Mar
14
2015

Frail Mitochondrial DNA Equals Frail People

Introduction

New research on mitochondria has shown that “frail mitochondrial DNA equals frail people”. More specifically, researchers from the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD found that mitochondrial DNA content varies according to age (less mitochondrial DNA in older age), sex (yes, women have more than men) and mitochondrial DNA even has an inverse relationship to frailty and a direct relationship to life expectancy. The publication of this paper was in February of 2015.

Mitochondria are the powerhouses within each cell and there are between 10 and several thousand mitochondria per cell, depending on what the power needs of a cell type are.

Each mitochondrion has its own mitochondrial DNA contained in 2 to 10 small circular chromosomes that regulate the 37 genes necessary for normal mitochondrial function.

Johns Hopkins University clinical trial regarding frailty

In order to track mitochondrial DNA and its relationship to frailty and old age, the Johns Hopkins University researchers accessed data from two large clinical trials. One study was the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), which took place between 1989 and 2006. The other one was the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study spanning from 1987 to 2013. Blood tests with determinations of mitochondrial DNA were available from both studies.

In multi ethnic groups it was apparent that mitochondrial DNA content followed the age of a person.

Researchers defined frailty as a person who had aging symptoms including weakness, a lack of energy in comparison to the past, activity levels that were much lower than before and loss of weight. Persons with frailty according to these criteria in the two studies had 9% less mitochondrial DNA than non frail study participants.

Prevention of  frailty through early intervention

Another subgroup were white participants. Researchers compared their bottom mitochondrial DNA content to the top mitochondrial DNA content. Frailty was 31% more common in the bottom DNA content group. This means that white people are more prone to frailty and they should take steps early on to prevent this.

Mortality data were also examined and it turned out that those study participants who had the highest level of mitochondrial DNA lived 2.1 years longer on average than those with the lowest level of mitochondrial DNA.

The study also found that women in the two clinical trials had 21% more DNA in their mitochondria on average than men.

Prevention of DNA loss from mitochondria

The study did not suggest any preventative steps against mitochondrial DNA loss. But there is ample evidence in the literature that this can be achieved through supplements that can both help multiply mitochondria as well as stimulate the metabolism of mitochondria. Lifestyle changes are also effective.

I am not supporting the specific brands of supplements mentioned in the Dr. Whitaker link, but find the common sense explanations useful, as they explain what the supplements do.

Frail Mitochondrial DNA Equals Frail People

Frail Mitochondrial DNA Equals Frail People

You may find the scientific data too tedious to delve into. Here is a list that may be of help to you to preserve your health and your vitality:

List to help you preserve your health and vitality

  1. Ubiquinol (=CoQ-10) slows down mitochondrial aging.  I take 400 mg per day. CoQ-10 repairs DNA damage to your mitochondria.
  2. Another supplement, 20 mg of PQQ (=Pyrroloquinoline quinone) per day stimulates your healthy mitochondria to multiply. Between the two supplements you will have more energy as optimal mitochondrial function is ensured.
  3. There are simple lifestyle changes you can make: eat less calories as this will stimulate SIRT1 genes, which in turn stimulates your cell metabolism including the mitochondria.

    More supplements to help prevent frailty

  4. Resveratrol, the supplement from red grape skin can also stimulate your mitochondria metabolism. Exercise more and regularly as this will also stimulate your mitochondria to multiply similar to the effects of PQQ. I take 500mg of trans-Resveratrol once daily.
  5. Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that counters the slowdown of mitochondrial metabolism. I recommend 300mg per day.
  6. L-arginine is an amino acid that is a precursor of nitric oxide (NO). I prefer taking NO as the NEO-40 supplement where nitric oxide is directly released into your system. I take 1 lozenge of Neo-40 twice per day.

Reference

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-12/jhm-aom121614.php

Feb
14
2015

Laser Therapy Going Beyond Skin Deep

There was an interesting workshop alongside of the A4M conference mid December 2014 organized by Jonathan Schwartz who gave an overview of the use of low-dose laser therapy for various clinical applications. It involved the use of the Dr. Michael Weber low-dose laser machine, which has a lot of versatility.

  1. First there are 5 laser light frequencies in the rainbow colors (infrared, red, yellow, green, blue) and the colors have very special characteristics as will be explained further below.
  2. There are a multitude of applicators like skin acupressure point applicators, a shower for hair loss applications, a head adapter, which looks like a crown. With this device red light will penetrate into the brain through the skull bone. There is also a mouth shower and various lengths needle applicators that can be used to access the body intravenously or interstitially (direct tissue approach). At the center of the equipment is the Weberneedle Compactlaser, which can be attached to the various applicators.

Laser characteristics

The blue laser penetrates about 1 cm (0.39 inch) under the skin, a green laser penetrates only 0.5 cm (0.19 inch); like the blue laser the yellow laser penetrates through the skin with a depth of 1 cm (0.39 inch). The red laser has a penetration depth of 2-3 cm (a bit more or less than 1 inch) and the infrared laser penetrates 5-7 cm (2 to 2 1/2 inches).

In addition the various lasers have different inherent qualities: The red laser is good for tissue regeneration, which lends itself for chronic pain. Green and blue lasers have anti-inflammatory effects, which helps in acute pain. The yellow laser can be used for detoxification, has antidepressant qualities and photosensitizes hypericin, a substance derived from St. John’s wort, which is known to have antidepressant qualities. The various types of laser mentioned can be used interstitially, intravenously and just on the skin surface over acupuncture points. Dr. Weber explained that detailed research has revealed that the low-dose energy beam sends out energy that is taken up by the surrounding tissues and cells. The mitochondria of the cells get activated to produce more ATP, which the cells use to heal themselves.

Meeting in Placentia

Forward to a meeting in Placentia, CA on Feb. 7, 2015 where Dr. Michael Weber and several other speakers gave presentations on the use of the Dr. Weber laser system. A number of local doctors who had an interest in learning more about the low-dose laser system were there as well. It was a daylong mini conference.

Three volunteers were used to demonstrate the use of the system. I was volunteering about a chronic left lower back pain that various chiropractors had problems adjusting in the past year. I have a strong family history of arthritis on my mother’s side and my maternal grandmother’s side as well. The health professionals thought that I likely have developed arthritis in the left sacro-iliac joint. Dr. Weber used the interstitial needle, which is 4 cm (1.57 inches) long. The skin was injected with a local anesthetic first, and then the needle was inserted, which I could hardly feel. Now he injected 5 cc of normal saline. This was used, so that the laser light would spreads more into the surrounding area. Dr. Weber explained that he was very close to the SI joint with the tip of the needle on the left. He attached a blue laser to it for 20 minutes and switched it to a green laser for another 20 minutes.

In the meantime the other two volunteers were treated.

One was a physician in the group who had a chronic planter’s fasciitis. He was treated with an intravenous laser application. First a special butterfly was inserted, through which a sterile laser probe could be threaded and then attached. He received a red laser.

The third volunteer had a chronic right knee problem from congenital Osgood Schlatter disease. In him Dr. Weber used an approach of intraarticular injection and he attached a blue laser for 20 minutes, followed by a yellow laser for another 20 minutes. A physician with a California license supervised all of these procedures.

I woke up the following day with no pain in my left lower back, but at the same time the lesser right lower back pain had also disappeared. I figure that due to the fact that my back mobility is back the untreated right side must have normalized as well. It is now 7 days following the procedure and I still have no back pain. Yesterday I saw my local chiropractor in Southern California and he confirmed that my back was much easier to adjust than the month before (Update April 12, 2015: my lower back is still pain free!).

Normally a case like mine would require 5 to 6 weekly treatments before the problem is resolved. Dr. Weber explained that more complicated problems like fibromyalgia would take 15 to 20 treatments in succession or more. The principal is always that you treat where the symptoms are; in the follow-up visit the healthcare practitioner treats the remaining symptoms until all of the symptoms have resolved.

The intriguing fact is that low-dose laser therapy seems to fit right into gap where conventional medicine has failed.

Clinical cases that respond to laser therapy

Dr. Weber has collected clinical cases that improve with laser treatments, such as diabetes, chronic liver diseases, chronic pain syndromes, rheumatoid arthritis, polyneuropathy, chronic inflammatory disease, cancer (with photodynamic therapy), fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease, allergies and eczema. This, however, is just a partial list.

Photodynamic cancer therapy is made possible by the fact that certain substances have absorption spectra that are activated by different wavelength. This amplifies the effect of the natural substance that is used by several folds. For instance Chlorin E6 absorbs a red laser (around 660 nm). A blue laser activates Curcumin. A yellow laser activates Hypericin. Here is a website that explains the principle of phototherapy.

