UPDATED: What do you say about a soldier who suffers with PTSD due to a tour in the Middle East and finds out the death of his mother and grandfather within a couple of months. He's placed on multiple medications to help with this condition, but unfortunately medication isn’t the cure to PTSD as it is very complicated to understand much less treat effectively. One medication mentioned by the media is Ambein. but more on that in a moment.
Enzymes may not share the superstar status of certain vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, and other miracle nutrients in the world of conventional health and nutrition, yet a growing number of studies suggest that enzymes very much deserve a standing ovation when it comes to improving overall health and the successful treatment of numerous diseases.
Enzymes perform an all-encompassing function in the development and maintenance of the human body. Dr. Edward Howell, father of enzyme nutrition and therapy, stated that enzymes are the very substances that make life possible. Yet mainstream medicine has frequently ignored this basic fact, undervaluing the enzymes' vital role in health and underestimating their true potential in overall health, including disease management and prevention. Proponents and advocates of enzyme therapy regard enzyme bankruptcy as a lethal health catastrophe, causing countless bodies to shut down prematurely.
Know Your Enzymes
Bodies of research have identified more than 3,000 types of enzymes in the human body. As organic catalysts, enzymes are known to initiate, speed up, slow down, alter or halt about 4,000 kinds of biochemical reactions. Millions of biochemical reactions take place in our body on a daily basis, including respiration, food digestion, assimilation and transportation of nutrients, detoxification of certain organs, blood purification, movement of muscles, production and regulation of hormones, and cell renewal and repair, to name a few. The enzymes make all these processes possible, and they are destroyed once they complete their respective tasks.
There are three types of enzymes: digestive, metabolic, and food enzymes. Digestive enzymes are produced by the digestive organs that aid in breaking down food into more assimilable forms.
The four general classes of digestive enzymes are:
Amylase, which digests carbohydrates, starches, and sugars found in grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables.
Protease, which breaks down protein found in meat, nuts, and cheese into amino-acids.
Lipase, which breaks down fats and oils found in dairy and meat products into fatty acids.
Cellulase, which helps digest fiber.
Metabolic enzymes on the other hand are manufactured by the body's own cells to perform highly specific tasks required in regulating the blood, tissues, and organs.
They are responsible for:
Metabolic enzymes also carry out the delivery and absorption of nutrients in various organs.
The third kind of enzymes is the food enzymes. These enzymes are the vital life force naturally found in raw, uncooked food. By definition, raw food is food heated below 118 degrees F, the highest temperature in which enzymes can still survive and function. There are a lot of well-documented cases that attest to the wonderful benefits and healing power of raw food. The enzymes present in raw food work synergistically with the other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and co-enzymes, allowing your digestive system to take its much needed rest and giving your immune system the necessary boost to successfully carry out its search and destroy missions.
The Enzyme and Disease Connection
The problem arises when the body becomes overburdened in producing enzymes due too poor dietary choices like eating cooked, highly processed and preservative-laden foods. According to research, food enzymes are heat-sensitive and die when heated at temperatures above 118 degrees F. When a person ingests enzyme-less food, his body then diverts a lot of its energy to the production of digestive enzymes to break down the carbohydrates, protein, fat, and other nutrients of the food. If a person has been eating cooked, unhealthy food most of his life, his body's line of defense may already be exhausted in its fight against diseases associated with diets high in sugar, sodium, additives, trans and saturated fat, and carcinogenic substances.
This is further compounded by a person's genetic predisposition to certain diseases. The body then struggles more to achieve homeostasis or internal equilibrium, which is needed for all the organ systems to run smoothly and to function properly. Because a lot of energy gets allotted to the manufacturing of digestive enzymes, the production of metabolic enzymes becomes disrupted. The more important tasks of providing immune system back-up, blood purification, and organ detox needed in fighting off disease all take a backseat to the digestion of cooked food. Nevertheless the body does not stop recognizing an unfriendly invasion when it sees one, and in a greatly strained attempt to set all things back to order, it goes on a red-alert mode and uses all its limited energy to follow its natural tendency--which is to heal itself. The body is not meant to be in a state of emergency for a prolonged period of time. When this happens, the body finally breaks down and serious diseases like cancer develop.
Other diseases linked to enzyme deficiency include heart disease, which is a sign of the body's inability to break down fats. Autoimmune diseases such as allergies and arthritis on the other hand are the results of the body's incapacity to digest protein and carbohydrates.
