Search Term: " anxious "
Probiotics for your anxious mind? Study shows a certain strain ofbacteria could significantly reduce anxiety
December 17, 2018 01:10 PM
Life is hard, stress is everywhere, but what happens when it goes from stress to anxiety? Millions of people suffer from anxiety, it is the most prevalent mental illness out there. However, gut flora might be the answer. digestion issues effect everything from nutrition absorption to hormone balance. While modern medicine is quick to prescribe medication , which is littered with side effects, probiotics offers a way to naturally help relieve symptoms and aids in the prevention of other diseases, such as Alzheimer.
"Fortunately, there are natural alternatives that have proven very effective in the treatment of anxiety"
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-12-12-probiotics-for-your-anxious-mind-reduces-anxiety.html
Anxious Pets? Hereâ??s How Hemp Can Help
July 26, 2018 05:53 PM
Separation anxiety is a real concern for pets and their owners. When dogs, for example, are left alone and unhappy they can act out in a number of negative ways, which can include urinating and defecating, chewing and scratching and trying to escape. While behavior modification can at times ease the symptoms, owners are looking into a way to alleviate the sense of anxiety their pets fel with CBD oil, which is a compound available through the hemp plant. The oil affects the neurotransmitters in the brain, also boosting the feel-good hormone serotonin. In this way the dog's anxiety may be alleviated. And, it may be a good choice, as study has shown 75% of pet-owners using CBD felt that it was an effective choice for their pet. Because hemp-based products are low in THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, they are a better and usually legal choice. Regardless, it is always wise to seek out a veterinarian's advice.
"CBD is a compound found in both marijuana and its close cousin hemp. Unlike THC, which is responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effect, CBD is not mind-altering or toxic."
Read more: https://www.thealternativedaily.com/hemp-can-help-anxious-pets/
7 Foods That Boost Your Mood And Lower Anxiety
March 16, 2017 11:59 AM
If you are not feeling up to your old self and find that you are stressed and anxious, perhaps it is time to look at the foods that you are consuming. If you are not eating a healthy, well- balanced diet, your body suffers in many ways. New evidence suggests that consumption of certain foods lowers the risk of anxiety and helps boost your mood so you always feel at your best. These seven foods should be on your plate regularly.
"Iodine is an important mineral that is required to keep the thyroid gland healthy. The thyroid gland controls almost every cell in the body by regulating metabolism so if we are lacking in iodine this can affect brain function, mood and concentration."
Read more: http://rescu.com.au/what-food-will-help-lower-anxiety-and-boost-my-mood/
How what you eat may affect mental health
March 15, 2017 10:59 AM
You are what you eat, as the old saying has been told over and over again for centuries now. Now, new evidence suggests that the foods you consume also have an impact on your mental health. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, or that your mental health is otherwise draining, maybe it is time to revamp your menu and change the foods that you are putting on your plate. It could be the best thing that you do.
Read more: How what you eat may affect mental health
don't overlook these 8 caution indications of vitamin b12 shortage
January 05, 2017 10:59 AM
One in four people have a B12 deficiency, so it is important not to overlook the warning signs. These signs include having trouble keeping your eyes open, feeling numb or tingly, and memory loss. Other indications include feeling shaky, yellow skin, and smooth tongue. Vision problems and feeling anxious could also be another warning sign of a B12 deficiency.
"Mineral deficiencies are more typical than vitamin shortages, statistics shows that a person in four grownups handles lack of vitamin B12."
For stress, superfoods are better than comfort foods
December 22, 2016 06:59 PM
There is probably no person in this world that hasn’t been under stress at some time in their life. Different people have different responses to stress. Things such as exercising are actually good for the body, whereas eating comfort foods can be very harmful. If you must munch on something when under stress, try instead to eat superfoods such as broccoli, leafy greens, nuts, oily fish, and fermented foods. Anything with high amounts of vitamin C will do, since it has been found that the supplement prevents spikes in cortisol. Sugary or caffeine-filled foods can have the opposite effect.
"Many of these 'superfoods' also work to boost glutathione in the body: an amino acid in charge of detoxification. So superfoods nourish and detoxify, and in this way, they combat stress."
For stress, superfoods are better than comfort foods
December 22, 2016 06:39 PM
There is probably no person in this world that hasn’t been under stress at some time in their life. Different people have different responses to stress. Things such as exercising are actually good for the body, whereas eating comfort foods can be very harmful. If you must munch on something when under stress, try instead to eat superfoods such as broccoli, leafy greens, nuts, oily fish, and fermented foods. Anything with high amounts of vitamin C will do, since it has been found that the supplement prevents spikes in cortisol. Sugary or caffeine-filled foods can have the opposite effect.
"Many of these 'superfoods' also work to boost glutathione in the body: an amino acid in charge of detoxification. So superfoods nourish and detoxify, and in this way, they combat stress."
These May Be First Warning Signs for Depression in Kids
December 15, 2016 12:59 PM
Yes. Childhood depression is different from the normal "blues" and everyday emotions that occur as a child develops. Just because a child seems sad doesn't necessarily mean he or she has significant depression. If the sadness becomes persistent, or if disruptive behavior that interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life develops, it may indicate that he or she has a depressive illness.
"It can be hard to study depression in families."
Do Food Cravings Actually Mean Anything?
Food cravings are the surest way to ruin our best health intentions. Whether it be cravings for chocolate, cakes, fresh baked bread or other more exotic cravings, they impact nearly everyone that starts a new health program or diet. While cravings typically are at their worst in the first ten to fourteen days of a new, healthy lifestyle, don't be surprised to find them resurfacing any time you feel stressed, fatigued or anxious. Food is one of the quickest ways for the body to re-ground itself and the body will instinctively crave foods that through past habits have become associated with a pleasurable experience.Many people hold this opinion about food addiction and have heard it being spread around like wild fire. Giving in to the craving fills us with guilt and sometimes self hatred for not having the ability to overcome this craving. Our self-esteem lowers and we hear that little voice in our heads tell us what failures we are. This further lowers our self-esteem and so we satisfy our cravings because that food make us "feel better."
Ways to Deal with Cravings
Efficient Actions for Controlling Stress and anxiety
July 18, 2014 04:42 PM
What is anxiety?
Benefits Eucalyptus Oil-Discover Its Amazing Power In Healing Different Health Problems
February 17, 2014 06:32 AM
What is eucalptus
Eucalyptus oil originates from the Eucalyptus tree, which develops characteristically in Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia and parts of the Philippines. With more than 700 types of Eucalyptus, numerous sorts are developed everywhere throughout the world. Eucalyptus oil is steam distilled from the leaves of the tree, and is utilized as a part of various sorts of items for numerous diverse purposes. It has a mint-like quality that makes it well known for sweet, throat drops, toothpaste, and some hack medications, particularly those for ache alleviation. Notwithstanding that, it has bug repellent lands that make it an extraordinary characteristic alternative for open air utilization
The Eucalyptus globulus -the most usually discovered key oil, has an empowering however extremely solid aroma. It is useful for respiratory issues, lessening bodily fluid film swelling and irritation, and for calming sore muscles, rheumatism, migraines and anxious depletion. It is broadly utilized as a part of business cool cures and arrangements for mitigating throbbing muscles.
January 18, 2014 06:37 AM
What is Amino Peptide
A amino peptide is basically a little protein which is made up of amino acids. Peptides are animated at quite little dosages, are greatly particular and have a quite great wellbeing profile when utilized physiologically - that is, to support or change a living being's physical methods. When we dismember a percentage of the peptide marks above, we can start to separate around them. The utilization of "amino" in amino-polypeptide is a spot excess since all peptides are made of amino acids. The "poly" just implies this is a peptide of a few amino acids. A "hexapeptide" is a chain of precisely six (hexa) amino acids; a pentatpeptide is a chain of five (penta). One scientist working with a palmitoylated five-amino-harsh corrosive chain peptide named it "palmitoyl pentapeptide", while an alternate scientist examining the same atomcalled it "palmitoyloligopeptide". This is a honest to goodness, however less particular, name since "oligo" implies "few". Along these lines the disarray develops.
The expression "neuropeptide" is a smidge more accommodating in that it really portrays the capacity of the peptide. Neuropeptides about as neuromodulators, neurotransmitters, neurohormones, and hormones. Research into neuropeptides has blasted in later a long time to the degree that there is an investigative diary named
Neuropeptides whose point is the quick distribution of unique research and survey articles, managing the structure, circulation, activities and capacities of peptides in the focal and fringe anxious frameworks. What is energizing about neuropeptides is their energy and scope. Different neurotransmitters transmit focal anxious framework motions in one bearing and along a way from A to B.
Neuropeptides transmit omnidirectionally outward and can even immediate transmissions in converse. As neuromodulators, they can initiate and deactivate different neurotransmitters. The deductive personality boggles at the potential. The names of a percentage of the neuropeptides may be natural and help you to comprehend the potential of opening the privileged insights of these peptide particles. Neuropeptides are aggregated into families dependent upon similitudes in their amino harsh corrosive successions. There are the Tachykinins; the Insulins; the Somatostatins; the Gastrins, for example, cholecystokinin used to diagnose gallbladder and pancreatic issues; and the Opioids, for example, enkephalins - the figure's sedatives or painkillers.
Benefits of herb chaste berry for women
January 17, 2014 08:20 AM
Premestrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome impacts over 70% to 90% of ladies before menopause in the US and less for ladies in Southeast Asia in light of their contrast in living style and social structure. The event of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) have more than multiplied in the course of recent years because of the acknowledgement of it as a therapeutic condition that is initiated by bad eating methodology with high in soaked sustenance. Premenstrual syndrome is characterized as flawed capacity of the ovaries identified with the ladies' menstrual cycle, it impacts a ladies' physical and enthusiastic state, and frequently meddles with every day exercises as an aftereffect of hormone change. The syndrome happens one to two prior week’s monthly cycle and after that decays when the period begins. In this article, we will talk about how standing berry tree impacts ladies with PMS.
I. Definition Chaste berry tree is an exceptionally significant herb; it has been utilized as drug since old Greek for menstrual issue incorporating absence of ovulation. Today the herb is well known for treating side effects of hormone lopsidedness.
II. How chaste berry tree impacts ladies with premenstrual syndrome it hard to accept that chaste beery tree holds no plant estrogen yet has been adequately utilized within treating premenstrual syndrome due to the accompanying lands
1. Iridoid Chaste beery tree holds iridoid incorporating aucubin and agnuside which are frequently intermediates in the bio combination of alkaloid. It serves to enhance invulnerable framework battling against irritation and serves to avoid muscle spam bringing about decreasing menstrual ache and spasms.
2. Androstenedione is the normal antecedent of male and female sex hormone generated by adrenal organ, chaste berry tree holds androstenedione which not just serves to tie the levels of terrible estrogen additionally equalize the levels of testosterone in the ladies figure bringing about decreasing the male example for some ladies with PMS.
3. Key oil Chaste berry tree holds cineol, pinene, castine and different substances, it serves to unwind the apprehensive framework and muscle that serves to diminish side effects of anxious pressure, for example, tension discouragement, menstrual agony and spasms brought about by over animated uterus muscle. It likewise serves to expand liver capacity for overall health.
4. Alkaloid As and alkaloid, it serves to diminish the manifestations of breast delicacy and bosom ache brought about over preparation of prolaction prior and then afterward ovulation.
5. Progesterone The chaste berry tree serves to repress if the levels of progesterone in the event that it is excessively high or raise the levels of progesterone in the event that it is excessively low, in this way, diminishing the danger of hormone awkwardness between estrogen and progesterone.
What Are The Health Benefits Of The Herb Motherwort?
