Jan
05
2019

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Tocotrienols

Dr. Barrie Tan gave a talk about health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols that I attended. This occurred at the 26th Anti-Aging Conference of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas (Dec. 13-15, 2018).

First of all, Dr. Tan stressed that there has been some confusion about vitamin E, as in the past the school of thought was that the main active ingredient of vitamin E would be alpha-tocopherol. Furthermore, many clinical trials with this ingredient go back to the 1960’s, which showed antioxidant activity. But further research revealed that there were many other tocopherols and isomers of tocotrienols. What is worse is that beneficial cardiovascular effects of the newer tocotrienols became null and void through traces of alpha-tocopherol in the mix.

Finally, this led to purer vitamin E production without alpha-tocopherol contamination. Recent clinical trials found that health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols are linked to delta- and gamma-tocotrienols. They were many times more active in preventing heart attacks and strokes than former mixes of vitamin E.

Annatto derived tocotrienol

In 2002 scientists were able to extract pure tocotrienol without contamination of alpha-tocopherol from annatto. Prior to this vitamin E came from rice and the red palm fruit. But rice contained 50% of tocopherols, while the red palm fruit contained 25% of it.

Here are several sources of vitamin E. The components of tocopherols and tocotrienols vary depending on the source as follows.

Rice: 50% tocopherols (inactive or antagonistic), 15% alpha- and beta-tocotrienols (less active); 35% delta- and gamma-tocotrienols (most active).

Red palm fruit oil: 25% tocopherols, 25% alpha- and beta-tocotrienols, 50% delta- and gamma-tocotrienols.

Annatto: 90% delta tocotrienols and 10% gamma-tocotrienols.

Subsequent research was able to discern between the detrimental effect of alpha-tocopherol and the protecting effect of delta- and gamma-tocotrienols. Now the recommendation of Dr. Tan is to use only annatto-derived vitamin E to prevent heart attacks and strokes. He called annatto-derived vitamin E the vitamin E for the 21st century.

Tocopherol interfering with action of tocotrienols

Dr. Tan explained that alpha-tocopherol blocks absorption of tocotrienols from the gut. It also prevents storage of tocotrienols in liver and fatty tissue. By itself alpha-tocopherol leads to premature elimination of prescription drugs. It also increases blood pressure and cholesterol. What is worse is that alpha-tocopherol increases the risk of prostate cancer and glioblastoma in humans. It also decreases bone mass and increases LDL oxidation, which leads to accelerated hardening of the arteries.

Action of tocotrienols

In contrast to tocopherols, tocotrienols (particularly the delta and gamma isomers) have all the attributes that you want from vitamin E. It has the highest anti-oxidant properties among the tocotrienols. Delta- and gamma-tocotrienols accumulate in LDL cholesterol and in lipid-rich organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, spleen and skin. Abdominal adipose tissue from obesity also stores delta- and gamma-tocotrienols.

Tocotrienol’s antioxidant activity

When you use a vitamin E preparation consisting of only delta- and gamma-tocotrienols, the portion of vitamin E contained in cell membranes protects against oxidation. Vitamin E  also protects lipids from omega-3 supplements and lipids in foods and beverages from oxidation. Tocotrienols are about 50-fold more potent as antioxidants compared to tocopherols. Based on this information it is not by chance that the following statistics were the results of clinical trials.

Cholesterol lowering effect of vitamin E delta- and gamma-tocotrienols

Dr. Tan cited a 6-week placebo controlled clinical study where the anti-oxidant power was measured in terms of reduction of LDL and total cholesterol.

A group of elderly patients were divided into a subgroup that had normal levels of cholesterol and another subgroup with elevated lipid levels. After 6 weeks of taking a vitamin E preparation consisting of 90% delta tocotrienols and 10% gamma-tocotrienols the blood levels dropped as follows.

Hypercholesterolemic group:    LDL cholesterol    Triglycerides       CRP

                                                          20-28%                11-18%         31-48%

In healthy elderly patients the CRP still dropped 21-29%. Gamma-glutamyl transferase, a predictor for heart attacks dropped by 14-20%.

Another study on postmenopausal women for 12 weeks also showed beneficial effects of tocotrienols.

Hardening of arteries

Dr. Tan explained that hardening of arteries is due to a combination of factors. It is due to combined chronic inflammation and deposits of LDL cholesterol in the wall of the arteries. Studies have shown that monocyte adherence is the first step in fatty streak formation in arteries. Delta-tocotrienol is 60 times more powerful than alpha-tocopherol in inhibiting monocyte adherence. Gamma-tocotrienol is 30 times more powerful than alpha-tocopherol. This proves that taking a vitamin E preparation of 90% delta tocotrienols and 10% gamma-tocotrienols is the most advantageous vitamin E combination to take.

Health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols include hardening of carotid artery

A 4-year study examined the effect of taking 240mg of tocotrienol-tocopherol supplementation. 88% of patients who took the vitamin E supplement showed improvement (regression of the carotid artery stenosis). Placebo patients deteriorated 60%, only 8% improved. In the 4th year of the study total cholesterol decreased by 14% and LDL cholesterol fell by 21%.

Health benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols include type 2 diabetes

Patients with type 2 diabetes received tocotrienols. Within 60 days of taking 250 mg of tocotrienols the serum total lipids were reduced by 23% and total cholesterol by 30%. The LDL cholesterol was reduced by 42%. Triglycerides were also lowered by 15-20%. C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation was lowered between 35-60%.

