NorthStar Nutritionals Blog

Join the conversation and stay up to date on all your natural health news. Plus, discover solutions to everything from arthritis to blood sugar.

  1. New lasting hope for psoriasis sufferers

    In a new study out of Taiwan, a common plant extract has been shown to work wonders for more than 70% of psoriasis sufferers.

    Of the patients who completed the study, 25 out of 34 patients experienced a complete (or nearly complete) clearing of psoriasis plaques when treated with a soothing, all-natural topical ointment. Additionally, limited side effects were reported. Only 4 out of 34 patients experienced mild, short-term itching.

    This is huge news for patients who suffer from psoriasis, generally considered a chronic, incurable disease for more than 5.5 million Americans.

    >Psoriasis has long puzzled both conventional and alternative doctors around the world. While some nutritionists believe a high fat diet is to blame, others argue that fatty acid deficiencies trigger the disease. Still others argue think it’s caused by a build-up of toxins in the intestines.

    Standard medical options usually include the use of topical steroids to treat flare-ups. But long-term use of these lotions can lead to thinning of the skin. Some complementary treatments include acupressure, fatty acid supplements, and UV treatments. But few of these alternatives offer much long-term relief to psoriasis sufferers.

    That’s why this study, though small in scope, shows so much promise.

    The clinical study involved 42 patients in Taiwan who had suffered from psoriasis for at least two years. Patients were accepted into the study if they had serious chronic psoriasis that had not improved despite at least two different mainstream medical treatments.

    Once accepted into the study, patients applied a medicated ointment to a psoriasis plaque on one side of their body (usually on the arm, elbow, leg or knee) once a day for 12 weeks.

    An herbal extract called indigo naturalis was the ointment’s key ingredient.

    Indigo naturalis has been used for centuries in China and Taiwan to treat common infections and inflammatory diseases such as mumps, pharyngitis and eczema. (It’s generally used with caution as long-term systemic use has been linked to GI and liver problems. Side effects for topical use have not been thoroughly identified.)

    On the other side of their body, participants applied a placebo (or non-medicated ointment). Researchers then checked and photographed the patients‘ skin plaques at the beginning of the study and again after two, four, six, eight, 10 and 12 weeks.

    Here’s what they found:

    • Overall, the indigo naturalis ointment-treated lesions showed an 81 percent improvement.
    • The placebo-treated lesions showed a 26 percent improvement.
    • Of the 34 patients who completed the study, not one patient experienced a worsening of the areas treated with indigo naturalis.
    • While a few patients experienced a mild skin allergy, none experienced serious adverse effects. Four patients reported itching for a few days after beginning treatment.

    Most importantly…

    74% of participants experienced a complete or nearly complete remission of the psoriasis plaques on the side treated with indigo naturalis.

    This is a great start and the first new hope for psoriasis sufferers that I’ve seen in years. I’m hopeful that research will continue with a larger clinical trial that pays close attention to the possible long-term side effects. I’ll keep you posted if a new trial on U.S. soil ever materializes.

    Unfortunately, the indigo ointment isn’t available for purchase in the United States.

    However, based on a quick Google search, I believe some brave souls have begun to try making their own ointment.

    Here’s what they did:

    1. Purchased indigo naturalis as dry powder.
    2. Ground up a small sample into a fine powder.
    3. Combined a few grams, as the researchers did, with petroleum jelly, yellow wax (I assume you could use beeswax), and olive oil.
    4. Applied it once a day to an isolated patch of psoriasis for 12 weeks.

    I have also read of success using indigo naturalis in treating psoriasis of the scalp. Try mixing a couple of grams of fine powder with shampoo for relief of psoriasis of the scalp.

    Since this is such a new treatment for psoriasis, there’s not much anecdotal evidence available. If you decide to give it a try, please let me know how it works and if you experience any side effects.

  2. Pour yourself a tall glass of sunshine

    Looks like our country’s finest pediatricians are playing catch up, once again.