The Enzyme Advantage
Studies indicate that increasing your raw food intake and taking enzyme supplements can be very potent measures in the prevention and healing of certain diseases including cancer. Although raw food already has its own enzymes to digest its own nutrients, the undigested substances circulating in the blood that are responsible for a lot of diseases would need extra enzymes before they could be broken down for elimination. This is where enzyme support comes in handy. The high concentration of enzymes in enzyme supplements can dissolve all the unfriendly substances floating in the bloodstream that are causing damage to various organs. Since bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells are made up of protein, proteolytic or protein-metabolizing enzymes such as protease would greatly assist in destroying pathogens and cancer cells. White blood cells are also heavily dependent on enzymes; a shortage on their supply would therefore result in impaired immune function. It is for these reasons that a mega-dose of enzyme supplements is usually required to restore health to cancer patients.
Various experiments conducted on enzymes demonstrate their versatility and efficacy. Combined with a proper diet and other nutritional supplements, enzymes can perform tasks that are nothing short of miraculous. The use of enzymes among athletes suffering from injury and patients who underwent surgery accelerated the recovery and healing of both groups. In one study, a marked improvement was noted among arthritic patients consuming raw food. In another study, a control group of hypertensive and obese outpatients experienced a significant improvement in their conditions on a raw vegan diet. Enzymes have also been shown to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy among cancer patients. Countless allergy sufferers reported relief upon increasing their enzyme intake. Other reported benefits include the elimination of digestive and colon problems, hay fever, asthma, inflammation, hypoglycemia, and Crohn's disease.
We all know the healing power of nutrients and herbs, but there are a few times when medication and nutrients/herbs can collide. In the case of blood thinning medications we need to gain wisdom. Below are the nutrients and herbs which can interaction if someone is taking a blood thinner.
In theory, bromelain might enhance the action of anticoagulants. This theoretical concern has not been substantiated by human research, however.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is structurally similar to vitamin K and may affect blood coagulation. Four case reports describe possible interference by CoQ10 with warfarin activity. It remains unknown how common or rare this interaction is. Those taking warfarin should only take CoQ10 with the guidance of their doctor.
Iron, magnesium, and zinc may bind with warfarin, potentially decreasing their absorption and activity. People on warfarin therapy should take warfarin and iron/magnesium/zinc-containing products at least two hours apart.
Papain, an enzyme extract of papaya, was associated with increased warfarin activity in one patient. Persons taking warfarin should avoid papain supplements until further information about this potential interaction becomes available.
Although case reports have suggested that vitamin C might increase the activity of anticoagulants in a potentially dangerous way, this interaction has not been confirmed in research studies. In fact, a possible interference by vitamin C with the effect of anticoagulants has also been reported. A 52-year-old woman maintained on 7.5 mg of warfarin per day had a shortening of the blood clotting time which was not corrected by increasing warfarin up to 20 mg per day. Further questioning revealed she had begun taking an unspecified amount of vitamin C each morning. After stopping vitamin C, the blood clotting time returned to desired levels. Based on this and other case reports, people taking warfarin should consult with their physician before taking vitamin C supplements.
In 1975, a single letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that vitamin D increases the activity of anticoagulants and that this interaction could prove dangerous. However, there have been no other reports of such an interaction, even though tens of millions of people are taking multivitamins that contain vitamin D. Most doctors typically do not tell patients taking anticoagulant medications to avoid vitamin D.
An isolated case was reported in 1974 of vitamin E (up to 1,200 IU per day) being associated with increased anticoagulation (blood thinning) in a patient treated with warfarin.11 A study of 12 people undergoing warfarin therapy found that additional vitamin E (100 IU or 400 IU per day) did not induce a clinical bleeding state. Moreover, a double-blind trial found that supplementation with vitamin E in amounts up to 1,200 IU per day had no effect on warfarin activity. It now appears safe for people taking warfarin to supplement vitamin E despite information to the contrary often provided by doctors about this purported interaction. These warnings are based on the isolated case report from 1974.
Warfarin slows blood clotting by interfering with vitamin K activity. Since vitamin K reverses the anticoagulant effects of warfarin, people taking warfarin should avoid vitamin K–containing supplements unless specifically directed otherwise by their prescribing doctor. Some vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, parsley, spinach, and others) are high in vitamin K. Eating large quantities or making sudden changes in the amounts eaten of these vegetables can interfere with the effectiveness and safety of warfarin therapy. The greener the plant, the higher the vitamin K content. Other significant dietary sources of vitamin K include soybean oil, olive oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil.
