Friday, February 29, 2008

Curcumin Supplements and Drowsiness

Curcumin does not usually cause drowsiness, and it is safe to drive or operate machinery after taking curcumin with one possible exception:

In laboratory experiments with animals, curcumin restores normal rhythms of day and night waking and sleeping after alcohol consumption.

This means if you drink heavily (say, more than 3-4 drinks a day) and you've been staying up late, or if you are an alcoholic recently (in the last 3-4 weeks) beginning recovery, curcumin might will help you return to a normal sleep pattern. Whether that's good or bad is really up to the person taking the supplement.

You may also be interested in:

Curcumin for Alzheimer's Prevention
Could Curcumin Prevent Cancer?
Could Curcumin Cure Congestive Heart Failure?
Curcumin and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for Congestive Heart Failure
Curcumin and Hawthorn for Congestive Heart Failure
Curcumin, Arjuna, and Pushkarmoola for Heart Conditions
Could Curcumin Lower LDL Cholesterol (and Raise HDL)?
Curcumin, Coumadin, and Other Anticoagulants
Curcumin and Bioperine

Citation:

Jagota A, Reddy MY. The Effect of Curcumin on Ethanol Induced Changes in Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) and Pineal. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2007 Dec;27(8):997-1006. Epub 2007 Sep 11.

Cucumin, Arjuna, and Pushkarmoola for Heart Conditions

Although curcumin is perhaps the best-known natural product of Ayurvedic origin, it is not as extensively used in Ayurvedic medicine for the heart as arjuna and pushkarmoola.

Arjuna (bark from the plant Terminalia arjuna) is a "heart tonic" made into a paste (arjunaghrtam), a powder (arjunatvak), a tonic combining the herb and water (arjunatvagadi), or an "arjuna wine" (pardhadyaristam). There is laboratory research finding that it protects the heart muscle from tissue destruction when circulation is reduced, and there has been at least one clinical trial that found the herb helpful in treating left ventricular hypertrophy.

Dosage varies by preparation, and is best worked out with an herbalist familiar both with the herb and the arjuna product. You should let your doctor know you intend to take arjuna if you are on any prescription medications for congestive heart failure, atrial arrhythmia, or angina.

Pushkarmoola or pushkarmool (Inula racemosa) is an herb found in Kashmir. A nearly twenty-year-old study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests that pushkarmoola probably is a natural beta-blocker, although its effects are largely limited to the heart. (Some of the older beta-blockers affect the lungs and can aggravate asthma.)

The herb is also used in treating angina, and is typically combined with another Indian herb, guggul (better known for lowering high cholesterol). Like arjuna, pushkarmoola's dosage varies by product and production method, and you should let your physician know you are taking the herb if you are on any prescription medications.

You may also be interested in:

How to Find the Best Brand of Curcumin
Curcumin for Alzheimer's Prevention
Could Curcumin Prevent Cancer?
Could Curcumin Cure Congestive Heart Failure?
Curcumin and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for Congestive Heart Failure
Curcumin and Hawthorn for Congestive Heart Failure
Could Curcumin Lower LDL Cholesterol (and Raise HDL)?
Curcumin, Coumadin, and Other Anticoagulants
Curcumin and Bioperine
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?

Curcumin and Hawthorn for Congestive Heart Failure

Standardized extracts of hawthorn berries, flowers, and leaves are a well-known and even doctor-recommended therapy for congestive heart failure. Hawthorn can be an excellent add-on to congestive heart failure support with curcumin, because the two natural products "open circulation" in different ways.

Curcumin prevents clots. Unlike anticoagulants that stop the production of fibrin "fibers" in the liver, curcumin slows down the rate at which fibrin can form clots along the lining of blood vessels.

Hawthorn helps the arteries relax. When the heart muscle is stressed, white blood cells known as neutrophils release a compound known as human neutrophil elastase (HNE). This elastase makes arteries more "elastic," lowering blood pressure and making it easier for the heart to do its job.

The process of relaxing the arteries, however, releases enormous volumes of free radicals that interfere with the action on L-carnitine. What hawthorn does it to "catch" the free radicals and preserve L-carnitine, which in turn allows the heart to make energy with a minimum of oxygen.

Regular use of hawthorn also stimulates the liver to use LDL cholesterol to make bile salts, which flow into the colon and are eliminated through bowel movement. And it contains a compound called a vitexin that relaxes blood vessels through a different biochemical pathway.

As a fruit and a "vegetable," hawthorn is non-toxic when consumed in normal doses (and probably is non-toxic if you took 100 times the amount that can benefit your heart). Some people experience mild queasy stomach the first day or two they take the herb. This usually goes away.

Of course, if you take any prescription medication for congestive heart failure or any other health condition, inform your physician so you can take the right doses of all your meds as you benefit from complementary therapy.

You may also be interested in:

Could Curcumin Cure Congestive Heart Failure?
Curcumin and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for Congestive Heart Failure
Could Curcumin Lower LDL Cholesterol (and Raise HDL)?
Curcumin, Coumadin, and Other Anticoagulants
Curcumin and Bioperine
Curcumin, Arjuna, and Pushkarmoola for Heart Conditions

Curcumin and Coenzyme Q10 for Congestive Heart Failure

While curcumin may be very helpful for congestive heart failure, an even better natural approach to supporting congestive heart failure is to add coenzyme Q10.

Curcumin acts outside the cells of the heart. It keeps fibrin "fibers" from sticking to platelets and slows down the production of blood clots, keeping blood flowing. Curcumin amplifies the effects of anticoagulant medications (and you shouldn't use curcumin if you're on an anti-coagulant without consulting your doctor). Anticoagulant medications like clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid) and warfarin (Coumadin) act primatily by slowing the production of fibrin in the liver, while curcumin slows down the action of fibrin once it leaves the liver.

Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10 or ubiquinone, acts inside the cells of the heart. To date, there are no known drug interations with this supplement.

CoQ10 is made by the same physiological processes that the body uses to make cholesterol, and statin drugs to lower cholesterol also lower CoQ10. What CoQ10 does in the heart is capture electrons released in the production of energy in the heart cell's mitochondria. Every cell in the heart works 24/7, so the heart needs more CoQ10 than almost any other organ in the body. When there's not enough CoQ10, the heart can't pump blood efficiently.

Several studies have found that supplementing with 100-200 mg of CoQ10 a day may:

  • Reduce angina and other heart pain
  • Increase walking distance
  • Reduce the thickness of the heart muscle and heart wall in "enlarged heart"
  • Decrease incidents of breathlessness (dyspnea), particularly breathlessness at rest
  • Lower stress on the kidneys associated with congestive heart failure, and
  • Reduce frequency of hospitalization
But does CoQ10 specifically relieve congestive heart failure?
The answer is that it seems to be very helpful, but it's not necessarily a cure-all. That's because doctors can't "see" the effects of CoQ10 when they do ultrasounds of the heart--but that could be because it acts inside the cell, not outside it.
There are very few downsides to CoQ10 treatment. If you take Coumadin (warfarin), be sure to tell your doctor you're taking CoQ10; he or she can be on the outlook for any unusual changes in your PT times (clotting factors) that may start after you take the supplement.
And, like curcumin, CoQ10 is better absorbed when it is taken with bioperine. You can choose a slightly more expensive supplement that combines CoQ10 with bioperine, or just use a little more black pepper than usual on your food.


