Natural Healing Secrets
newsletter, formerly known as Supplement Research Update
See past issues from 2010 at Complementary Medicine.
See 2012 issues of the newsletter at Natural Cures.
Emails received 2011
I enjoy your using science balanced by a humane and human point of view. . .and the humility of not being absolute.
Hi Dr. Sahelian – first and foremost, I’ve been a fan of yours for at least as long as you’ve had your website. Thank you, please keep up the “W O N D E R F U L” work that you do, I’m not sure what your millions of fans would do with out you.
Have been reading a lot of your web posts. They always contain very valuable information and I thank you for all of that. I like to read from several different sources then combine the general premise. You have become a trusted source in my research.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 8, Issue 9 -- December, 2011
Can we really trust "official" medical recommendations and guidelines?
Unfortunately we live in a world where profit often comes before truth or honesty. New reviews suggest a majority of panel members who gather to write clinical practice guidelines have conflicts of interest. In other words they may be recommending medications or procedures that may benefit the pharmaceutical companies or lab/testing/imaging related companies with whom they have some sort of association. In general only 16% of panel members from government-sponsored guidelines such as the USPSTF were found to have conflicts, versus 69% of non-governmental entities such as the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. Oct. 11, 2011, BMJ, online.
Common cold relief?
If you are starting to come down with a cold, do zinc lozenges help reduce symptoms or the number of days you suffer? A comprehensive review of Medline, Scopus and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials data bases showed daily doses of over 75 mg resulted in a 40 percent reduction in the duration of colds. Here are practical ways on how to use this mineral:
Allow a zinc lozenge containing 10 to 20 mg of zinc in the form of gluconate, gluconate/glycine, or zinc acetate to dissolve in the back of your mouth. Keep the lozenge in the mouth for at least 5 minutes or as long as you can. Swallowing the lozenge early reduces its effectiveness. After the lozenge has melted, wait an hour and place another one in your mouth. Repeat the zinc lozenge every hour for four hours and then reduce the frequency to every three hours while awake. If you wake up in the middle of the night, take the zinc lozenge again. Some side effects include nausea and discomfort in the palate which may limit use. See http://www.raysahelian.com/zinclozenge.html
Resveratrol for weight loss?
Obese men who take 150 mg of a daily dose of the supplement resveratrol -- found as a natural compound in red wine -- appear to improve their metabolism as much as if they were on a strict low-calorie diet. This substance has been in the news as an anti-aging agent. Perhaps lower dosages could also be of benefit since it can be expensive taking this much and we still don't have a good idea of potential short and long term adverse reactions. See http://www.raysahelian.com/resveratrol.html
Ginkgo herb helps those with dementia
Researchers investigated the effects of gingko biloba extract in 410 patients with mild to moderate dementia. They were randomized to receive either 240 mg of a gingko biloba extract or placebo for 24 weeks. Treatment with the herb led to improvements in motivation and mood. The researchers say, "These findings suggest that gingko biloba extract is a safe and effective treatment option to reduce behavioral and psychiatric symptoms in patients with mild to moderate dementia." See http://www.raysahelian.com/ginkgo.html
Are you vegetarian? This supplement could help you
Creatine plays an important role in the production of energy and in the process of building muscle tissue. Many people take it successfully to increase muscle mass. Young adult women, both vegetarians and omnivores, were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or 20 grams of creatine supplement daily for five days. There was an improvement in memory in the vegetarians who were consuming creatine as compared with those taking placebo. See http://www.raysahelian.com/creatine.html
Do you really need a PSA test for prostate cancer
There is accumulating evidence that the PSA test does not save lives over all and often leads to more tests and treatments that needlessly cause pain, impotence and incontinence. In the frenzied hunt for cancer detection, the risks of screenings often get overlooked. Besides producing anxiety, screening people for cancer can itself cause injuries -- even death -- or set off a cascade of expensive tests and treatments that can waste more money and create more problems. See http://www.raysahelian.com/psa.html and also http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/health/07prostate.html?_r=2&hp.
Q. I'm a naturopath and every time there's a new wonder supplement, I ask myself if and/or which should I ditch in favor of the new one. Now it's astaxanthin which is allegedly the strongest antioxidant. If this is the case, should people continue to take R-alpha lipoic acid and/or ubiquinol or others? I'd like to give my patients the best but not overshoot – for health and financial reasons.
A. The whole issue of antioxidant supplementation is quite complicated and it is not easy to give simple answers, but I prefer using lower dosages of several antioxidants rather than one. Another option is to alternae their use. I also suggest not getting caught up in the hype and to wait for long term human studies, which are lacking with astaxanthin. See http://www.raysahelian.com/antioxidant.html
What is your take on vitamin E and prostate cancer? Do you advise
discontinuing it's use? I read a study that followed up on men who took
high doses, 400 mg, of the vitamin daily for about five years found they
had a slightly increased risk of
prostate cancer — even after they quit taking the pills.