Vitamin K supplementation can be used, however, to counteract an overdose of warfarin. Such treatment requires the supervision of a doctor.
Interactions with Herbs
Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Asian ginseng was associated with a decrease in warfarin activity in a case report. Persons taking warfarin should consult with a physician knowledgeable about botanical medicines if they are considering taking Asian ginseng or eleuthero/Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus). A 1999 animal study did not reveal any significant interaction between warfarin and pure ginseng extract.
Dan shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza)
Dan shen, a Chinese herb, was associated with increased warfarin activity in several cases. Dan shen should only be used under close medical supervision by people taking warfarin. Sage (Salvia officinalis), a plant relative of dan shen found in the West, is not associated with interactions involving warfarin.
Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
Devil’s claw was associated with purpura (bleeding under the skin) in a patient treated with warfarin. However, key details in this case—including other medications taken and the amounts and duration of warfarin and devil’s claw taken—were not reported, making it impossible to evaluate this reported interaction. Until more is known, people taking warfarin should avoid taking devil’s claw.
Dong quai (Angelica sinensis)
A 46-year-old woman taking warfarin experienced increased strength of the anticoagulant properties of the drug after starting to use dong quai for menopause. The daily amount of dong quai was 1,130–2,260 mg per day. Her bleeding tendency returned to normal after discontinuing the dong quai. While little is known about the potential interaction of dong quai and warfarin, women should discuss the use of the herb with a healthcare professional if they are taking an anticoagulant drug and wish to use dong quai.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Although there are no documented cases of feverfew interacting with warfarin in humans, feverfew has been shown to interfere with certain aspects of blood clotting in test tube studies.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic has been shown to help prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), perhaps by reducing the ability of platelets to stick together. This can result in an increase in the tendency toward bleeding. Standardized extracts have, on rare occasions, been associated with bleeding in people. Garlic extracts have also been associated with two human cases of increased warfarin activity. The extracts were not definitively shown to be the cause of the problem. People taking warfarin should consult with a doctor before taking products containing standardized extracts of garlic or eating more than one clove of garlic daily.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger has been shown to reduce platelet stickiness in test tubes. Although there are no reports of interactions with anticoagulant drugs, people should consult a healthcare professional if they are taking an anticoagulant and wish to use ginger.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Ginkgo extracts may reduce the ability of platelets to stick together, possibly increasing the tendency toward bleeding. Standardized extracts of ginkgo have been associated with two cases of spontaneous bleeding, although the ginkgo extracts were not definitively shown to be the cause of the problem. There are two case reports of people taking warfarin in whom bleeding occurred after the addition of ginkgo. People taking warfarin should consult with a physician knowledgeable about botanical medicines if they are considering taking ginkgo.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis)
One man taking warfarin and one-half to one gallon of green tea per day developed signs based on laboratory testing suggesting his blood was too thick because the green tea was blocking the effect of warfarin. Removal of the green tea caused normalization of his blood tests. Those taking green tea and warfarin together should have their blood monitored regularly to avert any problems and should consult with a doctor, healthcare practitioner and/or pharmacist before taking any medication.
Herbs containing coumarin derivatives
Although there are no specific studies demonstrating interactions with anticoagulants, the following herbs contain coumarin-like substances that may interact with warfarin and may cause bleeding. These herbs include angelica root, arnica flower, anise, asafoetida, celery, chamomile, corn silk, fenugreek, horse chestnut, licorice root, lovage root, parsley, passion flower herb, quassia, red clover, rue, sweet clover, and sweet woodruff. Dong quai contains at least six coumarin derivatives, which may account for the interaction noted above. People should consult a healthcare professional if they’re taking an anticoagulant and wish to use one of these herbs.
Quinine (Cinchona species)
Quinine, a chemical found in cinchona bark and available as a drug product, has been reported to increase warfarin activity. People should read labels for quinine/cinchona content. People taking warfarin should avoid quinine-containing products.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
As it may increase bleeding time, reishi is not recommended for those taking anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
According to a preliminary report, volunteers taking 900 mg per day of St. John’s wort were given a single dose of an anticoagulant similar in action to warfarin. There was a significant drop in the amount of the drug measured in the blood. Seven case studies reported to the Medical Products Agency in Sweden also found a decrease in the anticoagulant activity of warfarin when St. John’s wort was taken at the same time. This may have occurred because certain chemicals found in St. John’s wort activate liver enzymes that are involved in the elimination of some drugs.46 47 People taking warfarin should consult with their doctor before taking St. John’s wort.
