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Heartburn, Insomnia, Kidney Disease and More

August 27, 2010 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

It’s hard to believe but I’ve been writing this blog for over a year and half now. In that time I’ve written hundreds of columns that I hope will be relevant for many years to come. The best way to ensure relevancy is to revisit old topics from time to time. This is an advantage for online writers. Unlike text book authors, we can update our work with the most current scientific data without having to request a revision from a publisher. This provides a winning situation for the readers, the writers and the trees that won’t be turned into pages.

In February of this year I devoted a blog to the subject of “Isoflavone Research“. There I described how this class of phytoestrogens impact various aspects of health ranging for cardiovascular disease to prostate cancer. A new Brazilian study, published in the August 2010 edition of the journal Menopause, suggests that isoflavones may also be of value for postmenopausal women living with insomnia. Thirty-eight women took part in the 4 month study. Half received 80 mg isoflavones daily. The remainder were given a placebo. Sleep quality was assessed, before and after the intervention, via polysomnography and questionnaires. The women receiving the isoflavone supplement demonstrated an increase in “sleep efficiency” and a “decrease in intensity and number of hot flashes and the frequency of insomnia”. (1)

According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, over 11% of adults in the United States show evidence of chronic kidney disease. I haven’t touched upon the topic with great specificity yet. However, in July 2009, I reported on some preliminary research which indicated that ginger may protect the kidneys of rats under experimental conditions. But as you may already know, the gold standard that all scientists look for are well designed human studies. The latest issue of the medical journal Advances in Therapy offers up exactly that. Forty-six outpatients with stage 3 and 4 chronic kidney disease (CKD) were enrolled in a 6-month, randomized, placebo-controlled study testing the efficacy and safety of probiotics. A very high dosage of healthy bacteria was employed in the CKD patients – 90 billion colony forming units/day. Several measures of kidney health improved in many of the subjects given the probiotics including a decline in BUN (blood urea nitrogen), creatinine levels and uric acid levels. The authors of the study also noted that, “Almost all subjects expressed a perceived substantial overall improvement in QOL (quality of life)”. (2,3)

Aged garlic extract was the focus of a piece I wrote in September 2009. In it, I explained the difference between aged garlic and fresh garlic and the mounting research about its potential as a cardioprotective nutraceutical. This assertion is strengthened by a recent trial appearing in the peer reviewed publication Maturitas. Fifty patients with “treated, but uncontrolled hypertension” were assigned to one of two groups: a) received 960 mg/day of aged garlic extract; b) a matching placebo. The duration of the trial was 12 weeks. Blood pressure measurements were taken at baseline and at the 4, 8 and 12 week mark. Participants with systolic blood pressure of >140 mmHg at the start of the study found an average decline of 10.2 mmHg lower than the control group. The Australian scientists conducting the research noted that this hypotensive effect is similar to that of “first line medications” often used for the same purpose. (4)

Hepatoprotective Effects of Spirulina in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Initial and Final Plasma Values Seen In Patients

Case 1 Case 2 Case 3
Parameters Initial Final Δ% Initial Final Δ% Initial Final Δ%
ALT (U/L) 46.3 21.5 -54 35.6 22.6 -37 133.3 88.0 -34
TAG (mg/dL) 76.9 52.9 -32 171.0 146.4 -15 129.8 114.3 -12
TC (mg/dL) 216.3 209.0 -4 275.6 205.6 -26 250.6 200.9 -20
HDL-C (mg/dL) 48.1 55.6 +15 38.6 36.3 -6 49.1 47.6 -3
TC/HDL-C 4.5 3.8 -16.5 7.1 5.7 -20.7 5.1 4.2 -17.3
LDL-C (mg/dL) 152.8 142.8 -7 203.0 136.3 -33 174.9 130.1 -26
ALT: alanine aminotransferase, TAG: triacylglycerols, TC: total cholesterol, HDL-C: cholesterol associated to high-density lipoprotein, LDL-C: cholesterol associated to low-density lipoprotein. Δ%: percentage of change at each parameter.
Source: Journal of Medical Case Reports 2010, 4:103 (link)

