Natural Health Newsletter 2016 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
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Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 13, Issue 9 -- December 2016
Wishing all of you joyful holidays and sweet times with
friends and family!
During the next few days many of you will be at settings, home, work, parties, gatherings, etc., where a lot of tempting unhealthy foods and desserts will be present. I try not to be perfect in my eating habits during this festive time. If I see a piece of dessert that I really want, I do have it but I try to eat a small portion. I don't think it is necessarily to eat perfectly healthy at all times.
For the next few days Physician Formulas has a holiday discount. Take advantage of it if there are products you have wished to try for a while.
Fenugreek seed extract for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
PCOS is a common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age. It can cause irregular menstrual cycles, excessive body or facial hair, miscarriage and infertility. In this study women were treated with fenugreek seed extract over a period of 90 consecutive days. Almost half of the study participants had a reduction in cyst size and more than two-thirds reported the return of regular menstrual cycle on completion of the treatment.
See www.raysahelian.com/fenugreek.html for details about this study and natural ways to treat www.raysahealiancom/Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.html.
Bacopa extract for ADHD
Many kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are give psychostimulant medications. The response rate to these medications is about 70%, and 30% of children either do not respond to these meds or are unable to tolerate adverse effects as nausea, insomnia, and weight loss. A study conducted at the Center for Research in Mental Retardation in Mumbai, India, selected thirty-one children 6-12 years of age. The children received a standardized bacopa extract at a dose of 225 mg per day for a period of 6 months. The herbal treatment reduced restlessness in the vast majority of the children. There were also improvements in self-control. Attention-deficit symptoms were reduced in a large proportion of the children. Similarly, symptom scores for learning problems, impulsivity, and psychiatric problems were reduced. The herb was well tolerated. See www.raysahelian.com/ADHD.html for natural ways to address this condition (there are many natural supplements to try). You may also wish to read about bacopa herb and its benefits here, www.raysahelian.com/bacopa.html.
Fish oils for acne - role of diet and food
Acne is a condition due to inflammation and the types of foods we eat influence the inflammatory process.
In this 10-week study, 45 participants with mild to moderate acne, which were allocated to either an omega-3 fatty acid group (2,000 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid), a γ-linoleic acid group (borage oil containing 400 mg γ-linoleic acid), or a control group. After 10 weeks of omega-3 fatty acid or γ-linoleic acid supplementation, inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions decreased significantly. The researchers conculde that omega-3 fatty acid and γ-linoleic acid could be used as an additiona treatment for acne patients.
For a detailed list of foods that help with skin health or cause acne, see www.raysahelian.com/acne.html.
Questions submitted by email
Q. I have been using the Joint Power Rx formula for over 2-months and am quite happy with the results. My question: we have several dogs (50-60 pounds) that have hip joint problems and I am curious if this joint formula can be used for them, and, if so, what dosage? (I take two caps, twice daily).
A. This is a good question. Joint Power Rx was formulated with the intention that it be used by older men and women for joint health but we have had positive reports from people who have given it to their pets. It is difficult to know the appropriate dosage for a dog, but it would seem a dog of 50 pounds would do well with two capsules a day. A vet clinic has been re-ordering Joint Power Rx regularly for several years now.
Q. Can you explain to me the term "herbal
extract." How does one know the potency of an extract and whether it
is good or
not. Also what
does that mean when it says on the label a 4:1 extract or a
A. Herbs can be used as a pure crushed powder (of the leaves, bark, root, flower, etc) or in more potent forms such as extracts (many of the active ingredients within the plant are concentrated in a lab). There are quite a number companies that make concentrations of various herbs and each one has their own method of extraction, concentration, and processing. Therefore the same herb can have dozens of different extracts depending on how it is manufactured. One example is tongkat ali herb. It comes as regular powder and also in various extract potencies such as 10 to 1, 20 to 1, 50 to 1, and higher. In order to know which herbal extract concentration is more effective, each extract has to be tested in humans and compared to another extract potency. Since few such studies have been done, this makes the whole issue very complicated. Therefore, the only good way to know which herb is useful to a person and in what extract potency is for the individual to try it in different dosages and extract potencies. It is not possible to tell from the supplement fact panel on the label whether one particular extract is better for you than another one. A 10 to 1 extract is more concentrated than a 4 to 1 extract but this does not mean the stronger one is necessarily better suited for the condition you are treating. Furthermore, one company may claim that their extract is a concentrated 10 to 1 whereas another company may have a 10 to 1 extract that happens to be much more potent since their extraction method yields different concentrations of the active ingredients.
The whole topic is complicated and there are no simple answers, and few universally accepted guidelines. Also keep in mind that some companies may not be honest in their representation. They may claim their product is a high potency extract whereas it may be a weaker version.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 13, Issue 8 -- November 2016
The election of 2016 has caused a lot of stress and tension among voters, whether they are supporters of Trump, Clinton or independent candidates. Even though election is now over, many of my patients and friends report their anxiety to be continuing. We have received more emails than usual inquiring what type of supplements help reduce tension and stress. Actually there are a few that help and could be good alternatives to medications such as Xanax, Ativan, or Valium. Although the prescription medications are more potent, and are appropriate in severe cases of anxiety disorders, they carry more side effects. I will review a few natural alternatives to these drugs that work well in cases where the stress is not overwhelming. Many people are also temporarily depressed because their candidate did not win. The short term use of natural antidepressants for a few days or weeks could be of benefit and I will discuss a few options that work well.
