Dear Patients and Friends:
Living in Florida, mosquitoes have been more of a pest than a health concern up until recently. Who would think insects smaller than a child’s thumbnail are the most dangerous non-human animals on planet Earth. We’ve known for more than 100 years mosquitoes can pass on deadly diseases. Malaria alone kills more than 400,000 people a year and yellow fever and dengue cause thousands of deaths. Zika virus disease first emerged 50 years ago in monkeys found in Uganda’s Zika forest. The first human cases of the mosquito-borne disease were reported in 1952. Since then outbreaks have occurred in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
The Zika virus has reached Florida and as of the time this article went to print the Centers for Disease Control and the Florida Department of Health have issued health alerts/travel warnings for parts of Dade County including South Beach. In south Florida, intensive chemical spraying to control the spread of mosquitoes is the only treatment currently available. Eventually a vaccine will be developed. A non-travel related case of Zika virus in Tampa was just reported in late August. So far, no cases of Zika have been reported in North Florida. Governor Scott directed the State Surgeon General to activate a Zika Virus Information Hotline for residents and visitors (1-800-622-6735).
In February 2016, the World Health Organization designated the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern, estimating up to 4 million people could be infected by year’s end. Since May 2016, almost 60 countries have reported local Zika transmissions. Experts strongly suspect a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly – a birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. With the possible risk to babies, the most recent CDC reports advise both men and women to refrain from sex or use proper protection throughout the duration of a pregnancy. So far an increase in microcephaly cases and other neonatal malformations has only been reported in Brazil and French Polynesia. There have also been rare reports of neurological disorders and even death in some adults that may be Zika virus related. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put out an advisory that all blood banks should test blood supplies for Zika.
Zika Virus Symptoms
Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. Symptoms of Zika are similar to other viruses spread through mosquito bites, like dengue and chikungunya. The most common symptoms of Zika are:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Other symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
How Long Do Symptoms Last?
Zika is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected or think they have a common virus or the flu.
How Soon Should You Be Tested?
Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week. If you develop symptoms and you live in or have recently traveled to an area with Zika, especially if there is a risk of pregnancy, see your doctor for the appropriate blood tests. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
There Are No Silver Bullets
To date, there is no specific treatment for Zika virus and defensive strategies under consideration range from simple campaigns such as spraying insecticide or cleaning out breeding sites to genetic alteration or infecting the mosquitoes with a bacteria. One exciting new technology only several years old is called CRISPR. CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. It is being developed by a molecular geneticist at the University of California, Irvine. His name is Anthony James and I learned about him and his research in the August 2016 issue of National Geographic. CRISPR allows scientists to quickly and precisely alter, delete and rearrange the DNA of any living organism. Think of it as a type of editing process. In combating the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries multiple different pathogens, the approach would be to engineer a gene drive that makes the insects sterile. “It wouldn’t make sense to build a mosquito resistant to Zika if it could still transmit denque and other diseases.” The article is a bit technical but written to be understood by the lay public. So help is on the way.
Nitric Oxide and Your Circulation
One of the most important molecules able to influence metabolic activities and have a variety of positive effects throughout the body is nitric oxide (NO). It is a simple molecule made up of one atom of nitrogen and one atom of oxygen. NO functions to dilate blood vessels and improve circulation. It can also enhance erections in men who have circulation problems. Most people are familiar with the drug nitroglycerine to treat angina in persons with coronary artery disease or impending heart attack. This drug works by generating NO and this subsequently dilates blood vessels to provide more oxygen to the heart.
NO is known as the endothelial-derived relaxation factor – meaning it is produced by the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels and causes them to “relax” or widen. This reduces blood pressure, improves circulation, and allows more oxygen and nutrients to go to the heart, brain and other organs of the body. The presence of NO seems to improve energy production efficiency as well. In other words, NO causes muscles to use less energy during contractions or workouts, and delays muscle fatigue.
For years, scientists thought NO was produced in the body from the amino acid arginine. This made arginine supplementation attractive to athletes working out to improve endurance, and even in heart patients to improve coronary circulation. Scientists now understand that NO is produced even more through the consumption of nitrites and nitrates. Many vegetables contain nitrates/nitrites e.g. beets, spinach, lettuce, bok choy, and celery to name a few. Some researchers have hypothesized that the health benefits attributed to diets such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet are related to the high NO content of the vegetables in these diets. Vegetarian and vegan diets are known to lower blood pressures and improve cardiovascular function in some patients.
NO production in the body decreases after age 30, but the ability of the blood vessels to respond to NO doesn’t change. Although it was a small study, older adults around age 70 did not absorb nitrates from nitrate-rich foods very well, but did so from nitrate supplements. Another study using beet juice containing 1040mg of nitrate increased the efficiency of oxygen usage during exercise, but the study showed that taking a higher dose of nitrate did not have any extra benefit. Other studies showed Panax ginseng can improve exercise capacity, and combining nitrate or arginine containing supplements, or with vegetable juices may have an additive effect.
