September 18, 2017

438 Nutrients for Mental Health

One in five Canadian adults are on a prescription drug for a mental health problem. The most common – depression, anxiety and insomnia – frequently occur together. Nutritional supplements can greatly benefit people with these mental health issues. The protocol varies slightly depending on whether they are on a prescription or not.

For those already on a mental health prescription, the following have proven beneficial and completely safe:
• Fish oil with high EPA (e.g. 1000 EPA, 200 DHA)
• Vitamin D 2,000 IU (more if blood levels low)
• Good multi or B complex with bioactive form of B vitamins
• Melatonin (adjust to individual need)

For those not on prescription meds, use the same fish oil and vitamin D with these additional natural products:
• Melatonin or an herbal/nutrient sleep aid
• Anti-stress and mood elevating formulas that may include: bioactive B vitamins, choline, & inositol; amino acids L-theanine, L-tryptophan, PABA, 5-HTP, GABA, & SAMe; and botanicals like ashwagandha, valerian, passionflower, rhodiola & holy basil.

Be cautious with herbs if you are taking a prescription drug as they can affect the rate of drug processing by the liver and change the drug’s effective potency.

The ratio of EPA to DHA in fish oil is critical. For almost all situations, oils with higher EPA (at least 2:1) work better, especially for mood. Oils with higher DHA have been shown to worsen mood and aggression. This holds for children with ADD – the high EPA formulas help; the high DHA ones do not, and could worsen symptoms.

Omega 3 fish oil is often under-supplemented. At low doses (250-900 mg total EPA+DHA) it is has been shown to reduce the risk of sudden coronary death. But at higher doses (2,000-4,000 mg) it also reduces risk of non-fatal coronary events (angina); improves blood lipid values (triglycerides & cholesterol); and reduces pain and inflammation (arthritis, etc.). 1000-3000 mg of 2:1 EPA:DHA is ideal for neurodegenerative conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s & MS.

Source: "Mental Health" webinar by Philip Rouchotas MSc, ND, September 11, 2017, sponsored by New Roots Herbal

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

September 11, 2017

437 Astaxanthin Review [11 Sept 2017]

I first wrote about astaxanthin in May 2011 [#115] and mentioned it again as a supplement for supporting eye health in July 2013 [#224].

Then this morning Donna’s cousin Joe shared the link to a 2014 review of the benefits of astaxanthin in the MDPI journal Marine Drugs. He has been using astaxanthin as part of his recovery protocol from stage 4 prostate cancer. In Joe’s words “without this supplement I could not function…I would literally be bedridden without it.”

I have been taking it myself, along with several other vision support supplements, to prevent macular degeneration.

The review reported that astaxanthin:
• is a carotenoid from marine phytoplankton which gives salmon and flamingos their pink color;
• increases its absorption when taken with fish or krill oil;
• is a strong antioxidant and protects lipids and proteins (including DNA) in our cells from oxidative damage;
• increases the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase;
• reduces inflammation in several systems of the body including stomach, lungs and eyes;
• prevents UV skin damage from sunlight;
• protects the pancreas and kidney cells from oxidative stress and improves insulin sensitivity in diabetics;
• is a “potential therapeutic agent against atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease” [link];
• through its antioxidant effect, shows promise in prevention and treatment of cancers;
• shows promise in animal studies of increasing antibody production;
• is safe with no side effects reported at up to 20mg per day for adults [I’m taking 8mg].

The authors conclude “Astaxanthin showed potential effects on various diseases including cancers, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, liver, neurodegenerative, and skin diseases.” They call for more research on the metabolic pathways of neutraceutical and pharmaceutical uses. But we don’t have to wait – we can start taking advantage of astaxanthin’s many health benefits today.

Further reading: Life Extension article on astaxanthin immune support

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

September 4, 2017

436 Natural Treatments for Sepsis [4 Sept 2017]

Sepsis is a potentially fatal inflammatory immune reaction to a bacterial infection in the blood. It can lead to multiple organ damage, failure, and ultimately death.

In developing countries sepsis is the leading cause of infant mortality, killing one million infants worldwide each year. Even in the USA, sepsis occurs in 1 million people annually, commonly acquired in a hospital, and mortality is close to 50%. Sepsis kills more Americans than breast cancer, colon cancer and AIDS combined. Fortunately two effective natural treatments have been recently discovered.

