In this website topic I have accumulated a mish-mash of different articles that I have come across over the past few years that have impressed me. I have quite a number of Health Alerts by Dr. Al Sears, an MD who practices down in Florida. Also, information about several products that I have found to be very good: full spectrum light-bulbs and virgin coconut oil. Both of these are virtually ignored by the mainstream - to their own detriment, I believe. Plus articles on many other subjects. I think you will find these various articles will increase your knowledge and expand your possibilities as you work on improving your health and that of your loved ones. Enjoy!



The Italian "Secret" To Heart Disease Recovery



Dear Subscriber:


If you’re a regular reader of Health Alerts, you’ve heard me talk a lot about fish oil. It’s one of the most effective ways of preventing a host of chronic diseases – especially heart disease.


But here in the US, the FDA protects big drug makers by making sure that heart attack victims don’t have access to the heart-healthy benefits of fish oil.


In today’s Health Alert, I’ll tell you why. I’ll also reveal some of fish oil’s many benefits – and why you should consider taking it.


* Standard Practice in Italy – Unknown in the US *


In Italy, doctors prescribe fish oil to every patient who survives a heart attack. It’s standard practice. They feel so strongly about it, most would consider it malpractice to omit fish oil from the diet of a recovering heart attack patient.


Yet here in the US, doctors don’t recommend the heart-healthy omega-3s found in fish oil. In fact, the FDA has not approved Omacor – the only prescription fish oil on the market – for use in heart patients. Of course, American cardiologists are only too happy to recommend drugs and other high-profit items – everything from statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) to implantable defibrillators.


Dr. Terry Jacobson – a preventive cardiologist at Emory University in Atlanta – had this to say: “Most cardiologists here are not giving omega-3s [to their patients] even though the data supports it – there’s a real disconnect… They have been very slow to incorporate the therapy.”


Clearly, the FDA is suppressing the use of fish oil to protect big pharma’s monopoly over the drug market. But that’s not surprising, considering that the yearly sale of statins alone exceeds $25 billion.


When pressed, the FDA questions the efficacy of fish oil. This, in spite of the volumes of clinical tests available showing the remarkable healing qualities of omega-3 fatty acids.


* The Evidence is Overwhelming… Fish Oil Protects You from Disease *


Don’t be discouraged by your government’s interest in big corporations. If you’re not currently taking fish oil, you should consider it. It does more than just prevent heart disease. It wipes out joint pain, eases depression and protects your eyes from blindness.


Scores of clinical reports back this up. Here are just a few…


• The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported a study that showed that fish oil lowers triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are fats in your blood linked to heart disease. The participants took a fish oil supplement or a placebo. Those taking the fish oil had a decrease in triglycerides which reduced their chance of heart disease by 25%. The subjects taking the placebo showed no significant reduction.


• Cod Liver Oil helps with depression too. In 1999, The Archives of General Psychiatry published an intriguing study, which proved a link. Depressed patients took a fish oil supplement or a placebo for 4 months. An overwhelming 64% of patients taking the fish oil reported a significant reduction in symptoms. (Fish oil works on depression by introducing omega-3s to brain cells. The higher the level of omega-3s, the easier it is for the chemical messenger serotonin to carry messages from one brain cell to another. This directly affects symptoms of depression.)


• Researchers from the National Eye Institute found that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supports the nerves in the retina. DHA is one of the primary ingredients in Cod liver oil. Over 4,500 people from the ages of 60-80 participated in the National Eye Institutes study. People who supplemented with Cod liver oil were 50% less likely to develop macular degeneration that those who didn’t.


Cod liver oil is simply the easiest, most reliable way to get the omega-3s you need every day. And it costs just pennies a day – literally! It’s available at your local nutrition store or on the Internet.



To Your Good Health,


Al Sears, MD




Beat Allergies with the Right Candles


Health Alert 353



Dear Subscriber:


A few weeks ago, a patient came to me complaining of terrible

allergies. She just happened to mention that she loves candles. When I asked her what kind, she said, "Oh, just regular candles - vanilla and strawberry are my favorites."


In today's Health Alert, you'll find out why your candles may be causing allergies, sinus problems - or worse. You'll also discover which candles actually clear up allergy symptoms. The candles made from this remarkable substance even purify the air and help you get a good night sleep.


* Burning Crude Oil in Your Home *


A nice candle can make a room feel warm and inviting. But for good or bad, that candle releases fumes that you will then breathe. Fumes that can stimulate allergic reactions and increase your risk of health problems in the future.


Gone are the days when candles were made from natural products. Today, paraffin is the ingredient of choice. Sounds innocent enough, but paraffin is actually the sludge found at the bottom of barrels of crude oil.


The oil by-product is then bleached and treated with benzene and other chemicals to make it usable for candles. But burning petrochemicals doesn't smell very nice, so synthetic fragrance oils are added - many of which are toxic on their own.


Paraffin candles put out soot and smoke when you burn them. This fills the room with toxins that coat the walls, furniture and the inside of your lungs. What's worse, the chemical residue sticks to the inside of your ventilation ducts. Whenever you run your air, the pollutants get re-circulated - even when the candles aren't burning.


Bill Reno, an entomologist and writer had this to say, "Breathing the fumes from burning paraffin candles is essentially the same as breathing the exhaust fumes from a diesel engine." (1)


Even the American Lung Association warns that paraffin candles release lead and mercury into the air.(2) One study from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that toxic emissions from paraffin candles exceed their own recommendations.(3)


* Clean the Air and Improve Your Health with Beeswax *


So what can you do? The answer is centuries old: beeswax. Candles made from 100% beeswax burn brighter, longer and have none of the pollutants found in paraffin.


In fact, they actually filter the air you breathe. Like a rainstorm, burning beeswax emits negatively charged ions. These connect with the positively charged ions that carry dust, mold, bacteria, viruses and other contaminants. The extra weight causes the dust and mold to fall to the ground where they can be swept up or vacuumed.


But make sure you get the real thing. To get the benefits, the candle must be 100% beeswax. Many candles labeled "beeswax" are a combination of beeswax and paraffin. When in doubt, your nose will tell you every time. Beeswax has a uniquely fresh smell, which is distinctly different from paraffin.


To Your Good Health,


Al Sears, MD



P.S. - Burning a beeswax candle for thirty minutes before bed will cleanse the air and help you sleep.


1. Alive magazine. No. 218. Dec 2000.


2. American Lung Association. Health House Report. www.alaw.org.


3. Environmental Protection Agency. Candles and Incense as Potential Sources of Indoor Air Pollution. Jan 2001.




The content and information contained in this E-Newsletter are for educational purposes only. It may not be construed as medical advice, and we do not intend for this information to be used to diagnose or prescribe forms of treatment.




This email sent by:

Vitalmax Vitamins


PO Box 2543

Chestertown MD 21620







Subject: Sneaky Soy Surprise

Date: Mon, 6 Jun 2005 15:17:25 -0700 (PDT)


Sneaky Soy Surprise


Health Alert 279


Dear Subscriber:


Not all soy products are created equal. You are better off avoiding some forms altogether.


Many of the soy products you encounter today use non-traditional soy. The soy industry is manufacturing an ever increasing variety of these non-traditional soy products. They are hiding it in places you might not expect. This particular kind of soy can be harmful to your health.


Today, I'll expose these hidden sources, why you want to avoid them and how to select traditional naturally "processed" soy.


* Isn't Soy Straight from Nature? *


Despite the marketing as "natural", soy in its native form is not a food for humans. You cannot eat soy unless it is first processed. If you try eating soy without some sort of processing, you won't like the taste at all. You're likely to get nausea, cramping abdominal pain, bloating, gas and flatulence. And there are other problems.


Soy has mineral inhibitors.

Of all grains and legumes ever studied, soybeans have one of the highest levels of phytic acid.1 You encounter this acid in the hulls of the bean. It blocks the absorption of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc. The form phytic acid in soy is very resistant to phytic acid reducing techniques, such as long, slow



Soy has enzyme inhibitors.

Compounds in soybeans block the action of trypsin and other enzymes that digest protein. Normal cooking does not destroy these "anti-nutrients." This can cause stomach upset and lead to a chronic amino acid deficiency. In animal studies, diets high in trypsin inhibitors increase rates of diseases of the pancreas, including cancer.3


Soy has a clot promoting substance. Soy has hemagglutinin, which causes clustering of red blood cells. This prevents the cells from absorbing oxygen properly. Hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors also act as "growth depressants" in animal studies.


These substances in soy are apparently nature's plan for protecting the soy bean from predation by most animals


* The Right Soy Stuff *


It is alarming that today, 60% of the food in America's supermarkets contain unnaturally processed soy in some form. Some examples are soy flour, textured vegetable protein, partially hydrogenated soy bean oil and soy protein. Unfermented soy plays a very major role in the average American diet without real awareness of the average American eating the stuff. It's in everything from snack foods and fast foods to cereals and prepackaged frozen meals.


Naturally fermenting soy deactivates the harmful substances. This is something Asian cultures have known for centuries. That's why they eat fermented soy-like miso, tempeh and soy sauce. Eating small amounts of tofu with meat will minimize the mineral-blocking effects of phytates. The Japanese traditionally eat a small amount of tofu or miso as part of a mineral-rich fish broth, followed by a small serving of meat or fish.



Fermented soy, like miso and tempeh - which is 90% of the Asian soy diet

- is not popular here in America. Yet soy products are some of the most profitable. So food makers take popular items like ice cream and burgers and turn them into soy ice cream and soy burgers. You should avoid these completely.


The best soy products are miso, tempeh, natto and soy sauce. Begin checking labels of packaged foods for added soy. The best bet for your health, once again, is to choose naturally occurring foods in their natural form as much as possible.


To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, M.D.




The content and information contained in this E-Newsletter are for educational purposes only. It may not be construed as medical advice, and we do not intend for this information to be used to diagnose or prescribe forms of treatment.




1 Rackis, Joseph J, et al., "The USDA trypsin inhibitor study, Background, objectives and procedural details," Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, 1985, vol 35

2 Ologhobo, AD, et al., "Distribution of phosphorus and phytates in some Nigerian varieties of legumes and some effects of processing," Journal of Food Science, Jan/Feb, 1984; 49(1):199-201

3 Rackis, Joseph J, et al., "The USDA trypsin inhibitor study, Background, objectives and procedural details," Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, 1985, vol 35




The Real Salt of the Earth


Health Alert 305



Dear Subscriber:


For years you've heard people telling you that salt is bad for you. "Don't put salt on that - it'll kill you!"


But doesn't salt taste good to you? Why would nature sabotage you and make you crave something that will cause disease?


Today, you'll discover a simple truth about salt you may not know.


* The Benefits of Real Salt *


Let's get one thing straight. Salt itself is not an evil. Salts occur widely in nature, in all body fluids, and of course, in the oceans. It's a general term and natural salts usually have mixtures of many compounds. In fact, natural salt contains vital minerals your body needs. In its original form, salt is a healthy part of your diet.


But the salt you find on your table is anything but natural. Modern salt is processed to the point of being toxic. Commercial salt producers take out all the good minerals and add dozens of harmful chemicals.


You should avoid processed salt. Its concentrated sodium and lack of potassium can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems. These high sodium salts hide in thousands of products that you eat everyday. Even if you don't add salt yourself, many of the foods you eat are swimming in sodium.


Do you think that salad is healthy? Many commercial salad dressings have more sodium in a serving than a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with cheese! 1


Real salt, on the other hand, comes from the earth or ocean, not a factory.

It has health benefits and brings out the flavor of your favorite foods.


* Turn the Tables on Table Salt *


How do you avoid too much sodium? As always, simply avoid processed foods.

Don't eat anything that is canned, frozen or sealed in a bag. Aside from sodium, they are full of other chemicals, the wrong carbs and the wrong fats.


Switching to "sea salt" is easy to do. You can find it in most grocery stores and nutrition stores. It's much better than table salt because it has a mixture of sodium and potassium with traces of other minerals.


You can also balance the effects of processed sodium, by eating foods rich in potassium. This can be therapy for your heart and it will help lower high blood pressure.


The table below is a list of the high potassium foods I give to my patients.



The Best Sources for Potassium


(Potassium in Milligrams)



Avocados (One whole)



Figs (dried, 5 pieces)




Raisins (1/2 cup)



Apricots (1/2 cup)



Cantaloupes (1/2 melon)



Orange Juice (1 cup)



Watermelon (2 cups)



Grapes (1 cup)



Banana (1 whole)



Grapefruit juice (1 cup)




Seafood, Beef & Poultry



Clams (10 steamed)



Halibut (3 oz. cooked)



Snapper (4 oz. baked)



Tuna canned (2 oz.)




Salon (3 oz. cooked)



Flounder (3 oz. cooked)



Chicken (3 oz. cooked)



Beef (3 oz. cooked)




Vegetables (1/2 cup cooked)



Swiss Chard



Acorn squash



Brussels sprouts









Collard greens



Nuts (1/2 cup)









Brazil nuts
















Milk (1 cup)



Lima beans (1/2 cup)



Lentils (1/2 cup)



Pinto beans (1/2 cup)



Pumpkin seeds (1/2 cup)



Wheat germ (2 Tbs.)




Potassium helps neutralize the effect of sodium on blood pressure. It also lowers your risk for stroke and heart attack. In addition, it prevents the bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis.


Potassium is essential to good health. Unfortunately, you don't get enough from your diet. On an average day, the typical man gets about 3,000 mg - women closer to 2,300 mg.


For optimum health, I recommend food averaging 5,000 mg a day.




To Your Good Health,


Al Sears, M.D.




1 Liebman B. Pressure cooker, the scoop on salt. Nutrition Action.

July/August 2005.








Date: Thu, 7 Jul 2005 04:14:45 -0700 (PDT)


If You Need Better Cholesterol .


Health Alert 287


Dear Subscriber:


Do you worry about high cholesterol? Patients often come to me after

another doctor put them on a dangerous statin drug to lower their

cholesterol. When I look at their cholesterol details, I usually tell

them they don't need to lower their cholesterol in the first place. For

those few who do need to lower their cholesterol, the drugs are not

necessary and the risks are far too high.


Today I want to show you a better way and a clinical study to prove it.

You'll save yourself the risk of side effects, save your hard-earned

dollars and improve your overall health in the process.


* Studies Show How to Trump a Statin Drug *


Statin drugs to lower cholesterol have become both the most profitable

and the most prescribed drugs in history. They are also some of the

most burdensome for your long-term health. As well as having a long

list of potentially fatal side effects, they make you feel tired, sore and old.


Happily, you don't have to take them. Three studies prove that

nutrients work just as well as the statin drug Lovastatin.


Our first study is from the Journal of the American Medical

Association, (JAMA). It compared the cholesterol lowering effects of a

low-fat diet, the statin drug Lovastatin and foods high in plant sterols and fiber.


The low-fat participants lowered their cholesterol by only 8%. The

statin drug users lowered their cholesterol by 30%. It's no surprise

that the drug beats a low-fat diet but before you agree to take a

statin, listen to this.


The participants who ate the diet high in plant sterols and fiber

lowered their cholesterol by 29%![1] This is statistically hard to

distinguish from the statin drug. This makes your choice a no-brainer.

Why risk muscle and joint pain, fatigue, memory loss or even death,

when you can choose a healthy diet to lower your cholesterol?


Another study from the University of Toronto found statins lowered

cholesterol by 33%. Healthier food choices got very close-lowering

cholesterol by nearly 30%.[2] Again, the choice is clear. A third

study found that diet lowered cholesterol by 30%. This study found

that diet not only lowered cholesterol, but lowered the risk of heart

disease as well.[3]


* Lower Your Cholesterol - Today! *


You don't need dangerous statin drugs to lower your cholesterol. So

how do you get the diet high in plant sterols? All you need are the

foods you were born to eat. It really is that simple.


Here are foods that both the studies and I have found could help you

lower your cholesterol. These foods will help you raise your HDL (good)

cholesterol while lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol.


* Avocados

* Olives

* Olive Oil

* Almonds

* Walnuts

* Flaxseed

* Eggplant

* Okra


Forget dangerous statin drugs. You don't need them! Lower your

cholesterol and improve your heart health with these natural foods you

were born to love. What could be better?

To Your Good Health,


Al Sears, M.D.


[1] Jenkins D, et al., "Effects of a dietary portfolio of

cholesterol-lowering foods vs. Lovastatin on serum lipids and

c-reactive protein," JAMA, 2003;290:502-10


[2] Jenkins D, Kendall C, et al., "Direct comparison of a dietary

portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with a statin in

hypercholesterolemic participants," American Journal of Clinical

Nutrition, Feb 2005;81(2):380-87


[3] Kendall C, Jenkins D, "A dietary portfolio: maximal reduction of

low-density lipoprotein cholesterol with diet," Curr Atherosclerosis

Rep, Nov 2004;6(6):492-8




Beat Cancer with Sunshine



Dear Subscriber:


Last Monday, I came into the office after working a weekend in my herb garden with a new tan line. It wasn't long until I heard the scold: "Dr.

Sears, you should know better than to spend time in the sun!"


It seems to be common knowledge that sunshine causes cancer. But like too much dietary fat causing heart disease, I can't find convincing evidence. In fact, exposure to sunshine actually helps prevent many forms of cancer.


In today's Health Alert, I'll show you some eye-opening studies that reveal the health benefits of sunshine. In addition, you'll find out why sunscreen may do more harm than good.


* Let the Sun Shine In *


Here in Florida, we get an abundance of sun all year round. Yet, modern health dogma tells us to avoid the sun. I always grow suspect when modern theory seems to contradict our instincts.


For thousands of years, we knew the sun was good for us. Now there is scientific evidence to back it up.


Researchers in Sweden found that people who get lots of sun are less likely to develop lymphoma than those who stay indoors. Exposure to the sun lowers your risk by thirty to forty percent. (1) (Lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects the immune system.)


Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. But at the University of New Mexico, they discovered that people with melanoma were less likely to die from the disease if they had lots of exposure to the sun. (2)


In fact, sunlight can help prevent many forms of cancer and disease.

These include breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis.


Vitamin D slows and even prevents the growth of cancer cells. One of the most natural ways to get vitamin D is from the sun. When ultraviolet B rays interact with your body's cholesterol, you form vitamin D.


* Common Sense is Your Key to Enjoying the Benefits of Sunshine *


There's no reason to be afraid of the sun. Just don't overdo it. If you use common sense, you can enjoy the sun with all its benefits without danger. Taking a ten to fifteen minute walk in the sun every day could cut your risk for many cancers.


To avoid getting burned, wear a wide-brim hat in mid-day. Sunscreens block ultraviolet B rays, which help make vitamin D. They will lower your vitamin D production by as much as ninety-five percent.


Sunscreens also contain dozens of toxic ingredients. It's anyone's guess what the long-term effects will be. It may take several generations before we really know. I recommend you stay away from them altogether.


Your diet is also important when it comes to skin care and cancer prevention. In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences published a study showing that the omega 6:3 ratio was the key to preventing skin cancer development. (3)


You can get a healthy dose of both vitamin D and omega-3 by supplementing with fish oil.


To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD





[1] Swedish Research Council. Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure and Risk of Malignant Lymphomas. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Feb 2005.


[2] American Cancer Society. Sunlight May Not Be All Bad for Some Cancers. ACS News Center. Feb 2005.

[3] Liu G, et al. Omega 3 but not omega 6 fatty acids inhibit AP-1 activity and cell transformation in JB6 cells. National Academy of Sciences. 2001.


From: "Dr. Sears" <drsears@vitalmaxvitamins.com>

To: lenhartw@hotmail.com

Subject: Don't Follow Ken Lay

Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2006 08:07:22 -0700 (PDT)


Don’t Follow Ken Lay

Health Alert 398


Dear Subscriber:


About a month ago, Ken Lay, founder of corporate giant Enron, died suddenly of a heart attack. Today, I want to tell you how he could still be alive and how you can avoid his fate.


* Looking for Health in All the Wrong Places *


When Ken Lay died of a sudden heart attack, the press initially blamed the “stress” of his trial and conviction. Then his doctor revealed that he had a long history of heart disease. And, the coroner who did the autopsy concluded that he died of severe coronary-artery disease or “clogged arteries.”


Before his death, Ken Lay had been taking statin drugs to lower his cholesterol for years In fact; he suffered several heart attacks before the one that killed him. (1)


As I’ve mentioned in previous Health Alerts, statin drugs work by blocking your body’s production of cholesterol. This lowers your total and your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. But to avoid heart disease and reverse Current damage, HDL (“good”) cholesterol is the key.


HDL can reduce your risk of heart disease regardless of your LDL


The Framingham study (the most reliable and unbiased source of data for heart risk) shows that if your HDL is high enough, your LDL will have no impact on your heart health. In fact, if your HDL is above 85, you are at no greater risk of heart disease if your total cholesterol is 350 than if it’s 150.


Your total cholesterol level is not a reliable predictor of heart disease.

A high HDL level trumps all other cholesterol concerns. Raising your HDL level should be your first priority.


* Four Easy Ways to Increase Your HDL *


Exercise is the best way to balance your cholesterol levels. The largest independent heart study confirms this.(3) Doing short bursts of exercise daily helps you lower LDL cholesterol, increase testosterone and raise HDL cholesterol. The PACE® program outlined in my book, The Doctor’s Heart Cure, is a simple and easy way to do this.


Your diet is also important, but not a low fat diet. I mean eating whole, unrefined foods and avoiding refined carbohydrates. Good choices include grass-fed red meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables that grow above ground, and all nuts except peanuts.(4)


Although eating meat will not boost your cholesterol levels, a recent study proved that eating meat helps reduce LDL and raise HDL levels. It didn't matter what kind of meat. The Journal of Nutrition published a study showing that high-protein diets boost antioxidant levels. Low-protein diets increase the oxidative effects of free radicals.


Here are four natural ways to increase your HDL and avoid drugs:


1. Exercise in intervals for 20 minutes every other day.

2. Eliminate trans fats from your diet. Cut out breaded/fried foods like French fries and deli chicken, commercially baked crackers and cookies and anything with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

3. Increase your omega-3 fatty acids with fish oils, avocados, nuts, olives and eggs.

4. Add fresh garlic to your cooking as often as possible.


To Your Good Health,

Al Sears MD


1. Gardner A. Enron Founder’s Death Linked to Heart Disease. HealthDay News. Jul 6, 2006.

2. Castiglioni A and Neuman WR. HDL Cholesterol: What Is Its True Clinical Significance? Emergency Medicine, January 2003:30-42.

3. The Framingham Heart Study

4. Sears, A. Dr.; The Doctor’s Heart Cure, Dragon Door Publications:

Minnesota, 2004




Trans Fats Hiding in Your Favorite Foods Health Alert 400


Dear Subscriber:


This year all packaged foods began listing trans-fat content on their labels. This is an important step forward. Avoiding this fat of modern food processing is critical to your good health.


In today’s Health Alert, I’ll tell you how you could still be consuming these harmful fats without knowing and how to avoid their health consequences.


* What is Trans-Fat Anyway? *


Trans-fat is the result of “hydrogenation.” When a hydrogen molecule is added to vegetable oils, it turns them to fatty solids. These fatty solids replace animal fats, allowing food makers to label their products “cholesterol free.”


Industry took away many of the good fats we need – and said they were bad.

As a substitute, they gave us man-made fats, which turned out to be dangerous.


Here’s Where to Look for Trans-Fat:

Most Hardened Margarines and Shortenings

Salad Dressing and Mayonnaise

Biscuits, Rolls, Breads, Cakes, Cookies, Crackers and Doughnuts

Corn Snacks and Chips

French Fries, Fried Chicken or Fish

Fried Fast Foods, even those fried in commercial “vegetable oils”


After years of widespread use, numerous studies link trans-fats to heart attacks, strokes and cancer to name just a few of their many problems. They have proven to increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol. What's worse, they decrease your HDL (good) cholesterol. They also cause inflammation and rob your brain and heart of the real fats you need.


Ironically, doctors recommended these “low-fat” products for years, thinking they were helping their patients. Dr. Walter Willett, Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health had this to



“There was a lot of resistance from the scientific community because a lot of people had made their careers telling people to eat margarine [containing trans-fats] instead of butter... When I was a physician in the 1980's, that's what I was telling people to do and unfortunately we were often sending them to their graves prematurely.”


* The Real Problem with Fast Food *


Your intake of trans-fats should be, “as low as possible.” Zero is best.

Here’s how some of your favorites stack up:


America’s Most Wanted:” Trans Fat

Taco Bell Regular Beef Taco 1.00g

Doritos Corn Chips (12 chips) 1.09g

Kellogg’s Blueberry Eggo Waffle 2.11g

Wendy’s Classic Double with Cheese 2.50g

Blue Water Frozen Fish Fillet 2.59g

McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese 3.00g

Mrs. Smith’s Apple Pie 4.00g

McDonald’s Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips (5pc.) 4.50g

Doughnut 5.00g

Orville Redenbacher Buttered Popcorn (4 cups) 5.72g

McDonald’s Large French Fries 6.00g

KFC Original Recipe Chicken Dinner 7.00g

McDonald’s Deluxe Breakfast 11.00g


Notice how fast foods are some of the worst offenders? Even breakfast at McDonald’s is loaded with trans fats. Fish and chicken aren’t bad on their own but turn into unhealthy foods when they are fried in hydrogenated vegetable oils.


