Front Cardiovasc Med. 2015. Role of Nutraceuticals in Hypolipidemic Therapy. Nutraceuticals are food components or active ingredients present in foods and used in therapy. This article analyzes the characteristics of the molecules with a lipid-lowering effect. The different nutraceuticals may have different mechanisms of action: inhibition of cholesterol synthesis primarily through action on the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase (policosanol, polyphenols, garlic and, above all, red yeast rice), increase in LDL receptor activity (berberine), reduction of intestinal cholesterol absorption (garlic, plant sterols, probiotics), and also the ability to interfere with bile metabolism (probiotics, guggul).
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 12, Issue 9 -- November 2015
Women have difficult decisions to make regarding mammograms. Medical organizations are providing conflicting opinions as to the best age to start a mammogram and how often to get them. Recently the American Cancer Society changed its recommendations. It now suggests women of average cancer risk begin at age 45 rather than age 40 and then get a repeat mammogram every two years instead of one. The organization also said that it does not think a doctor's manual breast exam is very helpful. Many doctors have decided to ignore these changes and continue to suggest the yearly mammograms. But what is the downside to getting these tests earlier and more often? Isn't it better to catch a tumor early through frequent tests? We have had many emails this week asking my opinion regarding these changes. Long term readers of my newsletter have previously read that I actually recommended these less stringent guidelines many years ago. I recognized the harm that more frequent testing can cause could outweigh the benefits. Women with a personal history of breast cancer, a family history of breast cancer, a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer (such as BRCA), and women who had radiation therapy to the chest before the age of 30 are at higher risk for breast cancer, and may consider earlier and more frequent mammograms. However, women of average risk, in my opinion, are better off starting at age 45 rather than 40. I list my reasons below:
Potential harm from mammograms
We all know the benefits of early detection of a breast tumor and subsequent effective treatment before it metastasizes. However, few women know about the risks and potential harm from aggressive testing, much having to do with false-positive results. A false positive is when the mammogram says that there may be a tumor there but further testing, such as a biopsy, shows nothing is there.
It is estimated that a woman who has
yearly mammograms between ages 40 and 49 has about a 30 percent
chance of having a false-positive mammogram at some point in that decade
and about a 10 percent chance of having a breast biopsy within the
10-year period. About 80% of
all breast biopsies result in benign (no cancer present) findings. The radiologist may
notice something unusual on the mammogram, and due to the fear of being sued, will
suggest a biopsy even though it may not be necessary. Doctors are so
afraid of missing a potential tumor that they will send their patients
with minor abnormalities
for additional testing even though they may not be needed thus significantly
increasing the rate of false positives and further x-rays, blood tests,
and other diagnostic procedures.
Screening mammography, like all cancer screening tests, has potential drawbacks, including adverse effects on survival, comfort, function and psychological well-being emanating from all procedures that result from screening. Since the average risk of dying from cancer during the 40s is relatively low, 1,900 women in that age group would need to be screened for a decade, and suffer anxiety and all kinds of emotional, financial, and other hardships, to PERHAPS increasing life expectancy of one life.
More reasons why testing in not as safe or beneficial as some doctors claim are explained at http://www.raysahelian.com/mammography.html.
Another controversial topic: calcium supplements
Many women, and men, take calcium supplements with the belief and hope that this could lead to stronger bones. However, in the past few years, new research has provided us with conflicting results. A new study in the British Medical Journal (which was widely mentioned in the news) informs us that people over 50 don't prevent osteoporosis either by taking supplements or from eating extra servings of calcium-rich foods such as dairy products. There is a possibility that the extra calcium doesn't go to strengthen bones but instead can build up in the arteries, causing heart disease, or in the kidneys, causing kidney stones. However, another recent study shows benefit with the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements in terms of reduced bone fracture and hip fracture. http://www.raysahelian.com/calcium.html
For several years I have been warning women that the dosage of the calcium supplements they were taking (many take 1,000 mg or more daily), was too high. I had recommended that the maximum daily amount be limited to 600 mg. Now, in light of some new studies, I am starting to wonder whether any amount is needed to be supplemented for the purposes of osteoporosis prevention. I am not ready to confidently say that women should stop their calcium supplementation altogether, but I am starting to lean in that direction. Another option (until more definitive studies are published) is to take 400 to 600 mg of calcium along with 1.000 to 2,000 units of vitamin D. There is nothing better than exercise, sports, and weight training to make bones stronger. See http://www.raysahelian.com/osteoporosis.html.
CDP-Choline improves memory and learning
Choline, found in food and available as a supplement, is the precursor to acetylcholine, one of the crucial brain chemicals involved in memory. A more potent form, called CDP-choline is being tested on various aspects of mental enhancement. Recently, a report with the title "Neurocognitive effects of acute choline supplementation in low, medium and high performer healthy volunteers," looked at the benefits of CDP-Choline administration when given at a dose of 500 or 1,000 mg. CDP-choline improved mental processing speed, working memory, verbal learning, verbal memory, and executive function in low baseline performers, while exerting no effects in medium baseline performers, and diminishing cognition in high baseline performers. This means that people who had mild mental impairment benefited from it whereas those who had really good brain function to start with did not notice any improvement. In my opinion, CDP-Choline could be of benefit in those who have age related cognitive impairment. For more info see http://www.raysahelian.com/cdp.html.
