February 20, 2017

408 Nutrients for Diabetic Neuropathy [21 Feb 2017]


Tingling, numbness or pain in the hands and feet are symptoms that affect 60-70% of people with diabetes. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy and is caused by excess sugar in the blood and cells.

Sugar molecules combine with protein and fat in our cells in a process called glycation. This is the same process that occurs when you toast bread or caramelize onions. The resulting sugar-protein compounds are called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGES). These AGES attack the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves and the nerves themselves, and also trigger an inflammatory response. The result is numbness, tingling and pain. The peripheral nerves in our hands and feet are the longest and thinnest so are the most affected.

There is much you can do to prevent and even reverse diabetic neuropathy naturally. The most important thing is to control blood sugar levels; avoiding refined carbs. Other helpful lifestyle choices are to keep blood pressure under control, stay active, manage stress, and don’t smoke. Supplements that have shown promise include:

• Benfotiamine, the fat soluble form of B1, has been shown to reduce the production of AGES, improve nerve function and peripheral sensation, and reduce nerve pain
• Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that inhibits glycation by converting more glucose into energy (which most of us could use!), improves blood flow to nerve cells, and reverses nerve dysfunction caused by high sugar levels (see #89 Nov 2010)
• Acetyl L-Carnitine, an amino acid, improves nerve function relieves diabetic pain and promotes nerve regeneration (see #239 Oct 2013)
• Methylcobalamine, the active form of vitamin B12, helps rebuild the myelin sheath and peripheral nerves and protect them from further damage (see #339 Oct 2015)
• Vitamin B6 promotes the synthesis of neurotransmitters necessary for healthy nerve function
• Omega 3 (fish oil) and GLA (evening primrose oil) are anti-inflammatory and reduce numbness, tingling and pain (see #388 Sept 2016)
• Capsaicin cream applied topically may temporarily relieve pain

Be patient - it often takes several weeks to see improvements as the nerves heal.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

February 13, 2017

407 Tom Brady and his Guru [13 Feb 2017]


Did you see last Sunday’s Super Bowl game? I’m not a sports fan by any stretch but a news item about winning quarterback Tom Brady’s masseur-trainer caught my eye.

Tom Brady, at 39, played one of the best ever NFL football games and walked off the field feeling great. In his own words “I never hurt. My arm never hurts, and my body never hurts. I know how to take care of it…”

It wasn’t always that way. Brady had two knee surgeries and a serious infection in 2008. His shoulder hurt too. Brady confesses “When I was 25, I was hurting all the time, and I could never have imagined playing this long” [17 seasons].

Then he met Alex Guerrero and hired him as his personal masseur and trainer. Besides regular massage treatments Guerrero advised Brady on which exercises to do and which to avoid, with emphasis on keeping the muscles strong and pliant. Then there’s diet and supplements. Brady avoids “inflammatory foods” including dairy, white sugar and white flour. He satisfies his craving for sweets with foods like avocado ice cream. He also practices meditation and yoga.

A little background on Alex Guerrero is in order here. In 2003 he was investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for unsubstantiated health claims for his product Supreme Greens and for calling himself “Dr. Alejandro Guerrero”. The study he used to market the product turned out to be a sham, and he was not, and is not, a doctor of any kind. He was investigated again in 2011 for promoting a new product, NeuroSafe, as an aid to recovery from concussion. I make no excuses for this – if you make health claims for a product, you need the science to back them up. I don’t know what’s in NeuroSafe – it could have helpful ingredients (see my article #331 Traumatic Brain Injury, Aug 2015) – but again you need the research to prove it.

Other trainers and the NFL medical staff consider Guerrero a quack and aren’t pleased with Brady’s decision to ignore their advice. But I believe that if he hadn’t made the changes he did, he would have been retired years ago with injuries that would still be causing him pain today. And you can’t argue with Sunday’s results.

Whatever our age and game in life, good nutrition, proper exercise and regular massage treatments should go a long way to keeping us pain free for life.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

February 6, 2017

406 Collagen Supplements [6 Feb 2017]


In August 2014 [#280] I wrote about collagen and the silica supplement sh-OSA (BioSil) that stimulates our body’s production of this important protein. A few months later in October 2014 [#289] I discussed the benefits of bone broth, one of which is to promote collagen production. This week I want to revisit the topic and discuss collagen supplements.

