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Natural Relief For Persistent Pain

It is estimated that fibromyalgia affects 2% to 4% of the North American population, with women sufferers outnumbering men by a ratio of 10 to one. Fibromyalgia is second only to osteoarthritis as the most common rheumatic condition.

Although the women affected are between the ages of 20 and 60, most are 45 to 55. Women in this latter age range are usually experiencing menopause, with shifting hormone levels that can affect the degree of pain experienced.

Fibromyalgia symptoms include fatigue, stiffness, and widespread musculoskeletal pain that vary in type and intensity. The pain usually starts in one spot and then progresses to other locations. Many patients are unable to get an accurate diagnosis and cannot determine what causes their painful condition.

This disease is often confused with rheumatoid arthritis-a chronic inflammatory joint disease-but differs in that there is no damage or deformity to the connective tissues, joints or muscles.

Current research indicates fibromyalgia-related pain is a result of faulty muscle function involving both contraction and relaxation. The thin membrane that surrounds groups of individual muscle fibers tightens and thickens, causing pain. Researchers in Milan, Italy, have studied the effects of serotonin levels in fibromyalgia patients. In two 50-patient trials, researchers gave 100 mg 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) three times daily to patients, which resulted in a 50% reduction in measured symptoms. It was also noted that patients retained the beneficial effects for up to 90 days after treatment.

French scientists made the observation that magnesium levels in red blood cells were low in the fibromyalgia patients they examined. This low magnesium status has been linked to abnormal thiamine metabolism.

Malic acid is a natural companion of magnesium and thiamine in the energy cycle. From the French research, some doctors suggest malic acid for patients with fibromyalgia. Subjects who were enrolled in a placebo-controlled four-week trial received three tablets that contained 200 mg malic acid and 50 mg magnesium twice per day. At the end of the trial, no significant improvement was noted. However, during a follow-up six-month trial with doubled doses (six tablets, twice daily), researchers noted significant reduction in pain and tenderness, plus improved psychological scores.

Reference: International Journal of Integrated Medicine, 1999 May/June: 1(3): 28-32.

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Soy Wonderful

Long before the FDA decided to approve a claim for cardiovascular health, soy had already been hailed for its heart-healthy properties.

Research available on the various health benefits of soy has contributed to the growing popularity of soy foods and soy supplements. Several studies have documented the strong antioxidant properties of soy isoflavones, which may prevent heart disease.

In addition to soy, its isoflavones have been shown to protect the heart health of post-menopausal women by improving high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.

Soy is one of the leading supplements among women who use supplements alone or in combination with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to combat menopause symptoms. Women using combination therapy of soy and HRT reported better results more often than women using HRT alone to improve vaginal dryness, libido, and mood. Soy foods have also been indicated in reducing hot flashes associated with menopause. They are an excellent source of protein, in addition to being naturally free of cholesterol, dairy, and lactose.

Tofu and soymilk make excellent meat substitutes that are protein-rich and low in saturated fat. Other growing soy foods include soy yogurt, cold cereals, cheese alternatives, nondairy frozen desserts, and frozen green soybeans.

Soy cheeses are created using technology that allows them to melt and cook similarly to a dairy cheese. This likeness makes soy cheese an acceptable replacement for dairy products that cannot be eaten because of lactose intolerance or food allergies.

Texturized soy protein, found in many entrees, gives the texture and mouth feel of meat protein with all the taste and health benefits of soy.

Studies have revealed that consumers will not use a soy product for health reasons if that product does not taste good. New food technologies enable creators of soy foods to improve the flavor of soy and allow consumers to make healthy replacements in their diets without sacrificing taste.

Reference: J Nutr, 131, 4:1202-6, 2001.

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Garlic: A Powerful Antioxidant

Aged garlic extract appears to reduce damage caused by free radicals, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Free radicals form when oxygen interacts with certain molecules during normal bodily processes. They damage cells and are linked to such illnesses as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Garlic and other antioxidants like vitamins C and E defend against free radical damage, thereby preserving the body's healthy functioning.

In a recent study, researchers gave smoking and nonsmoking adults aged garlic extract for two weeks. Blood and urine levels of a marker for free radical activity were measured at three points in the study: before supplementation, at two weeks, and two weeks after supplementation was discontinued.

Smokers are distinguished from nonsmokers because they usually have elevated levels of free radical activity compared with nonsmokers.

After two weeks, the marker concentrations had decreased by 35% to 48% in smokers, and 29% to 37% in nonsmokers. Two weeks after the end of the study, the levels returned to what they were prior to supplementation.

Researchers concluded that the health benefits last only as long as does supplementation, and suggest that for best results garlic extract should be taken consistently.

