Search Term: " heory "
Eating more high-fiber foods can reduce food allergies
February 07, 2019 10:42 AM
Studies have shown that eating a high fiber diet may reduce food allergies. Researchers bred a group of mice to obtain an artificial peanut allergy and fed them a high fiber diet to produce healthy gut bacteria. They gave the bacteria to mice with no allergy then exposed them to peanuts. The results were that the mice exposed had a less severe response to the allergen. One researcher's theory was that consumption of fiber promote the regulation of T-cells thus promoting that the bacteria has a healthy, anti-inflammatory system to thrive in. The study ultimately determined that there is a connection between allergies and proper gut bacteria health.
"A study has shown that eating more foods rich in fiber can help reduce food allergies and their side effects."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-01-29-eating-more-high-fiber-foods-reduces-food-allergies.html
Velvet antler may prevent acute lung injury
September 19, 2018 08:52 AM
Taiwanese researchers recently published a study indicating that velvet antler, the immature, soft antlers found on certain deer and harvested before they harden and mature, may help protect the lungs against damaging inflammation caused by acute lung injury (ALI). ALI involves the concentration of inflammatory substances and cells inside the lungs, and can deprive the lungs of oxygen. Velvet antler supplements have been used in Asian countries for many years, and the new Taiwanese study suggests that it has substantial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
"Taking velvet antler as a dietary supplement can protect your lungs from sustaining acute injuries, reported Taiwanese researchers in a NutraIngredients-USA article."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-08-23-velvet-antler-may-prevent-acute-lung-injury.html
Stop feeding cancer cells! This is the diet mistake you probablymake that can cause cancer
September 05, 2018 09:52 AM
Although we tend to associate fashion with things like neckties, the truth is scientific ideas go in and out of fashion as well. Various pet theories their have their moment in the sun and then slip quietly below the radar as another more intriguing idea grabs everyone's attention. In the 2000s it was all about genetics and DNA. The Genome project, which would take on the lofty goal of mapping human DNA, thereby aiding scientists in their search to discover the mutations that lead to cancer, or so it was assumed. In actuality the search for causative mutations petered off into almost nothing. Some tumors had no mutations. Nor was there any sort of common DNA factor.
However, it hasn't proven to be a trek back to square one precisely. A Nobel prize winner back in the thirties had a theory that though not conclusive was compelling. This scientist, Warburg, surmised that when the body's mitochondrial cells produced energy as they were supposed to, which is aerobically, the body remains healthy. When energy production became anaerobic, a process that produces lactic acid in the body, then cancer cells would proliferate. To starve these renegade cells, the body would have to re-shift back away from the lactic-acid producing energy style, back to the more positive aerobic method. Some more recent scientists have started to build on Warburg's ideas, even discovering that sugar is a specific for cancer cells, without which they starve. So a best case scenario proposed diet for those with cancer would include high fats, less than fifty percent carbs, and a small amount of protein. Because of the relationship with sugar some diabetes drugs may have secondary use as a way to fight cancer as well.
"In 1931, Dr. Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize Physiology or Medicine for his discovery that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells."
Read more: https://www.healthnutnews.com/stop-feeding-cancer-cells-this-is-the-diet-mistake-you-probably-make-that-can-cause-cancer/
Why does losing weight get harder with age?
August 18, 2018 09:53 AM
Many find it harder to drop the extra pounds later in life, and science is now backing up this theory with medical evidence that point to it being true. Each year that we grow older, our metabolism drops by approximately 1%. This means that the amount of calories we burn drops by this same amount. We also tend to store more white fat as opposed to brown fat. White fat is known to store more fat cells, while brown fat helps promote an increase in heart rate and other beneficial functions.
"Well, there are a couple things working against you. One, you’re most likely not burning as many calories as you did when you were in your 20s."
Read more: https://www.wahpetondailynews.com/health/why-does-losing-weight-get-harder-with-age/article_cc0254cc-a16b-11e8-8cf4-7710ae4a480b.html
Microbiome, Herbal Medicine, and Probiotics Combine to Extend Lifespan
June 02, 2018 05:16 PM
Scientists at McGill University were able to significantly increase the life expectancy of Drosophila fruit flies by using probiotics and the prebiotic Triphala mixture, an element of traditional Indian medicine. The experiment was based on the theory of the gut-brain axis, a two way superhighway of communication between the neurons and the digestive tract that helps the body respond to its environment and handle stress. Changes associated with the aging process, such as depletion of beneficial gut flora in the gastric microbiome, can interfere with the body’s ability to handle stress, inflammation and damage effectively. It is thought that the pro- and pre- biotics mixture helped mitigate these changes to the gastric microbiome.
"The researchers, headed by Satya Prakash, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical engineering in McGill’s Faculty of Medicine, hope that the combination of probiotics and the prebiotic Triphala formulation could help to prevent or treat human disorders ranging from diabetes and obesity, to neurodegeneration, chronic inflammation, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and perhaps even cancer."
Read more: https://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/microbiome-herbal-medicine-and-probiotics-combine-to-extend-lifespan/81255870
Is Inflammation Bad For You Or Good For You?
July 27, 2017 12:14 PM
Systemic inflammation can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, inflammation can help you during a period of injury. On the other inflammation can indicate that you are high risk for a variety of illnesses including heart disease. A test for C-reactive protein can be valuable in determining inflammation in your system, but one must be cautious as it cannot tell you what is causing said inflammation. To deal with excessive systemic inflammation, a healthy program of diet and exercise can be very helpful
"Chronic, low-level inflammation seems to play a role in a host of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer and even depression. And even though the science on inflammation and disease is far from settled, tests and treatments are being promoted that claim to reduce that risk."
Read more: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/07/21/538377221/is-inflammation-bad-for-you-or-good-for-you
Dr. Mercola: How and why too much protein triggers aging and cancer
July 06, 2017 12:14 PM
Dr. Ron Rosedale's theory several years ago that too much protein can be a bad thing is gradually becoming accepted through further research. He theorizes you should eat foods that help you burn fat and not sugar. Proteins burn sugar but diets high in fat do not and can actually be very healthy for people with diabetes and heart problems. Too much protein prevents removal of damaging cells that can lead to aging and cancer. The best diet is moderate protein, low carb and high in fat.
"In a nutshell, this hypothesis completely ignores the “calories in, calories out” dogma, and instead focuses on foods that support hormones and growth factors that make your body burn fat rather than sugar."
Read more: https://www.healthnutnews.com/how-and-why-too-much-protein-triggers-aging-and-cancer/
Scientists Say: Mitochondrion
May 27, 2017 07:14 PM
Mitochondria are crucial parts of cells, performing the integral function of glucose to ATP conversion, which provides energy for the function of the entire cell. They are found in the majority of cells, and they uniquely possess DNA, making them more complex than most other cellular structures. One theory behind mitochondrial DNA is that mitochondria originated from a living bacteria that lived with cells, and eventually joined together as a single unit. Mitochondria are an important identifying aspect of a cell, and are commonly regarded as a cell's most significant cellular structure.
Read more: Scientists Say: Mitochondrion
Zinc supply affects cardiac health
April 26, 2017 06:59 PM
The level of zinc in the body can strongly affect the heart muscle. The Chair of Animal Nutrition at TUM put this theory to the test on piglets deprived of zinc for a period of time. They were able to find that zinc deprivation can be linked to oxidative stress which in turn can be linked to many different heart issues. After a few days into the study, it was found that the body could no longer compensate for absent amounts of zinc. As the heart attempted to compensate, other organs were affected. Other studies also concluded similar research.
Read more: Zinc supply affects cardiac health
Vitamin D and folic acid can help deal with depression
January 08, 2017 12:59 PM
Vitamin D and folic acid are two natural chemicals that affect neurotransmitter function, and low levels of either can contribute to depression. Vitamin D is normally produced by the skin when hit by sunlight, so can run short during the winter. Low iron levels can also affect brain function by limiting the blood's ability to supply the brain with oxygen. Fortunately, levels of all these substances can be boosted through nutrient-rich foods.
"Vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays. In regions where sunshine is limited in winter, more people tend to suffer from depression."
Can Prunes Reverse Bone Loss?
December 20, 2016 02:59 PM
There has been some research that supports the theory that eating prunes can prevent and possibly reverse bone loss. Unfortunately, this research was done on mice, and involved eating prunes as 25% of their diet. A similar study done on women showed comparable results, but they were also taking vitamin D and calcium supplements. There was no control group in the study taking just the supplements without eating prunes. Given this information, it is too soon to conclude that the prunes were mainly responsible for the change in bone health.
"The study went on for one year, during which both groups also took calcium and vitamin D supplements."
Honeybee memories: Another piece of the Alzheimer's puzzle?
December 14, 2016 12:59 PM
A recent study at the University of Queensland has set out to research how Alzheimer’s can affect memory by studying how honeybees create and forget memories. They found that honeybees have an amazing memory. Not only can they remember where a food source was once found, but they also can orient themselves based on landmarks and remember how good the source was. The theory was that methylation of DNA is a molecular change in the brain that causes memories to be formed. By preventing some bees from being able to methylate, they were able to prevent them from forming memories.
"Scientists know that when a memory is formed, molecular changes can trigger physical changes to the brain, including new or altered neural connections and activity."
Balance your body naturally with these alkaline foods
December 04, 2016 04:59 PM
According to the alkaline diet theory, an acidic environment in the body lets toxins build up – and that can cause disease and ill health. So the idea is to avoid foods that have an acidic effect on the body like dairy, meat, refined grains, caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar. The bulk of food, the theory suggests, should be alkaline foods like flax, spinach, cabbage, olive oil and melons.
"The bulk of your diet should be made up of alkaline foods. The good news is that a lot of foods fall into this category"
Depression: does it originate in the immune system?
December 04, 2016 12:59 PM
While it is true that 1 out of 10 people are affected by depression, the cause of it is controversial. For years we have believed that low serotonin levels were the cause of mood disorders. New research now suggests that mood disorders could be caused by the body's immune system. Those antidepressants that some have been taking, may not have worked if serotonin levels weren't to blame.
"For decades, we've been told that serotonin is the key culprit for mood disorders, but now a growing number of doctors are subscribing to a radical new theory of depression - that the problem, at least for some people, is in fact the result of inflammation in the body, caused by the body's immune system reacting to an infection or stress."
Study shows low vitamin D levels linked to increased risk of bladder cancer
December 02, 2016 08:59 AM
After reviewing seven separate studies, researchers have come to the conclusion that low vitamin D levels can cause bladder cancer. The theory is that vitamin D activates the immune response within the transitional epithelial cells of the bladder. The immune cells are then able to identify and destroy cells before they can become cancer. If vitamin D levels are low, the immune response is negatively affected. This research counteracts the previous theory that bladder cancer is genetic.
"The researchers went further and tested a specific kind of cell that lines the bladder: transitional epithelial cells. The researchers found that these cells respond to vitamin D and activate an immune response."
Are we thinking about depression all wrong?
November 30, 2016 08:59 AM
Depression has become an open topic all across the world. More people than ever are open to discussing their depression and seeking help. We have all been led to believe that depression is a chemical imbalance that occurs in our brain. But what if this was misleading and their are other possible reason why a person becomes depressed. A research study has been conducted to find out how inflammation has an effect on our body and could it be responsible for more than just aches and pains.
"One in ten of us will experience depression at some point. Just what causes this highly debilitating disease, and the best way to treat it remains controversial"
Dilute honey 'may fight urine infections'
November 10, 2016 12:54 PM
A recent study at the University of Southampton is proposing the use of honey to prevent microbiological biofilms from developing within catheters. Their research has shown promising results. They were able to use this natural substance to stop E. coli and Proteus mirabilis bacteria from clustering together as in normal catheters. While the research is far from human trials, this would be an alternative welcomed by those who prefer all natural substances. However, that doesn’t mean it will be as effective as current antimicrobials.
"Honey has been used for centuries as a natural antiseptic. People have used it to treat burns and wounds and many companies now sell a range of "medical grade" honey products that comply with regulatory standards."
Korean Ginseng Root Extract
December 14, 2012 12:28 PM
Korean ginseng is a perennial herb that has been long renowned for its medicinal properties in curing various health disorders. Extracts of the root of this plant are made by dilution of one part of ginseng root with one part of water and alcohol.
The Korean ginseng root has been a staple ingredient in traditional Chinese medicines for more than 2000 years. This herb was considered a miracle drug by them, and the theory of its beneficial properties has been passed down through the ages. People still recognize the miraculous powers of this root, and use it as a natural antidote for various ailments. The ginseng root is generally, powdered only after six years of its growth and is made available in the form of extracts at stores all over the world. The Korean root is believed to comprise of various phytochemicals which are the main cause of all beneficial properties.
Benefits of Korean ginseng root extract
General health tonic
Ginseng is classified as an adaptogen, which acts as a complete health tonic. This extract can help the body rebound from fatigue, arising from various kinds of stress. It also aids in improving energy and physical endurance, thereby, contributing to the overall well-being of an individual.
Improves cardiovascular function
- This root extract can prevent organ and tissue prolapse, and improve blood circulation for improved cardiovascular function. It lowers the bad cholesterol levels and increases HDL cholesterol in the human body.
Improves functioning of the nervous system
The plant nutrients found in the herb extract can enhance the cognitive abilities and act as memory boosters. They can cure problems related to poor concentration, memory, insomnia and anxiety.
The ginseng extract holds great promises for people with type-2 diabetes as it can result in greater glucose and insulin resistance.
Ginseng extract has also been proved to act as a preventive remedy for several kinds of cancer.
The extracts of this herb act as a stimulant for boosting the immunity and effectively prevent all kinds of flu and cold.
Korean ginseng root extract has worked miracles on improving the general well-being of a person. The numerous benefits of ginseng extract might seem compelling but it is advisable to exercise caution, as with other herbal supplements. Consult your physician before consuming ginseng to explore probable side-effects with existing medication.
Apple Cider Vinegar
November 20, 2012 12:49 AM
Apple Cinder Vinegar commonly known as ACV is one type of vinegar products that is made from quality apple fruit and cider products. But some may ask, how can I make it? Well, this can be done at home by anyone suppose they have the necessary knowledge.
How is it Made?
The preparation involves complete crushing of apples and extracting the liquid inside.Then, ferment the liquid by the addition of yeast and bacteria which stimulate the ideal alcoholic fermentation. This leads to the transition of sugars to alcohol and the final step involves fermenting the alcohol into vinegar by the help of acetic acid bacteria. Before delving into the benefits carried along the usage of acetic acid, it is equally important we know the chemical composition of the solution which is the main component of the product. Primarily, the active constituents components found in ACV are malic acid, pectin and acetic acid. However, acetic acid has proven to be a topic worth discussion.
How Does Acetic Acid from Apple Cider Vinegar Help Improve Your Health?
1. Pearl White Teeth
The acetic acid, due to its acidic nature, is ideal when it comes to killing bacteria, removing stains, whitening and hence strengthening the teeth.However, so as to achieve this fulfilling yet equally rewarding merit, you have to gargle the apple cider vinegar every morning and brush the teeth thoroughly with a regular paste or alternatively, salt.Your teeth will ultimately be a specter to behold.
2. Exhaustion Removal
The build up of lactic acid in our bodies is due to the severe exercises and stress we go through. This causes fatigue making us feel frustratingly uncomfortable.However, if you apply apple cider vinegar; the case will never be the same again. This is because it contains amino acids that fight the fatigue as well as enzymes and potassium that relieve exhaustion.
3. Prevent Indigestion Problems
You can try the folk methodology of sipping a glass full of apple cider that is rich in acetic before consuming delicacies that will make you regret after a few hours. This can be done by mixing one tea spoonful of honey or sugar (to neutralize acidity) and another one of apple cider and pour in one glass of warm water. Take a few gallops after stirring and you're safe to dine.
4. Troubles with Tummy
Thanks to acetic acid's antibiotic properties as they can satisfyingly contain any problems associated with your tummy. Any bacterial infection in form of diarrhea will be squarely dealt with by only a few sips of vinegar water. This is because the presence of acetic acid in ACV helps sooth spasms entailed in the intestinal region.
5. A Stuffy Nose and Occasional Hiccups
A study carried out proved that the application of acetic acid could highly lead to reduction in the drainage of sinus which is characterized by a stuffy nose. Additionally, it showed that the same treatment could be used for occasional hiccups only if a tea spoonful of it was used. Although a number of scientific facts are not supported by the theory, the primary compound of Apple Cider Vinegar which is acetic can be an expectorant in helping address the problem of phlegm and mucus. However, it is important to note that it will not prevent the root of sinus and phlegm build up. You can now enjoy all the health conveniences with exclusive ACV.
The Benefits of Phytoestrogen for Hot Flashes
April 16, 2012 07:38 AM
How Does Phytoestrogen Help With Hot Flash?
Phytoestrogen is a natural compound found in several plants. It has many benefits. Therefore, it sometimes is made into a supplement by deriving it from those plants. The compound consists of three categories; lignans, coumestans, and isoflavones.
Phytoestrogen can be used to prevent Alzheimer and breast cancer. A published journal called “Neurotoxicology and Teratology” found that a diet program with this compound can improve visual-spatial memory. And as for the breast cancer, it is because of the isoflavones and lignans which are effective in protecting the breast against the cancer cell development in adult.
Phytoestrogen: Reproductive System
On the other side, phytoestrogen has the similar structure with estrogen, a hormone found in a female body that influences the function of reproductive system. Therefore, it can be used as a natural solution for female reproductive system such as menopause symptoms.
The most common disturbing symptom in menopause is hot flash. Hot flash is a warm feeling that spreads all over the body. It usually starts from the area around the head and neck. It is cause by drastic hormonal changes that cause the body temperature to drop. To stabilize the body temperature, the brain sends a signal to the entire body to warm it all up. And then, the warmth is sent to all over the body through the blood vessel. When your whole body has warmed up, the blood will return its temperature to its regular level.
As mentioned above, phytoestrogen can be a natural solution to mend hot flashes in menopause. This theory has been proved by a research done by Mayo Clinic where the fifteen menopausal women are given a phytoestrogen diet while the other fifteen women were not. The result shows that the first fifteen women with the diet suffer from hot flashes 57% less than the women with no diet.
Besides hot flashes, another problem may occur to menopausal women is the loss of bone mineral density. This problem can also be avoided with the benefits of phytoestrogen. The compound can also decrease the cholesterol level of menopausal women. Consume 30-60 milligrams of this compound per day can be effective to lower the cholesterol during the menopause.
For those benefits, it is recommended for menopausal women to consume foods that are rich in phytoestrogen, such as;
The bean that contains most of this compound is soy. Soy contains the most phytoestrogen than any other food. It mainly contains isoflavones. Consuming 100 g of soybeans per day is enough for a menopausal remedy. Other beans are lentil, yellow peas, navy, fava beans, etc.
The vegetable that contains most this compound is flaxseed, alfalfa sprout and red clover. Flaxseed also contains omega-3 and fiber which are beneficial for body. Other vegetables are broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, potatoes, carrots, and zucchini.
The fruit that contains most of this compound is dried prunes. Other fruits are peaches, strawberries, and raspberries.
Many kinds of grains are rich in phytoestrogen, such as brown rice, wheat, oats, and barleys.
Consuming fresh foods as your menopausal diet is very healthy and low in risk. However, if it is difficult for you to eat them in a structured schedule, you can simply get the phytoestrogen supplements from a drug store.
Is Sulfite Sensitivity And Vertigo Linked?
October 17, 2011 03:40 PM
Sulfites are chemical compounds which occur naturally in several animal and plant products. These chemicals are sulfur - based which is commonly used as food enhancer or preservative. Sulfites can effectively prolong the shelf life of food and also prevent discoloration of food. Foods which may contain sulfite include baked products, canned goods, junk foods, vegetable juices, fruit juices, apple cider, some teas and other processed food items. Sulfite - containing ingredients may include sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite or potassium metabisulfite and sodium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, or sodium sulfite.
Allergic reaction to sulfite is not that rare. In fact, the Food and Drug Authority have established "1 out of 100 people" prevalence rate that is hypersensitive to sulfite and its products. Any person may develop allergic reaction to sulfites any time of his/her life. Studies revealed that the cause of such hypersensitivity is still unknown. More studies are still ongoing. Initial results have stated that the allergic effects can be mild or life – threatening. In late 1980's, the FDA released a memorandum on prohibiting the use of sulfite on fruits and vegetables that are commonly eaten fresh and raw such as lettuce, apples, guavas and the like. Regulations are also released for manufacturers to put labels on sulfite – containing processed food items. Sulfites also occur naturally among wines and beers.
One theory revealed that sulfite allergic reaction may be caused by a significant insufficient amount of the enzyme necessary for the breakdown and elimination of such compound known as sulfite oxidase. This enzyme works hand in hand with the element molybdenum which acts as a cofactor. Nonetheless, asthma, nasal and sinus congestion, rhinitis, postnasal drip, headache and bronchospasm may also be experienced by the individual as an effect of sulfite consumption. In addition, vertigo may also be a manifestation of sulfite hypersensitivity.
