Search Term: " medicines "
Cannabinoid-Pharmaceutical Interactions: What You Need to Know
February 17, 2018 03:59 PM
With the regulatory environment shifting seemingly by the day across much of the U.S., many consumers are getting their first opportunities to consider the benefits of cannabinoids as a means of treating what ails them. However, like any medicines, there are interactions with other pharmaceuticals that need to be taken into consideration. Specifically, they can inhibit the reception and mechanisms of action of many common prescription drugs, including common opiate painkillers. In order to check side effects, it's best to keep a close eye on the literature and carefully research any possible interactions.
"Cannabis has demonstrated efficacy in treating pain, and some phytocannabinoids have been suggested for various metabolic conditions."
Read more: https://www.projectcbd.org/about/cannabis-pharmacology/cannabinoid-pharmaceutical-interactions-what-you-need-know
Anti-cancer breakthrough: 52 herbs were tested, and only these three were found to effectively fight cancer
August 19, 2017 12:14 PM
Natural herbs have been used medicinally for centuries. Ancient civilizations have used them to cure many minor and major ailments. These herbs are now being studied to treat strains of cancer. Scientists from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology have reviewed the high contrast image screening of 52 herbs to test their properties that may affect cancer. In all of these 52 herbs three have showed promising results. They all originate in the middle east and include Citrullus colocynthis, Anastatica hierochuntica, and Juniperus phoenicea. More testing is necessary. With the discovery of these herbs' possible treatment powers, more people are hopeful to discover new herbs in such places as the Amazon Rainforest. Although recent deforestation is an issue.
"The three plants that showed a lot of promise were Anastatica hierochuntica, Citrullus colocynthis, and Juniperus phoenicea. All of these had potent anti-cancer substances known as topoisomerase inhibitors that could potentially be used to develop anti-cancer inhibitors."
Read more: http://www.naturalnews.com/2017-08-15-anti-cancer-breakthrough-52-herbs-were-tested-and-only-these-three-were-found-to-effectively-fight-cancer.html
Garlic, honey and apple cider vinegar: Powerful natural mixture against indigestion, obesity
January 28, 2017 07:59 AM
If you are wary of prescription medicines, you may want to look into natural remedies for ailments. A simple mixture of garlic, honey, and apple cider vinegar is effective in helping with gastrointestinal issues and warding off obesity. This is believed to be due to garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties and the vitamins and minerals present in honey. The recipe is quite easy. Simply mix one cup honey, one cup apple cider vinegar, and ten cloves of minced garlic. To be the most effective, you should use the freshest and most organic sources of each ingredients as possible.
"These solutions are also typically far safer and cost pennies on the dollar compared to steep costs for conventional medical treatments. Better yet, these down-to-earth treatments are usually simple and accessible to all people."
What Is Artemisinin?
April 28, 2014 06:56 PM
Artemisinin health benefits
Long known as an imposing enemy to malaria and other significant parasites, studies indicate that Artemisinin could assume a useful part in cancer medicines. Uncovered to be a compelling malaria medication many years prior by Chinese botanists, the most recent century has seen that artemisinin is utilized productively within western pharmaceutical. Not just artemisinin treat the worldwide executioner malaria, yet late studies are additionally revealing to its medicinal viability extending from malaria to cancer.
It's exceptionally extraordinary in its sub-atomic structure in that it has two oxygen particles joined together by what's known as an 'endoperoxide span'. Why Artemisinin utilization are so wide is unequivocally on account of this extension and its unique atomic structure. Its piece implies it responds with particles with a high iron substance, for example, malaria parasites and cancerous tumors. Upon contact with infected cells (with this high iron substance), its system of activity is to structure free radicals. These free radicals are poisonous to the respectability of the attacking cells, separating them and in the end leaving the contaminated cells devastated.
Can Vitamin E Cream Sooth The Skin?
April 28, 2014 06:18 PM
Vitamin E can do
Vitamin E cream has been accustomed to bring ease for a long time for some diverse conditions and Vitamin E Cream soothe the skin. In a large portion of these cases, the patients have been content with vitamin E cream and what is accomplished for them. At one time, the cream was utilized just by dermatologists and plastic specialists. Regardless they utilize it today as a preoperative and post-agent medicine to counteract wounding and swelling, accelerate the mending and reduce the scarring.
Vitamin E benefits
Quite a while, individuals needed to hold up until the wounding was gone before they could stress over the scarring, and frequently it was past the point of no return. Numerous wounds are presently maintained a strategic distance from utilizing vitamin E cream instantly. Despite the fact that we all wound occasionally, some wound faster and less demanding than others do. The cream helps the wounding go away faster.
The vitamin E cream is exceptionally famous by elderly individuals that regularly wound simpler. They are additionally more inclined to straight forward mischances in the process of a day. The utilization of the cream disposes of the wound faster, as well as helps wipe out the possibility of scarring. What numerous individuals like about the cream, particularly the elderly, is that it is accessible without a remedy. This engages a large portion of the elderly who cannot generally bear the cost of an office visit with their specialist.
You've heard about the profits of this Cream for wounds. To numerous individuals, the cream is a marvel cream. One condition that vitamin E creams extremely useful with is insect veins. For a long time individuals have been tormented and disturbed by arachnid veins, feeling there was no assistance or alleviation accessible until they were acquainted with Vitamin E cream. Right away they are thankfully disposing of these terrible imprints with the assistance of it. Contrasted with the cost of numerous different medicines, the cream is an extremely economical cure.
Information on slippery elm bark
February 09, 2012 11:56 AM
The Ulmus fulva tree is medicinal tree that was commonly found in deep soil areas that are rich in nutrients. The type of tree was predominantly found along stream banks and areas with low hillsides but rocky. The medicinal properties of the slippery elm bark were first discovered by Americans of Indian origin where they used it in healing of wounds and preservation of meat. They placed it in water and it swelled and produced a sticky substance that was soothing.
Later on, English early settlers were able to discover the wide use of the tree and to improve their medicinal remedies, they added it during their manufacture especially those that were mainly used to treat wounds, cold sores and boils. They also used it to relieve urinary tract diseases, sores of the throats and coughs.
During wars, the tree was largely used as an antiseptic in form of a cream for treating wounds caused by gunshots and as the only food that was available for people to eat. This food was made by mixing the tree with water to make gruel which was very nutritious and everyone including the little children, the old and the sick were served to eat. People were also ingesting it in order to treat coughs, sore of the throats as well as respiratory infections.
The tree has numerous health benefits and the main one is the soothing property it has hence it has been widely used to treat inflammation of the throat plus esophagus. Traditional medicine men have added it in their cough treatments to sooth sores of the throats and irritations in the mouth.
It has also been used to prevent constipation, constant diarrhea and a neutralizer for excess acids in the linings of the intestines. Its gum like nature makes it a perfect meal for people suffering from cancer or ulcers and is the only food that remains in the stomach to sustain them and provide energy during hunger.
Because of its high nutritional content, it is widely used as food and when grounded to powder it can be used to make porridge, which is very nutritious and is similar to the porridge made from oatmeal. It helps babies who have digestion problems and is ideal for sick people and the aged.
It has been widely used to lubricate and relieve pain during childbirth and is very good in removing toxins and other impurities from the body. It is a natural preservative, an antiseptic for healing wounds and may be applied as a dysentery injection. If used earlier, it can be useful as a dental treatment to kill bacteria in the tooth.
It is used widely recommended as a perfect natural alternative treatment for heart problems as compared to other medicines, a suggested treatment for cancer and in females, it has been useful in treating various infections and diseases affecting their organs. Indeed the slippery elm bark is a significant part of the tree and a natural remedy for a wide number of diseases.
March 29, 2009 10:08 AM
Constipation occurs when one has difficulty passing stools, or infrequently passes hard, dry stools. This is the result of food moving extremely slowly through the large intestine. From time to time, most people experience constipation. However, lifestyle changes and better eating habits can help to relieve the symptoms and prevent recurrences. Constipation usually results from insufficient amounts of fiber and fluids in the diet. Fiber can be found in plant foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber that is water-soluble takes on a soft texture and is helpful in softening the stools. Insoluble fiber goes through the large intestine unchanged and is helpful in adding bulk to the stools to stimulate bowel contractions.
Other factors that can cause constipation include inadequate exercise, advanced age, muscle disorders, structural abnormalities, bowel diseases, neurogenic disorders, and a poor diet, especially a heavy consumption of junk food. Constipation can also be a side effect of iron supplements and some drugs, like painkillers and antidepressants. It is also common during pregnancy. High levels of calcium and low levels of thyroid hormone can also lead to constipation. Those with kidney failure are also prone to having problems with constipation. Constipation is often caused by dehydration in older individuals, with depression being a factor in people of any age. Some medications, like cough syrups, pain medications that contain codeine, antidepressants, iron supplements, blood pressure and heart medicines, calcium supplements, and some antihistamines can also cause constipation.
A small percentage of people with spinal injuries and other similar problems have constipation because the nerves that usually regulate bowel movement have been damaged or destroyed. A condition referred to as Hirshsprung’s disease makes the normal excretion of feces impossible because the nerves inside the bowel are missing. The nerve cells in the colon can also be damaged by long-term use of laxatives, which makes constipation inevitable. A thrombosed hemorrhoid, anal fissure, or a pocket of infection at the anus can create a spasm of pain that is strong enough to contract the muscles and prevent the evacuation of stools.
Constipation can cause a variety of other ailments such as appendicitis, bad breath, body odor, coated tongue, depression, diverticulitis, fatigue, gas, headaches, hemorrhoids, hernia, indigestion, insomnia, mal-absorption syndrome, obesity, and varicose veins. It may even be involved in the development of other serious diseases like bowel cancer. It is important to have regular bowel movements in order to remove toxins from the body. Toxins from bowel bacteria and undigested food particles play a part in the development of diabetes mellitus, meningitis, myasthenia gravis, thyroid disease, candidiasis, chronic gas and bloating, migraines, fatigue, and ulcerative colitis. People can have bowel movements as infrequently as three times a week and still not be constipated, but there are some health practitioners that believe that it is important to have a bowel movement every day.
The following nutrients are very helpful in dealing with and preventing constipation: garlic, vitamin C with bioflavonoids, apple pectin, chlorophyll liquid, essential fatty acids, a multi-enzyme complex, a multivitamin and mineral complex, vitamin B complex, vitamin D3, vitamin E. Additionally, the following herbs are also beneficial: alfalfa extract, fennel seed, aloe vera, ginger, milk thistle, triphala, cascara sagrada, goldenseal, rhubarb root, senna leaves, and yerba mate.
Adding a good fiber supplement as well as the above mentioned supplements can help one stop constipation and start normal bowel movements again. Natural fiber, vitamins, and herbs are available at your local or internet health food store. Look for name brands such as Source Naturals, Solaray, Kal, Planetary Formulas, and Natures Plus to ensure quality and safely of all your natural supplement needs.
*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Vitamins, herbs, and fibers are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.