Various cancers can be treated where conventional medicine has so far failed. Examples are lymph metastases from breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and bladder cancer. I have blogged regarding a combination treatment for breast cancer before, where phototherapy with lasers and immunostimulation were combined. Esophageal cancer is treated through esophagoscopy combined with a laser that activates curcumin, which had been taken orally well before the procedure. Not all of the cases are successful, but the majority of them are.

Otherwise routine low-dose laser applications are used for tendinitis, tennis elbow, sprains and soft tissue injures.

Laser-Therapy-Going-Beyond-Skin-Deep

Laser-Therapy-Going-Beyond-Skin-Deep

You can combine the laser system with prolotherapy. Prolotherapy is done first by injecting hyperosmolar dextrose solution, which is a strong stimulator of stem cells. Using the same needle, but attaching the Weber low-level laser therapy will activate the stem cells and protect them from dying off.

Conclusion

Low dose laser therapy using the Weber Medical technology is a new treatment modality available to the interested physician. I think that it will cause a revolution within medicine. It is scientifically sound and it fits right into the difficult to treat patients; the patients that otherwise would be unlikely to respond. However, they will respond well to these new treatment modalities. Apart from musculoskeletal problems, various cancers will also respond to this. The Mayo clinic is starting a study on treating cancer using phototherapy and the Dr. Weber low-dose laser system.

Feb
08
2015

Preserve Your Memory

At the 22nd Annual A4M Las Vegas Conference in mid December 2014 Pamela Smith gave a presentation entitled ”How To Preserve Your Memory At Any Age”. She gave a comprehensive overview of what you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The better we understand the causes of Alzheimer’s the more we can interfere with the biochemical processes that lead to Alzheimer’s or dementia. Various parts of the brain have different functions like pattern recognition, interpreting auditory and visual stimuli and so on. In the past researchers thought that after the brain development it would be stationary until we die. But they have now shown that instead the brain continues to develop even after the teenage years. New brain cells can develop as long as we live and new synapses, the connections between brain cells can form all the time.

A lack of sleep causes insulin levels to rise, which causes a lack of memory. Alzheimer’s disease has been termed diabetes type 3 because of this close connection of memory loss and uncontrolled blood sugar levels. In fact diabetics are three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Subunits of the brain and neurotransmitters

There are several subunits of the brain like the hypothalamus, thalamus, hippocampus and the amygdalae, which are important for normal brain function and memory. The hippocampus in particular is a major memory-processing unit, which indexes, constructs and rearranges memories.

Apart from the anatomy of the brain, neurotransmitters are important for the proper functioning of the various parts. Although there are more than 100 of them the most important neurotransmitters are acetylcholine, GABA, glutamate, dopamine and serotonin. Each of these neurotransmitters binds to only one specific receptor before a neuron sends a signal to the next. There is a decline in the speed of neurotransmission with age and also a memory decline. Compared to the memory in a young person a person at the age of 75 has a decline in memory function of about 40%.

Why do people experience memory decline?

Apart from genetic predisposition the majority of people who come down with Alzheimer’s disease do so because of neglecting the body and their brain. Neglecting elevated blood pressure by not treating it properly with medication will lead to vascular dementia. As already mentioned earlier hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in the blood) from obesity, untreated type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome is another mechanism.

There is an association of lack of exercise with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, so is insomnia and a lack of sleep (less than 7 hours per night). With aging there is often poor nutrition, lack of absorption of nutrients, inflammatory bowel conditions with poor absorption of nutrients and body inflammation. A significant portion of the population is deficient for various enzymes in the methylation pathway, which can lead to high homocysteine levels and the danger of premature heart attacks and vascular dementia. Psychological health also affects memory loss, as do depression and anxiety. Toxins like heavy metals, fuels, pesticides, solvents and fluoride can over time lead to memory loss and Alzheimer’s as well.

Lifestyle habits and Alzheimer’s

There are many lifestyles that cause memory loss: too much stress (from high cortisol levels that damage the hippocampus); smoking that damages acetylcholine receptors; chronic alcohol abuse leads to memory problems from the toxic effect of alcohol on brain cells, which in turn causes a disbalance of serotonin, endorphins and acetylcholine in the hippocampus.

Lack of exercise is an independent risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise increases the blood supply of the brain, strengthens neural connections and leads to growth of neurons, the basic building blocks of the brain. Mood-regulating neurotransmitters are increased (serotonin, endorphins).

Sleep deprivation leads to memory loss, but so does the use of aspartame, the artificial sweetener of diet sodas.

Sugar consumption and too much pasta (which gets metabolized within 30 minutes into sugar) causes oxidization of LDL cholesterol and plaque formation of all the blood vessels including the ones going to the brain. On the long-term this causes memory loss due to a lack of nutrients and oxygen flowing into the brain.

Hormone changes

A lack of testosterone in men and estrogen in women interferes with cognition and memory. For this reason it is important after menopause and andropause (=the male menopause) to replace what is missing with the help of a knowledgeable health professional.

Too much DHEA from stress can decrease memory, but too little DHEA from aging can also do this. Alzheimer’s patients have DHEA levels that are 48% lower than men and women of the same age who have normal memories. Pregnenolone is a precursor of DHEA, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Dr. Smith called pregnenolone the “hormone of memory in the body”. At an age of 75 most people have a 65% lower level of pregnenolone than a persons in the mid 30’s. Pregnenolone keeps your brain balanced between excitation and inhibition, helps you to cope with stress and gives you energy.

Ask for input by hormone specialist

But before you consider supplementing with a pregnenolone hormone level, this should be ordered by a knowledgeable health professional. Dosing can be tricky as too much pregnenolone can result in too much DHEA, estrogen, progesterone or testosterone.

Progesterone is manufactured inside the brain, spinal cord and nerves from its precursor, pregnenolone, but in women it also comes from the ovaries until the point of menopause. Progesterone is needed in the production of the myelin sheaths of nerves and it has a neuroprotective function. In menopausal women bioidentical progesterone is a part of Alzheimer’s prevention.

Melatonin is a hormone, a powerful antioxidant and a neurotransmitter at the same time. It helps in the initiation of sleep, stimulates the immune system and protects from the toxic effects of cobalt, which has been found to be high in Alzheimer’s patients.

Other factors contributing to Alzheimer’s

Any inflammatory condition can trigger destruction of neurons, so do the beta-amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s. Contributory factors can be food allergies, disbalance of gut bacteria, recreational drugs (particularly ecstasy) and certain medications. Dr. Smith stated that the most common foods causing allergies that affect the brain are: sugar, wheat, dairy, eggs, shellfish, potatoes, beef, tomatoes, corn, coffee, peanuts, roasted soy beans and yeast.

Dr. Smith mentioned that these medications can affect memory: statins, sedatives, steroids, levodopa, muscle relaxants; antihypertensive drugs, antidepressants, antibiotics, anticonvulsants, anti-arrhythmic drugs, pain relieving drugs (analgesics) and antihistamines. If you are on any of these, you may want to discuss alternatives with your doctor. Dr. Perlmutter mentioned in Ref. 1 that statins interfere with brain function and can lead to Alzheimer’s.

Promoting brain health

Medication helps only to stall further memory loss for up to 6 months, so Dr. Smith said about medications only: “much research is still needed in this area”.

On the other hand she stated that many foods, vitamins and supplements in combination could improve memory and prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease. She spent considerable time in the remainder of her talk on details regarding foods, vitamins and supplements.

Dr. Smith said that we need to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants like blueberries, apples, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries; cherries, cranberries, cooked kale, garlic, grapes, prunes, raisins and raw spinach. But at the same time she stressed that we cannot trust the food industry anymore, and we need to buy organic foods. She gave an example of the “dirty dozen” as defined by the environmental working group (contaminated fruits and vegetables).

Food intake also applies to portions:eat 5 to 6 smaller meals per day. Consume red meat only three times per week.

The brain needs fats like nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts etc.

Fish also contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids and DHA. The problem with predator fish like tuna or swordfish is that they are contaminated with mercury. But wild salmon and mackerel are still OK. A good alternative is to supplement with pharmaceutical grade EPA/DHA omega-3 capsules. They are molecularly distilled, which means they are not contaminated with mercury or PBC’s and they are more concentrated; they typically contain 1000 to 1400 mg of EPA/DHA per capsule. One to two capsules twice per day (a total of 2 to 4 per day) would be a good anti-inflammatory dose.

Specific food recommendations

Use olive oil and coconut oil for cooking; avoid the omega-6 oils (safflower oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil to just mention a few). These latter oils, which are heavily advertised by the food industry, create too much arachidonic acid leading to body inflammation. Your brain is very sensitive to inflammation, which causes Alzheimer’s. For the same reason avoid deep fried foods and processed foods.

