Search Term: " menopausal sympoms "
Fenugreek reduces menopausal symptoms
May 02, 2019 01:55 PM
According to a study in Phytotherapy Research, the nutrient fenugreek may help ease the symptoms associated with menopause without the unpleasant side effects of traditional hormone replacement therapy. Study participants who consumed 1,000 milligrams of fenugreek extract daily reported a significant improvement in headaches, hot flashes, insomnia, and night sweats, as well as an overall improvement in quality of life. Researchers concluded that fenugreek extract is a safe and effective treatment alternative for menopausal women.
"Furthermore, the researchers found fenugreek extract treatment is safe and plays a role in the management of lipid profile in menopausal women."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-03-15-fenugreek-reduces-menopausal-symptoms.html
Study confirms the effectiveness of fennel for reducingpostmenopausal symptoms
March 08, 2019 01:43 PM
A study involving 79 Iranian women ranging in the ages of 45-60 were given 100 milligrams of fennel inside soft capsules over an eight-week time span. The findings showed that the women who had previously faces menopausal symptoms found that their symptoms minimized when they were actively taking the fennel each day. These results are surprising, as researchers were only partially aware of the impact fennel had on post-menopausal women, due to data mostly focusing on how it treats digestive issues.
"According to the press release of the NAMS study, fennel is also an effective remedy that can also be used to manage postmenopause symptoms that include anxiety, hot flashes, sleeplessness, and vaginal dryness without any serious side effects."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-01-22-fennel-reduces-postmenopausal-symptoms.html
Fight menopausal symptoms with fermented red clover extract
October 14, 2018 01:38 PM
According to a recent Danish study, fermented red clover is an herbaceous plant that can effectively be used to treat mood swings and hot flashes associated with menopause. Furthermore, the red clover extract can help to prevent osteoporosis that may occur for some menopausal women. Researcher Dr. Lambert claims that the key to the beneficial properties of red clover extract is the fact that it’s fermented, which helps support the bioavailability of the plant’s estrogen-like compounds, otherwise known as isoflavones. This research on fermented red clover is important given that the unpleasant symptoms of menopause affect one in three women over age 50.
"The fermented extract is a remedy of great efficacy. In addition, the extract prevents osteoporosis or bone loss that is accelerated by menopause, which affects one in three women over the age of 50."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-09-24-fight-menopausal-symptoms-with-fermented-red-clover-extract.html
Borage seed oil found to mitigate effects of radiation therapy on the liver
August 19, 2018 09:53 AM
Borage seed oil is typically used to treat the following health problems, rheumatoid arthritis, chest congestion, cough, depression, premenstrual syndrome, and menopausal symptoms. It is often used for hair and skin conditions such as hair loss, eczema, and Acne. borage oil contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound known as gamma-linolenic acid however, borage oil is unique in that its GLA content is remarkably high.Also known as starflower, borage (Borago officinalis) is an herbaceous flowering plant.As a common herbal treatment in traditional medicine practices for hundreds of years, borage oil has numerous uses ranging from treating skin flare-ups to lowering pain.The most beneficial aspect of using borage oil either topically on the skin or internally in capsule form is it has strong anti-inflammatory effects.Borage oil is becoming increasingly popular as a natural anti-inflammatory supplement because it has one of the highest amounts of GLA of all seed oils.GLA is one type of omega-6 “essential” fatty acid that the body cannot make on its own, so we must get it from outside sources.The mechanisms of [borage oil] that provide protection against gamma-irradiation-induced toxicity may be explained by its antioxidant activity, inhibition of MDA, and prevention against GSH depletion due to its high content of GLA. Therefore, [borage oil] may be used as a beneficial supplement for patients during radiotherapy treatment.Borage can be helpful for treating a wide range of both short- and long-term illnesses like Bone loss and osteoporosis,skin disorders,Rheumatoid arthritis pain,managing diabetes,Dealing with stress, Hormonal imbalances, including adrenal insufficiency,respitory distress like bronchitis, colds, coughs and fevers,Alcoholism,preventing heart diseases and Inflammation causing pain and swelling. Borage oil is often used along with evening primrose oil supplements to further increase the anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects.
"Also known as starflower, borage (Borago officinalis) is an herbaceous flowering plant most known for being the source of borage oil."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-08-17-borage-seed-oil-found-to-mitigate-effects-of-cancer-treatment-the-supplements-antioxidant-activity-reduces-damage-to-liver-from-chemicals-according-to-study.html
Fennel Reduces Postmenopause Symptoms
July 07, 2017 04:14 PM
Fennel apparently reduces Postmenopausal symptoms. A very recent study has confirmed that fennel helps to make postmenopausal symptoms a lot better. If you cannot sleep and you have hot flashes and anxiety, then fennel will help you out a great deal. Fennel is actually an herb that people use in their cooking. It has an anise flavor that a lot of people enjoy. It offers an array of benefits for women and it can assist with digestive problems too.
"Study confirms the benefits of fennel in reducing postmenopause symptoms such as sleeplessness, hot flashses, vaginal dryness, and anxiety."
Read more: https://www.worldhealth.net/news/fennel-reduce-postmenopause-symptoms-benefits/
Hormone therapy could help improve bone health in menopausal women
December 04, 2016 02:59 PM
Loss in bone density and bone mass can be common for women after going through menopause. Recent studies, with a test group of over 1200 women, suggest that through menopausal hormone therapy (MHP), post-menopausal women may in fact be able to slow down the effects of osteoporosis and improve bone density.
"Taken for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, previous research has already revealed the benefits of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) on bone mineral density."
Always Tired? Burnout and Adrenal Fatigue Solutions
Do you often feel run down and fatigued during the day? So tired you could sleep? Do you crave and use salty and sweet foods as well as caffeine to get you through the day?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions it is likely that you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue or "Burnout." It's a very common problem which often goes unnoticed. It affects significantly more women than men. The number of people suffering has rocketed since the recession - money worries and job worries causing major stress.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal Fatigue is a term used to describe when the adrenal glands are exhausted. Adrenal fatigue is very commonly associated with stress levels. The adrenal glands release Cortisol in response to all stress, cortisol is your natural anti-inflammatory and reduces stress and inflammation levels when needed.
Your adrenal glands are located just above the kidneys and are the size of walnuts. They have a very important function within the body, they secrete over 50 different hormones which your body needs to survive. As well as cortisol some of the other hormones that the adrenal glands secrete include testosterone, estrogen, epinephrine, and progesterone.
People can live with this all their life and think it is just normal. This fatigue cannot simply be relieved by a good night's sleep. An estimated 80% of people at some point experience some form of adrenal fatigue and the physical symptoms associated with stress.
It is unlikely that a doctor will immediately diagnose you with adrenal fatigue, in my research I read about a female sufferer of adrenal fatigue who saw 27 different doctors before having her problem identified as adrenal fatigue! This is an extreme case.
Symptoms and negatives effects of adrenal fatigue
Adrenal fatigue can really wreck the life you live, in extreme cases, it can be so bad that you are only able to stay awake and move around for a couple of hours a day. Changes are made in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance is affected as well as your heart, cardiovascular system and sex drive as a result of adrenal fatigue.
The main symptoms of adrenal fatigue are:
Kava Roots Helps Those Suffering From Anxiety
Anxiety is a common mental disorder. Many treatment and preventive tips are available for these illnesses. For those who want to avoid prescription drugs, consider trying kava root as an alternative.
Kava Root has been used for:
Another common uses of kava root is for the improvement of sleep quality and pattern, and the relief of general body malaise, asthma attacks, insomnia and menopausal symptoms.
What Are Indoles?
January 03, 2013 03:59 PM
Indoles? What are these?
These are natural substances found in cruciferous vegetables when crushed or during cooking. Also referred to as indole-3-carbinol. Cruciferous vegetables include kales, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. These plants contain a high level of glucosinolate glucobrassicin when broken down which is the main source of this substance. Indole is becoming increasingly popular since it is a powerful antioxidant and has been proved to help in relieving a number of ailments.
Benefits Of Indoles:
Some of the benefits of indole-3-carbinol is that is supports the liver's detoxification process which in extension assist the colon work effectively. Liver detoxification help in filtering out the unwanted impurities from our bodies and also when used as a colon supplement, help colon work properly to eliminate waste material from our bodies. Studies have shown that this supplement (I3C) is successive in treating a prostate cancer tumor and also preventing them in the first place.
Estrogen enhanced cancerous cells in the breast, cervix and endometrial can also be prevented if used as a dietary supplement. It works by altering estrogen metabolism and cellular activities. Especially for women, indoles are beneficial since it aids in the treatment of endometriosis which is a condition where the endometrial tissue form outside the uterus. This condition causes problems such as irregular periods, lower fertility and pelvic pain.
As a powerful antioxidant, indoles help in preventing cellular damage due to free radicals and maintains the hormonal balance of the body in both men and women. Studies have also proved that it helps reduce incidences of muscle soreness due to overexertion and menopausal symptoms, breast tenderness and cramping. Indoles have been known to cause no side effects to most people when used the same amounts as found in the diet hence is safe. It however causes skin rashes and an increase in liver enzymes in some people when not used appropriately.
Chaste Berry a Women Herb
February 08, 2012 11:51 AM
Other names of Chaste Berry- Monk's pepper, Chaste-tree Berry
Chaste Berry is the fruit found on Chaste tree which is botanically known as Vitex. Chaste tree is a decidous tree that grows in a well-drained, acidic soil in full sun. Vitus agnus castus or Chaste Berry is a native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia but now is grown throughout the world. The tree belongs to Verbanaceae family and can grow to a height of 22 feet. It was traditionally used by men in ancient Greece and Rome to reduce sexual desire, treat menstrual disorders and other hormonal problems and as an anti-microbial agent against infections. It is also known as 'Women's Herb' as it regulates hormonal imbalances and promotes women reproductive health. Aside from its medicinal use, it was used as a peppery condiment. Some of the constituents included in Chaste Berry fruit are flavonoids (casticin, orientin, isovitexin, kaemferol), glycosides (aucubin and agnuside) and essential oils (linalol, sabinene, pinene and limonene). These phytohormone compounds help in regulating the female hormones production and normalising testosterone and progesterone activity.
Effects of Chaste Berry:
ChasteBerry controls and regulates overall female reproductive system.
1. It helps to manage Pre-Menstrual Syndrome: Pre-Menstrual Syndrome is associated with several uncomfortable symptoms, ranging from mood swings to fatigue and hot flushes. Chaste Berry is known to be rich in progesterone that helps to ease out the disturbing symptoms of Pre-Menstrual Syndrome.
2. It helps to normalize menstrual irregulaties: Imbalance in prolactin levels in the body can lead to various complications in women such as amenorrhoea (absence of periods), breast tenderness and reduced milk production in lactating mothers. Chaste Berry balances natural production of prolactin hormone in the body and effectively treats menstrual irregularities and other symptoms such as tenderness of breast and reduced milk secretion.
3. It treats menopausal discomforts: Some women experience dicomfort and other menopausal symptoms that affect their daily routine life. The hormone regulating properties of Chaste Berry help in easing menopausal symptoms such as mood swings and hot flushes and several other physical symptoms associated with hormone deficiency during menopause.
