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January, 2013

Compound Found in Rosemary May Protect Against Macular Degeneration

In a recent article published in the November, 2012 issue of the Journal of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, it was found that carnosic acid (a compound occurring in the herb rosemary) helped protect the eye's retina from degeneration and hydrogen peroxide-induced toxicity. This could have an application to people with retinal conditions such as Macular Degeneration and Retinitis Pigmentosa.

The team of Stuart A. Lipton, MD, PhD, who is the director of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute's Del E. Webb Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell Research Center, found that carnosic acid induced the production of antioxidant enzymes and lowered free radicals and peroxides that cause vision loss.

Editor's Note: What is more important about this study is that is it one more of many studies done to date showing the correlation to macular degeneration and essential nutrients getting to the eyes.

Regular Exercise Reduces Eye Pressure Related to Glaucoma

It is estimated that over 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know they have it. Worldwide, it is the primary cause of blindness, according to the World Health Organization.

The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma where the intraocular pressure (IOP) remains higher than normal for a long period of time, gradually causing a reduction peripheral vision. If left untreated, it can lead to complete blindness.

Fortunately for those who have been diagnosed with glaucoma and have access to medications, it can often be controlled.

In one study, glaucoma patients who take a brisk, 40-minute walk five days a week for three months can reduce the pressure in their eyes by approximately 2.5 millimeters - similar to the reduction seen when using beta-blockers.(1)

In a 2009 study, it showed people can significantly reduce the risk of glaucoma onset through regular exercise (running in this study). The better the runner, the greater the reduction in risk. (2)

(1) The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group, Arch Ophthalmol. 2004; Prevent Blindness. Passo, M.S. et. al., Regular exercise lowers intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients. Investigative Ophthalmology 35. In ARVO Abstracts, March 15, 1994.
(2) Physical Activity (2009) & Glaucoma, National Runners' Health Study

Editor's Note: There are other forms of glaucoma such as normal tension and low tension glaucoma. These are situations where the symptoms of open-angle glaucoma start appearing, but the eye pressure is normal or lower than normal. Although conventional medicine does not have an answer as to the cause of glaucoma, more studies are revealing a relationship to high blood pressure and poor circulation affecting the delivery of oxygen and essential nutrients to the optic nerve.

The study mentioned above is one of the studies supporting this. There are a number of nutrients that have been researched as showing to be helpful in supporting and nourishing the optic nerve, as well as helping support healthy circulation to the optic nerve.

These include taurine, alpha lipoic acid, bilberry, gingko biloba, magnesium, vitamin C and E, and alpha lipoic acid. In our opinion, some combination of the above nutrients should be included in any treatment protocol for glaucoma.

Selenium Protects Against Cancer - What Types Are the Best

Numerous studies have shown the benefits of supplementing with selenium to reduce various degenerative diseases and as an anti-cancer agent. It is also a trace element in the body essential in human nutrition.

In one study, aging individuals supplementing with 200 mcg per day of selenium saw their risk of dying from all cancers slashed by 50%.

Ref: Clark LC, Combs GF, Jr., Turnbull BW, et al. Effects of selenium supplementation for cancer prevention in patients with carcinoma of the skin. A randomized controlled trial. Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Study Group. JAMA. 1996 Dec 25;276(24):1957-63.

Large-scale epidemiologic studies have repeatedly demonstrated that populations with low selenium levels are at significantly increased risk for developing many different types of cancer.

A 2011 meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled clinical trials including 152,538 participants established that selenium supplementation cut risk for all cancers by 24%. The cancer-preventive effect rose to 36% in people with low baseline selenium levels.

Ref: Lee EH, Myung SK, Jeon YJ, et al. Effects of selenium supplements on cancer prevention: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Cancer. 2011 Oct 17.

There are 3 different types of selenium, each separately important in preventing human cancers. The three forms of selenium most important in cancer prevention are sodium selenite, L-selenomethionine, and selenium-methyl L-selenocysteine.

Here is a summary of the three types of selenium:

  1. L-selenomethionine increases cancer cell death by apoptosis, for example, only in cells with an intact "suicide" gene called p53.34. Selenium-methyl L-selenocysteine, on the other hand, induces apoptosis in mutated cancer cells that lack this vital control mechanism.
  2. Inorganic sodium selenite destroys cancer cells from a variety of cancers through a variety of mechanisms.
  3. L-selenomethionine can be credited with the recent upsurge in interest in selenium as a cancer-preventing supplement.

In patients with pre-cancerous changes of their esophagus, 200 mcg of L-selenomethionine slowed the progression of potential cancerous cells and triggered regression of pre-cancerous cells to normal.

Ref: Limburg PJ, Wei W, Ahnen DJ, et al. Randomized, placebo-controlled, esophageal squamous cell cancer chemoprevention trial of selenomethionine and celecoxib. Gastroenterology. 2005 Sep;129(3):863-73.

Night Blindness Improved by Transplanting Photoreceptor Cells in Animal Experiment

In this groundbreaking research, scientists injected light-sensitive photoreceptor cells into mice with night blindness. After this treatment, the animals were able to see well enough to navigate a water maze and swim toward a visual cue in dimly lit conditions. Controls who did not receive the treatment were unable to efficiently navigate the maze.

