Alternatives & Traditional

Posts tagged ‘liver’

Natural Prevention of Migraines

Migraines start when the blood vessels around the brain constrict tightly.  These blood vessels then rebound vasodilate causing them to leak leading to inflammation.

There can be multiple triggers for migraines including dietary amines, allergies, hormones, bright lights, etc.  Therefore, anyone suffering from migraines should keep a migraine log to look for their trigger so the trigger can be addressed as well.  A migraine log consists of keeping a list of whatever was eaten, or drunk, what you were exposed to (fumes, pollen, etc.), if a woman is it near her menstrual cycle, bright lights, etc. prior to the migraine.  Keeping a migraine log though can help narrow down the possible causes.  For example do they come on after ingesting foods or beverages containing tyramines?  Are they triggered off by smells or bright lights?  Did you ingest anything you were allergic to within the previous couple of days?………….

The best supplements for migraines are magnesium, coleus forskohlii (aka forskohlii) and kudzu.  

Magnesium deficiencies are common and can lead to a host of problems, including frequent migraines.  An influx of calcium causes blood vessels to contract, leading to the initial constriction.  Magnesium is a calcium antagonist, and relaxes blood vessels to help prevent the initial vasoconstriction that precedes migraines.  For this reason the magnesium should be taken by itself, not with any calcium.  This includes with foods that may contain calcium.  

I recommend taking the magnesium on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes before meals. Recommended dose is 300mg twice daily, morning and afternoon, on an empty stomach.  

If you take a calcium/magnesium supplement this is best taken at night before bed.  

Not all magnesium supplements are the same.  Magnesium oxide is the most commonly sold magnesium supplement due to being the least expensive form of magnesium.  Magnesium oxide though is poorly absorbed, neutralizes the stomach acid leading to various health problems and is used as a laxative because it burns the intestinal wall.  The best forms of magnesium are magnesium malate or citrate.  Magnesium itself as well as the acids used to make these forms of magnesium supplements, malic acid and citric acid, not only enhance absorption, but they also contribute to increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  ATP is the fuel that helps cells function and function properly.

Forskohlii and kudzu are both vasodilators to help prevent the initial vasoconstriction. Recommended dose is 2 capsules of either herb 3 times daily before meals, and in addition at the first signs of an impending migraine.

Forskohlii not only helps prevent the initial vasoconstriction, but forskohlii is also anti-inflammatory.  Forskohlii’s anti-inflammatory effects comes from fosrskohlii’s ability to block both inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes.

Kudzu is preferred if there are hormonal imbalances since it also aids in hormone balance.  

For hormonal induced migraines digestive bitters are the quickest way to help normalize the hormones.  When bitters come in to contact with the bitter receptors of the tongue they stimulate the receptors, which in turn stimulates the vagus nerve.  Vagus stimulation increases output of digestive secretions, which is how they got the name digestive bitters.  Bitters also improve liver function though where excess hormones are broken down in the body.   

Bitters are sold in health food stores under names such as  Chinese Bitters, Grape Bitters, Swedish Bitters, etc. 

Recommended use is ½ dropper full on the tongue three times daily before meals.  It is important to drink plenty of water throughout the day when using bitters to help with removal of toxins, including excess hormones, being processed by the liver.

Bitters are not recommended though in the cases of peptic ulcer since bitters increase stomach acidity and if the gallbladder has been removed since bitters increase bile release.

Rice bran or oat bran can also help with hormone balance since they are both good sources of B vitamins needed by the liver to break down excess hormones.  These fibers also feed the intestinal flora, which also produce B vitamins for the body and further break down hormone metabolites.

I prefer rice bran since it also contains gamma oryzanol that helps with hormone balance.

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Why Statins and Low Cholesterol Cause Heart Attacks and Strokes

No studies have ever proven that high cholesterol causes heart disease since this simply is not true.  Inflammation, not high cholesterol leads to atherosclerosis.  Yet the pharmaceutical companies keep pushing the cholesterol myth to promote drug sales while ignoring the fact that they are endangering lives.

Statins are the most commonly prescribed form of medicine for the treatment of “high” cholesterol.  The drug companies have failed though to inform the public about the dangers of not only these drugs, but also of the dangers of low cholesterol, which among other things can cause heart attack and stroke.

I find it rather ironic that the drug companies are pushing statins claiming they help prevent heart disease when these drugs are well known to increase the risk of heart failure, heart attacks and strokes!  There are several reasons for this.