    A new report out this week from the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) states that kids should get 400 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D per day. And while you may not know how IUs are measured, what’s important to understand is that many kids (and most adults, for that matter) don’t get enough of this essential vitamin.

    We’ve been talking about upping our vitamin D intake for years in the Guide to Good Health. (Yes—the AAP is a little late coming to the party.)

    It’s one of the fundamentals of good health and protects us against a laundry list of problems as adults, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.

    But—hey—at least the AAP is starting to get the picture. Better late than never, right?
    Well…not so fast.

    Here’s the danger with the AAP’s report…

    Most parents will just skim the headline about getting more vitamin D and go fill their kids’ sippy cups with vitamin D fortified milk from the grocery store. It’s healthy, right?

    Well, not exactly.

    The truth is—cow’s milk only contains 100 IUs of vitamin D per serving. Kids would have to drink four glasses of it to get enough vitamin D for the day. And that’s a whole lot of milk by anyone’s standards.

    Plus, the pasteurized, homogenized milk you find in the grocery store is hardly what I’d call healthy. It contains trace antibiotics. It’s tough to digest. And it’s linked to a whole slew of diseases.

    (If you want to read more about the downsides of drinking pasteurized milk, just click on http://hsionline.com/2003/03/24/antibiotics-in-milk).

    So if milk’s not the answer, what is?

    As an alternative to milk, the AAP wants kids to get their vitamin D through supplements. And that’s a good option, but not your only option. Here are 4 simple steps for all of us (not just kids) to get more vitamin D:

    Step 1: Spend more time in the sunshine!
    Hands down, the best way to get more vitamin D is to spend more time outside. Do your best to get 30 minutes a day in the sun. In just one 30 minute session, you can absorb up to 20,000 IUs of vitamin D!

    But here’s the real kicker…leave off the sunscreen! Just 30 minutes a day won’t raise your risk of skin cancer. Just avoid the scorching, mid-day summer sun.

    Step 2: Eat more fish!
    Most of us forget that fish, especially salmon, is super rich in vitamin D. In fact, just one serving of salmon contains 600 IUs of vitamin D. (That’s more than 6 times the amount found in vitamin D milk.) If you don’t like salmon, try tuna fish or cod liver oil capsules. They’re great alternatives.

    Step 3: Eat more eggs!
    That’s right. Eat more eggs. Each yolk contains 25 IUs of vitamin D. Just make sure you eat them hard boiled, soft-boiled, poached, or sunny-side-up because that will leave the yolk intact and you’ll get the most vitamin D that way. (Most of the bad press about eggs stems from a misunderstanding about cholesterol, but that’s another whole issue we’ll discuss at another time). In the case of children, just make sure an egg allergy doesn’t exist.

    Step 4: Choose a good multivitamin and use it wisely!
    Supplementing with vitamin D is a great start, but you shouldn’t stop there. The addition of a multivitamin to your regimen is essential to protecting your health. Here are some tips about picking a good multivitamin:

    • Avoid discount store brands. These bottles are actually more expensive, considering how few nutrients they contain.
    • Ignore multivitamins containing 100% of your ‘Recommended Daily Allowance’ or RDA. The RDA is a complete crock and you need much more than the RDA of most vitamins and minerals.
    • Here’s the easiest way to spot a good multivitamin. Scan the B vitamin column. If the supplement contains at least 25 mg or higher of vitamin B, the supplement is probably okay.
    • Take your vitamins with meals. This maximizes nutrient absorption.
    • Avoid hard pill forms. These are hard to digest. Capsules are more easily absorbed by your body.

    Vitamin D is a true nutritional powerhouse. Glad the AAP is starting to catch on. And you can be sure, in the days ahead that scientists will uncover even more reasons for us all to keep taking it. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as these new studies roll in.

