May 21, 2018

472 Preserving Muscle [21 May 2018]

A few weeks ago [#470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly] I mentioned several supplements that help preserve or rebuild muscle in the elderly. Let’s take a closer look at these.

The first is protein powder. Whey works best and is fine for nearly everyone even those with dairy issues. A whey protein will increase muscle, improve liver and kidney function, and increase white blood cell and lymphocyte count (reducing colds and flu infections by half).

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are special amino acids that do not require processing in the liver so can be used without stressing the liver or kidneys. They are particularly beneficial in preventing muscle loss in elderly or ill people and in enhancing healing of injuries including burns. BCAAs are available in tablet or powder form.

We usually think of creatine as a supplement for athletes and body builders but it is also beneficial for maintaining muscle in the elderly. Dr. Philip Rouchotas believes everyone over 70 should be supplementing with creatine daily. It will even prevent muscle atrophy in a limb that is in a cast from a fracture. Creatine is especially beneficial for neurodegenerative diseases. It will slow the progression and improve survival in ALS, and in Parkinson’s will improve upper body strength, improve mood, and most significantly slow the requirement for increasing doses of dopamine. A low dose of 2.5 g per day is perfectly safe for the kidneys.

Exercise, both aerobic and resistance, is essential in building and maintaining muscle, but without the above nutrients will not be nearly as effective. In one study adding whey protein doubled the amount of muscle gain from resisted exercise. Exercise of course has many other benefits which I have previously discussed including cancer prevention [#361] and increased life expectancy [#420].

But building muscle is only half the equation of strength. The other half is energy, which is produced in the mitochondria of our cells. B vitamins (or a good multi), coenzyme Q10, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine will all improve energy in the elderly; see my articles on mitochondria for more on these.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

May 14, 2018

471 The Mediterranean Diet [14 May 2018]

In two recent articles [#464 Heart Health Protocol and #470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly] I mentioned that the Mediterranean Diet is the basis of the protocols recommended by Dr. Philip Rouchotas ND of the Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario. Let’s examine it more closely this week.

While potential benefits of what came to be known as the Mediterranean Diet (MD) were reported in the 1960s and 70s, it was the Lyon Diet Heart Study, published in 1999, that brought it widespread recognition. This study followed 605 people with existing heart disease for 4 years, comparing the Mediterranean Diet with the American Heart Association’s then-recommended STEP 1 diet. The MD group had 56% lower risk of all cause death and 67% reduction in risk of cardiovascular-related complications. In comparison, beta blocker drugs reduce all-cause mortality by 22% and fish oil by 25%.

Surprisingly it wasn’t until 2013 that the Mediterranean Diet was tested for prevention of cardiovascular disease in the general population. This study published in the New England J of Med in 2013, followed 7,447 people randomized to two variations of the Mediterranean Diet and a control for 5 years. The MD groups had 28% and 30% lower risk of major cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke).

So what is the Mediterranean Diet? It is usually shown in the form of a pyramid (click here or drop in and ask me for a printed copy). At the base is physical activity and enjoyment of food with others – a great start!

Next is plant foods. Daily, each meal should be based around a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. Olive oil and nuts are an important source of fats.

The third step is fish and seafood to be eaten often, at least twice a week.

Fourth is poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt, in moderate portions, daily to weekly.

Finally, at the top is red meat and sweets, to be used sparingly.

Drinking sufficient water is important. Wine is allowed in moderation.

The Mediterranean Diet is very general, so can be customized to your family’s tastes and preferences. In my opinion the significant lessons are: eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains and seeds; replace most red meat with fish and seafood; and restrict sugar and other refined carbs.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

May 7, 2018

470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly [7 May 2018]

In a recent webinar Dr. Philip Rouchotas ND of the Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario, shared his nutritional protocol for his elderly patients, especially those with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, MS, and Parkinson’s, and those with mild cognitive impairment or traumatic brain injury. He believes most people over 60, and everyone over 70, will experience rapid and significant benefits from this program.

The base of the program is the Mediterranean Diet (more on this another week) along with physical exercise (aerobic and resistance) and mental exercise (chess, bridge, video games).

