Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #78. It's my mission to help you find optimal solutions to health problems. This newsletter is one way to do that. The more educated you are about your health options the better able you will be to take control of your health. If you would like to stop receiving my newsletter please send me an email and let me know. If you have a friend or family member who you think would appreciate the information provided, send me their email address.
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
Store : There are 247 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 78 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News".
Optimal Health Points : This is my blog that I update every week. Check out the entry for March 11 concerning the Overdiagnosis of Prostate Cancer.
GET YOUR HEALTH QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Are you confused by the health claims you read on the internet or hear in the store? Do you think that you're taking too many supplements but not the 'right' supplement for you? Do you never have the time to ask the important questions regarding yours or your family's health?
Then the 2009 OPTIMAL HEALTH LECTURE SERIES is for you!
I am presenting an ongoing series of free health lectures at my Williamsport office on 3rd St., as well as other locations. The topic of these lectures is determined by the interests of you, my community of patients, families, and interested individuals. Each lecture will focus on a health issue that is important to you.
Below is a list of topics that you can pick from. If there is another subject that you'd like to have me speak on, let me know. I'll announce the schedule each month in this newsletter and in the calendar on my website. (or you can email me after the 15th of the month). Just send me an email and let me know the health questions you want answered.
PROSPECTIVE LECTURE TOPICS
Do You Need The Flu Vaccine?
How Does Homeopathy Work?
How To Stay Healthy With The Season
Healing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Keep Your Heart Healthy
Preventing Breast Cancer
Coping with Multiple Sclerosis
If you'd like to organize a lecture for your work, your place of worship, or have an interested group of 5 or more, I'll come to you. All you have to do is choose a health topic that is most important to your group and we'll make it happen.
If you can't make it to a scheduled lecture each will be recorded and available for later purchase.
I'm looking forward to seeing you in 2009!
"Preventing Ear Infections Without Drugs" is the topic of this month's lecture on Tues., March 31, 2009 from 7:30-8:30 pm at my office on 3rd St.
HEALTH CARE REFORM
One area that I am involving myself in as we go into the new year, is health care reform.
You've probably heard a variety of ideas mentioned regarding the reform of the US Health Care system-universal coverage, single payer, etc. Most of you pay out of pocket to utilize health care you need and value. This is the time to make your voice heard. I highly encourage you to contact your congressional representative, make an appointment to speak to him or her, and express your concerns regarding health care and coverage of traditional medicine (what is euphemistically called alternative medicine). Here is one resource to find your representative's contact information: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
If you do not want to voice your opinion directly, let me know what you think. And I will tell my representative. If we all act together we can create a health care system that meets our needs and expands our vision of what's possible.
GET YOUR VITAMIN D TEST WITH ZRT LABORATORY
It just happened again the other day. A patient sent me a copy of the Vitamin D test she just had done. With frustrating results. The wrong test was done. After all these years, and all the information available, MDs and laboratories still order the wrong test. What a waste of money and time.
For the last 6 months I've been looking for a home Vitamin D test. One that would be simple, easy, and accurate to do on your own. I finally found one. ZRT Laboratory in Beaverton OR. ZRT emphasizes research and technological innovation.
Until now, venipuncture blood serum has been the standard medium for testing Vitamin D. ZRT has developed and refined Vitamin D testing in blood spots. A few drops of blood from a quick and nearly painless nick of the finger, placed on a filter paper to dry are all that is needed. The total 25 (OH) Vitamin D is then determined by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). This method has been shown to be as accurate as the assay standard.
Ordering A Vitamin D Test
ZRT allows anyone to order a Vitamin D test kit for $95 plus shipping and have it sent to their home. ZRT will let me prepay for kits and send them to my office for $55 each. I am charging $65 per kit for patients to cover my overhead and analysis of results.
If you are interested in getting a Vitamin D test done through my office please prepay so I can order you a kit. Then you can either pick it up at my office or have it shipped to your home. Once you've taken the sample and sent it back to ZRT it's only a matter of time before your results are sent back to me. I can even look at them online before the mail arrives.
If your doctor has refused to order a Vitamin D test or worse, ordered the wrong one, this is the fastest, least expensive, most accurate way to do it ourselves. Once we know what your Vitamin D levels are, the next step is making sure that you achieve optimum levels for prevention of disease and maintenance of health.
