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Great newsletter, very fair, informative, with current, up to date research and information. What I really enjoy about the newsletter is it's attempt to sort out truth from myth regarding supplements, what works, what does not, and it is all backed by research and study. Very refreshing, because even today I hear people trying to sell products that cure almost everything.
Dr. Sahelian, I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE Newsletter for its informative, useful, and authentic character.=========================================================
starting a detox program to clear out toxins from my body," said a friend.
"What's your opinion?"
Recently, several friends and patients have asked my opinion on "detox diets." Others have asked me about "liver or colon cleansing," or fasting. I know many people who have tried various "cleansing" methods including olive oil/lemon juice programs, colon irrigation, water and juice fasts, etc. I even came across some infomercials promoting herbal tablets that supposedly cleanse and rid the body of toxins. Do any of these work? And besides, what do people really mean when they use the words "detox" or "cleanse?" Many people who suffer from depression, fatigue, anxiety, allergies, digestive symptoms, headache, vague aches and pains, etc, think that these symptoms are due to accumulated toxins in their body. Are they right, or are they misdiagnosing the causation of their symptoms?
At the bottom of the newsletter I elaborate on this issue.
Cut Ovarian Cancer Risk by Half?
Woman who drink two or more cups of tea every day may cut their risk of ovarian cancer in half. Both black and green teas are rich in antioxidant chemicals called polyphenols, which have been shown to block cancer growth in lab and animal studies. For details, see http://www.raysahelian.com/ovariancancer.html and http://www.raysahelian.com/polyphenols.html
Good News for Those with Chronic Bronchitis or COPD
Japanese researchers at Kagoshima University Hospital found that supplements of omega-3 fatty acids appeared to improve patients' breathing difficulties -- possibly by countering the airway inflammation seen in the disease. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are found largely in oily fish, and to a lesser extent in flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans and canola oil. COPD is a group of serious lung diseases that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Half of the 64 patients drank a liquid supplement rich in omega-3 fats each day; the other half drank a supplement containing omega-6 fats, another type of polyunsaturated fat found in many foods, including vegetable oils and meat. After two years, patients in the omega-3 supplement group showed an overall improvement on tests that measured their breathing during a short bout of exercise. See http://www.raysahelian.com/omega3.html
The Cleansing Controversy
Q. My wife and I love your site and info. We would like your opinion about something. We just read a book which mentions a cleansing diet consisting of: 2 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice (organic) 2 Tbsp. genuine, pure, organic maple syrup 1/10 tsp. cayenne pepper 10-12 oz. purified water. The book states this cleansing diet helps purify the liver and:-helps dissolve and eliminate toxins and congestion.-helps cleanse the kidneys and digestive system.-helps purify the glands and cells-helps eliminate unusable waste and hardened material in the joints and muscles.
A. There is no doubt that we are exposed to
countless harmful substances in our environment - hormones, pollutants,
pesticides, drugs, oxidants, toxins, and heavy metals. We are exposed to
these toxins through food, water, air, and skin. And in many cases it is
relatively easy to point the blame to these harmful substances for causing
or aggravating certain diseases. For instance, it is clear that many
inhaled pollutants can aggravate asthma symptoms. But, many people are
eager to blame their symptoms to toxins even if there is no proof that
they are the cause. For instance, toxins are certainly not the cause for
the majority of cases of fatigue, yet some people who are tired all the
time are ready to blame toxins for their condition. And then they
undertake drastic steps - for instance a water or juice fast - which in
some cases makes them feel even worse. And when they feel worse, they
incorrectly think the reason is because toxins are being removed from
their body. Most likely the reason is low caloric intake, low protein
intake, muscle tissue breakdown, low glycogen stores in the liver, low
blood sugar, etc.
We probably all have toxins accumulated in our system. And what is the best way to deal with them? I believe undertaking several long term measures are a better approach than drastic short term steps (although perhaps a minority of those trying a drastic diet may notice some benefits such as mental clarity or a sense of wellbeing, others may get worse). For instance, rather than fasting for a few days, I prefer reducing caloric intake to perhaps 1000 or 1200 calories a day over a period of 2 to 3 weeks. I am not convinced that any of the so called drastic "detox diets" that recommend a strict regimen of lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, cayenne, etc, etc, are beneficial. Through all my years of medical education, I have come to realize that the body does not like going off balance too much and for too long. Our body tries to maintain homeostasis, a balanced state where everything is functioning properly. Fasting, or these drastic detox regimens alter this homeostasis, often in a harmful way. Liver glycogen stores are depleted, alterations occur in the mineral and electrolyte balance in the blood, muscle and bone tissue start breaking down, changes occur in the acid base balance, alterations occur in the fatty acid composition of cells, and immune function may be impaired.
Eating a very healthy diet, low in calories, is a better option in the long run. Eat more raw, fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, reduce dairy intake, reduce meat products, eat more whole grains, consume fish caught in the wild, drink more varieties of teas, drink fresh vegetables juice, add more herbs to your food, avoid or dramatically reduce sugar and baked goods, use some antioxidant supplements and herbs (there are many to choose from). Also, drink filtered water and wash your fruits and vegetables. See http://www.raysahelian.com/antioxidant.html
Ginkgo Good For Vision, Dementia, and Stress
Alternative Migraine Remedy
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 17 -- November 15, 2005
Flip-flopping. We heard this term a lot during the last presidential election. But changing an opinion or re-analyzing data can happen in medicine, too. According to a trial published in the November 2005 issue of the journal Stroke, a supplement consisting of folic acid, vitamin B6, and B12, reduced the risk of stroke. The B vitamins lower blood levels of homocysteine -- an amino acid linked to heart disease. In a previous report from the Vitamin Intervention for Stroke Prevention study group, it was reported that the vitamin therapy did not reduce recurrent stroke and cardiac problems. When the scientists re-analyzed the results in a subgroup of 2,155 subjects deemed most likely to respond to treatment, the combined vitamin therapy did appear to reduce stroke and cardiac events by 20%.
My comments: Sometimes we think results of studies are hard facts that are totally objective, and immune to manipulation or interpretation. However, the study above, and many others, indicate that when we analyze in more detail, and look at subsets of patients, there are groups that do benefit from a particular intervention. I personally also change my viewpoints - and the information on my website - depending on the results of latest results. That's what science does, it adapts to new information. For more details on this study, see http://www.raysahelian.com/stroke.html
Can Make Your Gut Less Irritable
Good news for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A beneficial strain of bacteria called Bifidobacterium infantis has been found to stabilize bowel movement frequency in patients with IBS who experience either constipation or diarrhea. To determine the impact of the probiotic on bowel movement frequency, Dr. Quigley, from University Cork College in Ireland assigned 85 female patients with IBS to treatment with the probiotic for 4 weeks and 80 to treatment with a placebo. For patients with very frequent or very few bowel movements, the bacteria had a significant effect in normalizing the frequency. This appears to be a unique finding since other agents tested in IBS have tended to be helpful in either a diarrhea-predominant group or a constipation-predominant group, but not in both. Changes in bowel frequency were accompanied by significant improvement in individual symptoms, such as pain and bloating.
See http://www.raysahelian.com/ibs.html for additional info on this condition. See also http://www.raysahelian.com/probiotics.html
My thoughts: Even though the researchers looked at bifidobaceterium, alone, it's quite possible other friendly bacterial supplements, such as acidophilus, could be helpful.
2. Passion Flower and Kava Together Help Mice Sleep Better
3. Aphrodisiac Tongkat Ali has Additional Benefits
One of the most popular herbs for sexual enhancement used in Asia, particularly Malaysia, is tongkat ali. Numerous rodent studies show tongkat ali to have aphrodisiac properties, including a recent one that showed this herb was able to arouse sexually sluggish old rats. But, this herb has additional properties, including anti-malarial and anti-breast tumor activity. A new report published by researchers at the National University in Malaysia indicates certain extracts in tongkat ali can slow the growth of breast cancer cell line MCF-7.
My thoughts: Tongkat ali is a potent aphrodisiac, sometimes too potent. The reason I say this is that in order to get a quick sexual enhancement, a high dose is needed. But this high dose, even if taken in the morning, can cause insomnia that evening. A high dose can also cause restlessness and increased body temperature. I prefer to enhance sexuality the slow way, by taking a lower amount and being patient for a period of several days. Tongkat ali is found in Passion Rx, and I have tried to formulate this product using an amount of tongkat ali that minimizes the side effects of overstimulation and insomnia. It is too soon to tell whether a small amount of tongkat ali taken most days of the week, such as a quarter of a 400 mg capsule, would be appropriate for those with breast cancer. What happens in a laboratory dish does not necessarily reflect what happens in the whole body when an herb is ingested on a daily basis.
For more information, see http://www.raysahelian.com/tongkat_ali.html
Carnosine helpful in Vegetarians and Diabetic Nephropathy
In recent years carnosine has been getting more respect. This nutrient, made of 2 amino acids, alanine and histadine, is gradually getting a reputation as a powerful natural antioxidant. Unfortunately, carnosine is hardly found in a vegetarian diet. Hence, those who don't eat meat products may benefit from taking this nutrient as a supplement. A recent study also points to carnosine being potentially helpful in diabetic nephropathy (kidney failure) by preventing damage from high sugar levels.
My comments: Most carnosine capsules are sold in 500 mg. One option is to take carnosine as a supplement two or three times a week, in the morning. This nutrient has a mild mood balancing effect. Another option is to take half a capsule three or four times a week.
See http://www.raysahelian.com/carnosine.html for additional info.
