• Close Diabetes Control Prolongs Life

    Close Diabetes Control Prolongs Life

      A 20-year study showed that close diabetes control prolongs life. A study divided 160 people with diabetes into two groups. The one group continued to get standard care. Yet the other group received a multi targeted, aggressive treatment protocol. As a result after 20 years the group with … [Read More...]

  • Healthy Oils For A Healthy Body

    Healthy Oils For A Healthy Body

    Healthy oils for a healthy body? Quite frequently the news are full of articles that want to inform you what fat or oil to eat. At the end the consumer often faces information overload and confusion. Here I am reviewing what we know about the various oils. 1. Coconut oil not as good as it was … [Read More...]

  • Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

    Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

    Young heart stem cells can cure old hearts in rats. This is what research at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles found. You may not be that impressed, because this talks about rats and not humans. But this is a brand-new concept, so of course research of animal experiments is first. The … [Read More...]

  • Resveratrol Effective In Humans

    Resveratrol Effective In Humans

    Resveratrol has been labeled a powerful antioxidant; but is resveratrol effective in humans? Quack watch says: don’t buy into the hype that resveratrol is effective in humans. WebMD claims that there would not be enough medical evidence to say that the average person should supplement with … [Read More...]

  • Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

    Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

    What do decreased sperm counts in men tell us about our world? A recent study has shown that over the past 40 years males in many centers that tested for sperm counts have lost 50% of the sperm count that was normal in the 1970’s. The question is, what could have caused this? Nobody has definite … [Read More...]

Sep
23
2017

Close Diabetes Control Prolongs Life

 

A 20-year study showed that close diabetes control prolongs life. A study divided 160 people with diabetes into two groups. The one group continued to get standard care. Yet the other group received a multi targeted, aggressive treatment protocol. As a result after 20 years the group with the intensive treatment protocol lived 7.9 years longer than the group with the standard treatment.

Dr. Oluf Pederson was the senior investigator of the physician team that followed the diabetes group. He said that they concentrated on a number of known adverse factors and treated them aggressively. These factors were first of all high blood glucose values and clotting risks, also high blood pressure and high triglycerides and in addition cholesterol values. Behavior modification was the therapeutic method to get people with risk factors to exercise more, adopt a healthy diet and stop smoking. Medication in select cases also played a role.

More details about the study

The intervention of intensive treatment lasted 8 years. After that the patients were still in a follow-up study for 13 years. At the beginning of the study patients were on average 55 years old and were borderline obese.

The investigation team screened for complications of diabetes. This included screening for kidney disease, heart disease and blindness. Dr. Joel Zonszein, the director of the New York Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center said: ”These results are impressive and most patients do not receive the correct treatment, according to national surveys.”

Other studies about diabetes  

Foreign studies

Study from Croatia
  • Another study from Croatia involved 200 patients. It concentrated on patients who did not respond to metformin. Physicians used alternative treatment modalities, and they observed and measured blood sugars and hemoglobin A1C in the following 6 months. The study concluded that those patients who received aggressive treatment of their condition did better than those who did not receive the same vigorous approach.
Study from Japan
  • This Japanese study documented that female patients with type-2 diabetes developed kidney damage earlier than their male counterparts.  Consequently, the investigators pointed out how important it is to treat diabetes aggressively to avoid kidney damage.
Study from Singapore
  • This 2016 study from Singapore analyzed retroactively the impact of diabetes on the long-term survival after coronary bypass grafting (CABG).  5720 consecutive patients had their isolated first CABG surgery between 1982 and 1999. The mean follow-up was 13 years. 34.6% of the patients had diabetes, 51% had high blood pressure and 46.6% had elevated blood lipids. The initial mortality after the CABG surgery was 2.4% in the diabetic group and 1.8% in the non-diabetic group. 20-year survival rates following CABG surgery were 30.9% in diabetics and 49.2% in the non-diabetics, an 18.3% difference. The 20-year freedom from cardiac mortality rates was 56% in diabetics and 68.4% in non-diabetics. Other risk factors that led to cardiac mortality were the following: female gender (1.43-fold risk), diabetes (1.51-fold risk), previous heart attack (1.54-fold risk) and a low left ventricular ejection fraction of less than 35% (2.6-fold risk). The conclusion from this study was that long-term survival in diabetics following CABG surgery was much lower than that of non-diabetic controls. Hence the key to improving long-term survival for diabetics is to treat comorbidities like high blood pressure and elevated lipids aggressively as well as getting blood sugars and hemoglobin A1C values under control.

US studies

  • In this US study 558 youth (age less than 21) between February 2012 to July 2015 received follow-up. Between 40% and 50% of these diabetics needed insulin to improve their diabetes. Unfortunately their diabetes showed poor control, as their high hemoglobin A1C values indicated. Median HbA1C was 6.7%, 8.5%, 9.6%, and 9.7% in those with disease duration less than 1 year, 1-2 years, 2-3 years and less than 4  In other words, the longer the young patients had diabetes, the less seriously they took their treatment. Only 33% treated their high blood pressure and only 11% their elevated blood lipids. Microalbuminuria, an indicator of diabetic kidney disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease were present in 5% to 6% of these young diabetic patients. The authors came to the conclusion that there were serious gaps in treating these young diabetics. Further follow-up data of the same group of patients in the coming years will provide further data. In conclusion, the new hemoglobin A1C ranges of 3.8% to 4.9% as the new normal range explains why these youths who do not treat their diabetes properly are at high risk to develop complications from their poorly controlled diabetes.
Heart attacks and erectile dysfunction
  • Heart attacks are more common among patients with uncontrolled diabetes. This US study classified diabetics according to the tightness of their diabetes control. Researchers found examining 606 men and 606 women with diabetes that they could reduce their risk of a heart attack, if they controlled smoking, glycated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1C), systolic blood pressure, and total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The control of all these risk factors could contribute to the prevention of heart attacks. 35% of men and 45% of women could prevent having a heart attack. A laxer control still would prevent 36% of heart attacks in men and 38% in women. A very aggressive diabetes control could prevent 51% of heart attacks in men and 61% in women. Most noteworthy: close diabetes control prolongs life.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a big problem among diabetic men. This study from Seattle shows the investigation of 136, 306 men with erectile dysfunction. 19, 236 of these men had diabetes prior to their ED problem. Over a two-year observation period diabetic men had much worse ED problems. As a result they needed to receive secondary line treatments  like penile suppositories or injectables. Others needed tertiary treatments like penile prostheses. In those whose diabetes control was good, oral agents as first-line therapies were usually sufficient.
More studies about risks and benefits of lifestyle
  • Middle-aged women with diabetes have a 4- to 5-fold higher risk for developing heart attacks while men do not show such a higher risk. It is probably particularly important for women to control diabetes when they are diagnosed with it to reduce the risk of coming down with a heart attack.
  • In 2011 Taylor from Newcastle University showed in a group of diabetes patients that he could cure diabetes permanently with an extremely low calorie diet. The trial was simple: he took overweight or obese patients with diabetes and put them on a starvation diet of 600-700 calories per day for 8 weeks. Consequently 43% of diabetic patients received a permanent cure of their diabetes. More info: http://nethealthbook.com/news/cure-diabetes-permanently/

 

Close Diabetes Control Prolongs Life

Close Diabetes Control Prolongs Life

Conclusion

The new hemoglobin A1C ranges that are desirable are between 3.8% to 4.9%. When diabetics bring their hemoglobin A1C level into this range, they do not get complications from their previously poorly controlled diabetes. Close diabetes control prolongs life. But as can be seen from a brief review of the literature physicians tend to be lax, patients are lax, and diabetes is often not well controlled. This leads to erectile dysfunction in males, to heart attacks and kidney failure in both sexes. Blindness and painful diabetic neuropathy are also common complications of poorly controlled diabetes. Amputations from clogged arteries are also among the complications. “Close diabetes control prolongs life” is the new mantra that everybody with diabetes needs to follow.

Lifestyle changes control diabetes and prolong life

As stated above Dr. Taylor from Great Britain has shown that a brief 600 to 700 calorie diet can cure 43% of diabetic patients permanently. Quit smoking, bring the glycated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1C) into the normal range, control your systolic blood pressure as well as your total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Do all these things, exercise regularly, and your diabetes will be well controlled. Remember: close diabetes control prolongs life!

Sep
16
2017

Healthy Oils For A Healthy Body

Healthy oils for a healthy body? Quite frequently the news are full of articles that want to inform you what fat or oil to eat. At the end the consumer often faces information overload and confusion.

Here I am reviewing what we know about the various oils.

1. Coconut oil not as good as it was thought

This review article pointed out that coconut oil does elevate the bad cholesterol, called LDL cholesterol. This is not a desirable effect, as it can lead to heart disease and possibly heart attacks. On the other hand coconut oil also elevates HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol that mobilizes LDL cholesterol. The article points out that coconut oil may be a better choice than butter. Butter does not elevate HDL cholesterol to offset the effects of LDL cholesterol. Researchers felt that the occasional use of coconut oil instead of butter would be justifiable. But they advised strongly against the daily use of coconut oil. Instead they recommended olive oil, canola or soybean oil, along with nuts and seeds, as your primary fats. I agree with olive oil, but have concerns about canola or soybean oil, as I explain it later in this article.

Dr. Andrew Weil reviewed coconut oil in Self Healing August 2014. He said that the effect on cardiovascular health remains largely unclear. He is not aware of any “study that has shown using coconut oil leads to significant weight loss”. It is basically a thumbs down assessment for coconut oil. You may want to use it occasionally for baking or a special Thai food meal.