The beauty of so many natural medicines is that they often address a wide variety of health concerns. Last November, I described how fenugreek extracts and fiber were showing promise in the arena of type 2 diabetes and weight management. A new report in the journal Phytotherapy Research adds a new attribute to this traditional remedy. A pilot study in patients with frequent heartburn assessed the relative effects of fenugreek fiber vs. a placebo. Symptom dairies and the use of antacids “as a rescue medicine” were used as determinants of failure or success. Fenugreek was found more effective than a placebo when provided 30 minutes prior to meals over a 2-week period. The diminishment of heartburn severity was similar to results expected from commonly used antacids such as ranitidine (Zantac). (5)

Spirulina, a variety of blue-green algae, also falls into the category of a natural substance with a myriad of health benefits. Several months ago I documented that this cyanobacteria was capable of taming seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis. Now, a series of published case studies indicate that daily consumption of Spirulina may protect the liver from the ravages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This is according to preliminary data derived from three men with clinically diagnosed NAFLD. The test subjects were treated with 4.5 grams daily of Spirulina maxima. Improvements in liver health and hyperlipidemic status were evidenced via significant reductions in alanine aminotransferase (ALT), LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, triglycerides and ultrasound results. More research is clearly needed in larger study groups. However, based on these promising findings, the authors “conclude that Spirulina maxima may be considered an alternative treatment for patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases and dyslipidemic disorder”. (6)

Whenever I select research to present here, I always choose the best possible data available. Sometimes it requires a good deal of patience before I discover anything new worth conveying. Many times, in fact. That’s why some updates come later rather than sooner. Having said that, if there are specific columns that you’d like me to update, please let me know. In some instances it may just be a matter of digging deeper into the medical literature or just keeping my eyes open a little wider than usual. So please leave your suggestions in the comment section below or e-mail me directly and share your thoughts. They’re always appreciated and they undoubtedly help me to improve this site.

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 Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health

9 Comments & Updates to “Heartburn, Insomnia, Kidney Disease and More”

  1. anne h Says:

    You are so advanced you sound like a doctor.
    Smarter than a doc, actually.
    I don’t see how you do your blog so well!
    I’m always impressed, JP!

  2. JP Says:

    That’s very kind of you to say, Anne. I do try hard and it feels great to know that it comes across. Thank you so very much. 🙂

    Be well!


  3. Mark S Says:

    JP, my wife has been suffering from hot flashes for quite awhile. I read with interest the benefit of isoflavones on reducing the occurrences. I clicked thru to the link article in the paragragh and you mention the use of dry beans and peas. This may be a stupid question, but does cooking affect the amount of isoflavones available? Or how is the best way to use them to get the benefit?

    If using soy, would soy milk be a good option?

  4. JP Says:


    Not a stupid question at all. There are all sorts of variables re: the isoflavone content in legumes. This would fall under the category of natural variations.

    IMO, the best way to replicate the results of a study is to use a product that most closely matches what was used in the trial itself. In this case, that would mean finding a reliable supplement that yields 80 mg of isoflavones.

    There may be multiple products that match the description above. I know that TwinLab makes a soy isoflavone extract (MegaSoy) with 80 mg per capsule.

    Be well!


  5. Mark S Says:

    Much appreciated!

  6. JP Says:

    Anytime, Mark. I hope your wife will benefit from the isoflavones if you tries them out. 🙂

    Be well!


  7. JP Says:

    Update 04/17/15:


    Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 14 April 2015

    Curcumin Attenuates Urinary Excretion of Albumin in Type II Diabetic Patients with Enhancing Nuclear Factor Erythroid-Derived 2-Like 2 (Nrf2) System and Repressing Inflammatory Signaling Efficacies

