Archive for May, 2010

FDA Warns of Increased Fracture Risk With Popular ReFlux Drugs

Acid-Reflux-Explained The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced late Tuesday that blockbuster heartburn medications such as Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium will now carry a warning on their labels linking the drugs to a heightened risk for bone fractures.

The label will advise consumers to use this class of medicines, called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), carefully, because high or frequent doses have been associated with an increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist and spine.

The FDA’s concerns were raised over studies that have shown an increased risk of bone fractures with patients taking PPI’s for one year or longer, or at high doses.  PPI’s are thought to restrict mineral absorption by blocking acid production in the stomach.

The agency is instructing the makers of the drugs to change the labels for both their prescription and over-the-counter versions, which are used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach and small intestine ulcers and inflammation of the esophagus.

For people taking over-the-counter proton pump inhibitors, the FDA said they should only be taken for 14 days to help ease frequent heartburn, but under no circumstances should over-the-counter PPIs be taken for more than three 14-day periods in a year.

Tragedy Revealed?

Unfortunately, this class of drugs is one of the most overprescribed and over abused in all of medicine. This is a tragedy being played out in countless lives.  Acid blocking drugs might mask the symptoms of heartburn or reflux, but they do so without addressing the cause… and in lowering the acidity of the stomach, not only is mineral absorption compromised, but so is protein digestion and a host of vital metabolic processes.

So give the FDA a round of applause for requiring the new label disclosure, but realize that fracture risk is only the tip of the iceberg.  Never mind the fact that esophageal cancer was virtually unheard of 30 years ago, and that its incidence has skyrocketed since the introduction of proton pump inhibitors. There is always a high price to pay when man interferes with the natural balance and wisdom of God’s creation.

What does “increased fracture risk” mean anyway? It means bone loss. It means calcification of soft tissues and demineralization.  It means disruption of enzyme systems, nerve signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction/relaxation, and hormone regulation.  It means a reduced capacity to maintain our blood pressure, heart rate and pH – among many other things.

A Better Approach

Ask any practitioner of natural medicine and you will find that there is a better approach to relieving symptoms of heartburn, indigestion and reflux. Address the cause and in most cases, the symptoms vanish.  Restoring the physiology of the GI tract is their focus, and oddly enough, that often means treatment starts from the bottom up.

Beneficial bacteria, or probiotics are given to restore the proper balance of gastrointestinal flora and keep pathogenic bacteria and fungal overgrowth in check. They also help maintain pH levels, reduce inflammation and produce the B vitamins that are so critical to our body’s brain function and cellular energy systems.

Supplemental digestive enzymes are given to enhance the front half of the digestive process, but their benefits are seen throughout the body.  Enzymes are not only responsible for breaking down proteins, carbohydrates and fats in our diet, but they perform many regulatory functions in the body as well.

Many natural digestive aids also contain Betaine HCL to increase dangerously low stomach acid levels, which result in many of the same symptoms that excess acid produces.  Our creator designed us to have high acidity in our stomachs to help break down and extract minerals from our food and to serve as a front line of protection from pathogenic bacteria that we encounter in our diet.  Antacids can rob us of that vital protection.

HCL can aggravate ulcers, so those who have existing ulcers should seek appropriate care for that condition before taking any supplemental HCL… which again… means dealing with the true cause (often an h. pylori infection).

Patients with seriously compromised digestion will often be given omega three fats and amino acids such as L- Glutamine to help control inflammation and help rebuild the lining of the gut, which is ground zero in the battle for control of your health.

Surgery Sometimes Necessary

In some cases, people who suffer from heartburn and reflux can find relief only through a surgical procedure to repair a physical defect; typically either a a hiatal hernia or a faulty or damaged esophageal sphincter.  This is the lower most muscle of the esophagus which normally blocks the backwashing of gastric fluids.  A hiatal hernia  is caused when there is a tear in the diaphragm and the stomach pushes up into the thorax.  Either condition requires surgical intervention.  However, most people respond very well to natural approaches to restoring the physiology and functions of digestion.

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Hepatitis C: To "Treat " or Not to "Treat "?

