by Dr. Randy
There are so many types of nutritional supplements, and so much information and promotion, that it’s often difficult to know what supplements are appropriate. Taking a general multivitamin is no longer considered adequate. And the number of specific supplements available is overwhelming. I have suggested a program in other articles, but in this article I would like to just categorize the different types of supplements that are helpful to take in different situations.
There are a few supplements that are a good idea for everyone to take, including babies, young children, and adults.
Vitamin D: Virtually everyone is deficient in vitamin D because of inadequate sun exposure for most of the year. Everyone should be taking vitamin D and have a target blood level of 50-100 ng/mL. It usually takes 5,000-10,000 IU/day to bring up your level this high.
Omega 3 fats: The typical sources for these beneficial fats are fish oil and flax seed oil. They support brain function and prevent inflammation. A typical adult dose is about 1,500 mg of EPA.
Probiotics: Healthy immune function and digestive health depend on a healthy digestive tract lining and the right balance of intestinal bacteria. A broad spectrum probiotic with at least 20 billion CFU is a good idea.
As we age our bodies produce less antioxidants that prevent inflammation and tissue damage. Taking some antioxidants after age 50 is a good idea. And taking the most potent antioxidants gives you more bang for your buck. Some of the best antioxidants are N-acetyl-cysteine (the building block of your body’s own production of glutathione), resveratrol, astaxanthin, CoQ10, and alpha lipoic acid.
Immune system support
Anyone struggling with low resistance to infections or autoimmune disease could benefit from taking adaptogens that balance immune function. The best product for this purpose is a medicinal mushroom formula containing reishi, shitaki, cordyceps, and others. Astragalus is an herb that serves this function, and often these formulas will include astragalus as well.
Although it is most beneficial to get vitamins from fruits and vegetables, taking a high quality multivitamin can provide insurance that you’re getting what you need. If vitamins are natural and food sources they will generally be better absorbed.
There are many supplements that can treat specific imbalances in the respiratory tract, digestive system, brain function and cognition, mood disorders, and other health problems. These include amino acids, specific herbs, and vitamins/minerals. A trained nutritionist/herbalist can provide prescriptions for your unique set of symptoms and imbalance.
Our stressful lives often result in energetic deficiency states, including adrenal insufficiency and other hormone deficits (thyroid, sex hormones, or neurotransmitters). Tonification treatment with specific herbs and supplements can bolster the underlying deficiency and help reestablish healthy function of glands that contribute
Inflammation is often a major factor in the pathology of chronic disease including heart disease, arthritis, organ degeneration, diminished brain function, and cancer. An anti-inflammatory nutritional support program is essential in controlling these disease processes.
by Dr. Randy
During the Winter season it’s a good idea to be prepared for colds, flus, sore throats, and coughs. Having a home kit of remedies for these acute illnesses can help to stop these symptoms quickly.
Elderberry extract is a great antiviral that has been shown in studies to reduce the duration of colds and flus.
A Chinese herbal formula: Children’s Clear and Release (Golden Flower) or Windbreaker (KanHerb) to relieve the attack of wind/cold on the body (1/2 tsp twice/day)
Homeopathics (Here are a few remedies that are commonly indicated for winter illnesses. Take 2 pills three times/day.)
Belladonna for fevers
Pulsatilla for colds
Arsenicum for GI viruses with vomiting or diarrhea
Bryonia for coughs
Gelsemium for flu symptoms with lethargy
Wellness Formula (Source Naturals) or Viracid (Orthomolecular) at the onset of viruses
A Chinese herbal formula: Yin Chiao pills
I am always available by email and phone to consult about illnesses and more complicated symptoms.
by Dr. Randy
Like many other disease processes associated with inflammation, heart problems can be prevented. A simple plan that addresses inflammation is often the answer. Gradual increases in blood pressure readings may be the first warning signs that inflammation is occurring.
The most common cause of high blood pressure is damage to artery walls and repair with plaque buildup. The damage is caused by free radicals and an inflammatory reaction. Free radicals are generated by toxic products in the environment (like pollutants) or in foods (like pesticides). Free radicals strip electrons from cells in the body in a process called oxidation. The cells are then damaged and become nonfunctional. In the artery wall, this damage is like a burn that the body repairs with plaque. This repair process narrows the artery, blood pressure rises, and the artery is in danger of not delivering blood supply to sensitive organs like the heart muscle or the brain. The result can be heart attacks or strokes.
Although cholesterol is the main component of plaque in the artery, an elevated cholesterol level in the blood is not the cause of the plaques. “High” cholesterol is not the cause of heart attacks, and lowering cholesterol levels does not prevent heart attacks. In fact eating the right saturated fats is important in maintaining health. This may involve including eggs, butter, and coconut oil in the diet along with meats free of hormones and pesticides.
Avoid chemicals that cause free radical formation. Use natural cleaning products in your home that are free of petrochemicals. Avoid pesticides in foods as much as possible. Unfortunately, everyone is exposed to petrochemicals in the form of gasoline and oil products and pesticides used outdoors.
Exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, and get out into nature. All of these prevent inflammation.