Feeding probiotics to healthy babies was found to dramatically reduce the risk of developing sepsis. A randomized controlled trial in rural India, where infant mortality from sepsis is common, was carried out with a strain of Lactobacillus plantarum. Cases of sepsis dropped from 9% to 5.4%, a 40% reduction. Other infections were reduced as well. The treatment worked so well the researchers stopped the study early so that all the infants could benefit. The treatment costs about $1.00 per baby.

In contrast to the $1 treatment, hospital treatments for sepsis cost Americans over $24 billion annually. But that could soon change. Dr Paul Marik of the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in East Virginia discovered an inexpensive and effective treatment for sepsis – intravenous vitamin C. In a clinical study the vitamin C, combined with a cortisone drug and thiamine (a B vitamin), reduced mortality from 40% to 8.5% (and the few that died did so of their original condition, not sepsis).

Malik’s hospital has already made this vitamin C protocol the standard treatment for sepsis and many hospitals are following. A large scale field trial is underway to validate the findings, opening the door for more widespread adoption of the treatment. Since there are no other effective treatments and no negative side effects from this inexpensive protocol, there is really no good reason not to.

It is my hope that the proven success of intravenous vitamin C for sepsis will encourage researchers to take another look at its use in treating other infectious diseases like influenza, encephalitis and polio, and certain cancers, where intravenous vitamin C has shown great promise but remains controversial.

Mercola newsletter: Probiotics Offer Powerful Protection Against Sepsis in Infants 28 Aug 2017
NPR Report: Probiotic Bacteria Could Protect Newborns from Deadly Infections 16 August 2017
Dr Paul Marik's study in CHEST June 2017
Dr Paul Marik lecture "CCR17 for Sepsis" (34 minutes) - fairly technical, aimed at medical scientist audience but contains useful info
NPR Report "Doctor Turns Up Possible Treatment for Deadly Sepsis" 23 March 2017

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

August 28, 2017

435 Activated Charcoal [28 August 2017]

Activated charcoal has a long history of medicinal use. Charcoal is almost pure carbon, resulting from the burning of wood, bone, coal or other organic material such as coconut shells in the absence of oxygen. Activated carbon has been treated to increase the surface area of the carbon, maximizing its absorption.

Carbon is commonly used in water filters to remove impurities and toxins including metals. Charcoal is also used internally as a supplement and externally as a poultice. There is an entire book on the topic “The Complete Handbook of Medicinal Charcoal and Its Applications” available from
Some of the uses of activated charcoal are:

• Taken as an emergency poison treatment [call the poison control centre before using as it does not work on all poisons]
• Taken in large doses between meals as a body cleanse and detox program
• Used in the treatment of Candida albicans infections to slow growth of intestinal yeast and to absorb the toxins released during the die-off stage (Herxheimer reaction)
• Used with chronic kidney disease to reduce the load of waste products to filter
• Quickly reduces acid indigestion by neutralizing stomach acid
• Counters food poisoning so is useful when travelling to prevent diarrhea
• Reduces flatulence by absorbing intestinal gas
• Charcoal is one of the ingredients in Colic Calm gripe water for babies
• Taken both internally and externally (in warm water soak) to relieve gout
• Used topically for spider & insect bites, severe acne, diabetic ulcers

Some cautions are necessary in taking activated charcoal. Take the charcoal two hours away from medications as it will reduce their efficacy. Do not use for long periods of time as it also reduces absorption of nutrients from your food and supplements. Drink extra water when using charcoal as it absorbs water from the intestines and can cause constipation.

I sell activated charcoal in capsule form and can get it in bulk powder. The powder is mixed in a glass of water – it looks awful but has no taste.

Source: "Is activated Charcoal Beneficial?" 10 July 2017

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

August 21, 2017

434 Collagen & Our Skin [21 August 2017]

I wrote about the benefits of collagen supplements back in February of this year [#406] for strong and healthy skin, bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage and ligaments. This week I want to concentrate on just one of these – skin health.

As we age the collagen matrix in the dermis of our skin becomes damaged, fragmented, and less dense. The result is dry, inelastic skin with … (gasp!) wrinkles! Introducing small collagen peptides in the blood stimulates the fibroblast cells to synthesize and reorganize new collagen fibers and to produce hyaluronic acid [see #015 June 2009]. This increases the density, strength and elasticity of the skin making it look and feel younger.

