|Issue #111 - Dec. 2011|
Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #111. 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.
B VITAMINS PROTECT BRAIN AGAINST ALZHEIMER'S
Researchers at Oxford University announced their findings on Dec. 18, 2011 that daily doses of a Vitamin B supplement can help prevent both memory loss and the development of Alzheimer's Disease.
VITACOG, a two-year randomized, placebo-controlled pilot trial, was developed to determine the effect of treatment with daily doses of Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid. The researchers studied the rate of shrinkage of the brain, and memory function, in people over 70 years with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
They found that study participants taking the vitamin complex had lower levels of a brain protein that's been found to lead to dementia. More than 250 people participated in the study.
The researchers focused on two markers that have been found to be connected to the development of Alzheimer's and memory loss. Elevated blood concentrations of total homocysteine and low-normal concentrations of B vitamins (folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6) are candidate risk factors for both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
The two-year randomized clinical trial is the largest to study the effect of B vitamins on mild cognitive impairment, and one of the first disease-modifying trials in the Alzheimer’s field to show positive results in people.
Around 1 in 6 elderly people over the age of 70 has mild cognitive impairment, experiencing problems with memory, language, or other mental functions, but not to a degree that interferes with daily life. Around half of people with mild cognitive impairment go on to develop dementia - mainly Alzheimer’s disease - within five years of diagnosis.
Three B vitamins - folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 - are known to control levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood, and high levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Oxford University, Dec. 18, 2011
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: A few years ago another study followed 168 volunteers aged 70 or over with mild memory problems, half of whom took high dose B vitamin tablets for two years and the other half a placebo tablet. The researchers assessed disease progression in this group by using MRI scans to measure the brain atrophy rate over a two-year period.
They found that on average the brains of those taking the folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 treatment shrank at a rate of 0.76% a year, while those in the placebo group had a mean brain shrinkage rate of 1.08%. People with the highest levels of homocysteine benefited most, showing atrophy rates on treatment that were half of those on placebo.
Along with rate of brain shrinkage researchers also monitored cognitive test scores, revealing that those with the slowest rate of shrinkage scored more strongly.
The team suggests that, since the rate of brain atrophy is known to be more rapid in those with mild cognitive impairment who go on to develop Alzheimer’s, it is possible that the vitamin treatment could slow down the development of the disease.
Besides having insufficient amounts of high B vitamin foods in the diet, homocysteine in the body is increased by caffeine consumption.
AUTISM HELPED BY VITAMIN MINERAL SUPPLEMENT
A clinical trial was just published that suggests that taking vitamins/mineral supplements may help children with autism.
The trial led by Elizabeth Geis of Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ and colleagues found that oral vitamin/mineral supplements improved the nutritional and metabolic status of children with autism.
This is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which 141 children and adults with autism were either given vitamin/mineral supplements or a placebo for three months. During the trial, symptoms of autism were assessed pre- and post-trial.
Participants did not take a vitamin/mineral supplement in the two months prior to the beginning of the trial. For 53 of the children age 5 to 16, nutritional and metabolic markers were measured pre- and post-trial. Many of these metabolic biomarkers were improved to normal or near-normal levels.
Dec. 12, 2001 issue of BMC Pediatrics
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: The multifactorial nature of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) necessitates an assessment of many different potential triggers. Anecdotally several families have discovered the huge benefit that Vitamin D has for a certain group of people diagnosed with ASD. Dr. John Cannell, one of the most knowledgeable Vit. D experts is currently recruiting patients for a study to look at the Treatment of ASD with Vitamin D.
When I first saw the headline for this study and read the details I was pleased to see another safe, effective therapeutic for autism. However, when I read the list of ingredients in the supplement that was used I had many health and safety concerns. First, a bit of a red flag goes up for me as the supplement used contains lithium. Lithium, in much higher doses than what's found in this supplement, is famous for treating bipolar disorder. It can produce side effects and toxicity should be looked for. So I wouldn't recommend a supplement with Lithium in it unless the patient was being monitored by a nutrition oriented practitioner. Several of the other nutrients are in forms that I do not use. For example, the B12 is in the form of cyanocobalamin. I would be concerned that these poorer nutrient forms might cause side effects when taken.
