Vitamin B12 - A NEW LEASE ON LIFE!
By Judit Rajhathy, B .A., RNCP, D.Ac. And
Zoltan P. Rona, M.D., M.Sc.
To B or not to B – that is the question!
You complain about digestive disturbances and chronic fatigue. After your workout you are far from energized – you are even more tired. You feel like you are just not getting enough air, feel weak and experience numbness and tingling in your hands and feet. The worst part, however, is not being able to remember anything and you feel an ongoing anxiety – worrying about the least little thing. Often you even feel depressed, lethargic. You have ruled out all possible pathology as well as hidden food sensitivities, which can mimic many diseases. Your doctor cannot find a thing wrong with you, is recommending anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs, and has neglected to check for B12 deficiency.
According to an ongoing study (Framingham Offspring Study) researchers found that 39% of 3,000 volunteers had plasma B12 levels in the “low normal” range – which, for many people can be detrimental, yet often not treated, since ‘low normal’ is often considered ‘normal’! Hence, blood levels are not always the best way of determining whether one needs supplementation – listing symptoms might be a better way.
Some other symptoms of B12 deficiency include: disorientation, irritability, urinary or fecal incontinence, impotence, abnormal gait, muscle aches, sore mouth and/or tongue, loss of appetite, personality changes, paranoia and quite often, dementia, especially in older individuals. So what would normally be a simple fix can turn into a very serious set of symptoms! Addressing and correcting this deficiency can often help people resume full and normal lives.
Why is B12 deficiency such a common problem for many seniors in particular? Sometimes as we age our absorption of nutrients becomes impaired. This could arise from several factors, one of these being an overgrowth of intestinal flora, or lack of intrinsic factor in the stomach. It could also be the result of inadequate stomach acid, something needed for the absorption of dozens of essential nutrients from foods. Another factor is not getting enough from the diet – often people fall into the ‘tea and toast’ syndrome, which does not include foods that contain high amounts of B12 – pulses, eggs, dairy, fish, and meats. This is also why vegans have to be careful to supplement with B12.
The best way to supplement this important nutrient is with
2. sublingual tablets
3. nasal gel and now some companies put out B12 patches that stick to skin rather than oral supplementation since many gastrointestinal tracts cannot absorb B12 properly.
Most holistic doctors in the north will try what is known as a loading dose. They inject 1ml once a day for two weeks and then reduce to three times a week, and slowly reduce again until a comfortable dose is found, contrary to a more conventional approach, which would entail only one shot every month – a bit of a joke! B12 is water-soluble and does not stay in the body and as a result it is very difficult to overdose. One holistic doctor even remarked that the only way you could ever get a toxic reaction to vitamin B12 would be to fill your bath tub up with B12 and drown in it.
More Vitamin B12 Facts
Cyanocobalamin, hydroxycobalamin and methylcobalamin are different biochemical forms of vitamin B12. There is not much consensus amongst natural health care practitioners about the value of one form over the other but most will agree that all forms are effective at reversing deficiency. Aside from pernicious anemia, deficiency can be associated with irreversible nerve damage and low sperm counts. B12 deficiency also creates a higher risk of heart disease because vitamin B12 prevents the synthesis of high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that causes hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products but small amounts of it exists in cultured soy products, nutritional yeast, yeast extract spreads like marmite, mushrooms, seaweed and a variety of algae products like chlorella, spirulina and blue green algae. The friendly bacteria that reside in the large bowel manufacture some vitamin B12.
Strict vegans, alcoholics, drug addicts, people recovering from surgery or burns and people on medications that suppress stomach acid (e.g. antacids, histamine 2 receptor antagonists like Tagamet and Zantac and proton pump inhibitors like Pariet) should supplement with an oral or sublingual form of B12. Drugs like Metformin, Dilantin, chemotherapeutic drugs, colchicine used to treat gout and barbiturates also increases the requirements for vitamin B12. Those suffering from bowel or pancreatic cancer should supplement with B12 due to eventual deficiency caused by these diseases.
Selected Food Sources of Vitamin B12
per servingPercent DV*
Liver, beef, braised, 1 slice48.0800
Clams, cooked, breaded and fried, 3 ounces34.2570
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 100% of the DV for vitamin B12, 1 serving6.0100
Trout, rainbow, wild, cooked, 3 ounces5.490
Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 3 ounces4.980
Trout, rainbow, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces4.250
Beef, top sirloin, broiled, 3 ounces2.440
Cheeseburger, double patty and bun, 1 sandwich1.930
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 25% of the DV for vitamin B12, 1 serving1.525
Yogurt, plain, 1 cup1.425
Haddock, cooked, 3 ounces1.220
Tuna, white, 3 ounces1.015
Milk, 1 cup0.915
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce0.915
Beef taco, 1 taco0.813
Ham, cured, roasted, 3 ounces0.610
Egg, large, 1 whole0.610
Chicken, roasted, ½ breast0.36
*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug
The RDA for vitamin B12 is set by governments at very low levels:
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin B12
0-6 months*0.4 mcg0.4 mcg
7-12 months*0.5 mcg0.5 mcg
1-3 years0.9 mcg0.9 mcg
4-8 years1.2 mcg1.2 mcg
9-13 years1.8 mcg1.8 mcg
14+ years2.4 mcg2.4 mcg2.6 mcg2.8 mcg
The minimum oral or sublingual dose needed to correct vitamin B12 deficiency is 500 mcg. daily but most clinicians recommend doses as high as 5000 mcgs daily over variable lengths of time.
Magadoses (5000 mcgs. or more) have been used by some holistic health professionals to treat asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, fatigue, tendinitis, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis but these uses are controversial.
One of the first signs of success with B12 is more energy and clearer thinking. And over time many of the other symptoms of deficiency begin to resolve. With this in mind, make sure you are also taking a high potency B complex along with your multi-vitamin, especially if you are prone to some of the symptoms listed above. And once you are topped up, full of energy, I’ll see you at the gym!
Judit Rajhathy is the owner of Change of Pace Fitness Center in Ajijic, Mexico and is the author of the Canadian best-seller Free to Fly: a journey toward wellness. She can be contacted through the tristarnaturals.com web site.
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
Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb12/
Vitamin B12 in Plant Foods: http://www.veganhealth.org/b12/plant
Amir Sharabi, Eytan Cohen, Jaqueline Sulkes, and Moshe Garty. Replacement therapy for vitamin B12 deficiency: comparison between the sublingual and oral route. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 December; 56(6): 635–638.
Consumer Labs B Vitamins Review: https://www.consumerlab.com/results/print.asp?reviewid=bvitamins
Superior Greens, Herbs and Foods for Life
By Zoltan P. Rona, M.D., M.Sc.
Over the past two decades, scientists have successfully extracted hundreds of novel compounds from common foods, herbs and spices that have proven medicinal value. These extracts, in turn, have been converted into tablets or capsules and sold as food supplements at pharmacies and health food stores.
While it is generally true that such bottled extracts are safe and effective natural medicines, whole food is your best medicine since it offers not only the active ingredient but also other complementary food factors, vitamins, minerals or enzymes.
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 bottle. 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.
One of the keys to the magic created by plant life is chlorophyll, the molecule responsible for the green color of plants. Chlorophyll converts sunlight into energy through a process called photosynthesis. The chlorophyll molecule is similar to the heme molecule of human red blood cells. Instead of iron, the central element of chlorophyll is the mineral, magnesium. If it’s a green plant, it’s high in chlorophyll and, hence, magnesium. Magnesium has a profound alkaline effect, a factor tremendously important in both disease prevention and treatment.
The chlorophyll of most plants fights bad breath, detoxifies a long list of toxins that cause cancer, fights infections because of its antiseptic properties and optimizes the digestive system both in terns of nutrient absorption and waste elimination.
The following is a discussion of the most important of these foods, their active ingredients as well as how they are believed to work in boosting energy, immunity and stamina. What is also common to all these whole foods is their ability to prevent premature aging, cancer, heart disease and numerous other health concerns.
Acerola berry is one of the richest sources of vitamin C and bioflavonoids like quercetin. Quercetin is well known for its ability to prevent allergic reactions as well as inflammation.
Alfalfa’s healing properties can be attributed to its very high chlorophyll content. If you are thinking colon cleansing, detoxifying, alkalinizing and deodorizing your body, then alfalfa is one of the plants you should consider. Alfalfa is also a source of octacosanol, a high-energy source. Alfalfa lowers blood levels of cholesterol because it binds cholesterol in the gut and prevents its absorption.
Aloe vera has had a long and respected tradition of healing. It can be used topically to heal burns, acne oily skin and other injuries to the skin as well as internally to aid digestion and reduce inflammation anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract. It is a source of over 100 vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and phytochemicals that have now all been documented to promote health and prevent disease.
Aloe vera is known to help boost the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells and may have a place in the treatment of any infectious disease and cancer. Drinking aloe vera juice appears to be soothing for peptic ulcer disease as well as heartburn.
We have all heard the expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apple pectin may well be one of the reasons for this because it is one of a class of soluble fibers with profound health benefits. Some of these benefits include the lowering of serum cholesterol, improved insulin sensitivity in diabetics and bowel cleansing benefits. Many of my patients have often told me that their bowels eliminate much better if they have at least a whole apple a day. The same benefits do not occur with just plain apple juice unless pectin is added to the juice.
Apple fiber not only cleanses the gastrointestinal tract of waste material but also helps block the absorption of toxic heavy metals that may be in our food and water supply.
Barley grass is known for its rich enzyme content, especially one called Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), a powerful free radical scavenger. Sod is known to prevent aging of the heart, brain and liver.
Barley grass also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamin C and chlorophyll. It is another powerful tool for body cleansing as well as a source of hard to find nutrients like iron for some vegans.
Bee pollen’s health benefits have been known for thousands of years and are something that has been a mainstay of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It contains 22 amino acids, carotene, B complex vitamins, vitamin C, polyunsaturated fatty acids and enzymes. It also contains calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, copper and potassium.
The major benefit of bee pollen appears to be for the immune system, especially in terms of helping you build up a resistance to allergies. Bee pollen also helps in our ability to cope with stress, increase our energy as well as our stamina. For these reasons, it has become a very popular supplement for athletes.