Reference: Journal of Nutrition, February 2002.

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Natural Support For ADD And ADHD

Four million school-aged children in North America suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

These children have difficulty maintaining normal academic progress and have behavioral problems. The current primary treatment is the use of pharmaceutical drugs such as Ritalin, which may have lasting biochemical and social effects on children.

ADHD is centered on an abnormality in dopamine metabolism, said Parris Kidd, PhD, author of Phosphatidylserine: Number-One Brain Booster. Kidd estimates that possibly 60% to 70% of ADD-diagnosed children suffer from food intolerances and allergies.

Several supplements show promise for these conditions:DMAE has been shown to enhance positive test scores for ADHD-affected children in double blind, placebo-controlled trials.

The essential fatty acid DHA has received acclaim as a potential alternative because some research associated low levels of DHA with ADHD. DHA makes up 95% of all omega-3 fatty acids in the brain and plays an important role in cognitive function.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is also being used as a supplement for ADHD.Several studies confirm the ability of blue-green algae to help ADHD children. In a trial in Nicaragua, 1,482 school-aged children took one gram of blue-green algae for a year. Academic scores increased more than 26% in that time.

A Polish study found that 95% of 116 kids with ADHD were magnesium-deficient. They divided the ADHD kids into two groups: one group took magnesium for six months while the other did not. The magnesium group showed improvement in ADHD symptoms according to parent and teacher feedback.

Reference: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children-Rationale for Its Integrative Management: Alternative Medicine Review, 2000.

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Astaxanthin Fights Macular Degeneration And Boosts Immune function

Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble carotenoid found in algae. It accumulates in the muscles of salmon, shrimp, trout, and other pink seafood when they eat these algae, giving these fish their pink hue.

According to Timothy Maher, PhD, astaxanthin researcher and pharmaceutical sciences professor at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston, astaxanthin kills free radicals by preventing these unstable molecules from damaging cells, a significant factor in reducing age-related diseases.

Astaxanthin also boosts the immune system by increasing the number and activity of T cells and macrophages-two protective cells that fight infection and cancer.A study found astaxanthin to be nearly three times stronger than lutein and significantly more potent than vitamin E in antioxidant activity tests.

A study published in Comparative Biochemistry reported that a group given astaxanthin for three weeks had nearly three times more macrophages than the control group.

Bellevue, WA based eye physician and surgeon James McMillan, MD recommends two mg per day of astaxanthin to prevent macular degeneration or cancer.

People consuming astaxanthin have reported no adverse effects.

Reference: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology, January 2000.

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Dyslexia & ADHD Improved By Fatty Acids

The Dietary Supplement Information Bureau (DSIB) has announced that children with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may find learning easier if they supplement their diets with fatty acids.

According to researchers, children taking a combination of fatty acids-including EPA and DHA derived from fish oil, and GLA and linoleic acid derived from evening primrose oil-demonstrated improved behavior and cognition.

The three-month clinical trial involved 41 boys and girls with literacy problems who were referred to a special school. The study's authors noted that children with behavioral and learning difficulties, attributable to dyslexia or ADHD, tend to under-consume fatty acids, which are important for brain development and function.

To assess the validity of their theory, researchers administered an olive oil placebo to children and a combination of essential fatty acids in the supplement group. After three months of supplementing with fatty acids, the treatment group demonstrated improvements in test scores and a reduction in behavioral problems as compared to the placebo group.Said Alexandra Richardson, MD, one of the study's authors, "A variety of symptoms characteristic of ADHD improved in the children receiving the fatty acid mixture compared to an olive oil placebo, without any apparent side effects."

Dr. Jerry Cott, PhD, a Scientific Advisory Board Member with DSIB added, "Reducing the symptoms without the side effects of prescription medications would be spectacular news for many current sufferers and could encourage a large number of children, as well as adults, now going untreated to seek relief for their symptoms."

Reference: Progress in Neuro-Psychopharacology & Biological Psychiatry 26: 233-39, 2002.

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Researchers from Scranton University conducted three studies on grapeseed extract's antioxidant activity and potential to reduce the risk of heart disease. Subjects received 200 mg per day or 300 mg per day of grapeseed extract one week apart. In a three-week study with 17 subjects-nine with normal cholesterol and eight with high cholesterol. The high cholesterol group had a 12% decrease in total cholesterol.

Researchers concluded that at a dose of 300 mg per day grapeseed extract provides an increase in antioxidant capacity, and taking the supplement with each meal may provide a significant increase in plasma antioxidants.

Reference: Journal of Medicinal Food 4, 1:17-25, 2001.

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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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