All Posts tagged vitamins

Papaya Promotes Healing and Aids in Digestion

Papaya is a colorful, pear-shaped fruit. Its skin is yellow, and its flesh varies from pink to bright orange.  Its center is composed of small black seeds.  Ripe, it is sweet and juicy.  Some say its flavor is similar to that of a cantaloupe.  Papaya is rich in many vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants including vitamin C, folate, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, carotenes, flavonoids, B vitamins, magnesium and pantothenic acid.  Its vitamin concentration in works well to help avert the oxidation of cholesterol. When cholesterol is allowed to oxidize, it adheres to and accumulates in the walls of blood vessels.  Therefore, its supplement may help ward off atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.  In addition, the carotenoids, antioxidants and vitamins in papaya can help keep your eyes healthy.  In fact, they may also reduce the risk of macular degeneration, an age-related condition resulting in loss of vision.

The vitamins and nutrients in papaya are definitely beneficial, but the primary therapeutic benefit is derived from its enzyme, papain.  Papain is a cysteine protease enzyme that is well known for its various digestive health benefits.  Papaya has been used for its medicinal benefits since the 18th century, but it wasn’t until 1870 when the papain enzyme itself was discovered.  Since that time, extensive research has been performed on its health benefits.

Papaya helps sooth the digestive system

  • As a useful digestive enzyme, papain helps the stomach to break down protein easily in order to facilitate the absorption of nutrients.
  • Its anti-inflammatory effects also helps soothe the stomach when it is upset.
  • It has been shown to be effective in treating ulcers.
  • Papain has been shown to help in regulating irritable bowel syndrome.
  • It helps to facilitate proper digestion and dissolves fats, relieving heartburn.
  • The enzymes also have been effective in relieving various food allergies.

Papaya helps maintain healthy-looking skin

  • Its enzymes help to soften the texture of the skin by dissolving various fats.
  • These enzymes are also helpful in treating swelling and bruising by reducing swelling.
  • Papain is known to help in cleaning the dead cells/tissues in the body, leaving healthy-looking skin.
  • Papain is also effective in curbing swelling that develops after surgery.

Papaya helps alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu.

  • Its enzymes reduce swelling and thin mucous.
  • Studies have revealed that papain helps in alleviate sore throat swelling as well as sinus pain.
  • Various studies have proven that papain is an excellent immunostimulant, which helps in boosting our immune system.

Papaya promotes healing.

  • With its anti-inflammatory effects, it helps reduce the pain and swelling of sprains/strains.
  • It reduces the swelling and speeds up the healing of burns.
  • It helps in the treatment of cold sores.
  • It helps promote wound healing, although this has not been scientifically proven as of yet.

You don’t need to consume papain supplements to gain its benefits; these benefits can be enjoyed by eating the papaya fruit as well.  However, if you do want to take the supplements, they come in the form of tablets as well as powder.  The supplements are generally produced by collecting the latex from the papaya fruit by scoring its neck.  The latex is either allowed to dry on the fruit itself or to drip inside a container suspended from the fruit.  Following this step, it is allowed to dry until it becomes a dry and crude material.  This is followed by a purification step in order to remove all the contaminants from it, and then the purified enzyme is supplied in the form of papain tablets or papain powder.  Like any other nutritional supplements an overdose of papaya enzyme can also lead to papaya enzyme side effects, and hence it’s important to have it in smaller doses. Ideally, one should have a nutritional diet with a small amount of papaya enzymes in it. These enzymes are very effective, and even a little amount of papaya enzymes is enough to keep you healthy and for tackling various disorders.


Nutritional Supplements for Osteoarthritis

There are a number of nutritional supplements that have been proven to help with the symptoms of osteoarthritis.  If you suffer from osteoarthritis, I hope these supplements may give you some relief.

Vitamin C supplementation can help counter the wearing away of cartilage.  Vitamin C is used throughout the body to manufacture a variety of tissues, including collagen.  Collagen forms a network of protein fibers that lay down the structural foundation for many tissues, including cartilage, bone, tendons and muscles, all necessary to keep joints strong and operating smoothly.  One study by the University of New York at Stony Brook found that vitamin C encourages the growth of cartilage cells by stimulating synthesis of these cells’ genetic material.  The recommended dosage is 3,000-10,000mg daily in divided doses.  High doses of vitamin C can lead to diarrhea so gradually start taking it until you see how sensitive you are to it.

Vitamin E supplementation can provide some pain relief.  Vitamin E fights inflammation by neutralizing the biochemicals that are produced during inflammation.  These biochemicals, which are released by immune cells, contain free radicals that can damage your cells.  Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant which protects the cells from the free radicals.  In a study by Israeli researchers, people with osteoarthritis who took 600 IU of vitamin E per day for 10 days had significant reduction in pain compared to those not taking vitamin E.  The recommended dosage is 400-600 IU/day.  You can also supplement with selenium, a mineral that increases the effectiveness of vitamin E in an amount of about 200 micrograms a day.

