Vitamin C

The Health of Hair Depends on Internal Nutrients. Hair is Dead!

By Ben Fuchs | PharmacistBen

The Health of Hair Depends on Internal Nutrients. Hair is dead!

(PharmacistBen) Hair is dead! By the time the skin appendage has left its hidden home and birthplace in the follicle, and becomes a visible strand of substance, it is nothing more than a hard shell. Because this shell is largely composed only of dead cells filled with protein, the same stuff that makes up human fingernails as well a horse hoofs and rhino horns, trying to enhance hair’s appearance and texture with topical products is like putting lipstick on a corpse. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try!

Throughout history luxurious locks have been honored as a sign of fertility, virility, overall vigor and well-being. Men and women around the world have used a wide range of materials to improve its appearance. From ingredients, like the olive oil infused dead lizards or boiled bulls blood (!) used by ancient Egyptians and Greeks, to the more sophisticated high tech chemicals with difficult to pronounce monikers, like “quaternary ammonium complexes” and “polysiloxanes”, all manner of substances synthetic, natural, benign and toxic have been applied to the tresses to encourage growth, shine, thickness and bounce among other desirable characteristics.

Hair is mostly made up of protein. That’s why the more popular hair care ingredients found in modern shampoos and conditioners are the chemically modified extracts of protein-rich grain and seeds. These derivatives purport to enter into the surface of the nonliving hair shaft to provide support and protection by filling in gaps and repairing microscopic defects. Most include an amino acid called “cysteine”. Cysteine contains a little piece of sulfur, the element that is responsible for hair’s resilience and strength. From a quantum chemistry perspective the electronic nature of sulfur makes it very magnetic. It holds on to things and doesn’t let them go, like a really powerful heavy duty magnet. This micro-magnetic grip creates hardness on the macro level. Thus defining cysteine’s role in strengthening the hair shaft (as well as bone, joints and cartilage).

There are various ways manufacturers can leverage the power of cysteine for their hair care products. While you’ll rarely see the actual amino itself listed on your product’s ingredient deck, what you will often find is some kind hydrolyzed protein. Whether it’s from wheat, barley, soy or some other plant product, these hydrolyzed proteins, which contain a significant amount of the hair hardening amino acid, can, theoretically at least, be released and delivered into the hair shaft as your shampoo or conditioner is being applied.

The major cysteine containing protein in the hair (and for that matter in nails and skin) is called “keratin” and oftentimes shampoos and conditioners manufacturers will include it as an ingredient in their formulations. L’Oréal, Jason and TRESemme among other companies all have hair products that feature keratin and there’s also hair styling products that have keratin in them. If you do a google search for keratin and shampoo, you’ll find over 5 million hits and if you just take a walk through the shampoo section at Walmart or your favorite grocery store you’ll find dozens of shampoos with names like Keranique and Keralique and Suave with keratin as well as keratin hair oils and keratin conditioners.

Do they work? Probably not. Remember, hair is dead and while keratin is composed of cysteine it isn’t going to be able do much to permanently change the quality of hair by simply applying it topically via a shampoo or conditioner. Keratin containing hair products are more about marketing and misinformation than actual keratin effects; at best keratin may soften hair a little bit by acting as a moisturizer. It’s possible that keratin may get deposited in the hair shaft allowing for a temporary strengthening effect, although that too is unlikely.

In the salon world hair stylists CAN make use of keratin and cysteine in a product called the Brazilian Blowout, which is basically a hair straightening treatment utilizing heat and cysteine that breaks and reforms the protein bonds in curly frizzy hair, turning it into smooth straight hair that can last for weeks. Previously most hair relaxers and straighteners simply used heat with a very harsh “alkalinizer” like lye and potassium hydroxide. As it turns out, by using cysteine, typically in in the form of keratin, Brazilian blowout and similar products manage to avoid the use of harsh chemicals and still achieve good hair straightening results. However in recent years it has come to the attention of the FDA and OSHA and other researchers that the Brazilian Blowout product actually achieved their fantastic results with formaldehyde, a not very pleasant carcinogenic chemical that’s used to preserve corpses. An OSHA study found 60 times the allowable level of Formaldehyde in one Brazilian blowout product, which comprised, at least according to OSHA, 12 % of the product. That’s a lot of formaldehyde! In any case whether or not there is formaldehyde in these kinds of products, hair straightening is by its very nature an aggressive procedure, because the hair’s natural cysteine bonds are so darn strong it takes really aggressive treatments to break them.

Ultimately, like everything else in the body, the health of hair depends on internal nutrients that are ingested, digested and delivered through the blood. That means eating cysteine is a way more important and better option for taking care of your tresses than applying it directly to your hair. Once a hair pokes out of a follicle on the head it is dead tissue. Now that’s not to say that nothing can be done with the appearance of the hair once it leaves the scalp. While it may not be living tissue, it is porous and can absorb certain materials from topical products to improve its appearance. But if your hair doesn’t seem to be healthy, if it’s limp or brittle and dry, you are probably dealing with an internal issue more than a topical hair issue.

Most importantly, hair structure depends on protein, especially the sulfur containing proteins found largely in animal foods, dairy (especially whey), eggs fish and meats. For vegetarians, beans and grains can provide sulfur proteins. Consider using digestive enzymes and apple cider vinegar with protein foods to help release the amino acids and make them more accessible to the hair making cells in the scalp. Using supplements like NAC (as a source of cysteine) and MSM (readily usable sulfur) as supplements can contribute to the pool or raw material for making hair, without violating vegetarian vows. Follicular health depends on Vitamin C, so make sure you’re eating lots of veggies and citrus fruits. You might want to think about supplementing with a gram or two on a daily basis. The B-vitamins, most especially biotin and pantothenic acid has historically been recognized as important for improving cellular energy. Because hair growth is typically rapid, improving the energy levels of follicular cells may provide significant benefits. No nutrient is more important for the hair than zinc, which not only stimulates its synthesis and growth inside the hair follicle, but also helps balance out the excess male hormones that are associated with hair thinning and loss. Zinc is also involved in hundreds of different biochemical reactions associated with health. Using 50mhg a day of the picolinate form (Zinc Picolinate) will not only keep hair healthy but can also provide general salutatory benefits for the whole body.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

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

Fibromyalgia Latin for “Muscle Fiber Pain”

Fibromyalgia Latin for “Muscle Fiber Pain”

The location of the nine paired tender points that comprise the 1990 American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia.

The first thing I think about when I hear the dreaded diagnosis is something one of my professors in pharmacy school used to talk about at least once a semester. A diagnosis is a definition and not disease. What he meant was the nomenclature associated with some type of bodily dysfunction is nothing more than a moniker and designation. It tells nothing about what is occurring in the body or how to address it; it simply names it.
Fibromyalgia is the Latin term for “muscle fiber pain”. That means when you go to your doctor complaining of muscle pain and you leave with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, what your medical guru is basically doing is taking your complaint, translating it to a medieval dialect, giving you a pain medication or maybe an anti-depressant (!) and then billing you. This is a textbook example of how the medical model works. It can’t do anything real, but it can officiate your symptomology by sanctifying it with a Latin moniker.

It reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. As you’ll recall at the end of the flick, the scarecrow, with a head filled with nothing but straw, travels far and wide to find the magical wizard (doctor) who, it was said, could miraculously create for him a brain. As it turns out however, the wizard (doctor) is nothing but a fraud, and while he can’t deliver him any gray matter, he can give him something that, where he comes from, re-presents a brain. A diploma! In other words instead of giving his patient anything real, he gives him a piece of paper that supposedly symbolizes something real. Sounds a lot like the medical model to me!
So what to do if you are dealing with muscle fiber pain i.e. fibromyalgia? Well, as turns out you can actually do a lot. That’s because fibromyalgia represents toxicity, specifically blood toxicity. In 1990, Dr. John Couvaras, a fertility physician from Phoenix, discovered that women given an injection of the blood thinner heparin to improve circulatory problems associated with infertility reported that their fibromyalgia symptoms were dramatically reduced. He subsequently developed the “Hypercoagulation Theory of Fibromyalgia” that postulated that sticky, coagulated blood, following toxicity, results in the deposition of clotting proteins and other poisons in the muscle that eventually results in the classic pain syndrome associated with fibromyalgia. And where does that toxicity come from in the first place? Typically, the liver and the ultimately the small intestine. Here’s what happens:

The small intestine is the home of the “microbiome”, trillions of bacterial cells made up of many hundreds of strains. The numbers and types and exact proportions of these bacterial strains are tightly regulated. If there are long standing digestive health issues, especially in the processing of fats, over time these proportions get thrown off and the wrong types of bacterial strains can proliferate. Medical folks call this “dysbiosis” or “SIBO” (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). Because these bacteria are constantly secreting waste material, eventually the body will mount an immune (defensive) response and an inflammatory reaction will ensue. As this progresses eventually the blood can become contaminated. And the major blood response to this kind of contamination is clotting.
To compound the problem the healthy microbiome is involved in estrogen metabolism. When dysbiosis occurs, estrogen is not broken down correctly and toxic byproducts can build up. Usually the liver can handle these byproducts, but under conditions of long term bacterial and estrogenic toxicity, this critical detox organ can become overload and even more poisons can enter into the blood. Thus fibromyalgia should be regarded as the final result of estrogenic and digestive system toxicity following long term dysbiosis.

