over the body. In response to this attack, the body produces even more inflammatory cytokines and free radicals, which creates a self-perpetuating cycle. Silent inflammation damages arteries, destroys nerve cells and organs, compromises the immune system, and promotes cancerous growths. Despite how well they feel today, those with silent inflammation are on a fast track toward degenerative disease. On the good side, preventative measures that are taken today to reduce inflammation can prevent degenerative diseases like cardiovascular heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s tomorrow.
When there are equal numbers of good and bad eicosanoids, a state of wellness is able to prevail within the body. However, when they become chronically unbalanced, many problems result. This balance is, interestingly, highly dependant upon the level of insulin that is found in the body. High insulin levels, whether they are induced by sugar overload, the onset of insulin resistance, or the hormonal effects of excess fat, set the stage for systematic inflammation. As insulin levels climb, oxidative stress increases dramatically, causing the production of inflammatory cytokines. Along with being too high in refined sugar, the average North American diet is filled with inflammation-promoting fats and scarce in inflammation-reducing omega-3 fats; the consequence of this chronic fatty acid imbalance in an increase in systemic inflammation.
As inflammation rises, so does the production of cortisol, which is produced in the adrenal glands and is intricately involved in the body’s response to stress. In an attempt to reduce inflammation, cortisol increases blood pressure, elevates blood-sugar levels, and suppresses the immune system. This means that systemic inflammation produces chronically elevated levels of cortisol, which then place a heavy physiological burden on all organs, causing a dramatic increase on the risk of degenerative disease.
Fortunately, changing the balance within the body to favor the production of anti-inflammatory eicosanoids can be achieved through a conscious dietary change. By simply increasing your dietary intake of fatty fish, eating raw nuts and grains rich in healthy fats, and supplementing with a high-quality cold-pressed fish oil or flaxseed oil, and concurrently decreasing your intake of red meats, eggs, high-glycemic foods, and foods high in saturated fats, chronic inflammation can be reduced greatly. Vitamin supplements can boost ones antioxidant intake and help fight inflammation as well. Quality vitamins are available at your local or internet health food store.
Turmeric Extract (Curcumin)
February 10, 2009 01:18 PM
Curcumin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that has the potential to provide far-reaching health benefits. It has been shown to be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetic retinopathy, and cancer. All of these diseases share underlying inflammation that curcumin may help to diminish.
If you have ever eaten curry or cooked with the spice turmeric, you’ve consumed curcumin. It is obtained from the roots of Curcuma longa and consists of several curcuminoids. Turmeric is biologically related to ginger. Curcumin works as an antioxidant, boosting levels of glutathione S-transferase, which is one of the body’s principal antioxidants. This antioxidant blocks the formation of prostaglandin E2, which is a compound that promotes inflammation within the body. Curcumin also inhibits two inflammation-promoting enzymes: COX-2 and 5-LOX. Additionally, curcumin is able to prevent mutations to DNA, which is an effect that helps to maintain younger, healthier cells.
A study conducted at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson had researchers using a curcumin rich turmeric extract to treat rheumatoid arthritis in laboratory animals. The extract blocked joint inflammation as well as the breakdown of joint cartilage and bone. It did this by inhibiting the genes that are involved in inflammation. Curcumin also holds tremendous promise in preventing cancer, as well as an adjunct treatment. Studies on animals have found that curcumin can protect against colon, intestinal, oral, and skin cancers. Its benefits come from several mechanisms. First of all, it blocks the cell-growth cycle in cancer cells, which eventually leads to destruction. It also reduces free radicals and inflammation, both of which can lead to cancer-causing cell mutations.
Many studies have found that curcumin can protect the liver against a variety of toxic compounds, which is important news for those people who are suffering from liver diseases like hepatitis or cirrhosis. In a recent study, researchers reported that curcumin increased the clearance of creatinine and urea, which are signs of improved kidney function. Additionally, curcumin reduced liver damage from toxic chemicals and excess iron.
Another study found that curcumin has the ability to inhibit the activation and spread of the liver cells that play a role in the development of cirrhosis. Japanese doctors have recently used curcumin, drugs, or placebos to treat 89 patients that have ulcerative colitis. These doctors found that a combination of curcumin and conventional medications resulted in the greatest benefits over six months of treatment. Patients in this study took 1,000 mg of curcumin after breakfast and again after dinner.
Inflammation is the underpinning of all chronic degenerative diseases, making curcumin likely to be beneficial for many different conditions. So far, research has identified curcumin’s benefits for diabetic retinopathy, lung disorders, and skin problems such as psoriasis. A dose of 3.6 g of curcumin reduced PGE2 levels by two-thirds in only one hour. After consuming curcumin daily for one month, PGE2 levels were 57 percent lower than before supplementation began.
Turmeric has been used as a culinary spice for at least 2,000 years. It was listed in an Assyrian herbal in 600 BC, used by ancient Greeks, and widely recommended in Ayurvedic medicine. Native to India and other regions of South Asia, it may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and help maintain mental function. Curcumin is safe in amounts of 500 to 8,000 mg daily, with most supplements providing 500 mg of curcumin.
Turmeric has been proven safe in larger amounts, but is usually limited by taste as a spice. One should look for a standardized supplement that contains at least 90 percent curcumin. Standardized Turmeric can be found at your local or internet health food store.
Essential Fatty Acids
September 16, 2008 08:54 AM
A lot of people tend to shy away from anything that has the word fatty involved with it, thinking that it will cause them to gain unnecessary weight. What a lot of people don’t know is that there are good fats and bad fats. The beneficial ones actually can help decrease the desire for food and for harmful fats. Fats are essential to health, as they help to balance the body’s chemistry and provide padding for the vital organs in the body. Fats give a source of energy for body processes and also help with the transportation and absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are all fat soluble.
There are three main categories of fats: saturated fats, unsaturated fats, and essential fats. Saturated fats are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules. The carbon atoms from fatty acids hold together in a chain-like fashion and they can attach a hydrogen atom to them. When each potential place for a hydrogen atom has been filled and there is no more room for any more hydrogen atoms, these fats are considered saturated. The fat will be harder or thicker in consistancy the longer the chain.
These types of fatty acids are found in red meat, butter, cheese, sour cream, palm kernel, and coconut oils. When someone has a diet that is high in saturated fats, these fats clump together in the body and form deposits that lodge in cells, organs, and blood vessels and can lead to many health problems like obesity, heart disease, and breast and colon cancer.
Unsaturated fats are called this because at least two adjacent carbon atoms on a chain are not attached to hydrogen atoms. When at least two pairs of carbon atoms are empty, it is known as a polyunsaturated fatty acid. The more saturated the fat, the more easily it will stay hard at room temperature.
Essential fatty acids are crucial nutritional compounds that our bodies need in order to perform many functions. They can be found in the seeds of plants and in the oils of cold-water fish. Essential fatty acids can not be made in the body, so they must be found in a supplement or in the diet. Many factors, which include stress, allergies, disease, and diet high in fried foods, can increase the body’s need for essential fatty acids.
Fatty acids are the basic building blocks of all fats. A fatty acid is considered essential if the body is unable to synthesize it and the only way it can be obtained is through diet. Additionally, it is considered essential if a deficiency will cause disease. A deficiency of fatty acids can cause poor reproduction, lowered immunity, rough and dry skin, and slow growth.
Essential fatty acids are vital for many functions including: lowering triglyceride levels; helping to eradicate plaque from the walls of arteries; lowering blood pressure; altering the production of leukotrienes; constructing body membranes; helping strengthen cell and capillary structures; prolonging blood-clotting time, which helps wounds to heal; helping the body manufacture hemoglobin; assisting in the manufacture of cholesterol; preventing the growth of bacteria and viruses assisting in the functions of glands and hormones.
Essential fats nourish the skin, hair, and nails; increasing the rate at which the body burns fat; helping the body maintain proper temperature; assisting in the body’s production of electrical currents that are vital for a regular heartbeat; and acting as a precursor to the production of prostaglandins. It is essential that everybody obtain good fat in their diet to maintain health, if one can not eat the proper foods, supplement forms of essential fatty acids are available.
September 05, 2008 09:02 AM
Bilberry has been used most commonly for centuries as a food, with the English traditionally eating bilberries with a rich cream. Large amounts of bilberries were imported annually from Holland, Germany and Scandinavia for use by pastry cooks and restaurant keepers to make jams, liqueurs, wines, and desserts up until World War II. Bilberry’s use is not only limited to food, as the juice of bilberry yields a clear, dark blue or purplish dye that has often been used to color wool in England.
Over the years, the bilberry fruit has gained recognition for its medicinal properties. Decoctions of the leaves and bark of the root have been used for a topical application to treat mouth and throat ulcers. Syrups have also been made from a mixture of the berries and honey to treat intestinal issues.
Additionally, the berries are very rich in vitamin C, with their astringent action explaining their historical use for diarrhea and dysentery. Many believe that the berries contain a pigment that can kill many strains of bacteria. Bilberry fruit and tea that are dried have been used to treat nausea as well as indigestion. Along with the above, other traditional applications of bilberry include inflammation of the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat, eyestrain or fatigue, and as a circulatory tonic. The leaves and berries have also been used for a homeopathic treatment of diabetes.
One of the main reasons that bilberry’s medicinal value came to attention in the Western world was because of its legendary ability to improve the nighttime vision of the British Royal Air force pilots during World War II. After consuming bilberry, it was found that they experienced improved visual acuity, making it easier to carry our nighttime bombing raids. It was also found that their eyes could adjust to darkness quicker and their vision was able to better correct after the effects of prolonged glare.
In the proceeding years, scientific research found that bilberry offered a wide range of benefits for both vision and other vascular disorders. French studies found that bilberry supplementation significantly enhanced the ability to adjust for glare and darkness. Bilberry can help to prevent compromised vision for anyone who is susceptible to eyestrain. In the last few decades, more studies have confirmed the medicinal value of bilberry for a variety of eye disorders. Bilberry is routinely used by European medical practitioners for patients with cataracts, venous insufficiency, visual disorders, peptic ulcers, capillary fragility, and even dysmenorrheal.
Finally, bilberry has a great effect on the activity of many enzymes that participate in inflammatory responses. Those who bruise easily or have trouble with capillary weakness can benefit from the anthocyanidin content of bilberry. These anthocyanidins offer many actions including: stimulating the production of collagen; protecting existing collagen stores in the connective tissue; preventing the formation and release of inflammatory compounds including histamine, prostaglandins, and leukotrines; preventing certain enzyme reactions that occur as a result of inflammatory conditions; and scavenging for free radicals to reduce cellular damage from oxidizing agents.
Evening Primrose Oil
September 04, 2008 09:08 AM
The tiny seeds of the evening primrose flower are the source of oil that has been valued in the world for building health and overcoming a lot of common health problems. Evening primrose, also known as evening star, night willow herb, scabish, and tree primrose, has a recorded history of at least 500 years of use for its health promoting properties. Growing in a wider variety of climates, the plant can be found in rocky roadsides, shallow streams, or even high deserts.
The plant can even be found growing at elevations as high as 9,000 feet. This plant has yellow flowers from July through September that open after sunset and are pollinated by insects of the night. Open only until sunrise, the flowers die the next day, causing hundreds of small black seeds to form inside. These seeds are the source of the plant’s oil, with about 5,000 seeds being used for just one 500 mg capsule. Due to this, evening primrose can be relatively expensive. Evening primrose’s value in a variety of illnesses was recognized by American Indians and European immigrants. Indians used it to treat skin wounds, asthma, coughs, and also as a sedative. One of the first botanicals exported to Europe from North America, it was brought to Italy in 1619 and planted in the Padua Botanical Gardens. It was so valued by the Puritans that they called it the “King’s cure-all” and exported it to England. The ancients didn’t know scientifically why evening primrose was so effective for so many illnesses, but that didn’t affect its abilities. Modern science has found that the essential fatty acids that are found in the oil of the evening primrose seeds are the secret to the health-building properties.
Fat has gotten a bad name for itself in the past few years, but the truth is that there are actually certain types of fats that are vital for good health. One of these healthy fats is essential fatty acids, which are found in unprocessed vegetable, plant, and fish oils. One of the richest sources known is actually mother’s milk. Like vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids are nutritional substances that have far-reaching effects on many body processes.
These effects include reducing blood pressure, helping to prevent arthritis, reducing the growth rate of breast cancer, lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, maintaining healthy skin, aiding in transmission of nerve impulses, playing a role in normal brain function, constituting the building blocks of body membranes, promoting proper hormone function, and forming the basis for prostaglandin production.
Because essential fatty acids can not be manufactured in the body, they must be consumed in the diet, with at least three percent of an adult’s daily caloric intake being recommended to be comprised of essential fatty acids. Children and pregnant women should have a diet containing at least five percent essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are essential for normal functioning of all body tissues.
Because of this, the list of symptoms of essential fatty acid deficiency includes reduced growth rate, skin disorders, male and female infertility, kidney abnormalities, decreased capillary resistance, susceptibility to infection, heart problems, anemia, enlarged liver, sparse hair growth in infants, poor wound healing, and an increased susceptibility to infection.
In conclusion, to prevent or heal these conditions, a diet that is rich in essential fatty acids must be present. Evening primrose oil is a good source of essential fatty acids, containing about 72 percent linoleic acid and 9 percent GLA. Have you had your evening primrose oil today?
September 01, 2008 01:04 PM
Garlic is a member of the lily family, related to onions and chives, and offers many health benefits other than deterring vampires. There is now ample scientific evidence and proof of its beneficial effect on both a healthy immune system and the circulatory system.
The active ingredients in garlic are thiosulfinates, of which the predominant one is allicin, sulfoxides such as alliin and dithiins, of which ajoene is the most widely researched. These compounds are not only responsible for the pungent odor of garlic, but also for its benefits to your health. Among the other components of garlic are selenium, manganese and vitamins B6 and C.
Before considering the other effects of garlic on your health, we shall first consider how it benefits the immune system. The immune system is an essential part of human biology, and protects your body from invasion by pathogenic organisms. Without the immune system your body would rapidly be overcome by bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and other foreign bodies, and your body would rapidly fail to function.