Beneficial effects of tocotrienols on the eyes and skin

Tocotrienols have antioxidant effects on the eyes and skin. With regard to eye diseases glaucoma and cataracts are improving and macular degeneration in diabetics is responding as well.

The subcutaneous fatty tissue absorb tocotrienols well. Delta- and gamma-tocotrienol largely neutralize oxidative stress from UV light and ozone.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

This condition has a close association with obesity and the metabolic syndrome. The liver stores excessive fats. About 30-40% of US adults suffer from this disease. Researchers conducted a 12-week study with 71 NAFLD patients. It was randomized, double blind and placebo-controlled. After 12 weeks of supplementation with delta- and gamma-tocotrienol there was evidence of reduction of stress on the liver by improved liver enzymes. The ALT and AST enzymes were reduced by 15-16%. There was also an 11% reduction of triglycerides and 18% lowering of CRP, which indicates a reduction of inflammation. The fatty liver index score showed a decrease of 11%. This suggests that there was intrahepatic fat reduction. The group with delta- and gamma-tocotrienol supplements lost on average 9.7 pounds. Here is another study regarding non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and using tocotrienols.

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Tocotrienols

Health Benefits of Vitamin E Tocotrienols

Conclusion

Vitamin E supplementation is undergoing rejuvenation after research has established that it is delta- and gamma-tocotrienol that are the active antioxidants among the 10 or so tocopherol and tocotrienol isomers. The most active of them, delta- and gamma-tocotrienol, have excellent absorption in the gut and migrate through the blood stream to the lipid rich cells in the body. Key organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, spleen and skin accumulate vitamin E. Even the abdominal adipose tissue takes up vitamin E, which is beneficial when a person becomes obese or develops diabetes. Apart from lowering triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol, vitamin E (delta- and gamma-tocotrienol) is also important for directly interfering with hardening of the arteries.

Vitamin E protecting skin, eyes and liver

Vitamin E also protects the skin and eyes against UV light. There can be a partial reversal of tissue damages. Finally, I pointed out that vitamin E can reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). It is important to leave out alpha-tocopherol, which is an older form of vitamin E that is cheaper to produce, but will interfere with the function of delta- and gamma-tocotrienol as explained. As I mentioned earlier, various vitamin E supplements are on the market. It is obvious that they are not equally beneficial.

I recommend you take about 125 mg of vitamin E in the form of delta- and gamma-tocotrienol every day. I take Annatto tocotrienols (Cardiovascular Research Ltd.) 1 softgel daily.

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May
07
2016

Sun Exposure Helps Many Symptoms

For the past few years it has become evident that sun exposure helps many symptoms. Patients with psoriasis have skin plaques on their skin. With sun exposure some of them disappear and the skin appearance improves. Patients with seasonal affective disorder have worsening of their depression over winter. Depression lifts with more sun exposure in the spring. Even a complicated disease like MS, which is more common in the northern latitudes, improves with sun exposure or a move to the southern states.

Osteoporosis: sun exposure has a positive effect

Osteoporosis was the subject of an April 2016 study from Argentina.

The researchers counted the amount of actinic keratosis lesions on the skin of subjects. This correlated well with lifetime sun exposure. Next they measured the  occurrence of hip fractures from osteoporosis. There was a correlation of the two. This case control study had 51 patients with hip fractures. Controls were 59 patients from the same hospital without hip fractures. The mean age was 80 years of age. 23.5% of patients with a history of hip fractures were observed to have actinic keratoses. In contrast 40.7 % of actinic keratoses were found in controls.

Sun exposure prevents hip fractures

The authors conclude that higher sun exposure is protective of hip fractures, but led to more actinic keratoses. They also stated that higher actinic keratoses rates, which are precancerous skin lesions are a risk for developing skin cancer. It is important to balance risk of osteoporosis from a lack of sun exposure with the risk of skin cancer from overexposure to the sun.

We know that higher doses of vitamin D3 in combination with vitamin K2 and calcium supplementation prevent osteoporosis. Reasonable daily doses are 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 per day and 500mg of calcium daily.

Psoriasis: sun exposure helps many symptoms

Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition of the skin with plaques and a characteristic skin rash. This February 2016 study from Turkey showed significant differences between women with psoriasis versus controls. Bone density studies showed lower levels in psoriatic females than in female controls. Female psoriasis patients had lower vitamin D levels than female controls. Male psoriatic patients showed no difference from controls. Low levels of vitamin D3 may be triggers for osteoporosis to develop in female psoriasis patients. Inflammation may also be a contributory factor. There was an elevation of the C-reactive protein (CRP) in female psoriasis patients.

Clinical observations have shown for years that the rash of psoriasis patients tends to improve during the summer.

Seasonal affective disorder: sun exposure lifts the mood

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been known to respond to light therapy. Typically it peaks in the winter months and presents in mostly females who live far away from the equator. They improve when they travel to a sunny spot such as the subtropics or the southern states of North America during the winter months. But light therapy, vitamin D3, antidepressant therapy and counseling the mood swings of seasonal affective disorder will lessen.

In this 2014 study it was shown that depression in older people was not related to the darker months (between October and March). The summer depression rates in older people were identical to the winter depression rates.

Clinical trials with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) patients

In a group of 38 patients with SAD 14 patients were treated with white light visors, 15 with infrared visors and 9 served as a control (visors, no light). Both white light and infrared treated groups showed prevention of SAD while the control group developed SAD.

A 6-week trial was published March 2015. It involved 78 patients (51 Afro-Americans and 27 Caucasians). They all had SAD and received a treatment with 10,000-lux bright light for 60 min daily in the morning. Caucasians had a response rate of 75%. African-Americans had a response rate of only 46.3%. The investigators found that the symptomatic improvement and the rate of treatment response were the same in both groups. The researchers found that the Afro-American subgroup of patients required more education resources. This can overcome the inconsistent application with the bright light.