Let’s remember that the long-lived populations such as in Okinawa and others never used coconut oil.

2. Polyunsaturated fatty acids used in processed food

news release in 2016 describes new FDA food guidelines. They recommend that saturated fat should not exceed 10% of the total daily caloric intake, but there are still different opinions: some studies show that saturated fat may not be responsible for hardening of the arteries. Other studies have shown that breast cancer is more common in persons who consume more saturated fat .

In the 1980’s the news came out that saturated fats would be bad for arteries. At that time there was a switch to polyunsaturated fatty acids. These consist of safflower oil, canola oil, sunflower seed oil, corn oil, soybean oil and grape seed oil.

However, the irony is that these vegetable oils were highly unstable and lead to oxidation causing heart disease and cancer.

In contrast olive oil is a much more stable oil. And long-lived populations in the Mediterranean seem to be the proof, that it is a healthy fat source for them and for us.

Personally I have cut out polyunsaturated fatty acids out of my food and I suggest you do the same. We know now that polyunsaturated fatty acids lead to inflammation via the arachidonic acid pathway. This can cause gout, arthritis, diabetes, and inflammation of the arteries with subsequent clots causing heart attacks and strokes. I don’t need all of these diseases, I am doing fine without polyunsaturated fatty acids.

3. Omega-6 to omega-3 ratio

The cell membrane consists of two lipid layers at a specific ratio of omega-6 essential fatty acids and omega-3 essential fatty acids. It also contains triglycerides, phospholipids and protein. Safflower oil, canola oil, sunflower seed oil, corn oil, soybean oil and grape seed oil are mostly omega-6 fatty acids and the type of polyunsaturated fatty acids that prevail in processed foods. With the consumption of too much processed food the body has a problem constructing cell membranes. As you can see by this link when you compare the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acids with that of omega-3 fatty acids, there is a fundamental difference. The linoleic acid of omega-6 fatty acids metabolizes into arachidonic acid, which causes pro-inflammatory mediators, PGE2 and LTB4. On the other hand with omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is metabolized into EPA, DHA and the anti-inflammatory mediators PGE3 and LTB5.

Disbalanced omega-6 to omega-3 ratio

It is easy to understand why a surplus of omega-6 fatty acids from processed foods will disbalance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. This ratio should be 1:1 to 3:1, but many Americans’ omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 6:1 to 18:1. Omega-6-fatty acids cause arthritis, heart disease and strokes. Be particularly careful in avoiding soybean oil, which is the most popular oil in the last few decades to foul up the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio through processed foods. Read labels to avoid soybean oil and other omega-6 fatty acids.

When it comes to balancing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet, be aware that nutritional balancing can help you restore the ideal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 1:1 to 3:1. An easy way is to simply cut out processed foods as much as possible. Supplement with molecularly distilled fish oil capsules to add more omega-3 fatty acids into your food intake.

4. Fish oil

What we learned from this is the importance of fish oil as a supply of omega-3 fatty acids. But nuts also supply us with omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish three times per week is another way to get enough fish oil on board. There is a word of caution. Our oceans are so contaminated with mercury that you want to be careful and eat only fish low in mercury content. Avoid swordfish, tuna fish or grouper.

But wild salmon and mackerel are fish low in mercury and safe to eat. I would recommend that you eat seafood at least three times per week to have a good source of omega-3 fatty acid. In addition I would also recommend you take omega-3 supplements. I take it in the form of molecularly distilled high potency omega-3. I take 2 capsules twice a day. In addition I take 750 mg of krill oil once per day, another source of molecularly distilled marine omega-3 supplement.

5. Cold pressed virgin olive oil

Organic olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids that are neutral in terms of effects on the cardiovascular system. But it also contains a lot of polyphenols and among these in particular hydroxytyrosol that lower blood pressure and protects you from hardening of the arteries. This likely is the main reason why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy, apart from its emphasis on vegetables, which further makes it desirable. In a 2012 study from Spain it was found that mortality from heart attacks was 44% lower than that of a control group who did not incorporate olive oil in their diet.

Only two tablespoons of virgin olive oil per day protect you from heart disease. It does so by reducing the total cholesterol level in the blood as well as the LDL cholesterol level. At the same time the more polyphenol is contained in olive oil (such as in extra virgin olive oil), the more HDL your body will produce, which is essential to extract oxidized LDL from arterial plaque. On top of that polyphenol rich olive oil will increase the size of the HDL particles (these larger particles are called HDL2), which are more efficient in extracting oxidized LDL from arterial plaque.

Effects of olive oil

Olive oil has been shown to lower blood pressure and prevents heart attacks and strokes.

Sept. 2014 study in humans showed that higher polyphenol olive oil as found in extra virgin olive oil caused an increase in the more effective HDL2 particles, which cleans out plaque from arteries more efficiently than the regular, cheaper olive oil. You should use mainly olive oil for your regular cooking. Cold pressed, virgin olive oil is more expensive than the regular olive oil, but this is what has been proven to enhance health and to prolong life, if you consume it regularly.

Healthy Oils For A Healthy Body

Healthy Oils For A Healthy Body

Conclusion

Sometimes it is useful to think about what fats you are consuming. We tend to eat too many omega-6 fatty acids from processed foods. These are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in safflower oil, canola oil, sunflower seed oil, corn oil, soybean oil and grape seed oil. Food merchants use these polyunsaturated fatty acids to have a longer shelf life of their products. But the more omega-6 fatty acids we consume, the higher the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio gets. This leads to inflammation in the body and the arteries. It causes heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses. Years ago I cut polyunsaturated fatty acids out of my food intake. Instead I use organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. It is full of polyphenols (and among these in particular hydroxytyrosol). It lowers blood pressure and prevents heart attacks and strokes. I am not convinced that the hype around coconut oil can be verified. At this point I would suggest only occasional use of it.

You need to eat fish three times per week and other seafood as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. This is important to keep your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio well balanced. I also take fish oil supplements regularly like krill oil once daily and fish oil capsules twice a day. You can buy these molecularly distilled to ensure they are mercury contamination free.

Sep
09
2017

Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

Young heart stem cells can cure old hearts in rats. This is what research at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles found. You may not be that impressed, because this talks about rats and not humans. But this is a brand-new concept, so of course research of animal experiments is first.

The heart experiment

Dr. Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, is the research director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. His idea was to take cardiac stem cells (called cardiosphere-derived cells) from hearts of newborn rats. He injected them into 22 months old rats. The human equivalent for 22 months old rats are older people with older hearts. Within one months of the stem cells’ injections the older rats had normal functioning hearts. Their telomeres were also normal. Telomeres are the caps of the chromosomes of the heart cells. The researchers were astonished to find that the previously short telomeres had become longer. This happened within only one month of the stem cell injections. To Marbán’s surprise the older rats also grew hair faster and gained 20% of their previous exercise tolerance limit. In other words, the injection of heart stem cells had rejuvenated the old rats.

Dr. Marbán has previously shown that exosomes play an important role with stem cell regeneration of old heart cells. These particles from the stem cell donor contain RNA and other growth factors.

Overview of how stem cells can reverse heart failure

Cardiovascular disease includes high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke and congestive heart failure. About 2600 Americans die from cardiovascular disease each day in the US. This is roughly one death every 34 seconds. With old age, if a heart attack does not kill you, congestive heart failure will. With heart failure your heart ceases to pump enough blood through your system. Nutrients and oxygen need to reach all of our cells or it means death for the patient. With the knowledge of this serious background, stem cells have come into the focus in an attempt to combat congestive heart failure.

Animal experiments with stem cells in mice, rats and pigs have shown some progress in restoring better heart function. Researchers used different sources of stem cells, like cardiac stem cells that reside in the heart muscle itself. They also used other stem cell sources. Among these were myoblasts (from muscle), mesenchymal stem cells (from fat tissue) and bone marrow stem cells. Several smaller human trials showed that improvement of heart function was possible following a heart attack. In the procedure the surgeon opened coronary arteries and injected stem cells into the affected damaged heart muscle. How can we assess the result of a successful stem cell treatment? By measuring the left ventricular ejection fraction. This means that the heart can deliver a larger volume of blood every minute. The heart pumps more blood from the left ventricle with each heartbeat than before the treatment.

Other experiments that rejuvenate tissues of older animals

Another line of experiments in this paper shows that certain growth factors are necessary to activate stem cells.

  1. One experiment from the 1950’s describes the stitching together of the skin on their flanks joined an old and a young rat. After this procedure the blood vessels grew and joined the two animals circulatory systems. The older animals knee cartilage damage was no longer there, as the cells from the young animals’ blood had healed the damage.
  2. Research had no knowledge of this fact at that time. But another research group in the 2000’s repeated the experiment and could prove that the stem cells of the young animals activated the growth factors in the old animals.
  3. In 2004 Dr. Rando noted that muscle cells of aging mice were aging because of a lack of stimulation of the local skeletal muscle stem cells. These are satellite cells. Experiments similar to the rat experiment showed that there were factors in the blood of young mice that could re-activate stem cells in the muscles of old mice. Agility and movement of the older mice improved. The improvement in the older mice with knee arthritis disappearing and liver cells rejuvenating was astounding.

