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Supplement News – January 2013

January 15, 2013 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

As a stalwart proponent of integrative medicine, I strive to integrate natural remedies into the conventional medical system. However, I don’t do so indiscriminately. Many years ago, I came to the realization that I must use an evidence-based model to separate truly effective, safe remedies from those that may do harm and/or result in a waste of money and time. This approach to evaluating alternative and complementary therapies doesn’t always make me popular in the natural health community. Still, it’s a necessary step in order ensure long lasting trust between natural health proponents, the medical establishment and, most importantly, the consumers who decide to consider all possible options.

First, here are three natural remedies which have been positively singled out in the peer reviewed medical literature. A recent Italian study reports that taking 1,000 mg/day of a lecithin-bound curcumin supplement (Meriva) reduces various symptoms of an enlarged prostate in middle-aged men. The curcumin supplement was: a) given alongside standard care; b) improved overall quality of life and lessened urinary infection risk; c) not associated with side effects. Astaxanthin, a pinkish carotenoid found in certain algae, salmon and shrimp, improves cognitive functioning in healthy, middle-aged and elderly subjects. According to researchers from the Department of Aging Control at Juntendo University, Japan, a daily dosage of 12 mg of astaxanthin was found most effective. Finally, an in depth review in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reveals that pure pomegranate extracts and juice are viable candidates for protection against cardiovascular disease. Polyphenols, antioxidant substances present in pomegranates, appear to interfere with several important processes that contribute to poor cardiovascular health, including cholesterol oxidation, foam cell formation and impaired endothelial function. The previously mentioned publications can and should provide support for the medicinal use of astaxanthin, curcumin and pomegranate.

On the flip side of the coin, two other natural remedies have recently fallen short. The first is krill oil. In the past, I’ve been quite supportive of krill oil because of early reports of enhanced absorption and activity in comparison to other omega-3 fat sources. However, of late, several studies have failed to sustain my personal confidence in this heavily promoted alternative to fish oil. Specifically, a trial appearing in the September 2012 issue of Nutrition & Metabolism found that taking 2 grams of Neptune Krill Oil daily failed to confer any discernible health benefits when taken in conjunction with a whole food diet. I was also disappointed to learn that SAMe, a natural antidepressant, is ineffective at assisting smokers who wanted to quit. A synthetic antidepressant known as bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban) is commonly prescribed as a smoking cessation aid. Unfortunately, recent studies reveal that natural antidepressants including SAMe and St. John’s Wort do not seem to play an important role in nicotine withdrawal programs. Please note that none of these studies ought to be viewed as the final word on krill oil, SAMe or St. John’s Wort. Instead, they should simply be kept in mind when consumers and physicians evaluate competing and integrative treatment strategies.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Meriva®, A Lecithinized Curcumin Delivery System, In the Control of (link)

Study 2 - Effects of Astaxanthin-Rich Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract (link)

Study 3 - Pomegranate Protection Against Cardiovascular Diseases(link)

Study 4 - A 21-Day Daniel Fast With or Without Krill Oil Supplementation (link)

Study 5 - Metabolic Effects of Krill Oil Are Essentially Similar to Those of Fish (link)

Study 6 - Krill Oil Supplementation Increases Plasma Concentrations of (link)

Study 7 - Evaluation of the Effects of Neptune Krill Oil – PDF File (link)

Study 8 - S-Adenosyl-l-Methionine (SAMe) for Smoking Abstinence: A (link)

Study 9 - A Randomized Clinical Trial of St. John’s Wort for Smoking Cessation (link)

Study 10 - A Proof of Concept Randomised Placebo Controlled Factorial Trial (link)

Polyphenol Content of Various Fruit Juices

Source: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2012 (link)

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4 Comments & Updates to “Supplement News – January 2013”

  1. Gianfranco P F. Says:

    Hello John Paul,

    I can provide you with my own anecdote of the benefits of consuming two capsules of Mevira a night in improving substantially my dependance on symptoms of prostate enlargement!

    I adopted this supplement a couple months ago after you published research results.

    My needs to interrupt my sleep to visit the restroom have decreased to one to two times per 8 to 9 hours of sleep. It used to be between 4 and 6 times! At 78 years old I can use a good restful night!

    It is great to have access to your unbiased and currently updated research, guidance through this blog!

    Your dedication to your mission, already proven in over four years of publishing Healthy Fellow should make you a valuable consultant for vastly popular programs with similar missions to yours such us Dr.Oz, providing additional integrity, most current updates in science supported unbiased research, and your balanced judgment! I think you would be a great asset to Dr Oz team and the benefits of your research would reach a large constituency and add even more quality to Dr.Oz presentations.

    I hope such connection may materialize!

    You deserve a broad exposure to the fruits of your research.

    Keep up your great work!

    Paul

  2. Rob Says:

    Your comment that your interest in the EBM side of natural health products made you unpopular was interesting. I can’t imagine any rational/sane reason why this would be viewed as a negative, unless the person would prefer to remain uninformed or prefers belief systems/intuition to testable results.

  3. JP Says:

    Many thanks, Paul! I’m thrilled to know that the Meriva is helping you to improve your sleep.

    I’d love to share some of my findings with Dr. Oz and his audience. I’ll keep an eye out for any emails from his producers. :-)

    Be well!

    JP

  4. JP Says:

    Hi Rob,

    Thank you for your input.

    A few years ago I reached out to numerous up-and-coming supplement companies at one of the major industry trade shows. I offered to set up affordable pilot studies that could/would validate the claims and inferences associated with their products. If the studies turned out as positively as they expected, great! This would mean good (and justified) publicity. If not, I offered to help them reformulate their product(s) based on my knowledge and re-test them. My offer still stands. I can only guess why my offer hasn’t been accepted. What I can say is that this sort of validation is precisely the sort of thing that is sorely lacking in the natural health community. I hope this will change in the near future – whether I oversee the testing or not.

    Be well!

    JP

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