You can also minimize the effects of trans-fat by making sure you get enough of the good fats your body needs.


Here’s a quick-and-easy checklist:


Grass-fed Beef



Olive Oil



Cod Liver Oil


To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD


1. Hwang, G, MD, Lee, D, MD, "Trans-fat: The latest and worst fat on the block," Continuing Medical Education, Vol 27, No 2, Feb, 2005:49-54 3. The New York Times. Feb 13, 2005. p. 23.




Sent: Thursday, August 17, 2006 3:18 PM

Subject: Leave Your Sunscreen At Home


Leave Your Sunscreen at Home

Health Alert 402


Dear Subscriber:


A class-action lawsuit is pending against five of the leading makers of sunscreen. They claim these companies encourage sunbathing without providing protection from ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. (Right idea, wrong reason…)


On the other hand, you have the medical establishment telling you that even the smallest amount of sun exposure is bad for you. (One of the most ridiculous arguments I’ve ever heard…)


In today’s Health Alert, I’ll show you why their “fear of the sun” campaign is misleading. And to help you enjoy my favorite season, I’ll show you some supplements that give you the protection you really need.


* The Sun in Not Your Enemy *


Dermatologists and others in the “sun police” have succeeded in scaring people into being afraid of the sun. But since we’ve been avoiding the sun over the last 30 years, the death rate from skin cancer has risen 400%.


In fact, skin cancer was a rare event before 1930, when most people worked outdoors and ignored the “risk” from the sun. Now it’s the most common cancer. And since our grandparent’s generation, the rate of melanoma – the deadly form of skin cancer – is up 1,800%.(1)


Is the sun really responsible? Think about it. The sun is 5 billion years old. It hasn’t changed in recent times. And, our exposure has dramatically decreased over the last 7 decades. So what gives? The real answer lies with other changes in our lifestyles, including our diets. Let me clarify…


There are three kinds of skin cancer: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma. Cumulative sun exposure is linked to BCC and SCC. But with early detection, these are rarely fatal. Melanoma is the deadly form and actually has an inverse relationship to sunshine.


If sunshine were deadly, people who live in sunny climates would suffer the most deaths from skin cancer. But the opposite is true. Those who live in cold, damp climates with little sunshine – like London or Minnesota – have higher rates than those who live in sun-drenched areas like Arizona, New Mexico and Florida.(2)


And today, just 10 percent of people work outdoors – compared with 75 percent a hundred years ago. So what accounts for the sudden rise? My

answer: we are exposing ourselves to new carcinogens, eating foods that promote skin cancer, and not getting enough of the antioxidants and nutrients that prevent it.


* Enjoy the Sun and Protect Yourself Naturally *


First, some common sense: Avoid sunburn. It hurts and damages your skin. Second, stop using chemical-based sunscreens – like the ones you get at the drugstore. The chemicals can actually be carcinogenic. If you like, you can find sunscreens available on the Internet that are natural and chemical free, but a hat and shirt are probably better.


Most importantly, it’s critical that you boost your body’s natural defenses. Here are my favorite supplements to help:


Cod Liver Oil – The lack of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet is one of the primary factors contributing to the rise of skin cancer. Grains, sugars and processed foods – even commercial beef are full of Omega-6 fatty acids. Not only are these inflammatory, but they prevent your skin from fighting the sun’s UV rays.


A tablespoon of cod liver oil a day will replenish your Omega-3 levels and keep your skin looking young and fresh. It will also give you a boost of vitamin D in its most natural form.


Astaxanthin is a carotenoid found in shrimp, lobsters, salmon, trout and algae. It gives them their red/pinkish color. (Carotenoids are nutrients that protect plants and animals from UV radiation.)


Astaxanthin is hundreds of times more powerful than most carotenoids and multiplies the effects of vitamin C and E, increasing their antioxidant activity.(3) This is one of the best supplements to prevent skin cancer. During periods of prolonged exposure, you can’t beat it. It’s available as a capsule. I recommend 2mg a day with meals.


Alpha-Lipoic Acid – ALA is a powerful antioxidant that works at all levels – including your skin. Not only does it protect skin cells from free radicals, it protects their mitochondria (the power plant of every cell) and pumps up your cancer defense mechanisms.


It also preserves collagen and prevents the damage associated with aging skin, making your skin more youthful and vibrant. I recommend 200mg to 400mg daily.


To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD


1. Herring J, Ellison S. The Skin Cancer Breakthrough. Soon to be published by Agora Publishing.

2. Douglass W. Shedding Light on Dermatologist Propaganda. Real Health Breakthroughs. April 2006 3. www.astaxanthin.org/benefits.htm



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Bursting the Next Wonder Drug Myth

Health Alert 409


Dear Subscriber:


You’ve seen the commercials telling you to get your cholesterol lower and lower. But these drugs containing statins like Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, Pravachol and Vytorin have a dark side. And new evidence shows their benefits are questionable.


In today’s Health Alert, I’ll share some of the latest studies showing that statins have little to no benefit to your heart health. And, if you’re currently taking statins, I’ll tell you the nutrient you need to take to reverse some of the damage caused by these drugs.


* Clinical Trails Debunk Big Pharma’s “Wonder Drug” *


If you believe the ads, you’d think that you need statins to save yourself from heart attack or heart disease. But the clinical evidence tells a different story. A recent study followed 10,000 people with high LDL (bad) cholesterol for 4 years. Researchers compared those who used statin drugs to those who exercised and maintained a healthy body weight.


At the end of the trial, there was no difference between the two groups. Both experienced the same rates of death, heart attack and heart disease.1 Even if statin drugs were harmless, it would be hard to justify using them since they show no benefit over even poorly controlled diet and exercise programs.


But the truth is far worse because statins have very negative effects. Side effects include muscle pain, fatigue, congestive heart failure, depression, memory problems, loss of sexual desire and death from muscle cells bursting, causing kidney failure.


Another recent trial exposed the risks of having artificially lowered cholesterol – something the ads suggest is good for you.


The Honolulu Heart Program study revealed that the low cholesterol that statins produce is associated with mortality. This particular study is rare because it measured cholesterol levels over a 20 year period. Their results showed that those who maintained the lowest cholesterol for 20 years – from middle age into old age – had the highest risk of death.(1)


L.W. recently came to my office as a new patient complaining of muscle weakness so bad he could barely get out of bed. He had been taking statins for several months. In addition to stopping his Lipitor, to help him recover, I gave him 200mg of CoQ10 twice a day.


The ads won’t tell you this, but statins deplete your body’s supply of CoQ10. This nutrient is the power source for your energy guzzling organs. It’s critical for heart and brain health, and for energy and strength. Without it, you feel weak and old.


Within days, L.W.’s muscle pain disappeared, his strength returned and his blood pressure was back to normal. Even better, his HDL (good cholesterol) was up.



* The Nutrient You Need for a Healthy Heart *


I’ve been telling anyone who will listen for years that CoQ10 is critical for heart health. Now recent reports from hospitals around the country show that up to 75% of heart disease patients have low levels of CoQ10.(2) And, there are more benefits coming to light:


Longer Life: Experiments with mice show that supplementing with

CoQ10 increased their lifespan by up to 56%. (3)

Cancer Treatment: Two dramatic studies of women with breast

cancer proved that daily treatment of CoQ10 helped reverse their condition. (4)

CoQ10 is a remarkable antioxidant. Multiple studies show that its

ability to fight free radicals is second to none.

Gum Disease: Patients receiving 25mg of CoQ10, twice a day showed

significant reversal of gum disease.(5)


If you have no health problems, I suggest you supplement with 100 mg a day. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, gingivitis, age related memory loss, chronic fatigue or are a vegetarian, increase your dose to 200 mg per day.


If you’re currently taking statins, consider supplementing with even more robust doses of CoQ10. It’s best to have it measured in your blood. And ask a sympathetic doctor to help you.


CoQ10 is available at most nutrition stores but you may have to do some searching to find the adequate therapeutic doses I recommend. Coenzyme Q10 is soluble in oil only. Don’t waste your money on powdered forms. You should eat some kind of fat or oil when you take your CoQ10 and you will absorb more of it into your blood where you need it.


To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD


1. Fallon S. Enig M. Dangers of Statin Drugs. HealthKeepers Magazine. Vol. 8, Issue 2. 2006 2. Folkers K, Wolaniuk J, Simonsen R, et al. Biochemical rationale and the cardiac response of patients with muscle disease to therapy with coenzyme Q10. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

1985 Jul; 82(13):4513-4516.

3. Bliznakov, E.G. Coenzyme Q10, the immune system, and aging, in:

Biomedical and Clinical Aspects of Coenzyme Q, Vol. 3, By K.

Folkers, and Y. Yamamura, (eds), Elsevier-North Holland, Amsterdam, 1981.

4. Lockwood, K., Moesgaard, S., and Folkers, K. Partial and complete regression of breast cancer in patients in relation to dosage of CoQ10. Biochem Biophys Res Comm 1994, 199: 3, 1504-1508.

5. Wilkinson, E.G. et al, Bioenergetics in clinical medicine VI.

Adjunctive treatment of periodontal disease with CoQ10. Res Comm Chem Pathol Pharmacol Aug. 1976; 14(4): 715-719.




This is a great website for a variety of information on health topics, and also a good place to buy coconut oil and natural light bulbs. But be aware that Dr. Mercola is fallible, just like the rest of us, and in my opinion, strays from good science now and again. So always get information on any topic from several sources;, in other words, do some research on any subject, don’t just take one person’s word for it.


The coconut oil discussed below is a great product. My family and I have been using it for about a year and a half, and love it. We buy it by the gallon container, usually getting 2 at a time, as it keeps for several years at room temperature. We use it just as we would use butter. It is very healthful and tasty. Read below to learn more about the health benefits of unrefined coconut oil.


Experience the Incredible Health & Weight Loss Benefits of the Premier Coconut Oil






After unjustly getting lumped in the "no-fat" craze of past decades, coconut oil is now starting to get the respect it deserves as not only the healthiest oil you can consume, even superior to olive oil which contains trans-fat, but as one of the most nutritious of all foods.

Coconut oil's benefits have been covered extensively on Mercola.com, but now it's benefits are finally reaching the mainstream. For example, the May 20, 2003 edition of Women's World, a very popular and wide-reaching magazine, called coconut oil a "miracle food" and particularly touted its ability help the body burn unwanted fat, triple your energy, and greatly help those with thyroid problems.

You should be absolutely certain, however, of the quality and effectiveness of whatever coconut oil brand you choose. There is a very wide variance in terms of the types of coconuts, the manufacturing processes used to make the oil, and more, which will have a major impact on the healthiness and effectiveness your coconut oil.

Because there is so much uncertainty, my team and I here researched coconut oil extensively until we found the ideal source. I now highly recommend and offer you what is clearly the premier brand of virgin coconut oil in the U.S., Tropical Traditions.

What Makes Our Coconut Oil Superior to Other Brands?

(Note: Dr. Mercola no longer carries Tropical Traditions brand of virgin coconut oil – he now carries Fresh Shores brand, which is just as good, maybe better. My family has been using his coconut oil for several years, and it is excellent. Stores at room temperature, and keeps for years.)

The Tropical Traditions virgin coconut oil I highly recommend and offer to you meets all of the requirements in the chart below. Meeting such high standards is no small feat, but you should not settle for anything less if you want to experience all of the health benefits of coconut oil without exposing yourself to unnecessary health risks. (If you are considering another brand, I urge you to make sure it meets the requirements below.)

Requirements for Healthy and Safe Coconut Oil









Certified organic, USDA standards


No refining


No chemicals added


No bleaching


No deodorization


No hydrogenation




Coconuts from traditional palms only -- no hybrid varieties


From fresh coconuts, not the dried "copra" used in most coconut oils


Low-level heated only -- does not damage nutrients


The superiority of the Tropical Traditions virgin coconut oil I now offer you does not stop there, though. The fresh coconuts used to make the oil (not "copra" or dried coconuts like most oils) come from a rural region of the Philippines untainted by urban pollution. Philippine coconuts are considered the best in the world, in large part due to the fact that the Philippine Islands are made up of volcanoes that brought nutrient-rich soil beneath the sea up to form the islands.

Tropical Traditions closely inspects the groves and coconuts to ensure the highest quality, and oversees the entire process, from growing to final packaging. Unlike other coconut oils, in other words, there are no middlemen with potentially lower standards involved in the process.

What's more, small families, not corporate conglomerates, grow the coconuts. Tropical Traditions works through local churches in the rural areas to organize communities for the production of the coconuts and oil, therefore providing a livelihood for these farmers.



















What this means for you is a virgin coconut oil of unsurpassed quality, not mass processed like most others but created using traditional methods. And because this coconut oil is made from fresh coconuts within 24 hours of harvesting, there are no dangers of mycotoxins or afflatoxins that can form in coconut oils made from "copra" coconuts. Overall, this superior quality makes a huge difference, not only in terms of health and safety, but also in terms of taste, cooking quality, and other tangible results.


Saturated Fat Can Be Good For You

During the "no-fat" craze of the past decades, all saturated fats were marked as bad, as something to be avoided. Knowledge was already in place to the contrary, but as often happens, perceptions -- pushed by industries like the corn oil companies who profited immensely from doing so -- overshadowed science. And coconut oil, far more nutritious and beneficial than corn, peanut, soy, safflower and the other oils out there, nonetheless got tossed into the "no saturated fat" overgeneralizations and lunacy.

What you didn't hear is that some saturated fats A) are necessary to human health; B) are not the primary perpetrator of weight gain (grains and sugars are, as you'll read in my Total Health Program; and C) come in three classes, of which the medium-chain can actually help you lose weight and increase metabolism.

Coconut oil's saturated fat is of the medium-chain fatty acid variety. These MCFAs are digested more easily and utilized differently by the body than other fats. In short, whereas other fats are stored in the body's cells, the MCFAs in coconut oil are sent directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy. So when you eat coconut oil, the body uses it immediately to make energy rather than store it as body fat. Because this quick and easy absorption puts less strain on your pancreas, liver and digestive system, coconut oil "heats up" the metabolic system and is outstanding for those with thyroid problems.

The lauric acid in coconut oil is used by the body to make the same disease-fighting fatty acid derivative monolaurin that babies make from the lauric acid they get from their mothers milk. Mary Enig, an internationally respected expert on fats and lipid biochemistry, and author of the "fat information bible" Know Your Fats, provides excellent detail on the benefits of lauric acid in her article, "A New Look at Coconut Oil."

Finally, coconut oil contains no dangerous trans-fats, which are found in vegetable oils (including olive oil), margarine, shortening and more. Trans-fats can raise LDLs or "bad" cholesterol levels and lead to clogged arteries, heart disease, type-II diabetes and more, and should be avoided.

The Many Uses of Coconut Oil -- Cooking & Eating, Skincare, Massage and More


CoconutsTo capture all of the benefits of coconut oil while avoiding the risks, I strongly advise you to consider the Tropical Traditions brand I offer here or another brand that meets all of the requirements defined in the chart above. Uses for this virgin coconut oil with both a pleasant scent and taste include:

  • In place of other oils, margarine, butter, shortening, etc. for all cooking needs, as it is a stable cooking oil
  • As an ingredient when juicing or making smoothies
  • It smells and tastes so pleasant and has such excellent nutritional properties that some also consume it straight, by the tablespoon, and use it in place of other oils on their salads
  • An excellent massage oil
  • As a skin lotion for healthier, younger skin, as explained below

For skincare, using the Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil I am offering as you would any lotion is ideal. It prevents destructive free-radical formation and provides protection against them. It can help to keep the skin from developing liver spots, and other blemishes caused by aging and over exposure to sunlight. It helps to prevent sagging and wrinkling by keeping connective tissues strong and supple. In some cases it might even restore damaged or diseased skin. The oil is absorbed into the skin and into the cell structure of the connective tissues, limiting the damage excessive sun exposure can cause.

Coconut oil will not only bring temporary relief to the skin, but it will aid in healing and repairing. It will have lasting benefits, unlike most lotions. It can help bring back a youthful appearance. The coconut oil will aid in removing the outer layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smoother. The skin will become more evenly textured with a healthy "shine". And the coconut oil will penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and strengthen the underlying tissues.

The Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil is available on Mercola.com in both pint (16 ounces) and quart (32 ounces) size glass containers, and one gallon (128 ounces) tubs. At one tablespoon per serving, the pint size = 32 servings while the quart size = 64 servings, and the gallon size = a whopping 256 servings!

To obtain all of coconut oils health and weight loss benefits, 3 to 3.5 tablespoons per day are recommended for adults.

This coconut oil does not have to be refrigerated, and has a shelf life of two years or more -- the longest of any oil. Storing it out of sunlight is recommended.

This certified organic Virgin Coconut Oil -- with no chemicals or bleach added, from fresh and non-hybrid, non-GMO coconuts grown in some of the most nutrient-rich and clean soil on earth -- costs $18.00 per pint, just $25.00 per quart, and $66.50 per gallon.




Below is another great product that I used to buy from Mercola.com. (but now I get it from www.fullspectrumsolutions.com – better bulbs, better prices). It’s a very natural-spectrum light bulb. It really can make a difference in one’s mood in the darker months of winter. We replaced nearly all the lights in our house this past Fall (2005), and not only does it save electricity, but it makes the house looks so much brighter and more pleasant. When I go into the one area of our basement where we still have the old standard light bulb in use, I always stunned as to how yellow and dim the lighting is – almost like going into a cave, or into a room lit by firelight.


I know that the charts, pictures and prices didn’t come out when I tried to copy them to this website. Just go to Mercola.com to see them. Bulbs cost about $100 for 6 (but as I said above, I now buy them elsewhere, but Mercola does a good job of describing why full spectrum bulbs are so good).



"Finally, A Quick Solution to Upgrading Your Health & Productivity That's As Easy As Screwing In A (Full Spectrum) Light Bulb"



Yes, it may sound crazy, but it's true.

Of the basic ingredients to good health -- nutritious food, clean water, proper exercise and adequate sunlight -- only sunlight has what I would call a "quick fix" that you will want to take advantage of ... right now.

And it really is as easy as screwing in a full spectrum light bulb, because that's exactly ALL you have to do ...

If you've been around Mercola.com for any length of time, you know I promote the healing benefits of sunlight. In fact, you may recall that light is actually a life-supporting "nutrient".

In moderation, sunlight improves immunity, prevents disease, increases intelligence, stimulates our metabolism, and boosts our energy levels.

Specifically, the full spectrum of the sun's light rays has been shown in medical and scientific studies to:

·         Prevent cancer (recent clinical studies have shown that sunlight actually lowers your risk of colon, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer).

·         Positively influence your risk of getting sick (there is a preponderance of evidence suggesting that decreased sun exposure is closely related to your risk of acquiring the flu, a common occurrence during the winter).

·         Promote healthy levels of vitamin D, essential not only for bone health, but for reducing the risk of developing disorders such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and autoimmune disease.

·         Lower your blood pressure (in fact, the farther from the equator you live, the higher your blood pressure).

·         Even help babies sleep better at night (this is great news for you parents out there).

The problem is that getting adequate sunlight isn't easy these days. Most of us suffer from "sunlight starvation." We all need about one hour of unfiltered sunshine each day. Unfortunately, the majority of us don't even come close to receiving that amount.

In the first place, we spend too much of our days indoors, with poor incandescent or fluorescent lighting, sometimes even without windows. And windows themselves (even our eyeglasses) block some of the 1500 wavelengths present in sunshine from reaching our retinas and nourishing our brain and body.

Furthermore, our children and grandchildren spend their days in unhealthy, dully-lit classrooms.


Moreover, sunlight-blocking air pollution and haze permeate most metropolitan areas ... all year long.

And many of us live in climates with winter weather that robs us of essential sunlight. Gloomy days, clouds, rain and snow all obstruct the sun's healing rays and dampen our mood (exactly the time when full spectrum lighting is so essential).

And to add to all this, many of us have been brainwashed by prevailing medical "wisdom" into fearing (and avoiding) the sun. Slathering on toxic sunscreen. Wearing sunglasses whenever we're outside. Worrying about deadly melanomas, a skin cancer wrongly blamed on sun exposure.

Finally, there is a quick and easy solution to compensate for "sunlight starvation" -- full spectrum lighting for your home and workplace. With Mercola.com's exclusive Way Healthier full spectrum lights, you can now achieve all the health benefits of natural balanced sunlight -- INDOORS!

You know I am fond of any natural therapies that are simple, inexpensive, and address the underlying causes of disease. Well, it's hard to get more basic than sunshine. And light itself, including both the sun's rays and genuine full spectrum lighting, is the most natural element that I know of.

Sunlight's Long Legacy of Healing

You may find it interesting to know that sunlight has an ancient legacy of healing. Prehistoric tribes and entire civilizations revered and worshipped the sun for its healing properties. Using light to treat medical conditions (both physical and mental) came to be known as heliotherapy -- thousands of years ago. This was the precursor to the therapeutic use of full spectrum lights.

In fact, both Hippocrates and Pythagoras wrote about the many benefits of sunlight to promote healing. One Greek city, Heliopolis, was well-known for its temples of healing sunlight.

Herodotus, the "father of heliotherapy", wrote that exposure to the sun is necessary to help people overcome failing health. In winter, spring and autumn, Herodotus recommended that the patient should permit the rays of the sun to strike full upon him; in summer, this method should be used moderately because of excessive heat.

Surprisingly perhaps, this isn't so different from what I and other holistic medical practitioners recommend now -- thousands of years later. Only now, we have the option of supplementing natural sunshine indoors with pure full spectrum lighting.

Since adequate natural sunlight has become a precious commodity these days, I was overjoyed when my team managed to locate a source of hard-to-find, high-quality full spectrum lights from a major bulb manufacturer ... bulbs that we are now able to offer exclusively to readers of Mercola.com.

And even better: now we can offer you these full spectrum light bulbs affordably. But you must act quickly, as we project that our shipment will run out rapidly, just like it did last year ...

By the way -- I have personally used full spectrum lighting for six years now and can honestly say that they have provided an enormous boost in my ability to tolerate the miserable cold and dark winter months where I live (near Chicago).

In fact, I have my entire home lit with these full spectrum light bulbs. During the cold winter months when lights are on during much of the "day", my home is the only one in the neighborhood that glows with bright, blue-white light -- not the sickeningly drab yellow light that comes from incandescent bulbs ...

So why all this fuss over light bulbs anyway, and what the heck is full spectrum lighting anyway? You'll understand after reading about all the amazing benefits you will get from these one-of-a-kind full spectrum lights.

Benefits like:

  • Improved mood, especially for those of you who tend to get the "winter blues" ...
  • Enhanced mental awareness, concentration and productivity ...
  • Superior visual clarity and color perception ...
  • Better sleep ...
  • Super-charged immune system ...
  • More energy ...
  • Reduced eye strain and fatigue with a glare-free and comfortable reading environment ...
  • Greater learning ability and intelligence ...

Sunlight Starvation Starts in Your Brain

To begin with, when light enters your eyes, it not only goes to your visual centers enabling you to see; it also goes to your brain's hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus is so important to the body's functioning that it is known as the brain's brain. This means that it controls the part of the nervous system regulating automatic and metabolic processes in the body. The hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger and thirst, water balance and blood pressure. It links the nervous system to the endocrine system.




Additionally, it controls the body's master gland, the pituitary, which secretes many essential hormones. The hypothalamus initiates the body's stress response, affects our emotions and controls immune functions.

Significantly, our "body clock" is also housed in tiny centers located in the hypothalamus. Our body clock-controlled circadian rhythms are the 24 hour cycles of light and darkness.

These light-sensitive rhythms are not an invention of modern society. They are biological constructs imposed upon us by Mother Nature.

Consequently, anything that disrupts these rhythms (like inadequate sunlight) has a far-reaching impact on our body's ability to function.

This explains why, since sunlight has been shown to be the most effective regulator of the body clock, it is also the quickest method of recovering from jet lag. (Or you can supplement sunlight with full spectrum lighting indoors.)

But it gets even more interesting. In 1998, scientists found that they could reset the body clocks of study subjects by shining bright lights onto the back of their knees. This demonstrates that areas of the skin are significantly affected by light, just like the retinas of our eyes. This led researchers to conclude that the body may have more than one body clock, although the eyes still seem to be the main route by which the circadian system senses light.

So why the anatomy lesson?

Well, the body clock control centers in the hypothalamus are also connected to the pineal gland, which is considered the body's light meter. The pineal gland secretes the important hormone melatonin.

Melatonin, the "hibernation hormone", increases with decreased light, which explains that tired feeling that comes on when it begins to get dark outside -- even if it is only 4 o'clock in the afternoon on a winter's day. And also explains why decreased melatonin is found in those with insomnia (and why full spectrum light is beneficial for healthy sleep).

Conversely, serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, rises with exposure to bright light, and falls with decreased sun exposure. This has been proven by many scientific studies, including one reported in the well-respected medical journal Lancet in 2002. This study measured blood levels of serotonin, finding that production of serotonin by the brain was directly related to the duration of bright sunlight.

Say Goodbye to "Winter Blues" with Full Spectrum Lighting

Winter is upon us, and you may well be one of the 25 million Americans suffering from a condition known as the "winter blues". Another 12 million suffer from a more serious malady known as SAD or seasonal affective disorder.

Although some uninformed people mistakenly believe that SAD is just "hype" or "pseudo-science", this potentially disabling disorder was recognized back in 1982 by the National Institute of Health, which actually coined the term "seasonal affective disorder."