A. I am not a big proponent of high doses of vitamin intake and don't think people should take more than 100 units of vitamin E complex a day. However, this study had two major flaws. The dosages of vitamin E given to patients was very high at 400 units a day, and it was in a synthetic form as all rac-α-tocopheryl acetate as opposed to a natural vitamin E complex that includes a variety of several natural forms of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Therefore the jury is still out regarding how small amounts of a natural vitamin E complex influence prostate cancer risk. See http://www.raysahelian.com/vitamine.html
Q. I have been using Passion Rx with Yohimbe for about a year and have
found the results for sex drive and sensitivity to be excellent. I also
like the increased energy and find that as long as I take it first thing
in the morning that it does not affect my sleep. Taking 2 pills in the
morning for 2 or 3 days in a row and then staying off seems to make the
product more affective for this purpose. Can I take additional tongkat
ali at the same time? Also I also use Viagra about 50mg prior to sex but that would
be on the day off after 3 days of Passion Rx.
A. It is best not to take them together since they are both potent, but one can alternate their use. Tongkat ali works well as an aphrodisiac but has unpleasant side effects on high dosages. See http://www.raysahelian.com/tongkat_ali.html
I just wanted to say how thankful I am for your page on Sam-e. Several members in my family take high doses for resistant depression which I also seem have. I am under the care of a MD but I seem to be hard to medicate. So I thought I would try Sam-e. They take 800mg so I thought I would try 400mg. I feel like I am out of my ever-living mind with anxiety and depression so I thought I would google side effects. Yours was the first page. Reading that it can increase anxiety has already put my mind at ease. Just knowing that this anxiety could be related to SAM-e gives me what I need to make it through the day! So thank you for your thoroughness.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 8, Issue 8 -- September, 2011
Prebiotics help digestion and immune system
A double-blind study of college students aimed to find out the health benefits of prebiotic supplements. The students were randomized to receive 0, 2.5 or 5 grams of a galactooligosaccharide prebiotic product for eight weeks before, during and after final exams. Those who took the supplements had fewer symptoms of gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and abdominal pain. The normal-weight students receiving the 5 gram prebiotic supplement experienced a 40 percent reduction in days with cold or flu although no effect was observed in obese participants. These findings suggest that galactooligosaccharide prebiotics may provide beneficial protection during times of increased stress. See http://www.raysahelian.com/prebiotic.html
Turmeric, curcumin for lupus
The effects of oral curcumin supplementation was tested on patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis. The present study was conducted in Lupus clinic of Hafez Hospital, Out-Patient Department of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Israel. With each meal each patient in the trial group received 3 capsules daily for 3 months, each capsule contained 500 mg turmeric, of which 22 mg was the active ingredient curcumin. A significant decrease in protein lost in the urine was found. Also, systolic blood pressure and blood in the urien were found to decrease significantly. The researchers say, "Short-term turmeric supplementation can decrease proteinuria, hematuria, and systolic blood pressure in patients suffering from relapsing or refractory lupus nephritis and can be used as an adjuvant safe therapy for such patients." See http://www.raysahelian.com/lupus.html
Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and may be of benefit in conditions that are caused by inflammation such as arthritis and tendonitis. See http://www.raysahelian.com/curcumin.html
Diet does influence acne, despite what many
More studies are confirming the role of diet as an influence in acne eruptions. People with acne may have a tendency to secrete excess insulin and foods that are low in the glycemic index may contribute to the hormonal control of acne. There is some suggestion that dairy products may contribute to acne. For people who believe their skin reacts to eating chocolate, it probably has more to do with the sugar than the cocoa. See this article for a list of low glycemic foods, http://www.raysahelian.com/glycemicindex.html and natural ways to improve acne at http://www.raysahelian.com/acne.html
Q. I am a 37 year old male from the UK, I have suffered from mild depression for 3-5 years and 3 months ago discovered 5HTP. I started taking 50 mg first thing in the morning and 50 mg at night. Within a week I felt 100% better and have done ever since, it really is a wonder substance that has changed my life, I am no longer moody or grumpy and feel happy again (I had forgotten what this felt like).
A. Some people do have a quick and effective positive reaction to this nutrient. http://www.raysahelian.com/5-htp.html
Q. Why is magnesium stearate still in supplements when
long term it is so bad for us? I read that it creates a sticky lining
over the intestines so nutrients can't get through.