Other than liver damage, the best known side effect of statins is a condition known as rhabdomyolosis.  This is a condition in which muscle tissue deteriorates.  The deterioration occurs from declining levels of CoQ10 in the tissues, which is required for the proper function of cells and their energy production through the formation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  What people often do not stop and think about is that the heart is also a muscle and is prone to the same damaging effects from the use of statins.  If taking statins I highly recommend taking at least 200mg of CoQ10 daily to help reduce the risk of statin induced heart failure.

The increased risk of heart attack and stroke actually occur for a totally different reason.  If you read my blog articles on the dangers of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) you will see that the risk of heart attack and stroke are related.  Several NSAIDs, such as Vioxx and Celebrex have been either pulled off the market or have required stronger warning labels warning of the increased risk of heart attack and stroke from these drugs.  Even though the drug companies tried to make it sound like a new discovery, the risk had been known prior to the drugs ever reaching the market.  The problem stems from the way these drugs work.  NSAIDs interfere with inflammatory prostaglandins.  Inflammatory prostaglandins are hormones that dilate blood vessels.  For example during injuries these hormones open up blood vessels to increase oxygen and nutrient levels to the area to promote healing.  By inhibiting these hormones NSAIDs decrease blood flow to the organs including the heart and brain.  If the blood supply is sufficiently reduced to the heart and brain, heart attack or stroke can occur.

So what does all this have to do with statins and cholesterol levels?  Prostaglandins, as with other hormones, are formed from cholesterol.  Therefore, reduced cholesterol levels lead to decreased prostaglandin formation, which in turn decreases blood flow to the organs.  This explains why studies have consistently shown increased mortality with decreased cholesterol levels.

Medicinal Properties of Chaparral Part 2

Chaparral is best known for its ability to treat cancer effectively.  The antitumor effects of chaparral have been verified in studies conducted by the universities of both Nevada and Utah.  One of the things that makes chaparral unique in its ability to treat cancer is the fact that it “attacks” the cancer through multiple mechanisms.  Since the majority of cancers have a microbial origin the first mechanism is through the destruction of viruses, bacteria and fungi.  Chronic inflammation has also been linked to the formation of cancers meaning that chaparral’s anti-inflammatory properties can inhibit some cancers.  Chaparral can inhibit cancers triggered, or aggravated, by free radicals and toxins due to its antioxidant and cleansing properties.  Chaparral’s liver cleansing properties makes it helpful for hormonal induced cancers since the liver is responsible for the breakdown of excess hormones.  And finally, chaparral inhibits mitochondrial enzymes, which in turn inhibits the cellular division of cancer cells.  In short, this means chaparral can inhibit cancer growth.

Chaparral’s ability to kill microbes makes it useful for a number of diseases linked to microbial infections.  These include cancers (viral, bacterial, and fungal forms), heart disease (chlamydia bacteria), hepatitis (viral, bacterial, and fungal forms), rheumatoid (chlamydia bacteria) and other forms of infectious arthritis, multiple sclerosis (human herpes virus type 6), ulcerative colitis (mycoavium complex bacterium), Crohn’s disease (mycoavium complex bacterium), type 1 diabetes (viral), pneumonia (viral, bacterial, and fungal forms), bronchitis (viral, bacterial, and fungal forms), etc.  One of the most interesting areas of study for the use of chaparral is in the treatment of herpes infections where studies are looking very promising.

Chaparral is very resinous and so is not easy to prepare as a tea.  Resins and water do not mix and the resin will separate out and stick to the pan wall when trying to make the tea.  Therefore, I recommend not using this herb as a tea.  I personally prefer the powder mixed with other herbs.  By combining the powder with other powdered herbs the other powdered herbs will help prevent the resins in the chaparral from clumping the powder in to a big “gumball” when it comes in to contact with water.  This helps maintain a larger surface area thereby increasing the absorption and effectiveness of the herb.  In addition, the addition of other herbs can increase the effectiveness of each herb . For instance, chaparral combined with red clover blossom increases the antitumor activity of both herbs.  Combining chaparral with pau d’ arco (lapacho, taheebo, ipe roxo) increases the antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal activities of both herbs.

Again, the FDA tried to claim that chaparral was linked to 13 cases of hepatitis though medical reviews subsequently found no evidence that the chaparral was linked to the cases.  In fact, it was shown that many of the patients were found to have pre-existing liver failure or were taking pharmaceutical drugs well known for causing liver damage.  On the other hand, fresh chaparral does contain unstable alkaloids that may damage the liver if ingested for a length of time.  Therefore, chaparral should be dried and aged several months before use to destroy these alkaloids.