Well, both the "winter blues" and SAD have been scientifically correlated to a lack of sunlight -- and decreased serotonin. (This is why modern antidepressant drugs called SSRIs -- like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft - are "selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors".)

Characterized by feelings of sadness and depression, symptoms of these mood disorders also include irritability, fatigue, excessive eating, food cravings, oversleeping, social withdrawal and loss of interest in sex. Because symptoms of the "winter blues" are milder than those of SAD, many people suffer from it and don't even realize it!

Due to the prevalence of these conditions, full spectrum lighting is vital in the wintertime to stave off the symptoms of SAD and the "winter blues". Naturally balanced full spectrum light actually "tricks" your brain into thinking it is spring or summer, rather than winter.

In fact, light therapy (now called phototherapy) with full spectrum light wavelengths has been shown by dozens of clinical studies to be comparable to the effectiveness of antidepressant drug therapy for mood disorders -- and not just for wintertime symptoms, either ...

In fact, you don't even need to have symptoms of the "winter blues" to benefit from full spectrum lighting.

Improve Your Performance at Work and Home With Full Spectrum Lights

Sadly, antiquated fluorescent lights are still the norm in the average work setting, the place where most Americans spend half their lives. Studies have shown that poor lighting in the workplace triggers headaches, stress, fatigue and strained watery eyes, not to mention inferior work production.

Conversely, companies that have switched to full spectrum lights report improved employee morale, greater productivity, reduced errors and decreased absenteeism.

Naturally, if you own your own business, I would certainly recommend a complete switch to full spectrum lighting throughout the workplace for those reasons noted above. In fact, that's exactly what I have done in my own office. Now all my employees have the benefit of full spectrum lights for their good health, mood and productivity.

If you don't have the luxury of doing that, your best (and healthiest) option is to replace the bulb or bulbs in your desk lamp or nearest light with Way Healthier full spectrum light bulbs, which are compact enough to fit most standard light fixtures and lamps.

As a consequence, you will certainly have decreased eye strain and fatigue with less glare while working in front of your computer monitor -- this has been just one of the great benefits that I can personally attest to.

Those who work at home -- as well as those who just want the healthiest home environment possible -- can enjoy all the benefits of natural balanced sunlight indoors by switching to Way Healthier full spectrum lights. Better health, better mood, better productivity and better energy ...

By the same token, those who enjoy hobbies such as sewing, drawing, or crafts like scrapbooking will notice a decrease in eye strain (and the tight muscles that go with it) ... and find the improvement in color clarity and vibrancy quite obvious while working under natural full spectrum lighting.

Equally important, older individuals generally require more light than those who are younger, just to perform the same tasks comfortably. In fact, one study concluded that workers over age 50 required twice the light level of young adults for comfortable work.

So, it certainly stands to reason that our aging population -- especially baby boomers and retirees -- have eyes which are seriously challenged by poor lighting. Replacing those old-fashioned bulbs with Way Healthier full spectrum lights can make a remarkably significant difference for those of us in middle age and beyond.

Your Children's Teachers Will Thank You

In a similar fashion, with full spectrum lighting, your children and grandchildren will be able to read, learn, study and do their homework much more effectively at home. In fact, studies of the use of full spectrum lighting in classrooms and schools overwhelmingly demonstrate positive effects on learning performance and achievement.

Pioneer light researcher (and full spectrum light inventor) Dr. John Ott first coined the term "malillumination" to describe sunlight deficiency and the harmful effects of typical cool-white and pink-colored fluorescent light on learning, behavior, health and longevity.

Even back in 1980, scientists reported that cool-white fluorescent lighting produced increased levels of the stress-producing hormones ACTH and cortisol. They noted that their findings explained the agitated mental and physical behavior of children sitting all day under artificial lights, and recommended a change to illumination similar to that of natural light.




Dr. Laurence Martel, President of the National Academy of Integrative Learning, Inc., believes that light, particularly full spectrum light, is a critical element in what he calls the ergonomics of learning. As he puts it, malillumination is to light what malnutrition is to food.

Dr. Martel references a large body of research evidence indicating that the cool-white fluorescent bulbs found in virtually all classrooms cause increased stress, hyperactivity, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, attention problems and poor learning performance.

Because of this, he coined the term "posillumination" to refer to the simulated sunlight found in full spectrum lighting. He states that there is an overwhelming body of research showing its positive impact on human behavior, learning, health, hardiness and longer life.

According to the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, poor lighting is one of the major environmental dangers at school that our children are subjected to. This journal cited studies showing the positive benefits of "daylighting" or creating classrooms with full spectrum lighting.

In one study done in a North Carolina school, children attending classes with full spectrum lighting vs. traditional lighting were healthier overall, attended school several more days per year, and exhibited more positive moods. And a California school study showed that students in classrooms with more natural lighting demonstrated faster progression in both math and reading tests.

And students aren't the only ones noticing benefits in the classrooms. Teachers have reported more energy, elimination of headaches and decreased frustration when classrooms have been fitted with full spectrum lights.

Unfortunately, unless you are a wealthy philanthropist, you may not be able to upgrade your child's school to full spectrum lighting. However, you can upgrade your child's home learning environment to promote the highest level of functioning possible by replacing lights in your home and, especially, your child's study area with full spectrum light bulbs.

Pets and Plants Need Full Spectrum Light Too

Just like you, your pets need adequate sunlight -- and will derive much the same benefit from Way Healthier full spectrum lighting in your home. With veterinarian bills rivaling the cost for our own medical bills, boosting their health is an extra bonus of using full spectrum light ... and just makes good sense.

Similarly, plants also grow better under full spectrum lights. Obviously, plants depend on quality light for their growth -- just like we do. Relying on sunlight coming through windows during part of the day is not adequate. Add to this other factors such as air pollution, cloudy weather, and dirty windows (or no windows) and you can easily see how the addition of full spectrum lighting will make your green thumb even greener.

What Makes A Light Full Spectrum?

I apologize in advance if this gets a bit technical. However, as a consumer, you are owed all the facts so that you can make informed choices, especially with such important issues about your health and well-being -- wouldn't you agree?

First of all, you should consider these key points:

·         In order to achieve natural balanced sunlight INDOORS, your light bulbs must contain a full spectrum of color (imagine all the colors of the rainbow).

  • Additionally, true full spectrum lighting must contain infrared (IR) and ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths. (The hazards of UV have been vastly exaggerated -- moderate levels of UV are not only safe, but essential for good health.)

·         Third, there is no such thing as an incandescent full spectrum light bulb (despite what some unscrupulous sales people might tell you). Inexpensive neodymium bulbs touted as "full spectrum" lights will not give you the health benefits of true full spectrum, and are consequently no bargain.

·         And fourth, fluorescent bulbs are the ONLY type of bulbs that currently produce complete and healthy full spectrum lighting. But, as you will see, not all fluorescent bulbs are the same ...

Two terms you should understand are Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) and Color Retention Index (CRI).

Correlated Color Temperature is a scale used to describe temperature in degrees Kelvin (abbreviated as 'K'). The CCT rating for a lamp is a general indication of the warmth or coolness of its appearance. As CCT increases, that means the appearance of the source light has shifted from reddish-white toward bluish-white; in other words, the higher the color temperature, the cooler the color appearance.

Now, this may seem counter-intuitive -- we want to believe that bluer light sources have a lower or "cooler" color temperature, and that yellow light sources have a higher or "warmer" color temperature. However, the exact opposite is true.

·         Lamps with a lower color temperature (3500K or less) have a warm or reddish-yellow to orange-white appearance. Saturated in red and orange wavelengths, the light brings out warmer colors such as red and orange more richly.

·         Lamps with a mid-range color temperature (3500K to 4100K) have a neutral or white appearance. The light is more balanced in its color wavelengths.

·         Lamps with a higher color temperature (4100K or higher) have a cool or bluish-white appearance.

So don't be confused: summer sunlight at noon on a clear day has a very cool appearance at about 5500K. The light is saturated in green and blue wavelengths, bringing out cooler object colors such as green and blue more richly.

This color temperature of 5500K is exactly the temperature found in Way Healthier full spectrum light bulbs, making them comparable to mid-day sun, the time of day when the sun has its highest "photobiotic" activity.

The other term you should understand, the Color Rendering Index or CRI, describes how a light source makes the color of an object appear to human eyes; how well subtle variations in color shades are revealed. CRI is expressed as a rating from 0 to 100; the higher the CRI rating, the better its color rendering ability.

Imagine two objects, one red and one blue, which are lighted by a cool light source with a low CRI. The red object appears muted while the blue object appears a rich blue. Now take out the low CRI light source and put in a cool light source with a high CRI. The blue object still appears a rich blue, but the red object appears more like its true color.

One common misconception is that color temperature and color rendering both describe the same properties of the lamp. You can see from the above descriptions that this is not the case. Color temperature describes the color appearance of the light source and the light emitted from it. Color rendering describes how well the light demonstrates colors in objects.

'Way Healthier' Full Spectrum Light Bulbs Simulate Natural Sunshine with an Optimal CCT and CRI

Yet another misconception is that all fluorescent lamps are neutral or cool in color appearance and do not have very good color rendering ability. This is largely due to the fact that the typical "cool white" fluorescent lamp has historically been the industry standard. It has a cool color (4200K) with a poor CRI rating (62).

There are also some "cool white" bulbs on the market with a CRI of 82 and CCT of 3000-4100K that are being falsely promoted as full spectrum lights. Unfortunately, this relatively poor color rendering and harsh yellow color promotes eye strain and fatigue -- and the technology is over 75 years old! While the manufacturer can offer these bulbs more cheaply, the light is far from healthy and will lose its intensity quickly, causing these bulbs to need replacing every year.

This is simply not the case with more technologically sophisticated full spectrum lighting found in the Way Healthier bulbs.

So, in order to see how close Way Healthier full spectrum lights are to the natural goodness of sunshine, compare the difference between natural outdoor light, Way Healthier fluorescent full spectrum light, and ordinary fluorescent light in the spectral distribution charts below:

I'm sure you can see how closely the Way Healthier full spectrum light bulb simulates the qualities of natural outdoor light.

For even more detailed specifications regarding the Way Healthier compact fluorescent 30 watt bulb, see the chart below:

















Correspondingly, some other superior features special or unique to Way Healthier full spectrum light bulbs include:

  • Long Bulb Life

These full spectrum light bulbs are rated for 10,000 full hours of light (compare this to the average light bulb in your home!)

  • Flicker-free Electronic Ballast

This electronic ballast reduces flicker and noise -- and generates virtually no damaging electromagnetic radiation (EMF). This is yet another reason why these full spectrum lights are better than traditional fluorescents, which have a magnetic ballast that does produce hazardous EMFs.

  • Compact Size

This Way Healthier full spectrum light bulb is so compact in size that it will fit into most household lighting fixtures and lamps.

  • Quality Rare Earth Phosphors

The quality of a full spectrum light bulb depends largely on the quality of the full spectrum phosphors used for manufacturing. A team of experts led by Dr. John Ott, one of the inventors of full spectrum lighting, designed and developed a proprietary blend using rare earth phosphors to develop long-lasting and correct full spectrum light bulbs at 5500 Kelvin temperature and 93 CRI.

Years of research went into creating this blend of natural sunlight in a bulb through proper color rendering, full spectrum color temperature and the science of chromaticity. This one-of-a-kind Phosphor Lux™ technology is combined into the Way Healthier full spectrum light bulbs to help optimize its color ratio and fine tune color perception.
And last, but certainly not least -- as far as you're concerned, you get:

  • A Full One Year Warranty (that even includes breakage!)

To summarize, although the Way Healthier full spectrum light bulb may look like the common compact fluorescent, the experience and effect on your health is remarkably different.

Simply, there is no comparison in the quality of Way Healthier bulbs versus what is standard in the marketplace today.

These Full Spectrum Light Bulbs Pay for Themselves in Energy Savings

Besides being affordable in cost alone, these Way Healthier full spectrum lights consume 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs for the amount of light they produce -- and last about five times longer. This means that, although they are only 30 watt bulbs, they produce as much light as a typical 150 watt light bulb.

So, these full spectrum light bulbs wind up paying for themselves in decreased energy use and a reduction in your electric bill. They're not only good for you, but good for the environment as well.

IMPORTANT NOTE as of Feb 2007: Mercola no longer carries the 30 wt bulbs described above. He only carries 20 wt, delayed start (takes 1 second to come on) bulbs, which put out about an equivalent of an 80 wt incandescent bulb. Not a very good bulb, in my opinion. I have found much better, but less expensive bulbs at www.fullspectrumsolutions.com


Don't Miss Out on Our Very Limited Supply of Full Spectrum Lights -- Stock Up Today!





By Dr. Joseph Mercola
     with Rachael Droege

Nothing signals the start of the holiday season better than the scent of holiday spices filling your home. But popular holiday spices have much more to offer than pleasing scents--they each have unique health benefits that will add not only great taste to your holiday dishes but also a healthy boost.


The sweet and spicy flavor of cinnamon has been used by many different cultures for its medicinal properties for hundreds, even thousands, of years.

One of the most talked about benefits of cinnamon relates to type 2 diabetes. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day significantly reduces blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It also reduces triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels among this group.

Cinnamon’s other benefits include:

  • Supports digestive function
  • Constricts and tones tissues
  • Relieves congestion
  • Relieves pain and stiffness of muscles and joints
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort
  • Blood-thinning compounds that stimulate circulation
  • Anti-inflammatory compounds that may relieve arthritis
  • Helps prevent urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease
  • It’s a powerful anti-microbial agent that can kill E. coli and other bacteria


Nutmeg is another spice that has a variety of healing properties and can be used in a wide range of dishes during the holidays and all year long. It is useful for:

  • Insomnia (nutmeg can produce drowsiness so it should be taken when you have a chance to relax or sleep)
  • Anxiety
  • Calming muscle spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain and gout
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Male infertility and impotence
  • Improving concentration
  • Increasing circulation
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Toothaches (nutmeg oil)

** Please note that taking too much nutmeg (one to three nuts or less) can cause side effects such as nausea, hallucinations, swelling and shock.


Cloves have a potent, sweet and spicy, aromatic flavor that makes a great complement to many foods. They have been consumed in some areas, such as Asia, for more than 2,000 years. Among the clove’s most well-known healing properties is its ability to relieve tooth and gum pain, but it has many benefits beyond that. These include:

  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties
  • Relief from respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis
  • Relief from muscle pains from injuries or arthritis and rheumatism
  • Eliminates intestinal parasites, fungi and bacteria
  • May encourage creativity and mental focus


Ginger is another spice with a potent flavor that is great for warming your body and adding kick to foods.

It’s medicinal properties include:

  • Soothes nausea, motion sickness and other stomach upset
  • Relieves morning sickness
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Eliminates intestinal gas
  • Relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Relieves dizziness
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Protects against bacteria and fungi
  • Encourages bile flow
  • Promotes cardiovascular health


The therapeutic effects of fresh peppermint leaves have been known since ancient times and its aromatic aroma has come to symbolize hospitality in many cultures. Its healing properties include:

  • Soothing to the digestive tract
  • Relieves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • May protect against cancer
  • Inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungus
  • Relieves the symptoms of allergies and asthma

While there are many benefits to be had by adding spices to your diet, don't forget that these foods should not be taken every day or you run the risk of developing an allergy to them. Spices should not be looked at as a "cure" for your health problems, only by addressing the underlying causes of illness with a healthy diet and lifestyle will you be able to achieve optimum health.

Please use care when choosing your spices, as in the United States over 65 million pounds of spices, herbs and dry ingredients are irradiated each year. Fortunately, in the United States and Canada irradiated spices have to be labeled with the international symbol for irradiated foods, the "radura" symbol. However, processed foods that contain irradiated spices do not have to be labeled in the United States. So before you purchase a spice be sure to check the label to ensure that it has not been irradiated--organic varieties are your best bet.

But don’t let this discourage you from taking advantage of all that spices have to offer. Spices used with the above advice in mind are indeed an excellent way to add flavor and healing properties to your diet.










DoctorYourself .Com


World’s Largest Health Homesteading Website (www.doctoryourself.com)


Spontaneous Release by Positioning: First Aid for Your Back


(This is a great article on how to adjust your own back when a vertebra pops out,

which happens to most people occasionally. (I had my son try this on me last night,

as I had a vertebrae pop out 2 vertebrae below the big one at the base of the neck.

It really works! Whistler)


We're all ignorant, just on different subjects.
(Will Rogers)

 One of the handiest techniques for putting slightly out-of-place vertebrae back into line (or "putting your back in") is called spontaneous release by positioning.  The technique was developed by Dr. Lawrence Hugh Jones, a Canadian doctor of osteopathy (D.O.).  Dr. Jones published his technique in The D.O., January 1964, pp. 118-125.  It is a very effective, non-invasive procedure that most anyone can learn and use.

(Important caution:  Common sense dictates the need of genuine care in dealing with any back problem.  Consult a medical, osteopathic or chiropractic doctor before proceeding with this, or any other self-care approach.)

 The very first time I had occasion to require spontaneous release was during the time I was taking a short course in how to do it.  I really wasn't at all convinced of the value of the technique until it was used on me.  This is so often the way, isn't it?  One day I stepped off the curb to cross a street and suddenly felt my back give way and my leg get weak.  I must have moved just right... or should I say, just wrong... and it threw my lower back out severely.  I tried assorted exercises at home to try to correct it, but none worked.  It was painful in the big muscles of the lower back, the lumbar area, and I couldn't do anything about it. So the next class,  I asked the instructor to use me as the example of the day. 

 I was told to relax, was rolled up into a ball with my leg up under my chest in an odd but strangely comfortable position.  I knew that the teacher was pressing a trigger point aside my lower vertebra, but I only knew he was pressing the point because he told me he was, and I looked and saw it.  But I felt no pain at all in this position, and believe me, that was amazing after the great discomfort I'd been having.  A couple of minutes of relaxation passed, and he brought my posture back to normal.  The pain was gone, and it did not return. I rested a moment and got up and about again.  I've been successfully employing spontaneous release ever since because it is both gentle and it works so well.                                    

 "Spontaneous release" is another phrase for ''nature cured it" when applied to your back.  Occasionally a slightly displaced vertebra will slip back into place on its own.  An unusual sleeping position or a chance movement can return a vertebra to its place, though not quite as easily as it can be put "out."  This spontaneous realignment of the spine is not to be confused with  "learning to live with it" or any other mere toleration of  the aches or pains resulting from misplaced bones.  It is one thing for the body to compensate for a problem, and quite another for the body to actually correct the problem. 

 So why is a technique needed at all if the body corrects itself?  First of all, spontaneous release rarely occurs on its own.  It would be nice if it did, but  legions of backache patients prove otherwise.  It seems easier for a bone to go out than to go in, in the same manner  that it's easier to break a watch than fix it, or easier to scramble an egg than to put it back together again.  When a bone goes out, the surrounding muscles also are affected.  Dr. Jones explains this well in his paper.  It seems that once the bone is out, the tendency of the muscles is to hold it's new position.  It's only through a unique position coupled with muscle relaxation that the bone can slip back into place almost unnoticed.

This is precisely what "spontaneous release by positioning" seeks to accomplish: this technique recreates the circumstances in which the bone went out, to encourage it to replace itself of its own accord.  You are recreating the body's posture or position that put the vertebra out in the first place.  It's like retracing your steps looking for your lost car keys.

 By carefully positioning a person's arms or legs up or down, back turned this way or that, hips or neck pivoted right or left, a patient with even severe back pain is found to all at once find a comfortable position, a position where there is no pain or almost no pain.  It may be quite an odd-looking position, but the discomfort is eased or completely gone. This is the posture that encouraged the bone to go out in the first place; now we'll use the same position to encourage the bone to return.

 You can always tell when you've discovered the correct position because the patient will be comfortable.  The person previously may have been barely able to sit, walk or stand up, but when you have the correct position the person will be at ease even though, in fact because, the body is in an odd posture.  The very posture that put the initial strain on the back is now taking the strain off the back.  Says Dr. Jones:

 Even the severest lesions will readily tolerate being returned to the position in which lesion formation originally occurred, and only to this position.  When the joint is returned to this position, the muscles promptly and gratefully relax.  These joints do not cause distress because they are crooked; they are paining because they are being forced to be too straight.  This is the mechanism of strain. (p 119)

In other words, the muscles are "used" to the strain, and contract to hold the bone out of place.  When the person tries to straighten up, the bones won't, because the muscles won't let them. And, the muscles won't  relax because the bones are out of alignment.  That is
why heating pads, rubs, medicines and "learn to live with it" do not solve the problem. Because those approaches do not reposition the bone, the muscle cannot relax to normal. That's why there's pain.

 How to eliminate the pain? Reposition the bone back to normal.  How then to reposition the bone(s) to normal?  Reposition the person's body to the extreme but now comfortable posture so the muscles will relax.  Dr. Jones says you then hold the person in that position, as the person relaxes, for 90 seconds.  Then, still relaxing, the person is brought back around slowly to a normal posture.  It is found that the bone that was out returns with the rest of the spine to normal position.                    

 To better find exactly which vertebrae are out, and also to demonstrate to yourself that the bones do in fact realign and pain does in fact disappear, it may be helpful to utilize what are called "trigger points" along the spine.  Looking at the back one can see the spinal column as a stack of bumps.  To either side of this vertebral spine will be a trigger point.  The distance out from the bump will be about one to two inches.  Dr. Jones describes specific trigger locations in detail in his paper, and tells how to use them individually. 

 As we said earlier,  nerves emerge from between the vertebrae in your back.  Each vertebra  has side projections, like wings, and a rear-facing spine which you see as the "teacup handle" or bump.  If a given  vertebra is misaligned, the nerve or musculature on one or both sides of that bone will be tender.  This is, as we have said,  because the bone's somewhat twisted condition puts pressure on the nerve emerging to each side of it. Therefore,  if you press there, it may hurt quite a bit.  That's how you can tell which bones are out.  Gently go up and down the spine and press lightly about one inch out to either side of each vertebral spine or "bump."  Where there's pain, that's where the nerve is under pressure,  where the muscle is locking,  and where the bone is out.  And that's the trigger point for that bone.
 It is likely that you will find one side of the vertebra to be more tender than the other.  What one does in that case is keep pressing lightly on the tender spot while repositioning the person.  When the correct position is reached, the person will say that he no longer feels pain even though pressure is still being applied on the trigger point.  This is positive proof that you've found the right trigger point and  that you've found the right position.  What I do then is be sure the person is relaxing.  I hold the position, while pressing the trigger point, for about between 90 seconds and three minutes, and then bring the person back to normal posture while continuing to press the trigger point.  If  you've corrected the problem, the person will not feel  discomfort, and will not feel pain even though you continue to press the trigger point that hurt him before you started.

Summary of the steps of spontaneous release by positioning:

1.) Find the right trigger point by gently pressing to each side of each vertebra.  Pain indicates the trigger point.

2.) While pressing that point, begin to reposition the person, asking him to tell you when the pain stops.

3.) When a comfortable position is reached, continue pressing the trigger point while holding the person in the unusual position that he himself has indicated to you by cessation of pain.

4.) Be sure the person is relaxed if you want this to be successful.  You must hold the position, not the patient.   If the patient holds the position, he is using the very muscles that you are seeking to relax.  If the patient is not relaxed, the technique will not work.  

5.) After1 1/2 minutes or so, you return the person to a normal posture while continuing to press the spot.

6.) If the person feels better and the trigger point pressure no longer hurts, then the bone is back in its proper place.

Step-by-step suggestions:

 On step 1.) The person's back should be uncovered.  Some people will tell you of pain with only the lightest pressure to the trigger point.  With other cases, you may have to press fairly hard in finding the spot.  Very muscular persons often require more pressure.  Persons in great pain often require but a touch.  I once worked on a relative whose back was in such excruciating pain that just a washcloth's pressure when taking a bath hurt him greatly.  After half an hour of spontaneous release by positioning he was so much improved that I could press those same spots on his back until my fingernails were white.  There is real relief for you!

 On step 2.) Be sure to ask the person to tell you if a given trial position is better, worse, or the same.  Some people won't tell you if you're helping them or hurting them, so ask!  Ask constantly, "Better, worse, or the same?" "Better, worse, or the same?" If you're working on the neck, the person may begin in a sitting position.  If you are working on the upper or middle back, the person might sit, or it may be easier to lie face down.  For the lower back, the person may lie down on their side or face down.  Start symmetrically, and end symmetrically; that is, sit or lie straight to begin, and always end up straight with no crossed legs or slouching.

 On step 3.) The only comfortable position for the patient may be very unusual or extreme, and that's common.  The person may be in no pain at all only when rolled up like a ball, or twisted one leg over the other, or with their head pointed out and up with the chin in the air, or with their arm bent back over their shoulder!  You just have to try any position until you get the sure sign that you've found the right one: No more pain, where you are pressing or anywhere else in the patient.

 On step 4.) Dr. Jones mentions that ''patients will try to help you.  Don't let them."  This is because spontaneous release by positioning is and must remain totally passive on the part of the patient, and all he or she can do to help is to say when the pain is gone, and relax.  That is it.

 After the procedure, the person worked on should rest for a while, and later endeavor to keep good posture while resting or working.  This is important, because the bone replaced is most likely to slip back out of place if again offered the extreme position that did it before.

