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How sleep habits affect weight goals: Survey reveals the ideal sleep schedule for shedding pounds
August 04, 2018 09:53 AM
A study of 1000 Brits found that people who get less than seven hours of sleep in an average night have noticeably more erratic eating patterns than their better-rested compatriots. People who got less than seven hours of sleep were more likely to break their diets, snack between meals and drink more alcohol. By contrast, people with consistently good sleep patterns found it easier to lose weight by dieting and had more regular, routine eating schedules. Scientists generally recommend going to bed around 10 PM to maximize your restorative REM sleep.
"Millions of adults are missing out on sleep, which leads to unhealthy lifestyle habits – such as excessive eating – in turn leading to a plethora of adverse health effects."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-08-02-how-sleep-habits-affect-weight-goals.html
Kumquat: The Antioxidant-Rich Fruit that Boosts Immunity & Support Digestion
July 11, 2018 09:54 AM
The kumquat may be tiny but it is full of many important nutrients. By eating it, you can inject your body with a terrific source of fiber and vitamin C. From the orange family, kumquats offer a slightly sweet but sour flavor. It is packed with many beneficial ingredients like antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins. In addition, the fruit can help a person with the shedding of weight and better digestive health and immunity. It can also lower your risk of getting cancer.
"Rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, the kumquat may help increase weight loss, enhance immunity and promote digestive health."
Read more: https://draxe.com/kumquat/
Hair Growth Vitamins - Are you going bald?
October 29, 2016 11:29 PM
There are many reasons why someone may be going bald ranging from stress to shortage of proper nutrition. Vitamins that help the hair grow is vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, Biotin, Inositol and Niacin among a few others. They contain protein and minerals to provide proper nourishment for the hair. Rubbing the scalp will help to stimulate and bring blood circulation to the follicles.
"There are a few prospects of unhealthy hair: brittleness, shedding, splitting, dryness or unnecessary oiliness, early graying, dandruff and so on. There can be several reasons for any of these issues, ranging from shortage of proper nourishment in the diet to stress to vitamin deficiency to menstrual issues to external weather conditions to emotional disturbances to extended or grim illness."
Probiotics for Oral Health
Bacteria usually makes people think of organisms that cause disease. The truth is that there are countless types of bacteria and while some of them do cause disease, there are millions of bacteria that are beneficial to the body. For optimum health, the body should consist of about 85% healthy bacteria.
These healthy bacteria help with;
Sourcing Healthy Bacteria
The information that the human body is dependent on good bacteria for healthy functionality only recently came out and with it came a plethora of food products designed to promote the growth of healthy bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.
Food that are good for the production of healthy bacteria in the body are called probiotics. Fermented foods such as yogurt, miso and sauerkraut are great probiotics however these food have to be unpasteurized as the pasteurization process kills all of the bacteria in food, both good and bad.
While most bacteria is present inside people's guts, there are some that occur both in the intestinal tract and the mouth. Streptococcus salivarius is a major member of the microbes that make up the healthy bacteria inside of a person's mouth.
The Colonization of S. Salivarius in the Mouth
Oral Streptococci are one of the first bacteria to colonize the mouths of newborn humans. For bacteria to colonize the mouth, it must first avoid the body's natural defenses against colonization from foreign microbes and resist the forces of saliva. To resist these forces, streptococci have developed adhesives that interact with the exposed areas of the mouth to keep them securely fastened to the area that they wish to colonize.
There are two main types of surfaces in the mouth. These are the hard and non-shedding surfaces of the teeth, and soft tissues whose surfaces have cells that are constantly being replaced such as the tongue and cheeks. S. mutans and S. Sangunins have tropisms that enable them to stick to the surfaces of the teeth while S. Salivarius has adapted tropisms that enable it to adhere onto the soft tissues.
All of these areas of the mouth are constantly coated with saliva. Saliva provides a variety of molecules that are ideal for streptococcal bacteria to interact with and adhere to. The thin films of saliva within the mouth vary in thickness and chemical composition at different points. Therefore different locations in the mouth consist of saliva that has more or less favorable receptors to the adherance properties of streptococci. For example, streptococci located on chips in teeth exhibit varied properties in their ability to bind to salivary proteins in those locations.
Streptococcus and Healthy Mouths
Streptococci's process of colonization makes it difficult for pathogenic bacteria to stick to the host. With the emergence of the knowledge that bacteria in the mouth promotes health, new strains of S. Salivarius such as K12 and K18 have been developed to help fight oral health problems that people deal with every day. These probiotics are designed as mouth washes that a person gargles for direct application. Once there, these probiotics create bacteriocin-like inhibitory substances called Salivaricin A and Salivaricin B that have the ability to fight infection.
Maladies Treated by S. Salivarius
Tonsil Stones: Tonsil stones are produced by the unchecked accumulation of bacteria that produce sulfur. The debris created by this bacteria then accumulates in the tonsils. Oral probiotics break down these unwanted globs.
Bad Breath: When the body sleeps the brain sends signals to the mouth to reduce its production of saliva. The reduction of saliva turns the mouth into an environment that is more favorable to the growth of bacteria that thrives in dry and anaerobic conditions. The proteins produced by S. Salivarius K12 inhibit the growth of this bad-breathe causing bacteria.
Ear infections: The misinformed believe that ear infections start from outside the ear. The truth is that they are caused by bacteria that originates inside the throat and then travels up to the ear canal through the Eustachian tube. Beneficial bacteria such as that found in probiotics prevent this from happening by forming a protective bio-film in the throat that prevents harmful bacteria from progressing.
When it was discovered that bacteria is essential for healthy gut activity, the doctor who made the discovery suggested that if a person is suffering from certain maladies of the stomach or gut or whose healthy gut bacteria has been eviscerated by steroids or antibiotics, said person can get a transplant of bacteria from a healthy donor.
This idea was also applied to a man who came into his doctor complaining of an ear infection. The doctor simply took a sample of ear wax from the person's healthy ear, transferred it into the infected ear and the infection passed.
Does Garcinia Help With Weight Loss?
Garcinia cambogia, a tropical fruit obtained from a herb called Malabar tamarind, has for a long time been used as a weight loss supplement. Garcinia cambogia is found to grow naturally in South East Asia and some parts of Indonesia. Traditionally, this herb was used as food flavor by traditional communities in India. The fact that this supplement is obtained naturally implies that it has minimal side effects when used for weight loss by an individual.
How does Garcinia cambogia works?
The critical component that gives Garcinia cambogia its weight loss property is called hydroxycitric acid or simply HCA. Garcinia cambogia works through;
What determines the success of Garcinia cambogia in any weight loss program is the concentration of HCA. The recommended HCA concentration that you should buy is 60%. Moreover, it is also imperative to consider shopping for the Garcinia cambogia products that are certified and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This is to ensure that what you are shopping is safe and suitable for all your individual weight loss needs.
Various Health Benefits of Acai Berry-The Wonder Fruit
February 12, 2012 07:32 PM
Acai berry is a highly nutritious fruit that grows in Amazon valley situated in the rain forests of the Northern Brazil. Being very small in size, it grows on palm trees that are known as Euterpe Oleracea. Acai berry is rich in fatty acids, amino acids, fibers, anti-oxidants, minerals and various vitamins. The fruit itself is very delicious tastes like chocolate candy.
As acai berry is so rich in antioxidants, it provides sufficient nutrition for fighting off all the harmful effects of free radicals, decreases high cholesterol levels, lowers high blood pressure and helps in reliving the joint pain. Aside from being a great source of energy, it helps body in fighting off infections by strengthening the immune system. Today acai berry is regarded as a top super food.
Acai berry also contains large amounts of trace minerals, and phytonutrients. Its ORAC score (a measure of antioxidant levels) is much higher than any other vegetable or fruits tested on gram for gram basis. Its high fiber and protein content helps in boosting the body's immune system.
Various Health Benefits of Acai berry
1. Weight Loss-Acai berry helps in increasing the body metabolism rate within few days thereby helping you in shedding those extra pounds.
2. Regular intake of Acai berry fruit helps all those who suffer due to lack of sleep. Its amazing nutrients help in inducing sleep in the people.
