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The Goal is Balance (Body System Balance) and CBD
January 22, 2020 09:36 AM
Since its discovery in 1992, researchers have been investigating the existence of a central regulatory system called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
The ECS is made of cannabinoid receptors, endogenous (Self-made) cannabis-like compounds and enzymes that create an inactivate them. The ECS is one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health.
Phytocannabinoids like CBD, of which well over 100 have been found to exist, are plant derivatives that “talk” to just about every major organ system in the body via the ECS, helping restore normal balance and physiologic homeostasis.
Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body. In each tissue, cannabinoids perform different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, maintaining a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.
So, why is CBD important for the ECS? Because CBD modulates endocannabinoid tone and may help keep healthy people healthy.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
May 15, 2019 02:00 PM
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Herbal treatments help balance hormone fluctuations and mood swings in women
April 07, 2018 05:17 PM
Menopause is an unsettling time of life; the chemical seratonin becomes unbalanced and causes uncomfortable or even painful changes in the body. Fortunately, there are some natural herbs and treatments that can help with the hormonal imbalances experienced. Those herbs have a long history of use and are as follows: St. John's Wort, Kava Kava, Black Cohash and Valerian. These different herbal treatments are traditionally used to treat depression, menopausal problems as well as promote relaxation and healthy rest.
"Menopause is a natural occurrence wherein menstruation stops in women."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-04-06-herbal-treatments-help-balance-hormone-fluctuations-and-mood-swings-in-women.html
4 Signs Your Thyroid Is Making You Sick
April 07, 2017 08:44 AM
Your thyroid is an important gland that releases hormones responsible for body growth and development. When it slows down, a condition called hypothyroidism, your body functions slow down too including your brain and gut function. Hypothyroidism can be diagnosed with a blood test but some people's levels are just out if range to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism, they still suffer from an under functioning thyroid. You should see your doctor if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism including dry puffy skin (a condition also caused by hyperthyroidism) , low energy., constant constipation or diarrhea and weight fluctuations. Hyperthyroidism can cause quick weight loss while hypothyroidism and drop your metabolic rate causing weight gain.. Eliminating sugars and increasing protein intake can also help thyroid function .
"approximately 200 million people across the globe suffer from some type of thyroid dysfunction."
Read more: http://www.thealternativedaily.com/signs-your-thyroid-is-making-you-sick/
November 17, 2012 11:58 AM
Vitamin B-6 was discovered by Paul Grorgy in 1930 when doing nutritional studies. He discovered the substance was able to cure a certain skin disease when he tested it in rats. Vitamin B-6 exists in three forms namely pyridoxine, pyridoxamine and pyridoxal. These three are precursors of PLP (pyridoxal 5-phosphate). PLP plays an important role as a cofactor for most enzymes in the body.
Vitamin B-6 has many health benefits.
To begin with, it helps maintain a healthy heart. It prevents the formation of a substance, homocysteine, which damages the lining of blood vessels resulting to the building up of plaque. This happens when the body attempts to repair the damage. It prevents the buildup, reducing chances of a myocardial infarction. It lowers blood pressure, prevents platelet aggregation and it also lowers levels of cholesterol in the body.
Vitamin B-6 from supplements or diets reduces the chances of having Parkinson's disease. In women, it strengthens their immune system and it also promotes proper hormone balance in case of any fluctuations. Vitamin B-6 deficiency exposes one to the carpal tunnel syndrome. It is a disorder that is characterized by a burning or tingling sensation and pain that is felt on the wrist or hand after being strained repetitively. It also causes numbness, loss of strength in hands/ fingers, diminished coordination and swelling. Studies have indicated that increased levels of vitamin B-6, from diets or supplements, reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Toxic potential in grams per day.
Vitamin B-6 however becomes toxic if taken in excess. It does not relieve the symptoms immediately. Sometimes it takes up to six weeks before noticing any relief. Those suffering from this syndrome should take fifty milligrams of vitamin B-6 twice or thrice daily. You should never take more than two hundred milligrams of vitamin B-6unless you have been recommended to do so by a doctor.
Coconut Oil Help Sugar Cravings?
October 05, 2011 01:00 PM
Craving for sugary foods is a form of refined sugar addiction. For you to totally end your addiction towards sugar, you need to eat healthy foods to keep you well nourished hence, you will no longer feel the necessity of the stimulating effect of refined sugar. Engaging in to various ways and means to cut your cravings for refined sugar is very necessary to protect yourself from various disease conditions that are associated with too much intake of glucose like diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus is one condition that affects many people across the globe. Since this condition can lead to more serious health ailments there is a great need for us to stop the root cause of diabetes which is too much intake of sugar-rich foods. Here are some useful ways that you may consider that can help you put an end your cravings for foods that are excessively sweet hence, will make you more vigorous and healthy.
Fats that are considered healthy like unrefined coconut oil is very beneficial in helping you regulate your blood sugar levels. The essential fats that unrefined coconut oil contains can enhance vitamin and mineral absorption and at the same time decrease the rate of carbohydrate absorption. Several studies can already prove the capacity of unrefined coconut oil as a remedy for hypoglycemia and sugar addiction. Coconut oil is also vital for those people who often encounter problems with regards to fat digestion.
Eat as much fruit as you can
Eating fresh fruits as well as consuming fruit derivatives (dried fruits, smoothies, and fruit juices) on a regular basis is very helpful in keeping you healthy. Compared to refined sugar, fresh fruits contains abundant amount of vitamins and minerals that would guard your body from incurring diseases that will impede you from doing the things that you like to do. What makes fruit and natural fruit products even better is the fact that it does not contain any addictive properties that are present in refined sugar.
Prevent blood sugar fluctuations
If you want to cut down your cravings for foods that have high sugar content, you should learn how to control your blood sugar levels within normal boundaries. When the blood sugar level of your body is too low (hypoglycemia) the body tends to compensate by increasing cravings for sugar. If you do not want to experience such feeling, then you have to make sure that you do not skip any meals. Small frequent meals are also very helpful so as regular exercise.
Try super foods
Super foods are foods that contain liberal amounts of vitamins and minerals that are all necessary in keeping your body lean and healthy. These kinds of foods are also necessary in controlling unreasonable cravings. Here is a list of the most common super foods that you can readily avail in the market today: mangosteen, wheatgrass juice, seaweed, and acai.
Controlling your cravings for unrefined sugar is very important to prevent yourself from developing disease conditions brought about by too much consumption of sugary foods. So live healthily and enjoy life to the fullest!
How Does Progesterone Cream Help Ease Hot Flash Symptoms?
June 21, 2011 11:01 AM
Progesterone And Hot Flashes
Progesterone cream is an all natural remedy for hormonal imbalances in the female body. It has grown in popularity in the past few years largely owing to very strong anecdotal evidence. Its use in the management of hot flashes has produced very encouraging results, and thus has become a mainstay of alternative treatment for vasomotor symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome.
Plants contain fats and oils that can be modified in the laboratory to partially synthesize progesterone. The active ingredient of most progesterone creams in the market is diosgenin, which is a plant sapogenin that occurs naturally in wild yams. Diosgenin has long been noted for its steroidal activity inside the human body, but it has been successfully converted to progesterone only recently.
Reverses Estrogen Dominance
The concept of estrogen dominance is central to the appearance of hot flashes. A group of medical professionals believe that vasomotor symptoms are brought on by fluctuations in hormonal levels, among other factors. While both groups of female sex hormones experience changes, progesterone is thought to approach near depletion in comparison with estrogen. Hence, the latter dominates.
Progesterone creams work on the principle of reversing estrogen dominance. They are formulated to facilitate optimum absorption into the body. While their active ingredients, such as diosgenin, have been noted to produce estrogen-like activities when unmodified, progesterone creams function exactly in the same manner as endogenous secretions of progesterone.
Increases Progesterone Levels
Hot flashes are often linked to changes in body temperature. It has long been postulated that hormonal imbalances have an effect on the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature. It is believed that depleting levels of progesterone lead to a series of chemical reactions that confuse the biological thermostat, resulting in vasodilation of blood vessels close to body surfaces.
Progesterone creams effectively relieve hot flashes because the active ingredients are capable of penetrating the part of the skin that leads to the blood vessels. There is very good evidence that topical applications of progesterone are readily absorbed. Since fats and oils from plants have high absorption rates, progesterone creams are certain to increase progesterone levels in no time.
Normalizes Hormonal Changes
There has not been any contraindication associated with the regular use of progesterone creams as most of them are formulated in concentrations suitable for use at any time of the day. In fact, it can be applied to the skin even in the absence of hot flashes to prevent any vasomotor symptoms. A growing of body of literature has noted its efficacy in managing hormone-related imbalances.
More importantly, progesterone creams have shown great promise in stabilizing hormone levels in the long run, making it an ideal remedy for women suffering from premenstrual syndrome. Also, it is very likely to help women who are surgically menopausal as they experience very intense episodes of hot flashes that last until the natural age of menopause.
Grab some progesterone today and feel the relief it can bring!
February 21, 2009 12:33 PM
Migraines are severe, throbbing headaches that may or may not be accompanied by nausea, possibly with visual disturbances and other symptoms. Migraine incidences have increased by 50 percent within the last twenty years, with an estimated 25 to 30 million people suffering from them in the United States. Three out of four of these 25 to 30 million are women, with up to 24 percent of women experiencing at least one migraine in their lives and only 12 percent of men getting migraines. Migraine headaches are one of the most severe types of headache.
Research has described migraines as vascular headaches, as they involved excessive dilation or contraction of the brain’s blood vessels. Current research, however, gives other clues. The inflammation involved in migraines is most noticeable in the meninges, which surround the brain and the spinal cord. However, the inflammation of the meninges is not what leads to the pain of migraine, but instead abnormal nerve activity. Stimulation of the trigeminal nerve, which goes from the brain to the head and face, triggers the release of substances that are known as calcitonin gene-related peptides. These induce inflammation and send messages to pain receptors in the meninges. Some researches even liken migraines to meningitis in some ways, as the symptoms are very similar. However, meningitis is caused by viral or bacterial infection.