There is more you need to watch for: no food additives, no artificial food colorings, no preservatives, flavors and MSG. Be alert about the food industry’s alternative “language” or terminology for MSG: “natural flavor”, “yeast extract” etc.

Preserve Your Memory

Preserve Your Memory

Brain nutrients

Dr. Smith reviewed a long list of brain nutrients that support the brain in its metabolism and prevent the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

I will only highlight the most effective and established nutrients here.

DHA: It has been known since 1999 that Alzheimer’s patients are missing DHA in their system. Molecularly distilled fish oil with high omega-3 fatty acids (both EPA and DHA) is one of the mainstays of prevention of inflammation in the body and the brain. 2 capsules twice per day of the concentrated 1000mg to 1400 mg capsules is desirable to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Phosphatylserine (PS): This phospholipid is part of the membrane of brain cells and controls what nutrients enter into them. It also increases the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine. Dr. Smith mentioned that PS is naturally present in foods like brown rice, fish, soy and green vegetables (particularly the leafy ones). The daily dosage recommended by Dr. Smith is 300 mg (note: some people develop a bothersome, but harmless bitter taste in the mouth at this dose; in this case take a lower dose like 100 or 200 mg per day).

Other supplements like Ginkgo biloba, alpha lipoic acid and others

Ginkgo Biloba: It improves blood flow to the brain and counteracts shrinkage of the hippocampus with age. Dr. Smith recommends 60 mg to 240 mg daily.

Alpha Lipoic Acid: Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant, helps stimulating the sprouting of new nerve cells and nerve fibers. Take 100 mg of alpha lipoic acid daily for memory.

Dr. Smith recommended many other supplements, which I will not explain in detail here: B vitamins, vitamin E and C, carnosine, acetyl-L-carnitine, boron, ginger, coenzyme Q-10 (or CoQ-10), curcumin, vinpocetine, zinc, grape seed extract, blueberry extract, Ashwaganda, glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline, SAMe, huperzine A and DMAE.

Dr. Smith discussed the benefits of CoQ-10 supplementation and reminded the audience that “whatever is good for the heart, is good for the brain”. She recommended to read Dr. Perlmutter’s book from which this phrase was borrowed (Ref. 1).

Genetic factors

Dr. Smith pointed out that there are about 5 genes that have been detected that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and in addition the apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4). About 30% of people carry this gene, yet only about 10% get Alzheimer’s disease. This shows you how important lifestyle factors are. Physicians call this epigenetic factors. The can suppress the effect of the APOE4 gene. She also stated that our genes contribute only about 20% to the overall risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This leaves us with 80% of Alzheimer’s cases where we can use the brain nutrients discussed above and exercise to improve brain function.

Conclusion

Don’t wait for Big Pharma to develop a magic pill. Follow the simple steps in combination that Dr. Pamela Smith talked about in her presentation: Exercise, have organic food to keep toxins out of your body and brain, replace missing hormones with bioidentical ones and take supplements that are known to be effective (link for male menopause). In other words provide the right environment for your genes to work properly without getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Reference

1. David Perlmutter, MD: “Grain Brain. The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, And Sugar-Your Brain’s Silent Killers.” Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2013.

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Jan
30
2015

Prolotherapy And Stem Cell Therapy

This article describes prolotherapy and stem cell therapy. It is the 5th blog and the last one of a series that dealt with telomeres, lifestyle and stem cells, topics that were on the agenda of the 22nd Annual Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas (Dec.10 to 14, 2014). Here are summaries of two talks from this conference that dealt with methods of repairing damage to your joints or bones without surgery. Treatments consist of stimulating local stem cells through a treatment called “prolotherapy” where needles are used to inject concentrated dextrose. I will explain below why this method is effective.

Modification of original prolotherapy

A modification of this original prolotherapy is when the effect of it is amplified by growth factors from so-called platelet rich plasma (PRP), which is mixed with the dextrose injection. The ultimate healing jerk occurs when you mix in stem cells with the PRP into the injured tissues. In both lectures the speakers showed images before the procedures and images some time after with impressive results.

1. Dr. Fields’ talk had the title: “Repairing joints and spine without surgery: prolotherapy/PRP/stem cell therapy”

This talk concentrated on the use of prolotherapy with concentrated dextrose and prolotherapy with platelet rich plasma (PRP) with or without the addition of stem cells in the treatment of various musculoskeletal injuries.

When the doctor decides to do prolotherapy by itself, the therapeutic modality is 12.5% Dextrose. The therapist injects it into the area of injury. Dr. Fields said that the reason it works is that local stem cells in the area of injury undergo activation from the Dextrose. Since Dextrose activates stem cells, they now can do the healing. The physician can improve the results further by injecting a small amount of PRP very focally to an area of ligament rupture. Centrifuging blood from the patient’s vein separates the red blood cells from plasma, which is where the platelet rich plasma (PRP) originates from.

Stem cells and PRP

The physician discards the red blood cells, but the platelet fraction and some of the plasma becomes the PRP preparation. The PRP fraction amplifies the effects of the stem cells from bone marrow and from fatty tissue. The physician mixes all of them into the injection. Dr Fields explained that bone marrow is aspirated from the pelvic bone and in the same patient a liposuction is also done to receive adipose tissue. A cell separator is the next stage in obtaining pure stem cell preparations. This way stem cells that had their origin in bone marrow and mesenchymal stem cells that had their origin in adipose tissue are obtained.

Superior stem cell mix

The physician combines both fractions as they make a superior stem cell mix. Finally, the addition of platelet rich plasma activates the stem cell mix. This mix was used for bone fractures that were slow to heal, for ruptured tendons, ligaments, Achilles’ tendons and rotator cuff tears.

Healing without a residual scar

Dr. Fields showed before-slides and several weeks to months after-slides with MRI scans of the original injuries and the final healed tendons and ligaments. I have never seen such beautiful healing with no residual scar. Stem cells are the specialists of healing such defects. They change into whatever cell type is missing and they fill in the defects. This explains the perfect function after healing of the injury following stem cell and PRP injection. It also explains why many athletes who had this done went on to winning more medals after the repair. You do not hear about success stories that often after conventional surgery, because the range of motion and strength suffer from scarring following conventional surgical repairs.

Case histories

Several patients with knee injuries received prolotherapy. Dr. Fields recorded their video testimonials. They explained that their procedures only involved needles in the injured area, that they experienced almost complete pain relief on the day of the procedure and that they could rehabilitate right away.

Slides were also shown of specific knee ligament injuries involving the medial collateral ligament (MCL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). These are very important support ligaments within the knee.

Lower back injury with a ruptured disc

But this was not all: there were lower back injuries with ruptured discs. With conventional medicine the solution is a discectomy, but here these patients received prolotherapy. They experienced a stabilization of the weak areas, spontaneous resorption of the prolapsed disc and stabilization and strengthening of the weak spine. MRI scans of the spinal injury before treatment and several months after the treatment showed a complete normalization of the spine. In my work as a Medical Advisor for Workers’ Compensation cases that I was doing for 16 years I have never seen a single case like that.

Dr. Fields showed a similar spinal injury in the neck as well with a testimonial from that person. Again, following stem cell treatment there was minimal pain, immediate rehabilitation and a full range of motion several weeks after the injury.

What is treated with prolotherapy?

Basically all of the major joints lend themselves for treatment with prolotherapy: the shoulder, knee, back, the neck, ankle, elbow and hip. Typically, the types of injuries for prolotherapy treatment are sports injuries, fibromyalgia, sciatica, muscle tears, tendonitis, arthritis, bursitis and temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ).

Dr. Fields also stressed (and so did Dr. Purita, see below) that platelet rich plasma with its growth factors activates stem cells.

There was a presentation of two special cases, namely patellar tendinitis and Achilles tendinitis, which both respond very well to prolotherapy and PRP plus stem cell therapy. This provides complete healing of these otherwise very difficult clinical entities.

Testimony of a former Surgeon General of the US

An image was shown from the late C. Everett Koop, MD, the former Surgeon General of the Untied States who had this to say about prolotherapy: “I have been a patient who has benefited from prolotherapy. Having been so remarkably relieved of my chronic disabling pain, I began to use it on some of my patients.” This may yet be the strongest argument to at least consider prolotherapy in otherwise hopeless cases.

