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Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 9, Issue 8 -- November, 2012

Vitamin D - Whose opinion should you follow?
"Millions May Be Taking Vitamin D Unnecessarily" was the headline of a recent news release. I know this topic is controversial since every time I write about vitamin D we get dozens of emails with people who seem to be adamant that their review of the medical literature on this topic shows clear evidence of substantial benefits from megadosing with 5,000 or 10,000 units a day. The news release continues, "Under the latest guidelines from the Institute of Medicine, it's possible that almost 80 million Americans who've previously been considered as having low levels of vitamin D don't need supplements of this nutrient at all. Older guidelines had suggested that anyone with a blood level of vitamin D that was less than 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) needed to boost their levels, but the newer Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines say that a minimum level of 20 ng/mL is sufficient," according to Holly Kramer, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Ill. and as published in the Oct. 24, 2012, issue of PLoS ONE.
   The Endocrine Society, and other medical organizations, disagree with the Institute of Medicine guidelines. They think more people should be supplementing. Whose opinion should we follow? Whenever there are such varying opinions on a topic it makes us realize how complicated nutritional science is and that often there are few black and white, clear answers. I leave it up to each individual to review the latest information and decide for themselves how much vitamin D, if any, they wish to supplement. I have my own guidelines, which I review below.

My practical approach to vitamin D supplementation
I think the following guidelines are quite reasonable and practical, as elaborated here, http://www.raysahelian.com/vitamind.html. If you do not have time to read the whole article, here is a summary:

Some people may not need to supplement since their diet includes plenty of the vitamin and they get a lot of sun exposure.

Most people may benefit from taking 400 units to 1000 iu a day either as a separate pill or as part of their multivitamin product (in addition to their diet and some sun exposure which could be several hundred units a day).

A few people -- those who do not consume much of this vitamin in their diet, live in Northern latitudes, or some elderly who get little sun -- may benefit from taking 600 to 2000 units daily. More is needed in the winter season and less in the summer season.

Those who have hardly any sun exposure, or have certain chronic medical conditions, may need 2000 to 3000 units a day for a few weeks or months and then down to 1000 to 2000 units daily.

For more information on the latest IOM guidelines, see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024175229.htm

Energy drinks can disrupt sleep
The popularity of energy drinks, such as Monster, Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, Rockstar, AMP, and others, has skyrocketed in recent years. Many people do not realize that some of the alertness caused by these drinks can last quite long, and could potentially cause sleep problems. Investigators in the US Army evaluated soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and found close to half of them took in one or more energy drinks a day. Those soldiers who consumed three or more energy drinks a day were much more likely to have significant sleep disturbance which led to falling asleep during briefings or while on guard duty. When people do not get a good night's sleep, they tend to feel the need to boost themselves with another energy or caffeinated drink to stay awake and the terrible cycle of daytime fatigue and nighttime insomnia continues on and on. There are many other supplements that increase energy levels and that cost much cheaper than these drinks. See http://www.raysahelian.com/energy.html. Be cautious, though, to make sure you do not take too many or too high a dosage that would interfere with sleep.

Legumes help maintain healthy blood sugar levels
Adding beans and other legumes to the diet helps those with type 2 diabetes improve their blood sugar control and lower their risk of heart disease, according to researcher David J.A. Jenkins, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. Archives of Internal Medicine, Oct., 2012. See http://www.raysahelian.com/bean.html

Interesting tidbit about a milk thistle extract
Recently there was an accidental mushroom poisoning at a nursing home in Loomis, California. What caught my eye was that a proposed treatment for this toxicity was silibin, an extract from milk thistle herb. See http://www.raysahelian.com/milkthistle.html

The controversy of hormone replacement therapy
After reviewing the latest published evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reaffirmed its previous guideline on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which was published in 2005.The panel agreed that although "preventive" HRT (which had been routinely prescribed by doctors for several decades) has benefits, like reducing the risk of broken bones in postmenopausal women, it increases the risks of other conditions such as breast cancer, blood clots in the legs and lungs, strokes, heart attacks, dementia, gallbladder disease, and urinary incontinence. The new guideline applies to both the use of estrogen alone or in combination with progestin. These increased risks are from long term use. Women who use these hormones for a short time to reduce menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness should not be concerned. It also does not speak to younger women under the age of 50 who have menopause due to surgical removal of the ovaries. See http://www.raysahelian.com/hormonereplacementtherapy.html.

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Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 9, Issue 7 -- October, 2012

Do multivitamins help reduce the risk for cancer? Over the past two decades I have read numerous studies on this topic and the evidence is conflicting. According to the latest study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School recruited 15,000 male physicians, 50 years or older, and followed them for more than a decade. Half took the daily multivitamin Centrum Silver; the others took a placebo. Those in the vitamin group had an 8% reduction in cancer cases compared to the others. Based on this study, should you start or continue to take a daily multivitamin pill? I do not know for certain, some prior studies had shown the opposite. There are hundreds of different daily multivitamin pills on the market each with a different formulation. Could some of these have provided better results than the Centrum Silver, whereas others provide worse results. This is quite likely. Since I have a pragmatic and moderate approach to supplementation, I think a good compromise would be to take a multivitamin pill every other day. I also think it is a good idea to alternate different brands rather than take the same one all the time. I have formulated one called MultiVit Rx which I take about 3 times a week. I find that it gives me more energy, even if I only take one or two capsules. See http://www.raysahelian.com/multivitamin.html.

Suggestion: When you start a new dietary supplement it is a good idea to take it on a day when you are not taking other supplements. This way you can better tell what kind of effect it has on your body and mind. Otherwise, you will not fully understand how this new supplement is making you feel or what kind of positive effects and side effects it has. Ideally it would be best if you took it alone for a few days in order to have a better understanding for how you react to it.