Hep C It is estimated that three to four million Americans are infected with hepatitis C (HCV), a blood borne virus that attacks the liver of its host, and many of them are not even aware of it. The U.S. spent nearly six billion dollars in 1997 for the treatment of HCV, and the costs have continued to skyrocket. The mainstream treatments that are available are expensive, only marginally effective and loaded with nasty side effects. The horizon is littered with bewildered hep C patients, newly diagnosed – often taken from blissful ignorance (asymptomatic) to shock and horror in a moment’s notice – who are asking the dreaded question, should I undergo “The Treatment” ?

According to the many natural practitioners who oppose “treatment” of HCV with harsh and expensive drugs, it is technically not the chemical interferons that do the acute damage; it is the body’s massive inflammatory response to the drugs.  The long term damage may be related to the undermining of a patient’s baseline immunity, which makes them more susceptible to opportunistic infections and often to flare ups of the virus that are worse the second time around.

Often the first test recommended to a hepatitis C patient is a liver biopsy. Although a liver biopsy is certainly the most definitive way to confirm the patient’s genotype and determine the level of deterioration of liver tissue, it is a perilous and invasive procedure that further traumatizes and inflames the liver.

Natural practitioners prefer to monitor blood studies, particularly liver transaminase enzyme levels, which are generally elevated when significant liver tissue damage is taking place.  Physicians also typically monitor the level of viral replication that is taking place in the blood, commonly referred to as the viral load and measured by a test called a PCR – RNA.  These and other markers can help reveal how well a patient is dealing with the virus without inflicting further harm or adding stress to an already challenged organ.

The natural approach to treating HCV – or any other chronic illness for that matter – involves strengthening and balancing the immune system, internal cleansing of the body, reducing systemic inflammation and the promotion of healthy metabolic pathways. A foundational, comprehensive nutritional support protocol is needed to support the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients and eliminate toxins and wastes.

Natural treatment of hepatitis C typically addresses stress management, regular exercise and a healthy diet consisting chiefly of the foods that were given through the wisdom of our Creator to sustain us. Dietary protein is often limited to reduce stress on the liver, although some protein is needed for liver tissue regeneration. Any underlying nutritional deficits are identified and treated, as are any secondary infections which can further burden and compromise the immune system.  At its best, natural treatment also takes into consideration that being made in the triune image of God, we must address the trinity of our nature (mind, body and spirit) if we wish to be made whole.

There are numerous natural medicines and techniques that are employed in treating viral infections like hep C, from herbal antivirals such as cat’s claw to hydrogen peroxide to intravenous vitamin C or photoluminescence therapy. In addition to antiviral strategies to keep the viral load down, various herbs and nutrients are given to help protect the liver and encourage regeneration of liver tissue. Milk thistle, dandelion, turmeric, schizandra, artichoke and blupeurum have all been shown to have powerful liver protective properties. Whatever the threat, however, there is no more fundamental a way to support and restore the immune system than to support the master gland of immunity, the thymus gland.

Persons diagnosed with hepatitis of any kind should always be screened for iron overload to rule out hemochromatosis, a very common genetic disorder that prevents elimination of dietary iron.  The combination of viral hepatitis and hemochromatosis is extremely dangerous because the virus thrives in an iron rich environment and high iron levels are toxic to the liver in the first place. Diagnosis of the genetic disorder is confirmed by the presence of both elevated serum iron levels and a high transferrin saturation percentage. Natural treatment of iron overload involves periodic phlebotomies (therapeutic blood-letting), often along with the administration of inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), a commercially available oral iron binding agent.

A diagnosis of infection with hepatitis C is not a death sentence.  It is, however, a wake up call to begin to treat one’s temple with care and respect, and to seek to understand how our daily choices impact our quality of life.  The ancient Hebrew prophet Hosea lamented that “my people perish for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)   In today’s information age, knowledge is more accessible than ever before, but one needs considerable discernment to separate the wheat from the chaff.

As natural health seekers, we need to ask for and receive wisdom and understanding from God as to how the enemy attempts to steal away our health and vitality, for “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Recognizing that you are a target of lies and a prisoner of your habits and choices is the first step towards transforming your health.

The apostle Paul urged us to “not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).  That means much more than don’t drink, smoke and cuss.  We must learn to “present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). That means abstaining from fast, fried or processed foods, sodas, refined sugar and flour, chemical sweeteners and preservatives, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and most certainly with an HCV challenged liver, alcohol. It means limiting protein intake and exposure to chemical or emotional toxicity, hormones, antibiotics and pesticides.

