There is often disagreement about the safety and validity of medical tests in the holistic, health community. Perhaps the best examples are the use of mammography to detect breast cancer and the PSA blood test to ferret out prostate cancer. However, colonoscopies tend to be less controversial for a number of reasons. Firstly, there really isn’t any alternative, stand alone test currently available. Secondly, the documented benefits of colonoscopies far outweigh the low risk of significant side effects. Lastly, as I stated in part one of this column, colonoscopies not only detect potential malignancies, they also remove questionable growths while still benign. For these reasons, integrative health experts such as Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Stephen Sinatra endorse this particular test.
Tags: Curcumin, Ginger, Green Tea
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | 13 Comments & Updates
A stunning new survey sponsored by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids reports that 20% of all college students and roughly 15% of non-student young adults abuse stimulant medications. The legal drugs in question, intended to treat ADHD, include best sellers such as Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse. The most commonly cited reasons for the noted abuse include a desire to enhance academic or work performance and to stave off normal feelings of nighttime sleepiness. What’s even more disturbing is that 28% of the young adults surveyed, aged 18 to 25, misrepresented the severity of their ADHD symptoms in order to attain higher dosages of these conditionally dangerous drugs. In addition, the practice of selling and/or sharing said medications with family, fellow students and friends is quite common.
Tags: ADHD, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | 25 Comments & Updates
Many people aren’t getting enough magnesium (Mg) in their daily diets and through basic supplementation. Now, you might think you’re not one of those people. But, recent studies reveal that magnesium deficiency is surprisingly common. Sometimes it’s even present in otherwise healthy young adults and in those who take multivitamin/mineral supplements. What’s more, certain popular medications, including those used to treat gastric reflux or GERD often contribute to a lack of magnesium or hypomagnesemia.
Tags: Chia Seeds, Magnesium, Stroke
Posted in Diabetes, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | 24 Comments & Updates
In modern times, the concept of preventive medicine has been widely embraced by virtually all branches of the health care system. Perhaps the most common example is the recommendation to get an annual physical exam. The idea behind a yearly “check up” is to find developing health issues early on and to evaluate the efficacy and safety of longer term treatments which may require adjustments. Periodically, this very same practice can and should be applied to natural health routines as well.
Tags: Curcumin, Lycopene, Prostate
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Diabetes, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments & Updates
It’s rare to find someone who is entirely satisfied with how their brain functions. Some people have periodic or persistent episodes of “brain fog”. Others find themselves prone to distraction. Also, complaints about sluggish cognitive processing and memory recall are commonplace in my consulting work. Then, there are those who are relatively pleased with their mental acuity, but would be even happier to have an added edge. In all of these cases and more, certain supplements can make a difference above and beyond the basic measures that most people employ to stay healthy.
Tags: Coffee, Multivitamin, Tocotrienols
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Memory, Nutritional Supplements | 36 Comments & Updates
Question: I’ve read that an enzyme supplement called catalase helps reverse hair graying. I think this sounds too good to be true. But, I hope I’m wrong! What’s your opinion about these products?
Answer: For starters, let’s briefly review what causes the graying of hair and the potential role of catalase. The loss of melanin, a pigment which colors hair, is partially induced by a build up or overproduction of hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles. Catalase, an antioxidant enzyme produced by the body, helps convert hydrogen peroxide into two, non-bleaching substances – oxygen and water. This is the rationale for some of the supplements you’ve likely seen. However, it should be noted that there are other enzymes (MSR A and B) which also affect melanin production and tend to decline with age. For this reason, L’Oreal, the cosmetic giant, is currently developing a supposedly all-natural supplement which targets yet another hair graying mechanism – tyrosine-related protein TRP-2 production.
Tags: aging, Hair, Walnuts
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 9 Comments & Updates
Many holistically-minded consumers have heard of and/or tried Maca – a root vegetable belonging to the mustard family which has been used medicinally for thousands of years in the Andean region of South America. In health food stores, you’ll frequently find it in supplements intended to support athletic performance, hormonal regulation and virility. In addition, Maca powder is sometimes featured in juices and smoothie concoctions for added nutrition and unspecified health benefits. In essence, Maca has taken on a similar reputation as ashwagandha or ginseng, as an adaptogen which promotes balance in various systems in the body. However, not all Maca products are created equal.
Tags: High Blood Pressure, Maca, Menopause
Posted in Bone and Joint Health, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | 5 Comments & Updates
The number of scientific studies devoted to specific natural remedies and traditional foods is difficult to predict. For instance, it’s possible to have a few to several studies published in one year and then virtually nothing more for another decade. Certainly, this is partially due to economics. Big cash crops and patented products tend to receive more scientific attention because of funding and financial interests. On the other hand, more generic herbs and nutraceuticals often fall into the previously mentioned, erratic pattern of research. Pumpkin seed oil is an example of the latter.
Tags: Hair, Menopause, Prostate
Posted in Men's Health, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health | 7 Comments & Updates
One of the ongoing controversies in the field of integrative medicine is the role of patented nutraceuticals. Conventional minerals and vitamins are sold by many different companies. Often times, there are distinctions in the dosages and forms of the nutrients, but apart from that, they are consistent from brand to brand. However, certain manufacturers develop products that are conceived and tested independently. They’re subsequently patented in order to protect the proprietary end result. The beneficial aspect of this process is that many of these nutraceuticals have been subjected to controlled studies that assess their efficacy and safety. The downside of patented supplements is the price tag, which is almost always significantly costlier than generic counterparts.
Tags: Cold, Flu, Immune
Posted in Alternative Therapies, General Health, Nutritional Supplements | 10 Comments & Updates
The so-called “common cold” usually comes and goes in an expected, generic manner. You’re congested for a few days, you sneeze and your throat aches for a week tops. In most cases, it’s not a big deal and requires little or no medical intervention. But, for some, a lingering cough can stick around long after the cold exits stage right. There are several reasons why this typically occurs including bacterial infections, chronic irritation of the airways and/or overuse of nasal decongestant sprays – more than three days.
Tags: Chocolate, Coffee, Honey
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Children's Health, Nutritional Supplements | 11 Comments & Updates
My third and final installment of news from the Natural Products Expo West focuses on a category of products known as “functional foods”. Basically, these are beverages, ingredients or packaged foods that are fortified with nutrients, phytochemicals and pre- or probiotics. In essence, they’re a hybrid of dietary supplements and healthy foods. The idea is to take an already wholesome food and increase its therapeutic potential by adding ingredients that aren’t normally present.
Tags: Chocolate, Gluten, Probiotics
Posted in Food and Drink, Memory, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
One of the surprises at this year’s Natural Products Expo West was a relative lack of innovative supplements. Don’t get me wrong, there were hundreds of new products on the convention floor. And, certainly I didn’t have the chance to evaluate each and every one of them. But, when I applied my gold-standard test to the products I saw there, only one stood out as a new supplement that I would recommend to clients, family and friends.
Tags: Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Prostate
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
Nobody wants to be slowed down by a cold, flu or any host of infectious diseases we hear about in the news or meet firsthand in our daily lives. But, finding reliable information about natural ways to bolster immunity isn’t always easy. Conventional doctors are often clueless, and anecdotal remedies from family and friends can certainly be hit-or-miss. Fortunately, there really are some scientifically proven changes you can make to your diet, lifestyle and supplement regimen that can strengthen your resistance to communicable diseases.
Tags: Kefir, Massage, Zinc
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 11 Comments & Updates