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Back pain & the signs of bone thinning

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In this article

    • Are your bones thinning? The risk factors
    • Get geeky: how bones are formed – and what can go wrong even when you do everything right
    • Can you stop bone thinning?

Back pain is extremely common and often overlooked.

Many of us resign ourselves to it as an inescapable part of aging, like wrinkles and saggy skin, but it could also be a sign of something more serious. Back pain is a common symptom of:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Slipped disc
  • Arthritis
  • Spinal fracture
  • Infection of the spine

Thinning bones often have no symptoms at all! So if you do have back pain, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Usually sufferers only realise it after a fall – the once-strong bone fractures or breaks, and by then, they’re in way more pain and way further behind in strengthening their bones.

It’s a process that takes months or even years, but the good news is bones take just as long to deteriorate, so starting now will most probably stop it from getting worse. Starting early on bone health is like insurance; in the event of a fall or hitting something really hard, our bones would still be able to hold up, or at least, we might get away with a minor fracture instead of a completely broken bone.

Are your bones thinning? The risk factors

We lose bone and build it up again every day, but sometimes we lose more than we replace and that causes bone thinning. Back pain, a hunched back and height loss are signs that you’re losing more bone than you’re building up. Early stage bone thinning is called osteo-penia and if left untreated, the bone loss may become excessive, resulting in osteoporosis.

Risk factors

  • Not enough estrogen, which helps to preserve calcium (after menopause, women lose an average of 10% of their bone density!)
  • Not enough testosterone (for men only. By about 50 years of age, men and women lose bone at roughly the same rate)
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Not getting enough sunlight, the main source of vitamin D

Dietary risk factors:

  • Malnutrition — Not enough calcium and/or phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, bo-ron, iron, fluoride, copper and vitamins A, K, E and C
  • Eating too much meat – which can cause calcium to be leeched from the bones and passed out in urine

Despite the risk factors, the only thing that can tell you if you have thinning bones for sure is your T-score – which you can get after a bone mineral density test. The higher your score, the higher the amount of minerals (aka calcium) in your bones, thus the stronger and denser they are.

If your T-Score is -1 or lower, it is a sign of osteopenia, or mildly thin bones that are heading towards osteoporosis. Osteopenia can be stopped, and doesn’t always escalate into osteoporosis.

Get geeky: how bones are formed – and what can go wrong even when you do everything right

Imagine this: You drink milk, love cheese, get take plenty of calcium and don’t eat too much red meat. You get out, exercise three times a week and have fun – good clean fun, no ciga-rettes or alcohol. But when you go for your health check, your T-score isn’t so great, and your heart may be in trouble. Why? The answer may be in how our bones are made.
Bone relies on calcium and other trace vitamins and minerals. Bone building is largely a two-step process:

  1. Changing calcium from the food we eat into calcium specifically for bone building (also known as osteocalcin)
  2. Binding the osteocalcin to the existing bones

Vitamin D, which comes from sunlight, is the key to the first part. That’s why not getting enough sun is a risk factor for poor bone health. Without it, the calcium we eat doesn’t turn into calcium for our bones.

The lesser known Vitamin K2 is essential for the second; it guides the osteocalcin right to the bones. Without enough K2, it may end up in places where it doesn’t belong. One of the very worst places it can end up in is the arteries, where it can cause stiffening and impede blood flow to the heart, leading to heart disease.

Therefore, simply upping your calcium intake may cause more harm instead of good. It is cru-cial to consume enough vitamin D and K2. Sunlight is free and easily available, but vitamin K2 is another story.

It’s produced in tiny quantities by our bodies, in places like the saliva glands, pancreas, brain and sternum. Aside from being in short supply, it is quickly depleted – people can become K2 deficient in as short as seven days, but there are no outward signs. It’s up to us to remember to replenish our stores – whether through supplements or the food we eat.

Can you stop bone thinning?

Yes. It can even be reversed! With the right nutrition, exercise and lifestyle, your T-score can be maintained, or actually go up – it’s not just a one-way road!

  • Eat calcium-rich foods: Cheese, milk, yogurt, sardines, dark leafy green vegetables or soybeans. Calcium-fortified juices, cereals or bread are also useful
  • Eat foods rich in vitamin K2: natto (Japanese fermented soy beans)
  • Get plenty of sunlight for vitamin D
  • Do weight-bearing exercises: dancing, aerobics, hiking, walking, running, tennis, stair climbing, weightlifting
osteoblast

You may also be interested in these supplements:

Is there such a thing as a brain attack?

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    • Are brain attacks like heart attacks?
    • Warning signs of stroke
    • How serious are strokes? The consequences
    • Who’s likely to get a stroke? The risk factors
    • What can you do about it? Prevention & On-the- spot help
    • The anti-stroke diet

Is there such a thing as a brain attack?

We’ve all heard of heart attacks, but that’s not the only bodily attack out there. There are brain attacks too, and they’re often called strokes. And they’re just as serious.

Are brain attacks like heart attacks?

A brain attack, or stroke, is pretty similar to a heart attack. A heart attack means there’s a problem with the blood flow to your heart, and a brain attack (aka a stroke; let’s call it a stroke from now on) means there’s a problem with the blood flow to your brain. It either stops flowing or is leaking in the wrong places.

Yes, that means there is more than one type of stroke out there. The first one, an ischemic stroke, means the blood flow is stopped or obstructed, usually by a blot clot that has trouble moving along its path or because an artery has become too narrow for blood to flow through properly. This is the most common type of stroke – 9 strokes out of 10 are this one.

The other one is a haemorrhagic stroke, where a blood vessel bursts and causes brain bleeding. It is very difficult to stop and chances of death are higher.

Warning signs of stroke

  • Drooping muscles on one side of the face
  • Trouble seeing with one eye
  • Numbness in an arm or leg
  • Suddenly feeling weak
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Severe headaches
  • Sudden dizziness or problems with walking or balance
  • Feeling confused, difficulty speaking or understanding others.

The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and vice versa. A sudden change on just one side of the body is a red flag for a stroke.

How serious are strokes? The consequences

In the best cases, the stroke is temporary – blood flow returns to normal, the symptoms go away, no permanent damage is done. This is a “warning stroke,” or a TIA (transient ischemic attack). Many people who have these attacks don’t realise it, but it shouldn’t be ignored because it’s a sign that a bigger stroke may come soon. TIAs last about a minute on average, and a true stroke may happen in a matter of weeks or months. If you think you’ve had one, don’t ignore it! Get help immediately.

Yet another consequence is long-term disability. When blood isn’t flowing properly to the brain, the brain is not getting enough oxygen and the cells will start to die. The brain in particular, is in charge of all sorts of functions in the body, so damage to it means those functions are also damaged. These include balance, control of your body parts, swallowing and understanding people and things around you. The damage caused by a stroke can leave you unable to stand, move, eat or communicate.

In the worst cases, particularly in the case of haemorrhagic strokes, an attack may lead to death.

Who’s likely to get a stroke? The risk factors

Uncontrollable factors:

  • Family history
  • Getting older
  • Gender (More men get strokes than women. But more women die of strokes)
  • Having a stroke before (both true strokes and TIAs)

Chronic conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Lifestyle & behaviours:

  • Smoking
  • Getting too little exercise
  • Heavy drinking
  • Poor diet (too much fat, salt or calories)

The Stroke Test: Smile, Wave, Talk

The F.A.S.T. test helps spot symptoms of stroke. It stands for:

  • Face. Ask for a smile. Does one side droop?
  • Arms. Ask the person to wave with both hands. When raised, does one side drift down?
  • Speech. Give a simple sentence and ask the person to repeat it. Does he or she have trouble or slur words?
  • Time is critical. Call for an ambulance immediately if any symptoms are present

What can you do about it? Prevention & On-the- spot help

Prevention: chronic conditions
Doctors usually prescribe medicines like blood thinners (e.g. aspirin), anti-clotting drugs (e.g. warfarin) or cholesterol-lowering drugs (e.g. statins) to help ward off stroke in some patients. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor will prescribe medication to lower it.

Prevention: Lifestyle & behaviour changes

  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise and maintain a healthy weight
  • Take less alcohol and salt
  • Eat a healthier diet with more veggies, fish, and whole grains

The anti-stroke diet

Take more omega-3 fatty acids
Common sources:

  • Fish oil
  • Krill oil
  • Chia seed oil
  • Flaxseed oil

Fish oil from salmon or other oily fish is the most commonly known marine source of omega-3, while chia seed oil is the preferred plant source.

Fish oil is losing favour because of the presence of toxic heavy metals or carcinogens often found in such fish. Although fish oil is purified, it’s never 100% free of the heavy metals that accumulate over time. Furthermore, the oil is distilled at high temperatures, which oxidise it and reduce its effectiveness. As a plant source, chia seed oil is safe for all age groups (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) and has a mild, pleasant taste.

Take more Vitamin E
Common sources:

  • Common vegetable oils (e.g. soy, canola, wheatgerm, sunflower)
  • Cereal grains
  • Palm oil
  • Vitamin E is known to be an antioxidant. It helps to lower bad (aka LDL) cholesterol and protect against brain cell damage.

