A Note of Thanks…

I want to thank everyone who called while I was in the Boise hospital – also for the beautiful flowers, the many wonderful cards, prayers, words of encouragement and the never-ending offers of help.

I am truly overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity of all you people.  I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know!
~~Lois Dickey, Vitamin Department

New Year’s Health…

(reprinted from January, 2008 issue)

The New Year is an excellent time to start a detoxification program.

Each year we are exposed to thousands of toxic chemicals and pollutants in the earth’s atmosphere, water, food and soil.  These pollutants manifest themselves in a variety of symptoms, including decreased immune function, neurotoxicity, hormonal dysfunction, psychological disturbances and even cancer.  Detoxification therapy helps to rid the body of chemicals and pollutants and can facilitate a return to health.  Detoxification is the body’s natural process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins via the kidneys, colon, exhalation and perspiration.

There are many ways to detoxify, such as juice fasts, saunas, specific diets, colon therapy, vitamin therapy, chelation therapy and hyperthermia.  Short 2-3 day fasts are safe, but longer fasts or special diets should only be done under the care of a health professional.

The vitamin department carries several detoxification products by Nature’s Secret.  These products are gentle and effective.  They include Ultimate Liver Cleanse, Respiratory Cleanse, 15-Day Weight Loss Cleanse & Flush, Ultimate Cleanse, Ultimate Fasting Cleanse, Super Cleanse, Urinary Cleanse and a number of other products.  We do not stock all of these products but will order on request.

~Lois Dickey
Vitamin Department Manager

Elevated Iron Levels (Part Two)

November’s article on excess iron in the blood dealt with some of the ways in which we accumulate excess iron in the blood and how it may effect one’s health.

There are a number of things we can do to keep our iron levels low to avoid serious health issues.  In the previous article, I mentioned blood donation, lowering alcohol consumption, avoiding foods and supplements with added iron and not smoking as ways to do this.  There are also things to inhibit the absorption of dietary iron such as phytates, tannins in green and black tea and coffee, oxalates, various polyphenols and calcium supplements.  Experiments have shown the tannins in green tea to be very helpful in reducing atherosclerosis thus cardiovascular disease.

Four cups of green tea a day lowers the risk by one-third.  Green tea was also found to be effective against osteoporosis through beneficial effects on bone mineral density of the total body.  Antioxidants should be consumed daily, as well as bioflavonoids like quercetin, cranberry, bilberry, blueberry, milk thistle, grapeseed extract and lemon.

Part one and part two of this article have been written for information purposes only. Consult your physician for any excess iron-related concerns.

~Lois Dickey
Vitamin Department Manager

Excerpt from “Exposing the Hidden Dangers of Iron”, by E.D. Weinberg, Ph.D.

Elevated Iron Levels

Elevated iron levels in the blood is a serious health concern. Over-consumption has increased through iron-fortified foods, supplements, smoking, excess alcohol and high red meat consumption. Iron overload is also acquired through inhalation and injection as well as ingestion.

Iron is life-sustaining, but when in excess in the tissues of the body, iron can be fatal. Since there is no physiological means of excreting iron from the body, except by blood loss, over time the excess iron accumulates at toxic levels in the heart, liver, endocrine glands and joints. Overwhelmed with iron, these systems can no longer function optimally and the disease process takes over. Iron buildup is a factor in a number of chronic disease.

Iron is essential for proper cell growth and for hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Much of the iron resides in the blood circulation. Women have half the blood levels of iron compared to men. However, as women reach menopause, iron levels begin to increase. By age 50 men may have an increase of thousands of milligrams of excess iron in their circulation. After age 40 males accumlate one excess milligram of iron per day of life. The same is true for women who have undergone early hysterectomy. Adults who regularly donate blood have lower levels of iron and are healthier. Donating blood to reduce excessive levels of iron and copper is now considered as a treatment for various diseases in which excess iron may be a factor.

Studies show that adults who consume more iron in their diets increase the risk of heart disease. For adults, iron should be acquired solely from the diet and caution against over-consumption of iron-fortified foods is recommended.

In a future article, I will expand on some of the various ways in which excess iron can be lowered by not only donating blood but by using natural iron-binding antioxidants and iron chelators.

~Lois Dickey
Vitamin Department Manager

Excerpt from “What’s Best”, by Bill Sardi and “Exposing The Hidden Dangers of Iron”, by E. D. Weinberg, Ph.D.

