Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

November 2009 Archives

Resveratrol for Breast Cancer

A new study reported the effect of phytoestrogens on cell growth, cell cell cycle and cell death in estrogen positive breast cancer cells. Not only did resveratrol reduce specific oncogene growth factors and cause cell death (Bcl2/Bax ratio), it also down-regulated NF-Kappa B. The authors concluded that resveratrol could be a good candidate for HRT and chemopreventation.

Source: J Nutr Biochem. 2009 Oct 2. PMID: 19800779

Other News Highlight Excerpts:

Flaxseed oil and osteoporosis (EurekAlert)

Animal studies suggest that adding flaxseed oil to the diet could reduce the risk of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women and women with diabetes, according to a report to be published in the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health.

The team concludes that diabetes has a more pronounced effect on bone health than ovariectomy and so may suggest that diabetes in post-menopausal women may also be a greater risk factor for osteoporosis than the decline in sex hormones associated with the menopause. However, their results suggest that flaxseed oil has a beneficial effect on bone mineral density and reduces markers associated with osteoporosis, suggesting that this dietary supplement could be beneficial to women with diabetes in reducing their risk of osteoporosis.

Depression & Osteporosis

Medical News Today released an article linking depression and osteoporosis. Although no mechanisms were suggested, it was noted that the link was stronger in women and for those women at the end of their menses.

Excerpt: The results, say the researchers, show clearly that depressed individuals have a substantially lower bone density than non-depressed people and that depression is associated with a markedly elevated activity of cells that breakdown bone (osteoclasts). 

Yirmiya and Bab found that the association between depression and bone loss was stronger in women than men, especially young women before the end of their monthly period. 

My thoughts: The Link explained?

Studies have shown that both depression and osteoporosis have inflammation as an underlying mechanism. Estrogen has been shown to be anti-inflammatory as well and has an affect at the receptors of the osteoblast and osteoclast bone cells. This would explain why women may have a higher percentage of bone loss than men. Furthermore, hormones also act at neurotransmitter sites; therefore, this explains why hormonal balance would effect both mood and bone density. 

Sources:
Barach, J. Link Between Depression & Osteoporosis. Medical News Today.November 10, 2009. (online)
McCormick, K. The Whole Body Approach to Osteoporosis. DFH Clinicial Rounds. 2009.

Rifas L, Weitzmann MN. A novel T cell cytokine, secreted osteoclastogenic factor of activated T cells, induces osteoclast formation in a RANKL-Independent manner. Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Nov;60(11):3324-35. PMID 19877052

Estrogen, inflammation and mood: Molecular Psychiatry (2002) 7, 235-238. DOI:10.1038/sj/mp/4001007

Inflammation & Mood Disorders: Aristo Vojdani, Ph.D., M.Sc., M.T. The Mucosal Barrier Function Test. Functional Medicine teleseminar experts 2009 (Sept) Sponsor: BioHealth Diagnostic. 

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Dark Chocolate & Stress

A recent study in the Journal of Proteome Research found that dark chocolate could help with the stress response in a report by Medical News Today.

Excerpt:

The results showed that:

  • Subjects with higher anxiety trait had a distinct metabolic profile.

  • This profile was indicative of a different energy homeostasis (characterized by lactate, citrate, succinate, trans-aconitate, urea, and proline), hormone metabolism (adrenaline, DOPA, 3-methoxy-tyrosine), and gut microbe activity (methylamines, p-cresol sulfate, hippurate).

  • Dark chocolate reduced the amount of stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines in the urine.

  • Dark chocolate also partially normalized stress-related differences in energy metabolism (glycine, citrate, trans-aconitate, proline, β-alanine) and gut microbial activities (hippurate and p-cresol sulfate).

My comment: (As stated in my previous article on dark chocolate): 
Real chocolate, made from cacao beans, actually contains high levels of resveratrol, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound. It is also being studied as a protective factor in obesity. Dark chocolate also contains high levels of the polyphenols catechin and epicatechin which are important anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds have been found to boost immunity and help lower cholesterol."

