At one time, conventional physicians simply did not believe in the concept of intestinal dysbiosis, in which the intestinal tract has an unhealthful mix of the 100 trillion bacteria thriving within it. This population of bacteria is called the microbiome, a word for years ignored in medical schools and barely recognized by gastroenterologists. It was […]
Leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal hyperpermeability, is a disorder that never appeared in any medical textbook I encountered in school. Nor have I seen articles about it in JAMA or the New England Journal of Medicine. I first learned of its existence at an integrative medicine meeting many years ago, and since then I’ve lost count […]
If you read the history of alternative medicine in the US, you’ll be as intrigued as I was by its preoccupation with your gastrointestinal system and feces. Diet, digestion, absorption, elimination, and possessing a wondrous “inner hygiene” were recurring themes originating in the late 19th century, when Kellogg’s cereals were the mainstay health food at […]
The minerals zinc and copper can be purchased as single products, but there’s good reason to consider a combination product that pairs the two.
Zinc blocks the absorption and enhances the excretion of copper when taken over time. So, when zinc is recommended long term (over many months) for any condition–from arthritis to prostate problems or even Alzheimer’s–it’s important to get some copper as well. A combination product will help prevent a copper deficiency and the anemia that can develop as a result.
Vitamin D is called the sunlight vitamin because the body produces it when the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays strike the skin. It is the only vitamin the body manufactures naturally and is technically considered a hormone. Essential for building strong bones and teeth, vitamin D also helps to strengthen the immune system and may prevent some types of cancer.
In the eighteenth century, seasoned sailors found that by sucking on lemons they could avoid scurvy, a debilitating disease that often developed during long voyages when fresh fruits and vegetables were scarce. When the lemon’s key nutrient was formally identified in 1928, it was named ascorbic acid for its anti-scurvy, or antiscorbutic, action. Today ascorbic acid is widely known as vitamin C.
In l948, scientists were successful in identifying a nutritional substance in calf’s liver that could prevent pernicious anemia, a potentially deadly disorder that mainly affects older adults. The compound—vitamin Bl2 (or cobalamin)—turned out to be the last vitamin to be discovered.
A high-quality vitamin B complex supplement will provide, in one convenient pill, a full range of B vitamins, including biotin, choline, folic acid, inositol, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), and the six “numbered” B vitamins–vitamin B-1 (thiamin), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine), and B-12 (cobalamin). Combination products can simplify the process of taking individual B vitamins for a range of ailments including alcoholism, depression, diabetes, hair problems, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and stress.
This famed vision-enhancing nutrient was isolated in 1930, the first fat-soluble vitamin to be discovered. The body acquires some of its vitamin A through animal fats. The rest it synthesizes in the intestines from the beta-carotene and other carotenoids abundant in many fruits and vegetables.
Well before the first European settlers arrived in North America, Native American tribes had discovered that by scraping away the rough outer bark of the majestic slippery elm tree (Ulmus rubra), they could uncover a remarkable healing substance in the inner bark. They beat the bark into a powder and added water to create a “slippery” concoction ideal for soothing toothaches, healing scrapes, and dispelling constipation.
Quercetin may be a major reason why eating an apple a day has been associated with good health. Quercetin, primarily found in apples and onions, is a type of flavonoid (plant pigment) and serves as a building block for other members of the flavonoid family.
Essential for hundreds of chemical reactions that occur in the body every second, the mineral magnesium has received surprisingly little attention over the years. Recent findings, however, suggest that it also has important health-promoting benefits, from an ability to prevent heart disease to a role in treating such chronic conditions as fibromyalgia and diabetes.
Naturopathic doctors have long recommended a classic herbal digestive combination (variously known as Robert’s or Bastyr’s Formula) for controlling the intestinal pain and inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both inflammatory bowel diseases.
Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid. “Nonessential” means that the body can create its own supply if the diet is lacking in glutamine-rich sources, such as poultry, fish, and legumes. Few people who are basically healthy and follow a balanced diet are deficient in this amino acid, one of the most abundant in the bloodstream. But there are some important exceptions.
Folic acid, also called folate or folacin, is a B vitamin with a solid reputation for protecting against birth defects and heart disease. If adults were to get an adequate amount of this vitamin, it is estimated that 50,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease could be prevented each year in the United States alone. Moreover, common birth defects could be cut nearly in half. Other ailments, such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain types of cancer may respond to the effects of folic acid as well.
Heralded for its heart-healthy actions, fish oils offer high concentrations of polyunsaturated fats called omega-3-fatty acids. While all fish contain these fats, cold-water fish–salmon, sea bass, tuna, trout, mackerel–are particularly rich sources because of their diet: plankton packed with omega-3s. Interestingly, the colder the water, the more omega-3s in the plankton. Cold-water fish also boast the most potent forms of omega-3s: the essential fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). Consumed as part of a fish-filled diet or in supplement form, omega-3s have myriad healing powers.
One of the safest medicinal herbs, chamomile is a soothing, gentle relaxant that has been shown to work for a variety of complaints from stress to menstrual cramps. This herb has a satisfying, applelike aroma and flavor (the name chamomile is derived from the Greek kamai melon, meaning ground apple), and it’s most often taken as a delicious, mild therapeutic tea. Concentrated extracts of chamomile are also added to healing creams and lotions or packaged as pills and tinctures.
Boswellia, also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” comes from the Boswellia serrata tree that grows in the dry hills of India. For centuries, traditional Indian healers have taken advantage of the anti-inflammatory properties of the tree bark’s gummy resin, called salai guggal. Modern preparations made from a purified extract of this resin and packaged in pill or cream form are used to reduce inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike conventional NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen–the accepted treatments for joint inflammation–boswellia doesn’t seem to cause stomach irritation. It also may be effective for back pain and certain chronic intestinal disorders.