Migraines can occur anywhere from once a week to once or twice a year, often running in families. One factor that may contribute to the higher incidence of migraine in women may be fluctuations in the level of the hormone estrogen, as women typically get migraines around the time of menstruation, when estrogen levels are low. Most often, migraines occur in people between the ages of twenty and thirty-five, seeming to decline with age. Children can also suffer from migraines, with pain tending to be more diffuse, rather than localized. Migraines can first show up in childhood as colic, periodic abdominal pain, vomiting, dizziness, and severe motion sickness, rather than as headaches.
There are typically five phases in a migraine. The first phase beings a day or so before the onset of a headache, as changes in mood, problems with memory, an alteration in one or all of the five senses, and speech problems occur. Secondly, some people will see flashes or patterns of light and experience numbness of the hands and mouth just before the headache. This is called an aura, and is a common sign of a classic migraine.
Those migraines that occur without auras are called common migraines. The third phase occurs when the headache starts with a severe, throbbing pain occurring on one or both sides of the head and can also move from side to side. Nausea can also set in this phase, along with tenderness in the neck and scalp, sensitivity to light, and possibly immobilization due to pain. The fourth phase occurs when the headache dissipates, although nausea may linger. During the fifth phase, the person may feel tired and lethargic, simply wanting to sleep.
A variety of things can trigger a migraine in an individual who is susceptible, including allergies, constipation, stress, liver malfunction, too much or too little sleep, emotional changes, hormonal changes, sun glare, flashing lights, lack of exercise, and changes in barometric pressure. Dental problems and low blood sugar can also be factors, while other underlying causes such as genetic factors, chemical imbalances in the brain, poor nutrition, and the overuse of painkillers can cause an individual to be susceptible to migraines. Block Migraines with vitamins and herbs.
The following nutrients are recommended for preventing and dealing with migraines: calcium, magnesium, coenzyme Q10, DMG, DLPA, essential fatty acid complex, 5-HTP, a multivitamin and mineral complex, rutin, vitamin B complex, garlic, quercetin, taurine, vitamin C with bioflavonoids, cordyceps, feverfew, ginkgo biloba, cayeene, chamomile, fumitory, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, valerian, willow bark, and wormwood.
If you are experiencing migraines, consult your doctor before starting vitamin supplements. Vitamin supplements are natural and feed the body to make it stronger and capable of fighting the diseases it may come up against, but medications prescribed by your doctor can conflict with certain vitamins and herbs and a doctors consultation is needed when taken with medications. A source of natural vitamins are available at your local or internet health food store.
*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Natural vitamins and herbs are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.
Grape Fruit Pectin Fiber
October 21, 2008 12:56 PM
Grapefruit pectin fiber is a source of soluble fiber that can bind to cholesterol and inhibit the formation of atherosclerosis. It is also effective in maintaining good blood sugar levels, and promoting a healthy colon. However, before discussing how grapefruit pectin fiber works in these ways, it is first necessary to explain how they occur in the first place.
First cholesterol. This is a steroid lipid, most of which is biosynthesized by your body rather than being present in your diet. Although it has a bad name health wise, cholesterol is actually essential to good health because it helps your digestive system break down fast, it strengthens cell walls and is a major ingredient in the manufacture of vitamin D by your liver. It is also essential for the formation of several hormones, including cortisone, cortisol and aldosterone by the adrenal glands, and also of estrogen and testosterone. A bloodstream without cholesterol is therefore not good for you.
Given that cholesterol is essential for good health, then why does it have such a bad press? The root cause of that is that cholesterol is not water soluble, and to be carried round the bloodstream to where it is needed it needs some transport. For that, it uses low density lipoproteins (LDLs). However, it’s not a return journey, and to get back they must use another form of lipid known as a high density lipoprotein (HDL). The protein part is water soluble, wile the lipid part can attach to the cholesterol and carry it around the bloodstream.
The problem arises with free radicals, which are oxygenated molecules that are generated by the body’s metabolism, and also created from pollutants, such as pesticides and cigarette smoke, and the UV portion of daylight. These can oxidize the low density lipoproteins so that they can be attacked by phagocytes (while blood cells) deposited as plaques in the artery walls. This hardens and thickens the arteries, reducing the heart’s blood supply which in turn can cause strokes and heart attacks.
This can be prevented in a number ways, the major of which are by consuming plenty antioxidants in your food, mostly contained in phytochemicals (plant chemicals), reducing your LDL cholesterol levels to the minimum needed by your body, and also by increasing the HDL levels in your bloodstream by as much as possible.
Grapefruit pectin fiber can bind to cholesterol, and prevent it from being deposited in the artery walls by the oxidized LDL. A sixteen week double blind study (neither the subjects nor those carrying out the test and analyzing the results knew who were given the placebo) found that grapefruit pectin successful reduced the low density cholesterol level of 27 subjects by 10.8% and overall plasma cholesterol by 7.6%. These volunteers were at a medium to high risk of atherosclerosis due to a high LDL cholesterol concentration in their blood.
Animal studies have also been carried out, whereby animals were fed a high cholesterol diet, and those fed a high fat diet were found to have an average of 45% narrowing of their arteries, and those fed the same diet, but with added grapefruit pectin fiber, were found to have only 25% narrowing, thus corresponding with the results of the human volunteers.
It is essential that you maintain a stable level of sugar in your blood since the body reacts to low blood glucose by making you feel hungry, and thereby forcing you eat. If you are trying to lose weight you will find it very difficult if your blood sugar levels fluctuate. Grapefruit pectin can reduce the rate at which carbohydrates enter your bloodstream, and therefore the rate at which sugars are absorbed.
Studies have also indicated that pectin can even out your blood sugar concentration, so that you experience fewer fluctuations or sudden spikes that can make you feel either very hungry, and so binge on carbohydrates, or very satisfied so that you eat nothing at all. The maintenance of a stable level of glucose in the blood is necessary for a normal life since it is that that determine your need to eat food. If your blood sugar is low, the desire to eat high calorie carbohydrate food is uncontrollable.
This is the theory behind the so-called ‘grapefruit diet’. You eat a grapefruit prior to a meal, and allow it to be digested. The grapefruit pectin will make you feel full and so eat less, so that you can eat normal foods, but still lose weight. Many people take the grapefruit pectin in supplement form for its ease and economy of use. It is also more convenient since you don’t have to carry grapefruit around with you everywhere you go.
A Healthy Colon
Like any other soluble fiber, grapefruit pectin fiber is a dietary fiber that can help to maintain the health of your colon. In fact it is the only one of the basic four fibers of lignin, cellulose, hemicelluloses and pectin that is soluble. Although referred to as soluble, pectin softens and expands and provides substance and added weight to faeces in order to allow it to pass easier through your colon.
Other than ensuring the easy passage of your stool through your colon, and avoiding constipation, grapefruit pectin fiber can help to prevent excessive growth of bad bacteria in the intestine, and because it accelerates the passage of substances through the colon, there is less time for toxic or cancerous substances to be in contact with your bowel lining. It is that which causes bowel cancer, and grapefruit pectin fiber can help to prevent it.
Fiber can also help to prevent diverticulosis, where the intestinal wall develops small sacs and becomes weakened. It also prevents hemorrhoids, eases the symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). In short, it offers many benefits for the health of your colon, and can help to cure many bowel conditions.
However, it is important that you don't just rush into using any form of dietary fiber, but take it gradually. You start with a small intake, and then increase it slowly; since it is not absorbed through the intestine too much can lie in your colon and ferment, causing any number of intestinal problems. When used properly it can ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, but if used to excess, or too quickly, can actually cause the same symptoms, in addition to blocking the absorption of essential minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium.
Grapefruit pectin fiber can do a great deal for health, including maintaining good blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and helping to keep your colon healthy. It is available in convenient supplement form, but make sure that you drink sufficient liquid each day in order to prevent the fiber blocking your intestine rather than allowing free passage of waste product into, through, and out of your colon.
August 01, 2008 12:58 PM
It seems more and more common that people are looking at every possibility to wellness before they make a decision on the best form of treatment for them, with many taking their time to search for the best possible solution. Feverfew is a medicinal folk remedy, used abundantly in the past, and is currently being used because of its beneficial effects. For thousands of years, feverfew has been used as a medical treatment and is now becoming one of the most common herbal relievers of migraine pain. Scientific research has recently become available on the use of this herb in treatment of migraines and other forms of inflammation and pain, making interest in feverfew grow rapidly.
The feverfew plant is a member of the Asteracea or Compositae family, along with flowers such as the daisy, sunflower, black-eyed Susan, Echinacea, calendula, dandelion, burdock, and marigold. Feverfew is often referred to by other names including featherfew, featerfoil, febrifuge, wild quinine, and bachelor’s button. A busy perennial that grows from one to three feet in height, feverfew looks similar to the daisy plant with white rays and a yellow center but is smaller in size. The entire plant has a strong bitter smell which allows it to repel bees and other insects. Many people believe that the name feverfew came from the use of the flower to bring down fevers, while others believe that its name originated from the English version, featherfew, which describes the shape of the leaves on the feverfew plant.
For thousands of years, feverfew has been used for the treatment of an abundant amount of ailments. Although the exact origin of the first use is unknown, references to feverfew can be found all throughout history. In ancient times, feverfew was used in childbirth, to treat fevers, melancholy, and congestion of the lungs, as well as inflammation and swellings. Feverfew was also used for many female problems and strengthening the womb, also promoting menstrual flow. Another use of feverfew was for painful headaches, especially migraines. Feverfew is an extremely complex substance, containing several essential oils such as L-camphor, L-borneol, terpens, and esters. Another active ingredient of the feverfew plant is parthenolide. Parthenolides have been found to inhibit prostaglandins, which are found to be partially responsible for migraines as well as the inflammation process.
With headaches being a problem since the beginning of time, they are one of the most common medical complaints. Migraines are caused due to inflammation of blood vessels in the brain, which causes an intense headache pain. To determine if a headache can be classified as a migraine one should note the following: if only one side of the head is affected; whether flashing lights, blind spots, or feelings of irritability and depression occur immediately before the headache; stomach distress along with nausea and vommitting; and someone in the immediate family also suffering from migraines. The two main contributors to the problem of migraines are the trigeminal nerve system and serotonin, the nerve chemical.