More evidence that rejuvenation of heart cells is possible

  1. Amy J. Wagers, a former colleague of Dr. Rando carried on experiments with respect to rejuvenation of hearts in mice. She and her colleagues found what stimulated the hearts of old mice. It was a protein called GDF11 (from young mice).  This 2016 publication describes the action of GDF11.
  2. A 2014 paper describes that GDF11 was able to restore aging muscles to a youthful state. But the researchers were also able to rejuvenate stem cell function in general with GDF11.
  3. Another paper describes that blood from young mice stimulates the brain of older animals to achieve rejuvenation. It is the protein of the young stem cells (called GDF11) and possibly other growth factors to bring about this rejuvenation. It works not only on heart cells, but also on hippocampus tissue in dementia models. This may be important in humans for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We can turn back the clock instead of slowing the clock down.” Dr. Toren Finkel said. He is the director of the Center for Molecular Medicine at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. He went on to say: “That’s a nice thought, if it pans out.” But others who caution that overstimulation of stem cells could cause cancers say: “It is quite possible that it will dramatically increase the incidence of cancer,” Dr. Irina M. Conboy said, a professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. “You have to be careful about overselling it.”

Degenerative changes in humans responding to stem cells

Many degenerative changes in humans respond to stem cell treatments. Are there stem cells present in degenerative tissue in humans similar to the animal experiments described above? Are the stem cells merely providing growth factors so the dormant stem cells jump into action and regenerate? Could it be that in future therapists could give a certain growth factor mix  intravenously to a patient, and the same effect as stem cell injections would be posssible? These are all unanswered questions, but research in the next decade should answer at least some of those questions.

Growth hormone improving heart function in heart failure patients

In 2008 a metaanalysis of human studies of congestive heart failure and treatment with human growth hormone (HGH) injections was a research topic. It showed an average increase of the ejection fraction by 4.3%. There were also increased cardiac output, decreased systemic vascular resistance and improved hemodynamic effects. The question is whether the effect is a direct effect on the heart muscle cells by HGH or whether HGH was recruiting dormant heart muscle stem cells. This is not clear at this point.

Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

Young Heart Stem Cells Can Cure Old Hearts

Conclusion

We have entered an exciting period of medical research. Although there is only a record of many animal experiments, there is overwhelming evidence that the same principles are true in humans. Many stem cell protocols for humans have already seen use for various applications. But stem cell treatments for heart disease are still in their early stages. As it becomes obvious from my review of this topic, some patients who were part of clinical trials have already experienced positive results. Congestive heart failure or poor pump performance following a heart attack have improved following various stem cell procedures. In the next few years there likely will be a proliferation of treatment options for patients. Although some critics have pointed out a possibility of cancer developing as a side effect of stem cell treatment, no evidence is noticeable at this point.

Sep
02
2017

Resveratrol Effective In Humans

Resveratrol has been labeled a powerful antioxidant; but is resveratrol effective in humans?

  1. Quack watch says: don’t buy into the hype that resveratrol is effective in humans.
  2. WebMD claims that there would not be enough medical evidence to say that the average person should supplement with resveratrol to receive benefits.

Despite these recommendations the following evidence supports that resveratrol is indeed effective in humans.

Resveratrol effective in humans: high blood pressure patients

A 2017 study of high blood pressure patients examined resveratrol supplementation with two groups, 46 stage 1 hypertension patients and 51 stage 2 hypertension patients. Stage I hypertension had a systolic blood pressure of 140–159 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure of 90–99 mmHg. Stage 2 hypertension was defined as a systolic blood pressure of 160–179 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure of 100–109 mmHg. Each subgroup was divided into two groups, one receiving regular antihypertensive medication, and the other group receiving regular antihypertensive medication plus Evelor. Evelor is a micronized formulation of resveratrol. The trial lasted two years. The purpose of the trial was to determine the effect of resveratrol, which was added to the regular antihypertensive medication (or not) to see whether it had blood pressure lowering effects. The interesting result showed that the resveratrol addition was sufficient to bring the blood pressure down to normal levels with only one antihypertensive drug. The control group without resveratrol needed two or three drugs to get the blood pressure under control. In addition, liver function tests showed that resveratrol normalized negative side effects of the antihypertensive drug on the liver. Both liver enzymes, glutamate-pyruvate transaminase (SGPT) and gamma-glutamyl transferase (Gamma-GT) were normal in the group where resveratrol had been added.

Resveratrol effective in humans: diabetes patients

Resveratrol helps diabetes patients. Resveratrol, the bioflavonoid from red  wine is a powerful anti-inflammatory. This antioxidant has several other effects, which make it challenging to measure each effect by itself. This group of investigators managed to simultaneously measure these effects. They found that resveratrol lowered the C-reactive protein by 26% and tumor necrosis factor-alpha by 19.8%. Resveratrol also decreased fasting blood sugar and insulin; in addition it reduced hemoglobin A1C and insulin resistance. The recommended daily dose of resveratrol was 1000 to 5000 mg.

Resveratrol effective in humans: improves bone density

Resveratrol improves bone density in men: 66 middle-aged obese men with an average age of 49.3 years and a mean body mass index of 33.7 were recruited for this randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. The purpose was to study whether there would be changes in bone turnover markers (LDH, an enzyme involved in bone turnover), but also whether bone mineral density (BMD) would increase. Resveratrol was given to a high group (1000 mg per day), a low group (150 mg) and a placebo (fake pills) were given to the third group. The end point was an elevation of the bone alkaline phosphatase (BAP). This was measured in the beginning of the study and at 4, 8 and 16 weeks. The high group of resveratrol had a 16% increase of the BAP throughout the study and a 2.6% in lumbar spine bone density (measured by a trabecular volumetric method). The low resveratrol group showed no bone restoring effect. MJ Ornstrup, MD, the lead investigator said that this was the first time that a clinical team has proven that resveratrol can potentially be used as an anti-osteoporosis drug in humans. She added that resveratrol appears to stimulate bone-forming cells within the body.

Resveratrol effective in humans: anti-aging effects

The Nurses’ Health Study showed that both a Mediterranean diet and resveratrol can elongate telomeres.

The fact that you can have a longer life with a Mediterranean diet is known for some time. But now a study has shown that the reason for a longer life is the fact that telomeres get elongated from the Mediterranean diet. Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes, and they get shorter with each cell division. This is the normal aging process.

The finding of elongated telomeres comes from the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study that started enrolling subjects in 1976. At that time 121 700 nurses from 11states enrolled in the study. In 1980 diet sheets were used to determine who was adhering to a Mediterranean diet. 4676 middle-aged participants were identified to qualify for this study. This diet consists of a combination of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, grains and olive oil. Fish and lean meats were also consumed. The control group followed a regular diet. Between 1989 and 1990 blood tests were obtained to measure telomere length in white blood cells. It is known that smoking, stress and inflammation shortens telomeres. The lead author Marta Crous-Bou stated that overall healthy eating was associated with longer telomeres compared to the control group. But the strongest association was found in women who adhered to the Mediterranean diet when compared to the controls. For the best diet adherence score there was a 4.5 year longer life expectancy due to slowed telomere shortening.

Longer telomeres have been found to be associated with the lowest risk to develop chronic diseases and the highest probability of an increased life span. I have reviewed the importance of lifestyle factors in this blog where I pointed out that Dr. Chang found a whole host of factors that can elongate telomeres by stimulating telomerase. It has been shown in humans that increased physical activity elongated telomeres. So did vitamin C, E and vitamin D3 supplementation, resveratrol, a Mediterranean diet and marine omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. In addition higher fiber intake, bioidentical estrogen and progesterone replacement in aging women and testosterone in aging men, as well as relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation are also elongating telomeres.

Aging is due to shortening of telomeres. Elongation of telomeres by resveratrol leads to prolonged life (or anti-aging).

Resveratrol effective in humans: resveratrol and cancer

As this overview shows, it seems that several mechanisms of action give resveratrol the power to be an anticancer agent. Resveratrol is anti-proliferative and has anti-angiogenesis mechanisms. In addition resveratrol stimulates apoptosis, which is programmed cell death. All these actions together help resveratrol to have anticancer properties. Resveratrol can also be used in combination with other cancer treatments, which improves survival figures. As the link above explains, more cancer clinical trials with a variety of cancers and larger patient numbers are required, but many smaller clinical trials have already been very successful showing efficacy of resveratrol as a chemotherapeutic agent.

In this 2015 publication about malignancies and resveratrol an overview is given about the use of resveratrol and cancer treatment. It summarizes that the development of cancer is a multifactorial process that involves the 3 stages of initiation, promotion and progression. One of the cancer promoting factors is chronic inflammation. Resveratrol has been shown to be anti-inflammatory. At this point it is not clear how the animal experiments will translate into the human situation. More clinical observations are necessary.

Resveratrol effective in humans: cardiovascular disease

Resveratrol has beneficial effects on preventing hardening of the arteries, diabetes, various cancers and inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease and arthritis. As this link explains resveratrol also stimulates the antiaging gene SIRT1 by 13-fold. This confirms the anti-aging effect of resveratrol. This 2012 study has also confirmed that resveratrol from red wine is what is responsible for the “French paradox” (longer life expectancy despite high saturated fat intake).

Resveratrol effective in humans: polycystic ovarian syndrome 

Polycystic ovarian syndrome could be significantly healed with resveratrol in a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. It involved 30 subjects who completed the trial. 1500 mg of resveratrol or placebo were administered daily for 3 months. Serum total testosterone was decreased by 23.1% at the end of 3 months in the experimental group versus the placebo group. There was also a decrease of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate of 22.2%. Fasting insulin level was reduced by 31.8%. At the same time insulin sensitivity was increased by 66.3%. The authors concluded that resveratrol had significantly reduced ovarian and adrenal gland male hormones (androgens). This may be in part from the drop in insulin levels and the increase of insulin sensitivity.