Step 1 deals with nutritional deficiencies which are “epidemic” among North American seniors for three main reasons: loss of appetite (they eat less); change in appetite (they prefer saltier, fattier, less nutrient-dense foods); and digestive impairment (they absorb fewer nutrients). Step 1 supplements:
• A good multivitamin with trace minerals and activated B’s
• Whey protein (30g) – prevents muscle loss; halves number of viral infections (colds)
• Creatine (2.5g) – prevents muscle loss (even while in a cast); with Parkinson’s slows requirement for increasing dopamine dose
• Fish Oil (1000-2000mg total EPA + DHA) – a 2:1 ratio works best

After a few months on Step 1 the elderly should have regained some strength and be ready to add a few more products from Step 2 to further improve their health:
• CoQ10 (100mg x2) – improves mitochondrial function, increases energy for muscle and brain function
• Acetyl-L-Carnitine (2g) – cofactor in mitochondria, necessary for burning fat for energy; doubles survival time in ALS patients
• Melatonin (as needed up to 20mg) – nerve cell antioxidant, benefits elderly even if sleep is not an issue
• Ginkgo biloba (120-240mg) – use if meds allow (blood thinners are a contraindication); improves cerebrovascular function (blood flow to the brain)
• Lion’s Mane (1g x2) – prevents cognitive impairment due to amyloid beta plaque; improves brain function in Mild Cognitive Impairment

I appreciate that Dr. Rouchotas’ protocols are backed with multiple human (not just animal) placebo-controlled studies so we can be confident in their safety and effectiveness. I plan to write more about some of these products in future articles.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. Find this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.

April 30, 2018

469 CFS – the Cover-Up [30 April 2018]

Last week I explained how Dr. Judy Mikovits discovered a likely viral cause for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and I hinted at a cover-up. What happened and why?

Shortly after the publication of her 2009 Science paper, Dr. Mikovits turned her attention to autism. She became curious about a possible connection between CFS and autism when her preliminary data found a higher than expected number of children with autism among CFS patients and families. She speculated (publicly) that if children were asymptomatic carriers of the XMRV virus, a vaccination could trigger the sudden development of the disease. Retroviruses like to hide in the B and T lymphocytes, the very cells that vaccinations are designed to stimulate. This effect is well known for the HIV virus – babies born to HIV positive mothers must be treated with anti-viral drugs before their first vaccination.

In September 2011 Mikovits was suddenly fired from her position as Research Director at Whittemore Peterson Institute. A few weeks later she was arrested and her home searched (without a warrant), accused of stealing her research notebooks (which she was required by federal law to maintain and protect). She was held for five days in jail without bail or a formal charge ever being laid.

The Science study was retracted in September 2011 and an editorial was published discrediting her work (which included the police mugshot from her arrest). The CDC quickly initiated a follow-up study to confirm her findings. Mikovits protested that it was deliberately designed – in choice of subjects, handling of blood samples, and in the narrow control standard – to avoid finding a retrovirus in CFS patients. The best way to test for contamination would be to retest the same patients using her meticulous methodology, but this was not done. She was disappointed but not surprised when the studies found no correlation and concluded (erroneously she believes) that her previous study samples were contaminated. Another study had already confirmed her findings but it too was discredited and later retracted.

This raises the question: why would research institutions not want to find a viral cause of CFS? Possibly fear of public panic or class action lawsuits. But I suspect the reason is that it offers a plausible explanation for the connection between vaccinations and autism. What happened to Dr. Mikovits was, in her own words, “… a clear message to anyone in research who dared stand by data that revealed an inconvenient truth about corruption in public health.”


Book: Plague – One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases. Kent Heckenlively and Judy Mikovits, 2014

Hillary Johnson, Discover magazine March 2013 Chasing the Shadow Virus

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

April 23, 2018

468 A Viral Cause for CFS? [23 Apr 2018]

Last week I described chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and wrote that officially there is no known cause or cure. But is that true?

In their 2014 book Plague – One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases, Kent Heckenlively and Judy Mikovits tell the story of the discovery and cover-up of a possible cause (and cure) for chronic fatigue syndrome.

In 2006 Judy Mikovits, a virus research scientist with 30 years’ experience in studying HIV/AIDS, accepted a position in Nevada to study chronic fatigue syndrome. She immediately noticed several similarities between CFS and AIDS and began to suspect a viral cause. In both diseases an impaired immune system allows a wide variety of “opportunistic” infections; both have a high incidence of normally rare cancers; and both show abnormal brain scans and have similar biomarkers such as high cytokine production. Mikovits discovered a retrovirus infection in 67% of CFS sufferers and in 4% of healthy controls. She published her findings in 2009 in the prestigious journal Science.

