Saturday, October 31, 2015

Is Beano Safe?

A question that comes up occasionally about the digestive aid Beano is, "Is it safe to use it?"

Beano is a preparation delivering a tiny dosage of a human digestive enzyme (made by bacteria which are killed in the manufacturing process) alpha-galactosidase.

In studies of children who need alpha-galactosidase as a mediation (for Fabry disease), about 1 in 20 develops an almost undetectably mild allergy to Beano in the course of 3 years. People with Fabry disease, however, take vastly more alpha-galactosidase than the average person who takes Beano to avoid gassiness from eating beans or vegetables.

There's no evidence Beano causes problems during pregnancy or nursing, but because it has never been tested for safety in expectant or nursing mothers, the manufacturer recommends they not use it. For almost everyone else, there should be very few problems even with very long use.

Is there a natural alternative to Beano?

If the question is whether there is a natural alternative for relieving gas that is as convenient as Beano, the answer is no. But if you plan ahead, the Mexican herb epazote, available in specialty markets in small packages as a whole herb, is probably as useful for preventing gas.

With an intense flavor I describe as a cross between fennel and tarragon, epazote is used in 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon additions to flavor beans, eggs, cheese dishes, moles, and soups. Epazote grown in Mexico is milder than the same herb grown in China or Southeast Asia. It acts in much the same way as the European herb boldo.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Is it possible to develop an allergy to Beano?
A. Yes, most people who take Beano develop antibiodies to it and eventually will have an "allergy that is not quite an allergy" to the product, if they use it every day. Allergic reactions to Beano, however, are very rare. Just how much using Beano may contribute to other food sensitivities has not been researched.

Q. Will Beano work after getting gas?

A. No, Beano prevents gas rather than treating it. However, if gassiness after eating foods with complex carbohydrates is an ongoing problem, using Beano will prevent future gas.

Q. Can Beano cause diarrhea?

A. I've heard of this, but the individual tried Beano again and didn't have a repeat of the problem. The reason diarrhea would occur probably has to do with nutrients being made more available to bacteria in the colon, so it's likely a combination of Beano and some probiotic yogurt, taking Beano on a trip where you're drinking a different water, etc.

Q. Can I take Beano instead of Lactaid, or Lactaid instead of Beano?

A. No. Beano helps you digest the complex sugars in beans and Lactaid helps you digest different complex sugars in milk. Similarly, Beano won't stop gas caused by eating cheese.

Q. Is Beano safe for diabetics?

A. According to a German food chemist, Udo Pollmer (he doesn't write in English, so I won't give you the link here), anytime you can digest carbohydrates that usually are not digestible you will get more sugar and more calories. He points out in one of his books that a bowl full of fiber (which isn't metabolized by Beano, but which I use as an example) actually releases more sugars than a bowl of ice cream if it is metabolized by gut bacteria. I've never heard of a diabetic having a serious problem after eating Beano, but I wouldn't be surprised if sugars do go up more than usual.

There is one kind of "diabetes" for which Beano would be a problem, galactosemia, but people who have this problem are usually much, much more sensitive to milk than to the foods typically with Beano.

Q. Does Beano work for fruit?

A. Not really well. The reason certain fruits, prunes, for instance, cause gas is they draw water into the colon. The increased "movement" in general releases more gas, faster.

Q. Is Beano safe during pregnancy?

A. There are no reports of problems linked to Beano during pregnancy or nursing, but, of course, nobody has ever run a clinical trial to see if Beano might make pregnant women sick, either (and no one ever will).

Bitter Orange for Weight Loss

Bitter orange is the fruit to help you lose weight. Bitter orange extract, also known as Citrus aurantium extract, is a safe and effective supplement to help its users lose weight safely. The issues with the use of bitter orange peel as an aid to weight loss mostly have to do with its confusion with another herb, ephedra.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Curcumin for Colon Cancer

Over the 20 years I have been writing about and consulting to manufacturers about natural remedies that work, a question that comes up over and over again is the role of curcumin in colon cancer treatment.  There is actually very good reason to take another look at curcumin treatments for colon cancer.