People allergic to bee venom should avoid using been pollen but most people with allergies of almost any other type can probably benefit from its daily use.
Beet juice is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, carotenoids, vitamin C, folic acid and niacin. It has become popular in natural health circles for its liver detoxification and cancer treatment benefits. Some scientific studies recently have indeed showed that beetroot has a significant anti-tumor effect.
Bilberry leaf is very high in bioflavonoids called proanthocyanidins and catechins, strong antioxidants known for their anti-cancer, anti-atherosclerosis effects. Bilberry leaf makes your capillaries stronger (i.e. reduces fragility) which helps prevent excessive bleeding and strokes. Circulation and hence, peripheral vascular disease is prevented or improved. Bilberry is also well known to improve night vision as well as age related macular degeneration (ARM), the most common form of blindness. This is because bilberry has a particularly strong ability to protect the macular part of the retina from degenerative damage caused by oxidizing agents.
Brown Rice Powder
Brown rice powder contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamin E, silicon, all the B complex vitamins and many amino acids. White rice doesn’t have any of these nutrients and is vastly inferior to brown rice.
Brown rice powder also contains a complex molecule called gamma oryzanol, which is a mixture of plant sterols and ferulic acid esters. In larger amounts, it is used by natural health care practitioners to decrease high blood levels of cholesterol. It also helps various digestive disorders, especially the leaky gut syndrome. Some women also find it useful as a natural treatment for menopausal hot flashes.
Chlorella is an ancient green algae that has survived on this planet for over two and a half billion years. It is best known for its ability to detoxify the body from heavy metals such as mercury and numerous other body pollutants. It is a highly popular food supplement in Japan where millions use it to boost vitality.
Chlorella has nearly twice the protein content of soy and at least eight times that of rice. It is yet another food very rich in chlorophyll. In fact it has at least 8 times the chlorophyll content of wheat grass, 10 times that of spirulina and 20 times that of alfalfa. It also contains over 20 different vitamins and minerals including all the B vitamins, sulfur, zinc and vitamin K.
Cruciferous Vegetables and Other Greens
Asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, green bell pepper, kale, parsley, tomato and spinach are all high in indoles, sulfoxide, sulforaphane, 5-methyl methionine or other phytochemicals which have potent anti-cancer effects. Consumption of these foods helps improve liver detoxification pathways and cholesterol metabolism.
Greens in general contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoid pigments that have cancer fighting properties as well as the ability to fight macular degeneration. Greens are also high in folic acid, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Celery is high in a phytochemical called 3-n-butyl phthalide which has been shown in some studies to lower blood pressure as much as 10% in those with elevated blood pressures. About 4 ribs of celery consumed each day is the amount usually recommended to produce this blood pressure lowering effect.
One cup of broccoli provides 45 calories, 4.5 grams of fiber and supplies more than the recommended daily requirement of vitamin C and beta-carotene, both of which play a major role in combating heart disease. Fiber in broccoli has been shown to lower cholesterol levels, control hypertension and assist in weight loss. Many of these vegetables are also high in magnesium, a crucial mineral in the prevention of both diabetes and heart disease.
Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant, lycopene, which has powerful anti-cancer effects. One recent study from Italy found that people who ate 7 or more servings a week of raw tomatoes were 60% less likely to develop cancer of the stomach, colon or rectum compared to those who ate two or fewer servings each week.
Carrots and carrot juice are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant with both anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects. Two carrots every day supply enough beta-carotene to cut the risk of stroke in half in men who have signs of heart disease. Women who eat five or more servings of carrots a week have a stroke rate 68 percent lower than those who ate no more than one serving.
Ginger root has been used for millennia in China and India for a whole host of health ailments that include menstrual cramps, seasickness, morning sickness, unpleasant body odor and arthritis.
Ginger supports the digestive process and prevents indigestion and abdominal cramping. It enhances circulation and can be beneficial to those with high blood pressure. Ginger can also reduce LDL (the bad) cholesterol and boost immunity against colds and flus. In large amounts, ginger root can be blood thinning so people on prescription anti-coagulants need to be careful with its use.
Ginkgo Biloba Extract
Even conventional medical doctors with minimal knowledge of herbal medicine are familiar with the powerful benefits of ginkgo biloba extract. This extract is taken from a tree that has existed in China for over 3000 years and has traditionally been used by natives from around the world as “brain food”. Ginkgo boosts memory, creativity and mental acuity as well as energy and stamina. Its powerful antioxidant effects also improve the integrity and health of the entire vascular system.
Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is a source of a family of bioflavonoids known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC). These are powerful free radical scavenging antioxidants thought to be 50 times more powerful than vitamin E and 20 times more powerful as antioxidants than vitamin C. Its main advantage as an antioxidant is that it is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier to provide antioxidant protection of the central nervous system.
In clinical practice naturopaths and other natural health care practitioners use OPCs in the treatment of allergies, circulatory disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome and numerous other conditions affecting the nervous system.
Lecithin (a.k.a. phosphatidylcholine) is an indispensible nutrient that allows our bodies to properly utilize fats from our diet. Derived from soy, it impacts cholesterol metabolism and helps prevent fat deposition in the liver. Lecithin is found in every cell of the body but is in especially high concentrations in the brain, nerves, sexual organs, the liver and gall bladder. It is one of the most important nutrients the body uses to keep bile soluble and as such it helps prevent gall stone formation by emulsifying cholesterol.
In the brain, lecithin is broken down into choline and then transformed into acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is essential for memory, thinking and muscle control. The body uses acetylcholine to transmit messages from one nerve cell to the other. High doses of lecithin have been used therapeutically to improve brain and cognitive function. The health of the skin and hair is also enhanced by lecithin.
Lecithin is also used by the body to help with the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
Licorice root extract
Licorice root extract has long been used to support adrenal gland function and blood sugar stabilization. In addition it has beneficial effects in the treatment of peptic ulcers in the stomach and duodenum. Many cough and cold remedies contain some licorice root because of its demulcent and expectorant properties.
In small amounts no one should be concerned with any potential harmful effects but in larger amounts, the adrenal glands can become too stimulated and this could lead to high blood pressure as well as excessive estrogen promoting effects such as fat deposition in susceptible individuals.
Nova Scotia Dulse
Nova Scotia Dulse is a fabulous source of rare minerals that have an important role to play in general health. It contains boron, a mineral important for bone and joint integrity. It is also high in iodine, a critical nutrient for optimal thyroid function. Lithium is another mineral found in Nova Scotia dulse and it has been found to be important in optimizing memory and other mental functions.
Nova Scotia is an excellent source of immune system boosting fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a class of carbohydrates also referred to as prebiotics in that they encourage the growth of friendly bacteria (probiotics) in the gastrointestinal tract.
Oat grass (aveena sativa) has traditionally been used for its anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is a good source of vitamins A, B complex, C and E as well as chlorophyll.
Oat grass is used by people to help with fatigue, all types of nerve conditions (neurasthenia), and skin problems like hives, seborrhea and eczema.
Peppermint leaf is used therapeutically to reduce indigestion and spasms in the colon. In Europe it is used to treat colds, fevers, headaches, nervous tension and insomnia. Gall bladder disorders and bile insufficiency are also conditions helped by peppermint leaf.
Peppermint oil has strong antimicrobial activity against viruses, bacteria and fungi. The oil contains menthol, a soothing natural remedy for pain and spasms, especially in muscles.
Pineapple juice is a good source of vitamin C, trace minerals and a protein digesting enzyme called bromelain. Aside from its ability to dissolve excessive mucous, bromelain has a long and successful history in healing musculoskeletal disorders including osteoarthritis.
Studies show that bromelain will reduce swelling, bruising, inflammation and pain after surgery and other injuries. Bromelain reduces nasal congestion, improves breathing and suppresses excessive coughing in people suffering from chronic sinusitis.
Bromelain is also effective as a natural digestive aid that reduces gas, bloating and cramping associated with such common conditions as the irritable bowel syndrome.
Bromelain should not be taken by anyone allergic to pineapples or who has peptic ulcers. People using blood-thinning medications should be careful using bromelain because of potential augmentation of the blood thinning effect of the prescribed medications.
Rhubarb is rich in polyphenols, a class of natural chemicals with known cancer cell killing abilities. Rhubarb has traditionally been used as a natural laxative due to its content of anthraquinones and it can also help lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting certain enzymes involved in cholesterol synthesis by the liver.
The one drawback to the use of large amounts of rhubarb is the fact that it contains high amounts of oxalates and this can increase the risk of kidney stones in susceptible individuals.
Royal jelly is the only source of nutrition for the queen bee and it allows her to outlive all the other bees in the hive. It is a creamy white liquid secreted by other bees for her exclusive use and is a very rich source proteins, essential amino acids, gamma globulin, essential fatty acids, sterols and acetylcholine.
Royal Jelly is also high in vitamins A, B complex (especially pantothenic acid aka vitamin B5) and minerals like calcium, potassium, silicon, sulfur, iron and copper. People who use royal jelly report a more youthful appearance to their skin, higher energy, a heightened libido, better memory, a greater resistance to infection as well as less anxiety, sleeplessness and moodiness.
Rye grass is best known as a source of a pollen extract called Cernilton that has been used to help improve urinary flow, especially in older men confronted with an enlarged prostate.
Rye grass works by decreasing inflammation in the urinary tract.
Siberian ginseng is known as an adaptogenic herb or one that adapts to the needs of the individual as opposed to just being a stimulant. It is basically very effective in helping the individual deal with stress, fatigue, immune system impairment and stamina.
Siberian ginseng also improves oxygen utilization because of its trace content of germanium and helps the body detoxify from various poisons, especially those derived from its own metabolism.
Spirulina is a whole food and considered by most experts to contain the highest nutrient density of any of the blue-green algae. It’s always been presumed that one cannot get all the nutrients one needs unless animal products are consumed. This is a false belief.
If you are a vegan concerned about getting adequate amounts of protein, iron and vitamin B12, spirulina may be a terrific addition to your diet because it fulfills these and many other daily nutritional needs. After all, it contains all the nine essential amino acids. Other nutrients derived from spirulina are iron, vitamin B12, the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), beta-carotene and many naturally chelated minerals (calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper, iodine, potassium, chromium, selenium and others).