Take more Vitamin K2
Common sources:

  • Natto (Japanese fermented soybeans)

Vitamin K2 helps to prevent arteries from thickening and obstructing blood flow. Thickening occurs because calcium gradually builds up in the arteries instead of the bones. Vitamin K2 helps to direct calcium away from unneeded areas to the bones where they belong, strengthening them.

Take more magnesium

Common sources:

  • Seaweed
  • Dark leafy green vegetables
  • Green beans
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Pumpkin
  • Sesame seeds

Magnesium is a natural counterpart to calcium, it relaxes the muscles while calcium contracts them. It helps to widen blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and reducing the chances of a stroke.

Take more coenzyme Q10
Common sources:

  • Offal (liver, kidney, heart)
  • Beef
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

Coenzyme Q10 is not just good for your skin, it also widens the blood vessels, which helps to reduce blood pressure and thus, the odds of a stroke. It is found in every cell of the body and is used to produce energy for cell growth and maintenance.

osteoporosis

Fight Osteoporosis, build strong bone

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When it comes to bone health, many are often concerned with the strength of their bones, and the possible onset of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a medical condition where bones become brittle and fragile from the loss of tissue. This is triggered when the creation of new bones fail to replace old bones.

After the age of twenty, bone rebuilding slows down, making osteoporosis more common amongst older people. This can be seen in the frequency of old people fracturing or even breaking a bone after a fall that would normally not injure a younger person.

In the case of older women, osteoporosis is often caused by estrogen deficiency, particularly in the case of postmenopausal women. Estrogen is key in bone health as it controls the activities of bone-forming osteoblasts and bone-resorbing osteoclasts.

In the case of older men, low testosterones level can also lead to osteoporosis, as testosterones are converted to bone-preserving estrogen.

Patients with osteoporosis are susceptible to broken bones from simple movements such as picking up a heavier object, or sometimes even from a rough sneeze. Osteoporosis is more common in women post-menopause of Caucasian or Asian descent. Women and men with smaller frames are also more susceptible to getting osteoporosis at an older age

How to prevent osteoporosis:
  • Consuming food rich in calcium and vitamin D: Both help promote healthy bones, and many people often get less than half of the calcium they need.
  • Consuming more vegetables: vegetables contain both calcium and Vitamin K, which is shown to increase bone density.
  • Reduce salt intake: Salt speeds up calcium loss which leads to a loss of bone mass.
  • Exercising: Exercising strengthens the bones, allowing them to handle greater stress.
  • Soaking up the sun: Vitamin D is essential in preventing osteoporosis in older people.
  • No smoking or drinking: An unhealthy lifestyle often leads to poor dietary habits and an overall unhealthy body.
  • Picking up healthy bone habits from a younger age is key in preventing osteoporosis in the future.

References
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19751412
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/09/prevent-bone-loss_n_4533273.html

diabetic

Herbs for Blood Sugar Support

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Diabetic Mellitus is a chronic disease where the body does not make or use insulin* properly, resulting in having too much glucose in the blood. The World Health Organization recognizes 3 main forms of Diabetic mellitus: type 1, type 2, and gestational Diabetic (occurring during pregnancy), which have different causes and population distributions. While all forms are due to the beta cells of the pancreas being unable to produce sufficient insulin to prevent hyperglycemia, the causes are different.

[*Insulin is a hormone that helps the body to control the level of glucose in the blood]

 

Types of Diabetic Mellitus
Type 1: Insulin-Dependent Diabetic

Persons with Type 1 Diabetic cannot control their blood sugar properly because their pancreas produces little or no insulin. Type 1 Diabetic is usually due to autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells. The body’s own immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being used for energy. Persons with Type 1 Diabetic need insulin injections to control their blood sugars. Although it usually happens to young people before the age of 30 (most often during childhood or their teens), it can also occur in older adults but less commonly. The cause of Type 1 Diabetic remains unknown. It is not preventable and it is not caused by eating too much sugar.

Type 2: Non-insulin Dependent Diabetic

About 80% of all persons with Diabetic belong to this group. They can produce insulin, but their body does not use it effectively. Type 2 Diabetic mellitus is due to insulin resistance or reduced insulin sensitivity, combined with reduced insulin secretion. The defective responsiveness of body tissues to insulin involves the insulin receptor in cell membranes. In the early stage the predominant abnormality is reduced insulin sensitivity, characterized by elevated levels of insulin in the blood. At this stage hyperglycemia can be reversed by a variety of measures and medications that improve insulin sensitivity. As the disease progresses the impairment of insulin secretion worsens, and therapeutic replacement of insulin often becomes necessary.

There are numerous theories as to the exact cause and mechanism in type 2 Diabetic. Central obesity (fat concentrated around the waist in relation to abdominal organs, but not subcutaneous fat) is known to predispose individuals for insulin resistance. Abdominal fat is especially active hormonally, secreting a group of hormones called adipokines that may possibly impair glucose tolerance. Obesity is found in approximately 55% of patients diagnosed with type 2 Diabetic.

Type 2 Diabetic is usually first treated by increasing physical activity, decreasing carbohydrate intake, and losing weight. These can restore insulin sensitivity even when the weight loss is modest, for example around 5 kg, most especially when it is in abdominal fat deposits. It is sometimes possible to achieve long-term, satisfactory glucose control with these measures alone. However, the underlying tendency to insulin resistance is not lost, and so attention to diet, exercise, and weight loss must continue.

Gestational Diabetic

Gestational Diabetic mellitus (GDM) resembles type 2 Diabetic in several respects, involving a combination of inadequate insulin secretion and responsiveness. It occurs in about 2%–5% of all pregnancies and may disappear after delivery. Gestational Diabetic is fully treatable but requires careful medical supervision throughout the pregnancy. About 20%–50% of affected women develop type 2 Diabetic later in life. Untreated gestational Diabetic can damage the health of the fetus or mother. Risks to the baby include macrosomia (high birth weight), congenital cardiac and central nervous system anomalies, and skeletal muscle malformations.

Pre-Diabetic

Pre-Diabetic is a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 Diabetic.

Who gets Diabetic?
About 9% of the adult population in Singapore have Diabetic. Diabetic can affect people of any age or race. However, 90% of people with Diabetic are over 40 years old.

Some risks of Diabetic mellitus include:

  • Family history
  • Overweight
  • More than 40 years of age
  • Pregnancy
  • Exposure to a trigger mechanism (a virus or chemical substance)

References:
World Health Organisation Department of Noncommunicable Disease Surveillance (1999). Definition, Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetic Mellitus and its Complications

Diabetic Society of Singapore

Herbs for Blood Sugar Support
Trigonella Foenum-Grae-cum Extract (Fenugreek)

Fenugreek has a long history in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for numerous indications, including labor induction, aiding digestion and as a general tonic to improve metabolism and health. Preliminary animal and human trials suggest that fenugreek seed powder may support blood sugar as well as blood lipids within normal levels.

Fenugreek has been mentioned in early literature as a blood sugar stabilizing agent and such effects have been evaluated.1It is used as an adjunct in maintaining normal blood sugar levels, and is also supportive in maintaining blood lipids within normal levels.2

References:

Sulman, F.G. and E.Menczel: Harokeach Haire 9:6 (1962). Chem. Abstr. 57:11308 e(1962)

Selected Medicinal Plants of India, CHEMEXCIL, Mumbai (1992)

Gymnema Sylvestre Extract (Gurmar)

Gymnema sylvestre is a plant native to the tropical forests of India, and has long been used for blood sugar support. There is some evidence that suggests that gymnema’s positive effects on blood sugar are a result of its regenerative and/or revitalizing effect on the beta cells of the pancreas.

Research suggests that the topical and selective anesthetic effect of the plant might result from the competition between these active glycosides and sweet substances for the receptor sites.1In a study of 22 patients who were given 400mg gymnema extract daily along with their usual medications, all patients demonstrated healthier blood sugar levels. Of 22 patients, 21 reported considerable improvement. 2 It was postulated that gymnema may enhance the production of insulin. 3

Gymnema also supports the heart and circulatory system, as well as the uterus and urinary tract. 4 It is interesting to note that gymnema extract is without side effects and supports blood sugar in a balanced way. When given to healthy volunteers, gymnema demonstrated adaptogenic effects.

References:

Nature, 1969, 223, 94

Baskaran K, Kizar Ahamath B, Radha Shanmuga-sundaram K, Shanmugasundaram ER. AntiDiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema Sylvestre in non-insulin-dependent Diabetic mellitus. J Ethnopharmacol 1990;30:295-300.

Shanmugasundaram ER, Rajeswari G, Baskaran K, et al. Use of Gymnema sylvestre leaf extract in the control of blood glucose in insulin-dependent Diabetic mellitus. J Ethnopharmacol 1990;30:281-294.

The Healing Power of Herbs pages – 358 & 359.

