Friday, October 27, 2006

Avoid Coffee If...

Info on coffee from Dr. Mercola:

It appears that drinking coffee may interfere with your body's ability to keep homocysteine and cholesterol levels in check, most likely by inhibiting the action of the vitamins folate, B12 or B6. Coffee has been previously associated with increased risk of stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have also shown that caffeine in coffee can raise blood pressure and levels of stress hormones, and if consumed in large quantities it can lead to heart palpitations, jitters and nervousness.
Pregnant women should NEVER drink coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant drug that easily passes through the placenta to the developing fetus and is also transferred through breast milk.

During pregnancy and in infants the half-life of caffeine is increased, which means that it will stay in your body, and your infant's body, longer. Moreover, fetuses have no ability to detoxify caffeine.

Research suggests that drinking more than 300 mg of coffee daily, or the equivalent of two to three 8-ounce cups, may increase the risk of miscarriage, birth defects such as cleft palate and low birth weight, although as I mentioned above I don't believe that ANY amount coffee is safe for pregnant women.

Even with moderate caffeine intake, when the woman experiences no effects, studies have found changes in both the mother's and the fetal heart rate and blood pressure. Preliminary studies also suggest that drinking four cups of coffee or more per day may put the infant at an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Caffeine may also make it more difficult for women to maintain necessary levels of iron and calcium, which are especially important during pregnancy.

It also appears that coffee consumption is associated with increased estrogen levels, which means an increased risk of breast and endometrial cancer.

Coffee also has the issue of pesticide contamination, which is particularly harmful during pregnancy. You can read more about this issue below.

Coffee is usually not grown in the United States and we therefore have no control over how many pesticides are sprayed on coffee crops. As such, coffee is a heavily sprayed crop, so drinking coffee is likely to expose you to a dose of pesticides with each cup.

Pesticides have been associated with a number of health problems such as:

Prostate cancer and other cancers
Parkinson's Disease
If you choose to drink coffee, drinking organic coffee might reduce or eliminate the exposure to toxic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. The only drawback is that the countries where coffee is produced probably have less control and monitoring for compliance to organic practices along with pesticide use. Another plus of organic coffee is that you will also be helping to protect the health of the people working in the coffee fields, as you will be helping to reduce their exposure to toxins as well.

Avoid Coffee if You Have High Blood Pressure, Insomnia or Anxiety

Since coffee is a stimulant it will only worsen the symptoms of insomnia and anxiety and should definitely be avoided. People with panic or anxiety disorders may find that they are especially sensitive to caffeine and may find that even a small amount of the stimulant exacerbates their symptoms. Similarly, the caffeine will linger in your body for hours after you drink it, so it may keep you up at night even if you drink it long before bedtime.

For those with high blood pressure, a general rule is that the more caffeine you drink in a day, the higher your blood pressure will be. So if you are already at the higher end of the scales, drinking coffee will only increase your blood pressure further.

[Coffee can contribute to adrenal fatigue.]


Every now and then we run an advertisement for a product called ShowerSafe, a showerhead filter that helps reduce the absorption of chlorine in tap water.

The latest ShowerSafe ad prompted this e-mail from an HSI member named Mary: "I read your article on chlorine and have a concern. I do water aerobics 3x a week for an hour. If a 10 minute shower is bad, what can that be doing?"

Good question. When I checked in with HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., and posed Mary's question, he started at the top: the scalp, noting that the pores of the scalp are highly absorbent.

Dr. Spreen: "As someone who spent a TON of time in chlorinated water (and handling chlorine levels), there is NO question that swimming in American pools is far worse than showering...the chlorine levels are much worse in the pool. That's haunted me for years.

"Even worse, however, would be a hot tub...they are positively loaded with chlorine.

"I say 'American' pools, as in Europe they refuse to use chlorine or bromine, preferring the more expensive process of ozonation. My feeling is the US can't afford to have that bit of news get out, as people will then start to question their municipal (chlorinated) water supplies.

"So, yes there's scalp absorption (plus inhalation, don't forget) in a shower. And never, ever, get in a hot tub unless it's ozone treated (which you won't find in the US, far as I know)."

In the e-mail Dr. Spreen sent, he mentioned a book titled "Coronaries/Cholesterol/Chlorine" by Dr. Joseph Price. The book explains how chlorine intake contributes to narrowing of the arteries.

Dr. Spreen: "Price found that American kids dying in car wrecks at home had far less atherosclerosis than kids the same age killed in Vietnam. His conclusion was that the only thing different was all the chlorine tablets the troops had to dump into all water supplies to be able to drink available water over there.