Studies have found that the allergic reaction brought about by the compound sulfite can significantly lower blood pressure thus resulting to decreased cardiac output which can eventually lead to insufficient tissue perfusion. Thus, dizziness is experienced or even loss of consciousness. Vertigo or dizziness is a kind of feeling in which your surroundings seem to be moving around even though there is no actual movement. In cases of severe vertigo, the person may experience nausea and vomiting. This will greatly affect your daily functioning since the person with vertigo may have difficulty walking or even standing on his/her own. This will significantly result to loss of balance and increase the risk of fall.
There is no direct treatment of sulfite sensitivity. However, the symptoms can be alleviated in a palliative manner. The one and only way to prevent the occurrence of allergic reaction is to avoid food products with sulfites or food items which are likely to have sulfite content. Therefore, if you have sulfite allergy, you must be vigilant on what you eat. Carefully check labels of processed and preserved foods and when eating out, politely as the waiter or chef if the food you like contains sulfite or ingredients which contain such chemical compound.
Foods to avoid:
Alcoholic beverages, Baked goods (pastries), Beverages fruit based, Condiments, Relishes, Confections, Frostings, Modified Dairy Products, Drugs, Fish, shell fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, gelatin, puddings, grains, jams, jellies, nuts, plant proteins, snack foods, soups and soup mixes, sweet sauce, and instant teas. To name a few. Look online to view a more details list of foods to avoid.
This practically eliminates most of our favored junk foods we love to eat. Avoiding these foods may be hard but it is a healthier choice.
Can Saw Palmetto Out Perform Synthetic Treatments For Enlarge Prostate?
October 03, 2011 02:53 PM
Saw palmetto is a tree type of plant which is scientifically known as Serenoa repens. It is abundantly found along the coast of southeastern part of USA. This plant bears flowers which comes in yellow and produces fruits which are berry - like and reddish black in color. Saw palmetto supplements are extracted from the plant’s berries. The berries are rich in fatty acids and phytosterols. Saw Palmetto berry extracts are made by drying the berry and mixing it with a solvent like hexane and ethanol.
Since the ancient times, Saw Palmetto has been long used as an edible food and an herbal plant. The most common use of this herb is for the improvement of benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. This illness usually results to problems with urination and sexual activity. The enlarged prostate may obstruct the flow of urine making urination difficult and even painful for some. It can also affect the individual’s sexual activity because the prostate is the gland responsible for producing seminal fluid which is a component of the male ejaculate.
The mechanism of action of this herb in improving the condition of benign prostatic hyperplasia is that it inhibits the action of the enzyme called 5 – alpha – reductase which is involved in the abnormal growth of the prostate gland. Another theory on its action in relation to benign prostatic hyperplasia is that it can effectively interfere with the chemical substance called dihydrytestosterone. One of the reasons of prostate enlargement is that there is increased amount of the hormone testosterone that binds to androgen receptor sites. Saw Palmetto extracts have been found to bind with androgen receptor sites and act as a phytoestrogen. Therefore, if the receptor sites are already filled up, testosterone hormones will not be able to attach to these receptor sites and provide an effect to the body. Hence, if testosterone is minimized, enlargement of the prostate gland will also be controlled.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a serious health condition. Several prescribed medications are available to treat this illness. Indeed, saw palmetto extracts may be helpful but this supplement must not be used as a substitute for your prescribed medications. It may have similar actions with BPH drugs such as Finasteride but its potency is different. Clinical studies have also revealed that saw palmetto supplements do not directly decrease the size of the prostate gland but the lining inside the gland. It thins the inside layer of the gland thus minimizing pressure that rests on the urine tubes or urethra.
Saw palmetto is generally safe. However, since it can cause significant changes inside the body, it is important that you should talk to your doctor first before using this supplement, most especially when you already have BPH. You have to consult your doctor and discuss with him or her about your current health status, past medical history, familial health history and other medications taken whether prescribed or not. Dosage of the supplement is also best determined by your doctor. This will greatly help in the avoidance of untoward effects and unnecessary negative interactions with the other drugs you are taking.
Your Diet May Be What's Causing Your Acne
September 19, 2011 06:05 PM
Although dieticians and physicians maintain that diet does not cause acne, this is not strictly true. Even dermatologists argue the point, but while it is generally agreed that eating fatty foods or excessive quantities of chocolate will not in itself lead to acne, there are certain valid arguments that diet has a role to play. Recent research has shed new light on dietary factors that can help to promote acne symptoms, if not being the sole cause of them.
Before discussing that, it is important to understand why acne gives rise to the symptoms that it does: lesions in the form of whiteheads and blackheads, pustules and cysts. While not necessary to discuss the biochemical details, the part that your diet has to play will not be understood without considering the effect of hormones on acne.
The reason that teenagers in particular appear to be more prone to acne is that an increased production of hormones has an effect on the condition that causes the symptoms of acne. Fundamentally, acne is characterized by the infection and inflammation of a mass of oil and dead skin cells within the pores of the skin, particularly on the face, neck, chest buttocks and back. If we discuss each of these elements first, and how they are created, then the relationship between diet and acne will become clear.
At a certain time in their lives, people experience a spurt of growth and develop sexually. This is initiated by the secretion of hormones, particularly of male sex hormones collectively known as androgens, and by various hormonal 'Growth Factors'. This stage of human development is known as puberty, although there is also an increase in androgen secretion by the adrenal glands just before menstruation and during pregnancy and menopause. Androgens such as testosterone are reserved not only for the male of the species!
An effect of androgens is to increase the rate of secretion of sebum from the sebaceous glands in the skin. The reason for this is unknown, though it has been hypothesized that its purpose is to waterproof the additional hair that is grown on the body at this time. Another suggested reason is as an olfactory warning to others to deter from sexual activity, in teenagers until their sexual development is complete, and in pre-menstrual, pregnant and menopausal women for obvious reasons. There is no substantial proof for any of these hypotheses, though the latter appears to make more sense than the former.
Irrespective of this, androgens also interfere with desquamation, and the dead skin cells within the pores tend to fall off irregularly and in clumps. This mix of dead skin cells and excess sebum clogs up the pores of the sebaceous follicles. Once this plug becomes infected with bacteria, the immune system is activated, inflammation occurs, and leukocyte action leads to pus formation. That is what is known as acne.
In order to determine how diet and acne are connected, it would be necessary to determine what components of our diet can either stimulate sebum production, or stimulate androgen secretion. If no such link could be found, then it would be fair to descry any connection between acne and the food you eat. However, there is a connection, and it is a positive one.
In addition to their main function, insulin and a hormone known as IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 that helps promote growth in children) promote the secretion of testosterone, a male hormone or androgen. Knowing, as we now do, that androgens promote the secretion of sebum, then anything that increases the levels of insulin or IGF-1 within the body will also lead to sebum production and hence to acne. What that infers is that any foodstuffs that increase the insulin levels in the blood can also lead to acne.
This inference is supported in many ways. For example, it has been found that while drinking milk promotes a greater risk of acne, eating yoghurt does not. Why is this? It is known that milk can increase insulin levels because of its high sugar content. The effect of bacterial activity to produce yoghurt reduces the amount of sugars in the milk it is made from because the bacteria live on the lactose. The same argument applies to cheese, which promotes lower insulin levels than milk, if not as low as yoghurt.
This being the case, then a diet low in sugars and carbohydrates should reduce the incidence of acne generally. Recent research has indicated that a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar increases both IGF-1 and insulin levels in the blood. This then creates a surge in male hormones which in turn leads to excessive sebum secretion and intermittent shedding of skin cells and so on to the growth of bacteria and acne. It is a logical progression, supported both by theory and by observation.
So how should a person with a propensity for acne change their diet? Switch to fruits, vegetables and grains. Non-fatty meats are also acceptable, and .lots of fish and other seafood. Studies have concluded that diets rich in seafood lead to very low acne rates. The Japanese and coastal Chinese suffer very little acne in comparison with those taking a Western diet, particularly an American diet.
One of the reasons for this is that omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce both inflammation and sebum production. The same is true of green tea that contains antioxidants that reduce the blood levels of dihydotetosterone and hence of sebum secretion by the sebaceous glands. We could go on, and list supplement after supplement that contain antioxidants and other substances that can reduce the production of sebum and hence of the symptoms of acne.
Vegetable oils, on the other hand, with their high omega-6 fatty acid content, can drive up sebum production and the activity of the immune system and the inflammatory response. There are few doubts left that, while acne is not specifically caused by what you eat, diet can contribute to it and that acne and its severity can be eased by eating a diet low in carbohydrates and other sugar-promoting foods.
How Does Malic Acid Help With Fibromyalgia?
August 22, 2011 12:37 PM
Fibromyalgia(FM) is a condition affecting primarily middle-aged women and is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood as an ailment which has a diverse set of symptoms, in which none are pleasant. It basically is a medical disorder defined by chronic and widespread pain, a heightened response to pressure and often time painful as well. No one really knows what the exact causes are. There are a number of studies taking place and done by reputable medical organisations (such as the Nation Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases - NIAMS) which are geared towards the establishment, once and for all, of the route cause of Fibromyalgia. A part of the current scientific theories is the inherent genetic factor, but even in this it seems that geneticists are not clear as to which genes exactly may be the culprit. What has been concretely established and clarified though is that not just because your mom or dad has it you’ll have it. Stress in some studies has also been found as a contributor but may not be the main cause though.
Malic acid is an organic compound and also a carboxylic diacid and is an active ingredient in many sour or tart foods. It is mostly in unripe fruits and it has two stereoisomeric forms (L- and D-enantiomers), though only the L-isomer exists naturally. The salts and esters of this diacid are called malates. The malate anion is an intermediate in the citric acid cycle. However it was not until 1785 that Carl Wilhelm Scheele first isolated it from apple juice. It is formed in metabolic cycles within the cells of plants animals and humans. A somewhat large amount of Malic Acid is produced and broken down in the body each day. Malic acid also provides stamina and endurance within the muscle cells. It is particularly useful in the blocking of aluminum toxics, which has been found to possibly be one contributing factors to fibromyalgia.
Compelling evidence has surfaced that malic acid may plays a central role in energy production, especially during hypoxic conditions. In some experiments that have been done, the improvement that came about when malic acid was administered to the subject was gone after discontinuing for 48 hours. The theory behind this is in the relative association of hypoxia to FM, if it will improve hypoxic conditions then it will be beneficial for FM sufferers as well just as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has also been associated with FM. Additionally, many hypoxia related conditions, like respiratory and circulatory insufficiency, are related to deficiency in energy production as well. Therefore, malic acid may be of benefit in these conditions.
The mitochondria are the energy furnaces in cells which metabolize food for energy. Some findings suggest that this structure does not operate efficiently in those with FM. So, for the mitochondria to produce ample amounts of ATP, several nutrients are essential and Malic Acid is one of them. Imbalances in the mitochondria’s process can cause the body to switch from oxygen-based metabolism to the less efficient anaerobic metabolism and this would contribute to an abnormal buildup of lactic acid following even light exertion. This lactic acid buildup results in fatigue, weakness, pain and muscle spasms.
Fight Acne Naturally
May 06, 2009 12:13 PM
Acne treatment therapies focus upon two aspects of acne: its prevention and management, and the removal of its more lasting effects.
Looking at the latter first, acne scars can be unsightly, and there are several methods currently used either to remove them or to hide them. Some of the more radical are surgical, while others involve modifications the surface of the skin by means of techniques akin to sandpapering, and also cosmetic techniques.
However, such therapies are needed only if the condition is permitted to have a significant effect on your skin. There are therapies that can be used to mitigate the condition if not remove it altogether. Before discussing these it will be necessary to consider what causes acne, because without that knowledge there can be no effective treatment.
Acne is cause by blockage of the sebaceous pores in the skin. That blockage is generally caused by a mixture of dead skin cells and skin oil, otherwise known as sebum. Why should this occur with acne sufferers and nobody else, when all of us have the ingredients of acne as normal components of our skin? The answer lies in our hormones.
The reason that acne is most prevalent in teenagers is that the generation of sebum is promoted by our hormones: specifically the male hormones known as androgens that both males and females begin to create in quantity during puberty. These cause the sebaceous pores to enlarge, and sebum to be produced in larger than normal quantities.
The hormones also tend to disrupt the usual desquamation rate, or shedding of dead skin cells. What happens is that the skin cells within the pores begin to shed in clumps, rather than singly, and when mixed with the excess skin oil form a plug that clogs up the pores. This plug of oils and skin cells then gets contaminated with bacteria that in time initiate the immune reaction, resulting in pus being formed through the action of macrophages on the bacteria.
The therapy needed to reduce the incidence of acne, then, can be either proactive or retroactive. Proactively, they can reduce the production of the sebum/skin cell plug. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) as found in Omega-6 oil can block androgen receptors and so decrease the amount of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) produced. The less the amount of DHT, then the less will be the severity of your acne.
Evening primrose oil contains large quantities of GLA, and even applying this topically on your skin will dilute the sebum and reduce the likelihood of sebum and skin cells blocking your pores. This is an extreme simplification of what GLA does, but it does accurately represent the end result of its use. There are also medications you can take to reduce the rate of shedding of your skin cells, so that your pores have less chance of being blocked.
Retroactively, you can apply antibiotics to kill off the bacterial that act on the plug and that initiate the immune response responsible for the lesions. You can also give your skin a good wash with an effective skin cleanser, including a mild antibiotic to enhance the cleansing of the bacterial plug. However, there are alternative treatments, such as the proactive diet control, and the use of vitamins and appropriate herbs to control or even prevent the condition.
When you think of diet, don't think chocolate. Acne is not caused by eating too much chocolate, or even by fatty foods. We have already discussed the causes of acne, and if we can find any components in our diet that can create these conditions, then by eliminating them we should be able to avoid the condition. As a corollary, if we can identify any substances that could prevent androgens from creating excess sebum, or even control the androgens themselves, or that could help the skin cells to shed more evenly, then we could include these in our diet.
In fact such substances do exist. By going deep into the science, we will find that the secretion of testosterone is promoted by a hormone known as IGF-1 and also by insulin. IGF-1 stands for Insulin-like Growth Factor 1, and is important in the growth of children. It also promotes acne! Insulin does the same, and what that infers that anything in the diet that promotes the production of insulin will also promote acne.
What promotes insulin? Sugars and carbohydrates! Therefore, if you eat a diet low in sugars and carbs then you should have less production of sebum, and hence less acne. What this is leading to is that if you have a tendency to get acne; then switch your diet from carbohydrates and sugary foods to vegetables, grains and seafood. The Japanese get very little acne, which supports this theory.
You should also take foods rich in zinc, since a zinc deficiency has been found to lead to acne. Nobody knows why yet, but use the information and either take a zinc supplement or eat zinc rich foods such as shellfish. Strangely, it is a deficiency of zinc that causes an increase in testosterone, not the surplus of zinc provided by eating oysters! These have another effect.
There are also herbal treatments that can be effectively used for acne. Most are topical, and tea tree oil is one the more recent such treatments used to treat acne. Among the chemical constituents of tea tree oil is terpinen-4-ol, with powerful antimicrobial properties. Little wonder then that it is effective in preventing the bacterial infection of the sebaceous gland pores. The oil helps to dry out the skin, again creating conditions alien to bacteria.
You could use tea tree oil by itself, though many people simply mix it with the acne creams they are currently using. That makes them much more effective. Another option goes back to the zinc again, but rather than take it as a supplement, use it topically. Chamomile and lavender are useful in calming skin that has been inflamed both by over-zealous use of skin scrubs and also the immune system's inflammatory response to the infection of the pores.
There are many healthy options to the severe pharmaceutical treatments offered by your physician. These can be used in place of, but preferably as supplements to, the treatment recommended by your doctor. Each of the natural treatments has a sound scientific basis, and if you suffer from acne can be well worth trying.
Fight Inflammation naturally
March 19, 2009 02:36 PM
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that often affects many of the body’s organs. An autoimmune disease, it occurs when the immune mechanism forms antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues. The majority of experts believe that lupus is caused by a virus that has yet to be identified. According to this theory, the immune system develops antibodies in response to the virus that proceed in attacking the body’s own organs and tissues. This causes inflammation of the skin, blood vessels, joints, and other tissues to result. Other possible contributing factors to the development of lupus include heredity and estrogen and testosterone hormones.
This disease was named lupus, which means wolf, due to the butterfly-shaped rash that many people get over their cheeks and nose, which gave them what many people considered to be a wolf-like appearance. However, the rashes may appear elsewhere on the body, including the chest, ears, hands, shoulders, and upper arms. At least 90 percent of those people who contract lupus are women, with women of Asian background appearing to be at greater risk for developing lupus than other women. Although lupus may occur at any age, it usually develops between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five.
There are two different types of lupus: systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE). SLE is a systemic disease that affects many different parts of the body and severity ranging from mild to life-threatening. The first symptoms in many cases of SLE seem to resemble those of arthritis, with swelling and pain in the fingers and other joints. The disease can also appear suddenly, with acute fever and the characteristic red rash appearing across the cheeks. Additionally, there may be red, scaling lesions elsewhere on the body, with sores possibly forming in the mouth.
Other symptoms of SLE include abdominal and chest pains, blood in the urine, fatigue, hair loss, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, nausea, poor circulation in the fingers and toes, shortness of breath, ulcers, vomiting, and weight loss. Many times, the lungs and kidneys are also involved, as about 50 percent of those with SLE develop nephritis, which is inflammation of the kidneys. The brain, lungs, spleen, and heart may also be affected in serious cases. Additionally, SLE can cause excessive bleeding and an increased susceptibility to infection. Amnesia, deep depression, headaches, mania, paralysis, paranoia, psychosis, seizures, and stroke may also be present if the central nervous system is involved.
DLE is a less serious disease, which primarily affects the skin. The butterfly rash forms over the nose and cheeks, with other possible lesions elsewhere, primarily on the scalp and ears. These lesions, which are small, yellowish lumps, can recur or persist for years. When they disappear, they often leave scars or permanent bald patches on the scalp. Although DLE is not necessarily dangerous to overall health, it is a chronic and disfiguring skin disease.
Both types of lupus follow a pattern of periodic flare-ups, with alternating periods of remission. These flare-ups can be caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays, fatigue, pregnancy, childbirth, infection, some drugs, stress, unidentified viral infections, and chemicals.
In order for a diagnosis to be made, the following eight symptoms have to occur either separately or at the same time: abnormal cells in the urine; arthritis; butterfly rash on the cheeks; low white blood cell count, low platelet count, or hemolytic anemia; mouth sores; seizures of psychosis; sun sensitivity; and the presence of blood of a specific antibody that is found in 50 percent of people with lupus.
The following nutrients are considered to be extremely important in dealing with lupus: calcium, magnesium, l-cysteine, proteolytic enzymes (Serrapeptase and nattokinase), essential fatty acids, glucosamine sulfate, garlic, raw thymus glandular, vitamin C with bioflavonoids, zinc, acidophilus, kelp, a multivitamin and mineral complex, pycnogenol, vitamin A, vitamin E, alfalfa, goldenseal, burdock root, feverfew, pau d’arco, red clover, licorice root, milk thistle, and yucca.
Natural alternatives can help support the body in the fight against lupus, but one should always consult a physician before taking matters into their own hands regarding this disease. Natural supplements like the ones listed above can all be found at your local or internet health food store.
*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Vitamins and herbs are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.
December 19, 2008 12:35 PM
Inosine is a specific type of glycosylamine that consists of a base bound to a deoxyribose or ribose sugar. This type of glycosylamine is referred to as a nucleoside, others being adenosine, thymidine and cytidine.
It is available naturally in brewer’s yeast and major organ offal such as liver and kidney. It’s function in animal biochemistry is in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), often known as the molecule of energy, that is essential for the generation of energy by the mitochondria in our body cells. It’s biochemistry is described below.
Inosine is synthesized as inosine monophosphate by means of a complex series of biochemical reactions. The inosine monophosphate is a precursor for adenine, a nucleotide and purine base that reacts with ribose to form adenosine. This is another nucleoside that can be phosphorylated to produce adenosine monophosphate (AMP), the diphosphate (ADP), the triphosphate (ATP) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).
Each of these is involved in the metabolism of energy in the mitochondria. Glucose undergoes a number of enzyme-catalyzed reactions in the presence of oxygen that ultimately breaks it down to water and carbon dioxide, plus at least 36 molecules of ATP via glycolysis and then the Krebs cycle. The ATP reacts with water to release energy and form ADP. The ADP can then be phosphorylated to produce more ATP. The starting point of all of this is inosine, and it is little wonder this nucleoside is used by athletes to help boost their energy.
Not only that, however, but adenine is also the precursor of amino and nucleic acids responsible for the generation of RNA and DNA, and it is also responsible for the production of many coenzymes. These provide other opportunities for its use elsewhere in medicine, and it has also been found to possess other medical properties that will be discussed later.
It was in the 1970s that inosine was first used to boost athletic performance due to its part in the generation of the energy needed by every muscle in the body. Its use began in eastern countries, although evidence at the time did not support the theory. Nevertheless, this did not deter its advocates, and inosine continued to be used by athletes, a practice that has now spread world-wide.
It has been found to be a metabolic activator, in that it supports metabolism through the generation of energy. Inosine has been used by power lifters for heavy weight training to increase the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen, and strength athletes, particularly of the Eastern Bloc, used it from the mid 1970s onwards.
