Oct
24
2014

TACT Study Proves Effectiveness of Chelation

Even though the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT Study) has been published in March 2013 (Ref. 1), it still needs to make its way into the common public knowledge. The National Institute of Health was noticing an “alarming 68% increase” of chelation therapy between 2002 and 2007. These patients had problems with previous heart attacks and others had angina due to coronary artery disease, so they sought relief through intravenous chelation treatments. The purpose of the TACT study was to see whether chelation treatments with EDTA were safe and whether they would show any benefits when compared to a placebo group.

TACT study design

A total of 1708 patients were randomized into two groups, 869 treated with EDTA chelation therapy and 869 in treated with placebo infusions of normal saline/dextrose. Treatments were blinded (nobody knew what was given in the intravenous). 134 research sites in Canada and the US were involved in this trial including the Mayo Clinic. Patients had to be at least 50 years old, but the average age was 65 years. They had all a prior heart attack, but not less than 6 weeks before enrolment; on average they did have their heart attack 4.6 years before enrolment. Participants had to quit smoking at least 3 months before entering into the study and if they had revascularization procedures (bypass surgeries or stents), this had to be done more than 6 months in the past.

31% of the study population had diabetes. 83% had revascularization procedures done in the past. The majority of patients were taking heart medications (72% beta blockers, 73% statins to lower cholesterol and 84% aspirin to thin the blood).

65% completed 40 infusions, 76% completed at least 30 infusions.

The chelation infusion was the standard infusion usually used in chelation clinics, namely containing EDTA (the chelating agent), salts and vitamins as indicated in this Mayo clinic summary report. The follow-up period was for 4 years. There was a drop-out of 30% for various reasons and 17% refused their consent to carry on in the study.

TACT Study Proves Effectiveness Of Chelation

TACT Study Proves Effectiveness Of Chelation

Results of the TACT study

Overall mortality in the chelation group was down 2.8% versus the placebo group. Heart attacks in the chelation group were down 19.5%; strokes down 20% and hospitalization rates were down 28.6% when compared to the values of the placebo group.

Diabetic patients (the subgroup of 31%) appear to have greater benefits from chelation treatments than the non-diabetic ones. The diabetic group benefitted by 39% with regard to risk reduction (strokes, heart attacks, mortality) versus the non-diabetic chelation group (only a 4% reduction).

Perhaps as important as the results of the effect of the chelation study versus the placebo group was the fact that the side-effect profile was indistinguishable between the two groups. This establishes for the first time that chelation therapy is safe and that it also has beneficial effects.

It is interesting that when the results of the TACT Study were announced at the 2012 American Heart Association meeting in Los Angeles, the majority of cardiologists did not believe the results (that chelation was effective); instead they were looking for alternative explanations to explain the effect and suggested that this study needed to be repeated again.

What are the benefits of chelation therapy?

Originally EDTA was used to treat children with lead poisoning in Germany. However, workers who were exposed to lead containing paints in various industries also were described to have improve significantly with EDTA chelation (see this chelation history link).

In the 1990’s environmental concerns about heavy metal poisoning of the earth atmosphere came more into the forefront. This 2007 paper reports about heavy metal poisoning in detail.

A new concern for those who like organic food is the use of copper sulfate by organic food growers to spray against fungal and bacterial growth on crop as copper sulfate is one of the 5 chemicals used in organic agriculture approved by the USDA.

Those who consume organic foods may inadvertently expose themselves to copper in their system. This will reduce zinc levels as zinc naturally counterbalances the effects of elevated copper levels. But normal zinc levels are needed for normal body function, particularly in males.

As I have explained in this blog before, chelation therapy and several other methods can detoxify the body. Pollution continues to play havoc with our system and we need to consider taking steps to counteract that. In this blog I explained that we live in a toxic world and I mentioned several steps we can take to counteract this including chelation therapy. Particularly heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium and copper will be reduced in the blood by intravenous EDTA chelation treatments.