Being a whole food, spirulina contains complex carbohydrate (rhamnose glycoside), a very good source of time released energy. In fact many athletes use spirulina as a natural way of boosting energy and stamina. It is also a commonly used healthy snack that can be of great help to those dieting to lose weight.
Wheat grass is basically the wheat grain which has been harvested at full nutritional maturity but before the gluten component has developed. It looks and tastes much like grass and has had an almost cult-like following for its “fountain of youth” claims. Wheat grass is highly concentrated in health promoting ingredients, including large amounts of chlorophyll, 20 amino acids, hundreds of enzymes, 90 minerals, numerous vitamins and other phytochemicals.
Wheat grass was popularized by Dr. Ann Wigmore of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston in the late 1960s and 70s and was heavily promoted as part of various natural cancer cures. Like many green foods, the body is made less acidic or more alkaline by consumption of large amounts of wheat grass. This alkalinity factor is thought by many scientists to be important for healing from any degenerative disease, including cancer.
A Practical Solution
Very few people have the time, money or energy to grow or purchase any number of these whole foods or herbs on a regular basis. Swallowing capsules of dehydrated extracts or their active ingredients might be an option but a great deal of the nutritive value of the whole food would be lost.
Fortunately, products containing all these foods and herbs can be found in a concentrated liquid form. Look for a purity, potency and freshness. The brand name you choose should be able to provide you with a detailed biochemical and toxicological analysis of the contents of the bottle and contain the majority of the foods and herbs discussed in this article. If you are on prescription medication for a health problem, check with your doctor if you are clear to take such a supplement.
Dr. Zoltan P. Rona practises 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.”
Alive Research Group; Gursche, Siegfried, Publisher; Rona, Zoltan P., Medical Editor. Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. Vancouver:Alive Books, 1998.
Vogel, Dr. H.C.A. The Nature Doctor. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, Inc. 1991.
Walker, Norman W., D.Sc. Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices. Prescott, AZ: Norwalk Press. 1970.
Heinerman, John. Encyclopedia of Healing Juices. West Nyack, NY: Parker Publishing. 1994.
Brien S, Lewith G, Walker AF, Middleton R, Prescott P, Bundy R. Bromelain as an adjunctive treatment for moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized placebo-controlled pilot study. QJM. (2006) 99.12: 841-850.
Brien S, Lewith G, Walker A, Hicks SM, Middleton D. Bromelain as a Treatment for Osteoarthritis: a Review of Clinical Studies. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. (2004) 1.3: 251-257.
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J 2000. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Copyright American Botanical Council. Publ. by Integrative Medicine Communications, 1029 Chestnut Street, Newton, MA 02464. Pp. 281-282.
Rye Grass: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-466RYE%20GRASS.aspx?activeIngredientId=466&activeIngredientName=RYE%20GRASS
Viral Infections: A Prevention Plan by author Zoltan Rona, MD, MSc
If you’ve watched TV or read the newspaper lately, you’ve probably noticed headlines about viral infections such as the flu, West Nile virus, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). According to Health Canada statistics, influenza alone kills more than 8,000 people each year in Canada, while AIDS accounts for at least 600 deaths. Not surprisingly, people are terrified and feel they must resort to potentially toxic drugs and unproven vaccines. Fortunately, natural medicine can offer us protection against viral invaders.
Since there are as yet no acceptable cures for any viral disease, most scientists argue that the safest and most effective thing to do is increase our immune power.
What is a Virus?
A virus is simply a fragment of DNA wrapped in a protective coat called a capsid. Viruses are hundreds of times smaller than any bacteria and can only be seen by an electron microscope. Unlike bacteria, viruses are not really alive. When a virus comes in contact with a living cell, it attaches itself to the cell wall and injects its DNA into the cell. The DNA then uses materials inside the living cell to reproduce new virus particles, eventually causing the cell to die and burst. New viral particles then go on to other cells that in turn become factories for reproducing the virus. Viruses cannot survive without a host or group of host cells; they can, however, lie dormant within any host or environment until they are provided with the proper conditions for their activity (e.g., weak immune system, drugs, stress, poor diet). Hand washing is the single most important and most basic prevention against the spread of both viral and bacterial infections. Plain soap and water should be sufficient for protection. Since there are as yet no acceptable cures for any viral disease, most scientists argue that the safest and most effective thing to do is increase our immune power. People most likely to be affected by viruses and other microbes are infants, children and the elderly, and populations with immature or weakened immune systems. A weakened immune system can be caused by stress, nutritional deficiencies, lack of exercise, an excess of toxins in the body (e.g., heavy metals, chemicals, antibiotics, steroids and other drugs), hereditary conditions and a long list of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Eating for Immunity
Making some simple changes to the diet can boost immunity against viruses. First, eliminate immune suppressors such as sugar, refined carbohydrates (white flour and white rice products), red meats and processed foods. Eating foodslaced with chemicals or those that are deficient in vitamins and minerals (empty calorie junk foods) increases the likelihood of catching viruses of any kind. Supplementing the diet with a “green food” drink containing chlorella, wheatgrass and other superfoods helps reduce deficiency risks and provides the body with essential nutrients. Strong, healthy cells resist infections of any kind, including viruses. Unsuspected food allergies can weaken this resistance. The body’s immunosuppressive reaction to these foods can occur up to five days after consumption and are thus not always apparent to the victim. Allergic foods are often those favourite (most craved) or frequently eaten foods, usually consumed in large amounts. The most common allergenic foods are wheat, milk, yeast, eggs, citrus fruits and soy. If you suspect this may be an issue for you, medical professionals can conduct appropriate food allergy tests. Ultimately, the elimination of food allergens usually helps prevent recurrent viral infections and can make a big difference to the overall health of the immune system.
When people consider using natural remedies to strengthen their immune systems, what typically comes to mind first are antioxidant vitamins and minerals. These include, in daily doses, vitamins A (10,000 IU), C (1,000 milligrams) and E (400 IU), beta-carotene (10,000 IU), glutathione (500 mg), selenium (200 micrograms) and zinc (30 mg). Other popular choices are herbs such as echinacea (500 mg or more daily) and red panax ginseng (500 mg or more), whey protein concentrate (30 grams), probiotics (one tsp or 3,500 mg) and bovine colostrums (two to four capsules twice daily). Proven natural antiviral remedies include oil of oregano (two drops under the tongue twice daily), mild silver protein (one tsp twice daily), thymus gland extracts (500 mg daily) and medical ozone or hydrogen peroxide (intravenous, rectal insufflations or as an ozone steam bath coordinated with a medical professional). A homeopathic practitioner will be able to properly prescribe remedies such asBryonia, Calendula, Sulphur, Ferrum phos, Hepar sulph, Silica and Calcarea, all of which can also be effective immune modulating substances. There are also numerous antiviral herbal remedies. Different remedies work for different people. It’s all a matter of what suits your biochemistry best, as well as trial and error with various remedies or combinations. So before buying into the current hype and fear over viral invasions, work with a natural health-care provider to create an immune-strengthening diet and supplement program personalized just for you.
PDF Table of Common Anti-Viral Remedies
Over-Stimulating the Immune System? Not a Chance! I am often asked whether there are any dangers in stimulating the immune system for too long or excessively with herbs such as echinacea, astragalus and reishi. The answer is an unqualified no. Most herbs, vitamins and minerals tend to modulate, as opposed to stimulate, the immune system. For example, many people have
heard that echinacea should not be taken for longer than a few weeks since this would somehow be detrimental. This is an unproven myth because studies show the opposite is true. The same goes for the use of immune-stimulating herbs in autoimmune diseases, where, supposedly, the immune system is overactive.
Theoretically, one can conclude that immune-stimulating herbs would be harmful, but the exact opposite is true. Further, there is not a shred of evidence that proves that immune-stimulating herbs are a problem in cases of autoimmunity.
Dr. Zoltan Rona is the best-selling author of several books, including Return to The Joy of Health (alive Books, 1995) and Natural Alternatives to Vaccinations (alive Books, 2000).
Source: alive #251, September 2003
Intravenous nutrient therapy: the "Myers' cocktail"
Building on the work of the late John Myers, MD, the author has used an intravenous vitamin-and-mineral formula for the treatment of a wide range of clinical conditions. The modified "Myers' cocktail," which consists of magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin C, has been found to be effective against acute asthma attacks, migraines, fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome), fibromyalgia, acute muscle spasm, upper respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, seasonal allergic rhinitis, cardiovascular disease, and other disorders. This paper presents a rationale for the therapeutic use of intravenous nutrients, reviews the relevant published clinical research, describes the author's clinical experiences, and discusses potential side effects and precautions.
(Altern Med Rev 2002;7(5):389-403)
John Myers, MD, a physician from Baltimore, Maryland, pioneered the use of intravenous (IV) vitamins and minerals as part of the overall treatment of various medical problems. The author never met Dr. Myers, despite living in Baltimore, but had heard of his work, and had occasionally used IV nutrients to treat fatigue or acute infections.
After Dr. Myers died in 1984, a number of his patients sought nutrient injections from the author. Some of them had been receiving injections monthly, weekly, or twice weekly for many years--25 years or more in a few cases. Chronic problems such as fatigue, depression, chest pain, or palpitations were well controlled by these treatments; however, the problems would recur if the patients went too long without an injection.
It was not clear exactly what the "Myers' cocktail" consisted of, as the information provided by patients was incomplete and no published or written material on the treatment was available. It appeared that Myers used a 10-mL syringe and administered by slow IV push a combination of magnesium chloride, calcium gluconate, thiamine, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, and dilute hydrochloric acid. The exact doses of individual components were unknown, but Myers apparently used a two-percent solution of magnesium chloride, rather than the more widely available preparations containing 20-percent magnesium chloride or 50-percent magnesium sulfate.
The author took over the care of Myers' patients, using a modified version of his IV regimen. Most notably, the magnesium dose was increased by approximately 10-fold by using 20-percent magnesium chloride, in order to approximate the doses reported to be safe and effective for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. (1,2) In addition, the hydrochloric acid was eliminated and the vitamin C was increased, particularly for problems related to allergy or infection. Folic acid was not included, as it tends to form a precipitate when mixed with other nutrients.