Q. I saw a mention on TV that the outcome of studies are not often repeatable, what are your thoughts on this?
A. The Center for Open Science, an organization which tries to validate the outcome of scientific studies, reports that half of studies it replicated did not produce the same outcome. This means that, when you hear about the results of a particular study, do not assume that the results are 100 percent accurate. Next time another scientific group tries to repeat it, the results may not be the same as the original outcome. It normally takes several trials with similar outcomes before assuming results are close to being reliable. People reading about new studies should approach them with a skeptical eye and the understanding that each new finding is just a small addition to a vast scientific database that is constantly growing and shifting.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 12, Issue 8 -- October 2015
A new drug is being promoted for female libido enhancement. We recently had several inquiries regarding my opinion on its benefits and risks. People wanted to know if it was safe and whether it was any better than over the counter natural libido enhancing supplements. Let me give you a brief history. After two rejections and years of dispute over its benefits, the FDA, in August 2015, approved the first medication claimed to help improve a woman's libido. Addyi, whose generic name is flibanserin, has been called the "female Viagra," but it does not work the same way as Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis. While Viagra and its cousins improve blood flow to the pelvic region, and hence are effective for men with erectile dysfunction, Addyi works on brain chemistry and neurotransmitters. What are its side effects and benefits? Are herbal libido boosters any better or safer?
Improving a woman's libido
Addyi is the first medication approved for the treatment of premenopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). The disorder is the most commonly reported form of female sexual dysfunction, affecting about 1 in 5 U.S. women. Flibanserin was initially tested as an antidepressant in men and women. It did not work as an antidepressant, but women in tests reported experiencing more sexual interest, which led to it being studied as a sexual disorder treatment.
What about side effects, adverse reaction?
While Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs are taken as needed, Addyi is supposed to be taken daily, which makes it more likely to have chronic side effects. The drug can cause low blood pressure, fatigue, dizziness, and fainting. These adverse effects are increased when Addyi is combined with alcohol or certain prescription medicines.
How well does it work, is it effective?
According to data, women who take flibanserin for several weeks report having an average of one more satisfying sexual event every 2 months compared to a group of women taking a placebo pill. To me, that does not sound like much of a boost.
What about natural alternatives?
After more than 20 years of researching natural aphrodisiacs, writing about them, testing them and having had feedback from thousands of patients and users of these aphrodisiacs, I am convinced that they work in the majority of users. There are no current studies that compare Addyi to herbal libido boosters so I can't claim for certain that the prescription drug is better or worse than the natural ones. However, the research I have read on Addyi does not impress me too much. At this point there are many more studies with the herbal sex boosters that show them to be effective.
Which natural herbs do I recommend for women (or men)
who wish to enhance their libido?
There are literally dozens of known plants and dietary supplements that have a significant effect on libido. It is nearly impossible to predict which one of them, at what dosage, or in which combination, will work in any specific individual. I have listed the most well-known and effective ones in this article, http://www.raysahelian.com/female_libido.html. I also review the role of foods and common kitchen spices that can have a benefit in improving sexual desire. It may take a little time, and trial and error, to find a single product or a combination formula that works best for you. You may also consider a 7 product package called Natural Sex Boosters, which comes with a newly updated free book that explains all the benefits of these products and offers suggestions regarding when to take them, how often, in what dosage, and how to combine them.
A simple way to lose weight?
A small study finds drinking about 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before meals can help with weight loss for obese adults. Although prior studies had shown mixed results, there seems to be enough evidence thus far to try this simple method that has no risk but a potential benefit. See http://www.raysahelian.com/weightloss.html
Q. Having been inspired by many articles on SAM-E, the natural anti-depressant, and after years of stagnant results with Cipralex (an antidepressant drug also known as Lexapro), I decided to give it a go. I went straight to 400 mg of this supplement, and felt great, sharp, energetic, and balanced. Only recently, after a months on SAM-E, I have been getting horrific anxiety, chest/head pains, mood swings, foggy thinking, and paranoia. I decided to get off the SAM-E. Is there any way to clear It from my body and feel normal again? Doctors have told me they have no expertise in this field.
A. Almost all the time the residual side effects from taking too much of a natural supplement are reduced and go away after a few days. It is very rare for these side effects to linger more than a week or two. It is good that you stopped taking it when you noticed these bad reactions. This case illustrates a couple of points that I want to share with my readers. 1. Dosage makes a huge difference in how well a medication or supplement works. Too little does little, and too much can causes unpleasant reactions. 2. It is wise to take a break from use from most supplements, especially when you notice that it is starting to cause adverse effects.