Interactions with Foods and Other Compounds
Alcohol use, especially long-term heavy drinking, can decrease the effectiveness of warfarin. People taking warfarin are cautioned to avoid alcohol.
Some vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, parsley, spinach, and others) are high in vitamin K. Eating large quantities49 or making sudden changes in the amounts eaten of these vegetables, interferes with the effectiveness and safety of warfarin therapy. Eating charbroiled food may decrease warfarin activity,while eating soy meal foods and cooked onions may increase warfarin activity. The significance of these last two interactions remains unclear.
The FDA-approved fat substitute, olestra, interferes with fat absorption, including the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin, is added to olestra to offset this adverse effect.Since vitamin K interferes with the activity of warfarin, eating snacks containing olestra may also interfere with the drug’s activity. The impact of eating snacks containing olestra has not been evaluated in people taking warfarin. However, until more is known, it makes sense for people taking warfarin to avoid olestra-containing foods.
Here is a link to the article I wrote for 'Total Health' Magazine on 'The Life Changing Power of D-Ribose.
Today we are talking about aging. More specifically, how to slow it down. Let’s get started and get you looking and feeling younger.
Mint: Mint, the well known mouth and breath freshener that is scientifically known as Mentha, has more than two dozen species and hundreds of varieties. It is an herb that has been used for hundreds of years for its remarkable medicinal properties.
While mint oil is a good antiseptic and anti-pruritic material, mint juice is an excellent skin cleanser. It soothes skin, and helps to cure infections and itchiness, as well as being a good way to reduce pimples, and it can even relieve some of the symptoms of acne. Its anti-pruritic properties can be used for treating insect bites like those of mosquitoes, honeybees, hornets, wasps, and gnats. The cooling sensation will relieve you of the irritating sensation to scratch, and the anti-inflammatory nature of mint will bring down swelling! In that same vein, mint oil is often a basic component of bug repellent products like citronella candles, because the strong aroma is unappealing to most insects.
Try these two treatments for cleaner skin:
Apply fresh mint juice over the face every night for the treatment of pimples. A mint-based face pack (applied once a week) is useful in treating eczema, insect stings, scabies and other skin infections.
For a soothing body pack, prepare a paste of mint leaves and add the juice of a lemon. Mix it with warm water and apply all over your body. Leave it till it dries and rinse with warm water. Mint also has proven medicinal uses for a clear skin remedy. In summer, drink lemonade with crushed mint leaves to look and feel cool.
Papaya: Most people are clueless about the skin care properties of papaya. This tropical fruit contains the enzyme papain, which has great antibacterial and wound healing abilities. The enzyme also aids in removing dead, damaged skin. Papaya is extensively used in wound care, and regular facial application of papaya juice helps reduce freckles or brown spots due to sunlight exposure.
Here is a papaya-based mask for all skin types:
Take 1⁄4 cup of cocoa, 2 teaspoons of cream, 1⁄4 cup ripe papaya, 1⁄4 cup honey and 2 teaspoons of oatmeal powder. Mix and apply to your face. After 10 minutes, wash your face with warm water.
Turmeric: Turmeric is an ancient Indian herb. Its benefits are so well- known that Indian brides and grooms apply turmeric and milk to their skin before marriage to look more beautiful.
Even now, you can find women in Indian villages sporting yellow- tinged faces; this is because they apply turmeric on their faces every day. Apart from antiseptic properties, turmeric helps in lightening blemishes and pigmentation. The herb can used to treat a multitude of skin problems.
For a fresher, cleaner look try this:
Apply a paste of turmeric powder and pineapple juice for dark circles.
Add a few teaspoons of sugarcane juice to turmeric powder to remove wrinkles.
A mixture of turmeric and sandalwood paste is very effective in rejuvenating dry, parched skin.
Egg Whites: A great way to reduce wrinkles naturally is to apply egg whites to any problem areas. Separate the whites from the yolks of 2-3 eggs and whip the whites until frothy. Massage the whites into trouble spots and let dry for 20-30 minutes. Make sure to rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water when time is up. You can use this natural wrinkle reducer 3-4 times a week if you wish. Egg whites are
loaded with natural proteins that help to tighten skin and reduce wrinkles and fine lines.
!Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer and contains many antioxidants that help prevent and reduce wrinkles. Additionally, the high fat content of coconut oil makes it excellent for improving skin tone and elasticity. Simply apply a small amount of pure coconut oil to areas prone to wrinkles. Do this at night before bed and allow the oil to penetrate overnight. You can repeat this as often as you wish. You can also make a mixture of coconut oil and Vitamin E, as they are both effective for wrinkle reduction and may work wonders together.