More importantly, artificial cherry flavor (listed as 'natural cherry flavor'), sucrose, sucralose, and the preservatives potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate are listed as ingredients. It is my experience that these ingredients cause harmful side effects for healthy individuals much less those diagnosed with autism.
The takeaway from this is that a multivitamin/mineral supplement can help those with ASD. Just please work with someone to help you pick a high quality supplement that won't cause more harm than it helps.
VITAMIN D HELPS PEDIATRIC BONE CANCER
A study by a group of Kansas University researchers found that vitamin D can cause cancerous bone cells to turn to normal bone cells. The findings could lead to a new treatment in fighting pediatric bone cancer, which has a survival rate of 60% to 70%.
Recent studies have shown vitamin D can inhibit the growth of malignant cells in breast, prostate and colon cancer. Kim Templeton, an orthopedic surgeon at Kansas University Hospital, was among the experts on a panel that discussed vitamin D research and cancer. She was surprised that none of the studies or trials included the effect of vitamin D on osteosarcoma, a malignant bone tumor that mainly affects children and adolescents.
“It’s the most common type of bone cancer in kids and teenagers and vitamin D is critical to bone health,” she said. So an interdisciplinary team at the Kansas University Medical Center came together to study how vitamin D affects bone cancer. The team used cancerous tumor cells to do the research.
“My question was if the tumor recognizes Vitamin D and if it would help control the cells,” Templeton said. In the laboratory tests, not only did the cancerous cells recognize the vitamin D, but it prevented the osteosarcoma cells from replicating as quickly and promoted the growth of normal bone cells.
“What should happen and what does happen (in the lab) is always two different things,” Templeton said. “So, I was happy it turned out the way we thought it would.”
The findings are important for a cancer that hasn’t seen the treatment methods or rate of survival change in the past 20 to 25 years. Most osteosarcoma patients undergo 10 weeks of chemotherapy before the tumor is removed.
The findings suggest that a dose of vitamin D could become another tool in the treatment of osteosarcoma. Unlike chemotherapy, normal doses of vitamin D don’t have any negative side effects and it is inexpensive.
Dec. 16, 2011 Journal of Orthopedic Research
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: The study says that before clinical trials on humans can began, researchers would have to test the effects of vitamin D on animals, which might include large dogs since they have a high rate of osteosarcoma. WRONG. Start the clinical trials with people now. The rate of survival of this cancer, affecting especially the young, suggests a more direct approach. Vitamin D is safe at therapeutic levels for long periods of time. Why not monitor these patients through accurate Vitamin D testing and supplement them to maintain D3 levels up to 80 ng/dl. There is almost no harm that could come from such an approach and there could be much benefit.
FLAME RETARDANT SODA
Patented as a flame retardant for plastics, and banned in food throughout Europe and Japan, a brominated chemical called brominated vegetable oil (BVO) has been added to sodas for decades in North America. Now some scientists have a renewed interest in this little-known ingredient, found in 10% of sodas in the United States. Research on its toxicity dates back to the 1970s, and some experts now urge a reassessment.
The next time you grab a Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fanta Orange, Sunkist Pineapple, Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange, Powerade Strawberry Lemonade or Fresca Original Citrus, take a look at the drink's ingredients. In Mountain Dew, brominated vegetable oil is listed next-to-last, between disodium EDTA and Yellow 5. These are just a sampling of drinks with BVO listed in their ingredients, which is required by the FDA. The most popular sodas - Coca-Cola and Pepsi - do not contain BVO.
The FDA limit for brominated oil in sodas is based on outdated data from the 1970s (for which industry groups had too much influence), so scientists say the chemical deserves a fresh look. Their concern is that it builds up in human tissues, just like other brominated compounds such as flame retardants. They think it may have the same effect as brominated flame retardants. After a few extreme soda binges - not too far from what many gamers regularly consume - a few patients have needed medical attention for skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders, all symptoms of overexposure to bromine.
