Tag Archives: supplements

5 Things You Aren’t Taking For Your Migraines (But Should Be)

Before you read any further, consider signing up for Dr. Vreeland’s FREE webinar scheduled for March 24th, 2015 at 7:30PM. It’s called ‘Stop Your Migraines Naturally!’ Learn all the keys to reducing your migraines naturally and effectively.

Register here: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=EB55DC88874639

Migraine IIMigraine headaches can be debilitating. People who get them know this. Many of those who suffer also know treatment to prevent migraines can be ineffective. According to the statistics, more than 1 in 5 adults over the age of 18 will report having migraines (1). With that many people experiencing migraine headaches, it’s shocking to know that less than half of those with migraines are being treated effectively (2). Clearly, an alternative approach is necessary.

The symptoms of migraines can be completely life altering and include (3):

  • žIntense pulsing or throbbing pain in one area of the head.
  • žHypersensitivity to light, sound, and smell.
  • žNausea
  • žA variety of autonomic, cognitive, emotional, and motor disturbances including sweating or cold hands, paresthesia, temporary paralysis (hemiparesis), dizziness, vomiting, aphasia, or confusion.

Headaches may last as long as 3 or more days, and many sufferers experience chronic migraines in which one migraine is followed by another, then another. This leads to an almost unending cycle of pain.

However, there is hope. And it’s not in the form of toxic medications that may you feel sleepy, foggy, dull, or not like yourself. They are natural and they work. Here are the 5 things you should be taking to reduce your migraines.

1. Butterbur

Butterbur (Petastis hybridus) is a perennial shrub that has lilac-pink flowers and can grow up to three feet high. It is found throughout Europe, as well as in parts of Asia and North AmericaButterbur has been used for hundreds of years to treat aches and pains, including headache. Butterbur appears to act by influencing the inflammation associated with migraine. In another study group daily consumption of Petasites extract at a dose of 75mg, twice per day was demonstrated to decrease the frequency of migraine attacks by 48%, compared to the placebo group (p = 0.00102) (4). In a separate study migraine frequency improved in greater than or equal to 50% of the Butterbur group, while improvement in the placebo group was only 15% (5).

It is very important to note Butterbur from differing manufacturers varies in the quantity of the targeted active phytochemical group called petasins. A high quality Butterbur will possess distinguishable quantities of the six different petasins, including 3-desoxy-neopetasol, isoperasin, neo-petasin, petasin, neo-S-petasin and S-petasin.

2. Feverfew:

(Tanacetum parthenium) Feverfew is a daisy-like perennial, herbaceous herb. The name feverfew is derived from the Latin word febrifugia, meaning “fever reducer,” and was traditionally used as an antipyretic. Its use is long and storied with the 17th Century English herbalist Culpeper writing of the effectiveness of this herb for headache and uterine disorders (6). Feverfew, in doses of 50-100mg daily, has been shown to be effective for migraine prevention, reduction of nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound (7-9).

3. Riboflavin:

Referred to as vitamin B2, or vitamin G, is a water-soluble B-vitamin. It is heavily involved in the energy production pathways in the brain. This is, perhaps, the mechanism by which taking high dose riboflavin works to reduce migraine headaches. By increasing the brain’s efficiency with respect to energy, it is better able to reduce or prevent neurons (cells in the brain) from becoming over excited. Migraines are thought to be caused by a hyper-excitable brain. Reducing this hyper-excitability is key for some in reducing migraine frequency and severity. Prophylactic treatment with riboflavin (400mg/day) was demonstrated to both reduce migraine attack frequency and to attenuate the use of abortive anti-migraine therapy (10).

4. CoQ10:

Similar to the above mechanisms with respect to energy management in the brain, taking CoQ10 may assist in managing brain hyper-excitabilty. As a component of the electron transport chain, CoQ10 participates in aerobic cellular respiration, generating energy as ATP, and thus functions as a necessary component in cellular energy production. Ninety-five percent of the body’s energy is produced in this manner. In addition to CoQ10’s assistance in cellular energy production, it also functions as an antioxidant. CoQ10 has been proposed as a prophylactic for migraines, especially in children and women of childbearing age (11). In an open label investigation (non-blinded) one study demonstrated that CoQ10 at a dose of 150mg/day was effective as a migraine preventive (12).