Butterbur for Allergic
Allergic Rhinitis is not an infection. It occurs when the body’s immune system over-responds to specific, non-infectious particles such as plant pollens, molds, dust mites, animal hair, industrial chemicals (including tobacco smoke), foods, medicines, and insect venom. There have been several studies evaluating the role of butterbur in this condition, and most, but not all, show some benefit. In the latest study done in Switzerland, butterbur was shown to be as effective as an antihistamine. See http://www.raysahelian.com/butterbur.html
Bilberry, Cataracts, and Macular
Cataracts and macular degeneration are major causes of blindness and decline of visual acuity in the elderly. There is a belief that the loss of vision and damage to rods and cones may be due to free radicals. Hence, there has been a great deal of hope that antioxidant supplementation could be helpful. Bilberry has potent antioxidants called flavonoids. You can tell by the deep blue/purple color that these flavonoids are potent. Scientists in Brazil gave rats with early senile cataract and macular degeneration regular diets and compared them to another group who received additional bilberry extract. Supplementation with bilberry extract prevented damage and decline in function in the lens and retina. The researchers say, "Long-term supplementation with bilberry extract is effective in prevention of macular degeneration and cataract."
My comments: Whether the same visual benefits will occur in humans is not known at this time, but bilberry extract looks promising, and occasional use seems appropriate. Some of you history buffs may recall that during World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots mentioned that their night vision was clearer whenever they ate bilberry preserves before starting out on their evening bombing raids.
There are a number of herbal extracts and supplements that could be beneficial for visual health. For more information, see http://www.raysahelian.com/bilberry.html
Massage Therapy changes Brain Chemistry
You don't always need a supplement to change levels of brain chemicals. Did you know that while you are lying on a massage table slipping your cares away, there are biochemical changes going on? Massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and increases levels of brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine. This can lead to a relaxed, balanced, and upbeat mood. See http://www.raysahelian.com/dopamine.html for the abstract of the study.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 15 -- October 17, 2005
Good News on Glucosamine
Question of the Month - Why
are Dr. Sahelian's dosages sometimes different than dosages used in research studies?
Q. In your newsletter dated September 30, 2005, you wrote:
Throughout all my years of medical education, whenever we studied the topic of male infertility, there was never a mention of supplements or nutrition having an influence on sperm quality. Fortunately, researchers in Italy had an inkling that supplements could make a difference. They evaluated sixty infertile men between the ages of 20 and 40 who had poor sperm motility or movement. They gave these men the nutrients carnitine, acetylcarnitine, or a combination at a dosage of 3 grams a day. The results showed that the combination of carnitine and acetylcarnitine had the best outcome with improvement noted in sperm motility and velocity.
Then you added: It would seem reasonable for men who have undergone a medical evaluation for infertility and have not had success with the standard medical approach to try a combination of these two nutrients. The ideal dosage is difficult to know, but a cautious approach would be to alternate taking 200 to 300 mg of acetylcarnitine one day and 200 to 300 mg of carnitine the following day. The dosage can be increased after a month or two if the results are not adequate.
Your recommendation contradicts the research that you quote directly. Also, you said: Higher doses could lead to overstimulation, restlessness, and insomnia. Where do you get this information?
A. I'm glad you asked this question since it is an important one to address. Over my 20 or more years of medical practice, I have come to realize that whenever researchers do a study with a supplement or a drug and pick a particular dosage, it does not mean that the dosage they picked is the ideal amount. You would be surprised how little some researchers know about the practical aspects of taking supplements. More often that not, they do not pick the ideal dosage. In most cases, they choose an amount much higher than needed since most studies are of short duration and the researchers want to measure an effect that occurs fast within days or weeks. They don't spend the time or money to do a study with a lower dose that may take longer to show results.
Furthermore, many side effects are not noted or missed by researchers. For instance, when I was experimenting with melatonin in the mid 1990s, I realized it caused vivid dreaming, yet, when I reviewed all the previously published melatonin studies in the past three decades, none had mentioned anything about vivid dreams. All the researchers had missed this obvious side effect.
In my personal and professional experience, I have found that a dosage of acetylcarnitine or carnitine more than 500 mg can cause overstimulation, restlessness and insomnia in many people. Some notice this on as low a dose as 250 mg, whereas others take 1 gram before they feel it. Plus, the effects accumulate with time. So, it is always safer to start with a low dose and gradually build up since we do not know which person is sensitive to these supplements before they are taken. If there has been no effect on fertility after taking the low doses, then, as I mentioned in the newsletter, the dosage can be increased. Over my many years of using supplements, I find the cautious approach to be my preference.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE - by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Vol. 2, Issue 14 -- September 30, 2005
The SuperSperm Supplements
Throughout all my years of medical education, whenever we studied the topic of male infertility, there was never a mention of supplements or nutrition having an influence on sperm quality. Fortunately, researchers at the Polytechnic University of Marche, in Italy had an inkling that supplements could make a difference. They evaluated sixty infertile men between the ages of 20 and 40 who had poor sperm motility or movement. They gave these men the nutrients carnitine, acetylcarnitine, or a combination. The results showed that the combination of carnitine and acetylcarnitine had the best outcome with improvement noted in sperm motility and velocity. The antioxidant capacity of the sperm fluid also increased.
My comments: It would seem reasonable for men who have undergone a medical evaluation for infertility and have not had success with the standard medical approach to try a combination of these two nutrients, particularly if analysis shows their sperm do not swim well or are slow movers. The ideal dosage is difficult to know, but a cautious approach would be to alternate taking 200 to 300 mg of acetylcarnitine one day and 200 to 300 mg of carnitine the following day. The dosage can be increased after a month or two if the results are not adequate. Higher doses could lead to overstimulation, restlessness, and insomnia.
For the full abstract, see http://www.raysahelian.com/acetylcarnitine.html or
Two additional recent studies regarding acetylcarnitine:
It appears to be an effective and well-tolerated nutrient for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
May help improve visual acuity in those with macular degeneration, particularly when combined with fish oils and CoQ10. For more info, see the link above. Another popular product that supports visual health is Eyesight Rx.
In the past month it has been widely reported that pomegranate fruit may be beneficial for osteoarthritis. At Case Western Reserve University, researchers found pomegranate extract decreased levels of an inflammatory chemical called interleukin-1b (IL-1b) and it also curbed enzymes that erode cartilage. This was done in a laboratory, not on animals or humans. Other studies show pomegranate to have anti-cancer and antioxidant properties beneficial for those who have high lipid levels. And this week, researchers found that when human prostate cancer cells were injected into mice, feeding the animals pomegranate extract delayed the appearance of tumors. Tumor growth was significantly inhibited and survival was prolonged.
My comments: Whether drinking pomegranate juice or taking a pomegranate extract supplement reduces symptoms and signs of osteoarthritis in humans or slows prostate cancer is yet to be determined. But, rather than just drinking orange or apple juice (as most Americans do), it would be wise to incorporate other fruit juices in one's diet to broaden exposure to different beneficial flavonoids and carotenoids.
As to osteoarthritis, there is growing acceptance that supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and CMO could be beneficial. For details see http://www.raysahelian.com/osteoarthritis.html or http://www.raysahelian.com/pomegranate.html
Question of the Month - Can
5-HTP and Prozac be taken together?
5-HTP or 5-hydroxy-tryptophan is a nutrient that, not long after taken as a supplement, goes to the brain and gets converted into serotonin. The biochemical sequence is as follows: The amino acid tryptophan converts into 5-HTP, which in turn converts into serotonin. At night, serotonin converts into melatonin.
To put it simply, Prozac, along with its cousins Zoloft, Paxil, and the other SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) help lessen depression by making more serotonin available in the brain. Even though the mechanism of action of the SSRIs is different than 5-HTP, the end result is that there is more serotonin available in brain tissue, resulting in better mood balance. There is a condition known as serotonin syndrome which results from too much serotonin. Some of the symptoms include confusion, sweating, elevated blood pressure, and rapid heart beat. Serotonin syndrome sometimes occurs when the dosage of the SSRIs are too high, or when they are combined with other medicines that increase serotonin or brain chemical levels. Hence, tryptophan and 5-HTP, if taken in very high doses along with SSRIs, could potentially lead to serotonin syndrome. Having said this, it is possible that the combination of 5-HTP and Prozac could be helpful in some people if the dosage of the Prozac is reduced (let's say by half) and the initial amount of 5-HTP is started very conservatively at half of a 50 mg capsule and symptoms are monitored closely. The dosage of 5-HTP can be gradually increased if needed. Here is an example where the approach of combining a drug and nutrient could be quite useful, as long as one proceeds cautiously, with medical supervision, and temporarily stops the medicines at the first sign of serotonin excess.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 13 -- September 12, 2005
In the previous issue I mentioned that I had just returned from France where white bread is so commonly consumed. I made the observation that one of the most important dietary changes you can make for long term health is to eat whole, unrefined bread and cereals rather than nutrient- and fiber-poor white bread. Although it is obvious to me and many readers of this newsletter the tremendous health benefits of whole grain bread, it may not be so obvious to others. Just last week, researchers from Finland and the United States found diets high in cereal fiber and whole-grain products slow the progression of plaque build-up in the arteries. Numerous studies have linked increased dietary fiber with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer... and constipation (I actually took some psyllium powder with me to France since I suspected I would need additional fiber). When you consume whole, multi-grain, unrefined bread and cereals, you are ingesting several substances not found in white bread. These include fiber, additional vitamins and minerals, isoflavonoids, flavonoids, stilbenes, lignans, and many other beneficial compounds.
Try to find a bread that is made not only from whole wheat, but many other grains and plant products as well. These are called multi-grain breads. Some of these breads will have oats, rye, millet, buckwheat, flax, soy flour, quinoa, amaranth, kamut, barley, and others. Can you see how much healthier it is to eat this form of bread as opposed to refined white bread? It's also possible that excessive consumption of one grain, alone, such as wheat, may lead to allergies, whereas when a wide variety of grains are ingested, the body is not excessively exposed to one allergen in the grain and has less of a tendency to develop an unpleasant reaction to it.
For the full abstract, see http://ww.raysahelian.com/hepatitis.html
Question of the Month -
Which Supplements to Take on a Regular Basis
Q. I have read a lot of books regarding vitamins and supplements, I wanted to start on a vitamin and supplement program; however, I don't know which one i should buy. Right now, I am in my 40s, excellent health and am using the MultiVit Rx 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? I don't know if having vitamin C, vitamin E, combined with curcumin and garlic in regular diet including a lot of veggies and raw foods will be fine for optimal health and cancer prevention? How can one know how much is the right dose? Seems like many supplements and vitamins, herbs etc...all have their own good properties...how can a person with normal health know where to start? Many thanks.