At gamer hangouts, to help stay alert all night, each person has an open can of "gamer fuel" inches from their keyboard. Gamers may be aware of the sugar and caffeine they're mainlining, but drinkers of Mountain Dew and some other citrus-flavored drinks are also getting a dose of a synthetic chemical called brominated vegetable oil, or BVO.
On MMO nights, some gamers play 12 straight hours. In these Massively Multiplayer Online games, thousands of players from around the world compete. During these epic battles, a soda every hour is not uncommon. A gamer chugging a 20-ounce bottle of soda every hour will finish 3.5 liters in six hours.
Virtually every teen in America plays video games, according to the Pew Research Center. The $110-billion-a-year soft drink industry and the $74-billion-a-year video game industry have noticed. Activision, the makers of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3," the latest edition in this popular video game series, paired with Mountain Dew in a promotion that rewards gamers with bonus points for drinking more Mountain Dew.
Gamers aren't the only ones drinking these fruit-flavored sodas. In the United States, 85% of kids drink a beverage containing sugar or artificial sweetener at least once per week, according to a study published In November. Sodas are the largest source of calories for teenagers between the ages of 14 to 18, according to a National Cancer Institute study. For adults, soda, energy and sports drinks are the fourth largest source of calories, a federal study found.
Hold a bottle of Mountain Dew to a light. It's cloudy. Brominated vegetable oil creates the cloudy look by keeping the fruity flavor mixed into the drink. Without an emulsifier such as BVO, the flavoring would float to the surface. The FDA limits the use of BVO to 15 parts per million in fruit-flavored beverages. Brominated vegetable oil, which is derived from soybean or corn, contains bromine atoms, which weigh down the citrus flavoring so it mixes with sugar water, or in the case of flame retardants, slows down chemical reactions that cause a fire.
Brominated flame retardants lately are under intense scrutiny because research has shown that they are building up in people’s bodies, including breast milk, around the world. Designed to slow the spread of flames, they are added to polystyrene foam cushions used in upholstered furniture and children's products, as well as plastics used in electronics. Research in animals as well as some human studies have found links to impaired neurological development, reduced fertility, early onset of puberty and altered thyroid hormones.
"There are some concerns [about BVO] because people are worried that maybe it has the behavior, [and] potential health effects similar to brominated flame retardants," said Heather Stapleton, an environmental chemist at Duke University who specializes in studying brominated compounds.
"Compounds like these that are in widespread use probably should be reexamined periodically with newer technologies to ensure that there aren't effects that would have been missed by prior methods," said Charles Vorhees, a toxicologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who studied BVO's neurological effects in the early 1980s. "I think BVO is the kind of compound that probably warrants some reexamination."
In 1997, emergency room doctors at University of California, Davis reported a patient with severe bromine intoxication from drinking two to four liters of orange soda every day. He developed headaches, fatigue, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination) and memory loss.
"Any normal level of consumption of BVO would not cause any health problems - except the risk of diabetes and obesity from drinking that much sugar water," said Zane Horowitz, medical director of the Oregon Poison Center and author of the 1997 case study.
When a person doesn't eat during one of these binges, his or her body is absorbing the entire beverage. It's even worse in kids, Vorhees said, because they have less body mass.
"In kids, the total dosage effect tends to be greater," Vorhees said. "I actually think there are people that get these high exposures."
Based on data from the early studies, the FDA yanked brominated vegetable oil from its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list for flavor additives in 1970, said Douglas Karas, a spokesman for the FDA. BVO bounced back after studies from an industry group from 1971 to 1974 demonstrated a level of safety.
The Flavor Extract Manufacturers’ Association petitioned the FDA to get BVO back in fruit-flavored beverages, this time as a stabilizer, which is its role today. They felt that, "Its use as a flame retardant does not preclude its use as a food ingredient so long as the food use is safe." After evaluating the petition and other data, the FDA in 1977 approved the interim use of BVO at 15 ppm in fruit-flavored beverages, pending the outcome of additional studies.
More than 30 years later, brominated vegetable oil's approval status is still listed as interim. Changing the status would be costly and "is not a public health priority for the agency at this time," Karas said.