Migraines involve excessive dilation or contraction of the blood vessels that are found in the brain and make up about 6% of the total number of headaches, with about 10% of the population suffering from migraines at any given time of the year, and the majority of these people being women. Migraines can be triggered by the following factors: stress, eating certain foods, alcohol, food additives such as sodium nitrate, changes in weather, seasons, time zones, or altitude, disturbance in sleep patterns, disturbance in eating habits, hormonal fluctuations, pollution, loud noise, flickering lights, constipation, and low blood sugar.
In conclusion, an increase in some of the trigger factors previously listed is thought to be the cause for the fact that the number of individuals suffering from migraines continues to climb, with the occurrence of migraines increasing by almost 60% among all age groups during the past ten years. This may be due to pollutants and poor diets that lack essential fatty acids and plastics that mimic prostaglandins which regulate the inflammation pathways in the body. So if you are suffering from pain, specifically migraines, give feverfew a try.
How to Manage Migraines Naturally: Magnesium - Feverfew - Butterbur - Ginger
December 21, 2007 10:41 AM
Before you can understand how to manage migraines naturally, it is necessary to understand exactly what they are and how certain treatments could work. It is not generally known that the word ‘migraine’ means ‘half the head’ because it frequently hurts only on the right or the left of the head of sufferer. Some people with migraines do feel pain on both sides at once, although this is not generally the case.
A migraine occurs in stages which are activated by fluctuations in the hormone content of the blood. The ‘aura’, when you see spots and flashing lights in front of your eyes, is the first stage of a migraine attack, and during this time the blood vessels in your neck and head are contracting. You could also find it difficult to concentrate and your fingers could feel cold. At this point they do not have the headache that starts when the blood vessels begin to dilate.
Rather than the contracted blood vessels slowly returning to normal, your hormones have an excessively strong reaction, and cause them to dilate rapidly and become much wider than they should be leading to a severe headache due to pressure on the nerves. Different hormones can be involves with each attack, and the range of effective natural treatments reflect this fact. During this period, your brain could swell slightly, your muscles can tense up and other things can happen to the chemical and hormonal balance of your body. That is why some herbal treatments work for some but not for others, and different people find different treatments effective for them. What works for you might not work for somebody else if their migraine has a different cause. Basically, though, migraines occur in two phases, one being associated with an excess of hormones and the other with a shortage.
It is not easy to live with a migraine since it can be completely debilitating. Some just have a severe headache, while others are affected for days at a time. The headache can become before and after the onset of the shimmering lights and other optical effects that are generated by the brain. It would certainly be useful if those prone to migraines had one or more of the possible natural remedies to hand since there is rarely time to seek to seek professional medical help once the migraine begins, and through the use of natural remedies a potentially bad attack could be nipped in the bud, and at least its effect on you reduced.
Magnesium is common in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and cabbage, whole grains, nuts and seeds. It is an essential mineral for human biochemistry, and is also needed with calcium for healthy bone development and maintenance.
Magnesium is a muscle relaxant, and relaxes the muscles of the blood vessels helping them to relax their dilatancy that cause the migraine pain. It is also useful to help the immune function, reduces blood pressure (by the same blood vessel relaxing mechanism) and also the rhythm of your heart. Magnesium therefore provides you with many health benefits, and though the western diet is not generally deficient in magnesium, some areas can be and a magnesium-containing supplement will not do you harm.
However, particularly high dose of magnesium can lead to nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure and many other unpleasant side effects, so do not take more than the RDA (recommended daily allowance) in your supplement. Many studies have confirmed its effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of migraine, but not all studies have been successful. However, the condition is so debilitating to so many people, that it should be tried although not in excess. Make sure, however, that your doctor is informed since it could interfere with other medication you are taking for your migraine.
Riboflavin, vitamin B-2, is also believed to useful in reducing the duration and frequency of migraine attacks, working in much the same way as magnesium. It is known that there are many cases of people who suffer from vitamin B-2 deficiency also suffering from migraines, and a riboflavin supplement is also worth trying if you are a consistent victim of this condition.
Feverfew is the best known of the herbal remedies for migraine, and has been used for centuries in the treatment of fevers, headache, migraine and other painful conditions such as arthritis. The active ingredient is parthenolide, an anti-inflammatory that is also an anti-hyperalgesic, and that would explain its effect on reducing the pain. It also blocks lipolysaccharide-induced osteolysis by suppressing the activity of a eukaryotic transcription factor protein known as NF-kappaB that can cause a number of immune response problems, including inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, hence its use to relieve that condition.
Its effect on migraines could be explained by this activity in repressing the inflammatory response to certain stimuli that could be brought about by hormonal activity. Because it must be taken for a few weeks before the actual problem arises in order to be effective against it, feverfew is not effective to treat an existing attack, but to prevent future attacks. Double blind studies have proved its effectiveness in many tests, but not in all. However, if you take feverfew as a regular supplement in you diet, you might never have to try magnesium or vitamin B-2 supplements.
Some people swear by the leaves of feverfew, eating one per day which is easy way to take it. It is important, however, that you do so regularly, since it can take for up to 6 – 8 weeks for you to notice a reduction in your attacks. Don’t give up after 5 or 6 weeks, but continue, since the results will be well worth it. If you stop for a week or two you will have to start all over again. You might get a sore mouth and perhaps mouth ulcers to start with, but these will eventually go once your body is used to it.
You are probably best not to take if you are pregnant since it could cause you to abort. Otherwise, however, it has been shown to be effective in many severe cases. Feverfew is bitter, and can be used as a tea with other herbs, such as rosemary, lavender and sage. If you are taking warfarin, aspirin or other blood-thinning drugs, see your doctor first, and the same is true of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). If you are taking these for arthritis, the feverfew itself might be more effective!
If you are taking feverfew as a supplement using commercially available dried leaf then the recommended dosage is around 125mg of the dried leaf. It should contain at least 0.2% of parthenolide (0.25mg/daily), although other studies have indicated that a total of 0.7 mg parthenolide a day should be taken (100mg at 0.7%). Parthenolide is unstable so don’t take it after its sell by or best by date.
Butterbur is also useful in the treatment of migraines. The active ingredient here is petasin, a sesquiterpene ester that also has anti-inflammatory properties, all though it works in a different manner to feverfew. Here, it inhibits the activities of leukotriene generation in neutrophils and eosinophils, which indicates that it also possesses anti-allergenic properties that could help asthmatics that also suffer from migraines. It does not prevent the release of histamine, but does appear to reduce smooth muscle spasm.
You should never take the raw herb, only the extract, because it contains alkaloids that can harm you. The butterbur extract, however, is a perfectly safe supplement and found effective by many people in the treatment of migraine.
If your migraine is at the front of the head, then you should try ginger. Unlike feverfew, ginger works on a migraine as it is occurring, and improvement can be achieved for a bad migraine within half an hour. In fact if, like many people, you can feel a migraine coming on, half a teaspoon of freshly ground ginger can stop the pain before it starts.
Many herbal treatments for migraine include a combination of some of the above remedies, and many people swear by them. However, migraine treatment is very personal, and you should use what works best for you. If you are also taking other medical treatments however, please make sure that you refer to your physician before using any others, and that includes herbal remedies or supplements.
Memory And Focus
May 08, 2007 02:05 PM
Memory & Focus
Some people think getting older often means getting slower. It’s true that as we age, we may find we can’t walk quite as fast, climb as many flights of stairs, or play sports as hard as we could when we were twenty. However, we k now that a healthy diet, regular exercise, and the right dietary supplements can make a huge difference in our health, strength, and mobility as we age.
This is true for our mental abilities as well. We may not think as quickly as we used to, might misplace our keys more often, and experience more “tip-of-my-tongue” word searches. These so-called “middle-aged moments” most often have minor consequences: a missed appointment or the forgotten name of an acquaintance. However, in a small number of cases, these mental slips can also be the first sign of serious diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease of other dementias.
The good news is, just like our physical health, we can improve how we function mentally. Eating healthy foods, taking the right supplements, and participating in regular mental exercise can significantly increase our mental endurance, improve our memory, and optimize our ability to focus.
In fact, groundbreaking and ongoing research has discovered that specific herbs and vitamins, particularly Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa monnieri, folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, and the important co-enzyme and antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid, all have powerful effects on memory and focus. These nutritional supplements have been scientifically shown to quickly reduce mild age-related memory chances, as well as greatly reducing the risk of developing more serious problems like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or other brain diseases later on in life.
Q. What is the difference between age related memory decline and dementia?
A. As we get older, our nerve cells need more time to spark and connect, slowing the process of bringing memories and events to mind. Another theory is that, as we age, we accumulate more knowledge and memories. The mind then has to sort through much more data to reference a memory. Almost everyone middle-aged and older notices this slowdown. Memory decline and problems with mental focus are a normal part of aging.
While it’s true that the older we get, our chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease increase, this illness is not a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive dementia that slowly kills nerve cells in areas of the brain where memory, learning, though, and language take place. Often first appearing as people begin retirement, Alzheimer’s disease makes the “golden years” a time of loss and devastation. Memories vanish, relationships are erased, and independence is gradually lost.
After Alzheimer’s disease, the second most common cause of dementia in older people is multi-infarct dementia. Caused by a series of mini-strokes that damage or destroy brain tissue over time, multi-infarct dementia usually affects people between the ages of 60 and 75. Men are slightly more at risk. High blood pressure is the most significant risk factor for multi-infarct dementia.
Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, strokes, Huntington’s disease, Creutzfelt-Jakob disease, and alcoholism can also cause progressive and irreversible dementia.
While normal age-related memory and focus loss may mean we can’t remember where we put our car keys, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia may mean we can’t remember what our car keys are used for.
