|Issue #64 - January 2008|
My website is over 1 year old.
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
Store: There are 195 products from Emerson listed on this page. If yours isn't one of them please let me know and I will add it so you can order online. This is particularly convenient after hours or on the weekend. Of course, you can always order by phone from Emerson at 800-654-4432.
Newsletter: Here you will find all 64 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News".
Optimal Health Points: This is my blog that I update every week. Check out the entry for Jan. 8 2008 to learn about chemotherapy lack of efficacy in breast cancer.
HOMEOPATHIC STORY TELLING
In my homeopathic practice there are periodic ebbs and flows related to certain issues that come up with patients. Once again it seems that it is difficult for my patients to know what exactly I need to hear from them and when I need to hear it.
A little background first. Most homeopaths of my generation were trained in the 'Wait and Watch" method of prescribing. One dose of a homeopathic remedy is given and there is no follow up or contact scheduled for 4-6 weeks. Anything that happens during that time-the good and the not so good-isn't dealt with until the next visit. I initially practiced in this manner and my patients seemed to do fairly well over time.
However, it's been more and more apparent over the last several years that this method no longer worked very well for my patients or me. Too much valuable information about their response-sensation, duration, timing, and modalities-was being lost or not accessible. Part of the process of healing is attending to what is changing and keeping track of the changes. As so many of my patients say, "it's hard to remember what happens with symptoms when they're gone". Time after time patients will say 'nothing has changed', when in reality much has changed. Sleep is deeper and less disrupted, headaches are gone, energy is better, the cough is nonexistent, there's much less anxiety overall, etc. Just at the level of tracking improvement it's very important to understand the timeline that's underlying a patient's healing response.
To address the needs of my patients over the last few years I've shifted to a different method of dosing and follow up. Assuming that the prescribed homeopathic remedy is the correct one (a very important assumption) I usually request more frequent dosing and have much greater contact with patients in between visits. I find this contact to be of the utmost importance as the healing process is initiated. For the patient there is the knowledge that what happens is important to their homeopath and they begin paying attention to their health, often to a greater degree than ever before. For my work as a homeopath it's critical to understand the expression of the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of health after a remedy is given. For me this information is priceless, nothing can replace it. What happens to you at work may seem unrelated (to you) to your stomach pains. How you sleep may not seem important in relation to your migraines. Why am I asking about your mood when you want to lower your cholesterol? All these pieces fit together in a unique way to make up You. Your health on a small level-individual symptoms-your health on a larger level-prognosis, healing reaction, and becoming well. If I am missing any one piece, no matter how unrelated you may feel it is, it can make the difference between what I see and what I miss. If all I feel is the trunk I might think it's a tree. If I feel the skin I might think it's rough ground. Put those two together along with a sound or an image and I know it's an elephant. Similarly, the time of day you have your back pain, or the side you sleep on, might be just enough information to help me shift my perspective and 'see' a different, more curative remedy.
What about an aspect of health that isn't the reason why you've come into see me? Let's say you develop a cold or a cough in between visits. Maybe you reach for something for fever or some cough suppressant thinking nothing about doing so. We then have missed an opportunity to understand and hopefully support a very important aspect of your health. It can be quite unhealthy to suppress a fever, and, as the article below states, those cough meds don't work any way. It's my expectation that, as I work with someone with the correct homeopathic remedy, that their overall state of health will improve. Not that they won't ever get sick but that their illnesses are less frequent, less intense, and shorter in duration. I will offer supportive alternatives-hydrotherapy, Vit. C, etc.-as necessary to encourage the healing process. Why do things this way? First and foremost, Do No Harm. When utilized properly by someone appropriately trained with sufficient experience such therapeutics are very safe and effective. Not only do you get well, you do not harm yourself in the process. We've had the chance to interact and enhance your healing response-if you've told me what's going on.
So the next time someone lays a guilt trip on you, you catch a really nasty flu bug, or you are in a lot of pain before your menses, I probably want to know about it. Even if our next visit is only a week away. Or it seems that you 'always' react this way. Better to fill me in and tell me your homeopathic story. It might be just what I need to help you get well.
VITAMIN D PREVENTS BREAST CANCER
In the largest study of its kind ever carried out, German researchers reported in the journal Carcinogenesis that vitamin D protects against postmenopausal breast cancer.
Besides its role as an essential nutrient for bone health, vitamin D is also important in immune function related to cancer. Several studies have suggested that vitamin D might help protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers, possibly by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and stopping cancer from spreading.
