June 30, 2014

274 Natural Bug Repellent [30 June 2014]

With all the rain we have had this spring when it finally warms up the mosquitoes will be out in hordes. Since the coming of West Nile Virus they are no longer just a nuisance but a very real health hazard. Ditto for ticks and Lyme Disease. DEET is still the most effective repellent for both mosquitoes and ticks. Watkins insect repellent has a good reputation because it has the highest DEET content allowed by Health Canada.

There are also many natural options. Most natural repellents use one or more essential oils like citronella or peppermint. Two unusual ones that I carry are a repellent you wear (a wrist band impregnated with peppermint oil) and one you eat (a supplement called Mozi-Q). You can also make up your own with essential oils using Witch Hazel as a base.

Here is a recipe I found:
• 15 drops citronella
• 15 drops lemongrass
• 15 drops geranium (for tick protection)
• 10 drops lavender (optional)
• 10 drops tea tree oil (optional)
• 10 drops peppermint (optional)
• 10 drops cedarwood (optional)
• 355 ml Witch Hazel

Mix in glass jar and pour into spray bottle. Apply to exposed skin and rub in. Do not spray on face – apply to hand and rub on face carefully avoiding the eyes. Repeat application every 30 minutes to 2 hours as required. Health Canada recommends DEET and citronella repellents not be used on infants and toddlers.

Peppermint oil also makes an effective rodent deterrent. Put 15-20 drops on a cotton ball and place in areas out of reach of pets and children. You can also mix the oil with water and spray it along baseboards etc. Refresh regularly as the peppermint odor fades. It works well and smells better than mothballs.

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.

June 23, 2014

273 The Luxury of Organics? [23 June 2014]

I recently came across a commentary by Stuart Smyth, a research scientist at U of S, titled “Can world afford luxury of organics?” It was published in October 2013 on the Ag-West Bio blog site (www.agwest.sk.ca/blog) and reprinted in the November 28, 2013, Western Producer.

Smyth quoted a meta-analysis that concluded that organic yields are 34% lower than for conventional [chemical] farming. He then argued that with the world population expected to increase by 2 billion over the next 20 years, “the time has come to question the merits of continuing with an agricultural system that is critically inefficient” and that “organically produced food is a luxury that is only affordable to the upper-and-middle-income classes…”

If we accept Smyth’s implied premise that agricultural land should be used to maximize food production for a growing world, I wondered what other land uses – both within and outside of agriculture – should also be questioned. Here is my list:
• land used to grow tobacco (an easy target)
• grain grown for beer & liquor (perhaps not so popular)
• corn grown for high-fructose corn syrup (a cause of obesity)
• sugar beets for sucrose (much worse than just empty calories)
• wheat milled into white flour (devoid of nutrients)
• potatoes grown for fries (reduced if not negative food value)
• growing of any food that is over-processed before consumption
• land used for urban sprawl and wider highways

If we question whether we can afford organic farming, which at least tries to produce more healthful food products, we must also question these other practices which take land out of food production or reduce the value of food grown on it. I believe there is room for organic food production for those willing to pay the premium. I also believe that not all the social costs for conventional farming are included in the grocery bill.

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.

June 16, 2014

272 The Case for Multi Vitamins [16 June 2014]

The need for multi vitamins has never been greater. Despite the December 2013 Annals of Internal Medicine editorial admonishing us to “stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements”, there are plenty of studies showing a multitude of benefits. And there are many reasons why we can’t depend on our diet to get all our nutrient requirements.

First I need to emphasize that food supplements are meant to supplement a good diet, not replace it (that’s why they aren’t called food replacements). Having said that, despite our best intentions we often fall short of an ideal diet. Health Canada recommends 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily but Statistics Canada found in 2006 less than half of Canadians ate even five servings.

A Harvard study (JAMA 2002) concluded: “most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone. Pending strong evidence of effectiveness from randomized trials, it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.” While the evidence isn’t as strong as we’d like (due to reasons discussed in #250 & #251) there are many studies showing that supplementation protects against heart disease, mental decline, immune imbalances, diabetes and osteoporosis. See #252 for a short list of such studies.