Editor's Note: This new technique provides hope in the future for regenerating lost vision due to such eye diseases as Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Stargardt's Disease and Rod-Cone Dystrophy.

Drug Companies with Links with Doctors Influence Treatment Guidelines

Guidelines written to guide medical professionals on the use of drugs for various diseases are under question regarding the financial relationships of many of the doctors to the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the drugs.

For example, guidelines written by conflicted panels have encouraged prescribing highly addictive narcotic painkillers to treat long-term chronic pain, an area where the safety and effectiveness of the drugs remain unproven.

Past Journal Sentinel reports have revealed articles in medical journals that were ghostwritten by drug company marketers. Payments to medical organizations advocated for more use of drugs. Medical education was underwritten by pharmaceutical companies that in essence marketed their products and advocated the use of more drugs.

Editor's Note: As consumers, it is recommended that we know about the drugs being prescribed to us, the potential side effects as well as contraindications. Be an educated consumer. Medical mistakes are a leading cause of death in the US, including death from drugs to errors. The number of people in the United States who die Iatrogenic deaths (those due to medical errors) is estimated by Dr. Barbara Starfield to be approximately 225,000 to 284,000 a year, which included 106,000 deaths from properly prescribed medicine. These are considered avoidable deaths occurring at the hands of doctors in hospitals. Gary Null Ph.D. and his medical colleagues estimate the iatrogenic death figures much higher at 786,000 per year by including outpatient deaths estimated at 199,000.

Study Shows Antibiotics are Ineffective in Treating Patients with Persistent Coughs Caused by Mild Chest Infections

Recently reported in Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, a recent European study with over 2,000 participants concluded that the taking of antibiotics for mild chest infections had no better results than those who received the placebo (a sugar pill), and that the infections typically cleared up on their own without medications. The study noted that in chest infections diagnosed as pneumonia, antibiotics is still the preferred treatment.

As most mild chest infections are caused by viruses, use of antibiotics is shown not only to be not useful, but cause side effects including diarrhea, chest pain, rashes and/or a blocked or runny nose.

The relevance of this study is that overprescribing of antibiotics over the years complicates treating illness as it creates bacteria resistant to antibiotics, making more serious illnesses more difficult to treat.

Editor's Note: Most of the time, colds resolve themselves naturally as the immune system identifies the culprit and naturally starts to destroy it. One can help this process along by getting plenty of sleep, minimizing chores and activities, taking supplements and herbs including vitamin C, Echinacea, Golden Seal, and Olive Leaf and drinking lots of hot fluids with garlic and ginger (can add lemon and honey). We have a found a natural cough syrup called "Barclays" that works really well at nighttime (nasty taste but effective), without causing drowsiness the next day. This is usually available at stores such as Walgreens and CVS.

Vitamin D Linked to Lower Incidence of Alzheimer's Disease

A number of studies have shown the benefit of supplementing with Vitamin D3 in reducing the risk of onset of Alzheimer's Disease.

Research published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease shows that vitamin D3 may work by activating certain genes and cell signaling networks to ramp up the immune system, which then clears away a key component of amyloid plaques called amyloid-beta protein. Ref: J Alz Dis. 2012;29:51-62.

Beta amyloid is the name for a protein that becomes toxic when it accumulates in the spaces between nerve cells in the brain. When this happens, the beta amyloid deposits are called plaques. Scientists are still studying how plaques and tangles are related to Alzheimer's disease. One theory is that they block nerve cells' ability to communicate with each other, making it difficult for the cells to survive.

In another study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in 2009, it was found that vitamin D3 together with the spice curcumin worked together to get the immune system to have its effects against amyloid-beta protein in the brain.

The team discovered that curcuminoids (synthetically derived which enhanced absorption) improved the surface binding of amyloid beta to macrophages (antibodies) and that vitamin D strongly stimulated the uptake and absorption of amyloid beta in macrophages in a majority of patients.

The research findings appeared in the July 2006 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Editor's Note: Vitamin D3 may be an effective nutrient in helping to protect against vision loss for those with macular degeneration. In the back of the eye (where the retina is located) there is high metabolic activity required to maintain vision. Unfortunately, this high activity results in high amounts of extracellular waste in the retina. When not fully reabsorbed as is normally done by the body, this can result in this waste being deposited on the retina (referred to as "drusen") resulting in dry macular degeneration and often slow, progressive vision loss.

20K ER Visits Linked to Energy Drinks

A recent study from a survey of U.S. hospitals by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration exposed that the number of emergency-room visits linked to energy drinks had doubled in four years - from 10,000 in 2007 to 20,000 in 2011.

42% of the 20,000 ER visits in 2011 resulted from people mixing an energy drink with another stimulant such as Adderall or Ritalin, or with alcohol. Fifty-eight percent had consumed just the drink.

Symptoms associated with the ER visits included raised blood pressure, heart palpitations, panic attack feelings and irregular heartbeat.

Editor's Note: The energy drinks also contain other substances that are "completely unregulated" and can add to the stimulant nature of the drink. A normally healthy person should not need stimulants to feel good.

Our bodies naturally produce plenty of energy to get us through the day. Excessive use of over-the-counter stimulants can eventually cause adrenal fatigue and chronic tiredness.

A healthy diet, regular exercise and proper amount of sleep can go a long way in providing all the energy we need to get through a busy day.