Memory Enhancement Supplements

There are ingredients that have been used to improve memory and cognitive function in those with age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Among some of the more promising ones are Acetyl-L-Carnitine, phosphatidylserine(ps), Huperzine A, Vinpocetine, Ginko and GPC.  Below is a brief description of each and their function in the brain.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine:  The acetyl component of acetyl-L-Carnitine functions as a precursor for the formation of acetylcholine, one of the neurotransmitters in the brain thought to be involved in age-related dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Phosphatidylserine:  Phosphatidylserine belongs to a class of compounds known as phospholipids. It is an integral component of the cell membrane in all life forms. It is found in high concentrations in brain tissue. It has been shown to be useful in treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, age-associated memory impairment and other types of dementia.

Huperzine A:  Huperzine A is a plant alkaloid derived from a type of moss that grows in China called ‘huperzia’. Huperzine A seems to be effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline and memory loss. It functions as an inhibitor of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholine is the primary neurotransmitter in the brain. Acetylcholinesterase is the enzyme that breaks down this neurotransmitter. Huperzines work well but should be used with caution and with your doctor’s approval if you are using other acetylcholinesterase inhibitors or cholinergic drugs. For persons with seizure disorders, asthma and cardiac arrhythmias, huperzine A is contraindicated.
Vinpocetine:  Vinpocetine is an alkaloid derived from a plant in the periwinkle family. It is indicated for age-related cognitive decline, stroke, mental function and tinnitus. Vinpocetine may enhance the effect of anticoagulants such as Coumadine, so should be used with caution.

Ginko Biloba: I have written about ginko biloba before so I will only repeat the indications for it’s use, which are Alzheimer’s disease, age-related cognitive decline, intermittent claudication, depression, macular degeneration, vertigo, tinnitus, asthma and retinopathy.  It has a slight thinning effect on the blood. If you are already on blood-thinning medication, check with your doctor before taking Ginko Biloba.

GPC (glycerylphosphorylcholine):  The brain converts GPC into acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter whose decline is centrally implicated in brain aging and neurodegeneration. When research showed that choline and lecithin were not significantly reversing cognitive decline, researchers began looking at GPC. Results were dramatically different.  Finally, a precursor with the ability to rejuvenate acetylcholine levels, receptors and neuronal structural integrity had been discovered.

Each product mentioned is available in the Co-op vitamin department.

~Lois Dickey
Vitamin Department Manager

Astragalus Root

Astragalus, also known as huang qi, is best known as an immune stimulant. It helps prevent and treat arrhythmia. It also shows anti-viral effect.  In one study people with serious viral infections show low levels of natural killer cells (NKC’s) in their bodies. NKC’s are special white blood cells that attack disease-causing microorganisms. The study participants were given injections of astragalus extracts for four months.  Compared with people who did not receive the extract, their NKC activity increased substantially, other components of their immune system perked up and their symptoms improved.  Oral preparations have a similar effect.

The use of astragalus is indicated for colds and flu, chronic respiratory problems, digestive ailments, susceptibility to infectious disease, general weakness, fatigue and cancer.

The active constituents include polysaccharides (glucans) saponins, flavonoids and phytosterols, all of which contribute to the positive actions of astragalus.  It increases the number of stem cells in bone marrow and lymph tissue and encourages their development into active immune cells.  It appears to help trigger immune cells from a “resting” state into heightened activity.  One study showed astragalus root helps promote and maintain respiratory health. It also enhances the body’s production of immunoglobulin and stimulates macrophages.  Astragalus stimulated NK cell activity of human peripheral blood lymphocytes and restored steroid-inhibited NK cells activity in another study.

**Excepts on astragalus are from the “Willner Chemists Catalog”

OF NOTE:   Raspberry Ketones are now available!

~Lois Dickey
Department Manager

photo credit: beckcowles

Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a very annoying problem for the unfortunate persons suffering from this condition.

There are several possible causes for tinnitus, which makes it very difficult to treat medically. The underlying cause may be age-related, exposure to loud noises, ear infection, ear wax, a vascular condition and changing or discontinuing a medication. One should consult with their health care provider to determine if any of these conditions might be the cause of their tinnitus.

The following is a group of herbs and vitamins that may help to reduce the symptoms of tinnitus: Ginko Biloba, melatonin, B1, B12, B3 (niacin), zinc, magnesium and vinpocetine. There are many antidotal reports that range from little or no help, to great relief, to a cure.