Inosine appears to increase the natural ability of the body to handle strenuous workouts, although there is no scientific proof of this. However, those that use it claim an increased ability to carry out intensive training workouts and an improvement in their competitive performance. The nucleotide can penetrate the cell walls and get to where it is needed to take part in the metabolism of energy through the production of ATP.
Now, however, inosine has an entirley different application in medicine. Studies have shown that it could support those suffering from MS (multiple sclerosis) and strokes through its pereceived neuroprotective properties. It appears to promote axonal rewiring, where undamaged neurons appear to grow new connections with damaged areas of the brain, and undamaged neurons seem to branch out to replace some of the damaged neurons.
Inosine is also an intermediate in the production of uric acid through purine and purine nucleoside degradation. Uric acid is a powerful antioxidant, particularly in respect of peroxynitrite, a nucleophile that causes the type of axonal degradation that is associated with multiple sclerosis. It thefore helps in two ways: through the production of uric acid, and in promoting axonal rewiring that can improve brain function in patients.
Another potential medical use for the substance is based upon the discovery that inosine and related compounds can act as powerful anti-inflammatories through their effect on inflammatory macrophage proteins. Certain conditions can cause the release of these macrohages, and where it is an undesirable side-effect, inosine can be administered to prevent it occuring.
Inosine appears to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines without inhibiting anti-inflammatory cytokines. It appears to do so extracellularly, although the effect can be reversed by the blockading of adenosine receptors. However, it is a convenient way of avoiding this sometimes serious condition, which is a natural function of the immune system, without affecting any other part of that system’s essential work.
It is not an essential nutrient, since it is synthesized biochemically, but a supplement of inosine is certainly worth taking if you want to increase your ability to carry out athetic exercise requiring a high energy output and increased blood oxygen availability. It also helps to reduce recovery time, and proponents of its use claim that it enables you to exercise at a higher level for longer.
Although the medical evidence for this is scant, not a lot of work has been done in trying to establish it, and those that use inosine in this way swear that it is effective. The theory certainly indicates that it should be effective in helping to produce more energy, and also that it should be able to make more oxygen available, and some athletes have been taking it for decades with excellent results.
There are no known side effects of its use, although pregnant women and nursing mothers are recommended not to use it, as with many other health supplements the pathology of which have not been closely studuied. As with any supplement, you are highly recommended to consult your own doctor or physician when taking any supplement, particular if you have a current medical condition or are taking prescriptive medicines.
If you are predisposed to gout, and some people are, the uric acid it produces can render inosine unsuitable. Uric acid reacts with calcium to produce the sodium urate that is deposited on the cartilage and tendons of the joints, particularly the big toe. It is a very painful condition, so those that have suffered gout in the past should not take inosine as a supplement.
Otherwise, its effect on your athletic performance might be academic!
December 10, 2008 10:48 AM
Hoodia Gordonii is a South African succulent plant of the family Apocynaceae. They are remarkable similar in appearance to cacti, although they are totally unrelated to them and grow predominantly in the region of Central Namibia in the south west of Africa, up to the southern regions of Angola. They are most commonly found in rocky ground and on the plains.
There are several species of hoodia, some of them grown domestically, and it is Hoodia gordonii that is used as an appetite suppressant in hoodia weight loss pills. Although the plant has historically found use in the treatment of infections and gastric problems, most interest is displayed in its use by the bushmen of the Kalahari Desert to suppress their appetite during long hunting trips when food and water are scarce.
The active ingredient was isolated in 1977, and given the name P57: the product is therefore often referred to as Hoodia P57. It was patented by its discoverers, the CSIR (South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) and a license granted to UK company Phytopram, who worked together with Pfizer to isolate the active ingredients and manufacture them synthetically. This was found to be very difficult, if not impossible, since any synthetic form of the extract failed to display any hunger-suppressant properties.
Finally, the rights to the main ingredient were released by Pfizer in 2002, thus indicating that it was of no commercial benefit to them. The main problem they admitted with synthesizing P57 was not only the difficulty in doing so, but also that there were side effects of the extract on the liver caused by other components that could not be removed. No synthetic form of hoodia is therefore available, and only the natural plant is used in current Hoodia 57 preparations.
The rights of the San Bushmen to the plant were recognized by the CSIR in 2002, and not only do they receive a proportion of the profits of marketing hoodia, but also the plant is protected with wild-harvesting licenses provided to only certain individuals and companies. Due to the rising popularity of the hoodia weight loss industry, the plant has been named as an endangered species in the wild.
It is believed that the active ingredients are steroidal saponins that can fool the body into believing it is full. This theory is based upon the effect on appetite of glucose concentrations in the blood. Your appetite is controlled by the amount of unconverted glucose in your blood, and glycogen in the liver. When you eat carbohydrates, they are digested and converted into glucose which is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Under normal conditions your blood glucose levels increase to a level where a signal from hypothalamus stops you feeling hungry. Insulin is then secreted from the pancreas to prepare your cells to use that glucose in the mitochondria to create energy by means of the Kreb's Cycle, or Citric Acid Cycle as it is also known. This reduces the concentration of glucose in the blood, and once it reaches a certain level the body begins to use its emergency energy supply, glycogen, that is stored in the liver.
A signal then informs the brain that more glucose is needed. You then feel hungry again, and this cycle is repeated several times a day in a normally healthy person. This cycle is controlled by certain hormones in the brain, specifically in the ventromedial center of the hypothalamus, where it is believed that the ATP (adenosine triphosphate) availability controls the release of the hormones involved.
ATP is the molecule of energy, and as the concentration of blood glucose and of glycogen drop, then the amount of ATP produced also drops and this is detected in the hypothalamus, which reacts by releasing ghrelin. Increased leptin increases the feeling of satiety and ghrelin increases the feeling of hunger. Serotonin acts on the brain to increase the effect of leptin in the hypothalamus, and therefore make us feel less hungry, or more satiated.
It is believed that hoodia gordonii, or the Hoodia P57 component of it, fools the brain into believing that your blood glucose or glycogen levels have reached the point at which it should trigger a satiated response, so that you stop eating even though your ATP levels might be low. The steroidal saponins that it contains is believed to be ten thousand times more effective than glucose in stimulated the secretion of serotonin.
Hoodia has also been found to contain a number of glycosides, including pregnane glycosides that some studies have indicated to help control appetite of the subjects tested. Most of these tests have been carried out on animals, although Hoodia weight loss preparations are offered in a form standardized on both steroidal saponins and pregnane glycosides.
Hoodia gordonii is becoming so popular as a weight loss product that its export is being monitored by the South African government. It has become so endangered that, since 2005, only hoodia grown on commercial farms is permitted an export license, and exporters must obtain a license from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Importers also require a permit from the US department of Agriculture, and a CITES certificate is also needed to re-export the finished product.
Because of this, more hoodia weight loss pills are being sold than there is hoodia gordonii to produce them. It is not uncommon for cacti such as the prickly pear cactus from Mexico, to be used, or for low concentrations of hoodia to be bulked up with fillers. Neither of these is of any use as an appetite suppressant, the former having no active ingredients whatsoever and the latter containing only traces.
If you are purchasing hoodia, therefore, be aware of this. Request sight of the CITES certificate and USDA permit, and also the analysis results by an authorized laboratory to confirm that the product is what it purports to be. Otherwise, there is some evidence that Hoodia gordonii can help you reduce weight, although to date there are only four recognized analytical laboratories registered to analyze the active content of hoodia weight loss products.
Finally, check for the analysis certificates. All Hoodia weight loss products should be analyzed by each of three methods: Microscopy, High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) - all there are needed. The four authorized laboratories are: the University of Mississippi, Chromadex labs in Irvine California, Alkemist Pharmaceuticals and Advanced Laboratories, Smithfield, NC.
No others will do, so if your Hoodia weight loss preparation has not been analyzed using the three methods by one of these laboratories, don't buy it, even if it can show the CITES and USDA documentation.
Hyaluronic Acid can help Restore Joint Function
December 01, 2008 10:03 AM
Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan, is one of the main components of the extracellular matrix of connective tissue and joints, and is one of the main chemicals contained in the synovial fluid that lubricates your joints. Before we discuss how it can be used to help restore the function of damaged joints, let's have a look at what causes joint pain, and why joints can break down long before their time.
You might have heard that arthritis is an inflammatory condition, or that it is due to the immune system. This is true to an extent, and rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system problem, although osteoarthritis is a different problem altogether. Arthritis is not the only cause of joint pain of course, but is by far the most common cause. As already inferred, there are two forms of arthritis, each with a different basic cause.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease, and is largely due to wear and tear, injury or can be hereditary. However it is usually initiated by damage, the joint surface becomes roughened and the bone around the damaged area gets thicker to compensate. A joint is where two bones meet, and not all joints move. You have the fixed joints in your skull, for example, and those between the ribs and the spine. However, arthritis generally affects the joints associated with movement, mainly the knees, hips, fingers, toes and elbows.
The ends of the bones are covered with a thin layer of cartilage, which can absorb shocks and both cushion the joint and allow the ends of the bones to move smoothly over each other. Round each joint is a membrane known as the synovium that is filled with the thick synovial fluid, which lubricates the cartilage. The bone ligaments hold them close to the joint, and prevent them moving too much and dislocating. Finally, the joint is completed by the tendons that attach the muscles to the bones they control.
Osteoarthritis causes a joint to deteriorate: the cartilage becomes rougher and wears, and the bone beneath the cartilage gets thicker. At the edge of the joint the bone tends to grow outwards, forming spurs and the synovium swells producing extra synovial fluid. This causes swelling and pain, and ultimately the joint can be damaged beyond repair. This process takes a number of years to reach a stage whereby pain and discomfort are felt.
Before that situation occurs, however, the joint tries to repair itself, and hyaluronic acid can take part in this process. It is mainly involved in the reparation of connective tissues such as cartilage, although there are other connective tissues which hyaluronan has been found to repair. These include skin, eyes and heart valves and hyaluronic acid can arguably be used to help repair all of them.
However, it is joint tissue with which we are concerned here, and hyaluronan is an important component of articular cartilage: the type of cartilage involved in movement (knees, hips, etc), as opposed the type that forms your nose or the external part of your ears. It is believed that injections of hyaluronic acid can help to repair damaged articular cartilage. However, osteoarthritis is only one of the two forms of arthritis. The other is rheumatoid arthritis, and this is much more sinister.
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the attack of your joints by your own immune system, although why this happens is unknown. The most likely theory is that certain infections trigger the immune system, and it then proceeds to attack the synovial joints. Cytokines are responsible for inflammation of the synovial fluid, which can also cause fever, loss of weight and appetite, and inflammation of the blood vessels.
The body tries to generate more synovial fluid which causes swelling round the whole joint, putting pressure on the damaged areas, and generating even more pain. The inflammatory response commences and the whole area becomes seriously painful.
The smaller joints are most commonly affected, such as the fingers and toes, but it can progress to the elbows, hips and the knees. The joints become red, swollen and finally too stiff to be used. The sinusitis eventually leads erosion of the joint and deformation.
Because hyaluronic acid behaves like the synovial fluid, it is believed that it can be used to treat both forms of arthritis. It is a glycosaminoglycan, an unbranched polysaccharide of the same type as chondroitin sulfate that is commonly used to treat arthritis. It can be used to increase the viscosity of the synovial fluid, and render a more effective lubricant.
However, it is in treatment of osteoarthritis that hyaluronan is most likely to find success. It is used to improve the viscosity of the synovial fluid, so providing increased lubrication to the joint and helping reduce the pain. In fact it not escaped notice that those who eat a diet rich in hyaluronic acid tend to live longer and look younger than those that do not do so.
Commercial preparations are currently in use or under evaluation for disorders such as glaucoma, fractures, and detached retinas, damage to cartilage, healing ligaments and osteoarthritis. These last three are particularly of interest to arthritis sufferers, and signs are that they are effective with many cases.
However, it has also been established that smoking cigarettes can negate the effect of hyaluronic acid, and excessive levels of Vitamin C can also degrade it. Estrogen treatment, however, can enhance its effect in repairing connective tissue. Zinc deficiencies have also been found to have negative results, so make sure that these factors are addressed if you are using hyaluronic acid to treat arthritis.
Something to keep in mind if you are taking hyaluronic acid orally is the size of the molecule. It is a very large molecule, and suffers from the same absorption problems as chondroitin sulfate. There are smaller hyaluronan molecule versions available if you can find them, that improve the absorption through the intestine, but if not then the dose will generally be greater than expected due to the low absorption levels due to the molecule being too large to be easily absorbed through the tissues into the bloodstream.
Holy Basil Extract
November 28, 2008 10:04 AM
It has been proposed that holy basil extract can help you cope with stress, and an investigation into the active components of the plant does indicate that there could be a scientific basis behind this use of it. This is in line with most traditional Ayurvedic medicines, whose benefits have been supported by modern scientific evidence.
Holy basil, otherwise known as Tulsi or Tulasi in Sanskrit and Hindi, is correctly Ocimum tenuiflorum, an aromatic member of the Lamiaceae family just as the more common form of basil is (Ocimum basilicum). Holy basil is cultivated for several reasons, the major ones being for its essential oils, for culinary use, religious use and for its medicinal properties. It is grown right across South Asia. Thai holy basil is used in Thai cookery while other forms play an important role within some of the traditions of Hinduism and is found profusively around Hindu temples.
Holy basil extract has been used for thousands of years for its healing and medicinal properties, and is mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita. It is written that it is used to balance a number of bodily processes and believed to be involved in promoting longevity. It is considered to be able to allow the body to adapt to stress and is also used to treat a large number of different medical conditions, from headaches to malaria and heart disease.
Most modern medical studies, however, have been carried out on animals rather than human subjects, so definitive evidence is lacking, and while there is evidence that tulsi extract might be an effective antioxidant and help in the control of blood sugar, there is also compelling evidence that it might be able to counteract the effects of stress. First, let's have a look at the active ingredients of holy basil extract, and how they fit in with the beneficial medical properties claimed.
One of the more important components of tulsi is eugenol, or 1-hydroxy-2-methoxy-4-allylbenzene. Eugenol is a phenylpropanoid, also found in clove oil, and is a COX-2 inhibitor that is used in medicine as a local anesthetic. Two others are the triterpenes oleanolic and ursolic acids, which possess anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. The pentacyclic ursolic acid can inhibit the development of various forms of cancers through the inhibition of the STAT3 pathway that is responsible for several types of human cancer that have poor prognosis.
Also present in holy basil extract is the polyphenol Rosmarinic acid which is a powerful antioxidant that is also present in herbs such as rosemary, oregano and thyme. Rosmarinic acid will also contribute to the anti-inflammatory properties of holy basil, and many of the antibacterial properties it is said to possess could be due to carvacrol, a terpene that damages bacterial cell membranes and inhibits the growth of a number of bacterial strains.
Another component of Tulsi is the sesquiterpene B-caryophyllene, also contained in clove oil, and also possessing anti-inflammatory properties in mice. It is unknown whether or not these properties are transferred to humans, but the evidence of the use of the plant is that they are. Beta-caryophyllene is an FDA approved food additive, and as such, a dietary cannabinoid. Apegenin, also present in tulsi, is a flavanoid and another strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
With all of these ingredients that have proven health benefits, it is little wonder that holy basil is claimed to have the health benefits that it has. But what about its effects on blood sugar that it is said to control? It's probably not a coincidence that many other herbs that contain eugenol, such as cloves, are also claimed to have the same moderating effect on blood sugar levels. Not only that, but since diabetes is an inflammatory condition, it is not surprising that holy basil extract, that is rich in ant-inflammatories, should possess this property.
The main theory is that many of the components of holy basil can help support the beta cell function of the pancreas, and so enhance the secretion of insulin. In one of the few controlled human tests, a group of 40 people with Type 2 diabetes stopped taking their normal medication seven days before the test. They were then given holy basil leaves for an initial period of 5 days. Half were then given 2.5g powder holy basil leaf and the other half a placebo for 4 weeks. The two groups then switched over for 4 weeks - the first being on the placebo, and the second taking the holy basil.
With the first group, the average fasting glucose level dropped by 25.9%, from 234.5 mg/dl to 99.7. After switching to the placebo for 4 weeks it increased to 115.6 mg/dl (15.9% increase). The fasting blood glucose of the second group dropped from an average of 132.4 to 123.2 (6.9%), and then when on the holy basil leaf, dropped further to 97.2 mg/dl (21.1%).
This demonstrates clearly that holy basil leaf reduces blood sugar significantly faster than fasting, and so is beneficial to Type 2 diabetics. Perhaps more such studies should be carried out to confirm these important results, which appear to conform to the theory that the components of the plant should have this type of effect on blood sugar levels.
How about stress? Tulsi is said to particularly useful to people suffering from stress. The human stress response is an inflammatory cascade in which the immune system reacts by attempting to repair the stressed areas. If this response gets out of hand the stress can be exacerbated, and it is important that the stress response is carried put at an appropriate level.
A COX-2 modulator can prevent the inflammatory cascade by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme that causes it. Since eugenol is a COX-2 inhibitor, it can help to keep the body healthy and prevent the stress reaction. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of many of the components of holy basil extract can help to prevent the body being stressed by antioxidants and by today's environmental pollution and it also possesses antiviral and antibacterial properties to help reduce illness.
It is also an adaptogen, which enhances your natural response to emotional stress and helps your body functional normally when stressed. Studies have indicated that holy basil extracts can reduce the levels of corticosterone, a hormone responsible for stress, and improve your mood and mental clarity. Longer term effects can include memory improvement and a reduction in the risk of age-related mental conditions.
The active factors involved in the reduction of mental stress, and an increase in mental clarity, are the essential oils that tulsi contains, and their chemical components: particularly eugenol and caryophyllene. Studies have shown these to elevate the spirit and the mood, while the terpene acids, such as ursolic acid and oleanolic acid, can help to improve your body's response to stress.
There are very few doubts of the effect of holy basil extract (or tulsi extract and leaf) in improving mood, mental clarity and reducing the effects of stress, or of its other extensive beneficial medical effects. More studies might be needed to prove them to the medical community, but even now people suffering from diabetes mellitus are benefiting from its moderating effect on blood sugar levels, and once again the application of Ayurvedic medicine is being proved as effective in the modern era as it was in the ancient world.
November 10, 2008 10:30 AM
Guggul is a natural herb supplement that may help lower cholesterol, yet few in the Western hemisphere know much about it. Guggul is otherwise known as the Mukul myrrh tree, and is a plant of the Burseracae family with small red or pink flowers.
It is found across central Asia over to North Africa, although is very common in the northern areas of India where the climate is more semi-arid than equatorial. Guggul does not like a lot of water and can thrive in ground where the soil has few nutrients. Its Latin name is Commiphora wightii, and it grows about 12 feet high.
It has been predominantly used in the Ayurvedic medicine of ancient India, and like many such ancient remedies and treatments, is now used in modern medicine to treat specific conditions: conditions such as some forms of heart condition, where it has been found to be able to lower your blood cholesterol levels, weight loss and some forms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
However, it has been used so successfully over the years, particularly in India, which it is now in danger of extinction and is contained in the Red Data List of the World Conservation Union that lists endangered species. So what is so special about this plant that makes it so popular? To get the answer to that we have to go back a bit in its history, although not quite as far as the two or three thousand years that it is known to have been used in traditional Hindu medicine.
The active ingredient is found in the sap of the tree, and is used to fight against obesity and other diseases that can be caused by excess weight or cholesterol, such as arthritis, obesity and atherosclerosis. Until recently it has had very little support for its claims from conventional medicine. It was in the 1960s that an ancient Sanskrit text was found that recommended guggul as a treatment for high cholesterol levels. Since that discovery, research has focused on the plant's anti-cholesterol properties, and a great deal of evidence has been gathered supporting the claims of that ancient text.
So much so that the Indian government has approved the use of guggul for the treatment of high cholesterol levels, largely because it has been found very effective in reducing the levels of 'bad' LDL cholesterol in the blood while increasing the levels of the beneficial HDL cholesterol. Several trials have supported this, including one study involving 228 patients that showed the extract to be equally as effective as the anti-cholesterol drug clofibrate.
That is not all, and other studies included one in which a decrease in LDL cholesterol of almost 13% was measured in a double blind study involving 61 subjects, of which around half received a placebo. An average 12.7% reduction in LDL cholesterol, 12% in triglycerides and 11.7% in total cholesterol was experienced by the group given the guggul extract. Every 1% drop in total cholesterol is associated with a 2% decrease in the risk of heart disease.
Guggul reduces the levels of harmful cholesterol in your blood by converting it into bile. The plant extract contains substances given the name guggulsterones that block the activity of a protein that regulates the metabolism of cholesterol in your body known as FXR (the Farsenoid X Receptor). This protein can increase the risk of you contracting heart disease by preventing the liver from converting cholesterol into bile acids, so that the concentration of cholesterol in your blood continues to build up.
The problem with bile acids is that once they reach a certain concentration in your body, the FXR comes into play and stops more being produced. Guggulsterones prevent the FXR from doing this, and so helps the liver to destroy more cholesterol. There is a reason for the body not allowing too much bile acid to be generated, but for those with excess cholesterol, it is more beneficial for this regulation to be prevented, and more cholesterol to be destroyed by the liver.