Melatonin, the sleeping pill, helps those on high blood pressure meds
In a study published in the October 2012 issue of the journal Sleep, people treated for high blood pressure with medications (such as beta blockers, metoprolol or atenolol) who also took 2.5 mg of melatonin at night slept longer, fell asleep sooner and had more restful sleep than people taking an inactive placebo. Beta blockers may affect sleep by inhibiting the release of melatonin, a hormone involved in regulating both sleep and the body's circadian clock. The study subjects who took melatonin slept an average of half an hour longer, and fell asleep faster. Prior studies have hinted that melatonin use can slightly reduce blood pressure. See http://www.raysahelian.com/melatonin.html

Tongkat ali, potent aphrodisiac, boosts testosterone levels
One the most popular natural sex enhancers (found in Passion Rx), is tongkat ali, a tree from Southeast Asia whose roots contain powerful substances that have been known for centuries to boost libido and sexual performance. It is quite likely that there are many ways that this herb influences sexuality, but it seems that at least one of the ways is by increasing testosterone levels. In a recent study done at
Damai Service Hospital, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Patients were given Tongkat ali daily for 1 month. The results showed serum testosterone concentrations to increase. Caution: use low dosages and take breaks from use due to side effects that can occur when high amounts are used daily. For a full review, see http://www.raysahelian.com/tongkat_ali.html.

Another reason to eat fewer simple carbohydrates
According to a Mayo Clinic report, seniors who consume lots of carbohydrates and sugar have a higher risk for mental impairment. Fortunately there are many nutrients and natural herbs that can have a positive influence in reversing this decline. See http://www.raysahelian.com/memory.html for a review.

Emails
Q. I understand there are natural herbs that thin the blood. My doctor has put me on Coumadin. Do you have a list of some that can cause thinning of the blood. I want to avoid excessive bleeding.
   A. Yes, there are many such natural herbs and supplements that have a blood thinning potential and should be used cautiously by those on warfarin, Plavix, aspirin or other blood thinning medications. I list some of them in this article, http://www.raysahelian.com/bloodclot.html

Q. I recently tried SAM-e for depression and it worked great initially at a dosage of 800 mg a day but then I started having anxiety attacks and terrible insomnia. I understand there are several supplements that effect mood. How would a person know which ones, or combinations, to start with and for how long?
   A. Treating depression is often difficult, whether through psychotherapy, medications or supplements. Each person is unique in terms of the causes for the depression and their response to medicines or supplements. However, there are certain generalizations that can be made that one can discuss with their health care provider. If the depression is associated with low energy and motivation, then SAM-e could be helpful since this nutrient can perk someone up pretty quickly. However, high doses can cause overstimulation and mania so I would limit long term use to 100 mg a day. If the depression is associated with restlessness, anxiety and rapid, incessant thoughts, 5-HTP is a good choice since it converts into serotonin which has a calming effect. Somewhere between these two effects is the herb St. John's wort which is not as stimulating as SAM-e, but not as calming as 5-HTP. And it's quite likely that as the depression progresses, some people who at first benefited from one supplement may find it is no longer helpful and can switch to another one, or use very low amounts of two or three. I think part of the reason for the failure of depression treatment lies in the fact that patients or doctors don't adjust the dose or medicine to reflect the biochemical, life circumstance or lifestyle changes that are going on within or outside the individual as the weeks and months go on. Tryptophan has some aspects that are similar to 5-HTP and can be used as an alternative to it. See http://www.raysahelian.com/depression.html.

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Natural Healing Secrets by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Vol. 9, Issue 6 -- September, 2012

I have a friend who has been following a calorie restricted diet for the past 20 years. He is very thin with little muscle mass, pale, and, frankly, does not look very healthy. Ever since he read studies that rodents placed on a calorie restricted diet lived longer, he has been adamant and highly motivated to limit his food intake in order to become a centenarian. For a while I thought of doing the same but I just did not have the same degree of will power. Now I am glad I did not semi starve myself for all these years. The results of a 20 year long study in rhesus monkeys were recently reported. The monkeys who were underfed on the calorie restriction diet did not live any longer than those that were kept at more normal weights. These results were in contrast to previous studies that showed caloric restriction to extend lifespan.

I am never convinced by the results of one study and I prefer to pool results from many trials to have a more accurate understanding. But, for the moment, I do not think it is necessary to go out one's way to stay semi-starved. Keeping lean is good enough. http://www.raysahelian.com/caloric.html

Substance in green tea helps with brain cell growth
EGCG, a chemical found abundantly in green tea, and also available as a supplement, helps with growth of neural cells and is potentially of benefit in memory and cognitive function. It can help release neural progenitor cells which can adapt to different types of brain cells. Drinking a cup of green tea a few times a week, or taking an EGCG pill two or three times a week, are good ways to ingest this substance and get many of the other benefits it provides, as mentioned in this article, http://www.raysahelian.com/egcg.html
   There are many beneficial substances in other herbal teas and I think it is a good idea to alternate green tea with others such as chamomile, cinnamon, Earl Grey, fennel, ginger, hibiscus, hops (for nighttime), hyssop, lemon balm, milk thistle, mint, nettle, peppermint, rooibos, rose hips and others. See http://www.raysahelian.com/tea.html

A natural muscle builder that also helps with mood?
I was really surprised when I came across this study regarding the use of the effective muscle builder creatine as an addition to prescription antidepressant medications. When 52 women with major depressive disorder already on a SSRI antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro) were given creatine (5 grams a day), their mood improved quicker than women who were already on the same medication but without the creatine. I, personally, had not thought of creatine as having such an influence on mood. I look forward to additional studies with this nutrient in regards to its use with other mood enhancing medications. See http://www.raysahelian.com/creatine.html

Sperm health influenced by nutrient intake
In a study of 80 healthy men, aged 22 to 80, those older than 40 who consumed the most vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and folate had less sperm DNA damage than those who consumed the lowest amounts. There are many nutritional factors that influence sperm health, motility, volume, and fertility. For a fuller discussion, see http://www.raysahelian.com/sperm.html

No need for expensive sports drinks
Many athletes and just regular people who exercise think that sports drinks provide them with a greater edge than simple fruits available at a much cheaper cost. A study done at Appalachian State University's Human Performance Lab in the Kannapolis-based North Carolina Research Campus reveals that not only is performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks are consumed, but that bananas provide antioxidants not found in sports drinks as well as fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6.

