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Berberine for Diabetes

Berberine for Diabetes

Sugar

Americans are awash in a sea of refined sugar. Nearly every top selling food product is loaded with sugar, often times containing more than three times the recommended daily intake.

Our bodies are genetically designed to like certain flavors, and sweet is one of the most desirable. The reason we love sweet foods is because when we eat them, they trigger endorphins in our brains, making them highly pleasurable. The center of the brain that is triggered by these flavors is part of the opioid circuitry.

Much like drugs we can become addicted to food. Sweet, salty, and fatty foods are highly addictive. Just like with drug addiction, some people have a higher probability of becoming addicted than others, and the makers of the world’s most unhealthy foods are counting on that. Manufacturers spend countless hours engineering food products that are designed to make their consumers addicted, boosting sales while affecting the health of the nation.

Consuming too much sugar can cause a range of illnesses like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes to name a few.

Diabetes affects more than 37 million Americans, comprising over 10% of our entire population, with non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaskan Native adults about twice as likely to contract this disease as non-Hispanic whites.

Studies have repeatedly shown that high glycemic foods –those that quickly raise blood sugar- leads to poor insulin sensitivity and causes diabetes as well as obesity, leading to heart disease, which makes sugar more of a national safety threat than most people would think.

Heart Disease

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that affects the way the body processes glucose in the blood. As we eat food, the carbohydrates are converted inside the body into sugars. Some complex carbohydrates, like found in vegetables, take longer to convert to sugar, and are considered to be low on the glycemic index. The body then produces insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas that allows the body to use glucose for energy or store it for later use as fat. Insulin regulates the body’s blood sugar levels, keeping them from getting too high or too low.

When you consume a lot of processed sugar, it is already broken down to a very simple form, so the body converts it to glucose very quickly. This leads to unnatural glucose spikes, which in turn prompts the body to produce insulin rapidly, leading to insulin spikes.

Repeated sugar and insulin spikes over many years is what eventually causes diabetes. Eventually, either the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body can no longer effectively use the insulin it creates. This allows glucose to build up in the blood instead of being used for energy, which creates the symptoms associated with diabetes, including fatigue, constant infections, blurred eye sight, numbness, tingling in the hands or legs, increased thirst, and slowed healing of bruises or cuts.

The most popular treatment for type 2 diabetes is insulin injections. These prescription hormones were first developed by purifying the insulin from a dog’s pancreas. These days, scientists use genetic engineering to produce insulin, using bacteria to produce it. There are also oral medications available which can help insulin receptors become more sensitive to insulin.

Berberine

If you’re not fond of perpetually sticking yourself with needles or taking oral medications with potential side effects, there are alternative treatment options for diabetics. One such treatment that is showing promise is called Berberine, a quaternary ammonium salt from the protoberberine group of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids.

Berberine is a plant alkaloid used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for ages, but now it is making the rounds alternative western treatments for diabetes and digestive problems. Berberine can be naturally found in herbs including Oregon grape, tree turmeric, goldenseal, barberry, goldthread, and phellodendron. The benefits traditionally ascribed to berberine are treatment for high cholesterol, gastrointestinal infections, heart disease, joint ailments, hypertension, high cholesterol and many more.

There are a few exciting benefits of berberine. The herb is safe for long term consumption, is inexpensive, and is easily produced. It represents a wonderful alternative option to harvesting synthetic insulin from bacteria.

Berberine

In a brand new study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology this past December, researchers tested the anti-diabetic activities of this ancient herb. Scientists have determined that type 2 diabetes (T2D) may be treated with molecules called non-coding RNAs, which are thought to play in important role in regulating the course of insulin resistance. Berberine helps to regulate non-coding RNAs.

Another promising study found that berberine is as effective at treating type 2 diabetes as one of the most popular prescription drugs, metformin. Researchers studies its effect on 36 adults, each newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. For three months, half of the study group was given 500mg of berberine 3 times daily, the other half was given a normally prescribed dose of metformin. At the close of the study, researchers found that “The hypoglycemic effect of berberine was similar to that of metformin”, reducing fasting glucose levels, showing significant decreases in hemoglobin A1c, reduction in postprandial blood glucose, and reduction in plasma triglycerides.

In addition, researchers tested berberine on 48 adults with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus in another 3 month trial, discovering that “Berberine acted by lowering fasting blood glucose and postprandial blood glucose from 1 week to the end of the trial” reducing hemoglobin A1c from 8.1 percent to 7.3 percent, fasting plasma insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance index were reduced by 28.1% and 44.7%, and total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were also significantly decreased.

Perhaps the most promising findings though are the utter lack of adverse side-effects, while medications like metformin have mild to serious side-effects like lactic acidosis, which causes symptoms of unusual tiredness, dizziness, severe drowsiness, muscle pain, difficult breathing, irregular heartbeat, stomach pain with nausea, and much worse. The list of possible side-effects of metformin is extensive.

As berberine continues its path to common use in western medicine, the law of probability suggests that it too will have side-effects for some people, as no compound is a great fit for every single person on Earth. Some people will inevitably have an allergic reaction to berberine, but it will undoubtedly end up being much safer for a larger swath of people suffering with type 2 diabetes than other medications like metformin.

Berberine also couples well and works synergistically with two other herbal extracts in the treatment of diabetes: turmeric and piperine.

Berberine has been used for many centuries in traditional medicines with great results, but as always, check with a doctor to determine whether or not this powerful herb can help you manage your diabetes.