Natural supplements to reduce stress and tension:
5-HTP is a supplement that, after ingestion as a pill, is absorbed into the bloodstream from the stomach or intestinal tract and is converted into serotonin, an important brain chemical involved in mood balance and relaxation. If you feel tense during the day you could take a 50 mg capsule on an empty stomach (at least 20 minutes before a meal) either before breakfast, before lunch, or before dinner. It provides a nice feeling of relaxation and helps with mood balance. Some people may require 50 mg twice daily. Some people notice the relaxation right away, for others it may take a day or two.
Theanine, an amino acid, blocks the binding of glutamic acid to glutamate receptors in the brain and has been considered to provide anti-stress effects by inhibiting nerve excitation in the brain. It is sold in dosages of 100 mg and 200 mg. Normally the effects are noticed on 200 mg to 400 mg. The pills are taken on an empty stomach any time of day.
Ashwagandha is an herb from India that has multiple health benefits, the dosage is 500 mg of an extract (standardized for 2.5% total withanolides) on an empty stomach. If one pill is not enough you could try two.
GABA is a neurotransmitter available as a supplement that inhibits the transmission of nerve impulses in the central nervous system thus helping with relaxation. The dosage is 500 to 1500 mg on an empty stomach any time of day.
Kava is an plant from the South Pacific and works very well, and fast (within an hour or two), to induce a feeling of relaxation, but there have been some rare reports of liver harm when used regularly for long periods. Therefore it should only be used occasionally. Kava is one of the quickest acting herbal stress reducers and is appropriate for those who want to have a fast effect.
Passion flower has been used as a folk remedy to reduce anxiety and recent studies have shown that it does have such benefits. There are a variety of products online with various dosages and extract strengths. It can be taken any time of day on an empty stomach.
Valerian root works well in some individuals but is not consistent. I would say about half of my patients like the effects. Quite a number of products are sold online and it is taken on an empty stomach anytime of day.
Magnesium mineral - Although some people notice a benefit taking 200 mg or 400 mg, I, personally, have not felt much taking this mineral supplement.
Melatonin induces more of a sleep state and is thus more suited for those with insomnia. The dose is 0.3 mg to 1 mg taken on an empty stomach about 2 to 4 hours before bed.
Chamomile, lemon balm and lavender are, in my opinion, quite weak in their effects.
For more information on how to treat Anxiety naturally.
Natural supplements to improve mood:
There are many supplements that help but I will mention three that work consistently. I have personally tried them and they do work.
5-HTP treats not only anxiety, but it is a wonderful supplement to balance mood, especially in those who have a tendency to feel anxious. The mood balancing benefits are often noticed within a day or two. See above for details on how to take this serotonin precursor.
SAM-e is a powerful natural mood elevator and can be used to treat depression or used in those who have low mood. However you have to be careful. If you take too much you can feel anxious and have sleep problems. Limit your daily dose to 100 mg. SAM-e is best suited to those who feel sluggish and have low mood not associated with anxiety. If you have a tendency to have anxiety associated with your low mood, SAM-e may not be the best choice for you. 5-HTP or St. John's wort may be more appropriate for you. The pill is taken a few minutes before breakfast.
St. John's wort - Studies indicate that the herb can be useful for treating minor depression and other mood problems. This herb can be used for both low mood and anxiety. One 300 mg pill standardized to 0.3 mg hypericin is suggested once daily in the morning before breakfast.
For overall better mood and more energy
Multi-Vit Rx in the morning before or with breakfast works really well if you are feeling tired and want an excellent multivitamin to boost your energy and sense of wellbeing. One capsule is sufficient for most people.
See this article on natural ways to deal with Depression.
Supplements best taken with or without food?
Q. My nutritionist says that supplements should be taken a half-hour before meals or 3 hours after meals on an empty stomach. In contrast, supplement bottles sometimes say on the label to take with meals. Should supplements be taken with, or without, meals?