  3. You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!

    Yes, I nearly screamed when I read about the new pseudo-food ingredient you may find in your next tub of ice cream. It’s mysteriously called “PGMS” and supposedly will help prevent those frothy ice crystals from magically appearing on the top of your week-old Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Proudly introduced in the Journal of Food Science by Danisco, PGMS is actually already used extensively in processed foods, such as cake mixes. And guess what else? It’s a common ingredient in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Whatever happened to good ole’ cream and sugar (as if that weren’t dangerous enough!)? My suggestion? Stay away from the Ben & Jerry’s, guys, and reach for a crisp, delicious apple from your local farmer’s market instead. They’re perfect this time of year…and you won’t find a speck of “PGMS” anywhere in the list of ingredients!
  4. Radiation linked to more breast cancer in young patients!

    Radiation therapy is given to women with breast cancer following surgery to kill any fugitive cancer cells. It’s generally considered a preventative measure, aimed at stopping a recurrence in the afflicted breast. But a new study out by Danish scientists shows that radiation may actually cause breast cancer in the opposite (or contralateral) breast in very young patients. Danish scientists looked at more than 7,000 breast cancer survivors given radiation following surgery. They found that:
    • Young women (younger than 35) who received radiation after surgery for breast cancer had a 78% greater risk of developing a new tumor in the opposite breast.
    • And the risk jumps even higher for women who have a strong family history (3 or more family members) of breast cancer.
    • Women younger than 45 who received radiation after surgery for breast cancer had a slight increased risk of developing (a 1.5-fold increased risk) cancer in the opposite breast.
    This should serve as an urgent warning for anyone stricken at a young age with breast cancer. Make sure you thoroughly question your doctor about the safety of radiation before signing on the dotted line! It just may save your life!
  5. Cannot even trust a glass of water

    When I was a kid, we used to drink water right from the garden hose…and think nothing of it. Today, it’s almost unthinkable to drink a glass of water from the tap in your very own kitchen. We have everything from Britas and Pur filters for your drinking water - to expensive reverse osmosis systems designed to filter every drop that comes into your house. But why? What are we so afraid of drinking? Where do I start… For a long time lead and other heavy metals were the big fears. And not that they’re any less of a danger today than they once were…we just don’t hear as much about them. The same goes for those pesky little microbes. One reason we may not hear about them is because most filters - even the inexpensive Brita filters - are able to remove most of these toxins before they get into our drinking glasses. More recently, it was discovered that prescription drugs – by way of the toilet – are finding their way into the drinking water. So while you may not be on any drugs currently - if your neighbor’s taking a drug…chances are you’re getting a little too. And at this point, we’re not sure if our household filters can remove these types of toxins. But the latest tap water news might be the most troubling yet - for two reasons. For one, health-savvy folks like you and I have already known about this for years. But secondly, because the U.S. government is now in agreement with us…which typically means it’s far worse than they’re letting on. It turns out, a government-sponsored report is showing that the “beneficial” fluoride, intentionally added to the drinking water of most U.S. communities, may be doing significantly more harm than good. The biggest threat noted in the report is to the thyroid gland. Flouride can disrupt the production of thyroid hormone – and by doing so could mean serious heart problems, elevated cholesterol, significant weight gain (or loss) and depression to name a few. For a healthy male, all it takes is about 3.5 mg of fluoride per day to illicit toxicity. Most fluoridated water supplies deliver about 1 mg per liter. That means, it takes less than a gallon of water to reach toxic levels of fluoride. And for people who’re iodine deficient, less than one milligram of fluoride a day could be toxic! But this report only covers the effects of fluoride on your thyroid gland! Other studies have shown correlations between fluoride consumption and bone cancer, weakened immune systems and the inhibition of melatonin production as well. Those of you who’re drinking well water are probably a fair shake safer already. But unfortunately for the rest of us, inexpensive filters like Pur and Brita state right on their packaging that they don’t filter out “beneficial fluoride.” So what can be done about this? You can write to your congressman and other local municipality heads about halting the addition of fluoride to your water. But even with a strong enough outcry, it could be eons before anything is done about it. Which leaves portable distillers or reverse osmosis systems, or the hassle/expense of bottled spring water (my personal favorite). While it is a small price to pay for the future of your health...for some households, it’s simply not an option. Unfortunately, I’m at a loss for another solution. All we can do for now is hope this government-sponsored report turns into something other than waste-basket filler.
  6. Aspirin Could Lower PSA Scores