November 29, 2013 10:40 PM
What is Motherwort HerbMotherwort is a herb known for its properties of calming the nerves and relaxing the heart by reducing the harmful effects of stress. It is mostly used by women, but also works for men who have heart and nervous system maladies that relate to stress. It’s scientific name is “Leonurus cardiaca” and its native location is Europe and Asia. The common name comes from the fact that is has been prescribed to pregnant stressed women throughout history as a cardio tonic and nervine tonic. It strengthens and gladdens the heart thus transforming user from dull and bitter moods to relaxed, comfortable and happy ones.
Benefits of Motherwort Herb
The herb includes tincture that elevates a persons mood and acts as a sedative. As a result, the user gets better sleep on using heavy doses and a good energy balance when using small doses spread out through the day. When combined with linden flower and ginger tinctures it also helps to tackle postpartum depression. By acting as a galactagogue, it promotes the flow of mother’s milk and it also helps soothe the uterine before and after giving birth. For those who are not pregnant, consumption of motherwort leads to better menstrual flow as a result of the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Women with cramps, nervousness and digestive disturbances during PMS benefit most from the consumption of this herb as tea or in other forms.
As a cardio tonic, it is injected so that it can halt the clotting of blood as results to a better blood flow. Improved blood flow in the body is good for prevention of other diseases and health risks such as heart attacks and stroke. People with thyroid disease and hypoglycemia or low blood sugar tend to develop heart palpitations, but this is greatly reduced by the use of motherwort. Lastly, other useful uses of motherwort herb include the relieving of lung problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
Can Melatonin Be Used For Fibromyalgia?
December 28, 2012 04:19 PM
Fibromyalgia is a condition that may be very frustrating and has no known cure currently. Due to its complexity and also the number of symptoms that occur during an infection with fibromyalgia, one may be moody, anxious, depressed or irritable. Melatonin, a natural hormone which controls sleep patterns, can help relieve some symptoms of fibromyalgia and promote one's feelings of well-being.
Melatonin hormone is produced by the brain's pineal gland. It is majorly responsible for controlling the sleep-wake cycle; called the circadian rhythm. The secretion of melatonin is influenced by exposure to light. Whenever it gets dark, melatonin production rises. Conversely, during exposure to sunlight, the production of melatonin is lowered. Several people employ the use of melatonin supplements to promote symptoms of insomnia, since it can aid to reset one's body clock and even make it easier to fall and stay asleep.
How melanin treats Fibromyalgia
Disturbances of sleep and the frequent disruption of circadian rhythms occur during fibromyalgia. Melatonin has always been proven to synchronize the circadian rhythms and promote the quality of sleep. Excess damage by free-radicals is quite common in fibromyalgia patients. Melatonin as well as its metabolites have been discovered to be potent scavengers of free radicals and indirect antioxidants.
Elevated Nitric Oxide In Patients
Some studies have shown that synthesis of nitric oxide is elevated in fibromyalgia patients. Melatonin acts as a potent inhibitor of a rate-limiting enzyme in the production of nitric oxide. Depression is at times a symptom or maybe an overlapping fibromyalgia condition.
Melatonin As An Antidepressant:
Melatonin has also been proven to be an antidepressant. There is a component of melatonin that has been synthesized in the pharmaceutical industry and is now being enhanced as an antidepressant. Lyrica, antiepileptic drugs, have been proven to be effective in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Melatonin has been found to work as an antiepileptic too.
Fight Anxiety Disorders Naturally
December 14, 2010 04:27 PM
Do you suffer from an Anxiety Disorder?
Before considering how to test for anxiety disorders and discussing natural supplements that can help we should first discuss what anxiety disorders are - what the term means and if there are degrees of anxiety disorders as there are of depression and stress. First, what is anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural reaction to stress and it is anxiety that makes you worry about the consequences of not studying for an exam - so you study. It focuses you on problems so that you will be more likely to solve them, and helps you to perform better whatever you are doing. However, it can get out of hand and these positive mental processes become negative anxiety disorders.
With some people, anxiety becomes a dread of situations that were once everyday occurrences and can make your life a misery. Here are some forms of anxiety disorder.
Typical Anxiety Disorders
General Anxiety Disorder
Its symptoms include excessive sweating, worry, headaches, irritability, difficulty in sleeping, tiredness and tension in your muscles. It can lead to substance abuse and deep depression if left untreated.
These are three typical forms of anxiety, but how do you test for anxieties? Here are some tests that are used, beginning with the easiest - doing it yourself!
Testing for Anxiety Disorders
Many that believe they may have an anxiety disorder either tend to panic or go into a depression. It is far better to carry out a self-test. This anxiety test is very simple: simply tick which of the symptoms below you have experienced in the past six months:
I can't relax
I am always worried about something.
I get headaches for no apparent reason
I frequently sweat a lot and get hot flashes
I have no time for anybody and am easily annoyed
I find it hard to sleep and I often wake up during the night
My attention keeps wandering and I can't focus on anything
I sometimes get so worried I want to be sick or have a lump in my throat
If you have ticked more than three then perhaps you should pay your doctor a visit, or try some of the recommendations below.
b) Doctors' Tests
If you feel you might be suffering some form of anxiety disorder you should consult your doctor, particularly if you have tried the self test above and it indicates that you might be. Your doctor might carry out various tests for your general health, and if it is felt necessary you may be asked about your family history: is there any history of mental problems in the family, particularly with your mother or father.
Other questions may appertain to your own physical and mental background, such as have you been stressed for any reason lately, have you suffered anxiety or panic attacks in the past and what is your normal use of prescription and non-prescription medications and drugs. Do you smoke, drink or take any social drugs.
It is important that you are totally honest: the doctor is not judging you, simply trying to find the cause of your problem. Under the terms of their oath they cannot divulge anything you tell them to anyone else, so be honest and let them help you. Among the tests you will be given will be to declare all your history of anxiety-related symptoms. To achieve that, you will be asked a series of questions while the doctor assesses your mental condition.
Finally, you may be referred to a psychiatrist who will be able to help you more than your doctor. Psychiatrists have a good record in resolving anxiety disorders, but once you are diagnosed positively, what then? Chemical drugs? Or perhaps you would prefer something more natural such as herbal remedies.
Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
There are a number of herbs that can be used to treat anxiety disorders. Here are the more commonly used of these:
Passion flower contains the active substances maltol and ethylmaltol that your body's biochemistry uses to increase the concentration of GABA (gamma-butyric acid) in your brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that calms you and helps you to relax and forget anything that is making you anxious. It relieves muscle tension, can lower your blood pressure and some equate its effect to that of Valium: although it is totally different chemically it is similar in its effect. It offers a sedative effect and helps you sleep.
Kava Kava root
Kava kava. Generally just referred to as kava, comes from the Pacific and the kavalactones it contains increase the concentration of neurotransmitters in your vascular system, particularly serotonin, the feel-good substance. Its sedative effects have been likened to that of alcohol, and it can certainly give you a lift and certainly helps you worry less as it reduces the negative symptoms of stress and depression.
St. John's Wort
St. John's wort is a well-known anti-depressant and it can also help reduce the symptom of anxiety. The hyperforin the plant contains helps to improve the brain's content of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine that make you feel good, and St. John's wort certainly washes away your anxiety. Not only that, but the napththodianthrone in another of its important components, hypericin, promotes a reduction in depression through the inhibition of monoamine oxidase, a pro-depressive enzyme.
An extract of valerian root can help you to relax and sleep well, and this can often be enough to prevent your anxiety attacks. A lot depends on their cause, but if the attacks are mild and don't require extensive medical or psychiatric intervention, then valerian can help, particularly in treating stress-related anxiety. Make sure you stick to the recommended dose because valerian can be dangerous if taken to excess.
The four herbal remedies above should between them be all you need to treat your anxiety. One major problem is that, just like any chemical drugs, they only treat the symptoms and not the underlying cause which is something you and your physician will have to work on yourselves.
However, until then, the above herbal remedies for anxiety disorders are generally safer to use than prescription drugs and each has a well proven effect, both on the symptoms of anxiety and on depression.
August 26, 2008 04:58 PM
GABA is gama amino butyric acid, and is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is essential for the proper function of your brain and the central nervous system, and has the effect of reducing excessive brain activity and promoting a state of calm.
For many people, the rush of daily life, with its problems, worries and external stimuli, can over-stimulate the brain to the extent that it can all seem too much for them. They feel anxious and overwhelmed, and wish that they could just go into a quiet corner to get away from it all. Most people have felt like that at some time, but the demands of life do not allow them that luxury. They just have to bear it and get on with life.
That is where GABA can come in. It can be used to bring your nervous system back to base, and make you feel more relaxed, calmer and more able to meet these challenges that life often throws at you. When you feel that you just can’t relax or concentrate on what you are doing, GABA can help you. If you look around you and everybody else seems OK, without apparently feeling the stress and irritability that you feel, and then perhaps your problem is due to a GABA deficiency. GABA is the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain, and a deficiency would certainly give you the symptoms that you are feeling. Let me explain why.
As your brain becomes excited, it can run out of control and needs some form of modification or inhibition to keep it acting as normal. Without this you would become increasingly more restless and irritable, and ultimately have seizures. GABA is not only the main inhibitor in your brain, but also helps in the production of endorphins that provide you with a sense of well being. That sense of calm you feel when endorphins are produced, for example during exercise or sexual intercourse, is commonly referred to as the ‘endorphin effect’.
GABA is at its highest concentration in specific areas of the brain, including the hypothalamus, the hippocampus and the central brain area, and is present in up to 40% of all synapses, the small gaps between neurons across which brain cells can communicate with each other.
It is produced during the Krebs or Citric Acid Cycle that is responsible for cell respiration or the production of energy from carbohydrates. It is synthesized from alpha-keto glutarate, which is produced just before the Succinyl Co-A stage of the Krebs Cycle in the brain. Vitamin B6 in involved in its metabolism, and a Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to a deficiency in GABA that might result in seizures.
Basically GABA works by inhibiting the firing of neurons in your brain, and thus reducing general brain activity. The GABA receptor allows more chloride ion to enter the brain cell, thus helping to maintain the electrical charge within the cells. Bezodiazepines (e.g. diazepam) work by increasing the effectiveness of GABA in opening the chloride ion cells to allow more chloride ion to enter the neurons, and caffeine does the opposite, and inhibits this property of GABA. Thus diazepam works as a minor tranquilizer and caffeine as a stimulant.
Alcohol has a similar effect to the benzodiazepines, increasing the release of chloride into the neurons, and is the major way in which alcohol affects the brain. In fact, tolerance to drugs and withdrawal symptoms can be explained by the receptors adapting to the drug. They may increase in number, which means that more of the drug is needed to work on them, and they can become hypoactive in the event of the drug being withdrawn, that enhances the symptoms that the drug was intended to treat.
So basically, that is the way that GABA works. In simple terms it increases the flow of chloride electrolyte to the brain, and in so doing affects our mood. This effect is enhanced by prescription drugs such as Valium and Ativan, which are used by those that suffer the effects of a GABA deficiency. However, these drugs have side effects, not the least of which is dependency due to the GABA receptors becoming modified to suit the drug. There is a more natural way to overcome many stress problems and symptoms of mood swings.
Knowing what causes these symptoms, it makes sense to eat foods that stimulate the creation of neurotransmitters to replace those that are deficient. Since GABA is produced in the Krebs Cycle and complex carbohydrates produce glutamine that is an important part of that Cycle, and is also the precursor to GABA, then the consumption of such foods should in theory produce more GABA. In this case the theory works, and you should eat foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, brown rice and oats as part of your diet.
Other foods that are high in glutamine or its precursors, glutamic acid and glutamate, include citrus fruits, beef liver, broccoli, halibut and lentils. A useful supplement to take is L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, and available in supplement form. L-theanine can calm your nerves while maintaining clarity of thought. In other words it calms you down, but doesn’t make you drowsy and allows you to enjoy your day with anxiety.