A. It depends. If you are taking a supplement in order to experience a quick mental or physical effect, it is best to take it on an empty stomach so that it is absorbed quickly and without interference from food. For instance, Mind Power Rx can provide quicker and more noticeable mental enhancement when taken on an empty stomach, but it is also possible that the side effects would be more pronounced, such as restlessness or feeling too stimulated, if the contents of the capsule are absorbed too quickly. When taken with a meal, the effects become more subtle and steadier. Another option is to take it a few minutes before a meal to get both a quick and slow absorption. Older people may wish to take them with a meal to cushion the effects. As far as taking supplements for long term health, where an immediate reaction is not needed, for instance antioxidant pills, vegetable or fruit extracts (pomegranate, acai, mangosteen, goji berry, etc.) or multivitamins, one can take them with a meal, usually breakfast. These are just guidelines and each person would need to try their supplements with a meal or on an empty stomach to determine which method works best for them.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 13, Issue 7 -- October 2016
Natural aphrodisiacs are becoming more popular and I am starting to find more studies looking into their potential. A review article entitled, "Efficacy of Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) on erectile function improvement," concludes, "Based on current evidence, the herbal extract of Tongkat Ali may have clinical effect on erectile function." I first started testing this aphrodisiac herb on myself and I found it to be quite effective. Over time I have had feedback from hundreds of patients and users who have written to me with their personal experiences. There is no doubt that it does work to improve erectile function and libido (in women, too), but it has side effects when used in high doses. There are many herbal aphrodisiacs and each work in a different way to provide sexual enhancing benefits for men and women. Some of these are avena sativa, catuaba, horny goat weed, muira puama, mucuna pruriens, rhodiola, tribulus terrestris, yohimbe, and others. Although the individual aphrodisiac herbs work alone, I find that a good combination or several of them in lower dosages works even better with fewer adverse reactions. Passion Rx with Yohimbe is one such good combination that has been revised and improved in the past few weeks and we are getting great feedback from users of this latest batch. Another option is to each day take one pill of a different herb. The Natural Sex Boosters package offers just that. It includes 7 different bottles and a free book. Each day, in the morning before breakfast, you would take one pill from one of the bottles. The next day you would take a pill from another bottle, and so on until you have taken a pill from each bottle at the end of seven days. Most people report great results, and this is at a fraction of the cost of pharmaceutical erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra.
SAM-E and depression, 100 mg pills
We recently received this email testimonial:
"Hello Dr. Sahelian, I too am a physician and recently tried Sam-E after it was recommended for my dog. I researched it for a bit and thought I’d try it for my chronic dysthymia / depression. I have tried everything else over the years, and I mean everything. The results: 1) My chronic depression has lifted after only about 2 weeks on Sam-E. It has truly been a miracle. No discernible side effects. I now know what normal feels like. 2) My libido, which has been very low my whole life, has become what I believe is a normal libido (for someone over 60), something I have never felt in my life. I’ve been on everything including testosterone supplements but nothing helped. This is NOT placebo effect. I literally even have changes in my skin including very mild acne. I haven’t changed anything else in my diet or meds (BP and cholesterol meds). Just wanted to let you know as your web site was informative.
A. Yes, it is not a placebo effect. SAM-E is a reliable mood booster.
Q. Dr. Sahelian, I wonder if
you know of a source of SAM-E that is 100 mg. Most of the ones that I see in
health food stores are either 200 mg per pill or 400 mg. I only take a portion
of a 200 mg pill and it works for me. When I take 200 mg I feel too revved up
and can't sleep.
A. Yes, 100 mg SAM-e pills are available online. I also want to mention new research that has found omega-3 supplementation in those who are already on prescription antidepressants helps improve mood. Researchers reviewed the findings of eight clinical trials worldwide and concluded that the supplements appear to help battle depression in people already on medication. See www.raysahelian.com/fishoils.html. The researchers found no major safety concerns in combining the two therapies (fish oils and prescription antidepressants). I suspect the combination of fish oils and SAM-e may also provide good benefits. As to how much fish oils to take, 2 to 4 capsules a day seems reasonable along with 50 or 100 mg of SAM-e.
Reducing respiratory infections with diet
There are important substances in the fruits and vegetables that we consume that influence the immune system. In an article entitled "Effect of Flavonoids on Upper Respiratory Tract Infections and Immune Function: A Systematic Review," investigators found that those taking flavonoid supplements (dosage ranging from 0.2 to 1.2 grams a day) had a third fewer incidence of upper respiratory infections. They conclude, "These findings suggest that flavonoids are a viable supplement to decrease URTI incidence in an otherwise healthy population." Flavonoids are easily found in the foods we eat. For more information on which foods contain flavonoids, see www.raysahelian.com/flavonoids.html.
Spirulina for more energy
A study tested the influence of 3 grams a day of spirulina. A mental fatigue test showed improved performance 4 h after the first time of supplementation as well as 8 weeks later. There was also improvement in exercise performance. See www.raysahelian.com/spirulina.html
Statin drugs for cholesterol and influence on brain health
Q. I have been on Lipitor now for several months and I am not sure but I feel like my thinking is not as sharp as it used to be. Have there been other reports about this?
A. Yes. Tere is an interesting article about statin drugs affecting brain health entitled, "Statin-Related Cognitive Impairment in the Real World: You’ll Live Longer, but You Might Not Like It."
There are many other natural ways to reduce cholesterol levels. You can try different supplements separately or purchase a cholesterol management formula, see http://www.raysahelian.com/cholesterol.html. In my opinion the jury is still out as to whether most people taking statin drugs for cholesterol lowering will live longer. There are so many natural options to first try before resorting to medications.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 13, Issue 6 -- September 2016
Have you heard the recent disturbing news that the sugar industry
paid for studies that gave little weight to the role that added sugars in our
foods play in heart disease? According to a report published
in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, investigators found letters from
the 1960s that revealed that respected university nutritionists collaborated with the sugar industry to
misrepresent the public about the harmful influence of sugar in heart disease. The
consequences of this resulted in delaying the development of a scientific consensus on
the role of sugar in heart
disease for several decades and resulted in a lot of attention focused
on fat as the culprit. The emphasis of fat as the problem led the food industry
to push "fat-free"
products that were loaded with added sugars and processed carbohydrates,
leading to a higher incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the US
It has been quite apparent to many perceptive individuals that not only the pharmaceutical industry, the tobacco industry, but food and beverage companies have long influenced scientists to produce results that enhance their companies’ profits, or to suppress research that do not back their products’ health claims. For example, studies funded by soda companies are much more likely to report no link between soda and obesity whereas research from independent institutions come to an opposite conclusion.