Guggul Extract

Guggul has undergone investigation for its ability to support healthy blood lipid levels, which has been recognized since the vedic ages. Oral administration of guggul supports healthy cholesterol levels, which has been demonstrated in animal studies. 1,2It may also be helpful for weight loss.3

References:

Tripathi, S.N. et al: J.Res.Ind. Med. Res. 57:900 (1969)

Das, D. et al: Ind.J.Pharmacol 5:223 (1973)

Selected Medicinal Plants of India, CHEMIXCIL, Mumbai (1992)

Green Tea Extract

Green tea extract contains polyphenols and an essential oil. 1 The polyphenols strengthen the walls of blood vessels, which are responsible for regulating blood vessel permeability. Green tea’s ability to support healthy blood sugar levels has also been confirmed in animal studies. The fact that aged rats responded so dramatically to these polyphenols implies that they potentially can inhibit age-related changes in blood sugar levels, which may contribute to several degenerative conditions. Tea polyphenols support healthy blood sugar levels by inhibiting the activity of both salivary and intestinal amylase (the enzyme that breaks down starch), which causes starch to be broken down more slowly, minimizing spikes in blood sugar. In addition, according to a recent study, tea may also reduce the intestinal absorption of glucose.

A relatively little known compound found in onions and in tea, especially green tea, called diphenylamine, appears to support healthy blood sugar levels. In addition, the blood sugar supporting effects of tea offers significant anti-aging benefits through calorie restriction, reduced glycation, and lower insulin secretion. Consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal with tea will slow down the release of glucose and reduce its absorption (it also reduces the absorption of iron, another anti-aging benefit). By preventing the harmful spike in insulin, tea offers other benefits that go with calorie restriction and insulin support.1

References:

Deng ZY, Tao BY, et al. Effect of green tea and black tea on blood glucose, triglycerides and antioxidants in aged rats. J Agricult Food Chem 1998;46:3875-78.

Azadirachta Indica Extract (Neem)

Neem contains bitters as well as quercetin and b-sitosterol glucoside. 1 Aqueous extract of neem leaves has been shown to support healthy blood sugar levels.2 Neem was also shown to support blood pressure within normal levels.3 Neem has been commonly used to maintain a healthy microbial environment in the digestive tract.

References:

Shibata el al : Ind. J. Phram., 17:230 (1955)

Iketa T.: Nippon Kosholnin Kagakkushu 8(1):67(1984)

Selected Medicinal Plants of India, CHEMEXCIL, NewDelhi (1992)

Eugenia Jambolana Extract (Jambu)

Jambolana or Jambolan, is a species of cloves used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is used to support blood sugar within normal levels and the health of the pancreas. Jambolan is preferred for blood sugar support because it is without side effects.

Momordica Charantia Extract (Bitter Melon)

Momordica charantia has been referred to as both a vegetable and a fruit, and is widely cultivated in Asia, Africa and South America. It has been used extensively in folk medicine as a remedy for blood sugar conditions. The blood sugar supporting action of the fresh juice or unripe fruit has been established in experimental animal models, as well as human clinical trials. 1

Bitter melon contains several compounds with confirmed blood sugar supporting properties. Bitter melon also contains an insulin-like polypeptide called polypeptide-P, which is similar in structure to bovine insulin.

Bitter melon’s mechanism for supporting healthy blood sugar levels is unknown, but in animal studies it has been proposed that it has a direct action similar to insulin. 2

The recommended dose of bitter melon depends on the form being consumed. Dosage for tincture ranges from 5ml 2 to 3 times daily to as high as 50ml per day. 3 However, bitter melon juice is very difficult to make palatable since, as the name implies, it is quite bitter. To avoid the bitter taste, the Indians and Chinese crush the herb and form tablets. In Central America, it is prepared as an extract or decoction. Dosages of capsulized dried powder range from 3-15g daily. However, to avoid the necessity of taking so many capsules, a standardized extract may be used at dosages of 100-200mg three times daily.

References:

Welihinda J, Karunanayake EH, Sheriff MH, Jayasinghe KS. Effect of Momordica charantia on the glucose tolerance in maturity onset Diabetic. J Ethnopharmacol 1986;17:277-282.

Akhtar MS, Athar MA, Yaqub M. Effect of Momordica charantia on blood glucose level of normal and alloxan-Diabetic rabbits. Planta Med 1981;42:205-212.

Mozersky RP. Herbal products and supplemental nutrients used in the management of Diabetic. J Am Osteopath Assoc 1999;99:S4-S9.

Lipoic Acid

Lipoic acid is a vitamin-like substance produced in small amounts by the body, and is important to almost all cells. Lipoic acid is found in just a few food sources, such as brewer’s yeast, liver and spinach. Lipoic acid assists the body’s energy production and acts as a powerful antioxidant, making it especially supportive for people with blood sugar conditions.

Chromium polynicotinate

Since as early as 1854, a substance was identified that improved healthy blood sugar levels. It was a complex of chromium and several amino acids that is now known as Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF). GTF chromium does not act like insulin, but rather, appears to enhance insulin sensitivity. It has been noted that tissue concentrations of chromium in the U.S. decline with age. Nearly 20 controlled studies have demonstrated the positive effect of chromium for the management of blood sugar. In clinical studies, supplementing the diet with chromium has been shown to decrease fasting glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels and support healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. 1

References:

Reversing Diabetic pages 89 & 90, The Pill Guide Book to Natural Medicines – pages 128 & 129

Vanadyl Sulfate

Prior to the discovery of insulin in 1922, the trace mineral vanadium was used because of its ability to mimic the activity of insulin. 2 small studies have confirmed the effectiveness of vanadyl sulfate at a dose of 100mg/day in improving insulin sensitivity. 1, 2

Vanadyl sulfate is a biologically active form of vanadium. Because of its insulin-like properties, vanadyl is being used to manage blood sugar. Studies show that vanadyl is very effective in normalizing blood sugar levels and controlling related conditions. 3

References:

Cohen N, Halberstam M, Shlimovich P, et al. Oral vanadyl sulfate improves hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity in patients with non-insulin-dependent Diabetic mellitus. J Clin Invest 1995;95:2501-2509.

Halberstam M, Cohen N, Shlimovich P, et al. Oral vanadyl sulfate improves insulin sensitivity in NI-DDM but not in obese nonDiabetic subjects. Diabetic 1996;45:659-666.

Earl Mindell’s Supplement Bible page 157

Bilberry Extract

Bilberry is widely used for conditions related to or resulting from blood sugar imbalances. Bilberry also improves night vision, supports capillary strength, supports healthy blood flow, and has antioxidant activity. Research done mostly in Italy has also uncovered bilberry’s potential for supporting the retina and other eye conditions associated with poor blood circulation. 1

References:

Journal of Longevity – Volume 5/No. 8, page 40, New Encyclopedia Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements & Herbs – page 386

Tumeric (Curcumin 95%)

Curcuminoids, found in high concentrations in tumeric extract, have been primarily recognized for their “super” antioxidant properties. Curcuminoids are capable of both the prevention of free radical formation and intervention to neutralize existing free radicals.

Curcuminoids are natural plant compounds that guard the cells, tissues and organs of the body from numerous “inside” and “outside” detrimental influences. Unlike other antioxidants, which have more of a “policing effect” on such errant molecules, the turmeric cucuminoids merge with potential free radicals before they form.

Cayenne Pepper Extract

Cayenne contains capsaicin, the compound that produces the “hot” in hot peppers. Cayenne is known to increase the metabolic rate, which is one reason why people get so hot and sweaty after eating spicy foods. 1 One of the additional benefits of cayenne is its function as a digestive aid. Cayenne increases the secretion of acids in the stomach, which increases the absorption and effectiveness of other herbs consumed with it. In a double-blind trial, reductions in appetite were found in healthy Japanese women and Caucasian men when they consumed cayenne pepper along with meals. 2 A similar trial showed that cayenne raised metabolic rate in Japanese women. 3 These trials suggest that cayenne may be beneficial for weight loss.

References:

Henry, C. J. K., (1986). Effect of spiced food on metabolic rate. Human Nutrition: Clinical Nutrition, 40, 165-168

Yoshioka, M., St-Pierre, S., & Drapeau, V. (1999). Effects of red pepper on appetite and energy intake. British Journal of Nutrition, 82, 115-123

Yoshioka, M., St-Pierre, S., Suzuki, M., & Tremblay A. (1998). Effects of red pepper added to high-fat and high-carbohydrate meals on energy metabolism and substrate utilization in Japanese women. British Journal of Nutrition, 80, 503-510.

Piper Nigrum & Vinca Rosea (Banaba Leaf Extract)
Banaba is a botanical extract that come from the leaves of the banaba tree. In Southeast Asia and the Philippines, the leaves are traditionally used as an herbal remedy to support healthy blood sugar levels. Banaba balances blood sugar, regulates insulin levels and supports healthy weight loss. 1

Corosolic acid, a triterpenoid found in the leaves, helps balance blood sugar by stimulating glucose uptake. This effect is similar to that of insulin, which induces glucose transport from the blood into body cells. 2, 3 Animal studies have shown it to be supportive for managing both blood sugar conditions and obesity. 3-5

Researchers have found that banaba contains at least 3 other active ingredients including lagerstroemin, flosin B and reginin A. These natural phytochemicals regulate glucose uptake, and may play a role in banaba’s ability to support healthy blood sugar levels. 6,7

The blood sugar regulating properties of banaba have been demonstrated in cell culture and animal and human studies. In an animal study, banaba normalizes blood sugar, and also had a normalizing effect on blood pressure. 3-5, 7 In a human study, banaba extract showed significant blood sugar stabilizing effects. 8

References:

American Diabetic Association, http://www.Diabetic.org/Diabetic-statistics/national-Diabetic-fact-sheet.jsp (29 July 2004)

Hattori K, Sukenobu N, Sasaki T, Takasuga S, Hayashi T, Kasai R, Yamasaki K, Hazeki O. Activation of insulin receptors by lagerstroemin. J Pharmacol Sci. 2003 Sep;93(1):69-73.