 On step 5.) The length of time that you have to hold the position will vary with each situation.  Experience best shows how you can be the judge.
 On step 6.) With spontaneous release by positioning, as with math, you can always check your work.  The trigger point that hurt when you pressed it showed you which vertebra was out; the trigger point when pressed with the person in the correct posture no longer hurt, so it showed you the correct position; the trigger point when pressed throughout the rotation of the person back to normal position no longer hurts, either, and shows you that the release was accomplished.

 So we can see the value of positioning, relaxation, and trigger points. These three form the basis of this technique.

 You can try spontaneous release by positioning yourself, but not on yourself.  If you try to position yourself, you will not be the necessary passive, relaxed patient.  You can not have relaxed muscles if you are using them.  You must exert force to position your limbs, or to press trigger points. You can either relax a muscle or use a muscle; you cannot do both together.  This is why it is good to teach family members this technique: you may be the one needing it at some point.  If everyone learns, then you can help each other.  When I did farm work, with much reaching, lifting, pulling and  carrying, my wife did spontaneous release by positioning on me almost every day.  But she had her turn: when she was pregnant,  particularly during the eighth and ninth months, I had to put her back in as much as twice a day.  This prevented the considerable back discomfort that so  many women complain of during pregnancy due to the extra weight applied to the back in carrying a child.  (Gentlemen, you just try strapping one or two large bags of dog food around your middle and see how it feels!)  All that new extra weight must be supported by the same backbones.

 Spontaneous release by positioning is my preferred way to relieve backache and warm-up stretches or yoga postures are my preferred ways to prevent backache.  First, they are easy to do, with exercise books and yoga classes available in abundance to guide you.  Second, it is virtually impossible to do them incorrectly unless it hurts.  As the old joke goes, "Doc, it hurts when I do that."  The reply: "Well, don't do that."  Doing it right means doing it gently.  If you do a set of each first thing in the morning and again at bedtime, you will work better, sleep better, and feel better.  Do this every day, and you will notice that you are able to reach further and touch those toes again.  My high school Phys Ed teacher told me a long time ago that the single, simplest test of a person's physical fitness is to see if they can touch their toes.  Can you?  If not, do stretches.  If you can touch them, continue doing stretches.

 If you want to foster your self-reliance in caring for your back, these simple first aid techniques, which are closely related to osteopathy, physical therapy and chiropractic, may help.  It still takes me aback that there isn't more interest from those three professions in spontaneous release by positioning.  Maybe it is because the name is too long.  Maybe it is because it takes more time than busy practitioners want to spend.  Maybe it is because wellness self-reliance cuts into the profit of fee-per-visit professionals.

 In other words, perhaps it is because this procedure works too well.

 I was on the faculty of a chiropractic college for three years, and although I am not a chiropractor, I know a lot of them.  I am yet to see an adjustment technique that is more gentle and more effective than spontaneous release by positioning.  Once a woman, who was an aide at a nursing home, came in with some numbness down her arm and no grip strength.  Her job consisted largely of lifting patients, and at 52, she'd been daily straining her back for a long time.  She had been to the usual flock of doctors and received the usual gaggle of prescriptions.  None really helped; how can a pill correct the position of a bone?  Spontaneous release on her lower neck, a matter of a few painless minutes, and she was better.  She said she could feel, right away, the change in her arm.  Her grasping ability came back while I watched.

 Another woman, who had seen so many physicians that she'd lost count, had numbness and tingling all down her lower legs, and swollen fingers and toes.  Doctors had ruled out any malady they knew of, and told her to learn to live with it, as she was getting old.  The lady was 60.  Half an hour of spontaneous release later, she had normal feeling in her limbs and, most incredibly to me, the swelling was gone from her fingers.

 This is a great technique.  Darned if anybody is taught it anymore, though.

Copyright  C  1999 and prior years Andrew W. Saul.  From the books QUACK DOCTOR and PAPERBACK CLINIC, available from Dr. Andrew Saul,  Number 8 Van Buren Street, Holley, New York 14470.





 Soy Woes


Thank you for the work of the Foundation alerting people to the dangers of soy. If only I had known 20 years ago. But perhaps I can tell you something that will help others. I was diagnosed as clinically depressed and had chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia for 17 years. The doctor said it was all "in my head."


Years later I went to a compliementary practitioner and he said to give up the soy as it showed strong in the allergy tests. I had no soy for two weeks. Energy was coming back, my mind was clearing and I felt like I had a future again. One Saturday at bedtime I drank the little box of soy milk to see what would happen. I went to bed to read and "dozed off." (I now recognize the dozing off not as sleep but as an allergic reaction.) The next morning as I tried to get up I fell back onto the bed and was very weak and spacey and even the next day I had little energy.


It was hard to believe that soy could cause such a reaction so I did it again a few days later. Driving to work an hour or so after eating some soy product I began to be so sleepy I could not see the road. At the office I sat at the desk and passed out. After a half hour the worst passed but I was incredibly tired all day. My mouth tasted tinny, my ears felt stuffy and I had no appetite except later a craving for sweets.


I did not consciously eat any more soy but once in a while I would get it inadvertently, like in a corn muffin. I now read all labels carefully. If I have any tamari sauce flavoring, I get spacey and weak and sleepy and know it will peak in an hour and lessen and then coffee and passive work is all that will do until a night's sleep. I am limited as to where I can get a meal because so many places use soy oil for cooking. I can literally go to sleep at the wheel. Many times I have pulled over and lain my head on the opposite seat for half an hour till the worst is passed. For years I believed I was going senile at a youthful time and missed a lot of activities and creativity that I could have enjoyed because of this farce of telling us that soy is good for us. I think it is a serious allergen and people need to know.


Sylvia Murry


Unloading Soy


I was wondering whether there are any links between soy's adverse effects in humans directly and/or links between food crops, livestock and human diets with Alzheimer's and other diseases like BSE. I live in a small port town on the east coast of the UK and some of us have noticed possible causal links between the unloading of the raw products (soya), certain complaints such as higher than normal asthma-like conditions and possible links to Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Some of us are also very concerned that food retailing interests and political vested interests are not being honest in these matters. Remember that this stuff now is now in almost two-thirds of all the food we eat. Thus a high dependency on cheap foods which have a high concentration of soybean derivatives carries an unacceptable health risk that should be made public.


Keith Scott
Yarmouth, UK


As a matter of fact, a study published in the March 1, 1997 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology described occasional days when large numbers of asthma sufferers, sometimes more than 200 people, sought treatment at the Charity Hospital in New Orleans over a period of nearly 20 years, between 1953 through the 1960s. Investigation into the weather patterns and historical vessel cargo data from the New Orleans harbor identified the presence of vessels carrying soy as the probable cause. Prevailing low winds carried the soy dust from two grain elevators to the area near the hospital. Similar outbreaks of epidemic asthma near the harbor in Barcelona, Spain were also traced back to the release of soy dust when shipments arrived.




Outside Magazine, April 2006


Bodywork: High-Intensity Training
Power Surge
Want real results? A new regimen sheds pounds, builds strength, and shortens your workout time.

By Roy Wallack








THREE YEARS AGO, Jeff Mitchell, a 42-year-old business consultant from Jackson, Tennessee, doubled his maximum bench press from 135 to 280 pounds, cut two seconds off his 100-yard-dash time, lost 40 pounds, and shed six inches from his waistline—all in just over a year. His muscles bulged, his skin looked smoother, and he hadn't felt so good since playing college basketball.

"You on steroids or something?" Mitchell recalls a friend asking him.

In fact, there was nothing illicit behind Mitchell's transformation, which some believe may hinge on an exercise-induced upswing in the body's production of human growth hormone (HGH). The catalyst? A short but super-high-intensity workout called Sprint 8 (see "Explode into Shape"). The program had Mitchell running sprints down his street four times a week, leaving him heaving for air and nearly passing out, while his neighbors looked on with bewildered amusement.

The Sprint 8 program was quietly introduced in 2000 in Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness, by Phil Campbell, a strikingly muscular 53-year-old masters runner and college speed coach from Jackson. Back in the mid-nineties, Campbell was a hospital administrator with a doughy gut that wouldn't tighten up no matter how many miles he ran. Then one year, to prepare for his family's annual Thanksgiving flag-football game, he started adding sprints to his daily 45-minute runs. By game day, two months later, he'd shed ten pounds and "felt like 17 again." Campbell kept sprinting through the winter, and as the weight fell off and his muscles firmed up, he reduced his running time while adding more sprints—finally dialing in a 20-minute routine that included eight 30-second intervals.

Other people around Campbell's hometown took notice, adopted his sprint program, and promptly saw similar results. Burt Gillmann, a 39-year-old building project manager, dropped 35 pounds off his six-foot frame. Masters bike racer Tom Gee, 54, claims the sprints helped him clock his best 40-kilometer time trial in 30 years.

Seeing these results prompted Campbell to do some armchair thinking about the science behind his success. Short bursts of intense activity have long been a staple of workouts. (Remember your high school coach making everyone do wind sprints?) But Campbell was interested in explaining the tangible benefits of his routine, especially the dramatic fat loss and notable increase in lean muscle mass. His research of the scientific literature led him to studies that documented a link between intense activity and a natural increase in HGH.

Linking HGH to weight loss and increased speed and strength made for a promising connection, since thousands of aging Americans now inject synthetic HGH—at costs ranging from $500 to $1,000 per month—for a buffet of purported health benefits, including improved sleep and libido. What if Campbell had stumbled upon an all-natural way to achieve the same thing?

Campbell is convinced he has, pointing to a 2002 study in Britain's Journal of Sport Sciences showing that 30 seconds of all-out cycling increased HGH levels by 530 percent over nonexercisers' base levels. Thus, says Campbell, "the harder you work, the more HGH you produce." This, along with a 2003 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism concluding that "the beneficial effects of exercise can mimic the effects of HGH treatment," prompted renewed interest in high-intensity training and equipment (see "Time Machine").

Many scientists, however, aren't sold on the connection. "There's no doubt that high-intensity training is potent, but the theories linking improvements in fitness to HGH are still very speculative," says Dr. Martin Gibala, a muscle physiologist at Canada's McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario.

Dr. Mike Joyner, an exercise researcher at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, explains that while exercise- induced HGH production is a fact and HGH is known to boost strength and shrink fat cells, its full role is unclear. "There are probably 10 or 12 things going on during high-intensity exercise, and all we can say for sure right now is that HGH is one of them."

Whatever the case, as long as Sprint 8 delivers results, true believers like Jeff Mitchell will keep blitzing neighborhood streets. There's no downside to trying it, unless you don't like the hard work.

"It's tough to get my patients to do Sprint 8 because it pushes them to uncomfortable levels of exertion," says Dr. Chet Gentry, a family practitioner in Sparta, Tennessee, who says his own LDL cholesterol level dropped 60 points on Campbell's program. "But those that stick to it will see very good results."


Bodywork: High-Intensity Training
Explode Into Shape
Pump up the intensity, not the volume, with this field-tested training plan

By Roy Wallack

SPRINT 8 IS A 20-MINUTE WORKOUT you can do with any aerobic activity: swimming, running, rowing, cycling—you name it. After a three-minute warm-up, start a series of eight 30-second intervals. Prep your muscles for the pace with the first three, then push yourself as hard as possible through the rest. "If you can keep charging past 30 seconds, you aren't trying hard enough," says Sprint 8 creator Phil Campbell.

Between each sprint, slow to an easy pace for 90 seconds, to fully recover for the next one. Finish with a couple minutes of easy work.

For the best results, do a series every other day so your body has time off. If you don't currently have an exercise routine, Campbell suggests you start with at least three weeks of moderate sprints to strengthen your joints' connective tissue and to prep the muscles for full-bore exertion.

ROY WALLACK wrote about boxing fitness in July, 2005.



Bodywork: High-Intensity Training
Time Machine
The four-minute torture test returns with a vengeance

By Tim Sohn

WITH MORE EVIDENCE pointing to the benefits of brief, intense workouts, the much maligned ROM (Range of Motion) cross-trainer is back—16 years after its debut. The ROM combines features of a rowing machine and stair climber—as conceived by the Marquis de Sade—and was created to replace tedious hours of weight lifting, cardio work, and stretching with a daily four-minute workout. Despite the naysayers who can't believe four minutes qualifies as a workout, ROM inventor Alf Temme has retained his Panglossian faith in his machine.

"The ROM is not pleasurable," says Temme. "But you do it because you get the darn workout over in four minutes." How? The ROM demands your full range of motion, engaging 12 times the number of muscles you'd use on a treadmill. Curious? You can try the $14,615 machine at one of 20 exercise facilities across the country.

Pasadena, California, chiropractor Todd Hewitt, 35, opened a ROM gym last year, charging members $89 a month. So far, he's converted everyone from soccer moms to tennis pros. "My clients come to realize that they don't have to waste valuable time on general conditioning," says Hewitt. "They're in and out of here in 12 minutes, and they can use the extra time to practice the skills it takes to improve their sports."


Frequent contributor TIM SOHN recently completed his master's in history at Cambridge University.



LE Magazine March 1997


An Exciting New Anti-Aging Therapy

Part 1

Life Extension reviews hundreds of anti-aging and health products every year. The few that we select to introduce to our members represent what we believe are the most cutting-edge therapies in the world. Our track record has been light years ahead of the medical establishment Over the years, we've introduced a number of breakthrough therapies such as Coenzyme-Q10, DHEA , and Melatonin.

This is the first in a series of articles on S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe), which promises to be the most potent, multi-purpose anti-aging, anti-disease therapy we have ever introduced! A natural metabolite of the amino acid methionine, SAMe appears to be a non-toxic, anti-aging, health-enhancing blockbuster that could do wonders for every one of us.

What Does SAMe Do?

It's hard to believe the many reports in the scientific literature about the potential health and medical applications of SAMe. It was only after we read about SAMe's mechanisms of action within the body that we began to understand how one substance could have so many beneficial effects against aging and disease.

On a cellular level, SAMe:

  • Maintains mitochondrial function
  • Prevents DNA mutations
  • Restores cellular membrane fluidity so that cell receptors become better able to bind hormones and other factors

In addition, SAMe:

  • Protects the liver against alcohol, drugs and cytokines. It protects against cholestasis (bile impairment or blockage). It may protect against chronic active hepatitis. It protects against liver damage caused by MAO inhibitors and anti-convulsants. It reverses hyperbilirubinaemia.
  • Protects against neuronal death caused by lack of oxygen (anoxia). It regenerates nerves and provokes remyelination of nerve fibers.
  • May protect against heart disease

Moreover, SAMe has antidepressant action equal to, and faster than FDA-approved drugs, and is essential for the synthesis of melatonin.

What is SAMe?


SAMe, (which is also known as SAM or AdoMet) is a synthetic form of a natural metabolite of the amino acid methionine. SAMe is of great importance because it is a co-factor in a number of critical biochemical reactions. SAMe is the precursor for three fundamental biochemical pathways and it is found in almost every tissue of the body. SAMe has been used in clinical studies to treat depression, schizophrenia, demyelination diseases, liver disease, dementia, arthritis, and other conditions. It was recently published in the Journal of Neurochemistry that brain levels of SAMe in Alzheimer's patients are severely decreased.


SAMe Is Necessary for Melatonin

One of the most exciting things about SAMe is that it is melatonin's daytime equivalent. The natural synthesis of melatonin during the night is dependent on the synthesis of SAMe during the day. SAMe is necessary for the biochemical reaction that converts serotonin into melatonin. (Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that drugs like Prozac elevate). SAMe and melatonin are entwined in a circadian rhythm that see-saws back and forth as the sun rises and sets. SAMe is melatonin's other half: when melatonin levels shoot up at night, SAMe stays low. But during the day, when melatonin falls, SAMe levels climb. Without adequate SAMe during the day, neither melatonin nor serotonin can be synthesized. And both are dependent on light and dark.


One of the most fascinating animal studies on SAMe and melatonin was published in the Journal of Neurochemistry in 1995. Researchers demonstrated in great detail the perfect orchestration that occurs between levels of SAMe and melatonin. The so-called "nyctohemeral" rhythm (pertaining to both day and night) was documented almost minute-by-minute. Data were translated onto graphs showing the see-saw relationship between melatonin and SAMe (Fig. 1).


Both melatonin and SAMe are controlled by an internal "clock" that knows lightness from darkness. In the evening, about 30 minutes before sunset, levels of SAMe shoot up to their highest level. They stay there for about an hour, and then suddenly drop. When this happens, melatonin kicks in. Melatonin increases for four hours, while SAMe drops. Five hours into the night, melatonin hits its high, and SAMe hits its low. Melatonin stays elevated until three hours before sunrise, when it abruptly falls. Meanwhile, SAMe builds up. Five hours into the day (around 11:00 A.M.), SAMe reaches its peak level again, then begins a gradual descent until evening.


Serotonin levels follow roughly the same pattern-higher during the day and lower at night. It appears that the serotonin synthesized during the day is used at night to make melatonin. SAMe is absolutely crucial for the natural synthesis of melatonin because it donates a methyl group molecule to the enzyme that converts the acetylated form of serotonin to melatonin.


Risks Of Beta Blockers

The synthesis of melatonin also depends on the stimulation of pineal beta receptors by noradrenaline (norepinephrine). This normally occurs as the sun goes down. Noradrenaline stimulation of beta receptors causes the release of Serotonin-N-Acetyltransferase, an enzyme crucial for the synthesis of melatonin.


Beta blockers are a class of drugs used to treat heart problems. Common brand names include Inderal, Tenormin, Lopressor (Toprol). People who take beta blockers to block beta receptors in their heart, block receptors in their brains as well. Blocking neal receptors interferes with the synthesis of melatonin.


The extent of the disruption caused by beta blockers to circadian rhythms, and the important hormones that depend on these rhythms, was illustrated by an animal study showing that ingesting a beta blocker before bedtime is like leaving the lights on all night. Serotonin levels, which normally drop at night, remain unnaturally high: SAMe doesn't decrease, and melatonin doesn't increase. What occurs when beta blockers are taken before bedtime looks a lot like sleep deprivation.


A study in Acta Medica Scandinavia clearly demonstrates the melatonin-disrupting effects of beta blockers. Researchers gave hypertensive patients one of three beta-blockers: propranolol (Inderal), atenolol (Tenormin), or metoprolol (Lopressor or Toprol XL). Melatonin levels were measured against those of a control group. As a whole, melatonin levels fell significantly in patients compared to controls, and wakefulness increased. Metoprolol decreased melatonin more than atenolol or propranolol. The three patients with the lowest levels of melatonin reported nightmares. People do not "adjust" to the chronic use of beta-blockers: as long as they take them, melatonin will be suppressed.


People who take beta blockers (at least in the evening) are setting themselves up for insomnia, depression and other mental disturbances due to the extraordinary interdependence of SAMe, serotonin and melatonin. Beta blockers suppress serotonin as well as melatonin. Thus, it is not surprising that the Physicians Desk Reference lists mental depression, fatigue, short-term memory loss, insomnia and emotional lability as some of the side effects of Inderal and other beta blockers. Apparently unaware of the role beta receptors play in getting a good night's sleep, the manufacturer of Inderal, Wyeth-Ayerst, recommends that these drugs be taken at bedtime.


Anti-Anxiety Pills Suppress Melatonin


Two benzodiazepine type drugs have been shown to suppress melatonin and disrupt sleep patterns in humans and rodents. Valium and Xanax both cause decreased production of melatonin at night. In a study from the Niigata College of Pharmacy in Japan, Valium also inhibited N-acetylserotonin and N-acetyltransferase, the enzymes necessary for the synthesis of melatonin in the pineal gland.




The Three major pathways of SAMe

SAMe Against Killer Diseases


A recent study in the Journal of Neurochemistry reported that Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients have severely decreased levels of SAMe in their brains. This is an important discovery because it was previously assumed from studies on blood cells that AD patients had too much SAMe. Proper studies have never been done with SAMe as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease because of this erroneous assumption.


A new study in Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology links coronary artery disease to SAMe. This well-constructed study in Switzerland measured levels of SAMe, cholesterol and other factors in 70 patients, aged 28-79, who were admitted to the hospital for angioplasty. The researchers became suspicious that SAMe could be playing a role in heart disease when they read studies revealing high levels of homocysteine in heart patients. Homocysteine can be neutralized by a process that involves SAMe, which has led researchers at Tufts University to propose that a disruption in one SAMe pathway could affect other pathways, resulting in homocysteine accumulation.


The Swiss researchers showed for the first time that high levels of homocysteine in heart disease correlate with an enzyme (5-methyltetrahydrofolate) that converts folate into its active form. SAMe plays a crucial role in keeping this enzyme from breaking down. It also participates in other processes which turn homocysteine back into methionine. There was clear correlation between high homocysteine, low SAMe and heart disease.


To make sure that heart disease causes the high levels of homocysteine, rather than the other way around, the researchers measured homocysteine levels again after a year. They concluded that "The finding of similar homocysteine values in patients after an interval of 1 year supports the idea that this parameter plays a role in the disease process and is not just altered by the disease itself." A study in JAMA in 1992 supports the view that high levels of homocysteine precede coronary artery disease.


Cholesterol and Heart Disease

The study had another, unintentional, finding: some of the healthy controls had higher levels of cholesterol than the patients with heart disease. A recent review in Archives of Internal Medicine dealt with 24,968 people in 34 studies who participated in trials of cholesterol-lowering regimens to prevent coronary artery disease. The reviewers found that while lowering cholesterol by 10% or more reduced the risk of dying of a heart attack in middle-aged males somewhat, no conclusions could be reached for women and elderly people.


It appears that cholesterol may have less to do with heart disease than the public has been led to believe. Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw questioned the causal connection between cholesterol and heart disease 14 years ago in their book, Life Extension. The recent data on homocysteine and heart disease suggests that levels of SAMe and its opposite, homocysteine, have more to do with heart disease than cholesterol.


A similar review looked at the association between the symptoms of peripheral atherosclerosis and cholesterol levels in people who have had heart attacks. The reviewers found that there was no association between cholesterol levels below 240 md/dl and heart attacks.


They did, however, find that smoking, age, diabetes, previous heart attacks, hypertension, high blood pressure, and low alcohol consumption were risk factors for heart attacks. There is more persuasive evidence for the association between vitamin E and heart disease than there is for high cholesterol and heart disease.


Due to its function in every cell in the body, the potential of SAMe to reverse disease appears to be limitless. A study in Hepatology showed the beneficial effects of SAMe on liver disease. Fetal rat liver cells were exposed to ethanol. Ethanol caused a 40% reduction in DNA synthesis, a doubling of free radicals, a 30% decrease in cellular ATP, altered mitochondrial function, and cell damage. Pretreatment with SAMe maintained cell replication, decreased free radicals and prevented ATP and glutathione depletion. (Vitamin E gave better protection against free radicals, but did not maintain cell replication, ATP or glutathione). This one study illustrates all three important actions of SAMe.



Morrison LD, Smith DD and SJ Kish. 1996. Brain S-adenosylmethionine levels are severely decreased in Alzheimer's disease. J Neurochem 67: 1328-1331.


Loehrer MTF, Angst CP, Haefeli WE, Jordan PP, Ritz R and B Fowler. 1996. Low whole-blood S-adenosylmethionine and correlation between 5- methyltetrahydrofolate and homocysteine in coronary artery disease. Arth Throm Vasc Biol 16: 727-733.


McIntyre IM, Norman TR, Burrows GD, Armstrong SM. 1993. Alternations to plasma melatonin and cortisol after evening alprazolam administration in humans. Chronobiol Int 10: 205-13.


Wakabayashi H, Shimada K and T Satoh. 1991. Effects of diazepam administration on melatonin synthesis in the rat pineal in vivo. 1991. Chem Pharm Bull 39: 2674-6.


Sitaram BR, Sitaram M, Traut M and CB Chapman. 1995. Neurochem 65: 1887-1894.


Brismar K, Hylander B, Elilasson K, Rossner S and Wetterberg L. 1988. Melatonin secretion related to side-effects of beta-blockers from the central nervous system. Acta Med Scand 223: 525-30.


Marcholi R, Marfisi RM, Carinci F and G Tognoni. 1996. Meta-analysis, clinical trials, and transferability of research results into practice. The case of cholesterol- lowering intervention in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 156: 1158-72.


Stampfer MJ, Malinow MR, Willett WC, et al. 1992. A prospective study of plasma homocysteine and risk of myocardial infarction in US physicians. JAMA 268: 877-81.



LEF Magazine April 1997

S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
Part 2: Fast-Acting Natural Antidepressant

S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) Part 2: Fast-Acting Natural Antidepressant Last month, we introduced you to an exciting new anti-aging therapy (SAMe) that is currently unavailable anywhere else in the U.S. SAMe is a substance synthesized in the body from the amino acid, methionine. An enzyme called methionine S-adenosyltransferase (MAT) catalyzes a reaction between methionine and ATP to form SAMe. SAMe has numerous actions within the body: its importance has been demonstrated in numerous published studies.

In the first installment of this series, we told you about a study in Hepatology, where SAMe's ability to protect rat liver cells against alcohol was demonstrated.
That study exemplifies SAMe's three important actions:
Methylation-SAMe is a "methyl donor" for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, DNA, RNA, protein, and phospholipids; Transsulphuration-SAMe is the precursor for cysteine, glutathione and taurine; Polyamines-SAMe and Arginine catalyze the synthesis of spermine, spermidine and putrescine, which are essential for cell growth and differentiation.