So if you are dealing with the pain and misery of fibromyalgia here’s what you want to do: First of all correct digestive problems. Look for problem foods i.e. foods that cause any digestive distress (heartburn bloating cramps, loose stools, constipation etc.) and eliminate them. Get on a good probiotic supplement (I like Youngevity’s BioLumin Nightly Essence) and eat lots of fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kim chee and fermented beets. You can make your own fermented veggies pretty easily, basically by mashing or cutting up veggies and adding some bacterial starter and salt. And use a good probiotic supplement on a regular basis and make sure you use a product that has multiple bacterial strains. Use digestive enzymes and apple cider vinegar after all meals, especially ones that contain lots of fat. And, taking digestive enzymes on an empty stomach can have blood thinning effects that can improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Practice calorie restriction (eating less) and take a food holiday (fast) once a week or so. Use essential fatty acid supplements which can support estrogen metabolism. Consider estrogen balancing supplements like Vitamin A (20,000 iu a day), Vitamin E (400 iu a day) and pregnenolone (100mg a day). And applying a progesterone cream 5-7 days a week cream can be helpful too.
10 other interesting supplements that may help improve fibromyalgia symptoms:

Melatonin-4-6 mg at bedtime
Theanine-100-500mg daily
Magnesium Glycinate-2000mg daily
Vitamin C -1000-5000mg daily
N-Acetyl Cysteine- 500mg daily
Vitamin E-(mixed tocopherols) – 400 iu daily
Selenium-200-400mcgdaily
Cetyl Myristoleate -100-500mg daily
Malic Acid – 1000mg a day
Sam-E – 100-200mg daily

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Destroying Cancer Cells

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Cancer is a sign of a body, tissues and cells that have been abused for decades. And, because cancer cells are OUR very own cells (dysfunctional, delinquent, and perverted as they may be), anything that “kills” cancer cells is in essence suicide medicine that ultimately kills the very body it is supposedly healing! That’s why chemotherapy is such a miserable experience and is rarely effective. The idea of using supplements to address what is essentially a trashed out biological system (I don’t mean to be mean or graphic, but think putrid, fetid, stinky landfill) is naive and simplistic, and like trying to eliminate the horrific smell of a sewage dump with a stick of incense. And herbal formulas like Hoxsey, Essiac and Cantron (which bills itself as an “amazing bio-electrical wellness formulation”) etc., while generally non-toxic, are not much more effective.

Destroying Cancer CellsHealthy cells become cancer cells as a survival mechanism in response to long-term deprivation of oxygen and energizing nutrients which leads to an inability to produce energy AND eliminate toxins. The net result is a starved, suffocated, and toxic cell and ultimately multiple cells, then tissues and organs. The hallmark signs of a cell gone cancerous, i.e. rapid chaotic growth/division and the greedy utilization of sugar and nutrients, represent a cell’s desperate attempt to survive under conditions of toxicity, nutrient deficiency and oxygen deprivation.

Because this process takes many years to develop, reversal while certainly possible (according to medical researcher Anthony Campbell www.acampbell.org.uk over 20 research articles on spontaneous remissions are available on Medline), for the most part effectively addressing the scourge of cancer requires converting the body’s biochemical environs to a state that is non-conducive to carcinogenesis. Thus, hawking herbs and supplements or dispensing medical poison to “cure” the condition by (supposedly) destroying cancer cells is ignorant at best and exploitative and predatory at worst. Not that there aren’t charlatans and hucksters everywhere who will be glad to exploit the sick, scared, desperate, innocent, and gullible by selling “magic” cancer-“killing” formulas. As always Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware)!

On the other hand, using supplements (especially intravenously), food/diet, oxygenation, and other health strategies are important for providing the body with what it needs to maintain its health, vigor, immunity and defense systems. This includes the use of vitamin C, glutathione-building NAC and glutamine, organic cold-processed whey protein, fermented foods, probiotics, and essential fats. Also, The Mighty 90 essential nutrients, fasting, CRON (Calorie Restriction Optimum Nutrition) Diet, laying off sugar and processed supermarket and restaurant foods are also advisable.

Bottom line: if you are dealing with cancer or any other degenerative state, rather than thinking of killing or curing, consider supplementing and making lifestyle choices (including spiritual, mental and emotional techniques) and doing what it takes to create a healthy body and biochemical environment in a manner that is no different than addressing the needs of a well body that is not confronted with a disease condition.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Half an Avocado

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

This past November’s issue of the highly regarded publication ”Nutritional Journal” has a cool article about avocados. It quotes a study (entitled, somewhat awkwardly, “A Randomized Crossover Study to Evaluate the Effect of Haas Avocado Intake on Post-Ingestive Satiety and Insulin Levels and Subsequent Energy Intake in Overweight Adults “!) that compared the effects of adding a fresh avocado to a lunchtime meal to the effects of eating a standard non-avocado-including lunch. Scientists were looking to see how avocado consumption would influence blood sugar and insulin responses, and satisfaction and further food intake.Half an Avocado The researchers, from the Department of Nutrition at Loma Linda University found that participants who added half an avocado to their lunch reported a significantly decreased desire to eat by 40 percent over a three hour period and 28 percent over a five hour period compared to their desire to eat after a standard, non-avocado-containing lunch. Even more significantly, their satisfaction was long lasting. Three hours after eating participants reported increased satisfaction by 26 percent. And the avocados didn’t throw off blood sugar. According to Dr. Joan Sabat who led the research team “…there was no increase in blood sugar levels beyond what was observed after eating the standard lunch”.

So what is it that makes avocados so satisfying? Well, aside from the fiber and the nutrients which are always satiety-inducing, probably the most hunger busting element of the succulent green fruit are the fats. Avocados are among the plant world’s most lipid-dense products, containing significant amounts of both saturated and unsaturated fats. According to the USDA, 1 cup of avocado contains over 4 teaspoons of fat. What’s more, it’s got nearly 3 grams of protein (about as much as half an egg) and nearly 25 percent of the RDA of Vitamin C. And, next to zero calories derived from sugar! Considering that kind of nutritional payoff, it’s no wonder that avocados have been farmed for millennia. They’re one of the oldest cultivated fruits; Central American farmers have been growing them since 8000 BC.

The most common avocado is the Hass variety, it comprises over 75 percent of the US avocado crop, which is located and largely concentrated in California, Florida and Hawaii and boasts business of nearly half a billion dollars annually. Other varieties include the oversized Florida Fuerte avocado that’s less fatty and gram for gram lower in calories than the venerable Haas, and the cocktail avocado which is pitless, and as tasty and delicious as it is difficult to peel and hard to find.

Did you know you can prevent avocados from browning by sprinkling the flesh with a little lime or lemon juice?
Use lots of Celtic Sea Salt on raw, fresh avocados. The salt and avocado fats will act synergistically to amplify the distinctive tastes and subtle flavors of the rich, buttery fruit.
Can’t wait to eat your hard avocado? You can hasten it’s ripening by putting it in a paper bag. The bag will trap ethylene oxide, a ripening-inducing gas that is emitted by the tasty fruit as it ages. Make sure you keep the bag in a dark cool area and you check your avocado regularly or you may end up making guacamole!

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Skin Care and the Cosmaceutical

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The skin care business is, like many other businesses, steeped in and dependent on consumerism and marketing. Rather than having real effects, products have come to rely much more on sizzle. Many purchases are the result of nothing more than hype, and buying decisions are often functions of ignorance and advertising. The world of cosmetic products, as we know it today, was birthed in the late 19th and early 20th century. At the same time business enterprises were beginning to understand Freudian psychological theories of human motivations and buying behaviors, and how to use them to exploit and manipulate consumer minds and emotions. No business has leveraged human desires and vulnerabilities via sales and advertising more than the business of beauty. We are endlessly manipulated and contorted into spending our hard earned cash via celebrity sales pitches and the recommendations of dubious department store “advisors”.

Skin Care and the CosmaceuticalBut that all changed with the active ingredients dubbed “cosma-ceuticals” which worked as powerfully as prescriptions but were only regulated as cosmetics. The father of the cosmaceutical, Dr. Albert Kligman coined the term to distinguish inactive and superficial ingredients from those that went “…beyond mere camouflage…” and could achieve real and often long-term results. While it’s true that everything including water will inevitably alter the skin in some way, only true cosmaceuticals can provide the kind of performance most consumers expect, and are (mis-)led to believe, they’ll get when they purchase and apply their cream, lotion, toner and treatment skin care preparations and products.

The retinoids, Vitamin A molecules, were the first cosmaceutical substances and, to this day, are the most effective. These were followed by alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are low pH extracts from fruit and plant materials that can achieve dramatic anti-aging and skin re-texturing effects. Then, most recently, a class of actives called peptides which affect the structure of the skin like a “-ceutical”, but that were intended to beautify like a “cosma-“, have become all the rage. The most important and the gold standard of peptides is a substance called “Matrixyl”.

The bottom line is, if you’re looking for skin care that works, look for cosmaceuticals. While the vast majority of products that you put on your skin are ineffective and inactive, using real cosmaceutical actives will allow you to bypass the standard, “extract-from-a-melon-that-grows-of-the-coast-of-France” type ingredients that you hear about on infomercials and promoted by movie stars. Retinoids, (retinol and retinoic acid primarily) and alpha hydroxy acids are cosmaceutical elements that really work. And Vitamin C, in its fat-soluble (the proper term is “lipophilic”) format, is one of the most effective topicals you could ever use. In fact, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and alpha hydroxy acids, (which include glycolic, lactic, citric, malic, and acetic acids), are the most important active ingredients and ones that everyone over the age 40 (or even 30) should be applying on a regular basis. I call them “The Big 3”: lipophilic Vitamin C, Vitamin A and AHAs, and they should be the core ingredients of any anti aging skin care program. And for the consumer who wants everything, consider adding in a peptide containing product, ideally one that contains proven and time-tested ingredient like Matrixyl.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Skin Care

Bad Drugs

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

There are a lot of bad drugs out there. Calcium channel blockers can prevent cells from using calcium an important nerve conducting mineral. Not good! Steroid drugs like prednisone suppress the immune system making the body more susceptible to infections. They also suppress growth and repair and can accelerate the development of degenerative disease. Antibiotics impair gut health, diuretics induce the loss of precious minerals like zinc and selenium and magnesium, and anti-osteoporosis drugs like Fosamax and Boniva can cause a horrible jaw affliction called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), which is basically a rapid decay and death of the jawbone. According to lawyers for ONJ victims, the potential connection of incidences the jawbone disease to the use these types of drugs was not unknown to manufacturers of the medications who are currently being targeted by a class action investigation as well as multiple individual injury lawsuits.