Suzuki Y, Unno T, Ushintani M, Hayashi K, Kakuda T. “Antiobesity activity of extracts from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. leaves on female KK-Ay mice.” J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 1999 Dec;45(6):791-5.

Liu F, Kim J, Li Y, Liu X, Li J, Chen X. An extract of Lagerstroemia speciosa L. has insulin-like glucose uptake-stimulatory and adipocyte differentiation-inhibitory activities in 3T3-L1 cells. J Nutr. 2001 Sep;131(9):2242-7.

Hayashi T, Maruyama H, Kasai R, Hattori K, Takasuga S, Hazeki O, Yamasaki K, Tanaka T. Ellagitannins from Lagerstroemia speciosa as activators of glucose transport in fat cells. Planta Med. 2002Feb;68(2):173

Hosoyama H, Sugimoto A, Suzuki Y, Sakane I, Kakuda T. [Isolation and quantitative analysis of the alpha-amylase inhibitor in Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers. (Banaba)]Yakugaku Zasshi. 2003Jul;123(7):599-605. [Article in Japanese]

Kakuda T, Sakane I, Takihara T, Ozaki Y, Takeuchi H, Kuroyanagi M. Hypoglycemia effect of extracts from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. leaves in genetically Diabetic LL-AY mice. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem.1996Feb;60(2):204-8

Judy WV, Hari SP, Stogsdill WW, Judy JS, Naguib YM, Passwater R. AntiDiabetic activity of a standardized extract (Glucosol) from Lagerstroemia speciosa leaves in Type II Diabetics. A dose-dependence study. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003Jul;87(1):115-7

Cinnamon Extract

Cinnamon has been in the news lately because it is proving to be effective in supporting healthy blood sugar and cholesterol within normal levels. Dr. Richard Anderson and his research team at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been studying the effects of cinnamon on improving insulin, blood sugar and blood lipid metabolism for the past 20 years. In 2004, they identified cinnamon’s bioactive compound polyphenol type-A polymer. 1 Before that, Anderson worked with a team of researchers in Pakistan to test cinnamon extract’s ability to lower glucose and lipid levels in 60 patients. One group received a placebo, while the other received cinnamon in daily amounts of 1, 3, or 6 grams. The treatment lasted 40 days. 2 The results were dramatic. All three cinnamon doses had a h5 impact on blood sugar levels, reducing them by 18-29% following 40 days of treatment. Positive effects on blood lipid levels were also observed. By contrast, the placebo group had no significant effect on either measure. The highest dose (6g/day) produced the most rapid response, while the lowest dose (1g/day) produced the most sustained response, i.e., a continued reduction in glucose levels even at the 60-day mark; the reduction observed was 16%. The two higher doses produced slightly lower sustained response, which were not statistically significant. Researchers also noted blood sugar problems returned when subjects stopped taking cinnamon.

References:

Anderson R et al. Isolation and characterization of polyphenol type-A polymers from cinnamon with insulin-like biological activity. J Agric Food Chem 2004, 52:65-70.

Khan A, Safdar M, Khan MMA, Khattak KN, Anderson RA. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 Diabetic. Diabetic Care 2003 Dec;26(12):3215-8. http://care.Diabeticjournals.org

vitamind3

Vitamin D and its critical role in overall health

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Vitamin D

Its Critical Role in Overall Health

It was only 40 years ago when scientists reasoned that vitamin D was necessary for bone health with no other aspects of proper physiologic function. It was correctly assumed that a lack of vitamin D led to the bone condition osteomalacia, or “softening” of the bones in adults and presented as rickets (bowing of the legs) in children. Like much of the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) of the day, amounts of vitamins were based on prevention of outward disease conditions, rather than on optimal health. The RDA in 1963 for vitamin D was 400 IU for children and half of that for adults–amounts shown to be just enough for prevention of osteomalacia and rickets. Only in the last several years has our understanding of the importance of vitamin D in other areas of health come to light.

Vitamin D is made in our bodies after skin is exposed to sunlight. However, the latest medical dogma that sun exposure will cause skin cancer has caused many people to slather on the sunscreen when outdoors prior to receiving any sun exposure. This fact, along with busy work schedules that prevent us from emerging outdoors in the middle of the day, has created a widespread vitamin D deficiency linked to various forms of cancer, high blood pressure, poor blood sugar control and impaired immunity. Furthermore, as we age, we are less equipped to produce sufficient quantities of this vital nutrient. One study found that age-related declines in kidney function may require older people to ingest more Vitamin D3 to maintain the same blood levels as younger people.

Important Facts

Vitamin D has 2 main supplemental forms: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Ergocalciferol can be obtained from plant sources while cholecalciferol is the form primarily synthesized in the skin by absorbing light energy from UVB rays. Vitamin D3 is considered to be the more bioavailable form of the vitamin and is the preferred form when supplementing. Both vitamin D2 and D3 may be considered pro-hormones and do not have any intrinsic biological activity – they must undergo further metabolism in the liver and kidney before becoming the final active form 1,25 dihydroxycholecalciferol. The true name of vitamin D is calciferol.

Under normal circumstances, vitamin D is manufactured in the body and is not required in the diet (given adequate sun exposure at the correct intensity); its mechanism of action and structure closely resemble that of a steroid hormone. Vitamin D is best known for regulating calcium and phosphorus concentrations in the serum. Vitamin D enhances the absorption of these 2 minerals in the small intestine; if dietary intake of calcium falls below adequate levels, calciferol (vitamin D) in conjunction with parathyroid hormone will mobilize calcium stores from the bones into the serum.

Lifestyle Induced Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D occurs freely in relatively few foods. Based on this fact and the skin-synthesis model, one must assume that this natural process instilled within the body is the preferred way for humans to obtain vitamin D from sun-stimulated conversion in the skin. While the human body is incredibly efficient at creating vitamin D from sun exposure (it is estimated that full-body exposure for a few hours will create 10,000 IU), it also has excellent control in limiting the creation of potentially toxic amounts of the vitamin as prolonged exposure also results in photo-degradation of vitamin D produced in the skin.

However, many factors have compounded the irrelevance of sun exposure as a source of vitamin D. Centuries ago, humans moved northward into cold, sun-limited climates, the majority of us spend most if not all of our days inside, and clothing covers 95% of our skin. Even (now fortified) dietary sources are proving inadequate to offset our lack of vitamin D production. One eight-ounce glass of milk contains only 100 IU vitamin D while other dairy products have little or none of this crucial vitamin added. Cereal has 40 – 100 IU in each serving. Salmon, sardines and mackerel contain roughly 200 – 360 IU vitamin D per 90 gram serving.

This leaves strict vegetarians and lactose-intolerant people at a disadvantage, while the elderly (inefficient conversion), the obese and dark-skinned people (additional melanin) have additional challenges producing Vitamin D.

Colon, Breast and Prostate Health

Approximately 5,000 research papers have been written about vitamin D in the last 40 years; only recently have we begun to appreciate vitamin D’s influence on health. Epidemiologic studies are showing that cancer survival rates are lower when diagnosis occurs in months of lower vitamin D levels suggesting a protective role of the vitamin against cancer growth and development.

Research into vitamin D is being conducted on approximately 17 different kinds of cancer, the main forms being breast, prostate and colon. Research is revealing that vitamin D may stop the initiation of cancer and that treatment outcomes may be influenced by vitamin D. A recent review article estimates that 50,000 to 70,000 Americans may die prematurely from cancers due to inadequate vitamin D intake.

Vitamin D is thought to influence cancer outcomes through several mechanisms: it promotes cell differentiation, regulates programmed cellular death (apoptosis), limits metatastic spread of cancers and growth of tumor blood supplies (angiogenesis).

Precancerous growths (adenomatous polyps) are a colon cancer precursor that are also associated with low vitamin D and calcium intake; a recent trial showed that these polyps tend to recur more frequently in people with lower vitamin D and calcium intakes. Another study showed that vitamin D level at the time of colorectal cancer diagnosis had an effect on survival; lower levels were associated with poorer cancer outcomes. Vitamin D intake of 1,000 IU or more each day correlated with a 50% reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Researchers also have studied the relationship between breast cancer, vitamin D and calcium intake. Women with more dense tissue revealed on mammography (which is a stronger risk factor for breast cancer) had lower intakes of vitamin D and calcium. Increased amounts of vitamin D and calcium apparently affect breast tissue composition. In this particular study, women with less dense mammography had a daily intake of only 100 IU vitamin D and 750mg (or more) of calcium. In the Nurses’ Health Study, investigators showed that over time, women with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood had a lower risk of breast cancer, and this association was stronger in women 60 years or older.

