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Saturday, November 15, 2014

DEC. 20th ~ UPCOMING EVENT: CATCH-ME-IF-YOU-CAN . . . Do Your Last-Minute Holiday Shopping with Us

I will be vending at this event . . . drop by my table and do your last minutes holiday shopping . . . or to pick up something for yourself: I have custom made (genuine) gemstone jewelry, chakra balancing stones, herbal honey, Sage and other holistic healing supplies.

Get your 33% Discounted 1-Hour Health Consultation 
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for yourself or a Framily member.
{$75 value available at this Event for only $50}

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440 WEST 57th STREET

MENOPAUSE: and The Endocrine System / Herbs to Balance

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I don't know how many of you have access to the Harlem News (which also distributes in The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens: link:, but my article next week will be on the endocrine system, which this Post segues from, since I just this minute finished and submitted it for publication.  Here's my article: 

THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM consists of 7 Glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream, carried to every organ/tissue, to regulate various processes and influences all functions of the body.

In my herb course the endocrine system falls under The Earth Element, and consists of the three Zodiac Earth Signs: Taurus (which rules the Endocrine System), Virgo (which rules the Digestive System) and Capricorn (which rules the Skeletal System). The 7 Glands are the adrenals, gonads, pancreas, thymus, thyroid, pituitary and pineal glands; and not by coincidence, they are integrally tied to the 7 Chakras.

Adaptogen herbs are bests used for the endocrine system, as they provide deep nourishment for your total well-being and more resiliency to stress. They can build, tonify and nourish your system for increased overall health. 

My glandular formula provides natural hormone-like herbs useful for: the change of life, adolescence, maturity, sterility, frigidity, forgetfulness, anemia, general weakness and tiredness. Two parts dong quai, ginseng; one part licorice, black cohosh, sarsaparilla, kelp, ginger, and 1/2 part golden seal and lobelia. Powder and take 2 capsules 3X daily, if debilitated or recovering from illness. If you are in normal health, I would take 2caps first thing in the morning and before retiring.

Below is some additional information and more formulas.

The Endocrine System

Endocrine tonic for menopause

Mix the herbs together. Adjust taste. For each quart of tea use four to six tablespoons of herb mixture. Simmer over a very low heat for twenty minutes. Strain. Drink three to four cups daily for three months or as long as needed. The herbs may be simmered several times before being thrown out. Make a quart of tea each day and drink it throughout the day. It may be refrigerated and drunk cold.

Endocrine tonic capsules for menopause

All herbs must be in powdered form. If possible, buy them already powdered. If not, you can powder them in coffee grinders and/or nut grinders. (But if using your coffee grinder, be forewarned; it will never be good for grinding coffee again. Your coffee will taste like herbs and vice versa). Mix together thoroughly. Put in size "00" empty gelatin capsules (available at natural food stores and pharmacies) or rice paper. Take two capsules three times daily for three months or as long as needed.

Endocrine tonic-calcium formula

Mix herbs together. Put two ounces of the mixture in a wide-mouthed bottle and cover with one pint of good-quality brandy or vodka. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in a shaded, warm area. Let your tincture sit for four to six weeks. Shake once a day to mix herbs and alcohol together. Strain through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Rebottle the herbal liquid. It is now ready for use. Recommended dose: one-fourth teaspoon diluted in tea or juice three times daily for three months or longer.

Menopause high-calcium formula

Mix herbs together and adjust flavors to suit your taste. Use four to six tablespoons per quart of water. Pour boiling water over the herbs and let steep for thirty minutes. Drink two to four cups daily.

High-energy formula for menopause

  • 4 parts sassafras,
  • 2 parts ginkgo leaf,
  • 2 parts gota kola leaf,
  • 1 part dong quai,
  • 1 part ginseng,
  • 1 part cinnamon chips,
  • 1 part ginger,
  • 2 parts licorice,
  • 1/8 part orange peel.
Mix herbs together, reserving the ginkgo and gota kola leaves. Use four tablespoons of the root mixture per quart of water. Simmer over very low heat (with lid on pot) for thirty minutes. Remove from heat and add one teaspoon each of ginkgo and gota kola. Cover pot and let steep for thirty minutes. Strain and drink as desired. The suggested amount is one cup twice daily. You can reuse the herbs for two to three pots of tea before they are depleted.

