Nutrition newsletter, health and disease, role of diet and food
selection, by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
See prior issues 2013 of the Natural Healing Secrets newsletter and ways to access prior years
Natural Healing newsletter 2015 edition can be found on the nutraceuticals page.
Email from reader
Thank you for changing my life and many of my loved ones. You are my favorite doctor. to seek answers online about supplements, and Sam-e natural anti-depressant and others you have written about have helped many of my family and friends. My doctor now knows that whatever prescription she suggests, I will be researching supplements that have the same action in the body, and I seek your advice first. THANK YOU!
A. I truly appreciate such feedback.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 11 -- November, 2014
It sometimes takes decades to find out the full harm from the use of medications and hormones, especially when taken daily. The long term risks of increasing cancer rates from the use of postmenopausal hormones estrogen and progesterone took several decades to become clinically apparent. It took close to two decades to find out that Propecia and Proscar, which contain the drug finasteride, used for hair growth and prostate gland enlargement, cause erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, and other sexual changes that are often difficult to reverse. We are beginning to find out the harm cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, such as Lipitor, Zocor, and others, are causing to blood sugar levels leading to an increased risk for diabetes. And now I just starting coming across articles that some in the medical profession are suggesting that Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra -- drugs previously recommended for occasional use to improve erectile function -- are being suggested for daily use for heart health! This is crazy. I explain why below.
Viagra for heart disease?
It is well known that Viagra (sildenafil citrate) is a medication that helps blood vessels dilate throughout the body, and allows for greater blood flow to the penis thus an effective medication for erectile dysfunction. According to investigators at Sapienza University of Rome, there are early signs that it may be helpful for certain heart conditions. They treated heart patients with Viagra dosages much lower than those used for ED, and claim there were no major side effects. They believe the drug prevents the heart from changing shape in patients suffering from left ventricular hypertrophy, a condition that causes thickening and enlargement of the heart muscle, and thus it could be useful in heart failure. Sildenafil citrate is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5i) which blocks the enzyme PDE5, the end result being relaxation of smooth muscle tissue.
I have personally tried Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. I experiment with different ED medications and aphrodisiac herbal supplements since I have written a book on the topic, Natural Sex Boosters, and also have formulated different aphrodisiac formulas. There is no doubt that these drugs improve erectile function and dilate blood vessels. However, a common side effect that I find with these ED drugs, and which make me less interested in taking them, is that they cause decreased visual perception, fatigue, malaise, headache, nasal stuffiness, and muscle aches. And this is after just one or two pills. I understand the dosages recommended for long term use in heart failure are going to be much lower, but I am concerned, just as my initial paragraph of this newsletter indicates, that we will find out about a variety of other harmful effects when people use these drugs on a daily basis for months or years. I think natural ways to treat heart failure should first be explored, http://www.raysahelian.com/heartfailure.html.
Natural treatments for Ebola?
At the present time the chances of this virus causing harm to the American public is infinitesimally less than hundreds and thousands of common infections and chronic conditions that plague us human beings, yet the media just can't stop focusing an obsessive amount of its attention on it. We have had some concerned people email us asking if there are any natural cures or treatments for it. It's difficult to catch this infection unless a person is in direct contact with someone who has symptoms and through contact with bodily fluids. The virus is not airborne like the common cold, flu, and measles.
There are apparently some articles written by non-professionals touting certain natural supplements such as genistein and vitamin C but I recently searched the online repository of all medical journals and could not find any published human research regarding the role of natural supplements in the prevention or treatment of this condition. Perhaps large doses of vitamin C could be helpful, but I have no idea at this time. I will keep my eyes open for such studies, especially if there is any risk of the ebola infection becoming wider spread in the USA, which, at this point, seems quite remote.
Q. I'm a 61 yr old active male and started taking 200 mg daily of CoQ10 three months ago. I felt an increase in energy and stamina during cardio exercise, jogging, swimming, within a week. In the past month I reduced my dosage to 100 mg daily after reading online content suggesting against long term dosage at 200 mg. I'm confused about daily dosage for long term benefits. I can really feel a significant improvement in energy and performance since beginning CoQ10 -- which tells me I was very low on this nutrient -- and want all of the benefits to continue. Your advice on daily dosage please is greatly appreciated.
A. CoQ10 does boost energy. However one should not assume that just because a substance, whether natural or synthetic, increases energy that means the body is deficient in it. One can take an pharmaceutical amphetamine pill, such as Dexedrine or Ritalin, and notice an increase in energy. This does not mean that the body is deficient in these substances. There are certain nutrients, such as B vitamins, CoQ10, carnitine, etc., that do increase energy levels whether a person is deficient in them or not. However, most of the time, tolerance can develop and they stop being effective. Or side effects occur, such as difficulty with getting a deep sleep. As to CoQ10, I prefer, for long term use, not to exceed 50 mg a few times a week. Some may do well with less, others may require a higher amount. See http://www.raysahelian.com/energy.html.
Q. Really enjoyed reading your recent newsletter. Quick
question - you recommended that one does not need to take daily multi-vits.
How would you respond to the manufacturers who recommend that you need a
daily intake of keep your vitamin nutrition at optimal levels?
Appreciate your advice!
A. The consumer should never assume that the instructions on the supplement bottle label as recommended by the manufacturer are appropriate for all consumers of that product. Since I am quite familiar regarding many aspects of the dietary supplement industry, I know firsthand that many of these recommendations that you read on the label are not written by doctors or experts in nutrition, but rather by the marketing department or consultants who do not have a full understanding of human nutritional biochemistry. You could go to a health food store, pick up different bottles of a vitamin B complex, each with different amounts, for instance 10 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg, or 100 mg, and the label for each of them will likely say, "Take one capsule daily." How is it that in one product 10 mg is the daily suggestion while in another 100 mg is the recommended amount? Another example is DHEA hormone. There are different dosages on the market, from 5 mg, to 10, 25, 50 and 100 mg per pill. Again the label will likely say "Take one capsule daily." This is also true of multivitamins. There are hundreds of them on the market, each with different amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutraceuticals, and their labels also say take one (or more) daily. As I mentioned in the previous newsletter, I do not think there is a need to take a multivitamin daily, rather it is okay to skip some days.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 10 -- September, 2014
Basic lifestyle habits lead to a longer lifespan. Exercise, a healthy diet and good sleep slow down the aging process at a cellular level, and protect the body and mind against the harm caused by stress. A study at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, involving hundreds of older women, found that stressful events lead to shortening of telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age. Telomeres naturally grow shorter with age, but unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, poor diet and too little sleep, along with chronic emotional stress, can cause them to shorten sooner. However, good lifestyle habits help keep telomeres longer. As to the use of dietary supplements to increase human lifespan, research in this area is quite limited. For more information on how to live longer, see http://www.raysahelian.com/longevity.html.
Organic foods are healthier
Much controversy has been raised in the past few years when some studies hinted that there was basically little difference in nutritional content between organically or non-organically raised produce. A new report says organic produce and grains contain more protective antioxidants, less pesticide residue and lower levels of the toxic metal cadmium than food raised in traditional ways. Important plant compounds that have multiple beneficial effects, such as flavanones, flavonols and anthocyanins, are found significantly higher in organic produce. I will update this page as more studies are published, see http://www.raysahelian.com/organic.html.
More benefits of anti-inflammation diet or supplements
Last month I wrote that many medical conditions -- and some for which doctors are not aware of causation -- are due to excess inflammation. I just came across an interesting study that supports this viewpoint. A study done at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass, finds a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the risk for the fatal neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oils, reduce inflammation. See
Lipitor cholesterol drug causes diabetes
Pfizer pharmaceutical company is being sued by patients who have been placed on Lipitor to reduce their cholesterol levels. Over the past few years it has become apparent that these cholesterol-lowering statin drugs increase blood sugar levels and cause diabetes, hence shortening life span. Yet, some doctors still nonchalantly prescribe these dangerous drugs for many patients who really do not need them. See http://www.cnbc.com/id/101905701. Lipitor is the best-selling prescription drug of all time, with global sales of more than $130 billion since it went on the market in 1996. Many patients that have seen over the years who have been placed on these cholesterol lowering drugs complain of of muscle pains, weakness, fatigue, and memory problems.