In prostate cancer, vitamin D enhances the differentiation of new cells (poorly differentiated cells are a cancer harbinger) while it slows the ability of the cancer to proliferate, invade and spread. Another study showed that men without prostate cancer enjoyed more time in the sun and thus had a 50% decreased risk of prostate cancer compared to those who spent relatively little time in the sun. This was related to the observation that sun exposure increased synthesis of vitamin D, exerting the observed protective effect. In men with prostate cancer, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA -a prostate cancer marker in the blood) is followed as an indirect way to monitor cancer growth. Men who were supplemented with vitamin D had a 75% lengthened doubling time of their PSA, meaning that cancer growth was greatly slowed.

Widespread Role in Health

Studies show a link between vitamin D levels and benefits to bone health, multiple sclerosis, heart health in people with hypertension, and overall mortality.

Vitamin D deficiency is also correlated with elevated blood pressure, and along with calcium, vitamin D can significantly lower systolic blood pressure. It is thought that these effects are carried out by vitamin D’s ability to influence the blood pressure-related hormone renin.

C-reactive protein is an indirect measurement of general inflammation in the body and elevated levels can be associated with conditions such as heart disease. Vitamin D has been shown to have potent CRP-reducing effects.

Another way vitamin D can influence health is through its blood-sugar-stabilizing effects. Diabetes occurs more frequently in people with lower vitamin D levels and vitamin D supplementation helps to reduce blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity.

Vitamin D may also have an effect on immune function. It is hypothesized that influenza is in part related to overall lower levels of vitamin D in the colder times of year, and this may predispose more people to the flu and other winter illnesses.

Conclusion

From this brief review of vitamin D, it is apparent that optimization of vitamin D levels is of paramount importance for a number of health conditions. Since sunscreen can interfere with the body’s ability to make vitamin D, supplementation can ensure that the body achieves its optimal level of wellness.

References
Article by Jason Barker, ND
Park EA. The therapy of rickets. JAMA.1940;115(5):370-9.
Shearer MJ. The roles of vitamins D and K in bone health and osteoporosis prevention. Proc Nutr Sci. 1997;56:915-37.
Gesensway D. Vitamin D and sunshine. Ann Int Med. 2000;133:319-20.
Holick MF. Sunlight and vitamin D: both good for cardiovascular health. J Gen Intern Med. 2002;17:733-5.
Holick MF, Shao Q, Liu WW, Chen TC. The vitamin D content of fortified milk and infant formula. N Engl J Med. 1992 Apr 30;326(18):1178-81.
Holick MF. High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and implications for health. Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Mar;81(3):353-73.
Porojnicu AC, Dahlback A, Moan J. Sun exposure and cancer survival in Norway: changes in the risk of death with season of diagnosis and latitude. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;624:43-54.
Grant WB, Holick MF. Benefits and requirements of vitamin D for optimal health: a review. Altern Med Rev. 2005 Jun; 10(2):94-111.
Van den Bemd GJ, Chang GT. Vitamin D and vitamin D analogs in cancer treatment. Curr Drug Targets. 2002 Feb;3(1):85-94.
Hartman TJ, Albert PS, Snyder K, et al. The association of calcium and vitamin D with risk of colorectal adenomas. J Nutr. 2005 Feb;135(2):252-9.
Giovannucci E. The epidemiology of vitamin D and colorectal cancer: recent findings. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2006 Jan;22(1):24-9.
Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, et al. Vitamin D and prevention of colorectal cancer. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Oct;97(1-2):179-94.
Berube S, Diorio C, Verhoek-Oftedahl W, Brisson J. Vitamin D, calcium, and mammographic breast densities. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Sep;13(9):1466-72.
Bertone-Johnson ER, Chen WY, Holick MF, et al. Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and risk of breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1991-7.
Lou YR, Qiao S, Talonpoika R, Syvala H, Tuohimaa P. The role of Vitamin D3 metabolism in prostate cancer. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2004 Nov;92(4):317-25.
John EM, Schwartz GG, Koo J, Van Den BD, Ingles SA. Sun exposure, vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms, and risk of advanced prostate cancer. Cancer Res. 2005 Jun 15;65(12):5470-9.
Woo TC, Choo R, Jamieson M, Chander S, Vieth R. Pilot study: potential role of vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) in patients with PSA relapse after definitive therapy. Nutr Cancer. 2005;51(1):32-6.
Moan J, et al “Addressing the health benefits and risks, involving vitamin D or skin cancer, of increased sun exposure” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2008; 05: 668-673.
Pfeifer M, Begerow B, Minne HW, Nachtigall D, Hansen C. Effects of a short-term vitamin D(3) and calcium supplementation on blood pressure and parathyroid hormone levels in elderly women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Apr;86(4):1633-7.
Lind L, Hanni A, Lithell H, et al. Vitamin D is related to blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors in middle-aged men. Am J Hypertens. 1995 Sep;8(9):894-901.
Li YC. Vitamin D regulation of the renin-angiotensin system. J Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb 1;88(2):327-31.
Timms PM, Mannan N, Hitman GA, et al. Circulating MMP9, vitamin D and variation in the TIMP-1 response with VDR genotype: mechanisms for inflammatory damage in chronic disorders? QJM. 2002 Dec;95(12):787-96.
Martins D, Wolf M, Pan D, et al. Prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and the serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin d in the United States: data from the third national health and nutrition examination survey. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Jun 11;167(11):1159-65.
Zittermann A. Vitamin D and disease prevention with special reference to cardiovascular disease. Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2006 Sep;92(1):39-48.
Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Umhau JC, et al. Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2006 Dec;134(6):1129-40.

Protect the gut, enhance your health

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Probiotics

Modulating Gut Immunity and Enhancing Long-Term Health

Probiotics have become a household term, largely thanks to the marketing efforts of big brands like Yakult and Vitagen, which are credited with creating the category. But behind the consumer brands, considerable research has been going on into the specific health benefits of probiotics. Probiotics have been used as a form of treatment for a variety of gastrointestinal diseases including irritable bowel, lactose intolerance, traveller’s diarrhoea, and antibiotic-induced diarrhoea.

Our digestive tracts are lined with more than 400 different kinds of good bacteria that help fight off infection and keep us healthy. Dr. Allan Walker, MD, a Conrad Taff professor of nutrition at Harvard, said that measures intended to improve public health, such as food pasteurisation and sterilisation and use of antibiotics means that there is a decreased exposure to microorganisms – leading to a gap in colonisation and weaker defences against disease. The idea is that probiotics could act as surrogate colonisers in such cases.

What are some of the health benefits of Probiotics?
Coping Better with Stress

According to the British Medical Association (BMA), stress plays a role in 80% of all illness. Regardless of your age and occupation, you will increasingly need to learn to live with high levels of stress. The trouble with stress is that while in the short term it really can boost your performance, it will take a deadly serious toll on your health in the long run.

The effects of stress are especially pronounced on your digestion. One of the more common symptoms of a body under stress is diarrhoea, and general stress has now been named as one of the primary causes of “Digestive Stress Disorders”. Stress depletes the immune system, which is inextricably linked with digestive health. Taking a probiotic supplement will support your digestion when the going gets tough and is the first all-important step in breaking this unhealthy cycle.

Stronger Immune Defences

A weakened immune system leaves the body vulnerable to virtually every type of illness and disease – fatigue, lethargy, repeated infections, slow wound healing, allergies, thrush, colds, and flu are all signs that the body’s immune system is functioning well below par.

In a healthy gut, the good bifidobacteria that make up about a third of the gut flora naturally produce antimicrobial agents, which kill off or inhibit the more harmful micro-organisms. When this balance is disturbed and the bad bacteria are allowed to flourish, they can bind to the gut wall where the damage they can cause includes a disturbing condition called ‘Leaky Gut’. When this happens, the small, sieve-like holes in the lining of the wall, which allow only certain nutrients to pass through, become enlarged allowing larger molecules, including partially digested foods to get into the bloodstream. The immune system then springs into action attacking these larger molecules and leading to food intolerances and even allergies. This not only creates a problem with what you eat, it also over-taxes the immune system leaving it less resilient against those serious foreign invaders that, (if not destroyed), bring disease into the body. Probiotic helps to keep levels of bad bacteria or pathogens under control.

Gets Rid of Candida (Thrush)

Candida albicans is a yeast that lives in the upper bowel of almost every man, woman and child. Scientists have found no good reason for it to be there, but it does no harm either – until our immune and digestive systems become compromised and allow it to multiply out of control. Once this happens, the toxins it produces can interfere with almost every bodily function. Candida thrives on moulds, so avoid mushrooms, fermented drinks (including alcohol), and foods that may carry mould. Cut out sugar-rich soft drinks and fruit juices, moderate your intake of tea, coffee, and diet drinks and aim for eight glasses of pure water a day to help flush out the bowel. Take a probiotic supplement to replenish levels of the good bacteria that will stop Candida from running riot and growing out of control.

