October 16, 2017

442 Serrapeptase [16 Oct 2017]

Serrapeptase is a proteolytic enzyme used as a natural anti-inflammatory for a wide variety of conditions. Its full name serratiopeptidase reflects its origin in the bacterium Serratia found in the gut of silkworms.

Serrapeptase is commonly prescribed (as a drug) in Europe and Asia as a safer alternative to pain relievers and NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug). Robert Redfern explains that serrapeptase works by clearing unhealthy inflammation and affects only dead tissue, and that unlike NSAIDs it has no gastrointestinal side effects (like ulcers, bleeding stomach, and much worse) and has no known interactions with any drug. He has found it safe in pregnancy, breastfeeding (it helps with engorged breasts), and with bleeding disorders. Canadian label requires a warning to check with your physician if pregnant, breastfeeding or taking warfarin.

Serrapeptase has been used for a wide variety of conditions:
• pain of any kind including back pain, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, repetitive strain injury, carpal tunnel syndrome
• lung problems including bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, emphysema
• rhinitis, sinusitis, ear infections, laryngitis, hay fever
• varicose veins, peripheral vascular disease, blood clots, arterial plaque
fibromyalgia, cystitis, fibrocystic breast disease
• headaches and vascular migraines
• inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s
• pain and inflammation from trauma (e.g. sprains) and surgery

Despite the safe and amazingly successful use of serrapeptase over 50 years, there are few controlled studies published, so it is underutilized in North American medicine. I have two brands of serrapeptase with 60,000 and 120,000 SU strength.

For more information, download Redfern's free ebook "The Miracle Enzyme".

Note: this is an update from #217 Serrapeptase – the Anti-inflammatory Enzyme [May 20, 2013].

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

October 9, 2017

441 EPA not DHA [9 Oct 2017]

The two most important Omega-3 essential fatty acids for our health are Ecosapentanaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA). Both are found in fish oil supplements. As I alluded to in a column last month [#438 Nutrients for Mental Health] EPA is the critical one for mental health.

EPA has been found to be the more effective of the two for depression. A meta-analysis published in 2011 in J Clin Psychiatry found that supplements with an EPA:DHA ratio of 3:2 or higher with doses of 200 to 2,000 mg per day were effective in treating depression, and the higher the ratio, the more effective it was. A 2013 study in Eur Neuropsychopharmacol found that EPA but not DHA improved depression symptoms in adults already taking antidepressant drugs. Another study found that fish oil worked better than Prozac for depression, but both together worked better than either alone.

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is another condition where Omega-3’s show promise. An Australian study published in J Dev Behav Pediatr in 2007 found significant improvement in attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. A review and meta-analysis published in 2011 in J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry found a modest but significant reduction in ADHD symptoms with Omega-3 supplementation and concluded that because of its “benign side-effect profile” it “may be reasonable to use omega-3…to augment …pharmacologic interventions or for families who decline other psychopharmacologic options”. Another study [J Atten Disord 2009] found that after 6 months of Omega-3 supplementation, 47% of the children in the study had a reduction of ADHD symptoms to near normal. Of 12 studies on high EPA supplementation for ADD, 11 showed positive results. Of five studies using DHA, only one showed a positive result, and that showed improvement in only 7 of 16 possible markers.

Dr. Philip Rouchotas, ND, of Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario finds that 1,000 mg of omega-3 daily of a 2:1 ratio fish oil with works best for most conditions but mental health and mood disorders require a higher EPA:DHA ratio with 1,000 mg of EPA. He prefers capsules to liquid as the oil is better protected from oxidation. Rouchotas also finds that the ethyl ester form works as well as the triglyceride form, is less expensive, and allows much higher potency per capsule.

Most of the fish oil supplements in my store are slightly higher in EPA than DHA or at best 2:1. A new line I just brought in has a general purpose 2:1 ratio formula and a higher 10:1 ratio formula with 1,000 mg EPA for healthy mood balance.

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

October 2, 2017

440 Magnesium Supplements [2 Oct 2017]

Magnesium is a critical mineral that few of us get enough of in our diet so supplementation is required. I have written about it several times over the years: Magnesium – a Crucial Mineral [#209]; Magnesium – Getting Enough [#210]; Magnesium Bisglycinate [#216]; and Magnesium for the Brain [#350]. This week I will compare the different forms of magnesium supplements.

There are two problems with magnesium supplements. First, magnesium is difficult to absorb in our intestines. And the magnesium that isn’t absorbed causes loose bowel movements. Now that may be a good thing when we’re constipated, but we don’t want to go too far!