2. Dr. Joseph Purita gave a lecture on the “Effects of PRP And Stem Cell Injections”

As explained above PRP stands for platelet rich plasma, which is a “soup” of various growth factors and exosomes =cell-to-cell mediators). He discussed the importance of the proper harvesting of PRP. He explained that apart from white blood cells (WBC) and platelets an important component of PRP are very small embryonic like stem cells (VSELs). With a microscope you can visualize VSELs. The missing link has been the observation that white blood cells produce inflammatory substances, which have been detrimental when stem cell injections with PRP were done in the past (poor survival rate of stem cells). Research showed that photo-activation of the PRP before injection leads to anti-inflammatory behavior of the WBC in PRP.

Light activated PRP

Dr. Purita calls this “light activated PRP”, which leads to the best results with stem cell/PRP injections. Soft laser stimulation with red, green and blue soft lasers have been shown to improve tissue healing significantly when stem cells and light activated PRP are used. As already described in Dr. Field’s talk the main sources for good stem cells are the fat tissue (from the “love handles”) and the bone marrow (obtained from pelvic bone). Dr. Purita also explained that nitric oxide and electrical stimulation also help to improve stem cell survival and reduce inflammation. All of these methods revolutionized orthopedics where injured tissues can heal with the help of injecting stem cells and activation of PRP by laser treatments. Dr. Purita showed very detailed technical aspects of these procedures with various applications.

Treatment of osteoarthritis

For instance, he showed a slide regarding treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee. All this is contained in the plasma that is used to inject PRP into a joint with degenerative arthritis. You can mix this with stem cells from bone and from adipose tissue and inject it into arthritic knees. This is the ideal remedy for a person with degenerative arthritis. The stem cell/PRP mix calms down the degenerative process with instant pain relief. The stem cells are transforming into cartilage cells (chondrocytes) building up hyaline cartilage. The end result is a new knee surface;  the old and the new knee surfaces form one seamless unit.

The doctor can use PRP by itself successfully for repairing bursitis of shoulders and rotator cuff tears, muscle tears and sprains, meniscus tears of the knee, mild to moderate osteoarthritis of various joints and spine disorders, particularly facet joint problems.

Prolotherapy And Stem Cell Therapy

Prolotherapy And Stem Cell Therapy

Types of stem cells for joint injections

Dr. Purita gave a thorough overview of stem cells. He pointed out that stem cells fulfill two criteria:

  1. They are undifferentiated and they are capable of self-renewal by replication
  2. They can undergo differentiation into specific cell lineages.

From a practical point of view as already mentioned in Dr. Field’s talk there are two sources for stem cells that are important: stem cells from adipose tissue (also with the name MCS or mesenchymal stem cells) and stem cells from bone marrow, obtained usually from the pelvic bone. When the physician mixes them and stimulates them with PRP they are the miracle mix that helps to heal all these injuries.

Stem cells and other factors for healing

What does the FDA say to stem cell therapy? “The FDA states it is ok to use these cells as long as they are put back into the same patient and they are minimally manipulated.”

Dr. Purita listed a host of other factors besides platelet rich plasma. It supports stem cells, increases their survival on transplantation and stimulates them to differentiate and heal the defect. This happens at the recipient site as quickly as possible. Photoactivation of platelet rich plasma with low level lasers (soft lasers) will release exosomes. They are tiny particles, which platelets and white blood cells release. They contain proteins and genetic material required for wound healing and stimulation of stem cells.

Patient with avascular necrosis

Towards the end of the talk Dr. Purita showed an MRI scan of a knee with avascular necrosis (dead bone) before and after treatment with stem cells, PRP and low level laser therapy. There was a complete resolution of the avascular necrosis without any surgery. With a second case the initial MRI scan showed a complete tear of the MCL. MCL stands for medium collateral ligament (MCL tear) of the knee. The follow-up scan showed the same ligament intact. The physician achieved this without surgery, just by treating the patient with an injection of stem cells; PRP and using low-level laser therapy to activate PRP.

Conclusion

Prolotherapy and stem cell therapy are the hottest new treatment modalities. They can treat ruptured tendons, ligamentous injuries, and disc herniations in the neck and in the lower back. You will not get this from your primary care physician or your regular orthopedic surgeon. At the present time they tend to not have the insight. Besides, they profit from the conventional procedures. But you owe it to your health to try these alternatives first as they are much less invasive. They involve your own cells that will heal the defects with a very high probability. You still have the option to seek the advice of an orthopedic surgeon, should these alternative procedures fail. Unfortunately most insurance carriers will not pay for this service at this time.

Disclaimer

Dr. Schilling has no conflict of interest with regard to Regenexx . He also has no conflict of interest with any of the other companies of which images were shown. They simply displayed the best images with regard to the many illustrations in this blog.

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Jan
16
2015

Telomere Length A Telltale Sign Of Aging

Dr. Sandy Chang gave a talk at the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas Dec. 10-14, 2014 entitled “Telomere measurement as a diagnostic Test in cardiovascular and Age-related disease”, but a shorter title would be “telomere length a telltale sign of aging” (my choosing).

Dr. Chang pointed out that it is now well established that telomere length is directly related to health. The shorter the telomeres are the higher the probability to get the following: early menopause, infertility, diabetes, wrinkles, arthritis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, cancer, stress and a lack of stem cells. In this BMJ study from 2014 it was shown on a large population basis that shorter white blood cell telomeres lead to a higher risk of coronary heart disease causing heart attacks. Decreased telomere length is also associated with the development of breast cancer, cancer of the ovary and uterus, cancer of the prostate and skin cancer.

Because of these connections it makes sense to determine a person’s telomere length. If it is short, do check-ups more often to detect any cancer early when it can still be treated.

Telomere length measurements are now done in many infertility clinics as short telomeres both in the male and female is associated with infertility.

The newest finding and perhaps the most important is that a healthy lifestyle, vitamins and supplements can elongate telomeres while a poor lifestyle leads to shortening of telomeres.

Here are the factors that lead to shortening of telomeres:

– Chronic stress

– Poor diet and nutritional habits

– Chronic inflammatory diseases

– Metabolic disorders

– Lack of consistent exercise/sedentary lifestyle

– Obesity, high BMI and body fat

– Smoking

– Over consumption of alcohol

– Lack of sleep / insomnia

When short telomeres are detected, it is important for the physician to look at lifestyle changes to protect telomeres from decreasing their length even further. This has the potential of preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s when it comes to brain health. It can prevent osteoporosis and metabolic diseases (diabetes, metabolic syndrome). Telomerase is the buzzword today, which is an enzyme that all of our cells have. The purpose why we have telomerase in our cells seems to be helping us build up and repair telomeres. Any substance that preserves telomerase or prevents the breakdown of telomerase will prevent shortening of telomeres and will also prevent the above-mentioned diseases.

These supplements lead to lengthening of telomeres:

-Vitamin C and E

-Omega-3 and polyphenols

-Vitamin A and D3

-All of these help controlling oxidative stress, reduce DNA damage, reduce inflammation and build up telomere length.

-A good diet and nutrition (Mediterranean type diet) will prevent telomere shortening as well and also lead to telomere lengthening.

-T-65, an extract from astragalus has been shown in vitro to lengthen telomeres, but there is no publication yet about in vivo effects in humans.

-Resveratrol is useful to prevent shortening of telomeres as well.

-Exercise also is a simple means to prevent telomere shortening.

Telomere Length A Telltale Sign Of Aging

Telomere Length A Telltale Sign Of Aging

Another talk on telomeres was given by Dr. Harvey Bartnof with the title “Telomere Shortening and Modulation: Case Studies From The Clinic”.

This talk was a comprehensive review of what is known about telomeres, about the fact that many diseases are due to telomere shortening, about animal experiments, ways of how to lengthen telomeres and finally some data on human studies with regard to telomere lengthening.

In the following I will briefly review all of these areas that were discussed. Some of this material overlaps with Dr. Chang’s lecture.

What produces telomere shortening? Dr. Bartnof showed 4 slides that listed all of the conditions and diseases that are associated with telomere shortening. Telomere shortening is associated with twice the risk to die from a heart attack when compared to people with normal telomeres.

a) Known genetic conditions in humans associated with telomere shortening

There are three known genetic conditions due to telomere shortening: A premature aging syndrome, called dyskeratosis congenitalis; patients with this condition die prematurely from cancer, or from bone marrow failure.

People with Werner syndrome who have a genetic telomere loss have a mean life expectancy of only 54 years.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is another genetic condition with shortened telomeres due to mutations.

b) Telomere shortening associated with these health conditions

Professor Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD who is one of the three researchers who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their work on telomeres in 2009 stated the following: “Telomere shortness is associated with just about all the major diseases of aging… from cardiovascular disease, death from cardiovascular disease, risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, diabetes risks such as insulin resistance, vascular dementia, to osteoarthritis.”

An enormous amount of clinical investigations have been done since in cohort groups like people with diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and cancer.