5. Polyphenolic-like Compounds:

Say what? Exactly. All you need to know here is these compounds are antioxidants that prevent damage to many tissues in your body. We get them from many places including fruits, vegetables, spices, and others. Migraines as well as headache duration has been correlated to oxidative/antioxidative parameters, thus antioxidants are thought to be beneficial in migraines. Accordingly, “the hypothesis of oxidative stress in migraine is supported by various studies.”(13-16). Nutritional compounds, specifically antioxidant compounds like polyphenolic-like compounds, may assist in mitigating the effects that this stress may play in migraine pathology.

So, now what? Where do you get these wonderfully natural compounds to prevent your headaches? Dr. Vreeland has designed a comprehensive migraine support formula called MygranX. While the above ingredients may all be widely available, no one has combined them into one effective product until now. In conjunction with Biotics Research Corporation, Dr. Vreeland has designed and tested MygranX. It is exceptionally effective. Biotics Research has found the most potent and effective raw ingredients possible when making MygranX. Some patients report up to a 90% reduction in their migraines! Almost all patients who take MygranX have achieved some form of relief. It is very easy to take. Just 1 capsule in the morning and evening is effective for most.

MygranX

MygranX

MygranX is available only through healthcare professionals. You will need to contact your functional medicine specialist to gain access to MygranX. You may also contact Dr. Vreeland at the Vreeland Clinic.

References:

  1. Headache. 2013 Mar;53(3):427-36
  2. N Engl J Med 2002, 346:257-270.
  3. Pain. 2013 Jul 25. pii: S0304-3959(13)00389-8
  4. Neurology. December 28, 2004 63(12): 2240-2244.
  5. Eur Neurol. 2004 51:89–97.
  6. http://loadbalanced.naturalstandard.com/index-abstract.asp?create-abstract=feverfew.asp&title=Feverfew.
  7. Cephalalgia 2002;22:523-32.
  8. Cephalalgia 2005;25:1031-41.
  9. Neurology. 2012 Apr 24;78(17):1346-53.
  10. European Journal of Neurology. 2004 11:475–477.
  11. Neurology. 2005 64:713–715.
  12. Cephalalgia. 2002 Mar;22(2):137-41.
  13. Cephalalgia. 2004 24:37-43.
  14. Cephalalgia. 1997 17:580-584.
  15. Cephalalgia. 1994 14:215-218.
  16. Cephalalgia. 2003 23:39-42.
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Can Your Supplements Do This?

 

Recently, a patient told me their medical doctor stated emphatically that supplements were a waste of money. He was told supplements were not digested and passed out of his system without imparting any benefit.  Watch the video below to see what this is not true!

 

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Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?

Losing weight is a goal many people have.  Most would like it to happen quickly and with little effort.  For that reason, many turn to over-the-counter weight loss supplements that have very little evidence behind them.

I’m a big supporter of the supplement industry, but weight loss supplementation is one area that reputable nutrition companies stay away from.  This is for a very good reason – weight loss supplements don’t work.

See my video below talking about three popular weight loss supplements.

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Alzheimer’s Disease video blog

Below is another video blog.  This time we’re talking about Alzheimer’s disease and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing this devastating condition.  Enjoy!

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Do Supplements Kill?

Nutritional supplements

Supplement Aisle

A study recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has concluded that taking multi vitamins and several other supplements was actually associated with an increased risk of mortality (or death).  We’ve seen these studies before and I have several thoughts on them.

First, I do not believe supplements will increase your risk of death.  Supplements are exceptionally safe.  They are so safe, in fact, that they are all sold over-the-counter.  However, supplements are also very effective in helping people with a wide variety of conditions.  With that power can come potential for unwanted side effects.  We must understand that if something has the power to do good it also has the power to do bad.  Let’s break down the study and see how the authors came to the conclusion that they did.

They assessed the use of vitamin and mineral supplements in relation to total mortality in 38,772 older women in the Iowa Women’s Health Study; mean age was 61.6 years at baseline in 1986.  Supplement use was self-reported in 1986, 1997, and 2004.  Their conclusion to the study was as follows:

“In older women, several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality risk; this association is strongest with supplemental iron. In contrast to the findings of many studies, calcium is associated with decreased risk.”

I have several problems with this study. The first is that use of supplements was self-reported.  And the time frame with which they reported was years apart. This is a problem because you are asking people to remember what they are taking.  I do this every day in my practice and many of my patients can’t remember what they’re taking day-to-day and I see them on a monthly basis.

