Dear Friends and Patients:
2012 has flown by quickly! First of all, our staff and I want to say “THANK YOU” for all of your referrals this past year. Our heartfelt wishes go out to you and your families for a healthy and joyous holiday season. We hope that you have a stress-free holiday and are able to spend time with your loved ones. Many of you have told us you have been enjoying our quarterly newsletters which we also post on www.prevent-doc.com., and I appreciate your feedback. A lot of thought and research goes into getting the information contained in these newsletters and I am happy to share it with you.
I was talking with my son Brian recently and the conversation turned to all the wireless technology available today. Because of technology, we are inundated with an amount of information unparalleled in history. This can be both a good and not so good thing. In this era of sound bites, internet postings and twitter, so much of what we hear or read does not take total, factual information into account. A lot of editing goes on in the press, magazines and internet. For example, headlines sensationalize studies supposedly showing organic foods are no more nutritious than conventional foods or vitamin supplements are of no value or Omega 3 fish oil is not helpful in reducing the risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Let’s look at the study dismissing the nutritional value of organic foods. I’d like to share data that was not included in any of the internet articles I read. This “study” was published in September 2012 in the prestigious medical journal The Annals of Internal Medicine, where Stanford University researchers did a meta-analysis (a type of analysis were the authors selected certain studies and summarized the findings) of 17 studies in humans and 230 field studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in unprocessed fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, eggs, chicken, pork and beef. The report concluded “the published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods. Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.” What the study actually said was that they did not find “significant” or “robust” differences in nutritional content between organic and conventional foods. It also stated organic foods had 30% less pesticide residue. Now most people I know would prefer avoiding pesticides, especially in their children’s food. What the study didn’t account for was what the cumulative effects of all the chemicals and pesticides we are exposed to in our foods, air and water over a lifetime would be. The risk of genetic damage and subsequent cancer or autoimmune disease development is very real.
Stanford University researchers also noted that the risk for ingesting antibiotic-resistant bacteria was 33% higher in conventional rather than organic chicken and pork. In this era of “superbugs,” people are dying from bacterial infections because we have run out of antibiotic bullets in our guns. What the Stanford study also didn’t mention is organic foods cannot contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms). GMO foods must be labeled as such or are not even allowed in most European countries, despite reassurances from the biotech industry that they’re safe. Even if organic foods aren’t more nutritious (they are) than conventional foods, they are safer than conventional foods that may have been genetically modified or have “superbug” bacteria or pesticide contamination.
A professor of agriculture at Washington State University and former chief scientist at The Organic Center, Charles Benbrook, PhD, reviewed the Stanford study and much of the associated literature. He found the Stanford University results misleading. Dr. Benbrook stated that several well-designed previous U.S. studies revealed that organic crops consistently showed higher concentrations of antioxidants and vitamins than conventional crops. In crops such as strawberries, grapes, apples, tomatoes, grains, and carrots, organic produce has 10 to 30 percent higher levels of various nutrients, including antioxidants, Vitamin C, and phenolic acids in most studies. In a 2011 study, a team led by Dr. Kirsten Brandt of the Human Nutrition Research Center of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom looked at much of the same literature as researchers in the Stanford study. Their findings were published in Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences and concluded organic crops yielded an increase of approximately 12 to 16 percent more nutrients than conventional. This hallmark study was not mentioned in any of the news articles I reviewed to provide a fair and balanced approach. The only downside I can see in buying organic foods is that they cost more.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) – Alternative Treatment
Prostate gland enlargement, better know as BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), affects 50% of men by age 50 and 90% of men by age 90. Symptoms related to BPH are often measured with a tool developed by the American Urological Association, known as the International Prostate Symptoms Score (I-PSS). This is a self-assessment questionnaire where the patient rates the intensity or frequency of his symptoms. A score of “0” indicates there are no symptoms. The maximum score for any given symptom is “5.” A total score of 0-7 equals mild symptoms; 8-19 equals moderate symptoms; 20-35 equals severe symptoms. The symptoms are assessed as follows:
- Sensation of not emptying the bladder
- Frequency of urination
- Interruption of urine stream
- Difficulty postponing urination
- Weakness of urine stream
- Need to strain to initiate urination
- Frequency of urination overnight (nocturia)
Symptoms are caused by two main mechanisms. The first is prostatic tissue overgrowth, which in turn results in a narrowing of the urethral lumen. A second mechanism is increased smooth muscle tone in the muscles surrounding the prostate, urethra, and prostate stroma. FDA approved medications used to treat BPH fall into 2 categories: 1) alpha-antagonists and 2) 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. Unfortunately, all drugs have potential side-effects. The alpha-antagonist type of drugs can cause low blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and abnormal ejaculation. The 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors work by the conversion of testosterone to DHT within the body. Side effects of this type of drug may include decreased libido, decreased semen quality during ejaculation, and impotence.
CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) therapies for the treatment of BPH are not recommended by the American Urological Association, primarily because of the unavailability of clinical research demonstrating the benefits of their use. Another issue is the lack of standardization of available products and herbs. I agree with the latter statement regarding a lack of standardization of product ingredients, but there is research data available if one looks outside the United States.
Integrative medicine physicians and herbalists have used saw palmetto extract for centuries for treating male urinary symptoms. Saw palmetto is a small, low-growing palm tree, native to Florida and parts of the southeastern U.S.A. Native Americans have used the fruit for food and the leaf stems to make medicine baskets, and also have used it as a diuretic and sexual tonic. Saw palmetto was an official drug, listed in two editions of the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1906 to 1916 and in the National Formulary from 1926 to 1950, when its use as a therapeutic option for urinary tract disorders by the medical community declined in the U.S.A. In the 1960s French researchers began to exam the chemical composition of saw palmetto berry and this resulted in the development of a number of proprietary products. Extracts of saw palmetto berries have been approved both by the French and German governments for the treatment of BPH. Saw palmetto berry has 5-alpha-reductase-inhibiting properties derived from it’s free fatty acids. Animal studies have also shown anti-exudative and anti-inflammatory effects as well.
A randomized trial in Shanghai, China, using saw palmetto and other ingredients was published in 2008. This study involved a total of 80 patients followed over a 3 month period of time, where 39 patients received a saw palmetto product complexed with other natural ingredients (including vitamin E, vitamin B6, zinc, selenium, copper gluconate, pumpkin seed, stinging nettles, saw palmetto 45% fatty acids, lycopene, and Pygeum africanum bark sterols along with some amino acids). The patients receiving the saw palmetto complex showed significant improvement in maximum urinary flow rate, I-PSS scores, improvement in nocturia, and also improvement in quality of life scores. There was no reduction, however, in size of the prostate gland. Significant improvement was noted at the end of 2 months with further improvement at the end of 3 months.
Another study was a meta-analysis of clinical studies (Wilt et. al., 1998) where 18 studies in Germany, France, and Italy were carefully reviewed. A total of 2,939 men with symptomatic BPH were involved. The study duration ranged from 4 to 48 weeks, with a mean duration of 9 weeks. Medicinal preparations were made of saw palmetto alone or combined with other botanicals, and the trials were placebo controlled. Two of the studies reviewed did not report results that allowed them to be included in the meta-analysis. Compared to placebo, saw palmetto produced lowered I-PSS scores, lower frequency of nocturia, and improvement in peak urine flow. When compared to finasteride (brand names Propecia, Proscar), saw palmetto users experienced similar benefits but about a 90% lower incidence of side effects. Adverse effects were “mild and infrequent” and erectile dysfunction was lower when compared to finasteride (1.1% compared to 4.9%). The authors noted that more research was needed to determine the long-term effectiveness and the ability to prevent complications associated with BPH.
At the Center, we carry Biotics Research™ Palmetto Plus Forte, which contains saw palmetto berry in a 4:1 extract, lycopene, chlorophyllins from mulberry leaf, zinc, selenium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin A. The cost for a month’s supply taking three capsules daily is $42.
Can Lithium Boost Your Brain Health?
I recently read an article on lithium written by Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., a well-respected integrative physician who is the medical director of the Tahoma Clinic in Washington state. In this article he states taking lithium for even a short time seems to confer protective benefits for those at higher risk for dementia. Most people think of lithium as a drug for mental illness, but very low dose natural forms of lithium are available over the counter. Lithium has been shown to be effective in ultra-low doses such as is found in tap water. In Florida, there is very little lithium in the soils or water and most of my patients have low hair lithium values on their hair analysis reports. Sea water, on the other hand, has a high concentration of lithium (about 50 micrograms in a tablespoon). Could that be one of the reasons we feel more relaxed and calm after a day at the beach and soaking in the ocean?
A ten year study done in Texas found the incidence of violent crimes such as homicide or rape, and also drug addiction was lower in counties where the water supply contained naturally occurring lithium in the 70 – 170 microgram per liter range. Lithium has a calming effect.