A. There are many websites that make this claim about magnesium stearate but there is no scientific evidence that the tiny amounts found in capsules cause problems. As to limiting nutrient absorption, whoever makes this claim has little knowledge of human anatomy. The intestinal lining is so vast that there is no possible way the tiny amounts of MS found in capsules can cover the whole surface area and prevent nutrient absorption. See http://www.raysahelian.com/magnesiumstearate.html for a full review of this topic.
Q. Love the Passion Rx with Yohimbe! :). The effects were long lasting for both myself and my husband. We ordered the 8 capsule sample. I took one a day for 6 days and he took one a day for 2 days. I am still feeling the effects. It is obvious. My husband had been taking another natural product for sexual enhancement for about 3 months and got the same result within 2 days with the Passion Rx as he got in 3 months worth of using the other. This is no joke. We ordered 2 bottles now. :)
Q. A few months ago an herbalist prescribed 600 mg of
alpha lipoic acid for nerve damage and auto-immune symptoms. Within
three weeks I developed very disturbing heart rate irregularities and
drops in blood pressure. The herbalist had no idea what was causing my
pvc's and pac's (documented by a Holtor monitor), nor did two
cardiologists. I suffered with these symptoms for about three months,
until I began experiencing increased nerve pain in my foot, and I
decided to cut my ALA dosage to 300 mg. to see if it had any effect on
the pain. What it did was stop my palpitations completely! My blood
pressure, which sometimes fell, often preceded by a flurry of
irregularity in my chest, normalized within a few days of lowering the
dosage. You are the only source on the internet that I've found that
mentions these potential side-effects of alpha-lipoic-acid at higher
doses. My herbalist says he's never heard of anyone having heartbeat
issues with ALA. I appreciate your website and conservative approach.
Many people have reported this side effect to us and I have experienced it myself when I tried very high dosages. http://www.raysahelian.com/lipoic.html
Q. First, I would like to thank you for the valuable
information on your website. Secondly, I have purchased tribulus,
tongkat and some other aphrodisiac herbs and am taking them to help
boost testosterone levels and sexuality. Do people normally develop
tolerance to these herbs. For example I know that humans develop
tolerance to certain drugs and stop feeling their effects or they might
need higher doses to feel the same effect. Is it better to take them
once or twice a week? Will I develop tolerance or will I see better
results with continuous use?
A. I prefer not to use them daily for long periods. There are a number of ways to space them out. You could take a capsule every other day or you could take them for a week and then take a week off. The best way is to self experiment since each person responds differently. The general idea is to use them the least amount that still provide benefits. See http://www.raysahelian.com/aphrodisiacs.html
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 8, Issue 7 -- July, 2011
Have you heard of goji berries? They grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. They are usually found dried and look like red raisins. Goji berries have been used for thousands of years by herbalists in China and surrounding regions. Historically, they are claimed to be of benefit for eye health. Now research seems to confirm these benefits.
Common medications increase the risk for heart rhythm
In a newly published study from Denmark, use of non-selective, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as Motrin and Naprosyn) and Cox-2 inhibitors was associated with a significantly increased risk for atrial fibrillation. For natural ways to reduce the risk of A Fib, see http://www.raysahelian.com/atrialfibrillation.html
How much vitamin D is
safe to take?
Q. In your prior newsletters you have cautioned about not taking too much vitamin D, more than 3000 units a day. How can one overdose on vitamin D? People get thousands of units just being in the sun for an hour! I take 10,000 daily since my level was 15 (The normal range is 30 to 70 nanograms per milliliter).
A. I guess we will find out ten or twenty years from now whether people who are taking massive amounts will be healthier or worse off. Getting vitamin D through a pill through intestinal absorption may have some effects that may be different than getting it from the sun through the skin. There are a lot of unknowns and some early evidence indicates that calcification has been noted in the brain of those with very high levels and there seems to be an increased risk for kidney stones when combined with calcium. It's a gamble at this time and if people wish to take this gamble (that is, by taking more than 5000 units a day), it is up to them. I can't predict yet who is going to be right ten or twenty years from now. For decades doctors thought taking calcium 1000 to 1500 mg daily for osteoporosis was safe, too, until we learned that high amounts increase the risk for heart disease and stroke due to excess calcification of blood vessels.
What can I eat or take to put weight on, I'm always skinny?
Most people would very much like to be in a position to gain weight. Eating high density calorie foods such as raw nuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, as snacks throughout the day can help and eating more whole grains, potatoes, etc. Plus it is a good idea to do some muscle training for muscle mass gain, too. See http://www.raysahelian.com/howtogainweight.html for additional suggestions.
