May 27, 2013

218 Triphala [27 May 2013]

Triphala is an Ayervedic herbal compound whose name means “three fruits” in Sanskrit/Hindi. Ayervedic is a traditional herbal medicine from India. The three medicinal fruits making up Triphala are: amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki. Together, these three herbs have many uses and benefits:
• Blood cleanser
• Gentle, effective, non-habit forming laxative
• Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral
• Effective antioxidant
• Reduces high blood pressure
• Stimulates production of bile
• Helps with hemorrhoids and gallstones
• Aids blood circulation and supports heart function
• Lowers high cholesterol
• Cleanses and improves function of the liver
• Expectorant - clears mucus from lungs and respiratory tract
• Improves reproductive health in men and women
• Helps regulate menstrual cycle in women
• Improves eyesight
• contains a unique heat and age-stable vitamin C
• animal studies have found it promising in cancer treatment

With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why Triphala is the most popular Ayervedic herbal in India. Thanks in part to Dr Oz, it is also becoming popular in North America. Triphala is most effective when taken as a tea but is also available in tablets or capsules.

Triphala should be avoided during pregnancy and by underweight people as it promotes weight loss. Also avoid if taking blood thinning medication. Possible (temporary) side effects from the cleansing action include intestinal gas, diarrhea, nausea, and headaches.

The Dr. Oz Show
East West School of Planetary Herbology - Alternative Medicine

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

May 20, 2013

217 Serrapeptase – the Anti-inflammatory Enzyme [21 May 2013]

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 interactions with any drug. He has found it safe in pregnancy, breastfeeding (it helps with engorged breasts), and with bleeding disorders (the Canadian label requires a warning to check with your physician if 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 (eg sprains) and surgery

Despite the safe and amazingly successful use of serrapeptase over 40 years, there are few controlled studies published, so it is underutilized in North American medicine. I carry serrapeptase but my supplier recently had their product refused an NHPN number (and I expect other brands will have as well) so it will soon be unavailable in Canadian stores.

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

May 13, 2013

216 Magnesium Bisglycinate [13 May 2013]

Since I wrote about magnesium a month or so ago (#209 Magnesium – A Crucial Mineral; and #210 Magnesium – Getting Enough) I have learned about a new form of this critically important mineral.

Magnesium bisglycinate – magnesium attached to two glycine molecules – has several advantages over other forms of magnesium. It is absorbed faster and more efficiently than other forms. It is better utilized by the body and hence more effective in filling magnesium’s many roles. And it avoids the laxative effect of magnesium, especially at high doses. It is available in powder or capsule form.

To review, you should consider supplementing with magnesium if you:

• are pregnant or breastfeeding to prevent pre-eclampsia, reduce risk of gestational diabetes, and prevent muscle cramps
• suffer from Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue
• have ADD or ADHD – to reduce symptoms
• have Type 2 diabetes – to improve insulin response
• want to increase bone strength – to convert calcium to hydroxyapatite, the form found in bones and teeth
• want to reduce cholesterol (without side effects)
• have high blood pressure, heart disease or abnormal heart rhythms
• suffer from headaches or migraines
• are stressed out and need to relax
• have trouble sleeping
• suffer from PMS – to reduce cramping and other symptoms
• have loss of appetite or nausea
• have muscle spasms and cramping
• are taking more calcium than magnesium (check your cal:mag ratio)
• are taking vitamin D – Mg is required for proper metabolism of D

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

May 6, 2013

215 Beet Juice & Blood Pressure [6 May 2013]

Two recent studies have brought the humble beet root vegetable back in style.

A small controlled trial in Melbourne Australia with 15 men and 15 women was published in December 2012 in Nutrition Journal. It found that a single dose of 500ml beet juice significantly lowered blood pressure, at least temporarily. The reduction was greatest for the men, lowering the systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 4 or 5 points.

In April 2013 a smaller study from London England was published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension. Eight women and 7 men with mild hypertension were given a single dose of 250ml beet juice or a placebo, and monitored over 24 hours. The beet juice lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both men and women by about 10 points. The reduction was greatest after 3-6 hours but was still measurable after 24 hours.

The ingredient in beet juice believed responsible for the reduction in blood pressure is the nitrates which are converted in the body to nitric oxide (NO). See my columns #180, 181 & 182 from August & September 2012 on NO. Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessel walls, lowering blood pressure. Other sources of nitrates include leafy green vegetables, especially spinach.

Beet juice has been used by athletes to increase endurance and has many other health benefits from the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it contains. For example, beets are high in iron which I wrote about last week. There are some cautions however. Due to beets’ high oxalate content, people who are prone to kidney stones or gallstones should check with their physician before taking beet juice. An allergic reaction to beets is possible but rare.

Beet roots and leaves can be cooked but for best nutrition they should be juiced raw. You can juice your own beets, along with other vegetables like carrots or fruit like oranges and apples to improve the taste. Beet juice is also available in health food stores as concentrated liquid or dehydrated crystals. For best effect, take the beet juice on an empty stomach and “chew” the juice to mix it with saliva.

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