In a 10 year Danish study, persons with a high risk for dementia were divided into 2 groups – one group taking lithium and the other group not taking lithium. At the end of 10 years, the lithium group had no more dementia than the general Danish population. The non-lithium group ended up with significantly more dementia. The same research group also looked at over 4000 patients with bi-polar disorder. One of the drugs used to treat bi-polar disorder is lithium carbonate. In this group of 4000 patients, about half were treated with a prescription lithium medication and the other half were treated with non-lithium medication. Again the group who took a lithium product had significantly less dementia.
Dr. Wright went on to say that taking low-dose lithium to reduce Alzheimer’s risk should be considered. This recommendation is also supported by research done at Sao Paulo University in Brazil, led by Dr Orestes Forlenza. This research found taking lithium in low doses slowed down memory loss in the elderly. They also noted that there was a decrease in build-up of tangles of damaging proteins called phospho- tau in people’s brain fluid which characterized Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Wright does not suggest using the lithium carbonate form for bi-polar disorder treatment, but rather a natural lithium product in the form of either lithium orotate or lithium aspartate at a dose of up to 10 to 20 milligrams per day of elemental lithium. Dr. Wright stated evidence suggests lithium could be an essential nutrient, with a minimum intake of 1000 micrograms a day necessary for proper physiological function in the average 70 kg. adult. At these low levels he has not found significant side effects or the need to monitor blood lithium levels. High doses of lithium can damage kidneys and liver.
Dr. Wright stated he started taking lithium himself after an article in the British medical journal Lancet reported that just 4 weeks of high-dose lithium therapy caused a 3% increase in brain volume. This may not sound like much, but it translates into billions of additional brain cells. This finding countered the conventional thinking that we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have and that brain shrinkage is an unavoidable consequence of aging.
So why haven’t we heard more about lithium to delay dementia or reduce cravings for drugs or alcohol? Could this be because lithium is a natural substance and cannot be patented, so no significant profit can be made from selling it?
We carry two lithium products (orotate form) that are vegetable derived. LI Zyme contains 50 micrograms of elemental lithium per tablet, and a bottle of 100 tablets costs $12. LI Zyme Forte contains 150 micrograms of elemental lithium per tablet and a bottle of 100 tablets cost $28. [1 milligram = 1000 micrograms].
Patient Success Story – 65 year old Lady With a History of Previous Breast Cancers Seen for Weight Reduction
Mrs. J is a 65 year old female patient who was seen for evaluation of obesity. Significant history was that in the 1990s Mrs. J was found to have a ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). This is a condition where abnormal cells are found within the milk ducts in the breast. Although DCIS is a risk factor for invasive breast cancer, some physicians do not consider DCIS a cancer at all. There is also controversy as to how to treat it. DCIS is typically treated like early-stage invasive breast cancer with lumpectomy or mastectomy and radiation therapy, and often hormonal therapy. The 10 year survival rate after diagnosis is high at 96-98%. Randomized trials showed an approximately 50% reduction in local recurrence when radiation therapy was added after surgery, but no difference in overall survival. Controversy remains over how complete the excisions were in these trials, and some argue that if adequate tissue margins are achieved, radiation therapy may not be needed. Also, the definition of margins varied among these studies. Some patients are placed on Tamoxifen after radiation therapy is completed for 5 years. In one double-blind prospective study, 1804 women were divided into two groups following surgery and radiation. One group received a placebo and the other group received Tamoxifen. There were 8.2% recurrences of either DCIS or invasive breast cancer in the Tamoxifen group vs. 13.4% recurrences in the placebo group. In another study, the risk of developing invasive breast cancer in the same breast was not lowered by taking Tamoxifen. So there is conflicting data.
Getting back to Mrs. J, at the time her DCIS was found, she underwent a lumpectomy but refused to undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy. In 2009 this patient was found to have another breast cancer in the same breast, but the pathology was different. This was a new, invasive cancer rather than a recurrence of her DCIS. Again Mrs J. underwent a lumpectomy, but refused chemotherapy or radiation. At this second surgery, an axillary lymph node dissection was done and fortunately all seven lymph nodes that were removed were negative for metastatic disease.
When Mrs. J saw me, a comprehensive initial exam was undertaken, including lab work that included tumor markers for breast cancer (CA27/29 and CA 15-3). These tumor markers were negative. Other lab work showed Mrs. J to have a hormone profile with a reference range estradiol and very low progesterone, indicative of a possible estrogen dominant state that is a risk factor for breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. Also her ALT and AST liver enzymes were elevated. Mrs. J had no risk factors for hepatitis. A later set of lab work to screen for hepatitis B and C was negative. An abdominal ultrasound study showed fatty infiltration of the liver, which is a condition that can cause elevated liver enzymes.
