1. DHEA access in jeopardy

    DHEA access in jeopardy

    The government might as well drain all the hormones right out of your body. That's basically what they're doing anyway now that DHEA has become the latest in the line of supplements that they're forcing to walk the bureaucratic plank.

    It's bad enough that you naturally lose this hormone as you age, but if you lose your ability to replace it, suddenly you're up you-know-what creek without a paddle.

    The bill before the Senate, S. 762, would classify DHEA as an anabolic steroid. Such a classification would land this important naturally occurring hormone on a list of controlled substances, which means you'd no longer be able to get it without a prescription from your doctor.

    Someone needs to tell these bozos that DHEA is NOT an anabolic steroid. DHEA is a perfectly safe - and incredibly beneficial hormone. But as with most things, you make less of it as you get older (sometimes as much as 50% less by the time you hit 50 years old) - which makes supplementing with it extremely vital for a significant portion of the population.

    Technically, your adrenal glands produce more of this one hormone than all of the other hormones combined. That fact alone should indicate that it's important in a whole host of bodily functions. Supplementing with DHEA can help to enhance your mood, improve your immune system, increase muscle mass, and boost your sex drive. And it's been shown to be helpful for those with autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, and even cancer.

    But as important as DHEA is, there's a bigger issue at hand. Don't be too nave to think that every small piece of legislation like this isn't taking us that much closer to the supplement hijacking that took Europe by storm two years ago. In case you're in the dark about the state of supplements on the other side of the pond, let me fill you in

    Under the EU Food Supplements Directive, an organization called the Food Supplements Directive (FSD) was put in place to determine what could and couldn't be sold as a food supplement. Anything not given their OK was banned - I'm talking hundreds and hundreds of vitamins and minerals. Many are available only by prescription now, and to top off this Communistic insanity, the "safe upper limits" are barely high enough to do any good anyway.

    If you don't take supplements, don't ignore this issue because you think it doesn't apply to you. Everyone should have the right to take natural supplements that could be a healthier, safer, cheaper, and more effective alternative to prescription drugs. If that right is taken way - and believe me, Big Pharma is chipping away at supplements little by little in an effort to make them disappear - the only options you'll be left with are costly drugs with even costlier side effects.

    Don't just sit there and do nothing - especially when making your voice heard is as easy as clicking here and signing your name to a pre-composed letter. I've already given Congress my two cents. It's time you gave them yours.

  2. Naturally Treating Depression

    Naturally Treating Depression

    Blues News

    Nature's one-two punch against depression

    I've written before about St. John's Wort for the treatment of depression. But long before I was writing about this powerful herb to you, I was suggesting it to patients as a worthy alternative to addictive, risky antidepressant drugs. And now, in the wake of the recent antidepressant/suicide scandal, it's more important than ever to explore substitutes for prescription blues-fighters.

    Along those lines, and in a perfect stroke of cosmic timing, Reuters Health reported in early February that a high-grade extract of St. John's Wort (also called hypericum perforatum) is MORE EFFECTIVE at treating moderate to severe depression than at least one commonly prescribed antidepressant drug: Glaxo SmithKline's Paxil.

    According to the article, researchers compared the treatment of more than 250 patients between 18 and 70 years of age for six weeks. At the end of the study, fully half of the patients in the St. John's Wort extract group reported improvement in their depression, while only a third of those in the Paxil group reported any benefits at all.

    And needless to say, the side effects experienced by the hypericum group were much fewer and farther between than in the drug group.

    This finding only mirrors what other studies have shown before: That St. John's Wort works. It's also one of the few herbal treatments that has met with truly widespread mainstream acceptance - just walk into any Wal-Mart or grocery store and you're likely to run smack into a 6-foot display rack of it

    There's only one problem: Not all St. John's Wort is created equal.

    Some kinds of supplements of this herb (and of every other herbal remedy, for that matter) are more effective than others. This is due to a couple of factors: Differences in the quality of the ingredients and differences in the "absorbability" of those ingredients. Unfortunately, there are no uniform standards of freshness, quality, bioavailability, or even recommended effective dosages in the supplement industry. And in my experience, such products run the gamut from utterly useless wastes of money to extremely effective medicine that's still a fraction of the cost of killer drugs.

    How do you find the good ones? A little online research helps, but good old-fashioned trial and error works, too. One rule of thumb, though: Cheap, "grocery store" vitamins and herbs tend not to be as powerful as those available through alternative medicine doctors and compounding pharmacies. To locate one of the latter, call the International Association of Compounding Pharmacists at (800)927-4227.

    And in more good news for drug-less depression therapy


    February was a good month for natural depression fighting. First, St. John's Wort gets some major affirmation - and now another old favorite of mine, DHEA, gets some well-deserved kudos

    According to a new study conducted by a branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, the hormone precursor DHEA (dihydroepiandrosterone) proved effective at combating so-called "mid-life onset" depression in roughly 50% of cases. Though I don't have the numbers handy, I'd bet this is at least as effective as what mainstream medicine considers "first-line" treatments: Anti-depressant drugs.

    The difference is that when used properly, DHEA is perfectly safe. In fact, your body produces more of this natural substance than all other hormones combined. Production typically peaks between 20 and 30 years of age, however - beyond that, your DHEA levels decline dramatically.

    This study marks the first time I can recall ever having heard of DHEA's effectiveness against depression, but previous research has linked the hormone to benefits against heart disease, arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and some other afflictions typical in the aging.

    Currently, it's widely available in health food and vitamin stores (perhaps even Wal-Mart and the corner grocery) just about everywhere. If you're feeling low, or just want to live longer, you might consider picking some up.

    Doing - and reviewing - what's natural,

    William Campbell Douglass II, MD

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