Question
Q. I am very sensitive to high dosages found in some capsules and often find that I need to break a tablet in pieces or try to open a capsule. Is it okay to break tablets or open capsules?
   A. Many people think higher doses of supplements (such as the B vitamins that come in 50 or 100 mg, or certain hormones such as DHEA or pregnenolone) are better and healthier, and manufacturers respond to this by providing higher dose products, worried that other companies may grab a larger share of the market by selling higher dosage nutrients. Since each person is unique in their requirement and response, it is okay to open capsules of these natural pills and to take a portion. Most capsules can be opened easily, the partial contents placed in a cup with water or juice, and the rest of the capsule closed and stored for another day. Tablets can be broken in pieces.
 

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Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 9, Issue 5 -- July, 2012

The Calcium and vitamin D controversy continues. Within a few days of each other one report widely circulated in the media said, "Vitamin D and calcium supplements may not prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures in most older women, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force," while another headline read, "Older people who take vitamin D with calcium may have lower death rates than those who don't." I am just as frustrated as anyone else in trying to determine the overall benefit versus harm of taking these two supplements in those who are older. For the time being I tend to lean on the side of supplementation but I cannot argue with doctors who are currently skeptical of their use, particularly calcium. I can see many sides of the argument. My personal opinion is that, for most older women, up to 500 to 600 mg of calcium daily as a supplement is acceptable, while up to 2,000 units a day of vitamin D is okay for both men and women. I fully realize that there are many opinions on this topic and your doctor may have a different viewpoint. Ultimately it is up to each individual to determine and decide what course they want to take.
   Passion Rx with yohimbe is a sexual enhancing formula that I developed in 2004. Each time we make a new batch (usually every few months), I make some minor alterations in the formula, decreasing or increasing the amount of one or two herbs, decreasing or increasing the extract potency and concentration of other herbs, etc. Our latest batch that just came out is the best thus far. Our feedback thus far has been tremendous. "It really, really works," "I noticed a tremendous sexual urge by the second morning of use," "It's amazing," are some of the comments we have been receiving. One recently divorced woman in her early forties, who had lost some of her sexual drive, writes, "I can't believe it but after a couple of days of taking this product I feel attracted to many, many more types of men." Single men report that they, too, find many types of women more attractive. And the benefits of this latest formula are being noticed earlier, too, generally the same day or the next day as opposed to 3 or 4 days, although there are those who may need to take it a few days before they notice the full benefits. One capsule is used daily in the morning as soon as you wake up, at least 20 minutes before breakfast.
   We are offering a free sample bottle of 6 capsules for you to try. Just click on the bottle below. The shipping cost is 5.50 dollars but if you are buying other products anyway, the shipping cost stays the same at 5.50. Those who are including other products in their order and whose order is greater than 70 dollars get free shipping in the USA.

Illnesses, inflammation, linked to the types of fat we consume
The types of saturated fats we consume in our modern diet has an influence on the types and counts of bacteria in our intestinal system and may also trigger inflammatory bowel disease, particularly in people genetically predisposed to ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Working with mice with characteristics of human inflammatory bowel disease, University of Chicago researchers found that concentrated milk fats (but not polyunsaturated fats, which are found in plant-based foods and oils) change the composition of bacteria in the intestines. These changes can alter the fragile interaction between the immune system and the complex but largely beneficial mix of bacteria in the intestines. Harmful bacteria can trigger a tissue-damaging immune-system response that can be difficult to turn off. The use of probiotic supplements can help partially or fully restore the balance of good bacteria in the intestines and perhaps be of some benefit in those with IBD. This study was published in Nature journal, June 13, 2012. See http://www.raysahelian.com/probiotics.html.

Questions
Q. Dr. Sahelian, what are your thoughts regarding the ideal daily dose of vitamin C to take daily as a supplement? I keep reading different opinions on this topic.
   A. If you ask a dozen doctors and researchers who have experience with vitamin C, you are likely to get a dozen different recommendations. There is yet no consensus on this topic. I would say that those who have an excellent diet with plenty of fresh fruits (including citrus) and vegetables, may not need to take any vitamin C supplements. For those whose diet is not ideal, it would seem reasonable to take between 50 to 200 mg once or twice a day, preferably a formula that includes bioflavonoids.

Q. I would like to know your views on a recent trial that showed soy supplements do not boost thinking skills. What do you think of this study. Do you think it might indicate that soy isn't as helpful as previously thought?
   A. There have been thousands of human studies with soy products, drinks, extracts, pills, etc. I, personally, do not exclusively rely on the results of one study to form a definitive opinion. One result can be skewed just as, for instance in this year of presidential elections, one result of a poll, let's say Gallup, can be different than the result of another one, let's say by ABC news, even if they are done the same day. As to soy consumption or soy supplement intake, I do not see them as having a significant influence on mental abilities as other more direct brain enhancers.