The problem with curcumin has always been that it is difficult for the body to absorb it. Even the lining of the colon itself has difficulty absorbing this herbal antioxidant. The good news is that researchers at Shandong University in China recently invented a new way to combine curcumin with the B-vitamin folic acid to make a product that emulsifies in the colon and is much better absorbed. But before I get into what makes this new form of curcumin exciting and different, let's review what curcumin does for colon cancer.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rye Bread for Weight Loss

A reader of one of my other sites sent in a question about rye bread and weight loss.  "Are there any health benefits of rye bread?" she asked. "Is rye the healthiest bread, or at least a healthier bread? Is rye bread good for diabetics? Does rye bread have gluten?"

When I look in the mirror I have to be flattered that someone respects my intellect enough to ask me about rye bread for weight loss, but the truth is that rye flour makes probably the best whole grain bread.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Three Things I Think I Know About Life After Death

On several occasions I have recounted my experiences leading up to sudden death--seven times--and resuscitation. I experienced comfort and guidance in the form of a series of encounters with my dead father, mother, and finally a crowded room of friendly spirits leading to and during my cardiac arrest. What I haven't revealed until now is where I think I went while my heart was not beating and my brain was dead. And to be honest with you, I am not totally sure I know how much I remember and how much my brain filled in the gaps after the fact--but maybe that isn't really the question.

How Low Is a Low-Carb Diet for Diabetes?

Does the thought of bread fill you with dread? Have you been told that tofu is terrific but taffy is toxic? Is a low-carb diet the only type 2 diabetic diet for you?

Type 2 diabetics are often given dietary advice that is more appropriate for type 1's and for people with MODY. More than other diabetics, type 2's have a need for enough carbohydrate so they can think clearly, stick to their diabetes treatment plans and achieve their goals, leading happy and functional lives as they keep their blood sugar levels well controlled. This article tells you how much carb is enough carb without being too much for managing type 2 diabetes.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Much Protein Is Enough?

The usual answer to the question of how much protein we need is "More, more, more." The truth is, there are both maximum and minimum daily requirements for protein, and getting either too much or too little is problematic for general health. I think it's helpful to consider the question of how much protein in context.

Practical Relief from Pinworms

Back by popular demand, here is my answer to the frequent reader question how do you get rid of pinworms (and, under medical supervision, tapeworms)?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Norwegian Arthritis Diet

How could you be scientifically sure a diet relieved rheumatoid arthritis? The first factor you would want to exclude would be wishful thinking. That is, the diet you test could not be a plan that had ever been described in a book or in a news report.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Natural Remedies for Skin Tags

Many people have the benign tumors of the skin known as skin tags. They seldom become malignant, but they can get caught in zippers and elastic bands, and they are unsightly. Here, from my book Healing without Medication, are some natural approaches to dealing with them.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What's Special About Coffee? Coffee, Green Coffee Bean Extracts, Health, and Weight Loss

What's special about coffee?

There is scientific evidence for an astonishing number of almost-medicinal uses of coffee. Here's a quick review of what is in the scientific literature. Nothing here says coffee is a miracle and  no one needs medicine, but there are many, many conditions for which coffee is very, very helpful.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, OK Carbs

Despite what you may have heard, everything about carbohydrates isn't bad. Glucose, in appropriate amounts, is a “good carb.” The body doesn't just use it for fuel. It also uses it to make essential molecules such as glycosylated proteins—which you may have heard are always bad, but actually aren't—and phospholipids, which line every cell in the body to keep them from dissolving into the watery plasma of the bloodstream. Here are some basic facts about carbohydrates, the good, the bad, and the just OK, that I didn't have room enough to discuss in Healing without Medication.

Acne: Everything You Really Need to Know

There's no topic from Healing without Medication that more readers have sent me more inquiries about than acne. I've received nearly 4,000 questions about acne, and the amazing thing is, about half the time the answer is "Don't try to scrub your acne away." I decided to put the basic information on about acne available for free here, where everyone can access it readily. I'll also be posting some product reviews. I don't sell products, but I do review them, and in ten years working for acne product companies I have learned what works and what doesn't.