Hot Flashes and a Few Remedies

Hot Flashes and a Few Remedies

Hot flashes and night sweats are categorized as vasomotor symptoms during menopause. The mechanisms that produce hot flashes during the day are the same as the mechanisms that produce hot flashes and night sweats at night. At night, they more typically turn into sweats due to some differences in hormones produced during the day versus hormones produced during the night. Night sweats tend to also be aggravated by something as simple as just covering up with sheets.

Ultimately, hot flashes and night sweats are due to a decline in estrogen, which secondarily affects certain neurotransmitters in the brain called serotonin and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are critical for the thermal regulatory centers of the entire body. With a narrowing of the thermal regulatory set point, the body is more likely to be sensitive to environmental changes in temperature and cause hot flashes. They can occur as superficial vasodilation and redness that occurs on the chest, neck, and face. They may also occur peripherally in the arms and the legs. As tiny blood vessels under the skin become more dilated more blood flows through those blood vessels.

The good news is there are a lot of potential strategies to address hot flashes and night sweats. The first strategy is to avoid triggers. Simple things like staying in a cool room and having a circulating fan going can be helpful. Sometimes exercise can trigger a menopausal hot flash or night sweats. Certainly anxiety, stress, panic, and nervousness can trigger hot flashes and night sweats. At night, insomnia can trigger a hot flash, which can trigger night sweats, which can trigger insomnia, and so on. Dressing in loose clothing and having loose bedding on your bed can help prevent night sweats as well.

Dietarily speaking, proper hydration is very important. Caffeine can trigger night sweats and hot flashes. Chocolate, spicy foods, refined sugars and desserts can all trigger hot flashes and night sweats, so be cautious about those desserts after dinnertime.

Coffee
Meditation

Therapeutically, many things that can be beneficial. Consider deep breathing exercises, meditation, hypnosis, yoga, or acupuncture. For some women, mild to moderate exercise is helpful for minimizing, reducing severity, and frequency of hot flashes. Eating a diet rich in phytoestrogens can be helpful for hot flashes. Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin E  found in flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds can be helpful for hot flashes.

There are also specific botanical agents that can be useful for hot flashes. The phytoestrogens found in red clover, gingko, ginseng, hops, licorice, thyme, alfalfa, soy, kudzu and dong quai can be effective. Rice bran oil has also been beneficial in studies to reduce both the severity and frequency of hot flashes.

Evening primrose oil (EPO) contains high amounts of an essential Omega 6 fatty acid called GLA, Gama Linolenic Acid. We know that GLA can have some significant impacts on improving inflammatory cytokine levels and the pro-inflammatory chemicals produced in the body actually can be decreased by taking GLA.

EPO is utilized mostly for three conditions. 1) Skin inflammatory conditions like eczema and acne, 2) breast pain, and 3) menopause. EPO has a number of studies for treating cyclical mastalgia or cyclical breast pain effectively.

Regarding menopause, I think of EPO for two therapeutic purposes. Firstly, for hot flashes. In a recent study, compared to placebo, EPO decreased the severity of hot flashes. It did not cut down on the frequency of hot flashes, but when those women studied did report hot flashes, they were less severe while taking evening primrose oil compared to placebo.

I also like EPO for improving risk factors for breast cancer. There have been some studies that show that, in petri dishes, when breast cancer cells are treated with GLA and evening primrose oil, those breast cancer cells become less aggressive and less invasive.  I think in terms of promoting healthy breast tissue perimenopausally and postmenopausally, evening primrose oil has a real role to play.

Flax Seed

The whole flax seed, flax seed flour, and flax seed meal have all been used in perimenopause/menopause for the positive effects of the lignans, a unique type of fiber for flax. The lignans are known to influence the metabolism of estrogen in fantastic ways. Lignans cause the 2-Hydroxy estrogen metabolite to increase and the 16-hydroxy metabolite to decrease.  This sets up a favorable metabolic state for reducing risk factors for breast cancer, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, and a number of other health issues that can occur postmenopausally.

Flax Seeds

In addition, flax has been studied and shown to be beneficial for treating not only the menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and mood disorders during menopause, but also for helping to decrease pro-inflammatory chemicals and cytokines that are known to elevate risk factors for osteoporosis, dementia, breast cancer, a number of postmenopausal conditions that can significantly impact your life.

Black cohosh

Black cohosh affects serotonin levels in the brain AND it contains phytoestrogens. If we look at black cohosh and simply look at its effectiveness on hot flashes, night sweats, depression and anxiety, it turns out it can be rather effective during perimenopause and menopause. Oftentimes in large scientific studies, researchers use menopausal scales that go through a number of different symptoms. If the participant’s overall score goes lower, the therapy is considered to be ineffective. However, if you parcel out and dissect just those symptoms that you would actually expect to improve when you improve neurotransmitter serotonin levels such as vasomotor symptoms, hot flashes, night sweats, depression and anxiety, black cohosh actually does seem to be effective. That’s likely why it’s the most popular botanical extract used in the United States for perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.

Black Cohosh

Facts About Cellulite

Cellulite is a condition that is more prominent in women than it is in men. The condition occurs when the collagen in our bodies become loose allowing our skin to move away from underlying tissues. When this occurs the fat in our bodies which looked more compressed begins to show causing the unsightly sags and wrinkles and dimples we hate so much.

Cellulite is not a harmful condition or should you be concerned from a health perspective. The reduction of cellulite is more of a cosmetic condition than a medical one. Those with cellulite can do everything that other people can do. When you have cellulite it is more prominent in the legs buttocks and arms. Women who suffer from this condition more than men will go through great lengths to remove the outward appearance of the condition with creams, exercise and in some cases surgery.

What Causes Cellulite?