Bad DrugsAmong the most toxic classes of drugs are the beta blockers. These drugs work by suppressing (blocking) the nerves that activate cardiac muscle. Technically, they block the “beta” nerves which are a component of the electrical enervation system of the heart. And that’s why doctors love these things so much. They slow down the heart. And what’s so great about slowing down the heart? Well, the way the medical model professionals look at it, by slowing down the electrical activity of the heart you can slow down pumping action thereby reducing the pressure of blood flow. That’s why if you go to your doctor and get diagnosed with hypertension, the odds are pretty good you’re going to leave the office with a prescription for a beta blocking drug like atenolol or propranolol or metoprolol. Doctors also love to use beta blocking drugs for arrhythmias and tachycardias, both of which can be caused by high heart muscle activity. In the addled and convoluted logic of iatrochemical health care (using dugs to create health), shutting down the heart is a good thing because it can slow down hyperactivity and lower blood pressure by reducing pumping action

And if you have a heart attack you can also expect to get put on a beta blocking drug and not just temporarily. Doctors feel that dumbing down the heart by reducing its pumping strength can reduce post heart attack mortality, and many heart attack patients are told they will have to take their beta blocking heart toxic drug for the rest of their lives. If you have pulmonary disease in addition to a history of heart attacks it’s almost a guarantee,. According to an article from the New England Journal of Medicine 90 percent of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) patients who have had a myocardial infarction (heart attack) are put on beta blocking drugs.

If you’ve had a heart attack and you don’t want to submit to a medical mugging and doctor drugging and prescription poisoning, you can always relax the heart and strengthen cardiac contractions using dietary and nutritional strategies. Deep breathing (inhalation and exhalation) can slow and strengthen heart muscle contraction. Magnesium 1000-2000mg a day can help. Lithium Orate (10mg a day), GABA (500mg at night), CoQ10 (100mg a day), and Vitamin C (5000mg a day), and the B-complex can all provide significant cardiac relaxation effects too. Finally, cortisol can cause a quick jolt of cardiac activity. And nothing will amp up cortisol faster than a rapid rise in insulin and the subsequent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). That means, for all, if you’re dealing with a cardiac health issue, you’d be well advised to stay away from cereals, breads, pasta, and refined flours and sugar and other insulin spiking foods that can induce hypoglycemia.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Toxic

Lupus is a Disease of the Immune System

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Lupus is a non-tissue specific (it can show up in many parts of the body) autoimmune disease with broad based symptoms, the most common of which is a butterfly shaped pattern of redness that appears on the face. At one time physicians used to believe it was caused by a bite from a wolf (lupus is the Latin word for “wolf). Today doctors and other medical geniuses will tell you that there is no known cause, but I’m only a simple little pharmacist so I’m going to tell you that there is. Lupus is a disease of the immune system. It represents a characteristic immune system malfunction called autoimmunity, which simply means the body’s defensive chemistry turns on itself (auto = “self”). According to the Lupus Foundation website the symptoms of lupus “mysteriously” show up. They claim that they are “devoted to solving the mystery of lupus”. Oh really? Well, perhaps they should listen to The Bright Side where we talk about the real causes of lupus and other autoimmune diseases, which is quite obviously a jacked up and malfunctioning immune system. The only mystery is what exactly is it that is causing this hyperactive and misguided immune initiation.

Lupus is a Disease of the Immune System

Drawing of the typical “butterfly rash” found in lupus. By National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Ok, good question. What is it that causes a confused defensive response? That is, a defensive response that instead of focusing its wrath on an enemy instead turns its considerable biochemical firepower on the organism that it’s supposed to be defending. Well, in order to answer that question we have to understand where in the organism the immune system is located.
The vast majority of the immune system, anywhere from 70 to 80 percent, is located in a specialized tissue of the digestive tract. It’s technically called “Gastro Intestinal Lymphoid Tissue”, or GALT, and it’s responsible for initiating all immune responses to troublesome foods that pass through the digestive tube called the intestine. The most significant GALT response involves increasing the permeability of the digestive lining thereby allowing immune cells, which live in the blood, to have access to said troublesome food.

Unfortunately this permeability of the digestive lining is a two way street. In addition to allowing immune system cells to enter into the intestine from the blood, it unfortunately also permits food particles to enter into the blood from the intestine. Big problem!

Once food particles enter into the blood, a second defensive response is then initiated within the blood. And now we really have problems! The immune system is intelligent; it learns and “remembers”. Foods have a chemical constituency and the immune cells learn to respond to and can “remember” the specific chemical constituency of a food particle. Once the offending food structure is “remembered”, the immune system will become activated by ANY similar chemical structure. In other words, it will attack any substances with that same or a similar chemical constituency. Because chemical constituencies are consistent throughout nature and biology, there are many organs and systems in the body that “look” like foods that the immune system has learned to react to. The immune system will then react to those tissues too. If, for example, the immune system learns to react to a chemical structure in hamburger particles that have entered in to the blood AND those hamburger chemical structures are similar to patterns of chemicals in the skin, the immune cells can (cross-) react to the skin, in addition to hamburger. Thus will be born an autoimmune disease of the skin perhaps psoriasis or vitiligo or scleroderma. If you’re eating soy and a defensive response is triggered, the immune system can learn to respond that troublesome legume’s chemical makeup. Soy’s chemical structure may resemble the structure of the thyroid, which can then become a victim of the immune activity that was supposed to be defending the body from soy. That’s called autoimmune disease of the thyroid, or Hashimoto’s Disease, which is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. If you eat bread or pasta and a wheat particle get into the blood, the immune system can learn to react to the chemical makeup of the wheat particle. Wheat particles may resemble the chemical structure of the intestine, and voila, autoimmune disease of the intestinal lining which is known as Celiac Disease. Sometimes learned immune reactions to food can affect connective tissue which provides structural support for everything in the body. If this occurs the disease is given the term “lupus”, which is essentially an autoimmune disease that can affect anything, including the joints, kidneys, lungs, blood and heart. In other words lupus can be a big autoimmunity mess!

If you’ve been diagnosed with lupus (or any other auto immune disease) there are NO curative medications. But that’s not a problem because immune system issues need not be medical issues. By definition, an immune health condition is a defensive (immune) response to an offending agent. An immune (and autoimmune) disease means we’re doing something that is activating the immune system. Best bet is to figure out what the heck we’re doing to activate the immune system and then STOP DOING IT! Clue: it usually involves food. Eliminate foods that cause any digestive distress. Using nutrition to build up the digestive tract is also important. Probiotics are always helpful. Glutamine powder can help rebuild the digestive lining, and polysaccharides from aloe, noni and ocean vegetation can have a wonderful soothing and supporting effect for digestive tissue. And strengthening the immune system with Vitamins E, C, and A; and minerals like selenium and zinc is a good idea for any autoimmune or immune health condition.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Osteoporosis, Blood Sugar and Insulin

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Osteoporosis is a textbook example of degenerative disease and affects nearly one out of 8 people in this country, mostly women. Degenerative disease is the leading cause of illness in this country, and a condition that affects nearly 70 percent of Americans. While awareness of the condition has increased dramatically over the last few years, which has seemed to lower the incidence of this potentially life threatening disease, it continues to escalate steadily in this country, and around the world.

Osteoporosis

By James Heilman, MD, via Wikimedia Commons

These days, even the most nutritionally obtuse person can tell you that taking calcium supplements can help strengthen the bone. More sophisticated aware nutrition minded folks may tell you about Magnesium and Vitamin D, and a so-called expert may even mention the importance of Vitamin K, zinc, and protein.
However, one of most significant keys to dealing with osteoporosis involves blood sugar and insulin, and hardly anyone ever addresses the importance of these two key health markers. Yet, in an article published in Annals of Endocrinology from December 2012, researchers bluntly remarked that “Diabetic osteoporosis (OP) is increasingly recognized as a significant co-morbidity of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2-DM)” , and further stated ”…elderly patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus are prone to develop OP. The insufficiency of insulin, the decreased insulin sensitivity….is important causes for OP in the patients with type 2 diabetes.”

Dysglycemia (a fancy way of saying messed up blood sugar) is tragic, and pervasive biochemical pathology with involvement in almost all degenerative disease. But, because blood sugar and insulin can be manipulated and controlled by our food choices, for better or worse, this is actually good news. In other words, if we change the way we eat we can change our blood sugar too!

And, as far as osteoporosis goes, it means one of the most important things you can do to keep bones from dissolving (which is essentially what osteoporosis is) is to stop eating the pasta! And the grains, and bread, and the cereal, and the fruit juice, and all the other blood sugar busting foods that form such a significant part of the Standard American Diet. And It wouldn’t hurt to throw in sugar metabolizing nutrients either. Alpha lipoic acid 200mg-400mg is a great blood sugar stabilizing supplement. Magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin A can help too. And then there are the B-Vitamins, best added to water and sipped on throughout the day.

Of course there’s more to building bone than just controlling sugar. Even if you just want to prevent osteoporosis, in addition to calcium, there’s lots of great under-appreciated and underutilized nutritional supplements that will help build and strengthen bone. Check out my favorites below. While by no means complete, it represents a great place to start if you’re looking to start an anti-osteoporosis nutritional program.

1. Protein – especially whey and egg. Bone soup is a good way to get bone building protein too.
2. Magnesium – the glycinate form is great. Use 1200mg a day.
3. Vitamin D3 – cod liver oil and adequate sun exposure (maybe 10-15 minutes a day 3 or 4 days a week) are the best ways to get this important nutrient.
4. Vitamin K2 – 5,000mcg daily. It’s a calcium magnet that helps harden bones.
5. Chromium Picolinate – helps stabilize blood sugar – 200mcg after meals.
6. B-Complex – use a powder form (Sanitas B-complex Power Blend or Youngevity’s Beyond Tangy Tangerine are both good sources) and add to water and sip all day.
7. Essential Fatty Acids – Udo’s Blend or Youngevity’s ultimate EFA caps are both good sources.
8. Vitamin C – Bones are 30% collagen, and you can’t make collagen without Vitamin C.-Take 5,000 to 10,000 mg a day.
9. Silica – Abkit Liquid Silica Gel is a good source, take maybe 1-2 tablespoons a day.
10. Hyaluronic acid capsules – 100 to 200mg a day. Your nails and hair will benefit too!
11. MSM (Sulfur) – 1000 mg a day. Extra benefit: it’s great for liver detox.
12. Vitamin A – Take 20,000 i.u daily. I call it Vitamin Anabolic. Important for building bone tissue and protein utilization. Take it with fatty foods or meals.
13. Zinc Picolinate 50mg a day – works synergistically with Vitamin A. It’s the anabolic mineral.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

– dedicated to Robert Y.