3. Acai berry helps in removing harmful toxins from the body. 4. It minimizes the inflammation of stomach and liver to a great extent and assists in oxidation.
5. It helps all those who are suffering from depression and strengthens the cardiovascular system. It also regulates the nervous system in the body leading to better functioning by various body organs.
6. It provides relief to all those who are suffering from acute arthritis pain.
7. Speeds up recovery process in case of injuries.
8. Controls diabetes and stabilizes blood sugar level.
9. Sharpens eyesight and improves the functioning of digestive system.
10. Antiviral properties- Acai berry is rich in Anthocyanins (compounds found in red wine) which have good antiviral properties and boost your immune system which help you in fighting off diseases and illnesses.
11. Antiallergenic properties- Due to the presence of Antocyanins, the Acai berry has excellent antiallergenic properties.
12. Good fiber content- Fiber contents helps in cleansing your body by flushing out toxins. It also make you feel full with less food. Acai berries have 4 grams of fiber for every 100 grams of serving.
13. Lowers bad cholesterol-Acai berries are rich in Omega-9 and Omega-6 fatty acids that lowers LDL cholesterol which hardens arteries leading to heart disease.
Best Colon Cleansing Agent
Acai berry is a good colon-cleansing agent and also helps in detoxifying the body in a natural way. It acts swiftly on the midriff region, and enhances the weight loss in your tummy area.
You can get Acai berry in various forms such as pills, snack bars, powder and fruit juices. Many world class companies offer their Acai berry products to world wide customers. You can even get freeze dried Acai berries as they have the highest concentration of nutrients in them.
How Does Omega-3/6/9 Help My Cat And Dogs Hair Health?
September 23, 2011 12:50 PM
A man's best friend as we all know them, and yes, I do mean both dogs and cats, I know we would commonly refer to dogs when it comes to that saying but I can make an argument about cats being a man's best friend too. Although I won't get into details about that in this article, no room for that argument for the moment. Rather we are going to talk more about their health or Hair Health to be exact. We've all had that experience right? An owner of any of the two pets, may it be a new sofa, a new car or maybe a new bed, will experience hairs everywhere. Well one way to improve that situation and I'm not saying that it will cure it completely is to focus more on how to help enhance your pet's hair health.
How many times have you heard someone referring to a dog as a sick one due to poor fur conditions? A lot probably, because it is true, the fur is most definitely one of the ways to tell whether a pooch is healthy. I understand, you might be saying that hair loss among dogs is usual and in fact, they do have seasonal shedding. And I am not disputing that fact, like I said earlier we will not be able to stop shedding entirely because of that very reason, it is part of a dog's biological process. However, it does not mean we could not lessen it especially when it is not part of their seasonal shedding. But before we get there let's talk about the other half of this match made in heaven.
A little fur ball here and there, who hasn't seen that? Cats do shed hair and they do it all throughout the year. The amount of shedding is determined by a couple of things, its health, its nutrition and in some cases where it lives. Its environment does play a factor, like the weather or whether it is an outdoor cat or an indoor cat. But we can influence a couple of those possible reasons for shedding.
Omega 3/6/9 and Hair Health
These omega fatty acids are one things that could help us with the hair shedding challenges that our adorable pets give us. Aside from usual regimens of brushing and other tips to improve hair health, supplementation of these omega fatty acids could be of great help to you. Here are some of the reasons why.
Omega 3 has Alpha Linolenic Acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These substances are essential in the optimum functioning of our pet's central nervous system and aids in the protection of skin from diseases.
Omega 6 also contains linolenic acid and arachidonic acid, and has anti - inflammatory properties and helps promote healthier skin, hair and nails.
Omega 9, also known as oleic acid is a precursor of the other essential fatty acids which is the primary reason for its importance.
Acne Treatment of Different Skin Types
September 20, 2011 11:30 AM
Not everyone has the same skin type, and if you have acne, then the treatment could be dependent on your skin type. Before discussing the different acne treatments available, therefore, it will be necessary to discuss the various skin types.
Skin types are graded in a number of ways, anything from 3 types to several. Here we shall discuss more than the normal three (oily, dry and normal) but instead look at seven.
1. Normal Skin
Normal skin looks evenly colored and textured, firm and smooth without larger pores. People with normal skin probably had mild acne when at high school, but cleared up fairly quickly during the teenage years without specialized treatment or scarring. Acne in this type of skin normally requires only mild topical treatment and a mild antibiotic face wash to keep the pores clean of dead skin cells.
Treatments designed to reduce sebum production could result in dry skin susceptible to environmental damage. What must be kept in mind is that the prime cause of acne is excessive production of skin oil, correctly known as sebum, becoming mixed with shed skin cells within the sebaceous pores and plugging them. When this plug gets infected with bacteria, the immune system leaps into action to produce puss through leucocytes attacking the bacteria, and inflammation designed to create temperature conditions alien to bacteria.
If you use treatments formulated to reduce sebum production in oily skin, then you might lose the natural skin oil needed to keep your skin waterproof and resistant to the pollution and chemical agents that can cause dermatitis.
2. Dry Skin
If you got through adolescence with few or no skin problems, and you have dry hair and your skin feels dry after washing, then you have dry skin. It is even more important with dry skin that you do not use sebum-reducing treatments, if you even get acne at all. Only the mildest acne treatments should be used if you have dry skin, thought is unlikely that you will get anything other the very mildest case if you really have dry skin.
Your skin can dry through age, so to be of a dry skin type, you should have suffered, or be suffering, these problems while you are 35 years old or under. After that age your skin tends to dry out naturally.
3. Oily Skin
This completes the trilogy of the classic skin types. Oily skin is associated with acne, and if your hair is oily, you tend to tan very easily rather than go red in the sun, and if oily make-ups, such as some foundations, tend to last only a short time, then you likely have oily skin.
You will also have suffered from acne as a teenager, and your skin will have a particular 'look'. It will often appear shiny, and will also seem to have a coarse texture with larger pores than most others seem to have. You will tend to get a lot of blackheads, not only as a teenager.
Oily skin is classically associated with acne, and it is for those with that skin type that classic treatments will be prescribed, such as antibiotics and Accutane.
Apart from these three skin types, there are others that have been defined involving a combination of these and also age.
Sensitive skin is associated with broken blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin, and such skin types should be treated very carefully. If creams or lotions are applied to sensitive skin they should be rubbed in very gently as it could cause bruising.
Sensitive skin is no more susceptible to acne than most other skin types although significantly less so than oily skin. For that reason, treatments for sensitive skin should be similar to that for dry skin or in most cases normal skin.
Combination skin has an oily zone across the forehead, and down the nose and chin, the other areas of the face being normal or dry. Such skin can also be oily along the jaw line and normal to dry everywhere else. In such cases aggressive acne treatment might be necessary in the oily zones, and more mild treatments used in the areas which are normal.
There are three other classes or skin type based upon age or condition, one being mature skin and other ailing skin and the final type, surprise, surprise, being known as acne skin. Ailing skin is caused by skin conditions other than acne, and you should get the advice of a dermatologist if you believe you have this type of skin. Mature skin on the other hand is natural and occurs with age: the skin becomes slack and loose due to a slowing down of cell growth which causes the skin to lose elasticity. There is no cure for this type of skin other than cosmetic surgery, and it is rarely affected by acne.
Acne skin is normally oily and associated with blackheads, pimples and spots. It is not normally applied to serious acne conditions, being mostly associated with skin which is generally 'spotty', as opposed to mostly clear. It is debatable whether acne skin is any different from oily skin which also tends to be covered with spots and pimples, and the treatments for acne skin are no different to those for oily skin: these are Accutane, antibiotics and topical treatments such as face washes and scrubs.
If you have acne skin you must be careful about the type of cosmetics and face cleansers you use, since either could aggravate your condition. This is not restricted only to those with oily skins of course, since everyone should be aware of the effect of cosmetics and face cleansers on their skin but it is more significant with those who suffer from acne. Cosmetics cannot cause acne, but they can help to aggravate infections which have already occurred.
