Alternatives & Traditional

Posts tagged ‘vitamin C’

Medicinal Properties of Chaparral Part 1

If I made a list of my top 10 favorite herbs, chaparral (Larrea tridentata) would definitely be on that list.  This hardy plant, comprising over 20 species, cannot only survive the extremes of desert life, but can also live to be well over 10,000 years old.  In fact, I have read that one of the oldest living plants on earth is a massive chaparral plant in California believed to be over 25,000 years old.  Natural habitats for chaparral include the Southwestern US, Mexico, South America, South Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean.

Medicinally, chaparral is hard to beat.  The plant has strong antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-tumor properties.  Chaparral is also a great anti-inflammatory and raises vitamin C levels in the adrenal glands.  By strengthening the adrenals, inflammatory conditions are reduced in the body, stress responses are improved, immune function is strengthened, depression can be alleviated, blood sugar can be stabilized, allergies/asthma reduced, etc.  Chaparral is an extremely strong blood purifier, which is probably in part due to its high sulfur content.  Its sulfur content could also help explain its historical use as a hair growth agent.

In addition, chaparral is the strongest antioxidant I have seen.  Many antioxidant manufacturers claim that their antioxidant is the strongest known, but they are misleading.  For example, manufacturers of Pycnogenol claimed that they had the strongest antioxidant known.  They even went as far to compare the strength of their product to vitamin E.  The problem is that Pycnogenols, or PCOs, are water soluble.  Natural vitamin E on the other hand is lipid (fat) soluble.  This is like comparing a car to a bicycle.  They are both a source of transportation, but with big differences.  And if I were to compare Pycnogenols with vitamin E, I would say the vitamin E is the car, which is more powerful, and the Pycnogenols are the bicycle.  This is because I feel the cell membrane, which is composed of lipids is more prone to free radical damage than the components within the water portion of the cell.  Chaparral is different because it is not limited to the water or lipid portions of the cell.  The antioxidants in chaparral work in both parts of the cell.

The antioxidants in chaparral include flavonoids, and a very powerful antioxidant known as nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA). NDGA is such a strong and effective antioxidant that it was actually used for decades as an antioxidant preservative for oils and foods, with full approval of the USDA.

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MSM

MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane) hit the market as a multi level marketing (MLM) product about 10 years ago.  As with other MLM products it was promoted with a lot of hype and misinformation.  What are the facts behind MSM?

MSM contains 34% sulfur by weight.  Elemental sulfur is produced as the MSM is metabolized.

Commercial MSM is not natural.  I had an MLM saleslady actually tell me that MSM was natural because it was derived from trees.  This is really stretching it.  MSM is created by the heating of the industrial solvent DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide).  When DMSO is heated an oxygen atom attaches forming DMSO2, which is also known as MSM.

DMSO is actually a byproduct of the paper industry, but this does not make DMSO natural either.  Many plastics are synthesized from natural compounds, but this does not make plastics natural.  When a chemical is altered by man to make a new chemical then the new chemical is not natural, it is synthetic.

Sulfur is essential to the body, although deficiencies are almost unheard of.  Sulfur is found in numerous foods we eat including garlic, onions, peppers, broccoli, beans, seaweeds, etc.

Sulfur is used in the production of proteins and hormones.  For example, sulfur aids in the formation of the proteins collagen, elastin and keratin.  Collagen gives connective tissues strength, while elastin gives the tissues their elasticity.  Keratin is the primary protein founding hair and nails.  Therefore, sulfur aids in the growth of hair and nails.  It is commonly thought that sulfur aids in strengthening the hair and nails though silica in the form of orthosilicic acid, is the primary compound that strengthens the hair and nails.  The hormone Insulin requires sulfur for its production.  Insulin is required for the regulation of blood sugar and the transport of vitamin C to immune cells.  Sulfur compounds also aid in the detoxification of the body.

Vitamin C Interactions

Pharmaceutical drugs often react with foods and supplements, including vitamin C.  And as we have seen, excessive vitamin C intake can interact with some nutritional compounds.  Sometimes these interactions are beneficial such as increasing the absorption of minerals.  And sometimes it leads to problems such as iron overload or copper and B12 deficiencies.
Another problem that is often overlooked is the interference of laboratory tests by excessive intake of vitamin C.  For example, excessive vitamin C intake may lead to false high or low bilirubin levels depending on the assay test being used.  Lactate dehydrogenase, cholesterol and triglyceride levels will read erroneously low.  Aspartate aminotransferase levels may read erroneously high.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) reported on a case in which a woman with unexplained anemia was taking 2,000mg of vitamin C daily.  When tested for occult blood in the stool repeated tests showed negative results.  The woman discontinued taking the vitamin C for 4 days, and when retested stool samples tested positive for blood.  It was also found that taking 750mg of vitamin C daily can interfere with detecting blood in stool and urine.

