Herbs & Supplements

The variety of vitamins and natural supplements available today can be confusing and overwhelming. The NorthStar blog on herbs and supplements provides the latest updates on what's out there, what works, what doesn't and why.

  1. Benefits of curcumin—Indian spice may help prevent 95% of cancers

    Dr. Ajay Goel, PhD is my kind of guy. He says genetics plays a role in less than five percent of cancers. So if your mom or dad got cancer, it‘s not a guarantee you‘ll get it too.

    In fact, Dr. Goel says the vast majority of cancers arise from "epigenetic influences," or diet and environmental factors which influence your genes.

    You see, according to Goel, some factors turn protective genes on. And some factors turn these protective genes off.

    This is good news, he says, because it means "you can influence 95 percent of all cancers with environment and lifestyle changes…" Which brings us to the benefits of curcumin…the Indian spice superstar.

    To help flesh out his theory, Dr. Goel is studying ways to keep these protective genes turned on. For one, Goel found that certain foods can "reawaken" sleeping genes that suppress tumors. These genes tell your body to launch the attack against cancer cells!

    So which foods did Dr. Goel study?

    Well, it’s not really a food exactly. Rather, it’s curcumin, and it’s found in two popular cooking spices. Can cooking with these spices give you the benefits of curcumin, namely protection from cancer?

    Healing powers found in Indian cuisine

    If you‘ve never tried cooking with tumeric or curry, you should. That‘s because these spices contain curcumin, a polyphenol that gives the spices their bright yellow color. Because of the health benefits of curcumin, it has also been used medicinally for thousands of years in India and China.

    Much of the recent research on the benefits of curcumin involves its  effect on the brain. Last year, researchers from Cedars-Sinai created a new molecule from curcumin. They found it might protect the brain and rebuild brain cells following a stroke.

    In addition, UCLA researchers found another benefit of curcumin is that it reduces inflammation and oxidative damage in the brains of Alzheimer‘s patients. Not only that, but researchers discovered that curcumin reduces the hallmark symptom of Alzheimer‘s disease -- plaques and tangles. You see, curcumin crosses the blood-brain barrier and seems to help sweep away harmful proteins that accumulate in the brain.

    But can curcumin also protect you against cancer, as Dr. Goel suggests?

    Reawaken your protective genes

    In a study published in the journal Gastroenterology, Dr. Goel looked at the "epigenetic influences" of curcumin on colon cancer cells. He wanted to see if curcumin could help "reawaken" the genes that protect you against colon cancer.

    A year ago, Dr. Goel isolated three colon cancer cell lines. Then, he treated the cells with various concentrations of curcumin.

    Next, he watched for any changes to the DNA that occurred after six days and after eight months. Almost immediately, he discovered the amazing benefits of curcumin  -- it did indeed "awaken" the sleeping genes. According to Goel, "this process keeps the cancerous tumor from growing and spreading, and is vitally important."

    Dr. Goel also believes another benefit of curcumin is that it will work on other forms of cancer. He believes the research holds a lot of promise.

    I suspect Dr. Goel is right on track...

    In fact, clinical trials on the benefits of curcumin and colon and pancreatic cancer are already underway. Men and women in these trials take high doses of curcumin to treat cancer. I‘ll keep you posted on their outcomes.


    Prevention is a far easier hand to play. So give Dr. Goel‘s advice a chance. Try tumeric and curry in your cooking . I like to sprinkle it on my stir-fried veggies.

    Plus, Dr. Goel promises to keep searching for other "epigenetic" influences on cancer, besides curcumin. I‘ll keep you updated on his progress.

  2. Magnesium cuts hot flashes by 50 percent in breast cancer patients

    I have a friend who underwent treatment for breast cancer. Thankfully, she‘s now cancer-free. But she still suffers from terrible hot flashes, a common symptom among survivors. Plus, she lives on the East Coast where it‘s been steamy and hot since early June. So to say the least, she‘s been pretty miserable.

    But here‘s the good news...

    There is something that might help: Magnesium. A new study found that breast cancer survivors who took magnesium had fewer sweaty days and nights.

    For the study, U.S. researchers recruited breast cancer survivors. Each of the women experienced at least 14 hot flashes per week. But to help ease these symptoms, the researchers gave the women 400 mg per day of magnesium oxide for four weeks.

    A month later, the women reported 41 percent fewer hot flashes after taking magnesium. Plus, the hot flashes weren‘t as bad. In fact, the women said their intensity decreased by about 50 percent.

    No, the magnesium didn‘t wipe out the hot flashes completely. But at least it is a very natural and healthy way to make you feel more comfortable as you rebuild your strength after cancer. Magnesium should help my friend tremendously.

  3. The benefits of folic acid could lower your colon tumor risk

    Next time you‘re at the doctor‘s office, ask him to check your blood for vitamin B, particularly folate. How much you have may lower your risk of developing a colorectal tumor, thanks to the benefits of folic acid. In fact, Japanese researchers recruited 458 men and women to analyze the benefits of folic acid. Some of the volunteers had colorectal adenomas and some did not. These kinds of tumors in the colon and rectum are benign, but they can turn cancerous. The researchers then took samples of the volunteers‘ blood to check for folate. Folate is part of the vitamin B family. Most people get it by taking folic acid or by eating foods enriched with folic acid. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. It turns into a form of folate when it crosses your intestinal wall. It then enters your blood stream, where the benefits of folic acid may become apparent. The researchers found that men with folate levels below 8.0 ng/ml were 50 percent more likely to develop a tumor. Women with levels below that were 23 percent more likely to develop one. On the other hand, volunteers with levels above 8.0 ng/ml did not raise their risk at all. Now... There has been a lot in the press lately about too much folic acid causing colon cancer. But hopefully, this study will help showcase the benefits of folic acid and put that argument to rest. Plus, this past April, the American Cancer Society wrapped up a huge study on the benefits of folic acid. The study involved 100,000 men and women. And they found zero connection between increased folic acid intake and colon cancer. On the contrary, it appears that by keeping your blood filled with plenty of vitamin B, you decrease your risk of developing a benign colon tumor. Given time, even these tumors can turn cancerous. Plus, as any nutritionist will tell you. Vitamin B is a water-soluble vitamin. That means that your body will wash away any excess amounts that it can‘t use. So keep up the vitamin B and experience the benefits of folic acid firsthand. Take a B-complex that includes all eight members of the vitamin family.
  4. 2 key antioxidants help battle breast cancer and may stop it returning

