Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

– dedicated to Robert Y.


· 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

“Obesity Gene” a Ploy of Big Pharma

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Some time ago, scientists from King’s College in London proudly proclaimed success at finding an obesity-causing gene. It’s linked to diabetes and functions as a “master switch” in controlling other genes that are involved in obesity and obesity related disease. While some may feel like congratulations are in order, others, including myself, are taking the approach that the obesity epidemic that is currently raging across the planet (100 million obese or overweight in America and 500 million worldwide) would be more appropriately treated as a biochemical breakdown due to poor lifestyle choices than as a genetic malady.

Obesity GeneIt can be instructive to recall that research requires funding and drug companies are always on the lookout for data that can support and lead to profitable pharmaceutical treatments. Scientific manipulation of DNA can provide a cornucopia of potential drug treatments and pharmaceutical companies love research that studies the genetic links to disease. Even in today’s unfavorable economic climate, there are lots of dollars available to researchers who are willing to participate in the genetics-causes-disease hypothesis.

Clearly, weight and obesity issues are significant health problems. However, while obesity-related diseases account for nearly 10% of medical spending in the United States, what are needed are not more pharmaceutical remedies. For most people, weight loss can be easily and simply accomplished through effective nutritional strategies.

The most important of these involves taking advantage of the glycemic index (GI), which measures how much carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI value cause a surge of the hormone insulin and this is one of the most significant causes of weight gain issues. The so-called fat-insulin axis has been regarded as a key component of the body’s obesity-inducing mechanism for over a decade. In fact, it is now recognized that fat tissue actually secretes hormones that have an impact sugar metabolism.

Nutritional supplements that improve blood sugar control can and should also be included in a nutritional weight loss-based program. Chromium and vanadium are two such mineral supplements.

Chromium is a component of the glucose tolerance factor, which is a dietary agent that is involved in sugar control. Taking 200 mcg with every meal is probably a good idea.

VanadiumVanadium is an insulin-supporting mineral. Some research suggests it may even act to replace insulin in some cells. There is a a lot of research currently being conducted on vanadium’s use as a blood sugar control agent. I’d suggest at least 200-400 mcg a day.

The B-complex of vitamins, especially thiamin and niacin, play an important role in sugar metabolism. You can take as much of these as you want and err on the side of extra. The B’s are non-toxic and because of their important role in helping the body process all food material including sugars, you want to take these around mealtime.

Magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, helps improve blood sugar control. Take at least 1000 mg a day. The mineral zinc is involved in several hundred chemical reactions in the body. Some of these involve sugar control and 50 mg a day is a standard daily dose.

The genetic connection to disease is a red herring that serves to distract us from the real issues confronting us in the fattening of America (the title of an interesting book by health economist Eric Finkelstein). As always, good nutritional behaviors should be the first place we look to improve our health.

The obesity crisis we’re confronting can be corrected without genetics, medicine or academic posturing. It’s simply a question of the lifestyle choices we make. The correct application of dietary and nutritional strategies are a healthy, non-medical route to blood sugar control, and weight loss that can play an important non-pharmaceutical role in alleviating the obesity epidemic.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Mineral of the Day: Magnesium

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

MagnesiumMagnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. This miracle mineral plays an integral role in over 300 different chemical reactions in the body.

Yet according to government statistics published in 2005, 68% of Americans do not consume even RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) levels and 19% of Americans don’t get even half of the government’s recommended daily intake of magnesium.

Cardiovascular health and blood sugar health is dependent on this important mineral.

Taking 1 or 2 grams at bedtime can be very relaxing and higher doses (10 grams or so) can function as a laxative.

Magnesium is found in chlorophyll-containing foods. Halibut and almonds are also good food sources. Some of the better supplemental forms of magnesium are magnesium glycinate, magnesium aspartate. It’s a good idea to try to take at least 1500-2000 mg of magnesium a day.

Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg and atomic number 12. Its common oxidation number is +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole. Magnesium is the fourth most common element in the Earth as a whole (behind iron, oxygen and silicon), making up 13% of the planet’s mass and a large fraction of the planet’s mantle. The relative abundance of magnesium is related to the fact that it easily builds up in supernova stars from a sequential addition of three helium nuclei to carbon (which in turn is made from three helium nuclei). Due to magnesium ion’s high solubility in water, it is the third most abundant element dissolved in seawater.

The free element (metal) is not found naturally on Earth, as it is highly reactive (though once produced, it is coated in a thin layer of oxide (see passivation), which partly masks this reactivity). The free metal burns with a characteristic brilliant white light, making it a useful ingredient in flares. The metal is now mainly obtained by electrolysis of magnesium salts obtained from brine. Commercially, the chief use for the metal is as an alloying agent to make aluminium-magnesium alloys, sometimes called magnalium or magnelium. Since magnesium is less dense than aluminium, these alloys are prized for their relative lightness and strength. [From Wikipedia]

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Peanuts & Peanut Butter

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The PeanutThere is no food that speaks to the American childhood experience more clearly than the peanut, the source of that quintessential piece of culinary Americana, peanut butter. Peanuts were originally cultivated in South America by Peruvian Indians who are considered to be the first indigenous groups to domesticate the legume and archaeologists have traced the original specimens to around 5000 BC. From South America the Spanish brought the humble bean to Europe and to their colonies and outposts in what is today the south eastern part of the United States.

Peanuts really caught on during the civil war because they considered to be good, cheap protein. Farmers in the South had pretty much depleted their land of vital nutrients over farming cotton the lowly peanut had come to the rescue as an alternative crop. During and after the civil they ended up in the Northern states where they were sold, freshly roasted by street vendors in NYC and Boston and Philadelphia and a new American love affair was born.

Farming peanuts was a limited and labor intensive affair until the industrial revolution began to change agriculture around the turn of the 20th century. Right around that time George Washington Carver was developing all kinds of stuff from the peanut. All told, Carver, who was the head of the agricultural department at Tuskegee Institute, developed 300 different products with the peanut including various types of soaps and cleansers and milk and even ink! The reason Carver could make so many things out of the peanut is because there are so many incredible chemical active compounds in the plain old peanut.

Their complex nature is also is why peanuts can be such a problem food. In addition to the potentially thyroid suppressing compounds in peanuts, along with grains, dairy, and eggs are one of the most important of all food allergens. While peanut allergies are not as pervasive as as significant as dairy or grain the affect up to 6 million Americans and they be potentially life threatening. I remember when I was a pharmacy student working at an asthma hospital, a kid got an injection that was made with peanut oil and had an allergic reaction that was so severe it killed him. Peanuts can also be source of a toxic mold called aflatoxin that’s been associated with cancer. And unfortunately, peanuts are also a source of really problematic compounds called lectins that trigger various immune and autoimmune reactions.

One of the more common yet underappreciated reactions to peanuts involves the skin. For some sensitive folks, dermatitis can occur by simply by touching or breathing in peanut dust. And ingestion of peanuts has been linked to acne in susceptible children and teenagers.

If you’re looking for concentrated nutrients however, and you’re not concerned with allergic reactions, you’d be wise to add a handful or two of peanuts to a meal a couple of times a week. You can also throw some into a smoothie to enhance its nutritional value. Peanuts are a good source of protein and vitamins, including hard to find vitamin E (one ounce of peanuts contains 29% of the Reference Daily Intake level) as well as minerals like copper, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc and calcium. All told, a couple of tablespoonfuls of peanuts contains nearly half of the 13 vitamins necessary for the body’s growth and maintenance and more than one third of the 20 minerals needed! Peanuts are even a good source of resveratrol; one ounce contains approximately 73 mg. A naturally occurring plant compound resveratrol intake is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and increased longevity.

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
mm Hg (upper #)
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