Beat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The symptoms of this common and distressing digestive problem alternate between constipation and diarrhoea. IBS is believed to affect up to one in five adults, and is twice as common in women as men. Nausea, bloating, food intolerances, and abdominal pain are typical additional symptoms. Since the condition interferes with the proper absorption of nutrients, there may also be underlying deficiencies causing a range of other associated problems from skin complaints to dry and cracking skin. The symptoms are always worse under stress.

People with this condition usually have low levels of the good bacteria that would otherwise maintain harmony in the gut. Probiotics can help by normalising digestion and boosting the absorption of nutrients from the diet. They have been shown in clinical trials to relieve the symptoms of IBS. Probiotics also help the body make the B vitamins, which are known as nature’s own stress-busters, and so can help further reduce symptoms even when stress levels are high.

Clearer Skin

Even if you suffer from a serious skin complaint such as acne, you will notice a dramatic improvement to your skin if you take a probiotic supplement. This is because acne has been linked in some studies to intestinal health with researchers reporting increased blood levels of toxins absorbed from the gut in acne sufferers.

These toxins come from those pathogens or bad bacteria that we talked about earlier. It has been shown that in about 50% of cases of acne, the natural balance of the gut bacteria has been disrupted and the bad bacteria are running rings around the good bacteria. In other words, dysbiosis – the disturbance of the natural balance – is an underlying cause, which means that probiotics really can make a difference to your skin, whether you are suffering from an acne outbreak or the odd embarrassing spot.

Stay Healthy on Holiday

Probiotics will help prevent travellers’ diarrhoea, which may be caused by infection, eating or drinking contaminated food and water. A lot of IBS sufferers find their symptoms worsen when they travel and eat unfamiliar foods, so taking probiotics both before and during the holiday will help.

Get Over A Dose of Antibiotics

The trouble with antibiotics is that while they will indeed kill off viruses that may be causing infection, they are non-discriminatory and so will attack those friendly bugs in the digestive tract that actually work to keep us healthy.

The over-prescribing of antibiotics is one of the most common causes of Digestive Stress. However, supplementing the diet with a good quality probiotic will help redress the balance and put those good bacteria back in control. Whenever you are prescribed antibiotics you need to take a probiotic as well, to counter the negative effects on your digestive system.

Increased Energy

It takes about 80% of your energy to digest and eliminate your food. If you suffer from Digestive Stress, this figure will be higher leaving less and less energy for the body’s important rest & repair mechanisms and even for dancing the night away or running a marathon. Since probiotics improve digestive health, they bring this figure back to the normal level of 80% leaving you with enough energy to get on with the more important things in life.

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Culturelle http://plushealth.com.sg/product/culturelle-lactobacillus-gg-lgg/
Probiotics 50B http://naturext.com/sg/product/probiotic-50b/

Physical Manifestations of Stress

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The Physical Manifestations of Stress

Stress is often thought of as a mental condition, because it leads to many physical ailments. For most of us, after a difficult day at work, we sometimes have a hard time trying to sleep. However, the physical effects of stress go far beyond sleep deprivation. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 50-80% of physical disorders are stress-related. Some diseases and symptoms associated with stress include irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, indigestion, depression, insomnia, infertility, memory loss, decreased immune function, inflammatory conditions such as musculoskeletal pain, heart disease, and weight gain.

This article will discuss some of the physical consequences that can result from being in an agitated emotional state and the natural strategies that can be used to help our bodies cope with stress.

The Physiology of Stress

Stress causes activation of specific physiological pathways. The hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is stimulated as well as the sympathetic and autonomic nervous system. Activation of the sympathetic nervous system increases the secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine (NE) from the adrenal medulla. HPA axis activation includes release of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) from the hypothalamus causing the release of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) from the anterior pituitary gland. ACTH stimulates the adrenal cortex to secrete cortisol, the primary glucocorticoid responsible for much of the physical manifestations of stress.

Sleep

HPA axis dysfunction causes various types of sleep disturbance. Hyperactivity of this pathway inhibits sleep and increases awakenings during the night. This may be due to increased nocturnal CRH and NE levels. Increased nocturnal cortisol levels are also found in insomniacs. In addition, fragmented sleep increases HPA axis activity, thus creating a vicious cycle.

Melatonin is the hormone produced nocturnally by the pineal gland and acts as a circadian rhythm and sleep-anticipating signal in humans. In a study of insomniacs age 55 and older, those using melatonin supplementation found improvements in sleep quality, morning alertness, sleep onset latency and reported quality of life. Also, research has shown that in patients with insomnia currently taking benzodiazepines for treatment, concurrent supplementation with melatonin decreased or stopped the need for benzodiazepine treatment.

Mood and Well-Being

Depression is also associated with the malfunction of the HPA axis that occurs during stress. This stress-depression link is confirmed by studies showing that late-in-life depression is associated with both below and above normal levels of cortisol, suggesting sensitivity to any variation in the HPA axis. In addition to depression, stress, by virtue of dysregulation of the HPA axis, is linked to anxiety and panic disorders. Cognitive function is another surprising factor impacted by stress as studies indicate that higher levels of cortisol are associated with decreased cognitive performance including processing speed, eye-hand coordination, executive functioning, verbal memory and learning, and visual memory.

B-complex is necessary to support brain chemistry and stress response, and individuals under stress often need extra B vitamins. B vitamins including pyridoxine (B6), thiamine (B1), and cobalamin (B12) have been shown to modulate the stress response and improve stress-related disease. In addition, thiamine deficiency is associated with memory and learning deficits.

L-theanine, a component of green tea, is one of the best supplements to help promote relaxation. It has been shown to increase alpha-waves in the brain and also supports GABA levels that help balance the excitatory neurotransmitters. L-theanine can work within as little as 30 minutes.

Digestive System

Elevated stress is associated with several digestive complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stomach ulcers, and changes in appetite. Studies indicate that individuals with IBS have elevated cortisol as well as increased pro-inflammatory markers. These patients show an exaggerated cortisol and ACTH response to CRH. This exaggerated ACTH response means that in individuals with IBS, the adrenal cortex is secreting excessive amounts of cortisol. Individuals with IBS also exhibit increased urinary norepinephrine and epinephrine levels.

Lactobacillus, a probiotic in the intestines that has been found to be important for metabolizing food, absorption of nutrients, and preventing colonization by pathogenic bacteria, can help safeguard the digestive tract from the negative effects of stress. One study showed that supplementation with lactobacillus in children with IBS decreased pain after 4 weeks. In an additional study, individuals with IBS were given a probiotic supplement and evaluated over 6 months. In the treatment group, symptoms including pain, flatulence, distension, and rumbling decreased by 42 percent. Furthermore, supplementations with digestive enzymes which are important in the proper breakdown and absorption of nutrients in food, have been shown to decrease digestive complaints such as abdominal pain and pressure, nausea, and flatulence.
Physical and psychological stress can also induce stomach and duodenal ulcers. Research has demonstrated that individuals with duodenal ulcers have sympathetic-adrenal systems that exhibit elevated sensitivity to environmental stressors.

Musculoskeletal System

Musculoskeletal pain – aches that occur in the bones, joints and muscles – and inflammation may also be stress-induced. Studies have shown increased work-related stressors are related to musculoskeletal pain. Additional studies have shown a correlation between increased depressive symptoms and reported stress with neck/shoulder pain and low back pain in adolescents. Other researchers have demonstrated that perceived stress is correlated closely with the complaint of musculoskeletal symptoms such as shoulder and low back pain.

Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate are commonly used to moderate the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis such as joint pain. Numerous studies have reported symptomatic relief in osteoarthritic symptoms when subjects were supplemented with glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate. Additionally, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) has been shown to modulate pain and physical impairment in individuals, particularly those with osteoarthritis. When bone, joint and muscle pain is the result of stress, anti-inflammatory nutrients can offer an additional means of support.

Ways of Managing Stress
  • Make an effort to avoid negative thoughts and avoid people who stress you out or people who influence you negatively. Go out more often with supportive friends and family and have fun!
  • Take a mini retreat every now and then to unwind yourself and engage in favourite hobbies or interest.
  • Say No. Do not overload yourself with more than you can handle. Be it with work or personal life, know your limits and say no.
  • Avoid topics or environmental triggers that stress you.
  • Exercise. Find a buddy to exercise with to make exercise more fun! This will encourage you to keep motivated and enjoy the exercise.
  • Learn relaxation techniques such as meditation or simple breathing exercises. Or simply listening to music!
  • Time management. Learn to create a balanced s
  • chedule, do not over-commit and try to delegate responsibility to others.
  • Laugh at yourself. Keep the sense of humor and the ability to laugh at yourself. Laughing is a good way to relax.
  • Adopt a healthy diet. Reduce caffeine and sugar as the temporary ‘high’ provided will soon crash with a dip in energy and mood.
  • Avoid drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Do not avoid problems, instead face them head on and deal with them with a clear mind.
  • Sleep. Inadequate sleep and feeling tired will increase your stress and may cause you to think irrationally. Sufficient sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body.

References
Randolfi EA. Developing A Stress Management And Relaxation Center For The Worksite. Worksite Health. 1997 Summer; Vol.4, No. 3, 40-44.

