Omega 3

About Hormones and Hormone Problems

I had just finished a talk, and as usual, folks were milling around looking to get some questions answered. A woman named Nancy steps out of the crowd. She’s in her early 50’s with a whole slew of symptoms that I’ve heard many times before; Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and anxiety. Her moods are swinging like a cheap screen door in a winter storm and loss of libido may end her marriage. She’s carrying an extra 30 pounds of body weight, and no matter how she changes her diet, she can’t drop them.

Hormones and Hormone ProblemsShe, of course, knows it’s her hormones. At least that’s what she tells me. But when I ask her what exactly she means by hormones she really can’t come up with much of an answer. That’s because she has little understanding of what is meant by this catch-all term “hormones”, and Nancy isn’t alone. Women like Nancy come up to me after every presentation that I do. I receive letters, take phone calls, and answer texts and messages on this subject many times a week.

Modern scientific understanding of hormones is over a hundred years old, but do a random survey amongst your non-medical friends to see how many people could really explain what a hormone is and/or what it does. Probably not many, if any. How can we really understand how to address hormone related health issues without having a basic grasp of what these things are and how they work.

In order to understand hormones, we have to understand cells which are best thought of as little extraordinary animals. Each one of these creepy-crawly blobs of goo, so tiny it takes 1000 to make an inch, is studded with hundreds of thousands of sub-microscopic switches called receptors. When these switches are activated, stuff happens.

A hormone is nothing more than a chemical that activates those switches. It’s a bit more complicated in the sense that there are different hormones for different switches and because combinations of hormonal switches get activated simultaneously, but, in essence, it’s just a question of switches and chemicals, i.e. the hormones that activate them.

Because the body’s functions all result from the activities of cells, if it’s happening in the body, it’s happening because of hormones. Hormones can be thought of as messages; the very word “hormone” is Latin for: “I arouse to activity”. That means that we are healthy (or not) because of hormones. In fact, from a physical perspective, we are everything we are because of hormones. To say you have a hormone problem when you are sick is like saying you have a money problem when you’re broke. Or a mechanical problem if your car breaks down. Of course, it’s true, but it’s tautological (saying the same thing twice in different words) and not helpful for taking care of the problem.

We have two major types of hormones. One type is fast-acting and rapidly broken down. These are substances that activate quick biochemical functions such as nerve firings, muscle contractions, and various secretions in response to food or some kind of irritant. These quick acting hormones have names like “prostaglandins” and “leukotrienes,” and they live fast and die young. They allow cells to respond to their environment in a speedy fashion, and they’re quickly broken down. In the brain, these hormone chemicals are called neurotransmitters, and they’re associated with various moods and brain functions.
When most people talk about hormones and hormone problems, most of the time they are referring to the second type, more long acting hormone substances called steroids, typically the so-called male hormone testosterone and the so-called female hormone estrogen. I say “so-called” because it’s somewhat of a misunderstanding to refer to these hormones in this sex-specific fashion as both genders produce both substances. Nonetheless, despite the fact that there are dozens upon dozens of various hormone substances in the body, when women blame their hormones, they’re usually referring to estrogen; likewise, when males talk about theirs, they typically mean testosterone.

So, if you’re a guy or a gal and you want to work on your hormones (testosterone or estrogen), what can you do? Well, probably the most important step you can take to return these two steroid substances back to their appropriate levels and potency is pay attention to intake of fatty foods and fat absorption. Steroid hormones are all derived from cholesterol which is a major component of fat-dense foods like eggs and dairy and organ meats, so making sure you’re getting enough of these types of foods can be helpful. You, of course, want to make sure that you’re absorbing these substances in the intestine as well. That means after you eat your omelet, cheese, and liver, you use digestive enzymes, lecithin, and apple cider vinegar– all of which can improve the body’s ability to absorb and utilize their cholesterol content.

Nutrients can help too. Below are 13 nutritional supplements that can help improve steroid hormone health:

Probiotics – 10 billion units/multiple strains daily
Magnesium Chelate -1000-2000mg daily
B-100 Complex – 2-3 tablets daily
Vitamin C -1000-3000mg daily
Omega-3’s – 1-2 grams daily
Evening Primrose Oil – 1-2 teaspoonsful daily
Zinc Picolinate – 50mg daily
Selenium Chelate -400mcg daily
Vitamin A -20,000 iu daily
Vitamin E -400 iu daily
Vitamin D – Sunlight 5000 iu daily
Pregnenolone -100mg daily
Choline – 100-200mg daily


Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Natural Moisture Factor for Skin

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Mother Nature is nothing if not abundant. Just think of how many birds and bees and blades of grass exist in the natural world. Yet while Lady Gaia epitomizes generosity at the same time she doesn’t waste her wealth. That’s why plants grown with artificial fertilizers and pesticides produce less anti-oxidant and other medicinal and nutritional compounds than those grown organically, free of artificial growth inducing and protective chemicals. They simply don’t need to. Because they’re being protected artificially, they produce less of their own defensive molecules, which form the bulk of what we call phyto-nutrients.