Call 1-800-620-9975 to ask about today's special offer at Nutritional Living for Dr. Bond's GH3.
Monolaurin is a physiologic anti-microbial agent that protects the immune system from a range of infectious agents. A monoglycerol ester of the fatty acid lauric acid, it can be found in mammalian breast milk, amniotic fluid, and some foods, most notably coconut oil. It has been shown to protect newborns, whose immune systems are underdeveloped, from Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and other respiratory tract viruses (1,2). As a dietary supplement, it has been used as an anti-viral and anti-bacterial agent.
Monolaurin works by disintegrating the lipid envelope coat of viruses. Data from these studies suggest that the loss of virus infectivity is associated with the solubilization of Monolaurin into the envelope. The virus absorbs the fatty acid for its own replication, but winds up destroying its own protective coat.
For those who feel as if they are coming down with a viral infection, doctors often recommend taking six capsules on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning, and for acute cases, six more at night. (If you have a sensitive stomach, it can be taken with food.) The dose can be tapered off as symptoms decrease. Some physicians recommend a maintenance dose of two capsules daily in the presence of high titers to the Epstein-Barr Virus, Herpes 1 & 2, or other chronic viral conditions. Of course, one should always seek the advice of a physician in cases of fever and/or pain, or if symptoms persist.
Monolaurin has been shown to be active against Influenza Virus, Pneumo Virus, Paramyxo Virus (Newcastle), Morbillivirus (Rubeola), Corona Virus (Avian Infectious, Bronchitis Virus), Herpes Simplex I & II, CMV and EBV.
Has Been Commonly Used for:
· Yeast and Fungus
· Colds & Flu
· H. Pylori (acid reflux bacteria)
Loading up our bodies with food three times a day is a cultural habit, not a biological need. Instead, eating smaller portions four to five times a day delivers a steady stream of nutrients, blood sugar, and energy to the body throughout the day. Less taxing on the digestive and metabolic systems, smaller meals prevent overloading and excess waste accumulation. Yet another benefit: dividing caloric intake in this way reduces your risk of heart disease.
You Are What You Eat!
Remember the famous saying, “You are what you eat?” It’s also true that you are when you eat. Because of the human body’s circadian rhythm, the same foods eaten at breakfast or lunch are processed differently than when they are eaten at dinner. Research shows that when you eat your daily protein and fat at breakfast you tend to lose weight and have more energy, while eating the same things at dinnertime produces tendencies toward weight gain, increased blood pressure, and heart disease.
Ever wonder what Wonder Bread is really made of, or how many miles that head of limp lettuce has traveled? There’s nothing like fresh, whole, organic foods to maintain your health and well-being. Farm-fresh produce and
meats go directly from the source to your table, leaving little time in
between for nutrients to be lost. Many foods at your supermarket have
been picked or slaughtered weeks or even months before they make it onto the shelf. These items are preserved by nitrogen or other artificial means, making them appear fresh. Moreover, foods treated with pesticides and artificial fertilizers have lower nutritional value then organically grown foods.
Ladies, I want to take a minute to offer my sincerest sympathies for all of the emotional and physical trials you have to endure in your bodies. There’s the pain of childbirth, the hot flashes, the cramping and the list just goes on and on. At least you don’t have to go through the embarrassment of losing your hair too. Oh, wait a minute. That’s just one more thing to add to the already large list of things you ladies are forced to deal with.
While there’s nothing I can do to take away the pain of childbirth I just might have some information for you today that can bring back a full, vibrant and healthy head of hair. Get your notepad ready and let’s get started!
Everyone loses hair. It happens during your morning shower, while you're blowing it dry, or when you give it a quick brush—and that's normal. Women, on average, lose fifty to one hundred hairs a day. That's just hair going through its cycles, and there will be a new one to replace it. But hair loss may be a sign of a more serious medical condition that needs an evaluation by a dermatologist and possible treatment. Here are nine causes of hair loss and how to deal with them.
Telogen Effluvium: occurs after pregnancy, major surgery, drastic weight loss, or extreme stress, in which you shed large amounts of hair every day, usually when shampooing, styling, or brushing.
Hereditary Hair Loss: known as androgenetic alopecia and, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, is the most common cause of hair loss. The gene can be inherited from either your mother's or father's side of the family, though you're more likely to have it if both of your parents had hair loss.