Vitamin D trials regarding SAD patients

In a study involving 185 female undergraduates of the Pacific Northwest, vitamin D blood levels were measured and a correlation of low vitamin D with depressive symptoms was found in SAD patients.

In a small study the hypothesis was tested that vitamin D3 in higher doses would be beneficial for SAD patients. Eight subjects received a treatment with 100,000 I.U. of vitamin D3, while seven subjects received phototherapy. All subjects had their vitamin D blood levels checked. Interestingly the vitamin D3 group improved on all depression scales. The phototherapy did not show improvement on the depression scale. The vitamin D level increased 74% in the vitamin D3 group and 36% in the phototherapy group.

Light exposure and vitamin D supplementation for SAD

All of these studies seem to indicate that SAD is more common in a younger population while in older people depression seems to be year-round. SAD does respond very well to 1-hour exposure of 10,000 lux of light in the morning. On a sunny day a walk in the sun for 1 hour is equivalent to an exposure at home with a SAD light. High dose vitamin D3 supplementation makes sense as low vitamin D levels were a persistent finding among SAD depression patients.

Multiple sclerosis: sun exposure makes a difference

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is more common in northern latitudes of the northern hemisphere. It is thought that sun exposure leads to higher vitamin D3 production in the skin, which prevents MS. On the other hand, once the diagnosis of MS is certain sun exposure or high doses of vitamin D3 can make it better.

This 2015 Australian study showed the same findings with a large group of MS patients.

This 2015 study from Sweden indicates that there is a compelling connection of prevention of MS through sun exposure or the taking of supplements of vitamin D3. In view of this evidence the authors suggest that you should take vitamin D3 supplements for prevention of MS before trials confirm this further.

Sun protection needed to prevent skin cancer

We have been hearing the slogan “slip, slop and slap” for skin cancer prevention. Slip, slop and slap stands for: slip on a shirt; slop on the sunscreen and slap on a hat. This publication dated March 2016 questions whether the precautions have been too zealous.

On the other hand the statistics regarding higher precancerous actinic keratoses in patients without osteoporosis are alarming too. It seems better to use high doses of vitamin D3, which will prevent osteoporosis, depression (SAD), MS and also improve psoriasis. Sun protection has decreased skin cancer, but did not curtail melanoma rates because sunscreen lotion can be penetrated by infrared radiation.

Use common sense for skin cancer prevention

This means that you should listen to the advice to stay out of the intense sun between 11AM and 3PM. Use vitamin D3 supplements in higher doses as this protects your skin. Research from England indicates that melanoma patients are usually the ones that are susceptible to melanoma genetically. They also have low vitamin D levels in the blood to a certain degree from skin cancer formation. The researchers recommend strongly that those at risk for melanoma need to be on higher vitamin D3 supplementations. A patient with a diagnosis of melanoma should receive high doses of vitamin D3.

Sun Exposure Helps Many Symptoms

Sun Exposure Helps Many Symptoms

Conclusion

It is not a myth: sun exposure helps many symptoms as explained above. Diverse body systems like osteoporotic bones, psoriatic skin and seasonal affective disorder respond to sun exposure. Sun exposure also prevents MS, a degenerative central nervous system disorder. The effects of vitamin D3 can explain some of this effect. It likely stems from sun exposure to the skin. But sunlight has hormonal effects. This occurs through the optic pathways and connections to the hypothalamus. We know that the sun helps combat many symptoms, but more research will be necessary, till we know exactly how it works.

Nov
25
2014

Gluten Intolerance Or Food Sensitivities?

A report about gluten free food is circulating in the media based on this publication. It points out that gluten-free food is not as healthy as the companies want you to believe it to be.

Wheat is the source of gluten, so rice, potato, corn and sugar are used to replace wheat. Corn is deficient in niacin leading to B3 deficiency; and the amino acids lysine and tryptophan (missing in corn) are needed for production of serotonin in the brain, which prevents you from getting depressed.

The reference cited above points out that rice can be contaminated with arsenic, which is a toxin.

Gluten-free food is a special form of processed food. Any processed food is not as good as natural food that you buy from the periphery of the grocery store.

So, what do we know about gluten sensitivity?

Causes of increased diagnosis of gluten sensitivity

Only 1% of people are gluten sensitive at this point. Just 30 years ago this number was 0.025%. 10 years ago 0.04% of people were thought to have gluten sensitivity. The difference may be due to improved sensitivity of the testing methods. But another factor is the new wheat, called Clearfield wheat, which was obtained through chemically forced hybridization of wheat resulting in significant genetic modifications from the original wheat. This type of wheat is now grown all over the world. As I explain in this blog Clearfield wheat has a significantly higher percentage of gluten, which likely contributes to the increased gluten sensitivity in the population at large and particularly among patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Irritable bowel syndrome and other food sensitivities

According to Ref. 1 among patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 4 to 5% have true gluten intolerance (celiac disease). In the general population (without IBS) the gluten sensitivity percentage is less than ¼ of that. On the other hand lactose intolerance in the US is found in 25% of all adults and in 35% to 45% of IBS patients. Another common food sensitivity is fructose and sorbitol intolerance, which occurs in about 40% of patients with IBS and about the same percentage in non-IBS controls. This means that if you leave out sorbitol and fructose, about 40% of people will find relief from abdominal cramps or bloating. A common item that people chew on, according to Ref.1 is sorbitol-containing chewing gum. If this type of chewing gum is eliminated, 40% of people will feel better in their gut. So, keep in mind that the majority of people with food sensitivities do not have gluten sensitivity, but lactose intolerance and allergies to fructose and sorbitol.