Buckley TM, Schatzberg AF. On the interactions of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and sleep: normal HPA axis activity and circadian rhythm, exemplary sleep disorders. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 May;90(5):3106-14.

Wade AG, Ford I, Crawford G, McMahon AD, Nir T, Laudon M, Zisapel N. Efficacy of prolonged release melatonin in insomnia patients aged 55-80 years: quality of sleep and next-day alertness outcomes. Curr Med Res Opin. 2007 Sep 14; [Epub ahead of print].

Gluck ME, Geliebter A, Lorence M. Cortisol stress response is positively correlated with central obesity in obese women with binge eating disorder (BED) before and after cognitive-behavioral treatment. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1032:202-7.

Gluck ME, Geliebter A, Hung J, Yahav E. Cortisol, hunger, and desire to binge eat following a cold stress test in obese women with binge eating disorder. Psychosom Med. 2004 Nov-Dec;66(6):876-81

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Vitasleep http://naturext.com/sg/product/vitasleep

Inflammation: Depression to Insulin Resistance

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Its Surprising Role in Everything from Depression to Insulin Resistance

In the minds of many, inflammation often is associated with the pain and swelling that occurs after trauma, whether from a sports injury or a wound. However, scientists are beginning to realize that inflammation may actually be the cause behind a surprising number of conditions including Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes/insulin resistance, multiple sclerosis, cancer and depression. Even weight gain is now associated with inflammation. In fact, any condition with a modifier of “itis” at the end of the word (dermatitis, bursitis, colitis, sinusitis, etc.) is linked to inflammation.

Inflammation is an essential process. Without it, wounds would not heal. However, when inflammation continues unchecked a process that was designed to help the body heal actually becomes highly destructive. Various factors encountered in our modern day lifestyles, including poor diet, stress, lack of sleep and exercise, contribute to the ongoing inflammation that can lead to a number of diseases. Inflammation also accelerates premature aging and can sabotage the pursuit of healthy aging.

Cardiovascular Disease
When anything threatens the body’s health—from disease-causing germs to the build-up of fatty plaque in the walls of a heart vessel—the immune system sends in wave after wave of cells to swarm and destroy the invader. Scientists now theorize that when plaque deposits build up on the walls of arteries, it causes macrophages to perceive the plaque deposit to be a foreign invader, and therefore attempt to eliminate the cholesterol deposit. In the blood vessels, layers of these immune cells pile up, creating lesions that become increasingly unstable and may eventually break free, inducing a heart attack. This link between inflammation and blood vessel health may explain why half of all people who have heart attacks don’t have high cholesterol. Scientists now realize that inflammation plays an important part in the development of cardiovascular disease and that C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation, is a predictor of heart disease.

Insulin Resistance, Diabetes and Weight Gain
Scientists suspected a link between inflammation, insulin resistance and diabetes as far back as the early 1900s, when they gave diabetes patients aspirin-like compounds known as salicylates and found that these anti-inflammatory compounds reduced blood sugar levels. However, the high doses necessary to produce an effect caused ringing in the ears, headaches and dizziness. Recently, researchers have achieved these same effects. However, the use of high doses of aspirin is associated with a greater incidence of gastrointestinal bleeding.

The same researchers have established an equally strong link between inflammation, insulin resistance and obesity. Fat cells (adipocytes) are known to produce inflammatory cytokines, proteins that play a key role in inflammation. Consequently, the researchers used a breed of mice with fat cells that produce a high level of inflammatory compounds. The animals with these fat cells became insulin resistant and developed diabetes. The researchers concluded that they could trigger the development of diabetes simply by inducing inflammation in the animals.

Depression and Alzheimer’s
Scientists now believe that chronic inflammation is involved in the development of major depression that precedes Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic inflammatory changes that are suspected to be a common feature of depression could predispose depressed patients to neurodegenerative changes in later life. In support of this theory, clinical evidence shows that depression commonly precedes Alzheimer’s disease and may be an early manifestation of dementia before cognitive decline becomes apparent. Evidence indicates that chronic low-grade inflammation changes brain structure in a way similar to that seen in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Neuronal loss, for example, is a common feature of major depression and dementia. Scientists have hypothesized that the activation of macrophages in the blood and brain release pro-inflammatory cytokines, which encourages the progress from depression to dementia. Such cytokines stimulate a cascade of inflammatory changes and excessive secretion of cortisol.

Hypertension
C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic low-grade inflammation, is frequently elevated in essential hypertension. In one study of 36 subjects with essential hypertension, 36 subjects with white coat hypertension (blood pressure that rises only in the doctor’s office), and 36 subjects without hypertension, CRP levels were significantly higher in the essential hypertensive and white-coat hypertensive groups than in the group with normal blood pressure. It was also higher in the essential hypertensive group than in the white-coat hypertensive group.

Joint Health
Inflammation is perhaps best known for its destructive effects on bone and joint health and for the role it plays in arthritis. The cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme is known to produce pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, which ultimately result in the destruction of cartilage.

Cancer
Various forms of cancer are now believed to either have their origin in the inflammatory process or to be worsened by inflammation. In lung cancer, inflammatory signals can promote resistance to apoptosis, the process by which the body rids itself of cancer cells. Inflammation also promotes the multiplication of cancer cells as well as their invasiveness and their ability to spread throughout the body. Inflammation suppresses the immune system and triggers the secretion of factors that enhance angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels that feed cancer cells. Lung cancer develops in a host environment in which the inflammatory response has become unbalanced, promoting tumor progression. It is thought that inflammation has a similar tumor-promoting effect in other forms of cancer as well.

Extract By Kimberly Pryor
Natural Remedies that can help to reduce Inflammation
Indian Frankincense Gum Extract, also known as Boswellia serrata – widely used as a traditional herb in Ayurvedic medicine for treating inflammatory disease and has reported anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity. The resin, or gum, from the plant contains boswellic acids, which produce much of this plant’s anti-inflammatory activity. It is believed that the mechanism of action for the anti-inflammatory activity of the boswellic acids is the ability to inhibit the synthesis of pro-inflammatory leukotrienes and the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX). Several clinical trials have attributed beneficial effects of this herb in treating chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic colitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, asthma, and tumor-associated brain edema.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study in 30 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, Boswellia serrata extract or placebo was given for 8 weeks. All of the patients receiving Boswellia supplementation reported a decrease in knee pain and frequency of swelling, and an increase in knee flexion and walking distance.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – is used for numerous inflammatory conditions as it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. The primary constituent is curcumin, which is believed to exert these anti-inflammatory properties. Preliminary studies have shown turmeric may be supportive in several conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory eye diseases, chronic pancreatitis, psoriasis, hyperlipidemia, and cancers.

Curcumin has been shown to inhibit important enzymes that mediate inflammatory processes in the body. These enzymes are cyclooxygenase (COX), lipoxygenase (LOX), and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Improper up-regulation of COX-2 and iNOS has been associated with the pathology of inflammatory disorders as well as certain types of cancer. A number of studies have been conducted that support curcumin-mediated regulation of the COX and LOX pathways at both the cellular and molecular level.

In one study, the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric were evaluated using animal models of rheumatoid arthritis. The results showed that turmeric profoundly inhibited joint inflammation and joint destruction in a dose-dependent manner. Turmeric prevented local activation of NFkB, which is involved in regulation of expression of the pro-inflammatory enzymes COX-2 and iNOS. Additionally, inflammatory cell influx, joint levels of pro-inflammatory prostaglandin E2, and local osteoclast (cells that resorb bone) formation were inhibited by turmeric extract treatment.

Bromelain – is the general name for a group of proteolytic enzymes derived from pineapple stems. Through its action on the blood-clotting-related substances fibrinogen and fibrin, bromelain stimulates the production and release of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (PGs), while simultaneously reducing the production and release of pro-inflammatory PGs.

Ginger root – is called the “universal medicine” in East Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Ginger root contains a veritable cornucopia of natural anti-inflammatory compounds. The USDA Phytochemical Database reported as of 1999 that ginger has more 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors than any other botanical source. Given its balanced anti-COX-2 and anti-5-lipoxygenase activity, ginger root extract provides useful, yet safe anti-inflammatory activity.

Chia or Salvia hispanica L., is a summer annual herbaceous plant mint plant. Chia seeds contain the richest concentration of Omega 3-6 and is a superior source of anti-oxidants, minerals and fiber.

Quercetin – reduces the release of histamine, the substance that triggers allergies. Histamine is produced by mast cells. In allergic rhinitis, mast cells in the nasal area increase in number and are thought to play an important role in the nasal symptoms that occur during seasonal allergies. In one study, researchers triggered histamine release in nasal scrapings from seasonal allergy patients exposed to mite antigen. When the nasal scrapings were exposed to quercetin, histamine release was inhibited 46 percent to 96 percent. In another study of rat mast cells exposed to an allergen, quercetin inhibited histamine release by 95 percent and 97 percent.