A prevention program will also include antioxidant supplements that scavenge free radicals. Glutathione is the body’s own potent antioxidant. As we age we produce less glutathione, but the amino acid cysteine is a building block of glutathione. Take n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), at least 500 mg a few days a week. Other great antioxidants include resveratrol, acetyl l carnitine, astaxanthin, and CoQ10, which is specifically beneficial for the heart and arteries. Be cautious about taking too many antioxidants. The body needs to develop a certain amount of inflammation in order to ward off invaders. You may want to alternate the antioxidants you take on a weekly basis.
Take fish oil, which contains EPA, a profound anti-inflammatory fatty acid. A daily dose of 1,000-2,000 mg of EPA is best. And finally turmeric (curcumin) is a great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, either in cooking or as a supplement. The most readily absorbed curcumin supplements are by Curcum-evail by Designs for Health and Theracurmin.
Holistic treatment of high blood pressure and other forms of cardiovascular disease includes lifestyle changes and natural supplements. Most of the preventive measures discussed above are also appropriate in a treatment plan. In addition, Chinese herbal medicine provides specific formulas for the treatment of high blood pressure. A combination of one of these specific formulas along with constitutional treatment using herbs and/or homeopathy rounds out a treatment program. If other illness patterns are present such as metabolic syndrome with elevated blood sugar levels and weight problems, then specific treatment that includes those issues will be necessary.
Exercise to maintain adequate circulation and oxygen transport. Practice some form of meditation, yoga, or conscious relaxation to counteract the stress reactions of the sympathetic nervous system. And maintain a whole foods diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, free of refined sugar, processed foods, and toxic chemicals. Other health-promoting practices include frequent exposure to nature, humor and laughter, and the cultivation of loving kindness in relationships.
A holistic plan that is individualized for the specific set of symptoms and dynamics in your body will help to maintain a high level of health and prevent the cascade of diseases that characterize aging.
by Dr. Randy
I hope all you parents are having fun out there with your little witches and space cadets this Halloween. Parades, costumes, and treats are a wonderful ritual of childhood. Then evening comes and you hit the streets with your munchkins, proud of their costumes and ready to fill their bags with treats. Then parents are faced with the task of candy overload. What to do about those ten pound bags of Snickers and Tootsie Rolls? All of the diligence spent during the year to avoid corn syrup comes back to haunt you on Halloween.
Here’s a suggestion. Suggest that your kids can pick a few favorite items from their stash to keep and then trade the rest for a toy at their favorite toy emporium. The toy stores are happy to take your donation and put it out in a bowl for customers. Your child is happy with the new treasured toy. And you are relieved that all of that corn syrup is out of the house.
Happy Halloween and Enjoy the Memories!
And anyone who would like to share pictures of your gallant knights and Supergirls , please send them along to me.
by Dr. Randy
Life has many stresses, and often we are juggling tasks, rushing to activities, and putting out fires in a busy schedule. All of these activities stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. They keep us in a mode of constantly handling emergencies.
The sympathetic nervous system is the fire fighter that responds to demands and perceived threats. This is a very useful function for keeping us safe and alive in dangerous situations. We respond almost instantaneously to a threat. Our foot hits the brake before we think about it, our hand recoils from a hot pan without our conscious intent. People who can handle a barrage of daily crises are often seen as efficient. But persistent stimulation and vigilance creates tension, and that tension can take its toll on bodily functions, resulting in high blood pressure, headaches, inflammation, heart disease, and anxiety.
The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) calms the mind and body. It provides a counterbalance to the many distractions and calamities of the day. It is exceedingly simple to activate the PNS through a whole range of nurturing activities: meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and even just being in nature. These relaxing activities cause a release of tension and its harmful effects. If we incorporate these activities into our daily routine the result will be a sense of ease, comfort, and increased happiness.
Just doing deep breathing will cause a shift from tension to relaxation. Deep abdominal breathing is a simple technique that can be done at a desk several times a day, at a red light in traffic, or during any short break in a hectic schedule. Sit for one minute and just focus on the in and out of breathing. Make this a habit through the day to relieve stress.
More formal meditation sessions in the morning and evening provide a powerful tool for activating the PNS, resulting in long-term benefit for muscular tension, anxiety, and adrenal stress. It will help keep blood pressure under control and calm the mind to become more efficient with a relaxed and less frenetic pace. Many guided meditations are available online. Those from Insight Meditation Centers are especially helpful and easy to access.
For those who prefer a more active form of relaxation practice, yoga or tai chi may be a better fit. Yoga provides the benefits of meditation with a stretching and energetic practice. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are moving forms of meditation. These will require regular classes, but the popularity of yoga has created many opportunities and choices through yoga studios and classes at fitness centers in most communities. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are often offered as a series through local recreation centers. They are especially suitable for older patients who need gentle movement forms.
Getting out into nature has been documented in countless studies to counteract stress. Any form of exposure through hikes, walks outdoors, the ocean, or the forest will benefit physiological functions and relieve tension. Similarly, exposure to animals is beneficial whether they are pets, wild birds, or squirrels. Take breaks from work and get outdoors. Take children to the park. It’s good for them too. Put these activities into your calendar and make time to just enjoy the trees and clouds.