Two clinical studies done in 2008, in Tokyo Japan and in Lyon France, measured the effects of oral collagen supplementation on skin properties. Both studies used 10 grams daily of Peptan™, a hydrolyzed collagen made by Rousselot in France. The studies found that after 8 to 12 weeks Peptan™:
• increased skin hydration by 28%
• improved skin smoothness by reducing the number of micro-relief furrows by 26%
• prevented the formation of deep wrinkles, and
• improved skin suppleness 19%

Until recently the collagen I sold in my store was bovine (from cattle). I now have marine (fish source) collagen as well. Peptan™ marine collagen is made from the bones, scales and fins of North Atlantic tilapia. The peptides in Peptan™ are very small (9 times smaller than most on the market) and are therefore much more readily absorbed. Fortunately, marine collage has no fishy taste or odour.

Like bovine collagen, marine collagen is a Type 1 collagen which is essential for healthy skin, hair, nails, tendons and bones. Marine collagen has an amino acid profile that makes it especially beneficial for the skin while bovine collagen is slightly better for bones, tendons and cartilage.

So if you want smooth, firm younger-looking skin (and who doesn’t?), feed it fish collagen peptides!

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

August 14, 2017

433 The Low-Lectin Diet [14 August 2017]

After looking at last week’s list of all the things that lectins do to us you might suspect that everyone would benefit from a low lectin diet. And you would be right. But I don’t recommend a low-lectin diet for everyone for two reasons: 1) it eliminates many very nutritious foods, and 2) since lectins are in almost all plant foods and some animal foods it is very difficult to follow a low-lectin diet. But there are some people for whom it would be worth trying:

• Food allergies - if you have one or more severe food allergies, it could be the lectins that are the culprit
• Celiac disease or gluten intolerance – if you follow a gluten free diet but still have some symptoms, other lectins may be involved
• Auto-immune diseases – the potential benefits are huge for sufferers of these conditions so it is worth considering a low-lectin trial

There are three phases to a low-lectin diet:

1. Healing Phase: eat only foods from the low-lectin list until your symptoms clear. This may take a few weeks, months, or even a year.
2. Experimental Phase: add foods from the moderate list, a few at a time, eating in moderation those you can tolerate and eliminating any that cause symptoms to recur. Then see if you can tolerate the occasional high lectin food.
3. Maintenance Phase: Follow your customized diet for as long as you want to stay healthy and symptom free, reintroducing foods as your health improves.

Besides avoiding the high lectin foods completely, there are a few strategies we can all use to reduce the lectin content of foods.

• Peel and remove seeds of high lectin foods like tomatoes and peppers – lectins are concentrated in the skins, root hairs and seeds
• soak beans and legumes for 8 hours, changing water every 2 hours
• cook beans with a pressure cooker – the higher heat destroys more lectins
• sprout grains and seeds – sprouting reduces the lectins in the seed coat
• white rice is safer albeit not as nutritious as brown rice
• take a lectin-blocking supplement with each meal

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

August 7, 2017

432 What Lectins Do [7 August 2017]

Lectins are proteins in plants designed to protect them from being eaten. Gluten is the best known lectin, but there are hundreds of them found in most plants, including many that we humans use for food. Lectins are not broken down in digestion and only partially destroyed by cooking.

In #430 I explained how lectins cause leaky gut syndrome which leads to inflammation and auto-immune diseases. But that’s not all they do. Lectins also:

• bind to the epithelial cells in the lining of the gut and damage the microvilli where nutrient absorption occurs. This significantly interferes with the absorption of nutrients, especially protein, and can lead to loss of muscle mass.
• bind to the surface of beneficial bacteria in our gut, wiping them out while allowing pathogenic bacteria to proliferate
• interfere with the digestive enzymes in the gut preventing proper digestion of food
• bind to glycoproteins on the surface of cells throughout the body including joints, brain, liver, heart, kidneys; the immune system responds by attacking the organs and tissues affected leading to a variety of auto-immune diseases
• create hyper-sensitivity to foods leading to food allergies; people have found that after being on a low-lectin diet for a year or so their food allergies improve or disappear
• stimulate the release of histamine from mast cells causing an inflammatory response
• suppress the production of T and B lymphocytes reducing the immune system’s ability to protect us from foreign invaders
• cause blood cells to stick together destroying the blood cells and causing blood clots
• block the satiety hormone leptin, resulting in food cravings, over-eating, and obesity [see #327 Leptin Resistance]
• interfere with the body’s ability to regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.
• cause enlargement of the pancreas and atrophy of the thymus
• bind to neurons damaging the nervous system including eyesight
• interfere with the cell nucleus preventing normal reproduction of the cell and accelerating the aging process
• in summary, contribute to most of the chronic conditions that plague mankind!

Gregory Barton, Cure Your Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disease, 2010
Evelyn Carmichael, The Essential Handbook to Lectin, 2017

Next week: who would most benefit from a low lectin diet.

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