Although most focus is placed on those with oily skins which are more susceptible to acne, people with any type of skin should consider carefully the types of cosmetic and cleansers which they use. Contrary to what you may have heard or read, acne has nothing to do with your diet - eating fatty foods or chocolates do not cause acne, which is caused only through production of excess sebum, or skin oil, by the sebaceous glands.
Irrespective of your skin type your physician will determine the best treatment that is appropriate for your particular case of acne. This may be different for individuals and may or may not change according to skin type. Antiseptic face washes or scrubs may be appropriate for some acne cases, Accutane might be the best treatment for others, while a course of internal antibiotics such as tetracyclines may be deemed appropriate for yet other cases.
Treating acne has three distinct phases:
1. Removal of the blackheads and lesions. The removal of lesions can also involve a degree of scar removal, although that is another topic. Black heads, whiteheads and other papules can be treated by the use of facial cleansers and scrubs. They should not be squeezed since the puss inside them could be forced deeper into the skin and so lead to a more generalized infection.
2. Treatment of the bacterial infection. The typical symptoms of acne, the papules, whiteheads and blackheads, are caused by bacterial infection of the plug of sebum and dead skin cells within the sebaceous follicles. The general treatment for such infections is antibiotics, both topically and internally. Tetracycline has already been mentioned as a common internal antibiotic, and several forms of antibiotics are used in facial scrubs of which peroxides and benzoates may perhaps be rather severe for dry and sensitive skins.
3. The third phase is treatment of the causes of excessive sebum production. This is generally not entirely treatable since it is predominantly due to excessive hormonal activity at certain times of your life such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. However, your physician may offer treatments such as the contraceptive pill which should be used with care.
Other treatments include agents that aid desquamation, so preventing the irregular shedding of skin cells that lead to the mixture of sebum and dead skin cells that form the plug that is so easily affected by bacterial infection.
Together these three stages of acne treatment can, if not prevent the condition, certainly reduce its extent and have less of an effect on your skin, particularly if you are the off the oily skin type. Doctors will take your skin type into consideration when determining the best acne treatment for you, although all generally this will only be with respect to topical treatments: treatments that are applied to the surface of your skin.
There are also a number of herbal treatments which are used in the treatment of various stages of acne, and many sufferers find these equally as effective as the more traditional forms of topical applications as prescribed by physicians. However given that the treatment you use is safe according to your physician, any that works for you is the acne treatment that you should likely use, irrespective of your skin type.
Your Diet May Be What's Causing Your Acne
September 19, 2011 06:05 PM
Although dieticians and physicians maintain that diet does not cause acne, this is not strictly true. Even dermatologists argue the point, but while it is generally agreed that eating fatty foods or excessive quantities of chocolate will not in itself lead to acne, there are certain valid arguments that diet has a role to play. Recent research has shed new light on dietary factors that can help to promote acne symptoms, if not being the sole cause of them.
Before discussing that, it is important to understand why acne gives rise to the symptoms that it does: lesions in the form of whiteheads and blackheads, pustules and cysts. While not necessary to discuss the biochemical details, the part that your diet has to play will not be understood without considering the effect of hormones on acne.
The reason that teenagers in particular appear to be more prone to acne is that an increased production of hormones has an effect on the condition that causes the symptoms of acne. Fundamentally, acne is characterized by the infection and inflammation of a mass of oil and dead skin cells within the pores of the skin, particularly on the face, neck, chest buttocks and back. If we discuss each of these elements first, and how they are created, then the relationship between diet and acne will become clear.
At a certain time in their lives, people experience a spurt of growth and develop sexually. This is initiated by the secretion of hormones, particularly of male sex hormones collectively known as androgens, and by various hormonal 'Growth Factors'. This stage of human development is known as puberty, although there is also an increase in androgen secretion by the adrenal glands just before menstruation and during pregnancy and menopause. Androgens such as testosterone are reserved not only for the male of the species!
An effect of androgens is to increase the rate of secretion of sebum from the sebaceous glands in the skin. The reason for this is unknown, though it has been hypothesized that its purpose is to waterproof the additional hair that is grown on the body at this time. Another suggested reason is as an olfactory warning to others to deter from sexual activity, in teenagers until their sexual development is complete, and in pre-menstrual, pregnant and menopausal women for obvious reasons. There is no substantial proof for any of these hypotheses, though the latter appears to make more sense than the former.
Irrespective of this, androgens also interfere with desquamation, and the dead skin cells within the pores tend to fall off irregularly and in clumps. This mix of dead skin cells and excess sebum clogs up the pores of the sebaceous follicles. Once this plug becomes infected with bacteria, the immune system is activated, inflammation occurs, and leukocyte action leads to pus formation. That is what is known as acne.
In order to determine how diet and acne are connected, it would be necessary to determine what components of our diet can either stimulate sebum production, or stimulate androgen secretion. If no such link could be found, then it would be fair to descry any connection between acne and the food you eat. However, there is a connection, and it is a positive one.
In addition to their main function, insulin and a hormone known as IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 that helps promote growth in children) promote the secretion of testosterone, a male hormone or androgen. Knowing, as we now do, that androgens promote the secretion of sebum, then anything that increases the levels of insulin or IGF-1 within the body will also lead to sebum production and hence to acne. What that infers is that any foodstuffs that increase the insulin levels in the blood can also lead to acne.
This inference is supported in many ways. For example, it has been found that while drinking milk promotes a greater risk of acne, eating yoghurt does not. Why is this? It is known that milk can increase insulin levels because of its high sugar content. The effect of bacterial activity to produce yoghurt reduces the amount of sugars in the milk it is made from because the bacteria live on the lactose. The same argument applies to cheese, which promotes lower insulin levels than milk, if not as low as yoghurt.
This being the case, then a diet low in sugars and carbohydrates should reduce the incidence of acne generally. Recent research has indicated that a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar increases both IGF-1 and insulin levels in the blood. This then creates a surge in male hormones which in turn leads to excessive sebum secretion and intermittent shedding of skin cells and so on to the growth of bacteria and acne. It is a logical progression, supported both by theory and by observation.
So how should a person with a propensity for acne change their diet? Switch to fruits, vegetables and grains. Non-fatty meats are also acceptable, and .lots of fish and other seafood. Studies have concluded that diets rich in seafood lead to very low acne rates. The Japanese and coastal Chinese suffer very little acne in comparison with those taking a Western diet, particularly an American diet.
One of the reasons for this is that omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce both inflammation and sebum production. The same is true of green tea that contains antioxidants that reduce the blood levels of dihydotetosterone and hence of sebum secretion by the sebaceous glands. We could go on, and list supplement after supplement that contain antioxidants and other substances that can reduce the production of sebum and hence of the symptoms of acne.
Vegetable oils, on the other hand, with their high omega-6 fatty acid content, can drive up sebum production and the activity of the immune system and the inflammatory response. There are few doubts left that, while acne is not specifically caused by what you eat, diet can contribute to it and that acne and its severity can be eased by eating a diet low in carbohydrates and other sugar-promoting foods.
How Does L-Lysine Help with Herpes?
February 08, 2011 01:36 PM
L-lysine has been proven effective in the reduction of herpes outbreaks. The viruses that cause herpes simplex successfully multiply at an exponential rate during symptomatic shedding, but their capacity to sustain replication is challenged in the presence of L-lysine, which at very high concentrations has shown to damage progeny of herpes virus. Hence, the severity and duration of outbreaks are curbed.
One of the limiting resources of protein synthesis in human beings and most other vertebrates is the availability of L-lysine in the body. Some of the amino acids implicated in protein synthesis can be manufactured inside the body from their substrates, but this amino acid does not belong to this group. The amounts of L-lysine in our body systems are completely dependent on its presence in our diet, thus dubbed essential amino acid.
Limiting Factor to Growth
L-lysine plays a variety of important roles in the human body, and a shortfall of this amino acid has been reported to limit growth, resulting in malabsorption or even malnutrition. It is a building block of all types of proteins in humans, including the visible mass that makes up a muscular physique. It is central to the absorption of calcium, the production of enzymes, and the regulation of hormones. In addition, it is greatly involved in functions that lead to recovery following physical trauma or surgery.