Addison's disease report
I was diagnosed with Addison's about a year ago and was started on 40mg of hydrocortisone. I have gradually weaned myself down to 25mg, but my endo would like me to get it down to 10 -15 mg per day. I have found this impossible and went searching for something that might help. After have done some thorough research into pregnenolone - the most use useful being your site - I figured there might be a chance it would let me reduce my hydrocorisone. I have been taking 10mg no more than two days in a row, with at least one day between doses, sometimes much longer. The effects are almost instant. I can take 20 mg of hydrocortisone and not only feel fine but have a much enhanced sense of well-being, energy, focus, ability to plan and cope with stress. It also gives me a very slight rise in libido - and I've had no libido whatsoever for a decade or so, so this is significant. I would suggest proceeding extremely cautiously, but occasional use of pregnenolone might be a good alternative to DHEA for some. I also feel no sense of withdrawal on the days I don't take it. See http://www.raysahelian.com/pregnenolone.html
Curcumin / turmeric for arthritis
I began taking 1 gram of turmeric curcumin several years ago for possible Alzheimer’s prevention. Both my father and father-in-law have Alzheimer’s, and my personal physician agreed it certainly wouldn’t hurt and might just help. Recently, I came across several articles about the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric being tested for arthritis as well, and decided to increase my dose to 2 grams per day. I had been experiencing arthritic pain in my thumb and hip for over a year and was concerned about the NSAIDs (like Motrin, Naproxen) which I was taking at increasing doses and frequency…as well as the very limited relief I was getting. I was already taking 1500mg Glucosamine/1200mg Chondroitin/MSM daily. After a week or two at the 2 gram dose of turmeric, my arthritis pain is virtually GONE and I haven’t taken any other NSAIDs. See http://www.raysahelian.com/turmeric.html
I just wanted to let you know that CMO has completely removed my arthritis pain. I had been taking cat's claw and curcurmin, with little result. After only one week of taking CMO 1000mg a day the pain had gone. I took it for a couple of months. Before that it was difficult to reverse the car, as I could hardly turn my neck, it was so painful. I still continue with the cucurmin and cat's claw and take fish oil. This is the first time ever that I can say I definitely felt an improvement with ANY supplement. Most of them I take in the hope that they will keep me healthy as I grow older! See http://www.raysahelian.com/cmo.html
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 8, Issue 6 -- June, 2011
I am a journalist researching an article for a major woman's magazine. There have been many reports lately about how our diets
affect our chances of developing Alzheimer's, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and
other debilitating diseases. During the course of my research I came across your
website. I like the fact you temper what you say with caution and
say that many studies are inclusive and contradictory. People want a magic
cure-all and as a writer I am cautious about saying – eat tomatoes and you will
be fine. What are your thoughts about the influence of diet on these conditions?
Diet (over a lifetime) is underestimated by the medical profession as having a strong influence on disease initiation and progression, or prevention. In my opinion I think there are many medical diseases that are strongly influenced by diet, for instance diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, certain forms of cancer, etc., whereas others have a stronger genetic influence, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or childhood cancers whereas even though diet may have an influence on the severity of these conditions, dietary changes and/or the use of supplements alone are not likely to be curative (as far as we know now).
Joint pain relief in a dog
Just wanted to stop in and thank you for the wonderful product Joint Power Rx. Your site says that it takes 4 to 6 months for improvement but I can tell you that it saved my dog a very painful joint surgery within 1 month. She is a 10 year old Queensland Heeler and is back to herding like a young dog again. I am so impressed that I have put my other dogs on it as well and am going to start taking it myself. It is just a great product! My Heeler weighs in at 35 lbs and I gave her 2 capsules each day for about 2 weeks when she showed a marked improvement; I then dropped her to one a day and she continues to do great! I can't afford to give it to the horses too... can u imagine how many capsules they would take? One horse weighs 1200 lbs. If a dose is based on 150 lbs and its 4 capsules for that weight my 1200 pounder would need 30 capsules per day... holy cow! OH well, keep making the stuff for me and my pooches..
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 8, Issue 4 -- May, 2011
A close family member recently had chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer. After completion of the treatments her oncologist suggested she no longer consume soy products. Does consuming soy influence breast cancer in a negative way? I review the results of past and recent studies and provide you with my opinion on this topic
Is it necessary to stop eating soy after breast
Breast cancer survivors, have, for years, been advised to avoid soy foods and supplements because of estrogen-like effects that might theoretically lead to tumors to grow. This has never made sense to me since I have followed the research on this topic for a couple of decades and have not seen any proof that this advice is warranted. A new study of more than 18,000 women shows that consuming soy foods does not increase risk of breast cancer recurrence. Dr. Xiao Oh Shu, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, says, "Soy has many anticancer properties, antioxidants, nutrients, micronutrients, or vitamins that may contribute to its beneficial effect on health." Data was reviewed from four large studies of women with a history of breast cancer who had consumed soy foods. After an average of nine years post breast cancer diagnosis, women who consumed the highest amount of soy had a slightly lower risk of dying from any cause and a 15% reduced risk for breast cancer recurrence, compared to women who consumed little or no soy. These findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 102nd Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida in 2011.