Vitamin C interferes with several glucose tests, including tests diabetics use at home.  Urinary glucose test strips will test false positive with as little as 2,000mg of vitamin C daily.  Home test strips can show normal blood glucose readings even when glucose levels are elevated or with as little as 2g of vitamin C daily.  Laboratory glucose tests may show erroneously low glucose levels with excessive vitamin C intake.

To decrease the risk of false laboratory readings it is recommended that all supplements be stopped at least 48 hours before having any lab work done.

Below is a link from the NIH and a portion of the article that discusses the interactions of vitamin C with drugs and supplements, and interference with laboratory tests.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-vitaminc.html

Interactions with Drugs

Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Vitamin C may increase adverse effects associated with acetaminophen.

Antacids: Vitamin C may increase adverse effects associated with aluminum-containing antacids such as aluminum hydroxide (Maalox, Gaviscon).

Aspirin: Vitamin C may increase blood levels and adverse effects of aspirin, whereas aspirin may decrease blood levels of vitamin C.

Barbiturates: The effects of vitamin C may be decreased by barbiturates including phenobarbital (Luminal, Donnatal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), or secobarbital (Seconal).

Fluphenazine (Permitil, Prolixin): Vitamin C supplementation may decrease levels of the drug fluphenazine in the body.

HIV medications (protease inhibitors): Concomitant administration of high doses of vitamin C can reduce steady-state indinavir plasma concentrations.

Levodopa (Dopar, Larodopa): There is limited case report evidence that high dose vitamin C may reduce side effects of levodopa therapy such as nausea or malcoordination.

Nicotine: Nicotine products such as cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, or nicotine patches may decrease the effects of vitamin C.

Oral contraceptives/estrogens: Oral estrogens may decrease the effects of vitamin C in the body. When taken together, vitamin C may increase blood levels of ethinyl estradiol.

Tetracyclines: The effects of vitamin C may be decreased by tetracycline antibiotics such as doxycycline (Vibramycin), minocycline (Minocin), or tetracycline (Sumycin).

Warfarin (Coumadin): Vitamin C in high doses appears to interfere with the blood thinning effects of Warfarin by lowering prothrombin time (PT) as noted in case reports in the 1970s.  Complications have not been reported (such as increased blood clots).

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Iron: When taken together, vitamin C may increase the absorption of iron in the gastrointestinal tract, although this effect appears to be variable and may not be clinically significant.

Lutein: Vitamin C may increase absorption of lutein vitamin supplements.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin, cyanocobalamin): Large doses of vitamin C may interfere with the absorption and metabolism of vitamin B12.

Interactions with Laboratory Tests

Bilirubin: Vitamin C supplements may cause false increases in tests of blood bilirubin levels.

Carbamazepine levels: Vitamin C supplements may cause false increases in blood carbamazepine levels.

Creatinine: Vitamin C supplements may cause false increases in blood creatinine levels.

Glucose: Vitamin C supplements may interfere with the accuracy of blood glucose tests.

LDH (lactose dehydrogenase): Vitamin C may cause a false decrease in blood LDH levels.

Prothrombin time (PT): Vitamin C in high doses appears to interfere with the blood thinning effects of warfarin by lowering prothrombin time (PT), as noted in case reports in the 1970s. Complications have not been reported (such as increased blood clots).

SGOT (glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase): Vitamin C supplements may cause false increases in blood SGOT levels.

Stool occult blood (guaiac): Vitamin C supplements can cause false-negative stool occult blood tests, within 48-72 hours after vitamin C ingestion.

Theophylline levels: Vitamin C supplements may cause false decreases in blood theophylline levels.

Uric acid levels: Vitamin C supplements may cause false increases in blood uric acid levels.

Urinary acetaminophen (Tylenol): Vitamin C supplements can cause false-negative urine acetaminophen tests.

Urinary glucose: Vitamin C supplements can cause false-positive urinary glucose results with the cupric sulfate reagent test and false-negative urinary glucose results with the glucose oxidase test, within 48-72 hours after vitamin C ingestion.

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