In the case of SAM-e, having tried it myself on several occasions, I find that any dosage more than 100 mg taken over several days causes hyperstimulation, insomnia, and anxiety. Therefore, 400 mg is way too much for most people.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 12, Issue 7 -- September 2015
Schizophrenia is a mental condition that afflicts about one percent of the US population. It is a chronic, severe, and disabling disorder and those suffering from it have deficits in thought processes, perceptions, and emotional responsiveness. Most people have a family member, relative, or someone they know who has this illness. Doctors treat this condition with antipsychotic medications which can have severe side effects. But, unfortunately, in most cases, these meds are necessary in order to treat the individual's erratic behavior and thoughts. I am not aware of any natural treatments that cure the condition or are an adequate replacement for the required medications. However, some new research offers a little hope for those in their teens who have a predisposition to this mental illness.
Supplying the right fatty acids to the brain
Australian researchers report that omega-3 supplements, such as fish oils, may help keep young people with a high risk of schizophrenia from either getting the condition or experiencing it less severely. Years ago the investigators provided high-risk study participants between the ages of 13 to 25 the supplements for three months and found that they prevented a first episode of a psychotic disorder for up to a year. Recently, in a follow-up study, the team updated to see how the same patients were doing. They found that 10% of the group given omega-3 supplements developed psychosis, an episode where you lose touch with reality. It's a symptom of different illnesses, including schizophrenia. Forty percent of the group given a fake placebo supplement developed psychosis. The group not given omega-3s also developed psychosis more quickly and had a higher overall risk of getting other psychiatric disorders.
Although this kind of testing is still early, it offers some hope. We still need much more investigating to determine if fish oils play a role in adults who have established schizophrenia for many years or decades and those who have been on antipsychotic medications. But, what I take from these early studies is that teenagers should be encouraged to ingest more omega-3 fatty acids, especially those at high risk. It can't hurt and these oils have many other health benefits, see http://www.raysahelian.com/omega3.html
Some people with mood disorders or bipolar disorder may also benefit from fish oil supplements, see http://www.raysahelian.com/fishoils.html.
What causes schizophrenia?
Psychotic disorders have origins in genetic abnormalities along with early influences in infancy development such as malnutrition or certain viral infections. They are generally discovered in late adolescence as a result of the fast growing brain. That is, the human brain continues to mature into at least the second decade of life; it is not until this time that underlying neural structures show deficits to the extent that they lead to behavioral manifestations of frank psychotic symptoms. Evidence from childhood development of persons later diagnosed with schizophrenia indicates early intellectual and neuromotor abnormalities.
Schizophrenia often runs in families. It occurs in 1 percent of the general population but up to 10 percent in those who have a family member with it such as a father, brother or sister, or close relative.
Excessive smoking of marijuana in teen years may predispose a teen to this disorder.
Ulcerative colitis: Curcumin beneficial when
combined with a medication
Ulcerative colitis is a severe inflammatory bowel disease of the colon that produces bloody diarrhea. With Crohn's disease the inflammation typically involves the small intestine, but it can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, whereas with ulcerative colitis, the disease is usually confined to the colon and rectum.
Doctors at Tel-Aviv University in Israel gave daily 3
grams a day of curcumin to patients with mild to moderate ulcerative
colitis who had not responded to optimized mesalamine treatment. Half of
the patients achieved clinical remission with the addition of curcumin
after a month. None of the placebo-plus-mesalamine control group had a
Mesalamine and curcumin (which has anti-inflammatory properties) have different but potentially synergistic mechanisms of action, therefore producing a better outcome than using either the herb or the medication alone. Normally, when a patient with ulcerative colitis does not respond to mesalamine, steroids or more dangerous medications are added to the regimen. If curcumin can replace these dangerous drugs, it would be quite a benefit to many patients.
These findings are exciting because it now encourages many more hospitals and academic centers to conduct research using herbal products, alone or in combination with medications. There is so much that is still undiscovered.
Q. I read your article on erectile dysfunction where you mention that garlic and onions help with sexual enhancement. Can these be used together with Passion Rx or other single herbal supplements?
A. Yes. The combination often leads to better results. In normally takes a day or so after consuming garlic or onions, or the combination, to notice the sexual improvements. See http://www.raysahelian.com/erectiledysfunction.html
I wanted to thank you for your amazingly informative and detailed website. I have had an issue with energy and fatigue for decades and no one has diagnosed me or helped in any way. I have had to work with it and tried to solve it alone and I decided to try using pregnenolone, but was afraid that I did not know enough about it. I found your information on it online quite some time ago and I have used your research, posts and opinions extensively. I think I have managed to use it in a very safe manner thanks to you, and it has done wonders for me. I tried taking 2 mg on and off for several years. Now I am almost 53 and I am currently taking 5mg daily. I plan to take "time off" of it starting soon. Anyway, the point is, it has made a huge difference in my quality of life thanks to your cautious guidelines.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 12, Issue 6 -- August 2015
I recently started becoming much more interested in whole flax seeds because of their various health benefits and high fiber content. I have been adding them to my soups and smoothies and sometimes I even drop a quarter of a teaspoon in my morning tea. I like biting or chewing them one or a few at a time, especially when they have soaked some liquid and are chewy. I use the organic types, both the golden and the red varieties.
