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June 19, 2012

Snoring - Natural Remedies

HELP FOR SNORING

Snoring can disturb sleeping patterns, occasionally leading to sleep apnea, a potentially life threatening breathing condition. Sleep apnea can cause abnormally low blood oxygen levels leading to chronic fatigue, irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, memory loss and strokes. Habitual snorers are three times more likely to get into a car accident than the rest of the population. Snoring is associated with the accumulation of secretions in the back of the throat combined with tissue swelling. This produces a partial airflow obstruction with narrowed airways leading to unwanted, noisy sleep.

 

CAUSES

Poor muscle tone (lack of tightness) in the muscles of the tongue and throat caused by alcohol, drugs, tobacco smoke or other irritants.  Large tonsils, adenoids or excessive bulkiness of other tissues of the throat.  Being overweight (associated with excessively bulky neck tissues), excessive length of the soft palate and uvula obstructed nasal airways due to allergies, chronic infection or a deviated nasal septum.  Dood allergies, most commonly to milk, dairy products, eggs, wheat, chocolate, citrus or soy cysts or tumors (rare).

TREATMENTS

Adopting an athletic life-style with daily exercise and weight loss, if overweight. Avoidance of drugs affecting the nervous system, especially tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime.  Avoidance of alcoholic beverages. Avoidance of meals within 3 hours of retiring. Establishing regular sleeping patterns. Sleeping sideways rather than on the back, tilting the entire bed with the head upwards.  Food allergy testing and elimination of reactive foods.  UvuloPalatoPharyngoPlasty (UPPP) surgery on the throat and palate to tighten up flabby tissues and expand the air passages.

 

COMPLEMENTARY NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS

vitamin C, bioflavonoids, cayenne, slippery elm, echinacea, elderberry, eucalyptus, licorice root, ginger root, fenugreek, red clover and yarrow can all offer limited symptomatic relief.

June 18, 2012

Statins - Challenging the dogma

DRUGS YOU MAY NOT NEED & THEIR NATURAL ALTERNATIVES

 By Dr. Zoltan P. Rona

 Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practices Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of “The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.” He has also published several Canadian best selling books including “Return to The Joy of Health”. For more of his articles, seehttp://www.mydoctor.ca/drzoltanrona 

 

 CHALLENGING THE STATIN DOGMA

 Do we all suffer from a statin deficiency? Cholesterol lowering drugs are a $26 billion a year industry in North America. Statins are no less a medical dogma than the swine flu vaccine. Do we dare question it?

 The commitment by mainstream doctors to these drugs, in fact, is so powerful that many physicians themselves take one of the statins even though their cholesterol levels may be normal. In the past year alone, I have seen at least two dozen patients who were prescribed statins by other physicians, even though their blood levels of cholesterol were normal. In many cases the physicians prescribing the drugs boasted that they were taking the same prescription. 

 Few conventional MDs ever question the validity of taking statins. Ask anyone over 50 and there’s at least a 50% chance they take a statin of some kind. That’s all provided they are not a regular reader of this magazine. Unfortunately, statins may well be the biggest scam ever perpetrated upon an unwary public and the medical profession by Big Pharma. Big Pharma spends big bucks to make sure all doctors are continuously prescribing these money makers and great efforts are also made to minimize the significance of side effects.

 

Most Common Statins 

Lipitor (atorvastatin)

Zocor (simvastatin)

Pravachol (pravastatin)

Lescol (fluvastatin)

Mevacor (lovastatin)

Crestor (rosuvastatin)

 Statins are believed to be “preventive medicine” against heart disease but are they really? If one looks at actual statistics in the prevention of a first heart attack, statins only prevent 1% of first heart attacks over a period of 10 years. For every life saved by a statin an equal number of deaths occur that are caused by adverse reactions to statins in the form of accidents, infections, suicide and cancer (also 1% over 10 years). As a form of first heart attack prevention, statins are an ineffectual waste of money. The evidence for reduction of mortality is, at the very least, highly debatable. 

 

All statins work primarily by blocking an enzyme (HMG CoA reductase) in the liver that helps manufacture cholesterol. Unfortunately, this is the same enzyme the body uses to manufacture coenzyme Q10, the most important antioxidant for the cardiovascular system. Consequently, coenzyme Q10 tissue levels are lowered and numerous side effects occur.

 

If you suffer from Fibromyalgia, statins are definitely not for you. Statins have been proven to turn on the gene that causes muscle damage leading to atrophy (shrinkage) and wasting. It’s a given. Everyone (that’s 100% of the time) taking statins gets muscle damage. It’s just a question of degree. You may not have muscle pain or weakness now from taking a statin but you definitely have microscopic muscle damage.

 

The most serious form of muscle damage is called rhabdomyolysis (major muscle cell death) and is said to occur in only 1% of statin users. This damage is permanent and only partial relief is seen when the statin is stopped. At least 5 – 7% of statin users report varying degrees of muscle pain or discomfort. That percentage goes up to 10% in those using higher statin doses and to 25% in those engaged in regular vigorous exercise. These are facts based on research done using muscle biopsies. Let’s not forget that the heart itself is a muscle. Statin use has been shown to worsen the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure perhaps through this muscle wasting effect.

 

Cardiomyopathy is a known but under-reported side effect of statins and is thought to be due to a combination of statin induced coenzyme Q10 deficiency and the gene activation of muscle damage. Unfortunately, we cannot do biopsies as readily on the heart so heart muscle damage caused by statins could only be proven at autopsy. 

 

The nerve damaging effects of statins are also well documented. Memory and cognitive loss, neuropathy, anemia, cataracts, sexual dysfunction, liver dysfunction, fatigue, immune system weaknesses and mental depression side effects have often been reported. If you suffer from cancer and use statins, it’s time to rethink that repeat statin prescription.

 

Adverse Effects of Low Cholesterol

 Cholesterol has become unfairly synonymous with evil, disease and death. At least 85% of the cholesterol in your blood came from your liver’s own manufacture of it. If you consume high cholesterol foods, your cholesterol blood levels do go higher temporarily but the liver then manufactures less and eventually the blood levels go lower. Eliminate cholesterol entirely from your diet and the liver starts manufacturing more of it. 

 

Cholesterol blood levels can change significantly from one time of the day to another. In northern latitudes especially, higher levels of cholesterol are seen in the winter than summer, possibly because of the cholesterol lowering effect of vitamin D during the summer. Cholesterol goes high after an injury such as can occur with surgery. It can also go higher as a response to mental stress, an infection as well as during and after a heart attack. 

 

Why does the body go to such lengths to maintain cholesterol levels if it’s something that is so horrible? Are there good reasons to have adequate amounts of cholesterol in the body? Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes. Cholesterol is a healing or repair agent and the body makes more of it as a response to oxidant stress from numerous sources. For example, if you smoke cigarettes, your cholesterol level is likely to be high because the body needs protection against the toxins found in tobacco smoke. 

 

We are all exposed to toxins from food, water and air on a regular basis. The greater the toxin exposure, the more the body needs to protect itself. One of the mechanisms by which this occurs is the production of more cholesterol by the liver. Suppress that function with a statin and you risk developing degenerative diseases more easily.

 

Half of all heart attacks occur with cholesterol levels well within the normal range. This “normal” range has changed frequently over the past 30 years, going lower and lower and thus accommodating the hypothesis that just about everyone has too high cholesterol levels.

 

Cholesterol is an integral part of the structure of every cell in the body including the cells of all your blood vessels. Life would cease to exist without cholesterol. Cholesterol is used by the body to manufacture testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, cortisol and DHEA. Low levels of cholesterol could lead to deficiencies in these hormones and subsequent acceleration of aging.

 

Cholesterol insulates nerves and is responsible for healthy nervous system function. Many diseases of the brain and nervous system could be aggravated, if not caused by, low cholesterol levels. 

 

Cholesterol deficiency could lead to numerous digestive system problems because bile salts are made in the liver from cholesterol and bile salts are important for proper digestion. 

 

The body also manufactures vitamin D from cholesterol and, if cholesterol levels are low, a vitamin D deficiency could result. As we now all know, low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of getting cancer by as much as 60%. Could this be one of the mechanisms by which statin drugs increase cancer incidence? Low levels of vitamin D have been proven to weaken immunity.

 

The brain accounts for approximately a quarter of all the cholesterol in the body. The myelin sheath that covers every nerve in the body is made of at least one-fifth cholesterol. The communication between nerves and the integrity of messages between neurons is partially dependent on adequate cholesterol levels. The brain functions abnormally without adequate cholesterol because receptors for serotonin require cholesterol to work properly. Depression, violence, memory impairment and suicide are all more likely to occur.

 

It has never been conclusively shown that lowering cholesterol levels saves lives. Certainly, its efficacy in preventing a first heart attack is unproven. Lowering cholesterol can, in fact, be related to a greater death risk, especially from cancer.

 

Since the correlation between total cholesterol and heart disease is practically non-existent, a stronger correlation was sought many years ago. Hence the myth of a “good” (HDL or high density lipoprotein) and a  “bad” (LDL or low density lipoprotein) cholesterol was created. The truth is that cholesterol is just cholesterol. In the blood, it combines with other things like proteins simply because fat and water do not mix well and proteins are good carriers of fat molecules. 

 

The real cause of heart disease of almost any type is inflammation and not the levels of any cholesterol sub fraction. Where the inflammation comes from is the subject of great debate but there is growing evidence for an infectious disease source amongst many other theories. 

 

We are now being told more and more by Big Pharma and their puppets that statins are also anti-inflammatory and that the real reason they work in preventing heart disease is through their anti-inflammatory effect. Curcumin, omega-3 oils, vitamin E, vitamin C, digestive enzymes like pancreatin and bromelain and many other natural remedies are also anti-inflammatory and at a significantly lower price. Further, none carry any of the outrageous side effects seen with the statins.

 

What Are the Alternatives?

 High cholesterol levels are a response by the body to a variety of physical toxins and mental stress. Heredity also plays a part but can be overcome naturally. The first thing to do is find out what is really going wrong in the body? Is there an infection? Is something causing inflammation? What are the toxins that could potentially be involved? Is there a low thyroid condition? Does the person smoke cigarettes? Is blood sugar control out of balance? Is there little or no physical activity? Is there obesity? 

 

The next thing is to realize that eating a diet rich in antioxidants and as toxin-free as possible can lower high cholesterol levels naturally and without significant side effects. In 2003, a study done by the University of Toronto showed that a vegetarian diet (Ape Man Diet) was every bit as good at lowering abnormally high cholesterol levels as any drug.

 

It is also interesting that most of the supplemental nutriceuticals, antioxidants and herbs that have been shown to lower cholesterol accomplish this feat by neutralizing the toxic agents that stimulated the high cholesterol levels in the first place. Below is a list of things that can be done through diet and supplements to lower cholesterol naturally. Seeing a natural health care practitioner can help direct you in any changes you may want to make.

 

Diet

 The so-called Ape Man Diet (primarily vegan as demonstrated by what gorillas eat) has been demonstrated to lower cholesterol as well as any statin. But, can we really eat like apes?