Alopecia Areata: an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks hair follicles. It affects about 4.7 million people in the United States and occurs equally in men and women. The cause is unknown, but it may be triggered by stress or illness.
Skin Conditions of the Scalp: skin conditions that lead to hair loss include dandruff, psoriasis, and fungal infections such as ringworm. Seborrheic dermatitis causes the scalp to shed its skin, so you'll notice greasy, yellowish scales on your shoulders or in your hair.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: PCOS can cause facial hair growth, irregular periods, acne, and cysts on the ovaries. And while you may experience hair loss on your scalp, you may notice more hair elsewhere on the body.
Lupus: Lupus often causes extreme fatigue, headaches, oral ulcers, and painful, swollen joints. Many people also experience hair loss, which may be mild and occur while shampooing or brushing your hair—or it may be more severe, coming out in patches and accompanied by a rash on the scalp.
Excessive Styling: Too much shampooing, styling, and dyeing can harm your tresses. Heat and chemicals weaken the hair, causing it to break and fall out. Often, it's a combination of treatments—keratin, coloring, and blow-drying, for instance —that does the damage. If the fallout is occurring from external damage caused by styling, it will simply break, and you won't see those club-shaped telogen bulbs at the ends. Do a pull test to confirm if you are styling your hair too much. Take a small handful of about 50 strands, pulls gently, and check to see whether the hair that comes out has bulbs on the ends.
Women can take several steps to improve their hair. Watch the types of food you eat. It may sound silly but it’s actually true. Due to the unhealthy lifestyles we live – synthetic foods, processed foods, genetically modified foods and toxins in the air, our body is constantly battling with toxins and stress which do not encourage a healthy body for hair growth. Hair grows from inside and hair is a fiber that is part of our cells which grows from the subdivision of our cells in the hair follicles. To solve this problem, we need natural healthy food that the body can easily break down for digestion in order for our hair to grow. The foods we need for good hair growth are fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and wholemeal foods. We also need lots of water for detoxification, the lubrication of food for digestion, to aid in digestion and to reproduce the cells for hair growth.
According to the Huntington College of Health Sciences, you will most likely experience progressive hair loss after the age of 50. Your hair can also become dry, brittle and thin. While certain topical treatments may help combat this, getting an adequate amount of nutrients, such as selenium and zinc, in your diet is essential for hair health. These minerals work with your body to encourage hair growth and help prevent future loss.
Hair is a bodily tissue and as such, it requires certain nutrients to maintain its health and ability to function properly. The Huntington College of Health Sciences states that if you have a selenium deficiency, it may inhibit your hair's ability to grow, resulting in an overall thinning of your tresses. The College goes on to say that a diet with insufficient amounts of zinc may lead to a compromised immune system that can result in hair loss. Both of these minerals are essential for the health and growth of your hair.
Selenium functions as an antioxidant and helps rid your body of the harmful effects that result from exposure to the sun and the environment. It also enhances your immune system, supporting your body's ability to maintain its proper functions, such as hair growth. Zinc is essential to your immune system as well, and it also has antioxidant properties. In addition, it strengthens your hair follicles and may help prevent certain types of hair loss.
Many people—both doctors and patients—have expressed their concern about two niacin studies The New York Times recently spotlighted in a blog post called "Three Things to Know About Niacin and Heart Health." After reading the blog and examining the studies, one is left at first glance with the impression that niacin should be avoided at all costs. But is niacin really the villain the studies and The New York Times make it out to be? Let's take a closer look.
Dissecting the AIM-HIGH Trial
One of the studies mentioned in The New York Times blog post was the Atherothrombosis Intervention in Metabolic Syndrome with Low HDL/High Triglycerides: Impact on Global Health Outcomes trial—called AIM-HIGH for short. Although The New York Times called this a new study, the results were first reported and published in 2011.1
However, AIM-HIGH returned to the spotlight when the authors recently wrote a letter to the editor in The New England Journal of Medicine in which they summarized the results of the study and compared the adverse events to those experienced by subjects in a newer trial that investigated the use of niacin combined with a drug used to eliminate flushing of the skin, a common niacin side effect.2
In the AIM-HIGH trial, researchers randomly divided a total of 3,414 subjects to receive 1,500 to 2,000 mg of extended-release niacin (1,718 subjects) or placebo (1,696 subjects). All patients in the study also received the statin drug simvastatin as well as the cholesterol-lowering drug ezetimibe if needed to keep cholesterol levels at 40 to 80 mg per deciliter (1.03 to 2.07 mmol per liter). The goal of the study was to determine if extended-release niacin would decrease the risk of cardiovascular events in patients who had established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and lipid problems (low levels of HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and small, dense particles of LDL cholesterol).