The immune system consists of several components that can act in concert to protect you from these foreign invaders. It is too large a subject to be discusses in this article, although its major components are the thymus, the spleen, the lymphatic system, bone marrow, antibodies, and white blood cells of various types. Without it your body would rapidly be broken down to nothing, and would revert to a skeleton in a few weeks.
It is your immune system that causes inflammation, fevers, boils and pus. These are all examples of the immune system at work to protect your body, and even a fever is the immune system raising your body temperature to one that is unfavorable to invaders. Arthritis and hay fever are other examples of how your immune system reacts to invaders, in one case mistaking damaged joint tissue as being foreign and responding by causing inflammation to protect the joint, and in the other a reaction to invading bodies such as pollen.
So what does garlic do to help your immune system? Let's first have a look at the inflammatory reaction of the immune system, a prime example of which is rheumatoid arthritis. The inflammation is caused by compounds known as prostaglandins and thromboxanes, the biosynthesis in your body of which requires the enzymes lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase (LOX and COX). If these enzymes can be inhibited, then the inflammatory response can be modulated, and LOX and COX inhibition is one of the studies currently being carried out into the treatment of some forms of cancers.
However, where garlic comes in here is that two effective non-reversible inhibitors of LOX and COX are the chemicals Di(1-propenyl) sulfide and ajoene, and both of these are components of garlic. Garlic can therefore be used, not to stop the inflammatory response altogether since it is an essential part of the immune system for certain infections, but to modulate it and protect you from the more severe effects of conditions such as arthritis - both osteo and rheumatoid - and asthma, which is also an immune response.
Allicin has been shown to work with vitamin C to kill certain types of bacteria and viruses, and can help the immune system to protect you from colds and flu, Candida and some gastroenteric viruses. It can also be effective against some of the more powerful pathogens such as tuberculosis. It should be stressed that garlic will not cure these conditions, but help the immune system to deal with them. In fact with respect to the common cold, a study at Munich University has shown that garlic significantly reduces the activity of kappa-B, which is a nuclear transcription factor that mediates the inflammatory response. In other words, the cold symptoms are greatly reduced.
This is significant, since increased kappa-B levels can be triggered off by any pathogen that causes an inflammatory response by the immune system (e.g. infection, allergens, physical trauma). The study showed that unfertilized garlic provided a reduction of 25% in kappa-B activity, while garlic fertilized with sulfur reduced it by 41%.
There have been other studies carried out that demonstrated that Helicobacter pylori, the organism responsible for gastritis and peptic ulcers, was less active in those that took a regular amount of garlic in their diet. This was shown by measuring the antibody concentration, and while H.pylori was found in both sets (with and without garlic in the diet), the antibody count in the garlic-eating set was much lower indicating a significantly lower population of the bacterium.
Another unexpected result was that a group taking both cooked and uncooked garlic had a lower antibody count than those taking either cooked or uncooked. This appears to indicate that cooking changes the chemical nature of garlic, so that both forms work together to provide a more potent effect that cooked and uncooked separately.
What has also been established is that odorless garlic has less of an effect on the immune system that natural garlic, so while the odorless type is more socially acceptable, it is not so good at supporting your immune system. The allicin levels in odorless garlic are very much lower than in the natural bulb.
Garlic has also been found to be able to help with certain types of cancer. Two servings weekly have been found effective in protecting from colon cancer. Allicin has been found to protect colon cells from the toxic effect of various chemicals, and also reduce the growth rate of any cancerous cells that develop. People in Southern Europe consuming large quantities of garlic have been shown to be 39% less liable to contract cancer of the mouth and pharynx, and 57% less liable to contract cancer of the esophagus. It also had an effect on other cancers, including breast and ovarian cancer. However, the effect of onions on such cancers is even greater.
Most people are aware of the cardiovascular benefits of garlic, and it can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels and serum triglyceride levels, thus protecting against the harmful condition of atherosclerosis and also of diabetic heart disease. Reduced atherosclerosis means a reduced chance of heart attacks or strokes. It also appears to possess antioxidant properties.
There is no doubt that garlic helps to promote a healthy immune system, although the odorless form appear to be less effective in this respect as natural garlic, and there is evidence that a diet containing uncooked and cooked garlic can be more effective than either of these alone.
Flax Seed Oil
August 07, 2008 01:53 PM
Flax seed naturally contains a variety of different categories of essential fatty acids, which includes alpha linoleic acid, linoleic acid, and omega-9 oleic acid. A lot of flax seed’s benefits are a function of its content of alpha linoleic acid, which is converted in the body to a longer chain of omega-3 EPA. Research has proven that supplementation with flax seed oil can help to increase the EPA concentrations in many tissues of the body. One of the main areas of research has been inflammation.
Many factors contribute to inflammatory reactions, including omega-6 linoleic acid, which can be converted into pro-inflammatory substances. Flax alpha linoleic acid can convert into EPA, which has the ability to convert into a prostaglandin that has anti-inflammatory properties. In inflammatory states, alpha linoleic acid and EPA compete with linoleic acid for enzymatic metabolism, resulting in a decreased production of pro-inflammatory substances. Many studies have found that the use of flax seed oil in domestic food preparation can reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines.
These studies have also shown the ability of omega-3 rich fish oils to inhibit inflammatory mechanisms in the autoimmune disease lupus nephritis, which lead to the investigation into flax having any abilities in this area. One trial found that 30g/d of flax seed was optimal for improving kidney function, decreasing inflammation, and reducing atherosclerotic development. Flax also contains antioxidants, which may be helpful to those who have SLE.
Research has also been conducted to investigate the hormonal modulating effects of ingesting lignans, which are antioxidant and phyto-estrogenic compounds that are found in flax seed. Clinical evidence indicates that phytoestrogens have an anti-cancer effect on the breast. Experimental studies in animals and humans have also demonstrated flax’s anti-cancer effects, with a 1998 review indicating that the consumption of flax may be used as a secondary prevention method against breast cancer. Flax seed has also been shown to promote prostate health, as it plays a key role in the treatment of an enlarged prostate.
The cardiovascular system is also another area of research focus for flax seed. One study showed that three months of flax seed supplementation resulted in LDL cholesterol levels dropping significantly, while HDL cholesterol did not change. Other research has shown serum lipid level reduction, but a large amount of flax seed was required to be consumed to get the same lipid-lowering effects as fish oils. Flax lignans also possess anti-platelet activating factor activity and antioxidant activity. Animal research has shown that flax seed reduced the development of aortic atherosclerosis’ by 46 percent and suppressed oxygen-free radicals.
The research concluded that dietary flax seed supplementation could prevent hypercholesterolemia-related heart attack and strokes. Lastly, the elasticity of arteries is an important factor of circulatory function, which decreases as the cardiovascular risk increases. Research has proven that obese people consuming a diet high in ALA from flax seed oil experience a marked rise in arterial elasticity, which reflects a rapid improvement in the arterial circulation.
Although flax seed offers many potential benefits, ingesting the right form of supplemental flax is crucial to gaining these benefits. Flax oil supplements are a good source of EFAs, but they do not provide great amounts of lignans. On the other hand, whole or ground flax seed is effective, but is not especially palatable. The best option of flax seed is the liquid in capsule form, as it delivers both EFAs and lignans. The nutritional value and certain beneficial results can be gained by consuming about 3,000 mg daily.
August 03, 2008 07:49 AM
Feverfew is often used in the treatment of migraines and fever, but it has also long been used as an anti-inflammatory agent. It is thought to be similar to aspirin in the way it reduces inflammation. Aspirin works by blocking the production of prostaglandins, which cause inflammation in the body, among many other functions. Similar to aspiring and other anti-inflammatory drugs, feverfew works to inhibit the production of prostaglandins, which reduces inflammatory reactions that occur in the body. Not only may feverfew help with inflammation in cases of pain, but it also helps in cases of arthritis.
One of the oldest diseases known to man, arthritis involves one or more of the movable joints in the body. Arthritis is a general name for a variety of diseases that are characterized by joint pain and inflammation. Striking both the young and old, it is an extremely debilitating condition with symptoms ranging from mild aching to severe pain and deformity. Inflammation can often be found along with the pain, as well as morning stiffness, swelling, and tenderness being common in most cases. Arthritis has been shown to either appear suddenly, or come on slowly over an extended period of time. Diet has been found to be a primary factor in most cases, although some types of arthritis may be inherited or the result of a viral infection.
Conventional treatment of arthritis has involved the use of NSAIDs to help with inflammation and pain, but they do nothing to heal the problem. They may also inhibit the body’s own natural immune function as they temporarily eliminate symptoms. Some evidence has even shown that the use of anti-inflammatory medication for a long time may lead to further joint damage and serious side effects such as gastrointestinal, kidney, and liver problems. Because of this, many people are finding relief with natural healing. Although there are a variety of types of arthritis, the three most common forms are osteoarthritis, in which the joints wear out because of injury or normal wear and tear; rheumatoid arthritis, which is a condition that results from the immune system attacking the body tissue; and gout, which is painful inflammation that results because of excess uric acid in the blood. Rheumatoid arthritis has been found to benefit the most from the use of feverfew. Feverfew may be useful due to its ability to inhibit the formation of inflammation-promoting compounds, with properties similar to NSAIDs but with less potential complications and side effects.
Along with the treatment of arthritis, feverfew has many other possible uses. Included in these uses are: fever, high blood pressure, insect repellent, psoriasis and eczema, menstrual cramps, allergies, digestion, as a sedative to relax and induce sleep, and for its antimicrobial properties to inhibit the growth of staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria.
Because the parthenolide content of feverfew plants vary dramatically depending on the soil and location of cultivation, it is necessary to buy commercial products from reputable companies who have high quality control measures in place. The best preparations are ones using as little heat as possible, since parthenolide is highly unstable when in contact with high heat, such as freeze-drying. Freeze-dried capsules are extremely easy to use and can easily be found in many health food stores.
August 01, 2008 12:58 PM
It seems more and more common that people are looking at every possibility to wellness before they make a decision on the best form of treatment for them, with many taking their time to search for the best possible solution. Feverfew is a medicinal folk remedy, used abundantly in the past, and is currently being used because of its beneficial effects. For thousands of years, feverfew has been used as a medical treatment and is now becoming one of the most common herbal relievers of migraine pain. Scientific research has recently become available on the use of this herb in treatment of migraines and other forms of inflammation and pain, making interest in feverfew grow rapidly.
The feverfew plant is a member of the Asteracea or Compositae family, along with flowers such as the daisy, sunflower, black-eyed Susan, Echinacea, calendula, dandelion, burdock, and marigold. Feverfew is often referred to by other names including featherfew, featerfoil, febrifuge, wild quinine, and bachelor’s button. A busy perennial that grows from one to three feet in height, feverfew looks similar to the daisy plant with white rays and a yellow center but is smaller in size. The entire plant has a strong bitter smell which allows it to repel bees and other insects. Many people believe that the name feverfew came from the use of the flower to bring down fevers, while others believe that its name originated from the English version, featherfew, which describes the shape of the leaves on the feverfew plant.
For thousands of years, feverfew has been used for the treatment of an abundant amount of ailments. Although the exact origin of the first use is unknown, references to feverfew can be found all throughout history. In ancient times, feverfew was used in childbirth, to treat fevers, melancholy, and congestion of the lungs, as well as inflammation and swellings. Feverfew was also used for many female problems and strengthening the womb, also promoting menstrual flow. Another use of feverfew was for painful headaches, especially migraines. Feverfew is an extremely complex substance, containing several essential oils such as L-camphor, L-borneol, terpens, and esters. Another active ingredient of the feverfew plant is parthenolide. Parthenolides have been found to inhibit prostaglandins, which are found to be partially responsible for migraines as well as the inflammation process.
With headaches being a problem since the beginning of time, they are one of the most common medical complaints. Migraines are caused due to inflammation of blood vessels in the brain, which causes an intense headache pain. To determine if a headache can be classified as a migraine one should note the following: if only one side of the head is affected; whether flashing lights, blind spots, or feelings of irritability and depression occur immediately before the headache; stomach distress along with nausea and vommitting; and someone in the immediate family also suffering from migraines. The two main contributors to the problem of migraines are the trigeminal nerve system and serotonin, the nerve chemical.
Migraines involve excessive dilation or contraction of the blood vessels that are found in the brain and make up about 6% of the total number of headaches, with about 10% of the population suffering from migraines at any given time of the year, and the majority of these people being women. Migraines can be triggered by the following factors: stress, eating certain foods, alcohol, food additives such as sodium nitrate, changes in weather, seasons, time zones, or altitude, disturbance in sleep patterns, disturbance in eating habits, hormonal fluctuations, pollution, loud noise, flickering lights, constipation, and low blood sugar.
In conclusion, an increase in some of the trigger factors previously listed is thought to be the cause for the fact that the number of individuals suffering from migraines continues to climb, with the occurrence of migraines increasing by almost 60% among all age groups during the past ten years. This may be due to pollutants and poor diets that lack essential fatty acids and plastics that mimic prostaglandins which regulate the inflammation pathways in the body. So if you are suffering from pain, specifically migraines, give feverfew a try.
Essential Fatty Acids
July 24, 2008 11:19 AM
A balance in essential fatty acids is crucial for many bodily functions. It promotes good overall health as well. Particularly, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for human development and achieving good health throughout life. The tissues of the body require omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in order to function properly. There are many conditions that are improved by supplementing with omega-3 oils including high cholesterol levels, prevention of strokes, cancer prevention/treatment, psoriasis and eczema, heart disease, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Diets that are high in saturated fat are often linked with high blood-cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Many diet therapies that aim to reduce the build-up of cholesterol and risk of CHD focus mainly on reducing the total and saturated fat intake. Dietary interventions that reduce saturated fat intake by simply three percent could even prevent about 100,000 new cases of coronary heart disease within the next 7 years. Once dietary saturated fats are decreased, they may be replaced with polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids that lower both total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol.
