April 27, 2015

316 Stress & Anxiety [27 April 2015]

Stress is defined as the non-specific response to change, which often affects mental and physical health. Stress is unavoidable and some stress is in fact essential to life. Where it becomes a concern is when chronic stress keeps us in the “fight or flight” response 24/7.

Chronic stress is a factor in almost all disease – particularly physical conditions like muscle tension, pain, and fatigue, and mental or emotional conditions like depression, OCD, and anxiety. Natural health products have been formulated to manage the stress response before it causes mental or physical disease. These include ingredients like:
• Melissa (lemonbalm) – increases GABA in the brain
• Rhodiola – moderates neurotransmitter activity
• Ashwagandha – reduces the amount of cortisol needed for stress response
• L-theanine – promotes mood balance and relaxation, increases alpha brain waves
• Choline – precursor for many neurotransmitters
• Inositol – modulates serotonin activity in the brain
• 5-HTP – supports theanine in mood regulation

Anxiety is a mental health condition which is often a reaction to stress. The normal emotions of worry and fear take over our lives and lead to mental and physical symptoms. The first natural health product licensed by Health Canada specifically for anxiety includes:
• Passionflower – relieves feelings of anxiousness
• Ashwagandha – reduces stress and nervousness
• L-theanine – promotes relaxation, reduces tension & anxiety
• American ginseng – supports brain function and memory
• Holy basil – improves resistance to stress

Why let stress and anxiety take over your life when you can manage them safely and effectively with all-natural products.

Source: www.veeva.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.

April 20, 2015

315 Methylation [20 April 2015]

Methylation is an important biochemical process involved in most functions of your body. Methylation is the addition of a methyl group (CH3) to a molecule. In an article published on MindBodyGreen.com, nutrition consultant and member of the Institute of Functional Medicine Michelle Corey lists nine functions in which methylation is involved:
• Stress response
• Glutathione production & recycling
• Inflammation
• Neurotransmitters – brain function & mood
• Detoxification – breakdown & disposal of toxins
• Energy production
• Repair of free radical damage
• Immune response – fighting infections and controlling auto-immune diseases
• DNA repair and genetic expression

Impairment of methylation due to a shortage of methyl groups or the enzymes that facilitate the process leads to many different types of illnesses, as you can imagine from the above list. These include heart disease & stroke, some cancers, certain birth defects, inflammatory bowel disease, other inflammatory and auto-immune diseases, and neuropsychiatric conditions.

To help prevent these conditions, or reduce their symptoms, Corey lists some tips for improving methylation:
• Take a B vitamin complex, especially folate; all are methyl donors
• Methylfolate and methylcobalamin are methylated forms of B10 and B12 respectively
• Eat 2 cups daily of dark green leafy vegetables which contain folate
• Take probiotics to improve gut flora which produce and absorb B vitamins
• Reduce stress and toxic exposure (avoid alcohol, smoking, other chemicals)
• Increase glutathione production (see #304 Feb 2, 2015; more on this in a future post)

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 13, 2015

314 Home Birth Safety [13 April 2015]

It’s nearly six years since I wrote about midwifery (#11 May 2009). At that time the Saskatchewan Midwifery Act was only a year old. Saskatchewan now has 15 practicing midwives, located in Saskatoon, Regina, Fort Qu’Appelle, and Swift Current. See saskatchewanmidwives.com for more information on the practice of midwifery in the province.

A recently published six-year study of midwife-assisted home births in the USA (J. Midwifery & Women’s Health) compared outcomes of nearly 17,000 planned home births with matched low risk planned hospital births. A review of the study by the Midwives Alliance of North America summarized the results:
“Home birth mothers had much lower rates of interventions in labor. While some interventions are necessary for the safety and health of the mother or baby, many are overused, are lacking scientific evidence of benefit, and even carry their own risks. Cautious and judicious use of intervention results in healthier outcomes and easier recovery, and this is an area in which midwives excel. Women who planned a home birth had fewer episiotomies, Pitocin for labor augmentation, and epidurals. Most importantly their babies were born healthy and safe.”
One significant finding was that the caesarian rate for women planning home births was only 5.2% (10.9% of women planning home births transferred to hospital for various reasons) compared to the U.S. national average of 31% for full term births. The Canadian average in 2012 was slightly lower at 29%. The World Health Organization recommends a caesarian rate of no more than 10 to 15%. Caesarians, while convenient (and lucrative) for doctors and hospitals, carry some risk and are associated with poorer health outcomes for both baby and mom.

The study concluded: “Low-risk women [who planned midwife-led home births] experienced high rates of physiologic birth and low rates of intervention without an increase in adverse outcomes.”

For insight into the home birth movement see the documentary “The Business of Being Born” at thebusinessofbeingborn.com (or watch for free on YouTube).

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 6, 2015

313 Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver [6 April 2015]

Fatty liver disease is a common condition in people who regularly consume alcohol. In the last few decades it has also become common in people who drink little or no alcohol; in these people it is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). A fatty liver is defined as one with fatty deposits make up 5% or more of the liver.

In North America up to 20% of adults and 10% of children have this condition, but most do not know it. In many people there are no signs or symptoms and it is only discovered by routine liver function tests.

The cause of NAFLD is uncertain, but it is associated with obesity (especially abdominal fat), insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood pressure. It is of concern because it can progress to inflammation, liver scarring, and more serious liver disease. Certain medications and high consumption of simple carbs, especially fructose, are linked to NAFLD.

There is no standard medical treatment for NAFLD. Dietary changes, exercise and weight loss are typically recommended. Diet recommendations include: avoidance of alcohol, high-fructose corn syrup, and trans-fats; elimination of all processed foods; and increase in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good fats and proteins. Cruciform vegetables (cabbage family) are especially beneficial for the liver. Some practitioners recommend juicing raw vegetables. There are also many supplements which support liver health:

• N-Acetyl Cysteine – precursor to glutathione
Alpha-Lipoic Acid – a powerful antioxidant
Vitamins E and C, certain B vitamins, magnesium
Turmeric – natural anti-inflammatory
• Herbs like milk thistle, dandelion root, artichoke, garlic
Coffee drinking in moderation is beneficial for the liver

A protein-sparing ketogenic weight loss program deals with many of the associated conditions – obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia – so could be one approach to reversing NAFLD.

Mayo Clinic
Canadian Liver Foundation
Dr Mark Hyman

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.