December 20, 2008 11:16 AM
If starting your day with a cup or coffee or two, having another while you’re on the road, another after arriving at work, and another to get through the afternoon slump, and perhaps a can of pop or a candy bar after work followed by an ice tea and ice cream after dinner, you may have a serious caffeine addiction.
Many people often feel irritable as the next day’s events are closing in on them at bed time and are restless about the next day’s problems race through their mind. It’s been like this for years for many of us, with an estimated 80 percent of adult Americans being regular coffee drinkers and each adult coffee drinker averaging 3.3 cups of coffee per day, without taking into account other sources of caffeine.
Caffeine can be found in tea, chocolate, soft drinks, and medicines, but is most often consumed in coffee. Coffee is somewhat popular because of the stimulating effect of its caffeine constituent, but it can contribute to irritability, depression, diarrhea, insomnia, and other disorders. The number one legal mind-altering drug in the world, caffeine is odorless, slightly bitter and can be found in coffee, tea, kola nuts, ilex plants, mate, and cocoa. You may know and accept that you have a caffeine habit, but many people are convinced that they need a pick-me-up from time to time in order to get through the day. What is important is that caffeine is not actually giving you the burst of energy, but instead negative moods and emotions.
The coffee tree, which is a small evergreen, has smooth leaves and clusters of fragrant white flowers that mature into red fruits that are about half of an inch long. The fruit contains two seeds usually, which become raw coffee beans when dried. After roasting, coffee contains more than 700 volatile substances including acids, alcohols, and even residues of cancer-causing pesticides. In all fairness, caffeine does act as a mild stimulant to the nervous system when used in moderation, which results in a feeling of well-being and alertness. It increases the heart rate, urination, and stimulates the secretion of stomach acid.
Although a little caffeine may wake us up and give us a sense of energy, too much caffeine actually hurts our moods and overall well being. Two cups of caffeine per day seems to have a positive effect, but research shows that even one cup a day is enough to cause dependence. Caffeine may temporarily improve your mood and give a sense of vitality, it wears off and your mood and energy levels crash to levels even lower than before. Additionally, our bodies adjust, causing us to need more caffeine to give us the same desired effect. Caffeine does not provide any energy or increase our alertness. Instead, it stimulates our bodies.
Excessive intake of coffee can lead to restlessness, insomnia, and heart irregularities. Those people who drink a lot of coffee often complain of jittery nerves, chronic anxiety, frequent bouts of diarrhea or loose stools, and restless nights. Coffee can also cause stomach and intestinal problems, as well as coronary diseases. An occasional cup of coffee is one thing, but depending on a cup to keep you awake is something entirely different.
Harsh symptoms of withdrawal such as headache, fatigue, and depression are common among regular caffeine users. Caffeine also causes the body to expel vital nutrients like b vitamins from the body that we need to function. If you consume more than two cups of coffee each day then a multi-vitamin should be taken once daily to help replenish was is lost by the diuretic effects of caffeine in the body.
Holy Basil Extract
November 28, 2008 10:04 AM
It has been proposed that holy basil extract can help you cope with stress, and an investigation into the active components of the plant does indicate that there could be a scientific basis behind this use of it. This is in line with most traditional Ayurvedic medicines, whose benefits have been supported by modern scientific evidence.
Holy basil, otherwise known as Tulsi or Tulasi in Sanskrit and Hindi, is correctly Ocimum tenuiflorum, an aromatic member of the Lamiaceae family just as the more common form of basil is (Ocimum basilicum). Holy basil is cultivated for several reasons, the major ones being for its essential oils, for culinary use, religious use and for its medicinal properties. It is grown right across South Asia. Thai holy basil is used in Thai cookery while other forms play an important role within some of the traditions of Hinduism and is found profusively around Hindu temples.
Holy basil extract has been used for thousands of years for its healing and medicinal properties, and is mentioned in the ancient Ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita. It is written that it is used to balance a number of bodily processes and believed to be involved in promoting longevity. It is considered to be able to allow the body to adapt to stress and is also used to treat a large number of different medical conditions, from headaches to malaria and heart disease.
Most modern medical studies, however, have been carried out on animals rather than human subjects, so definitive evidence is lacking, and while there is evidence that tulsi extract might be an effective antioxidant and help in the control of blood sugar, there is also compelling evidence that it might be able to counteract the effects of stress. First, let's have a look at the active ingredients of holy basil extract, and how they fit in with the beneficial medical properties claimed.
One of the more important components of tulsi is eugenol, or 1-hydroxy-2-methoxy-4-allylbenzene. Eugenol is a phenylpropanoid, also found in clove oil, and is a COX-2 inhibitor that is used in medicine as a local anesthetic. Two others are the triterpenes oleanolic and ursolic acids, which possess anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. The pentacyclic ursolic acid can inhibit the development of various forms of cancers through the inhibition of the STAT3 pathway that is responsible for several types of human cancer that have poor prognosis.
Also present in holy basil extract is the polyphenol Rosmarinic acid which is a powerful antioxidant that is also present in herbs such as rosemary, oregano and thyme. Rosmarinic acid will also contribute to the anti-inflammatory properties of holy basil, and many of the antibacterial properties it is said to possess could be due to carvacrol, a terpene that damages bacterial cell membranes and inhibits the growth of a number of bacterial strains.
Another component of Tulsi is the sesquiterpene B-caryophyllene, also contained in clove oil, and also possessing anti-inflammatory properties in mice. It is unknown whether or not these properties are transferred to humans, but the evidence of the use of the plant is that they are. Beta-caryophyllene is an FDA approved food additive, and as such, a dietary cannabinoid. Apegenin, also present in tulsi, is a flavanoid and another strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
With all of these ingredients that have proven health benefits, it is little wonder that holy basil is claimed to have the health benefits that it has. But what about its effects on blood sugar that it is said to control? It's probably not a coincidence that many other herbs that contain eugenol, such as cloves, are also claimed to have the same moderating effect on blood sugar levels. Not only that, but since diabetes is an inflammatory condition, it is not surprising that holy basil extract, that is rich in ant-inflammatories, should possess this property.
The main theory is that many of the components of holy basil can help support the beta cell function of the pancreas, and so enhance the secretion of insulin. In one of the few controlled human tests, a group of 40 people with Type 2 diabetes stopped taking their normal medication seven days before the test. They were then given holy basil leaves for an initial period of 5 days. Half were then given 2.5g powder holy basil leaf and the other half a placebo for 4 weeks. The two groups then switched over for 4 weeks - the first being on the placebo, and the second taking the holy basil.
With the first group, the average fasting glucose level dropped by 25.9%, from 234.5 mg/dl to 99.7. After switching to the placebo for 4 weeks it increased to 115.6 mg/dl (15.9% increase). The fasting blood glucose of the second group dropped from an average of 132.4 to 123.2 (6.9%), and then when on the holy basil leaf, dropped further to 97.2 mg/dl (21.1%).
This demonstrates clearly that holy basil leaf reduces blood sugar significantly faster than fasting, and so is beneficial to Type 2 diabetics. Perhaps more such studies should be carried out to confirm these important results, which appear to conform to the theory that the components of the plant should have this type of effect on blood sugar levels.
How about stress? Tulsi is said to particularly useful to people suffering from stress. The human stress response is an inflammatory cascade in which the immune system reacts by attempting to repair the stressed areas. If this response gets out of hand the stress can be exacerbated, and it is important that the stress response is carried put at an appropriate level.
A COX-2 modulator can prevent the inflammatory cascade by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme that causes it. Since eugenol is a COX-2 inhibitor, it can help to keep the body healthy and prevent the stress reaction. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of many of the components of holy basil extract can help to prevent the body being stressed by antioxidants and by today's environmental pollution and it also possesses antiviral and antibacterial properties to help reduce illness.
It is also an adaptogen, which enhances your natural response to emotional stress and helps your body functional normally when stressed. Studies have indicated that holy basil extracts can reduce the levels of corticosterone, a hormone responsible for stress, and improve your mood and mental clarity. Longer term effects can include memory improvement and a reduction in the risk of age-related mental conditions.
The active factors involved in the reduction of mental stress, and an increase in mental clarity, are the essential oils that tulsi contains, and their chemical components: particularly eugenol and caryophyllene. Studies have shown these to elevate the spirit and the mood, while the terpene acids, such as ursolic acid and oleanolic acid, can help to improve your body's response to stress.
There are very few doubts of the effect of holy basil extract (or tulsi extract and leaf) in improving mood, mental clarity and reducing the effects of stress, or of its other extensive beneficial medical effects. More studies might be needed to prove them to the medical community, but even now people suffering from diabetes mellitus are benefiting from its moderating effect on blood sugar levels, and once again the application of Ayurvedic medicine is being proved as effective in the modern era as it was in the ancient world.
Is Maca a Magic Root?
November 10, 2007 02:58 PM
Maca is packed with nutrients; loaded with vitamins and minerals to help fuel brain function and ease hormone irregularities as well as nourish the body.
Growing Older, Feeling Better
March 28, 2007 02:15 PM
Growing Older, Feeling Better
Not long ago, when a man turned sixty-five, he became officially old – the best years of his life far behind him. The milestone meant his working days were done and if he was lucky, he might get four or five years to spend as he wished before illness and infirmity set in. It was simply expected and accepted that the older a man got, the sicker he got.
Well, not anymore. Today, a man age 65 is just as likely to be found hiking in the hills, running in a marathon, or even dancing in the streets than rocking in that proverbial front porch rocker. Because it’s becoming more and more evident that the older a man gets, the healthier that man has been.
Eating healthy, exercising, and kicking harmful habits (like smoking) can add years to a man’s life. Aging research is proving over and over again, that we can prevent and delay heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease – the major causes of disability and death in men over 50.
Now, it’s very true that good clean living from early on is preferable to sixty five years of bad habits and five years of good. But it’s also true that it’s never too late for men to make changes and vow to take better care of themselves. And one of the easiest and most effective ways men can improve their health is the addition of high quality nutritional supplements.
In this issue of Ask the Doctor, we’ll talk about specific dietary supplements that have been scientifically shown to improve the health of men over fifty, prevent the diseases that often strike at this crucial time in men’s lives, and actually slow the aging process.
Q. I just turned 50 and I’d like to begin taking nutritional supplements, but they seem so confusing. Where should I begin?
A. Many men feel the same way. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of nutritional supplements on health food store shelves. Figuring out which supplements provide the best health benefits for a 50+ man can be overwhelming.
The best foundation supplement is a high quality multivitamin. Research is repeatedly finding that even very healthy men who take daily multivitamins can significantly improve their health. In fact, an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recommends that all adult Americans take a vitamin supplement. Look for solid doses of vitamin supplement. Look for sol doses of vitamins and especially minerals. Multivitamins designed to be taken once a day are often woefully deficient in calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The only mineral a man should avoid is supplemental iron. Iron should only be in formulas for women prior to menopause. Men over 50 get all the iron they need from food and too much iron can cause health problems.
Look for men’s multivitamins that contain lycopene in the formula. Lycopene is the pigment that makes tomatoes red. The redder the tomato, the more lycopene is present. Numerous studies have shown that when men have high lycopene levels in their blood, they have a much lower risk of heart disease, age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of vision loss) and prostate cancer.