Conclusion

I felt that I should take some time explaining the carefully conducted TACT Study that was a randomized double blind, government sponsored study examining the effects of chelation treatments. It showed that there were significant improvements in terms of cardiovascular recovery, but it also showed that it was entirely non-toxic. Chelation should be done by an American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) certified practitioner to ensure that you get the same chelation treatment as described in the TACT Study. People with heart conditions will need 30 to 40 treatments (usually 1 week apart) to improve. However, a person with a normal heart who considers detoxification will only need 10 treatments initially (twice per week or weekly), then one every three months for maintenance. We all reside on the same planet and are exposed to ongoing pollution and food toxicity. Due to this reality the topic of chelation and detoxification is worth some serious consideration not only for patients with heart health issues.

More information about vitamins and detoxification: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/vitamins-minerals-supplements/

Reference: 1. J. American Medical Association (March 27, 2013, Vol. 309, No. 12)

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014

Jul
02
2014

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

Not too long ago I came across a blog that summarized the “18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine”. Although this is a useful list, it occurred to me that these problems could be compressed into about 9 underlying themes. Below I am describing the same type of problems regarding modern medicine in a somewhat abbreviated fashion.

Points 1 to 4 below cover points 1 to 9 of the “18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine”:

1. The patient is seen as a complicated machine with parts that could break down. When there is a breakdown of the machinery, symptoms develop, which are quickly fixed with a patented medicine, but without really addressing the underlying problem. 

This type of approach soothes pain, but changes nothing for a chronic illness like MS. Nobody has all the answers to this complicated illness, but we know that it is an autoimmune disease. So it makes sense to avoid foods that could make the patient worse. This is exactly what Dr. Terry Wahls is describing in her YouTube video.

Also, vitamins and supplements for multiple sclerosis that support the immune system would be useful. Vitamin D3 in high doses, but monitoring blood levels by doing 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood tests from time to time would also be useful.

2. A holistic approach to building up health rather than fixing a clinical problem, which belongs to a disease, is not part of modern medicine.

In the past a stomach acid problem was treated with H-2 receptor antagonists like cimetidine or ranitidine. The newer proton pump inhibitors, like omeprazole were added and were supposed to be better in suppressing the acid formation. But they did nothing to cure the ulcer or gastritis problem. The problem often was that chronic stress allowed a bacterium, H.pylori to multiply in the stomach wall causing stomach acid and a burning sensation. This did respond to the antacid medications for a period of time, but came back when the medication was stopped. A simple over the counter licorice compound, called DGL or a simple mastic gum from the health food store can cure the helicobacter infection and cure your peptic ulcer disease without the need for the expensive patented H-2 receptor antagonists or proton pump inhibitors.

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

3. Everybody with the same disease is treated with the same medical treatment schedule, often agreed on by consensus expert panels. The body’s self-healing capacity or the placebo effect, which is an expression of the same natural healing response, is ignored.

Here is a study that was done on patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) on placebo pills. Placebo pills were 24% more effective than the control group who took no pills in controlling symptoms of IBS. Why not utilize this in conventional medicine?

4. The disease is treated, not the patient; numbers from lab tests count, not clinical signs of the physical examination. What used to be called the “art of medicine” has been abandoned.

The art of medicine is important to establish a rapport with the patient, but also to pick up silent features during the examination that may otherwise be overlooked.

Points 10 to 18 of the“18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine” are covered by points 5 to 9 below:

5. Diet, lifestyle, hormone changes (due to chronic stress and older age) are all ignored. If there are the hormone changes of menopause or andropause, only synthetic hormones are given and only for a limited time not exceeding 5 years. Bioidentical hormone replacement invokes butterfly feelings in the physician’s stomach and must therefore be rejected. It’s almost a knee-jerk response. The reason for that is the fear that bioidentical hormones would have the same devastating side effects as the synthetic hormones. However, this is a fallacy, as a young person with fully functioning natural hormones will not come down with nefarious side effects of strokes, heart attacks or cancer.

This link to Dr. Lee’s website explains why bioidentical hormones fit the hormone receptors better than the synthetic concoctions.