Resveratrol effective in humans: anti-arteriosclerotic effects in diabetics

A double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study was done on 50 diabetics. The cardio-ankle vascular index (CAVI) was used to determine arterial stiffness. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of resveratrol on the stiffness of arteries in a group of diabetics and compare this to a placebo. Diabetics are known to have premature hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerotic changes). After 12 weeks of taking 100 mg of resveratrol per day there was a significant reduction in arterial stiffness in the experimental group, but not in the placebo group. Blood pressure also decreased by 5 mm mercury (systolic) in the experimental group.

Resveratrol effective in humans: ulcerative colitis patients

56 patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis received 500 mg of resveratrol or placebo and were observed for 6 weeks. This was a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Bowel disease questionnaires were used to assess the bowel disease activity before and after the treatment. The resveratrol group decreased the disease activity significantly, but it also increased their quality of life. Blood tests showed that this improvement occurred as a result of reducing oxidative stress by resveratrol.

Resveratrol effective in humans: Alzheimer’s disease prevention

Here is a study where 52 Alzheimer’s patients were divided into two groups; one group was given 200 mg of resveratrol for a number of weeks, the other group placebo pills. There was a significant improvement in memory tests in the resveratrol group and functional MRI scans showed better functional connectivity in the hippocampi of the subjects. It is known that the hippocampus is the seat for short-term memory, which is lost in Alzheimer’s patients.

Resveratrol Effective In Humans

Resveratrol Effective In Humans

Conclusion

Resveratrol has a long history of showing evidence of improving health. It does so by countering oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which lessens hardening of arteries. This prevents heart attacks and strokes. Resveratrol is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, which helps patients with diabetes, with Crohn’s disease and arthritis. There is even a cancer preventing effect of resveratrol because of anti-proliferative and anti-angiogenesis effects as well as stimulating apoptosis. Because of these combined anticancer properties resveratrol is a chemotherapeutic agent that can be combined with conventional anticancer drugs.

There are enough randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trials in humans to show that resveratrol is effective in preventing and treating several disease conditions. The medical establishment claims that there would not be enough medical evidence to say that the average person should supplement with resveratrol to receive health benefits. After my review outlined above I come to the opposite conclusion. It is quite clear that resveratrol has several important healing properties. It can improve diabetes; prevent hardening of arteries, lower blood pressure, attack osteoporosis and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. I have been taking 500 mg of resveratrol daily for years. It has not harmed me.

Aug
26
2017

Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

What do decreased sperm counts in men tell us about our world? A recent study has shown that over the past 40 years males in many centers that tested for sperm counts have lost 50% of the sperm count that was normal in the 1970’s. The question is, what could have caused this? Nobody has definite answers. But here are the factors that the Mayo Clinic lists for low sperm counts.

Medical causes of decreased sperm counts in men

  • A varicocele: A varicocele is dilatation of veins close to the testicles. It is presumed that this leads to a higher temperature inside the testicles and this causes a lowered sperm count and poor sperm quality.
  • Antisperm antibodies can cause infertility. Due to low sperm counts.
  • Infections in the testicles reduce sperm production. Gonorrhea and HIV infection are some of the common infections.
  • Some men develop retrograde ejaculation. With this the sperm enter the bladder on ejaculation instead of coming out from the tip of the penis. Alpha-blockers, a type of blood pressure medication can do this as a side effect. But there are also various health problems that can cause retrograde ejaculation like diabetes, surgery to the prostate, urethra and bladder. Spinal injuries can be also a cause of retrograde ejaculations. In many cases the sperm production in the testicles is still present and sperm could be sampled from there for artificial insemination.
  • Tumors of the pituitary gland can interfere with hormone production of testosterone and sperm counts will fall or stop. But other pituitary hormones, thyroid hormone and adrenal gland hormones are needed for fertility.
  • Chromosome defects like Klinefelter syndrome and others can be a cause of abnormal development of the male genitals with low or missing sperm production.
  • Celiac disease is a bowel disease that is due to gluten sensitivity. It causes low sperm counts and infertility, which responds to a gluten free diet. Sperm counts normalize with this diet.
  • There are medications that can decrease sperm production like chemotherapy, anabolic steroid use, antifungals and certain antibiotic medications and some ulcer medications.

Lifestyle causes leading to decreased sperm counts in men

Certain lifestyles and occupations can cause a man to have a decreased sperm count.

  • Drinking alcohol excessively can reduce testosterone production, which decreases sperm count.
  • Recreational drug use: steroids to increase muscle mass cause testicular atrophy and decreased sperm count. Cocaine and marihuana also decreases the sperm count.
  • Certain occupations like welding from exposure to heat and truck driving from prolonged sitting have been associated in some studies with infertility. But there are other studies that could not confirm this correlation.
  • Smoking: Men who smoke have lower sperm counts than men who don’t smoke.
  • Excessive weight: Obese men transform some of their testosterone into estrogen through the action of the enzyme aromatase, which is amply present in fat cells. This leads to low testosterone levels and low sperm counts.

Environmental causes of decreased sperm counts in men

The environment in terms of heat production around the scrotum or exposure to chemicals or ionizing radiation can lower sperm counts in men.

  • Heat around the testicles: studies do not all agree, but there is a tendency for low sperm counts when using saunas and hot tubs frequently. Sitting for longer times or using a laptop computer for longer periods can also increase the temperature of a man’s scrotum and lead to a low sperm count.
  • Exposure to heavy metals like lead, mercury and others can be the cause of infertility.
  • Exposure to radiation can reduce sperm production. With high doses of radiation sperm production may cease entirely. With lower radiation exposures sperm counts may be down for several years before they recover to normal.
  • Industrial chemicals: exposure to fumes from certain chemicals can lead to low sperm counts; benzenes, herbicides, pesticides, xylene, toluene, painting materials and organic solvents are on this list.

Recent study about decreased sperm counts in men as an indicator

We have now reviewed the major causes of low sperm counts in men. I like to revisit the recent sperm study I mentioned in the beginning of this blog. It is unlikely that men in North America, Europe and Australia would spontaneously produce less than 50% of the sperm than men 40 years earlier had produced. The next puzzling fact is that the study found normal sperm production in men in Africa, South America and Asia.

This points to epidemiological differences that reduce the sperm count in men in North America, Europe and Australia. In view of the multitude of possible causes it will require a task force that does a comparative study worldwide looking at exposure history, diets, social habits and other factors.

Fertility clinics are thriving because couples want children. With low sperm counts of males there is more infertility than there was in the past. Density gradient centrifugation is a reliable method of enriching sperm counts.

In the past a couple had no problem getting a successful pregnancy when they wanted it. Now couples often have to be assessed in a fertility clinic because of problems with regard to decreased sperm counts in men, which can cause infertility.

Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

Conclusion

A new study has noticed that over the past 40 years many men have developed low sperm counts. This has caused significant problems with fertility among couples. Fertility clinics are busy trying to help these couples. Density gradient centrifugation has become a common technique to enrich sperm samples prior to artificial insemination. It is a puzzle why the recent study has found normal sperm counts in samples of men living in Africa, South America and Asia. In contrast men living in Europe, North America and Australia have 50% lower sperm counts. The reason may be multifactorial. It will require a team of experts to sort out this discrepancy and hopefully find an answer for men in Europe, North America and Australia to bring their sperm counts back to normal.

Aug
19
2017

No More Macaroni And Cheese

Two years ago Kraft’s was in the news and I said then “no more macaroni and cheese”.  At that time they promised to make macaroni and cheese more nutritious by removing artificial coloring and artificial flavors. Now they are in the news because industrial chemical phthalates have been found in almost every sample of cheese powder that is used to make macaroni and cheese.

Phthalates are powerful hormone-disrupting chemicals that are toxic to children and pregnant women. Prenatal exposure to phthalates has been linked to abnormal brain development and abnormalities of the reproductive system. Potentially 725,000 American women of childbearing age are at risk. Should they get pregnant, their babies would be at the receiving end of toxic phthalates. In Europe new regulations about phthalates were introduced in 2011. In North America the FDA has been negligent in enforcing legislation to keep the US population free of phthalates in their food.

Background information about phthalates

Phthalates are industrial chemicals that are widely used in cleaning agents like soaps, plastics, rubbers, inks, adhesives and fragrances. Phthalates in plastic materials increases the durability and longevity, but also the flexibility and transparency of plastic.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention describes on its website how a large percentage of the population has phthalates in their urine. This proves that unsuspecting customers are ingesting phthalates, which potentially poses a tremendous challenge.

Should phthalates be more vigorously legislated as they have been in Europe?

Effects of phthalates on body

It seems that males are more sensitive to the toxic effects of phthalates than females. Males experience testicular atrophy and shrinking of the prostate gland. The sperm count goes down, which can lead to infertility. Pregnant women are at risk of having babies with genetic defects due to exposure to phthalates. Many cosmetic products contain phthalates and due to lax FDA supervision many cosmetics are not even labelled, when they contain phthalates (lipsticks, make-up).

Apart from infertility issues phthalates are also responsible for allergies, some cases of obesity, asthma and breast cancer.

There are other clinical conditions that have been linked to phthalate exposure. Behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorder, type 2 diabetes, low IQ and neurodevelopmental issues. A lot of these problems could be eliminated with more awareness of the public, stricter labeling rules of the regulatory agencies and more responsibility shown by manufacturers.