4. It improves overall female reproductive health: Chasteberry has been found to be effective in treating fibroid cysts especially of smooth muscle. It also reduces heavy bleeding associated with perimenopause.
5. It helps in treating Hormonal acne: Hormonal acne are due to imbalance in androgen hormone levels. Increased androgen levels in the body leads to excessive sebum production that causes acne. This wonder herb regulates the androgen levels in the body and thereby helps in treating moderate and light acne. Another way in which this herb prevents acne formation is its anti-bacterial property. The bioactive essential oils present in Chasteberry have anti-bacterial properties that prevent the survival of bacteria. Chaste Berry contains linoleic fatty acid which is responsible for regulating sebum production.
Chaste berry modulates the hormone prolactin with the neurotransmitter dopamine. The active ingredients such as polyphenols in the herb indirectly affects hormones and neurotransmitters and regulate the hormones.
Chaste berry herb is a safe and natural treatment for many women related problems.
Passion Flower Herb
December 23, 2009 03:36 PM
The passion flower comes from a genus of about five hundred species of flowering plants. These herbs are mostly vines, although some are shrubs. A few of these plants are herbaceous.
Passion flower has been found to be extremely soothing on the nervous system. It is used for conditions such as insomnia, hysteria, anxiety, and hyperactivity. Additionally, it is useful for eye conditions such as inflammation, dimness of vision, and eye irritations. Native Americans use this herb as a tonic and poultice for both bruises and injuries. Passion flower was used by the Aztecs as a sedative and for pain. The juice was also used for sore eyes, while the crushed plant tops and leaves were used for treating hemorrhoids and skin eruptions. Passion flower was listed in the National Formulary from 1916 to 1936. This herb was called the nonpoisonous and not dangerous opium of the natural physician by R. Swinburne Clymer, MD.
This herb is able to depress the central nervous system, helping with insomnia, anxiety, and nervousness. It may also be useful in lowering high blood pressure. Combinations that contain valerian and passion flower are considered to be very useful as a natural tranquilizer. This herb is also thought to be safe for both children and the elderly.
Passion flower contains a variety of complex substances that work on the nervous system and act as a sedative. The components that are responsible for the overall effect are not specifically known. However, maltol, ethyl-maltol, and flavonoids are all thought to contribute. Most research has centered around the sedative action and has found good results. Passion flower extract has also been found to reduce locomotor activity and prolong sleep. Passiflorine is thought to be one of the active ingredients of the plant. It has some similar activity to that of morphine. It contains anti-inflammatory properties that may be helpful in treating those who are suffering from arthritis. An additional benefit of passion flower is its ability to kill a wide variety of organisms. Among these are yeasts, molds, and bacteria. Passion flower works as an antispasmodic on the digestive system smooth muscles and the uterine muscles. This makes it an effective digestive aid for menstrual cramps. This herb contains both calcium and magnesium, which are essential for the nervous system.
In short, the passion flower herb is used to provide anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, nervine, and sedative properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are calcium and magnesium. Primarily, passion flower is extremely beneficial in dealing with alcoholism, anxiety, spasmodic asthma, high blood pressure, eye infection, eye tension, fevers, headaches, insomnia, menopausal symptoms, nervousness, and neuralgia. Additionally, this herb is very helpful in treating bronchitis, convulsions, depression, diarrhea, dysentery, epilepsy, eyestrain, painful menstruation, muscle spasms, pain, Parkinson’s disease, restlessness, seizures, and poor vision.
In order to obtain the best results when supplementing with this, or any herb, it is important to consult your health care provider before beginning any regimen. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by passion flower, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
October 20, 2009 12:02 PM
For thousands of years feverfew has been used for the treatment of various ailments. History is full of references to feverfew. Dioscorides, an ancient Greek herbalist, recommended the use of feverfew almost two thousand years ago, as he valued the herb for childbirth, fevers, melancholy, and congestion of the lungs. It was also suggested for arthritis. In 1772, feverfew was suggested to be used to treat painful headaches. Many people believe that feverfew obtained its name from its use as a remedy for bringing down fevers, but this has been determined to be incorrect. Instead, the name came from the traditional Old English name for feverfew, featherfew. Featherfew came from the feather-shaped leaves of the feverfew plant.
Feverfew has been used for a long time as a natural remedy for pain relief, as it is considered an excellent remedy for migraines. This herb was used to treat any kind of pain and helped with chills and fever. Additionally, it helps in relieving colds, dizziness, tinnitus, and inflammation from arthritis. The herb works gradually and with a gentle action that allows the body to heal itself.
The most popular use of feverfew is in the prevention and relief of migraine headaches. In a study, those given the placebo had an increase in frequency and severity of headaches, nausea, and vomiting. On the other hand, those given the feverfew capsules had no increase in frequency or severity of migraines. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study was done on seventy-two volunteers. One group received capsule dried feverfew leaves, while the other received a placebo. The group taking feverfew showed less severity of attacks and a reduction in symptoms that were associated with migraines, including vomiting. There was a definite improvement in the group using feverfew and no serious side effects resulted. Because some forms of migraines are believed to be associated with abnormal platelet behavior, feverfew may be beneficial as it has been found to help restrain the release of serotonin from platelets. This prevents a migraine from occurring.
It is thought that feverfew may also be a useful treatment in cases of rheumatoid arthritis. This is because of its ability to inhibit the formation of inflammation-promoting compounds like prostaglandins and leukotriene. This herb seems to have similar properties to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), like aspirin. Feverfew may actually be even more effective with a lot fewer potential complications. Some of the studies involving feverfew and migraines have shown that feverfew may also lower blood pressure.
The leaves and flowers of the feverfew plant are used to provide alterative, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, aromatic, bitter, carminative, emmenagogue, febrifuge, nervine, parasiticide, mild purgative, stimulant, and vasodilator properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are iron, niacin, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, vitamins A and C, and zinc. Primarily, feverfew is extremely helpful in dealing with chills, colds, fever, headaches, sinus headaches, and inflammation.
Additionally, this herb is very beneficial in treating aches, ague, allergies, anxiety, arthritis, insect bites, poor circulation, dizziness, gastric disorders, nervous headaches, hot flashes, indigestion, and menopausal symptoms, absent menstruation, nervousness, tinnitus, and vertigo. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by feverfew, please contact a representative from your local health food store.
Hops And Good health
September 20, 2009 08:47 PM
Hops are the female flower cones, which are also known as strobiles, of the hop plant. The hop plant is part of the Cannabaceae family, which also includes hemp. Primarily, hops are used as a flavoring and stability agent in beer. The first documented use in beer is from the eleventh century. Today, hops are used extensively in brewing because of their many benefits. Among these are balancing the sweetness of the hops with bitterness. However, hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine.
Nicholas Culpeper, a seventeenth-century herbalist, suggested the use of hops to open obstructions of the liver and spleen, cleanse the blood, loosen the belly, cleanse the veins, and promote urination. Hops were used as food by the Romans. Gerard, a famous herbalist, recommended using the buds in salads. Native American tribes also found hops to be of value. The Mohicans used it as a sedative and also for toothaches, while the Menominee tribes used hops as a cure-all. The lupulin that is found in hops is described as both a sedative and hypnotic drug. It was recognized in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1831 to 1916. Most often, hops are probably used in the production of beer.
Hops are best known for their sedative action. Also, they are used for their antibiotic properties. These properties are beneficial for sore throats, bronchitis, infections, high fevers, delirium, toothaches, earaches, and pain. Although hops are strong, they seem to be safe to use. Their main uses are to alleviate nervous tension and promote a restful sleep. They have been used to naturally relieve insomnia. For inflammation, boils, tumors, and swelling, a poultice of hops is recommended. Hops have been used as a stimulant to the glands and muscles of the stomach. They have also been used as a relaxant on the gastric nerves. Hops have a relaxing influence on the liver and gall duct and a laxative effect on the bowels. Many studies indicate that hops have sedative properties. This herb is known to be fast-acting, soothing, and calming to the nervous system. Hops are often nervine herbs that aid in promoting sleep. Certain elements of the plant have been shown to possess hypnotic effects. Hops are also used for their antispasmodic effects. Additionally, hops contain antibacterial properties, which validates some of their historical uses.
The flower of the hops plant is used to provide alterative, anodyne, antibacterial, antibiotic, antineoplastic, carminative, cholagogue, galactagogue, nervine, sedative, stomachic, and vulnerary properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are chlorine, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, sodium, vitamin B-complex, and zinc. Primarily, this herb is extremely beneficial in treating appetite loss, bronchitis, delirium, gastric disorders, headaches, hyperactivity, and indigestion, insomnia, absent lactation, nervousness, pain, and excessive sexual desire.
Additionally, this herb is very helpful in dealing with alcoholism, anxiety, blood impurities, coughs, intestinal cramps, dizziness, earaches, fevers, gas, jaundice, kidney stones, liver disorders, menstrual symptoms, menopausal symptoms, neuralgia, restlessness, rheumatism, skin disorders, sleeplessness, toothache, ulcers, venereal diseases, water retention, whooping cough, and worms. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by hops, please feel free to contact a representative from your local health food store with questions.
Gotu Kola And Memory
September 15, 2009 04:30 PM
For centuries, gotu kola has been used in India and the islands of the Indian Ocean as a tonic and medicinal remedy. The herb was thought to increase longevity and improve energy. It was used in ancient days to treat leprosy, calm nerves, increase mental and physical power, stimulate and rejuvenate the brain, prevent nervous disorders, and avoid mental fatigue and senility.
This herb is considered to be one of the best herbal tonics, which is a substance that works to put the body into balance. A tonic makes sure that everything is working properly, while an herbal tonic helps to promote an optimum state in the body systems. This herb is responsible for gradually building the nervous system as a nervous system tonic. Gotu kola has been used for many different maladies, which include nervous disorders, deficient mental function, memory problems, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. The herb works by cleansing and purifying the blood by neutralizing acids and helping the body defend itself against toxins.
Research has found that an ingredient in gotu kola, known as asiaticoside, is responsible for speeding the healing of wounds. This ingredient is considered a blood cleanser and is also effective for diseases of the lungs. The herb stimulates the capillaries and helps to improve brain function, varicose veins, and hypertension.
Gotu kola is often used to increase mental function and performance. A variety of studies have confirmed this herb’s ability to improve brain function. It is often prescribed in Europe and India for this purpose. Studies done in India have found the water extract of fresh leaves helps to improve memory and learning. Additionally, it was found to help overcome the negative effects that are associated with stress and fatigue.
Additional clinical trials in India have found that gotu kola is able to help increase the IQ and mental ability of mentally retarded children. The children that were involved in this study showed improved mental capacity and behavior. This herb was given to children in combination with capsicum and ginseng. This improved behavior and mental capacity can help individuals who have mental and learning disabilities to achieve a higher quality of life.
In ancient times, gotu kola was used to heal wounds and soothe cases of leprosy. One of the first studies done on this herb was with cases of leprosy. The asiaticoside content found in gotu kola has been used for years in Europe and the Far East to cure leprosy and tuberculosis. Recent studies on this herb center more on its healing ability. Gotu kola seems to be able to accelerate the healing of wounds and skin diseases. Additionally, it has been shown to be beneficial in helping repair tissue after surgery and trauma. The herb has the ability to strengthen veins and repair connective tissue, while nourishing the motor neurons.
