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.

April 2, 2018

465 Black Seed Oil [2 April 2018]

Black Seed is a desert plant Nigella sativa, related to cumin (essential for tasty chili!). It has a long tradition of medicinal use in Egypt and India. Muhammad said of black seed that “it cures all diseases except death itself”. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, black seed has been shown to benefit our health in many ways.

Of the many beneficial compounds found in black seed, thymoquinone (TQ) is probably the most important. TQ:
• Acts as a bronchodilator which provides relief for many lung conditions including asthma, COPD and emphysema;
• Relaxes smooth muscle lowering high blood pressure and relieving arterial spasms;
• Relieves spasms of the digestive tract from the esophagus to the colon;
• Protects the brain and heart from oxidative damage (our two most valuable organs!);
• Improves mitochondrial function in the muscle cells of the heart and in the brain;
• Supports liver, gallbladder and kidney function by preserving intracellular glutathione;
• Improves the outcome and reduces toxicity of chemotherapy in cancer treatment.

A related compound found in black seed is thymohydroquinone (THQ). THQ increases the time that the neurotransmitter acetylcholine remains active in the brain (drugs designed for this function are used in the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions including autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s).

A third compound, Thymol (also found in thyme and oregano), has strong anti-viral properties. It is commonly used in treating tuberculosis.

TQ, THQ, and thymol, along with other beneficial compounds in black seed:
• show promise in fighting antibiotic-resistant pathogens including MRSA;
improve glucose levels in Type 2 Diabetes as well as Metformin but with low toxicity;
• reverse hair loss by strengthening hair roots;
• improve skin conditions such as eczema with black seed cream.

Natural health advocate Cass Ingram, author of The Black Seed Miracle, recommends starting black seed while you are still healthy to prevent illness. With daily use (it’s a food after all!), black seed will support the health of your brain, heart, blood vessels, lungs, liver, kidneys, digestive system, immune system, and more. It is available in liquid oil and capsules.

Sources and links to more information:
Cass Ingram, interview with Dr. Ward Bond
Dr Josh Axe Black Seed Oil Benefits
GreenMedInfo.com The Remedy for Everything but Death
Dr Joseph Mercola Black Cumin Seed Benefits
Self-Hacked Top 28 Scientific Benefits of Nigella sativa

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

March 26, 2018

464 Heart Health Protocol [26 March 2018]

A recent webinar by Dr. Philip Rouchotas, a naturopathic doctor practicing in Bolton, Ontario, described his protocol for heart health. This would be particularly beneficial for someone who has had a heart attack or been diagnosed with heart disease.

The base of the protocol is the Mediterranean Diet, with minor modifications. The landmark study published in 1999 found an amazing 56% reduction in all-cause mortality over 4 years compared to the diet recommended at the time by the American Heart Association. It contains plenty of vegetables and fruit, plus olive oil (2 tablespoons per day), and nuts (¼ to ½ cup per day of almonds, walnuts, pistachios). For meat it recommends fish frequently, poultry in moderation, and red meat occasionally.

Exercise: at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like walking) 5 times per week. A meta-analysis found that for people with heart disease, exercise reduced all-cause mortality by 24%, along with many other benefits.

Fish oil: 1,000 to 2,000 mg of omega 3 (EPA + DHA) daily. A large study from Italy published in Lancet in 1999 found that in heart attack survivors, 850 mg of omega 3 reduced sudden coronary death by 45% and all-cause mortality by 25%. A 2006 Japanese study found that 1800 mg worked even better.

CoQ10: 200 – 300 mg daily, divided. CoQ10 supports the mitochondria which create the energy which powers our muscles (and the heart is our most important muscle!). A large study in 2014 found that over 2 years 300mg of CoQ10 reduced cardiovascular deaths by 43% and all-cause mortality by 42%. A 2007 meta-analysis found that CoQ10 lowered systolic blood pressure by 16.6 and diastolic by 8.2, making CoQ10 the single most important supplement for blood pressure.

N-Acetyl-Carnitine: 1500-2000 mg daily, divided. This form of the amino acid carnitine also supports our mitochondria. Many human trials show benefits for cardiovascular health including faster healing from a heart attack and improved heart function.