You may also be interested in my latest article on curcumin for improving heart health and:

Could Curcumin Cure Congestive Heart Failure?
Curcumin and Hawthorn for Congestive Heart Failure
Could Curcumin Lower LDL Cholesterol (and Raise HDL)?
Curcumin, Coumadin, and Other Anticoagulants
Curcumin and Bioperine

Curcumin and Bioperine in Supplements

If you buy a curcumin supplement in North America, chances are it will be formulated with an additive called bioperine.

Bioperine is a chemical extract from black pepper. Ayurvedic medicine adds black pepper to countless herbal formulas not for any particular benefit in itself, but to help the body absorb the active principles of other herbs. Many supplements use bioperine to help the body absorb one active ingredient or another from a standardized herbal or natural product.

Bioperine does increase absorption of curcumin, but there are a few prescription medications that it can also make more bioavailable:

  • Phenytoin (Dilantin) for seizure disorders,
  • Propanolol (Inderal) for high blood pressure and muscle control, and
  • Theophylline (Theo-Dur) for asthma.

If you take any of these medications, be aware that bioperine makes them absorbed more completely and eliminated more quickly. It will increase their effects, both good and bad.



You may also be interested in:
Curcumin for Alzheimer's Prevention
Could Curcumin Prevent Cancer?
Could Curcumin Cure Congestive Heart Failure?
Could Curcumin Lower LDL Cholesterol (and Raise HDL)?
Curcumin, Coumadin, and Other Anticoagulants
Curcumin, Arjuna, and Pushkarmoola for Heart Conditions

Curcumin, Coumadin, and Other Anticoagulant Medications

If you see a physician for treatment of congestive heart failure and/or atrial fibrillation (A-fib), chances are you also take clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid) and warfarin (Coumadin)or a similar anticoagulant. And since all anticoagulant medications work within a narrow range, you don't want either to increase or decrease your clotting factors without changing the doctor working with you to get the right dosage of your medication.

While there are no reports of any bleeding out after they ate curry (which contains turmeric that is the source of curcumin) or after they took curcumin, there is at least a theoretical possibility of curcumin interacting with your anticoagulant meds. Curcumin does prevent clotting, well enough that some modern arterial stents are loaded with curcumin to keep clots from clogging them up.

The way curcumin prevents clotting, moreover, isn't the same way Coumadin or Plavix prevents clotting. Curcumin keeps fibrin from "weaving a net" to catch red blood cells. Coumadin prevents the liver from making the fibrin "fibers" in the first place. If you have a medication stopping the production of fibrin and a supplement like curcumin making fibrin less efficient in making clots, your blood may flow more easily but you may bleed more easily, too.

If you are taking an anticoagulant, have a discussion with your doctor before you take curcumin. This way you can work together proactively to make sure you get the maximum of both your prescription medications and any supplements you take.

You may also be interested in:


Could Curcumin Cure Congestive Heart Failure?
Curcumin and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for Congestive Heart Failure
Curcumin and Hawthorn for Congestive Heart Failure
Could Curcumin Lower LDL Cholesterol (and Raise HDL)?
Curcumin and Bioperine
Curcumin, Arjuna, and Pushkarmoola for Heart Conditions

Citation:

Pan CJ, Shao ZY, Tang JJ, Wang J, Huang N. In vitro studies of platelet adhesion, activation, and protein adsorption on curcumin-eluting biodegradable stent materials. J Biomed Mater Res A. 2007 Sep 1;82(3):740-6.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Could Curcumin Lower Cholesterol?

Curcumin, the bright orange-yellow pigment found in the curry spice turmeric, might prove to be an inexpensive and side effects-free way to lower cholesterol. (There is also a corresponding health benefit of turmeric supplements, but curcumin is much easier to take on a regular basis because the dosage of turmeric would need to be more than an ounce a day.)

A study designed to determine whether curcumin could be safely administered to people who are sick, two Indian researchers gave 500 mg of curcumin a day to 10 healthy volunteers every day for seven days. The test subject volunteers did not get sick, but they also showed an astonishing lowering of cholesterol.

In just seven days, there was a 29 per cent increase in the "good" HDL cholesterol, a 12 per cent decrease in total cholesterol (which means there was roughly a 34 per cent decrease in LDL cholesterol, which is not measured directly), and a 33 per cent decrease in lipid peroxides.

What are lipid peroxides?

These are compounds in your blood that are actually more worrisome than LDL. A lipid peroxide can get "stuck" in the lining of a blood vessel, and the a kind of white blood cell called a macrophage can come along to dislodge but get stuck, too. Lipid peroxides from the core around with a plaque calcifies.

So can curcumin lower cholesterol if you aren't healthy?

A follow-up study suggests that it can. Just 10 mg of a curcumin heart health supplement twice a day for 28 days lowered LDL and raised HDL in patients who already had atherosclerosis. men and women who suffer cardiomyopathy and high cholesterol or congestive heart failure and high cholesterol may benefit from the addition of curcumin to their health care routines.

You may also be interested in:
What's the Amount of Niacin to Lower Cholesterol?
Does Raisin Bran Lower Cholesterol?
Is Red Meat Always Bad for Your Heart?
Bran and High Cholesterol
Does Colostrum Lower Cholesterol?
Could Curcumin Lower Cholesterol?
Fish Oil and LDL Cholesterol: What to Do When Lowering Your Triglycerides Appears to Raise Your LDL
Red Yeast Rice for High Cholesterol
Lowering Cholesterol by Lowering Salt




Curcumin and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for Congestive Heart Failure
Curcumin for Alzheimer's Prevention
Could Curcumin Prevent Cancer?
Could Curcumin Cure Congestive Heart Failure?
Curcumin, Coumadin, and Other Anticoagulants
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?

Citations:

Soni KB, Kuttan R. Effect of oral curcumin administration on serum peroxides and cholesterol levels in human volunteers. 1: Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1992 Oct;36(4):273-5.

Could Curcumin Prevent Cancer?

Is there a curcumin cancer cure? Could curcumin prevent cancer? Is there a role for curcumin and turmeric in cancer control?

Curcumin, the pigment that makes the curry spice turmeric a bright orange-yellow, is one of the best-researched potential preventatives for a number of kinds of cancer.

On a molecular level, curcumin interacts with an extraordinary range of cellular processes involved in cancer. Curcumin:

  • Stops the activation of some"transcription factors" that lay down the DNA for a new cancer cell,
  • Acts in the same as other anti-inflammatory agents in stopping the expression of growth factors in existing cancer cells,
  • And (in almost all kinds of cancer) activates a "watchdog" gene, p53, that deactivates cells that have become cancerous.

Curcumin is non-toxic even if it is taken in doses 30-40 times more than needed for it to work, up to 12 grams (12,000 mg) a day. The body uses curcumin in various antioxidant processes that it does not build up in the bloodstream in most people even when taken in doses of 10,000 to 12,000 mg a day.

And there's no reason to try to build up a bloodstream concentration of curcumin if you get just a little more than once a day. The liver clears curcumin out of circulation in 8 to 12 hours.

What is the evidence that curcumin might prevent cancer? Well, aside from the over-100 studies of curcumin in the laboratory, curcumin has been used in clinical trials.

