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CuraMed Acute Pain Relief: New Clinically Proven Technology to Ease Your Pain
July 26, 2022 02:05 PM
Do you sometimes experience sudden, unexpected pain? If so, you're not alone. Acute pain can be incredibly frustrating and debilitating. That's why new CuraMed Acute Pain Relief is here: it delivers the relief you're looking for from clinically studied botanical ingredients you can trust.*†
Containing a blend of BCM-95® Curcumin, BOS-10® Boswellia, Black Sesame Seed Oil, to ease pain and inflammation.
How can CuraMed Acute Pain Relief help ease the pain you're experiencing?
CuraMed Acute Pain Relief is a non-addictive, safe, and natural formula that can help ease the pain you're experiencing. The ingredients in CuraMed have been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation and pain. Curcumin, the active ingredient in CuraMed, has been shown to be as effective as ibuprofen in reducing inflammation. Boswellia and ginger are also included in the formula, and both of these ingredients have been shown to be effective in reducing pain. CuraMed is easy to take and can be taken up to four times daily. The recommended dosage is two Softgels per day.
What are the ingredients in this product, and how do they work together to provide relief from pain and inflammation?
BCM-95® Curcumin is a natural compound that has been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation and pain. Boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense, has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including arthritis and joint pain. Black sesame seed oil is a triglyceride that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. These three ingredients work together to provide relief from pain and inflammation. Curcumin inhibits the production of cytokines, which are inflammatory compounds that can damage cells and tissues. Boswellia prevents the breakdown of cartilage, and black sesame seed oil inhibits the activity of the COX-2 enzyme that contribute to inflammation. Together, these ingredients provide natural relief from pain and inflammation.
How should you take CuraMed Acute Pain Relief for best results?
For best results, CuraMed Acute Pain Relief should be taken 2 softgels daily. In severe cases, the recommended dosage is 4 to 6 softgels throughout the day.
If you're looking for a safe, non-addictive way to ease your acute pain, CuraMed Acute Pain Relief may be the solution you're looking for. The product contains clinically studied ingredients that have been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation and pain. Curcumin, boswellia, and black sesame seed oil are the key ingredients in this formula, and they work together to provide relief from pain and inflammation. CuraMed is easy to take and can be taken up to four times daily. The recommended dosage is two Softgels per day. What's stopping you from living pain free?
6 Unexpected Health Benefits of Activated Charcoal
August 16, 2017 04:14 PM
While most are not aware of the health benefits found in activated charcoal, adherents of the ancient Indian medicinal system of Ayurveda understand the true value of this underrated ingredient. Activated charcoal is excellent at soothing the stomach, as it aids digestive health and can alleviate symptoms of bloating. Activated charcoal also provides benefits to the skin as well. Thanks to its powerful cleansing properties, it can clear up even the most stubborn of breakouts. Adherents of Ayurveda also swear by activated charcoal’s superior teeth whitening potential compared to that of traditional fluoride toothpaste. This versatile ingredient also helps to lower cholesterol, can cure a hangover, and act as a natural filter for your water.
"In other words, activated charcoal can help draw out toxins from your food, water, and body."
Read more: https://www.brit.co/unexpected-health-benefits-of-activated-charcoal/
Animal Study Finds Monounsaturated Fats in Olive Oil May Extend Life
June 10, 2017 12:14 PM
A recent genetic study on metabolic changes has discovered an unexpected finding: accumulation of monounsaturated fats may lengthen one's lifespan. Though the study was conducted among roundworms rather than humans, it is interesting to note since researchers previously thought that decreased caloric intake would increase longevity. Rather, it appears that this particular build-up of fat and calories can be beneficial. The researchers discovered this by blocking certain DNA-modifying proteins to increase lifespan among worms, and then noted that these worms displayed higher levels of monounsaturated fatty acids.
"Prior research shows the type of fat consumed has a much greater influence on health than the quantity, and the recent experiment builds upon what is known on the topic."
Read more: https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-news/animal-study-finds-monounsaturated-fats-olive-oil-may-extend-life/56292
Cancer-killing Dandelion Tea Receives $157K Research Grant
May 18, 2017 08:44 AM
Chronic monocytic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood, has been shown to respond to respond to dandelion root extract in clinical studies. Siyaram Pandey, a biochemist at the University of Windsor, began studying its effects after an oncologist pointed out to him that patients of hers who drank dandelion root tea, were getting better. He developed a formula concentration the roots into a potent tea that has shown to treat cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells alone. His team has received a substantial research grant to continue their research.
"After other medical treatments for his leukemia failed he tried the tea. Four months later, he returned to the clinic in remission and has been cancer-free for three years."
Read more: http://www.healthnutnews.com/cancer-killing-dandelion-tea-receives-157k-research-grant/
Gut bacteria may hold key to treating autoimmune disease
December 29, 2016 07:59 AM
Inflammation and autoimmunity are caused by inappropriate activity of the body's own regulatory T immune cells. A mutation in a gene called Foxp3 causes a fatal disease, IPEX syndrome, where these cells run amok. But new research shows an unexpected link to the gut: Foxp3 mutant mice end up missing a particular type of bacteria from their intestines. By replacing the missing bacterial species in the gut microbiome, many of the T cell-mediated inflammatory symptoms could be improved.
"The study, published online in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that replacing the missing gut bacteria."
4 Main Health Benefits Of Grapefruit
Grapefruits are fruits loved by many. Most people prefer eating this fruit mainly because they're rich in vitamin C. Besides that, grateful also has a number of health benefits that you should probably know about. This fruit is found in 3 different pulps; white, red or pink pulps. But nevertheless, they still offer similar benefits. I'm going to show you some of the most unexpected health benefits of grapefruits that you probably need to be aware of.
Benefits of Grapefruit
Grapefruit is a good remedy for those who want to shed some weight. A high metabolism is good because it will help you burn down excessive fat in your body even when you're resting. Eating grapefruit before meal can tremendously help you lose some weight. This is because grapefruits have a high amount of enzymes and less sodium which helps to burn excessive fat easily.
Reduces the risk of having kidney stones
According to reports, grapefruits reduce the risk of having kidney stones. Naringenin is a natural compound that regulates protein a called PKD2 which is responsible for the prevention of kidney cysts. The antioxidant effects will also prevent the kidneys from swelling which is mainly caused by fluid retention.
Strengthen the immune system
Typically, any fruit that is rich in vitamin C will support and strengthen the immune system. This vitamin also works in conjunction with other micronutrients in order to provide the body with good nourishment. Having high levels of the vitamin will help reduce cold symptoms. This will make it easier to control allergies since vitamin C reduces histamine levels.
Protects against cancer
Grapefruits have also been linked to reducing the chances of getting certain cancers. Recent studies have discovered that the fruit can help repair/restore damaged DNA found in prostate cancer cells. The natural compound called naringenin stimulates repair of DNA in the cancer cells and will prevent your body from cancer. Grapefruits have been linked to reducing the risk of cancer like breast cancer, cancer of the stomach, colon, esophagus as well as bladder.
10 health concerns you can detect through your eyes
November 26, 2016 06:59 AM
While I was driving the car in the city where traffic was bad, I found the brake override warning lamp illuminated on the combination meter sometimes. And then, when I accelerated the car while the light was illuminated, unexpectedly the engine did not have power.
"When you meet someone new, the first thing you notice about them is probably their eyes—the shape, the color and sometimes their health"
What is Xylitol?
February 09, 2014 08:50 AM
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a 5-carbon Sugar alcoholic recognized even more particularly like a polyalcohol (polyol) and it has already been getting used because the 60's. You can find this within nourishments with regard to unique nutritional reasons as well as a number of without having Sugar goodies, candy, mints as well as biting down hard gums.
Calcium, Magnesium And Vitamin D
June 24, 2009 12:14 PM
In February 2006, the findings of an $18 million double-blind placebo-controlled study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study was conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and was on the protective effect of calcium and vitamin D. The New York Times reported on this study, declaring that the study found that there were no clear benefits to calcium pills. In this article, the fact that the women who stuck to their supplementation regime experienced 29% reduction in hip fractures was dismissed. This result is rarely achieved, even with use of the strongest pharmaceuticals.
This study was designed to determine whether postmenopausal women who were given calcium and vitamin D would have a lower risk of hip fracture. The intervention group was given 1,000 mg each day of calcium carbonate, along with 400 IU of vitamin D. Although these women portrayed a greater preservation of hipbone density, the decrease in risk of fracture of 12% was not significant as a whole. The fact that many of the women who were included in the study were under sixty, and therefore, not typically at risk for fractures, causes these results to be unsurprising.
The results that were found were also skewed as a result of the fact that compliance with the prescribed daily intake was only 59% by the end of the study. 41% of the study participants had fully stopped taking the prescribed daily dosage of calcium and vitamin D, with 24% having discontinued the supplementation altogether. With such an unexpectedly low compliance rate, along with the fact that the projected hip fracture rate was over twice what was actually observed, the power of the study was reduce to only 48%. As a result, the trial had less chance than a simple flip of a coin to find anything but the largest of differences in a risk for fracture.