This particular virus, called XMRV, is a mouse retrovirus, meaning that it originated in mice but had mutated and could now infect humans. XMRV had been associated with prostate cancer since 2006 (but has since been dismissed as a causative factor). The first CFS outbreak in the USA occurred in 1934-5 among the doctors and staff of the Los Angeles County Hospital after receiving a polio vaccine grown on mouse tissue. In the late 1970’s and early ’80’s pockets of CFS began showing up in cities across the country and then around the world. Today an estimated 20 million people world-wide suffer from the condition.

Patients and their families were hopeful that this discovery would lead to a cure or at least a more effective treatment. Alas this was not to be. For various reasons (to be covered next week) the medical research community turned on Mikovits, discredited her and her research, and reverted to the “no known cause” for CFS. The situation has not changed since, leaving at least one more generation of CFS patients to suffer needlessly.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

April 16, 2018

467 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome [16 Apr 2018]

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a complex disorder involving extreme fatigue. There is no definitive test for CFS – it is diagnosed by eliminating all other possible causes.

CFS can be very debilitating. One researcher compared it to end stage AIDS or advanced cancer, except that the victims can survive for years or even decades. Because they don’t die as quickly as in AIDS or cancer (and they have no energy to promote their cause), CFS research has not received the same attention. The majority of victims are female which may contribute to the dismissal of CFS by many government health organizations as psychological (“all in your head”).

The main symptoms and signs of CFS include:
• Extreme fatigue which does not improve with rest
• Even mild exercise worsens fatigue for more than 24 hours
• Brain fog – loss of memory and/or concentration
• Poor sleep quality
• Muscle and joint pain; headaches

Some characteristics of CFS that suggest an infectious not psychological cause:
• It appeared suddenly in the late 1970s, previously unrecorded
• Appears in clusters at different locations and times
• Sore throat and enlarged lymph nodes
• Opportunistic infections indicating an impaired immune system
• Much higher than normal incidence of certain rare cancers
• Abnormal brain scans resembling AIDS related dementia

CFS is much more widespread than one would expect given its low priority for research. Hillary Johnson writes “ME is now the most common chronic disease most people have never heard of until they acquire it.” CFS affects an estimated 20 million world-wide with more than 2 million in the USA (more than breast and lung cancer, AIDS, and MS combined).

The cause of CFS is officially “unknown”; a combination of factors is suspected possibly including genetic, viral/microbial, social and psychological. There is no known cure; treatment focuses on symptom relief.

Next week: XMRV – the cause of CFS?

Mayo Clinic website
Health Canada website
book Plague – One Scientist’s Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases. Kent Heckenlively and Judy Mikovits, 2014

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

April 9, 2018

466 Live Longer with K2 [9 Apr 2018]

In the heart health protocol discussed in #464 last month, an important nutrient was left out – vitamin K2.

I previously described the importance of K2 for moving calcium into the bone instead of our arteries and joints, thus preventing both osteoporosis and arterial calcification. Everyone taking a calcium supplement should be taking vitamin K2 and vitamin D (better calcium supplements have both included in the formula). But recent research is finding that vitamin K does more – it also reduces our risk of diabetes and certain cancers, helping us to live longer.

A 2014 study published in J Nutr of over 7,000 adults over 4-5 years concluded “An increase in dietary intake of vitamin K is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular [57%], cancer [28%], or all-cause [26%] mortality in a Mediterranean population at high cardiovascular disease risk.”

Both vitamins K1 and K2 have been found to reduce the risk of diabetes. The K2 dependent protein osteocalcin, which moves calcium into the bones, also increases insulin sensitivity. One study found that K2 reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by7% for each 10 mcg increased intake.

Recent research has found vitamin K2 strongly protects against liver, prostate and colon cancer. Vitamin K2 induces cancer cell death in several ways and suppresses tumor growth. In a 2006 study of liver cancer patients, 45 mcg daily of vitamin K2 after 3 years reduced the recurrence rate from 91% to 64% and increased the survival rate from 64% to 87%, compared to the control group.

Back in June 2015 [#323] I showed that taking statin drugs for lowering cholesterol also inhibits the synthesis of vitamin K2. I just learned that some anticoagulant drugs such as Coumadin (Warfarin) also inhibit the action of K2, resulting in increased calcification of arteries. Adding a low dose of K2 to the program – under your doctor’s supervision – may reduce this side effect while maintaining the anticoagulant effect. Your doctor will need to adjust the dosage of the drug to compensate.

Vitamin K2 will not only keep your bones strong and your arteries clean but will protect you from diabetes and cancer, helping you live a longer healthier life.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.