In a study of 62 patients who had various skin cancers and pre-cancers (actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma that had not infiltrated below the skin, and external genital warts), researchers found that a curcumin ointment applied to the skin brought lasting relief from the itching, burning, and ache associated with the cancer and stopped cancer growth.

Curcumin stopped skin itching in all the patients, "dried up" oozing lesions in 70 per cent of cases, and actually reduced the size of the cancer in 10 per cent of patients. Only one patient had any adverse reaction to curcumin, an allergy. The ointment consisted of 1 per cent curcumin in a cream base.

Curcumin has also been treated in other pre-cancerous conditions, including:

  • Bladder cancer,
  • Bowen's disease of the skin (squamous cell carcinoma),
  • Leukoplakia (white patches inside the mouth found in smokers),
  • Intestinal metaplasia of the stomach (a kind of pre-cancer of the stomach caused by Helicobacter pylori infection and associated with peptic ulcer disease).

In 10 out of 12 cases in this very small trial, pre-cancer patients who used up to 12,000 mg of curcumin a day did not go on to develop cancer. Moreover, in one patient with bladder cancer, two with leukoplakia, one with a cervical tumor, and two with squamous cell carcinoma, the pre-cancerous lesions actually shrank.

Curcumin (in a dosage of 3,600 mg per day) may be beneficial to people who have advanced drug-resistant colorectal cancer. Scientists at least know that curcumin concentrates in the cancer tissues of the colon and that some markers of cancer activity drop significantly after the patient takes curcumin for four months.

Curcumin for colon cancer increases the effectiveness of traditional radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Finally, in otherwise untreatable advanced pancreatic cancer, a daily dose of 8,000 mg of curcumin has been tried for up to two months. Two months, as you may know, is a very long time to be treating advanced pancreatic cancer.

That's what science knows about curcumin and cancer in humans. Dozens of other studies are in the works, however, for treatment of esophageal cancers, stomach cancers, liver cancer, lung cancers, lymphoma, and breast cancer. And doctors are following up on an intriguing observation that women who live in countries where turmeric-based (and curcumin-loaded) curries are part of the daily diet have very low rates of breast cancer.

Curcumin does not interfere with any other therapy you should continue if you have or if your doctor believes you may develop cancer. Its side effects are very rare, and it's cheap. There's no way to prove that curcumin could prevent cancer for you, but it should rank very high on your list of natural preventive measures that may help keep you healthy, along with prostate cancer and breast cancer early detection.



You may also be interested in:

Curcumin for Alzheimer's Prevention
Could Curcumin Cure Congestive Heart Failure?
Could Curcumin Lower LDL Cholesterol (and Raise HDL)?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?


Citations:


Garcea G, Berry DP, Jones DJ, Singh R, Dennison AR, Farmer PB, Sharma RA, Steward WP, Gescher AJ. Consumption of the putative chemopreventive agent curcumin by cancer patients: assessment of curcumin levels in the colorectum and their pharmacodynamic consequences. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Jan;14(1):120-5.

Goel A, Kunnumakkara AB, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin as "Curecumin": From kitchen to clinic Biochem Pharmacol. 2008 Feb 15;75(4):787-809. Epub 2007 Aug 19.

Sharma RA, Euden SA, Platton SL, Cooke DN, Shafayat A, Hewitt HR, Marczylo TH, Morgan B, Hemingway D, Plummer SM, Pirmohamed M, Gescher AJ, Steward WP. Phase I clinical trial of oral curcumin: biomarkers of systemic activity and compliance.1: Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Oct 15;10(20):6847-54.

Vitamin E for Diabetes

Vitamin E is a term used to describe eight different chemicals performing the same function.

Many physicians and nutritionists typically refer to alpha-tocopherol as if it were the only component of vitamin E, but, the fact is, it's just the easiest form of vitamin E to measure.
Vitamin E consists of not just alpha-tocopherol but a total of four "tocopherols" and four "tocotrienols."

Can supplementing with vitamin E help if you have diabetes?

The answer seems to be "it depends."

A study conducted in Israel and published in late 2007 found that taking 400 IU of vitamin E a day (and by "vitamin E," these researchers meant just alpha-tocopherol) could cut your risk of having a heart attack or stroke almost in half if:

You have type 2 diabetes,
You're over 55 years old, and
You have a special set of genes known as the Hp 2-2 genotype.

This means there are some people whose arteries vitamin E can help a lot, and others maybe little or not at all.

In Western societies, only about 36 per cent of the population has the Hp 2-2 genotype. (Scientists haven't measured the genotype in African and Asian populations yet.) The other 64 per cent won't benefit from taking alpha-tocopherol for their hearts.

Vitamin E, however, can have a much more direct effect on diabetes when it's used in "pharmacologic" doses.

An Italian study found that taking 900 mg (that's about 1200 IU) of alpha-tocopherol a day increased the ability of insulin to move glucose into muscle by about 30 per cent in type 2 diabetics. In this study, vitamin E performs better than any oral prescription medication for type 2 diabetes on the market, but....

The problem with taking a vitamin E supplement that's pure alpha-tocopherol at that dosage is that it can interfere with your body's absorption of the other forms of vitamin E (gamma-tocopherol in particular) and actually raise your risk of having a "sudden cardiovascular event."

You can avoid this problem by taking a supplement that contains at least gamma-tocopherol in addition to alpha-tocopherol, and preferably all eight of the chemical forms of vitamin E.

And if you have "just a touch of diabetes," that is, if you've been told you're "borderline diabetic" or if you have metabolic syndrome, consumption of all of the eight chemicals that make up "vitamin E" may be very useful to you.

A Finnish study found that high-level consumption of the four "tocopherols" and four "tocotrienols" that together function as vitamin E might reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about 30 per cent.

The Finnish scientists also found that high rates of consumption of a related antioxidant, beta-cryptoxanthin, might reduce the risk of developing diabetes by about 40 per cent.

What's beta-cryptoxanthin?

Well, it's not vitamin E, but it has some of the same functions as vitamin E. Beta-cryptoxanthin is chemically similar to beta-carotene.

Beta-cryptoxanthin, like beta-carotene, is a provitamin that the human body can use to make vitamin A. This hard-to-pronounce antioxidant seems to keep LDL cholesterol from changing into plaques and possibly to prevent the progression of arthritis.

And, for reasons scientists can't explain yet, it is associated with lower rates of diabetes. There's not known to be any downside to taking it. It tends to disappear from circulation in people who use large amounts of margarines with plant sterols to lower cholesterol, like Benecol and Take Control.

So what's my recommendation?

Mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols ("natural" vitamin E) is probably more beneficial for most diabetics. 400 IU a day is enough. 1200 IU a day is better. Do not take more than 400 IU a day of any supplement that's solely composed of alpha-tocopherol.

If you use Benecol or Take Control, be sure you get your beta-cryptoxanthan, either from a supplement or from regular servings of avocado, cilantro, serrano peppers, or (in moderation) grapefruit, oranges, or watermelon.

You may also be interested in:

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Is There An Appetite-Suppression Oolong Tea Supplement?
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
Signs of Diabetes in Youths and Adults

Curcumin for Alzheimer's Prevention

The very latest in the scientific application of diet and nutritional supplements to relieve Alzheimer's comes from a six-month, double-blinded, randomized clinical study of curcumin in the elderly who already have Alzheimer's disease in China.