Other manifestations of celiac disease

Celiac disease is not only a disease that manifests itself in a skin rash (as originally described in celiac patients). It is responsible for a significant amount of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome) or ADD (attention deficit syndrome) and can even cause Parkinson’s disease. It stands to reason that these conditions can be improved with an appropriate diet.

 

Gluten Intolerance Or Food Sensitivities?

Gluten Intolerance Or Food Sensitivities?

Gluten-free foods often contain problematic replacements

When you go to a grocery store or health food store and look at their gluten free shelves, they offer you an array of products like gluten-free bread and bakery items, cereals, cookies, pastas and many other processed foods. As explained above wheat is the main source of gluten and when you replace it, the substitutes are rice, tapioca starch, quinoa, potato, corn and sugar. We already pointed out some deficiencies of corn. There are also concerns of toxicities as in rice, particularly if it comes from imported material (arsenic). As the majority of people with food sensitivities are allergic to milk sugar (lactose), fructose and sorbitol, these items have to be screened carefully by reading all of the details on the food labels of the products. If you suspect other food allergies, see your primary care physician doctor for testing to these allergens and also have several of the gluten sensitivity tests done. If the gluten sensitivity tests are all negative, you only need to pay attention to milk sugar, fructose and sorbitol, particularly, if you have been diagnosed with IBS.

Hidden sugar and starch content of gluten-free food

What has not been mentioned so far is the sugar and starch content, which eventually leads to higher calories. Sugar is easy to spot on the food label as this is usually listed clearly. I stopped buying dark chocolate, even the 85% variety as they are selling me 10 grams of sugar in a 40 gram helping (25% of sugar). All the health benefits are no longer applicable when you consume that much sugar with a supposedly healthy food item. So add up the sugar you are getting and add up the calories you are seeing listed. Usually, if the sugar content is high, the calories are high.

As an example, when you research on Google regarding gluten-free corn chips, the food content of a typical product is listed as follows: 12 chips (28 g) contain 0 g glucose, 7 g fat, 14 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 100 mg sodium and 250 mg of potassium. It also lists that the total calories are 140, of which fat contributed to it 60 calories. 78% of the 80 calories left (namely 62.4 calories) came from the carbohydrate (starch in corn) and 22% of the remaining calories were protein derived (this I had to calculate). As the stomach digests the corn chips within half an hour into sugar, you really have eaten 62.4 calories from sugar. The Internet tells you that 2.3 g of sugar from a sugar cube are the equivalent of 9 calories. Our “sugar math” can be completed by doing this: 62.4 / 9 x 2.3 g = 15.94 or 16 grams of sugar. So, the food industry actually lied to you by saying that there was 0 g sugar in the 12 corn chips. What happened is that your body digested the 14 grams of carbohydrates and converted it into sugar, which was absorbed into your blood stream. Your pancreas could tell you a story, because it had to produce insulin to keep your blood sugar level in balance!

You may wonder how I solved the dark chocolate problem, which by the way would double as a gluten-free food: You buy 100 % unsweetened Baker’s chocolate (0 g sugar on the label) and liquefy it in a little bowl in a pot with hot water. Add a tiny bit of stevia sweetener and add a tiny bit of vanilla extract into the well-stirred chocolate liquid. Prepare a form out of aluminum foil with a rim. Pour the content carefully into this (watch it, hot!) and let it sit to cool down. When it is at room temperature, cut into smaller pieces, which you keep in a glass jar. This is 100% gluten-free chocolate, 100% chocolate and 100% healthy.

Conclusion

Not all is well in the gluten grocery row of your friendly super market. There are problems in that 20 to 25% of people believe they may have gluten sensitivity when in reality only 1% have it. But the majority of people have not done a gluten-screening test, which would confirm that they have indeed celiac disease. As pointed out above, it is much more likely that a food sensitivity may be caused by another offending agent rather than gluten (milk sugar, fructose and sorbitol). Avoiding the offending food components is the treatment protocol.

Those who take in gluten-free food will expose themselves to unnecessary toxins, to extra sugar leading to obesity and metabolic syndrome that leads to premature heart attacks and strokes. For those who do need to be on a strict gluten-free diet, they can safely do so by following a strict gluten free diet at home (preparing your own meals from healthy ingredients), preferably with organic foods. There are many websites that you can find online that have meal suggestions.

More information about celiac disease.

References:

1. Rakel: Integrative Medicine, 3rd ed. Patrick J. Hanaway, MD: “Chapter40: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Integrative Therapy”. Copyright 2012 Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier

Last edited Nov. 25, 2014

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Jul
23
2014

Sunburn Prevention

Much has been written about sunburn prevention. The thinking behind this is that perhaps we could prevent skin cancer and melanoma development, if we would block ultraviolet rays from the sun or from tanning booths irritate our skin.

So far the theory. Now the truth.

1. Increase of skin cancer despite sunscreen applications

It is sobering that statistics of skin cancer frequency  show that despite more awareness of the importance of skin protection with sunscreen lotions and creams, skin cancer rates have steadily increased. Behind this paradox is the fact that vitamin D3 production in the skin is blocked from sun exposure and the person is not getting the cancer protecting effect of vitamin D3.

