Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hot Pepper (Capsaisin-Based) Nasal Spray Relieves Allergic Rhinitis

According to a recent study, an all natural, botanical nasal spray provides relief to folks with allergic rhinitis, all without a prescription for traditional steroid sprays.

The wonder ingredient? Capsaicin, which comes from hot peppers and creates none of the addiction problems that steroid formulations create.

This is good news for the 1 in 5 Americans who suffer from nasal allergies (shockingly, did you know that almost half of American children suffer from nasal allergies?!) .

Tess winced when she heard the words "hot peppers" associated with "nasal spray" and walked off to her office. I had to haul her back in to my office to get a more intelligent response from her. I shared the capsaicin nasal spray study with Tess and she winced again when she heard about the "mucoadhesive molecule" that prolongs the essence of hot pepper inside the nose.

Okay, so it's a pharmaceutical company's product, revision number 2 (the mucoadhesive molecule is the revision). Some folks have reviewed the original product online saying it helped with migraines pretty quickly, some liked the sinus clearing effects, while others weren't that wild about the original formula (they reported it "stinging" and, of course, there was no mucoadhesive molecule to prolong the effect).

Tess quipped, "Greaaat. Just what everyone wants. Hot pepper in their poor little raw sinuses." Shaking her head, she's hoping some adventurous "Mikey will try it first and like it" as she's not exactly volunteering to be a guinea pig for this product.

So, leave a note in the comments for this article if you try Sinol-M and let us all know whether you like it or not. We can then start encouraging people to mix slippery elm (a mucilaginous herbal) with cayenne pepper (a source of capsaicin) for every cheapskates' newest and most favorite home remedy alternative. LOL.

Yes, it's true, it doesn't take much to amuse us around here. :-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Vitamin D Deficiency & Dementia, etc.

It's hard to look at nutritional science without seeing a slew of new articles on the value of vitamin D and how deficiencies contribute to aging, autoimmune diseases, osteroporosis/osteopenia, cancer, and just about every other disease.

Here's what I saw today: A new large-scale senior population study has found that a lack of vitamin D in the elderly could be linked to cognitive impairment. The study, conducted on almost 2,000 adults over the age of 65, is the first of its scale to identify this relationship, and prompted researchers to suggest vitamin D supplementation as a possible means of reducing the risk of dementia.

Folks with the lowest vitamin D levels were four times more likely to suffer from dementia. The researchers pondered whether the low levels were causative or merely correlated. My take? Take supplemental vitamin D (D3 that is).

Our Vitamin D3 is a good deal at $2.98 (and it comes fully tested), in case you're interested and don't mind a biased recommendation! :-)

From Tea Reducing Mercury Absorption to Probiotics Supporting Weight Loss

I'm cleaning up my office and reading all sorts of interesting random factoids in news stories that I saved for a Friday just like today: rainy, overcast, not at all inviting for a walk mid-day!

"Watch the Mercury Drop" was reported in Men's Health with the article advising sushi bar regulars to drink green or black tea along with their mercury-laden raw fish. Apparently, the catechins in tea pair up somehow with mercury to create new compounds that "can't be absorbed into the body during digestion," thus reducing mercury absorption by a gigantic 92% -- now that's newsworthy as mercury is such nasty stuff in the body.

"Even a Blind Man Can See" was reported in the Washington Post; the article is about neuroscientists who theorized that a completely blind man was sensing the world through his eyes based on successfully navigating a hallway filled with with obstructions such as chairs and boxes. While the scientists believe this proves that signals entering the eyes are somehow registering in the brain, I wonder if it isn't more along the lines of recent research demonstrating quantum information processing, whereby information is "teleported" over from one atom to another despite being completely separated by a meter of space. Is it the eyes receiving the signal or the body in general? It really doesn't matter, inquiring minds like to speculate as well as know.

"A Small Glass of Wine Could Delay Dementia" was published in The Daily Telegraph; the article is about a study of almost 6,000 people between the ages of 70 and 82. Males scored relatively similarly on memory and language tests, while women consuming small amounts of alcohol (no more than two to three small glasses of wine each day) delayed onset of memory and cognition declines!

"Probiotics Benefit Gastric Bypass Surgery Patients" was presented at the Digestive Disease Week in 2008, with the Stanford University study showing that bypass patients lost more weight when taking probiotics than those who did not. The probiotics group had lower fasting insulin, lipoprotein A and triglyceride levels, and higher good HDL cholesterol levels compared with the placebo group. Remember, bacteria in the human body weigh more than any single organ, so ensuring the colonies are filled with "friendlies" (probiotics) is critical for all of us.