We must remember that virtually everything that enters our body, whether by mouth, nose, lungs, or skin must be processed by the liver. Other than the brain, it is far and away the most critical of all internal organs in terms of systems management. The liver is intimately involved in the metabolism of fat, sugar, protein and hormones. Foods, toxins, even our thoughts have a profound effect on the liver, so we must guard our liver well in our daily choices… all the more so if we are dealing with a chronic illness like hepatitis C.

Does Grandpa’s Male Menapause Pose a Threat to Your Child’s Health?

Grandpa and Baby In 2007, nearly two million prescriptions were written for testosterone gel products.  A small percentage of those were given to women with hormonal imbalances, but the vast majority were prescribed to men going through Andropause, the male version of menopause which results in low energy and sex drive, memory loss, and not surprisingly… moodiness!

Testosterone gel products such as Androgel or Testim (both of which contain 1% testosterone) are typically applied to the upper arms, chest and shoulders daily to restore general vitality.  Therein lies the potential danger; when grandpa picks up his beloved grandchild to cradle them in his arms and on his shoulder, the child can be exposed to the drug… sometimes with alarming results.

According to a recent report, the FDA is now requiring a black box warning on testosterone gel products to alert patients and consumers to this potential danger. This type of exposure has reportedly caused inappropriate enlargement of genitalia in boys and girls, irregular bone growth, aggressive behavior and other disturbing symptoms in children aged nine months to five years.

Instructions packaged with the drugs clearly state that precautions should be taken to prevent incidental exposure to others.

“Testosterone Gel Safety Concerns Prompt FDA to Require Label Changes, Medication Guide” FDA News, 5/7/09, fda.gov

More Junk Science: Vitamin K Curbs Bone Loss No Better Than Placebo… NOT!

bigstockphoto_Painful_Joints_1650572 In the latest spewing forth of disinformation designed to undermine the truth about the efficacy of vitamins and natural medicines,  the Health Science Institute’s newsletter (http://www.hsibaltimore.com) points out that prominent bone health researchers are refuting a new placebo-controlled trial from Norway that suggests vitamin K curbs bone loss no better than placebo in post-menopausal women.

But the design of this trial has two big problems.

1. More than 340 post-menopausal women received either placebo or vitamin K2, 360 micrograms daily–a dose that can only be described as meager.

2. The trial lasted just one year. As one doctor told NutraIngredients-USA, “All vitamin K intervention trials lasting less than 2 years have unfortunately contributed to confusion regarding the effect of vitamin K supplement.”

Despite these problems, the trial produced one promising result.

Your bones MUST have a protein called osteocalcin which acts as the “glue” that binds calcium into the bone matrix. Without it, bones can’t utilize calcium to build strength. In this study, levels of osteocalcin were boosted in the K2 group, but not in the placebo group.

Experts say that rising osteocalcin is an important bio-marker that shows up before bone strengthening begins.

The HSI report noted that another study conducted in the Netherlands with a therapeutic dosage and a lengthier trial period gave a much clearer picture of the true benefits of Vitamin K. Researchers recruited 325 postmenopausal women without osteoporosis. Half the women received a placebo and half received vitamin K2, 45 milligrams per day.

That dosage is 125 times larger than the Norwegian study! The intervention period was three years, a much more reasonable time frame from which to evaluate effects on bone density.

Results: Bending strength, compression strength, and impact strength all improved in the K2 group, but not in the placebo group. Also, bone mineral content and femoral neck width increased in the K2 group, but not in the placebo group.

Dietary sources of K2 include meat, liver, egg yolk, and fermented products such as yogurt and cheese. Vitamin K1 is mostly found in dark, leafy green vegetables and is converted to K2 in the intestine.

Not only is K2 critical to building and maintaining healthy bones, but many other nutrients and minerals are involved… not the least of which are magnesium, strontium, silicon, zinc, iodine, boron,  and vitamin D3.  Our MagnifiCal contains them all, and in therapeutic doses.  Logos announced a research project with MagnifiCal earlier this year that is underway.  We anticipate receiving feedback fairly quickly as to its beneficial effects on calcification of soft tissues, but as noted in the Netherlands study, bone mass gains take longer, and will only be measured twice per year.

If you are concerned about calcification and bone loss, you owe it to yourself to try MagnifiCal.