6. The thought that the body may have been exposed to toxins (like heavy metals, xenoestrogens etc.) from the environment that are taken up and stored in the body like a sponge and should be detoxified from time to time is foreign thinking to modern medicine except for a small group of dedicated physicians and naturopaths who offer various forms of chelation therapy.

The TART trial has shown that there was a 18% reduction of heart attack rate in the group that received 40 chelation therapy treatments. Chelation therapy can easily be combined with traditional treatment methods, but mostly his option is ignored.

7. Similarly the idea that supplements and vitamins would be essential to support the body in the fight against free radicals that form inside the body every day is not something every doctor will feel comfortable in recommending.

In Ref. 1 (chapter 8) I have cited evidence from a clinical trial that multivitamins elongate telomeres by 5.1% and add 9.8 years of productive life in those who take multivitamins over a long period of time versus those who do not.

8. In the health care industry we are still working in a hierarchical system where the doctor is on top and the patient is on a lower level and dependent. In the future medical system the doctor and the patient are equal partners who try to solve a health problem as a team.

The doctor may have more experience in diagnosing, prescribing and monitoring health problems, but the patient is the one who owns the problem and is encouraged to comply with the prescribed treatment and to report back to the doctor, if there are new symptoms that may lead the doctor to new insights resulting in improving the treatment plan.

9. Big Pharma influences doctors to prescribe their patented medicinesNew drugs and old drugs are sold like the latest invention against the dreaded disease XYZ (you can fill in whatever the diagnosis is). But none of these drugs is effective against a hormone disbalance, stress, a lack of sleep, lack of exercise or malnutrition. The patient’s co-operation is needed to work on these issues.

I have explained in Ref.1 that the metabolic syndrome, which is responsible for much of our modern diseases (diabetes, heart attacks, arthritis, strokes, cancers, Alzheimer’s disease) can be overcome by a combination of steps: paying attention to our food intake, cutting out sugar and high glycemic starchy foods and excessive fats. Regular exercise will help you to build up and maintain muscle mass and at the same time to melt in excessive fat. Yoga, self-hypnosis, meditation and prayer can remedy stress. Bioidentical hormones can replace any hormone deficiencies. Detoxification, vitamins and supplements complete this program, which allows you to successfully age without disabilities. All these steps taken together allow your body to recover and find a new balance where drugs are rarely needed.

Conclusion:

The reason Medicare is so expensive is that life style issues are not often addressed. By only treating symptoms the underlying causes of an illness are not removed. This means that the illness will not be cured. Take for instance heart attacks. If you want to go down the road from angina to heart attack to bypass surgery or stents, you will soon run out of options. The next level of curative medicine approach is a heart transplant after heart attack number 4 or 5. Comprehensive medicine would approach this differently by paying attention to what you eat and motivate you to cut out starchy foods, wheat, and sugar. This would address obesity, which is a problem in many Western countries. You would engage in regular physical exercise. Stress would be overcome in yoga classes or self-hypnosis sessions. Bioidentical hormones would replace your missing hormones based on saliva hormone tests or blood test samples. The heart muscle that has a lot of testosterone receptors would respond to this. As mentioned above a series of chelation treatments to remove heavy metals could also be offered in this combined, comprehensive heart attack prevention program with a reduction of 18% of heart attacks. This all is available now, but regrettably few people make use of it.

References:

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

Last edited July 3, 2014

Apr
30
2014

Overuse Of Supplements Can Create Health Risks

The Dietary Supplement Health And Education Act of 1994 made it easier for people to acquire supplements and vitamins from health food stores. But since then there has been a proliferation of various products that are sold as supplements and not as drugs. It may give you the impression that all supplements are harmless, but this is not so. There are some supplements like vitamin A where you need to watch that you are not inadvertently overdosing, as toxicity is a problem; calcium supplements are also potentially toxic, if overdone. And amino acid supplements (protein supplements) can lead to an overdose of brain hormones. Here is a sample of some of the supplements that I would want you to watch.