The study found that niacin in addition to a statin produced no clinical benefit—in other words it did not decrease the risk of cardiovascular events. This result was what earned the study the most attention. However, some researchers have proposed that the AIM-HIGH trial "may have been too small to detect plausible reductions in vascular events."3
After taking niacin for two years, the study subjects did experience some benefits. Niacin raised the median HDL "good" cholesterol level from 35 mg per deciliter (0.91 mmol per liter) to 42 mg per deciliter (1.08 mmol per liter)—a significant change. Furthermore, after taking niacin, the subjects' triglyceride levels fell from 164 mg per deciliter (1.85 mmol per liter) to 122 mg per deciliter (1.38 mmol per liter). Additionally, the LDL cholesterol level also fell from 74 mg per deciliter (1.91 mmol per liter) to 62 mg per deciliter (1.60 mmol per liter).
Another plausible reason why the study showed no difference in cardiovascular risk reduction may be because cholesterol is only one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. We also need to factor in C-reactive protein (CRP), homocysteine, fibrinogen, and the oxidation of LDL. Niacin is primarily used to lower lipids. Unlike statins, it has not been shown to lower C-reactive protein. Nor does it address other factors associated with cardiovascular risk reduction, which is why nutritionally minded doctors advise patients to address those other mechanisms of cardiovascular disease as well as metabolic syndrome, another risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In other words, niacin is part of a bigger picture that includes lifestyle measures and other supplements that can address CRP, LDL oxidation, homocysteine, and fibrinogen.
There were some adverse events in the AIM-HIGH study. These included the well-known side effects of niacin experienced by some people including itching, flushing, diarrhea, rash, thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets), and increased blood glucose levels as well as more rare adverse events including abnormal results on liver-function tests. Niacin also significantly increased the risk of serious infection in 139 subjects in the niacin group and 98 in the placebo group.
There was a low rate of serious hemorrhagic adverse events. The rate wasn't significantly different between the group taking extended-release niacin and the group taking the placebo (3.4 vs. 2.9 percent).
It is of interest to note that myopathy (muscular weakness) occurred more frequently in patients assigned to only the statin drug compared to patients taking both the statin and niacin.
Even though significant between-group differences occurred in the numbers of serious adverse events, overall there wasn't much of a difference between the groups. According to the study, "Overall, 34.2 percent of patients who received extended-release niacin and 32.5 percent of patients who received placebo had serious adverse events during follow-up."
The study authors, in a supplement appendix to their letter to the editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, urged that the adverse event data be interpreted with caution. They pointed out that the formulation of niacin used in the AIM-HIGH trial has been used clinically since 1997. Niacin also has been used to treat imbalanced lipid levels since the 1950s. The study authors wrote, "Thus, information concerning the utility and safety profile of this agent has been acquired during almost 60 years of clinical use. Numerous trials and review articles have reported on the adverse effects related to niacin in both the immediate-release and extended-release formulations, including that used in AIM-HIGH. Thus, adverse events, as determined by this trial of 3,414 subjects, but not previously described with niacin, should be considered in the context of the long prior clinical and trial experience."
The second study mentioned in The New York Times blog is the Heart Protection Study 2: Treatment of HDL to Reduce the Incidence of Vascular Events (HPS2-THRIVE). In this study, researchers randomly divided 25,673 subjects with vascular disease or diabetes into two groups. One group received 2 grams daily of extended-release niacin and 40 mg of laropiprant, a drug that antagonizes the prostaglandin D2 receptor DP1 and which has been shown to reduce niacin flushing. The other group received a placebo. The patients also were given the statin drug simvastatin and, when needed, the drug ezetimibe.3
The results of this study were similar to the AIM-HIGH trial. Niacin did not reduce the risk of major vascular events (coronary events or stroke). Niacin did produce a "nominally significant 10 percent proportional reduction in arterial revascularization procedures."
Compared to subjects in the placebo group, the subjects who took the niacin–laropiprant combination had significantly more fatal or nonfatal serious adverse events (7,137 vs. 6,762). The most common adverse effect was disturbances in glucose metabolism. When the researchers analyzed the 8,299 diabetic subjects, compared to placebo, niacin–laropiprant was linked to "a 55 percent proportional increase in disturbances in diabetes control that were considered to be serious, most of which led to hospitalization."3
In the 17,374 non-diabetic participants, niacin–laropiprant resulted in a "32 percent proportional increase in diagnosis of diabetes" compared with placebo.