As stated above, cellulite is just a natural condition that affects us when we get older. The first sign of the condition can be found in the face.  People with cellulite will begin to see bags form under their eyes. Most people will contribute this condition to lack of sleep when in fact it is the first sign of the condition.

The next sign of the condition will be wrinkles around the eyes which have been coined “crow’s feet”. From there other areas of the face will show the condition and finally move throughout the rest of the body.

Legs and buttocks are typically the next to shows signs of cellulite.

Heredity

Heredity or your family history is the first sign that you may be afflicted with this condition. If you look at other members of your family such as your mother and grandmother, you will see how they age. If they age well, as the term suggests, then the signs of cellulite will be less apparent. If we are said not to age well then the signs of cellulite become more pronounced

Stress

Stress is another key component in the development of cellulite. Stated above the term “Lived a hard life” is another indication of stress. When we are stressed we tend to eat more, sleep less, refrain from exercise as well as rev-up our heart rates, and perform other acts that are not healthy for us. When we experience stress our bodies start to wear down. When we are down our collagen levels begin to diminish or break down which leads to cellulite appearance.

Diet

Diet is a main cause of the amount of fat that we have in our bodies. Now no matter what your diet is or which diet plan you choose to go on, our bodies will always have fat in them. This fat is what’s showing up when we have cellulite. Reducing the amount of fat in our bodies will help the condition but it is a short term fix. To help with the appearance of cellulite in our bodies we need to add or fix the collagen that has been lost.

Slow Metabolism

Our metabolism plays a key part in the way our bodies process food and in return determines if the food is broken down into energy or fat. If we have a high metabolism the likelihood of the food being broken down into energy is higher than if we had a slower metabolism which would store the food as fat for later consumption. If the food is stored as fat then the appearance of cellulite is greater. This is why cellulite appears more prominent in older women than it does in younger individuals.

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Hormone Changes

Another reason cellulite appears more prominent in women than it does in men is because of hormone changes. When women are young they begin to experience hormone changes. As teenagers they enter into puberty and begin their development for having children. When they are in their early twenties women begin the desire to have children. When this becomes a reality their bodies become very hormonal which helps in the development of these children. After childbirth women once again change their hormone levels in order to handle the needs of the newborns.

When the children are all grown and out of the house the condition known as menopause sets in. This condition makes the women unable to conceive a child and once again the hormones in their bodies change. This constant flux of hormone changes throughout life wears down the body which in turn reduces the amount of collagen we produce which intensifies the appearance of cellulite.

Dehydration

Dehydration is the condition where the body is lacking the amount of water it needs in order to function. Since collagen is supported by hydration levels and reacts to the amount of water in the system, when we are dehydrated the collagen in our bodies dries up as well which contributes to the appearance of cellulite.

Toxins in the body

Fact or MythCellulite is caused by toxins in the body?

Myth – Toxins in the body have nothing to do with cellulite. One of the main claims of the cellulite creams and other products that we use to remove cellulite state that they will also remove toxins from the body. It is stated that these toxins cause the fatty tissue break away from the collagen which causes cellulitis.

Removing toxins from the body is always a good thing. Doing your research into what foods will help remove these toxins will be a great endeavor for you and your health. Unfortunately when it comes to removing cellulite from your body in this manner you are wasting your time.

Men Vs Women

Fact or MythWomen get cellulite more often than Men do?

Fact – Sorry ladies, but it is true. Women are more likely to get cellulite than men. The main reason for this is women have less connective tissue in their body to support the fat in our bodies as we age. As a result, the collagen that fills in between this connective tissue lessens and the fat in your body begins to sag causing cellulite. Female hormones also play a major role.

When it comes to men, according to an Easter Virginian Medical School study, only 10% of all men are prone to cellulite. When it comes to men I guess we have to suffer with male pattern baldness, erectile dysfunction and beer bellies. I hope that made some of my female readers a little happier.

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Worsens With Age

Fact – Sorry, this is another sad but true moment. As women age they begin to have more and more hormone changes. This starts at puberty and moves on to menopause. When women get older they stop producing estrogen which is the main hormone produced by women. When women produce estrogen they are also helping with the natural blood flow through their body. With this decreased blood flow in the body they are also subject to the decreased production of collagen.

When women start to loose collagen their eyes and face begin to sag, the fat under their arms begin to sag and sway and their butts and thighs begin to show signs of bumps and bulges. I bet the male readers are starting to feel a little better now after the erectile dysfunction comment.

As we get older and older the signs of cellulitis become more and more pronounced. This is why the elderly look wrinkled. As stated before it begins to show itself around the eyes and lips. From there the rest of the face is affected continuing down through the rest of the body.

Genetics Plays a Role

Fact or MythGenetics plays a role in whether or not you get cellulite?

Fact – Sorry again ladies. The fact is that if members of your family have cellulite then you will more than likely have cellulite too. Go and look at your mother, grandmother, aunts and female cousins. As they get older what are the effects of cellulite on their bodies? For those of you who are interested in learning the severity of cellulite on your body there is a test that you can purchase that will test how severe your body will be affected by cellulite.

One word of warning before you go out and purchase this test. Almost all women at some point in their lifetime will have to deal with cellulite and the effects of cellulite on your body. With this being said knowing how severe you can be or will be affected by this condition is just a fad idea.  The price of this test is very high and will not allow you to prevent the onset of cellulitis. So save your money.

Being Fit and Trim

Fact or MythCellulite only happens to people who are overweight or out of shape?

Myth – This is a myth. In fact, you can be as fit and as trim as humanly possible and still suffer from cellulite. Cellulite has nothing to do with how much fat someone has in their body. Cellulite is caused by the lack of or breakdown of collagen underlying the skin and nothing else. When you have low amounts of perfect collagen in your body the skin moves away from your body causing the condition.