This treatment was suggested for other patients, and it soon became apparent that the modified Myers' cocktail (hereafter referred to as "the Myers'") was helpful for a wide range of clinical conditions, often producing dramatic results. Over an 11-year period, approximately 15,000 injections were administered in an outpatient setting to an estimated 800-1,000 different patients. Conditions that frequently responded included asthma attacks, acute migraines, fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome), fibromyalgia, acute muscle spasm, upper respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, and seasonal allergic rhinitis. A small number of patients with congestive heart failure, angina, chronic urticaria, hyperthyroidism, dysmenorrhea, or other conditions were also treated with the Myers' and most showed marked improvement. Many relatively healthy patients chose to receive periodic injections because it enhanced their overall well being for periods of a week to several months.
During the past 16 years these clinical results have been presented at more than 20 medical conferences to several thousand physicians. Today, many doctors (probably more than 1,000 in the United States) use the Myers'. Some have made further modifications according to their own preferences. In querying audiences from the lectern and from informal discussions with colleagues at conferences, the author has yet to encounter a practitioner whose experience with this treatment has differed significantly from his own.
Despite the many positive anecdotal reports, there is only a small amount of published research supporting the use of this treatment. There is one uncontrolled trial in which the Myers' was beneficial in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain syndromes, including fibromyalgia. Intravenous magnesium alone has been reported, mainly in open trials, to be effective against angina, acute migraines, cluster headaches, depression, and chronic pain. In recent years, double-blind trials have shown IV magnesium can rapidly abort acute asthma attacks. There are also several published case reports in which IV calcium provided rapid relief from asthma or anaphylactic reactions.
This paper presents a rationale for the use of IV nutrient therapy, reviews the relevant published clinical research, describes personal clinical experiences using the Myers', and discusses potential side effects and precautions.
Theoretical Basis for IV Nutrient Therapy
Intravenous administration of nutrients can achieve serum concentrations not obtainable with oral, or even intramuscular (IM), administration. For example, as the oral dose of vitamin C is increased progressively, the serum concentration of ascorbate tends to approach an upper limit, as a result of both saturation of gastrointestinal absorption and a sharp increase in renal clearance of the vitamin. (3) When the daily intake of vitamin C is increased 12-fold, from 200 mg/day to 2,500 mg/day, the plasma concentration increases by only 25 percent, from 1.2 to 1.5 mg/dL. The highest serum vitamin C level reported after oral administration of pharmacological doses of the vitamin is 9.3 mg/dL. In contrast, IV administration of 50 g/day of vitamin C resulted in a mean peak plasma level of 80 mg/dL. (4) Similarly, oral supplementation with magnesium results in little or no change in serum magnesium concentrations, whereas IV administration can double or triple the serum levels, (5,6) at least for a short period of time.
Various nutrients have been shown to exert pharmacological effects, which are in many cases dependent on the concentration of the nutrient. For example, an antiviral effect of vitamin C has been demonstrated at a concentration of 10-15 mg/dL, (4) a level achievable with IV but not oral therapy. At a concentration of 88 mg/dL in vitro, vitamin C destroyed 72 percent of the histamine present in the medium. (7) Lower concentrations were not tested, but it is possible the serum levels of vitamin C attainable by giving several grams in an IV push would produce an antihistamine effect in vivo. Such an effect would have implications for the treatment of various allergic conditions. Magnesium ions promote relaxation of both vascular (8) and bronchial (9) smooth muscle--effects that might be useful in the acute treatment of vasospastic angina and bronchial asthma, respectively. It is likely these and other nutrients exert additional, as yet unidentified, pharmacological effects when present in high concentrations.
In addition to having direct pharmacological effects, IV nutrient therapy may be more effective than oral or IM treatment for correcting intracellular nutrient deficits. Some nutrients are present at much higher concentrations in the cells than in the serum. For example, the average magnesium concentration in myocardial cells is 10 times higher than the extracellular concentration. This ratio is maintained in healthy cells by an active-transport system that continually pumps magnesium ions into cells against the concentration gradient. In certain disease states, the capacity of membrane pumps to maintain normal concentration gradients may be compromised. In one study, the mean myocardial magnesium concentration was 65-percent lower in patients with cardiomyopathy than in healthy controls, (10) implying a reduction in the intracellular-to-extracellular ratio to less than 4-to-1. As magnesium plays a key role in mitochondrial energy production, intracellular magnesium deficiency may exacerbate heart failure and lead to a vicious cycle of further intracellular magnesium loss and more severe heart failure.
Intravenous administration of magnesium, by producing a marked, though transient, increase in the serum concentration, provides a window of opportunity for ailing cells to take up magnesium against a smaller concentration gradient. Nutrients taken up by cells after an IV infusion may eventually leak out again, but perhaps some healing takes place before they do. If cells are repeatedly "flooded" with nutrients, the improvement may be cumulative. It has been the author's observation that some patients who receive a series of IV injections become progressively healthier. In these patients, the interval between treatments can be gradually increased, and eventually the injections are no longer necessary.
Other patients require regular injections for an indefinite period of time in order to control their medical problems. This dependence on IV injections could conceivably result from any of the following: (1) a genetically determined impairment in the capacity to maintain normal intracellular nutrient concentrations; (11) (2) an inborn error of metabolism that can be controlled only by maintaining a higher than normal concentration of a particular nutrient; or (3) a renal leak of a nutrient. (12) In some cases, continued IV therapy may be necessary because a disease state is too advanced to be reversible.
The Modified Myers' Cocktail
See Table 1 for the nutrients that make up the modified Myers' cocktail.
Dexpanthenol is the commercially available injectable form of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). One milliliter orb complex 100 contains 100 mg each of thiamine and niacinamide, and 2 mg each of riboflavin, dexpanthenol, and pyridoxine.
All ingredients are drawn into one syringe, and 8-20 mL of sterile water (occasionally more) is added to reduce the hypertonicity of the solution. After gently mixing by turning the syringe a few times, the solution is administered slowly, usually over a period of 5-15 minutes (depending on the doses of minerals used and on individual tolerance), through a 25G butterfly needle. Occasionally, smaller or larger doses than those listed in Table 1 have been used. Low doses are often given to elderly or frail patients, and to those with hypotension. Doses for children are lower than those listed, and are reduced roughly in proportion to body weight. The most commonly used regimen has been 4 mL magnesium, 2 mL calcium, 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex, 6 mL vitamin C, and 8 mL sterile water.
The following is a review of conditions successfully treated with the Myers'. The numbers of patients treated and proportion that responded are, for the most part, estimates.
Case #1: A five-year-old boy presented with a two-year history of asthma. During the previous 12 months he had suffered 20 asthma attacks severe enough to require a visit to the hospital emergency department. His symptoms appeared to be exacerbated by several foods, and skin tests had been positive for 23 of 26 inhalants tested. His initial treatment consisted of identification and avoidance of allergenic foods, as well as daily oral supplementation with pyridoxine (50 mg), vitamin C (1,000 mg), calcium (200 mg), magnesium (100 mg), and pantothenic acid (100 mg), in two divided doses with meals. On this regimen, he experienced marked improvement, and had no asthma attacks requiring medical care until nearly 11 months after his initial visit.
At that time the child, now six years old, presented for an emergency visit with mild but persistent wheezing and difficulty breathing. He was given a slow IV infusion containing 6 mL vitamin C, 1.4 mL magnesium, and 0.5 mL each of calcium, B12, B6, B5, and B complex. The symptoms resolved within two minutes and did not recur.
Over the ensuing eight years and three months, he received a total of 63 IV treatments for acute exacerbations of asthma. In most instances, a single injection resulted in marked improvement or complete relief within two minutes, and the acute symptoms did not recur. Occasionally, a second injection was needed after a period of 12 hours to two days, and during one episode three treatments were required over a four-day period. As the patient grew, the nutrient doses were gradually increased; by age 10 he was receiving 10 mL vitamin C, 3 mL magnesium, 1.5 mL calcium, and 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex.
The treatment was unsuccessful only once; on that occasion the patient presented with generalized urticaria, angioedema, and unusually severe asthma, after the inadvertent ingestion of an artificial food coloring (FD&C red #40) and other potential allergens. Three separate injections given over a 60-minute period produced transient improvement each time. However, the symptoms returned, and he was taken to the emergency room and hospitalized.
Despite that single treatment failure, the patient and his parents reported that IV nutrient therapy worked faster, produced a more sustained improvement, and caused considerably fewer side effects than the conventional therapies he had received previously in the emergency room.
The author has treated approximately a dozen asthmatics (mainly adults) with the Myers' for acute asthma attacks; in most instances, marked improvement or complete relief occurred within minutes. A few patients received maintenance injections once weekly or every other week during difficult times and reported the treatments kept their asthma under better control.
Intravenous magnesium is now well documented as an effective treatment for acute asthma. In one study, 38 patients with an acute exacerbation of moderate-to-severe asthma that had failed to respond to conventional beta-agonist therapy were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, IV infusions of either magnesium sulfate (1.2 g over a 20-minute period) or placebo (saline). (13) Peak expiratory flow rate improved to a significantly greater extent in the magnesium group (225 to 297 L/min) than the placebo group (208 to 216 L/min). In addition, the hospitalization rate was significantly lower in the magnesium group than in the placebo group (37% vs. 79%; p < 0.01). No patient had a significant drop in blood pressure or change in heart rate after receiving magnesium.
In a second double-blind study, 149 patients with acute asthma who were being treated with inhaled beta-agonists and IV steroids were randomly assigned to receive an IV infusion of magnesium sulfate (2 g over 20 minutes) or saline placebo, beginning 30 minutes after presentation. (14) Among patients with severe asthma (defined as forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FE[V.sub.1]] less than 25 percent of predicted value) compared with placebo, magnesium significantly reduced the hospitalization rate (33.3% vs. 78.6%; p < 0.01) and significantly improved FE[V.sub.1]. However, magnesium treatment was of no benefit to patients with moderate asthma (defined as baseline FE[V.sub.1] between 25 and 75 percent of predicted value).