There are three main types of magnesium supplements: inorganic salts like oxide and carbonate; organic salts like citrate, lactate, gluconate and malate; and protein complexes like bisglycinate and threonate. Generally the organic salts are better absorbed than the inorganic salts, so you get more magnesium into your body and a lower laxative effect. Because much of the magnesium is absorbed by passive diffusion, the absorption rate depends on its solubility which means that a liquid (or powder dissolved in hot water) is better absorbed than a capsule.

Recent research has shown that magnesium citrate, taken as a powder, has as good or better absorption as bisglycinate. Magnesium threonate is also well absorbed and has the added advantage of crossing both the blood-brain barrier and the mitochondrial membrane, improving brain function and increasing cellular energy production.

To summarize:
• Oxide – least expensive, poorest absorbed, strongest laxative effect
• Citrate capsules – inexpensive, better absorbed, mild laxative effect
• Citrate powder – more expensive, well absorbed, mild laxative effect
• Bisglycinate – more expensive, well absorbed, little or no laxative effect
• Threonate (Magtein) – more expensive, well absorbed, no laxative effect, enters brain

I personally take one each of magnesium bisglycinate and threonate daily, at different meals, along with a calcium-magnesium (citrate & oxide).

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

September 25, 2017

439 Iron Toxicity [25 Sept 2017]

Do you know what your iron levels are? If not, you should. And not just because of anemia. While iron deficiency can be a problem – mostly for children and pregnant or menstruating women – excess iron is actually more common and much more dangerous.

High GGT, a test for free iron, is the “single measure most predictive of early mortality” by the life insurance industry. GGT (gamma-glutamyltransferase) is a liver enzyme that indicates free iron levels and predicts risk of sudden cardiac death. A more common test is serum ferratin which measures iron stores.

High iron levels increase your risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis (including gout). Some iron is necessary for energy production in the mitochondria [see #302 January 2015] but too much means trouble. Excess iron combines with hydrogen peroxide in the mitochondria to form hydroxyl free radicals which cause severe damage to the mitochondria. Mitochondrial dysfunction is the root of most chronic degenerative diseases.

According to Gerry Koenig, Director of the Iron Disorders Institute, the ideal range of serum ferratin for adult men and post-menopausal women is 30 – 60 ng/ml. The ideal GGT is less than 16U/L for men and less than 9U/L for women; levels above 25 (men) and 18 (women) significantly increase your risk for chronic disease. The medically accepted “normal” ranges for both tests are much too high for chronic disease prevention.

If you find your iron is too high, take steps to reduce it. Eat less red meat and take vitamin C and alcohol away from iron-rich foods (both of which increase iron absorption). Avoid iron supplements and choose iron-free multivitamins. Foods and supplements which increase glutathione [#318 May 2015] will lower GGT. Curcumin chelates iron and will prevent its absorption in the gut. A detox program could help pull iron out of stores and assist your liver to excrete it.

Regularly donating blood is an excellent way to manage iron stores. If for some reason you are unable to donate to Canadian Blood Services, talk to your doctor about other options. Perhaps the medieval doctors were on to something with their blood-letting and leeches (but most of the time did far more harm than good).

Source: Serum Ferratin and GGT - Two Potent Indicators You Need to Know, mercola.com

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

September 18, 2017

438 Nutrients for Mental Health

One in five Canadian adults are on a prescription drug for a mental health problem. The most common – depression, anxiety and insomnia – frequently occur together. Nutritional supplements can greatly benefit people with these mental health issues. The protocol varies slightly depending on whether they are on a prescription or not.

For those already on a mental health prescription, the following have proven beneficial and completely safe:
• Fish oil with high EPA (e.g. 1000 EPA, 200 DHA)
• Vitamin D 2,000 IU (more if blood levels low)
• Good multi or B complex with bioactive form of B vitamins
• Melatonin (adjust to individual need)

For those not on prescription meds, use the same fish oil and vitamin D with these additional natural products:
• Melatonin or an herbal/nutrient sleep aid
• Anti-stress and mood elevating formulas that may include: bioactive B vitamins, choline, & inositol; amino acids L-theanine, L-tryptophan, PABA, 5-HTP, GABA, & SAMe; and botanicals like ashwagandha, valerian, passionflower, rhodiola & holy basil.

Be cautious with herbs if you are taking a prescription drug as they can affect the rate of drug processing by the liver and change the drug’s effective potency.

The ratio of EPA to DHA in fish oil is critical. For almost all situations, oils with higher EPA (at least 2:1) work better, especially for mood. Oils with higher DHA have been shown to worsen mood and aggression. This holds for children with ADD – the high EPA formulas help; the high DHA ones do not, and could worsen symptoms.

