Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

December 2009 Archives


There is no specific memory storage area in the brain, instead information is bundled in different association areas of the cerebral cortex. This means that different parts of the brain will be activated related to different aspects of learning. For example, memorizing math computations activates a different area of the brain than remembering the steps to the samba. What most people are concerned about is not so much how information is stored in memory, but how to use it more effectively and prevent deterioration. 

There are a a variety of theories that relate to memory decline. These include misuse, cellular damage, mitochondrial damage, free radicals, and genetics. Let's take a look at how we can empower ourselves for better memory retention based on these theories:

It has been suggested the best way to keep your brain young is to engage in a variety of activities that activate different aspects of our cerebral cortex. Analytical and thinking exercises such as card games, crosswords, math computations, and map reading are examples of different activities which exercise different "brain muscles." What you don't use, you loose!

If one believes that genetics are the main predictors of health, please see my many articles on nutrigenomics on my webpage. This new science proves how certain phytochemicals in foods can modulate genetic expression and aid cellular repair.Even water can help the body's healing process and decrease cellular damage.

Currently, scientists are reseraching how what we don't eat-calorie restriction-can affect cell signaling molecule CBP. The reason behind this affect isn't necessarily due to calories but the fact that food effects our biochemistry. With food restriction, glucose utilization may be optimized and oxidative stress released. However, eating real, healthy foods can produce the same results and signal your genes to use that glucose more wisely! 

What we think about becomes our beliefs. If we continually think that aging will lead to deterioration, dependency, and physical illness, we will act in different ways than one who subscribes to healthy aging. 

According to Dr. Amen, psychiatrist and brain imaging specialist, different behavioral patterns can be predicated by dominant brain activity. For example, those with active anterior-cingulate are less able to shift out of routines and can become argumentative when overworked. However, they make wonderful computer analysts and provide stability in rocky situations. Dr. Amen has used SPEC scans to show how different nutrients and behavior patterns can calm down an overactive angerior cingulate and help this predominant pattern shift to other others.

The same can be said for all of us with different overactive brain areas, if we remember to "cross train" our brain, eat healthy foods, and think positively, there's no reason to succumb to the belief that we are doomed to a life decaying in a wheel chair drooling!

Sources:
The Aware Show. Daniel Amen Interview. 12/8/2009.
Ufberg, S. The Way We Think: Maintaining a Healthy and Active Mind. Integrative Practitioner. December 2009.
Gahles, N. Healthy Aging: The Happiness Principle. Integrative Practitioner. December 2009.
Capodice, J. Acupuncture, Aging, and Memory. Integrative Practitioner. December 2009.
Curtis, D. Water: Nature's Elixir for Healthy Aging and Brain Health. Integrative Practitioner. December 2009.
Medpage Today. Scientists Find Molecular Trigger That Helps Prevent Aging and Disease. December 19, 2009. 

The use of CT scans has increased from 3 million in 1980 to 70 million in 2007. According to a recent article in Medpage Today, 2 studies showed that radiation from CT scans were at higher levels than previously believed. According to one study which consisted of data on CT radiation from four San Fransisco hospitals:

"median effective doses ranged from 2 mSv for a routine head scan to 31 mSv for a multiphase abdomen and pelvis scan, according to Rebecca Smith-Bindman, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues.

Radiation doses as low as 10 mSv have been linked to an increased cancer risk among survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb blasts, the researchers reported in the Dec. 14/28 Archives of Internal Medicine."

From these studies, it is believed that young people are more at risk due to their rapidly dividing cells.

The second study "projected that 29,000 future cancers will be directly attributable to CT scans performed in 2007. Furthermore, it was estimated that of the 29,000 projected cancers -- or about 2% of all cancer diagnoses -- most were expected to be caused by scans of the abdomen and pelvis (14,000), chest (4,100), and head (4,000). About 2,700 would be caused by CT coronary angiography. The most commonly caused cancers would be those of the lung (6,200) and colon (3,500), as well as leukemia (2,800). "

Estimates of radiation exposure where done by a retro perspective analysis and the reported results were as follows:

A single multiphase abdomen and pelvis CT scan equaled the radiation for 74 mammograms and  442 conventional chest X-ray series, and a CT coronary angiogram equaled about 15 mammography series to the breast and the 711 chest X-rays to the lungs.

Some critics disagree with the benefits vs. risk ratio with CT scans. They claim that the studies were based on various assumptions that may not be true, such that those receiving CT scans had the same life expectancy as those not receiving scans. Furthermore, some believe that CT scans value to detect and help diagnosis cancers not found with other procedures should not be discounted.