In two placebo-controlled studies of asthmatic children, IV magnesium sulfate significantly improved pulmonary function and significantly reduced hospitalization rates during acute exacerbations that had failed to respond to conventional therapy. (15,16) A dose of 40 mg per kg body weight (maximum dose, 2 g) given over a 20-minute period appeared to be more effective than 25 mg per kg. Higher doses of IV magnesium sulfate (10-20 g over 1 hour, followed by 0.4 g per hour for 24 hours) have been used successfully in the treatment of life-threatening status asthmaticus. (6) In a few studies, IV magnesium failed to improve pulmonary function or to reduce the need for hospitalization. (17,18) However, a meta-analysis of seven randomized trials concluded that IV magnesium reduced the need for hospitalization by 90 percent among patients with severe asthma, although the treatment was not beneficial for patients with moderate asthma. (19)
Calcium is the only other component of the Myers' that has been studied as a treatment for acute exacerbations of asthma. In an early report, a series of IV infusions of calcium chloride relieved asthma symptoms in three consecutive patients, with relief occurring almost immediately after some injections. (20) Intravenous and IM administration of an unspecified calcium salt temporarily inhibited severe anaphylactic reactions in two other patients. (21)
Nutrients other than magnesium and calcium may have contributed to the beneficial effect observed in asthma patients. Oral vitamins C (22) and B6 (23,24) and IM vitamin B12 (25) have each been used with some success against asthma, although none of these nutrients has been tested as a treatment for acute attacks. Intramuscular administration of niacinamide has been shown to reduce the severity of experimentally induced asthma in guinea pigs, (26) and pantothenic acid appears to have an anti-allergy effect in humans. (27)
On one occasion, a patient's asthma attack was treated with IV magnesium alone. Although the symptoms resolved rapidly, they returned within 10-15 minutes. The remaining constituents of the Myers' (without additional magnesium) were then administered, and the symptoms disappeared almost immediately and did not return. Thus, it seems the Myers' is more effective than magnesium alone in the treatment of asthma attacks.
Case #2: A 44-year-old female suffered from frequent migraines, which appeared to be triggered in many instances by exposure to environmental chemicals or, occasionally, to ingestion of foods to which she was allergic. Allergy desensitization therapy had provided little benefit. Over a six-year period, the patient was given IV therapy on approximately 70 occasions for migraines. Nearly all of these injections resulted in considerable improvement or complete relief within several minutes, although a few treatments were ineffective. Through trial and error, it was determined her most effective regimen was 16 mL vitamin C, 5 mL magnesium, 4 mL calcium, 2 mL B6, and 1 mL each of B 12, B5, and B complex. The 4-mL dose of calcium was found to provide better relief than lower calcium doses.
Over the years, a half dozen other patients have presented one or more times with an acute migraine. In almost every instance, the Myers' produced a gratifying response within a few minutes.
The beneficial effect of IV magnesium as a treatment for migraine has been demonstrated in recent clinical trials. In one study, 40 patients with an acute migraine received 1 g magnesium sulfate over a five-minute period. (28) Fifteen minutes after the infusion, 35 patients (87.5%) reported at least a 50-percent reduction of pain, and nine patients (22.5%) experienced complete relief. In 21 of 35 patients who benefited, the improvement persisted for 24 hours or more. Patients with an initially low serum ionized magnesium concentration (less than 0.54 mMol/L) were significantly more likely to experience long-lasting improvement than were patients with initially higher serum ionized magnesium levels. In a single-blind trial that included 30 patients with an acute migraine, IV administration of magnesium sulfate (1 g over 15 minutes) completely and permanently relieved pain in 13 of 15 patients (86.6%), whereas no patients in the placebo group became pain free (p < 0.001 for difference between groups). (29) In addition, magnesium treatment resulted in rapid disappearance of nausea, vomiting, and photophobia in all 14 patients who had experienced those symptoms.
A single 1-g dose of magnesium sulfate has also been reported to abort an episode of cluster headaches in seven of 22 patients (32%), and a series of three to five injections provided sustained relief in an additional two patients (9%). (30)
It is not clear whether the Myers' is more effective than magnesium alone for migraines; however, one patient did experience noticeable benefit from IV calcium.
Many patients with unexplained fatigue have responded to the Myers', with results lasting only a few days or as long as several months. Patients who benefited often returned at their own discretion for another treatment when the effect had worn off. One patient with fatigue associated with chronic hepatitis B experienced marked and progressive improvement in energy levels with weekly or twice-monthly injections.
Approximately 10 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) received a minimum of four treatments (usually once weekly for four weeks), with more than half showing clear improvement. One patient experienced dramatic benefit after the first injection, whereas in other cases three or four injections were given before improvement was evident. A few patients became progressively healthier with continued injections and were eventually able to stop treatment. Several others did not overcome their illness, but periodic injections helped them function better.
There is some research support for the use of parenteral magnesium in patients with fatigue. One study found magnesium deficiency, demonstrated by an IV magnesium-load test, in 47 percent of 93 patients with unexplained chronic fatigue, including 50 with CFS. (31) In a second study, the mean erythrocyte magnesium concentration was significantly lower in 20 patients with CFS than in healthy controls. (32)
As one arm of the second study, 32 patients with CFS were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, 1 g magnesium sulfate IM or placebo, once weekly for six weeks. Twelve (80%) of 15 patients given magnesium reported improvement (e.g., more energy, a better emotional state, and less pain) and fatigue was eliminated completely in seven cases. In contrast, only three (18%) of 17 placebo-treated patients improved (p = 0.0015 for difference between groups), and in no case was the fatigue completely eliminated. According to one report, at least half of CFS patients with magnesium deficiency benefited from oral magnesium supplementation; however, some patients needed IM injections. (33) Other investigators, using the IV magnesium-load test, found no evidence of magnesium deficiency in patients with CFS, and observed no improvement in symptoms following a single infusion of magnesium sulfate (6 g in one hour). (34)
Vitamin B12, given IM, has been reported to be helpful for patients with unexplained fatigue, (35) as well as those with CFS. (36) While the results obtained with the Myers' may be attributable in part to vitamin B12, many patients who responded to IV therapy obtained little or no benefit from IM vitamin B12 alone.
Case #3: A 48-year-old woman presented with a six-year history of fairly constant myalgias and arthralgias, with pain in the neck, back, and hip, and tightness in the left arm. Six months previously she was found to have an elevated sedimentation rate (50 mm/hr). She was diagnosed by a rheumatologist as possibly having polymyalgia rheumatica, although the diagnosis of fibromyalgia was also considered. Her history was also significant for migraines about eight times per year and chronic nasal congestion. Physical examination revealed extremely stiff muscles, with decreased range of motion in many areas of her body.
The patient was given a therapeutic trial consisting of 6 mL vitamin C, 4 mL magnesium, 2.5 mL calcium, and 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex. At the end of the injection, she got off the table and, with a look of amazement, announced her muscle aches and joint pains were gone for the first time in six years. This treatment was repeated after a week (at which time her symptoms had not returned), followed by every other week for several months, then once monthly for three years. Her initial regimen also included the identification and avoidance of allergenic foods and treatment with low-dose desiccated thyroid (eventually stabilized at 60 mg per day). She discovered that eating refined sugar caused myalgias and arthralgias, and that thyroid hormone improved her energy level, mood, and overall well being. During the three years of monthly maintenance injections she reported symptoms would begin to recur if she went much longer than a month between treatments. However, they were never as severe as they were before she began receiving IV therapy.
The author has given the Myers' to approximately 30 patients with fibromyalgia; half have experienced significant improvement, in a few cases after the first injection, but more often after three or four treatments.
The beneficial effect of parenteral nutrient therapy has been confirmed by one study published only as an abstract. Eighty-six patients with chronic muscular complaints, including myofascial pain, relapsing soft tissue injuries, and fibromyalgia, received IM or IV injections of magnesium, either alone or in combination with calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin C. (37) Improvement occurred in 74 percent of the patients; of those, 64 percent required four or fewer injections for optimal results. A minority of patients required long-term oral or parenteral magnesium to maintain improvement. The positive response to parenteral magnesium is consistent with the observation that nearly half of patients with fibromyalgia have intracellular magnesium deficiency, despite having normal serum levels of the mineral. (38)
Case #4: A 46-year-old man presented with a history of depression and anxiety since childhood. He had been in psychoanalysis for the past eight years. A therapeutic trial with IV nutrients was considered because the patient reported that consumption of alcohol (known to deplete magnesium) aggravated his symptoms, and because he was taking a magnesium-depleting thiazide diuretic for hypertension. He was initially given 1 mL each of magnesium, B12, B6, B5, and B complex, which resulted in a 70-80 percent reduction in his symptoms for one week. A second injection produced a similar response that lasted two weeks. Through trial and error it was determined the most effective treatment was 5 mL magnesium, 3 mL B complex, and 1 mL each of B12, B6, and B5. The addition of calcium to the injection appeared to block some of the benefit. Both oral and IM administration of the same nutrients were tried but found to be ineffective. Weekly injections provided almost complete relief from symptoms and allowed him to discontinue psychotherapy. The patient noted that rapidly administered injections provided longer-lasting relief than did slower injections. The infusion rate was therefore carefully and progressively increased, without causing any adverse side effects or changes in blood pressure or heart rate. The patient reported that when the treatment was given over a one-minute period, the effect would last approximately two weeks, whereas a slower injection (such as five minutes) would last only a week. Approximately four years after initial treatment, he was able to reduce the frequency of injections to once monthly or less.
Many other patients with depression and/ or anxiety have shown a positive response to the Myers'. However, this treatment should not be considered first-line therapy for major depression. It seems to be helpful only for certain subsets of depressed individuals, such as those who also suffer from fibromyalgia, migraines, excessive stress, or alcohol-induced exacerbations. Shealy et al have observed an antidepressant effect of IV magnesium in some patients with chronic pain. (39)
Case #5: A 79-year-old man was seen at home in end-stage heart failure, after having suffered four myocardial infarctions. During the previous 12 months, spent mostly in the hospital, he had become progressively worse; his ejection fraction had fallen to 19 percent and his body weight had declined from 171 pounds to a severely cachectic 113 pounds. He was confined to bed and required supplemental oxygen much of the time. He also had severe peripheral occlusive arterial disease, which had resulted in the development of gangrene of six toes. A peripheral angiogram revealed complete occlusion of both femoral-popliteal arteries, with no detectable blood flow to the distal extremities. Two independent vascular surgeons had recommended bilateral above-the-knee amputations to prevent development of septicemia. However, the cardiologist advised the patient that his heart would not last more than another month, so the patient declined the amputations.