Although a person’s genetic inheritance has a lot to do with the likelihood of developing heart disease, it is becoming increasingly clear that modifying your lifestyle can improve the effects of your genes. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S., but people can reduce their risk by adopting prevention habits. Some of the most crucial tactics are avoiding smoking, maintaining a desirable blood cholesterol level, keeping blood pressure in the normal range, and regularly engaging in aerobic exercise. Along with these lifestyle habits, alpha-linolenic acid can be taken as supplementation to improve the body’s ability to fight heart disease.
Alpha-linolenic acid has also been shown to lower the risk of stroke, which is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to lower blood pressure by small but significant amounts and have also been able to lower levels of hypertension. Essential fatty acids also have the ability to reduce inflammation of the synovial fluid in the joints, which means that they can help in rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that affects at least forty million people in the United States.
Multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system that destroys myelin sheaths that cover the nerve and creates inflammation, has symptoms including blurred vision, dizziness, numbness, weakness, tremors, slurred speech, and staggering. Studies have shown that multiple sclerosis is at least partially caused by the deficiency of prostaglandins, which are produced from essential fatty acids.
Psoriasis, a skin disease that is characterized by patches of scaly skin on the knees, elbows, and scalp, but possibly anywhere, is considered essentially incurable by conventional methods, but dietary methods have offered some hope. Because of its rich essential fatty acid content, flaxseed oil is one of the natural therapeutic agents suggested for psoriasis. There is some evidence that suggests that a consistent supply of omega-3 oils may help to prevent fat-sensitive types of cancers, as well as inhibit breast, colon, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
July 22, 2008 01:51 PM
DHA is a fatty acid that is essential for many body processes and structures. Fatty acids are the building blocks that create lipids, which are important nutrients that make up 25 to 45 percent of total body energy for most of those who are living in industrialized countries. The majority of dietary fatty acids are made from dairy products, meat, margarine, and vegetable oils.
Lipids are important because they store and transport energy from one part of the body to another and they also insulate and mechanically protect certain parts of the body. Any fat that is eaten is converted by the body into fatty acids, where it is then burned for energy, stored, or synthesized into other acids which are called prostaglandins. Some fatty acids are also vital structural components of cell membranes. DHA is part of a special class of highly concentrated, long-chained, polyunsaturated fatty acids called omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are looked at as one of the most fundamental molecules in the structure and activity of the membranes of all cells. They have a huge influence on the production of cellular regulatory compounds which are known as eicosanoids. They also are highly specialized in their function in neurological tissues, especially the retina of the eye. It is also very likely that omega-3s have specific and beneficial effects on the heart muscle, while they also influence the production of substances that control immune responses.
Fatty acids are short-chained, medium-chained, or long chained. Short-chain fatty acids are water-soluble and absorbed directly from the intestine into the bloodstream. They are generally used for immediate energy and can be found most abundantly in dairy products. Long-chained fatty acids are more emphasized when it comes to health concerns as they are stored in cell membranes and have a huge affect on membrane protein function. Their behavior in tissue membrane is what makes them greatly influential in health.
Besides the length of the chain, fatty acids are also described by their saturation. Saturation means how many hydrogen atoms the fatty acid carries. Fatty acids that carry as many hydrogen atoms as they can are called saturated fatty acids, while those that lose a pair of hydrogen atoms become unsaturated. This loss of hydrogen atoms creates a double bond between the two carbon atoms on either side of the missing hydrogen atoms. Those fatty acids that have one double bond are called monounsaturated fatty acids, while those with two or more double bonds are called polyunsaturated fatty acids. Most omega-3 fatty acids are highly unsaturated and have five or more double bonds.
EPA and alpha-linolenic acid are most commonly found in plant sources. DHA and EPA are made in phytoplankton, which is consumed by fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. The above reason is why these two essential fatty acids are found mainly in the aquatic food chain. LNA and EPA cannot substitute for DHA in all metabolic functions, even though DHA and EPA are more able to cover for each other in certain metabolic functions. It has been found that LNA is less effective than EPA which is less effective than DHA in enriching tissues, meaning that food sources such as vegetables and seed oils are not as good of sources than sea foods or other foods that are enriched with DHA and EPA. DHA in itself provides most of the health benefits displayed in research, to take essential oils that contain no DHA would limit the health benefits discussed above and from other sources. Have you had your DHA today?
Can the Fatty Acid CLA Help me Lose Weight ?
July 14, 2008 03:28 PM
CLA is conjugated linoleic acid, a compound known as a trans fatty acid due to its stereochemistry, and while trans fatty acids are generally regarded as harmful, CLA is not because it is conjugated. This means that it has alternate single and double bonds in the backbone carbon chain, and the overall energy of the molecule is therefore reduced.
Linoleic acid itself is one of the omega-6 fatty acids, the 6 referring to the double bond at the sixth carbon from the omega and of the carbon backbone chain. It is believed to be the cause of heart disease and obesity due to its increasing use in the diet at the expense of omega-3 fatty acids. When the molecule is conjugated, however, the fatty acid has different chemical properties to the standard isomer, and natural CLA is mainly found in cattle products, such as beef and dairy products.
Conjugated linoleic acid is present in cattle because it is formed when linoleic acid is converted to oleic acid by rumen bacteria, that are responsible for the microbial fermentation of the feed of ruminant animals such as sheep and cattle. When oleic acid is formed, so too is CLA. However, the form used in supplements is manufactured from vegetable oils, and therefore suitable for use by vegetarians. The usual vegetable oils used are safflower oil and sunflower oil.
It is believed to possess several beneficial properties, including antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, but it is for its ability to reduce body fat that it is best known to most people. A growing amount of information is being collected on the use of CLA as a supplement in the weight loss industry, although there are as yet no definitive mechanisms that explain its action. However, recent studies have indicated it possess properties that can help to reduce the levels of low density lipoproteins in the blood, and reduce the possibility of atherosclerosis due to LDL oxidation by free radicals.
It is also theorized that CLA in some way regulates the prostaglandin biosynthesis that controls the level of hormones in the body that can regulate growth. An increase in growth hormones is one way in which athletes promote an increase in muscle bulk, while reducing their fatty tissue mass. CLA is also purported to increase thermogenesis, and so promote the loss of body fat and overall weight.
Although most studies on the effect of conjugated linoleic acid in reducing body weight have been carried out on animals, recent animal studies have indicated that might not so much reduce weight, as to increase muscle bulk while reducing that of body fat. The end result, therefore, is not a loss of weight, but a leaner body that has more muscle and less fat. All it needs is the results on animals to be transferred to humans, and this, of course, is frequently the case. However, initial studies on the use of CLA in the human diet have been very positive, so the signs are good.
Most scientific progress in human biochemistry has been obtained by virtue of prior studies on animals. These studies, of course, have been beneficial to the animals, making them leaner and much fitter than they otherwise would have been. It is believed that the same will be true of humans taking CLA as a supplement. In fact, recent studies are split about 50/50 with regard to the effects on humans.
While some studies have shown no benefit, about an equal number have shown a positive benefit in the reduction in the mass of fat in the body. Some of the negative studies may have been flawed in measuring total body weight, and not the relative amounts of muscle and fat, and also basing their results on people already with a low level of fat in their body. In that respect, then, the results look very favorable, and taking CLA as a supplement is likely to help you to reduce fat and increase muscle, if not altogether lose total body weight. However, is that not the end result that most people want? They might not want to be lighter in weight, just to have more muscle mass and less fat tissue.
In a study shown at a 2002 Experimental Biology meeting, it was shown that is was possible to substantially reduce body fat mass by taking CLA alone, and when it was taken in association with guarana, both the size and the number of fats cells in the body were reduced by 50%. However it has also been shown that CLA can be oxidized by free radicals shortly after ingestion, and that sesame lignans help to prevent this. Since sesame lignans can also be used in conjunction with CLA to reduce fat by increasing the level of fatty acid oxidation in the liver, than the benefit of CLA seems obvious.
The antioxidant effect of CLA is one possible explanation for its anti-cancer properties, though there are others. Its antioxidant properties also have an anti-catabolic effect, in that it can help to prevent the wastage of muscle tissue. The FDA has published studies that attest to these anti-cancer properties. Diabetics, however, should consult with their physician before taking CLA as a supplement, since there is a body of thought that it reduces sensitivity to insulin. Others believe the opposite, so more studies might be needed in this aspect of the substance before it can be said to be safe for use by diabetics.
Over recent years, the American diet has increased significantly in its content of the undesirable linoleic acid, due to its ubiquitous presence in margarines, and has reduced in CLA due to modern farming methods. Cattle feeding techniques have resulting in a reduction of CLA in meat products and milk, although eggs are still a rich source, and the CLA in eggs can resist temperatures used in normal cooking methods such as frying, boiling, etc.
It is this CLA deficiency in the diet that has been proposed as one of the reasons for the current obesity problem in the USA. The European diet contains more beneficial fatty acids in general than the American diet.
However, there is an increasing body of evidence being accumulated that collectively that suggests almost unequivocally that CLA can help you lose body fat. Unless you are diabetic, there are few if any contra-indications and an increasing number of people are finding it effective not only to lose body fat, but to replace it with hard lean muscle.
May 29, 2008 12:35 PM
The Japanese have used deer antler velvet for years in treating male sexual dysfunction. Chinese medical practitioners have prescribed it to men for impotence and to women for infertility and frigidity. In the United States, it is promoted as a sexual energy booster and an aphrodisiac. Studies are ongoing to determine if these are legitimate claims. Other studies are building evidence that deer antler velvet may also be helpful in:
* Cancer prevention * Drug addiction support * Immune system support * Liver protection * Osteoporosis treatment * Pain control * Sports performance
Deer antler velvet, which has been found to contain cartilage, is also being studied for it effectiveness in treating arthritis. It is being promoted as an effective treatment for osteoarthritis. This is usually caused by physical injury or is a result of the aging process. The main cause of osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Joints that are usually most affected are in the hands, knees, back and hips.
Recent studies are showing that deer antler velvet contains nutrients that are important to the immune system and the joints. Some of these include calcium, phosphorus, prostaglandins, chondroitin and glucosamine sulfate.
In patients suffering from osteoarthritis, the administration of deer antler velvet has led to reduced joint pain at three and six month intervals. It has proven to be safe to take in conjunction with prescription arthritis medications.
As with any natural or herbal product, quality is the key to finding a good and helpful source of deer antler velvet. Because it is not a synthetic product, quality and effectiveness may vary between batches and suppliers.
May 01, 2008 02:45 PM
Bromelain consists of two enzymes that digest proteins, otherwise known as proteases or proteolytic enzymes. These enzymes are obtained from different parts of the plant, one from the stem and the other from the fruit. It also includes protease inhibitors, acid phosphatase, peroxidase and calcium.
First used as a supplement in 1959, bromelain is particularly popular in Germany, where a lot of the recent research has been carried out. Because the stem enzyme is in the greatest amount, eating pineapple will not give a great deal of bromelain, and you will have to take the supplement which is extracted from the stem in order to get the greatest benefits.
Bromelain has several therapeutic effects on the body, and is a good aid to digestion. The enzyme can boost the digestive processes and so reduce the incidence of problems such as heartburn, acid reflux and any other condition caused by the incomplete digestion of foods. It does this by breaking down proteins so they are more easily digested.
In fact its potency is sometimes measured in GDUs (Gelatin Digesting Units), gelatin being a common protein that is easily used for the measurement of bromelain activity. It is also measured in MCU (Milk Clotting Units), since bromelain can also be used to clot milk, and a standardized dose should contain 2 MCU per milligram. The dosage to use depends a great deal on the condition being treated, but a good general average for digestive problems is 500 mg three times daily.
Bromelain works best at an optimum pH of 4.5 – 5.5 and can therefore help to balance the pH in its environment. It is extremely important to the immune system that the pH of the body is balanced and controlled to within certain limits, and bromelain can help to achieve that. In helping to reduce the excessive acidity caused by poor digestion, a balanced pH of the stomach is also maintained, helping to reduce the feeling of nausea, common with some digestive defects. The overall result of bromelain supplement is to help to maintain a better digestive system and ease the discomfort of many people for whom a meal is frequently not the pleasure it should be.
Bromelain is also an anti-inflammatory, and used for temporary relief of the inflammation caused by surgical procedures, arthritis and various injuries and forms of disease It is commonly used for the treatment of sports injuries and also immediately after surgery to reduce the risk of inflammation. It appears to have an inhibiting effect of the production of pro-inflammatory metabolites in the body, although the mechanism by which it works is not yet fully understood.
In fact many of the therapeutic benefits of bromelain have been show to be only partially due to its proteolytic activity, and it is now believed that there are also as yet unidentified non-protein factors present in bromelain that contribute to these forms of health benefit. The biochemistry of bromelain has yet to be fully characterized.
Notwithstanding that, the substance has been recommended for the treatment of a wide range of connected conditions, such as gout, arthritis, hemorrhoids, ulcerative colitis, autoimmune disorders, hay fever and sinusitis. It is particularly useful where there is pain, where tissues have become swollen and when tissue repair is needed. It appears to inhibit pain-inducing prostaglandins and is also believed in some way to induce the biochemical production of other prostaglandins that have an anti-inflammatory effect.
All of this knowledge has come as a result of studies carried out on the biochemical activity of bromelain, but have not yet been proved and is indicative of the lack of biochemical knowledge on this substance and the chemicals it contains. What have been demonstrated, however, are its effects on platelets and blood clots in arteries.
It appears to do this by the inhibition of the formation of high levels of fibrinogen from which clots are made, and also inhibits the aggregation of blood platelets and their ability to stick to the endothelial cells of blood vessels, particularly the arteries. The fibrin that is produced from fibrinogen not only promotes blood clotting but is also associated wit the retention of fluid. It is a protein, and the proteolytic effect of bromelain also breaks this down.
Bromelain therefore works in a number ways to reduce fluid retention, prevent blood clotting and inhibit the aggregation of blood platelets on artery walls. The measurable effect of this is the thinning of the blood that such activity promotes. It is logical that if fibrin contributes to the viscosity of blood, then its destruction will result in thinner blood, and hence lower blood pressure.