My thoughts: I know there are many people out there who have a negative viewpoint regarding soy products, often due to reading articles on the internet that blast soy and unfairly blame all kinds of health issues as a consequence of its ingestion, but I think we should take a reasoned and balanced approach. The bottom line, in my opinion, is that some people are sensitive or are allergic to it and do not tolerate it well and thus should not consume it. However, most women benefit from organic fermented soy consumption, at least in small amounts, as part of a diet that has a variety of foods and there is no reason for women who have had breast cancer to avoid it completely. See http://www.raysahelian.com/soyprotein.html
Q. People sometimes take anti-depressants for a lifetime. Do you know of any reason one can't take the clinical dose of St. John's wort (900 mg per day) for a lifetime?
A. Both short term use and long term use of this natural antidepressant are associated with side effects. Human studies are not available to know the full extent of safety when St. John's wort is used regularly for several years. I prefer taking a week off each month or two and to substitute other natural antidepressants during that period such as 5HTP or SAM-e. See http://www.raysahelian.com/stjohn.html for a list of potential adverse reactions and safety issues.
Q. I have been reading all sorts of things about creatine
monohydrate recently and how it could have a side effect of liver damage
and preventing your body from producing its own creatine. Is this rumor of side effects just
another thing the media has blown up?
A. Thus far, as long as daily the dosage of creatine monohydrate is 4 grams or less, with a day or two off each week and a few days off each month, I do not foresee any liver or kidney damage and I don't think it would prevent the body from making its own. This nutrient is the best supplement I know of to build larger muscles. It works. See http://www.raysahelian.com/creatine.html
Dr Sahelian, I appreciate your cautious approach in recommended
supplements. For the last year I have had moderate to severe foot and leg
pain, and have gone to every type doctor imaginable. I was finally
diagnosed by a neurologist with peripheral neuropathy, and prescribed
Neurontin. I was hesitant to take this drug, so I went to another
neurologist at the University of Colorado Hospital for a second opinion.
He noticed that I was taking a vitamin B supplement, thought I may be
getting too much B6 and that that could be the cause of my pain. He had
me tested for B6 levels. They were way above normal, so I stopped taking
the two capsules of B 50 supplements a day (each had 50 mg of B6). Within a few weeks of ceasing the B supplements almost
all of the pain was gone, and my B6 levels had returned to normal.
I don't know how common this is, but in my case I had been incorrectly
led to believe that there were no side effects from large doses of B
vitamins. The side effect for me was severe, and changed my life.
A. Thanks for sharing. More than 100 mg of vitamin B6 a day may cause nerve damage. Some people erroneously think that since B vitamins are water soluble no amount can cause problems.
Q. I am writing to say thank you so much for your insights, free products and sample products that you offer us to try out before purchasing it. I ordered Diet Rx last week and within hours of taking one pill I had no desire whatsoever to eat any sweets. I felt calmer as well. I went grocery shopping and out of habit I purchased some cookies and they actually sat in the cabinet for 2 whole days. This is truly a miracle for me!!! I usually devour the whole bag of cookies in one or two days. I did eat a few cookies on the third day, but to my surprise I didn't eat the whole row. This product is TRULY AMAZING!!! I will continue to use this product. Thanks again!! Warm regards, I'm looking forward to trying out Eyesight Rx product next!
Q. Why do so many people want to grow very old? I would rather
when I am still healthy than hang around and have decreasing abilities
and enjoyment of life. I am 32 years so I have had time to think about this.
A. For most people growing old beats the alternative -- dying young. If you live to be 70 or 80 years old and happen to still be relatively healthy, chances are you will not want to die suddenly just yet, especially if you have children and grandchildren who you love and who love you back. The way we look at things and our opinions change over time and when you become older you may start to think differently about this issue. I, personally, have changed many opinions with time.
Q. Is cow
milk beneficial for adult human consumption?