Your doctor can determine whether or not you have a neurotransmitter deficiency through a simple urine test, and might also test your saliva for hormone content. A GABA supplement might be indicated, and if so it other beneficial effects on your body other than its effect on your brain cells.
It improves your sleep cycles and promotes vivid dreaming, and can also have a positive effect on your blood pressure. It is also an effective pain killer, and can provide relief from such conditions as back pain and arthritis. Its stimulating effect on the anterior pituitary gland to secrete Human Growth Hormone might also be regarded as a benefit by many. Increasing the level of HGH in your blood can lead to fat loss and improved anabolic activity (increase in muscle tissue). This can be of benefit to older people whose level of HGH secretion has dropped off, and who find it more difficult to lose fat.
GABA is a substance that has many known benefits and no known side effects other than a slight tingling and increase in heart rate when the supplement is first used. It has a definite benefit for people to whom the world seems too hectic and overwhelming.
Too Little Magnesium Can Cause Health Problems
April 20, 2007 12:04 PM
The Recommended Daily Allowance of magnesium (which is the minimum level needed to stave off deficiency symptoms not the maximum level) varies by age and gender:
Children 1 to 3 years: 80mg, Children 4 to 8 years: 130mg, Children 9 to 13 years: 240mg
Boys 14 to 18: 410mg, Girls 14 to 18: 360mg
Men 19 to 30: 400mg, Men 31 plus: 420mg
Women 19 to 30: 310mg, Women 31 plus: 320mg
Pregnant women 19 to 30: 350mg, pregnant women 31 plus: 360mg
A survey conducted by The Gallup Organization found that 72 percent of adult Americans fall short of the Recommended Dietary Allowance of magnesium.
Because magnesium is required for hundreds of enzymatic reactions (enzymes are protein molecules that stimulate every chemical reaction in the body), deficiency can cause a wide variety of symptoms, such as low energy, fatigue, weakness, PS and hormonal imbalance, inability to sleep, weakening bones, muscle tension, spasms and cramps, abnormal heart rhythms, headaches, anxiousness, nervousness and irritability.
Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Miracle of Magnesium states: “The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is about 350mg per day, but most researchers say you need two and three times that amount, partly because it’s not in foods. If it is in foods, if you cook and process the foods in any way, you lose magnesium.”
Supplements good for reducing stress and boosting energy!
March 26, 2007 02:05 PM
More and more Americans are feeling overworked, overtired, and overcome by life’s demands. We just do not have the energy we need to meet our responsibilities to the people we care about. More importantly, we don’t even have the energy to have fun! It seems that a constant feeling of fatigue has become part of the American way of life.
Research has shown that the same processes that cause lack of energy can rob us of sleep, saddle us with excess weight, disrupt our hormonal balance, and create significant amounts of stress in our daily lives. Chronic stress can dramatically contribute to fatigue, sleep disorders, irritability, and anxiety. The research simply confirms what most of us already know – uncomfortable stress can really wear us out mentally and physically! It can take away the satisfaction of a job well done. It can take away our ability to believe in ourselves. And, sadly and maybe most importantly, continual stress can take the fun and joy out of life.
In a separate issue of Ask the Doctor, we discuss the energy and sleeping needs of people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. In this issue, I discuss the 3-step process I call “Vitality 101.” People do not have to accept pain, insomnia, or fatigue. It’s time for everyone to feel great and have a life they love!
Step 1 – Nutrition
Good overall nutrition is important for everyone! As a foundation product to support energy levels, a powdered drink mix is a pleasant, easy way to ensure that you are taking all of the necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that you need to have great energy all through your day.
The following chart lists the most critical ingredients. You can see that almost all of the vitamins and minerals work together to help improve energy levels and overall health.
In addition to the powdered energy drink mix, it is important that you also take a high potency vitamin B-complex supplement. This should include niacinamide, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, and choline, which are especially important to restore the energy production needs of your body. It is also critical to get enough water, as most Americans are chronically dehydrated.
Step 2 – Rest Your Body
Having trouble sleeping is one of the most troubling symptoms of stress. While the stress is wearing us down and making us tired, it’s also keeping us tense and unable tot relax. The result? That easy drift into sleep becomes harder and harder. And if we are lucky enough to actually get some shut-eye, stress will often wake us up, sometimes several times a night.
This occurs because excess stress suppresses the sleep center in the brain. It is important to break the “stress/insomnia cycle” early, before it results in pain and hormonal and immune dysfunction!
Because good quality sleep is how the body repairs and re-energizes itself, it may be helpful to use herbal products to promote good quality sleep. There are many natural supplements that are marketed as sleep formulas. To get the best results, it is very important that the right ingredients are in the sleep formula you buy. Look for a supplement that has a blend of herbs that promote deep sleep, such as valerian, L-theanine, hops, passionflower,
Step 3 – Manage Excess Stress Levels
In this fast paced world, it is important to learn to manage the stressor in our lives. Glandular extracts, such as raw adrenal extract, can offer natural support to help our bodies deal with the effects of stress and, in turn, can boost your energy levels. Exercise is another stress buster. Using your body physically is important for good health. Find something that is fun for you, however, or you are unlikely to stick with it!
Q. Does stress zap my energy in any other ways besides making me lay awake at night and causing me to be a zombie the next morning?
A. Most people are familiar with the body’s dramatic response to an emergency. The heart pounds, the muscles constrict, and the lungs expand – and while this is happening, we are capable of greater than normal strength and speed. This response is the body’s way of rescuing itself when faced with an emergency. We don’t have to think about it to make it happen. It’s automatic.
The same can be said of a chronic stress response. Whether we’re late for a business meeting because we’re stuck in traffic, or worrying about how we are going to pay for our children’s college tuition, our response to stress happens automatically. The difference between the two is that the body’s response in an emergency starts and resolves itself quickly. The response to being stuck in traffic may not.
The body makes the “stress hormone”, cortisol, to handle the normal stresses of day-to-day living. But in an emergency situation, the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, secrete increased amounts of this hormone until the emergency passes. Then the body returns to its normal function. Unfortunately, however, chronic stress is more complex. When our body is subjected to increased amounts of the hormone, cortisol, for an extended time, it can lead to a condition known as “adrenal burnout” or “adrenal fatigue.” While it’s true that very large amounts of cortisol can have damaging effects on our hormones, too little cortisol doesn’t allow us to respond to stress properly. It’s really a matter of balance.
Q. How can I control the stress in my life and re-energize?
A. Many people who are under constant stress may have adrenal burnout. Adrenal burnout occurs when the adrenal glands are constantly producing cortisol in response to chronic stress. Over time, this exhausts the adrenal reserve, meaning the adrenal gland can no longer increase cortisol production in response to stress.
The good news is that changes in our hormone levels can return to normal when stress is decreased. The key in learning how to deal with daily stress is to allow the body to return to its normal state. I discuss additional techniques for coping with stress in my recent book Three Steps to Happiness! Healing Through Joy (see my website, www. jacobeitelbaum .com, for more information). In addition to stress control, it is important to supplement your adrenals with a glandular therapy regimen to ensure healthy cortisol levels and adrenal function. Glandular therapy, which uses the concentrated forms of bovine (cow) or porcine (pig) glands, can improve the health of our glands. Pioneers in the field of endocrinology (the study of hormones) hypothesized that glandular extracts work by providing nutrients the body lacked and thus repaired the malfunctioning gland.
If you are one of the unlucky folks with stressed-out adrenal glands, you should see great results from taking raw adrenal supplements. Be sure to buy adrenal extract supplement that contains both whole adrenal and cortex adrenal.
The best adrenal supplement should also contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid and licorice. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which is broken down into glycyrrhizic or glycyrrhetinic acid. This compound inhibits the activity of an enzyme that turns active cortisol into inactive cortisol. While in high amounts (greater than 100 mg of glycyrrhizic acid/day), licorice administration causes hypertension, no such effects have been observed at lower doses. Experts have speculated that inhibition of the cortisol-converting enzyme may reduce cortisol-related symptoms associated with adrenal insufficiency. The adrenal glands use these nutrients to manufacture cortisone and other compounds. It just makes sense to purchase an adrenal supplement with these supportive ingredients.
Did your grandmother ever tell you to eat your liver so that you didn’t get “tired blood?” Well, it turns out that she was right. Liver extract is another glandular extract that can help improve energy levels.
Liver extract is an excellent source of highly bioavailable nutrients including iron, B vitamins (especially B12), and other minerals. The stamina and energy-enhancing benefits of liver are widely touted. Liver extract has been shown to support healthy function of the liver and increase the energy levels inside our body.
Because heat will destroy the key components in the liver, a high quality liver extract supplement should be cold-processed and encapsulated to enhance speed and absorption of nutrients from liver. A high quality aqueous liver extract supplement should also contain vitamin B12 to support healthy blood iron and oxygen levels to energize.
Q. It will be great to get a good night’s sleep. Are there also any other natural alternatives that could help promote relaxation and increase my energy levels during the day?
A. Yes, there are. Rhodiola rosea is an all-natural herb that has long been used to help relieve stress and increase energy. Rhodiola has also been used to lift our moods, improve sexual satisfaction, and even help in certain nervous system disorders. First used in Siberia and
In clinical trials, the most effective Rhodiola rosea extract was found to contain 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside. While there are many Rhodiola supplements in health food stores, only those containing these specific amounts can provide the best results.
Altered digestion, food intolerances, decreased energy, fatigue, cognitive problems, and sleeplessness create the need for changes in daily living routines. These can include alterations in diet; exercise modifications; alterations in activities of daily living according to one’s energy level; and sleep/rest management. All may require the assistance of a professional clinician, such as a chiropractor, nutrition specialist, physical and/or occupational therapist, mental health professional, or sleep therapist.
Super busy lives demand super strength nutrition. Begin each day with a powdered nutritional supplement after getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night. In addition to the nutritional beverage mix, a vitamin B complex supplement should be taken every morning. The nutritional drink mix and the vitamin B complex supplement will ensure that your body has all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients to combat your fatigue. Taking a daily adrenal supplement, like the one discussed earlier, will provide the much needed (and often depleted) nutrients your body may be lacking, and help you recover lost energy. Rhodiola rosea, and ginseng can offer additional natural nutritional support in your busy life to boost your energy levels. These nutritional supplements can be used daily and you will feel energized to get through each day’s challenges and opportunities!
Peppermint Oil for IBS
March 24, 2007 11:01 AM
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a painful and frequently frustrating disorder of the intestines that’s often difficult to treat. Fortunately, there are scientifically studied natural products that effectively reduce the distressing symptoms of IBS.
Q. What is IBS?
A. IBS causes crampy pain, gassiness, bloating, and alterations in bowel habits. IBS is termed a functional disorder, because when the colon is examined, there is no visible sign of disease. While IBS causes significant pain and distress, no actual damage is occurring in the intestines.
There is a wide variability in IBS. Symptoms may be mild and fairly well tolerated. Or, the pain, discomfort, and bowel dysfunction may be disabling, limiting social interactions, employment, or travel.
While some individuals with IBS have diarrhea (frequent, loose stools with an urgent need to move the bowels), others have constipation (hard, infrequent stools that are difficult to pass). And, still others may experience both. Individuals with IBS also may have painful abdominal cramps and feel an urgent need to move the bowels, but are unable to do so.
A. The small intestine receives digestive material from the stomach and delivers it to the large intestine (colon). About two quarts (2,000 ml) of digestive material enter the colon from the small intestine every day. The colon absorbs water and salts from the material, which is progressively moved through the colon. This progressive movement continues until most of the fluid and salts are absorbed into the body and stool is formed. The stool passes to the left side of the colon, where it is stored until a bowel movement occurs.
Because researchers haven’t been able to find actual damage in the colon, it once was suggested that individuals with IBS have emotional problems or are overly susceptible to stress. While stress may cause symptoms of IBS to intensify, it doesn’t cause the condition.