More importantly, L-lysine is a focal constituent in the manufacture of immunoglobulins, the front-liners against diseases. Immunoglobulins are a class of proteins in the blood that we commonly refer to as antibodies, which neutralize pathogenic microbes invading the cells and tissues of the body. In fact, L-lysine is one of the protein bases in use to monitor the activities of antibodies, detecting abnormalities at the molecular level and paving the way for future developments of drugs with medicinal potential.
Boosting the Body’s Defenses
While L-lysine is important to the overall production of antibodies, it has also been observed that very low levels of this essential amino acid in the body compromises the ability of the immune system to fight off infectious diseases. The incidence of symptomatic herpes in individuals known to consume L-lysine supplements are relatively low than those who don’t. Symptomatic herpes manifest in the form of painful skin lesions called fever blisters, also known as cold sores, around the mouth, but may appear and spread anywhere in the body, such as the eyes, the fingers, and the genitals.
When taken at recommended dosages, L-lysine in itself combats the replication process of herpes virus in the body, not only ending outbreaks promptly but also speeding up the healing process in the area of damaged tissues with very little scarring. Herpes virus has been noted to feed on another amino acid identified as L-arginine, and consumptions of sources of this amino acid like nuts and chocolates have been reported to give rise to symptomatic herpes. This is one of the things taken care of by L-lysine, since it out competes the effects of L-arginine to herpes viruses.
L-lysine is available in capsule, tablet, and powder forms at your local or internet vitamin store. Always choose name brands like Source Naturals to ensure quality and purity of the product you by for better health.
Fight Acne Naturally
May 06, 2009 12:13 PM
Acne treatment therapies focus upon two aspects of acne: its prevention and management, and the removal of its more lasting effects.
Looking at the latter first, acne scars can be unsightly, and there are several methods currently used either to remove them or to hide them. Some of the more radical are surgical, while others involve modifications the surface of the skin by means of techniques akin to sandpapering, and also cosmetic techniques.
However, such therapies are needed only if the condition is permitted to have a significant effect on your skin. There are therapies that can be used to mitigate the condition if not remove it altogether. Before discussing these it will be necessary to consider what causes acne, because without that knowledge there can be no effective treatment.
Acne is cause by blockage of the sebaceous pores in the skin. That blockage is generally caused by a mixture of dead skin cells and skin oil, otherwise known as sebum. Why should this occur with acne sufferers and nobody else, when all of us have the ingredients of acne as normal components of our skin? The answer lies in our hormones.
The reason that acne is most prevalent in teenagers is that the generation of sebum is promoted by our hormones: specifically the male hormones known as androgens that both males and females begin to create in quantity during puberty. These cause the sebaceous pores to enlarge, and sebum to be produced in larger than normal quantities.
The hormones also tend to disrupt the usual desquamation rate, or shedding of dead skin cells. What happens is that the skin cells within the pores begin to shed in clumps, rather than singly, and when mixed with the excess skin oil form a plug that clogs up the pores. This plug of oils and skin cells then gets contaminated with bacteria that in time initiate the immune reaction, resulting in pus being formed through the action of macrophages on the bacteria.
The therapy needed to reduce the incidence of acne, then, can be either proactive or retroactive. Proactively, they can reduce the production of the sebum/skin cell plug. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) as found in Omega-6 oil can block androgen receptors and so decrease the amount of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) produced. The less the amount of DHT, then the less will be the severity of your acne.
Evening primrose oil contains large quantities of GLA, and even applying this topically on your skin will dilute the sebum and reduce the likelihood of sebum and skin cells blocking your pores. This is an extreme simplification of what GLA does, but it does accurately represent the end result of its use. There are also medications you can take to reduce the rate of shedding of your skin cells, so that your pores have less chance of being blocked.
Retroactively, you can apply antibiotics to kill off the bacterial that act on the plug and that initiate the immune response responsible for the lesions. You can also give your skin a good wash with an effective skin cleanser, including a mild antibiotic to enhance the cleansing of the bacterial plug. However, there are alternative treatments, such as the proactive diet control, and the use of vitamins and appropriate herbs to control or even prevent the condition.
When you think of diet, don't think chocolate. Acne is not caused by eating too much chocolate, or even by fatty foods. We have already discussed the causes of acne, and if we can find any components in our diet that can create these conditions, then by eliminating them we should be able to avoid the condition. As a corollary, if we can identify any substances that could prevent androgens from creating excess sebum, or even control the androgens themselves, or that could help the skin cells to shed more evenly, then we could include these in our diet.
In fact such substances do exist. By going deep into the science, we will find that the secretion of testosterone is promoted by a hormone known as IGF-1 and also by insulin. IGF-1 stands for Insulin-like Growth Factor 1, and is important in the growth of children. It also promotes acne! Insulin does the same, and what that infers that anything in the diet that promotes the production of insulin will also promote acne.
What promotes insulin? Sugars and carbohydrates! Therefore, if you eat a diet low in sugars and carbs then you should have less production of sebum, and hence less acne. What this is leading to is that if you have a tendency to get acne; then switch your diet from carbohydrates and sugary foods to vegetables, grains and seafood. The Japanese get very little acne, which supports this theory.
You should also take foods rich in zinc, since a zinc deficiency has been found to lead to acne. Nobody knows why yet, but use the information and either take a zinc supplement or eat zinc rich foods such as shellfish. Strangely, it is a deficiency of zinc that causes an increase in testosterone, not the surplus of zinc provided by eating oysters! These have another effect.
There are also herbal treatments that can be effectively used for acne. Most are topical, and tea tree oil is one the more recent such treatments used to treat acne. Among the chemical constituents of tea tree oil is terpinen-4-ol, with powerful antimicrobial properties. Little wonder then that it is effective in preventing the bacterial infection of the sebaceous gland pores. The oil helps to dry out the skin, again creating conditions alien to bacteria.
You could use tea tree oil by itself, though many people simply mix it with the acne creams they are currently using. That makes them much more effective. Another option goes back to the zinc again, but rather than take it as a supplement, use it topically. Chamomile and lavender are useful in calming skin that has been inflamed both by over-zealous use of skin scrubs and also the immune system's inflammatory response to the infection of the pores.
There are many healthy options to the severe pharmaceutical treatments offered by your physician. These can be used in place of, but preferably as supplements to, the treatment recommended by your doctor. Each of the natural treatments has a sound scientific basis, and if you suffer from acne can be well worth trying.
Boost Beauty with Vitamin Supplements
November 15, 2007 03:55 PM
Vitamin A can help reduce the effects of sun damage and rosacea appearance. Rosacea is a skin condition where enlarged blood vessels make the face red and blotchy. Vitamin A can help the body reduce the production of sebum aiding in acne control. Vitamin A is needed to help the body regulate the growth and shedding of skin cells from the skins surface. Taking your vitamin A on a daily basis is important.
Vitamin B Complex
B vitamins can stimulate wound healing in the body as well as help fight acne breakout. Topical B-5 or pantothenic acid can penetrate and moisturize the skin strengthening and softening the skin preventing the skin from drying out as quick helping it live longer amd look healthier.
Vitamin C has been well documented as an antioxidant and may help health wounds in the body as well. Vitamin C can help reduce the affects of UV light exposure from the sun which reduces wrinkles from sun damage. Vitamin C has been studied to boost collagen production in the skin. Collagen keeps the skin soft and flexible. Because vitamin C neutralizes oxidants in the body, vitamin C can help fight oxidation of the skin from sun damage and help one retain their youthful look.
Zinc can aid in the reduction of scarring and is used as a natural sunscreen most commonly seen at the swimming pool. Vitamin A and Zinc work together to help keep the skin looking younger, and recent studies suggest zinc acts like an anti-inflammatory on the skin when applied topically.
Frequently asked Questions (FAQ)
April 21, 2007 02:48 PM
Q. What are the benefits from drinking George’s Aloe Vera liquid?
A. Aloe has been used for centuries to help promote a healthy digestion and bowel movements. Soothes digestive tract. Evidence through different studies seem to indicate that beneficial properties in the Aloe help in allowing the body to rebuild mucous membranes and promotes over-all good health.