A Methyl Donor
SAMe "donates" methyl groups to other molecules in order to stimulate biochemical reactions that transform these molecules into bioactive substances. For example, when methyl groups are transferred from SAMe to certain phospholipids, phosphatidylcholine is produced. This important lipid is found in all cell membranes. Its presence or absence affects how cells react to stimuli from the outside environment because it controls accessibility of the cell membrane to signals from the outside.

Here's how it works:
Phosphatidylcholine makes cell membranes pliant. The other lipid in cell membrane-cholesterol-makes them stiff. Stiff membranes do not transmit signals as well as pliant membranes because more receptors are exposed in pliant membranes. There is also evidence that there may be distortion in the receptors of overly viscous cells. Receptors and molecules that occupy them are like parts of a jigsaw puzzle. With a malformation, and the piece may fit into its "receptor", but the fit will be imperfect. And any signal between the two pieces will be impaired. Cells with an overabundance of cholesterol simply "don't get the message."

Aging causes "hardening" of cell membranes. With age, the ratio of phosphatidylcholine- to-cholesterol decreases, and cholesterol becomes predominant. Decreased methylation which occurs with age plays a part in this lipid alteration. This is one area where the increased methylation that SAMe causes, protects and enhances cell integrity.

Methylation of DNA is another area where SAMe goes into action. The methylation of DNA causes the activation or inactivation of genes. Activated genes transcribe proteins. Without the proper transcription of proteins, cells cannot grow or function optimally. Activating or inactivating genes can stop tumor growth.

Other important processes that involve methylation are the suppression of viruses, the activation of heat shock proteins, and the synthesis and signaling of cytokines.

SAMe is the precursor for the sulfur amino acids cysteine and taurine, as well as the tripeptide glutathione. SAMe is first transformed into S-adenosylhomocysteine, which is then converted into cysteine and taurine. Sulfur compounds are so important that it has been written that "under conditions of absolute deficiency of sulfur, there is no living material." Every cell in the body contains sulfur compounds.

The end products of the transsulphuration pathway-free radical scavengers-are important. Glutathione is the most important substance in the liver. The liver's principle function is to break down damaging substances the body encounters. These may be drugs, or the body's own products. Liver malfunction- whether caused by alcohol, viral infection or other disorder-is invariably accompanied by glutathione depletion. When glutathione is depleted, the liver simply can't do its job. Glutathione is also found in other organs. It inihibits the deleterious effects of inflammation throughout the body. And it is an extremely potent free radical scavenger in the eye, where it protects against cataracts caused by UV sunlight. By providing the building blocks of glutathione, SAMe contributes to maintenance of this important natural antioxidant.

These biochemical bombshells bind DNA and regulate gene expression. They make cell membranes act younger (more fluid), and repair DNA. We will be telling you much more about the importance of polyamines in future issues.

Natural Antidepressant
The most compelling clinical evidence for SAMe is the hundred-plus published studies regarding its benefit in depression. SAMe is the most well-documented non-drug antidepressant available today.

According to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in the U.S., after AIDS, which ranks 8th. In people aged 25-44, it is the 5th leading cause of death; and in those aged 15-24, it is the 3rd leading cause of death, following accidents and homicides. In 1995, the number of suicides exceeded the number of homicides in the U.S. Clearly suicide is a major health problem.

It was estimated that successful suicides and suicide attempts cost over $16 billion in 1994-in lost earnings, hospitalizations, and the like. This year, thousands of Americans will suffer a serious bout of depression, which is the Number One cause of suicide! It has been reported that every American will suffer at least one bout of depression during their lifetime. People with serious physical illness are often depressed, and it is occurring with greater frequency in the elderly and in young adults. What can be done?

Antidepressant drugs are part of a billion dollar psychopharmacology industry that, according to some physicians, churns out dangerous, addictive products. While antidepressants work in most patients, there are drawbacks. According to statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), 53% of drug-related admissions to emergency rooms are due to overdose. People frequently overdose on tricyclic antidepressants during the lag time between the time the drug is prescribed, and when it starts working. In 1994, 90% of emergency room visits related to tricyclic antidepressants were for overdose (intentional and unintentional).

Europe's Best-Kept Secret
In the 1970s, while testing SAMe as a treatment for schizophrenia, Italian researchers discovered that their patients were becoming less depressed. This set off a wave of studies that continues to the present. In study-after-published-study, SAMe is equal, or superior, to tricyclic antidepressants. Not only is it usually more effective, it works faster, and without significant side effects.

SAMe has been proven effective in every type of depression, and seems particularly good for the endogenous form, where people are depressed without any apparent external cause. Even people with depression so severe they were contemplating electroshock therapy (ECT), have been "saved" by SAMe. Bipolar depression (manic depressive) may be an exception to SAMe's otherwise good record. SAMe can cause some people with this type of depression to switch from depression to mania. This effect does not always occur.

SAMe's anti-depressant effect begins anywhere from immediately to 5 weeks. Most patients benefit within 4 days, which is faster than most antidepressant drugs.

Clinical Studies Support Efficacy, Safety and Quick Action
In 1987, the
University of Alabama and the University of Trieste (Italy), along with BioResearch S.A. (which manufactures SAMe) sponsored a symposium on SAMe. The purpose of the meeting was to gather all the data together on using SAMe as a treatment for neuropsychiatric disorders. Among the papers presented were the results of a study done at the University of California at Irvine on 18 patients hospitalized for depression. In this study, intravenous SAMe was compared to oral imipramine (Tofranil). The researchers found that 67% of the SAMe patients had 50% or greater improvement by the 14th day of the study, compared to only 22% of the patients given imipramine.

A larger study by DeVanna and Rigamonti confirmed these results in a placebo controlled, double-blind study using oral SAMe. In this study, patients with major depression were given 1,600 mg of SAMe per day. In order to reduce the "placebo effect", DeVanna and Rigamonti gave the patients a placebo for a week before beginning the real trial. Patients who felt better after taking the sugar pill were excluded from the study.

Using four different depression scales to measure response, the researchers found that by day 10, SAMe had decreased depression 27% versus imipramine's 18% on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. On day 20, the anti-depressant effect of SAMe and imipramine were similar, although SAMe had a clear advantage on the anxiety scale. On day 42, imipramine surpassed SAMe. More patients dropped out of the study due to side effects from imipramine than SAMe.

SAMe has also been compared to desipramine (Norpramin), amitriptyline (Elavil), and chlorimipramine in placebo-controlled, double-blind studies. According to one meta-analysis of these studies, 92% of patients responded to SAMe, compared to 85% for the tricyclics. SAMe has also been compared to amoxapine (Asendin), maprotiline (Ludiomil), and trazadone (Desyrel).

Depression Caused by Organic Disease
SAMe has been tested for depression caused by a variety of diseases, including Parkinson's Disease (PD), fibromyalgia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. And researchers have used SAMe successfully in conjunction with drug and alcohol withdrawal.

Parkinson's Disease (PD)
The incidence of depression in PD patients is about 46%. It is interesting to note that In one recent study, 32% of PD patients had a lifetime history of depression. Unfortunately, there is only one published double-blind, placebo-controlled study on using SAMe for depression in PD patients. That study, conducted in
Italy (where SAMe is manufactured) shows a definite improvement in depressive symptoms. Importantly, SAMe did not affect L-Dopa treatment. (Ed. note: L-Dopa is the precursor to dopamine, which is the standard treatment for PD). The most significant side effect was that three patients complained of elation during the first days of treatment.

L-dopa (the treatment for PD) depletes SAMe. In rodents, SAMe bounces back in the brain after L-dopa, but doesn't in the liver. It has been suggested that L-Dopa may cause damage to organs such as the liver, where SAMe disappears after L-Dopa treatment. This theory has never been proven or disproven.

It has been suggested by one research group that since L-Dopa depletes SAMe, excess SAMe maybe the cause of PD. The researchers attempted to prove their theory by injecting huge amounts of SAMe directly into the brains of rodents so as to produce PD-like symptoms. One problem with the study is that such huge amounts of any substance injected directly into an organ can cause severe damage. Many different substances can create PD symptoms by depleting dopamine in the brain. Manganese chloride is one of those substances. Iron is another. Another is MPTP, which is used by researchers in studies to create PD in animal models.

The one published study on giving SAMe to PD patients does not support the theory that SAMe is detrimental to PD patients. On the contrary, the results of that study show a beneficial effect. The fact that no patient had to increase their dose of L-Dopa suggests that SAMe does not interfere with L-Dopa therapy.

New and exciting research is being published on the real cause of PD. Scientists are once again focusing on the role of serotonin in dopamine production. Researchers at Sandoz have shown that the part of the brain affected by PD-the substantia nigra-contains serotonin-related receptors. This part of the brain is always associated with dopamine, and since the discovery of L-Dopa, research into PD has centered around dopamine. But researchers have shown that serotonin raises dopamine, and dopamine lowers serotonin in certain parts of the brain. This see-saw relationship between serotonin and dopamine ensures that neither substance gets too high. Since dopamine can become toxic to neurons, the interplay between serotonin and dopamine can't be ignored.

L-Dopa and Serotonin
In a recent study from the National Institute of Neuroscience in
Japan, researchers demonstrated that the serotonin inhibitor, para-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA) decreases dopamine activity, which L-Dopa does not restore. However, intravenous serotonin does restore dopamine activity after PCPA therapy. This study implicates a completely new pathway in dopamine production and maintenance that L-Dopa does not affect. It opens a new avenue of PD research. It does not mean that PD patients can cure themselves by taking serotonin- PD is an extremely complicated disease which involves free radicals, among other things-but it does open up exciting possibilities.

Research shows that L-Dopa quits working after about 4 years. Some of the new research on the interaction between dopamine and serotonin seems to indicate that the ultimate failure of L-Dopa may relate to its depletion of serotonin. In a study in Neuroscience Letters in 1993, it was shown that PD patients have significantly decreased levels of dopamine and serotonin in their cerebral spinal fluid. Patients treated with L-dopa have even less serotonin than untreated patients (although they have increased dopamine). The depression that a lot of PD patients have may be a result of the loss of serotonin, both from the disease itself and from L-Dopa treatment. It is important to note that the drug Selegiline (Deprenyl), which is often used in PD patients to keep L-Dopa effective longer, increases serotonin.

The Foundation looks forward to further research into the relationship of dopamine, L-Dopa, serotonin, and SAMe which plays a role in converting serotonin to melatonin, and converts homocysteine to sulfur-related antioxidants.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Fifty-nine RA patients participated in a study to measure the effect of SAMe on depression caused by RA. All the patients were experiencing major depression. They were given 200 mg SAMe per day by injection. Compared to placebo, patients receiving SAMe improved signficantly on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D).

A two-year study involving 108 patients (97 by the end of the study) was published in the American Journal of Medicine in 1987. It not only showed how SAMe alleviates pain, but also how it alleviates depression in people with osteoarthritis. Participants in the study were given 600 mg of SAMe per day the first two weeks, and 400 mg/day thereafter.

Fibromyalgia is one of those mysterious syndromes that can either occur by itself, or accompany other diseases such as lupus and chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome. The main feature of fibromyalgia is persistent pain-not necessarily in the joints, but deep in muscles-that occurs for no apparent reason. The symptoms of fibromyalgia include tenderness at several points of the body. In addition, people with fibromyalgia frequently have fatigue, sleep disturbances, numbness, joint swelling, and other symptoms. It is often treated with tricyclic antidepressants.

It has been suggested by several researchers that SAMe might be a good substitute for tricyclic antidepressants for the treatment of fibromyalgia. Several studies have proven them right. In a study in the Scandanavian Journal of Rheumatology, 800 mg of SAMe per day for six weeks improved "clinical disease activity", pain, and morning stiffness. Mood improved when measured by the Face Scale, but there was no signficant improvement on the Beck Depression Inventory.

An earlier study did find, however, significant improvement on the HAM-D and the Scala di Autovalutazione per la Depressione in 11 of 17 fibromyalgia patients taking SAMe.

Another study compared SAMe to transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Fifteen patients with primary fibromyalgia were given one 200 mg injection of SAMe in the morning, plus a 200 mg tablet at noon and in the evening. The study lasted 6 weeks. During the first 2 weeks, patients in the SAMe group had a significant decrease on two depression scales. During the last 2 weeks, a significant reduction on a third scale occurred. The TENS patients did not do as well. But when 5 of them switched to SAMe, their depression scores also decreased. No side effects were reported.

A study published in Current Therapeutic Research found that a 200 mg injection of SAMe plus 400 mg orally twice a day significantly decreased depression in fibromyalgia patients beginning on day 7. This coincided with a decrease in physical symptoms.

Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer and Other Illnesses
A group in
Italy tested the effects of SAMe on depression caused by different illnesses. Of the 55 patients tested, 40 were inpatients. All patients had moderate-to-major depression. Inpatients were given two 200 mg injections of SAMe. Outpatients took two 400 mg tablets of SAMe for 4 weeks. Besides cardiovascular disease and cancer, patients were suffering from alcohol-related liver disease, insulin-dependent diabetes, posttransfusion hepatitis, obesity, cerebro-vascular disorder, bronchial asthma, viral pneumonia, endocrine diseases, psoriasis, herniated disk, and congenital hip dislocation. Scores on the Beck's Depression Inventory were significantly improved in the patients receiving SAMe. Side effects were minimal, and none of the people treated dropped out of the study because of them.

The authors point out that SAMe may be particularly beneficial in treating depression in heart disease patients because tricylics, MAO inhibitors, and second-generation antidepressants (such as Prozac, etc.) are contraindicated in these patients.

There have been conflicting reports that some heart medications cause depression. In an effort to clear up the controversy, a researcher in Denmark recently reported the results of an analysis he did of 17,636 prescriptions. He found a correlation between angiotensin- converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and prescriptions for anti-depressants. Diltiazem (Cardizem) seemed particularly problematic. People who take these drugs should be aware that they may cause depression.

The Dangers of Antidepressant Drugs
"Six depressed patients free of recent serious suicidal ideation developed intense, violent suicidal preoccupation after 2-7 weeks of fluoxetine (Prozac) treatment. This state persisted for as little as 3 days to as long as 3 months after discontinuation of fluoxetine. None of these patients had ever experienced a similar state during treatment with any other psychotropic drug."

This report, from Harvard Medical School, set off a fire storm that raged in the pages of the American Journal of Psychiatry for two years. The issue of whether or not Prozac causes suicidal impulses is still not settled. One thing is for certain though-antidepressants turn up in drug-related overdoses almost as frequently as sedatives, which are used (along with alcohol) most frequently to overdose. The obvious reason is that people taking antidepressants are more likely to attempt suicide. Another, more subtle, reason is that antidepressants can take 4-6 weeks to work. A study in the British Medical Journal (which set off another fire storm) found that people who had been taking antidepressants for less than 30 days, and people taking high doses (which usually occurs in the beginning of therapy) were more likely to commit suicide.

Studies show that people who overdose on the older, tricyclic antidepressants are more likely to die than those who take the newer selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). This makes Prozac, Paxil and others a safer choice-particularly for older people who can't metabolize the drugs well. The problem is that SSRIs don't work for everyone, and when they do, they sometimes have intolerable side effects.

The side effects of tricyclic antidepressants make up a long list. Dry mouth, weight gain/loss, constipation, blood sugar increase/decrease, insomnia/drowsiness, nausea, and sweating are some of the milder side effects. The SSRIs are noted for their inhibition of libido, anxiety, nausea, heart palpitations, and other central nervous system and gastrointestinal effects.

All antidepressants pose risks of life-threatening events including stroke, heart failure, and liver disease. Tricyclics cause liver damage through inhibition of Cytochrome p450 enzymes which are used by the liver to detoxify drugs. Recently, the MAO inhibitor, moclobemide was accused (in Lancet) of causing fatal liver cholestasis (stoppage of bile). The manufacturer, Hoffmann- La Roche, responded that the death was more likely caused by Prozac, which has been associated with liver abnormalities. The natural anti-depressant, SAMe, has been shown to be liver-protective in numerous studies.

The side effects of antidepressants relate to their interaction with certain receptors. No one knows exactly what antidepressants do to receptors. Furthermore, receptors that respond to antidepressants are located throughout the body-not just in the brain. For example, the gut problems associated with SSRIs probably relate to a serotonin receptor known as 5-HT3 found in the gut. At present, a dozen different types of serotonin receptors have been found-with more on the way. It will be years before scientists understand exactly what antidepressant drugs do in the body.

Patients who have been taking antidepressants for more than two months should never suddenly stop taking them suddently because severe withdrawal reactions have been reported. Garner, et al. reviewed some of the data on withdrawal from tricyclic antidepressants in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Some clinicians believe that withdrawal occurs because antidepressants down-regulate, and possibly reconfigure, receptor sites so that when the drug is removed, the body is left "crippled"-unable to respond with its own biochemicals.

Never combine different types of anti-depressants; anti-depressants and tryptophan; or anti-depressants and SAMe without first consulting a physician.

SAMe causes very few, if any, side effects. It has been given intramuscularly, intravenously, and orally with good results. It has been given to hundreds of patients with different types of depression-including patients debilitated from physical illness. It has been given to recovering drug and alcohol addicts to reduce depression and control drug cravings. Several authors have referred to it as the antidepressant for the '90s. The Foundation agrees. SAMe has everything going for it that an antidepressant should:
The Life Extension Foundation believes that people should try this non-toxic anti-depressant before resorting to more toxic antidepressant drugs. Anyone currently taking antidepressant drugs MUST consult their physician before switching to SAMe. Never discontinue any anti-depressant, or start therapy, without first consulting your physician.

The effective oral dose of SAMe for depression is 800-1600 mg/day. The Foundation recommends that people begin by taking two 400 mg tablets per day-once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. A third tablet should be added at noon, if the depression does not improve within 2 days. A fourth tablet in the evening may be necessary for some people. Severely depressed people have been given 1600 mg from the first day without significant adverse effect beyond dry mouth and nausea.

Cole SA, Woodard JL, Juncos JL, et al.
Depression and disability in Parkinson's Disease. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 8:20-5, 1996.

Bottiglieri T, Hyland K and EH Reyonlds.
The clinical potential of ademetionine (s-adenosylmethionine) in neurological disorders. Drugs 48: 137-152, 1994.

van Kempen GM, Janjua R and RA Roos.
Effect of disease and drug treatment on blood serotonin and monoamine oxidase B activity in Parkinson's Disease. Clin Neurol Neurosurg 97: 131-3, 1995.

Minabe Y, Emorik and CR Ashby Jr.
The depletion of brain serotonin levels by para-chlorophenylalanine administration significantly alters the activity of midbrain dopamine cells in rats: an extracellular single cell recording study. Synapse 22: 46-53, 1996.

Jick SS, Dean AD and H Jick.
Antidepressants and suicide.
BMJ 310: 215-8, 1995.

Teicher MH, Glod C and JO Cole.
Emergence of intense suicidal preoccupation during fluoxetine treatment.
Am J Psychiatry 147: 207-210, 1990.

Mayeux R, Stern Y, Cote L and JB Williams.
Altered serotonin metabolism in depressed patients with Parkinson's disease.
Neurol 34: 642-6.

Hallas J.
Evidence of depression provoked by cardiovascular medication: a prescription sequence symmetry analysis. Epidemiol 7: 478-484, 1996.

Tohgi H, Abe T, Takahashi S, Takahashi J and H Hamato.
Alterations in the concentration of serotonergic and dopaminergic substances in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Parkinson's disease, and their changes after L-dopa administration.
Neurosci Lett 159: 135-8, 1993.

p Abramowski D, Rigo M, Duc D, Hoyer D and M Staufenbiel.
Localization of the 5-hydroxytryptamine 2C receptor protein in human and rat brain using specific antisera. Neuropharm 34: 1635-45, 1995.

Konig B.
A long-term (two years) clinical trial with S-adenosylmethionine for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Am J Med 83(5A): 89-94, 1987.

Tavoni A, Vitali C, Bombardieri S and G Pasero.
The evaluation of S-adenosylmethionine in primary fibromyalgia. A double-blind crossover study.
Am J Med 83(5A): 107-110, 1987.

Jacobsen S, Danneskiold-Samsoe B, Andersen RB.
Oral S-adenosylmethionine in primary fibromyalgia. Double-blind clinical evaluation.
Scand J Rheumatol 20: 294-302, 1991.

Di Benedetto P, Iona LG and V Zidarich.
Clinical evaluation of S-adenosyl-L- methionine versus transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation in primary fibromyalgia. Curr Ther Res 53: 222-229, 1993.

Criconia AM, Araquistain JM, Darrina N, Navajas F and M Bordino.
Results of treatment with S-adensyl-L-methionine in patients with major depression and internal illnesses. Curr Ther Res 55: 666-674, 1994.

Cibin M, Gentile N, Ferri M, et al. S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) is effective in reducing ethanol abuse in an outpatient program for alcoholics. In Kuriyama K, Takada A, Ishii M, eds.
Biomedical and Social Aspects of Alcohol and Alcoholism.
Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1988:357-60.

Lo Russo A, Monaco M, Pani A and D Fontanari.
Efficacy of S-adenosyl-L- Methionine in relieving psychological distress associated with detoxification in opiate abusers. Curr Ther Res 55:905-13.

Grassetto M and A Varotto.
Primary fibromyalgia is responsive to S-adenosyl-l-methionine. Curr Ther Res 55:797-806.

Dollow S.
[Antidepressant-associated fatal intrahepatic cholestasis]. Lancet 347: 1268-69.

Berlanga C, Ortega-Soto HA, Ontiveros M and H Senties.
Efficacy of S-adenosyl-L-methionine in speeding the onset of action of imipramine.
Psychiatry Res 44: 257-62, 1992.

Taylor KM and PK Randall.
Depletion of S-adenosyl-L-methionine in mouse brain by antidepressive drugs.
J Pharmacol Exp Ther 194: 303-10, 1975.

Hietala OA, Laitinen SI, Laitinen PH, Lapinjoki SP and AE Pajunen.
The inverse changes of mouse brain ornithine and S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase activites by chlorpromazine and imipramine. Dependence of ornithine decarboxylase induction on beta-adrenoceptors. Biochem Pharmacol 32: 1581-5, 1983.

LEF Magazine June 1997

Part 3: The Liver Super- Nutrient

The evidence is definitely in. SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) is serious medicine against liver disease. Almost a thousand published studies document the ability of this bioactive form of methionine to prevent and treat liver disorders, including cancer.

SAMe, the amazing "super-nutrient," can single-handedly normalize liver function. How? SAMe is the central player in liver biochemistry. It does two crucial things: It methylates, and it transforms itself into the liver's most vital substance, glutathione.

The liver contains the third highest amount of SAMe in the body, after the adrenal and pineal glands. SAMe is so important for liver function that it can be considered an essential nutrient for that organ. In addition to its many other functions, SAMe plays a leading role in liver regeneration. The liver has special SAMe enzymes just for regenerating tissue.

The liver has a tough job. It has to break down every chemical the body encounters, including drugs. It has to filter blood, chase after bacteria, make bile, and create various other substances such as lipoproteins. In short, there is a reason the liver is the only organ that readily regenerates: It has to.

SAMe is the product of a biochemical reaction between ATP and methionine. Half of all methionine in the body is used in the liver to make SAMe. SAMe has been compared to ATP in its importance for the body. It is used in many different cellular processes, from replication to biochemical reactions that create melatonin and phosphatidylcholine. SAMe is particularly important for the liver because glutathione is synthesized from it. Glutathione is crucial for liver function. A good portion of liver SAMe is turned into glutathione. Glutathione is the liver's natural antioxidant.

SAMe has been isolated from yeast and purified. It is currently sold in Europe as an antidepressant. Many clinical studies have been conducted with this supplemental form of SAMe. It has been used in trials against depression, osteoarthritis and other conditions. Of all the published studies, the ones on the liver are perhaps the most comprehensive.

SAMe And Cirrhosis
The normal liver is a real workhorse. It stores vitamins, manufactures cholesterol, filters bacteria from blood, synthesizes fibrinogen and prothrombin (blood clotters), breaks down toxic biochemicals, synthesizes proteins and bile, and makes glycogen from glucose. The liver has bacteria-killing detoxifying cells called reticuloendothelial cells, which are only found in the liver, lymph nodes and spleen. Liver health is extremely important: What goes on in the liver affects many other body systems. A person with a sick liver is a person in trouble.

Cirrhosis of the liver begins with fatty infiltration, then progresses to an organ full of nodules and ropes of connective tissue. Degeneration and regeneration of tissues also occur. Alcoholism or hepatitis virus usually causes cirrhosis of the liver, but various other conditions also can cause it.

One of the biochemical consequences of cirrhosis is glutathione depletion. Glutathione is a very important antioxidant for the liver. The liver contains lots of fat and mitochondria, both of which generate free radicals. Without sufficient glutathione to quench them, the radicals damage the liver. Much of what is called cirrhosis is actually free radical damage from lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress.

Alcohol breaks down to a product called acetaldehyde, a notorious free-radical producer. Glutathione and cysteine both bind to acetaldehyde to neutralize it. In chronic alcoholism, there is so much free radical damage to "clean up" that the antioxidant system can barely keep up. What results is massive damage to the organ responsible for screening every foreign substance that enters the body.