Chaparral Safety

Medical journals have reported that the use of the herb chaparral has been linked to cases of hepatitis.  The chaparral issue started a while back when out of the clear blue there were 13 cases of hepatitis reported in a two year period in people taking chaparral supplements. There are several unanswered questions though as to the validity of this claim.

For instance, chaparral has been in use for thousands of years and is still widely used from Mexico to South America to cure various diseases such as cancer.  Yet there have only been 13 isolated cases of hepatitis reported in a two year period.

Furthermore, up to recently the chaparral extract nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) was widely used in the food industry for its powerful antioxidant properties.  It was added to foods to prevent oils in the foods from becoming rancid.

NDGA is also the active component that inhibits the cellular division of cancer cells and destroys pathogens such as many viruses.

Despite decades of use as a food ingredient there were never any cases of hepatitis reported.  And the FDA never explained why there were only 13 isolated cases supposedly from chaparral in this two year period with no cases reported before, nor since.

By the way, contrary to popular belief, chaparral was never banned from the market.  The FDA called for a voluntary moratorium since they could not legally ban the herb.  The FDA can only ban an herb if they can prove that the herb shows an unreasonable risk to safety, which the FDA could never do with chaparral.  When stores did not comply with their “voluntary moratorium” though, the FDA would harass stores that they found openly selling chaparral despite their actions being a violation of the law.  The reason that the FDA was never able to prove an unreasonable danger was because the FDA left out some very important facts about these 13 patients.  These included the facts that many of these patients were taking pharmaceutical drugs well known for causing liver damage.  Other patients were reported to have preexisting liver failure, BEFORE they started taking the chaparral.
Another fact they left out is the stability of the alkaloids in the plant.  Chaparral does contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) when fresh.  Some PAs are harmful to the liver, though they are also relatively unstable.  As an example, both fresh comfrey and dried comfrey have been tested on rats to test for liver toxicity.  What was determined was that only the fresh comfrey caused hepatitis in the rats but not the dried comfrey since the PAs are readily destroyed by oxidation when dried.  The same was found in cattle feeds that contained plants with PAs.   Studies showed the PAs were destroyed in about 20 to 30 days of curing the hay rendering the hay safe.

This brings up another point.  Some herbs have to be processed in a certain way to make them safe and useful.  For instance rehmannia is Chinese foxglove root that is boiled in 9 changes of water to render it safe.  Jack in the Pulpit root has to be aged for two years to prevent caustic burns.  Some anthraquinone laxative herbs must be aged for several years before they can be used.  The point here is that an herb should not be considered dangerous just because it is not prepared right since the herb can be safe if properly prepared.  Chaparral should not be used fresh.  Instead, it should be dried and aged a few months to make sure all the PAs are destroyed before use.

Rogaine

Male pattern baldness (MPB) is characterized by the loss of hair primarily in the areas of the temples and the top of the head.  A more radical form of testosterone, known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the trigger for MPB.  DHT kills the hair follicles, which causes the hair to fall out.  The temples and the top of the head are the primary targets for DHT because DHT receptors are concentrated in these areas.

The drug minoxidil, sold under the name Rogaine, was originally being tested as a treatment for high blood pressure as a dilator of blood vessels.  The drug failed for this purpose.   A noted side effect though of the drug was increased hair growth in some of the test subjects.  Therefore, minoxidil was marketed instead as a hair loss remedy for both men and women.

Minoxidil works by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles.  It does have some serious side effects though, which includes liver damage.

Increasing blood flow to the scalp to assist hair growth is hardly a new idea.  People have long used irritating herbs such as cayenne pepper to stimulate circulation to the hair follicles.  Brushing the hair preferably with a boar bristle or wood brush also does a good job of stimulating scalp circulation.  Scalp massage is probably the easiest method to stimulate blood flow to the follicles.  Not only does it feel great, but it is free and it does not damage the liver.

Keep in mind though that if the hair follicle is dead that increasing blood flow to the scalp will not bring it back to life.  If there are still fine, living hairs present then there is a chance to regrow the hair.

PolyHeme Part 2

In August of 2006 Northfield Laboratories tried to get accelerated approval for PolyHeme.  The request was declined by the FDA until further study results come in.  I guess they were in a rush since they signed a $6.7 million agreement on June 16th, 2006 to purchase a 106,000 square foot property that they intend to use to manufacture their product.  This is really putting the cart before the horse since they don’t have approval for their blood substitute, nor is there any guarantee of approval.

This brings up the question of how far will Northfield Laboratories go to get their blood substitute approved to avoid losing their investment and the money of their investors?  After all this has been a costly venture.  Not only have they spent $6.7 million for the building they intend to manufacture their product in but they are also paying the hospitals $10,000 for each patient they test the blood substitute on.  Tack on to that other research and development costs, manufacturing equipment costs and other expenses.