It is also used in the treatment of burns, where it helps to remove the dead skin that can delay recovery after third degree burns. It also appears to promote the absorption of many antibiotics, which again helps in recovery.
Bromelain is relatively safe to use with few side effects, although, curiously, among the side effects are some conditions it is also used to treat. Among these are nausea and allergic reactions, along with diarrhea and excessive menstrual flow. One of its successes has been in the control of menstrual pain.
Bromelain has been proposed for cancer therapy, its potential use being recommended due to its effect of the adhesion of cells, its regulation of the immune function and its effect on the immunosuppressive cytokine TGF-beta that is involved in several types of cancer and their metastasis (spread to other parts of the body). However, a lot more work is needed on this for definite conclusions to be drawn.
On a more practical note, the effect of bromelain on proteins is put to use as a steak tenderizer. If the product is sprinkled in powdered form onto meat, and then forked into the tissue, the enzymes will break down the protein of the meat and make it tender when cooked. However, don’t overdo it or you will end up eating a meaty mush more akin to a soft meatloaf than a good steak!
All in all, bromelain is a useful supplement for many medical conditions, and does to food in your stomach what it does to steak on the plate. It is generally used in supplement form because the active enzyme is not in a high enough concentration in the fruit itself, but in the stem from which it is extracted after the fruit has been harvested. It is also easier to standardize a supplement than a fruit.
Curcumin, Curcuminoids, and Curamin
April 30, 2008 10:40 AM
Curcumin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, possesses many potentially far-reaching health benefits. After many studies preformed on humans, animals, and in-vitro, it has been found that curcumin may be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetic retinopathy, and cancer. All of these previously listed diseases share an underlying inflammation, which can be diminished by curcumin.
If you have ever eaten curry or cooked with the spice turmeric, you’ve consumed curcumin. Curcumin, which consists of several curcuminoids, is the active constituent of turmeric, which is used in curry. Turmeric is biologically related to ginger. Curcumin works as an antioxidant by boosting levels of glutathione S-transferase, which is one of the body’s main antioxidants. It also blocks the formation of the prostaglandin E2, which is compound that promotes inflammation within the body. Curcumin also inhibits the activity of nuclear factor kappa beta, which is another substance that is involved in inflammation. Additionally, it reduces the activity of COX-2 and 5-LOX, which are two more inflammation-promoting enzymes. Lastly, curcumin prevents mutations that can result in DNA, which helps to maintain healthier, younger cells.
Curcumin taken as a supplement can help with any conditions and diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, liver and kidney protection, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory diseases. A study using a curcumin-rich turmeric extract done at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in Tucson, treated rheumatoid arthritis in laboratory animals. The results showed that this extract blocked joint inflammation as well as the breakdown of joint cartilage and bone by inhibiting the genes that are involved in inflammation. Curcumin also holds a great amount of promise in preventing cancer and also as an adjunct treatment.
Animal studies have shown that curcumin can protect against colon, intestinal, oral, and skin cancers as its benefits come from several mechanisms. First of all, it blocks the cell-growth cycle in cancer cells, which leads to cell destruction. Additionally, it reduces free radicals by its antioxidant properties, which can lead to cancer-causing cell mutations. Studies have also found that curcumin can protect the liver from a variety of toxic compounds. One recent study left researchers reporting that curcumin increased the clearance of creatinine and urea, which are signs of improved kidney function. It also reduced liver damage from toxic chemicals and excess iron.
Japanese doctors have recently used curcumin to treat patients with ulcerative colitis. A combination of curcumin and conventional medications has led to the best benefits over six months of treatment. Since inflammation is the root of all chronic degenerative diseases, curcumin is likely to be beneficial for many different conditions. So far, research has identified curcumin’s benefits for diabetic retinopathy, lung disorders, and skin problems including psoriasis.
Turmeric, which is the source of curcumin, has been used as a culinary spice for the past 2,000 years, was used by ancient Greeks, and is now a widely recommended Ayurvedic medicine. It is native to India and other regions of South Asia. By eating a lot of curry, which is rich in curcumin, you may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and help to maintain mental function. One study proved that people who often ate curry had half the risk of becoming mentally impaired. By eating curry on occasion, the risk of mental decline can be reduced by a little more than a third. Curcumin can be safely taken in amounts from 500 to 8,000 mg daily. Look for a standardized supplement containing at least 90 percent curcumin.
April 29, 2008 10:49 AM
Butterbur extract is taken mainly from the rhizome, root and leaves of the butterbur, a member of the daisy family. They are very hardy and have creeping underground rhizomes and large leaves like those of rhubarb. Another name given to it is the sweet Coltsfoot, and they generally grow in the temperate climates of Europe, North Africa and South west Asia. They like damp conditions, specifically marshes and ditches, and also riverbanks where there are always plentiful supplies of moisture.
It has been used by Native Americans for headaches and inflammation, and has been shown to be an effective remedy for hay fever and to provide relief from painful menstrual cramps. Butterbur has also been used throughout the middle Ages to treat fever and the plague, and has been recorded in the seventeenth century as being used for asthma, wounds and coughs. However, one of its most important applications is in restore bladder function in the incontinent and semi-incontinent.
Urinary incontinence is typified by an unusually high frequency of urination – more than 8 times a day, an immediate strong urge to pass water or leaking and involuntary urination. Any two of these three indicates urinary incontinence. As people age their bladders become smaller, and by definition the periods between urination will reduce. This does not, however, suggest that bladder size is the cause of urinary incontinence.
Urination is caused by the contraction of the smooth layered muscle that surrounds the bladder, called the detrusor, a contraction in turn caused by neurons both in the brain and in the detrusor itself. This naturally contracts and expands according to the volume of urine in the bladder, and once the bladder is about half full the brain will tell you that the detrusor is ready to contract to expel the urine. However, if the time is not convenient, the cortex will suppress this desire until a more convenient time.
In incontinence, the desire is suppressed but the neurons still fire to contract the detrusor, expelling urine at inconvenient moments. Butterbur contains the sesquiterpenes petasin and isopetasin, which are known to reduce spasms in smooth muscle tissue and in vascular walls. It can therefore be used to control the involuntary spasms that cause urine leakage or expulsion against the patient’s wishes. These sesquiterpenes are at highest concentration in the roots of the plant.
The effect that the sesquiterpenes have in inhibiting the synthesis of leukotriene in leukocytes tends to support this effect, since leukotrienes can cause contraction of vascular and smooth muscle tissue. Not only this, but the spasmolytic effect could also be explained by the inhibition of cellular calcium caused by the petasin isomers.
Many studies have indicated that the effectiveness of butterbur extract is also useful in the prevention of migraines. There has been a lot of research carried out on the use of butterbur extract on migraine sufferers, and the effective dose appears to about 75 mg twice daily. There is little evidence of it being a cure but as a prophylactic there appears no doubt of its efficacy: there have been too many positive results against placebos for its effect to be deniable.
It is significant that leukotriene can cause constriction of the small blood vessels in the veins, and so affect the flow of blood. Butterbur, in inhibiting its biochemical production, helps to keep these blood vessels open. Lekotrienes are also important components of inflammation, and altogether it appears that whatever the real cause of migraine, the petasin isomers in butterbur have an effect in inhibiting its initiation. Add to that the potential reduction in calcium content that can cause blood vessels to become less flexible, and the argument for its effectiveness is both irrefutable and well explained.
In one example of such a double blind study that is representative of many, a group of patients given 50 mg butterbur extract twice a day for twelve weeks experienced a 60% reduction in the frequency of attacks, a reduction in the severity of the attacks they did have, and a reduction in the length of the attacks. Although the vascular theory of the cause of migraine is no longer supported, maintenance of the vascular system appears to at least reduce the likelihood of attacks.
The effect of butterbur on asthma and other allergic reactions is also well documented. This again is due to its anti-spasmodic properties and inhibitory effect on the inflammatory immune response through the inhibition of leukotriene synthesis and the consequent positive effect on the metabolism of prostaglandin. Prostaglandins also constrict vascular smooth muscle cells, regulate the mediation of the inflammatory response and constrict general smooth muscle cells. All of these can lead a to a variety of disorders cause by smooth muscle spasms in additional to urinary incontinence, such as menstrual cramps, liver and gastrointestinal disorders and asthmatic conditions.
In one study of allergic rhinitis, administration of butterbur extract appeared to result in a reduction in the histamine and leukotriene content of nasal fluids and no difference was noticed between this treatment and histamine treatment. This was a useful study because histamines causes drowsiness and butterbur can be used as a substitute for histamine without the sedative effect. A study in Germany in 1993 has shown that the stomach ulceration caused by the anti-inflammatory medications for arthritis was reduced by the administration of butterbur extract
Cetirizine is a commonly prescribed prescription treatment for allergic conditions, and studies comparing that with butterbur demonstrated them to be equally effecting in reducing the symptoms typical of allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion. 50% of the patients in the group took each and there was no difference in results. Again it was explained by the petasin limiting the production of leukotriene and histamine, both of which are produced by the immune response and promote mucous secretions and inflammation. They also constrict airways that can be serious to asthma sufferers
These studies are simply providing scientific evidence and explanations for the tradition use of this plant for such conditions. Butterbur has been used for centuries to treat such conditions all over Western Europe, and once again the use of traditional medicine has been supported by modern investigative techniques.
Bilberry Extract Is A Powerful Antioxidant That Strengthens Veins
April 12, 2008 11:06 AM
Bilberry extract is taken from the Vaccinium myrtillus, or bilberry, a small blue berry that has been used traditionally for the treatment of conditions now known to be due to inflammation and the action of free radicals on the body.
Among these is atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, caused by the free radical oxidation of the low density lipids that carry cholesterol around the bloodstream, and that cause deposition of fatty plaques on the arterial walls and eventually constricts them to a stage that can cause heart failure or a stroke, depending on whether the arteries are close to the heart or in the brain.
However, additional to treating this condition, bilberry has also traditionally been used for the treatment of varicose veins and also for certain eye conditions. In fact it was during the Second World war that the Royal Air Force in Britain received reports from pilots that their night vision improved after eating bilberries. Not only their vision, but the restoration of night vision after exposure to glare.
This was extremely important to war-time pilots who had to be able to rapidly adapt their vision to fly their plane after exposure to searchlights and explosive detonations. That is the reason for anything that appeared to promote this essential adaptation to be reported.
The pharmacology of these effects have been found to be due to the anthocyanosides in which bilberries are particularly rich. Anthocyanosides consist of an anthocyanaidin backbone, to which one of either arabinose, galactose or glucose can be bound. Since bilberry contains five of these anthocyanadins, then there are fifteen different anthocyanosides in the fruit concentrate.
The area of the retina that appears to control night vision, and the transition from day to night sight, is called the epithelium which is connected with purple vision. Anthocyanosides seem to have an affinity for this part of the retina, and in so doing plays an important part in this type of vision, specifically night vision although it is also beneficial in improving day vision.
Although bilberry also contains vitamins A and C, hydroquinone and tannins, it is the anthocyanosides that provide it with its unique antioxidant properties, and also its effect upon collagen fibers. It can cross-link collagen fibers to help overcome weaknesses in the connective tissues such as cartilage, tendons and the walls of blood vessels.
Its effect as an antioxidant is to prevent the cleavage of collagen by the cyzymes that are secreted by leukocytes generated by the immune system. By preventing histamine release, and release of prostaglandins and other proteins and cells mobilized during the immune inflammatory response to the detection of foreign invasion into human tissue, anthocyanosides can help to reduce inflammation and to protect against other extreme reactions of the immune system that can harm the organism it evolved to protect.
The most powerful property of anthocyanosides are their antioxidant properties: perhaps even its only property once all of the conditions it helps to protect against are fully understood. An antioxidant combines with free radicals and destroys them. Free radicals are particularly vile chemical entities that require an electron to make them stable, and they take this electron from the nearest source. This can result in oxidation and destruction of many bodily tissues leading to premature aging, atherosclerosis, eye damage and many other problems that result from the destruction of body cells and tissue.
The various constituents that make up bilberry act in concert to scavenge the free radicals and increase the supply of oxygen to the eye. The benefits of this are in helping to prevent cataracts and glaucoma, the latter due to the effect of the anthocyanoside cross-linking effect on the structure of the collagen in the eye. It can also help in cases of macular degeneration that affects the central area of the retina which might be due to the same property of there glucoside.
Moving away from the eyes and back to the vascular system, the collagen cross-linking properties of the flavonoids, which is what anthocyanosides basically are, can help to repair damaged vein tissue by strengthening the vein walls themselves, and also by providing support for the cell membranes, or outer layers of the cells.
This in turn builds up more strength in the vein tissue below the outside walls and contributes to an overall reduction in the weakness of the vein. This in turn enables it better to withstand the internal pressure put upon it by the failure of the valve that created the problem. In this way bilberries can be used to help repair the damage done by varicose veins and improve the function of the vein in returning blood to the heart from the extremities of the legs and also to help reduce the pain and swelling of varicose veins.
In addition to these beneficial effects on the vascular system and the eyes, bilberry can also help to decrease the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to pollutants, drugs and other undesirable chemicals by improving the resistance of the capillaries in the brain to the transfer of such substances through their walls. It does so by preventing the collagen of the capillaries in the brain being degraded either by enzymes or other agents, Also, by helping to strengthen that collagen structure so that it becomes more impermeable to the larger molecules that form the pollutants.
A lesser known constituent of bilberry is myrtillin, an anthocyanoside monoglucoside that is also available in all green plants, that possesses anti-glycemic properties. What this means is that it can reduce hyperglycemia and glycosurea, and so reduce blood sugar without reducing the blood sugar level to dangerously low levels. In other words it is an ideal insulin substitute.
Native Americans used green plants for teas for centuries and were free from diabetes until the came into contact with Europeans and adopted their dietary habits. Although the case has to be proved, it appears highly likely that it was the myrtillin that kept them free from a condition that affects so many other races.