Q. Are any types of memory and focus loss reversible?
A. Yes. As women enter menopause, they frequently experience trouble remembering. This memory interference is caused by hormone fluctuations and can affect speech, thinking, and attention. Symptoms of menopause-related memory loss and poor focus include recognizing faces less well than in the past, missing scheduled appointments, and misplacing articles. Once a woman passes through menopause, her ability to remember and focus most often improves.
Certain medications, such as the heavily prescribed cholesterol lowering drugs called stains, can temporarily interfere with memory. Low vitamin B levels, artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and thyroid disease can cause disruption of mental focus and memory loss. These problems usually resolve with treatment of the underlying disorder.
A certain type of stoke, called a transient ischemic attack (TIA) can cause memory loss that may be reversible. A TIA is a brief episode of stroke symptoms that come on quickly. Sometimes referred to as a “mini-stroke” or “warning stroke,” a TIA is caused by a temporary interruption in the blood supply to the brain. But, unlike a stroke, a TIA does not lead to permanent brain damage. While a TIA is usually short-lived, it is likely to occur again if not properly managed and can be a warning of future stroke.
Q. I seem to forget a lot of things. How can I be sure I don’t have Alzheimer’s disease or some other dementia?
A. If you, or other around you, are concerned about your memory, you should be examined by your health care practitioner. Once the cause of your memory and focus problem is diagnosed, treatment can begin. All causes of memory loss and mental focus disruption can be treated, even Alzheimer’s disease. While presently irreversible dementias cannot be cured, the progression of the disease may be slowed, and in some cases, stopped..
Research on memory loss and mental focus disruption has increased dramatically in the past few years. Discoveries regarding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as well as age-related loss of memory and focus have recently been made. Most importantly, many new treatment options, including the use of nutritional supplements, have been developed.
Q. How can nutritional supplements improve memory and focus?
A. Several herbs and vitamins have been demonstrated to improve memory and mental focus. While some nutritional supplements work now to improve memory and focus, others work to prevent problems we might develop later.
One of the most researched herbs, Ginkgo biloba, has been found to be effective in improving currently experienced memory and focus loss; in other words, problems we are having now. Ginkgo has been studied in individuals who have age-related memory loss, as well as in those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It seems that ginkgo can improve many brain functions, such as speeding up memory recall, protecting brain cells from chemical changes and free radical damage, improving blood flow to the brain, and helping nerve cells communicate with each other better.
Several studies examined ginkgo’s effect in healthy people who were experiencing normal age-related memory and focus problems. They determined that ginkgo improved memory, attention, and clarity of thinking. Ginkgo can also help restore memories that may be lost in TIAs, those mini-strokes that were discussed earlier.
In studies of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, the results showed that ginkgo slowed down the disease in those severely afflicted and actually improved those with very mild or moderate disease. In one of these studies, ginkgo was compared to four prescription cholinesterase inhibitors, medications commonly used to treat individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Using written mental tests, the researchers found that ginkgo worked just as effectively as the prescription drugs. While those taking one of the cholinesterase inhibitors dropped out of the study because of disturbing side effects, ginkgo had no side effects and improved symptoms equally as well.
Q. Hoe does Bacopa monnieri help memory and focus?
A. Like ginkgo, bacopa works on the memory and focus problems we are experiencing now. Bacopa grows in
Q. How does alpha lipoic acid help memory and focus?
A. Alpha lipoic acid (
Researchers have discovered unmistakable free radical damage in Alzheimer’s disease. Accordingly,
In a recent study, people with Alzheimer’s disease were given tests that measured through and memory. They were then given
Q. How do vitamins B12 and B6 help memory and focus?
A. Vitamin B6 is an essential nutrient in the regulation of nerve transmissions. It is required by the nervous system for normal brain function, and it may also help with mood.
Researchers have learned that people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias (including Parkinson’s disease) have elevated homocysteine levels. IN fact, t he amount of homocysteine in the blood corresponds to the severity of the disease. Most people with a high homocysteine level don’t have enough folate, vitamin B5 or vitamin B12 in their diet. Replacing these vitamins helps return the homocysteine level to normal.
Reducing homocysteine levels may prevent the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease, or other brain diseases, and improve the symptoms of those already afflicted.
Q. What about folic acid?
A. Folic acid has long been recognized as a vital nutrient for the brain and spinal cord. Recent research has demonstrated that folic acid has significant importance in Alzheimer’s disease.
An ongoing study of Alzheimer’s disease that began in 1986 has been studying 678 members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in the hopes of learning how the disease develops, how it might be prevented, and how to treat it. Data collected in the study includes biographies the sisters wrote upon entrance to the order, blood samples from the sisters while they are living, and information gained from the voluntary donation of their brains after death.
Aptly named the “Nun Study,” ground breaking discoveries have already been made. It seems that diet and nutrition have a dramatic influence in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Sisters who had high levels of folic acid showed little evidence of Alzheimer’s-type damage in their brains after death. And, those nuns who had Alzheimer’s disease in spite of high folic acid levels had profoundly less brain damage from the disease. In fact, some sisters who had no outward evidence of Alzheimer’s disease while they were living had surprisingly extensive damage in their brains after death.
Q. Besides taking ginkgo, bacopa, B vitamins, folic acid, and ALA, is there other things I can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
A. You may not know if you have a serious B-vitamin deficiency. Routine lab work does not measure the amount of B vitamins in your blood. You might want to ask your health care practitioner to have your B vitamin level in your blood measured, especially if you are having memory and focus problems. Keep in mind that this type of lab work is fairly expensive, however.
Supplements do not replace the need for a healthy diet, especially a diet with high levels of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids. Keeping your body healthy helps keep your brain healthy as well.
It also seems that the use-it-or-lose-it theory applies to our brain as well as our body. Research has shown that people who seek opportunities to keep mentally active, such as reading books, newspapers, and magazines, solving crossword puzzles, playing card games, and visiting museums, lower their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dealing with age-related memory loss may be both frustrating and frightening. As the population of
In fact, more and more research shows prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is a reality. And age-related memory loss can successfully be improved as well. Taking the scientifically validated nutritional supplements ginkgo, bacopa, vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, and
Moderating Male Midlife Moodiness - The lesser known guy version of menopause is now a ...
July 14, 2005 09:28 AM
Moderating Male Midlife MoodinessThe lesser known guy version of menopause is now a syndrome
Question: How can you tell if a man has irritable male syndrome?
Irritable male syndrome (IMS) may sound like a joke, but it's really no laughing matter. Just as women experience anxiety, depression and irritability with hormonal changes, men too can suffer from cyclic and menopausal symptoms-they're just more likely to be chastised for it instead of being consoled with a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Since men's hormones actually fluctuate every hour rather than every 28 days, it should come as no surprise that male behavior should be affected. For some men over 40, however, the behavior swing can be quite dramatic, leaving a guy in a chronic bad mood. But try telling the grouch that he suffers from "male menopause" and he just might chuck the Ben & Jerry's at you.
The term "irritable male syndrome" was coined by Gerald A. Lincoln, a researcher at the Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh, Scotland. Lincoln first observed IMS while studying Soay sheep, a large, curly-horned variety known for their boisterous rutting rituals that rival the masculine intensity of any Super Bowl party. After mating season, however, Lincoln noticed that as testosterone levels dropped off, the rams became agitated, fearful, withdrawn and likely to irrationally strike out at other males. The hypothesis behind this behavior is that the withdrawal of androgens affects melatonin and serotonin uptake and can make for one cranky ram. However, IMS in two-legged, human subjects can present itself with more complexity.
Psychotherapist Jed Diamond, author of The Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing the Four Key Causes of Depression and Aggression (Rodale Books), defines IMS as "a state of hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, and loss of male identity" that can occur at any time during a man's life. A lot of IMS involves depression; normally thought of as a female problem, this emotional downer often comes out differently in men, more outwardly than inwardly directed.
One point of similarity between the sexes is that IMS, like depression in women, is often linked to the multi-source stress that pervades modern living. The result? According to Diamon, "Up to 30% of men, especially those in adolescence and midlife, exhibit symptoms of IMS. In its mildest forms, it can cause men to be moody and irritable. At its worst, it can lead to violence and even suicide."
Is it a Bad Day or a Bad Decade?
So how can you really tell if a man has irritable male syndrome? Since a guy isn't likely to say flat out that he's having trouble with relationships or is having hot flashes (you read that right), there are other, more telltale signs to look for. While we all may temporarily experience bad moods, if you or someone you know exhibits one or more of these feelings with frequency over a period of time, IMS may be the cause: anger, sarcasm, defensiveness, blaming, withdrawal, anxiety, defiance, being argumentative, feeling unappreciated, frustration.
Physical IMS symptoms include fatigue, unexpected weight gain or loss, frequent urination, hair loss (besides the typical male pattern) and impotence. The thyroid gland, which serves as the body's master energy controller, is often out of whack on men suffering from IMS. If that sounds familiar, see your practitioner for a thyroid hormone check.
Less Flabby Means Less Crabby
Sometimes, IMS is not a matter of lowered testosterone levels but one of elevated estradoil, the usable form of the female hormone estrogen. This condition can develop with consumption of too many hormone-laced meats (eating organic meat is a good option). In addition, a diet high in high-glycemic carbs such as white breads and white pasta will undermine testosterone levels as well as pack on unwanted pounds.
To help trim down and keep IMS symptoms at bay, Larrian Gillespie, MD, author of The Gladiator Diet: How to Preserve Peak Health, Sexual Energy, and A Strong Body at Any Age (Healthy Life Publications), recommends a diet that's 40% protein, 35% low-glycemic carbs (read: green veggies) and 25% fat, of which only 10% should be saturated fat. To help keep testosterone levels up, avoid apricots, carrots, white potatoes, white rice (whole wheat past and rise are okay) and-sorry guys-dark beer.
Gillespie also recommends that men take a multivitamin daily along with calcium, magnesium and the herb saw palmetto to inhibit the breakdown of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone a precursor to prostate disease.
Now that you know IMS is real, you can take the bull (or Soay ram) by the horns and do something about it. IMS can be treated through diet, natural hormone replacement therapy and counseling, if necessary.
Question: What do you call a man who is always tired, miserable and irritable?