ORGANIC FARMING EQUALS BETTER SOIL, HEALTHIER FOOD
The impact of organic farming on soil quality and the nutritional content of food was addressed by a panel of scientists participating in a February 13, 2009, symposium at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The "Living Soil, Food Quality, and the Future of Food" symposium was organized and sponsored by Washington State University and The Organic Center, based in Boulder, CO.
For years we've seen an increasing amount of excellent research comparing the impacts of organic and conventional farming systems on soil and food quality. Based on this body of research, some of it from field experiments, some from laboratories, the panelists came to six conclusions.
1. Studies of apple production demonstrate that organically farmed soils display improved soil health as measured by increased biological diversity, greater soil organic matter, and improved chemical and physical properties. Enhancement of soil quality in organic apple production systems can lead to measurable improvements in fruit nutritional quality, taste, and storability.
2. Organically farmed tomatoes have significantly higher levels of soluble solids and natural plant molecules called secondary plant metabolites, including flavonoids, lycopene, and Vitamin C. Most secondary plant metabolites are antioxidants, a class of plant compounds that have been linked to improved human health in populations that consume relatively high levels of fruit and vegetables.
3. Organic farming can, under some circumstances, delay the onset of the "dilution effect." In hundreds of studies, scientists have shown that incrementally higher levels of fertilizer negatively impact the density of certain nutrients in harvested foodstuffs, hence the name, the "dilution [of nutrients] effect." Specifically, tomatoes grown with organic fertilizers maintain constant concentrations of beneficial phenolic secondary plant metabolites and antioxidants, even as fruit grow larger, whereas concentrations of these same beneficial compounds decline with increasing fruit size when the same tomato cultivar is grown using conventional methods and fertilizer.
4. Studies of 27 cultivars of organically grown spinach demonstrate significantly higher levels of flavonoids and vitamin C, and lower levels of nitrates. Nitrates in food are considered detrimental to human health as they can form carcinogenic compounds (nitrosamines) in the GI tract and can convert hemoglobin to a form that can no longer carry oxygen in the blood.
5. The levels of secondary plant metabolites in food appear to be driven by the forms of nitrogen added to a farming system, as well as the ways in which the biological communities of organisms in the soil process nitrogen. Compared to typical conventional farms, the nitrogen cycle on organic farms is rooted in substantially more complex biological processes and soil-plant interactions, and for this reason, organic farming offers great promise in consistently producing nutrient-enriched foods.
6. Organic soil fertility methods, which use less readily available forms of nutrients, especially nitrogen, improve plant gene expression patterns in ways that lead to more efficient assimilation of nitrogen and carbon in tomatoes. This improvement in the efficiency of nutrient uptake leaves plants with more energy to produce beneficial plant secondary metabolites, compounds that promote plant health as well as human health. DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: What this all boils down to is, if you want good quality soil and better food nutrition, organic farming is the answer. Add to this the fact that the fossil fuel input is minimized with organic farming, and this is the food production system that best serves our needs.
ALUMINUM INCREASES ALZHEIMER'S RISK
Higher levels of aluminum in drinking water increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, whereas higher levels of silica may decrease the risk, according to French investigators. The results of some studies indicates that silica either reduces the oral absorption of aluminum or increases the excretion of this metal.
Dr. Virginie Rondeau, at the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale in Bordeaux, and her colleagues examined associations between exposure to aluminum or silica from drinking water and the risk of cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease among elderly subjects followed for 15 years.
Daily aluminum intake of at least 0.1 milligram was associated with greater cognitive decline during the course of the study. Subjects with a high daily aluminum intake had a 2.26-fold increased risk of dementia, the researchers note. Interestingly, for every 10 milligram-per-day intake of silica, the odds of developing dementia dropped by 11%.
American Journal of Epidemiology, February 15, 2009. DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: This is a great piece of research for a couple reasons. One, it clearly states the direct correlation between aluminum consumption and the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Two, it raises the possibility that simply having more silica in the diet may reverse this effect.
There is no longer any excuse (there hasn't been for awhile) to ignore the danger of our exposure to aluminum. Some of the other common sources besides drinking water are aluminum cookware and utensils, and aluminum in deodorants.
B VITAMINS AND MACULAR DEGENERATION
There is a direct association between homocysteine concentration in the blood and the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness. It has been demonstrated that B vitamin combination therapy is very effective in lowering homocysteine. These researchers examined the incidence of AMD in a trial of combined folic acid (B3), pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6)), and cyanocobalamin (B12)) therapy.