Other important considerations are antioxidant blends, especially fruit- and tea-derived extracts; ginseng for energy and stamina; and digestive enzymes to aid in absorption and compensate for age-related decreased enzyme levels.
In fact, years of research has shown the foods a man chooses to eat (or not to eat) can have a profound impact on the health of his prostate gland. Because of this close nutritional link, prostate cancer may be the most preventable type of non-smoking related cancers.
Q. Aside from taking a quality multivitamin for general health, what nutritional supplements prevent and treat prostate cancer?
A. Six vital and all-natural nutrients can prevent prostate cancer from developing and even help fight the disease.
When men are exposed to excess levels of hormones, their risk of prostate cancer increases. A natural substance found in fruits and vegetables called calcium D-glucarate (or CDG), helps men’s built-in detoxification systems get rid of these harmful excess hormones.
This antioxidant has powerful effects on the prostate gland. In a recent study, researchers recruited 974 men to take part in a large clinical trial to determine if selenium could prevent cancer. The researchers found that selenium cut the rate of prostate cancer by 63%!
Green tea is the most widely consumed liquid in the world, after water. Men in
For many years, maitake mushrooms, or dancing mushrooms, have been linked to good health in those who eat them. That’s because maitakes contain an important compound called D-fraction. A recent study showed that maitake D-fraction destroyed 95% of human prostate cancer cells in lab experiments.
Promising preliminary reports demonstrate that lycopene can actually kill prostate cancer cells, so there has been an explosion of lycopene and prostate cancer research.
Q. What exactly happens to men’s hormones as they get older?
A. Just as women experience significant hormonal changes as they age, so do men. In fact, the term andropause has been used to describe men’s mid-life changes. Similar to menopause in women (where the decline of estrogen causes a myriad of symptoms), andropause in men signals the slow decline of testosterone, the chief sex hormone in men. While estrogen levels decline faster and more abruptly in women than testosterone levels do in men, testosterone decline can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms. These include abdominal weight gain, hair loss, reduced energy and sex drive, heart disease, and prostate enlargement. Whether a man labels these age-related changes as andropause or just the consequences of aging, most men will unfortunately experience some or all of them as their birthdays mount.
Q. So, is there a supplement that can give me the hormone level of a 20 year old?
A. Sadly, no, at least not yet! But there is a nutrient that can help the testosterone in a man over fifty “behave” more like a younger man’s testosterone.
A study that took place at the
The secret of DIM’s prostate cancer prevention is its ability to metabolize estrogen. While estrogen is generally thought of as a “female” hormone, a precise ratio of testosterone-to-estrogen is needed to maintain a man’s healthy sexual response, effective sexual function (erection of the penis and intercourse), strong bones and muscles, viable sperm, and a well-functioning prostate gland. As men enter their fifties, this ratio begins to change.
When men take DIM, however, their estrogen metabolism improves, testosterone metabolism accelerates, and the unwanted conversion of testosterone into estrogen is eliminated. This results in higher testosterone levels, similar to those seen in young men. As a result, DIM may speed weight loss, reduce prostate gland enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), and help men over 50 feel stronger and leaner.
Some supplements on the market today contain indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a precursor to DIM. However, I3C is unstable and requires activation in the stomach to be converted into DIM. This means I3C must be taken at a much higher amount and can undergo unpredictable and undesirable chemical reactions in your stomach and colon. DIM is by far the preferred supplement.
Q. What is saw palmetto? Does it reduce symptoms of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH)?
A. Yes it does and very effectively too. Saw palmetto is a small palm tree native to
The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut and is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It wraps around the upper part of the urethra and its primary job is the production and storage of semen, the milky fluid that nourishes sperm. BPH is one of the most common health conditions in older men. Half of all men aged 40-60 and more than 90 percent in men over 80 have BPH. BPH causes the prostate gland to enlarge, putting pressure on the urethra.
Men have trouble starting or maintaining a stream of urine, find they can’t completely empty their bladders, and have to urinate frequently, even during the night. They may also have episodes of uncontrollable dribbling or complete loss of urine. BPH is caused by the conversion of estrogen to a very potent form of testosterone called, dihydrotestosterone (or DHT). When prostate cells are exposed to DHT, they multiply in number and get much larger.
BPH rarely improves. It most often remains the same for years or gets gradually worse. The need to continually urinate, interrupted sleep, dribbling, and loss of urine can significantly interfere with a man’s quality of life. Prescription medications that have been developed to treat BPH are only partially effective. And surgical removal of the prostate gland may result in even more persistent urinary incontinence and the inability to achieve an erection (ED).
However, saw palmetto berry extract relieves the symptoms of BPH by inhibiting the production of DHT. And, in study after study after study, saw palmetto caused none of the side effects that happen with prostate surgery or medications.
Q. There seem to be plenty of ads for supplements that claim they make men into Sexual Superheroes. Is there an “honest” nutritional supplement to help me sexually?
A. That’s a very good observation. And yes, there are honest nutritional supplements for men’s sexual health.
Sexual intimacy is an important, complex, and lifelong need. It makes us feel better physically and mentally and adds to our sense of security, belonging, and self-esteem. But just like other changes that happen to men as they get older, men’s sexual response most often changes, too. Declining testosterone levels, changes in blood flow to the penis, certain medications that older men are prescribed, and the presence of diabetes or heart disease can all affect men’s ability to engage in sexual activity.
When men have a chronic inability in obtaining and/or maintaining an erection, it’s called erectile dysfunction (ED). While ED is not an inevitable part of getting older, it does occur more frequently as men age. About 5% of 40-year-old men have ED, but more than 23% of 65-year-old men have difficulty maintaining erections.
The development of prescription medication Viagra (sildenafil citrate) has revolutionized ED treatment. When a man is sexually stimulated, Viagra helps the penis fill with enough blood to cause an erection.
Like all medicines, Viagra can cause some side effects, including headache, flushing of the face, and upset stomach. But because Viagra is a prescription medication, it requires a visit to a licensed healthcare practitioner. For many men, telling anyone (even a professional) that they are having trouble getting or keeping an erection is simply too embarrassing. Viagra is also fairly expensive and many older men do not have prescription drug health insurance.
These reasons may explain that while an estimated 30 million men in the United States – 10% of the male population – experience chronic ED, as few as 5% of men with chronic ED seek treatment.
Not every man can take Viagra, either. Men who use nitrate drugs, often used to control chest pain (also known as angina), must not take Viagra. This combination can cause their blood pressure to drop to an unsafe or life-threatening level. Men with serious liver and kidney problems who take Viagra must be monitored closely for possible serious side effects.
The good news is there is a nutritional supplement that’s formulated with vitamins, herbs, and glandular products that targets male sexual organs. The formula contains vitamin E, liver fractions, wheat germ, beta-sitosterol, and herbal extracts of muira puama, Mexican damiana, saw palmetto, cola nut, ginseng, and ginkgo biloba.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and men’s testicles, adrenal glands, and pituitary glands need high levels of this fat-soluble vitamin for proper functioning. Extracts of Muira puama, Mexican damiana, and cola nut have been studied for their beneficial effects on male hormones.
Study of ginkgo in sexual response came about when a patient in a nursing home who was taking the herb for memory enhancement noted that his erections were improved. Since then, study of ginkgo has shown it helps blood flow to the penis. Sexual response research in one ginkgo study showed that 76% of men taking ginkgo experienced improved sexual desire, erections, and orgasms.
While other nutritional supplements sold to improve sexual stamina often make outrageous claims, reputable manufacturers rely on science and results to sell their products.
An important note
Most often sexual problems are simply part of the aging process. They can also be signs of serious health problems. If the use of nutritional supplements for two months does not improve your erections, you do need to see your healthcare practitioner. Almost all practitioners understand how difficult this problem is for men to discuss and are experienced in getting the information as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
No man has the power to stop the passage of time. But every man has the power to make aging more healthy and less harmful. Research conducted on men who live to be 100 and beyond, has determined that those who reach extreme old age do so by avoiding ill health, rather than by enduring it. As I like to remind my patients, “Age is not determined by years, but by function.” And it’s never too late for men to detour around the major illnesses of getting older. With good nutrition, healthy habits, and high quality nutritional supplements, the best years of a man’s life can absolutely and positively be those he spends in his 70s, 80s and even his 90s.
Interview on symptoms of Fibromyalgia and one mans story
August 09, 2006 03:25 PM
Interview with Todd Williams from Source Naturals
Todd: Michael, many of us know someone with fibromyalgia, but many of us don’t know what FM is. Can you help explain the disease?
Michael: Yes. Fibromyalgia (pronounced Fie-bro-my-AL-ja) is a complex chronic pain illness that challenges patients and health care professionals alike. It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects 8 – 10 million women, men, and children in the U.S. alone. Symptoms include: extreme fatigue, sleep abnormalities, cognitive problems, difficulty speaking clearly, memory loss, brain fog, and so on. There’s also irritable bowel syndrome, restless legs, migraine headaches, neurological symptoms, anxiety and environmental sensitivities. Ninety percent of those afflicted with fibromyalgia are women. Ten percent are men. What activates fibromyalgia within a person can be anything from a thyroid condition to an auto accident, or some type of trauma or emotional stress. There is often a compromised immune system, hormonal imbalance, and even a possible enzyme deficiency. Because the stomach and intestines are made up of muscles, fibromyalgia affects the entire digestive tract. The members in my fibromyalgia support group in Santa Monica all have stomach problems. One of the doctors believes that the fibromyalgia I have to battle with daily is a result of a thyroid problem. Thyroid problems run in my family and, not surprisingly, my brother, who lives on the other side of the country has fibromyalgia as well. We correspond and share with each other what does and doesn’t work. My ten-year career as a schoolteacher came to an end due to having fibromyalgia. I lost the energy I needed to work non-stop ten-hour days. I was forced by necessity to go into early retirement. As a result, I had to find a new manageable way to live. So I then went to Los Angeles to pursue a part time acting career. Now, regardless of whether a task is big or small, I just try to do my best, one day at a time.
Todd: Michael, how did you experience the onset of Fibromyalgia?