Despite these shortcomings, the researchers looked at the subgroups, and found different pictures emerging. Looking only at the women who mostly stuck to their prescribed regime, researchers found that a reduction in fractures of 29% was experienced. Additionally, those women over sixty experienced a reduction in the risk of fracture of 21%. These results are actually remarkable, especially after considering the many problems which clouded the accuracy of the data. Unfortunately, reporters did not look at these findings, causing a slanted account of the study to be published. Because of this, the media failed to acknowledge what were actually significant findings.
Additionally, the design of the WHI study disregarded the fact that a reduction of fracture risk is actually dependent on several factors other than calcium. Studies have actually shown that magnesium is also of equal important in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis, as a deficiency plays a central role in the development of the disease. Postmenopausal women and those women with osteoporosis usually have low bone-magnesium content, exhibiting other indicators of magnesium deficiency that are not seen in non-osteoporotic women. Also, calcium competes for absorption with magnesium, meaning that postmenopausal women who increase calcium intake without also increasing magnesium intake can impair their absorption of magnesium. With this knowledge, the failure of the researchers to include magnesium supplementation along with calcium and vitamin D caused the potential for a study that could cause harm on the patients. With the results as they are how can we trust studies that are conducted when the patients who participate do not follow the rules? For those who want to prevent osteoporosis, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D when taken together can help slow and prevent the onset of brittle bones.
Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D come in capsule, tablet, and liquid softgel forms at your local or internet health food store. Always look for a name brand calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D supplement to ensure quality and purity of the product you purchase.
September 01, 2008 01:04 PM
Garlic is a member of the lily family, related to onions and chives, and offers many health benefits other than deterring vampires. There is now ample scientific evidence and proof of its beneficial effect on both a healthy immune system and the circulatory system.
The active ingredients in garlic are thiosulfinates, of which the predominant one is allicin, sulfoxides such as alliin and dithiins, of which ajoene is the most widely researched. These compounds are not only responsible for the pungent odor of garlic, but also for its benefits to your health. Among the other components of garlic are selenium, manganese and vitamins B6 and C.
Before considering the other effects of garlic on your health, we shall first consider how it benefits the immune system. The immune system is an essential part of human biology, and protects your body from invasion by pathogenic organisms. Without the immune system your body would rapidly be overcome by bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and other foreign bodies, and your body would rapidly fail to function.
The immune system consists of several components that can act in concert to protect you from these foreign invaders. It is too large a subject to be discusses in this article, although its major components are the thymus, the spleen, the lymphatic system, bone marrow, antibodies, and white blood cells of various types. Without it your body would rapidly be broken down to nothing, and would revert to a skeleton in a few weeks.
It is your immune system that causes inflammation, fevers, boils and pus. These are all examples of the immune system at work to protect your body, and even a fever is the immune system raising your body temperature to one that is unfavorable to invaders. Arthritis and hay fever are other examples of how your immune system reacts to invaders, in one case mistaking damaged joint tissue as being foreign and responding by causing inflammation to protect the joint, and in the other a reaction to invading bodies such as pollen.
So what does garlic do to help your immune system? Let's first have a look at the inflammatory reaction of the immune system, a prime example of which is rheumatoid arthritis. The inflammation is caused by compounds known as prostaglandins and thromboxanes, the biosynthesis in your body of which requires the enzymes lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase (LOX and COX). If these enzymes can be inhibited, then the inflammatory response can be modulated, and LOX and COX inhibition is one of the studies currently being carried out into the treatment of some forms of cancers.
However, where garlic comes in here is that two effective non-reversible inhibitors of LOX and COX are the chemicals Di(1-propenyl) sulfide and ajoene, and both of these are components of garlic. Garlic can therefore be used, not to stop the inflammatory response altogether since it is an essential part of the immune system for certain infections, but to modulate it and protect you from the more severe effects of conditions such as arthritis - both osteo and rheumatoid - and asthma, which is also an immune response.
Allicin has been shown to work with vitamin C to kill certain types of bacteria and viruses, and can help the immune system to protect you from colds and flu, Candida and some gastroenteric viruses. It can also be effective against some of the more powerful pathogens such as tuberculosis. It should be stressed that garlic will not cure these conditions, but help the immune system to deal with them. In fact with respect to the common cold, a study at Munich University has shown that garlic significantly reduces the activity of kappa-B, which is a nuclear transcription factor that mediates the inflammatory response. In other words, the cold symptoms are greatly reduced.
This is significant, since increased kappa-B levels can be triggered off by any pathogen that causes an inflammatory response by the immune system (e.g. infection, allergens, physical trauma). The study showed that unfertilized garlic provided a reduction of 25% in kappa-B activity, while garlic fertilized with sulfur reduced it by 41%.
There have been other studies carried out that demonstrated that Helicobacter pylori, the organism responsible for gastritis and peptic ulcers, was less active in those that took a regular amount of garlic in their diet. This was shown by measuring the antibody concentration, and while H.pylori was found in both sets (with and without garlic in the diet), the antibody count in the garlic-eating set was much lower indicating a significantly lower population of the bacterium.
Another unexpected result was that a group taking both cooked and uncooked garlic had a lower antibody count than those taking either cooked or uncooked. This appears to indicate that cooking changes the chemical nature of garlic, so that both forms work together to provide a more potent effect that cooked and uncooked separately.
What has also been established is that odorless garlic has less of an effect on the immune system that natural garlic, so while the odorless type is more socially acceptable, it is not so good at supporting your immune system. The allicin levels in odorless garlic are very much lower than in the natural bulb.
Garlic has also been found to be able to help with certain types of cancer. Two servings weekly have been found effective in protecting from colon cancer. Allicin has been found to protect colon cells from the toxic effect of various chemicals, and also reduce the growth rate of any cancerous cells that develop. People in Southern Europe consuming large quantities of garlic have been shown to be 39% less liable to contract cancer of the mouth and pharynx, and 57% less liable to contract cancer of the esophagus. It also had an effect on other cancers, including breast and ovarian cancer. However, the effect of onions on such cancers is even greater.
Most people are aware of the cardiovascular benefits of garlic, and it can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels and serum triglyceride levels, thus protecting against the harmful condition of atherosclerosis and also of diabetic heart disease. Reduced atherosclerosis means a reduced chance of heart attacks or strokes. It also appears to possess antioxidant properties.
There is no doubt that garlic helps to promote a healthy immune system, although the odorless form appear to be less effective in this respect as natural garlic, and there is evidence that a diet containing uncooked and cooked garlic can be more effective than either of these alone.
April 09, 2007 05:02 PM
EpiCor® is a unique and novel dietary supplement used for support of immune health, with a fascinating history of discovery. In 1943, a company in
Interestingly, when the company became self-insured, they became aware of unusually low rates of illness in employees that worked in the manufacturing plant for this animal product. This led to very low increases in their insurance premiums over the years compared to other companies, saving them quite a lot of money. Hence they began to investigate what might be the cause of the “healthfulness” of the employees at the fermentation plant. This investigation and subsequent research studies led to the formation of a new company called Embria Health Sciences, which now produces EpiCor® as a supplement for humans to support immune system health.1 Doctor’s Best® is proud to now offer the benefits of EpiCor® to its customers.
Beneficial Support of the Immune System and Activation of Natural Killer (NK) Cells in vitro*
A comparison study was performed on blood from 10 fermentation plant workers compared to that from 10 age and gender matched controls. The fermentation plant workers had several immune cell parameters that appeared superior to the control group. These included decreased levels of CD8 cells resulting in significantly increased CD4 to CD8 ratios, significantly improved cytotoxic natural killer (NK) cell activity even though total NK cells were decreased in number, higher killing efficiency of NK cells, significantly increased levels of secretory IgA, increased numbers of EpiCor™ specific antibodies, higher levels of red blood cell intracellular glutathione, and significantly lower levels of immune complexes. These results represent benefits on various cellular players of both the specific and innate parts of the immune system.1,3,4
NK cells are one of the first lines of defense used by the immune system. An in vitro study performed on human cells showed that NK cells were activated after incubation with EpiCor®, as evaluated by expression of the CD69 activation marker. The CD25 marker (IL-2 receptor) was also induced in the NK cells, although to a lesser degree.1,2 B cell activation was also noted through increased expression of CD80 and CD86 markers.2 Immediate increases in calcium levels were evident in peripheral blood mononuclear cells after exposure to EpiCor®, suggesting increased activation through calcium regulation.2
High Metabolite Immunogen*: Nutrient Make-up
Production of EpiCor® utilizes the common and harmless bakers or brewers yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae in a patented process called MetaGen4™, a multi-stage fermentation and drying process. It differs from other yeast products in that it contains both the yeast itself as well as the metabolites or “nutrilites” formed by the fermentation process, which are present in the media.1 Together the media containing the metabolites and the yeast are dried to form EpiCor®. Analysis of EpiCor® reveals that it contains a mixture of natural polyphenols, phytosterols, beta-glucans, mannan oligosaccharides, fiber, trace amounts of B vitamins and minerals, as well as a host of other nutritional compounds.1,2
Beneficial Antioxidant Activity*
EpiCor® was tested for antioxidant activity in an in vitro assay called the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity assay (ORAC). In this assay, EpiCor® was shown to have a total ORAC antioxidant level of 610 micromol TE (tocopherol (vitamin E) equivalents) units (ORAC units) per gram dry weight, which soared above other high antioxidant level foods such as cranberries (93 ORAC units per gram dry weight) and blueberries (62 ORAC units per gram dry weight).1,3,5
In another study, freshly isolated human neutrophils were treated with EpiCor® followed by the free radical generator hydrogen peroxide. Cells were treated with a dye that fluoresces when attacked by free radicals. Those cells treated with EpiCor® showed decreased fluorescence intensity compared to control cells not treated with EpiCor®, verifying antioxidant activity in vitro.2
Numerous safety tests have been conducted on EpiCor®, revealing an extremely safe profile. Animal studies performed by a leading toxicology laboratory showed no indication of any toxic effects of EpiCor®. An acute oral toxicity study on 20 rats showed that the product was safe when given to rats at a single oral dose of 2000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (equivalent to a human ingesting 280 capsules at once). After 2 weeks the rats showed no clinical symptoms, no deaths, no abnormalities in body weight, and no gross pathological changes. The same safety results were found in a subchronic toxicity study where rats were given up to 1500 milligrams daily for 90 days (equivalent to a human ingesting up to 210 capsules daily for 1.5 years). Again, absolutely no signs or symptoms of toxicity were noted in these animals.1,3
In addition, a standard bacterial reverse mutagenicity test (AMES test) as well as a mammalian cell mutation assay using mouse lymphoma cells revealed no evidence of any increase in mutation rates after exposure to EpiCor®. EpiCor® also showed no evidence of mitogenicity (inducing increased cell division) in a human lymphocyte proliferation assay. This suggests that EpiCor® does not cause over-reactivity of cells1,3.