THE HERB/SPICE: Fight Cystic Fibrosis, Cholesterol, Alzheimers, Cancer Cell Growth and Metastases

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Health Benefits
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.

A Potent, Yet Safe Anti-Inflammatory

The volatile oil fraction of turmeric has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. Even more potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin. Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin's anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Unlike the drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), curcumin produces no toxicity.

An Effective Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Curcumin may provide an inexpensive, well-tolerated, and effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, recent research suggests. In this study, mice given an inflammatory agent that normally induces colitis were protected when curcumin was added to their diet five days beforehand. The mice receiving curcumin not only lost much less weight than the control animals, but when researchers checked their intestinal cell function, all the signs typical of colitis (mucosal ulceration, thickening of the intestinal wall, and the infiltration of inflammatory cells)were all much reduced. While the researchers are not yet sure exactly how curcumin achieves its protective effects, they think its benefits are the result of not only antioxidant activity, but also inhibition of a major cellular inflammatory agent called NF kappa-B. Plus, an important part of the good news reported in this study is the fact that although curcumin has been found to be safe at very large doses, this component of turmeric was effective at a concentration as low as 0.25 per cent—an amount easily supplied by simply enjoying turmeric in flavorful curries.

Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Clinical studies have substantiated that curcumin also exerts very powerful antioxidant effects. As an antioxidant, curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals that can travel through the body and cause great amounts of damage to healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric's combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly. In a recent study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was compared to phenylbutazone and produced comparable improvements in shortened duration of morning stiffness, lengthened walking time, and reduced joint swelling.

Help for Cystic Fibrosis Sufferers

Curcumin, the major constituent of turmeric that gives the spice its yellow color, can correct the most common expression of the genetic defect that is responsible for cystic fibrosis, suggests an animal study published in the Science (April 2004). Cystic fibrosis, a fatal disease that attacks the lungs with a thick mucus, causing life-threatening infections, afflicts about 30,000 American children and young adults, who rarely survive beyond 30 years of age. The mucus also damages the pancreas, thus interfering with the body's ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
Researchers now know that cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations in the gene that encodes for a protein (the transmembrane conductance regulator or CFTR). The CTFR protein is responsible for traveling to the cell's surface and creating channels through which chloride ions can leave the cell. When the protein is abnormally shaped because of a faulty gene, this cannot happen, so chloride builds up in the cells, which in turn, leads to mucus production.

The most common mutation, which is called DeltaF508, results in the production of a misfolded protein. When mice with this DeltaF508 defect were given curcumin in doses that, on a weight-per-weight basis, would be well-tolerated by humans, curcumin corrected this defect, resulting in a DeltaF508 protein with normal appearance and function. In addition, the Yale scientists studying curcumin have shown that it can inhibit the release of calcium, thus allowing mutated CTFR to exit cells via the calcium channels, which also helps stop the chloride-driven build up of mucus. Specialists in the treatment of cystic fibrosis caution, however, that patients should not self-medicate with dietary supplements containing curcumin, until the correct doses are known and any adverse interactions identified with the numerous prescription drugs taken by cystic fibrosis sufferers.

Cancer Prevention

Curcumin's antioxidant actions enable it to protect the colon cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA—a significant benefit particularly in the colon where cell turnover is quite rapid, occuring approximately every three days. Because of their frequent replication, mutations in the DNA of colon cells can result in the formation of cancerous cells much more quickly. Curcumin also helps the body to destroy mutated cancer cells, so they cannot spread through the body and cause more harm. A primary way in which curcumin does so is by enhancing liver function. Additionally, other suggested mechanisms by which it may protect against cancer development include inhibiting the synthesis of a protein thought to be instrumental in tumor formation and preventing the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth.

Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth and Metastases

Epidemiological studies have linked the frequent use of turmeric to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer; laboratory experiments have shown curcumin can prevent tumors from forming; and research conducted at the University of Texas suggests that even when breast cancer is already present, curcumin can help slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs in mice.
In this study, published in Biochemical Pharmacology (September 2005), human breast cancer cells were injected into mice, and the resulting tumors removed to simulate a mastectomy.