In heart patients undergoing chelation therapy with EDTA, chelation therapists used to think calcium was removed from arterial blockages, improving circulation. This happens to a minor extent after many chelations, but a more likely scientific explanation is that by removing toxic metals such as lead through binding to EDTA and removal from the body through the kidneys, receptor sites in the inner lining of the arteries are able to produce NO and dilate blood vessels. This could explain why we frequently see patients with decreased fatigue and improved exercise tolerance after a few chelations.
One of the products we carry at the Center that is patented and originally developed for heart disease patients is called Perfusia SR® (SR = sustained release), which boosts NO. It contains arginine, which if taken in its regular amino acid form, is rapidly used up, but in this sustained release product can be dosed twice daily. Perfusia SR® may also lower blood pressure according to Sherry Rogers, M.D.. Another product which is promoted by its manufacturer for endurance and athletic performance is a product called Vasophil™. It contains a mixture of arginine and citruline in individual use packets. This is an immediate release product to be mixed in water. We have had limited positive experience in male patients with mild ED using this product as well. Another product we carry is Nanogreens®, which is a concentrated vegetable and fruit powder, one scoop of which is equal to the antioxidant power of 10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables. This product provides naturally occurring nitrites and nitrates. The manufacturer promotes this product for faster exercise recovery times and general health.
Cranberry and Urinary Infections – Does It Work
Cranberry juice has been used for years to prevent and treat urinary tract infections. The proanthocyanidins in cranberry extracts prevents the adherence of E. coli bacteria to human uroepithelial cells. E. coli is the most common cause of urinary infections and this germ lives in the intestinal tract. Cranberry juice also acidifies the urine, which may help. It also contains hippuric acid, which has antibiotic activity.
In one study, one hundred sixty women undergoing elective gynecological surgery involving urinary catheterization were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, two cranberry capsules twice daily or placebo. The capsules were equivalent to 8 ounces of cranberry juice twice daily. The incidence of urinary tract infections in the cranberry group was lower by 50% compared to the placebo group.
Some women have issues with recurrent bladder infections. In another study of more than 300 women with a history of recurrent UTIs, researchers treated the women with either two grams of D-mannose, 50 milligrams of an antibiotic, or no treatment daily for six months. D-Mannose is a naturally occurring sugar that’s closely related to glucose and the sugar in cranberries.
Only 15 percent of those taking the D-mannose had a recurrent UTI compared to 20 percent for the antibiotic group. Both treatment group results were significantly lower than the no-treatment group. However, the incidence of side effects was significantly lower in the D-mannose group than the antibiotics group.
We carry BioTech D-mannose at the Center in 50 capsule bottles with each capsule containing 300mg of D-mannose.
Patient Success Story — Trileana Weight Loss Diet Patient
Mrs. C is a 42 year old patient who has chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, migraine and muscle tension headaches, and she had also been under a lot of emotional stress from family issues. As part of her evaluation a complete physical with labs and Spectracell analysis of functional nutritional deficiencies was performed. The Spectracell study did show deficiencies of vitamin B12 and Glutathione. These nutrient deficiencies were corrected with some improvement in fatigue. However, with her on-going stress she slowly gained weight to 175 pounds. A salivary cortisol study documented elevated cortisol levels in the late afternoon. High afternoon levels of cortisol reflect adrenal hyperfunction with increased adrenal assistance in glycemic control. They can be seen in obesity, chronic stress, smoking, pregnancy, heavy exercise and alcoholism. Very high levels of salivary cortisol, which this patient did not have, can be seen in Cushing’s syndrome or adrenal hyperplasia.
Mrs. C reviewed the information on the Trileana diet, which is a 500 calorie diet using sublingual hCG, where patients can lose up to a pound a day. This diet was originally developed by Dr. Simeons in the 1970s with great success. He hypothesized fat accumulation around the belly and thighs was related to a hormone imbalance in the hypothalamus portion of the brain. Within a four week period Mrs. C hit her goal weight of 150 pounds and felt and looked much better. She states her fatigue had resolved.
One of the benefits of the Trileana diet is that the majority of patients who do not go back to their old eating habits and remain off restricted foods such as desserts and starchy foods, do not regain the weight they lost at the of one year follow-up.
Patient Success Story – Nighttime Muscle Cramps Relieved With a Supplement
Mrs. B is a 71 year old patient with diabetes and other medical issues who was experiencing muscle cramps in her fingers and toes while sleeping. This is a common problem we see in older patients. She tried a homeopathic magnesium product that did not help. Physical exam showed normal pulses in the extremities, and no edema or cyanosis of the fingers or toes. She was placed on Tri-Salts ½ teaspoon mixed in water at bedtime for her nocturnal recumbency cramps. At her recent revisit, she stated her muscle cramps were completely relieved with this treatment. Tri-Salts is a USP grade mixture of calcium, magnesium and potassium carbonates and bicarbonates which alkalinizes the body. It has been our experience that this product also relieves the burning pain in the bladder with interstitial cystitis. A 200gram bottle of Tri-Salts contains 100 servings and is $10.