There are many other ways to use flax seeds. You can add them to sauces, salad dressings, or to bake cakes, breads or muffins. You can find countless recipes on an internet search. It has a good heat stability so many of the nutrients are available after the baking process and is a good way to get extra fiber in a baked item without affecting texture and taste in a significant way. Below I discuss some of the recent studies regarding its health benefits.
A review article in a science journal touting
In an article entitled "Flaxseed - a miraculous defense against some critical maladies," researchers say: Presence of omega-3, omega-6 rich oil, alpha-linoleic acid, dietary fibers, secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, protein and minerals in flaxseed constitute a very strong basis for its utilization in various food preparations as a curative agent. An extensive body of literature illustrates that flaxseed has gained a significant position in the domain of nutritional sciences owing to its pivotal role as an antioxidant agent. Flaxseed has a preventive role against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and enhancement of memory. See http://www.raysahelian.com/flaxseed.html
Flaxseed reduces blood pressure
In a recent analysis published in the Journal of Nutrition, it was determined that consumption of flaxseed reduced BP. The researchers say, The beneficial potential of flaxseed to reduce blood pressure (especially diastolic blood pressure) may be greater when it is consumed as a whole seed and for a duration of 12 weeks or longer.
Live longer by drinking chamomile tea?
In a surprising finding, a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that among Mexican-American women who consumed chamomile, the risk of death during the study period was reduced. It's unclear why this occurs and additional studies are needed to determine if these initial findings are true and whether they apply to the general population. Personally, I think it is a good idea to have a variety of teas rather than just one or two types. Also, I am not convinced that chamomile is useful as a sleep aid. It does not work for me at all although occasionally I find someone who tells me it works for them. Chamomile tea can be drank any time of day. I generally avoid teas after mid afternoon since many of them cause cause shallow sleep. Hops tea is one of the exceptions. See http://www.raysahelian.com/chamomile.html
Carnosine, a very interesting supplement that I take
occasionally at 100 mg
Lately I have been learning more about the various health effects of carnosine and I am quite impressed. I think it has beneficial effects for eyes, brain, and other tissues in the body. A new study done in Europe found that supplementation reduced oxidation in highly trained athletes exposed to intense exercise. Male athletes from the Polish national kayak and canoe teams supplemented with 4 grams a day of carnosine for 14 days were found to have reduced exercise-induced glutathione loss and other markers of oxidation.
Even though four grams a day was used for this short study, in the long run I think 100 to 200 mg a few times a day is sufficient. This means you could open a 500 mg capsule and take a small portion of it. See http://www.raysahelian.com/carnosine.html
Dangers of high calcium supplement use, more is not better
According to a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, older people (generally older than 68) who take more than 800 milligrams of calcium a day are much more likely to be diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that causes severe vision loss.
In prior issues I have warned about taking too high amounts of daily calcium as a preventative for osteoporosis. Unless someone has very thin bones I do not feel they need to take more than 800 mg a day. Some women have been recommended by their doctors to take more than 1,000 or up to 1,500 mg a day which I think is excessive. The best way to strengthen bones is by exercising and lifting weights a few times a week. See http://www.raysahelian.com/maculardegeneration.html
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 12, Issue 5 -- July 2015
I totally agree with you that to supplement with more than 5mg of DHEA long term causes side effects. I'm 47 and started using DHEA 2 wks ago. I did the macho (idiot) thing and started with 15mg/day working up to 25mg/day for the last few days. I was angered today and cannot believe how mad I got over something which normally wouldn't have even upset me very much. I'm returning to your advised max dose of 5mg.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 12, Issue 4 -- June 2015
A few weeks ago I came
across these article titles which were based on a March 31, 2015 study published
in the British Journal of Science.
Creatine Linked to Testicular Cancer - WebMD
Will creatine give you cancer? - Men's Health
Muscle-building supplements containing creatine could increase risk for testicular cancer -- Dailymail - UK
I have received many emails by concerned creatine users regarding this study. Many use creatine supplements, either in capsule form or more commonly as a powder, to increase muscle size and bulk. I have personally used it off and on for close to two decades. What did the investigators actually determine to be the culprit? Is there reason to be concerned? Are some journalists careless, or purposely sensational, when they write an article headline?
A thorough review of the actual study published in the British Journal of Cancer, March 31, 2015 is not as definitive as the lay articles make it seem. In fact I am not sure if creatine, by itself, can be considered the culprit. The study included 356 men diagnosed with testicular cancer between 2006 and 2010, and 513 men without testicular cancer. Participants were between the ages of 18 and 55 and lived in Connecticut or Massachusetts. The researchers asked these muscle building product users about their lifetime supplement use, including use of 30 different types of muscle-building supplement powders or pills. They used product labels to determine the major ingredients, including creatine, protein, and the hormone androstenedione. Excess use of certain hormones is known to stimulate the formation of some types of cancers. The interviews showed a higher incidence of testicular cancer in those that had used muscle-building supplements. The lead researcher states, "It’s unknown what ingredients in muscle-building supplements might be responsible for the higher rate of testicular cancer."
