A Natural Approach to Kidney Stones
The most common type of kidney stone is the calcium oxalate crystal formed by the combination of calcium and oxalic acid.
It has been estimated that 12% of men and 5% of women in the Western world will develop a kidney stone by age 70, a condition relatively unknown in the developing world. Environmental and dietary factors are important in the formation of kidney stones and preventing the severe symptoms of acute passage is critical.
Dietary calcium is a major factor in many patients with calcium oxalate stones. An increase in dietary calcium is actually related to a reduction in urinary calcium levels in many cases. Supplemental calcium taken with meals reduces stone formation according to the latest large-scale study.
Drinking at least enough water to produce 2-3 quarts of urine per day is very important. An interesting twist on the fluid intake comes from studies using lemonade. Four ounces of reconstituted lemon juice was mixed with water to make two liters of lemonade daily. Lemon juice is high in citrate, a critical compound in the urine that helps prevent stone formation. In this study, the lemonade therapy greatly increased citrate levels. This is one way to get people who do not like water to drink fluids and it is less expensive than using citrate pills. Lemonade therapy also helps maintain a urinary pH between 6 and 7, which prevents uric acid and calcium phosphate from precipitating.
A number of nutritional supplements are important for preventing kidney stones. Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is necessary for oxalic acid metabolism and treatment with pyridoxine is beneficial for retarding stone formation. Pyridoxine works synergistically with the mineral magnesium, which increases calcium oxalate solubility. These two nutrients, together with citrate, help to inhibit precipitation of stone-forming compounds. Magnesium citrate is an effective way to deliver both nutrients simultaneously.
Ascorbic acid has been blamed for causing kidney stones because a break-down product of this critical vitamin is oxalic acid. However, at doses under 6 grams daily, urinary oxalate levels are not changed significantly in most people.
Saw palmetto is famous for its reliable benefit in treating patients with prostatic conditions. It also has the effect of making it easier for patients to pass stones. Saw palmetto is believed to reduce the pressure on the neck of the bladder and to have a sedative effect.
Because the herb goldenrod is considered to be useful in acute nephritis, it is an excellent herb to use shortly after the passage of a stone to flush out the kidney. Goldenrod also has a very high content of flavonoids, which aid in the repair of kidneys, blood vessels, and connective tissues throughout the body.
Together, nutritional and botanical approaches can provide potent tools in controlling kidney stones.
Reference: Hughes, J., Norman, R.W. Diet and calcium stones. Can Med Assoc J 1992; 146:137-43.
Raynaud's Disease Relief
Raynaud's disease is characterized by poor circulation to fingers, toes, and sometimes the tongue and tip of the nose when exposed to cold. In damp climates, it afflicts 20-25% of the population, more often women than men.
In addition to cold, emotional upsets can sometimes precipitate Raynaud's.
For mild symptoms, keep your hands and feet warm. Wear warm socks and gloves before going out in the cold.
Some complementary therapies can also ease symptoms:
Niacinamide, a "flush-free" form of niacin taken daily during cold weather has been shown to safely and effectively reduce Raynaud's attacks, perhaps by inhibiting spasms of the small arteries.
Ginkgo biloba extract improves circulation to the brain and extremities by dilating arteries, protecting cells from low-oxygen situations that may occur during a Raynaud's attack, and inhibiting platelet aggregation that can block small vessels. Although researchers haven't yet studied the herb's effect on Raynaud's, a trial on mountaineers found that preventive treatment with ginkgo significantly decreased mountain sickness and cold-induced vascular changes.
Magnesium regulates blood vessel contractility and appears to play a significant role in the physiology of Raynaud's. One study found that after exposure to cold, women with Raynaud's had lowered serum levels of magnesium.
Animal studies show that evening primrose oil rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs) can diminish arterial response to naturally occurring vasoconstrictors. So far, EFA treatment has shown mild positive effect in relieving Raynaud's.
Raynaud's disease sufferers may also consider traditional herbs including ginger, garlic, and cayenne, which are "warming" herbs.
Reference: Sunderland, T.T., et al. Clinical Rheumatology, 1988; 7:46-9. Leppert, J., et al. Journal of Internal Medicine, 1990; 228:235-9.
The Medicinal Shiitake Mushroom
Of an estimated 700 species of known edible mushrooms, up to 200 may have medicinal properties.
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is the number one agricultural export of Japan. World production of this mushroom today is second only to the common table mushroom.
Shiitake was used in Oriental folk medicine for improving circulation and vigor.
Shiitake is the source of an immunopotentiating agent known as lentinan. Lentinan is currently being administered to advanced cancer patients for whom conventional therapies offer a poor prognosis. However, lentinan only prolongs the survival of some cancer patients.
The mycelium is a stringy white mat that grows from a culture of the mushroom. An extract of the mycelium is reported to show impressive activity against viral infections. The dry powder extract is known as "Lentinula edodes mycelial extract" (LEM).
BREAST CANCER RESEARCH
LEM was recently tested in a cancer preventive assay in the U.S. designed to detect substances that might prevent breast cancer. LEM produced significant inhibition of human mammary carcinogenesis.