Why nutritionists don’t like macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and cheese belongs into the group of junk foods. In the past it was artificial coloring and artificial flavors that were the concern. Now it came to light that phthalates have contaminated the fat-containing cheese from the packaging. The soft plastic cheese packages contain phthalates and they are easily transferred into fatty cheese, because phthalates are fat-soluble.

From a nutritional point of view macaronis are simply empty starch. This gets very quickly digested into sugar and causes a sugar peak in the blood. High blood sugar causes an insulin peak. Repeated insulin peaks have been associated with premature aging, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Cheese in macaroni and cheese is the cheapest processed cheese. Here is a table of contents of what macaroni and cheese contains. In this recipe the cheese portion is derived from processed cheddar cheese. But in many macaroni and cheese packages the cheese portion is made up of a mix of protein, fat and milk powder and this mix has nothing to do with cheese. It just tastes like cheese. But all of the cheese powder packages have in common that in 29 out of 30 of the packages tested phthalates were contained in the cheese powder.

The package was made with a plastic coating that contained the phthalates and this leeched into the cheese powder, because phthalates are fat-soluble.

No More Macaroni And Cheese: Toxic “food” is non-food

The problem with macaroni and cheese in today’s society is that it is processed food. The more food is processed, the higher the risk that valuable nutrients get lost. Unfortunately with food processing there is the need to use a food container where the food is stored. But up to now nobody thought that the ubiquitous phthalates that keep the plastic material of the food container flexible and longer lasting could pose any threat to our health by leaking into fatty foods.

However, we did have problems with PBA’s not long ago; they were leaking from baby bottles into baby food. The solution was to abandon BPA bottles.

We have to rethink the whole scenario. As this link shows there are many other chemicals in plastic that can also be toxic.

We can work on the food side and avoid as much processed food as possible. Buy fresh ingredients that you bring home and store in your fridge. Avoid plastic bags. Use glass containers as they have been found to be safe (not leaking chemicals into food).

What can you do, if you want no more macaroni and cheese?

Stop buying macaroni and cheese as processed food. Buy ingredients to make them yourself at home. Here is a recipe of how to make macaroni and cheese: You may in the past have thought that it is much easier to just buy macaroni and cheese in the store. But this is where the phthalates come in. It is our laziness that allows food processors to slip chemicals into our food that could damage us; and some of these potentially harmful chemicals are phthalates. Phthalates probably slipped into our food unintentionally because they are so extremely fat-soluble that they get into the cheese part of macaroni and cheese.

If you want to eat macaroni and cheese, make it yourself as per the recipe provided with the link above.

But I went one step further. I have abandoned macaroni and cheese altogether. I have decided that I don’t need the extra insulin response from the macaroni as I digest them; I also do not need the extra processed cheese, as the fats are not the healthiest. If I want some cheese, I can cut a few slices from an honest organic cheese that was made from organic milk of grass fed cows.

I like eating diversified food from many healthy sources.

No More Macaroni And Cheese

No More Macaroni And Cheese

Conclusion

Sometimes we need to rethink the food that we eat. Do we want to eat macaroni and cheese, because it reminds us of how we grew up? When you hear that toxic phthalates are contained in processed foods you may also say as I do: “No more macaroni and cheese!” As I mentioned, if you really want to eat it, cook it yourself from the basic, healthy ingredients. But I decided no more macaroni and cheese for me, because it is not that healthy. There are healthier foods that I’d rather eat instead.

If more of us would shun processed foods, then the food industry would have to adapt to the population’s healthier food habits and come up with healthier products. We also would not be exposed as much to phthalates that find their way into the food chain from food containers. Rethink your food habits and perhaps one day you can agree with me: “I don’t want non-nutritious processed food! No more macaroni and cheese!”

Aug
12
2017

Curcumin And Cancer

Many clinicians give their attention to curcumin and cancer. It may not be used as a primary treatment, but may be added as an adjunct to other cancer treatments. Curcumin is the effective ingredient of the old Indian spice, turmeric. The question is how effective curcumin is against cancer? Is it safe to use? What is the evidence?

Frequency of cancer

According to the American Cancer Society there will be 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed in 2017 and 600,920 cancer deaths will occur in the US.

Causes of cancer

Cancer can be caused in many different ways. Hidden in the many causes may be the possible solution to new cures.

  1. A lack of exercise may contribute to the development of cancer because of a lack of tissue circulation. And exercise will help to support your normal cell metabolism (explained below). Wrong foods may or may not have a contributory role regarding cancer development (a high sugar and starch diet causing insulin response, which changes the metabolism). The Mediterranean diet is an anti-inflammatory diet and has been credited to prevent a lot of cancers.
  2. Cancer can be caused by chemicals, called carcinogens. But it can also be caused by oncoviruses. It can be genetically caused, that’s why it tends to run more often in certain cancer prone families. But Warburg has researched the metabolism of cancer almost 100 years ago, even got the Nobel price for it in 1931 and yet the elusive cancer cure has not materialized yet. Otto Heinrich Warburg
  3. Following Warburg’s research Watson/Crick detected DNA in our cells. Ever since geneticists were fascinated by it. They also found that a cancer suppressive gene, regulated by the p53 gene could develop mutations and then cancer would occur: Tumor Suppressor Genes For decades this was the “in” thing. But in the last 5 to 10 years there is a revitalization of the original Warburg idea that one should concentrate on the metabolic differences between cancer cells and normal cells. This is starting to show some timid results.
  4. Cancer cells are more acidic from lactic acid and burn glucose for energy without requiring oxygen (anaerobic pathway), while normal cells burn glucose in the aerobic pathway in the mitochondria. This difference is important. Cancer cells were found to be more vulnerable to be killed by certain manipulations.
  5. Take cryoablation therapy for prostate cancer. Cryosurgery for prostate cancer. The more vulnerable cancer cells are preferentially killed over the normal cells through a local deep freeze method. Another example is phototherapy treatment of cancer that has been used for lung cancer and esophageal cancer. https://www.sciencedaily.com/rel… This method may be a lot more universally applicable than believed so far. A photosensitized dye is injected and later when normal cells have eliminated the dye, but the defective cancer cells are still containing the dye a laser beam is used to kills the cancer cells preferentially, absorbing the specific laser wavelength that is specific for the dye.
  6. Nobody knows which way cancer research is going. But I think it will be consumer driven: consumers want better cures, and when new methods appear that have better cure rates, these will be pushed forward while less effective methods will become history. I think that Warburg will be revitalized and new therapies will continue to be developed from this as I indicated.

Curcumin and cancer: malignant conversion

There are three development stages for any cancer to develop.

This was originally researched with skin cancer, but also confirmed with cervical cancer. It is called the “malignant conversion” that needs to take place before a normal cell has become a cancer cell. There are three stages.

  • Initiation
  • Promotion
  • Progression

This is important to know in the context of curcumin. Basic research has shown that curcumin interferes with all of these stages of tumor development, both in terms of prevention as well as in terms of being curative. Here is a link that points out the complex multiple steps of cancer growth that curcumin interferes with.

As can be seen from it, curcumin interferes with the initiation of multiple cancers, reduces inflammation, and interferes with angiogenesis and this reduces the amount of metastases that can form. But curcumin further interferes with proliferation of cancer cells, reduces invasion, prevents resistance and improves survival. The underlying molecular and genetic reasons for curcumin’s actions are all contained in that link.

Curcumin and cancer: research in tissue culture and animal experiments

When it comes to cancer research, you usually hear about in vitro culture experiments and animal experiments. This type of research is used to establish that there is an anti-cancer effect, that it is reproducible and non-toxic. The September issue of the 2016 Life Extension Magazine reviewed this in detail. It was entitled “How Curcumin Targets Cancer”.

But as a former clinician I am more interested in seeing cancer patients cured. This has to be verified by clinical trials first. When I looked through PubMed.com for objective evidence of the effects of curcumin in cancer patients, this type of information was more difficult to find. But in the following there are a number of examples that I did find.

Curcumin and cancer: clinical trials

1. Reduction of tumor necrosis factor-alpha

A 2016 meta-analysis of eight randomized studies investigated the effect of curcumin in patients with various inflammatory diseases including cancer. They found that curcumin consistently reduced tumor necrosis factor-alpha. In cancer patients this inflammatory substance is responsible for further cancer growth and developments of metastases.

2. Poor bioavailability of curcumin

A study with increasing amounts of curcumin showed poor absorption of curcumin into the blood. In this study dosages between 500 mg up to 12,000 mg per day of curcumin were given. 500 mg to 8000 mg of curcumin did not result in any positive serum level of curcumin. Only the higher dosages, 10,000 and 12,000 mg of curcumin were associated with positive curcumin levels in the blood serum. In order to have effects of curcumin, higher amounts have to be taken. Higher amounts of curcumin have been tested for toxicity and were found to be safe and were fairly well tolerated.

3. Precancerous colonic polyps reduced in number and size

A smaller study consisted of 5 subjects with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). This is an autosomal-dominant disorder where hundreds of colorectal adenomas develop in the lining of the colon. From these colorectal cancer can arise. Five patients received 480 mg of curcumin and 20 mg quercetin orally three times per day. After 6 months the number of polyps and the size had reduced by 60.4%.