The mice were then divided into four groups. One group received no further treatment and served as a control. A second group was given the cancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol); the third got curcumin, and the fourth was given both Taxol and curcumin.

After five weeks, only half the mice in the curcumin-only group and just 22% of those in the curcumin plus Taxol group had evidence of breast cancer that had spread to the lungs.

But 75% of the mice that got Taxol alone and 95% of the control group developed lung tumours.

How did curcumin help? "Curcumin acts against transcription factors, which are like a master switch," said lead researcher, Bharat Aggarwal. "Transcription factors regulate all the genes needed for tumors to form. When we turn them off, we shut down some genes that are involved in the growth and invasion of cancer cells."

In another laboratory study of human non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cells published in Biochemical Pharmacology (September 2005), University of Texas researchers showed that curcumin inhibits the activation of NF-kappaB, a regulatory molecule that signals genes to produce a slew of inflammatory molecules (including TNF, COX-2 and IL-6) that promote cancer cell growth. In addition, curcumin was found to suppress cancer cell proliferation and to induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis (cell suicide) in the lung cancer cells. Early phase I clinical trials at the University of Texas are now also looking into curcumin's chemopreventive and therapeutic properties against multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancer, and other research groups are investigating curcumin's ability to prevent oral cancer.

Turmeric and Onions May Help Prevent Colon Cancer

Curcumin, a phytonutrient found in the curry spice turmeric, and quercitin, an antioxidant in onions, reduce both the size and number of precancerous lesions in the human intestinal tract, shows research published in the August 2006 issue of Clinical Gasteroenterology and Hepatology.

Five patients with an inherited form of precancerous polyps in the lower bowel known as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) were treated with regular doses of curcumin and quercetin over an average of six months. The average number of polyps dropped 60.4%, and the average size of the polyps that did develop dropped by 50.9%.

FAP runs in families and is characterized by the development of hundreds of polyps (colorectal adenomas) and, eventually, colon cancer. Recently, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen) have been used to treat some patients with this condition, but these drugs often produce significant side effects, including gastrointestinal ulcerations and bleeding, according to lead researcher Francis M. Giardiello, M.D., at the Division of Gastroenterology, Johns Hopkins University.

Previous observational studies in populations that consume large amounts of curry, as well as animal research, have strongly suggested that curcumin, one of the main ingredients in Asian curries, might be effective in preventing and/or treating cancer in the lower intestine. Similarly, quercetin, an anti-oxidant flavonoid found in a variety of foods including onions, green tea and red wine, has been shown to inhibit growth of colon cancer cell lines in humans and abnormal colorectal cells in animals.
In this study, a decrease in polyp number was observed in four of five patients at three months and four of four patients at six months.

Each patient received curcumin (480 mg) and quercetin (20 mg) orally 3 times a day for 6 months. Although the amount of quercetin was similar to what many people consume daily, the curcumin consumed was more than would be provided in a typical diet because turmeric only contains on average 3-5 % curcumin by weight.

While simply consuming curry and onions may not have as dramatic an effect as was produced in this study, this research clearly demonstrates that liberal use of turmeric and onions can play a protective role against the development of colorectal cancer. And turmeric doesn't have to only be used in curries. This spice is delicious on healthy sautéed apples, and healthy steamed cauliflower and/or green beans and onions. Or, for a flavor-rich, low-calorie dip, try adding some turmeric and dried onion to creamy yogurt.

Turmeric Teams Up with Cauliflower to Halt Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer—the second leading cause of cancer death in American men with 500,000 new cases appearing each year—is a rare occurrence among men in India, whose low risk is attributed to a diet rich in brassica family vegetables and the curry spice, turmeric.

Scientists tested turmeric, a concentrated source of the phytonutrient curcumin, along with phenethyl isothiocyanates, a phytochemical abundant in cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnips.