    I remember when a friend of mine got cancer, her oncologist told her to stop taking vitamins. They might protect the cancer cells and get in the way of your treatment, he warned. But that‘s a bunch of baloney. Take your vitamins, especially if you‘re battling breast cancer. A recent study found that women with breast cancer who took two key antioxidants following their diagnosis significantly cut their risk of recurrence. For this study, researchers recruited about 5,000 women with invasive breast cancer. About six months after surgery, the women answered questions about their vitamin usage. Then, the researchers followed the women over the next four years. Here‘s what they found... Unfortunately, the cancer returned in 532 of the women. But the women who took two key antioxidants during the first six months following their diagnosis slashed their recurrence risk. In fact, women who used vitamin C for more than three months had a 38 percent lower risk of recurrence. Plus, they had a 44 percent lower mortality risk (compared to those who didn‘t use the vitamin). The benefits for taking vitamin E were even greater. Researchers found that women who took vitamin E for three months or more reduced their recurrence risk by 48 percent. Plus, they reduced their mortality risk by 43 percent compared to non- vitamin takers. According to the study‘s authors: "There is a widespread concern that the use of antioxidant supplements during cancer treatment may protect tumor cells from the oxidative damage induced by cancer therapies, thereby reducing the effectiveness of treatment and increasing risk of mortality. We found no evidence that vitamin use during the first six months following diagnosis had a detrimental effect on breast cancer outcomes." That‘s putting it lightly. I‘d say a 38 to 48 percent reduction in recurrence rates is huge news! Every oncologist should give these antioxidants to their breast cancer patients. But it will never happen. Most oncologists only want to tell you about drugs. Drugs like Avastin. Avastin is mainly used to treat lung and colon cancer. But the FDA approved its use for breast cancer back in 2008 based on evidence that it could add up to five months to a woman‘s lifespan. It works by cutting off the supply of blood vessels to a tumor. But since 2008, study after study has shown that Avastin does not extend the lifespan of a woman battling metastic breast cancer. Yet oncologists, Big Pharma, and patients groups want to keep it on the market. Tragically, this may do more harm than good. The FDA will make the call about Avastin‘s sometime in June. I‘ll keep you posted. But in the meantime, if you want to keep cancer out of your life for good, keep taking your vitamin C and vitamin E.
  5. Benefits of green tea extract: Boost your mental focus in 16 weeks

    Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) sounds pretty harmless. But it‘s not. It means you have memory or language problems beyond those attributed to normal aging. Your friends and family may notice your lapses in memory. But it doesn‘t interfere with your day-to-day life. However, most experts agree that having MCI raises your risk of developing Alzheimer‘s disease. Currently, there is no mainstream treatment for mild cognitive impairment. But you know I‘m not a mainstream guy. A new study found that men and women with mild cognitive impairment significantly improved their "mental focus" without taking a single drug. For the study, Korean scientists recruited 90 men and women with mild cognitive impairment. They divided the volunteers into two groups. One group received a placebo and the other group received 1,680 mg of green tea extract with L- theanine. (According to NutraIngredients USA, L-theanine "is an amino acid found in tea leaves thought to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve the quality of sleep.") The volunteers followed this regimen for 16 weeks. Then, they took a battery of tests. The green tea group showed "significant" improvement in memory and recall. Plus, 24 volunteers took EEG scans of their brains. Again, the green tea drinkers showed improvements in specific areas of the brain associated with mental alertness. (I‘d also throw some ginkgo biloba and phosphatidylserine in there, but that‘s another story.) Bottom line? Even if you don‘t have mild cognitive impairment, you may benefit from taking a green tea/L-theanine extract. Plus, you may want to look back at my Guide to Good Health from last year. I talked about one antioxidant proven to slash your Alzheimer‘s risk by a whopping 54 percent.
  6. Treat Restless Leg Syndrome without drugs

    The FDA recently approved a new drug in the treatment of Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Now, I know this condition tortures many older adults. It often strikes at night, just when you‘re ready to hit the sheets. You can‘t fall asleep, however, because your legs feel jittery. The only thing that makes you feel better is to get up and move around. It‘s a puzzling condition, without a doubt. But before you resort to a drug that may carry a warning of increased suicide risk, explore your options. I‘ve had a lot of luck treating RLS with a mix of calcium and magnesium. Magnesium, as you‘ll recall, is a relaxant. So theoretically, that‘s why it helps lessen the creepy-crawly feeling in your legs. Go with a ratio of 2:1 of calcium to magnesium. Start with 1,000 mg of calcium to 500 mg of magnesium for a few days. If this doesn‘t work, double the dosage. If you go too high, you may experience somewhat looser stools and should cut back. Also -- make sure to use capsules. Your body tends to absorb these better than hard tablets.
  7. TIME misses key flaw in bogus drug study encouraging Actos for diabetes

    Last month, The New York Times and TIME magazine both ran articles that reported on new research for a diabetes drug called Actos (pioglitazone). According to the new research, men and women with elevated blood sugar levels who took Actos were less likely to develop diabetes than a placebo group. You can make the case that the reporters wrote balanced arguments. In fact, both reporters raised concerns about giving a diabetes drug to patients without full-blown diabetes. Plus, both reporters warned you about the drug‘s very serious side effects. But there‘s one major problem with both articles: They fail to point out a key flaw in the new research. In fact, the results of this study are so shaky, TIME and The NYT had no business giving it any ink. (You‘ll learn exactly why the results are so shaky in a moment, I promise!) But first, I want to point out something about Big Pharma... The new Actos research reflects Big Pharma‘s new marketing strategy. Don‘t just take our drugs to treat disease. Take them before you develop the disease too! Unfortunately, the national news media seems all too willing to take this strategy seriously. But, in my book, it‘s all about boosting sales. Here‘s what they don‘t tell you... Actos‘s patent expired in January of this year. But Takeda Pharmaceuticals -- the company that makes Actos -- struck a deal to delay entry of generic versions of the drug until August 2012. So, this is the company‘s last-ditch effort to boost sales over the next 12 months. Get men and women who don‘t have diabetes to take a diabetes drug. What a novel idea! Is it any surprise, then, that Takeda Pharmaceuticals partially funded this bogus study? Yep. Who didn‘t see that coming from a mile away? The good news is there are lots of ways to prevent diabetes without resorting to a drug like Actos. In fact, a new study proved that even small amounts of one key mineral could lower your blood sugar by nearly 10 percent. I‘ll tell you all about that study in a moment, but first let‘s look at the details of the latest Actos research... Study raises red flags from the start U.S. researchers gave Actos to 602 men and women with pre-diabetes for two years. (To be clear, these folks did not have full-blown diabetes, just elevated blood sugar levels.) During that time, 7.6 percent of the volunteers who took a placebo developed diabetes. By comparison, only 2.1 percent of volunteers who took Actos developed diabetes. According to TIME and The NYT, this means volunteers who took Actos reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 72 percent. Sounds great, right? The lead researcher for the study called these results "astounding." Well, not so fast Dr. Ralph A. DeFronzo. Let‘s look at the results from your study using the raw data. Here‘s what really happened in your "astounding" study... Of the 602 men and women who started the study, 10 patients who took Actos developed diabetes. On the other hand, 45 patients who took the placebo developed diabetes. So...we‘re talking about a total difference of 35 people! Just 35 people. Talk about ignoring the big fat elephant in the room. Did the reporters omit this information because it lessens the argument? I can‘t be sure but what I do know is that the mainstream press needs to take a long hard look at the study data. There are 300 million pre-diabetics living in the U.S. alone. Should we really even consider giving this drug to any of them based on the results that 35 fewer people developed diabetes? In my opinion: No. I don‘t care how much The NYT and TIME warned their readers about weight gain and fluid retention. When you leave out a key piece of information like that, you‘ve really dropped the ball. And that‘s not all... Actos linked to heart risk and bladder cancer Many people consider Actos a safer alternative to other diabetes drugs, but it‘s not. Here‘s why... It belongs to the same class of drugs as Avandia. As you‘ll recall, the FDA greatly restricts the use of Avandia because it may increase your heart attack risk. So, how about Actos? Could it increase heart attack risk too? Of course, it could. In fact, a 2010 study found that Actos caused as many heart problems as Avandia. Plus, the FDA is investigating a link between Actos and bladder cancer. I suspect they will find the longer you take Actos, the greater your risk. Now, I promised you some good news in this whole mess. And here it is: there are non-drug solutions to getting your blood sugar under control... Tackle diabetes naturally First off, there‘s diet and exercise. As I mentioned earlier, this can cut your diabetes risk by 58 percent. Plus, a new study found that magnesium might help too. For this study, researchers divided 52 men and women with diabetes into two groups. One group got 365 mg of magnesium per day for six months. The other group got a placebo. Overall, the magnesium group improved in two out of three tests for insulin sensitivity. Plus, their blood sugar levels after fasting improved by about seven percent. Though this study is small in scope, researchers point to large-scale meta-analysis that confirms their results. In that analysis, researchers found that men and women lowered their diabetes risk by 15 percent with each 100 mg of magnesium taken. So, just think...taking 300 mg magnesium each day could lower your risk by 45 percent. Not too shabby. If you want to learn more about how to lower your diabetes risk without drugs, go back and look at my Guide to Good Health from 8-12-10. In this report, you‘ll find three important steps you can take to improve your blood sugar control.
  8. Natural benefits of olive leaf extract outshine Big Pharma superstar

