January 30, 2017

405 Testosterone & DHT [30 January 2017]

An article in this morning’s National Post (January 24) prompted this topic. It reported on a University of Toronto study that found male pattern baldness was twice as accurate in predicting risk of prostate cancer than the latest DNA test. A previous study from Australia found a link between prostate cancer and vertex balding (at the top of the head) but not frontal balding (receding hairline).

The link between baldness and prostate health is not new – we’ve suspected for years that bald men are more likely to have prostate problems. The link is the male hormone testosterone (T) or, rather, the more active form dihydrotestosterone (DHT). An enzyme called 5 alpha reductase converts T to DHT. DHT is essential for male development in the fetal stage and at puberty, and plays a few roles in adults, but excess DHT causes problems. Both male pattern baldness and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate, are strongly linked to high DHT levels.

Back in 1941 two researchers Charles Huggins and Clarence Hodges discovered that testosterone “activated” prostate cancer and concluded that reducing testosterone would treat it. Decades of prostate cancer treatments have been based on this idea, called the “androgen hypothesis”.

That theory is only recently being questioned. Research by Dr. Abraham Morgentaler at Harvard Medical School found the opposite to be true – that the lower the testosterone levels, the higher the risk of prostate cancer. His results make more sense – testosterone levels peak at age 20 and decline with age while prostate cancer risk increases with age. A literature search found no evidence to support the androgen hypothesis over the past 75 years. Morgentaler explains: “The persistence of the androgen hypothesis despite strong contradictory evidence teaches us how difficult it is to abandon ideas learned during our training, even in this age of evidence-based medicine.”

While the effect on cancer is uncertain, both male pattern baldness and enlarged prostate can be improved by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Several natural products are known to safely block the 5 alpha reductase enzyme responsible: saw palmetto, Pygeum bark, stinging nettle root, beta sitosterol, pumpkin seed oil and green tea. Several of these are often combined in “prostate formulas” which are available in health food stores. I wrote about these and other natural products for BPH in #158 (March 2012).

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

January 23, 2017

404 Vitamin D News [23 Jan 2017]

The days are slowly getting longer but we are still months away from even beginning to get any vitamin D from sunlight which will start mid-April. This week I will share several news items about this critical vitamin.

A large multi-ethnic cohort study published in Molecular Psychiatry found that maternal vitamin D deficiency (less than 25 nmol/L) during pregnancy was associated with a 3.8 times higher rate of autism-related traits in the children at 6 years of age. Other studies have shown vitamin D deficiency to nearly double the risk of premature birth.

An animal study published in Frontiers in Physiology suggests that vitamin D could play a role in preventing Metabolic Syndrome by modulating gut microbiota. Previous studies have shown an association between D deficiency and obesity, insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), all part of Metabolic Syndrome. Mice fed a high fat, low D diet developed unhealthy gut flora, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, NAFLD, and elevated levels of inflammatory markers compared to the high fat, adequate D diet group.

In a randomized clinical trial, relapse rates for Crohn’s Disease patients were 33% for those receiving 10,000 IU vitamin D and 69% for those taking 1,000 IU. This strongly suggests that Crohn’s sufferers do better with higher D levels.

In a randomized controlled trial published in the journal Medicine, 120 adults with fatigue and vitamin deficiency (less than 50 nmol/L) received either a single dose of 100,000 IU vitamin D or placebo. The vitamin D group reported more significant improvement of fatigue than the placebo group.

Finally, William Grant of the Vitamin D Council calculated the benefits of raising the vitamin D levels of all Canadians to at least 100nmol/L. Levels currently vary with age and season but average 61 nmol/L with 92% (summer) and 96% (winter) below the target level. Based on published studies, Grant estimated reductions in incidences of cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, MS, respiratory infections and musculoskeletal disorders. He then calculated a reduction in annual premature deaths of 23,000 and a saving of $12 billion per year. New evidence of stronger effects of D on the risk of Alzheimer’s and clinical depression would push these numbers even higher. What are we waiting for??

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

January 16, 2017

403 Humic & Fulvic Acids [16 Jan 2017]

I have a rather unique supplement on my shelves that I wanted to learn more about so chose it for my topic this week. Humic and fulvic acids are organic compounds found in soil, peat, and water sediments. A particularly rich deposit in New Mexico dating from the Cretaceous Period (100mya) is mined to create a supplement for human use.

The main ingredients are humic and fulvic acids. The supplement also contains traces of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, plant enzymes and other organic compounds (organic in the chemical sense meaning that it contains carbon).

Humic and fulvic acids are known to benefit human health in many ways:
• Source of trace minerals in a readily available organic form
• Stimulates mitochondrial production of ATP
• Protects mitochondrial membranes from oxidative damage
• Reduces loss of ATP and CoQ10 levels during heavy exercise
• Acts as prebiotic feeding good bacteria in the gut
• Reduces pain and inflammation
• Improves immunity by increasing T-lymphocytes and neutrophils
• Inhibits viral infections including rhinoviruses, influenza and Herpes simplex
• Increases elimination of toxic heavy metals while improving absorption of nutritional metals like iron and zinc
• Blocks stress hormones
• Increases oxygenation of the blood

Here are how these benefits are experienced by users:
• Relief from joint pain and stiffness
• Reduced soreness and faster recovery from work or sports activity
• Increased energy & stamina
• Improved immunity from colds and flu
• Improved mood, reduced anxiety, increased alertness
• Most people noticed the benefits in 1 or 2 weeks

In over 10 years of research, humic and fulvic acid supplements have been found to be completely safe and do not interfere with any medications.