A. Over the years
many readers have asked what I take or what is the appropriate supplement
regimen to take on a regular basis.
There is no one answer that will be appropriate for everyone and it is
very difficult, even with a complete physical exam and blood studies, to
know what supplements, in what dosages, and in what combinations are
ideal. There is such a wide range of differences in response and need
between people, and this also changes within each person with time. What
works for one person may cause side effects in another. There are as many
regimens are 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, 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 are fine taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement that has the basic B vitamins, C, E, selenium, etc. I personally take one capsule of MutiVit Rx most days of the week, one or two fish oils capsules most days of the week, half or one teaspoon of psyllium daily with a meal for extra fiber. In addition, I also take the following, but not on a regular basis, for instance 1, 2 or 3 days a week: Eyesight Rx half a tablet, curcumin, R alpha lipoic acid, CoQ10, acetyl-l-carnitine, Mind Power Rx, mangosteen, and Prostate Power Rx. I try not to mix too many supplements together, but limit them to a total of 4 to 8 capsules a day. I prefer not to take a particular supplement too many days in a row. Occasionally I take ashwagandha, bee propolis, carnosine, quercetin, milk thistle, beta sitosterol, genistein, grape seed extract, pomegranate, TMG, SAM-e, spirulina, and acetyl-cysteine. Once or twice a week I take melatonin or hops in the evening for sleep. I also drink various herbal teas in the morning and use stevia to sweeten them. At least once a month I take a break for 2 or 3 days from everything.
Some of the time, though, I am experimenting with individual herbs and nutrients by themselves to see what effect they have on me in order to find new effective herbs and nutrients to constantly improve the products I have formulated, such as Passion Rx, Eyesight Rx, Mind Power Rx, and others. During these times I don't take any other supplements since I don't want the results to be influenced.
Supplementation is 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. I personally like the overall vitality enhancement that these pills make me feel, hence even though it is not proven that taking supplements will make me live longer, I like the way they make me feel more vibrant and alive.
There is a wide range of possibilities to explore, and ultimately it becomes a personal decision, trial and error, along with consultation with a health care provider, based on likes and dislikes and how you feel when you take these supplements, and your overall medical condition.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 12 -- August 25, 2005
Saw Palmetto, PSA,
Over the years I have been asked whether saw palmetto, the herb used for prostate enlargement, has an influence on PSA test results or on hair growth. PSA is the blood test that is often recommended to monitor prostate tumor growth. Recently medical science has questioned the reliability of PSA testing as a screening tool for cancer detection. Although there is a lot of controversy and varied opinions, it appears PSA testing is not as accurate a tool as we previously thought.
Saw palmetto has been thought of as an herb that could potentially influence hair growth. Let me explain.
One of the causes of prostate enlargement is testosterone being converted into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Excess DHT in prostate tissue is thought to lead to prostate growth, and excess DHT in hair tissue leads to hair thinning in men and women. Could we kill two birds with one stone by the use of saw palmetto? In recent years scientists have found that saw palmetto inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase in prostate tissue. This enzyme converts testosterone to DHT. Interestingly, there are two major forms of this enzyme, called types I and II. In humans, Type I 5 alpha-reductase is predominant in the sebaceous glands of most regions of skin, including scalp. The Type II 5 alpha-reductase isozyme is primarily found in prostate, seminal vesicles, epididymides and less so in hair follicles. At this time we don't have much research as to whether saw palmetto blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT in hair tissue to a degree adequate enough to prevent or restore hair loss. My personal opinion, based on the early research, is that I suspect even if saw palmetto has a mild effect, it is not nearly as potent as the drug finasteride - an alpha reductase blocker - used for prostate enlargement (as Proscar) and hair regrowth (as Propecia). I do not know if there is an additive effect to finasteride if saw palmetto is taken along with it. There was a small study a few years ago that showed a potential benefit for hair growth in male pattern baldness when saw palmetto was combined with beta sitosterol. More research is certainly needed before we can come to any conclusions.
Bottom line, the jury is still out regarding the role of herbs and nutrients in hair growth, and we have little idea, even if they work, what dosages would be appropriate for long term use. For more info, see http://ww.raysahelian.com/saw.html or http://www.raysahelian.com/hair.html
Could a simple herbal extract have an influence on stroke recovery? Vinpocetine is an alkaloid found in the periwinkle plant. It was introduced into clinical practice in Europe more than two decades ago for its role in cerebrovascular disorders and related symptoms. Experiments with vinpocetine indicate that it can dilate blood vessels, enhance circulation in the brain, improve oxygen utilization, make red blood cells more pliable, and inhibit aggregation of platelets. Vinpocetine even has antioxidant properties.
A double-blind study was conducted to test the effects of vinpocetine on patients suffering from multiple cerebral infarcts. Twenty-six patients with multiple cerebral infarctions, aged between 50 and 83 years were examined, 14 of whom received vinpocetine and 12 placebo. Three months later, the vinpocetine patients did not show any significant worsening in symptoms, while the placebo group did. Several previous studies have indicated that vinpocetine may have beneficial effects in stroke prevention or therapy.
My comments: I would like to see more studies before wholeheartedly recommending vinpocetine for stroke prevention or treatment. However, the results are intriguing enough that doctors who treat stroke patients should review this literature and decide whether some of their patients could benefit from vinpocetine. As to the dosage, it is difficult to know the long term amounts that are helpful. My guess is 2 to 5 mg once or twice a day should be fine for most people. Vinpocetine is usually found in 10 mg amounts, so breaking a tablet in half, a third, or smaller portions is an option.
Yoga and Cancer
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years to improve physical and emotional well-being. Nine recent studies conducted with cancer patients and survivors found yoga lead to modest improvements in sleep quality, mood, stress, cancer-related distress, cancer-related symptoms, and overall quality of life. It appears from the emerging medical literature on yoga and cancer that yoga therapy is helpful for cancer patients.
My comments: I started yoga 20 years ago and I love it. It makes me feel so relaxed, revitalized, and supple. I heard someone once say, "You're as young as your spine is flexible." Although not completely true, part of staying younger is to have flexibility of tendons and ligaments. No amount of a healthy diet and supplement intake is going to replace the benefits of yoga or other forms of stretching practices. Although I realize how important yoga is, sometimes I don't have the patience to attend a one and half hour class, so I do it at home at 20 minute intervals a few times a week. There are several yoga programs on TV, particularly the public funded channels, and you can tape some and do the yoga postures at your leisure. Or, you can attend a local yoga class.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 11 -- August 2, 2005
C and Atrial Fibrillation
I never thought Vitamin C would have anything to do with helping irregular heart rhythms, but apparently it has an effect. Oral Vitamin C cuts the risk of early recurrence of atrial fibrillation after patients undergo electrical cardioversion. Atrail fibrillation is a condition when the upper chambers of the heart, the atria, beat at a fast and irregular manner. Often medicines are used to correct this problem and if not effective, electrical cardioversion is done in a hospital. However, atrial fibrillation sometimes quickly returns after cardioversion.
To investigate whether Vitamin C reduces atrial fibrillation recurrence, a research team randomized 44 patients who had undergone cardioversion for persistent atrial fibrillation to standard therapy plus oral Vitamin C or standard treatment only. Patients given the vitamin received a 2-gram loading dose 12 hours before cardioversion and 500 mg twice daily for the next 7 days. One (4 percent) of the patients given vitamin C had a relapse of atrial fibrillation, while eight (36 percent) of patients not given the vitamin did. The researchers also found that white blood cell levels and fibrinogen levels fell significantly in the group given Vitamin C, but did not drop in the control patients. Markers of inflammation were also significantly higher among patients who had a recurrence of atrial fibrillation, compared with those on Vitamin C who did not. Vitamin C supplements were able to reduce the inflammation in the atria after the cardioversion. See
Supplement for Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a severe inflammatory disease of the colon that produces bloody diarrhea. Researchers from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada enrolled 34 patients with active ulcerative colitis who were then treated with a probiotic mixture twice daily for 6 weeks. A variety of standard treatments had been tried on the patients first, with no help. The probiotic mixture contained four strains of Lactobacillus, three strains of Bifidobacterium and one strain of Streptococcus salivarius -- all well-known species of good bacteria. Remission occurred in 53 percent of the patients and an additional 24 percent experienced some degree of improvement in symptoms. A few patients experienced no improvement or worsening of their symptoms. The only apparent side effect from the probiotic mixture was increased bloating. Testing of sampled colonic tissue provided direct evidence that the probiotic bacteria had, in fact, reached the diseased sites of the colon. In brief, taking a mixture of several probiotic bacteria reduces symptoms in patients with ulcerative colitis that doesn't respond to conventional medications. For more info, see http://www.raysahelian.com/probiotics.html
Reducing the risk of Hip
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common in cases of hip fractures. A look-back study of 548 patients older than 60 years of age who were admitted at South Glasgow University Hospital in Scotland in the previous 4 years, showed that 97 percent of the patients had Vitamin D levels below normal. Dr. Gallacher, lead researcher and consultant endocrinologist at the hospital said: ''Although the numbers were too small to justify extensive subgroup analyses the study appears to demonstrate that vitamin D inadequacy represents a significant correctable risk factor for fragility fracture and perhaps specifically for the hip."
My comments: Most elderly patients do not get enough Vitamin D through sun exposure, particularly in cold climates with long winters. Vitamin D can be supplemented by taking a multivitamin and mineral complex, through cod liver oil, or through Vitamin D fortified foods. A Vitamin D supplement (preferably natural Vitamin D3) or multivitamin product with 400 to 800 units should be adequate. Sitting by the window or taking walks outside could be helpful. Getting exposed to sunlight or any type of light is also beneficial since it helps reset the circadian clock and helps one achieve a deeper sleep at night. See http://www.raysahelian.com/vitamind.html or http://www.raysahelian.com/osteoporosis.html
The Low Carb fad -- Beginning of the End?