Low vitamin D3 levels (measured as 25-hydroxy vitamin D3) are not only associated with skin cancer, but also with breast cancer, and breast cancer will be reduced to 50% of control groups, if patients are treated with high vitamin D3 supplements. There are many other cancers that respond to exposure to sunlight or to supplementation with vitamin D3.

2. We need to know about infrared rays and the ultraviolet exposure

The ultraviolet radiation of sunlight has been extensively studied. There are UVA rays that range from 315 to 400 nanometers. They make up about 95% of the sunlight and penetrate deeper into the skin (the dermis level) leading to more severe skin damage, producing aged looking skin.  UVB rays (5% of sunlight) contain wavelength measuring between 280 and 325 nanometers affecting the most superficial layer of the skin, the epidermis. These rays cause sunburns. Both UVA and UVB are strongest around midday. The sun also produces UVC rays (wave length 180 to 280 nanometers), which are completely absorbed by the ozone layer and are not of importance unless you live under an ozone hole.

Next there is IR (infrared radiation), which has only recently been detected to be of health concern. IR rays range from 760 nanometers to 1 million nanometers (=1 millimeter). It causes skin photoaging and damage. Most of IR is in the lower range (between 760 and 1,440 nanometers); the total amount of IR rays that reach the skin is massive compared to the UV light and 50% of these rays reach deep into the skin to the level of the dermis.

Sunburn Prevention

Sunburn Prevention

3. Filtering out the damaging rays

Armed with the above knowledge we can now talk about sunscreen lotions and sunscreen creams. Traditional sunscreen lotions and creams have been directed against both shortwave (UVB) and longwave (UVA) rays of the sun. UVB blockers prevent damage to the surface of the skin (epidermis level), UVA blockers prevent damage to the deeper dermis. It is in your interest to buy a sun blocking agent that blocks both of these rays. (You have to read labels.)

However, both of these blockers, which means all of the traditional sunscreen agents, will not block IR waves (infrared radiation), which causes most of the wrinkles, age-related skin changes and skin DNA damage, which eventually results in skin cancer.

4. Vitamin D3 deficiency because of sunscreen applications

As we know that sunscreen agents lead to blocking of vitamin D synthesis in the skin, it is prudent to take vitamin D3 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day and have your health care provider order 25-hydroxy vitamin D3 blood levels from time to time (aim for a level of 100 ng/m or more). There is no danger of overdosing vitamin D3. That story about overdosing of vitamins is coming from vitamin A overdosing. There is a ceiling not to be exceeded due to liver toxicity over vitamin A overdosing, but not so for vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 protects not only from skin cancer, but also from other cancers. For more on vitamin D3 read my recent blog on this.

5. Whole body protection from the inside

There are two approaches to using systemic natural extracts. One component is from a tropical fern (Polypodium leucotomos) and another one from blood oranges that can both repair sun damaged skin and prevent sunburn. The effective substances are administered orally.

This fern extract has been tested in smaller clinical trials and was found to have a 70% to 75% efficacy in blocking all sun rays from the inside out.

In a small trial patients were exposed to UVB light after preparation with red orange extract and a 35% reduction of sun burn was found within 15 days when compared to controls.

There is a possibility now to take one capsule with tropical fern extract mixed with red orange extract and combine this with traditional sunscreen agents and have optimal sun protection.

One trial that is mentioned in these last two links is a group of polymorphous light eruption patients who are born with extreme sun sensitivity, but reported an 80% improvement with this oral fern extract treatment.

6. Final recommendations for sunburn prevention

Although the advice given in this WebMD link is useful, it neglects to recommend to supplement with vitamin D3 because of the sunscreen action. It also does not mention the IR waves of the sun that do most of the damage and that only get prevented by staying out of the sun or by taking the oral sunscreen pill (tropical fern extract and red orange extract mixed).

My recommendation, if you were not allergic to ferns, is to consider taking the oral pill (as far as I know currently only available from LifeExtension as “enhanced fern block with red orange complex”) to block the entire wavelength of the sun rays. This will repair some of the skin damage that has already been done. Follow the above WebMD link as well with regard to the sun screen lotions/creams. Also stay out of the noon sun between 11 AM and 2 PM. Take your vitamin D3 in the high dose range as discussed above to preserve optimal resistance against all kinds of cancers including skin cancer.

Conclusion:

In reviewing the facts prior to writing this blog I was quite bewildered how misleading a lot of the literature is regarding prevention of sunburns, particularly by assuming that all you had to do was to block UVB and UVA rays. I attempted to explain why this is an oversimplification, and the skin cancer statistics clearly show that sunscreen blockers alone are not stopping skin cancer. So, we do need a combination of
1. Staying out of the noon sun.

2. Using clothing and wide sun hats to keep the sun out of our faces.

3. Use the traditional sunscreen agents. Reapply, if necessary.

4. Using an oral sunscreen agent that blocks infrared rays as discussed under point 5 and 6.

5. Using vitamin D3 in high doses as discussed under point 4 above for cancer prevention.

With this in mind, enjoy the rest of your summer!

More information on:

1. Sunburns: http://nethealthbook.com/dermatology-skin-disease/sunburns/

2. Different skin types and skin cancer causes: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/skin-cancer/causes-skin-cancer/

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014

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Aug
24
2013

Pimples And Acne Can Be Caused By Food

For a long time nobody knew why teenagers get acne. But many assumed that it would come from hormonal changes as teenagers grow up. But why then are there some ethnic regions in the world where teenagers do not get acne? In this blog I will present the background that shows that wheat, sugar and dairy products are the culprits. They are not eaten in those regions of our planet where acne does not exist.