As stated above, mood disorders have been linked to inflammation, could dark chocolate be a solution? Well, dark chocolate also contains minerals, such as magnesium. Minerals are the body's natural tranquilizers and are important for hormone conversion and enzyme processes. So those that are caffeine sensitive have the option of simply increasing their mineral content and cutting out inflammatory lifestyle choices. :)

Bonus Link: New recommendation for Aspirin: Re-assessing its use for stroke prevention:
Find links at my homepage. Read more

Happy Holidays everyone! I am grateful for you all!


According to an article in USA Today, Prescription Drug overdoses are now a leading cause of fatal overdoses, surpassing cocaine, heroin, and illegal drugs.

"Addiction to prescription painkillers -- which kill thousands of Americans a year -- has become a largely unrecognized epidemic, experts say. In fact, prescription drugs cause most of the more than 26,000 fatal overdoses each year, says Leonard Paulozzi of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Due to the fact that so many Americans are unhealthy, obese, and looking for a quick fix, they are demanding these pain medications from their doctors-- and getting them. The increase in prescriptions filled is actually correlated to the increase in number of overdoses. Although, I do feel that sometimes pain medications are necessary, their abuse is become a glaring problem not to be ignored. The solution lies in a different viewpoint regarding pain management.

Most people aren't aware how integrative and natural medicine can help alleviate chronic pain. Paying attention to biochemistry as well as the mind-body connection, Integrative practicioners are able to address the cause of the pain, rather than to simply cover up the symptoms. It is a different mindset for patients- to take responsibility for their lifestyle choices and emotional issues rather than to pop a pill. However, the rewards of a healthy, fit, body and a sane, peaceful mind is worth the effort to most.. 

Here are some natural  tips that I commonly use in my practice to help address chronic pain:

1. Exercise and weight loss: Exercise releases feel good chemicals called endorphins which act as natural pain killers. Furthermore, healthy circulation and weight loss leads to decreased pressure on joints creating less pain and a happier outlook on life.

2. Getting enough sleep: sleep is vital for rejuvination and also helps with pain management. In fact, sleep actually affects your body's ability to modulate pain perception.

3.Addressing the cause: whether it be excess weight, eating an inflammatory diet, food sensitivities, gut permeability, low immunity, or a virus or bacteria....your integrative practicioner can help you pinpoint the underlying  issue.

4. Natural anti-inflammatory agents: These have fewer side effects and are better for your liver and stomach. Curcumin and boswellia have been shown in studies to decrease inflammatory cytokines (NF Kappa B)and leukotrienes respectively. 

Other helpful supplements are fish oils and vitamin D. (Make sure you get your blood levels checked for vitamin D.)

5. Address your emotions: the body and mind are connected. Just thinking stressful thoughts releases inflammatory and immune suppressing biochemicals into your bloodstream. Without looking at the whole person, even supplements can be band aids to healing underlying emotional trauma. 

As an Integrative Doctor, it is important for me to remember to not to get lost in the fun maze of biochemistry and to step back and look at the whole person. This ultimately leads to true healing rather than simply fixing and patching.

Sources: 
Szabo, L. Prescription drugs now leading cause of fatal drug overdoses. USA today. October 2, 2009. (online)
Ohayon MM. Pain sensitivity, depression, and sleep deprivation: links with serotoninergic dysfunction. Psychiatr Res. 2009 Dec;43(16):1243-5. No abstract available.

PMID: 19914447 Mercola, J. Deadlier than Cocaine, heroin, and Swine Flue. Mercola.com. November 21, 2009. (online)

Kim, YS. et al. Curcumin attenuates inflammatory responses of TNF-alpha-stimulated human endothelial cells. Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2007 Jul;50(1):41-9.PMID: 17666914


Bonus Link: Green Tea and Hangovers

A recent study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology showed how green tea can prevent liver damage. So, could it be that green tea may be a better option for your liver in the morning after a potential liver damaging party? ;)

Excerpt:  
CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that green tea administration can effectively improve liver fibrosis caused by DMN, and may be used as a therapeutic option and preventive measure against hepatic fibrosis.


More Information on Propolis

Recently, Medical news today posted an article on the antimicrobial and antioxidant activity of bee propolis. The authors reported on a study demonstrating that propolis showed inhibition of various fungi, bacteria, yeasts, and free radicals (the measurement of antioxidant capacity).

Phenols and various flavonoids were determined to be responsible for most of these medicinal properties of propolis. 

