Category Archives: Featured Articles

January 28th, 2015

Get a Grip on Anxiety

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If you think prescription medications are the only option for anxiety and panic attacks, you’ll be happy to know about these very effective natural solutions

If you’ve never experienced anxiety or panic attacks, it’s hard to imagine just how uncomfortable they can be. More than 20 million Americans suffer from anxiety—medically defined as ”an unpleasant emotional state ranging from mild unease to intense fear.” While fear is a rational response to danger, anxiety usually lacks a clear or realistic cause. Severe anxiety will often produce panic attacks—intense feelings of fear. These attacks are most often associated with agoraphobia, an intense fear of being alone or being in public places.

The Cause Most Doctors Ignore

Both psychological stress and biochemical factors—such as caffeine and drug use—can trigger anxiety and panic attacks. Elevated levels of lactic acid in the blood is also one of the most significant biochemical factors. When the body lacks oxygen, lactate is the final product in the breakdown of blood sugar. In fact, injecting anxiety sufferers with lactate can produce severe panic attacks. In normal individuals, however, nothing happens. So it appears that individuals with anxiety may be sensitive to lactate. It stands to reason, then, that reducing lactate levels should be a priority, yet most physicians ignore this goal.

Reducing Lactate Levels

There are six nutritional factors that may be responsible for elevated lactate levels in individuals with anxiety:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Caffeine
  3. Sugar
  4. Deficiency of the B vitamins niacin, vitamin B6, and thiamin (B1)
  5. Deficiency of calcium and/or magnesium
  6. Food allergies

Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and food allergens goes a long way toward relieving symptoms in people with anxiety. In fact, just eliminating coffee can, in some cases, relieve symptoms completely. In one study of four men and two women with generalized anxiety who drank 1.5—3.5 cups of coffee per day, avoiding caffeine for one week brought about significant symptom relief. The degree of improvement was so noticeable that all patients volunteered to continue abstaining from caffeine after the study.

Magnesium: The Calming Mineral

Magnesium is essential in more than 300 biochemical reactions of the human body, and a deficiency has been reported to lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability, fear, insomnia, confusion, and memory loss.

In one double-blind study, 264 people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder were given either a placebo or 300 mg of magnesium. The magnesium group had a statistically significant reduction in symptoms. For best results, use a highly absorbable form of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate and magnesium glycinate.

Omega-3 Fats

Anxiety also appears to be linked to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies using omega-3-rich fish oils to treat anxiety have shown impressive results. In one trial, fish oil was shown to decrease anger and anxiety in substance abusers. In another, 2.5 grams daily of omega-3 fats produced a 20 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms.

Flaxseed oil, a vegetarian source of omega-3 fats, has also been shown to help ease anxiety. In one study, three out of four patients with a history of agoraphobia improved within two to three months of taking flaxseed (2—6 Tbs. daily, in divided doses).

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)

GABA is a neurotransmitter found throughout the central nervous system. Low levels or decreased GABA function in the brain is associated with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and epilepsy. In fact, many popular anti-anxiety drugs interact primarily with GABA receptors.

Significant antistress effects have been shown in clinical studies with PharmaGABA, a proprietary form of GABA. Patients given PharmaGABA reported feeling relaxed and experienced changes in brain wave patterns consistent with a state of relaxation. The typical dosage used in studies is 100—200 mg up to three times daily.

Ashwagandha

In clinical trials, Sensoril, a proprietary extract of the herb ashwagandha, has been shown to produce considerable anti-stress effects. In one double-blind human study, chronically stressed subjects taking Sensoril had significant reductions in anxiety along with positive changes in blood chemistry, adrenal hormone levels, energy levels, and feelings of wellness. A typical dosage is 125—250 mg daily.

January 26th, 2015

Vision Quest

Five key nutrients for preventing and treating cataracts and macular degeneration
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Nutritional factors play a key role in the prevention and treatment of cataracts and macular degeneration. A diet high in richly colored fruits and vegetables—as well as targeted supplements—is associated with a lowered risk for both conditions.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Research shows that lutein and zeaxanthin supplements not only help protect against macular degeneration, but can also improve visual function in people with macular degeneration. Specifically, in patients with macular degeneration, 10–15 mg of lutein daily led to improvements, including glare recovery, contrast sensitivity, and visual acuity, as compared to a placebo group.