Vinegar: The Wonder in Your Kitchen

vinegar The cleaning aisle at the grocery store is overflowing with expensive and toxic cleaning products. Chances are, you already have one of the best (and safest) all-purpose cleaning agents in your pantry: acetic acid, or white vinegar. Vinegar works as a great laundry booster, stripping away the chemical build-up that detergent leaves behind (and it gets rid of odors in the process). Beyond that, there are tons of other applications for vinegar around your home.

Here, from vinegartips.com, 25 ideas for making the most of vinegar:

1. Deodorize the sink: Pour 1 cup baking soda, followed by 1 cup hot vinegar, down the drain. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, then rinse with hot water.

2. Deodorize the garbage disposal: Make ice cubes out of vinegar. Run the disposal with a few vinegar ice cubes and cold water.

3. Clean countertops: Wipe down surfaces with a rag dipped in vinegar.

4. Clean the fridge: Use a mixture of half water, half vinegar to wipe down the interior shelves and walls.

5. Remove soap build-up and odors from the dishwasher: Once a month, pour 1 cup of vinegar into an empty dishwasher and run the machine through its entire cycle.

6. Bust oven grease: If you’ve got grease spots on the oven door, pour some vinegar directly on the stains, let it sit for 15 minutes, and wipe away with a sponge.

7. To make old glassware sparkle: To get rid of the cloudy effect, wrap a vinegar-soaked towel around the glass and let it sit. Remove and rinse with hot water.

8. Get rid of lime deposits on your tea kettle: Fill the kettle with vinegar and let it boil. Allow it to cool, and rinse with water.

9. Remove stains in coffee cups: Create a paste using of equal parts vinegar and salt (or in lieu of salt, baking soda) and scrub gently before rinsing.

10. Treat Tupperware stains (and stinkiness): Wipe the containers with a vinegar-saturated cloth.

11. Remove stains on aluminum pots: Boil 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup water.

12. Deter ant infestations: Spray outside doorways and windowsills, and anywhere you see a trail of critters.

13. Clean can openers: Scrub the wheel of your can opener with vinegar using an old toothbrush.

14. Remove stickers or labels: Cover the sticker with a vinegar-soaked cloth. Let it sit overnight—it should slide right off by morning.

15. Shine porcelain sinks: A bit of vinegar and a good scrub should leave them sparkling.

16. Clean grout: Pour on some vinegar, let it hang out for a few minutes, and buff with an old toothbrush.

17. Clean the shower door: Spray them down with vinegar pre-shower, or post (after you’ve squeegeed the glass) to remove hard water deposits.

18. Clean a grimy showerhead: To get rid of scum, fill a Ziploc with ½ a cup of baking soda and 1 cup vinegar and tie it around the showerhead. Let it sit for an hour, until the bubbling has stopped. Remove the bag and run  the shower.

19. Make a toilet sparkle: Pour in a cup or two of vinegar and let it sit there overnight before scrubbing with a toilet brush.

20. Polish linoleum floors: Add 1 cup of vinegar for every gallon of water you use to wash the floor.

21. Clean paintbrushes: Soak paintbrushes for an hour before simmering them on the stove to remove hardened paint. Drain and rinse.

22. Clean grills: Spray vinegar on a ball of tin foil, then use it to give the grate a firm scrub.

23. Disinfect wood cutting boards: Wipe down wood boards with a wash of vinegar.

24. Clean the microwave: Fill a microwave-safe bowl with 2 cups water and ½ cup vinegar. Heat it on full power for 3-4 minutes until it comes to a boil. Keep the door closed for a few minutes longer to let the steam fill the microwave, loosening the grime. Remove the bowl (carefully!) and wipe down interior walls with a sponge.

25. Polish patent leather accessories: Give them a rub with a vinegar-soaked cloth. Buff with a dry cloth.

Patience is the Key Element to Success!

image001 Patience is the key element to success!  See below.  May we all take these words and apply them to our lives of faith.  Peace.

Written and shared by Robert A. Rohm Ph.D.
Personality Insights, Inc.

Reprinted with permission from the “Tip of the Week”. To subscribe for the free “Tip of the Week” please go to  http://www.personalityinsights.com and receive Dr. Rohm’s weekly Tip every Monday morning.

Recently I was watching Bill Gates and Warren Buffett being interviewed on a television special.  The two entrepreneurs were being questioned by Columbia University Business Graduate School students.  They were being asked questions that extended from their business life to their personal hobbies.  Naturally, all of the students were enamored with the success that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have achieved in their careers.  You could almost feel the excitement in the air as the students observed these two icons, hoping to follow in their footsteps and find their own success.