Emails from readers
Q. Greetings! I am a doctor of naturopathy and Iíve just discovered your very informative website! Thank you so much for all that great info. I especially liked what your wrote: "Never completely rely on any nutritional information from any source, whether this information is on a medical website, major news website, a medical textbook, official government website, medical university web site, etc., or my website. Nutritional research is in its infancy, and many varied opinions exist. It is impossible to update the thousands of pages on a website to keep them always current. There could be misspellings or wrong interpretations. Some sources may purposely provide false information in order to sell a product or damage the reputation of a competitor. There are no guarantees that any information written anywhere is correct. Every consumer and reader should keep this in mind. There is no such thing as infallibility."
A. Thank you very much. Yes, many people are not critical thinkers and believe everything they read and that is why I wrote this to make sure people keep a questioning mind.
Q. Really enjoyed reading your recent newsletter. Quick
question though - you recommended that one does not need to take daily multi-vits.
How would you respond to the manufacturers who recommend that you need a daily
intake of keep your vitamin nutrition at optimal levels?
A. Each manufacturer has a different product with different combinations of vitamins and minerals, and different dosages of each. Each human being has a different physiology and different diet and lifestyle habit. There is no way that one multivitamin product can be appropriate for everyone. Since there is still some controversy as to whether daily supplementation for health reasons and longevity is appropriate, I tend to err on the side of caution and suggest that there is no need to take a multivitamin pill daily. Two or three times a week seems to be a reasonable compromise.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 9 -- August, 2014
We have recently received several interesting questions by email that I think many of you would find interesting. One reader wants to know what to make of some of the claims in the media by doctors and scientists that the use of vitamins and supplements is useless. Another reader wants to know whether to take some form of estrogen in order to reduce the severity of hot flashes even with the risk of potential increase in cancer. We had an email requesting my response to vitamin D supplementation recommendations of the US preventive Task Force. And, lastly, a person with heart disease wants to know if Lipitor, a drug used to lower cholesterol, was necessary to take after heart surgery in order to reduce future risk of a heart attack. I will offer some practical answers to these inquiries.
Are multivitamins useless?
Q. Has Dr. Sahelian written anything that responds directly to reports that say that taking multivitamins is basically useless? What one frequently reads, or hears from doctors on TV, is that people who eat a good and balanced diet have no good reason to take pills for nutritional supplementation.
A. Over the past few decades there have been thousands of studies regarding the benefits and harms of taking multivitamins and supplements and the results have been mixed. It is very difficult, and complicated, to do such studies because there are so many variables to evaluate and the study subjects have so many lifestyle factors that influence results such as their diet, sleep habits, activity levels, compliance with taking the vitamin pills regularly over months and decades, etc. Plus, often the researchers who do such studies have no clue on how to conduct them properly. Let's take the case of vitamin E. Many times investigators who evaluate the role of vitamin E supplements in a group of people over a span of several months or years provide synthetic vitamin E or provide too high doses, such as 600 iu or 1,000 iu. They then come out with findings that supplementation was not helpful and the media propagates what they say without critically analyzing the type of vitamin E given, or the dosage provided. It is possible, and likely, that providing 1000 iu or more of synthetic vitamin E daily could do more harm than good, and it is also possible that providing 50 to 100 units daily, or a few times a week, of natural vitamin E may lead to improved overall health. But the media, and many doctors, are clueless and they do not make these kinds of distinctions resulting in a lot of misrepresentation and bad information passed on to the public. (On a supplement label natural vitamin E is listed as d-alpha tocopherol. In contrast, synthetic forms of vitamin E are labeled with a dl- prefix, dl-alpha-tocopherol. Many studies evaluating the role of vitamin E in health and disease have focused mostly on synthetic vitamin E supplements without the investigators recognizing that health benefits could be different between the two. Also, some researchers do not recognize the likelihood that several types of natural vitamin E substances are beneficial, not just alpha tocopherol.) See http://www.raysahelian.com/vitamine.html
One could write volumes citing the statistical numbers of all of these trials done over decades, but, for now, I don't think that would be necessary. Until better studies are done for long periods by researchers who actually know what they are doing, I think some simple and practical advice is what most people need. I do not think it is necessary to take a multivitamin daily. I think taking a pill two or three times a week is fine and a dose of natural vitamin E totaling 100 to 400 units a week should be a reasonable amount -- not too little, not too much. As to other supplements one could consider taking regularly, I have some basic advice here, http://www.raysahelian.com/diet.html. Remember that this is not an exact science and there are as many opinions as there are doctors and nutrition experts. And I wholeheartedly agree that diet is more important, by far, than nutritional supplementation.
Estrogen - the benefit versus the risk
Q. I am 54, and a survivor of uterine cancer, having had early detection and a radical hysterectomy 2 years ago, leaving no reproductive organs behind. I was put on the Vivelle estrogen patch after the hysterectomy It's a little over two years later. I am feeling great. I am worried about some of the things I have been reading in regard to the estradiol replacement and stories of breast cancer. I know you don't have a crystal ball and cannot determine my journey with this but, would it be beneficial to bit the bullet and go through the flashes? Or, would it be beneficial I stay on it, doing a lower dose, still getting some estrogen to combat other things like aging, hair loss, skin changes, osteoporosis, etc.? I appreciate your thoughts.
A. This is a good question and a difficult one to answer. There is an increased risk for breast cancer and deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) in those who take estrogen but this has to be balanced with the symptoms of hot flashes and other unpleasant effects of estrogen shortage and the risk for bone thinning. I think the risk for breast cancer is much less when low dosages are used and especially when occasional breaks are used from the hormone. Therefore taking a middle of the road approach -- that is low dose estrogen with occasional breaks from use -- may be an one option to try. There are no easy answers and each person has to determine the balance, and pros and cons, for themselves. If the severity of the hot flashes is truly interfering with quality of life, then it is worth it to try low dosages of estrogen to reduce the symptoms. There are other ways to reduce hot flashes naturally, see http://www.raysahelian.com/hotflashes.html.
Soy products and various herbs have been suggested for menopausal symptoms and the results of studies have been mixed, for the latest information see http://www.raysahelian.com/menopause.html
Latest vitamin D recommendations
Q. Please comment on new vitamin D recommendations by U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. If they are not recommending screening they should recommend supplementing with minimum 4000 iu daily 365 days a year for the entire population.
A. Over the past few years I have frequently written about vitamin D and how I think that most people would benefit from some supplementation. However, I have also cautioned about the lack of proof of whether the general population is benefitted from regular blood level testing and I have also cautioned against using high doses to supplement. The link you provide gives the opinion of the USPSTF which is an organization whose opinion I respect. I generally am in agreement with the information presented in that article. I do not think that everyone should supplement with 4000 units as you suggest since unknown risks could occur that I mention in my article at http://www.raysahelian.com/vitamind.html. I prefer more in the 400 to 2,000 iu range of dosage.
Do the benefits of statin drugs outweigh the risks?
Q. I had a coronary artery bypass graft CABG surgery in 2002. I was on Lipitor to lower cholesterol for awhile and then red yeast rice. My cholesterol level dropped. I also changed my diet and stopped eating red meat and poultry. I eat fish, veggies, and fruits. I got off the statin drug after a couple of years and my blood profile, including cholesterol, CRP, etc., is really good. I had a stress test recently and I have no blockages. I went to a new internist today who was shocked that Iím not on a statin medication. Does a statin provide any protection over and above lowering cholesterol? Why would I need a statin if my cholesterol levels are normal? A statin drug may decrease inflammation, but Iím already accomplishing that with diet and exercise. Does the use of a statin medication like Lipitor provide any protection against heart attack or worsening atherosclerosis in those who have heart disease but do not have a cholesterol problem? Before I look for another doctor who is more open to alternative medicine or treatment of coronary artery disease Iíd appreciate your thoughts. You have no idea how much I appreciate the chance to have some questions answered by someone who is not so invested in statin drug therapy.