It is the resin of the plant that is prized, being extracted from the bark in much the same way as rubber is tapped. It is also used in fragrances and perfumes in addition to its medicinal uses, and the dosage generally recommended is 1500 mg (1.5 grams) twice daily. However, it is not recommended for those suffering liver disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease or any form of diarrhea, and should not be taken by those on beta blockers.
It is not only for its cholesterol-lowering properties that guggul is prized, however. Another property it possesses is its ability to render blood platelets less sticky, and so reduce the risk of coronary disease, and prevent the formation of blood clots and thrombosis.
Another use it has found is in the field of weight loss, where it has been found effective in reducing the weight of obese adults. It does so by the activation of lipolytic enzymes and increased levels of triiodothyronine (T3), believed to be due to the formation of T3 from T4 (thyroxine) in the liver.
T3 increases the metabolic rate, and the rate of the breakdown of glycogen and gluconeogenesis: the biosynthesis of glucose. It also causes cholesterol to be broken down and increases the rate of lipolysis - the breakdown of fats stored in fat cells in the body. Studies have shown that those taking guggul lost up to 6 times the weight of a control group within 15 days, and the practice is going along with the theory.
Not only that, but when you are on a diet, your body is likely to respond by decreasing levels of triiodothyronine, and so reducing the rate at which fat burns. Hence, your diet does not help you top reduce weight as quickly as it could. Guggul, however, stimulates the production of T3, and so you are not only taking less fat into your body, but are also burning it up at an accelerated rate.
Other uses to which the resin has been put are based upon its anti-inflammatory properties. It has been found to be an effective treatment for some forms of arthritis and also in the treatment of acne. The active inflammatory ingredient is believed to be myrrhanol A, a polypodane-type triterpene, which would also explain the antioxidant effect of guggulipid on lipid peroxidation.
Guggul is a versatile plant, and a good supplement to take for anybody suffering increased lipid or cholesterol levels, and who wants to increase the weigh-loss effect of their diet. However, make sure that you purchase a supplement standardized on its guggulipid content.
Green Coffee Bean Extract
October 22, 2008 04:59 PM
It is known that aging is largely a result of the effect of free radicals on our body cells, and that green coffee bean extract can be used to fight against these. While we intuitively understand what the term ‘aging’ means, very few people can actually describe it in words, although there are several theories of why it occurs.
The most viable of these include the Error Catastrophe Theory, related to faulty molecular transcription and errors in cellular function, the Crosslinkage Theory, in which progressively increasing cross-linking between proteins slows the body functions down, and the Neuroendocrine Theory, in which changes in homeostasis and hormone levels occur through time due to an increasing loss of sensitivity of receptors to feedback inhibition.
However, by far the most acceptable and best understood theory is the Free Radical Theory of Aging, which green coffee beans have been found to help fight, and it is on that which we shall focus here.
The Free Radical Theory of Aging
Free radicals are oxidants created by unpaired electrons. Electrons generally go around in pairs, but occasionally molecules lose one of these electrons, creating a situation where it possesses an unpaired electron. In this condition, that molecule has only one purpose in life and that is to oxidize other molecules by stealing an electron from them.
Oxidation can cause untold damage to cell membranes, and also to other molecules that are vital to life, such as DNA. The end result is aging, and the onset of many diseases and conditions connected with aging. Free radicals are believed to be behind inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and Crohn’s disease, strokes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer among many others. Each of these is associated with aging.
Free radicals are generated in the body in four different ways:
1. Energy is generated by the intercellular mitochondria by the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). By-products of the mechanism by which this is done include hydrogen peroxide, the superoxide anion, and a hydroxyl radical. Over 20 billion molecules of antioxidant are produced in each individual cell daily, and every one of these has the capability to do damage to your body. The figure for inefficient cell metabolism is significantly higher.
2. Peroxisomes are eukaryotic cell components that contain oxidative enzymes, whose function is to produce hydrogen peroxide that is then used by another enzyme, catalase, to oxidize other toxic substances. It is used by the liver, for example, to oxidize about a quarter of all the alcohol we drink to acetaldehyde, and also to remove other toxins from the body. The down side is that the hydrogen peroxide can escape and degrade the cell membranes.
3. Chronic infections give rise to a high activity of white blood cells, which utilize oxidants of various kinds to destroy viruses, bacteria and parasites. These include hydrogen peroxide, superoxide and nitric oxide which can also destroy the cells they are protecting.
4. Cytochrome P450 is an enzyme used to clear the body of toxic chemicals in our food such as pesticides and drugs. They also give rise to oxidative by-products.
In addition to these, free radicals are also produced by air pollution consisting of smoking, factory emissions and traffic fumes. Trace metals such as lead, iron and copper, are rich free radical sources, as is the ultraviolet component of sunlight, and caffeine, from tea and coffee, can also contribute to the store of free radicals in your body.
So where does green coffee extract come into this, and how should it be used. Free radicals tend to react very rapidly to accelerate aging, and in order to counter them, and hold the effects of aging at bay, it is necessary to destroy them almost as quickly as they are produced. This is carried out by antioxidants, of which there must be a plentiful supply available in each body cell.
Antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals, and so effectively neutralize them before they can attack the membranes of the cells in your body, or any of the other tissues that they can degrade. Many of the vitamins have a powerful antioxidant effect, among them vitamins A, C and E. Other antioxidants available in our diet include beta carotene and other carotenoids, flavonoids and glutathione, and also cofactors such as lipoic acid. All of these can destroy free radicals by the donation of an electron.
Green coffee beans have also been found to possess a strong antioxidant effect, due largely to the plant phenols, such as caffeic acid that forms chlorogenic acid with quinic acid, both cholorgenic and caffeic acid being string antioxidants. Green coffee bean extract is standardized to 99% chlorogenic acid. This substances not only reacts rapidly with free oxygen radicals but also helps to prevent to formation of hydroxyl radicals.
It has been established that green coffee bean reacts twice as fast as green tea or grape seed extracts, and speed of reaction is critical in the destruction of free radicals that have to be destroyed before they do damage. Other antioxidants found in extracts of green coffee beans include heterocyclic compounds such as pyrroles, furans and maltol.
The extract is made from beans of Coffea Arabica, this containing higher concentrations of chlorogenic and caffeic acids than the Arabica plant. The extract is also produced to be naturally low in caffeine, thus avoiding the negative effects of drinking coffee for its stimulating properties. When the green coffee bean is roasted, the antioxidant effect is found to decrease, and after roasting and brewing both the Arabica and the Robusta beans have reduced in activity to much the same level.
Studies on some of the conditions exacerbated by free radicals have indicated the effectiveness of green coffee beans as an antioxidant. It is believed to help reduce atherosclerosis caused by the oxidation of low density lipids (LDL). Oxidized LDLs tend to be easily absorbed by phagocytes to form plaques and foam cells in artery walls, thus narrowing and hardening the arteries, causing a deprivation of oxygen and nutrients to the heart and also increased blood pressure. Antioxidants from the green coffee bean prevent this from happening, and so help to reduce this serious effect of aging.
A good supply of antioxidants will also prevent the cell membranes from being destroyed, one effect of which is to age the skin. Antioxidants in the form of green coffee bean extract can help to maintain a youthful appearance while also aiding in the prevention of the more serious effects of free radicals that can shorten life.
There are no doubts that free radicals contribute significantly to accelerated aging, and that the antioxidants contained in green coffee beans can help hold back the physical signs of aging, while also helping to destroy those free radicals that threaten life by promoting cancer, atherosclerosis, and other similar conditions.
Grape Fruit Pectin Fiber
October 21, 2008 12:56 PM
Grapefruit pectin fiber is a source of soluble fiber that can bind to cholesterol and inhibit the formation of atherosclerosis. It is also effective in maintaining good blood sugar levels, and promoting a healthy colon. However, before discussing how grapefruit pectin fiber works in these ways, it is first necessary to explain how they occur in the first place.
First cholesterol. This is a steroid lipid, most of which is biosynthesized by your body rather than being present in your diet. Although it has a bad name health wise, cholesterol is actually essential to good health because it helps your digestive system break down fast, it strengthens cell walls and is a major ingredient in the manufacture of vitamin D by your liver. It is also essential for the formation of several hormones, including cortisone, cortisol and aldosterone by the adrenal glands, and also of estrogen and testosterone. A bloodstream without cholesterol is therefore not good for you.
Given that cholesterol is essential for good health, then why does it have such a bad press? The root cause of that is that cholesterol is not water soluble, and to be carried round the bloodstream to where it is needed it needs some transport. For that, it uses low density lipoproteins (LDLs). However, it’s not a return journey, and to get back they must use another form of lipid known as a high density lipoprotein (HDL). The protein part is water soluble, wile the lipid part can attach to the cholesterol and carry it around the bloodstream.
The problem arises with free radicals, which are oxygenated molecules that are generated by the body’s metabolism, and also created from pollutants, such as pesticides and cigarette smoke, and the UV portion of daylight. These can oxidize the low density lipoproteins so that they can be attacked by phagocytes (while blood cells) deposited as plaques in the artery walls. This hardens and thickens the arteries, reducing the heart’s blood supply which in turn can cause strokes and heart attacks.
This can be prevented in a number ways, the major of which are by consuming plenty antioxidants in your food, mostly contained in phytochemicals (plant chemicals), reducing your LDL cholesterol levels to the minimum needed by your body, and also by increasing the HDL levels in your bloodstream by as much as possible.
Grapefruit pectin fiber can bind to cholesterol, and prevent it from being deposited in the artery walls by the oxidized LDL. A sixteen week double blind study (neither the subjects nor those carrying out the test and analyzing the results knew who were given the placebo) found that grapefruit pectin successful reduced the low density cholesterol level of 27 subjects by 10.8% and overall plasma cholesterol by 7.6%. These volunteers were at a medium to high risk of atherosclerosis due to a high LDL cholesterol concentration in their blood.
Animal studies have also been carried out, whereby animals were fed a high cholesterol diet, and those fed a high fat diet were found to have an average of 45% narrowing of their arteries, and those fed the same diet, but with added grapefruit pectin fiber, were found to have only 25% narrowing, thus corresponding with the results of the human volunteers.
It is essential that you maintain a stable level of sugar in your blood since the body reacts to low blood glucose by making you feel hungry, and thereby forcing you eat. If you are trying to lose weight you will find it very difficult if your blood sugar levels fluctuate. Grapefruit pectin can reduce the rate at which carbohydrates enter your bloodstream, and therefore the rate at which sugars are absorbed.
Studies have also indicated that pectin can even out your blood sugar concentration, so that you experience fewer fluctuations or sudden spikes that can make you feel either very hungry, and so binge on carbohydrates, or very satisfied so that you eat nothing at all. The maintenance of a stable level of glucose in the blood is necessary for a normal life since it is that that determine your need to eat food. If your blood sugar is low, the desire to eat high calorie carbohydrate food is uncontrollable.
This is the theory behind the so-called ‘grapefruit diet’. You eat a grapefruit prior to a meal, and allow it to be digested. The grapefruit pectin will make you feel full and so eat less, so that you can eat normal foods, but still lose weight. Many people take the grapefruit pectin in supplement form for its ease and economy of use. It is also more convenient since you don’t have to carry grapefruit around with you everywhere you go.
A Healthy Colon
Like any other soluble fiber, grapefruit pectin fiber is a dietary fiber that can help to maintain the health of your colon. In fact it is the only one of the basic four fibers of lignin, cellulose, hemicelluloses and pectin that is soluble. Although referred to as soluble, pectin softens and expands and provides substance and added weight to faeces in order to allow it to pass easier through your colon.
Other than ensuring the easy passage of your stool through your colon, and avoiding constipation, grapefruit pectin fiber can help to prevent excessive growth of bad bacteria in the intestine, and because it accelerates the passage of substances through the colon, there is less time for toxic or cancerous substances to be in contact with your bowel lining. It is that which causes bowel cancer, and grapefruit pectin fiber can help to prevent it.
Fiber can also help to prevent diverticulosis, where the intestinal wall develops small sacs and becomes weakened. It also prevents hemorrhoids, eases the symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). In short, it offers many benefits for the health of your colon, and can help to cure many bowel conditions.
However, it is important that you don't just rush into using any form of dietary fiber, but take it gradually. You start with a small intake, and then increase it slowly; since it is not absorbed through the intestine too much can lie in your colon and ferment, causing any number of intestinal problems. When used properly it can ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, but if used to excess, or too quickly, can actually cause the same symptoms, in addition to blocking the absorption of essential minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium.
Grapefruit pectin fiber can do a great deal for health, including maintaining good blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and helping to keep your colon healthy. It is available in convenient supplement form, but make sure that you drink sufficient liquid each day in order to prevent the fiber blocking your intestine rather than allowing free passage of waste product into, through, and out of your colon.
September 22, 2008 09:48 AM
Panax is a type of perennial plant with fleshy roots, and grows in Eastern Asia. Ginsengs contain ginsenosides that are triterpene saponins, steroidal compounds that are found only in Panax ginseng. The effects of these saponins are difficult to establish, but they are believed to be behind the properties of ginseng.
Panax ginseng is found predominantly in Korea, China and Siberia, although a genus has also been found in Vietnam. Panax are adaptogenic herbs that help promote resistance to anxiety, fatigue and stress, and are said to adapt the body to resist a number of different stressors. It has been proposed that adaptogenic herbs can balance the endocrine hormones of the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal axis.
They also normalize the immune system, and increase the activity of phagocytes, the killer cells. Additionally, they not only help to maintain homeostasis, but are believed to go further and act as allostatic agents, adapting response to maintain system stability in a more dynamic fashion, by changing interactive functions as opposed to the individual adaption’s made in homeostasis.
Not all ginsengs are the same, and although Siberian ginseng is an adaptogen, it is not a true ginseng. Its roots are woody rather than fleshy, and it contains eleutherosides as opposed to ginsenosides. These also are triterpenoid saponins, but of a different adaptogen. The herb is actually Eleutherococcus senticosus as opposed to Panax ginseng and P. quinquefolius, both true ginsengs. Siberian ginseng was misnamed as a marketing ploy.
American ginseng is Panax quinquefolius, sometimes referred to by the Chinese as Huaqishen. It, too, is an adaptogen and a true ginseng, containing ginsenosides. However, it contains much less ginsenonide Rg1 than panax. This ginsenonide appears to possess estrogen-like activity and improves spatial learning. The other forms of ginesonide found in panax ginseng are:
Ginsenoside Rb1: This appears in greatest concentration in American ginseng, and appears to have an effect on the reproductive system. It not only has an effect on the testicles, but is believed to increase testosterone production through its stimulating effect on luteinizing hormone. It also helps to rdeduce the incidence of angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels from old, and also a stage in the development of malignant tumors from dormant ones.
Ginsenoside Rc: this possesses sedative properties, and in a study on breast cancer was found to have an effect in inhibiting the growth of these particular cancer cells. Ginsenoside Rc might therefore have use in the treatment or prevention of breast cancer. Studies have also suggested that this ginsenoside could increase the motility of sperm: the motiliy of sperm was found to increase significantly in a solution of ginsenoside Rc.
Ginsenoside Rf: this is present only in panax ginseng, and studies have indicate that it has an inhibitory effect on the Ca2+ neural channels in the brain, and so cokld have an analgesic effect. Studies have as yet failed to explain this effect that is seen in animal tests, but are continuing on this ginsenoside.
Ginsenoside Re: this ginsenoside has strong antioxidant effects and has a significant antidiabetic effect in that is reduces insulin resistance, which is likely why ginseng is taken to treat Type 2 diabetes. Studies are ongoing into the properties of this ginsenoside, and also on the other 10 or more that are known to be present in Panax ginseng. The effects of ginseng are difficult to establish with certainity because they work through so many different pathways and it is difficult to isolate one. More than one ginsenoside, for example, affects the calcium channels in the brain, and it is difficult to determine which does what.
There are fewer ginsenosides in Panax quinquefoilius, and in the USA it is only the panax version that can be traded as simply ‘ginseng’. One of the main problems with all ginsengs is that although it is one of the most studied plants, the majority of the studies have been on animals, and due to this, and the difficulties caused by the multiple pathways described earlier, many of the postulations have not been proved in humans.
However, if the theory as it is know today is taken into consideration along with the traditional uses of ginseng in traditional Indian (ayurvedic), Chinese and Native American medicine, it would be fairly accurate to say that ginseng is useful in helping your body to recover after illness or surgery, and to help you to deal with stress. It has also been proved to lower your blood glucose (sugar) levels, and help in the treatment of Type II diabetes, as already mentioned. There is evidence that it helps to boost your mental performance, memory and might help to slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginseng can also give a boost to your energy levels, and it is genarally accepted that panax ginseng is more effective than the American version. In traditional medicine, Asian ginseng is said to be warming, and the American variery cooling. Thus Panax ginseng is useful for people recovering from illness and trying to recover their strength, acts as a tonic, stimulant and supports the immune system. In other words it helps the body to get whole again after being depleted.
It should not be used if you get very hot and red, such as with heat stroke, unless you use it in combination with the American version, because these are conditions of high yang and this type of ginseng will increase the yang even further.
American ginseng, on the other hand, is good for those with fevers, hypertension (high blood pressure), and suffereing the effcts of heat. It helps build the yin and reduce the yang, so if you always feel flushed and hot or are hyperactive then go for the American, and if you easily get chilled or find your hands and feet get cold very easily, reach for the Asian ginseng to increase your yang.
You often find ginseng as an ingredient in soft drinks, but the concentration is so low that it has no metabolic or pharmacological effect. The dose to be taken should be as stated on the pack, since there is no specific standardization. It has been noted that the effects can be lost if an excess of ginseng is taken, but generally the herb is safe and if you feel a bit down or lacking in energy, ginseng can work wonders for you.
August 26, 2008 04:58 PM
GABA is gama amino butyric acid, and is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is essential for the proper function of your brain and the central nervous system, and has the effect of reducing excessive brain activity and promoting a state of calm.
For many people, the rush of daily life, with its problems, worries and external stimuli, can over-stimulate the brain to the extent that it can all seem too much for them. They feel anxious and overwhelmed, and wish that they could just go into a quiet corner to get away from it all. Most people have felt like that at some time, but the demands of life do not allow them that luxury. They just have to bear it and get on with life.
That is where GABA can come in. It can be used to bring your nervous system back to base, and make you feel more relaxed, calmer and more able to meet these challenges that life often throws at you. When you feel that you just can’t relax or concentrate on what you are doing, GABA can help you. If you look around you and everybody else seems OK, without apparently feeling the stress and irritability that you feel, and then perhaps your problem is due to a GABA deficiency. GABA is the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain, and a deficiency would certainly give you the symptoms that you are feeling. Let me explain why.
As your brain becomes excited, it can run out of control and needs some form of modification or inhibition to keep it acting as normal. Without this you would become increasingly more restless and irritable, and ultimately have seizures. GABA is not only the main inhibitor in your brain, but also helps in the production of endorphins that provide you with a sense of well being. That sense of calm you feel when endorphins are produced, for example during exercise or sexual intercourse, is commonly referred to as the ‘endorphin effect’.
GABA is at its highest concentration in specific areas of the brain, including the hypothalamus, the hippocampus and the central brain area, and is present in up to 40% of all synapses, the small gaps between neurons across which brain cells can communicate with each other.
It is produced during the Krebs or Citric Acid Cycle that is responsible for cell respiration or the production of energy from carbohydrates. It is synthesized from alpha-keto glutarate, which is produced just before the Succinyl Co-A stage of the Krebs Cycle in the brain. Vitamin B6 in involved in its metabolism, and a Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to a deficiency in GABA that might result in seizures.
Basically GABA works by inhibiting the firing of neurons in your brain, and thus reducing general brain activity. The GABA receptor allows more chloride ion to enter the brain cell, thus helping to maintain the electrical charge within the cells. Bezodiazepines (e.g. diazepam) work by increasing the effectiveness of GABA in opening the chloride ion cells to allow more chloride ion to enter the neurons, and caffeine does the opposite, and inhibits this property of GABA. Thus diazepam works as a minor tranquilizer and caffeine as a stimulant.
Alcohol has a similar effect to the benzodiazepines, increasing the release of chloride into the neurons, and is the major way in which alcohol affects the brain. In fact, tolerance to drugs and withdrawal symptoms can be explained by the receptors adapting to the drug. They may increase in number, which means that more of the drug is needed to work on them, and they can become hypoactive in the event of the drug being withdrawn, that enhances the symptoms that the drug was intended to treat.
So basically, that is the way that GABA works. In simple terms it increases the flow of chloride electrolyte to the brain, and in so doing affects our mood. This effect is enhanced by prescription drugs such as Valium and Ativan, which are used by those that suffer the effects of a GABA deficiency. However, these drugs have side effects, not the least of which is dependency due to the GABA receptors becoming modified to suit the drug. There is a more natural way to overcome many stress problems and symptoms of mood swings.
Knowing what causes these symptoms, it makes sense to eat foods that stimulate the creation of neurotransmitters to replace those that are deficient. Since GABA is produced in the Krebs Cycle and complex carbohydrates produce glutamine that is an important part of that Cycle, and is also the precursor to GABA, then the consumption of such foods should in theory produce more GABA. In this case the theory works, and you should eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, brown rice and oats as part of your diet.