The effect of EpiCor® on specific liver enzymes CYP1A2 and CYP3A4 (enzymes involved in metabolizing certain drugs and other compounds) was assessed. Immortalized hepatocytes (liver cells) were treated with various concentrations of EpiCor® and compared to both positive and negative controls. EpiCor® did not increase the expression or activity of the liver enzymes, suggesting that it may not affect the metabolism of other substances or medications metabolized by these enzymes if they are taken simultaneously. It also did not appear to be toxic to the cells as measured by lactate dehydrogenase assays and microscopic analysis.1
Lastly, EpiCor® was tested for safety in humans in an open label study on 15 adult men and women given a single 500 milligram dose for 30 days. On various days throughout the study vital signs were monitored, and blood and urine samples were analyzed. No clinically relevant abnormal effects on the participants were found1.
EpiCor® also currently has received self-affirmed Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) status by an expert panel that included eminent toxicologists1.
EpiCor® is a novel compound with an incredibly unique composition that has been shown to enhance immune system function.*
Suggested Adult Use: Take one capsule daily with or without food.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
1. Embria Health Sciences
2. Hart et al. A new Saccharomyces cerevisiae based product has anti-inflammatory effects while specifically activating human NK and B lymphocyte subsets. Unpublished study, personal communication.
3. Schauss AG, Jensen G, Vojdani A, Financsek I. After decades of ingestion by farm animals, the discovery of a yeast fermentate with unexpected significant immune modulatory activity when consumed by humans. [abstract] Journal of the
4. Schauss AG, Vodjani A. Discovery of an edible fermentation product with unusual immune enhancing properties in humans. [abstract] FASEB J, 2006; 20(4):A143.
5. Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhardt SE, Prior RL. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the
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.
The Important Role of Nutritional Magnesium & Calcium Balance in Humans Living with Stress
August 23, 2006 03:14 PM
Part I. The Stress Response
The stress reaction is a host of responses necessary for any animal to live in the world. Commonly called the fight-or-flight reation, we as humans often experience it in rapid heartbeat and increased breathing rate. It comes when we exercise more vigorously than usual, or when we are suddenly and unexpectedly frightened.
We are all different. We show a range in how strongly we experience the stress response. Most of us are usually calm and experience the stress response when an unexpected noise frightens us to alertness, or we run to first base as fast as we can in a benefit baseball game that is not on our usual playtime schedule. We breathe harder for a while and notice our hearts beating faster and harder then usual, but after a while these responses all calm down, and we are again in our usual state—out or the stress response. Others of us are very low key, and it takes a lot to disturb our physiological calm. Still others of us are very sensitive to triggers of the stress response and go into it “at the drop of a hat” and to a greater degree than do calmer people. For some, parts of the stress response are almost always engaged—never really calming down all the way—giving one a hyper-vigilant or anxious demeanor.
When a stress trigger occurs, the body puts out stress hormones, magnesium and calcium, among other things, into the bloodstream. At the same time, nerve cells begin to “fire,” telling heart and muscles to “speed up. NOW!!!” These blood, nerve and organ changes make possible the instantaneous and collective rise in the body’s heart rate, blood pressure, and other necessities for the fight-or-flight reaction.
Much research has been done on the stress response, especially on the effects of stress hormones, such as adrenaline (also called epinephrine) on body, organ and cell. You can get an idea of how widespread the stress response is-affecting every aspect of physiology—by noting some of the reactions to adrenaline, one of the major stress hormones. See Table 1.
Much study as the cellular, biochemical and physiological levels has shown that the stress response vitally involves the influx of calcium into cells, resulting in a drastic change in the cells’ internal magnesium-to-calcium ratio (Mg:Ca).
In simple solutions, such as salt water, all ions are evenly dispersed. Not so in living cells. Ions are carefully and meticulously separated in living cells, and this ion “packaging” is vital to life processes and health. Calcium ions, for the most part, are kept outside cells while magnesium ions are kept mainly inside cells. The stress response changes this. During stress response, calcium ions rush inside the cell, and this alters the internal Mg:Ca ratio. This change in ratio exhibits wide effects because, while magnesium and calcium are very similar in their chemistry, biologically these two elements function and react very differently. Magnesium and calcium are two sides of a physiological coin: they are antagonistic to one another yet comes as a team. For example:
Scientific study shows more and more that the underlying cellular change enabling the stress response is a low Mg:Ca ratio caused by a large and sudden influx of calcium into cells. This stress response subsides when the cell’s magnesium returns to its dominant presence inside cells, moving extra calcium back outside cells to its “normal” Mg:Ca ratio. This underlying principle is present in studies of nerve cell-stress hormone response, organs such as hearts, the high blood pressure response to stress, and the blood-clotting reaction during stress, among many others. See Table 2.
In the normal healthy state, the stress response occurs when necessary, and subsides when the crisis or trigger is over. Since magnesium and calcium—two essential nutrients that must be obtained by the body from its dietary environment—are so essential to this important response, it is not surprising that nutritional magnesium and calcium status can affect the response.
Let’s see how.
In the normal unstressed state, cellular Mg:Ca ratio is high. If this cannot be maintained due to lack of adequate body magnesium or an overwhelming amount of body calcium, the ratio may not be able to maintain or return itself to its healthy nonstressed ratio. In such a case, the stress response, in the absence of an appropriate trigger, can occur. This can be seen when nutritional magnesium deficits cause high blood pressure or increase blood stickiness (platelet aggregation). Additionally, since a low Mg:Ca ratio can increase adrenaline secretion as well as cells’ response to adrenaline, a too low magnesium state can keep the stress response from subsiding in a timely way. Even worse, when body magnesium becomes drastically low, this becomes a stress trigger in itself, alarming the body into further stress response with out enough magnesium to back it up, resulting in a low magnesium-high stress crisis that can end in sudden death.
In the industrialized world, we live in a state of chronic, on-going stress. This environmental reality increases our daily need for magnesium in order to maintain a healthy stress response that can calm when not necessary.
Part II. Heart Disease Is Often a Magnesium Deficiency
Clearly, an adequate amount of nutritional magnesium—in proper balance with adequate nutritional calcium—is key to a healthy stress response. And yet today we have diets dangerously low in magnesium. Add the recent additions of nutritional calcium via supplements and food fortifications meant to stave off osteoporosis, and many of us are getting inadequate magnesium plus too much calcium. This results in a large occurrence of heart disease.
Not all, but much of the heart disease in the industrialized world can be explained by the low magnesium state of these societies. People with heart disease—for the most part—are people who are in a state of magnesium that is borderline or deficient. Many studies on heart disease patients exist due to medicine’s effort to understand and treat this widespread malady. Although not intended as such, this body of research shows us what stress can do to a person in a magnesium deficient state.
Part III. Mental and Emotional Stress Deplete Magnesium
It is commonly accepted that certain traditional risk factors for heart disease exist. This include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, family history of heart disease, and other factors, all of which can be linked to a shortage of nutritional magnesium. Recent studies tell us that stresses—both sudden and chronic—with their high magnesium requirements, are also strong risk factors for heart disease.
The sudden stress of the
Emotional stress and phobic anxiety cause heart problems in patients with heart disease—a population we know to be mostly low in their nutritional magnesium status. Chronic states of emotional stress, including a history of childhood abuse, neglect or family dysfunction, depression, and panic disorder, must now be added to the list of traditional risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Depression can be a symptom of low magnesium status. So can anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, hyperactivity, and over-sensitivity to loud noises. Do these newly found risk factors cause heart disease, or are they risk factors because the, as well as heart disease, can all be aspects of low magnesium status? These chronic sources of stress can increase the human need for magnesium as well as be caused by its deficit.