A. Many doctors are placing their patients who have any cholesterol elevation or any form of heart disease, even mild, on these statin drugs with the idea that they may reduce the risk for worsening heart disease. I plan to review this topic in more detail in the next newsletter but for the time being my impression is that most doctors are not considering the various serious side effects that can occur from using these medications. These drugs may lower the risk for heart disease but may increase the risk for disease in other parts of the body. I will offer more thoughts in the next issue. See http://www.raysahelian.com/heartdisease.html.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 8 -- August, 2014
With the summer heat full on, what is a good, healthy beverage, besides water, to keep us hydrated and which does not pack a lot of calories? During these summer months many people resort to sugared or artificially sweetened drinks and sodas, or consume fructose heavy fruit juices. Others drink iced tea or coffee. I have recently been making large batches of sugar-free lemonade which I keep in my refrigerator. I buy organic, pure unsweetened lemon juice from Whole Foods or other health food stores. In a pitcher I add water, the concentrated lemon juice, and stevia liquid as a natural sweetener (which has no calories). You can also use stevia powder. If you get a good kind of stevia, it should not have an unpleasant aftertaste. Then I add fresh mint or parsley or sometimes I use dried flakes of mint or parsley. You can be creative and add a little bit of ginger or other herbs, too, or even whole or sliced strawberries or other berries. Refrigerate the pitcher and drink portions of it, with added ice if you wish, on a hot day. Children like this lemonade a lot and there are no sugar calories to be concerned about. As to the exact amount of water, stevia, and lemon juice to mix, I leave it up to you to try and find a combination that works well for your taste. A little bit of trial and error and you will have your own, delicious, personal recipe. See http://www.raysahelian.com/stevia.html to learn more about this no calorie, safe, sweetener.
Inflammation in the body influenced by diet
No matter what common, chronic disease a person has, it is a good idea to try to lessen its severity by dietary and lifestyle changes instead of relying exclusively on medications. It is probable that many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, certain forms of cancer and allergies, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and others, are influenced by inflammation. Chronic, low-grade inflammation is made worse by excessive belly fat, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and gum disease. Infection by germs, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and others are also known to cause inflammation, so does exposure to pollutants and toxins. As we know, lifestyle-linked diseases have reached high levels in Western countries, while remaining less common in the developing world. Often doctors are puzzled regarding how to effectively treat these chronic conditions and do not have full knowledge regarding what causes them.
There are steps we can take to lower inflammation in our body, and diet is one simple way to do so. I would like to point out one recent study that explains clearly the role of dietary changes regarding inflammation.
This study compared the effects of chronic high-fish oil and high-lard diets on obesity-related inflammation. A high-lard diet induced systemic and peripheral inflammation and insulin resistance. Conversely, compared with a high-lard diet, a high-fish oil diet resulted in a lower degree of systemic inflammation and insulin resistance. The authors conclude, "The replacement of lard (saturated fatty acids) with fish oil in chronic high-fat feeding prevented or eased the development of systemic and tissue inflammation."
For a more in depth review of inflammation and how to reduce it through proper food selection and dietary supplements, and more details on this study, see http://www.raysahelian.com/inflammation.html
Reduce your risk for hearing loss
The objective of this study done in India was to evaluate high frequency hearing (above 8 kHz) loss among prolonged mobile phone users. The wide usage of mobile phone was so extensive that the researchers were unable to find enough non-users as a control group. Therefore they compared the non-dominant ear to the dominant ear using audiometric measurements. They found a significant high frequency hearing loss in the dominant ear compared to the non-dominant ear. See http://www.raysahelian.com/hearing.html for practical advice on reducing your risk for hearing loss with age, and also some natural supplements that may be of help.
Ginger herb good for diabetics
The effect of ginger consumption on blood sugar, lipid profile and some inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus was studied. Subjects consumed 1600 mg (1.6 grams) ginger a day and were compared to another group who consumed 1600 mg wheat flour. After 3 months, those who ate ginger had reduced blood sugar levels and ginger improved insulin sensitivity and reduced some aspects of inflammation in the body. Additional benefits of ginger are discussed here, http://www.raysahelian.com/ginger.html. An alternative to eating the herb is taking a tablet or capsule.
Once or twice a month I go to a sushi restaurant, mostly to have some Ikura, which is the Japanese name for salmon eggs. I take along fresh ginger, about the size of a little finger, and slice it on an accompanying fish dish. I also take along stevia liquid and ease 2 or 3 drops in the green tea cup.
Grape seed extract for menopause symptoms?
Women aged 40 to 60 years who had at least one menopausal symptom were randomized to receive grape seed extract tablets containing either low-dose (100 mg/d) or high-dose (200 mg/d) proanthocyanidin, or placebo, for 8 weeks. The following changes were observed during the course of the study: Physical symptom score, hot flash score, and Insomnia Scale score decreased in the high-dose group after 8 weeks of treatment. Anxiety and Depression Scale score and systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased in the low-dose and high-dose groups after 4 weeks. Muscle mass increased in the low-dose and high-dose groups after 8 weeks of treatment. The investigators conclude: "Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract is effective in improving the physical and psychological symptoms of menopause while increasing muscle mass and reducing blood pressure in middle-aged women." For more details, see http://www.raysahelian.com/grapeseed.html
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 7 -- July, 2014
I never rely on the results of one or two studies alone to form an opinion regarding the benefits of a dietary supplement. I like to see results from several trials before feeling more confident in accepting the overall findings or conclusions. I was recently revising my book Natural Sex Boosters and came across two new studies published in 2014 on tribulus terrestris, an herb used as an aphrodisiac. One study done in Tehran, Iran, showed the herb to be quite effective in women who had low sexual desire. The other study, completed in Spain, showed the herb to have no benefit for men with erectile dysfunction. In my experience over the past decade, I have found tribulus to be effective as a sexual enhancer in both men and women. Based on these two studies can we say for certain that tribulus is only effective in women, or was there another reason for the differences in the outcomes of the studies?
New tribulus terrestris herbal studies in
2014, interesting information
I constantly search through medical journals looking for new research on aphrodisiac herbs done in humans and I get excited when I come across them since they are done quite infrequently. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I recently came across these two human studies.
Effective in women with low sexual
This study, done in Tehran, Iran, was designed as a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial to assess the safety and efficacy of Tribulus terrestris in women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder during their fertile years. Sixty seven women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder were randomly assigned to Tribulus terrestris extract, several grams a day, or placebo for 4 weeks. At the end of the fourth week, patients in the Tribulus group had experienced significant improvement in sexual desire, arousal, lubrication, and satisfaction.
Not effective in men with erectile
This study done in Spain selected thirty healthy men over the age of 40 with erectile dysfunction. Patients were randomized into two groups of fifteen subjects each. The study group received 800 mg of Tribulus terrestris, divided into two doses per day for thirty days and the control group received placebo administered in the same way. At the dose and interval studied, Tribulus terrestris was found to be no more effective than placebo on improving symptoms of erectile dysfunction or serum total testosterone.
My comments: The dosage in this study on men was 800 mg a day, there is no mention whether it was an extract. The dosage in the trial on women used several grams a day, significantly more than the men took. You can see why we cannot fully rely on one or two studies to form an opinion on the effectiveness of a supplement or medication. The same herb can have no effect on a low dose, have a great deal of benefit on the proper amount, and cause adverse reactions if too much is taken. Much also depends on the methodology used by the investigators and how they do their statistical calculations.
What is the right dose of tribulus?
It is difficult to say since it depends on how the herb was grown, how it was harvested and processed, how long it stayed in storage, whether it is an extract or plain powder, and many other factors. I do have experience with the product by Physician Formulas. It has 500 mg of an extract that contains 40 percent saponins, some of the active ingredients in the herb. We find that one to three capsules a day is quite effective in men and women. If you purchase a product from a different company, the effective dosage could be different, it could be higher or lower. You can't tell until you try for yourself.