A. For thousands of years or more people have been drinking cow's milk. I think some people drink too much of it and eat too many dairy products, but, as a general rule, unless a person has an allergy to dairy products, is lactose intolerant or has bad effects from such consumption, for most people small to moderate amounts should offer benefits without much downside.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 8, Issue 3 -- April, 2011
The nuclear disaster in Japan has a lot of people worried about radiation exposure. Here is a typical email we received, "Due to the concern of more radioactivity possibly reaching the US from Japan I am thinking of getting a few bottles of iodine for my family. Just in case....always better to be safe than sorry. I'd rather have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. Do you think that's a good idea?" Although the situation in Japan is changing daily, at this time I do not see a reason to worry unless you live close to the nuclear facilities. I have started a web article that I update regularly that you can take a look at every few days to see what kind of precautions to take and whether you need to take iodine, see http://www.raysahelian.com/radiationexposurenaturaltreatment.html. There are some websites that are scaring people into taking immediate action even if they live thousands of miles away. For instance a friend emailed me an article she had read that scared her. It was posted on the internet and said, "The information we are receiving from CNN and the other stations is only partial and designed to protect the nuclear industry. Governments are not usually forthcoming with data that would create panic or anger toward incompetence or negligence. The jet stream is blowing contaminated material over Hawaii now and the west coast and we want to protect our most vulnerable gland, the thyroid. Begin eating seaweed now, especially kelp. If you have iodine tablets or drops, begin using those in low doses for the next several weeks." Should you follow the scare tactics of such information? Do you really need to take iodine pills? My article presents a calmer perspective.
Chondroitin study is encouraging for arthritis
In this new study completed at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre, chondroitin sulphate, at a dosage of 800 mg daily, reduced cartilage volume loss in knee osteoarthritis patients starting as early as 6 months after initiation of therapy. See http://www.raysahelian.com/chondroitin.html for details. As you may know, glucosamine and chondroitin are popular supplements used by many older individuals to prevent or reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Diet influences endometriosis
Researchers at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, MA, analyzed 12 years of prospective data from the Nurses' Health Study. They found women with a high intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (ie fish oils) were less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis. And women with the highest intake of trans-unsaturated fat intake were more likely to have the condition. See http://www.raysahelian.com/endometriosis.html
Can your hair growing or prostate pill make you lose
interest in sex, permanently?
Dutasteride (Avodart) and finasteride (Proscar and Propecia) are medications frequently used to treat hair loss or an enlarged prostate. In some men these drugs may contribute to irreversible sexual dysfunction. In a small percentage of cases, loss of libido and impotence persist even after the medication is stopped. For details and how to reverse the sexual dysfunction with natural herbs and formulas, see http://www.raysahelian.com/finasteride.html
Q. I have been reading online that there are two types of supplement vitamins;
synthetic and organic (from food). According to these articles the supplements
are not the same since the synthetic supplements do not provide proper nutrition as
do the organic. These articles say that synthetics are isolated
substances rather that complete natural vitamins. What are your
A. There are many nutrients such as CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid, acetyl l carnitine and many others that are made synthetically and happen to be exactly the same molecule or compound the body uses. There are other supplements, such as vitamin C, that can come purely as ascorbic acid (which is quite a healthy thing to take and is a powerful antioxidant) or combined with bioflavonoids, as in rose hips for instance (which also are great antioxidants). Vitamin E is another example where a natural complex which has alpha, delta, gamma tocopherols is superior to the synthetic version dl-alpha tocopherol. Generalizations are not helpful in this area. Each nutrient, substance, vitamin, supplement, etc. has to be evaluated on its own to see whether the synthetic is as good as the ones naturally found in food. It's not as black and white as one would assume.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 8, Issue 2 -- February, 2011
What we eat does influence the
course of many chronic medical conditions. In this issue I review a
study that shows the role of diet in Parkinson's disease. Most doctors
do not realize that food intake influences neurodegenerative conditions
that affect the brain.
We keep getting lots of interesting questions by email and I have included answers to some that I thought would be of interest to the general reader.
Have you ever tried stevia, the natural no calorie sweetener? If you enjoy it, you are being provided a free bottle of stevia clear liquid, all you have to do is pay for the shipping cost. If you are already buying another product, adding this stevia bottle to your cart will not increase the shipping cost. Only one free bottle per order. If you have tried other stevia brands in the past and have been disappointed with an aftertaste, you will be pleasantly surprised. Two or three drops in tea or coffee is enough to sweeten it. You can also make wonderful lemonade with it that your kids would love.
Berries reduce the risk OF
A study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, shows anthocyanins, found in berries and other red/purplish fruits and vegetables, offer protection against Parkinson's disease in both men and women. Dr. Xiang Gao, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School recommends two cups of berries a week. For the study, Dr. Xiang Gao collected data on over 49,000 men who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and more than 80,000 women from the Nurses' Health Study. After 22 years of follow-up it was found that those who consumed the most anthocyanins had a lower risk. Dr. Carlos Singer, a professor of neurology at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, and an expert in Parkinson's disease, thinks this has to do with an antioxidant effect. For more information, see http://www.raysahelian.com/anthocyanins.html
In a recent survey, the most popular supplements that Americans are currently taking include fish oils, multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and CoQ10.