The entire gotu kola plant is used to provide alterative, antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, blood purifier, diuretic, and nervine properties. The primary nutrients in this herb are catechol, epicatechol, magnesium, theobromine, and vitamin K. Primarily, gotu kola is extremely helpful in dealing with aging, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, poor circulation, fatigue, heart problems, hypoglycemia, leprosy, memory loss, mental problems, nervousness, and senility.
Additionally, this herb is beneficial in treating blood impurities, depression, dysentery, fevers, headaches, insomnia, liver ailments, menopausal symptoms, pituitary problems, psoriasis, rheumatism, schizophrenia, thyroid problems, tonsillitis, effects of toxins, tuberculosis, varicose veins, lack of vitality, and wounds. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by gotu kola, please contact a representative from your local health food store.
July 31, 2009 12:03 PM
Sarsaparilla can be found natively growing in the Pacific regions of Mexico, along the coast to Peru. The root is commonly used to make root beer. The sarsaparilla plant is mostly a find. It can primarily be found in Mexico, Central America and South America. The root of the plant is the most valued portion. It has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, much like ginseng or licorice root. Sarsaparilla root is very bitter. Because of this, it was a common practice for pharmacists to distill the useful chemicals from this herb and mix them with sugar water. From this, a very popular beverage called sarsaparilla was born. This was years before other chemists would invent other medicinal drinks like the original Pepsi and 7-Up.
The sarsaparilla plant was most definitely used as a medicinal tonic, but it was often served as a sweetened beverage. Some formulas substituted sarsaparilla root with a combination of birch oil and sassafras, which is a treat that is found in the western United States. Some believe that the informal name of the drink, sasparilla, indicates the use of sassafras extract, while others say the name is a corruption of the original sarsaparilla. Unfortunately, the modern beverage is closer to a birch oil/sassafras mixture than the more bitter sarsaparilla extract. The roots of the sarsaparilla plant can be purchased in certain grocery or health food stores. The beverage called sarsaparilla is a little more difficult to find. Smaller bottling companies may produce a version for local consumption, but that national interest in root beer, sarsaparilla’s cousin, has made it much harder to come by.
Often, sarsaparilla is used in glandular balance formulas. This is because components in sarsaparilla help with the production of testosterone and progesterone. The herb also stimulates the metabolism, aids digestion, and improves the appetite. It has been used to help with gas and edema, along with other related conditions. Additionally, studies have shown that this herb contains diuretic activity and also increased the elimination of chlorides and uric acid. Sarsaparilla is beneficial for many skin ailments. Among these are psoriasis, eczema, and leprosy. This has been found to be true in various studies. The herb also works as an anti-inflammatory by increasing circulation to rheumatic joints. It also helps to relieve arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. This herb also stimulates breathing when congestion occurs. It even helps to purify the blood.
The root of the sarsaparilla plant are used to provide alterative, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aromatic, blood purifier, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, and stimulant properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are copper, iodine, iron, manganese, silicon, sodium, vitamins A, B-complex, and C, and zinc. Primarily, sarsaparilla is extremely beneficial in treating joint aches and pains, arthritis, blood impurities, eczema, gas, glandular problems, hormone imbalance, inflammation, psoriasis, skin diseases, and syphilis.
Additionally, the herb is very helpful in dealing with age spots, appetite loss, cods, congestion, edema, sore eyes, fevers, gout, impotence, leprosy, menopausal symptoms, metabolism disorders, skin parasites, chronic rheumatism, ringworms, primary tuberculosis, and sores. In order to obtain the best results when supplementing with this, or any herb, it is important to consult your health care provider before beginning any regimen to prevent prescription drug interaction. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by sarsaparilla, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
Sarsaparilla root is available in capsule and tablet forms at your local or internet health food store. It is recommended that you look for name brands like Solaray, Natures Way, and Natures Plus to ensure quality and purity of the product you purchase.
May 20, 2009 12:00 PM
Bee pollen is made up of the fine powder that is found in the male seed of a flower blossom. Bees transport this powder and mix it with nectar to create their own form of nourishment. The pollen grains are collected and eaten by the bees, but they are also used to pollinate the flowers. Since the beginning of time, bee pollen and honey have been recognized for their astounding healing benefits. Egyptian records going back thousands of years have references to honey and the potential for healing that it holds. Marathon runners of ancient Greece recognized the value that bee pollen held to increase their strength and endurance. Bee pollen was also revered by European nations and Asian countries for its medicinal value.
Bee pollen is considered to be a complete food due to the fact that it contains every chemical substance that is needed to maintain life. This makes it a great supplement to help build the immune system and provide the body with energy. Recent scientific research has found that bee pollen contains properties which are beneficial to healing, revitalizing, and protecting against radiation therapy. Bee pollen is also a rich source of protein and carbohydrates. This nutrient can not only be used as a food supplement, but also to correct body chemistry and normalize weight.
Scientists at the Institute of Bee Culture in Buressur-Yvette near Paris, in addition to other researchers throughout Europe, have studied the effects of honeybee pollen consumption on human beings. The study concluded that there are exceptional antibiotic properties in bee pollen. It was also found that bee pollen is helpful in treating conditions like chronic fatigue, hay fever, allergies, bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma, colds, balancing the endocrine system, and menopausal symptoms. Additionally, bee pollen can be helpful in treating other conditions such as prostate problems including prostates, infertility, indigestion, constipation, colitis, anemia, high blood pressure, premature aging, depression, and hair loss.
Bee pollen has also been shown to improve one’s concentration and mental function. A study found that a group of students’ mental performance improved drastically when supplementing with bee pollen. This nutrient also reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It does this by preventing plaque buildup in the arteries. This supplement is often used by athletes to increase strength, endurance, and speed.
The pollen of bees is used to provide both alterative and nutritive properties. The primary nutrients found in bee pollen are twenty-one amino acids, enzymes, essential fatty acids, and variable vitamins and minerals. These vitamins and minerals depend on the region that the bee pollen is harvested in. Primarily, bee pollen is extremely beneficial in dealing with aging, allergies, hay fever, loss of appetite, lack of endurance, exhaustion, fatigue, a weak immune system, infection, multiple sclerosis, and pregnancy problems.
Additionally, bee pollen can be extremely helpful in treating asthma, high blood pressure, cancer, depression, hypoglycemia, indigestion, liver diseases, prostate disorders, and radiation. Bee pollen is available in capsules, tablets, and bulk powder forms for easy consumption. Always look for name brands to ensure quality and purity of the bee pollen product you purchase. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by bee pollen, please contact a representative from your local health food store.
September 02, 2008 10:10 AM
An isoflavone from soy has been evaluated for its effect on various female functions such as the menopause and some effects on estrogens. Soy products have been part of the diet in the Far East for thousands of years, and it is a known fact that these people suffer fewer incidences of conditions such as breast cancer, menopausal problems, rectal cancer and diseases of the heart and joints.
The benefits that such a diet appeared to confer on those taking it initiated many studies into the active constituents of soy, and how the biochemistry involved imparted these benefits. A result of this was an intensification of investigations into many so-called -women's functions' or 'women's problems' that hitherto had been accepted as a part of life. Now, however, they are better understood, just as many other components of the Oriental diet are being found to have wider implications in terms of disease prevention and increasing life expectancy. So back to soy and its isoflavone content.
Soy contains a number of isoflavones, commonly known as phyto-estrogens - plant estrogens - because their chemical formula is similar to that of estrogen, a female hormone. Isoflavones possess some properties that support the beneficial properties of estrogens, and others that suppress some of the risk factors possessed by estrogen. We shall discuss here how these isoflavones are related chemically to estrogens, and how they can be used to support some specific female functions.
In order to understand how isoflavones work we go back to the 1980s, when alpha and beta estrogen receptors were discovered. Until then, the biochemistry of estrogen was not fully understood, and problems connected with estrogen had not been fully investigated.
Like all hormones, estrogen works by finding receptors that are located on cells. With regard to estrogen there are two types of receptor. The beta receptors are connected with the beneficial properties of estrogen, while the alpha receptors tend to lead to the unfavorable effects such as cancers related to estrogen. Each of your different tissue types possesses different ratios of these two receptor types.
The unfavorable alpha receptors predominate in tissues such as the breast, ovaries and uterus. The favorable beta receptors predominate in the blood cells, bladder, prostate gland, thymus and bones. Studies have indicated that isoflavones appear to attack to the beta receptors and simulate the beneficial effect of estrogen when the levels of estrogen in the body are low, and allow the proper functioning of these cells in the body.
The alpha cells are also populated by isoflavones, which then protect these areas of your body against cancers that can be stimulated by estrogen, such as cancers of the breast, ovaries and uterus. It appears that cancers that can develop when the alpha receptors are populated by estrogen do not occur when isoflavones have captured them
Isoflavones are present in the form of glucosides. These are composed of sugar and non-sugar components, the latter known as aglycones, and the main isoflavones in soybean are based on the three aglycones genistein, daizein and glycetein. The glucosides are water soluble and are broken down into enzymes known as B-glucosidases in the intestine. This releases the aglycones that can be further metabolized into other substances.
Current studies are examining the possibility that a diet rich in isoflavones taken early in life up to teenage years can reduce the incidence of breast cancer in later years. Isoflavones have been used in the laboratory to reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells, and animal studies have reinforced this finding. The fact that Japanese men suffer less from prostate cancer than those eating diets low in isoflavones also tend to reinforce this connection.
The same mechanism can be used to in prostate cancer by binding to testosterone receptors. Genistein, in particular, can help treat certain types of cancer by inhibiting enzymes such as tyrosine kinase that can become hyperactive and overstimulate the growth of potentially cancerous cells.
It is probable that the estrogen binding facility of isoflavones complements the activity of estrogen in women with low levels of hormone. When the female estrogen level is low, isoflavones can reduce the effects of the menopause and symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats become less severe. While not all women benefit, it has been found that women with these symptoms tend to suffer less when taking a diet rich in soy foods containing isoflavones.
In addition to its moderating effect on these cancers, and its effect on the menopausal symptoms on many women, soy isoflavones possess a few other beneficial health properties. They are strong antioxidants, and help to support the immune system by mopping up free radicals. They also help to protect from atherosclerosis by preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and depositing it as plaque in the arteries.
There is evidence that isoflavones in the diet can help to maintain strong healthy bones. This is largely through the fact that Chinese women taking a diet rich in soya suffer fewer fractures than those on a low soy diet, but studies are continuing into potential reasons for this. Estrogen receptors in bones regulate bone growth and density. Isoflavones can modulate these receptors and promote greater bone density just like estrogen hormones with out estrogen side effects.
Isoflavones have few dietary sources, the richest being soybeans and other soy products. These are very low in the non-Asian diet, so few people, other than Asians, receive the benefit of these phytochemicals. This is believed to be the major reason for Asians suffering significantly lower rates of certain cancers than non-Asians.