4. Premalignant colonic lesions suppressed by curcumin

44 eligible smoker subjects received a baseline colonoscopy where aberrant crypt foci (ACF) were determined. ACI are the very first focal areas in the colon from which colon cancer develops. Smokers are known to have more of these lesions, which was the reason that smoker subjects were used for this trial. The patients received either a supplement of 2000 mg of curcumin or 4000 mg of curcumin for 30 days. These are fairly high doses, but they were used to overcome the poor absorption of curcumin. Colonoscopies were done again after one month of curcumin supplementation. 41 subjects completed the study. In the 4000 mg curcumin group the ACF numbers were reduced significantly by 40% compared to the 2000 mg group, which showed no reduction. The 4000 mg group showed a 5-fold increase of curcumin blood levels compared to baseline. There was no change in blood levels in the 2000 mg group.

5. Reduction of radiation dermatitis with radiation therapy in breast cancer patients

30 breast cancer patients were divided into an experimental group and a placebo group. All of them had a mastectomy first, which was followed by radiation therapy. The experimental group received 6 grams (2 grams three times per day) of curcumin during the time of radiotherapy following mastectomy. The severity of radiation dermatitis following radiotherapy was significantly reduced in the experimental group when compared to the placebo group. Only 28.6% had significant radiation dermatitis in the curcumin group versus 87.5% in the placebo group.

6. Chronic multiple myeloma patients

An Australian study involving chronic multiple myeloma patients found that curcumin at 4 Grams per day and even more so at 8 Grams per day stabilized the disease and improved kidney function.

7. Descriptive studies

Descriptive studies investigating the effect of various doses of curcumin have been done regarding breast cancer,  and advanced pancreatic cancer. But these clinical trials were all rather small.

8. Chemoprevention of cancer

A phase II trial enrolled 21 patients with end-stage pancreatic cancer patients. The only FDA approved treatments for this are gemcitabine and erlotinib, but this would normally only lead to clinical responses in less than10% of patients. In this study the investigators used curcumin to enhance the anti-tumor response of either gemcitabine or erlotinib. The study summary stated: “Oral curcumin is well tolerated and, despite its limited absorption, has biological activity in some patients with pancreatic cancer.” 2 of the 21 patients had stable disease for more than 18 months; one of the 21 patients had a brief tumor regression of 78%, but then relapsed and died.

9. Chemoprevention of cancer

Chemoprevention of cancer is discussed in this publication: There was specific reference made to prevention of prostate cancer and the opinion of the researchers was: “At present, there is no convincing clinical proof or evidence that the cited phytochemicals might be used in an attempt to cure cancer of the prostate.”

Curcumin And Cancer

Curcumin And Cancer

Conclusion

For years there have been reports to indicate that curcumin was a promising natural supplement that can improve cancer survival. There are poorly founded reports of effects of curcumin on colorectal cancer, pancreas cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and others. But on closer look the hype seems to come mostly from in vitro studies (tissue culture experiments) or from animal studies. Clinicians, however, demand well-constructed randomized clinical trials with clear research objectives before they can accept a new agent like curcumin to be effective. These clinical trials are missing! Instead there are many in-between trials of questionable quality as listed above.

There have been problems of bioavailability due to poor absorption of curcumin. To a certain extent this could be overcome by pushing the dosage to 6000 to 8000 mg per day. But a significant percentage of people (around 30%) suffered from abdominal cramps and nausea and had to discontinue these high doses of curcumin. Newer curcumin compounds have been developed, but at this point it is not known what the bioequivalent dosage is of these newer curcumin agents in comparison to the original curcumin dosages.

It is quite possible that new trials will one day be performed that may bring better news on survival rates of various cancer patients involving curcumin therapy. But in my opinion right now it is not yet prime time for curcumin!

Aug
05
2017

Death From Heartburn Drugs

A study was recently published showing that death from heartburn drugs can come early, when compared to controls. The study was published in June 2017 in the online British Medical Journal Open. The researchers were located at the Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA.

349, 312 US veterans on proton pump inhibitors (PPI) were compared to an equal amount of veterans on conventional H2 blockers. Over a follow-up period of 5.71 years there was an increased risk of death of 25% when patients took PPI drugs. It did not matter to what the PPI group was compared, there were always more deaths in the PPI group compared to other control groups.

Causes of death

According to the senior author, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly many deaths were due to kidney disease, dementia, fractures, pneumonia, Clostridium difficile infections and cardiovascular disease. Out of 500 patients who took the PPI drug there was one death within one year. But over the years the deaths increased. Dr. Al-Aly thinks that the PPI drug is interfering in some way with the genetic expression of some genes and suppressing others. These genetic differences may explain the early deaths.

As this was a retrospective study, it can only show an association of PPI drugs with earlier deaths, but this does not prove causation. It would require a prospective random study to prove causation.

Other studies regarding the risk of PPI drugs

  1. An Icelandic study from May 2017 showed that there was a 30% increased risk of fractures in males and females following PPI drugs when observed over 10 years. Opiates were associated with an almost 50% risk, sedatives with a 40% risk of increased fractures. Control groups of NSAIDs, statins and beta-blockers showed no increased fracture risk, nor did histamine H2-antagonists.
  1. An article from March 2017 is a critical review of the safety of PPI drugs. It notices that with long-term use there are adverse effects like fractures of the long bones, enteric infections and hypomagnesemia. PPI’s can increase the risk for heart attacks and can cause kidney disease and dementia. One of the problems is that gastroesophageal reflux usually dictates the long term use of anti acid drugs like PPI’s, but the longer patients are taking these drugs, the higher the death rate and side-effect rate. The physician should only use PPI drugs initially and after a few weeks switch to the less potent histamine H2-antagonists (like ranitidine).
  2. A Danish study from April 2017 noted an increased risk for listeriosis in patients who were on PPI drugs. Over 5 years there was a 2.81-fold higher risk of developing listeriosis in patients on PPI’s compared to a control group. If patients were on corticosteroids and a PPI the risk was even higher, namely 4.61-fold increase to develop listeriosis. In contrast, the use of histamine H2-antagonists was associated with a risk of only 1.82-fold of developing listeriosis.
  1. In a Dec. 2016 study from Dublin, Ireland patients older than 65 were examined with regard to their PPI drug use. Data was compiled for 1997 and for 2012. It was noted that the maximal PPI dose for long-term use was prescribed to 0.8% of individuals in 1997 and to 23.6% in 2012. The risk of getting high dose PPI drugs prescribed in 2012 was 6.3-fold compared to 1997. Examination of the health records showed that the indication for prescribing PPI drugs was not associated with significant gastrointestinal bleeding risk factors. The study concluded that there was definitely room for improving prescribing habits.
  1. This January 2016 paper describes the standard treatment of H. pylori and gastric and duodenal ulcer treatment, which involves the triple therapy consisting of a PPI and two antibiotics. It pointed out that this treatment protocol “improves healing and prevents complications and recurrences”.
  2. A paper from Leipzig, Germany dated July 2016 reviews the usage of PPIs. It mentions that there has been a significant increase of prescriptions in the past 25 years. Patients on PPI’ are at a greater risk for fractures. There is also a risk of low B12 levels from malabsorption of B12. This should be checked from time to time, and if necessary B12 injections should be given.
  3. A Canadian study from May 2015 found that Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) were linked to chronic antibiotic use or to prolonged use of high doses of PPI drugs. There was a 1.5-fold risk of recurrent CDI in patients older than 75 years who were taking PPI drugs continuously. There was a 1.3-fold recurrence of CDI after antibiotic re-exposure.

Alternative remedies for heartburn

  • Dr. Weil recommends the use of deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) for heartburn or early ulcers.
  • Here is a clinical study with 56 patients with duodenal and gastric ulcers that was published in 1968. It could be shown both radiographically as well as clinically that the ulcers healed and that stomach spasms subsided with DGL treatment. At that time it was not known that DGL had antibacterial effects and that often chronic heartburn, stomach and duodenal ulcers can be made chronic by H. pylori infections that are simultaneously present.
  • A December 2016 study showed that probiotics could be a valuable adjunct in triple therapy for H. pylori infection. The study also points out that H. pylori is present in about 50% of the world’s population.

Antibacterial effects of DGL

  • A paper of December of 2012 shows that an important tooth decay bacterium responds to DGL.
  • In a 1989 study 20 patients with aphthous mouth ulcers were followed. DGL mouthwash led to a 50 to 75% improvement in 15 patients within one day of treatment and by the 3rd day there was complete resolution.
  • Here is a suggestion of a four-step approach against H. pylori.
  • DGL has been shown to be useful in gut regeneration in patients with Clostridium difficile infection.

Discussion

I started with a review of a recent paper that pointed out the side effects of PPI drugs. PPI’s are used for acid reflux disease, stomach and duodenal ulcers, either alone or as part of the triple therapy. Because many of these problems are associated with a chronic infection of H. pylori, I reviewed the literature surrounding deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), a natural antacid remedy. It turns out that DGL can be quite useful either as a parallel treatment or instead of the triple therapy.

The problem over the past 25 years is that physicians have been treating acid problems with higher and higher doses of PPI’s. They are also using ASA prophylaxis against heart attacks and strokes more often. This has caused gastric erosions that are bleeding, which in turn caused physicians to prescribe more PPI’s. The side effects of PPI’s can be viewed as iatrogenic (doctor- induced) disease. This is an artificial disease that occurs from the side effects of overprescribed medicine. PPI’s are a very useful short-term anti-acid medication. But this medication should not be used for more than 4 to 8 weeks. But as patients receive years and years of this medication, serious problems like heart attacks, fractures, kidney disease, dementia, and pneumonia as well as Clostridium difficile infections become the consequence. Overall there was an increase of the death rate of 25%.