Q. How does a person know if they are taking too many supplements?
A. This is a good question. Much depends on the type of supplements that are being used. As to short term, if a person is experiencing being too alert and restless, too energetic, anxious, having rapid heart beat, insomnia, fatigue, increased body temperature, etc., it could be due to taking too many. As to long term, it is difficult to know or predict what effect too high a dose of a supplement would do in terms of overall influence on heart disease, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cancer incidence, or longevity. For instance many people are taking 5000 or 10000 units of vitamin D a day, we won't know until years or decades from now whether they will have complications (premature hardening or calcification of blood vessels and tissues) and die sooner or live longer (lower rate of cancer and other diseases). I prefer using lower dosages but others feel confident based on current knowledge in taking megadoses.
Acai berry and weight loss
I been taking acai berry capsules twice a day and I would like to know how many capsules I should take in a day to lose 10 pounds.
Many of you have probably come across internet ads that claim acai berry intake leads to weight loss. However, there is no proof that this berry works for this purpose even though it has other health benefits. I suggest taking a look at http://www.raysahelian.com/weightloss.html for better options.
Combining SSRI antidepressants with 5-HTP natural
Q. I am trying a low dose of the prescription antidepressant Lexapro 5mg along with 100mg 5-HTP and it is working ! To avoid major interactions I take 5-htp first thing in the morning and Lexapro at lunch time.
A. It is possible to effectively use a combination of a prescription medication for depression and 5HTP but one has be aware daily of what the interaction is doing and then make regular changes of dosage up or down. Sometimes a particular dosage combination can be fine for a few days or weeks then the effects could accumulate and become excessive or toxic. It's a case by case basis and one has to be aware of any untoward symptoms that could occur. I think many patients who have depression could benefit from a combination of a SSRI medication and 5-HTP in a dosage of 50 mg or 100 mg as long as the dosage of the prescription antidepressant is kept very low and communication lines with the prescribing physician are kept open. See http://www.raysahelian.com/5-htp.html
Checking blood levels of vitamins and supplements
Q. Since so many people are getting their information from so many conflicting sources today, wouldn't it be wise to ask patients what supplements they are taking and amounts, and when routine blood work is being done, check these levels so that one knows exactly how much of each supplement to take?
A. This sounds logical on the surface but it is not practical. First there is the cost of testing which could be in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars depending how many of the hundreds of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, hormones, fatty acids, amino acids, etc., are tested. Second there is the fluctuation in the levels of these substances that occur in the body based on a number of factors including diet, activity level, season, etc. Third there is the difficulty of interpretation of results. Given the same set of results, different doctors and nutrition experts will give different opinions on how much to tale more of or less of. Fourth, different labs could give different results since no testing is perfect. Fifth, the level of a nutrient in the blood does not necessarily reflect the levels in organs, tissues, and cells. For instance, there could be a high level in hair and a low level in breast tissue or the skin, but yet the blood study could show a normal result. Sixth, people can have negative reactions to a supplement even if blood levels are normal. The body is infinitely more complicated than many people realize. There are some basic supplements one should consider if they wish to take without the need for blood testing, and they are discussed at http://www.raysahelian.com/diet.html
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 8, Issue 1 -- January, 2011
Happy New Year to everyone and I hope 2011 is a year of blessings to all of us. One of the major tenets of happiness is to reevaluate what we already have, whether it is the abundance of food on the table and in grocery stores, the abundance of water out of our faucets, the fact that there are no ongoing wars, famines, or catastrophic floods or environmental disasters on our land; to re-appreciate our connections with our parents, siblings, children, and so many other things we take for granted.
We have had many interesting email questions and comments lately and I want to share them with you along with my thoughts and answers.
Many of you have heard of probiotics, a term for the friendly bacteria that are ingested through some fermented foods such as in yoghurt. Probiotics are also sold as dietary supplements. The term prebiotic refers to food ingredients, mostly complex carbohydrates that are not digested, that stimulate the growth or activity of certain bacteria in the colon. In a recent study healthy volunteers consumed 10 grams daily of very inulin prebiotic derived from globe artichoke for three weeks. Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli friendly bacterial counts were significantly higher in the inulin group compared to the placebo group. Previous studies have shown that prebiotics can lower cholesterol levels, reduce problems with constipation, and perhaps reduce the risk for colon cancer. See http://www.raysahelian.com/inulin.html and also http://www.raysahelian.com/prebiotic.html
I recently had a patient who reported having difficulty sleeping for the past few months. He is a 46 year old landscape architect and had been to two other doctors who had not spent too much time with him to figure our the root cause but had prescribed sleeping pills instead. One doctor prescribed Ambien, the other prescribed Restoril. Even though these sleeping pills worked well, he just did not want to rely on them. Plus, he was noticing that they were affecting his memory. I did a thorough review of his dietary and lifestyle history. A few months ago he had heard on the news of the health benefits of green tea. As a result he had started with a cup or two a day but had gradually increased this to 4 to 6 cups a day, thinking the more the better not realizing that some of the stimulants in the green tea were causing the shallow sleep. Within three days of stopping the green tea his sleep resumed back to normal. Although tea drinking has many benefits, one has to be cautious not to overdo it, just like coffee. He plans to resume drinking only one or two cups a day, and not any after lunch. See http://www.raysahelian.com/sleep.html
I'm someone who's been researching and experimenting with health on a personal and academic level for a few years, and over the years I've realized that your positioning on the topic is incredibly mature and realistic, and for this I appreciate you and your work. I did not actually fully realize your value until reaching my own plateaus of maturity.