Regions where acne does not exist

1. The Kitivan Islanders of Papua New Guinea have no cases of acne in teenagers. They adhere to the old hunter/gatherer diet of no sugar, no alcohol, no wheat and no grains. Instead they eat root vegetables such as sweet potato, yam, taro, tapioca; fruit like papaya, pineapple, banana, mango, watermelon, guava and pumpkin; and also vegetables, coconuts and fish.

2. African Bantus and Zulus: These original African warriors eat a low glycemic diet with no wheat, no milk and no refined sugar or starches. Their teenagers and young adult do not have acne, if they stick to the original tribal diet.

3. Aché hunter/gatherers of Paraguay: a study by researchers from the Colorado State University in 2002 showed that sugar, wheat and other high-glycemic foods were missing in the diet of these native tribes. As a result they have no acne when they consume this type of diet, which is very similar to the Kitivan Islanders of Papua New Guinea.

4. Japan’s Okinawans when sticking to their original diet before 1970 had clear complexion and no pimples (acne). But as this link shows the McDonald’s and other fast foods with too much salt, too much sugar, wheat, deep fried and convenience foods entered the scene after 1970 and the acne rate went up to the American level.

5. The natives of the Purus Valley in Brazil: A dermatological examination of 9955 school children age 6 to 16 showed an acne incidence of only 2.7%. In contrast in Westernized countries the rate of acne is 60 to 80%. The diet in this region is again similar to the other groups already mentioned above.

6. Canadian Inuit before 1950 did not consume dairy products and were acne free. Since then there has been a steady increase of dairy products, soda, beef, and processed foods.

How acne develops

The medical term for pimples or acne is “acne vulgaris”. For years it has been postulated that hormones and medication can cause acne. According to Ref.1 there are several steps that work together in causing acne. The hair follicle and sebaceous gland work as one unit. Male hormones, called androgens play an important role in the development of acne, both in males and females. Testosterone in males is not only produced in testicles, but also in the skin itself. It gets converted by an enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, into the much more active metabolite dihydrotestosterone. In individuals with hypersensitive receptors in the sebaceous gland this will cause blockage in the sebaceous gland duct and at the same time stimulate the sebaceous gland oil production leading to the formation of a keratotic plug. White heads and black heads are formed this way. Contributing factors are inflammatory substances that are caused by insulin release stimulated by sugar, wheat and starch intake. This stimulates IGF-1 receptors in the skin, which causes growth of the subcutaneous skin layers, which is pushing up from the layer below the skin, kinking the sebaceous gland duct and causing acne pustules (pimples) to form. A skin bacterium, called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), is getting trapped in the pimple causing a local skin infection, which in turn can cause acne cysts and furuncles, particularly in males where there is a family history of acne. High cortisol levels from stress can also be a contributing factor in causing acne. Today’s teenagers are exposed to a lot of stresses from exams, competitive sports and peer pressures.

Females with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) have higher androgen production from ovarian cysts, which results in acne as well.

Both male and female teenagers experience an androgen surge when puberty sets in. If the teenager avoids the additional insulin response, which comes from eating sugar, starch, grain and particularly from consuming wheat and wheat products, the plugging up of skin pores will not occur, meaning these teenagers will be acne free. Some teenagers are also sensitive to milk protein from milk and milk products. In sensitive people whey protein allergy causes the same insulin/skin IGF-1 response described above, which leads to blocking of skin pores. If there is no blockage in the hair follicle, the P. acnes bacteria will stay on the surface of the skin (these bacteria are part of the normal skin flora) and the sebaceous gland secretions flow unimpededly to the surface of the skin keeping  it naturally lubricated. These observations are further confirmed by a study from Malaysia in 2012 showing that a high glycemic load diet with milk and ice cream caused worsening of acne in teenagers of both sexes.

Pimples And Acne Can Be Caused By Food

Pimples And Acne Can Be Caused By Food

Treating acne correctly

A)   Conventional acne treatment

This is a thorny issue, because Big Pharma has a firm hand in the treatment of acne and they are supporting symptomatic treatment of acne rather than treating the cause. There are surface treatment modalities that are supposed to open the skin pores: peeling agents such as benzoyl peroxide. General practitioners often treat the infection with antibiotic pills (tetracycline or erythromycin), but this is not treating the cause, only the super infection that comes from the plugged up skin pores (stasis of sebaceous gland secretions). Another approach is topical application of antibiotic and peeling agent in combination (1% clindamycin and 5% benzoyl peroxide gel), which is applied twice daily (Ref.2). Resistant cases, usually the ones who have a family history of severe acne, have been treated by a skin specialist who has a special license to treat with isotretinoin (Accutane), a vitamin A derivative, which works in many cases, but which can have serious side effects. These include skin dryness, eye dryness, muscle and bone pains, headaches, liver enzyme abnormalities, and instability of mood including depression and causing birth defects in the fetus of a pregnant woman (Ref. 3). In 2009 the manufacturer stopped distributing the drug in the US, because of too many lawsuits regarding damages from the drug.

I am not saying you should ever take this toxic medication. What I am saying is that treating symptoms, but not the cause has led to peculiar drug manufacturing. This drug is now used to treat brain cancer and pancreatic cancer.

B)   Dietary approach to treat acne

There has been a renewed interest in the last 40 years to sort out the connection between dietary factors and acne.

The most straightforward treatment in my opinion is to modify what you eat.

A clinical trial from the University of Melbourne in 2007 showed that a low-glycemic diet reduced the acne lesions by 22% compared to a control group.