Collagen is important for our health for many reasons:
• It is the most abundant protein in the body making up 25% of our body weight (yes, that’s one quarter!)
• It is an essential component of bone, skin, muscle, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and the lining of the digestive tract
• It provides the “glue” for bone minerals, keeping bones strong & resilient
• It is essential for repairing broken bones or soft tissue injuries
• It keeps skin elastic, smooth and wrinkle free

Taking collagen supplements provides the amino acids you need to produce collagen in your body. It also provides these amino acids for other vital functions that, if in short supply, our bodies will steal from the collagen in our joints and bones. Thus collagen supplements can prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

In summary, you should take a collagen supplement to:
• prevent or reverse osteoporosis
• prevent or reduce joint pain or stiffness
• promote healing of broken bones or injuries
• increase performance and reduce joint pain in athletes
• heal the digestive tract and prevent leaky gut syndrome
• have supple and younger looking skin

Collagen supplements come in powder, liquid and capsule form. The best type is called hydrolyzed collagen, meaning that the large collagen molecules are broken down into smaller more easily digested pieces called peptides.

Hyaluronic acid [#15 June 2009] and vitamin C are also required for collagen production. Both are available as supplements. Anthocyanins, flavonoids found in dark fruit and berries, assist collagen in forming strong connective tissue.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. Find this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.

January 30, 2017

405 Testosterone & DHT [30 January 2017]


An article in this morning’s National Post (January 24) prompted this topic. It reported on a University of Toronto study that found male pattern baldness was twice as accurate in predicting risk of prostate cancer than the latest DNA test. A previous study from Australia found a link between prostate cancer and vertex balding (at the top of the head) but not frontal balding (receding hairline).

The link between baldness and prostate health is not new – we’ve suspected for years that bald men are more likely to have prostate problems. The link is the male hormone testosterone (T) or, rather, the more active form dihydrotestosterone (DHT). An enzyme called 5 alpha reductase converts T to DHT. DHT is essential for male development in the fetal stage and at puberty, and plays a few roles in adults, but excess DHT causes problems. Both male pattern baldness and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate, are strongly linked to high DHT levels.

Back in 1941 two researchers Charles Huggins and Clarence Hodges discovered that testosterone “activated” prostate cancer and concluded that reducing testosterone would treat it. Decades of prostate cancer treatments have been based on this idea, called the “androgen hypothesis”.

That theory is only recently being questioned. Research by Dr. Abraham Morgentaler at Harvard Medical School found the opposite to be true – that the lower the testosterone levels, the higher the risk of prostate cancer. His results make more sense – testosterone levels peak at age 20 and decline with age while prostate cancer risk increases with age. A literature search found no evidence to support the androgen hypothesis over the past 75 years. Morgentaler explains: “The persistence of the androgen hypothesis despite strong contradictory evidence teaches us how difficult it is to abandon ideas learned during our training, even in this age of evidence-based medicine.”

While the effect on cancer is uncertain, both male pattern baldness and enlarged prostate can be improved by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Several natural products are known to safely block the 5 alpha reductase enzyme responsible: saw palmetto, Pygeum bark, stinging nettle root, beta sitosterol, pumpkin seed oil and green tea. Several of these are often combined in “prostate formulas” which are available in health food stores. I wrote about these and other natural products for BPH in #158 (March 2012).

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. Find this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.

January 23, 2017

404 Vitamin D News [23 Jan 2017]


The days are slowly getting longer but we are still months away from even beginning to get any vitamin D from sunlight which will start mid-April. This week I will share several news items about this critical vitamin.

A large multi-ethnic cohort study published in Molecular Psychiatry found that maternal vitamin D deficiency (less than 25 nmol/L) during pregnancy was associated with a 3.8 times higher rate of autism-related traits in the children at 6 years of age. Other studies have shown vitamin D deficiency to nearly double the risk of premature birth.

An animal study published in Frontiers in Physiology suggests that vitamin D could play a role in preventing Metabolic Syndrome by modulating gut microbiota. Previous studies have shown an association between D deficiency and obesity, insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), all part of Metabolic Syndrome. Mice fed a high fat, low D diet developed unhealthy gut flora, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, NAFLD, and elevated levels of inflammatory markers compared to the high fat, adequate D diet group.

In a randomized clinical trial, relapse rates for Crohn’s Disease patients were 33% for those receiving 10,000 IU vitamin D and 69% for those taking 1,000 IU. This strongly suggests that Crohn’s sufferers do better with higher D levels.