Excerpt:

The results coincided with what was expected, as this product has a high quantity of biologically active components, outstanding amongst these being the flavonoids (known for their high antioxidant power). The flavonoids are in fact most responsible for all the medicinal properties attributable to propolis: antibacterial, antimycotic, antifungal, antiviral, antitubercular, cytostatic, antiallergic, antioxidant, antitoxic, hypotensor, haemostatic, immunogenetic and antiparasitical.

Bee propolis has other uses as well. It has been found to be helpful in preventing dental plaque by inhibiting certain enzymes. It is also a good dietary source of amino acids, the building blocks from which your body uses to rebuild itself and stay healthy. It can even be used for wound care.

Excerpt (Mercola):


Good quality honey offers several topical wound-care benefits:

  • It draws fluid away from your wound
  • The high sugar content suppresses microorganism growth
  • Worker bees secrete an enzyme (glucose oxidase) into the nectar, which then releases low levels of hydrogen peroxide when the honey makes contact with your wound
  • A chemical reaction between the honey and tissue also makes healing wounds smell good
It is important to note that not all honey is equal in quality. Refined, processed honey actually contains fillers and added sugars which mute its therapeutic effect. 

In a society with antibiotic resistance increasing and increased exposure to toxins, it's good to note that there is a natural anti-microbial and antioxidant in one. 

Sources:
Mercola, J. This Bee Product Has Enormous Benefits for Your Health. November 17, 2009. Mercola.com
Medpage today. (online) Propolis Has Proved To Be A Product With Ability To Have Beneficial Effects For Health. October 28, 2009.

The Importance of Omega 3s

Recently, the EFSA confirmed the importance of ALA and DHA for babies. Many studies have linked cognitive and vision impairment in newborns to lack of these two Omega 3 fatty acids. This makes sense considering that 30-60% of the retina is made of DHA and 15-30% of the cerebral cortex. DHA is also important for immune and nervous system health.

Due to the fact that babies still rely on mom's for the conversion of DHA from ALA, and most moms are deficient, it is wise to recommend supplementation.

The food source of these essential fatty acids are best found in seafood; however, due to their high heavy metal content, fish might not be the best place to obtain these nutrients. Instead, a high quality fish or krill oil which is purified of toxins may be the best bet for mom and baby.

Source:
Mercola, J. Omega 3 Benefits Your Babies Brain and Eyes. Mercola.com. (online) November 17, 2009.
Medical Myths (webmd)

Some highlights of untruths debunked: Nuts and seeds  cause an increased risk of diverticulitis, hernias arecaused by heavy lifting, if you're lactose intolerant you can't have yogurt, fiber doesn't help diarrhea, and celiac disease symptoms are only in the gut.

Swine Flu: Fact or Fiction (NVIC)

This is a fantastic video for an overall summary (a little over 11 minutes long).

Immune Support Protocol (Dr. Mercola)

Dr. Mercola provided an excellent article on the importance of basic immune support such as: eating whole foods, exercising, getting adequate sleep, stress relief, washing your hands after going to the bathroom, and digestive health. He also explained the importance of high quality supplements, specifically NS-GMP certification, and using whole food ingredients. 

Some top immune supporters in supplements highlighted were vitamin C, oregano oil (with carvacrol), propolis, yarrow, boneset, peppermint, elder flower (anthocyanins and quercetin),  DMG (vitamin B16), vitamin D3, & olive leaf.

Highlight on Propolis:
 "Because it contains phagocytes (white blood cells) that initiate the activity and cleansing action to protect your white blood cells.*

Many hospitals, clinics and universities throughout Europe are now testing propolis for its immunity benefits.* One report alone, recently translated by two doctors in America, shows that propolis has been successfully used in more than 70 different studies over the last 17 years."


Exercise May Prevent Flu

A new study with mice showed promising signs that exercise could protect against a more severe immune reaction to the flu. Regular exercise decreased the severity of symptoms in regular exercisers throughout the course of the whole infection. Even exercise just before the infection showed less severe symptoms and offered some protection from the flu. Mice who exercised showed less inflammatory compounds in their lungs and less virus in their lungs.

Source: Reuter's Health. Regular Exercise May Help Battle the Flu. October 23, 2009. (online)


Vitamin D: Protection for the Flu

This pubmed abstract shows how low vitamin D levels predispose children to respiratory infections. Vitamin D modulates the immune response and decreases inflammation.