Other foods that are high in glutamine or its precursors, glutamic acid and glutamate, include citrus fruits, beef liver, broccoli, halibut and lentils. A useful supplement to take is L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, and available in supplement form. L-theanine can calm your nerves while maintaining clarity of thought. In other words it calms you down, but doesn’t make you drowsy and allows you to enjoy your day with anxiety.
Your doctor can determine whether or not you have a neurotransmitter deficiency through a simple urine test, and might also test your saliva for hormone content. A GABA supplement might be indicated, and if so it other beneficial effects on your body other than its effect on your brain cells.
It improves your sleep cycles and promotes vivid dreaming, and can also have a positive effect on your blood pressure. It is also an effective pain killer, and can provide relief from such conditions as back pain and arthritis. Its stimulating effect on the anterior pituitary gland to secrete Human Growth Hormone might also be regarded as a benefit by many. Increasing the level of HGH in your blood can lead to fat loss and improved anabolic activity (increase in muscle tissue). This can be of benefit to older people whose level of HGH secretion has dropped off, and who find it more difficult to lose fat.
GABA is a substance that has many known benefits and no known side effects other than a slight tingling and increase in heart rate when the supplement is first used. It has a definite benefit for people to whom the world seems too hectic and overwhelming.
August 18, 2008 12:01 PM
Whether coconut oil is good for weight loss or not, it is becoming an increasingly popular component of a weight loss diet. So how justified is this in view the fact that fats and oils are not normally regarded as being the best form of food to take if you want to lose weight?
Apart from any other considerations, fats are actually very important components of any diet. Consider, for example, how many vitamins are fat soluble: vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat soluble, and without fats in your diet vitamins would not be able to circulate and be taken to where they do most good. Fats are also essential building blocks for hormones and cell membranes. In short, you cannot survive without fats. Coconut oil is a fat.
In referring to coconut oil here, we are discussing virgin oil, not the refined form that is high in cholesterol. Refined, or processed coconut oils, is hydrogenated, which renders it more in nature to the longer chain fatty acids. Virgin coconut oil contains what are known as medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), which are easily metabolized by your liver into energy.
The longer chain fatty acids, also called triglycerides, are not easily broken down into smaller components, and tend to be stored in the body as fat. This fat can be particularly dangerous if stored round the midriff, and so long chain fatty acids are dangerous to your health. This does not apply to MCFAs, and a possible mechanism for this is discussed later.
An inability to distinguish between the different types of fats and oils in your diet is largely due to a lack of education in the chemistry of fats, and the lumping together of all fats and oils under the 'fatty' flag. Perhaps it is the use of the word 'fat' for the overweight condition and the fact that the triglycerides and other chemicals are known generically as 'fats' that triggers a connection between the two, but although this is logical, and in some cases justified, it is not always the case. There are fats and fats, just as there are lubricating oils and greases, and edible cooking oils and greases.
The fatty acids in coconut oil are composed of relative small carbon chain lengths. Caprylic acid and capric acid contain 8 and 10 carbon atoms in the backbone compared to the 18 of the stearic acid that is commonly contained in animal fats. The longer the carbon chain in the molecule, the more difficult it is to break down, and the more likely it is to be stored in the body as a dense fatty deposit that places a strain on the heart.
Due to the shorter chain length the medium chain fatty acids hold less energy per unit weight. Apart from any other reasons then, coconut oil contains fewer calories than other fats and so if used as the bulk of your fat requirement, will be less liable to generate body fat. Not only that, but as inferred earlier, due to the smaller molecule these calories are more readily released as energy for use by your body rather than stored unused.
However, that is not the whole story on either count: coconut contains saturated fats, and also monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, although in small quantities. These, however, are present in only small amounts, although would still be expected to undergo oxidation and produce the rancid taste commonly found in aged unsaturated oils and fats. However, even after a year this does not happen, which indicates that coconut oil possesses some form of antioxidant properties. This is confirmed by the fact that people eating a diet rich in coconut oil has less of a need for the strong oil-soluble antioxidant vitamin E.
In fact, the metabolism of fats is usually connected with the carnitine transport system in the mitochondria, although the shorter chain fatty acids do not need carnitine for their metabolism. What happens then is that because carnitine promotes oxidation during stress, and causes oxidative damage to body cells, its absence in metabolism of coconut oil fatty acids results in a reduction in the oxidation that degrades unsaturated fats. Hence the lack of rancidity.
Taking this further, then, this lack of oxidation infers that those that take a diet rich in coconut oil (for example using it for cooking rather than animal and vegetable oils containing longer chain fatty acids) should be partially protected against cell oxidation in general. Oxidative effects such as aging, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers should be reduced, and studies have shown this to be the case. Those consuming coconut oil rather than other oils tend to age more slowly, suffer less from heart disease and tend to experience fewer incidences of cancer.
With regard specifically to weight loss, it is believed that consumption of medium chain triglycerides, as opposed to longer chain triglycerides, results in a higher rate of thermogenesis, or the conversion of carbohydrates to energy (fats are also carbohydrates). The first step in this process requires the presence of Coenzyme A in the form of the enzyme acyl-CoA-dehydrogenase, and measurement of the activity of this enzyme has indicated that medium chain triglycerides exhibit much higher expenditure of energy than the metabolism of long chain triglycerides when being converted to fatty tissue. However, though the energy used up in this reaction, known as lipogenesis, was higher, the formation of fatty tissue was the same.
Hence, MCA uses more energy to produce the same amount of fat as LCA, and therefore, although more energy is used up, no new fat is generated by the liver. Since your dietary fat intake can ultimately have only three fates: burned as energy, stored as the emergency energy source glycogen, or deposited as fat, then it is logical that the more energy generated then the less fat will be stored.
In this way, coconut oil, with a high content of medium chain fatty acids, has a scientific explanation for causing weight reduction when used as a source of fat in the diet rather than animal or other vegetable fats or oils. It is converted to energy rather than fatty tissue, and if you exercise to use up that energy then your weight loss can be significant.
What this theory also states, however, is that coconut oil should be used as a replacement for other fats, and not in addition to it. If you take coconut oil in addition to your normal diet, do not expect to see results.
Fiber For Better Health
July 11, 2008 12:27 PM
We have been told that we must eat a certain amount of fiber with our meals because it is ‘good for us’. Most of us have been led to believe that this is because fiber promotes bowel motions and prevents us from suffering from constipation. It is also good for our digestive system. But how true is this, and just what are the real benefits of fiber in our diet?
First of what, what is fiber? Sure, we know there must be fiber in food such as cabbage, beans and celery because we can see it. But is all fiber actually fibrous? Of course not, so let’s first have a close look at what dietary fiber actually is.
Fiber is composed of these parts of a plant that are broken down by the action of enzymes in our digestive juices in the upper parts of our intestinal tract. Some fiber can be digested by the bacteria in our lower intestine, and some is not. So where does fiber come from? By that definition, fiber can be any part of your food, not only the stringy bits, and by definition are of vegetable origin.
Water insoluble fibers increase fecal bulk. That’s the stringy stuff in celery and string beans. It is also contained in cellulose materials, lignin, wheat bran, whole grains and most vegetables. These have the effect of increasing the efficiency of the peristaltic movement of the intestine on the passage of chyme (the creamy fluid that exits the stomach into the duodenum) through your system.
The liquid and nutrients are progressively removed, and the fiber maintains the bulk needed for peristalsis to work properly. Peristalsis is the rhythmic movement of the intestine that forces your food right from your stomach to your rectum. It is also the basis of some forms of industrial pump that operate on the same principle. Without fiber this pump would be inefficient.
Soluble fiber includes the gum and pectin that are obtained from plant cells. They swell up the chyme, and slow down its rate of travel through the gastrointestinal system, although they have no effect on fecal bulk. Specific examples are oat bran, fruit and most vegetables (all plants contain both). A peach, for example, consists of a skin which is insoluble fiber, and the juicy pulp beneath it which is predominantly soluble fiber.
Although a distinction is made between dietary and crude fiber, they both have their part to play. The term ‘fiber’ is a wide one and it cannot be said that fiber as a whole imparts a specific health benefit. The benefits of fiber are a combination of those imparted by the full range of types of fiber and their sources that are contained in the human diet, both crude and dietary, soluble and insoluble.
So what specifically are these benefits, other than just the generalization that they are ‘good for your intestinal health’? As you likely know, it is the fiber in your diet that binds your feces together into a solid, rather than leaving it as a mobile liquid. Although around 75% of feces are liquid, the bulk of the rest is fiber, bacteria and undigested food.
Since insoluble fiber makes feces bulkier and softer it can help treat constipation, where the stool has an excess of solid content. Any substance that absorbs water and swells can help with this condition. The same is true of hemorrhoids and a condition of the wall of the intestine known as diverticulosis. Once the inflammation has subsided, a high soluble fiber diet can help prevent a recurrence.
If you want to lose weight, a fiber diet can make you feel full without the calories, since fiber is calorie-free. There is also the fact that high fiber foods have to be chewed longer before they can be swallowed, and so you are liable to eat less in the same time. However, if you are determined, all that means is that you will have to lunch longer to get the same weight gain!
There is little doubt that a fiber-rich diet contributes significantly to intestinal health, and that if the correct amount of fiber is not taken then problems such as constipation, diarrhea, diverticulosis and a lack of absorption of nutrients will occur. The peristaltic pumping motion of the whole gastrointestinal tract, from the top of the throat to the anus, is dependent on solids rather than liquids. While a semi-liquid fecal consistency will pass through your body, it will take the bulk of the nutrition extracted from your food with it. It is fiber that is needed to bulk it up and to enable the liquid to be extracted through the intestinal wall and the fibrous solid to pass on through the colon to the anus.
There are other benefits of a diet high in fiber, though they generally depend on the type of fiber. Take cholesterol, for example. High LDL blood cholesterol levels are associated with atherosclerosis, and the consequent risk of heart disease and strokes, due to the oxidation of the LDL by free radicals. When the HDL lipids carry cholesterol back to the liver, it is destroyed by the action of bile acids. Since water soluble fiber binds bile acids, it figures that some types of fiber can promote the excretion of cholesterol from the body. The fiber most effective in achieving this comes from rolled oats and also pectin.
It has also been claimed that dietary fiber might be effective in preventing cancer of the colon. The theory is that bowel cancer is caused by toxins in the feces and if the fecal matter is expelled from the body quickly, the toxins will have less time to act. Fiber promotes the expulsion of the contents of the colon. This has not been confirmed, however.
What has been confirmed is that your bowel can collect mucoid plaque that sticks to mainly your colon, and is an ideal environment for parasites and yeast infections. The National Fiber Council has stated that most people do not eat enough fiber, and the average requirement is 38g a day for men and 25g a day for women.
So eat your fiber, because fiber can boost your intestinal health and wellness.
May 12, 2008 11:10 AM
All female mammals, including humans, produce colostrum soon after giving birth, and before proper milk is produced. It is a milk-like substance that provides newly born infants with a boost to their immune system and gives immediate protection against the germs with which they are about to come into contact.
It also, incidentally, promotes the child’s first bowel movement to rid it of the large amount of dead blood cells created when it’s blood supply was drastically reduced after the severing of the umbilical supply.
It is now believed that colostrum will help not only newly born infants, but also grown adults. If your immune system is weak or you are suffering from a condition that could be helped by a boost to your immune system, colostrum might be what you need to help you fight off what is ailing you. This has become clear after the way that colostrum works has been established.
Transfer factors were discovered in 1949 by Dr. H. Sherwood Lawrence of the New York University School of Medicine. He found that when he injected an extract of the leukocytes of somebody that had previously been infected with tuberculosis, the natural immunity was transferred from the donor to the recipient. He called this extract the ‘transfer factor’, and a means of transferring immune response factors between people was born.
However, the sharing of transfer factors between people suffering from serious conditions such as the HIV virus or hepatitis is a high risk action, and fifty years later, in 1999, bovine colostrum was discussed at a transfer factor conference in Mexico. Bovine colostrum contains large quantities of transfer factors such as IgG type immunoglobulins and hydrogen peroxide. The latter is commonly produced by our body cells to fight off invading pathogens, and immunoglobulins are very effective in fighting some diseases that can be fatal to AIDs patients. Take Cryptosporidium parvum, for instance. This microorganism causes a form of diarrhea that AIDs patients have no defense against but that colostrum can be particularly effective against, and it is also effective against rotavirus that is the main cause of diarrhea in young children.
Before discussing this further, let’s go back a step and examine how bovine milk came to be included in the equation. At one time it was believed that a baby received its immunity from the mother while in the womb and that this was extended via the mother’s milk. However, it was discovered that the milk contained no antibodies as such, only the colostrum, and these antibodies had somehow been transferred to the baby.
This was explained by the concept of the transfer factor. It is not the antibodies that are being transferred from mother to child, but the transfer factor. This modulates the immune system of the recipient and teaches it how to create antibodies against the specific antigens that the donor’s antibodies protect against and to inform the recipient’s immune system when these antigens are present.
The next step was to test the theory that the transfer factor should be able to be passed between species, and the cow was the obvious initial choice since not only are cattle exposed to many of the same antigens as humans, but we already use cow’s milk as a food source – particularly for babies and children. It worked! It was found that when humans were fed cow’s colostrum the specific antibodies were later found in the blood of the person given the treatment.
The next step was to determine the form in which this substance could be used, and injections of various types were tried without success. It was established that the only means of administering colostrum was by drinking it, or supplying it in capsule form. It can be drunk fresh or freeze dried to kill of living organisms and then fats and sugars removed and the resultant dried product encapsulated. It is even possible to remove all large molecules, antibodies, proteins, etc, and still retain the transfer factor. It is absorbed by the gut, and the resultant message passed to the recipient.
It is important to understand that it is not the immunoglobulins from the cow that are passed on, because these are species specific, and are in fact the source of most cow’s milk allergies. There is no transfer of antibodies or any other specific parts of the immune system. What are passed on are the messengers, particularly the transfer factors that are not species specific. A cow’s transfer factors would work just as well in a cat as in humans, only cats don’t get the same diseases as cows and people.
The types of disease that colostrum can help to protect us from include viral and bacterial diseases, fungal diseases and parasites, and neurological and autoimmune diseases. If you have cancer, colostrum can help significantly since cancer and immune deficiency are related. Cancer cells are being formed all the time in your body, but your immune system generally disposes of them. However, if it fails to do this, then the cells can proliferate and lead to cancer as we know it. Colostrum can help your body to prevent cancer occurring, and if you have it, can help to reduce its spread.
Freelance journalist Sam Wainaina studied the effects of Ebola virus in Uganda after the 2002 outbreak, and concluded that had transfer factors been available during the outbreak to transfer immunity it might perhaps have been contained sooner than it was, and saved many, many lives. Although transfer factors have been known of for 60 years, there is still a lot to be done in their application and studies on colostrum could help to accelerate this. Transfer factors alert immune cells to danger, train the system to generate the right type of immunoglobulins and boost NK cell activity to defeat the invaders. They can also moderate an over-active immune system that can be as much a danger to the body as an invading pathogen.
Colostrum can also be used to burn fat and create muscle tissue, and is popular with bodybuilders but it is for its healing and immunity-boosting properties that it is most used. Biotechnology companies are now boosting the colostrum’s transfer factors by injecting cows with vaccines that create pathogens. Known as Ultra Colostrum this is an advance on the natural material.
Butcher's Broom Extract
May 02, 2008 11:04 AM
Butcher’s broom (Ruscus aculeatus) is a member of the lily family, and looks a bit like a holly bush with barbed evergreen leaves and bright red berries in the fall. At one time they were collected, tied together and sold to butchers as brooms to sweep out their shops.
The stiff leaves were particularly suitable for cleaning out offal and other waste products from butchered animals and also for scrubbing butcher’s blocks. It was also used as a deterrent to rodents with their eyes on the meat! Alternative names are sweet broom, kneeholy and Jew’s myrtle, so named because it was used during the Feast of the Tabernacles as one of the ‘four species’ used in the lulav.
The herb was commonly used in Ancient Greece and Rome, the Greeks using it to reduce swellings of various kinds and the Romans using it to treat varicose veins. It has the same uses today, only the mechanisms are understood better. It has been used for centuries in the Mediterranean area for the treatment of inflammations and problems with the circulation, and the Romans used to mash up the leaves and berries to add to wine, and they also used the roots and rhizome as a medicine by soaking them in wine. Today, it is illegal to use holly as a decoration in Italy, so butcher’s broom is used instead.
All parts of the plant are used, including the rhizome, and although it is used as a diuretic, and to control a loss of blood pressure experience by some people on standing up, it is its effect on blood vessels where its main medical benefits lie. Butcher’s Broom can strengthen certain portions of blood vessels, and change the flexibility properties of the cell walls.
The result of this is that the vessels are tightened up, which helps to maintain the flow of blood throughout the body, but also renders the cell walls less likely to leak or crack under stress. The result is a reduction in blood leakage from stretched and weakened blood vessels such as those that result in hemorrhoids, and also of conditions caused by weakened valves in the veins such as varicose veins and spider veins.
The blood pressure in the veins is very weak since they are so far away from the heart, the blood having passed through the arteries, through the capillaries and into the veins on its way back to the heart before being pumped to the lungs. When the valves become weakened, particularly in the large veins in the leg, there is little to prevent the blood from coming under the influence of gravity and pooling back down the vein, causing distention and occasional ruptures.
A ruptured varicose vein can be very serious and cause significant blood loss. Weakened valves can also lead to the formation of blood clots, which is itself a very serious condition that eventually blocks the heart or causes a stroke. Not only can butcher’s broom strengthen the vein walls and prevent leakage, and also enable them to more easily resist the pressure that can cause them to rupture, but it can also be used to break down blood clots. In fact the herb is used in many European hospitals to prevent the formation of blood clots after surgery.
The active ingredients in the rhizome are saponins that contain the aglycones ruscogenin and neuroscogenin and the associated spirostanol and furostanol glycosides. The receptors that cause vasocontraction are known as adrenoreceptors, these receptors can be selectively stimulated by butcher’s broom extract to tighten the veins and improve the return of blood. When introduced intravenously, butcher’s broom was noted to constrict venules (small veins that feed the main veins but not arterioles (the small arteries than feed the capillaries). Hence blood vessels can be selectively treated, and the effect on isolated blood vessels was enhanced by heating. Many supplements include calcium that helps to strengthen the blood vessel walls.
It is possible, therefore, to target the blood vessels that require constrictive treatment in order that they are strong enough to return blood to the heart rather than leak or distend. However, that is not the only health benefit that butcher’s broom provides. It can also be used as a diuretic. It is not a strong diuretic, but is used to relief the swelling of bruises and PMS, the reason given being that since leakage from the blood vessels is lessened, then more fluid is available to pass through the kidneys. There might be other reasons.
It is also use for the treatment of ortho static hypotension, the reduction in blood pressure that some people experience. It is believed that butcher’s broom can control this condition without increasing blood pressure, as most other remedies do, and which is almost as undesirable as the condition they are treating.
There are few problems associated with the herb, although few studies have been carried out its use by pregnant women. Although the one test that was carried indicated no effect, it would be wise for pregnant or nursing women not to use it until further studies have been carried out. Due to its effect in tightening blood vessels, its use is not recommended by anybody suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension). Many hypertension treatments are designed to render the blood vessels more elastic rather than constrict them.
In one very small study of pregnant women who used a topical cream containing butcher's broom, no side effects were seen for either the mother or the baby. However, very little information is available on how oral butcher's broom might affect a developing fetus, an infant, or a small child. Therefore, its use is not recommended during pregnancy, while breast-feeding, or during early childhood.
Because it tightens blood vessels, butcher's broom may worsen high blood pressure or benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Individuals with either of these conditions should not use any form of butcher's broom without first consulting a doctor. The known side effects have already been stated, and they are fairly mild, but few studies have been made on the herb other than in Europe, and the side effects have not been fully explored. It is unlikely; however, that there are any as yet unknown serious side effects since butcher’s broom has been used now for a long time, particularly in Europe.
The term ‘ruscogenin’ is used for the collective mixture of active saponins in butcher’s broom, and many of the supplements are formulated to include from 5 to 15 mg of these. However, check the label, since standardization is not yet required in the USA, and in theory a preparation can include much more or much less ruscogenin. It is frequently supplied with other active ingredients, such as vitamin C or calcium, and perhaps even horse chestnut that affect blood vessels in a similar way. Always follow the instructions on the package, since these are designed for the specific strength of supplement you are using.
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.
L-Carnitine For Health And Wellness
April 16, 2008 03:25 PM
Research continues to mount evidence that l-carnitine can help boost energy and quality of life. Carnitine comes from the Latin word for flesh: caro or carnis. L-carnitine was discovered and isolated from meat in the early 1900s. At that time, scientists thought that l-carnitine played a role in muscle function; this was many years before technology would advance so that this theory could be proved. Today, we know that this amino acid is found mostly in tissue of the body that requires lots of energy such as the heart, skeletal muscles, and liver.
L-carnitine is considered a non-essential amino acid since the body manufactures it from l-methionine and l-lysine. Depending on one’s diet, the body manufactures most of, not all, the l-carnitine it needs every day. There are circumstances where a rare genetic disease can cause the body to not manufacture its own l-carnitine resulting in a deficiency which can cause secondary diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, chronic renal failure, diabetes, heart failure or Alzheimer’s disease. Some medications can cause a deficiency as well, check with your doctor about prescriptions.