BVO has seeped into Europe, mostly illegal territory for this additive, according to an analysis of imported sodas presented at an international symposium on halogenated persistent organic pollutants in 2010. "We found products with no label although BVO was present in the soda," said Vetter, lead author of the study. He said soda makers in North America could easily replace BVO with alternatives such as hydrocolloids – chemicals that are used in many sodas in Europe. Natural hydrocolloids form small droplets on water into which non-water soluble compounds can be stored and stabilized for as long as necessary. They are almost exclusively natural products, Vetter said.
Countries in Europe and elsewhere have used natural hydrocolloids for decades in the soda brands that rely on BVO in North America. "There are many options to substitute BVO with safe chemicals," Vetter said. "I am not aware of significant disadvantages of BVO over hydrocolloids or vice versa." "It is a North American problem," Vetter added. "In the E.U., BVO will never be permitted."
Dec. 12, 2011 Environmental Health News
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: What a telling statement--"Any normal level of consumption of BVO would not cause any health problems - except the risk of diabetes and obesity from drinking that much sugar water." It's just increasing diabetes and obesity, two of the biggest health problems facing our population. So maybe some action will get stimulated when enough people decide they don't want flame retardant chemicals along with their genetically modified high fructose corn syrup.
HERE COMES THE SUN
My eBook, "Here Comes The Sun: Preventing Chronic Disease With Vitamin D", is now available for purchase. The best way to order my book is to mail a check (made out to Dr. Pais) for $9.95 to my office address below. Drop me an email saying your "check is in the mail" and I will immediately email you my book.
I would appreciate any comments or feedback once you've finished reading it. Enjoy!
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
Store: There are 338 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 100 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News”.
Optimal Health Points: This is my blog that I update periodically. Check out my latest post, “No Deaths From Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids Or Herbs”.
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LET ME HELP YOU MAKE WISE SUPPLEMENT CHOICES
As is often the case, a recent new patient asked if I would review their choice and use of supplements and herbs. Why does this happen so often? For many, taking a vitamin or herb is their introduction to natural medicine. Their desire to be healthier drives them to take supplements and herbs. The death, pain, discomfort, and side effects experienced with over the counter and prescription drugs compel people to look elsewhere. It’s very different with supplements and herbs which, when used correctly, have an incredibly low risk of harm.
Some people take this to an extreme and take every supplement or herb that someone tells them is ‘good for them’. It might be a clerk, an internet ‘expert’ source, or a friend who is marketing the latest or greatest fad. Most of these individuals or companies have no professional training or experience in the medical use of the supplements or herbs that they’re selling. The people they’re selling to come into my office with 5, 10, 15, or more supplements that they’re taking. Sometimes it’s been so long since they started taking them that they don’t remember why they’re doing it. When I ask, they can’t tell me what, if anything, a particular product is doing for them. Yet, they can be quite fearful of stopping any of these items, as if their health would careen off a precipice without them.
Why do I think my approach is any different? Partly, it’s because of my background. I’ve literally been working with nutritional supplements since 1974. That’s 36 years assessing the quality and effectiveness of supplements. Beginning in 1980 I started working with Western and Chinese herbs. The quality of herbs used and how they’re combined together has the greatest effect on the efficacy of the final product. Because I’ve grown, identified, harvested, and produced medicinal herbal products I recognize a good formula when I see one.
Licensed naturopaths like me receive the most extensive academic and clinical training in the use of nutritional supplements and herbal medicines of any professional in the United States. Nothing can substitute for such hands on experience, especially when you see, and are responsible for, the results of your treatments. Very different from the clerk in the store, or coworker who’s part of a MLM scheme.
What I’m offering to is easy access to this experience and training. Both for you and your family. If you have questions about the supplements or herbs you are taking, or are thinking about taking, now is the time to ask. Send me an email with the brand and name of the product you’re taking. Let me know that you want to bring the bottles in at your next visit, so I can see what you’re taking. Start a discussion on my Facebook fan page. Either way I’ll give you honest feedback about what I think is good, or what isn’t. We’ll fine tune what you’re taking to maximize effect and eliminate waste.
Let me hear from you and we’ll get started.
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 a long time I looked 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, plus $8 shipping. I am charging $65 per kit for patients to cover the total.
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.
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
580 E. 3rd. St.
Williamsport PA 17701