    Revealed: Natural competitor works just as well as Big Pharma superstar!

    Did you know that researchers recently discovered that an all-natural extract can lower your blood pressure as well as key Big Pharma drugs…in just eight weeks!? Don‘t feel bad if you hadn‘t heard about this breakthrough. Big Pharma pays big bucks to make sure small studies like this one never see the light of day. They‘d rather keep you in the dark to pad their own pockets. In fact, Big Pharma spends far more money on marketing than it does on research. One recent report found that drugs companies shell out $57 billion a year on promotion. But it spends almost half that research and development. So you tell me. What‘s more important to Big Pharma: Keeping you healthy or keeping your attention? Big Pharma is so obsessed about promotion because if people knew about this natural competitor, they wouldn‘t need to rely on manufactured solutions. Just consider this small (but impressive) study recently published that fell through the mainstream cracks...

    Natural plant extract lowers BP as well as ACE inhibitor

    ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors are among the most widely used drugs in the world. They lower your blood pressure by blocking a hormone called angiotensin II. This hormone causes your blood vessels to constrict, so your heart must work overtime to pump bloodaround your body. By blocking this hormone, ACE inhibitors allow your blood vessels to relax and reopen. As a result, your blood pressure comes down and your heart gets a break. Now here‘s where things get interesting... Researchers recently found that olive leaf extract (OLE) could lower blood pressure as well as one popular ACE inhibitor! For the study, they recruited patients with stage-1 high blood pressure. They divided the patients into two groups. One group took 500 mg of OLE twice daily for eight weeks. The second group received 12.5 mg of the ACE inhibitor Captopril twice daily for eight weeks. At the end of the trial, researchers found that both groups lowered their blood pressure. On average, the OLE group went from 149/94 to 138/89. The ACE inhibitor group went from 148/94 to 135/87. There was one major difference, however, between the two groups. The olive leaf group lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. The ACE inhibitor group did not see these improvements. (To do that, they‘d have to pop another drug. Yes, just think of the gains for Big Pharma!)

    One compound does double duty

    The researchers believe a compound called oleuropein holds the key to OLE‘s success. They believe oleuropein helps relax your blood vessels and sweep away bad cholesterol. Plus, this isn‘t the first time researchers used OLE to lower high blood pressure... Back in 2008, researchers studied identical twins with borderline high blood pressure. One twin received 500 mg of OLE twice a day for eight weeks. The other twin received "lifestyle advice." After just eight weeks, the OLE group lowered their BP from 137/80 to 126/76. They also saw their LDL (bad) cholesterol fall. The "lifestyle advice" group, on the other hand, only slightly improved their cholesterol scores. Their BP scores stayed the same.

    Proceed with caution...

    If I had to choose, I‘d take OLE over an ACE inhibitor any day of the week (and twice on Sundays!). Just look at the side effects for ACE inhibitors and you‘ll probably see it my way too. (The most common side effect for Captopril is a chronic, dry cough. But people who take this drug can also suffer from kidney failure as well as head, neck, and intestinal angioedema. This type of swelling is similar to hives, except it occurs beneath the skin and can be lifethreatening if it affects your airway. Captopril is also associated with a blood disorder called neutropenia. With this disorder, your white blood cell count drops to abnormally low levels. This is not good because white blood cells protect you against infection and pathogens. Lastly, pregnant women should not take Captopril. It raises the risk of your child developing "major" congenital malformations.) Nevertheless... I do have some concerns about taking OLE continuously. You see...

    Olive leaf extract is well-known in alternative medicine. We use it to fight colds and infections. But I don‘t ever use it continuously, as it can almost work too well. In fact, over time, OLE can wipe out your body‘s supply of good bacteria...especially in your gut. Now, maybe if you take plenty of probiotics along with the OLE you‘ll sidestep the problem. But these are untested waters, and I‘ll keep you posted about any further studies. Before trying OLE for high blood pressure, I‘d seek the advice of a professional. Here is a list web sites where you can search for a natural health practitioner in your area:

    • The American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) at http://www.holisticmedicine.org
    • The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) at http://www.naturopathic.org
    • Orthomolecular Medicine at http://www.orthomolecular.org
    • The American College for Advancement in Medicine: http://www.acamnet.org

    Lastly, go back and read my Guide to Good Health from last August. In this article, you‘ll learn about my five-step plan to lower your blood pressure without drugs.

  9. Big Pharma creates ambiguity beween vitamins and prescription drugs

    Big Pharma‘s dark magic turns vitamins into gold

    Did you know that Big Pharma has mastered the art of dark magic?

    Yep. They‘ve figured out how to turn a $7 vitamin into an outrageously expensive "prescription medicine" that you can only get with doctor‘s order. And it‘s a profitable hoax, earning hundreds of millions of dollars for the drug giant Abbott Labs. (And better yet, this is not Big Pharma‘s first stab at black magic. They‘ve done it before...and that "prescription medicine" now rakes in billions of dollars each year.)