You can't always believe what you read or hear in the news
It's sad but true. The public assumes when they hear these words in the news "according to a new study" that whatever is reported must be accurate, but studies are notorious for being flawed. There are many reasons for this and some of them include: 1) The researchers were honest but just did not do a good job with their calculations and hence their results are wrong; 2) There were too few subjects in the study and therefore the sample size was not large enough to provide accurate results; 3) The researchers did not use an appropriate dose of a medication or supplement, they gave the study subjects too high a dose or too low; 4) The researchers were dishonest and were influenced by the company that was funding the study.
The bottom line is that in order to be confident in the results of studies we need confirmation over several years and decades from multiple independent research labs that come to a similar conclusion. Just relying on the results from one lab is just not good enough.
Raw garlic reduces risk of lung cancer
Evidence of the anticancer properties of garlic for different cancer sites has been reported in in vitro and in vivo experimental studies over many decades but there has been limited epidemiologic evidence on the association between garlic and lung cancer. Chinese researchers examined the association between raw garlic consumption and lung cancer in a case-control study in Taiyuan, China. Epidemiologic data was collected by face-to-face interviews from 399 lung cancer cases and 466 healthy controls. Compared with no intake, raw garlic intake was associated with lower risk of development of lung cancer with a dose-response pattern (meaning the more garlic consumed, the lower the risk for cancer). The researchers conclude: The results of the current study suggest that raw garlic consumption is associated with reduced risk of lung cancer in a Chinese population.
My comments: The benefits of raw garlic are much more superior than those in pill form or aged black garlic.
Pomegranate juice versus taking an extract pill, which is
Q. I have heard a great deal about the benefits of pomegranate juice but I am concerned about the sugar in the juices, is it healthy to drink this juice or better to take a pill of the juice extract?
A. Pomegranate juice has about 16 grams of sugar in every 4 ounce serving. I do not consider most fruit juices, including orange juice, apple juice, and pomegranate juice, as health foods if they are consumed more than 2 or 3 ounces at a time. It's too much sugar to put in the body at one time unless a person plans to be very active right afterwards using up this excess fructose. Therefore, if a person wants the benefits of pomegranate, it is better to consume the fruit which has a lot of fiber (the fiber slows down the rapid absorption of the fructose and has other benefits) or to consume the powder in the form of an extract pill. See http://www.raysahelian.com/pomegranate.html
Combining cholesterol lowering drugs with natural cholesterol lowering supplements
Q. Can a low dose of pravastatin (a statin drug that lowers cholesterol, the brand name is Pravachol) be combined (not necessarily taken together but at different times of day) with policosonol or other natural cholesterol lowering agents? Any side effects or warnings for taking pravastatin with policosonol? I hope to start taking policosonol 20 mg a day and start to reduce my dosage of pravastatin. I was taking only 5 mg of pravastatin a day but it was not reducing my LDL level so I increased dosage to 10mg daily. I would like to add the policosonol until my next blood lipid panel and depending on the numbers, decide to stay on one or the other or both.
A. This is a good question, a small amount of research is available to give us some early clues regarding the combination of the natural cholesterol lowering agent policosanol and statin drugs. It may take trial and error to find out for yourself, but it is important to have a more comprehensive approach to cholesterol reduction as reviewed in the cholesterol article here, http://www.raysahelian.com/cholesterol.html.
In some studies, the combination of policosanol combined with simvastatin (another similar cholesterol lowering stating drug, brand name Zocor), led to greater decreases in triglycerides and cholesterol and the statin drug alone with no additional side effects, see http://www.raysahelian.com/policosanol.html. Overall, it is best not to rely on one supplement for cholesterol reduction but rather to take a more comprehensive approach.
Comment about previous newsletter article
Q. I really enjoyed reading your July 2016 newsletter
regarding the accumulating effects of medications and supplements. I was
realizing that the tongkat ali that I bought for aphrodisiac benefits worked
well for the first few days and then I started having problems sleeping which
was counterproductive to my sexual health. I appreciate your wisdom in this
regard. I read many health sites on line and hardly anyone talks about this
A. Thank you. The effects -- benefits and adverse reactions -- of many supplements or medications often accumulate over time. Some supplements or medications are short acting, meaning they are cleared by the body within a few hours, or by the time we go to sleep. Whereas the effects of others can last overnight into the next day, or several days. For instance, if the dosage of a medication or supplement in the morning is 100 mg but by the next morning the body has cleared or metabolized 90 mg of it yet there is still 10 mg of effects lingering, if you take another 100 mg the second morning you actually now have 110 mg in the body, and even more the third morning. Tongkat ali, an effective natural aphrodisiac, is one of those whose effects linger. And since it causes alertness, sleep problems occur. Hence one needs to take a few days off from the herb in order for sleep patterns to return to normal.