Similar to the AIM-HIGH trial, there were increased infections in subjects given extended-release niacin and laropiprant. There was also an increase in bleeding in many of the subjects taking niacin-laropiprant.
The primary thing to keep in mind about the HPS2-THRIVE study is that it really isn't about niacin. The study is about a niacin-laropiprant combination. The investigators did not compare the effects of niacin-laropiprant to the effects of niacin alone. Laropiprant is a selective prostaglandin-2 receptor inhibitor that was rejected in 2008 by the FDA for marketing because of its side effect profile. Laropiprant is metabolized in the liver, which begs the question of how much of an overall physiological burden it is placing on the body.
This trial also studied more than 25,000 participants. In a study with 25,000-plus people, it is possible to find statistically significant differences that are practically meaningless.
Niacin's effects on blood glucose are nothing new. It is widely known that it can have this effect. However, other researchers have noted that niacin's beneficial effects on lipids may outweigh this side effect.
Writing in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, one group of reviewers noted, "On the basis of our analysis, the effects of niacin (< or =2.5 grams/day), alone or in combination with statins, on fasting glucose (an increase of 4 percent-5 percent) and hemoglobin A1c levels (an increase of < or =0.3 percent) are modest, transient, or reversible, and typically amenable to adjustments in oral hypoglycemic regimens without discontinuing niacin. Niacin therapy was infrequently associated with incident diabetes or the need for new insulin prescriptions. Studies showed important clinical benefits of niacin or niacin-statin regimens despite modest effects on glucose control. On a population basis, significant reductions in incidences of cardiovascular events and the degree of atherosclerotic progression associated with long-term niacin (or niacin-statin) therapy in patients with diabetic dyslipidemia outweigh the typically mild effects of this therapy on glycemic regulation. Consensus guidelines recommend monitoring glycemic control after initiating niacin treatment or increasing its dosage."4
Additional Considerations to Keep in Mind
The AIM-HIGH and HPS2-THRIVE studies failed to examine other medications the subjects were taking, dietary and drug-drug interactions, the effects of hormone therapy, and other considerations that should be factored into such studies in order to obtain the most accurate results. The studies also did not factor in the particle size of HDL or LDL.
People who have small particle size LDL are at a substantially higher risk than an individual with the same quantity of LDL of large particle size.
Additionally, the amount of niacin used in these two studies was very high. With the exception of people who have genetic abnormalities in the way they process lipids, most patients don't need to use such high levels of niacin when they are also incorporating and adopting a full wellness program
The bottom line: In the hands of a skilled functional medicine provider, niacin is a solid tool, when combined with good nutrition, exercise, and other dietary and supplemental considerations.
The Lion's Mane Mushroom has been nicknamed the "Gift of God" and for pretty good reasons. This is the brain mushroom. The secret to this amazing medicinal mushroom is it's ability to improve nerve growth factor in the brain.
Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) belongs to a family of proteins that play a part in maintenance, survival and regeneration of neurons during adult life. As we age, NGF declines, resulting in less efficient brain functioning. In mice, its absence leads to a condition resembling Alzheimer's disease.
Nerve Growth Factor has been shown to play a role in a number of diseases, such as coronary atherosclerosis, obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. NGF could also be related to various psychiatric disorders, such as dementia, depression, schizophrenia, autism, Rett syndrome, anorexia and buliminia. NGF has been shown to accelerate wound healing, and there is evidence it could be useful for treating skin and corneal ulcers.
A breakthrough occurred when Hirokazu Kawagishi, PhD, discovered a class of compounds in Lion's Mane that stimulate production of NGF, causing neurons to regrow. These compounds called hericenones, are the first active substances found in natural products to induce NGF synthesis. Hericenones were isolated from the fruiting body of Lion's Mane and introduced into a culture containing astroglial cells obtained from rats. After 24 hours, an assay revealed that NGF was secreted into the culture medium.
Hericenones and other substances in Lion's Mane are believed to have great potential for repairing neurological damage, improving intelligence and reflexes, and, even more significant, preventing and treating Alzheimer's disease.
For more information and further discussion about Lion's Mane mushroom order The Power of the Lion's Mane Mushroom: Regenerate Your Brain with Lion's Mane by Ward W. Bond, PhD and Ken Babal, CN. Call 800-620-9975 for your FREE copy ($4.95 S&H).