Okay, so I have a boatload of stuff squirreled away, but I think it's time for lunch, so I shall put the rest away (arcane stuff like the fact that chlorophyll is considered very unstable after isolation and purification and why researchers use chlorophyllin in chemoprotection studies instead of garden-variety chlorophyl).

Sigh. Filing of any kind is not one of my long suits.

Improved Constant Health Gaining New Fans

I know. Constant Health was my labor of love, inspired by my father's illness and a longing to make concentrated supplementation easier than opening scads of bottles with little red lids.

We had a very good year based on the Pioneer Integrative Medical Clinic's enthusiastic adoption of Constant Health for their very selective in-clinic store. As many of you know, the original formula was not always a love-at-first-taste kind of affair. We took all the feedback, revised the formula in some really important ways (doubling the protein, eliminating the dextrose, and most importantly, eliminating the lo han guo sweetener that, while many liked, some could just not stand).

And then I heard from Tess that Teri confessed that she could "not really get behind the old formula" because she didn't like the taste that well herself. Ouch.

Teri is now a big enthusiast of both flavors, which helps, as when you talk to Teri about anything she is enthusiastic about, you "want some of what she's having" (a la that infamous scene from When Harry Met Sally).

Teri is busy sending little samples to people who hated the original formula (if you are one of these folks, let Teri know).

Meanwhile, I am enjoying my last jars of the original French Vanilla and feeling nostalgic.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dementia Held at Bay with Social Activity & Calm

Afraid of dementia? I am. My paternal grandmother, Idelle, died after many years of ever-declining mental function from Alzheimer's.

New research published in Neurology indicates that people who are more socially active and those who are more calm and relaxed are both 50% less likely to suffer from dementia. Wow. No cost. Big payoffs in how one feels (more connected, less stress).

Apparently, chronic distress can alter the hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for processing memory. The hippocampus is smaller in patients who suffer mild cognitive decline and go on to develop Alzheimer's dementia than those who experience cognitive stability or improvement. And, chronic stress, alas, is correlated with a shrinking hippocampus.

If ever there was a powerful call to mindfulness practices (breathwork, yoga, meditation), then perhaps the physiological protection calm can provide is this call. Even introverts can work this side of the equation!

CarePages - A New Kind of Social Space

My friend from the Hippocrates Health Institute, Almari, is heading into a bone marrow transplant next month after many rounds of chemo already and learning that she has an untreatable mutation of leukemia.

Almari started a blog on a site called, which was designed to help patients update family and friends during a health challenge. Without the effort of keeping dozens of people up to date, Almari posts pictures of her dogs, her experiences, her progress, and we all feel closer to her and touched by her openness in sharing her life in this new social space medium (a kind of or for people with life-threatening diseases and health challenges).

If you or someone you love is facing a health challenge, you may want to check out the CarePages site. I have nothing to do with the people or organization behind this site, I am just one touched reader.

Iodine Deficiency More Common Than Most Think

My regular readers know that I did a 3-week health retreat at the Hippocrates Health Institute to deal with a host of odd conditions, including desperately dry eyes. While my health was much improved, my bone density is on the mend, and my energy is back to normal, my eyes were still dry.

A friend of mine, one of those rarest of breeds, an integrative pharmacist, Mike Ciell told me that I was probably iodine deficient. I should have listened to Mike because when it comes to biochemistry, Mike knows the biochemistry of nutrition as well as anyone I know. He explained that because iodine is displaced by chlorine, sitting in chlorinated pools and whirlpools and drinking chlorinated water cause iodine deficiencies that are far more widespread and under-recognized than most people will ever realize.

Turns out I wasn't even eating iodized salt at home, so a deficiency made all sorts of sense.

Mike promised that my dry eyes would improve if I took a formula called "Lugol's" and he added that I would also enjoy an added benefit: softer skin. Mike explained that the iodine would allow cholesterol to move into my skin to make it more supple. Hmm. That's enough to make most women want to know if they need supplemental iodine.

And, within a week of taking a couple of drops of Lugol's formula, indeed my dry eyes cleared up and, lo and behold, my skin felt softer. Whoo hoo!

A nutrient-based (instead of an antibiotic or steroid) intervention. No eye drops to fuss with all day long (or worse, all night long). And inexpensive to boot!

I'm incredibly grateful for the amazing people who surround me with their wise advice and counsel. Thank you Mike! You're the best!