"He then took chickens (which for some reason have arteries like humans) and tested chlorinated and non-chlorinated water on them. He found that the highly reactive nature of the chlorine molecule scars the arterial intima [the inner lining of the artery]. The body protects itself by painting a thin film of cholesterol over the damaged area. It's not the cholesterol that kills, it's the continual need for protection against the scars that eventually gets out of hand."

In "Coronaries/Cholesterol/Chlorine" Dr. Price offers another key point to support the link between chlorine exposure and atherosclerosis.

Dr. Prince notes that heart disease is a modern health problem. We're told by mainstream nutritionists that high-fat diets are to blame, but high-fat diets were common in the 19th Century while heart disease was rare. Meanwhile, the steady growth of heart disease rates throughout the 20th Century parallels the steady increase in the use of chlorine in our water, paper, clothing, insecticides, paints and cleaning products.


Benefits of Organic Food

Here is the short list of the benefits of organic food.

No pesticide, herbicide, fungicide residues on food
Less chlorine chemistry into our environment.
No synthetic fertilizer residuals built into plants
No genetically engineered organisms or varieties.
Intense, realistic flavors.
Higher vitamin content.
Higher mineral content and greater mineral variety

Unbalanced pH

Most people who have unbalanced pH are "acidic." This condition forces the body to borrow calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium from vital organs and bones to buffer the acid and safely remove it from the body. This process weakens these organs and bones over time.

[I don't remember where I copied this from. See an earlier post on how to balance your pH.]

Aspartame, "Chemical Poison"

Mansanto website said,"As far as aspartame is concerned, according to researchers and
physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following
chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of
aspartame: Brain tumors, Multiple sclerosis, Epilepsy, Chronic
fatigue syndrome, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's, Mental
retardation, Lymphoma, Birth defects, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes.
Aspartame is made up of three chemicals, aspartic acid,
phenylalanine, and methanol." The book, "Prescription for Nutritional
Healing" by James and Phyllis Balch lists aspartame under the
category of "Chemical Poison." As you can see, that is exactly what
it is. "

[This was taken from a health forum, possibly Curezone.]


According to Holistic Online, onion juice is a folk remedy that calls for one drop of the juice in each ear, three times a week until the ringing in the ears is relieved. I have no idea if this works , but I do know that onion juice is not the only natural treatment for this very annoying condition.

In a 2002 ginkgo biloba study conducted in Germany, patients who received 200 mg of ginkgo daily generally reported marked reduction in tinnitus.

A deficiency of zinc may be at the root of some tinnitus cases. Foods that contain zinc include spinach, oysters, beef, papaya, asparagus and prunes.

Tinnitus is a common topic in the HSI Healthier Talk community forums. One HSI member with an "extreme case" of tinnitus notes that CoQ10 supplements combined with a low carbohydrate diet helped enormously. And another member found relief with chiropractic treatments.

Jenny Thompson -HSI

Prevent Alzheimer's

Can vitamins help prevent Alzheimer's disease?

Many HSI members are well aware that an elevated level of homocysteine (an amino acid) increases the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. And they also know that foods and supplements rich in vitamins B6, B12, and folate can help reduce homocysteine.

Less well known, however, is a demonstrated link between high homocysteine and an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and dementia.

So we return to the original question: Can vitamins (specifically, the ones mentioned above) help prevent Alzheimer's disease?

Last year, researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University recruited more than 320 healthy older men from a Veterans Affairs study on aging. At baseline, all of the men completed food-frequency questionnaires, and blood was drawn from each subject to measure B vitamins and homocysteine. Over the following three years the men took occasional tests to monitor cognitive function.

At the conclusion of the study, researchers reported these results:
High homocysteine levels were associated with a decline in recall memory
High folate levels were significantly linked to verbal fluency
Subjects with elevated folate levels had fewer declines in spatial copying (a drawing test that measures the brain's ability to understand and reproduce geometric figures)

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the USDA authors concluded that, "Low B vitamin and high homocysteine concentrations predict cognitive decline."

Vitamins B6, B12, and folate have been proven to help metabolize homocysteine. These nutrients are abundant in asparagus, lentils, chickpeas, most varieties of beans, and especially spinach and other leafy green vegetables. But many people don't absorb B vitamins well, so in addition to these food sources a good B-complex supplement is often required to lower homocysteine levels.

According to several studies, supplements of the antioxidant amino acid N-acetylcysteine (NAC) may also lower homocysteine levels.

In 2001 I told you about a study that showed how NAC improved cognitive function in patients with probable Alzheimer's disease. The 24-week study of 47 subjects revealed that those participants who took NAC showed improvement in nearly every outcome measure, without experiencing any negative side effects.