Lutein is also important in preventing cataracts and improving visual function in people with existing cataracts. Like the macula, the human lens concentrates lutein and zeaxanthin. In fact, these are the only carotenes found in the human lens. Three large studies have shown that the intake of lutein was inversely associated with cataract surgery.

Flavonoid-Rich Extracts

Flavonoid-rich extracts of blueberry, bilberry, pine bark, or grape seed also offer valuable eye-health benefits. In addition to possessing excellent antioxidant activity, these extracts have been shown to improve blood flow to the retina and enhance visual processes, especially poor night vision. Take 150–300 mg daily of one of these extracts to support eye health.

Nutritional Antioxidants

Nutritional antioxidants—such as beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, and selenium—are extremely important for eye health. Studies conducted by the Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group confirm that a combination of these nutrients produces better results than any single one alone. But even something as simple as taking vitamin C or zinc can produce dramatic effects. In one study, women who took vitamin C for more than 10 years had a 77 percent lower rate of cataract formation compared to women who did not take the vitamin.

Zinc plays an essential role in the metabolism of the retina and the visual process. A two-year trial involving 151 subjects showed that the group taking zinc had significantly less visual loss than the placebo group.

CoQ10 and Acetyl-L-Carnitine

In one double-blind study, 200 mg of acetyl-L-carnitine, omega-3 fatty acids (460 mg EPA and 320 mg DHA), and 20 mg of CoQ10 was shown to improve visual function and macular alterations in early-stage macular degeneration. This combination stopped the disease from progressing in 47 out of 48 cases.

Fish Oils

There is a strong relationship between atherosclerosis (known as hardening of the arteries) and eye health. Therefore, just as in atherosclerosis, omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils play an important role in preventing macular degeneration and other eye conditions. The recommended dosage is 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA.

Nutrition for Your Eyes

Foods rich in the carotenes lycopene, zeaxanthin, and lutein include bell peppers, carrots, collard greens, kale, papaya, spinach, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

 

January 25th, 2015

The Collagen Connection

This unheralded protein plays a key role in keeping us together—literally
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The most abundant protein in the human body, collagen is also the main component of connective tissue such as tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bone, and blood vessels.

As we age, the collagen-rich support structure of the skin (known as the dermis) changes. The activity of fibroblasts—cells responsible for making collagen—slows down, which leads to changes that make skin look old.

The collagen production in our joints also slows with age, which may lead to osteoarthritis. And decreased collagen in bone is a key factor in osteoporosis. The amount of collagen determines the number of “bone mineral binding sites.” If the collagen content is low, bone becomes more brittle and fracture risk increases dramatically.

Increasing Collagen

To fight the problem of declining collagen levels, we need to increase the activity of collagen-producing cells. One of the best ways to do this is the use of a special from of silica—choline stabilized orthosilicic acid (ChOSA). In one study, women with signs of aging skin who received 10 mg of ChOSA daily saw a 30 percent improvement in fine lines, 55 percent increased skin elasticity, and a reduction in brittle nails and hair.

ChOSA has also shown benefits in promoting bone health. In a detailed double-blind study of postmenopausal women with low bone density, ChOSA was able to increase the collagen content of the bone by 22 percent and increase bone density by 2 percent. The typical dosage is 6–10 mg per day.

Flavonoids are Critical

Flavonoids are plant pigments that support healthy collagen levels. Especially beneficial are the blue or purple pigments—anthocyanidins and PCOs (short for proanthocyanidin oligomers)—found in grapes, blueberries, and pine bark and grape seed extracts. Among their benefits:

  • They have the ability to crosslink collagen fibers, reinforcing the natural crosslinking that forms the collagen matrix of connective tissue.
  • They inhibit destruction of collagen structures by enzymes secreted by white blood cells during inflammation.

To take advantage of these flavonoids, increase your intake of richly colored berries and other fruits. And supplement with a PCO-rich extract such as grape seed or pine bark (50– 150 mg per day) for general support.