The study also only shows an association, not cause and effect.  This is dangerous because studies like this get huge headlines and inevitably the headlines shout about how dangerous supplements are when, in fact, they are very safe.

To show you just how flimsy an association link in a study may be here is a good example. Say you wanted to study breast cancer and you wanted to look at what is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. You might conclude that wearing make-up is associated with a much higher rate of breast cancer than not wearing make-up.  You came to this conclusion because you noticed that people who wear make-up get breast cancer at much higher rates that people who do not.  This sounds legitimate of the surface.  Perhaps there is something in the make-up that is carcinogenic.  Or perhaps people who wear make-up are much more likely to get breast cancer than people who do not for another reason. We know that breast cancer is far more common in women and they also happen to wear the most make-up.  An association can easily be shown between people who wear make-up and breast cancer, but it likely not for the right reasons.

Another shortcoming of the study is that the researchers did not know whether the women were taking the supplements for a specific health condition.  People often begin taking supplements because they do not feel well.  They may be experiencing sleep problems, low energy,  head aches or worse.  These symptoms may be signs of deeper problems. We cannot be sure these women did not die from the very condition they were trying to treat and not the supplements.

Thirdly, the increase in mortality was exceptionally small and likely is not clinically significant. What that means is that the results were so minuscule they have almost no observable effect.  It was also noted that the women who used the supplements were almost twice a likely to use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) while going through menopause.  HRT is known to increase the rates of many cancers.

The researchers did take hormone therapy into account in their analysis, along with several other potentially mitigating factors (including age, educational attainment, body mass index, diet, and physical activity).  What I don’t see on this list is prescription drug use.  This must be known for this study to hold any water! Drugs are obtained via prescription for one reason and one reason only – they are dangerous!  They are a leading cause of death in the United States!  If they did not consider drug use then how can they possibly conclude it was the supplements that increased mortality rates?  They can’t!

While I don’t agree with the conclusion of the study, I agree that men and women should seek the advice of someone trained in nutrition and skilled at building a personalized program for each individual.  I never recommend going to the health food store and picking up one of everything and beginning to take them.  As a matter of fact, I rarely recommend multi vitamins.  Not everyone needs more of everything.  Targeted nutrition should be your goal.

Remember, supplements are extremely safe and just because one study concludes that there is an association between supplements and mortality does not mean you should stop taking them, especially if they’ve benefited you.

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Genes, Alzheimer’s Disease and Your Choice

PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer's disease

Image via Wikipedia

New genes have been discovered that seem to be linked to Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).  AD currently affects over 5 million Americans and that number is expected to increase substantially by the year 2029.

This year the first baby boomers will reach their 65th birthdays. By 2029, all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old.  Ninety-five percent of all AD is in people 65 and older.

The discovery of new genes linked to AD is a step in the right direction.  Every bit of information that help scientists unlock the mystery of why this occurs puts us closer to being able to effectively treat AD.

Let’s pretend that we know every gene that is involved in the production of AD.  Let’s also pretend a test that exists to specifically detect all of these genes in you.  Would you want to find out?  What would you do if you had all of the genes linked to AD?

The truth of it is, there is nothing you could do to change your genes.  Your genes are your genes.  They are there and you can’t remove them.  What you can do, however, is change how they are expressed.  Just because a person has a specific gene does not mean it has to be expressed.  The expression of many of our genes is closely related to our environment.  Diet, exercise, smoking, pollution and stress are just a few things that can negatively or positively affect the expression of our genes.

So back to my first question.  What would you do if you had all the genes linked to AD?  You can’t change your genes, but you can change your risk factors.

There are many known risk factor that increase the risk of AD, independent of your genetic potential.  The number one risk is aging.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about that.  We are all going to get older which is not necessarily a bad thing.  It is much better than the alternative!

Known risk factors for AD that are controllable are as follows:

You will notice that these risk factors significantly overlap with one another.  You will also notice that when you control one risk factor you will impact another.  If you can control these risk factors in your life you will significantly reduce your risk of developing AD regardless of your genetic potential.
Cardiovascular health is perhaps the most important.  Cardiovascular disease causes a chronic, low grade reduction in blood delivery to the brain.  This is known as hypoperfusion.  This hypoperfusion is responsible for protein synthesis defects that later result in the classic AD neurodegenerative lesions.

To keep your cardiovascular system as healthy as possible make sure you eat an anti-inflammatory diet and exercise.  Fish oil is also something you should consider.  Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease mortality better than any other substance known.