Exercise Can Help

Fact or MythExercise will help reduce the appearance of fat from cellulite?

Fact: Exercise will help with the appearance of cellulite. Now let me make this clear, exercise will not remove cellulite from your body on a permanent basis. Like I stated, fat doesn’t cause cellulite it is only shown through the skin because of the lack of collagen in the body. If you exercise and remove the fat in your body the condition caused by cellulite is lessened since there is less fat to be shown.

Some of the exercises that you can work on are squats, running, jogging, leg exercise, arm exercise and other general exercise that will work on the parts of the body that show the fat more prominently. So keep your body fat and weight in check and the amount of cellulite that is shown will go down but the condition will remain.

Walking Compared to Exercise for Diabetes

Whether due to physical health problems, lack of free time, or lack of desire to engage in extreme exercise routines, many people simply don’t exercise. Because of this, America is the fattest nation in the world.

But you don’t have to beat yourself up in the gym in order to lose weight and stay healthy. Walking has been proven to provide amazing health benefits, and is much friendlier to your body than lugging weights around.

Research shows that brisk walking is just as beneficial for preventing diabetes as combined resistance and endurance type exercise, mostly because participants are more likely to stick with a structured walking regimen than a more physical exercise program.

One study examined diabetes patients and the clinical benefits of a 12-month exercise intervention program consisting of either brisk walking or a medical fitness program.

The study consisted of 92 participants with type 2 diabetes, each within 9 years of age 60. Half were assigned an exercise regimen consisting of brisk walking for 60 minutes, 3 times per week, and the other half were given a more strenuous exercise program.

After a 12 month period, the participants were measured for diabetes symptoms, including hemoglobin and blood glucose levels, changes in blood pressure, plasma lipid concentrations, insulin sensitivity, body composition, physical fitness, program adherence rate and health-related quality of life.

In 12 months, both groups had similar attrition rates, as more than half of the participants dropped out due to physical overuse injuries and lack of motivation, but the interesting outcome is that those who simply walked briskly a few times per week had similar health results as those who worked out more fervently.

Researchers concluded that walking “represents an equally effective intervention to modulate glycemic control and cardiovascular risk profile in type 2 diabetes patients when compared with more individualized medical fitness programs.”

It’s easy to imagine why walking, and difficult exercises for that matter, are easy to lose interest in. But studies show that simply put, those who walk frequently tend to live longer, healthier lives.

We’re not meant to be sedentary, and sitting around does much more harm than good, as joints become dry and stiff, and muscles become weak, so it is important to get outside and walk 3 times per week. It can even help relieve symptoms of diabetes.

Sciatica and Self Care

Sciatica and Self Care

Man suffering from back pain

Sciatica can be a debilitating medical condition which effects many people around the world. If you have sciatica, you know just how painful and disruptive it can be to your life. Basic activities like walking, sitting, going to the restroom, driving in a car, grocery shopping, having sex, playing with your children all become difficult if not impossible due to pain. It can be extremely frustrating because if it does not resolve after the first 2-4 week, the chances it it recurring and lasting beyond year 1 are quite high. Not only does it take a tremendous toll on our physical, emotional, and mental well-being, it can also be destructive to our pocketbooks. Estimates in the US alone show US$128Mill for hospital care, US$730Mill for absenteeism and US$708Mill for disablement.

Sciatica is a relatively common condition. Over the course a lifetime, roughly 15- 40% of us will be affected by it. If we think of these numbers in a different way, that means somewhere between 1 in 4 to more than 1 in 3 of us will be affected by sciatica over the course of our lives. Each year, on average 2-5% of us will develop a new onset of sciatica. It occurs slightly more frequently in male than females. The estimated frequency of sciatica among patients with chronic low back pain goes up substantially and estimated lifetime occurrence of low back pain is between 50-70%.

Unfortunately, these are not the most frustrating numbers with respect sciatica. Once an individual develops sciatica treatment success is rather low and rate of reoccurrence is rather high. Studies have shown that 30-50% of patients with sciatica continue to experience troublesome symptoms of pain, numbness, and tingling at 2 and even 3 years after initial onset of symptoms. As the sciatica becomes more chronic (> 12 weeks), or with recurrent episodes, it becomes less responsive to treatment. Recurrence within one year can occur in as many as 2/3 of all people.

The following are all elements contributing to the process of the pain associated with sciatica:

  1. Structural/Physical changes to the spine
  2. Structural/Physical changes to muscles
  3. Weak muscles
  4. Inflammatory chemicals
  5. Pain Chemicals
  6. Hormone imbalances
  7. Nutritional deficiencies
  8. Dehydration
  9. Inadequate sleep
  10. Mood disturbances

For most people, sciatica responds to self-care measures. Although resting for a day or so may be tempting for you to provide some relief, prolonged inactivity will make your signs and symptoms worse. Remember, the sooner you begin treatment and prevention measures, the more effective they will be.

The following can play a key role in protecting your back and preventing sciatica:

Exercise regularly. To keep your back strong, pay special attention to your core muscles — the muscles in your abdomen and lower back that are essential for proper posture and alignment.

Maintain proper posture when you sit. Choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests and a swivel base. Consider placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level. Do not sit on things in your back pockets, such as a wallet or mobile device.

Use good body mechanics. If you stand for long periods, rest one foot on a stool or small box from time to time. When you lift something heavy, let your lower extremities do the work. Move straight up and down. Keep your back straight and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body. Avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously. Find a lifting partner if the object is heavy or awkward.