When tested singly, both phenethyl isothiocyanate and curcumin greatly retarded the growth of human prostate cancer cells implanted in immune-deficient mice. In mice with well-established prostate cancer tumors, neither phenethyl isothiocyanate nor curcumin by itself had a protective effect, but when combined, they significantly reduced both tumor growth and the ability of the prostate cancer cells to spread (metastasize) in the test animals.

The researchers believe the combination of cruciferous vegetables and curcumin could be an effective therapy not only to prevent prostate cancer, but to inhibit the spread of established prostate cancers. Best of all, this combination—cauliflower spiced with turmeric—is absolutely delicious! For protection against prostate cancer, cut cauliflower florets in quarters and let sit for 5-10 minutes; this allows time for the production of phenethyl isothiocyanates, which form when cruciferous vegetables are cut, but stops when they are heated. Then sprinkle with turmeric, and healthy sauté on medium heat in a few tablespoons of vegetable or chicken broth for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and top with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce Risk of Childhood Leukemia

Research presented at a recent conference on childhood leukemia, held in London, provides evidence that eating foods spiced with turmeric could reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia. The incidence of this cancer has risen dramatically during the 20th century, mainly in children under age five, among whom the risk has increased by more than 50% cent since 1950 alone. Modern environmental and lifestyle factors are thought to play a major role in this increase.

Childhood leukemia is much lower in Asia than Western countries, which may be due to differences in diet, one of which, the frequent use of turmeric, has been investigated in a series of studies over the last 20 years by Prof. Moolky Nagabhushan from the Loyola University Medical Centre, Chicago, IL.
"Some of the known risk factors that contribute to the high incidence of childhood leukemia are the interaction of many lifestyle and environmental factors. These include prenatal or postnatal exposure to radiation, benzene, environmental pollutants and alkylating chemotherapeutic drugs. Our studies show that turmeric—and its colouring principle, curcumin—in the diet mitigate the effects of some of these risk factors."

Nagabhushan has shown that the curcumin in turmeric can:
  • inhibit the mutagenicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (carcinogenic chemicals created by the burning of carbon based fuels including cigarette smoke)
  • inhibit radiation-induced chromosome damage
  • prevent the formation of harmful heterocyclic amines and nitroso compounds, which may result in the body when certain processed foods, such as processed meat products that contain nitrosamines, are eaten
  • irreversibly inhibit the multiplication of leukemia cells in a cell culture

Improved Liver Function

In a recent rat study conducted to evaluate the effects of turmeric on the liver's ability to detoxify xenobiotic (toxic) chemicals, levels of two very important liver detoxification enzymes (UDP glucuronyl transferase and glutathione-S-transferase) were significantly elevated in rats fed turmeric as compared to controls. The researchers commented, "The results suggest that turmeric may increase detoxification systems in addition to its anti-oxidant properties...Turmeric used widely as a spice would probably mitigate the effects of several dietary carcinogens."

Curcumin has been shown to prevent colon cancer in rodent studies. When researchers set up a study to analyze how curcumin works, they found that it inhibits free radical damage of fats (such as those found in cell membranes and cholesterol), prevents the formation of the inflammatory chemical cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and induces the formation of a primary liver detoxification enzyme, glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes. When the rats were given curcumin for 14 days, their livers' production of GST increased by 16%, and a marker of free radical damage called malondialdehyde decreased by 36% when compared with controls. During this two week period, the researchers gave the rats a cancer-causing chemical called carbon tetrachloride. In the rats not fed curcumin, markers of free radical damage to colon cells went up, but in the rats given turmeric, this increase was prevented by dietary curcumin. Lastly, the researchers compared giving turmeric in the diet versus injecting curcumin into the rats' colons. They found injecting curcumin resulted in more curcumin in the blood, but much less in the colon mucosa. They concluded, "The results show that curcumin mixed with the diet achieves drug levels in the colon and liver sufficient to explain the pharmacological activities observed and suggest that this mode of administration may be preferable for the chemoprevention of colon cancer."

