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Natural Health News April 2011

April 11, 2011 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Experts in various fields, including medicine, take part in continuing education courses on a regular basis. The aim of these post-university classes and seminars is to inform professionals about the newest and most relevant developments in their areas of expertise. I hope to do the very same thing here. Except in this case, my aim is to provide breaking news and research about natural medicine that will allow you to stand head and shoulders above most other health care consumers. And then, of course, I’m counting on you to share what you’ve learned with anyone who will listen.

The current issue of the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice explores an intriguing topic: who should be responsible for informing patients about the value of omega-3 fatty acids in managing psychiatric conditions? According to the review, there’s a shameful degree of uncertainty about how to handle this issue because it deals with the controversial subject of using “food as medicine”. This is a hurdle that conventional medicine desperately needs to overcome. The latest illustration of the importance of this can be found in the April 2011 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In it, a “10-year prospective follow-up study” involving 54,632 women determined that those who ate larger amounts of plant based omega-3 fats or alpha linolenic acid (ALA), were up to 43% less likely to suffer from depression. (1,2)

In a previous column, I was rather critical about the popular health food/supplement acai (Euterpe oleracea). At the time, I felt that there simply wasn’t enough scientific evidence to support its use. A new publication in the Journal of Medicinal Food is a first step toward changing my mind. The “open-label” pilot study in question recruited 14 participants who all shared a combination of symptoms, namely limited range of motion and pain. All of the volunteers were asked to drink 120 mL of an acai-based juice blend over the course of 12 weeks. Blood samples, interviews, questionnaires and a visual analogue scale were taken at baseline and after 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks. The results indicate that the acai juice mixture improved range of motion, quality of life and reduced pain scores. In addition, there were positive trends noted with respect to lipid peroxidation, serum antioxidant status and levels of CRP or C-reactive protein,┬áthe inflammatory marker. (3)

Most pediatricians agree that under ideal circumstances breastfeeding newborns is the best way to go. Unfortunately, some mothers have a difficult time producing enough milk to accomplish this goal. A fascinating new study appearing in the April 2011 issue of the Jornal de Peditria reports that incorporating music therapy into the routine of mothers of “premature neonates” increased the frequency of breastfeeding by up to 26%. The surprising benefits presented themselves as early as one week after music exposure and continued forward for 60 days after the mothers and newborns were discharged from the hospital. (4)

ALA Intake May Influence Stroke Risk

Source: PLoS One. 2011 Mar 25;6(3):e17967. (a)

Judging by the sheer number of sneezes I’ve been hearing lately, I can tell that springtime is upon us. Allergens are increasingly populating the air in unseen numbers and the results can be heard throughout the US and beyond. Gesundheit! Researchers from Seoul National University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea want you to know that fermented red ginseng may just be the latest and greatest holistic entry into the field of natural allergic rhinitis management. A 4 week, double-blind, placebo controlled study involving “59 patients with persistent perennial allergic rhinitis” found that the administration of fermented red ginseng lead to a decline in nasal congestion and improvements in “Rhinitis Quality of Life” score and skin reactivity – a measure of allergy severity. What’s more, this specialized form of ginseng was well tolerated in the study group. (5)

Many years ago I was consultant for a health food store that was owned by a husband and wife. The husband worked part-time for a company that manufactured medical devices. One day, I overheard a customer ask him about a nutritional supplement. The owner answered in a constructive and thoughtful manner. However, the customer remarked that he didn’t trust the information because it wasn’t coming from a doctor. Interestingly enough, the store owner didn’t get upset. Instead, he pointed to the refrigerator in the corner of the store. He asked the customer, “Do you know what that is and what it does?”. Naturally, the customer replied in the affirmative. At which point, the owner countered wryly: “But how could you possibly know that? Are you an electrician?”. You don’t need to be a medical professional in order to be knowledgeable about integrative and natural medicine. You just need the desire to learn and reliable sources of information.

Be well!

JP


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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Women's Health

10 Comments & Updates to “Natural Health News April 2011”

  1. anne h Says:

    Alot of times, NON medical people know more about it anyway!

  2. JP Says:

    Sad but true, Anne. Sad but true.

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Vadim Says:

    I believe that most people in this modern world are overworked, overstressed and definitely undernourished both physically and spiritually. And I am definitely one of them. In this fast paced world it\’s all about instant gratification. People do not have time to work on preventing diseases. It\’s so much easier to pop a pill then wait for the herb or natural remedy to work therefore there is a wrong perception that homeopathic medicine doesn\’t work as good as the traditional one. People just want the solution right away. How much easier it is to pop a vellum when feeling overwhelmed rather then uptaking yoga class and take valerian root or bath with essential oils? Pop a Valium or lorazepam and you are in blissful mood and that\’s a perfect example of instant gratification. Sad but most people don\’t think far in advance or what side effect they may incur in the future, it\’s all about here and now!

  4. John La Puma MD Says:

    I love your interest in peer-reviewed studies to support the use of food and nutrition to prevent and treat disease.

    Doctors are interested in this too…but generally are not trained in nutrition, are not paid to counsel patients in this way, have inadequate time with patients to offer recipes on prescription slips (!) and have long regarded nutritional science as soft and in flux. And physicians are not unlike other workers: with the right motivations, including compensation, they would be much more interested in this work.

    But I do think that people like yourself who are really interested in food and health can find a way to begin to motivate and empower others to take charge…that’s certainly what we’re trying to do.

  5. ddjimmy Says:

    “You just need the desire to learn and reliable sources of information”. But where is reliable sources? It is so hear to find! If you google it, the most top lists are leading to sell a Non FDA approved product.

  6. JP Says:

    Thank you, Dr. La Puma. I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, my goal has always been to provide evidence-based information and support for both patients and physicians. This is an invaluable relationship (between doctor and patient) which I believe is pivotal in promoting the change you describe.

    Many thanks for dropping by.

    Be well!

    JP

  7. JP Says:

    Vadim,

    I’m sorry to say that I believe that’s largely accurate. But this destructive trend can be changed – one person at a time. A grass roots revolution is what it will likely take. At it’s core, colleagues, family and friends encouraging each other and making the effort to set a better example for those around them. We can do this … much to the dismay of the financial interests that would prefer otherwise.

    Be well!

    JP

  8. JP Says:

    DDJimmy,

    I suggest seeking out sources of information that provide scientific citations for their assertions and claims. That’s precisely what I do here. Looking for FDA-approval in the natural health realm is a waste of valuable time, IMO. The FDA simply doesn’t approve of the vast majority of natural products. They allow limited “structure and function” claims, but don’t endorse specific products. In essence, nutritional supplements fall into a no-man’s land between foods and medications. The best way to navigate these often confusing waters is to choose products that have a reasonable amount of evidence to support their use, IMO.

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Monzour Says:

    Keep these articles coming as they’ve opened many new doors for me.

  10. JP Says:

    Hi Monzour,

    I’m happy to heart that! I plan to continue on!

    Be well!

    JP

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