Reduction of high blood pressure is also very important.  When blood pressure is too high it fuels a kind of scarring linked to later development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.  Controlling your blood pressure is actually very simple.  You must maintain a healthy weight first and foremost.  This, of course, means diet and exercise.  Increasing waistlines mean more tissue and blood vessels for your heart to push blood through. This puts a strain on the heart and increases the resistance the heart must push against.

Keeping a healthy cholesterol profile is essential.  However, the traditional tests from your doctor are probably not enough to tell whether you are at risk or not.  Traditional tests examine total cholesterol, HDL (“good”), LDL (“bad”) and triglycerides.  These are of some value, but they don’t tell the whole story.  What you must find out is the particle size.  In a nut shell, large and buoyant molecules of cholesterol are not as problematic as small and dense particles.  Your traditional test does not distinguish between the two.  Your traditional test might look very good, but a more advanced test may show that you are still very much at risk.  See my blog entry from last summer for more detailed information.

Diabetes is also extremely important to control.  Some references are referring to Alzheimer’s as Type III diabetes because of the biochemical similarities. Even being borderline diabetic raises the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia by 70%!  Diabetes’ hallmark is high blood sugar.  This high blood sugar leads to a phenomenon called advanced glycation end products or AGEs.  AGEs adversely affect the structure and function of proteins. In combination with oxidative stress brain function is easily affected.  Advanced glycation end products have been found to be much more prevalent in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients than in healthy controls. This process begins early on in the course of Alzheimer’s and there is also evidence that AGEs assist in the formation of plaques seen in AD.  Diet and exercise are the best ways to prevent diabetes and reduce your risk of AD.

While the study for a purely genetic link to AD will continue, a cure is likely many years away if one can even be found.  What we can control, however, are our lifestyle choices that activate our genes.  If we choose poorly, we are much more likely to activate unfavorable genes that cause disease.  If we choose wisely, we are more likely to activate genes that are favorable and reduce our risk of further disease.  The choice is yours.  Make the right one.

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How Your Diet Affects Your Mood

Depression and Bipolar

Food is fuel.  The fuel we put into our body determines how efficiently it runs.  It’s a pretty simple concept yet when it comes to brain function there is a disconnect for many physicians.

When people come to me for help with various conditions, dietary changes are almost always part of the program.  They are especially important if someone if suffering from a mood disorder.

If a poor diet can lead to poor function of the heart, gall bladder, immune system, pancreas, intestines, etc., then why couldn’t it lead to poor brain function? It can, but it’s always overlooked by traditional medicine.  Let me explain.

The Basics

Remember, food is fuel.  The neurons in your brain consume up to 40% of your circulating blood sugar at a resting state.  That figure can jump up to 80% when your brain is working hard like studying for a test or doing your taxes. Your blood sugar is the fuel your brain needs to keep going.

Low blood sugar occurs when people do not eat frequently enough or in an amount that satisfies the demands for energy of the entire body, including the brain.  Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, causes mood to change.  Most notably, people experience irritability. This irritability is relieved by simply eating food and allowing your blood sugar to rise back to a normal level.  Next time you’re feeling irritable and you haven’t eaten in a few hours, try eating a healthy snack.  It might just be the fix you’re looking for.

If something as simple as low blood sugar can alter your mood, what else can?

Alcohol

Alcohol is consumed the world over mainly for one reason and one reason only – it has mind altering properties. Let’s face it; alcohol does not taste good in the way that ice cream does.  People are not consuming it solely for the taste. The per capita consumption of ethanol in the United States is 2.31 gallons per year.  That means, on average, every American over the age of 15 consumes 2.31 gallons of pure alcohol per year.  This is equivalent to 702 beers, 410 glasses of wine or 197 shots per year, per person.

Alcohol works on the brain by affecting the neurotransmitter GABA.  GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.  Initially, consuming alcohol elevates mood and reduces anxiety and stress.  As a matter of fact, most current pharmaceuticals aimed at reducing anxiety work by acting on GABA.

However, continuing to consume alcohol has a downside.  When consumed to excess, moods begin to go down and depression is often the consequence.  It also causes sleepiness which illustrates alcohol’s powerful depressive effects.  Always remember, alcohol is a depressant and it’s this way because it acts on the inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA.