Curcumin is the anti-oxidant found in abundance in the yellowish orange spice turmeric, used in curries. In India, where curry is a very common dish, Alzheimer's is relatively rare.

How can curcumin help Alzheimer's disease? Answering the question requires just a little background on how Alzheimer's changes the brain.

Alzheimer's disease is caused by at least two different kinds of abnormalities in the brain, neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques.

The "tangles" are bundles of twisted filaments that consist primarily of a protein called tau. In healthy brains, these filaments inside the neurons of the brain act as delivery tubes for nutrients. In Alzheimer's, the filaments become entangled and cease to provide the neurons with nutrition.

Amyloid plaques are collections of cellular debris that accumulate in the synapse, or electrical junction, between brain cells. Consisting primarily of a protein called beta-amyloid, the plaques stop communication between the neurons and eventually cause them to die.

Scientists have known for several years from laboratory studies that curcumin seems to stop the accumulation of plaque between brain cells. Whether these findings in the laboratory would be useful in the treatment of real people was the purpose of the clinical study.

So how can you get your curcumin?

The most reliable way to get the benefits of this potent anti-oxidant is to take a curcumin supplement. If you'd prefer curry, however, 1 teaspoon of turmeric a day should be enough to make a difference.

You may also be interested in:
Curcumin and Wound Care
How Much Curcumin Is There In Turmeric?
Could Curcumin Prevent Cancer?
Could Curcumin Cure Congestive Heart Failure?
Curcumin and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for Congestive Heart Failure
Curcumin and Hawthorn for Congestive Heart Failure
Curcumin, Arjuna, and Pushkarmoola for Heart Conditions
Could Curcumin Lower LDL Cholesterol (and Raise HDL)?
Curcumin, Coumadin, and Other Anticoagulants
Curcumin and Bioperine


Citation:

Baum L, Lam CW, Cheung SK, Kwok T, Lui V, Tsoh J, Lam L, Leung V, Hui E, Ng C, Woo J, Chiu HF, Goggins WB, Zee BC, Cheng KF, Fong CY, Wong A, Mok H, Chow MS, Ho PC, Ip SP, Ho CS, Yu XW, Lai CY, Chan MH, Szeto S, Chan IH, Mok V. Six-month randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, pilot clinical trial of curcumin in patients with Alzheimer disease. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2008 Feb;28(1):110-3.

Foot Odor: Best Home Remedies (With FAQs from Site Visitors)

The average human foot, scientists tell us, produces about one-quarter cup (60 ml) of sweat each and every day. By the end of 12 hours of wearing tight-fitting shoes, that's like irrigating hundreds of billions of bacteria and yeast with a good soppy splash of water to encourage them to eat, drink, reproduce, and produce smelly feet. So how can you stop them from stinking up your shoes?

Although there are home remedies to stop your feet from sweating that I'll list in a moment, your first line of defense against foot odor is to treat your shoes, not your feet. Let them "breathe" and dry out every other day. In summer, wear sandals, as long as they are not made of "jelly-like" plastic. In winter, wear washable shoes that you can launder to cut down the number of bacteria that cause foot odor. Store shoes in mesh bags, not plastic, and don't keep outside a gym bag or dance bag, not inside.

The secondline of defense against foot odor is to treat your feet. You don't have to start with a prescription. I'd go with foot powder first.

Sprinkle either plain old baking soda or any over-the-counter foot powder on the feet before putting on socks. The powder absorbs moisture before it can nourish bacteria.

Two other home remedies for foot odor that really work are tea and Epsom salts.

The principle behind using tea (that's on the foot, not in your stomach) is that the tannins in tea "tan" the skin on your foot so it does not leak perspiration quite as fast. You can make a soak from 5 family-sized bags of black tea (although green tea would also work) in a quart (about a liter) of hot water.

Steep the tea for 10-15 minutes and then allow it to cool to room temperature. Pour the tea into a large flat pan and then immerse the feet for half an hour.

Do this every other day for a week and sweating should diminish. You still have to have clean shoes to avoid foot odor, but reducing perspiration also helps. The downside of using tea is that it can stain your feet brown (and the walnut hulls recommended by some herbalists will make your feet even browner). But if that's a problem, you can use Epsom salts.

Add a handful of Epsom salts to a flat pan of warm water, and immerse feet for 30 minutes.

There's no scientific explanation of why this should work. It just does.

But if soaking feet is not your thing, consider deodorant. Any deodorant that contains aluminum chloride will knock out pedal perspriation fast, and the limited circulation to the foot means it is far less likely to be absorbed into the body.

Spray deodorant applied to the foot may also relieve the sting of minor insect bites.

You may have heard that urinating on the feet stops foot odor. By this, I mean urinating on the feet in the shower and then rinsing the urine off before drying feet and putting socks and shoes on. There's some scientific sense behind the method, because urea (found in urine) does kill some kinds of fungus that live on the feet. It's not high on my list of home remedies, although it may work. Feel free to comment if you've tried it.

Another folk remedy for smelly feet falls under the heading of "don't stink, take zinc." This may work for you. Just be sure not to take more than 100 mg of zinc a day, and take a zinc formula that's mixed with copper and other trace minerals.

Finally, as a last resort, there is always prescription medication for extremely sweaty feet. In the US, the best known medication is Drysol. Its chemical name is aluminum chloride hexahydrate, and it's just an especially potent antideodorant. Drysol can cause foot irritation. If this happens, wash it off the feet before going to bed at night and reapply in the morning.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Will soaking my feet in black tea stain them?

A. A little, which won't be noticeable unless you have unusually fair skin. It may take 3-5 days to fade.Could An Apple a Day Keep Alzheimer's Away?
Curcumin for Alzheimer's Prevention

Q. Would green tea also relieve foot odor?

A. Yes, and it's less likely to stain.

Q. Are there any stained feet remedies?

A. Is there a home remedy that takes a stain off your foot? Anything that moisturizes the skin will accelerate recovery from a stain, but anything that would take it out immediately would also injure your skin. If you are going to use a moisturizer on your feet, just make sure feet, socks, and shoes are kept extremely clean, to keep bacterial growth to a minimum.

Chromium for Diabetes

Chromium has been identified for a very long time as an essential component of the Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF), enabling the body to transport glucose out of the bloodstream into cells where it's needed.

The problem with proving this scientifically has been, it's hard to prove anything (by modern standards) by studying just a few people, even if you do the study right. A meta-analytic review of 36 studies found that taking chromium (and I'll comment on how much in just a moment) on average lowered blood glucose levels by 0.8 mM, or in the terms most non-scientists use, 15 mg/dl or so.

Moreover, while no scientist has found that taking chromium lowers your "bad" LDL cholesterol, two studies have found it can greatly increase the "good" HDL cholesterol.

The thing is, sometimes taking less chromium works better than taking more, but taking brewer's yeast (a natural food that contains chromium but delivers a lower amount of it) is even better.

This means if you come across a supplement that promises "New! Improved! More Chromium!" you shouldn't buy it.Further complicating the understanding is the fact that for chromium, as for so many aspects of diabetes, what works in one situation doesn't necessarily work in another.

There's some research that finds that the body wastes chromium, that is, flushes it out into the urine, when it's fed a high glycemic index diet (lots of sugar, flour, rice).