In a multicenter study, 66 hepatitis outpatients were given 6 grams of LEM orally per day for 4 months. Significant improvements were found and other hepatic function measurements showed a tendency toward improved liver function.
SHIITAKE AND CHOLESTEROL
The results of a study in young women and in people aged 60 years and older indicated that eating shiitake daily could lower levels of serum cholesterol by significant amounts.
Reference:Jones, K., Shiitake, the Healing Mushroom, 1995.
Vitamin C Enhances Heart Drug
Nitroglycerine is a commonly prescribed treatment for angina. However, although it dilates blood vessel walls and increases blood circulation, the body becomes tolerant of it and its effects wear off. A recent study has shown that vitamin C supplements can prevent this nitrate tolerance.
Eberhard Bassenge, Ph.D., at the University of Freiburg, Germany, tested the effects of nitroglycerine on nine healthy subjects.
For three days some were given the drug along with 3,000 mg of vitamin C, others took it with a placebo, and others took just a placebo and vitamin C.
Those not taking the vitamin C with the drug had a declining response to the nitroglycerine.
Earlier research by Bassenge and his team suggested that nitroglycerine increases production of superoxide free radicals. They decided to try vitamin C because of its ability to quench free radicals.
Evidently, there is a correlation, and nitroglycerine users might consider including a healthy dose of vitamin C to their diets daily.
Reference: Journal of Clinical Investigation, 1998; 102:67-71.
Promote Youthful Aging with B-Vitamins
Research has shown that three B vitamins can have an extraordinary effect on the body and mind's ability to remain young and vital.
Folic acid and vitamin B12 are nutrients that can help enhance our health as we age. Proper folic acid intake decreases the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, while vitamin B12 is crucial for maintaining healthy nerves and a sharp mind.
While folic acid supplementation has been widely reported for preventing neural-tube birth defects, this nutrient also plays a critical role in the aging process.
Recent news about folic acid shows that it helps guard against cancer and heart disease. In studies conducted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Center on Aging, folate-deficient diets demonstrated increased susceptibility to colon cancer.
Other recent studies indicate that an easy way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease is to ensure a healthy intake of folic acid as well as vitamins B6 and B12. These vitamins are deficient in most American's diets, and low levels can lead to the accumulation in the blood of homocysteine, an amino acid that contributes to heart disease.
Twelve studies found that homocysteine levels were higher when folic acid levels were low, while nine studies on supplementation found that folic acid supplementation leads to declines in homocysteine levels.
Long-term deficiency of folic acid can result in poor growth, graying hair, gastrointestinal disturbances, metabolic disturbances, and anemia.
Blood levels of B12 decline with age. Studies have shown that B12 deficiency is found in up to 42% of persons 65 years of age and older.
Because conditions of aging can impair the absorption of vitamin B12, it's not surprising that memory loss and other conditions involving neurological impairment are commonly seen in older people. A recent study showed that in 137 persons ages 66 to 90 who were given cognitive tests, those who had habitually taken higher levels of vitamins A, B6, B12, and E in the past performed better on visuospatial recall and/or abstraction tests than those who had not.
Additionally, correcting B12 deficiency, a common cause of depression in the elderly, can result in a dramatic improvement in mood.
Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1997, vol. 65.
Black Cohosh Relieves Menopausal Symptoms
Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) was introduced to American medicine by Native Americans who called it "squaw root" because it was predominantly used to treat female complaints.
The effectiveness of Cimicifuga was studied in 629 patients with menopausal complaints. All women received the Cimicifuga extract. As early as 4 weeks after the onset of therapy, a clear improvement in the menopausal ailments in approximately 80% of the patients was observed. After 6-8 weeks, complete disappearance of individual symptoms occurred in some of the patients. The herbal treatment showed very good tolerance without the presence of side effects in virtually all patients. Black cohosh treatment offers some advantages over estrogen therapy because the herbal therapy is apparently risk- and side effect-free, and no inconvenient monitoring is necessary.
In a randomized, double-blind study, the effects of a black cohosh extract were compared to estrogen and placebo in 80 female patients over the course of 12 weeks.
The investigators concluded that "Black cohost extract has an excellent therapeutic effect, which was subjectively perceived by the patients, and it is an effective and well-tolerated alternative to hormonal therapy in cases of menopausal ailments."
Reference: Duker, E.M., Kopanski, H.J., Wuttke, W. Effects of extracts from Cimicifuga racemosa in menopausal women. Planta Med, 1991; 57:420.
A randomized, double-blind study on osteoporotic hip fracture patients has found that protein supplements help hip fracture patients heal faster.
In the year following the hip fractures, all patients continued to lose bone from their bodies, but those receiving 20 grams of milk protein for six months lost only half as much bone as the others.
The benefits of the supplement went further. Those taking the protein increased their biceps strength by 20% and their immune status was higher.
Reference: Annals of Internal Medicine, 1998; 128(10):801-9.
Written by: EcoMall
Disclaimer: These statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is for educational purposes only. For any serious illness or health related disorders please consult your physician.
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