July 17th, 2015

Immunity All-Stars

These five antiviral herbs and nutrients are safe enough to take every day—and strong enough to prevent colds and flu

While there really isn’t any single magic bullet that can immediately restore immune function, there are certain nutrients that offer a powerful protective measure against colds and flu. The following are among my favorites for bolstering the body’s defenses against viral invaders.

Dried-Astragalus-root1. Chinese Astragalus Root

This traditional Chinese herb has been used for years to treat infections. Clinical studies have shown it to be effective in preventing colds. It has also been shown to reduce the duration and severity of symptoms of the common cold, as well as to raise white blood cell (WBC) counts in people with chronic low levels of WBCs.

Dosage: Astragalus is available as a dried root, tincture, liquid extract, and powdered extract. In general, you want 1–2 grams three times daily of the dried root, or 2–4 mL three times per day of a tincture. A typical capsule dosage is 100–150 mg three times daily.

2. Wellmune WGP

This proprietary extract from baker’s yeast is rich in immune-supportive beta-glucans. Wellmune WGP has been heavily researched and shown to reduce the signs, symptoms, frequency, and duration of upper respiratory infections. In a study of marathon runners (who experience increased infections after super-long runs), Wellmune WGP significantly reduced symptoms of upper respiratory tract
infection (sore throat, stuffy nose, etc.) in test subjects.

Dosage: Take 250–500 mg per day.

3. Selenium & Zinc

The mineral selenium affects all components of the immune system, including the development and expression of white blood cells. Selenium deficiency has been shown to inhibit resistance to infection as a result of impaired white blood cell and thymus function, while selenium supplementation (200 mcg daily) has been shown to stimulate white blood cell and thymus function.
Zinc is another mineral that plays a vital role in many immune system reactions. In particular, it inhibits the growth of several viruses, including common cold viruses and the herpes simplex virus. Throat lozenges containing zinc have become popular in the treatment of colds for good reason—they work. But regular zinc supplements are effective too.

Dosage: Take 200 mcg of selenium daily; use 20–30 mg of zinc at the onset of illness.

4. Vitamin D

This key vitamin has been shown to produce a wide range of immune-enhancing effects, including protecting against the development of autoimmune diseases (e.g., Crohn’s and multiple sclerosis) and reducing the frequency of viral upper respiratory infections. The sunshine vitamin appears to be especially important in protection against viral or bacterial upper respiratory infections.

Dosage: Take 2,000–4,000 IU per day (It’s ideal to measure your blood levels of vitamin D and then adjust your dosage accordingly.)

5. Vitamins A & C

Vitamin A plays an essential role in maintaining the integrity of the skin and linings of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts,. Vitamin A has been shown to stimulate and/or enhance numerous immune processes. Also, vitamin A deficiency may predispose an individual to an infection, and during the course of an infection, vitamin A stores typically plummet.

Vitamin C has demonstrated many immune-stimulating effects, and numerous studies support the use of vitamin C in treating infectious conditions and possibly even cancer at very high intravenous dosages. Vitamin C levels are quickly depleted during the stress of an infection, as well as in chronic disease. It is useful to take vitamin C with flavonoids, which raise the concentration of vitamin C in some tissues and potentiate its effects.

Dosage: Take either 2,500 IU of vitamin A or 25,000 IU of beta-carotene daily; for vitamin C, try 500 mg every two hours at the first sign of illness.

Is Your Immune System Tough Enough?

Recurrent or chronic infections, even very mild colds, happen only when the immune system is weakened. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you likely need to enhance your immune system with the help of diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes. In addition to the nutrients mentioned here, see “31 Day Immune Challenge.”

  • Do you catch colds and flu easily?
  • Do you get colds or flu more than three times a year?
  • Are you suffering from chronic infection?
  • Do you get frequent cold sores or fungal nail infections, or do you have genital herpes?
  • Are your lymph glands sore and swollen at times?
  • Do you have now or have you ever had cancer?
July 14th, 2015

Vitamin K2 Effective in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Vitamin K2 Benefits on Rheumatoid ArthritisIntroduction:

Just as there has been an explosion of positive science on the importance of vitamin D3, another nutrient, vitamin K2, is showing tremendous promise in the treatment and prevention of a wide range of health conditions. A new study, set to be published in the August issue of the European Journal of Pharmacology, indicates that this underutilized form of vitamin K might hold the key to one of the most debilitating inflammatory conditions known to humans – rheumatoid arthritis.

Background Data:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the entire body, but especially the joints. There is abundant evidence that RA is an autoimmune reaction, in which antibodies develop against components of joint tissues, but what exactly triggers this autoimmune reaction has centered on genetic factors, abnormal bowel permeability, lifestyle and nutritional factors, food allergies, and microorganisms. RA is a classic example of a multifactorial disease, wherein an assortment of genetic, dietary, and environmental factors contribute to this disease.

There are several forms of vitamin K. Phylloquinone is derived from plant sources and is referred to as K1, whereas menaquionines are derived primarily from bacteria and are referred to a K2. There are several different forms of menaquinones based upon the number of attached molecules known as isoprenoids. MK-7 is the most important commercial form of vitamin K2. It contains seven isoprenoid residues attached to menaquinone.

While the role that vitamin K plays in blood clotting is well known, it also functions in important roles for bone and joint health. Clinical studies have documented the long-term effect of 180 mcg of MK-7 in improving bone density and overall bone health.