Autism influenced by germs in the colon?
Bacteria living in the intestines and colon may affect symptoms of autism by releasing substances in the gut that cross into the blood and make it to brain tissue and influence the health of nerve cells or influence the release of brain chemicals. A small study found that some children with autism have different types of intestinal germs compared to children without autism. Bacteria, fungi and yeast living in our bodies are important to health. They can affect the bodyís susceptibility to infection, they can affect body weight and may even play a role in cancer. Thereís also some evidence they play a role in mental health. "Most gut bacteria are beneficial, aiding food digestion, producing vitamins, and protecting against harmful bacteria,Ē says Dae-Wook Kang of the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University, an author on the new study. ďIf left unchecked, however, harmful bacteria can excrete dangerous metabolites or disturb a balance in metabolites that can affect the gut and the rest of the body, including the brain." Children with autism tend to have abnormal and less-diverse communities of gut bacteria.
My comments: It is still not clear whether supplementation with probiotics or changes in dietary intake of fermented foods can make a difference in children with autism. Makes one ponder whether perhaps certain forms of mental conditions, for instance chronic anxiety, mood disorders, and others, may be, at least slightly or partially, influenced by manipulation of the intestinal microflora. See http://www.raysahelian.com/autism.html
Q. I have been hearing about the benefits of cacao and chocolate for a long time. What is the advantage of taking a cacao supplement instead of eating chocolate?
A. I am not a big fan of chocolate bars as health foods since chocolate, even dark, has a lot of added calories from sugar and fat. There is little point in getting the beneficial flavonoids in cacao while at the same time exposing the body to harmful sugars and fats. The Cocoa powder supplement is a good alternative at one to five capsules a day. The flavonoids in cocoa help lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel health, and have other good antioxidant benefits to the body. See http://www.raysahelian.com/cacao.html
Q. How long can the
affects of using a sex drive supplements last as I'm wanting to use these
natural products for the rest of my life because without it I have no sex
drive at all. Can they be taken for years? I'm 30 years old. Are there side
affects of taking them long term. Will my body get immune to the aphrodisiac
pills due to taking them for long periods even if they are natural?
A. In my experience tolerance does not develop as long as sex drive enhancing natural supplements are not used all the time. If a person takes two days off each week, and a full week off each month, the benefits should continue for months or years. I also suggest alternating different herbs and formulas instead of taking the same one all the time. See http://www.raysahelian.com/sexdrive.html
Q. I recently
experimented with 10 mg of pregnenelone. It dramatically improved my energy,
memory, mood, and concentration...within a week. Quite remarkable. This makes me
wonder if my 95 year old mother could benefit from a small dose. Just in the
past year or so her strength, energy, cognitive skills, and concentration have
declined substantially. Any thoughts on supplementation for a woman this age?
A. I like the effects from pregnenolone but I am concerned with the possibility of heart rhythm disturbances that it can cause, especially in older individuals whose hearts can go into irregular beats even with minor provocations. See http://www.raysahelian.com/pregnenolone.html
Statin drug side effects testimonial
Q. I found your website while researching the possible side effects of Lipitor. I was prescribed it approximately 2 years ago to keep my cholesterol levels in check. After 18 months of insomnia and extremely painful night hand cramps, I took myself off it. These problems have since improved although they haven't entirely gone away. I also think my irritable bowel disease and anxiety became worse while I was on it. See http://www.raysahelian.com/statins.html
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 6 -- June, 2014
The key to good health and longevity is to find a good
balance with most everything we eat or do: not too much, not too little. Recent
studies show people who exercise too much, or do not exercise enough, die sooner
than those who exercise moderately. This same principle should also apply to
supplement intake. We keep getting many emails from people who are having side
effects from taking too high doses of dietary supplements. Here is a recent one,
"I took a really high
dose of vitamin D as was suggested by a popular naturopath as a natural flu
vaccine. I have had fatigue, aches and I never thought it was because of vit D
since I was completely unaware of its toxicity. Months later my serum calcium
was elevated and finally I put the pieces together with internet research.
Learning about vit D toxicity makes me so upset that there was no warning on the
bottle, and how stupid of me to do that."
Later in this newsletter I will mention a few other emails we have had recently regarding adverse reactions from the use of high doses of certain natural products taken for too long. As you all know I am a big believer in the benefits of these natural herbs and vitamins, but I am also aware that more is not necessary better. I want you to get the benefits without being unnecessary exposed to the risks.
Which supplements to take regularly on a daily or weekly
Q. I am in my 40s, excellent health and am using one capsule of MultiVit Rx daily and I think it's great. I would like to know if combining the MultiVit Rx with other supplements such as curcumin, garlic, reishi mushroom, and milk thistle together is ok? How can one know how much is the right dose and how to combine them? Seems like many supplements and vitamins, herbs etc...all have their own good properties...how can a person with normal health know which nutritional supplements to take on a daily basis?
A. This is an excellent question and one that I am asked often. There are countless beneficial supplements out there and if you read articles in health magazines or online, or promotional materials from vitamin companies, it seems that we can benefit from all of them. But we certainly can't take them all. So, what is the solution? There is no one answer appropriate for everyone and it is very difficult, even with a complete physical exam and blood studies, to know what nutritional supplements, in what dosages, and in what combinations are ideal. There is a wide range of differences in response and need between people, and this also changes within each person over time. What works for one person may cause side effects in another. There are just as many regimens as there are people on this planet. Each person is unique due to age, weight, sex, medical condition, diet, exercise or activity level, temperature and climate where they live, sleep patterns, hormonal status, other supplements consumed, digestion, absorption, metabolism, liver and kidney function, mood and mental function, other medicines taken, etc, etc.
As a general rule most people will do fine taking a nutritional supplement that has low dosages of the basic vitamins such as Bs, C, D, E, etc, along with one to three fish oil pills, probiotics, and half or one teaspoon of psyllium daily with a meal for extra fiber. A person could occasionally take a berry supplement such as acai, bilberry, goji or other berries, along with occasionally taking any one or more of the following in low dosages: Acetylcysteine, acetyl l-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, astaxanthin, bee propolis or royal jelly, carnosine, carnitine, CoQ10, curcumin, grape seed extract, mangosteen, milk thistle, mushroom extracts such as cordyceps, maitake or reishi, pine bark extract, quercetin, pomegranate, spirulina or chlorella. Nutritional supplementation is an art, not an exact science, and no two doctors or nutrition experts will agree on the same recommendations. Some doctors even think no supplements are needed. There is a wide range of possibilities to explore, and ultimately it becomes a personal decision, based at times on trial and error, and also based on personal likes and dislikes and how you feel when you take these supplements. As you can see there are many different possibilities, and it's fun to try different supplements over a course of months or years to see which ones work for you. Some people have a tendency to be too enthusiastic and I do not think it is necessarily helpful to take too many pills a day.
Exposure to pollutants and toxins - when to worry
Q. My question is about Bisphenol-A. Since it is ubiquitous in just about all paper products, I was wondering if there is any danger in touching paper constantly such as when reading a book or handling money. I've heard money and receipts can have high levels. With the high levels on money and receipts, is cross contamination possible? For instance, if an individual touches money or receipts and then immediately touches and uses his or her phone, does the BPA now transfer onto the phone in high levels? Should the hands and phone both be washed? What about if a receipt touches a table or a book or some other item, should the item be washed to prevent further spread of the BPA?