    A recent study, published in the journal, Cancer, reports that aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs may artificially lower a man’s PSA score. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen - an enzyme long considered an important marker for presence of prostate cancer. And although, more recent research has brought the significance of PSA scores into question, the fact remains than men who regularly use anti-inflammatory drugs saw average PSA scores that were 10 percent lower than those who didn’t use the drugs. At this time, researchers aren’t sure if the drugs are just lowering PSA levels or if they have a legitimate impact on prostate cancer risk. Additional studies are planned.
  7. Do not worry - the FDA is on it

    When I think about a powerful, dedicated, hard-nosed entity designed to protect and educate U.S. citizens on all things health related, Slim Good-body comes to mind long before the FDA. But they’re working on that… In the last year or so, the FDA has been under constant fire from doctors, patients, special interest groups, politicians and everyone in between. For a while it seemed like every week another FDA-approved drug was in the spotlight for doing more harm than good. In fact, just this week, a report slid out under the radar that the rheumatoid arthritis drugs, Enbrel, Remicade, Humira and Cimzia, may cause deadly fungal infections. (But don’t worry, the FDA is on this too…stronger warnings on the packaging will save the day.) In all these cases, the one source everyone was looking to for answers—the one source that should have had all the answers—seemed to be the most in the dark. In fact, an exasperated FDA openly admitted that they are not able to adequately perform their duties. But again, they’re working on that. In an effort to come clean and be completely up front with a fed-up and worried health-conscious pubic, the FDA has started posting a quarterly list of drugs that are currently under investigation. They’ve aptly titled it, Potential Signals of Serious Risks/New Safety Information Identified by the Adverse Event. They started with a list of 20 drugs last Friday and announced it proudly like a kid who’s finally managed to tie his own shoes. It’s a great idea, but of little worth to the people who’re already taking these drugs. It’s simply a list of drugs in one column with a semi-cryptic “why this drug is on here” list in the other. With descriptions (or as the FDA calls them “Potential Signals of Serious Risk”) ranging from “adverse events due to name confusion” and “dosing confusion” to cancer and something called “purple glove syndrome” – it’s hard to see how this is helpful. So, what do you do if you’re taking one of these medications? That’s a good question…and the FDA’s quarterly report doesn’t even attempt to answer it. However, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Dr. Janet Woodcock, says, “My message to patients is this: don’t stop taking your medicine. If your doctor has prescribed a drug that appears on this list, you should continue taking it unless your doctor advises you differently.” What she’s saying, in essence, is that the FDA doesn’t want to be held responsible for the potential risks of using a drug. She’d rather see your doctor held responsible. And where does your doctor learn about these drugs? Well, most of the information comes from greedy, self-serving drug reps or…the FDA, who just learned how to tie their own shoes…sort of. In their defense this is certainly a positive step. And the FDA head of safety communication, Dr. Paul Seligman, admits, “…there is some work and refinement that needs to be done.” But in the mean time, the FDA seems just as bumbling, inconsistent and inadequate as they ever were.
  8. Marinade Away Your Risk of Cancer

    You may be able to marinade away your risk of cancer! As you may already know, cooking meat at high temperatures increases the presence of certain compounds (called HCAs) that are thought to increase risk of stomach, colon, pancreatic and breast cancers. However, when researchers at Kansas State University marinated 3.3 ounces of beef for about an hour, in either a Caribbean, herbed or Southwest marinade (all of which had a least two spices in the mint family), they saw a drop in the presence of HCAs by 88, 72 and 57 percent respectively. So not only are marinades a tasty addition to the meat, but a potential health saver as well!
  9. An apple a day keeps the doctor away - but orange juice cures cancer