Q. How often should I drink George’s Aloe Vera liquid?
A. For optimum results, we recommend drinking 2 ounces in the morning before breakfast and 2 ounces in the evening before bedtime.
Q. Why do you remove the polysaccharides?
A. The Aloe Vera Barbadensis Miller plant has over 200 beneficial components. Although it is believed mucopolysaccharides have beneficial elements, this molecular chain is very large making it difficult for the body to utilize. The complete mucopolysaccharide chain is also the cause of rapid spoilage and breakdown of the product, which is why most other brands contain unhealthy preservatives. We breakdown the mucopolysaccharide chain extracting the sugars in order to eliminate adding any preservatives and increasing shelf life. We also theorize, through our testing, that the mucopolysaccharides in their full form are not the only “silver bullet” in helping the body heal. Our distillate contains the naturally occurring elements found in mucopolysaccharides in a low molecular weight more easily absorbed by the body.
A. A distillate is a liquid that consists of pure components of a plant in its more basic form. It is unique in that a distillate is comprised of a low molecular weight thereby enabling the body to assimilate its components in the purest form at the cellular level. This occurs both internally, and through the skin’s dermal layers, at a much higher rate than would occur if the plant’s components were introduced in any other manner.
Q. How long should I be drinking George’s Always Active Aloe Vera before seeing any results?
A. Most people begin to see results anywhere from two weeks to one month. Remember, out bodies are continually shedding cells. It is very important to continue using even after you attain the results you are looking for.
Q. Why doesn’t Georges Aloe taste bad?
A. Most Aloe Vera products are slimy and have a very bitter taste. We remove the chemical antagonists such as the aloins and Anthraquinone that are mildly toxic. These antagonists can cause stomach cramping, diarrhea and in some cases vomiting. As a result, our product has no adverse flavor. Unlike other brands, our product is safe for pregnant women, nursing mothers and people at all ages.
Q. Is George’s Aloe Organically grown?
A. Yes! Although we do not seek the organic certification, George’s aloe is continually tested for over 50 different chemicals that may contaminate the plants. To date tests have come back negative for any contamination.
Q. Does distillation just turn it to water?
A. George’s is fractionally distilled, meaning it is broken down into various parts, with the undesirable elements removed. It is then re-assembled. Products such as Jack Daniels & Petroleum are distilled products and would never be confused with water.
Q. Is your product diluted?
A. No. It takes 23 lbs of plant to make one gallon of George’s liquid Aloe. There is no dilution, preservatives or additives.
Q. Can I take to much of George’s Aloe?
A. We have had no ill affects reported from people who have consumed more than the suggested “2 ounces twice daily.”
Bird Flu Vaccine in short supply !!
November 26, 2005 02:23 PM
U.S Unprepared for Bird Flu Pandemic
Vaccine in short supply.
Officials worldwide are preparing for the worst, as bird flu spreads through asia and into Europe, resulting in the death of 140million chickens and ducks. Meanwhile waterfowl travel their migratory paths, shedding virus contaminated feathers, droppings and saliva into the water, air and soil.
Human cases of avian flue have so far been limited to individuals who had direct contact with sick birds. Experts, however, believe the virus could mutate into a form easily transmitted from human to human. The current strain, known as H5N1, is particularly lethal; it has killed 61 people—half of those infected.
A few times each century, flu pandemics sweep the world. One of the worst, the 1918 flu, killed 50 million people; it was also a bird flu, which jumped directly to humans. The grimmest forecast today is a pandemic that could kill millions. And, among developed nations, the united states is one of the least prepared.
After Delay, U.S. Must Wait in Line.
Congress and the President are considering spending billions to buy the drub tamiflu, which has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of bird flu. A few months ago, the manufacturer could have delivered much of this supply; now, orders placed by other countries have exhausted production capacity for the next two years, according to the New York Times. U.S. health agencies have 2 million doses on hand, enough to treat 1% of the population.
A Military Response?
Anticipating a crisis, President Bush asked Congress to consider using the military to enforce a quarantine, and requested a review of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the armed forces from engaging in domestic policing. Critics question the effectiveness of a military response to a health problem, and point out that authorities can already call in the National Guard to deal with civil disorders.
Contagious Disease and the Wellness Revolution.
Concentrations of poverty, especially in Asia; huge, crowded farms and factories; poor hygiene; insufficient public health facilities; companies that refuse to produce unprofitable vaccines—all must be addressed to prevent future pandemics.
Meanwhile, individuals must do all they can to protect themselves. Wash your hands often and keep them away from your eyes and nose. Avoid contact with people who have respiratory illnesses. Clean surfaces used to prepare raw poultry with hot, soapy water, and cook poultry thoroughly. With so many potential assaults on your health, a wise strategy that is at the very core of the wellness revolution is to strengthen your immune system. Get enough sleep, take good daily multiple, and visit your health food store for a wide range of immune-boosting herbs and special nutrients to help you stay well this winter.
Sources: After Delay, U.S. Faces Line of Flu Drug, New York Times, 10/7/05; U.S. Warns of Future Flu Pandemic, Associated press, 10/10/05; Review of the monster at our door: the global threat of avian flue by Mike Davis.
Bird Flu Facts:
Symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, aches, pneumonia.
Virulence of current strain: kills 100% of birds, 50% of humans.
Projected U.S. Pandemic Death toll: ½ million.
More Benefits of Natural Progesterone - PROGESTERONE AND CANCER
July 25, 2005 10:22 PM
More Benefits of Natural Progesterone
PROGESTERONE AND CANCER
The two types of cancer that are hormonally related include breast and uterine cancer due to the fact that the tissue which make up these areas are much more sensitive to hormone levels. It is a well known fact that an excess of estrogen can increase the risk of developing uterine cancer and certain types of estrogen have been linked to the formation of malignant breast tumors.25 Any woman who continually suffers from insufficient progesterone can also increase her chances of developing certain types of cancer. A prolonged lack of progesterone can cause uterine changes which eventually result in the impaired shedding of the uterine lining. When this occurs month after month, endometrial hyperplasia can result, which is the abnormal thickening of the uterine lining. This buildup can lead to the development of uterine cancer. Progesterone can actually reduce the risk of developing uterine cancer which can develop from using estrogen therapy. 26 In addition, for women who have survived uterine cancer and have undergone hysterectomies, natural progesterone can be invaluable.
Because these women are advised to forgo hormonal treatments of any kind, they often suffer with osteoporosis or other symptoms typical of menopause. Taking natural progesterone poses no health risks and can help to prevent or treat these disorders. Concerning this group of women Dr. Lee writes:
These are the women for whom I first began using natural progesterone therapy. Not only did progesterone reverse their osteoporosis and, in many, it corrected their vaginal atrophy, but none, to my knowledge, have ever developed cancer of any sort . . . The evidence is overwhelming that natural progesterone is safe and only estradiol, estrone and the various synthetic estrogens and progestins are to be avoided to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer.27
In the case of breast cancer, studies strongly suggest that this type of malignancy is more likely to occur in premenopausal women who have normal or high estrogen levels and low progesterone levels.28Women over 35 who continue to have periods but no longer ovulate and women who are taking synthetic estrogen without progesterone during and after menopause may find themselves in this higher risk group. One of the most interesting studies on progesterone was conducted at Johns Hopkins University in 1981, where physicians studied 1083 women for between 13 to 33 years in assessing the incidence of breast cancer. They found that those women who had a progesterone deficiency were over 5 times more at risk of developing breast cancer than those women who had adequate progesterone levels.29 Moreover, the study found that women who suffered from a lack of progesterone also had ten times more cancer-related death from all types of malignancies than those who did not.30 These statistics are dramatic, to say the least. Consider the following quote:
. . . the evidence is strong that unopposed estradiol and estrone [two forms of estrogen] are carcinogenic for the breasts, and both progesterone and estri-ol, the two major hormones throughout pregnancy, are protective against breast cancer. One is left to wonder why supplementation with these two beneficial and safe hormones are not the ones used routinely for women whenever hormone supplementation seems indicated . . . both hormones are available and are relatively inexpensive. Why have these two hormones been neglected by contemporary medical practice in favor of synthetic substitutes. 31
Natural Progesterone and PMS
July 25, 2005 10:02 PM
Natural Progesterone and PMS
When a woman’s body experiences an imbalance of progesterone resulting in estrogen dominance, a variety of pre-menstrual symptoms can result. Estrogen dominance can occur when a progesterone deficiency is present. PMS refers to a whole host of symptoms which can vary from woman to woman. Conventional therapies for PMS involves the use of antidepressants, diuretics, counseling, nutritional regimens and synthetic hormones. Interestingly, most symptoms which commonly characterize PMS are also typical of estrogen dominance. Due to this observation, Dr. John R. Lee gave natural progesterone to his patients with PMS and obtained some impressive results. “The majority (but not all) of such patients reported remarkable improvement in their symptoms-complex, including the elimination of their premenstrual water retention and weight gain.”10 Let’s quickly review the hormonal flux which characterizes the menstrual cycle. During the week following the end of the menstrual period, estrogen is the dominating hormone which initiates the buildup of the uterine lining once again. At the same time, eggs in the ovary begin to mature. Estrogen levels also contribute to the secretion of more vaginal mucous at this time making the tissue environment more conducive to sperm survival and motility. From ten to twelve days after the beginning of the last period, estrogen levels will crest and then begin to taper just prior to ovulation and when the egg (corpus luteum) has matured enough to produce progesterone.