Cysteine is synthesized along the SAMe biochemical pathway before glutathione is made. Cysteine eventually becomes glutathione. The SAMe byproduct, homocysteine, is the precursor for cysteine. (Note: antioxidant vitamins C and E are partners with glutathione: They work together to maintain levels of each other).

Protection Against Toxins
Study after rat study shows that maintaining SAMe levels protects the liver. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is notorious for causing liver toxicity. In a mouse study, deaths from high doses of acetaminophen were completely abolished if SAMe was given within one hour. If given within five hours, the number of deaths was significantly reduced. Rats treated with tetrachloride develop massive free radical damage very similar to what occurs with alcohol. If the same rats are given SAMe, damaging collagen deposits can be significantly reduced. How does SAMe work? It works by increasing or maintaining glutathione levels. (NOTE: The herb milk thistle is also a great liver protector, probably even better than SAMe)

SAMe's ability to be taken up by human liver cells and converted into glutathione was confirmed by researchers in Spain in 1991. They reported in Toxicology that supplemental SAMe maintains glutathione levels if added at the same time as alcohol (which drastically depletes glutathione).

Although there are hundreds of rodent studies on the protective effects of SAMe on the liver, human studies are scarce. There are two good reasons for this: Liver biopsies are not popular, and SAMe is not patented. Several human studies done outside the U.S. do, however, demonstrate that the rodent studies with SAMe hold up in humans. Some of these were reported in a Drugs supplement entitled "Recent Advances in the Treatment of Liver Diseases," published in 1990.

In a placebo-controlled study in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 16 patients with liver disease (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) were given 1,200 mg of oral SAMe per day for six months. Liver biopsies showed a significant increase in glutathione, and a significant reduction in oxidized glutathione. In the non-alcoholic, liver-damaged subjects, alanine aminotransferase (a liver enzyme indicating damage) was reduced. In a study in which 45 patients with alcoholic liver disease were treated with intravenous SAMe for 15 days, liver function improved significantly. Besides its ability to keep the liver's antioxidant system functioning, SAMe works in other important ways.

SAMe And Fat
The liver is Grand Central Station for molecules that chaperone lipids around the body (lipoproteins). It is the site where very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) and cholesterol are synthesized. Cholesterol is the precursor for important steroid hormones such as estrogen, DHEA, androgens and the glucocorticoids. It also is part of bile, which acts as a natural detergent against dietary fat. Cholesterol has gotten a bad rap; it is actually a very important substance.

Cirrhosis of the liver causes fatty infiltration, in which pools of lipids accumulate in the liver. SAMe can prevent and cure this condition. Rats were the first to experience SAMe's lipid-lowering benefits. In a rodent study in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, SAMe completely prevented fatty liver when given at the same time as alcohol. In a study involving 37 people with fatty liver, hepatitis and cirrhosis, 150 mg of SAMe, I.V., completely obliterated the fat in three patients and substantially reduced it in all others within 15 days. Groups in Italy and a group in Spain confirmed these results.

Not only does SAMe prevent fat from accumulating in the liver, it prevents cirrhosis-related lipid elevation outside the liver. The blood cells in people with cirrhosis have a high cholesterol-to-phospholipid ratio. This causes problems with the way cells function. Kidney problems, bleeding and anemia in cirrhosis patients can be traced to cell membrane problems. How well cells function depends upon how well their membrane functions. Cell membranes need just the right amount of fluidity to function well. Fluidity depends on lipids. Too much cholesterol, and they harden up. Too much phosphatidylcholine, and they spread out like watery pancakes.

People with liver disease have too much cholesterol in their cell membranes. A group in England has shown that SAMe dramatically reduces cholesterol. The cholesterol-to-phospholipid ratio decreased substantially in the erythrocytes of people with liver disease two weeks after they were treated with oral SAMe (1,600 mg). SAMe has been shown to decrease cholesterol in plasma as well. Thirteen patients with hyperlipidemia were given 30-minute infusions of SAMe. Total lipids and cholesterol fell significantly.

The Cancer Connection
It is thought that alterations in the liver caused by alcohol, toxins and diseases can eventually cause cancer. In 1988, a group in
Spain discovered that people with cirrhosis have deficiencies of two important enzymes that convert methionine to SAMe, and form phospholipids (S-adenosylmethionine synthetase and phospholipid methyltransferase). Important discoveries recently have been published about SAMe synthetase and cancer. Researchers at the University of Southern California report that liver cancer cells are totally lacking in liver-specific SAMe synthetase. The genes for this enzyme are completely turned off in liver cancer patients.

A group at the Institute of Biomedical Investigation in Spain reported a second discovery about SAMe synthetase and cancer. They found that the immune substance interleukin-2 (IL-2) turns on the SAMe synthetase gene in T-cells. IL-2 is necessary for the growth of immune cells that fight viruses and cancer. Look for more research on this important enzyme in the near future as the role it plays in liver cancer is uncovered.

Many of the chemicals used to induce cancer in lab animals work by inhibiting SAMe. SAMe's role as a methyl donor is critical in preventing cancer (a methyl group is a biochemical entity that catalyzes important biochemical reactions in the body). The liver appears to be particularly sensitive to under-methylation.

It is well established that methyl deficiency produces liver cancer in rodents. The sequence of events has been shown in numerous studies. Methyl deficiency causes a reduction in SAMe levels, and an elevation in S-adenosylmethionine homocysteine (SAH). SAH is what's left over after SAMe donates a methyl group for biochemical reactions. An enzyme, SAH hydrolase, turns SAH into homocysteine. Homocysteine can be toxic if it builds up within the body, but is converted into cysteine (and eventually glutathione) if enough SAMe is present.

If SAMe is super-deficient, nothing gets converted, and SAH and homocysteine back up like a clogged drain. This is when cancer gets its toehold. A low SAMe-to-SAH ratio is step-one in the development of liver cancer. Maintaining SAMe can reverse the early changes in the process.

Certain genes must be methylated in order to keep cancer from starting. Under-methylation causes cancer. This very straightforward process is apparent in rodent models. After five weeks of a methyl-deficient diet, rats show cell changes. By the ninth week, transcripts of protooncogene genes (cancer genes c-myc and c-ras) start accumulating. It is downhill from there.

Cancer Cells Run Wild
Cancer suppressor genes also are adversely affected by under-methylation. Researchers at the FDA's
National Center for Toxicological Research have conducted research showing how under-methylation affects the p53 tumor suppressor gene. They have found that rats fed a diet deficient in SAMe precursors (methionine, choline and folic acid) accumulate DNA strand breaks in certain areas of the p53 gene within days. (They also discovered areas of the p53 gene that are resistant to under-methylation). DNA strand breaks translate into a defective or non-functioning p53 protein. Without p53 to stop them, some types of cancer cells will run wild.

The prevention of liver disease is just as important as the prevention of heart disease and cancer. Like these two killers, liver diseases can be prevented by simple yet very effective dietary means. No person escapes liver damage. We are constantly assaulted by chemicals in air and water, pharmaceutical drugs, radiation, pesticides, hormones and drugs in meat, fungicides on grains, bacteria, parasites and other entities. The liver must deal with all of them on a daily basis. It generates a massive amount of free radicals during detoxification. Helping the liver is one of the simplest and most important things persons can do for their health. It is very likely that many diseases in other organs begin when the liver can't do its job.

It is not surprising that aging has an effect on liver function. A lifetime of insults takes its toll. Older people metabolize drugs differently than younger people. Their livers can't keep up. Alcohol and viruses can damage an elderly person's liver in months as opposed to years. Methylation of genes declines in older people, making cancer far more likely. Mitochondrial function declines, and lipid peroxidation increases. Glutathione levels decline, and levels of glutathione-related enzymes decline. If an older rat is fed a high cholesterol diet, cholesterol will show up in its plasma, whereas it won't in a younger rat. Changes in the way the liver synthesizes and handles lipoproteins is probably responsible for this.

A study on apolipoprotein A1 ("apo" refers to the non-lipid part of the lipoprotein) indicates that lipid-related hormone receptors get faulty in old age. It also has been shown that the types of lipids within lipoproteins change in aging livers.

Free radical damage increases in old age. Researchers have not settled whether aging causes an increase in free radical production or causes a decline in free radical scavengers. Studies on aging livers show both. One thing is certain, however: Free radicals damage DNA, and damaged DNA makes defective proteins, which lead to cells that don't function properly.

While all the pieces of the liver puzzle have yet to be worked out, there is good evidence that SAMe is a major player in liver health. Maintaining optimal SAMe levels is probably the most important thing a person can do for his liver. SAMe increases glutathione, and glutathione counteracts liver damage, whatever the cause. SAMe is also important in the synthesis of proteins having to do with lipids that ultimately affect heart function (lipoproteins).

Other Liver Conditions Respond To SAMe
It seems that almost any liver disease can be improved with SAMe therapy. Cholestasis is a condition of insufficient bile. While this problem is not making headlines, it can, nonetheless, be a serious problem. Among the usual causes of cholestasis are estrogen-replacement therapy, birth control pills, certain drugs (including antidepressants) and pregnancy. Cholestasis can lead to gallstones or even death. Studies show that SAMe protects against cholestasis at an oral dose of 600 to 800 mg per day.

A similar condition, biliary obstruction, can cause the same kind of liver damage as cirrhosis. Biliary obstruction occurs when bile ducts leading from the liver to the small intestine become blocked. In 1994, The Journal of Hepatology published a study that is nothing short of amazing. Biliary obstruction was surgically-induced in rats, which caused collagen deposition, mitochondrial disorganization, glycogen depletion, and lipid peroxidation...all of the hallmarks of cirrhosis. When rats were given SAMe, not only were these symptoms prevented, but also glycogen went up, and bilirubin went down.

Since SAMe is the bioactive form of methionine, the question arises whether persons with liver disease or cancer can elevate SAMe in their liver by taking methionine. Unfortunately they can't. People with cirrhosis have impaired SAMe synthetase. People with liver cancer have no liver-specific SAMe synthetase. No matter how much methionine a person with liver disease takes, it will not be converted into SAMe without this crucial enzyme. And without SAMe, liver-protective glutathione cannot be synthesized!

What about taking glutathione? Some studies show that glutathione is bioavailable as an oral supplement; others show that it is not. Certain types of undenatured whey have been reported to elevate glutathione in rodents. A study in mice showed that an undenatured whey protein supplement enhanced liver and heart glutathione levels, and increased longevity. (Liver glutathione levels show up in the plasma part of blood, where they can be measured.) While increasing levels of glutathione through supplementation is desirable, glutathione alone cannot do the job that SAMe and glutathione do together in the liver. Glutathione is a hard worker, but SAMe performs many tasks, including synthesizing important enzymes. And while there are no published studies showing that supplemental glutathione prevents or cures liver disease, there are many published reports on the benefits of SAMe for liver disease.

What About Betaine? Trimethylglycine (TMG or anhydrous betaine, not to be confused with betaine hydrochloride which is used as a digestive aid) is a substance made from beet sugar that increases SAMe levels. Drs. Anthony J. Barak, Harriet C. Beckenhauer and Dean J. Tuma of the VA Medical Center in Omaha have done extensive testing of betaine in alcoholic rats. They have shown that rats compensate for impaired SAMe synthetase by making SAMe through the betaine pathway, an alternative to the methionine-plus-ATP route which depends upon SAMe synthetase. Their studies show that betaine at about 15 grams per day prevents fatty liver in alcoholic rats.

According to Barak, alcohol causes a 30 to 40 percent increase in fat in the liver. He believes that it is the oxidation of this fat that causes the extensive liver damage seen in alcoholism. Increasing levels of SAMe through betaine protects the liver two ways: It reduces fatty infiltration and provides the ingredients to make the free radical quencher glutathione.

Dr. Barak's group is in the process of getting human studies underway to determine whether betaine can prevent and reverse fatty liver in humans. Luckily for the participants, his group has devised a way to get the lab tests they need without subjecting people to liver biopsies, which Dr. Barak likens to being stabbed with a sword.

The Liver Super-Nutrient
SAMe is the liver super-nutrient. Nothing comes close to providing the spectrum of health benefits that SAMe provides for the liver. Based on published clinical trials, elevating SAMe levels can have a powerful effect on many conditions. As a preventive agent, SAMe is so powerful that it can reverse the effects of chemicals and alcohol as they occur. Studies show that low SAMe levels create the conditions for liver cancer, and that SAMe can prevent these conditions from occurring. Anyone concerned about the effects of drugs, chemicals, alcohol and aging on their livers should look into the benefits of SAMe.

For Further Reading:
Vendemiale G, Altomare E, Trizio T, et al. 1989.
Effects of oral S-adenosyl-L-methionine on hepatic glutathione in patients with liver disease.
Scand J Gastroenterol 24: 407-14.

Corrales F, Ochoa P, Rivas C, et al. 1991.
Inhibition of glutathione synthesis in the liver leads to S-adenosyl-L-methionine synthetase reduction.
Hepatol 14: 528-33.

Duce AM, Ortiz P, Cabrero C and JM Mato. 1988.
S-adenosyl-L-methioninesynthetase and phospholipid methyltransferase are inhibited in human cirrhosis.
Hepatol 8: 65-8.

Tobena R, Horikawa S, Calvo V and S Alemany. 1996.
Interleukin-2 induces gamma-S-adenosyl-L-methionine synthetase gene expression during T-lymphocyte activation.
Biochem J 319: 929-33.

Diaz Belmont A, Dominguez Henkel R and F Uribe Ancira. 1996.
SAMe Parenteral en el tratamiento de la hepatopatia alcoholica comparative contra placebo.
Anales de Medicine Inter 13: 9-15.

Rafique S, Guardascione M, Osman E, et al. 1992.
Reversal of extrahepatic membrane cholesterol deposition in patients with chronic liver diseases by S-adenosyl-L-methioinine.
Clin Sci 83: 3535-6.

Frezza M, Tritapepe R, Pozzato G and C DiPadova. 1988.
Prevention by S-adenosylmethionine of estrogen-induced hepatobiliary toxicity in susceptible women. Am J Gastroenterol 83: 1098-1102.

Pascale RM, Simile MM and F Feo. 1993.
Genomic abnormalities in hepatocarcinogenesis.
Implications for a chemopreventive strategy.
Anticancer Res 13: A1341-56.

Simile MM, Pascale R, De Miglio MR, et al. 1994.
Correlation between S-adenosyl-L-methionine content and production of c-myc, c-Ha-ras, and c-Ki-ras mRNA transcripts in the early stages of rat liver carcinogenesis.
Cancer Lett 79: 9-15.

Wainfain E and LA Poirier. 1992.
Methyl groups in carcinogenesis: Effects on DNA methylation and gene expression.
Cancer Res 52 (7 Suppl):2071s-2077s.

Barak AJ, Beckenhauer HC and DJ Tuma. 1994.
S-adenosylmethionine generation and prevention of alcoholic fatty liver by betaine.
Alcohol 11: 501-3.

SAMe Part 4:
Treatment for Arthritis
Possibly the Safest, Most Effective
Treatment Ever Discovered

Note to Readers: This is Part 4 of an ongoing series on the use of S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) for health and longevity. We were initially skeptical that one product could have such diverse health effects. It was only when we discovered that SAMe is utilized by almost every cell in the body that we understood how it could have so many different effects.

SAMe is the activated form of methionine. It has been compared to ATP in importance. According to one authority, "the only known methyl group transfer that does not involve SAMe is the synthesis of methionine itself." Because it has so many actions in different parts of the body, SAMe can have a lot of health benefits that seem unrelated, but in fact all depend on SAMe.

Research shows that SAMe is a treatment* - for arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, 15.8 million Americans have osteoarthritis. Another 2.1 million have rheumatoid arthritis, and 3.7 million have fibromyalgia. These and other rheumatoid diseases cost over $50 billion a year in lost wages and treatments. Osteoarthritis is one of the most prevalent causes of disability not only in the U.S. but worldwide. After age 65, a person can almost count on having some degree of osteoarthritis or osteoporosis (luckily, the two may be mutually exclusive).

The standard treatment for arthritis hasn't changed in decades: aspirin, steroids, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), gold treatments, immune-suppressing drugs, exercise and weight loss, walking sticks and surgery. Anyone who has tried them knows they sometimes work, but none of them is a panacea. Now, however, better treatment is at hand.

New Research

Three exciting new studies are out about arthritis. They not only help unravel the underlying processes, they also shed light on the biochemical underpinnings of SAMe. Although arthritis is usually thought of as a cartilage disease, researchers at the University of Bristol have discovered that bone is also involved. An enzyme that degrades collagen is breaking down the lattice network inside bone called "cancellous bone". Incredibly, researchers found that the thick part of the bone near the joint is breaking down faster in osteoarthritis patients than in osteoporosis patients.

The second study concerns free radicals and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers in the Netherlands have discovered that the synovial fluid in rheumatoid arthritis patients contains non-functioning T-cells. The deficit is caused by a lack of interleukin-2 (IL-2), a cytokine crucial for T-cell activation. Free radicals are to blame, although all the science hasn't been worked out. However researchers did find that N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) restores T-cell activity. (NAC naturally elevates the body's antioxidant, glutathione).

A third study was recently published in the British Journal of Rheumatology. Researchers demonstrated for the first time that S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) reverses the effects of a different, deleterious cytokine in synovial cells. Damage caused by tumor necrosis factor (TNF) was reversed when SAMe was added to cells at the same time as TNF.

Researchers theorize that SAMe, like NAC, protects synovial cells by reversing glutathione depletion. (SAMe is naturally converted to cysteine in the body). But in addition to its antioxidant protection, they believe SAMe has other important effects. It may protect synovial cells by blocking the enzymes that degrade cartilage. This would occur through its role in the polyamine pathway that leads to protein synthesis. It may also protect important cartilage proteins called "proteoglycans" by lowering homocysteine levels.


Osteoarthritis is a localized disorder, while rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic autoimmune disease. Both are predominantly female diseases, with two-thirds of osteoarthritis sufferers being female. The first symptoms of osteoarthritis usually occur in middle-age or later, whereas rheumatoid arthritis may strike someone in their 20s or 30s. Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with inflammation in the joints, and osteoarthritis is mostly associated with joint degeneration. Sometimes called "degenerative joint disease", osteoarthritis is far more prevalent than rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that most people in their 60s have some degree of osteoarthritis, although they may not have symptoms.

Almost all of the arthritis studies done with SAMe involve osteoarthritis. In the test tube, SAMe increases the number of chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and proteoglycans (protein). This suggests that SAMe treatment may reverse the underlying process of osteoarthritis by stimulating cartilage to grow. Cartilage acts like a spongy cushion where bone meets bone at the joint. In osteoarthritis, this cushion gradually disintegrates.

The other main component of the joint is synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant. The cancer-killing cytokine, TNF, has been found in the synovial fluid of people with rheumatoid arthritis, and it plays a role in bone and cartilage destruction. Until recently, scientists did not know the effects of SAMe on synovial fluid. As mentioned above, it was recently discovered that SAMe reverses the damaging effects of TNF.

In 1987, the American Journal of Medicine published a series of articles on the use of SAMe for treating osteoarthritis. The company that manufactures SAMe provided it for the studies, which were spread out among numerous physicians and clinics (in one case, 33 different medical centers). The studies confirmed that SAMe works as well as the most popular treatments on the market. The series is published under the title "Osteoarthritis: The Clinical Picture, Pathogenesis, and Management with studies on a New Therapeutic Agent, S-Adenosylmethionine".

Ten years earlier, studies had been done in Italy showing the benefits of SAMe. One of the studies involved more than 20,000 patients. This large-scale trial lasted two months. Participants were not allowed to take any pain medication or other arthritis treatment during the study. Doctors found that patients taking SAMe improved steadily from the beginning. At the end of the study, about 80% of the people who took SAMe reported improvement. Seventy percent of the people with the most severe knee pain improved significantly. Side effects were minimal, and only 2.3% of the group stopped taking it because it didn't work. The most severe side effect reported was gastrointestinal upset.

SAMe, Aspirin and the Gut

The gastrointestinal upset sometimes caused by SAMe in high doses is different from that caused by aspirin and NSAIDs. The latter can damage the mucosal lining of the stomach and cause life-threatening gastrointestinal bleeding. NSAIDs and aspirin work by inhibiting "bad" prostaglandins which promote inflammation, pain, and free radicals. Although inhibiting prostaglandins in joints relieves the symptoms of arthritis, it creates problems in the gut where the same prostaglandins are beneficial. Unfortunately these pain killers are not selective. If a person takes them long enough or in high enough doses, they can end up with holes in the lining of their stomach. The only thing standing between killer stomach acid and the stomach is the mucosal lining.

SAMe does not affect the gut in the same way. The upset stomach that SAMe sometimes causes is probably due to its effect on the brain rather than the stomach - much like motion sickness which affects the stomach indirectly through the vomiting center of the brain.

The drop-out rate of SAMe trials on osteoarthritis has been very low. In a two-year study involving 108 patients, only 2 people dropped out the first year, and 9 in the second. More than 90% of the physicians and 85% of the patients in that study rated SAMe therapy as "good" or "very good". Patients' moods improved too. Other studies show that SAMe alleviates depression caused by organic diseases, including osteoarthritis. The mechanism of action in depression is unknown.

Clinical Trials

Several double-blind studies have compared SAMe with NSAIDs. The first compared people who took 1200 mg of SAMe with people who took 1200 mg of ibuprofen for four weeks. Both therapies gave an overall improvement in symptoms of about 50%. Both were well-tolerated, and no one dropped out of the study.

In an earlier study, SAMe relieved "active movement pain" better than ibuprofen (1200 mg each), with other parameters being about the same. Side effects were better with SAMe. Sixteen ibuprofen patients experienced side effects versus 5 for SAMe. Again, there were no drop-outs due to side effects.

Another study compared SAMe to indomethacin. (Indomethacin was recently rated the most effective NSAID, while at the same time causing the most side effects). Again, improvement was almost identical, with SAMe causing fewer side effects (11% versus 39%).

Comparison with naproxen was similar. More than 700 people took part in a 30-day, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. At the end of the trial, SAMe was rated almost as well as the drug by both physicians and patients, although it took SAMe longer to be effective. This is similar to another study where SAMe's effects increased over time.


Fibromyalgia is a kind of mystery disease. No one knows what causes it. The basic symptoms are pain in muscles and bones, plus fatigue. Other symptoms include disturbed sleep and depression. Doctors diagnose it by pressing on various parts of the body. Lab tests for fibromyalgia can look perfectly normal unless special muscle testing is done. Fibromyalgia can occur by itself or as part of another disease. The Arthritis Foundation considers it a type of arthritis.

In 1987, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study was done on 17 people with fibromyalgia not complicated by any other disease. Five participants had suffered from it for 10 years or longer. Researchers found that SAMe reduced pain and caused no major side effects.

In a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, 44 fibromyalgia patients took 800 mg of SAMe for 6 weeks. Results showed that SAMe reduced pain at the tender points, as well as fatigue, morning stiffness and resting pain. Being free of pain apparently put people in a better mood: they chose more "happy faces" in psychological tests.


Taking SAMe for Arthritis

Clinical trials have proven that SAMe works for fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. New data indicates it may help rheumatoid arthritis patients. It alleviates pain as well as NSAIDs, without the side effects. Not only does it work as well as NSAIDs, it may protect against the side effects these drugs cause. SAMe works somewhat differently than glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate which are building blocks for cartilage and potential enzyme modulators. In this regard, it may turn out to be the perfect compliment to these therapies. Although the story is not complete, SAMe apparently counteracts cytokines, protects cartilage, inhibits destructive free radicals, and may reverse the effects of homocysteine on cartilage and/or inhibit enzymes. In clinical trials, SAMe alleviated pain and improved mood.

Based on data from published studies, 600 to 1200 mg of SAMe should be taken per day to start. If gastrointestinal upset occurs, SAMe should be reduced by half, then gradually increased again. In a long-term study, patients were given 600 mg of SAMe per day for the first two weeks, then 400 mg daily. In other studies, patients were consistently given 1200 mg of SAMe from day one. People taking SAMe should experiment with the 400-1200 mg range to find the best dose for them. Several studies indicate that it may take several weeks or months forSAMe to achieve its full effect. SAMe is a substance whichis naturally made in the body. No serious side effects have ever been reported with SAMe, even in high doses administered intravenously.

Further Reading

Gutierrez S, et al. SAMe restores the changes in the proliferation and in the synthesis of fibronectin and proteoglycans induced by tumor necrosis factor alpha on cultured rabbit synovial cells. Brit Rheumatol 37: 27-31, 1997

Mansell JP, et al. Biochemical eveidence for altered subchondral bone collagen metabolism in osteoarthritis of the hip. Brit J Rheumatol 36:16-19, 1197

Osteoarthritis: the clinical picture, pathogenesis and management with studies on a new therapeutic agent, S-adenosylmethionine. Am J Med 83 (Suppl 5A) 1987 (Includes Numerous Studies).

