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Natural Remedies in the News

April 12, 2010 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

What do the following conditions have in common? Age-related memory decline; high-grade gliomas (brain tumors); hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol and triglycerides), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and stroke? According to several recent studies, all of these health concerns may be responsive to natural therapies.

A combination of 500 mg of ALCAR (Acetyl-L-Carnitine), 400 mcg of folic acid, 500 mg of NAC (N-acetylcysteine), 400 mg of SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine), 6 mcg of Vitamin B12 and 30 IUs of Vitamin E may improve cognitive performance in men and women not living with dementia. This is evidenced in a newly published trial conducted at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Specific measures of mental acuity such as the California Verbal Learning Test II and the Trail-Making Test clearly demonstrated enhanced cognition in participants who were using a supplement containing the previously mentioned nutrients. However the positive impact on mental functioning only presented itself in test subjects under the age of 74. The authors of the experiment theorized that the older volunteers may have “age-related difficulties in absorption and/or basal nutritional deficiencies” which affected their response to the brain boosting pill. (1,2)

Many conventional oncologists caution about mixing standard cancer treatments with alternative remedies. A recent study presented in the journal Neurology India addresses this controversy head on. Fifty patients with two types of brain tumors (anaplastic astrocytoma or glioblastoma multiforme) were divided into two groups:

  • Group 1 underwent surgery + radiotherapy + medication (paclitaxel).
  • Group 2 had surgery + radiotherapy + medication (paclitaxel) + 8 mg of lycopene – an antioxidant carotenoid commonly found in red tomatoes.

As expected, those receiving the oral lycopene exhibited significant elevations in plasma lycopene levels. More importantly, the lycopene supplemented patients demonstrated a higher response rate to the overall cancer therapy and a longer “time to progression” (see table). The authors of the randomized placebo controlled study concluded that “Addition of nutritional supplements such as lycopene may have potential therapeutic benefit in the adjuvant management of high-grade gliomas”. (3)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition that generally affects women during their reproductive years. It is often characterized by abnormal menstruation, acne, infertility, insulin resistance, masculine characteristics and weight gain. A special form of the antioxidant alpha lipoic acid may be of assistance to young women who are living with PCOS. A pilot study was recently completed on 6 “lean, nondiabetic patients with PCOS”. All of the volunteers were given 600 mg of controlled-release alpha lipoic acid twice-daily. Various blood markers were analyzed at baseline and the completion of the 16 week trial. A 13.5% improvement in insulin sensitivity, a reduction in triglycerides and a “shift in distribution of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles toward the larger, more buoyant LDL subclass fraction” was noted. It is believed that the larger variety of LDL cholesterol may protect against heart disease, whereas the dense, small variety has been associated with a higher risk. In addition, two of the study participants who were not using birth control reported an increased number of menstrual cycles. This is a sign of improved PCOS status. (4)

Lycopene (Group A) May Improve Brain Cancer Outcomes
Source: Neurol India 2010;58:20-3 (link)

It may surprise you to know that I’m actually not a big believer in using generalized cholesterol figures in assessing overall heart health. However, I do think the ratio of HDL (“good”) cholesterol to triglycerides (TAG) may be an important indicator of cardiovascular status. Eating a low glycemic diet that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to promote a healthy HDL/triglyceride ratio. But there’s a relatively new supplement on the block that may provide some additional support if needed. Pomegranate seed oil (PSO) is rich in a fatty acid known as punicic acid that may have “anti-atherogenic effects”. A recent study examined the effects of 400 mg of PSO twice-daily vs a placebo in 51 patients with elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. Blood tests were taken before and after the 4 week intervention. The results indicate that “administration of PSO for 4 weeks in hyperlipidemic subjects had favorable effects on lipid profiles including TAG and TAG:HDL-C ratio”. (5,6,7)

Finally, an 8 year population study involving over 19,000 men and women from Germany determined that those who ate the most chocolate were at a 39% decreased risk of heart attack (myocardial infarction) and stroke. Lower blood pressure is suspected as a major cause for the noted protection. Those in the top quintile of chocolate intake exhibited lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure readings than the adults in the lowest quintile of chocolate intake. (8)

Certain nutrients may improve mental performance, but they tend to work best if you start taking them prior to the onset of dementia. Prevention is the key. It’s possible that certain natural remedies may be compatible and complementary to conventional cancer treatments. More studies are desperately needed in this arena. Controlled-release alpha lipoic acid may improve risk factors associated with polycystic ovary disease. A lower glycemic diet and pomegranate seed oil seem to be safe options for improving “real” cardiovascular risk markers. And then there’s chocolate. What more can I say about cacao that I haven’t already said? It’s a wonder food – provided that you eat the real thing. Make sure to look for dark chocolate products that have a high cocoa content (70% or more) and are low in sugar or sugar free. That’s all the news I’ve got for you on this Monday. I hope you’ll share some of these new items with the people in your life who might benefit from knowing about them.