It sounds quite reasonable that doctors should return to a more conservative approach as the FDA has suggested. Alternative natural methods including DGL and probiotics can also be utilized.

Death From Heartburn Drugs

Death From Heartburn Drugs

Conclusion

A recent study from the online British Medical Journal Open has pointed out a high death rate among long-term proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drug users. These drugs are used to suppress acid formation in the stomach. They are helpful, if there are significant gastrointestinal bleeding risk factors present. But prolonged use of PPIs causes severe side effects as described, including a chronic persistent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) of the gut that can become resistant to antibiotic therapy. In cases of recurrent CDI one important step is to discontinue PPIs. The physician should consider switching to one of the conventional histamine H2-antagonist drugs (like ranitidine). Overusing PPIs in an older population is not responsible, as this leads to disease that is caused by a physician! There is no need for this to happen. The prescribing physician has to exercise caution and restraint and the patients, and their loved ones need to be aware of multidrug interactions. PPIs belong to the drugs that are eliminated in the liver through the cytochrome P450 enzyme system (CYP2C19). But this enzyme system interfering with the drug elimination process may also eliminate other drugs taken by the patient. The end results can be toxic drug levels of PPIs. It can potentiate the side effects and become responsible for the 25% increased risk of death when the patient takes PPI drugs chronically. Even though PPIs are the newer medication, newer does not always mean better.

Jul
29
2017

Some Drink Milk, Others Are Lactose Intolerant

Some drink milk, others are lactose intolerant; this is the fact about drinking milk.

For a long time the dairy marketing board advertised with the slogan: “Got milk?”. But dairy milk consumption has declined over the past decades.

Why this is has been reviewed in this article. I like to review the problem of lactose intolerance, milk as a source of calcium to prevent osteoporosis and offer alternatives to milk consumption.

Lactose intolerance

Milk cows have been around in Europe for about 6000 years. But not everybody can tolerate milk products. Most of the Europeans, North Americans and Australians have adjusted the digestive enzymes in their duodenum to produce enzymes, called lactase that digest milk sugar (lactose) into glucose and galactose. But up to 75% of the world population (Africa, South America, Asia) is lactase deficient; they cannot tolerate dairy products. They get abdominal cramping, intestinal gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting from drinking a glass of dairy milk. This link explains why goat milk is better than cow’s milk for those who cannot tolerate cow’s milk.

It is also interesting that many people who are lactase deficient can tolerate cheeses, yogurt and other fermented milk products as the fermenting bacteria have digested the lactose.

Other problems with dairy products

Problems with mass production of dairy items are the following:

  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) are responsible for the majority of milk products on grocery market shelves. This means that the animals are fed unnatural corn, which leads to deficiencies and omega-6 fatty acids in the milk products.
  • Antibiotics are given to prevent infections among the herds of animals.
  • Bovine growth hormone (bST, bovine somatotropin) is administered to stimulate more milk production. The antibiotics lead to superbugs in humans, the bST may be causing autoimmune diseases and breast cancer in humans. The healthiest milk is milk from grass-fed cows. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids. All of the milk products derived from this type of milk are also healthy.

Milk as a source of calcium

One key advertising slogan of the dairy industry used to be that milk would be such a good source of calcium, which would prevent osteoporosis. But milk also has a lot of animal protein in it, which acidifies blood. This means that the kidneys use calcium to neutralize acidic blood and excrete calcium. The net result is that there is more calcium leaving the body as some of the calcium from the bone is also used to keep the balance between acidity and alkalinity.

This 12 year long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study involving 77, 761 women between the ages of 34 to 59 showed that a higher consumption of milk did not protect against hip and wrist fractures.

The myth that full fat milk causes heart attacks and strokes

There is another myth floating around, namely that full fat milk would be bad for the heart because of increased saturated fatty acids. But an Australian study showed that full fat milk is healthier for you than milk with less fat.

After 14.4 years of follow-up the group that consumed the most milk compared to the lowest fat intake group had a 69% lower death rate from cardiovascular disease!

A 2016 study showed that consumption of plain yogurt was associated with better health outcomes on the long term. Be more concerned about the sugar content than the fat content of yogurt!

Prevention of osteoporosis

Too many years have been wasted to sell the false concept of increasing milk consumption (“Got milk?”) for increased calcium intake and possible osteoporosis prevention. It was sold like a mantra: Milk-calcium-osteoporosis prevention. Now we know the real truth behind the false advertising mantra: milk provides protein and calcium, but calcium is poorly absorbed and the acidified blood is alkalinized through calcium from milk and from the bone being excreted into the urine. The end result is a net loss of calcium from the bone, as it is more important to the body to keep the blood’s acid/base stable than to increase the calcium level in the bone. Sadly all the high consumers of milk from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study ended up having fractures from osteoporotic bones.

Prevention of osteoporosis requires intake of vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and calcium (supplement or diet) as I have reviewed in this blog. In addition regular exercise is also very beneficial as is bioidentical sex-hormone replacement. It is interesting that a large clinical trial that I mentioned in this blog showed after 7 years that there were 35% to 38% less fractures of the hip than in the placebo group. Vitamin K2 is essential to keep calcium in the bones and to keep calcium out of the blood vessel walls. Vitamin D3 is important for calcium absorption through the gut wall and to deposit calcium into bone. Without all of these ingredients it is not possible to prevent osteoporosis.

Alternatives to milk consumption

  1. One obvious step is to replace cow’s milk by goat milk. As you can see from this link, there are many advantages to goat milk. What I find important is the fact that those with lactase deficiency often can tolerate goat milk while they would otherwise react to cow’s milk. There are also many goat milk products like cheese and yogurt, all of which are very healthy. They do not contain any antibiotics or bovine growth hormone (bST), which is only used in cows. Goat milk products are also an excellent source of protein.
  2. You can eat a more vegetable-based diet. A lot of vegetables and fruit have calcium and protein in them.
  3. You can consume almond milk instead of cow’s milk. The downside to know is the fact that almond milk is not a significant source of protein. It has the advantage of being slightly alkaline; this will ensure that the calcium absorbed in the gut will reach the bones as long as you also supplement with vitamin D3 and vitamin K2. The many “fake milk” products such as rice milk, coconut milk and hemp milk are also poor protein sources. The only product higher in protein is soymilk. But soy has its own problems: over 90 % of the crop in North America is genetically engineered, and soy is a known allergen. As of recent, another product based on pea protein is available, and the protein content is excellent, so it is worth looking for it (It is called “Ripple”).
Some Drink Milk, Others Are Lactose Intolerant

Some Drink Milk, Others Are Lactose Intolerant

Conclusion

Drinking milk as a source of protein and calcium has become an obsession a few decades back. In the meantime it turned out that drinking milk tips the acid-base balance in the direction of acidity. This causes osteoporosis, as the kidneys excrete all of the calcium from milk that is absorbed. On top of that even more calcium is taken out from bones to recalibrate the acid-base balance.

Up to 75% of the world population is lactose intolerant. They get sick from drinking cow’s milk. But they usually tolerate goat milk quite well. Considering the fact that antibiotics are used in cow milk production and recombinant bovine growth hormone as well, I have joined the crowd that prefers goat milk instead of cow’s milk. I take the supplements I mentioned for bone maintenance (vitamin D3 and K2) and I get lots of calcium also from vegetables and salads. I have no lactose intolerance, but that’s my take on milk.

Jul
22
2017

Relaxation Reduces Inflammation

Relaxation can calm your mind, but new research has shown that relaxation reduces inflammation as well.

This article is based on a research paper in Frontiers in Immunology in June of 2017.

It concentrated on the calming effect of meditation on the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), which causes inflammation. We know that overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system activates the inflammatory pathway by expressing the genes responsible for NF-κB. These authors showed that the reverse is true also, namely that inflammation can be suppressed through meditation.

This metaanalysis of 18 research papers included 846 participants.

Here are brief summary findings of these 18 studies. Note that diverse relaxation methods had very similar results on the genes expressing inflammatory markers.

1. Qigong practitioners

A group of Qigong practitioners had 132 downregulated genes and 118 upregulated genes when compared to non-meditating controls. Meditation strengthens the immune system and delays cell death.

2. Sudarshan Kriya yoga

One form of yoga breathing is called Sudarshan Kriya yoga. When this form of breathing yoga was practiced for 1 hour per day the stress-related response on white blood cells was shielded compared to controls that did not meditate this way. Those practicing yoga had a strengthened immune system. Genes inhibiting cell death were also strengthened.

3. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Eight patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia were practicing the “seven yoga breathing patterns”; the popular Indian yoga teacher, Swami Ramdev, developed these. Those patients who practiced the breathing yoga technique had 4,428 genes that were activated compared to controls. They showed an up to twofold upregulation, which strengthened their immune system.

4. Loneliness in older people

Loneliness in older people causes inflammation, morbidity and mortality. 55-85 year old volunteers were taking a course of mindfulness-based stress reduction. The researchers wanted to find out whether it was due to increased inflammation that older people were more susceptible to disease. Blood mononuclear cells were tested for genome-wide transcriptional profiling. Those older persons who had reported loneliness had more transcription factors for nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) than controls without feelings of loneliness. After an 8-week course those who no longer felt loneliness had a reversal of proinflammatory gene expression. The genes that had changed expression were located on monocytes and B-lymphocytes; these are cells of the immune system.