A. Bisphenol A is a key building block of polycarbonate, which is a lightweight, high-performance plastic with many practical uses. It is one of the top 100 produced chemicals in the world. Bispenol A is a common chemical used in everyday products such as plastic drink containers and baby bottles, and present in some canned foods. Government studies have shown that most Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies. It is possible that tiny amounts of Bisphenol-A may be absorbed through the skin from paper, but for practical reasons it is best not to worry about all the minute pollutants that we are constantly exposed to from everywhere, otherwise the anxiety itself will cause more harm and reduce our quality of life than the actual harm from the small amounts of toxins and pollutants we are constantly exposed to from variety of sources. Trying to avoid all such exposure is too stressful and I take the philosophical approach in not being a perfectionist. There are too many other things that influence our health to focus on. We need to develop the wisdom to determine which things to focus on, and which to ignore.
antidepressant causes heart problems
Q. I have been taking Sam-e for eight years and also have had atrial fibrillation for about the same amount of time. I read on your web site that there may be a correlation between Sam-e and heart arrhythmia. I take 1000 mg a day of Sam-e and my A fib is to the point where I need cardiac ablation.
A. SAM-e is an excellent natural antidepressant and I notice the mood enhancement the very first day when I take a 200 mg tablet. However, in high doses, it can also cause anxiety and speed heart rate and cause heart rhythm disturbances. Being aware of these adverse effects can help us stop the natural medication, or reduce the dosage, before symptoms get to the point of needing medical care. Another option is to alternate between different natural antidepressants such as 5-HTP and St. John's wort, thus reducing the side effects from the consistent use of just one of them. See http://www.raysahelian.com/depression.html
Hair loss from DHEA
Q. I desperately need advice. I was prescribed DHEA for very low cortisol levels. Unfortunately the doctor did not adjust the dose when my DHEA became too high and I continued taking it for another 3 months. I am now experiencing extreme hair loss. I stopped taking DHEA 6 weeks ago but the hair loss has not been arrested. What can I do and will my hair ever regrow again. I am so depressed that I can kill myself.
A. DHEA is a hormone that converts into testosterone. In the last issue of the newsletter I mentioned how excited medical doctors have been in recent years to treat patients with low testosterone levels and now we are finding out that these patients have a higher rate of heart disease and heart attack. DHEA is a good hormone to use occasionally to boost sex drive and wellbeing, but when used regularly in can cause hair thinning in both men and women. In some cases hair regrows after stopping the hormone but in others it may not. I am not aware of any natural supplements that can consistently and effectively regrow hair, but perhaps one may need to temporarily resort to a medication such as finasteride for hair growth. There are some natural options that one could consider for hair growth as mentioned in this article, http://www.raysahelian.com/hair.html.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 5 -- May, 2014
Testosterone prescriptions in the U.S. tripled in the last decade due to heavy marketing by pharmaceutical companies. The ads promised men that replacing this hormone will boost their sex drive, stamina and well-being. Yes, testosterone does increase sex drive and well-being, but at a cost. Recent studies indicate a significant increase in the rate of heart attacks among older men who were given prescription testosterone in the form of gels, creams, or shots. Part of the problem is that doctors often prescribe too high a dose. Taking a lesser dose, or using the hormone less frequently can reduce the risks. We often get many inquiries regarding natural ways to raise testosterone levels and I have provided a full article on this topic at http://www.raysahelian.com/testosterone.html. At this time my viewpoint is that the risks associated with prescription testosterone do not apply to natural ways in increasing testosterone levels through lifestyle changes, dietary supplements, and foods.Alternatives to testosterone hormone replacement
Consider carnitine, B vitamins, CoQ10, bee pollen, rhodiola, ginseng, or MultiVit Rx, a comprehensive multivitamin formula that enhances wellbeing, vitality, and energy. Daily exercise helps you sleep better which naturally increases testosterone levels and provides more energy.
Natural herbal ways to increase libido include catuaba, muira puama, tongkat ali, horny goat weed, maca, yohimbe, mucuna pruriens, tribulus terrestris, or a combination formula that includes all of them called Passion Rx.
Bigger muscles and more strength
Creatine monohydrate works very well to increase muscle size within a few days and so do protein powders. But they work much better when combined with some time spent at the gym lifting weights or at home doing pushups and lifting some heavy objects repetitively.
enhancement and better brain function
There are lots of supplements that work including acetyl l-carnitine, carnosine, DMAE, bacopa, B vitamins, vinpocetine, DMG, TMG, and others. Consider Mind Power Rx a comprehensive mind boosting formula that includes these nutrients and herbs.
In addition to the increased risk of heart attacks, testosterone hormone treatment is associated with a higher risk for certain cancers such as prostate cancer, and estrogen treatment in women is associated with a higher rate of breast cancer. These are some of the additional reasons why I prefer middle aged and older individuals consider the alternatives.
Q. Can you tell me if the use of saw palmetto herb changes levels of the PSA test for prostate growth?
A. I have seen conflicting results in the literature, but most studies do not find a major influence. As time goes on the medical profession is realizing that too many men are getting their PSA levels tested for no good reason. See http://www.raysahelian.com/psa.html
J Urol. 2013. The effect of increasing doses of saw palmetto fruit extract on serum prostate specific antigen: analysis of the CAMUS randomized trial. No affect was seen on serum prostate specific antigen more than placebo, even at relatively high doses.
Lutein for children with weak eyesight
Q. Can lutein supplement and eyesight Rx vision product be given to children, for instance 10 years old, and what would be the dosage? Are there any side effect in kids? My child has nearsightedness and I wanted to find natural ways to help his vision.
A. These supplements have not been tested long term in children so we do not know the benefits and potential harm. I prefer children get lutein from vegetables such as corn and others, for food sources see http://www.raysahelian.com/lutein.html. If the child's doctor recommends lutein pills, I would limit weekly lutein supplement intake to no more than 10 to 15 mg in divided dosages. We have had reports from parents that their children noticed improvement in vision using half a tablet of Eyesight Rx but this formula was developed for adults and we do not have too much feedback regarding its effects in children and I would not feel comfortable kids taking more than half a tablet three times a week. Doctor's approval is suggested. Consuming cold water fish such as salmon and sardines is also beneficial for vision, see http://www.raysahelian.com/myopia.html for more info.
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 4 -- April, 2014
I was recently invited to dinner by a neighbor at his
house. He had also invited a few of his friends. There were ten of us at
the dinner table and the host introduced us and mentioned a little bit
about our careers. He and his wife had prepared a delicious meal of wild
rice, steamed vegetables, and chicken. I am mostly vegetarian but a few
times a month I will eat some chicken or fish. While I was minding my
business sampling from my plate, one of the guests, who I had not met
before, turns to me and says, "I can't believe that as a doctor who
believes in natural health you are eating chicken. Are you not concerned
about the health hazards?" I was taken a little by surprise. I replied,
"No. I totally understand and respect those who are purely vegetarian or
vegan, but I see no harm in occasionally having a piece of chicken or
fish." The dinner continued and there were interesting conversations on
all sorts of topics. Dessert was then served that included a piece of
brownie and a scoop of ice cream. I asked the host to only give me a
third of a portion. As I looked across the table, the person who had
given me a hard time about the chicken was eagerly devouring his plate
of dessert, including the vanilla ice cream. After a pause he asked the
host for seconds. At this point I could not resist but ask him, "I
thought you were concerned about the health issues of eating chicken but
now you are on your second plate of dessert. I can't make sense of where
you stand." His reply was simply, "I enjoy desserts." He looked back
down at his plate and he went on relishing his second plate of dessert
without further explanation.
What is the point of this story? See below.
The chicken, the brownie, magnesium stearate, and
I related the above story because the illogical nature of this type of thinking reminds me of emails we get from people about magnesium stearate, a lubricant present in tiny amounts in supplement capsules. Apparently there are some web sites that warn about the dangers of mag stearate even though it is present in almost insignificant amounts in some capsules. We get emails all the time about people all worried about ingesting this substances even though stearic acid is present in large amounts in chocolate and other foods. I have a whole discussion of this topic at http://www.raysahelian.com/magnesiumstearate.html. I suspect the vast majority of these individuals who are so concerned about mag stearate ingestion also, just like the dinner guest above, consume other foods on a regular basis that are full of sugar and bad fats, but somehow get all "freaked out" about the lubricant. It also reminds me of certain people I know who insist at drinking only bottled water for health reasons, but on the other hand will regularly consume chocolate bars with all the added sugar, cookies, cakes, fried foods, and so on.