Link for Dr. Mercola's article with John Gofman, MD, PhD, and nuclear physicist, on Xrays and Cancer. 

Other Sources:
Mercola.com

USA Today

A recent article in the Associated Content featured the super food/ super herbal Garlic. Garlic has been studied for its anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, cardiovascular promoting effects (lowering blood pressure, thinning blood, lowering cholesterol), and immune boosting properties. It may be for all these wonders that garlic's use has been spread from ancient India, China, and the Mediterranean to worldwide! The general agreement is that it takes 1-2 cloves of breath odoring garlic a day to help keep doctors (like me) away! 

Garlic Biochem 101
The component, allicin has been attributed as the main player to garlic's many wonders. Allicin is an insolable and reactive compound formed by intermediate enzymes made when garlic is cut or chopped. However, research is showing that due to allicin's unstable nature, it rapidly reverts to ajeone or dithiins. According to Dr. Block, a forerunner in the research of garlic, ajeone may be the unsung hero for garlic's anticlotting, antitumor, antifungal, antioxidant, and lipid lowering properties.

So, what's the conclusion behind all the science? 
Garlic is a great food to consume when one wants to increase sulfuration and methylation pathways to help the body detoxify and build immunity. However, for therapeutic heart effects, (and to save your sweethearts nose) one would need to purchase a high quality herbal supplement that meets therapeutic standards, preferably from their Naturopathic or Integrative practitioner.

For other heart healthy facts, tune into my webpage.

Sources:
Associated Content. Garlic: Our Super Food and Herbal Medicine. December 19, 2009.
Passwater, R. The Chemistry of Garlic Health Benefiits. Reprinted by permission of WholeFoods Magazine and Richard A. Passwater (copyright owners), WholeFoods, June 1992.



Recently, Dr. Mercola posted an article on the link between sugar and mood disorders. In the past few months, I presented a series to practicioners on the connection of mood disorders to a variety of systemic imbalances. The topics included hormonal dysfunction, inflammation, malaborsption of nutrients, permeability of the gastrointestinal mucosa, acid-base balance, and neurotransmitter imbalance. As you can see, mood disorders can arise from a variety of issues, sugar consumption is one piece of the puzzle that can be linked to creating nutritional gaps and increasing inflammation in the body. 

I encourage you to read my 3 part series on mood imbalances at my website. These blogs also provide references for studies on the newer concepts widely accepted and utilized in integrative medicine.

Highlight on the Role of Inflammation and Mood Disorders:
in 2002, the Molecular Psychiatry Journal stated that  "neurodegenerative diseases correlate with the existence of a local ongoing inflammatory reaction." Furthermore, in the 2008 edition of the Neuro Clinical Endocrinology Letters, the authors concluded that pro-inflammatory cytokines and were linked to depression and that these cytokines were thought to be a result of gastrointestinal permeability from translocated microbes. This journal was one of many which linked the gut as the cause of immune imbalance creating systemic inflammation.

A  leading immunology researcher, Aristo Vojdani, PhD, traced the pathway between mucosa permeability of the gut to mood disorders. He postulated that mucosal degeneration in the gastrointestinal tract resulting from various toxins, food sensitivities, genetics, and environmental factors, triggers systemic release of partially digested foods and microbes. This causes the immune system to attack these foreign invaders. The result is systemic inflammation causing a break in the blood brain barrier, creating neurodegeneration and brain disorders. 

The gastrointestinal tract has a few very important links to immune function. First of all houses powerful immune regulators called probitoics which fight off infections and help with detoxification and absorption of nutrients. Also, it is in charge of producing various immune cells from its gastrointestinal associated lymphoid tissue, called the GALT. It is also directly related to mood disorders for the fact that serotonin is mostly produced in the gut, over 95% in fact by some estimates.

Therefore, one of the first places I start with a mood disorder is looking at the gastrointestinal tract. This will lead me to investigate every area mentioned above for a complete, individualized, whole body approach to mood imbalances.

3 Cups Popcorn Kernels

3 Dozen Eggs

7 Lemons

2 Cups Sugar

2 Ringing Phones

8 Spinning Plates

 

Directions:  Measure out the popcorn kernels and cook.  Answer phone during popping.  Put out fire.  Gather and juggle eggs, lemons and spinning plates.  Lose control.  Maintain balance.  Laugh while you enjoy the sugar.