There is natural shortening of telomeres due to the aging process. When we compare telomere length of body cells of a 20-year old and call this 100%, the telomeres of a 100-year old person are on average only 40%. A study from the Karolinska Institute found in a group of matching twins where one twin had shortened telomeres, this twin had a 2.8 times greater risk of death than the twin with normal telomere length.

However, as already mentioned a number of other factors can lead to shorter telomeres like chronic stress in workers who look after Alzheimer patients, being of the Caucasian race (compared to African-American), having had less education, chronic unemployment, depression, pessimism, single people versus married people, phobic anxiety in women and hostility in men, poor sleep and too little sleep, migraine headaches in women, low physical activity, smoking cigarettes and alcohol consumption. The list does not stop here. Other conditions are associated with telomere shortening like heroin abuse, exposure to smog, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and lead, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cirrhosis of the liver, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, chronic kidney disease and disability in the elderly.

c) Effects of medications on telomere length

Antidepressants used against depression have a telomere lengthening effect, but NSAID’s, aspirin and interferon-alpha shorten telomeres. Other telomere shortening effects come from cancer chemotherapy.

d) Telomerase activation elongates telomeres

Successful experiments in various mouse strains showed that special strains that were telomerase deficient, could be reconstituted to normal by reinserting telomerase: atrophied organs regrew back to normal size and function. In humans it was shown that increased physical activity elongated telomeres, so did vitamin C, E and vitamin D3 supplementation, resveratrol, a Mediterranean diet, marine omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, higher fiber intake, bioidentical estrogen in women and testosterone in men, relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation. The Astragalus-derived telomerase activator TA-65 has been shown in animal experiments to elongate telomeres. The human data about TA-65 is still spotty or not available (it is also very expensive and may be unnecessary given the fact that so many other agents are known to lengthen telomeres).

e) Human data on telomere lengthening

Much can be achieved by changing one’s lifestyle: cut out toxins like cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse. Get involved in a regular exercise program, which has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol and to elongate telomeres. Adopt a Mediterranean type diet including olive oil; take vitamin E, D, C and supplements with resveratrol and murine omega-3 fatty acids, all of which elongate telomeres. Get enough sleep (7 to 8 hours per night) and do yoga and meditation. Avoid distress and tone down your stress level to eustress (normal stress level associated with every day living). An older person should use bioidentical hormones to replace missing hormones. All of this taken together will create a milieu in your body where telomeres get elongated and you live longer without disease. Several clinical conditions were mentioned where baseline telomere length was assessed initially and was found to be too short; simple lifestyle changes were then initiated, which were able to improve telomere length and treat these diseases successfully. In addition TA-65 (also termed T-65) was given in some of these cases, but in a subsequent discussion Dr. Bartnof admitted that he could not comment on how effective TA-65 by itself was as it was only one component of many other effective telomerase stimulators given. Till further research is out on this substance, it may be just very costly without spectacular benefits on its own.

Conclusion

I gave a summary of the talks by Dr. Chang and Dr. Bartnof regarding telomeres, but these were not the only talks about telomeres, although quite representative for the others. Both speakers pointed out how powerful lifestyle is for our body functions as this is what lengthens our telomeres and allows us to live longer, disease-free lives. Stem cells also have telomeres, but they are on average longer than the rest of the body cells (called somatic dells). An improved lifestyle will keep our stem cells in good shape, so they are there when needed to replace aging somatic cells.

The new logic of a healthy lifestyle is:

A healthy lifestyle causes healthy telomeres of somatic cells and of stem cells; this causes health until a ripe old age. In the next few weeks I will blog about more topics from the 22nd Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas. Stay tuned.

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Sep
24
2014

Two Approaches To Heart Disease

Over the years I noticed that there are two approaches to heart disease that people and physicians seems to subscribe to.

1.The conventional approach to heart disease

The patient essentially ignores health advice, may smoke cigarettes and eat in a lot of fast food restaurants. People who do not care about their heart drink sodas, eat lots of sugar, starch and processed foods. They may think that they are invincible. Famous politicians have subscribed to this type of approach including former vice president, Dick Cheney.

But the big surprise comes when acute chest pain hits and an ambulance has to be called. We are lucky in the industrial countries where a 911 service is available. You call that number when in distress and an ambulance with all the modern equipment will rush to you. The problem though is that you have neglected your arteries for all those years and it is likely that one or two of the three coronary heart vessels are severely narrowed so much that your heart reported chest pain. This pain signals that one area of the heart muscle was not getting enough oxygen and nutrients.

On arrival at the hospital the emergency physician sees you. Nurses put monitors up, attach electrodes to you, and IV-lines are put into your veins, just in case things get worse and they would need to give you quick life-saving medicine intravenously. They have also given you an oxygen mask, and after 30 minutes or so you feel much better. A cardiologist has been called in by the emergency physician and will assess you.

This will very likely be the verdict: “We have to do a coronary arteriogram where I advance a thin catheter through your femoral artery backwards to where the coronary arteries originate from. We can then study each coronary artery separately and determine whether an angioplasty needs to be done.” Upon your questioning he explains that an angioplasty is a procedure where a catheter is advanced through a new clot that often forms during a heart attack and a stent is left behind that will keep the previously blocked off coronary artery open.

Within an hour the procedure will be completed. The cardiologist will explain that he found significant narrowing, such a san 85% narrowing in the anterior descending coronary artery and a second lesion in the right coronary artery with maybe 55% narrowing. He has stented both of these arteries successfully. But he warns you that the stents may close off, if you are unable (or rather unwilling) to change your lifestyle. He also will be very specific with what he meant: Quit smoking immediately, get into a regular exercise program and adopt a strict heart healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet. They would keep you overnight just to observe your heart rhythm and blood pressure. In the morning, if everything is OK he will likely discharge you.

Comment: Unfortunately this scenario is all too familiar to me having worked as a family physician doing my rotations as an emergency physician in a community hospital for 16 years. I found that people tended to NOT think preventatively unless they were forced to. When an acute event like a heart attack happens, a higher percentage of people is committed to prevention, but medical people call this “secondary prevention” as this prevention was only started after a close call. Our sample patient above could have developed a serious arrhythmia (irregular heart beats after a heart attack) and suddenly slipped into a coma and died before the interventional cardiologist could have placed the stents.

Primary prevention is much more powerful and this is what I like to cover next.

Two Approaches To Heart Disease

Two Approaches To Heart Disease (Placement Of Stent Shown)

2. The preventative approach to heart disease

Most people never have to be rushed to the hospital with chest pain. They engage in various ways of “primary prevention”.  So, what exactly is this?

They keep very active, like walking or jogging, dancing, working out in a gym, biking or swimming etc.

They also like a healthier than normal lifestyle: eat at home as much as possible, and many adopt to buy only organic food. Why, you may ask? Organic food does not contain insecticide residues that resemble estrogenic substances (so-called “xenoestrogens” which accelerate hardening of the arteries). But organic food also does not contain GMO (genetically modified food). We know enough about GMO now to indicate to us that autoimmune diseases with inflammation of the arteries and the gut can occur. But the full impact on people’s health will not be known for several more decades. So why experiment with yourself? Buy organic instead. It is known to be safe.

Vitamins and minerals can be very useful supplements that also prevent premature aging of our blood vessels.

Anti-aging research has shown that with aging come various hormone defects. Melatonin is one of the first to go (in your twenties). But melatonin tables that are widely available in drug stores and health food stores can come to your rescue:  3mg of melatonin at bedtime will give you a good night sleep and provide powerful anti-oxidant effects. DHEA is an adrenal gland hormone that can be measured in your blood (or in saliva). In case it is low, it can be easily replaced with supplements. In the 50’s or 60’s women and to a lesser degree men will start to show thyroid under-functions. We call this hypothyroidism. Have your TSH and T4 levels checked and talk to you doctor about whether you need thyroid replacement, if the values are off.

It is somewhat more difficult to explain the rest of the hormones. But you know that women get into menopause and men about 10 to 15 years later will hit andropause, which is the male equivalent of menopause in women.  An easy way to check this out is by doing a hormone panel from just one tube of spit. Yes, it is a saliva hormone panel I am talking about. For women it is estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, DHEA and testosterone that should be analyzed. For men it is testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, estrogen and progesterone. I am aware that these are the same 5 hormones, but I listed them in the order of importance for women and men. In this blog you find more details about bio-identical hormone replacement.

I have followed a primary heart attack prevention program since 2001 and it seems to suit me well.  Just to check things out I had a carotid intima test, which showed no hardening of the arteries. Just two weeks ago my optician took images of the retinal vessels and found hardly any hardening of my retinal arteries. I scored high on a Bruce treadmill protocol in March of 2013 and my lipid VAT values were excellent indicating a low risk for a heart attack.