Emotional stress triggers in susceptible people can even bring a sudden death due to heart attack, presumably by initiating a stress/low-magnesium crisis. Such emotional “triggers” include work stress, high-pressure deadlines, social isolation and loneliness, low socioeconomic status, anxiety, war, fear of war, anger and rage. Identical stress triggers cause more human heart attacks regardless of age, race, gender, or geographic location, including continent.
Mental stress, such as working out a math problem, can be shown to have impact upon the magnesium-stress response connection, since it can bring on heart attacks in people with heart disease.
Part IV. Stress, Magnesium and Aging
We are hearing a lot about stress in the health media, and rightly so as this constant companion to our lives brings on the fight-or-flight syndrome, a stress response that, when activated, has been shown to shorten lifespan. When we realize that the stress response is exacerbated when we are low in magnesium, that we are living on low-magnesium foods for the most part, and that our lifestyles are more and more filled with chronic stresses and stressful events, we are not surprised to see that several aspects of magnesium deficiency are remarkably like aspects of the aging process.
When faced with out stressful lifestyles, coupled with a society presenting a chronically low-magnesium/high-calcium diet, what is our best defense? For many of us, magnesium supplements can help to preserve or restore a healthy Mg:Ca balance, so important to our health in these stressful times.
Peter Gillham's Natural Calm
THE FDA AND STEVIA
July 15, 2005 12:45 PM
THE FDA AND STEVIA
While stevia in no way qualifies as an “artificial sweetener,” it has been subject to rigorous inquiry and unprecedented restraints. In 1986, FDA officials began to investigate herb companies selling stevia and suddenly banned its sale, calling it “an unapproved food additive.” Then in 1991, the FDA unexpectedly announced that all importation of stevia leaves and products must cease, with the exception of certain liquid extracts which are designed for skin care only. They also issued formal warnings to companies and claimed that the herb was illegal. The FDA was unusually aggressive in its goal to eliminate stevia from American markets, utilizing search and seizure tactics, embargoes and import bans. Speculation as to why the FDA intervened in stevia commerce points to the politics of influential sugar marketers and the artificial-sweetener industry.
During the same year, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) began their defense of the herb with the goal of convincing the FDA that stevia is completely safe. They gathered documented literature and research on both stevia and other non-caloric sweeteners. The overwhelming consensus was that stevia is indeed safe, and the AHPA petitioned the FDA to exempt stevia from food additive regulations.
Food Additive vs. Dietary Supplement
FDA regulations of stevia were based on its designation as a food additive. The claim was that scientific study on stevia as a food additive was inadequate. Ironically, extensive Japanese testing of stevia was disregarde—regardless of the fact that this body of documented evidence more than sufficiently supported its safe use. Many experts who have studied stevia and its FDA requirements have commented that the FDA wants far more proof that stevia is safe than they would demand from chemical additives like aspartame.
Stevia advocates point out that stevia not a food additive, but rather, a food. Apparently, foods that have traditionally been consumed do not require laborious and expensive testing for safety under FDA regulations. The fact that so many toxicology studies have been conducted in Japan, coupled with the herb’s long history of safe consumption, makes a strong case for stevia being accepted by the FDA as a safe dietary substance. Still, it was denied the official GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status and designated a food additive by the FDA.
The FDA Reverses Its Position
As a result of the Health Freedom Act passed in September of 1995, stevia leaves, stevia extract, and stevioside can be imported to the United States. However, ingredient labels of products that contain stevia must qualify as dietary supplements.
Stevia had been redesignated as a dietary supplement by the FDA and consequently can be legally sold in the United States solely as a supplement. Its addition to teas or other packaged foods is still banned. Moreover, stevia cannot, under any circumstances, be marketed as a sweetener or flavor enhancer.
SUGAR, SUGAR EVERYWHERE
Ralph Nader once said, “If God meant us to eat sugar, he wouldn’t have invented dentists.” The average American eats over 125 pounds of white sugar every year. It has been estimated that sugar makes up 25 percent of our daily caloric intake, with soda pop supplying the majority of our sugar ingestion. Desserts and sugar-laden snacks continually tempt us, resulting in an escalated taste for sweets.
The amount of sugar we consume has a profound effect on both our physical and mental well-being. Sugar is a powerful substance which can have drug-like effects and is considered addictive by some nutritional experts. William Duffy, the author of Sugar Blues, states,“The difference between sugar addiction and narcotic addition is largely one of degree.” In excess, sugar can be toxic. Sufficient amounts of B-vitamins are actually required to metabolize and detoxify sugar in our bodies. When the body experiences a sugar overload, the assimilation of nutrients from other foods can be inhibited. In other words, our bodies were not designed to cope with the enormous quantity of sugar we routinely ingest. Eating too much sugar can generate a type of nutrient malnutrition, not to mention its contribution to obesity, diabetes, hyperactivity, and other disorders. Sugar can also predispose the body to yeast infections, aggravate some types of arthritis and asthma, cause tooth decay, and may even elevate our blood lipid levels. Eating excess sugar can also contribute to amino acid depletion, which has been linked with depression and other mood disorders. To make matters worse, eating too much sugar can actually compromise our immune systems by lowering white blood cells counts. This makes us more susceptible to colds and other infections. Sugar consumption has also been linked to PMS, osteoporosis and coronary heart disease.
Why Do We Crave Sweets?
Considering the sobering effects of a high sugar diet, why do we eat so much of it? One reason is that sugar gives us a quick infusion of energy. It can also help to raise the level of certain brain neurotransmitters which may temporarily elevate our mood. Sugar cravings stem from a complex mix of physiological and psychological components. Even the most brilliant scientists fail to totally comprehend this intriguing chemical dependence which, for the most part, hurts our overall health.
What we do know is that when sugary foods are consumed, the pancreas must secrete insulin, a hormone which serves to bring blood glucose levels down. This allows sugar to enter our cells where it is either burned off or stored. The constant ups and downs of blood sugar levels can become exaggerated in some individuals and cause all kinds of health problems. Have you ever been around someone who is prone to sudden mood swings characterized by violent verbal attacks or irritability? This type of volatile behavior is typical of people who crave sugar, eat it and then experience sugar highs and lows. Erratic mood swings can be linked to dramatic drops in blood sugar levels.
Hypoglycemia: Sign of Hard Times?
It is rather disturbing to learn that statisticians estimate that almost 20 million Americans suffer from some type of faulty glucose tolerance. Hypoglycemia and diabetes are the two major forms of blood sugar disorders and can deservedly be called modern day plagues. Hypoglycemia is an actual disorder that can cause of number of seemingly unrelated symptoms. More and more studies are pointing to physiological as well as psychological disorders linked to disturbed glucose utilization in brain cells. One study, in particular, showed that depressed people have overall lower glucose metabolism (Slagle, 22). Hypoglycemia occurs when too much insulin is secreted in order to compensate for high blood sugar levels resulting from eating sugary or high carbohydrate foods. To deal with the excess insulin, glucagon, cortisol and adrenalin pour into the system to help raise the blood sugar back to acceptable levels. This can inadvertently result in the secretion of more insulin and the vicious cycle repeats itself.
A hypoglycemic reaction can cause mood swings, fatigue, drowsiness, tremors, headaches, dizziness, panic attacks, indigestion, cold sweats, and fainting. When blood sugar drops too low, an overwhelming craving for carbohydrates results. To satisfy the craving and compensate for feelings of weakness and abnormal hunger, sugary foods are once again consumed in excess.
Unfortunately, great numbers of people suffer from hypoglycemic symptoms. Ironically, a simple switch from a high sugar diet to one that emphasizes protein can help. In addition, because sugar cravings are so hard to control, a product like stevia can be of enormous value in preventing roller coaster blood sugar levels. One Colorado internist states: People who are chronically stressed and are on a roller coaster of blood sugar going up and down are especially prone to dips in energy at certain times of day. Their adrenals are not functioning optimally, and when they hit a real low point, they want sugar. It usually happens in mid-afternoon when the adrenal glands are at their lowest level of functioning. (Janiger, 71) Our craving for sweets in not intrinsically a bad thing; however, what we reach for to satisfy that craving can dramatically determine how we feel. Stevia can help to satisfy the urge to eat something sweet without changing blood sugar levels in a perfectly natural way and without any of the risks associated with other non-nutritive sweeteners.
Diabetes: Pancreas Overload?
Diabetes is a disease typical of western cultures and is evidence of the influence that diet has on the human body. Perhaps more than any other disease, diabetes shuts down the mechanisms which permit proper carbohydrate/sugar metabolism. When the pancreas no longer secretes adequate amounts of insulin to metabolize sugar, that sugar continues to circulate in the bloodstream causing all kinds of health problems. The type of diabetes that comes in later years is almost always related to obesity and involves the inability of sugar to enter cells, even when insulin is present. Diabetes can cause blindness, atherosclerosis, kidney disease, the loss of nerve function, recurring infections, and the inability to heal. Heredity plays a profound role in the incidence of diabetes, but a diet high in white sugar and empty carbohydrates unquestionably contributes to the onset of the disease. It is estimated that over five million Americans are currently undergoing medical treatment for diabetes and studies suggest that there are at least four million Americans with undetected forms of adult onset diabetes. Diabetes is the third cause of death in this country and reflects the devastating results of a diet low in fiber and high in simple carbohydrates. Most of us start our children on diets filled with candy, pop, chips, cookies, doughnuts, sugary juice, etc. Studies have found that diabetes is a disease which usually plagues societies that eat highly refined foods. Because we live in a culture that worships sweets, the availability of a safe sweetener like stevia, which does not cause stress on the pancreas is extremely valuable. If sugar consumption was cut in half by using stevia to
Moderating Male Midlife Moodiness - The lesser known guy version of menopause is now a ...