Plant sterols: 1500-2000 mg daily, divided. A meta-analysis found that plant sterols reduced LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) by 10-14%, almost half of the 30% reduction expected from prescription statin drugs.

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

March 19, 2018

463 Quercetin [19 March 2018]

Quercetin is a plant pigment (which give color to plants) in the flavonoid family. As a food ingredient, and as a supplement, quercetin has many benefits for our health.

An important benefit of quercetin is its antiviral properties. Animal and clinical studies have shown that quercetin inhibits many viruses, including rhino-viruses, influenza A and B, herpes simplex type 1, hepatitis B and C, and others, preventing replication and transmission. When used with antiviral drugs, quercetin increased the drugs’ effectiveness. Quercetin also lowered the risk of secondary bacterial infections (the primary cause of influenza deaths) and has shown antibacterial effects on Staph infections. There is some concern however that quercetin may reduce the effectiveness of some anti-bacterial antibiotics.

Another important benefit is quercetin’s anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine effects which reduce symptoms in allergic conditions like rhinitis and bronchial asthma. Quercetin decreases production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, thus reducing inflammation in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

In addition, quercetin is a potent antioxidant, protecting cell membranes and DNA from free radical damage, especially important for smokers. Quercetin protects the liver from toxic stress by increasing glutathione production.

Good food sources of quercetin include: onions, broccoli, green tea, berries, pomegranates, and red wine. It also occurs in some medicinal herbs: ginkgo biloba, St. John’s Wort, and especially in elderberries (which have known anti-viral properties).

Some cautions – quercetin may slow the breakdown of certain medications in the liver, effectively increasing the dose. If you are taking antibiotics or any prescription drugs, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first before taking quercetin supplements. There is also a possibility of kidney damage with very high doses of quercetin. Quercetin may affect thyroid function. For these reasons it is advised to avoid high doses for a prolonged time.

In summary, consider taking quercetin for allergies, colds and flu (prevention and treatment), arthritic pain and inflammation, and for cell protection from smoking and environmental toxins. Follow directions on the bottle.

Mercola: Quercetin - a Far Better Flu Remedy than Tamiflu - Feb 26, 2018
Learn About Quercetin's Possible Benefits for Your Health - undated
Self-Hacked: 22 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Quercetin - updated January 18, 2018
WebMD: Quercetin
Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response, Molecules, May 2016

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

March 12, 2018

462 Upstream [12 March 2018]

Now that Ryan Meili is the new Leader of the Opposition in Saskatchewan, let’s take another look at his 2018 book “A Healthy Society”. I briefly discussed the social determinants of health on which the book is based in my Feb 5 column [#457 Determinants of Health”].

To illustrate the idea of looking deeper for root causes of poor health, Meilli quotes the parable of the river:
A flailing, drowning child comes floating down toward you. Brave soul that you are, you dive in and rescue it. Before you can dry off and recover, another child appears, so you dive in again and bring her safely to shore. A curious crowd has gathered by now. Another child bobs into sight, and another, and another. People take turns fishing them out. Eventually, someone will ask the pertinent question: Who keeps chucking these kids into the water? And hopefully, someone will head upstream to find out.
The analogy to health care is clear. While we must continue to treat people with cancer, diabetes, and other chronic and infectious diseases, some resources must be allocated to learning and at least slowing their causes or we’ll never catch up. Educational campaigns asking people to stop smoking, reduce sugar, or exercise more aren’t enough. The root cause is much deeper.

In the natural health field we like to think we deal with the causes of disease rather than just treat the symptoms. We look at nutritional deficiencies; genetic differences (called polymorphisms) which may require increased intake or a special form of a nutrient; inadequate exercise; specific food allergies or sensitivities; excess intake of certain food groups; exposure to unhealthy chemicals in our food, water, air and home & beauty products; exposure to electromagnetic fields; unhealthy gut bacteria; and so on. But fixing most of these are beyond the budget (or time or expertise) of many Rosetown residents (and some are beyond mine).

As Meili argues in his book, the root cause of most disease is poverty. And until we muster the public will to tackle that, we will have to keep on fishing the kids out of the river as best we can.

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