And along those lines, there's other research that suggests that chromium only works for people who really need it, that is, who have especially severe insulin resistance. If you have just a "touch of diabetes," it may not help you.

But if you don't have either diabetes or prediabetes, your fasting blood sugars go down slightly if you provide you body with as little as a 10 microgram daily dose.So does chromium help you or not?

The bottom line of over 400 research studies I've leafed through seems to be that a combination of chromium and the B-vitamin biotin may be helpful for overweight type 2 diabetics at an early stage of treatment. It probably will lower blood sugars 15 mg/dl within the first month you take it, but it won't keep on lowering them once your body has all the chromium it needs.

As for helping you lose weight, well, sorry, that effect seems to be due to diarrhea when you take both chromium and metformin or diabetes drugs in the sulfonylurea class. At least the diarrhea is temporary. So's the weight loss.Taking chromium won't do for you what diet, drugs, and insulin can. Getting control over what you're eating and how much you weight is much more important. But chromium can help you get started.

You may also be interested in:

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Is There An Appetite-Suppression Oolong Tea Supplement?
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease

Vitamin D for Diabetes

A noted author on natural health claims "Vitamin D is better than metformin (a common prescription drug) for diabetes!" Is she right?

Well, the answer to whether vitamin D is as good as metformin the lowering blood sugars and controlling diabetes is probably yes and no.

Almost 20 years ago Swedish scientists discovered that taking a vitamin D supplement helps control blood sugars in diabetic men if they are vitamin D deficient (and it slightly lowers blood pressure in others).

And if the diabetic is not vitamin D deficient? What are the symptoms of shortage of vitamin D?

In acute vitamin D deficiency, there's almost always bone fracture or bone pain. Otherwise, at deficiency levels that are a problem for diabetics and not for non-diabetics, it's hard to tell. The skin makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. People who get more sunlight, at least in North American culture, tend to exercise more. So whether it's the vitamin D or the exercise that's controlling high blood glucose levels in diabetes is hard to tell.

But are you vitamin D deficient?

In the winter months, if you live anywhere in Europe or Russia, north of Atlanta, Dallas, or San Diego in North America, north of Shanghai or Seoul or Tokyo in Asia, or south of Buenos Aires or Sydney or Auckland in the Southern Hemisphere, you probably are. A daily dose of up to 1000 IU (25 micrograms) a day may be helpful to your general health.

Recent reader questions:

Q. How long does it take to correct a vitamin D Deficiency?

A. Improved blood sugar control is usually measurable in two to three weeks. Recovery of bone health may take up to a year.

Q. What are the best sources of vitamin d in foods?

A. Cod liver oil, real butter, and cream. That's why a lot of people prefer the supplements.

You may also be interested in:

Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Is There An Appetite-Suppression Oolong Tea Supplement?
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
Is There An Appetite-Suppression Oolong Tea Supplement?
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease


Citation:

Lind L, Pollare T, Hvarfner A, Lithell H, Sørensen OH, Ljunghall S. Long-term treatment with active vitamin D (alphacalcidol) in middle-aged men with impaired glucose tolerance. Effects on insulin secretion and sensitivity, glucose tolerance and blood pressure. Diabetes Res. 1989 Jul;11(3):141-7.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fish and Shellfish Allergy Relief

Do you suffer fish or shellfish allergies?

If you know you are at risk for a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction to fish or shellfish, you simply have to eliminate them from your diet. If you have "just a touch" of shellfish allergy, there are steps you can take to make risk of sneezing, wheezing, tearing, and hives less likely from overindulgence or accidental ingestion.

Many species of fish are especially rich in the amino acid histidine. The amino acid histidine can degrade into the compound histamine (the irritant chemical you take antihistamines to stop) if fish are not refrigerated promptly after catch.

This problem is worst with tuna and mackerel. If these species are not chilled to stop bacterial growth, bacteria on and in the flesh of the fish release an enzyme called decarboxylase that transforms the histidine into the irritant histamine. So, one way to minimize a fish allergy is simply to make sure you don't eat spoiled fish.

Fish that is high in histamine will have a peppery taste even if it's not seasoned. If refrigeration simply is not available, treating the fish with lime juice will counteract the enzyme that releases histamine.

Another way to achieve fish and shellfish allergy relief is to minimize cross-sensitivities.

People who are allergic to fish or shellfish tend also to be allergic to the preservatives BHA and BHT. Reduce exposure to BHA and BHT, and you reduce the severity of a concurrent reaction to fish or shellfish.

Also, if you are allergic to one kind of shellfish, you're probably allergic to them all. Remember, not all shellfish (at least in terms of their potential to cause allergy) have shells. The list of related allergenic foods includes but is not limited to:

  • Abalone
  • Clams
  • Oysters
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Octopus
  • Prawns
  • Barnacles
  • Sea Urchins
  • Squid/Calamari and
  • Limpet

The allergens in shellfish and related foods are still in the food after cooking.

Many times allergy sufferers react not to the fish or shellfish itself but to the Anisakis larvae infesting the fish. A European study found that in Spain, 35 per cent of people who thought they were allergic to fish were really only allergic to Anisakis.

Even though freezing kills the parasite, even cooked dead parasites can cause an allergic reaction. Serving fish with ginger may reduce symptoms, but to avoid this particular allergy, you need to buy your fish from an honest and knowledgeable fishmonger.

Finally, it's possible to have a "fish" allergy provoked by eating chicken. Chicken who fed fish meal (so that they lay DHA-rich eggs) can pick up the Anisakis parasite and pass it on to unlucky diners. Cooking the chicken well unfortunately does not stop allergies to the parasite. Anisakis allergies have not, however, been reported from eating DHA-rich eggs.

A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?

In the February 2008 edition of the medical journal Diabetes Care there is a report of a clinical trial of a "new" Ayurvedic herb for type-2 diabetes, Coccinia cordifolia.

Better known as koval or ivy gourd (and in various local languages, as tindora', dondakaya, tendli, or gentlemen's fingers), this herb is in the same plant family as the better known bitter melon. Like bitter melon, it both grows wild and is cultivated for its shoots and fruits. Koval is a common plant of India and Bangladesh that grows over the Indian sub-continent like kudzu grows over the southern USA.

Koval grows enormous tubers that anchor it into the ground and then it spreads vines in all directions. Unlike kudzu, it bears trumpet-like white blossoms that produce a zucchini-shaped but purplish-red fruit. Ayurvedic medicine has used the fruit and the leaves for centuries as a treatment for diabetes, but this study is the first detailed clinical trial.

Since Ayurvedic practitioners typically recommend "a handful" of the dried leaves and chopped gourd brewed into a tea, the researchers at the St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences in Bangalore prepared a standardized extract from 15 grams of the dried herb. They gave the extract or a placebo to 60 newly diagnosed type-2 diabetics for 60 days.

If you're familiar with how most prescription medications for diabetes work (many of them encourage weight gain), you'll be impressed that the finding that people who took the herb not only did not gain weight, there was a slight trend to weight loss (less than 0.1 kilo, or one-quarter pound, per month). There was also a very slight trend to slimmer waists and tighter hips (again, a few millimeters, or tenths or an inch), all without any changes in food eaten or total calories. Body fat percentages, however, very slightly rose.