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

January 9, 2017

402 Curcumin Formulas [9 January 2017]

I have written about curcumin in each of the last three years: #294 Curcumin – Nature’s Painkiller (Nov 2014); #329 Curcumin & Cancer (July 2015) and #384 Curcumin & Alzheimer’s (Aug 2016).

Curcumin is the powerful extract from the spice turmeric with documented benefits of reducing inflammation, providing cellular antioxidant protection, and reducing risk factors for chronic degenerate diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. A major problem with curcumin is its low bioavailability, meaning poor absorption from the intestines and short retention time in the blood. Scientists have developed four curcumin formulas with enhanced bioavailability: BCM-95, Meriva, Longvida and Theracurmin.

The BCM-95 formula combines curcumin extract with turmeric essential oils and claims to be 7 times more bioavailable than regular turmeric extract. I wrote about BCM-95s anti-inflammatory and pain-killing effect in #294.

Curcumin in the Meriva formula is combined with phosphatidylcholine from lecithin and claims to be 29 times more bioavailable than regular curcumin extract.

Longvida was developed at UCLA using what the developers called Solid Lipid Curcumin Particle Technology. It delivers “free curcumin” into the bloodstream, which is the most effective form. Longvida claims to be a whopping 95 times more bioavailable than regular turmeric extracts. Longvida also has the distinction of being the only patented curcumin extract proven to cross the blood-brain barrier which makes it the preferred choice for people with dementia or depression.

Theracurmin’s particles are super fine and mixed with a vegetable gum which forms a colloid suspension in water. Theracurmin claims to be an amazing 300 times more bioavailable than regular curcumin powder.

Black pepper, Boswellia and olive leaf extracts are often added to curcumin formulas. Black pepper makes the curcumin better absorbed. Boswellia is related to frankincense and has anti-inflammatory properties which works well with curcumin. Olive leaf extract is a natural antibiotic and antifungal which assists your immune system in fighting and preventing illness.

Any one of these curcumin formulas will work well. Which will work best for you will depend on your purpose for taking it.

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

January 2, 2017

401 Sulforaphane [2 January 2017]

Sulforaphane is a beneficial compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. I just learned about it watching a 46 minute video by Dr. Rhonda Patrick titled “Sulforaphane and its Effects on Cancer, Mortality, Aging, Brain and Behavior, Heart Disease and More”.

I mentioned the health benefits of broccoli in my very first column back in March 2009 [#001]; recommended eating your broccoli raw in September 2012 [#184]; and encouraged chewing your broccoli to produce sulforaphane in November 2014 [#293]. This column adds information from recent research on the beneficial compounds found in cruciferous vegetables.

Studies show that risk of death from all causes (other than accidents) is reduced by 16% in those eating more vegetables of all kinds, and by 22% for those eating more cruciferous vegetables. The life-saving ingredient in the vegetables is believed to be a group of compounds called isothiocyanates of which sulforaphane is the best known. Sulforaphane indirectly regulates over 200 genes responsible for increasing antioxidant activity and reducing inflammation, important with all chronic degenerative disease. This translates into reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and aging, and improved brain function.

For example, studies have found that sulforaphane reduces the risk of prostate cancer by 41%, bladder cancer by 51%, lung cancer in smokers by 55%, and breast cancer by 20-40%. And if you already have cancer, taking sulforaphane will slow the progression of the disease. Sulforaphane also aids in the detoxification and excretion of carcinogens such as benzene (from auto exhaust and tobacco smoke).

Most of the all-cause mortality reduction found in the cruciferous study was due to fewer cardiovascular deaths. Sulforaphane reduced triglycerides and oxidized blood lipids, lowering the atherogenic index (risk of plaque formation) by 52%.

Sulforaphane crosses the blood-brain barrier where it reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, implicated in most neurodegenerative diseases and in traumatic brain injury. Sulforaphane has been shown to improve behavior with autism and schizophrenia, and improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, and shows promise for depression and anxiety.

All cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane but the best source is fresh broccoli sprouts. The vegetables and sprouts don’t actually contain sulforaphane – they contain its precursor glucoraphanin along with the enzyme myrosinase which converts it to sulforaphane. Crushing or chewing the food mixes the enzyme and glucoraphanin, initiating the conversion process. High heat, as in prolonged boiling, destroys the myrosinase enzyme.

Some glucoraphanin is converted, in the presence of epithiospecifier protein (ESP), to an inactive form of sulforaphane. ESP is inactivated by heating. To maximize the sulforaphane production you want to heat the food enough to destroy the ESP but not the myrosinase. This can be achieved by steaming vegetables for 3-4 minutes or by soaking the vegetables in hot water at 60C, or sprouts at 70C, for 10 minutes. Patrick demonstrates heating sprouts in this video.

Remember to chew the vegetables and sprouts well. About 100g of sprouts provides 40mg of sulforaphane, an optimal amount.

My NY’s resolution is to grow and eat broccoli sprouts. Want to join me?

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