Omega 3 fish oil is often under-supplemented. At low doses (250-900 mg total EPA+DHA) it is has been shown to reduce the risk of sudden coronary death. But at higher doses (2,000-4,000 mg) it also reduces risk of non-fatal coronary events (angina); improves blood lipid values (triglycerides & cholesterol); and reduces pain and inflammation (arthritis, etc.). 1000-3000 mg of 2:1 EPA:DHA is ideal for neurodegenerative conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s & MS.

Source: "Mental Health" webinar by Philip Rouchotas MSc, ND, September 11, 2017, sponsored by New Roots Herbal

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

September 11, 2017

437 Astaxanthin Review [11 Sept 2017]

I first wrote about astaxanthin in May 2011 [#115] and mentioned it again as a supplement for supporting eye health in July 2013 [#224].

Then this morning Donna’s cousin Joe shared the link to a 2014 review of the benefits of astaxanthin in the MDPI journal Marine Drugs. He has been using astaxanthin as part of his recovery protocol from stage 4 prostate cancer. In Joe’s words “without this supplement I could not function…I would literally be bedridden without it.”

I have been taking it myself, along with several other vision support supplements, to prevent macular degeneration.

The review reported that astaxanthin:
• is a carotenoid from marine phytoplankton which gives salmon and flamingos their pink color;
• increases its absorption when taken with fish or krill oil;
• is a strong antioxidant and protects lipids and proteins (including DNA) in our cells from oxidative damage;
• increases the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase;
• reduces inflammation in several systems of the body including stomach, lungs and eyes;
• prevents UV skin damage from sunlight;
• protects the pancreas and kidney cells from oxidative stress and improves insulin sensitivity in diabetics;
• is a “potential therapeutic agent against atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease” [link];
• through its antioxidant effect, shows promise in prevention and treatment of cancers;
• shows promise in animal studies of increasing antibody production;
• is safe with no side effects reported at up to 20mg per day for adults [I’m taking 8mg].

The authors conclude “Astaxanthin showed potential effects on various diseases including cancers, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, liver, neurodegenerative, and skin diseases.” They call for more research on the metabolic pathways of neutraceutical and pharmaceutical uses. But we don’t have to wait – we can start taking advantage of astaxanthin’s many health benefits today.

Further reading: Life Extension article on astaxanthin immune support

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

September 4, 2017

436 Natural Treatments for Sepsis [4 Sept 2017]

Sepsis is a potentially fatal inflammatory immune reaction to a bacterial infection in the blood. It can lead to multiple organ damage, failure, and ultimately death.

In developing countries sepsis is the leading cause of infant mortality, killing one million infants worldwide each year. Even in the USA, sepsis occurs in 1 million people annually, commonly acquired in a hospital, and mortality is close to 50%. Sepsis kills more Americans than breast cancer, colon cancer and AIDS combined. Fortunately two effective natural treatments have been recently discovered.

Feeding probiotics to healthy babies was found to dramatically reduce the risk of developing sepsis. A randomized controlled trial in rural India, where infant mortality from sepsis is common, was carried out with a strain of Lactobacillus plantarum. Cases of sepsis dropped from 9% to 5.4%, a 40% reduction. Other infections were reduced as well. The treatment worked so well the researchers stopped the study early so that all the infants could benefit. The treatment costs about $1.00 per baby.

In contrast to the $1 treatment, hospital treatments for sepsis cost Americans over $24 billion annually. But that could soon change. Dr Paul Marik of the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in East Virginia discovered an inexpensive and effective treatment for sepsis – intravenous vitamin C. In a clinical study the vitamin C, combined with a cortisone drug and thiamine (a B vitamin), reduced mortality from 40% to 8.5% (and the few that died did so of their original condition, not sepsis).

Malik’s hospital has already made this vitamin C protocol the standard treatment for sepsis and many hospitals are following. A large scale field trial is underway to validate the findings, opening the door for more widespread adoption of the treatment. Since there are no other effective treatments and no negative side effects from this inexpensive protocol, there is really no good reason not to.

It is my hope that the proven success of intravenous vitamin C for sepsis will encourage researchers to take another look at its use in treating other infectious diseases like influenza, encephalitis and polio, and certain cancers, where intravenous vitamin C has shown great promise but remains controversial.

Mercola newsletter: Probiotics Offer Powerful Protection Against Sepsis in Infants 28 Aug 2017
NPR Report: Probiotic Bacteria Could Protect Newborns from Deadly Infections 16 August 2017
Dr Paul Marik's study in CHEST June 2017
Dr Paul Marik lecture "CCR17 for Sepsis" (34 minutes) - fairly technical, aimed at medical scientist audience but contains useful info
NPR Report "Doctor Turns Up Possible Treatment for Deadly Sepsis" 23 March 2017

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