SUMMARY

· We have two nervous systems.   One for handling stress (sympathetic) and one for relaxation (parasympathetic)

· Under normal healthy circumstances our body’s activities should be dominated by the relaxation nervous system based activity (activated upper digestion, relaxed lower digestion, lower heart rate and a sense of well-being)

· The signs of PTSD are the signs of an overactive sympathetic stress system

· Work mentally and emotionally first.  Use hypnosis, visualization, religion, whatever it takes

· Deep breathing can be very effective.  Stress and shallow breathing go hand in hand.  Oxygenations the fastest way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system

· Nutrition and diet strategies can help too

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By English: Cpl. Andrew Johnston [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As if the trauma of war wasn’t horrific enough, upon cessation of battle and stateside return, many soldiers are destined to confront continued traumatic mental and emotional stress despite the absence of immediate emergency.  The ensuing constellation of stressful symptoms, so called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), affects, according to the Congressional Research Service, 27 percent of soldiers returning from undeclared wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And you don’t have to be war veteran to suffer from PTSD.  The same constellation of symptoms that affects returning vets can occur with victims of violence, sexual abuse, or emotional battering and mental harassment.   Concentration camp victims and survivors of accidents and natural disasters are also prone towards the symptomology of PTSD.  In fact, according to WebMD, over 5 million people in the United States are suspected of having some of the symptoms of PTSD which can be grouped into three general categories:

Reliving-(hallucinations, flashbacks),

Avoiding- (sense of detachment and isolation)

Increased arousal -(anger, jumpiness, anxiety, insomnia)

To understand PTSD, we have to understand the nervous system or more specifically, the nervous systems.    Plural, because we have two of them.  One which regulates the stress response is called the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).    Constipation, oily, skin, insomnia, low sex drive and anxiety are all signs of an activated stress response nervous system.  The second nervous system is called the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).  It regulates the relaxation response.  PNS activation is manifested by relaxed lower digestion, activated upper digestion, lower heart rate, high libido and a sense of well being.

Under normal circumstances the body operates in a PNS dominant state.  It would like to always be in a PNS dominant state.  The sympathetic nervous system is an emergency system and chronic activation is bound to create mental emotional and physical health havoc.  PTSD is a classic example of an SNS running amok. Consequently the best strategy for dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is to return the body to a PNS dominant state.

Probably the most important therapy for dealing with PTSD and returning the parasympathetic to its rightful biochemical place as the dominant nervous system is to address the mental and emotional causes.  Do not underestimate the importance of this component.  Work with any mental and emotional strategies you can come up with.  Meditation, visualization, hypnosis, Landmark Forum or God.  It doesn’t matter.  This is the most important component of dismantling of PTSD or any other emotional/mental   health challenge.

Deep breathing can also be helpful.  When the anxiety of PTSD kicks in the body tends to contract and breathing becomes more rapid and shallow.  Contractions and rapid shallow breathing alert the adrenal glands to a threat and stress hormone kick in.   This causes more shallow breathing and a further contraction old the muscles and connective tissue.    Which causes the secretion of more adrenal stress hormones, which causes even more contraction and shallow breathing.  The resultant downward spiral can continue unabatedly until it shows up as the chromic emergency type symptoms associated with PTSD.  The key to breaking the spiral is to practice deep breathing.  In fact, there is no faster way to activate the relaxation response than to deep breathe.  For extra benefits, practice relaxing facial muscles on the exhale.

From a diet and nutritional standpoint, there are many strategies for activating the body’s PNS regulated response.  Below are my Top 14 nutritional strategies for activating the relaxation response and dealing with PTSD:

1.      Maintain stable blood sugar; eat more protein, less refined carbs.  Refined food is also more likely to contain excitotoxins which can exacerbate anxiety.

2.      Veggies and protein – Recipe for building serotonin, the body’s most important stress management biochemical.   Starchy veggies and protein from whey and eggs can be especially helpful.

3.      Lithium Oratate (5mg active elemental lithium) – mood stabilizing nutrient, used as prescription medicine, but available at a health food store, very relaxing.

4.      GABA 100mg – (500 to 1000mg once or twice a day)-relaxing brain chemical, made by the body so there’s no toxicity.

5.      Theanine (100-200mg 1-3 times a day)– an amino acid found in tea theanine has been shown in numerous studies to have psychoactive effects, thought to increase the brains levels of GABA, theanine may have excitoxicity benefits too.  You can drink decaff green tea to bump up your theanine levels in the middle of the day.

6.      Glycine (500 to 1000mg once or twice a day) -like GABA it’s a brain chemical and made by the body so there’s no toxicity.  Whey protein is an excellent source of glycine.

7.      Vitamin C (5-10 grams a day) – The quintessential anti stress vitamin.  Deficiencies are common. The greater the stress the more you need.  The more sugar you eat, the more you need.  Take the powder and save money, 1teaspoonful = 5grams.

8.      B-Complex (B-100 every few hours with water) with timed release niacin (100mg once or twice a day) – mood stabilizing, promotes serotonin synthesis.

9.      5HTP (100mg at bedtime) – precursor to serotonin, has anti anxiety and anti-depressant effects, take at bedtime.

10.   Melatonin (3 mg at night)-major relaxation biochemical, anti-aging, supports immunity and digestive health as provides a sense of well being.  Causes drowsiness, take at bedtime.

11.   Beyond Tangy Tangerine – nutritional deficiencies =can trigger the symptom of PTSD.  Sipping on Youngevity’s Beyond Tangy Tangerine all day long can prevent drops into nutritional deficiency status. [Buy Beyond Tangy Tangerine here]

12.   Celtic Sea Salt – manna for the adrenal glands.  Put a teaspoonful or two in a glass of water and sip on it, if it tastes delicious you’re adrenals are gonna love it!   After a while, when it doesn’t taste as delicious you’ve had enough.

13.   Magnesium (1200-2000mg a day glycinate form is the ideal.)  Green veggies are a great source of magnesium.  Involved in production of stress management hormones.  Gall bladder or other digestive health problem may impair absorption.  Take with apple cider vinegar, lecithin, digestive enzymes, bile salts, fatty meals to maximize absorption.

14.   Inositol (500mg 2-4 times a day) – This vitamin-like substance improves serotonin’s stress management properties.  High doses (18) grams a day shown to work as well as Prozac with no side effects.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Connective Tissue & Raisin Bread

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

SUMMARY

-Connective tissue is one of 4 main tissues in the body.  The others are nerve, muscle and epithelial tissue.

-Connective tissue is made up of cells and a matrix that is akin the raisins and bread.

-Most significant connective tissue cells are called blast cells and the manufacture the connective tissue matrix they are embedded in.

-These blast produced substances are fibers which provide structural support and polysaccharides that function as shock absorbers.

-Many health issues such as autoimmunity are manifestations of connective tissue breakdown.  So are the general signs of aging including bone fragility, muscle weakness, wrinkles, and thinning skin.

 

The human body is made up of 4 systems.  Biologist’s call these systems “tissues”, they’re made up of cells and they in turn comprise everything that makes up a living body.  These tissue systems include nerve tissue which forms the nervous system, epithelial tissue which forms skin hair, nails, glands and all surfaces, skin and within and muscle tissue which makes up the muscular substance of the body.

Connective Tissue & Raisin BreadThe 4th and most abundant tissue system is called connective tissue (CT) and boy is this stuff cool.  Connective tissue is not only the most abundant tissue in the human body, it’s the most abundant biological tissue on the planet.  In a sense connective tissue is like raisin bread.  It’s made up cells and “stuff” which can be thought of as analogous to raisins (cells) and bread (“stuff”).  Of course in the body we have various types of raisins/cells and a matrix that is much more complex then bread, still, simplistic as it may be, this practical kitchen pantry visual can give a rough idea of the structure of connective tissue.

Of the numerous types of cells in connective tissue by far the most important are the blast cells, which are responsible for the manufacturing of connective tissue.  These cells are called by various names, depending on where in the body they’re found.  The prototypical connective tissue blast cell is called the fibroblast. The fibroblasts are the connective tissue workhorse cells.  They produce fibers that keep epithelial and muscle tissues strong, elastic and well supported and slimy mucus-like substances called polysaccharides.  The only tissue system that does not include connective is the nervous system. While surrounded with CT on its perimeter the nervous system as its own specialized version of CT called “glia”.

Connective tissue can be though as matrix that holds the body’s structures and organs in place.  Because the vast majority of the body is connective tissue, understanding what it is and how to maintain its strength integrity is critical for keeping the body healthy and vital.  The aging process is largely marked by accelerated breakdown and sluggish repair of connective tissue.  And because connective is derived from processes that occur in blasts, feeding and nourishing and as well as detoxifying these critical hard working manufacturing cells is job #1 for healing, repair and anti-aging.

As noted above, connective tissue blast cells produce two major classes of substances that form the bread/matrix that they, in raisin-like fashion are embedded in.   Biologist’s call these two substances fiber and slime. OK, not really.  The fiber component is made up of what is called collagen along with some elastin and a smattering of a third substance called reticulin.  The gooey slimy substance is called polysaccharide whose wet mucoid nature is a manifestation of its high water absorbing capacity.  The slimy nature of polysaccharide water-trapping properties allows it function as very efficient biological shock absorber.

For most connective tissues the fibers predominate, but in the case of a very specialized type of connective tissue, fibers are scarce (or they should be, a harbinger of a disease and an early demise  is  an excessive amount of blood fiber formation) and the wet polysaccharides rule.  This specialized connective tissue is basically liquid or gel-like and it’s called the blood.  Yes, that’s right; even though it’s rarely thought of as such, the blood is a (connective) tissue.

Almost all health challenges, including arthritis, vasculitis, cellulitis and heart disease have a connective tissue connection.  CT is home to cells of the immune system, so connective tissue is often a target of autoimmune disease.  And because of its role in supporting the body, the classic wrinkling, shrinking and shriveling effects of old age as well as bone and muscle weakness and fragility are all likely to occur as blast cells slow down the connective tissue matrix degenerates.

Because of the relationship between connective tissue and the appearance of aging, collagen and other CT structures are often the target of advertising and marketing claims for various anti-aging and beauty aids such as skin firming products and wrinkle creams and cellulite wraps.  Yet unbeknownst to consumers who spend billions of dollars a year on such potions and lotions and pills in a largely futile attempt to restore a youthful appearance , the key to staying and looking young, vital  and healthy is to make sure connective tissue cells are being fed, oxygenated and kept free of toxicity.  Below are my Top 12 strategies and tools for building strong connective tissue.