I have delved into this subject in more detail in my book entitled “A Survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging” (Ref. 1).

Conclusion

Prevention of a disease is always better than curing a disease, this applies to heart attacks as well. While you do something good for your heart, you are at the same time preventing strokes and many degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease. In addition you also prevent cancer. It really is a good deal!

More information on prevention of heart disease: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/heart-attack-myocardial-infarction-or-mi/prevention-heart-attack/

Reference:

1. Dr. R. Schilling: “A Survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging“. Paperback through Amazon.com, 2014.

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014

Jun
21
2014

Older Grumpy People Have Higher Risk Of Dementia

Although in this recent study from Finland researchers found that grumpiness in older age seems to lead to dementia at a faster rate, I like to emphasize here that there may be an under lying problem of hormone deficiency.

Other studies have shown that in males low testosterone levels are associated with grumpiness and dementia is setting in sooner in those males who are deficient for testosterone. For older grumpy females it is the lack of progesterone that has been found to be deficient and when you replace it, memory comes back, symptoms of menopause reverse themselves and the grumpiness is gone. Testosterone replacement may be required by as many as 1 in 4 men in the their 40’s as is summarized in the article from Great Britain.

How can we tell whether there is a change in an older man? There are quite a few symptoms that can be seen by loved ones around this man: an increase in abdominal girth, shrinking muscles, lack of energy, irritability. The key is to get him to the doctor and ask the doctor to order a bioavailable testosterone blood test.

According to medical research 84% of men and 62% of women in the age group of 57 to 64 have been sexually active in the previous 12 months. Take an older age group of 65 to 74 and still 67% of men and 40% of women are sexually active. Fast-forward to age 75 to 85 and the rate has dropped to 39% of men and 17% of women (Ref.1). A person’s sexual activity is a barometer how well the hormones are balanced. These figures show that bioidentical hormone replacement has not been well accepted. Women have a reason as they were misled by Big Pharma as was shown in the

Older Grumpy People Have Higher Risk Of Dementia

Older Grumpy People Have Higher Risk Of Dementia

Women’s Health Initiative:

The National Institutes of Health had funded a large study (the Women’s Health Initiative) to clarify what was going on with regard to side effects and effects of HRT.

Unfortunately, synthetic non-bioidentical hormone products were used in these studies (Premarin and Provera) instead of bioidentical estrogen and progesterone. The results of the Women’s Health Initiative were devastating. In 2002 doctors were warned that Premarin and Provera used as HRT would cause increased heart attack rates and breasts cancer, which led to premature death. Overall the placebo group did better than the experimental group and this is why the trial was prematurely stopped.  As a result of the wide publicity regarding the negative results of the Women’s Health Initiative postmenopausal women either do not see their physician for hormone replacement or are advised by conventional doctors that only small amounts of Premarin could be used for not more than 5 years for fear of causing breast cancer. Medico-legal considerations are at play and the whole issue of HRT after menopause has been politicized.

Problems now for HRT:

It is like a negative shadow has been cast forward with regard to hormone replacement because of the Women’s Health Initiative. People are still confused and don’t understand that the synthetic hormone-like drugs from Big Pharma are like an ill-fitting key for the hormone receptors in the body whereas bioidentical hormones are the perfect fit.

Otherwise there would not be a 45% drop-off (from 62% to 17%) in sexual activities in women from age 60 to 80. Men have it somewhat easier: their drop rate between age 60 an 80 is also 45% (from 84% to 39%), but as they entered into male menopause 10 to 15 years later than women did with menopause, their sexual activity is still double that of women at the age of 80.

However, if people could overcome their unrealistic fear of bioidentical hormones, hormones that fit the body’s hormone receptors a lot more people would be encouraged to use bioidentical hormone replacements.

What, if the grumpy, old man is willing to see his doctor?

The doctor should look at all of the hormones including a fasting insulin level as hyperinsulinism often complicates hormone replacement. Thyroid, which often is also lowered at an older age should be also tested (T3, T4 and TSH). A saliva hormone test can show a panel of 5 hormones: cortisol, DHEAS, testosterone, progesterone and estradiol. As hormones are in a balance with each other this allows to compute the testosterone to estrogen ratio, which ought to be 20 or higher. But hormones alone are not the answer. There needs to be a combination of proper nutrition (cut out sugar, starchy foods, preferably switch to organic foods to escape the xenoestrogens that foul up your hormone balance), also exercise and use vitamins and supplements. I have summarized all of this in my recent book “A survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging” (Ref.2).

When the hormone tests come back the doctor will likely order the missing hormones (hopefully as bioidentical hormones).

It can take 2 to 3 months before the full effect of bioidentical hormone replacement is seen. But most men will be astounded how well they can feel. He will notice that he does not tire with exercising. His muscle mass builds up; his posture improves. His stamina comes back. He will find that the previously foggy thinking is gone and his thought processes have become clear again. And yes, his sex live comes back. So now he has to talk to his sex partner about her bioidentical hormone replacement so they both can enjoy the benefits!

Hidden benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement:

The bones become stronger, the heart beats harder and better, the brain thinks clearer, because the key organs like the brain, the heart and the bones have the appropriate hormone receptors (in both sexes).  No, this is no exaggeration. This can be measured by an exercise tolerance test (for the heart). Bone density can be measured and has been done (2% to 4% increase per year). Brain function is indirectly visible to the people around the person: apart from new vitality, improvements in mood and more energy, the grumpiness is gone and the person is perceived as a pleasant person once again.

Conclusion:

The observation of an “old, grumpy man” when he entered the male menopause is accurate, but should not distract from the fact that he has a responsibility to look after himself. It is important to recognize that it is not only women who enter the menopause, but that men 10 to 15 years later will do the same. Both sexes enter a state of hormone disbalance that is treatable. The answer is to replace the hormone deficiency with the missing bioidentical hormones.

More information on male menopause (=andropause): http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/hypogonadism/secondary-hypogonadism/male-menopause/

References:

1.Rakel: Textbook of Family Medicine, 8th ed., copyright 2011 Saunders

2.Dr.Ray Schilling: “A Survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging“, Amazon.com, 2014

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014

Apr
19
2014

Measuring Your Heart Function

Recently I came across a book by Dr. Steven Masley, cardiologist (fellow of the American Heart Association, see Ref.1). The heart’s function is to pump your blood reliably all your life. It is a complicated organ, but it works well, if we treat it well. Western medicine has taught us that with complicated machinery and tests we can assess how the heart is doing. But until recently there was no reliable easier way to assess our cardiac health function. The purpose of this blog is to summarize a three-pronged approach to measure your heart and blood vessel health. It is described in detail in Ref.1, but I doubt that many people have yet read this important reference book. It is also important to FIRST see your doctor whether you are able to do the Bruce protocol (treadmill test, the third component below). If you neglect to be cleared by your doctor you run the risk of possibly getting angina pains or getting a heart attack.

1. Carotid IMT or carotid intimal-medial thickness test: You measure the degree to which there is hardening of the coronary arteries indirectly by measuring the thickness of the lining of the carotid arteries (carotid IMT or carotid intimal-medial thickness test). Dr. Masley has showed over a period of 10 years and more in many patients at his Health Center that there is a close correlation between the degree of coronary artery hardening and the degree of hardening of the carotid arteries. He stated that his research has shown that “90% of the time, the carotid arteries, the coronary arteries, and even the arteries of your legs all grow plaque at the same time”. The gold standard for checking the condition of your coronary arteries is a heart catheterization as Dr. Masley explains (page 58). But he adds: “IMT testing should be the new gold standard for cardiovascular plaque testing. However, this is not yet the case. Despite its usefulness, 95% of doctors are not ordering this screening test for their patients. You can rest assured that this is a situation I am to change“.

Measuring Your Heart Function

Measuring Your Heart Function

2. A detailed lipid analysis called the VAP test: A detailed laboratory test analyzing your lipid fractions (LDL, HDL, total cholesterol and VAP test). The buoyant HDL fraction, called HDL2 is the key to having a low risk for hardening of the arteries. HDL2 is large, fluffy and is designed to remove garbage from within the lining of the arteries. Also, the cholesterol ratio is another measurement for a low risk for hardening of the arteries when it is less than 3.0. The first two tests assess how much hardening of the arteries there is present and when they are normal, there is a relative reassurance that nothing drastic (like a heart attack or stroke) should happen within the next 10 years provided you keep up a regular exercise program and healthy food intake.

