Herbs and Supplements

  1. Count on HGH instead of counting sheep

    Count on HGH instead of counting sheep

    The level of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in our blood tends to decline as we age. In some very elderly patients, it goes to zero. I suspect, although I haven't seen any studies on it, that as you approach the zero level, you approach the Pearly Gates. In the past, I've explored the possible relationship between insomnia and HGH deficiency. In 1998 I predicted that maybe, in conjunction with melatonin, HGH could be the answer to insomnia among the elderly.

    A University of Chicago School of Medicine study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association has confirmed what I suspected: "The percentage of sleep decreases from 18.9 percent to 3.4 percent from early adulthood to mid-life, and that this change is paralleled by a decrease in growth hormone secretion."

    However, the Chicago researchers are taking an approach to the issue with which I disagree. They posit that insufficient sleep is depressing HGH levels in these patients. Therefore, they reason, the solution is to increase sleep by some pharmacologic method; i.e., some form of sleeping pill that will, in turn, increase HGH levels. Then, the patients will get the antiaging benefit of the increased HGH levels.

    Doctors and drug makers have been looking, without success, for the magic pill to treat insomnia at least since the time of Shakespeare ("Sleep, sweet sleep"). HGH will improve sleep, but sleeping pills are not going to raise HGH levels by any significant degree.

    As I said above, if you are over 40, you probably need HGH supplementation. But the HGH products readily available in health food stores are a waste of money. If you are serious about reaching a healthy old age, find a doctor who understands HGH therapy. (You may wish to contact the American College for the Advancement of Medicine at 800-532-3688 for a referral.) You will have to take a shot of HGH, similar to an insulin injection, four days a week. Once you have stabilized, the nurse can teach you how to give yourself the shot or a member of your family can do it.

    No Alzheimer's nun!

    The naysayers on the importance of nutrients for health don't sneer as they used to. They have been silenced by the overwhelming evidence in favor of nutritional therapy for both prevention and treatment of a number of conditions.

    We have known for years that folic acid is essential to prevent certain birth defects and in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. I have written extensively on the importance of folate in the neutralization of homocysteine and xanthine oxidase. The latest discovery on the benefits of folic acid may be as momentous as these earlier findings.

    A continuing study of 678 nuns has revealed that those who showed little evidence of Alzheimer's disease at the time of their deaths, all elderly, also had high levels of folic acid when they died. There was not a single case of Alzheimer's disease, which was confirmed by post-mortem examination of their brains.

    Of course, there are a lot of confounding factors in a study like this one: Were the nuns all from the same village or area where people are known to enjoy long lives? Did they drink red wine consistently all of their lives? Did they eat a lot of high-quality animal protein and animal fat? Did they restrict their amounts of refined carbohydrates?

    Whether this study is valid or not, folic acid (folate) has proven itself to be a "broad-spectrum" nutrient. Just imagine protection from high blood pressure, depression, stroke, blood-clot formation, cardiovascular disease, cancer protection, and now possibly Alzheimer's disease. That's quite an arsenal for a single nutrient!

    While vegetables and fruit contain folic acid, cooking washes most of it out from the vegetables. Your most reliable sources are egg yolks, liver, and fish. The U.S. recommended daily allowance of folic acid for adults is 400 micrograms a day. Using their typical overkill tactics, they've made it illegal for a supplement company to recommend any more than 800 micrograms a day. Larger amounts are quite safe and most likely beneficial. I recommend a supplement of 1,000 micrograms daily.

  2. The great kava witch hunt

    The great kava witch hunt

    One headline, just one headline, engineered by the FDA for press consumption, killed the market for one of the safest and most effective herbs overnight: "The popular herbal supplement kava may be linked to serious liver injury, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned" That's all it took. Sales were halted in Switzerland, France, and Britain. And Germany is moving to make kava a prescription drug, the ultimate aim in all these countries, as well as the U.S.

    This is the final blow in a long line of huffing and puffing from the FDA about the dangers of kava, an herb proven effective for alleviating anxiety and depression.

    But the real kicker? The FDA admits the whole thing is still a mystery and has no idea if kava is really involved at all.

    Kava, a member of the pepper family, has been used by South Sea natives for hundreds of years. In modern-day herb therapy it is used for insomnia, stress and anxiety. It works better than a psychiatrist and is a heck of a lot cheaper.

    A liver reaction to kava, if it exists at all, is extremely rare. If aspirin, anti-cholesterol drugs, blood pressure medications, and antibiotics were treated with the same caution and criticism kava is receiving, they would all be taken off the market. But money talks, and the drug companies regulate the FDA, not the other way around.

    If you don't drink excessively and don't have liver disease, you shouldn't worry about toxicity to kava. If the FDA has managed to scare you, then I recommend you have some liver function tests taken. When they come back normal, and you realize that kava has helped you without doing an ounce of harm, you can continue to take this excellent herb for your anxiety.

    What you don't know CAN hurt you

    According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers reporting on the effectiveness of new drugs give short shrift to information on their safety and side effects.

    Out of 192 articles giving the results of randomized drug trials that compared drugs against each other and against placebo, only about a third of the studies gave specific information about toxicity levels or the severity of side effects. Only about half spelled out details about the reactions that led patients to drop out of the trial. This is called "selective filtering."

    On average, less than a third of a page was devoted to side effects and safety. The same amount of space was taken up by the listings of contributor names and institutional affiliations. Coincidence?

  3. Nose guard

    Sinus infections in children, like ear infections, are often mistreated by doctors. The knee-jerk reaction is to reach for the prescription pad and dole out antibiotics. I have preached for 40 years that this is bad medicine; nobody listened.
  4. More than "expensive urine"

    Supplementing with vitamins and minerals is the only way to combat those deficiencies. And the benefits of supplements may go beyond simply establishing the status quo.
  5. It's your call

    Tens of millions of people use cell phones. It seems that if they were a danger to health, we would have evidence of it by now. However, there is always the fear of long-term exposure with today's children.
  6. Cure for the common cold? Zinc again!

    Researchers from the University of Michigan report that most symptoms of colds, especially coughs, disappeared much faster for patients taking zinc.
  7. Slowing macular degeneration…

    Doctors and scientists have known for some time that lutein has a significant effect in slowing the onset and severity of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), a disabling eye deterioration that threatens everyone who lives long enough.
  8. Bee propolis one, urologists zero

    You might think this is just one isolated case - our RESPONSIBLE medical community would NEVER push a prescription down our throats when an herbal supplement performs better, right? Hmmm…
  9. The NIH has foot-in-mouth disease

    The 38 "experts" of the NIH are promoting (surprise) condoms for the prevention of venereal disease.

    The common herb echinacea appears to have cancer-ameliorating properties… Although light exercise has some value, moderate and vigorous exercise is now considered more favorable for health.

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