It is known there is an increased risk of developing breast cancer in post-menopausal women who are obese. It is felt this may in part be due to the increased estrogen produced by fat cells. Being overweight also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Mrs. J was motivated to do something about her weight and she elected to go into our Releana diet program. Releana is a patented, pharmaceutical grade hCG and is used sublingually to speed weight loss in conjunction with a very low calorie diet. We have found no side effects with this medication and in many people they have a sense of well-being while at the same time their appetite is suppressed. This program requires medical supervision. Within several months, Mrs. J was able to lose 36 pounds and drop 3 dress sizes. When this patient was previously placed on a liquid diet program by another physician, she regained the weight back after going back on solid foods. It has been our experience that 90% of patients who follow this diet program will be within a few pounds of their Releana weight one year after completing the program if they stick to the guidelines.
Mrs. J underwent repeat labs after her 36 pound weight loss and her previously elevated liver enzymes had returned to normal. Mrs. J wants to lose a bit more weight, and once she has achieved her final weight loss goal, we will repeat an abdominal ultrasound to document the improvement or resolution of her fatty liver condition.
WHAT’S NEW AT THE CENTER – January 2013
Product Highlights- With the cold and flu season here, I wanted to remind established patients and inform new patients of some of the remedies we have available at the Center.
ViraClear EPs 7630™ is a homeopathic herbal remedy obtained from the roots of the Pelargonium siloides plant, an African herb long used to treat cough and respiratory ailments. This product has been in widespread use in Europe for over a decade, and has been the subject of over 20 clinical studies involving more than 9,000 patients, including 3,900 children. It helps speed the recovery and shorten the duration of colds and flu’s. This product is approved for ages 2 years and up. It comes both in a cherry flavored syrup for children and a pleasant tasting liquid dropper for adults. Cost $17 per bottle. Imported from Europe.
LDM is an herbal product derived from the Lomatium Dissectum root. Dr. Erickson also has this product homeopathically enhanced. This plant has been used for centuries by native Americans and also herbalists to treat upper respiratory infections, flu’s, skin infections and urinary tract infections. It should be used in combination with ViraClear for best effect. Cost $35 per bottle.
Immuplex is a glandular product manufactured by Standard Process. It contains a mixture of natural (as opposed to synthetic) vitamins and bovine thymus, spleen and liver extracts. This product is useful in boosting immune function, according to the manufacturer. Cost $13 for a bottle of 40 capsules. The dose with this product varies. It can be combined with the ViraClear and LDM-100 products.
Ultra Absorbic C is a non-corn derived liquid vitamin C product developed by Dr. Takimoto. The vitamin C is complexed with magnesium, alpha lipoic acid and lecithin containing phosphatidylcholine. Dr. Takimoto’s studies have shown this product to have a very high absorption from the intestinal tract. One teaspoon = 934 mg of vitamin C. A 2 ounce bottle is $29 and this product should be refrigerated. Many patients report increased energy and sense of well-being within 30 minutes of taking it. The dose varies from 1 teaspoon to half a bottle several times daily, and should be mixed in juice.
AloePure600 AMP is a new product. Dr. Bruce Walton developed Aloe Vera Plus which contains aloe leaf with wheat grass and other nutrients. AloePure 600 AMP is also manufactured to Dr. Walton’s specifications and is a proprietary blend of small, medium, and long chain polysaccharides derived from high quality, whole Aloe Vera leaves that are freeze dried to maintain potency. The short length AMP (Aloe Vera mucilaginous polysaccharides) molecules reduce inflammation that occurs in processes such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, arthritis and gastric reflux. It also aides in blood sugar normalization. The medium length AMP molecules are free radical scavengers, reducing oxidative stress in atherosclerosis and heart disease. Longer length AMP molecules have an antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-yeast/fungus effect. The very long AMP molecules are immune system modulating and are useful in diseases such as hepatitis C, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, chronic infections, heart disease and immune system disorders, according to the manufacturer. A bottle of 90 capsules is $94. The usual dose is 1 or 2 capsules daily.
Low dose influenza vaccine via intradermal administration (injection into the skin, not muscle) is an alternative method of immunizing against the flu. This method is FDA approved. Our experience has shown no serious side effects and a low incidence of influenza in vaccinated patients. This method uses 80% less flu vaccine and a much smaller needle than tradition intramuscular flu vaccinations. Besides being virtually painless, the intradermal method stimulates a greater level of antibodies in nasal and salivary secretions compared to traditional intramuscular flu shots. This year’s vaccine provides protection against 4 strains of flu rather than the usual 3 strains. Approved for use in ages 18 and above. Cost $20.