    I‘ll explain to you how Abbott pulled off this hoax in a moment, but first let me back up...

    Last month‘s Journal of the American Medical Association ran an ad for a prescription medicine called Niaspan. It‘s targeted to men and women with coronary artery disease and high cholesterol. According to Niaspan web site, this prescription medicine:

      ...works to raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels in people with abnormal cholesterol levels. Medical experts believe thelpstarhat increasing good cholesterol can help carry excess cholesterol out of your body. Niaspan also works to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.

    Plus, Niaspan can "reduce the risk of another heart attack in people who have high cholesterol and a history of heart attacks." Sounds great if you‘re someone who takes drugs, right?

    Now, here‘s the thing about Niaspan...

    It isn‘t really a drug.

    In fact, it‘s nothing more than time-released niacin (otherwise known as vitamin B3)! Plus, you can get a month‘s supply of the stuff (without a doctor‘s order) from most vitamin shops for under $7.

    Without a doubt, you‘re much better off going that route...because Abbott Labs will charge you a heck of a lot more. I‘ll tell you exactly how much more a little later. But first, consider this...

    Big Pharma pulled a bait and switch before

    A few years back, Big Pharma pulled a similar type of bait and switch. You‘ve probably heard of a prescription drug called Lovaza, right? I chuckled when I first heard about it, because it‘s nothing more than refined fish oil. But it sounds snazzy and you need a doctor‘s prescription for it...so it must work better than regular fish oil, right?


    It doesn‘t. It contains the same active ingredients you find in fish oil: EPA and DHA.

    But Big Pharma managed to fool many, many Americans with this hoax.

    In fact, this kind of con is hugely profitable for Big Pharma. Global sales of Lovaza top $1 billion dollars per year. For this reason alone, we will see more and more vitamins magically "repackaged" and sold as drugs.

    Big Pharma boosts profits with copycat drugs

    In the case of niacin, Abbott Labs saw how well this B vitamin could lower your cholesterol and decided to get in on the action.

    They put some execs in a board room to rename it. Then, they came up with a slick marketing campaign to confuse the heck out of you.

    The ads make Niaspan sound more desirable than regular old vitamin B, with claims that it lowers your cholesterol and your heart attack risk. (You see, drug companies have carte blanche to talk about diseases in their marketing campaigns. Vitamin companies cannot or they risk getting shut down by the FDA. So suddenly, niacin becomes a "prescription medicine" targeted to patients with heart disease.)

    So with a flick of the dark magic wand, suddenly you can only get niacin (er, Niaspan) with a doctor‘s prescription.

    Unfortunately, this scheme will snow lots of folks...especially those who think a vitamin can‘t possibly lower their cholesterol...only a drug can do that! These folks will also buy Niaspan for an outrageous price (I promise I‘ll get to that in a moment) and Abbott Labs gets to keep the tidy profits.

    The real truth about niacin

    Niacin is a great vitamin. I‘ve talked about it before. A water-soluble B vitamin, it helps your body convert carbs into fuel. It can also dramatically raise your HDL (good) cholesterol. I‘m talking increases of 15 to 35 percent. This alone helps to sweep the bad cholesterol out of your system. Plus, niacin can lower your triglycerides as well.

    No wonder Big Pharma became interested in niacin, right?

    Now, niacin does have one main side effect. It can cause a "niacin flush" effect, with symptoms of tingling, redness, and itching similar to temporary sunburn. But this only lasts 15 minutes or so. Plus, it tends to go away altogether once the body becomes more accustomed to the higher dosages.

    Niaspan gets around this because it contains time-release niacin. This reduces the amount of flushing you experience. But I‘d stay away from it. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, time-release niacin may be more toxic to your liver than immediate-release forms.

    Just how much does this copycat niacin cost?

    After I saw the Niaspan ad, I was curious. I wanted to know how much Abbott charged for the stuff.

    So I went to my local Walmart and asked the pharmacist on duty how much a 30-day supply runs. She told me that 30 Niaspan tablets (1,000 mg each) cost a whopping $139.08.

    I was so dumbfounded, I asked her to write it down. Who the heck would pay that much when you can get it at the grocery store for under seven bucks?

    Well, apparently, a lot of folks.

    Copycat niacin is big business. I ran a quick check on drugs.com and found that Niaspan actually ranks among the top 50 best-selling drugs in America. In 2009, it even sold more units than Cialis and Tamiflu.

    Go figure.

    Well, regular old immediate-release niacin from your grocery store shelf works just as well. Plus, I think about it will be a whole lot easier on your wallet (non-time-release is often even less than $7!).

    For anyone with high cholesterol, I‘d suggest starting with 100 mg of it three times day. This is not really enough to get the job done, usually, but it can get you used to the flush. Once your tissues get used to that dose, you can increase to 250 or 500 mg three times day, but check with your doc.

    Also, if you take prescription niacin now, be sure to talk to your doctor before making the switch.

  10. Vitamin D conspiracy leads straight to Big Pharma

    You've probably heard about the bad rap vitamin D has been getting lately. The argument goes something like this...the vitamin D crisis isn't as bad as we thought. You probably don't need as much of it as we thought. But it's a free country. So go ahead and take 400 IU of it per day, if you want. That's more than enough. Just don't go over 4,000 IU per day. "High doses" like that can increase your risk for "harm." These new guidelines come from the U.S. Institute of Medicine (or IOM), a powerful non-profit agency that advises the nation of matters of health. But here's the problem: Their report is pure propaganda. In fact, I believe these low doses of vitamin D are a deliberate attempt to keep the American public needing more drugs until the day they die. (I'll admit,that sounds a tad paranoid. But I'll explain why my paranoia is well-founded in a moment.) First, let's look at the three major problems with the IOM research.

    Leave it to the IOM to redefine "majority"

    First off, the IOM report states that the "majority" of adults living in the U.S. get enough vitamin D...and that's just nonsense. As you'll recall, last week I told you about a major CDC study that found almost 80 percent of Americans don't get enough vitamin D. Plus, another major study published late last year by researchers from the University of Tennessee came up with similar results. In fact, this time researchers found that 87 percent of the general population is mildly to severely deficient in vitamin D. Even the most conservative estimates put vitamin D deficiencies at about 50 percent of the population. So how the IOM can confidently claim the "majority" of Americans get enough vitamin D, I have no idea!