Soy milk and tofu are the richest sources, although there is no standardization of isoflavones in soy-based foodstuffs. This is because the isoflavone content varies according to growing conditions, although a diet containing the recommended quantities of soy foods, such as soy milk or soy beans, together with a low cholesterol diet, should help women to overcome many of the problems associated with excess estrogen, or a lack of it especially when taking in conjunction with essential fatty acids.
Any supplement containing soy will be beneficial to most women, particularly during the menopausal stages, although the effect of isoflavones on certain cancers to which women are susceptible cannot be ignored. Such supplements should therefore be used by all women from at the teens onwards, studies having indicating that an isoflavone-rich diet should be beneficial over the longer term.
Isoflavones from soy is effective in helping to support female functions, although the normal Western diet is traditionally very short in these forms of phytoestrogen. Isoflavones can modulate estrogen receptor sites through out the body helping the body regulate its functions and easy the symptoms related to a estrogen deficient body.
August 29, 2008 09:20 AM
Gamma Oryzanol is extracted from rice bran oil, and is a mixture of substances that includes ferulic acid and sterols. It is not restricted to rice barn oil, and is also found in the bran of other grains, and some fruits and vegetables. It is commonly used as a sports supplement, although possesses other uses including treatment of menopausal symptoms and high cholesterol levels.
Athletes use gamma oryzanol to increase their muscle bulk through it increasing the levels of testosterone and other anabolic hormones. Although there is little scientific evidence for these effects, bodybuilders claim excellent results and the other benefits that the substance offers make it worthwhile taking. The reported benefits are so common and widespread that they are difficult to ignore, and it can be assumed that, in the absence of scientific evidence through test results, the athletes and bodybuilders are right until proven wrong.
Gamma oryzanol is reported to promote a number of metabolic effects on the body such stimulation of the Human Growth Hormone that is involved in increasing muscle bulk. It also induces increased release of endorphins, and improves recovery after exercise. Ferulic acid promotes increased strength, reduced fatigue and improved recovery.
The catabolic effect of cortisol is also reduced. Cortisol is produced during exercise and it is destructive to muscle tissue. What this does in practice is to increase your recovery time, and after a long run it can take two days to recover and allow your exercise effectively again. It is important that your body is conditioned to rapidly reduce its cortisol content after exercise, and ferulic acid helps you to do this.
Athletes have reported no side effects from doses of up to 900 mg of gamma oryzanol and 60 mg ferulic acid, which appears to be up to thirty times as bioavailable to the human body as gamma oryzanol. However, there are many more uses of the supplement than just metabolic ones.
Gamma oryzanol possesses strong antioxidant properties. Ferulic acid is a phenolic phytochemical, and a derivative of trans-cinnamic acid. As such, it is an antioxidant with strong reducing properties towards free radicals. Free radicals are implicated in cardiac problems cause by the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, leading to atherosclerosis that is responsible for strokes and blockages of the cardiac arteries.
Lipid peroxides can be formed by the oxidization of fats, and can damage nerve cells and muscle tissue. Antioxidants can also lead to premature aging through the destruction of human body cells, damage to DNA and also many forms of cancer. Although it is believed that components of gamma oryzanol can inhibit the initiation of some cancers, the evidence is still scanty and the research in its infancy.
Any substance that destroys free radicals is of benefit to your health, and Ferulic acid stands beside other strong antioxidants such as Vitamins A, D and E, and many of the high colored phytochemicals such as beta carotene. It is believed to have anti-cancer properties with some forms of cancer, such as breast and liver cancer, though, as referred to above, studies are continuing.
Paradoxically, intensive physical exercise can lead to the generation of more free radicals, since they are a by-product of the generation of energy in the mitochondria from blood glucose, and so, in addition to its beneficial metabolic and anti-catabolic properties, gamma oryzanol should be taken during exercise in order to reduce the effect of these dangerous molecules.
The effect of gamma oryzanol on cholesterol levels has been demonstrated, and complement the same effect offered by the fatty acid component of the bran oil. It appears to prevent the absorption of cholesterol by the digestive tract, and so allow it to be excreted naturally before doing any harm. It is believed that the phytosterols present in rice bran oil block the cholesterol absorption sites in the intestine, so is must continue down the intestinal canal until it is evacuated.
Cholesterol itself is essential to human metabolism and biochemistry, and without it we could not survive. Cholesterol is not soluble in water, and it has to be bound to low density lipids (LDL) to enable it to be transported round the blood to where it is needed: usually in the arteries to heal up arterial damage, a bit like a sticking plaster.
However, free radicals oxidize these LDLs and deposit them along with their cholesterol on the artery walls: that is the problem, not the cholesterol itself, and is why antioxidants such as gamma oryzanol are so important to us. Rice bran oil has been used by the Japanese for many years to treat elevated cholesterol levels and also to reduce high triglyceride levels.
It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, specifically in the stomach and can be used to treat gastritis, in that it reduces the inflammation of the stomach lining. There is some evidence from studies on animals that the substance could be effective in treating gastric ulcers, although the results with animals have not yet been tried on human subjects. Another mechanism, other than the anti-inflammatory route, is through the normalization of the secretion of the gastric juices.
Another use to which gamma oryzanol has been successful put is in the treatment of menopause symptoms. This is another of those situations where some trials have proved unsuccessful, but those that use it has found it be effective. Hot flashes and aging syndromes are two symptoms that have been effectively treated by use of the supplement, with one study reporting a 50% reduction in symptoms in 70% of patients.
The way this is theorized to work is through the inhibition of the secretion of leutinizing hormone by the pituitary gland, which promotes the hypothalamus to release endorphins. Endorphins help to overcome the effects of the menopause.
Gamma oryzanol, then, has found use by many athletes and bodybuilders in its metabolic properties in helping to increase muscle bulk and reduce fat, and by shortening recovery times by reducing the catabolic effect of cortisol. However, apart from these sports-related benefits, it possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial to your general health.
August 15, 2008 11:53 AM
In the recent past, DHEA has shown scientists its amazing abilities within the human body. Clinical tests have created a huge amount of interest for both scientists and consumers, with estimates of about 500 in-depth clinical studies on DHEA taking place. These tests, which have been conducted at some of the most prestigious medical research centers and universities in the country, have proven DHEA to be one of the most important anti-aging and anti-disease substances of the 21st century.
DHEA is a crucial and important hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands. It is often called the mother hormone, as it forms the base for the biochemical actions of hormones like testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and corticosterone. These hormones control important body functions that determine metabolism, energy output, endocrine mechanisms, and reproductive capabilities. DHEA directs the entire endocrine systems through activating and inhibiting enzymes. In its many clinical studies, DHEA has shown an unusually wide variety of physiological benefits. Although it has been known for many years that DHEA is made by the adrenal glands, the function of DHEA in the body has only been recently studied.
DHEA is produced by the adrenal glands, but it can also be found in non-patented prescription drugs and other over-the-counter forms. A lot of these supplements contain a synthetic DHEA-S. A lot of people consider Dioscorea extract, which can be found in Mexican Wild Yam, to have a natural source of DHEA. There are a lot of naturally occurring compounds that can mimic the actions of DHEA and, at the time, do not require a prescription. Wild Yam and Mexican Yam can give a botanical precursor of DHEA, which is considered a substantial source by a lot of health advocates. A great number of studies on DHEA that is derived from Mexican Yam have been conducted, with results concluding that DHEA derived from Mexican Yam and Dioscorea extract is a great idea. However, some controversy surrounds the value of Wild Yam as a valuable source of DHEA.
DHEA is used in the body to make other hormone, as it is the most dominant of all the hormones present in the body. It contributes to the proper growth of brain cells, inhibits the conversion of carbohydrates to fats, decreases the formation of blood clots, regulates hormones, decreases the stickiness of platelets that can clump to cause heart attacks and strokes, increase estrogen in women and testosterone in men, lowers LDL cholesterol, enhances overall immunity, and decreases symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
DHEA helps to reduce menopausal symptoms, promotes thermo genesis, helps to increase muscle mass, stabilizes blood sugar, inhibits appetite and discourages eating, boosts endurance, inhibits diseases associated with aging, helps to restore collagen and skin integrity, fights fatigue and depression, helps to inhibit certain tumors, improves calcium absorption to discourage osteoporosis, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and helps to lower blood pressure.
DHEA levels dramatically vary in each individual and can drop as a result of stress or other conditions such as blood sugar, fever, hypertension, nicotine ingestion, alcohol consumption, drinking coffee, and the presence of various diseases. Taking birth control pills and other synthetic hormones can also deplete levels of DHEA. When any of these occur, supplementation is needed. Therapeutic doses range from 5 to 25 milligrams per day which can be found here at VitaNet, LLC.
Natural Hormone Balance for Women
December 25, 2007 11:18 AM
The majority of women are affected by moderate-to-severe menopausal symptoms and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) at some point in their life. PMS that is clinically diagnosed consists of symptoms that are so severe and pervasive that careers, social interactions, and family lives are negatively affected. This occurs in eight to twenty percent of women in the Western world. Menopause and PMS are both characterized by a severe fluctuation or major falling of the female hormones estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin. Since many examples of women who are barely affected by natural changes exist, it can be logically inferred that female hormones are capable of remaining close to balanced, while others experience hormones that swing abruptly from one extreme to the next, causing severe mood swings. Although changes in hormone levels are the reason menopause and PMS occur, women do have some control over the severity of their symptoms.
There are many natural approaches to hormone balance along with other medical interventions that can be used either separate or together. However, one must remember that women are biologically programmed to have multiple children, which therefore, would limit the number of menstrual cycles in a lifetime. Additionally, women are now living thirty years past menopause, an experience that is relatively new. Also, a lot of the pain and anguish that is associated with menopause and PMS is actually related to obesity, high-calorie eating habits, and inactivity. Normal body weight and regular exercise often leads to mild or inconsequential PMS.
In 2002, estrogen and progesterone hormone replacement therapy, which is the standard treatment for menopausal symptoms, came under scrutiny after the publication of research that found that supplementation of estrogen significantly increases the risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Supplementing estrogen also does not protect against cardiovascular disease. As a result, US-dispensed prescriptions for estrogen declined from ninety-one million in 2001 to fifty-seven million in 2003. It has been found that a lot of the excess risk for breast and ovarian cancer was due to prescriptions being refilled indefinitely instead of hormone replacement therapy only being used at the onset of menopause. Additionally, supplemental estrogen was not paired and balanced with progesterone, causing a greater risk. Either way, the door to natural alternatives was opened wide, especially for those patients who have a family history of reproductive cancer. Natural therapy for menopause and PMS is based upon phytoestrogens.
Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that contain chemical structures which resemble estrogen. These plant compounds can exert weak estrogenic or antiestrogenic effects. Isoflavones from legumes such as soybean, red clover, licorice, as well as lignans like flaxseed and milk thistle are the most common and familiar phytoestrogens. Black cohosh has been shown to have antiestrogenic effects only. Phytoestrogens have been proven to reduce the risk for estrogen-dependent breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers as well as hot flashes, night sweats, and sleep disturbances. Although phytoestrogens do a good job at protecting women from symptoms of excess estrogen, phytoestrogens cannot replace estrogen when there isn’t enough. They don’t help with vaginal wall atrophy and dryness, thinning hair, lack of sexual desire, menopause-related urogenital itching, or infertility. For the best results, supplements of soy and red clover isoflavone should be taken 2-3 times daily. Although there are no herbal alternatives that actually raise levels of estrogen, natural medicine such as dong quai, licorice, milk thistle, ginseng, pycnogenol, and pollen for menopause and calcium, magnesium, B6, chastre tree, dong quai, and ginseng for PMS can balance existing female hormones and provide relief from symptoms.
Take Charge Of Your Health With Herbal Bio-Identical hormones
November 04, 2007 03:17 PM
Bioidentical hormones assist women in overcoming acute menopausal symptoms, while improving skin. They help by strengthening bones, keeping the mind sharp, promoting energy and well-being, and helping to preserve vaginal tone and resist vaginal dryness. In men, these hormones add energy and vitality, while improving muscle tones and mental sharpness. Bioidentical hormones (BHRT) are exact duplicates of the hormones that are produced by the body. However, they are much more easily metabolized by the body into safe forms of estrogen than their counterparts, which stimulate toxic metabolites. When they are used in physiologic amounts, bioidenticals carry much fewer risks than synthetic hormones. However, despite the fact that research supports their use and proves them safe alternatives to prescription drugs, few physicians are actually using these hormones in their practices.
Those patients, who wish to address menopausal and andropause symptoms, or to achieve lifelong hormonal balance in order to prevent illness, often do not know where to go to find a comprehensive bioidentical hormone replacement program. Instead, they read whatever they can to formulate a plan and purchase various products that are available over the counter, often spending precious time and money on programs and products that don’t do what they’re expected to do. One of the most common errors among people is putting together a program based solely on symptoms instead of first checking hormone levels. Symptoms may overlap from one hormone pattern to another. If you try to replace or augment specific hormones without having an accurate test of the levels first, your results will seldom be good.
If your doctor is prescribing transdermal hormones, make sure to do a saliva self-test to measure your hormones levels as it is much more accurate and revealing than other types of tests. You can submit your samples to Mead Labs, where you will actually receive a telephone consultation from a health professional to interpret your results followed by a program of products prescribed especially for you from one of their medical professionals. With your own results, you can learn a lot about the exact state of your hormones instead of blindly guessing from symptoms which may be similar. For example, men may not need testosterone shots or transdermal patches, as the results may show estrogen dominance. The answer for this is not adding more testosterone, because the man could be converting testosterone into estrogen, but instead a program including special herbs and nutrients may be much more beneficial. No matter your gender, your health professional at Mead Labs will design a safe and effective program based solely on bioidentical hormones, herbs, and nutrients first. In the past years, when prescription, non-bioidentical HRT was used by any women with menopausal symptoms, there was no testing to find out what kind of imbalance was actually occurring. Proponents of BHRT are trying to ensure that this method of prescribing the same combination and amounts of medications to everyone is not used with natural hormones. Because hormone profiles and levels can vary significantly from person to person, even those people in the same gender, testing hormones levels and obtaining recommendations from a medical professional who is experienced in BHRT are the key points to ensure you benefit from this therapy.
Remifemin symptomatic relief, scientifically supported*
August 26, 2006 02:41 PM
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*this statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treate, cure, or prevent any disease.
Natural Progesterone and Menopause
July 25, 2005 10:15 PM
Natural Progesterone and Menopause
During the thirties and forties of a woman’s lifetime, progesterone production can decrease resulting in shorter intervals between periods. For example, when the ovaries produce progesterone for only 9 days rather than the normal 14, menstruation may occur every 24 days rather than the usual 28 days. In addition, low levels of progesterone coupled with an estrogen dominance can cause the lining of the uterus to build up leading to abnormally heavy menstrual flows or even spotting between periods. Many women who are in perimenopause (the years just prior to the onset of menopause) experience these symptoms in combination with intensified PMS. Weight gain, bloating, headaches, irritability, depression, and anxiety are common complaints for women in their late thirties and throughout the forties. Frequently, these women had no cycle-related problems in their earlier years and suddenly become all to aware of a whole host of troubling symptoms. More often than not, a drop in progesterone and an estrogen overload are to blame.
Just because a woman no longer ovulates or has a menstrual cycle does not mean that she no longer needs to achieve a proper ratio of hormones. On the contrary, it is during these years that the right kind of hormonal supplementation needs to be implemented or menopausal symptoms and diseases like osteoporosis may develop. Today, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is recommended for many postmenopausal women with the assumption that it can help pre vent heart disease, osteoporosis and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately much controversy surrounds the prescription of synthetic hormones due to their potentially dangerous side effects. Ideally, a far better solution would be to supply the body with the proper natural biochemical building blocks to prompt the production of natural hormones. This is where phytoestrogens or plant-based compounds such as dioscorea (wild yam) can play a profoundly important role in managing menopausal disorders such as osteoporosis.
Moderating Male Midlife Moodiness - The lesser known guy version of menopause is now a ...
July 14, 2005 09:28 AM
Moderating Male Midlife MoodinessThe lesser known guy version of menopause is now a syndrome
Question: How can you tell if a man has irritable male syndrome?
Irritable male syndrome (IMS) may sound like a joke, but it's really no laughing matter. Just as women experience anxiety, depression and irritability with hormonal changes, men too can suffer from cyclic and menopausal symptoms-they're just more likely to be chastised for it instead of being consoled with a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Since men's hormones actually fluctuate every hour rather than every 28 days, it should come as no surprise that male behavior should be affected. For some men over 40, however, the behavior swing can be quite dramatic, leaving a guy in a chronic bad mood. But try telling the grouch that he suffers from "male menopause" and he just might chuck the Ben & Jerry's at you.
The term "irritable male syndrome" was coined by Gerald A. Lincoln, a researcher at the Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit in Edinburgh, Scotland. Lincoln first observed IMS while studying Soay sheep, a large, curly-horned variety known for their boisterous rutting rituals that rival the masculine intensity of any Super Bowl party. After mating season, however, Lincoln noticed that as testosterone levels dropped off, the rams became agitated, fearful, withdrawn and likely to irrationally strike out at other males. The hypothesis behind this behavior is that the withdrawal of androgens affects melatonin and serotonin uptake and can make for one cranky ram. However, IMS in two-legged, human subjects can present itself with more complexity.
Psychotherapist Jed Diamond, author of The Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing the Four Key Causes of Depression and Aggression (Rodale Books), defines IMS as "a state of hypersensitivity, anxiety, frustration and anger that occurs in males and is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuations, and loss of male identity" that can occur at any time during a man's life. A lot of IMS involves depression; normally thought of as a female problem, this emotional downer often comes out differently in men, more outwardly than inwardly directed.
One point of similarity between the sexes is that IMS, like depression in women, is often linked to the multi-source stress that pervades modern living. The result? According to Diamon, "Up to 30% of men, especially those in adolescence and midlife, exhibit symptoms of IMS. In its mildest forms, it can cause men to be moody and irritable. At its worst, it can lead to violence and even suicide."
Is it a Bad Day or a Bad Decade?
So how can you really tell if a man has irritable male syndrome? Since a guy isn't likely to say flat out that he's having trouble with relationships or is having hot flashes (you read that right), there are other, more telltale signs to look for. While we all may temporarily experience bad moods, if you or someone you know exhibits one or more of these feelings with frequency over a period of time, IMS may be the cause: anger, sarcasm, defensiveness, blaming, withdrawal, anxiety, defiance, being argumentative, feeling unappreciated, frustration.
Physical IMS symptoms include fatigue, unexpected weight gain or loss, frequent urination, hair loss (besides the typical male pattern) and impotence. The thyroid gland, which serves as the body's master energy controller, is often out of whack on men suffering from IMS. If that sounds familiar, see your practitioner for a thyroid hormone check.
Less Flabby Means Less Crabby
Sometimes, IMS is not a matter of lowered testosterone levels but one of elevated estradoil, the usable form of the female hormone estrogen. This condition can develop with consumption of too many hormone-laced meats (eating organic meat is a good option). In addition, a diet high in high-glycemic carbs such as white breads and white pasta will undermine testosterone levels as well as pack on unwanted pounds.
To help trim down and keep IMS symptoms at bay, Larrian Gillespie, MD, author of The Gladiator Diet: How to Preserve Peak Health, Sexual Energy, and A Strong Body at Any Age (Healthy Life Publications), recommends a diet that's 40% protein, 35% low-glycemic carbs (read: green veggies) and 25% fat, of which only 10% should be saturated fat. To help keep testosterone levels up, avoid apricots, carrots, white potatoes, white rice (whole wheat past and rise are okay) and-sorry guys-dark beer.
Gillespie also recommends that men take a multivitamin daily along with calcium, magnesium and the herb saw palmetto to inhibit the breakdown of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone a precursor to prostate disease.
Now that you know IMS is real, you can take the bull (or Soay ram) by the horns and do something about it. IMS can be treated through diet, natural hormone replacement therapy and counseling, if necessary.
Question: What do you call a man who is always tired, miserable and irritable?
Wrong answer! That was the old guy. Mr. Nice is back. -Karyn Maier
America's Most Wanted
June 14, 2005 05:23 PM
America's Most Wanted
by Brian Amherst Energy Times, January 6, 2000
The United States eats well, a little too well, according to experts. Amply supplied with a large supply of high-calorie food, our diets might seem to be chock full of every conceivable nutrient. Well, to the question "Getting all the right vitamins, minerals and other nutrients?" the most appropriate answer seems to be "Not exactly." Eating a lot doesn't equal eating a lot of the most important vitamins and minerals. So, which vitamins and minerals are likely to show up in short supply in the typical American diet? Calcium certainly sits at the top of list. According to the most recent Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals, which is conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), women and girls age 12 and up are not consuming adequate calcium from their diet. Research reveals that about 1200 mg. day suffices for those over age 50 and 1000 mg a day should be adequate if you're between the ages of 19 and 50. Since strong bones are formed during "the first three decades of life," says Laura Bachrach, MD, of Since strong bones are formed during "the first three decades of life," says Laura Bachrach, MD, of Stanford University, ". . .osteoporosis is a pediatric disease." For long-range protection against that bone-weakening disease, kids should eat calcium-rich, low-fat dairy products and plenty of leafy greens (broccoli, cabbage, kale) as well as salmon (with bones), seafood and soy. But the calcium campaign does not end in early adulthood. Bone mass begins to deteriorate at about age 30. Menopausal hormonal changes can exacerbate bone brittleness. Medical conditions, including cancer, liver disease and intestinal disorders; prescription drugs; tobacco and alcohol indulgence; or a decline in activity, especially the weight-bearing kind, also jeopardize bone strength. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about one in every two American women will break a bone after age 50 due to osteoporosis. That translates into about half a million fractured vertebrae and more than 300,000 shattered hips. Frequently, those breaks are life-threatening.