Michael: although I’ve really had fibromyalgia for fifteen years, I wasn’t actually diagnosed by my doctor until 1996. I was very energetic and athletic while growing up. During my twenties, I first went to University of Arizona in Tucson, and then to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and later to Point Loma University in San Diego, where I received a Master’s Degree in education. I followed that by moving to Florida to teach and to spend some time with my family. During summer breaks from teaching, I would go down to Florida Keys and visit Miami for fun. I had plenty of energy up until I was 28-30 years old, when I noticed a drastic drop in my energy level. At that time, when I would exercise, it was very difficult for my muscles to recover after a workout, even if it was a light workout. By the time I was thirty, the muscles in my feet became unbearably tight. It became very difficult to stand or even walk very far. I had my feet X-rayed, and the reports would say that nothing was wrong. When I was thiry-five, I took some antibiotics to get rid of a cold and I ended up with severe reaction to the antibiotic, erythromycin. My stomach swelled up like a balloon and felt unbearably tight. This was my first experience with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). I could no longer digest my food. I developed severe food and chemical sensitivities. I could no longer digest vitamin B properly. I would be in excruciating pain for several hours after eating almost anything. I had to leave my teaching position and I ended up being mostly bedridden for two years due to exhaustion and the inability to digest food. During this time I went to twenty doctors. I had colonoscopys, endoscopies, barium x-rays and thyroid tests, but the results were always indicating a normal range. I knew that I was horribly sick but the doctors and the tests repeatedly said that nothing was wrong with me. nevertheless, the doctors did provide more prescription medicines, especially antibiotics. It’s strange that not one of these doctors mentioned or prescribed probiotics in any form for rebuilding the flora in my intestines that was destroyed by the long antibiotic regimen. Eventually I would end up spending a large sum of money and going to 40 more doctors, with each helping just a little. It was a relief when I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia, because it helped me narrow in on what was really going on. Which everything falling apart, it was a relief to know it wasn’t a rare foot disease, or a stomach parasite, or AIDS. I wanted to encourage men and women who are finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia to not see it as a death notice, but rather a step in recovery. In 2002, I tried something new. I went online and submitted my medical history to Dr. Teitelbaum’s Diagnosis Program, which you can find at www.vitality101.com. His incredible program spat out about 200 pages of very insightful information on what my body was deficient in. I began taking some of his recommended supplements and began to see some definite results. In spite of my poor track record with medical tests, he also recommended thyroid testing for fibromyalgia suffers, even though it is well known that thyroid tests are frequently wrong. Dr. Teitelbaum believes that many people who have fibromyalgia were actually having a thyroid problem, even though their thyroid tests come out in the normal range. I’ve had numerous thyroid tests over the years, and they’ve all been normal. I trekked back to my doctor and pleaded with him, even mentioning that there was a history of thyroid problems in my family. At first, he refused, simply because the tests said normal. I think doctors, fearing litigation, are reluctant to try a treatment path unsupported by test results. When you think about it, test ranges are really averages. What happens if your physiology falls outside the normal average? The tragic answer is: you can fall through the cracks! Finally, after much debate and arguing, I was able to get my doctor to provide a prescription for a small dosage of thyroid medicine. I began taking it immediately after two days I began to notice that the tight muscles in my stomach and legs began to loosen up. This seemed miraculous. Unfortunately, I also had some negative side effects from the medicine, so I stopped taking it. Nevertheless, I was amazed at how my body responded to such a small does of thyroid medicine. I think Dr. Teitelbaum is onto something. If you are fortunate enough to have an open minded doctor, perhaps that avenue is worth exploring. In Dr. Teitelbaum’s book, From Fatigue to Fantastic, he also advocates supplements for helping people with Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. I can verify that supplements have absolutely becomes part of my program and helped with restoring my systems to their natural balance. Some supplements that really helped me are: NADH, Glutathione, L-Carnitine, Acetyl L-Carnitine, revitalizing sleep formula, daily infusion powder and calcium D-Glucarate. Please feel free to check out the full list of supplements on my website. If you are fatigued, you should really read Dr. Teitelbaum’s book. To fibromyalgia sufferers, I highly recommend checking this list, visiting these doctors’ web pages, and trying their protocols. Thanks to these doctors and various regimens, including supplements, my health is much, much better. Most people would have never guessed I went through such an ordeal. I still have to pace myself, and not push the limits. Staying healthy and maintaining my energy is a priority, so I’ve learned not to over-extend myself. I’ve learned to say no to some projects and activities and not feel guilty about it.
Todd: Wow! That’s a lot to go through. Facing such huge obstacles, how did you keep your ship facing forward?
Michael: Well, living and healing are spiritual events. I am fortunate to have a degree in theology and I have a strong daily spiritual practice, which has helped me to survive and thrive with complications of fibromyalgia. That’s not to say there haven’t been some very dark days, but faith in God and the support of my spiritual network, including my wonderful family and friends have made all the difference. After arriving at LA, I had moved into a little apartment across the street from Warner brothers. My roommate and I had decided to start a little bible study. We invited our neighbors and we prayed for many things including for my health to improve. One of our requests was for a door to open at Warner Brothers. Within a short time, our Bible Study group grew and our home couldn’t contain all the people. A year later, the doors opened for me at Warner Brothers, and I was working on the West Wing.
Todd: that’s Great! Can we tell the folks about your new show?
Michael: My web page has a new category called, “Nutrition Show”, which will provide all the details.
Todd: Thanks Mike! For more about Mike and fibromyalgia, please visit his website at: www.captainhastings.com
Butterbur Extract Fact Sheet
December 08, 2005 04:22 PM
Butterbur Extract Fact SheetNeil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 8/1/05
LIKELY USERS: People wanting to support healthy blood flow to the brain and healthy neurological function 1-6,10 Those maintaining normal seasonal immune responses 7-10
KEY INGREDIENTS: 75 mg of Guaranteed Potency Butterbur Root (Petasites hybridus) Extract, min. 15 Sesquiterpenes as Petasines; 200 mg of Feverfew Leaf (Tanacetum parthenium) min. 0.4% Parthenolides
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES: Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a native shrub of Europe, North America, and Asia that has been used by herbalists for centuries. Modern scientific studies have demonstrated that Butterbur supports healthy blood flow to the brain and healthy neurological function.1-6, 10 In addition, Butterbur may help to maintain balanced seasonal immune responses.7-10 In a synergistic base of guaranteed potency Feverfew leaf.11-26
ADDITIONAL PRODUCT USE INFORMATION & QUALITY ISSUES: NOW Butterbur is free of harmful levels of Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PAs), the undesirable compounds naturally found in Butterbur, so it is safe to use regularly.
SERVING SIZE & HOW TO TAKE IT: Take one VCap one to three times per day, or as directed by your physician.
COMPLEMENTARY PRODUCTS: Magnesium, Ulcetrol, B-2, B-12, Fish Oil (EPA, DHA), SAM-e, Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba
SPECIFIC: Do not discontinue use abruptly; taper off use if discontinuing. Discontinue use at least 14 days before surgery or oral surgery. Use with caution if you have ragweed allergies or blood disorders and let your physician know that you plan to use it before you take it. May be contraindicated for pregnant women.
GENERAL: Pregnant and lactating women and people using prescription drugs should consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement. This information is based on my own knowledge and references, and should not be used as diagnosis, prescription or as a specific product claim. Information given here may vary from what is shown on the product label because this represents my own professional experience and understanding of the science underlying the formula and ingredients. When taking any new formula, use common sense and cautiously increase to the full dose over time.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. REFERENCES:
1. Diener HC, Rahlfs VW, Danesch U (2004) The First Placebo-Controlled Trial of a Special Butterbur Root Exract for the Preventio of Migraine: Reanalysis of Efficacy Criteria. Eur Neurol 51:89-97.
Allibiotic CF Fact Sheet
December 07, 2005 01:37 PM
Allibiotic CF Fact SheetNeil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 03/09/05
LIKELY USERS: People seeking support of the immune system and intestinal flora
KEY INGREDIENTS: Allicin (“AlliSure” patented, stabilized allicin from fresh garlic); Olive Leaf Extract (Olea Europaea with 18% minimum Oleuropein content); Elderberry extract, from fruit/berry, 60:1 concentrate (equivalent to 2,500 mg. of fresh berries of Sambucus nigra); Oil of Oregano (wild oregano from Origanum vulgare) ImmunEnhancer AG (trademarked Arabinogalactan from Larch Tree, Larix occidentalis)
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES: AlliSure is the clinically tested, patented and stable form of allicin. Not allicin potential, but actual allicin. Allicin represents the immune supporting nutrients of raw garlic, and is chemically similar to penicillin, though with different physical properties. AlliSure shares garlic’s abilities to help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and also has been shown to raise levels of a key T cell to enhance immune system function. Like raw garlic, AlliSure has antimicrobial properties linked to its ability to react with sulfur-containing metabolic enzymes. Allicin is also shown in studies to play a role in controlling blood sugar and abnormal cell growth.
Black Elderberries have strong antioxidant properties, containing flavonoids like anthocyanidins. They have been studied in relation to inhibition of viral replication and of minor inflammations.
Olive Leaf has been used as an antioxidant, cholesterol and blood viscosity regulator, and vasodilator. But its most important use has been as a way to help the body deal with undesirable organisms in the vital respiratory and intestinal areas.
Oil of Oregano (wild oregano, wild marjoram) contains carvacrol and thymol, which are responsible for much of its antimicrobial activities. It also has some anti-inflammatory effects.
Arabinogalactan from Larch tree bark (ImmunEnhancer AG) can help speed the immune system’s response to undesirable organisms and is often compared to Echinacea. It has also been shown to promote the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria.
ADDITIONAL PRODUCT INFORMATION: Patented and trademarked ingredients enhance quality controls and have clinical research. Rosemary Oil provides antioxidant protection for the capsule contents. Enteric coating protects the capsule from stomach acid to deliver its contents past the stomach. This helps to assure full potency and reduces the possibility of the oils repeating.
SERVING SIZE & HOW TO TAKE IT: One softgel twice daily, preferably with meals. Try one before using the full dose.
COMPLEMENTARY PRODUCTS: Probiotics, Antioxidants, D-Flame
CAUTIONS: Pregnant & lactating women, children and people using prescription drugs should consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement. Discontinue use if any uncomfortable side effects occur. This information is based on my own knowledge and references, and should not be used as diagnosis, prescription or as a specific product claim.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Adv Ther. 2001 Jul-Aug;18(4):189-93. (AlliSure was used in this study.)
Abramovitz D, Gavri S, Harats D, Levkovitz H, Mirelman D, Miron T, Eilat-Adar S, Rabinkov A, Wilchek M, Eldar M, Vered Z. Allicin-induced decrease in formation of fatty streaks (atherosclerosis) in mice fed a cholesterol-rich diet. Coron Artery Dis. 1999 Oct;10(7):515-9. PMID: 10562920
Ankri S, Miron T, Rabinkov A, Wilchek M, Mirelman D. Allicin from garlic strongly inhibits cysteine proteinases and cytopathic effects of Entamoeba histolytica. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1997 Oct;41(10):2286-8. PMID: 9333064
Cellini L, Di Campli E, Masulli M, Di Bartolomeo S, Allocati N. Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori by garlic extract (Allium sativum). FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 1996 Apr;13(4):273-7. PMID: 8739190
Chowdhury AK, Ahsan M, Islam SN, Ahmed ZU. Efficacy of aqueous extract of garlic & allicin in experimental shigellosis in rabbits. Indian J Med Res. 1991 Jan;93:33-6.