This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial including 5442 female health care professionals 40 years or older with preexisting cardiovascular disease or 3 or more cardiovascular disease risk factors. A total of 5205 of these women did not have a diagnosis of AMD at baseline and were included in this analysis. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a combination of folic acid (2.5 mg/d), pyridoxine hydrochloride (50 mg/d), and cyanocobalamin (1 mg/d) or placebo.
After an average of 7.3 years of treatment and follow-up, there were 55 cases of AMD in the combination treatment group and 82 in the placebo. For visually significant AMD, there were 26 cases in the combination treatment group and 44 in the placebo group.
Arch Intern Med. 2009 Feb 23;169(4):335-41 DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: These are fairly small dosage amounts of these three B vitamins. And the cost to use this therapy is very low. If you've been told that you have ARM, or you have family or friends that have been diagnosed with this, make sure they know about this simple, inexpensive therapy. Their 'eyes' will thank you.
VITAMIN B12 AND NEURAL TUBE DEFECTS
Children born to women who have low blood levels of vitamin B12 shortly before and after conception may have an increased risk of a neural tube defect. This according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, Trinity College Dublin, and the Health Research Board of Ireland.
Women with the lowest B12 levels had 5x the risk of having a child with a neural tube defect compared to women with the highest B12 levels. Those women who have intestinal disorders that prevent them from absorbing sufficient amounts of B12, as well as those who consume little or no animal foods, would be likely to be low in vitamin B12.
Neural tube defects are a class of birth defects that affect the brain and spinal cord. A well known type, spina bifida, can cause partial paralysis. Another type, anencephaly, is a fatal defect in which the brain and skull are severely underdeveloped.
It's been known for decades that folic acid (B3), during the weeks before and after conception can greatly reduce a woman's chances of having a child with a neural tube defect. In the United States, cereal grains are fortified with folic acid to reduce the occurrence of neural tube defects in the U.S. population.
"Vitamin B12 is essential for the functioning of the nervous system and for the production of red blood cells," said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development NICHD. "The results of this study suggest that women with low levels of B12 not only may risk health problems of their own, but also may increase the chance that their children may be born with a serious birth defect."
Ireland has a high rate of neural tube defects, and NIH scientists have worked with Irish researchers to gain insight into the causes of this group of disorders. To conduct the study, the researchers analyzed stored blood samples originally collected during early pregnancy from three groups of Irish women between 1983 and 1990. During that time, pregnant women in Ireland rarely took vitamin supplements.
For their analysis, the researchers classified the women into three groups. The first group consisted of 95 women who were pregnant with a child having a neural tube defect at the time the blood was taken. The second group was composed of 107 women who had previously given birth to a child with a neural tube defect but whose current pregnancy was not affected. Like the first group, women in the third group (a total of 76) were pregnant with a child having a neural tube defect at the time the blood sample was obtained, but were enrolled in a different study than the women in group 1. The researchers measured the Vitamin B12 and folate levels of the women's blood samples, and compared them to those of control groups whose pregnancies were unaffected by a neural tube defect.
Because low folate levels are a known risk factor for neural tube defects, the researchers used statistical techniques to evaluate the role of Vitamin B12 independently of the role of folate. In all three groups, women with low B12 concentrations (estimated at less than 250 ng/L, before pregnancy) had 2.5-3x the risk of having a child with a neural tube defect compared to those with higher levels. Women with levels in the deficient range (0-149 ng/L ) were at the highest risk: 5x that of women with higher levels. The study authors suggested that women should have Vitamin B12 levels above 300 ng/L before becoming pregnant.
March 2009 Pediatrics DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: First I want to acknowledge the fact that this research is published in the journal Pediatrics. For years conventional medical practitioners ignored the research about folic acid preventing neural tube defects. Naturopathic and other nutritionally trained physicians were the lonely voices demanding prenatal folic acid supplementation.
Similar to the need for folic acid supplementation before pregnancy, vitamin B12 also needs to be addressed. If you're familiar with the interrelationship between folic acid and B12, it's no surprise that B12 also prevents neural tube defects. Hopefully it won't take years for conventional docs to recommend this for their patients.
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 35 years, and 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
580 E. 3rd. St.