Recent study has determined the colon muscle of an individual with IBS spasms after only mild stimulation. It’s thought the symptoms of IBS are produced by hyperactivity of the intestines. In other words, the intestines of individuals with IBS are more reactive to stressors and diet than usual. Almost everyone has experienced abdominal queasiness in response to everyday stress or certain foods. This may result in a brief bout of diarrhea or an upset stomach. However, this response is exaggerated in individuals with IBS.
Q. How prevalent is IBS?
A. IBS is very common. In fact, it’s one of the most frequent problems seen by family physicians. It’s the most common disorder diagnosed by gastroenterologists (physicians specializing in the treatment of digestive disorders). The overall prevalence rates range from 10% to 20% of the general population in most industrialized countries. As a result, the pain and disabling symptoms associated with IBS result in significant socioeconomic costs, as wall as reduction in quality of life for many individuals.
A. Normal bowel function varies from person to person. Some people move their bowels daily, while others may only have two to three stools a week. A normal bowel movement is soft, formed, and is easily passed without cramping or pain.
IBS, however, causes abdominal cramps and pain, which are often severe and disabling. Bowel movements may be irregular and alternate between diarrhea and constipation. The diarrhea may be quite loose and watery. Mucous may be passed. There is often much straining, urgency, and feeling of incomplete evacuation (emptying). Abdominal bloating and passing of gas is common. Nausea, lack of appetite, heartburn, and belching may also be present. Sleep may be disrupted resulting in fatigue and lack of energy. Understandably, persons with IBS often feel anxious and depressed.
Diagnosis of IBS is usually based on the continuous presence or recurrence of these symptoms for at least three months. Other intestinal conditions must be ruled out. These include Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, inflammatory conditions of the stomach or pancreas, ulcers, infectious disease, or gastroesphageal reflux disease.
Q. Are there clinically demonstrated natural alternatives to the over-the-counter drugs prescribed by my doctor?
A. Yes, both enteric-coated peppermint oil and clown’s mustard (in combination with other herbs) have significant scientific research behind them. Both have been demonstrated to benefit individuals with IBS.
Q. What is clown’s mustard and what does it do?
A. The scientific name for clown’s mustard is Iberis amara. Other names for this herb are wild candytuft and bitter candytuft. Clown’s mustard is a white-flowering plant from Spain, where it grows in dry soil on hillsides and in cornfields. It is also grown in Britain, France, and the United States. Iberis amara is a member of the Brassicaceae family. Iberis refers to its place of origin, the Iberian Peninsula. Amara means bitter. The key components of clown’s mustard are glycosides and flavonoids that have specific actions on gastrointestinal tract tone.
Q. Is there scientific evidence that clown’s mustard benefits people with IBS?
A. There has been very impressive research on clown’s mustard (in combination with other herbs). And, it has been used with great success in Germany for many years to treat IBS and other gastrointestinal diseases.
In a study of an herbal combination containing clown’s mustard, 20 patients were given the herbal combination for three to 32 days. They all had been diagnosed with chronic functional disorders for at least one to 20 years. The symptoms the patients experienced included pressure and pain in the abdomen, belching, heartburn, vomiting, nausea, fullness, lack of appetite, constipation, and diarrhea. The patients have been treated for their problems with a variety of antacids, anti-spasmodic agents, and motility-inducing substances. For the purposes of the study, the patients stopped taking these medications and received treatment only with the herbal combination.
Abdominal pressure and pain in the abdomen was the most common of all the experienced symptoms, with 11 of the patients rating it as severe. After six days of treatment, only sic of the patients continued to rate their abdominal pain and pressure as severe. After two weeks, this symptom had completely resolved for 16 of the patients. Diarrhea had been rated as severe in five of the patients. By day 14, only one patient continued to have moderate diarrhea.
Medications prescribed and taken for cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases often cause gastrointestinal problems. Because these conditions are chronic, these medications must be taken for a long time, often for life. With long-term use, these medications can cause erosion of the stomach lining and actual ulcers. Many of these medication-caused symptoms are similar to IBS symptoms: pressure and pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, abdominal fullness, and lack of appetite. Most, if not all, of the individuals who have gastrointestinal problems caused from medications experience two or more of these IBS symptoms.
Forty patients who were taking medications for various types of cardiovascular disease and arthritis, and who are experiencing gastrointestinal problems related to their medications, were enrolled in a study. These symptoms included pressure and pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, abdominal fullness, and lack of appetite. Twenty patients received clown’s mustard combined with other herbs that support gastrointestinal motility. Three days after the trial started, a significant improvement of all s symptoms was noted in those taking this combination. By day 14, abdominal pressure and pain, nausea, and heartburn were completely eliminated in the herbal combination group. Several other clinical trials that were conducted in Germany report similar results.
Q. How does this herb compare to prescription drugs?
A. A study compared clown’s mustard (combined with other herbs) to Reglan (metoclopramide), which is frequently prescribed to reduce the symptoms of IBS. While metoclopramide is a very effective medication, it also has numerous side effects. Metoclopramide can cause fatigue, anxiety, agitation, jitteriness, insomnia, yellowing of the skin or eyes, changes in vision, hallucinations, and seizures. Because of these serious side effects, metoclopramide must not be taken longer than 12 weeks.
In comparison study, 77 subjects were randomized to receive treatment of either clown’s mustard in a combination with other herbs, or metoclopramide. All subjects had pain and pressure in the abdomen, cramping, abdominal fullness, nausea, heartburn, and lack of appetite. The subjects took 20 drops of their assigned treatment after meals three times daily. The duration of treatment was one to two weeks.
In both groups, a parallel improvement of all symptoms was observed. At no point in the study was a statistically significant difference in symptoms found. Both treatments significantly reduced pain and pressure in the abdomen, cramping, abdominal fullness, nausea, heartburn, and lack of appetite. In short, both metoclopramide and the clown’s mustard herbal combination worked well at reducing the symptoms of IBS.
However, side effects occurred more frequently and severely in the metoclopramide group. Given the lack of differences noted between the products at reducing symptoms of IBS, it would seem sensible to choose the treatment with the fewest reported side effects and no limits on duration of use.
A. Peppermint oil has been shown to relax intestinal smooth muscle. In Great Britain, peppermint oil is currently being prescribed for IBS by physicians and it has been used as a digestive aid and to soothe upset stomachs for generations.
Peppermint oil has also been studied for use in an important examination of the colon. A colonoscopy is a procedure of viewing the interior lining of the large intestine (colon) using a colonoscope, a slender, flexible, hollow, lighted tube about the thickness of a finger. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine supports the idea that even people who are not at risk for colon cancer should have this test. The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at average risk of colon cancer should have a colonoscopy every 10 years, beginning at age 50.
During a colonoscopy, individuals are sedated and almost no discomfort is experienced. The insertion of the colonoscope into the rectum and up through the colon causes some spasming. This is a natural and expected event and the physician performing the exam administers medications that effectively reduce the spasms.
A recent study compared the use of peppermint oil and commonly used medications to reduce the colonic spasming in colonoscopy. The peppermint oil was introduced directly into the colon. Effective reduction of colon spasming was observed in 88% of the patients.
In a critical review and meta-analysis of peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, eight randomized controlled trials were identified. The studies collectively showed peppermint oil is superior to placebo in improvement of the symptoms of IBS. Because of the good results of these trials, the authors of the review urged additional study of peppermint oil in IBS.
However, straight peppermint oil is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream from the stomach. In recent studies comparing enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules and non-enteric coated oil, both preparations provided effective symptom relief. However, the studies concluded the enteric-coated capsules delivered the benefit of the peppermint oil directly to the intestines. In the treatment of IBS, enteric-coated supplemental peppermint is most definitely preferred.
In fact, an enteric-coated peppermint oil capsule containing rosemary and thyme is extremely effective in the treatment of IBS. All three of these oils are classified as volatile oils, derivatives found in plants that impart taste and aroma. The combination of peppermint, thyme, and rosemary oils in enteric-coated capsules provides significant relief in IBS-related pain.
Q. Can clown’s mustard and other herbs be taken with enteric-coated peppermint oil?
A. Yes, peppermint oil capsules and clown’s mustard can be used together. However, depending on the symptoms, individuals with IBS may want to start with one supplement and then add the other if needed.
Q. How do consumers find these formulas?
A. Fortunately, herbal combinations containing clown’s mustard and enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules are both available at health food stores, natural product supermarkets, pharmacies, and from health professionals. Most knowledgeable sales personnel and health professionals can direct consumers to the most effective products.
Q. What should customers look for when purchasing peppermint oil?
A. As mentioned before, enteric coating of the peppermint oil is extremely important. The coating prevents the oil from being absorbed in the stomach. The enteric coated-capsule moves through the stomach to the small intestine and eventually to the colon, where it is released for maximum benefit.
Q. What is the dosage for peppermint oil?
A. The German Commission E approved peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable colon. In enteric-coated form, the Commission E recommends 0.6 ml per day. Enteric-coated peppermint capsules are available.
Q. Are there side effects or other contraindications?
A. Sometimes, the enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules may cause a transient burning sensation in the rectum when moving bowls. Reducing the dose will correct this.
Individuals who must refrain from alcohol should not take clown’s mustard in an herbal tincture, which may contain alcohol.
Q. What else can IBS patients do to feel better?
A. Food allergies or food intolerance may be associated with IBS. Dairy products and certain grains may trigger a painful episode of IBS. Determining those foods that initiate the problems and eliminating them from your diet can be very helpful.
Many people report their symptoms occur after a meal. Hyperactivity of the intestine of IBS is the response. Often, the strength of this response after a meal is in direct relation to the number of calories and he amount of fat in the meal. Reducing saturated fat, limiting calories, and increasing fiber intake may be helpful.
Stress also stimulates the intestinal hyperactivity. Relaxation training may reduce some IBS symptoms. Listening to therapeutic audiotapes, hypnosis, counseling, and biofeedback all have been shown to improve the healing response in persons with IBS.
IBS can be painful and frustrating, capable of causing much distress. While currently there is no cure for IBS, the symptoms can be managed. The pain, abdominal discomfort, and bowel problems of IBS all respond well to treatment with the use of key herbs, including clown’s mustard, and enteric-coated peppermint oil. These herbal combinations can be both effective and safe in treating IBS. Clown’s mustard and enteric-coated peppermint oil are both effective front-line natural alternatives for IBS treatment.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia
February 28, 2007 12:02 PM
This is a fast paced world. We are all busy; living our full lives, burning the candle at both ends. We all get tired. We all get sick from time to time and maybe even depressed. But the illness called chronic fatigue syndrome is not like the normal ups and downs that we experience in everyday life. People with chronic fatigue syndrome feel overwhelming fatigue, and often pain as well. This is an illness that does not go away with a few good nights’ sleep. It drags on and on and doesn’t resolve itself. It steals vigor and energy over months, and sometimes even years.
In this issue of Ask the Doctor, we will talk about powerful vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs combined in scientifically validated formulas that people with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia can use every day. These nutrients help address some root problems of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia by restoring energy and health to sufferers.
Q. What is chronic fatigue syndrome?
A. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a group of symptoms associated with unrelenting and debilitating fatigue. The profound weakness of CFS causes a persistent and substantial reduction in activity level. You feel too tired to do normal activities or are easily exhausted for no apparent reason.
Besides extreme fatigue, symptoms of CFS include general pain, mental fogginess, flu-like symptoms, and gastrointestinal problems. A list of symptoms includes:
The number of symptoms and the severity of these symptoms can vary among people. The symptoms of CFS hand on or reoccur frequently for more than six months.
Q. Are chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia considered being the same illness?
A. Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a painful shortening of muscles throughout the body. FMS is basically a sleep disorder characterized by many tender knots in the muscles. These tender knots, called tender or trigger points, are a major cause of the achiness that people with fibromyalgia and CFS feel.