If you smoke, stop. Smoking promotes disc degeneration and floods your bloodstream with irritating pro-inflammatory chemicals.

If you are overweight, lose weight. Being overweight or obese places extra stress on your spine and discs, weakens the muscles of your back, abdomen, and buttocks, and floods your bloodstream with irritating pro-inflammatory chemicals.

Other self-care treatments that might help include:

Cold packs. Initially, you might get relief from a cold pack placed on the painful area for up to 20 minutes several times a day. Use an ice pack or a package of frozen peas wrapped in a clean towel.

Hot packs. After two to three days, apply heat to the areas that hurt. Use hot packs, a heat lamp or a heating pad on the lowest setting. If you continue to have pain, try alternating warm and cold packs. More specifics on contrast hydrotherapy will be given below.

Stretching. Stretching exercises for your low back can help you feel better and might help relieve nerve root compression. Avoid jerking, bouncing or twisting during the stretch, and try to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds. More specific stretches for sciatica will be reviewed below.

Stretching

Alternative therapies commonly used for low back pain and sciatica include:

Acupuncture. In acupuncture, the practitioner inserts hair-thin needles into your skin at specific points on your body. Some studies have suggested that acupuncture can help back pain, while others have found no benefit. If you decide to try acupuncture, choose a licensed practitioner to ensure that he or she has had extensive training.

Chiropractic. Spinal adjustment (manipulation) is one form of therapy chiropractors use to treat restricted spinal mobility. The goal is to restore spinal movement and, as a result, improve function and decrease pain. Spinal manipulation appears to be as effective and safe as standard treatments for low back pain, but might not be appropriate for radiating pain.

Massage

Massage Therapy. Getting regular professional massage therapy is a terrific way to keep muscles, joints, and nerves healthy.

MSM for Joint Pain

MSM for Joint Pain

Joint Pain

For those who suffer from it, joint pain can be incredibly difficult to deal with, as it often lingers long after the day’s work has been done. Unfortunately, everyone experiences some degradation of joint tissues as they age, eventually leading to ailments like osteoarthritis and other painful joint issues.

Osteoarthritis (OA), a type of arthritis that occurs when flexible tissue at the ends of bone wears down, is the most common chronic condition affecting the joints. Essentially, when the cartilage or cushion between the joints breaks down and leads to stiffness, swelling, and often intense pain.

When we’re young, our joints contain a firm, rubbery material called cartilage that covers the ends of our bones. This provides a cushion between bones and a smooth surface that allows them to slide easily. But as the body ages, lifestyle and simply age catch up to the joints and the cartilage breaks down. This deterioration of cartilage causes the joint to swell and stiffens the joint.

As osteoarthritis continues to develop throughout a lifetime, the bones can also break down, sometimes developing growths called bone spurs, causing bits of bone and cartilage to float around in the joint freely. This elicits the body’s release of cytokines and enzymes to the area, which eventually break the cartilage down further. Eventually, osteoarthritis leads to bone on bone contact in the joint, which creates more pain, more stiffness, and makes the joint practically unusable.

Statistics show that half of all people will eventually develop symptoms of knee osteoarthritis during their lifetime, and 25 percent will develop symptoms of hip osteoarthritis by the age of 85.

With it affecting nearly everyone at some point in life, there are a lot of treatments available for osteoarthritis, some require a prescription and others do not. For mild OA, the usual treatment is nonprescription pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen, and topical creams. Topical pain relievers are great for isolated pain management when just a few joints are involved.

NSAIDS

Prescription medication most often prescribed are called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These can be a little dangerous, as they are particularly bad for the stomach. The FDA warns of cardiovascular side effects and gastrointestinal bleeding as two possible risks, and some also include risks of stroke, heart attack, and life threatening skin reactions.

There are natural remedies for OS that, so far, have been found to have little to no risk of dangerous side effects.

One such treatment option is glucosamine-chondroitin supplements. Glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally found in the joint fluid and thought to trigger cartilage production and reduce inflammation, with some studies showing its ability to relieve moderate to severe pain and slow the progression of OS.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are quite popular supplements that can be found at nearly any drug or grocery store. There is another supplement that is often recommended to be taken alongside Glucosamine and chondroitin that can help boost the effects.

MSM or methylsulfonylmethane is a chemical found in many places like green plants, animals, and humans, and can also be created in the laboratory. While it is also a popular supplement for joint pain, there is only a small amount of research to verify its claims. What little research is available, however, speaks favorably of MSM as a possible treatment for OS.

While MSM is normally taken for joint pain, people take it for a whole range of ailments like People also take MSM by mouth for relief of allergies, chronic constipation, “sour stomach”, ulcers, a bowel disease called diverticulosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), mood elevation, obesity, poor circulation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. MSM is believed to supply sulfur to the body, helping it make other important chemicals.

MSM works by supplementing the body with extra sulfur for creating methionine, which helps in important bodily processes like making other chemicals, forming connective tissue, synthesizing/metabolizing foods and absorbing nutrients to be used for energy. Biologically active sulfur is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is necessary in many bodily functions. MSM is thought to help form connective tissue and repair joints, tendons and ligaments.

knee-arthritis

One study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology researched the efficacy of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and boswellic acids (BA) versus glucosamine sulfate (GS) in the treatment of knee arthritis.

Researchers conducted the study on 120 participants with arthritis of the knee for a 60 day period. Each participant was treated daily with either 5mg of MSM and 7.2mg of boswellic acids, or 1500mg GS. At the conclusion of the study, as well as 6 months later, each group was tested for pain using a pain scale, and joint function using the Lequesne Index (LI). Results showed that the group being treated with MSM and BA showed improvements in pain and flexibility at the 6 month mark. Researchers concluded from his study that MSM presents another possible treatment option for arthritis, which until this study was basically being treated with glucosamine supplements.