 If you cannot fancy yourself as an ape, at least consume two or more servings of each of the following proven cholesterol lowering foods every day: 

 Soy products like tofu, tempeh and soymilk contain saponins which prevent the absorption of excess cholesterol from the gastrointestinal tract.

 

High pectin fruits like pears, apples, grapefruit and oranges also prevent cholesterol absorption. Drinking pomegranate juice also lowers cholesterol because of its antioxidants and polyphenols.

 

Garlic, onions, carrots, walnuts, almonds, oat bran cereal, milled (ground) flax seed, seaweed products like kelp, dulse and kombu lower cholesterol via their content of fiber, antioxidants and trace minerals.

 

Supplements

 Cholesterol lowering with most of these natural remedies can take 3 months or longer to achieve. Unlike drugs, side effects of such products are minimal.

 

Soluble fibers like psyllium, guar gum and pectin -15 grams or more daily.

 

Milled flax seed – 15 grams or more daily.

 

Curcumin – 1000 mg 3 times daily – strongly anti-inflammatory and liver protective. It aims at lowering inflammation, tissue damage and ultimately high cholesterol levels.

 

Omega-3 oils – 2000 mg twice daily - Prevent abnormal blood clotting and reduce the risk of heart disease. Higher doses may be required by some individuals.

 

Garlic – 1000 mg. or more daily – eating real garlic cloves is preferred but social interactions may necessitate the alternative use of supplemental capsules.

 

Coenzyme Q10 – 200 mg. twice daily – a strong multi-purpose antioxidant with especially good cardiovascular protective properties.

 

Niacin - 1000 - 3000 mgs. daily (N.B. niacin can cause a red or flushing reaction which is usually temporary and harmless which lessens with regular use; may cause liver irritation.

 

Inositol hexaniacinate - 600 - 1800 mgs. daily - a compound of niacin and inositol which does not produce flushing or liver toxicity but cost at least three times more than regular niacin.

 

Tocotrienols - 600 mgs. or more daily- a form of vitamin E originating from rice bran oil which blocks the cholesterol synthesizing enzyme in the liver. Most vitamin E complex formulae include tocotrienols as part of the complex.

 

Vitamin C - 3000-6000 mgs. - lowers cholesterol, regenerates and reactivates vitamin E. Vitamin C protects the body from oxidant stress, thereby lowering cholesterol.

 

Beta Sitosterol  -  (500 mg daily) Over 50 human and animal studies since the 1960’s and published in scientific journals, show that beta-sitosterol has a powerful hypocholesterolemic effect in humans. It has a similar chemical structure to cholesterol. Beta-sitosterol interferes with cholesterol absorption, which prevents the rise in serum cholesterol. In one study (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) there was 42% decrease in cholesterol absorbed when taking beta-sitosterol before eating scrambled eggs. Beta-sitosterol is also believed to reduce serum cholesterol by inhibiting the intestinal re-absorption of circulating cholesterol, which is secreted in the bile. 

 

Berberine – 1000 mg. 3 times daily – an extract of several herbs used for their antibiotic properties and cholesterol and triglyceride lowering ability. It also has antioxidant benefits.

 

Artichoke leaf extract – 1000 mg. 3 times daily – works by enhancing bile acid production by the liver from cholesterol.

 

Guggulsterones – 1000 mg daily – a resin from the Guggul tree with antioxidant properties but also able to lower cholesterol by regulating bile metabolism.

 

Ferulic acid – 1000 mg daily – lowers cholesterol by as yet an unidentified mechanism; known to be a strong antioxidant.

 

Green tea extract (Theaflavin) – 500 mg 3 times daily – a polyphenol derived from catechins found in green tea that has both cholesterol lowering and antioxidant effects.

 

Red Yeast Rice – 1000 mg twice daily – if you are between 50 and 75 years old and have proven coronary artery disease or have had a heart attack you may want to take this naturally occurring statin as an anti-inflammatory preventive remedy. Side effects are minimal according to a 2005 study.

REFERENCES

Krumholz HM and others. Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all-cause mortality in persons older than 70 years.Journal of the American Medical Association 272, 1335-1340, 1990.

Ravnskov U. High cholesterol may protect against infections and atherosclerosis. Quarterly Journal of Medicine 96, 927-934, 2003.

Rauchhaus M and others. The relationship between cholesterol and survival in patients with chronic heart failure. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 42, 1933-1940, 2003.

Horwich TB and others. Low serum total cholesterol is associated with marked increase in mortality in advanced heart failure. Journal of Cardiac Failure 8, 216-224, 2002.

Muldoon MF and others. Immune system differences in men with hypo- or hypercholesterolemia. Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology 84, 145-149, 1997.

Jun-ichi Hanai1, Peirang Cao1, Preeti Tanksale1, Shintaro Imamura2,3, Eriko Koshimizu3,4, Jinghui Zhao5, Shuji Kishi3, Michiaki Yamashita2, Paul S. Phillips6, Vikas P. Sukhatme1 and Stewart H. Lecker1 The muscle-specific ubiquitin ligase atrogin-1/MAFbx mediates statin-induced muscle toxicity J. Clin. Invest. 117(12): 3940-3951 (2007). doi:10.1172/JCI32741.

Jackson PR, Wallis EJ, Haq IU, Ramsay LE. Statins for primary prevention: at what coronary risk is safety assured? Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2001 Oct;52(4):439-46.

Vrecer M, Turk S, Drinovec J, Mrhar A. Use of statins in primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. Meta-analysis of randomized trials. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Dec;41(12):567-77.

Markus G. Mohaupt, MD, Richard H. Karas, MD PhD, Eduard B. Babiychuk, PhD, Verónica Sanchez-Freire, Katia Monastyrskaya, PhD, Lakshmanan Iyer, PhD, Hans Hoppeler, MD, Fabio Breil and Annette Draeger, MD. Association between statin-associated myopathy and skeletal muscle damage. CMAJ • July 7, 2009; 181 (1-2).http://www.ecmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/181/1-2/E11

Huang CF, Li TC, Lin CC, Liu CS, Shih HC, Lai M. Efficacy of Monascus purpureus Went rice on lowering lipid ratios in hypercholesterolemic patients. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2007 Jun;14(3):438-40.

Ziajka PE, Wehmeier T.  Peripheral neuropathy and lipid-lowering therapy. South Med J 1998;91:667-68. Gaist D, Jeppesen U, Andersen M, Garcia Rodriguez

LA, Hallas J, Sindrup SH. Statins and risk of polyneuropathy: a case-control study. Neurology 2002;58:1333-7.

Lin CC, Li TC, Lai MM. Efficacy and safety of Monascus purpureus Went rice in subjects with hyperlipidemia. D Eur J Endocrinol. 2005 Nov;153(5):679-86. 

Ragi E. Neuropathy from statins. BMJ 2001http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/eletters/322/7293/1019#17446

Golomb BA, Kane T, Dimsdale JE. Severe irritability associated with statin cholesterol lowering. QJM 2004;97:229-35.

Edison RJ, Muenke M. Central nervous system and limb anomalies in case reports of first-trimester statin exposure. N Engl J Med 2004;350:1579-82.

Oliver MF. Doubts about preventing coronary heart disease. Multiple interventions in middle aged men may do more harm than good. British Medical Journal 1992;304:393-394.

Ardiansyah, Ohsaki Y, Shirakawa H, Koseki T, Komai M. Novel effects of a single administration of ferulic acid on the regulation of blood pressure and the hepatic lipid metabolic profile in stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Apr 23; 56 (8):2825-30.

Englisch W, Beckers C, Unkauf M, Ruepp M, Zinserling V. Efficacy of artichoke dry extract in patientswith hyperlipoproteinemia. Arzneim.-Forsch. Drug Res. 2000; 50: 260-265.

Maron DJ, Lu GP, Cai NS, Wu ZG, Li YH, Chen H, Zhu JQ, Jin XJ, Wouters BC and Zhao J. Cholesterol-lowering effect of a theaflavin-enriched green tea: a randomized controlled trial. 2003. Arch Intern Med; 163(12): 1448-1453.

Urizar NL and Moore DD. Gugulipid: a natural cholesterol lowering agent. 2003. Annu Rev Nutr; 23: 303-313.
Yin J, Xing H and Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2008; 57(5): 712-717.

Sinatra, Stephen, MD. Clearing Up the Cholesterol Confusion

http://www.townsendletter.com/June2009/clearingcholesterol0609.htm

Joseph Mecola.The Dangers of Statin Drugs (a 3-part article)
http://www.mercola.com/2004/jul/28/statin_drugs.htm

Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. How Statins Work
http://www.westonaprice.org/moderndiseases/statin.html

The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS) (links to papers)
http://www.thincs.org/

Cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. Dr. Ron Rosedale.http://www.drrosedale.com/resources/pdf/Cholesterol%20is%20NOT%20the%20cause%20of%20heart%20disease.pdf

Can drinking pomegranate juice help lower my cholesterol?

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pomegranate-juice/AN01227

Curcumin's cholesterol-lowering mechanism proposed

http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Curcumin-s-cholesterol-lowering-mechanism-proposed

Ape Man Diet Lowers Cholesterol And Inflammation Markerhttp://www.futurepundit.com/archives/001516.html

Treatment of Statin Damage (aside from visiting a malpractice lawyer). http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/chris/2008/04/23/treatment_of_statin_damage.htm

June 05, 2012

The Ideal Multiple - How to Avoid the Hype & Gain Real Benefits

 THE IDEAL MULTIPLE

How to Avoid the Hype and Gain Real Benefits  

 By Zoltan P. Rona, M.D., M.Sc.  

 

It is estimated that close to 70 per cent of all Canadians and Americans take nutritional supplements regularly. In part, this is because of mounting scientific evidence supporting their use, as well as growing concerns about the quality of our food supply. Although much of our food is either genetically engineered, irradiated, chemically sprayed or otherwise adulterated, some health experts continue to hold on to the erroneous belief that diet alone can provide all our essential nutrition.  It cannot.

 

Studies indicate that approximately half of Americans (and most likely Canadians) suffer from marginal nutritional deficiencies. Some reputable scientists estimate that at least 80% of the public is deficient in vitamin D.  While it may be theoretically possible to get all of our required nutrients from diet alone, the fact is that most people in North America do not do so. Even if one consumes a carefully created and prepared diet that meets the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), scientific research now indicates that the “optimal” level of nutrients may be much higher than the currently published RDAs.

 

What Everyone Needs

 

Just about everyone needs to take at least a high quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplement as “insurance” against possible deficiencies. Unfortunately, many “natural” food supplements contain an awesome list of synthetic fillers, additives which are detrimental to health.  With some exceptions, pure vitamin and mineral chelates cannot be compressed directly into tablet form without the addition of binders, lubricants, diluents, disintegrators and colouring and flavouring agents.  Some national brands even contain saturated hydrocarbons such as paraffin or wax, which can be deposited in the plaque of individuals suffering from coronary artery disease.  People who use large numbers of vitamin and mineral tablets may actually be contributing to the diseases they are attempting to prevent.

