April 28, 2014

265 Glyphosate – more toxic than DDT? [28 April 2014]

I just listened to an interview with Dr. Don Huber, a professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University. Huber’s five decades of agriculture research on soil-borne plant pathogens (disease-causing micro-organisms) has made him very concerned about the increasing use of glyphosate (Roundup®) pesticide.

Glyphosate is more than a herbicide – it was first patented as a mineral chelating agent and also as a powerful antibiotic. By taking certain minerals – calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese – out of the plant’s biochemical pathways, glyphosate makes it more susceptible to disease organisms, and it is the disease that actually kills the weeds.

As an antibiotic glyphosate also kills the beneficial soil bacteria (by disrupting certain amino acid pathways) that keep the disease organisms in check, so their populations explode. [I’d like to hear from farmers if they have found that regular crops are more susceptible to diseases on land that has been previously sprayed with glyphosate.]

Glyphosate has now been shown to accumulate in the edible parts of food crops and has been measured in blood, urine and breast milk of North Americans. It has been shown to lower the nutrient mineral content of food from crops sprayed with glyphosate. But more significant is its effect on our gut flora. As with the soil, glyphosate from our food preferentially destroys beneficial bacteria in our gut, causing many different health problems.

Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff in a paper published in April 2013 in the journal Entropy explain the physiological effects of glyphosate and link it to many modern chronic diseases. They explain that, as the industry claims, glyphosate’s acute toxicity is minimal, but its long-term chronic toxicity is a different story. Glyphosate toxicity has been documented for kidney cells at 10 ppm, liver at 1ppm, and the endocrine hormone system at 0.1 ppm, all of which are many times lower than toxicity levels of DDT. [Tobacco is another substance with low acute, but significant chronic, toxicity.]

So maybe glyphosate is more toxic than DDT!

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

April 21, 2014

264 Omega-7 a beneficial fatty acid [21 April 2014]

Omega-7 is a family of mono-unsaturated fatty acids of which palmitoleic acid is the most common. I first wrote about this nutrient two years ago in an article on Seabuckthorn.

Recent research (mostly animal studies so far) has found this oil to have many benefits:
• promotes burning of body fat for energy
• improves blood lipid levels (cholesterol)
• prevents atherosclerotic plaque by keeping artery walls smooth and non-sticky
• reduces C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation
• increases insulin sensitivity thus helping to prevent metabolic syndrome
• protects insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells
• beneficial for the mucous membranes of the digestive, urinary and reproductive systems
• promotes growth of healthy skin, hair and nails
• supports wound healing

Omega 7 is abundant in only a few foods: Seabuckthorn berries, macadamia nuts, and some cold water fish like anchovies and wild salmon. It is available in supplement form as Seabuckthorn berry oil and in so-called “Purified Omega-7” oil made from fish.

Michael Roizen, MD promotes supplementation with the “purified omega-7” which is free of palmitic acid. This is important, he claims, because palmitic acid, found in Seabuckthorn oil, increases inflammation. The Seabuckthorn promoters counter that this is just a marketing ploy and that palmitic acid, especially in small amounts along with other fatty acids, is actually beneficial. And they remind us that Seabuckthorn is still the richest known source of omega-7.

Other scientists like Irena King, PhD of the U. of New Mexico advises caution in the use of any omega-7 supplement: “I think we’re way too early for supplements of omega-7—way too early. The studies haven’t figured it out yet.” Instead she suggests simply including macadamia nuts in your diet.

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

April 14, 2014

263 Coffee – our favorite herbal beverage [14 April 2014]

More good news for coffee lovers.

The Singapore Chinese Health Study, published this month in the journal Hepatology found that those who drank 2 or more cups of coffee had 66% lower risk of dying from non-viral cirrhosis of the liver. Alcohol, not surprisingly, had a “strong dose-dependent positive association between amount of alcohol and risk of cirrhosis mortality” which simply means the more you drink the more likely you are to die from cirrhosis. Drinking black or green tea, fruit juices, or soft drinks neither increased nor decreased the cirrhosis mortality rate.

This adds to a growing list of benefits of coffee consumption. A 2013 study from Japan found that 5 oz of coffee increased blood circulation by opening blood vessels and reducing inflammation, reducing risk of heart attack and stroke.
Other research has found that drinking coffee:
• protects against Parkinson’s Disease
• reduces risk or delays onset of Alzheimer’s Disease
• lowers risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
• lowers risk of liver and prostate cancers
• offers a slight protection against heart failure
• improves cognitive function (lets you think better).

For some of these benefits like the protection from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, it’s the caffeine that does the trick. For others it’s the high levels of antioxidants found in coffee – decaf seems to work as well as regular.

Like most things, moderation is key. Most of the benefits reported occurred with 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day (although it took 4 cups to protect against prostate cancer in one study). Drinking 5 or more cups, however, could do more harm than good, causing problems such as anxiety, high blood pressure and heart palpitations.

We shouldn’t be too surprised by this good news—after all coffee is our nation’s favorite herbal beverage.

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

April 7, 2014

262 Massage Therapy for Neck Pain [7 April 2014]

There have been few good scientific studies of massage therapy but that is changing. A recent study published in the Annals of Family Medicine is a good example.

Karen Sherman at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle looked at the effectiveness of massage therapy for neck pain. A previous study had found that benefits of massage were evident after 4 weeks. This time Sherman wanted to determine the optimum length and frequency of massage treatments.

228 adults, age 20 to 64, were randomly assigned to six treatment groups: 30 minutes 2 or 3 times weekly, 60 minutes 1, 2 or 3 times weekly, and an untreated control group. Neck pain was assessed a week after the 4 week treatment period. The researchers determined that those getting one hour of massage three times a week experienced the greatest benefit. Compared to the control group, Sherman reported “people getting massage three times a week were almost five times as likely to have a clinically meaningful improvement in function and over twice as likely to report a clinically meaningful decrease in pain.”

The author cautioned about applying this study to other age groups – since the youngest person in the study group was 20 and the oldest 64, she couldn’t say if younger or older people would respond in the same way. And Sherman didn’t say anything about other types of soft tissue pain (back, arm, leg, foot, etc.) but in my experience massage is equally effective for treating these – it just wasn’t addressed in this study.

So what can we learn from this study? If you are suffering from neck pain, give massage therapy a try. There are 5 or 6 massage therapists in Rosetown (last count) ready and willing to help you. Get at least two hour-long treatments a week. And don’t quit too soon.

My neck is sore from typing this article – I think I need a massage!

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