Atkins Nutritionals Inc., the company behind the low-carbohydrate Atkins Diet craze, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, blaming slumping demand and increased competition. I had a suspicion that the low carb diet fad was winding down. A year and a half ago I attended the largest supplement show at the convention center in Anaheim, California. Everywhere I turned, there was a booth selling low carb bars, foods, and drinks. A few months ago, at the same show, there were only a fraction of the low carb booths from the year before.
What kind of diet works for weight loss? It appears that a high protein diet has the best potential to reduce appetite. Actually, one of the reasons a low carb diet seems to work is that people substitute a higher amount of protein in their diet. As to supplements that suppress appetite, 5-HTP is a good one since it converts into serotonin, a brain chemical involved in appetite control. I still don't have a firm opinion regarding hoodia or bitter orange.
Question of the Month:
I'd like to ask a "philosophical" question. I take it that herbs by definition are considered as having some pharmacological properties to them, correct? Can one then also speak of herbs providing some sort of nutrition to the body, meaning providing nutrients to the body, not just acting like a "natural drug"?
This is an excellent question. The answer is both. There are countless substances in the human body, and there are also countless substances in herbs. Some of the substances in herbs act as pharmaceutical agents, just like drugs. It just happens that some herbs have substances in them that are also found in the body and act as nutritional replacement or supplementation. For instance, the herb wolfberry has a high concentration of zeaxanthin, which, along with lutein, are carotenoids found in the retina of the eye. Zeaxanthin and lutein help improve vision. In this case, the zeaxanthin in wolfberry is acting as a nutritional agent. Herbs also contain many vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and flavonoids which have nutritional value. These substances are used by the body for structural repair, hormone synthesis, and enzymatic activity.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 10 -- July 20, 2005
Creatine for those with
Normally we think of creatine as a bodybuilding supplement, so it surprised me when I came across the title of this article, "Creatine supplementation beneficial in patients with COPD." COPD is short for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a condition that comes after years of smoking, repeated infections or other types of damage to lung tissue. A study done in England showed patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who took creatine supplements gained fat-free mass, had increased peripheral muscle strength and endurance, and improved health status. However, whole body exercise capacity was not improved. One of the researchers commented, "Creatine, which is used by many healthy athletes, led to COPD patients putting on muscle bulk, gaining muscle strength and endurance, and feeling better...(and) it may make their quality of life better. Creatine therefore may be potentially useful to a large number of patients with this disease."
My comments: A cautious approach would be to take 2 or 3 grams of creatine a day (about half a teaspoon) mixed with a couple of ounces of juice. Creatine can also build muscle mass in most everyone, particularly if a small amount of exercise is performed anytime during the day.
Magnesium : The
Arrhythmia means that the heart beat is off it's normal beating pattern. There are numerous types of arrhythmias, some of little significance, while others can be life threatening. Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia where the atria, the upper chambers of the heart, beat irregularly. In a recent issue of the journal Heart, statisticians reviewed existing studies on the role of the mineral magnesium in atrial fibrillation. In this meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials involving the use of magnesium on atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery, 20 randomized trials with a total of 2,490 patients were identified. It was found that magnesium supplementation reduced the percentage of patients who developed postoperative atrial fibrillation from 28% in the control group to 18% in the treatment group. Magnesium had a mild to modest effect in reducing the rate of atrial fibrillation. For additional suggestions on how to minimize heart palpitations or arrhythmias, see http://www.raysahelian.com/arrhythmia.html. You will find that some supplements, such as fish oils, may help, whereas others could contribute to heart palpitations when misused, particularly the hormones DHEA and pregnenolone.
Folic Acid and Colon
Folic acid is a B vitamin normally found in many multivitamin supplements and sometimes fortified in foods. The daily requirement is about 400 micrograms. In a study of 31 patients with confirmed colorectal adenoma, subjects participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Seven male and 8 female subjects (average age 64 years) received folic acid at 400 mcg/day while 8 male and 8 female subjects of a similar age group received placebo. Folic acid supplementation increased serum and erythrocyte folate levels by 81% and 57%, respectively, and reduced plasma homocysteine levels by 12%. Erythrocyte means red blood cell. Folic acid supplementation resulted in increases in DNA methylation of 31% in leukocytes (white blood cells) and 25% in colonic mucosa. Methylation is a process whereas certain supplements, such as folic acid, Vitamins B6 or B12, or certain nutrients such as TMG or SAM-e donate a methyl group. It is believed that as we age, our body's ability to methylate decreases, which may lead to health problems, including high homocysteine levels and cancer. This study showed that DNA hypomethylation can be corrected by physiological levels of folic acid intake. Folic acid supplements are known to raise blood levels of betaine, also known as TMG. For more information on the health benefits of methyl donors, see http://www.raysahelian.com/methyl.html or to lower homocysteine, see http://www.raysahelian.com/homocysteine.html
Food and Spice Corner
Once in a while I wish to share with you some foods or spices that I really enjoy and also have a health benefit. Have you heard of Zaatar? If you have ever visited a Middle Eastern restaurant, you may have been served this herbal mix as an appetizer. Zaatar is popular in the Middle East. It is a combination of several herbs, most commonly Thyme, Oregano, Sumac, and Sesame seeds. Zaatar comes as an herbal mix that is soaked in olive oil and then spread on any kind of bread - preferably whole, multi grain bread - for a delicious snack. You can also sprinkle it on a variety of dishes, such as an omelet or soup, to add zest and spice. Warning: it can be deliciously addictive. Zaatar is now available at Physician Formulas web site. See http:www.raysahelian.com/zaatar.html for more info.
Question of the Month:
I noticed that you recommend 100 to 300 mg of Acetyl-L-Carnitine on your web site, but in Mind Power Rx, there is only 30 mg of ALC. Same with DMAE, vinpocetine, and other mind nutrients. Why is that?
Most people don't realize that when they are combining multiple supplements, they need to reduce the dose of each one since many of them have an additive effect. ALC may be fine at 300 mg by itself, but if all the other herbs and nutrients in Mind Power Rx are taken at their full daily dose, the results would be quite unpleasant. It could lead to restlessness, anxiety, rapid heart beat, nausea, headache, insomnia, etc. So, I encourage everyone who is taking many supplements to be aware of this fact and make sure you keep dosages to a minimum. That's why, when I formulated Mind Power Rx, I made sure to only include a small amount of each nutrient. High doses can be counterproductive. For instance, if a person thinks they are going to boost their mind by taking high doses of brain supplements, and they sit down to study or try to be effective at work, they may be so energized and restless that it would be difficult to sit still and absorb information, or do the task they planned to accomplish.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 9 -- June 30, 2005
2. Melatonin - Less is More
MIT scientists confirm that melatonin is an effective sleep aid for older insomniacs and it appears that only a small dose of melatonin (about 0.3 milligrams) is necessary for a restful effect. Taken in that quantity, melatonin not only helps people fall asleep, but also makes it easier for them to return to sleep after waking up during the night. However, the amount in most melatonin products on the market ranges between 1 to 5 mg. At this high dose, tolerance can develop and the melatonin receptors in the brain become unresponsive. Thereafter, melatonin becomes less effective.
My comments: When I first wrote my book Melatonin: Nature's Sleeping Pill back in 1995, I cautioned users to keep the dosage low. I recommended that people not take more than 1 mg on a regular basis even though the most common dosage on the market at that time was 3 mg and several other books on melatonin had been written touting high doses. It appears now that a third of a mg works better in the long run. Back in 1995 I had personally noticed tolerance develop within a few days of taking 3 mg nightly - it stopped working. I also experienced some of the side effects of high dose melatonin which include wonderful psychedelic dreams, but also nightmares. In addition, I felt tired and sleepy in the mornings. I now feel comfortable recommending 0.2 to 0.5 mg a few nights a week. Melatonin is best absorbed on an empty stomach. If you can only find the 1 mg product, just take about a third of it. As to the ideal time of use, it can range from 3 to 4 hours before bed to 1 hour before bed. The higher dosages of 1 to 5 mg may be used occasionally for jet lag. Melatonin also has antioxidant properties.
For more info, see http://www.raysahelian.com/melatonin.html
Feedback regarding Eyesight Rx
We've had several emails regarding this product and we wanted to mention 3 that were quite interesting.
1. In case you are interested in feedback on Eyesight Rx, I have a condition that is not correctable (congenital nystagmus) so any improvement is welcome. I will tell you my experience so far. The first day I took 2/3 of a tablet and didn't see much of a change but that night I was quite restless. The next day I eliminated the sudafed for sinus and the coffee and I took 2/3 of a pill and I slept fine but not much change. The third day I took 1/2 a pill and started to notice subtle changes in clarity and definition and clearer night vision. I have taken 1/2 a pill for 2 more days and see subtle improvements daily like more definition in grass and trees and colors a little brighter. So far I like the eyesight Rx because I notice the word looks more defined almost more 3D. I was born with albinism and my vision is corrected to 20/80. I went to see a new eye doctor recently who recommended eye vitamins for improving Macular pigment. He was not sure they would improve vision but felt they would prevent further problems. I told him about what I read in Dr. Sahelian's book - Mind Boosters - about fish oils and DHA and he said it was I good idea but I may need high doses. I take 6 pills a day. It actually helps even though I taste fish every so often. I have an appointment in August so the doctor can take another picture of my retina to see if the vitamins helped. I will let you know.
2. I have normal vision 20/20 and aged 38. I'm surprised that Eyesight Rx can improve vision even in someone who has good vision to start. I take 1/2 a tablet 2 days on, one day off. Colors are brighter and sharper focus, it just seems so much more fun to look and see, almost like a visual born again. I have tried a higher dose of a full tablet, and even though the vision was better, I had the side effect of insomnia and felt my heart beating faster.