    Spend a minute in the sun each day

    The IOM report also states that "North Americans need on average 400 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D per day. People age 71 and older may require as much as 800 IUs per day because of potential changes in people's bodies as they age." Again, this is pure nonsense. But before I go any further, here's a quick biochemistry primer... The IOM says you only need 400 IU of vitamin D. But they actually mean 400 IU of vitamin D3 (or cholecalciferol). Your skin makes this natural form of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. In fact, spending just 30 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, your skin will produce anywhere from 10,000 IU to 50,000 IU of D3! Plus, you can also take D3 as a supplement. Next... Vitamin D3 passes through your liver and it turns into a pre-hormone called 25-hydroxycholecalciferol. This is abbreviated as 25(OH)D. When you get a vitamin D blood test, we really want to see how much 25(OH)D is in your blood. We measure 25(OH)D in nanomoles per liter or nmol/l. Now, stick with me, because here's where it gets interesting... According to the IOM report, taking just 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day will give 97 percent of us a blood serum level of 50 nmol/l. And that level will protect us from fractures. Sounds okay, I guess. But let me put this another way to show you just how silly the IOM recommendation really is... Let's assume that your body makes 10,000 IU of D3 for every 30 minutes spent in the sun without sunscreen. (Most experts say you make at least twice that much...but let's not get picky.) So, how long does it take for your body to make 400 IU of D3? Hurray! Just 1.2 minutes in the sun! That's all you need to keep your bones strong. Is it me, or does that just sound wrong? Well, here's the good news. It isn't just me. It is wrong. And there's some solid scientific proof to back me up...

    IOM gets their numbers wrong

    Two major meta-analysis' from 2009 found that 50 nmol/l of 25(OH)D in your blood isn't enough to protect you from a fracture or a fall. In fact, 28 separate studies found that 50 nmol/l isn't enough! Plus, the International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends men and women have 75 nmol/l of 25(OH)D. This is what it takes to protect you from accidental falls and fractures. Lastly, numerous studies over the years show that the more 25(0H)D in your blood, the greater your bone density. But to get up to those higher levels of 25(OH)D, you need more D3. Plus, here's another interesting twist. The authors of the IOM report most likely knew about all this research...they just chose to ignore it. You see, before publishing the new vitamin D guidelines, the IOM board consulted with Dr. Walter Willet. The board even thanked Dr. Willet at the end of their report. So who's Dr. Willet? He's a vitamin D expert and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard. He also co-wrote one of the 2009 reports on vitamin D I mentioned earlier. The IOM, however, ignored his findings. But don't feel bad, Dr. Willet. Yours isn't the only research the IOM ignored...

    IOM report ignores research on vitamin D and disease

    Remember how I told you the IOM said 400 IU of D3 is enough to protect you against osteoporosis? Well, what about everything else...like cancer and heart disease? In a press conference, IOM chair Dr. Catherine Ross said "We could not find solid evidence that consuming more [vitamin D] would protect the public from chronic disease ranging from cancer to diabetes to improved immune function." And with that simple statement, Dr. Ross lost all credibility. Here are some of the best studies linking vitamin D and major diseases: Breast cancer: Women with vitamin D blood serum levels less than 50 nmol/mL are eight times more likely to develop an aggressive form of breast cancer. Colon cancer: Men and women with the highest vitamin D levels cut their colon cancer risk by 40 percent. Heart Disease & Stroke: Men and women with low vitamin D double their heart attack or stroke risk. Cognitive decline: Older women with low vitamin D are twice as likely to suffer cognitive impairment. Diabetes: A whopping 91 percent of diabetics have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Plus, the less vitamin D in their blood, the greater their blood sugar problems. And I'm just scratching the surface here! If you want to look at all the scientific data on vitamin D, the Vitamin D Council is a good place to start. They list the studies by disease, so you can see the all scientific data Dr. Catherine Ross and her colleagues missed. In closing, there's one last reason why the IOM report has the pungent smell of propaganda...

    There's a rat in the house

    Glenville Jones, PhD is one of the authors of the IOM report. He's a scientist and also the co-inventor of drug made by a company called Cytochroma. This drug is still in development....but what condition will they treat with their top-secret drug? You got it. Vitamin D deficiencies! (I'm not making this stuff up. You can see the patent for yourself at the U.S. Patent Office website.) Dr. Jones also sits on the scientific advisory board of a drug company called Receptor Therapeutics. These guys also made a synthetic vitamin D treatment for cancer...in fact THREE synthetic vitamin D treatments for cancer. (Drug companies use synthetic vitamin D because they can patent it and make a huge profit. You can't patent natural vitamin D.) Well, isn't that so thoughtful... You don't need to take vitamin D. But if you do happen to get cancer...guess who plans to have a vitamin D drug you can take? Here's the bottom line for you: Ignore anything published by the IOM. Take up to 5,000 IU of natural vitamin D3 each day. And avoid anything made by Cytochroma and Receptor Therapeutics. Want more facts about vitamin D? Look back at all the Guide to Good Health reports by following this link. In the search box, type "vitamin D" and you'll find 40 articles.
  11. The real facts about vitamin D

    According to a report presented by Dr. Catherine Ross and her colleagues from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the “majority” of Americans already get enough vitamin D. Of course, the mainstream press picked up this report and had a field day. Now here’s the problem: The report is pure hogwash. In fact, a major study conducted in Dr. Ross’ own backyard discredits the IOM’s finding completely.

    Take a look at the real facts…

    Between 1988 and 1994, CDC scientists examined 18,883 adult men and women living in the U.S. They found that only 45 percent had adequate blood serum levels of vitamin D (at least 30 nanograms per milliliter). Now, I’ll admit it, I’m not great at statistics. But according to my math that means 65 percent of the sample didn’t have enough vitamin D! Plus, get this… A decade later, the CDC scientists again sampled more than 13,000 Americans for vitamin D. This time, only 23 percent of the men and women had adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood. And just three percent of African-Americans had enough! So you tell me… How can the Dr. Ross and the IOM scientists say with confidence the “majority” of us get enough vitamin D? Clearly, someone is not reading her intra-office mail. (Yes, Dr. Ross, I mean you!) Well, for you, not much has changed. Have your blood serum levels tested annually. And if you’re vitamin D deficient, like most Americans, you can safely take up to 5,000 IU of D3 each day to turn things around.
  12. Magnesium deficiency could increase risk of sudden fatal heart attack

    Common mineral slashes risk for sudden cardiac death

    More often than not, a fatal cardiac arrest hits without warning. Called a "sudden cardiac death" or SCD, it hits men and women who didn‘t have high cholesterol. They didn‘t have high blood pressure. They didn‘t even have angina pain. But many of them did have one hidden problem. In fact, according to two new scientific studies, this little-known problem affects a shocking number of men and women who die suddenly from heart failure. Turns out they‘re deficient in a vital mineral that‘s involved in literally hundreds of biochemical functions...from energy metabolism to DNA repair. It also helps to relax your arteries, keeping your blood pressure low. It also seems to help prevent heart arrhythmias, the most common cause of sudden cardiac death.

    Lack of magnesium: Major health problem

    When it comes to minerals, calcium gets most of the attention. But low magnesium is a major health problem. In fact, I‘ve read estimates that say up to 90 percent of the adult population in the U.S. is magnesium deficient. And there are a couple of reasons why this happens...