Milk Thistle Found to Decrease Liver Inflammation in One Study

A recent study examined the effect of taking milk thistle with chemotherapy agents on 50 children diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). The results indicated that those who took milk thistle over placebo had decreased levels of liver inflammation, as evidenced by lowered liver enzymes on serum blood tests. Taking milk thistle resulted in stabilizing the dosing of chemotherapy due to less side effects. The researchers further concluded that milk thistle didn't seem to have any negative interactions on the effectiveness of chemotherapy when they examined this potential in a laboratory experiment.

Thoughts: Milk thistle is an herb that is supportive to the liver as well as regenerative. It may also help with detoxification. This may explain why the doses of chemotherpy would not need to be lowered in this study.

Source

Study on Genetically Modified Foods (GM) Shows Danger to Organs

The International Journal of Biological Sciences recently published research pertaining to three GM corn varities.

They concluded, "Our analysis clearly reveals for the 3 GMOs new side effects linked with GM maize consumption, which were sex- and often dose-dependent. Effects were mostly associated with the kidney and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, although different between the 3 GMOs. Other effects were also noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system. We conclude that these data highlight signs of hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn. In addition, unintended direct or indirect metabolic consequences of the genetic modification cannot be excluded."


Plastic Exposure In Mom's Makes Sons more Feminine

According to a study in the International Journal of Andropology, higher levels of exposurer to certain prenatal phthalates, as measured in urine samples, was related to more feminine play behaviors in boys. They concluded:  

These data, although based on a small sample, suggest that prenatal exposure to antiandrogenic phthalates may be associated with less male-typical play behaviour in boys. Our findings suggest that these ubiquitous environmental chemicals have the potential to alter androgen-responsive brain development in humans.

Dr. Mercola states:

Decreased sperm motility and concentration, as well as genital abnormalities in baby boys have been linked to these chemicals.

The fact that endocrine disruptors like phthalates affect the reproductive system in nearly all mammals is becoming rather well known, although governments and public health- and safety organizations are slow to respond.

Baking Soda For the Flu? 
Due to our fast paced society, many people suffer from occasional indigestion. An old wives tale of 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in cool water has been used as remedy for this. It's so common, that most have tried it and have found it to be helpful.  But, does this old belief hold up as scientific? Absolutely!

Sodium bicarbonate, the compound found in baking soda, has the ability to neutralize stomach acid due to it's amphoteric nature. This means it can act as neutralizer for acids and bases. In fact, chemistry labs have used it  for this very reason.  In the body, when NaHCO3 reacts with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, it is broken down to salt and carbon dioxide- both forms can be absorbed in the body. 

According to the Materia Medica:

"The effect of an alkali in the stomach will vary according to the nature of the stomach contents at the time of administration. In the resting period (after food is digested) sodium bicarbonate merely dissolves mucus and is absorbed as bicarbonate into the blood, to increase its alkalinity directly.

"In the digestive period it reduces the secretion of gastric juice, neutralizes a portion of the hydrochloric acid, liberates the carminative carbon dioxide gas, and is absorbed as sodium chloride.

"In cases of fermentation or 'sour stomach' it may neutralize the organic acids and so result in the opening of a spasmodically closed pylorus (the opening between the stomach and the small intestine); while at the same time it acts to overcome flatulency (accumulation of gas in the stomach and bowels).

"The time of administration must, therefore, be chosen with a definite purpose. Usually for hyperchlohydria (excess of acid) one hour or two hours after meals will be the period of harmful excess of acid."

Sodium bicarbonate is even prescribed in conventional medicine. According to Medline, " Sodium bicarbonate is an antacid used to relieve heartburn and acid indigestion. Your doctor also may prescribe sodium bicarbonate to make your blood or urine less acidic in certain conditions." It has also been used to neutralize Aspirin overdose. 

Baking Soda as an Anti-Viral?
The use of baking soda for flu symptoms was employed by Dr. Cheney in 1918-1919 when he discovered it to be helpful for his patients recovering from its symptoms. Many integrative practitioners also feel that  alkalinizing the body is important to recover from most chronic and acute diseases. It is true that sugar is acidic and cancer cells have been shown to have higher affinity for glucose and insulin, as evidence by using insulin potentiation therapy in chemotherpay. 

A diet that contains higher alkalinizing foods, such as green leafy vegetables and seaweeds, in replacement of the highly processed foods, sugar,  non-organic meats and diary can infact make most people feel better and help manage symptoms. 