3. Bruce protocol (Treadmill test): The Bruce protocol (treadmill test) is often done by a cardiologists, but can also be done through many gyms, where a trainer with experience in exercise physiology will do it. This functional test measuring cardiac output has been developed many decades back and has withstood the test of time. Here is an overview what this is. As the slope of a treadmill and the speed of the belt are increased, the heart needs to do more work to maintain blood flow to your extremities and vital organs. The trainer or exercise physiologist measures the response of the heart activity in relation to the increase of the exercise load. A complicated formula allows calculating how much your maximal cardiac output is. This test has several variations and can be complicated to understand. Essentially, the higher the numbers you can create, the better. Here is a table with various results of the VaO2max from Bruce protocols and how they are interpreted.

4. Treating abnormalities found with the three basic tests: These are the necessary tools that tell you where you are in regard to your heart function. People with heart failure should not do this third test, because their heart muscle is too weak to sustain this and they would get heart failure meaning that blood gets backed up into the lungs and there could be severe breathing problems leading to a lack of oxygen (anoxia) in the heart tissue, which in turn can cause irregular heart beats (fibrillation of the heart muscle) and a heart attack. Assume that the first two tests were within the normal limit for your age, then the Bruce protocol would give you the maximum heart output at the peak level of your treadmill test. At this point you are measuring directly the cardiac output (in other words what your heart is capable of pumping for you in a certain time unit). This measurement is what physicians call the VaO2 max  or maximal oxygen consumption. This is the best index for maximal heart capacity. If your levels are higher than normal, you have extra reserves with respect to your heart as a pump for times when you need it. If this latter tolerance test shows poor results, it usually means that you were inactive and you would benefit from an exercise program. If the first test shows hardening of the arteries more than is appropriate for your age, you would need to look at your eating habits. At the same time often the VAT values and the cholesterol ratio is off meaning that you are eating the wrong foods and it shows in your blood test results.

5. Advise regarding diet, exercise and relaxation: Dr. Masley’s book has several sections that explain what needs to be done when things are not normal. For instance, the author does not mince words when it comes to eating the right fats and cutting out sugar and starchy foods. For instance on page 199 there is a neat table that lists the fiber content of different foods. We need more fiber to slow down the absorption of sugary substances, which will minimize the insulin response following a meal. Dr. Masley also mentions that omega-3-fatty acids from fish and good seafood choices will balance the omega-6-fatty acids that would lead towards the arachidonic acid pathway, which causes arthritis, inflammation and cancer. There are many more dietary recommendations, too numerous to repeat them all here. Suffice it to say that molecularly distilled omega-3 fish oil, vitamin D 1,500 to 3000 Units daily, and magnesium supplements are all good for you heart. Vitamin K2 gets calcium out of your blood vessels and into the bone (100 micrograms per day). Other worthwhile supplements mentioned in the book are CoQ-10 (50 to 200 mg twice per day), but it would be wise to have blood levels drawn, which should be above 2.5mcg/ml to which the CoQ-10 intake could be titrated. Curcumin and Resveratrol are also recommended. Most of all, it seems that regular physical exercise such as a balanced gym program is the single most effective way to reverse hardening of the arteries as measured by the carotid IMT testing.

Conclusion: Times have changed. It used to be thought that our lives were following a one-way street downwards. During periods of malnutrition, lack of exercise, being sessile and abusing alcohol and drugs this may well be the case. However, we now know that this is reversible. Change to healthier food, start smoothies with organic vegetables in a mixer, get going and walk. Jog or use a gym to get regular exercise. Physical exercise reverses the fat deposits inside the lining of the arteries. The HDL-2 fraction rises and helps counteract the elevated LDL cholesterol. Even the mood of the person who exercises regularly becomes more stabilized. Using these simpler three tests the physicians will not need the more complicated Thallium heart scans, heart catheterization etc. These three tests described above are well worth being done every two years, so that you can monitor what’s going on with your heart and blood vessels in general. What questions do you have? You could ask them below.

More information on heart disease: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/

References: 1. Dr. Steven Masley, MD: “The 30-day Heart Tune-Up – A Breakthrough Medical Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”, Center Street, A Division of Hachette Book Group Inc. New York, Boston, Nashville, USA © 2014.

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014

Feb
19
2014

Every Patient Is Unique

Modern Western Medicine tends to see the disease of a patient as a unique entity. Conventional medicine behaves as if a disease is associated with characteristic symptoms, findings and lab test results, which are then treated in a standard fashion by treating the symptoms of the disease.

The reality though is different: The same disease can present in various patients with different symptoms.

Naturopathic physicians, integrative physicians and anti-aging physicians see patients as unique individuals with characteristic personality traits and slightly varied presentations, which may be shared in a disease entity, but differ substantially from person to person.

It is important to be aware of this uniqueness, if the caregiver wants to achieve the optimal treatment result.

Big Pharma does not like this approach as they would like you to think that the conventional medicine system is superior. A certain disease is treated a certain way, preferably with the most expensive drugs.

I thought that in this blog it would be good to shed some light on this important topic.

Menopausal women with symptoms

Let us consider an example of a 55-year old woman who has hot flashes, dry skin, a loss of hair from the outer aspect of her eyebrows, does not sleep well and has lost her sex drive. She also has put on 20 pounds in the last year despite no change in her diet.

This is how conventional medicine would handle this patient

The doctor examines the woman and does a Pap test as well. A conventional doctor would likely order standard blood tests consisting of a complete blood count, thyroid tests (T4, TSH) and FSH and LH levels. The conventional physician would find that the thyroid hormones are low with a high TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and would treat the woman with Synthroid (a synthetic thyroid hormone drug). The LH and FSH were found to be high indicating to the conventional physician that the woman is in menopause. He would offer the standard PREMPRO (a synthetic hormone preparation containing a mare estrogen combination with a progestin) with the warning that he will give her the lowest estrogen combination and only up to 5 years because of the negative findings of the Women’s Health Initiative.

Every Patient Is Unique

Every Patient Is Unique

Here is an example how a naturopathic or anti-aging physician’s would investigate and treat the patient

A naturopathic physician or an anti-aging physician would likely add a female saliva hormone panel to the other blood tests mentioned above and also do a T3 hormone level as part of the thyroid blood tests. The doctor will explain to the patient that she was found to be menopausal and also hypothyroid. With respect to the hypothyroidism the physician will explain that apart from thyroxin (T4) there is a second hormone, triiodothyronine (T3) that is also necessary in order to replace all of the thyroid hormones that humans have. Drug companies assume that T4 (Synthroid) will reverse automatically into whatever amount of T3 the body needs, so they have convinced most conventional doctors to prescribe T4 drugs only (like Synthroid). The problem is that as the body ages, the enzymes necessary to convert T4 into T3 do not work as well as in a younger age.This can be verified by testing T3 and T4 levels simultaneously.

The end result is that the patient who only gets T4 replaced may still have some of the symptoms like lack of energy and depression even when T4 has been replaced. Not so with the patient treated by the naturopath or the anti-aging physician who put our patient on Armour (porcine-derived thyroid hormone replacement containing both T4 and T3).

With regard to the blood tests and the saliva hormone tests the second patient was told that the blood tests confirmed menopause (high LH and FSH) and that the saliva female hormone panel showed what was going on. In this particular patient the female saliva hormone tests showed that the progesterone level was low, the testosterone level was low and estrogen was normal. Another hormone, DHEA-S (which is DHEA sulfate, the storage form of DHEA) was also on the low side. Cortisol that had also been tested was normal. The physician explained that the woman’s adrenal glands showed a slight weakness not producing enough DHEA, which is a precursor to testosterone. The low testosterone level was responsible for her lack of sex drive. Progesterone, which needs to be high enough to counterbalance estrogen, was missing, which was likely the cause of her hot flashes and the lack of energy together with the missing thyroid hormones. The physician explained that the woman needed a small amount of DHEA tablets by mouth, a full replacement of progesterone (through the use of a bioidentical hormone cream) and also a small amount of bioidentical testosterone cream to normalize her hormones.

A reassessment of the patients 2 months later showed that the first woman still had some depression and lack of energy, while the second woman felt her normal self again. Both women had regrown their eyebrows from replacing the missing thyroid hormones and have lost several pounds since the beginning of their treatments, but obviously there were quite different clinical results. The first woman was treated in a “standard conventional medicine” fashion, which will lead to breast cancer as unnecessary estrogen was given. She also will be at risk of getting cardiovascular disease as she was replaced with Progestin, a synthetic drug thought by conventional physicians to represent “progesterone”. The Women’s Health Initiative has proven that this was the outcome with PREMPRO and yet this drug is still on the market!

