It might start with a persistent cough, a stuffy nose, or a scratchy throat. One moment you're fine and the next, a full-blown cold has taken up residence in your upper respiratory tract.
The majority of respiratory infections are caused by viruses that don't respond to antibiotics. Yet, many doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics despite numerous articles in medical publications that discourage their use.
Other conventional medications include cough suppressants, decongestants that shrink swollen nasal membranes, and antihistamines that dry up mucus. These medications may help decrease symptoms, but they also cause side effects such as drowsiness, anxiety, and elevated blood pressure. These drugs do not assist the immune system in fighting off the virus.
Practitioners of natural medicine suggest that colds are a normal event. All that extra mucus flowing from your nose may simply be a way for the body to periodically cleanse itself. When you take medicine to cover up these symptoms, you interfere with the process. A better approach is to work along with the body's natural defense systems. A number of nutritional and herbal remedies can assist in this task.
Astragalus has been used as a component of traditional Oriental medicine for centuries. Studies conducted in China show it to have immune-boosting and antiviral activity.
Siberian ginseng taken regularly increases energy and improves immune function, thus increasing resistance to infection.
Medicinal mushrooms-shiitake, maitake, and reishi-all contain molecules that activate immune cells to fight off infection.
Echinacea is at the top of the list as the first thing to take for all kinds of infections. Numerous laboratory and clinical studies show that Echinacea activates white blood cells to fight off viruses and bacteria.
Olive leaf extract appears to weaken or even kill a wide variety of bacteria and viruses and stimulates white blood cells to finish the task.
Before the introduction of penicillin, garlic was used to treat infections on the battlefield. Modern research has shown that fresh garlic extract has direct antiviral activity.
Remember, the occasional cold or flu is not a sign of failure but an opportunity to clean house. Natural therapies work gently along with the body rather than just suppressing symptoms.
Reference: Arch Fam Med 1999;8:79-80; Herbalgram 1998;44:33-40.
Detoxifying In A Toxic Environment
Many toxins enter the body through the air, food, water, soaps, and cosmetics, which have all become part of the human environment. It is increasingly difficult for scientists to pin down what illnesses and conditions directly relate to which chemicals.
Detoxification is a natural process that occurs spontaneously and continuously from the action of enzymes in intestines, kidneys, lungs, skin, and liver. Detoxifying enzymes are specialized proteins that convert foreign substances into chemicals that are less dangerous or easier to excrete.
The liver has the highest concentration of detoxifying enzymes in the body and is considered the body's detoxifying center.
When the system is compromised, the body develops an increased sensitivity to toxic insults. A deficiency in zinc, for example, increases the likelihood that people exposed to cancer-promoting chemicals will develop cancer, because zinc deficiency interferes with the proper functioning of the system.
To protect cells from free-radical damage, your body employs a defense system of protective enzymes and antioxidants. Dietary antioxidants include vitamins E, C, and A, beta- and alpha-carotene, bioflavonoids, selenium, manganese, copper, and zinc.
The first nutritional step in supporting detoxification is in making sure to drink several glasses of pure water each day. The second step is supplying the body with an abundance of antioxidants.
The foods richest in antioxidants are red, yellow, and green vegetables, uncooked nuts and seeds, and fish.
Glutathione, a combination of three amino acids, is a powerful antioxidant, serving double duty in the body's defense against environmental toxicity.
Supplementing with vitamin C elevates the level of glutathione in the blood of healthy adults, indicating that vitamin C protects it from destruction.
Milk thistle, a remedy for treating liver problems, contains a bioflavonoid called silymarin. It is so effective for treating liver problems that physicians have used this herb to counteract the affects of poisonous mushrooms-the consumption of which often produces deadly results.
With the right combination of healthy living, nutritional supplements, and herbs, you can increase your body's detoxifying capabilities.
Reference: Am J Clin Nutr 1993;58:103-5.
Pyruvate: A Powerful Athletic Performance Enhancer
Pyruvate is found in a variety of foods, fruits, and vege-tables-most notably red apples (450 mg). Pyruvate is a by-product of carbohydrate metabolism. Although a natural substance, the quantity in food alone cannot supply the amount of pyruvate required to improve athletic performance.
In recent studies, Ronald Stanko, M.D., assessed performance of subjects who consumed pyruvate compared to those who took a placebo. In one study, muscular endurance improved 20% following seven days of supplementation with pyruvate.
A second study found that those who consumed pyruvate reported a 20% decrease in rceived exertion.
According to Stanko, pyruvate seems to facilitate a process known as glucose extraction, in which muscles absorb glucose from circulating blood.