Cardiovascular Protection

Curcumin may be able to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body. Since oxidized cholesterol is what damages blood vessels and builds up in the plaques that can lead to heart attack or stroke, preventing the oxidation of new cholesterol may help to reduce the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease. In addition, turmeric is a good source of vitamin B6, which is needed to keep homocysteine levels from getting too high. Homocysteine, an intermediate product of an important cellular process called methylation, is directly damaging to blood vessel walls. High levels of homocysteine are considered a significant risk factor for blood vessel damage, atherosclerotic plaque build-up, and heart disease; while a high intake of vitamin B6 is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

In research published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, when 10 healthy volunteers consumed 500 mg of curcumin per day for 7 days, not only did their blood levels of oxidized cholesterol drop by 33%, but their total cholesterol droped 11.63% , and their HDL (good cholesterol) increased by 29%! (Soni KB, Kuttan R).

How Turmeric Lowers Cholesterol

Tumeric's cholesterol-lowering effects are the result of the curry spice's active constituent, curcumin, which research reveals is a messaging molecule that communicates with genes in liver cells, directing them to increase the production of mRNA (messenger proteins) that direct the creation of receptors for LDL (bad) cholesterol. With more LDL-receptors, liver cells are able to clear more LDL-cholesterol from the body.

LDL-receptor mRNA increased sevenfold in liver cells treated with curcumin at a concentration of 10 microM, compared to untreated cells. (Liver cells were found to tolerate curcumin at levels of up to 12. microM for 24 hours). (Peschel D, Koerting R, et al. J Nutr Biochem)

Practical Tips:
Help increase your liver's ability to clear LDL-cholesterol by relying on turmeric, not just for delicious fish, meat or lentil curries, but to spice up healthy sautéed onions, potatoes and/or cauliflower; or as the key flavoring for a creamy vegetable dip. Just mix plain yogurt with a little omega-3-rich mayonnaise and turmeric, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with raw cauliflower, celery, sweet pepper, jicama and broccoli florets. Be sure to choose turmeric rather than prepared curry blends. Recent research indicates the amount of turmeric (and therefore curcumin) in curry blends is often minimal.(Tayyem RF et al.,Nutr Cancer)

For the most curcumin, be sure to use turmeric rather curry powder—a study analyzing curcumin content in 28 spice products described as turmeric or curry powders found that pure turmeric powder had the highest concentration of curcumin, averaging 3.14% by weight. The curry powder samples, with one exception, contained very small amounts of curcumin. (Tayyem RF, Heath DD, et al. Nutr Cancer)

Protection against Alzheimer's Disease

Growing evidence suggests that turmeric may afford protection against neurodegenerative diseases. Epidemiological studies show that in elderly Indian populations, among whose diet turmeric is a common spice, levels of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's are very low. Concurrently, experimental research conducted recently found that curcumin does appear to slow the progression of Alzheimer's in mice. Preliminary studies in mice also suggest that curcumin may block the progression of multiple sclerosis. While it is still unclear how it may afford protection against this degenerative condition, one theory is that it may interrupt the production of IL-2, a protein that can play a key role in the destruction of myelin, the sheath that serves to protect most nerves in the body.

A number of studies have suggested that curcumin, the biologically active constituent in turmeric, protects against Alzheimer's disease by turning on a gene that codes for the production of antioxidant proteins. A study published in the Italian Journal of Biochemistry (December 2003) discussed curcumin's role in the induction of the the heme oxygenase pathway, a protective system that, when triggered in brain tissue, causes the production of the potent antioxidant bilirubin, which protects the brain against oxidative (free radical) injury. Such oxidation is thought to be a major factor in aging and to be responsible for neurodegenerative disorders including dementias like Alzheimer's disease. Another study conducted jointly by an Italian and U.S. team and presented at the American Physiological Society's 2004 annual conference in Washington, DC, confirmed that curcumin strongly induces expression of the gene, called hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) in astrocytes from the hippocampal region of the brain.

Curcumin Crosses Blood-Brain Barrier, May Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

Research conducted at UCLA and published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (December 2004), which has been confirmed by further research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (April 2006), provides insight into the mechanisms behind curcumin's protective effects against Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease results when a protein fragment called amyloid-B accumulates in brain cells, producing oxidative stress and inflammation, and forming plaques between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain that disrupt brain function.
Amyloid is a general term for protein fragments that the body produces normally. Amyloid-B is a protein fragment snipped from another protein called amyloid precursor protein (APP). In a healthy brain, these protein fragments are broken down and eliminated. In Alzheimer's disease, the fragments accumulate, forming hard, insoluble plaques between brain cells.