I just wanted to write about this topic of putting things in perspective because I see it often among patients and friends and also the emails we often get from folks unnecessarily concerned about trivial matters while ignoring more obvious and significant food habits that are of far greater risk to overall health.
Taking a supplement, with or without food?
This is a common question that many ask of us. The answer is "it depends." If you are taking a supplement for general health reasons, for instance antioxidants, and are not looking for a specific or particularly noticeable effect from it, then taking it with food is a good choice. This applies to most vitamins and multivitamins and minerals. If you wish to feel a mental or physical effect from a supplement, take it on an empty stomach at least 20 minutes to half an hour before breakfast. These include pills to enhance the mind or libido. If you are still not sure when to take a particular supplement that you have purchased, just take it right before you eat. If you find that a pill you are taking on an empty stomach is too potent for you, then take it with food and when the contents of the pill are diluted with the food in the stomach, the effects from it won't be as jarring.
Atrial fibrillation and the role of fish oils
Atrial fibrillation is a condition in which the heart's upper chambers quiver instead of beating regularly. This arrhythmia increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, cognitive impairment and death. Does fish oil consumption reduce or increase the risk for atrial fibrillation? The answer will come as a surprise to many. There seems to be a U-shaped association between consumption of marine n-3 fatty acids and development of atrial fibrillation. A total of 57 053 Danish participants 50-64 years of age were enrolled in the Diet, Cancer, and Health Cohort Study between 1993 and 1997. Dietary intake of fish and marine omega-3 oils was assessed. The study results showed a U-shaped association between consumption of fish oils and risk of A Fib. In other words those who had the lowest consumption and those who had the highest consumption had more of a risk of the heart irregularity than those who had a good intake but not too much. http://www.raysahelian.com/atrialfibrillation.html
This again shows how moderation is often best. As we shall see below.
Who lives longer, sedentary people or ultra
Studies have show that does who exercise moderately live longer than those who move little and those who exercise excessively such as marathon runners. Perhaps pushing the body too much, such as running more than 5 to 10 miles a day, damages tissues and creates excess oxidants that the body cannot repair quick enough.
Melatonin and endometriosis
In this study forty women with endometriosis, aged 18 to 45 years, were given 10 mg of melatonin in the evening for a period of 8 weeks. Melatonin improved sleep quality and reduced the need for the women to take pain medications. The researchers think that melatonin may act as a pain reducing hormone. See http://www.raysahelian.com/endometriosis.html
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 3 -- April, 2014
Did you know that lack of deep sleep contributes to chronic aches and pains? A major frustration of doctors is trying to diagnose and treat vague aches and pains that some patients report. A doctor may do a full medical history, a full exam, do some routine blood tests, and everything comes out normal. No specific disease is found, yet the patient has chronic, annoying discomfort in many places in the body. Perhaps it's because pain threshold decreases when people suffer from chronic insomnia or "non-restorative" sleep. Since the pain threshold is decreased, all kinds of minor muscular, bone, nerve, or joint aches make themselves noticeable. A great way to overcome this is to engage in daily physical activity which raises the pain threshold and also provides a deeper sleep overnight. I have great suggestions on how to sleep deep by following some simple lifestyle changes. See http://www.raysahelian.com/sleep.html
Valerian root, normally used for sleep, could help
In this clinical trial, menopausal women with the chief complaint of hot flash were were prescribed 255 mg Valerian capsules 3 times a day for 8 weeks and compared to a group on placebo pills. Valerian has also led to a reduction of hot flash frequencies. The researchers state, "Valerian can be effective in treatment of menopausal hot flash and that it can be considered as a treatment of choice for reduction of hot flashes among the women who are reluctant to receive hormone therapy due to fear or any other reason." See http://www.raysahelian.com/valerian.html
Good news about graviola fruit, the potential cancer
Graviola fruit juice is consumed in tropical countries, like Brazil, either raw or after processing because of its creamy and sweet taste. It has also been available for the past few years as a supplement. There have been interesting laboratory studies regarding its potent anti tumor activity against several types of cancer. But, there have been concerns about its toxicity to certain nerves in the brain when ingested chronically. A new rodent study reassures us. Large doses given to rats over a period of 60 consecutive days did not induce any significant toxicity. The dose given to the rats was as high as 2 grams per kilogram of body weight. Most human users would take at most 2 or 3 grams a day, and the average adult human weighs about 70 kilograms. See http://www.raysahelian.com/graviola.html
Quercetin helps with athletic performance
Flavonoids are a large group of plant metabolites, thousands of which have been identified in vegetables, fruits and herbs. Some studies have shown increased aerobic performance and maximal oxygen consumption and therefore fitness following quercetin intake as a result of elevated number of intracellular mitochondria caused by the flavonoid. See http://www.raysahelian.com/quercetin.html
Nutrients in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk
for pancreatic cancer
This study included 384 cases and 983 controls who completed a thorough food frequency questionnaire. Results show a significant inverse association between pancreatic cancer and nutrient / supplement groupings in a dose-dependent manner including magnesium, potassium, selenium, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin, niacin, total alpha-tocopherol, total vitamin A activity, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. The researchers say, "We conclude that most nutrients obtained through consumption of fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer." See http://www.raysahelian.com/pancreaticcancer.html
It's all about the dosage
Q. If you take a supplement and it makes you feel worse, what should one do? Is it a case of "no pain no gain" and eventually you will get better or will it just damage you to keep taking it? I ask because I seem to be sensitive to so many supplements. Several years ago I took alpha lipoic acid at 600 mg a day and I felt terrible on it.
A. The first step I suggest if a supplement makes you feels worse is to stop it. After the symptoms are gone you would try it again but this time at a third or half the dosage, or even less. In the case of alpha lipoic acid, 600 mg is excessive. I personally prefer taking between 10 to 50 mg a couple of times a week and I feel good on it. I am quite sure that I would not like the effects on the higher dosage.
Testimonial, reversal of anti-depressant induced sexual dysfunction
I have ordered and used Passion Rx with Yohimbe. I was a little skeptical after I had tried multiple individual herbs for my low sexual function (due to anxiety disorder, and also due to SSRI meds) and these had only a mild impact. After taking Passion Rx for 1 week, a capsule daily (with a break once every 3 days), I noticed improvement in my erections, sexual desire and orgasms. Although not to a level of my pre-anxiety disorder when I was totally healthy but I cannot expect more as I am taking a potent SSRI antidepressant called Lexapro. The great thing is my intimate relationship with my wife has been restored and its not just me who is satisfied with better libido, my wife has reported much better sexual experience since the effects of Passion Rx have benefited me. One important observation: Whenever i have taken it on empty stomach it has had 50% more enhancement in sexual function than when I take it after food. Also some ingredients in the formula make me able to focus better and keep me alert which helps with my work also. When I was taking Viagra 50mg it only improved my erections and had only limited benefit on my sexual desire and satisfaction. Besides Viagra gave me side effects like headache and stuffy nose which discouraged me. I believe Dr. Ray Sahelian has developed a wonderful product which is based on honesty, quality studies and mention of side effects. Thank you for your wonderful product.
disease reports and experiences
Dr. Sahelian says: We had an email a couple of weeks ago and which read, "I wanted to inform you that I have tried what this person is taking and I have had GREAT benefits from it." The email was referring to a posting on my Sjogren's syndrome page from a few years ago. The posting read:
"I got Sjogren's syndrome in the summer of 2009. I had super dry eyes, thirst, and dry mouth with occasional painful cracking of tongue. I researched as much as I could about supplements because conventional treatment is only geared to symptomatic relief and not the root cause of the problem. Below is the list of supplements that I take. It took about a month or six weeks to see results, and I doubled the dose (taking the supplement regime listed below in the morning and at night) until symptoms subsided. I did, at one point (winter 2009), stop taking the supplements and my symptoms returned. I had to start all over again and I am pretty symptom free almost all the time. I also learned never to take anything that boosts the immune system, they made my symptoms worse. My research focused on anti-inflammatory action and modulation or regulation of the immune system. I used google scholar for most of the information. I have tried to share this information with friends who have autoimmune disease, such as MS and arthritis, but none of them will give it a go. My regime per day: Turmeric 1,600 mg, 5-loxin 150 mg (boswellia serrata extract) , ginger root 1,100 mg, apigenin 50 mg, green tea extract 160 mg, fish oil 2,400 mg, flaxseed oil 1,200 mg, resveratrol 150 mg, vitamin D, E, and B.