 

The larger the tablet, the more it requires the use of binders such as hydrogenated oils (e.g., calcium or magnesium stearate). Time-release tablets are perhaps the most worrisome.  For example, the release of 1,000 mg of vitamin C over a period of six hours may require the addition of 400 mg of hydrogenated oil to the tablet.  Under the microscope, this oil looks almost identical to plastic. If you are a strict vegetarian, beware of gelatin-encapsulated supplements, which are derived from collagenous beef (bovine) or pork (porcine/swine) material. 

 

Most healthy people will have no obvious side effects from ingesting the small amount of toxins in vitamin or mineral tablets. Over 7 per cent of people, however, are sensitive to these chemicals.  Allergic reactions can affect any organ system in the body including the brain. This produces symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, depression, anxiety, hallucinations and insomnia.

 

When purchasing supplements, watch out for:

 

Propylene glycol – an antifreeze used in products such as windshield washer fluid, brake and hydraulic fluid. Documented to cause skin, liver and kidney damage.

Sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate – used in shampoos for their detergent and foam-building abilities, but also added to food supplements. Studies show that these additives react with the other ingredients to form cancer-causing nitrates and dioxins. 

Other potentially harmful additives – sodium benzoate, aluminum, BHT, BHA, tartrazine, lactose, peanut oil, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, titanium dioxide, polysorbate 80, microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate, red dye no. 33 and 40, ethyl cellulose, sorbic acid, fractionated coconut oil and cornstarch. The Centrum brand even contains toxic heavy metals such as nickel and aluminum, two minerals that are best avoided.

 

Purchase supplements in vegetable soft gel capsules, naturally compressed tablets, powders or liquids that contain the fewest possible additives. A good multiple supplement will always tell what’s also not in their product (especially wheat, dairy, yeast, eggs and other common allergens). Always check with the manufacturer and demand full disclosure before purchasing any food supplement.

 

What About Whole Food Supplements?

 

The science of nutrition has not yet discovered the complete range of vital nutrients found only in natural foods.  Live, whole food concentrates have the unique advantage of supplying the body with enzymes and cancer-preventing phytochemicals like carotenoids, indoles, isothiocyanates, isoflavones and phytosterols. These substances do not exist in any vitamin or mineral supplement.  Additionally, whole foods provide vitamins, minerals, amino acids, polypeptide hormone precursors and other nutrients that support the vital life force needed by all cells for optimal health.  

 

Examples of whole food supplements are as follows:

 

Spirulina

Chlorella

Blue green algae

Other green drinks or green food concentrates like barley green and green kamut

Bee pollen 

Whole leaf aloe vera juice

Nutritional yeast

Garlic

Desiccated liver

Wild yam extract

Kelp, dulse and other seaweeds in powder, tablet or capsule form

Various tissue concentrates like pancreatin and raw adrenal glandular concentrate

Wheat germ

Lecithin granules

Isoflavones from soy or kudzu

Milled flaxseed

Whole food concentrates of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.)

All herbs

 

Given our present state of knowledge, it’s very good health insurance to have one or more whole food supplements added to a daily multiple vitamin and mineral supplement.

 

A good multiple vitamin and mineral supplement cannot usually fit into a single tablet or capsule. Your supplement should contain at least the following levels of essential nutrients:

 

The nutritional needs of men are significantly different from those of women. This is because of hormonal, organ and metabolic differences between the two sexes.

 

You will notice below that the ideal men’s multi does not contain any iron. This is because, unlike women, men do not lose iron through menses every month. Men rarely, if ever, need iron in supplemental form. In fact, too much iron can be harmful in that accumulation of iron causes free radical oxidizing damage to numerous organs and is a risk factor for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. 

 

Men, especially as they age, often develop enlargement of their prostate gland. Herbs such as saw palmetto can prevent the prostate from enlarging. So, look for some saw palmetto in any ideal multiple for men.

 

The ingredients of an ideal multi for me are listed below. Look for these ingredients at your local health food store:

 

Product Name:Ideal Multi Caps for Men

Manufacturer:Purity, Potency and Freshness

Capsules per Serving:3 Veggie Capsules per day

 

IngredientsLABEL CLAIM    (per day)LABEL CLAIM      (per cap)

 (mg or as noted)

Vitamin A Palmitate2500IU833.3 IU

Beta Carotene 20%3000mcg / 5000IU1666.7 IU

Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), 100,000IU/g10mcg / 400IU133.3 IU

Natural Vitamin E (d-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate), 50%45mg AT / 100IU33.3 IU

Calcium ascorbate, 77% Vitamin C120mg40.0

Thiamin HCl, 78% Vitamin B125mg8.3

Riboflavin, 98% Vitamin B225mg8.3

Niacinamide, 99% Vitamin B325mg8.3

Pyridoxine HCl, 80% Vitamin B625mg8.3

Cyanocobalamin, 1% Vitamin B12100mcg33.3 mcg

Biotin 1%100mcg33.3 mcg

Folic Acid 10%500mcg166.7mcg

D-Calcium Pantothenate, 90% Pantothenic acid25mg8.3

  

Choline Bitartrate, 97%50mg16.7

Inositol, 98%50mg16.7

  

Calcium from:120mg40.0

Calcium citrate tetrahydrate, 20.5% Calcium 

Calcium carbonate, 40% Calcium 

Magnesium from:60mg20.0

Magnesium citrate hydrate, 11.2% Magnesium 

Magnesium oxide heavy, 60% Magnesium 

Potassium citrate, 38% Potassium15mg5.0

Zinc citrate dihydrate, 31% Zinc10mg3.3

Copper citrate hemitrihydrate, 36% Copper1mg0.33

Manganese Citrate, 28% Manganese2mg0.67

Potassium Iodide, 76% Iodine50mcg16.7 mcg

Chromium HVP Chelate, 10% Chromium200mcg66.7 mcg

Selenium HVP Chelate, 2% Selenium100mcg33.3 mcg

Molybdenum citrate, 1% Molybdenum25mcg8.3 mcg

Silica (silicon dioxide), 46% Silicon5mg1.7

Boron citrate, 5% Boron500mcg166.7 mcg

Vanadium citrate 1% Vanadium50mcg16.7 mcg

  

Milk Thistle, 80% Silymarin30mg10

Cranberry Concentrate powder10mg3.3

Green Tea Extract, 95% Polyphenols10mg3.3

CoQ1010mg3.3

Grape Seed Extract, 95% Polyphenols20mg6.7

Betaine Hydrochloride12.5mg4.2

PABA12.5mg4.2

Citrus Bioflavonoids, 27% Bioflavonoids30mg10

Quercetin30mg10

Billberry extract, PE 120:110mg3.3

Lycopene extract, 5%250mcg83.3 mcg

Rhodiola rosea PE, 3% Rosavins30mg10

Papain 48,000, 42000IU/mg3.5mg1.17

Lutein 5%250mcg83.3 mcg

Grape skin extract, 20%20mg6.7

Turmeric, 95%30mg10

Ashwagandha extract, PE 30:125mg8.3

Reishi mushroom extract, PE 8:15mg1.67

Shiitake mushroom extract, PE 10:112mg4.0

Stinging Nettle extract, PE 8:150mg16.7

Saw Palmetto extract 45%10mg3.3

Siberian Ginseng extract, PE 12:1200mg66.7

 

Below is an ideal multi for women. Notice that it contains evening primrose oil, something that supports female hormonal balance. The men’s multi contains saw palmetto, an herb known for its ability to prevent prostate enlargement.

 

Product Name:Ideal Multi Caps for Women

Manufacturer:Purity, Potency and Freshness

Capsules per Serving:3 Veggie Capsules per day

 

IngredientsLABEL CLAIM    (per day)LABEL CLAIM      (per cap)

 (mg or as noted)

 

Vitamin A Palmitate, 250,000IU/g5000IU1666.7 IU

Beta Carotene 20%3000mcg / 5000IU1666.7 IU

Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), 100,000IU/g25mcg / 1000IU333.3 IU

Vitamin E (d-Alpha Tocopherol acetate), 50%45mg AT / 100IU33.3 IU

Calcium ascorbate, 77% Vitamin C120mg40.0

Thiamin HCl, 78% Vitamin B125mg8.3

Riboflavin, 98% Vitamin B225mg8.3

Niacinamide, 99% Vitamin B325mg8.3

Pyridoxine HCl, 80% Vitamin B650mg16.7

Cyanocobalamin, 1% Vitamin B12100mcg33.3 mcg

Biotin 1%150mcg50.0 mcg

Folic Acid 10%1000mcg333.3mcg

D-Calcium Pantothenate, 90% Pantothenic acid50mg16.7

  

Choline Bitartrate, 97%50mg16.7

Inositol, 98%50mg16.7

  

Calcium from:150mg50.0

Calcium citrate tetrahydrate, 20.5% Calcium 

Calcium carbonate, 40% Calcium 

Magnesium from:75mg25.0

Magnesium citrate hydrate, 11.2% Magnesium 

Magnesium oxide heavy, 60% Magnesium 

Potassium citrate, 38% Potassium15mg5.0

Zinc citrate dihydrate, 31% Zinc10mg3.3

Copper citrate hemitrihydrate, 36% Copper1mg0.33

Manganese Citrate, 28% Manganese2mg0.67

Potassium Iodide, 76% Iodine50mcg16.7 mcg

Chromium HVP Chelate, 10% Chromium200mcg66.7 mcg

Selenium HVP Chelate, 2% Selenium100mcg33.3 mcg

Molybdenum citrate, 1% Molybdenum25mcg8.3 mcg

Silica (silicon dioxide), 46% Silicon5mg1.7

Boron citrate, 5% Boron700mcg233.3 mcg

Vanadium citrate, 1% Vanadium50mcg16.7 mcg

  

Milk Thistle, 80% Silymarin30mg10

Cranberry Concentrate powder10mg3.3

Green Tea Extract, 95% Polyphenols10mg3.3

CoQ1010mg3.3

Grape Seed Extract, 95% Polyphenols20mg6.7

Betaine Hydrochloride12.5mg4.2

PABA12.5mg4.2

Citrus Bioflavonoids, 27% Bioflavonoids30mg10

Quercetin30mg10

Rutin10mg3.3

Billberry extract, PE 120:110mg3.3

Rhodiola rosea PE, 3% Rosavins30mg10

Papain 48,000, 42000IU/mg3.5mg1.17

Lutein 5%200mcg66.7 mcg

Turmeric, 95%30mg10

Reishi mushroom extract, PE 8:120mg6.67

Shiitake mushroom extract, PE 10:112mg4.0

Maitake mushroom extract10mg3.3

Rosemary leaf extract10mg3.3

Evening Primrose oil powder150mg50.0

 

Highest Quality Supplements

 

According to recent reports in the Toronto Star and other lay media, many national brand nutritional supplements and herbal remedies available from health food stores and pharmacies contain little to no active ingredients. The only reliable manufacturing practice to guarantee that what’s on the label is actually in the bottle is called HPLC (high pressure liquid chromatography).  