1.Vitamin A toxicity:

Vitamin A is essential for normal night vision, for red blood cell production in the bone marrow and for the immune system. Here is a brief review about its metabolism. But while small amounts are beneficial for the body, high doses are toxic. In the 19th century the Arctic explorer Elisha Kane reported that consumption of polar bear liver caused severe headaches, drowsiness, irritability and vomiting within a few hours of ingesting it.

It is now known to be due to “pseudotumor cerebri”, a condition that mimics a brain tumor, but is caused by an acute overdose of vitamin A contained in liver (Ref. 1).

In the US where people eat enough meat, fish and dairy products, there is no overt vitamin A deficiency. Read this link to avoid overdosing with vitamin A in multiple supplements.

Overuse Of Supplements Can Create Health Risks

Overuse Of Supplements Can Create Health Risks

2. Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is an important antioxidant vitamin and is needed as a co-factor for many metabolic reactions. It is participating in the production of collagen and connective tissues, helps with fatty acid transport and is necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain (Ref.2). The lack of vitamin C is known as scurvy; symptoms include bleeding gums from fragile capillaries, delay in wound healing and impaired bone metabolism. Although in the earlier research it was hoped that vitamin C would prevent colds and cure cancer, more recent reevaluations found that it does not prevent you from getting colds, but it accelerates the recovery from colds by cutting down the recovery time by as much as 25 to 30% and it also does have some cancer protective effects (Ref.2). Higher doses seem to be more beneficial, but 1500 mg per day seems to now be the consensus of a reasonable upper dose limit per day.

What about kidney stones? Several studies in the past have warned about vitamin C being broken down in some people into calcium oxalate kidney stones. Here is a brief review of the literature with regard to kidney stone formation. A study regarding the DASH diet, which is used for people with high blood pressure, showed that the incidence of kidney stones is almost half for both men and women compared to controls on a normal North American diet.

There has been a concern among the medical community that vitamin C as a supplement would increase kidney stones (oxalate stones). However a 2014 study showed that when both vitamin C and vitamin E are taken as supplements, the kidney stone formation goes down.

Many inhabitants of industrialized countries including the population in the US and other countries are magnesium deficient and this can be a major factor for forming calcium oxalate stones. But it has been known for decades that those who develop kidney stones excrete more oxalates in their urine (so-called “oxalate excreters”). Here is a 1996 study that measured this in detail.

If you are taking in a lot of green smoothies from green leaf vegetables (spinach, kale, Swiss chard) that are high in water-soluble vitamins, you may not require any vitamin C supplements. In other words, think about what else you do and eat and add it up, so you do not exceed a total of 1500 mg to 2000 mg of vitamin C per day.

If you are taking in a lot of green smoothies from green leaf vegetables (spinach, kale, Swiss chard) that are high in water-soluble vitamins, you may not require any vitamin C supplements. In other words, think about what else you do and eat and add it up, so you do not exceed a total of 1500 mg of vitamin C per day.

3. Calcium supplements:

Calcium is a key mineral in the body, important not only for healthy bone structure, but also to balance the electrolytes within the blood, in the extra cellular fluid space and within our cells. If calcium is low, the brain is more prone to seizures and the heart can produce dangerously irregular heart beats. We definitely need a balance of calcium! Because calcium is so central to our wellbeing, several factors work together to keep our calcium levels stable: the kidneys, the thyroid, the parathyroid glands, the adrenal glands, the bone as a reservoir of calcium, the gastrointestinal tract for absorption and a good, balanced nutrition. The chapter on “Vitamins and Minerals” of Ref.3 points out that 4000 mg of calcium per day definitely causes toxicity (hypercalcemia and milk-alkali syndrome).

Absorption is dose dependent meaning that only 500mg of calcium carbonate is absorbed at a time. Vitamin D3 deficiency leads to reduced calcium absorption. But with high doses of vitamin D3, which is now often recommended, more calcium is absorbed, so it is important not to take too many calcium supplements. They can also interfere with iron and zinc absorption and when more than 2600 mg of calcium is taken magnesium absorption is inhibited as well. Calcium can interfere with thyroid hormone supplements (take 4 hours apart) and may reduce the effect of calcium channel blockers, drugs used for angina or high blood pressure.  There is a balance between calcium stored in bone (99% of total body calcium) and the circulating portion of 1% of calcium in the blood. The parathyroid hormone and calcitonin are also involved in this balance. Hypercalcemia is the condition when calcium is too high. Common causes are the improper use of diuretics (thiazide diuretics), overuse of calcium carbonate supplementation (often for osteoporosis) and overuse of vitamin D3, which increases the absorption of calcium (Ref.3). See your family doctor for blood tests and advice what to do in your case.