Eilat S, Oestraicher Y, Rabinkov A, Ohad D, Mirelman D, Battler A, Eldar M, Vered Z. Alteration of lipid profile in hyperlipidemic rabbits by allicin, an active constituent of garlic. Coron Artery Dis. 1995 Dec;6(12):985-90. PMID: 8723021
Elkayam A, Mirelman D, Peleg E, Wilchek M, Miron T, Rabinkov A, Oron-Herman M, Rosenthal T. The effects of allicin on weight in fructose-induced hyperinsulinemic, hyperlipidemic, hypertensive rats. Am J Hypertens. 2003 Dec;16(12):1053-6. PMID: 14643581
Feldberg RS, Chang SC, Kotik AN, Nadler M, Neuwirth Z, Sundstrom DC, Thompson NH. In vitro mechanism of inhibition of bacterial cell growth by allicin. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1988 Dec;32(12):1763-8.
Focke M, Feld A, Lichtenthaler K. Allicin, a naturally occurring antibiotic from garlic, specifically inhibits acetyl-CoA synthetase. FEBS Lett. 1990 Feb 12;261(1):106-8.
Hirsch K, Danilenko M, Giat J, Miron T, Rabinkov A, Wilchek M, Mirelman D, Levy J, Sharoni Y. Effect of purified allicin, the major ingredient of freshly crushed garlic, on cancer cell proliferation. Nutr Cancer. 2000;38(2):245-54. PMID: 11525603
Patya M, Zahalka MA, Vanichkin A, Rabinkov A, Miron T, Mirelman D, Wilchek M, Lander HM, Novogrodsky A. Allicin stimulates lymphocytes and elicits an antitumor effect: a possible role of p21ras. Int Immunol. 2004 Feb;16(2):275-81. PMID: 14734613
Rabinkov A, Miron T, Mirelman D, Wilchek M, Glozman S, Yavin E, Weiner L. S-Allylmercaptoglutathione: the reaction product of allicin with glutathione possesses SH-modifying and antioxidant properties. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Dec 11;1499(1-2):144-153. PMID: 11118647
Rabinkov A, Miron T, Konstantinovski L, Wilchek M, Mirelman D, Weiner L. The mode of action of allicin: trapping of radicals and interaction with thiol containing proteins. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Feb 2;1379(2):233-44. PMID: 9528659
Sela U, Ganor S, Hecht I, Brill A, Miron T, Rabinkov A, Wilchek M, Mirelman D, Lider O, Hershkoviz R. Allicin inhibits SDF-1alpha-induced T cell interactions with fibronectin and endothelial cells by down-regulating cytoskeleton rearrangement, Pyk-2 phosphorylation and VLA-4 expression. Immunology. 2004 Apr;111(4):391-9. PMID: 15056375
Shadkchan Y, Shemesh E, Mirelman D, Miron T, Rabinkov A, Wilchek M, Osherov N. Efficacy of allicin, the reactive molecule of garlic, in inhibiting Aspergillus spp. in vitro, and in a murine model of disseminated aspergillosis. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004 May;53(5):832-6. Epub 2004 Mar 24. PMID: 15044429
Tsai Y, Cole LL, Davis LE, Lockwood SJ, Simmons V, Wild GC. Antiviral properties of garlic: in vitro effects on influenza B, herpes simplex and coxsackie viruses. Planta Med. 1985 Oct;(5):460-1. PMID: 3001801
Uchida Y, Takahashi T, Sato N. [The characteristics of the antibacterial activity of garlic (author's transl)] Jpn J Antibiot. 1975 Aug;28(4):638-42. PMID: 1099271
Yasuo Yamada and Keizô Azuma. Evaluation of the In Vitro Antifungal Activity of Allicin. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1977 April; 11(4): 743–749.
Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 423.
Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C, et al. (eds). PDR for Herbal medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 1998, 1116–7.
Mascolo N, Autore G, Capasso G, et al. Biological screening of Italian medicinal plants for anti-inflammatory activity. Phytother Res 1987;1:28–31.
Murkovic M, Abuja PM, Bergmann AR, et al. Effects of elderberry juice on fasting and postprandial serum lipids and low-density lipoprotein oxidation in healthy volunteers: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur J Clin Nutr. Feb2004;58(2):244-9.
Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 104–5.
Yesilada E. Inhibitory Effects of Turkish Folk Remedies on Inflammatory Cytokines: Interleukin-1Alpha, Interleukin-1Beta and Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha. J Ethnopharmacol. Sept1997;58(1):59-73. Youdim KA, Martin A, Joseph JA. Incorporation of the elderberry anthocyanins by endothelial cells increases protection against oxidative stress. Free Radical Biol Med 2000;29:51–60.
Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Alt Compl Med 1995;1:361–9.
OLIVE LEAF EXTRACT:
American Herbal Products Association. Use of Marker Compounds in Manufacturing and Labeling Botanically Derived Dietary Supplements. Silver Spring, MD: American Herbal Products Association; 2001.
Bennani-Kabchi N, et al. Effects of Olea europea var. oleaster leaves in hypercholesterolemic insulin-resistant sand rats. Therapie. Nov1999;54(6):717-23.
Bisignano G, et al. On the in-vitro antimicrobial activity of oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol. J Pharm Pharmacol. Aug1999;51(8):971-4. Gonzalez M, et al. Hypoglycemic activity of olive leaf. Planta Medica. 1992;58:513-515. Visoli F, et al. Oleuropein protects low density lipoprotein from oxidation. Life Sciences. 1994;55:1965-71. PDR for Herbal medicines, 2nd edition. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 2000:557.
Petroni A, et al. Inhibition of platelet aggregation and eicosanoid production by phenolic components of olive oil.Thromb Res. Apr1995;78(2):151-60. Pieroni A, et al. In vitro anti-complementary activity of flavonoids from olive (Olea europaea L.) leaves. Pharmazie. Oct1996;51(10):765-8. Zarzuelo A, et al. Vasodilator effect of olive leaf. Planta Med. Oct1991;57(5):417-9. OREGANO OIL (OIL OF OREGANO, WILD OREGANO, WILD MARJORAM):
Dorman HJ, et al. Antimicrobial agents from plants: antibacterial activity of plant volatile oils. J Appl Microbiol. Feb2000;88(2):308-16. Force M, et al. Inhibition of enteric parasites by emulsified oil of oregano in vivo. Phytother Res. May2000;14(3):213-4.
Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant extracts. J Appl Microbiol 1999;86:985–90.
Kelm MA, Nair MG, Strasburg GM. Antioxidant and Cyclooxygenase Inhibitory Phenolic Compounds from Ocimum sanctum Linn. Phytomedicine. Mar2000;7(1):7-13. Lamaison JL, et al. Medicinal Lamiaceae with antioxidant properties, a potential source of rosmarinic acid. Pharm Acta Helv. 1991;66(7):185-8.
Ponce MM, Navarro AI, Martinez GMN, et al. In vitro effect against Giardia of 14 plant extracts. Rev Invest Clin 1994;46:343–7 [in Spanish].
Stiles JC, Sparks W, Ronzio RA. The inhibition of Candida albicans by oregano. J Applied Nutr 1995;47:96–102.
Tantaoui EA, Beraoud L. Inhibition of growth and aflatoxin production in Aspergillus parasiticus by essential oils of selected plant materials. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol 1994;13:67–72. ImmunEnhancer AG (Larch tree Arabinogalactan)
Corado J, et al. Impairment of Natural Killer (NK) Cytotoxic Activity in Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Infection. Exp Immunol. 1997;109:451-457. Currier NL, Lejtenyi D, Miller SC. Effect over time of in-vivo administration of the polysaccharide arabinogalactan on immune and hemopoietic cell lineages in murine spleen and bone marrow. Phytomedicine. 2003 Mar;10(2-3):145-53. PMID: 12725568
Egert D, et al. Studies on Antigen Specificity of Immunoreactive Arabinogalactan Proteins Extracted from Baptisia tinctoria and Echinacea purpurea. Planta Med. 1992;58:163-165. Gonda R, et al. Arabinogalactan Core Structure and Immunological Activities of Ukonan C, An Acidic Polysaccharide from the Rhizome of Curcuma longa. Biol Pharm Bull. 1993;16:235-238. Hagmar B, et al. Arabinogalactan Blockade of Experimental Metastases to Liver by Murine Hepatoma. Invasion Metastasis. 1991;11:348-355. Kelly GS. Larch arabinogalactan: clinical relevance of a novel immune-enhancing polysaccharide. Altern Med Rev. 1999 Apr;4(2):96-103. Review. PMID: 10231609
Kim LS, Waters RF, Burkholder PM. Immunological activity of larch arabinogalactan and Echinacea: a preliminary, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Altern Med Rev. 2002 Apr;7(2):138-49. PMID: 11991793
Levine PH, et al. Dysfunction of Natural Killer Activity in a Family With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Clin Immunol Immunopathol. 1998;88:96-104. Robinson RR, Feirtag J, Slavin JL. Effects of dietary arabinogalactan on gastrointestinal and blood parameters in healthy human subjects. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Aug;20(4):279-85. PMID: 11506055
Rolfe RD. The Role of Probiotic Cultures in the Control of Gastrointestinal Health. J Nutr. Feb2000;130(2S Suppl):396S-402S.
Salyers AA, Vercellotti JR, West SE, Wilkins TD. Fermentation of mucin and plant polysaccharides by strains of Bacteroides from the human colon. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1977 Feb;33(2):319-22. PMID: 848954
Uchida A. Therapy of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Nippon Rinsho. 1992;50:2679-2683.
Astragalus Fact Sheet
December 07, 2005 01:15 PM
Astragalus Fact SheetNeil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 02/10/05
LIKELY USERS: Everyone seeking a healthy immune system; Those lacking energy
KEY INGREDIENTS: Astragalus Root Extract Powder 70% polysaccharides (200 mg)
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES: A Chinese “tonic herb” used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for night sweats, diarrhea and lack of energy. Tonic herbs are often known as “adaptogens”, helping the body adapt to stresses and modulating immune system responses. Some reports credit Astragalus with shortening colds and strengthening the heart.Astragalus additionally contains triterpene glycosides, also known as astragalosides.
ADDITIONAL PRODUCT INFORMATION: Vegetarian formula.May be useful to maintain the patient’s immunity in dialysis patients, those with liver problems and those who have suffered from strokes, according to Chinese studies (not as a treatment for those conditions!).
SERVING SIZE & HOW TO TAKE IT: For everyday use take one to five caps per day, either with meals or on an empty stomach.
COMPLEMENTARY PRODUCTS: Immune Renew, Inositol Hexaphosphate (IP-6), I3C, Pometrol, mixed carotenoids and other antioxidants.
CAUTIONS: Pregnant & lactating women, children and people using prescription drugs should consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement. Do not take with AIDS drugs or if you have an autoimmune disease, though there is some (not enough) evidence that Astragalus may balance immune function for at least one autoimmune disorder. This information is based on my own knowledge and these references, but should not be used as diagnosis, prescription or as specific product claims.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
REFERENCES: 1. Ooi VE, Liu F. Immunomodulation and anti-cancer activity of polysaccharide-protein complexes. Curr Med Chem. 2000 Jul;7(7):715-29.
New antibiotics expected for resistant pneumonia bugs
October 10, 2005 11:52 AM
New antibiotics expected for resistant pneumonia bugs
Scientists recently announced the expected arrival of a new family of bacteria-killers on the horizon for pneumonia and other diseases. These new antibiotics should offer an alternative to standard antibiotics, many of which have lost their punch against increasingly resistant germs.