Meanwhile, post a comment here or let me know your experience with iodine and/or the famous Lugol's solution. You never know, maybe I could get the "kat" to order some for the Co-op at our usual great prices.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hydrochloric Acid - Too Little, Too Much?

My regular readers know I've been working on healing a leaky gut (from allergens in my diet primarily -- the elimination diet is rigorous but paying off, by the way).

When I saw my naturopath recently, I asked her about taking hydrochloric acid or HCl, as I was taking it with many of my meals (sometimes 350mg and sometimes 600mg dosages). She advised me to start with the lowest dosage possible and take one tablet more each day with meals until I hit an acidic feeling level and then to back off to the previous day's amount. She noted that this is the naturopath's old-fashioned, low-tech way to assess the level of HCl needed to support digestion.

Excessive levels of HCl can cause havoc with the stomach lining, which, of course, would reverse all my good work with my super-strict diet (no gluten, dairy, eggs, almonds, cranberries, or lima beans -- the joke is always, "ha ha ha, too bad about the lima beans, eh?!"). Thus, I'm being more careful with my HCl intake now.

Now for a quick tutorial for those of you who haven't studied this rather dull-sounding chemical!

Hydrochloric acid helps break down proteins and also plays an important role in signaling to the pancreas to release digestive enzymes and bicarbonate.

In my research, I also learned that HCl also plays an important role in ionization of minerals so they can be absorbed. Iron, calcium, and other mineral deficiencies can be correlated with low HCl production.

I also learned that apple cider vinegar and lemon juice with meals helps stimulate HCL production and that sufficient vitamin B6 (and other B vitamins) is required for HCl production (don't you just love little-known related factoids).

Finally, and quite importantly, HCl helps sterilize stomach contents so that bad bacteria cannot hitch a ride into the small intestine for invasive and destructive colonization.

Plenty of folks over 40 or 50 have insufficient HCl for digestion; heartburn is often linked to low HCl levels and over-the-counter medicines only address the symptom and not the root cause and can lead to poor digestion, dysbiosis, leaky gut and allergies. Supplemental HCl is inexpensive, so the temptation is to just add some into your daily routine without considering dosage carefully.

However, please do be careful with your own self-treatment, as too much HCl can ulcerate the stomach's lining and botch all your finest health efforts. And, supplemental HCl is often best used on a short-term basis, wherein natural HCl production may return on its own.

Ideally, you should consult with your healthcare practitioner regarding supplemental HCl, as many different conditions can masquerade as nothing more than a stomach acid imbalance.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Grape Seed Extract & Leukemia Cell Suicide

At the Hippocrates Health Institute, I met a lovely woman with dark brown hair and very fair skin from South Africa. Almari (I love her name) now lives in Los Angeles and, despite her zest for life and beauty and radiance and outward appearance of health, has leukemia.

Almari is heading in for a bone marrow transplant on February 2nd and asked that I keep her in my thoughts. I will also keep her in my heart and am praying for her complete recovery. Perhaps you can too, as the power of our vast connectedness is only starting to be understood.

While I regularly read the science news , scanning for natural approaches to heal disease and promote health, my attention is more attuned to leukemia these days after meeting Almari.

On December 22nd, a press release from the American Association for Cancer Research got my attention when they reported:

"An extract from grape seeds forces laboratory leukemia cells to commit cell suicide, according to researchers from the University of Kentucky. They found that within 24 hours, 76 percent of leukemia cells had died after being exposed to the extract."

That's an amazing statistic. If a pharmaceutical drug could combat cancer cells so heroically in 24 hours, all without harming normal cells, well the originating company's stock rise would be enough to put the U.S. economy into a good mood.

Instead, this research is being quietly reported in this month's Clinical Cancer Research journal.

The press release on grape seed extract and leukemia cells went on to report:

"These results could have implications for the incorporation of agents such as grape seed extract into prevention or treatment of hematological malignancies and possibly other cancers,” said the study’s lead author, Xianglin Shi, Ph.D., professor in the Graduate Center for Toxicology at the University of Kentucky.

“What everyone seeks is an agent that has an effect on cancer cells but leaves normal cells alone, and this shows that grape seed extract fits into this category,” he said.

While the researchers are cautious and say it's premature to see grape seed extract as a chemo-protective agent, it's still very promising research from my perspective. Here's to all the right follow-on research and to an era where this kind of research -- on safe, natural, truly healing agents from nature -- gets more prominent notice and concommitant funding.