Eyesight Rx testimonial
I wanted to let you know that after 2 days of taking Eyesight Rx one pill in the morning I can see more clearly where I usually have a problem with my astigmatism, especially at night with the street lights. Now it's better and I can read the street signs at night clearer which makes driving easier.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 13, Issue 5 -- August 2016
I hope you are all having a pleasant summer. Keep in mind that if you are
getting more than 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure a day in the summer months,
you could take a break from your vitamin D pills. There's no need to overdose.
Your body can produce several thousand units of vitamin D in less than an hour
if enough skin is exposed.
We have had quite a number of interesting questions lately and I just wanted to take the opportunity to share with you some of them and my responses.
Questions and comments from readers
Q. I have been adding sliced turmeric roots to my soup in order to potentially help reduce symptoms of my osteoarthritis and reduce the risk for cancer, but I hearing about curcumin and its benefits. Is it better to just take curcumin pills or are there additional benefits to taking turmeric as a whole root. I understand that curcumin is part of the turmeric plant but now confused which one is more important to take.
A. This is a good question. Although curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric, there may be other substances in the turmeric plant that are of benefit in preventing or treating health conditions. Therefore it may be a good idea to take both.
Q. I am a marriage and
counselor therapist and have been recommending Passion Rx with Yohimbe to many
couples who have lack of sexual desire or performance. It has been several years
that my clients have used this product. Lately it seems I am getting even more
positive responses than in the past. Has the formula changed or improved?
A. We try to make small changes to our formulas over time to maximize the effectiveness and reduce risk of side effects. Our latest batch of Passion Rx with Yohimbe that came out a couple of months ago is having the best feedback so far. In the next issue of the newsletter I will discuss how to best use this formula and other aphrodisiac herbs. In the meantime, those who wish to use it can take one capsule in the morning upon awakening at least 20 minutes before breakfast 2 days on and two days off.
Q. Thank you for your website! I am so glad that I found it
this morning. I suffer from insomnia and I wondered why. As it turns out I have
been overstimulated by taking daily Acetyl L-carnitine (a whopping 750 mg) plus
L-Carnosine 500 mg plus R Lipoic Acid 200 mg. I think I will stop taking any
supplement for a week, maybe two.
A. Any one of these three, on its own, at these high amounts, can cause insomnia. Acetyl l-carnitine can, by itself, at over 250 mg, Carnosine over 200 mg, and Lipoic acid over 30 mg. Yes, it is no surprise that this combination, at such high dosages, is interfering with sleep.
Q. I've been reading a lot
lately about the mental health benefits of the powerful antioxidant
acetylcysteine. In your opinion what is a reasonable amount to take on a daily
A. There was an article a year ago in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews that looked into the potential medical uses of this important nutrient. The title of the article was, "Clinical trials of N-acetylcysteine in psychiatry and neurology: A systematic review." The abstract read,"N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is recognized for its role in acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose and as a mucolytic (breaking down mucus). Over the past decade there has been growing evidence for the use of NAC in treating psychiatric and neurological disorders, considering its role in reducing the effects pathophysiological processes associated with these disorders, including oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation and glutamate and dopamine dysregulation. In this systematic review we find favorable evidence for the use of NAC in several psychiatric and neurological disorders, particularly autism, Alzheimer's disease, cocaine and cannabis addiction, bipolar disorder, depression, trichotillomania (hair pulling), nail biting, skin picking, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, drug-induced neuropathy and progressive myoclonic epilepsy. Disorders such as anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mild traumatic brain injury have preliminary evidence and require larger confirmatory studies while current evidence does not support the use of NAC in gambling, methamphetamine and nicotine addictions and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Overall, NAC treatment appears to be safe and tolerable."
I am not sure if the authors of this article are overenthusiastic about all these potential benefits, but future research will provide additional clues. In the meantime, if a person wishes to take this supplement, a reasonable amount would be 500 mg once or twice a week, or a 500 mg pill can be opened and a small portion of it taken most days of the week.
Q. Is it true that drinking sodas like Coke or Pepsi can
A. High sugar intake increases inflammation in the body and thus increases the risk for joint problems. There was an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled, "Sugar-sweetened soda consumption and risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women." The conclusion of the article: "Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened soda, but not diet soda, is associated with increased risk of seropositive rheumatoid arthritis in women, independent of other dietary and lifestyle factors."
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 13, Issue 4 -- July 2016
An email we received this week reminded me of an important
topic I have been meaning to discuss. It has to do with the notion that the
daily amount or dosage of a supplement or prescription medication does not
necessarily need to remain static for long periods. In other words, we should be
constantly aware that whatever dosage of a pill we are taking may either need to
be reduced or increased, or temporarily stopped, over time depending on our
symptoms and response. The email in question that we received had to do with the
herb St. John's wort which is often used for depression and sometimes for
anxiety (although there are better supplements for anxiety such as 5-HTP or
theanine). The writer states, "I have had some
symptoms of anxiety and insomnia for several months. I started to take St. John's wort 15 days ago. I have seen an improvement, a decrease of
anxiety during the day. I took 900 mg which was advised on an internet
site as a therapeutic dose. It worked fine for 13 days and then I started to
wake up after 3 hours of sleep with palpitations. The same thing
happened with prescription medication Klonopin, which I took before the st John's wort. Could
there be a build up in my system which begins to be like an over dose? I
did decrease the St johns wort daily dosage and there was less palpitations but
two hours of sleep."