Wrong answer! That was the old guy. Mr. Nice is back. -Karyn Maier
Progesterone Cream - Supports Hormonal Balance
June 28, 2005 09:40 AM
Recent medical reports have profoundly shaken popular beliefs about the safety of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for women in menopause. You may be one of the six million women who are searching for alternatives. Source Naturals PROGESTERONE CREAM and PHYTO-ESTROGEN CREAM can help address normal menopausal discomforts, when used as part of a care for their own health needs. Source Naturals is committed to joining with your health food retailer to help insure that right.
Menopause and Hormonal Balance
Public confidence in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) suffered a major blow when the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health halted a large clinical trial out of concern for the safety of participants. Women are looking for natural alternatives to risky HRT.
Source Naturals Progesterone CREAM and PHYTO-ESTROGEN CREAM address the hormonal fluctuations that bring on the first disturbing hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. Used together or separately, these creams address declining levels of progesterone and estrogen.
Progesterone Cream from Woman-Friendly Soy
Progesterone is a steroid hormone made by the corpus luteum of the ovary at ovulation, and in smaller amounts by the adrenal glands. It is a precursor to most other steroid hormones, including cortisol, androstenedione, estrogen and testosterone. Because it is the precursor to so many hormones, progesterone is crucial for overall hormone balance. Yet progesterone levels can drop to near zero during menopause. Source Naturals PROGESTERONE CREAM supplies natural progesterone from soy.
Unlike creams which don’t divulge their progesterone content, Source Naturals PROGESTERONE CREAM is guaranteed to contain 500 mg of progesterone per ounce! This pure white cream softens and smoothes skin. Along with natural progesterone, it contains aloe vera, wild yam extract, natural vitamin E, lecithin phospholipid, jojoba oil, and extracts of ginseng root and grapefruit seed. Natural rosemary oil is added as a fragrance. Available in both tubes and jars for your convenience.
Phyto-Estrogen Cream: Plant Compounds Renowned for Menopause Estrogen levels drop 40-60% at menopause. Phytoestrogens—estrogens from plants—have been shown to bind to the same receptor sites as estrogen, helping maintain normal menstrual cycles and menopausal transitions. When there is too little estrogen (the situation during menopause), phytoestrogens substitute for the lack of human estrogen. Conversely, when estrogen levels are high (as in some women who experience PMS), phytoestrogens compete with human estrogen for binding to receptors and decrease overall estrogenic activity.
Source Naturals PHYTO-ESTROGEN CREAM is an almond-colored cream that can be massaged into smooth skin areas to add oil-rich, moisture-binding protection. PHYTO-ESTROGEN CREAM offers some of the finest phytoestrogens in the botanical world, including 60 mg of soy isoflavones per ounce. PHYTO-ESTROGEN CREAM also contains pomegranate seed juice (a natural source of estrone), red clover tops extract, black cohosh root extract, and dong quai root extract, along with aloe vera gel, natural vitamin E, cocoa butter, grapefruit seed extract, rosemary oil, and natural cherry almond fragrance.
Warning: Phyto-Estrogen Cream is not for use by women of childbearing age. DO NOT USE if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you may become pregnant.
Source Naturals offers you the first progesterone and phytoestrogen creams to utilize unique liposomal delivery of key ingredients. Liposomes are micro-penetrating lipid spheres made from lecithin, which pass through skin layers more easily than non-liposomal creams—for highest possible penetration of skin cells. Both creams are available in 2 and 4 oz jars. PROGESTERONE CREAM is also available in 2 and 4 oz tubes.
Lifestyle Tips for Menopause: A Strategy for Wellness
Eat Well: In certain cultures, hot flashes are practically unknown. It is generally true that women in these cultures eat foods rich in phytoestrogens. For example, in Southeast Asia, where soy proteins comprise 20% to 60% of daily protein intake, epidemiological studies suggest an association between a positive, trouble-free menopause and soy consumption.
Lignans—phytoestrogens found in flaxseed oil and unprocessed olive oil—may also have a protective effect. You should eat fresh, organic vegetables, fruits, cereals, beans, whole grains and small portions of fish or hormone-free chicken. Increase fluids and eat low-fat dairy foods. Avoid fatty meats, sugar, processed foods, fried foods, and chemicals. Adequate calcium intake— 1,500 mg per day—is crucial.
Use Supplements: Source Naturals HOT FLASH is an excellent complement to PROGESTERONE and PHYTO-ESTROGEN CREAMS. A recent comprehensive scientific review of natural menopause products (Annals of Internal Medicine 11/19/02) singled out soy isoflavones and black cohosh for their benefits in addressing hot flashes. Unlike most products, HOT FLASH contains clinical potencies of both soy isoflavones and standardized black cohosh extract. In addition, HOT FLASH contains additional herbs, renowned for use in menopause: vitex, licorice root and dong quai. To be sure you are covering all your nutritional bases, take a good daily multiple like MENOPAUSE MULTIPLE, especially designed for women 40+ years old.
Maintain a Healthy Weight: Women who are overweight have an increased risk of heart disease, while those who are thin or underweight are more susceptible to osteoporosis and hot flashes.
Rest and Relax: It is important to get adequate sleep, take naps if you feel tired, and avoid stress. Meditation and yoga can be helpful in reaching a state of calm. Take Care of Your Skin: A 1997 study of 3,875 postmenopausal women documented the relationship between low estrogen levels and skin dryness and loss of elasticity. Research has associated wrinkling with consumption of full-fat dairy products, butter, margarine, fatty meats and sugar. Drink lots of water—at least 1.5 liters daily. Water flushes out wastes, and acts as an internal moisturizer, keeping skin hydrated and supple. Spring water is beneficial since it contains trace minerals vital to healthy skin. For radiant skin, you should also try the Source Naturals SKIN ETERNAL™ family of creams and serums. This advanced cosmetic system recharges and revitalizes all skin types. Keep Cool. Avoid triggers such as spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, overheated rooms, hot beverages and stress. Wear layered clothing, and choose natural fabrics, such as cotton or wool.
Stay Active: Exercise benefits the heart and bones, helps regulate weight and contributes to overall well-being. Weight-bearing exercises are especially important for increasing bone mass. Kegel exercises (tightening and relaxing of the pelvic muscles) can improve bladder control, and may enhance sexual pleasure. Try Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM): Alternative therapies— herbal remedies, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine and much more—can help you cope with the physical and emotional changes of menopause.
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.
Menopause: Disease or Condition?
June 13, 2005 03:44 PM
Menopause: Disease or Condition?
by Mary Ann Mayo & Joseph L. Mayo, MD Energy Times, September 4, 1999
It's front-page news. It's politically correct and socially acceptable. Talking about menopause is in. Suddenly it's cool to have hot flashes. Millions of women turning 50 in the next few years have catapulted the subject of menopause into high-definition prominence.
It's about time. Rarely discussed openly by women (what did your mother ever advise you?), meno-pause until recently was dismissed as "a shutting down experience characterized by hot flashes and the end of periods." Disparaging and depressing words like shrivel, atrophy, mood swings and melancholia peppered the scant scientific menopausal literature.
What a difference a few years and a very vocal, informed and assertive group of Baby Boomers make. Staggered by the burgeoning numbers of newly confrontational women who will not accept a scribbled prescription and a pat on the head as adequate treatment, health practitioners and researchers have been challenged to unravel, explain and deal with the challenges of menopause.
Not An Overnight Sensation
Menopause, researchers have discovered, is no simple, clear cut event in a woman's life. The "change of life" does not occur overnight. A woman's body may begin the transition toward menopause in her early 40s, even though her last period typically occurs around age 51. This evolutionary time before the final egg is released is called the perimenopause. Erratic monthly hormone levels produce unexpected and sometimes annoying sensations.
Even as their bodies adjust to lower levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, some women don't experience typical signs of menopause until after the final period. A fortunate one-third have few or no discomforts.
According to What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause (Warner Books) by John R. Lee, MD, Jesse Hanley, MD, and Virginia Hopkins, "The steroid hormones are intimately related to each other, each one being made from another or turned back into another depending on the needs of the body...But the hormones themselves are just part of the picture. It takes very specific combinations of vitamins, minerals and enzymes to cause the transformation of one hormone into another and then help the cell carry out the hormone's message. If you are deficient in one of the important hormone-transforming substances such as vitamin B6 or magnesium, for example, that too can throw your hormones out of balance. Thyroid and insulin problems, toxins, bad food and environmental factors, medication and liver function affect nutrient and hormone balance."
The most important reproductive hormones include:
Estrogen: the female hormone produced by the ovaries from puberty through menopause to regulate the menstrual cycle and prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Manufacture drops significantly during menopause. Estradiol is a chemically active and efficient form of estrogen that binds to many tissues including the uterus, breasts, ovaries, brain and heart through specific estrogen receptors that allow it to enter those cells, stimulating many chemical reactions. Estriol and estrone are additional forms of estrogen.
Progesterone: also produced by the ovaries, it causes tissues to grow and thicken, particularly during pregnancy, when it protects and nurtures the fetus. Secretion ceases during menopause.
Testosterone: Women produce about one-twentieth of what men do, but require it to support sex drive. About half of all women quit secreting testosterone during menopause.
Estrogen's Wide Reach
Since estrogen alone influences more than 400 actions on the body, chiefly stimulating cell growth, the effects of its fluctuations can be far-reaching and extremely varied: hot (and cold) flashes, erratic periods, dry skin (including the vaginal area), unpredictable moods, fuzzy thinking, forgetfulness, fatigue, low libido, insomnia and joint and muscle pain.
Young women may experience premature menopause, which can occur gradually, as a matter of course, or abruptly with hysterectomy (even when the ovaries remain) or as a result of chemotherapy. Under such conditions symptoms can be severe.
In the 1940s doctors reasoned that if most discomforts were caused by diminishing estrogen (its interactive role with progesterone and testosterone were underestimated), replacing it would provide relief. When unchecked estrogen use resulted in high rates of uterine cancer, physicians quickly began adding progesterone to their estrogen regimens and the problem appeared solved.