    First off, most men and women don‘t eat enough fruits and vegetables. These (as well as nuts and beans) are the best natural sources for magnesium. Plus, even if you do eat plenty of fruits, veggies, and nuts, these foods just don‘t contain as much magnesium as they used to.

    You see, poor commercial farming practices over the last 100 years have robbed U.S. soil of magnesium. So a serving of spinach in 2010 doesn‘t contain nearly the same amount of magnesium that it did back in 1910.

    As a result, you probably need to take a supplement to get the Recommended Daily Allowance. (I recommend a slightly higher amount than the RDA for anyone concerned about heart health. More details in a moment.)

    Unfortunately, very few of us do get the RDA, and take a look at what can happen...

    Fatal cardiac arrest risk skyrockets

    U.S. researchers looked at data for 90,000 healthy women enrolled in the Nurses‘ Health Study. These women filled out questionnaires seven times between the years 1980 and 2002. They answered questions about the foods they ate and the supplements they took. Plus, two times during the course of that study, researchers gathered blood samples from the volunteers to check for magnesium levels.

    At the end of the 26-year study, researchers found that about 500 women suffered sudden cardiac deaths. This means that death occurred within one hour of symptom onset.

    And low magnesium intake definitely stood out as a compounding factor. In fact, researchers found that women with low magnesium intake (less than 261 mg per day) were 34 percent more likely to suffer a sudden cardiac death than women with adequate daily intake (more than 345 mg per day).

    Plus, here‘s what I want you to remember about magnesium: You need to take it every day.

    You see, about half of the magnesium you take each day gets stored in your tissues and organs. The other half combines with calcium and phosphorus in your bones. But a crucial one percent of your daily intake circulates in your blood. And this tiny amount may make all the difference in whether or not you die from cardiac arrest. But you have to take the mineral everyday to keep your blood levels constant.

    In fact, researchers found that women with high plasma magnesium gained a ton of protection. They were 77 percent less likely to die from cardiac arrest compared to women with the lowest blood plasma levels.

    In their report, the researchers didn‘t hold back: "Given that most Americans do not meet the RDA for magnesium, increasing intake of magnesium presents a potential opportunity for sudden cardiac death prevention in the general population."

    Plus a study from earlier this year published in the American Heart Journal garnered very similar results.

    High blood plasma magnesium cuts SCD risk by 40 percent
    For this study, U.S. researchers looked at magnesium blood plasma levels in 15,000 men and women with atherosclerosis. They found that those with the highest levels of magnesium in the blood had a 40 percent reduced risk of suffering a sudden cardiac death. And those with consistently high blood plasma magnesium decreased their risk the most. Plus, the reduction in risk held true even after the researchers accounted for pre- existing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Clearly, magnesium plays a major role in preventing fatality from cardiac arrest. To support your heart health, I‘d take 500 to 800 mg of it per day. I‘d also add in 1,000 mg of l-carnitine, 100 mg of coenzyme Q10, and 400 to 800 IU of vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols) for anyone concerned about heart failure. Plus, for more aggressive treatment, try adding the amino acid taurine to your regimen. It can be as effective as coenzyme Q10 for cardiac output, congestive heart failure, edema (swelling), and palpitations. Three grams per day may be necessary. It‘s best taken between meals for optimal absorption. I‘ll continue to write about real ways to combat heart disease...and I promise, not one will involve taking a drug.
  13. Lack of vitamin D increases depression risk by 85 percent

    Low vitamin D increases depression risk by 85 percent

    If there‘s such a thing as an all-natural happy pill, vitamin D looks to be it. In fact, scientists recently analyzed vitamin D levels for 8,000 young men and women between the ages 15 and 39. They found that volunteers deficient in vitamin D were 85 percent more likely to have depression compared to volunteers with adequate levels. And even though this study looked at young folks, I‘m sure the lack of vitamin D has an even greater affect on older folks, like me. Truthfully, this vitamin D study should come as no surprise. Vitamin D has a profound effect on the brain. In fact, it helps to boost your body‘s production of the "feel good" neurotransmitter serotonin. Just consider why so many northerners suffer from so-called "seasonal affective disorder" (or SAD). Could it be any plainer? Most of them just don‘t get enough sunshine (which your body converts into vitamin D) between October and March. As a result, their mood suffers. So if you‘re feeling a little down over the winter months or you know you have SAD, have your vitamin D levels checked. Optimally, your vitamin D blood levels should be at least 75 nanomoles per liter. In addition, everyone (especially those living in northern parts of the country) should take up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day. It‘s the form of vitamin D most easily absorbed by the body.
  14. Vitamin D and cancer: What you need to know

    Over the years, I've talked a lot about vitamin D and cancer. In fact, recent estimates suggest that vitamin D protects against 22 different types of malignancies including breast, colon and prostate cancer. Well, it may be time to add another type of cancer to the list. Two months ago, researchers found that vitamin D also protects you against bladder cancer. For the vitamin D and cancer study, published in the journal Cancer Research, scientists recruited 500 men to take part in the study. Each of them were cancer-free at the beginning of the study. Researchers took blood samples of the men between 1985 and 1988 to check for levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. This is what vitamin D converts into in the body. Then, they compared men diagnosed with bladder cancer against men who did not have the disease. They found that men with less than 25 nanomoles per liter of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were 73 percent more likely to develop bladder cancer compared to men with at least 50 nanomoles per liter. And though the study was conducted with male smokers, I'm certain they will get the same results with nonsmokers and women. You see, scientists believe vitamin D helps to flush toxins out of your bladder. It also promotes the healthy turnover of cells in the bladder. So even if you're a woman or a nonsmoker, continue taking your vitamin D every day. Go for up to 5,000 IU per day, especially if you live in the northern part of the country.
  15. 10 ways to reduce holiday stress

    There's a lot you can do to reduce holiday stress. First off, make sure to eat protein with every meal. It's the great stabilizer for your blood sugar and your mood. Plus, it will help keep your cortisol levels right where they should be. Cortisol is the stress hormone that causes your "fight or flight" response. We all need it from time to time. But low protein intake day after day can make your cortisol levels climb high and stay high. And that's not good. In fact, chronically elevated cortisol can cause blood sugar problems, weight gain, and lowered immunity. So aim to get 10 to 20 grams of protein with each meal. That will go a long way in regulating your cortisol. Breakfast is usually the one meal where you'll fall short on protein. But that's an easy fix. Just eat an egg or two will help with holiday stress. Each egg contains almost seven grams of protein. Just make sure to go for organic, free-range brown eggs. Get them from a local farmer, if you can! You'll know these eggs are the real deal if they have dark (almost orange) yolks and hard shells. And if you're worried about the cholesterol in eggs, look back at last year's Guide to Good Health. You'll never think twice about eating real eggs again! Any type of oily fish (yes, even in the morning!) is also a good protein choice. Oily fish like salmon also contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids. These natural substances help to lower those pesky cortisol levels which tend to creep up during the holidays. The omega-3s in fish can also help reduce holiday stress. Plus, remember this...