The UCLA researchers first conducted test tube studies in which curcumin was shown to inhibit amyloid-B aggregation and to dissolve amyloid fibrils more effectively than the anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen and naproxen. Then, using live mice, the researchers found that curcumin crosses the blood brain barrier and binds to small amyloid-B species. Once bound to curcumin, the amyloid-B protein fragments can no longer clump together to form plaques. Curcumin not only binds to amyloid-B, but also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, supplying additional protection to brain cells.

Turmeric Boosts Amyloid Plaque Clearance in Human Alzheimer's Patients

The most active ingredient in turmeric root, bisdemethoxycurcumin, boosts the activity of the immune system in Alzheimer's patients, helping them to clear the amyloid beta plaques characteristic of the disease.

In healthy patients, immune cells called macrophages, which engulf and destroy abnormal cells and suspected pathogens, efficiently clear amyloid beta, but macrophage activity is suppressed in Alzheimer's patients.

Using blood samples from Alzheimer's patients, Drs. Milan Fiala and John Cashman have shown that bisdemethoxycurcumin boosts macrophage activity to normal levels, helping to clear amyloid beta. Fiala and Cashman also observed that bisdemethoxycurcumin was more effective in promoting the clearance of amyloid beta in some patients' blood than others, hinting at a genetic element. Further study revealed the genes involved are MGAT III and Toll-like receptors, which are also responsible for a number of other key immune functions. Bisdemethoxycurcumin enhances the transcription of these genes, correcting the immune defects seen in Alzheimer's patients. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Jul 31;104(31):12849-54.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014