Another form of MSM being tested is Mega MSM. Researchers studies the effects of Mega MSM on participants for 12 weeks on a group of Chinese participants. 100 males and 50 females were given a dose of Mega MSM, and the study concluded that positive effects were observed, including improved joint function, relief of symptoms of joint degradation, and a general positive improvement in quality of life.

Not only has MSM been found to help with joint pain, but it is also being looked at as a possible treatment for many other ailments throughout the body, making it one of those rare substances that is almost a must have for everyone, providing a lot of great benefits in the body with little to no detrimental effects.

MSM can help rebuild the lining of the digestive tract, reduce inflammation, and is also useful in treating leaky gut syndrome, helping to ebb the flow of harmful particles from a leaky gut which cause inflammation.

We’re all going to get older, and with age comes age related illness and a general degradation of the body, but with proper research and an ever-expanding scientific knowledge of wonderful alternative treatments like MSM, joint pain and arthritis doesn’t have to be debilitating.

Your teeth, your heart, and erectile dysfunction

For those dealing with erectile dysfunction, their teeth are the last place they would think to look for the cause. However, as we’re discovering more and more each day the body is incredibly synergistic.

Studies have shown a link between chronic periodontitis, a disease of the mouth wherein the periodontal tissues are chronically inflamed, and erectile dysfunction.

Researchers conducting a meta-study of all erectile dysfunction studies uncovered a link between the two afflictions with relative ease, reporting that every study examined displayed a positive connection between the two.

The connection is so certain that researchers recommend that doctors treating patients for erectile dysfunction also refer their patients to a dentist for evaluation.

Further studies reveal that men with ED were as much as 79 percent more likely to have periodontal disease.

The cause is actually quite intuitive.

Chronic periodontal disease causes inflammation in the body, and chronic inflammation damages endothelial cells in the body. These are the cells that form the lining of every blood vessel in your body, including the penis.

Thus, chronic periodontal disease can lead to disrupted blood flow throughout the body, including the penis, and good blood flow is sort of a prerequisite for an erection.

The good news is that for most cases, and if caught early, periodontal disease is easily treatable, and unlike more severe causes of erectile dysfunction, can be reversed with a few good cleanings at the dentist’s office.

However, for those with more severe cases, surgery may be necessary in order to restore the gums to health and restore the effects, such as bone loss and pockets of bacteria.

Erectile dysfunction can be an indicator of a vast array of more serious ailments and can even reliably predict a cardiovascular episode like a heart attack, so don’t ignore the signs. If you see something, say something, and then head to the dentist and get those chompers looked at.

Finding out you’ve got erectile dysfunction is difficult enough, but finding out that this seemingly benign enough disorder can actually be a sign of worse things to come can be downright devastating news.

Well, unfortunately, this is exactly what some recent studies are discovering.

Researchers are finding that erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease (CVD) share some of the same risk factors, and frequently coexist. Studies show that 70 percent of men with cardiovascular disease also have erectile dysfunction.

While this information is somewhat disturbing, the real bombshell is that studies also show that “In addition, clinical studies have demonstrated that ED in men with no known CVD often precedes a CVD event by 2-5 years.”

This means that erectile dysfunction often comes before some sort of cardiovascular event like a heart attack. Cardiovascular disease is often related to plaque buildup in the arteries, and this same plaque buildup can cause erectile dysfunction. Thus, erectile dysfunction can “help provide a window of opportunity for CVD risk mitigation.”

Especially in men between the ages of 30 and 60, erectile dysfunction can alert doctors to the possible presence of CVD, and more importantly, provide an opportunity to prevent the impending CVD event.

While receiving the news that you’ve not only got erectile dysfunction and may also have cardiovascular disease is not pleasant, it can absolutely save your life, making the connections gleaned in these studies invaluable to millions of men across the globe.

Erectile dysfunction is not only harmful to your self-esteem, it can be an indication of a more serious issue, so it remains paramount that those suffering from erectile dysfunction closely monitor symptoms and duration, as it could lead to a cardiovascular episode.

Remedies for Better Prostate Health

Remedies for Better Prostate Health

Calling all men…you have bodies which require maintenance too! In fact, men need to focus on their prostate health long before concerns arise due to healthy aging. Don’t take prostate health for granted! Most men will develop prostate concerns at some point in their lives, so good habits now serve as an investment to benefit your prostate in the long run.

Lifestyle recommendations for healthy prostate

  • Get moving. Being overweight increases your risk factors for developing prostate problems. Independent from weight, studies have shown that men who are physically active are less likely to develop prostate concerns. Even just two-to-three hours of walking each week helps.
  • Go red. Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant nutrient, lycopene, which supports prostate health. Cooking tomatoes with olive oil increases lycopene’s absorption and lycopene concentration is higher in canned tomato sauce and paste than whole tomatoes.
  • Go green. Drinking green tea daily and eating greens daily improve the health profile of your prostate. My favorite 5 greens are spinach, kale, watercress, Swiss chard, and arugula.
  • Get crunchy. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts support healthy hormone balance. Nuts and seeds pack a powerful prostate protecting punch due to their rich amounts of essential minerals and omega 3 fatty acids. Just a handful of nuts and or seeds twice a day can go a long way.
  • Go meatless. Recent studies have shown vegan diets to cut BPH and prostate cancer risk by 1/3, while pescatarian diets (adding in eggs, dairy, fish and shellfish) can cut risk by 1/4.
  • Get sun. Men with adequate Vitamin D levels maintain better prostate health. Expose your face, arms, hands, and legs to the sun for about 20-30 minutes several times each week to help ensure adequate vitamin D levels or take supplements.
Leafy Greens and Vegetables