    Whole grains burn slower

    During the stress of the holidays, it's more important than ever to choose whole grains. These grains boost the levels of serotonin, the "feel good" chemical in the brain. Plus, whole grains are packed with fiber, which your body will burn more slowly. So opt for whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta at dinner. You won't suffer from the blood sugar crash that will make you cranky and tense. Good whole grains to work into your diet include: 100 percent whole wheat, oats, barley, quinoa, and brown rice. Okay, now we're really on a how to ease holiday stress roll. So why stop? This holiday, try your best to...

    Combine whole grains with nutrient-rich foods

    Make sure your meals contain lots of dark green vegetables. That's because dark greens such as broccoli, kale, and spinach contain lots of vitamin B. And the B vitamins keep your memory sharp, your energy high, and your anxiety low. Nuts also contain lots of B vitamins...as well as plenty of calming protein and magnesium. It's also a good idea to take a complex supplement that contains all eight forms vitamin B. Plus, look for a brand that contains at least 25 mg of B1, B2, and B6. But don't stop there. Around this time of year, you may even consider taking a little extra B-12. It's one of the most important in this family of vitamins. Known as the "energy vitamin," it will help you power through holiday stress on even your most hectic days. Go for the sub-lingual form that you can squirt under your tongue. Your body will absorb this more easily than tablets.

    Eat more citrus fruits

    Next, I want you to eat more citrus this holiday season. Clementines are great this time of year and they contain lots of vitamin C. Research shows that vitamin C is a natural and powerful stress buster. In fact, in a recent German study, researchers found that men and women who were given 1,000 mg of vitamin C showed fewer signs of stress. For the study, researchers divided 120 men and women into two groups. One group received 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily and the other group received a placebo. Next, the researchers subjected the volunteers to a series of stressful situations...public speaking and math problems. Then, the researchers measured the volunteers' blood pressure and cortisol levels. Any guesses which group fared better? You betcha. The volunteers who took vitamin C had much lower blood pressure and much lower cortisol levels. Plus, they reported feeling less stress after they got the vitamin. So in addition to eating citrus this holiday season, make sure to supplement with vitamin C. I'd go for a bit more than what the volunteers in the study took. In fact, strive to get at least 1,000 mg of C twice a day. Take that amount three times a day if you're really feeling like your pot's going to boil over, it will definitely help you reduce holiday stress. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so any extra your body doesn't need will get flushed. Plus, remember that vitamin C only stays in your body for a few hours at a time. So be consistent with your supplementing throughout the day and skip the time-released preparations as these are a waste of money.
  16. Vitamin D is critical to chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients

    Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a brutal disease. And the standard treatment usually calls for waiting until the symptoms to get bad enough so you can start chemotherapy. But according to a major new study, you don't have to play this helpless waiting game. You can help control the progression of the disease with the help of vitamin D.

    For the study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic and University of Iowa recruited 390 patients recently diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. First off, they checked the patients' blood levels for plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

    They found that roughly 30 percent of the patients were deficient in vitamin D (levels lower than 25 nanograms per milliliter). Then the researchers checked back in on all the patients three years later.

    Unfortunately, the disease progressed much faster in those deficient in vitamin D.

    In fact, patients low in the vitamin had a 66 percent greater risk of disease progression during that time compared to their counterparts. Plus, they had more than double the risk of dying.

    According to Dr. Shanafelt, lead researcher for the study, "This tells us that vitamin D insufficiency may be the first potentially modifiable risk factor associated with prognosis in newly diagnosed chronic lymphocytic leukemia. This finding may be particularly relevant for this kind of leukemia because although we often identify it at an early stage, the standard approach is to wait until symptoms develop before treating patients with chemotherapy. This watch and wait approach is difficult for patients because they feel there is nothing they can do to help themselves."

    So if you have chronic lymphocytic leukemia, show your oncologist this study. It was published on November 3, 2010 in the journal Blood. Once he gives you the okay, start taking 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. It's the form of vitamin D best absorbed in the body. Plus, though the study was limited to chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients, I strongly anyone struck with cancer to take extra vitamin D.

  17. Improve gum disease with omega-3 fatty acids

    A new study found that men and women who get daily amounts of omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce their risk of developing gum disease. Omega-3s are important to your oral health in two ways. First off, previous research shows that low doses of EPA, DHA, and ALA (all forms of omega-3 fatty acids) block the growth of oral pathogens, such as Streptococcus mutans, Candida albicans, and Porphyromonas ginigivalis. Plus... The latest study shows that omega-3s reduce inflammation in your gums. And that‘s a big deal. In fact, scientists believe it explains why men and women who ate foods containing moderate amounts of DHA and EPA were 20 percent less likely to develop gum disease. According to lead author Dr. Asghar Naqvi, Harvard Medical School, "To date, the treatment of periodontitis has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. Thus, a dietary therapy, if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis." "Our results also suggest that DHA ([in] doses recommended by the American Heart Association ...) may be as or more potent in influencing periodontitis," continued Dr. Naqvi. The easiest way to get plenty of DHA and EPA is with a fish oil supplement. Take it with meals to avoid the fishy aftertaste. Also, to combat the free radicals produced by the omega-3s in fish oil, take 400 IU of vitamin E along with it. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that will zap unwanted free radicals. Just look for all-natural vitamin E with mixed tocopherols.
  18. Skip the sedative hypnotic drugs and get a safer night sleep

    A recent study found that men and women who take sedatives to sleep may increase their mortality risk by more than a third. Now, I know that lack of sleep is a huge problem, especially if you‘re under a lot of stress. But if you take a drug like Ambien to catch some z‘s, you could be heading for disaster. The good news is, there are plenty of safe and natural sleep aids that won‘t send you to an early grave. More about those in a moment. But first, let me explain...

    Why sedatives are so bad

    According to some research, 20 percent of adults use some type of sleep aid each night. You may take an OTC drug like Tylenol PM to help get you through a rough couple of nights. These drugs contain antihistamines plus pain relievers. These drugs are tough on the liver and your digestive system, but they‘re not nearly in the same league as a prescription drug like Ambien. Ambien belongs to a class of drugs called sedative hypnotics. And there are two distinct types of sedative hypnotics. The first type of sedatives -- called benzodiazepines -- hit the market in the 1950s. Xanax and Ativan are the most well-known. Side effects range from daytime sleepiness to urinary incontinence to respiratory problems. But the biggest drawback for these heavy-duty drugs is the tendency to become dependent on them. Plus, these drugs stay in your system longer than a newer class of hypnotics called non-benzodiazepines. And that‘s why the more recent drugs like Ambien have been such blockbusters. They‘re perceived as safer and less addicting. But according to the new study, they‘re just as dangerous...if not more so because you think you‘re safe taking them for a longer period.