Once homocysteine levels are addressed, there are other nutrients that may offer further protection from Alzheimer's. In the e-Alert "Form Rides with Function" (4/20/05), I told you about two studies from Johns Hopkins University that show how two key vitamins may support cognitive function.

In the first study, nearly 580 subjects, aged 60 or older, were followed for more than seven years. A diet high in vitamin E (spinach, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocados, tomatoes, peaches and blackberries) was strongly associated with a significant reduction of Alzheimer's risk. Intake of dietary vitamin C was found to be somewhat useful in reducing AD risk, but less effective than vitamin E.

Nearly two years later, another Johns Hopkins team interviewed more than 4,700 subjects aged 65 or older. Supplement intake was assessed, as well as the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, from 1995 to 1997, and again from 1998 to 2000. Evaluation of the data showed that in the first phase, those who took supplements of vitamins C and E combined had a 78 percent lower risk of AD. In the second phase, the percentage dropped to 64, but still indicated a significant level of protection.

In addition, Alzheimer's risk was even lower among subjects who took a vitamin E supplement along with a multivitamin that contained vitamin C.

Jenny Thompson -HSI [Also, be sure to do your Sudoku!]

Migraine and Blood Sugar

Migraine patients may have a new strategy for minimizing headaches.

Italian researchers at the Headache Centre at the University of Turin investigated the confirmed link between migraines and an increased risk of blood vessel-related disorders such as high blood pressure.

The Turin team recruited 30 migraine patients and a control group of 15 healthy subjects without migraines. When blood sugar levels were measured after each subject drank a beverage with high sugar content, blood sugar levels in the migraine group remained much higher than those in the control group for up to three hours after taking the drink. Other measures also indicated a general insensitivity to insulin among the migraine group.

Lead researcher Innocenzo Rainero, M.D., told Reuters Health that methods for addressing insulin insensitivity - such as regular exercise and avoidance of high glycemic foods - might help prevent migraine attacks.


Psoriasis, Natural Treatment

In psoriasis, skin cells multiply too rapidly, resulting in unsightly, itchy rashes. Complicating matters is the fact that psoriasis is still poorly understood, has no certain cause, and is considered by conventional medicine to be incurable.

Incurable, maybe, but not untreatable.

Here's a treatment that's been successful for thousands of psoriasis patients - an extract of mahonia aquifolium (also known as the Oregon grape). In 1995, researchers in 89 dermatology practices throughout Germany put mahonia aquifolium to the test, using 433 patients who suffered from chronic psoriasis. Over the course of 12 weeks, the dermatologists reported that symptoms improved or completely disappeared in 81 percent of the patients.

Further biochemical research has isolated several active alkaloids from the bark of the Oregon grape that appear to be responsible for the beneficial functions that help fight psoriasis, including: inhibition of abnormal proliferation of skin cells, reduction of inflammation and histamine release, and strong antibacterial and antifungal properties.

There are a number of products based on mahonia aquifolium, marketed under the brand name of M-Folia. These products include ointment and cream preparations, shampoo, sunscreen, and bath oil, which can provide relief from eczema as well as psoriasis.

For more information, HSI members can view the article titled "Incurable No Longer" in the December 1999 Members Alert, available on our web site at M-folia can be easily ordered through sources on the Internet, but talk to your doctor before using M-folia.

Non-drug treatment for psoriasis is a common topic in the HSI Healthier Talk community forums. Here are a few suggestions posted by HSI members:

A member named George has a case of psoriasis that was treated unexpectedly. He began taking two grams per day of inositol (niacin) to address a cognitive condition. But to his surprise, "My psoriasis has reduced to something barely noticeable - even through the cold winter with the dry heat and little sunshine."

Mary: "A friend of mine noticed a big difference, when she was going to the beach daily. Something about the sea water helped her a lot. It was almost cleared up, until she had to stop going to the beach. Just a thought, wouldn't that be a great prescription, daily dose of beach time."

Rick: "The real cure is free - Just takes your time and effort! Sunlight is the ultimate healer!"

Bob: "Vitamin D I think is a big factor. Dr. Douglass has been talking about lack of Vit. D and sun, and psoriasis was one thing he mentioned."

Kathy: "The following herbs are specific for psoriasis: Nettle Leaves, Silymarin and sarsaparilla." Terry: "Many sources will tell you that the Essential Fatty Acids in fish oil and flax seed oil will help psoriasis. It has helped mine a lot."

Tressa: "I read in Adelle Davis that lecithin could cure it. Started eating lecithin, several tablespoons a day, and it disappeared."