And as you may have read in other natural health headlines, the Ayurvedic herb definitely lowered blood sugars.

At the beginning of the study, the average fasting blood sugar in the test group was 132 mg/dl, and the average post-prandial (after-eating) blood sugar was 183 mg/dl.

The effects of the herb gradually increased over 90 days. By the end of the third month of the clinical trial, the average fasting blood glucose among the diabetics who got the herb had fallen to 111 mg/dl, while the diabetics who did not get the herb actually had slightly higher morning blood glucose levels. Among the diabetics getting the herb, post-prandial (after-eating) blood sugars also improved, to an average slightly below 150 mg/dl. The improvement in blood sugar levels was confirmed by an average drop of 0.6 per cent in HbA1C.

The researchers noted that similar percentages of diabetics getting the herb (94 per cent) and diabetics getting the placebo (93 per cent) were able to stick to their diabetic diets. The difference in blood sugars was due to the herb. It's also important to note that the diabetics taking the herb did not take any of the medications for diabetes commonly prescribed in North America, Australia, New Zealand, or the UK, and that they did not have blood sugar levels requiring immediate use of insulin.

So how does Coccinia cordifolia work?

The researchers don't know for sure, but it seems that some chemical in the herb is insulin-mimetic. That is, this as-yet-unidentified compound works the same way as insulin in clearing glucose out of the bloodstream, but does not work the same way as insulin in moving triglycerides into hungry fat cells.

Will a koval extract for type-2 diabetes be coming soon to a natural health products retailer near you? Just ask at any retailer specializing in Ayurvedic herbs or anywhere the proprietary extract Gencinia is sold. It's already available. If you take the herb, use 15 g (about half an ounce) a day to make a tea, drunk warm after brewing in a closed tea pot for 15 minutes. If you use a 15:1 dried extract, use 1,000 mg (1 g) per day.

If you have relatively mild type-2 diabetes and you are taking your blood sugars every day and avoiding carbohydrates, this herb is certainly worth a try.

You may also be interested in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes by eating vegetables and treating diabetes with vitamin C.

You may also be interested in:

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
Do Diabetics Really Need Lipitor(and Other Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs)?
Fish Oil and LDL Cholesterol: What to Do When Lowering Your Triglycerides Appears to Raise Your LDL
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?


Citation:

Kuriyan R, Rajendran R, Bantwal G, Kurpad AV. Effect of supplementation of Coccinia cordifolia extract on newly detected diabetic patients. Diabetes Care. 2008 Feb;31(2):216-20. Epub 2007 Nov 13.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Reduce Your Risk of Type-2 Diabetes By Eating Your Veggies

The antioxidants, magnesium, and fiber of vegetables may reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by up to 30 per cent, according to a new study coming from China.

The study, published in the March 2008 edition of the Journal of Nutrition, tracked the eating habits of 64,191 women aged 40 to 70 in China. Food choices were tracked at the beginning of the study and four-and-a-half years later, and rates of diabetes compared.

Researchers measured intakes of cruciferous vegetables (bok choi, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and winter radish), other green leafy vegetables, yellow vegables, onions and garlic, tomatoes, and other vegetables. They also measured consumption of fruit.

The quintile of women eating the most vegetables--an average of 428 grams (nearly a pound) a day--was 28 less likely to become diabetic than the quntile of women eating the least--121.5 grams, or only about 1/4 pound a day. Eating more fruit did not reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

No particular vegetable stood out as diabetes-protective. The researchers believe that fiber, antioxidants, and magnesium in vegetables may all play an important role in preventing the disease. Generally speaking, vegetables are both relatively low-carb and low-fat, making them useful in almost any diet for weight loss or diabetes prevention.

The authors of the study also pointed out that vitamin C and vitamin E are also known to influence blood glucose levels. Even antioxidant like DHEA may play a role in the ongoing health of people with type-2 diabetes.

And because the study, jointly conducted by the Shanghai Cancer Institute and the Diabetes Research and Training Center in Nashville, Tennessee, only looked at diets of women in China, it is possible the results are not exactly applicable to other populations.

Still, this study is strong evidence that getting a full nine servings of vegetables a day may protect against developing diabetes type-2.

You may also be interested in:

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Do Diabetics Really Need Lipitor?
Fish Oil and LDL Cholesterol: What to Do When Lowering Your Triglycerides Appears to Raise Your LDL
Is There An Appetite-Suppression Oolong Tea Supplement?
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
Selenium for Prevention of Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease
Could Curcumin Cure Congestive Heart Failure?
Coffee Raises the Risk of Heart Attacks! Coffee Lowers the Risk of Heart Attacks! Huh?

Citation: Villegas R, Shu XO, Gao YT, Yang G, Elasy T, Li H, Zheng W. Vegetable but not fruit consumption reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes in Chinese women. J Nutr. 2008 Mar;138(3):574-80.

Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?

Scientists have long known that vitamins C and E can be antioxidants in low concentrations but tissue- and DNA-destructive pro-oxidants in high concentrations. A recent clinical trial conducted at the Bertram Diabetes Research Unit and the Institute for Food Research in Norwich in England finds that there really is such a thing as getting to much alpha-tocopherol.

Scientists gave diabetics a daily dose of either a placebo or 1200 IU (800 mg) of alpha-tocopherol, one of the eight chemicals known as "vitamin E," every day for 29 days. At first there were no differences between the diabetic volunteers who got the placebo and those who got vitamin E.

By day 29, however, evidence of pro-oxidant effects began showing up in the diabetics who got the high-dose vitamin E. By day 29, from 6 to 20 per cent of the white blood cells (particularly the kind that get "stuck" in oxidized cholesterol) in the vitamin E treatment group had DNA damage.

This finding suggests that if you are a diabetic who takes just alpha-tocopherol, that is, no other form of vitamin E, and no other antioxidants, you are taking a damaging amount of vitamin E.

It's easy to correct the problem, of course. Take less alpha-tocopherol, and if you have a medically determined indication for high-dose vitamin E, take a supplement that contains at least gamma-tocopherol and preferably the other six tocopherols and tocotrienols, as well. Balanced antioxidant supplementation is always preferable to a high dose of a single antioxidant.

Citation:

Winterbone MS, Sampson MJ, Saha S, Hughes JC, Hughes DA. Pro-oxidant effect of alpha-tocopherol in patients with type 2 diabetes after an oral glucose tolerance test--a randomised controlled trial. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2007 Feb 22;6:8.

DHEA and Diabetes

From Italy comes a study suggesting that DHEA supplements might reduce some of the complications of type 2 diabetes.

Many of the chronic complications of non-insulin dependent diabetes are vascular. In diabetes, there can be so much glucose in the bloodstream that it begins to "burn," that is, it begins to oxidize, even before it reaches the cells that need it.

This auto-oxidation process generates huge quantities of the superoxide free radical, which in turn can change normally harmless LDL cholesterol into a form of LDL that clogs blood vessels. The smallest, microscopic capillaries are the first affected. Only when the effects of diabetes are greatly progressed does atherosclerosis show in major arteries.

Research physicians at the university and hospitals in Turin found that giving elderly diabetics DHEA did not lower blood sugars or cholesterol, but did lower oxidative stress in the bloodstream. The concentration of free radicals of oxygen in the blood lowered on average 53 per cent.