Now C-1000 w/Rose Hips
Now C-1000 w/Rose Hips

– Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) 1.0 g (1,000 mg) 1670%

– Rose Hips Powder (Rosae pseudofructus) (seed) 25 mg

NOW Vitamin C 1000 mg Sustained Release delivers gradual amounts of this powerful antioxidant.
Consistent cell protection and free radical fighting.

Now C-1000 w/Rose Hips, 250 Tablets

#1 Vitamin C 1000-5000mg a day – the key that turns on the production collagen fibers the strongest most connective tissue substance and responsible for its  steel like tensile strength.

#2 Glycine (1-2 grams a day)  – the primary amino acid in connective tissue, glycine provides  the firmness of CT.  While not essential (the body makes its own glycine) increasing intake through diet and supplementation can assure a steady supply.  Whey protein is a great source of glycine.  And straight glycine supplements are also easily available via health store or the internet.

#3 Hyaluronic acid (100-200mg a day) – this under-appreciated complex sugar molecule contributes to detoxification and provides building blocks for healing soothing and growth and repair of connective tissue.

#4 Sulfur (MSM1000-3000mg a day) provides key support structure element for connective tissue.  As nutritional content and consumption of sulfur veggies (onions, garlic, shallots, broccoli, cauliflower) containing declined rates of osteoporosis increased.

#5 Creatine Monohydrate (1 teaspoonful 3 or 4 times week, after workouts) – tripeptide (3 amino acids) that support blast energy and structure of bone and connective tissue.

#6 Gelatin (1 teaspoonful to 1 tablespoonful in 8 oz. of water once a day- source of connective tissue building amino acids.  Soothes digestive tract inflammation for improved absorption of nutrients.

#7 Eat protein (at least ½ gram per day per pound of body weight)– connective tissue is made up mostly of protein.  Eating enough protein assures a constant supply of these amino acids.  Look for sulfur containing protein (meat seafood, whey, egg).  Dairy and egg protein also supply growth factors which can stimulate the production of a thick robust CT.

#8 Bone soup –this delicious traditional food is a spectacular immune booster (Jewish penicillin) and it’s glycine and protein  co0ntent are substantial easy to absorb.  Eat liberally, look for the recipe on pharmacistben.com.

#9 Practice deep breathing techniques – Healthy oxygenation slows down secretion of bone busting cortisol and improves energy production.  Lung muscles also propel lymphatic fluid promoting detoxification.

#10 Exercise – acute physical stress and weight bearing pressure stimulate blast cells production.

#11 Stay away from pro-inflammatory foods –This includes processed foods and refined sugar but food allergens including beans and veggies can all have anti bone building effects too. Inflammation promotes degeneration and slows down anabolic (building) activity of blast cells.

#12 Correct digestive health issues – minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc and protein all key players is connective tissue health require healthy digestive functioning.  Taking bile salts, digestive enzymes and apple cider vinegar with meals can improve absorption of connective tissue building nutrients.

Raisin bread is a bread that contains raisins. Its invention has been attributed to Henry David Thoreau. It is often classified as a sweet bread and is sometimes combined with cinnamon sugar. Served toasted or as a dessert, the bread is commonly found in the United States, Northern Europe, Germany and Australia. [Read more: From Wikipedia]

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

For Your Skin

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The gold standard topical skin lightening ingredient is called Hydroquinone (HQ). It’ rally toxic stuff, but in small concentrations it can be an effective skin bleaching agent. If you really want to get some good effects you’re probably going to have to use 6 or 8 or even 10 percent strengths. If you want to know how effective this stuff is, just look at a picture of Michael Jackson after 2001 or so. From what I heard along the medical/dermatological grapevine, was that he was a using a super strong version of hydroquinone that was not available in the United States, and that’s where he got that white pasty look that was so striking. If you really want to lighten your skin you can probably get some good results with 4 or maybe 5 percent strength which a compounding pharmacist can prepare for you as long as you have you have a prescription Caution however, hydroquinone is toxic to the cells that make pigment, so-called melanocytes and you can actually permanently disable these very important skin components (the pigment that they make has anti aging and sun protection properties) in your attempt to lighten dark spots.

SkinAnother less toxic skin lightening choice is retinoic acid (RA) which is a form of Vitamin A. I like using retinoic acid because not only will it lighten dark spots in a more benign fashion than HQ, but you can also use it to improve the appearance and formation of wrinkles and sun damage. It does, however, like the higher strengths of hydroquinone, require a prescription. In my pharmacy we actually make several compounded products that feature RA that are available by prescription. One particularly effective product is a combination of hydroquinone at 8 per cent with retinoic acid at 0.05 per cent. We also add hydrocortisone to reduce some of the irritation that the hydroquinone can cause.

Then there’s a third topical skin lightener that is pretty effective and I have to say that it’s one of my favorite skin lightener. It’s effective for lightening the skin and it helps protect the skin from environmental assaults from the sun and it’s important for helping stimulate the production of anti-aging fibers like collagen. I’m talking about topical Vitamin C. And, if you use the fat soluble form of Vitamin C which is called ascorbyl palmitate you can also get some nice skin moisturizing properties as well. There’s another form of fat soluble Vitamin C that is super effective for skin lightening and it’s a great moisturizer too. It’s called ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate and it’s really nice. The only problem with this form of Vitamin C is that it’s really expensive and you do need pretty high concentrations for it to work as a skin lightener, at least 10 percent and there are not a lot of companies that can afford to put that much in their product. Then there’s a new form of Vitamin C called ethyl ascorbate. This stuff is expensive too, but you only need around 1 percent or so to get some good skin lightening.

So the best topical skin lightening ingredients are basically going to be Vitamins A and C but you have to make sure they are in the correct forms if you want effective skin lightening. Retinoic acid or retinol for Vitamin A and ethyl ascorbate or ascorbyl palmitate or ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate for Vitamin C. If course, hydroquinone is effective too, but its toxicity really makes it a less viable alternative than Vitamins A and C.

Then there are the other skin lightening ingredients that only have moderate effects. I’m only mentioning these because you will see them in many over-the counter products. Probably the best of these is niacin, Vitamin B3 which is a nice skin care ingredient for a lot of things, especially acne. One of the signs of niacin deficiency is skin rashes so clearly the skin is using niacin to maintain it’s health. And recently it was discovered that you can get some of these benefits by applying niacin topically. As mentioned, topical niacin has been shown to be effective for treating acne , and you may want to dissolve a niacin tablet in water and use it as an acne mist. There are several skin care lines that are featuring niacin, and if you have blotchy skin or dark spots associated with acne this is something you might want to try.

One of the best ways to lighten the skin is to use plain old alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Now most people have heard of the most famous AHA glycolic acid by now, it’s been around in the over-the-counter skin care world for over 20 years and a lot longer in the medical realm. glycolic acid is the prototype example of the AHA family of chemicals (others include citric acid, malic acid, acetic acid and lactic acid) and all of these substances have some really important, interesting and helpful roles to play in skin health. In fact I would go as far as to say that alpha hydroxy acids are among the three most important ingredients you can ever use on your skin, along with Vitamin A and Vitamin C. The literature and research that is out on these substances is absolutely overwhelming. And these are research articles that have out for decades. Medical professionals have been using glycolic Acid for 50 years. I remember when I first started out in the skin care business, I had a doctor I was working with, who loved this stuff. He had me making all kinds of glycolic acid products on a prescription basis and he swore by the stuff. Then AHA products came out as over the counter in the early 90’s and the cat was out of the bag; they basically revolutionized the skin care business. AHAs are to this day, the gold standard of active anti aging ingredients, the skin care substances that all ingredients are compared to. They basically up-regulate every single marker of skin health that you could name including improving collagen synthesis, hyaluronic acid synthesis, they improve moisture factor production helping skin stay soft and hydrated . They improve fine lines and wrinkles and they are excellent for helping remove pigmented skin.

There’s a couple of different ways you can use alpha hydroxy acids to lighten the skin. The best way is to go to an esthetician and have a skin peel done. In fact if you’re really interested in anti-aging for the skin you should find yourself a good esthetician and have regular skin peel treatments done say every 2 to 4 weeks. You can also go the slower route and get yourself a good alpha hydroxy acid product a cleanser or toner are the best and use them at home. The trick to using good alpha hydroxy acid products is you want to look for a low pH. There are a lot of these things out there, but in my experience, the acidity of most is not very satisfactory. The pH is a measurement of how acid something is and the pH scale runs from 0 to 14 where the lower numbers are acid and the higher numbers are not acid. 7 is considered neutral and skin’s normal pH is slightly acidic around 5 or 6. For an alpha hydroxy acid product to be useful for anti aging or removing pigment, it has to be lower that the skin’s normal pH. Maybe around 3 or 4. Most alpha hydroxy acid products that you buy in the department store are not going to be that low, so you probably want to go to an esthetician that you can trust to but alpha hydroxy acid products that are going to work. In any case, I like using AHA products to lighten the skin topically, because of all the extra benefits that you get. In addition to improving the tone and color of the skin alpha hydroxy acid products can soften and smooth and generally make the skin look a lot better. I personally use an AHA cleanser every day and then I do an AHA peel on my skin once every 7 to 10 days. Another benefit to using alpha hydroxy acid cleansers and toners is that they help improve the penetration of topical vitamins. The two most important topical vitamins for the skin are vitamin C and vitamin A and as we’ve said both of these are also good skin lighteners. They’re also the most effective skin vitamins for general skin health and anti-aging, and between these three ingredients, alpha hydroxy acids, vitamin A and vitamin c you have the three most important skin care ingredients you can ever use. I always tell my patients that if you are stranded on a desert island and you can only bring three ingredients with you, if you bring AHAs Vitamin A and Vitamin C, you’ll be all set!

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Skin Care

The Magic of Manganese

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

One of the least well-known essential trace minerals is manganese. This metallic nutritional element, which derives its moniker from the Greek word for magic, is present in almost all diets in low concentrations. Although these days it is mostly used as an alloy in stainless steel for its rust protection properties, manganese’s essential role in human nutrition should not be overlooked.