For the average woman, however, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) became suspect and controversial, especially when a link appeared between extended use of HRT (from five to 10 years) and an increase in breast and endometrial cancers (Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 37, 1997). The result: Women have drawn a line in the sand between themselves and their doctors.
Resolving The Impasse
Since hormone replacement reduces the risk of major maladies like heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, colon cancer and diabetes that would otherwise significantly rise as reproductive hormone levels decrease, most doctors recommend hormone replacement shortly before or as soon as periods stop. Hormone replacement also alleviates the discomforts of menopause.
But only half of all women fill their HRT prescriptions and, of those who do, half quit within a year. Some are simply indifferent to their heightened medical risks. Some are indeed aware but remain unconvinced of the safety of HRT. Others complain of side effects such as bloating, headaches or drowsiness.
Women's resistance to wholesale HRT has challenged researchers to provide more secure protection from the diseases to which they become vulnerable during menopause, as well as its discomforts. If the conventional medical practitioners do not hear exactly what modern women want, the complementary medicine community does. Turning to centuries-old botanicals, they have validated and compounded them with new technology. Their effectiveness depends on various factors including the synergistic interaction of several herbs, specific preparation, the correct plant part and dosage, harvesting and manufacturing techniques.
Research demonstrates that plant hormones (phytoestrogens) protect against stronger potentially carcinogenic forms of estrogen while safely providing a hormone effect. Other herbs act more like tonics, zipping up the body's overall function.
Help From Herbs
Clinical trials and scientific processing techniques have resulted in plant-based supplements like soy and other botanicals that replicate the form and function of a woman's own estrogen.
The complementary community also can take credit for pushing the conventional medical community to look beyond estrogen to progesterone in postmenopausal health.
Natural soy or Mexican yam derived progesterone is formulated by pharmacologists in creams or gels that prevent estrogen-induced overgrowth of the uterine lining (a factor in uterine cancer), protect against heart disease and osteoporosis and reduce hot flashes (Fertility and Sterility 69, 1998: 96-101).
A quarter of the women who take the popularly prescribed synthetic progesterone report increased tension, fatigue and anxiety; natural versions have fewer side effects.
These "quasi-medicines," as Tori Hudson, a leading naturopathic doctor and professor at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon, calls them, are considered "stronger than a botanical but weaker than a medicine." (Hudson is author of Gynecology and Naturopathic Medicine: A Treatment Manual.)
According to Hudson, the amount of estrogen and progesterone in these supplements is much less than medical hormone replacement but equally efficacious in relieving menopausal problems and protecting the heart and bones.
According to a study led by Harry K. Genant, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, "low-dose" plant estrogen derived from soy and yam, supplemented with calcium, prevents bone loss without such side effects as increased vaginal bleeding and endometrial hypoplasia, abnormal uterine cell growth that could be a precursor to endometrial cancer (Archives of Internal Medicine 157, 1997: 2609-2615).
These herbal products, including natural progesterone and estrogen in the form of the weaker estriol or estrone, may block the effect of the stronger and potentially DNA-damaging estradiol.
Soy in its myriad dietary and supplemental forms provides a rich source of isoflavones and phytosterols, both known to supply a mild estrogenic effect that can stimulate repair of the vaginal walls (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83, 1991: 541-46).
To enhance vaginal moisture, try the herb cimicifuga racemosa, the extract of black cohosh that, in capsule form, builds up vaginal mucosa (Therapeuticum 1, 1987: 23-31). Traditional Chinese herbal formulas containing roots of rehmannia and dong quai have long been reputed to promote vaginal moisture.
Clinical research in Germany also confirms the usefulness of black cohosh in preventing hot flashes and sweating, as well as relieving nervousness, achiness and depressed moods caused by suppressed hormone levels. It works on the hypothalamus (the body's thermostat, appetite and blood pressure monitor), pituitary gland and estrogen receptors. Green tea is steeped with polyphenols, mainly flavonoids, that exert a massive antioxidant influence against allergens, viruses and carcinogens. The risks of estrogen-related cancers such as breast cancer are particularly lowered by these flavonoids, as these substances head directly to the breast's estrogen receptors. About three cups a day exert an impressive anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, antiviral and anticarcinogenic effect.
Other phytoestrogen-rich botanicals, according to Susun Weed's Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way (Ash Tree Publishing), include motherwort and lactobacillus acidophilus to combat vaginal dryness; hops and nettles for sleep disturbances; witch hazel and shepherd's purse for heavy bleeding; motherwort and chasteberry for mood swings; dandelion and red clover for hot flashes.
Our Need For Supplements
Adding micronutrients at midlife to correct and counter a lifetime of poor diet and other habits is a step toward preventing the further development of the degenerative diseases to which we become vulnerable. At the very minimum, you should take:
a multivitamin/mineral supplement vitamin E calcium
Your multivitamin/mineral should contain vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Look for a wide variety of antioxidants that safeguard you from free radical damage, believed to promote heart disease and cancer, as well as contribute to the aging process.
Also on the list: mixed carotenoids such as lycopene, alpha carotene and vitamin C; and folic acid to help regulate cell division and support the health of gums, red blood cells, the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system.
Studies indicate a deficiency of folic acid (folate) in 30% of coronary heart disease, blood vessel disease and strokes; lack of folate is thought to be a serious risk factor for heart disease (OB.GYN News, July 15, 1997, page 28).
Extra vitamin E is believed to protect against breast cancer and bolster immune strength in people 65 and older (Journal of the American Medical Association 277, 1997: 1380-86). It helps relieve vaginal dryness, breast cysts and thyroid problems and, more recently, hit the headlines as an aid in reducing the effects of Alzheimer's and heart disease. It is suspected to reduce the thickening of the carotid arterial walls and may prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which contributes to the formation of plaque in arteries.
Selenium also has been identified as an assistant in halting cancer (JAMA 276, 1996: 1957-63).
The Omegas To The Rescue
Essential fatty acids found in cold water fish, flaxseed, primrose and borage oils and many nuts and seeds are essential for the body's production of prostaglandin, biochemicals which regulate hormone synthesis, and numerous physiological responses including muscle contraction, vascular dilation and the shedding of the uterine lining. They influence hormonal balance, reduce dryness and relieve hot flashes.
In addition, the lignans in whole flaxseed behave like estrogen and act aggressively against breast cancer, according to rat and human studies at the University of Toronto (Nutr Cancer 26, 1996: 159-65).
Research has demonstrated that these omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can reverse the cancer-causing effects of radiation and other carcinogens (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 74, 1985: 1145-50). Deficiencies may cause swelling, increased blood clotting, breast pain, hot flashes, uterine and menstrual cramps and constipation. Fatigue, lack of endurance dry skin and hair and frequent colds may signal EFA shortage. Plus, fatty fish oils, along with vitamin D and lactose, help absorption of calcium, so vital for maintaining bone mass.
In addition, studies show that the natural substance Coenzyme A may help menopausal women reduce cholesterol and increase fat utilization (Med Hyp 1995; 44, 403, 405). Some researchers belive Coenzyme A plays a major role in helping women deal with stress while strengthening immunity.
Can't shake those menopausal woes? Menopause imposters may be imposing on you: The risk of thyroid disease, unrelenting stress, PMS, adrenal burnout, poor gastrointestinal health and hypoglycemia all increase at midlife. Menopause is a handy hook on which to hang every misery, ache and pain but it may only mimic the distress of other ailments. For this reason every midlife woman should have a good medical exam with appropriate tests to determine her baseline state of health. Only with proper analysis can you and your health practitioner hit on an accurate diagnosis and satisfying course of therapy.
And if menopause is truly the issue, you have plenty of company. No woman escapes it. No woman dies from it. It is not a disease but a reminder that one-third of life remains to be lived. Menopausal Baby Boomers can anticipate tapping into creative energy apart from procreation. If not new careers, new interests await. An altered internal balance empowers a menopausal woman to direct, perhaps for the first time, her experience of life. She has come of age-yet again. Gone is the confusion, uncertainty, or dictates of a hormone driven life: This time wisdom and experience direct her. There is no need to yearn for youth or cower at the conventional covenant of old age. Menopause is the clarion call to reframe, reevaluate and reclaim.
Mary Ann Mayo and Joseph L. Mayo, MD, are authors of The Menopause Manager (Revell) and executive editors of Health Opportunities for Women (HOW). Telephone number 877-547-5499 for more information.
Health Movements - Joining mind and body with healthy movement generates harmony
June 12, 2005 05:49 PM
Health Movements by Sylvia Whitefeather Energy Times, December 6, 2003
Mind/body exercises like yoga (especially the super-popular Bikram variety), tai chi and Pilates aren't just trendy, they're custom made to soothe the rough edges of modern life. So often does today's fast-paced world emphasize the mental and competitive aspects of existence that its inhabitants frequently neglect the necessity of gentle movement for the body. But these exercises are an antidote to the tendency to view the mind and body as separate entities.
Modern science is validating what traditional teachers have always known: The mind dwells in every cell. Joining mind and body with healthy movement generates harmony, lowers your chance of chronic illness and promotes emotional stability.
No one knows when yoga first appeared. Historians and archaeologists figure the practice was initiated in India somewhere between 3,000 and 1,500 BCE. But the father of the modern forms of yoga is considered to be a man named Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutra around 200 CE.
The literal translation of the word yoga is "union." As Jennifer Schwamm Willis notes in her book The Joy of Yoga (Marlowe), this practice represents "the union of body, mind and spirit." The purpose of learning the fundamental movements of yoga is to connect with your body, release knots of tension and improve strength and flexibility. In that way, the physical balance during a yoga session translates into inner balance during times of crisis or distress. Schwamm points out that ancient yoga practitioners believed "the aim of yoga is to quiet the fluctuations of the mind, to create stillness in order to hear one's inner voice..."
Yoga is used by many for stress relief. But it has other important uses: In a study presented by Oregon Health & Science University at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in April 2003, yoga was shown to benefit folks with multiple sclerosis. The researchers found that participants who regularly attended yoga class for six months suffered less fatigue and improved their quality of life.