Be well!

JP

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10 Comments & Updates to “Natural Remedies in the News”

  1. Vadim Says:

    Good staff! Harry I was recently watching Dr Oz show and found out that there is a genetic test given by company called Interleukin genetics to see if a person is genetically predisposed to low carb, low fat or a combination diet. Even Dr Oz recommended those who proved positive for low carb genetic to undertake very low carb diet in the range of 20-60 grams. i recently ordered this test and will see what happens. If you want to investigate this company and the test you can find them under Interleukin genetics. I also saw this company on good morning america. its supposed to be the next big thing so to speak. Have you heard anything about that?

  2. JP Says:

    Vadim,

    I’ve read bits and pieces about such testing but have yet to look into it in depth. I’d love to know more about your experience with the process. Please report back with the details as they become available.

    I truly hope this will be a valuable tool in your healing process. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Vadim Says:

    I will. Even though its a bit costly, that test would give me a peace of mind. I know that i am very insulin sensitive, no doubt. And given that the company has no idea about my isses I assume the test would prove to be accurate. And if it does indeed come out that I am genetically fit for low carb, then low carb it is is, lol . At least thats the plan!

  4. Nina K. Says:

    Good Morning, JP :-9

    for me it isn’t a good morning, my pc is mobbing me today ;-)

    The “deutsche” chocolate study was interessting, almost 6 gramm of dark choclate daily are enough for the positive effects. i told it hubby and said “darling” you don’t have to eat the whole chocolate bar every day just a few pieces are enoug ;-)

    we have a new dark organic chocolate here and we are both addicted: dark chocolate with mango and green tea! Soooo delicious, the taste of every ingredient is very present, its like you would eat dark chocolate and drink a mango flavoured green tea with it…..

    JP, if you ever visit Germany you are welcome and i will feed you with lots of delicous things :-) :-) !

    Greetings,
    Nina K.

  5. JP Says:

    Thank you, Nina! You’re so kind! :)

    If you’re ever in Southern California, I extend the same offer to you and your husband.

    Speaking of traveling … My wife recently visited the Napa Valley/”wine country” (in Northern California) and brought me back a dark chocolate bar that included “Mexican ancho y chipoltle chillies and Ceylon cinnamon”. Very delicious – with a hint of heat from the spices.

    There are so many delectable and interesting ways to enjoy cacao! What a gift!

    Be well!

    JP

  6. oxygen energy Says:

    Very nice and comprehensive article about natural remedies. Thank you for providing niche information about health. I really like your blog. Good one!

  7. JP Says:

    I frequently get questions about natural, safe alternatives for PCOS, please consider fish oil:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24639805

    Be well!

    JP

  8. JP Says:

    Update: Alpha lipoic acid may assist with weight loss efforts …

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.20966/abstract

    Obesity (Silver Spring).

    Effects of α-lipoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in overweight and obese women during weight loss.

    OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the potential body weight-lowering effects of dietary supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and α-lipoic acid separately or combined in healthy overweight/obese women following a hypocaloric diet.

    METHODS: This is a short-term double-blind placebo-controlled study with parallel design that lasted 10 weeks. Of the randomized participants, 97 women received the allocated treatment [Control, EPA (1.3 g/d), α-lipoic acid (0.3 g/d), and EPA + α-lipoic acid (1.3 g/d + 0.3 g/d)], and 77 volunteers completed the study. All groups followed an energy-restricted diet of 30% less than total energy expenditure. Body weight, anthropometric measurements, body composition, resting energy expenditure, blood pressure, serum glucose, and insulin and lipid profile, as well as leptin and ghrelin levels, were assessed at baseline and after nutritional intervention.

    RESULTS: Body weight loss was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in those groups supplemented with α-lipoic acid. EPA supplementation significantly attenuated (P < 0.001) the decrease in leptin levels that occurs during weight loss. Body weight loss improved lipid and glucose metabolism parameters but without significant differences between groups.

    CONCLUSIONS: The intervention suggests that α-lipoic acid supplementation alone or in combination with EPA may help to promote body weight loss in healthy overweight/obese women following energy-restricted diets.

    Be well!