The primary energy source for the body is long-chain fatty acids. L-carnitine plays an essential role in energy production process. This amino acid transports long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria, where it is used to produce energy for each cell in the body. l-carnitine then removes the “acyl” group by products out of the mitochondria as they accumulate. Both the transporting in and out of the cells mitochondria is vital for continued muscle function to occur.
Researchers suggest that the limiting factor in high intensity exercise is from the availability of l-carnitine in the muscle tissue. Studies conducted with this amino acid suggest that athletes experience improved performance when supplementing with l-carnitine by reducing post exercise lactate acid levels and improving recovery from exercise stress.
Some research suggests that l-carnitine can help chronic fatigue individuals by shuttling long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria where the body manufactures energy. The bulk of this research was done on chronic fatigue patients who consumed 2 grams per day of l-carnitine. Additional research was performed on individuals over 100 years of age and the results were these individuals experiences increase physical endurance and improved cognitive activity.
L-carnitine can help cardiovascular conditions including angina, congestive heart failure, and peripheral artery disease. Recent studies showed male fertility improvement when l-carnitine was consumed on a regular basis. Men participating had better sperm motility which increases the changes of one reaching an egg and improving the odds of fertilization.
Research also demonstrated that 1 gram of this amino acid daily over three months can help one reduce weight by improving fat metabolism. This holds consistent with the findings that l-carnitine transports long-chain fatty acids (fat) into cellular mitochondria so it can be burned as energy. With a good diet and exercise plan, reports suggest that even more weight loss can be achieved.
Safety is of particular concern when adding extra supplements to one’s diet such as l-carnitine. Good news, l-carnitine is very safe at 1 – 3 grams each day, even higher doses are safe with no side effects. With the mounting evidence on the benefits of l-carnitine consumption, what is stopping you from adding l-carnitine today to your supplement diet to improve health and wellness?
Fight Acne by Eating Right to Lower Blood Sugar Levels
December 24, 2007 02:11 PM
If you are a teenager a cure for acne will likely be first on your list after finding a boyfriend or girlfriend, and most of us who have been teenagers can probably remember the misery that our perception of our looks gave us.
There have been many theories as to the cause of acne, and it is highly likely that there is more than one. The basic reason for the appearance of acne is that oils, dead skin cells and bacteria block the pores of the skin to form a variety of different types of pimples or spots, such as whiteheads, blackheads and pustules than can be irritating or painful. They can also be very unsightly, affecting the face, neck and sometimes the chest and back.
Studies have indicated that acne is caused by the over-production of sebum, a fatty oily substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of the skin to keep it supple and lubricated. If this is excessive, the sebum can block the pores causing blackheads, and become infected causing acne. So what causes this excess production of sebum? There are theories that it could be due to high insulin levels in the blood.
High insulin levels are promoted by high blood glucose levels the more blood glucose in your blood then the more insulin your pancreas produces to help covert it into energy. Higher insulin levels are also associated with high levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). The result of this is an increase in androgens (male hormones), specifically dihydrotestosterone (DHT), metabolized from testosterone. This in turn causes an increased production of sebum leading to acne.
The complete chain, therefore, begins with increased levels of glucose in your blood and ends in acne. In order to prevent acne you would have to break this chain anywhere in its sequence, and the only viable place to do this is at the beginning reduce your blood glucose level. In order to achieve this you would have to determine what foods you are eating that could cause an excessively high level of glucose in your blood.
Glucose is metabolized from carbohydrates, ranging from complex carbohydrates to refined sugar. However, those that you should try to avoid are the refined carbohydrates such as pasta, white bread, rice and sugar. These are what are known as the high glycemic index foods that can cause a sharp rise in your blood glucose levels when consumed. The complex carbohydrates take longer to be metabolized and are not so prone to producing sudden increases in your sugar levels. These lead to more sustained and gradual increases in blood glucose that demand a steady insulin supply, rather than the sudden increase that can lead to acne. Such foods include high fiber whole grains, oats and the like.
Studies have indicated that twelve weeks on a diet of low glycemic index foods resulted in a significant reduction in acne symptoms when compared to a control that did not change their diet. It therefore seems likely that your nutrition can affect your acne, and that changes in your diet could lead to a significant long-term reduction in acne symptoms such as pimples, pustules and other types of lesion.
The same studies also proved a reduction in the androgen levels of those on the complex hydrocarbon diet compared to the controls, and also greater sensitivity to insulin. However, the test group also experienced a significant weight loss, and it was not conclusively proved whether the reduction in acne symptoms was due to the reduction in blood glucose levels or to the weight loss.
However, the result is in accordance with the insulin and androgen theory, and it is known that diabetes is connected with obesity, so the two might in any case be related. Acne, diabetes, and weight are all related to your blood sugar level, which is in turn related to diet and carbohydrate intake.
Although a low glycemic index diet is suggested, such a diet is not easy to apply properly, and a dietician could help you here. Persistence is the name of the game, and you will not see instant results. Note that the tests referred to above were over twelve weeks, and this is likely the minimum period you will need to stick to your diet. However, the minute you break it, and revert back to simple carbohydrates, your problem will return. There is no sudden cure, rather a continual dietary approach to the prevention of the condition. Acne is not a disease that you can catch and cure. It is a condition created by lifestyle and diet, and can only be controlled rather than cured until you grow out of it in your late teens or early twenties, although many people suffer from acne until later in life.
Your diet should include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and cereals, brown rice, fish, eggs and lean meats. You should avoid saturated and trans fats, and eat unsaturated fats and oils, with plenty of omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals for a good skin and good health. Exercise will help by improving the blood flow to your skin.
You can also help your condition by taking some specific supplements. Saw palmetto and zinc will help to reduce the levels of testosterone in your blood, and vitamins E and B6 are also believed to help. Selenium, pantothenic acid and essential fatty acids are other supplements that can help with acne, but your best bet is to discuss your condition with a naturopath or somebody trained in the use of natural remedies and supplements with your condition.
Many swear by tea tree oil, although treatment has to be prolonged over a length period before it becomes effective, but you might prefer this to one of the chemical testosterone blockers that can be prescribed for acne in certain cases.
Overall, acne is not a serious condition but can be disfiguring. Although you can seek medical help in the event of serious attacks, your recommended treatment initially is to eat plenty of healthy foods low in simple carbohydrates, to take the appropriate supplements and nutrients to keep you healthy and to take plenty of exercise to maintain a good blood supply to your face.
In these ways you can reduce the number, depth and lasting effects of acne pustules, and in many cases clear the condition altogether.
A Periwinkle Extract Vinpocetine May Promote Cerebral Blood Flow
December 01, 2007 09:05 AM
Periwinkles form the plant genus Vinca, of which the lesser periwinkle and the greater periwinkle are the two members. They are also a form of dogbane, known for its alkaloid properties. Periwinkles are of interest to the medical profession due to their biosynthesis of a number of alkaloids that are used to protect themselves from bacteria and are also toxic to the herbivores that would otherwise eat them.
Many other plants produce alkaloids, perhaps the best known being poppy, that produces the alkaloid opium that is the precursor to heroin. The alkaloids of the periwinkle, however, have a much more beneficial use for mankind in their action on certain types of cancer such as Hodgkin’s disease, and also on the flow of blood to the brain.
The components of the periwinkle include vinblastine, which is used in the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and it is the only plant known to produce the alkaloid, although only in very small quantities after synthetic seeding. This involves introducing modified tryptamines to the plant so that they produce the desired alkaloid, although only in quantities of 0.002% of the weight of the plant. Although small, this is still less expensive that synthesizing the alkaloid in a chemical plant rather than a biological one!
Chemists are now seeking more readily synthesizable alternative forms of the alkaloid that have the same effect, again using the periwinkle as a botanical chemical factory to provide them with a lead as to possible synthetic routes. However, it is for the application of another alkaloid of this amazing little plant that we are more concerned with here.
In addition to vinblastine, the periwinkle produces the alkaloid vincamine, a type of tryptamine that can be extracted from the leaves of the lesser periwinkle, the Vinca minor. This periwinkle has been used through the ages as an invigorating tonic and as an astringent to treat bleeding gums and sores in the mouth. Vincamine promotes the aerobic glycolysis that is essential to cerebral health.
Normal glycolysis, or the conversion of glucose to energy in the mitochondria of the cells of the body, occurs best in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic glycolysis). However, the brain produces up to and over 90% more energy through aerobic glycolysis in the presence of oxygen than through anaerobic. Hence one of the needs for such a rich supply of oxygenated blood being needed by the brain. As people grow older, or their brain tissue becomes damaged, then the supply of blood can be reduced and more and more anaerobic glycolysis is switched on. This results in an increasing loss of brain energy and hence brain function. Vincamine can reverse this effect, or at least maintain the status quo, and so enable people to maintain their brain function for longer.
It is also what is known as a vasodilator, and dilates the blood vessels in the brain allowing a greater blood flow. It is known to be beneficial in relation to tasks requiring focused concentration such as mathematical problem solving, and has also been found effective in the treatment of people with poor memory.
Vinpocetine (ethyl apovincaminate) is a derivative of vincamine, obtained by slightly modifying the molecule to produce a commercial form of the alkaloid. This possesses all of the beneficial effects of its precursor, including its positive effects on memory, believed to be due to the stimulation of serotonin production that improves the rate at which the brain can process information. Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears that has severely reduced the quality of life of so many people, can also be treated with vinpotecine.
Its vascodilation effect is thought to be through its action as a phosphodeaterase 1 (PDE1) inhibitor that results in an improvement in the plasticity of neurons. The mechanism is complex, but the end result is an improvement in the cognitive abilities of the subject. This is supplemented by the effect of vinpocetine on the calcium levels in the blood vessels. This renders them more plastic in much the same way that some anti-hypertension treatments work to reduce blood pressure by increasing the plasticity of the blood vessels by modification of their calcium levels. It can also reduce the viscosity of the blood through its action on the “stickiness” of leucocytes and so allow the blood to run more freely through the capillaries of the brain.
These effects have been demonstrated through double blind studies, and there is little doubt that vinpocetine helps to maintain a healthy cerebral circulation. So let’s have a recap on its various effects, and then finish with a summary of the conditions that the alkaloid can be used to treat or improve. The theory and biochemistry behind these effects is known, but is complex, but here are the major actions:
a) It improves blood flow by modifying the calcium content of the blood vessels and so improves their elasticity, hence allowing a freer movement of blood. In effect it helps the blood vessels to dilate easier.
b) It inhibits the enzyme PDE1 and by doing so helps to restore the elasticity of neurons in aging brain cells, allowing them to relax more and operate more effectively.
c) It promotes aerobic glycolysis, and so the rate at which the mitochondria of brain cells produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) that is the chemical manifestation of energy.
d) It helps to maintain a good supply of glucose and oxygen in the brain to allow (c) to occur.
Not all of these may be separate effects, but the outcome is an improvement in conditions such as short term memory loss, dementia and other conditions associated with a reduction in the blood supply to the brain including Menière’s syndrome and vertigo. There is also evidence that it helps with hearing problems, macular degeneration of the eye, and fatigue.
It is a supplement that should be taken by the elderly to help with age-related memory problems, but has also been found to be beneficial in normal healthy people. The periwinkle extract Vinpocetine has been shown to have benefits, largely through an increase in the blood flow to the brain, and will be of use to anybody suffering from conditions that can be related to a deficiency in their cerebral blood supply.
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.
Papaya- May Be A Fountain of Youth
May 31, 2007 02:09 PM
Papaya- May Be A Fountain of Youth
Seventy years ago, when the Social Security Administration was developed during the Great Depression, age 62 was recognized as average life expectancy. These days, getting older is a whole different ball game. Not only are people living well into their 80s and 90s, they’re living better, too. People well into retirement are mountain biking, kayaking, jogging and hiking, as well as gardening, golfing and attending concerts – sometimes for their first time. Everybody, it seems, is on the go, from ages of 22 to 92.
Of course, you don’t have to wait until retirement to start planning for a longer more vibrant life. The best way to ensure happier and longer years ahead is to start young.
Nobody wants to spend retirement in the doctor’s waiting room or have their golden years intruded upon with illnesses or infirmities. And, most importantly, we don’t want to feel 80 years old even though our driver’s license says we are.
These desires and demands are not just wishful thinking. Huge advances in the understanding of how men and women age are being made almost daily. These findings are helping to improve our chances of living long, healthy lives. And, some of the most impressive findings have shown that using nutritional supplements can help – in particular, a specially formulated papaya preparation is able to fight two of the primary reasons we get old – oxidative stress and immune system decline.
This issue of Ask the Doctor is going to share the anti-aging secrets hidden in the papaya and how this tropical fruit may hold the key to a long, vibrant life.
Q. Why papaya? What does papaya have that other fruits and vegetables don’t?
A. Not many American moms put a papaya in their kids’ lunch boxes and papaya pie has yet to gain a following. But this tangy tasting fruit is now appearing fairly frequently in the produce departments of most grocery stores and its popularity seems to steadily increase each year.
The papaya’s bright orange flesh is fairly fibrous and very slippery – slicing a peeled papaya is a little like slicing a bar of wet soap. The core is filled with little black seeds that look a lot like caviar. And while eating a papaya will give you a day’s worth of vitamins A and C as well as potassium taking Fermented Papaya Preparation (or FPP) might just give you an additional 30 years of healthy vibrant life.
Q. What exactly is Fermented Papaya Preparation (FPP)?
A. It’s a specialized nutritional supplement. Backed by more than 30 studies to date, FPP has been used in
Q. How was FPP developed?
A. Japanese scientists noticed that individuals with higher amounts of papaya in their diets experienced certain health benefits.
Researchers who study aging decided to look at the papaya’s chemistry to see if it might have properties that could contribute to longevity. Several plant chemicals in the papaya showed promise. And when they combined papaya with specific yeasts and traditional Japanese fermentation techniques, FPP was born. This unique substance was then subjected to scientific studies to see its health impact; they determined that FPP is a superior antioxidant, a powerful immune-booster, and one of
Q. How does FPP help people live longer and healthier?
A. While getting older is an indisputable fact of life, aging, per se, is not. We can’t do much about our annual birthdays and we really shouldn’t even if we could. Every age is a cause for celebration and every life experience, both the difficult and the sublime, should be treasured.
However, we don’t have to accept the consequences of aging that can make a mockery of the “Golden Years” - heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and cancer. Our parents and grandparents and the generations that preceded them might have had little say in how they aged. But we can. We can slow down the harmful effects of aging and FPP can help by reducing oxidative stress and immune system decline.
Additionally, fighting oxidative stress helps people retain their youthful appearance longer. Oxidative damage is the number one factor in facial aging.
Q. What exactly does oxidative stress mean and what does it have to do with aging?
A. One theory of aging is that harmful molecules called free radicals wreak havoc in our cells. Many of our body’s normal metabolic processes produce free radicals. For example, free radicals are a normal by-product in the production of ATP (the energy molecule) from glucose. Certain types of white blood cells destroy invading microbes by the production of free radicals. Free radicals are also formed by the many normal enzymatic actions that take place every minute every day.
However, outside sources can also cause free radical formation, as well. If we are exposed to pollutants in the environment, chemicals, additives and preservatives in the food we eat, or even direct sunlight, excess production of free radicals can occur, causing profound damage. This free radical frenzy is called oxidative stress, and is linked to almost every disease of aging including arthritis, heart disease, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer. In fact, the reason why these are called diseases of aging is because the longer we are alive, the longer we are subjected to these free radical assaults.
Q. How does FPP affect the decline of our immune systems as we age?
A. Our immune systems consist of specialized tissues, organs, and cells, including several different kinds of white blood cells. Each type of white blood cell works in specific ways to keep us healthy and free of disease. They not only stand guard – on the alert for invaders – they can fight and eradicate microbes, too.
However, as we age, our white blood cells become less efficient in keeping viruses and bacteria from infecting us. They often mistake invaders for good guys, like nutrients. As they age, white blood cells may recognize foreign invaders, but be too tired to fight and let them in. This age-associated immune decline also results in single cancer cells being able to “take hold” and grow into tumors. By the time the white blood cells realize their mistake, the cancer is a widespread disease.
That’s why older members of society have more urinary tract infections, more pneumonia, more cases of bacterial meningitis, tuberculosis, herpes zoster, and much more cancer than younger adults do. Moreover, mortality rates for these diseases are often 2-3 times higher among adults than younger people with the same disease.
FPP steps in and takes charge. One kind of white blood cells, the macrophage “eats” and digests bacteria, viral particles, and free radical fragments. Research has shown that FPP helps macrophages work faster and ingest more disease-causing microbes. Scientists have also discovered that FPP increases the production of a chemical protein called interleukin that’s secreted by macrophages. Interleukin plays an important part in wound healing and keeping minor infections from becoming major infections.
Another important immune system cell is the natural killer (NK) cell, a white blood cell that is continually on the prowl for cancer cells. As the immune system ages, NK cells have trouble “seeing” cancer cells. Researchers have discovered that FPP boosts the activity of NK cells. Increased NK cell activity can result in the increased killing of cancer cells as well as cells infected by viruses.
Q. How does FPP help protect us from free radical damage?
A. FPP contains unique and powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radical damage. Antioxidants do this by donating an extra electron to the free radical without becoming frenzied or worked up into a free radical themselves. Although the antioxidant has donated an electron, it has a more stable “personality” and is less reactive. This action stops the domino effect and ongoing free-radical damage.
If you consider your body a temple, think of free radicals as stealing bricks from your temple’s foundation. FPP acts not only as policeman, but as a builder as well. It doesn’t just stop the theft of bricks; it helps create new ones, keeping the foundation strong and young.
FPP does this by affecting super oxide dimutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPX), the very genetic pathways that eliminate free radicals from the system. FPP is more than an antioxidant – it doesn’t turn into a pro-oxidant if you happen to take a large dose the way standard antioxidants can. Consider it an “antioxidant plus.”
Since aging is largely determined by how well our bodies can fight oxidative damage, using FPP can slow down the clock as it bolsters natural abilities with its own potent neutralizing activities.
Q. What else does science say about FPP?
A. As the subject of over 30 clinical studies, FPP has been shown to inhibit dangerous hydroxyl free radicals. In addition, it is also being considered for its immuno-protective effects.
Researchers and medical professionals have been studying FPP for years, tracking its effect on the immune system and aging. In fact, no less a personage then Dr. Luc Montagnier, co-discover of HIV 1 & 2 virus, has been conducting research on this natural immune booster.
Dr. Montagnier recommends using FPP as part of a tri-therapy (including antibiotics) that reduces the proliferation of the virus and stimulates the immune system. Since FPP has antioxidant and immuno-stimulative properties, it seems like an obvious choice for a combined approach to combating AIDS. Because of the higher free radical production in stage II of HIV infection, Montagnier believes that reducing this oxidative stress at the earliest stage of HIV infection may be a key factor.
In HIV-infected patients, the glutathione system is depressed even at the early stages. As part of a combination treatment, FPP increased the numbers of CF4 lymphocytes helped with weight gain and increased hemoglobin levels.
One scientific study showed the ability of FPP to inhibit dangerous hydroxyl and hydroxyl-like free radicals, while enhancing the production of protective super oxide. Other research by Dr. Lester Packer, a professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology at the
And, in one randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, patients with cirrhosis of the liver were given FPP or a placebo. The results showed that 81.2% of the patients survived in the FPP group compared to 38.5% of participants in the placebo group.
These studies and many others like it, show that FPP can neutralize the effects of oxidative stress on disease states as well as slowing the normal aging process.
Q. So if we can prevent oxidative damage to our cells AND prevent decline in our immune systems, how much longer can we expect to live?
A. Most theories of aging and almost all researchers who study aging claim there IS a limit to how long the human body can remain viable. However, the oldest age achieved so far was 128 by a woman named Ma Pampo who lived in the
Right now, Japanese women have the longest life span of any country in the world, with an average life expectancy of 85.93 years. Japanese men live an average 78.87 years.
Q. Is FPP safe?
A. Yes, it is. Many health-conscious people in
Q. What is the recommended dosage level of FPP?
A. Dosages of FPP vary depending on individual needs and usage. For basic anti-aging support, 3 grams per day is fine. For additional support, up to 9 grams per day is recommended. To add a boost to your immune system when you need it, start out with 6-9 grams a day for the first 2-3 days (at the beginning of a cold, for example) and then move back down to 3 grams per day.
For individuals looking for optimum immune support, Dr. Montagnier advises morning and evening doses, preferably on an empty stomach.
Breast Cancer and Natural Supplements
May 11, 2007 10:47 AM
Breast Cancer and Nutritional Supplements
There is probably nothing more frightening for a woman than the discovery of a lump in her breast. Cancer and all its consequences quickly come to mind. This quick association may materialize, in part, because no woman is immune. Most have a friend, a sister, a mother, or a coworker who has been diagnosed with the disease. And they know how difficult dealing with this disease can be. Fortunately, 80% of all breast lumps are not cancerous. Most are cysts or a benign clump of tissue.
Over her lifetime, a woman’s breasts undergo many, many changes. From before puberty and on, breast tissue is continually evolving. Breasts often feel different before menstrual cycle, returning to normal a few days after. Pregnancy certainly causes changes in a woman’s breasts, as does breastfeeding. And as women age, breast tissue becomes less dense.