Irrespective of that, however, it is for its powerful antioxidant effect that bilberry finds its best use, and also its effects on varicose veins. However, all of the above health benefits that bilberry provides, can likely be laid at the door of the combined antioxidant effect of its vitamin C content and the anthocyanosides – including the glucoside myrtillin.
The Healing Power Of Borage Oil’s GLA
November 13, 2007 10:22 AM
Borage is otherwise called the starflower, and the borage oil extracted from its seeds is very rich in GLA, gamma linolenic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid also obtainable from evening primrose oil. Borage, however, is richer in GLA, and is therefore a more economical source that the evening primrose.
A shrub, frequently seen in gardens, borage has historically been used as a salad food, and also in soups, and borage honey is prized in many quarters. Now, however, its main use is for the GLA extracted from the seed, which provides a higher yield of GLA than any other source. Borage seed oil contains up to 25% GLA, compared to the 17% from blackcurrant oil and 9% from evening primrose oil.
The importance of GLA to the body’s biochemistry is inestimable, and cannot be overstated. It is not so much the GLA that is so important, but the prostaglandin to which it is converted in the body. Prostaglandin E1 is a hormone-like substance that plays a part in many of the biochemical and metabolic processes of the body. Examples include the control of the immune system and inflammatory response, some kidney functions, and the tone of the arterial muscles, so important in the health of the cardiovascular system.
A good fatty acid metabolism benefits some very important aspects of our health such as maintaining a good blood pressure, low cholesterol levels, preventing inflammatory and immune system conditions such as arthritis, allergies and some skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis, and also improving the strength of the keratin-dependent tissues such as our nails and hair.
A deficiency in essential fatty acids also seems to stimulate the overproduction of a hormone in women called prolactin that can lead to the severe mood changes commonly referred to as pre-menstrual syndrome, or PMS. GLA appears to have a beneficial effect in the treatment of PMS, and some other conditions such as breast discomfort.
Gamma linolenic acid is created in the body from linoleic acid, of which there is a plentiful supply in margarine, vegetable oils and many processed foods, but there is a problem. Fatty acid molecules come in different isomeric forms, in which although the chemical is the same, the geometry or ‘stereochemistry’ is different. The healthy form is the ‘cis’ formation, and the other is the ‘trans’ stereoisomer. The trans fatty acids are formed by hydrogenation of oils to make them semi-solid, and more suitable for spreading. This hydrogenation process causes an irreversible change in the geometry of the fatty acid that can block the conversion of linoleic acid to GLA in the body.
Hence, although most of the western population has more than sufficient linoleic acid in their diets, many who eat an excess of trans fats have a deficiency of GLA. Some B vitamin deficiencies and a deficiency in certain minerals exacerbate this situation, and a gamma linolenic acid supplement is needed. Additional to this, the enzyme responsible for the conversion, delta-6-desaturase (D6D) can be affected by many modern environmental factors such as smoking, stress, alcohol, excessive animal fat consumption and even excessive linoleic acid consumption. The solution to all of this is GLA which does not require any enzymes for its creation, and supplemental GLA from any source can immediately take part in the biochemical pathway to the creation of the prostaglandin eicosanoids.
GLA provides the means and the resultant prostaglandins carry out the job of regulating the hormonal activity within human biochemistry. Prostaglandins help to regulate the function of many of the cells in the body, such as the smooth muscle cells of the arteries and veins that cause constriction or dilation, and on the stickiness of blood platelets causing their aggregation. They are important in the regulation of such functions as blood clotting, fluid balance and the production and balance of hormones. The anti-inflammatory properties of prostaglandin E1 are very important to the way that the body reacts to breaches by foreign invaders, and it is also thought to act to thin the blood and cause dilation of blood vessels, hence its effect in lowering the blood pressure.
So what does this mean to you, apart from the effects of the fatty acid on PMS? Borage oil can be used to treat a large number of different symptoms associated with a shortage of GLA and prostaglandin E1, and here are a few of the conditions for which a GLA supplement has been found beneficial.
A deficiency in GLA and other essential fatty acids can lead to loss of bone mass and subsequent osteoporosis and it is thought that fatty acids help the absorption of calcium by the digestive system, and to increase its deposit in bones. It can be used to increase bone mass and density and therefore strengthen the bones of those affected by osteoporosis. This is partially due to the hormone regulatory effect GLA has on the body.
Allergies appear to be very personal responses by the immune system to specific substances, and while borage oil has proved beneficial in a few allergies, and prostaglandins are known to regulate the activity of the immune response, the effectiveness of GLA treatment for allergies has been mixed. There is evidence that it can affect some cases, but not most.
GLA from borage oil can reduce the swelling and pain of rheumatoid arthritis, and helps to ease morning stiffness. Its effectiveness seems mixed, and you should try it for two or three months to determine if it helps you personally. Be careful, however, since some believe that it might react with some of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) used to treat this condition. Ibuprofen is one, so check with your physician before trying it.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, borage oil used in conjunction with Omega-3 fish oils might lower it, though more research is needed. There is a belief that the GLA is not the active agent here since Omega-3 oils are known to help to reduce hypertension, though the effect of prostaglandins on the factors that can reduce blood pressure is inarguable.
The healing power of borage oil should not be underestimated, and it has been used for centuries in folk medicine to treat many conditions, especially those that science has found to be caused by the immune system and the inflammatory response. Borage oil can be found at any Health Food Store.
Are Inflammation, Immunity, And Allergic Reactions A Role For Supplements?
November 10, 2007 11:29 AM
Inflammation, immunity diseases and allergic reactions are all connected with your immune system, and the way the body reacts to what it considers to be foreign invaders that are a risk to your health. Although you may not understand that all three have the basic underlying cause, in fact they do, and here is why.
Inflammation manifests as pain and swelling in the inflamed area, and not only can the area also get hot, but it can also raise your temperature in general, commonly called a fever. Fever is the body’s way of raising temperature above that at which foreign organisms such as bacteria and viruses can live, so any inflammatory condition that results in fever by definition must be an immune response through the body trying to eliminate foreign invaders.
If your body gets injured in any way, your immune system responds, and usually calms down again if decides that the injury is not serious. Your immune system is actually initiated by what are known as pro-inflammatory hormones, such as prostaglandins that stimulate the nerves to signal pain and swell the blood vessels close to the injury to make room for the large white blood cells when they arrive. That also allows blood and plasma to rush out and cause swelling at the site of the injury. Other prostaglandins act to quell the immune response, and get your body back to normal.
Another such hormone is a cytokine, which informs the brain of the intrusion. Some cytokines called leukocytes stop the immune system when necessary to prevent the destruction of healthy tissue, and also halt the inflammatory response. If the leukocytes are not working properly, the body can be severely damaged as the immune system becomes uncontrolled and starts to attack healthy tissue.
Then there are the histamines that allow you to expel the agents causing the problem by sneezing, watery eyes, runny noses and scratching. They lead lymphatic fluid and blood to the site of the problem in order that the invasion can be attacked and destroyed.
It is the histamines that provide what is commonly referred to as an allergic reaction, which is really the immune system coming into action to remove invaders such as pollen, dust mites and any other agent that can cause an allergy. Immunity is caused by introducing small amounts of the agent into the blood, so that the immune system can develop a memory of them. Then, when the same invader returns at a later date, the system can immediately attack them with the antibodies that have been produced.
All of these: inflammation, immunity and allergies, are caused by the reaction of the immune system to what it perceives as an invader. Normally these are bacteria and viruses, but sometimes they react to other foreign bodies such as pollen. In some people this provokes no response at all, while in others it provokes the immune system to create antibodies against the pollen, and emit histamine to expel it.
Substances that cause allergies are referred to as allergens. Many allergens are environmental, such as dust, pollen and peanuts. Some people are allergic to certain animals, such as cats or dogs, and others to chemicals in the air such as hydrocarbon emissions, particularly when in particulate form.
The symptoms can be simple, such as a runny nose, a cough and hay fever or more complex such as hives, eczema and asthma. All of these are caused by the immune system reacting to an invader. There are also foods that cause internal inflammation, such as shellfish and whitefish, eggs and tomatoes. Many of these can be extreme, leading to serious illness and can even be fatal. So what can be done to treat people who are particularly prone to inflammation and allergic reactions?
Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce inflammation, unlike their Omega-6 cousins that appear to increase it. Omega-3 oils contain chemicals known as eicosanoids, of which the prostaglandins are an example. While this might seem paradoxical, since prostaglandins are what set off the whole process, there are many types of these. Prostaglandin E2 is the type that leads to allergic immune reactions, and omega-3 fatty acids reduce the concentration of these in the blood.
Those who eat little fish tend to suffer more from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and other conditions indicating a lack of control of the immune system. On the other hand, processed foods contain more omega-6 fatty acids that can promote these conditions. The major components of omega-3 oils are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and also DHA, docosahexaenoic acid. These are all anti-inflammatories and have been shown to have very positive effects on inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and eczema. Each of these is a different type of inflammatory condition caused by inappropriate immune response.
However, it not just fish oils that can help resolve problems with our immune system. Quercetin is what is known as a flavonoid. It is a strong anti-oxidant and natural anti-histamine that combats histamine release and the swelling associated with the immune response to allergens. It also counters the inflammatory agents of arthritis and so helps to reduce the pain associated with many of these conditions. It appears to work better in conjunction with bromelain, a very powerful anti-inflammatory that also possesses anti-allergen response properties. Bromelain is extracted from pineapple stems.
Another natural product is a resin extract that is obtained from the Boswellia serrata tree. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and has been recommended for the treatment of arthritis (rheumatoid and osteo), Crohn’s disease and has been suggested as a treatment for asthma, though studies are still under way. However, world wide experience is that Boswellia is effective against gout, psoriasis and ulcerative colitis, to name another three totally different inflammatory conditions.
What all of this indicates are two things. First that inflammation, immunity and allergic reactions are connected conditions, and due to either poor control over or an over stimulated immune response to what the body perceives as being abnormal, in the way that hormones and other chemicals that are used to control our immunity detect it to be.
Secondly, there are many natural products that can be used as supplements to treat these effects caused by the immune system, and that their effectiveness has been proven, if not by scientific study, then by generations of traditional application as treatments of the symptoms of the conditions concerned.
However, although many have been proved by scientific study, others have not, and you should always refer to your physician before undergoing any treatment other than that prescribed. Also, there is incontrovertible evidence that the role for supplements in the treatment of inflammation, immunity and allergic reactions are beneficial. Many use nothing else.
Natural Remedies For Bumps, Bruises, Scrapes, and Insect Bites
November 10, 2007 09:52 AM
Whether you are a child or an adult you are as susceptible to the damage done to skin and soft tissue by hard activities as anybody else. So what can you look for if you decide have a day outdoors and face the dangers that you will come across that want to leave you bruised ,scratched, scraped, cut and itching from all the falls, knocks, stings and bites that most people experience when they are more used to spending their time indoors?
Bruises are caused by a knock, and can happen without you even being aware of it. The blood vessels get damaged and leak. If you notice it right away, you can lessen the degree of bruising by applying ice or cold water to constrict the capillaries and cut down the flow of blood leaking from them. Some people bruise easier than others, and excessive bruising for no apparent reason could be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition and you should see your doctor.
A bump, or lump, can appear for many reasons, but generally settles down after a while. It can simply be the body's reaction to a hard knock that did not damage the blood vessels, but prompted a natural swelling to protect the area. They can also be caused by insect bites. You don’t always see these little pests – they have lunch then zip off without you even being aware of it until the area begins to itch and swell. However, if you have a lump under the armpit, in your neck or behind your ears it could be a swollen gland and you should contact your physician.
Everybody gets minor scrapes now and again, and when you spend any time outside you can get bitten by insects such as mosquitoes, midges, blackflies, horse flies – you name it, they will lunch on you as on any other animals. You can also get stung by vegetable nasties, though if you do then look around for a remedy. Strangely, many stinging plants have another plant close by that can be used as a remedy. This is likely because, after being stung, people just rubbed whatever was handy on the area and eventually these remedies were discovered.
Thus, dock leaves are often found beside nettles, and touch-me-not beside poison ivy. These are good natural remedies for stings caused through contact with these particular plants, and there are many other natural remedies that can be used for the other everyday hurts that people receive just for carrying out normal activities outside in a natural environment. Let’s have a look at some of the natural remedies that people have used through the ages, and that are still used to this day, even in proprietary creams and salves.
Calendula, or marigold, is very effective in relieving skin irritations and inflammation. It can be applied topically to relieve the symptoms of bruises, cuts and scrapes, and also for the initial treatment of burns and scalds. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used on inflamed or infected cuts and skin lesions. These properties are believed to be due to the high level of flavonoids found in calendula that have anti-oxidant properties and help the immune function to do its work. Among these is the powerful Quercetin with its strong anti-histamine properties.
It also appears to possess anti-viral properties, though the reason for this is not clear and is still under investigation. Marigold also contains carotenoids and triterpene saponins, both of which will contribute to the medicinal effects. The dried flowers or leaves, or the fresh flowers, can be used and it is an old adage that pus will not form where marigold is used. It is also good for the treatment of insect bites and boils, where it appears to either prevent infection or clear up any that are there. It has also been proven to prevent the seeping of blood from the capillaries in scrapes, and to promote blood clotting.
Calendula was used during the First World War by British doctors to dress wounds and prevent infection. A dressing steeped in a mild solution of calendula extract was enough, and it likely saved many lives.
Another plant with similar properties is the alpine Arnica, which is useful to reduce the swelling and pain of bruises. It works simply by rubbing the leaves on the area when you have a fall or a hard knock. The active ingredients here are again flavonoids, and sesquiterpene lactones along with tannins, carotenoids and thymol. These, along with the flavonoids, stimulate the circulation and carry away any fluids trapped in bruises and swellings.
The sesquiterpene lactones act as anti-inflammatories and boost the immune system, helping to reduce swelling and pain. In fact terpenoid chemicals are common to many of the herbs and flowers that have found a use in the relief of pain in swelling and bruises. The same is true of Ledum, better known as Rosemary, traditionally used for the treatment of burns, ulcers dandruff, and dry skin and to get rid of lice among many other internal and topical applications.