4. High protein diets and protein (amino acid) supplements:

Many protein supplements are available through health food stores and vitamin stores. The advertisers often state that our food would be substandard and these supplements would help “to regain strength”.  Athletes hope to get stronger muscles from amino acid supplements because they are the building block for protein that builds up muscles. Fact is that no supplements are needed when you eat balanced meals containing meat and fish and you exercise regularly. The protein in your food will be broken down into amino acids and your body metabolizes this into your own protein. Here is a website that reviews the subject of supplementation with amino acids.

It is clear from this that this is a rather complex problem. Vegetarians may require these supplements to replace protein for the missing meat intake. But the rest of us have to guard ourselves against overdosing with too much meat, amino acids supplements or protein supplements.

High protein diets (Atkins diet and others) have been glorified as being helpful for weight loss. But the long-term effect of such diets lead to chronic kidney damage in those with diabetes and high blood pressure as evidenced by protein leakage in the urine (called ”microalbuminuria”, Ref.4).

According to this reference the average protein requirement is 0.6 g of protein/kg body weight/day. This text comments that this would be compatible with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for protein intake. For a person weighing 140 lbs. this translates into about 50 grams of protein per day. Here is a website that explains the upper limit of meat intake with the example of an 8-ounce portion of top sirloin steak.

Protein supplements have become very popular, but you need to be careful when you supplement with this that you do not get an overdose of amino acids. Amino acid profiling has been useful for physicians and naturopaths to examine deficiencies in children or adults checking for essential amino acids in the blood.  However, in the industrialized countries such as the US, Canada and others the larger concern is now the overuse of meat in our food (e.g. Atkins-like diets) and protein supplements. The same amino acid screening tests will find several of the ingredients (amino acids) in these protein supplements to be too high. In this case it is imperative to stop the protein supplements to prevent amino acid toxicity.

This study warns that not enough is known how performance-enhancing supplements affect the metabolism of the body. There are discussions that perhaps upper limits for amino acid supplements need to be established:

5. Creatine supplementation:

Other supplements of concern are creatine supplementation in the sports-minded and in athletes who want to build up muscle mass. Creatine is synthesized by the liver form amino acids derived from fish and meat that is broken down into the amino acids arginine, glycine and methionine. So, there is no shortage, but athletes and sports minded people want to push the envelope and take in additional creatine that helps their energy metabolism (ATP production) in the muscles to increase their performance (Ref. 5) Creatine is vital for the brain, the heart, the kidneys and the eyes (retina). It is a buffer for lactic acid during anaerobic exercise. Some of the side effects are muscle cramps, diarrhea, fluid retention and kidney failure when exposed to high heat and dehydration. There are no long-term studies of the use of creatine supplements, yet some athletes are taking them long-term.

Conclusion:

We are tempted by various merchants and infomercials to take in more and more vitamins and supplements including protein and amino acid supplements. But when you eat well-balanced meals, preferably organic food, you already have enough protein, nutrients, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin A contained in food. So you may be inadvertently putting a strain on your kidneys that have to eliminate whatever it is that is too much for your body to take. Your liver may also be quietly working overtime as well. Your brain gets overactive by the surplus of amino acids that are utilized by the brain to make brain hormones. Your system can only take so much; at one point a surplus of supplements will make you sick! So, be vigilant and think about what your regular food intake already provides. Do you really need that supplement or do you already get enough from your food intake? Are you falling for some marketing scheme? Remember, you are the steward of your own health!