Consequently, progesterone will dominate during the second half of the cycle. Increased levels of progesterone cause the body temperature to rise, the continued development of the uterine blood-filled lining, and the thinning of cervical secretions. All of these events occur in anticipation of the presence of a fertilized egg. If pregnancy does not occur within 10 to 12 days after ovulation, both estrogen and progesterone levels rapidly fall, which initiates the shedding of the uterine lining (menstruation) and a new cycle begins again. If a woman becomes pregnant, progesterone levels continue to rise and the uterine lining remains intact to receive and nourish the fertilized egg.
Eventually the placenta will produce much higher than normal amounts of progesterone throughout the remainder of the pregnancy. It’s rather easy to see that a woman’s monthly cycle is regulated by the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone. This perfectly natural fluctuation of hormones can wreak havoc with the health of a woman when imbalances occur. More often than not, a hormonal imbalance consists of a progesterone deficiency. Progesterone was designed by nature to inhibit many of the negative effects of estrogen. If progesterone levels do not balance out estrogen during the last two weeks of the cycle, PMS can become a problem. Dr. Lee illustrates this, saying: “A surplus of estrogen or a deficiency of progesterone during these two weeks allows for an abnormal month-long exposure to estrogen dominance, setting the stage for the symptoms of estrogen side effects.”11
Clearly, natural progesterone may be one of the most, if not the most effective, therapies to deal with PMS miseries. Unfortunately, many women are completely unaware of its action or availability.
The Role of Naturally Occurring Progesterone in the Body
July 25, 2005 09:50 PM
The Role of Naturally Occurring Progesterone in the Body
In light of the previous section, it is vital to keep in mind that when progesterone is produced and maintained, most of the negative side effects of estrogen are neutralized. Unfortunately, in far too many women, progesterone levels fail to do the job. Let’s discuss exactly what progesterone is responsible for.
A woman’s ovaries produce two key hormones: estrogen and progesterone during her ovulatory years. The corpus luteum makes progesterone just before ovulation which rapidly escalates during the two week period following ovulation. The primary task of progesterone is to support implantation and sustain pregnancy. It does this by inhibiting uterine contraction and by suppressing the immune system’s response to the developing embryo as a foreign body.2
During the last two weeks of a woman’s menstrual cycle, progesterone is considered the dominant female hormone. During pregnancy, the placenta takes over the task of progesterone synthesis. Progesterone is also made in limited amounts in the adrenal glands of both men and women and in the testes of the male.
PROGESTERONE SECRETION RATES
The following breakdown gives general guidelines of amounts and time of progesterone secretion:
Approximately twelve days following ovulation, if fertilization has not occurred, progesterone levels decline rapidly, which initiates the shedding of the uterine lining, also known as menstruation.
In time, progesterone is transported through the bloodstream to the liver where it is metabolized and excreted as waste through the kidneys (urine) and the bile. Typically, pregnancy tests are reacting to increased levels of HCG or of progesterone in the urine, indicating that pregnancy has occurred. (Note: What is crucial to remember is that a woman’s cycle, regardless of her age, may not be characterized by the above scale. A number of factors may cause estrogen to remain dominant, even after progesterone is supposed to take over in the latter half of the cycle. Even young women who suffer from nutritional deficiencies, stress, etc. may experience an estrogen dominance, suggesting the need for natural progesterone supplementation.)
THE THREE-FOLD ACTION OF PROGESTERONE
1. It ensures the implantation and development of a fertilized egg and subsequent embryo and fetus.
2. It acts as a precursor to other steroid hormones such as cortisone which is produced in the adrenal glands and contributes to the production of the sex hormones including testosterone.
3. It exerts a number of desirable physiological actions.
The important role the liver plays in maintaining health
June 21, 2005 04:56 PM
Most practitioners who practice various forms of natural medicine know the important role the liver plays in maintaining health in general. The liver is involved in thousands of biochemical mechanisms making it second only to the brain in importance and complexity. Natural health practitioners are also acutely aware of the detrimental effects on the liver of modern living, with its chemicals, excessive fat intake, pesticides, hormones, and stress. This suggests that we as a culture are in need of liver support. History suggests, and modern research is supporting, that botanicals have an important role to play in supporting a healthy liver.
The liver has an almost miraculous ability to biochemically transform, break down, store, eliminate, and build up the plethora of chemicals to which it is exposed. Many botanicals have a very specific effect of modifying these biochemical processes. Some botanicals can enhance the liver?s phase I (cytochrome P450) and phase II (glutathione conjugation) detoxification processes, promote the flow and production of bile (one means of eliminating toxins), inhibit the attachment of viruses or chemical antagonists to hepatocytes, strongly enhance the liver?s powerful antioxidant systems, or promote the regeneration of liver tissue-the liver being the only organ in the body except the skin able to regenerate itself. Many botanicals have been used historically for promoting liver health. Today, modern research is confirming these benefits while shedding light on their mechanisms of action. Following is an overview of a number of these botanicals.
Milk Thistle Silybum marianum
The extract of the seeds of milk thistle is perhaps the most well researched of all the liver supportive botanicals. Part of its benefit has been in its ability to scavenge free radicals and to stimulate the regeneration of hepatocytes. In Germany, it is the botanical extract of choice for use in supporting a healthy liver. Typically, an extract yielding a minimum of 70% silymarin (a specific class of flavonoids) is used clinically at a dose of approximately 420 mg of the extract daily (Morazzoni and Bombardelli 1995).
Schizandra Schisandra chinensis
Schizandra, known as bei wu wei zi in China, is one of the most widely used tonics of Chinese herbalism. Its original use was to support the health of the heart, kidneys and lungs and as a longevity tonic. Modern research has focused attention on its role as an adaptogen and for supporting a healthy liver. Adaptogens are substances that positively affect overall health by reducing stress mechanisms which can contribute to a number of biochemical reactions that can be detrimental to health. While the mechanism of action of adaptogens has not been definitively determined, the existing literature suggests they work endocrinologically through the pituitary and adrenals and substantially reduce the negative effects that stress has on the system (Wagner et al. 1994). In China and Japan, the modern use of schizandra has focused on its benefit in those in need of liver support. In one review of its pharmacological activity, stabilization of liver enzymes was reported in more than 5,000 people. The benefits were experienced within 20 days of administration of schizandra with 75% of patients returning to normal values (Chang and But 1986). A limited number of controlled studies similarly reported on the beneficial effects of the equivalent of 1.5 grams of schizandra for reducing elevated liver enzymes (Liu 1991). There are three primary mechanisms of action of schizandra reported with regards to its ability to support a healthy liver: 1) its ability to reduce lipid peroxidation induced by a number of different antagonists (antioxidant activity); 2) induction of hepatomicrosomal cytochrome P-450; 3) stimulation of protein biosynthesis and liver glycogen (Liu 1991). Such mechanisms make schizandra ideal as a liver-supportive botanical that is underutilized in the West.