He was treated with weekly IM injections of magnesium sulfate (1 g) for eight weeks, and prescribed oral supplementation with vitamins C and E, B complex, folic acid, and zinc. The magnesium injections appeared to reduce the pain in his gangrenous toes considerably, with the benefit lasting about five days each time. Six weeks after the first injection, his ejection fraction had increased from 19 percent to 36 percent and he no longer required supplemental oxygen. After eight weeks, the IM injections were replaced by weekly IV injections, consisting of 5 mL magnesium, 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex, and a low-dose (0.2 mL) trace mineral preparation (MTE-5 containing: zinc, copper, chromium, selenium, and manganese). After a total of 18 months, his weight had increased from 113 to 147 pounds, which was remarkable as cardiac cachexia is generally considered to be irreversible. In addition, the gangrenous areas on his toes had sloughed and been replaced almost entirely by healthy tissue. Intravenous therapy was continued and eventually reduced to every other week. The patient lived for eight years and died at age 87 from multiple organ failure.
Of the handful of other patients with angina or heart failure who received IV or IM injections of magnesium (with or without B vitamins), all showed significant improvement. The results with angina are consistent with those reported by others using parenteral magnesium therapy. (40-42)
Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Case #6: A 40-year-old male presented with a cold and a one-day history of fatigue, nasal congestion, and rhinorrhea. He was given an IV infusion of 16 mL vitamin C, 3 mL magnesium, 1.5 mL calcium, and 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex. By the end of the 10-minute treatment he was symptom free. The cold symptoms did return the next day but were only 10 percent as severe as before the injection.
One-quarter to one-third of patients who received the Myers' for an acute respiratory infection experienced marked improvement, either immediately or by the next morning. Approximately half of patients given this treatment reported that it shortened the duration of their illness. Patients who benefited tended to have a similar response if treated for a subsequent infection, whereas non-responders tended to remain non-responders.
Case #7: A 32-year-old female had a long history of chronic sinusitis. Avoidance of allergenic foods and oral supplementation with vitamin C and other nutrients had provided only minimal benefit. She was given an IV infusion of 20 mL vitamin C, 4 mL magnesium, 2 mL calcium, and 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex; this protocol was repeated the next day. At the time these injections were given she had been experiencing persistent sinus problems for a year. Her symptoms resolved rapidly after the injections and she remained relatively symptom free for more than six months. The same treatment given at a later date was also helpful, although the benefit was not as pronounced as the first time.
One other patient with chronic sinusitis had a similar response to back-to-back injections, while a few others showed no improvement.
Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis
Case #8: A 38-year-old man had a long history of seasonal allergic rhinitis, occurring each spring and lasting about a month. Symptoms included nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and fatigue. During a symptomatic period, an IV infusion of 12 mL vitamin C, 3 mL magnesium, and 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex provided rapid relief. This treatment was repeated as needed during the hay fever season (once weekly or less) and successfully controlled his symptoms. In subsequent years he began the IVs shortly before, and repeated them periodically during, the hay fever season; this approach prevented the development of symptoms.
Case #9: A 35-year-old man addicted to morphine came to the office in the early stages of withdrawal, with diaphoresis and extreme agitation. He was given an IV infusion of 16 mL vitamin C, 5 mL magnesium, 2.5 mL calcium, and 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex. In his agitated state he was unable to sit still on the exam table, so we walked up and down the hall with a butterfly needle in his arm. Halfway through the injection, he was able to sit still, and by the end of the injection his withdrawal symptoms were alleviated. The symptoms returned 36 hours later; he therefore came for another treatment, which again relieved the symptoms within minutes. He returned the next day, still symptom free, for a third injection, which carried him uneventfully through the remainder of the withdrawal period.
Case #10: A 71-year-old woman had chronic urticaria with hives present somewhere on her body nearly every day for 10 years. An allergy-elimination diet and oral supplementation with vitamin C and other nutrients provided little or no relief. She was given an IV infusion of 12 mL vitamin C, 3 mL magnesium, 1.5 mL calcium, and 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex. The same treatment was repeated the following day. After these injections the hives resolved rapidly and did not recur for more than a year. When the lesions did recur, the IV treatment was repeated but was ineffective.
Case #11: An 18-year-old, 235-pound high school wrestler developed a flu-like illness four days before a major tournament. Two days before the three-day tournament, when it appeared he might have to miss the event, he was given an IV injection of 16 mL vitamin C, 5 mL magnesium, 2.5 mL calcium, and 1 mL each of B12, B6, B5, and B complex. The next morning he remarked that he had more energy than he had ever had in his life. This energy boost persisted for the duration of the tournament, at which he took second place, a better performance than at any other time in his career.
In this era in which many athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs, it is not the author's intention to encourage athletes to seek another "boost" with IV nutrients. However, this case does demonstrate that nutritional factors can play an important role in athletic performance.
Two patients with hyperthyroidism were treated with the Myers' once or twice weekly for several weeks. In one case, the treatment controlled the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, although there was no reduction in
thyroid-hormone levels. The injections were discontinued after medical therapy had restored the hormone levels to normal. In the other case, symptoms improved markedly after the first injection and thyroid-function tests, measured two weeks later, returned to normal.
The potential value of IV nutrient therapy for patients with hyperthyroidism is supported by several studies. Serum and erythrocyte magnesium levels have been found to be low in patients with Graves' disease. (43) In addition, daily IM injections of magnesium chloride (20 mL of a 14-percent solution) for 3-7 weeks reduced the size of the thyroid gland and improved the clinical condition of three patients with hyperthyroidism. (44) Intravenous vitamin B6 (50 mg per day) was reported to relieve muscle weakness in three patients with hyperthyroidism, (45) and animal studies indicate vitamin B12 can counteract some of the adverse effects of experimentally induced hyperthyroidism. (46,47)
The modified Myers' cocktail seems to provide rapid relief for patients with acute muscle spasm resulting from sleeping in the wrong position or from overuse. It also has been observed to relieve tension headaches in many cases. One patient (a 70-year-old female) with chronic torticollis experienced moderate pain relief with periodic treatments. Of three patients with acute dysmenorrhea treated with the Myers', two experienced almost instant pain relief. One patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease intermittently received weekly IV injections and reported the treatments improved his strength and breathing.
Choice of Ingredients and Administration
At the time of this writing, cyanocobalamin is a widely available form of injectable vitamin B 12, whereas hydroxocobalamin can be obtained only through a compounding pharmacist. While both forms of the vitamin are effective, hydroxocobalamin is preferred because it produces more prolonged increases in serum vitamin B12 levels. (48)
It has been the author's impression (and that of other clinicians) that some patients who respond to IM vitamin B12 injections do not experience the same benefit when vitamin B12 is given as part of the Myers'. It is possible that vitamin C or another component of the Myers' destroys some of the vitamin B12, (49) or that IV vitamin B12 is lost more rapidly in the urine than IM vitamin B12. Therefore, for some patients receiving IV nutrient therapy, the vitamin B12 is given IM in a separate syringe.
Injectable magnesium can be obtained either as magnesium chloride hexahydrate (20% solution), commonly called magnesium chloride, or magnesium sulfate heptahydrate (50% solution), commonly called magnesium sulfate. Although most clinical research has been done with magnesium sulfate, some experts prefer magnesium chloride for IV use because of its greater retention in the body. (50) The author has used magnesium chloride almost exclusively for IV therapy, while reserving the more concentrated magnesium sulfate for IM administration. For those using magnesium sulfate, it should be noted that 1 g (2 mL of a 50-percent solution) is equivalent to 0.8 g (4 mL of a 20-percent solution) of magnesium chloride (each contains 4 mMol of magnesium). In addition, if 50-percent magnesium sulfate is given IV instead of 20-percent magnesium chloride, it should be diluted appropriately with sterile water.
Injectable vitamin C is currently available in concentrations of 222 and 500 mg per mL. The author typically uses the lower concentration for IV therapy. If the higher concentration is used, it should be diluted appropriately with sterile water.
Occasionally, trace minerals were included as part of a nutrient infusion. The usual dose was 0.2-0.5 mL of MTE-5, which contains (per mL): zinc 1 mg, copper 0.4 mg, chromium 4 mcg, selenium 20 mcg, and manganese 0.1 mg. The preparation was diluted six-fold and administered over a period of 1-2 minutes in a separate syringe at the end of the Myers' push. Two adverse reactions have been noted with 10 mg of zinc given by slow IV push; consequently, when giving trace minerals by IV push, very small doses are used. Trace minerals should not be mixed in the same syringe with the components of the Myers', as doing so often causes formation of a precipitate.
Side Effects and Precautions
The Myers' often produces a sensation of heat, particularly with large doses or rapid administration. This effect appears to be due primarily to the magnesium, although rapid injections of calcium have been reported to produce a similar effect. (22) The sensation typically begins in the chest and migrates to the vaginal area in women and to the rectal area in men. For most patients the heat does not cause excessive discomfort; indeed, some patients enjoy it. However, if the infusion is given too rapidly, the warmth can be overbearing. Some women experience a sensation of sexual pleasure in association with the vaginal warmth; on rare occasions, an orgasm may occur during an IV infusion. Other patients have remarked their visual acuity and color perception become sharper immediately after an injection, as if someone had turned the lights on. In some cases, this effect lasts as long as one or two days.
Too rapid administration of magnesium can cause hypotension, which can lead to lightheadedness or even syncope. Patients receiving a Myers' should be advised to report the onset of excessive heat (which can be a harbinger of hypotension) or lightheadedness. If either of these symptoms occurs, the infusion should be stopped temporarily and not resumed until the symptoms have resolved (usually after 10-30 seconds). Patients with low blood pressure tend to tolerate less magnesium than do patients with normal blood pressure or hypertension. In a small proportion of patients, even a low-dose regimen given very slowly causes persistent hypotension; in those cases, the treatment is usually discontinued and may or may not be attempted at a later date.
Although too rapid administration can have adverse consequences, some patients appear to experience more pronounced benefits from rapid infusions than from slower ones, presumably because of higher peak serum concentrations of nutrients. While both the risks and benefits should be taken into account in determining an infusion rate, when in doubt one should err on the side of safety. When administering the Myers' to a patient for the first time, it is best to give 0.5-1.0 mL and then wait 30 seconds or so before proceeding with the rest of the infusion. Doing so may help one distinguish between a vasovagal reaction and a hypotensive response to the injected compounds. Patients who experience a vasovagal reaction at the beginning of an infusion can usually tolerate the remainder of the treatment after the reaction has worn off.