    At least that’s what researchers at the National Institutes of Health are reporting. To be fair, the treatment requires way more than a few glasses of orange juice. In actuality, it requires massive doses of intravenous vitamin C. Just how promising is the treatment? Well, Dr. Scott Greenberg of the Magaziner Center for Wellness in Cherry Hill, NJ has treated several patients successfully. For example, one of Greenberg’s patients was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to his brain, and yet another had breast cancer that could be seen protruding from her chest. Both were told their situations were grim. However, after several months both patients responded well to the vitamin C treatment, and today both are doing well and appear to be cancer free. In fact, the breast cancer patient is past the critical five-year mark—typically considered a full remission. While some researchers believe the treatment works by killing the cancer cells outright, others believe it is vitamin C’s powerful antioxidant protection at work. Both theories are right, to a degree. You see, just like chemotherapy, vitamin C produces hydrogen peroxide in the body—the same stuff you’ve been using to kill germs on cuts and abrasions all your life. Hydrogen peroxide has a powerful oxidizing effect inside the body. And while oxidation (often referred to as free radical damage) is largely considered a bad thing, the flood of oxygen that results from the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide within the body actually destroys cancer cells—leaving healthy cells unharmed while super-charging the immune system. However, unlike chemotherapy, side-effects are essentially non-existent. And, although the vitamin C treatment is not currently covered by insurance, the price of each treatment is only $125. Compare that to chemo and radiation therapies which can easily reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dr. Greenberg says that the therapy can be used in conjunction with more traditional therapies. But, just as is the case with chemo and radiation, the treatment doesn’t work for everyone. But it’s certainly worth the effort for patients battling with cancer.
  10. Flu Vaccines and Seniors

    Riding on the heals of last week’s article on the measles vaccine, this week I read a report from Canadian researchers, from the University of Alberta. They looked at roughly 700 seniors—half of which had received the flu vaccine. Their results show that the flu vaccine offers no reduction in the chances of dying…for any reason…including the flu. They go on to report that, despite a dramatic increase in the vaccination rate amongst seniors (from 15 to 65 percent in the last 20 years) there has been no drop in the rate of hospital admissions or deaths. Just one more reason to forgo the needle and maintain a healthy, nutrient and antioxidant-rich diet—doing so is an exercise in prevention that few needles can compete with.
  11. Get stuck now, or get sick later?

    Doctors and health officials are worried about an impending measles epidemic. They say measles outbreaks are at the highest levels in over a decade. The reason for this impending epidemic? Well, those same doctors and health officials believe it can be attributed to the fact that more and more children are skipping the measles vaccination. It seems all of the bad press attributed to the mercury content in some vaccinations has caused a stir. An increasing number of parents are trying to side-step the public school vaccination requirements by claiming religious exemption or by home-schooling their children. So just how serious of a situation is this? Well, as of the end of July 2008, there have been a grand total of 131 measles cases—compared to only 42 last year. A significant increase to be sure, but an epidemic? Hardly. They go on to report that of those cases, 122 patients were unvaccinated. But admit that some of those cases were children under the age of one—too young to have received the vaccine. Plus, according to 2006 data, vaccination rates have stayed consistently above 92 percent. But if that’s the case, how can a “dramatic” increase in measles cases be attributed to an apparently minimal decrease in vaccinations? It can’t. If you ask me, it sounds like some clever math designed by someone who wants to scare parents into getting their children vaccinated. So should you be scared? No. Measles is completely curable. In fact, despite the increase in actual cases, there isn’t a single reported death this year. So leave the scare tactics to Hollywood…and the math to the true mathematicians.
  12. The Benefits of Chewing Gum