Source: Carnell, JJ. et al. Epidemic influenza and Vitamin D. Epidemiology and Infection.  December 13, 2006. (Online)
Dr. Mercola. www.mercola.com. November 10, 2009.

Perochlorate  was found in 87% of infant formulas tested by the EWG. Milk based infant formulas were the worst followed by lactose-free, soy, and elemental.  Perocholorate is linked with lowered thyroid function. Soy formulas have been found to contain the equivalent amount of estrogen as 5 birth control pills!

Sources:
Mercola, J. Rocket Fuel Found in Infant Formula. Mercola.com. November 5, 2009. (online)
EWG. CDC:Rocket Fuel Chemical in Most Powdered Infant Formula. November 5, 2009. (online)

Protein Pump Inhbitors linked to Weight Gain 

Proton Pump inhibitors such as prevacid, prilosec, and nexium used in the treatment of GERD (reflux disease) have been linked to weight gain in one study.

Excerpt:  
CONCLUSION: Long-term PPI treatment was associated with BW gain in patients with GERD. Reflux patients receiving PPI should be encouraged to manage BW through lifestyle modifications.
Source: 
Yoshikawa, I. Long-term treatment with proton pump inhibitor is associated with undesired weight gain. World J of Gastroenterology. October 15, 2009. (online).


Swine Flu Update (2)

Dr. Mercola recently interviewed neurosurgeon and researcher, Dr. Baylock, MD. Dr. Baylock is an expert in the swine flu who seeks to use peer reviewed journals and  governmental reports to report unbiased findings. Dr. Mercola's article highlights Dr. Baylock's CDC reports and various statistics on the H1N1 virus. His summaries included that hospitalizations and death rates were lower than expected, that H1N1 was less virulent that suggested, that pregnant women and children were not at increased risk, and that massive vaccination may actually be more harmful than the virus.

Excerpt:


Number of People Admitted to the Hospital each Year with Viral Pneumonia5

  • 57 people in 2005
  • 33 people in 2006
  • 69 people in 2007
  • 69 people in 2008
  • 37 people in 2009
So we see that in 2009 they had 32 fewer people admitted with actual viral pneumonia. The CDC and other public health agents of fear like to imply that mass numbers of people are dying from "flu", that is, actual influenza viral pneumonia, when in fact, most are dying from other complications secondary to underlying health problems -- either diagnosed or undiagnosed.

They also found that the average person's risk of ending up in the ICU was one in 35,714 or about three thousandths of one percent (0.00285%), an incredibly low risk. When they looked at actual admission to the ICU, they found that it was people aged 25 to 49 who made up the largest number admitted. Infants from birth to age 1 year had the higher admission per population, and had a high mortality rate.


Sources:
CDC: 2009-2010 Influenza Season Week 41 ending October 17, 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/
Mercola, J & Baylock, R. Swine Flu-One of the Most Massive Cover-ups in History. Mercola.com. November 3, 2009. (online)

Science to Study How We Heal!

In this month's edition of Natural Medicine Journal, Wayne Jonas, MD was interviewed to explain how the healing process can promote health and wellness. Dr. Jonas is a professor at Georgetown Univeristy Medical Center and has published more than 150 articles and 5 books. He is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Samueli Institute, an institute which is using sound scientific methods to study how the body heals.

Excerpt: We define healing as the process of recovery, repair, reintegration, and the return to wholeness, also called salutogenesis; it's the reverse of pathogenesis. Pathogenesis is how things break down and become diseased.
Salutogenesis is how they get built up, how they recover, how they come back into balance. The methods and the metrics are parallel in terms of developing a science, but healing itself is complex because it is an emergent property of whole systems. 

Source: Gazella, K. Wayne Jonas, MD Explores How the Healing Process Can Promote Health and Wellness. Natural Medicine Journal. November 2009.

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Reisa Mehlman

As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...


Dr. Sarah Lobisco

Whether the goal is to lessen pain, find an alternative to pharmaceuticals, or improve your quality of life, Dr. LoBisco's Naturopathic Medicine lets you get the best of both worlds conventional medicine, combined with safe and proven complementary therapies.

Dr. Sarah LoBisco has been involved in wellness for over 8 years. Her experience includes mentoring with holistic practices throughout New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. Read more...