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Top 5 Natural Health News Items

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

One of most common problems that writers have is a nagging inability to self edit. It may seem odd, but it’s much easier for many scribes to write articles, novels or screenplays that are too long rather than too short. When I compose my daily column, I find that I generally have an over abundance of information to share. Therefore, I need to carefully pick and choose among my source information. But even so, I still end up with blog entries that tend to be lengthier than desired. This is especially problematic because I very much want to provide clear and concise resources on this site. One possible solution I’m currently toying with is the use of occasional lists. Instead of writing columns that are comprised of densely constructed paragraphs, I’ll simply select 5 noteworthy studies or topics and briefly describe their relevance as I see it.

My first foray into the list style of writing will focus on a broad array of health issues. One advantage of bullet point writing is that it allows for readers to pick and choose what they want to read. I’d love to think that you’re all reading every word I write, but I understand all too well that mental energy and time are two of the most precious commodities. I hope this “buffet style” of writing will allow for a more individualized way of benefiting from this site.

Calories in Processed Foods

“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”. That sage piece of advice applies to food selection now more than ever before. There are a greater number of dietetic foods and snacks on the market than at any point in the past. We can find them at convenience stores, drive-thrus and super markets – in virtually ever corner of the world. The trouble with some of these items is that what’s inside the packaging is often not the same as what nutritional labels claim. The latest example is presented in the January 2010 edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. This new report examined the caloric content of 29 fast food and “sit-down restaurant” menu items and determined that they averaged 18% more calories than the labels claimed. An analysis of 10 commercial frozen meals likewise found a caloric overshoot of 8%. Here’s the worst part: The US Food and Drug Administration actually permits food manufacturers up to 20% excess calories in products than what is stated on nutritional labels. In other words, all of these foods with higher than reported calories are technically not breaking any rules or laws. But try telling that to your scale when you weigh yourself. (1)

Pycnogenol May Aid Hemorrhoid Sufferers

84 patients with “acute hemorrhoidal attacks” were enrolled in a controlled, randomized study using a patented pine bark extract known as Pycnogenol. Within 48 hours of symptom onset, the participants were instructed on how to administer oral and topical Pycnogenol or a similar looking placebo over the course of 7 days. The severity of symptoms were recorded prior to treatment, directly after treatment and one week following treatment cessation. Those receiving the oral pine bark extract demonstrated significantly decreased symptom scores. A subset of the group that received Pycnogenol supplements and a topical Pycnogenol ointment found even faster relief. The biggest benefit noted was a complete absence of hemorrhoidal bleeding in the Pycnogenol users. (2)

Vitamin D Status May Be Linked to Hormone Levels in Men

There are many supplements and, even, medications that are intended to boost testosterone levels in men. However, ensuring adequate Vitamin D concentrations may be an even safer and more natural way to ensure optimal hormonal status. 2,299 men were tested to determine levels of D, testosterone and available/free testosterone. The male participants with D concentrations of more than 30 mug/l had significantly higher levels of available and total testosterone. These same men had lower levels of SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), a glycoprotein that binds to testosterone and renders it inactive. The authors of this study also found that the men had higher concentrations of male hormones during the sunniest month of the year, August. The conclusion of the trial states that, “Androgen levels and 25(OH)D levels are associated in men and reveal a concordant seasonal variation”. (3)

Eat Your Way to Better Mental Health

This month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry reports that eating a whole food based, traditional diet can decrease the likelihood of anxiety and depression in women. A total of 1,046 women of all ages (20 – 93) were randomly chosen to take part in this investigation. Food frequency questionnaires and a psychological index were used to examine connections between diet and mental health. The determination was that, “a ‘traditional’ dietary pattern characterized by vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, and whole grains was associated with lower odds for major depression or dysthymia (chronic, mild depression) and for anxiety disorders”. A menu plan consisting of beer, fried foods, refined grains and sugar was linked to a higher incidence of all of the previously stated mental disorders. (4)

The Ideal Amount of Sleep in Adults at Risk for Diabetes and Heart Disease
Source: Sleep. 2008 May 1; 31(5): 635–643. (link)
Inadequate Sleep May Lead to High Blood Sugar

A trial conducted at the Tianjin Women and Children’s Health Center in China has found an important connection between sleep duration and hyperglycemia – defined as having a fasting glucose level above 100 mg/dL. 1,236 kindergarten students were the basis for this examination. About half of the group was classified as normal weight and the remainder was labeled as obese. A few key findings came to light during the evaluation period: a) the obese children were more likely to sleep less than 8 hours a night and; b) the children who slept for 8 or less hours per night had a much higher incidence of hyperglycemia than those who slept 9 or 10 hours nightly. (5)

One of the downsides of working with lists is that each of the items above don’t contain much commentary or context. I think one way in which I can address this is to use these “bare bone” issues as a springboard for future, more in depth topics. My current thinking is to intersperse this new format with the variety of columns that you’ve come to expect here. Now that you’ve seen an example of what I’m considering, I would appreciate receiving your feedback. Please feel free to e-mail me directly or leave a note in the comment section at the bottom of this page. I’m always interested in knowing your thoughts. Thank you!