    Chewing gum is a tasty, low-calorie snack with a rather broad array of “off-label” uses. Some use it as a tool for weight loss—chewing a stick of gum instead chowing down on a snack. Others use it as a tool to quit smoking—offsetting the oral fixation that’s so hard to kick. A recent Wrigley’s study found chewing gum may even help sharpen memory and focus. But believe it or not, research is now showing that chewing gum can help speed up the recovery of patients who’ve had portions of their colon removed. Scientists believe that chewing gum stimulates the release of saliva and other digestive enzymes, thereby kicking the entire digestive tract back into gear after the trauma of a surgery. In studies, those who chewed sugarless gum three times a day for five to 45 minutes, saw decreases in the amount of time before passing gas or having a bowel movement, compared to those who did not chew gum.
  13. Calling off the attack...on yourself

    Autoimmune disorders are a debilitating class of diseases in which the body’s own immune system attacks itself. For example, in cases of multiple sclerosis, the immune system attacks the central nervous system. Lupus on the other hand, can go after just about any organ or system in the body. And for people suffering with rheumatoid arthritis, it’s the joints that take a beating. Unfortunately for the ladies, they seem to be the most susceptible. At about 79 percent, women make up the vast majority of autoimmune disease sufferers. And symptoms tend to first occur during, or just after, puberty. Unfortunately, no one knows exactly what triggers the immune system to go on such a self-destruct mission. And while there are often ways to treat the symptoms of these diseases…definitive cures remain elusive. But an experimental new treatment, geared specifically at fighting rheumatoid arthritis, could mean a cure for a whole array of autoimmune diseases. The goal of the treatment is to reset the immune system—turning it back to a “pre-disease” state. To do this, researchers remove a patient’s own white blood cells and treat them with an assortment of steroids and vitamins. Scaling back the immune response and reverting the affected cells to, what researchers call, a “dormant” state. The cells are then injected back into the affected joint where they are expected to “behave themselves” moving forward. So far this process has only been carried out in a lab. A safety trial, of just eight patients, is currently in the planning stages with larger-scale studies to follow if it’s successful. The success of these trials could mean incredible improvements in the treatment of other autoimmune disorders as well. However, it sounds like the biggest drawbackwill be the expense. Right now each treatment is estimated to be well into the thousands. And will only be effective for each individually injected joint. There’s also the looming question: if we don’t know what triggers the autoimmune response in the first place. How do we know a similar set of circumstances won’t re-trigger such a response in the treated cells? In the mean time, I’ll keep you posted on any further developments.
  14. Can stress make your allergies worse?

    They say stress is a killer, but researchers at Ohio State University found that it can also make your allergies worse (hard to say which is the lesser of two evils!). In a study of 28 men and women with hay fever, researchers found that when made to do high-stress tasks (in this case, give a ten minute speech and answer math questions in front of people), allergic reactions tested 75 to 100 percent higher than during periods of low stress. In fact, they were up to four times more likely to still show signs of allergic reaction the following day. So, for you seasonal allergy sufferers…here’s one more reason to keep tabs on your stress levels and maintain an even keel.
  15. Hands off my prostate!

    My colleague, Dr. William Campbell Douglass must be dancing a jig. A long-time opponent of unnecessary medical testing, the mainstream has finally come around to his way of thinking…at least as it pertains to prostate exams. Although prostate cancer is the leading cause of death among American men, in many cases, the tumors grow so slowly that, rather than treat the disease, doctors opt for “watchful waiting.”In other words, they postpone treatment and keep an eye on the progression of the disease. Only moving into “treatment mode” if and when the disease worsens. But the latest research (at least as far as the mainstream is concerned) shows that prostate cancer treatments may actually do more harm than the disease itself. Leaving many men incontinent, impotent or both—especially for men over 75. And now, there’s evidence that doctors should stop doing routine prostate screening for men in this same age group as well. Of course, Dr. Douglass would tell you mammograms and all needle biopsies should come to an end as well—but I suppose we’ll have to accept our small victories when we can. The PSA test, long considered a standard for prostate screening, has been shown to indicate false positives anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the time. Leading to painful and unnecessary biopsies that often turn up nothing. And in a prepared statement, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, wrote that they “could not find adequate proof that early detection leads to fewer men dying of the disease.” In fact, a recent study showed that among men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer and chose to forgo treatment, most were still alive 10 years later, without significant symptoms. Or they had died of unrelated causes. So what does this mean for you? It means if you’re over 75, it’s worth asking your doctor if a prostate screening is really necessary. Especially, if you’re living without any obvious symptoms like pain, incontinence or difficulty urinating. And if you’ve already been diagnosed with prostate cancer, depending upon which treatment options your doctor has suggested, you may want to ask your doctor if “watchful waiting” might be an appropriate course of action for you.
  16. Treating babies for erectile dysfunction?