3. I was diagnosed in 1996 with keratoconus (bilateral). I had a corneal transplant in my left eye in 1998. My vision improved to 20/60 with corrective lenses. However it was very difficult and at times impossible to read small, medium, and at times large print. Driving at night was out of the question for me. After taking eyesight Rx I am able to read and respond to my email with less strain than before; as I can now see the monitor and the letters on the key board much clearer. Colors are brighter and lively. I can honestly say my vision has improved and so has my life as a result of taking Eyesight Rx. I noticed the results within the first few hours after melting half a tablet of Eyesight Rx under my tongue.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 8 -- June 15, 2005
1. Kudzu Can Curb Alcohol
Modern Western medicine has few options for those who wish to reduce their cravings for alcohol. Even though the Chinese, Indians and others have studied thousands of herbs for centuries, I find it truly amazing that so much knowledge accumulated by other cultures has hardly been discovered by western scientists.
Previous trials conducted in the USA have shown that extracts of kudzu reduce alcohol drinking in rats and hamsters. In the present study conducted partly at Harvard Medical School, researchers attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of a kudzu extract in humans. Heavy male and female alcohol drinkers... oops, I meant to say male and female heavy alcohol drinkers were treated with either placebo or a kudzu extract for 7 days and then given an opportunity to drink their preferred brand of beer while in a naturalistic laboratory setting. Results: Kudzu treatment resulted in significant reduction in the number of beers consumed and a decrease in the volume of each sip. There were no reported side effects. The researchers cheered and concluded: "These data suggest that an extract of kudzu plant may be useful in reducing alcohol intake in a naturalistic setting."
My comments: I personally have not tested kudzu with patients to see how effective it is, and it certainly would help having a couple of more human studies to determine the accuracy of these findings. But, based on kudzu's historical use by the Chinese for alcohol related problems, this herb looks promising.
The Mice on the Yellow Spice
Turmeric, a yellow spice used widely in Indian cooking, is back in the news. Curcumin, an active compound found in turmeric, appears to stop the spread of breast cancer tumor cells to the lungs of mice. Tests have already started in people, too, says Bharat Aggarwal of the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, who led the study. "What's exciting about this agent is that it seems to have both chemopreventive and therapeutic properties.
Earlier research showed that curcumin, an antioxidant, can help prevent tumors from forming in the laboratory. For their study, Aggarwal and colleagues injected mice with human breast cancer cells -- a batch of cells grown from a patient whose cancer had spread to the lungs. The resulting tumors were allowed to grow, and then surgically removed, to simulate a mastectomy. Then the mice either got no additional treatment; curcumin alone; the cancer drug paclitaxel (sold under the brand name Taxol); or curcumin plus Taxol. Only half the mice in the curcumin-only group and 22 percent of those in the curcumin plus Taxol group had evidence of breast cancer that had spread to the lungs. But 75 percent of animals that got Taxol alone and 95 percent of those that got no treatment developed lung tumors. IN other words, the addition of curcumin lowered the rate of cancer spread. Earlier studies suggest that people who eat diets rich in turmeric have lower rates of breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer.
My comments: I think we are going to continue hearing a lot more about curcumin and turmeric in the future.
3. Making Sense of Menopause and Soy
Previous studies on the benefits of soy for relieving menopausal symptoms have produced mixed results. In a new study, a research group used a standardized soy product which contains 160 milligrams of total isoflavones, soy-derived antioxidants. Forty-three postmenopausal women were assigned to the soy product or placebo daily for three months. The average age of the women was 55 years and they had been off hormone replacement therapy for at least six months prior to entering the study. All of the women completed a menopause-specific quality-of-life questionnaire at the beginning of the study and again after 6 weeks and 3 months. Compared with placebo, soy therapy led to a 40-percent reduction in psychosocial complaints involving mood and depression, a 36-percent reduction in hot flashes and night sweats, as well as a 30-percent reduction in other physical symptoms, primarily low energy.
My comments: Over the years I have read numerous studies regarding the benefits or lack of effectiveness of isoflavones, such as genistein, for menopause symptom relief. Overall, I think the evidence is tilting towards some benefit. At the least, these isoflavones do not have the serious side effects that estrogen has when used for prolonged periods. If isolfavones are not enough to relieve menopausal symptoms, then a small amount of estrogen can be used for brief periods to relieve severe hot flashes and other symptoms.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 7 -- June 1, 2005
Recent months have not been the best of times for the pharmaceutical drug industry. Within this past year we have had reports of countless excess deaths from the arthritis drugs Vioxx and Celebrex; reports that Crestor, the statin drug for high cholesterol, causes a high rate of muscle tissue damage and kidney failure; and now the bad news about Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra: there's a possibility that they cause permanent blindness in a very small portion of users. Is it time to look for alternatives?
My mom's doctor prescribed her the statin drug Lipitor for a slightly elevated cholesterol level. A month ago she reported to him that her muscles were aching all over. He couldn't find a cause. Then she told me about it, and my first thought was the Lipitor. She stopped it, and within four days her muscle aches went away. Atorvastatin, sold by Pfizer Inc. under the brand name Lipitor, is the world's biggest-selling prescription medicine with sales of $10 billion a year. I'm concerned that in the future we may come across more bad side effects from some of the statin drugs. Although they have a role to play in those with very high cholesterol levels, they are being prescribed carelessly to too many people with mild cholesterol elevation. If you need to take statins, ask your doctor if every other day use is an option in order to minimize side effects.
No more B12 shots!
Great news for needle phobics: Oral supplements of vitamin B12 appear to correct vitamin B12 deficiency as well as B12 injections. However, in order to correct a deficiency, oral doses need to contain several hundred times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12. Most people develop vitamin B12 deficiency as a result of "malabsorption," in which their bodies become unable to extract vitamin B12 from food. The deficiency typically strikes older people and takes years to develop. In some instances, people who avoid animal products -- such as vegans -- can also develop a deficiency in vitamin B12 as a result of not eating enough B12-rich foods. A vitamin B12 deficiency is typically treated by monthly, often painful, shots. The researchers tested various daily doses of oral vitamin B12 supplements in people aged 70 and older. They found that daily oral doses of 600 to 1000 micrograms of vitamin B12 appeared to correct the deficiency. The current RDA for vitamin B12 is 3 micrograms per day. One milligram equals 1,000 micrograms.
My comments: Vitamin B12, unlike the other B vitamins, needs a special compound in the stomach called 'intrinsic factor' to be properly absorbed . All the other B vitamins are easily absorbed without much difficulty. It's great to know that oral ingestion of B12 is just as good as a shot. Many B12 supplements do have several hundred times the RDA for this vitamin. B12 supplements are available under several names, including methylcobalamin and dibencozide.
For details, see http://www.raysahelian.com/methylcobalamin.html
Preventing Parkinson's Disease
Eating foods rich in Vitamin E may help protect against Parkinson's disease, a chronic disease that affects 1 percent of people over the age of 65 worldwide. In the United States alone at least 500,000 people suffer from the illness. Parkinson's disease occurs when brain cells that produce a chemical called dopamine malfunction and die. Symptoms include tremors, stiffness, slow movement and poor coordination and balance. A review of eight studies that looked into whether Vitamins C and E and beta carotene had an impact on the odds of developing Parkinson's disease showed that a moderate intake of Vitamin E lowered the risk. Neither Vitamin C nor beta carotene seemed to have a protective effect. The researchers said they did not know whether Vitamin E supplements would have any benefits. Foods rich in Vitamin E include nuts, seeds, wheat germ, spinach and other green leafy vegetables.
My comments: If you plan to take Vitamin E supplements, limit your dose to 200 units a few times a week. Vitamin E is fat soluble and stays in the body; therefore, daily intake is not needed. Also, use natural mixed Vitamin E complex rather than the synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol. It's possible other supplements could be useful in Parkinson's disease. Those with high intake of fresh fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of Parkinson's disease. For more info, see http://www.raysahelian.com/parkinson.html
3. Androgens and Breast
I am starting to become quite convinced that excess androgens -- such as testosterone, DHEA, and androstenedione -- may raise the risk for breast cancer in women. Androgens are normally present in women, although at much lower levels than in men. Elevated androgen levels have been linked with breast cancer in studies of postmenopausal women, but it was unclear if this also applied to premenopausal women. In a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, doctors tested blood androgen levels in premenopausal women who were later diagnosed with breast cancer and compared them to androgen levels found in similar women without breast cancer. The likelihood of developing breast cancer increased significantly as levels of testosterone and androstenedione rose.
My comments: Testosterone is available by prescription and DHEA is sold over the counter. Although I believe androgens could well benefit women who have low androgen levels, their use should be limited to low dosages and brief periods. If androgens are required to be taken for prolonged periods, frequent breaks would reduce the risk of untoward effects. See http://www.raysahelian.com/breastcancer.html
What's the difference between fish oil and cod liver oil? There's little mention about cod liver oil anymore.
Fish oil supplements are dietary supplements that contain oil from the fatty flesh of cold water fish such as mackerel, anchovy, and sardines. The active ingredients in fish oil supplements are essential fatty acids known as omega-3 fatty acids. They typically include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Cod liver oil is derived from the liver of cod fish. Cod liver oil contains Vitamins A and D and has a different concentration of EPA and DHA than fish oils. Cod liver oil has a higher ratio of DHA to EPA, while fish oils have a higher ratio of EPA to DHA. But, overall, fish oils have almost twice the amount of total EPA plus DHA than cod liver oil per same size capsule or teaspoon.
To summarize, cod liver oil has the additional Vitamins A and D, a higher ratio of DHA to EPA, but about half as much total EPA plus DHA than fish oils. Practically speaking, they are both healthy to ingest, but if you want a higher amount of total EPA and DHA, you would go with fish oils. For more information, see http://www.raysahelian.com/fishoils.html
I'm currently taking Hoodia. I'm 52, 5' 2", with a normal appetite and work in a stressful place where there's food all around me. You can guess what that did. It's too early to record anything significant as to weight loss, but I'll be astonished if it doesn't happen as hoodia is willpower in a bottle! I now eat only when my stomach is growling, only a tiny amount is enough, and have been able to postpone meals and stop snacking completely. Hoodia is much better than the over-the-counter appetite suppressant that they banned a few years back. I start in the morning with 2 hoodia capsules, and may have another in the afternoon if I feel a snack appetite coming on. If night eating starts happening, I'll take another one then, but it hasn't been a problem. I'm a 360 lbs white male, age 40. I took hoodia pills, 2 a day, for a week and did not notice any effect on appetite or weight loss.