Natural Moisture Factor for SkinLikewise with the skin. Under ordinary conditions, the skin, when healthy, makes its own moisturizing chemicals. Elements including fats (especially something called squalane, which is has many structural similarities to Vitamin A), fatty acids and vitamins as well as water trapping sugars and proteins form a biochemical complex scientists call the Natural Moisture Factor (NMF) which keeps water trapped in the skin. But if you use a typical standard issue moisturizing cream or lotion, which is composed of wax and oils that function to seal in moisture, the less NMF your skin will need to produce. That means, the more moisturizer you use on your skin, the less natural moisture factors your skin will need to produce and ultimately the drier your skin will be. In other words, the best way to assure yourself of needing a moisturizing product, is to use one!

The best strategy for keeping skin moist and hydrated is to make sure that you’re ingesting nutrients and raw materials that help the skin make the Natural Moisture Factor. Your diet should include plenty of fatty foods including olives, sardines, salmon and coconut oil. One of the quickest ways to create “xerodermia” (dry skin) is to go on a low-fat or fat free diet. Essential fatty acids, so-called Omega-6s and Omega-3s can help too. 10 to 20 grams of Omega-6 and 3 to 6 grams of Omega-3 are probably enough. You can get what you need with a daily dose of 6-12 capsules of a quality EFA product like Youngevity’s Ultimate EFAs or 2-3 tablespoonsful of a nutritional EFA oil such as Udo’s Blend. And don’t forget about Vitamin A. As anyone who has used Accutane (which works by suppressing Vitamin A activity) can tell you, depriving the body of this key vitamin will guarantee skin dryness. Use 20,000 international units a day. Make sure you’re getting quality protein too, especially from whey and egg both of which contain the amino acids that form a critical part of the NMF.

Topically, your best bet is to use substances that are already in the skin. These are more likely to be absorbed and utilized and at the same they are less likely to cause a suppressant effect on the NMF. Topical squalane which is typically derived from shark liver or olives is wonderful, although it may be a bit heavy for some. Vitamin A and a special form of Vitamin C with a fatty consistency can be very effective as well. Hyaluronic acid has potent water-trapping properties and can be an effective hydrating substance, and likewise for long-chain sugar molecules that are found in seaweed, aloe and noni. You can purchase dried seaweed products like Nori or Kelp or Kombu and hydrate them with some aloe or noni juice and make your own moisture restoring mask.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Skin Care

Omega-3 Supplements

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

A couple of weeks ago in a study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and plastered all over the internet and the mainstream media,  investigators found that that was correlation between prostate cancer and high levels of an essential fatty acid derivative  called DHA.

Here’s my take:

Omega-3 SupplementsFats are like women, they’re complicated!  Highly complicated!   Thus, to make sense of the nonsense associated with the incendiary headlines like: “Fish oil supplements linked to prostate cancer” (Health News) and “Men who take omega-3 supplements at 71 percent higher risk of prostate cancer” (NY Daily News) or “Omega-3 supplements may trigger prostate cancer” (Nursing Times) we have to digress slightly and talk about fats and fatty acid supplements.

In the world of nutrition there’s different kinds fats (technically called “lipids”), classes of fats you might say.  For example there are plant lipids like beta carotene and bioflavonoids, which are nutritional terms most people have heard of, and you’ll find fat soluble compounds like phytoestrogens and resins in vegetation as well as the fatty vitamins D, E,A and K.

Then there the fatty acids.  There’s a bunch of them but two stand out in importance.  And the reason they stand out is because they are “essential”.    That means that along with amino acids and vitamins and minerals, these two very special types of acid made out of fat must be ingested on a regular basis at the risk of facing significant health challenges including the biggies: heart disease and cancer .  They’re called essential fatty acids, we know them as Omega-3 and Omega-6 and by definition, they are absolute requirements in the human diet.  You’re dead in the water without them and heading in the direction and degeneration and disease to the degree you’re deficient.  Your brain is especially dependent on them as is the blood and circulatory system.  Every single cell in the body contains appreciable amounts of EFAs, mostly omega-6s, except for the nervous system and the eyes which contain large amount of the omega-3 variety and their derivatives.

In the JAMA article what was noticed was a relationship between high blood levels of a specific breakdown product of Omega-3 called DHA and the incidence of prostate cancer.  Now DHA is vital stuff.   It’s an especially important part of the brain and eyes.   In fact, right now, as you read this article, light from the page you’re looking at is hitting your eyes and activating the DHA embedded in the eye cell membranes, which in turn is causing chemical reactions that create the visual experience in your brain.  The world we see is literally constructed out of DHA (at least partially) right now.