 

High quality supplement manufacturers use HPLC and keep the chemicals, lactose and other additives out of their products to prevent potential allergic reactions.  These hypoallergenic supplements are also better absorbed. This is especially important in people over age 60, when stomach acidity and digestive juices are produced at lower levels. 

 

Finally, a high quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplement should be free of potential toxins such as lead, mercury, cadmium and aluminum. The manufacturer should be able to supply toxicology reports proving the purity of the supplement.

 

The Pros and Cons of MLM Supplements

 

Multi-level marketing (MLM) companies sell their products through individual distributors, who either resell at retail prices to the general public or at wholesale prices to their “down line” of distributors, who have “signed up.”  The layers of salespeople run from six levels to hundreds deep, depending on the company.  Commissions are made from the sales of distributors occupying positions below/under each salesperson.  The higher up you are on this money food chain, the greater the financial rewards. While technically, this is not pyramiding sales, it’s close enough to the shady practice to be of some concern. 

 

Studies done on the MLM biz indicate that the lion’s share of the cash filters up to the top 5 per cent of company executives. Over 80 per cent of the signed-up salespeople abandon the company, usually because of lower-than-expected incomes for the amount of time spent working. 

 

On the positive side, MLM companies market some of the highest quality nutritional supplements available.  Thousands, if not millions, of testimonials on product quality attest to this, as well as the spectacular growth of the MLM industry in general. Satisfied customers are the rule.

 

One major problem with MLM company products is the price.  As you can imagine, the need to provide sales commissions to multiple levels of salespeople drives up the cost of products. It’s not unusual to see an herbal remedy selling for five times the price of an equivalent product sold at health food stores or over the Internet.

 

Another disturbing point with some MLM products is their failure to disclose the dosages of various herbs or active ingredients on the label.  When questioned as to why any company would not want to say, for example, “saw palmetto - 25 mgs” on its label, the usual response is that the company’s formulas are a “trade secret.”  This may be fine for perfumes and cosmetics. However, people interested in health enhancement really do need to know the levels of various ingredients they consume from tablets or capsules.  Use MLM products at your own risk.

 

Hype, Fraud and False Hope Supplements

 

Critics of nutritional supplements often say, “If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true.”  The hype, false hope and outright fraud seen in the supplement industry are something I have had the occasion to study for over 33 years.  Here are some key things to watch out for:  

 

Be very careful if you use Chinese herbs, especially those coming in tiny pellets with hokey labels (“Arthritis Pills”) or with vague descriptions of the ingredients and amounts of each herb in the tablet.  Many of these products imported from Hong Kong are contaminated with lead, mercury, other toxic heavy metals, steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.  “Natural” is not always necessarily “safe.” As with all chemicals, nutrients and plant extracts taken in high enough doses and for long enough periods can be toxic.

 

Avoid colloidal minerals. Marketers of colloidal minerals have generated a great deal of hype. They insist their products are the easiest to absorb and that other forms of mineral supplements are just a waste of money.  Unfortunately, there is not a shred of evidence to support their claim.  

 

Colloidal minerals sold in liquid form contain between 1,800 and 4,400 ppm of aluminum, a recognized toxic heavy metal.  By contrast, food rarely contains even 10 ppm.  Whether or not the high aluminum content of colloidal minerals leads to Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological disorders is unknown. 

 

Do not buy any supplement containing “coral” calcium. Studies show that this form of calcium contains lead and other toxic heavy metals.

 

If you’re deficient in a mineral, your body will absorb a higher level of that mineral from any source including food, colloidal minerals, ionic mineral solutions or amino acid chelated minerals. The best example of this occurs during pregnancy, when just about any source of iron or calcium is absorbed in higher amounts than usual. This is because of normal homeostatic mechanisms in the gastrointestinal tract and elsewhere, which are aimed at maintaining an optimal blood level of the mineral in question.   

 

The human body is capable of extracting minerals from virtually any source. Many studies show that it matters not whether a mineral is “organic,” inorganic, chelated with amino acids, malate, picolinate, fumarate, ascorbate, etc. When consumed as a food or beverage, the absorption rate for minerals is the same given the condition and mineral levels of the individual before consuming that food or beverage.  

 

Colloidal minerals are, at best, a good supplement for some people who have difficulty swallowing pills. Beyond this, there is no proof they offer any advantages over other mineral sources.

 

My Best Advice on Supplements 

 

In the future, you will no doubt be approached to buy various natural health products to treat an ailment, feel better, look better, boost energy or reverse aging.  How can you tell whether or not the product is legitimate?  The best way to answer this is to consult a well-researched and documented reference text that contains reliable information and is not obviously attempting to sell you something.  

 

The worst place to look for such information is in a health magazine.  Most are designed to sell supplements and will rarely give the reader unbiased information.  The following is a list of the best factual references on nutritional and herbal supplements.  If you cannot find information on a particular product, consult a naturopath or holistic medical doctor for advice.  

 

Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practices Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of “The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.” He has also published several Canadian best-selling books, including “Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin.” 

 

 

References 

 

Alive Research Group; Gursche, Siegfried, Publisher; Rona, Zoltan P., Medical Editor. Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.  Vancouver: Alive Books, 1998.

Murray, Michael T.  Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Rocklin, Calif.: Prima Publishing, 1996.

Murray, Michael T.  Natural Alternatives to Over-the-Counter and Prescription Drugs. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1994.

Werbach, Melvyn R. Foundations of Nutritional Medicine.  Tarzana, Calif.: Third Line Press, 1997.

Werbach, Melvyn R. Nutritional Influences on Illness, Second Edition. Tarzana, Calif.: Third Line Press, 1993. 

Werbach, Melvyn R. Nutritional Influences on Mental Illness. Northamptonshire, England: Thorsons, 1991. 

Werbach, Melvyn, R. Textbook of Nutritional Medicine. Tarzana, Calif.: Third Line Press,  1999.

 

N.B. All of Dr. Werbach’s books are available from Third Line Press, 4751 Viviana Dr.,  Suite 102, Tarzana, California 91356, USA.  Phone: 800-916-0076;  fax: 818-774-1575.

 

June 03, 2012

Kidney Stones Prevention and Treatment

KIDNEY STONE PREVENTION & TREATMENT

The incidence of kidney stones is steadily increasing. In fact, it is 10 times more common now than at the turn of the century. It parallels the dramatic increase in the consumption of animal proteins. It also parallels the rise in other diseases (heart disease, gallstones, high blood pressure and diabetes) associated with the standard North American diet. Over 10% of all males and 5% of all females experience a kidney stone during their lifetime. Most victims are over 30 years of age.

Kidney stones are usually composed of calcium and oxalic acid. Less commonly, stones are made of uric acid (in people suffering from gout) and other mixed minerals and amino acids (especially cystine). It is important to determine the type of stone and its cause because this leads to a better designed prevention program. If a stone is passed and caught in the urine with the help of a stainer an analysis can be done by a lab to measure its mineral content. If this has not or cannot be done the alternative is to evaluate a number of criteria. These include diet, any underlying metabolic problems or diseases, blood and urine tests for calcium, uric acid, creatinine, electrolyte levels, 24 hour urinalysis for minerals, urine culture and hair mineral analysis. A combination of these things will usually determine the composition of the stone. Any physician can help you in this respect.

The majority of kidney stones are completely preventable. Once you have a stone, no diet or supplement can reverse the problem. You need medical attention but you can certainly do a lot to prevent the problem from getting worse.         Studies indicate that acute attacks of kidney stone pain that lead to hospital admission can be significantly reduced or eliminated by diet and nutritional supplement therapy alone. Occasionally, kidney stones may be the result of metabolic diseases such as hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism, cystinuria, vitamin D excess (caused by over-supplementation), the milk-alkali syndrome (caused by excessive use of dairy products or antacids), destructive bone diseases, primary oxaluria, Cushing’s Syndrome and sarcoidosis.

 

All stone formers should drink enough water to produce 2-3 quarts of urine daily. A recent study published in the British Journal of Urology found that about 19% of those diagnosed with kidney stones were suffering from chronic dehydration. A study done on tap water in 1989 concluded that the higher the magnesium to calcium ratio in the water, the lower the incidence of kidney stones.  Get an analysis done on the water you use for daily drinking. One laboratory that can do this for you is Anamol Laboratories (83 Citation Dr., Unit #9, Concord, Ont. L4K 2S4; phone:416-660-1225). It just so happens that most patients suffering from kidney stones benefit from magnesium citrate supplementation (300-400 mgs. daily). Magnesium increases the solubility of calcium oxalate and prevents precipitation in the urine. A large number of studies support its routine use as a stone preventive supplement.Irrespective of the type of stone you have, avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. This is because sugar, including the lactose found in milk, stimulates the release of insulin which, in turn, causes a higher calcium excretion by the kidney. Sugar increases the absorption of calcium from the intestines. Most kidney stone formers benefit from a high fiber, vegetarian (vegan) diet. This is because the metabolic breakdown products of animal proteins are uric acid and oxalic acid, both of which are involved in kidney stone formation. Red meat, in particular, is very high in phosphorus which causes the body to excrete more calcium into the urine. It is therefore not surprising that vegans have a 40-60% less chance of forming kidney stones than the average population.

Contrary to popular belief, high calcium intakes do not cause kidney stones but actually prevent them. If calcium absorption from the diet is adequate, the body has no need to dissolve the calcium in bone, raise the blood levels of calcium thence depositing this calcium into the kidneys. But, what about milk and dairy products? Aren’t they high in calcium and, if so, why are they associated with a higher kidney stone formation rate? The answer is that, although large amounts of calcium are indeed found in dairy products, absorption is often poor because of allergy, lactose intolerance, the high phosphorus content or the high fat content of dairy products. All this is evidenced by the fact that virtually all bone diseases, especially osteoporosis and kidney stones are worsened by high dairy product intakes. The calcium from greens, beans and other plant sources is far better absorbed and utilized in the body than it is from dairy products. Cultures from around the world who avoid dairy products have significantly lower or non-existent incidences of kidney stones, osteoporosis and arthritis.

Kidney stone victims that have a high calcium excretion in the urine should limit their intake of high animal protein foods, sodium, vitamin D and caffeine. A high intake of milk, cheese, and antacids for the treatment of peptic ulcers may all increase the predisposition to stones. Urologists have often joked that if every adult suddenly decided to quit dairy products the resulting decrease in the number of surgical procedures would quickly put them out of the kidney stone business.

In some individuals, a high salt intake from the diet results in increased losses of calcium from the urine leading to stone formation. Vitamin D increases calcium absorption from the gastrointestinal tract and releases calcium from bone leading to stone formation in susceptible individuals. Since milk is fortified with vitamin D, this becomes another potential reason for the high association between dairy product consumption and kidney stone incidence. Caffeine may also increase urinary calcium.