Based upon pre-clinical studies showing another form of vitamin K2 (MK-4) blocked the development of arthritis in the experimental animal model of RA, it was suggested that MK-4 might offer benefit in human RA. Human studies following and it was shown MK-4 supplementation reduced RA disease activity associated with a marked decrease in clinical and biochemical markers. However, since MK-7 has greater bioavailability than MK-4 after oral administration, researchers were quite curious if even better results might be produced with this form.

New Data:

To clarify the therapeutic role of MK-7 added to normal therapeutic regimen of RA in patients with different stages of the disease, 84 RA patients (24 male, 60 female) (average age=47.2 years) were enrolled in a randomized clinical trial. The patients were divided into MK-7 treated group (n=42) and a control group (n=42). MK-7 capsules were administered in a dose of 100 mcg/day for three months in the first group without changing other medications.

To assess the benefits with MK-7, the clinical and biochemical markers on RA patients treated with MK-7 and the control group were assessed before and after three months. The results showed a statistically significant decrease in MK-7 treated group for the levels of the following markers of inflammation: erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), RA disease activity score assessing 28 joints, C-reactive protein (CRP) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-3). In addition, MK-7 also increased the level of the active form of osteocalcin, an important marker of bone health. The benefits noted with MK-7 were directly related to increased levels of MK-7 in the blood.

The authors’ conclusion was, “MK-7 represents a new promising agent for RA in combination therapy with other disease modifying antirheumatic drugs.”

In the treatment of RA, standard medical therapy is limited by its over-reliance on drugs designed to suppress the disease process and its symptoms, while failing to address the complex underlying causes of this disease. These drugs include powerful chemotherapy agents like methotrexate used in combination with newer biological agents like Enbrel. Unfortunately, while there have been some improvements in outcomes with these newer regimens, drug-free remission is still very rarely achieved and most patients experience higher disease activity upon discontinuation of therapy. They often have to quit treatment because of the serious side effects these drugs cause.

The natural treatment of RA can be quite successful. Diet alone can be used to produce a complete remission in some patients and there are many key supplements that can help. For a complete discussion on the natural approach to RA, please consult the 3rd Edition of the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.

Abdel-Rahman MS, Alkady EA, Ahmed S. Menaquinone-7 as a novel pharmacological therapy in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: A clinical study. Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Jun 11;761:273-278.

Dr. Michael Murray

July 10th, 2015

Three’s a Charm

Your body simply doesn’t function properly without omega-3 fatty acids—here’s why

Omega-3s May Help Treat Depression, Osteoarthritis and Prostate CancerOne of the major advances in nutritional medicine has been the ability to produce a fish oil supplement that is a highly concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids and also free from damaged fats (lipid peroxides), heavy metals, environmental contaminants, and other harmful compounds. These “pharmaceutical-grade” fish oil concentrates are so superior to earlier fish oil products that they have revolutionized nutritional medicine. Even vegetarian sources of omega-3 fats produced from algae are now available.

While most Americans eat way too much of the omega-6 fats found in meats and most vegetable oils, they suffer a relative deficiency of the omega-3 oils—a situation that is associated with an increased risk for heart disease and about 60 other conditions, including cancer, arthritis, stroke, high blood pressure, skin diseases, and diabetes. Particularly important to health are the longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are found in fish, especially coldwater fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and halibut.

Certain other foods, namely flaxseeds walnuts, and chia seeds, contain alpha-linolenic acid, which is a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid that the body converts to the longer-chain omega-3s. However, some research suggests that this conversion process (from short- to long-chain omega-3 fatty acid) is not efficient.

Did you know?

Eating a diet rich in omega-6 fats (e.g., processed foods, vegetable oils) and low in omega-3 fats strongly promotes inflammation, which underlies many diseases and is associated with a significantly increased risk for many cancers—most notably breast and prostate cancer.

Why Long-Chain?

Why are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids so important? The answer has to do with the function of these fatty substances in cellular membranes and inflammation. A diet that is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, results in altered cell membranes. Without a healthy membrane, cells lose their ability to hold water, vital nutrients, and electrolytes. They also lose their ability to communicate with other cells and be controlled by regulating hormones. They simply do not function properly. Cell membrane dysfunction is a critical factor in the development of virtually every chronic disease. Not surprisingly, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have shown tremendous protective effects against all forms of disease.

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are also transformed into prostaglandins. These compounds carry out many important tasks in the body. They regulate inflam-mation, pain, and swelling; they play a role in maintaining blood pressure; and they regulate heart, digestive, and kidney function. Prostaglandins also participate in the response to allergies, help control transmission of signals along the nerves, and help regulate the production of steroids and other hormones. Through their effects on prostaglandins and other compounds, omega-3 fats can mediate many physiological processes, so they are useful in virtually every disease state as well.

Buying & Using Fish Oil

For general health, the recommended dosage for fish oil is 1,000 mg EPA and DHA (total) per day. Read the label carefully—you are not looking for 1,000 mg of fish oil, but 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA. For therapeutic purposes, such as reducing inflammation or lowering triglyceride levels, the suggested dosage is usually 3,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day.

Feast on Flaxseed Oil

In addition to taking fish oil, it is also a good idea to take 1 Tbs. flaxseed oil per day The best way to consume flaxseed oil is by adding it to foods. Do not cook with it because it is easily damaged by heat and light—add it to foods after they have been cooked, or use it as a salad dressing. You can also try dipping bread into it, adding it to hot or cold cereal, or spraying it over popcorn.