July 14, 2005 09:28 AM
Moderating Male Midlife MoodinessThe lesser known guy version of menopause is now a syndrome
Question: How can you tell if a man has irritable male syndrome?
Irritable male syndrome (IMS) may sound like a joke, but it's really no laughing matter. Just as women experience anxiety, depression and irritability with hormonal changes, men too can suffer from cyclic and menopausal symptoms-they're just more likely to be chastised for it instead of being consoled with a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Since men's hormones actually fluctuate every hour rather than every 28 days, it should come as no surprise that male behavior should be affected. For some men over 40, however, the behavior swing can be quite dramatic, leaving a guy in a chronic bad mood. But try telling the grouch that he suffers from "male menopause" and he just might chuck the Ben & Jerry's at you.
The term "irritable male syndrome" was coined by Gerald A. Lincoln, a researcher at the Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh, Scotland. Lincoln first observed IMS while studying Soay sheep, a large, curly-horned variety known for their boisterous rutting rituals that rival the masculine intensity of any Super Bowl party. After mating season, however, Lincoln noticed that as testosterone levels dropped off, the rams became agitated, fearful, withdrawn and likely to irrationally strike out at other males. The hypothesis behind this behavior is that the withdrawal of androgens affects melatonin and serotonin uptake and can make for one cranky ram. However, IMS in two-legged, human subjects can present itself with more complexity.
Psychotherapist Jed Diamond, author of The Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing the Four Key Causes of Depression and Aggression (Rodale Books), defines IMS as "a state of hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, and loss of male identity" that can occur at any time during a man's life. A lot of IMS involves depression; normally thought of as a female problem, this emotional downer often comes out differently in men, more outwardly than inwardly directed.
One point of similarity between the sexes is that IMS, like depression in women, is often linked to the multi-source stress that pervades modern living. The result? According to Diamon, "Up to 30% of men, especially those in adolescence and midlife, exhibit symptoms of IMS. In its mildest forms, it can cause men to be moody and irritable. At its worst, it can lead to violence and even suicide."
Is it a Bad Day or a Bad Decade?
So how can you really tell if a man has irritable male syndrome? Since a guy isn't likely to say flat out that he's having trouble with relationships or is having hot flashes (you read that right), there are other, more telltale signs to look for. While we all may temporarily experience bad moods, if you or someone you know exhibits one or more of these feelings with frequency over a period of time, IMS may be the cause: anger, sarcasm, defensiveness, blaming, withdrawal, anxiety, defiance, being argumentative, feeling unappreciated, frustration.
Physical IMS symptoms include fatigue, unexpected weight gain or loss, frequent urination, hair loss (besides the typical male pattern) and impotence. The thyroid gland, which serves as the body's master energy controller, is often out of whack on men suffering from IMS. If that sounds familiar, see your practitioner for a thyroid hormone check.
Less Flabby Means Less Crabby
Sometimes, IMS is not a matter of lowered testosterone levels but one of elevated estradoil, the usable form of the female hormone estrogen. This condition can develop with consumption of too many hormone-laced meats (eating organic meat is a good option). In addition, a diet high in high-glycemic carbs such as white breads and white pasta will undermine testosterone levels as well as pack on unwanted pounds.
To help trim down and keep IMS symptoms at bay, Larrian Gillespie, MD, author of The Gladiator Diet: How to Preserve Peak Health, Sexual Energy, and A Strong Body at Any Age (Healthy Life Publications), recommends a diet that's 40% protein, 35% low-glycemic carbs (read: green veggies) and 25% fat, of which only 10% should be saturated fat. To help keep testosterone levels up, avoid apricots, carrots, white potatoes, white rice (whole wheat past and rise are okay) and-sorry guys-dark beer.
Gillespie also recommends that men take a multivitamin daily along with calcium, magnesium and the herb saw palmetto to inhibit the breakdown of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone a precursor to prostate disease.
Now that you know IMS is real, you can take the bull (or Soay ram) by the horns and do something about it. IMS can be treated through diet, natural hormone replacement therapy and counseling, if necessary.
Question: What do you call a man who is always tired, miserable and irritable?
Wrong answer! That was the old guy. Mr. Nice is back. -Karyn Maier
Menopause: Disease or Condition?
June 13, 2005 03:44 PM
Menopause: Disease or Condition?
by Mary Ann Mayo & Joseph L. Mayo, MD Energy Times, September 4, 1999
It's front-page news. It's politically correct and socially acceptable. Talking about menopause is in. Suddenly it's cool to have hot flashes. Millions of women turning 50 in the next few years have catapulted the subject of menopause into high-definition prominence.
It's about time. Rarely discussed openly by women (what did your mother ever advise you?), meno-pause until recently was dismissed as "a shutting down experience characterized by hot flashes and the end of periods." Disparaging and depressing words like shrivel, atrophy, mood swings and melancholia peppered the scant scientific menopausal literature.
What a difference a few years and a very vocal, informed and assertive group of Baby Boomers make. Staggered by the burgeoning numbers of newly confrontational women who will not accept a scribbled prescription and a pat on the head as adequate treatment, health practitioners and researchers have been challenged to unravel, explain and deal with the challenges of menopause.
Not An Overnight Sensation
Menopause, researchers have discovered, is no simple, clear cut event in a woman's life. The "change of life" does not occur overnight. A woman's body may begin the transition toward menopause in her early 40s, even though her last period typically occurs around age 51. This evolutionary time before the final egg is released is called the perimenopause. Erratic monthly hormone levels produce unexpected and sometimes annoying sensations.
Even as their bodies adjust to lower levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, some women don't experience typical signs of menopause until after the final period. A fortunate one-third have few or no discomforts.
According to What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause (Warner Books) by John R. Lee, MD, Jesse Hanley, MD, and Virginia Hopkins, "The steroid hormones are intimately related to each other, each one being made from another or turned back into another depending on the needs of the body...But the hormones themselves are just part of the picture. It takes very specific combinations of vitamins, minerals and enzymes to cause the transformation of one hormone into another and then help the cell carry out the hormone's message. If you are deficient in one of the important hormone-transforming substances such as vitamin B6 or magnesium, for example, that too can throw your hormones out of balance. Thyroid and insulin problems, toxins, bad food and environmental factors, medication and liver function affect nutrient and hormone balance."
The most important reproductive hormones include:
Estrogen: the female hormone produced by the ovaries from puberty through menopause to regulate the menstrual cycle and prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Manufacture drops significantly during menopause. Estradiol is a chemically active and efficient form of estrogen that binds to many tissues including the uterus, breasts, ovaries, brain and heart through specific estrogen receptors that allow it to enter those cells, stimulating many chemical reactions. Estriol and estrone are additional forms of estrogen.
Progesterone: also produced by the ovaries, it causes tissues to grow and thicken, particularly during pregnancy, when it protects and nurtures the fetus. Secretion ceases during menopause.
Testosterone: Women produce about one-twentieth of what men do, but require it to support sex drive. About half of all women quit secreting testosterone during menopause.
Estrogen's Wide Reach
Since estrogen alone influences more than 400 actions on the body, chiefly stimulating cell growth, the effects of its fluctuations can be far-reaching and extremely varied: hot (and cold) flashes, erratic periods, dry skin (including the vaginal area), unpredictable moods, fuzzy thinking, forgetfulness, fatigue, low libido, insomnia and joint and muscle pain.
Young women may experience premature menopause, which can occur gradually, as a matter of course, or abruptly with hysterectomy (even when the ovaries remain) or as a result of chemotherapy. Under such conditions symptoms can be severe.
In the 1940s doctors reasoned that if most discomforts were caused by diminishing estrogen (its interactive role with progesterone and testosterone were underestimated), replacing it would provide relief. When unchecked estrogen use resulted in high rates of uterine cancer, physicians quickly began adding progesterone to their estrogen regimens and the problem appeared solved.
For the average woman, however, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) became suspect and controversial, especially when a link appeared between extended use of HRT (from five to 10 years) and an increase in breast and endometrial cancers (Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 37, 1997). The result: Women have drawn a line in the sand between themselves and their doctors.
Resolving The Impasse
Since hormone replacement reduces the risk of major maladies like heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, colon cancer and diabetes that would otherwise significantly rise as reproductive hormone levels decrease, most doctors recommend hormone replacement shortly before or as soon as periods stop. Hormone replacement also alleviates the discomforts of menopause.
But only half of all women fill their HRT prescriptions and, of those who do, half quit within a year. Some are simply indifferent to their heightened medical risks. Some are indeed aware but remain unconvinced of the safety of HRT. Others complain of side effects such as bloating, headaches or drowsiness.