Oxalate stone formers should limit their intake of high oxalate foods but only if they are also consumers of animal proteins. High oxalate foods include beans, cocoa, coffee, parsley, rhubarb, spinach, tea, beet tops, carrots, celery, chocolate, grapefruit, kale, peanut, pepper and sweet potato. Oxalate stone formers should take a supplement of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) of not less than 150 mgs. daily. Deficiency of vitamin B6 is more common than we may think. B6 deficiency prevents oxalic acid from being degraded in the body. Dietary avoidance of high oxalate foods will make only a slight difference with respect to urinary oxalate excretion. Vitamin B6 supplementation, however, may be far more crucial in the overall prevention of oxalate stones.

 Vitamin A and K deficiency may help promote the formation of kidney stones. This is because both vitamins are required by the body to make a common protein found in urine which inhibits calcium oxalate crystalline growth.        Low levels of glutamic acid also increase calcium oxalate precipitation. Supplementation of of glutamic acid (300 mgs. daily) may be important as a preventive in some cases.

Uric acid stone formers are helped by a vegetarian diet and supplementation with folic acid (25-50 mgs. daily) and potassium citrate (60 milliequivalents. daily).     Citrate is an inhibitor of stone formation and is usually recommended as a supplement by most kidney specialists treating stones. Low levels of citrate are found in 20-60% of all patients with kidney stones. Avoidance of alcohol is important because it increases the excretion of uric acid, calcium and phosphate. Alcohol also has adverse effects on vitamin B6 and magnesium, both of which help in stone prevention.

Megadoses of vitamin C (more than 6000 mgs. daily) increase urinary oxalate excretion and may be a factor precipitating stones in a minority of cases. There is no study, however, that proves that megadoses of vitamin C leads to a greater incidence of kidney stones. In nearly 20 years of practice, I have never been able to document a single case of kidney stones stemming from vitamin C supplementation. Neither has anyone else. The conventional medical profession, nevertheless continues to spread the false information that vitamin C and calcium causes kidney stones. Several published studies claim that the opposite is true - that vitamin C and calcium supplementation prevents kidney stones. If vitamin C intake is combined with supplementation with calcium and magnesium citrate and vitamin B6 one can be even more confident about prevention.

High body burdens of cadmium have also been associated with an increased incidence of kidney stones. Cadmium excess can be reliably determined by hair mineral analysis. Excesses can be removed from the body by supplementation with zinc, vitamin B6, magnesium and vitamin C. Intravenous chelation therapy with EDTA can also be done in severe cases. Finally, if you have a history of kidney stones, avoid supplementation with the amino acid L-cystine, a build-up of which can lead to stone formation in genetically susceptible individuals. A prevention program against kidney stones must be individualized as much as possible and followed for life. Work with your natural health care practitioner in determining what works best in your particular case.

REFERENCES

Bateson-Koch, Carolee. Allergies, Disease in Disguise. Vancouver: Alive Books. 1994. Baroody, Dr. Theodore A. Jr. Alkalinize or Die. California:Portal Books, 1995.

Bland, Jeffrey. The 20-Day Rejuvenation Diet Program. New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing, 1997.

Embon, O.M. et al. Chronic dehydration stone disease. British Journal of Urology. 1990;66:357-362.

Fromberg, M. Diet and calcium stones. Canadian Medical Association Journal,1992;146(11):1894.

Gaby, Alan. Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis. Rocklin, CA:Prima Publishing, 1994. Hughes, J. and Norman, R. Diet and calcium stones. Canadian Medical Association Journal,

1992;146(2):137-143.

Kohri, K. et al. Magnesium-to-calcium ratio in tap water and its relationship to geological features and the incidence of calcium-containing urinary stones. Journal of Urology, Nov. 1989;142:1272-1275.

Kok, D.J. et al. The effects of dietary excesses in animal protein and in sodium on the composition and the crystallization of kinetics of calcium oxalate monohydrate in the urines of healthy men. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 1990;71(4):861-867.

Norman, R.W. and Manette, W.A. Dietary restriction of sodium as a means of reducing dietary cystine. Journal of Urology, June 1990;143:1193-1194.

Robbins, John. Diet for a New America, Walpole, New Hampshire:Stillpoint, 1987. Robbins, John. May All Be Fed, Diet for a New World, New York: William Morrow and

Company, Inc., 1992.

Rona, Zoltan P. and Martin, Jeanne Marie. Return to the Joy of Health, Vancouver: Alive Books, 1995.

Smith, L.H. Diet and hyperoxaluria and the syndrome of idiopathic calcium oxalate urolithiasis. American Journal of Kidney Diseases, April 1991;17(4):370-375.

June 02, 2012

Amino Acid Therapies as drug alternatives

Article by Dr. Zoltan P. Rona MD MSc

 

Life is not possible without a healthy amount of amino acids in the human body. Amino acids can best be defined as the building blocks of proteins needed to create cells, enzymes and hormones, repair damaged tissues and organs, make antibodies against invading bacteria and viruses and build nucleoproteins (RNA & DNA).

Amino acids are also involved in carrying oxygen throughout the body and are crucial for optimal muscle activity. Eight amino acids are termed "essential" because they cannot be manufactured by the body and must come from the diet. The rest are non-essential (i.e. can be manufactured by the body from other nutrients) provided that overall nutrition is adequate. High doses of certain non-essential amino acids are useful in the treatment of a long list of both acute and chronic ailments.

 

 

Why use Single Amino Acids in Therapy?

 

Some holistic practitioners argue that using single amino acid therapies is unnatural and does nothing to really heal the individual as a whole. Others point to toxicity problems as well as the potential creation of new deficiencies by unbalancing other amino acids. Such healers prefer to make use of whole food concentrates like enzymes, herbs and glandular extracts.

In theory, there is a lot of merit to such considerations. In practice, however, single amino acid therapies can be used with a much greater degree of safety than any prescription or over the counter drug and, if used as part of acomprehensive nutritional therapy program, balance with other nutrients in the body can be maintained. True toxicity with uncontaminated single amino acid therapies has rarely, if ever, been adequately documented. Deaths from the use of genetically engineered, contaminated tryptophan (i.e. eosinophilic myalgia syndrome) were not the result of the amino acid but the shoddy manufacturing process.

 

 

Single amino acid therapies fulfill two important principles of complementary medicine:

 

1) In the practice of healing it is usually wise to imitate the body’s natural healing mechanisms. For example, if one cannot digest high protein foods, giving a person dietary substances (e.g. stomach bitters, betaine and pepsin or apple cider vinegar) that help it dissolve peptide bonds will allow the body to absorb and utilize the nutrients from protein.

 

2) If a drug can bring about the act of medical healing, a nutrient of far lesser toxicity can be substituted to perform the same act. Examples of this are the uses of feverfew, ginger root, niacin, guarana, devil’s claw, D,L-phenylalanine, tryptophan and/or GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) in the treatment of migraine headaches. Another important example is the use of magnesium in heart disease for a non- toxic calcium channel blocking effect.

 

 

The Availability Issue

 

Single amino acids, for political and financial reasons best known to the multinational pharmaceutical industry, the Codex Commission at the WHO (World Health Organization) and the Canadian Health Protection Branch (HPB), are unavailable in Canada due to absurd regulations

that consider amino acids to be drugs and not foods. Their low cost, low toxicity and high efficacy make amino acids troublesome competition for copycat, yet patentable drugs like Prozac®.

Despite the fact that each and every one of the amino acids discussed in this article can be found in varying degrees in every cell of the human body, they are prohibited to be sold to the Canadian public (with the exception of tryptophan which is available at inflated prices through a doctor’s prescription). Any Canadian, however, can legally order amino acids from the US for personal use in Canada. For those of you who would prefer to give your business to health food stores in the USA, just travel across the border for your amino acid shopping.

Canadian physicians, naturopaths, chiropractors, dentists and other health professionals wishing to sell amino acids in their practices to their patients are prohibited from so doing, also for the same political reasons. To help with changing this regressive legislation, contact the individuals and groups listed at the end of this article.

 

 Important Essential Amino Acid Therapies

 N.B. Unless otherwise indicated, all amino acids referred to here are the L-form (e.g. L-tryptophan). The D-form, except in special circumstances, has no beneficial effects. In the case of some amino acids (e.g. D-carnitine), the D-form could actually be toxic.

 Lysine

Lysine helps make collagen, an important component of bone, cartilage and connective tissue. It is also involved in

the production of antibodies, hormones and enzymes. Studies show that lysine is effective against herpes and heart disease (when used in combination with vitamin C, taurine, proline, arginine and coenzyme Q10). Lysine also aids in the absorption of calcium. Lysine deficiency results in fatigue, inability to concentrate, irritability, bloodshot eyes, retarded growth, hair loss, anemia, weak muscles and fertility problems.

 

Methionine

Methionine is a major source of sulfur and prevents disorders of the hair, skin and nails. It helps lower cholesterol levels by increasing the liver's production of lecithin, reduces fat accumulation in the liver and protects the kidneys. Its commonest therapeutic use is as a natural chelating agent for excesses of lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and copper.

 Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine is used by the brain to make norepinephrine, a chemical important in arousal which keeps one awake and alert. It is an important part of the pathway that produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in normalizing mood. It’s commonest use in therapy is to reduce hunger pains, as an antidepressant and to help improve memory. In its D,L form, phenylalanine has an analgesic effect because of its ability to stimulate the production of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates.

Threonine

Threonine is an important constituent of collagen, elastin, and tooth enamel protein. Threonine helps prevents fat build- up in the liver, is important for normal growth and helps the digestive and intestinal tracts function optimally. Threonine is also important in producing antibodies and is commonly deficient in vegetarian diets. 

 

Tryptophan

Tryptophan is used by the brain to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, a natural relaxant which helps alleviate insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression. It has therapeutic applications in these areas as well as in migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and eating disorders. Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine are usually called the branched chain amino acids because of their common chemical structure. They are important for mental vigor, alertness, blood sugar control, muscle coordination, muscle damage repair and calm emotions. Isoleucine is especially essential to the formation of hemoglobin and should always be in well balanced proportion with leucine and valine.

 

 

Important Non-Essential Amino Acid Therapies:

 

Alanine

Alanine is an important source of energy for muscle tissue, the brain and central nervous system It strengthens the immune system by producing antibodies. Alanine helps in the metabolism of sugars and organic acids.

 

Arginine

Studies have shown that arginine improves the body’s immune responses to bacteria, viruses, parasites and tumor cells. Arginine promotes wound healing and regeneration of the liver, causes the release of growth hormone, increases sperm production and is considered crucial for optimal muscle growth and tissue repair. Body builders use high dosages of arginine because it increases muscle mass while decreasing the amount of body fat. Arginine converts directly into nitric oxide and, as such, plays a crucial role in regulating the function of virtually every organ. It operates in the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, uterus, and eyes. It helps regulate blood pressure, digestion, and even penile erection. It may play a role in protecting the body against infection. Arginine supplementation (about 6000 mgs. daily) has been shown to be effective in wound healing after surgery, reversing low sperm counts and correcting male infertility.

Contraindications for its use include liver disease, kidney disease and herpes simplex, all of which might be made worse by high arginine, low lysine balance. Arginine is converted to the amino acid ornithine and promotes the detoxification of ammonia which is poisonous to living cells. 