Still, a controversy exists in how much food can actually act as a buffer to the blood pH; however, the pH through the digestive tract must be proper in order for nutrients and minerals to be absorbed and utilized properly. Wouldn't it make sense that acids and bases in foods, such as organic acids,  have an overall balance on your system? 

The side effects of  using baking soda in excess can be related to salt retention, including raised blood pressure and swelling. This is why using it along with a natural mineral compound such as celtic sea salt of organically bound minerals could be important. Also, make sure you use a baking soda without aluminum in it.

I would also encourage someone to seek out a functional or integrative medical doctor if your immune system continues to be poor or if acid indigestion continues. This assistance can help you get to the root cause of disease. Although, stomach pH is very important for your overall health and HCL is needed to absorb minerals and fight infections such as H.pylori, some diseases such as arthritis can be caused by too much alkalinity in the wrong place! Therefore, long term suppression therapy, natural or synthetic, without getting to the root cause can cause more problems down the line if left alone.

Hypertension

Another situation where sugar is not a good acidic companion in your diet.I Insulin resistance causes salt retention and retains the relaxing mineral, magnesium.  Dr. Mercola's article on hypertension is a must read for anyone diagnosed with this condition:

Excerpt:

Groundbreaking research published in 1998 in the journal Diabetes reported that nearly two-thirds of the test subjects who were insulin resistant (IR) also had high blood pressure.

This crucial connection between IR and hypertension is yet another example of how wide-ranging the debilitating effects of high insulin, leptin and blood glucose levels can have on your body.

Additional research revealed that if your blood pressure doesn't drop notably overnight, you run an increased risk of having cardiovascular problems. Here, the connection is also elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels. Elevated blood sugars can result in diabetes and other diseases which increase cardiovascular problems.

Chances are if you have hypertension, you also have poorly controlled blood sugar levels. The two problems often go hand in hand. And if your hypertension is the direct result of an out-of-control blood sugar level, then getting your blood sugars normalized will also bring your blood pressure readings into the healthy range

Suggestions include:

  • Eliminating two types of foods that are poison for most people, but espe cially if you have high blood pressure
  • Balancing the omega fats in your diet
  • Normalizing your weight
  • Managing your emotional life
  • 'Drugging' yourself with exercise
  • Appropriate sunshine exposure
  • Experimenting with supplements and other alternative tips for improving your blood pressure
Be Sure to Check my latest Blogs on December Top Reads on my homepage and join my Naturopathic Medicine Group on facebook for the most current postings and health care topics!

Excerpt:

Cochrane Data Review of HINI Vaccine (ABSTRACT)

Mercola Link with sources

What is the difference between efficacy and effectiveness? Nasty trick? Efficacy means the vaccines increased antibody titers, effectiveness means the H1N1vaccination offered protection.

Thiocynate found in vegetables could be helpful for inflammatory disorders

New research has demonstrated a biochemical link of a component found in vegetables, thiocynate, to levels of inflammatory markers in certain disease processes. According to the researchers, thiocynate may be helpful with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). They associate this disease with a genetic defect in a transmembrane receptor, making it difficult for the body of excrete damaging free radicals, causing high levels of inflammation. They postulated that this same pathway of excretion of these damaging particles in CF is linked to some of the pathology of diabetes and nervous system disorders. Could this be proof that food and vegetables could be the treatment of inflammatory disorders? This is nutrigenomics at its best!


Bonus Link (Biochemical Pharmacology 2009): Another supplement made indigenously in the body, coQ10, has also been shown to decrease the expression of inflammatory markers and metabolic stresses at the level of genes- in the mRNA in mice!


"CoQ10 has actually been the subject of thousands of research studies, and in addition to the new finding above that CoQ10 may help reduce the risk of fatty liver in people with obesity, CoQ10 may also: 

Help you produce more energy for your cells, boost your heart health, act as an antioxidant to protect you from free radicals, help you reduce the signs of normal aging, help you maintain blood pressure levels within the normal range,  provide a boost to your immune system, and support your nervous system."

Note: CoQ10 is an important supplemental addition for anyone taking statin drugs. These drugs not only block cholesterol formation, but also formation of this vital nutrient. The reduced form, ubiquinol, is best for those over 40.

Soft Drinks Increase Risk of Gestational Diabetes (GD) in Pregnant Women

Excerpt:
"Findings from this study suggest that higher consumption of sugar-sweetened cola (≥5 servings/week) in prepregnancy women is associated with an elevated GDM risk.  No significant association with GDM risk was observed for other SSBs and diet beverages."