Gleditsia sinensis also called Chinese honey locust – was shown in a 2002 study that it possibly inhibit inflammation by reducing the release of histamine from mast cell.* Traditionally, all parts of the Gleditsia sinensis plant have been found to have many beneficial properties.*

Chinese Skullcap – has been used for thousands of years in treating hot and damp conditions, supports digestion and contains bioflavonoids that may enhance liver function. *

Bitter orange – has long history of use as a digestive tonic and is an expectorant and laxative. It is energy enhancing, provides powerful support for circulation and is considered to be one of the strongest chi moving herbs.*

Bai Zhu – in TCM, it is thought to support the functions of the stomach and spleen and its actions also include immune system enhancement, detoxification and support for the function of the adrenal cortex.

Chinese giant hyssop – a warming herb which is used when there is “dampness” within the digestive system, for good appetite and strong digestion.* It is known to benefit blood vessel circulation and used to support vitality.*

References
Kimmatkar N, Thawani V, Hingorani L, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee–a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2003 Jan;10(1):3-7.

Ammon HP. Boswellic acids (components of frankincense) as the active principle in treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases [in German]. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15–16):373–378.

Taussig, S. The mechanism of the physiological action of bromelain. Med Hypoth 6 (1980): 99-104.

Funk JL, Frye JB, Oyarzo JN, et al. Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2006 Nov;54(11):3452-3464.

Hsu CH, Cheng AL. Clinical studies with curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:471-480.

Menon VP, Sudheer AR. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:105-125.

Rao CV. Regulation of COX and LOX by curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;595:213-26.

Kelly G. “Bromelain: A literature review and discussion of its therapeutic applications” Alt Med Rev 1 (1996):243-57.

Haggag EG, Abou-Moustafa MA, Boucher W, Theoharides TC. The effect of a herbal water-extract on histamine release from mast cells and on allergic asthma.J Herb Pharmacother 2003;3(4):41-54.

Srivastava K, Mustafa T. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and rheumatic disorders. Med Hypoth. 1989;29:25-28.

Jolad S, et al. Fresh organically grown ginger (Zingiber officinale): composition and effects on LPS-induced PGE2 production. Phytochem. 2004;65:1937-54.

Park K, et al. Inhibitor effects of [6]-gingerol, a major pungent principle of ginger, on phorbol ester-induced inflammation, epidermal ornithine decarboxylase activity and skin tumor promotion in ICR mice. Cancer Lett. 1998;129:139-44.

Calder PC. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammatory processes and inflammatory bowel diseases. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 May 26.
Deutch B. Painful menstruation and low intake of n-3 fatty. acids. Ugeskr Laeger. 1996 Jul 15;158(29):4195-8.

Surette ME, Stull D, Lindemann J. The impact of a medical food containing gammalinolenic and eicosapentaenoic acids on asthma management and the quality of life of adult asthma patients. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 Feb;24(2):559-67.

*As per US federal guidelines, we need to inform you that these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Recommended Product
Quercelain http://plushealth.com.sg/product/quercelain/
Chia Seed Oil http://naturext.com/sg/product/chia-essence/

Win the Battle, Lose the weight

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In recent years, overweight and obesity in industrialized countries has reached epidemic proportions. Abdominal obesity, in particular, and its related increase in visceral fat, is at an all-time high. Visceral fat is of particular concern because elevated levels of visceral fat are one cause of metabolic syndrome, a condition where blood lipids, blood glucose and blood pressure are poorly controlled. Metabolic syndrome is considered to be a precursor to more serious conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, diabetes and stroke.

Reduce Waist Circumference with Glabrinex™
Glabrinex™ has demonstrated, in both animal and human published studies, the ability to inhibit the formation of body fat—especially visceral fat. In clinical trials, Glabrinex™ has been shown to reduce body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat, and to help control blood glucose. In combination with an appropriate diet and moderate exercise, Glabrinex™ can help maintain optimal body weight and promote healthy fat metabolism, and play a significant role in the quest for healthy aging.

Glabrinex™ contains a proprietary lipid-soluble extract of licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L) root, standardized for bioactive polyphenol flavonoid compounds and the unique flavonoid glabridin. Human randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies with Glabrinex™ resulted in:
Body and abdominal fat lowering effect in human subjects
Suppression of body weight gain in human subjects
Abdominal fat lowering effect in human subjects
To confirm the safety of Glabrinex™, a series of non-clinical studies as well as clinical studies were conducted. The results of these studies support the excellent safety profile of Glabrinex™. The active ingredient in Glabrinex™ has been accepted by the FDA as an approved new dietary ingredient. The recommended daily dose is 300 mg, taken once per day at the evening meal. Glabrinex™ is the first natural product of its kind that actually helps prevent or suppress the onset of metabolic syndrome.

Research findings indicate Glabrinex™:
Reduces visceral fat
Supports healthy body weight
Promotes balanced, beneficial body fat
Best results are realized after 6 – 8 weeks of regular supplementation

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Nature’s Super Germ Fighter

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Oregano Oil: Nature’s Super Germ Fighter

1940s
With the advent of widespread antibiotic usage, doctors began to vanquish the bacterial germ diseases that had ravaged mankind since ancient times.

1960s
Ancient enemies such as diphtheria, scarlet fever, syphilis, bubonic plague and tuberculosis were easily treatable with modern antibiotics.

1990s
Many bacteria had developed a resistance to most antibiotics. Widespread overuse of antibiotics also seemed to promote a new plague: the development of fungal infections—especially Candida albicans—in the young, the elderly and the immunocompromised.

Oregano Oil: Nature’s Super Germ Fighter
Produced by distillation from the leaves and flowers of wild Mediterranean oregano, oregano oil is rich in phenolic compounds, including carvacrol and thymol, which have been shown to be powerfully germicidal against a wide range of bacteria, fungi and protozoal parasites, even at minute concentrations of the oil.

Although modern science has verified the broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity of oregano oil, oregano has been used for medicine and food preservation for thousands of years. According to oregano expert Dr. Cass Ingram, ancient Greek physicians routinely used oregano to treat a myriad of conditions, including open wounds, lung disorders, venomous bites and narcotic poisoning.

Below are some of the research and studies done on the use of oregano oil:

  1. Researchers tested 13 essential oils against the common food contaminant mold Aspergillus parasiticus. Oregano oil could completely stop mold growth at concentrations as low as 0.1%. The production of aflatoxins, incredibly potent toxins produced by many Aspergillus species, was also measured. Oregano oil was one of three oils that could inhibit aflatoxin production more than 90% at an oil concentration of only 0.01%, and one of six oils that could completely inhibit aflatoxin production at 0.1%.
  2. In another study, researchers gave 600 mg emulsified oregano oil for six weeks to 13 adults who had tested positive for intestinal parasites (Entamoeba, Endolinax, or Blastocystis). Parasites could no longer be detected in 10 of the 13 after the treatment. The parasite score (parasites counted under a microscope) decreased for the other three. 7 of the 8 adults who had originally tested positive for Blastocystis hominis reported significant improvement of their symptoms, such as bloating, GI cramping, alternating diarrhea and constipation, and fatigue. Oregano is GRAS (generally regarded as safe), but the oil should be used with caution, as it can be irritating to the mucous membranes. It should be taken with food, not on an empty stomach.
  3. Oregano oil at relatively low doses was found to be effective against Staphylococcus bacteria and was comparable in its germ-killing properties to antibiotic drugs such as streptomycin, penicillin and vancomycin. [Science Daily 10/11/2001]

In an age when “food poisoning” sickens or kills many thousands annually, oregano oil taken with meals may be the best preventative. The oil from oregano leaf helps balance microflora colonization in favor of beneficial inhabitants, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract.

References:
1. Ingram, C. The Cure is in the Cupboard. Buffalo Grove, IL:Knowledge House, 2001.
2. Crook, W. The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health. Jackson, TN: Professional Books, 2003.
3. Manohar, V. et al. “Antifungal activities of origanum oil against Candida albicans.” Mol Cell Biochem, 2001, 228: 111-17.
4. Maruzzella, J. & Lichtenstein, M. “The in vitro antibacterial activity of essential oils.” J Am Pharm Assoc, 1956, 47: 250 ff.
5. Hammer, K. et al. “Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant extracts”. J Appl Microbial, 1999, 86:985-90.
6.Tantatoui-Elaraki, A and Beraoud, L. “Inhibition of growth and aflatoxin production in Aspergillus parasiticus by essential oils of selected plant materials.” J Environ Path Toxicol Oncol, 1994, 13: 67-72.
7. Baratta, M.T. et al. “Chemical composition, antimicrobial and antioxidative activity of laurel, sage rosemary, oregano and coriander essential oils.” J Essent Oil Res, 1998, 10:618-27.
8. Stiles, J. et al. “The inhibition of Candida albicans by oregano”. J Appl Nutr, 1995, 47:96-102.
9. Force, M. et al. “Inhibition of enteric parasites by emulsified oil of oregano in vivo”. Phytother Res, 2000, 14:213-14.
10. Knobloch, K. et al. “Antibacterial and antifungal properties of essential oil components.” J Essent Oil Res, 1989, 1:119-28.
11. Conner, D. & Beuchat, L. “Effects of essential oils from plants on growth of food spoilage yeasts.” J Food Sci, 1984, 49:429-34.