A listener to a radio talk show called in to report how he treated his tinnitus. He somehow attached a rubber pencil eraser (the kind you put on the end of pencil when you need a new eraser) to the end of an electric toothbrush. The toothbrush was then used to massage all around the ear. He claimed it cured his tinnitus. In this case, the underlying cause may have been one of circulation to the ear and Ginko Biloba would have been helpful also.

—Lois Dickey
Vitamin Department Manager

photo credit: bark

Vitamin Department

Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine is a derivative of an alkaloid derived from a plant in the periwinkle family.

Vinpocetine has been used in Europe for over three decades for the treatment of cerebrovascular disorders and symptoms related to senility. Normal aging results in a reduction of blood to the brain and a decrease in metabolic activity of brain cells. Vinpocetine is one of several dietary supplements that enhances circulation to the brain.

Research in Europe shows that vinpocetine has beneficial effects in the treatments of cerebral circulatory disorders that can cause such symptoms as memory loss, stroke, dizziness and inner ear problems. Vinpocetine boosts circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the eyes, thereby improving vision and eyesight disorders. The delivery of oxygen-saturated blood helps to improve hearing and helps to alleviate tinnitus and vertigo. It increases cellular energy (ATP) within the brain neurons.

The research involved doses of 10-30 mg. per day;  10 mg. of vinpocetine three times a day seemed to produce the best results.

CAUTION: If you are on anticoagulant medications such as coumadin (Warfarin), please consult with your health professional before using vinpocetine.

~Lois Dickey
Department Manager

photo credit: Phuong Tran

Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract is a rich source of a certain type of plant flavonoids, the proanthocyanidins. These flavonoids are also knows as CPCs or PCOs.

The type of flavonoids present in grape seed extract are thought to function as powerful antioxidants, protecting tissues, glands and organs throughout the body from the deleterious effects of free radical damage. In addition, these flavonoids have an ability to strengthen collagen. This explains its value in enhancing the integrity of skin, blood vessels and connecting tissue. It exerts an anti-inflammatory action, perhaps by inhibiting the release of pro- inflammatory prostoglandins. There is also compelling evidence that the proanthocyanidins in grape seed have anticarcinogenic activity.

There are two types of supplements available that are rich in OPCs. One is grape seed extract and the other is a trademarked product called Pycnogenol, which is derived from pine bark. Grape seed extract contains between 92 and 95 percent PCO while the Pycnogenol products contain only 80 to 85 percent PCO.

Products containing PCO flavonoids are considered by many to be some of the most valuable and inclusive antioxidants available and should be part of any comprehensive suppplement program.

INDICATIONS: vision problems, anti-aging, arthritis, cancer, allergies, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, macular degeneration, night blindness, retinopathy, sports injuries, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency.

From “The Best Supplements For Your Health”, by Donald P. Goldberg, R. Ph.; Arnold Gitomer, R. Ph., and Robert Abel, Jr., M.D.

~Lois Dickey
Vitamin Department Manager

photo credit: Andrew Morrell Photography via photo pin cc

Green Food Supplements

Green food supplements have become popular for their high nutrient composition and especially for their high chlorophyll content.  Chlorophyll is the substance that makes plants grow, but in the body it detoxifies, deodorizes and soothes inflammation.  Chlorophyll also builds blood supply, activates enzymes and renews tissue.  Besides chlorophyll, most green foods are rich in beta-carotene, protein and neucleic acids (RNA and DNA) for cell renewal.

Among the green food supplements are the microalgae-spirulina, chlorella, wild blue green algae and the cereal grasses, wheatgrass and barley grass.

Microalgae are substances from the sea.  Microalgae were among the first forms on earth.  Spirulina is highly digestible with a mild detoxifying action and contains many essential nutrients.  Chlorella is similar but contains the most chlorophyll of the green foods.  It also contains more nucleic acids and a few less nutrients.  Wild blue green algae is the most detoxifying of the microalgae.

Cereal grasses are also an excellent source of chlorophyll and other nutrients, including many additional enzymes.  Some of these enzymes aid digestion, while others work as antioxidants, protecting the body from free-radical damage.  Wheatgrass and barley grasses are very similar, with barley grass being slightly easier to digest.  People who are allergic to wheat seem to be able to tolerate wheatgrass.

Caution:  Green food supplements may be rich in vitamin K, so caution should be exercised if you are taking anticoagulant medication.

~Lois Dickey
Vitamin Department Manager