Because of these continual changes, breast tissue especially requires adequate nutrition. While everyone benefits from a healthy diet, there are additional nutrients from which women can specifically benefit.
In this issue of Ask the Doctor, we will discuss breast cancer and the vast amount of research that has explored the role nutrition plays in this serious and still deadly disease. Specifically, we will discuss how two B vitamins, calcium D-glucarate, broccoli extract, green tea, maitake mushrooms, and iodine can all help prevent breast cancer.
Q. How can these nutrients prevent breast cancer?
A. Scientists learn a lot about disease from simply observing what is happening around them. One observation that has been recognized for many years is that certain cultures have very low incidence of breast cancer. Women n
Moms (and dads) have also learned a lot about diseases simply by observing what is happening in their families. They have notices that certain vegetables play a large role in the prevention of all types of diseases, including cancer. And, accordingly, they have been urging their offspring to eat their vegetables for several generations.
Building on these observations, scientists have designed and carried out many studies to determine what it is about these nutrients that can prevent breast cancer. What they have discovered, so far, follows. Let’s start with the B vitamins.
Deficiencies of this vitamin can result in a serious type of anemia. Nerve damage can also occur if B12 levels are too low. Researchers are now investigating whether breast cancer may, in part, be caused by a B12 deficiency as well.
Another study, this one taking place in a laboratory setting, discovered that vitamin B12, applied directly against experimental breast cancer cells, actually stopped the cancer cells from growing. The researchers conducting the experiment believe that giving vitamin B12 to women with breast cancer as part of a chemotherapy regime, might help keep the cancer in check.
Low folic acid intake is linked to the development of all cancers. This is because folic acid is crucial to the making and continual repair of DNA, the molecule that carries our genetic code. A recent study discovered that high intakes of folic acid might actually reduce the risk of breast cancer. The researchers looked at the diets of over 2600 women. During interviews with the researchers, the women reported what they usually ate. Once the data was collected, the results showed that women, who ate lots of foods that contained folic acid, had much lower rates of breast cancer.
There is no clear-cut, single cause of breast cancer. Many factors are required for the disease to appear. One such factor is estrogen. A recent study showed that women who developed breast cancer tended to have higher levels of estrogen circulating in their bodies than women without breast cancer. This means that women who got their periods before age eleven or entered menopause after age fifty-five have a higher risk of breast cancer. This also supports the theory that the number of menstrual cycles a woman has affects her risk for breast cancer.
Another factor is drinking alcohol. Because alcohol raises estrogen levels, if a woman consumes even moderate amounts of alcohol her risk of breast cancer also is increased. The link between alcohol and breast cancer may even be stronger than other dietary links. However, an important study has discovered that folic acid may uncouple this link.
A very large study of over 34,000 women recently studied the effect of folic acid on the risk of breast cancer. This project was part of the Nurses’ Health Study, an ongoing, long-term study that looks at nutrition’s role in the development of disease. The women in the folic acid and breast cancer study were followed for 12 years. The participants completed detailed food questionnaires that provided the researchers with important data.
The women were divided into four groups:
1. Women with low folic acid levels and drink alcohol
2. Women with high folic acid levels and rink alcohol
3. Women with low folic acid levels and don’t drink alcohol
4. Women with high folic acid levels and don’t drink alcohol
Within these four groups the women were further divided into subgroups according to the amount of alcohol they consumed each day and their specific folic acid intake.
The researchers found that women who consumed the lowest amounts of folic acid and drank at least one alcoholic beverage a day had the highest rate of breast cancer. In contrast, women who had high intakes of folic acid and also drank at least one alcoholic beverage a day, had the same rate of breast cancer as the women with high folic acid intakes who did not drink. In other words, women who had high levels of folic acid in their diet erased their alcohol-related increase in breast cancer risk.
It seems estrogen can be both friend and foe. While women need the hormone to soften skin, thicken hair, and fill out hips and breasts, estrogen can also nourish breast tumors, helping them grow bigger, stronger, and more deadly. Thanks, in part, to good nutrition, American women get their periods early and go through menopause alter in life. Women today also have fewer pregnancies; families with one or two children are quite common.
All of these factors increase the time women’s bodies are exposed to estrogen. As we discussed before, longer exposure means increased opportunities for estrogen to cause trouble. It is also a troubling fact of modern life that we are continuously exposed to cancer-causing chemicals and toxins. These toxins come in part from contaminants in the food we eat and pollutants in the air we breathe.
The body does have a system that eliminates some of the excess estrogen and toxic chemicals before they can cause harm. In the liver, they are bound or attached to a chemical called glucuronic acid. The bound toxin or estrogen is then excreted in bile and eventually eliminated as a waste product in the stool.
However, an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase can break this bond between estrogen and glucuronic acid. When this happens, the hormone or toxin is released from its bone, capable of causing harm once more. Increased beta-glucuronidase activity is associated with an increased risk for various cancers, particularly hormone-dependant cancers like breast cancer.
Fortunately, scientists have discovered that a natural substance found in foods calcium D-glucarate (CDG) can stop the activity of beta-glucuonidase. CDG keeps the harmful estrogen bound to glucuronidase. While CDG is found in fruits and vegetables, the amounts may not be sufficient to maintain effective levels to stop beta-glucuronidase.
CDG has been shown in experimental studies to significantly stop beast cancer growth. And several human trials are currently underway with CDG to determine its capability to decrease the breast cancer risk in women at high risk for the disease.
There are some very interesting connections between breast tissue and thyroid tissue. Iodine is an essential trace element present in a hormone of the thyroid gland and is involved in several metabolic functions. One iodine function is the protection of breast tissue from cancerous cells.
In a laboratory study, researchers exposed breast cancer cells and breast tissue without any cancer to a type of seaweed that contains high levels of iodine. The seaweed killed all of the cancerous cells, yet did not harm the normal breast cells. Japanese women frequently eat this type of seaweed and have very low rates of breast cancer. The study’s researchers believe one reason for this low incidence of breast cancer may be the iodine in the seaweed.
And, for some as yet unknown reasons, women who have thyroid cancer are at higher risk of developing breast cancer. While they are unsure why this happens, researchers are continuing to study this link, and support of healthy thyroid function remains an important consideration.
For quite some time, scientists have observed that cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, significantly reduce the risk of disease, including cancer. It seems a phytochemical in broccoli sulforaphane, is one of the chemicals responsible for this beneficial activity. Sulforaphane increases certain enzymes in the body called phase 2 enzymes that deactivate cancer-causing chemicals.
Breast cancer cells exposed to sulforaphane in several lab experiments showed that the compound inhibited the growth of the cancer cells up to 80 percent. Researchers are in the process of setting up clinical trials to study sulforaphane’s effect in women who have breast cancer.
There is a tall amount of research, including finding from the Nurses’ Health Study, that suggest green tea beverage consumption is associated with a lower incidence of breast cancer. In fact, researchers have long noted the low rates of breast cancer in
The active compound in green tea responsible for breast cancer inhibition is epigallocatechin-3 gallate or EGCG. When breast cancer cells are exposed to EGCG in lab experiments, the cells stop growing, lose their ability to replicate, and die.
In a recent study, researchers discovered that drinking green tea prevented the recurrence of breast cancer in women who have previously been diagnosed and treated for the disease. This study involved over 1100 Japanese women. The women who drank green tea every day had very low rates of their breast cancer returning.
For thousands of years, maitake mushrooms have been linked to good health in those who eat them. Called “dancing mushrooms” (possibly due to their wavy, rippling appearance or possibly due to the little dance of joy mushroom hunters perform when they find them in the woods), maitakes contain an important compound called D-fraction.
Not only does the D-fraction in maitake mushrooms stop the growth of cancerous tumors, it also alerts and stimulates immune cells (including macrophages and natural killer cells) to fight the disease. Maitake also inhibits some of the mechanism that promotes metastasis, or spread, of cancer cells in the lymph and bloodstream.
Because of this success, maitake is now being used in clinical trials of women with breast cancer. One study reported significant improvement of symptoms, including reduction of the tumor. The maitake was given to breast cancer patients in addition to standard chemotherapy.
Q. Should these nutrients be used in place of traditional treatment for breast cancer?
A. Absolutely not. None of these nutrients can cure breast cancer. However, they can be a part of a validated plan of treatment. If you have breast cancer, talk to your health care practitioner about these nutrients. Remember, nutritional supplements are just that: supplements to food, medication, and treatment. They are intended to enhance and prevent, not replace.
Despite apprehension in performing self-breast exams, women are very proactive in their health. Yearly mammograms and pap tests have been an important part of their lives for many years, and newer and more accurate diagnoses are emerging. The prevention of health problems in themselves and their families has always been a high priority for women. And for women, nutrition has played an important part of health problem prevention.
Nutritionally speaking, what benefits your breasts benefit your whole body. However, as we have learned, there are specific links between nutrition and developing breast cancer that seem to be fairly strong.
Making a few changes may reduce the risk of developing the disease. The nutrients listed here, vitamin B12, folic acid, calcium d-glucarate, iodine, broccoli, green tea, and maitake mushrooms can be an important part of a woman’s preventative health regimen.
Memory And Focus
May 08, 2007 02:05 PM
Memory & Focus
Some people think getting older often means getting slower. It’s true that as we age, we may find we can’t walk quite as fast, climb as many flights of stairs, or play sports as hard as we could when we were twenty. However, we k now that a healthy diet, regular exercise, and the right dietary supplements can make a huge difference in our health, strength, and mobility as we age.
This is true for our mental abilities as well. We may not think as quickly as we used to, might misplace our keys more often, and experience more “tip-of-my-tongue” word searches. These so-called “middle-aged moments” most often have minor consequences: a missed appointment or the forgotten name of an acquaintance. However, in a small number of cases, these mental slips can also be the first sign of serious diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease of other dementias.
The good news is, just like our physical health, we can improve how we function mentally. Eating healthy foods, taking the right supplements, and participating in regular mental exercise can significantly increase our mental endurance, improve our memory, and optimize our ability to focus.
In fact, groundbreaking and ongoing research has discovered that specific herbs and vitamins, particularly Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa monnieri, folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, and the important co-enzyme and antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid, all have powerful effects on memory and focus. These nutritional supplements have been scientifically shown to quickly reduce mild age-related memory chances, as well as greatly reducing the risk of developing more serious problems like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or other brain diseases later on in life.
Q. What is the difference between age related memory decline and dementia?
A. As we get older, our nerve cells need more time to spark and connect, slowing the process of bringing memories and events to mind. Another theory is that, as we age, we accumulate more knowledge and memories. The mind then has to sort through much more data to reference a memory. Almost everyone middle-aged and older notices this slowdown. Memory decline and problems with mental focus are a normal part of aging.
While it’s true that the older we get, our chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease increase, this illness is not a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive dementia that slowly kills nerve cells in areas of the brain where memory, learning, though, and language take place. Often first appearing as people begin retirement, Alzheimer’s disease makes the “golden years” a time of loss and devastation. Memories vanish, relationships are erased, and independence is gradually lost.
After Alzheimer’s disease, the second most common cause of dementia in older people is multi-infarct dementia. Caused by a series of mini-strokes that damage or destroy brain tissue over time, multi-infarct dementia usually affects people between the ages of 60 and 75. Men are slightly more at risk. High blood pressure is the most significant risk factor for multi-infarct dementia.
Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, strokes, Huntington’s disease, Creutzfelt-Jakob disease, and alcoholism can also cause progressive and irreversible dementia.
While normal age-related memory and focus loss may mean we can’t remember where we put our car keys, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia may mean we can’t remember what our car keys are used for.
Q. Are any types of memory and focus loss reversible?
A. Yes. As women enter menopause, they frequently experience trouble remembering. This memory interference is caused by hormone fluctuations and can affect speech, thinking, and attention. Symptoms of menopause-related memory loss and poor focus include recognizing faces less well than in the past, missing scheduled appointments, and misplacing articles. Once a woman passes through menopause, her ability to remember and focus most often improves.
Certain medications, such as the heavily prescribed cholesterol lowering drugs called stains, can temporarily interfere with memory. Low vitamin B levels, artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and thyroid disease can cause disruption of mental focus and memory loss. These problems usually resolve with treatment of the underlying disorder.
A certain type of stoke, called a transient ischemic attack (TIA) can cause memory loss that may be reversible. A TIA is a brief episode of stroke symptoms that come on quickly. Sometimes referred to as a “mini-stroke” or “warning stroke,” a TIA is caused by a temporary interruption in the blood supply to the brain. But, unlike a stroke, a TIA does not lead to permanent brain damage. While a TIA is usually short-lived, it is likely to occur again if not properly managed and can be a warning of future stroke.
Q. I seem to forget a lot of things. How can I be sure I don’t have Alzheimer’s disease or some other dementia?
A. If you, or other around you, are concerned about your memory, you should be examined by your health care practitioner. Once the cause of your memory and focus problem is diagnosed, treatment can begin. All causes of memory loss and mental focus disruption can be treated, even Alzheimer’s disease. While presently irreversible dementias cannot be cured, the progression of the disease may be slowed, and in some cases, stopped..
Research on memory loss and mental focus disruption has increased dramatically in the past few years. Discoveries regarding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as well as age-related loss of memory and focus have recently been made. Most importantly, many new treatment options, including the use of nutritional supplements, have been developed.
Q. How can nutritional supplements improve memory and focus?
A. Several herbs and vitamins have been demonstrated to improve memory and mental focus. While some nutritional supplements work now to improve memory and focus, others work to prevent problems we might develop later.
One of the most researched herbs, Ginkgo biloba, has been found to be effective in improving currently experienced memory and focus loss; in other words, problems we are having now. Ginkgo has been studied in individuals who have age-related memory loss, as well as in those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It seems that ginkgo can improve many brain functions, such as speeding up memory recall, protecting brain cells from chemical changes and free radical damage, improving blood flow to the brain, and helping nerve cells communicate with each other better.
Several studies examined ginkgo’s effect in healthy people who were experiencing normal age-related memory and focus problems. They determined that ginkgo improved memory, attention, and clarity of thinking. Ginkgo can also help restore memories that may be lost in TIAs, those mini-strokes that were discussed earlier.
In studies of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, the results showed that ginkgo slowed down the disease in those severely afflicted and actually improved those with very mild or moderate disease. In one of these studies, ginkgo was compared to four prescription cholinesterase inhibitors, medications commonly used to treat individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Using written mental tests, the researchers found that ginkgo worked just as effectively as the prescription drugs. While those taking one of the cholinesterase inhibitors dropped out of the study because of disturbing side effects, ginkgo had no side effects and improved symptoms equally as well.
Q. Hoe does Bacopa monnieri help memory and focus?
A. Like ginkgo, bacopa works on the memory and focus problems we are experiencing now. Bacopa grows in
Q. How does alpha lipoic acid help memory and focus?
A. Alpha lipoic acid (
Researchers have discovered unmistakable free radical damage in Alzheimer’s disease. Accordingly,
In a recent study, people with Alzheimer’s disease were given tests that measured through and memory. They were then given
Q. How do vitamins B12 and B6 help memory and focus?
A. Vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient in the regulation of nerve transmissions. It is required by the nervous system for normal brain function, and it may also help with mood.
Researchers have learned that people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias (including Parkinson’s disease) have elevated homocysteine levels. IN fact, t he amount of homocysteine in the blood corresponds to the severity of the disease. Most people with a high homocysteine level don’t have enough folate, vitamin B5 or vitamin B12 in their diet. Replacing these vitamins helps return the homocysteine level to normal.
Reducing homocysteine levels may prevent the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease, or other brain diseases, and improve the symptoms of those already afflicted.
Q. What about folic acid?
A. Folic acid has long been recognized as a vital nutrient for the brain and spinal cord. Recent research has demonstrated that folic acid has significant importance in Alzheimer’s disease.
An ongoing study of Alzheimer’s disease that began in 1986 has been studying 678 members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in the hopes of learning how the disease develops, how it might be prevented, and how to treat it. Data collected in the study includes biographies the sisters wrote upon entrance to the order, blood samples from the sisters while they are living, and information gained from the voluntary donation of their brains after death.
Aptly named the “Nun Study,” ground breaking discoveries have already been made. It seems that diet and nutrition have a dramatic influence in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Sisters who had high levels of folic acid showed little evidence of Alzheimer’s-type damage in their brains after death. And, those nuns who had Alzheimer’s disease in spite of high folic acid levels had profoundly less brain damage from the disease. In fact, some sisters who had no outward evidence of Alzheimer’s disease while they were living had surprisingly extensive damage in their brains after death.
Q. Besides taking ginkgo, bacopa, B vitamins, folic acid, and ALA, is there other things I can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
A. You may not know if you have a serious B-vitamin deficiency. Routine lab work does not measure the amount of B vitamins in your blood. You might want to ask your health care practitioner to have your B vitamin level in your blood measured, especially if you are having memory and focus problems. Keep in mind that this type of lab work is fairly expensive, however.
Supplements do not replace the need for a healthy diet, especially a diet with high levels of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids. Keeping your body healthy helps keep your brain healthy as well.
It also seems that the use-it-or-lose-it theory applies to our brain as well as our body. Research has shown that people who seek opportunities to keep mentally active, such as reading books, newspapers, and magazines, solving crossword puzzles, playing card games, and visiting museums, lower their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dealing with age-related memory loss may be both frustrating and frightening. As the population of
In fact, more and more research shows prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is a reality. And age-related memory loss can successfully be improved as well. Taking the scientifically validated nutritional supplements ginkgo, bacopa, vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, and
NHA/Washington Update - Statistics Lie
April 06, 2007 04:57 PM
The mass media targets antioxidants with misleading stats.
The smear campaign against nutritional supplements continues in 2007, with headlines such as the following: “Antioxidants Don’t help You Live Longer,” “Antioxidants Might be Dangerous,” “Antioxidants Do Not Prevent Disease and May Increase Mortality.” Do you notice a theme? Antioxidants are the latest target for media manipulators seeking to steer the public away from life-enhancing nutrition.
The study that spawned these alarmist headlines, first published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is a “meta-analysis”; this means it draws its conclusions from a number of different studies. In this case, 68 studies involving 232,606 people were analyzed. Meta-analyses are an example of how easily statistics can lie.
Like 2004’s infamous vitamin E-bashing meta-analysis (which proclaimed vitamin E to be deadly, even though it focused on elderly patients who were already stricken with disease), the recent meta-analysis of antioxidants has a preordained outcome—results are determined by which studies are chosen for analysis. Experts have pointed out significant flaws in the execution of this meta-analysis; for example, it includes studies that administered many different combinations of antioxidants, and in varying doses. In addition, these Hitler-skelter antioxidants and dosages are scattered across a wide range of people, everyone from male doctors to elderly nursing home patients. Finally, this meta-analysis neglected to include the most significant antioxidant study ever conducted in its findings. The china study, which in surveying 800 million people was one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind, verified antioxidants effectiveness in fighting cancer, heart disease and stroke. Why was it not included in the meta-analysis?
Even a junior high school science student would question this meta-analysis’s statistical significance. So how can mass media transform this flawed study into headlines that proclaim antioxidants will kill you?
The answer is because the media gets away with it. In our fast paced world, where celebrity rehab stints are front page news, fact-driven journalism is fading—and distracted news readers are enabling its demise. The solution? Consider media reports with awareness and intelligence, and never assume that headlines speak truthfully.
The recent antioxidant bashing study crumbles when subjected to awareness and intelligence. In addition to the obvious study flaws, and even more telling: stories coving the study with headlines proclaiming “antioxidants may increase mortality” are grievously misleading; as it turns out, the study did not identify any causes of death—which were surely diverse given that the study tracked over 200,000 diverse people. Believe the headlines, however, an antioxidants causing all the deaths when in fact they probably caused none—an example of the absurd “association with out causation” logic that may destroy our right to take safe, natural supplements.
Continue investigating and you will find that Denham Harman, MD, PhD, the “father of the free radical theory of aging,” antioxidants pioneer and professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is able-bodied and active at age 91. Harman takes antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium daily—a revelation with more credibility than any antioxidant bashing hatchet-job study.
Educate yourself about antioxidants and other supplements that Congress is trying to take away from you. Fight to keep your health under your own control, always. Patronize the natural health food store that are committed to providing you with quality products and reliable knowledge. For more information, visit www.nha2007.com
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.
March 08, 2007 12:27 PM
Revita, the most efficient hair growth stimulating shampoo available in the market is the final result of DS Laboratories efforts on cutting edge research. Revita is a powerful and unique SLS/SLES free combination of active ingredients specially designed to maintain scalp vitality and act on folicle dysfunctions in order to achieve best results in short periods of time. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate, commonly used low cost detergents in shampoos and cleansers, are linked to skin irritation, skin drying and hair loss due to follicle attack. Revita is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate free, providing a high quality scalp skin safe shampoo product.
Revita was developed with a cost-no-object approach. Revita’s compounds have been chosen based exclusively on their properties, quality and efficacy (in the opposite of the majority of available products, which are usually developed with production costs in mind). The final result is a very high quality shampoo product with absolutely no equivalent competitor in the market. Revita combines costly first line compounds at high concentrations like Caffeine at 4.0%, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Seed Extract at 1.0% and Spin Traps (SOD Mimic) at 0.1% with other top level ingredients which make Revita a unique product in its class.