The critical role of calcium in many body functions is perhaps the most extensively clinically documented among nutrients. Researchers in the Department of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, reviewed epidemiological and clinical studies conducted over the past two years on the relationship between dietary calcium and blood pressure (J Am Coll Nutr October 1999: 398S-405S). "Nearly 20 years of investigation in this area has culminated in remarkable and compelling agreement in the data," the researchers report, "confirming the need for and benefit of regular consumption of the recommended daily levels of dietary calcium." Investigators at the State University of New York, Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, presented results of their studies of calcium and vitamin C and gum disease at the June 26, 1998 meeting of the International Association for Dental Research. Two separate inquiries revealed that people who consumed too little calcium as young adults, and those with low levels of vitamin C in their diets, appear to have nearly twice the risk of developing periodontal disease later in life than folks with higher dietary levels of either nutrient.
Calcium: Much Documented Researchers offer extensive evidence of calcium's benefits on many fronts: n Osteoporosis poses a threat to older men as well as women, according to Randi L. Wolf, PhD, research associate at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Dr. Wolf presented her award-winning study to an October 3, 1999 meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Dr. Wolf suggests that men increase their consumption of calcium, particularly after age 80, to avoid age-related declines in the amount of calcium absorbed. According to Dr. Wolf, "It appears that the hormonal form of vitamin D, which is the main regulator of intestinal calcium absorption, may have an important role. We are conducting more research to better understand the reasons for why calcium absorption declines with age in men." n Scientists at Tufts University in Boston did some earlier work on the calcium-vitamin D connection and reported it in the September 4, 1997 New England Journal of Medicine. Using the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) increased recommended daily intake of 1200 milligrams of calcium and 400 to 600 international units of vitamin D for people over 50, the Tufts researchers found that with supplementation of the nutrients, men and women 65 and older lost significantly less body bone and, in some cases, gained bone mineral density. n Two studies published in American Heart Association journals show that atherosclerosis and osteoporosis may be linked by a common problem in the way the body uses calcium. The September 1997 Stroke revealed that, in a group of 30 postmenopausal women 67 to 85 years old, bone mineral density declined as atherosclerotic plaque increased. Researchers reporting in Circulation (September 15, 1997) advanced the theory that the osteoporosis-atherosclerosis connection may be related to a problem in handling calcium. n For people who had colon polyps removed, taking calcium supplements decreased the number of new polyps by 24% and cut the risk of recurrence by 19%, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Medicine. The study, published in the January 14, 1999 New England Journal of Medicine, was a first in crediting calcium with anti-cancer properties.
The D Factor
Without adequate vitamin D, your absorption of calcium slips and bone loss can accelerate, increasing the risk for fractures. Fifty percent of women with osteoporosis hospitalized for hip fractures at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston had a previously undetected vitamin D deficiency (Journal of the American Medical Association, April 28, 1999). University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute researchers told participants at the April 14, 1997 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research that vitamin D "significantly inhibits highly metastatic, or widespread, prostate cancer in animals," suggesting its potential for treating men with similar conditions. Few foods that Americans eat, except dairy, contain much vitamin D, but we can usually synthesize sufficient amounts from as few as five minutes' exposure to the sun. But as skin ages, its ability to act as a vitamin D factory decreases. According to Michael F. Holick, the director of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University Medical Center, upwards of 40% of the adult population over age 50 that he sees in his clinic are deficient in vitamin D. Recently, the National Academy of Sciences (the official body that decrees the required amounts of necessary nutrients) increased the daily recommendations of vitamin D to 600 IU for people over 71, 400 IU for those aged 51 to 70 and 200 IU for people under 50. The best dietary sources, apart from dependable supplements, are dairy and fatty fish like salmon. Four ounces of salmon provide about 300 IU.
The Facts About Fats
The American lust for low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets filled with sugary foods has exploded into nothing short of "obsession," according to experts at the General Research Center at Stanford University Medical Center (Am J Clin Nutr 70, 1999: 512S-5S). That mania oftens robs us of the crucial balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids typical of the Mediterranean diet that protect us from heart disease by controlling cholesterol and making blood less likely to form clots. These fatty acids cannot be made by the body but are critical for health: n Omega-3 fatty acid (linolenic acid) comes from fresh, deepwater fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) and vegetable oils such as canola, flaxseed and walnut. n Omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid) found primarily in raw nuts, seeds and legumes and in saturated vegetable oils such as borage, grape seed, primrose, sesame and soybean. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat consumption to 30% of daily calories. Saturated fats like those in dairy and meat products as well as vegetable oil should comprise 10% of total calories; total unsaturated fat (fish oils, soybean, safflower nuts and nut oils) should be restricted to 20 to 22% of daily calories.
Be Sure About B12
Vitamin B12 presents a particular problem for the elderly because older digestive systems often don't secrete enough stomach acid to liberate this nutrient from food. (The elderly have no problem absorbing B12 from supplements, because it's not bound to food.) Vitamins generally moderate the aging process but, ironically, that process and the diseases that frequently accompany it affect vitamin metabolism (Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax 83, 1994: 262-6). And because of those changes, we need more of certain vitamins. This is the case for vitamins D, B6, riboflavin and B12. Crucial for health, B12 is necessary to prevent anemia, and, according to recent studies, needed (along with folate and B6) to help stave off heart disease. B12, with thiamine and niacin, boosts cognition (Adv Nutr Res 7, 1985: 71-100). Screening for vitamin B12 deficiency and thyroid disease is cheap and easy and can prevent conditions such as dementia, depression or irreversible tissue damage (Lakartidningen 94, 1997: 4329-32). In the January 5-12, 1999 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the AHA urged doctors to screen levels of homocysteine (the amino acid byproduct of protein digestion that damages arteries, causes heart disease and, possibly, strokes) in patients at high risk for heart disease. They also recommended all Americans to up their daily levels of vitamins B6 and B12, as well as folic acid. Since fruits, vegetables or grains lack B12, vegetarians need B12 supplements. And they're a good idea for the rest of us, too.
Folic Acid Benefits
Folic acid made headlines in the early 1990s when the U.S. Public Health Service declared that "to reduce the frequency of neural tube defects [spina bifida, or open spine, and anencephaly, a lethal defect of the brain and skull] and their resulting disability, all women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable of becoming pregnant should consume .4 milligrams (400 micrograms) of folic acid per day." This recommendation followed voluminous research that showed taking folic acid was associated with a significantly reduced risk of birth defects. (The advisory is based on the fact that nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned. If you think you are pregnant, consult your health practitioner for supplementary advice.)
A Team Player
Folic acid's efficacy intensifies when it works with other nutrients. Among many studies on the preventive powers of folic acid on birth defects, one published in The New England Journal of Medicine (327, Dec. 24, 1992: 1,832-1,835), disclosed an even greater decrease in neural tube defects when supplements of folic acid contained copper, manganese, zinc and vitamin C. As a warrior against homocysteine, folic acid joins the battalion of B12 and B6 in detoxifying this harmful protein. At the University of Washington's Northwest Prevention Effectiveness Center, researchers recently analyzed 38 published studies of the relationship between folic acid, homocysteine and cardiovascular disease and, according to associate professor Shirley A. Beresford, MD, folic acid and vitamin B12 and B6 deficiencies can lead to a buildup of homocysteine.
Canadian researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (275, 1996: 1893-1896) that men and women with low folic acid have a 69% increase in the risk of fatal coronary heart disease. This 15-year study of more than 5,000 people stressed the need for dietary supplementation of folic acid. Folic acid also has been credited with the potential to protect against cancers of the lungs, colon and cervix. It appears to help reverse cervical dysplasia, the precursor cells to cervical cancer, especially for women taking oral contraceptives, which may cause a localized deficiency of folic acid in the cells of the cervix. According to Shari Lieberman, PhD, and Nancy Bruning, authors of The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (Avery), folic acid derivatives work with neurotransmitters, the chemicals that permit signals to be sent from nerve fiber to nerve fiber. A lack of folic acid can cause some nervous-system disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia and dementia; it also may be related to some forms of mental retardation. Other supporting roles of folic acid, according to researchers: the formation of normal red blood cells, important for preventing the type of anemia characterized by oversized red blood cells; strengthening and improving white blood cell action against disease; limiting production of uric acid, the cause of gout.
The Best Sources
Many foods are rich in folic acid: beef, lamb, pork and chicken liver, spinach, kale and beet greens, asparagus, broccoli, whole wheat and brewer's yeast. But experts believe that only 25 to 50% of the folic acid in food is bioavailable. Processing also reduces an estimated 50 to 90% of its content. Folic acid supplementation overcomes these obstacles with little risk, as it has no known toxicity. Women taking folic acid who are current or former users of oral contraceptives may require additional zinc. And be sure to augment your folic acid supplement with its synergistic counterpart, vitamin B12.
Focus on Fiber
The American Heart Association came out squarely behind fiber in a June 16, 1997 issue of its journal Circulation: Double your daily intake to lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. The American diet is consistently low in fiber, notes Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, author of the article. Twenty-five to 30 grams a day from foods (or supplements) are not only heart healthy but seem to aid weight control.
Getting enough iron? An estimated 25% of adolescent girls in the United States are iron deficient, according to an October 12, 1996 issue of the British medical journal The Lancet, which reported that girls who took iron supplements performed significantly better on verbal tests than those who took a placebo. "Teenage girls should be regularly tested for iron deficiency because rapid growth and the onset of menstruation during puberty increase the body's need for iron," says Ann Bruner, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and a lead author of the study.USDA data reveal that women up to age 50 also tend to get much less than recommended levels of iron, a lack of which leads to anemia, a deficiency of red blood cells, hemoglobin or volume of blood. For kids, deficiency is more common from six months to four years and during the rapid growth spurts of adolescence when the body is growing so quickly that the body's iron stores may sink to dangerous levels. Vegetarian women run the greatest risk for deficiency, as meat is iron-rich; foods like beans, grains and vegetables also contain some iron. Supplements, of course, supply easily absorbable iron. And to absorb iron from vegetarian sources, take vitamin C with your meals. That boosts the amount of this mineral you will take in. Bear in mind, however, that certain folks-older men and post-menopausal women-generally have adequate dietary supplies of iron. Of greater concern, in fact, is excessive iron, and for these folks iron-free multivitamin and mineral supplements are available.
Ante Up the Antioxidants
Antioxidant nutrients help protect the body from oxygen-scavenging molecules called free radicals. The products of pollution, the body's own metabolic processes and other sources, free radicals are linked to heart disease, cancer and other chronic health problems. The most important antioxidants, which include vitamin C, E, beta carotene, and selenium, are often lacking in the American diet. Plus, optimal amounts of vitamin E cannot be consumed from food. You need supplements. The bottom line: even though we live in a land of plenty, you can still miss vital nutrients. So make sure to consume these vital substances.
Source of Missing Nutrients In the search for the nutrients missing from America's diet, one big help is the sprout. The sprout is truly one of nature's heavyweights: fresh, tiny and moist, its power punch of vitamins, minerals, protein, chlorophyll and disease-busting phytochemicals land it in a weight class far beyond that of its full-grown competitors. Size does NOT matter to this nutritional giant. A championship belt currently wraps around the miniscule broccoli sprout, catapulted into the ring by Paul Talalay, MD, professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Talalay discovered that the seedlings contain substantially more of the cancer-fighting substance sulforaphane than mature plants (Proc. Natnl. Acad. Sci. USA, 94, 10367-10372). Sprouts, the quintessential health food of the Sixties, provide a wonderfully varied and versatile way to get your daily greens. Raw or cooked, strong or mild, vegetable and grass sprouts and their algae cousins add low-calorie texture to recipes and a rich, diverse complement of nutrients and fiber.