For elderly or frail individuals, it may be advisable to start with lower doses than those listed in Table 1, or to consider IM administration of magnesium and B vitamins as an alternative to IV therapy. However, many elderly patients have tolerated, and benefited from, IV therapy.
Patients who are deficient in both magnesium and potassium may have an influx of potassium into the cells after receiving IV magnesium. (51) This occurs because magnesium activates the membrane pump that promotes the intracellular uptake of potassium. The shift of potassium from the serum to the intracellular space can trigger hypokalemia. The author has seen two patients develop severe muscle cramps several hours after receiving a Myers'; both patients had been taking medications known to deplete potassium. Hypokalemia also increases the risk of digoxin-induced cardiac arrhythmias. As a first-year resident, unaware of this potential problem, the author administered IV magnesium in the hospital to an elderly woman who was taking digoxin and a potassium-depleting diuretic. She quickly developed an arrhythmia, which required short-term treatment in the intensive care unit.
Patients considered to be at risk of potassium deficiency include those taking potassium-depleting diuretics, beta-agonists, or glucocorticoids; those with diarrhea or vomiting; and those who are generally malnourished. If a patient is hypokalemic, the hypokalemia should be corrected before IV magnesium therapy is considered. However, a normal serum potassium concentration is not a guarantee against intracellular potassium depletion. For patients considered to be at risk of potassium deficiency, administration of 10-20 mEq of potassium orally just prior to the infusion, and again 4-6 hours later is recommended. Alter this practice was instituted, no further problems with magnesium-induced muscle cramps were encountered.
The addition of even small amounts of potassium to an IV push is strongly discouraged, because of the theoretical risk of triggering an arrhythmia during the first pass when the bolus reaches the cardiac conducting system.
Intravenous calcium is contraindicated in patients taking digoxin. In addition, hypercalcemia call cause cardiac arrhythmias. For that reason, the author has tended to leave calcium out of the Myers' when treating patients with cardiac disease, although there is no strong evidence it is dangerous for such patients.
Anaphylactic reactions to IV thiamine have been reported on rare occasions. Only three such reactions have been identified in the U.S. literature since 1946. However, in the world literature, a total of nine deaths attributed to thiamine administration were reported between 1965 and 1985. (52) These reactions have occurred after oral, IV, IM, or subcutaneous administration, and are believed to be due in part to a nonspecific release of histamine. Anaphylactic reactions have been seen most often after multiple administrations of thiamine. In the United Kingdom, between 1970 and 1988, there were approximately four reports of anaphylactoid reactions for every million ampules of IV B vitamins sold, and one report for every 5 million IM ampules sold. (53)
It is possible the risk of anaphylaxis from the Myers' is even lower than the low risk associated with the use of IV thiamine. Many patients who receive parenteral thiamine are alcoholics, and alcoholism frequently causes magnesium deficiency. Animal studies suggest thiamine supplementation in the presence of magnesium deficiency increases the severity of the magnesium deficiency. (54) A deficiency of magnesium can lead to spontaneous release of histamine, (55) and has been reported to increase the incidence of experimentally induced anaphylaxis in animals. (56) The presence of magnesium in the Myers' might, therefore, reduce the risk of an anaphylactic reaction to thiamine. Moreover, as the Myers' has been used successfully to treat asthma and urticaria, it is likely the formula as a whole provides prophylaxis against anaphylaxis. Nevertheless, practitioners who administer IV nutrients should be prepared to deal with the rare anaphylactic reaction.
A small number of patients (approximately one percent) felt "out of sorts" for up to a day after receiving an injection and, in two cases, this reaction lasted one and two weeks, respectively. It is not clear whether these reactions were due to the preservatives in some of the injectable preparations (e.g., benzyl alcohol, methylparabens, or others) or to the nutrients themselves. In most cases (including a few patients with asthma) preservative-containing products were used because the use of multi-dose vials reduced the cost of treatment to the patient. However, for some individuals with known chemical sensitivities or other significant allergy-related problems, preservative-free preparations were used.
Although the Myers' is extremely hypertonic, it rarely seemed to cause problems related to its hypertonicity. Two or three patients developed phlebitis at the injection site; for those patients, later treatments were diluted with sterile water to a total of 60 mL. Some patients experienced a burning sensation at the injection site during the infusion; this was often corrected by re-positioning the needle or by further diluting the nutrients.
When administered with caution and respect, the Myers' has been generally well tolerated, and no serious adverse reactions have been encountered with approximately 15,000 treatments.
The Myers' has been found by the author and hundreds of other practitioners to be a safe and effective treatment for a wide range of clinical conditions. In many instances this treatment is more effective and better tolerated than conventional medical therapies. Although most of the evidence is anecdotal, some published research has demonstrated the efficacy of the Myers' or some of its components. Widespread appropriate use of this treatment would likely reduce the overall cost of healthcare, while greatly improving the health of many individuals. Additional research is urgently needed to confirm the effectiveness of this treatment and to determine optimal doses of the various nutrients. Although double-blind trials would be difficult to perform because of the obvious sensations induced by IV nutrient infusions, trials comparing the Myers' with established therapies would be informative. Practitioners using this treatment are encouraged to report their findings.
LIVECELL MICROSCOPY - WINDOW TO A HIDDEN WORLD
Livecell microscopy is not a diagnostic procedure for any specific disease. It is best used as a screening test to help determine the optimal diet and natural therapies for a given individual with chronic illness, especially of the immune system. Analysis of the blood by the microscope is as old as the practice of medicine itself. The main advantage of blood microscopy is that many nutritional imbalances can be detected before standard chemical blood tests show any abnormalities. Health problems can then be prevented by early nutritional intervention.
Livecell blood analysis is different from regular blood analysis because it uses whole blood as opposed to just parts of the blood, is unstained and uses higher magnification. The blood which is viewed directly by the technician is alive, not dead like in conventional microscopic evaluation. The type of lens used is also different in that the technique of visualization (phase contrast, darkfield vs. brightfield) allows the technician to see much more than could possibly be seen by the conventional microscope. Stain obliterated particles will not show up on typical conventional dead cell microscopy.
The presence of bacteria, fungi or parasitic forms on a livecell test is not diagnostic of an infection with any of these organisms. The blood and immune system is exposed to these organisms on a daily basis from the intake of food, tap water, a polluted environment, etc. These organisms, when they enter the blood stream are inactivated by the immune system army of white blood cells and antibodies. Technically, then, the mere presence of these bugs in the blood is not diagnostic of an infection. For a blood infection to be present, a great deal more has to be observed.
Skeptics of darkfield microscopy believe that the blood of most breathing, walking and functioning humans is completely sterile and that viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites could not possibly exist in the bloodstream. They argue that if parasites, candida, fungi or bacteria were really present in the bloodstream that the patient would be lying horizontally in a hospital bed dying of septic shock. This dogma has been disproven by a great deal of research done by many scientists around the world, especially in Germany, Eastern Europe, New Zealand and countries where natural ordrugless forms of medicine are more easily available. The list of research papers describing the presence of viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic toxins in the blood of non-septicemic individuals is voluminous. A growing number of pathologists (e.g. Dr. A. Ali) and clinicians are recognizing the importance of using this kind of information in daily medical practice. The increasing incidence of autoimmune diseases associated with bacteria and parasites (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis) and infectious diseases like AIDS, hepatitis, giardiasis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome argues strongly against the dogma that breathing, walking and functioning humans have completely sterile blood. Like many controversial issues in medicine, the answers are neither completely black or white. As an old professor once told me, and I still believe this to be true, ÒNothing in medicine is always or never.Ó
Livecell microscopy, pioneered by scientists like Gaston Naessens, creator of the 714X alternative cancer treatment, offers people with systemic manifestations of candida or other infections a quick and reliable means of visualizing microorganisms and their debris in live whole blood. If candida, parasites or bacteria can be demonstrated in the blood, it is a certainty that the individual's bloodstream has been invaded. Conventional blood cultures (growing the bugs outside the body) are not 100% accurate since many organisms resist being cultured in a laboratory. With livecell microscopy, especially in those suffering from more severe immune system abnormalities like colitis, Crohn's disease, asthmatic bronchitis, sinusitis and pneumonias, the living organisms can be seen clearly, floating freely in the bloodstream.
Livecell analysis involves the use of a microscope attached to a high quality color video camera which is connected to a color monitor and video recorder. One drop of blood coming from a fingertip puncture can show valuable information about various health concerns which are then correlated with other physical and biochemical tests. This way of viewing blood through phase contrast or darkfield microscopy can reveal some data about health and disease that are not possible through conventional microscopy.
Livecell Microscopy Can Show:
Ali, Majid. RDA: Rats, Drugs and Assumptions. Denville, New Jersey:Life Span Press, 1996 p.424-462.
Martin, Jeanne Marie and Rona, Zoltan P. The Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook. Rocklin, California:Prima Books, 1996.
Rogers, Sherry A. Finally Healing the Immune System. Macrobiotics Today. September/October 1995; pp. 16-20.
Rona, Zoltan P. and Martin, Jeanne Marie. Return to the Joy of Health, Vancouver: Alive Books, 1995.
Rona, Zoltan P. Childhood Illness and The Allergy Connection. Rocklin, California:Prima Books, 1996.
Simpson, L.O. Red cell shape changes following trigger finger fatigue in subjects with chronic tiredness and healthy controls. NZ Med. J. 1993; 106:104-7.
Simpson, L.O. Nondiscocytic erythrocytes in myalgic encephalomyelitis. NZ Med. J. 1989; 102: 126-7.
REVERSING HEMORRHOIDS NATURALLY
Dr. Zoltan Rona MD MSc
Hemorrhoids (piles) are distended or ruptured veins located within (internal) or just outside the anus (external). At least half the North American population suffers from the problem at least once during their lifetime. They are similar to varicose veins found on the legs and can be just as painful, itchy and unsightly. Hemorrhoids are caused by anything that increases pressure in the pelvic veins for prolonged periods of time.