Abbreviations: GDM: Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, SSB: Sugar Sweetened Beverages

Kidney Stones & the Diet

A recent article published by Orthomolecular Medicine News Service provided a link on kidney stones and recommendations for decreasing the risk of them forming.

There are five types of kidney stones: 

1. Calcium phosphate stones 

 2. Calcium oxalate stones  (these do not dissolve in acid urine). 

 3. Magnesium ammonium phosphate (struvite stones-these often appear with infections)

 4. Uric acid stones (related to purine metabolism and  gout). 

 5. Cystine stones (related to a hereditary factor, the most common stones in children)

Some preventative strategies mentioned include:

1. Increasing fluid intake of water and supplementing with a good source of vitamin C- for fluid and pH balance.

2. Eating lots of vegetables.

3. Balancing calcium with magnesium intake and decreasing phosphorous intake (such as carbonated beverages and processed foods).

4. Supplementing with a good B complex vitamin.

4. For purine stones, avoid meat and follow dietary advice on avoiding purines.

5. For cystine stones, follow a low methionine diet and use buffered vitamin C.

6. Kidney stones are associated with sugar, so decrease sugar intake

Source: Doctor yourself. com

Why Do I love Chlorophyll

All doctors tend to have some favorite tools in their toolbox, one of mine is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the body's natural detoxifier, it actually binds guanidine which is a byproduct of constipation. It is also a source of Vitamin A, E, K and trace minerals. It is also a demulcent, meaning it soothes your gastroitestinal tract's mucus membranes.

Mercola goes on to list even more reasons!: 

  • Aids you in processing more oxygen*
  • Cleanses key elimination systems like your bowel, liver, and blood*
  • Helps purify your blood and clean away toxins*
  • Aids you in promoting optimal blood pressure*
  • Supports elimination of molds in your body*
  • Helps neutralize bad air you might breathe in*
  • Promotes growth and repair of your tissues*


Source:
Mercola.com
Standard Process Clinical Reference Guide


The Antiviral Effects of Vitamin C

The December newsletter from orthomolecular medicine commented on the mechanisms behind using Vitamin C in large doses to produce an antiviral action.

According to the article, ascorbate acts as an antioxidant to relieve inflammation, inactivates the RNA or DNA of viruses to prevent their replication, promotes immune enhancing substances such as interferon, stimulates antibody production, enhances phagocytosis, and aids the various immune cells in their protector role of the body. 

That's a lot of punch for one ingredient!

Source: 
ONMS. VItamin C As An Antiviral. December 3, 2009.http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml 


Whey's Not Just for Protein Supply

Whey has been shown to support innate immune response in one study

Excerpt:

The major WPE protein components beta-lactoglobulin (beta-LG) and alpha-lactalbumin (alpha-LA) were the main active fractions having an additive effect on human neutrophils that became more responsive to a subsequent stimulation. This effect on NADPH oxidase activity was associated with translocation of p47(phox) to plasma membrane. Glycomacropeptide, a peptide present in measurable amounts in WPE products, was able to enhance the individual effect of beta-LG or alpha-LA on neutrophils

Translated: Whey protein has componenets that helps neutrophils fight off infections!

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep has been associated with greater mental acuity and cognitive performance, appetite regulation, hormonal balance, and emotional health. Recently, Dr. Northrup wrote an article on how  adequate sleep affects blood pressure. Dr. Northrup proposed that sleep is a potent stress reducer, which has a positive effect on blood pressure.

The Biochemistry of Sleep:
It has been theorized that when someone enters the fourth phase of sleep, REM, consolidation of cognitive processes and memories occur. Furthermore, adequate sleep allows the two hormones leptin  and ghrelin to communicate more effectively. (Leptin is a hormone secreted by adipose cells that is responsible for the feeling of satiety and ghrelin is its counter hormone released by the stomach which signifies hunger).  Sleep is also important in maintaining the proper balance between growth hormone and cortisol as well as regulating the thyroid hormone.

To learn more about The Many Un-pleasures of Insomnia or other sleep issues, visit my homepage.

References:
Dr. Northrup. Women's Health Wisdom. December 2009.
Bio-genesis. December Newsletter 2009. volume 5 issue 12.
CDC.gov

To view my latest posting on EMFs and its link to health issues, visit my webpage.

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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...


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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...