Even though the lead researcher stated that it was unknown which of the ingredients in these products was responsible, some members of the media were quick to point the finger to creatine. In my opinion it is much more likely that some of the hormones found in these products was the culprit.
Various criticisms have been raised about the study, and its interpretation. One of the other issues with this study is that “muscle building supplements” was a vague catch-all, only disclosing three of the many ingredients that were examined: creatine, protein powder, and androstenedione. It's quite possible that some of these products could also contain impurities or "hidden" ingredients, such as androgenic steroids, not listed on the label. Androgenic steroids have been linked to testicular cancer in rats. Furthermore, some of the individuals could have been using steroids from other sources.
For the time being, I am comfortable, for myself, using creatine at a dosage of 5 grams, three or four times a week. Creatine helps muscles keep in better shape and size which is particularly helpful as we all get older.
Alzheimer's disease and dementia help
Consuming more omega-3 fatty acids -- found in many types of fish, particularly halibut, salmon, sardines, etc. -- may benefit people at risk for Alzheimer's disease. Researchers looked at 40 mentally healthy adults, aged 65 to 75, who had the gene variant which put them at risk for late-onset Alzheimer's. Those who consumed higher amounts of two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish -- DHA and EPA -- did better on cognitive tests. They also had a larger anterior cingulate cortex, a part of the brain involved in mental flexibility. The findings suggest that consuming DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids might improve mental function but do not definitively prove that consuming DHA and EPA could actually prevent Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia. Many people, who are vegetarian, can get some omega 3 oils through flax seeds or walnuts, but it is easier for the body to directly get the DHA and EPA from fish.
There are many ways to reduce the risk or dementia or help mental function.
Probiotics may be of benefit in hay fever
The so-called "friendly bacteria" known as probiotics may help reduce symptoms of hay fever. Some scientists have suggested that the rise in allergies may be caused by a lack of bacteria in the gut due to cleaner living conditions. It has been theorized that living in a super-clean environment doesn't put us in contact often enough with germs and hence might make our immune systems confused when it has to deal with harmless allergens. Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center examined 23 studies involving a total of close to 2000 people. Most of the studies showed that people with seasonal allergies who took probiotics had some improvement in at least one aspect -- such as milder symptoms or better quality of life.
Note: Even if probiotics do not have a major influence on a person's hay fever symptoms, they are beneficial for colon health and have a positive influence on the immune system. See http://www.raysahelian.com/allergicrhinitis.html
Vitamin C for cataracts in the eye
A review of several studies done regarding the influence of vitamin C on cataracts, those opacities in the lens that reduce visual clarity. A significant association of cataract risk with highest versus the lowest category of blood vitamin C levels was found. Higher vitamin C intake and blood levels appear to be protective to cataract formation. The researchers conclude, "Vitamin C intake should be advocated for the primary prevention of cataract." See http://www.raysahelian.com/cataract.html.
Posted recently on my Facebook page:
Thank you for your hard work and dedication into the needs of what the human body needs. I'm ADD and have been trying herbs to help my attention and brain activity. I take one Mind Power Rx pill in the morning with light breakfast. The amount of energy is pretty incredible and my mind is incredibly clear with huge increase in positive mood. I've noticed my memory of even when I was an adolescent return to my mind. I never thought I'd be able to remember even the way the sun is setting or the smell of the air as if I was a child/young person again. I've also noticed my work ethic increase efficiently with my profession. I work in a high stress environment that requires my full attention. I am truly blessed I stumbled upon your site and have read your research thoroughly to trust your secret blend of herbal concoctions.
A personal note from Dr. Ray - Iphone 6plus screen glass
heals itself, self repairing glass?
I don't know where else to post this. In January 2015 I bought an iphone 6+. I did not bother getting a case and unfortunately a few days later I dropped it on the floor which led to a dime sized "pebble in a pond" like circular cracks in the middle of the phone near the left edge. In April I had my phone on the passenger seat of my car while driving and the sun was hitting for quite a while. I noticed that my phone was overheating and placed it on the floor of the passenger seat to keep it out of the sun. When I reached my destination an hour later, I realized the my phone glass had repaired itself. It was like a miracle! This is a true anecdote.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 12, Issue 3 -- April 2015
Sleeping problems seem to be quite common these days. There
are a number of causes and treatments but I wanted to mention some common ones
that some people overlook. The most effective way to get a deeper sleep at night
is to expose oneself to light early in the morning, most commonly by taking a
walk in the neighborhood for at least 20 minutes. Thereafter, throughout the
day, it is important to be active with a lot of walking or other types of
activities that involve movement, especially outdoors with light or sun
exposure. You could take a break at lunch and walk around the block at work or
home. And again take a walk or jog after work. The times when I consistently
sleep the deepest are those when I have been active outside. When I spend all
day mostly indoors writing, reading, or in front of my computer, I toss and turn
Another commonly overlooked reason for sleeping difficulties is due to the alertness causing effects of dietary supplements, certain herbs, certain medications, and use of alcohol late in the evening. Some people do not get a deep rest due to being overstimulated by an excess of herbal pills that they take. Consequently they do not sleep as well and feel tired the next day. To counteract this fatigue they take even more energizing pills, or adrenal stimulating herbs, which cause insomnia. And the cycle continues day after day. If you are on medications check to see if any of them are known to cause insomnia. For a discussion of this topic, and natural ways to sleep deeper, see http://www.raysahelian.com/sleep.html
Benefits of resveratrol for prostate gland
Resveratrol is a natural phenol found in the skin of grapes (hence wine), blueberries, raspberries, and certain other berries. Much research has been focused on this substance since a 2006 study found that it could prolong the lifespan of rodents supplemented with it. I have seen an acceleration of studies in recent years that show it to have potential as an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent. I will mention new ones over time. A recent one I came across was published in the Journal of Natural Products, entitled, "Effects of Resveratrol on Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia by the Regulation of Inflammatory and Apoptotic Proteins." Basically it showed that treatment of rats with enlarged prostates with resveratrol produced a reduction in the weight of the prostate gland. See http://www.raysahelian.com/resveratrol.html.