    Curcumin has a therapeutic potential in treating diabetic kidney disease (DKD) while potential mechanisms underlining this beneficial effect remain to be elucidated. In the present study, curcumin intervention was performed in patients with Type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) by oral intake of curcumin at the dose of 500 mg/day for a period of 15–30 days. Nephritic excretion of urinary micro-albumin (U-mAlb) and blood metabolic indexes were assessed before and after this intervention. In addition, the lipid oxidation index, malondialdehyde (MDA) in plasma and the status of anti-oxidative Nrf2 system in blood lymphocytes were measured. The effect of curcumin on inflammation was assessed by measuring plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS) content and inflammatory signaling protein in blood lymphocytes. A self-comparison method was used for assessing statistical significances of these measurements. Here we show that curcumin intervention markedly attenuated U-mAlb excretion without affecting metabolic control of participated patients. In addition, curcumin reduced plasma MDA level with enhanced the Nrf2 system specifically regulated protein, NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO-1) together with other anti-oxidative enzymes in patients’ blood lymphocytes. Furthermore, we observed reduced plasma LPS content and increased IκB, an inhibitory protein on inflammatory signaling in patient’s lymphocytes after curcumin administration. Finally, several gut bacterials important for maintaining gut barrier integrity and function were upregulated by curcumin.

    In conclusion, short-term curcumin intervention ablates DKD progress with activating Nrf2 anti-oxidative system and anti-inflammatory efficacies in patients with T2DM.

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Updated 11/08/16:


    Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:2581461.

    Efficacy and Safety of a Natural Remedy for the Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux: A Double-Blinded Randomized-Controlled Study.

    Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a common, chronic, relapsing symptom. Often people self-diagnose and self-treat it even though health-related quality of life is significantly impaired. In the lack of a valid alternative approach, current treatments focus on suppression of gastric acid secretion by the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), but people with GER have a significantly lower response rate to therapy. We designed a randomized double-blinded controlled clinical study to evaluate the efficacy and the safety of a formulation based on sodium alginate/bicarbonate in combination with extracts obtained from Opuntia ficus-indica and Olea europaea associated with polyphenols (Mucosave®; verum), on GER-related symptoms. Male/female 118 (intention to treat) subjects with moderate GER and having at least 2 to 6 days of GER episodes/week were treated with verum (6 g/day) or placebo for two months. The questionnaires Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease-Health-Related Quality of Life (GERD-HRQoL) and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Symptom Assessment Scale (GSAS) were self-administered by participants before the treatment and at the end of the treatment. Verum produced statistically significant reduction of GERD-HRQoL and GSAS scores, -56.5% and -59.1%, respectively, in comparison to placebo. Heartburn and acid regurgitation episodes for week were significantly reduced by verum (p < 0.01). Results indicate that Mucosave formulation provides an effective and well-tolerated treatment for reducing the frequency and intensity of symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux. Be well! JP

  9. JP Says:

    Updated 1/23/18:


    Br J Nutr. 2018 Jan 21:1-7.

    Dietary fibre intake in relation to the risk of incident chronic kidney disease.

    The purpose of this study was primarily to evaluate the association of total fibre intake with the risk of incident chronic kidney disease (CKD). We also evaluated the association of dietary fibre from fruits, vegetables, cereals and legumes with the incidence of CKD in a population-based prospective study. We followed up 1630 participants of the Tehran Lipid and Glucose Study for 6·1 years, who were initially free of CKD. Baseline diet was assessed by a valid and reliable FFQ. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was calculated, using the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease Study equation, and CKD was defined as eGFR <60 ml/min per 1·73 m2. OR using multivariable logistic regression was reported for the association of incident CKD with tertiles of dietary fibre intake. After adjustment for age, sex, smoking, total energy intake, physical activity, diabetes and using angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor, the OR for subjects in the highest compared with the lowest tertile of total fibre intake was 0·47 (95 % CI 0·27, 0·86). In addition, for every 5 g/d increase in total fibre intake, the risk of incident CKD decreased by 11 %. After adjusting for potential confounders, OR for participants in the highest compared with the lowest tertile of fibre from vegetables was 0·63 (95 % CI 0·43, 0·93) and from legumes it was 0·68 (95 % CI 0·47, 0·98). We observed inverse associations between total fibre intake and risk of incident CKD, which demonstrate that high fibre intake, mainly from legumes and vegetables, may reduce the occurrence of CKD.

    Be well!


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