    When a drug has FDA approval to treat one condition, but is then prescribed by a doctor to treat another, it‘s called an "off-label" use. It‘s nothing new. In fact, contrary to what logic would dictate, the FDA is actually all for it. And, although drug companies are strictly forbidden to market their products for off-label uses, there‘s nothing to stop them from sending the results of their (often-biased) studies to doctors showing that "drug A" may actually be very helpful in treating "condition B." For example, the cancer drug Avastin is sometimes prescribed to treat macular degeneration, the anti-seizure drug Neurontin is sometimes used to treat hot flashes in menopausal women... ...and doctors at the All Children‘s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL are treating babies with Viagra. No, these babies aren‘t being treated for erectile dysfunction (incidentally, the only condition that Viagra has approval for). They‘re being treated for pulmonary hypertension - a condition that affects approximately one in every 500-700 newborns. Pulmonary hypertension is the constriction or obstruction of the arteries in a newborn baby‘s lungs. This prevents the proper flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body - a potentially serious condition. Especially for a newborn. Viagra, it seems, works for a baby‘s lungs the same way it works in a man‘s penis - by opening up the constricted arteries and allowing blood to flow where it needs to flow. However, Viagra also carries many of the same risks for babies that it does for grown men. Including a dangerous drop in blood pressure, which can lead to unconsciousness. Appalling to say the least!, But even more importantly, what kind of long-term effects does this kind of treatment have on the tiny developing body of a newborn? No one knows. So it begs the question... Did anyone in the medical mainstream think to try a natural alternative? Especially when a completely natural amino acid like l-arginine can have the same benefits with none of the side-effects. It works essentially the same way Viagra does, opening blood vessels, allowing them to carry blood to the penis. And studies have even shown that men supplementing with l-arginine have seen dramatic improvement in erectile dysfunction. It would follow then, that l-arginine might be a far less risky solution for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension in babies. But did anyone in the medical mainstream think to try a natural alternative? Of course not.
  17. The Benefits of Fish Oil

    Fish oil‘s back in the news — and for a good reason. The list of benefits is getting longer and longer. As you know, fish oil is rich in the omega-3 essential fatty acids EPA and DHA. Both of which are also known to help support healthy circulation, cholesterol levels and promote healthy skin, hair and nails. But some very preliminary research, conducted at the University of Surrey and published in Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, show that EPA and DHA may be of help to people with insulin resistance as well. In a very small pilot study, supplements consisting of 440mg of EPA and 660mg of DHA were shown to increase insulin sensitivity…a tremendous benefit to patients with diabetes. It‘s too soon and this was too small a study to draw any solid correlations…but I will keep you posted as research on the topic becomes available.
  18. GSK dubs natural fountain of youth a drug