Diet and rheumatoid arthritis, cut the sugar
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which joints, usually those of the hands and feet, are symmetrically inflamed, resulting in swelling, pain, and often the eventual destruction of the joint's interior. Most doctors do not consider that what a person eats has any form of influence on the severity of the condition. But what we eat does appear to alter the course of the disease. More and more studies are coming to the conclusion that a high sugar intake worsens symptoms and fish consumption reduces the risk. You can find more information here, http://www.raysahelian.com/rheumatoidarthritis.html regarding natural ways to deal with this condition.
Aspirin for colon cancer? Caution advised
Although the blood thinner aspirin has been recommended for those who are at high risk for colon cancer, there appears to be certain people who should not take it. New research, funded largely by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, reveals the risk for colon cancer by taking aspirin can actually increase in people with certain genetic variants. Plus, I am concerned about the increased risk for bleeding. If you are planning to take aspirin, take a baby aspirin no more than 2 times a week. There are other ways to reduce the risk for colon cancer, see http://www.raysahelian.com/coloncancer.html, and natural ways to improve blood flow and thin the blood, see http://www.raysahelian.com/bloodclot.html.
Q. I gave been searching the internet about side effects regarding rhodiola and I have found your article about it and I have been specially alerted by the side effects you encountered taking it. I am under treatment for high blood pressure for about 2 years now and my evolution was very good and almost hoping I could give up pills and manage it with diet and good exercise. Before taking rhodiola my prescription was 2.5mg of enalapril \ day. I started to take rhodiola, one in the morning and one after lunch. After 3 weeks taking rhodiola I have started waking up at 4 in the morning and could not get to sleep. I actually was feeling so awake like it was the middle of the day, no sleepy sensation no nothing. I started feeling some strange sensation into my body like a very small voltage current was passing through my body. I am 32 years old and I have never had problems with my sleep, until now. Some dizziness episodes have happened too.
A. Yes, this illustrates my point at the beginning of the newsletter that certain herbs can cause insomnia. It may not be apparent the first few days or weeks after starting them, but they can creep up on us. If one encounters such effects on sleep, the best thing to do is to stop the supplement for a few days and then resume at a lower dose and also to take a break from use.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 12, Issue 2 -- March 2015
Many aging men, and women, are visiting their doctors in order to get tested for levels of various hormones, for instance testosterone. There have been many ads placed by pharmaceutical companies promoting replacement, many articles published in magazines and online, and much discussion on television programs, about declining testosterone levels in both men and women and how replacement can improve energy levels, sex drive, mental function, and mood. The idea that is promoted is, "If testosterone is low, why not replace it?" Initially this makes sense until one considers the various short and long term side effects that can occur from such treatment. Testosterone replacement therapy, or using the over the counter alternative DHEA, can have adverse effects. The long-term risks and benefits aren't fully appreciated by patients and doctors. I discuss the risks below.
Possible risks of testosterone or DHEA excess
Prostate gland enlargement and stimulation of prostate cancer.
Blood clots can occur with increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, a potentially life threatening clot that occurs in the lungs.
Congestive heart failure: Those with congestive heart failure should usually not take testosterone replacement, as it can worsen the condition.
Increased risk for heart attack.
Increased hair loss.
I am of the opinion that the whole person has to be taken into account when considering hormone treatment as opposed to solely relying on blood studies. If a person feels fine even though a blood study shows a low testosterone hormone level, this does not necessary mean replacement is necessary. What if testosterone replacement therapy results in short term improvement in symptoms but long term deterioration in health and premature death? Even if testosterone is replaced, how do we know the ideal dosage and form? If a person has a low testosterone level but no major symptoms, it may be better not to interfere, or at most to use very low amounts of replacement, with frequent breaks. However, if low testosterone levels are associated with significant symptoms, such as fatigue, low vitality, low sex drive, low mood, etc., then it may be appropriate to consider testosterone, or DHEA, replacement or the use of certain natural supplements that address the particular symptoms of testosterone deficiency. See http://www.raysahelian.com/testosterone.html
Herbs for knee arthritis
There is early research that justifies the use of herbs as a treatment for osteoarthritis. A study involving the combination of two herbs, Curcuma longa (which contains curcumin), and Boswellia serrata (which contains boswellic acids), was helpful in reducing symptoms of knee arthritis. The treatment was safe and as good, or better, as a prescription anti-inflammatory. Joint Power Rx is a formula that I created that has these two herbs in addition to glucosamine, arthritis, and other nutraceuticals beneficial to joint health. See http://www.raysahelian.com/osteoarthritis.html
Alternative treatment for urinary tract infection?