Approximately 80 percent of chronic fatigue syndrome patients have received and overlapping diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome. For most people, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are the same illness.
Q. What causes chronic fatigue syndrome?
A. There are many causes that can trigger CFS. Current research is looking at the roles of neuroendocrine dysfunction, viruses, environmental toxins, genetic predisposition, food sensitivities, yeast overgrowth, faulty digestion, or a combination of these factors.
For many people, CFS is triggered by a bout with a viral illness (like a cold or the flu), or even a stressful event. CFS is usually a mix of underlying causes. It is like a domino effect in that each problem can trigger another problem, and so on. For example, fatigue and poor sleep can trigger a weakened immune system, which can, in turn, trigger yeast or bacterial infections.
Q. Who gets chronic fatigue syndrome?
A. CFS is more common than you might expect. It strikes people of all ages, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Approximately 800,000 people nationwide have CFS and over six million have fibromyalgia at any given time.
It is important to stress that CFS is a real illness; it is not “just in your head.” Unfortunately, sufferers of CFS may find that many healthcare practitioners discount the symptoms of this illness or misdiagnose it as another disease. This can lead to additional emotional suffering.
Q. How long does chronic fatigue syndrome last?
A. The illness varies greatly in its duration. Some people recover after a year or two. More often, those who recover are more likely to do so three to five years after onset. Yet for some people, the illness seems to simply persist. There are rare cases of spontaneous improvement after five years without undergoing any treatment. However, this is very unusual.
Q. What are the complications of chronic fatigue syndrome?
A. The patterns of CFS vary from individual to individual. However, many common patterns of symptoms are seen in CFS sufferers. These symptoms and problems interact and create new symptoms and problems. For example, infections and disrupted sleep can lead to digestive, hormone, and immune problems.
The most notorious pattern seen in CFS is the one in which a person suddenly comes down with a flu-like illness that doesn’t go away. These viral or bacterial infections can suppress the body’s master gland, the hypothalamus. Since the hypothalamus controls the other glands, including the adrenals, ovaries, testes, and thyroid, suppression of this gland will lead to a subtle but debilitating decrease in the functioning of all glands and their hormones. Suppressed hypothalamic function from chronic infections can then trigger sleep dysfunction.
The suppression of the hypothalamus gland can lead to poor sleep because the body confuses its day/night cycles. Because of this, people with CFS have trouble staying in the deep, restorative stages of sleep that “recharge their batteries.”
Poor sleep can cause immune suppression, which may lead to secondary bowel infections. The bowel infections seen in people with CFS can cause decreased absorption of nutrients, which can lead to chronic vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Q. Is there a cure for chronic fatigue syndrome?
A. Treating chronic fatigue syndrome presents a significant challenge to people with CFS and their healthcare practitioners. Recently, a published placebo-controlled study ( of which I was the lead investigator) showed that when using an integrated treatment approach, over 85 percent of CFS and fibromyalgia patients can improve, often dramatically. The full text of this study can be seen at ‘www.endfatigue.com’. An editorial in the April 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Pain Management noted that this treatment, which I developed, is now a highly effective and excellent part of the standard of practice for treatment of fibromyalgia. Since this treatment addresses many different problems associated with CFS/FMS, it needs to be individualized to each patient.
Medications that provide symptom relief are frequently the first line of treatment chosen by healthcare practitioners for the person with CFS. These include medications for pain, sleep disturbances; digestive problems such as nausea, depression and anxiety, and flu-like symptoms.
However, medications have not been universally successful because they tent to put a bandage on symptoms instead of addressing the root problems. Because of this, medications may need to be supplemented by the other supportive therapies that can address the root problems.
People with CFS/FMS may be depressed, given the catastrophic lifestyle disruption these diseases may cause. They may also feel guilt and frustration because their symptoms were not taken seriously for such a long time. Fear can be a factor as employment and family relationships may be jeopardized by this illness.
Therapies that help people to relax and improve coping skills may be helpful and include counseling for emotional and mental health, cognitive behavioral therapy, sleep management therapy, and massage.
Daily Nutritional Supplementation for Energy
Good overall nutrition is important for everyone, of course. However, there are several vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that can have powerful nutritional effects for a person with CFS. All of the vitamins and minerals in a chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia formula should work together synergistically to help improve energy levels and overall health. Here are some key nutrients to look for in an energy formula:
Vitamins, Minerals & Other Key Ingredients
Vitamin A: Essential for healthy skin and mucous membrane integrity, healthy immune system responses and healthy bone growth and healthy reproductive processes. Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene is an antioxidant and free radical fighter. Vitamin E: Helps to relieve pain in CFS patients. Can also improve night leg cramps, which interferes with sleep.
Vitamin C: Enhances immune function by increasing natural killer cells, B and T cells. Can prevent chronic bladder infections by acidifying urine.
Vitamin D: Regulates immune functions of monocytes and neutrophils. Neutraphils are white blood cells that ingest invasive bacteria, and act as the first line of defense once bacteria makes it past the skin barrier.
Magnesium: Involved with immune support. Working with malic acid, enhances immune function by increasing natural killer cells. Magnesium is also critical for the relief of muscle pain.
Inositol: Enhances immune function by increasing natural killer cells.
Malic Acid: Working with magnesium, improves energy levels by improving cellular functions. Especially important in muscle metabolism.
Betaine: Works with B vitamins to synthesize amino acids, and acts as a precursor to SAM-e. SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine) is a naturally-occurring molecule in the body, and may have an effect on overall mood elevation.
Amino Acids: Glycine, Serine, Taurine, Tyrosine are essential for the production of energy in the body. Also essential for brain function.
Zinc: Supports the immune system by enhancing neutrophils activity and supporting healthy antigen-antibody binding.
Selenium: Supports immune function by enhancing antibody production.
Fructooligosaccharides: Provides nutrition for good bacteria in the intestinal tract, improving digestion and healthy microflora.
All of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional supplements on the list are important to ensure recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome. To ensure that your nutritional supplement regimen contains all of these ingredients, look for a powdered supplement formulated specifically for CFS/FMS sufferers that can be reconstituted in a beverage of your choice. A powdered drink mix is a pleasant, easy way to ensure that you are taking all of the needed vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that will give you the needed energy to recover from your illness.
B Vitamin Complex for Energy
In addition to the powdered energy drink mix, it is important that you also take a vitamin B-complex supplement specifically formulated for people with CFS/FMS. The B vitamin formula, which should include niacinamide, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, and choline, is especially important to restore the energy production needs of your body, as well as for mental function. It is also important to make sure that the dosages are high enough CFS/FMS needs. The chart in the next column lists the B vitamins that are critical for people suffering from CFS/FMS.
B Vitamins Effect on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Studies have demonstrated that people with CFS/FMS are often deficient in many of the B vitamins, which tends to worsen their symptoms of fatigue and mental “fogginess” and ultimately lead to a weakened immune system.
B vitamins - Effect on Energy
Thiamine (B1) - Essential in the process of energy production. This vitamin also removes lactic acid from muscles, which causes them to be sore in fibromyalgia patients.
Riboflavin (B2) - Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is crucial in the production of body energy. Supports healthy gluthathione reductase activity, which helps maintain gluthathione, a major protector against free radical damage. Vitamin B2 itself also has antioxidant qualities.
Niacinamide(B3) - Essential vitamin that is a component of the body’s energy furnace, helping to improve fatigue and “brain fog”.
Pantothenic Acid (B5) - This vitamin improves adrenal gland function, which will boost energy levels. It can also aid in weight loss by decreasing appetite.
Vitamin B6 - Working along with thiamine, this vitamin is critical in the process of energy production.
Vitamin B12 - Important for brain function and nerve repair. Aids in relieving fatigue symptoms in CFS patients. Folic Acid - Aids in strengthening the immune system, and aids in mental clarity and concentration.
Q. What other supplements can help me with CFS?
A. Many people with CFS/FMS are suffering from adrenal burnout. Adrenal burnout occurs when the adrenal glands are constantly producing cortisol in response to chronic stress like that seen in cases of CFS. Over time, this exhausts the adrenal reserve, meaning the adrenal gland can no longer increase cortisol production in response to stress.
The good news is that changes in our hormone levels can return to normal when stress is decreased. However, in cases of CFS that return to normal can be made much simpler by using a glandular therapy regimen to ensure healthy cortisol levels and adrenal function.
Glandular therapy uses the concentrated forms of bovine (cow) or porcine (pig) glands to improve the health of our glands. Pioneers in the field of endocrinology (the study of hormones) hypothesized that glandular extracts work by providing nutrients the body lacks and thus repairing the malfunctioning gland.
If CFS has left your adrenal glands in a stressed-out state, you should see great results by taking adrenal supplements. Be sure to buy an adrenal extract supplement that contains both whole adrenal and adrenal cortex extracts.
The best adrenal supplement should also contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, L-tyrosine, betaine, pantothenic acid and licorice. Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which is broken down into glycyrrhizic or glycyrrhetinic acid. This compound inhibits the activity of an enzyme that turns active cortisol into inactive cortisol. While in high amounts (greater than 100 mg of glycyrrhizic acid/day), licorice administration causes hypertension, no such effects have been observed at lower doses. Experts have speculated that inhibition of the cortisol-converting enzyme may reduce cortisol-related symptoms associated with adrenal insufficiency. The adrenal glands use these nutrients to manufacture cortisone and other compounds. It just makes sense to purchase an adrenal supplement with these supportive ingredients.
The Road to Recovery-Adequate Sleep
Disordered sleep is the underlying process that drives many of the symptoms of CFS/FMS. The most effective way to eliminate pain in CFS/FMS is to get seven to nine hours of deep sleep each night.
However, getting adequate sleep is easier said than done for CFS sufferers with underlying fibromyalgia symptoms. The muscle knots of fibromyalgia make it uncomfortable to lie in one position for an extended time, causing difficulty in returning to deep sleep. Because of this, people with CFS/FMS do not stay in deep stages of sleep to recharge their “batteries.” In addition, poor sleep can cause and be caused by the suppression of the hypothalamus gland, which causes the brain to think it is daytime instead of night time.
It may be helpful to use herbal products to promote good quality sleep. There are many natural supplements that are marketed as sleep formulas. To get the best results, it is very important that the right ingredients are in the sleep formula you buy. Therefore, it is important to look for an herbal sleep formula that is especially formulated for people with CFS/FMS. The combination of herbs is important as each herb addresses a different aspect of sleeplessness and muscle tension.
Ingredients - Effect on Sleep
Wild Lettuce - Has been found to have sedative effects.
Hops - Acts as mild sedative and has a sleep-inducing effect. Jamaica Dogwood Has been found to be mildly sedative and is often used for anxiousness.
L-Theanine - Causes significant increases of neurotransimitter concentrations in the brain, which promotes muscle relaxion and improves sleep.
Valerian - This herb has been clinically studied for its ability to improve sleep quality.
Passionflower - This herb eases nervousness and insomnia.
Putting It All Together
After a good night’s rest, a powdered energy drink mix formulated for people with CFS/FMS should be drunk along with a well-balanced breakfast as discussed earlier. In addition to the nutritional beverage mix, a vitamin B complex supplement designed specifically for CFS sufferers, also discussed earlier, containing niacinamide, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, and choline, should be taken every morning. The nutritional drink mix and the vitamin B complex supplement will ensure that your body has all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients, to combat your overwhelming fatigue, pain, and “brain fog.” Taking a daily adrenal supplement, like the one discussed earlier, will provide the much-needed (and often depleted) nutrients your body may be lacking, and help you recover lost energy.
Together, these four interventions: sleep formula; morning energy drink; energy B complex supplement; and an adrenal complex- can make an incredible difference that you should begin to notice within 2-3 weeks of starting this program.
Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are complex physical diseases with physical causes. The unrelenting symptoms of fatigue, pain, and mental fogginess can be overwhelming and frightening. Partnering with a healthcare practitioner specializing in CFS and utilizing different medical treatments, supportive therapies, and lifestyle changes are healthy ways to combat chronic fatigue syndrome. And taking nutritional supplements formulated specifically for people with CMS/FMS that help boost energy or help you get a good night’s sleep can give you critical control over the outcome of your illness and set you on the road to recovery.
Controlling Diabetes with Nutritional Supplements
December 15, 2006 04:07 PM
Controlling Diabetes with Nutritional Supplements
Perhaps no other disease is as closely linked to nutrition as diabetes. Not only doe nutrition play a role in its development, nutrition is also one of the disease’s most powerful treatments.
Because of this strong and critical connection to nutrition, researchers have carefully studied the use of nutritional supplements in the treatment of the disease. They found that many vitamins, such as vitamin C and the B vitamins, minerals such as chromium, as well as herbs like Gymnema sylvestre, can safely, effectively, and naturally lower blood sugars and help prevent diabetic complications.
What is even more important, however, is that these vitamins, minerals, and herbs can be combined together in a scientifically validated diabetic formula to work synergistically. That means their combined effectiveness is even more powerful. Like a group of good friends, these vitamins, minerals, and herbs do their best work when they are all together.
In this issue of Ask the Doctor, we will talk about powerful vitamins, minerals, and herbs combined in a scientifically validated formula that people with diabetes can use every day.
But before we get into the specific formula, we need to first talk about diabetes.
Q. What exactly is diabetes?
A. When we eat, the process of digestion breaks down our food into nutrients. Most of the food we eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose). The sugar enters the bloodstream for delivery throughout the body and is then called blood sugar.
Insulin, a hormone that helps metabolize blood sugar, is made in the pancreas-a long, skinny gland located behind the stomach. Insulin takes blood sugar from the bloodstream and delivers it into the cells that make up the various organs in our body, such as our heart, lungs, and kidneys. The sugar provides energy to the cells to keep our hearts beating, our lungs breathing, and our kidneys excreting.
Type 1 diabetes, sometimes called insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes, most often starts in childhood. In this type of diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin. The sugar stays in the blood instead of going into the cells where it is needed. Because of this, all people with Type 1 diabetes have to take at least one shot of insulin every day just to stay alive.
Type 2 diabetes most often starts in adults and is also the most common kind. About 90 to 95 percent of all people with diabetes have Type 2. In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is usually producing enough insulin. However, the body does not use it effectively. The condition known as “insulin resistance” occurs when the cells do not respond to (resist) insulin’s attempt to enter with glucose. The pancreas responds by producing more and more insulin. When the cells do not respond, high levels of glucose build up in the blood, leading to Type 2 diabetes. Almost everyone with Type 2 diabetes also is insulin resistant. Because the insulin is left unused, the pancreas thinks it isn’t needed and may eventually stop making it. People with Type 2 diabetes often need to take prescription drugs to lower blood sugar levels if dietary and lifestyle changes are not enough to control the problem.
In both types of diabetes, the sugar stays in the bloodstream instead of going into the cells where it is needed and belongs. When blood sugar builds up in the blood, it causes two problems. First, the cells become starved for energy. And, over a period of time, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys.
Q. What causes diabetes?
A. While scientists aren’t exactly sure why Type 1 diabetes happens, they do know the immune system is involved. A healthy immune system protects us from diseases caused by infections, such as colds or the flu, as well as diseases that start in our own cells, such as cancer. For some reasons, in certain people, the immune system becomes confused and begins attacking and destroying the cells in the pancreas that makes insulin.
Scientists aren’t exactly sure why Type 2 diabetes happens either; however, they have identified that it occurs most often in certain individuals. About 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight, have high blood pressure, and have high cholesterol levels in their blood.
Q. What are the symptoms of diabetes?
A. Type 1 diabetes develops very quickly. The classic signs of diabetes include:
-Frequent urination, because the body is trying to get rid of the excess sugar in the blood
-Intense thirst, because the body needs to replace the fluid lost through the urine
-Increased hunger, because the cells need nutrients
-Weight loss, because without insulin, the body begins to starve
The onset of Type 2 diabetes is often very gradual and may develop without any symptoms at all. Sadly, the diagnosis most often is made only after a complication of the disease happens.
Q. What are the complications of diabetes?
A. The complications of diabetes happen in both types of the disease. All diabetic complications are caused by chronically high blood sugars. The longer your blood sugar levels are elevated, the greater your chances are of having complications.
High blood sugar damages blood vessels. When high levels of sugar are continuously in the blood, the blood vessels become thicker and less flexible, causing poor circulation. Poor circulation can impair healing, especially on the feet and lower legs. High blood sugar also causes higher levels of fat in the bloodstream. The fat clogs and narrows the blood vessels. Partial blockages deprive the heart of some necessary nutrients. A complete blockage can result in a heart attack, heart pain (called angina), or stroke.
Nerve damage makes it hard for your nerves to send messages to the brain and other parts of the body. It may cause you to lose feeling in parts of your body or have a painful pins-and-needles-like feeling. While nerve damage most often affects the feet and legs, it can also affect other parts of the body.
Diabetes can damage and weaken the small blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye that is sensitive to light and helps you see. When the blood vessels are weak, they can leak fluid, which causes swelling in the eye. The swelling blurs your vision. If the eye damage gets worse, your eye attempts to fix this damage by making new blood vessels over the retina. But because these blood vessels are fragile, they can break open easily and bleed into the eye. Scar tissue can then form. This may cause the retina to break away from the back of the eye, which can lead to visual impairment-even blindness.
Diabetes can also damage the blood vessels in the kidney so it can’t filter out the body’s waste. High blood pressure is also associated with kidney damage. If you have diabetes and high blood pressure, it is important to keep them both under control as much as possible. The longer blood sugar levels are left uncontrolled, the greater the amount of kidney damage that can occur. If the kidney damage isn’t stopped, some individuals may progress to needing kidney transplants or dialysis machines.
All of these complications, however, can almost always be prevented.
Q. How can the complications of diabetes be prevented?
A. Vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements can provide powerful tools for preventing serious complications and keeping people with diabetes healthy. The best nutritional supplement contains powerful vitamins, minerals, and herbs in a synergistic formula that can effectively lower blood sugars and provide the specialized nutrients people with diabetes need.
Q. Which vitamins, minerals, and herbs should be included in a nutritional supplement for people with diabetes?
A. The vitamins, minerals, and herbs in a diabetic formula should work synergistically and be clinically demonstrated to help prevent the known complications of diabetes. To get the best results, it is very important that the right ingredients are in the diabetic formula you buy.
Q. How often should I take a diabetic formula supplement?
A. Read the label of the diabetic formula you are considering buying. Most quality products need to be taken twice a day. Keep in mind that you will still need to take a high quality multivitamin in addition to the diabetic formula supplement. A diabetic formula is complementary. That means that it is designed to be and addition to your multivitamin routine, not a replacement.
Q. Could the diabetic formula lower my blood sugar level too much?
A. In general, too low blood sugar levels should not be a problem. A high quality diabetic formula containing synergistic vitamins, minerals and herbs, most often lowers blood sugars to normal levels. However, these vitamins, minerals, and herbs will not excessively lower blood sugar levels that are already normal.
Q. Do I need to continue monitoring my blood sugar when taking a diabetic formula supplement?
A. Diabetes is a disease that requires active participation from you. You need to be aware of your problem and be in control of it as much as possible. If you use a home glucose monitor to check your blood sugars, you may feel more comfortable by checking your levels more frequently when you first take a diabetic formula supplement. You should always follow the recommendation of your doctor or a licensed health care practitioner regarding how often you should check your blood sugar levels.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (as well as most licensed health care practitioners), a good blood sugar range for most people with diabetes (before a meal) is from about 70 to 150. An ideal range is 70-120.
Taking a nutritional supplement formulated especially for diabetics that contain vitamins, minerals, and herbs that work synergistically in a scientifically valid formula will help you keep your blood sugars right where the
Q. Can’t I just take the diabetic formula supplement and not worry about my diet?
A. Unfortunately, you cannot. Successful diabetes management means doing lost of positive things. First, you need to see your licensed health care practitioner often. You need to choose foods wisely and stay active to have a positive influence on your blood sugar levels and your health. And, taking a diabetic formula supplement every day can really help. However, the diabetic formula supplement is meant to be an addition to your healthy diet, not a substitute.
Having diabetes might make you feel overwhelmed. Restrictions on what you may and may not eat might make you feel deprived and unfairly burdened. The possibility of disease complications may make you feel anxious and scared-even angry. It is only natural to ask “Why me?” Taking control of your diabetes, instead of letting it control you, can help with these feelings. Eating wisely and exercising every day are two important ways to improve your health. And, taking a nutritional supplement formulated specifically for people with diabetes every day can give you the critical control you need to direct your health for years to come. Many healthy years to come.
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
DO YOU HAVE A HEALTHY MAGNESIUM LEVEL?
May 09, 2006 02:39 PM
Ninety to ninety-five percent of the population are below healthy magnesium levels, including many who already use magnesium. Why? First, the amount of magnesium required by the body is greater than people think. Second, most magnesium capsules and tablets are not completely absorbed by the body.
SYMPTOMS OF MAGNESIUM DEPLETION
Millions suffer daily from the following symptoms of magnesium depletion:
Muscle spasms, cramps, jerks, tics and hiccups are all caused by a lack of magnesium. Take sufficient Natural Calm and they will disappear.
Phosphatidyl Serine - HEALTHY COGNITION BRAIN FUNCTION
December 21, 2005 11:04 AM
“To the dull mind, nature is leaden. To the illumined mind, the whole world burns and sparkles with light.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
From the moment we rise to the moment we rest, our brain is in a decision-making frenzy. When we’re thirsty, our brain tells us that we need water. When we’re hungry, it reminds us that we have a refrigerator full of food. When we’re tired, it lets us know that we need to sleep, and so on. But despite the thousands of decisions we make everyday, our brain still hasn’t figured out a way to let us know what it needs to func¬tion.
Though ironic, this raises a very serious issue. The human brain, like every other organ in the body, demands nutrition - period. Unfortunately, it leaves that up to us to figure out. Thanks to notable advance¬ments in research, we’re finally learning which nutri¬ents are most important for optimal brain function. Phosphatidyl Serine (PS) is a perfect example. This naturally occurring phospholipid has been the subject of numerous studies regarding its ability to boost cognitive function and delay (or potentially reverse) memory deterioration, and suggests that PS may be able to increase the effectiveness of neural transmissions. Interestingly, PS accounts for roughly 15% of the brain’s phospholipid supply. This is enor¬mous because phospholipids play a significant role in the billions of neurotransmissions that take place every second. Yes, billions.
Brain cells are constantly communicating with one another, and send astonishing amounts of impulses throughout the nervous system. This is accomplished via neurotransmitters - chemical messengers that send and receive impulses over the synapses of the brain and throughout the body. Mentally, we’re function¬ing at our best when these cells are well nourished. We can think more clearly, recall memories with ease and operate with greater efficiency. However, a de¬ficiency in neural-nutrients can prevent these mind messengers from functioning as they should. For¬tunately, PS has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier to deliver critical nutrients and remove mind-slowing waste.
Consider this. The brain functions in the same man¬ner that a major airport does around the holidays. There are millions of actions taking place. Impulses departing, nutrients arriving, endless communication, the occasional problem and more reactions than any¬one could possibly count. There’s confusion, delay and emotion, not to mention the endless series of transmissions that take place every second. Imagine PS as that ultra-motivated employee who shows up to work everyday anxious to expedite everything in sight. It helps neural travelers get to and from their respec¬tive gates, ensures that they have everything they need, simplifies processes that could result in breakdown, and clears isles that are cluttered with junk. Simply stated, PS is the brain’s overachieving go-getter.