Women's resistance to wholesale HRT has challenged researchers to provide more secure protection from the diseases to which they become vulnerable during menopause, as well as its discomforts. If the conventional medical practitioners do not hear exactly what modern women want, the complementary medicine community does. Turning to centuries-old botanicals, they have validated and compounded them with new technology. Their effectiveness depends on various factors including the synergistic interaction of several herbs, specific preparation, the correct plant part and dosage, harvesting and manufacturing techniques.
Research demonstrates that plant hormones (phytoestrogens) protect against stronger potentially carcinogenic forms of estrogen while safely providing a hormone effect. Other herbs act more like tonics, zipping up the body's overall function.
Help From Herbs
Clinical trials and scientific processing techniques have resulted in plant-based supplements like soy and other botanicals that replicate the form and function of a woman's own estrogen.
The complementary community also can take credit for pushing the conventional medical community to look beyond estrogen to progesterone in postmenopausal health.
Natural soy or Mexican yam derived progesterone is formulated by pharmacologists in creams or gels that prevent estrogen-induced overgrowth of the uterine lining (a factor in uterine cancer), protect against heart disease and osteoporosis and reduce hot flashes (Fertility and Sterility 69, 1998: 96-101).
A quarter of the women who take the popularly prescribed synthetic progesterone report increased tension, fatigue and anxiety; natural versions have fewer side effects.
These "quasi-medicines," as Tori Hudson, a leading naturopathic doctor and professor at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon, calls them, are considered "stronger than a botanical but weaker than a medicine." (Hudson is author of Gynecology and Naturopathic Medicine: A Treatment Manual.)
According to Hudson, the amount of estrogen and progesterone in these supplements is much less than medical hormone replacement but equally efficacious in relieving menopausal problems and protecting the heart and bones.
According to a study led by Harry K. Genant, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, "low-dose" plant estrogen derived from soy and yam, supplemented with calcium, prevents bone loss without such side effects as increased vaginal bleeding and endometrial hypoplasia, abnormal uterine cell growth that could be a precursor to endometrial cancer (Archives of Internal Medicine 157, 1997: 2609-2615).
These herbal products, including natural progesterone and estrogen in the form of the weaker estriol or estrone, may block the effect of the stronger and potentially DNA-damaging estradiol.
Soy in its myriad dietary and supplemental forms provides a rich source of isoflavones and phytosterols, both known to supply a mild estrogenic effect that can stimulate repair of the vaginal walls (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83, 1991: 541-46).
To enhance vaginal moisture, try the herb cimicifuga racemosa, the extract of black cohosh that, in capsule form, builds up vaginal mucosa (Therapeuticum 1, 1987: 23-31). Traditional Chinese herbal formulas containing roots of rehmannia and dong quai have long been reputed to promote vaginal moisture.
Clinical research in Germany also confirms the usefulness of black cohosh in preventing hot flashes and sweating, as well as relieving nervousness, achiness and depressed moods caused by suppressed hormone levels. It works on the hypothalamus (the body's thermostat, appetite and blood pressure monitor), pituitary gland and estrogen receptors. Green tea is steeped with polyphenols, mainly flavonoids, that exert a massive antioxidant influence against allergens, viruses and carcinogens. The risks of estrogen-related cancers such as breast cancer are particularly lowered by these flavonoids, as these substances head directly to the breast's estrogen receptors. About three cups a day exert an impressive anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, antiviral and anticarcinogenic effect.
Other phytoestrogen-rich botanicals, according to Susun Weed's Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way (Ash Tree Publishing), include motherwort and lactobacillus acidophilus to combat vaginal dryness; hops and nettles for sleep disturbances; witch hazel and shepherd's purse for heavy bleeding; motherwort and chasteberry for mood swings; dandelion and red clover for hot flashes.
Our Need For Supplements
Adding micronutrients at midlife to correct and counter a lifetime of poor diet and other habits is a step toward preventing the further development of the degenerative diseases to which we become vulnerable. At the very minimum, you should take:
a multivitamin/mineral supplement vitamin E calcium
Your multivitamin/mineral should contain vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Look for a wide variety of antioxidants that safeguard you from free radical damage, believed to promote heart disease and cancer, as well as contribute to the aging process.
Also on the list: mixed carotenoids such as lycopene, alpha carotene and vitamin C; and folic acid to help regulate cell division and support the health of gums, red blood cells, the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system.
Studies indicate a deficiency of folic acid (folate) in 30% of coronary heart disease, blood vessel disease and strokes; lack of folate is thought to be a serious risk factor for heart disease (OB.GYN News, July 15, 1997, page 28).
Extra vitamin E is believed to protect against breast cancer and bolster immune strength in people 65 and older (Journal of the American Medical Association 277, 1997: 1380-86). It helps relieve vaginal dryness, breast cysts and thyroid problems and, more recently, hit the headlines as an aid in reducing the effects of Alzheimer's and heart disease. It is suspected to reduce the thickening of the carotid arterial walls and may prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which contributes to the formation of plaque in arteries.
Selenium also has been identified as an assistant in halting cancer (JAMA 276, 1996: 1957-63).
The Omegas To The Rescue
Essential fatty acids found in cold water fish, flaxseed, primrose and borage oils and many nuts and seeds are essential for the body's production of prostaglandin, biochemicals which regulate hormone synthesis, and numerous physiological responses including muscle contraction, vascular dilation and the shedding of the uterine lining. They influence hormonal balance, reduce dryness and relieve hot flashes.
In addition, the lignans in whole flaxseed behave like estrogen and act aggressively against breast cancer, according to rat and human studies at the University of Toronto (Nutr Cancer 26, 1996: 159-65).
Research has demonstrated that these omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can reverse the cancer-causing effects of radiation and other carcinogens (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 74, 1985: 1145-50). Deficiencies may cause swelling, increased blood clotting, breast pain, hot flashes, uterine and menstrual cramps and constipation. Fatigue, lack of endurance dry skin and hair and frequent colds may signal EFA shortage. Plus, fatty fish oils, along with vitamin D and lactose, help absorption of calcium, so vital for maintaining bone mass.
In addition, studies show that the natural substance Coenzyme A may help menopausal women reduce cholesterol and increase fat utilization (Med Hyp 1995; 44, 403, 405). Some researchers belive Coenzyme A plays a major role in helping women deal with stress while strengthening immunity.
Can't shake those menopausal woes? Menopause imposters may be imposing on you: The risk of thyroid disease, unrelenting stress, PMS, adrenal burnout, poor gastrointestinal health and hypoglycemia all increase at midlife. Menopause is a handy hook on which to hang every misery, ache and pain but it may only mimic the distress of other ailments. For this reason every midlife woman should have a good medical exam with appropriate tests to determine her baseline state of health. Only with proper analysis can you and your health practitioner hit on an accurate diagnosis and satisfying course of therapy.
And if menopause is truly the issue, you have plenty of company. No woman escapes it. No woman dies from it. It is not a disease but a reminder that one-third of life remains to be lived. Menopausal Baby Boomers can anticipate tapping into creative energy apart from procreation. If not new careers, new interests await. An altered internal balance empowers a menopausal woman to direct, perhaps for the first time, her experience of life. She has come of age-yet again. Gone is the confusion, uncertainty, or dictates of a hormone driven life: This time wisdom and experience direct her. There is no need to yearn for youth or cower at the conventional covenant of old age. Menopause is the clarion call to reframe, reevaluate and reclaim.
Mary Ann Mayo and Joseph L. Mayo, MD, are authors of The Menopause Manager (Revell) and executive editors of Health Opportunities for Women (HOW). Telephone number 877-547-5499 for more information.
Recognizing the Signs: Roadmap to a Healthy Heart
June 13, 2005 10:06 AM
Recognizing the Signs: Roadmap to a Healthy Heart by Louis McKinley Energy Times, January 2, 2004
From time immemorial, people have tuned into life's lessons that come from the heart. Sadly, times are changing: If you're like most inhabitants of today's harried world, you may be too distracted to detect important clues about your cardiovascular circumstances.
And while heart lessons may be more complicated than simply connecting the physiological dots, understanding those heart messages are imperative for improving and maintaining your heart health.
Every cell in your body relies on heart-powered blood flow to keep it supplied with nutrients, oxygen, hormones and other natural chemicals necessary for survival. Without that supply of life-giving substances, few cells in the body-including those within the heart itself-can survive very long.
And just as damage to a major roadway can cause mayhem with traffic patterns, damage to blood vessels and the heart can wreak a lumpy cardiovascular havoc that blocks the passage of blood and endangers your heart's well-being.
Your Heart Disease Chances
Within the last ten years, scientific research performed by investigators around the world has focused on the specific factors that most strongly influence your chances of developing heart disease and suffering either a heart attack or a stroke.
While much of your risk depends on your genetic inheritance and family history, several factors that determine your heart health are within your control.