Dietary supplements that have effects lasting
more than a day
Most supplements, if taken in high enough dosages, even if taken the morning, can have lingering effects the next day. Of particular note, besides St. John's wort, are the other natural antidepressant SAM-e, and less so 5-HTP. Many aphrodisiac herbs are known to have a long influence particularly ginseng, tongkat ali and horny goat weed. The effects of yohimbe are not too long, generally a few hours. Popular supplements such as CoQ10 and alpha lipoic acid are culprits, particularly when used used in high dosages; for instance more than 50 mg for CoQ10 and more than 30 mg for alpha lipoic acid. Others include carnosine, carnitine, and even very high doses of B vitamins. Even excessive amounts of fish oils, for instance more than 5 to 10 softgels a day (especially when taken several days in a row), could cause alertness late into the night and sleep problems.
Caffeine, in the form of coffee, tea, chocolate, or some over the counter pills, can stimulate you for much longer than you think. I remember, back in medical school, reading a study where college students were given a 200 mg pill in the morning. That very night a sleep study showed that it was interfering with their proper sleep patterns. Now just imagine drinking several cups of coffee a day, day after day, for months and years, as so many people do in the USA and other countries. No wonder many people have insomnia from coffee and they don't even realize the cause.
Caution regarding the accumulating effects of
I am particularly concerned about the adverse reactions of hormones whose effects can linger for several days after a high dose. The over the counter hormones that concern me are DHEA and pregnenolone. Many internet sources and some doctors suggest people take 25 mg or 50 mg a day. These amounts may provide quick noticeable benefits the first few days but soon the effects accumulate leading to anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and even dangerous conditions such as rapid heart beat or heart palpitations. Blood levels may not tell the whole story since the hormones enter the tissues and cells, and within the cells trigger a cascade of metabolic effects that continue for several days even when the hormone supplements are stopped. Therefore, continued used of 10, 25 or 50 mg daily, after several days or weeks, could cause severe harmful reactions even though initially things seemed fine.
Testosterone is also prescribed by many doctors without regard to its accumulating effects. This can trigger aggressiveness and heart rhythm problems. As to estrogen and progesterone, I suggest women use them in the least amount that provides relief of menopausal symptoms.
Seniors and medications
As we age our ability to metabolize and detoxify drugs decreases. Hence seniors can be prone to toxicity from medications. Many doctors do not realize that older individuals do not handle medications as easitly as young people and therefore many seniors end up, sometimes for years, taking much higher amounts of various medications, such as blood pressure pills, cholesterol lowering drugs, blood sugar lowering drugs, anti-depressants, and others. than they need to.
The overall message
than I want to relay is that people should be taking the least amount of
prescription drugs that provide adequate treatment, and to regularly
monitor and review what is being taken and how much. This applies to
most supplements, too.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 13, Issue 3 -- April 2016
I am often asked by patients or people I encounter regarding my thoughts about pharmaceutical companies and prescription drugs. Many people think just because I am a proponent of natural healing that I am against medications and surgery. I believe the wisest approach to prevention of disease and healing is the wise combination of natural options and up to date medical diagnosis and treatment. Sometimes it is not easy to decide which approach to take: natural healing, prescription medications and surgery, or some sort of combination. That's the challenge we all have, and each person and each case is unique.
My thoughts on pharmaceutical companies
I was recently interviewed by a reporter from Skeptic magazine. He asked me, "Dr. Sahelian, what are your thoughts on Big Pharma, is the financial influence as strong as some people claim?" I wrote back to him by email and he responded, "Amazing answer, thank you." This is what I wrote to him:" We should all be grateful that we live in an age where pharmaceutical companies and academic centers have spent decades researching and discovering amazing treatments and cures for a variety of medical conditions. We should all be grateful that pharmaceutical companies have discovered a variety of safe and effective local and general anesthetics that prevent pain from surgery. We no longer have to suffer the horrible pains that those living generations ago suffered during amputations, tooth extractions, brain operations, and other surgeries. Hundreds of antibiotics have been created that cure people who have a number of serious infections that caused quick or slow fatalities in the past. However, my issues with Big Pharma are the following. Expensive patented drugs are promoted sometimes in lieu of effective and inexpensive natural treatments (diet, foods, herbs and various dietary supplements), especially in cases of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. One could raise the argument of objectivity in regards to the thousands of university and hospital based doctors who work, promote, endorse, and lecture on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry, the tens of thousands of drug stores and pharmacists who benefit from the sale of expensive drugs, TV stations who make money from drug company ads, the dozens of medical journals and their editorial staff who benefit from the advertising dollars spent to promote and support their magazines. Most of these medical journals are much more likely to endorse the use of drugs to treat medical conditions than natural herbs and supplements since almost all the advertising dollars comes from the drug companies who have deep pockets. Big Pharma has hundreds of thousands of private practice doctors who promote drugs to patients. And these private practice doctors are not paid to promote these medications. All they get is an occasional visit by a drug rep, and medical journals sent to them for free. Dozens of different journals are mailed free to doctors. Many of the articles in these journals are written by doctors based in prestigious universities or hospitals who are paid by the drug companies to write positive things about their drugs while discounting the benefits of herbs and supplements that could be, in some cases, just, or even more beneficial at a fraction of the cost (i.e. the push for high risk statin drugs to treat high cholesterol whereas safer natural alternatives do exist). These magazines are mailed free to doctors since the advertising dollars make a subscription fee unnecessary. In brief, these drug companies have a huge sales force of well-meaning but brainwashed unpaid doctors who prescribe these drugs (some drugs are beneficial, others harmful) to their patients, and these private practice doctors don't even get a share of the profit for making the drug companies so wealthy! (By using the term brainwashed, I mean that these doctors are so busy with their practice, and their exposure to medical information comes mostly in an exclusive manner from Big Pharma, that they are unaware of natural alternatives.) In addition, since the cost of most drugs is paid by the insurance companies, these pharmaceutical companies get their money not directly from the consumer, but a third party payer. Free sales force of doctors, third party insurance payers... a successful and profitable business model has been created!