Two factors are clear: a low-glycemic diet produces fewer pimples, the stricter the low-glycemic diet is applied, the more effective the treatment will be. Up to 50% reduction in acne lesions were observed among patients with acne who adhered to a strict low-glycemic index diet in just 12 weeks. There is also evidence that milk and other dairy products can contribute to acne, which works through the same mechanism of IGF-1 stimulation mentioned above.

A US study from Boston showed a 22% increase in acne lesions with total milk consumption and increase of 44% after skim milk consumption.

Omega-3-fatty acid supplementation is useful for inflammatory acne in about 2/3 of the cases as this study showed. Here is a patient from this study who benefitted from omega-3 supplementation. The baseline image is seen with inflammatory acne lesions on his cheek. Only 12 weeks after taking 3 Grams of omega-3 supplementation daily his face looked much improved.

Conclusion

There is a lesson to be learnt from the analysis of the regions in the world where acne does not exist and from all these observational studies mentioned. Cutting out wheat, wheat products, grains, sugar, milk and milk products will lead to amazing results regarding acne prevention and improvement of patients who suffer from acne. We have been lulled into believing that medical science will give us a magic pill or magic potion that would solve our complexion problems. As mentioned above one of the “magic pills” (isotretinoin) is so toxic that it is now used for cancer treatments. All along we allowed the food industry to destroy our complexion by inducing an insulin and IGF-1 response that plugged up our skin pores. We can open them up by eliminating wheat and wheat products, sugar, high-glycemic foods as well as dairy products.

More information on acne: http://nethealthbook.com/dermatology-skin-disease/acne-vulgaris/

References

  1. Rakel: Integrative Medicine, 3rd ed., Saunders 2012. Chapter 73 : Acne Vulgaris and Acne Rosacea, by Sean H. Zager, MD
  2. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., © 2009 Churchill Livingstone.
  3. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine, 2nd ed., © 2010 Saunders.

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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Oct
01
2008

Overuse Of Tanning Can Point to Addiction

The use of indoor tanning facilities and tanning beds has become popular over the years. Many individuals use tanning in preparation for a vacation in sunny climates, but an overwhelming number flocks to tanning booths in order to preserve this summer tan. Despite all cautioning from dermatologists, tanning salons have their steady clientele. While the occasional use may be no reason for alarm, steady usage sheds a different light on the”artifical sun”.
Tanning dependence has been found to be common in young adults, as a survey of 400 college student revealed. The behavior can be predicted by certain demographic and behavioral variables. Initially the motivation for tanning is the enhancement of appearance, but often those who use tanning facilities frequently report that it contributes to enhance their mood and help with relaxation and socializing. There was also a disregard for warnings about health risks of the practice. Dr. Carolyn Heckman, PhD of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Cheltenham,Pa. and her colleagues reported that these behaviors are commonly reported by individuals with other types of dependencies. In this respect excessive use of tanning has similarities to other behavioral disorders such as obsessive compulsive behavior and eating disorders, which has given it the nickname “tanorexia”.

Overuse Of Tanning Can Point to Addiction

Overuse Of Tanning Can Point to Addiction

The population profile showed that most of the tanning dependent individuals were female, and the highest group was white with a medium skin type, as opposed to fair and darker skinned individuals. Those who were doing the most sunbathing in summer and had the highest rates of sunburn also were the most tanning dependent. They were also the ones who used the least amount of sun protection. Smokers had the highest level of tanning dependence, whereas obese individuals had the lowest one. The highest proportion showed up in the female population. Males did not seem to be that interested in tanning.
The research is relevant for health professionals when it comes to teaching patients about skin cancer prevention and education about sun protection. It also points to possible relationships to other addictive disorders.

More information about skin cancer: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/skin-cancer/

References: 1. http://www.skincancer.org/content/view/317/78/ 2. Am. J. Health Behav. 2008;32:451-64

Last edited November 5, 2014

Aug
01
2008

Dietary Habits Help For Clear Skin

Acne can be a bothersome skin condition that is not only a source of embarrassment to adolescents but it can plague adults as well. A lot of foods have been associated with the annoying “zits” from chocolates to French fries or junk food. More research has come up in recent years, and some new facts have emerged. Clement Adebamowo of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston studied 4,000 teenage boys and found a significant association between the intake of skim milk and the development of acne. There are numerous explanations for the dairy-acne connection. According to US doctors Alan Logan and Valori Treloar there are at least 4 precursors of the “acne hormone” dehydroepiandrosterone in milk from pregnant cows. Even though milk has a low glycemic index research has substantiated that milk based foods increase levels of insulin. Insulin in turn seems to be one of the major players when it comes to skin fat production (sebum). This leads to the blockage of skin follicles and the development of blackheads and acne. Lacks of dietary oxidants are also putting fuel on the fire of acne. Acne sufferers demonstrate lower antioxidant blood levels and as a result there is no ammunition to fight the skin inflammation of acne. Other foods contributing to this problem are omega-6 rich oils (sunflower, safflower and soybean).

Dietary Habits Help For Clear Skin

Dietary Habits Help For Clear Skin

Strong allies to fight the inflammatory process of acne are foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel or sardines. The intake of fruit and vegetables is beneficial (acne sufferers generally eat fewer fruits and vegetables than those who have a clear skin.) A trial by Robyn Smith of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia showed that acne patients who were instructed to consume a low glycemic diet high in protein had significantly less acne lesions that their counterparts. This dietary approach reduces androgen levels. Beside a dietary approach there is still the need for dermatological input. Using both avenues acne sufferers will reap the most benefits.