Ancient Asia to the Modern Lab
Asians stir-fried sprouts as one of the earliest fast foods as long as 5,000 years ago. The ancient Chinese relied on sprouts for year-round vegetables in colder regions of their vast country. Today, researchers studying sprouts and adult plants have identified their important chemoprotective and other health-bolstering substances. In Paul Talalay's research project at Johns Hopkins, scientists found that three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain up to 50 times more sulforaphane than mature plants, which prompts the body to produce an enzyme that prevents cancer tumors from forming. Uniform levels of the compound saturate the shoots, unlike the chemically uneven adult plants. The Brassica family of broccoli and cabbage is richly endowed with phytochemicals that also help reduce estrogen levels associated with breast cancer. Other phytochemical compounds in the Brassica family are associated with the prevention of stomach and lung cancers. Most of the initial landmark work on phytochemicals' cancer-fighting powers has taken place since 1989 under the aegis of the National Cancer Institute's "Designer Food Program," which isolated, for example, the isoflavones in beans that seem to neutralize cancer-gene enzymes.
Strong Suit: Soy and Spirulina
The isoflavones and phytosterols in soy produce an estrogenic effect that appears to relieve menopausal symptoms and help prevent breast cancer. Soy foods expert Mark Messina, PhD, has done extensive work on the subject, some of which has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83, 1991: 541-6. Researchers also have synthesized a bone-strengthening form of soy isoflavones called ipriflavone, following impressive clinical trials in the treatment of osteoporosis (American Journal of Medicine, 95 [Suppl. 5A] (1993): 69S-74S). Spirulina and other micro-algae are fascinating organisms that inhabit a niche between the plant and animals kingdoms. Named for its tiny spirals, spirulina, a blue-green algae, grows in saline lakes but is cultured for maximum nutritional content. In her book Whole Foods Companion (Chelsea Green), Dianne Onstad notes that spirulina contains "the highest sources of protein, beta carotene and nucleic acids of any animal or plant food." Its nucleic acids, she says, benefit cellular regeneration; its fatty acids, especially GLA and omega-3 acids, make it one of the most complete foods. Sprouts, like any other produce, should be rinsed thoroughly before serving. People at high risk for bacterial illness-young children, the very elderly or folks with weakened immune systems-should limit their consumption of raw sprouts. But no matter how you eat them, you may find more spring in your step from these tiny, sprouting nutritional wonders.
Hearty Soy - Soy will cater to your cardiovascular well-being...
June 13, 2005 10:19 AM
Hearty Soy by Joyce Dewon Energy Times, January 5, 2004
It's a diet food, it's a health food. Any way you look at it or eat it, soy's combination of benefits and its versatility as a component of a heart-healthy diet have led to a widespread popularity that continues to grow.
No matter what your taste preference, a soy food is available to satisfy your picky palate and cater to your cardiovascular well-being.
Annual sales of soy in the US continue to grow more than 10% a year, edging toward the $4 billion mark. Today, the average American consumes about 10 mg of soy protein a day, even though the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends taking in at least 25 mg of soy to benefit your heart. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has signaled its approval of the soy bandwagon, allowing claims that daily soy can help lower the risk of cardiovascular complications.
As Good as a Drug
Researchers who have investigated how soy can help lower cholesterol and shrink the risk of heart disease have concluded that soy, in a diet with fruits and vegetables, can be as effective as cholesterol-reducing drugs (JAMA 7/22/03).
Researchers at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital compared the cholesterol-lowering power of soy and other vegetarian foods with that of lovastatin, a standard pharmaceutical used to reduce cholesterol.
In the study, scientists fed people a diet that, along with soy, had large amounts of nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, and high-fiber foods like oats and barley plus margarine made with plant sterols (natural substances derived from leafy greens and vegetable oils). Researcher David Jenkins, PhD, a nutrition science professor, thinks these foods may be good at dropping cholesterol because human evolution makes us well-adapted for an "ape diet," one high in fiber, vegetable protein, nuts and plant sterols.
According to Dr. Jenkins, "As we age, we tend to get raised cholesterol, which in turn increases our risk of heart disease. This study shows that people now have a dietary alternative to drugs to control their cholesterol, at least initially." Dr. Jenkins also thinks that soy and a vegetarian diet can be used to maintain normal cholesterol levels.
Dr. Jenkins' heart-healthy diet, designed to be easily prepared and consumed, includes oat bran bread and cereal, soy drinks, fruit and soy deli slices. For instance, in his study, a typical dinner consisted of tofu baked with eggplant, onions and sweet peppers, pearled barley and vegetables.
Dr. Jenkins adds, "The Food and Drug Administration has approved these cholesterol-lowering foods as having legitimate health claims for heart disease risk reduction. They're also being recommended by the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program as foods that should be incorporated into the diet. And we have now proven that these foods have an almost identical effect on lowering cholesterol as the original cholesterol-reducing drugs."
Dr. Jenkins regrets that health practitioners often give drugs to people with high cholesterol instead of trying to control the problem with soy and other vegetarian foods.
Soy Safety Affirmed
Recently, some doctors have spread the story that soy may increase the risk of cancer because natural chemicals in soy act like estrogens, hormones that may contribute to breast and other cancers. However, research has failed to support this supposition.
As Dr. Jenkins points out, "the concerns have been whether soy estrogen might lead to hormone-dependent breast cancer or abnormal sexual development in children, yet we found no evidence to support this."
In another of Dr. Jenkins' studies, people were put on diets high in soy to see how their estrogen levels were affected. Then, the researchers measured estrogen byproducts in their urine. Since estrogen stimulates breast cancer cells to produce a special protein, the researchers measured the amount of this protein produced by each urine sample to calculate how much estrogen was present.
The total estrogenic activity in the urine of women on soy dropped to lower levels than it had been before they ate soy. "This finding suggests that soy may not have the estrogenic effects that were thought to alleviate menopausal symptoms but it refutes claims about its purported hormone risks," Dr. Jenkins says.
The study also demonstrated that soy can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of oxidized cholesterol, which is thought to stick to coronary artery walls and form dangerous plaques. Dr. Jenkins' other research demonstrates that soy consumption reduces cholesterol in general while also decreasing the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body and maintaining the HDL (good) cholesterol. According to Dr. Jenkins, this confirms that soy should be promoted for its important role in preventing heart disease without fear that it will promote cancer.
In another study in China, researchers compared the dietary habits of more than 350 women with breast cancer to the foods eaten by more than 1,000 women who did not have cancer (Amer Assoc Canc Res Second Annual Intl Conf Fron Can Prev Res 10/27/03, Abst 1274). They found that eating large amounts of soy did not raise the risk of breast cancer.
Of course, anyone can develop allergies to almost any food, soy included. If eating soy causes you discomfort, find another source of healthy protein (see box on whey protein above).
Isoflavones, soy's plant estrogens, are believed to create some of the most significant heart-healthy soy benefits. Consequently, researchers urge those concerned about their cardiovascular health to combine a diet high in soy, fruits and vegetables with exercise for the highest level of heart protection. Cheaper than cholesterol drugs, tastier than many other healthy foods and available in so many forms, soy's popularity will certainly continue to explode. Soy burgers, soy drinks and soy just-about-everything will continue to be a big part of our lives.
Recognizing the Signs: Roadmap to a Healthy Heart
June 13, 2005 10:06 AM
Recognizing the Signs: Roadmap to a Healthy Heart by Louis McKinley Energy Times, January 2, 2004
From time immemorial, people have tuned into life's lessons that come from the heart. Sadly, times are changing: If you're like most inhabitants of today's harried world, you may be too distracted to detect important clues about your cardiovascular circumstances.
And while heart lessons may be more complicated than simply connecting the physiological dots, understanding those heart messages are imperative for improving and maintaining your heart health.
Every cell in your body relies on heart-powered blood flow to keep it supplied with nutrients, oxygen, hormones and other natural chemicals necessary for survival. Without that supply of life-giving substances, few cells in the body-including those within the heart itself-can survive very long.
And just as damage to a major roadway can cause mayhem with traffic patterns, damage to blood vessels and the heart can wreak a lumpy cardiovascular havoc that blocks the passage of blood and endangers your heart's well-being.
Your Heart Disease Chances
Within the last ten years, scientific research performed by investigators around the world has focused on the specific factors that most strongly influence your chances of developing heart disease and suffering either a heart attack or a stroke.
While much of your risk depends on your genetic inheritance and family history, several factors that determine your heart health are within your control.
The most important factors you can do something about include:
* Smoking: free radicals generated by burning tobacco causes significant damage to blood vessels and other cells
* Lack of exercise: the human body is designed for consistent, moderate physical activity; without exercise, the body slacks off in creating antioxidant protection for arteries
* Diabetes: when excess blood sugar persists, physiological processes begin that endanger the heart and arteries
* Cholesterol: when oxidized (a chemical process that has been compared to a kind of internal rusting), cholesterol can form artery-blocking plaque; antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and natural vitamin E may help the body limit this process
* High blood pressure: excessive pressure within the blood vessels raises the risk of damage to the heart and arteries; a program of weight loss and exercise can help control blood pressure
* Being overweight: the extra body fat carried around your middle is linked to a greater risk of heart problems
Heart Attack Signs
Do you think you know what a heart attack feels like? Well, if you think it feels like a dramatic pain somewhere in your chest that knocks you to the floor, you're probably wrong. "Most heart attacks do not look at all like what one of my colleagues calls the 'Hollywood' attack-the heart attack you see on television or in the movies," warns Julie Zerwic, MD, professor of surgical nursing who has studied what happens when people develop heart disease and suffer damage to their hearts.
"The symptoms [of heart problems] are not necessarily dramatic. People don't fall down on the floor. They don't always experience a knife-like, very sharp pain. In fact, many people describe the sensation as heaviness and tightness in the chest rather than pain," she says. And, if you're a woman experiencing a heart attack, you may not even feel discomfort specifically in your chest. Instead you may experience a severe shortness of breath. The apparent ambiguity of the discomforts caused by a heart attack lead many people to either ignore them or take hours to realize they need to go to the emergency room at the hospital.
Consequently, much fewer than half of all individuals undergoing a heart attack actually go to a hospital within an hour of the start of the attack. That delay can be a fatal mistake.
"Timing is absolutely critical," laments Dr. Zerwic. "If treatment starts within a hour after the onset of symptoms, drugs that reestablish blood flow through the blocked coronary artery can reduce mortality by as much as 50%. That number drops to 23% if treatment begins three hours later. The goal is to introduce therapy within two hours."
However, in Dr. Zerwic's research, only 35% of non-Hispanic whites go to the hospital within an hour of the start of a heart attack. And among African-Americans, the number of people going to the hospital right away drops to a frighteningly low 13%.