Natural ways to manage high blood pressure
Please see this article that reviews natural ways to treat hypertension, http://www.raysahelian.com/hypertension.html
Natural ways to manage high cholesterol
Diet and supplements can reduce the need for statin drugs that have more side effects that many doctors realize, see http://www.raysahelian.com/cholesterol.html
Natural ways to manage high blood sugar
Exercise is key to reducing blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes, see also dietary and supplement suggestions that you can review with your doctor, http://www.raysahelian.com/diabetes.html
Please do not make any changes in your treatment without first discussing it with your health care provider.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 13, Issue 2 -- February 2016
One of the pleasures in life is the ability to see
clearly, appreciate the variety of colors, be awed by nature and
scenery, and be mesmerized by various types of paintings and art. As we
get older we begin to have age related visual decline. Is it possible to
partially reverse this? Over a decade ago I formulated Eyesight Rx for
this purpose and every couple of years I tweak the formula to improve
it. The latest version came out a couple of months ago and I am very
happy with it. If you have an interest in seeing sharper and
appreciating the beauty around us more, consider trying it. It is a
small tablet swallowed in the morning upon awakening. Some people notice
the visual improvement within hours, or that evening. For others it may
take a couple of days. I, personally, notice the benefits by the
evening. I can read easier, see the television sharper, and my night
vision is much better. I usually take a tablet in the morning as soon as
I wake up two days on, one or two days off. I also notice being a little
more alert when I take this vision supplement.
We have many reports from users who say that this is one of the few vision supplements on the market where they actually notice a quick visual improvement. I have tried many popular vision pills sold in stores and do not notice much of an effect from them.
How I formulated Eyesight Rx
About fifteen years ago I wrote a book called Mind Boosters: Natural Supplements that Enhance Your Mind, Memory, and Mood. As part of the research for this book I spent a week or two trying each mind enhancing supplement by itself to see what my personal reactions would be. Surprisingly, without any expectations, I realized that some of them had an effect on my eyesight. Some improved night vision, others improved reading vision, others improved the ability to see distance better, and a few made the hue of colors deeper and more discernible. Over the next few years I continued experimenting with various additional herbs and nutrients, including finding the right dose of lutein, zeaxanthin, and various other natural ingredients. I found that sometimes when too much of a nutrient is taken it actually backfires and causes blurriness. Therefore, it is not just having the right ingredients in the formula, it is knowing how much of them to use and it what combinations. It is a complex endeavor that took several years to formulate and I still work on it to make it even better.
Fish oils also help vision
In addition to Eyesight Rx, you could consider taking two or three fish oil softgels in the morning unless you eat cold water fish two or three times a week. The back of the eye, the retina, needs these long chained omega-3 fatty acids to work at its best.
For additional nutrients and supplements that help support vision, see http://www.raysahelian.com/eyesight.html
Fats and sense of smell
Did you know that what you eat can influence your sense of smell as you age? In a recent study researchers found that older adults with the highest consumption of nuts and fish had reduced odds of olfactory impairment. In other words, those who ate a good amount of nuts and fish had a better chance of maintaining their ability to smell as they aged. I highly recommend you only consume raw nuts. When nuts are roasted or heated the fatty acids in them get damaged and I suspect they no longer become healthy to consume. Try small amounts of raw walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc. See http://www.raysahelian.com/longevity.html for the reference article.
Why sometimes researchers come to the wrong
It is not uncommon for scientists to use the wrong dosage of a medication or supplement while doing an experiment. For instance, in my personal experience trying St. John's wort for mood elevation, I found that if I took too high a dosage over several days it actually did improve my mood initially but it also caused insomnia. We all know lack of sleep causes fatigue and low mood. Therefore, when experiments are done for several weeks at a time giving volunteers high dosages, it actually backfires and the subjects report feeling low energy and low mood. The researchers thus come to the conclusion that this particular herb, in this case St. John's wort, is not effective as a depression treatment. Whereas, if they had offered half or a third of the dose they gave, the results could have been markedly different.
The reason I bring this up now is to follow up with what I said earlier about using the right amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in the Eyesight Rx formula. Some products on the market may have too high or too low a dosage of the key ingredients and thus may not be effective.
Q. Why aren't the exact amounts of the ingredients in
Eyesight Rx listed?