Although this is a case report of only 2 individuals, I found it interesting. Two women with recurrent UTIs with a positive E. coli culture, not improving with antibiotics, were placed on an alternative natural regimen based on parsley and garlic, L-arginine, probiotics, and cranberry tablets. This regimen showed a significant health improvement and symptoms relief without recurrence for more than 12 months. It's too early to say in what percentage of women this treatment will work for, but it is encouraging. I am not sure if arginine played a major role. I think parsley, garlic, probiotics and cranberry were likely more influential. See http://www.raysahelian.com/urinarytractinfection.html
Q. Regarding libido products. I have ordered in the past and been satisfied with your formulations. I do have, however, a question about the Natural Sex Boosters aphrodisiac herbs 7 product series. I find the concept very intriguing, but if I have good results from taking all 7 (in series), how might I determine which specific product is (are) my preference (s)?
A. This is a good question. It will be difficult to determine this since many aphrodisiac herbs do not work well the first day but their effects can begin the second day or they can have an additive, synergistic effect with other aphrodisiac herbs over several days of use. The only way to know which of the products, by itself, works well for you is to try it by itself two or three days on, one day off, and repeating it several cycles. We have had excellent feedback from the 7 bottle package since, it seems, there are at least some of the herbs that a person will eventually respond to, or have a positive effect from the continuous rotation of the different ones. It is a good idea to take a few days off between cycles.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 12, Issue 1 -- February 2015
I recently was asked to evaluate an 84 year old woman whose family was concerned that, in the past few months, her memory was getting progressively worse and she was showing signs of moderate dementia. She could not find common words to explain herself or carry a simple conversation. A year earlier she had been fine. The family was very worried and was starting to make plans to transfer her to a 24 hour care facility since she was no longer able to take care of herself. I had a chance to review her medical history and do an exam. Based on my neurological exam I did not suspect a tumor or a stroke. She had already had a CT scan of the brain which did not show any lesions. My first inclination was to find out if the medications she was taking were potentially causing problems with her mental function. For several years she had been given a common blood pressure medication of the ACE inhibitor class called lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), and a few months later a drug for esophageal reflux treatment, called ranitidine (Zantac), was added to her regimen. Was it possible that these meds were responsible for her cognitive decline?
The silent epidemic of drug-induced mental decline in
I believe there is a silent epidemic going on in our country. It is the epidemic of rapid mental decline due to excessive use of prescription medications. Most doctors do not realize that many prescription drugs used to treat common conditions -- such as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and pain -- interfere with brain function, particularly in their older patients. When drugs are tested by pharmaceutical companies, the volunteers are often much younger than real life patients. Whereas mild mental impairment may not be noticed in these younger testing subjects, most older people, who already have some form of age related cognitive decline, can be seriously affected. Even worse is when these seniors are given several different mind-interfering drugs each day thus accelerating problems with memory, speech, alertness, focus, and sleep. A common reason for falls in the elderly is due to the side effects of medications which make them unsteady, dizzy, and cause loss of balance.
I am coming across more and more cases of older individuals reporting a rapid decline in cognitive function. When I evaluate their list of medications, I often find that their doctor has prescribed one or more that has a harmful effect on mental function. Some of these meds include antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, proton pump inhibitors, acid reflux drugs, and pain medications. A more extensive list is found here, http://www.raysahelian.com/dementia.html.
In the case of the 84 year old woman with dementia I discussed earlier, her symptoms started improving a few days after stopping the medications. She regained almost all of her mental functions within two weeks. Her memory returned and her speech improved significantly. She was able to take care of herself again and for the time being did not need to be transferred to a 24 hour care facility. In addition to discontinuing the medications, she was given a shot of vitamin B12 and a B complex pill to take daily. Surprisingly, her blood pressure remaining normal at 130/80 even after withdrawing the BP medication. For several years she had been treated for high blood pressure even though she currently did not show any elevation of blood pressure. This leads to another important point: Doctors should, at each visit, review a patient's medication list to make sure that the drugs they are taking are necessary. And, if they are, the dosages should be kept to the lowest amounts that work.
Nutritional treatment of mental decline
Some medications used for ulcer treatment or esophageal reflux may interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12. Therefore, some seniors could benefit from B12 shots and taking a vitamin B complex. Others may find mental improvement by taking fish oil pills or small amounts of a number of other nutrients and herbs such as choline, acetylcarnitine, ginkgo, etc., or a combination of them such as Mind Power Rx. For a full list see http://www.raysahelian.com/memory.html.