Vitamin B12 can help build up bones.  A few years ago researchers at the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles discovered that B12 stimulates cells in the bone that generate new bone.  This could be important to people with osteoarthritis because underneath the degenerating cartilage, the bone also deteriorates, causing additional pain and further cartilage erosion.  This led researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia to try giving B12 to people with osteoarthritis in their hands.  They found that people who took 20 micrograms of B12 and 6,400 micrograms of folic acid (another B vitamin that works in concert with B12) for two months had fewer tender joints and better hand strength and took less medicine for pain that people not getting this B vitamin combo.

Niacinamide can also help osteoarthritis.  Niacinamide is a form of niacin, one of the B-complex vitamins.  Niacinamide is often recommended as an alternative to n iacin because it produces fewer side effects.  Some nutrition-oriented doctors have been recommending nicinamide for osteoarthritis since the 1940s, when it was found to be helpful in relieving swelling and joint pain and improving muscle strength.   Improvement is usually noticeable after the first few weeks and becomes even more pronounced with continued treatment.  Very severely damaged arthritis joints respond slowly or don’t respond at all.  If you decide to try niacinamide for osteoarthritis, make sure you do so under medical supervision.  Treatment requires dosages of 500 mg twice a day to 1,000 mg three times a day.  Any dosage of 1,500 mg/day or more has the potential to cause liver problems.  Blood tests for liver enzymes should be performed after three months of treatment and then annually thereafter to make sure there is no liver damage.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate have both been proven to help with osteoarthritis.  These supplements give your body the nutrients it needs to build cartilage.  You can see the research behind these supplements in a previous post I wrote on Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate.  A few warnings about these supplements:  glucosamine sulfate can raise blood sugar in diabetics.  Chondroitin sulfate can cause bleeding in those taking blood thinners.  Also glucosamine sulfate should not be taken if you are allergic to shellfish because it is derived from the shells of shellfish.


Supplements: How Do You Choose Which Brand to Take

There are hundreds of thousands of vitamin supplements available on today’s market.  You can buy them at health food stores, drug stores, grocery stories, various retailers, through health care professionals, and on the internet.  When choosing a supplement, how do you determine which one to buy?  Do you look at the package details, the manufacturer, the ingredients, and the label claims?  But how do you really know for sure you are getting the best supplement for you?

It can be very confusing to determine which supplement to buy.  Understanding the label will help you know if you are taking a quality supplement.  Look at the ingredients listed on the label.  Do you recognize any of them?  Just like any other food label, the nutrients are listed in a particular order and some manufacturers put the source next to the nutrient.  In a quality, wholesome product you will recognize and be able to pronounce most of the ingredients on the label.

I personally recommend whole food supplements.  Whole food supplements are made by concentrating foods.  When concentrated correctly, the foods supply a multitude of nutrients.  These nutrients work together to provide you with optimal nutrition for good health.  Only whole food ingredients can provide you with all the nutrients contained within the food.  For example, I looked at a supplement a patient brought in the other day and one of its ingredients is dl-alpha tocopherol acetate.  That is a manmade component of the vitamin E complex.  If you were to take a supplement with just dl-alpha tocopherol, you would be missing at least 5 other important nutrients as well as hundreds of other nutrients that occur within the whole vitamin E complex.  These nutrients are only available by consuming a natural, whole food form of vitamin E, such as wheat germ oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts and carrots.

Just like any recipe, the quality of the ingredients you use affects the quality of the final product.  Therefore, it’s good to answer all of the following questions when evaluating a supplement and its effectiveness.

  • Where do the ingredients come from?  Manufacturers who grow many of their ingredients have the unique ability to control the quality of the ingredient from seed to supplement.
  • When are ingredients processed?  When you buy a tomato, you inspect it for quality.  You wouldn’t knowingly buy one that was mushy or bruised.  This same principle holds true for the ingredients in your supplements.  Once they are ready for harvest and are harvested, the ingredients begin to lose their value.  If there is a delay of hours, days, or months from when an ingredient is harvested to when it’s processed, many of its very delicate phytonutrients are lost.
  • Are the ingredient’s vital factors retained?  Each ingredient has its own set of rules in relation to how to best package its vital components.  The manufacturing process needs to retain the vital nutrients within the ingredients.  Too much heat will destroy enzymes and phytonutrients.  The manufacturer should use a low-temperature high-vacuum process to make sure that the ingredient’s nutrients are preserved.