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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Posted in Children's Health, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements

7 Comments & Updates to “Top 5 Natural Health News Items”

  1. Bill Rawls, MD Says:

    JP, if you find the answer to ideal health blog style, please let me know! 🙂

    I personally prefer more in-depth articles when it comes to health, as I am of the opinion that these complex topics cannot possibly be answered in just one paragraph. I am convinced that optimal wellness can only be achieved with a combination of diet, supplements, exercise, and proper mind/body practices. Many times I feel that “headline” style articles isolate the topics and make it sound like each individual topic is the “solution,” when really it is just the tip of the iceberg.

    I am really a fan of your current writing style! My only suggestion would be adding “sections” to longer articles, so that the reader can easily skip to the section that is most interesting to them. But again, I am just learning myself, and would like to hear any feedback that you have for me!

  2. liverock Says:


    The Vitamin D increases Testosterone in Men Study, was done on nearly 3,000 men who were being tested for coronary artery stenosis and they were probably middle aged/elderly men.

    It would have been more interesting if they had included details of whether those who had coronary disease were more numerous in the lower vitamin D level group than those in the higher Vitamin D level. I think they missed a trick there!

    As these men were also getting on they probably had a few prostate cancer cells.

    The jury is still out on whether higher T levels are good for elderly men or not, due to some studies showing it increased the spread of prostate cancer cells and can be associated with the more aggressive form of PC. On the other hand some studies show the opposite.

    I think older men should be aware of this conflict on higher T levels for elderly men, before taking very high doses of T or Vitamin D.

  3. JP Says:

    Thank you for your take on this, Bill! Your opinion and suggestions will definitely weigh heavily on my future blogging style! 🙂

    I’ll do my best to return the favor when I next visit your site – by adding any constructive input I can think of!

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:


    Great points, as usual. 🙂 Perhaps some of those answers are in the full text of the study – which I unfortunately don’t have access to.

    re: Vitamin D and elderly men/prostate cancer

    I would think that such a connection might be apparent by now. A recent meta-analysis didn’t find any link between D and prostate cancer incidence or mortality:


    Other reviews have found mixed but similar or slightly protective effects of sunlight and PC risk and severity:


    Though more research is needed due to conflicting findings:



    Also, it’s important to note that Vitamin D analogs are currently being evaluated as treatments for PC:






    It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds. Hopefully some more definitive answers.

    Be well!


  5. k2c Says:

    JP, I want to voice my appreciation of all the valuable information you give here in your blog! 😀
    I’m just an everyday person, trying to live healthier, and sort through the sometimes VERY confusing “muck”. Your writings make many things more simple to understand, glad you do what you do, it’s of great benefit to us all!

  6. JP Says:

    Thank you for that, k2c! It’s means a lot to me to hear that! 🙂

    Be well!


  7. JP Says:

    Updated 06/29/16:


    J Diet Suppl. 2016 Jun 23:1-7.

    Prospective Analysis on the Effect of Botanical Medicine (Tribulus terrestris) on Serum Testosterone Level and Semen Parameters in Males with Unexplained Infertility.

    We evaluated the role of Tribulus terrestris in males with unexplained infertility and its effect on serum testosterone and semen parameters. Thirty randomized male patients presenting to Andrology outpatient clinic complaining of idiopathic infertility were selected. They were given Tribulus terrestris (750 mg) in three divided doses for three months. The effect of Tribulus terrestris on serum testosterone (total and free) and luteinizing hormone (LH), as well as its impact on semen parameters in those patients, was studied. No statistically significant difference was observed in the levels of testosterone (total and free) and LH and semen parameters (sperm concentration or motility, or abnormal forms) before and after the treatment. In addition, no statistically significant correlations were observed between testosterone (free and total) and LH and semen parameters before and after the treatment. Tribulus terrestris was ineffective in the treatment of idiopathic infertility.

    Be well!


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