Most of these previous studies have looked at the effect of vitamin D obtained from foods-such as fish, egg yolks, and butter-on breast cancer risk. Foods aren't able to satisfy the body's requirement for the vitamin by themselves. Of course, the most abundant source of vitamin D is from the body itself upon exposure of the skin to sunlight. However, due to the widespread use of sunscreens and the strong warning about time spent outdoors, vitamin D deficiency is increasingly common. This is true especially for people living at higher latitudes that are at particularly high risk for vitamin D deficiency during the winter and spring months.
This new study compared the blood levels of vitamin D in 1,394 postmenopausal breast cancer patients with those of 1,365 healthy postmenopausal women. Having a higher vitamin D level was associated with a lower risk of having breast cancer. The relationship was stronger in women who had never used hormone therapy and in women who had been pregnant two or more times.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: It would have been great if this study had looked at specific amounts of Vitamin D necessary for this protective effect. My preference is to have a serum hydroxy Vit. D test done to know what levels are both before and then after a supplement regime has been in place. If your MD refuses to run this test for you then 1,000IU/day is a reasonable amount. However, without the lab test there's no way of knowing whether that level of supplementation will take you to optimum levels which many think are 50-60 ng/mL.
BRAIN AGING AND BETA-CAROTENE
Chemical Oxidation is the main cause of damage to cells, organs, and tissues throughout the body. With age, the body's ability to repair oxidative damage slows down. This is why we see changes that we associate with aging: gray hair, wrinkles, the need for reading glasses, etc. This process also affects the brain. Lessening of cognitive brain function, which is also caused by oxidative damage, can eventually lead to dementia.
Antioxidants are a category of nutrients that prevent and repair oxidation's damaging effects. Vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene as well as the minerals zinc and selenium are the most well known of the antioxidant nutrients. And then there is the huge group of plant chemicals called bioflavonoids that are even stronger antioxidants.
This new study included 5,956 men over 65 who had been using 50 mg (about 83,000 IU) of beta-carotene every other day or a non-nutritive substance (placebo) as part of the Physician's Health Study or the follow-up Physician's Health Study II. The men from the original study had been taking either beta-carotene or placebo for an average of 18 years at the time they underwent cognitive testing for the current study; for men who enrolled only in the follow-up study, the average treatment time was one year.
Supplementing with beta-carotene was associated with better scores on cognitive tests in the men from the original study, but not in the new recruits for the follow-up study. The researchers found that using beta-carotene for three years or less had no impact on cognitive performance, but using beta-carotene for 15 years or more seemed to prevent age-related cognitive decline. They estimated that the difference in brain function between the men who used long-term beta-carotene and those who did not was similar to the cognitive decline that elderly men can expect over 1 to 1.5 years.
Arch Intern Med 2007;167:2184-90
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: This information may be part of the reason why eating a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables protects the brain. Though beta-carotene was singled out in this study, the synergistic effect of naturally occurring antioxidants in plant foods is probably best.
Foods rich in beta-carotene include orange, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits such as carrots, tomatoes, sweet potato, squash, and apricots. Greens, such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, also have high amounts of beta-carotene and other related carotenes.
FOODS REDUCE BREAST CANCER RISK
One often hears that there's nothing you can do to change the risk of getting breast cancer. And it is true that there is not much you can do about your family history. However, by controlling exposure/consumption of substances that mimic hormones you can affect the age at which you get your first menses, and possibly the age at which you go through menopause. Other studies have shown that women who are in better physical condition and who maintain a healthy weight have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
This new study, published in Cancer Causes and Control, found that overweight women might lower their breast cancer risk by eating foods rich in lignans-a type of plant chemical known as phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens can be broken down into two important groups: isoflavones, which are found primarily in soy foods, and lignans, which are abundant in flaxseeds, with lesser amounts in olive oil, seeds, and nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits.
By occupying estrogen receptors on cell surfaces, phytoestrogens can have anti-estrogen activity in the body, which possibly gives them anticancer effects. In Asia, where breast cancer incidence is relatively low, people eat high amounts of isoflavones. In North America, however, lignans make up a much larger percentage of the total phytoestrogen intake.
The study compared 3,063 women with breast cancer (aged 25 to 74 years) with 3,430 healthy women to see what effect phytoestrogen intake had on breast cancer risk. The women answered questions about their diet as adolescents and what they ate two years ago. Women who ate more total phytoestrogens and lignans had a significantly lower breast cancer risk-but only if they were overweight. Women with the highest lignan intake had a 30% reduction in breast cancer risk compared with those who ate the least.
Cancer Causes Control 2007;doi 10.1007/s10552-007-9089-2
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Here are some other breast cancer prevention strategies:
* Eating lots of vegetables and fruits (preferably organic) is associated with decreased breast cancer risk.
* Increase the amount of lignans in your diet, even if you aren't overweight. You can add some fresh ground flaxseed to your breakfast cereal, use sesame seed butter or tahini, and cook with extra virgin olive oil.