Interestingly, taking DHEA also elevated bloodstream concentrations of vitamin E. This is because DHEA protected vitamin E from destruction by free radicals.

Diabetics are given statin drugs to lower cholesterol, ACE-inhibitors and ACE-receptor blockers for high blood pressure, calcium channel blockers, and/or thiazolidinediones (Actos/Avandia or pioglitazone/rosiglitazone), all of which have side-effects. The doctors conducting this story express a hope that DHEA, which occurs naturally in the body and which can be given in a dosage of 50 mg a day without side effects, might eventually replace these drugs.

You may also be interested in:

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?


Citation:

Brignardello E, Runzo C, Aragno M, Catalano MG, Cassader M, Perin PC, Boccuzzi G. Dehydroepiandrosterone administration counteracts oxidative imbalance and advanced glycation end product formation in type 2 diabetic patients. 1: Diabetes Care. 2007 Nov;30(11):2922-7. Epub 2007 Aug 17.

Vitamin C for Diabetes

What if instead of taking Actos (pioglitazone) or Avandia (rosiglitazone) or Glucophage (metformin), the medication you really needed for blood sugar control in diabetes were vitamin C? A study coming from Iran suggests that for some diabetics, vitamin C might be as useful as many common medications.

Researchers at the Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences & Health Services followed 84 diabetics given either 500 mg or 1,000 mg of supplemental vitamin C every day for six weeks.

Taking 500 mg of vitamin C every day did not result in any measurable benefits. Diabetics taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C a day, however, had lower fasting blood glucose, lower triglycerides, lower LDL cholesterol, and lower HbA1C in just 42 days.

How much lower?

Average fasting blood glucose levels fell from 169.33 mg/dl to 144.80 mg/dl.
Average HbA1C fell from 8.82 per cent to 7.66 per cent. (This is better than most medications.)
Average LDL cholesterol fell from 130.95 mg/dl to 125.91 mg/dl.
And the drop in insulin levels was astonishing, from 16.91 microunits per ml to 8.77 microunits per ml.

When there is less insulin, there is less fat storage. Vitamin C should help diabetics keep from gaining weight.

These results suggest that many diabetics may benefit from vitamin C, but the results should be interpreted with some reservations. If you are already on one or several medications, the additional benefits of taking a 1,000 mg vitamin C tablet every day, at least in terms of your blood sugars, triglycerides, and HbA1c, may be limited. Also, vitamin in your blood interacts with the enzymes in blood glucose test strips so that the glucometer reading is low, while the actual blood sugar is higher.

It's also possible that using vitamin C for several months can, like using R-lipoic or alpha-lipoic acid, give you a reduction in HbA1C that doesn't really result from improved blood sugars. Doctors test HbA1C to get a rough estimate of how high or low blood sugars have run over several months. Strong antioxidants keep glucose from "sticking" to hemoglobin, so less HbA1C is formed at the same blood sugar level.

The effects of vitamin C on blood sugar measurements of various kinds may not be major, but they do tend to exaggerate the vitamin's benefits. Where vitamin C might really help you is to keep you from gaining weight.

Just get your C from an extended-release formula, and make sure you don't take more than 1,000 mg a day. And if you're really concerned about the question "How much vitamin C should I get daily," be assured you may get some benefits from just 250 mg a day (even though the study did not show this, some other studies suggest it). You don't need high-dose vitamin C crystals or capsules for this indication.

What fruit has the highest content of vitamin C? Acerola, but if you don't live in a tropical location where you can get acerola fresh, just about the only way you can get enough vitamin C to affect blood sugars is to take a supplement.

Vitamin C is also important for diabetics' cardiovascular health.

That's because the amount of vitamin C a diabetic gets may also measure risk of stroke. Among the 20,649 participants in the Norfolk Prospective Population Study in the UK, those whose bloodstream concentrations of vitamin C ranked in the top 25 per cent were 42 per cent less likely to have a stroke than those in the bottom 25 per cent.

This finding does not prove that diabetics can prevent strokes by taking vitamin C, or even confirm with certainty that diabetics can reduce their risk of stroke by taking vitamin C. It is possible that there's some other element of a healthy lifestyle that goes along with getting enough vitamin C that's really protective. This study does show, however, that getting adequate vitamin C certainly does not hurt diabetics' cardiovascular health.

You may also be interested in:


Orange Juice, Coffee, Vitamin C, and Diabetes What's the Significance of a Diabetic's Feeling Drunk?
Do Diabetics Really Need Lipitor?
The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Chromium for Diabetes
Does Cinnamon for Diabetes, Cholesterol, and Triglycerides Really Work?
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
DHEA and Diabetes
Fiber-One Cereal and Blood Sugar Control
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
If You Are Diabetic, Fat Is Not Your Fault
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
To Prevent Diabetes, Low-Carb Is Better than Low-Fat
Signs of Diabetes in Youths and Adults
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?

Citations:

Afkhami-Ardekani M, Shojaoddiny-Ardekani A. Effect of vitamin C on blood glucose, serum lipids & serum insulin in type 2 diabetes patients. Indian J Med Res. 2007 Nov;126(5):471-4.


Myint PK, Luben RN, Welch AA, Bingham SA, Wareham NJ, Khaw KT. Plasma vitamin C concentrations predict risk of incident stroke over 10 y in 20 649 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Norfolk prospective population study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):64-9.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Allergy Rescue with Acupressure

You can use the ancient art of acupressure for allergy relief.

Not to be confused with acupuncture, the placement of needles at specific points on the "energy meridians" of the body, acupuncture involves only gentle manual pressure to treat a variety of illnesses in ways that defy a truly scientific explanation, but which nonetheless work.

In the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, allergies were thought of as "wind" conditions. That means that they came in on the wind, but also that they start "as fast as the wind" and they were very superficial, not really causing genuine disruption of the body as a whole, just causing sudden disagreeable symptoms.

Getting rid of "wind evils," in the theory of two thousand years ago, involved activating the same kind of energy involved in elimination of waste from digested food and drink, the energy of the intestines. Exactly why the ancient masters of Chinese medicine might suppose that the energy of the large intestine somehow was connected to the space between your thumbs and index fingers is a subject that can't be explained in just a few hundred words, but the acupuncture point there, known as LI4, is one of the most important for elimination.


And if you can get some relief from your allergies, do you really care whether the theory behind acupuncture admits easy scientific explanation? Try this:

Locate the webbing between either one of your thumbs and the adjacent index finger.


Apply a gentle pressure to the skin, pushing toward the bone that supports your index finger.


Within a few minutes, you should feel fewer allergy symptoms, notably less runny nose.


The idea behind this kind of acupuncture is that somehow pressing on this point encourages the same kinds of energy that are involved in defecation, only the "waste" that is eliminated is the energy brought in on the wind. Just a few minutes pressure should be enough.


Traditional acupressure recommends some combinations of pressure points for special situations.


To increase the effects of pressing the LI4 point on the hand, apply gentle pressure to the ST44 point between the second and third toes on either foot. This combination is meant to expel "wind energy," what we would call allergic inflammation, from the face, and also to relieve any kind of tension over the jaws. You massage the webbing between the toes about half an inch (10-12 mm) into the space between the toes, against the bone joining the toes.

When runny nose is a special problem, Traditional Chinese Medicine theory suggests rubbing the area 1-2 inches (3-5 cm) above the heel. This is the site for acupuncture needles whether the problem is too much mucus or sinuses that are too tight, and pressing the area produces a similar result.