Q. I am trying to quit smoking and drinking less alcohol. My wife and I are having fertility issues and the problem seems more likely that it is me. Does excessive smoking influence sperm health?
   A. Smoking and drinking alcohol could affect the quality of semen. Men who overuse alcohol and smoke cigarettes are more likely to have a smaller amount of semen, a lower concentration of sperm, and a lower percentage of active sperm than abstainers. These semen alterations are less likely to be present in men with one habit but not the other. For a normally fertile man, the reductions in semen quality are not enough to render him infertile. However, in men who already have fertility problems, these sperm changes might make the situation worse.

Q. What time of day is it best to take supplements? Also, with or without meals?
   A. In most cases, supplements are best taken in the morning. Certain ones that cause relaxation or drowsiness, such as kava, melatonin, 5-HTP, valerian, tryptophan, theanine, graviola, or hops, are taken in the evening unless one is taking them (except melatonin) during the day for relaxation or anxiety relief purposes. As to with or without food, I would say most can be taken with food unless you want to experience a quick mental or physical effect, in that case take them at least 20 minutes before breakfast or lunch. For instance, if you want the full effects of amino acids, or many brain boosters or aphrodisiac herbs, they are best taken on an empty stomach for quick absorption. Some supplements that come to mind to be taken on an empty stomach include NADH, SAM-e, tyrosine, CDP-choline, choline, acetyl-l-carnitine and aphrodisiac herbs. A good option is to experiment for yourself to see which method works best for you.

Reports from customers: I wanted to let you know that I have been purchasing unsweetened soy milk rather than the one with the sweetened with sugar, and then i add a few drops of liquid stevia as a no calorie sweetener, this way avoiding lots of calories.

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Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 9, Issue 4 -- June, 2012

Are you drinking more water than you really need? We have all heard the recommendations that we should drink 8 glasses a day. However these recommendations have been made without adequate supporting data. There is plenty of water in many of the foods we ingest (vegetables, fruits as examples) and it is quite possible that drinking an additional 2 to 6 glasses a day of water may be just adequate for many people. Many people also get a lot of fluid by consuming large amounts of tea, coffee, juice, sodas, and other fluids. I know friends who always leave the house with a bottle of water even if they are going out for a couple of hours. I see them constantly sipping from the bottle as if they are going to get dehydrated if they do not have continuous fluid intake. Some people appear to be quite obsessed about this. There is no reason to be. It is thought that this push to drink more water may partly be instigated by water bottling companies who are making enormous profits at the expense of the consumer and the environment (so many trashed plastic bottles everywhere). I think we should have a balanced approach to fluid intake, not too little and not too much. This article is interesting http://www.raysahelian.com/water.html

Another nutrient of benefit in those with heart failure
Taurine is a semi-essential amino acid found in our tissues but it is not involved in protein synthesis. Its full function is not well understood. Rsearchers evaluated the effect of taurine supplementation on exercise capacity of patients with heart failure. For a period of two weeks, patients with heart failure (HF) with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) less than 50% received taurine supplementation 500 mg three times a day while other patients received placebo for 2 weeks. Exercise time, metabolic equivalents METS, and exercise distance increased significantly in patients who received taurine supplement but not in patients who received placebo. The investigators conclude, "Taurine supplementation in patients with HF who are taking standard medical treatment can increase their exercise capacity." See http://www.raysahelian.com/taurine.html and also http://www.raysahelian.com/heartfailure.html

Lose weight by sleeping more
Researchers at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, St Luke'sĖRoosevelt Hospital, had normal-weight men and women participate in a 2-phase inpatient crossover study in which they spent either 4 hours/night (restricted sleep) or 9 hours/night (habitual sleep) in bed. Each phase lasted 6 days, and functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed in the fasted state on day 6. Overall neuronal activity in response to food stimuli was greater after restricted sleep than after habitual sleep. The findings of this study are consistent with the notion that reduced sleep may lead to greater propensity to overeat. See natural ways to lose weight, http://www.raysahelian.com/weightloss.html

Cholesterol lowering drugs can make you feel tired and exhausted
More studies are confirming that statin drugs used to lower cholesterol levels can cause tiredness. When people are fatigued they are less likely to exercise and do activities that use up calories, lower blood sugar, and are good for bone, heart, and muscle health. Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD., an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, evaluated more than 1,000 adult who took one of two statins at relatively low doses. They were more likely to experience decreased energy, fatigue upon exertion, or both, when compared with those who were not taking the statin drugs. The effects were more pronounced among women. This fatigue during exercise reported in the study is different than a rare and potentially fatal side effect associated with statins called rhabdomyolysis which can cause severe muscle pain, liver damage, kidney failure, and death.
   My comments: Here we have a class of drugs that supposedly are good for heart health since they lower cholesterol levels, but on the other hand the reduced amount of exercise or physical activity caused by tiredness can not only be detrimental to heart health, but to overall body and mental health. It is much more difficult to be cheerful when feeling tired. See http://www.raysahelian.com/statins.html for a full list of adverse reactions.
 