The active ingredients of rosemary (ledum) include mono-, di- and triterpenes and also the ubiquitous flavonoids and camphor and linalool. If you wash down burns, grazes and cuts with a wash of ledum extract, then you will protect the patient from infection at the time when they are most vulnerable to infectious agents.
Hypericum has uses as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, and is therefore useful for exactly the same conditions as all of the above. It also has astringent properties, so that like Calendula, Hypericum can be used to prevent the capillary seepage that frequently leads to infections. The active ingredients here are apparently flavonoids again, with their antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Considering that they are among the most common antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in the plant world; it is no coincidence that flavonoids just happen to be contained in the vast majority of natural treatments for scratches, grazes and bruises. They reduce swelling, pain and inflammation, and also act as antiseptics by disrupting the cell walls of bacteria.
Hypericum is well known by its alternative name St. John’s Wort, where it is used in the treatment of depression. However, the active ingredients here are mainly hyperforin and hypericin, which have little to do with the topical benefits of the plant.
If you have suffered from insect bites and stings, then you would have been thankful had you brought some Apis Mellifica with you. Obtained from bees, this again contains terpenes among many other chemicals, and is used paradoxically in the treatment of bee stings and other insect stings and bites. It’s amazing how many of these old remedies contain terpenes of various types and also flavonoid chemicals. It is useful for most rashes that have raised puffy lumps, such as hives.
Finally, if you manage to stay out without getting any bruises, abrasions, scratches or bites, you will be very lucky. However, if you get sunburn through being out in the sun too long, just look around for some stinging nettle, or Urtica. The leaf contains polysaccharides and lectins that stop the production of prostaglandins in the body that cause inflammation. Your sunburn will ease and you be able to return home relatively symptom free from your day outdoors.
These natural remedies can be hard to find growing naturally due to many factors such as the time of year or your geographical location these herbs may grow in. Alternative sources are available at your local health food store where you can find all the above mentioned herbs in ointments and creams specifically formulated for your needs.
Omega-3 Relieves Depression in Some Individuals
November 02, 2007 03:27 PM
Omega-3 oils contain fatty acids that are known as essential fatty acids because they cannot be manufactured in your body but have to be taken in your diet. They provide many benefits to your body, and are also believed to relieve depression in some individuals. First, however, an overview of the more conventional benefits of omega-3 oils.
Obtainable in your diet from oily fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon and the like, omega-3 fatty acids play an important part in your normal growth and development, and are also crucial to normal brain function. They can reduce inflammation and protect you from heart disease and some cancers. Studies have shown the fatty acids to be particularly concentrated in the brain and to be important for cognitive processes and memory.
The effects of omega 3 fish oils on the brain are well documented, and they are known to be effective treatments in some cases of bipolar and schizophrenia. It is believed that they could also be used as a treatment in other disorders such as attention deficit disorder and dyslexia, but there is as yet no evidence that this is the case.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the so-called ‘bad’ low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and increase the high density lipoproteins (HDL) that take the cholesterol back to the liver for destruction. The end result is a reduction in the cholesterol content of the blood that can be deposited on the artery walls and promote atherosclerosis. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids appear to lower blood pressure in those suffering from hypertension, and so reduce their chances of heart attacks and strokes.
Omega 3 oils are also natural inflammatories, and help prevent conditions involving inflammation such as arthritis, asthma and menstrual cramps. They appear to help the immune system to fight these conditions and reduce the inflammation and its causes.
They are also important in the formation of prostaglandins that are responsible for the regulation of important functions such as blood pressure, blood clotting and immune response. They are hormone-like substances and also control the synthesis in the body of other hormones. If the balance of fatty acids in the diet is not right, then the subsequent imbalance in prostaglandin and hormone production can lead to disease.
It is in its effect on depression and mood, however, that has surprised many in the medical, profession. Ethyl-eicosapentaenoate, known as ethyl EPA, is a constituent of omega-3 fish oil and many studies have demonstrated that this substance helps cases of depression and related disorders. However, are people justified in turning to ethyl EPA to help them be cured of this condition?
In one study involving 20 people, six out of ten people given the supplement displayed significantly reduced symptoms of depression after four weeks. The effects were noticed as early as two weeks and many of the depression symptoms, such as worthlessness and insomnia, had improved after three weeks. This conformed with the results of many other studies that have been carried out world wide. In Scotland, a number of patients were studied who had failed to respond to traditional antidepressant drugs. Of the seventy patients involved in the trial, all of the patients who were treated with EPA displayed significant improvements in all the symptoms of their depression after four weeks whereas those with the placebo showed no improvement.
Of the two main components of omega-3 fish oil, EPA and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), only the EPA has this property, and the EPA works best alone when the DHA has been extracted. Studies and tests have indicated that the DHA appears to be important for the brain’s structure, but the EPA for its function, hence the reason for the ineffectiveness of the former in relieving depression which is a function of the brain rather connected to its structure. In fact, depressed people have been found to be deficient in EPA in comparison to those not suffering from the condition. The original idea for this originated with the late Dr. Horribin who was pioneer in researching the effects of lipids on the biochemistry of the brain as far back as the 1970s. Since then the world-wide research has confirmed his theory. However, the reason why this theory works in practice is not yet understood. It has been established that a diet rich in trans fats can unfavorably affect the hormones in the brain that stabilize mood, possibly due to the fats slowing down the system of messaging within the brain. This kind of effect can cause depression.
This is likely due to the slowing down of the messages passing between the synapses. Brain cells communicate by means of chemicals that cross the synapses, or small gaps between the individual cells. They are not directly connected like normal electrical circuits. It has been theorized that the EPA speeds up the passage of these messages between neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors. Other theories have also been promoted, such as that the EPA has properties of its own that cure depression by another route altogether.
A possible clue could be in the findings of one study on a man aged 21 years old whose brain was scanned before and after EPA treatment. The result showed in increase in the mass of brain cells after the treatment. This was contrary to the belief that brain cells could neither be generated nor grown once a person reaches maturity.
An individual suffering depression who would like to treat themselves with EPA would have to buy a lot of oily fish since high doses are needed for this level of therapy. However, it is found in high concentrations in a few supplements available on the market, and when choosing you must use the highest grade of EPA you can get, with as low a DHA content as you can find.
There is little doubt now; however, that the EPA content of omega-3 relieves depression in some individuals, although more work is needed to prove without doubt that it is effective with all forms of depression.
Cold Liver Oil Liquid – Lemon Flavor
June 02, 2007 02:22 PM
By now, the benefits of obtaining essential fatty acids have been well documented. Increased media coverage and vast improvements in the science used to manufacture and screen these precious oils have helped catapult the popularity of fish oil supplementation. As a result, consumers are constantly looking for safe and effective sources of fish oil, and cod liver oil is quickly becoming the product of choice for many.
Derived from the livers of Norwegian cod, Cod liver oil is considered by many to be one of the richest and most effective sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Its high concentrations of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) offer a wide range of health benefits, including both cardiovascular and cognitive support. In addition, cod liver oil is an excellent source of the fat soluble vitamin A and vitamin D3. together, these four key nutritional constituents work within the body to help support some of the body’s most vital systems.
The extensive nutritional benefits of Cod Liver Oil:
EPA Eicosapentaenoic acid is a long chain polyunsaturated acid that serves as a precursor to prostaglandin-3, a lipid substance that the body relies on to support normal platelet activity. Over the years, a multitude of studies have showcased the ability of EPA to help support healthy cardiovascular function on a number of levels. Additionally, it has been presupposed that EPA may play an important role in supporting the body’s immune system response, growth and development, and weight management.*
Docosahexaenoic acid is one of the brain’s primary structural phospholipid components, with equally high concentrations being found in the retinal region of the eyes. Based on extensive research, we have learned the low levels of DHA can interfere with the body’s ability to produce adequate amounts of serotonin—a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, emotion, memory and learning capacity. It has also been shown to help regulate healthy triglyceride levels, an essential element in supporting a healthy cardiovascular system.*
Vitamin A plays hundreds of biological roles throughout the body, ranging from healthy vision and skin, to proper cell development and supporting minor wound healing.*
Famed for its role in the growth and maintenance of healthy bones, vitamin D has many benefits that often go overlooked. Recent research indicates that vitamin D may help support healthy cell development, cardiovascular function, skin metabolism, and nervous system function.*
NOW Molecularly Distilled Lemon Flavored Cod Liver Oil is a potent fish oil supplement that contains naturally high concentrations of the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, as well as the fat soluble vitamins A and D. The formula uses Cod from Norway, caught during the winter and early spring months – a time when their EPA and DHA levels are at their highest. The oil in this formula is molecularly distilled, cold-pressed, and manufactured in a pharmaceutical licensed facility in Norway, under the most strict quality control standards. It is tested to be free of potentially harmful levels of contaminants, such as mercury, heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins, and other contaminants.
Do you experience muscle pain and inflammation?
April 25, 2007 03:30 PM
Everyone experiences muscle pain and inflammation due to overuse and exertion. We’ve all had those softball games, weekend camping trips or chore-intensive days when our body lets us know we’ve overdone it.
So, what can you do about it? Well, fortunately, there is a proprietary formula with clinically studied ingredients that provides a natural solution: FlexAgility MAX.
FlexAgility MAX is designed to reduce pain and inflammation due to overuse. Its clinically studied ingredients have been shown to help balance the body’s own inflammatory response. Let’s take a look at FlexAgility MAX and answer a few questions you may have about it.
Q. What is inflammation? Why does it happen?
A. Inflammation is actually an essential part of your body’s natural healing process. When some form of physical stress affects the body, the immune system responds by supplying defensive compounds to the stressed site. This is what causes the fluid build-up, pain and redness we typically associate with inflammation. And until the situation is resolved those symptoms will stick around. So, why is that good? Because without these signals – pain and inflammation – we’d probably do even more damage. In a sense, pain and inflammation are very effective stop signs.
The problem is, if our bodies are continuously bombarded by factors that trigger inflammation, these defenders (and their symptoms) are always around. This can mean unnecessary pain and inflammation following overuse and exertion.
Q. What does FlexAgility MAX have to do with inflammation?
A. FlexAgility MAX provides triple-action activity against occasional pain and inflammation, with powerful antioxidant free-radical scavengers, the enzyme bromelain, and a natural COX-2 inhibitor.
Q. So what is COX-2 and why should I inhibit it?
A. We’ve all been hearing a lot in the news about COX-2 inhibition and may have wondered about its connection to pain and inflammation. Let’s take a look:
Cyclooxygenase is an enzyme that comes in two main types, abbreviated for convenience: COX-1 and COX-2. The COX enzymes regulate compounds involved with inflammation, including prostaglandins. COX-1 is found throughout the body, and maintains the integrity of the stomach lining, circulation and kidneys.
COX-2 on the other hand, cruises along the central nervous system – it’s much more attuned to our brain’s sense of “what hurts.” Primarily activated by inflammatory stress, COX-2 generates prostaglandins – the hormone-like defensive compounds that cause the responses we associate with pain and inflammation due to overuse.
You can understand why so much research has focused on COX-2 inhibition. Decreasing its activity means short-circuiting the “inflammation cascade” that follows occasional overuse.
Because COX-1 is associated with a healthy stomach lining, it is not an enzyme you want to inhibit. Unfortunately, many products don’t know the difference between COX-1 and COX-2 – filing both with one blast.
Fortunately, there are ingredients in FlexAgility MAX that can tell them apart. One of them is IsoOxygene.
IsoOxygene is a patented hops extract shown in scientific studies to significantly inhibit COX-2, while leaving COX-1 alone. And, it is a 20 times more potent COX-2 inhibitor than other tested popular botanic products, including curcumin and grape seed.
Q. How do antioxidants support the body during times of inflammation due to overuse?
A. Overall, the body ahs a pretty darn good repair system. However, oxidative stress due to free radical damage can take its toll, especially during times of occasional physical stress. Free radicals and reactive oxygen species can damage cells, because they are hungry, unstable molecules in search of electrons. To find them, they attack other cells. These pillaged cells then become free radicals themselves, setting off a chain reaction of oxidative stress.
Free radicals are formed during the body’s normal functions, and can have benefits, such as neutralizing viruses and bacteria. However, in doing do, they erode the body’s own antioxidant defenses, too. And, free radicals typically become very active during times of inflammation due to overuse or other stressors.
The good news is that the herbal and antioxidant elements in FlexAgility MAX help support the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory defenses.
Take vitamin C, for instance. This extremely well-known antioxidant has been scientifically studied for its beneficial effects on muscle, collagen and connective tissue health. Collagen and connective tissue is what helps hold us together – literally.
And famous antioxidant, green tea, has been well-studied for the benefits of a polyphenol called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or simply EGCG. In scientific and clinical studies, EGCG from green tea works as an overall antioxidant, scavenging free radicals, and supporting healthy collagen. In fact, one study showed that green tea polyphenols supported collagen health by 50% versus only 16% in controls.
The green tea extract in FlexAgility MAX is especially focused on these beneficial polyphenols. It’s standardized to contain 70% polyphenols – half from EGCG. The green tea acts in concert with elderberry and ginger in the formula to help prevent oxidative stress to the body due to occasional overuse.
Anthocyanins are natural antioxidants found in berries and vegetables. Black elderberry extract, one of the herbal ingredients in FlexAgility MAX, was shown in scientific studies to be more bioavailable – that is, more readily used by the body – than the natural bioflavonoids of other plants. Again, antioxidants help keep the body in optimum health- especially during times of physical stress.
Ginger, used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, provides strong, natural antioxidant activity. In fact, a recent scientific study found more than 50 separate antioxidants in ginger root.
Of course, there are many components of plants that show strong antioxidant properties. A scientific study comparing flavonoid antioxidant activity and inflammation have shown that rutin was the most effective in reducing the inflammation cascade.
Boswellia serrata is a tree found growing in the dry, hilly regions of
Another antioxidant ingredient in FlexAgility MAX, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), even helps the body produce more of its own antioxidants, cysteine and glutathione. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, N-acetylcysteine inhibited occasional pain and inflammation due to overuse and attenuated fatigue by 26% compared to controls!