Dr. Sahelian comments: It is interesting that another person who tried this regimen was helped. Perhaps anti-inflammatory herbal substances and nutrients can help this condition. See http://www.raysahelian.com/antiinflammatory.html
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 2 -- March, 2014
If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure (systolic - the top number - of 140 or above or diastolic - the bottom number - of 90 or above), you have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. You might also be worried about taking medication to bring your numbers down since they have side effects. Perhaps you are already on medications such as diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, alpha blockers, ACE inhibitors, Angiotensin II receptor blockers, or various combinations. All of these meds can lower your blood pressure, but at a cost. They all have their own set of adverse effects that cause a number of short and long term medical issues. As much as possible it is best to reduce your blood pressure naturally so that your reliance on these BP lowering meds is minimized. Lifestyle plays an important role in influencing your blood pressure. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you may avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication. I have revised my article on how to lower BP naturally through dietary choices, and which supplements could be of help. Later I will mention a couple of new articles I recently came across regarding garlic and flaxseed that I think you will find interesting. See http://www.raysahelian.com/hypertension.html
Testosterone, anti-aging hormone or cause for
concern? Natural alternative to libido boost
In the past few years it seems there has been a significant push by doctors and pharmaceutical companies to push testosterone gels, pills, patches, shots, etc. to men and even women claiming that these can restore youthfulness, vitality, and libido. But many experts are now beginning to question the safety of such hormone treatment. Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been warning about the potential hazards of using testosterone medications in older men regarding the possible risks, particularly heart-related events such as heart attack and stroke. The Endocrine Society sent a press release warning recent trials revealed testosterone may not be safe for older men with a history of heart disease due to an increased risk of heart attack. Testosterone therapy has been promoted as a way to help older men, and women, improve low sex drive and reclaim diminished energy. A few weeks ago the FDA said it is "investigating the risk of stroke, heart attack and death in men taking FDA-approved testosterone products."
Comments: Middle-aged and older men who are considering using testosterone therapy to treat age-related declines in this hormone should be warned about the long term consequences of such treatment. If you do wish to boost your libido, use as low a testosterone dose as possible and do not take them every day. Another option for boosting libido naturally is through the use of a number of herbal aphrodisiac products that work within a few days. If you want to benefit from the mental enhancement and focus that testosterone provides, try a natural alternative such as Mind Power Rx, see http://www.raysahelian.com/memory.html.
Glucosamine good for cyclists and athletes?
Article title: Evaluation of the effect of glucosamine administration on biomarkers of cartilage and bone metabolism in bicycle racers. Researchers at the Department of Medicine for Motor Organs, Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine, in Tokyo, Japan looked at the effect of glucosamine administration (1.5 or 3 grams per day) on cartilage and bone metabolism in bicycle racers, using cartilage‑ and bone‑specific biomarkers. The results showed that a marker of type II collagen degradation was reduced by glucosamine administration, particularly at a dose of 3 g/day. A previous study by this group reported that glucosamine had a protective influence on cartilage tissue in soccer players by preventing type II collagen degradation but maintaining type II collagen synthesis. See http://www.raysahelian.com/glucosamine.html.
Comments: Results with glucosamine studies over the years have shown conflicting outcomes. I think it may be preferable to combine glucosamine with chondroitin and several other nutrient and herbal extracts, such as CMO, boswellia, and curcumin, to obtain a more synergistic effect, see http://www.raysahelian.com/jointpain.html. I have formulated a product called Joint Power Rx that has become quite popular.
Garlic as effective as atenolol Tenormin, a beta
The title of the article caught my eye, Effects of Allium sativum (garlic) on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension. Patients with hypertension were divided into several groups and received garlic tablets at the dose of 300/mg. 600/mg, 900/mg, 1200/mg and 1500/mg in divided doses per day respectively for 24 weeks while another group was given tablets of atenolol. All these groups were compared to those who got placebo pills. Blood pressure readings were recorded at weeks 0, 12 and 24. The study showed significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both dose and duration dependent manner in each garlic treated group when compared with atenolol and placebo.
Comments: I personally think that fresh garlic is more potent, but because of odor that persists more that a day, garlic pills are a good alternative. See http://www.raysahelian.com/garlic.html
Flaxseed is as superfood
The title of the article, "Potent antihypertensive action of dietary flaxseed in hypertensive patients," was another one that recently caught my eye. Flaxseed contains a number of beneficial substances such as omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber that together provide benefits to patients with heart and blood vessel disease, including peripheral artery disease. The purpose of the study conducted at St Boniface Hospital Research Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, was to examine the effects of daily ingestion of flaxseed on systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) in peripheral artery disease patients. Patients (110 in total) ingested a variety of foods that contained 30 g of milled flaxseed or placebo each day over 6 months. Plasma levels of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid and lignans increased multiple-fold in the flaxseed-fed group but did not increase in the placebo group. SBP was ≈ 10 mm Hg lower, and DBP was ≈ 7 mm Hg lower in the flaxseed group compared with placebo after 6 months.
Comments: This study, and the one on garlic above, indicate with little doubt that dietary intervention is often underused by patients and doctors alike. It is easy for a doctor to pull out a prescription pad and write down the name of any of a number of BP meds to take once or twice a day. But, if a little effort is done by an individual with high blood pressure in terms of lifestyle and dietary changes, not only will that person avoid the cost and hassle of doctor visits, the expense of the medications, but most of all avoid the various adverse effects of these meds. See http://www.raysahelian.com/flaxseed.html
Q. I am confused about fructose, the sugar in fruit. Is it healthy or as bad as sucrose or table sugar?
A. Fructose is a mono-saccharide sugar being increasingly used in the American daily diet. Human and animal studies suggest that fructose ingestion leads to harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels, and also has adverse metabolic effects, for example insulin resistance and high triglyceride levels. But, on the other hand, when ingested in smaller quantities as found in natural sources as apples and other fruits, it may produce beneficial effects on human health. Therefore, it is a matter of in what form it is ingested and in what quantities. I would avoid drinking too many ounces of fruit juices at a time, or consuming high fructose corn syrup. But obtaining it in fruits eating a few times throughout the day is a good thing. See http://www.raysahelian.com/fructose.html
Natural Healing Secrets
Vol. 11, Issue 1 -- February, 2014
"There's little evidence that vitamin D supplements offer
substantial health benefits, and several ongoing studies are unlikely to change
that," according to a review published by The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology,
news release, Jan. 23, 2014. The review authors evaluated the findings of 40
studies and came to the conclusion that taking vitamin D supplements does not
reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer or bone fractures in the general
population by more than 15 percent. Dr. Mark Bolland, of the University of
Auckland in New Zealan, says, "This result implies that vitamin D supplements
likely provide few, if any, health benefits." Professor Karl Michaelsson, of
Uppsala University in Sweden, wrote in an accompanying journal editorial, Unless
used in people with vitamin D deficiency, there is concern that taking vitamin D
supplements might actually cause harm."