PS can help us think more clearly.
It’s 3:06 in the afternoon and you’re scrambling to get to a meeting that you’re already late for. That fluster could be the result of poor neurotransmission caused by a deficiency in essential nutrients like PS. Moreover, these innocent brain-bursts can exhaust our PS reserves, leaving us somewhere hovering be¬tween frantic and sluggish. Every impulse, thought, action, reaction, movement, emotion and desire is the end result of neurotransmitters in action. PS is a major supporter of these actions. Therefore, as we increase the amount of PS in our system, we gain the ability to think and act with greater ease.
PS can reduce the adverse impacts of stress on our body and mind.
What do we do when we’re down in the dumps? While plopping down on the sofa with a snack might be an easy solution, it comes with a price. Not only does stress interfere with mood, but it can also inspire inactivity, over-eating and sluggishness. This is due largely in part to cortisol - a catabolic hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to emotional stress. Studies done to determine the effectiveness of PS on cortisol suppression have shown that it works by suppressing the hormones that produce cortisol. As a result, supplementing with PS may be able to help reduce the amount of stress related hormones that ultimately leave us singing the blues.
PS can expedite post workout recovery time.
Endurance athletes who carefully monitor their body’s response levels are increasingly turning to PS. Immediately following strenuous activity, the body responds by releasing adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) – a hormone that discourages testosterone and encourages cortisol. By limiting ACTH pro¬duction, PS reduces the amount of muscle tissue breakdown that occurs during exercise. A common misconception is that muscles grow during exercise - wrong. In fact, muscles are torn down during ex¬ercise and grow in-between workouts – hence the term recovery. During recovery, PS helps prevent the activity of growth-inhibiting hormones. This helps athletes recover faster so their gains are realized more quickly.
In short, Phosphatidyl Serine appears to be a completely safe and beneficial dietary supple¬ment that can offer a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. NOW® Phosphatidyl Serine is derived from soy leci¬thin, and includes Choline and Inositol – two metabolites that work synergistically to help in¬crease circulation and cognitive response.
PROGESTERONE REPLACEMENT AND MOOD SWINGS
July 25, 2005 10:10 PM
PROGESTERONE REPLACEMENT AND MOOD SWINGS
Consider the following quote concerning mood elevation and depression and progesterone replacement: The domino effect of the inter-relationship between amino acids, vitamins and neurotransmitters is further complicated by the presence of estrogen . . .
an estrogen overload can cause a number of distressing symptoms. Estrogen is a central nervous system stimulant while progesterone has the opposite effect. Maintaining the right balance between these two hormones is a complex and delicate process. Any imbalance can trigger a change in mood. In order to have enough serotonin, you need tryptophan which is necessary for its production. To have enough tryptophan, your body must have certain amounts of vitamin B6. This chemical chain can be broken by estrogen, which can block the action of vitamin B6 and force it to be eliminated from the body . . . consequently, you feel like the world is coming to an end.16
Ironically, synthetic forms of progesterone which are routinely prescribed to help with PMS related depression etc. can actually inhibit the absorption of vitamin B6, thereby contributing to emotional instability and mood swings.
Clinical depression, anxiety attacks and mood swings can all respond to natural progesterone therapy. In addition to opposing estrogen, progesterone stimulates the adrenal glands which help to elevate mood and create energy. One of the most dramatic effects of using natural progesterone is in creating emotional stability. In other words, fluctuating between euphoria and depression in response to hormonal flux is greatly eased by increased progesterone. The short-tempered, anxious or nervous states so typical of PMS are also tempered by keeping estrogen levels in check.
PROPER DOSAGES OF PYCNOGENOL CAN DETERMINE ITS EFFECTIVENESS
July 13, 2005 12:35 PM
PROPER DOSAGES OF PYCNOGENOL CAN DETERMINE ITS EFFECTIVENESS
Some doctors who have used Pycnogenol recommend a dose of 20 mg. for every 20 lbs. of body weight to obtain optimal results. This usually averages to approximately 150-200 mg. per person, per day. For therapeutic doses, a saturation level can be obtained by taking an increased amount of Pycnogenol initially and then tapering off to optimal body weight dosages.
PYCNOGENOL: LIFE-CHANGING COMPOUND
Supplementing the diet with nature’s most powerful antioxidants is certainly paramount in protecting ourselves and our families from the ravages of disease. Studies suggest the earlier we sta rt using Pycnogenol, the better for our biocellular health. While we anxiously await for the cure for cancer and other devastating diseases, we can arm our bodies with the most powerful protective nutrients available. Pycnogenol is the compound of choice.
A WORD CONCERNING TESTIMONIALS
Frequently, sensational claims emerge when new health supplements are introduced. Concerning Pycnogenol, accounts vary from anecdotal to scientific. Unquestionably, when it comes to vision problems, capillary weakness, prostate problems or any type of inflammatory problem, Pycnogenol has already compiled an impressive track record.
Cleanse That Body!
June 14, 2005 11:59 AM
Cleanse That Body! by Lisa James Energy Times, January 6, 2005
When toxins accumulate in your tissues, you can become fuzzy and sluggish. Here's how a New Year's internal cleansing can make you feel fresh and energized.
What's your New Year's resolution? Losing weight? Getting fit? Kicking the [fill-in-the-blank] habit? Whatever the shape of your dreams for 2005, it won't be easy launching a self-improvement program unless you give your body a fresh start. Where to begin? Detoxification-an internal cleansing that can supply the energy you need to succeed in achieving your goals.
No one can avoid toxins in our contaminated world, so many of us suffer from toxic overload, which can lead to fatigue, digestive problems and reduced immune function. " When we get out of balance, we get congested and toxic," says Elson Haas, MD, founder of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin in San Rafael, California (www.elsonhaas.com), and author of The New Detox Diet (Celestial Arts), "and our bodies' regular elimination systems cannot keep up with it. We have problems with our skin, our intestines, our sinuses. We also become deficient in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Most people have both congestion and deficiency, and they would benefit greatly from detoxification."
Toxins Within, Toxins Without
Life's fundamental activities-breathing, eating, walking around-generate waste in the form of free radicals, the unstable molecules that can ravage cells and tissues. What's more, Dr. Haas says that just "being under stress, being afraid, being anxious all produce more free radicals in the body" (like when a work deadline hits on the same day your car dies). When you add to your internal toxins all the noxious items coming from the outside, including the dietary ones, the recipe is very unhealthy.
" People are making poor choices in what they're putting in their mouths," says Dr. Haas. "They're taking in too much refined flour and sugar. There's a common problem in our country I call 'obese malnutrition'-people eating too many calories and not getting enough nutrition. People do a lot of junky fats and have a deficiency in the essential fatty acids that help protect cells."
Our bodies are also awash in manmade poisons such as food preservatives and additives, and residues from pesticides and herbicides. "The amount of toxic chemicals we are exposed to in our environment is staggering," says Susan Lark, MD, clinical nutrition expert and author of The Chemistry of Success (Bay Books). She notes that the average American is exposed to 14 pounds of such assorted chemical junk each year.
The body, however, does do its own housekeeping-and all of our cells detoxify every second of every day. "It's always a balance of garbage in, garbage out," says Dr. Haas, who has 30 years of experience in helping people detoxify. "Some of the toxins we break down into smaller components, some we just dump into the intestines for elimination."
Problems arise when there's more dirt than the internal maid service can sweep away. Dr. Lark notes that toxins wind up being stored in cells, especially fat cells, where they can hang out for years. When they are finally released "during times of low food intake, exercise or stress" complaints can range from tiredness to dizziness (sound familiar?).
That's where detoxification comes in, says Dr. Haas: "I think detoxification is a vital health care tool, particularly in this day and age when people are exposed to too many chemicals."
The process of detoxification starts with cleansing the intestinal system. Alternative health practitioners observe that discombobulated bowels can become overly permeable (a condition called leaky gut syndrome) and allow in all sorts of things that they shouldn't, such as semi-digested food particles, leading to inflammation and complaints that include rashes and joint pain.
Cleansing can be as simple as cutting down on what Dr. Haas calls the SNACCs-Sugar, Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine and Chemicals-or as thorough as a complete diet-and-supplement program with colonic irrigation (a sort of super-enema, professionally administered; if you're interested, contact the International Association of Colon Hydrotherapy at 210-366-2888 or www.i-act.org). The more powerful the program, though, the more likely you are to experience toxicity reactions such as nausea and headaches because of the volume of material being released. As Dr. Haas puts it:
" If you did water and green salads for a week, you'd detoxify more intensely than if you just gave up sugar and white flour." If you're feeling extremely rundown, take a gentle approach at first or consult a nutritionally aware practitioner, especially if you have a preexisting medical condition.
Getting more fiber is essential. Laurel Vukovic, a natural health teacher and author of 14-Day Herbal Cleansing (Prentice Hall), suggests following this daily regimen for two weeks: a teaspoon of psyllium (a fiber supplement); at least seven daily servings of fruits and vegetables, especially fiber-rich ones like apples, cabbage and carrots; and six glasses of water, along with daily exercise. Extra fiber "supports the intestines in eliminating the larger amounts of toxins that are released," says Vukovic, "prevent[ing] their reabsorption into the bloodstream." Some people find premixed cleansing formulas convenient; check your health food store shelves.
Fasting is a more intense detox approach that, according to Dr. Haas, "promotes relaxation and energization of the body, mind and emotions, and supports a greater spiritual awareness." He especially recommends fasting in the spring and autumn, which are times of transition. Some people do water-only fasts, but fresh vegetable juices are probably a better option, particularly if you haven't fasted before. Juices and plenty of fresh water also help cleanse the kidneys, another vital detox route.
Instead of juices you can use a special cleansing formula, such as the Spring Master Cleanser: 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup and 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper in 8 ounces of spring water. Dr. Haas recommends drinking eight to 12 glasses daily (and rinsing your mouth after each glass to protect your teeth from lemon's acids), augmented by water, laxative herb tea, and peppermint or chamomile tea.
Try fasting for a day to see how you feel. Dr. Haas suggests starting out by fasting from early evening through the night, and eating a light breakfast the following day. Subsequent fasts can gradually increase in length-experienced fasters may go up to two weeks without food.
Break your fast properly; for juice or cleansing formula fasts, eat a raw or cooked low-starch vegetable, such as spinach or other greens. "Go slowly, chew well and do not overeat or mix too many foods at any meal," says Dr. Haas.
Don't forget your liver, the organ that transforms noxious chemicals into substances your body can eliminate. The herb milk thistle, used since ancient times as a liver tonic, contains silymarin, which protects the liver from pollutants and helps it renew itself after toxic damage. Dandelion not only promotes the flow of bile from the liver, which helps clean out the junk, but also acts as a diuretic, helping the kidneys do their job. Green-food supplements, such as spirulina and cereal grasses, help neutralize toxins.
To maintain your cleansing gains, eat a healthy diet after detoxing. Focus on fresh organic foods, especially produce, beans and peas, whole grains and seeds (add organic poultry if you eat meat). Organic yogurt provides healthful probiotics, while fresh fish and ground flaxseeds provide omega-3 fats.
Clean Living Pays
The body's largest organ-the skin-provides a valuable contaminant exit path. Sitting in a hot tub or sauna "benefits the internal organs of detoxification," according to Dr. Lark, "by lessening the amount of toxins they must process." When sweatin' out the bad stuff, drink plenty of water and replace the calcium, magnesium and potassium lost through perspiration.
Another way to stimulate skin circulation is dry brushing, which also removes dead skin cells for a healthy glow (and is easier to fit into a daily routine). Using "a moderately soft, natural vegetable-fiber bristle brush" (Dr. Lark's suggestion), work in from the hands and up from the feet with light, short strokes that always move towards the heart. Vukovic says that a hot towel scrub is another option; put three drops of lavender essential oil in a basin of very hot water, dip in a rough terry washcloth and wring out, and then rub the skin briskly, starting with your feet and working your way up.