The second woman received an individualized and personalized holistic treatment protocol. The low progesterone from missing her ovulations after menopause was being replaced and her body very quickly responded favorably by making her feel normal again. The missing adrenal gland hormones and testosterone were replaced and this normalized her sex drive. Both, progesterone and thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) are anabolic hormones and they gave her back her energy and restored her sleep pattern. With normal hormone levels she also lost her depression symptoms.

Two men with depression

If you thought that the difference of these two clinical approaches were just coincidental, think again. The next examples are two men in their early 50’s who see their physicians because they felt depressed and had a lack of energy. Both were normal weight.

Here is the conventional medicine approach

The physician took a history, during which a lack of sex drive was also noted. He examined the patient and came to the conclusion that physically nothing was wrong with the man, but a diagnosis of depression was made. This would account for the tearfulness, sleep problems and loss of sex drive. The doctor prescribed one of the standard antidepressants (in this case sertraline, brand name Zoloft). Three weeks later the patient returned and as he was better, a repeat prescription for the antidepressant was given. After a further two months the patient was reassessed. When the symptoms were reviewed, it became apparent that a lack of sex drive was still present, if anything the patient felt the antidepressant had made this worse. Some of the depressive symptoms have improved on the conventional antidepressant. The doctor discussed that the antidepressant could be increased by one tablet per day. The doctor also discussed the option of using Viagra for the decreased sex drive and difficulty having an orgasm.

This would be the  naturopathic or anti-aging physician’s approach. Again similar to before a history was taken and a physical examination was done. The physician noted that the patient was in the age where a lack of sex drive could indicate an early andropause (the male equivalent of menopause, often difficult to spot with the first presentation). A depression questionnaire indicated that the man was moderately depressed. The patient was sent for blood tests and for saliva hormone tests (a male hormone panel). The physician stated that he would like to arrange for cognitive therapy treatment to sort out the various factors of his depression, but also help his mood by trying to start him on St. John’s wort, an herb that has been proven to be effective for mild to moderate depression. The blood work came back as normal. However, the hormone tests showed that testosterone was in the lower third of the normal range. DHEA-S, cortisol and estrogen were normal. So a few weeks later when the tests had come back the patient was called in.  The doctor explained to him that the low testosterone level would explain why his sex drive had deteriorated along with his symptoms of depression. Bioidentical testosterone cream was added to the antidepressant herbal treatment. The result was that within one month this patient’s sex drive was back to normal. Together with the cognitive therapy treatments and the herbal antidepressant the depression was also resolved. After a further three months of counseling he was able to stop the St. John’s wort. Due to the counseling sessions he felt stronger than ever before and his mood remained stable even when the counseling sessions were terminated. He continued to use the bioidentical testosterone cream regularly.

These are examples of two different approaches in two identical men in their early 50’s. It appears to me that the conventional approach did a disservice to the sick person, only treated symptoms, but did nothing to solve this patient’s real problems. The second case’s depression was treated properly and the physician luckily also did not miss the underlying early andropause with low testosterone levels. Repeat testosterone levels showed a high normal testosterone level, which was now in the upper 1/3 of the normal range.

The conventional approach missed the early testosterone deficiency, which  would cause heart disease, should the testosterone levels become even lower. Viagra certainly would not be the answer as this has a number of potentially serious side effects. The antidepressants at even higher doses would cause more erectile dysfunction, which was what he hoped to have treated.

Conclusion

People often have several conditions at the same time. It takes intuition, readiness to do testing, repeat close observation and repeat examination on the part of the physician. This needs to be coupled with good listening skills to sort out a patient. On behalf of the patient it is important to tell the physician all of your symptoms and observations. Be patient and never give up. A good patient/physician relationship will go a long way in sorting out complex medical problems. Every patient is unique. Not every symptom means the same thing in two different patients.

More information on:

1. Menopause: http://nethealthbook.com/hormones/hypogonadism/secondary-hypogonadism/menopause/

2. Depression: http://nethealthbook.com/mental-illness-mental-disorders/mood-disorders/depression/

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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Feb
15
2014

Melatonin More Than A Sleeping Aid

Melatonin has been available to the public in the US since 1992. It is usually used as a sleeping aid or for jet lag related sleeping problems. However, in the last decade much more data about melatonin has come out that has proven that melatonin is a major hormone. The pineal gland contains another brain hormone, serotonin, which is converted into melatonin within that gland. Melatonin is a key hormone that regulates the sleep/wake cycle. It works in concert with cortisol, which has the highest level in the morning while melatonin has its highest level in the evening and during the night. Melatonin also regulates the menstrual cycle and determines when women get into menopause.

Lately new information has come to the forefront showing that there are connections to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke size and recovery from strokes. Even traumatic brain injury can be minimized when enough melatonin is present. In addition melatonin is an important anti-oxidant.

Finally, there is evidence that melatonin helps to determine how well we age.

In the following I like to review some of the evidence for all of these claims.

1. Melatonin as a hormone

Melatonin levels were found to be very low in breast cancer and prostate cancer patients. It has been determined that the immune cells have melatonin hormone receptors and need melatonin for stimulation. Because of the immune stimulatory effect of melatonin, it is often given as a cancer adjuvant treatment to other cancer treating modalities. Ref. 1 describes that melatonin regulates the female hormones (LH, FSH), which then determine when a woman has her menstrual period and also when she eventually enters menopause. The pineal gland is the master gland for the diurnal hormone rhythms.

Melatonin More Than A Sleeping Aid

Melatonin More Than A Sleeping Aid

2. Melatonin levels decline with age

Melatonin levels in both men and women decline as we age. This figure shows that the highest melatonin levels are reached by the age of 10; by the age of 40 only 15% of the youthful levels remain while by the age of 55 only 5% or less of the original youthful levels are left. This explains why older people are more prone to infections (missing immune stimulation) and why the sleep pattern in older people is changed (shorter periods of sleep, less restful sleep). Ref. 1 points out that with insulin resistance (from diabetes or due to excessive sugar and starch consumption) cortisol levels are chronically elevated, which in turn inhibits melatonin production.

3. Melatonin protects from neurodegenerative diseases

A newer application of melatonin is as a preventative in the neurological field, particularly in the area of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and the prevention of strokes. With respect to Alzheimer’s disease studies have shown that patients with Alzheimer’s have much lower melatonin blood levels when compared to age matched normal controls. In ischemic stroke patients it was found that stroke patients had much lower melatonin levels when compared to normal age-matched controls. Other studies have shown that pineal gland calcification was associated with low melatonin levels and a high risk for ischemic stroke. This risk was even higher when the patients had high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol/triglycerides. When a stroke has occurred, it is important that the free radicals are removed as quickly as possible, which is where the antioxidant properties of melatonin fit into a rehabilitative program. The presence of melatonin enhances brain plasticity. However instead of using melatonin after a stroke, it is much better to use melatonin regularly before a possible stroke, as this gives a better chance reducing the size of the stroke. This in turn will lead to a faster and more complete recovery after a stroke.

Another important disease of the elderly is Parkinson’s disease. Melatonin helps to prevent oxidative damage to the dopamine producing cells in the basal ganglia thus preventing Parkinson’s disease. As with Alzheimer’s disease, there is a correlation of low melatonin levels and this neurodegenerative disease, which goes beyond the age-related reduction of melatonin levels. In experimental Parkinson’s disease models in mice melatonin was highly effective in preventing deterioration of Parkinson’s disease.

4. Melatonin may extend life

The combination of being a free radical scavenger, an immunostimulant and an integral key hormone allow melatonin to have beneficial effects in the aging process. When melatonin supplements are given, the stimulation of the immune system can cut down infection rates in the elderly, prevent and mitigate degenerative diseases of the brain (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s), re-establish sleep/waking rhythms and help reduce arthritis.

Conclusion

Melatonin is a widely used sleep aid. As it is practically absent in people beyond the age of 55, it makes sense to supplement with melatonin in that patient group. However, there are side effects particularly in people on blood thinners as coumadin competes with melatonin in getting eliminated through the cytochrome P450 liver enzyme system. This will result in longer bleeding times in patients on blood thinners who also take melatonin supplements. It is important that patients discuss this with their doctors. However, given all of the benefits described above, for the vast majority of the baby boomers melatonin supplementation would be very beneficial. Doses as a sleep aid vary between 1mg and 5mg at bedtime for most people. Cancer patients require higher doses (10 to 20 mg per day).

More information on melatonin, which is at the center of the circadian hormone rhythm as the key hormone switching from day to night and welcoming the day by switching its secretion from the pineal gland off in the morning: https://www.askdrray.com/how-to-cope-with-time-switches/

Reference

1. Datis Kharrazian: “Why isn’t my brain working?” Copyright 2013, Elephant Press, Carlsbad, CA, USA (pages 306-310).

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014