    JP

  9. JP Says:

    Update 04/20/15:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4386212/

    Adv Biomed Res. 2015 Mar 25;4:68.

    Effects of aerobic exercise on plasma lipoproteins in overweight and obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

    BACKGROUND: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most frequent endocrine disorders. The PCOS manifest by hyperandrogenism, hypertension and cholesterol and lipoprotein improper profiles. Changing the life style, e.g. increasing physical activities is the first approach in controlling PCOS.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-four women affected by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) after medical screening were divided in to two groups: Experimental group (n = 12) and control group (n = 12), with the average age, weight, height, BMI and WHR of 26.87 ± 4.43 years, 75.71 ± 10.65 kg. 159.29 ± 6.44 cm, 29.86 ± 3.22 kg/m(2) and 91.75 ± 5.86 respectively. First the body composition such as BMI, WHR, percent body fat, weight and body fat mass were measured. In fasting blood samples the level of HDL, LDL, VLDL, triglyceride and cholesterol were measured. Then the experiment group underwent the effect of an aerobic exercise program. After 12 weeks, all the measured variables before intervention the test were re-measured. Correlated t-test was used for comparing the two groups before and after intervention the test and independent t-test was used for comparing the two groups (P < 0.05).

    RESULTS: The results showed that after 12 weeks of exercise, BMI, WHR, fat rate, weight and fat mass and triglyceride had significant reduction and HDL had significant increase. But no significant changes happened in LDL, VLDL, and cholesterol levels.

    CONCLUSION: Reducing the weight by aerobic exercise in obese women and affected by PCOS can correct lipoprotein profile and improving health.

    Be well!

    JP

  10. JP Says:

    Updated 03/23/17:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28323626

    Altern Ther Health Med. 2017 Mar;23(2):28-34.

    Pomegranate (Punica granatum) Seed Oil for Treating Menopausal Symptoms: An Individually Controlled Cohort Study.

    Context • In the folk medicine of Mediterranean countries and in ancient Ayurveda, Punica granatum seeds (ie, pomegranate seeds) have been used for treatment of various disorders, including those that nowadays are classified as menopausal symptoms (MSs). Pomegranate seed oil (PSO) from those seeds mainly contains unsaturated fatty acids such as γ-linoleic acid and linolenic acid, but it also includes phytoestrogens. It is, therefore, regarded as a promising option for treating MSs today.

    Objectives • The study intended to investigate the safety and effectiveness of PSO as a defined P granatum seed oil for patients with MSs.

    Design • The research team designed an individually controlled, investigator-initiated cohort study.

    Setting • The treatments were performed at 2 institutions: (1) the Center for Complementary Medicine at the University Medical Center Freiburg (Freiburg, Germany); and (2) in the medical practice of H. Fischer (Freiburg, Germany).

    Participants • Seventy-eight patients, who had a mean duration of MSs of 46 mo, participated in the study.

    Intervention • After 4 wk without treatment, which functioned as a period providing an individual control, each participant took 1000 mg of PSO daily in 2 capsules for 8 wk.

    Outcome Measures • The symptom severity was scored on the German version of the menopausal rating scale (MRS) at baseline, after 4 wk without treatment, after 4 wk of treatment, and postintervention, with 0 = absence of symptoms and 4 = very strong symptoms. The efficacy and tolerability were estimated on scales from 0-4. Each participant’s 17ß estradiol was determined at baseline and after postintervention using the patient’s sera. The content of the β-sitosterol was determined in the PSO preparations by gas chromatography.

    Results • The content of β-sitosterol in the PSO used in the study was 6.3 mg/1000 mg. In the intention to treat analysis, most MRS symptoms were significantly and relevantly reduced (eg, hot flushes changed from 2.32 ± 1.04 to 1.41 ± 1.07, P < .001). Remarkably, urogenital tract symptoms (ie, a dry vagina) also significantly improved, moving from 1.32 ± 1.43 to 0.85 ± 1.19, P < .001. Few patients reported gastrointestinal symptoms. The tolerability was excellent at 3.69 ± 0.71 after 4 wk of treatment and 3.71 ± 0.65 after 8 wk of treatment. The 17ß estradiol was unchanged.

    Conclusions • Participants showed significant improvements in all domains of the MRS, remarkably including the difficult-to-treat urogenital symptoms. No changes occurred in the 17ß-estradiol in patients’ sera after the PSO treatment. The results are promising and encourage the investigation of PSO rich in β-sitosterol for treatment of MSs in placebo-controlled studies.

    Be well!

    JP

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