* Exercise helps manage weight and decreases the risk of several cancers, including breast cancer.
* Limit alcohol consumption to have a much lower risk of breast cancer.
STEAM YOUR VEGGIES
Depending on how you cook your vegetables you can maintain, and in some cases even increase their nutritional value.
Researchers in Italy evaluated the effects of three commonly used Italian cooking practices-boiling, steaming, and frying on the nutritional content of carrots, zucchini and broccoli. Boiling and steaming maintained the antioxidant compounds of the vegetables, whereas frying caused a significantly higher loss of antioxidants in comparison to the water-based cooking methods. For broccoli, steaming actually increased its content of glucosinolates, a group of plant compounds known for their cancer-fighting abilities.
Dec. 26 2007 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Though many maintain that eating raw vegetables is more nutritious than eating cooked ones, it really does depend on which vegetable you are talking about. What works for broccoli won't work for cabbage. Time of year also comes into play regarding the nutritional content that the veggies has before you prepare it.
DIETARY PREVENTION OF PARKINSON'S DISEASE
A healthy diet that includes an abundance of fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, whole grains, and poultry and is low in saturated fat and alcohol may help protect against Parkinson's disease. This according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Parkinson's is a neurological disease that affects more than 1 million people in the United States. It is characterized by a degeneration of the nervous system that leads to tremors, rigidity, and movement disorders. Inflammation and oxidative stress may contribute to its development. Because certain nutrients may counter these harmful effects due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, researchers are interested in the role that nutrition and diet play in the disease.
Researchers evaluated data from two long-term studies examining the role of diet and lifestyle behaviors on health. They reviewed the dietary patterns of 49,692 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and 81,676 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study. After 16 years, 508 cases of Parkinson's disease had been reported between the two groups.
The results of the analysis showed that people who ate lots of fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grains and who ate little meat were less likely to develop Parkinson's disease compared with those individuals who ate a traditional Western diet characterized by high amounts of red and processed meat, refined grains, saturated fats, and high-fat dairy products.
The people who followed the healthy dietary pattern also exercised more, smoked less, consumed less caffeine, and ate a diet higher in vitamin E and vitamin C, compared with the people who followed the Western diet. However, even taking these factors into account, the healthy dietary pattern group was still at less risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:1486-94
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Though not new information, it's always good to see dietary effects at work in large groups. If you needed another reason to maintain a healthy diet this is a good one.
VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY CAUSES PREECLAMPSIA
Pregnant women who are vitamin D deficient have 5x the risk of suffering a potentially fatal condition known as preeclampsia, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health Sciences and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure combined with elevated protein levels in the urine, and may also cause swelling of the hands and feet. It occurs in approximately 7% of all first pregnancies. Preeclampsia can cause damage to the kidneys, blood vessels, or liver. More seriously, it can progress into eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition that can cause seizures or severe damage to the kidneys, liver, blood, lungs and nervous system. Eclampsia may be the cause of 70% of deaths during pregnancy in Third World countries.
For this study researchers compared 15 women with preeclampsia with 220 women who had not developed the condition. The majority of the women in both groups were vitamin D deficient, with blood levels lower than 80 nanomoles per liter, but the women with preeclampsia had significantly lower vitamin D levels than the healthy women. When the researchers correlated vitamin D levels with preeclampsia risk, they found that women with blood levels below 37.5 nanomoles per liter had 5x the risk of preeclampsia as women who had higher blood levels.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 92, No. 9 3517-3522
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: The sad thing about most of the study participants is that they were taking vitamin D-containing prenatal dietary supplements, and yet most of them were still deficient in the vitamin. These prenatal supplements contained only 200 to 400 IU of vitamin D and "experts believe you need to take 1,000 IUs per day to make a dent in increasing your levels," researcher Lisa Bodnar said.
I am often asked what supplements I recommend. Many of you have been surprised to discover that I favor food over pills; lifestyle changes over fads. I have been working with nutrition for over 30 years, herbs for over 20 years. Where and when appropriate I recommend them to my patients. I strive to act from knowledge, experience, and research.
Emerson Ecologics (800-654-4432) carries almost all of the nutritional supplements and botanical extracts that I think are useful. Their customer service is excellent and their delivery is reliable (often only 2-3 days to this region). It's a great way to get physician quality products at reasonable prices.
To offset the cost of shipping, reference my name when you establish your account and receive a 10% discount on every order. If you have any questions about these items feel free to email me.
That's it for this issue of Naturopathic News. If you've thought a bit extra or learned something new, then I achieved my goal. As usual, if you have questions or concerns brought up by these subjects, let me know.
Gregory Pais, ND, DHANP