 

Aspartic Acid

Aspartic acid helps rid harmful ammonia from the body and may may increase endurance and resistance to fatigue. Aspartic acid is involved in the formation of RNA and DNA, the chemical bases of heredity and carriers of genetic information. Aspartic acid is commonly used in trace mineral supplements as a chelating agent.Increases resistance to fatigue.

 

Carnitine

Carnitine is therapeutically effective in the treatment of coronary heart disease because normal cardiac function is dependent on adequate concentrations of carnitine in heart muscle. Carnitine helps increase muscle strength and stamina. In the body, carnitine is manufactured from the amino acid, lysine and vitamin C.

 

Citrulline

Citrulline helps recovery from fatigue, stimulates the immune system and metabolizes to arginine. It detoxifies ammonia which is poisonous to living cells. Cystine

Cystine functions as an antioxidant, protecting against radiation and pollution. It is necessary for the formation of the skin, the recovery from burns and surgical operations. Hair and skin are made up 10-14% cystine. Cystine is used in the treatment of chronic bronchitis. It stimulates white blood cell activity thereby improving the resistance to disease.

 

Cysteine

Cysteine is used therapeutically in enhancing hair growth, relieving hangovers and brain and liver damage from alcohol. Cysteine prevents damage from cigarette smoke, detoxifies many harmful chemicals and promotes healing and the immune system.

 

Glutamic acid

Glutamic acid is also known as “nature’s brain food”. Supplementing glutamic acid improves mental capacities, helps speed the healing of ulcers, alleviates fatigue and the craving for sugar. It converts to glutamine in the body and detoxifies ammonia in the brain. Glutamic acid supplementation is also very effective in the treatment of hypoglycemia.

 

Glutamine

Glutamine helps sustain mental ability, regulates brain metabolism and, along with glutamic acid is used as a brain fuel. Glutamine is used in the treatment of alcoholism and can protect against alcohol poisoning. It has been documented to benefit both schizophrenia and senility.Glycine Glycine triggers the release of oxygen to the energy requiring cell-making process and is important in the manufacturing of hormones responsible for a strong immune system. Glycine is a source of creatine which is essential for muscle function, breaking down glycogen and freeing energy. Glycine is effective as a treatment for stomach hyperacidity. 

 

Histidine 

Histidine is found abundantly in hemoglobin, has been used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, allergic diseases, ulcers and anemia. A deficiency can cause poor hearing. 

 

Ornithine

Ornithine stimulates the release of growth hormone which increases muscle mass while decreasing the amount of body fat. Ornithine boosts the immune system, promotes liver function and regeneration. It detoxifies ammonia.

 

Proline

Proline is important for the proper functioning of joints and tendons and helps strengthen heart muscles. Together with lysine, carnitine, taurine, vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10 and other nutrients, it is important in the natural treatment of heart disease.

 

Serine

Serine is a storage source of glucose that helps strengthen the immune system (source of antibodies) and the synthesis of the fatty acid sheath around nerve fibers.

 

Taurine

Taurine stabilizes the excitability of membranes which is why it may be helpful in the control of epileptic seizures, heart disease, the aging process and the scavenging of free radicals. Taurine is found in high concentrations in the tissues of the heart, skeletal muscle and the central nervous system.

 

Tyrosine

Tyrosine is effective against high blood pressure, some forms of depression, poor memory and concentration difficulties. It also promotes the healthy functioning of the thyroid (thyroid hormone is made in the body from tyrosine), adrenal and pituitary glands. Tyrosine produces norepinephrine, an appetite inhibitory neurotransmitter that suppresses appetite. It also stimulates the release of growth hormone which causes muscle growth while reducing body fat.

May 30, 2012

The Iron Complex

THE IRON COMPLEX

By Zoltan P. Rona, M.D., M.Sc. 

 

All cells require iron, which works primarily by carrying oxygen in the body as a part of hemoglobin in the red blood cells and as myoglobin in muscle cells. Anemia results when there is not enough iron in the red blood cells and is a common problem seen after pregnancy, blood loss and a diet either low in iron or poor absorption of iron by the body.

 

Iron deficiency is still considered to be the most common single nutrient deficiency in the world affecting approximately 15 percent of the world’s population. New research on vitamin D maintains that vitamin D deficiency is at least 5 times more common but this fact has yet to be accepted by most government agencies.

 

Possible Symptoms of iron deficiency:

•    severe fatigue

•    weakness

•    light headedness

•    poor exercise tolerance

•    headache

•    pale skin (pallor)

•    pallor on the lining of the eyes

•    pallor on the inner mouth and the nails

•    rapid heartbeat

•    heart murmur

•    low blood pressure with position change from sitting to standing up

•    brittle finger nails

•    thin and white finger nails

•    nails with a spoon-shaped appearance

•    sore, smooth and reddened tongue

•    decrease in appetite

•    abdominal pain

•    shortness of breath during exercise

•    brittle hair

•    hair loss

•    decreased immunity

•    a strong desire to eat items such as ice, paint or dirt (known as Pica)

•    disturbed sleep

 

All these symptoms can be caused by numerous health conditions other than iron deficiency so a blood test must be done in order to make the right diagnosis. A complete blood count and a serum ferritin level is what you should be asking your doctor to order to see if you need to improve your iron status.

If your serum ferritin runs below 80 nanograms/ml (normal is 80 – 300), you will need to improve your iron intake through either eating more iron-rich foods or taking an iron supplement.

The absorption of iron from foods varies significantly from person to person. In general, iron is not readily absorbed from non-heme sources (fruits, vegetables, dried beans, nuts and whole grains). The absorption of iron is significantly better from heme sources such as meat, fish and poultry.

Regardless of source, iron absorption is enhanced by vitamin C from oranges, lemons, grapefruits, tomatoes, broccoli or strawberries. If a non-heme source is eaten with a heme source of iron, absorption is also enhanced. If one cooks any non-heme source in a cast iron pot, iron absorption is similarly improved.

Inhibitors of iron absorption include large amounts of coffee or tea, an excess intake of high fiber foods such as bran as well as a high intake of calcium either from dairy products or calcium supplements. Taking iron and calcium supplements at a different time would be the right thing to do here in order to absorb more iron from foods.

The body somehow increases iron absorption on its own whenever iron stores are depleted but this is usually not enough to correct most cases of iron deficiency.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron for non-vegetarian pre-menopausal women is 18 mg/day.  The RDA for non-vegetarian men and post-menopausal women is 8 mg/day.

Due to absorption issues in a healthful, high-fiber vegetarian diet, the RDAs for vegetarians are higher - 14 mg/day for vegetarian men and 33 mg/day for vegetarian women. Iron absorption should be twice as much for vegans who exclude all animal products.

HEME Iron

Food Source

Serving 
Size (oz.)

Iron (mg)

*Beef, chuck, lean

3.0

3.2

Beef, corned

3.5

1.9

Beef, eye of round, roasted

3.0

2.2

*Beef, flank

3.5

3.3

Beef, lean ground; 10% fat

3.0

3.9

Beef, liver

3.0

7.5

*Beef, round

3.5

3.1

Beef, tenderloin, roasted

3.0

3.0

Chicken, breast, roasted,

3.0

1.1

Chicken, leg, meat only, roasted

3.5

1.3

Chicken, liver

3.5

12.8

Chicken, thigh w/ bone

2.3

1.2

Clams, breaded, fried,

¾ cup

3.0

Cod, broiled

3.0

0.4

Flounder, baked

3.0

0.3

Oysters, breaded and fried

6 pieces

4.5

*Pork, lean ham

3.5

1.5

*Pork, loin chop

3.0

1.2

Salmon, pink canned

3.0

0.7

Shrimp, mixed species, cooked

4 large

0.7

Tuna, canned in water

3.0

0.8

Turkey, dark meat

3.5

2.3

Turkey, white meat

3.5

1.6

*Lean, trimmed of separable fat

NON-HEME Iron

Food Source

Serving Size

Iron (mg)

Almonds, raw, whole

10-12

0.7

Apricots, dried, med.-size

10

1.7

Bagel

1 whole

1.5

Baked beans, canned

½ cup

2.0

Black beans, boiled

1 cup

3.6

Black-eyed peas (cowpeas), boiled

1 cup

1.8

Bread, white, enriched

2 slices

1.8

Bread, whole wheat

2 slices

1.8

Broccoli, cooked

½ cup

0.6

Broccoli, raw

1 stalk

1.1

Dates

10 each

1.6

Grits, quick enriched white, cooked

1 cup

1.5

Kidney beans, boiled

1 cup

5.2

Lentils, boiled

1 cup

6.6

Lima beans, boiled

1 cup

4.5

Macaroni, enriched, cooked

1 cup

1.9

Molasses, blackstrap

1 tbsp.

3.5

Navy beans, boiled

1 cup

4.5

Oatmeal, fortified instant, prepared

1 cup

10.0

Peas, frozen and prepared

½ cup

1.3

Pinto beans, boiled

1 cup

3.6

Prune juice

½ cup

1.5

Raisins, seedless packed

½ cup

1.5

Rice, brown, cooked

1 cup

1.0

Rice, white enriched, cooked

1 cup

1.8

Soybeans, boiled

1 cup

8.8

Spaghetti, enriched, cooked

1 cup

1.6

Spinach, cooked (boiled, drained)

½ cup

3.2

Spinach, canned, drained

½ cup

2.5

Spinach, frozen, boiled, drained

½ cup

1.9

Tofu, raw, firm

½ cup

3.4

Vitamin supplements

varies

varies

 

Iron Excess

Iron excess can be just as bad for your health as iron deficiency. If you store too much or are not able to metabolize or get rid of it, iron can build up in many of your organs causing significant damage and many unexpected illnesses. Excess iron causes oxidation (free radical damage) that can injure the inner lining of your blood vessels leading to heart disease, cancer, hepatitis and diabetes. There are some inherited diseases of excessive iron storage in the liver and other organs known as hemochromatosis and hemosiderosis. Blood and other types of testing will be able to diagnose these. The best way to tell whether or not excess iron is an issue is to check the serum ferritin levels before supplementing with any form of iron. An optimal level would be 80 – 300 ng/ml. Levels significantly higher than that may well be toxic and require medical intervention.

The Ideal Iron Supplement

Once it’s been established that you are iron deficient by blood tests, what is the best type of supplement to take? In my opinion, any iron supplement should also contain adequate amounts of vitamin C and most of the B complex vitamins. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption and prevents constipation, a frequent side effect of any iron supplement.

B complex vitamins, especially vitamin B12 and folic acid, are often also deficient in people who suffer from anemia or chronic fatigue. The mild acid characteristics of vitamin C and the B complex vitamins will enhance iron absorption as well as provide other health benefits.

The B-complex vitamins are a group of similarly structured water-soluble compounds that are not stored in the body and must be supplied on a daily basis from the diet or through supplementation. They consist of B1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin, niacinamide), B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-7 (biotin), B-12 (cobalamin), and folic acid (B-9, folate or folacin). PABA, inositol and choline are often included as part of the B complex. The B-complex of vitamins are used in the proper formation of every cell in your body – particularly the heart, liver and nerve cells.