The commonest cause of hemorrhoids is constipation. Dr. Dennis Burkitt and many other experts have noted the inverse relationship between the frequency and size of bowel movements and good health. Nowhere is this most true than it is for hemorrhoids. The doctor found that citizens of those cultures which had larger, softer and more frequent bowel movements were also the healthiest. Furthermore, these groups had the smallest and fewest hospitals. They ate a primarily vegetarian diet, with animal products used only as flavourings or for an occasional feast. Individuals also had a bowel movement following each meal.
Other things associated with hemorrhoids include heredity, pregnancy, prostate enlargement, obesity, straining at stool, diarrhea, improper or heavy lifting, sedentary lifestyle, standing for long periods of time, sitting on cold, hard surfaces, severe coughing, liver disease (cirrhosis), food allergies, alcohol or drug abuse and anal intercourse. Hemorrhoids may itch, bleed, tear and cause pain. They can usually be treated naturally but severe cases may require surgery.
From a diet standpoint, it is very important to increase fluids. A high fiber, high complex carbohydrate diet is recommended. Avoid animal products as much as possible as well as coffee, spicy foods, fried foods, alcohol, hot sauces, fatty foods, salty foods, sugar and refined carbohydrates. Eat more cranberries, water chestnuts, buckwheat, tangerines, figs, plums, prunes, guavas, bamboo shoots, mung beans, melons, black sesame seeds, persimmons, bananas, squash, cucumbers, tofu, blueberries, blackberries and cherries. Fresh juices that may betherapeutic include carrot, spinach, potato, turnip, watercress, celery, and parsley. Avoid cigarette smoking and sedentary behavior because both habits make hemorrhoids worse.
Horse chestnut extract is probably the most effective herbal remedy used traditionally to treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids. The major active ingredient is believed to be aescin, which stops swelling and inflammation without any side effects. Horse chestnut extract standardized to 50 mg of aescin swallowed 3 or 4 times daily also prevents bleeding from hemorrhoids by decreasing capillary and vein permeability (leakiness).
Other topical herbal remedies which may be very soothing are aloe vera and calendula. Herbs which may be helpful in an oral supplement form are psyllium seed husks and powder, chamomile, buckthorn, collinsonia root and elderberry.
Flax seed oil (1-2 tablespoons daily) creates a natural lubricating effect by softening stools. A garlic clove or raw potato can be made into a soothing rectal suppository if one is so inclined. Mineral (sitz) baths using epsom salts on a daily basis are also quite helpful. Different things will work better for given individuals.
Itchiness from hemorrhoids is usually caused by yeast or candida overgrowth and their mycotoxins. A daily supplement of a good lactobacillus acidophilus supplement helps crowd out the fungi and eventually the itching stops. Fast relieving topical remedies that you can experiment with are: tea tree oil, aloe vera gel, garlic oil, oregano oil, olive oil, flax seed oil and calendula cream.
To prevent fungal infection, avoid foods high in sugar, fruit, fruit juice, fermented foods such as beer, wine, cheese, bread, stored grains, grain-fed animal products (red meats, especially beef and pork, animal fats, butter, whole milk and other high fat dairy products), nuts (especially peanuts, cashews, pistachios), seeds and refined foods; avoid leftovers and tobacco products. Eat more fish and fish oils, garlic, onions, olives, olive oil, green
vegetables, herbs, soy products like tofu, yogurt, psyllium, pectin and milled (ground) flax seed. An increased intake of fiber significantly reduces the impact of mycotoxins.
Supplemental nutrients that are often prescribed to help shrink hemorrhoidal tissue and promote healing are:
Vitamin A - 10,000 mgs. daily Beta carotene - 10,000 mgs. daily Vitamin B complex - 50 mgs. 3 times daily Vitamin C - 3000 - 6000 mgs. daily Vitamin E - 800 I.U. daily Selenium – 200 mcg. Daily Zinc chelate – 50 mgs. daily Bioflavonoids (rutin, hesperidin) - 1000 mgs. daily Bioflavonoids strengthen capillaries and are also one of the many nutrients which help lessen the effects of food allergies) Pycnogenol or grape seed extract - 300 mgs. daily Coenzyme Q10 - 200 mgs. daily
For bleeding hemorrhoids, supplementation with vitamin K may be necessary. To get adequate amounts of vitamin K from the diet, eat more dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, alfalfa, kale and lettuce. Dosages for all supplements would, of course, have to be individualized. Supervision by a naturopath or medical doctor familiar with vitamins, minerals and herbs is ideal.
Preventing and Treating Bladder Infections Naturally
ZOLTAN P. RONA, M.D., M.Sc.
It is a very fortunate woman who has never experienced the anguish of a bladder infection. Up to 20% of all women in North America suffer from at least one episode each year of this condition that is referred to by doctors as “cystitis” or “UTI” (Urinary Tract Infection).Nearly 40% of all women who have never had a bladder infection will eventually get one within the next decade. The bacteria most often associated with the condition migrates from the colon and is called E. coli. Other less common invading bacteria are Citrobacter, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, Proteus, Enterococcus and Staphylococcus.Bladder infections are indeed very common. Pregnancy, due to hormonal changes favoring bacterial growth, doubles a women’s risk while sexual activity increases the chances by a factor of ten. Bacteria tend to thrive in a body that contains a lot of sugar. Diabetics and those with high sugar intakes are thus more likely to get bladder and other infections. The overuse of antibiotics and stress are two more factors predisposing to higher rates of bladder infections. Congenital or acquired urinary tract structural abnormalities blocking the free flow of urine or causing urinary reflux also dramatically boost the infection rate.
Thanks to anatomical differences between men and women (women have a much shorter urethra that is more prone to bacterial invasion), men rarely get bladder infections. In men, bladder infections do occur but only secondary to structural abnormalities, neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, prostate infections, immune system weaknesses or as a morbid consequence of rectal intercourse.
Symptoms often include a burning pain on urination, urgency to urinate, urinary frequency, foul-smelling, turbid or dark urine, low abdominal pain and, in some cases, fever. A visit to the average family doctor, emergency room or walk-in clinic usually ends with a lab requisition for a urine culture test and a prescription for a 7-14 day course of antibiotics. While this mainstream approach is most often satisfactory, it is not necessarily the safest, most cost effective or disease preventive approach to the problem. At least 50% of all women who suffer from recurrent bladder infections will develop kidney damage, sometimes leading to kidney failure.
It is also important to note that there is a condition called interstitial cystitis. Here, the symptoms may well be identical to those of a typical bladder infection. The difference is that with interstitial cystitis no bacteria are involved. The condition is due to an inflammation of the internal lining of the bladder, which, in turn, is thought to be due to food allergies or some other damaging factor like candida or some other fungus.
What to Do
First and possibly most importantly, especially for bladder infection prevention, maintain proper hygiene. Wipe from front to back after every visit to the toilet to prevent urethral contact with colonic bacteria. Shower before sex and urinate after if at all possible. Urinate when you get the urge instead of holding on to it, to, prevent bacteria there from taking a foothold. Avoid any sort of vaginal deodorants, because these change the flora and increase susceptibility to infection.
Increase your fluid intake to increase the bacterial flushing effects of the urine flow. It’s best to use pure spring water (at least half of all your fluid intake), herbal teas and diluted fruit and vegetable juices. For most adults, this means drinking at least 2 liters of fluids daily. Avoid anything containing caffeine (especially soft drinks and coffee) or alcohol because of their irritant and dehydrating effects on the bladder.
Since bacteria thrive on sugar, avoid all simple sugars, refined carbohydrates and full-strength fruit juices. Eating more garlic and onions is a good idea because these vegetables have a good antibacterial effect.
Next, see if you can add at least a half a liter of unsweetened cranberry juice 4 times daily. Hippuric acid and other ingredients of cranberry juice prevent bacteria like E. coli from adhering to the bladder and urethral endothelium. Freshly squeezed blueberry juice is an effective alternative to cranberry juice.
If one has interstitial cystitis, however, cranberry or blueberry juices could be irritating, making symptoms worse. For the latter type of bladder problem, making the urine pH more alkaline (higher pH), is the answer. This can be done by going on to a more alkaline ash diet (see my book, “Return to The Joy of Health”) and/or by supplementing citrate salts (sodium and potassium citrate) or bicarbonate.
Most bladder infections will respond very nicely to these simple measures. For more stubborn or recurrent cases, the use of some combination of nutritional and herbal/homeopathic supplements may be required.
Nutritional Supplements (until symptoms cleared for at least 1 week)
Vitamin C with bioflavonoids – 500 – 1000 mg every 2 hours depending on how much the bowels can tolerate without diarrhea
Vitamin A – 10,000 – 25, 000 IU daily
Mixed carotenoids (from a green drink containing chlorella, spirulina and blue-green algae) – 100,000 IU daily
Vitamin E – 400 IU daily
Zinc citrate – 30 mg. Daily
D-Mannose – 1000 – 2000 mgs. 3 times daily; this is a natural plant-derived sugar that prevents the adherence of bacteria to the cells lining the urinary bladder. One can compare this to Teflon that prevents bacterial stickiness to the bladder.
Probiotics (broad spectrum friendly flora) – 3 capsules or 1 tsp. Daily
Herbal Remedies (until symptoms cleared for at least 1 week) Oil of oregano – 3 or 4 drops under the tongue 4 times daily Uva ursi tincture– 1/2 tsp. 3 times daily Goldenseal tincture – 1/2 tsp. 3 times daily Horsetail tea – 1 cup 3 times daily.
Teas made up with one or more of the following herbs: bearberry leaves, lemon balm, birch leaves, stinging nettle leaves and roots, dandelion leaves and roots, parsley, yarrow and rose-hips. Flavor with licorice root tincture or stevia to taste and use ad lib until symptoms are gone.
Well over 90% of bladder infections can be dealt with satisfactorily using these natural approaches. For those who fail to respond or who are plagued with persistent discomfort, seek out the help of a natural health care provider for more individualized treatment.
Pizzorno, Joseph E. Jr, Murray, Michael T., Joiner-Bey, Herb. The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine. Churchill Livingston:New York, 2002
Alive Research Group; Gursche, Siegfried, Publisher; Rona, Zoltan P., Medical Editor.Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. Vancouver:Alive Books, 1998.