The Magic of Manganese

Black-Eyed Peas Curry, rich in manganese. (akshayapatra.blogspot.com)

The average human body contains about 10 milligrams of manganese, mostly concentrated in the liver, bones and kidneys. While deficiencies of manganese are typically uncommon, its highly charged electrical nature make this critical mineral unstable to milling of grains and other modern food processing techniques. According to Dr. E. Blaurock-Busch of Trace Minerals International, patients being fed intravenously may also be at risk for manganese deficiency, although some say there is some controversy surrounding the inclusion manganese to parenteral protocols. High doses of Manganese have been associated with neurotoxicity and Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms and current opinion regards the addition of manganese to parental solutions as unnecessary.

What is not open to debate, however, is the issue of the loss of manganese due to soil depletion. An unfortunate by-product of modern agricultural technology, mineral impoverishment of farmlands must be considered as foods grown in soils with low levels of the silvery-grey essential nutrient may have their manganese content reduced.

Manganese is absorbed into the blood through the small intestine, so patients with a history of digestive distress may be at risk for manganese deficiency. Absorption of manganese may also be adversely affected by diets high in iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and soy protein. Deficiencies of this important mineral may result in impaired growth, poor wound healing and other skin issues, as well as loss of hair color or reduced hair growth. Women with osteoporosis have been shown to have low levels of plasma manganese. And, it’s been known for almost 50 years that many epileptics are at risk for manganese deficiency.

Manganese functions as a critical co-factor for several vitamins. Under deficiency conditions, Vitamin C and some of the B-vitamins, including Vitamins B1, biotin and choline cannot be used efficiently. Manganese also has a function in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. And, several reports indicate involvement of manganese in the synthesis of steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Manganese may also play an important role in the health of diabetics.

In their chapter in the highly regarded textbook, “Manganese in Health and Disease”, Doctors Baly, Walter, Jr., and Keen suggest a relationship between manganese and carbohydrate metabolism. One anecdotal report which they discuss involved the case of an insulin resistant diabetic patient who dramatically reduced his blood glucose levels from 350 mg/dl to 100 mg/dl by drinking manganese containing alfalfa tea. Further research showed that intravenous manganese chloride also lowered blood glucose levels rapidly.

Manganese functions as a structural constituent and activator of numerous enzyme systems, including those involved with energy production, protein metabolism and detoxification. And, its link to enzymes associated with lipid metabolism, are responsible for its aforementioned importance in helping the body maintain adequate levels of cholesterol and fatty acids and steroid hormones. Finally, manganese is an important actor in the production of enzymes involved in collagen synthesis and thus may have a part to play in anti-aging nutrition.

The best manganese-containing foods include liver and other organ meats. Pecans and almonds, brown rice, pineapples, and navy beans are good vegetarian sources of manganese and teas of all kinds are especially good beverage sources. Manganese is also available in supplemental fashion and most often found in combination with other nutrients in joint health and bone-building formulations.

History
The origin of the name manganese is complex. In ancient times, two black minerals from Magnesia (located within modern Greece) were both called magnes from their place of origin, but were thought to differ in gender. The male magnes attracted iron, and was the iron ore now known as lodestone or magnetite, and which probably gave us the term magnet. The female magnes ore did not attract iron, but was used to decolorize glass. This feminine magnes was later called magnesia, known now in modern times as pyrolusite or manganese dioxide. Neither this mineral nor elemental manganese is magnetic. In the 16th century, manganese dioxide was called manganesum (note the two Ns instead of one) by glassmakers, possibly as a corruption and concatenation of two words, since alchemists and glassmakers eventually had to differentiate a magnesia negra (the black ore) from magnesia alba (a white ore, also from Magnesia, also useful in glassmaking). Michele Mercati called magnesia negra manganesa, and finally the metal isolated from it became known as manganese (German: Mangan). The name magnesia eventually was then used to refer only to the white magnesia alba (magnesium oxide), which provided the name magnesium for the free element when it was isolated much later. [Wikipedia]

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Ten Ways to Lower Blood Pressure without Medication

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Top Ten non-medical Tools to lower to lower blood pressure quickly:
#1 Reduce intake of foods that raise blood sugar and insulin. Potatoes, flour, cereal, pastries desserts are probably best avoided. Fruit juices and fruits aren’t so great either.

#2 Use insulin supporting nutritional supplements. The B-Complex is important and B3, Niacin is especially so. Consider taking several B-100 capsules daily; using the Beyond Tangy Tangerine and taking 100-20mg of TIMED RELEASE Niacin daily.

#3 Vitamin C not only has blood pressure lowering properties, but it plays a key role in strengthening blood vessels. Take 1000 to 5000 mg daily powdered in water; best to sip slowly

#4 Magnesium has multiple benefits for the cardiovascular system, not to mention the liver lungs brain and adrenal glands. Use 1000-2000 mg of Magnesium glycinate daily. All green leafy vegetables have magnesium

#5 Speaking of green leafys, make sure you’re eating lots of veggies. Veggie juices can be helpful too. Use a vitamix type blender so you don’t lose the fiber. Vegetables contain electrolytes that play a key role in keeping the blood pressure healthy. Think 1 pound of vegetables for every 50 pounds of body weight

#7 Coenzyme Q-10 is one of the most important of all cardiovascular supplements. I would be doing 100-200mg of the oil soluble capsules. They’re a bit pricey but well worth it. It’s great for the heart and liver and if you’re on a statin drug you’re ability take your own CoQ10 will be compromised. CoQ10 levels drop with age, so everyone should be supplementing as they get older.

#8 Lay out in the sun, (but don’t even come close to burning). Vitamin D can have a significant effect on lowering blood pressure.

#9 Omega-3s can be helpful and both fish oil and seed oils have their benefits. Both can thin the blood which will reduce pressure and help maintain fluidity. And lignins from flax have blood pressure lowering properties while Vitamin D from fish oil can support anti hypertension.

#10 And don’t forget to breathe. Slow deep breathing can have a rapid affect on lowering blood pressure. High blood pressure is a manifestation of the body’s generic response to stress. It indicates activation of the sympathetic (stress) nervous system. Deep breathing is the fastest way to attenuate to attenuate this sympathetic (stress) response. That means in addition to lowering blood pressure it support blood pressure health indirectly via other mechanisms. It can relieve anxiety and psychological stress. It can help you fall asleep too. And if you have issues with constipation it’s a great way to relax your bowels. All of these benefits can provide anti-hypertensive benefits. Make sure you’re breathing SLOWLY and DEEPLY into the lower part of your belly. If you can do three or 4 breaths a minute, 7 second inhale 7 second exhale or 10 second inhale and 10 second exhale.

Ten Ways to Lower Blood Pressure

Omron 7 Series Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor

Hypertension is a chronic elevation of blood pressure that affects at least 80 million Americans and increases their risk for strokes, aneurysms (burst blood vessels), and heart attacks. And that’s not all. Every single one of the 100 trillion cells in the human body is intimately dependent of the movement of blood through circulatory vessels. That means increases in blood pressure can have deleterious effects on the health of the brain, the kidney, the liver and the lungs among other organs and systems. . According to Dr. Sherry Rogers, writing in the book The Blood Pressure Hoax, 53 percent of deaths can be attributed at least in part to hypertension and high blood pressure triples the chances of an early demise.

Normal blood pressure which can be defined as the pressure or tension exerted on arterial walls as the blood circulates through the vessels is measures in a binary reading where the first number (the systolic measurement) indicates the arterial wall pressure as the heart is pumping and the second number refers to the pressure on the artery wall as the heart is relaxed (the diastolic measurement). Blood pressure readings are considered to be one of the most vital indicators of health and visit to a medical professional that will not include one. The standard unit of measurement is done millimeters of mercury and the desired range for normal adult is around 90-119 mm Hg (systolic) over 60-79 (diastole).

If you go to a physician and he determines that you have an elevated blood pressure, chances are pretty good you’re going to end up on medication and that is not a good thing. Blood pressure medicines do not address the causes of high blood pressure and come with potential for serious side effects. In fact anti-hypertensive, while among the most prescribed of all classes of medications is also among the most toxic. Even the most benign of blood pressure lowering medications, the diuretics (e.g. Hydrochlorothiazide or HCTZ), can increase risk for electrolyte loss, elevations in blood cholesterol and fats and heart arrhythmia, which are all interesting and ironic risks for a drug that’s supposed to protect the cardiovascular system. The more powerful of the anti hypertensives, the so called calcium channel blockers and beta blockers are even worse. Lethargy, digestive health issues, hypoglycemia and sexual problems are all common side affects as well arrhythmia, slow heart beat. Heart failure is not an unheard adverse reaction for these supposedly heart cardiac benefiting medicines. And, some raise the risk of cancer. In 2010, researchers form Case University Western Reserve university announced a …”modest but significant increase” in the risk of new cancer occurrences in patients taking so- called ACE inhibitor drugs, among the most popular of all anti hypertensive’s.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s important to recognize that drugs are not your best treatment option. In fact given the many healthful alternatives drugs shouldn’t be a Treatment option at all. As we’ve said drugs do not address the cause of the hype4rtension. And they do not come without health or dollar cost. If you have been diagnoses as hypertensive, your best is to start to employ some nutritional, dietary and even lifestyle changes immediately.

 

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers, written as a ratio like this:

Systolic Diastolic Blood Pressure ExampleRead as “117 over 76 millimeters of mercury”   SystolicThe top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
DiastolicThe bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

What is the AHA recommendation for healthy blood pressure?

This chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.

Blood Pressure
Category
Systolic
mm Hg (upper #)
  Diastolic
mm Hg (lower #)
Normal less than 120 and less than 80
Prehypertension 120139 or 8089
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
140159 or 9099
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
160 or higher or 100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)
Higher than 180 or Higher than 110
Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Treating Dry Skin From the Inside Out

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Human skin is not supposed to be dry. Yet despite this biochemical fact, billions of consumer dollars are spent every year on product that are supposed to moisturize the skin.

Treating Dry SkinAs someone who has been formulating skin care products a skin products for over 25 years, I can tell you there is no possible way a topically applied product, which is typically composed of water, oil, wax and some miscellaneous chemicals, can cause any changes in skin moisture content. Miniaturization is strictly the job of nutrients that are found in foods and supplements.