A yoga class generally begins with warm-up postures, moves on to a core group of basic postures, and ends with poses meant to cool you down. An important aspect of yoga is breath work and control. Movement in and out of poses involves carefully orchestrated breath work. Inhalation and exhalation in timed sync with movement lies at the heart of yoga's benefits. Yoga beginners often feel stiff and inflexible. But with gentle, patient, regular practice, greater flexibility, strength and balance can be had. Experts say that a yoga session does not demand struggle; it asks for surrender. If one pose causes discomfort, try another.
One particular form of yoga, Bikram, is hot in terms of both popularity and room temperature: Not only is it one of the biggest trends in the fitness world, this demanding, aerobic take on yoga is conducted in heated rooms designed to maximize muscle relaxation and minimize injury risk. The heat also helps facilitate cleansing and detoxification. It was created by Bikram Choudhury, a four-time Indian yoga champ who founded the Yoga College of India in Beverly Hills, California.
As in other types of yoga, Bikram uses asanas, or poses, handed down through generations of yoga teachers. In this case, though, 26 asanas are done in a prescribed order over a 90-minute period. Everyone, from novice to expert, works out together, the idea being that each individual is working to stretch his or her own limits by becoming stronger, more flexible and less prone to illness.
Bikram yoga stresses the tourniquet effect, in which blood floods through vessels after they've momentarily been squeezed shut. This pressurizing effect is supposed to flush out debris, quickening circulation and releasing stress. The tourniquet effect also helps cleanse the lymphatic system. Proponents say Bikram improves balance, concentration and posture; increases energy; and eases sleep.
Like any other exercise program, Bikram yoga requires diligence: one center says a minimum of 10 classes over 30 days is needed for maximum benefits. And while hydration is important during all fitness routines, consuming adequate water is crucial when you're exercising in a hot room.
Tai chi (also known as taiji or tai chi ch'uan) consists of a series of fluid movements that build endurance, increase flexibility and balance, and foster alertness of mind and spirit. Tai chi developed around the 13th century as a form of martial arts in China based on the power of flow and grace, rooting and yielding, flexibility and endurance. To the onlooker, a person practicing the movements of tai chi has the quality of someone swimming in air.
This gentle form of movement can be practiced by people of almost all ages and physical conditions. Tai chi does not require special equipment, props or a floor mat. As a non-impact form of exercise, tai chi delivers minimal stress to the joints. Tai chi emphasizes proper body alignment and uses the large muscles in the legs to relieve stress from the hips, back and shoulders. It strengthens joints, increases range of motion and improves circulation of all body fluids. Like many other forms of mind/body exercise, tai chi relieves stress.
Tricia Yu, author of Tai Chi: Mind and Body (DK), has been practicing tai chi for over 30 years. She believes that tai chi not only has benefits as a health exercise, but that it "can have a beneficial effect on your mental and emotional states, as well as help you to feel connected with your surroundings." Yu adds, "Like yoga, tai chi originated in a culture that views the mind and body not as separate but rather as different expressions or states of qi-vital energy or life force."
Current research has validated the health benefits of tai chi. One study found that the knee strength of elderly people practicing tai chi improves significantly (J Gerontol A Biol Med Sci 2003 August; 58:M763-6). Participants in this study, whose average age was 72 years, benefited significantly after five months of tai chi. For the elderly, this extra strength and control translates into fewer falls and injuries.
Tai chi may help immunity. In a study published in the September 2003 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers reported that elderly folks who participated in a tai chi class for a period of 15 weeks "saw an improvement in factors that suppress shingles [a painful viral condition] increase by 50%." They also showed an increased ability to move throughout the day and a significant improvement in their general health.
Joseph Pilates (1880-1968) was a sickly child afflicted with asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Determined to recover his health, Pilates studied both Eastern and Western forms of exercise, incorporating moves from gymnastics, yoga and wrestling, along with controlled breathing. With his wife, Clara, Joseph Pilates developed the form of exercise known today as simply Pilates. In the 1920s, Joseph left his native Germany and came to New York City and began teaching his exercise style in dance studios.
Today, Pilates has gained acceptance both as an exercise style for fitness and as a system for physical rehabilitation. Because of its benefits, Pilates is practiced in hospitals, wellness centers, gyms and specialized Pilates studios. It is used by athletes, dancers and anyone looking to increase endurance and improve flexibility, balance and muscle tone.
The basic principle of Pilates focuses on increasing what is called core strength. Core muscle groups include the abdominal, pelvic floor and back muscles. If these muscle groups are strong, then the body is balanced and strong. The Pilates method also encourages flexibility by building long, strong muscles without bulk.
The Stott method is one of the most popular forms of Pilates. This technique combines traditional Pilates exercises with movements updated to conform with modern knowledge about the biomechanics of the human body. By stabilizing muscles in the pelvis and shoulders, and keeping the spine and pelvis in safe, neutral positions, knowledgeable Pilates instructors minimize the chance of injury during these exercises.
Pilates exercises have been shown to help reduce back pain. Researchers report that "Pilates method can be useful for patients with chronic low back pain and deconditioning" (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002 May; 25/4:E3).
According to Ken Endelman, the founder of Balanced Body, maker of Pilates equipment, "Pilates is a full-body exercise. It focuses on flexibility and control, not adding bulk; bulk defeats flexibility. This flexibility is particularly important as we age. Staying flexible is key, and Pilates is good at those types of things."
A Pilates routine can be structured to fit your specific physical needs or goals. Instructors use specially designed equipment along with mat work to improve fitness. The human body was designed to move. Again and again, research shows that exercise maintains health, vitality, longevity, weight and quality of life. If you match your exercise with your physical needs and goals, and your personality, you are more likely to stay with that program whether it is aerobics, walking, Pilates or yoga. For real benefits, physical fitness has to be a lifetime endeavor.
The Blood Sugar Blues - help lower blood sugar
June 12, 2005 08:08 AM
The Blood Sugar Blues by Carl Lowe Energy Times, July 10, 2003
The cells in your body run on the sugar they get from blood. Normally, this energy distribution system functions efficiently. When things go awry, however, blood sugar fluctuations can cause serious problems.
If your blood sugar stays too high, your pancreas, heart and other organs suffer. But stabilize your blood sugar and you can stabilize your health.
Problems linked to too much blood sugar are widespread. Diabetes, in which the body becomes increasingly unable to regulate blood sugar levels, is one of the most serious and widespread conditions. Plus, researchers now know that elevated blood sugar, even if you don't suffer diabetes, elevates your risk of heart disease and pancreatic cancer (JAMA 5/17/00).
Researchers at the Northwestern University Medical School have shown that with every bump up in your blood sugar levels, your chances of contracting pancreatic cancer rises significantly.
"Because the prevalence of type 2 (adult onset) diabetes and obesity, including childhood obesity, is steadily increasing, identifying a potential causal association between hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and pancreatic cancer could have important preventive and prognosticative implications for this cancer," notes Susan M. Gapstur, MD, a professor at Northwestern.
In other words, measuring your blood sugar can go a long way towards measuring the odds of developing this devastating condition. In the United States, pancreatic cancer is the fifth most deadly cancer. The disease is difficult to discover, and tumors in the pancreas usually remain hidden until the cancer has spread throughout the body.
Blood Sugar and Heart Problems
A collection of researchers now believes your blood sugar level so closely predicts your heart disease risk that blood sugar may be a more accurate heart disease predictor than cholesterol. According to a study in England (BMJ 2001; 322:15), the higher your blood sugar level, the higher your risk of heart disease and other serious health problems.
In particular, a type of blood sugar called glycated hemoglobin may provide an indication of what kind of trouble your heart and arteries may face in the future.
Glycated hemoglobin is blood glucose (sugar) that has latched onto your red blood cells. The levels of this type of attached sugar climbs when blood sugar levels consistently stay too high. After a while, this sugar not only sticks to blood cells, it also starts sticking to other tissues, an occurrence that can lead to cardiovascular disease.
While about one in twenty people in their late 40s or older has diabetes, experts estimate that almost three out of four have at least some degree of elevated glycated hemoglobin.
Higher and Higher
Men and postmenopausal women are at highest risk for elevated blood sugar. Your blood sugar also generally increases:
You can lower your risk of forming glycated hemoglobin by taking the antioxidant vitamins C and E and drinking three or four alcoholic drinks a week (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000: 71(5)). In addition, losing weight and exercising also drops your glycated hemoglobin.
When glucose enters the bloodstream after a meal, it has a variety of possible destinations. It can be picked up by brain cells, which use glucose as their only source of fuel (this explains why low blood sugar can cause headaches, dizziness and shakiness). Glucose also can enter muscles, which can burn either glucose or fat for energy. Or glucose can enter fat cells for storage-not a desirable option for someone who is already overweight.
One reason blood sugar may rise to unhealthy levels is a condition called glucose resistance or intolerance, which occurs when insulin, the hormone-like substance that shepherds glucose into the body's cells, can't do its job efficiently. That leads to blood which is too rich in both sugar and insulin.
Researchers believe that the element chromium can help the body use insulin more effectively, which, when combined with adequate exercise, allows glucose to more easily enter muscle cells.
"In experiments, chromium supplementation has actually been found to improve glucose tolerance in some diabetics and in people with impaired glucose tolerance," says nutrition researcher and teacher Shari Lieberman, PhD, in The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book (Avery/Penguin).
In a number of investigations, chromium has not only helped improve glucose tolerance, but it has also decreased circulating insulin, glycated hemoglobin and cholesterol levels (Journal of the American College of Nutrition 1998; 17:548-55). (People with elevated glucose levels often suffer from elevations in cholesterol as well. In the search for ways to improve cholesterol levels, Germany's Commission E, an herbal authority respected around the world, has approved the use of garlic to help support healthy cholesterol.)
Ginseng and Blood Sugar
American ginseng, an herb known as an adaptogen (which means it helps the body cope with everyday stress) is another tool for controlling blood sugar. Research at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto shows that taking American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) about 40 minutes before you eat can reduce your blood sugar (Archives of Internal Medicine 4/9/00).