Emails
Q. Regarding the 7 bottle natural sex enhancing package being offered at $119.95. What order do you suggest they be taken? Does one cycle these aphrodisiac products or take them every day continuously? Thanks for your help!
   A. This natural sexual enhancement package has seven bottles in it which include
Catuaba bark extract
Horny Goat Weed with icariin
Mucuna pruriens with l dopa
Passion Rx with Yohimbe combination formula
Rhodiola herb
Tribulus Terrestris extract
Tongkat ali LJ100
   There is no particular order to take. Over the past several years we have had feedback from a large number of users who have tried it in a variety of sequences and found it to be of benefit. Only one capsule is taken a day. For instance the first day one can take a catuaba pill, the next day a tongkat ali pill, the third day the Passion Rx formula capsule, etc, until a person has taken a pill from each bottle in the 7 day period. Then, I would suggest taking at least 2 days off and then restarting the cycle -- in the initial order or a different order. There is a wide range of flexibility. See http://www.physicianformulas.com/store/Scripts/prodview.asp?idproduct=81&name=Natural-Sex-Boosters,

Q. Iíve written to you about Sam-e before. This natural antidepressant does remarkable things for me, as far as depression goes. And I love how you described in your article a Sam-e day as special and a little magical. I couldnít agree more. However, I have a continual problem with the dosage. There is a very fine line for me between just enough and too much, where too much puts me in almost a rage. I typically take 200-400mg on day one, skip a day, take another 200mg, and then wait a day or two. Itís around this time that if I decide to take another, it could end up being way too much, and Iím hyper-irritable for the next two or three days, but then I get a solid week or two of magic. Then it wears off, and I start over. If I break the pills up, they oxidize within a couple of days. Iím surprised no one markets it in smaller doses. Would you consider formulating a 20 to 50mg pill? I think some anxiety prone people would benefit from it in smaller doses.
   A. I have been looking for a while in making a 50 mg or 100 mg pill, it is not an easy supplement to manufacture, but I will keep trying to find smaller dosage pills. I have had feedback from many people that 200 mg is too much for them. See http://www.raysahelian.com/sam-e.html

Statin drug adverse reaction report
I was prescribed and started taking the cholesterol lowering medication Lipitor without knowing of any side effects. Being a young male, I liked to have alcohol often enough. After 6 months on 5mg Lipitor per day, I started having itchy skin. Was so bad that I continuously scratched myself to relieve the itchiness. Spent hours at night just scratching. Then another symptom appeared. I would wake up every night and my bed was soaking wet. I would twist the blankets and a lot of water would drip out. Yet another symptom then appeared. My skin would start getting red rashes that would appear anywhere on my body and then disappear within 4-5 minutes time. My skin was dry and I would also burn in the sun very quickly. Last and most dangerous symptom was I had problems breathing and my throat was enflamed / blocking. I read up on all of these symptoms and found your amazing web site which confirmed my fears that Lipitor was to blame. I quit the drug immediately. Itís been a year now and most symptoms have disappeared or are much less frequent. Thank you for helping me.

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Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 9, Issue 3 -- May, 2012

One of my patients who I had not seen for quite a while recently told me he had been taking 5-HTP, the dietary supplement that converts in the body and brain to the mood elevating chemical serotonin, for a period of five years. His dose has been consistent at 50 mg each and every evening. When I asked him if he had noticed any adverse effects, he said not that he was aware of. This man in his 50s happens to be the longest continuous user (without a break) of this dietary supplement that I know of. His reason for taking it was to naturally deal with a mild case of depression. It seems to have worked for him. Personally, I prefer users of this serotonin enhancer to take breaks from use since long term effects have not been studied, but it is encouraging to know that at least one person has taken it for this extended period without obvious problems. When I asked him if he had ever tried other natural antidepressants such as St. John's wort and SAM-e, he said he had but they had not worked for him. I know many people who have had great benefits from SAM-e as a mood enhancer. I find it interesting that some supplements work for some individuals and not for others. Often it is difficult to predict which product will work. The most reliable way is by trial and error. See http://www.raysahelian.com/depression.html for a review of natural ways to lift mood and perhaps avoid the need (or at least reduce the dosage) of prescription antidepressants. I personally have tried all three. 5-HTP gives me a balanced mood and reduces my appetite, often within hours or a day. SAM-e gives me a quick pickup and energy boost within an hour or two and I certainly notice the mood elevation the same day or the next day. It also makes the day seem special, a little more magical. So does St. John's wort. I like all three of them. If you do wish to try these natural mood lifters do so one at a time for a week or two, take a break for a few days, and then start on another one. Of course consult with your physician if you have health issues or are currently taking medications. Sometimes it is difficult to predict interactions between pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. At times I have found the combination of one 300 mg pill of St. John's wort in the morning followed by a 50 mg 5HTP pill in mid afternoon to be a wonderful mood enhancing combination.

Recently Dr. Oz, who has a TV show on health and alternative healing, has been mentioning several dietary supplements on his program including stevia, forskolin, green coffee extract, and schisandra. We have been getting lots of questions on these topics. We do have all of these products available.

1. Alzheimer's disease risk can be reduced
It is possible that eating more fish or consuming flax seeds (both of which contain healthy omega-3 acids) could reduce the risk for Alzheimer's disease, according to Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, of New York's Columbia University Medical Center. It appears that people whose diets have the most omega-3 have the lowest blood levels of a protein known as beta-amyloid. This protein deposits are common in the brains of people with AD. Dr Scarmeas says, "This adds to the evidence that diet may play a role in memory decline." See http://www.raysahelian.com/alzheimer.html for additional dietary and natural options to reduce the risk for this neurological condition.

