December 18, 2017

451 CO2 & Plant Nutrients [18 Dec 2017]

Irakli Loladze, an American mathematician with an interest in biology, discovered a previously unsuspected effect of rising carbon dioxide levels. As atmospheric CO2 rises, plant growth and carbohydrate (mostly sugars) content increase, while the protein and mineral contents decrease.

It was well known that nutrient content of food crops had dropped significantly in the last 50 years – a USDA study published in 2004 showed changes in nutrient levels of 43 garden crops from 1950 to 1999. But these changes were attributed to breeding of new crop varieties for yield [and taste] rather than nutrient content.

Loladze demonstrated that in addition to crop breeding, rising CO2 levels also played a role in the observed nutrient losses. As CO2 levels rise, photosynthesis speeds up, increasing carbohydrate production at the expense of protein and nutrients like vitamins and minerals. In experiments with cereal grains and potatoes, increased CO2 resulted in reductions in protein, calcium, potassium, zinc and iron. These changes are predicted to put millions of people at risk of dietary deficiencies. There is also concern that the increased sugar content of plant foods will contribute to the rising epidemics of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

To eliminate the plant breeding factor, pollen samples from wild goldenrod plants dating back to before the industrial revolution were tested, and found to have declining protein content with rising CO2 levels.

Two large studies were published in 2014 which supported the theory of a rising carbohydrate to minerals ratio. Samuel Myers, a climate researcher at Harvard University, and his team published a study in Nature which showed that protein, iron and zinc dropped in key crops grown in Japan, Australia and the United States. On the same day Loladze published the results of 15 years of data on samples from 130 varieties of plants, showing that minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron were reduced, on average by 8%.

That 8% may not seem significant but it will grow as CO2 levels continue to climb through the rest of this century. It is just one more effect to consider along with all the other effects of climate change. Still, in my opinion, this nutrient loss is overshadowed by the deliberate reduction of nutrients in food processing in order to make our food tastier, more convenient, and cheaper.

Source: The great nutrient collapse, by Helena Bottemiller Evich, The Agenda,, 2017

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

December 11, 2017

450 PCOS [11 December 2017]

PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a common cause of infertility in women. PCOS is a metabolic condition in which there is an excess of estrogen and androgens (male hormones) leading to a variety of symptoms: irregular or absent ovulation, a higher risk of miscarriage, hair loss (male pattern baldness), excess facial hair, acne, fatigue, and mood swings. Conditions frequently associated with PCOS include: insulin resistance, hyperinsulinism, diabetes, weight gain, and hypertension. PCOS is the most common hormone dysfunction of women of reproductive age, affecting an estimated 10% of women.

PCOS is believed to begin with a diet high in simple carbohydrates which leads to insulin resistance and hyperinsulinism. High levels of insulin activate the androgen receptors on the ovaries which causes an increase in male hormones. The male hormones prevent the mature egg follicle from releasing the egg during ovulation, causing infertility. Normally the follicle releases the egg and then attaches as a corpus luteum which triggers production of high amounts of progesterone as a normal part of the ovulatory cycle. When the egg is not released, the follicle attaches to the ovary as a “cyst”, and little if any progesterone is produced. The lack of progesterone leaves estrogen dominant which thickens the uterus and increases the risk of endometrial cancer.

The most important approach to treating PCOS is to deal with the insulin resistance, hyperinsulinism, and excess weight. With high insulin levels, a ketogenic diet is the easiest and safest way to shed the excess fat and eliminate insulin resistance. This should be followed by a healthy diet low in simple carbohydrates, sufficient exercise, stress reduction, and a detox program to support the liver and help it clear the excess hormones. Often this is enough to normalize hormones and restore fertility.

A nutrient that shows promise in treating PCOS is di-chiro-inositol or DCI (trade name ChirositolTM). Studies show that DCI normalizes insulin levels, reducing them when too high but doesn’t take them too low. It also elevates serotonin which reduces sugar cravings. According to the Lorna Vanderhaeghe website (which markets a ChirositolTM product, GlucoSmart), DCI “effectively reduces excess male hormones, reduces weight and appetite, and normalizes ovulation, thereby improving fertility” []. Note a 2011 review in Gynecol. Endrocrinol found the studies to date of insufficient quality for reliable conclusions regarding DCI as a treatment for PCOS.

John Lee MD Medical Letter July 1999, quoted in 2 Jan 2008

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

December 4, 2017

449 Medicinal Mushrooms [4 Dec 2017]

Medicinal mushrooms are commonly used in Japan (hence the Japanese names for many of them) but are underutilized in North America, mostly I think due to lack of awareness. Most of the research, including many human studies, have been done in China and Japan. I didn’t know much about them until I participated in a webinar on the topic by Dr. Philip Rouchotas.

The active ingredients in the mushrooms are various polysaccharides which are protected in the mushrooms by a chitin cell wall. Hot water or steam extraction works best to release the polysaccharides.

Coriolus, Reishi, Maitake, Shiitake and Chaga all have similar medicinal properties. Their most important role is assisting with advanced cancer treatment, taken along with chemotherapy and radiation. These mushrooms have been used in Japan for this purpose for over 30 years. Studies have shown that they:

• Stimulate activity of NK (Natural Killer) white blood cells to attack cancer cells
• Protect Neutrophils from destruction by chemo, allowing treatment to continue (if neutrophil count gets too low chemo treatment has to be stopped)
• Reduce side effects of chemo and radiation therapy including fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and insomnia
• Help maintain body weight during cancer treatment
• Increase length of remission and survival rates from cancer treatment

These five mushrooms also have anti-viral properties and have been shown in human trials to be effective with HIV, HPV and other viral, fungal and bacterial infections. They also help with conditions of severe fatigue like Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Cordyceps is another well studied mushroom, highly valued by the Chinese. An important use is in treating adrenal fatigue by balancing cortisol production. It improves symptoms of respiratory conditions including COPD. Cordyceps improves cardio-pulmonary function in elderly people, increasing their stamina.

Lion’s Mane is known as the “brain mushroom” because it stimulates nerve growth. It’s main use is with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and MS. Animal studies show that it increases growth of myelin making it a promising treatment for MS. Dr. Rouchotas considers it to be the most important supplement in treatment of brain injury such as concussion, along with fish oil, CoQ10 and Acetyl-L-Carnitine.

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