The most important factors you can do something about include:
* Smoking: free radicals generated by burning tobacco causes significant damage to blood vessels and other cells
* Lack of exercise: the human body is designed for consistent, moderate physical activity; without exercise, the body slacks off in creating antioxidant protection for arteries
* Diabetes: when excess blood sugar persists, physiological processes begin that endanger the heart and arteries
* Cholesterol: when oxidized (a chemical process that has been compared to a kind of internal rusting), cholesterol can form artery-blocking plaque; antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and natural vitamin E may help the body limit this process
* High blood pressure: excessive pressure within the blood vessels raises the risk of damage to the heart and arteries; a program of weight loss and exercise can help control blood pressure
* Being overweight: the extra body fat carried around your middle is linked to a greater risk of heart problems
Heart Attack Signs
Do you think you know what a heart attack feels like? Well, if you think it feels like a dramatic pain somewhere in your chest that knocks you to the floor, you're probably wrong. "Most heart attacks do not look at all like what one of my colleagues calls the 'Hollywood' attack-the heart attack you see on television or in the movies," warns Julie Zerwic, MD, professor of surgical nursing who has studied what happens when people develop heart disease and suffer damage to their hearts.
"The symptoms [of heart problems] are not necessarily dramatic. People don't fall down on the floor. They don't always experience a knife-like, very sharp pain. In fact, many people describe the sensation as heaviness and tightness in the chest rather than pain," she says. And, if you're a woman experiencing a heart attack, you may not even feel discomfort specifically in your chest. Instead you may experience a severe shortness of breath. The apparent ambiguity of the discomforts caused by a heart attack lead many people to either ignore them or take hours to realize they need to go to the emergency room at the hospital.
Consequently, much fewer than half of all individuals undergoing a heart attack actually go to a hospital within an hour of the start of the attack. That delay can be a fatal mistake.
"Timing is absolutely critical," laments Dr. Zerwic. "If treatment starts within a hour after the onset of symptoms, drugs that reestablish blood flow through the blocked coronary artery can reduce mortality by as much as 50%. That number drops to 23% if treatment begins three hours later. The goal is to introduce therapy within two hours."
However, in Dr. Zerwic's research, only 35% of non-Hispanic whites go to the hospital within an hour of the start of a heart attack. And among African-Americans, the number of people going to the hospital right away drops to a frighteningly low 13%.
Often, people will lie down or use a heating pad to relieve the tightness they feel in the chest," says Dr. Zerwic. "They may take some medicine and wait to see if that works. All these steps postpone needed treatment."
Signs of a possible heart attack include:
* Chest discomfort: Heart attacks most frequently cause discomfort in the center of the chest that can either go away after a couple of minutes (and come back) or persist. The discomfort may feel like strong pressure, fullness or pain.
* Upper body discomfort: An attack may set off pain or discomfort in either or both arms, and/or the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
* Shortness of breath: Chest discomfort is frequently accompanied by shortness of breath. But it's important to note that shortness of breath can take place even in the absence of chest discomfort.
* Other signs: You can also break out in a cold sweat, or feel nauseated or light-headed.
A Woman's Sleep Signs
If you are a woman who suddenly experiences a marked increase in insomnia and puzzling, intense fatigue, you may be in danger of an imminent heart attack.
In an attempt to understand how women's symptoms of heart problems differ from those of men, researchers talked to more than 500 women in Arkansas, North Carolina and Ohio who had suffered heart attacks. (Technically, what they had experienced is referred to as acute myocardial infarction.)
They found that chest pain prior to a heart attack was only reported by about 30% of the women surveyed.
More common were unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances and shortness of breath (Circulation Rapid Access, 11/3/01).
"Since women reported experiencing early warning signs more than a month prior to the heart attack, this [fatigue and sleep problems] could allow time to treat these symptoms and to possibly delay or prevent the heart attack," says researcher Jean C. McSweeney, PhD, RN, nursing professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. In Dr. McSweeney's study, more than nine out of ten women who had heart attacks reported that they had had new, disturbing physical problems more than a month before they had infarctions.
Almost three in four suffered from unusual fatigue, about half had sleep disturbances, while two in five found themselves short of breath.
Other common signs included indigestion and anxiety.
"Women need to be educated that the appearance of new symptoms may be associated with heart disease and that they need to seek medical care to determine the cause of the symptoms, especially if they have known cardiovascular risks such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, overweight or a family history of heart diseases," says Dr. McSweeney.
Dr. McSweeney warns that, until now, little has been known about signs that women are having heart trouble or heart attacks. The fact that most of Western medicine's past attention has been on heart problems in men has obscured the warning signs in women. As part of Dr. McSweeney's studies, she and her fellow researchers have discovered that more than 40% of all women who suffer a heart attack never feel any chest discomfort before or during the attack.
"Lack of significant chest pain may be a major reason why women have more unrecognized heart attacks than men or are mistakenly diagnosed and discharged from emergency departments," she notes. "Many clinicians still consider chest pain as the primary symptom of a heart attack."
Vitamins for Diabetes and Heart Disease
Having diabetes significantly raises your chance of heart disease, which means that keeping your blood sugar levels under control can reduce your chances of suffering a heart attack.
Today, 17 million Americans have diabetes and, as the country's population in general gains weight and fails to exercise, the number of people suffering this problem continues to grow.
The first line of defense against diabetes consists of exercise and weight control. All you have to do is take a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day to drop your chances of diabetes (American Journal of Epidemiology 10/1/03).
"We have found that men and women who incorporate activity into their lifestyles are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who are sedentary. This finding holds no matter what their initial weight," said Andrea Kriska, PhD, professor of epidemiology at University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
To help your body fight the development of diabetes, researchers also recommend vitamin C and natural vitamin E.
Researchers working with lab animals at the University of California at Irvine have found that these antioxidant vitamins can help insulin (the hormone-like substance secreted by the pancreas) reduce harmful blood sugar. In addition, these vitamins shrink the chances of organ damage that can be caused by diabetes (Kidney International 1/03).
In this investigation, these vitamins also helped reduce blood pressure, another risk factor that raises heart disease risk.
"Blood pressure was lowered to normal, and free radicals were not in sufficient numbers to degrade the sugars, proteins and nitric oxide," notes Nick Vaziri, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California. "We think this shows that a diet rich in antioxidants may help diabetics prevent the devastating cardiovascular, kidney, neurological and other damage that are common complications of diabetes."
Free Radical Blues
Dr. Vaziri and his group of researchers found that untreated diabetes raised blood pressure and increased the production of free radicals, caustic molecules that can damage arteries and the heart. Free radicals can change blood sugar and other proteins into harmful substances, boosting tissue and heart destruction.
In Dr. Vaziri's work with lab animals, he found that treating diabetes with insulin lowered blood pressure and helped keep sugar and protein from changing into dangerous chemicals, but allowed the free radicals to subvert nitric oxide, a chemical the body uses to protect itself from free radicals.
In this investigation, adding vitamins C and E to insulin insulated the body's sugars, proteins and nitric oxide from oxidative assault. This produces a double advantage: Lowering the risk of heart disease and other damage to the body from diabetes.
Maitake, an Oriental mushroom that has been shown to have many health benefits, can also be useful for people with diabetes who are trying to avoid cardiovascular complications. Laboratory studies in Japan demonstrate that maitake may help lower blood pressure while reducing cholesterol (Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 1997; 20(7):781-5). In producing these effects, the mushroom may also help the body reduce blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of tissue damage.
Tobacco smoke is one of the most notorious causes of heart problems. In the same way a hard frost exerts a death grip on a highway, the smoke from cigarettes can freeze up arteries and hamper their proper function. A healthy artery must stay flexible to comfortably allow adequate circulation.
But "...when blood vessels are exposed to cigarette smoke it causes the vessels to behave like a rigid pipe rather than a flexible tube, thus the vessels can't dilate in response to increased blood flow," says David J. Bouchier-Hayes, MD, professor of surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who has studied the deleterious effects of tobacco.
This rigidity is called endothelial dysfunction. When arteries are rigid, blockages gum up vessels, clots and other impediments to blood flow appear, and your risk of heart attack and stroke increases (Circulation 2001 Nov 27; 104(22):2673).
This condition can also cause chest pain (angina) similar to that caused by a heart attack, and should be evaluated by a knowledgeable health practitioner.
Although all experts recommend you stop smoking to lower your heart disease risk, some studies have found that Pycnogenol(r), a pine bark extract that helps the body fight inflammation, may ease some of smoking's ill effects.
In a study of platelets, special cells in the blood that can form dangerous blood clots, researchers found that Pycnogenol(r) discouraged platelets from sticking together (American Society for Biochemical and Molecular Biology 5/19/98). By keeping platelets flowing freely, this supplement may alleviate some of the heart-threatening clots that tobacco smoke can cause.
In Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional therapy from India, an herb called guggul has also been used to lower the risk of blockages in arteries. This herb, derived from the resin of the mukul tree, has been shown to reduce cholesterol by about 25%. People taking this herb have also reduced their triglycerides (harmful blood fats) by the same amount (Journal Postgraduate Medicine 1991 37(3):132).
The Female Version of Heart Disease
For one thing, women often don't suffer from the crushing chest pain that for most people characterizes a heart attack; instead, many women experience back pain, sweating, extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, anxiety or indigestion, signs that can be easily misread as digestive troubles, menopausal symptoms or indicators of aging.
The genders also differ in how heart disease poses a threat. While men seem most endangered by the buildup of blockages in arteries, women apparently are more at risk from endothelial dysfunction. But more study needs to be done since, in many cases, researchers have been unable to pin down the precise mechanism that causes many women to die of heart disease.