Marcolongo R, et al. Double-blind multicentre study of activity of S-adenosylmethionine in hip and knee osteoarthritis. Curr Ther Res 37: 82-94

Tavoni A. et al Evaluation of S-adenosylmethionine in primary fibromyaglia: a double blind crossover study. Am J Med 83 (Suppl 5A): 107-110, 1987

Jacobsen S, et al Oral S-adenosylmethionine in primary fibroyaglia. Double-blind clinical evaluation. Scand J Rheumatol 20: 294-302, 1991

Fassbender HG, Role of chondrocytes in the development of osteoarthritis. Am J Med 83 (Suppl 5A):17-24, 1987



Lithium Orotate: The forgotten natural lithium we could all benefit from

Below are 3 very interesting articles, all written by M.D.s, extolling the benefits of natural lithium, in the form of lithium orotate or lithium aspartate. This form of lithium is quite safe and requires no prescription or periodic blood tests. It was discovered in the drinking water in a region in Texas, where crime and mental illness were noticeably low. Natural lithium has been found to be very protective of the brain from the toxic effects of drugs, contaminants, etc., and also may offer protection from Alzheimer’s. If not available in your local health store, it can be found on the internet at such locations as www.iherb.com.


The Misunderstood Mineral Part 1

By Jonathan V. Wright, M.D.
(Reprinted From "Nutrition and Healing")

Think young into your 90s with this anti-aging secret for your brain

The biggest problem with lithium treatment is people's perception of it. Since its most well known use is for bi-polar disorder, lithium sometimes encounters the same stigma as mental illness itself.

I've been taking a lithium supplement every day for several years. When I tell people about it, they sometimes get funny looks on their faces and start eyeing the corners of the room for straight jackets. These reactions don't surprise me, since, as I said, lithium is usually associated with mental illness. But I've never suffered from a mental disorder (although certain mainstream medical doctors and possibly a federal agency or two might disagree). Treating manic-depressive (bi-polar) illness is lithium's most widely known use--but it isn't an anti-psychotic drug, as many people believe. In fact, lithium isn't a drug at all. It's actually a mineral-part of the same family of minerals that includes sodium and potassium.

You might remember reading several editions of Health e-Tips a few months ago that discussed various benefits of lithium. In addition to the benefits mentioned in the e-Tips, like controlling gout and relieving rashes caused by sebhorric dermatitis, lithium also has some great brain-boosting effects. In fact, I've reviewed both recent lithium research and the research spanning the past few decades, and I'm convinced that lithium is an anti-aging nutrient for human brains. And there are also some very strong reasons to believe that lithium therapy will slow the progression of serious degenerative mental problems, including Alzheimer's disease, senile dementia, and Parkinson's disease.

So there are obviously quite a few "pros" to using lithium, but you're probably wondering about the "cons." In the 1930s and '40s, lithium chloride was sold in stores as a salt substitute. But (as frequently happens) some people used way too much and suffered toxic overdoses, so it fell out of common use. Fortunately, lithium toxicity is entirely preventable, and it's also easily treatable if it ever does occur — but more about that later. Right now, let's get into some of the specifics on just how you (and your brain) can benefit from lithium.

Taking (grey) matters into your own hands

Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie's famous fictional detective, had an amusing quirk in his incessant concern for his "little grey cells." I thought of Hercule several years ago when I saw the following headline in an issue of the Lancet: "Lithium-induced increase in human brain grey matter."

That may not sound like an earth-shattering piece of news, but it actually was quite a major discovery. To that point, medical experts believed that once our brains matured, it was all downhill from then on. Decades of autopsies, x-rays, and, more recently, brain scans have repeatedly shown that brains shrink measurably with aging. But according to their report in the Lancet, Wayne State University (Detroit) researchers found that lithium has the ability to both protect and renew brain cells.1 Eight of 10 individuals who took lithium showed an average 3 percent increase in brain grey matter in just four weeks.

Lithium may help to generate entirely new cells too: Another group of researchers recently reported that lithium also enhances nerve cell DNA replication.2 DNA replication is a first step in the formation of a new cell of any type.

The Wayne State study used high-dose lithium, but I'm certainly not using that amount myself, nor do I recommend it. Prescription quantities of lithium just aren't necessary for "everyday" brain cell protection and re-growth. Studies done years ago have shown that very low amounts of lithium can also measurably influence brain function for the better.

Protect yourself from brain damage you didn't even know you had

Aside from boosting brain mass, recent research also shows that lithium can help protect your brain from the "beating" it gets in the course of everyday life. Your brain cells are constantly at risk of damage from exposure to toxins of all sorts-even ones produced by your own body. Toxic molecules are formed naturally during the course of normal brain metabolism.3-7 Since these "normal" toxic molecules (sometimes called "excitotoxins") are produced every day of your life, eventually they start to wear down or erode away brain mass.

Another well-known cause of brain cell injury is overactivated N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Lithium can inhibit this overactivity.8 And lithium also increases production of a major brain protective protein called "bcl-2" in both human and animal brain cells.9

So it appears that lithium can protect against normal brain erosion and shrinkage that would otherwise occur over the course of our lives. But lithium also protects the brain from other less "normal" problems too, like damage caused by prescription medications and strokes.

When a clot or other obstruction occurs in a blood vessel serving the brain, it causes a reduction of blood flow to that area. If it's bad enough, the lack of blood flow will cause a stroke and death of brain cells. (This type of stroke is known as an ischemic stroke.) Research in experimental animals with deliberately induced ischemic strokes has shown that lithium reduces the areas of cell death.10,11

In one of these studies, researchers blocked a brain artery in rats. Some were pre-treated with lithium for 16 days, the rest weren't. The researchers reported that the lithium-treated rats experienced 56 percent less cell death and significantly fewer neurologic deficits than the control rats.12

And sometimes medications designed to treat other problems end up having a negative impact on the brain. For example, anti-convulsant medications cause abnormal levels of brain cell death. But lithium significantly protects against this type of cell death-so much so that this effect has been called "robust" (a term scientists use to mean "It really works!").13

In fact, based on its general neuroprotective effect, researchers have recently suggested that "the use of lithium as a neurotrophic/neuroprotective agent should be considered in the long term treatment of mood disorders, irrespective of the 'primary' treatment modality being used for the condition."14 Translation: Lithium should be used along with any patent medicine being used for depression, anxiety, or any other "mood-altering" reason, since it will protect brain cells against their unwanted toxic effects. The researchers didn't say so, but I will: Any list of "mood altering substances" should include alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, "uppers," "downers," and-for those who do inhale-marijuana. Harmless as some of them might seem, these substances can cause brain damage with medium to long-term abuse.

Keeping your brain's lines of communication open -and healthy

Scientists determine how healthy brain cells are by measuring levels of a molecule called N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA). A decrease in NAA is thought to reflect decreased nerve cell viability, decreased function, or even nerve cell loss.15 In a study of 19 research volunteers given four weeks of lithium, 14 experienced a significant increase in NAA, one had no change, and four had a small decrease.16

Now, what about the interaction between those new, protected, healthy brain cells? Communication between brain cells and networks of brain cells is called "signaling." And lithium is actually necessary for at least two signal-carrying pathways.17 Researchers have also reported that lithium may help to repair abnormally functioning signaling pathways in critical areas of the brain.18

Lithium and Alzheimer's: New hope for a "hopeless" situation

As you know, there's no cure for Alzheimer's disease and there's very little available for patients (and families) that can offer even partial relief from the turmoil it causes. So when new treatments are developed or discovered, it's usually big news -a ray of hope for people stuck in a seemingly hopeless situation. One of these newly developed patent medications, called Memantine,(tm) was recently approved in Europe. Even though it's not officially "approved" in this country (yet), thousands of people are already importing Memantine to the U.S. via various Internet sources. But why go through all the trouble (not to mention risk) of getting and using this new patent formula? Apparently, it "works" by protecting brain cells against damage caused by a major excitotoxin, glutamate. But protecting against glutamate-induced nerve cell damage is also one of the well-known actions of lithium. So if it's true that this newly approved patent medication slows the progress of Alzheimer's disease in this way, then lithium should slow Alzheimer's disease progression, too. Of course, lithium treatment, which isn't patentable and doesn't have nearly the profit potential of patented Alzheimers medications, hasn't made any headlines. But that doesn't mean it isn't a promising option for patients struggling with Alzheimer's disease.

There are many other research findings that also strongly suggest that lithium will protect against potential Alzheimer's disease and slow the progression of existing cases. Researchers have reported that lithium inhibits beta-amyloid secretion, and also prevents damage caused by beta-amyloid protein once it's been formed.20-23 Beta-amyloid peptide is a signature protein involved in Alzheimer's disease: the more beta-amyloid protein, the worse the Alzheimer's becomes.

Overactivation of a brain cell protein called tau protein also contributes to neuronal degeneration in Alzheimer's disease, as does the formation of neurofibrillary tangles Lithium inhibits both of these nerve-cell damaging problems.24,25

And you've likely read that individuals with Alzheimer's disease usually have excess aluminum accumulation in brain cells. While it's not yet known whether this excess aluminum is a cause, an effect, or just coincidental, most health-conscious individuals take precautions to avoid ingesting aluminum. Unfortunately, it's impossible to completely avoid all aluminum, since it's naturally present in nearly all foods. But lithium can help protect your brain against aluminum by helping to "chelate" it so that it can be more easily removed from the body.25

Although Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia aren't technically the same, they do share many of the same degenerative features so there's every reason to expect that lithium will help prevent or slow the progression of senile dementia too.

A younger, healthier brain with just one small dose a day

As I mentioned earlier, some of these studies used rather high doses of lithium. And in some instances, as in the case of manic depression, doses as high as 90 to 180 milligrams of elemental lithium from 900 to 1800 milligrams of lithium carbonate are necessary. Quantities of lithium in that range must be monitored closely to guard against overdose and toxicity.

But you really don't need large amounts to improve your "every-day" brain function. Studies have repeatedly shown that substantially lower amounts of lithium can significantly improve brain function (as reflected in behavior).

The amounts of lithium I recommend for brain anti-aging range from 10 to 20 milligrams (from lithium aspartate or lithium orotate) daily. I've actually been recommending these amounts since the 1970s. At first I was exceptionally cautious and asked all of my patients taking lithium to have regular "lithium level" blood tests and thyroid function tests. After a year or so, I quit asking for the lithium level blood tests, since 100 percent of them came back very low. Another year after that, I stopped requesting routine thyroid function tests, too, only doing one when I was suspicious of a potential problem. In the 30 years since, I've rarely found one.

Protect your brain starting today--no prescription necessary

High-dose lithium is available only by prescription. But low-dose lithium (capsules or tablets containing 5 milligrams of lithium from lithium aspartate or lithium orotate) is available from a few natural food stores and compounding pharmacies, as well as from the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary.

If you're interested in keeping your brain as young as possible for as long as possible, you should definitely consider lithium therapy. Review this information with your physician...but make sure he is skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine!

A sneak peek at even more lithium secrets

In Part 2, I'll review lithium's many other effects-from preventing anorexia to relieving cluster headaches, to lowering blood sugar (and that's just to name a few!). I think you'll be surprised at just how versatile this misunderstood mineral can be.

In the meantime, if you'd like to read the Health e-Tips on lithium (or to sign up to begin receiving these free e-mail updates), visit the Nutrition & Healing website at www.wrightnewsletter.com.


The Misunderstood Mineral Part 2

By Jonathan V. Wright, M.D.
(Reprinted From "Nutrition and Healing")

Lithium fights crime and some of your most nagging health concerns

Turns out it's not only the strict use of the death penalty lowering crime rates in some areas of Texas. And while I'm sure "Dubya" would be quick to take credit, it's not stricter laws or changes in sentencing guidelines either. Using 10 years of data accumulated from 27 Texas counties, researchers found that the incidence of homicide, rape, burglary, and suicide, as well as other crimes and drug use, were significantly lower in counties whose drinking water supplies contained 70-170 micrograms of lithium per liter than those with little or no lithium in their water.

The researchers wrote: "These results suggest that lithium at low dosage levels has a generally beneficial effect on human behavior...increasing the human lithium intakes by supplementation, or the lithiation [adding lithium] of drinking water is suggested as a possible means of crime, suicide, and drug-dependency reduction at the individual and community level."

And that's not to mention all of the lithium health benefits we went over in Part 1: It may be useful in treating Alzheimer's disease, senile dementia, and possibly Parkinson's disease. Lithium not only protects brain cells against normal wear and tear, but also offers additional protection against a whole variety of toxic molecules, including patent medications. It can also promote brain cell regeneration and increase brain cell mass. In essence, the research suggests that lithium is a brain anti-aging nutrient.

All of these results are every bit as good as (if not better than) the data that led to dumping toxic waste (fluoride) into so many public water supplies. So why haven't public health and safety "authorities" been pushing for further intensive research on water-borne lithium and criminal behavior?

I'm certainly not in favor of the government adding anything to pure drinking water. But if it insists on forcibly mass-medicating us through our water supply (a thoroughly un-American concept I'm 100 percent against no matter what the added substance is), why haven't they considered adding something that might actually do some real good for people's health and safety? Isn't the possibility of reducing homicide, suicide, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, mental hospital admissions, and drug addiction related arrests just as important as the possibly of preventing tooth decay?

Call me pessimistic, but I suspect lithium is still being ignored because no huge, politically connected industry has enormous quantities of lithium-containing waste lying around. (In the 1940s, that's exactly how water fluoridation began, by using up huge quantities of fluoride-containing toxic waste generated by the politically connected aluminum industry.)

But if there's one thing we all know about the U.S. government, it's that we shouldn't wait for the people running it to do anything to help us, especially when we can help ourselves. So today let's go over a few more of lithium's benefits and I'll tell you how you can help yourself to this valuable mineral right now.

Lithium tackles another addiction

In 30 years of nutritionally oriented practice, I've been told by many alcoholics and their relatives that low-dose lithium can be very helpful for both alcoholism and associated mood disorders. For "practicing" alcoholics, I recommend a trial of lithium orotate, 10 milligrams three times daily (along with diet advice, niacin, glutamine, and other supplements). I ask recovering alcoholics to try 5 milligrams, three times daily (occasionally more). The majority of these patients report improved mood and decreased desire for alcohol after about six weeks using lithium therapy.

According to one review article in the British Journal of Addiction, "both controlled and uncontrolled experiments show that symptoms of both alcoholism and affective disturbance are reduced in patients treated with lithium."2 (All of the studies reviewed used high dose prescription lithium.)

I also often recommend direct blood relatives of alcoholics (parents, children, or siblings) consider a trial of lithium orotate, 5 milligrams two or three times daily, even if they have never noticed a mood problem. I explain that this is a "personal clinical trial," and a safe one, that they can discontinue in six to eight weeks if they don't feel a difference. I also ask that the individual discuss this personal clinical trial with their husband, wife, or other close household member, since I've found that the individual doesn't always notice subtle (or even not-so-subtle) mood changes in himself. But immediate family members notice-particularly when the changes are for the better! I haven't kept a count of exactly how many individuals have tried this approach over the last 30 years, but it's probably somewhere in the vicinity of 300 to 400-maybe more. And the majority report positive changes: less depression and irritability for women, and less irritability and "temper" for men.

Can lithium help solve your health mysteries?

So far, you've read about how lithium can help combat mental illness, mood disorders, and chemical dependency. All of these benefits, in turn, help communities become safer places overall by reducing rates of violent crime. And, yes, increased safety does benefit you and me. But right now, let's discuss some ways that you might be able to put lithium to work in your own life with some surprising applications for a few rather "mysterious" conditions.

By "mysterious," I don't mean brand-new, mutated viruses like the recent outbreak of SARS. No, the conditions I'll go over today have been around for quite a while. But the mystery lies in the fact they each of them is still considered "incurable." Let's start with one of the most painful.

Fibromyalgia relief: This "last resort" could rank No. 1

This condition primarily strikes women and causes debilitating pain and stiffness. Lithium can help alleviate these symptoms without the problems associated with conventional fibromyalgia treatments, which include tranquilizer, antidepressant, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (which only temporarily mask the pain and sleeplessness that often occur).

One study examined three women suffering from fibromyalgia, none of whom had responded to conventional treatment. When researchers added lithium to the women's current treatment, all three noticed a marked reduction in their symptoms.3

The authors of the study didn't explain why they didn't have the women discontinue their ineffective conventional treatments, but I've got a pretty good idea that their motives might have had something to do with the fact that the conventional treatments, as useless as they were for these women, are the "standard" protocol.

But I digress.

The gout-eliminating combination that tastes as good as it feels

You might remember reading the Health e-Tip on lithium and gout several months ago (2/3/03, subject line: "Help! My big toe is on fire!"). As the e-Tip mentioned, gout occurs when the body can't process and eliminate excess uric acid. The result is a painful burning or stabbing sensation usually in the ball joint of the foot.

Although there are no published studies on this topic, over the years I've found the combination of low-dose lithium (10-15 milligrams twice daily) and vitamin C (2 grams twice daily) can be very effective in preventing recurrent attacks of gout. Vitamin C significantly reduces serum uric acid levels. Lithium makes uric acid more soluble so it doesn't crystallize into painful "needles." These two actions combine to significantly reduce gout attacks. If you have gout, I also recommend that you drink 32 oz. of cherry juice at the first sign of an attack. Just please make sure it's real cherry juice--no sugar added. Although no one is sure why or how it works, studies have shown that cherry juice usually eliminates the pain of acute gout.

85 percent cluster headache relief in just two weeks

Cluster headaches are another one of those inexplicable conditions that my patients tell me always seem to come on at exactly the wrong time. In fact, they might actually be one of the most "mysterious" of the conditions I've listed so far since, like fibromyalgia, the cause isn't known. They tend to attack relentlessly for weeks to months and then often go into remission for months or even years. But lithium (in relatively high doses) can significantly reduce both the severity and frequency.

One study examined lithium's effects on 19 men with cluster headaches. Eight had rapid improvement-an average 85 percent reduction-in their "headache index" in just two weeks. Four individuals had both cluster headaches and psychiatric symptoms; these four had almost complete elimination of their headaches. The remaining seven had only a slight benefit.5

Another research group tried lithium therapy (again, relatively high quantities) for 14 individuals with cluster headaches. Five individuals had complete disappearance of their headaches, four had significant improvement, and four had no change.6

There's no guarantee that lithium will cure your cluster headaches, but there is a good chance that it might help. With so few other options available, it's at least worth a try.

Simple relief from those annoyingly persistent problems

Along the same lines as these mysterious conditions are a few other conditions that lithium can benefit. But these are less on the mysterious side and more in the vein of annoyingly persistent. Even so, lithium can still help in a number of ways.

One research group reported that lithium inhibits the reproduction of several viruses, including herpes simplex viruses (HSV 1, HSV 2), adenovirus (the "common cold" virus), cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus (associated with mononucleosis and many cases of chronic fatigue), and the measles virus.7

Another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of lithium carbonate (doses ranging from 150-900 milligrams daily) demonstrated "a consistent reduction in the number of herpes episodes per month, the average duration of each episode, the total number of infection days per month, and the maximum symptom severity. In contrast, treatment with placebo resulted in an increase in three of the four severity measures."8

In addition to lithium, selenium, lysine, and other nutrients can also help suppress the reproduction of herpes simplex (and other viruses) and speed the recovery process should an active infection occur. I tend to think it's better-and safer-to follow this approach (using small quantities of several effective nutrients rather than a larger quantity of just one), so nearly 10 years ago I worked with Bio-Tech Pharmacal to create a useful anti-herpes formula. We combined low-dose lithium with selenium, lysine, vitamin C, olive leaf extract, and other nutrients into two formulas, one (called HPX) for prevention of herpes simplex, and the other (called HPX2) for treatment of outbreaks. Those who have used it tell me it does the job, cutting down or eliminating recurrent herpes infections and/or helping them heal more quickly when they do occur. HPX and HPX2 are both available through natural food stores, compounding pharmacies and the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary.

A quick end to a Grave disease

Hyperthyroidism can be persistent and difficult to treat. It comes on either very suddenly or very gradually-so gradually, you might not even notice that something is really wrong until the symptoms become severe. Graves' disease is one of the common names for hyperthyroidism. In this condition, the immune system disrupts the functioning of the thyroid gland, causing it to become enlarged and to secrete too much hormone.

Mainstream treatments completely shut down the production of thyroid hormone using dangerous patent medicines. But lithium can get to the root of the problem much more safely.

In 1972, Mayo Clinic researchers published the first clinical investigation of lithium treatment for Graves' disease.9 Using high-dose lithium for 10 individuals, they reported that thyroid hormone levels fell by 20-30 percent within five days.

Twenty-six years later, in a review of more than 10 successful trials of lithium therapy for Graves' disease, the authors wrote: "a small number of studies have documented its [lithium's] use in the treatment of patients with Graves' disease... it's efficacy and utility as an alternative anti-thyroid [treatment] are not widely recognized..."10 They also note lithium's rapid effect: "Lithium normalizes [thyroid hormone] levels in one to two weeks..." But they also caution that "toxicity precludes its use as a first-line or long-term therapeutic agent." If they'd just added flaxseed oil and vitamin E to their treatment, they would have basically eliminated the risk of toxicity.

Lithium's benefits: Ripe for the picking

Perhaps the budding evidence about lithium and brain protection will spark even more interest in researching this mineral. Maybe researchers will accumulate enough evidence to prove that lithium can slow or even reverse brain aging. And perhaps researchers will conclude that putting very low dose lithium into drinking water to reduce violent crime is even more important than adding fluoride to prevent tooth decay.

But I won't hold my breath. Lithium isn't patentable, so I doubt that patent-medicine companies will even consider funneling huge amounts of research dollars into it. And if the patent-medicine companies aren't interested in it, it isn't likely to be "approved" for these or other uses any time soon. But remember, "approval" does not ensure safety or effectiveness; it just means that procedures have been followed, forms have been filled out, and money-lots and lots of money-has changed hands.

Now for the good news: Just because lithium won't be formulated into the next wonder drug and isn't likely to be making the headlines of your local news, that certainly doesn't mean you can't enjoy all of its benefits-from brain anti-aging to headache relief--right now. Low-dose lithium supplements are available in some natural food stores or from the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary.

If you decide to give lithium a try, as with any new treatment or preventive measure (even an all-natural one), it's always a good idea to consult with a physician skilled and knowledgeable in natural medicine as part of your decision.

In the meantime, if you'd like to read the Health e-Tips on lithium (or to sign up to begin receiving these free e-mail updates), visit the Nutrition & Healing website at www.wrightnewsletter.com.


Citations available upon request and on the Nutrition & Healing website: www.wrightnewsletter.com

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Lithium Orotate:

The Unique Safe Mineral with Multiple Uses


By Ward Dean, M.D. and Jim English

Lithium is a mineral with a cloudy reputation. It is an alkali metal in the same family as sodium, potassium and other elements. Although lithium is highly effective in the treatment of manic depressive illness (X4 DI), its pharmaceutical (prescription) versions, lithium carbonate and lithium citrate, must be used with caution. The reason for the caution with prescription lithium is because lithium in these forms is poorly absorbed by the cells of the body — and it is within the cells that lithium’s therapeutic effects take place. Lithium ions are believed to act only at particular sites on the membranes of intracellular structures like mitochondria and lysosomes.

Consequently, because of this poor intracellular transport, high dosages of pharmaceutical forms of lithium must be taken in order to obtain a satisfactory therapeutic effect. Unfortunately, these therapeutic dosages cause blood levels to be so high that they border on toxic levels. Consequently, patients taking prescription lithium must be closely monitored for toxic blood levels. Serum lithium and serum creatinine levels of prescription lithium-treated patients should be monitored every 3-6 months.

Toxic effects of lithium may include hand tremors, frequent urination, thirst, nausea, and vomiting. Even higher doses may cause drowsiness, muscular weakness, poor coordination, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, and other symptoms.

There has been concern that long-term lithium treatment may damage kidney function, but data in this regard are equivocal. Renal insufficiency without a known cause has occurred in the general population, and the incidence of renal failure among manic-depressive patients not treated with lithium remains unknown.

Most patients treated with lithium are also taking other medications, and it is just as likely that the few known cases of renal failure in patients taking lithium were due to other medications that they were simultaneously taking.2-5

Nevertheless, with potential side effects like this, why in the world would anyone want to take lithium? It is because lithium has been found to be one of the most effective treatments for manic-depressive illness (bi-polar disorder).

Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a severe mood disorder characterized by manic or depressive episodes that usually cycle back and forth between depression and mania. The depressive phase is characterized by sluggishness (inertia), loss of self-esteem, helplessness, withdrawal and sadness, with suicide being a risk. The manic phase is characterized by elation, hyperactivity, over-involvement in activities, inflated self-esteem, a tendency to be easily distracted, and little need for sleep. In either phase there is frequently a dependence on alcohol or other substances of abuse. The disorder first appears between the ages of 15 and 25 and affects men and women equally. The cause is unknown, but hereditary and psychological factors may play a role. The incidence is higher in relatives of people with bipolar disorders. A psychiatric history of mood swings, and an observation of current behavior and mood are important in the diagnosis of this disorder.7

Orthodox Treatment
Hospitalization may be required during an acute phase to control the symptoms. Antidepressant drugs may be given; anticonvulsants (Carbamazepine, Valproic acid, Depakote) may also be used. (These substances deplete body stores of L-carnitine and Taurine. Supplementation with several grams daily of these supplements greatly ameliorates adverse side effects of these drugs).

Lithium, however, is the treatment of choice for recurring bipolar (manic/depressive) illness, serving as an effective mood enhancer in 70-80 percent of bipolar patients.