2. Too many tests done in this country that don't improve overall health or longevity
Our medical costs are too high and we do too many unnecessary medical tests and treatments in the USA. Recently a panel of several organizations warned the public of tests and procedures that are overdone. Many doctors may not follow this advice since they worry about getting sued by their patients if they do not order these tests and something is missed. However, as a patient, you can be informed and make a better judgment on which tests to avoid or do so less frequently. Here is a good article that summarizes their recommendations. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46950533/ns/health-cancer/#.T3xu8NnheJs

3. Is your prescription hair loss pill or prostate pill making you impotent?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has asked Merck pharmaceutical company to revise labels warning of potential sexual problem side effects that can last even after patients stop taking Propecia to combat male pattern baldness, and Proscar, to treat enlarged prostates. The new label will include the warning of "libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders that continued after discontinuation of the drug." Both of these drugs have the chemical compound, called finasteride. Propecia has 1 milligram of finasteride; while Proscar contains 5 milligrams. Propecia is of benefit in reducing hair loss and many men take 1 mg every day. It is possible to get benefits by taking the 1 mg pill twice a week rather than daily and thus reduce the severity of the sexual side effects. Older men who are very susceptible to erection problems take the 5 mg pills for an enlarged prostate which can wreak havoc to their sexual interest and performance. Perhaps a lower dosage of the Proscar, or taken less frequently, can still provide a reduction in prostate size but reduce the risk for erectile problems. Those who need to take these medications yet wish to have a natural way to reverse the dysfunction can consider many effective herbal remedies which are reviewed in this article, http://www.raysahelian.com/impotence.html

Q. I was watching the Dr. Oz show the other day he stated that taking 1500 mg of the amino acid L-tyrosine will help a person with hypothyroid. I have been taking 1500 mg but read your article and it is sounding like it may be too much.
   A. In my opinion this high amount of tyrosine intake could lead to an increase in anxiety, restlessness, and rapid heart beat. I am not yet convinced that tyrosine is an effective treatment for those with low thyroid levels. See http://www.raysahelian.com/tyrosine.html

Q. Dr. Sahelian, I am an avid natural health reader and subscribe to various newsletters from many different natural medicine practitioners and I try to read original nutritional science journals as much as I can understand them. I have noticed that often the dosages you recommend for over the counter supplements are lower than the ones they suggest or those mentioned in research papers. Can you tell me your reasoning for this?
   A. Over my 30 or more years of studying nutritional therapy and being involved in medical practice, I have come to realize that whenever researchers do a study with a supplement or a drug and pick a particular dosage, it does not mean that the dosage they picked is the ideal amount. You would be surprised how little some researchers know about the practical aspects of taking supplements or the particular substance they are researching. More often that not they do not pick the ideal dosage to test with. Often they choose an amount much higher than needed since most studies are of short duration and the researchers want to measure an immediate effect that occurs fast within days or weeks. They don't have the time or the funds to do a study with a lower dose that may take longer to show results. Furthermore, many side effects are missed by investigators. For instance, when I was experimenting with melatonin in the mid 1990s, I realized it caused vivid dreaming, yet, when I reviewed all the previously published melatonin studies in the past several decades, none had mentioned anything about vivid dreams. Same with DHEA. Hardly any studies mentioned hair loss since most were done for a week to a couple of months whereas it sometimes takes a few months for the hair loss to become obvious to the user of this hormone. Over my many decades of taking supplements and recommending them to patients, and having had feedback from tens of thousands of users, I find the cautious approach to be my preference

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Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 9, Issue 2 -- April, 2012
A friend of mine called me recently with an interesting anecdote. He said every time he eats several cloves of garlic, the next day he notices better erections and an enhanced libido. He wanted to know if this was a placebo effect or real. I have had many people mention this positive benefit to me in the past and I have experienced it myself. I think it may have to do with the powerful substances in garlic that help dilate blood vessels and improve circulation. See a list of other foods, spices, and herbs that have aphrodisiac qualities, http://www.raysahelian.com/aphrodisiacs.html. I think fresh garlic works much better than those in capsules. Plus, you can combine or consume it along with other aphrodisiac herbal supplements such as horny goat weed, tribulus, tongkat ali, or formulas such as Passion Rx for an even stronger effect. Garlic has many other benefits including the reduction of infections in the oral cavity and as a general anti-microbial. It could even reduce the severity of the common cold.
   Recently Dr. Oz, who has a TV show on health and alternative healing, has been mentioning several dietary supplements on his program including stevia, forskolin, green coffee extract, and schisandra. We have been getting lots of questions on these topics. We do have all of these products available.

Garlic does help with the common cold
Supplements of an aged garlic extract may reduce the days that a person suffers from cold and flu. The supplement was also found to enhance immune cells, particularly natural killer cells and gamma delta cells. Garlic also contains compounds with potential to modulate the immune system such as lectins, fructooligosaccharide, and apigenin. Researchers recruited 120 healthy subjects and randomly assigned them to receive a daily supplement of the aged garlic extract (2.5 grams) or placebo for 90 days. Results showed that the number of both types of immune cells increased more in the garlic group compared with the placebo group. Significant improvements were also reported for the number of symptoms, the number of days and incidences that people felt under the weather, as well as a decrease in days missed at work. See http://www.raysahelian.com/garlic.html. Fresh garlic works better but the downside to fresh garlic is that the breath odor can stay as long as 2 days, so it is not appropriate to those who are in close contact with others.

I wish cardiologists knew more about natural treatments for heart problems
Results published in the journal Circulation indicates that individuals with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA (mostly found in fish oils) have a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, a type of heart rhythm disturbance that often requires medication. Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, from the Harvard School of Public Health, says. "Given the aging of the population, the significant and growing public health burden of atrial fibrillation, and the limited treatment options once this heart condition develops, our results highlight the need to investigate atrial physiological and arrhythmic mechanisms affected by total and individual omega-3 fatty acids and to test their efficacy for preventing new onset of atrial fibrillation among older adults." See http://www.raysahelian.com/omega3.html.