If you have dry skin, you’re better off spending your hard-earned dollars on Essential Fatty Acids, Vitamin A and Vitamin C instead of topical skin care products. You’ll be helping improve your skin’s condition the way nature nature intended you to and you’ll get the additional benefits that come along with strategic nutritional supplementation.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Skin Care

Some Thoughts on Vitamins

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

When the subject of nutrition comes up, oftentimes the conversational spotlight gets focused on the term vitamins, which gets tossed around as an all-inclusive, catch-all term for all nutritional supplements. In the interests of accuracy, it’s important to keep in mind that the term vitamins refers only a single component of the nutritional supplement world, which includes protein, essential fats, minerals, water, fiber, and carbohydrates, and accessory nutrients like NAC and alpha lipoic acid and probiotics.

Vitamins
The word vitamin is actually a slang term for nutritional substances that are more technically called “co-enzymes”. These being biomolecules that assist enzymes in their work of making biological chemistry happen.

The body is a seething, bubbling factory of chemical reactions. Every cell in the body, of which there are many trillions is capable of producing somewhere on the order of 10 thousand to 100 thousand chemical reactions per second!! To put it in even more dramatic, (if incomprehensible) terms there are quadrillions (!) of individual chemical reactions occurring in our bodies every minute we are alive. And each one of these chemical reactions depends on the action of enzymes and, in-turn, each one of these enzymes requires the assistance of coenzymes some of which are the vitamins. Considering most of our vitamin needs are met by foods or supplementation, in other words, they are not made by the body, the stupendous importance of making sure we are giving our body generous quantities of these critical molecules through the diet and through nutritional supplements become obvious.

There are two classes of vitamins, those that dissolve in water and those that dissolve in oil, the so-called water soluble vitamins, which are the B-complex and Vitamin C and the fat soluble vitamins, D, E, A and K. The water soluble vitamins critical as they may be are easier to work with than the fat soluble vitamins. You can and should take a lot of B-complex and vitamin C, they are multi-functional and used and excreted rapidly. The best way to make sure your getting enough of the water soluble vitamins is to take generous amounts, in water all day long, i.e. by drinking them. The fat soluble vitamins, D, E, A and K are much trickier to work with. Optimal assimilation of the substances requires a healthy and well-functioning digestive system including especially the liver and gall bladder. And, because they are transported around the body in the lymphatic system if things aren’t moving well in the lymph, fatty vitamin activity may be impaired. The same is true if you have liver problems or gall bladder problems, especially if you’ve had your gall bladder removed or if you have pancreatic health issues. If this is the case, you’re going to want to take the fatty vitamins with meals that include fatty foods. Digestive enzymes can help so can apple cider vinegar and perhaps pancreatin which contains digestive enzymes. You can also use se bile salts, maybe lecithin and you might want to consider including some choline which the body can use to make lecithin.

Take home message:

Use generous amounts of the B-complex and Vitamin C throughout the day. Put them in water or some other liquid medium and drink them down slowly for best results

Take fatty vitamin D, E, A and K supplements with meals that contain some kind of fatty foods. If you are dealing with digestive health issues i.e. those that involve the stomach, small intestine, liver, gall bladder or pancreas, you can improve the absorption of these fatty vitamins by taking them with digestive enzymes, pancreatin, bile salts, apple cider vinegar, lecithin and choline.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Your Heart

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The human heart beats over 100,000 times a day, 40 million times a year 3.5 billion times in a typical  lifetime, pumping blood over 60,000 miles of circulatory highway.  It generates an electrical field 50 times stronger than the brain, that can be measured several feet outside the body.  It’s got brain cells in it, it produces hormones and most of us never even give this incredible biological system a thought.  That is, unless it gets sick.  And, unfortunately, the odds of that happening are higher than you may think.  Heart disease, is now the leading cause of death in America and as of 2006,  81 million people had some form of it, whether it be hypertension, angina, stroke, MI or heart failure.  That’s almost one out of 4 Americans.  Over 1/3 of deaths are caused by heart disease, so clearly this is something we want to be looking at.  The good news is overall mortality has been declining as we begin to understand the impact of our lifestyle choices on our circulatory systems and our heart.  Heart and its Blood VesselsThe good news is that as our understandings around improve, so can our overall mortality.  In a study of almost 43,000 men that was published in the journal “Circulation” it was found that men who adopted all of the low-risk behaviors were 87 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease during the study period compared to men who adopted none of the behaviors.  Furthermore researchers estimated that 62 percent of all “coronary events” that occurred during the study period may have been prevented if all members of the study population adopted the lifestyle factors.  Now folks we don’t need research and we don’t need studies to prove to us that the health of the heart as with the health of the body can be enhanced by lifestyle choices.  That means exercise, watching what we eat,  no smoking,  relaxation and of course nutritional supplementation.  With an emphasis on nutritional supplementation!  Indeed, there’s no organ system in the body that has evidenced the powers of nutritional supplementation more than the cardiovascular system.  You want some tips for your ticker?  OK well, here ya’ go!  There’s probably no more important group of nutrients for your heart than the B-complex.  Now probably most of you have heard about the B-complex, but here’s a couple of things you probably didn’t know.  You never want to take individual B vitamins without taking the group.  The B-complex is, as the name implies a complex.  They work together.  While sometimes it’s instructive to talk about each of the B-vitamins and their roles individually, it important to never lose track of the fact that they appear in nature together, and they work together.  They each support each other. So if , for example you want to work with blood fats, triglycerides and cholesterol and your taking Vitamin B3, niacin which has been shown to have some dramatic effects on lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need Vitamins B1 Thiamine, Folic acid and Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B5 among others of the  of the B complex.  They all work together as a team.  Same idea if you’re taking Vitamin B12 for energy or as anti depressant or Vitamin B5 for treating acne.  Each component of the complex acts to support each of the other components.  And here’ another point to keep in mind.  When your body attempts to excrete a particular B-vitamin it tends to do it in a complex.  So if, for example, you’re taking Vitamin B3 for your triglycerides, when your body excretes the B#, it will do it with any B1, B2, B5, B12 etc that’s in the system.  If you’re not taking additional amounts of these vitamins, you can actually cause deficiencies.  So make sure you’re taking the entire B-complex. And taking it in generous amounts.  It’s water soluble so you’re gonna be urinating out what’s not used right away, so you’re levels may not be where you need them to be if you’re only taking a B-vitamin pill once or twice a day.  That’s why I like my patients to be using B-complex powders and liquids that can be sipped on throughout the day.  We want to be careful about using nutrients like we use pharmaceuticals.  Oh you have arthritis, take niacin.  Menstrual cramps take B6, you’re depressed take B12.  That’s called allopathic nutrition and it’s just another way we try to monetize good nutrition.  Sure Thiamin, Vitamin B1 helps with insulin and blood sugar.  Riboflavin, Vitamin B2 deficiency is associated with migraine headaches.  B6, pantothenic acid is great for stabilizing excess skin oils, B6 is well known for helping woman who are experiencing female problems, be they estrogenic cancers, premenstrual breakout or morning sickness.  And of course the well documented link between mood and energy levels and Vitamin B12.  But remember friends, they’re all working together as a complex and they are excreted together as a complex.   And they are found in nature as a complex.  So, you want to make sure, even if you’re taking high doses of one B-vitamin for a specific reason, that you’re taking generous amount of the entire complex.

Then there’s that good old standby Vitamin C.  Vitamin C is like that spouse or relationship that you have that you just don’t appreciate, cause it’s there very day.   You see most of us get enough Vitamin C to prevent full blown deficiency disease.  This makes us take our relationship to Vitamin C for granted.  What I mean to say is that while we may have an OK relationship with Vitamin C, a relationship that keeps us out of dramatic trouble, hardly anyone gets the amount of Vitamin C that’s required for optimal functioning of multiple systems in the body.  Vitamin C is so critical for the functioning of a cell, that it actually has a doorway on the membrane of a cell so that it can access the inside of cells.  That is an amazing fact that underscores the vital nature of this powerful nutrient that most of us don’t appreciate or get nearly enough of.  Dr. Mathias Rath has written extensively about this in several books including one with the very catchy title: “Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks, But People Do”.  Dr. Rath, who is a highly renowned physician and a colleague of the famous Vitamin C pioneer Dr. Linus Pauling says that animals don’t get heart attacks because they produce large amounts of Vitamin C.  That’s right, for some unknown reason only humans, gorillas and certain types of guinea pigs don’t make Vitamin C.  All the other creatures in the animal kingdom make large amounts of this vital nutrient.  Under normal circumstances the daily amount produced by animals , adjusted for comparison to a 150lb human, is somewhere between 3,000 mg and 15,000 mg, with an average of 5,400 mg.  And yet the RDA for adults in this country is 60mg.  Are you kidding me??!!  60mg??!!  A mouse produces the adjusted equivalent of 2300mg a day and when it’s under stress it produces the equivalent of 20,000 grams a day!!!  So now, let me ask you something do you think it’s possible that maybe the typical American who’s not supplementing and getting his Vitamin C from arrange juice (a glass of orange juice, by the way, has around 80 or 90 mg of Vitamin C) may be deficient.  And given all the roles Vitamin C plays in the body, especially in cardiovascular health, you can begin to C why we may have a hidden nutritional deficiency going on here.  And by way, so much for getting all your nutrients from food!  Vitamin C is absolutely critical for the production of collagen.  Without it you simply can’t make collagen.  And without enough you simply can’t make enough collagen.  Collagen is required for vascular health, because blood vessels maintain their strength and elasticity largely on the strength of this vital protein.  In fact, when collagen in arteries and veins becomes old or weakened that’s when we’re at highest risk of stroke aneurysms and other cardiovascular issues.  Oh, by the way, on of the bodies mechanisms for patching up weak vessels is to use cholesterol as a glue.  That’s why elevated cholesterol levels sometimes, not always, but sometimes precede heart attacks.  And please pay no attention to the silliness around cholesterol lowering drugs and reduction of heart disease.  The facts according to the Framingham study, which is a 50 year study that’s produced over 1000 scientific papers are: now listen up here: for each “1% mg/dL drop in cholesterol there was an 11% increase in coronary and total mortality”. So, don’t be talking to me about lowering cholesterol to protect the heart.  I’ve said it many times on this program: to poison the body to stop it from producing chemistry is just plain BAD MEDICINE and BAD SCIENCE!!  If you cholesterol levels are high there are simple and natural ways to lowering them that do not involve drugs.  Permit me to repeat:  You don’t need cholesterol lowering drugs!  We’ll address that whole can of worms in a posting to come…

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Top 12 Tips and Tools for Easy Detoxification Part 2

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

While genetic tendencies (and epi-genetic factors) as well as stress and poor nutrition play an important role in illness, underlying almost all manifestations of poor health is toxicity. And I’m talking about both internal and external toxicity which are obviously related. Human beings have been saturating their outer and inner environments with poison since the dawn of history. These days, we actually enter the world as a toxic mess. Even newborn babies have been shown to have high levels of toxic pollutants. In 2005 Greenpeace published a report titled “Hazardous Chemicals in Umbilical Cord Blood” where they concluded that hazardous chemicals are a common occurrence in umbilical cord blood. Newborns tested out at a whopping average of 287 toxins, 180 of which were known carcinogens!