How Foods Affect Our Neurotransmitter Levels

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about neurotransmission and how getting your neurotransmitters measured is a good way to assess your mood status and possibly change it for the better.  I went into the details of some neurotransmitters and it would be good to read before continuing to read this post.  Click here to view it.

The neurotransmitters in our brain allow one nerve to talk to the next.  It is the level of these neurotransmitters, to a large extent, that govern how we feel.  Low levels of some neurotransmitters lead to anxiety while others may lead to depression.  The interplay between all of them is complex and a problem with mood is often due to more than low levels of a single neurotransmitter but there are primary players to blame in each mood disorder.

Carbohydrate Heaven

Many people have noticed that when they eat a meal that is high in refined carbohydrates they notice an elevation in mood.  So much so that people can often become addicted to this type of food just to feel good.  This is for one very real physiological fact – eating refined carbohydrates increases serotonin production in the brain.

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that most of the anti-depressant drugs like Prozac and Paxil work on.  They work by tricking the brain into thinking it has more serotonin than it actually does.  Consuming refined carbohydrates works by actually increasing serotonin levels.  Here’s how.

There is a barrier between our brain and our blood.  It prevents things from getting into the brain that should not.  It is very effective.  However, it also prevents necessary nutrients from getting in as well.  They need a special pass to  get in.  This includes the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is what the body uses to make serotonin.  If one consumes a diet very low in tryptophan, serotonin levels are likely to be low.  Tryptophan is found in foods that contain protein.

In order for tryptophan (an other amino acids) to get into the brain a transporter system exists.  It is called the large neutral amino acid transporter or the LNAA.  Competition for the LNAA is fierce.  Tryptophan is a weak competitor.  It is often left out of brain except when refined carbohydrates are consumed. When refined carbohydrates are consumed high amounts of insulin are secreted.  Insulin sends free amino acids out of our blood into our muscles when it is circulating.  Because tryptophan is a bound to albumin it is left unaffected by this process.  It is now free to circulate up to the brain where competition for the LNAA is now low and it gets into the brain more easily.  It also allows more serotonin to be produced.

Now, I hear what you’re saying.  I am not suggesting you go eat tons of refined carbohydrates to feel good!  As a matter of fact you should avoid them because they just lead to a blood sugar crash later in the day resulting in irritability.  Now you’re irritable and depressed – not a good combination!

What you should do is make sure you eat foods that are high quality proteins.  This includes mostly animal products like meat and eggs.  Also, supplementing your diet with 5-HTP is helpful.  This is the direct precursor of serotonin and is in fact a type of tryptophan. It passes into the brain freely and does not compete for the LNAA.

Not Enough B6

Vitamin B6 is an essential vitamin in many ways.  In terms of brain health, it is essential to allow the conversion of the neurotransmitter glutamate into GABA.

Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain.  When levels are too high seizures are known to occur.  At lower levels anxiety occurs.

GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter.  At very low levels seizures occur and when levels are slightly decreased anxiety is the result.

Glutamate ——–> GABA – GABA is converted from glutamate and B6 is required to do this.

A diet that is low in B6 will cause glutamate to build up in the brain and GABA levels will be low.  This may result in anxiety.  Foods that are highest in B6 are:

  • Spinach
  • Bell peppers
  • Turnip greens

Consuming these on a regular basis may help if your problem is the conversion of glutamate to GABA.  You may also have to supplement with B6.  This is easy to find over the counter.

No Fish? No Happy

Omega-3 fatty acids have been touted to help everything from heart disease to pain and inflammation.  Research also points to another aspect.  Brain health.  People who have the lowest level of a particular omega-3 called DHA report depression as a problem significantly more than people with the highest levels of DHA.

DHA is important for growing babies, but research is starting to show that it is important for overall brain health for adults as well.

Just how it wards off depression is not clear.  One theory suggests that because DHA is important for the insulation surrounding the nerves, low levels may prevent neurons from communicating effectively.  Whatever the reason, the research is pretty clear that low levels are not good for optimal brain function.

Consuming fish regularly is a good step.  However, more people will not be able to consume enough fish to get enough DHA.  Consider supplementing with a fish oil that is high in DHA.  Most nutrition companies now make fish oil that is high in DHA.  This may help ease your depression and prevent further episodes.

This list could go on and on.  The moral of the story is that what you eat can have a significant impact on how you feel.  If you want to feel good, inside and out, you must eat a healthy diet.  Hopefully some of these tips have helped.

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