Bupleurum Bupleurum chinense, B. falcatum
Bupleurum, also known as chai hu in China, is perhaps the most important of liver-supportive botanicals in China and Japan, and, like schizandra, is far underutilized in the United States, except by traditional Chinese herbalists. Traditionally, it has been regarded as an herb that helps to normalize the function of the liver from a traditional Chinese perspective. Modern research has identified a group of compounds known as saikosaponins that strongly support liver health (in humans and rats). Mechanisms of action specifically regarding liver health identified for bupleurum include anti-inflammatory activity, as well as its ability to stimulate the production and release of bile, thus facilitating the detoxification process (Wagner et al. 1996).
Sho-Saiko-To Minor Bupleurum
In Chinese herbalism, herbs are seldom prescribed singularly. Rather they are combined according to very sophisticated principles of formulation based on the differential diagnosis of the patient. One of the most widely used and researched botanical formulas for the health of the liver used in China and Japan is Sho-Saiko-To, known in China as Xiao Chai Hu Tang (Minor Bupleurum). This classic formula consists of the following botanicals: ginger, scutellaria, jujube, ginseng, licorice, pinellia and bupleurum. It is widely used throughout Asia for supporting liver health and currently is the subject of phase II clinical trials at Sloan Kettering. The formula with its main ingredient, bupleurum, was first introduced in Japan by Chinese Buddhist priests between the 6th and 8th centuries. Modern research suggests that Sho-Saiko-To modulates the immune response, specifically in addition to other mechanisms, by increasing levels of interleukin and interferon (Huang et al. 2001).
To the same extent that herbs are seldom used singularly in Chinese herbalism, they are similarly used within a broader context that incorporates dietary and other lifestyle changes to support the botanicals. In my clinic, I routinely recommend that patients eliminate alcohol, coffee, sugar, and refined foods from their diet and eat whole grain foods, fish, and several servings of green vegetables daily along with their herbal program. For these individuals this is a simple program to follow, and many are able to live a normal productive life with a greater level of liver health. Such a liver-supportive program must be maintained as a way of life to lessen the burden that modern society and exogenous factors put on our livers.
The herbal world offers a potential natural health care approach that focuses on protecting and restoring the health and functioning of the liver. Both traditional experience and modern investigation suggest that botanicals can play a role in world health, specifically in promoting liver health.
The use of botanicals should be used under the guidance of a qualified health care professional. The combined use of conventional and natural therapies may not be appropriate. Before attempting to combine such therapies, discuss your therapeutic options with your primary health care provider.
Chang HM, But PH. 1986. Pharmacology and applications of Chinese materia medica. World Science. Singapore. Huang et al. Semi-quantitative analysis of cytokine mRNA expression induced by the herbal medicine sho-saiko-to (TJ-9) using a gel doc system. J Clin Lab Anal 15: 199-209. Liu GT. 1991. Pharmacological actions and clinical uses of Fructus schizandrae in recent advances in Chinese herbal drugs-actions and uses. Scientific Press Beijing. Morazzoni P, Bombardelli E. 1995. Silybum marianum (Carduus marianus). Fitoterapia LXVI (1):3-42. Wagner H, Noerr N. Winterhoff K. 1994. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1: 63-76. Wagner H, Bauer R, Peigen X, Jianming C, Offermann F. 1996. Chinese Drug monographs and analysis: Radix Bupleuri (chaihu). Verlag fuer Ganzheitliche Medizin Koetzting/Bayer. Wald, Germany.
Michael Tierra, L. Ac., O.M.D., is a clinician and world-renowned author of the best-selling Way of Herbs and Planetary Herbology. As product formulator for Planetary Formulas, he draws on 30 years of clinical experience to create formulas renowned for their dependability and effectiveness.
Menopause: Disease or Condition?
June 13, 2005 03:44 PM
Menopause: Disease or Condition?
by Mary Ann Mayo & Joseph L. Mayo, MD Energy Times, September 4, 1999
It's front-page news. It's politically correct and socially acceptable. Talking about menopause is in. Suddenly it's cool to have hot flashes. Millions of women turning 50 in the next few years have catapulted the subject of menopause into high-definition prominence.
It's about time. Rarely discussed openly by women (what did your mother ever advise you?), meno-pause until recently was dismissed as "a shutting down experience characterized by hot flashes and the end of periods." Disparaging and depressing words like shrivel, atrophy, mood swings and melancholia peppered the scant scientific menopausal literature.
What a difference a few years and a very vocal, informed and assertive group of Baby Boomers make. Staggered by the burgeoning numbers of newly confrontational women who will not accept a scribbled prescription and a pat on the head as adequate treatment, health practitioners and researchers have been challenged to unravel, explain and deal with the challenges of menopause.
Not An Overnight Sensation
Menopause, researchers have discovered, is no simple, clear cut event in a woman's life. The "change of life" does not occur overnight. A woman's body may begin the transition toward menopause in her early 40s, even though her last period typically occurs around age 51. This evolutionary time before the final egg is released is called the perimenopause. Erratic monthly hormone levels produce unexpected and sometimes annoying sensations.
Even as their bodies adjust to lower levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, some women don't experience typical signs of menopause until after the final period. A fortunate one-third have few or no discomforts.
According to What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause (Warner Books) by John R. Lee, MD, Jesse Hanley, MD, and Virginia Hopkins, "The steroid hormones are intimately related to each other, each one being made from another or turned back into another depending on the needs of the body...But the hormones themselves are just part of the picture. It takes very specific combinations of vitamins, minerals and enzymes to cause the transformation of one hormone into another and then help the cell carry out the hormone's message. If you are deficient in one of the important hormone-transforming substances such as vitamin B6 or magnesium, for example, that too can throw your hormones out of balance. Thyroid and insulin problems, toxins, bad food and environmental factors, medication and liver function affect nutrient and hormone balance."
The most important reproductive hormones include:
Estrogen: the female hormone produced by the ovaries from puberty through menopause to regulate the menstrual cycle and prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Manufacture drops significantly during menopause. Estradiol is a chemically active and efficient form of estrogen that binds to many tissues including the uterus, breasts, ovaries, brain and heart through specific estrogen receptors that allow it to enter those cells, stimulating many chemical reactions. Estriol and estrone are additional forms of estrogen.
Progesterone: also produced by the ovaries, it causes tissues to grow and thicken, particularly during pregnancy, when it protects and nurtures the fetus. Secretion ceases during menopause.
Testosterone: Women produce about one-twentieth of what men do, but require it to support sex drive. About half of all women quit secreting testosterone during menopause.
Estrogen's Wide Reach
Since estrogen alone influences more than 400 actions on the body, chiefly stimulating cell growth, the effects of its fluctuations can be far-reaching and extremely varied: hot (and cold) flashes, erratic periods, dry skin (including the vaginal area), unpredictable moods, fuzzy thinking, forgetfulness, fatigue, low libido, insomnia and joint and muscle pain.
Young women may experience premature menopause, which can occur gradually, as a matter of course, or abruptly with hysterectomy (even when the ovaries remain) or as a result of chemotherapy. Under such conditions symptoms can be severe.
In the 1940s doctors reasoned that if most discomforts were caused by diminishing estrogen (its interactive role with progesterone and testosterone were underestimated), replacing it would provide relief. When unchecked estrogen use resulted in high rates of uterine cancer, physicians quickly began adding progesterone to their estrogen regimens and the problem appeared solved.
For the average woman, however, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) became suspect and controversial, especially when a link appeared between extended use of HRT (from five to 10 years) and an increase in breast and endometrial cancers (Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 37, 1997). The result: Women have drawn a line in the sand between themselves and their doctors.