Easy DetoxificationToxic air can be filled with literally hundreds of deadly and carcinogenic compounds, (some like chemtrails intentionally deposited there for no “known” reason), not to mention radioactive waste from disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima. When human fat biopsies are performed styrene, dioxins, xylene and dichlorobenzene among other unsavory, unhealthy and potentially carcinogenic chemicals shows up in 100% of cases. There are deadly chemicals in water too, fluoride and chlorine may arguably provide benefits, but no one can discount their truly toxic nature. Water is also a source of other unpleasant drinking material including prescription drugs and industrial (and even human) waste. Pesticides are an especially serious problem. Measurable levels have been found in breast fluid from mother’s milk around the world, including Eskimos living in the North Pole, thousands of miles from source of the nearest farm or fruit orchard. Internally there is no way to know exactly how much toxicity we’re dealing with, but it’s safe to say the average person’s detox system is probably being overloaded. Food, stress, trauma, experiences in addition to interfacing (really integrating) with our toxic external environment can put quite a load on the body’s ability to clean itself out and over time lots of nasty stuff can end up in various bodily fluids and tissues.

But it’s important to recognize that indeed we have a detox system. In fact the human body is remarkably well equipped to handle a lot of poison! But it needs certain substances to do its work. In a later post we’ll talk about the liver and what’s known as Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification, but for now let’s just say there are some key nutrients we should all be using to keep the poisons our bodies have to deal with the more manageable level. Maybe we’ve done such a number on our planet that there’s no way we can completely clean it up but let’s not forget that the human being grew up in a world filled with natural poisons too. There are chemical processes built into the body to allow it to detoxify and purify itself, but by and large these processes require raw materials in the form of nutrients. Last post we listed Part One of the top 12 Detox supplements, focusing on treatment and non-nutritional approaches. Below is Part two of the Top 12 detoxification nutritional supplements (with apologies to fans of the B-complex, alpha-lipoic acid, probiotics and fiber, which while important for detox, did not make this list) for supporting the body’s ability to detoxify in an unfortunately very toxic world.

1. MSM 500-1000mg daily, NAC 100-500mg daily. both contains sulfur which is a key player in biological detoxification. Sulfur attracts (chelates) heavy metals and is an important component of the glutathione system, perhaps the most powerful detox system in all of biochemistry. Provide protection from lead and mercury poisoning. Sulfur even has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s probably a good idea to use MSM (absorbable sulfur) and the sulfur amino acid cysteine in the form of NAC (so potent a detoxifier that it’s part of the emergency room protocol for liver poisoning) on a daily basis.

2.Selenium 200-400mcg daily – important for activation of the glutathione, the major human biological detoxification molecule. Protects fats from oxidation and is specific for protection from heavy metals like mercury. Selenium is the most important trace mineral for anti-oxidant defense. Powerful anti-cancer protectant, important for cardiovascular and thyroid health too. This is one you can take too much of so keep your daily dose under 800mcg daily. For optimum effects take as selenomethionine. Garlic, onions and cruciferous vegetables are great food sources of this important mineral.

3.Vitamin E 400 iu daily – Important for keeping fats in cell membranes and organs from oxidation and heavy metal assault. Important fro recycling anti-oxidant detox substances like Vitamin C and glutathione. Works synergistically with selenium. Tocotrienol form more protective than tocopherol form.. Especially protective for smokers (lung) and alcoholics (liver). Improves detoxification of pharmaceuticals. May also decrese the effectiveness of medications (which is of course a consequence of their toxicity). This one is difficult to get from foods so supplementation is a must.

4.Glutamine 1-5 grams daily- essential for the production of glutathione, the body’s major detoxification substance. Required for liver detoxification pathways and works synergistically with Vitamin C, E and selenium. Importance for digestive health also support detox functions. Most abundant amino acid in the body, relevant for health of all cells.

5.Vitamin C 1 to 10 grams daily – Spectacularly important nutrient for detoxification and immune system support. Works synergistically with Vitamin E, selenium and glutathione. Protects against cancer and heavy metal poisoning. Provides neutralizing protection from lead. May provide protection from chlorine. Sucrose (sugar) reduces its effectiveness. Especially effective against radiation. Improves elimination of toxins through bowel movements. Non-toxic in even very high doses.

6.Good Minerals– nutritional minerals protect against heavy metal poisoning by minerals with similar electromagnetic properties. Zinc protects against cadmium (smokers are especially at risk from cadmium in tobacco). Calcium, magnesium and zinc provide protection from aluminum. Iron, copper and zinc help may keep lead toxicity at bay. Iodine provides protection from bromine and fluorine and radioactive iodine (e.g. Fukushima). BTW, if you’re interested in testing your nutritional status, ask for an RBC (red blood cell) test. The most accurate measurements for nutrient levels and heavy metal toxicity are done directly on cells NOT plasma, the watery/protein portion of blood.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Toxic

Top 12 Heart Nutrients Part 1

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Last post we defined some of the common terms associated with heart disease. Now, for some of the important nutrients you can take to protect your heart and avoid the cardiologist’s office or even worse, his knife! And, to keep you off the especially dangerous drugs. Cardiac and circulatory drugs are among the most toxic and deadliest of the entire prescription pharmacopeia. If you’re on medication now, you can ask you can ask (or even better insist!) that your physician wean you off your meds and get you on some non-toxic, good nutrition. And if you’re not on meds, there is nothing like a good diet and supplement strategy to keep you far away from the pharmacy for heart meds or anything else.

Heart Nutrients

By Rahul Sharma (Annayu) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

In no particular order, here’s the first 6:

Vitamin C– this powerful nutrient sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to
cardiovascular health. Animals (except for humans, some other primates and guinea pigs) all make their own Vitamin C and animals (except for humans, some other primates and guinea pigs) don’t get heart attacks!

Magnesium – keeping blood from becoming sticky and blood sugar control are just two of
the mechanisms associated with this under-appreciated and often time deficient
mineral protects the heart. Some scientists believe that the cardiovascular benefits attributed to aspirin should have be credited to the magnesium found in the “Bufferin” that was used in the original studies.

Selenium– Known as the heart mineral, selenium deficiencies are also somewhat common
and numerous studies show that supplementation can deliver many cardiovascular
benefits. It’s especially helpful in protecting the heart form low levels of oxygen and it’s protective against heavy metal poisoning of heart cells. Deficienciesare associated with Keshan Disease, a particular fatal form of cardiomyopathy.

Arginine –protects the cardiovascular health in so many ways, it’s a must-have for anyone concerned about heart disease. Lowers blood cholesterol very effectively, especially in high doses (10 to 15 grams a day), improves coronary , as well as general circulation and lowers high blood pressure. Helps prevent blood clots and helps strengthen heart muscle. Very important for angina suffererers. In Europe and Japan it is injected directly by cardiologists to reopen blocked circulation.

Vitamin K – helps maintain clotting balance, especially when using Vitamin E. Protective against hardening of the arteries and calcium regulation function helps maintain heart rhythm and
contractility. Use with medical guidance when taking blood thinning medication like Plavix or warfarin.

Taurine – Helps lower blood pressure and improves the excretion of excess fluid which
takes pressure off of blood vessels. Strengthens heart muscle and helps maintain calcium balance in heart cells. Critical in maintaining heart muscle
contraction.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

More on Cholesterol and Hardening of the Arteries

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Are you on a statin drug? Is your doctor obsessed with your HDL or LDL statistics? Are you concerned about heart disease.

If you answered yes to any of the above you’re gonna want to read this post about cholesterol and the silliness around cholesterol-mania; this crazy idea that lowering cholesterol levels by poisoning the liver is somehow an appropriate strategy for reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Lowering cholesterol production in the liver pharmacologically is a biochemically ignorant health strategy. There are however, some very effective strategies, nutritional strategies that can very effectively reduce the risks of atherosclerosis that is hardening of the arteries. And by the way atherosclerosis doesn’t just cause heart problems.

Oyster Mushroom with lovastatinAll the arteries in the body can become sclerotic, which simply means hardened. So sclerosis is clearly a health issue and the fact that cholesterol is present in the hardened patched inside the arteries is not evidence that cholesterol is the cause or that lowering cholesterol manufacturing in the liver is appropriate strategy. However there are some very effective nutritional strategies for reducing atherosclerosis and unlike the biochemical lunacy that is behind the use of the stating drugs, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, chromium, lowering blood sugar levels, lowering insulin.

There are literally dozens of different ways you can keep your heart healthy without touching a drug, going to a doctor, needing health insurance help or any other mainstream medical technique we’re told we have to do. In the world of nutrition when we talk about some of these nutrients, one of the most important facets is this feature that supplements have that makes them useful in a whole variety of ways. You know Vitamin C helps with skin and insulin and the liver and the brain and the adrenal glands etc. Calcium for bones and blood pressure and the heart and the brain and perhaps no more nutrient is as significant as magnesium which in addition to being calcium’s partner and involved in over 300 different chemical reactions in the body is also one of the most common nutritional deficiencies.

The bottom line is: If your doctor has “ordered” you to be on a statin on some other cholesterol lowering drug, you do have options, nutritional non-toxic alternative that you may want to consider.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health