One of the graduate students asked both Mr. Gates and Mr. Buffett what they would say was the key to success.  Bill Gates answered first, “I would say that patience is the key element to success.”  Immediately, Warren Buffett agreed.  Both men went on to talk about the fact that everything in life that is of any lasting value, takes time.  Whether it is building a business or a relationship, a lot of time, effort and energy must be put into the endeavor.  Of course, mistakes will be made along the way and there will be bumps because there is just no way of getting around the fact that it takes time to learn how to do anything in life.

As I listened to these two gentlemen discuss their careers and their thoughts, I could not help but think about the fact that patience is something that only comes with time.  It is not something that we can get “instantly.”  If it could be attained quickly, it would not be patience.  I believe that by definition patience implies that time is required for that particular character trait to be developed.  In fact, Dictionary.com defines patience as “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay;” and as “quiet, steady perseverance.”

I don’t know about you, but I am not a patient person by nature.  I tend to like “fast and quick” rather than “slow and steady,” yet as I look at almost anything in my life that is of value, the “slow and steady” method of pursuit seems to have brought about better results.  Therefore, each day I face a dilemma; am I going to go with what my natural inclinations are about a particular matter, or am I going to go with the time-tested and proven wisdom which says that patience is a much better road to take?

I may have mentioned before that when I was growing up, I would often try to press my father into making a quick decision about something.  When I did, he would always say the same thing, “Let’s sleep on it and see how it looks tomorrow.”  I always thought to myself, “There is no need to sleep on it because things will look tomorrow just like they do today!”  However, I have lived long enough to know that things often do look different tomorrow than they do today.  My father had learned the key to success that Bill Gates discovered: patience.  I continue to learn that trait.  (And, yes, I often tell my own children the same thing my father used to say to me, “Let’s sleep on it and see how it looks tomorrow.”)

What major issue or challenge are you facing in your life?  Perhaps you have said, “I will be glad when this is over!”  That is a direct contradiction to patience.  If you cannot go through the process and learn what you need to know the first time, do you really want to go through it all over again?  I don’t think so!  Therefore, it goes back again to patience.  We are so often prone to grab at it, yet, every time we do, it slips right through our fingers.  Patience is something that must be developed slowly, carefully, and over time, and even many times, with prayer.

I am on the path with you and I am doing everything that I can to remember that patience is not something that comes in a hurry.  I often find myself taking a deep breath and remembering that patience is having her perfect way in my heart; it just does not happen in a hurry.  It never has and it never will!

So again, let me encourage you that whatever you are going through or facing at the moment, remember that two of the wealthiest men on the planet have said that the secret to your success and mine is always the same thing – patience.  It really is true!

Are Allergies Getting You Down?

pollen Allergies have been terrible here in Atlanta this year with the record pollen numbers.   A quick look at the pollen grain shown here explains a lot about why they can make you so miserable… but even the many types that don’t look like sycamore balls cause inflammatory responses that take a heavy toll on the immune system and sap your energy.

Over the years, we have developed some seasonal allergy strategies that definitely help.  Here are our top ten:

  1. Nasal Irrigation – A Neti pot works fine, but a water pic on the lowest setting and nasal adapter works even better.  Use saline, add small amounts (like 1 drop) of GSE i(that is Grapefruit Seed Extract) if infection is present.  This lowers infection and inflammation and gets rid of the cause of irritation… pollen grains.
  2. Local bee pollen – Melt under your tongue in the morning before and during pollen season. It has to be harvested from the region where you live or it won’t work.
  3. Vitamin B5 – Directly feeds the adrenals.
  4. Quercetin – A natural antihistamine, I have often referred to it as “God’s Benadryl” because it works, and without side effects like drowsiness…
  5. Vitamin C – Supports immunity and reduces inflammation.
  6. Bromelain – A natural anti-inflammatory.
  7. Essential Omegas – Omega three fats have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and stimulate immunity as well.
  8. Vitamins D&A – Both are critically to mucosal immunity.
  9. Essential Flora – Probiotics support baseline immunity and help control inflammation.
  10. Complete Thymic Formula – Last but certainly not least… designed to restore integrity to cell mediated immunity, allergy sufferers of all types (not just seasonal allergies) have raved about CTF since it burst upon the scene in 1996.
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