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The gluten debate continues, often with more venom than opposition parties at election time. Why does this molecule ignite so much antagonism? After all, it's just a food…Or is it?
Let's start with what gluten is. It's a protein molecule principally found in wheat. But gluten is not what it used to be. In the late 1960's, gluten (and wheat) were cross-bred, hybridized and re-engineered to increase the yield of cereal grains. This produced over 40,000 varieties of wheat. It also increased the elasticity of wheat so that the bread would rise and be more chewy and delectable. Who doesn't like fluffy bread? But as we've now learnt, once we start interfering with our food source, things can go a little hay-wire. This is what happened:
1. This gluten molecule changed from the cellular equivalent of a tennis ball to a volleyball.
The larger the protein molecule, the more challenging it is for your digestive system to fully break it down. It requires more stomach acid, more pancreatic enzymes and more small intestine enzymes. This explains why for some of you your stomach bloats like you've swallowed the volleyball after its ingestion. Your stomach acid, pancreatic and / or small intestine enzymes are insufficient to breakdown this burly molecule.
If this is you, you have three options: 1. Either exclude gluten, 2. Supplement with HCL (stomach acid) and protein digesting enzymes to help you better digest gluten, or, 3. Eat ancient grains like Einkorn which has 14 chromosomes versus spelt and other wheat which has 42 chromosomes. But the latter two options still aren't ideal, as there is more at play than the size of the molecule.
2. Gluten stimulates zonulin, a protein that increases gut permeability.
Zonulin starts to open up the tight junctions that keep the small intestine impervious to bacteria and undigested food. When this happens, you set yourself up for a hyper-immune response to gluten and other undigested foods. If you don't chew your food well (most of us), then once the gut is more permeable, more food can slip into the bloodstream and trigger an immune response. Think of this like a cool nightclub being taken over riffraff because someone knocked the bouncer out. It can be a mess.
If you want to continue eating gluten and decrease the likelihood of this response, you can take two actions: 1. Chew and chew and chew your food so you'll only have amino acids (from protein), glucose and fructose (from carbs), and vitamins and minerals enter the blood stream. That's all that should be absorbed into the bloodstream and no immune reaction will take place. Or, 2. Take glutamine to feed the cells on the small intestine so they replicate and decrease the likelihood of excessive permeability. This is risky as zonulin is still triggered but it acts as a mild counter balance.
3. Repetitive gluten exposure may already have damaged your small intestine.
If you've been eating wheat four times a day for 20 years (easy to do — cereal for breakfast, cookies as snack, croutons in your salad and bread with dinner) it's highly likely the gut is already permeable and setting you up for an increased immune response to food.
If this sounds esoteric, let's take it out of the gluten realm. Imagine drinking soda four times a day over a 20-year period, what's the likelihood of diabetes? Pretty high. But if the rest of your diet is clean, you may be lucky and not get diabetes. But the vast majority will.
4. You're super stressed.
Most of us don't live on a little island in Greece where we eat from the land, have a supportive community, play and take time for prayer. We're often too busy to have a bathroom break. Stress uses up the protein molecule glutamine that helps keep the tight junctions on the small intestine intact. The moral here: the more stressed you are, the more gluten is likely to be a problem. I have a rule for myself: on vacation I can eat gluten, but that comes with a caveat. I did the work to heal my gut. I talk about how to do this in the "How to Ditch Sugar" video series on MindBodyGreen.
5. You're craving cookies, bread and pasta.
This is an easy sign to determine if you've already developed a food sensitivity to gluten or wheat. When you have a hyper-immune response to a food, you start interfering with the body's production of serotonin. The immune system starts using up the raw materials otherwise needed to create serotonin. Less serotonin can mean more food cravings. (I also speak about this in more depth in the "How to Ditch Sugar" video series.)
6. Your gut bacteria is out-of-whack.
Your gut bacteria can be your salvation or your enemy. If you have an imbalance of pathogenic bacteria (or yeast or parasites) they'll love the undigested gluten and will use it for food to multiply. They'll also ferment it and give you a bloated belly. But if you have nice micro-flora (think flowers versus weeds) then the undigested gluten isn't likely to cause much GI distress. Pathogenic bacteria also produces toxins that make the small intestine more permeable, setting you up for food sensitivities.
So….should you eat gluten or not?
No, if:
  • You have celiac disease
  • You have an auto-immunue disease (see point 3)
  • You get a bloated belly after eating gluten
  • You're super stressed
  • You would be distressed about giving it up (see point 5)
  • You eat the regular stuff — it's comfort food for you and the heirloom varieties aren't around when you need them
  • You have mood disorders (not discussed here but you can check out this study)
Yes, if:
  • You eat it occasionally and choose heirloom grains like Einkorn
  • You chew your food properly (or you're happy to take digestive enzyme support)
  • You've actively rebalanced your gut micro flora with anti-fungals, probiotics and glutamine
  • You've taken gluten out of your diet for at least 9 months to decrease the reactively of it in the body, and now you can tolerate a gluten-light life
  • You've only ever eaten gluten on an irregular basis
  • You don't have the genes for celiac or other autoimmune conditions
The debate over gluten will likely continue as most of us haven't tested the integrity of our small intestine, the composition of our gut microflora and whether we have an immune reaction to gluten or not. Each of us is in a different place on our gluten journey and that gives us different opinion on whether to eat gluten or not based on our personal experiences. I hope the above article provides you with more insight into whether gluten is suitable for you or not.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Herbs to Treat the Prostate

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Sex Symbols I : Stock Photo During the 4+ years that I've been writing my weekly column on herbs and healing alternatives, most of my articles have been for men and women alike, but most specific articles are usually directed towards women's issues.  Yes, we have more health concerns then men, but in this Post we will focus on a prominent male issue - though ironically, out of the top ten causes of male deaths, only one is male organ specific: prostate cancer.  The other nine are suffered by women as well, but happen less frequently to women than men. 

The biggest problem that men have are diseases that are the result of lack of health care monitoring earlier in life. Take for example, the progression of heart disease: "If you don't get your cholesterol checked when it's going high when you're 20, and if don't get your blood pressure checked when it's going high when you're 30, maybe your blood sugar's getting a little high when you're 40, what do you think is going to happen when you're 50?"

We will begin to look at herbs for the top five killers of men: cardiac herbs (for hypertension and stroke), urinary tonics for the prostate, pulmonary herbs for the lungs and herbs for cancer, and depression.