In a randomized controlled trial published in the journal Medicine, 120 adults with fatigue and vitamin deficiency (less than 50 nmol/L) received either a single dose of 100,000 IU vitamin D or placebo. The vitamin D group reported more significant improvement of fatigue than the placebo group.

Finally, William Grant of the Vitamin D Council calculated the benefits of raising the vitamin D levels of all Canadians to at least 100nmol/L. Levels currently vary with age and season but average 61 nmol/L with 92% (summer) and 96% (winter) below the target level. Based on published studies, Grant estimated reductions in incidences of cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, MS, respiratory infections and musculoskeletal disorders. He then calculated a reduction in annual premature deaths of 23,000 and a saving of $12 billion per year. New evidence of stronger effects of D on the risk of Alzheimer’s and clinical depression would push these numbers even higher. What are we waiting for??

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

January 16, 2017

403 Humic & Fulvic Acids [16 Jan 2017]


I have a rather unique supplement on my shelves that I wanted to learn more about so chose it for my topic this week. Humic and fulvic acids are organic compounds found in soil, peat, and water sediments. A particularly rich deposit in New Mexico dating from the Cretaceous Period (100mya) is mined to create a supplement for human use.

The main ingredients are humic and fulvic acids. The supplement also contains traces of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, plant enzymes and other organic compounds (organic in the chemical sense meaning that it contains carbon).

Humic and fulvic acids are known to benefit human health in many ways:
• Source of trace minerals in a readily available organic form
• Stimulates mitochondrial production of ATP
• Protects mitochondrial membranes from oxidative damage
• Reduces loss of ATP and CoQ10 levels during heavy exercise
• Acts as prebiotic feeding good bacteria in the gut
• Reduces pain and inflammation
• Improves immunity by increasing T-lymphocytes and neutrophils
• Inhibits viral infections including rhinoviruses, influenza and Herpes simplex
• Increases elimination of toxic heavy metals while improving absorption of nutritional metals like iron and zinc
• Blocks stress hormones
• Increases oxygenation of the blood

Here are how these benefits are experienced by users:
• Relief from joint pain and stiffness
• Reduced soreness and faster recovery from work or sports activity
• Increased energy & stamina
• Improved immunity from colds and flu
• Improved mood, reduced anxiety, increased alertness
• Most people noticed the benefits in 1 or 2 weeks

In over 10 years of research, humic and fulvic acid supplements have been found to be completely safe and do not interfere with any medications.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. Find this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.

January 9, 2017

402 Curcumin Formulas [9 January 2017]


I have written about curcumin in each of the last three years: #294 Curcumin – Nature’s Painkiller (Nov 2014); #329 Curcumin & Cancer (July 2015) and #384 Curcumin & Alzheimer’s (Aug 2016).

Curcumin is the powerful extract from the spice turmeric with documented benefits of reducing inflammation, providing cellular antioxidant protection, and reducing risk factors for chronic degenerate diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. A major problem with curcumin is its low bioavailability, meaning poor absorption from the intestines and short retention time in the blood. Scientists have developed four curcumin formulas with enhanced bioavailability: BCM-95, Meriva, Longvida and Theracurmin.

The BCM-95 formula combines curcumin extract with turmeric essential oils and claims to be 7 times more bioavailable than regular turmeric extract. I wrote about BCM-95s anti-inflammatory and pain-killing effect in #294.

Curcumin in the Meriva formula is combined with phosphatidylcholine from lecithin and claims to be 29 times more bioavailable than regular curcumin extract.

Longvida was developed at UCLA using what the developers called Solid Lipid Curcumin Particle Technology. It delivers “free curcumin” into the bloodstream, which is the most effective form. Longvida claims to be a whopping 95 times more bioavailable than regular turmeric extracts. Longvida also has the distinction of being the only patented curcumin extract proven to cross the blood-brain barrier which makes it the preferred choice for people with dementia or depression.

Theracurmin’s particles are super fine and mixed with a vegetable gum which forms a colloid suspension in water. Theracurmin claims to be an amazing 300 times more bioavailable than regular curcumin powder.

Black pepper, Boswellia and olive leaf extracts are often added to curcumin formulas. Black pepper makes the curcumin better absorbed. Boswellia is related to frankincense and has anti-inflammatory properties which works well with curcumin. Olive leaf extract is a natural antibiotic and antifungal which assists your immune system in fighting and preventing illness.

Any one of these curcumin formulas will work well. Which will work best for you will depend on your purpose for taking it.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.