Finally, here are some reasons why we may need more nutrients than we can obtain from our food:
• vegetables and grains grown on nutrient-depleted soil
• animals raised in confinement and fed nutrient-deficient food
• varieties bred for shelf life at the expense of nutrient content (#201)
• processing of food that removes or destroys nutrients
• greater environmental toxic exposure requiring greater need for antioxidant vitamins
• prescription drugs causing nutritional deficiencies (#29)

Source: lecture by Nelson Narciso (May 30, 2014) and his website keepwell.ca

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

June 9, 2014

271 My Supplement List [9 June 2014]

I am sometimes asked what I take for supplements and thought that would make a good topic for this week’s column. Here is the list of what I am currently taking on a daily basis – an even dozen supplements:
• Multi for Men 50+ to cover all the bases
• Vitamin C 2,000 mg – can’t put enough in a multi
• Vitamin D 5,000 IU in winter; 2,000 in summer
• Vitamin E – mixed tocopherols 730mg & mixed tocotrienols 100mg
• Calcium Magnesium 1,000 mg calcium + 500mg magnesium for bone and heart health
• Magnesium – additional 600 mg, to balance the calcium and to help me sleep
• Vitamin K2 200mcg – directs the calcium into the bones not my arteries or joints
• Fish oil for omega 3 EFAs provides 750 mg EPA and 500 mg DHA
• Prostate formula – lets me sleep through the night
• Eye health antioxidant formula – to protect against deteriorating vision
• Digestive enzyme – to ensure optimum nutrient assimilation from food
• Probiotic – to maintain a healthy gut flora

With the exception of Vitamin D, all of these are taken in divided doses between breakfast and supper for better absorption and more even assimilation. I frequently alternate brands to get a variety of nutrients.

In addition to the supplements, I also add a psyllium husk & flax fiber blend, hemp hearts, and chia seeds to my breakfast cereal. I sometimes snack on protein bars between meals.

There are many other supplements that I have taken or use occasionally as needed, such as: coenzyme Q-10 which is important for heart health and declines as we age; a green drink to provide trace minerals and phytonutrients; oil of oregano when fighting a cold; or a detox cleanse. And sometimes I forget to take my supplements so maybe I need ginkgo or phosphatidyl serine for my memory!

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

June 2, 2014

270 Atherosclerosis & Vitamin C [2 June 2014]

Among his many accomplishments, Linus Pauling developed a theory and treatment for atherosclerosis – the formation of artery plaque.

Pauling believed that cardiovascular disease begins with a vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C makes up an integral part of cell walls, including blood vessels, and a deficiency weakens the walls making them more susceptible to damage. Damaged vessel walls are repaired with deposits of plaque which can build up and eventually impair blood flow to the heart.

Plaque is composed of many substances including fibrinogen, cholesterol, lipoproteins and other fatty molecules. A specific lipoprotein, LPa, acts as the glue to hold the plaque to the artery walls. Receptor sites for the amino acids lysine and proline on the LPa molecules account for its stickiness.

Pauling’s treatment was high doses of vitamin C (he preferred ascorbic acid over ascorbates) and the amino acids lysine and proline. Vitamin C increases the strength of the blood vessel walls, preventing further damage, and also prevents lipid peroxidation and LDL oxidation which contribute to atherosclerosis. The two amino acids fill the LPa’s receptor sites making them less sticky and also help vitamin C with collagen production, necessary for strong blood vessel walls. This protocol not only prevented atherosclerosis from getting worse but after about a year on the program began to reverse it as the amino acids broke up the plaque and the vitamin C repaired the damaged artery walls.

Pauling’s therapeutic protocol used very high doses: 10-18 g daily of ascorbic acid (to bowel tolerance), 5-6 g of lysine and 2 g of proline. Dr. Gifford-Jones’ formula (Medi-C Plus), based on Pauling’s protocol, uses 2-4 g vitamin C and 1.3-2.6 g lysine. This may still seem like a high dosage but it’s not really. I have previously written about vitamin C (#33 Vitamin C & Immunity) – how most animals except humans and apes are able to produce their own C and do so in much higher quantities than we can supplement. A 1993 study from the Research Institute at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children showed that the daily requirement for lysine – from diet & supplements – is 37 mg per kg body weight (at 90kg I would need 3364 mg or 3.4g lysine).

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