My comments: We've had feedback from hoodia users regarding appetite control, and the results are mixed. Overall, though, it seems 60% of the feedback has been positive. Some people find 5-HTP or Acetyl-l-Carnitine to also have appetite suppressing qualities. It's really difficult to know who will respond to which supplement, if any. For more info, see http:www.raysahelian.com/hoodia.html or http://www.raysahelian.com/weightloss.html for practical weight loss suggestions.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 6 -- May 2005
Two weeks ago I started a class at a local university -- my first formal 10 week semester course since I finished medical school! I can't believe I'm in a classroom sitting next to 20 year olds. At 47, I may even be older than the teacher. I happen to be more excited than I've ever been in my whole education career. My mind is like a sponge ready to absorb any new information. The class I'm taking is on Chinese herbal medicine. As some of you may know from my mentions in previous newsletters or having read my books, I experiment almost daily with different herbs and nutrients to see what kind of effect they have on me. In the past few months I started experimenting with Chinese herbs and found some to be quite powerful. Hence, I'm back in school... it's so much fun not to worry about quizzes and exams, but just to learn for the fun of it... and to incorporate some of this knowledge in upcoming herbal formulations. I'll share some of my newfound knowledge with you in the coming newsletters.
Alpha Lipoic Acid and Multiple
In the last issue of the newsletter I mentioned that nutritional or herbal therapies for medical conditions were a century behind the times compared to the advances we have made in surgery. As most of you know, this is because there is little incentive to do research on supplements since they cannot be patented. So, it's nice and surprising when nutritional research is done in the United States as in the case of scientists from the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland, Oregon, who tried to learn more about the role of Alpha Lipoic Acid in multiple sclerosis.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a powerful antioxidant. Thirty-seven multiple sclerosis subjects were given alpha lipoic acid 1200 mg a day for 14 days. The results were positive. ALA was able to lower levels of two markers for multiple sclerosis called MMP-9 and CAMP-1. The researchers say, "ALA may prove useful in treating multiple sclerosis by inhibiting MMP-9 activity and interfering with T-cell migration into the CNS." MMP-9 is a matrix metalloproteinase substance which is high in multiple sclerosis patients. MMP-9 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer, autoimmune disease, and various pathologic conditions characterized by excessive fibrosis. The fact that ALA was able to reduce it is a positive indication.
My comments: I'm fascinated by the possibilities of nutritional substances in altering the course of chronic medical conditions for which modern medicine does not have good options. Although this study in no way says ALA will be a cure or long term benefit for those with MS, it does open the door for further exploration. I think the dose of 1200 mg is extremely high, and I would not recommend more than 50 mg a day of R-Alpha Lipoic Acid for long term use.
For more details, see http://www.raysahelian.com/multiplesclerosis.html
Counteracting Tylenol Toxicity
Regular use of the painkiller acetaminophen is associated with higher rates of liver and kidney toxicity, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and reduced lung function.
My comments: With hundreds of people each year dying from acetaminophen overdose, thousands more with liver damage or other health problems, why is acetaminophen still available for sale without a prescription whereas regulators have tried to pull away certain nutritional supplements that are far less toxic?
Those who need to take acetaminophen for a health condition should consider Acetylcysteine, a nutrient that protects the liver from this drug's toxicity.
For more info, see http://www.raysahelian.com/acetylcysteine.html
One More Reason to
Rationalize My Chocolate Habit
Did I say habit? Let's be honest... I guess addiction is a more accurate description... although there have been times when I have gone without chocolate for prolonged periods. For instance, I once went as long as 72 hours. This was a weekend camping trip in the woods and I had forgotten to pack the chocolate bars. So when I hear good news about cocoa, I begin salivating in anticipation. The title of a recent article caught my eye: "Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons." As I read the article while melting a square of 70% cocoa dark chocolate in my mouth, I started feeling better about my daily intake of a couple of ounces of this tasty treat. As some of you may know, chocolate has important flavonoids (a type of polyphenols). Many flavonoids dilate blood vessels and have antioxidant properties. The objective of the study was to compare the effects of either dark or white chocolate bars on blood pressure and glucose and insulin responses to an oral-glucose-tolerance test in healthy subjects. After a 7 day cocoa-free phase, 15 healthy subjects were randomly assigned to receive for 15 days either 100 grams of dark chocolate bars, which contained approximately 500 mg polyphenols, or 90 grams of white chocolate bars, which has no polyphenols. Results showed that systolic blood pressure was slightly lower after dark than after white chocolate ingestion by about 4 points and insulin sensitivity was enhanced which means blood sugar can enter cells and tissues more easily rather than linger in the bloodstream causing problems.
Question of the Month - Sorting out the Sweet Stevia Story
For more information, see http://www.raysahelian.com/stevia.html
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 5 -- May 2005
Can Prostate Cancer Risk be Reduced with Supplements?
Ginger and Pregnancy
Lycopene Helpful for Oral Leukoplakia
Leukoplakia is a common, potentially pre-cancerous disease of the mouth characterized by white spots on the mucous membranes of the tongue and inside of the mouth. People with leukoplakia are typically middle-aged and older adults; men are more likely than women to develop the disease. The risk is much higher in smokers and users of smokeless tobacco. Betel nut chewers in Asia are also at high risk.
In this study, 58 patients with oral leukoplakia were divided into three groups. Group A got 8 mg of lycopene per day, Group B took 4 mg lycopene and Group C was the placebo group. The duration of the therapy was three months. The response rate in Groups A, B, C were 80%, 66% and 12% respectively. Histological evaluation too had similar results. The researchers say, "The observed effect of lycopene suggests that it can be effectively and safely used for the management of oral leukoplakia."
My comments: Here's another example of a simple nutrient that can be helpful for many people but yet is little known by the medical community. The standard medical approach to this condition is surgical excision.
For details, see http://ww.raysahelian.com/lycopene.html
Question of the Month
Q. Have been taking 200 Mg of SAM-e for two weeks and feel much better than I did. You mention that one should not be taking SAM-e long term without a doctor's supervision. My doctor doesn't know anything about SAM-e and I can't find any doctors who are into natural healing. Why do I need a doctor's supervision? What is a doctor actually going to do. If I experience side effects I guess I can figure that out by myself. Is your statement more of legal reasons than necessity?
A. You ask a very good question. Unfortunately, even though there are highly effective natural substances that can potentially help prevent or treat a number of common medical conditions that are currently being treated by pharmaceutical drugs, most doctors have little knowledge of their existence. I can empathize with you if you live in an area where there are no doctors into natural healing. There are certainly benefits and risks of self diagnosing and medicating. An intelligent and motivated person can learn more about herbs and nutrients than most conventional doctors who have no interest in this topic. So, most consumers are basically left on their own to explore and discover all these fascinating supplements since they can count for very little help -- if not opposition -- from their doctors. As to SAM-e, it is a powerful substance, and as you have found out there are benefits to self-medicating. There are several reasons why I mention that people should be supervised by their doctor. First, legal: In this day of suing at the drop of a hat, it is medico-legally advisable for me to mention "doctor supervision." Second, perhaps as more and more people go to their doctors requesting supervision while taking supplements, more doctors will be encouraged to take an interest in this topic, especially if the feedback from their patients is positive. Perhaps they will start recommending other patients try the natural approaches. Third, it is possible that your doctor may pick up abnormalities on an exam or blood study due to toxicity or misuse of supplements. For instance, SAM-e may in some cases make someone manic, and a doctor may pick up on this behavior. Or, perhaps a blood study may show liver enzyme abnormalities from taking too high doses of certain supplements or herbs for too long.
Vol. 2, Issue 4 -- April 2005
2. Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Diabetic Neuropathy.
The dosage makes a huge difference in how often to take breaks. If your
dosage is very low, you can take supplements for prolonged periods with
hardly any breaks. If the
dosage is high, you would need to take more frequent breaks.
1. Certain fat soluble supplements, for instance Vitamin E, can accumulate in tissues such as fat cells. Some accumulate without harm -- such as beta-carotene leading to orange colored palms (carotenemia) -- but others may continue accumulating and potentially cause harm.
2. Overstimulation can occur. For instance, SAM-e can continue building up in the body and cause restlessness, insomnia and irritability if a high dose is taken over several days or weeks. Many herbs, hormones and supplements can have a stimulatory nature. Some of these include acetyl-l-carnitine, CoQ10, DHEA, DMAE, ginseng, pregnenolone, rhodiola, St. John's wort, tongkat ali, trimethylglycine and tyrosine. Taking too many in too high doses can potentially cause heart rhythm irregularities, restlessness, anxiety, and shallow sleep.
4. We just don't know enough about the long term effects of many supplements and herbs if taken daily for periods of months or years.
5. Some of the supplements may interact with the medicines you may be taking or interact with over the counter drugs or even interact with other supplements.
6. Some herbs and supplements may be beneficial to the immune system in the short term, but when taken daily for many months may potentially be counterproductive. For instance echinacea is helpful in stimulating the immune system. If taken daily for several months or years, it is possible that in rare cases it may initiate an autoimmune condition.
7. Long term, high dose, daily use of hormones -- such as DHEA and pregnenolone -- may potentially stimulate tumor growth. Taking "hormone holidays" is likely to significantly reduce the risk.
8. Tolerance can develop. For instance, melatonin and tryptophan may not work as well for sleep if taken every night and you may need a higher dose for the same effect. Certain libido herbs may work by stimulating testosterone release or release of other substances in the brain and body and the body may need a break for a few days to replenish these substances so that the herbs can be effective again. Another form of tolerance is that you may get used to the feelings that the supplements provide and not realize how well you are feeling with them until you take a break for a few days.
9. Certain herbs and supplements may influence the endocrine system in ways that we do not yet fully understand. These may be beneficial or harmful. We just don't know enough about them yet.
10. There may be impurities in the products or the binders and fillers that could be tolerated by the liver or other organs if consumed occasionally, but toxic if consumed daily for prolonged periods.