The following supplements can also be useful to support prostate health:

  • Beta-sitosterol: Taking this plant-derived compound may support healthy urinary flow. The dose is 50-200mg per day.
  • Pumpkin seed oil: 1000 mg/day supports prostate health and urinary flow.
  • Nettle Root: may support healthy urinary volume and flow rate. A good dose would be between 100-500mg daily.
  • Saw palmetto extract: Helps limit the amount of testosterone that can bind in the prostate, thereby supporting prostate and urinary health.  A good dose would be between 320mg-640mg daily.
  • Pygeum africanum extract: Helps limit the amount of testosterone that can bind in the prostate, thereby supporting prostate and urinary health. A good dose would be between 100mg-250mg daily.

Prostate Tea Formula

Tea

First, let me explain why there are not many prostate teas on the market. Most of the herbs found helpful for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate symptoms are not easy to make teas due to where in the herbs the active ingredients are found. For instance, if the active ingredients are found in roots, seeds, or bark of a plant the tea requires a decoction in order to extract the herb’s beneficial compounds. On the other hand, if the active ingredients are found in the leaves, stems, flowers, or fruits then an infusion more typical of a tea preparation works well. For the most part, herbs helpful for prostate are found in roots, seeds, and bark.

Definitions

Decoction: The boiling of bark, roots, or seeds in water for 10-15 minutes to extract active ingredients.

Infusion: Soaking leaves, stems, fruits, or flowers in hot water for 10-15 minutes to extract active ingredients.

You CAN make a tea from the herbs, however it is a two step process. First, you boil any roots, bark, or seeds to make the decoction. You filter away the liquid and then make an infusion with the remaining liquid with any leaves, stem, fruits, and flowers.

All of this being said, the following herbs have all been researched for improving BPH symptoms and I have found them to be remarkably effective in treating BPH in my own male patients:

  • Pygeum africanum (Pygeum) –Bark
  • Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto) –Fruit
  • Panax ginseng (Red Ginseng) – Root
  • Urtica dioica (Stinging nettles) –Root or seed
  • Grifola frodosa (Maitake) – Mushroom
  • Uva ursi (uva ursi) – leaves and stems
  • Fouquieria splendens (ocotillo) – cactus
  • Seidlitza rosmarinus (type of rosemary) – leaves and stems
  • Epilobium parviflorum (small flowered willow) – flowers

The herbs can be mixed together in equal parts for decoction and the second combination in equal parts as well for the infusion. One tablespoon of mixed herb for the decoction per cup of water and one tablespoon of mixed herb for the infusion per cup of water. Obviously, you can make larger batches than just one cup at a time, just increase the amount of herbs to coincide with the increase in water. Store in the refrigerator and drink within 48 hours.

Vision and Environmental toxicity

Vision and Environmental Toxicity

If you’re like most animals, you rely on your vision as the main navigation tool guiding you through life. For those who have unfortunately lost their vision, or have reduced visual ability, life can be a struggle, even with coping mechanisms.

Car Accident

There are many causes of vision loss, from heredity to catastrophic incidents like a car or motorcycle accident, but there are many more hidden factors between these two that may come as a surprise to many.

The environment, more specifically harmful environmental substances, can lay claim to many ailments, from heavy metal poisoning and cardiovascular illness, all the way to deafness and blindness. But sometimes the environment is not easily identified as the direct cause of blindness.

A study published in 2016 in the Journal of Diabetes Research identifies external environmental factors to be complicit in blindness, namely substances in the phthalate family, chemicals we come in contact with during our everyday lives, are ingesting in unhealthy quantities, and yet have most likely never heard of.

Phthalates are a type of ester made of phthalic acid used in plastics to give the plastic more flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity. The issue with these chemicals is that they do not share a covalent bond with the plastic its self, so exposure to heat or organic solvents can release them from the plastic, and in today’s era of just about everything being made of plastic, phthalic acid very commonly leaches into the food we eat from plastic dishes. In fact, most Americans tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have metabolites of multiple phthalates in their urine.

Researchers noticed an association between phthalate metabolites found in urine and self-reported eye affliction in individuals with diabetes.

Exposure to phthalates has already been associated with type 2 diabetes, but researchers are still trying to figure out the mechanisms of this relationship. In doing so, they noticed that patients with type 2 diabetes who experienced retinopathy also had high levels of phthalates in their urine.

They studied the association of 12 urinary phthalate metabolites with self-reported eye affliction/retinopathy in 1,004 participants with diabetes. Researchers found Self-reported eye affliction/retinopathy had 82% accuracy with Cohen’s kappa, a statistic which measures inter-rater agreement for qualitative (categorical) items.

Scientists found this association between Urinary mono-n-octyl phthalate and eye affliction/retinopathy so profound that they are led to believe there are existing cases of blindness due to type 2 diabetes that have been misclassified, that are actually due to exposure to phthalates.

Another recent study examined the link between urinary environmental chemical concentrations and vitamin D in elderly individuals suffering from vision, hearing, and balance disorders. Researchers aimed to “determine the relationships between urinary environmental chemicals (including heavy metals, environmental bisphenols, pesticides, arsenic, and phthalates) concentrations and vision, hearing, and balance disorders in a national population-based setting.”

We all know that heavy metal poisoning can easily lead to death, but research shows more and more that they can play a major role in debilitating disease, as can other compounds we’re exposed to on a daily basis.