Thank you so much. Just as with emotional and social maturity, and wisdom, it takes several decades of learning the science, self-experimenting, having feedback from thousands of patients and users of supplements, keeping an open mind to change viewpoints based on new facts and data, attending health shows and medical conferences, listening to scientists discuss their latest findings, and constantly reading new research... to have some understanding of the vast complexity of the human body and the role of nutraceuticals. I am sometimes criticized for being too cautious on my dosage recommendations but there is a reason for my caution. For instance, back in the mid 1990s I was criticized by many in the vitamin industry for cautioning people regarding the high dosages of DHEA sold over the counter. Later we discovered that many people were losing their scalp hair from the androgenic effects and some people were getting heart rhythm disturbances. People who have not studied these topics for decades do not realize the complexity of the human body and the complex interactions that nutraceuticals have in the body, especially when used in combinations or together with prescription medications. I took several decades to find out that perhaps the apparently simple recommendations of taking 1,000 mg or more of calcium for menopausal women may actually increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. Now, people are on the vitamin D megadose rage taking 10,000 units or more. I have been criticized again for showing restraint and cautioning people not to take massive amounts of vitamin D until more studies are published.
I am currently taking 5,000 units of vitamin
D a day because I have heard so much good news about it. But sometimes I
am concerned whether I am doing the right thing. Can you share your
thoughts on this?
There are many individuals, and physicians, who do not take into account the unknown risks of supplementation when it comes to taking them for decades. Perhaps 5,000 units a day for decades may turn out to be the right amount to take, but since long term human studies are not available to know what overall benefit or harm will occur from high amounts, at this point it is a gamble. 5000, or 10,000 iu, could turn out to reduce the risk for osteoporosis, cancer, other medical conditions and increase longevity, but then again we may find years or decades later that high intake accelerates calcium deposit in various tissues of the body. These calcium deposits could occur in the brain leading to early dementia, they could occur in blood vessels leading to hardening of the arteries, they could occur in the sinus node of the heart leading to heart rhythm disturbances, or many other areas of the body thus interfering with optimal function. Each person has to make their own decision based on their interpretation of the current data. For now, I prefer taking less. See http://www.raysahelian.com/vitamind.html
I have been taking DHEA hormone daily since the fall of
2004 in combination with my other vitamins and wondered what your
opinion was that one should not take DHEA unless they have there blood levels
This is a good question. One has to determine the reason for taking the hormone supplement in the first place. Is it for "anti-aging" purposes? If so, there is no proof at this time that doing so increases longevity. (Nor is there any proof yet that taking other hormones, including human growth hormone, increases longevity(. Is it for hormone replacement therapy after menopause to relieve symptoms? In that case I don't see the need to check levels, the dosage will depend on symptom relief and one should take it in as low a dose that works and for as brief a time period that is necessary. Is the purpose is for sexual enhancement, it can be taken for short periods of time, for instance a few days a month, and then off. If additional libido enhancement is desired, there are quite a number of effective herbal aphrodisiacs. As you can see, in the majority of situations for which DHEA is taken, I do not see the need for blood testing. Unless a person has a serious medical condition which a physician believes is due to significant adrenal malfunction, testing for DHEA levels is not necessary. Plus, it is very difficult to determine the appropriate dosage of DHEA supplements based on testing. If you showed a blood level test to 10 doctors and asked what dosage they would recommend based on the blood level, you are likely to get close to 10 different answers. The interpretation of DHEA saliva testing is difficult and different labs may have different ways of testing, making interpretation even more complicated (and test levels could easily vary throughout the day). Even a difference of two or three hours can lead to marked blood level variations. For instance, if your blood test one day was at 9 am and a couple of months later you had a blood test at 11 am, the circadian blood level changes that normally occur throughout the day can give you a different number. To sum up, I do not see the reason to test for DHEA levels if the hormone is used occasionally. If a person plans to use it as hormone replacement in low doses, such as 1 to 5 mg, again I do not see the need to test for the levels. There are currently no accepted guidelines on how much to supplement based on a given blood level. See http://www.raysahelian.com/dhea.html