Magnesium mineral reduces stroke risk
A meta-analysis was conducted to determine the evidence regarding the association between magnesium intake and stroke risk. It was found that dietary magnesium intake was inversely associated with risk of stroke, specifically ischemic stroke. In other words, those with higher levels of this mineral in their bloodstream had a lower incidence of sudden death of brain cells in a localized area due to inadequate blood flow. See http://www.raysahelian.com/magnesium.html

Still drinking some sodas? Perhaps its time to do so even less
Lab tests commissioned by a consumer group found that popular colas carry a caramel-coloring chemical( 4-methylimidazole or 4-MI) that causes cancer in lab animals. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) commissioned tests detected 4-MI in regular and diet Coca-Cola and Pepsi products -- in millionths of a gram per 12-ounce can. CSPI notes that these quantities are several times higher than a controversial benchmark set by the state of California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. CSPI petitioned the FDA to ban this kind of caramel coloring. It also wanted the cosmetic additive renamed "chemically modified caramel coloring" or "ammonia-sulfite process caramel coloring."

Coffee and blood pressure
A review on the sudden and longer-term effects of caffeine and coffee intake on blood pressure and on the association between habitual coffee consumption and risk of heart disease in individuals with hypertension was conducted. The administration of 200 to 300 mg caffeine produced an average increase of 8 mm Hg in systolic BP and of 6 mm Hg in diastolic BP. The increase in BP was observed in the first hour after caffeine intake and lasted greater than 3 hours. However, there was no change in BP with longer-term drinking. Current evidence does not support an association between longer-term coffee consumption and increased BP or between habitual coffee consumption and an increased risk of heart disease in hypertensive subjects. Http://www.raysahelian.com/coffee.html. It appears that drinking a cup of coffee in the morning is safe, unless in those who are extremely sensitive to caffeine and have trouble sleeping at night.

Emails
Q. I have enjoyed the information you provide for quite some time. Sometimes I have been surprised by your low vitamin B recommendations, but every time I take a B50 complex or even B25, I get at fast heart rate, feel overstimulated and such, and no doctor have ever understood that, but from reading your information it makes sense, is it really possible to get anxiety from high B vitamins?
   A. Yes. They do influence levels of brain chemicals and too much can cause adverse effects that you mention.

Q. I have now taken the recommended regimen of Passion Rx, one capsule before eating in the morning 2 days on, 1 day off, and there is no question that I am being lifted sexually, both in multiorgasmic recharge capability and in desire to bring myself to ejaculation. And my orgasms are getting longer. At least on the first orgasm of the day I am definitely shooting an increased amount of semen! I'm a retired man, 62, in great health and on no medications. I live alone, finally in a home I own, and I long ago decided that when I got to this stage of life, the sexual pleasure that I have enjoyed during my life would, uh, become my life (I do fish a lot, lol). I don't have the dreaded four hour erections-- no priapism-- but I'm certainly erect and masturbating four hours or more a day. Was even before Passion Rx, but there's no question that sex, my passion in life, has been enhanced by this product. I have never wanted to try Viagra or any of that stuff because I do not have erectile dysfunction. Thank you for making something that dovetails so well with my own needs available!

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Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 9, Issue 1 -- January, 2012
Too little versus too much. That is often the dilemma when considering taking dietary supplements. Many people are under the illusion that vitamins are not likely to be harmful even if taken in excess since they think the body can easily get rid of excess amounts. Many supplements contain higher amounts of nutrients than would be derived from food, and it is known that several compounds can be toxic in higher amounts, especially when consumed for a long time, as some of these accumulate to body, As the years and decades pass and we keep learning more about the complicated interactions these nutritional supplements have in health and disease, we are realizing that too little (a deficiency) can be undesirable while too much (excess supplementation) causes its own set of problems. Vitamin D is one such case. I often come across patients, friends, doctors and people I meet who boast that they are taking 5,000 or 10,000 units a day. They cite some epidemiological studies where those with high levels of this vitamin were found to have lower rates of cancer and other diseases. They think they are being smart in taking these massive dosages. Perhaps they are. But my belief, at this time, is that we are likely in the next few years to discover some undesirable effects from taking very high amounts. I am in favor of most people who do not have good sun exposure to taking 400 to 2000, or perhaps 3,000 units a day and I list some of my concerns in this article http://www.raysahelian.com/vitamind.html. See below for some new research regarding this topic.

Too much vitamin D harmful to heart?
Those with vitamin D deficiency have elevated risk for diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and depression, compared with people in the designated "normal" vitamin D range of 41-60 ng/mL. There seems to be little doubt that many people could well benefit from getting a little more sun exposure to allow their body to make more vitamin D or taking vitamin D pills. This could be of help for bone health and could have a protective benefit for the heart, and lower the risk for certain forms of cancer. But new evidence indicates that too much has its downsides. Dr. Muhammad Amer, an assistant professor in the division of general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine helped conduct a study on this topic which was published in the Jan. 15, 2012 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology. A review of five years of data from a national survey of more than 15,000 adults found that people with a normal levels of vitamin D had lower levels of a c-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation of the heart and blood vessels. On the other hand, when vitamin D levels rose beyond the low end of normal, CRP also increased, resulting in a greater risk for heart problems. The researcher warns, "People taking vitamin D supplements need to be sure the supplements are necessary. Those pills could have unforeseen consequences to health even if they are not technically toxic." http://www.raysahelian.com/creactiveprotein.html
   Another recent study indicates people with an excessive blood level of vitamin D from overdosing with supplements have a higher incidence of atrial fibrillation (a type of heart rhythm disturbance), based on a study of 132,000 residents of Utah and southeastern Idaho. This was reported at the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association.