According to Vladimir Vuksan, MD, lead investigator for the research team, these findings may have important implications for the treatment and prevention of diabetes. "Although preliminary, these findings are encouraging and indicate that American ginseng's potential role in diabetes should be taken seriously and investigated further. Controlling after-meal blood sugar levels is recognized as a very important strategy in managing diabetes. It may also be important in the prevention of diabetes in those who have not yet developed the disease," says Dr. Vuksan.
Fat vs Sugar
Supplemental helpings of the fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) have also been shown to control blood sugar and lower your risk of diabetes (Journal of Nutrition 1/03). "In previous work, we found that CLA delayed the onset of diabetes in rats," says Martha Belury, PhD, the senior author of the investigation and an associate professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University. "In (our latest) study, we found that it also helped improve the management of adult-onset diabetes in humans."
Dr. Belury's research shows that CLA may help lower levels of leptin, a hormone believed to regulate fat levels. By reducing leptin, CLA may help reduce body fat, which, in turn, may lower the risk of diabetes and high blood sugar.
A consistent, long-term exercise program is one of the single best ways to convince your body to temper blood sugar levels and lower your risk of developing diabetes (Clinical Exercise Physiology 2/15/02).
"It now appears that there is...a long-term beneficial effect from regular exercise, most likely due to the fact that a significant amount of fat is lost," says exercise physiologist Cris Slentz, PhD. "Long-term exercise leads to loss of fat in the gut (stomach) region, which is especially beneficial since this fat is thought to be directly linked to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease."
Dr, Slentz's study examined how exercise influences the way the body uses sugar in people who have a high risk of diabetes.
In this research, five overweight individuals who had never exercised before engaged in an intensive workout program for nine months. Afterwards, they went back to their couch potato lives.
Dr. Slentz and other investigators measured their blood sugar before they started the exercise program and then remeasured these levels at one day, five days and thirty days after the nine-month regimen ended.
The researchers also looked at these people's insulin sensitivity, a measure of how well their bodies controlled blood sugar.
"Insulin sensitivity, or its ability to stimulate glucose metabolism, was higher after nine months of exercise, and the fasting insulin levels were lower," Slentz said. "Just as importantly, 30 days after stopping exercise, insulin sensitivity was still 24% higher than pre-exercise levels, indicating that beneficial effects of exercise persisted."
In this study, people pedaled exercise bikes, walked on treadmills and climbed stairs. By the end of the research, they were working out about an hour a day.
So if you've put off devoting yourself to an exercise program and taking care of your blood sugar, you now have more reason to start as soon as possible. Paying attention to blood sugar pays off.
Stevia, Xylitol Sugar alternatives ...
June 09, 2005 06:15 PM
Sugar Solution by Kristin Daniels Energy Times, January 4, 2002
Sugar Solution by Kristin Daniels
Low blood sugar-a blood sugar recession-can make the good times recede. While you can't live without blood sugar, too much or too little wreaks havoc on your body and mind. And when blood sugar dips low enough to cause hypoglycemia you may feel like your emotions have been shredded. Knowing how the body regulates blood sugar allows you a measure of control in keeping blood sugar in the proper groove, and makes life a little sweeter. Hypoglycemia occurs when you feel dragged out because of low blood sugar. Ironically, this low blood sugar syndrome may be caused by an overabundance of sugar in your meals and snacks. Those who point to hypoglycemia as a widespread problem claim that up to two of three women in America suffer from hypoglycemia. That would make it an epidemic of monstrous proportions. In a survey of 1000 folks complaining of hypoglycemia, published in the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation's winter 2000 edition, researchers found that low blood sugar sufferers complained of hypoglycemic discomforts in several main categories: 94% of the people in the study reported nervousness, 89% mentioned irritability, exhaustion affected 87%, depression struck 86% and drowsiness hit 73%. Other miseries included fatigue, cold sweats, tinnitus (ringing of the ears), rapid heart rate, blurry or double vision, confusion, sudden hunger, convulsions, sweating, sleeping problems, paleness, muscle pain, memory loss, crying jags, fainting and dizziness.
Body of Evidence
Diary of a Maddening Condition
Attentive Child - Enhances Mental Concentration ...
May 31, 2005 05:14 PM
Most children are creative, energetic and spontaneous, but sometimes they don’t focus on requested activities. Sometimes kids find it difficult to apply themselves to the task at hand. Your child’s brain also may work differently than most people’s brains— just like the 5% of the population that is left-handed. Most people think an ultra-active child means an active brain, but active children may actually need a boost in brain metabolism. Source Naturals ATTENTIVE CHILD is a Bio-Aligned Formula™ designed to address the multiple systems that affect children’s ability to focus: neurotransmitters and brain metabolism, nerve cell communication, antioxidant defense, and essential fatty acid metabolism.
Comprehensive Brain Support
Parents are looking for a safe and natural product to support their children’s ability to focus. Source Naturals studied the research and created an experiential formula, based on the latest breakthroughs in cerebral and nervous system biochemistry. Each ingredient in ATTENTIVE CHILD plays a role in brain and nervous system structure or functioning, or is involved in important biochemical pathways. DMAE, a substance normally found in the brain, boosts brain metabolism and has been shown to enhance concentration. L-Aspartate is an amino acid neurotransmitter that stimulates brain activity. Research has shown that some ultra-active children may have special dietary needs for magnesium, zinc and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Magnesium is necessary for the transmission of nerve signals, and, along with zinc, for the processing of essential fatty acids into other vital biochemicals. DHA is an essential fatty acid that is very important for cerebral development and effective communication between nerve cells in the brain. Lecithin contains four phospholipids—fatty acid building-block molecules in nerve cell membranes. Phosphatidylserine, in particular, is vital in nerve cell communication and the electrical activity of the brain. Grape seed extract is a plant-derived antioxidant that protects the integrity of fatty acids in nerve cell membranes.
ATTENTIVE DHA™ in Tiny Kid Caps™
The ATTENTIVE CHILD formula can be supplemented with additional DHA. ATTENTIVE DHA Kid Caps are available in easy-to-swallow, small oval softgels, each containing 100 mg of DHA. For children who can’t swallow caps, simply pierce the gel and mix the oil with food. Sweeteners with Low Impact on Blood Sugar The delicious sweetand- tart taste in ATTENTIVE CHILD wafers comes from natural flavors, specially manufactured without sugar for Source Naturals. Unless specified, most flavors in other products contain maltodextrin, a sugar with a high glycemic index. The ATTENTIVE CHILD wafer itself is sweetened with crystalline fructose (natural fruit sugar) and xylitol (a naturally occurring sweetening agent found in many fruits and vegetables). These select natural sweeteners have a very low glycemic index—so ATTENTIVE CHILD will taste great to your child, but have little effect on blood sugar levels. We recommend carefully reviewing the labels of other products. They may contain honey, glucose, sucrose, maltodextrin, and maltose—all of which have moderate-tohigh glycemic indexes. In addition, maple sugar, molasses, malt syrup, rice syrup, and beet sugar contain varying amounts of high-glycemic-index sugars, which can set off blood sugar fluctuations that may affect concentration. Beware of children’s nutritional bars designed to enhance focus and concentration. Most have over 20 grams of sugar per bar. In contrast, each serving of ATTENTIVE CHILD contains only two grams of crystalline fructose, which has little effect on blood sugar.
Glycemic Index of Various Sweeteners
The glycemic index is a ranking of foods based on their immediate effect on blood glucose levels. It measures how much your blood glucose increases over a period of two or three hours after intake. The higher the glycemic index (GI), the greater the fluctuations in blood sugar. Sweetener Glycemic Index†
*sweeteners used in ATTENTIVE CHILD ™ †based on rate of 100 for glucose ††for information, see website www.wcommerce.com
Lifestyle Strategies for Your Child
You can help your child concentrate on schoolwork, chores and other challenges. Start with ATTENTIVE CHILD and ATTENTIVE DHA, and then incorporate a healthy lifestyle and nutrition routine.
Have your child’s overall health checked by a welltrained holistic health care professional, such as a naturopathic physician. It is particularly important to examine the functioning of your child’s thyroid gland (the master regulator of the body’s metabolism, which influences mood and energy level), and blood sugar metabolism (the brain depends on a steady supply of glucose to function properly, particularly when you are trying to concentrate).
Nutritional Health: Feeding the Brain
Help your child maintain a steady supply of energy and brain fuel by providing a balanced diet. Small, frequent meals are preferable since they dispense a steady level of glucose to the brain. Include foods high in the amino acid tyrosine, a precursor to neurotransmitters that support an alert state. It is found in protein foods, such as meat, poultry, beans, tofu, lentils and seafood. Also include complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which are metabolized slowly and yield a steady supply of glucose. The simple sugars found in candy, cookies, sodas and other processed foods can lead to a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, followed by an abrupt decline, and should be discouraged. It is important to include essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in the brain and essential for its development and normal functioning. Supplement with ATTENTIVE DHA, and encourage your child to eat cold-water fish, such as salmon. Avoid the hydrogenated fats found in processed foods and margarine, as well as chemicals and food additives. A nutrition program consisting of fresh, unprocessed natural foods is the healthiest choice for everyone.
Some experts believe extended time watching TV and playing video games does not support optimal health or school performance. EEG studies have shown that these activities decrease brain activity rather than activating the brain. Encourage your child to spend time in outdoor physical recreation and in creative, challenging activities.
Supplement with ATTENTIVE CHILD and ATTENTIVE DHA
ATTENTIVE CHILD is available in bottles of 30 & 60 chewable wafers. ATTENTIVE DHA Kid Caps (algal-source Neuromins®) are available in 30- & 60-softgel bottles. References Amen, D. Windows into the....Mind. Fairfield, CA: MindWorks Press, 1997. Foster-Powell, K. & Miller, J.B. 1995, International tables of glycemic index. Am J Clin Nutr. 62:871S-93S. Natah, S.S. et al. 1997. Metabolic response to lactitol and xylitol in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr. Apr; 65(4):947-50. Schmidt, Michael. Smart Fats. Berkeley: Frog, Ltd., 1997. Sears, William. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1998.