Resolving The Impasse
Since hormone replacement reduces the risk of major maladies like heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, colon cancer and diabetes that would otherwise significantly rise as reproductive hormone levels decrease, most doctors recommend hormone replacement shortly before or as soon as periods stop. Hormone replacement also alleviates the discomforts of menopause.
But only half of all women fill their HRT prescriptions and, of those who do, half quit within a year. Some are simply indifferent to their heightened medical risks. Some are indeed aware but remain unconvinced of the safety of HRT. Others complain of side effects such as bloating, headaches or drowsiness.
Women's resistance to wholesale HRT has challenged researchers to provide more secure protection from the diseases to which they become vulnerable during menopause, as well as its discomforts. If the conventional medical practitioners do not hear exactly what modern women want, the complementary medicine community does. Turning to centuries-old botanicals, they have validated and compounded them with new technology. Their effectiveness depends on various factors including the synergistic interaction of several herbs, specific preparation, the correct plant part and dosage, harvesting and manufacturing techniques.
Research demonstrates that plant hormones (phytoestrogens) protect against stronger potentially carcinogenic forms of estrogen while safely providing a hormone effect. Other herbs act more like tonics, zipping up the body's overall function.
Help From Herbs
Clinical trials and scientific processing techniques have resulted in plant-based supplements like soy and other botanicals that replicate the form and function of a woman's own estrogen.
The complementary community also can take credit for pushing the conventional medical community to look beyond estrogen to progesterone in postmenopausal health.
Natural soy or Mexican yam derived progesterone is formulated by pharmacologists in creams or gels that prevent estrogen-induced overgrowth of the uterine lining (a factor in uterine cancer), protect against heart disease and osteoporosis and reduce hot flashes (Fertility and Sterility 69, 1998: 96-101).
A quarter of the women who take the popularly prescribed synthetic progesterone report increased tension, fatigue and anxiety; natural versions have fewer side effects.
These "quasi-medicines," as Tori Hudson, a leading naturopathic doctor and professor at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon, calls them, are considered "stronger than a botanical but weaker than a medicine." (Hudson is author of Gynecology and Naturopathic Medicine: A Treatment Manual.)
According to Hudson, the amount of estrogen and progesterone in these supplements is much less than medical hormone replacement but equally efficacious in relieving menopausal problems and protecting the heart and bones.
According to a study led by Harry K. Genant, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, "low-dose" plant estrogen derived from soy and yam, supplemented with calcium, prevents bone loss without such side effects as increased vaginal bleeding and endometrial hypoplasia, abnormal uterine cell growth that could be a precursor to endometrial cancer (Archives of Internal Medicine 157, 1997: 2609-2615).
These herbal products, including natural progesterone and estrogen in the form of the weaker estriol or estrone, may block the effect of the stronger and potentially DNA-damaging estradiol.
Soy in its myriad dietary and supplemental forms provides a rich source of isoflavones and phytosterols, both known to supply a mild estrogenic effect that can stimulate repair of the vaginal walls (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83, 1991: 541-46).
To enhance vaginal moisture, try the herb cimicifuga racemosa, the extract of black cohosh that, in capsule form, builds up vaginal mucosa (Therapeuticum 1, 1987: 23-31). Traditional Chinese herbal formulas containing roots of rehmannia and dong quai have long been reputed to promote vaginal moisture.
Clinical research in Germany also confirms the usefulness of black cohosh in preventing hot flashes and sweating, as well as relieving nervousness, achiness and depressed moods caused by suppressed hormone levels. It works on the hypothalamus (the body's thermostat, appetite and blood pressure monitor), pituitary gland and estrogen receptors. Green tea is steeped with polyphenols, mainly flavonoids, that exert a massive antioxidant influence against allergens, viruses and carcinogens. The risks of estrogen-related cancers such as breast cancer are particularly lowered by these flavonoids, as these substances head directly to the breast's estrogen receptors. About three cups a day exert an impressive anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, antiviral and anticarcinogenic effect.
Other phytoestrogen-rich botanicals, according to Susun Weed's Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way (Ash Tree Publishing), include motherwort and lactobacillus acidophilus to combat vaginal dryness; hops and nettles for sleep disturbances; witch hazel and shepherd's purse for heavy bleeding; motherwort and chasteberry for mood swings; dandelion and red clover for hot flashes.
Our Need For Supplements
Adding micronutrients at midlife to correct and counter a lifetime of poor diet and other habits is a step toward preventing the further development of the degenerative diseases to which we become vulnerable. At the very minimum, you should take:
a multivitamin/mineral supplement vitamin E calcium
Your multivitamin/mineral should contain vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Look for a wide variety of antioxidants that safeguard you from free radical damage, believed to promote heart disease and cancer, as well as contribute to the aging process.
Also on the list: mixed carotenoids such as lycopene, alpha carotene and vitamin C; and folic acid to help regulate cell division and support the health of gums, red blood cells, the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system.
Studies indicate a deficiency of folic acid (folate) in 30% of coronary heart disease, blood vessel disease and strokes; lack of folate is thought to be a serious risk factor for heart disease (OB.GYN News, July 15, 1997, page 28).
Extra vitamin E is believed to protect against breast cancer and bolster immune strength in people 65 and older (Journal of the American Medical Association 277, 1997: 1380-86). It helps relieve vaginal dryness, breast cysts and thyroid problems and, more recently, hit the headlines as an aid in reducing the effects of Alzheimer's and heart disease. It is suspected to reduce the thickening of the carotid arterial walls and may prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which contributes to the formation of plaque in arteries.
Selenium also has been identified as an assistant in halting cancer (JAMA 276, 1996: 1957-63).
The Omegas To The Rescue
Essential fatty acids found in cold water fish, flaxseed, primrose and borage oils and many nuts and seeds are essential for the body's production of prostaglandin, biochemicals which regulate hormone synthesis, and numerous physiological responses including muscle contraction, vascular dilation and the shedding of the uterine lining. They influence hormonal balance, reduce dryness and relieve hot flashes.
In addition, the lignans in whole flaxseed behave like estrogen and act aggressively against breast cancer, according to rat and human studies at the University of Toronto (Nutr Cancer 26, 1996: 159-65).
Research has demonstrated that these omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can reverse the cancer-causing effects of radiation and other carcinogens (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 74, 1985: 1145-50). Deficiencies may cause swelling, increased blood clotting, breast pain, hot flashes, uterine and menstrual cramps and constipation. Fatigue, lack of endurance dry skin and hair and frequent colds may signal EFA shortage. Plus, fatty fish oils, along with vitamin D and lactose, help absorption of calcium, so vital for maintaining bone mass.
In addition, studies show that the natural substance Coenzyme A may help menopausal women reduce cholesterol and increase fat utilization (Med Hyp 1995; 44, 403, 405). Some researchers belive Coenzyme A plays a major role in helping women deal with stress while strengthening immunity.
Can't shake those menopausal woes? Menopause imposters may be imposing on you: The risk of thyroid disease, unrelenting stress, PMS, adrenal burnout, poor gastrointestinal health and hypoglycemia all increase at midlife. Menopause is a handy hook on which to hang every misery, ache and pain but it may only mimic the distress of other ailments. For this reason every midlife woman should have a good medical exam with appropriate tests to determine her baseline state of health. Only with proper analysis can you and your health practitioner hit on an accurate diagnosis and satisfying course of therapy.
And if menopause is truly the issue, you have plenty of company. No woman escapes it. No woman dies from it. It is not a disease but a reminder that one-third of life remains to be lived. Menopausal Baby Boomers can anticipate tapping into creative energy apart from procreation. If not new careers, new interests await. An altered internal balance empowers a menopausal woman to direct, perhaps for the first time, her experience of life. She has come of age-yet again. Gone is the confusion, uncertainty, or dictates of a hormone driven life: This time wisdom and experience direct her. There is no need to yearn for youth or cower at the conventional covenant of old age. Menopause is the clarion call to reframe, reevaluate and reclaim.
Mary Ann Mayo and Joseph L. Mayo, MD, are authors of The Menopause Manager (Revell) and executive editors of Health Opportunities for Women (HOW). Telephone number 877-547-5499 for more information.