Pursuant to CFR 50.24 certain criteria must be met in order for testing to be performed on patients without their consent.  For example, section (2) (ii) states “Appropriate animal and other preclinical studies have been conducted, and the information derived from those studies and related evidence support the potential for the intervention to provide a direct benefit to the individual subjects”.  So where are these previous animal or preclinical studies?  The only study was halted early after a significant increase in deaths in patients receiving PolyHeme.  Section (2) (iii) states “Risks associated with the investigation are reasonable in relation to what is known about the medical condition of the potential class of subjects, the risks and benefits of standard therapy, if any, and what is known about the risks and benefits of the proposed intervention or activity.”  Again, the only clinical study was halted early because of a disproportionate death rate between those receiving PolyHeme and those that did not.  This is hardly reasonable when standard therapy has been shown to be considerably safer and effective.

The regulation also requires that they try to gain consent prior to, or as soon as possible from a legal representative such as a relative.  From what I have seen I don’t think this is being done.  For instance, if a married couple is in an accident, and only one has sufficient trauma to require blood are they obtaining consent from the spouse?  It does not appear that they are.  Instead, saline or PolyHeme were not chosen for the patient until the patient was on the way to the hospital.  And according to news reports, the decision was based on sealed envelopes the paramedics opened in route to determine what treatment the patient would be given.  Such a practice would prohibit the paramedics from explaining the risks and benefits to the spouse to allow them to make an informed decision or give time to obtain consent even if the spouse was aware of the risks.  If no legal representative can be found then the company must provide proof of attempts to contact a legal representative.

Section (7) (ii) states “ Public disclosure to the communities in which the clinical investigation will be conducted and from which the subjects will be drawn, prior to initiation of the clinical investigation, of plans for the investigation and its risks and expected benefits”.

The first problem with this is that Northfield Laboratories did not disclose the adverse effects of their product found in the 1998 study.  In fact, they threatened to sue the group that made the fact public claiming that the adverse effects that included death were part of their trade secret.  I also see a problem with this regulation by the fact that everyone will not be aware of the study since not everyone follows or has access to the media.  For example, the homeless would not likely know about the study and therefore there will be no disclosure as is required to certain groups.  Despite this people in these groups may be subjected to the study.  The law does allow life saving measures in people unable to give consent such as unconscious patients.  This is called implied consent.  For instance, if a person tries to overdose on drugs to commit suicide and they refuse treatment the paramedics cannot touch the patient.  Once the patient passes out they can claim implied consent and start treatment.  The basis is that the person if they were conscious and able to give consent would likely give consent to save their life.  Does this apply to unapproved and untested drugs like PolyHeme though?  I doubt if such an argument would hold up.  A person would probably give consent if they knew or had reason to believe that the drug or treatment had been thoroughly tested and was an approved treatment.  A reasonable person is not likely going to consent to an unproven and potentially dangerous unapproved drug or treatment.  Especially when safer and proven therapies exist.  Northfield Laboratories claims to have followed CFR 50.24 explicitly.  I disagree based on the facts that they never completed previous trials, their product has a higher death rate than controls and those receiving blood, they have not informed the public of their testing, or the possible dangers of the therapy and I don’t see any evidence that they are really trying to obtain consent as is required by law.

Patients were allowed to opt out of the test in case they suffered a severe trauma that would leave them unable to give consent.  To do so though they had to obtain a blue plastic bracelet from the company that they had to be wearing at the time paramedics arrived.  In order to get the bracelet the person would first have to be aware of the test.  Many people were not aware that the test was going on until testing had almost been completed.  And as previously pointed out, people that did not follow the media or who had no access to the media would have still been uninformed about the testing.  The same could apply to those who do not speak English.  Even if the story came on the TV news it does not mean they would understand what the test was about or how to opt out.

So what are the potential side effects of PolyHeme?  Previous hemoglobin products have all been shown to cause kidney damage, liver damage, high blood pressure and inflammation of the arteries.  There is also concern that allergic reactions may occur.  Northfield Laboratories claims that these adverse effects are not possible and their product is safe.  Other researchers disagree.  And Northfield Laboratories has not had the greatest track record of being honest to the public about the safety record of their product.  For instance when they tried to suppress the fact that 10 patients died within one week of receiving their product and no patients receiving real blood died.  Or the fact that their study was halted early due to problems.  Would more deaths have occurred if the study had continued its full duration?  Other adverse affects reported by the use of PolyHeme were significant increases in the rate of heart attacks, arrhythmias and pneumonia.

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