Now you may be saying, how am I supposed to answer these questions about the supplement I’m taking?  You may not be able to.  However, if you’re taking a certain brand of supplements and only that brand, you may want to do a little research into that company.  For example, I utilize the Standard Process supplements a lot, and if I go to their website I’m able to get these questions answered.  A good supplement company should be willing to disclose information about how it manufactures their vitamins.  Another thing that I like about Standard Process is the company is partnered with MediHerb, an Australian-based company.  You may or may not know that in the United States the FDA does not regulate vitamins or supplements.  I know this is a political issue right now for some, but one thing that FDA regulation does do is it ensures that what the manufacturer says is in that supplement is in the supplement.  Well, in Australia, their supplements are regulated by their version of the FDA.  Therefore, you know that what the label says is correct.

The main thing you need to remember when purchasing a supplement is you want one that’s from a reputable company with the least amount of man-made products.


Natural Treatment of ADHD, Part 4

ADHD can often be successfully treated naturally to the point where the need for medication may be significantly decreased or even eliminated.  Research has shown that improvements can be made with ADHD through diet, nutrition and chiropractic care.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest (a division of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services) has published a report, “Diet, ADHD, and Behavior”, that reviews studies on the effect of diet on behavior (including ADHD) and touches on side effects of the stimulant drugs that have been used to treat behavior disorders in millions of children.  CSPI’s report reviews more than 20 controlled studies of diet and behavior. Most of the studies found that food dyes and, in some cases, other additives and foods provoked symptoms of ADHD or other behavior problems in some children.  They recommend the first avenue of treatment should be the elimination of foods with dyes and additives from a child with ADHD’s diet.  They recommend this be done before any medication is prescribed due to the side effects of the medications as well as Ritalin being a “possible human carcinogen”.  Therefore, if your child is properly diagnosed with ADHD, your first step in treatment should be to change their diet to organic foods with as few food dyes, additives, and preservatives as possible.

Food sensitivities and allergies are starting to be more widely looked at in terms of the treatment of ADHD patients.  In the research of diet and its connection to ADHD, nutritionists commonly find the elimination of foods such as oranges, chocolate, corn, wheat, eggs and milk, may work to improve a child’s mental functioning and, thereby, alleviate, to some degree, the symptoms associated with ADHD.  During an allergic reaction, or food sensitivity reaction, the body releases a chemical known as histamine. Histamine, in physiological terms, works to increase the removal of blood serum from around the brain tissue, thereby reducing adequate blood flow to the tiny capillaries which nourish the brain. When this reaction of histamine occurs within the body, the brain becomes unbalanced and the first indications of complication, from a psychological aspect, involve loss of memory, attention and cognitive function.  Using a diary or journal to log the activities and foods of your child, over a 30 day period, will often provide insight into the natural culprits which may be creating more complex ADHD symptoms; being mindful that food sensitivities, generally, take several hours to appear following consumption. Once the foods are identified, steps can be taken to remove those exposures from the child’s diet and, thereby, remedy the symptoms of ADHD.

Another area that’s getting a lot of research lately is Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Dr Basant Puri, a consultant and senior lecturer at Hammersmith Hospital has been using sophisticated imaging techniques to study the role of fatty acids in brain function. He says he has unearthed a wealth of evidence about how supplementation with specific fatty acids can not only help those with ADD/ADHD (attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder), but also dyslexia and dyspraxia.  “In clinical trials we have seen significant improvements in ADHD symptoms in children administered with fatty acid supplements,” he said.   Typically those who get a benefit enjoy improved attention and concentration, a reduction in anxiety and impulsivity and generally an improvement in self esteem.   Fatty acids are important for the brain growth of all children and particularly so for those with learning conditions.   Dr. Puri recommends that the best results have come from supplementation with a combination of marine and botanical oils rich in a specific fatty acid called Eicosapentaenoic Acid or EPA.   Similarly, a Purdue University study showed that kids low in Omega-3 essential fatty acids are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, have learning disorders, and to display behavioral problems.  Your brain is more than 60% structural fat, just as your muscles are made of protein and your bones are made of calcium. But it’s not just any fat that our brains are made of – it has to be Omega-3 fats, and the typical American diet is low in these types of fats.  We eat man-made trans-fats and excessive amounts of saturated fats and vegetable oils high in Omega-6 fatty acids, all of which interfere which our body’s attempt to utilize the tiny amount of Omega-3 fats that it gets.