I suggest any older person who wishes to begin with natural supplements to do so with low dosages. Seniors are much more sensitive to prescription drugs and dietary supplements. Whereas younger people can tolerate higher amounts without side effects, older individuals can have adverse reactions on half or less of the amounts tolerated by the young.
Blood pressure medications are not needed as much in
Although most middle aged adults may be need to be treated for blood pressure higher than 140/90, research is showing that seniors older than 70, 80 or 90 do not need to be treated with BP lowering meds unless their systolic blood pressure is higher than 150 or 160. Treating their blood pressure aggressively with beta blockers, ACE inhibitors or other BP lowering meds can lead to an increase in the risk for falls and bone fractures. Natural ways to lower BP safely are discussed here, http://www.raysahelian.com/hypertension.html
Emails from readers
Vitamin D overdose side effects
I was reading your info regarding vitamin D and the side effects of taking too much. Last year my doctor prescribed 50,000 iu. After that she did another blood test and advised me to take 5000 iu daily. Over the past year I have been gradually developing, joint pain. Starting first in my right hand, almost felt like I was getting arthritis. It's gotten to the point where I get pain either in my hand, my elbow, my biceps, shoulder and/or collar bone on a daily basis. It's disrupted my sleeping on a nightly basis. I cannot reach behind me as I use to and even putting my hand on my hip causes pain. I mentioned this to my doctor during a physical. Without even examining my arm she felt that it was a rotator cuff sprain and gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory which hasn't been helpful. She said that if that didn't work then I would need a MRI test. Last nite it dawned on me the correlation between me starting Vit D and having all these symptoms. Between your article and another website, I noticed where it can cause joint and muscle pain as well muscle weakness all of which I am experiencing. So this morning I decided to stop taking it with the exception of the 500 iu that is already in my daily vitamin. Just wanted you to know that I found your article very informative. My fingers are crossed that within time I'll be back to being pain free and have mobility in my right arm.
A. It is possible that these very high amounts can cause these types of problems. There is also concern that very high doses can cause calcifications in brain tissue and other parts of the body. Do let us know if your symptoms improve. http://www.raysahelian.com/vitamind.html. Most people can benefit from vitamin D supplementation, but we should be reasonable with the amount we take. For most people 1,000 to 2,000 units a day is fine.
Coq10 and insomnia
Q. Dr. Sahelian, thanks so much for your forthright, empirically oriented common sense approach to the information you provide. Your reviews and assessments of supplements are some of the most informative and useful of any available. I always read them before trying anything new. For example, I found your insights on the potential insomnia effects of Coq10 and tyrosine to perfectly align with my own experience; yet no one else seems to write about this, even recommending 300 mg or more of Coq10 per day. If I took this I wouldn’t sleep for days.
A. I think all medical doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths, pharmacists, chiropractors, who write about natural supplements or recommend them to patients should experiment on themselves since often we get clues on their effects that are not mentioned in research papers. I found out about insomnia from coQ10 when I experimenting with dosages greater than 100 mg. Some people may take higher amounts and not notice sleep disturbances whereas others could notice it from 50 mg. This side effect is rarely if ever mentioned in research studies with this nutrient. I like CoQ10, it gives me an energy boost, but I limit my dosage to less than 50 mg and only take it once in a while.
Nutraceuticals are vitamins, herbs, nutrients, hormones, and a number of animal, insect, food and plant extracts that have biological actions. The use of nutraceuticals is increasing dramatically since there is growing evidence of clinical benefits. The term "nutraceutical" was derived from "nutrition" and "pharmaceutical" in 1989 by Stephen DeFelice, MD, founder and chairman of the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine, Cranford, NJ.
Are nutraceuticals safe? side effects, do they pose a
Many nutraceuticals have potent effects. No medicinal products are completely safe so their risks need to be characterized and controlled. Certain side effects could come from nutraceuticals including allergic reactions, insomnia, heart rhythm disturbances, interactions with other medicines, excessive blood thinning, and other serious conditions.
RDA or DRI
Research has shown that numerous dietary bioactive components that are not considered essential may still be beneficial to health. The dietary reference intake (DRI) process has been applied to nonessential nutrients, such as fiber, yet the majority of bioactive components await a recommended intake. Despite a plethora of new research over the past several years on the health effects of bioactives, it is possible that the field may never reach a point where the current DRI framework is suitable for these food components.
For concussions and brain injury
Concussions can't be prevented, treated or cured with dietary supplements, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency issued a warning in January 2014 against these products in response to a number of false claims, including promises to promote faster healing times after a concussion or other traumatic brain injury (TBI). However some dispute this claim, and use vinpocetine as an example.
Urol Clin North Am. Feb 2014. The role of nutraceuticals in male fertility. Nutraceuticals are food products that that can provide medical or health benefits by preventing or treating disease processes. The high costs associated with assisted reproductive techniques for male infertility have led consumers to find less expensive alternatives for potential treatment. Nutraceuticals are widely available and have many antioxidant properties. This articles reviews the current English literature regarding readily available nutraceuticals and their potential effects on male infertility and potential side effects with excess intake.
Nutraceuticals international raw material supplier of botanicals, vitamins, supplements