Often, people will lie down or use a heating pad to relieve the tightness they feel in the chest," says Dr. Zerwic. "They may take some medicine and wait to see if that works. All these steps postpone needed treatment."
Signs of a possible heart attack include:
* Chest discomfort: Heart attacks most frequently cause discomfort in the center of the chest that can either go away after a couple of minutes (and come back) or persist. The discomfort may feel like strong pressure, fullness or pain.
* Upper body discomfort: An attack may set off pain or discomfort in either or both arms, and/or the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
* Shortness of breath: Chest discomfort is frequently accompanied by shortness of breath. But it's important to note that shortness of breath can take place even in the absence of chest discomfort.
* Other signs: You can also break out in a cold sweat, or feel nauseated or light-headed.
A Woman's Sleep Signs
If you are a woman who suddenly experiences a marked increase in insomnia and puzzling, intense fatigue, you may be in danger of an imminent heart attack.
In an attempt to understand how women's symptoms of heart problems differ from those of men, researchers talked to more than 500 women in Arkansas, North Carolina and Ohio who had suffered heart attacks. (Technically, what they had experienced is referred to as acute myocardial infarction.)
They found that chest pain prior to a heart attack was only reported by about 30% of the women surveyed.
More common were unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances and shortness of breath (Circulation Rapid Access, 11/3/01).
"Since women reported experiencing early warning signs more than a month prior to the heart attack, this [fatigue and sleep problems] could allow time to treat these symptoms and to possibly delay or prevent the heart attack," says researcher Jean C. McSweeney, PhD, RN, nursing professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. In Dr. McSweeney's study, more than nine out of ten women who had heart attacks reported that they had had new, disturbing physical problems more than a month before they had infarctions.
Almost three in four suffered from unusual fatigue, about half had sleep disturbances, while two in five found themselves short of breath.
Other common signs included indigestion and anxiety.
"Women need to be educated that the appearance of new symptoms may be associated with heart disease and that they need to seek medical care to determine the cause of the symptoms, especially if they have known cardiovascular risks such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, overweight or a family history of heart diseases," says Dr. McSweeney.
Dr. McSweeney warns that, until now, little has been known about signs that women are having heart trouble or heart attacks. The fact that most of Western medicine's past attention has been on heart problems in men has obscured the warning signs in women. As part of Dr. McSweeney's studies, she and her fellow researchers have discovered that more than 40% of all women who suffer a heart attack never feel any chest discomfort before or during the attack.
"Lack of significant chest pain may be a major reason why women have more unrecognized heart attacks than men or are mistakenly diagnosed and discharged from emergency departments," she notes. "Many clinicians still consider chest pain as the primary symptom of a heart attack."
Vitamins for Diabetes and Heart Disease
Having diabetes significantly raises your chance of heart disease, which means that keeping your blood sugar levels under control can reduce your chances of suffering a heart attack.
Today, 17 million Americans have diabetes and, as the country's population in general gains weight and fails to exercise, the number of people suffering this problem continues to grow.
The first line of defense against diabetes consists of exercise and weight control. All you have to do is take a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day to drop your chances of diabetes (American Journal of Epidemiology 10/1/03).
"We have found that men and women who incorporate activity into their lifestyles are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who are sedentary. This finding holds no matter what their initial weight," said Andrea Kriska, PhD, professor of epidemiology at University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
To help your body fight the development of diabetes, researchers also recommend vitamin C and natural vitamin E.
Researchers working with lab animals at the University of California at Irvine have found that these antioxidant vitamins can help insulin (the hormone-like substance secreted by the pancreas) reduce harmful blood sugar. In addition, these vitamins shrink the chances of organ damage that can be caused by diabetes (Kidney International 1/03).
In this investigation, these vitamins also helped reduce blood pressure, another risk factor that raises heart disease risk.
"Blood pressure was lowered to normal, and free radicals were not in sufficient numbers to degrade the sugars, proteins and nitric oxide," notes Nick Vaziri, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California. "We think this shows that a diet rich in antioxidants may help diabetics prevent the devastating cardiovascular, kidney, neurological and other damage that are common complications of diabetes."
Free Radical Blues
Dr. Vaziri and his group of researchers found that untreated diabetes raised blood pressure and increased the production of free radicals, caustic molecules that can damage arteries and the heart. Free radicals can change blood sugar and other proteins into harmful substances, boosting tissue and heart destruction.
In Dr. Vaziri's work with lab animals, he found that treating diabetes with insulin lowered blood pressure and helped keep sugar and protein from changing into dangerous chemicals, but allowed the free radicals to subvert nitric oxide, a chemical the body uses to protect itself from free radicals.
In this investigation, adding vitamins C and E to insulin insulated the body's sugars, proteins and nitric oxide from oxidative assault. This produces a double advantage: Lowering the risk of heart disease and other damage to the body from diabetes.
Maitake, an Oriental mushroom that has been shown to have many health benefits, can also be useful for people with diabetes who are trying to avoid cardiovascular complications. Laboratory studies in Japan demonstrate that maitake may help lower blood pressure while reducing cholesterol (Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 1997; 20(7):781-5). In producing these effects, the mushroom may also help the body reduce blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of tissue damage.
Tobacco smoke is one of the most notorious causes of heart problems. In the same way a hard frost exerts a death grip on a highway, the smoke from cigarettes can freeze up arteries and hamper their proper function. A healthy artery must stay flexible to comfortably allow adequate circulation.
But "...when blood vessels are exposed to cigarette smoke it causes the vessels to behave like a rigid pipe rather than a flexible tube, thus the vessels can't dilate in response to increased blood flow," says David J. Bouchier-Hayes, MD, professor of surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who has studied the deleterious effects of tobacco.
This rigidity is called endothelial dysfunction. When arteries are rigid, blockages gum up vessels, clots and other impediments to blood flow appear, and your risk of heart attack and stroke increases (Circulation 2001 Nov 27; 104(22):2673).
This condition can also cause chest pain (angina) similar to that caused by a heart attack, and should be evaluated by a knowledgeable health practitioner.
Although all experts recommend you stop smoking to lower your heart disease risk, some studies have found that Pycnogenol(r), a pine bark extract that helps the body fight inflammation, may ease some of smoking's ill effects.
In a study of platelets, special cells in the blood that can form dangerous blood clots, researchers found that Pycnogenol(r) discouraged platelets from sticking together (American Society for Biochemical and Molecular Biology 5/19/98). By keeping platelets flowing freely, this supplement may alleviate some of the heart-threatening clots that tobacco smoke can cause.
In Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional therapy from India, an herb called guggul has also been used to lower the risk of blockages in arteries. This herb, derived from the resin of the mukul tree, has been shown to reduce cholesterol by about 25%. People taking this herb have also reduced their triglycerides (harmful blood fats) by the same amount (Journal Postgraduate Medicine 1991 37(3):132).
The Female Version of Heart Disease
For one thing, women often don't suffer from the crushing chest pain that for most people characterizes a heart attack; instead, many women experience back pain, sweating, extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, anxiety or indigestion, signs that can be easily misread as digestive troubles, menopausal symptoms or indicators of aging.
The genders also differ in how heart disease poses a threat. While men seem most endangered by the buildup of blockages in arteries, women apparently are more at risk from endothelial dysfunction. But more study needs to be done since, in many cases, researchers have been unable to pin down the precise mechanism that causes many women to die of heart disease.
Scientists have found that the number of women in their 30s and 40s who are dying from sudden cardiac arrest is growing much faster than the number of men of the same age who die of this cause. But research by the Oregon Health & Sciences University and Jesse E. Edwards Cardiovascular Registry in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows that while doctors can pinpoint the coronary blockages that kill men, they can't find specific blockages in half of the female fatalities they have studied (American Heart Journal 10/03).
"This was an unexpected finding. However, the study underscores the need to focus on what is causing these younger women to die unexpectedly because the number of deaths continues to increase," says Sumeet Chugh, MD, a medical professor at Oregon.
Since the failure of arteries to relax probably contributes to heart disease in many women, eating red berries, or consuming supplements from berries such as chokeberry, bilberry or elderberry, may be important in lowering women's heart disease risk. These fruits help arteries expand and allow blood to flow freely.
Red berries are rich sources of flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocynanins. The anthocyanins are strong antioxidants that give the berries their color. Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine have found that these chemicals can interact with nitrous oxide, a chemical produced by the body, to relax blood vessels (Experimental Biology conference 5/20/02).
As researchers work to devise lifestyle roadmaps that can steer you around the perils of heart disease, they are finding that exercise is a key path to avoiding cardiovascular complications.
A 17-year study of about 10,000 Americans found that those who exercised and kept their weight down (or took weight off and kept it off) experienced a significantly lower risk of heart problems (Preventive Medicine 11/03).
"The fact is that those who both exercised more and ate more nevertheless had low cardiovascular mortality," says Jing Fang, MD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. Burning calories in physical activity may be the secret to reducing heart disease risk and living longer, she says.
Dr. Fang's research used information collected from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 1975 and then computed how much people exercised, how their body mass indices varied and which of these folks died of heart disease during the next two decades.
In the study, more than 1,500 people died of heart disease. Those who worked out and consumed more calories cut their risk of heart disease death in half.
Exercise Is Essential
"Subjects with the lowest caloric intake, least physical activity, and who were overweight or obese had significantly higher cardiovascular mortality rates than those with high caloric intake, most physical activity, and normal weight," Dr. Fang notes. The individuals in the study who were overweight and didn't exercise had a bigger risk of heart disease even if they tried (and succeeded) at eating less.
"This suggests that heart disease outcome was not determined by a single factor, but rather by a compound of behavioral, socioeconomic, genetic and clinical characteristics," according to Dr. Fang.
According to researchers, if your job requires a great deal of physical activity, your health will be better if you get another job. Exercise on the job not only doesn't decrease your risk of heart disease, it may actually raise it. The reason: On-the-job activity is linked to heart-endangering increases in job stress.
Research into this subject, performed at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, found that while recreational exercise slowed hardening of the arteries, workers who had to exert themselves during the workday had arteries that were blocked at a younger age (American Journal of Medicine 7/03).
In this study, researchers examined about 500 middle-aged employees as part of what is called the Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study.
"We found that atherosclerosis progressed significantly faster in people with greater stress, and people who were under more stress also were the ones who exercised more in their jobs," says James Dwyer, PhD, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School. According to Dr. Dwyer, "This suggests that the apparent harmful effect of physical activity at work on atherosclerosis-and heart disease risk-may be due to the tendency of high-activity jobs to be more stressful in modern workplaces.
"It appears from our findings that the psychological stresses associated with physically active jobs overcomes any biological benefit of the activity itself."
On the other hand, the scientists found that heart disease drops dramatically among those who exercise the most in their spare time. In the study, people who vigorously worked out at least three times a week had the lowest risk. But even those who just took walks enjoyed better heart health than people whose most strenuous activity was working the TV remote. Dr. Dwyer says, "These results are important because they demonstrate the very substantial and almost immediate-within one or two years-cardiovascular benefit of greater physical activity."
Lowering your risk of heart disease is substantially up to you. Listen to what your heart tells you it needs; then, exercise your right to fetch some cardiovascular necessities.