A. One of the disadvantages of formulating herbal products, as opposed to a pharmaceutical company creating a new molecule as a drug, is that the product can be easily copied by other companies and all the years of effort it took to develop it go down the drain when a large company reproduces the successful formula, with some minor changes, gives it another product name, and then markets it heavily with its vast advertising and promotional abilities. Therefore we comply with the FDA in listing the ingredients in the formula, but the FDA, recognizing the need for some form of propriety, allows dietary supplement companies the option to not list the actual amounts in the formula.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 13, Issue 1 -- January 2016
The Common Cold - almost every one of you, or a member
of your family, will come down with it at least once this winter. There
are ways, both natural and through pharmaceutical medications, to reduce
its nasty symptoms and make it last shorter. I will devote this
newsletter to addressing this common winter illness and provide ways to
get through it without too much discomfort. Based on decades of
experience I will give you practical advice on how to reduce the
severity of runny nose, fatigue, cough, body aches, headache, and fever.
Please discuss with your doctor before you implement any of these suggestions since he or she knows your medical condition best.
Natural remedies to prevent or reduce symptoms once
Vitamin C and zinc lozenges can be very helpful in preventing the cold or reducing the symptoms. However, these have to be started as soon as you think you are coming down with something. As soon as you notice the slightest tingling in the nose, or throat irritation, or mild cough, or you think you have been exposed to people at home or in the office to someone who has a cold, start the step-by-step suggestions I recommend at http://www.raysahelian.com/common.html.
If you wait too long to start the vitamin C or zinc lozenges, they won't work well or at all. Also, after a day or so of taking them, it is probably not helpful to continue them.
Practical advice on reducing the symptoms once you
have the cold.
Resting is the most important thing you can do. Stay home and read books, surf the internet, watch TV or movies, play card or board games, write, draw or play music. Avoid being physically active. I don't believe in the "sweat your fever" theory. I don't think it works well for most people and can actually backfire, making you more exhausted. Ideal temp of the room should be warm and humid.
I don't think it is a good idea to take natural stimulants such as ginseng or a lot of ginger to counter the fatigue. They can be counterproductive. Avoid any supplements that rev you up, including high doses of B vitamins.
2. Mucus, nasal congestion
Fluids are your friend. They’ll help unclog your nose and thin any mucus so you can cough or blow it out. I think plain, hot water is best. Avoid drinking more than one cup of tea a day because the caffeine or certain stimulants in tea can keep you up at night. Avoid drinking coffee or other stimulant drinks such as sodas. Since you will be resting all day, any kind of stimulant in the tea or coffee, or soft drink, can make it harder to sleep at night. Drinking alcohol is not helpful.
Before you go to bed take a hot bath for 10 to 20 minutes to clear up your nose and lungs and expel the loosened mucus. Do so, too, in the morning when you wake up.
Consume various types of vegetable soups and add garlic and onions. Some people find chicken soup helpful.
Although antihistamines are useful in treating nasal allergies, they don't help relieve cold symptoms. The good news is that runny noses help the body get rid of the nasty viruses.
When you have a chest cold, your lung tissue is irritated. Avoid going outside in the cold air since it will irritate your lungs further and make you cough even more. If the temperature is cold inside your dwelling, you could wear a scarf around your nose and mouth and thus the air your breathe will be warmed by your breath and not irritate your lungs. If you have to go outside in the cold air, wear the scarf around your nose and mouth.
Take occasional warm, steamy baths to warm and humidify your lungs.
Wear a sweater, or two, at all times to keep your chest warm.
I am not aware of any over the counter medications that reduce the severity of a cough to any significant extent. If you have a bad cough that is interfering with your sleep, the best cough medicine that I know of is Phenergan with codeine. Your doctor can give you a prescription for it. I suggest using it only at night, a teaspoon about one or two hours before bed. It will suppress your cough, help you sleep since it is a sedative, and you may feel better the next day since you got a good night's sleep without being awake all night coughing.
4. Headache, body aches, sore throat, sore muscles
If body aches and headache really bother you I suggest you take anti-inflammatory meds such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). These medications really, really help. I, personally, find 400 mg of naproxen, taken in the morning or midday, provides me with pain relief that lasts almost the rest of the day. If the discomfort is severe then 600 mg of the naproxen is an option. As to ibuprofen, a dose of 400 or 600 mg is quite effective, too. If you need to take these meds at night use a lower dose of 200 or 400 mg. These meds help reduce throat pain, too.
A saltwater gargle — 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water — can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
Fluids and ibuprofen, naproxen, are helpful. I don't think fever has to be treated for its own sake, only if it is making you feel uncomfortable.
6. Trouble sleeping
I know it is not healthy to eat carbs before bed, but if you really need a restful night you can do so by manipulating the food you eat a couple of hours before bedtime. One of the best sleep inducing recipes is a medium amount of pasta, such as spaghetti with pasta sauce, along with a small amount of cheese. Add fresh onions or garlic, too. You will notice about an hour or so after eating this pasta that you will start getting really sleepy.
Over-the-counter decongestants containing pseudoephedrine may help dry and clear nasal passages, but only temporarily and at the expense of causing restlessness, anxiety, increased heart rate and insomnia.
Because of the risks, children younger than 5 years old not be treated with over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.
Some symptoms of a cold, such as mucus production or
dry cough, can sometimes persist even up to two weeks, or longer. They
eventually all resolve.
Best wishes for a Happy New Year!