Mortality-lowering, Anti-suicidal Effect of Lithium
The mortality of manic-depressive patients is markedly higher than that of the general population. The increased mortality is mainly, but not exclusively, caused by suicide. Studies have shown that the mortality of manic-depressive patients given long-term lithium treatment is markedly lower than that of patients not receiving lithium. The frequency of suicidal acts among treated patients is significantly lower than patients given other antidepressants or carbamazepine. The results of mortality studies are consistent with the assumption that lithium-treatment protects against suicidal behavior. 8-13

Unipolar Disorder
In addition to its well-recognized benefits in the management of bipolar disorder, trials have conclusively demonstrated that lithium is also an effective treatment for recurrent unipolar depressive illness (recurrent major affective disorder).14-16 Although physicians in Europe have successfully used lithium for this indication for many years, American psychiatrists do not share their appreciation of lithium’s safety and effectiveness for conditions other than MDI. Perhaps it is due to a difference in the lithium preparations they have at their disposal.

Superiority of Lithium Orotate
The lithium salt of orotic acid (lithium orotate) improves the specific effects of lithium many-fold by increasing lithium bio-utilization. The orotates transport the lithium to the membranes of mitochondria, lysosomes and the glia cells. Lithium orotate stabilizes the lysosomal membranes and prevents the enzyme reactions that are responsible for the sodium depletion and dehydration effects of other lithium salts. Because of the superior bioavailability of lithium orotate, the therapeutic dosage is much less than prescription forms of lithium. For example, in cases of severe depression, the therapeutic dosage of lithium orotate is 150 mg/day. This is compared to 900-1800 mg of the prescription forms. In this dosage range of lithium orotate, there are no adverse lithium side reactions and no need for monitoring blood serum measurements.17

Other Uses for Lithium Orotate
Lithium orotate has also been used with success in alleviating the pain from migraine and cluster headaches, low white blood cell counts, juvenile convulsive disease, alcoholism and liver disorders.18 Nieper also reports that patients with myopia (nearsightedness) and glaucoma often benefit from the slight dehydrating effect of lithium on the eye, resulting in improvement in vision and reduction of intraocular pressure.17


1. Aronson JK, Reynolds DJM. ABC of monitoring drag therapy: lithium. BMJ. 1992;305: 1273-1276.

2. Schou M, Effects of long-term lithium treatment on kidney function: an overview. J Psychiat Res, 1988;22.,287-296,

3. Waller DG, Edwards TG. Lithium and the kidney: an update. Psycliol Mod. 1989; 19:825-83 1.

4. Gitlin MJ. Lithium-induced renal insufficiency., J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1993) 13:276-279.

5, Kallner G,.Petterson IJ. Renal, thyroid and parathyroid function during lithium treatment: laboratory test in 207 people treated for 1-30 years. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1995;91:48-5 1.

6. Baastrup PC, Schou M. Lithium as a prophylactic agent: its effect against recurrent depressions and manic-depressive psychosis. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967; 16:162-172.

7. Goodwin FK, Jamison KR. Manic-Depressive Illness.
Oxford, England: Oxford University Press; 1990.

8. Mueller-Oerlinghausen D, Ahrens B, Volk J, Grof P, Grof E, Schou M, Vestergaard P, Lenz G, Sinihandl C, Tlau K, Wolf R. Reduced mortality of manic-depressive patients in long-term lithium treatment, an international collaborative study by IGSLI. Psychiatry Res. 1991;36:329-331.

9. Ahrens B, Mueller-Oerlinghausen 3, Schou M, Wolf T, Alda M, Grof. E. Grof P, Lejiz G, Simhandl C, Thau K, Vestergaard P, Wolf R, Moeller H. Cardiovascular and suicide mortality of affective disorders may be reduced by lithium prophylaxis. J Affect DI-Y, 1995;33:67-75.

10. Mueller-Oerlinghausen B, Mueser-Causemam B, Volk J. Suicides and parasuicides in a high-risk patient group on and off lithium long-term medication, J Affect Dis. 1992;25: 261-270.

11. Felber- NV, Kyber A. Suizide und Parasuizide wachrend und aubetadserhalb einer Lithiumprophylaxe. In-, Muclicr-Oerlinghausen B, Berghoefer A, eds. Ziele und Ergebnisse der medikagivitoeseyi I-i-opiiylaice affektiver Psychoseii.
Stuttgart, Germany, Thieme; 1994:53-59.

12. Thies-Flechtner K, Seibert W, Walther A, Greil W, Mueller-Oerlinghausen B, Suizide bei rezldlvprophylaktisch behandelten Patienten mit affektiven Psychosen. In: Mueller-Oerlinghausen B, Berghoefer A, eds. Ziele und Ergebnisse der medikamentoesen Prophylaxe offekliver Psychosen.
Stuttgart, Germany. Thieme; 1994,61-64.

13. Schou M.. Mortality-lowering effect of prophylactic lithium treatment, a look at the evidence, Pharmacopsychiatry. 1995;28: 1.

14. Souza FGM, Goodwin GM. Lithium treatment and prophylaxis in unipolar depression: a meta-analysis, Br J Psychiatry. 1991; 158:666-675.

15. Johnstone EC, Owens DGC,
Lambert MT, Crow TJ, Frith CD, Done DJ. Combination tricyclic, antidepressant and lithium maintenance medication in unipolar and bipolar depressed patients. J Affect Dis, 1990;20:225-233,

16. Prien RF, Kupfer DJ, Mansky PA, Small JG, Iuason VB, Voss CB, Johnson WE. Drug therapy in the prevention of recurrences in unipolar and bipolar affective disorders. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1984;41.1096-1104,

17. Nieper HA The clinical application of lithium orotate. Agressologie 14(6). 407-411, 1973,

18. Sartori HE, Lithium orotate in the treatment of alcoholism and related conditions, Alcohol 1986 Mar; 3 (2): 97-100.

19. Nieper HA The curative effect of a combination of Calcium-orotate and Lithium orotate on primary and secondary chronic hepatitis and primary and secondary liver cirrhosis. From lecture Intl Acad of Prevent Med,
Washington, DC March 9, 1974.


Clinical use of Lithium Orotate

By Dr Steven Haltiwanger

Why I recommend the use of lithium orotate

Doctors for decades have known that minerals have beneficial roles in the body. Psychiatrists actually use a form of mineral therapy in psychiatric patients when they administer lithium salts in the form of lithium carbonate and lithium citrate.

These types of lithium mineral salts are classified as drugs and can only be obtained with a prescription. A standard dose of lithium carbonate is 300mg, which contains 56.34mg of elemental lithium (Merck Index 1996). In contrast 300mgs of lithium orotate only contains 11.5mg of elemental lithium, which is approximately 5 times less lithium.

The drugs forms of lithium have to be administered with care under a doctor’s supervision. Typical doses of lithium carbonate range from 600 to 1200mg per day. A dose of 600mg of lithium carbonate contains 112.68mg of elemental lithium, whereas 1200mg of lithium carbonate contains 225.36mg of elemental lithium.

Psychiatrists are trained to use these drug forms of lithium mineral therapy by monitoring blood levels of lithium. Monitoring blood levels of lithium is critically important in lithium drug therapy because high amounts of elemental lithium are required in order to achieve a clinical effect. When taken orally these types of lithium salts are broken down in the digestive tract delivering almost all of the ingested lithium into the bloodstream in the form of free lithium ions. Since free lithium ions do not readily pass from the bloodstream into the brain, these drug forms of lithium require the administration of high doses of elemental lithium in order to elevate blood lithium levels to the point where lithium is able to diffuse through the blood brain barrier into the brain. Unfortunately, since the blood level of lithium required to achieve therapeutic effects is very close to the toxic level, many individuals experience side effects when prescribed lithium therapy.

Why should an individual consider using a trace mineral supplement that contains lithium?

Lithium orotate on the other hand is a compound where lithium is attached to the amino acid carrier orotic acid. This form of lithium is manufactured to be acid resistant so that when lithium is delivered into the bloodstream it is still attached to its orotic acid carrier (Nieper 1985)

I believe lithium orotate should be viewed not as a drug, but as a trace mineral supplement that contains lithium. Each 120mg lithium orotate tablet only contains 4.6mg of elemental lithium, which is about 5 times less elemental lithium by weight than an equivalent weight of lithium carbonate. When used as a trace mineral supplement three tablets of lithium orotate only expose the body to 13.8mg of elemental lithium.

Basically lithium orotate is a supplement that effectively delivers lithium into the brain without increasing blood levels of lithium to high levels. In fact blood levels of lithium usually remain very low when lithium orotate is taken, since smaller amounts of elemental lithium are utilized. In addition the orotic acid carrier assists in transporting lithium from the blood stream into the brain.

Regular use of lithium has been found to protect brain neurons from cell death and to stimulate the growth of new brain cells (Moore et al; 2000 Gray et al; 2003). Recent studies have found that lithium binds to and inhibits the activity of brain enzymes such as glycogen synthase kinase-3 (Pilcher, 2003) and protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes  (Manji et al; 2001) that may be involved in processes leading to brain cell death. In addition lithium administration increases the production of a brain cell protecting protein (Manji et al 2000). In summary, use of lithium as a trace mineral supplement may serve an important role in safeguarding the health of the brain.


  • Manji HK, Moore GJ, Chen G. Clinical and preclinical evidence for the neurotrophic effects of mood stabilizers: implications for the pathophysiology and treatment of manic-depressive illness. Biol Psychiatry 2000 Oct 15;48 (8):740-54.
  • Moore GJ, Bebchuk JM, Wilds IB, Chen G, Manji HK, Menji HK. Lithium induced increase in human brain grey matter. Lancet 2000 Oct 7; 356 (9237): 1241-2.
  • Nieper HA. Chronic Inflammation of the Liver and Atrophied Liver; Lithium Orotate. In: Dr. Nieper’s Revolution in Technology, Medicine and Society (May1985):224 – 226.
  • The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals 12th edition. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories, 1996.




Found at: www.healingtherapies.info/Omentum.htm Subject: omental transposition

Laurance Johnston, Ph.D.


Brian Sternberg was not just a superb athlete; he was the best. In 1963, the University of Washington junior established a world pole vault record of 16’8” and seemed destined to be the first to break 20 feet. His gymnastic background had made him a strong, agile athlete, hence, especially well suited for the new, flexible, state-of-the-art fiberglass poles.

Practicing on the trampoline as he often did, Sternberg tried a maneuver that he had routinely carried out in this past. This time, something went wrong. Landing awkwardly on his neck, he sustained a C4-5 spinal cord injury (SCI).Brain Sternberg and spinal cord injury (SCI) and omentum

More than three decades later in 1996, surgeon Harry Goldsmith operated on Sternberg, who says the omentum surgery greatly increased his quality of life. For example, because Sternberg’s injury affected the nerves controlling respiration, he could only speak in a whisper before surgery. Since then, his voiced has increased by about 60%.

“I wouldn’t have been able to have this conversation with you before the operation” Sternberg told me. He says his overall health and strength has greatly improved. For example, the operation has reduced the incapacitating pain that he once had.

“Before the surgery, on a scale of 1-10, my pain averaged 8-13, “ Sternberg says. “Now it is 1-2.”

He has more feeling in extremities and improved circulation. He can stay upright for long periods of time, a problem before the surgery. In a Sports Illustrated article (September 21, 1998), Brian has stated that the operation “has made all the difference in the world.”


Omental transposition is a controversial surgery used to treat spinal cord injury (SCI). In this procedure, the omentum, a physiologically dynamic, fatty membranous tissue surrounding the intestinal and lower abdominal region, is surgically lengthened and placed over the area of injury.

Goldsmith pioneered this procedure for various central nervous system disorders, including SCI. Currently associated with the University of Nevada’s School of Medicine (Reno), Goldsmith has spent much of his career investigating omentum’s therapeutic potential. His work has stimulated many others who have now treated thousands of patients for spinal cord injury, and other neurological disorders, such as stroke, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

The procedure’s acceptance has grown greatly in other parts of the world, such as in China where more than 3,000 people with spinal cord injury have had omental surgery. In the United States, however, the conservative SCI research community has been reluctant to evaluate omental therapy for a variety of reasons.

First, many researchers urge caution when considering a new therapy like this that involves an inherently risky surgery that tampers with the spinal cord. Second, omental surgery’s radical nature falls outside of prevailing SCI research perspectives and priorities. As such, in a “see-it-when-I-believe-it” attitude, the SCI scientific community tends to see the omental approach’s flaws that reinforces their preconceptions rather than the evidence that would require them to change their view.

Third, although many have had omental surgery, the value of this clinical experience, especially when originating in other countries, does not count much in the U.S. scientific court of judgement. Scientists believe that the only evidence that really matters is that generated by rigorously designed, controlled clinical trials, which have not as yet been carried out for omental surgery.

Fourth, the therapy’s image was dealt a blow after a mid-1990’s controversy in which an unauthorized, recruiting agent was accused of over promoting omentum’s therapeutic benefits. As controversy enveloped the procedure, combined with some supposedly, negative research findings (see below), the momentum for the therapy shifted to other countries.

Goldsmith continues to be a tireless omental therapy advocate. Several benefactors have recently donated $2 million dollars to establish the Omental Research Foundation to support his efforts. He plans to use these funds to help defer the high patient cost of the surgery and fund basic-research pilot studies.


OmentumThe omentum is a highly vascular, fatty tissue approximately 14 inches in length and 10 inches wide that hangs like an apron over the intestines and lower abdomen area. Although the omentum has been viewed as an inert tissue bereft of significant biological function, scientists are now discovering that it is an intriguing, physiologically dynamic tissue with a considerable body of research that supports its therapeutic potential (e.g., see Agner et al, Neurological Research, January, 2001 and The Omentum Application to Brain and Spinal Cord, edited H.S. Goldsmith, Forefront Publishing, 2000):

·        Blood supply: The omentum contains angiogenic factors that stimulate the growth of new blood vessels into whatever tissue it is surgically placed next to, including the brain and spinal cord (see figure).

·        Lymphatic System: The omentum is rich in lymphatic vessels and tissue that are critical in removing metabolic waste and excess fluid, destroying toxic substances, and fighting disease.

·        Immune System: Omental areas called “milky spots” are capable of generating specialized immune cells that facilitate healing. For example, some scientists believe that the migration of omental immune cells, called macrophages, can help repair injured spinal cords.

·        Edema Absorption: The omentum’s lymphatic system has an enormous capacity to absorb edema fluid, including that associated with spinal cord swelling.

·        Source of Biological Material: The omentum is a rich source of biological material that enhance tissue growth, including angiogenic factors, key neurotransmitters, nerve growth factors, and agents involved in inflammatory and immune processes.

·        Stem Cells: Evidence suggests that omental tissue contains stem cells - omnipotent master cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types. For example, Dr. Ignacio Garcia Gomez (Madrid, Spain) and colleagues demonstrated the presence of stem cells in the human omentum (Neurological Research, 27, December 2005). These cells were shown to synthesize key growth factors that promote vascularization when transplanted.


Omental surgery, a six-hour operation, initially cuts into the abdominal cavity to access the omentum. The omentum is then gently separated from the colon and the stomach in a way that maintains blood and lymphatic circulation (see illustration).omental transposition and spinal cord injury (SCI) The omentum is then surgically tailored to create a pedicle – a piece of connected tissue of sufficient length with intact circulation to reach the spinal cord injury site, like a square handkerchief would be cut to make a long necktie. The omental pedicle is then tunneled underneath the skin, placed over the exposed cord, and sutured to the cut edges of the dural membrane surrounding the cord.

Because creating the omental pedicle can be tricky, some surgeons use a substitute procedure, in which a free, unattached piece of omental tissue is surgically placed over the injured cord and connected to a surrounding vascular source (e.g., to the carotid artery and jugular vein). Dr. Hernando Rafael in Mexico has mostly used this modified procedure to treat over 250 people with spinal cord injury. Although blood circulation is maintained, because the graft is separated from the omentum’s lymphatic system, the tissue’s ability to absorb fluid is eliminated.


Goldsmith and Rafael estimate that about 40% of their omental SCI patients have regained some function, and Chinese surgeons have reported an even greater improvement rate.

Critics tend to dismiss such claims, however, because they are often based on subjective evaluation criteria affected by potential doctor or patient biases. These critics believe that improvement can only be documented through validated clinical outcome measures to assess patient function before and after treatment.

In response, advocates believe that restored function is often so great that efficacy cannot be denied. One omental patient noted that his extensive improvement after omental surgery was dismissed by the physician he had been seeing as merely recovery from hysterical paralysis - even though the improvement was five years after his injury.


Since 1975 when Goldsmith first demonstrated that placing the omentum on the injured spinal cord in dogs could revascularize the underlying cord tissue, many animal studies have shown omentum’s therapeutic potential. For example, numerous projects have evaluated the tissue’s ability to treat a contusion injury that produces a cavity in the cord similar to many injuries in people. This research indicated that placing an omental pedicle on the injury area will inhibit cavity formation and preserve overall function.

Research in cats has also shown that the omentum can even help repair a totally transected spinal cord. In this research, the gap in the cord was filled with liquid collagen, such as used in cosmetic surgery, that hardens at body temperature. The omental pedicle was then placed over this collagen bridge that formed between the spinal cord stumps.

Compared to control cats, spinal cord blood flow was greatly increased across the omentum-collagen bridge. More importantly, neuronal axons grew through the bridge into the cord on the other side of the gap (see illustration) at a rate of one millimeter per day. This rate is comparable to peripheral nerve regeneration (i.e., the nerves outside of the brain or spinal cord that usually retain regeneration capability). The procedure prevented hind-limb muscle atrophy, and as recorded on video, even allowed some cats to regain coordinated walking ability.


In 1984, Goldsmith carried out the first surgery in a person with spinal cord injury (see below). Although many people with SCI have had omental surgery since that time, a 1996 study (Clifton, et al, Spinal Cord, 34, 1996) appeared to provide the scientific ammunition to dismiss the procedure as a viable SCI treatment.

In this study, 11 patients with spinal cord injury were examined a year after omental surgery using a variety of state-of-the-art assessment procedures and compared to control subjects. The overall results were inconclusive; some subjects appeared to improve, and others did not. Because these ambiguous results were associated with some serious side effects, the investigators concluded that there was “ no justification for further clinical trials of this procedure.”

For most of us in the SCI research establishment, because the study used the correct assessments, it seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for the therapy. However, like newspaper errata that are rarely noticed, few saw Goldsmith’s rebuttal that was published soon after (Spinal Cord, 35, 1997).

Goldsmith claimed that the study’s statistically meaningless conclusions merely reflected the investigator’s existing biases against the procedure. He noted that the investigators had used two different surgical procedures, automatically confounding the study. Over half the time, they had used a free omental tissue graft instead of, as stated in their objectives, an attached omental pedicle. By so doing, they eliminated the tissue’s beneficial fluid-absorbing capability.

Although the study’s goal was to determine the specific effect of the omentum placed directly on the injured cord, the final analysis included outcomes of several patients whose omental graft was shown not even to be physically attached to the cord or had been surgically removed before analysis. In other words, they had factored in results that were not applicable to the stated study objectives, and, hence, significantly skewed the reported results.


Although to date omental surgery has been exclusively directed to long-term chronic injuries, based on animal studies, Goldsmith believes that the procedure may be able to reduce the extensive secondary neurological damage that occurs soon after injury. The swelling that develops after injury in and around the cord can cut off capillary blood flow, which may prevent therapeutic drugs from reaching the injury site, and creates the scar tissue that that inhibits regenerative processes. Goldsmith says that the spinal-column-stabilizing surgery (i.e., fusion) often carried out after injury is a golden opportunity to reduce the damaging fluid edema by placing the enormously absorptive omentum upon the injured cord.


In addition to Sternberg, the individuals I talked to were enthusiastic about the benefits they had accrued after omental surgery, although they emphasized that one must have realistic expectations.

In 1984, Daren Renna became the first person with a spinal cord injury to be treated by Goldsmith. Several years earlier, as a 17-year old, up-and-coming gymnast who was setting his sights on qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team, Renna had become a C3-4 quadriplegic from a gymnastics accident. His injury resulted in the loss of virtually all function below the neck except for being able to rotate his hands slightly.

Renna says he has benefited greatly from omental surgery.

“I initially got more balance and had less spasticity. And over the next five years, I regained a lot of arm and wrist function,” he says. “I have pretty good use of my arms now. Overall, I am a much healthier person.”

Goldsmith was moved when Renna later gave him a gymnastics medal in gratitude. Renna has become involved in gymnastics again as a coach and internationally rated official (see photo).

In 1993, Andrea Zobell, a 23-year old German woman, became paraplegic after a skiing accident. An MRI indicated a near total transection of her spinal cord. Although retaining occasional lower leg, light-touch sensitivity, she lost all physical movement below the T6-7 level.

More than three years later, Zobell had omental surgery in which the scar tissue that now filled the 1.6-inch gap in her cord was replaced with an omental-collagen bridge as described above. After recovering from the surgery, she zealously committed to a physical rehabilitation program, which she strongly believes is needed to maximize surgical benefits.

Over the next several years, Zobell gradually gained strength and control of muscles below the injury, Because of increased strength in the back, hip, and abdominal muscles, she could now remain in a sitting position without support. She has regained some ability to move her legs. For example, she can walk when she is in a swimming pool and can get off a chair and stand with some support (see photo). She also has increased awareness of bladder filling. Andrea’s MRI now shows the continued development of structure connecting the spinal cord segments.


There is too much supporting research and patient experience to continue to ignore omentum’s therapeutic potential. The verdict is not in for this procedure as many of us falsely concluded in the past. We need to open-mindedly gather more evidence, especially well-designed, controlled clinical trials to help definitively determine the procedure’s benefits relative to its risks.

Adapted from “Paraplegia News” March 2001 (For subscriptions, contact www.pn-magazine.com).

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Muesli Recipe


My recipe for a great, natural muesli is:


Organic thick-cut rolled oats (not quick-oats): 17 lbs (1/3 of a 50 lb bag)

Organic seedless Thompson raisins: 3 lbs

Organic shredded coconut: 4 lbs

Organic raw sunflower seeds: 3 lbs

Organic walnuts: 1 lb

Raw almond slices, unsprayed: 1 lb


If you don't want to make such a large qty, you could reduce all the ingredients proportionally. Mix thoroughly and keep in the freezer as it is being used. All ingredients above were purchased at the Bexley Natural Market on Cassady Ave in Columbus. Oats need to be special ordered ahead of time (by phone is OK) if you buy the 50# bag.


From: "HSI - Jenny Thompson" <hsiresearch@healthiernews.com>

Subject: HSI e-Alert – Gastric Bypass: Dangerous Detour

Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 06:55:00 -0400




Dear Reader,


Gastric bypass is serious business.


The most common type of bariatric surgery is gastric bypass, the procedure that dramatically decreases the size of the stomach and reroutes digestion to the small intestine.


Even though this radical alteration to the digestive tract may produce very challenging complications, the general public seems to be put at ease when celebrities such as Al Roker and Randy Jackson undergo gastric bypass with impressive results. Between 1998 and 2002, gastric bypass surgeries in the U.S. jumped from 14,000 to 82,000 per year.


But as more surgeries are conducted, the dangers linked to them become more evident.



Beyond digestion



Two years ago, a government report showed that about four out of every 10 gastric bypass surgery patients experience complications. Abdominal hernias, infections, and digestive problems such as acid reflux, vomiting, and diarrhea are typical setbacks.


A new study from the University of Arkansas shows that neurological difficulties may also arise after gastric bypass.


Researchers examined 150 patients with neurological problems and found that 26 were potentially linked to bariatric surgery. The most frequent and disabling condition was myelopathy, a spinal column disorder that causes loss of sensation and even mobility. Symptoms of myelopathy generally began about 10 years after surgery.


Other neurological conditions the UA team linked to bariatric surgery:


- Encephalopathy - progressive cognitive decline, memory loss,

inability to concentrate, and loss of consciousness

- Optic neuropathy - progressive vision loss

- Polyneuropathy - movement loss due to inflammation


In the May 22, 2007, issue of the journal Neurology, the authors note that the common denominator among the 26 patients was multiple nutritional deficiencies. Correction of these deficiencies usually did not correct the problems. Copper and vitamin B-12 deficiencies were linked to myelopathy, but specific deficiencies could not be pinpointed for the other complications.



On the periphery



The Arkansas study is not the first to recognize that gastric bypass can prompt health challenges beyond the digestive tract.


A 2004 study, which also appeared in Neurology, found that 16 percent of 435 bariatric surgery patients experienced peripheral neuropathy, characterized by numbness or prickly, burning sensations in the feet, legs, hands, and arms. Extended peripheral neuropathy often results in impaired coordination, urinary urgency, erectile dysfunction, and lightheadedness.


Most sobering of all, however, is a study I told you about in the e-Alert "A Refreshing Blink" (11/2/05). As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from the University of Washington examined medical records for more than 16,000 gastric bypass patients.


Results showed that in the 35-44 age group, five percent of men and three percent of women died within one year of surgery. These rates were slightly higher in the 45-54 age group, and in patients aged 65 to 74, about six percent of the women died within one year, and almost 13 percent of the men.


There's no doubt that patients who are morbidly obese can avoid a wide range of health problems if gastric bypass surgery is successful. But before signing on for this procedure (which is irreversible), those patients should weigh the considerable risks of an extreme solution.


You can find more information about the pros and cons of bariatric surgery at the web site for Bariatric Edge: bariatricedge.com. Although this site essentially promotes this type of surgery, other gastric bypass complications are discussed, including the possibility of increased bone calcium loss and metabolic bone disease.