Well, this will come to a shock to many since vitamin D supplements are taken by half of American adults. What do we make of these recommendations? Should we trust the judgment of these doctors? Should you stop taking your vitamin D pills right away? Should you stop getting blood tests for levels? This whole issue reinforces my ongoing belief that it is extremely difficult to determine the role of nutrient supplementation on the body in the long run. I will not bore you with the results of countless vitamin D studies over the past few decades and bore you with numbers and statistics. I will basically mention my overall thoughts on this topic from a practical point of view after having studied it for more than three decades. In my previous newsletters I have consistently mentioned that many people are taking too high dosages, such as 5,000 or 10,000 units, without any proof that these are helpful in the long run. I have also mentioned that tons of lab tests are being done to find out the levels of this vitamin in the blood stream and many doctors are basing supplementation on these levels when there is little proof of how much is beneficial to give based on an individual's blood results. Vast numbers of lab tests and doctors visits are often not necessary. I do believe that many Americans are not getting enough of this vitamin and small amounts as supplements, or a few minutes more of sun exposure daily, could be helpful. Please review my current recommendations listed below:
Practical vitamin D recommendations based on what I know thus far (your personal
doctor is likely to have a different viewpoint):
Some people may not need to supplement since their diet includes plenty of the vitamin and they get a lot of sun exposure. See http://www.raysahelian.com/vitamind.html for more information.
Most people may benefit from taking 400 units to 1000 iu a day either as a separate pill or as part of their multivitamin product (in addition to their diet and some sun exposure which could be several hundred units a day).
A few people -- those who do not consume much of this vitamin in their diet, live in Northern latitudes, or some elderly who get little sun -- may benefit from taking 600 to 2000 units daily. More is needed in the winter season and less in the summer season.
Those who have hardly any sun exposure, or have certain chronic medical conditions, may need 2000 to 3000 units a day for a few weeks or months and then down to 1000 to 2000 units daily.
The vast majority of people do not need to be monitored by blood tests. Just take 1000 units a day if you are not sure if you are getting enough and don't waste time and money on regular blood tests.
There is no need for the vast majority of Americans to take more than 2,000 units a day for the long run.
There could be a detriment to taking 5,000 or 10,000 units a day. Many people are taking an unnecessary gamble taking these very high amounts.
PS. According to a press release by Kiran Patel, M.D, pain medicine specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; and Houman Danesh, M.D., director, integrative pain management, The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City; Elsevier, press release, Jan. 17, 2014, people suffering from fibromyalgia pain might benefit from taking vitamin D supplements if they suffer from low levels of the vitamin. See http://www.raysahelian.com/fibromyalgia.html.
The latest thoughts on how to prevent and treat a cold
The most effective way for preventing colds is frequent hand washing, according to Dr. Michael Allan, director of evidence-based medicine in family medicine at the University of Alberta, in Canada. In addition to hand washing, daily zinc supplements appeared to help kids avoid colds, and it may work for adults. Dr Allan's team looked at hundreds of published studies. The review is published in the Jan. 27, 2014 issue of Canadian Medical Association Journal. They also had some praise for probiotics -- the "good bacteria" found in some yogurts and elsewhere. For the treatment of colds, antihistamines by themselves were of no use. The team found no clear benefit for nasal irrigation, humidified air, echinacea, Chinese medicinal herbs, ginseng or vitamin C. My experience has been different, I have found the use of high doses of vitamin C at the onset of a cold, along with regular use of zinc lozenges, to be helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms. And I am also a believer in garlic, I think it does help reduce the severity of the infection. See http://www.raysahelian.com/common.html
Melatonin and prostate cancer
Men who have higher levels of melatonin may have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. In experimental studies -- animal studies and prostate cancer cell lines -- it's been found that melatonin has an inhibiting effect on prostate tumor growth. Sarah Markt, M.P.H. and her colleagues looked at urine samples and sleep questionnaires from men in Iceland. Men with sleep troubles had significantly lower levels melatonin compared to men who reported no sleeping issues and had higher incidence of prostate cancer. These results do not prove that taking melatonin reduces the risk for prostate cancer, but they are interesting. See http://www.raysahelian.com/melatonin.html
Green tea extract caution
There have been a few reports in the news media about severe liver damage caused by high doses of concentrated green tea extracts purchased as a "fat burning" supplement. These are rare cases but I wanted you to keep this in mind in case there are some readers who are taking these pills daily for long periods. I often mention taking breaks from use of most supplements in order to minimize unexpected reactions. The vast majority of the liver injuries tracked by a network of medical officials are caused by the over the counter medication Tylenol, and prescription medications used to treat conditions such like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Q. I have been on pregnenolone 50 mg daily for 4 months put on by a personal doctor. When I saw my neurologist he wanted me to stop it. So for 5 days I took it every second day then stopped. I now have severe withdrawal symptoms. I have severe headaches, muscle pain, blurred vision, feeling agitated and feel really terrible, along with severe exhaustion. I just cant stay awake then there are times when I cant fall asleep.
A. Most of these withdrawal symptoms will ease over time and eventually go away. Many doctors prescribe high doses of over the counter hormones such as DHEA and pregnenolone, without being fully aware of the dangers that they can pose. The highest amount of pregnenolone that I feel comfortable recommending long term is 5 mg, or rarely 10 mg.
Is eating breakfast necessary? I am told that it is the right thing to do
for better health but I just am not hungry in the mornings.
A. Eating a healthy breakfast can be helpful to children and teens in order to help boost their performance in school, and help improve behavior. Skipping breakfast can leave the brain and body lagging throughout the day. However, as far as adults, there are many people who just are not that hungry when they wake up and if you are one of these individuals I think it is a good option to just have some water or tea and begin to eat whenever you feel hungry. I remember reading an article a couple of years ago about someone who died at a very old age of 110 or slightly beyond, and he was quoted claiming that his last meal of the day was at 6 pm and he did not eat again, not even a snack, till the following morning. I wondered at the time whether the daily fast of at least 12 hours had a beneficial effect on his metabolism. I don't know. But, perhaps it is healthier or more practical for some individuals to not consume any food in the morning until their body calls for it. I, personally, wake up some mornings with no appetite at all and I can function quite well until lunch with hardly any food consumed (or just a few little snacks). It seems to be working well for me.
Nutrition is a science that evaluates the relationship
between diet and health. Like other branches of
science, it is constantly evolving. As researchers learn more about
vitamins and minerals, nutrition advice changes.
In children and infants
Vitamins are essential nutrients for many body functions and particularly important during growth. Adequate supply in pregnancy and in early infancy is crucial, but there is still a lack of knowledge about the needed amounts of vitamins of children older than six months and also during pregnancy. A vitamin of particular importance in pregnancy is folic acid due to its role in the development of the brain and nerve system and the prevention of fetal neural tube defects. Mandatory fortification of flour and certain other grain products in many countries has been associated with a reduction in neural tube defects incidence. However, other deficiencies or suboptimal status of B vitamins, especially B6 and B12 have been repeatedly reported in pregnant women also in high-income countries. Vitamin A is one of the three most critical micronutrients globally and pregnant women and young children are especially vulnerable to deficiencies. Night blindness, anemia, and immunodeficiency are major consequences of inadequate supply in these populations. Much attention has recently been accorded to vitamin D that critical in pregnant women and young children for instance because of its involvement in bone mineralization but also its immune-modulating function that is thought to prevent development of autoimmune diseases like diabetes mellitus type I. Supplements or fortified foods may be needed to cover the high requirements especially of critical vitamins such as vitamin D and folic acid and to correct unfavorable dietary patterns in women or to adapt foods to the needs of young children.
The link between a sufficient intake of vitamins and long term health, cognition, healthy development and aging is increasingly supported by experimental animal, human and epidemiology studies. In low income countries billions of people still suffer from the burden of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. However, inadequate micronutrient status might also be an issue in industrialized countries. Results from nutritional surveys in countries like the United States, Germany, and Great Britain indicate that the recommended intake of micronutrients is not reached. This notably concerns certain vulnerable population groups, such as pregnant women, young children and the elderly, but also greatly influences the general healthcare costs.
The American College of Nutrition is on a mission to advance science to prevent and treat disease. The College does not accept funding from for-profit entities. Bridging research and clinical practice -- through Journal of the American College of Nutrition (JACN) - One of the top peer-reviewed science journals in the world, published bi-monthly for over 30 years. Annual Conferences - For over 50 years, the elite nutrition conference for researchers and clinicians. The College is ACCME accredited to grant CME. Fellow of the American College of Nutrition (FACN) - The premier designation for clinical researchers.