5. Care workers for patients with mental health problems

Care workers who looked after patients with mental health problems or chronic physical problems have been known to have stress-induced chronic inflammation markers in their blood. A study involving 23 caregivers used a practice of Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM) assisted by an audio recording every day for 8 weeks. There were questionnaires filled in for depression and mental health before and after the 8-week trial. Blood samples for transcriptional profiling were also taken before and after the KKM trial. The KKM meditation group had significantly less depressive symptoms and showed improvements in mental health. 49 genes were downregulated and 19 were upregulated compared to the controls. The pro-inflammatory NF-κB expression was decreased; the anti-viral gene expression was increased. This was measured using the IRF-1 gene. This gene controls the expression of the interferon-regulatory factor 1 (IRF-1 gene), which controls the immune response to viral infections. The interesting observation here was that a time of only 8 weeks of meditation was able to reduce inflammatory substances in the blood and could activate the immune system to fight viruses better. Further tests showed that it was the B cells and the dendritic cells that had been stimulated by the meditation.

6. Younger breast cancer patients

Younger breast cancer patients taking a mindfulness meditation course: Another study involved younger stable breast cancer patients after treatment that also had insomnia. Both breast cancer and insomnia were known to be associated with a lot of inflammatory markers in the blood. A total of 80 patients were enrolled in the study, 40 were treated with Tai-Chi exercises, the other group of 40 with cognitive-behavioral therapy. Tai-Chi exercises reduced IL-6 marginally and TNF (tumor necrosis factor) significantly. There was a 9% reduction with regard to the expression of 19 genes that were pro-inflammatory; there was also a 3.4% increase with regard to 34 genes involved in regulating the antiviral and anti-tumor activity in the Tai-Chi group when compared to the cognitive-behavioral therapy group. While cognitive therapy has its benefits, the winner was the Tai-Chi group where 68 genes were downregulated and 19 genes were upregulated. As in the prior study the pro-inflammatory NF-κB expression was decreased, which reduced the inflammatory response.

7.  Study with fatigued breast cancer patients

Another breast cancer study, this time with fatigued breast cancer patients, was observed. The patients practiced 3 months of Iyengar yoga. After 3 months of yoga there were 282 genes that were upregulated and 153 genes that were downregulated. The expression of NF-κB was significantly lowered. This suggests a lowering of inflammation. At the same time questionnaires showed that the fatigue factors had been significantly reduced 3 months after initiating yoga exercises.

8. Mindful meditation used in younger breast cancer patients

A group of 39 breast cancer patients diagnosed before the age of 50 received six weekly 2-hour sessions of mindful awareness practices (MAP). This program is tailored to cancer survivors. In addition to the group sessions the patients also did daily exercises of between 5 minutes and 20 minutes by themselves. The control group consisted of patients on a wait list. The investigators used several psychological measure (depression and stress) and physical measures (fatigue, hot flashes and pain) to assess their progress. Gene expression in the genome and inflammatory proteins were measured at baseline and after the intervention. Mindful practices showed clear benefits: they reduced stress, and sleep disturbances, hot flashes and fatigue showed improvement. Depression was also marginally reduced. There were 19 proinflammatory genes that had been turned off, but not in the control group that did not do mindful practices. Tests for changed genes revealed that transcription factor NF-κB was significantly downregulated. Conversely the anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid receptor and the interferon regulatory factors were increased. Downregulated genes were shown to come from monocytes and dendritic cells while the upregulated genes came from B lymphocytes.

9.  Telomerase gene expression

Lifestyle modification changes telomerase gene expression: 48 patients with high blood pressure were enrolled either in an extensive lifestyle program teaching them about losing weight, eating less sodium, exercising, adopting a healthy diet and drinking less alcohol; the other choice was to use transcendental meditation (TM) combined with health education with weekly sessions for 4 months. It turned out that both programs led to an increased expression of telomerase genes. Both groups did not show telomerase changes, but the authors stated that the observation time was too short for that to occur. The extensive health education program turned out to be better for patients with high blood pressure as it decreased the diastolic blood pressure more and resulted in healthier lifestyles.

10. Older patients with insomnia

Mind-body interventions for older patients with insomnia: A sample of 120 older adults with insomnia was divided into two groups. One group was treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), the other group with Tai Chi. The control group consisted of a group of people participating in a sleep seminar. 4 months after the intervention the CBT group had a significantly reduced C-reactive protein (CRP). The proinflammatory markers were reduced in both groups after 2 months and in the Tai Chi group this remained low until 16 months. Gene expression profiling showed that CBT downregulated 347 genes and upregulated 191 genes; the Tai Chi group had downregulated 202 genes and upregulated 52 genes. The downregulated genes were mostly inflammatory genes while the upregulated genes controlled mostly interferon and antibody responses.

11. Patients with bowel disease

19 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and 29 patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) were treated with a relaxation response-based mind-body intervention. This consisted of 9 weekly meetings, each lasting 1.5 hours and practices a home for 15-20 minutes. The participants were taught breathing exercises and cognitive skills designed to help manage stress. At the end of the mind-body intervention and at a follow-up visit 3 weeks later participants of both the IBS and IBD groups scored higher in quality of life and lower in the level of anxiety they had before. They had reduced symptoms of their conditions. The IBS group showed an improvement in 1059 genes. These were mostly improvements in inflammatory responses, in cell growth, regarding proliferation, and also improvements in oxidative stress-related pathways. The IBD group showed improvements in 119 genes that were related to cell cycle regulation and DNA damages. Other genetic tests showed that NF-κB was a key molecule for both IBS and IBD. The main finding was that relaxation response-based mind-body intervention was able to down regulate inflammation in both IBD and IBS.

12. Caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients receiving a course of MBSR

A course of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) was given to a group of 25 caregivers. Using 194 differently expressed genes the investigators could predict who would be a poor, moderate or good responder to the MBSR intervention. These genes related to inflammation, depression and stress response. 91 genes could identify with an accuracy of 94.7% at baseline whether the person would receive psychological benefits from the MBSR program.

13. Higher state of consciousness in two experienced Buddha meditators

Genetic test showed, similar to the other cases described here that genes involved in the immune system, cell death and the stress response were stimulated. EEG studies in both individuals during deep meditation were almost identical with an increase of theta and alpha frequency ranges.

14. Rapid gene expression in immune cells (lymphocytes) in the blood

One study used gentle yoga postures, meditation and breathing exercises. 10 participants who were recruited at a yoga camp had yoga experience between 1.5 months and 5 years. Their response resulted in 3-fold more gene changes than that of controls. Otherwise the findings were very similar to the other studies.

15. Genomic changes with the relaxation response

The relaxation response (RR) is the opposite of the stress response.  One study examined how various modes of entering into the relaxation response like yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and repetitive prayer would lead to beneficial gene effects. As in other studies inflammation was reduced and the immune system was stimulated from the relaxation response. This was verified with detailed gene studies. The authors noted that different genes were activated in people who had done long-term RR practice versus people who practiced RR only for a shorter time. There were distinctly different gene expressions.

16.  Energy metabolism and inflammation control

Relaxation responses beneficial for energy metabolism and inflammation control: Experts with experience in RR were compared with a group of novice RR practitioners. Experts and short-term practitioners expressed their genes differently at baseline. But after relaxation both experts and novices had gene changes in the area of energy metabolism, electron transport within the mitochondria, insulin secretion and cell aging. The upregulated genes are responsible for ATP synthase and insulin production. ATP synthase is responsible for energy production in the mitochondria and down regulates NF-κB pathway genes. Inflammation was reduced by these changes. All these beneficial gene changes were more prominent in expert RR practitioners. Other beneficial changes noted were telomere maintenance and nitric oxide production in both expert and novice RR practitioners.

17. Relaxation changes stress recovery and silences two inflammatory genes

Mindfulness meditation changes stress recovery and silences two inflammatory genes: Experienced meditators were tested after an intensive 8-h mindfulness meditation retreat workshop. Two inflammatory genes were silenced by mindfulness meditation compared to controls. Other genes that are involved in gene regulation were found to be downregulated as well. These experienced meditators had a faster cortisol recovery to social stress compared to controls.

18. Vacation and meditation effect on healing from disease

This last study investigated the effect of a 6-day holiday retreat. One group was offered a 4-day meditation course, one group was the control group just holidaying and the third group was an experienced meditation group who also took the retreat meditation course. Depression, stress, vitality, and mindfulness were measured with questionnaires. All groups were positively changed after the holiday and remained this way at 1 month after the retreat. 10 months after the retreat novice meditators were less depressed than the vacation control group. At the center of the experiment was the gene expression study. 390 genes had changed in all of the groups. The authors assumed that this was due to the relaxation experience of the retreat. The genes involved related to the stress response, wound healing, and injury. Other genes measured inflammation (control of tumor necrosis factor alpha). Another set of genes measured the control of protein synthesis of amyloid beta (Aβ) metabolism, which causes Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. All groups had markers that indicated less risk of dementia, depression and mortality, which was likely due to the relaxation from the retreat.

Relaxation Reduces Inflammation

Relaxation Reduces Inflammation

Conclusion

This study is a meta-analysis of 18 research papers. The authors found that very different approaches to relax the mind have fairly consistent universal effects on reducing inflammation. Most of this work was done with genetic markers. No matter what type of relaxation method you use, you will have beneficial effects from it. But the beneficial effect is not only strengthening the immune system, it also improves sleep, depression, anxiety and blood pressure. In addition it is improving your stress response, wound healing, risk of dementia and it reduces mortality. We don’t quite understand all of the details yet.

What is definitely documented is the effect of the mind-body interaction. It also points clearly to the relaxation response from meditation and similar relaxation methods. This has been proven beyond any doubt through genetic tests.