    Sedative drug use may increase mortality risk by 36 percent

    For this study, scientists analyzed data for 14,000 people. They found that men and women who took a sedative hypnotic drug had a 36 percent greater risk of dying. And those at greatest risk were men and women over age 55. In addition, men and women with pre-existing health conditions -- such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, or respiratory disease -- also ran a greater risk of dying after taking a sedative. According to the published report, there are a number of reasons why this happens... First off, both types of sedative hypnotic drugs impair your ability to stay alert. They also affect your coordination. This -- they authors wrote -- contributes to an increase in falls and car accidents. Secondly, we know that these drugs can also trigger or aggravate breathing disorders. So imagine what taking a sedative will do to someone who‘s already got sleep apnea or asthma...or someone who smokes! It‘s a recipe for disaster. Lastly, these drugs may cause depression...or make existing depression worse. They can also play games with your central nervous system. As a result, feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin can be disturbed. Therefore, I‘m guessing that some of the premature deaths in the study may have occurred due to suicide. So if sedative drugs aren‘t the answer to your sleep problems...what is?

    Safely and naturally improving your sleep

    You already know to keep your room a cool, dark, TV-free zone. And exercising before bed will just rev you up. Plus, here are few other tips that should help you get back to a healthy sleep pattern... 1. Get off all stimulants. Yup, even in the morning. Coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate are the obvious culprits. But you should also avoid taking ginseng, B12, or milk thistle before bed too. You‘ll also want to avoid eating bacon, cheese, chocolate, ham, potatoes, sugar, sausage, spinach, or tomatoes close to bedtime. These foods contain tyramine, which increases the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant. Most processed foods also contain tyramine. 2. Try upping your daily magnesium. Go for 500 mg capsules at bedtime. If you also suffer from mild anxiety, this amount of magnesium may also lessen your symptoms. 3. If you‘re under the age of 40, try using l-tryptophan. It‘s an essential amino acid found in turkey, chicken, tuna, whole grain crackers, eggs, bananas, figs and dates. So, if you must eat before bed, these are all safe choices. But of course, to get enough l-tryptophan from food, you‘d have too eat a lot of it— nothing like a whole turkey before bed, right? So supplementing is ideal. L- tryptophan will help gently induce sleep. Plus, unlike many drugs, it won‘t cause morning-after fogginess. That said, unfortunately, if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you may have trouble absorbing l-tryptophan. So if that‘s the case, stick to the other options. 4. I‘ve also seen excellent results using melatonin supplements. Just beware, melatonin is a hormone. So I don‘t recommend taking it if you‘re younger than 40. But as we get older, our melatonin production slows down so there‘s less of a chance of you getting "too much" by taking it as a supplement. Go for the smallest dose to start: 1.5 mg at bedtime for ages 40 to 50 or 3 mg for people over the age of 50. With higher dosages, you might wake up drowsy. If that‘s the case, you know you‘ve taken too much. 5. After a certain age, many of us wake up every night to visit the bathroom. If you want to get ahead of the curve and support healthy bladder function now, there‘s a plant extract call three-leaf caper that just might help. Used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, three-leaf caper strengthens and tones the bladder wall so it can empty more fully. You‘ll find three-leaf caper, along with several other herbs that support bladder function, in a NorthStar Nutritional product called UroLogic. To learn more about three-leaf caper and UroLogic, read this: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/p/UroLogic.htm. For men interested in a product that supports bladder as well as prostate function, consider ProSense by NorthStar Nutritionals: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/p/ProSense.htm. It‘s a safe, natural, and effective way to address both bladder and prostate health. Just remember, when you sleep it‘s your body‘s time to refresh and reboot. It‘s vital for your overall health. So if you‘re not getting enough restful z‘s, give one of these natural sleep aids a try.
  19. Study finds link between vitamin E and prostate cancer

    Scientists from Australia found that vitamin E might play a major role hampering the development and re-growth of prostate cancer tumors. For the study, Dr. Patrick Ling and a team of researchers injected mice with prostate cancer cells. Then, they divided the mice into two groups. They fed one group of mice water fortified with a form of vitamin E called gamma-tocotrienol or y-T3. The other group of mice drank regular water. Researchers found that 70 percent of the vitamin E mice never went on to develop prostate cancer tumors, despite being injected with malignant cells. And, yes, the remaining 30 percent did develop prostate cancer. But following surgery, their tumors were far less likely to re-grow or metastasize. On the other hand, tumors formed in 100 percent of the control group of mice not given vitamin E. Those incredible results, though tested on mice, show just how powerful vitamin E really is. According to Dr. Ling, "Currently there is no effective treatment for metastatic prostate cancer, because it grows back after conventional therapies in more than 70 percent of cases. But with [vitamin E3] researchers have found a better way to treat prostate cancer, which has the potential to inhibit recurrence of the disease." Dr. Ling went on to say that chemo, radiation, and hormone therapy fail to cure prostate cancer because they don‘t kill the cancer stem cell responsible for the re-growth of tumors. He also believes that y-T3 will also prove effective in suppressing other types of cancer, including breast, colon, liver and stomach. Dr. Ling and his team do have a clinical trial with men in the works. I‘ll pass on the results as soon as they‘re available. In the meantime, keep up the daily regimen of 400 IU of vitamin E. Choose only 100 percent natural vitamin E that contains mixed tocopherols. This will provide provide balanced antioxidant protection. At the very least, the bottle should say it contains d-alpha or D-alpha. Skip any bottle that says it contains Dl-alpha (note the different "Dl" prefix). This means it‘s a synthetic, cheap imitation of vitamin E. Plus, it probably won‘t contain y-T3.
  20. Antioxidant eases tinnitus in four weeks

    For anyone who has tinnitus (or ringing in the ears) that won‘t go away, a new natural treatment holds a lot of promise. Pine bark extract is a powerful antioxidant that improves blood flow, even to the inner ear. And that‘s exactly why it‘s gaining attention as a natural treatment for tinnitus. You see, many researchers believe lack of blood flow to your ear triggers tinnitus. But if you can improve blood flow to the ear, the ringing in your ears will improve as well. To see if this theory held any weight, Italian researchers recently tested pine bark extract on 82 patients with tinnitus. They divided the volunteers into three groups. The first group received 100 mg of pine bark extract per day for four weeks, the second got 150 mg and the third got a placebo. Researchers found that blood flow to the inner ear improved in both groups taking the pine bark extract. Plus, at the study‘s outset, the researchers gave volunteers the Subjective Tinnitus Scale (STS). It‘s a test to evaluate the symptoms of tinnitus. Following the pine bark supplementation, the volunteers‘ symptoms decreased in severity. In fact, the group taking 100 mg of pine bark dropped from 8.8 to 5.2. And the group taking 150 mg dropped to just 3.3. That‘s an improvement of 60 percent! Pine bark has a very good safety record. But because it does affect your circulation, make sure to consult with your doctor before trying it.

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