The study found that the compounds cadmium, molybdenum, and tungsten concentrations, all commonly linked to heart disease, can also be associated with vision disorder. Other compounds tested were also linked to hearing disorder, buzzing and hissing in the ears, and ringing in the ears, and still more were newly linked to balance disorders.

Heart Disease

These chemicals were easily detected in the urine of participants, making it relatively simple to get checked by a doctor regularly. Yet the true discovery is the continual realization that the substances we’ve deemed to be the cause of one ailment are truly doing more damage to our bodies than previously realized.

It’s been decades since we discontinued using Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and the effects of it are still in the American consciousness. In 1962 Rachel Carson wrote about the dangers of DDT to both the environment and to human life, claiming that it caused cancer, sparking the early embers of the now widely popular environmental movement.

But long after abandoning DDT, American farmers have devised new creations to help prevent crop destruction via insect, and these chemicals may not be much better for your health than the blacklisted DDT.

Pesticides

Research has associated pesticide exposure with retinopathy in agricultural workers. Perhaps even more disturbing is that the wives of these agricultural workers also exhibited ocular damage from pesticide exposure, even though they are contacting it second hand.

While farm workers are likely the most affected by pesticide exposure, its reach extends to the supermarket and into your kitchen, with one of the newly observed effects of exposure to common pesticides being damage to the eye.

One study shows that exposure to pesticides via inhalation, ingestion, dermal contact and ocular exposure can all cause damage to the eye. Physical exposure via contact with the eye can lead to absorption in the ocular tissue and potential ocular toxicity.

Researchers tested the tissue inside the eye of animals exposed to pesticides and found Cholinesterase enzymes with evidence of organophosphate-induced inhibition. The effects of pesticides have been observed in various parts of the eye including conjunctiva, cornea, lens, retina and the optic nerve.

Optic-nerve

Japanese researchers call this disorder Saku disease, an optico-autonomic peripheral neuropathy, has been described in Japan in people living in an area where organophosphates were used, and authorities consider this a serious health concern.

Thankfully, there is renewed focus on fresh, organic produce in America and much of the modern world, but there are still those who cannot necessarily afford to live that lifestyle, or who must work on farms that use pesticides to treat produce, but hopefully regulations can continue to restrict the types and amounts of chemicals that agriculturalists are able to use on the food and products we’re all forced to consume and have exposure to in our daily lives, because the gift of sight is truly a remarkable one.

 

Vision

Brain Function and Weight Loss

Looking at brain function can be fascinating when it comes to dieting and weight loss. Our mood and emotions can have a tremendous impact on our eating behavior. Many people who experience anger, frustration, anxiety, or depression use eating to regulate their emotions in complex ways.  Choosing nutrient poor foods high in fat and sugar content also reduces the intake of fruits and vegetables and overall dietary quality. This situation is very common for individuals suffering from sadness, loneliness, or concern. Stress and external triggers can lead to anger or frustration which tends to be associated with a lack of control on the quantity of food consumed. Low cognitive restraint, or an inability to restrict food intake in order to control body weight, is common in those who struggle with anxiety. Each of these scenarios can contribute to becoming overweight and obesity.

Dieting and weight loss can be particularly challenging for those who are affected by emotional eating habits. For long term success to occur in changing eating behavior, it often requires a deeper understanding of each individual’s external triggers and specific imbalances of emotional neurotransmitters. For instance, eating a meal may reduce arousal and irritability and increase calmness and positive mood, whereas a small meal portion size may have opposing effects on mood. Sweetness and fatty structure can also improve mood by activating brain opioidergic, dopaminergic, and benzodiazepine/g-amino butyric acid neurotransmission. In fact, dopamine neurotransmission reflects the ‘‘wanting’’ motivational aspect of eating, whereas opioid and benzodiazepine/g-aminobutyric acid are linked to the ‘‘liking’’ hedonic aspect of food-related stimuli. Properly balancing these neurotransmitters can go a long way in positively changing eating behaviors and success in weight loss.

Scientists are learning interesting things about appetite. Most recently they have finding that it is not appetite per say that is the problem with eating disorders and weight control, but rather a fear of appetite associated with possible anomalies in systems related to fear and defense of appetitive behaviors, particularly in relationship to food, shape and weight. Anomalies in these systems can impact attention.

Attention is part of the process of selectively processing information. The allocation of attention is influenced by top-down information (representations of goals and their relevance). These goals are merged with bottom-up priority signals. A balance and synthesis of these inputs determines the allocation of attention. Certain bottom-up signals such as threats have very high importance. Additionally, motivational drives such as hunger can also change attentional processing. Anxiety and fear around eating are thought to be underpinned by maladaptive attentional biases toward threats. In an analysis of 172 studies, patients with a wide variety of anxiety disorders had a small to moderate attentional bias to threat cues. “Fear of fat” and “fear of carbs” are central to the weight control as they relate to body shape or weight with a fear of ingesting fats and carbs. Individuals with weight control problems usually report anxiety in anticipation of a meal, concern about the content of the foods consumed, and fear of the effects of food on health and weight. Thus, both food and fatness are feared.

A recent study performed at Bringham Young University and Obesity the part of the brain, called the pre-frontal cortex, involved in executive functioning, prioritizing interests, and making difficult decisions on competing interests. People who had lost weight had high activity in their prefrontal cortex when they viewed foods like pizza, burgers and ice cream cones, which could explain why they succeeded in losing weight, researchers said.  The pre-frontal cortexes of successful dieters were able to beat out the parts of the brain involved with emotion, fear, and hunger.

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