It's very hard to go wrong with acupressure between your thumb and index finger, between your second and third toes, and above your heels. Nonetheless, there is a cautionary note in the ancient literature: None of these maneuvers are recommended during pregnancy, to prevent the possibility of stimulating the uterus. For everyone else, these simple acupressure techniques cost nothing and usually work.

You may also be interested in An Apple a Day to Keep Allergies, Asthma, and Eczema Away and Top Ten Remedies for Nasal Allergies.

Fight Gum Disease with Yogurt

From Japan's Kyushu University comes a report of a new study published in this month's Journal of Periodontology that finds that eating yogurt may prevent gum disease.

Dr. Yoshihiro Shimazaki and colleagues have been trying to find out for several years whether any personal habits besides brushing and flossing might prevent, or accelerate, the development of gingivitis. In their latest study, the scientists assessed the severity of periodontal disease in over 940 men and women between the ages of 40 and 80 against their consumption of lactic acid foods such as yogurt and buttermilk. They also looked at consumption of whole and skim milk, and cheese.

The scientists learned that eating at least two ounces (56 g) of foods cultured with the friendly bacterium Lactobacillus significantly reduced the risk of severe gingivitis, that is, with pockets more than 2 mm (about 1/10 of an inch) deep in the gums. The benefits of Lactobacillus held even when the researchers accounted for differences in age, gender, frequency of tooth brushing, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

What the scientists did not find was a protective role for consumption of milk and cheese. These foods seem to feed the bacteria that attack the gums. Only yogurt and similar foods were helpful. It's well known that acidity produced by Lactobacilli kills E. coli, Campylobacter, and Salmonella.

Which other foods contain lactic acid? Here is a partial list:

Cottage cheese, especially the mass-produced kind which is preserved with the acid,
Koumiss,
Kefir,
Sourdough breads, especially sourdough rye, and
Wheat beers (especially lambic).

The protective chemical also occurs in sauerkraut and salami, and wiener makers use it to give hot dogs (frankfurters) a firmer texture than the meats from which they are made. The researchers did not, however, find that eating these foods protected gums or teeth.

Yogurt is your best bet. As little as one-quarter cup (about 60 g) of yogurt a day may help protect teeth and gums from chronic bacterial infection.

Atopic Disease: Could An Apple a Day Keep Allergies, Asthma, and Eczema Away?

When the National Health Service of the UK needed to find a way to reduce the frequency of allergies and asthma in Scotland, they found a surprising remedy: apples.

Just one apple a week significantly reduced the incidence of both allergies and asthma. A similar benefit accrued from eating just one orange a week.

A later study of London school children aged 5 to 10 found that drinking apple juice (made from concentrate) at least once a day did not stop each and every asthma attack, but drinking apple juice or other fruit juice for breakfast measurably reduced wheezing. And a Dutch study determined that women who eat apples during pregnancy bear children at lower risk for the atopic diseases, allergies, asthma, and eczema.

The European experience and subsequent laboratory studies in Japan suggest that the reason an apple a day (or even an apple a week) may keep atopic conditions in check is due to the fruit's content of quercetin.


This antioxidant flavonoid blocks the action of an enzyme called hyalouronidase. Hyalouronidase breaks down capillaries that cause stuffiness in the nose.


Hyalouronidase also breaks open tiny packets inside mast cells fileld with histamine, which, as you probably know, is the agent of allergic inflammation that anti-histamines are designed to counter. Getting quercetin from foods like apples blocks the action of the enzyme and keeps histamine from being released.


Eating foods rich in quercetin not only lowers risk of allergy, asthma, and eczema, it's associated a lower risk of lung cancer, too.


If you can't eat an apple a day, you can also get your quercetin from:
  • Grapefruit,
  • Onions,
  • Red wine, or
  • Black tea
Green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, and legumes in general have lower concentrations of quercetin.
Certain other foods, however, can wipe out the allergy-protective effect of quercetin. These foods are high in the amino acid histidine, which the body can convert into histamine. High-histidine foods include:
  • All game meats, especially arctic game meats (seal, whale), but also boar, antelope, and venison,
  • Baked or dried tofu,
  • Soy protein isolates (like you'd get in a soy supplement powder for making protein smoothies),
  • Bacon, and
  • Powdered eggs (which appear in all kinds of dry mixes for cakes and cookies).
Tuna steaks that are stored without adequate refrigeration sometimes generate histamine all on their own. If your tuna or tuna steak tastes peppery even though you haven't sprinkled pepper on it, throw it away. It is probably high in histamine and cause extreme allergic reactions, not just sneezing, wheezing, and tearing, but also vomiting and diarrhea.
So, an apple a day may keep allergies away, and blinky tuna may make them work. Try eating apples, oranges, grapefruit, onions, beans, peas, lentils, legumes, or green leafy vegetables and drinking black tea every day, and see if you allergies don't get better.


Robert Rister

Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease

Brushing and flossing are generally thought to be the only way to prevent gum disease, and a home remedy always seemed out of the question. From Kyushu Unviersity in Japan, however, comes a series of studies understanding the importance of inflammation in type 1 diabetes and showing the importance of making the right choices in food and drink to avoid periodontal infections in both type 1's and type 2's.

In the most recent study, the research team of Dr. Yoshihiro Shimazaki and his colleagues found that people with advanced periodontal disease tended to consume fewer lactic-acid rich foods than people with healthy gums.

Lactic acid foods include yogurt, yogurt drinks, buttermilk, leban, koumiss, cottage cheese, sauerkraut, wheat beers, rye bread, and sourdough bread, especially sourdough rye. When the Japanese researchers made allowances for age, gender, frequency of brushing teeth, use of floss, smoking, alcohol intake, high cholesterol, and diabetes, they found that exposing the gums to probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus seemed to discourage the growth of tissue-damaging germs in the gums.

The gums were protected by eating the equivalent of a quarter-cup (about 60 g) of yogurt a day. Consuming milk and cheese did not protect against gum disease.

Earlier releases of this ongoing study also found that people who drink more than 1 oz of alcohol a day (the amount of alcohol in a jigger of whiskey or a tall beer) run about a 3-fold greater risk of developing advanced periodontal disease. Moreover, people with pockets of gum infection deeper than 2 mm (a little less than one-tenth of an inch) were 60 per cent more likely to develop irregularities of heart rhythm on EKG suggesting heart disease.

And a study at the University of Michigan also found that gum disease can aggravate diabetes, although the link is easy to break. People who experience pain with eating tend to eat soft foods, such as potatoes, puddings, ice cream, and white bread, and to get their calories from fruit juices, milk, and cola. The added glycemic burden makes it harder to control blood sugars.

Similarly bad results have been found from eating dark chocolate. Although there are many conditions that may benefit from the antioxidants abundant in dark chocolate, gingivitis isn't one of them. Studies of chocolate factory workers who eat on the job have found that 75 per cent have gum disease.

You may also be interested in:

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?



Citation:

Shimazaki Y, Shirota T, Uchida K, Yonemoto K, Kiyohara Y, Iida M, Saito T, Yamashita Y. Intake of dairy products and periodontal disease: the Hisayama Study. J Periodontol. 2008 Jan;79(1).