A rough guideline regarding breaks:
There are no clear and exact ways to take breaks. Some people like to use a supplement every other day or 2 days on, 2 days off, 5 days on and off on the weekends or a week to ten days off each month. Each person is unique and has different needs, so no blanket statements can be made that would apply to everyone. However, I can give some guidelines on which herbs and supplements can be safely taken with few breaks and which supplements are best taken infrequently. These guidelines only apply to supplements that are being taken for health enhancement purposes and do not apply for supplements taken to treat a particular health condition while under medical supervision. Please note that these are my opinions, other doctors or nutrition experts may have completely different viewpoints.
Supplements that can be taken almost every day
The B vitamins (less than 50 mg daily of B1, B2, B6), Vitamin C (less than 1,000 mg), Vitamin E (less than 200 units a day), Vitamin D (less than 600 units), Vitamin A (less than 15,000 units); most minerals such as calcium and magnesium; carotenoids, flavonoids, fish oils, green tea, probiotics, psyllium, stevia; herbs used as spices such as basil, curcumin, fennel, ginger; most herbs and supplements used for joint health such as glucosamine and chondroitin; most herbs used for prostate health such as saw palmetto and pygeum; most herbs used for menopause support such as black cohosh, chaste berry and red clover. Products from Physician Formulas that fall into this category include Prostate Power Rx and Joint Power Rx.
Supplements that should have more breaks. For instance taking off 2 to 4 days a week or at least a week to 10 days off each month:
5-HTP, acetyl-l-carnitine, arginine, ashwagandha, bacopa, carnitine, choline, CoQ10, creatine, cordyceps, damiana, deer antler velvet, galantamine, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, huperzine, horny goat weed, hyssop, licorice, maca, melatonin, milk thistle, mucuna pruriens, reishi, rhodiola, St. John's wort, tribulus, tryptophan, valerian, vinpocetine and herbs that influence the immune system (such as echinacea, elderberry, andrographis, astragalus); Products by Physician Formulas that fall into this category include Passion Rx and Mind Power Rx.
Supplements to be used
Hormones such as DHEA and pregnenolone (take no more than 5 or 10 mg); kava (until we learn more), Yohimbe (has many side effects, particularly on high doses).
There are some herbs and nutrients that I have not mentioned above mostly since I don't know much about their long term use. These include AHCC, beta-glucan, graviola, Lyprinol, mangosteen, nattokinase, and serrapeptase..
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 3 -- March 2005
I never completely trust the results of a single study even though the media often makes a big deal of newly published research. I like to see several trials come to a similar conclusion before I am convinced of the results. Case in point: Two years ago, a study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that St. John's Wort did not improve depression. A week ago, another study appeared that St. John's Wort is as good as a pharmaceutical drug in fighting depression. Which results should we trust? See the full discussion below.
St. John's Wort for depression -- Who's right?
Nutrients that may have positive benefits in Prostate Cancer
Smoking and Impotence
Emails from Subscribers:
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. 2, Issue 2 -- February 2005
We're in the middle of cold and flu season and I hope, thus far, you have not had the need to take a dolly to Costco to bring home several giant boxes of tissue. I have some suggestions on how to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold. In this issue I also discuss the important connection between tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin.
Zinc Lozenges for the common cold
Stroke prevention -- Stroke is one of the feared conditions in old age and fortunately much can be done to reduce the risk. For one, how a food is prepared can make a difference. Seniors eating tuna or fish that's been broiled or baked appears to lower stroke risk, but frying the catch of the day may increase it. Investigators found that people aged 65 and older who ordered frequent servings of tuna or other types of broiled or baked fish were up to 30 percent less likely than people who ate fish less than once per month to experience a stroke over a 12-year period. Diet has a strong influence on the fish oils, ginkgo biloba and vinpocetine.
Question of the month -- Fish oil versus
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE - by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Vol. 2, Issue 1 -- January 2005
Happy New Year to all of you and I hope 2005 brings you good health, more joy and love, and many other blessings. I am excited to report several interesting research findings with herbs that make me continue wondering when the medical profession will finally take a serious look at all the amazing natural products that are available to help prevent or treat many conditions that modern medicine has not treated adequately with standard drugs.
Ginkgo Improves Blood Flow to the Eyes
Butterbur for Migraine Headaches
2. Are there any safe pain medicines left for
osteoarthritis? The last few months have shattered the notion that
pharmaceutical arthritis pain medicines are safe for long term use.
The Cox-2 inhibitors Vioxx and
Celebrex are practically out of the picture;
naproxen (sold as Aleve), also might
increase the risk of heart attack or stroke; ibuprofen (Motrin) can cause
damage to the small intestine; and acetaminophen (Tylenol) is no more
effective for arthritis pain than placebo; and besides, long term use may
harm the liver. I remember treating several people during my residency
years who had come to the hospital with liver damage from
acetaminophen toxicity. And do you know what we used to help their liver
recover from the toxicity?
A natural supplement called Acetycysteine, which is a powerful
So, what are left that have a good safety record thus far for long term use? Our herbal and nutritional friends -- glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and other natural herbs and nutrients.
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. I, Issue 5 -- December 2004
I hope by now you have recovered from your several thousand calorie Thanksgiving feast. I know I needed a nap after the meal, which can be embarrassing if you are with company.. After dessert I think I dosed off for a while on the sofa. Fortunately it's okay to do that around family members.
Last month I mentioned the vitamin E study where researchers found that taking more than 400 units a day could potentially shorten lifespan. As I read reports about this -- and the scary hype -- in newspaper articles and listened to medical commentators on TV, I realized again how little the media, and so called experts, know about the topics they are discussing and the information, or misinformation, they are disseminating. I didn't come across any comments regarding the fact that the study did not differentiate between synthetic and natural viamin E, nor did the study discuss one form of vitamin E intake, such as synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol, versus taking a natural complete vitamin E complex that includes several tocopherols, such as alpha, beta, and gamma. This made me even more determined to increase the number of subscribers to my newsletter so I can have a wider influence regarding interpretation of studies on supplements.
Vitamin E and CoQ10 work well together for heart and circulation
One of the early signs of vascular disease is inflammation within the walls of the arteries. This inflammation attracts white blood cells and other types of cells floating in the blood to the damaged inner lining of the arteries, resulting in plaque formation and increased likelihood of clotting. The initial inflammation and subsequent damage can result from a number of factors, including oxidation or free radical damage, high cholesterol, and high homocysteine.
Researchers gave 21 baboons a high fat, high-cholesterol diet (just like my Thanksgiving meal) daily for 7 weeks and measured the blood level of a substance you will hear of more in the future called CRP, short for C-reactive protein. CRP is a marker for inflammation. The higher the CRP, the more damage to the inner lining of a blood vessel, like the coronary arteries in the heart. At the end of the 7 weeks, they continued with this high fat, high cholesterol diet, but this time they added vitamin E. The addition of vitamin E reduced the level of CRP. Then they added COQ10 on top of the vitamin E for another 2 weeks. They discovered that the levels of CRP dropped even further. The researchers conclude, "Dietary supplementation with vitamin E alone reduces the baseline inflammatory status that is indicated by the CRP concentration in healthy adult baboons. Co-supplementation with CoQ10 significantly enhances this effect of vitamin E."
Dr. Sahelian says: For those of you with a heart condition or high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease, it would make sense to take vitamin E complex and CoQ10. Discuss with your doctor if these are appropriate for your condition. A reasonable amount would be 30 to 200 units daily of natural vitamin E complex, or 100 to 300 units two or three times a week since vitamin E is fat soluble and can be stored in fat cells. As to CoQ10, a range of 20 to 60 mg is appropriate, a few times a week. CoQ10 is also fat soluble and is best taken with breakfast. Vitamin E can be taken with any meal.
For more information, see www.raysahelian.com/coq10.html
SAMe better than Prozac?
An FDA advisory panel refused to recommend approval of a new testosterone skin patch to treat low libido in women, saying that its manufacturer, Procter & Gamble, did not provide enough evidence that it is safe for long-term use. The panel voted unanimously that the company did not have sufficient data to show that prolonged exposure to testosterone is safe in women. This is good, since there are natural herbs that work just as well or better to enhance female libido, such as muira puama, tribulus, horny goat weed, and tongkat ali. They may take a few days to fully work. Passion Rx, a combination product with 11 herbs, works within hours. See www.raysahelian.com/female_libido.html
Some vegetarians have metabolic signs indicating a vitamin B-12
deficiency leading to a substantial increase in total homocysteine
concentrations. High blood homocysteine levels can damage arteries and
make blood clot more easily. Vegetarian may also not get enough CoQ10, Carnitine, Creatine, and omega 3s. See
www.raysahelian.com/vegetarian.html for suggestions on which
supplements you may need if you are vegan or vegetarian.
Substances in kale, spinach collard greens, broccoli, turnips, and other green vegetables help protect aging eyes from cataracts. These vegetables contain carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. It's best to take a full range of carotenoids as opposed to just one or two. If you eat a lot of fresh produce, you would not need to take supplements, you're probably getting enough carotenoids. See www.raysahelian.com/carotenoids.html
In a test tube study, several phytoestrogens found in common herbal products were found to be powerful inhibitors of human prostate tumor cells. These were quercetin (found in onions, apples, berries, tea), genistein (found in soy), epigallocatechin gallate (in green tea), curcumin (in turmeric or curry powder)) and resveratrol (in grapes, red wine). See www.raysahelian.com/phytoestrogens.html
Question of the month
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. I, Issue 4 -- November 2004
The elections are over and half of you are thrilled while the other half of you are disheartened. The whole process seemed quite exhausting and I'm glad it's over. Now the media can focus on other topics. ABC 20/20 did just that last week when they had a segment on sexual myths and they reported that natural aphrodisiacs do work. I was glad to hear that because ever since I wrote Natural Sex Boosters and formulated Passion Rx, reporters who have interviewed me seemed quite skeptical that herbs actually could be potent sex boosters. I think this mentality is gradually going to change over the next few years... and hopefully put a dent in the profit margins of drug companies.