References:

1.Shannon: Chapter 69: The Vitamins. Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed.© 2007 Saunders

2. Mandell: “Water-Soluble Vitamins”. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed. © 2009 Churchill Livingstone

3. Rakel: Chapter “Disturbances in Calcium and Phosphate” and chapter entitled “Vitamins and Minerals”. Textbook of Family Medicine, 8th ed. © 2011 Saunders

4. “High Dietary Protein Intake” in “Taal: Brenner and Rector’s The Kidney”, 9th ed. © 2011 Saunders

5. DeLee: DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, 3rd ed. © 2009 Saunders

Last edited April 30, 2014

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Dec
01
2008

Climb Stairs And Stay Healthy

Everybody knows that walking from the TV to the fridge does not qualify as exercise, and those few steps to the mailbox don’t do the trick either, when it comes to staying fit. But by the same token it is also a fallacy to believe that only the work-out in the gym will reap benefits and improve aerobic capacity. According to Dr. Philippe Meyer and colleagues at Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland, the mundane task of taking the stairs can show statistically significant changes in aerobic capacity, decrease in body weight, decrease in fat mass, waist circumference, decrease in diastolic blood pressure and increase in heart healthy HDL cholesterol. Dr. Meyer asked 77 healthy hospital workers including 20 physicians to exclusively use the stairs at the 12-storey hospital. During this 12 week quest for more fitness promotional signs encouraged stair climbing. All of those 77 participants were a sedentary group of individuals. Nevertheless they had to walk…the cafeteria was on the twelfth floor! At the baseline the participants walked up and down an average of 4.5 storeys per day, and at the end of the twelve weeks they were walking about 20.6 storeys per day.

Climb Stairs and Stay Healthy

Climb stairs and stay healthy

The tangible results showed that aerobic capacity and fat mass remained significantly improved, even though the participants walked less storeys after 12 weeks. It seems that initial change of habits-walking instead of taking the elevator- had made the difference in the transformation from couch potato to more active individual.

Stair climbing is an excellent exercise for healthy individuals in the general population. This high intensity exercise cannot be recommended to heart patients that are not entirely stable or to a patient who has angina. In these cases caution and a supervised exercise program is needed.

More information about fitness: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

The Medical Post, November 18, 2008, page 17

Last updated Nov. 6, 2014

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Apr
01
2007

Nitroglycerin Patch Helps Premature Babies

Nitroglycerine has been a tried and tested drug for patients who suffer from angina, but the chemical has other benefits: the drug can retard labor and delivery, if a woman is having premature labor. This result comes from research at Queen’s University Perinatal Research Unit at Kingston General Hospital, Canada. Other tocolytics, which is the term for labor delaying drugs, are also on the market showing comparable results, but the nitro patch had an advantage, as it significantly reduced morbidity during the neonatal period.

The researchers worked with 158 women who went into premature labor between 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. In a randomized trial they either received a transdermal patch of nitroglycerine or placebo. If contractions continued an hour after the patch was put on the skin, another one was added. The following day treatment was repeated. Delivery was delayed 10 days for all, and a very significant 23 days for those in labor before 28 weeks. Any prolongation of pregnancy closer to a term delivery is helpful, but the greatest significance applies to those, where labor starts before 28 weeks. This is the group of babies that are most at risk, says lead author Dr. Graeme Smith of Kingston General.

There may be two reasons for the overall benefits of nitroglycerin treatment. On the one hand nitroglycerine protects pregnancy in the most vulnerable group, where the mothers enter labor before 28 weeks. The other aspect may be that the nitro patch may be having effects beyond the labor-delaying properties such as better blood flow in the placenta, as there is enough of the medication that reaches the placenta.

Nitroglycerin Patch Helps Premature Babies

Nitroglycerin Patch Helps Premature Babies

Dr. Smith reports that at this point there is no “gold standard” tocolytic in Canada. Tocolytics have shown little improvement and frequent side effects. Compared to other tocolytic medications the main side effect of the nitro patch has been a mild headache. In most cases it was not necessary to remove the patch. It is estimated that nitroglycerin is now used in about a third of Canadian centers.

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, February 28, 2007, page 5

Last edited December 5, 2012