The standard treatment today for many bacterial infections that cause respiratory diseases are medicines called macrolides. These include well-known antiobiotics like penicillin and erythromycin. However, certain bacteria strains are growing resistant to them, as well as to the primary back-up medicines, known as quinolones.
The pharmaceutical industry's response to this problem is ketolides. Ketolides are derived from macrolides, but since they have a different chemical composition, they will kill bacteria that are resistant to macrolides. Researchers recently presented reports on two varieties of ketolides at an infectious diseases meeting sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology. Aventis Pharmaceuticals recently filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to gain permission to sell a new ketolide antibiotic, Ketek, or telithromycin. A similar drug made by Abbott Pharmaceuticals, code named ABT-773, is also in the early stages of human testing.
Researchers presented new Ketek studies involving 2,500 patients. These reports intended to show how the once-a-day Ketek is equally effective as other standard antibiotics in treating many bacterial diseases, including pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and sore throats. Scientist also say since the Ketek treatment lasts just five days, which is shorter than most antibiotic treatments, bacteria may be less likely to grow resistant to the new drug.
CHITOSAN: The Fiber that Binds Fat
June 25, 2005 07:55 PM
Chitosan is a natural product that inhibits fat absorption. It has the potential to revolutionize the process of losing weight and by so doing, reduce the incidence of some of the most devastating Western diseases we face today. Chitosan is indigestable and non-absorbable. Fats bound to chitosan become nonabsorbable thereby negating their caloric value. Chitosan-bound fat leaves the intestinal tract having never entered the bloodstream. Chitosan is remarkable in that it has the abilty to absorb an average of 4 to 5 times its weight in fat.60
The same features that allow chitosan to bind fats endow it with many other valuable properties that work to promote health and prevent disease. Chitosan is a remarkable substance whose time has come.
Chitin, the precursor to Chitosan, was first discovered in mushrooms by the French professor Henri Braconnot in 1811.61 In the 1820’s chitin was also isolated from insects.62 Chitin is an extremely long chain of N-acetyl-D-glucoseamine
glucoseamine units. Chitin is the most abundant natural fiber next to cellulose and is similar to cellulose in many respects. The most abundant source of chitin is in the shells of shellfish such as crab and shrimp. The worldwide shellfish harvest is estimated to be able to supply 50,000 tons of chitin annually.63 The harvest in the United States alone could produce over 15,000 tons of chitin each year.64
Chitin has a wide range of uses but that is the subject of another book. Chitosan was discovered in 1859 by Professor C. Rouget.65 It is made by cooking chitin in alkali, much like the process for making natural soaps. After it
is cooked the links of the chitosan chain are made up of glucosamine units. Each glucosamine unit contains a free amino group. These groups can take on a positive charge which gives chitosan its amazing properties. The stucture of chitosan is represented schematically in Figure 2. Research on the uses of chitin and Chitosan flourished in the 1930s and early 1940s but the rise of synthetic fibers, like the rise of synthetic medicines, overshadowed the interest in natural products. Interest in natural products, including chitin and chitosan, gained a resurgence in the 1970s and has continued to expand ever since. Uses of Chit osan Some of Chitosan's major uses—both Industrial and Health and Nutritional—are listed in Tables 5 and 6.
Chitosan has been used for about three decades in water purification processes. 67 When chitosan is spread over oil spills it holds the oil mass together making it easier to clean up the spill. Water purification plants throughout the world use chitosan to remove oils, grease, heavy metals, and fine particulate matter that cause turbidity in waste water streams.
Fat Binding/ Weight Loss
Like some plant fibers, chitosan is not digestible; therefore it has no caloric value. No matter how much chitosan you ingest, its calorie count remains at
fibers, chitosan’s unique properties give it the ability to significantly bind fat, acting like a “fat sponge” in the digestive tract. Table 7 shows a comparison of chitosan and other natural fibers and their ability to inhibit fat absorption. Under optimal conditions, Chitosan can bind an average of 4 to 5 times its weight with all the lipid aggregates tested.60 (NOTE: This assessment was made without the addition of ascorbic acid which potentiates this action even further.77 Studies in Helsinki have shown that individuals taking chitosan lost an average of 8 percent of their body weight in a 4-week period.76 Chitosan has increased oil-holding capacity over other fibers.108 Among the abundant natural fibers, chitosan is unique. This uniqueness is a result of chitosan’s amino groups which make it an acid absorbing (basic) fiber. Most natural fibers are neutral or acidic. Table 7 summarizes the in vivo effects in animals of various fibers on fecal lipid excretion. As can be seen from the results listed, ingestion of chitosan resulted in 5-10 times more fat excretion than any other fiber tested. D-Glucosamine, the building block of chitosan, is not able to increase fecal fat excretion. This is due to the fact that glucosamine is about 97 percent absorbed while chitosan is nonabsorbable. Fats bound to glucosamine would likely be readily absorbed along with the glucosamine. Chitosan, on the other hand, is not absorbed and therefore fats bound to chitosan can not be absorbed.
Chitosan has the very unique ability to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) while boosting HDL cholesterol (the good kind).78 Laboratory tests performed on rats showed that “chitosan depresses serum and liver cholesterol levels in cholesterol- fed rats without affecting performance, organ weight or the nature of the feces.”79 Japanese researchers have concluded that Chitosan “appears to be an effective hypocholesterolemic agent.”80 In other words, it can effectively lower blood serum cholesterol levels with no apparent side effects. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that Chitosan is as effective in mammals as cholestryramine (a cholesterol lowering drug) in controlling blood serum cholesterol without the deleterious side effects typical of cholestryramine. 81 Chitosan decreased blood cholesterol levels by 66.2 percent.82 It effectively lowered cholesterol absorption more than guar gum or cellulose.83 Laboratory test results indicated that a 7.5% chitosan formula maintained adequate cholesterol levels in rats, despite a dramatic increase in the intake of cholesterol. 84
Move it and Lose it! Burn off body fat!
June 14, 2005 12:04 PM
Move it and Lose it! Burn off body fat! by Mimi Facher Energy Times, June 1, 1997
So you're feeling a little blah, a little overweight, and you're looking to drop a few of those winter pounds gained during the colder months. Maybe you've dabbled with diets and jogged around the neighborhood a few times but you're still packing unsightly bulges. If so, you may be considering the idea of turning to supplements to help you drop those pounds. Well, two types of diet supplements now generally available, combined with a diet and exercise program, may be able to help you trim those stubborn pounds.
The first type of supplement, called metabolic optimizers, which include ephedra, caffeine and salicin (derived from willow bark), boost your metabolic rate, causing your body to burn calories faster. The second class, lipotropic substances, aid the body in fat mobilization, causing greater utilization of stored fat. These products include chromium, carnitine and hydroxycitric acid (HCA). Both classes of supplements have been around in various forms for quite a while but are now enjoying greater popularity among dieters.
Trying to cope with a weight problem is a dilemma expanding throughout modern society. According to a 1995 Harris poll, nearly 75% of Americans are overweight. Although it's well known that the way to lose weight is to expend more calories than you take in, supplements may be able to help you burn off extra calories.
Thermogenesis and You
Metabolic optimizers are supposed to aid weight loss through a process called thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is a natural process in which fat is burned to produce body heat. Fat that isn't burned is stored on the hips, thighs, stomach, etc. Thermogenic agents are designed to counteract your body's fat storage mechanisms by causing your body to maintain a higher metabolic rate-turning your internal thermostat up to burn fat faster. The thermogenic process can be jump-started by a number of factors including cold, exercise, certain dietary nutrients and metabolic optimizers.
The ephedra herb, also known as ma huang is one of nature's earliest medicines, known for over 5000 years to the Chinese, who used it to relieve allergies, coughing, wheezing and cold and flu symptoms. In the US, ephedra has been available since the 1800s.
The ingredients in ephedra include the alkaloids ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and norephedrine. Concentrated forms of these substances are used in today's over-the-counter cold, allergy and asthma relief formulas.
Ma huang's effectiveness as a weight loss aid is tied to its appetite suppressant and stimulant properties. By speeding up action of the thyroid gland, the ephedrine found in the herb acts a thermogenic agent, boosting the rate at which the body metabolizes fat and promoting weight loss. According to Mark Blumenthal, Executive Director of the American Botanical Council, "When used as part of a total package that includes diet modification and exercise, ma huang can be highly effective in the short run because it increases the speed of the body's metabolism and suppresses appetite."
Because of their strong stimulant effect, ephedra and its derivatives have engendered some controversy. However, in its long history, billions of doses of ephedra have been consumed without problem. But ephedra supplements should only be used as directed on product labels. People with cardiovascular problems, diabetes, thyroid or prostate dysfunction, high blood pressure and those taking MAO inhibitors, pregnant or nursing should avoid this herb.
Salicin Burns Fat
Salicin, a substance derived from willow bark-which is also the original source for aspirin, a related compound-can boost the burning of fat when combined with ephedra. An animal study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that while ephedra boosted calorie burning by almost 10%, when ephedra was combined with aspirin, extra calorie burning just about doubled. Another study in the Internatioanl Journal of Obesity showed that when overweight women took aspirin and ephedrine during a meal, their bodies burned off more calories than normal. (Eating a meal produces a thermogenic effect as your body expends energy in digestion. That's why dieters are told not to skip meals. Skipping meals lowers your metabolic rate, decreasing your calorie expenditure.)
Similar studies also show that caffeine, the stimulant that gives coffee its eye-opening kick, can also boost ephedra's thermogenic properties. But before using these combinations check with a health practitioner knowledgeable about nutrition. Aspirin or salicin may cause stomach upset in some people (although salicin is generally tolerated well.)
Carnitine: Lipotropic Amino Acid
To get carnitine into your system, you don't have to take it as a supplement. Your body already makes this vitamin-like substance. However, your body doesn't make that much. And it is said to be especially low in people with heart disease.
This non-essential amino acid (said to be non-essential because human bodies produce it) is a key ingredient in the formation of mitochondria membranes. Mitochondria are tiny structures in your cells that burn fats for energy. Consequently, sufficient carnitine is necessary for the movement of fat into the mitochondria where it is consumed. When not enough carnitine is present, the breakdown of long chain fatty acids slows down.
Said to improve the recovery rate for athletes (it may limit the production of lactic acid, a waste product in muscle tissue), carnitine can also lower cholesterol levels, boost levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) and decrease serum triglycerides (blood fats linked to heart disease). Not bad for a nutrient that coaxes fat into those teeny, ceullular, mitochondrial furnaces.
Go for the Chrome
Chromium-based supplements work as lipotropic agents by aiding insulin use in the body. This essential trace mineral is required for normal protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism. According to Dr. Michael Janson, author of The Vitamin Revolution in Healthcare and President of the American Preventive Medical Association (APMA), "Chromium is important for proper insulin activity. Insulin moves sugar into the muscle cells, where it is burned off as energy. Chromium improves the activity of insulin, and since insulin causes fat deposition, less of it means less fat deposition." Chromium has also been shown to build muscle tissue and to reduce LDL cholesterol, which has been linked to heart disease.