Once you've detoxified your body, you can start in on your immediate surroundings. Dr. Haas warns against using plastic food storage containers: "When food is heated in plastics some of the plastic material ends up in the food, especially if the food contains acids." Use glass containers instead. He also recommends avoiding aluminum pots and pans, and using stainless steel as an alternative.
Dr. Haas has seen what a good detox program can do: "It's amazing the kind of results people get-looking and feeling younger, more vital and healthy. They say, 'I'm sleeping like a baby,' they have fewer aches and pains. They have more peace in their bodies. I think detoxification is one of the keys to preventive medicine." So cleanse that body and let detoxification bring balance and renewal to your life.
Women and Depression!
June 13, 2005 07:48 PM
Women and Depression by Lisa James Energy Times, March 11, 2004
Just as fog veils a beautiful landscape, so depression veils life itself: rendering existence dark and dreary, narrowing the scope of one's dreams. And women are particularly prone to this lingering sadness.
The good news: Depression doesn't have to linger forever. With proper nutrition, lifestyle changes and a revived outlook, you can break through that fog into a sunnier emotional clime. Women are more likely than men to fall prey to depression throughout their lifetimes, with women being twice as likely as men to experience major depression.
While the greatest risk for both sexes falls at midlife, the gender difference appears early; one in ten teenage girls was found to suffer from major depression in one study (International Journal of Behavioral Development 2004; 28:16-25). What's more, childhood depression leaves a person more susceptible to mood problems in adulthood.
One reason for the gender difference in depression, according to researchers, is that women tend to dwell on depressed feelings to a greater degree than men. Some scientists believe a family history of depression carries greater weight for women. Others theorize that the inner fluctuations of a woman's monthly cycle can leave her susceptible to stresses emanating from the outer world. Studies indicate that almost three-quarters of all premenstrual women experience some level of mood difficulties (Summit on Women and Depression, APA, April 02), and a woman's hormonal ebb and flow may even make her more vulnerable to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the kind of depression linked to a lack of natural light.
Warning Signs Not surprisingly, many depressed folks feel sad and lethargic, down on themselves and the world. But in some people, depression is marked by agitation and concentration difficulties, or is accompanied by anxiety. Sleep disturbances-either insomnia or excessive sleepiness-often ensue, and activities that used to provide pleasure lose their appeal.
Breaking depression's grip can do more than just lighten your mood-it may help safeguard your health. Studies suggest depression dampens the immune response and may increase the risks of coronary heart disease and diabetes (Archives of General Psychiatry 2003; 60:1009-14; Circulation 2000; 102:1773; Diabetes Care 2004; 27:129-33).
Origins of Depression
The reasons some people are pulled down by depression's undertow while others are able to stay afloat emotionally are complex, but researchers believe common factors link them all.
One factor that can't be ignored is genetics. "If you are depressed, there is a 25% chance that a first-degree relative-a parent, child or sibling-is also depressed," says Hyla Cass, MD, author of St. John's Wort: Nature's Blues Buster (Avery). Other factors are physical problems and medication side effects. That's why your first step should be a consultation with your health care practitioner (if your moods are especially dark, seek professional assistance as soon as possible).
Life's worries and cares also weigh more heavily on some people than on others. " [N]ot only will certain stressors [adverse events] cause depression as a direct response," notes Dr. Cass, "but they may predispose an individual to future episodes of depression." For example, the end of a relationship when you feel you've lost a lover and been humiliated (and been cheated on) raises your risk of depression (Archives of General Psychiatry 2003; 60:789-96).
The Depressed Brain
When depression hits, brain chemistry shifts. As a result, chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which relay messages between brain cells, go awry. For instance, a neurotransmitter called serotonin-critical to mood control-may decrease, leaving you feeling depressed, anxious, craving certain foods and unable to sleep.
Conversely, "high levels of serotonin are associated with emotional and social stability," according to Dr. Cass. She adds that, in addition, sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone "affect brain cells directly."
Lifting the Fog
Because the causes of depression are so complex, leaving the darkness behind generally requires opening up several pathways. Part of feeling better simply lies in believing that you can. Researchers have found that depressed people who feel they have a sense of control over their troubles, do, in fact, have a better chance of recovery (General Hospital Psychiatry 2000; 22(4):242-50). Finding a community of like-minded folks bolsters your capacity to deal with mood problems. In some cases, time spent with a therapist can be a valuable aid in figuring out what's bothering you.
On the physical side, losing weight can lift your spirits. Among women with severe obesity-itself a depression risk factor-losing weight has led to depression relief (Archives of Internal Medicine 2003; 163:2058-65). Research also indicates that exercise helps brighten dark moods.
A change in diet, along with certain supplements, can also help dispel depression. The first step on the road to emotional recovery: eat a lot of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and stay away from overly refined foods with high levels of sugar.
Omega-3 fatty acids, the kinds found in flax seed and fish, are essential to proper brain function. In several studies, people who took supplemental omega-3s found significant relief from depression.
Key amino acids-the basic units of which proteins are built-serve as starting points for the production of mood-lifting neurotransmitters. In one trial, people who took an amino-acid mix that included tyrosine enjoyed better moods and were happier than people who took amino acids without it (Psychopharmacology (Berlin) Sept 4 2003).
Along with amino acids, the body needs the right vitamins-especially members of the all-important B family-to create depression-fighting brain chemicals. In one study, people with depression who took vitamin B12 improved their chances of recovery (BMC Psychiatry 2003; 3:17).
Another interesting observation: Vitamin B12 and its partners vitamin B6 and folate are essential to keep a protein called homocysteine (known primarily as a cardiovascular hazard) from reaching excessive levels, and people with high homocysteine are twice as likely to be depressed. This has led some researchers to speculate that folate may help keep depression under control (Archives of General Psychiatry 2003; 60:618-26).
Herbs that may help beat back the blues include two that help the body deal with stress, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and schisandra (S. chinensis).
A new diet, a new outlook: With the help of the right nutrients and the right support, you can break the bonds of depression.
Energy Cycles - Stress and lack of energy don't just frazzle your nerves
June 12, 2005 02:09 PM
Energy Cycles by Sylvia Whitefeather Energy Times, August 2, 2003
Feeling stressed out and exhausted from an overburdened schedule? Regenerating your personal energy necessitates defusing stress. Stress and lack of energy don't just frazzle your nerves; they can leave you depressed, anxious and vulnerable to a long list of health problems.
According to J. Douglas Bremner, MD, a psychiatrist at Emory University, Atlanta, when your brain overcharges on prolonged stress, your body pays a heavy, tiring price.
"If stress has effects on the brain and neurological function, then stress has effects on all parts of the body, including the heart, blood vessels, immune system and digestive system," says Dr. Bremner, author of Does Stress Damage the Brain? (Norton). "The long list of damaging effects can include heart disease, memory impairment, depression and even increased susceptibility to stroke and cancer."
A Good Night's Sleep
Although getting a good night's sleep is a basic part of lowering stress and boosting energy, many of us seem to be tossing and turning through an epidemic of insomnia. The fact that so many people appear to suffer from disturbed and unsatisfying sleep may signal not only a personal energy lack, but also a deeper health crisis developing on the horizon. Lack of sleep, along with stress, not only contributes to those lackluster afternoons of the blahs, but it can also derail your basic body rhythms, weaken your immune system and make you age quicker.
Researchers at the University of Chicago report that lack of sleep may deplete your get-up-and-go by upsetting basic metabolic functions and interfering with hormones. Pretty serious stuff: When people in this experiment cut back their sleep time to about four hours each night, their bodies behaved as if they were twenty years older and they started showing signs of developing diabetes. These effects happened in only a week of missing sleep (The Lancet, October 23, 1999).
The drastically reduced sleep schedule slowed the thyroid gland, reducing the production and action of thyroid hormones. As a result, metabolism slowed and the non-sleepers developed that awful sluggish feeling too many of us know and hate.
Stress from lack of sleep also coaxed the adrenal glands into releasing extra amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone whose purpose is to force the body into providing short-lived energy boosts. But after a while the body flames out, its ability to cope with daily demands drained even further.
"We found that the metabolic and endocrine changes resulting from a significant sleep debt mimic many of the hallmarks of aging," says Eve Van Couter, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and director of the study. "We suspect that chronic sleep loss may not only hasten the onset but could also increase the severity of age-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss."
And when are you are constantly short-changed of sleep, it builds up an accumulative effect. Particularly susceptible are busy parents, shift workers, menopausal women and college students.
One way to take back your energy from this metabolic madness is to get twelve hours of sleep a night for a week. But aside from hitting the snooze button a few hundred times, a possible antidote to this cortisol nightmare may be vitamin C.
Fight and Flight
The human body, which evolved before the advent of split-level houses and SUVs, was built to survive life-threatening, physical danger. When it encounters modern-day stress, such as traffic jams and credit card bills, it releases extra cortisol, heightening the body's immediate ability to run or fight. As a result of cortisol release, senses go on high alert, heart rate speeds up, blood flow to muscles increases, and the immune system mobilizes to deal with what it thinks is an imminent crisis.
However, unlike physical danger that rapidly resolves (either you get away from what's trying to harm you or it does you in), today's stress drags on and on (at least till the next exit on the expressway), and the cortisol in the body continues to circulate.
The long-range result of persistent cortisol is a drop in energy, rampant fatigue and lowered immunity. You feel constantly tired and you get sick more often. You may also gain weight.
But researchers at the University of Alabama at Huntsville have found that large doses of vitamin C "reduce...the levels of stress hormones in the blood and also reduce...other typical indicators of physical and emotional stress, such as loss in body weight, enlargement of the adrenal glands, and reduction in the size of the thymus gland and the spleen," according to P. Samuel Campbell, PhD (American Chemical Society, 1999). Dr. Campbell believes that our prehistoric ancestors probably consumed large amounts of vitamin C in a tropical diet rich in fruits. "If so, the physiological constitution we have inherited may require doses far larger than the present RDA (the amount the government recommends) to keep us healthy under varying environmental conditions, including stress."
Iron Out the Fatigue
If you are a premenopausal woman, a lack of iron may also be draining your body of energy. According to experts, as many as one of every five women who menstruate may suffer anemia caused by a lack of iron. This type of problem is also frequent in teenagers and during pregnancy. (But before you take iron supplements, talk to your health practitioner to make sure this is the source of your fatigue.)
"Women with heavy menstrual flow have the greatest risk (of anemia)," points out Susan Lark, MD, in Healing with Vitamins (Rodale). Dr. Lark recommends eating more iron-rich foods (like organic red meat) even if you are not anemic, since a mild iron deficiency can drag you down into the doldrums.
Vegetarians necessarily eat fewer iron-rich foods than do meat eaters. But if you take a vitamin C supplement when you consume such iron-rich vegetables as lima beans, pinto beans and spinach, your body can absorb more of the iron in these foods.
The Krebs Cycle: Keep the Wheel Turning
All of your cells make the energy that keeps you going. This process, a complicated chemical reaction called the Krebs cycle, transforms fatty acids and carbohydrates into ATP (adenosine triphosphate) for cellular energy. Mitochondria, small structures in each cell, are the centers of this energy production.
Energy production requires oxygen. The more oxygen available to the cells, the more energy is produced. Deep breathing and moderate exercise are simple, quick ways to oxygenate the body and boost energy. That is why walking, jogging and other physical activity wakes up your brain and restores pep.
If you've been looking for ways to feel more energetic, take a deep breath and go for a long walk before you sit down to your rejuvenating lima beans and vitamin C. And another thing...take a pass on those late-night TV shows. Sleep is more important.