New research also shows that pyruvate plays an important role in reducing the oxidation damage that accompanies intense exercise. The implications are that not only will pyruvate help the body enhance energy production during physical activity, but it might also reduce the cellular damage associated with intense exercise.
Reference: David Prokop and Pax Beale, The Pyruvate Phenomenon, 1999.
Phosphatidylserine Helps Memory
Phosphatidylserine (PS), found in richest concentration in brain cell membranes, facilitates interaction among brain cells, thereby aiding in overall brain function.
The first double-blind trial of PS for Alzheimer's disease was published more than a decade ago. Thirty-five Alzheimer's patients were given either a placebo or 300 mg per day of PS for six weeks. The PS group showed significant improvement after this short-term supplementation period.
More recently, a large double-blind study of 494 elderly patients who showed symptoms of cognitive decline assessed the effects of 300 mg per day of PS, compared to a placebo, for six months. As in the first trial, PS significantly improved memory and learning. In addition, PS had a positive effect on certain emotional and behavioral factors.
In a group of 149 adults who had age-associated memory impairment, three months of taking 300 mg per day of PS daily reversed the decline of memory function. The average age of these adults was 64, and their memory retention scores were that of an average 64-year-old. But after they took PS supplements, average memory function had improved to that of a typical 52-year old-a mental gain of 12 years.
One PS researcher is optimistic about the supplement. "It is not a scientific exaggeration to conclude from the extensive research on PS that it benefits virtually every brain function that can be tested," writes Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D., in his book Phosphatidylserine.
Reference: Thomas H. Crook, The Memory Cure, 1998.
Red Clover For Women And Men
Two thousand years ago, red clover was used in salves to treat boils, swellings, and eye pain. Now clinical herbalists often recommend red clover tincture as part of a total program to treat psoriasis, eczema, acne, boils, and other skin problems.
As a blood cleanser, red clover restores proper body function and generally increases health and vigor. Red clover offers significant protection against free radical damage to the liver and reduces inflammation.
Red clover's reputation as a cancer preventive dates back to 1898. Two recent laboratory studies show that biochanin A from its flowers inhibits a liver enzyme that makes potent carcinogens from environmental chemicals.
Research on humans supports red clover's role as a natural alternative to estrogen replacement therapy for menopausal women. The phytoestrogens called isoflavones in red clover can mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body. Recent studies clearly show that red clover extracts can reduce hot flashes, reduce cholesterol levels, and help preserve bone tissue.
Unlike soy, which has only two isoflavones-genistein and daidzein-red clover contains these two plus two more-biochanin and formononetin.
Recent studies show that the phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein both can inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells. A study of Chinese men showed that men who had higher levels of daidzein in the blood and prostate tissue also had the lowest levels of prostate cancer.
Reference: Proc Soc Exper Biol Med 1998;217:241-6.
HTP Tryptophane Shows Promise For Migraines
A new study on L-5-Hydro--xy-tryp-to-phan (5-HTP) might be of interest to headache sufferers. The aim of the study was to verify whether 5-HTP might be an effective prophylactic treatment for chronic tension headaches without the reactions often associated with drugs.
In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, the majority of patients had tried several prophylactic drugs without success-which has also been the case in other studies.
In the 5-HTP-treated group, the reduction in the frequency and severity of headaches was validated by the significant decrease in the number of tablets of analgesics taken and the subjective opinion of headache relief expressed by the subjects.
The results provide evidence that 5-HTP may be a moderately effective medication in the treatment of chronic tension-type headaches, without the sedation that is a side effect of the more widely used tricyclic antidepressants.
Unlike some of the drugs used for headaches and migraines, the 5-HTP treatment did not induce any change in weight or blood pressure, or in the results of laboratory analyses, or in the ECG findings.
In addition to its efficacy in treating chronic tension-type and migraine headaches, studies reveal that 5-HTP is also indicated for depression, insomnia, addiction, PMS, weight control, and anxiety.
Reference: Portuguese Headache Society, January 2002, Carlos A. Fontes Ribeiro, M.D., Ph.D.
Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center report that grape seed pro-antho--cyanidin extract inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells in the lab while enhancing the growth of normal cells. Dried, powdered grape seed extract was introduced into human breast cancer cells and changes were observed. Following incubation of the breast cancer cells with grape seed extract, cell growth was inhibited by approximately 43%. Introducing more of the extract resulted in a 47% inhibition in cell growth.
Reference: Ye, X., et al. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. 1999; 196:99-108.
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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