More information about acne vulgaris: http://nethealthbook.com/dermatology-skin-disease/acne-vulgaris/

The Medical Post, June 24, 2008, page 19

Last edited November 4, 2014

Jan
01
2007

Nanotechnology For Better Healing

Nanofibers for the healing of wounds can become a new technique to promote faster healing with less scarring. The application of these tiny fibres that consist of peptides can be manifold. The fibers can self-assemble into a mesh that can help heal areas affected by trauma. A mesh of the fibers applied to a bleeding wound can help the surgeon to stop the bleeding.The fibres can “knit” an injury,but they also can work in repairing areas of trauma in vital organs and restore tissue. Researchers have raised the possibility of application for the central nervous system too. So far the experience has come from animal experiments. Nanotechnology has been applied in animals, where the optic nerve had been severed and with the application of nanofibers the nerve could be “knitted” together and as a result the vision was restored.
The research comes from the Institute of Technology from Cambridge, Massachusetts where Rutledge Ellis-Behnke,PhD reported that healing of the nerve could be observed already within 24 hours. An incidental finding was that bleeding could be stopped when nanofibers were applied.This technique is unlike any other like cauterization. It is fast and as a result blood loss during surgery can be minimized and time needed for surgical procedures can be decreased, which translates into a faster recovery time for the patient.

Nanotechnology For Better Healing

Nanotechnology For Better Healing

Researchers are optimistic about the potential for clinical use, as the fibers are biodegradable and are excreted through the urine within 3-4 weeks or taken up by the tissue adjacent to the treatment site in the body.

Reference: JAMA. 2007;297:31 (Jan.3, 2007)

Last edited November 2, 2014

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Nov
01
2006

Think Feet With Diabetes

About 2 million Canadians are currently living with diabetes. It can be a “silent” disease, as patients may have few symptoms. Once diagnosed with diabetes it is of great importance to be vigilant of lifestyle and nutrition to keep the condition under control. A common problem for about 15% of diabetics is the development of a diabetic foot ulcer. Of those afflicted 14-24% will require an amputation of a lower extremity as a result. In addition to this the mortality rate of patients with below knee amputation due to the complications of a diabetic foot ulcer is 19-55% after three years.
Even though these statistics sound ominous, a lot can be done in the way of prevention. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association guidelines, a diabetic patient should have a foot exam performed at least annually. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the leading cause of diabetic foot ulcers. The physician can examine the feet for loss of sensation. He will check for foot calluses and will debride those, which are pre-ulcer state. The physician also checks for poor circulation in the foot at that time.
If there is no loss of protective sensation, an annual exam will suffice, but if there is loss of sensation, several exams per year may be needed. A vascular surgeon may have to assess the patient to see if the foot circulation is sufficient. Infection is a warning sign and has to be treated promptly. Finally, any source of pressure to the foot needs to be removed or offloaded.
A proactive approach to keep the feet healthy starts at home.

Think Feet With Diabetes

Think Feet With Diabetes

The following points are important especially to the patient with diabetes:
-Inspect your feet on a daily basis. Check for sores, blisters or cracks that don’t heal.
-Check your footwear. If there is debris (sand, pebbles) remove promptly.
-Wash your feet daily with warm, not hot water and dry them well, especially between your toes.
-Trim your toenails. If you have difficulties doing that, seek out the help of a podiatrist. Also don’t use the homemade approach cutting corns and calluses.
-Keep the circulation to your feet going: put up your feet when you sit. Wiggle your toes, move your ankles, don’t cross your legs for long stretches of time.
-Shop for suitable footwear! Ask the sales clerk to measure both of your feet in order to determine the proper size. Shop in the afternoon, as your feet can swell during the day.
-Don’t break in a tight fitting new shoe! This may injure your feet. A new shoe should be comfortable right away.
-Don’t delay looking after problems. If a cut, sore, bruise or blister does not start to heal after a day, see a physician.

More information about diabetic feet: http://nethealthbook.com/arthritis/foot-pain/effects-diabetes-feet/

Reference: Parkhurst Exchange, October 2006 Edition, page 26

Last edited November 1, 2014

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Oct
01
2006

Successful Gene Therapy For Melanoma

Scientists at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. have developed a modality of gene therapy to treat patients with melanoma.
The therapy alters the patients’ own lymphocytes to recognize and attack cancer cells. Dr. Steven Rosenberg and his team developed the new technique by drawing a blood sample containing normal lymphocytes from an advanced melanoma patient. Next the cells are infected with a retrovirus, which delivers genes that target specific receptors on T cells. Once the cells are infused back into the patient, these receptors attach themselves to the molecules on tumor cells and activate the lymphocytes to destroy the cancer cells. This method is called “adoptive cell transfer”. In early experiments there seemed to be little or no benefit, but researchers refined the methods and found valuable and promising aspects regarding the treatment of melanoma patients. It is crucial to administer the cells in their most active growth phase. This was shown in a group of 14 patients, where 2 terminal melanoma patients experienced cancer regression. Dr. Jeffrey Medin, head of the clinical research program in gene therapy at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto agrees that this new therapy is a breakthrough as it has virtually brought terminal patients “back from the brink”. It is also exciting to see that the researchers could refine the techniques in order to create a more successful therapy. As a result the method will be more applicable to other cancers and broader populations.

Successful Gene Therapy For Melanoma

Successful Gene Therapy For Melanoma

Although adoptive cell transfer has only been used in melanoma patients so far, the researchers have shown ways to engineer cells of the immune system in a similar way to attack breast, liver cancer or lung cancers.

More information about treatment of melanoma: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/skin-cancer/melanoma/treatment-melanoma/

Reference: The Medical Post, September 19, 2006, page 1 and 61

Last edited November 1, 2014