B-complex vitamin deficiencies occur far more easily and frequently than has been generally assumed, especially in people on weight loss diets, fasts, high daily intakes of sugar, refined and processed foods, as well as caffeine, saccharine and alcohol. People under stress or on a long list of medications, especially antibiotics, diuretics, chemotherapy, the birth control pill, hormone replacement therapy, etc, may be at high risk to develop B vitamin deficiencies.

B-complex vitamins are commonly found together in foods and have similar coenzyme (catalysts for enzyme reactions) functions, often needing each other to perform specific metabolic tasks. Some of the B vitamins (B-12 and biotin) can also be made in the body by friendly microbes (bacteria, yeast, fungi, molds) in the large intestine. The majority of B vitamins, however, are obtained from food and then absorbed into the blood, mainly from the small intestine. If we consume too many B vitamins, the excess is excreted through the urine and the skin (perspiration). These excesses, with rare exceptions like B-3 (niacin), are harmless and often helpful, especially for those suffering from various suboptimal mental processes.

B vitamins are vital for:
• health of the skin, bones, hair and muscle 
• health of mucosal membranes, particularly around the mouth 
• intestinal health and bowel function 
• optimal blood sugar control
• relief of moodiness, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, fatigue 
• improved liver and cardiovascular system health 
• brain cell function and health 
• relief from skin problems, dry and itchy skin and rashes 
• relief from PMS, nausea, muscular weakness and sore or dry mouth and tongue.

The B vitamins are found in many foods, occurring together, never in isolation. While the richest natural source of B vitamins is brewer's yeast or nutritional yeast, this is not an ideal food for many hypersensitive people. Other good sources of the B vitamins are the germ and bran of cereal grains, green vegetables, beans, peas, liver, most animal foods and nuts.

The B vitamins function primarily as coenzymes that catalyze many biochemical reactions in just about every cell in the body. They create energy by converting carbohydrates to glucose and also are important in fat and protein/amino acid metabolism. The B complex vitamins are very important for the normal functioning of the nervous system, via their anti-stress effects and energy boosting properties. The B vitamins are also vital for the general muscle tone of the gastrointestinal tract, which allows the bowels to function at their best.

Single B vitamin supplementation is not recommended because the functions of the B vitamins are so interrelated. In therapeutic dosages, they are best taken as a B-complex to relieve stress, fatigue, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, and hyperactivity. Isolated B vitamin supplements may be therapeutically useful for conditions such as vitiligo, which can be helped by higher dosages of PABA (3000 mg. or more daily) in addition to a balanced B-complex supplement. Similarly, high doses of B-6 for PMS and B-1 for alcohol-induced organ damage are therapeutically helpful.

B Vitamins for Anxiety and Depression

 

Practically all the B-complex vitamins are involved in treatment of anxiety and depression. The most important of these are B1, B3, B6, B12 and inositol. When using high doses of individual B vitamins, they must always be in conjunction with all the other B vitamins in relatively high doses to prevent or reduce side effects as well as deficiencies in those B vitamins not supplemented. For example, if using vitamin B1 in doses of 1000 mg. daily, take a B complex of at least 100 mg of most of the other Bs at the same time.

• B1 (Thiamine): (500 – 3000 mg. daily) reduces or eliminates irritability, disordered thinking and mental confusion in otherwise healthy people. Clinically indicated in Alzheimer’s disease, depression, insomnia, memory loss, alcoholism and all anxiety disorders.

• B3 (Niacin): (500 – 3000 mg. daily) is recommended for circulatory problems and lowering triglycerides and cholesterol.  Niacinamide does not work in this fashion and is more applicable to anxiety, nervousness and irritability. Niacinamide is effective treatment for anxiety, insomnia, depression and other nervous system problems commonly seen in people who suffer from hypoglycemia and/or diabetes. Dementia, irritability, headaches, mental confusion, attention deficit disorder, hallucinations, amnesia, certain forms of schizophrenia and severe depression can all be signs or symptoms of B3 deficiency.

Adverse Effects and Toxicity: hepatitis has been observed with the time released form of niacin; Inositol hexa-nicotinate (contains 6 molecules of niacin and 1 molecule of inositol) does not cause flushing or hepatitis.
Use Caution when taking more than 1000 mg. of niacin per day as it may elevate liver enzymes, which should be monitored during niacin therapy – if elevated, cut back on dosage.

Nausea is first sign of toxicity with both niacin and niacinamide. Flushing occurs with niacin, so it’s best taken with food. Other adverse effects of high dose niacin are gastritis, elevated uric acid levels and reactivated peptic ulcers, the latter of which can be prevented by taking L-glutamine (4000 mg. with each dose) to repair any gastrointestinal damage.

• B6 (Pyridoxine): (100 – 1000 mg. daily) is clinically effective in practically all anxiety and depression related psychiatric illnesses including anorexia nervosa, attention deficit disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, hyperactivity and dementia. Caution should be taken as some reports of peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling, loss of sensation) have been reported with large doses of vitamin B6. This can be reversed by either lowering the dose of B6 or increasing relative doses of the other B-complex vitamins.

• B12 (Cobalamin): (1000 – 3000 mcg. daily). B12 goes by many names: Cyanocobalamin – oral, sublingual, or intranasal administration of B12 is only rarely effective; Hydroxycobalamin (injectable) is longer acting and achieves higher B12 levels than cyanocobalamin; Methylcobalamin (oral lozenges) - brain active form especially useful for mercury toxicity and other neurological problems (M.S., chronic pain syndromes). The most spectacular benefits of B12 are seen with depression, chronic fatigue, memory loss, neuropathy and bipolar disorder. Although effective against anxiety, other B vitamins, especially B3 in high doses, appears to be most effective. Inositol: (1000 – 6000 mg. daily) has been reported in recent psychiatric journals to be as effective as prescription anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs without the side effects. The powdered form is most effective but also the costliest (equivalent in price to most commonly prescribed anti-depressants). One side benefit in large doses is that it helps remove fat from the liver.

Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practices Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of “The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.” He has also published several Canadian best-selling books, including “Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin.

 

REFERENCES

 

International Nutritional Anemia Consultative Group. Measurements of iron status. Report of the Nutrition Foundation. Washington (DC), 1985.

Bothwell TH, Charlton RW, Cook JB, Finch CA. Iron metabolism in man. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific. Oxford, 1979, Chaps. 1 3.

Dallman PR. Biochemical basis for the manifestations of iron deficiency. Ann Rev Nutr 1986;6:13. 5.

Ferritin blood test. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003490.htm

"Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron." Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/iron.asp  08-24-07

Weaver CM, Rajaram S. Exercise and iron status. J Nutr 1992;122:782.

May 29, 2012

Vitamin C Complex

VITAMIN C COMPLEX

By Zoltan P. Rona, M.D., M.Sc.

 

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) may well be the most controversial of all the vitamins. Most of the medical establishment still objects to the use of mega doses of vitamin C for treatment of cancer, the flu, allergies, stress, adrenal fatigue or just about anything else. All this negativity may not be warranted because there is now a growing body of medical literature supporting the use of vitamin C in very high doses.

 

Vitamin C and its closely related bioflavonoids can be found in all citrus fruits and numerous other fruits and vegetables. In fact, vitamin C was first isolated from lemons in 1932 but it was well known to be a factor in the prevention of scurvy back in the 18th century. Vitamin C is used by the body in the formation of collagen, a protein required by all joints, ligaments, skin, cartilage, capillary walls, bones, teeth and connective tissue. Vitamin C is needed to help heal wounds and to maintain healthy blood vessels. It has been proven to help speed healing of burns, fractures, bedsores, ulcers and post-surgical wounds.

 

Vitamin C is crucial in the metabolism of tyrosine, folic acid and tryptophan. The levels of important brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and epinephrine are to a large degree dependent on an abundance of vitamin C. Vitamin C also aids in thyroid hormone production as well as cholesterol metabolism by increasing its elimination from the body. 

 

In addition to these roles vitamin C works as an antioxidant, preventing cellular injury and damage by free radicals. Vitamin C also protects other vitamins from being broken down too quickly, especially vitamins A, E and some of the B vitamins. Vitamin C is a good detoxifier from the side effects of many drugs and helps rid the body of mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic. Vitamin C decreases the production of histamine, thereby reducing the severity of any allergic reaction. One of the quickest ways for an adult to achieve an antihistaminic effect is to quickly take 10 grams of pure ascorbic acid.

 

Vitamin C in larger than physiological doses has been successfully used to treat a wide range of viral, bacterial, fungal and inflammatory conditions including colds, flus, mononucleosis, herpes simplex infections and shingles. Vitamin C boosts the production of interferon, a potent anti-viral and immune enhancing substance. Chronic inflammatory conditions not necessarily related to infectious disease will also respond to vitamin C therapy. These include arthritis, bursitis, gout (vitamin C pushes uric acid out of the body), asthma and chronic musculo-skeletal pain of any origin.

 

Another underestimated benefit of vitamin C is in the treatment of withdrawal reactions from drug addictions, narcotics, alcohol, caffeine and sugar. These are common addictions but can be helped to a large degree with vitamin C therapy. Vitamin C has a laxative effect and may be of great help to those suffering from constipation. The main side effect of too much vitamin C intake is diarrhea and so the dose must be individualized to prevent any unpleasant bowel side effects.

 

Vitamin C improves iron absorption from the gastrointestinal tract, improves the utilization of blood glucose in diabetics and can help prevent both glaucoma and cataracts. Vitamin C can help some cases of infertility because it prevents sperm from clumping together and this then improves sperm function. Vitamin C also prevents platelet aggregation, a factor responsible for the formation of plaques and clots.

 

Most other animals, except guinea pigs, man and apes produce ascorbic acid in the liver from glucose and do not need to get vitamin C from food. The daily requirement of vitamin C is still in debate but most would agree that the RDA of 60 mg is too low an estimate of actual human need. Vitamin C is used up quickly during conditions of stress, allergies, diseases like diabetes and by tobacco smoke, numerous drugs, antibiotics, alcohol, mercury and other toxic heavy metals like lead and cadmium. Some vitamin C is stored in the adrenal glands, pituitary, brain, eyes, ovaries and testes and is in greater demand whenever the immune system or any connective tissue is stressed.

 

The best food sources of vitamin C are the citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines, and grapefruits). Other fruits with high amounts of vitamin C include rose hips, acerola cherries, papayas, cantaloupes, and strawberries. The best vegetable sources are red and green peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus, parsley, dark leafy greens, cabbage, and sauerkraut. Sprouted grains contain some modest amounts of vitamin C but no animal sources would be considered adequate to prevent deficiency symptoms.

Linus Pauling was right! Long before his death, he had published a great deal about vitamin C’s ability to effectively fight cancer when given in doses greater than 10,000 mg daily. On September 20, 2005, a team of scientists from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD published the results of a landmark study done using human lymphoma cells. The study argues strongly for the use of intravenous vitamin C treatment as a scientifically proven way of beating cancer.   