Although the body's minimum requirement is low, the American diet tends to be deficient in chromium, in part because the mineral can be difficult for the body to absorb. The fact that, in nature, chromium is most powerfully concentrated in brewer's yeast, wheat germ and liver-items most Americans rarely eat-probably hasn't helped either. Other natural sources of chromium include whole grains, molasses and beef. But it is estimated that 50% of Americans are chromium deficient. An early study found that overweight adults taking a chromium supplement lost an average of 22% body fat, while maintaining or gaining lean body mass. In another study, athletes consuming 200 mcg. of chromium a day showed an average loss of 7.5 lbs. of body fat after six weeks, without a corresponding loss of muscle tisue. Overall, although some studies question chromium's precise effects, many experts are optimistic about this substance because of its relationship to insulin in the body's metabolism.
Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA)
Another possible addition to the dieter's arsenal is HCA. In nature, HCA appears chiefly in a fruit called garcinia cambogia (sometimes also called Malabar tamarind or brindall berry), a citrus plant found primarily in Asia, where the rind is often used as a flavoring agent. HCA works by inhibiting the enzyme in the body responsible for converting carbohydrates into fat. HCA causes calories to be burned in an energy cycle similar to thermogenesis and acts as somewhat of an appetite suppressant. HCA is also said to have a role in reducing triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels.
Several animal studies have shown that HCA caused significant weight loss without a reduction in lean body mass. In other words, the pounds that came off came out of fat stores, and not out of energy or muscle reserves. This means that HCA takes off not just weight but body fat, making it a potentially effective tool against weight regain.
Dr. Elson Haas, director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin in San Rafael, CA, and author of Staying Healthy With Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, believes that HCA can be a helpful aid for dieters when used in combination with eating habit changes and exercise. He recommends an HCA and chromium blend for optimum appetite suppression. "This combination can keep the appetite down and reduce sugar cravings," he says.
Although human research data on HCA is still in the preliminary stages, the animal study results are positive, and the supplement seems to have minimal side effects in most people.
Some Overall Recommendations
You are likely to lose weight faster if you eat sensibly. This means avoiding foods high in fat or sugar (which are the most likely to add to stored body fat), but it doesn't mean starving yourself. A sensible balanced diet, along with moderate exercise, is still the best prescription for weight loss. As Dr. Haas puts it, "I'm a firm believer in diet and exercise. Using supplements responsibly can help you to lose weight provided they're combined with dietary changes and exercise. They won't work if you don't change anything." No one is suggesting that dietary supplements are a miracle cure for being overweight-as always in self-health care, there are no magic wands. But, used as directed and combined with a good diet and exercise plan, you could find that these supplements might help you work your way to a slimmer you.
Mimi Facher is a freelance writer who has contributed to Prevention, Cosmopolitan and Self.
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.
Acupuncture nutrient Connection
June 12, 2005 05:53 PM
Acupuncture nutrient Connection by Robert Gluck Energy Times, November 1, 1998
The theory behind the practice of acupuncture confounds western science. This therapy, originating in Asia, is based on the concept that currents of energy called meridians flow through your body. However, no one has ever been able to conclusively demonstrate the existence of these meridians.
Despite the evasiveness of these energy streams, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) holds that alterations in these energy flows can disrupt health and cause pain. Consequently, an acupuncturist punctures your skin with specialized needles to redirect the body's vital energy.
Despite the fact that western scientists have not been able to find satisfactory evidence of the existence of these energetic meridians, studies show that acupuncture works and is especially effective at relieving pain. This therapy has been used to alleviate a variety of conditions including chronic pain, nausea and even mental illness. In addition, some practitioners apply it to those trying to shake off the chains of drug addiction. (More recently, many practitioners now also successfully use acupuncture to relieve physical problems in animals.)
Of course, no matter what your perspective on this therapy, acupuncture's no panacea. While you might use acupuncture to relieve the discomforts of chemotherapy, you wouldn't use this technique as your primary weapon against a dangerous disease like cancer. Still, this reliable therapy occupies a welcome spot as an adjunct to many mainstream therapies. Consequently, many mainstream practitioners accept the validity of using acupuncture and many managed care companies reimburse this therapy. Some HMOs even keep a list of approved acupuncturists that they make available to enrollees.
Acupuncture East and West
The practice of acupuncture dates back at least 2200 years ago in Asia. Only during the last forty years has it become well-known and widely available in the United States. Today, 29 accredited acupuncture schools train practitioners in North America. In addition, traditional healers in Belize (south of Mexico) have been found to use a form of acupuncture derived from traditional Mayan medicine.
Is the use of acupuncture by Mayan shamans coincidence? Or further evidence that acupuncture meridians really exist? No one knows for sure, although some experts believe the Mayan use of this therapy supports the notion that the original ancestors of the Mayans migrated from Asia.
Acupuncturists insert needles into the body to relieve pain or enhance bodily functions. TCM holds that acupuncture, and the manipulation of these tiny needles, moves and manipulates qi (pronounced chee), the body's energy force.
"Acupuncture is a method of balancing the body's energy," says Carol Alexander, an acupuncturist at the North Jersey Health and Pain Relief Center in Hackettstown, New Jersey. "Disease occurs because of an imbalance...Insertion of the acupuncture needles into meridians will bring about the balance of qi." Alexander has practiced acupuncture for 10 years and studied at the Tri-State School of Traditional Acupuncture in Stanford Connecticut.
Alexander says patients sometimes suffer a blockage of qi or display too much or too little qi. The manipulation and placement of the acupuncture needles vary according to the need for adjusting meridian energy flow.
Acupuncture can be used to prevent disease and, if disease is already rampant, it can be used to help the body correct the problem.
In conjunction with her use of acupuncture needles, Alexander rarely prescribes single herbs but uses combinations of whole herbs that are very specific for different diseases and disease patterns. "Certain herbs, such as ginseng, are very prized in Chinese medicine," Alexander notes.
"Astragalus is an herb used in China and around the world to tonify the qi and increase qi energy as well as stimulate the immune system."
Alexander uses licorice root for assisting digestion and for helping women with menopausal discomforts. On the other hand, she recommends whole food concentrates like bee pollen granules for enhancing the immune system, peppermint for treating gastro-intestinal problems plus fiber supplements as well as the antioxidant/antihistamine quercetin, coenzyme Q10 and melatonin.
"In terms of classes of nutrients, I use a lot of whole food concentrates: the green concentrates like barley greens, wheat grass powder, spirulina and blue-green algae," Alexander says. "These are high in minerals, antioxidants, nutrients and fatty acids. I also use some soy products because the isoflavone concentrates are very much anti-cancer."
The Fine Points of Acupuncture
Acupuncture needles are very fine, as thin as hairs. They are available in a variety of diameters and lengths. When an acupuncturist inserts these needles, the sensation is that of mild pinpricks. (The needles enter the body at depths of only 1/8th inch to two inches.) In many cases people experience mild pleasure during needle manipulation.
"From a Western point of view it's important to explain that there is a distinct function of acupuncture treatment and that is to increase circulation," Alexander says. "We do stimulate nerves and we know that with the stimulation of nerves many neurochemicals and neurotransmitters are released. They move through the nerves and find receptor sights, some in the brain, some in other parts of the body."
By stimulating nerves, acupuncturists can calm inflammation and deaden pain. These effects are believed to be linked to the release of endorphins and dinorphins, powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories that the body produces for itself. Most acupuncturists use this therapy as part of an overall, multi-faceted treatment plan.
"Qi is what makes you different from a sack of chemicals," points out David Molony, an acupuncturist at the Lehigh Valley Acupuncture Center in Catasaqua, Pennsylvania who studied at the Nanjing Traditional Medicine Hospital in China and has lectured at Cornell University.
What You Need
"You can manipulate qi with acupuncture, herbs and diet. Because people's bodies work differently, there are different approaches. When you ask the question what nutrients and herbs are effective at enhancing acupuncture, it depends on what the person needs, according to an Oriental Medicine diagnosis."
An Oriental Medical examination, Molony says, begins with a long list of health questions designed to reveal factors that contribute to disease. A practitioner measures your pulse in several different places along your arm, inspects your tongue, may press on your stomach, sniff your general odor and closely examine your nails and skin for signs of problems.
"You take in everything you can," adds Molony, a board member of the Acupuncture Society of Pennsylvania and former board member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. "This gives you clues that you need in order to make your diagnosis."
Acupuncturists use nutrients and herbs that complement the treatment, as well as dietary and lifestyle counseling. Some acupuncturists don't specialize in herbal remedies, so these practitioners might go to a specialist like David Winston for advice. Winston, an herb expert skilled in Cherokee, Chinese and Western eclectic herbal medicine, works as an instructor, lecturer and consultant.
"In China, acupuncture is considered a complementary therapy; you generally don't go for treatment and get purely acupuncture," says Winston who is working on a book about saw palmetto. "Herbal medicine, diet and qi gong are important therapies in their own right and acupuncture is one of those therapies. Qi gong is a form of martial arts that focuses on unique breathing and visualization methods. Qi is not exactly energy, it's energy in movement; it's what makes the blood move."
Acupuncture is used to open blockages that sometimes build up in what TCM practitioners characterize as excessive heat or cold. These hot and cold spots do not always literally refer to the temperature of the body but are meant to depict changes in the character of the body's vital energy.
Chinese acupuncturists don't necessarily treat diseases, but target clusters of physical discomforts. Winston says, "Herbal formulas change depending on the 'symptom pictures.' Somebody could have acute appendicitis but the symptom picture could vary. Usually Chinese acupuncturists use herbs like isatis (a very cold, drying herb that's a powerful anti-bacterial agent) and coptis (a powerful anti-bacterial herb)."
Americans often visit acupuncturists complaining of back pain or some type of musculoskeletal problem-a wrenched knee, a ligament that hasn't healed properly or perhaps a torn rotator cuff. "If the injury is hot to the touch, it's red, it's inflammatory-that's a condition where there's excessive heat and in that condition the acupuncturist would give herbs that are cooling and anti-inflammatory such as the root of large leaf gentian."
Pain that Moves
If someone suffers pain that moves, pain that is sometimes exacerbated by damp or humid conditions, acupuncturists often prescribe clematis root, a wild variety of the garden plant that is an anti-spasmodic, or acanthopanax, a relative of Siberian ginseng used for damp pain.
"If there's pain with excessive dampness," Winston says, "acupuncturists might use duhuo, a drying herb that opens the meridians."
Molony agrees with Winston that when it comes to choosing herbs to enhance acupuncture, accurate analysis of the root cause of the health problem is paramount to making the right decisions. For example, if a person is qi deficient and her tongue is thickly coated, she may not be processing her energy properly. Phlegm builds up, decreasing energy. "What you want to do is give them herbs that move phlegm, like citrus peel, and combine that with acupuncture points that move phlegm also," Molony says.
For stimulating metabolism, Molony uses lactoferin-processed colostrum from cows. He uses ginseng and atractylodes as qi tonics and he adds herbs like magnolia bark or atractylodes alba.