Scientists have found that the number of women in their 30s and 40s who are dying from sudden cardiac arrest is growing much faster than the number of men of the same age who die of this cause. But research by the Oregon Health & Sciences University and Jesse E. Edwards Cardiovascular Registry in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows that while doctors can pinpoint the coronary blockages that kill men, they can't find specific blockages in half of the female fatalities they have studied (American Heart Journal 10/03).
"This was an unexpected finding. However, the study underscores the need to focus on what is causing these younger women to die unexpectedly because the number of deaths continues to increase," says Sumeet Chugh, MD, a medical professor at Oregon.
Since the failure of arteries to relax probably contributes to heart disease in many women, eating red berries, or consuming supplements from berries such as chokeberry, bilberry or elderberry, may be important in lowering women's heart disease risk. These fruits help arteries expand and allow blood to flow freely.
Red berries are rich sources of flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocynanins. The anthocyanins are strong antioxidants that give the berries their color. Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine have found that these chemicals can interact with nitrous oxide, a chemical produced by the body, to relax blood vessels (Experimental Biology conference 5/20/02).
As researchers work to devise lifestyle roadmaps that can steer you around the perils of heart disease, they are finding that exercise is a key path to avoiding cardiovascular complications.
A 17-year study of about 10,000 Americans found that those who exercised and kept their weight down (or took weight off and kept it off) experienced a significantly lower risk of heart problems (Preventive Medicine 11/03).
"The fact is that those who both exercised more and ate more nevertheless had low cardiovascular mortality," says Jing Fang, MD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. Burning calories in physical activity may be the secret to reducing heart disease risk and living longer, she says.
Dr. Fang's research used information collected from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 1975 and then computed how much people exercised, how their body mass indices varied and which of these folks died of heart disease during the next two decades.
In the study, more than 1,500 people died of heart disease. Those who worked out and consumed more calories cut their risk of heart disease death in half.
Exercise Is Essential
"Subjects with the lowest caloric intake, least physical activity, and who were overweight or obese had significantly higher cardiovascular mortality rates than those with high caloric intake, most physical activity, and normal weight," Dr. Fang notes. The individuals in the study who were overweight and didn't exercise had a bigger risk of heart disease even if they tried (and succeeded) at eating less.
"This suggests that heart disease outcome was not determined by a single factor, but rather by a compound of behavioral, socioeconomic, genetic and clinical characteristics," according to Dr. Fang.
According to researchers, if your job requires a great deal of physical activity, your health will be better if you get another job. Exercise on the job not only doesn't decrease your risk of heart disease, it may actually raise it. The reason: On-the-job activity is linked to heart-endangering increases in job stress.
Research into this subject, performed at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, found that while recreational exercise slowed hardening of the arteries, workers who had to exert themselves during the workday had arteries that were blocked at a younger age (American Journal of Medicine 7/03).
In this study, researchers examined about 500 middle-aged employees as part of what is called the Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study.
"We found that atherosclerosis progressed significantly faster in people with greater stress, and people who were under more stress also were the ones who exercised more in their jobs," says James Dwyer, PhD, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School. According to Dr. Dwyer, "This suggests that the apparent harmful effect of physical activity at work on atherosclerosis-and heart disease risk-may be due to the tendency of high-activity jobs to be more stressful in modern workplaces.
"It appears from our findings that the psychological stresses associated with physically active jobs overcomes any biological benefit of the activity itself."
On the other hand, the scientists found that heart disease drops dramatically among those who exercise the most in their spare time. In the study, people who vigorously worked out at least three times a week had the lowest risk. But even those who just took walks enjoyed better heart health than people whose most strenuous activity was working the TV remote. Dr. Dwyer says, "These results are important because they demonstrate the very substantial and almost immediate-within one or two years-cardiovascular benefit of greater physical activity."
Lowering your risk of heart disease is substantially up to you. Listen to what your heart tells you it needs; then, exercise your right to fetch some cardiovascular necessities.
June 12, 2005 01:59 PM
Certified Foods by Glenda Olsen Energy Times, July 13, 2003
What's in your food, and where does it come from? To most American consumers, that question may seem unimportant. But the answers might surprise you. Your food's origin and processing can make a big difference in its nutritional value, for better and for worse. Increasingly, concern over the quality of food and its influence on health are persuading shoppers to take a greater interest in their food. The result: More visits to natural food stores and more sales of organic food.
Once upon a time, food used to be just food. Crops were grown on family farms, and animals were raised in barnyards. But today, corporations have conquered food production in a big way. Agribusiness is just that-a big business in which animals and plants are treated like assembly-line items and raised on factory farms.
While the term "organic" gets tossed around endlessly in the media, the term is often misconstrued. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), "Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones."
In addition, organic farmers generally do not use pesticides, sewage sludge or synthetic fertilizers. This type of food is also produced without genetically modified organisms and is not subject to radiation used to zap the bugs on food. Today, USDA-approved certifying agents inspect the farms where organic food is raised to ensure organic standards are followed. In addition, the companies that process food and handle organic food have to be USDA-certified. Meeting these standards allows companies to use the USDA's organic label on foods that are at least 95% organic in origin. Labels for foods that contain between 70% and 95% organic content can use the words "Made With Organic Ingredients," but cannot use the seal.
While the debate over the nutritional benefits of organic food has raged for decades, recent research is beginning to turn up evidence that organically grown fruits and vegetables may contain extra helpings of vitamins and other nutrients. A study at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, found that organically grown oranges contain more vitamin C than conventional supermarket oranges (Great Lakes Regional Meeting, Amer Chem Soc, 6/02).
Theo Clark, PhD, the Truman State professor who investigated the organic oranges, says that when he and his students began their research, "We were expecting twice as much vitamin C in the conventional oranges" because they are larger than organic oranges. To his surprise, chemical isolation combined with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy revealed that the organically grown oranges contained up to 30% more vitamin C than the conventionally grown fruits-even though they were only about half the size. "We speculate that with conventional oranges, (farmers) use nitrogen fertilizers that cause an uptake of more water, so it sort of dilutes the orange. You get a great big orange but it is full of water and doesn't have as much nutritional value," Dr. Clark says. "However, we can only speculate. Other factors such as maturity, climate, processing factors, packaging and storage conditions require consideration."
If you want to avoid pesticide residues in your food, research shows that going organic can make it much less likely that you or your family consumes these unwanted chemicals. Research, for instance, into the diets of children (Enviro Hlth Persp 3/03) shows that dining on organic fruits and vegetables, and organic juice, can lower kids' intake of pesticides.
These scientists took a look at the organophosphorus (OP) pesticide breakdown products in the blood of kids ages two to five who ate conventional supermarket produce and compared it with the OP found in organic kids.
The children on the organic diet had less OP in their blood than the other kids. As a matter of fact, the children on the conventional diet had six times the dimethyl metabolites, dimethyl being a pesticide suspected of affecting nerve function and growth. "Consumption of organic produce appears to provide a relatively simple way for parents to reduce their children's exposure to OP pesticides," note the researchers. "Organic foods have been growing in popularity over the last several years," says Jim Burkhart, PhD, science editor for the journal that published the study. "These scientists studied one potential area of difference from the use of organic foods, and the findings are compelling."
On the way to tonight's dinner, researchers have created genetically modified organisms (GMO), plants and animals that have been transgenically engineered. In the food world, that means organisms containing genes inserted from another species. Chances are if you eat food purchased at the typical supermarket, those comestibles contain GMO ingredients. In the United States, food companies are not required to label for GMO content.
A growing number of American consumers are upset about not being told about the GMO products in their food. But industry scientists, worried that informed consumers may someday turn their back on GMO foods, consider consumer ignorance to be an acceptable state of affairs.
For instance, the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) is fighting regulations that would require GMO labeling. According to ASPB President Daniel Bush, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Urbana, "The language...(in these types of regulations) is based on a system of beliefs of what is 'natural,' rather than a scientifically defined set of criteria focused on content and nutritional value. This is a radical departure from food labeling up to now, which is designed to maximize useful information for consumers concerning what is in the food they are buying."
Dr. Bush continues, "There are, of course, examples of voluntary labeling standards in the food industry that reflect how foods are processed, such as organic foods. The voluntary organic labeling standards were sought by the organic food industry. Kosher foods are also labeled as having been produced in accordance with specific beliefs. However, mandatory labeling of targeted production methods has never before been required and we believe would obscure rather than clarify important issues of food safety."
In other words, Dr. Bush opposes GMO labeling because he feels it would unnecessarily stigmatize GMO food items. Others are not so sanguine about the safety of GMO foods.
The arguments against GMO foods include:
These types of risks have motivated industry groups to urge more regulation of GMO crops. The Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) and the National Restaurant Association, plus seven other food groups, are worried that GMO plants grown to produce pharmaceutical drugs could contaminate the food supply and destroy consumer trust in food.
Mary Sophos, a vice president of GMA, warns, "To minimize the possible risks, a clear system of regulatory enforcement and liability needs to be in place. Until then, no permits for new field trials or for commercialization should be issued because there is no room for trial and error."
These food industry groups have voiced their concerns to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the USDA. Last year, the USDA forced ProdiGene Inc., a biotech firm, to dispose of 500,000 bushels of soybeans contaminated with a drug meant to treat diabetes. What are the chances of more GMO accidents? No one knows. But if you buy and eat organic, you minimize your risk and maximize your chances of dining on safer food.