Because ADHD can be caused by both biochemical imbalances and brain under-stimulation, chiropractic care is often needed to help stimulate the nervous system and restore normal brain stimulation.  Research has shown not only that the developing brain relies on normal structural integrity and joint movement, but that complex neurochemical communication and pathways involved in helping us to “feel good” are tied into spinal biomechanics.  Children’s nervous systems need the constant stimulation of movement in order to develop and function properly. Abnormal position or movement of the spinal vertebra can develop and this can lead to nerve interference. It is this interference that chiropractors correct.  In the October 2004 issue of the peer-reviewed research publication, the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT), a case study shows a child with ADHD who was helped with chiropractic care.  The case study was of a 5 year old boy who had been diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 2.  The child’s pediatrician prescribed Ritalin, Adderall, and Haldol for 3 years.  After 27 visits to a chiropractor, “The patient experienced significant reduction in symptoms. Additionally, the medical doctor concluded that the reduction in symptoms was significant enough to discontinue the medication.”  This case study can be found at the following link:

So, if you do have a child with ADHD, there are a number of alternatives that you can try before using medications that have numerous side effects and may possibly be carcinogenic.  I hope this series was helpful for you, and if you have any questions or comments, please post them or contact me directly.


Worried About Catching the Flu?

I glanced at our local newspaper this weekend and saw that there were 4 cases of medication-resistant H1N1 at our local Duke University Medical Center.  With people everywhere getting sick with some sort of cold or flu and more drug-resistant viruses and bacteria popping up, patients are asking me what natural things they can do to prevent getting sick.  Of course, by now everyone has been reminded to wash their hands regularly and cough/sneeze into their sleeves, but what else can be done?  Stress causes a weakened immune system so we need to put a concerted effort into not getting too stressed out over the holiday season.  Also, try to get an adequate amount of sleep.  Losing an extra hour of work in order to get a good night’s rest is better than losing a few days of work from being sick.  On top of that, make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals.  Vitamins A, E, and C are essential to a properly functioning immune system.  Vitamin A is the anti-infection vitamin.  If used properly and in moderate doses, vitamin A is rarely toxic and is very important in the body’s defense system.  Vitamin C may be the single most important vitamin for the immune system.  It is essential for the formation of adrenal hormones and the production of lymphocytes (a white blood cell).  It also has a direct effect on bacteria and viruses.  Vitamin E interacts with vitamins A and C and the mineral selenium, acting as a primary antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals.  Vitamin E activity is an integral part of the body’s defense system.  Zinc, which can be found in over-the-counter products such as Zicam and Coldeeze, is also very important for a strong immune system.  Zinc boosts the immune response and promotes the healing of wounds when used in appropriate doses (100 mg or less daily).  It also helps to protect the liver.  Doses over 100 mg/day may actually depress immune function.

For those of you who want to take herbs or other supplements, there are number that are good for boosting your immune system.  Echinacea is the most widely known herb for immunity.  Echinacea boosts the immune system and enhances lymphatic function.  People with immune-related conditions such as multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, and HIV should refrain from using Echinacea.  Also, those persons allergic to pollen of other members of the aster family, such as ragweed, may be allergic to Echinacea.  Goldenseal is another herb that strengthens the immune system, cleanses the body and has antibacterial properties.  Goldenseal should not be taken on a daily basis for more than one week at a time, and it should not be used if you are pregnant.  Goldenseal is also contraindicated if you are allergic to ragweed.  Garlic has also been known to stimulate the immune system and is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-viral.  You may want to watch how much of it you take though because its smell has been known to seep out of your pores when taken in large quantities.  I have one friend who will eat cloves of it at a time, claiming it can get rid of a sore throat in no time.  Seeing her eyes water while doing this, I have never been willing to give it a try.  I have also become a big fan of Airborne.  We regularly have a bottle of it around our office to take if we’ve had a day where a lot of patients have come in sick.  I truly believe that it has helped keep my staff and myself from getting sick these past 3 years that we’ve been using it.

Last, but by no means least, chiropractic care has been found to help boost the immune system.  During the 1917?18 influenza epidemic, which brought death and fear to many Americans, it has been estimated that 20 million people died throughout the world, including about 500,000 Americans. It was chiropractic’s success in caring for flu victims that led to the profession’s licensure in many states.

Researchers reported that in Davenport, Iowa, out of the 93,590 patients treated by medical doctors, there were 6,116 deaths ?? a loss of one patient out of every 15. Chiropractors at the Palmer School of Chiropractic adjusted 1,635 cases, with only one death. Outside Davenport, chiropractors in Iowa cared for 4,735 cases with only six deaths ?? one out of 866. During the same epidemic, in Oklahoma, out of 3,490 flu patients under chiropractic care, there were only seven deaths. Furthermore, chiropractors were called in 233 cases given up as lost after medical treatment, and reportedly saved all but 25. In another report covering 4,193 cases by 213 chiropractors 4,104 showed complete recovery.  If chiropractic helped in that influenza epidemic, it most certainly should help with the H1N1.

I hope this article helps you all have a healthier flu-season this year.  And remember to wash your hands!