But here’s the catch:  DHA is very active.  What makes it so potent is its very activity.  In the world of nutrition, activity is always associated with instability and from a health perspective instability is not necessarily a good thing.  This is why oils are so problematic.  They’re volatile and fragile.  Remember we said fats are complicated.  You need them but you have to be careful!   This combination of instability and potency must be accounted for with balancing and protecting nutrients.  In other words, you don’t want to ingest high levels of one fat with corresponding balancing FATS and balancing NUTRIENTS.   For example you don’t want to be using Vitamin A without Vitamin D.  And Vitamin E should to be stabilized with selenium, alpha lipoic acid Vitamin C.   And when it comes to Omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids EFAs, they need to be taken together and they need to be balanced with each other.   Most nutritionists recommend 3 parts Omega-6 fatty acids for every one part Omega-3 fatty acids.  And, all EFAs should always be taken with protective 400 i.u of Vitamin E.   In the case of DHA, Omega-6s, Vitamin E and A and selenium all work together to shield this sensitive and vulnerable nutritional lipid.  In the JAMA study, the only parameter that was measured was DHA levels.  Were these patients using Vitamin E, selenium?  We don’t know.  How about Vitamin A and alpha lipoic acid?  Again, we don’t know.    How about balancing Omega 6’s and Omega 3’s?  Once again, we don’t know.   And, without this information, any causal conclusions drawn between this important fish oil component and development cancer must be considered dubious at best.

The most significant flaw the JAMA study was the fact that investigators examined patients who already had cancer!   And, some of the men had a family history of prostate cancer, a known risk factor for carcinogenesis.  This was a population of men who were prostate cancer cases waiting to happen.  We don’t know if the existing cancer caused elevations in DHA or if it was that the DHA that resulted in the cancer.  Or if there’s any correlation at all.   In other words, the two factors (high plasma DHA and prostate cancer) may be completely UN-related.

Even worse, the tests were one-time-only each patient and measured only the blood plasma content of DHA.  Plasma levels fluctuate and vary.  A fish sandwich eaten an hour prior to a blood test would cause an elevated DHA score even if a patient had never eaten seafood or ingested fish oil before or since.  That means that elevated DHA measurements merely provided a one-time picture of what was in the body, temporarily, at the moment the blood was drawn and in no way indicative of how much DHA a person was getting and storing!   Of course, no one thought to check what these patients were eating, when they were eating it or what kind and how much DHA or fish oil supplements they were using.  In fact, despite the alarming headlines no one knows if they were even using fish oil supplements at all!

Finally, a quick internet search will reveal numerous studies that associate fish oil and DHA with a decreased risk of cancer.  In one for example, from Tuscia University in Italy, researchers concluded that:  “DHA can exert antitumor activity” and can function as “an effective adjuvant in cancer chemotherapy”.   In another study from the University of California at Davis researchers showed that “omega-3 dietary fatty acids (fish oil) reduce the risk of…cancers” although “the mechanisms by which these omega-3 lipids inhibit… (tumor formation)…are poorly understood”.  And in yet another study, published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology in January of this year investigators found that “DHA inhibited (cancer) cell migration, a marker of metastasis and that stated that  “DHA, a ω-3 fatty acid, could play a beneficial inhibition of the incidence and progress of a series of human including cancer (italics mine)”.

The bottom line and incontrovertible, undeniable fact remains that Omega-3 fatty acids are essential.  That means they’re required for health and survival.  There are NOT optional.  And, while their instability and thus their potential for becoming degraded and perhaps unhealthy is  equally undeniable, given their  must-have nature, that simply means they must used with great care, with balancing nutrients and with as little heat and processing as possible.  And any studies that suggest avoiding these vital substances need to be examined closely and in my opinion, with skepticism.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

What Really Causes Cancer?

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

What Really Causes Cancer There is no more significant unknown Nobel laureate in the world of health than Dr. Otto Warburg. This brilliant German biochemist, who garnered the prize in 1931 for his work with respiratory (oxygen) enzymes, clearly demonstrated the distinguishing feature of all cancers as being changes in cellular respiration.

What this means is Dr. Warburg discovered that deficiencies in oxygen make cells cancerous. The fundamental property, according to his well researched findings, of cancer tumors are disorders of oxygen utilization. Cancer cells are normal cells that are suffocating.

Two of the best ways to improve cellular oxygen are to take generous quantities of Omega 6 and Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids, which function as storage and transport forms for oxygen. And, make sure your breathing deeply and powerfully whenever possible.

Otto Heinrich Warburg (October 8, 1883 – August 1, 1970), son of physicist Emil Warburg, was a German physiologist, medical doctor and Nobel laureate. He served as an officer in the elite Ulan (cavalry regiment) during the First World War, and won the Iron Cross (1st Class) for bravery. Warburg was one of the 20th century’s leading biochemists. He won the Nobel Prize of 1931. In total, he was nominated an unprecedented three times for the Nobel prize for three separate achievements. [Wikipedia]

Warburg Hypothesis
The Warburg Theory of Cancer or “Warburg hypothesis” (as distinguished from the Warburg effect) postulates that the driver of tumorigenesis is an insufficient cellular respiration caused by insult to mitochondria. The Warburg Effect describes the observation that cancer cells, and many cells grown in-vitro, exhibit glucose fermentation even when enough oxygen is present to properly respire. In other words, instead of fully respiring in the presence of adequate oxygen, cancer cells ferment. The current popular opinion is that cancer cells ferment glucose while keeping up the same level of respiration that was present before the process of carcinogenesis, and thus the Warburg Effect would be defined as the observation that cancer cells exhibit glycolysis with lactate secretion and mitochondrial respiration even in the presence of oxygen. [Wikipedia]

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health