July 27, 2015

329 Curcumin & Cancer [27 July 2015]

I first wrote about curcumin, an extract from the spice turmeric, last November [#294] where I discussed its anti-inflammatory effects as being helpful with rheumatoid arthritis pain. I hinted that it was being studied for other purposes including cancer – that is the topic that I wish to explore this week.

Dr. William LaValley practices what he calls “evidence-based molecularly-targeted anti-cancer treatment” in his clinics in Nova Scotia and Texas. This is a common practice in oncology but LaValley is unique in using some natural products in the treatments, including high dose 95% curcumin extract. He learned about curcumin and other botanical extracts from China and combines them with conventional pharmaceuticals in his treatments. Interestingly Dr. LaValley also uses a ketogenic diet in his cancer treatments as cancer cells are very glucose dependent.

LaValley was surprised to find that curcumin, because of the large number of pathways that it affects (more than 100), was effective on almost every type of cancer. Even better, curcumin selectively targets cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unaffected. He also found that curcumin works synergistically with some chemotherapy drugs, enhancing their ability to kill cancer cells.

Curcumin affects cancer in 5 ways:
• Inhibits transformation of normal cells to cancer cells
• Inhibits tumor formation
• Inhibits proliferation of tumor cells
• Inhibits angiogenesis (growth of blood vessels to feed the tumor)
• Promotes apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells

Dr. William LaValley is willing to consult with physicians who wish to incorporate curcumin or other natural therapeutic agents in the treatment of cancer patients. Keep in mind that despite the promising histological and animal studies, and LaValley’s extensive clinical experience, there have not yet been (to my knowledge) any controlled trials of curcumin in the treatment of human cancer.

Dr. Mercola - 2014/03/02 article on curcumin and Dr LaValley's work
Mercola interview with Dr. LaValley
Dr. LaValley CV

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

July 20, 2015

328 The Sunshine Vitamin [20 July 2015]

This is a compilation from several previous posts on Vitamin D. We’re getting some hot sunny days now so optimizing D synthesis while protecting from sunburn is important.

The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun. But for most of the year in Saskatchewan, unless you use a safe sunlamp or take a holiday in the tropics, supplementation is the only way to keep your D levels up.

The UVB rays necessary for vitamin D synthesis can only penetrate the atmosphere when the sun is at 50° or more above the horizon. For our latitude this occurs only from mid-April to mid-August. At the beginning and end of this period there is about a half hour “window” centered on 1:15 pm (which is the “sun-noon” for Rosetown’s longitude). For most of June the “window” extends from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm. On sunny days outside these time “windows”, and on cloudy days, you can still get a sunburn (and increase your risk of skin cancer) from UVA, but you can’t make any vitamin D.

How can we optimize our vitamin D while protecting ourselves from sunburn and possible skin cancer? Expose as much skin area as possible, without SPF sunscreen, for 10-15 minutes during the peak UVB window. Stop before the skin turns pink. As you tan throughout the summer the length of exposure can gradually increase. Don’t wash exposed skin with soap for 48 hours after exposure to allow the vitamin D to be absorbed (washing with plain water is fine).

Cover up with a hat and clothing or use sunblock the rest of the time. The two safest and effective ingredients for blocking the more harmful UVA rays are zinc oxide and titanium oxide which block both UVA & UVB radiation. Remember glass and clouds block UVB but not UVA so you can get a sunburn in your car or on a cloudy day but you can’t make vitamin D.

Regular low intensity sun exposure does not increase the risk of melanoma and actually lowers the risk of many other cancers. Studies have linked higher exposure to UVB with lower rates of 20 different cancers. Optimum vitamin D levels also appear to protect against sunburn – many people (myself included) find that since taking D supplements they don’t sunburn as easily.

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

July 13, 2015

327 Leptin Resistance [13 July 2015]

I have previously written several times about the role of insulin and insulin resistance in weight gain but there is another compound involved called leptin.

Leptin, sometimes called the “satiety hormone”, was discovered in 1994. It is secreted by fat cells and tells our brain that we have enough stored energy. It reduces our appetite and promotes the burning of fat for energy. Leptin resistance occurs when this message is blocked, resulting in food cravings, continued fat storage, and eventually obesity. Leptin resistance can also be a factor in female infertility.

Several factors contribute to leptin resistance:
• excess dietary sugar, especially fructose
• high insulin levels
• high triglyceride levels
• inflammation
• MSG (SHN #135)
• lack of sleep
• stress
• low calorie diets that are not ketogenic (your body thinks it’s starving)

So what can we do to reverse leptin resistance?
• greatly reduce simple carbs and processed foods
• eat adequate protein and healthful fats
• avoid between meal snacks to give your liver a rest
• exercise (but don’t overdo cardio)
• get at least 8 hours of restful sleep
• lower insulin levels (e.g. with a ketogenic diet)

Leptin resistance is recognized as a key risk factor for obesity (Zhou & Rui, 2013). Identifying the causes and taking steps to reverse it will make any weight loss program easier to follow and much more effective. The ketogenic diet we use in our Rosetown weight loss clinic doesn’t specifically address leptin resistance but does indirectly deal with the factors causing it, particularly insulin levels, triglycerides, inflammation and dietary sugar.

MindBodyGreen post by Barbara Komorek
Wellness Mama post
WebMD article
Dr. Mercola interview with Dr Richard Johnson
Dr. Richard J Johnson book "The Diet Switch"
Y. Zhou and L Rui technical article Front Med 2013 Jun: 7(2) 207-222

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

July 6, 2015

326 Fermenting Vegetables [6 July 2015]

As a young child I remember my mother making sauerkraut in a 5 gallon crock in a corner of the kitchen. She probably did so as a way to preserve cabbage for winter use, not realizing the health benefits from the bacteria used in the fermentation process.

I recently found a recipe online for fermenting not just cabbage but many other vegetables. And a special starter culture with bacterial species that produce vitamin K2 – an essential vitamin for preventing (and reversing!) both osteoporosis and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Why make and eat fermented vegetables? They’re loaded with probiotics – the good bacteria of which we are only now beginning to learn all the benefits. One small serving of fermented vegetables contains more good bacteria (about 10 trillion) than an entire bottle of high potency probiotics (and for a fraction of the price!). The vitamin K2 content (approx 500mcg per serving) is an added benefit. So one serving of this food can replace two expensive yet essential supplements.

There are four basic steps to producing your own fermented vegetables.
1. Select, clean, and shred the vegetables: cabbage, carrots, sweet potato, yellow beets, apple, bell pepper, parsley, cilantro, ginger root and garlic.
2. Juice celery to make the “brine” (salt is optional). Use 1 part juice to 10 parts vegetables. Stir in a small amount of the starter culture to the celery juice. Pour the brine/starter solution over the shredded vegetables and mix well.
3. Pack the mixture into glass jars (avoid plastic and metal containers) and tamp firmly to remove any air pockets. The brine should cover the vegetables. Top with a piece of cabbage leaf. Screw lid on loosely, allowing gases to escape.
4. Allow the jars to sit for 4 days to a week at room temperature. When ready, refrigerate but don’t freeze. It will keep for several months.

Introduce the vegetables gradually into your diet, working up to ¼ to ½ cup servings as your digestive system tolerates it. It has the feel and consistency of coleslaw and, I expect, should taste somewhat like sauerkraut.

I have ordered some of the K2 starter culture and we will try our hand at making fermented vegetables over the summer. I’ll let you know next fall how it turns out. Anyone care to join us on this adventure? A jar of starter culture goes a long way.

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