DHEA reduces menopause symptoms, enhances sexuality
DHEA (a hormone available over the counter) works as well as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease menopausal symptoms and to improve women's sexual pleasure. In a year-long Italian study of 48 women, those who asked for HRT to treat menopausal symptoms were assigned to different treatments. Twelve women received a 10-mg doses of DHEA once a day. Another 12 women received combination hormone therapy, while 12 others received tibolone, a synthetic hormone replacement treatment used in countries outside the U.S. A fourth group of 12 postmenopausal women, who did not want HRT, received vitamin D plus calcium to prevent bone loss. At the end of the year, the women treated with DHEA had similar improvement in menopausal symptoms as the ones treated with HRT or tibolone.Those who took DHEA and those who received HRT reported improved sexual function. No similar improvement was seen in the women who got vitamin D. Measures of hormones in the blood showed DHEA increased "male" androgenic hormones while HRT increased "female" estrogens.
   At this time it is too early to know, in terms of long term benefits and risks, which is preferable, DHEA or standard HRT. And we also do not know if 10 mg of DHEA is the proper dosage or whether smaller amounts, such as 5 mg, would work as well. See http://www.raysahelian.com/dhea.html

Uterine fibroids, does diet play a role?
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women with a higher intake of fruits and vegetables had a reduced incidence of fibroids. http://www.raysahelian.com/fibroids.html

Do you really need all these tests?
According to current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines, routine screening for breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer are not advised once patients reach age 75 years, and routine screening for cervical cancer is not advised once patients reach age 65 years. See http://www.raysahelian.com/annualphysical.html

Myo-inositol may prevent gestational diabetes in PCOS women
This study suggests a possible effect of myo-inositol in the primary prevention of GD in PCOS women. See http://www.raysahelian.com/inositol.html

Emails
Melatonin sleep hormone safety
Q. I just read on the WebMD website that melatonin should only be taken if there is a circadian rhythm problem and only under close Dr. supervision. And you shouldnít take it if you are on other medications. What is Dr. Sahelianís opinion on this?
   A. I have been studying this topic since melatonin first came on the market in 1995 and I have seen no problems when people use 0.3 to 1 mg once or twice a week as long as they wish. I am not aware of any untoward reactions with medications at these dosages and frequencies. http://www.raysahelian.com/melatonin.html

Heart rhythm problems with lipoic acid
Q. I tried a 300 mg capsule of NaRLA (a stabilized form of r lipoic acid, newest form to hit the shelves), the bottle directions stating take 1 or 2 daily as tolerated, and had heart palpitations with shortness of breath thru the night (I took the pill with dinner). The next day my thinking was quite sharp and clear and energy level quite good. I laid off the stuff for a few days and thought maybe I'd try a much smaller dose next time. No noticeable problem on the lower dose and within minutes of taking had sharper thinking and articulation. Then tried a 300 mg capsule again thinking maybe it was something else that triggered the initial bad side effects. Well, I had an even worse reaction this time and felt like I might have to go to an ER. I'm on day 4 now since this happened, each day progressively better, last night slept well. Probably not completely out of the woods yet, seems like mild anxiety about anything gets magnified autonomically and heart/shortness of breath starts but not too bad. I'm generally a pretty laid back person, this is not the norm. Manufacturers of this product boast it's rapid assimilation as a selling point. Definitely a potent substance - not something to trifle with, a tiny bit goes a long way.
   A. Side effects of heart rhythm disturbances can occur with high dosages of any form alpha lipoic acid. http://www.raysahelian.com/lipoic.html

Questions
Q. Is there a natural cure for diabetes?
   A. If your diabetes is type II and early on in the disease, then one could consider diet and natural supplements to provide a natural cure for diabetes. Weight loss, restricting simple carbs, and exercise can certainly lead to a natural diabetes cure. Certain supplements could potentially be helpful, such as lipoic acid. However, the most important way to treat or cure type two diabetes is with diet and exercise.

Do you know of a natural cure for nail fungus?
   Yes, a natural cure for nail fungus can be found at the link provided.

Is there a natural cure for excessive appetite?
   Try Diet Rx, it is an effective appetite suppressant.

Natural Cures book
Kevin Trudeau, the million-selling author, infomercial star and convicted felon has written a sequel to his Natural Cures book. "More Natural Cures," was released in May, 2006. In it, Kevin Trudeau claims that diseases from diabetes to cancer can be treated without drugs or medical procedures. In "More Natural Cures," Trudeau endorses vitamin E, daily walks and organic sea salts and warns against deodorants, celibacy and farm-raised fish. Trudeau says the new book has a first printing of 1 million, a reasonable figure given the success of "Natural Cures." But as of June 30th, "More Natural Cures" ranked just 914 on Amazon.com, and both major superstore chains, Borders and Barnes & Noble, Inc., reported disappointing sales, noting the absence of Trudeau's greatest marketing asset: infomercials. Trudeau's TV spots have brought him wealth and trouble. In 2004, he reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission banning him from infomercials "that advertise any type of product, service, or program to the public, except for truthful infomercials for informational publications," according to the FTC. Trudeau was able to air infomercials for "Natural Cures" and says a new round would soon come out for "More Natural Cures." His legal record runs beyond infomercials. He pleaded guilty to larceny in 1990 in Massachusetts after being charged with depositing $80,000 in worthless checks. The following year, he pleaded guilty to credit-card fraud in federal district court and was sentenced to nearly two years in prison. The charges involved the use of credit-card numbers from customers of a memory-improvement course Trudeau was promoting, according to court records.

An opinion on Natural Cures book
One day I was waiting for a friend and had a few minutes to look through Natural Cures at Barnes and Noble. I spent about 15 minutes reading certain sections in various chapters. Natural Cures book disappointed me. There were many glaring errors and in one chapter where Kevin Trudeau mentions "natural cures" for certain conditions, it seemed just about every disease had a similar treatment. I agree with Kevin Trudeau that the medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry, and sometimes FDA have a bias against supplements, but he should have researched nutritional suggestions to treat medical conditions much better before publishing such a book read by millions.

Another book that I am not impressed by is natural causes.