 

Similar positive findings were also published in the usually conservative Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ, March 28, 2006).  This research basically demonstrated that, once in the bloodstream at high doses, vitamin C increases hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).  This natural body biochemical then destroys cancer cells while leaving healthy cells and tissues unharmed.  Hydrogen peroxide is also one of the body’s best defenses against bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and other microbes.  Theoretically and in practice, IV vitamin C can therefore successfully fight a long list of infectious diseases through this peroxide mechanism.

 

Doesn’t the oral form of vitamin C work as well?  Oral vitamin C, although beneficial for immunity, will not work to reverse cancer.  One must get this nutrient in an intravenous form, using doses ranging from 25 to 75 grams (75,000 mg) for an anti-cancer effect.  

 

The late Dr. Hugh Riordan and his research group in Wichita, Kansas, studied the effects of intravenous vitamin C in cancer therapy for over 28 years.  His findings and that of other independent investigators give new hope to cancer victims.  Of further interest is the fact that intravenous vitamin C will work for practically all kinds of cancer regardless of the stage of the disease.

 

All cancer treatments, natural or otherwise have potential drawbacks.  While recent studies at NIH and elsewhere have shown no side effects or toxicities associated with intravenous vitamin C there are some relative contra-indications and theoretical dangers.  These include local pain at the infusion site, rapid tumor death (necrosis) with resulting toxemia, allergic reactions and hemolytic anemia due to hereditary G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase deficiency). With the exception of G6PD deficiency, all of these issues can be successfully dealt with to achieve the treatment benefits. 

Vitamin C Myths and False Beliefs

The commonest misconception about vitamin C is the idea that it should only be supplemented during the winter. The idea is that, since most of us consume more citrus and other fruits during the summer months, we do not need to supplement with vitamin C during the summer months. The truth is that people often need much greater levels of vitamin C during the spring, summer and the fall months because of environmental allergies or because of other special concerns like asthma, arthritis, coronary artery disease, cancer and a long list of infectious disease. 

Let us not forget that people get summer colds, sinus infections and pneumonias in the summer too. In the fall, when our kids return to school, colds and flus become much more common. Adequate levels of vitamin C from foods alone will not meet people’s needs to deal with all these stresses. Supplementation is definitely required.

It has been falsely reported that vitamin C in mega doses can cause high blood levels of oxalic acid and oxalate kidney stones.  Research over the past two decades has proven the opposite to be true – vitamin C actually prevents kidney stones.  In those who already suffer from kidney stones who wish to use IV vitamin C, supplementation with vitamin B6 (100 – 300 mg daily) should be taken as a way of reducing oxalic acid levels in the body.

 

Why Not Ester-C or Mineral Ascorbates?

 

The Vitamin C Foundation does not recommend Ester-C primarily because it is not the natural form of the vitamin. Ester-C does not match what animals make naturally in their livers or kidneys.  

 

Well over 80,000 studies by Linus Pauling and hundreds of other scientists were not done with this buffered (esterified) version of vitamin C but with L-ascorbic acid. These studies were also not done with the mineral ascorbates, another inferior choice when you purchase vitamin C.

 

According to Dr. Robert Cathcart, probably the best known physician using high dose vitamin C for a long list of adverse health conditions:

"...it was not entirely clear that the dramatic effects are always with ascorbic acid orally and sodium ascorbate intravenously. I have not been able to achieve the ascorbate effect with mineral ascorbates orally. Mineral ascorbates are fine forms of vitamin C but when you are really sick, the mitochondria are failing in their refueling of the free radical scavengers with electrons. The ascorbic acid carries 2 extra electrons per molecule where the mineral ascorbates seem to carry only one (plus per molecule the mineral ascorbates are heavier due to the mineral weighing more than the hydrogen the mineral replaces). So the mineral ascorbates are not potent enough to accomplish the ascorbate effect. There may be other reasons that we do not appreciate additionally." 

 

The Bioflavonoids

Bioflavonoids are a type of plant pigment normally found in existence with vitamin C. Some of the more potent sources of bioflavonoids are citrus fruit, blueberries or bilberry, green tea, grape seeds, parsley, green peppers, wine, dark chocolate and rose hips. There are over 5000 naturally occurring bioflavonoids and they are classified into categories called anthocyanidins, isoflavones, flavonols, flavans, flavanones and flavones based on their molecular structure. 

Some of the best-known flavonoids include hesperidin, rutin, citrus bioflavonoids, genistein (from soy) and quercetin (from onions).

Within the family of anthocyanidins is bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus). The flavans are the type of bioflavonoid found in tea and apples. Some bioflavonoids can be synthesized into proanthocyanidins (tannins) and polyphenols, both classes having strong antioxidant effects.

Bioflavonoids act mainly as antioxidants and immune system boosters protecting plants and humans that consume them.

Bioflavonoids, like vitamin C, are anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer. They protect the body from oxidative damage by free radicals caused by pollution, tobacco smoke and the body’s normal metabolic processes.

Without bioflavonoids, aging would occur more rapidly. Diseases prevented by regular intake of bioflavonoids include cancer, heart disease, easy bruising, cold sores, capillary fragility and cataracts. 

Quercetin

This bioflavonoid is from the flavonol family and contains a sugar called rutin. Sources of quercetin include onions and blue-green algae. It is well known to work taken in high doses to reduce inflammation from any source and to prevent allergic reactions to any substance. In my practice, I often recommend it to people who suffer from multiple food and environmental allergies as an effective alternative to prescription antihistamines and steroids. Its antioxidant activity allows vitamin C to work more effectively in the body and it can inhibit an enzyme called reverse transcriptase that spreads viruses like HIV. Quercetin is also very effective therapy for hemorrhoids, varicose veins and bruises.

Quercetin stabilizes the mast cell and basophil (a type of white cell) membranes thereby preventing these cells from spilling their content of pro-inflammatory, allergy symptom producing histamines into the blood vessels. This prevents inflammatory responses such as wheezing, sneezing, nasal congestion, sinus pain and swelling when exposed to an allergen such as ragweed or a food. Asthma attacks can be either prevented or blunted significantly with regular use of quercetin. 

Unlike prescription anti-histamines, steroid inhalers and other immune system suppressing drugs, quercetin has no significant allergies or cancer promoting properties. Therapeutic doses for asthma range from 1000 – 2000 mg daily and this is quite safe for extended periods of time (years).

Rose Hips

Rose hips are a potent source of vitamin C and bioflavonoids (60% more than citrus fruit). Its use became popularized as a way of strengthening the entire vascular system, notably the capillaries. Rose hips are also a source of vitamin E and vitamin K and have been recommended to successfully treat uterine cramps, heavy menstrual flow and some breast disorders.

Rose hips also contain calcium, citric acid, iron, niacin, phosphorus, tannin, vitamin A, B1, B2, and P. By itself, rose hips have been used as a natural laxative and as a natural diuretic. Natural health care practitioners often recommend rose hips to fight stress, improve the health of the skin, the immune system, and the urinary bladder and to prevent kidney stones. There are no detrimental effects of taking rose hips although the rare individual complains of some stomach upset, headache or insomnia. Normally these side effects can be corrected by either lowering the intake to tolerance of continuing with the same dose until the body becomes used to the intake level.

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

This bioflavonoid originates from blueberries and is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It contains flavonoids called anthocyanosides that protect the collagen structures in the blood vessels of the eye. It is a proven therapy for hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and many eye problems including macular degeneration, diabetic neuropathy and cataracts. Bilberry helps the eyes to adjust to changes in light quickly. 

Bilberry is also effective against venous insufficiency, a condition that causes swelling (edema) and varicose veins. It relieves pain and itching, fights skin ulcers on the legs and treats Raynaud's disease (extremely cold extremities) effectively. 

Bilberry's strong antioxidant properties make it an excellent free radical scavenger thus preventing premature aging and degenerative disease. Bilberry is also effective against menstrual cramps and any condition involving poor circulation such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Side effects related to the use of bilberry are rare but stomach upset, dizziness, or headaches are possible. In some sensitive individuals, bilberry could cause diarrhea but there are no known adverse reactions with any medications. 

Effective dosages for bilberry range from 20 to 160 mg. People with specific conditions, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma or varicose veins may benefit from much higher dosages.

 

Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practices Complementary Medicine in Toronto and is the medical editor of “The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.” He has also published several Canadian best-selling books, including “Vitamin D, The Sunshine Vitamin.” For more of his articles, seewww.mydoctor.ca/drzoltanrona

 

REFERENCES

 

Riordan NH, et al: Intravenous Ascorbate as a Tumour Cytotoxic Chemotherapeutic Agent. Medical Hypothesis, 1994; 9;2: 207-213

 

Jackson JA, et al: High dose Intravenous Vitamin C in the Treatment of a Patient with Adenocarcinoma of he Kidney–A Case Study. J.Orthomol Med 1990; 5: 1:57.

Qi Chen*†, Michael Graham Espey‡, Murali C. Krishna‡, James B. Mitchell‡, Christopher P. Corpe*, Garry R. Buettner§, Emily Shacter†, and Mark Levine*¶ *Molecular and Clinical Nutrition Section, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892; ‡Radiation Biology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892; §Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242-1101; and †Laboratory of Biochemistry, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, MD 20892  Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: Action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues Communicated by J. E. Rall, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, August 2, 2005 (received for review June 1, 2005) 

 

Levy, T. Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins: Curing the Incurable. Xlibris Corp. Philadelphia, PA, 2002.

 

Casciari, J., N. Riordan, T. Schmidt, X. Meng, J. Jackson, and H. Riordan. (2001) Cytotoxicity of ascorbate, lipoic acid, and other antioxidants in hollow fibre in vitro tumours. British Journal of Cancer 84(11):1544-1550.

Cheng, J., S. Hsieh-Chen, and C. Tsai. (1989) L-Ascorbic acid produces hypoglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia in anaesthetized rats. The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 41(5):345-346.

Cunningham, J. (1998) The glucose/insulin system and vitamin C: implications in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 17(2):105-108.

Klenner, F. (1971) Observations on the dose and administration of ascorbic acid when employed beyond the range of a vitamin in human pathology. Journal of Applied Nutrition 23(3&4):61-88.

 

Bendich A, Langseth L. The Health Effects of Vitamin C Supplementation: A Review. J Am Coll Nutr 1995; 14(2): 124-36. 

 


Rivers JM. Safety of High-level Vitamin C Ingestion. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl 1989; 30:95-102. 

 


Sebastian J. Padayatty, Hugh D. Riordan, Stephen M. Hewitt, Arie Katz, L. John Hoffer, Mark Levine, Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases. CMAJ, March 28, 2006, p.937.

 

Cameron E. Protocol for the Use of Vitamin C in the Treatment of Cancer. Med Hypotheses 1991; 36(3): 190-4.

 

Alive Research Group; Gursche, Siegfried, Publisher; Rona, Zoltan P., Medical Editor. Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.  Vancouver:Alive Books, 1998.

 

Why The Foundation  Does Not Recommend Ester-C http://www.vitamincfoundation.org/esterc.htm