To improve the efficacy of this synergic combination, DS Laboratories developed a unique “chemical free” extraction process that keeps original properties and clinical efficacy of final components. Through gentle mechanical compression, Revita’s compounds are obtained as pure and chemically preserved active molecules.
Revita starts acting on your scalp and hair follicle since the first day of use. The time you will need to note the first results will depend of the severity and duration of your hair loss. No matter how long or how intense your hair loss is, using Revita on daily basis will improve the vitality of your scalp, maintaining the quality of your hair and stimulating new hair growth.
Through the synergic interaction of very effective compounds, Revita brings you a highly effective product designed to maintain scalp vitality and act on hair loss. By combining an antioxidant effect, anti-DHT properties, powerful hydrating molecules, hair growth stimulants and structural amino acids, Revita brings you the most effective hair growth stimulating shampoo available.
Apple Polyphenol (procyanidin B2 and C1) - phytochemical concentrate found in the skin of unripe apples that acts as potent antioxidant. It protects cells against free radicals, reactive atoms that contribute to tissue damage in the body. These chemical compounds are being studied extensively in labs around the world for their health effects in major diseases including treatment of hair growth. Studies showed that after sequential use, an increase of almost 80% of hair diameter and an increase in number of total hairs was shown, with no side effects.
In 2000, Japanese researchers presented their findings to the international community on the hair growth effects of apple polyphenols - specifically one known as procyanidin B-2. They identified two successful compounds- one from chardonnay grapes, and one extracted from unripe apples. The procyanidin B-2 fraction clearly outperformed the grape extract. "Procyanidin B-2 purified from apples," stated the research team, "shows the highest activity of more than 300% relative to controls."
In the same year, in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, nineteen men with male pattern baldness were studied with a daily topical application of a 1% procyanidin B-2 solution, extracted from apples. Ten other balding men served as controls, receiving a placebo solution. After 6 months, the study concluded:
• The increase in number of total hairs and terminal hairs in the procyanidin B-2 group subjects was significantly greater than controls.
• 78.9% of subjects showed an increased mean value of hair diameter.
• "Procyanidin B-2 therapy shows promise as a cure for male pattern baldness."
Following the revelations, an attempt was made to further understand the mechanism by which the remarkable hair growth effects occurred. The results were published in the prestigious British Journal of Dermatology: Procyanidin B-2, extracted from apples, promotes hair growth: a laboratory study, Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jan;146(1):41-51. In this study, the researchers concluded that procyanidin B-2 acts to diminish protein kinase C isozymes, which play an important role in the hair growth cycle. Procyanidin B-2 seems to promote hair growth by down regulating PKC in both the anagen (active growth phase) and telogen (resting phase) of the hair follicle. When the anagen phase is prolonged, and the telogen phase is shortened, increased hair growth results.
Two more clinical trials and a total of seven published studies have now confirmed the surprising hair growth-promoting effects of apple procyanidins. Here is a summary of those findings:
• Total Number of Hairs: Significantly Increased
• Total Number of Terminal Hairs: Significantly Greater
• Increase in Hair Diameter: 78.9% Positive • Ratio of Thicker (terminal) Hairs: Significantly Higher
• Hair Follicle Activation: Intensive
In the most exciting development yet, Japanese researchers released a new study late in 2005. Once again, procyanidin therapy was proven successful in regrowing hair in subjects with male pattern baldness. The new study, published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, confirmed the findings of earlier studies, showing clear improvement in the number of hairs and the density of hairs in the treated area. Building on the success of earlier trials, the study was extended to 12 months in the procyanidin group, and proved that longer term procyanidin therapy was even more successful than prior 4 and 6 month trials.
Cooper Peptides - Cooper Peptides have two main properties: (1) potent tissue protective anti-inflammatory agents that limit oxidative damage after tissue injury, and (2) tissue remodeling activation agents, that is, the processes for removal of damaged protein and scar tissue and their replacement by normal tissue. Studies at numerous universities and research institutes have found copper-peptides to improve hair transplant success, increase hair follicle size, stimulate hair growth and reduce hair loss.
Research scientists at the University of San Francisco Wound Center stumbled upon very interesting results. Their discovery was made while applying a synthetically formulated compound, Copper Peptide, to severe wound areas on several patients. During this process something unusual happened. Not only did the wounds heal about 30 percent faster, but a significant stimulation of the follicular cells occurred. As a side effect, these tripeptide complexes actually grew hair around the wound area.
The discovery was so startling that they then applied the same Copper Peptide complex to a female patient who had suffered roughly 90 percent alopecia (hair loss) for years. After about six months of use, she had recovered almost 100 percent of her hair. Dr. Loren Pickart, the leading authority in Copper Peptide technology, describes it as being like a protein injection to the scalp.
Tests were then conducted with chemotherapy patients and recent hair transplant recipients, all with great success in stimulating newer and stronger hair follicles.
Spin traps – are very special compounds that were originally utilized in measuring free radical activity because they react with free radicals both in vitro and in vivo, producing stable complexes. The most commonly used spin trap and the standard which measures new ones is PBN - alpha-phenyl- N-tert butyl nitrone. Hundreds of studies have been conducted over the last ten years that have tested PBN and other “spin traps” in numerous conditions. Later it was discovered that these spin traps had powerful free radical quenching abilities in living systems and could treat a variety of conditions. Spin traps could provide unique protection against free radical damage that complements and enhances the activities of the classical antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E.
Spin traps modulate NF kappa-B regulated cytokines and inducible nitric oxide synthases that are implicated in pro-inflammatory disease conditions. A method for ameliorating a cellular dysfunction of a tissue such as the treatment of hair loss and stimulation of hair growth comprises administering a nitroso or nitrone spin trap to the affected tissue. These agents inhibit the reaction of superoxide and nitric oxide to produce peroxinitrite. Scientists discovered that nitrone and nitroso spin traps have properties in the body for ameliorating cellular dysfunction in tissue attributed, in part, to high energy oxygen and hydroxyl free radicals, and enhancing recuperation of the tissue. Alpha-phenyl-N-tert butyl nitrone (PBN) can be administered, for example, as an anti-alopecia agent to stimulate hair growth.
Spin traps can be administered to the skin to be treated, such as the scalp. Depending on the type of hair loss or alopecia being treated and the conditions thereof, the stimulation of hair growth can usually be obtained by topical application, preferably repeated daily application. The utility of topically applied spin traps is not limited thereto, however, and the stimulation of hair growth can include an increased rate of growth, increased hair diameter, follicular neogenesis, and the like; inhibiting hair loss or alopecia from progressing.
Ketoconazole - Topical ketoconazole shows itself to have an anti-DHT binding effect in the scalp. Nevertheless, it is likely that ketoconazole exhibits other methods to its anti-hair-loss effect. One such theory of ketoconazole anti-alopecia effects may be on its activity upon the removal of sebum, a fatty substance that accumulates in the scalp around the hair follicles. In addition, ketoconazole is an antifungal medication and is significant for people combating hair loss since acting as an antifungal agent it reduces scalp irritation caused by fungal colonization or infection. Reduction of the inflammatory process that occurs in male pattern alopecia is crucial.
If we first examine the role of androgens, specifically dihydrotestosterone (DHT), we find that this hormone has been thought to slowly "choke" the growth of the hair follicle by inhibiting the function of an enzyme in the hair follicle called adenylate cyclase. Suffice it to say that when DHT concentrations remain high in the scalp, we see terminal (thick, coarse) scalp hair become reduced to vellus hair (fine, thin peach fuzz). On March 04, 2001, at the American Academy of Dermatology Meeting in Washington DC, scientists presented the findings of a study done on 1% ketoconazole shampoo which had good news for hair loss sufferers. In the study presented, one hundred male volunteers with mild to moderate dandruff and somewhat oily scalp, were using in a double-blind fashion either a 1% ketoconazole shampoo or a 1% zinc pyrithione shampoo, 2-3 times a week for 6 months.
Analysis of the different parameters set up in the study shows that the hair diameter gradually increased with ketoconazole use (+8.46%) over a 6 month period, whereas the diameter showed a trend to decrease with zinc pyrithione use over the same period (-2.28%). The sebum excretion rate was reduced with ketoconazole (-6.54%) while it increased with zinc pyrithione (+8.2%) over the same period of time. The number of hairs shed over a 24-hour period was reduced by 16.46% with ketoconazole and 6.02% with zinc pyrithione after 6 months. Finally, the percentage of hairs in the anagen phase increased by 6.4% and 8.4% respectively during the study.
The results are similar to a previous study done on 2% prescription strength Ketokonazole where it was shown that use of 2% ketoconazol yielded an increase in hair shaft diameter similar to what was achieved by the control group using 2% Minoxidil and a non-medicated shampoo.
Rooibos - Rooibos or Red Bush Tea - a hardy shrub indigenous to the North Western Cape of South Africa – is an exciting new botanical ingredient with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties well documented in medical literature. In alternative medicine Rooibos is often prescribed for nervous tension, allergies, stomach and digestive problems. Results from an independent study also showed a significant improvement in hair loss. Studies were initiated at an independent laboratory (Dermascan, France) to study the effect of the use of Rooibos in a hair lotion on a group of healthy persons who were suffering from the problem of hair loss. A 90 day trial was conducted comparing a hair lotion containing Rooibos with a placebo lotion.
After 90 days results showed a significant increase of the hair growth in the lotion containing Rooibos compared with the placebo. An increase in the hair growth was observed with 89% of the volunteers with no undesirable reactions (irritation or allergy). The participants were next asked to fill in a questionnaire. When the results were tallied, 67 percent rated their hair loss as zero or low, 78 percent saw a low to medium improvement, 45 percent saw a low to medium regrowth of hair, and 63 percent considered their hair had become smoother and shinier.
Conclusion: results show that most of the volunteers had a remarkable improvement in both the increase of hair growth and the decrease in hair loss.
MSM - Sulphur is present in protein-rich foods containing high levels of the amino acids methionine and cysteine. These foods include meat, fish, legumes, nuts, eggs, and vegetables, especially onions. However, sulphur has recently become a popular nutritional supplement and topical treatment thanks to the discovery of methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM.
The use of MSM as a nutritional supplement and topical application is relatively recent. An American chemist named Robert Herschler, began studying MSM in 1955. However, another man, Dr. Stanley Jacob with Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, is considered by many to be the father of MSM. Dr. Jacob found that simple marine life like algae and plankton convert inorganic sulphur to organic sulphur compounds. These compounds are known as dimethylsulfonium salts. These salts are transformed into dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which is released into the atmosphere and is converted by ultraviolet light into dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). When DMSO oxidizes, it turns into MSM and is absorbed by plants that become food for animals and humans. MSM is a white, crystalline powder that is odorless and nearly tasteless. When taken as a dietary supplement, MSM proved to have the same health benefits as DMSO without side-effects such as bad breath, itchy skin, nasal congestion, and shortness of breath. Why does MSM help with the development of stronger hair? Various scientific studies have proven that MSM contributes a definite normalizing effect on body functions. The sulfur normally provided to the body by MSM is required for healthy collagen and keratin which are essential for healthy hair, skin and nails. MSM also has proven antioxidant benefits which can disrupt or alter damaging chain reactions of lipid peroxidation in the cell membranes.
MSM has been widely used as a dietary supplement without any reports of allergy or intolerance related to its use. Supplements of MSM are comfortably assimilated without side effects. There are no known contraindications.
Caffeine 4% - Active caffeine ingredient helps to regulate the effects of testosterone levels. Male pattern baldness is known to occur in individuals with sensitivity to testosterone, causing damage to hair follicles that eventually leads to baldness. Caffeine is a xanthine alkaloid compound that acts as a stimulant in humans. Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, having the effect of warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness.
The independent study at the University of Jena used hair samples from the scalps of young men entering into the first stages of hormone-related hair loss. The study relied on a hair organ culture that used four different types of testing samples. The first was a nutrient-based sample, the second a testosterone only sample, the third was a caffeine only sample and the fourth a mixture of caffeine and testosterone.
According to the research, the results showed that the samples containing the caffeine nutrient helped to stave off hair loss and encouraged new hair growth, while the sample that relied on testosterone only led to increased hair loss. But perhaps the most impressive was the testosterone and caffeine sample, which helped to prevent further hair loss.
The results showed that using the caffeine treatment average growth was increased by around 46 per cent and the life cycle of the hair was extended by 37 per cent, when compared to the control study.
Carnitine Tartrate - L-Carnitine, a vitamin-like nutrient, occurs naturally in the human body and is essential for turning fat into energy. Active energy metabolism is an essential prerequisite for the growth of strong and healthy hair. In biological systems ATP acts as the universal energy currency. One of the most potent bio-actives that significantly increases cellular ATP content is carnitine tartrate.
Statistical evaluation demonstrated a significant increase in ATP equivalents in human hair roots treated with carnitine tartrate, showing that carnitine tartrate is an ideal ingredient for hair care formulations, providing energy for the optimal environment to produce strong and healthy hair. Throughout the test period ATP content within plucked hair follicles was determined twice daily using a commercially available test kit. Statistical evaluation of baseline adjusted values demonstrated a significant increase in ATP equivalents in human hair roots treated with carnitine tartrate. These effects were absent in the placebo group, thus underlining the stimulating activity of carnitine tartrate.
The outstanding bio-activity of carnitine tartrate was furthermore demonstrated in a second study, assessing the effects after a single application of a shampoo formulation supplemented with carnitine tartrate. Again, ATP levels in plucked human hair follicles were significantly increased.
Amino Acids: Ornitine, Taurine, Cysteine - Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, from which hair is created. They are assembled in the correct sequence by stem cells to form keratin, a complex and immensely strong hair protein. Vital amino acids have to be replaced consistently, as damage is accumulated over time. We can replace a combination of these lost amino acids directly into the hair, where they are shown to provide significant tensile benefits to the hair shaft.
Hair is composed primarily of proteins (88%). These proteins are of a hard fibrous type known as keratin. Keratin protein is comprised of what we call "polypeptide chains.” The word, polypeptide, comes from the Greek word "poly" meaning many and "peptos" meaning digested or broken down. In essence, if we break down protein, we have individual amino acids.
Many (poly) amino acids joined together form a "polypeptide chain". Two amino acids are joined together by a "peptide bond", and the correct number of amino acids placed in their correct order will form a specific protein; i.e. keratin, insulin, collagen and so on. The "alpha helix" is the descriptive term given to the polypeptide chain that forms the keratin protein found in human hair. Its structure is a coiled coil. The amino acids link together to form the coil and there are approximately 3.6 amino acids per turn of the helix (coil). Each amino acid is connected together by a "peptide bond". The peptide bond is located between the carbon atom of one amino acid extending to bond with the nitrogen atom of the next amino acid. In many individuals the extremities, including the top of the head, are the most difficult places to maintain blood flow. Follicles which are constantly deprived of blood, and therefore nutrients, cannot produce hair properly. Lack of proper nutrients, amino acids, minerals and vitamins can certainly hamper hair growth.
L-Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid synthesized by the body from L-Ornithine. Arginine + Ornithine support protein synthesis because they are involved in the transport and storage of nitrogen. The usage of taurine corrects the "rigidification" of the connective sheath that surrounds the Pilosebaceous unit and hair follicles, specifically those affected by pattern hair loss. This is a novel and previously undisclosed angle on hair loss treatment that has yet to be touched upon in any of the medical literature or prior publications.
The amino acid, l-cysteine speeds up hair growth and increases hair shaft diameter resulting in fuller hair. L-cysteine has been reported to facilitate longer hair growth, beyond what is genetically programmed. L-cysteine also provides potent antioxidant protection to the hair follicle. Users of topical n-acetyl-cysteine have reported hair regrowth.
Emu Oil - The emu, dromaius nova hollandiae, is a flightless bird part of a group called ratites which also includes the ostrich and the kiwi. Modern Australians learned early on from the Aborigines the many valuable qualities in the emu and its oil. The earliest research studies in emu oil come from Australia, and Australia continues to export emu oil to this day.
In the United States today there is a growing network of research labs interested in emus and their incredible oil. Emu oil is rendered from a thick pad of fat on the back of the bird that was apparently provided by nature to protect the animal from the extreme temperatures in its Australian homeland. Emu oil is deep penetrating and super hydrating to the skin - an all-natural tissue nutrient. Michael Hollick, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine conducted a study involving emu oil and hair growth. His study found that there was a 20% increase in growth activity of skin that received emu oil compared to skin that received corn oil. Looking at the hair follicles Dr. Hollick realized they were much more robust, the skin thickness was remarkably increased suggesting that emu oil stimulated skin growth and hair growth. Additionally, the study showed that over 80% of hair follicles that had been "asleep" were woken up, and began growing.
Emu oil is anti-inflammatory, which may be in part why it stimulates hair growth. Emu Oil has also been shown to be a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor in target tissues when topically applied, which likely contributes significantly to its hair growth properties. A third important property of emu oil is that it is bacteriostatic.
Emu Oil contains a multitude of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) which helps to "feed" the skin. Consumers who suffer from natural forms of baldness have reported hair re-growth. Since Alopecia Areata only suppresses the hair follicle (vs. killing the hair follicle), emu oil may have an effect to assist with hair regrowth.
Biotin – Biotin is a member of the B-vitamin family and a major component in the natural hair manufacturing process -- it is essential to not only grow new hair, but it also plays a major role in the overall health of skin and nails. The beneficial effects of biotin on hair may be linked to its ability to improve the metabolism of scalp oils. Biotin when absorbed by the scalp may promote hair growth and it is able to penetrate the hair shaft making it expand which actually thickens the hair cuticle.
Biotin is used in cell growth, the production of fatty acids, metabolism of fats and amino acids. It plays a role in the Krebs Cycle, which is the process in which energy is released from food. Biotin is so important to hair health, that many dermatologists prescribe biotin supplements to their patients as part of their medical treatment for hair loss.
After applying Revita with a gentle massage, you should leave it on the scalp from 1 – 2 minutes before rinsing. Then repeat and leave on the scalp for 3 – 5 minutes. If desired, follow with a high quality conditioner. For optimal results, Revita should be used at least 5 times per week.
This formulation is contraindicated in individuals with a history of sensitivity reactions to any of its components. It should be discontinued if hypersensitivity to any of its ingredients is noted.
Q. Is Revita safe ?
A. Revita primarily contains compounds that are not only safe in topical use, but actually dramatically enhance overall skin health. The other active ingredients such as Ketoconazole have been tested in clinical studies and have been shown safe.
Q: Can I use hair sprays, mousses, gels, etc.?
A: Hair spray, gel, and other styling aids are not recommended since they tend to clog the hair shaft. However, you can use them while using Revita.
Q: Can I have my hair colored or permed while using Revita ?
A: While there is no evidence that coloring or perming hair can lead to or even worsen hair loss, it is generally not recommended for people with hair loss. If you are experiencing hair loss then perming and coloring hair is not recommended. However, this will not interfere with Revita.
Q: What is SLS/SLES free ?
A: SLS means Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and SLES means Sodium Laureth Sulfate, commonly used low cost detergents in shampoos and cleansers. They are linked to skin irritation, skin drying and hair loss due to follicle attack. Revita is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate free, and that means that Revita does not irritate you scalp and preserves your hair follicale health.
Q: Can I blow dry my hair after using Revita ?
A: Extreme heat damages the proteins in the hairs making them fragile. Nevertheless, if you need or want to blow dry your hair, you can do it after using Revita.
Q: Who is a candidate for Revita ?
A: Ideal candidate is someone with little hair loss or at the beginning stages of hair loss, since it is much easier to prevent hair loss then to grow new hair. Someone who is concerned with hair loss prevention should start using Revita immediately.
Q: What type of results should I expect with Revita ?
A: When deciding to use Revita, it is important to have realistic expectations. Depending of severity and duration of your hair loss, it could take some time to see hair growth. In fact, during the first 2 weeks of treatment you may actually notice increased hair loss as old hairs are being pushed out and the hair follicles start growing new hair. Do not become alarmed with this and just stick to the treatment.
Q. Does Revita have any systemic side effects ?
A. No, when used as directed, Revita active ingredients have a long history of use both orally and topically.
Q. Does Revita work for women?
A. Yes. In most cases, the cause of hair loss in women is surprisingly similar to men. Fortunately for women, estrogen helps to protect the hair follicle from the destructive effects of DHT. However, many women develop thinning hair and loss due to fluctuation of estrogen levels and/or over production of DHT. Revita can help protect the hair follicle from DHT resulting in a thicker, fuller and healthier hair.
Q. I am using other topical treatments. Can I use Revita at the same time ?
A. Yes. Revita has no side effects and does not cross react with other topical treatments. You can safely opt to use Revita with other products, and we strongly recommend the association with Spectral.DNC for more severe hair loss or Spectral.RS for thinning hair.
Q. Do I need to use Revita for a long time ?
A. Once you have reached the desired results, you should continue to use Revita as your regular shampoo to maintain the revitalized hairs and a healthy scalp.
Q: Is stress a factor in hair loss?
A: When the body is under significant physical and emotional stress it is possible that the immune system will produce anti-bodies that attack hair follicles, and this results in bald patches or diffuse loss. Stress-induced loss will respond very well to Revita and you should keep using Revita as your regular daily shampoo to keep your scalp healthy.