N-acetylcysteine has also been shown in scientific tests to act as an antioxidant, supporting healthy collagen and synovial fluid.
The last ingredient, bromelain, provides the enzymatic pathway used by FlexAgility MAX. Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme derived from pineapple. Clinical and scientific studies showed benefits from bromelain in reducing pain and inflammation from occasional overuse.
So, there you have it- the triple action of FlexAgility MAX: COX-2 inhibition (and COX-1 sparing), antioxidant benefits, and enzyme support.
Q. Is there another product you’d recommend that I use with FlexAgility MAX?
A. One other product I recommend without hesitation is GS-500, a glucosamine sulfate supplement that has been shown to help build and support cartilage. The body’s connective tissue and cartilage include a natural compound called glucosamine. Supplemental glucosamine sulfate is up to 98% absorbable, so more glucosamine reaches the target structures. It has been clinically studied on its effect in building cartilage.
About Enzymatic Therapy:
Like Chris, Enzymatic Therapy is a trailblazer. Since our founding in 1981, we’ve been leading the industry with innovative natural products. After all, in 1993, Enzymatic Therapy introduced glucosamine sulfate, shown to help build and support cartilage, to the
In the intervening years, Enzymatic Therapy has been at the frontline of innovation and invention. Many revolutionary precuts, including Saventaro, Cell Forte, Heartburn Free, Petadolex Patented Brain Support, Whole Body Cleanse, Earth’s Promise, Hot Plants for Him and Hot Plants for Her have been introduced by Enzymatic Therapy.
One of the newest products, (and the reason you’re reading this) is FlexAgility MAX. FlexAgility MAX works with the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory pathways to relieve pain and reduce inflammation due to occasional overuse. Our proprietary FlexBend of ingredients, combined with antioxidants and the proteolytic enzyme, bromelain, is unique among natural products.
Safe Solutions for Chronic Pain
March 30, 2007 12:09 PM
Safe Solutions for Chronic Pain
One of the biggest challenged in healthcare today is the problem of pain. There are simply too many people living each and every day with ongoing, unremitting chronic pain. And there are far too many healthcare providers who – for a variety of reasons – are failing to adequately address this serious problem.
Recently, 368 doctors who routinely care for patients with chronic pain agreed to take part in a unique study. The doctors were surveyed about the pain medicines hey prescribe, what kind of treatment goals they hope to achieve, and how they felt about their ability to help their patients. They were also presented with four chronic pain vignettes or mock case studies and asked to select the best treatment for each scenario from multiple choice answers.
Sadly, many doctors chose the worst treatment options in the case studies. The medications they reported using in their practices did not reflect current pain treatment standards. They tended to set low treatment goals 0 instead of aiming for a least a 75% reduction of pain for their patients, they settled for 10% to 20% reductions. And many of the doctors admitted they lacked confidence in their ability to relieve their patients’ pain and suffering.
Adding to the challenge are the almost daily news announcements about dangerous side effects in certain pain medications. Synthetic prescription COX-2 inhibitors, once hailed as the safest of drugs, have been linked to heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, and intestinal bleeding. The over-the counter (OTC) drugs aspirin and ibuprofen kill over 16,000 people each year. And acetaminophen, the most widely used pain reducer in the
As a doctor specializing in chronic pain disorders, I know that optimal pain management can be a real challenge. However, I also know:
-You do not have to live in chronic pain.
-Your chronic pain, no matter what the cause, can be reduced, and usually
-Chronic pain can be relived both effectively and safely with powerful all-natural
Q. What is chronic pain?
A. Sudden, or acute, pain occurs when pain signals immediately fire in your nervous system alerting you to an injury, like a broken ankle, or an illness, such as appendicitis. Once the injury heals or the illness is cured, the transmission of pain signals stop.
Ongoing – or chronic pain – is much different. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. There may have been an initial injury, such as sprained back muscles, or an initial illness, such as a serious infection. There might be an ongoing cause of pain, such as arthritis, cancer, or fibromyalgia. Chronic pain also occurs without any past injury or evidence of body damage.
The most common kinds of chronic pain are headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, and neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to nerves or to the nervous system itself). While chronic pain differs in its origin and where it occurs, it is generally your body’s way of saying that something urgently needs attention, and will not o away unless its underlying causes are addressed.
These causes can usually be determined if you remember the acronym “SHIN”. This stands for Sleep, Hormonal deficiencies, Infections/Inflammation/Impingement, and Nutritional deficiencies. When these are treated, pain often resolves.
Q. Why is it so hard to effectively reduce chronic pain?
A. Unfortunately, many physicians’ entire education in pain management consists of “giving nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (pronounced en-sayds), COX-2 inhibitors, or acetaminophen and considering narcotics if the patient has cancer.
Some NSAIDs, like aspirin and ibuprofen, are available over-the-counter, while others, like the synthetic COX-2 inhibitors are only available with a doctor’s prescription. These mediations are usually inadequate and often toxic when used for chronic pain. And they do not address the problem(s) that the pain is trying to alert you to.
Q. What exactly are COX-2 inhibitors?
A. COX-2 inhibitors do pretty much what their name implies – they inhibit a natural enzyme in our body called the clclooxygenase-2, or COX-2, enzyme. There are two COX enzymes – COX-1 and COX-2 and both complete several actions in our bodies. One very important action that both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes share is the speeding up of our body’s production of prostaglandins. These hormone-like substances are made by the cells of the body and have several important functions.
Some of the most powerful prostaglandins cause inflammation, pain, and fever when we are sick or injured. Prostaglandins also protect the lining of the stomach from the damaging effects of acid. Other prostaglandins make sure our platelets (important blood cells) make blood clots when needed. Still others help our kidneys get rid of unwanted salt and water. And researchers have just recently recognized the importance of still another prostaglandin that protects our heart and blood vessels.
The NSAIDs reduce pain by reducing prostaglandin production by blocking or inhibiting the COX enzymes. In theory – less prostaglandins, less pain and welling seems reasonable. But if you really stop and think about it, it’s pretty easy to understand why this method of pain relief might result in significant consequences.
Pain and inflammation are often needed for healing. And just as needed is the protection of our stomach lining, blood clotting ability, assisting kidney function, and keeping our blood vessels healthy. And scientists are beginning to understand if you interfere with one natural response, you may be disrupting the body’s ability to prevent extremes and imbalances.
That’s why using aspirin and ibuprofen can result in stomach ulcers, kidney problems, and internal bleeding. And that’s why using synthetic COX-2 inhibitors can result in high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.
Q. Why are we just now learning about the dangers of COX-2 inhibitors and other NSAIDs?
A. That’s a good question!
Many people over the age of 65 have chronic pain conditions and are frequent users of OTC and prescription NSAIDs. This age group also experiences heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease in greater numbers. So, if a 70 year old woman who’s been using Celebrex for the past two years for arthritis in her knees suddenly has a heart attack one morning, it would not be entirely unexpected.
For the past five or six years, researchers have been studying the possibility that NSAIDs may prevent certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and other health problems. The ongoing, close scrutiny of large group of people taking these medications by scientists who were conducting these studies has resulted in the discovery of these dangers.
Q. What kind of natural compounds relieve chronic pain?
A. There are many – glucosamine, Omega-3 fatty acids, the B vitamins – the list goes on and on. Instead of disrupting normal bodily responses, these natural compounds work in harmony with our body to eliminate chronic pain. Three very powerful and very effective all natural plant compound pain and inflammation relievers are Sweet Cherry, Boswellia serrata, and White Willow Bark.
For many years there have been anecdotal or personal reports that claimed eating Sweet Cherries, specifically Prunus avium, wipes out back pain, arthritis, and gout. While anecdotal reports generally don’t account for much in the world of science, he sheer numbers of testimonials proclaiming the Sweet Cherry’s amazing ability to reduce pain made researchers sit up and take notice.
When Sweet Cherries were examined in the lab, it was easy for scientists to understand how this natural fruit is able to relieve pain. It seems Sweet Cherry’s bright red color is the key. Like many deeply colored fruits, Sweet Cherries are full of flavonoids called anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins.
These powerful plant compounds scavenge and destroy altered oxygen compounds called free radicals. Many degenerative, chronic diseases have been associated with the tissue damage caused by free radicals, including arthritis, heart disease, peripheral artery disease, and cancer. Cherry fruit extract is a natural anti-inflammatory compound, making it an excellent treatment for arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain and inflammation diseases.
A pain relieving plant compound that comes from the bark of a tree, Boswellia serrata has been used by Indian healers for hundreds of years to reduce painful inflammation. When 20th century researchers looked at extracts of Boswellia Gum Resin in the laboratory they discovered the presence of powerful plant compounds, called boswellic acids.
Researchers found Boswellic Acids reduce inflammation in several ways. They open constricted blood vessels, improving blood flow to joints. They balance levels of leukotrienes – specific chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. And Boswellic Acids block two inflammatory chemicals that increase in asthma and inflammation of the colon. In addition to being helpful in treating these 2 illnesses, Boswellia has also been clinically studied and found to be quite effective in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis without any evidence of ulcers or stomach irritation.
Another bark extract, White Willow Bark is one of the oldest and most effective pain relievers. For over 2,000 years extracts from the bark of the White Willow tree have been used to ease aches and pains and reduce fevers. It is the original source of aspirin, but when used as the entire plant medicine, White Willow Bark is much safer than aspirin and quite effective.
White Willow Bark’s active ingredient is salicin and the combination of other compounds in the bark significantly enhances its pain killing power. In two large clinical trials of patients with chronic low back pain. White Willow Bark was found to be not only safer and much more effective than standard prescription therapies, it was also 40 percent more cost effective.
Salicylic acid from White Willow Bark lowers the body’s levels of prostaglandins, easing both acute and chronic pain. White Willow Bark reduces the pain and swelling of arthritis, headache, back and neck pain, muscle aches, and menstrual cramps. But, unlike aspirin, it doesn’t cause stomach bleeding or other known adverse effects.
Q. Do Sweet Cherry, Boswellic Acids, and White
A. They do indeed. Because they reduce both pain and inflammation by a broad combination of actions, these natural extracts have been proven to be excellent against arthritis, back pain, and pain from inflammatory intestinal diseases (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), and would be expected to be helpful in most kinds of pain.
Sweet Cherry, Boswellic Acids, and White Willow Bark relieve inflammation without causing stomach irritation, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attacks, or strokes. That’s because these natural pain killers don’t disrupt the balance of enzymes or interfere with the body’s ability to prevent extremes and imbalances.
However, as with any pain therapy, Sweet Cherry, Boswellic Acids, and White Willow Bark work best when they are used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to relieve the most common underlying causes of chronic pain or SHIN.
In addition, although these excellent natural remedies can often offer quick pain relief, natural remedies for severe chronic pains work best when they are given at maximum allowed doses and given 6 weeks to show their full effectiveness in combination with treating the pain’s underlying causes. The best chronic pain relief results when doctors and patients work together to meet the goals of treatment.
Some important last notes: Many causes of chronic pain are serious and life threatening. Everyone who is living with chronic pain must consult their doctor or other healthcare practitioner to determine the reason for their ongoing discomfort. In other words – make sure you know why you are having chronic pain and what’s causing the pain you want to relieve.
There are some types of chronic pain that only respond to opioids, or narcotic pain relievers. Morphine sulfate is an excellent pain medication and is used to relieve surgical pain, the pain of heart attacks, and pain from serious injuries. Morphine is also the very best drug for chronic cancer pain and non-malignant chronic pain. While many people fear opioids, these powerful pain killers can dramatically improve quality of life. If you are suffering with chronic cancer pain and you are hesitant to use morphine or another opioid, I urge you to discuss your concerns with your doctor other healthcare provider. No one with cancer should live with untreated or under-treated pain.
Even chronic pain can often be eliminated when SHIN is in combination with powerfully effective natural pain relievers. But, because some people may need to take pain relievers the rest of their lives, the medications they use must be safe as well as effective. The very safest come from natural plant compounds that have been studied for their ability to relieve chronic pain. You can become pain free and Sweet Cherries, Boswellic Acids, and White Willow Bark can help.
Omega-3 Fish Oil May Protect Against Colorectal Cancer
February 27, 2007 02:05 PM
Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. It has been proposed that anti-inflammatory prostaglandins derived from omega-3 fatty acids may inhibit the cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) enzyme and production of proinflammatory elcosanoids derived from arachidonic acid (omega-6 fatty acids), theoretically linked to cancer formation and cell proliferation. The research investigated the link between the omega-3 and -6 concentrations in the blood of 17B men with colorectal cancer (cases) and 282 age-and smoking-matched controls without cancer. In the study subset not taking aspirin, the subjects with the highest blood concentration of omega-3’s were associated with a significant 66-percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer, compared with the lowest blood concentration. “Blood levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids were associated with decreased risk of colorectal cancer among men not using aspirin,” concluded the researchers. (Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, February 2007, Volume 16, Pages 314-321)
Red Wine Extract with Resveratrol - Powerful Antioxidant Protection
December 11, 2006 12:27 PM
Polygonum cuspidatum Root Standardized Extract 1 g
Yielding: Total Resveratrols 80 mg
Resveratrol 20 mg
Red Wine Extract 600 mg
Grape Seed Extract (Proanthodyn™) 50 mg
Grape Skin Extract (20% polyphenols) 50 mg
Green Tea Leaf Extract (95% polyphenols, 35% EGCG) 50 mg
Quercetin 20 mg
Buy Red Wine and Resveratrol at Vitanet
The healing power of borage oil
June 19, 2006 01:27 PM
Borage oil, extracted from the seed of the blue, star shaped borage flower, is gaining much attention by alternative health practitioners and main stream medicine alike for its profound medicinal properties. Whereas the oil is getting all the redit, it is actually the oil’s active component, gamma linoleic acid (GLA), which has drawn the interest of researchers. The majority of the early studies done on GLA, dating back to the late 1940’s, were conducted with the oil of evening primrose. For rezones cited in the title, more bank for the buck, borage seed oil is now thought to be s superior source of GLA compared to evening primrose oil. Other plants forms and food concentrates that contain appreciable amounts of GLA include black currant seed oil and spirulina.