This week I turn 47. It's hard to believe since I still think of myself being in my 30s. Time sure passes quickly. I hope the information in this newsletter and my website helps you stay healthy and happy as long as possible. By the way, if you wish to forward this newsletter to your friends, feel free to do so.
Are you taking too much vitamin E?
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore pooled data from 19 trials of vitamin E supplementation. These included nearly 136,000 subjects who were randomly assigned to take vitamin E or placebo capsules and were followed for more than a year. Overall, vitamin E supplementation did not affect mortality rates. However, the trials testing doses of 400 IU daily or higher showed 39 more deaths occurred per 10,000 people taking high-dose vitamin E than among the same number of people taking a placebo. For low doses of vitamin E -- less than 150 IU daily -- mortality rates were slightly decreased.
Dr. Sahelian says: I always thought that, for most people, taking more than 100 to 200 units a day of vitamin E was not necessary. The one problem with this study, though, is that it probably did not make a distinction between synthetic vitamin E supplements and natural vitamin E. 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.
Also, the study did not account for the d-alpha form of vitamin E versus a natural Vitamin E supplement that includes all the tocopherols and tocotrienols. Even though it is a flawed study, I still think 50 to 200 units a few times a week is quite adequate.
Lipoic acid--a crucial nutrient--are you wasting half your money?
Anti-aging action of Cordyceps extract in mice
SUPPLEMENT RESEARCH UPDATE
Vol. I, Issue 3 -- October 2004
I happen to be in a very balanced and relaxed state of mind since I just returned from a week-long bicycle trip in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, riding the back roads and seeing up close the beautiful Amish and Mennonite farms. I also had a chance to have dinner with an Amish family and visit their farm... I just love their simplicity, humility, honesty and down to earth nature. After the bicycle tour I attended a supplement expo trade show in Washington DC to see what was hot and happening and to do a book signing at my publisher's booth.
Take your ADHD child on
a nature walk
Is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder partly due to a deficiency of exposure to nature? New research suggests parents may find some relief for their children's ADHD symptoms by going back to nature. A study of 452 parents of children with ADHD found that activities in "green" spaces such as farms, parks and even backyards often seemed to temporarily mellow the children's symptoms. Children were more likely to show improved behavior in the hours after an outdoor, green activity than after activities performed indoors or in concrete-and-steel settings.
For more information about ADHD, see www.raysahelian.com/adhd.html
I'm still not comfortable recommeding dosages of
CoQ10 above 100 mg a day for prolonged periods until we have at least
a 3 year study of high doses given to humans. Another study shows that
CoQ!0 and Vitamin E work well together in reducing inflammatory
Melatonin for Migraines... and Asthma?
Melatonin is a natural hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and is involved in regulating the circadian cycle. There is increasing evidence that melatonin secretion is related to headache disorders, Dr. Mario Peres, of Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, in Sao Paulo, Brazil note in the medical journal Neurology. "Altered melatonin levels have been found in cluster headache, migraine with and without aura, menstrual migraine, and chronic migraine," the researchers write. The research team tested the effectiveness of melatonin for preventing migraine, with or without aura, in 34 sufferers. The participants were given 3 milligrams of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime. Among the 32 subjects who completed the study, 25 experienced at least a 50 percent reduction in headache frequency after three months of treatment. Melatonin also decreased headache intensity and duration, and overall use of painkillers and drugs to treat a migraine decreased.
Vol. I, Issue 1 -- August 2004
Tell your urologist about this study before he or she works on your prostate
I found it really interesting that an herb could be used before surgery to reduce the complications after the operation. The aim of the study conducted at Clinica Malzoni, Avellino, Italy was to evaluate the efficacy of a pretreatment with saw palmetto to reduce bleeding during transurethral resection of prostate (TURP) in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia. 108 patients received a pretreatment with a saw palmetto extract (320 mg a day) for at least 8 weeks before the TURP procedure and they were compared to a placebo group. In the placebo group patients did not receive any medical treatment before the intervention. Results: In the group treated with saw palmetto, bleeding during and after the operation was significantly lower than in the control group and the need of transfusion decreased remarkably. Moreover, in the saw palmetto group, the duration of postoperative catheterization lasted 3 days versus the placebo group who needed catherization for 5 days.
Dr. Sahelian comments: Ask your urologist whether it would be okay to take saw palmetto before a TURP procedure. I can't see how if would harm, and there is indication that it could be helpful.
for more information, see www.raysahelian.com/saw.html
Live longer by sipping red wine?
If you haven't already heard about resveratrol (pronounced rez-ver-a-trawl), you will soon. Resveratrol has been in the news a great deal lately. Extensive research from all over the globe contiunes to accumulate about the benefits of this interesting compound. Studies show resveratrol is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-infective, and it activates the longevity gene. Recent laboratory studies indicate that resveratrol has promising therapeutic activity in various cancers, including breast, prostate, and neuroblastoma. As to its anti-aging potential, resveratrol activates a cell's survival defense enzyme, which prolongs the time cells have to repair their broken DNA. As red wine is a rich source, many sources will reference resveratrol as "red wine polyphenols," "red-wine extract," etc. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation about resveratrol, keep the following in mind when reviewing articles and marketing information about related products. As resveratrol is found in the skins of grapes, red wine will provide several times more resveratrol than white wine. As resveratrol is vulnerable to fairly rapid destruction by light and oxygen, the fact that wine is stored in air-tight, cool conditions away from sun light protects the resveratrol content. Only immediately after a bottle of wine is opened is the maximum resveratrol potency available.
Dr. Sahelian comments: I'm not much of an alcohol drinker since I've never really appreciated the taste of alcohol as others do. But I've finally been convinced enough about the benefits of resveratrol that I've started drinking an ounce or two of red wine with dinner a couple of times a week. I'm actually starting to like the taste.
for more information, see www.raysahelian.com/resveratrol.html
Glucosamine and MSM work better together for arthritis
We all know the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis. Now it seems there's another nutrient that could be helpful in combination with glucosamine. This nutrient is known as MSM -- which stands for Methylsulfonylmethane. In the June 2004 issue of the journal Clinical Drug Investigations, scientists report that although the individual agents did improve pain and swelling in arthritic joints, the combined therapy was more effective than the single nutrients in reducing symptoms and improving the function of joints. In a clinical trial conducted at Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India, 118 patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis were treated three times daily with either 500 milligrams of glucosamine, 500 milligrams of methylsulfonylmethane, a combination of both, or an inactive placebo. After 12 weeks of treatment, the average pain score had fallen from 1.74 to 0.65 in the glucosamine-only group. In MSM-only participants, it fell from 1.53 to 0.74. However, in the combination group, it fell from 1.7 to 0.36.
Dr. Sahelian comments: It would seem reasonable for those with arthritis to take this combination. The dose of glucosamine has been established to be 500 mg 3 times a day. We still don't know enough about MSM to determine whether lesser amounts than 500 mg three times a day would still be effective.
Can an herbal supplement improve your stamina?
Rhodiola rosea, also known as golden or Arctic root, grows in the Arctic regions of eastern Siberia. Rhodiola is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia. Russians have drunk rhodiola tea for centuries as an energy booster. Russian and Chinese scientists have researched the benefits of Rhodiola for several decades. The purpose of this study conducted at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. was to two-fold. To investigate the effect of acute and long term 4-week Rhodiola rosea intake on physical capacity, muscle strength, and reaction time. During the acute phase of the study, subjects were given 200-mg of Rhodiola rosea extract and the results compared a few days later when they were given placebo pills. Subjects given rhodiola had sligthly more stamina. The time to exhaustion during exercise was 17.2 minutes compared to 16.8 min on placebo. Also, lung ventilation capacity improved during rhodiola treatment. In a second phase of the study, subjects subjects ingested 200 mg of rhodiola for 4 weeks. The results showed that there was no difference in stamina when compared to placebo.
Dr. Sahelian comments: It appears that Rhodiola rosea intake for a day or two can improve endurance exercise capacity, but long term use does not make much of a difference. Practically speaking, it would make sense to take breaks from use. Perhaps this recommendation could also apply to ginseng and other adaptogens.
For more information, see www.raysahelian.com/rhodiola.html
Should diabetics drink more soy and less milk?
Kidney function of people with type 2 diabetes seems to be improved by dietary soy protein. A study of 14 older men with diabetes-related kidney disease found that adding a soy product to their diets reduced the amount of protein in their urine -- an indicator of improved kidney function. It's unclear why soy protein might aid in diabetic kidney disease, but estrogen-like plant compounds called isoflavones could be involved, said one of the researchers Dr. Erdman, a professor of food science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Isoflavones are types of flavonoids found in plants. The main sources for isoflavones are soy products, beans, peas, nuts, grain products, coffee, tea and certain herbs such as red clover. Genistein is one of the best known and studied isoflavones. Compounds in plants that have estrogen-like properties are called phytoestrogens. Most isoflavones have phytoestrogenic properties. For eight weeks, men in the study used an isolated soy protein powder that could be added to a drink or food. For another eight weeks, they used a milk-based protein powder. The goal, Erdman explained, was to have the men replace part of their usual protein intake with the soy or milk protein; however, the patients failed to follow the diet instructions and instead added the protein powders to their normal routine. Yet even with the extra protein intake, the men's excretion of protein in urine fell an average of nearly 10 percent when they consumed the soy product In contrast, protein levels in the urine increased with the milk-based powder. In addition, eight weeks on the soy powder boosted the men's levels of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol by about four percent, while it tended to dip while the men were on the milk protein. Blood tests showed that as the men's isoflavone levels increased, their protein excretion declined. SOURCE: Journal of Nutrition, August 2004.
For more information, see www.raysahelian.com/isoflavones.html
While I would like to think that I am open-minded, I am also somewhat of a skeptic about the claims made about nutritional supplements. The fact that you summarize the research on various supplements, as well as providing journal citations, allows me to placate my scientific mind. Yes, I know that you want to ultimately sell your supplements, and books, but that is fine with me. It is a fair trade for the good that your web-site and e-mails do for me. And no, I wasn't planning to stop using my joint supplement (Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM) just because CNN told me to. I know that the knee that I had 'scoped feels better when I am cycling than it used to.