THE PROSTATE - The prostate is a male gland located just below the bladder, in front of the rectum. It surrounds the first inch of the urethra (the tube through which urine and sperm exit the body). The prostate gland can become inflamed (prostatitis), enlarged (causing a sensation of fullness in the rectum) or infected, causing backache, impairment of sexual potency, frequent and/or burning/discomfort/pain upon urination, recurring flare-ups and sometimes a slight discharge or blood in the urine.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men. It is the second leading type of cancer death in men, after lung cancer. There is not enough known about what causes prostate cancer and how to prevent it. Yet the disease is treatable if found in early stages.

This can be a challenge, since prostate cancer can show no symptoms until it has spread to other parts of the body. STAY AHEAD OF THE GAME – GET AN ANNUAL CHECK UP (+PROSTATE SCREENING).

Herbs to treat a variety of these symptoms: Ginseng, fenugreek, parsley, oats, pumpkin seeds, kelp, melilot, bee pollen, buchu leaves, juniper berries, echinacea, golden seal, chaparral, sarsaparilla, wild yam root, yellow dock, yarrow, mullein, horsetail.

If you begin to feel any of the above symptoms here are a few of my herbal tea suggestions:

Urinary tract infection: Black walnut bark-1/4pt, buchu leaves-1pt, chaparral-1/2pt, echinacea-1/4pt, hawthorn berries-1/4pt, wild yam root-1/4pt, marshmallow-1/2pt. Men younger than 50 who have a bladder infection should see a doctor to determine the cause (since it is so rare). Men over 50 with recurring bladder infections most likely need to address their prostate health while also dealing with the acute infection.

Prostate cancer: buchu leaves-1pt, juniper berries-1/4pt, echinacea-1/2pt, golden seal-1/4pt, chaparral-1pt, kelp-1/2pt, sarsaparilla-1pt, wild yam root-1/4pt, yellow dock-1pt, yarrow-1/2pt, black walnut bark-1/2pt. Painful urination: buchu leaves-1pt, juniper berries-1/2pt, marshmallow-1pt, parsley-1/2pt, yarrow-1/2pt.

CAUTION – do not take juniper berries if you have any type of kidney disease or infection.

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens/Sabal Serrulata) is a palm like plant with berries that were a staple food and medicine for the Native Americans of the southeastern United States.   In the early 1900s men used the berries to treat urinary tract problems and even to increase sperm production and boost libido.

Saw palmetto extract is the most popular herbal treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia, a common condition in older men. Early research indicated that the extract is well-tolerated and suggested "mild to moderate improvement in urinary symptoms and flow measures." Researches aren't sure exactly how saw palmetto works, but it contains plant-based chemicals that may be effective for BPH.  Researchers think that saw palmetto may affect the level of testosterone in the body, and perhaps reduce the amount of an enzyme that promotes the growth of prostate cells.  Saw palmetto is often combined with nettles extract to treat BPH.

The dried berries
Saw palmetto is used in several forms of traditional herbal medicine. American Indians used the fruit for food and to treat a variety of urinary and reproductive system problems. The Mayans drank it as a tonic, and the Seminoles used the berries as an expectorant and antiseptic.

Crude saw palmetto extract was used by European/American medical practitioners for at least 200 years for various conditions, including asthenia (weakness), recovery from major illness, and urogenital problems. 
King's American Dispensatory (1898) says of the extract:
It is also an expectorant, and controls irritation of mucous tissues. It has proved useful in irritative cough, chronic bronchial coughs, whooping-cough, laryngitis, acute and chronic, acute catarrh, asthma, tubercular laryngitis, and in the cough of phthisis pulmonalis. Upon the digestive organs it acts kindly, improving the appetite, digestion, and assimilation. However, its most pronounced effects appear to be those exerted upon the urino-genital tracts of both male and female, and upon all the organs concerned in reproduction. It is said to enlarge wasted organs, as the breasts, ovaries, and testicles, while the paradoxical claim is also made that it reduces hypertrophy of the prostate. Possibly this may be explained by claiming that it tends toward the production of a normal condition, reducing parts when unhealthily enlarged, and increasing them when atrophied.