He believes antioxidants are helpful too, as preventive medicines, including vitamins C and E. These valuable nutrients disarm the harm that reactive molecules can wreak within the body.
So how important are herbs and nutrition to enhance acupuncture's effectiveness? Acupuncturists seem to agree that healthy doses of antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E plus antioxidants from grapeseed extract) as well as specialized herbs, turn this therapy into a highly effective healing tool. Those wanting to benefit from this penetrating technique should stock up on nutrients. Then sit back, relax, kick off your shoes and let the acupuncturist do her stuff.
What the Medicine Men Knew
June 12, 2005 02:17 PM
What the Medicine Men Knew by Phyllis D. Light, RH, AHG Energy Times, August 4, 2003
When Europeans first landed on the shores of North America, they were greeted by Native Americans who were healthy and strong, tall and straight-boned, and who generally lived to a ripe old age. Curious and friendly, the Native Americans showed the newcomers how to harvest wild foods and grow suitable crops, and also demonstrated the medicinal use of herbs. The North American indigenous medical traditions evolved into an effective system during its long history, estimated at between 12,000 and 40,000 years. So, herbally, we owe a huge debt to the Native American willingness to share knowledge of North American plants. Many of the herbs sitting on the shelves of natural food stores today were originally found in the medicinal arsenal of Native Americans, including black cohosh, echinacea, goldenseal, pleurisy root, sarsaparilla, red root, black walnut, gravel root and American ginseng.
Unique Healing Traditions
The number of Native tribes in the United States is estimated at about 500, and each possesses a unique set of healing traditions. While the term "Native American medicine" does not describe a homogenous system of healing, common, underlying principles can be discerned in many of these tribal traditions. Most often, these healing traditions and practices have been handed down in a rich oral tradition from practitioner to practitioner, rarely finding their way into written descriptions.
For instance, according to David Winston, a Cherokee medicine priest and herbalist living in New Jersey, "Cherokee medicine is based on connection-body, mind, spirit, family, community and God/Spirit. The Cherokee word for medicine, Nvowti, means 'power.' Anything that has power-water, ceremony, songs, stories, herbs-is medicine."
On the other hand, Charles Alexander Eastman, PhD (Indian name: Ohiyesa), comments in his book, The Soul of an Indian, "The Sioux word for the healing art is wah-pee-yah, which literally means 'readjusting or making anew.' Pay-jee-hoo-tah, literally 'root,' means medicine, and wakan signifies 'spirit' or 'mystery.' Thus the three ideas, while sometimes associated, were carefully distinguished."
Native American healing philosophy advocates a customized treatment plan for each person's unique health problems.
Consequently, healing techniques focus on the individual, not the disease, although the overall treatment may incorporate well-known ways for relieving the specific discomforts, aches and pains associated with an illness. Native healers employ herbs, ceremony, song and prayer in a manner tailored to each person they treat.
A central tenet in many Native American healing traditions is the need to sweat. As a result, Inipi, or Lakota sweat lodges, are located in most areas of the country. Sweating produces many benefits. It opens pores, cleanses the skin, enhances circulation, discourages the growth of bacteria in the body and functions as a detoxification outlet.
The skin is well-suited for the elimination of toxins: Experts estimate that during everyday functioning, 30% of the body's wastes pass through the skin. For the Native American, the sweat lodge offers spiritual help as well as physical aid. And the use of sweating is generally not employed as the only treatment but is always accompanied by other therapies such as herbs.
Native Americans are not alone in their reverence for using sweating to treat disease. A technique for sweating is fundamental to most traditional medicines, including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Native American Herbs
For native healers, herbs offer physical, emotional and spiritual support. In this tradition, herbs are consumed in teas, tablets or capsules, or are inhaled after being thrown onto the hot stones in a sweat lodge or otherwise burned to release their vapor. Smudging, a ritualized method for bathing a person or object with the smoke from sacred herbs such as sweet grass, sage or cedar, is a way of cleansing individuals, clearing a ritual space or sanctifying ceremonial tools. Each herb in the smudging process is used for a specific reason. Sweet grass grows the spirit, while sage and cedar dispel negativity. Frequently, herbs are taken as preparation for participation in rituals. "Sweet leaf is used as a tea before the sweat lodge ceremony in some Indian communities in South Dakota," notes Matthew Wood, RH, AHG, author of The Book of Herbal Wisdom (North Atlantic Books). "It promotes perspiration, relaxes the nerves, reduces tension and brings harmony and beauty to the participants."
The idea that everything in the universe, including people, is connected is a philosophy shared by many tribes.
When a medicine person assesses an illness, she not only observes physical problems but also analyzes family and community dynamics. A person's relationship with God is believed to influence health. In this vein, prayers like Mitakuye Oyasin, a Lakota blessing that means "all my relations," appeals to the interconnectedness of each of us with other people, with the Earth, and with God.
"Separation and isolation is one of the leading causes of illness," David Winston says. "There is a connection between everything-within ourselves and outside of ourselves. When we isolate and separate ourselves from our family, our community and from God/Spirit, then we suffer diseases of the spirit. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own spirits-to keep them healthy.
"In addition," adds Winston, "from the Cherokee viewpoint, the nuclear family is seen as too small. There are too many single parents working too hard and under too much stress." In a Native American clan-based society, much of this stress is defused with the support of an extended family.
Kinship philosophy is a basic part of the Native perspective, a kinship that extends beyond humans to all life, including animals, fish, and birds as well as the Earth itself. Consequently, care of the Earth is an integral part of kinship philosophy. Indigenous cultures have very specific knowledge of ecology and environmental ethics. In the kinship philosophy, damage done by man to the Earth is then reflected back in the body of man by diseases of the body and spirit. Man and his illnesses are seen as part of the ecology of the planet, not a separate, isolated force with the power to control.
Modern Ills, Ancient Treatments
Winston believes that Cherokee medicine offers the greatest aid to people with chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and some female reproductive complaints, as well as individuals with stress-related disorders. It can also offer aid to those who are depressed and feel alienated or disconnected from society.
Native American medicine can offer balance and healing. It can be used in conjunction with Western medicine, providing a holistic and individualized treatments. To find a Native American healer, check with your local tribal community. Mitakuye Oyasin.
The Joints Are Jumping
June 11, 2005 04:56 PM
The Joints Are Jumping by Rachel Alexander Energy Times, October 8, 2003
It usually starts with a twinge in your back or an ache in your knees: Knee stiffness, back pain and joint inflammation can signal the beginning of arthritis.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, arthritis affects over 42 million Americans-that's 1 in every 3 adults-and costs the economy nearly $65 billion annually. But as common as arthritis is, it doesn't have to extract a high cost from your joints.
Who's At Risk?
Arthritis literally means an "inflammation of the joints" and can affect anyone-from small children to 80-year-olds. Some groups are more prone to certain types of arthritis; for instance, those over 40 are at greater risk for developing osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition of the joints.
According to Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, more than 50% of all individuals over the age of 40 have x-ray signs of osteoarthritis in weight-bearing joints (such as those in the knees and hips), and nearly half of those over 65 have measurable symptoms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is often caused by overuse, age, excess weight or genetics, or by a combination of these factors.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is a disease of the immune system that affects the joints, which can make it harder to diagnose because early symptoms-fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and low-grade fever-can mimic other chronic conditions.
Stiffness and pain may or may not accompany the initial symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. However, joints eventually become inflamed and swollen. Although less common that osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 2 million Americans.
Covering Up the Signs
Treating arthritis can involve the use of both conventional and non-conventional therapies.
"In osteoarthritis specifically, conventional medicine has just been focused on covering up the symptoms," says Jason Theodosakis, MD, author of The Arthritis Cure (St. Martin's Press). "In the history of medicine, this approach has been considered primitive."
But Dr. Theodosakis points out that treatment often depends on the type of arthritis involved: "Rheumatoid arthritis patients should be taking prescription drugs that are known to prevent the disease from progressing. [Use] alternative medicine as an adjunct..."
Conventional therapies often involve the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicines, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. The chief drawback of NSAIDs is the toll these treatments extort from the gastrointestinal system.
In fact, a 2002 study conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida, Tampa, found that more than 15% of patients developed digestive problems after a five-week course of ibuprofen. In addition, ibuprofen may increase blood pressure.
Newer prescription NSAIDs called COX-2 inhibitors, which work by suppressing the body's inflammatory response, also carry risks of side effects ranging from diarrhea and fluid retention to liver damage and kidney problems. In addition, people with asthma or chronic allergies (including to aspirin) should not take these medicines.
Corticosteroids-another treatment option that has been used to lessen inflammation-can cause side effects such as increased appetite, mood changes and even immune system breakdown.
A growing body of evidence shows that nutrients such as glucosamine and MSM, coupled with lifestyle changes, can help decrease or eliminate some of the aches and pains of arthritis. Glucosamine is a natural chemical that helps build joints. When the cartilage in joints deteriorates due to age or other factors, studies indicate that glucosamine provides the necessary building blocks for rebuilding and repairing this tissue.
In one investigation (Archives of Internal Medicine 2002; 162:2113-23), scientists discovered that glucosamine slowed the progression of osteoarthritis and improved symptoms for over 200 patients. Another study, conducted by researchers in the Netherlands, demonstrated that a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin holds promise for conditions such as spinal disc degeneration.
To date, several studies have confirmed glucosamine's ability to help the symptoms of arthritis, and the National Institutes of Health is currently supporting research to further study the benefits of glucosamine.
Other Joint Aids
MSM is often an adjunct therapy as it does not work directly on joints, but provides the raw materials, in this case sulfur, to help rebuild cartilage in the joint matrix. Studies indicate that sulfur has a protective effect and may interact with magnesium, an essential bone nutrient.
Traditionally, the herb horsetail (Equisetum arvense) has been used to supply silica, a mineral component of nails, bones and joints. Its support of these structures can help in the fight against arthritis.
As the body ages, it may lose much of its silica reserves. Resupplying much of this mineral may help support joints. In addition, experts believe, silica can help the body use calcium more effectively and support bone health.
Since rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic affliction, you should work with a trained health professional in treating it. Complementary care practitioners often use antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, to reduce free radical damage, along with pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) to lessen morning stiffness.
A Joint Project
According to Dr. Theodosakis, exercise is the key to dealing with arthritis: "[Start with] an individualized exercise program that strengthens the joints without causing more damage...and an eating program to control your weight if you are currently overweight." To limit the effects of arthritis, you should quit smoking, since smoking generates free radicals that can harm the tissues which make up joints. In addition, a strict vegan diet may help alleviate some of the pains of rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Theodosakis also recommends looking for hidden causes of symptoms, such as food allergies, that may contribute to arthritis.
Heat helps ease arthritis pain and encourages both blood flow and tissue repair. A plain, old-fashioned hot water bottle works quite well. Or you can use one of the newer heat-generating wraps, which are thin enough to be worn under clothing and don't have to be constantly reheated.
You can't always avoid arthritis, especially as you get older. But you don't have to let it get the better of you.