Why GLA Supplementation?
A body with healthy biochemistry has the ability to produce GLA from the most essential fat linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is found most abundantly in the omega 6 family of oils, including safflower, sunflower, and corn oil. While it has been estimated that a majority of Americans and Europeans consume far to many omega 6 fatty acids in proportion to the beneficial omega 3 fatty acids (by approximately 10:1). Most biochemists agree optimal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids should be approximately 1:1. Despite the obvious over consumption of omega 6 oils rich in linoleic acid, some individuals lack the ability to convert linoleic acid to the much needed GLA.
As is the example with many of our modern day nutrient deficiencies, the adulteration of our food supply by today’s processing methods has much to do with the faulty fat metabolism suffered by many. A prime example is the hydrogenation process utilized to convert liquid polyunsaturated oils into semi-solid, altered saturated fats for use as margarine and commercially processed foods. Hydrogenation is accomplished by subjecting the oils to temperatures in excess of 250 C, and bombarding them with hydrogen ions in the presence of the heavy metal nickel, which irreversibly changes the chemical structure of the fatty acid molecule from a healthful “cis” configuration to a dangerous “trans” configuration. When these products are eaten in excess they are known, in some cases, to block the enzymatic conversion of linoleic acid to GLA. In addition to the damaging effects of hydrogenation, certain essential fatty acid nutrient cofactor deficiencies may exist to further complicate the conversion. Vitamins pro-A, A, C, E, B-2, B-3, B-6, pantothenic acid, B-12 biotin and the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur and zinc are all involved in essential fatty acid (EFA) metabolism.
Particular interest should be given to those afflicted with diabetes, cystic fibrosis, asthma, alcoholism, multiple sclerosis. For a myriad of reasons, including cofactor deficiencies, these individuals lack the enzymatic ability to convert linoleic acid to GLA and must obtain a direct source of GLA for proper hormonal regulation. In addition, excessive consumption of animal fats containing acachidonic acid competes for the same metabolic pathways occupied by GLA, thus minimizing its biological action.
These potential negating effects can simply be diverted to consuming a food source or supplement containing GLA which bypasses any previously necessary enzymatic conversion and floods the metabolic pathways with beneficial GLA. Nutrient deficiency should also be addressed. Here lies the true power of GLA.
Prostaglandins, biochemical regulators
Whereas GLA is the power, the prostaglandins deliver the punch in this biological equation. Just as linoleic acid is normally converted to GLA, GLA is further converted into the prostaglandin E1 (PGE1). Many of the benefits derived from GLA supplementation are a result of the hormonal regulatory action of the prostaglandins. Just like the “parent” precursors they are made from, the hormone-like prostaglandins orchestrate a host of important biochemical activities. Their general regulatory effects include the control of arterial muscle tone, sodium excretion through the kidneys, blood platelet “Stickiness,” inflammatory response and the immune function, just to name a few. The list may be endless as scientists continue to discover the regulating effects of prostaglandins. One way in which GLA has shown to decrease the probability of allergic and inflammatory conditions is by competing with arachidomic acid, which when left unchecked may potentiate a hyperimmune response.
As a result of the powerful regulating effects derived from the conversion of GLA to healthful prostaglandins, borage oil and other GLA supplements have shown to be beneficial in the treatment and relief of many classic and modern day health problems. The disease of diabetes, cystic fibrosis, asthma, multiple sclerosis are thought to be helped by bringing about a balance in an otherwise faulty fatty acid metabolism. According to a study released in the journal diabetes care, supplementation with GLA has shown promise in the reversal of diabetic neuropathy (a condition where the nerves degenerate and symptoms of pain and numbness follow). The study concluded that all diabetics should be considered for dietary protocol of GLA. Other conditions shown to benefit include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, skin conditions, arthritis, allergies, weight loss, improved behavior of hyperactive children and increased strength of hair and nails. Cited in the book, Super Nutrition For Menopause, written by the renowned nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, is one of the most popular applications of GLA supplementation in the relief of menstrual pain. Sufferers use a maintenance does up to the seventh day prior to menstruation, then double the dose for the duration of their menstruation. Dietary restrictions of meat, dairy and eggs during this time has also shown to compliment this regiment. Many would agree with Ms. Gittleman’s credo in allowing mother nature to cure our ails before relying on synthetic drugs which often come with side effects.
More Bang for the Buck
Now comes the challenge of acquiring a GLA supplement suited to meet your needs. With the help of the information below you may maximize your desired result while at the same time stretching your dollars. Lets take a look at the facts. We will limit out narrative to the tree most popular forms of GLA supplementation: 1) borage oil, 2) evening primrose oil and 3) black current seed oil. Potency is an important factor, as the higher the GLA content per gram, the more likelihood of greater biological activity. Borage oil contains 24% GLA, or 240mg per 1000 mg capsules. Black current seed oil contains 18%, or 180mg per 1000 mg capsule and evening primrose oil contains 10% GLA, or 100mg per 1000 mg capsule. While black currant seed may appear to run a close second to borage and have a slight edge on evening primrose, it contains a potent GLA inhibitor and should be considered last on the list. equally, if not more important than potency, is purity. Make it a practice not to purchase any oil product unless full disclosure of the method of extraction is printed on the label. If it is not, you may assume that the oil has been extracted in one of the following ways. Unfortunately, the popular use of the chemical hexane to extract oils is not required for disclosure. This method employs submerging cracked seed in a gasoline like substance (Hexane) and then slowly allowing it to evaporate off yielding 90% oil recovery. This is the most common method used to extract evening primrose oil because of the incredibly small, hard seed and low oil content. The second creative ploy is the claim that the oil has simply been extracted by a new high-tech method called supercritical fluid extraction (SCFE). This process “pregrinds” the seeds then subjects them to pressures of 6000 – 10000 psi in the presence of the gas CO-2. Under such intense pressure CO-2 gas becomes a liquid in which the seeds are submerged, ultimately yielding a 95% oil recovery. Look for oils that are labeled as “expeller pressed” without the damaging effects of light, heat and oxygen. The products should be contained in opaque (light resistant) bottles to protect them from the damaging effects of light. Optimally, you should find them in the refrigerated section of your local health food store. Due to the higher percentage of oil contained in the borage seed, as compared to evening primrose and black current, borage is typically priced well below the others making it the most potent and economical choice. All things considered an expeller pressed borage oil, contained in an opaque plastic bottle, may provide you the absolute best source of unadulterated GLA supplementation.
One company that provides such a product and always fulfills the quality requirements listed is Barlean’s Organic Oils. Their organic flax oil and borage oils are available at VitaNet.
Dramatic EPO Benefits for hyper active children
June 03, 2006 01:12 PM
The noted essential fatty acid researcher David Horrobin, M.D., has made an incredibly important contribution to our understanding of the role that GLA plays in all facets of health. He notes, “The level of prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) is of crucial importance to the body. A fall in the level of PGE (in the brain) will lead to a potentially catastrophic series of untoward consequences including increased vascular reactivity, elevated cholesterol production, diabetic like changes in insulin release, enhanced risk of auto-immune disease, enhanced risk of inflammatory disorders, and susceptibility to depression.”
Dr. Horrobin notes in one such study: “About 20 children were treated with substantial benefit in about two thirds of them. Some responses were dramatic! In one case a boy whom they threatened with expulsion from school because of his impossible behavior was put on gamma-linolenic acid without the knowledge of the school authorities. After two weeks on GLA, the teacher, who was unaware of the treatment, contacted the parents and said that in thirty years of experience she had never seen such a dramatic and abrupt change for the better in a child’s behavior. Some children do equally well no matter if the oil is given by mouth or by rubbing into the skin. In others, there is the distinct impression that skin absorption, which will bypass malabsorption problems, may have a better effect.”
Promise of Evening Primrose Oil
June 03, 2006 01:11 PM
Today, we know that the oil from the seeds of evening primrose contains a high amount of the active ingredient, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an oil quite similar to other essential fatty acids (EFA) of the omega-6 variety. In fact, evening primrose oil is one of the few substances found in nature that contains significant amounts of GLA. It was only as recently as the 1970’s that researchers discovered among its potential therapeutic benefits, GLA aids the body’s formation of important prostaglandins (known as PGE1) that moderates inflammatory processes. (Prostaglandins are molecules that act as vital cell regulators.)
While the body manufactures gamma-linolenic acid from linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids, optimal production is often inhibited by dietary deficiencies, age related enzymatic deficiencies and intake of excess amounts of saturated fat. Indeed, it is interesting to note linoleic acid has little to no biological activity in and of itself. It’s true value is in its conversion to GLA. When we take additional GLA, we encourage increased formation of PGE1, which produces a variety of health benefits.
Health experts say that prostaglandin E1 series aids the body by inhibiting or reducing inflammation, blood clumping, blood clots, abnormal cholesterol production and formation of malignant cells. (In particular, GLA reduces risk of arterial spasm and abnormal clots, important factors in heart attacks and strokes. Another beneifit is lowering blood pressure.) The PGE1 series also maintains important electrolyte balances and normalizes insulin secretions.
Other health conditions that can benefit from GLA include arthritis; skin disorders such as eczema, acne, dermatitis; allergies and asthma; premenstrual syndrome; multiple sclerosis; fibrocystic breast disease; and depression.
Molecularly Distilled Omega-3 fish Oil Fact Sheet
January 12, 2006 03:28 PM
Molecularly Distilled Omega-3 fish Oil Fact SheetNeil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 10/26/04
LIKELY USERS: Everyone consuming fast foods or diets high in vegetable oils; People with family history of heart disease or diabetes; People with inflammatory conditions
KEY INGREDIENT(S): Molecularly distilled fish oil concentrate
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES:
OTHER IMPORTANT ISSUES:
Molecular distillation removes impurities such as pesticides (PCBs, PCDFs, PCDDs, Dioxin) and heavy metals (mercury, lead)
AMOUNT TO USE: One teaspoon a day provides 740 mg. of EPA and 475 mg. of DHA. Use one or more teaspoons per day.
SYNERGISTS: Other supplements used as cardiotonics include Vitamin E, CoQ10, magnesium, antioxidants, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, L-carnitine and hawthorn leaf and flower extract.
CAUTIONS: Pregnant and lactating women and people using prescription drugs should consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement. But no cautions have been noted to date for pregnant or nursing women using fish oils, which are often recommended for pregnant and nursing women.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
January 03, 2006 09:00 AM
In the mid 70’s, a team of European researchers ventured off to Greenland to study the unique lifestyle of native Inuit Eskimos. They couldn’t have possibly imagined how signifi cant their findings would be. The Inuits’ diet was simple and consisted primarily of fatty fi sh – whale, salmon, sardine, seal, and mackerel. No surprise there. What did surprise researchers was how unexplainably healthy these natives were. Strong hearts. Clear skin. Powerful joints. All this from a diet that contained towering amounts of fat. This fat-fueled lifestyle bewildered researchers. Then the connection was made. These fatty foods were loaded with substances that the body must have in order to remain healthy – omega-3 essential fatty acids. Fast forwarding 30 years, fish oil supplements aren’t just popular, they’re they’re popular nutritional threads that help weave the fabric of human wellness.
In the fall of 2004, after reviewing years of convincing studies, the FDA approved the use of a qualified claim for omega-3 EFA. It states that “supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease”. When you consider how selective the FDA is in qualifying health claims, this becomes even more impressive. The benefi ts of fi sh oils don’t stop at the cardiovascular system, however. A wealth of studies have been conducted examining their role in depression, mood, vision, skin, immune system function, pregnancy, joint health and migraines just to name a few.
EFA for a Healthy Heart
Omega-3 and Healthy Mood
Say Goodbye to Inflammation
Choosing a quality formula
Butterbur Extract Fact Sheet
December 08, 2005 04:22 PM
Butterbur Extract Fact SheetNeil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 8/1/05
LIKELY USERS: People wanting to support healthy blood flow to the brain and healthy neurological function 1-6,10 Those maintaining normal seasonal immune responses 7-10
KEY INGREDIENTS: 75 mg of Guaranteed Potency Butterbur Root (Petasites hybridus) Extract, min. 15 Sesquiterpenes as Petasines; 200 mg of Feverfew Leaf (Tanacetum parthenium) min. 0.4% Parthenolides
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES: Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a native shrub of Europe, North America, and Asia that has been used by herbalists for centuries. Modern scientific studies have demonstrated that Butterbur supports healthy blood flow to the brain and healthy neurological function.1-6, 10 In addition, Butterbur may help to maintain balanced seasonal immune responses.7-10 In a synergistic base of guaranteed potency Feverfew leaf.11-26
ADDITIONAL PRODUCT USE INFORMATION & QUALITY ISSUES: NOW Butterbur is free of harmful levels of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PAs), the undesirable compounds naturally found in Butterbur, so it is safe to use regularly.
SERVING SIZE & HOW TO TAKE IT: Take one VCap one to three times per day, or as directed by your physician.
COMPLEMENTARY PRODUCTS: Magnesium, Ulcetrol, B-2, B-12, Fish Oil (EPA, DHA), SAM-e, Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba
SPECIFIC: Do not discontinue use abruptly; taper off use if discontinuing. Discontinue use at least 14 days before surgery or oral surgery. Use with caution if you have ragweed allergies or blood disorders and let your physician know that you plan to use it before you take it. May be contraindicated for pregnant women.
GENERAL: Pregnant and lactating women and people using prescription drugs should consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement. This information is based on my own knowledge and references, and should not be used as diagnosis, prescription or as a specific product claim. Information given here may vary from what is shown on the product label because this represents my own professional experience and understanding of the science underlying the formula and ingredients. When taking any new formula, use common sense and cautiously increase to the full dose over time.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. REFERENCES:
1. Diener HC, Rahlfs VW, Danesch U (2004) The First Placebo-Controlled Trial of a Special Butterbur Root Exract for the Preventio of Migraine: Reanalysis of Efficacy Criteria. Eur Neurol 51:89-97.