    Why does science have to continually move in and poke its nose where Nature‘s already got things covered? A number of recent studies have shown that the people who eat the fewest daily calories tend to live the longest. Theories assume that, less food means less of a tax on your body to digest it, resulting in fewer free radicals and fewer toxins. Plus, the resultant weight loss puts less stress on the heart, bones and joints. This type of extreme low-calorie eating habit - one that is roughly 30 percent below the average - puts the body into "famine" mode. Essentially, the body concentrates the majority of its energy on self-preservation. It is this switching of gears that scientists believe may account for the resultant increase in longevity. And taking this theory one step farther, scientists at Harvard Medical School think they have isolated the enzyme, called sirtuin, that acts as the switch. So, researchers went looking for substances that could increase production of sirtuin without the 30 percent drop in calorie intake typically required to produce it. In screening various substances, one antioxidant superstar came out on top, resveratrol. For the uninitiated, resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant substance found in red wine. Its popularity was sparked when a mouse study showed that resveratrol maintained health and extended the lifespan of obese and sedentary mice. In attempts to further their theories on longevity, scientists have been doing experiments with a concentrated form of resveratrol that delivers five times the strength of "regular" resveratrol, and they‘re calling it SRT501. Their initial experiments have been so successful that they‘ve caught the attention of Pharma Big Dog, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), who has since bought the rights to the product. Here‘s where it gets my ire up... GSK could put this concentrated form of resveratrol on the market right away, sell it as the nutritional supplement that it is and compete with the other natural health companies out there who‘re already selling it. Or, they can reach into their deep wallets, seek an FDA approval and have it classified as a drug. In which case not only can they charge whatever they want for it, but they would likely own all rights to health claims regarding resveratrol as well. A no brainer of a choice for GSK. The only potentially saving grace in this situation, is that the FDA doesn‘t recognize "longevity extenders" as a class of drug. So, in order to make this plan work, they will have to tie SRT501 to the treatment or prevention of a recognized disease. Otherwise, they have no basis for seeking an approval. No approval means no money, so GSK has moved on to plan B. They‘ve begun research on SRT501‘s effects on type II diabetes. Will it work? That‘s a good question. But if history has proven anything, when it comes to Big Pharma, you can finagle a study to confirm just about any theory if you spend enough money on it. In the mean time, whether you‘re already taking resveratrol or you‘ve been thinking about giving it a try, it‘s probably a good time to stock up. It might not be too long before this inexpensive natural wonder becomes a hundred-dollar-a-month prescription drug!
  19. Watermelon instead of Viagra?

    If researchers at Texas A&M University have their way, you might be tossing out your Viagra and replacing it with a delicious slice of watermelon. More than just a thirst-quenching summertime treat, it seems the rind of watermelon is rich in a substance called citrulline. Citrulline helps the body produce an amino acid called l-arginine, which works similarly to Viagra-by opening blood vessels and allowing blood to flow into the penis for strong erections. The difference is, citrulline is completely natural and actually relaxes blood vessels throughout the body. So not only could it be good for sex, but for gently lowering blood pressure as well. Right now there isn‘t quite enough citrulline in an average slice of watermelon to have much of an impact. But researchers are working to modify watermelons so they‘ll produce more of this potential Viagra alternative.
  20. Using one disease to cure another

    It reminds me of something I saw in a science fiction film a while back. They shrank a man small enough to be injected into another man‘s body...so he could fly around in a tiny spaceship and blast away "bad things." Now, replace the tiny man and his tiny spaceship with specially "trained" viruses and believe it or not, we‘re back into reality. Researchers at the Ohio State University comprehensive Cancer Center have modified a common virus to pass through healthy cells and destroy cancer cells. The virus is able to pass into the cancer cell and then replicate itself several times over until the cancer cell literally explodes. So far animal studies targeting brain cancer cells have shown great promise. According to researcher Dr. Balveen Kaur, "Even at the late stage of their tumor, burden has led to significant enhancement and survival, and sometimes even cures of some animals." The biggest challenge with the treatment, so far, is that often times the body‘s own immune system kills off the viruses before they can kill off the cancer. So Dr. Kaur is looking into ways to slow down the immune system just enough to allow the specialized viruses to do their work. Although animal studies have been pretty successful, human studies are still a ways off. However, the treatment has worked successfully in healthy human brain tissue and appears to be safe. Additional studies are looking at a two-pronged approach where the "trained" virus would be used in conjunction with drugs that prevent cancerous tumors from growing new blood vessels - essentially starving them and then attacking them. Special thanks to the old sci-fi films for the life-saving idea. Now if we could just get our hands on the flying cars!
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